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Indie/Indie Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: King Hannah

If you’re looking for a cinematic journey to detach yourself from the current mundane routine of the world’s lockdown (who isn’t?!), look no further than the smooth, moody, unfiltered odyssey of King Hannah. The Liverpool based duo have had an anything but conventional start to their musical journey together. Developing from Craig’s admiration of Hannah’s solo performances, to working as colleagues in a bar, to finally writing together to produce a sound rich in realism and tailored back production.

Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle released their first single ‘Crème Brûlée’ back in September 2020 and since then released their first EP in November 2020 titled ‘Tell Me Your Mind and I’ll Tell You Mine’. The EP is centred around the details of the everyday, with quite a descriptive nature to Hannah and Craigs lyrics. Starting with an almost ominous prelude (‘And Then out of Nowhere, it Rained.’), it’s like entering into a new and uncharted world. Followed by a more humorous take with ‘Meal Deal’, taking us through the normality of a property viewing, while contemplating whether to make a housemate out of the arachnid inhabitant. Towards the end of the song, Hannah’s vocals are like flickers of light through an immersive jungle canopy of atmospheric sound and smoky instrumentals.

This is then followed by a song, which really epitomises the times we live in. Named after Mindhunter’s ‘Bill Tench’, the song carries some added energy creating a more relaxed and lo-fi feel. This really emphasises the depth to King Hannah’s production, intensifying the feeling of being taken on a journey through this EP. The emphatic ballad of the duo’s first single then follows, becoming much more expressive with drawn-out lyrics and a jaw-dropping guitar solo that you never want to end.

We are led out by a more reflective and vibrant track, ‘The Sea Has Stretch Marks’, brought to a close by an outro called ‘Reprise (Moving Day)’, combining some of the EP highlights with a muffled radio vibe.

If there is a more emblematic band for the times we live in I am yet to find them. King Hannah’s music has been a refreshing reminder that we can escape the madness and once again be enveloped by creative production techniques and bold sound. The duo has already made an impact on the stage, and now following their formal release this past November, I for one am really looking forward to seeing them back in front of the lights and creating more insightful explorations.

Check out King Hannah on Spotify here.

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BRIT School New Wave Pop/Indie Pop Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: LANTA

Kimberly Anne, also known as LANTA, is a singer/songwriter from South London and a truly extraordinary talent. You may recognise her voice from Sam Feldt’s hit cover of Show Me Love, but despite her chart-topping success as a vocalist, Kimberly isn’t going to let anyone tell her what music she should be making. Someone who doesn’t need a leg up from anyone, now publishing songs under the pseudonym LANTA, Kimberly continues to create the same remarkable songs she has always done – oh boy you’re in for a treat.

I could talk all day about any of Kimberly’s old tracks back from her days as simply ‘Kimberly Anne’, but let me share the very first song of hears I listened to, one which stopped me dead in my tracks; ‘Bury It There’, released in 2012.

This track is, and I say this with no hesitation, nothing short of genius – a pure blend of acoustic pop with soul, beats inspired by different cultures and powerful lyrics fit for an equally powerful voice… Oh, how I envy you hearing this tune for the very first time.

The release of Bury It There and subsequent 5-track EP deservedly earnt Kimberly Anne much attention from the UK music scene and festival slots alongside the likes of First Aid Kit, Haim and The Rolling Stones.

After discovering Kimberly’s music, it wasn’t long before I began asking people ‘have you heard of Kimberly Anne?’ ‘You must have?’ ‘She’s incredible!’

Brought up on the music of Van Morrison, The Cure and Bloc Party, Kimberly taught herself to play the guitar before studying percussion for a time in West Africa – an experience which has given her tunes some refreshingly unique characteristics.

After the release of her EP Ballads in 2017 and her feature in Sam Feldt’s hit dance track (although house was not really my thing), I eagerly awaited to hear more original work from the songwriter, whose talent can only be truly appreciated by listening to the songs she writes herself.

Years went by and nothing came. I wondered what had happened to Kimberly, as did most of her following at the time. An empty website, all social media channels gone and a youtube comment section begging for more incredible music, it wasn’t easy to track her down. Then in 2019, she relaunched as LANTA – a new name and a statement to the music industry that she wasn’t going to be snatched up by labels looking to ride on the back of her chart success. She wanted to make music that really mattered to her – and that we applaud!

Through her new ’80s soaked soul tracks, LANTA writes about the things that matter in her life, her sexuality, her mental health and her confidence – through this she is slowly becoming a role model for lots of young individuals and a much-needed voice for today’s openly gay black women, a role model she admits she never had growing up.

A new name for her music and newfound confidence, but the same brilliant songwriter. As a former student of The BRIT School who studied there around the same time as Adele, there’s nothing now standing in the way of Kimberly Anne/LANTA becoming just as triumphant. It’s still early days for her new musical persona, but with a voice and talent this big, she surely won’t go unnoticed in times to come.

