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If you like your pop music to be cool and glacial, yet draped in effortless theatrical brilliance, then wrap your ears around this new Swedish group, fronted by Malin Dahlstrom.  Comparisons to Bat For Lashes will no doubt follow, for Malin manages to pull the same trick as Natasha Kahn – like she’s writing from another world, luring you into a soundscape of drama and cinematic majesty.  It’s mystical and ethereal, but never dull and on tracks such as DJ, Ease My Mind you get a sweeping chorus so overblown it would make the performers on the Eurovision Song Contest re-consider their applications.  Malin also demonstrates precisely how rounded her skills are on tracks such as Winterheart, where you get bubbles alongside the atmosphere, handing a perfect slice of slow pop cake that’s as easy to digest as whipped cream.  Much in the same direction that The Knife and IAmAmIWhoAmI aim their musical arrows, there’s much owed to the Liz Fraser/Cocteau Twins school of song craft, with pop that’s as cold as thin ice, and just as delicate.  Frigorific music such as this can often leave the listener a little detached, but Malin’s lyrics provide a voice that calls at you through the snowstorm, luring you onwards, until each track warms you like a rewarding wine. Percussion is occasionally laid on quite heavily, like a hundred of the Emperor’s drummers, but they’re theatrics are deliberately meant to be like a stage production, which is no more evidenced than the playful videos that have circled around in recent weeks.  We expect Malin to adorn costumes and giant headdresses when performing, as this type of music could never be the same if not delivered with overblown panache, but there’s no tour on offer quite yet, so follow the Recommender’s tweets for more information. Their debut single is a double A-side and was released on August 30th on the Moshi Moshi label.  Allow the curtain to lift for the next 15 minutes by sifting through the below mp3s and videos.

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        NIKI AND THE DOVE – UNDER THE BRIDGES

Hear them here:        NIKI AND THE DOVE – WINTERHEART

Hear them here:        NIKI AND THE DOVE – DJ, EASE MY MIND




So many of pop’s roads lead back to Motown and if you were to take a meandering wander down the rich musical heritage of Detroit you will find at the end of the lane a man named Berry Gordy – no doubt sat there tapping his feet and clicking a finger at you. He masterminded that important period in 60s pop music and perfected the art of creating songs that did something very rare – each one was instantly enjoyable, but utterly timeless. All of it sprinkled in sugar, but also rather perfect in its solid construction.  The ripples of this period have affected so much since, but Alex Winston specifically marks it all as a direct inspiration and there’s no denying that the same genetic notes of Motown are easily located within her music. Even though she’s also a branch from the same musical tree from which Regina Spector blossomed, it should come as no shock to hear that she called Detroit home during her childhood.  Every track on her new EP of covers, which arrived this August, has her wonderful magic sprinkled over tunes from the likes of Mumford & Sons, The Rolling Stones and Jack Penate, amongst others.  Now being produced by The Knocks and releasing on their Heavy Roc Music label, this a pop star waiting to burst.  She’s a multi-instrumentalist, having initially had a guitar given to her by her father at just 7 years old, but going on to also record the piano and even the drums on this new EP.  Her original work is what will deservedly earn her the real plaudits however, such as her double A-side single, Choice Notes, with the track,  Medicine, on the reverse.  She’s baked the perfect pop cake with both songs, of the kind you can taste on your tongue for hours afterwards.  Be warned – it’s very morish too, with her cute vocals shining throughout and the tambourine beats, all played with a childish smile.  It’s like Regine Chassagne, from Arcade Fire, making an appearance on Sesame Street.  We expect Feist is shaking in her little fur-lined boots, but to be honest this music aims much higher, has more soul and the variety of edge located within it gives it way more depth.  You can catch her at Neon Gold’s showcase during their New York CMJ Festival this October, so if you’re in town for that then we strongly suggest you take a peek and duly shake your tailfeather. (MB)

