Five Favourites: Tiberius b

Building upon the dream-pop melodies of the Vancouver duo known as Mu, that have taken us on various adventures in the tragedies of youth, Canadian singer-songwriter Francesca Belcourt now creates under a new musical moniker – Tiberius b.

Having now shared beautifully reflective, nostalgia laden new single ‘No Smoke’, they have showcased their ability to create utterly dreamy atmospheric soundscapes.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Francesca, who has shared their “Five Favourites” – five tracks or albums that particularly resonate with them. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to latest single ‘No Smoke’ at the end of this post.

Nelly Furtado – Woah, Nelly!
I received this CD along with my first disc-man. I listened to it front to back for the first time over and over and over again on a road trip to Tofino with my family, and was entranced. To be honest, I never really understood what she was saying until revisiting the record recently, but I think her unabashed progressive lyrics mixed with her insane delivery/voice must have impacted me on a subconscious level… Everybody knows ‘I’m Like A Bird’, but everything she says across the whole record is so poignant and empowered. She also grew up on Vancouver Island which is very close to where I’m from.

SOPHIE – ‘Is It Cold In The Water?’
This was my favourite song of 2018. SOPHIE and Cecile Believe are both geniuses. I had the honour of working with Cecile on my upcoming album right before Oil Of Every Pearls Un Insides came out. When I heard ‘Is it Cold In The Water?’ for the first time after coming back from our residency, I was devastated by its tragic and gorgeous intensity.

Portishead – ‘The Rip’
I grew up listening to the albums Portishead and Dummy heavily. They were in the collection of CDs that my parents brought from London to Canada which soundtracked the lonely stretches of my childhood. I felt proud to embrace my creepy dark feelings when as I listened to them. Discovering ‘The Rip’ in adulthood helped reunite me with those early memories, and is my current favourite song by them.

Arthur Russel – ‘Close My Eyes’
I love this song because it is perfect, but also because it encourages me every time I hear it to be unafraid to explore whatever type of music that I’m inspired to create. I admire that Arthur never withheld himself from approaching and releasing a vast range of styles. 

Underworld – ‘Born Slippy’ (Nuxx)
One of my favourite songs off of the Trainspotting soundtrack, another album of the dad CD collection which I adored as a kid. We used to dance in the kitchen and make pancakes to this. Growing up listening to dance music made me feel quite free when I entered actual club environments, knowing how to express  myself with my body.

Massive thanks to Francesca for sharing their choices with us!

Listen to ‘No Smoke’, the captivating new track from Tiberius b here:

Five Favourites: Maija Sofia

Following the success of last single ‘Flowers’, Irish artist Maija Sofia has now announced the release of her debut album, Bath Time – a collection of songs that were written in the run up to the Repeal The 8th Movement, and all addressing the issue of the silencing and misrepresentation of women.

Creating poignant, stirring slices of alt-folk, filled with beautiful melodies, rich luscious vocals and a raw emotion, Maija Sofia is fast becoming a firm favourite and we can’t wait for the album release.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Maija, who has shared her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that particularly resonate with her. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to latest single ‘The Glitter’ at the end of this post.

Katie Kim – ‘Day is Coming’ 
Katie Kim is one of my absolute favourite songwriters and this song is from her incredible album Salt. I love how dark, foreboding and ominous her work is while managing to be tender and emotive at the same time. She marries heavy, droning, gauzy harmonies with strange, unexpected vocal melodies and it creates an atmosphere in her work that’s like a sliver of sunlight trying to push through heavy black storm clouds. I love how the chanted refrain “day is coming” towards the end of this song sounds like a wild, horrific pagan ritual, but also sounds redemptive and oddly reassuring.

Radie Peat – ‘Katie Cruel’
I first heard Radie perform this song with the above mentioned Katie Kim when they did a really special collaborative performance in the Pepper Canister church in Dublin, and she’s since recorded an amazing version with her band Lankum who I would include in this list as they are probably my favourite band at the moment, but they surely need no introduction. I knew this song first from Karen Dalton’s gorgeous version but I love how Radie’s drawling almost terrifying voice merges with the harmonium and fiddle drones and makes it a totally new song.

