On The Stereo: February 2021
This month, we enjoyed a diverse collection of new music from Khazali, Sananda Maitreya, Surya, Peggy Seeger, Francis and more
THE MADHOUSE BY SANANDA MAITREYA
With signature soulful vocals and spidery guitars, The MadHouse is a welcome reminder of Sananda Maitreya’s [aka Terence Trent D’Arby] genre-straddling songwriting talents. Managing to sound both classic and contemporary, we can’t wait for the new album due in March.
SMALL BY BELLE TOWER
Small by Belle Tower is uncluttered and restrained. Expecting the guitars to explode throughout, it’s impressive that it remains calm – no doubt reflecting the control needed to confront the toxicity that inspired the song’s creation.
NEVERMIND BY TANZOS
Emitting the same insouciant charisma as peak Michael Hutchence, Austrian indie-rocker Tanzos is back with new single Nevermind. Coming in at under three minutes, there’s still plenty of time for this nimble track to slither and glide.
OUIJA BOY BY STRETCH PANIC
With a genre described as ‘ghoul-pop’ it’s perhaps no surprise that Stretch Panic’s new single Ouija Boy concerns itself with a love affair between a living boy and a ghost. The Austin group’s kitsch sound is the perfect accompaniment to this spookily sweet tale.
POSTCARDS BY FRANCIS
London-based songwriter Francis has teamed up with Jolé on his first single, Postcards. Managing to evoke slow adventures where the purpose is to have no purpose, this gentle alt-folk number will only increase those feelings of wanderlust.
PORTALS BY KATY KIRBY
A transcendent poem turned alluring lullaby, Katy Kirby’s new single Portals will only heighten anticipation for her upcoming debut album. A lyrical force, there’s still plenty of space given over to the melodic soundscape.
A RISING SUN BY MINT JULEP
A Rising Sun is the latest single from wife and husband duo Hollie and Keith Kenniff (Mint Julep). Eschewing traditional song structures in favour of a sonic deep dive, the resulting sound is both mercurial and cathartic.
U ME WE BY SURYA
With lyrics heavily inspired by his upbringing in Chennai and turbulent relocation to London, Surya’s U ME WE transcends its pop stylings to become an empowering tale of perseverance, ably assisted by the track’s stark production.
ALWAYS HAPPY BY GRANDMAS HOUSE
Fuelled by Yasmin Berndt’s firebrand vocals, Always Happy by Grandmas House chugs along like The Stooges at their best. Oozing with wit and attitude, there’s much scuzzy charm here.
SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE BY VC PINES
Returning with his latest adventure in satiny neo-soul, Smoke Without Fire finds VC Pines tackling the insidious nature of rumours. Appropriately, his voice swirls and swoops, helping the song breach the tiniest of cracks.
NYC TO CDG BY KHAZALI
There’s a wide-eyed vibe to Khazali’s NYC to CDG which is fitting for this tale of someone escaping their small town upbringing for the big city. The beat propels the adventurer forward, bringing the song to life at the same time.
A FLOWER BLOSSOMED BY BEAMS
Toronto’s Beams show what is possible when folk music is lifted up into the stratosphere. With joyous harmonies and chiming guitars, A Flower Blossomed is both spacious and intimate.
LITTLE LADY BY TOBY & PIP
An autobiographical ode to daughter Josie, Little Lady by husband and wife folk duo Toby & Pip is as heartfelt as you would expect. Snapshots of early parenthood bring the song life, and the couple’s moving harmonies complete this idyllic familial picture.
THE FIRST TIME BY RAGSY
If you’re a fan of classic songwriting with a rocky edge then the new single from Ragsy’s definitely for you. The First Time races along while looking back at the strength of feelings which accompany a blossoming relationship.
DOWN DAYS BY CHARLOTTE JANE
Down Days is a stunning pop anthem with a prescient theme. Helped by uplifting horn stabs, Charlotte Jane is thoroughly convincing in her assertion that the dark times won’t last forever, better days are ahead.
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN BY PEGGY SEEGER
One we’ve been meaning to share for a while, The Invisible Woman pits Peggy Seeger’s considerable talents against the way society marginalises older generations. Co-written with son Neill MacColl, and with a French café feel, it’s impossible to deny the strength of this song.
BEND BY CURTIS WALSH AND ANNA PANCALDI
A powerful pop ballad, rather than power ballad, Bend by Curtis Walsh and Anna Pancaldi was written over a video chat. A feeling of deep connection oozes out from the track, proof that you don’t have to be in the same room to find that songwriting chemistry.
TRY BY MANOLO REDONDO
Try by Manolo Redondo is a burnished folk-pop vignette which acts like a setting sun on troubles and bitterness. The first of a collection of songs inspired by road trips from Paris to Mexico and the Mojave Desert and back, this vast landscape seeps into the song.
Words: Duncan Haskell