Fyfe – Solace

Fyfe - Solace

Fyfe – Solace (2013)

Choices… choices… going for one from my The Great Escape 2014 Hitlist today, my shortlist of 56 bands narrowed down from the 315-strong TGE2014 longlist of bands playing at this year’s Festival of new music in Brighton. High up on the list: Fyfe.

It’s my 5th year there in a row – and the pressure’s on for the annual event that’s so far introduced me to some of my favourite acts (last year’s highlights, Balthazar and Findlay to name two) and meant that I’ve been able to see many more.

Fyfe is the current project of London singer-songwriter and guitarist Paul Dixon, who’s previously recorded under the name “David’s Lyre”. The song is the title track from his Solace EP, released on Benvolio Music last year. This is one for those moments when things outside of your control and you need 5 minutes to gather your thoughts:

Fyfe – Solace

Calm – but with a build that gets you pumped. Don’t get me wrong – it’s no “Eye of The Tiger”, but it has a subtle, rousing strength behind it that’ll pick you back up again, especially the last minute and a half.

Vocally actually reminds me a little of Dan Croll, but with an altogether more soulful, less indie/pop sound. Really hope the inevitable clashes and queues don’t stop me from getting to this one…

Emily Wells – Passenger

Emily Wells - Mama

Emily Wells – Mama (2012)

Mind. Blown.

Just had to get that out there before I go into any detail about last night’s performance from Emily Wells at The Lexington. I’d listened to her 2012 album, Mama (Partisan Records), a few times before the show, seen some fantastic films on YouTube (embeds below)….but none of that came even close to preparing me for the incredible talent I witnessed yesterday evening.

I had my ‘Top of 2013’ lists all ready…but she’s completely flipped them – forget about Beyoncé’s surprise release….2013 is now “the year I discovered the music of Emily Wells”.

Where a certain artist – who I won’t name explicitly because I actually do love her music – gave me chills recorded but was a letdown live (lack of experience? nerves? bad sound? venue too big? I’ve been making excuses to myself ever since), Emily Wells surpassed any expectation I had before the gig.

She’s a supremely talented musician, a true artiste and radiates an ironically self-professed “Wells Charm” – with a mesmerising and somewhat siren-like voice that pierces the heart delivered impeccably over cinematic, ornate and intensely layered, live sampled instrumentation from synths, percussion…and live violin (she managed to incorporate a Vivaldi Violin Concerto into her performance).

The last time a solo artist struck me in a similar way was when I saw Abi Wade – and Emily Wells took that to another level.

I’d heard her cover of Haddaway’s “What Is Love?” just earlier in the day – but yesterday we were treated to her lively take on “Fever”:

A little bit about Emily Wells herself – her song, “Becomes the Color” featured on the soundtrack to the movie Stoker and she’s a producer, singer and composer who blends classical and modern instrumentation with hip hop and experimental dance music elements.

She’s based in New York, currently signed to Partisan Records,  has 7 “studio” albums, 1 acoustic album, 1 EP and 1 collaborative release to her name – and she’s covered “Juicy”. Yes – Notorious B.I.G’s “Juicy”.

Here’s “Mama’s Gonna Give You Love”:

And here’s the track the prompted me to go and see her live in the first place:

Emily Wells – Passenger



Belle Mare – Charade

I love it when a song makes my spine tingle:

Belle Mare – “Charade”

Belle Mare - The Boat of the Fragile Mind (2013)

Belle Mare –

Perhaps it was the unexpected discovery, perhaps it was the antidote to the hustle of the office, or perhaps it was the echo in the stripped back, guitar+vocal ensemble that forms the basis of this track from Belle Mare’s 2013 debut release, The Boat of the Fragile Mind – even the title of the album conveys a delicate fragility that might lead it to shatter if you speak its name too loudly, doesn’t it? – but I actually physically shivered the first time I heard this song.

So I had to go and listen to the full release – which I’d highly recommend that you do as well if you appreciate this song in the slightest. Belle Mare are London-but-currently-based-in-Brooklyn band, singer Amelia Bushell and guitarist Thomas Servidone.

They’ve quickly earned a place in my top albums of the year so far and on every gig alert service I currently subscribe to. Unfortunately no shows seem to be in the pipeline at the moment – but I’m hoping for a St. Pancras Old Church appearance in the near future….

Oh – and I should really thanks Tastebuds (client) user @RobLickeR for the introduction…it’s thanks to him I am able to share this.

At the risk of sounding like an M&S advert, this isn’t “dream pop”, this is an anguished and mournful expression of longing.

Annie Eve – Body Weight

Annie Eve

Annie Eve – Bodyweight (2013)

Playing catch-up here a little, so there’s going to be a flurry of activity while I do it.

If you don’t experience a sharp intake of breath when the vocal truly kicks in at about 45s, you may well not be breathing.

Country folk, singer-songwriter, whatever genre you want to label it with, there’s no doubting the intense and personal resonance behind the sound that is 21 year old Annie Eve from London’s North. I have to honestly hold my hands up and say I thought she was American. She isn’t.

Gutted to have missed her show at London’s St. Pancras Old Church earlier this month – it would have been the perfect setting for her breathtakingly beautiful music – but I’m holding out for new of some more.

This is the first song I heard of hers, “Body Weight”:

….and I don’t think there’s anything more needs to be said, really.

Hannah Cohen – The Crying Game

Hannah Cohen

Hannah Cohen – Child Bride (2012)

Hannah Cohen is an American singer-songwriter”, says Google. Factual, yes, but doesn’t even come close to doing her justice.

