New music, new artists and Hard Of Hearing Firsts.

Each week we search out early releases and moving new projects for those who like to dive deeper into the murky and reed-ridden waters of grassroots music. As usual, this week has unearthed sonic gems from all over the world. From Rotterdam to Honk Kong, New York and Manchester. Sink into the tracks that caught our ears and follow our Hard Of Hearing Top Tips playlist here for further listening.

Rats on Rafts

Following on from the release of two mind-bending art-rock explorations last year – in singles Tokyo Music Experience and A Trail Of Wind And Fire – Rotterdam favourites Rats on Rafts have returned with new one Fragments. The atmospheric new track seems to act as the gel that sticks together Rats on Rafts’ fractured, beautifully eerie yet detailed instrumentation. Fragments cuts with the darkened emotion of early 80s post-punk, with the epic and tunnel-like vocal projections of Manchester’s The Chameleons or the ghostly march of Merseyside legends Echo & the Bunnymen. This year the band release their third record, on this evidence it’s certainly one to look out for. Find Rats on Rafts on Spotify here.

Stray Hounds
Ride (Am I the One)

New York quartet Stray Hounds have seemingly bounded straight through the bullshit of 2020 and into the new year in one seamless move. Their new single Ride (Am I the One) is one containing psychedelic properties, a relentless groove and guitarwork that cuts through the mist of political unrest and a global pandemic for five brilliant minutes of escapism.

“The song describes a night out”, explain the band, “infatuation with a dancing woman, and the reflections the morning after, primarily on the revelation that the world may no longer be the protagonist’s oyster, but instead a moules-frites for two”. Find the band on Spotify here.


Hong Kong-based artist Shingaling‘s latest single is a bass-driven, psych-tinged delight. Surrender wobbles with the same haunting charm and off-beat instrumental feel that made millions fall in love with Warpaint‘s debut EP Exquisite Corpse then subsequently their full-length on Rough Trade Records The Fool. Guitars echo and drift through you like smoke while a persistent bass groove snakes through the mix urging the track to unfold in full. Surrender is a powerful tale of lived emotion, a rollercoaster ridden by vocals that ring with closure and strength through experience. Shingaling explain, “Surrender is a song about being powerless in situations/ relationships you have no control over, all you can do is nothing but let them finish”. Find the band on Spotify here.

Mint Eastwood
Man From Atlantis

Taking a leaf out of Future Islands book of expansive and hook-laden synth pop, Manchester outfit Mint Eastwood have shared the video for new single Man From Atlantis. The track wobbles with an shimmering electronic momentum that feeds the lo-fi indebted vocal delivery, which picks it’s hooks and punches delicately. Watch the music video here. There’s a touch of Pulp, and certainly a sad-disco appeal. It pushes Man From Atlantis into the realms of high-end 80s pop and straight through the other side with a love for intimacy and magnetism of bedroom pop. Find the band on Spotify here.

Words by Karl Johnson.
Rats on Rafts photo by Erik Christenhusz.