Rachael Lavelle – ‘Perpetual Party’
Rachael Lavelle is an up and coming artist also based in Dublin that I’m really excited about. She has one of the hugest most eerily expansive voices I have ever heard and her songs are dark, gothic, evocative but also euphoric and have a strange, off-kilter sense of humour. This song is a perfect example of what makes her work so singular; she blends aspects of influence from Laurie Anderson, Jenny Hval and Julia Holter, but just makes it completely her own. Every time I see her live I’m more blown away.

Lisa O’Neill – ‘Along The North Strand’
For one reason or another I have a deep love of murder ballads in which the roles are reversed and it’s the women doing the murdering; same goes with folklore, the bible – Judith and Holofernes, Salome and John the Baptist, you name it, I love them all. This is a song Lisa O’Neill learned from a little-known traveller singer Kitty Cassidy and it appeared on her last album, the brilliant Heard A Long Gone Song. Lisa is also an one of my favourite songwriters, and that last album is a perfect mix of original songs and traditional songs, blending her wild, jagged mountainside stormy sea of a voice, her plaintive, poetic lyrics with accompaniment from some of the best trad musicians in the country like Cormac Begley and Christophe Capewell.

Rising Damp – ‘Rising Damp’
Rising Damp is the solo performance project of Michelle Doyle who also plays in the great punk band Sissy. I’ve been lucky to share the same bill with Michelle a few times now and every time I’m blown away. I can’t really describe it properly, but a Rising Damp show consists of synths, drum machines, vocal effects and fervently anti-fascist spoken word/shouting, all delivered with Michelle’s wild, hypnotic feral energy. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a Rising Damp show – go!

Huge thanks to Maija for sharing her Five Favourites! Listen to latest single ‘The Glitter’ below:

Bath Time, the upcoming album from Maija Sofia, is out 22nd November via Trapped Animal Records and Cargo Records.

FIVE FAVOURITES: People Club

Soulful vocals, snaking bass lines and an anti-misogynist premise mesh beautifully together on the new EP from Berlin-based indie soul group, People Club. Titled Kil Scott, the release centers around a fictional character (Scott) who is a benchmark for toxic masculinity, and the group use their music to dismantle his unsavory traits. 

Formed of Sarah Martin (lead vocals), Ray Sonder (bass, backing vocals), Saxon Gable (guitar, backing vocals), Pete Costello (keyboards, backing vocals) & Drew Deal (drums), People Club formed in 2018 after they all moved to Berlin in late 2017 from their respective countries (Australia, USA, UK, New Zealand).

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with People Club to ask them about their “Five Favourites” – five songs that have influenced their song writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to their new EP at the end of this post.

 

1. 10cc – ‘I’m Not In Love’
This song is a complete one-off, it sounds nothing like anything else from 10CC or like anything else from 1975. The multi-track vocals are completely intoxicating, it’s like taking a bubble bath in liquid love. Stewart’s lyrics are incredibly touching too. Apparently, it’s an ode to his wife who had suggested he didn’t say ‘I love you’ enough. We like to think that the female vocal, “big boys don’t cry”, is his wife. Regardless, it’s a wonderfully intimate piece, indulgently orchestrated. Delicate in all the right ways.

2. Carole King – ‘It’s Too Late’
This song is a very special one for us, it sounds exactly like that place at that time; the summer of 1971 in LA – oozing with sunshine but hosting a reflective melancholy. King’s vocals are assertive and strong, and the irresistible poppy melody sits so tight with the light jazz arrangement. What a treasure, thanks Carole.

