Welcome to the first week in May and a brand new instalment of Keeping It Real. This week we have music from all locations and in all genres. Kick it off with Britpop The Buffalo Skinners before moving to garage rock band Sweet Tooth and ending off with afrobeat Damola Davis. What do they all have in common? They’re keeping it real!
THE BUFFALO SKINNERS – ‘WASHING MY HANDS’
If you don’t know who The Buffalo Skinners are, then it is time to educate yourself. Hailing from Sheffield this indie-folk meets blues-rock band has performed at some of the most renowned music festivals in the UK. After three full-length albums, several singles and numerous performances across the globe, James Nicholls (violin and vocals), Phil Nixon (guitar and vocals), Peter Seccombe (guitar and vocals), Miles Stapleton (drums) and Robbie Thompson (bass and vocals) make a splash with their new track ‘Washing Your Hands’. A pleasant meeting of Americana and indie-folk, ‘Washing My Hands’ is an ode to becoming content with unwanted change.
“When you’re stuck and you can’t see any way out. The lightbulb flashes above your head. You can just wave goodbye, shut the door or wash your hands.” – Peter Seccombe on ‘Washing My Hands’
While the track seems to be written with the coronavirus in mind, this is not the case. However, keeping up with global issues The Buffalo Skinners created a video on how to stay safe during this tricky time. Take care, stay safe and wash your hands!
MIKE GALE – ‘SUNSHINE FOR THE MOUNTAIN GOD’
Mike Gale, a well-known lo-fi songwriter has something exciting up his sleeve – a new album! Sunshine for the Mountain God is a fifteen-minute trip on high-energy, upbeat, distortion-filled fuzzy pop. Full of catchy melodies and captivating lyrics, the album was self-produced in Gale’s bedroom studio. The album was not set for release but Gale decided to spend his time in lockdown on something creative; hence, Sunshine for the Mountain God was born.
“I decided to write a new album when the lockdown started. I thought it would help keep me busy and I wanted to make something positive from the situation. I chose to make every song under two minutes long as an experiment, just to see how it would work out really.” – Mike Gale on Sunshine For The Mountain God
EMERALD DREAM – ‘ACHERON GALAXY’
Combining a love for hard rock and heavy metal, Emerald Dream is an edgy five-piece from Athens, Greece. Reminiscent of bands like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Opeth, Emerald Dream is sharing their unique heavy rock sound with the globe. Despite forming in 2016, Acheron Galaxy is their debut EP. This can be attributed to lineup changes, finding a new style or many other things, but the fact is that we’re glad they released something this amazing. Panos’ heavy vocals combine well with Christina’s classic piano and the other instrumentation. Heart-melting and moving, Emerald Dream has hit it out of the park with this one!
“As our mind is infiltrated by the purposes of ‘the machine’, Acheron Galaxy is the place and time where our imagination stands and breathes. We’re the men of the future!” – Emerald Dream on Acheron Galaxy
DAMOLA DAVIS – ‘VACATIONSHIP’
Contemporary culture is a puzzle filled with many different pieces. One element of pop culture that stands front and centre is the “casual relationship”. It’s there and we all know it is, but ‘Vacationship’ paints the picture of single females around the world who simply want to have fun while being treated like the queens they are. Using an afro-beat, Nigerian Damola Davis makes a statement about the “free and easy” lifestyle. Think Ed Sheeran but with a lot more confidence and style, and you’ll have Damalo Davis.
“Vacationship tells a story of the popular culture of private trips with no strings attached” – Damola Davis on ‘Vacationship’
FREMMAND – ‘LEGENDARY LOVER’
Hailing from the Faroe Islands, the forgotten land between Iceland and Scotland, Fremmand is a Nordic indie-rock foursome playing moving music. Freemand means ‘stranger’ in Faroese which is apt considering many of the tracks deal with alienation, isolation and loneliness. The group’s debut album was released in 2018 and has strong similarities to the synth-rock bands of the 1980s. Since the debut album, Fremmand has released five singles along with some several collaborations. ‘Legendary Lover’ incorporates the skills of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’ guitarist Peter Hayes as a songwriter and performer.
Highly reminiscent of Depeche Mode and New Order, ‘Legendary Lover’ has an eeriness about it captivating your senses and plucking at your heartstrings. Frontwoman Jana Hjalgrimsdóttir shows her ability to shine as a vocalist without outshining the rough male vocals by Peter Hayes. It won’t be long until Jana Hjalgrimsdóttir is in the league of iconic Annie Lennox and Fremmand’s music will be on everyone’s playlists.
