Posts Tagged ‘Pop




This four piece band from the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne have been around too long to qualify for a post on The Recommender’s main section, (as that’s reserved for the discovery of only the freshest cuts), but today we focus on a new video they’ve released that’s so special we simply couldn’t resist giving it our spotlight.

For those unfamiliar with the band, they jam out the kind of edgy guitars familiar with Foals, with the added twinkle of Vampire Weekend. Perhaps an obvious yet helpful comparison could offer up the aesthetic of The Maccabees. It’s music packed with many strengths, all poured over with intelligent lyrics, as the group claim as much inspiration from reading books as they do musicians for their heartfelt atmospheric stories.

And so to this remarkable video, directed by Aoife McArdle, (who has also worked with the likes of Clock Opera and Shy Child). It does something very special and it’s caused us to sit up – watch it below and we are sure it will capture your attention too.

Like a series of photographs, the video paints us a real landscape of council estates, hooded teenagers and a working class counter-culture. Our country isn’t all green, rolling hills, or a cosmopolitan London – it’s a awash with sites that are run down and bricked up. A land of rust and broken glass, of detritus and fry ups, of the plastic and synthetic.

The genres that this band dabble in are so often associated with the middle classes, with descriptions like ‘math rock’ or adjectives such as ‘intellectual’ banded around, yet this band have created a video for their new single, Isles, that serves up an image of the UK that most British people need to see, let alone those readers from abroad.

The lyrics yearn with the voice of an observer trying to pull hope from the bleak constraints of a broken land. They speak of never “looking up to see the stars” and of the ignored hope inside the working classes, before hitting an anthemic, touching chorus. It’s a Britain a lot of us have seen but it’s rarely re-visited by many.

View All Photos | © | Little Comets

It’s the honesty and visceral imagery inside the song and particularly its extraordinary video that shows us something as endearing as it is repulsive to those outside of it. It’s a Britain where we are found to be as proud of our grit as we are our authenticity. It’s Sean Meadows’ England, or Mike Smith‘s poetic ship yards. That’s this countries majority – we are there – this is ours.

The band fell out with their major label, Columbia, over issues surrounding their previous album, so they now find themselves in a new position, releasing through the independent label, Dirty Hits. If this fresh beginning continues to produce charming tracks of this calibre then freeing themselves from what they’ve called the “grizzly clutches” will prove to be a well placed slap in the major label’s faces.

Watch the video, stream the single, which is released on the 18th October, and download the orchestral version which they’ve handed to us as a free addition. You can also catch them live as they tour the UK throughout October, often in support of Darwin Deez at selected shows.






Do you know what the ‘Iambic Pentameter’ is?  It’s something we want to discuss today as we feel there’s a similar thing found in music.  There’s a certain pace of a beat that seems to fit so well inside our heads and it’s a difficult one to pin down or describe, but when you hear it, particularly in electronic music, it just feels right.  Perhaps it’s the way it’s played? Perhaps it’s that it’s a great beat to move to, allowing steps between the beats, so you can dance with ease to it?  Perhaps it’s something to do with how it matches the beat of your heart, or on a deeper level psychologically – the beat of your mother’s heart in the womb.  The Iambic Pentameter is usually associated with the rhythm of poetry or language and where or how you stress parts of each sentence.  It’s a trick that Shakespeare mastered and is commonly used – whether we know we ‘re doing it or not – when we speak in English.  It’s about pace, comfort and being easy on the ear.  This is where we get to a new trio from Belgium called Villa, who have been found floating about the remix market rather a lot in over the last year or so.  They seem to have nailed down the art of a beat that’s so comfortable you may begin to notice that your limbs move autonomously.  It’s a beat born in the disco halls of the 70s, with that familiar thump-clap-thump-clap that’s so easy to nod to.  It’s something that they’ve used very successfully time and again with the majority of their many remixes, from Gorillaz, to Ali Love, to Moby, to Keane, to The C90s, to Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and another disco-infused act, The Golden Filter, among others.  You may not like everyone on their selected list, but because they twist each original track into a floor-filling masterclass they bypass any disdain.  Notably, they often still maintain the original songs vocals, which is a trick all the best remixers seem to follow – to leave the bones of the tune, whilst still carving out a new piece of music.  They plan to have another push in the coming weeks of their excellent re-take on the Nacht Und Nebel’s 1984 hit, Beats Of Love, which features vocals by Lou Hayter of the exciting UK band, The New Sins, and rather fondly reminds us of the hypnotic Fan Death.  Expect classic disco strings, their signature mid-tempo and a set of sensual but equally deadpan vocals (yes, just like all the best 70s disco!).  We all know a good remix is a great way to get noticed in these modern times, but if you can back it up with a cover this fresh and original then our hearts will follow you long after the Iambic Pentameter has stopped.   (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        VILLA – BEATS OF LOVE ft THE NEW SINS


Hear them here:        MOBY – WAIT FOR ME (VILLA REMIX)


Hear them here:         THE C90S – 10.01 (VILLA REMIX)

Hear them here:        KEANE – CLEAR SKIES (VILLA REMIX)





