Here we are again, back for another week of undiscovered gems you really ought to know about. In true October spirit it just so happens that ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Scars’ (spooooky) were two of our standout tracks this week. Enjoy the soundtrack to your Halloween weekend.
Mortimer Jackson » Ghosts
‘Ghosts’ is a track that has so many levels to it, each one emerging like a sonic gift, surprising you but in no way jarring. This is my top pick from the selection of tracks this week for its sheer quality and imagination. I felt like I’d gotten a membership to a secret club when I discovered Mortimer Jackson, the kind where you all give each other knowing looks and nods as you sit back and bask in the talents of someone who’s working on an untouchable level of creativity and craftsmanship. How are more people not part of this club?! I hope that others will get to listen to ‘Ghosts’ and experience the same thrill I did as perfectly accented drums, deftly played the guitar and truly innovative songwriting come together to blow you away.
AJE (Ambient Jazz Ensemble) » Scars
What a luxurious and tantalising track from AJE. There’s so much going on in this song, from its tender, reflective beginning to the warm, rich finale. ‘Scars’ is delivered with expert control as it takes the listener on an immersive narrative of redemption and acceptance. I delighted in the push and pull of the arrangement throughout and took particular pleasure over the moment we are thrown from the dark, tentative beginnings into the confident, rumbling world of jazz drums, swelling horns and deluxe vocals that make for an even more thrilling listen. This is the kind of music that is destined to be heard in a live setting where the audience and musicians alike can bask in the beauty of what they’ve created.
Dugo » Recluse (edit Mix)
All I need music to do for me is capture my imagination, and in this instrumental track by Dugo, it does just that. What I thought was going to be a simple electronic synth track quickly floored me with its intricate percussion, organic textures and beautifully detailed guitar arrangements. It’s a joy to discover artists like this, the ones who understand their own intention and perspective so well that, as a listener, you not only feel in very safe hands, but you’re just happy to get a front row seat to the performance. What stood out to me with this track was that amongst the impressive production and captivating flamenco guitar there was a true ‘voice’ to the music that is a result of Dugo’s ability to tell a story through their motifs and composition.
HOL » Sunset Kids
‘Sunset Kids’ is a feel-good, indie-pop tune from artist HOL and it’s bound to lift your spirits first thing on a cold autumn morning. Despite the teenage angst and self-reflective lyric, there’s something hopeful and joyous about this track. Perhaps it’s the gloriously pop chorus that you’ll be singing for days to come or the tambourine which provides sprinklings of light relief against the darker more self-searching themes. For me, HOL seems to recognise the cliché she’s singing about in the song and it’s that self-awareness that adds another layer of intrigue and playfulness to the track. The wonderfully warm and assured vocal also gives a more lighthearted, upbeat feel to what is, at its core, an emotional bedroom ballad for the misunderstood youth.
Spiritbox » A Strange Loss
Listening to ‘A Strange Loss’ is like being immersed in a piece of performance art, or a brooding play that manages to take place over the course of all of six minutes and four seconds. Both vocals are remarkable and thankfully make for a beautiful blend when they do join together for parallel moments of reflection. Languid guitar, gentle, brushed drums and an expansive, moody synth flesh out the production, still leaving plenty of space for these two voices to take centre stage. There is such restraint in the arrangement, delicate notes of piano tentatively playing to us as the story unfolds. Nothing overtakes or interrupts the flow of the track and no space is filled gratuitously, instead, the listener is left to experience the mesmeric ebb and flow of the piece from start to finish.
The Dustbowl Daddies » O Little Fire, O Little Light of Wisdom
I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for harmonies and when they’re delivered with this much joy and abundance, as can be heard in this track by The Dustbowl Daddies, then I’m sold. This is a gloriously uplifting and dancefloor worthy song by the alt-folk troupe. Simple, well-crafted songwriting and space for musicians to let rip and go hell for leather on a banjo is all you can ask for from an outfit as musically wholesome as this one. I’m from Scotland where we love a knees-up, a good time or a ceilidh and if these guys ever feel the need to tour this part of the world (if we’re ever allowed to have fun again) then I can guarantee they’d be welcomed into the thriving ‘trad’ scene here and embraced for their high energy, musically festive tunes.
The U Club » Dirty Laundry
You are barely late to the party with London based outfit The U Club as they’re only just onto their second single. It was their debut track, ‘Dirty Laundry’ that caught my attention, however. Soft, innocent-sounding vocals contrast with the more rock-driven arrangement and make for a fresh sound. The more I listened to this track, the more I realised how well written and musically-minded it was as well as picking up on the subtle sprinklings of humour that gave the feeling that this is a band not interested in taking themselves too seriously (in the best way possible). Beautiful harmonies and direct, memorable lyrics are what makes this song stand out. The U Club are really onto something here with their deft blend of well crafted, laid back indie production and that captivating vocal and lyrical style to tie it all together.
Mystic Waxx » Gravitational Waves
The name of this track provides a good description of what the listening experience has in store. Deep, swelling production drawing on sound design, swirling synths and detailed, textured percussion lays the groundwork for the astonishing vocals that complete this track from Mystic Waxx. All elements combined, this hit me in the same way that a Björk track can. The production and musical backdrop is the impressive bedrock of the song, but for all its experimental arpeggiators and industrial roots (which alone still make for an engaging and immersive listen), it is the uncanny vocal performance that really captivated my imagination and added a new, welcome dimension to this unearthly, probing piece by Mystic Waxx.
Hazel » Thinking On
There’s something about this band’s laidback, quietly confident sound in ‘Thinking On’ that really resonated with me. I was more than happy to sit back and enjoy the gentle vocals, moments of rumbling, ‘cowboy’ guitar and warmly warbling synths to accompany me on my afternoon. Hazel are a band that doesn’t have anything to prove, they are offering quality, thoughtful songwriting that explores gentle rock landscapes and synth-infused arrangements but with enough innovation to create a sound all of their own. Where this song particularly succeeds is in its artful transition from expansive, electronic synth sounds to the organic jangling guitar and drums and back again. It’s a cocktail of sounds that have been used with great expertise and, for me, completely succeeded in bringing ‘Thinking On’ to life.
Make sure to follow our playlist on Spotify as we will be updating it and adding more hidden treasures every Thursday.