Five Favourites: Maria Uzor

Having recently wowed us with her immersive live show at The Shacklewell Arms, and having received acclaim from the likes of John Kennedy and Amy Lame, we’re excited to hear that Norwich based vocalist and producer Maria Uzor (also half of faves Sink Ya Teeth) has now announced the release of her upcoming new EP in December. Ahead of the EP release, she has now shared captivating new single ‘Solitaire’. Flowing with a luscious, swirling groove and gnarly beats, it builds with a shimmering, pulsating majesty to a gritty slice of euphoric electro-pop. Oozing her distinctive, spellbinding sweeping vocals, it’s a gloriously uplifting synth-soaked soundscape.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the upcoming release of Songs For Luminous Living, we caught up with Maria to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and be sure to watch the trippy new video for ‘Solitaire’ at the end of this feature.

Tricky – Pre Millenium Tension
I’ve always really admired Tricky as an artist. I’m really drawn to the landscapes he paints with sounds and vocals, and how he doesn’t confine himself to genres. You can hear influences from all over the place. There’s an other-worldly quality to his music too, which I think comes from not putting restrictions on himself. He’s an explorer; I love that. This album also features the superb vocals of Martine Topley Bird. The interplay between their two voices is something magic.


Minnie Ripperton – Come To My Garden
This was Minnie Ripperton’s debut solo album after leaving Rotary Connection, and what an album! That voice is just from another realm – it makes me cry! And such beautiful production too. It’s the kind of album I can play on a summer’s day or late at night and it will just put me in a mood of beauty and possibility. This album has an other-worldly feel to it too; it’s haunting in its beauty.


Sylvester – Stars
I absolutely adore Sylvester. He had such a beautiful voice and presence, and he chose to spend his time on this planet being unapologetically himself, and I really love that. Stars is only a four track EP but every song is special. The title track makes me want to dance whenever I hear it, it’s just life affirming. The EP also features a collaboration with Patrick Cowley on ‘I Need Somebody To Love Tonight’ (Cowley produced it). It definitely grooves hard, but there’s a pensive element there too which gives it a different edge.

David Bowie – Low
Whenever I speak to people who were around when Ziggy Stardust first landed, they always say the same thing; that it was like he came from another planet. So naturally, I love him – haha! When I was a teenager I used to just play all the usual early ’70s classics like ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘Starman’, but then I started loving all eras of Bowie as I got older. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed out on. I’m really into how wise he became in his older years too. There’s some stellar nuggets of wisdom from him in YouTube videos! It was hard to pick just one Bowie album but I settled on Low for the beautiful songwriting and production. I admire Bowie for the same reason that I admire Tricky; they’re both explorers, boldly dancing beyond boundaries in every sense. ‘Sound And Vision’ just reminds me of countless good times I’ve had with friends, late at night in small kitchens!


Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On?
To me, no other piece of music comes closer to perfection than this album. I first discovered it at art school and used to play it every day for about two years. The production, the sentiment, the vocals; it’s like it’s a precise moment of expression beamed out to the universe. Or beamed in from the universe. Or both! Flawless and breathtaking in its beauty.


Massive thanks to Maria Uzor for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch the captivatingly trippy new video for her single ‘Solitaire‘ now:


Songs For Luminous Living, the upcoming EP from Maria Uzor, is set for release on 9th December via Hey Buffalo Records.

Photo Credit: Andi Sapey

Five Favourites: Jemima Coulter

Whilst you may know them from being one half of Hailaiker, or from their collaborations with the likes of Squirrel Flower and Novo Amor, Bristol-based artist Jemima Coulter has now released their debut solo album. Reflecting on themes such as unrequited love and chasing happiness – through both their own lived experiences and imagined situations – Grace After A Party is a beautifully poignant collection. Flowing with a shimmering, folk-strewn musicality, each track showcases Coulter’s raw, heartfelt vocals and ability to create stirring, emotion-rich dreamscapes with a swirling, immersive allure.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of their debut album, we caught up with Jemima Coulter to ask about the music that has inspired them the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and be sure to treat your ears to Grace After A Party as soon as possible

