Creators Monthly

Creators Monthly: December

And we’re back! Can you believe December has already come and gone? This year hasn’t been an easy one for musicians worldwide, but despite the tough times, we’ve heard some phenomenal tunes. DIY music has made a massive comeback and revived an era of the ‘bedroom musician’, an age in which some of the best songs throughout time have emerged.

So without further ado, for one last time this year, let’s dive into Creators Monthly – music submitted to us by YOU, our readers. WE LOVE YOU.

Oracle Sisters

Julia Johansen, originally from Finland, arrived in Paris with her guitar in hand ready to pursue a new adventure in music. Stepping off the plane, she met Lewis Lazar and Christopher Willatt, two other songwriters who had also just set foot in the country. Together, they became Oracle Sisters and by combining their ideas, built the extraordinary amalgamation of sounds you hear today. It’s been a big year for the band, who have just released their debut EP and gigged alongside the likes of Fontaines D.C.

Their first single ‘The Dandelion’ from their upcoming EP premiered this month, creating excitement for things to come amongst their growing number of fans. Their dreamy soundscape embodies a calling to new experiences, a love letter to the groups new found Parisian home and the beautifully unexpected events which transpired to bring this trio together.

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Kirsteen Harvey

Kirsteen Harvey’s early influences growing up in Glasgow were a broad mix of genres, all of which have helped shape her sound today. Kirsteen transitioned from the world of performing arts and branched out into the world of songwriting. Experimenting with her sound and creating this great blend of Jazz, Country and Folk music, her latest single ‘Dancefloor Treason’ is the third in a wave of new material with much more to come. Her singles ‘Dancefloor Treason’ and ‘Tongue Tied’ are woven together through a shared story told through two different perspectives.

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The year 2020 started with a bang for the band Gaylips after being played on Radio 6 music, but then as we all know, Covid hit the world of music big time, with upcoming artists significantly affected. This duo, however, decided not to sit around twiddling their thumbs and waiting for recording studios to reopen. They got down to business writing and recording over Zoom and performing online acoustic sets to their Facebook following. The resulting songs are something the band are incredibly proud. The unexpected twist at the start of their musical journey only preserves a particular DIY element, which from their songs to this awesome music video, makes us feel like we’ve travelled back to the 90’s MTV garage rock days.

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Frankie Raye

Frankie Raye takes a unique approach to songwriting. Her new single ‘Theodora’ is inspired not by her own life, but by a 6th-century Byzantine empress married to Emperor Justinian I. As one of the most powerful Women in Byzantine history, Theodora used her power to influence a positive change in women’s rights. Through these historical anecdotes, songwriter Frankie Raye echos her own message to the world, an influential songwriter with a voice to be listened to.

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Sofie Vein

Santa Monica is young songwriter Sofie Veins’ debut single, written and recorded from her bedroom at home. At only 17 years old, we can’t wait to see what this young talent writes next. The single is the first from her new EP currently in the works.

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Gulz is a 22-year-old songwriter from Newcastle who’s latest single ‘Welcome Home’ is full of the very best elements of the UK’s Britpop era. In classic Britpop style, his songs speak about a generation’s frustration with their country, with things out of their control, with the ongoing pandemic and with awful political figures.

Gulz has been performing live for the last three years while living in London, where he studies as a medical student. In his spare time (something medical students don’t have much of yet somehow he manages it) Gulz fills every local open mic night and bar with the sound of his infectious guitar riffs and smooth, charming voice.

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Marlene Oak

The last artist on our list is often someone truly extraordinary, and Marlene Oak is no exception to that. The effortlessly cool singer from a tiny island off the coast of Stockholm, Sweden, is quickly taking her country by storm, and soon the rest of the world with it. Her fantastic-tune ‘Never Comes Easy’ from her 2016 EP Head Held High, is a brilliant blend of blues, rock, folk and soul. Marlene ties all this together again brilliantly in her brand new album ‘Northern Winds’. With an out-of-this-world voice, her new album has quickly built up significant interest, and it’s something the rest of the world needs to hear.

