It’s the first couple of days of the final week of July in the year 2020 and it’s raining. I always thought rain was something associated with the colder seasons, and since I live in the Northern Hemisphere it shouldn’t be in July. Is it climate change? Is it me just being silly? I don’t know, but it is raining. To avoid the rainy Monday blues, we’ve gathered some music from various artists. Ranging from the folk-rock Lovely Assistant to indie-rock sensation Valice. May I introduce some bands that are totally Keeping It Real!
LOVELY ASSISTANT – ‘LAST OF THE AIRCRAFT ARE LEAVING’
Hailing from Northern England, Newcastle to be exact, we have the exciting new foursome Lovely Assistant. While a newbie on the scene, these lads and a lady are breaking all boundaries with their music. Veering away from that “traditional” rock band sound, multi-instrumentalists Kieran Rafferty, David Turnball, Matt Hardy and Annie Griffiths are set for stardom. On July 24th, Lovely Assistant released their debut single ‘Last of the Aircraft are Leaving’ preempting their upcoming album in October 2020.
Reminiscent of Elvis Costello and Arthur Russell, Lovely Assistant find that comforting balance between poignant and peaceful. Complementing Rafferty, Turnbull and Griffiths vocals, the piano-led single shows maturity in songwriting and effortless harmonies. I’m really pleased I came across Lovely Assistant and can’t wait to hear their debut album.
“It was about someone who’d been left holding the can when their partner disappeared and they’re turning it over in their head.” – Lovely Assistant on ‘All The Aircrafts Are Leaving’
THE VELVICKS – ‘RUN’
If you were to fuse Foo Fighters with Queens of the Stone Age and a smattering of Radiohead, then you will have something along the lines of The Velvicks. Grunge meeting alt-rock is always an enthralling experience, but The Velvicks truly up the ante. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, this rocking quartet is pumping out some hard-core melodies, throaty vocals and plenty of attitude. The latest release from The Velvicks is their debut EP Run.
If you have 20 minutes to listen to five songs, then I suggest you turn your ears to Run. Captivating, powerful and very dynamic, The Velvicks can hypnotise without you realising what’s happening. Effortless instrumentation is combined seamlessly with profound lyrics. I think my favourite track would be ‘Animal Instinct’ – a great way to end the EP with some Smashing Pumpkins tendencies. The maturity shown in Run makes it difficult to believe that The Velvicks are only three years old. If this is their debut EP, I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us!
“This song [‘Run’] is a tribute to the wild ones, the fearless souls and inspiring devils that one encounters throughout life’s hurdles and jams. Whose influence will always bring vivid memories for good or for bad.” – The Velvicks on ‘Run’
JASON KEISLING – ‘IN FINITE’
Hailing from the capital city of the USA, Jason Keisling is a multi-instrumentalist songwriter. Inspired dramatically by artists like Radiohead, Porcupine Tree and Massive Attack, Keisling is on a mission to convert people to instrumental tracks. Lyrics are important, but listening to Keisling I have to wonder if they’re really necessary. His debut two-track EP is In Finite.
I’ll admit, I am not the biggest fan of instrumentals but there is a certain charm to In Finite. A composer, as well as a songwriter, Keisling demonstrates a talent to give each instrument its moment to shine while having them work in unison to produce chilling tracks. I would say my favourite track is ‘And The Rest Is Rust And Stardust’ with its careful arrangement of hard rock guitar riffs amidst soft, heartbreaking piano. If I had to describe In Finite in a single word it would probably be ‘masterpiece’.
“The overall concept is time and mortality. Themes such as death, religion, maturing, nostalgia and love are present in my songwriting even if though the songs don’t contain lyrics.” – Jason Keisling on In Finite
JUST A JESTER – ‘EXCEPTIONAL’
I have a confession to make: I had no idea who Tim Whitaker was before placing him on this feature. I’m not sure many people know who he is, but he has some accomplishments to his name that make this solo artist noteworthy. He hosted some of the earlier open mic shows in London, namely ‘Acoustic Revolution’. He wrote songs for Ty-Lor (a duo with his brother) and featured on BBC 1’s programme What’s That Noise. He’s played Glastonbury several times, received airtime on radio stations across the globe, and he’s been at this for over a decade. Still not ringing bells? Even if there’s not a single ring you’ll be glad you came across him here.