3. Bobbie Gentry – ‘Courtyard’
Can’t believe we only came across this gem this year, it’s the closing track of her 1968 album The Delta Sweete. It has a deeply psychedelic tinge to it, whereas the rest of the album is more straight-laced country. She must have been saving the best ’till last. It’s almost like a proto-youtube meditation video soundtrack (but way more decent sounding), completely immersive and supernatural. The lavish string section is exquisite and perfectly complements her vocals. The gently-delivered lyrics are very simple – she basically just describes a courtyard that is gifted to her by her presumed lover – provisionally unassuming but somehow it takes you to another euphoric dimension.

4. Gil-Scott Heron & Brian Jackson – ‘We Almost Lost Detroit’
We’ve all been in love with Gil for a long time, he’s a huge influence for us, he ticks all the boxes. This is probably our favourite song by him. He casually addresses the near-meltdown of a nuclear power plant near Detroit in the mid 60s and the moral ineptitude of the government in dealing with the disaster. As always with Gil, it’s a gripping tale of injustice, delivered with an icy poet’s cool. The arrangement is really delicious too, loads of juicy rhodes piano. Relaxed but incisive, brilliant stuff.

5. Donny Hathaway – ‘A Song for You’
You know a song is special when it sends shivers down your spine every single time you listen to it. Whenever we play this track, it’s met with silence, it’s impossible to talk over, impossible to not be instantly bewitched. It surely is one of the most profound love songs ever written. Words don’t do it justice. Divine.

Thank you to People Club for sharing their favourite songs with us. Listen to their new EP Kil Scott below. Catch them live in London at The Islington on 28th November.

Five Favourites: Deux Furieuses

Having previously wowed us with their truly immense live show at The Finsbury a couple of years back, duo Ros Cairney and Vas Antoniadou – aka Deux Furieuses  – have been going from strength to strength with their powerful offerings.

Now, with the release of their poignant new album My War Is Your War, they continue to blow our minds with their explosive post-punk and stirring raw emotion.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Ros from the band, who has shared her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that particularly resonate with her and Vas. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the new video for ‘Let Them Burn’ at the end of this post.

PJ Harvey – ‘All and Everyone’
This makes me feel ill. I first listened to the album lying in a hospital bed which was a mistake. The track alternates heart-stoppingly between urgent and woozy sections as she plays with time, life and death. When the drums come in with a dull thud they sound stilted, then soon stop to leave the build up of chiming autoharp chords which introduce the voice with the words “Death was everywhere, In the air, And in the sounds, Coming off the mounds, Of Bolton’s Ridge..”. The vocals echo with a sense of place and history. Verse 2 is propelled along by churning chords until the rhythm slows and the song just lets go into the most sublime free fall with “As we advance in the sun, As we advancing every man, As we advancing in the sun”.  After the last line “Sing death to all and everyone” the track descends into a repetitive outro with long trombone notes conveying an out of tune malaise. I didn’t think PJ Harvey could improve on Dry until I heard Let England Shake. I had always loved PJ Harvey the actual band, that first trio with her distorted guitar riffs locking into that fantastic rhythm section, rather than her songwriting or her ‘solo’ albums. Vas and I saw them many times and are honoured to have worked with drummer Rob Ellis on both our albums. But on Let England Shake, Polly Harvey surpassed all her previous work.

Bert Jansch – ‘January Man’
I first heard Bert Jansch on an old battered copy of 1965 album Don’t Bother Me, borrowed from my aunt Aine Carey who actually taught me to play guitar. I loved his voice and the track ‘Ring a Ding Bird’ with its mesmerising major to minor and back to major key mood shifts. But this is my favourite Bert Jansch song for the combination of his voice and guitar playing on this fantastic song written by Dave Goulder. “And the January man comes round again in woollen coat and boots of leather, To take another turn and walk along the icy road he knows so well, The January man is here for starting each and every year, Along the road for ever”.