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Thanks to all the musicians who submitted their music this month, make sure to keep an eye out for more brilliant artists in the new year. We’ll see you there!

– The TWM Team x

Make music? In a band? We want to hear from you! Submit now for a chance to be featured in next month’s Creators Monthly.

Can’t wait for more? Read last months issue here.

Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: WhenYoung

WhenYoung started cooking up brilliant tunes as a group back in 2017 when the Irish trio, formed of vocalist and bass player, Aoife Power, Niall Burns (Guitar) and Andrew Flood (Drums) moved to Dublin under the band’s original name ‘Sisters’. Their debut singles ‘Actor’ and ‘Silverchair’ paved the way to quick success after gaining a few local names as fans – The Pogues frontman, Shane MacGowan, and the man himself; Bono… so no biggy really.

Later that year they were invited to play MacGowan’s 60th birthday in Dublin city centre without even having released an album at the time. WhenYoung, or ‘Sisters’ as they were, must have known from their early experiences that they were onto something special.

And indeed they were… now with an even more developed, kick-ass sound, it doesn’t take long to realise why they gained such legendary fans.

The group met in true Irish rock n’ roll style, sneaking into their local pub in the town of Limerick for some underage drinking and chats about the bands they loved. Later, after forming a band themselves, they moved to Dublin; a city big enough to suit their ambition. They went looking for the excitement they craved, and golly they most definitely found it.

WhenYoung are very much the next generation of bands such as The Cranberries and The Velvet Underground. If you’re a fan of either, this is a band for you.

Nowadays, with their first album ‘Reasons To Dream’ out in the world for all to hear, and with more people than ever having their ears tuned to the group’s unmissable sound, the three friends from a small town in Ireland are set to concur the world. WhenYoung have since based themselves in London, a bigger city fit for the scale of things to come? Don’t we know it.

Check out WhenYoung on Spotify now.

Indie/Indie Rock Pop/Indie Pop Uncategorized

Totally Wired Christmas Tunes

Goodness is it Christmas already? Christ (no pun intended) but I haven’t even done all my Christmas shopping. Oh well, it’s that time of year again. I know I say this every year but it feels it were only yesterday we were celebrating Christmas, but blimey 2020 has been a bit of a mad one hasn’t it? Christmas, being a time of giving and celebration motivated me to think of the different festive tracks that help bring us all together, filled with nostalgia and the smell of spice in the air. So join me as I go through my top 15 Christmas Songs.

15. Stop The Calvary – Jona Lewie

It’s one of those songs that just makes Christmas. From the synths that carry the song, the brass section’s hook to the bells. Although never intended as a Christmas song, Lewie stating it was meant as a protest song, and in some regions, it was released in Springtime as opposed to the festive season here in the UK. But the timing, the what we’d now call Christmas sounding instrumentation and of course the classic line “Wish I could be home for Christmas”, has inadvertently made Lewie’s song a Christmas classic.

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14. Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) – The Darkness

I think The Darkness get a bit of a bad rep of being that strange cheesy 00’s band that Liam Gallagher dissed a bit. But all the same, I think they’re a lot of people’s guilty pleasures, and the tunes people like? People sure as hell love. The comedic tone, Justin Hawkin’s famous falsettos and just being an overall feel-good song for the festive season, makes it one that maybe not everyone needs to have on their playlists this time of year, but it’s one that has a special place in my heart for just being utterly ridiculous, but bangs nevertheless.

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13. Peace On Earth / The Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Taking things a bit slower this time around, this tune was debuted on Crosby’s television special, ‘Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas’. The colliding worlds of Crosby and Bowie at this time was something of a shock to people. At the time, Bowie was trying to ‘normalise’ his career, and actively stated he hated The Little Drummer Boy song, which led to him asking if he could sing something else leading to the now surreal collaboration and iconic Christmas song. And I mean come on, combining the undeniable Christmas aura of Crosby with the Man who fell to Earth himself, just screams out its magnificence.

