The superb start to 2017 continues with another fantastic month of music in February. I hope you enjoy the playlist this month – have a look below for more detail on each band and if you missed January’s playlist, you can catch up on that here.
1. Stolas – ‘Bellwether’
Stolas’ debut album ‘Living Creatures’ hooked me in, but follow-up ‘Allomaternal’ didn’t grab me. I wasn’t sure which way the new material was going to go, so I approached it with trepidation. The opening riff alone was enough to get me back onside – ‘Bellwether’ is a fantastic tune. [More at: Featured Band, Guitar Cover]
2. Aerial – ‘Foreign Coast’
This is the musical equivalent of having the shit kicked out of you by a very polite man. In one moment you’re being pummelled to the floor by the power of heavily downtuned riffs, but in the next, your assailant is reaching out to offer you a kind hand in support, raising you to your feet with gentle, soaring melodies. [More at: Featured Band]
3. Painting Promises – ‘Headway’
This track shows a lot of potential and I’m hoping there will be more to come from this band very soon!
4. Time, the Valuator – ‘When I Meet Death’
When heavy bands explore their softer sides it can yield some intoxicating results and Germany’s Time, the Valuator serve up a perfect example with ‘When I Meet Death’. The calm, piano-led intro is a beautiful contrast to what succeeds it and the juxtaposition between atmospheric melody and the deep, rumbling, low notes of the band’s tech-metal tuned guitars plays with my emotions in all the right ways. [More at: Feature Article]
5. Ghost Iris – ‘Save Yourself’
Ghost Iris manage between the four of them the range and depth of sound that should be impossible without at least six members. Quite how front man Jesper Vicencio is able to growl lower than the earth’s core in one breath, and project his voice to the heavens with an angelic melody in the next, is beyond me, but when it sounds this good, I’m happy to just leave him to it. [More at: Album Review, Featured Band, 2017 Playlist, 2017 Album Leaderboard]
6. Lost Ground – ‘Lumiere’
Lost Ground throw the song writing rulebook out the window, opting for a free roaming journey through sequential ideas, rather than packaging them up into the conventional categories of verses and choruses. Rarely does anything repeat, so if you want to hear a particular part again, you’ll need to play the whole thing back, which makes this satisfyingly moreish and addictive, immersing you deeper into the record. [More at: EP Review, Ones to Watch, 2017 EP Leaderboard]
7. blanket – ‘Acacia’
Hugely atmospheric, beautifully multi-layered landscape, where intricate guitars and keys weave an irresistible tapestry over lightly played, slow-tempo drums. Uplifting, reflective, inspiring: these would no doubt be the most common adjectives found in the notebooks of anyone studying this piece in a classroom environment and these sentiments continue through the entirety of the record. [More at: EP Review, 2017 EP Leaderboard]
8. SikTh – ‘No Wishbones’
‘No Wishbone’ is our first recorded exhibit of new vocalist Joe Rosser and, like Justin Hill before him, his interactions with co-vocalist Mikee Goodman are cleverly interwoven and executed brilliantly. The classic SikTh ingredients are all here: wonderfully intricate guitar riffs, complex, driving drum rhythms and a huge dose of groove. It’s everything SikTh became known for, with a fresh new sheen and renewed enthusiasm. [More at: Featured Band, Interview]
9. Icarus the Owl – ‘A Thousand Miles’
If you’re unfamiliar with Icarus the Owl, their most recent video – a cover of Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’ – might not be the best introduction to their song-writing style, but it does give you a good insight into this technically accomplished, yet fun and quirky band. “We would always play that piano intro on the guitar during soundcheck at shows,” explains front-man and founding member Joey Rubenstein. “It would usually get a laugh or two, but we legitimately like the original song and our style of playing guitar is very percussive like a piano, so it seemed like a cool way to redo a song.” [More at: Interview, Album Review]
10. Eternity Forever – ‘Fantasy’
Travis’ sustained falsetto makes his voice almost unrecognisable from his past as a post-hardcore front man, but such is the versatility of his voice, it works almost anywhere. The quick vocal runs interlock with Ewing’s jangling, intricate guitar noodling to create an irresistible rhythm that makes it almost impossible to hold still. [More at: Featured Band, Guitar Cover]
11. Grumble Bee – ‘Red’
Not content with just writing and performing each instrument himself, Bennett has gone further with ‘Red’ than ever before, recording and producing everything himself in his own Lapwing Studio. The result is another huge anthem, complete with the signature Grumble Bee elements of high energy, soulful vocals and infectious guitars. [More at: Featured Band, EP Review]
12. Holding Absence– ‘Permanent’
I’ve got the same feeling in my bones about Holding Absence that I had when I first fell in love with Crooks almost five years ago, and there are a lot of parallels between the two on ‘Permanent’. From the dynamic drums and atmospheric guitars to the gut-wrenchingly emotional vocals – there’s something beautifully addictive about their ultra-melodic, yet looming and intense post-hardcore concoction. [More at: Featured Band, Ones to Watch, January Playlist]
13. September Stories – ‘Mess’
Definite Hotel Books and Being as an Ocean vibes from this band, but far from being copycats, they have a sound all their own. This is a great track and I’m excited to hear more.
14. Vasudeva – ‘Turnstile’
Sometimes I like my instrumental music to be ambient and reflective and at other times I prefer it uplifting and upbeat. Some albums may carry a few tracks of each, but I’ve rarely heard both sides of the spectrum covered in the same song. Vasudeva’s latest track ‘Turnstile’ is filled with gorgeous chords and melodies as well as tapped guitars and off-beat hi-hat rhythms, making it as dancy and infectious as it is beautifully melodic. [More at: Featured Band]
15. Parting Gift – ‘Be Still’
As ‘Be Still’ makes its way through dynamic drums and heavy-yet-melodic guitar patterns, it brings to mind the likes of Crooks and Holding Absence, and with a frontman who’s able to deliver the kind of emotionally captivating performance that’s equal to either of the aforementioned bands, they’re in very good company indeed. [More at: Featured Band]
Thanks for reading. If you think I’ve missed something this month that you’ve been loving, leave me a comment and tell me what to listen to!