I have often stated that we are experiencing a great time for music and one could argue that this is a golden era for it. But to find some truly great music can often take some effort, whether it’s methodically scouring through the many online e-zines and blogs, attending shows in the smallest cafés and bars, searching through the boxes of vinyl at the local record store, or coming across something in a magazine or newspaper. Then there are moments where the music finds you, where there’s an email inviting you to listen to something new. Or a new person or band follows you on Twitter and they send you a message to check out their latest effort. This was the case with today’s featured two acts from the UK. While the two are quite different in terms of genres, they have produced two excellent albums and definitely among my favourites of the year.
Admittedly, I am not a hip hop guy (hence the absence of contemporaries listed above), but Ceiling Demons’ music is fascinating. The band combines synth, rock, and R&B sounds with lyrics that are meaningful, personal, and uplifting. On their self-titled EP and their recently-released debut LP, Dual Sides, you won’t find songs about pimping rides nor womanizing; instead, the songs are about perseverance, self-discovery, resilience, and friendship.
Created back in 2011 to pay tribute to a lost friend, the band’s music permeates with the feelings of sorrow, sadness, self-destruction, but then the hope of a new day, positivity, and redemption. These feelings and the semi-autobiographical nature of the album makes Dual Sides a cohesive, concept album about life – telling stories about the ups and downs that we all experience each day of our lives yet at the end of the day we find something that motivates us to push on.
On “Journal”, the band sings about its own struggles to overcome the loss of their friend. A few songs later on “Closing the Journal”, the band sings about the days after, where there are only good times to come.
The groovy “Every Step is Moving Me Up” is an inspiring, uplifting song, but another that sees the band recall their struggles when dealing with loss.
When I finally sober up, I’ll be freed from the drugs
I’ll be free for your love
My best friends are long gone but I got runner ups
And every step is moving me up”
The North Yorkshire, UK band’s style has caught the attention of critics and fellow musicians alike. In its review of Ceiling Demons’ EP, Invasion Mag wrote, “(It’s) the only evidence we need to know that Ceiling Demons are going to have a resounding influence on the hip-hop scene.” But the legendary hip hop band, Arrested Development, may have said it best and explained why one should listen to this great album, “It’s great to hear hip hop with sincerity again”.
Ceiling Demons comprise of identical twin brother MCs Psy Ceiling and Dan Demon, with production from George Ruston. You can listen to the entire album on their Bandcamp site and purchase it there as well.
Maybe it’s the weather in England, as the country has a propensity to produce bands that make brooding, melodic, indie rock. Electric Litany is another one of these acts, whose sophomore LP, Enduring Days You Will Overcome, echos of Elbow and The Editors. However, it is unfair to say that they are strictly a brooding, indie rock band, as the quartet dabbles in other genres.
For instance, the opener “Intro” and “Hold Fast to Dreams” are synth-pop songs reminiscent of Porcelain Raft. “The Soul Remembers Everything” is taken out of the page of Interpol with its soaring opening followed by a slow burner of a tune as Alexandros Miaris’ vocals shimmer in the foreground.
The title track combines Middle Eastern textures, synth echos, and brooding indie rock to create an otherwordly feeling – hypnotic and mesmerizing. “In the Morning” is the opposite – a synth-pop-dance tune that closely resembles Washed Out’s atmospheric styles.
“Feather of Ecstasy” might the best track on the album. This understated indie rocker is suspenseful and tantalizing with the Benjamin Prince’s subtle keys, the stuttering percussion work of Richard Simic, and pulsating bass of Alex Deligiannidis. Frontman Miaris, who plays guitar on the track but also plays piano, synth, and cello on the album (he’s a classically trained pianist and composer), meanwhile, strums on lead guitar and his haunting vocals raise the song to new heights.
The album is not a concept one, but a diverse collection of brooding indie rock. It’s clever in its utilization of other instruments to create new tones and textures, possibly creating a new genre of music and a new generation of brooding rock bands.
Website – http://www.electriclitany.com/
Bandcamp – https://innerear.bandcamp.com/album/enduring-days-you-will-overcome
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElectricLitany
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ElectricLitany
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