” ‘Legendary Lover’ is about all the things you’re ignorant about and working through one’s own misguided attempts of a fix.” – Peter Hayes (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) on ‘Legendary Lover’
THE ARTHURS – ‘VOID’
Another Nordic indie-rock band we need to introduce is The Arthurs! Founded in The Netherlands and formed by the Dutch singer-songwriter Robin den Drijver, The Arthurs have an energetic, raw and melodic sound. Well received after their debut album in 2018, in Europe and beyond, drummer Jetske Block, lead guitarist Dylano Hahury, bassist Jelle de Wit and dynamic lead vocalist den Drijver are forging forth in 2020 releasing music regularly.
‘Red Letter Days’ – a collaboration with Dutch actress Kiki van Deursen was released in February (and actually one of our Track of the Days), but ‘Void’ is the most recent offering. ‘Void’ is a toe-tapping track with smooth lyrics, a steady bass and some powerful guitar riffs. While the melody is bewitching, den Drijver’s vocals ensnare the senses with their beguiling and ethereal quality. You’ll be humming this song for a while after it ends.
“Void is about loss, emptiness and alienation.” – The Arthurs on ‘Void’
SWEET TOOTH – ‘WIND ME UP’
Do you have a ‘sweet tooth’? Even if you don’t you’ll be happy for the sweety goodness of San Diego’s pop-rock trio Sweet Tooth. Formed by three talented young guys, guitarist and vocalist Jacob Schrimpf, drummer Kevin Bingham (who can sing as well), and bassist Trevor Barber (who can also sing), Sweet Tooth is a mash-up of Foo Fighters, Cage The Elephant and Dodgy. Their latest single is ‘Wind Me Up’.
‘Wind Me Up’ is the epitome of early 2000’s pop-rock bands. Schrimpf’s strong baritone is enhanced and supported by Barber and Bingham. Slightly “sweeter” than the previous singles, ‘Wind Me Up’ is a smooth track with strong guitar riffs and steady drumming. The punch of Foo Fighters with ear-friendly ease of Dodgy, it’s a track that will define pop-rock for the 2020s.
“It’s about a girl, lads, c’mon” – Sweet Tooth on ‘Wind Me Up’
ZYKR – ‘FANTASTIC, I’M PLASTIC’
A one-man music project, ZYkR is an electronic group based out of New Delhi and Brooklyn. Combining rock, folk, shoegaze and electronic music, Aseem Suri is a man with a vision of new music. Joined by a rotating line-up when performing, ZYkR is an ambient experimentation both onstage and off. The first single from the debut album (to be released later in 2020), ‘Fantastic, I’m Plastic’ draws on triggers, samplers, loops and steady vocals to make an impact.
‘Fantastic, I’m Plastic’ is the first original track from ZYkR after their cover of Nirvana’s classic ‘Lithium’. The track examines corporate culture and the pressure to fit in amidst the masses. It points out the struggles of being an outsider who tries to become a ‘plastic’ top person. Simple with a strong message, this track blasts your ears with some home truths.
” ‘Fantastic, I’m Plastic’ is about being a misfit: The anxiety induced from feeling like there’s something wrong with you for not being able to conform and the changes you allow in your person in order to belong. – ZYKR on ‘Fantastic, I’m Plastic’
1500 PIECES – ‘FLY’
Gracing our feature section for the second time in two days is the indie-rock trio 1500 Pieces. Yesterday, 1500 Pieces hit The Other Side Reviews’ Track of the Day with ‘Maybe’; today, it’s all about ‘Fly’. Why did we choose them? They’re keeping it real of course!
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, vocalist Gordon Vaughn, guitarist Zan Patterson and bassist Andre Robinson are a mish-mash of Arctic Monkeys and Tame Impala. ‘Fly’ is a song about self-reflection when losing an important person in one’s life. Vaughn’s gruff vocals are enhanced by the cleverly produced instrumentation making ‘Fly’ and 1500 Pieces truly addictive!
” ‘Fly’ is about risking everything on a dream that may never come true. Taking life’s biggest risks for the benefit of someone else – the ultimate acts of love and trust.” – 1500 Pieces on ‘Fly’
THE HARBOURS – ‘ONE IN A MILLION’
Holding fast to the iconic UK indie bands, The Harbours is a five-piece indie-rock band from the East Coast of England. Blending experiences and personal influences, Adam Benjamin (vocals), Alex Grimmer (guitar), Ryan Smithurst (guitar), Dean Wilson (bass) and Lee Potter (drums) create a sound similar to The Cure and The Psychedelic Furs. The Harbours released their debut album in 2019 and ‘One In A Million’ is one of the more popular tracks.
Off This Fine Day, ‘One In A Million’ offers a genuine authenticity and compelling honesty all wrapped up in a three-minute track. Highly reminiscent of The Cure, The Harbours finds a balance between synthetic and organic production. A calming track blending the lyrics and melodies expertly was my introduction to The Harbours. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for the future.