This week’s discovery issue arrives stacked full of interesting sounds.
FIRSTS | PHOTO OF SEABASS | WORDS BY KARL JOHNSON
Let’s raise a glass to all the artists big and small that helped us through lockdown by releasing music, taking a risk in uncertain circumstances. Live performances look set to return, with venues at a reduced capacity or outdoors gigs with a seated crowd, it’s a good start. Live streaming shows direct from venues seem to be the thing right now, it does make up for the sometimes dodgy sound quality on IG Live, however there is still no crowd interaction. I suppose Nick Cave cracked it with his intimate concert at Alexandra Palace, just him, a lyric sheet and a grand piano. Though many may take a punt on a £15 ticket to see Nick (a safe bet perhaps), I’m unsure if this would work for artists without an already dedicated following. A sink or swim moment for sure for the grassroots music industry, but swim on together we must.
Firsts is a weekly deep search, a collection of intriguing new releases and first features that have occupied the Hard Of Hearing stereo this week. Tracks featured here find their way onto our new music playlist on Spotify, which you can follow below.
North London’s Seabass (one of the band names that I’ve heard in a while, next to Squid) make some seriously dreamy music. While they earn their pop chops on their latest release ‘Daisy Surf’, the swimming melodies and glistening guitar echos reach for something more new wave. The five-piece combine razor sharp, interweaving guitar and basslines that block out real life noise to allow us to explore the depths of our own sub-aquatic daydreams.
Melbourne-via-Wollongong artist Obscura Hail has shared a fuzzy new single entitled ‘Doomer’, a track with a warm and enticing sound that tackles the idea of understanding humanity’s major challenges, exploring privilege and yet we often don’t do enough to tackle these issues. Fluid chord changes and energetic instrumental textures support a unique vocal delivery as Sean Conran’s finds clarity in the depths of his own fuzz.
The Brighton band’s second ever single lands in the shape of ‘Strangers’, a track which focuses in on ghostly storytelling propelled by waves of anxiety-inducing instrumentation. The tight-knit four-piece gather momentum and build swaying towers of tension which courses through the veins of ‘Strangers’ acting as a lifeline. Thrashing guitars and crashing symbols rain down on the track stirring up emotion and marking out a truly haunting soundscape, as did the early singles of our favourites Esben and the Witch.
The hairs on the back of my arms are on end, vocalist Alli Walls has a vocal range that balances grit and beauty on a knife-edge, matching the slow-churning grunge from Denver, Colorado’s new exports. Haunting, delicate and truly atmospheric, yet with the heavy qualities you’d expect from any grunge band worth their salt, ‘Sane’ forms part of three tracks released as Star Garbage’s debut single.
Town Of Cats
Bristol’s Town Of Cats might be the most atmospheric nine-piece jazz-funk outfit out there. Combing elements of Afrobeat and Latin music, the collective make sprawling, tight-knit grooves that allow you to involuntarily shuffle towards the dance floor. ‘Lemons’, the band’s latest release, combines a lightning-speed vocal delivery alongside unstoppable rhythms. Town Of Cats patiently build their way to each energetic payoff, utilising the grandeur of brass instruments, cutting organ sounds and unique drum patterns, providing a sound very much of their own making.