It’s time once again for our Monthly Favourites feature, with this being the 19th iteration in the series. It’s hard to believe it’s been going this long, but we show no signs of slowing down yet! With so many fantastic independent bands and artists on the underground music scene, it’s quite hard to whittle down a comprehensive list, but I’ve certainly tried!
Review by Jane Howkins
Photo by DD Allen
DD Allen – Rebel Hero
If you like your rock and roll with a classic rock bent, then DD Allen is your man! Rebel Hero starts as it means to go on, with a great big gut punch of energy and electric riffage. It’s incredibly anthemic, having an almost nostalgic punk sound at times, making for a wonderful mix of sounds. The track has a great atmosphere, really pulling you in from the start. The chorus has a singalong quality that is unmatched in a lot of rock nowadays, making Rebel Hero an absolute must listen for all fans of classic rock and roll.
Jacques Bailhé – Farewell My Love
Farewell My Love adds a slightly different quality to this list, created by composer and pianist Jacques Bailhé. Regular readers will know that I’ve been sharing a lot of classical music recently, and Jacques has produced something rather pretty here. Farewell My Love is quite a long song, coming in at just short of ten minutes. During this time, the piece goes through several different movements, creating variety and showing off Jacques’ piano skills well. It’s quite technical at times, particularly as the tempo ramps up towards the end.
Electric High – Flicking The Bees
We actually reviewed Flicking The Bees earlier this month, but it’s that good that I had to share it here! Norwegian band Electric High have become firm favourites of ours, and Flicking The Bees is one of the best things they’ve ever written! It’s a hard rock song with a classic rock edge, although it’s also incredibly catchy – especially on the chorus! The licks sound really epic here, underpinning the tune against the drums and bass. It’s so infectious that I guarantee you’ll be singing along in no time – just try not to!
Sarantos – Sunflower
Sarantos mixes classic 80s pop with a modern pop-rock sensibility, creating something stunning in the process. Sunflower is delightfully catchy, sounding extremely positive throughout. One of the things that really stood out to me about this song was the use of the organ, an instrument I personally feel is underutilised in modern rock. Sarantos has a really nice voice too, drifting through the track in a pretty way. Sunflower really is a lovely song, and one that I hope brightens your day as much as it did mine.
Michael Barrow & the Tourists – One Track Mind
Utah-based band Michael Barrow & the Tourists are another band with a classic rock band, utilising the piano well in their latest release, One Track Mind. Michael has a distinctive singing voice, but his vocals have a lot of heart and emotion, especially on the chorus, which is also infectiously catchy. The production quality sounds really good here, allowing all the instrumentation to shine through, alongside the vocals. There’s also a pretty nifty guitar solo towards the end, showing how talented Michael’s band is.
Makeup – 21st Century Blues
We’ve featured Makeup’s music quite a few times in the past, and it just keeps on getting better and better! 21st Century Blues is a really beautiful sounding song, using a fantastic main chord sequence that gets under your skin straight away. The vocals sound extremely passionate, absolutely drenched in emotion throughout this amazing tune. The strings also sound glorious in the background, swelling in a truly haunting way. This might just be my favourite song on this entire list, so make sure you give it a whirl!
7HO3NIX – Touch Me with Your Words
7HO3NIX is the musical moniker for pop starlet and producer Gabrielle Solange, who has had great success in the music industry so far. Touch Me with Your Words shows exactly why her music has been so successful, as it’s a banging pop tune containing some wonderful r&b elements. Gabrielle has a stunning voice, simply soaring over the mellow beat created in this tune. The music itself is fairly slow, in true r&b fashion, and the backing vocals absolutely make this tune, sounding almost like a gospel choir in the background.
Joey Mac – Ferdinand
Joey Mac is a singer-songwriter and percussive-guitarist, using her guitar in a uniquely rhythmic way. Ferdinand is a modern folk song that’s very reminiscent of Laura Marling’s work, although Joey has enough character for her music to stand out here. Her vocals are full and clear, sounding extremely heartfelt throughout. The flowing guitars add a lovely vibe to the music, following Joey’s wonderful vocal stylings. This is one of my favourite songs of the last few months, and it’s something that all fans of the folk genre should check out.
Becca James – One
Becca James has become something of a regular feature in these pages, and One shows exactly why we love her music so much! It’s a pop song of sorts, starting out slowly with just Becca’s vocals and some backing synth effects. However, the rest of the band soon kicks in, complete with a rapid rhythm section and a cool guitar lick. There’s something rather retro about this song, making it sound very different from most of the pop on the radio right now. Becca uses her vocals in some interesting ways, marking another unique quality to One.
Soul Zimon & His Kozmic Combinations – Devil’s On The Loose
The curiously titled Soul Zimon & His Kozmic Combinations is a bluesy folk project based in Oslo and Gothenburg, making for a very interesting proposition! Devil’s On The Loose is an awesome blues rocker, although it’s got quite a slow tempo, which you might not expect from such a song. The rhythm sounds almost waltzy, seeing a cool acoustic guitar melody follow the drums perfectly, as little electric guitar motifs tail off. The harmonica is also a nice addition when it appears in the background. The vocals have a classic blues sound, raw and full of emotion.