It’s the final week of May and we’re heading off on a musical journey to enjoy it. From Ameriglow and Speak Easy Circus to Dan Lyons and Jonny Wheeler, our feature shows that there is nothing better than a melting pot of music. Welcome to our latest Keeping It Real!
JONNY WHEELER – ‘RAZOR SHELLS’
Hailing from Liverpool, this former Maths teacher Jonny Wheeler shows his musical side. Using the influences from 1980s pop, such as David Bowie and Elton John, along with James Blake, Hot Chip and Radiohead, Wheeler creates a soothing but insightful brand of music. Producing singles from his bedroom, he demonstrates a true DIY approach to things. Wheeler plans to release one track per month in 2020 and ‘Razor Shells’ is his second of the year.
‘Razor Shells’ is a tranquil and introspective tune featuring soft vocals over a rough background. Inspired by a wintry walk on Formby Beach, you can feel the fragility in the track. A unique element is Wheeler walking on real shells which are included in the single. I look forward to the contemporary tracks yet to be released.
“I used actual samples of shells crunching, stones falling and waves from actual Formby beach that I recorded on said winter walk or possibly return visits – I went there quite often before the lockdown. This song has been described, by a friend who shall remain unnamed, as Hot Chip meets James Blunt. I’m not sure how I feel about this.” – Jonny Wheeler on ‘Razor Shells’
CAII – ‘BACK IT UP’
Manchester-based and truly fantastic singer/songwriter CAii (pronounced K-Eye) recently released her new single ‘Back It Up’. Known for her boisterous, defiant and autobiographical music, CAii shares insight into personal identity, mental health issues and experiences as a young woman in 2020. Influenced by Fleetwood Mac and Nirvana, CAii has a unique blend of pop with some alternative and electro influences. As a female artist, her songs give her a chance to broach topics that need to be discussed, such as drawing boundaries in toxic relationships.
CAii’s latest single is ‘Back It Up’. Infusing electro-pop with alt-pop, she discusses the need to sculpt relationships and retain a sense of personal identity. A catchy but thoughtful tune, ‘Back It Up’ is an anthem for all young people facing problems with relationship boundaries.
“‘Back It Up’ is a track about reclaiming your power and breaking up with someone who doesn’t respect your need for independence. I wanted to release something empowering but with a fun, dancier beat ready for summer! My last couple of EPs have been heavy and about really personal things, so I fancied creating something a little bit lighter but still relatable.” – CAii on ‘Back It Up’
LUCY BURKE – ‘NIGHTTIME’
All the way from Sydney, Australia, Lucy Burke is an Aussie with some stories to tell. A leading singer/songwriter in the contemporary Australia music scene, Burke has a share of awards along with being a mainstay at several iconic Syndey venues. Inspired by acts like Adele and Norah Jones, her music is sensual, soothing and truly moving. Her latest release is ‘Nighttime’.
Both a haunting and uplifting track, ‘Nighttime’ builds an intimate connection between Burke and her audience. Reminiscent of Lana Del Ray with a more alternative edge, ‘Nighttime’ borders on the cusp between calm folk and alt-pop.
“This song is about being a new mother. It is a reflection on what it’s like to
wake up with a crying baby in the middle of the night and feel a sense of
loneliness and exhaustion. Despite this, there is comfort and solidarity in
knowing that many others are having the same experience.” – Lucy Burke on ‘Nighttime’
AMERIGLOW – ‘SLAVIC TONGUE, AMERICAN FILM’
Spearheaded by frontman Jacob Darden, Ameriglow is an indie-folk band with some fuzzy garage-rock undertones. Add multi-instrumentalist Arlie Huffman and drummer Zack Koontz to the mix and you have a force to be reckoned with. Hailing from North Carolina, Ameriglow’s sound is a representation of the musical landscape in which they find themselves. A heartfelt project, Ameriglow is one of Darden’s more creative, narrative and exciting catharsis.
The latest track from Ameriglow is their full-length album Slavic Tongue, American Film. In the record, you can hear the sentimentality of Darden’s vocals as he discusses elements of the human condition. A compilation of 20 moving tracks, Slavic Tongue, American Film is an existential trip from beginning to end.
