Nadine Khouri – Tomorrow

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Often, during lockdown, positivity has felt like it’s been hiding. We grimly fixate on daily statistics, obediently join queues outside supermarkets like it’s a breadline in the final days of Communism, and try not to freak out when people start talking about similarities with the Great Depression.

It’s possibly a vain hope to think that a song could single-handedly lift us out of our collective malaise, but London-based Nadine Khouri’s cover of Annie’s plaintive ‘Tomorrow’, recorded at home, certainly did much to raise my sagging spirits.

Delivered in Khouri’s warm, enveloping, reassuring tone, her version of ‘Tomorrow’ is rendered as a gentle, optimistic folk song, replete with dreamy, subtle layers and a profoundly moving essence. Taking a ubiquitous show tune and turning it into an anthem of fragile optimism like Nadine has done highlights her imagination and dexterity as an arranger.

To accompany the song, Nadine asked her social media followers to send in footage (much of which was filmed from their windows) which was then assembled into a video to accompany the song. “I really wanted to do something directly involving others,” says Nadine. “I found myself really moved by these contributions, which kind of helped me retain my sanity between my four walls. If it weren’t obvious enough, this pandemic has really shown how interconnected we all are.”

Nadine Khouri’s cover of ‘Tomorrow’ is released through Bandcamp today.

Words: Mat Smith. With thanks to Shaun.

(c) 2020 Further.

First View: Precious – Monsters

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London fourpiece band Precious released their debut single ‘Monsters’ earlier this week. Consisting of intense, Rowland S. Howard-esque guitar shapes and a heavyweight rhythm section, the group embrace the dynamic atmospheres of post-rock, with frontman George Latinio-Butler delivering a vocal edged with a threatening urgency, framing lyrics concerned with innocence, mental health and addiction.

Today Further. presents the video for ‘Monsters’, reflecting the themes of the song using manipulated scans of guitarist Will Coath’s own brain.

“Using the brain is extremely poignant in relation to the song’s key theme,” says George Latinio-Butler. “It helps represent this in the best possible way – the monsters are inside each and every person, whether manipulating or torturing you, guiding you or biting you. It’s ironic that people are scared of fictional characters or animals when the scariest thing out there surely is the development of a person’s character over time.

“The music itself is presented as a journey,” continues Latinio-Butler. “It’s like a persistent voice to the painful choruses finally culminating in a crescendo, perhaps signifying a violent ending. The dream-like bridge represents the idea of Groove Child, almost like the inner child: cling onto the Groove Child, be wild, or be forever envious of that free spirit.”

Precious are George Latinio-Butler (vocals), Will Coath (guitar), Dan Preston (drums) and Dan Treacher (bass). Listen to ‘Monsters’ on Spotify.

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‘Monsters’ by Precious was released April 23 2020. ‘Monsters’ artwork by Maggie Fraser.

Interview: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

First Play: Matthew Barton – Christie Christie

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Today, Further. presents the first play of Matthew Barton’s new single ‘Christie Christie’, due for release tomorrow. Barton first hit our radar with the mesmerising ‘Orchid’, a sensitive slice of avant pop released earlier this year.

‘Christie Christie’ finds Barton in rockier territory while still showcasing a personal lyrical and compositional style that defies categorisation. “It’s a song about escape,” he explains, “whether that’s fleeing from a situation, another person – or yourself. Is the lyric an internal monologue, or an address from a lover? What has Christie done that means they must flee so rapidly? Or what has been done to them? Caught doing what? I wanted to explore in the song the meaning of loyalty (“the ties won’t sever but the will just might“), identity (“a misfit no more in a foreign land“), and memory (“inside I store the silhouette of your head in the light“) in the face of a seemingly urgent situation.”

Reflecting the inner anguish in the song, Barton’s evolving arrangement of keyboard, banjo and layered process is designed to augment the song’s themes of confusion, tension, conflict and paranoia while never letting his singular vocal style be subsumed. “I guess at its heart the song is about the ‘fight or flight’ impulse,” he says.

With dream-like artwork by the Dutch Expressionist artist Tinus van Doorn, ‘Christie Christie’ is another strange trip into Barton’s subconscious. Listen to ‘Christie Christie’ below.

Matthew Barton is currently working on his debut EP, which will be released by Knife Punch Records later this year. Barton has also contributed songs to some benefit compilations – Z-Tapes’ Hope For European Bedrooms to benefit DIY artists hit by COVID-19, and two compilations benefiting healthcare and community services in the wake of COVID-19: Brace Cove Records’ Quarantine Comp and Under The Counter Tapes’ Banders.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

First Play: Matthias – Hold Me (Matt Pop Radio Edit)

Matthias is Matt Danforth, a Canadian electronic musician known for producing upbeat music full of faithful synth sounds and brilliant, sparkling melodies; music that nods reverently in the direction of classic synth pop but without ever sounding like a pastiche.

