Who? Tugboat Captain
What? ‘Be strong, Smoke less’
What they say? Be Strong, Smoke Less is the brand new single from London DIY Pop ensemble Tugboat Captain and another sonic expansion beyond their homemade, lo-fi roots. Written loosely about a conversation between frontman Alexander Sokolow and his mother, the track addresses the difficulties of trying to be the best person you can be for somebody else whilst similarly wrestling with the fact that that task is always somewhat impossible.
Tugboat Captain is a rotating crew of friends and family – recording, rehearsing and releasing music out of a terraced house in South London. The band have spent the last year gathering attention across the DIY Pop community through their relentless touring, homemade videos and bittersweet pop songs. The band have garnered a reputation for their riotous live shows – frequently combining bassoons and nudity. Since forming, the band have released a pair of records, the latter ‘Everybody Seems To Think That I’m A Raincloud’ featuring Reddit endorsed single ‘Don’t Want To Wake Up On My Own’. In spite of the total DIY attitude, the band have managed to accumulate over 500,000 streams on their Spotify.
Why we love it? Boasting elegant strutting instrumentals, mournful strings and two-handed boy/girl vocals. ‘Be Strong Smoke Less’ is life-affirming, infectuous, indie pop that’s swelling anthem puts a hand on the shoulder and tells you you are doing your best and everything is going to be alright. (BC)
FFO: Divine Comedy, Belle and Sebastian, The Wave Pictures
Where? South London
What they say? South London band ALASKALASKA have today revealed ‘Bees’ the second enrapturing cut from their highly-anticipated debut record The Dots – set for release via Marathon Artists on 3 May 2019. ‘Bees’ is accompanied with another exceptional, disorientating visual – a found footage film by Ashley Rommelrath and the band which uses hives full of insects expertly spliced clips of everything from the now infamous ‘Egg Boy’ incident to the London riots.
‘Bees’ is a critique of consumer society with the band’s singer, guitarist and principal songwriter Lucinda Duarte-Holman explaining further: “‘Bees’ is a song about making sure we continue to ask questions, demand answers, and consistently make more progressive choices today than we did yesterday.” Previous single ‘Moon’ is about Duarte-Holman’s monthly cycle and “an insight into [her] neurosis”. Both tracks are perfectly at home on a record packed with fluid, intelligent and utterly remarkable left-of-centre pop songs.
Why we love it? With its slinky baseline, rumbling rhythm and intermittent saxophone, ‘Bees’ is a wonderfully dynamic alternative pop tune from ALASKALASKA. Lyrically witty and politically poignant, the track reminds us that we must keep progressing ourselves to create a brighter future.(NK)
FFO: Low Island, The Knife, Everything Everything
What they say? Following the announcement of their sophomore album Life After and a sold-out February UK tour, Palace today reveal the official video for latest single ‘Martyr’, directed by Claes Nordwall (Parquet Courts, Blaenavon, Steve Gunn). Centred around the band’s incendiary live performance, the video explores the lyrical themes of ‘Martyr’ through striking symbolism and effects.
‘Martyr’ is the third track to be taken from Life After, following seven-minute track ‘Heaven Up There’. It’s another profoundly candid track from a band who have built a loyal global fanbase for their uniquely bittersweet arrangements.
Why we love it? Palace’ returning track will be a welcomed gift for anyone who found their debut a blissful and poetic delight. On ‘Martyr’, they’ve retained the clean, twinkling folk-tinged guitars, harmonious vocals and euphoric chorus’ that made them such an inviting prospect the first time round.(NK)
FFO: Genghar, Fleet Foxes
What? ‘That Hyde Trakk’
For the last couple of years LOFT, aka Aya Sinclair, has quietly been producing some of the most exciting, mind-bending electronic music to emerge out of a constantly mutating scene of underground, DIY club producers. ‘and depart from mono games’, her new EP, and her debut release on Tri Angle Records, due May 3rd, is an exhilarating continuation of a sound that’s increasingly hard to classify, separating her from the crowd and confirming why she’s undoubtedly one to watch.