Find her here:         Myspace

Hear her here:         ALEX WINSTON – CHOICE NOTES

Hear her here:         ALEX WINSTON – MEDICINE

Hear her here:         ALEX WINSTON – PULL MY HEART AWAY

Hear her here:         ALEX WINSTON – ANIMAL BABY




This five piece from Newcastle are carving out something fresh and enjoyable on the northern circuits, getting described by some as progressive indie.  Any genre with the words ‘progressive’, or ‘prog’, attached to it usually makes us wince at the potential self-indulgence, but this band create music that has plenty of breathing space and never stares at its own shoes for too long.  They generate stacks of melody, as each tune arrives in waves of charm and sophistication.  This is music that gets the girl simply by winning over the parents first.  On the track, The Waves Roll Back And Forth, they stay in first gear, creating more of an atmosphere than a song, with a Brian Eno-styled ambience, but don’t be fooled into thinking that there’s no meat on the bones of this band.  On their stand out track, The Woods, it begins with a gentle refrain of fear, that kicks into a full paranoid march after a minute and a half, as the pace strikes up.  The dissident lyrics “don’t want to go to work anymore” share a complaint that most of us have felt at some point in our lives, especially on a Monday morning.  It’s a fantastic piece of well-rounded work, self-released by them earlier this year.  The song Grandfather’s Bones once again starts by creeping up slowly like an incoming tide, before finding its full flow and climaxing in a smash of cymbals.  This is a band that makes full use of its numbers, regularly making their songs very much feel like there’s five people contributing.  The stand out instrument though is the lead guitar, which tinkers up front like a star striker, often starting and closing each tune.  We are pretty sure it’s unintentional, but their tune, Higher Bridges, has the timeless riff from Tears For Fears‘ tune, Everybody Wants To Rule The World, wound throughout it.  This is no bad thing and is the kind of delightful element that will continue to gain them attention – something that’s already had Tom Robinson give them some 6 Music airplay and a listing as a ‘featured artist’ on’s Breakthrough section.  The North East continues to produce some the UK’s most interesting music, (did it ever stop?), with bands well equipped to make the rest of us sit up and take note.  On the current evidence, Grandfather Birds are set to be near the front of the charge as one of the most mature and interesting of the lot.    (MB)

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:        GRANDFATHER BIRDS  – THE WOODS





There’s a lot of useful music blogs around.  We should know, being a proud Charter Member of the Strangers In Stereo blog collective, a set of like-minded bloggers, with whom we interact on a daily basis.  However, away from this collective there’s still a massive bunch of incredible music blogs, so many in fact that it’s hard to know where to start, or indeed where to return to, but today we want to focus on saying thanks to one in particular.  It’s written by two guys, Carl and Tom, and they both consistently hammer out original and exceptional selections for coverage.  It goes by the name Illegal Tender and aims its arrows of taste right at the heart of The Recommender on a regular basis.  They perfectly manage the balancing act between uncovering an artist with true alternative roots, but who’ve also got real overground potential – a rare trick that only the busiest of bloggers can spot.  Credit where credit is due, as once again they’ve uncovered a gem, with the band Evryone (sic), who formed at the end of last year.  It’s a three-piece who have helpfully(!) informed me that they’re from “outside London” and who jam out songs that stretch glossy, glamorous style over a melodic piano – an instrument used in way that does just enough to allow each tune to breathe.  This is in evidence none more than on the track, Do You Understand, with a contrast that splits between the wilder edges of Roxy Music‘s vocal madness and Wolf Gang‘s melodic pop.  It has the stage and theatre injected throughout its dramatic four minutes.  Like many bands aiming high, it’s at its worst when they stretch it to breaking point, bringing to mind the likes of Maroon Five in particular, but at it’s best its Big Top pop, with grand ambitions and a unique confidence.  Their songs ooze talent from every orifice, particularly with the likes of Flamingos and Thrill Seeking, both of which stomp through a wonderland of well-crafted popness.  All the songs are tight and shiny, hinting at an underlying dirty thought, but always remaining polite – it’s the musical equivalent of the butler explaining Elton John rock to the king.  Before any of them disappear up their own arses they break and hand you an enjoyable piano refrain to wash it all down, none more so than 2 minutes and 25 seconds into Flamingos, which soars to heights even the hardest of nuts would crack a tear to, before it slams on its lipstick finish.  If you like your pop to bang and crash, but blow you a kiss at the end of it, then pucker up for this excellent discovery – but thank Illegal Tender, not us.  (MB)

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:        EVRYONE – FLAMINGOS

Hear them here:        EVRYONE – THRILL SEEKING

Hear them here:         EVRYONE – DO YOU UNDERSTAND




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

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CLUB SMITH (Previously known as THE HAIR)


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

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