Pop/Indie Pop Videos Why We Love

Why We Love – Salac

Salaċ is a Gaelic industrial duo whose music creates a Pagan dystopia as they whisper labyrinthine speech-to-song poetry over mystic beats. Clíona Ní Laoi and Max Kelan Pearce resemble some modern-day blue Bards, moulding audiovisual sorceries and anagogic poetry into a ritual of lunacy.

Part of the avant-garde Bristol collective Avon Terror Corps, the two orchestrate a resurgence of primal sound. Slithering noises and intricate inflections of their voices come together almost as if life and death are revealed to one another. Ceremonialists that speak to the wicked, Salaċ creates an epitome of disturbing magnetism through their ensembles of electronic distortions with obscure cadences.

The 13 songs on Sacred Movements take you for a trip through a clammy ambiance where softness and ragged vibrations come together in harmony. The heaviness of their performance is bewitching; it forges the album into a sanctuary of sunken alchemy. A twitching glow through a gloomy forest, an ode for the debauched and the midnight lords, this album is a remarkable eulogy to Gaelic ritualism.

Corybantic gyrations of sound will carry you away as you listen to The Dead Don’t Forget / Clouds Over The Moon. Spell-casting lyrics and daedal piano notes are as theatrical as they are auditory pleasing, testifying to the grand artistry of the two.

Illicit Rituals is another compilation of 13 pieces that evoke a sanctified dimension of industrial music, where mechanical whirring and ominous statics meet grave wailings. A thrilling mind trip that goes through legerdemain rhythmic pitches and sinister verses, the album is a cyber chaos that seems to come from the underworld.

Moony modulations inspired by an ancient world of magick and sacred initiation open the door to a realm of contemporary ceremonies of the depraved. A divination of the occult and a fascination with the natural world become apparent in the duo’s official video for Procession To The Underworld – the two burn sage and their bodies twist and turn as they summon hoary forces. Draped in gauzy veils and crowned with leafy branches, they dance to the convoluted buzzing and the vicious basslines.

Salaċ has a chilling and truly unique approach to industrial music. There is a fantastic peculiarity that makes their music a momentous expression of talent and affinity to the folk traditions as they get closer to their roots and depict repugnance towards the oppressors of the true Celtic spirit.

Listen on Bandcamp                                                                         

Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock

Indie Idols: Crywank

The 1980s were a wild time, to say the least. Teenagers were rebelling – as per usual – and creating their own kind of lifestyle, diverting the general expectations of growing up and maturing that had dominated previous decades. Fashion was outrageous, attitudes were eccentric and controversial, and all of this was reflected in the music. Punk emerged from the underground and, in a symbiotic relationship with the youth, the face of music was forever scarred for the better. Bands like Sex Pistols and the Ramones exploded onto the scene expressing anarchy and distrust in the establishment, loudly displaying their political agenda and providing a voice for like-minded young people. Throughout the decade, punk influenced countless subgenres and subcultures, encouraging political freedom and rebirth of the most riotous kind, while also merging with others to create completely unexpected, but lyrically brilliant, hybrid genres.

This month’s Indie Idol embodies the spirit of punk while exhibiting its versatility within other genres by displaying elements of anti-folk – a musical movement established in the 1980’s to “mock the perceived seriousness” of the decade’s popular music, serving as a protest through clever lyricism. Crywank, a band spontaneously conceived by Jay Clayton in Manchester in 2009 upon receiving their first guitar, expresses a more personal kind of anarchy, announcing displeasure with mundane realism we have all probably felt from time to time, as well as dealing with more serious issues like mental health. I Am Shit from the band’s 2013 Tomorrow is Nearly Yesterday and Everyday is Stupid album, for instance, serves as a criticism of one’s self, overthinking everything you have said or done, and being stuck in a loop of self-doubt and inadequacy. The lyrics are hard-hitting and emotional, with a characteristic DIY-nature that adds to the charm and meaning of the song.

Arguably, Crywank takes a more comedic stance in some of their productions, helping to lighten the typically downbeat mood of their work while fitting to the anti-folk genre, still providing that dramatic social commentary the band and sub-punk genres are known for. Songs like An Academics Lament on Barbie, which comments on the irony surrounding the suggestion that Barbie is a feminist icon for young girls, having had over a hundred different jobs, many in typically male industries, while also being subject to strict and traditional female beauty standards that fail to represent the vast majority of women. Or Tin Foil Hat Crew at the Student House, which discusses constantly being monitored by companies online and other politics while also featuring the highly intellectual lyric, “Slap my thigh call me messy sweaty petty silly sausage,” from the duo’s 2017 Egg on Face. Foot in Mouth. Wriggling Wriggling Wriggling. album, for example. Both of these songs also demonstrate Crywank’s musical diversity by embracing a sound vaguely similar to that of Parklife by Blur, with more melodic speech rather than general singing, while still harking back to their punk-inspired roots – which are especially evident in the final few lyrics of Tin Foil Hat…, “Don’t Be Evil, Ooglie-booglie-googlie-booglie.”

