Swoone – Handcuffed Heart

Formica Blues by Mono was one of my favourite albums of the late 90s.  Hearing “Silicone” on MTV 2 for the first time was enough to make me head down to HMV in Oxford St to buy the album, which had daily spins on my CD Player for a considerable amount of time.

So naturally, when I heard that singer Siobhan De Mare has a new project called Swoone and an album called “Handcuffed Heart” I had to check it out!

It’s a cracker of an album, suffice to say, if you like Mono or indeed other triphop acts such as Portishead, you won’t be disappointed by this album!

More Info:

Siobhan de Maré entered the UK charts reaching the Top 20 with her former band Mono, while track ‘Life In Mono’ was used for the soundtrack of the film Great Expectations featuring Robert De Niro and Gwyneth Paltrow. Siobhan went on to form Violet Indiana with the likes of Robin Guthrie, former guitarist of Cocteau Twins.

Now she returns to combine her sultry, seductive vocals with captivating music by Gary Bruce, to craft an album brimming with genuine emotions, depth and heartbreaking beauty. “

“Finally, the eagerly awaited debut album from the darkly sophisticated London duo, Swoone.

This is an album, brimming with quality, depth and heart breaking beauty. Siobhan Demare, who’s sensual and exquisite vocals, have been in demand by the likes of guitar legend, Robin Guthrie and 90’s chart toppers Mono, finally break free to create a breathtaking album of pure class. Here Siobhan is more in control, more expressive and in the finest song writing form of her career. Fans of her sultry delivery will also be mesmerised by her stunning melodies and poignant lyrics. Her beautiful voice conveys such intimacy it vividly populates a gorgeously rich and cinematic aural landscape. The music is deeply emotional and genuinely felt, not because composer Gary Bruce knows how to write and play this kind of music, indeed, the opposite is true, he has no musical training or knowledge. His keyboard has the notes written on them pencil and he slowly develops guitar chords from scratch! Instead of using musical theory Gary painstakingly creates a musical landscape navigated by feelings alone. It is this probing of the heart that produces music that is refreshingly genuine and instantly arresting.

Every song is a film in miniature, from a classic thriller, to David Lynch to european cinema. Think Portishead’s homage to John Barry with touch of 60’s soul and eno-esque colour. Every track is different, suprisingly so, with all the influences two eclectic souls have haunting their psyches. Ideas that have been fermenting for two lifetimes have matured into something sweet and rich. Diverse influences include 90’s trip hop, The Carpenters, Billy Holiday, dub, The Ronettes, shoegaze, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield, Chris Isaac, Donny Hathaway, Al Green and Pink Floyd! There is no following fashion here, just the love of feeling music deeply. Intriguing, yes it is. Can you hear these influences? Yes you can! And with such influences this is an album to cherish, an album that reveals more layers with each listen, an indie classic.
Wallow in the sultry vocals, heartfelt words, cavernous guitars, swelling strings and super cool beats. Just listen to to each perfect song to know that each one is a jewel, original and unique in its own right. Shine on Swoone!”

Handcuffed Heart by Swoone is released on 17th August 2018 on Saint Marie Records – pre-order here



Ekkoes – Kinetik

I caught Ekkoes earlier in the year when the supported xPropaganda at The Garage, new to me I none-the-less enjoyed their performance to decide that I should catch them again if I got the chance.

If you like synthpop, particularly mid-late 80s synthpop then you should definitely check them out.

More Info:

‘Synth pop with an artful edge…cool & crisp…ludicrously infectious’– Clash

‘Fresh and rather splendid – Popjustice

Like a looser, slightly emotionally drunk Hurts’ – Guardian

‘Epic, soaring excellence’ – ShortList

The first single from the album “You Got the Light” is out now, the album “Kinetik” follows on September 7th.

“London-based synthpop trio EKKOES return with their first new material in two years in the shape of the euphoric, rave-tinged comeback single ‘You Got the Light’, which hits ahead of the release of their highly-anticipated second album ‘Kinetik’, due 7 September on KIDS Records (The Wombats, Band of Horses, Paul Hartnoll, The Whip).

The band released their debut album ‘Elekktricity’ in 2016 with word of mouth building in electronic and pop circles as they supported The Human League on a full UK and European tour that winter. They followed this by supporting Erasure in the UK and Ireland earlier this year, as well as a pair of dates with the legendary German ZZT act Propaganda while they spent time in the studio. They have built a cult, but loyal and engaged audience, with ‘Kinetik’ set to be the record which announces them to the wider public.

EKKOES create beautifully-crafted pop songs, both melancholic and euphoric, underpinned by a dancefloor sensibility, with a sound that has been likened to New Order, Chvrches, Years & Years, The Pet Shop Boys and Hurts. Jon Beck and Limerick-born Rosalee O’Connell (who recently lent her vocals to the new Chicane album) are on vocals, while Dave Fawbert takes care of guitars, keyboards and programming.

‘Kinetik’ is a very deliberate reaction against a lot of the music which currently dominates the charts,” says Dave. “I have always believed that the way to stand out is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing, and so, because I was so utterly bored of the minimalism that is everywhere – with people afraid of making big choruses and constantly being introspective – we decided to go in completely the other direction – and aim for ‘maximalism’.”

“After the initial temptation to ‘go dark’, or to go more leftfield on a second album, we decided to throw the kitchen sink at everything and make it as big, bold and colourful as possible. It’s called ‘Kinetik’ because the majority of the tracks are upbeat and fast-paced, and the whole thing reflects the constant movement and energy that comes from living life in a major city.”

First single ‘You Got the Light’ demonstrates that sensibility perfectly, with rave pianos straight from the Hacienda, a giant chorus and an almighty groove providing a huge pop sugar rush perfect for the summer. The rest of ‘Kinetik’, once again produced and mixed by Fawbert, includes a stunning electronic ballad cover of Mega City Four’s cult 1993 track ‘Wallflower’, the Killers-esque anthem-in-waiting ‘Love Won’t Save You Now’, the seven-minute epic acid concept title track ‘Kinetik’ and the fragile, heartbreaking finale of ‘Nothing Here Lasts Forever’.

Having previously provided remixes for The Acid, Lana Del Rey, Sykur, British Electric Foundation and Kate Bush as well as an acclaimed – and unexpected – half an hour long re-edit of George Michael’s ‘Fastlove’, EKKOES are ready to move confidently forward with ‘Kinetik’.

Live dates:

September 10 – London, The Lexington (album release party)
September 12 – Sheffield, Cafe Totem (album release party)

Ekkoes Band photo by Dan Beck

Until next time!

Recommendations & Brief Introductions: John W. King
Photos & Main Info: PR