Let me take you by the hand and led you the streets of London, shining some light on the delights tucked away in the capital’s lofts, garages and cellars.
Herewith, six very fine acts plying their craft in trade in and around The Smoke. Check out their pages to hear their music – links are included beneath the top articles section.
* If you’re an unsigned or own label artist, why not let us know about you for the next edition, on 26th June?
What do you get when you gleefully smash the mould of four blokes with guitars and skintight jeans? A world of opportunity, that’s what. And when you filter your influences through eight band members you get a little slice of heaven. Revere deal in complex musical arrangements that still sound pop. They have mastered the art of understatement and reduction.
This is the sound of Tindersticks with a young Jeff Buckley on vocals. Revere are reaching, ambitious and glorious. The blend of strings, brass and piano swell up like the spring tide. These are soulful songs without following soul music clichs . There are moments when they could be Scott Walker in his prime, or the dark urban romance of Anthony Reynolds’ Jack. Roger Illingworth’s piano opens out magical spaces on Denying The Day. The trumpet at the start of Everyone Expects You To Fail leads the song on a drunken dance with Tom Waits – weather-beaten and beautiful. Revere are a powerful live act too, and you will miss a treat if you don’t check them out.
Sassy vocals, the perfect blend of cool detachment and surprising warmth. A barbwire kiss. This three piece are Blondie jamming with PJ Harvey; pop melodies and razor sharp guitars. Jane Martin’s vocals can switch from coy Kate Bush to the harsher shades Courtney Love.
Glory Days builds from switchblade guitars via strings and a beautiful acoustic coda – all in less than it takes make a cup a tea. That’s classic pop suss. Coast is The Organ‘s brittle rock given a lesson in pure pop hooks. It’s as fresh and as exciting as downhill skiing in the buff.
“The sun is shining everywhere,” runs the chorus of The Tacticians’ London’s Alright. It’s the perfect hymn to summer in the capital. Backed by breezy guitars that chime and ring like Johnny Marr backing Jarvis Cocker, it glides past like an ice cream seller on a bicycle.
The Tacticians have an ear for the infectious end of indie pop. Hardcore Porn is Ray Davies busking with Blur on the heat soaked Underground; warm, witty and charming. Brothers Joe JR and Ollie could soon be the most famous pair of songwriting siblings in the UK.
The Silver Lions marshal a blend of aching electronic melancholy. Gateway To This Life sounds like classic New Order circa Technique. The combination of synth strings and disco beats crackle with astute electricity.
Delicious is faster and harder, all sub bass clout and dark rumblings. Imagine Underworld fronted by David Bowie, or Junior Boys covering Duran Duran. The central synth riff hammers into your mind. Electronic pop with a frown, one foot on the dancefloor and one in the confession box. Wonderful.
Jay Fisher/Apple Rabbit
Two artists for the price of one here. Almost. Jay Fisher and his alter ego Apple Rabbit trade in drowsy complex electronica. Fisher has had varied a musical past and the strength of these songs show that he’s perfected his art. Jay Fisher became a singer-songwriter by default. He needed to sing, needed to get the songs out. A bass player, he learned guitar and began to pour out his soul.
His interest in electronic music and the very texture and atoms of sound led him into more interesting zones. Elephant Rain unwinds like a DJ Shadow track, all bleeps and blissfully drifting soundscapes. End the End is a David Sylvian excursion into the ether, married to soulful vocals that add up to a kind of London-based Jack Johnson vibe. The rattling percussion propels the song skyward. Gorgeous stuff.
Claire Toomey is a real find. Her voice is like ashtray honey. Her songs are strong and humming with commercial appeal without being dumb or overproduced. That voice wraps itself around the ache of Found like a warm embrace for your soul – acoustic driven pop/rock out of the top drawer. Think of Natalie Imbruglia or a London based Sheryl Crow.
Moving Target has the kind of chorus that could launch ships. The guitar refrain lodged in the front of my mind after one listen. Deserves to grace radio playlists – if given half a chance.