First single ‘That Hyde Trakk’, is a stunning example of LOFT’s impressive artistic growth since emerging in 2016, transforming what could have been standard 90s drum and bass elements into genuinely new shapes.
Why we love it? Barking, quite bizarre yet utterly thrilling electronic music that turns your expectations upside down. A frantic tapestry of chirruping beats gives way to woozy synth blooms, swelling into a glorious ambient crescendo powered by accelerating breakbeats and sun washed bass.(BC)
FFO: Aphex Twin, Burial, Roni Size
What? ‘Different Ways’
What they say? Cowgirl’s latest release is a bitter-sweet romp of frantic guitars and dejected vocals. Recorded live at Greenmount Studios in Leeds, it follows the pop blueprint laid down by the likes of the Buzzcocks and Teenage Fanclub.
‘Different Ways’ echoes a shimmering Yo la Tengo–esque chorus, Velvet Underground chords and a west coast Californian chill all washed up in 3 minutes. Perfect pop blazing.
Why we love it? Three singles in and Cowgirl are now really beginning to hit their stride. ‘Different Ways’ captures perfectly what it feels like to finally emerge from a terrible hangover. It is equal parts bubblegum pop and fuzzy melody, providing much-needed clarity before filling your heart with joy.(SG)
FFO: Teenage Fanclub, The Rembrandts, Big Star
Who? Papur Wal
What? ‘Mae’r Dyddiau Gwell i Ddod’
Where? Cardiff, Wales, UK
What they say? Cardiff band ‘Papur Wal’ are set to release their brand new single entitled ‘Mae’r Dyddiau Gwell I Ddod’
The band spent the later half of 2018 writing and recording new material that will be released as the EP ‘Lle yn y Byd Mae Hyn? in late March. The first single is taken from the EP ‘Mae’r Dyddiau Gwell i Ddod’ is everything we hoped for, it’s a downbeat reflection on the tribulations of youthful uncertainties and loneliness, yet, with an eye on brighter times ahead.
The songs “slacker” musical heart chimes with distorted defiance and hope. This is a band in full control of their musical journey that’s only starting. In the words of Papur Wal: ‘ This song discusses leaving home to pursue one’s own life elsewhere, while simultaneously feeling the guilt of leaving others behind. It’s a song of guidance to a younger sibling, to learn from an older sibling’s mistakes. Central to this song is a shared experience of growing up alone at times, as a young person searching for where you want to be. Things may seem all doom and gloom, but they’ll get better soon.’
Why we love it? Languid vocals trending across frazzled arpeggios, infused with infectiousness that whilst its crawling on its knees retains hope in its heart. The excitement of the more urgent outro is the sound of spotting the light at the end of a very long tunnel and rushing towards it! (BC)
FFO: Sonic Youth, Sebadoah, Pixies
Who? Zoey Lily
What? I Wish I Had A Heart
What they say? Following the release of last years ‘2thousand&8teen’ collection, London based alt-pop artist Zoey Lily has announced the release of her next single ‘I Wish I Had A Heart’. The track was co-produced by Grace Carter’s drummer Toby Horton and mixed by James Kenosha (Birdy/Rhodes). Zoey explains,
”I Wish I Had A Heart’ is about feeling stuck in your own skin and being unable to deal with the outside world and everything that is expected from you in society so you’d rather hide away and basically stop living so no one can judge you anymore. To film the music video, I teamed up with a fine art student who previously had an open heart surgery himself and used parts of the tubes and equipment he still had at home.”
Why we love it? Like one of those ballerina boxes that you open up and are surprised by the contents. This fairytale waltz of a deceptively modern pop lullaby is laced with Lily’s exquisitely drawn vocals that peel away the layers of the pressure of the outside world. When she sings ‘I wish I had a heart’ you believe her. (BC)
FFO: Lana Del Rey, FKA Twigs, Sasha Sloan and Frank Ocean