Thursday, 30 May 2013

New Artist Alert: Lucas Hardy - The Blood, Sweat & Tears EP

Followers of this blog will be aware how heavily the Southampton-based kings of pop-punk The City Calls have featured over the years. Unfortunately their reign has since ended but front-man Lucas Hardy is back with his debut solo project.

The Blood, Sweat & Tears EP has shown a real DIY back-to-basics approach for Hardy, who put his name to all aspects of the creation and production of the project, taking him back to his roots and reminding him where it all began. With this great responsibility also comes complete control, which has enabled Hardy to produce something he is proud to release and tour in support of.

The EP kicks off with its title track, a chugging acoustic guitar complemented by falsetto-style vocals, as it progresses with melodic lead-lines and some great harmonious backing vocals. Track 2, City by the Sea, establishes a more rhythmic feel thanks to the acoustic guitar part, with the lyrics surely a nod to a life left behind in Southampton. It's a casual, simple ballad, with the lead vocals often complemented nicely with harmonies and supported by a particularly memorable sing-along chorus. 'Bug' has a different feel still, heavily vocal-led with an upbeat intro which parts for more relaxed verses before the choruses pick up further, progressing the track nicely. The listener's interest is definitely maintained well with the exploration of both predictable and interesting vocal harmonies; it's no easy task to do this with an acoustic singer/songwriter record but Hardy has effectively demonstrated how this is possible without relying on a sole feel and tempo all the way through. Sail Faith closes the record with an electro/synth accompaniment to the lead vocals which themselves grow with confidence as the EP does. The track completes the circle cleverly, returning to the narrowly-textured ballad but still with its own style and feel.

The potential danger with this EP, especially with such a recognisably distinctive vocal such as Hardy's, is that is could have sounded like an acoustic TCC calls record but it really doesn't; Hardy has established himself as a great songwriter and solo artist in his own right with this project which I'm confident will earn him a loyal fanbase and great foundations to continue the next chapter of his career.

The Blood, Sweat & Tears EP is released in the UK on Friday 31st May, so be sure to keep in touch with Lucas via his Facebook page for all the details. Lucas is playing next at Wight Rock Bar on the Isle of Wight on June 22nd; for all future gigs keep your eye on the Facebook page.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

New Artist Alert: Fauntella Crow - Just Try

I'm very pleased to share with you Fauntella Crow, an indie/folk duo from LA, who combine delicate vocals, violins, and keyboards to create a sound worthy of being a SXSW featured artist this year. Jessy Greene, one half of the band, has also toured and recorded violins for highly prestigious artists such as Foo Fighters, Pink, and R.E.M., whilst other half Sunday Lane is an old hat performer for iHeartRadio and Coachella.

But enough about the past, Just Try is the stunning new song from Greene and Lane, known together as Fauntella Crow. The accompanying video is featured below, which adds a whole new level to the song. Opening with a slow-pulsing violin and simple piano ostinato, the closely-harmonising vocals soon follow, establishing the foundations of Just Try. The lead vocals are lovely on their own, and only enhanced when supported; the track is a slow-burner but suitably so, it tiptoes along held aloft by a minimalist violin part and the feel of an old Damien Rice number. The track grows slowly without notice like a flower, gaining a slight momentum as it progresses, and it's only when it's over do you realise this. It's a lovely track, and one that is both potentially commercial and intricately personal.

Check out the video for Just Try below, and be sure to keep up with the girls on Facebook. Enjoy :)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

New Artist Alert: Noah Gopen

Every now and then, something a little different springs into my email box that catches my eye and it's always nice to share something a little refreshing. Not only is this the case with Noah Gopen, singer/songwriter from Massachusetts, but his new instrumental album, outline, is up for sale with half of the proceeds going to charity.

Gopen is splitting his royalties with cancer-supporting charity Love Hope Strength and victims of the devastating Boston Marathon bombings. Outline also features Turkish musician Cemre and, as Cemre describes, 'simple and humble' certainly spring to mind on my first listen.

Title track 'Outline' slowly builds in steps, with a simple piano and strings accompaniment introducing the track before a gentle right-hand melody leads us from the pleasant to the dissonant and back again. The track has a waltz-feel to it, swaying with a mix of time signatures and moods but always progressing. 'The River Flows' showcase Gopen's great acoustic guitar playing, whilst upbeat and classical-sounding Strings provides a little stylistic contrast. The album as a whole readily crosses genres and feels, with flavours of jazz, classical, and spanish-sounds to name but a few. It feels raw and poetic; look out for a surprise cover of Adele's Someone Like You which features a really lovely vocal.

I wish Gopen and Cemre well in their journey, and am very happy to share some very enjoyable music and such a worthy cause. Do visit the artist page here where you can listen to and purchase tracks or the whole album, where half the proceeds will go straight to charity.

Enjoy :)