If UK alt-rock five-piece Divisions had scripted 2020, they still couldn’t have come up with a more appropriate time to release their eponymous second album (due out March 12th). In preparation, they lead in with this, the opening single from the ten-track album, available via Bandcamp and with an accompanying ‘lockdown-special’ video on YouTube.
‘Quiet Frustrations’ is a powerful track, a statement around social division, post-truth politics, the frustrations of pandemic-stricken Britain, and that horrible over-arching ennui and exhaustion that’s seemed to blanket us all for the last couple of years. It’s a great song, potent, intelligent, thoughtful, and unusual yet with enough commercial nous to appeal to a wider audience; think Thirty Seconds To Mars with a little more introspection and inner-city tower-block feel, and you’re pretty much on the money.
See the lock-down video for ‘Quiet Frustrations’ on YouTube. Buy ‘Quiet Frustrations’, and pre-order ‘Divisions’, from Bandcamp.
Blending 90’s/00’s alt-pop/punk with some tidy guitar work and pushing, urgent drums comes ‘Liplock’, the debut single from Stopnowstartagain; swamped in overdriven, distorted guitar, the track takes its cues from the guitar-led indie of Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du, and Bob Mould’s follow-up project Sugar, all vocal harmonies and catchy pop sensibilities over Superfuzz pedals and Tube Screamers delivered into the front end of cooking amps.
It works, too – catchy pop-rock vocals, chiming picked single-note guitar lines, and those layered swathes of distortion; it’s one of those sounds you didn’t realise how much you missed until you heard it all over again; I’m gonna go and dig out ‘Bug’, ‘Green Mind’, ‘Copper Blue’, or ‘Beaster’ now, too. Cracking stuff.
26-year-old singer-songwriter edja’s self-released debut debut single ‘Happy’ (released 3rd January) is a crashing, contemporary upbeat rock track taking the pain and destruction of a relationship breakdown and turning it around, highlighting the strength and growth which comes with change and personal resilience.
The track perfectly showcases edja’s voice, marrying her vocal delivery and excellent lyrical storytelling to the excellent guitar and piano work of collaborator (and fellow Italian) Luca Chessa, who arranged, mixed, and mastered the track along with edja.
It’s a great debut single, upbeat, catchy, and modern, reminiscent of The Cardigans, maybe a touch of Texas in the arrangement, or the Cranberries, edja’s vocal powerful and distinctive over the chugging guitar and thundering drums. ‘Happy’ really does bode well for edja for 2021.
When the prelude to a previously unheard track demands maximum volume, you know you’ve just stumbled across a gem, which is exactly what happened when we dove into the cataclysmically superlative single ‘Ghost Trap’ by Alt-Rock artist Quentel the Cryptid.
Fans of the darker side of the Alt 90s sound will definitely want to indulge in Ghost Trap which offers the same atmospheric effects as Cradle of Filth, the same progressive momentum as Porcupine Tree and vocals carrying the cutting reminiscence of Brian Molko. But that isn’t where the dynamism ends, the heavy use of psychedelically-laced synths allowed Quentel the Cryptid to well and truly stamp down their ensnaring sonic signature sound in Ghost Track.
It’s an obsession worthy track from the first hit.
You can check out the official video to Ghost Trap for yourselves by heading over to YouTube.
Lockdown 2020 has generated a LOT of frustration and anxiety, and for most people – eye-test trips to Barnard Castle aside – have found that most of their interactions and experiences this year have come via social media. Now Drop Down Smiling are here, blinking and squinting in post-hibernation sunlight, to point out just how self-destructive those filtered ‘rose-tinted glasses’ choreographed lifestyles on Facebook and Instagram can actually be, with their red hot new single ‘The Fear Of Missing Out’. And it’s an absolute scorcher.
Launching with a subtle, melodic distorted guitar line before kicking in full overdrive-and-reverb style, ‘The Fear Of Missing Out’ is a slab of cracking alt-rock, a tasteful mix of B.M.T.H. and Biffy Clyro, with maybe a little Stone Sour or Architects and a dash of Interpol on the echoey picked guitar line. It’s a perfect blend of noise and melodic space, the dynamics in the track adding to the energy. It’s a powerful track, with some proper rock n’ roll groove in there, just enough electronica mixed in with the rock guitars and punchy drums to appeal to the radio crowd as well as the out-and-out rock fans.
