Presenting the third installment of our artists to watch out for in 2019.
Stella Donnelly returns this March with her debut album. Its called Beware of the Dogs and its the first featuring her full band. The 13-track LP is precerded by the single ‘Old Man,’ a chiming blend of delicate bittersweet vocals, clipped percussion that house sardonic lyrics that sketch out the wrongdoings of a dirty old creep. Redolent of Postcard records singles and mid period Billy Bragg little wonder since Donnelly learnt the guitar to his record. She says: “I came up with the chords and chorus to this song in 2017 around the time when Woody Allen called the #MeToo movement a witch hunt. It was a very strange feeling for me watching the world change right before my eyes and to see that these men who had exploited their power for so long were actually being held accountable for their actions. It made me look back on my experiences as a young woman doing music and certain powerful men who tried to manipulate me and exploit other young women. I needed to write this song for myself because if I hadn’t I would still feel quite angry about things that I probably let slide in my younger, more naive days. I have no intentions of publicly calling out these people but it’s a nice feeling to me knowing that they may hear this song one day and feel perhaps an inch of the humiliation and powerlessness that they inflicted on me back then.”
Beware of the Dogs features contributions from bassist Jennifer Aslett, drummer Tayla Valenti, guitarist George Foster, and producer Dean Tuza. It follows Donnelly’s awesome debut EP Thrush Metal last year that drww comparison with Courtney Barnett and Laura Marling.
Born in Wales but residing in Brisbane, Australia, Stella Donnelly is an awesome talent, with wit,charm and personality, as shown by last years hugely impressive her debut EP she has a knack for translating female experiences into song. Her debut long player promises to add fresh textures to her pallete of stinging self -proclaimed ‘shit stirring’ songwriting that calls out abuse, racism and injustice and wraps it in wonderful vocals and exquisite composition. On the journey we see Donnelly grow into an empowered young woman. “This album made me feel like I was back in the driver’s seat,” the 26-year-old says “It was really liberating and grounding to realize that no one can fuck with this except me.” Stella Donnelly will be touring around the forthcoming record in March. (Bill Cummings)
Long a coming force Chroma recently released a new single on Popty Ping records, ‘Girls Talk’ is the pick of the bunch a gyrating fierce patriarchy smashing anthem and an assertion of female strength. ‘who are you to tell me I don’t own my body/ Who are to to tell me that I’m nobody’ spits and sneers fantastic front lady Katie Hall with a conviction and grit that you wouldn’t dare look at without expecting to be kicked in the shins, over a clawing melange of frenetic electric bass and kick ass drums.
Hailing from the valleys of Wales, this bilingual guitarless trio have been setting festivals alight with their brand of punk rock that seers somewhere between the early work of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the incendiary feminist riot grrl sound of Bikini Kill. Katie Hall’s stage and crowd roaming antics were a sight to behold at their single launch in Gwdi Hw at the tail end of last last. This year, you won’t be able to take your eyes or ears off Chroma. (BC)
I wasn’t attracted to Pom Poko’s peculiar brand of math rock-jazz when I first heard it but seeing a live performance in September at the Reeperbahn Festival, when they rocked the fixtures and fittings out of a football club’s fan shop, convinced me. Once they get going they are perpetual motion and unstoppable.
All four of them are classically trained music graduates from one of the finest academies in Europe so I suppose they could have joined symphony orchestras. Fortunately they didn’t. Instead, they deliver the most dynamic live act I’ve seen in many a year.
And who couldn’t warm to a band whose front woman has the charming name of Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit and who dresses somewhere between Punch and Judy?
They’ve had a little airplay recently here so hopefully there will be a tour, in tandem with the release of their debut album ‘Birthday’ on February 22nd, 2019. They have one date booked so far, in London on the 19th, which is the album release party. We could do with some more. (David Bentley)
Also listen to/watch ‘You’ll be fine’
Silent Forum have quietly been honing their sound over the past few years, shifting from shadowy post punk cassette releases on Odd Box records, into more intruiging and bold brand of new wave. 2018 was the year that came to fruition on their epic big hearted single ‘How I faked the Moon Landing’ that possessed an early 90s swagger and ambition.
It was followed up by ‘Robot’ an ace jittering shot of guitar pop redolent of XTC that’s first-person lyrics detailing the bitter irony of being chained to a nine-to-five job. Their live show is a cocktail of frantic energy dancing, skittering riffs and scatter gunshots of artful, breathless melody.
Escewing many of the tired troupes of modern indie bands Silent Forum have an ambition, vision and the tunes that make them irresistable. Silent Forum‘s forthcoming debut album is due on Libertino records early in 2019.(BC)
Hairband are five-piece group from Glasgow who, on their debut EP released last year, distilled the joy and bittersweet trials of youth into five songs that bend to no rules but the ones they make up as they go along. Deeply immersed in their local scene featuring members of groups Spinning Coin, Breakfast Muff, Lush Purr and Kaputt. Recorded in Glasgow’s famed Green Door Studios, and played at the moment, Hairband is life-giving. Their multicoloured opening salvo ‘Bubble Sword’ channels the playful offkilter rhythms of The Slits or Orange Juice, and infuses them with hollers, witty surreal couplets and sparring instruments that are redolent of Bredeers, its the sound of life teetering on the edge of joy and heartbreak. I should imagine its great to dance and shout along with at the top of your lungs to as well! On the evidence of their EP Hairband are one of Scotland’s most exciting emerging DIY outfits.(BC)
Of all the artists emerging out of Australia in the last few years my favourite – but also the one who has surprisingly failed so far to make an impact in the UK – is Sophie Payten, who performs as Gordi, a brother’s childhood nickname for her.
Raised on a farm 200 miles from Sydney, she began singing and writing at a boarding school. She has been compared to several artists, including most frequently Bon Iver (for whom she has opened, along with a raft of other big-names), and, more intriguingly, Peter Gabriel. If you imagine big, unrestrained intelligent pop songs like Gabriel’s late 1980s, early 1990s epics such as ‘Come Talk to Me’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ you are at least part way towards grasping what’s she about.
I saw her perform in Manchester at the back end of 2017 in a three-man band to a criminally thin audience at Night & Day, where most of those present were Australians living here who knew of her. It was a spellbinding performance, chock-full of power and purpose, and her trademark rich contralto voice, from someone who should be a household name here.
One of the reasons why I think she isn’t, yet, is that many of her early songs, including those on debut album ‘Reservoir’, were over-produced, with unnecessary repetitions, voice and other distortion effects actually spoiling what were very good tracks. She got away with it on her best-known song to date, ‘Can we work it out’, but not on others, notably ‘Heaven I know’, which is potent live, but on the album there’s simply too much going on. Perhaps that is the norm in Australia, but for an international artist it was risky.
Chances are that, after a year of touring, she’s working on a second album now and I hope the fact she doesn’t need these distractions has been taken on board because she is a very clever songwriter, one inclined to experiment with unusual rhythms, and, as I said, absolutely riveting on a stage.(DB)