The Islas – The Absence Of You

Artist: The Islas

Song: The Absence Of You

Genres: #indierock #alternativerock

Location: Norwich, UK

Release date: July, 2021.

Comment: The press release for The Absence Of You mentions that the song is The Killers-esque, and quite often, when I see something like that, I immediately assume it’s hyperbole. In this case, however, I do see the similarities to some of the work from that famous band from Las Vegas, particularly during the infectious chorus and guitar-led bridge. That’s not to say that this four-piece band from Norwich sounds exactly the same though, because they don’t. The Islas know what they’re doing and we should pay attention.

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Raffael Seyfried – Passage

Artist: Raffael Seyfried

Song: Passage

Genres: #Instrumental, #Neoclassical, #Piano

Location: Germany

Release date: March, 2021.

Influences: Otto Totland, Nils Frahm

Comment: Relaxing piano-based piece from German composer Raffael Seyfried. It got a gorgeous texture that makes the whole track even more enjoyable.

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Will Naisbitt – Do It Again

Birmingham-native, London-based singer-songwriter Will Naisbitt is just 19 but already knows a thing or two about writing a hook. After cutting his teeth as a busker since he was even younger, Will released his debut single in 2019 and he hasn’t stopped releasing new songs at a steady pace. He’s been gaining notoriety and support from bloggers and radio stations alike, including BBC Introducing. I hadn’t heard of him until Do It Again dropped back in April, but that song alone is enough to make you think he’s got a promising future. If you take the time to check a few other tracks as well, you’ll be certain of that. Ed Sheeran got some competition.

Do It Again starts with some really infectious guitars and inviting rhythms. Will Naisbitt‘s vocals are really perfect for #indiepop music and that’s another reason why this track works so well. It is also pretty upbeat, even though it explores the difficult dynamics of lovers who enter a long-distance relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if Do It Again became a summer hit but, at the very least, it should expose Will to a wider audience. This is just the start.

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BANNERS – Serenade

BANNERS is definitely one of the best indie rock acts of the last decade and if this is the first time you hear about him, you have been missing out. It is the stage name of Michael Joseph Nelson, who grew up singing in the Liverpool Cathedral choir, which included performances throughout Europe. In 2015, he decided to move to Toronto, Canada, to start his solo career there. After releasing three singles that year (the first one under the moniker Raines), he dropped his debut EP in January 2016 to moderate success and another one a year later. His first full-length album was released in 2019 followed by another EP consisting mostly of acoustic tracks last year, and he has already two brand new singles in 2021, with Serenade being the latest one. Despite how prolific he’s been so far, he’s been able to maintain the quality of his work: every single one of his releases is at least well worth your time. By all means check them out if you are not familiar with them.

As its name indicates, Serenade is a romantic song dedicated to a loved one, but it is also much more upbeat than that description would lead you to believe. BANNERS‘ vocal skills are in full display here, but the melody is so infectious that I think we could still enjoy the track if it he had a terrible voice. This indie song is as good as it gets. As usual, BANNERS didn’t disappoint. Enjoy!

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Edward Cross – MiddleHill

When I listened to MiddleHill for the first time, it reminded me of the work of Ólafur Arnalds, so seeing him listed as one of the influences of British multi-instrumentalist and composer Edward Cross wasn’t a surprise. What starts as a piano piece recorded on an old, creaky instrument, quickly ends up immersed in a full-blown soundscape that includes strings, electric guitars and woodwind. This results in a mesmerizing neoclassical song that evokes nostalgia, hope and a little bit of sadness. Written and recorded during the first lockdown, MiddleHill will keep us company for years to come.

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David Baron – The Han

Korea is a country with a long history of hardships: from Japanese occupation to many wars and losing family members when the country got divided, among other things. Korean people have a word, Han, that has no direct translation to English and is, actually, difficult to explain. It comes from the Chinese Character 恨 (Han) which means resentment, hatred, or regret; but its meaning is much more complex in Korean. It is associated with families that were separated when Korea split and linked to the concept of ‘the beauty of sorrow‘. It is a form of sadness or longing that’s become part of the Korean identity.

American composer David Baron‘s wife is Korean and they often talk about the concept of Han and how it applies to modern life. I mean, the whole world has been in a state of Han since early 2020. All of this inspired David to compose a beautiful waltz-based piano piece that “aims to capture the duality of sadness/hope”. He managed to achieve that astonishingly well because you can definitely perceive beauty and sadness impregnating The Han. It’s a hauntingly charming composition.

With regards to the artist, as an arranger, engineer and producer, David Baron has worked with artists such as Lenny Kravitz, The Lumineers, Shania Twain and Phoebe Bridgers. He’s also successfully scored films, tv shows and ads over the years. Baron releases his solo work on Woking-based UK label Here & Now Recordings, often collaborating with other artists on that label like Donna Lewis.

Enjoy The Han below.

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