Listen to LANTA’s new singles now on Spotify.

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Indie/Indie Rock Reviews

Review: Pillow Queens – In Waiting

It’s a real surprise that after the release of two impressive EPs and supporting several big-name bands from IDLES to Future Islands that Dublin based Pillow Queens haven’t had people shouting about them left, right and centre. Nevertheless, their experience with fellow artists fronting the current rock movement and a knack for turning out sonically rich songs in their own right has proven that they’re an indie force to be reckoned with. All things combined they’ve just delivered a record you didn’t realise you’d been ‘In waiting’ for but after a listen won’t be the same without.

The album encapsulates a hazy sense of hope and instantly has you hooked on all manner of components from sweeping melodies, flourishing tones and lo-fi layering. Together, the result is ten all-star tunes from the female foursome that met on a basketball court in their hometown (a fact that I had to drop to further emphasise that they’ve been cool since the get-go). There’s an almost magnetic draw in the first few twinkles of the haunting ‘Holy Show’ and you’re instantly connected as soon as Sarah Corcoran’s crooning voice pierces through. From that moment up until the last echoes of closing track ‘Donaghmede’, the band take you on a journey where you can’t help but feel all of the emotion that their songs are created and delivered with. Each track seamlessly melts into the next; ushering you into a new stream of thought before you even have the chance to realise, leaving you in a dreamlike trance-ready to become the monarch of your own pillow. 

The journey doesn’t just happen as one tune flows into the next though; you’re taken on a voyage with each individual song. Not only are they gentle and melodic but also fierce and rocking, transitioning as effortlessly as one of this era’s most iconic alt bands Wolf Alice. ‘Handsome Wife’ is a great display of how they start gracefully, then seamlessly build to raspy exclamations and when ‘A Dog’s Life’ gets going it delves into even edgier territory with grungy guitars and more punk-like chants in a prominent Irish twang. Overall, I’d compare the Queens’ arrangements to a crisp winter morning, sun piercing through the clouds and glistening on snow; bright and refreshing but not without a hint of gloom and bite.

There’s an abundance of stand-out elements besides their progression too, like the poignant folk cries repeated at the end of the self-love reminder ‘HowDoILook’ that help to provide a shining example of their flawless transitions into the emotive melody that is ‘Liffey’. Further messages of positivity can also be heard in fan favourite ‘Gay Girls’; a wake-up call to people of strict religion and those alike that there’s no need to worry when it comes to different sexualities, featuring a catchy hook and accompanied by a cracking music video. It’s exciting to hear more top tunes from such empowering female representation in the rock industry, using their talent to draw attention to causes that many listeners will care about just as much as they clearly do. I also love that they have a rock ‘n’ roll attitude with regards to their opinions and approaches, saying “feck em” to any critics of Corcoran and accompanying vocalist Pamela Connolly’s accents for example and instead embracing their roots; using them to their advantage in adding to the raw emotion to their sound.

I believe the ride that is listening to ‘In Waiting’ can best be described in the final words of ‘Harvey’ as the expansive sound truly leaves you feeling as if you’re ‘floating ten feet off the floor’. Earnest and atmospheric, claims of coming up short in the heartfelt ‘Brothers’ evidently aren’t in reference to their album as it’s an absolute beauty and I can’t wait to watch Pillow Queens flourish like their songs and take everyone by storm.

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Creators Monthly

CREATORS MONTHLY (September)

Hello and welcome to the first-ever edition of Creators Monthly! Every month we receive loads of great music from our readers and while we can’t feature everyone, these are some of the up and coming artists we’re really excited about.

Indulge yourself and discover something new!

Brother.

Smooth, bright and extremely catchy, this indie-alternative band from Provo, Utah just released their single Honey along with this humorous video. Characterised by their groovy bass lines, rhythmic drum beats, lustrous vocals and serene lounge-pop synthesizers evocative of bands like MGMT or Tame Impala, Brother. are a group who have certainly caught our attention.

80 Unlacey

80 Unlacey are a four-piece band from North Carolina home-made in every sense of the word, from the band’s origins to their self-made music videos. What started as a name for university student Dylan Innes to simply release songs on SoundCloud under quickly lead to the formation of a more collaborative project and the release of the bands first single ‘Bristol.’ This song’s wistful longing for places never seen shares the band’s exuberant amalgamation of the very best of soul, funk and pop.

Lisa Caruso

Sydney artist Lisa Caruso’s indie-folk single ‘To Call You Mine’ is her final release before her debut album ‘In Feelings’ on October 9th. This empowered young woman is making her mark on Australia’s music industry as a finalist in the ‘Emerging Artist’ category at The 2019 Australian Women in Music Awards. Going from strength-to-strength and being played across many radio stations, we’re extremely excited to see where her album will take her next.

