2019 is already gearing up to a be a great year for indie bands, with the turn of the annum marking a fresh starting point for many musical ensembles, and a chance to double their work rate for others.
In 2013, when Catfish and the Bottlemen were still just a little band signed to Communion Records, Van McCann used to say that ‘meeting people’ was his favourite aspect of being in a band.
Six years on, Van and the gang have been all but under the radar for the past two and a half years – sparse runs of headline shows and summer festivals coupled with the odd Instagram post being the only contact the outside world has with the band since their massive second album ‘The Ride’ was released in May 2016.
Somehow, the quartet have managed to keep themselves surprisingly well hidden from the public eye in that time. But, with fans almost coming to the end of their tether awaiting news of a third album, they’ve finally got their patiently awaited reward.
A press release by the band’s PR team has confirmed there will be a new album in 2019. The news was released at the same time as the lead single ‘Longshot’ is being played for the very first time on BBC Radio 1 by Annie Mac, as her ‘Hottest Record in the World’.
It’s been a painstakingly long time for eager fans to wait, but after the tease of a new track in ‘Fluctuate’, which has been played during live shows over the past few months, we finally have what we’ve all been waiting for.
That’s all the news there is for now – but with a new song to wrap our ears around, 2019 is already looking bright for Catfish and the Bottlemen fans all over the globe.
The wait is over. Catfish and the Bottlemen, Island Records’ most mysterious possession, have finally (yes, finally) arisen from the murky depths of indie dormancy and have announced what seems to be a new song.
Well, this is it! 2019 is upon us and it’s fair to say that 2018 went by like it didn’t even exist, such was the pace of the year. It’s been a crazy year for indie music. It’s been the break out year for many a band, but for others it’s signalled the end, and we’ve lost quite a few bands who’ve called time along the way. We’ve had major label signings and line-up changes, but if one thing’s for sure, it’s that the year has produced some killer tunes (and albums) that hint that 2019 may have a lot in store for us. Here’s our pick of the bunch.
Disclaimer: Despite The Indie Room’s fervent desire to champion undiscovered music, we’ve unfortunately, as a one man team, not been able to listen to every song released in 2018. But we’ve tried our best!
BBC Introducing and BBC Shropshire are just two of the institutions championing Shrewsbury trio The Sunset Beach Hut this year since they released their debut single ‘Comfort’ and followed it up with ‘Upside-Down’. It’s been a busy year for the band, who’s gigging and recording schedule has seen them headline The Sunflower Lounge and support revered indie bands like Spinn and Stereo Honey.
‘Bury’, their latest effort, mirrors the sort of sound we heard from ‘Upside Down’ and is a distinct nod in the celestial direction that the band are heading. Floaty, psychedelic guitars and an upbeat tempo are crossed with a plucky, Arctic-Monkeys-esque riff and Far Eastern instrumentation. TSBH employ a sound similar to The Cardigans, though with less bubblegum, and more cloud.
Once again, the trio have paired impeccable vocal harmonies with subliminally catchy guitar lines and pop melodies. Evoking an aura of mystery and feather-weightedness, the band’s soon-to-be signature sound is being moulded solidly into their own and it’s as exciting to see where this song takes them as it is to see what they bring out of the locker next.
Birmingham singer-songwriter-student-hitmaker Ellis Garratt has already scaled musical heights in 2018 with almost seven thousand plays on his debut single ‘Down’, released earlier this year. The twenty-one-year-old’s second release comes in the form of ‘Make You Smile.’, an indie-pop track that sounds like a devotion to somebody important.
Garratt’s songwriting ability is transparent through this four minute track, with a catchy chorus hook set amongst a sparkly keyboard line replicating the vocal melody. The song’s distorted bassline and 16th-beat hi-hats evoke memories of early 2010’s chart music, combined with a love for modern pop bands like Blossoms and The 1975.
Taking obvious inspiration from songwriters behind the biggest tunes of artists like Chris Brown and Maroon 5 alongside DJs like David Guetta, Garratt’s selection of flute sounds and other effects in the chorus make for silky listening.
It’s clear the potential is there for Garratt, who, with a bit of embellished production, could see his hits bending the ears of listeners all over the UK in a matter of no time.
Writing ‘Start of the Weekend’ as a feature every week has, over the past couple of months, opened my eyes to just how much good music is out there. Every Thursday night at two minutes past midnight, the traditional Spotify trawl will begin, and as the morning revolves, many more releases, missed by the likes of ‘New Music Friday UK’ and the personal ‘Release Radar’ will drop into the mix through Twitter.
