Music has always needed mavericks, subversives, and artistic eccentrics. The sort of people who aren’t moved or motivated by the promised shimmer of gold or the warm embrace of fame. I’m talking about the true artists who do it for the love of the medium and the belief of their message. This breed still live among us, though their exposure is often limited, sometimes by choice, and often because the thirsty spotlight of the mass media skips over them in order to highlight the latest soulless cash cow. Without these people, however, music would die a slow death, the flesh of artistic expression decaying to leave only the hollow bones of entertainment pop.
This is why we need new bands like M O N E Y. This four piece band from Manchester have been floating around the scene in one guise or another for well over a year, releasing a variety of art in musical, visual and written form. The band has already built up quite a mystique, regularly changing their name, releasing music only to delete it just as quickly, and holding ‘Exhibitions’ in churches, office blocks and warehouses around their home city. They seemed to have become a little more focused over recent months, however, settling on a name and beginning to put out some physical releases. The very limited single “Who’s Going To Love You Now/Goodnight London” was recently followed by the brilliant “So Long (GODISDEAD)”, and fingers crossed we should see more from the guys later in the year.
Describing M O N E Y’s music isn’t entirely straightforward. Of the handful of tracks available they explore different styles; from the solemn power and beauty of “Goodnight London”, to the intricate and orchestral sparkle of “So Long (GODISDEAD)”. This latest release is the most complete and satisfying statement from the band, combining a beguiling operatic vocal (reminiscent of Antony and Wild Beasts) with otherworldly, dream-like instrumentation. The message, like so much of their output, is slightly ambiguous with its religious subject matter, but it is undeniable that they take their content seriously. Just looking at their Facebook page, full as it is with passages of prose and poetry all penned by singer Jamie Lee, it becomes clear they are a band with plenty of heady ideals, and strong opinions. They also apparently have a penchant for naked photography…
Their name M O N E Y is often accompanied by a quote from the Russian poet Ivan Kozlov, acting as a disclaimer of sorts: ‘Money is a bottomless sea, in which honour, conscience, and truth may be drowned’. From this it is safe to assume that this name isn’t a banner celebrating the almighty dollar, nor are they capitalist poster boys. They have drawn comparisons to fellow Mancunians WU LYF, not just because of the use of capitals but also their unconventional approach and the shroud of mystery they have chosen to cloak themselves in. From the outside M O N E Y may come across as pretentious and aloof, but I very much doubt these guys care too much. I’m sure they are more than happy to continue to confound, intrigue and enchant all those who take the time to listen to their complex and haunting music. For me, they are a band to get very excited about.
Back in June we announced the opportunity to remix Digits' track, "Where Do You Belong?", and earn yourself a release courtesy of Bad Panda and a spot here on Listen Before You Buy. We had a brilliant response, with over forty remixes being submitted, and the overall quality being exceptionally high. So high, in fact, that when we sat down to pick out a winner, we couldn’t do it. We now present the two winning entries: ▲WE SINK and Look, Stranger!.
▲WE SINK are based out of Athens - the real one, in Greece not Georgia - but their music draws heavily on the UK garage scene, and there are lots of glitchy pads and 8-bit blips to fill things out. There’s a definite nod in the direction of the likes of Two Inch Punch and Bobby Tank in the instrumentation, and if you’re a regular reader then you know that’s a sure-fire route to our hearts…
Look, Stranger! don’t just look to London for influences; they actually live there. They’ve already had the nod from The Guardian, and when they describe their sound as “space age bachelor pad music”, it’s easy to imagine why. While their general sound is more in the Wild Beasts direction, they pulled off a convincing minimal house turn for their remix.
In both cases, what really impressed us was the combination of originality, musicality and excellent production. Both took the original material in a whole new direction, but managed to keep the whole thing sounding cohesive and natural. Not to mention the fact that you can easily imagine either playing in a club right now. I’ll leave the final comments to Digits himself:
Holy crap, I was so impressed by the quality and quantity of the remixes you made. So much time and effort put into this, it was difficult to narrow it down to ten, let alone two. But Look, Stranger! and ▲WE SINK were the best of the best and I’m so pleased to announce them as the winners. I seriously enjoyed listening to all the entries, and I’ll share a few honourable mentions at some point down the line on my Facebook and Twitter. It was so cool to hear my song reworked by producers and fans and you can always feel free to remix any of my songs. Hope you had fun! I definitely did.