(Check out Story of the Lizard and the Sock for another dark comedy-esque song)

The group’s most recent and final album, Fist Me ‘Til Your Hand Comes out My Mouth, a name that most definitely reflects the outrageous and uncensored nature of the 1980’s punk movement, features an eight-part story about friendship and its effects on the band. And, as the title I Love You but I’ve Chosen Me… suggests, the importance of loving oneself before attempting to love someone else. The album is, overall, fairly different from Crywank’s previous seven albums due to a larger focus on instrumentalism, such as in The Best, poetry, similar to Jamie T’s use of Sir John Betjeman’s The Cockney Amorist poem in his debut single Sheila, and a more upbeat sound – the existentialist lyrics are still going strong, though. 

The band seems to have steered clear of music videos in the traditional sense, preferring to upload live versions or random rehearsal sessions onto their Youtube channel. However, the few music videos that have been created for their most recent album all exude a sense of incomplete chaoticism that perfectly reflects the sentiment of their whole musical catalogue. The videos tend to be stylised in a low budget arts-and-crafts-type manner using watercolour (Egg and Spoon) and torn paper (Ego is a Phoenix) to depict the narrative while making the meanings of the songs feel more tangible to the audience and, once again, hinting at the homemade elements of punk style. Album art for the band is definitely something to behold, ranging from a simple photo of a shelf adorned with wooden cat sculptures to a fluorescent drawing of a two-headed monster with the iconic World War II “Kilroy was Here” doodle looming above. However, I feel as if the variation in album art reflects the large range of topics and emotions discussed and felt through the band’s work and does show progression in the bands freedom of expression over time.

Unfortunately for all who love them, Crywank’s musical career is coming to a voluntary end after their next North American tour, which has been postponed to 2022. However, their music and merchandise will continue to be available on until it is all sold out. In the meantime, check out Memento Mori and Hikikomori, my two favourites by the band. 

Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: Black Pumas

Psychedelic-soul band Black Pumas captured my full attention with their transcendent GRAMMYs performance just a few weeks ago. My mouth hung open throughout the duration of their stage time and, accompanied by several colorfully encouraging words, I couldn’t stop shouting, “Oh my god!” 

I didn’t need any more convincing whatsoever; I grabbed my phone, saved their music, and followed them on social media. They very quickly had me in the palms of their hands, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. This group hailing from Austin, Texas serves as the definition of a powerhouse, and I have a good feeling that they will be the catalysts of a much-needed musical revolution. If you missed their performance or are simply entirely new to Black Pumas, I implore you to watch it immediately

Bandmates Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada, through the help of a friend, united in 2018. Shortly after the release of two singles (“Fire” and “Black Moon Rising”), Black Pumas dropped their fiery self-titled album on June 21, 2019. That same year, the GRAMMYs nominated them for the “Best New Artist” category. With a total of four Grammy nominations now under their belt, it’s absolutely criminal that they walked away empty-handed. To the GRAMMYs (and any other awards ceremony, for that matter): Do better. 

With sold-out tours, numerous television performances, and a recent achievement of taking the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Emerging Artists Chart, this is merely the beginning of a prosperous career for Black Pumas. This immense, ground-breaking talent that they possess is awe-inspiring. Everybody, and I mean everybody, needs to put this band on their radar. No ifs, ands, or buts.

The entirety of their discography is unmatched, despite it being just the beginning. Coated in a dizzying richness that provides a similar feeling to taking a sip of warm coffee on a cold morning, their music fully envelopes you. I am completely and entirely bewitched; whether I am just listening to their record (original, deluxe, and expanded deluxe!) or watching videos of their performances, I find myself falling more in love as the minutes go by.

Every single aspect of each song, whether it be the heavenly, euphonic vocals or the electrifying instrumentations, is expertly crafted. I cannot stress enough how one-of-a-kind this band is. Seriously, stop whatever it is you’re doing and listen to Black Pumas. Go on then; go!

To stay in the know, follow Black Pumas on Instagram, Twitter, and Spotify.

