Under the Radar: January 2015 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Perhaps it’s because it’s January, the wind chill has picked up a fair bit and I’m suffering from a serious case of chapped lips (a usual yearly event for me) but I can’t resist a beautifully chipper summer tune when I’m all wrapped up in my scarf and mittens. Maybe it’s a psychological thing; if I’m thinking about the beach then I’ll turn on some sort of inner heating device within my body. New Zealander Leno Lovecraft certainly brings sunshine into your life, as his infectiously, sparkling, occasionally twee pop jams are the happiest, brightest thing you’ll hear while walking around the greyness that’s currently covering us. Danceable summer beats for winter.

Speaking of “danceable,” the combination of Melbourne’s Two Can and New York’s Father Dude is something pretty majestic. Their collaborative tune Double Edge is a floor-filler of epic proportions, featuring some strong R’n’B vocals, a sing-along chorus and a powerful breakdown. It’s the type of tune an R’n’B pretender like Jason Derulo wishes he had, but could never in a million years pull off. In a way, this is a cheat, since both Two Can and Father Dude are respectable underground dance artists in their own right. But that just gives you more goodies to hunt through.

But perhaps it’s time to mellow the mood a little, though. Far from the hi-energy beats of Leno Lovecraft and Father Dude, Essex’s Trowler – aka Alfie Fermin – Trowler is simple one man making some luscious psychedelic indie-rock (with a little bit of added weirdness on the side). Even though he’s signed to Echolalia, Trowler’s Soundcloud page only features two rough demos of his work. He’s just that fresh.

A group who are just as crisp are Party Supplies, who have been turning heads with their Beach Boys-esque surf pop in recent times, so much so that Action Bronson have already teamed up with the Brooklyn duo. Their latest track Ohio is the soundtrack to a Brat Pack movie that never existed; like an all-male version of Summer Camp, there’s something beautifully nostalgic about their songs that evokes images of West Coast surf culture and 80s campus comedies. John Cusack could easily have played this through his boombox.

Despite living in the Sunshine State, Floridian duo JUDE. don’t quite embrace the warmth like Party Supplies. Instead, the pair are purveyors of full-bodied, emotionally charged, melancholy pop with crisp production values. Crystals – released five months ago – shows the darker side of their output, while more recent single Drive could quite easily be an outtake from Nicholas Winding Refn’s cult classic. Think Lorde with a smattering of Fever Ray and you’re halfway there.

Now that we’re briefly delving back into the cold, perhaps it’s about time we sought out some new Scandinavian pop (and as history has shown, no-one does pop quite like the Scandinavians). Norwegian starlet Anna of the North continues where her Swedish counterpart Robyn left off, with a distinctive voice and clean production values. Latest single Sway uses voice distortion and a wonky bassline to create an ethereal and grabbing three minutes. Her output has attracted the attention of much larger groups, including radio botherers The Chainsmokers, who recently remixed Sway.

Ryan Hemsworth is another super-producer who nurtures new talent. If you haven’t been keeping up with his Secret Songs series, then it’s worth checking out; featuring a variety of underground producers (some of which are so new they don’t even have a web presence), the series is a breeding ground for perfectly formed electro-pop. If the R’n’B tinged style of Father Dude and Two Can didn’t float your boat, though, then dd elle provides a more unique take on the genre. His quieter, minimalistic take on electro-pop is sometimes furiously infectious and sometimes just plain bizarre. Recent single Tell Me – which was chosen for Secret Songs – begins with grandiose brass before descending into psych territory, featuring a brilliantly fragile voice that floats across the track like a dream.

“Floating” is probably not a word in the repertoire of London duo Bosco Rogers. Then again, they do describe themselves as flower punk ruffians… The core members of Barth and Del providing nothing more or less than barnstorming garage rock that’s unashamedly noisy, featuring scuzzed-out guitars and pulsating drum beats. However, the DIY attitude belies the well thought-out and melodic edge to their work. Just check out the Stomp-inspired clang at the end of In Stereo and you’ll realise there’s more to the pair than just crashing out sounds on a Fender.

A similarly DIY thread runs through the off-kilter indie of Madrid’s Hinds (formerly known as Deers, but we won’t linger on that one too much). Like Party Supplies and the more well-known Alvvays, there’s something thoroughly nostalgic about their sketchy guitar-driven tunes, often accompanied by charming slacker-girl vocals (in both Spanish and English) and a great love of echoed, shoegaze-style production values. Like a scuzzier version of Haim, Hinds may not be a completely polished product just yet, but alongside the likes of Girlpool they’re part of a revolution in female-fronted bands with fire in their belly and some seriously cool tunes to back it all up.

You can listen to tracks from all of the featured artists as one handy playlist on our Soundcloud page.

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