Thursday, 8 December 2016
Clare Maguire was one of my Ones to Watch in 2009. She was on the BBC Sound of List for 2011. But 2016 has really been her year. A very special album called Stranger Things Have Happened and some superb live shows that had everything from raw emotional singing to humour to me dancing on stage (yes, that actually happened at one show in London) have proved that sometimes the most important ingredient of good music, just like cooking, is time.
Now there’s no stopping her. “After years of being told 'no' I'm finally saying 'yes' and putting out tracks that have been shelved because I like them,” says Clare. Freedom suits her.
Her latest back in stock offering is her version of The Supremes song You Keep Me Hanging On, which Clare has deleted the You from. It’s one of my favourite Motown songs and here Clare takes it in a different direction, but one that I can certainly feel love for.
There will be a new EP (including this cover) from Clare Maguire in the New Year. Let's hope that Stranger Things Have Happened finds its way onto a few end of year lists.
Clare Maguire - Keep Me Hanging On
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
They might hail from Nashville but Bien challenge all the preconceived ideas and assumptions you are probably making about their location and the genre of music they make. For they are as far away from country as you could imagine. Their stuff is all synths, beats and melodies and it sounds absolutely wonderful. Then just to add some variety they've recorded a gorgeous strings and piano duet as well; it will make you swoon a little harder.
Having released their debut EP in September, as yet they haven’t picked up much traction, with just a handful of plays on Soundcloud and around a thousand plays per song on Spotify. This is a real shame because the EP is a truly irresistible collection of pop songs – the biggest difficulty I had in writing this post was choosing which particular song to stream. Eventually I picked Crowd Goes Wild, a tune which mixes old fashioned geeky robot pop electronic sounds with plenty of modern flourishes, dreamy soft vocals and hooks galore. By the time they sing ‘throw up your hands, get up, get down,’ I pretty much guarantee that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. Get ready to feel the heat, as Bien drop the beat. Pop music of the finest order.
Try Crowd Goes Wild below and the whole EP on Spotify by clicking here.
Bien - Crowd Goes Wild
Thursday, 1 December 2016
French pop has had a quite brilliant year hasn’t it?
Christine & The Queens wowed a lot of people in the UK; of all the shows I’ve witnessed in 2017, the crowd reaction (at Latitude) was one of the most overwhelming - the applause just wouldn’t stop. Petite Meller put out a very good, if somewhat overlooked pop album and Jain, whilst still relatively under the radar in the UK was one of the surprise highlights of this year’s Great Escape festival, turning a motionless crowd into a hard-bouncing party of happiness.
There’s some connections between all of these artists as well, particularly Meller and Jain, who both take musical influences, particularly rhythm, from far flung places and weave it into a pop format, as well as both putting a giraffe in their videos. You can see that giraffe (and a zebra) in Jain’s new video for single Makeba – her tribute to Miriam Makeba, the South African singer and human rights activist.
Let’s be clear – I’m quite a lot in love with what Jain is doing. Her music makes me feel alive. If you want to fall in love as well, watch the video and then if you get the chance go and see her and her box of beats on Monday 5th at London’s Garage.
Jain - Makeba (Video)
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
It does what it says in the title really. Virtually everything from the last month of the blog, including my selections of Ones to Watch for 2017. This playlist is updated once a month at the end of the month. If and when the blog picks up speed I might do it each week, but not yet. Some big names, some possible future stars and a handful of relative unknowns / newcomers. Feel free to follow on Spotify and then you never need read the blog again - although you'll miss out on all those pictures of musicians in the bath and 'context' which is basically me spouting the first thing that comes into my head.