“The double album totals 20 tracks, with 12 new ones, and many never-before-heard arrangements of previously recorded songs. These versions are not rough cuts, rather opposite sides of the same coin. The duality of digital and analogue, of caves and cathedrals, of electric and acoustic is presented here as a whole.” – Ameriglow on Slavic Tongues, American Film
ZACHARY SIMON – ‘BROKE’
A combination of indie-pop and alternative hip hop, Zachary Simon has a toe-tapping sound with some introspective lyrics. While he doesn’t like to take himself too seriously, his music does explore problems in the 21st century. For instance, his debut single ‘Broke’ was released during a global pandemic when everyone is short on cash. Using intricate storytelling and lyricism, Simon captures both the highs and lows in a young adult’s life. Fun fact: Simon chose the kazoo for ‘Broke’ because it was the cheapest instrument he could think of.
“For my debut single, I wanted to release a lighthearted track. I try not to take myself too seriously as a person as I believe people are more likely to relate to flaws than they will relate with perfection. In these difficult times, I’m sure that people are relating more to this song than they would like to. Hopefully, it reminds people that instead of being stressed all the time, they can remember that sometimes it’s better to laugh at your own conundrums.” – Zachary Simon on ‘Broke’
DAN LYONS – ‘MR MEANER’
More well-known for his drumming with bands lie Fat White Family and Phobophobes, Dan Lyons is already an accomplished musician. With ‘Mr Meaner’, Lyons is only furthering on his solo project which began in 2018 with ‘Big Moon’. Influenced greatly by the 90s Britpop scene, this talented indie-pop artist lies somewhere between Radiohead and Leonard Cohen. The unique element of Lyons is his ability to share a seemingly superficial narrative that is underlined by a more insightful concept. His latest narrative is the single ‘Mr Meaner’.
“Mr Meaner lives in SubSuburbia, he has a drinking problem and anger issues. He takes his repressed emotions, turns them into violence and hurts the ones he loves. The song switches perspective all the time, from the abuser to the abused and then to the hapless voyeur, trying to offer some kind of support, but failing. On the surface, the song is about an abusive, fictional marriage but I think everybody has had an experience with this kind of relationship.” – Dan Lyons on ‘Mr Meaner’
SPEAK EASY CIRCUS – ‘NEON IN DAYLIGHT’
Calling themselves just another indie band from Glasgow, Speak Easy Circus has been making waves since the release of their debut EP Brave Tango Charlie in 2019. Originally a solo project, the group became a quartet using a strong DIY approach to share their music. Injecting indie-rock with some jazz, punk and blues, Speak Easy Circus is a mish-mash of different sounds and it is awesome. Their latest single is ‘Neon In Daylight’ – a self-described summer banger for 2020. Of course, lockdown disallows people from enjoying the track at festivals, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a banger of a song!
“We wrote this song about standing out in the music scene and it was recorded and mixed entirely ourselves in our flat, partly through necessity and partly to maintain the DIY aspect of the band.” – Speak Easy Circus on ‘Neon In Daylight’
THE DIRTY PENNIES – ‘I’M YOUR MAN’
Hailing from Rochester, NY, The Dirty Pennies are a garage rock trio with injections of blues and psychedelic rock. The Dirty Pennies formed with frontman and guitarist Ryan Klem came together with drummer Lucas Howe to breathe new life into the Rochester music scene. After the addition of bassist Joe Mungo in 2015, the group took a new turn releasing tracks with a powerful and dynamic sound. This doesn’t mean to say The Dirty Pennies weren’t dynamic before 2015, just that they gained a great bassist in Mungo. The latest track for The Dirty Pennies is ‘I’m Your Man’.
‘I’m Your Man’ is the first of three singles to be released in 2020 and is a narrative of society’s turbulent political landscape. The angsty tune narrates the confusion felt by people examining issues of two-faced media, police violence and indifference.
“‘I’m Your Man’ shows struggle and perseverance in 2020. The blues influence the soul and feeling of the track, while the garage-rock guitars represent the fighting spirit-” – The Dirty Pennies on ‘I’m Your Man’