Today’s list of releases is unmatched so far. With a total of seventeen massive songs and EPs to review, this Friday may hold the reins as the best of the year to date. It’ll take a lot for it to be beaten. Here’s your lowdown on what will take up your weekend listening this week – and may do for much longer.
Boy Pablo – Soy Pablo
Norway’s indie phenomenon Boy Pablo, with his FIFA-ready indie disco-dance tunes, has already created an entire movement through his band’s self-released music on label 777 Records. Soy Pablo, a seven song EP, is a follow up to his 2017 EP Roy Pablo (the continuation is fascinating) and includes latest singles ‘Feeling lonely’ and ‘Losing You’.
There’s something unnervingly addicting about Pablo’s music, and it’s impossible to put your finger on. It’s like Mac Demarco, with a drizzle of Peter, Bjorn & John and heaps of hipster charm. Musically flavourful, the record contains a great dollop of shaker, tight instrumentation, psychedelic chord progressions and archetypal blunt lyricism, to make this both one of Pablo’s best and most diverse releases to date.
The Covasettes – Wild
If you missed our review of their latest (and best) single, it can be summed up in a few words. An earworm of a riff and a disco beat clashed with a sing-a-long vocal melody create a song with a breathless pace and irrefutable indie flair. Read it here!
Franko Fraize – Lights and Colour
Franko Fraize’s piano-tinged rap music has won him a legion of fans through the UK since he released Siesta, his first single, in 2013. Five years on, his debut EP Lights and Colour, released on Ten Letter Records, marks a shift from his previously more-grime based tracks like 2015’s ‘Oi Oi!’ towards more emotionally-charged rap music.
The soulful tunes, with Franko’s own heartfelt words penned over electronic-soul beats sparks up a sound that’s somewhere between Rag-N-Bone Man and The Streets with Flume-inspired instrumentals. Throughout the five tracks, Franko spits lyrics about mental health, dreaming big, self-esteem and more.
Glass Caves – Taipei Nights
Self-proclaimed busker band Glass Caves have already released two new songs in 2018, but blaze new frontiers with their East Asian tribute ‘Taipei Nights’. A funky number, clocking in at just under three minutes long, the song incorporates some smooth falsetto in the bridge and an electric beat, falling somewhere between Portugal. The Man and MGMT.
It’s well worth a listen, and, having already been spun on XS Manchester and having received support from Fred Perry, the metaphoric homage to Taipei is sure to get disco balls flashing and feet tapping.
Parcels – Parcels
The only full-length on this extensive list comes from Australia indie-funk troupe ‘Parcels’. After the worldwide success of their Daft Punk-meets-CHIC hits ‘Overnight’ and ‘Tieduprightnow’, the five-piece have released their long awaited, self-titled debut. Amass with impeccable disco grooves and strategically placed keyboard parts, Parcels’ rise to fame seems to be complete.
RAT BOY – Tracks From Internationally Unknown
Parlophone’s RAT BOY hints at his new album with the title of this three track EP. Honing a Slaves-meets-Jamie-T sound, the Essex native and his band released their debut LP ‘SCUM’ in 2017.
‘Chip On My Shoulder’ is a head-bashing punk track akin to early tunes by UK bands like The Subways and The Vines. The title track begins with a vocal sample and plays out like a weird Gorillaz experiment. ‘No Peace No Justice’ is a politically-charged-but-easy track featuring British punk Tim Timebomb. An interesting collection.
Riscas – Calypso EP
The riff that runs at the start and through the chorus of Riscas’ previous single ‘Complex’ has been in my head for days. An instant classic, the long-awaited tune heads their equally anticipated EP ‘Calypso’.
The young Midlanders, who have already achieved a massive two million plays on debut single Panic Like Tom, approach this EP with an even more honed sound than before. ‘Hide Away’ is a breezy summer track that sounds just as much like it could be on a Ribena advert as on a Riscas EP. Vocalist George’s vocal range is showcased on the three-minute tropical track, as well as more creative genius from the band, who are not long finished college.
‘Dance’ begins with some minimalist guitar akin to The XX before cascading into a beautifully groovy verse piece, much like early The 1975 tunes like ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Girls’. Folk inspired harmonies run throughout the easy track, completed by youthfully exuberant lyrics that give the song a perfect feel-good mood.
Title track Calypso rounds off the ‘EP’. The band make no secret of their love for summer throughout, but this one, about escaping on a plane to ‘see the sunshine’, retains that summer feel throughout and will make you feel warm all year round.
A fantastic effort from a band who, having already seen support from multiple big names in the music business, have a wealth of tunes that belie their years. Knowing they’re only going to get better is a gift in itself.