Joni Mitchell – ‘Amelia’
I took a year off university in Glasgow to work as a houseparent in a ‘free school’ near Dumfries and would take off into the countryside on a bike. It was summer and I loved to sit under a tree in a field and listen to Hejira, Joni Mitchell’s electric guitar road album endlessly on headphones. I loved the words and guitar on ‘Amelia’, skies streaked with vapour trails that look like “the hexagram of the heavens, the strings of my guitar… The drone of flying engines is a song so wild and blue, It scrambles time and seasons if it gets through to you… I dreamed of 747s over geometric farms”. The song progresses without a chorus, powered by her finger picked electric chords with sonic textures and a line at the end of each verse addressed to Amelia Earhart, another solo traveller with a dream to fly. I was considering moving to London to pursue music but then stayed on in Glasgow for a few years until I realised it was now or never. When I finally moved I met Vas. 

The Beatles – ‘A Day In The Life’
It was tough to choose between ‘A Day in the Life’ and ‘Gimme Some Truth’ by John Lennon solo, which is the only cover we have ever played live and is so relevant to now. But ‘A Day in the Life’ won through. Wafting in with atmospheric guitar and piano which reminds me of PJ Harvey, the dead pan vocals intone the almost callous words. On verse 2, thunderous rolling drum fills propel the track along without playing a beat. “He blew his mind out in a car… A crowd of people stood and stared… Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords”. This experimental track has a violent cruelty about it which is lightened by Paul McCartney’s middle section which ends with “And I went into a dream…” before returning to John Lennon’s evocative wailing “Aaaahs”. ‘A Day In the Life’ evokes for me an indifferent England sleepwalking into catastrophe which resonates even today.

Kate Bush – ‘Sat in Your Lap’
This is the track Vas and I put on to remind ourselves that we have a very long way to go and should possibly just give up. In fact all of these tracks do this. But you have to keep going if you are driven to communicate with music like we are. With its thunderous drums and absolutely insane vocals, this is a masterpiece. The words have a great rhythm to them. “Some say that knowledge is something sat in your lap, Some say that knowledge is something that you never have.” It comes to a thunderous and operatic end which I can hear us trying to emulate in some of our songs. Is this rock? Who cares. We don’t make music to fit your genres! These artists inspire and challenge us and brought us together with their music.

Massive thanks to Ros for sharing her Five Favourites with us! 

My War Is Your War, the new album from Deux Furieuses, is out now. Watch the searing video for latest single ‘Let Them Burn’, here:

Catch Deux Furieuses live at the following dates:

2nd November – Blossoms, Stockport
5th November – Banshee, Edinburgh

 

Photo Credit: Dan Donovan

FIVE FAVOURITES: R. Elizabeth

With her instinctive approach to sound art and pop minimalism, London-based artist R. Elizabeth (aka Rachael Finney) creates deceptively simple tunes underscored by complex themes. On her latest album, Every And All We Voyage On, released via Night School (Patience, Molly Nilsson, Cucina Povera), she improvises with a single 80s Casio keyboard, reel-to-reel tape manipulation, piano and vocals; resulting in a mix of atmospheric, upbeat, charming sounds. 

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Rachael to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her new album at the end of this post.

 

1. Scott Walker – Scott 2
‘Best of Both Worlds’, the second track on Scott 2, is absolutely staggering. I remember the first time I heard this – I had bought and exhausted Scott 1, so thought it logical to simply buy each album chronologically. I picked up a copy of Scott 2 on CD and proceeded to listen to it on my way home on some crappy discman. Hearing ‘Best of Both Worlds’ for the first time I had to stand still; the sweeping violins are dizzying, it’s a fantastically intense song. Scott 1 to 4 are all completely overwhelming in the best possible way but Scott 2 has such an incredible arc to it.

‘Plastic Palace People’ contains not only an incredible story, but there’s these almost spinning violins and flutes, then right in the middle there’s this shift where Walker’s voice sings this dissonant harmony “hurry you’ve got to get in line/your nose might start to shine” then back to these flurry of violins and flutes. Whenever I listen to Scott Walker, my teeth go on edge with excitement. I can never just have it on in the background, I have to give it my full attention and listen each story. All of Walker’s albums are incredible experiences.