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
I drew a lot from this album while writing Grace, mostly in thinking about storytelling and the details in the lyrics that make it compelling. The stories told in this album combined with the nuanced melodies makes it feel so directed, so itself and also perfectly balanced – never too much going on. Each section in a song sits perfectly on its own and in context of other sections, each song on the album sitting perfectly on its own and also tied to the others. I think the use of space in this album is not something I’ve found anywhere else; I don’t know what they used for the reverb, but listening to it, it’s all really ‘verby, but in a way where it’s like this special Carrie & Lowell room that’s a specific kind of dark and echoey but doesn’t make everything sound floaty and washed, and also ties the closer sounding guitar with everything else. Maybe it’s just the best mix I’ve ever heard ha. I listened to Carrie & Lowell a lot when I was driving, around the age of 19-20 – the combination of night-driving and this music seemed to swirl into an endless road. I’ve always wanted to recreate that in an album – you put it on and you’re there, it’s like a physical space, each song a room in a house, and the same things are in the rooms each time you listen but you’re still picking each of them up and turning them over in your hands and each object conjures an emotion in you.

Camille – Le Fil
Someone showed me ‘Quand Je Marche’ one morning and it was in my head for literally years until I found it on this album. There was a period while I was working on Grace (I think autumn 2020) – I was missing someone and I couldn’t sleep and I walked the perimeter of Bristol a few nights for nearly four hours each time and I remember walking the side of a steep A-road listening to this. I think she does nearly everything with her mouth? It’s really minimalist, but it taught me about using drones and melody and kind of inspired me to keep exploring that idea that you often just hear in folk. It’s also totally the opposite of what I tend to do with production and I love how her melodies totally carry the whole album. It has loads of repeating melodic themes and moments, almost like ‘acts’ and interludes which makes it theatrical, but in a really good way… It’s just a wicked album. 

Sea Oleena – Weaving a Basket 
I just think this is the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. It makes time stand still. No other words. 

John Martyn – Glorious Fool 
I was shown this album fairly recently, after being aware of a few John Martyn songs. The bass in his music takes me somewhere – I don’t think I’ve heard anything like it. Sometimes it’s like it’s just John and that fretless bass and everything else is just highlighting whatever they’re doing. His music makes me think about timing and atmosphere more than anyone else’s at the moment. He’s not doing anything particularly dense with his melodies or his words, it’s all very felt and is almost improvisational. It seems that the songs are really recordings in the sense that they don’t feel concerned with how they’d stand-up as live performance, and that’s something I find about this particular album and in his other ones, that them being crafted in the studio in darkness and in the atmosphere absolutely comes through. I was reading Phill Brown’s autobiography Are we Still Rolling? and it includes a bit about them recording John Martyn’s One World album – they had speakers across a lake and recorded parts the other side of the water to create a massive outdoor reverb. The combination of nature and technology fits with the crossovers I hear in John Martyn’s music; he was clearly so ahead and on the brink of mixing jazz, folk and electronic experimentation. ‘Small Hours’ from that album is the best night-time song. 

The Blue Nile – Hats
The thing I love about this album is that it feels like film music because it is so secured within timbre limitations and concept limitations. It’s like an ’80s rework of the Casablanca soundtrack or something. It sounds so ’80s/early ’90s it’s almost like a modern day pastiche of that period of pop. Again though – maybe a theme going on here -, there’s so much space and anticipation in these songs which I’ve found really liberating, like “yes, repeat that bit 8 times”. The whole thing is a massive argument against concision for me – like, fuck being concise; be indulgent, do a fade out. There’s three songs on that album over six minutes, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be inside them for the whole six minutes, I want to be able to do that more than anything, really.

Massive thanks to Jemima Coulter for sharing their Five Favourites with us!

Grace After A Party, the debut album from Jemima Coulter, is out now via Hand In Hive.

