“We heard something on the radio about Liu Bei, a Chinese warlord who was known as an amazing strategist and a really caring, benevolent leader. He was also eight feet tall and had ears so big he could see them. Seemed like something to aspire to.”
Liu Bei (“Lou Bay”) explains frontman Richard, was born out of a desire to move away from years of solo acoustic songwriting and embark on something entirely new.
The first song to come was Infatuation – a shimmering, reverb soaked lament charting “how dedication and unconditional love can so quickly turn into something dark and sharp toothed, an aggressive obsession.” You can hear the life cycle of the band within - it retains the reflective, introverted character of its early acoustic form, but builds those raw emotions into something more panoramic, a wash of delayed guitar and building drums reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins.
Pre-order Liu Bei - ‘Infatuation’ below.
Cosmo Sheldrake is a 23-year-old multi instrumentalist, composer and producer with much of his work concerned with play, nonsense and the sonorous environment.
Sheldrake describes debut single The Moss as “an ode to nonsense for its own sake”.Invoking many of the classic figures of nonsense literature, Cosmo embarks on a peg-legged jaunt, draping finely woven vocal harmonies over an underbelly of electronics, strings, and an Armenian Duduk (recorded at a folk session in a country pub in East Sussex).
Over the past year Cosmo has composed music for film and theatre, as well as touring internationally supporting and playing with Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit. In the UK he has shared stages with Bombay Bicycle Club and US indie act Mutual Benefit.
Pre-order Cosmo Sheldrake ‘The Moss’ below.
After a sleepless night, young producer Tarek Musa set up a drumkit and a Marshall practice amp in a disused broken bathroom in his home in Wilmslow, Greater Manchester. By the end of that same day, he’d recorded ‘Let’s Ride’ and released it online under the alias Spring King to an overwhelmingly positive response.
Now, joined by four friends, they’re back with ’Mumma’. Inspired by the phrase ‘she must have got it from her mother’ overheard from a conversation one evening, a story and narrative began to develop about a girl struggling with addiction, at first set to piano but now against a backdrop of anthemic drums and searing guitars. It showcases the band’s new approach to production, but maintains the fuzzy, eccentric character that defines Spring King’s sound.
Pre-order Spring King ‘Mumma / Mumma II’ below.
Blaenavon’s songs are suffused with need and vulnerability, the music leaves itself open, waiting to be approached and ultimately the beauty of both tracks come from their subtlety.
‘Into the Night’, a song about isolation and loss is a startlingly controlled introduction to Blaenavon, with a poetic fragility and an exciting panache that enthralls and makes for a truly rewarding listen.
There is a stillness and hush to ‘Denim Patches’, which follows the reparation of a relationship, the uplifting-melancholia of Ben’s vocals are absorbing, affecting and mature beyond his years.
Pre-order Blaenavon ‘Into The Night / Denim Patches’ below.
THUMPERS’ kaleidoscopic sound is the work of childhood friends Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr. whose shared memories provide the inspiration for their alt-pop imaginings. Both buoyant and lush, the London based band combine layered androgynous vocals with muscular drums, astral synths and shimmering guitars in a celebration of the breathless sensations of youth and coming of age.
‘Dancing’s Done’, their debut single, is released February 4th on rose-tinted limited 7” vinyl on paradYse Records and cassette on Kissability, each format featuring an exclusive b-side track, and all three tracks available digitally. A celebration of the spirit of camaraderie and an innate musical kinship, it is a perfect introduction to THUMPERS’ world of colorfully imaginative, exuberantly infectious pop.
Pre-Order THUMPERS - ‘Dancing’s Done’ below.
With one foot in the arenas of anthemic British rock and the other in the dark basements of electronic sub culture, London three-piece LULS introduce themselves with an exhilarating and unmistakably current sound that is an art-informed take on both.
There’s a violence to the countryside, encapsulated in the sumptuous prose of D.H Lawrence’s in which metaphors engorge and heighten into states of pure ecstasy. A fantastic and virulent strain of writing which, thanks to Marika Hackman, now exists in song.
Marika’s music channels something very different to the happy-clappy nature of recent folk. Hers is a far more potent vision in the lineage of Syd Barrett, but presented by an enigmatic beauty with a striking vocal delivery more akin to that of Nico deftly exploring an unsmiling bereft landscape:
"I don’t know why I started writing; it’s something I’ve been playing around with since I was so young that I can’t remember how it began. I think living in the countryside for most of my life has affected my writing as nature usually manages to creep its way into my songs…"
Double A-Side ‘You Come Down’ and ‘Mountain Spines’ produced by Johnny Flynn and Adam Beach from the Sussex Wit will be released September 3rd through Transgressive imprint paradYse (Theme Park, Cold Specks) on limited 7” and digital download. Marika will also be playing a single launch show on Tuesday, September 4th at London Servant Jazz Quarters.
Pre-order Marika Hackman ‘You Come Down / Mountain Spines’
Cold Specks is 23-year-old Al Spx from Etobicoke, Canada, who now lives in London. Describing her sound as ‘Doom Soul’, Cold Specks’ music is steeped in the musical traditions of the Deep South.
No wonder then that Al cites the Lomax Field Recordings and James Carr as influences along with Bill Callahan and Tom Waits. With a voice that evokes the ‘spirit feel’ of Mahalia Jackson and the visceral tones of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Cold Specks’ sparse arrangements and chaingang rhythms stop you dead in your tracks.
Recorded at Monnow Valley Studios and mixed at Sub Bubble, the single features tracks ‘Holland’ and ‘Old Stepstone’ and will be available on 7” and as a download. Cold Specks have announced a single launch show at St Pancras Old Church on day of release - tickets will be on sale Friday 2nd September.
Pre-order Cold Specks - ‘Holland’ below.
'A Mountain We Love' is the sort of addictive yet emotive electronic guitar pop that will soundtrack summers, with chiming guitars, infectious percussive samples and sumptuously restrained vocals from twin brother frontmen Miles and Marcus Haughton.
'Wax', meanwhile, is epic balladry of the most subtle order - within 20 seconds, one of the choruses of the year ensnares the listener and immediately affirms Theme Park's position as one of the most exciting new songwriting forces in our midst today, managing to attain that rare balance of feeling comfortingly familiar and yet not sounding like anyone else.
The band’s first - and only currently scheduled - live performance will be a single launch party to support the release, occurring at London’s Lexington venue on Wednesday August 31st. For entry to the show tickets will be solely on a reserve basis by emailing names for the paradYse guestlist to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-order Theme Park ‘A Mountain We Love / Wax’ below.