Entering The Scene: Four Rising Talents

7ebra – ‘I Have A Lot To Say’ (PNKSLM)

Up in Sweden, excitement has been brewing for quite a while about 7ebra. The Malmö twin sister duo have racked up plenty of prestigious gigs and international hype this year, despite only releasing a couple of songs so far, and have many people already predicting them to be the ironclad non-tinpot breakout stars of next year. Upon listening to one of those songs, I Have A Lot To Say, it is easy to see why. It is a little bit of a funny song – a colourful indie-rock jigsaw where the pieces don’t quite fit, and need a little jamming into place. That’s part of its charm – from the nervous, shoe-shuffling vocals to the wandering, Lego carousel synth-line, nothing is quite what you expect it to be, and that makes it all the more interesting and fun. They have got a creative spark about them that very few bands do. (Austin Maloney)

Gallipoli – ‘My, My’

As a music journalist, you do not expect much opening a promotion mail that headlines Bon Iver meets Sigur Ros, expect yet another click-baiting attempt. Well, lucky for me I opened that mail and even gave LA-based newcomers Gallipoli a listen, otherwise I would not have stumbled onto this set of cinematically arranged songs that make up their debut EP On Vodno, of which the track My, My is one of the most luminous sequences.  Aman Sheriff and Lucas McCone, the heads behind the project, wrote the songs for the EP during the 2020 lockdown, where the two both lived in North Macedonia for half a year. Built around the concept of writing music for a film, the EP airs a wintery, melancholic feel, building up mighty façades of sound from the core of the solitary confinement of which they arise. My, My, in that manner, starts off with sparse acoustic guitars, only to soar up into an explosive finale, full of melody, full of guitar-drenched orchestration and filled with the energy of someone waking up after an insomniac arrest. (Andreas Peters)

Vitesse X – ‘Us Ephemeral’ (100% Electronica)

For once I gotta thank the Spotify algorithm. I fell asleep while listening to Tess Roby’s brilliant new album Ideas Of Space and woke up to Us Ephemeral by Vitesse X which was picked due to a certain similarity, it seems. The title-track of this year’s debut LP from New York-based producer Jordan Stern is a tremendous piece of shimmering synth-pop; bright and ethereal her voice rights the tender breakbeats like a warm summer breeze. I love the early 90s retro rave flair here as you should know by now. The whole album is pretty lovely as well, so needless to say I’ll keep my eye on Vitesse X for whatever happens next from this talented women. (Norman Fleischer)

EVÎN – ‘Golden Days’ (EVÎN)

EVÎN created two beautiful EPs in 2022. Her sense of composition is outstanding. By combining RnB and Turkish/Kurdish rhythms through the inclusion of traditional Darabuka and matching it with strings and her soft voice, bridges the gap between love and hurt. On Golden Days she reminisces on past moments, earnestly and ironically at the same time. The lyrics are simple and effective: So much I cried / Full moon on a cloudy night / What did I know? / Gotta go / Makes me hide upon the sea / No I gotta find that note for myself”. I’m looking forward to EVÎN’s debut album. (Anna Stich)


Three Surprising (Re-)Discoveries

Real Lies – ‘Dream On’

British two-piece Real Lies have created a buzz with their 2015 debut Real Life, at least in the blogosphere. But guess who definitely overlooked that album despite the fact that it perfectly fitting to my musical taste? Yup. It took the band seven years to release a follow-up and now it immediately clicked with me. Lad Ash is an album full of blissful rave-infused synth-pop, clever storytelling and a nod to the former greatness of British pop music. Kevin Lee Kharas and Patrick King celebrate that forgotten understanding of pop as an art concept with dignity and determination. Dream On is the key single from that album, a song like a forgotten radio pop gem from 1993, carried on fluffy break beats and bright synthesizers. Only rarely do I feel such a level of nostalgia with a brand new tune. It truly was a soundtrack for my summer. (Norman Fleischer)

Stella Explorer – ‘Gold Rush’ (YEAR0001)

Swedish sextet Brödet were a great, albeit short-lived band, so it was sad to see them disappear after their 2018 EP Darling. Happily, one of their number re-emerged last year, with vocalist Stella striking out solo as Stella ExplorerGold Rush contains a shadow of Brödet in its shivering beat and Explorer’s show-stopping vocals, but it’s more musically omnivorous, swallowing up other genres and making them its own. A house-inflected piano leads this torch song as it cuts a light through the darkness, and you can catch more strange magic like it on her debut EP Dorkay House(Austin Maloney)

Stars – ‘Capelton Hill’ (Last Gang Records)

