Archive for August, 2010




The chorus to the track Gold, states “we are gold, we’ll say nothing“, which is absolutely fine by us, as music blogs like ours will be happy to shout for you loud and clear if you keep producing music as startlingly great as this shimmering alt-indie.  If you enjoy the tidy guitars of Two Door Cinema Club, a kind which dance around like popcorn, or the afro-flavours of Tanlines, then you should become as enamoured as we have with this four-piece from Leeds.  Their music is as tight and crisp as anything we’ve heard in recent times, seemingly erratic, as the beats and riffs dart about like a hummingbird.  Even though at first glance they seem as hard to snare as grabbing bubbles, what you eventually find is that the music fills the space with warm melodies, particularly as they break for fantastic choruses.  These constructions are packed with oxygen, breathing so easily, particularly with the light guitaring that seems to be its brilliant signature move.  The beats also feature prominently – so talented is their drummer, Greg Round – with rapid knocks that are as sharp as a tailors suit, lead by the slapped snare that hits late in each beat.  It’s this feature that gives each song its busy feel, rapidly flicking around with about as much patience as a fly that’s landed on a line of cocaine.  They’re not scared of a winding build up and a joyful climax too, as they release the energy in each tune – as witnessed in the excellent track Wreck Ashore, that swirls up so much it actually comes to a complete stop for about five seconds, as if it’s breached the edges of the atmosphere and is hanging in an airless space, before bringing it back to a closing burst.  This pattern is repeated on the impressive tune, Her Heart Is Quite Useless, which seems like they’ve separated out all the notes, playing each one with independence, before closing with a satisfying whip to the mixture.  This style of pretty, alternative indie pop, has been on the rise in recent years, ever since the all-conquering Foals struck their first high-pitched notes, but Loose Talk Costs Lives take it to another level, seeming like the perfect fusion of every band that’s ever been under that same influence.   (MB)

Find them here:         Myspace


Hear them here:         LOOSE TALK COSTS LIVES – GOLD





There’s plenty of excellent alternative music burgeoning all over the world, but Canada continues to star, holding the heart of intelligent indie in its hands and Bravestation, a four-piece from Toronto, have stolen our attention for the immediate future.  They blend soaring, melodic indie pop into a warm, lush soundscape, with a broad, mature and consistently excellent collection of songs.  They released their debut EP back in 2009 and follow it up with a new batch of songs on their second EP, entitled 2010.  It shows us a band that are both industrious and ambitious, but comfortably reaching their own lofty aims.  There’s a broad myriad of sounds that are woven throughout each song, creating several intricate tracks in ways that show off a rare skill – of making expertise seem easy.  The song Clocks & Spears presents the type of soaring, tribal indie which has embedded inside it a sense of free-spirited bohemia; of the kind that Yeasayer have successfully produced in recent years.  It’s music that’s easily described as art, but it’s also utterly accessible and jammed with hooks and harmonies.  The tune, Their Calling, brings to mind the kind of layered, soaring choruses more familiar with The Killers or Editors, but without that misguided and rather desperate attempt to write a song whose main purpose is to sound good on the main stage at Glastonbury.  However, the strongest song on the new EP has to be White Wolves, which has some wonderful, raindropped guitaring, more familiar with the clever intricacy of Foals.  It’s a song with rumbling drums and echoing, layered voices, that peaks with a call and response between the backing and main vocals, which in turn creates a feel of two songs being played at once.  Like all the best bands, there’s no one outstanding star of the show on stage here, with each instrument propelling the song as much as any other.  A group that appears to be without weakness, creating EPs this consistently decent, makes our appetite for the debut LP akin to that of a desert orchid watching a rain cloud on the horizon.  You can download their latest EP in its entirety – for free – on their Bandcamp page here.  Um, that’s for FREE!  Like.  Now.  You still here!?   (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        BRAVESTATION – WHITE WOLVES