2. Daphne Oram – Pop Try Outs
Pop Try Outs was a cassette release by Mondo Hebden/Was Ist Das? of some of Daphne Oram’s work. Unlike Oramics, Pop Try Outs presents Oram’s experiments with highly melodic pieces. Oram, among other women, continues to be a significant figure for me. Her work with tape and the Radiophonic workshop more broadly is endlessly fascinating. The cassette is a wonderful glimpse into her working methods. It’s also pretty much one pattern looping again and again, which is very up my street.

3. John Baker – John Baker Tapes Vol.1 1963-1969
John Baker is another Radiophonic Workshop figure. This was gifted to me about ten years ago and I have listened to it continuously ever since. Baker produced theme tunes and incidental music for TV and radio. He worked with tape, and it’s Baker along with Delia Derbyshire that I owe my tape obsession too. There is one track where Baker explains his process. Upon hearing the theme tune you would be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to a synthesizer, but it’s largely objects and natural elements like water being poured from a bottle, or a wooden ruler just hitting the top of a table. It’s magical.

4. Ikue Mori – Hex Kitchen
The patterns that Mori creates are both dense and full of space. When listening to Hex Kitchen, it’s as if all these sounds are being tipped out, almost cascading past your ears. There’s elements of collage, but then really pronounced rhythmic patterns. I like the feeling of these parts that come together almost melodically, especially when Mori uses her own voice, only to fall away into something with a much more open and abstract structure. The opening track ‘Slush’ is fantastic – you are confronted with loud, almost percussive sounds, but then they begin to sound like water – the experience of hearing these electronically produced sounds sound so fluid but structured all at the same time has a really sensuous effect. I always have to scratch my head whilst listening to ‘Slush’, it has this ability to cause quite peculiar physical responses.

5. Don Ellis Orchestra – Electric Bath
‘Open Beauty’ is one of my favourite pieces of music. It begins very open with flutterings of electronic piano and wind and reed instruments, creating beautiful patterns. It builds up to quite an intense and extended burst right in the middle then almost falls back to silence. Ellis then plays an absolutely incredible trumpet solo. Using tape delay and echo he kind of duets with himself. Its remarkable. It’s a beautiful record.

Thanks to Rachael for sharing her favourites with us. Order your copy of R. Elizabeth’s new album Every And All We Voyage On here.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Mira Lu Kovacs (5K HD)

Austrian experimental-pop group 5K HD shared their new LP, High Performer, in September earlier this year, and their feet have barely touched the ground since. They’re currently touring the new record across Europe, filling stages with a blend of their poppy, jazzy, prog-rock beats. Vocalist Mira Lu Kovacs is regarded by critics and peers as one of the most expressive voices in the scene, and with a team of multi-instrumentalists behind her, it’s easy to see why 5K HD are in such high demand. 

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Mira to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for for 5K HD’s track ‘Crazy Talk’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Ani DiFranco – Evolve / Educated Guess
With Ani DiFranco I grew up! I remember I was 11 and my step father at that time played a mixed CD (it couldn’t have been a tape, it was the late 90s). He put on Ani DiFranco’s ‘Marrow’ right after Tori Amos’ ‘Cornflake Girl’, what a mix! I didn’t understand much, cause my mother tongue is German, so the only thing I grasped was the phrase “And where did you put all those letters that you wrote to yourself, but could not address?” I don’t know if it was her finger picking (or should i say ripping?) on her steely guitars, or her edgy playful singing? I think it was the seriousness of her songwriting, I felt spoken to. It was really magical. Later, I listened to all her albums. Now I would say my favourites are Evolve and Educated Guess, but to me Ani DiFranco is such a poet and what she does must be evaluated as a whole and not just one album. She inspired me endlessly, even if her sound aesthetic isn’t the one that I am looking for today.

2. Radiohead – Hail To The Thief
Hail To The Thief is maybe an atypical Radiohead album to start with, no? I think I listened to this one at the age of 14 and then traveled back in time to learn about Kid A, OK Computer and The Bends (which I only appreciated later in my musical career). Most Radiohead Hardliners don’t understand why this album is so special to me. But I think, again, the songwriting is especially good on this one and there is a new shininess in their sound with this album. Also – ‘Backdrifts’, ‘We Suck Young Blood” and “I Will “ (to date the only song I ever publicly covered – acappella) – what great songs to speak to a depressed teenager!