The first words that come to mind on hearing her voice are, for me, delicatevulnerablesinceretentative – as though she’s fearful of even breathing the words that express the intense longing and sadness she’s trying so hard to conceal from the world.

So maybe I’m reading a little much into it – but the last voice that had this sort of lingering, *please let me hear it again* effect on my repeat button was Chelsea Wolfe….and she reminded me of Lia Ices. And that was nearly 2 and half years ago.

This is a song from her 2012 debut release on Bella Union, Child Bride, all of which is similarly soft and heartfelt but perhaps not as tinged with melancholy as the one I’ve embedded below:

Hannah Cohen – The Crying Game

I’d love to see her live…and experience whether or not it sounds as beautiful in person…but nothing listed right now.

Guess I’ll just have to wait….

Chelsea Wolfe – The Way We Used To

Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe - Unknown Rooms : A Collection of Acoustic Songs (2012)

Confession time – I discovered Chelsea Wolfe through Ricall. She’s one of their Ones to Watch for 2013 and actually my favourite of the lot.

Musically, she reminds me of one of my favourite artists and most memorable live artists of 2011, Lia Ices – vocally sometimes similarly ethereal, sometimes less ethereal, more earthy…I can imagine her travelling medieval lands…like a troubadour perhaps.

This is a track from her 2012 album, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, released on Sargent House in October – well, actually two tracks because I want to show you the two alternatives.

Ethereal: “The Way We Used To

Earthy: “Appalachia

This isn’t a debut, or a sophomore release – it’s the third studio album from Sacramento’s Chelsea Wolfe, but unlike the first two albums, which were more industrial and noisy, less acoustic, Unknown Rooms is bare boned and bleak – there’s clearly a reason for the “doom-folk” epithet.

One I’d love to see live in 2013 – in a dark, (machine-)smokey basement….

Jake Bugg – Taste It

Jake Bugg is 18 years old.

Just let that sink in for a second – and now listen:

Jake Bugg – “Taste It”

Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg - Taste It EP (2012)

I couldn’t get tickets for the London dates – they sold out between my deciding to go and finding someone to come with me – so I’m going all the way to Cambridge to see him.

This is one of the more 70s pop/Beatles-reminiscent tracks from his self-titled debut album, some are a bit more Bluegrass, some a little more prairie folk, all from an album that’s reflective of an old soul with a young heart.

As I said, he’s 18 – and in his words: “I play guitar and sing.

Released via the Taste It EP in July of this year and now part of the album Jake Bugg on Mercury Records.

Merry Christmas all!

Abi Wade – Hope

Abi Wade - The Slaughtered Lamb 12/09/2012

Abi Wade - The Slaughtered Lamb 12/09/2012

Listening to much of her music, you’d be forgiven for thinking Abi Wade was at least 3 people. The sounds she combines into complex rhythms, created with just a ‘cello, the various implements she uses to strike it and a foot-pedalled contraption joining a tambourine and block, on more than one occasion during her set at The Slaughtered Lamb last night, rendered my jaw dropped-open.

She’s released just one EP so far, And Blood And Air available through the bandcamp of her label, Brighton-based Love Thy Neighbour, and there are a couple of live recordings up on her soundcloud page right now as well.

The recordings themselves are beautiful – but her live performance last night, was an entirely unique experience. The clarity of Abi’s haunting and almost siren-like vocals combined with the visual display of rhythm and co-ordination was unbelievable.

This was my favourite song from her set:

Abi Wade – Hope 

Although I had originally wanted to see her at the Unitarian Church during The Great Escape 2012, a venue that would have, I’m sure, been a backdrop worthy of her other-worldly sound, the somewhat clandestine and lounge feel of The Slaughtered Lam was equally fitting.

Her influences are numerous – you can see some of them on her YouTube Channel where you’ll also find this Maccabees cover:

Find out where Abi Wade is playing next, and go.

More James Vincent McMorrow

James Vincent McMorrow - St. Pancras Old Church (2011)

Heads up – I may come across as a bit of a James Vincent McMorrow groupie in this post…I don’t really mind though, every time I hear something new from him I rave for a while.

I last posted about him in January of this year before the release of his debut album and before I saw him at live St. Pancras Old Church in Feb. I’m not writing this to gush about the gig (beautifully stripped back performance in a breathtaking venue) or remind you about the album – just to post up a few bits and pieces I’ve heard since then; some covers and an unexpected feature. In order of discovery:

Whip My Hair (Willow Smith Cover) – entirely unrecognisable version of the  pop single from Will Smith’s just-turned-eleven year old daughter.

Higher Love (Steve Winwood Cover) – recently used on a LOVEFiLM ad JVMcM strips this 80s Grammy Record of the Year down to piano-backed vocal.

Wicked Game (Chris Isaak Cover) – I posted an Exlovers version of this and also recently heard one by Widowspeak, both are great but JVMcM’s is my favourite, second only to the original (check out that music video!)

and…most recently:

Shells of Silver (The Japanese Popstars ft. JVMcM) – could’ve sworn it was him when I heard it on Gossip Girl (s5e7) last week but when I Shazam’d it I got a track by The Japanese Popstars. Turns out he features on this synthy atmospheric track from the Northern Irish act – great to hear what he can do outside of his singer-songwriter realm.

Everything he touches is gold for me right now. Can’t wait to see what comes next year…