His most recent single, ‘Hold Me’ features vocals from his frequent collaborator Mark Bebb (Andy Bell, Shelter, Form). The track includes one of Bebb’s most impassioned vocals in a career of impassioned vocals, here set to a gripping, happy-sad mood that’s the perfect complement to the vocals.

Following December’s single release, ‘Hold Me’ has been given stunning remix treatments by Further. Favourites Circuit3, Reed & Caroline’s Reed Hays with Phil Garrod (featuring a rare Moog and Hays’s distinctive cello), Darwinmcd, People Theatre, Nature Of Wires, MDA/ADM and the inestimable Matt Pop.

Today we’re pleased to bring you an exclusive first play of Matt Pop’s brilliantly-executed, high energy Radio Edit.

Hold Me – The Remixes by Matthias is released February 28 2020.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

First Play: Novelty Island – Saturn Alarms

Novelty Island is the brainchild of Tom McConnell, who hails from an indeterminate location somewhere in the north of England, and whose group may or may not be named after a Vic and Bob skit.

Featuring deft choruses, woozy retro synths and a wonky, space-age sensibility, Novelty Island released their debut single, ‘Magdapio Falls’ last year and follow that understated, singalong gem with ‘Saturn Alarms’ which will be released this Friday.

Both tracks feature on the debut Novelty Island EP, Welcome To Novelty Island, which is due to land in March. ‘Saturn Alarms’ is the counterpoint to ‘Magdapio Falls’s languid, laidback structure, being an urgent rush through the turbulent reaches of our solar system and the omnipresent sauce junk floating around out there, replete with catchy vocals and star-scraping electronics. The track was named after some inexplicable graffiti that McConnell spotted tagged onto his mother’s house in Liverpool, and thenceforth transformed into a retro-futurist pop monster.

Listen to the exclusive first play of ‘Saturn Alarms’ below.

Novelty Island play The Social, London on March 19 and Shipping Forecast, Liverpool on 26 March. Saturn Alarms is released January 24 2020 through Ditto Music.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

The Bassturd feat. The Fantastic Plastics – What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?

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When is it appropriate to stop listening to Christmas songs in the twilight period between December 25 and New Year? In our house, it’s only about now that we start going back to our old playlists, still slipping in the odd cheeky spin of a few festive Christmas classics if it feels like the seasonal spirit might be in danger of slipping away from us.

This is a long way of justifying why I’m only just getting around to writing about ‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’, a collaboration between The Fantastic Plastics and The Bassturd which forms part of the latter’s dizzyingly ambitious project 2019: The Year Of The Turd, which saw the secretive and industrious musician releasing a new track every single day in 2019. This track was number 337. Details on the full project can be reached through the Bandcamp stream below.

I didn’t do a rundown of my favourite albums of 2019, but if I had, The Fantastic Plastic’s sublime Malfunction from October would have been right up there near the top. I’ve followed this band since they first got in touch with me hawking their debut album Devolver in 2015 and their mix of high-energy pop, jagged guitars, retro synths and punky vocals has been a staple part of my listening diet ever since. As for The Bassturd, according to the bio, “The Bassturd was born, and now occasionally plays music. He does not care for deep house or cucumbers. Influences include alcohol, cigarettes, psilocybin and cats.” So there you go: not one for cucumber fans.

‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’ consists of brilliant, effortlessly evocative one-note synth melodies, obligatory jingle bells, an unexpected banjo conclusion and a chunky beat, all infused with a certain lo-fi charm. Topping that is the kind of infectious, wry and adept observational lyrics that Tyson and Miranda from The Fantastic Plastics have made their own, the lyrics covering everything from the disappointment at never getting kissed under the mistletoe to the perpetually-overheard statement that people seem to start putting their decorations up ever earlier with each passing year. At its heart, the song is a deft commentary on the over-commercialism of the modern Christmas, dressed, as The Fantastic Plastics know best, as a smart electronic pop song.

Listen to ‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’ at Bandcamp below.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

YOVA – Moondog

YOVA are a five-piece group centred around the hypnotic vocal of Jova Radevska, whose near-whispered delivery is inflected with an effortless, mesmerising post-R&B soulfulness.

On their debut track ‘Moondog’, Radevska’s haunting voice is offset by a shimmering, sparse accompaniment from Alex Thomas (drums), Grumbling Fur’s Daniel O’Sullivan (bass, Mellotron and programming), Martin McDougall (kalimba) and PJ Harvey acoloyte Rob Ellis on Ondes Martenot. The result is something rooted in earthly concerns of forgiveness and emotional upheaval yet positioned with a grandeur that is entirely astral in its breadth.

Presaging a remix EP in November and a full album in 2020, YOVA today revealed the hauntingly noir Christian Barnett-directed video for ‘Moondog’, draped in vintage monochrome texture and jerky motion reminiscent of the earliest silent movies. Watch the video below.

Words: Mat Smith