Sundara Karma – Illusions
Southern eccentrics Karma have been quiet since their debut was released on Sony in 2017. Finally breaking their silence, the quartet are trying something new with ‘Illusions’, a dance-inspired track with bassy vocals from vocalist Oscar Lulu.
The track, which seems to transverse a number of different genres in it’s five minute run time, is Kevin Parker standard. In fact, the more you listen, the more you realise this song is musical perfection. A beat fit for Parliament crossed with warm piano chords and psychedelic vocal effects in the chorus make this an effortlessly catchy song worthy of any indie songbook in the world. Fusing elements of jazz, soul, funk, electronica and indie together, ‘Illusions’ may be just a glimpse of what we can come to expect from the band, who are showing us how music should be made, when it’s made good. This track is gold.
The Creature Appeal – You Shouldn’t But I Know You Probably Will
Hailing from the suburbs of Birmingham, The Creature Appeal have their mark in 2018, attempting to catch the eyes of local indie fans and blogs across the UK. Their debut EP contains four tracks. At first listen, it’s loud, punchy rock music, not coated in fancy riffs or neat guitar play. But give it a minute, and you realise that’s not all this band have to offer.
With influences seemingly surfacing from all over the place, these four young lads have a visibly interchangeable palate of taste and have taken inspiration from everywhere they can.
‘Nine’, which opens the record, opens with a riff that could have been plucked straight from the books of Courteeners or The Stone Roses, before plunging into a verse more remiscent of 90s American punk bands like The Offspring and Green Day. Weird mix, right? It works.
‘Where Will I Find You Tonight?’ is an even quicker song. Blisteringly pacey, the song plays out with a sound akin to that of other 2018 punks like Otherkin or Airways. A dirty riff and an lusciously funky bass tone complete what is an instant headbanger and definitely one of the freshest rock tracks I’ve heard in the past couple of months.
The range of styles doesn’t stop there. ‘I Need To Know’ is an alternative pop-synth track which ignites memories of early 1975 tracks. ‘Circular Sunglasses’ diverts drastically away from the raucous sonics heard on the first two tracks to a more relaxed, tropical tone. Nifty drum work and a trilly riff are showcased on what is a significantly unique track. It’s like a completely unique blend of The Police’s Bed’s Too Big Without You crossed with Cassia and Foals and topped off with TCA’s own fruity twist. Look out for the dreamy, space age crescendo that rounds off the song.
A pleasantly surprising debut – and a very good one at that. Look out for these lot.
Three Day Weekend – Time Wasted
Preston newcomers Three Day Weekend’s second EP ‘Time Wasted’ has been around a year in the making, but it’s well worth the wait. With hints of The Strokes and Last Dinosaurs amongst the lush guitar tones and wobbly guitar licks, the new tunes have a distinct British feel to them.
Rife with nods to British teenager culture and youthful swagger, TDW have definitely hit a new high with this latest release, which, in basic terms, shows a distinct improvement to their songwriting compared to their last release. Blitz, track two of three, is like Arctic-Monkeys-meets-The-Pigeon-Detectives, and is the highlight of the selection with a catchy chorus and a terrific upbeat verse.
TOUTS – Can’t Blame Me
Northern Irish punks TOUTS aren’t trying anything audacious with their music. Simple, rowdy, two-minute thrash-punk tracks do the tracks for the trio, who have garnered over 300,000 track listens on just Spotify to date.
Can’t Blame Me is more of the same. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Three chords, heavy drums and some in-tune shouting similar to bands like Pretty Vicious and The Bohicas is what you can expect from a band doing rock music and seemingly, doing it right.
Trampolene – The One Who Loves You
Jack Jones, Wales’ favourite rockstar, tries his hand at acoustic song with this ballad, which, given a few tweaks, could be ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’.
The trio, who’s output rate is second-to-none in the indie scene, are renowned for vicious rock tracks with blistering riffs, but have a penchant for lighter-hearted tracks too. ‘The One Who Loves You’ doesn’t try to hide it’s Libertines influences, and while it takes a while to get off the ground, is certain to become a fan favourite soon with some exquisite backing harmonies and vocals from bassist Wayne Thomas and Gary Barlow-esque songwriting. Yes, that’s a compliment. This band should be way bigger than they are.
The Trusted – Cigarettes and Chandeliers
Bluesy rock outfit The Trusted channel Royal Blood influences on Cigarettes and Chandeliers, a riff-based track with some heavy guitar play and some clever licks in the mix. The song, a stand-alone single from the Southend band, also sounds a bit like The Black Keys. A major-key chorus contrasts what sounds like it could be quite an angry song.
