Manchester’s Hello Cosmos invite listeners to escape reality on ‘Dream Harder’, the utterly thrilling title track from their upcoming debut album. It would often be easy, within the world of music marketing, to dismiss a single that comes with the promise of “ruminations on the possibilities of virtual reality”. Such is the cynical nature of modern rock, such gazing into the future is often loaded with ‘modern life is rubbish’ sensibilities and dystopian cliché. Not with Hello Cosmos; not at all.
Enticing glitchy beats and pulsating synths buzz around this power-popper of a track. Vocalist Ben Robinson takes the role of a preacher without condescending, delivering sloganeering lyrics like “if culture is your friend, you have no enemies” like he’s giving you a lecture on new dimensions. Around this undisputed innovation is a clear influence from the band’s Manc post-punk forebears such as The Fall – the sound is definitely a product of its city, while deftly sidestepping every single one of the stereotypes associated with a ‘Mancunian sound’.
All in all, the stream-of-consciousness vocals and alluringly imaginative sonics are enough to take you on a deliriously stimulating future-psych trip; here comes the future – and best of all, an album of this future-perfect joy.
VELVET SHAKES – World
There must be something seriously good in the Mancunian water, because meanwhile in the very same city…
Is it disco? Is it indie? Is it house? It’s hard to fully describe the latest offering from four-piece VELVET SHAKES with any of these familiar descriptives, but “absolutely massive tune” should do the trick in their stead.
From a combination of modernised disco beats and off-kilter synths, ‘World’ grows and grows as it makes the most of its 4:15 runtime with a delightfully phased (yet unfazed) vocal to add to the wavy vibes. Summery house chords and some brilliant EDM beat build-ups will keep the avid clubbers as happy as the indie faithful with this mega track. All manner of retro flourishes shimmer around a sound that manages to stay totally unique and up-to-the-minute modern. If this is the sound that will fill dancefloors post-Covid, then let’s get that vaccine ready and our dancing shoes on!
From Birmingham upstarts Overpass, we have a tune that has ‘2000s indie throwback’ written over it. The young quartet are not reinventing the wheel by any means, wearing their influences on their collective sleeve with a combination of jangly guitars and garage band drums. This tried-and-tested setup is successful enough to render the genre-typical lyrics charming rather than clichéd.
Some of the underlying guitar lines around the chorus add an enjoyable depth to the sound and the production hits the right balance; polished, but showing a little bit of a rough edge. Ultimately, this is a familiar but pleasant listen that will appeal to anyone into the decade-before-last’s garage rock revival.
Maybe we’re finally far enough removed from the era of ubiquitous Oasis to fully appreciate those bands influenced by the likes of clan Gallagher. The Zinvandels surely hope so, plying their trade in that style of throwback guitar pop that was so fashionable in the 1990s.
That comparison isn’t to take anything away from the ingenuity of the Swansea-based band, however. The structure of ‘This Is Your Life’ is a key selling point, progressing through different rhythms and vibes in a manner indebted to the creatively flourishing guitar bands of the late 60s more so than their Britpop imitators. There is certainly a real depth to this band’s sound, and one that may not be expected within the genre at this point.
With its twinkling harmonies and retro-rock stomp, Zinvandels have delivered a record that is vintage to a T and replete with enough imagination to keep listeners hooked throughout.
First-time listeners of the debut single by MAZED would be forgiven for thinking that they were hearing the work of a bona fide popstar, in tandem with a team of top producers. It seems almost unfathomable that such a masterful production is the work of a DIY bedroom pop artist – but that’s exactly what ‘This Is Your Faith’ is.
With its booming bassline and atmospheric pop sheen, the artist’s self-described film score influences are evident alongside a brilliant pop sensibility. The vocal is stunning, the electronic elements mix up the formula delightfully and the defiant attitude shines through the lyrics and the mood of the instrumental. It is no exaggeration that as a cinematic pop anthem, ‘This Is Your Faith’ has absolutely everything going for it.