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12. Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea

Keeping with the slower mood here, Driving Home For Christmas is a song most people adore for that moment with the family when the drinks are starting to run low and the energy needs a little break, that we all take a breather to sway our heads. It’s like if Christmas suddenly became an elevator, this is the song that would play inside it. It’s quite poignant today with the hard times we’re all faced with. A lot of people who were looking forward to driving home for Christmas can’t anymore. So for now, join me in listening to this, with a glass in hand. Here’s to a future where we can all get together and celebrate with each other, for the best Christmases yet to come.

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11. Christmas Time Is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio (From A Charlie Brown Christmas)

Yeah, this is a very unconventional one to have on the list I know. But Charlie Brown has been very present since my childhood. My mum was a big advocate of ‘get your kids into the same stuff you were into as a kid’. Big vibe tho. This song, despite sounding very melancholy, it feels so warm. It makes you want to cosy up by the fireside for the favourite time of year. Christmas to me has two sides. The crazy go all-out party filled with joy and love, and the softer watch the snowfall out the window, with this song emoting the latter. It’s not one to dance to, but not every festive tune needs to be. Sometimes in the abundance of commercialization, something more genuine that helps appreciate what Christmas time is really all about.

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10. Step Into Christmas – Elton John

Kicking a bit of life back into the tunes. I mean you can never go wrong with Elton, can you? The flamboyant ecstasy of his music, the way his range swings up and down evoking this addictive danceable hit that you just end up craving more and more every time you hear it. Sometimes feeling a little goofy, but fun and wonderful all the same. Something remarkable to note about the song is that it was written intended as a thank you to fans due to the success Elton had gained in 1972. Written on a Sunday morning and recorded that very evening! That’s pretty good, even for our lad Elton, so cheers Rocket Man.

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9. Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid 1984

A classic. We all know it, we all know what it’s for, the impact it had and the legacy it carries. It’s never been topped by its anniversary versions, but that’s why the original is such a corker. It was never the immediate catchy pop hook to give your brain a high and then leave you alone till next year, but it feels like part of that was the intention. When writing a song about the Ethiopian famine crisis of the time, getting a message across is important. Do They Know It’s Christmas? is the kind of song where upon first listen, it begs you to start wondering, just what on earth is all this about? Which is how even after the efforts of Band Aid, and after that fateful Christmas in 1984. Do They Know It’s Christmas? remains a classic, all years round.

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8. Is This Christmas? – The Wombats

Now, not the most conventional Christmas song on the list no, but in my house, Christmas time wouldn’t be complete without hearing this. Something about the trumpets at the start taking you back to Doctor Who Christmas specials. The emotive joy of Christmas colliding with the indie rock of the late 00s Wombats sound feels so nostalgic yet fresh, it’s a vibe that I don’t think can be really described, listen to the song yourself and see. Even if it’s not a classic from wherever you are, for me, it deserves a top spot in the best Christmas songs around. It’s unbelievably addictive and brings me so much joy.

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7. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

Just try and be a Scrooge when this song is playing, I dare you. It’s one of those o’ so nostalgic tracks that does completely make you feel like a kid again. That innocence of the world and all the joys it can bring. You know when there isn’t a global pandemic going on… But you know, forget all that, this song is just brilliant. It’s one of the most danceable ones and for that, it makes for a perfect song to put on at every Christmas party and festive sing-a-long.

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6. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

Yeah alright I know, I know. Not really a Christmas song, not even the go-to song if you’re even thinking about the Beach Boys. But for me, this has become an absolute Christmas classic. Ever since hearing it in the festive film Love Actually, the complete and utter association with the Christmas period has made it and Christmas, fantastically inseparable. Although originally a B-Side, there’s just something about this song that makes it such a cute and wholesome track to hear regardless of the lyrical content, the instrumentation matches the words in a peculiar way and it’s just so lovely. It also happens to be one of Paul McCartney’s favourite songs, and if a Beatle says your song is their favourite, you’ve clearly written something gold.