Photo Credit: Christina Russell

Five Favourites: Breakup Haircut

Having wowed us live with their scuzzy, joyous punk-pop at our January gig at The Victoria, First Timers Fest alumni Breakup Haircut have just released their debut album – Punk Dancing For Self Defence. A collection of joyously lo-fi pop punk reflecting on themes ranging from social anxiety and break-ups to bi-erasure and existing in a Capitalist society. Propelled by a jangly, uplifting energy with gritty angst-driven undertones, the band’s colourful charisma and sparkling charm shines through each track with a striking relatable poignancy, creating an utterly necessary listen. Whether you need cheering up with some buoyant danceable anthems, or simply want to immerse yourself in the band’s raw emotion and relatable, resonant reflections on life, Punk Dancing For Self Defence will provide you with the aural comfort you need right now.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of their debut album, we caught up with members of Breakup Haircut to ask about the music that has inspired them the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and listen to latest single ‘I’d Say Yes‘ at the bottom of this feature.

Ripley:

Pat Benatar – Greatest Hits
I could pick my favourite Pat Benatar album, but I’m going to pick specifically the random ‘Greatest Hits’ album that my Dad bought off a market stall when I was a teenager and we were living in the USA. It was one of the first albums that I basically ‘permanently borrowed’ from my parents’ music collection. I fell in love with the intense and energetic ‘80s rock sound. I have always particularly loved music that generates energy and feels kinetic and I don’t think I’d heard anything that sounded so huge, epic and all big emotions before at that age (and as a teenager, I was of course relating to big emotions particularly strongly at the time). Their music had an intense energy and sincerity that I really connected with. Pat Benatar’s powerful and emotive voice; her aspirationally cool, badass attitude in her singing and lyrics, plus Neil Giraldo’s amazing guitar solos were also a big draw. Pat Benatar is probably best known for ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ and ‘Love is a Battlefield’ in the UK (both awesome songs). I think their music was a lot more popular stateside than here, as a variety of their songs used to be played on rock radio there a lot. My favourites were songs like the emotional and epic ‘Promises In The Dark’ (the bridge vocal build and following emotional guitar solo is so amazing that I often end up listening to that section an extra time after finishing the whole song), and the inspirational ‘Invincible’ that makes you feel badass and ready for anything (it’s also a perfect inspirational training montage song).

Ishani:

Kimya Dawson – Remember That I Love You
I don’t get a whole lot of time to listen to new music – my partner actually spends a lot of time doing that, and makes this big playlist of releases of the year I should listen to which is hanging over my head. But a staple of my favourites in rotation is Remember That I Love You by Kimya Dawson. I found it when I was around 13 or 14, I remember seeing her at St Martin-in-the-Fields when I was 15 or so and meeting her. But I feel like that’s an album that has stayed with me through my years, because Kimya Dawson is someone that I take a lot of inspiration from, even a decade later – I think her work is so simple and poignant that it is really cutting. I love it because that allows for its hooks to be catchy without complication, something that relates down to the core. It’s pop, but it’s totally anti-pop. Everyone in the world would be better for listening to it once in a while, just to remember that the human condition is just a lot – and hearing it in such a simple way is kind of gutting.

Delphine:

Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American
I think I‘ll have to pick Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World. This album came out whilst I was in a difficult period in my life and somehow, this album enabled me to allow myself to feel. ‘The Middle’ is to this day one of my favourite songs of all time. It was a pep talk and in song form. I’ve always struggled with lack of self-esteem and being self-critical so it was a good reminder that doing your best is all you can do and it’s okay to not succeed at the first try. It also reinforced the idea that one shouldn’t listen to people being overly critical when they know nothing about you and your circumstances and that you should do what you want rather than what other people say you must want. 

Jordan:

Biffy Clyro – Puzzle 
My pick is Puzzle by Biffy Clyro. I can’t remember how old I was – but it felt like a whole lifetime ago – I was at this super house party. The conversation is going great and I heard ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’ come on. It was the first time both me and my friend had heard it and it instantly grabbed us. You’ve got the big build up and the shrill strings in the pre-chorus. I think we both dropped what we were doing to try to find the CD so we could steal it. For a good 9-15 months it was in contact rotation with other music we would listen to. We’d play ‘Now I’m Everyone’ whenever someone had a match or needed hyping up. I wasn’t really drumming at that time but when I started, this album became more important in trying to replicate the sound. The drumming on the album is especially interesting as it’s semi-technical and semi-mental. Some parts you just have to feel where the notes are, rather than learning the specific sticking. You also have songs like ‘Love Has a Diameter’ which are more soppy but still can maintain a strong groove and pace.