Hear them here:        BRAVESTATION – THEIR CALLING




We have something that runs in the background here on the blog, called ‘The Recommender Queue‘.  Put simply, it’s an internal list that we add all the new artists to once we’ve located them.  Once spotted they are chronologically entered into the system, ready for a good plucking once we come to write a new post.  The queue matters to us, as it’s the last filter we apply before writing them up – we’re a picky bunch you see.  By this point they’ve basically got through our tight selection process and it’s simply a matter of patience as we slowly get around to them. One side effect of this queue is that we miss the chance to blog artists immediately after finding them and are therefore rarely first to break them.  Fortunately though we don’t give a flying fuck about being first, never have, as we only conspire to be good.  Since Katy B got in line a few weeks ago we’ve seen her blogged by New York’s latest radio star Sheena Beaston, followed by the blog collective, of which both us and Sheena are Charter MembersStrangers In Stereo.  NME helped confirm she is something special when she debuted inside the legendary music magazine with her own full page, which was only usurped by reaching number 20 on their ‘Best New Bands Of 2010‘ article.  The phrase ‘commercial appeal’ may as well have been created just for her, as, like it or not, she ticks so many of the current teenage boxes that she’s virtually guaranteed to be a massive hit.  She winds crunchy dubstep and garage basslines under sweet, charting vocals, in an irresistible pop concoction.  As a Goldsmiths and Brit School graduate she can really sing too, which, when paired with her high street good looks and understated MC confidence, sees her just as ready to front underground clubs, as she could Topman fashion campaigns.  Every 18 year old will want to be her, male or female, as she dances through that perfect mix of dark and light.  The star will most likely turn supernova with the Benga-backed tune On A Mission, which is due out on the radio staion-turned-label Rince FM in the next few days.  Make what you like of her lyrics that swing from the teasing,  “so I sip his drink as I hold his gaze“, to the plain and obvious, “When we all rocked into the room and hear the sub go boom“.  Lyrics aside, it’s the package that the dubstep genre requires if it’s to properly make it approachable to the mainstream, but on the flip side we can’t help but fear it’s a scene that’s best suited to an underground position.  However, in reality it’s her impact on the pop scene that will prove to be the biggest game changer.  Even though she’s just stepped out from ours, we can’t help but imagine that queues are set to be something she’s going to have to get used to from now on, as they feed around the block from now on.   (MB)

Find her here:          Myspace

Hear her here:         KATY B – LOUDER

Hear her here:         KATY B – ON A MISSION

Hear her here:         MAGNETIC MAN ft KATY B – PERFECT STRANGER




We’ve waited for the right time to give FOE a push on The Recommender, following her appearance on our fifth mixtape, back in May, with the thunderous hit-in-waiting, Charity Cases.  With all the slacker beauty of Elastica’s Justine Frieschmann at her most deadly, this 20 year old from Fleet will push all of your buttons at once.  In the UK we have a saturation of talented female solo alt-pop artists, so it’s going to take something special to break through and keep winning the inevitable comparisons.  FOE, real name Hannah Clark, has the musical craft, the killer looks, the swagger and the style that’s required.  Interestingly, she also reminds us of the period in time when all the female pop artists worked on matching the male artists for attitude, aggression and independence – the likes of P J Harvey, or Courtney Love, or Donita Sparks, were all empowered frontwomen during their respective periods in music and this has a genetic bloodline with Hannah’s music too.  She informed us that she’s inspired by the likes of Nirvana, Pixies, Sonic Youth and all those artists “that do whatever the fuck they want“.  This defiance appears throughout her music and that attitude aims its shots directly at the belly of grungeSub Pop would have snapped her up in an instant twenty years ago.  All that fuzzed and dirty distortion on the guitars and the alluring, can’t-be-bothered vocals are very much Seattle-born.  However, it’s a little unfair to suggest that her tracks are purely reflecting a time long gone, for even though she holds up a mirror to this period in music, there’s still a contemporary stare coming back at you from deep inside those irresistible, dark eyes.  On the track, A Handsome Stranger Called Death, she produces a theatrical, melodic vocal, over the styled, slower pace – something the likes of Nirvana deliberately rejected.  Also gone are the elements of thrash and punk, as each track is packed with new ideas.  She’s produced by her “partner in crime“, Adam Crisp, from Entrepreneurs, who you may know from his amazing remixes of the likes of Marina’s Mowglis Road, among many others.  Hannah’s provided vocals on his solo work too and told us that you will likely see them performing at each other’s live sets.  Like it or not, it’s perhaps what the industry will be looking for next, once the 80s obsession is over, and FOE brings us the perfect modern mixture of early 90s with a very contemporary twist.  You have been warned.  (MB)

