Join us for our last discovery feature of the year in Firsts, we finish the year strong unearthing a new set of sonic gems.
Words: Karl Johnson
With so much new music to choose from for our (often) weekly Firsts feature, the task of whittling it down to just five artists is a tough one. With South London trash-pop duo Shelf Lives taking the cover with their snarling electronics, our other selections represent our need for the perfect balance of darkness, instrumental, lo-fi and sheer songwriting. There’s bags of promise below, we hope you find something to love and follow to the ends of the ear… internet.
‘Mark Twain’ (Not Sorry Mom Records)
South London’s Shelf Lives are on a run, new single Mark Twain is every inch the promise we hoped for following their self-titled debut single back in October. If their debut had all the raucous dance-rock energy of a teenager with too many E numbers in their system, Mark Twain offers an effortless groove and cool that kicks with a subtle maturity and progression. The track harks back to the joyous electronic-rock of noughties-era Peaches or Yeah Yeah Yeahs but brings with it a raw energy and disregard for trend and rules that new bands in London need right now. Their debut mini-album Yes, offence will be released in April 2022.
‘Harp On’ (False Peak Records)
Grunge-gaze or Sludge-pop? Take your pick on which way Terra Pines‘ haunting new single swings. The Brisbane trio offer up a sound complete with shimmering guitars, low-slung bass grooves dreamy vocal melodies that hits you straight in the chest. Almost a perfect soundtrack to winter daydreams and trudging through snow on long walks, Harp On revels in a feeling of unease, solitude and uncertainty, it’s incredible to think the tight-knit trio writing this music live in a humid subtropical climate. The lyricism floats through the track with ease, by the time the chorus hits the melodies ride windswept on the sails of the icy guitar sound, leaving the listener in a state of frozen euphoria. Harp On acts as the second single from Terra Pines’ upcoming full-length Downbeats, due in early 2022.
‘Good to Go!’ (City Slang)
The new single by Los Bitchos feels like the soundtrack to the best dream you’ve ever had, one of those rare moments when everything aligns in life. Guitars jangle and seem to sprinkle sunshine on the listener, the subtly of the synth sound seems to fuel the bass groove to dig deeper, the drumming completes the psychedelic jigsaw puzzle. Good to Go! feels equally as danceable as it does immersive – follow those searching guitar lines at your own risk – and oozes a mixed bag of influences from good-time surf to Argentine cumbia. Who needs lyrics when your music and videos are this much of a hoot! Expect the band’s debut album Let The Festivities Begin! on February 4th via City Slang.
‘Balcony’ (Sad Club)
Released in the thoughtful and reflective month of December, is Balcony by new project TV Room. Oozing the unresolved and unsaid things that rattle around our one-track brains after a break up, Balcony offers a heart-warming insight into the mind of a romantic, putting into story and song what many of us have felt, yet failed to say out loud. Balcony – the project of deep tan drummer Lucy Rushton – pulls the stopper out of that pent-up, post break-up vial of emotion and replaces it with a warm feeling of journeying on. Instrumentally it’s an act of beautiful minimalism, swimming bass grooves, violin and keys combine with wafer-thin layers of vocals, bringing with it a potent lyrical underbelly.
‘A Laugh And A Half’ (Fierce Panda)
Bringing a festive cheer to the end of a dark year is Enjoyable Listens. The Oxford duo, fronted by Luke Duffett – if you’ve seen him live, you’ll know he can climb anything – fuse a lyrical cleverness and everyday wit with a truly magnetic brand of honest songwriting, live echoing the unique charm of a young Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring or a Jarvis Cocker on the toilet circuit. If their debut EP A Professional Selection wasn’t enough to have you hooked (what do you mean you haven’t listened to it?), this small slice of sonic gold will warm your cockles until then.
Find it all on our HOH Top Tips playlist here.