From Liverpool art-pop chameleon Beija Flo to Aussie experimental-surf-pop gang Hobsons Bay Coast Guard, and more.
Words by Karl Johnson
Halloween is but a distant memory, winter is in full swing and it surely can’t be long before we’re overwhelmed by best of 2021 lists. On the positive’ side, the live music calendar is as strong as ever. Pitchfork Music Festival took over London last week, with events spread over 5 days and 13 venues and heavyweights Anna Meredith, black midi and Stereolab topping bills, alongside an exciting live return by Metronomy. In case that wasn’t enough, for the next 10 days London Jazz Festival takes over. But you’re here for the music, so let’s sink into the new tracks and artists that caught our ears this week.
‘Heads or Tails’
Undoubtably an artist for our times, Liverpool-based Beija Flo has returned with a hook-laden, heavy pop nugget entitled Heads or Tails. Lyrically the track strikes you with a stream of consciousness delivery that kicks with a rare openness and honesty, channelling inner turmoil and bringing conversations about mental and sexual health out of the taboo and the into everyday. The track’s pummelling drums and deep bass groove provide a perfect backdrop for the flowing vocal delivery, which explores the gritty side of pop melodies. Heads or Tails winds itself up into a whirlwind of emotional energy that’s topped off with squealing synths and subtle hooks – “heads I win and tails you lose”.
New Nice Swan Records signees Anorak Patch offer a treat in the form of new single Delilah. The track flicks between touching, hook-laden vocal melodies and grunge-feel guitars and hard-hitting drums in a perfect balance of grit and pop potential. The Colchester outfit document the struggles of loneliness and poor mental health and how our surroundings – both people and places – can affect us for better or worse. The juxtaposition of moods in both the instrumental track and the lyricism are both haunting and anthemic, beautifully wrapped up in a 3 minute emotional pop nutshell. The track arrives on 7″ vinyl on December 13th via Nice Swan Records, with previous release Blue Jeans on the B-side.
Hobsons Bay Coast Guard
Hailing from the sun-scorched lands and fruitful seas of Australia, come Hobsons Bay Coast Guard. The experimental band combine the jangle of surf rock alongside the dreamy nature of hyperreal dream pop. Vocals soar through the verses and attack in the chorus, there are flashes of heavyweights Vampire Weekend and Spring King or more recently of art rock specialists Youth Sector. Unstoppable drums meet a driving bass groove and interlocking guitar parts that move with a staggering 7/8 beat, Hobsons Bay Coast Guard offer enough instrumental muscle and explosivity to match the above mentioned acts – it’s about move into summer in the Southern Hemisphere too. The band’s new LP Tubular Swells arrives December 1st on Reef Records.
“I always find out their star sign and try to suss them out a bit, see what I’m working with personality wise”, mentions Fran aka BLAB about her new single. New release Gemini takes inspiration from drum and bass in the beats and rave feel, but at the heart of the track you’ll find a storytelling vocal delivery that echoes the heartbroken-pop gems of early Lily Allen. The lyricism addresses unrequited love, but BLAB doesn’t do just sad, Gemini is as much of a ‘fuck you’ as it is cathartic. The Southend artist brings a lo-fi, grunge-esque feel to pop music, with bone-shaking vocal melodies and a lyrical honesty that just knocks your socks off. The track arrives via Cool Thing Records.