Reverend And The Makers man Ed Cosens has dropped the latest instalment in his burgeoning solo career, in the form of the delightfully atmospheric ‘Madeleine’. The track, and accompanying video, are excerpts from a short film – Fortunes Favour – which will be released in a few months alongside the songwriter’s full album.
While the pairing of an upcoming record alongside a piece of cinema is enough to grab the attention, it has to be said that this single stands perfectly tall on its own merits. Caught in the haze of its own reverb, ‘Madeleine’ swirls atmospherically around Cosens’s storytelling lyrical style. This is a moody, nighttime tune, the indie guitar licks handled with a delicate edge that sets it apart from the songwriter’s best-known work. The video is artfully choreographed and staged simply to great effect, matching the song in terms of the tone it sets. Yes, the concept is an intriguing one, but if the quality of the tunes is what’s important to you, you’re in for a real treat when the LP comes out.
In music, few things are timeless. One of the few evergreen types of song is the straight ahead rock banger, employed here to entirely the effect you’d expect from a band called Horsemeat. ‘Jibber Jabber’ has everything you could want from such a tune: big guitars, some really enjoyable riffing and an angry man telling you that everyone around him is talking bollocks.
On this track, the Altrincham trio take aim at the doldrums of suburban living, wrapping their complaints up in an alt rock tour-de-force that takes in a deceptively large range of genre influences; top-class post-punk drumming, a big ol’ chorus and angular guitars that Shellac would be proud of. Near the outro, some 90s college rock soloing lightens things up a bit before you can ready yourself to get hit by one more verse. You get absolutely what you expect with Horsemeat – no fucking around, no complaints. Brilliant.
The music of Belfast’s Sam Wickens has been described as “bewitching”, and on new single ‘Murky Waters’, it’s stunningly easy to see why. An utterly beguiling mix of acoustic guitars and pulsating electronics soundtracks Wickens’s exploring his past traumas. Such is the darkness of the soundscape, you can’t help but feel what the songwriter is expressing, despite the poetic vagueness of the lyric.
It is rare to witness a relatively new artist command a unique sound so powerfully, but this is the impression you get from this track; the heady combination of electro, folk and even bluesy undertones make for a unique, intense listen. This kind of idiosyncratic genre-bending can become a pop superpower, and Wickens is primed to make the most of it. The last couple of years have seen him nominated for the NI Music Prize and working with the legendary Tony Visconti, so it’s safe to say that his unique sound is already turning heads. Check him out before everyone else catches on.
The pandemic has left creative types the world over reimagining various things; from bedroom acoustic sets, to home recording and – of course – the cover version. Toronto post-grungers The Crooked have made it their business, releasing a series of ‘Crooked Covers’; reworkings of popular tunes, they say, with a twist.
Their latest outing, a candlelit cover of the late 80s hit ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaak, is a bold choice, if only for the song’s famous high note – here, rendered as a post-Cornell croon over the acoustic pop-rock accompaniment. It has to be said that this song most closely resembles those almost-rock covers of songs that seemed omnipresent on film soundtracks in the 2000s (Counting Crows covering Joni Mitchell, anyone?) and to that end, it is a pleasant enough endeavour. The band are talented enough to take on recognisable songs, but it’s hard to see exactly where the twist lies in turning a soft rock anthem into a…slightly different genre of soft rock. Listenable but not remarkable.
In all its forms throughout the years, Creation Records has a proud history of finding the guitar-pop zeitgeist, and they might just have done it again with latest signing Sister Psychosis. This single, the English-Canadian band’s debut for Creation 23, is made up of a dual-core of modern, dark pop energy and grunge throwback power, the processed drum beat fuzzing up proceedings as much as the bass and guitar.
While the fuzz-pedal-heavy approach and almost languid vocals give a flavour of the Gen-X, the structure and moody-chic attitude of the track show an underlying pop sensibility that could really be the spark to light the touchpaper with this group. It is by no means a perfect debut; the admittedly enticing clash of styles has not yet formed into an entity wholly its own, and the song feels ever-so-slightly predictable as it rolls on. However, the promise of a developing sound is enough to make Sister Psychosis an interesting prospect for the future. The band may have signed to Creation as self-professed Oasis fans, but neither group nor label is looking back in nostalgia.