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5. Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney

And well speaking of McCartney, I mean you knew it had to be on this list somewhere right? It’s just such a feel-good festive bop. The delayed synths, the choirs, the ding dong ding dongs, everything about this song screams get up and dance like it’s the best Christmas party in town and I LOVE IT. There is also something incredibly nostalgic about this one especially, perhaps just hearing Paul McCartney’s voice is what does it, but whatever it really is, it makes for one of the catchiest Christmas tunes around, and one that definitely isn’t going anywhere, asides from in our ears.

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4. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon and Yoko Ono

This was hard to put forward more than McCartney’s Christmas outing, but I think people generally would say this is a genuine classic, and the depth of the lyrics also make for a somewhat reflective and loving perspective when listening. And because of that, it’s one of the few Christmas songs that actually get the real heartwarming message of Christmas through. Not thinking about the presents or the gigantic meals we all decide we’ll consume on one day of the year, but about the people around you, family, friends and the people all around the world. As perhaps THE pioneer of peace and love, it’s no surprise that John Lennon was able to write one of the best Christmas songs, that stays relevant almost 50 years later.

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Before I do go onto my top 3 I would like to give a shout out to a few honorable mentions. Partly because I love some and I just couldn’t add them to an already big list, and partly because if I don’t mention them now, I really will get absolutely slandered by everyone. But very quickly let’s not forget;

What’s This? – Danny Elfman (From The Nightmare Before Christmas), Winter Wonderland – Bing Crosby, Proper Crimbo – Bo Selecta, Walking In The Air – Peter Auty (From The Snowman), Yule Shoot Your Eye Out – Fall Out Boy, Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens, Don’t Shoot Me Santa – The Killers, White Christmas – Bing Crosby, All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

But now, onto the Top Three.

3, Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade

Who doesn’t like Slade’s slapper of a song? Whether you’re nostalgic for the days of old, where Christmas was slightly less commercialised, or from it being almost the only song guaranteed to be in Doctor Who Christmas specials. I think this was possibly the first Christmas song I ever actually enjoyed, makes me sound like a real young Scrooge, but this was a Christmas song that ROCKED, and 6 year old me couldn’t get enough of that. Arguably one of the catchiest and memorable songs for the festive period, it always gets stuck in my head when I hear it, making me go back to listen to it more, which as marketing tactics go, it works a treat.

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2. Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues

Fairytale of New York is a song that sounds magical. And Irish. Very very Irish. But it’s that combination that makes it a resounding classic. From the controversy of the lyrics to the belter of a sing-a-long chorus, the fairytale instrumentation clashed with the brutally harsh lyrics force this track to stand out like a sore thumb amongst the Christmas catalogue, but it does wonderous favours for it. Everyone I know seems to agree this is one of the best Christmas songs and it’s abundantly evident why.

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1. Last Christmas – Wham!

Well, let’s be honest, if by the time we hit number 2 and you didn’t see Wham! coming, then you clearly don’t know Christmas well enough. Maybe that’s bold to say… But I’m sticking with it. I mean it’s the perfect song. Catchy, not overly Christmas sounding meaning if you find yourself listening to it in the middle of summer you don’t feel too guilty and can listen to the whole song. Last Christmas is just THE definitive Christmas song to me, it sounds magical, it sounds 80s, but all the same, it sounds completely timeless. And not to mention the absolute incredible restoration of the original film to make a 4K remaster of the music video.

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Well there we have it, all 15 of my favourite Christmas songs. But what did you think? Let us know what YOUR favourite Christmas songs are. But above all, in the hard times that we’re all in, whatever you’re celebrating, have a wonderful festive period and a fantastic new year. Here’s to 2021, and a future of togetherness.

Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: Rhonda

Rhonda are a group from Hamburg, Germany with more than a few tricks up their sleeve. Their feel-good tunes are each a snapshots into past times spent driving in the sun through a dreamy soul-infused world. Exploring a new blend of neo-soul, rock and indie, Rhonda have set out on a mission to bring together both old and new.

The band formed from the remnants of rock band Thrashmonkeys after the group decided to split back in 2012. Four of the remaining members, however, decided it was time to set about on a brand new venture – one that would lead them to form Rhonda, a project which would craft fantastic new soul music for the modern-day. The band quickly became popular with some of recent histories biggest names, and in 2014, the band opened for Paul Weller at multiple gigs throughout Germany.

