After a considerably longer than intended hiatus, Seven Plays is back and with a not bad batch to start things off again. So without further adieu, the recent best of this fair county.
For the full playlist head here, or read on for the track by track breakdown.
Matthew and Me – Every Day
Some songs feel like being swamped and swaddled in something; others feel like being buoyed up. ‘Every Day’, and indeed every Matthew and Me track, sounds like the latter. I was lucky enough to hear a taster of this before mastering, and even then I thought it was perfect. Matthew and Me, also known as the incredibly lovely Matthew Board and Lucy Fawcett have been building a solid base for themselves from Totnes for some time now, and count Huw Stephens among their staunch fans (whilst in Devon, Stephens made a specific detour to meet the great Mr Board). More melancholy than previous offering ‘Silver’, the masters of light and space make ‘Every Day’ somehow sound like summer haze. A light touch with breathy synths and just enough percussion to drive the piece along, the real force is Board’s vocals. Diving from heights to some sombre depths, it feels as though it has an internal language of it’s own, like a whole world of feeling lives within the simple line “I’ll love you every day”. Frankly, it’s sheer bliss.
GO SATTA – Patination
A fun little number and their first outing in a Seven Plays, ‘Patination’ marks a bit of a change for married duo Go Satta, AKA Phoenix and Mo Love. Where they before had more of a funky-synth driven pop sound, ‘patination’ takes a turn to the more mellow and spaced out. Sounding a little late nineties at times and all the better for it, this is a fresh tune with a damn fine guitar line, and a wondrously breezy vocal from Mo weaving through it. Big, big fan over here.
Double Denim – Paper Man
Even more of a rollicking jamboree than most of their tracks, Double Denim have levelled up the energy to near unimaginable heights on ‘Paper Man’. Sounding like if Karen O had brought the rest of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to do the ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ soundtrack, Double Denim have taken their precise use of dynamics and pits and falls to new levels on this track itching to be played live, preferably in a woodland somewhere. Where the choruses are such foot-stompers that you should probably warn the neighbours, the beautiful repeated guitar line and harmonies of the verses and bridge provide a melancholic respite, making those heavy hitters punch even harder. As always Chelsea Orme-Williams sounds like a singer in full vocal control of every part of her soul, and it’s astounding. If you haven’t seen them live, then you’re a fool.
Sam K Newman – Gone
Anyone who knows me will be more than aware that sincere acoustic singer-songwriters aren’t exactly my thing. That said, something about Sam K Newman crooned me from my prejudices. The fourteen year old (yep, I’m baffled too), just has something incredibly believable and endearing going for him. I’m not going to be one of those people who disbelieves that a fourteen year old can have anything interesting to say which isn’t gleaned from somewhere else, but I am going to be a little surprised at just how eloquent he is. Not many veteran songwriters manage to get across the impatience and sense of unrequited feeling he does, and all within a charmingly constructed and performed track. It’s a real wholesome little gem this one, with more than enough of the ingredients to go very far indeed.
Oli Hannaford – Locker
This is one of those where you don’t realise you’re making really sincere undulating movements until the track’s almost over. Exceptionally impressive vocals from Hannaford provide the plaintive lament of “let me see what you’ve got in the locker, don’t hold back now”, and it’s clear that he isn’t. The vocal runs to challenge James Vincent McMorrow and James Blake (I swear I didn’t just google “James” and “singer”) are astounding, particularly in the final chorus of the song as he howls over himself. The bubbling tranquility of the opening leads you into a false sense of security, so that before you know it Hannaford’s “Don’t you dare…”-ing over an aggressive snare sample and you feel horribly inclined to cry or confess. A sombre turn after the tropical sensuality of ‘Lust’, Oli Hannaford’s a name I’m always excited to see, and can’t wait to see the contexts it gets into. A chart-blaster in the making if ever there were one.
CHARLSTONRAY – Pixelate
I can still remember when I first heard CHARLSTONRAY, sometime early last year. I was blown away. So were my colleagues, all of my friends, and indeed, Radio 1. The duo, comprised of the brilliant Big Fat Astronauts’ frontman Charlie Stork on production and the butter-would-melt-and-swoon vocals of Ben Charlton, they’re making major waves in melancholic electro (melectro? Melanchtro? Maybe not). Since then they’ve been busy refining their sound, creating less of a track and more of a full, multi-faceted soundscape. Subaquatic synths combine with a taut guitar line for tension and slack as and when it’s needed, all as Charlton’s dulcet crooning of “when my mind pixelates into focus…” weaves in and out of the mix. It’s got a good beat behind it, and the imagery of the lyrics is almost perfectly replicated by the music itself. A clear next choice for fans of Jamie XX, Jack Garratt and James Blake, I haven’t the faintest doubt that they’re going to do stupidly well.
JOE HOOTON – I Like It Like That
I’m not big on dance music, but I still know a belter when I hear one. ‘I Like It Like That’s a belter. With a cracking sample from Inner Life used masterfully, the pounding beat hits just the write notes (I wouldn’t be surprised if it was heartbeat BPM) and the peaks and drops are just ready for a top skank. Amping up the intensity at just the right moment before dropping away into melody, given that this is the only track we’ve received from the enigmatic Mr. Hooton, let’s just say we’re pretty keen to hear what else he’s got in his hard drive.
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