Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Evening's Empire - Tracks of the Year

So, there goes 2013. I hope that you all had a great year, and if not, fuck it, it's gone now so we can head into 2014 with the same optimism which we start every year with (before inevitably letting the inner Brit in us take hold once more to heap a healthy dose of cynicism into day-to-day life).

2013 for me has been a year which has seen me getting more involved in music blogging and the industry in general. This has meant that - not only have I had less sleep this year than any other in living memory - but I've also had the immeasurable privilege of being exposed to more music than I can rightfully consume. The below are some of the stand out tracks from the past twelve months..... I hope you find something new to love:

30. Dan Casey - Empty City

29. Fyfe – Solace

28. Everything Everthing – Undrowned

27. Denai Moore – Gone

26. Dan Croll - Compliment My Soul  
25. Seasfire – Falling  
24. Caitlin Rose – Old Number  
23. Story Books – Simple Kids

22. Rhodes – Raise Your Love

21. Marika Hackman – Cinnamon  
20. Mononoke – Alice  
19. Farewell JR – Night Wolves  
18. Okkervil River – It Was My Season  
17. Fossil Collective – Let It Go  
16. The Superman Revenge Squad – Lately I’ve Found Myself Regressing  
15. The National - Sea Of Love

14. Phosphorescent - Song For Zula  
13. London Grammar – Strong  
12. Frank Turner - Plain Sailing Weather  
11. Keaton Henson - Lying To You  
10. Frightened Rabbit – The Woodpile  
9. Laura Marling – Once  
8. Night Beds – Tenn

7. MONEY - Hold Me Forever  
6. Chvrches - Mother We Share  
5. Nathaniel Rateliff - Don't Get Too Close  
4. Volcano Choir – Byegone  
3. Daughter – Youth  
2. Phoria – Red  
1. Sivu - Better Man Than He 
My undisputed TOTY. I first heard 'Better Man Than He' back in January on the John Kennedy XFM show, and 11 months later it's still on heavy rotation. The hugely talented Sivu released several EP's across the year which showcased his unbelievable songwriting talent and left-field pop styings. With a full-length album due for release early in 2014, he's one of the year's most promising artist.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Track of the Day: Paul Thomas Saunders - Good Women

'Good Women' marks Paul Thomas Saunders' first steps into the big leagues.

Following two self-released EPs in 2011 and 2012, both of which were recorded in a cottage in the grounds of a stately home, he has now landed a record contract with Atlantic Records.

Having taken some time away from the spotlight to write his full length debut, (though still managing to go on tour with Julia Stone, Bombay Bicycle Club and Frightened Rabbit) Paul has now returned with his Beautiful Desolation LP due for release in the Spring. 'Good Women' is the lead single and states the young songwriters and intentions going forward.

It's a hell of a statement; fusing beautiful, atmospheric pop, jangling synths and downbeat lyrics. His vocal line really soars with a young optimism, yet a touch of vulnerability. If you like your pop, intelligently written, but still full of melodic hooks, then this may well be one to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The UK Blog Sound Of 2014 - Long List Revealed

The Concept

The idea of the UK Blog Sound Poll first started back in 2011. The idea wasn't to criticise the BBC poll (this year's was released yesterday), but simply a chance to offer an alternative, and to give some much deserved emerging talent some extra publicity.

Previous lists have shown the A&R talents of its contributors, with the 2011 list contained some interesting alternatives to the BBC list, including Mercury Prize winners Alt-J and Bastille who have found huge commercial success in the UK in 2013. The 2012 list was more similar to the BBC list with Haim being the runaway winners, followed closely by Chvrches.

This Year

2014's poll is the biggest yet with 59 blogs each nominating their 3 favourite emerging artists (blog list at the bottom of the page). All bloggers are based in the UK, though the choices of music can come from around the world -it's worth noting that this year however, 15 of the 16 artists are British.

The Longlist

Here are the 16 bands which made the long list. I'm really happy that two of my choices have made the cut (the wonderful Sivu and Marika Hackman). The winning act and close runners up will be revealed on the 2nd of January in a short list of three. 

Why not give some of the below a listen and find your new favorite band....

Sultry electronic music with a hint of soul from Los Angeles - the only non-UK act on the list.

Cinematic and vast indie rock from Manchester

Singer songwriter with a bluesy voice

Dark and fiery indie rock band

Genre hopping sister duo from Cornwall

Raw d-i-y indie rock two piece from Glasgow

Edgy sweetly melodic pop duo from Brighton

Endearing East London singer who sits somewhere between pop, indie and folk

Previously known as Wall, creator of delicate, brooding, intimate pop

Singer songwriter with haunting folk references

Dreamy sounding band that combine electronics, acoustic music and ambient atmospherics with near operatic vocals.

Brighton duo that play gritty lo-fi rock with attitude

Stripped back acoustic singer songwriter

Idiosyncratic singer songwriter

Calm, atmospheric folk musician

Edgy rock band who take references from grunge and indie.

Let me know what you think of the list, and please use the hashtag #blogsound2014 so we can get a real communal discussion going.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Track of the Day: Cloud - Cars & It's Autumn

'It's funny how, I'm happy now I'm singing bout my sadness' utters an emotive Taormina, but with more than a hint of wry irony upon his tongue.

Cars & It's Autumn is the second single taken from NY (via Boston and LA) outfit, Cloud's, incredible LP released back in August on the cult label, Audio Antihero: Specialists in Commercial Suicide. Earning plaudits from the likes of Pitchfork ('astoundingly accomplished') and DiS ('such a rewarding listen') it was a record characterised by off-beat pop sensibilities, nostalgia driven lyrics and ambitious soundscapes.

When I first listened to the album, I too was truly blown away - but amongst the album's many highlights, Cars & It's Autumn stood as one of it's finest moments. A down-tempo and discordant opening passage, thriving on a story of regret and despair, bursts to life at the narrator's realisation, 'It's funny how, I'm happy now I'm singing bout my sadness'. From this moment on, it feels as though the worst is behind us, and the shoots of a better tomorrow are starting to grow.

This commences a beautiful piano sequence, spanning three and a half minutes, which layers with vocal howls, off-kilter percusion and regal brass. It's simply stunning.

At just 21, the shoots of a better tomorrow for Cloud are plain to see for anyone who's had the privilege of being exposed to their music.