The band’s debut album ‘Raw Love’ is most notable for the song ‘Camera’ which launched the group into the spotlight. A cool and brilliantly crafted tune through and through, with some elements recognisable from classic soul records, a great voice and phenomenal guitar hooks.

Three albums now under their belt, with their most recent LP ‘You Could Be Home By Now’ released just last year, Rhonda are capturing more attention than ever from audiences across the world. Their recent work is an atmospheric exploration into the sweet-swinging sound of soul music, combining elements with the same great rock feel the musicians cut their teeth on.

For fans of The Arctic Monkeys or The Last Shadow Puppets, Rhonda are one such band with time-travelling abilities. Stick on your headphones and be instantly transported to a smoky soul club, with singer Milo Milone on mic in the spotlight.

Milone’s own solo projects are full of the same feel-good Rhonda energy, developing that same great soul-inspired sound and using her brilliant voice to tell stories of her very own.

Check out Rhonda and Milo Milone on Spotify now.

New Wave Why We Love

Why We Love: HÆLOS

HÆLOS, from South-London, are an extraordinary electronic and ambient band with a trance-inducing super-power.

I first saw the group supporting Interpol at Alexandra Palace way back in 2017. It was the perfect time to see them live; people could still come together in their hundreds, stand together and experience the hypnotic power of this band. Around that time, the band had just released their debut album ‘Full Circle’. Listening to an album as atmospheric as this performed in a venue the size of Ally Pally was about as close as I’ll probably ever get to a genuine religious experience. 

For a moment, a room full of people forgot where they were, or even who they were. Yep. That was me – completely anesthetised by the scale of their sound – a genuinely incredible and utterly surreal experience – one of the very best supporting bands I’ve ever seen live.

Before seeing HÆLOS, I’d never heard the term ‘Trip Hop’ used to describe a band. As the definition goes; “a fusion of hip hop and electronica until neither genre is recognisable“, which by the way sounds like even Wikipedia are shrugging their shoulders at that one, somehow sums up this band sound pretty well.

Since that gig, I’ve kept a close eye on HÆLOS, and last year, the band released their second album ‘Any Random Kindness’. Once again, they were back with those classic layered synths and trademark sinister and unearthly vocals which made their first album so addictive.

Having a look through their YouTube comments, it seems that the band has built a large portion of their following through nothing more than fan curiosity. Early tracks released into the world were often accompanied by little to no explanation about who the band were. But, still, their music’s ability to send chills instantly down your spine has been enough to draw thousands of avid music fans looking for their next hit of discovery.

Continuously alternating between two vocalists throughout most of their tracks, they maintain a trance-inducing flow whilst still shaking things up. Similarly to the excellent blend of male and female voices from bands like Chvrches, In the case of HÆLOS, however, the combination seems closer, much more intimate, personal and imperative to their sound.

In true resurgence style of early techno, hip-hop and house music, with influences such as The XX shining through and the core elements from the days of Kraftwork still audible, HÆLOS have set out to not only honour their idols but to continue where those great bands have left off. A continued pursuit of new and exciting sounds, not attempting to sound like anyone else, but continually looking for new possibilities.

Listening to any HÆLOS track feels like placing yourself in a filmic world, one with a playful and inspirational flare. Following their second album, the band have now begun the next chapter of their exploration in music. After a series of single releases, the band published their combined EP ‘I’m There’ in October, teasing even more excellent and eerie sounds to come in their third album due for release next year.

As always, their sound is continually shifting. The EP serves as their first-ever release independent from Matador Records. Having now built their own South-London based studio and self-run record label from the ground up, the band describe the freedom they have gained as having ‘complete control over their vision.’

It seems fitting that nothing should stand in the way of this band who are always wanting to explore uncharted territory. Their recent EP is in many ways, their most experimental endeavour to date. HÆLOS are a band with a clear goal in their sights, who act with confidence and conviction in all they do and strive to discover just what’s possible with the tools and technology they have around them.