I fell in love with Canadian indie-pop veterans Stars one and a half decade ago and as surprising as their comeback this year with From Capelton Hill after five years, as remarkable was the imprint that this record and in particular the title track Capelton Hill still managed to leave. Encapsulated in retro-tinged harmonies and a strong 80’s allusive feel, this record is about going back to its roots while holding on to the belief, that such sentimental journeys are the very initiation of any new beginning. Capelton Hill precisely exercises that turn to the past and visualises in quite the picturesque way how to balance nostalgia and taking action in the here and now. “The end never ends / it just might not last / but it’s a start”, it resumes towards the close of this larger-than-life drama, while holding on to the spirits of the past: “I told you we were here to fight / I told you we were here to sing”, one passage goes. And it seems that this has been the credo of Stars altogether, writing underrated anthems like that, more than twenty years into their existence.


On Repeat: Four Long-Lasting Favourites 

Black Sea Dahu – ‘Transience’ (Mouthwatering Records)

Technically already released in late 2021, I only took full notice of this power-play diamond in the wake of this year’s I Am My Mother LP release by the Swiss indie-pop outfit Black Sea Dahu and in what an enduring way indeed. A meditation on the mystery of time and a lost love, Transience invites us on a 6-minute-journey on the strange delirium that lies in losing yourself in between reality and dream and how it feels when you lose the connection with yourself and the people and places you call home. Music remains the force to bring all of that into place again, as singer Janine concludes at one point in “now music takes me places oh just like you”. Overall an impressive statement of a pop tune turned full orchestral, Transience starts off in a slow fashion with just acoustic guitars, only to expand its sonic scope, developing into a full-blown symphonic work of wonder that leaves no stone unturned and probably no heart untouched. (Andreas Peters)

Arctic Monkeys – ‘Sculptures Of Anything Goes’ (Domino)

Alex Turner is back down to earth, but his lounge singer shimmer has been forgotten somewhere along the way. The in-space antics of Arctic MonkeysTranquility Base Hotel & Casino may have smudged slightly the sense of fractured disconnect that ran through its lyrics, when that sensation re-emerges on follow-up The Car it’s more bare and simple. The icy, towering Sculptures Of Anything Goes is a stand-out – and in it we meet mixed messages, a person you guess you’re talking to, for want of anyone else, and canvases, which are of course, blank. What it all means is left to Turner and no one else – you can muse about feeling lost in a society that offers endless choice, endless entertainment, endless self-expression, and not a lot else. But to do that is probably as useful as looking in your toast for images of Christ, or maybe Chris Waddle, depending on taste. It’s an instantly striking, powerful song, but Sculptures of Anything Goes retains its inscrutability. Something that rewards repeated spins. (Austin Maloney)

Björk – ‘Atopos’ (One Little Independent)

Atopos can mean “unusual” or “out of place” in Greek. The song encourages listeners to deeply connect with each other as well as the environment. Being the first single of her 10th studio album, there was a lot of anticipation and hope attached to Björk’s latest work and Atopos doesn’t disappoint. She described the record as biological techno and orientates herself on Roland Barthes’ ideas on collective optimism – a facet of life I often miss in (social) media and the art world at the moment. The track is a kinetic firework rising with Gabber elements and Björk’s voice exclaiming more and more loudly: Are these not just excuses to not connect? / Our differences are irrelevant / To insist on absolute justice at all times / It blocks connection”. To me, it is also a manifesto against generalisation, black-and-white thinking and how difficult it seems to be to accept each person for who they are instead of defining them by their (past) mistakes, without being judged harshly as well for choosing forgiveness and acceptance. Björk’s message is, and has been, different archetypes of love and reminding her listeners, and probably herself, that each part is valid and valued. (Anna Stich)

HAAi & Jon Hopkins – ‘Baby, We’re Ascending’ (Mute Artists Ltd.)

When I think back at the past year I guess the aspect of euphoria was a subtle key theme throughout 2022. The post-pandemic euphoria of gigs still happening, clubs opening and festivals taking place as well as the joy of surrounding yourself with your loved ones. It was a social counter reaction to the lockdown months, all obviously happening in the wake of a raging war and impending climate collapse. All these existential elements and thoughts truly come together in a song like Baby, We’re Ascending which HAAi so perfectly crafted together with Jon Hopkins. It is an epic rave anthem, pumping yet quite dreamy, ecstatic yet also very emotional – it’s one of those rare moments where electronic music moves me (usually Mr. Hopkins plays a part in those moments) and a fitting tune to sum-up the overloaded craziness of 2022. (Norman Fleischer)


Want to stay on track with our song recommendations in 2023? Make sure to follow our ‘Daily Tune‘ playlist over on Spotify. Don’t miss it.