Britain’s been enjoying a rather wonderful heat wave this past week or so – it’s been hotter at the start of October than it usually is during the summer here. Which, seeing as we’ve barely had a summer here, is something I’m not complaining about. Although it would’ve been nice if it were like this during festival season. Anyway, there are plenty of bands who have been soundtracking this off-season – and no doubt very temporary – summer for me.
A New Zealand native who’s been based in London for the last five or so years, Connan Mockasin makes dreamy, psychedelic odd-pop songs that are both soothing and sumptuous and which draw the listener into his colourful, fantastical, magical-realist world. Vulnerable and tender but also playful and joyous, Mockasin presents a unique and idiosyncratic viewpoint of the world around him that’s as equally suited for warm days and cold nights.
Although often considered a part of the recent spate of modern British folk bands, South London five-piece Billy Vincent are just as much of a rock band. Combining the anthemic directness of, say, Bruce Springsteen or The Clash with the gentle lilting intimacy of The Waterboys or Mumford & Sons, their songs are impassioned and fierce, catchy and delicate. It’s early days for them, but they could go far – they certainly have the talent to do so.
The Horrible Crowes
A collaboration between Brian Fallon – frontman of The Gaslight Anthem – and the band’s English guitar tech/roadie Ian Perkins, The Horrible Crowes have, in ‘Elsie’, have created one of the finest albums of the year. Melancholy and brooding, it’s a record that confronts that sadder things in life head on, while at the same time asking the big metaphysical questions that haunt us all but for which there are no concrete answers. This album doesn’t provide them, but it certainly offers a beautiful way of thinking about them.
A six-piece from Hereford, Talons make exciting instrumental music that bridges the gap between math- and post-rock. Tumbling drums, atmospherics and frenetic guitar-lines combine to create incredibly intense walls of sound that, as soon as you think you have them pegged, dramatically shift direction and surprise you all over again. As equally engaging on record as they are live, they could easily soundtrack the epic final battle of the apocalypse. If there ever is one…
The Heat Tape
Not a British band, but one I’ve been listening to a lot recently, The Heat Tape live in a trailer park rural Illinois and create scratchy, fuzzy, lo-fi rock’n’roll songs that are simultaneously poignant and amusing. Oh Camilla, for example, is a jaunty, euphoric, upbeat love song that pontificates on unreciprocated, unrequited love and the constraints of growing up and living in small-town America. The twist? It’s a song about a chicken that lived in a neighbouring space on the park. Pure brilliance.
Mischa Pearlman is a music journalist living in London, who writes for a bunch of music magazines such as The Fly, Kerrang!, Clash, Record Collector and Alternative Press. He does this purely for the love and less frequently for the money, and is always hoping to fall in love with his next favourite band so he can tell you about it.