‘I’m There’ is available to listen to on Spotify now, with the bands new album coming next year.

Indie/Indie Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: Blac Rabbit

Psychedelic rock band, Blac Rabbit from Rockaway Beach in NYC, are phenomenal, and from a place literally named Rockaway, they certainly live up to the name. Sometimes you listen to a band, and from the completely developed and slick production you assume they’ve got a massive presence with multiple albums and touring huge arenas around the world. However, upon discovering deeper into the lifeline of Blac Rabbit, I was incredibly shocked to find out they’ve yet to release their debut album and that they’ve made fame from busking in the New York subway, performing Beatles covers. 

Think of combining the influences of greats such as The Beatles and Pink Floyd along with the contemporary magnificence of bands such as Tame Impala or MGMT. Formed of Bassist Josh Lugo, Drummer Patrick Jones, Keys player Justin Jagbir and fronted by guitarists, singers and twin brothers Raheim and Amiri Taylor. Blac Rabbit quench the thirst after listening to modern bands such as Tame Impala or Post Animal, psychedelic music is well and truly making its resurgence and taking it’s a stand against the flow of typical indie bands these days. Their song ‘Mindspace’ starts off and you can really hear that ‘Innerspeaker’ flair and the tightness these guys have for playing their hearts out is fantastic.

After spending their days playing Beatles songs to New York commuters, the guys of Blac Rabbit quit their day jobs to pursue music full time. Releasing their debut self titled EP around Christmas 2017, the band have gained some pretty stellar traction amongst like-minded music lovers, within fanbases of bands such as Tame Impala and of course The Beatles. The bands work definitely evokes the stylistic choices of The Beatles but definitely gives it a natural twist for it to fit in the modern streaming world, as well as really specifically nailing that psychedelic 60s sound for a modern audience. With the psychedelic rock genre, it’s hard to go about without getting references and comparisons to Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala slabbed all over the place, but Blac Rabbit seems to relish in that, actively saying that Tame Impala is one of their biggest inspirations. In this day and age, it’s almost a trope for young bands to list all the classic artists from decades gone that they admire, and forget about mentioning current relevant artists that may have had the same effect on them. So to see Blac Rabbit admittedly praise recent contemporaries is actually quite a refreshing and honest thing to do.

I first heard ‘Over The Rainbow’ last year and immediately fell in love with the sound of the band. Because of such a diverse range of musical inspiration, the blend of classic and modern production and songwriting feels so current and important for the indie scene today, to be able to break out of its repetitive nature of the last decade. I’m a big sucker for Psychedelic rock I have to say, but hearing this track for the first time really did transport me to another dimension, and all I needed was a pair of headphones. In their live performance of the track on Paste, you realy get a taste for the rawness of their playing as it really feels live.

Twin brothers Raheim and Amiri announced their debut album just before keyboardist Justin Jagbir joined, subsequently dropping the lead single ‘Seize The Day’ in 2018. Between then and now though, the band seem to have had quite the number of false starts in terms of getting the record done. Being such a new band, as you can imagine, getting the funds to get an album made is no easy feat. The band set up a crowd funder but unfortunately didn’t reach their goal, a trope that far too many up and coming bands have had to face. But after some publicity online and a couple of Ellen show performances, the band got signed, put together their own home studio, and their debut album Interstella managed to get recorded and mixed, just waiting on the mastering process as of July this year. Still awaiting an official release date, we’re pleased to know it should come sooner rather than later.

The most recent drop from the band is the mind-melting Windy Cities. The clash of the phaser driven guitars, the grounding drums, slick lead guitar and the ethereal vocals make for an out of body listening experience. The teasers from the new album and the concrete polished production compared to some of the rawer sounds from their self titled EP just make me so ecstatic for Interstella. Desperately wanting to hear it NOW! But good things come to those who wait, and from what we’ve heard thus far, the album will be well worth the wait.

Check out Blac Rabbit on Spotify, and keep up with them on social media such as their Instagram.