(Cover photo by: JACKIE LEE YOUNG)

Why We Love

Why We Love: Black Country, New Road

Black Country, New Road’s debut album For the First Time has been named Rough Trade’s album of the month for February. It’s a tremendous honor for a first album, and it’s well-deserved. The young band have already achieved more in their debut than most groups do over the course of their entire existence. The seven members have forged a sound that defies categorization. There is no genre that fits Black Country, New Road, a lucky thing indeed, because it has forced them to create their own.

For the First Time is a music nerd’s delight, a veritable 7th heaven of listening pleasures. It’s the kind of album that you listen to ten times all the way through on the first day of having it in your possession. You’ll want to unpack the dense, layered sounds, to figure out exactly what’s being said in each lyric, to identify every instrument and every influence.

Each one of the six tracks on the album is stellar, but Sunglasses is my favorite, segueing between mellow rhythms and full-out punk screaming, then (somehow) sliding smoothly into emotional descriptions of the irritations and fetters of relationships and life within a family, and through it all the meditation, gripped like a life-line: “I am invincible in these sunglasses…” It inspires an odd mixture of elation and chills, and the need to share it with someone else immediately. In other words, it’s on its way to being a classic.

Black Country, New Road are an orchestra for the future, “the new classic”(al) for spaceships. On more than one level, it’s something we all need to listen to; it’s something we all need to hear.

You can find Black Country, New Road on Instagram @blackcountrynewroad, on Spotify and on Bandcamp.

Header Photo Credit: Max Grainger

Jazz/Blues Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

James Brown has been reborn – Black Joe Lewis is quite possibly a music legend out of his time. It’s been a long 16 years from his days as a seafood delivery man and pawnshop employee to the now multi-album success he is today, and that journey hasn’t been easy. In March this year, Lewis and his band ‘The Honeybears’ hit back with their single ‘Five Dollars’ after a 2-year break since their last studio album, The Difference Between Me & You. They bring back with them their immense soul sound and Lewis’ phenomenal voice. It’s made us incredibly excited to hear what other music could be in the works.

Sometimes I find myself listening to a Spotify playlist sent to me, enjoying all the songs that come up one by one, and then a song comes on which just hits differently. A Soul classic which has escaped my radar? No, a song released only this year – Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.

Their music layers Lewis’ evocative lyrics over fantastic guitar riffs and striking horns which are reminiscent of Charles Bradley’s Menahan Street Band. You wouldn’t be able to tell if these records were recorded today or decades ago, the inspiration of classic artists like James Brown and Howlin’ Wolf are so heavily embedded that the classic sound of old soul records is weaved throughout.

Joe Lewis first picked up a guitar whilst working in a pawn shop in Austin Texas in the early 2000s. After discovering classic blues records and teaching himself to play, he spent years performing at open mic nights, small venues and bars, never making much of a name for himself. It wasn’t until the release of his debut EP Black Joe Lewis and The Cold Breeze, that he had a hit with the truly incredible ‘Bitch, I love you,’ and thereafter, everyone seemed to know who Black Joe Lewis was.

In subsequent years, Lewis toured alongside the band Spoon, the drummer of which, Jim Eno, then produced Lewis’ debut album ‘Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is!’ which quickly alerted the rest of the music industry to his presence.

This peak of success was shortlived however, things soon began to decline for Lewis. A combination of band and management conflicts resulted in a drop in album sales, the loss of festival bookings and a collapse in the band’s name and popularity.

It wasn’t long before Lewis found himself back where he started, having recently released their 2018 album The Difference Between Me & You, it was met with almost no attention, sales or interest.

Along with this, Lewis’s costly recent divorce, his newborn child and an outstanding debt of $50,000 in management fees, Lewis nearly saw an end for his music career. He debated giving up and finding a ‘real job’ in order to pay for all this and to take responsibility for his child.

But as so many of his musical inspirations have found, in hard times, music was the only light at the end of the tunnel and the only way forward.

Now under new management, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are making a powerful comeback with their smashing new single ‘Five Dollars.’ Bringing back with them their fantastic guitar and horn-driven sound to a track which has seemingly reignited their careers and caused a rush of discovery for their recent album which almost went unnoticed, giving it the attention it was denied at the time of its release. Once again, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears have got our attention, and this time I don’t expect they’ll let that slip away once more.

As soul and blues music once made its way across the Atlantic and ignited a fire across the world, Black Joe Lewis has been inspiring the second revolution of blues, soul and rock and roll.

This is great music, dancing music, and above all, music that makes you feel good, something the world desperately needs right now.

