Listening Post #1

by Emily Pratten

A note from the Editor: With a new year comes a new columnist for our beloved Listening Post. After its success last year thanks to James Hitchings-Hales (who will be sorely missed now that he has graduated and left us), PearShaped simply couldn’t say goodbye to its fortnightly injection of hidden gems.

So say hello to Emily Pratten. A loyal follower of PearShaped (you may recognise her as our Press Officer from last year), Emily is constantly discovering new artists that she is desperate to share with the rest of us. We couldn’t think of a better position for her this year, so have a read, maybe listen to some of the tracks at the bottom of this post, and we’ll see you again in a fortnight.

I would love to say that I’ve spent my summer preparing for my final year at university by doing extensive reading and research for my dissertation and what not. I wouldn’t love to say that actually that sounds monumentally dull. It would be far more fun and indeed a great deal more accurate instead to say that I spent this summer obsessing over new music and going to far too many little gigs in little alleyways in East London. And now, I get to rant about and recommend my latest music obsessions with all of you, given my new position as a columnist. You lucky, lucky devils. The holiday is over, and term time fast approaches. Here are five tracks that, in this current end of summer not-quite autumn transitory lull, I cannot stop listening to. Hop on it, ladies and gents.

1. Cathedrals - Ooo Aaa

San Francisco-based Cathedrals are a relatively new band whose debut EP dropped just over a week ago. Signed with label, Neon Gold, the EP has caused a buzz or two online, meaning that a fair number of new fans are emerging. Highlight from the EP is the interestingly named Ooo Aaa, so called due to the stuttering vocal that provides a foundation for most of the track. It’s an incredibly catchy, very good pop song; the male and female vocal blends perfectly on the chorus in an infectious and enjoyable harmony. I can’t stop listening to this one. I just can’t. It’s poppy without being annoying, and emotional without being too heavy.

2. Prides - I Should Know You Better

Prides headlined the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds this summer, drawing very large crowds despite being on stage at the same time as Blink-182. Their synth-heavy songs coupled with excellent lyrics and steady strong percussion makes for several anthemic moments across their EP, and I Should Know You Better is the track that is currently receiving the most love from radio stations. They sound a lot like fellow Scottish band, Chvrches, but instead boast a male vocal. Definitely a tune worthy of any pre-drinks playlist.

3. Little Deed - Neon

If I’m being honest, I could probably write a small novel about this song. It may be unprofessional to say such things and make such bold claims but this, though not necessarily a summer anthem, has definitely been one of my anthems of the summer.

Little Deed is a fairly unknown singer songwriter from Australia, with less than 100 Twitter followers and only one track on her Soundcloud profile. I have described this song to friends by saying it’s like falling in love; it lulls back and forth like waves with a steady and haunting vocal performance and before you know it, the slow and steady build-up has led to an emotional and bass heavy finale at 2 minutes and 22 seconds.

“Valley of tears, castle of mountains,” are the lyrics sung. They cascade in from nowhere, and all of a sudden the song becomes completely bewitching. It is simplistic and emotional and wholeheartedly impressive, a basic piano chord or two is carried by Little Deed’s truly majestic vocal performance, and it’s perfect. This is perhaps one of the greatest debut tracks Australia has ever produced, in my opinion. It is moody and soulful and just so damn great. I would follow Little Deed into battle.

4. Amber Run - Heaven

This band are a five-piece from Nottingham and are probably the most guitar-heavy track in this listening post. Heaven opens with an exciting fast-paced riff, before easing off to make way for lead singer, Joe, to come in and talk of chasing angels. His voice is warm and accessible, and the song is propelled forwards with the recurring guitar riff from the very beginning and the strong foundation of the drums. It’s slightly pop-punk, slightly indie-rock, but very much a strong contender for one of my most listened to songs of September so far. After three minutes of melodic and incredibly enjoyable music, the guitar and percussion drops off and the vocal alone remains, layered several times and echoing the sentiment: “I’ve been chasing angels all my life”. It’s a little bit epic. It’s a little bit good. If you’re less into synth and pop and electronic-based tracks, this is the one for you.

5. Troves - Youth In Decay

Finally, I’d like to end this post with a song from Troves. Youth In Decay is accessible and perhaps a soft introduction to what Soundcloud refers to as ‘melancholic pop’, a genre which is dominating my listening currently. It’s by no means a sad song - it’s upbeat and rhythmic and the chorus line (“You got me manic, I’m manic from all the madness”) is repeated in such a way that you’ll be tapping your foot for hours afterwards. It’s a sweet female vocal over the top of some harmonies, provided by electronic loops and a set of piano chords, coupled with a persistent beat of a kick drum. Another good one for sitting outside in the evening when you’re making the most of those last sunny evenings before Autumn comes in.