This week I’m showering you with the left of centre, alternative goodness. Keep your hats on people, we are going on a ride from the smooth, synthy sounds of Mal the Oddity to the apocalyptic arcade of Basphlem and it’s all quite delicious.
Mal the Oddity » Right Now
I happened across Mal the Oddity a couple of weeks ago and returning to this track for this week’s feature it still stands up. There’s almost a Daft Punk quality to the lyric and melody writing in the sense that it’s such a simple but effective bit of songwriting. Listen to ‘Right Now’ and tell me you’re not immediately humming that melody for the rest of the day. With artists like Mal the Oddity, you feel in very safe hands. They clearly know what sounds good to them and they don’t plan on adding any extra flourishes or embellishments just for the sake of it. The self directed music video is worth a watch, too as you spend a day with Mal cruising around and living for the moment. If it works, it works and this certainly does.
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test » Apocalipstic
The jittering stop-start intro to ‘Apocalipstic’ is one of the most satisfying few seconds you can get before being fully launched into this disco-infused indie bop. I really hope that the guys won’t hate me for this comparison, but this has a bit of a ‘Made in Chelsea’ feel to it. They love a bit of clean-cut indie on that show and they tend to shoot for bands that are out of their league on the quality front and cool-kid factor, so (presuming I’ve got you back on side) this would fit the brief nicely. How can you go wrong with these vocals, that funky bass, a catchy guitar riff and a bit of synthy goodness and the richness of an indie drum groove to top it all off? You can’t, there I said it.
Sentient Robot » From the Outset (Your Own Way)
I really appreciate the music video that goes with this downtempo ballad from Sentient Robot. Both the track and the video incorporate many 80’s leaning textures and sounds, be it the neon lights and highways of the animation or the vocals, 80’s synth sounds and saxophone of the song itself. Perhaps if this track had been released in the decade of Spandau Ballet and George it would have been taken as a straightforward pop track. Today, however, there is something alternative sounding about this style that clearly cherishes all that synth and sax can offer but makes its mark with a truly contemporary feel and production. Contemporary 80’s dream-pop I’m calling it.
Family Mart » Starlite
In contrast to some of the bouncy indie tracks I’ve been featuring this week, the voice of Family Mart totally shifts ‘Starlite’ from being another impressive indie bop to something quite beautiful and poignant. I love music like this, where there’s a perfectly executed bit of juxtaposition. For me, that’s the push and pull of the guitar and drums against the soft, velvety vocal. Navigating points of contrast like that often add a new depth of meaning to a song and I think that’s what we get here with ‘Starlite’. A beautiful bit of songwriting delivered in an uptempo, lush sounding indie backdrop that firmly anchors the track as the vocal and lyric whisk you away. I’d like more of this, please.
Tiny Leaves » The Near Isle
Atmospheric, textured and profound are all words that I’d attribute to this stunning composition by Tiny Leaves. It comes from the album ‘Alone, Not Alone’ and there are so many quiet lonely moments of reflection in this track for you to bask in before being held by a swell of refined and thoughtful string and piano sounds and percussion. The artful ebb and flow of this piece mean that the 6 minutes and 18 seconds you listen for feels more like a minute and a half of deep contemplation. There’s no room for distraction as even the sound of the piano keys being hit by the hammer is a moment where the listener can drop even deeper into the music and remain there, as I did until the last sounds of strings escape them.
The Bland » La Hata Vitoye
I defy anyone to listen to La Hata Vitoye and not feel great. Can these guys please just open some kind of themed kooky bar or perhaps a boutique hotel I could drink sangria in and observe all the colourful characters who pass through its doors? I seriously have this song down as a contender for a wedding dance, it would have everyone up, out their seats and would bring back instant memories whenever you heard it’s shuffled shaker and cow bell play. The Bland clearly have bonds because I can’t see how a group could collectively produce as unique and cohesive a sound as this without being blood brothers of some sort. La Hata Vitoye offers a holiday in a song and it’s the type you’d give 5 stars to on Tripadvisor.
Sukko » Banana Juice
To top things off for this week’s indie extravaganza we have Norfolk based band Sukko delivering the feel-good, dance-worthy tune, ‘Banana Juice’, If I were Sukko, I would have been feeling particularly smug when coming up with that guitar riff. They clearly knew they were on to a good thing as its melodic, upbeat feel is mirrored in the vocal that reinforces the positive, summer mood the song provides for these colder, autumnal days. There also seems to be a theme of the stand out intros in this week’s selection of songs and ‘Banana Juice’ would be another entry I’d nominate for the ‘outstanding intros’ category. Wonderfully restrained drums, rich bits of piano that poke through towards the end and that cheeky riff, all in all, make for a hugely satisfying Norfolk indie number. Bet these guys are a good time live.
DAMM » Silence
DAMM is the alias of Dutch, London based songwriter Marleen Wegdam. DAMM appears to be the result of a deep sonic exploration this artist has taken to achieve the dark, expansive sound we hear in ‘Silence’. The pitched ghostly vocals, ricocheting beats and inky, undulating production all manage to highlight the singer’s own beautiful vocal and offer a captivating, fragmented backdrop to the song. ‘Silence’ seeps into all your senses, and as a listener, I feel you’d be hard-pressed not to picture towering cityscapes and oppressive, looming shadows chasing you down as you listen in the dark. If you’re looking for some escapism, I’d recommend submerging yourself in the devastatingly intoxicating world of DAMM.
Basphlem » Sync Attempt 01
‘Sync Attempt 01’ is an instrumental, electronic, hip-hop-infused track from Basphlem’s debut EP and it’s a number that certainly caught my attention. To my ears, this track would not have been out of place had I discovered it on the dark, undulating soundtrack of the film ‘Drive’ which boasts songs like ‘Nightcall’ by fellow contemporary electronic DJ Kavinsky in its credits. That’s also exactly what I want to be doing when I listen to this track: driving, in the dark, ideally through some kind of nordic wilderness I can just about make out under my car’s lights. The dynamics, textures and atmosphere that Basphlem has created in this piece are mesmerising. Deep, driving bass and gritty production details are masterfully woven through with bits of woodwind instruments and fluttering melodic lines that suspend the listener somewhere between heaven and earth. It’s quite an experience, now go for a drive.
Make sure to follow our playlist on Spotify as we will be updating it and adding more hidden treasures every Thursday.