The New Smu: The best new artists in my inbox this month
Discovering great new artists is one of the most exciting things about music for me. If you don’t champion the stuff you love, you can’t complain when you only hear the shit you hate on the radio.
There is an endless and thrilling sea of music out there, but it can be bewilderingly vast and not without peril. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet an artist formerly known as Prince. In this monthly review, I will be highlighting some of the most interesting releases I have heard by new and unsigned artists, wading through the audio slush pile so you don’t have to.
The Famous Daxx – Weatherman
Intoxicating melodies with an epic, prog-rock edge and versatile vocals that shift effortlessly from the smooth, mellow verses to the emotionally-charged chorus. This is a refreshingly unique debut and I can’t wait to hear more from The (hopefully-soon-to-be-very) Famous Daxx.
Echo Hotel – Hangers On
Starting slowly as a desolate, mournful lament this tale of the ’emotional cost of hedonism’ builds into a thrillingly grand and dramatic sound filled with soaring, elegiac vocals and sax-strewn drums. Just gorgeous.
Telquist – Mojo
Funky, infectious pop with a laid back, summery vibe. Downbeat sounding lyrics mix with upbeat melodies to create a chilled, ‘take life as it comes’ attitude. Or as Sebastian Eggerbauer (aka Telquist) says ‘hang in there and find your mojo’.
Bad Pop – Grey Area
Grungy, abstract and unusually minimalist pop-punk that gets pleasingly loud and shouty. Good to jump around to in your bedroom. Not, in fact, bad pop.
LOBSTERBOMB – Wake Up
Spiky and fun indie garage that asks to be played LOUD. Described as a song to make you feel ready to take on the world, Wake Up is very much like being slapped in the face with endearing, if slightly aggressive, positivity.
Veda Rays – Rose Likes Leather
Gothically melodic in a way that the band, quite rightly, describe as sounding like something from a John Hughes soundtrack. Just like their matching stripy pyjamas in the video, Rose Likes Leather has a quirky playfulness amongst the darkness.
Follow The Veda Rays on their official website
Hope Cage – Closed Doors
An enigmatic, mysterious release that mixes shimmery Portishead-like beats with lush, warm vocals and darkly oblique lyrics. Quietly, comfortingly threatening.
Follow Hope Cage on Soundcloud
Maddie Glass – Livin’ in 2021
I knew from the ‘W’ bomb in the first line I was going to love this. Delivered with the vicious faux-naivety of a six-year-old with a switchblade this is a brilliant, insanely catchy debut release that takes the sound of early 00s corporate mall-pop and gives it a hefty kick up the arse. The lyrics, in particular, are a magnificent and unrelenting stream of sweary couplets like ‘I’m too loud / too opinionated / I’m too damn young to be this frustrated’, succinctly cataloguing the anxiety-ridden experience of being a teenage girl today. Or, as the chorus puts it, ‘after all the shit you’ve been through for fucksake it’s not fun / to be living in 2021’. A sentiment many of us can probably nod along with.
Marquis Drive – 21st Century Gospel
Epic, anthemic melodies channelling 90s Britpop smothered in the kind of grandiose orchestration that a title like 21st Century Gospel demands. Despite the chorus lyrics insisting that ‘you’re not gonna change the world’ it sweeps you up with the kind of peculiarly British pessimism and introspection that always sounds much more like life-affirming optimism in the end.
LAILANA – Pixelated Soundwaves
Luxurious, effortless sounding pop with sophisticated, poetic lyrics that LAILANA describes as being about ‘the captivating beauty of addiction’. I would also like to give a shout out to the video for Pixelated Soundwaves – an ambitious, concept-driven creation of the kind rarely seen outside of big-budget artists.
Single of the month
Cheridomingo – Swallow
The first time I heard this song I thought it was pretty good. Then I found I immediately wanted to listen to it again. And again. And again. And.. well, you get the idea. And now I’m completely in love with it.
The funky beats and laid back, MOR feel of the verses act as a perfect trojan horse for the absolutely massive chorus which somehow manages to be anthemic, melodic, grungy and wildly aggressive all at once. I know it’s a bold statement in April but I won’t be surprised if this one makes my best of the year list.
Video of the month
M. Byrd – Morning Sun
The elegant, expressive simplicity of this video perfectly matches the easy, neo-folksy sound of the track. With hazy backing vocals and a melancholic sweetness reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, both song and video are a great example of when less can be more. Tightly directed with a hypnotic lead performance, the video is a perfect exercise in taking a fairly basic idea, executing it immaculately and ending up with something that looks like a million bucks.
If you would like to submit your music to be included in a future edition of The New Smu please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to your track. I don’t care if you have 25k followers or only your dog has heard it as long as it’s interesting, beautiful, weird or wonderful.