‘The Fear Of Missing Out’ is out on the 8th January; check it out via Spotify, and follow Drop Down Smiling, via Facebook and Instagram.
Give your Portishead records a rest and delve into the ethereal tones in Alt Electronic Rock artist, apatternimperfect’s, standout single ‘Entrance’.
With a Post-Punk style prelude, Entrance starts to unravel to the tune of cavernously haunted vocals and trepidation-laden beats. The deftly-placed static amplifies the disquiet energy of the release as it builds to a climax of jarring buzzsaw riffs to mesmerisingly hypnotic effect.
apatternimperfect is the latest creative project by English producer, composer and songwriter, Rob Wacey. After honing-in on his talent in a myriad of successful bands, he put his accumulated talent to work, orchestrating deeply emotional tracks which offer a cathartic formula of ambience, pulsating rhythms and haunting vocals.
You can check out apatternimperfect’s single Entrance for yourselves by heading over to YouTube.
On Christmas Eve, the adept alchemists of Alt Rock, House of Weirdos, delivered the ultimate antidote to the claustrophobic restlessness with their Psychedelically-layered Garage Rock track ‘Climbing Up the Walls’.
If you could imagine what Queens of the Stone Age would sound like if they incorporated more absurdity, chaos and psychotropic synths into their sound, you might be able to get an idea of what is on offer. Yet, Climbing up the Walls could easily enamour fans of everyone from the Misfits to The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster.
Climbing up the Walls is façade-less, it’s relentlessly ingenious, it’s a visceral invitation to shake off pretence and relinquish shame for the fact that 2020 did a number on your mental health.
The playfully despondent track was made even sweeter with the pairing of the music video which will fill you with gratitude for House of Weirdos, just one of the irreplaceable artists who looked into the stir-crazed frustration and found inspiration so we could be hit with that invaluable feeling of connection and resonance.
You can check out the official video to Climbing up the Walls by heading over to YouTube.
When you look at the real impact which 2020 has had on music, you’ll have to look far past the absence of live music and look to how artists, such as Datsnell, have stripped back facades to deliver raw and honest intimate emotion, understanding that connection, unity and strength found through music can never be overvalued.
His latest Alt-Rock single, Imperfections, reminds the listener that our obsession with perfection is imperfect within itself and that a few cracks in the surface don’t have to make you feel worthless.
With his inventive sampling of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator speech falling around Datsnell’s haunted reverberant spoken word bars and piercingly light keys kicking up stunning interludes, the stunning track gently nudges towards optimism while validating the fear, uncertainty and nihilism which we’ve found throughout 2020. Even if you can’t find optimism straight away, you’re sure to find some solace within this deeply compassionate feat of Alt-Rock which melds elements from Hip Hop, Trap, Rock and Electronica.
You can check out Datsnell’s single Imperfections for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud.
New Year (I’m Counting on You) is a euphoric slice of Indie Pop Rock from up and coming artist Kerrin Connolly. The energy, soul and resilience contained in the anthemic hit may be the antidote to 2020 apathy which we’ve all been looking for.
The grounded optimism contained in New Year is potent enough to transfer into your own hopes for the new year. With the year we’ve all had in 2020, I don’t really need to tell you how invaluable this track is to the airwaves. The nuanced lyrics don’t serve salty reminders of the year just left behind, instead, they invite you to see the opportunity for reinvention and to cut the ties which bound us before the clock struck 12.
Kerrin Connolly’s latest single is available to stream via SoundCloud.
If prizes were handed out for the most conceptually evocative release of 2020, it would go to Croatian Experimental Post Rock artist, heyiloveyou, for their 2-track EP ‘Everybody’s Got 2 Sides’.
It’s a nuanced nod to the multi-faceted nature of our personalities with Side One a depiction of melancholy-tinged contemplation and side two an experimental electronic rock traversing of intensely urgent despair. When I say ‘experimental’, I mean Fantomas-level experimental with caustic noise replacing lyrics but saying all that there is to say all the same.
With Okay, the artist paid ode to the agony of being told that you no longer matter through silence instead of words. The experimentally ambient track drives you through the sweaty shaky trepidation of realising that the love which held you together is being withdrawn to the tune of voicemail answering messages.
Needless to say, we’re all too excited to hear what kind of subversive alchemy heyiloveyou serves up next.
You can check out the latest release from heyiloveyou by heading over to Bandcamp.