Operating as a one-man band under the moniker Just A Jester, Whitaker has released several singles and an EP since 2017. His latest single ‘Exceptional’ certainly indicates his David Bowie and Frank Zappa influences while being far quite unique. Soothing and heartwarming, Whitaker’s vocals blend effortlessly with a steady instrumentation. I tend to place music into categories, but I have to admit that Jest A Jester is in a class of his own with ‘Exceptional’
“‘Exceptional’ is, quite simply, a ‘lover’s haunt’. It is an account of how I first became mesmerized by my current girlfriend. I kept the production as simple as possible to not distract from the story I was telling. Bar the percussion and drums, the recording is pretty close to how I perform it live although I’d use an acoustic guitar.” – Just A Jester on ‘Exceptional’
VALICE – ‘SUGARJULIE’
All the way from Austin, Texas, Valice is a thrilling quintet sauntering into the wonderful world of online streaming. Okay, I probably need to fact check that, but their Spotify seems to only feature work from 2020. The latest from this band is their eleven-track debut album Sugarjulie.
While the album is inspired by the traditional rock sound of the 70s, Valice have a distinctive ability to combine several styles in a three-minute song. Ricci Valice’s effortless vocals are readily complemented by guitar, bass, keys, drums and even a piano. Overall, Sugarjulie seems a vulnerable album with melodies interpreting inner thoughts and emotions in a raw, honest way. The opening track ‘Rose Gold’ is everything you’d expect from an angsty 21st century rock band, but the tone slowly progresses taking you from highs to immense lows. What I truly enjoy about Sugarjulie is the mature incorporation of different instruments and styles. For instance, ‘Julie Pt. II’ has some bluegrass undertones but ‘Complicate You’ is alt-rock ala Foo Fighters.
So, what do I really think of Sugarjulie and Valice. In a word: awesome! I can’t wait to see these gents take on the likes of Foo Fighters and All American Rejects. It will happen and I’ll be in the front row!
“‘Julie Pt. II’ subverts all expectations as a cacophonous, devil-may-care electronic dance frenzy with a funk bassline guaranteed to get you moving. Eclectic and strange, the madness evolves out from a simple piano refrain with a wild variety of elements weaving through each other.” – Valice on ‘Julie Pt. II’
CLUB PARADISE – ‘GROWING UP’
If Razorlight and Dirty Pretty Things had a lovechild, but it was raised by Catfish and The Bottlemen, then Club Paradise would be that child. Incorporating various music styles, yet remaining true to the Newcastle indie-rock, Club Paradise is a punchy, powerful and addictive quartet. Despite being only a couple of years old, the lads have caught the eye of reputable publications, received coverage from BBC Introducing, and supported the likes of Only The poets, Kashmere and Vistas. The latest addition to their repertoire is ‘Growing Up’.
Filled with energy, passion and 21st-century attitude, Club Paradise’s ‘Growing Up’ is an unforgettable experience from start to end. Lyrically, it is nostalgic, sentimental and introspective with Ryan Young’s vocals adding a degree of vulnerability. Melodically, there is effortless harmony with each band member holding his own yet complementing the others. Based on their creativity and maturity, it is difficult to believe Club Paradise has only been around for two years. One thing I have to say about the indie music scene in the UK is that they have a ton of talent with Club Paradise being at the front of the line.
“‘Growing Up’ isn’t just about physically getting older, but about how times have changed. It’s about how disposable everything has become whether that’s music or memories. It’s rare we hold and cherish these things physically anymore.” – Ryan Young, vocalist for Club Paradise, on ‘Growing Up’