RUMER: Am I Forgiven.The songstress harkens back to the Carpenters with a crystal clear strum on its way to harmonious paradise. It’s no coincidence she’s already collaborated with 60s easy listening guru Burt Bacharach. Sounds like this should be hallmarked.
THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION: Buffalo.This pacy kaleidoscopic, drum-tumbling pop is the title track from the New Zealanders’ new album. Their music is pitched somewhere between romance and absurdity. Pleasantly colourful stuff.
THE STREETS: Going Through Hell.A hellish, disorientating, scratchy and, some would even say irritating, sound certainly gets the street rapper – nay poet’s - message across. Not an easy listen.
EMPIRE SIGNAL: Big Wide World.A big wide rock single from a band that’s been on a long road to get from live band to studio craftsmen. It ends up being a soft focus guitar-soaring soundscape. It is big and it is clever.
BIKINI TEST FAILURE: Fleecing The Easily Pleased.One of the joys of this job is to come across someone you’d never normally get the chance to hear. This is one such moment with the acoustic guitar and Hammond organ-powered pop drawing in clear influences from the Beatles through to Pink Floyd. Lines like “you know you had problems when your imaginary friend left you again’’ show there’s more than a flash of songwriting genius here that also draws in barbed wit, insults and love. Sounds like a full-on band, but it’s just one man, Mancunian James Hill. At times you suspect he could take it to greater heights than he actually does. A one-man band who stays mainly in his own bedroom, but now the world can join him. The happy strumming What Will I Do Without You? is nothing short of musical perfection.
DIVE DIVE: Potential.Their ‘daytime’ job is being Frank Turner’s band, but clearly they get a reasonable amount of time off as they’ve teamed up with singer Jamie Stuart to do their own thing which just happens to be rock that’s on a musical par with a high energy drink. Punchy stuff that pogos one minute but can then quieten down the next to thought-provoking introspection.