Conil – Strange Part of the Country
In the 1990s, there was grunge. Seattle bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden dominated the music (and fashion, but that’s for a different blog) of decade. They emerged as soulful, grating, and immediately identifiable “voices of a generation”. This year the nostalgia for grunge is rapidly taking over pop culture. After a listen to the debut album from London-based singer/songwriter Conil, one can’t help but recall the music styling of twenty years-ago Seattle. Called the “anti-James Blunt”, it is clear that Conil is establishing himself as a gritty and emotional artist. He has a great voice, at times clear and exhibiting impressive range, still with plenty of cigarettes and coffee gruffness. The single “Stoned” has a harder, mainstream rock sound than some of his others, and also feels a little more flat all around. “Years Between” is the most melancholy of the bunch, but better exhibits the vocal skill that is really the best part of the album.
Sounds Like: The Verve Pipe
Listen To: “Years Between”, “Grapevine”
Clare and The Reasons – Arrow
It is rare that something as cute as Clare and The Reasons contains as much depth and appeal. Brooklyn-based collaborators Clare and Olivier Manchon released their sophomore album, Arrow, in October. It is full of unapologetic-ally pretty songs that sound like the soundtrack to the movie of a downtown New York romance. With a sound that specifically executed it would be easy to write Arrow off as a bit of a gimmick, but that is just the very basis of its appeal. “You’ve Got Time” is a bit spare on the surface, a combination of Clare’s hypnotic vocals, few lyrics, and an undulating synth line, but gradually opens into a deep arrangement of strings and backing vocals. “Alphabet City” is a slow reminiscence with smart lyrics and an infectious chorus. There is a cleanness to the music, a deliberateness to its execution, that makes this album feel at once personal and appealingly commercial. There is also enough interest added throughout, from surprisingly powerful bass lines to actual whistling (!) to bear repeat listens.
Sounds Like: The Cardigans in France.
Listen To: Skip nothing. Devour it all.