You can find out more about our winners at the links below, and stream the original version of "Where Do You Belong?". And if you’ve got a minute (or hour) to spare, you can have a listen to all of the submissions via Soundcloud.
Electro-synth shoegazers, The Machine Room arrived on the prolific Edinburgh, Scotland music scene in 2010 as a five-piece made up of Tom Adam, John Bryden, Adie Emanuel, Scott Hitchings, and Ryan Marinello (Adam has since left and Cecilia Stamp has joined).
In the same way that New Order weave the bitter into the sweet, The Machine Room expertly craft succinct yet ethereal rhythms. Not afraid of showing off lush bass hooks combined with crystalline guitar lines over persistent arpeggios, they set an ideal backdrop to John Bryden’s husky, falsetto vocals. Emotive yet restrained, The Machine Room know just how and when to pack a punch.
"Cost Of Progress" instantly draws the listener in through a sea of reverb-laced, post-punk goodness, then builds to soaring, moody crescendos. Touching on Twenty-First Century enuii and self-frustration, it is clear that this is a group not afraid to examine topical, yet timeless themes.
"Your Head On The Floor Next Door" is the most obviously reminiscent of vintage New Order with it swelling pop crescendos, yet featuring The Machine Room’s own blend of bewitched, dulcet pop (not to mention wry sense of humor). Starting off with the lyrics, "So I’ve never felt so good since I sang ‘Away In A Manger’/ Yet I’ve never felt so bad since I went down on a stranger," this listener was hooked.
Lyrically honest and sonically sophisticated, The Machine Room have already proven to be a formidable presence with an advanced understanding of their sonic realm. With hypnotically textured rhythms, not to mention a willingness to deviate from any assumed prescribed formula (think the jangly brilliance found in the likes of House Of Love), they are well on their way to achieving a presence and distinct sound amongst the ranks of Errors and Wild Beasts.
The Machine Room released the EP “Love From A Distance” on March 5th. You can download it via Bandcamp, or stream some highlights below.
Real Estate debut another new track, this time for Domino Records’ new original art, music, and prose zine.
As the story goes, when Frànçois Marry arrived in Bristol, England from France in 2003, he wrote a note accompanied by a picture asking for people to make music together with, taped it in his window, then proceeded to check out local car boot sales for instruments.
Starting out with a hodgepodge of found instruments (including a keyboard he played with his foot), Frànçois began playing live in Bristol in early 2004. 2005 - 2007 saw him collaborating with various local Bristol artists, as well as supporting the likes of Camera Obscura and Electrelane. 2006 saw the first release of what would come to be known as Frànçois And The Atlas Mountains, “The People To Forget” released on vinyl via Stitch-Stitch.
After spending some time in France recording a solo album "Plaine Inondable", and a stint touring with Camera Obscura, Fràncois joined forces with rhythms provided by Rob Hunter (drummer for Rozi Plain) and Amaury Ranger on bass, then set to recording "E Volo Love" in 2010. Frànçois And The Atlas Mountains became the first artists signed to Domino France, and, now, with "E Volo Love", slated to debut in Europe January 31st, promises to be an exciting, breakthrough year for this innovative circle of artists who continue to evolve and reconstruct their colorful, auditory pallette.
Combining pure 196Os French pop in the vein of Françoise Hardy, as well as an interest in the musical influences of Northern Africa (amongst many others), there is a playful expiramental element of tUnE-yArDs mixed with the soaring pop sophistication found in the likes of Dominque A and Wild Beasts.With a rootsy, primal, pop aesthetic as well as a penchant for romantic, dreamy musings tinged with a hint of melancholy, Frànçois And The Atlas Mountains are one part Beat Happening and two-thirds Michel Legrand. Intimate, yet spacial and full of wonderous interludes, this is ideal music to spend with just you and your headphones on long rail journeys.
Despite its release date, I expect this album to be one of my go-to Spring and Summer albums. Singing in French and English, both languages merge together perfectly to create a naturalistic and evocative sense of mood and place. Whether it be a song about sitting beside a fire, drinking alcohol (a favorite occupation of mine, thanks for making a song for that Mr. Marry) or going to bed with a lover at the end of a long night (or at the beginning of a frosty morning) there is something that brings to mind voyages, whether they be external or internal.
Listen to "Piscine", the first single from "E Volo Love" below, and also check out the video for "Les Plus Beaux".