Band Combo Decision:

Green Day – American Idiot
With four of us in the band and five albums to choose, we decided to pick one album each and one shared choice. American Idiot was a young Ripley’s gateway album to a life-long obsession with rock and punk music, one of Ishani’s first discoveries from her brother’s speakers, the album that rekindled Delphine’s love for everything rock ‘n’ roll after a short stint into EDM.
Ripley’s favourite track: ‘Letterbomb’. An underrated high energy song from the latter end of the album. I always loved the intro build to this and the high energy mixed with nihilism vibes that this song gives off. It just sounded so huge, dramatic and intense to me when I was younger, with the driving bass and drums and sweeping guitar melodies. It’s one of those songs where it feels like it has so much energy that it has spare to hand over to you, and you can’t help but feel energised and ready to go by listening to it.
Ishani’s favourite track: ‘Homecoming’. I was always more of an early Green Day fan, like Dookie/Nimrod, but this came out at a time when I wasn’t paying that much attention to music beyond what came muffled out of my brother’s room. He played this a lot – I love the highs and lows, the harmonies, the theatricality of it – it feels like it was written for a stadium, it’s almost dadly. 
Jordan’s favourite track: ‘She’s A Rebel’. American Idiot was the first album I was excited to buy. I was taken up to central London with my grandma and we went into the Virgin Megastore in order to get a copy. It was so catchy and well produced, and it’ll always be remembered fondly. I say that I rarely ever listen back to this album now because having tracks 3 to 6 actually being eight songs has got to be the most colossally stupid fucking idea ever conceived. Why would you do that? ‘She’s A Rebel’ is my favourite and I have to sit through ‘Give Me Novacaine’ in order to get to it. Terrible. 
Delphine’s favourite track: ‘Jesus of Suburbia’. Mostly because it covers all the topics that encompass what a generation of disenchanted kids would feel strongly about. Green Day has always been engaged in their lyrics and giving the finger to the establishment. I guess, in this album, it’s that song. 

Massive thanks to Breakup Haircut for their amazing album choices for their Five Favourites! Listen to their latest single ‘I’d Say Yes’ now:

Punk Dancing For Self Defence, the debut album from Breakup Haircut, is out now via Reckless Yes. Buy on Bandcamp now.

Five Favourites: Sprout

Having received acclaim for previous singles ‘(I’m Just) Getting By‘ and ‘Settled (Here In My Heart)‘, Burnley artist Meg Grooters – aka Sprout – is now set to release their debut EP tomorrow, 15th June. Flowing with lilting melodies, honey-sweet vocals and an uplifting colourful allure, Sprout’s offerings ooze a subtle reflection on life’s anxieties with a soothing, jazz-infused musicality and soulful splendour.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of their debut EP, we caught up with Sprout to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired them the most. Read about their choices below:

h hunt- playing piano for dad
I heard this album for the first time as I was graduating from university, but it only became a soundtrack of my everyday at the start of the pandemic in 2020. I played at least a song from it almost every day that year. I think back on when I’d be having my one cycle a day around the park nearby, not being sure if the world was going to make it, and somehow still feeling really comforted by this album. It really soothed my anxieties at the time and gave me a space to feel all of the contrasting, messy feelings that came with both the fear and stillness of the start of the pandemic. I love so much hearing his fingers hitting the keys, him talking to himself, or the pauses to figure out what he’s playing whilst he’s playing it. It’s so intimately recorded – it was done in one take, and originally made as a Christmas gift for his Dad. I really like how it highlights the things that would typically be viewed as ‘mistakes’ in music recording, and makes them earnest and heartfelt. This album really made me want to create music in that way too. I’m guessing it wasn’t intentional but I think it’s probably the most beautiful representation of uncertainty I’ve ever heard; and not to be too dramatic, but I love it to death.

