Up & Coming

New songs and talent in and amongst today’s music scene, that give a nostalgic nod to artists of the past. Discover new music with a subtle retro sound…

Justus Young – Medicine. Released – December 15th 2020.

You could listen to ‘Medicine’ and be easily fooled into thinking the song was a Justus Young original. Although the lyrics in this track maybe slightly more risqué than the material we have seen from Justus’ previous back catalogue on ‘World Class- Dreamer’, it’s still entirely convincing. As a listener, you can believably acknowledge the transition the duo has made and note it down to be the age-old tale of artists growing, maturing and exploring more than just their artistic parameters. That is until your theory is completely debunked when you realise this is in fact a Harry Styles Cover…Yep, that’s right. Although Harry has never officially released it, he’s been performing it at gigs since 2018. Even though Mr Styles doesn’t want to put this record out into the charts himself, we can praise the rock ’n’ roll gods that Justus’ has given us a full studio version to appreciate on Spotify! Harry’s rendition has a 70’s glam rock element to it whereas, from Justus, we hear a more modern, grungier version. Justus’ robust vocals carry the track to a new dimension and rise above the super-loud drums and guitars where most would be drowned. The song is an awesome pick by the Justus Young pair and perfectly complements their persona. I mean, these lyrics have caused twitter storms amongst Styles fans, so, if you’ve got the ample amounts of swagger required to pull them off, then you’re doing something right!

Shoken Boys- Woke Up in a Dream. Released – August 2nd 2020.

I’ve always been adamant that the whole ‘Madchester’ music scene was a genre within itself, not just a 90’s cultural scene that was based and isolated to the famous city. Shoken Boy’s latest track ‘Woke up in a dream’ contains all the elements quintessential to an original Manchester alternative rock, psychedelia track. Yet, here’s the curve-ball; these guys are from Tel Aviv, a city on Israel’s Mediterranean coast! Crazy and thus proving my theory! With dreamy distant vocals and trippy sounding riffs, this track sounds unbelievably retro. The lyrics are contradictory yet poignant at the same time, super fitting to the time of uncertainty we’re all currently presented with. “And it’s been so long and everybody’s long gone back in the bar nobody’s singing no songs”. Make of them what you will. I love that they are vague and open to interpretation, just like that of a dream. They add to the hypnotising effect of the track. If you like The Blossoms, Blur or The Stone Roses then you are sure to like this single. You’ll catch yourself singing along to the “Do’s” and the “Yeah’s” lost in a nomad trance. 3:31 seconds of escapism and indie coolness rolled into one.

Jacka & the Shott of Love – Midnight Waters – Released March 31st 2020

Modern Rock ‘n’ Roll with sophistication and depth…who would have ever thought it? ‘Midnight Waters’ is a perplexing one, a total oxymoron, but not in a good way. In a great way! Whilst at first glance (or listen), it’s chorus is super upbeat with buoyant riffs, it has a lighthearted tone and is undeniably catchy. When you listen closer you hear that the lyrics actually possess sadness. They totally contradict the sound. But then upon second, third and fourth listen I realised the track epitomises the wise and commonly used quote ‘It’s okay to look back at the past but we must not stare’. It’s a song of honest reminiscence – looking warmly back to yesteryear, being thankful for the treasured memories and accepting that life moves on. This is authentic, relatable and feel-good Rock ‘n’ Roll at it’s finest. ‘Landfall’ by Jacka & the Schott of Love is an incredible album jam packed with real stories and mature reflection. This single is wildly uplifting and gives hope. Hat’s off to Jacka and Doc Schott for creating a shining lyrical example of how we should always show gratitude to our past experiences and be thankful they happened. Exceptionally well put together rock with great meaning is what our mainstream music industry seriously lacks, we totally needed this!

Tall Blonde ManThe Long Goodbye Released June 12th 2020.

A persevered sound resurrected from a late 80’s, early 90’s Alt-rock time capsule. ‘The Long Goodbye’, sends a nod to The Stone Roses but also has a slight hint of ballad romanticism and dreamy riffs. The band is made up of three guys – Ste who is partial to heavy and harder styles of rock, Chris who prefers more Progressive and Psychedelic Rock and Dave who enjoys the New Wave genre. All their tastes are combined and amplified within their own music, particularly this song. They create an electrifying bricolage of layers. It’s a multitude of yesteryear rock elements segmented into one promising track.    

Band persona is so important, and these guys have nailed it. They are a band of long-standing friendship, a shared passion and above all, a great sense of humour. Their music is powerful just like their bond. The way three very distinct sounds can be layered together with such ease, tight chords and a poignant lyric is a true testament to their relationship. Tall Blonde Man are not ‘Up & Coming’ in a usual sense, to me they are established, maybe not fully within the industry, as of yet, but certainly with themselves. They are talented musicians who have spent decades perfecting their musical identity and craft just unfortunately not as a group for the entire time.

After forming in High School in 1985 as part of a school project, they called themselves ‘Compass Point’ and had their first tango with fame. Brief but clearly impactful. By 1986 they were a four-piece named ‘Money Can’t Buy….’. The line-up was the same as now but with the addition of Jon Clark performing bass and vocals. They were ready for big things. Unfortunately, they didn’t get their lucky break. I suppose the fear of failing took a hold and more stable career paths beckoned. They parted ways.

In 2006, they received the news that Jon had sadly passed away. His influence on the band and personally was iridescent. It planted a seed which began to grow in 2015 when the bands paths crossed again. By 2020, they are standing in a fully flourished garden of greenery.