3. Aldous Harding – Designer
This one is quite new, and has been such an inspiration to me this year. I just love the boldness and uncompromising softness in Aldous Harding’s music. I didn’t allow myself this kind of softness for a while, and now I feel like it’s coming back. The allowance, it’s something that I was scared of, because: how else to defend myself? I thought I needed to be loud and clear and aggressive. I am that, too, but I need to allow the softness to comfort me, as well. I feel like the beautifully weird old/new voice of Aldous Harding reminded me of that part of me. Thank you ❤

4. Beth Gibbons – Out Of Season
I can’t believe I only found this album 3 years ago. What a production! What songwriting! What truth, what openness. Sorry, there’s not much else to say. She’s a genius. The arrangements are sparse and pompous at the same time. I think this is where I wanna go in the future and who I wanna be when I grow up.

5. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
I think this was the album of a whole generation. It changed many things, not only musically, but also in the industry. The simplicity set new standards. The vulnerability in his voice was a new level of emotion. Whatever genius album Bon Iver made after this, this one is still one of the most brutally beautiful ones that there are.

Thanks to Mira for sharing her favourites with us. Follow 5K HD on Facebook for more info on their current tour dates.

Photo Credit: Ingo Pertramer

Five Favourites: ĠENN’s Sofia Rosa Cooper

Having completely blown us away playing for us at both The Finsbury and The Five Bells over the last year, we cannot wait for ĠENN (fka Cryptic Street) to headline The Finsbury for our gig there this Friday!

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with ĠENN‘s drummer Sofia Rosa Cooper to talk about her ‘Five Favourites’ – five songs that have influenced her playing and songwriting techniques, or simply take her back to a specific feeling or time. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to the band’s ‘Let’s Go Suki’, ahead of the gig this Friday, at the end of this post!

Kashmere Stage Band – ‘Kashmere’
Sounds varying from jazz to rare groove/funk have always been an inspiration source to me, no matter what style I play and this is just one example. The drums are tasty af and worth grooving to if you can keep up (I can’t!).

Angel Olsen – ‘Woman’
This song!!! I can’t be the only person to have stumbled across Angel Olsen and wondered why it took so long. It’s just so nice to see a rise of powerful and raw artists that are striving unapologetically. Writing music almost always serves as an outlet for me and I’ve found that part of putting pen to paper is being open and honest with myself. I can’t imagine the process being any easier without influence!

Funkadelic – ‘Maggot Brain’
I don’t need to say much! but Funkadelic have definitely played a part in my growth as a musician and I just love ‘Maggot Brain’. Unrelated to this song, one of my favourite drummers of all time Dennis Chambers played for Parliament/Funkadelic and this was the connection that brought me to them. If you’re unfamiliar with Dennis but a Santana fan like me, Dennis was also an asset to Santana’s never-ending supergroup and toured extensively with him. Watch some Dennis Chambers content today!

Yellowjackets – ‘Summer Song’
Yellowjackets are a band I revisited after listening to a bunch of my dad’s records and I instantly felt nostalgic. I love this song so much and it’s definitely my favourite of theirs. Also, I always associate these kinds of songs with nature and being outdoors, and they’re usually the type to get my creativity flowing!

Hollie Cook – ’99’
A sweet and tropical song to finish, and an easy choice really! I first saw Hollie Cook when she was supporting The Skints a while back and I’ve been following her ever since. It’s really cool to see artists really innovate with genres like reggae and dub whilst staying true to their foundations, and she’s done exactly that.

Big thanks to Sofia for sharing her Five Favourites! Make sure you catch ĠENN live headlining The Finsbury, this Friday 11th October, and listen to their immense track ‘Let’s Go Suki’ below!

 

Photo Credit: Maria Galea