Bands made up from former employees of the music industry isn’t a particularly new story.  Out of all the artists covered on The Recommender it is a trick that’s perhaps impressed us most with We Have Band, formerly of EMI, but here we turn our attention to a new Toronto duo, Freedom Or Death, who called the major label Sony home for over ten years.  Those who leave major labels will have had a vital education, giving them crucial insider knowledge and what is perhaps most on show with this new act is a keen refusal to play by the industries rules.  It’s as if Steve Fernandez and studio partner Sway are setting themselves up as staunch independents, as seen with their selection of a band name.  Freedom Or Death was chosen as a descriptor for their art, so important was their creativity that they’ve sworn to protect its freedom, rather than have the record labels try to kill it off.  It ties in well as their name is the rallying call for revolutionaries the world over, from The Suffragette’s Emily Pankhurst to the 19th Century Greeks that the duo claim as inspiration – it’s a story of freeing one’s passions rather than allowing them to be abused.  It doesn’t reflect on the industry that well, but it’s also worth pointing out that they remain unsigned – a fact that cannot go ignored, as the real test will come when the industry comes knocking, for that will be a better indication of how much they really value their freedom.  Insider knowledge can prove helpful, if not actually powerful, however it’s the music that will open up the most opportunities and we are pleased to confirm that it stands a strong chance on this evidence.  The Crowded Room begins with chords reminiscent of Miike Snow‘s Animal and is a tidy example of the smooth synths that breathe throughout their new self-titled EP.  In fact all six tracks are packed with the scent of sophistication, with the drifting acoustics played over echoing drums – they even make the abrasive Pink seem symphonic with their cover of Sober.  The tracks mirror the likes of Sting or TV On The Radio at their most vulnerable, but although this is ultimately music with the kind of high-end production usually found in genres such as hip hop (Fernandez informed me that they’re both big hip hop junkies), you will notice that the beats are mainly kept in the background.  What the tunes lack in a driver they more than make up for with atmosphere and power, particularly with the charming vocals.  Stand out track, Lost In Dances, brings in the afro-beat from the start and it places a punch where the voice was focussing, allowing us to completely fall under their spell.  You too can get hypnotized by catching them live at New York’s CMJ Festival this October.  Don’t be surprised to see the major labels sniffing around as it would take more than a defection to put them off this scent, but one thing is certain – whilst they are free from shackles they’ve produced a consistently impressive set of mellifluous songs, so any label would be a fool to mess with them. (MB)

Find them here:        Myspace

Hear them here:        FREEDOM OR DEATH – LOST IN DANCES

Hear them here:        FREEDOM OR DEATH – SOBER




We’ve never covered OK GO on The Recommender before.  The main reason is that their music is a bit shit.  Oh alright, that’s a little harsh, but their music definitely suffers from heavy doses of averageness – a plight befitting many bands, guaranteeing them a miss on this blog, as we are proud bunch of very picky bastards.  So you would be forgiven for asking why we open our books to them today?

Well, there’s one outstanding feature of OK GO, which obviously is NOT their music – it’s their incredible videos.  They clearly save their inventiveness and effort for these astonishing showcases and as a consequence have become Youtube sensations – at the time of going to post this they had a total of 73,179,142 views on their Youtube channel for their main videos, winning awards for being the most creative music channel of any band on the giant website.

If that quantity of attention turned into sales of their singles, they would find themselves dominating the world’s  charts.  However, being great at one thing – perhaps the world’s best even – is something to be proud of.

Having watched their latest production, the brand new video for White Knuckles, which they uploaded just yesterday, we thought we would list five of their best to date, including their first sensational hit with Here It Goes Again.  We think you will agree that each video grows in both it’s scale and cost, but also in its grandeur, effort and results.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

1HERE IT GOES AGAIN (over 52 million hits)- This creative spark, produced four years ago, set off the inspiration for exceptional videos and spawned a thousand treadmill-based copies by fans, even having its idea ripped off for an advert.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

2WTF? (over 616,000) – The first of a new batch of videos created at the end of their relationship with major label, EMI.  Directed by Tim Nackashi, it’s the most colourful of all the videos – with bold hues becoming a bit of a theme for future productions.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

3THIS TOO SHALL PASS (over 16 million) – The fist of the new videos for their 2010 album, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky. This was the second version and most popular of two videos made by the band for this single.  We think you will agree that this giant Rube Goldberg-inspired set is a step up in scale, as well as song-writing.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

4END LOVE (over 2 million) – This summer saw the production of this new video with its stuttered time-lapse photography.  It’s nothing short of exceptional and must have been a mammoth effort to complete – notice that they even have to go to sleep mid-video at one point during the lengthy process.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

5WHITE KNUCKLES (over 800,000) –  The latest release from the band – this video arrived only yesterday, but already has over 800,000 views!  Once again it shows off an inventive video that you just know must have taken hundreds of attempts before they nailed it.

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford

We want to conclude by asking our readers which video they think is the best, but also which tune you prefer? Are the new songs stronger, perhaps raising the band’s appeal and finally providing the complete package?  How does the new video compare with its predessors?




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




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


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