The Cottons – Time to Leave

The Cotton’s new single ‘Time to Leave’ gives just a couple of seconds of restrained guitar before hitting you over the head with a stunning vocal. It’s almost all you need to know; the tone is incredible. Cotton’s lead voice is pure and flexible, far more confident than you’d expect from a band with less than a handful of singles to their name. But there’s more.

The lyrics of ‘Time to Leave’ are very fine. We’ve all been in a relationship when you can’t explain why things aren’t working, but can no longer avoid the knowledge that it’s not. ‘Time to Leave’ evokes that confusion and sadness without bathos. The chorus soars; there’s cohesiveness and height in the way they blend well-judged synthesizers, intelligent drumming, and wisely submerged guitars. ‘Time to Leave’ makes it clear that the Cottons will sound fantastic in huge venues, and that they have the chops to get there.

Lucky Number You – Disassociator

The past two years have created new ways of making music. Contributors to a track may write and record in entirely separate locations; collaborators may never have met in person. Lucky Number You is such an act, a studio project formed in 2020 with the goal of creating an LP during lockdown. 

It’s opposite to many of the groups that inspired this band’s sound. In the 80s a group often played gigs long before they had a set’s worth of their own material. Those hungry 80s bands might consider this project a ridiculous luxury, if they could even imagine it. Prior to now, when could you take two years to perfect an album before playing even one song to an audience? 

And ‘Disassociator’ does sound perfect. It’s got a killer title, calling up certain great indie-pop albums that predate the birth of these band members. It’s got tightly wound backing vocals, beachy guitars, and a mightily singable chorus. It takes polish to a new level. And it sounds just the tiniest bit bloodless.

It makes sense because lyrically ‘Disassociator’ explores the strange untethering of isolation and distrust. Who am I when everything has changed?

Betrayal, withdrawal, and suspicion are rational responses to the world we live in. So is a desire to work at a distance using forms that are controlled and knowable. It’s reasonable, yes. But only time will tell how the resulting music connects with a live audience, should the creators decide to take the songs on the road.

Wake the Sun – Deep Blue Sky 🇺🇸

Wake the Sun’s new single ‘Deep Blue Sky’ opens with a dreamy intro, broken by a brutally paced set of drums. It’s all big riffs and surgical solos, counterbalanced with a lead vocal that is truly pretty. 

Wake the Sun is a tight, classic four-piece hard rock lineup led by Dillon Mealy’s voice, dreamy and agonized in turn. There’s a persistent lightness to his voice that contrasts well with the massive rhythm section. His delivery is nuanced and deliberate, doing justice to the wistful lyrics. ‘Deep Blue Sky’ has a certain sense of cleanliness, a lack of dirt that separates it from much of the genre. Wake the Sun is an ambitious emerging modern rock band, and ‘Deep Blue Sky’ is a dreamy step in a new direction.

ALEXNDER – Movie Star Royalty

Solo artist ALEXNDER’s second single is a delicate piece of synth pop apprenticeship. Lyrically the song treads familiar but embittered ground. It’s a familiar story of a man’s resentment toward a woman for knowing she’s beautiful, anger that she’s left him one more time, and blame that she’s got out of town while he lies in bed, depressed.

Luckily the song is otherwise appealing: a simple structure of synths with tiny bubbles in the background and guitar rumbles on the chorus. ALEXNDER creator Alex Morgan  is startlingly young. He shows attention to craft and a sense of melody and, as a Liverpool International Music Festival fellow, will have ample support to grow over the coming year.

Granfalloon – The Pigeon ( Out 4/2)

‘The Pigeon’ is the latest single from Granfalloon, the musical project of Manchester artist Richard Lomax. It is a perfectly crafted artefact of the pandemic: a celebration of joy in the ordinary, a quirky ode to urban wildlife, a mashup of lo-fi instrumentation and 21st century collaboration. 

‘The Pigeon’ the third single from Positive Songs, a collection produced as part of the Positive Songs Project, a global effort led by Lomax that invites songwriters to create new music focused on positive aspects and feelings. So far it has resulted in over 300 tracks by artists from all over the world. ‘The Pigeon’ may be a kooky, unassuming bop, but it’s also part of a coherent attempt to share hope in the midst of a global crisis.

‘The Pigeon’ features a charming mix of psychedelic sounds; lo-fi beats, loopy Omnichord, beautifully analog drums, and a very funky bass. It feels like a street in springtime. Lomax’s voice is arresting, with an understated delivery that makes use of silence. The wry and affectionate lyrics invite the listener to look beyond the immediate; There is hope, on the outside. It’s a message we all need to hear. Be sure to check out the beautiful video by Dutch animator Jordie Roomer, out on February 4th.