Now named Tall Blonde Man as a sentiment to their friend Jon. Their new song ‘The Long Goodbye’ funnily enough, is about climate change. “And they promised you the earth, but they lied. And they said to keep the faith and we cried”. They don’t just have an emotive pull with their story but with their lyrics too. To me great lyrics are not literal. They are abstract enough to enable people to relate for a multitude of reasons. To me this song could very easily be portraying a story of grief or more pressingly, that of the current pandemic. It’s relevant and sophisticated but also undeniably cool at the same time. These are men of the world with a lot to share. I can’t wait for their full album.

Justus Young – World-Class Dreamer – Album Release 07/07/2020

Effortlessly cool combined with an ample amount of talent. Justus Young is a 23-year-old indie rock solo artist originally born in Sacramento, California now residing in Anthem, Arizona.

Remember that indie scene which subsequently died back in the late 2000’s as R&B dominated and now seems to be even more submerged underneath EDM and Grime? Well, with help from artists like Justus, pioneering the way, I hope we can revive this scene and have elements of old school Rock ‘n’ Roll in mainstream charts once again. Set for his debut album to be released on 07/07/2020 “World-Class Dreamer” is a record which sounds like a classic before it’s even had time to mature.

With husky, soulful vocals to rival King’s of Leon frontman Caleb Followill and deep lyrics discussing the proverbial truths of love like John Mayer, he is sure to spark the interest of many. This record encompasses the best segments of rock from yesteryear including Slash style riffs and distinct progressive electric guitar-based intros. You’ll also find the occasional catchy pop-rock playfulness of Third Eye Blind. It conveys a 90’s post grunge vibe, combined with Justus’ own edgy flair. Justus says his style means never caring if something is perfect – “I have a 95% rule”. Less is more. His music is not overworked or try-hard. It’s just an honest testament to himself.

Pre lock down, Justus spent his time gigging around Phoenix and has done since the age of 16. Initially, his first love was the guitar before lyric writing took president. By the age of 19 he was adding his own vocals to his songs. After seeing Catfish and the Bottlemen, one of his inspirations, play at the Van Buren, he made up his mind that he would play there himself by the end of this year. I have no doubt he will achieve this…

He exudes a casual confidence and a mature, worldly view of life which transpires into his lyrics. Each track tells a story of a 23-year-old wiser than his years. An old soul who appears to be very existentially aware, wanting more from life, more from love and more from himself. Troubled with the temptations of fickle lust interests that seem to fizzle out, he is left questioning where he went wrong. He wants the real deal. The lyrics in ‘Not my Scene’ are what you’d expect from a 30-something rock star tired of the lifestyle and finally learning to get their priorities in order, but Justus shows he is already the master of his own fate. This could prove very inspiring to a younger audience. “Forgetting what I did last night, aint cool to me”. He doesn’t let the party override his music. He has great morals, craves freedom from the crowd and artistic success.

His latest single release ‘Sunrise’ opens with an analogue crackle which remains for the remainder of the track, giving the illusion it is playing from vinyl. Nostalgic chills, all around. Other standout tracks from the album are ‘Trouble on My Mind’ leading the way, with already over 18,000 streams on Spotify and the yet to be released ‘Twice’ for me is the masterpiece of the record. You could literally mistake the intro for a 1970’s AC/DC opening, very rock infused with some great bass intertwined. “You can stay you can go, I’ll be centered either way”. And I’m sure he will, but you can count on the crowd staying.

YUNGBLUD – Weird! Released April 22nd 2020

A familiar Yorkshire accent occasionally seeps through an array of past punk elements that are tactfully crafted into a modern sound. With lyrics so pivotal to our current situation, it’s impossible not to relate. This 22-year-old UK northerner had me sold on the intro, which almost pays homage to ‘Kids in America’ by Kim Wilde, a 1981 new wave classic. ‘Weird!’ has a hint of rebellion like late 70’s punk but with a speedy tempo and heavy electric guitar based instrumental, it embodies late 90’s American pop-punk too. The reassuring, comforting lyrics bring this upbeat song into the 21st century and will undoubtedly resonate immensely with the current generation in this ‘weird time of life’.

PUBLIC – Honey in the Summer Released May 8th 2020

“Top down, sunshine. Party of one inside my ride. Solo kinda guy, all I got is 4-wheel drive. Highway, date night, record from 1979. Right turn, green light ‘long as I got my ride or die.” If a lyrical reference to the most awesome year ever wasn’t going to sell me, then the catchy hooks and euphoric 80’s feel good vibes would. This track is a follow up to the effortlessly cool, Courteeners-esque ‘Make You Mine’ and only helps catapult them further up the rankings to the forefront of indie pop. It’s fast paced tempo and dreamy melody personify summer. Although we’re not all fully able to enjoy the season like we normally would, PUBLIC manage to create a 3 minute 20 second escapism for us. Now I’ve tuned into these guys on Spotify, I can’t turn them off.

Raw and Refreshing. I can’t tell you how invigorating it is to hear a young female artist singing about something personal and meaningful as opposed to the dramas of social media or boys that don’t text back. Anna’s unique vocals carry the track. She keeps it very clean cut with minimal backing, allowing the strings of her guitar to shimmer through. You can hear the slide of her fingers down the neck of her instrument and I love that. It makes it feel real, like she’s giving a live performance to a crowd of one, you. It’s grittiness places her in the realms of a modern-day Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan, giving you all the nostalgic feels you need.

Hazel English - Wake Up
Hazel English – Wake Up Released April 24th 2020

This track and album of the same name has some seriously psychedelic 60s vibes. It touches on some important societal themes without offloading heavy trials and tribulations onto it’s listener. It’s summery easy listening, retro style indie-pop done well.