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Fortnightly Shortbites – Mid to Late February

It’s a slightly shorter (and later) Fortnightly Shortbites this time around, due to unforeseen personal circumstances, but let that not stand in the way of quite a few terrific releases from mid to late February this year. Thanks to Trev Elkin for his input once again – if he’s not credited at the end of a review, then it was me who wrote the words. Read on, lend these acts your ears and see what you make of this edition’s selections…

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Toronto four-piece Fjord Mustang offer a tasty smorgasbord of indie rock on their debut Solitaire, and album that precariously layers up jangly slithers of Scandi-coloured sounds and sleepy ballads between more substantial chunks of Radiohead-influenced tunes. Vocalist Vick Egan is very much at home spanning this genre, trailing a dotted line between Elena Tonra and Molly Rankin, via Adrianne Lenker (not that imitation is the aim of Fjord Mustang’s game, just that it’s important to have some reference points when you’re joining an already crowded party).  While ‘Thread the Needle’ serves up power riffs, and the introspective sway of songs like ‘Five Years’ and ‘Final Thoughts’ are nicely familiar lullabies for lonely hearts, other tracks here hint at Fjord Mustang’s more nuanced depths. However, the gorgeously warped ‘VHS’ the cool 90s college radio chorus on ‘Fortune’ or the brief nostalgic uplift of ‘Lakes Inn’ seem a little at odds with the OK, Computer guitar licks that dominate elsewhere. That said, we’re nit picking, this is a solid first release and definitely worth your time. 7/10 Trev Elkin 

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Dropper, fronted by Brooklyn’s Andrea Scanniello, bridge the gap between Throwing Muses, ABBA and The Cocteau Twins on their new album Don’t Talk To Me, the latter band’s ethereal presence being most noticeable on the dreamy ‘Better‘ but there’s also a satisfying nod back to the late ’50s and early ’60s on songs like ‘Signal‘ and ‘Waste Of Time‘ with echoes of both Connie Francis and Dusty Springfield pulsing through their veins. It’s a tremendously enjoyable record. 8/10

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Former Babies band member and Kevin Morby associate Justin Sullivan plies his trade under the name Night Shop these days and he’s clearly been paying attention to his Texan buddy, as is evident on ‘Let Me Begin‘ and ‘Pensacola, Florida‘, both of which could easily have come straight off Morby’s Singing Saw, albeit Forever Night is a more traditionally romantic long player, not anywhere near as off kilter as Kevin is known for wandering. It’s a truly lovely album actually – totally relaxed, like a ‘happy sunbathing’ kind of release, and I’m all for that myself! 8/10

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London 8-piece avant-folk ensemble caroline are the epitome of restraint. They don’t seem in a hurry to make a name for themselves or cause a stir, and yet their phenomenal debut album is likely to do exactly that. The group seem to have an unconscious connection and shared musical vision, bringing piano, cello, brass, percussion and guitar together in unique, transient and improvised passages that soothe and scare in equal measure. When they’re loud, caroline are magnificent but their quieter moments are even more exquisite, teasing out accidental sounds, cymbal scratches and bow scrapes, like ghosts responding to vocalist Jasper Llewellyn’s sparse devotional calls. Everything is suspended on a higher plane and deeper listening is rewarded by a calming, meditative effect. Imagine the energy of early (i.e. British) Sea Power, but contained and exercised with spiritual precision. 9/10 Trev Elkin

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Lauded by Steve Lamacq, Bambara’s noir-punk nihilism reminds us of Birthday Party with a dash of Whipping Boy. A mini-album, Love on My Mind breaks the creative block imposed by lockdowns and isolation, turning it on itself by tackling motives of the heart with a creeping sense of mortality. Standout ‘Birds’ creaks under its own weight, rattlesnake shivvers slipping between the cracks in its unsteady beat while distant fiery guitars smoulder and flare. 7/10 Trev Elkin

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I shouldn’t really cover metal albums, I have to admit (well, I guess this one’s more grunge punk pop). Not that there aren’t some that I respect and admire – of COURSE there are, and then there are the rest. California’s Original Son have released an album called Currents and I just don’t get it, I really don’t. To me it sounds like going to the toilet in a nightclub and hearing someone throwing up again and again in the next cubicle – somewhat akin listening to Nickelback really, if Chad Kroeger had got stuck in the long queue at a supermarket and was a little miffed about it. But who knows, it’s probably brilliant to metalheads and punk pop fans alike, so don’t take any notice of me, if you’re a connoisseur of the genre, just check it out below. 3/10

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Far more up my alley was the stoner pop of the aptly named Drug Couple‘s even more aptly named Stoned Weekend. A duo comprised of Miles and Becca Robinson, Drug Couple make a quite intoxicating noise that is three parts psychedelic rock and two parts pretty – albeit ballsy – melody. Singling tracks out would be futile where Stoned Weekend is concerned as it is a wholly immersive experience. There’s not a lot else to say about it other than it’s ultimately a very pleasurable affair. 8/10

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Daytime TV certainly have the potential to be huge, given that their sounds sits somewhere between Royal Blood, Counting Crows, The Killers and Imagine Dragons. These are infinitely singalongable tunes, especially ‘Hush‘ (not the one popularised by Deep Purple and later Kula Shaker) which reminds me a little of White Lies. It’s all just a tad too clean for my liking production wise, on new album Nothing’s On But Everyone’s Watching, but there’s no doubt that they’ve got something, and I feel like their time is about to come. 6/10

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Lean in and listen beyond the obvious Portishead, PJ Harvey & Nick Cave comparisons and you’ll find something curiously different about Liverpool’s King Hannah. Debut album I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me sounds like it’s ready for a desert road trip, with thunderous rumbling guitars and deep toms shuffling us along while Hannah Merrick’s sullen, hazy drawl sings about… bedwetting, go-karting, choking on dumplings and unwanted pregnancy? Not quite Route 66, then, and all the better for it. 8/10 Trev Elkin

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.