Breathy vocals from siger Tom Cunningham complement high pitched backing ‘woos’ in the chorus and the funky number is completed by a fantastic solo and a catchy intersection midway through.
Vigilantes – Sockets
Boston indie outfit Vigilantes emo-tinged pop-rock is well produced and loud. On their new single ‘Sockets’, we hear some of their heaviest guitar playing to date and melancholy lyricism amongst Brandon Flowers-esque vocals and charming melodies. A festival-ready track, the artwork for Sockets is similar to that of their previous single ‘Yuck’. A longer record on the horizon, perhaps?
Violet – Heaven Adores You
Brummie five-piece Violet’s third single Heaven Adores You is an ethereal ballad with slinky guitar tones and a massive instrumental midway through. The shoegaze-inspired track is characterised by reverbed vocals and equally feathery vocals to take the listener on a journey to some other galaxy.
The band, who’s long hair and vibrant fashion sense radiates Sundara Karma vibes, have manicured a graceful sound to juxtapose the Liam Gallagher-esque vocals and set themselves apart from the rest of the current crop of indie hopefuls. Like floating through the sky on a cloud, this one could be their best yet.
Weezer – Can’t Knock The Hustle
Weezer, who just can’t seem to stop putting out music, aren’t the archetypal rockstars. But we already knew that. New track ‘can’t knock the hustle’ is a re-write of Jay Z’s track of the same name, and looks like the first single from their latest album, The Black Album’. The flamenco-inspired acoustic intro and chants of ‘hasta luego’ could fit straight into the Narcos soundtrack. The rest is just classic Weezer silliness. Maybe this is the track that makes everyone realise Weezer have just been taking the p*ss out of the music industry, and themselves, for years.
The Covasettes have had a remarkable rise since their formation and self-released debut single This Feeling entered the fray in 2017. Without the help of a label or a manager, the four mates have seen their fanbase grow and their dreams start to take shape through their blistering live performances and three tactically flawless releases to date.
One of the most difficult aspects of ascertaining to be a top level band is sustaining the levels of progress needed to get there before the train loses steam. The Covasettes have nailed it. On a pretty exponential rise, the band have seen their monthly listeners shoot from three to ten thousand in the past couple of months after ‘Top Drawer’ was selected by Spotify to be featured on ‘The Indie List’ and bolted to the top of their most-played list.
‘Wild’, the latest chocolate in the box, is the perfect addition to their growing collection of lucky charms. Put simply, it’s indie songwriting done right. The Covasettes have got the template but they’re not wannabes – they’re very talented musicians. Whereas ‘Top Drawer’ is more suited to being belted out at the top of one’s lungs, and more resembles the tropical-flavoured sound of bands like Cassia and Marsicans, Wild is a faster, bouncier song reminiscent of The Night Cafe, and similar to Riscas’ new song Complex.
The instantly catchy guitar hook ensures no bother in waiting for the good bit of the song to kick in, and could be placed straight into a Premier League team’s pre-game stadium playlist without the blink of an eye. That’s the vibe. Positivity. Matt Buckley’s encapsulating disco beat and an infectious, climbing, vocal melody are immediate highlights of the song in the first verse.
The song’s pace and verve are interrupted half way through with a welcome breakdown, accompanied by Chris’ hushed vocals and some plucky bass from Jamie McIntyre and some shiny chords from guitarist Matt Hewlett.
And just like that, the song’s over. But perhaps, that’s the best bit. It just leaves you wanting more. And this one, which has flown straight into the Cova-set-list, is sure to see these lads hold their place on the train for a good few years yet.
Listen to Wild here: https://open.spotify.com/album/0nCYUY5y3R1Dx0ZO3DYQ82?si=csK4A3caR7uVgJqK6TvuRw
Watch The Covasettes’ interview with The Indie Room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJvGtrEvkTg&t=340s
Follow The Indie Room on Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_indie_room
For most people, Christmas Eve is the one day of the year where normal adult behaviour is put on hold and traditional childhood excitement is acceptable amongst people over the age of eighteen. For others though, the eve of every Friday, with the promise of new music beckoning, is like Christmas come early for 52 weeks of the year.
Today’s no exception. With multiple long play releases and new singles for big and small bands a like, here’s your pick of the best tracks that hit the shelves today.
When Alex Turner sardonically introduced his band’s performance of ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in 2006 by muttering ‘don’t believe the hype’ in a sharp Northern accent, he probably didn’t expect that the phrase, repeated by thousands and pinpointed as a signature moment of the young Arctic Monkeys’ definitive confidence, would become so widely remembered.