Joni Mitchell- Blue
I mean, it’s a very famous album for a reason! Picking just one Joni album was a pain but it wasn’t really possible for me to talk about her and not talk about the first album to ever metaphorically tear my heart out of my chest and leave it on the floor. A lot of my favourite albums stem from the music my mum brought me up on and my memories of being a kid, and Joni is up there as being one of the most influential on my music making. When I was 16, my mum got all of her old vinyls down and gave me this album, along with a bunch of others (Kate Bush, Billie Holiday, loads of good ones, well done mum). I put this on first as I started to revise. I remember being alone in my room, putting the books down and listening to the whole thing back to back, just lying there. I don’t think I’d ever listened to lyrics so intently before and I still listen to it every break-up and have a cathartic weep. I love it more so for the fact that the first time I heard it was on the same record my mum had listened to it as a teen/twenty something too. That’s generational sad-medicine passed on! Joni is a master of poetry and beautiful singing and songwriting and this album depicts that entirely and that’s that really.

Eliza – A Real Romantic
I love this album so much – it’s so hot, and I feel like I heard this album for the first time and finally felt like an adult. When this album came out I couldn’t believed this was the same Eliza Doolittle pop queen from my high school years and that’s in part what I love about it so much. Hearing the transformation of who she was then when with a major label, to now – making these RnB smokey demos – is really cool and refreshing. It also lyrically comes with an ethos of re-invention, and self-invention, that I can really subscribe to. The songs are all dead groovy and the production is yummy and I just like singing along to it and having a solo bop in my room. It doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard, it’s not trying to be something new for the sake of being something new, and instead is just really nice and easy to listen to. I love how spacious it feels as an album, and I love how it takes its time. It feels really focused on pleasure and love and escapism, and it makes me want to have a bubble bath and light lots of candles and order three desserts and wear lots of silk, and that’s fun!

Sidney Bechet – Les Années Bechet
When it comes down to it, I’m just a child from the ’90s heavily influenced and somewhat indoctrinated from the many problematic 2000s romantic movie tropes of love and coming of age. Put that on top of my passion for the golden era musicals, and at the core of me is a big cheeseball who wants to be a bit cringe and romanticise their life. So, if you’re gonna do it, I’d say do it to this album. It’s a timeless classic and has seen me through many a sombre night walking home, and many an introspective bus journey. Life looks a bit nicer when you’re listening to this album and listening to it is like having a warm, long-lasting hug for the ears. Aside from that, Sidney Bechet is an outrageously brilliant clarinettist and soprano sax player, and sometimes you just don’t need to look any further than the best work of the legends. I love music for the way it relates to memories and its ability to transport you to a different time and place in your life, and nothing sparks up nostalgia quite like this one. Even the smallest encounter with a stranger could feel romantic after listening to this, and why shouldn’t the mundane moments in life get to feel a bit more lovely too?

Harry Nilsson – The Point!
This album is an experience! So fun, full of wonder, and better listened to with the film (at least first time round). A friend at university showed this to me in my second year when I was having a particularly difficult day and I instantly fell in love with the story, the imagery and the music. It follows the story of a boy called Oblio, who is the only round-headed person in a village where everyone and everything must have a point. It’s all very cute and endearing and metaphorical, and the sort of thing I would’ve loved as a child and find myself recommending to people a lot. When I’m particularly low, I can put this on and things are always a bit lighter afterwards. The music and orchestration is really playful and bouncy and it reminds of all the wacky kids shows that were knocking around when I was younger. It’s simply adorable, with a beautiful tale of finding the acceptance of feeling and being different to others. Very tender.

Massive thanks to Sprout for sharing their Five Favourites with us! Listen to their latest single ‘Come Back (To What Can Be)’ below:

The debut self-titled EP from Sprout is set for release tomorrow, 15th June, via sevenfoursevensix.

Photo Credit: Marieke Macklon