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
Lail Arad holds a special place in my heart, not least because her debut album ‘Someone New‘ was easily one of the albums of 2010 and one that I have found myself frequently returning to since. Quite some time has passed since then and while the London born raconteur has been keeping herself busy with performances on both sides of the Atlantic I was starting to itch for some new music.
All that has changed this year with the singer unleashing, what I imagine was, all her pent up creativity in a series of songs and videos. “When We Grow Up” is the third of these “surprise” singles and is perhaps the catchiest of the three dealing in witty lines and bravado without ever taking itself too seriously. The accompanying video follows Arad as she glide in a carefree manner across New York’s infamous MOMA acting a little like a living installation invigorating the place.
Also worth checking out her ode to Leonard Cohen with the track ‘1934‘ which was released on the living legend’s 80th birthday.
Her upcoming album ‘The Onion‘ is due out in 2016.
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.
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.
Mancunian Indie quintet AFFAIRS and producer EdBuller (Suede, Courteeners) proved that they make a dynamic match with previous single ‘Blood Science‘ and they teamed up in the studio again for spirited new track ‘Brothers‘.
The hazy, romanticism intro elevates before Liam Grindell’s baritone vocals add a unique edge to the Electro Indie ode to camaraderie. As Liam declares in the chorus ‘this is for my Brothers’, emotions soar in sync with the harmonies. Synths echo from all directions upon intricate, melodic guitars.
Not only does ‘Brothers‘ tell us that camaraderie is not dead, it also tells us that AFFAIRS are unafraid to make their own mark on the indie genre. The tinges of nostalgia hidden beneath the synths coupled with the bold, operatic vocals certainly deem AFFAIRS noteworthy on the vast, Indie scene.
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
Kosha Dillz recently unleashed his winning Haim sampling remix of the track “Been Down“. It comes with a suitably laidback video shot in Amsterdam and is well worth a spin.
Kosha is throwing his own official OY VEY! SXSW party on Wednesday 18th featuring acts from all over the world including scheduled performances from the likes of Gangsta Boo and Murs. If you are in Austin this week be sure to attend
In addition to releasing one of our albums of 2014Israeli mob Acollective also released their brilliant video for “Breakapart“, one of the standout tracks on said album. How many of the featured records do you recognise?
Acollective are currently on tour, make sure you check out their stellar show!