Up and coming new soul singer Hagar Levy hails from Israel but spent a considerable period of her childhood in Belgium. It is perhaps this unorthodox mix of cultures and climes that has shaped her sound.
I must admit this video initially slipped under our radar due to the volumes of emails we have been receiving but with a second track being released last month (which we will hopefully get to soon) we soon paid attention.
“Highway” is an upbeat number with one hell of a riff and a soaring chorus that catches you by surprise every time, the kind of tune that seemingly forces you to stomp your feet and clap your hands. Hagar has clearly been working on her craft and it shows. The video itself is a crazy collage of sweatshop rebellion and dreamscape surroundings that add spice to the track and highlight the talented musicianship on display.
Hagar Levy‘s debut self titled album is out now in Israel and will receive a European/US release date in 2016. Keep an eye on this one, we reckon she’s got a few surprises up her sleeve.
There are things you ought to know: a) Al Berkowitz is not a person but rather an art-rock ensemble. b) Al Berkowitz is also a person. c) Al Berkowitz the person is not part of Al Berkowitz the ensemble. d) However, Al Berkovitz is named after their former member and mentor Al Berkowitz… Glad we got that out of the way.
‘How Could We Get Ourselves So Lost‘ follows in the fine tradition of artists mixing folk influences with a modern approach offering a touch of Bon Iver, a little Elvis Perkins and even a bit of Jose Gonzalez to create a wonderful sonic landscape. Almost by magic the track works its way into your brain with each added instrument lending to the general mood. The video itself deserves a mention, it’s black and white imagery works wonders next to the song and every shot looks and feels essential.
‘A Long Hereafter / Nothing Beyond‘ is an album that is definitely worth checking out as leader Ignacio Simón and company have seemingly curated every detail down to it’s finest points. Having recently relocated to the UK to record their next opus Al Berkowitz is a name you should be looking out for in 2016.
‘A Long Hereafter / Nothing Beyond‘ is out now on Tempel Arts
Nashville 4-piece Bullydebut album ‘Too Tough‘represented a refreshing return to a time when guitar bands ruled the chart and just about any freak (meant completely as a term of endearment) could write, record and release a hit.
Much has been made of frontwoman Alicia Bognanno‘s internship at Steve Albini‘s infamous Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, a connection that i presume helped the band record the album there, but it would be unfair to turn the focus solely on that. Instead the spotlight should be on Bognanno‘s almighty scream which is somewhat similar to Courtney Love in her ‘Live Through This‘ prime mixed with a quiet-loud dynamic that brings you back to anything cool Kim Deal has ever done with both the Pixies and Breeders.
While patchy at times when ‘Feels Like‘ delivers a hit they are usually knock outs and while Bognanno and co are still finding their footing there are more than enough hints on this record of great things to come.
Bonus points for drummer Stewart Copeland for carrying that name and still deciding to pursue a career as a drummer.
What a journey it has been for singer-songwriter/producer Stephen Swartz, aka Stephen. After releasing the massively viral “Bullet Train” while still at the University of Miami (FL), he went all but silent for two years, leaving his 60,000 social followers wondering if Stephen had left music altogether. Little did they know that he had actually immersed himself even further into music, dropping out of college and moving to Los Angeles, CA to develop his artistry–and himself.
The past two months have seen two new releases from Stephen via Halfway House Records, the independent label he calls both his label and literal home. Increasingly known for his introspection, “Fly Down” is no different, examining society’s issues with vulnerability, masculinity, and self-concept through the allegory of Stephen‘s relationship with a young woman to whom he feels uncomfortable showing pain. The record is a heart-tugging piano ballad backed by compressed hip-hop drums, speckled with electronic production and climaxing with a powerful drop.
We fell in love with Lee Eller‘s brand of lo-fi indie pop here at Cougar Microbes HQ from the minute we first heard “What Would I Do“. The track is an elegant yet moody slice of electro-pop that hints at great things to come from the young artist.
Born and raised as an only child in Manhattan you get the perception that Lee‘s childhood was somewhat unconventional. With no older siblings around to pass on new musical discoveries and so Lee was uncovering new sounds for herself and developing a diverse palette.
A chance visit to the Middle East saw her uproot her life and relocate to Tel Aviv beginning to mix with the local scene and explore new sounds. There are a couple of covers online form this period that, while a little rough around the edges, suggest a budding artist with growing confidence in her talent.
A few years on and Lee is completing the recording of her debut ‘Wrote To You‘ EP and we have been assured the rest of the tracks will be just as exciting. While we wait for the next single to drop we are happy to keep spinning the near pop perfection of “What Would I Do” on repeat.
Singer/songwriter Jen Charlton has led a nomadic life calling NewYork, London, Toronto and Tel Aviv her home at various stages of her career and this cross contamination of cultures has seemingly seeped into her music.
Her latest single is deceptively upbeat with a deeper/darker layer lurking below. Even though it was released earlier this year it seems like a great track for summer
“Blame It On My Family”, produced by Yves Galula, showcases an artist who is comfortable in her own skin delivering a pop burst that you will want to return to again.
Judging by the increase of emails in our inbox quote-unquote guitar music is making some sort of a comeback in 2015 spearheaded by the comebacks from the likes of Refused and Faith No More as well as a slew of young bands who have stepped up to take their mantle.
One such band sitting in the wings waiting to shine is Coma7 who are gearing up to release their debut EP ‘Hunger‘. In their 5 year’s existance the band has seen more than it’s fair share of ups and downs including the shocking murder of their former guitarist Eran. Faced with such adversity most artists would crumble but somehow the Israeli 5-piece has found a way to channel their anger and frustrations into their music. The result is a calculated burst of energy seasoned with emotion.
The release is preceded by the excellent DIY stop-motion video for the track ‘No More War‘, a formidable behemoth that sets out the band’s agenda from the get go. The track is the sonic equivalent of someone smashing your door down and proceeding to improve and decorate your entire home, exploding through the headphones like there is no tomorrow before firmly implanting it’s melody in your mind.
Make no mistake, this is not the kind of music you are likely to hear on mainstream radio but scratch beyond the surface and you will find plenty of melodies to go around and an unmistakable groove to nod your head to. Furthermore, the lyrical theme offers a refreshingly honest window into how the band feels.
Fans of the aformentioned Refused as well as Rage Against The Machine will appreciate the blend of aggressivness and passion displayed on ‘No More War‘ and it’s partner track ‘Yeti‘.
Coma7 will release their ‘Hunger‘ EP in September 2015 and plan to tour in 2015/2016
When this blog started several years ago Refused had already been defunct for over 10 years. In those early days I kept a list of bands I wanted to feature on these pages but there was no way I would have imagined I would get to write about the seminal Swedish legends.
17 years on from famously proclaiming “Refused is fucking dead” and subsequently earning a cult-like following Refused are fucking back. With this infamous breakup in mind eyebrows will be naturally raised at the motivation for this unexpected reunion but arguably in 2015 we need this is the band we need more than ever. The world has changed a lot, and not necessarily for the better, and who better to call out all the bullshit.
The album shows the guys still have it offering familiar breakbeats, sharp riffs and DennisLyxzén‘s inimitable vocal delivery. Perhaps the pace isn’t as intense as in the past, after all these guys are no longer the 4 teenagers that came together in the 90s. Still ‘Freedom‘ manages to bring you back to that era while still sounding relevant today.
Refused are on tour this summer with Faith No More.