Find her here:        Myspace

Hear her here:        FOE – CHARITY CASES

Hear her here:        FOE – TYRAN SONG

Hear her here:        FOE – TINY AMBULANCE






Before we moved to Brighton and gave birth to The Recommender we lived in the city of Oxford.  Any tourist would expect a collection of Olde English charm upon arrival in ‘The City of Dreaming Spires’, yet Oxford consistently drops the jaws of even the best-researched visitor, with not only its history and architecture but also its amazing atmosphere.  Stroll through the cobbled streets between the universities at night and you feel the city breathing its story at you through it’s 1000 year old walls.  However, there’s another Oxford and it continues to be an important part of its culture – the music.  We all know of Ride, Radiohead, Supergrass et al, but the evolution continues with Foals and more recently with Trophy Wife.  The cities connotations and unique atmosphere seem to bleed into the music, for even though all the aforementioned bands created different sounds, they all seem to have an intellectuality, alongside a middle class feel within them.  However, any link of a musical caste is a little presumptive, for Oxford also has it’s mix of cultures, classes and deprivation.  Is the link found in the accent (or lack of one)?  Is it missing an edge more easily obtained from the likes of Manchester, Glasgow or London?  Either way, the unifying thing is an intangible element, but clearly the commonality is something very ‘Oxford’.  Trophy Wife have all the potential to rise to the heights of their forebears and a slot supporting Foals on their Autumn tour will aid them, as well as unify their geographical ties.  Two original tracks are floating around, being light and bubble-like in their nature as they are.  The excellent Take This Night begins with a twinkle and a tap, before a guitar riff dances into view.  The layered, angelic vocals complete the picture and the dreamy ride is off, as they speak directly to you about “secret places” and requesting that you “take me there“.  It’s the musical equivalent of dancing with your eyes closed – all encompassing, but peaceful.  Before you realise it you’ve been transported to a disco pace and a thick set of musical stratum.  The sound is perfected on the track Microlite, with the charm switched on from the start, pushing a metronomic four beat behind vocals that remind us of The Stone Roses at their haziest and most yearning.  It’s rare to find music this delicate and fragile, that still affects your feet as much as your mind.  Like the city the trio call home, theirs is a sound throbbing with atmosphere and energy, whilst maintaining a classy brume throughout.  (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:       TROPHY WIFE –MICROLIGHT

Hear them here:        TROPHY WIFE – TAKE THIS NIGHT




The genre of math rock always did sound like the future when it first arrived out of America’s midwest a couple of decades ago, before it evolved into its modern form, with the British act Foals or the New York-based Battles heading up the underground alt-rock scene in the last few years.  It should come as no surprise that this futuristic genre has returned and is seemingly ever more fitting to modern life with each appearance.  It enjoyed a short hiatus between Foals albums, but now seems back stronger than ever with Manchester’s Everything Everything turning it into something ready for the overground, taking the intricate jazz rhythms and moulding them into something beautiful and harmonious from its earlier foundations.  This evolution is joined by Cast Of Cheers, a four piece from Ireland, adding yet another country to the math rock map.  They take the genre’s signature staccato, rapidly-knocked beats and follow it tap for tap with the high guitar notes.  We imagine the tablature of this music to look as impossible as reading hieroglyphics in a sandstorm, so heaven knows how they get through the recording process.  We’re glad they do if the efforts produce music of this quality.  Why do we love it so much?  Well, there’s a theory that suggests it’s to do with the way in which our brains work.  The thoughts inside our minds are not linear, but are instead a rapid firing of neurons that are jumping about all over the place.  Therefore, when we listen to the off-beat and half-beats of math rock it sits better with how our brains like to digest information.  As I said, it’s just a theory.  Either way, it still requires a shit-load of skill and creativity to carve out something so complex, let alone make it enjoyable and melodic.  Bloc Party nailed it pretty well, but that was more down to Matt Tong’s extraordinary ability with the sticks and so they only really dabbled in this end of the rock spectrum.  Cast Of Cheers are slap bang in the centre of the movement and with tracks such as Goose and Strangers they even pour in stories of love and hope alongside the clever arrangements.  The outstanding track, Auricom, is so layered with beats that you can literally select to follow any one of them and find a groove to fall for.  Their arrival comes as our attention currently finds itself on Ireland and it’s burgeoning post-punk scene, with the likes of  Jogging and Not Squares also opting for maximum power.  As if their music isn’t forward-thinking enough, Cast Of Cheers have also gone and released their debut album, Chariots, for free on their Bandcamp page, so head there for more. Like. Now.  Our culture’s evolution is so subtle that you won’t ever feel like you’re in the future, for it will always be your present, but the progression of music can transport you there in an instant with the likes of The Cast Of Cheers.   (MB)

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:         THE CAST OF CHEERS – AURICOM

Hear them here:         THE CAST OF CHEERS – DECEPTAPUNK

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August 2010



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CLUB SMITH (Previously known as THE HAIR)


Mike Bradford (MB) - Creator and Contributor (UK)

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