There isn’t a single song of theirs I can say I dislike. Listening to them is like jumping in a time machine and travelling back to the golden age of Funk and Soul, something I wasn’t around to experience but can now fully appreciate. Unlike those past music legends, Black Joe Lewis is still very much a living, breathing man who I’m excited to go and see live once I have the chance to. To all those Soul, Blues and Rock and Roll fans who think music isn’t what it used to be, take a listen to Black Joe Lewis and transport yourself.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybear’s new single ‘Five Dollars’ is available to listen to now, and if the incredible story of his past few years hasn’t inspired you, the feeling in his music will.

Indie/Indie Rock Pop/Indie Pop Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: Maya Delilah

It’s so rare to find a proper up and coming artist to really dig into, but god am I glad I found Maya Delilah. For fans of Sycco, Her’s, Gus Dapperton, Clairo and The 1975; Delilah is someone you absolutely must get familiar with. Her debut EP Oh Boy was released at the start of July, a smooth, lofi, chill pop EP that just makes you wanna bathe in the sun and forget about your troubles, and experience the inner thoughts of Maya’s wonderfully playful world. 6 tracks of pure majesty, with phenomenal production, elements that sound inspired by Tame Impala, crossed with John Mayer adding the soundscape of Her’s baked into the musical pie that is Delilah’s Oh Boy. And the even better news? She’s already been teasing snippets from her second EP, yet to be officially announced, but damn does her new material sound just as slick as the songs on Oh Boy and I am genuinely ecstatic for it.

The fabulous video for her song I’m Just Stupid was shot from home during quarantine, and to help make the video, she asked fans to send in drawings to feature in the video, and as you can see, she got a LOT of drawings, which is a wonderful thing for an artist to do to engage with their audience, and something I sincerely hope she doesn’t grow distant from as time goes on.

Maya’s silky voice serenades you throughout the EP, taking you on a journey that just takes your breath away, which is ironic when you consider the title of the closing track, Breathe Easy. Delilah manages to blend such familiar sounds in such unique ways that make it feel like such a fresh sonic experience in the abundance of soundcloud and bandcamp chill hop artists looking for homes within your music libraries, Maya defies this, spreading a bubbly narrative of her life. Her songwriting ability is absolutely killer too, catchy hooks and riffs that just cut right through the mix, melodies that you just cannot get out of your head, it’s infectious. Not to mention the fact that she’s a ridiculously talented guitarist, with the comparison to John Mayer mentioned by fans on multiple occasions. I mean just listen to the solos in I’m Just Stupid and Breathe Easy and try to deny it. You can’t. It may be bold to say, but it’s true and that’s the tea sis. She even managed to write and release Safe, a quarantine inspired track back in March, so power to you.

She was featured on an artist spotlight for Marshall and it’s there where you really get a vibe for who Maya is, and you really start to see from the music she grew up with and how it’s moulded her style. It’s brilliant to see young musicians buzz with genuine creativity, who really know their stuff, appreciate the cultures and genres they’ve been introduced to, and be able to experience the glee that is their talent, not in uptight way, but to really see them have freedom and crucially, fun and enjoyment in their own music, all the while staying humble. Honestly it’s crazily inspiring.  She also delves into how she started writing, and like we’ve seen with the likes of Georgia, shows how these days you don’t need to know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy to get signed and get your music out there. You can carefully craft your art at home, or as simply as singing and soloing over looped chords from a Boss Loop Station, you can build a following through apps like Instagram and TikTok. You can use your art and your passion and make a career out of it, and it’s wonderful to see.

She’s also been doing a fantastic job at inspiring young girls to pick up a guitar and get into music, utterly proving that girls can rock a guitar just as well as the boys thank you very much. Give Maya a guitar and a looper pedal and she could inspire anyone for hours, there’s just something so present about the way she writes, plays and sings her songs that can’t really be described. Whether it’s the relatable lyrics from waking up wondering where your cat is, to ignoring what others think about your relationship because you know it’s right.

Delilah is an absolute delight, and you’re a fool to not listen to her music and keep tabs on when more is due to arrive to melt our ears. You can follow her on Spotify, Instagram and even TikTok (@mayadelilahh) where you may even get a sneak preview of upcoming songs such as Moonflower.

Maya Delilah leaves you wanting more, and gives you this floaty optimistic feeling. Someone who really knows and has perfected their craft already at such a young age, the future for Delilah is going to blow up and we can’t wait. A hidden gen Z gem that you’re sure to revel in.

Top tracks are I’m Just Stupid, Tangerine Dream, Gato, URU, Breathe Easy and Safe. 

If you’re not listening to Maya Delilah, then Oh Boy… are you missing out. I leave you with the music video for her EP’s closer, Breathe Easy and just see for yourself. An upcoming artist that is not to be reckoned with.