This week’s Seven Plays epitomises a problem we have at BBC Introducing. It’s something of a lads club/accidental sausage party. I tried, I really did. Sadly though, there just weren’t many girls getting me excited on the Uploader this week. Great and lovely though the tracks by les femmes were, there seems to be a pretty pervasive notion that all young girls should/can do is be a solo singer with a guitar, often singing about love. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; just think of Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, even Patti Smith. But they were pushing something, and in the case of the latter especially, more than happy to take to a band when duty called. Nowadays, any girls doing anything different are told they’re crazy “edgy” or far worse, a “gimmick”. So girls, en masse, you’ve gotta push those boundaries. You don’t need to settle, and above all, you don’t need to be a gimmick. Do your worst.
Rhetoric over. Cue the music.
Heuse ft. Chris Linton & Emma Sameth – Stones
Chris Linton is one rare artist with whom I really have to sit and ponder which track to include in which week, because they’re all so great and he’s got so many coming out that I can barely keep up. Moving slightly away from his singer-songwriter roots into his new incarnation/alter-ego as lyricist and vocalist on major tracks by big time producers, ‘Stones’ follows swift on the flighty heels of his and Unknown Brain’s’Superhero’, a track which as this was being written had near enough 3 million Youtube plays. ‘Stones’ though, with the added vocal prowess of Emma Sameth and the production of New Delhi’s Heuse, goes from what could be a generic Electro track to something with real soul, where the crescendos of the lyrics are matched by the dropping of the beats. Don’t let me lead you into thinking it’s soppy though: this is a major tune.
Find Emma Sameth on Twitter here
Tourists – Masquerade
I feel blessed. Not many bands can make a swooping, psychedelic Tame Impala-meets-Gengahr dream-pop delight which doesn’t sound like a pastiche. Not only have Tourists managed that with absurd aplomb, but they’re a local band who I can actually see play for less than £100. ‘Masquerade’ sees Tourists, with the aid of famed producer James Bragg, take a heavier, more layered and journeyed road with their sound, dragging you on a tipsy summer day trip in the vein of ‘Fear and Loathing’ Impossible to predict or pin down to one genre, ‘Masquerade’s honestly something of a masterpiece.
Nightcars – Neon Girl
A sultry, pulsating Indie number, Nightcar’s ‘Neon Girl’ snuck up on me.Tinkling synths meet with some Miguel-level saucy vocals and catchy chorus to create the sort of song which would be on the Drive soundtrack, if only it were a slightly less brutal film. An 80s flash forward to what things could have been if they weren’t so restrained in spandex, this Plymouth/Madrid band have done brilliantly.
Check out Nightcars on Twitter
Josh Beer – Girl Behind The Bar
This track is an out and out great time. A rollicking romp through an angsty night out, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was Jake Bugg. Honestly, I think Josh Beer is better. Despite how obviously ‘Girl Behind The Bar’ draws from old school influences, it manages to feel authentic. A jangling ho-down of a number, the distortion just makes me assume that this was recorded live in a straw-on-the-floor bar on a battered microphone whilst said girl in the bar wandered around, bemused by the crooner so keen on her. Nice job Mr. Beer.
Tors – Now We Fall
This is another track which made me beam/internally weep with joy. Beautiful, considered and haunting in its use of some of the most atmospheric harmonies I’ve ever heard (see the band below for the others), Tors’ ‘Now We Fall’s redolent of early Half Moon Run. Pounding with a delicately urgent drumbeat from the midpoint, an increase in the desperation of both lyrics and vocals before the bridge and a beautifully joyous turn to the late harmonies, the whole thing feels like a lesson in creating narrative in a song without necessarily needing a story. It’s utterly stunning.
Haunt The Woods – The Line
As far as I can think, other than arena sets of my favourite artists ever, I can’t think of a better live band than Haunt The Woods. I never believed that their ferocity, their passion and the way they all in their different roles just seem to burn in one blinding musical flame could translate to records. I’m more than happy to accept being wrong. New offering ‘The Line’ showcases not only the well recognised lyrical prowess of front-man Jonathan, but how well they as a group know their own sound. They’re a perfectly formed rough cut of gemstone who know that they don’t need an elaborate setting to show it, nor do they have to scream their prowess from the rooftops with elaborate and hollow set pieces or scales for the sake of scales. Everything’s restrained, considered, tailored to perfectly fit the talents of each member; just listen to Phoenix’s guitar on this track. It’s not often you get an initially metal guitarist in a folk outfit, but christ does he make this song as he screams from the strings while Jonathan wails his cathartic crescendo. I’ve loved everything they’ve ever done, but this might just be their best yet.
Balafre. – If I Could See
I have no idea what their name means, but I like it and I really like them. A prime example of what could easily have just been a ballad with a guitar, the shrouding of the vocal in a light echo, the distant singing of electric guitar and the almost primal drumbeat make ‘If I Could See’ an understated wonder. One of my hopes for the summer: that I get to watch them play this in a tent somewhere.