Max Swan

Max Swan from Philadelphia refuses to be confined by and one genre, each of his tracks pulls in grooves from jazz, jazz-fusion, hip-hop and more. His sleek voice and wicked saxophone on this track truly touch the soul. As a self-made multi-instrumentalist and producer of his own material, his inspiration from the likes of Frank Ocean and Tom Misch is not misplaced. Max’s upcoming EP ‘Gone Away’ is out October 30th.

Wildlife Moon

Wildlife Moon are a relatively new band from Brooklyn, NY. After studying at the Berklee College of Music, the band’s founder Gerals Edward wrote many songs with his fellow graduates before forming the labour of love which is now Wildlife Moon. Having only released two singles as yet, the band have attracted a considerable amount of attention. Their second single ‘You Don’t Have to Hide’ is about opening up and letting your guard down. We’re certainly excited to hear more from this very promising band.

Berne

Berne are a dreamy Electro-Pop duo from the UK using their music to do something for the planet by shining a light in their songs on issues such as climate change, diversity and animal rights. Not only do they help make change through their lyrics, but every aspect of the band echos their call to action, from their own low-impact lifestyles to their new 100% solar-powered website. This quirky duo and their alternative music are healing the world one song at a time. Their new EP ‘Stay’ is out right now; “Stay is our plea to planet Earth for more time to reverse the damage we’ve done, before it’s too late.”

Aisha J

A graduate from The BRIT School in London, Aisha J must have only been only a year below me while at the school. I certainly remember her face, but something tells me very soon everyone will remember her name. With only two single releases, Aisha J has already drawn a massive following with her fantastic R&B/Soul-inspired tunes and her phenomenal voice. Her recent single ‘Someday’ is the first of her singles produced entirely by herself and proves there is no end to this girl’s talents. About her recent single, Alish says this song is about ‘Letting all creatives know that despite all the hardships they experience, they will make it someday.’ A very personal insight into the mind of a musician, but certainly a worry that with her talent, I think she needn’t have.

Jack Swing

Jack Swing are a Rock band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a sound so big and punchy you can’t miss it. Their recently released EP ‘Get What’s Mine For You’ can’t be defined by any one music genre, but whatever it is, the sound of Jack Swing is extremely addictive. Guitar player Isaiah Ross is possibly the coolest frontman I’ve seen for a while, and unquestionably awesome-looking in this video with his rockin’ red Jaguar and standout performance. The production and detail in this track is fantastic, high skilled playing from all members and great use of crazy guitar effects make this lot certainly a band to remember. I can only imagine how fired-up one of their live gigs might be. This is rock n roll for the 21st century.

Want to get your music featured? Send us your music!

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Indie/Indie Rock

Hidden Gems: Montoya – On The Hill EP

Sometimes, bands will only stick around for a short time. They release an album, an EP or maybe just a single before dropping off the radar completely. But I don’t believe that should stop people from discovering and sharing the songs they made.

And sometimes, bands will even ‘break-through’ years after they’ve split. In the case of Indie-Pop band Montoya, they very well did.

I first discovered their EP ‘On the Hill’ after their one and only music video, directed by Damien Bonnaire, gave them big exposure on Vimeo back in 2016. Instantly gripped by their uplifting melodies and stunning vocals, I have since remained a loyal fan of Montoya and their charming sound.

The next few years, I very eagerly awaited to hear more tunes from the Parisian band, but it now seems that day may never come.

I read up on them recently, just to see what happened, only to find that their social media had gone quiet and their website had been taken down.

I reached out to them via email hoping to find some answers, but their mailbox no longer exists.

After some digging, I found the Instagram profile of the band’s guitarist, Hugo Rattoray, who told me the band had split due to each member’s prior commitments.

After years of hope, this was terribly sad to hear, especially from such a promising band, but an understandable reason nonetheless. Sadly one of the biggest reasons most bands today don’t last long is that at the end of the day, whether your music is good or not, you still have to pay the rent.

Unless you’re a student nowadays or have bundles of time on your hands, putting a band together and managing to hold down your life at the same time is more arduous now than at any point in the last 50 years.

Part of the reason so many great bands from the ’70s and ’80s were able to do so well (in the UK at least) was because at a time of such high unemployment, there was f*** all to do.

I worry now that after the recent pandemic, with so many venues being forced to close, that it may have become near impossible for small bands to get by. Not to mention with a sharp decline in job security, some people might see that time spent writing songs is not worth their while. It’s a shame when you imagine how much great music will be lost to the world because of this.

As for Montoya, I feel somewhat strange writing about a band whose music always ends up back on my playlist year after year, but who I hardly know anything about.

It was great chatting to Hugo, who assured me that the previous band members were all still working on their own solo projects, including singer Cécilia Bonnet, the incredible voice behind their songs. Montoya’s first EP will foreseeably be their last, but one I will certainly still be listening to for a long while to come – and who knows, maybe one day this group with so much talent will crop up again under a new name with more great tunes to give the world.

Listen to Montoya’s EP ‘On The Hill’ now.