Listening Post #14

by Jed Fletcher

As the holidays approach – and the promise of exams along with them – I’ve been seeking some calming background music to accent the coming weeks. So apologies for a slightly acoustic-heavy list of entries this week. But even if that’s not your thing, you’ve got to admit they’re smooth. So let’s kick off the 14th Listening Post of the year.

1. Life Worth Living - Laurel

Southampton’s Laurel reminds me of Daughter vocalist Elena Tonra with a bit more variation thrown into her style. That is to say that the clarity of Laurel’s singing is on a similar level, allowing her to pump each note with emotion, but at the same time she’s not afraid to raise the pitch, raise the volume or let her voice falter one or twice in a track.

What Laurel accomplishes with gusto in this new work of hers is a real sense of authenticity. The fashion in which both her singing performance and the instrumental backing follow one another and fit to the lyrics as she demands a lot from her companion, urging them to do the same to her is masterful to say the least.

2. Number One - Sweat

Super indie Number One is the debut track of Montreal four-piece, Sweat. Straight from the offset this record completely melts the listener with an effortless blend of soft electric guitars, symbol-oriented percussion and female vocals.

I’m not sure what to say about Number One to be frank, you just need to listen to it. Not only is this an amazing song because of its beautiful backing, but the soft singing of quite sinister, confrontational lyrics is also spectacular. Just give it a listen – you won’t regret it.

3. Alright Now - Cash + David 

Initiated by an arpeggio of electronic chiming, Cash + David’s new single, Alright Now, has that awesome trait of immediately communicating that it’s going to be a song worth listening to. I don’t know if you know of Cash + David, but if you don’t there’s not much to say to be honest. They’re an electro-pop duo from London and their music is unfailingly intriguing.

What I love about Alright Now is the manner in which it integrates what is, in reality, a rather aggressive core instrumental component into what ends up a cool, relaxing composition. Cash + David seamlessly bring their record from down-tempo to up-tempo, put the vocals in the spotlight before switching the emphasis back to the instrumental. Definitely one for the more adventurous listeners this week.

4. No Sleep For The Dreamer - BOY 

Treading the line between stripped-back indie and minimalistic electro with stunning composure, No Sleep For The Dreamer is the epitome of what people around the world have recently come to adore about BOY. The duo, one Swiss, one German, have dazzled with their debut album that was received well while often being highlighted as a very consistent album, to the point of the songs blending into one-another.

I felt that the composition of the song, which leaves to the vocalist the job of dictating the pace and rhythm of the track, was really appropriate for a song about uncertainty. Beyond uncertainty I believe No Sleep For The Dreamer is about unresolved feelings and just not feeling right – the song itself I can imagine being a decent cure, in the way all its constituents fit so well together.

5. Rusty - Hein Cooper

Channelling that famously laid-back Aussie attitude into a marvellous three minute concentration of indie vibes, Sydney-based singer/songwriter Hein Cooper has released his most impressive oeuvre to date. The release marks another step closer to the drop of his debut album, The Art of Escape, and boy does Rusty make me want to hear what else Cooper has up his sleeve.

From the moment Cooper’s fingers slip up the guitar strings and the simple percussion enters the fray, you know Rusty’s going to be the soundtrack of your next few days, weeks, months. There’s also a cheeky electric guitar melody to add some bite. The song’s about accepting that no one’s perfect, which is good to keep in mind as you start to head up the mountain of revision ahead of you.

Listen to the PearShaped Playlist for Listening Post #14 below.