Emerging Liverpool bands and musicians: a Pink Wafer guide
Liverpool has a rich musical history, with some of the most celebrated names in popular music emerging from the city over the years. In recent years, Liverpool has become closely associated with psychedelic music, playing host to the renowned Liverpool Psych Fest. Yet the Liverpool music scene is by no means confined within the realms of psychedelia. The city boasts a number of artists engaging with a myriad of different styles, from alt-R&B to experimental techno. Read on to discover some of the most exciting new talent that Merseyside has to offer in 2019.
Beija Flo’s unique artistic approach fuses expansive avant pop music with wild performance art. Reluctant to be bound to one genre or style, her repertoire encompasses off-kilter piano ballads, ambient soundscapes, and visceral art-rock compositions. Her live shows are something to behold, designed to overwhelm the senses with a rich display of colour, movement and sound. A recurring theme running through Beija’s artistic output is her depiction of MRKH syndrome, a rare congenital disorder which she was born with. She does this beautifully in her single ‘One of Those Things’ which builds from a simple ballad into a symphonic outpouring of frustration and acceptance.
Immerse yourself here.
Hannah’s Little Sister
The jagged, celebratory indie rock of Hannah’s Little Sister is a welcome new addition to Liverpool’s music scene. Their sound is refreshingly unpretentious and fun, with witty confessional lyrics sung in a broad Burnley accent. Their triumphant first single ‘20’ is a coming of age anthem for those experiencing their first awkward steps into early adulthood. The song lets rip with a wonky guitar riff before lead singer Meg describes the (all too familiar) ambivalent tendencies of a just-turned-20 year old. An accomplished and relatable first effort filled with intoxicating pop melodies.
Lap ’em up here.
On the weirder end of the spectrum, CURLY MOUTH creates bizarre psychedelic folk with hints of 1960s chamber pop. His recently released album Post-Mortem Depression combines solid songwriting with surreal wit and adventurous production techniques. The result sounds a bit like the lo-fi lovechild of Father John Misty and Ariel Pink. The album is a trip from start to finish, from the ambient haze of ‘Dr. Hugo Kitchen’ to the absurd acid-soaked merry-go-round ‘Everything’s a Metaphor for Everything’.
Climb aboard here.
Sensing that the Liverpool club scene had become stagnant, DJ and producer BREAKWAVE took it upon herself to shake things up. Inspired by the relaxed vibe of club nights in Berlin, she decided to start something with a similar atmosphere on her own turf. For the past three years she has been running her night Meine Nacht in unique disused spaces in and around Liverpool. She now holds a residency with NTS radio and runs the label Deep Sea Frequency with Or:la. Her genre-spanning DJ sets join the dots between breakbeat, acid house, techno, jungle and more.
Listen to her recent collaborative live set with Daniel Ruane performed at The Tate in Liverpool here.
Yank Scally creates idiosyncratic electronic music which draws on a diverse array of influences. Hip-hop and R&B are instantly recognisable as sources of inspiration, but listen deeper and you’ll hear the thrum of UK bass music and the infectious rattle of DnB. His recently released album There’s Not Enough Hours in the Day is a series of soulful vignettes which reflect the claustrophobia and introversion of an obsessive bedroom producer. Each track pursues a surprising number of musical possibilities, yet remains cohesive as a whole. A deeply collaborative and imaginative effort which is well worth a listen.
Check out Yank Scally here.
Strawberry Guy is riding the millennial chill-wave, creating blissed-out lo-fi pop with plenty of 80s nostalgia. His output is abundant with warm detuned synths, spacious beats and delicate vocals. Each of his tunes is tinged with a sense of longing and sweet melancholia. Wistful vocals drift over a gently pulsing haze of synths in ‘Without You’ while ‘What Would I Do’ has echoes of dream pop masters Beach House. A must-listen for secret romantics who like to indulge in quiet introspection.
M T Hall
M T Hall is a DJ, producer, and multidisciplinary artist who creates forward-thinking techno. She released her debut EP ‘NV’ on Pale Master earlier this year, featuring remixes by Kleft, Kepla and local stalwart Dialect. NV or ‘new voice’ refers to a synthesised ‘humanoid’ voice created by Hall with a Roland MC-505. This synthesised voice carves out the leading melody in ‘NV_I’ and ‘NV_II’, while in ‘NV_III’ the acid bassline sits in the foreground, weaving around blistering trance stabs and fluttering hi-hats. ‘NV’ is proof that Hall is adept at sculpting hypnotic soundscapes which could both occupy and transcend the dancefloor.
Give it a listen here.
Dan Disgrace is Liverpool’s answer to Kevin Parker, a talented multi-instrumentalist who creates synth-fuelled psychedelic pop. Yet the distinct, off-kilter vibe of his music sets him apart from your average KP wannabe. His reluctance to take himself too seriously is also a breath of fresh air amongst the legions of painfully sincere northern indie bands. He is a welcome addition to the roster at Eggy Records, a local label which is spearheading the revival of DIY music culture in Liverpool. Dan’s recently released single ‘Mush Cloud’ evolves from space-age lounge music into freak-out psych passages via sudden changes in tempo and vibe, while ‘Commission’ is a sparkly synthpop banger.
Check ’em out here.
Atatat is a drummer, composer and improviser who draws on elements of noise, prog, and free jazz. His album No Breeze in Space, made in collaboration with Ryoko Ono, is a cosmic synthesis of wild improvisation, unintelligible vocals, and tribal rhythms. “Missing Blast Crater” kicks off with a long, highly percussive drum solo accompanied by an oscillating synth drone. Around the 2:35 mark the track descends into a cacophony of bizarre vocals and fiendish sax solos. All in all, No Breeze in Space showcases some highly imaginative rhythms and impressive improvisational chops.
Blast off here.
Eyesore and the Jinx
The acerbic punk of Eyesore and The Jinx is largely a reaction to the political sinkhole which is currently engulfing the UK. Their recently released single ‘On an Island’ is a sardonic tirade against the evils of Brexit and consumer culture. Bassist and vocalist Josh Miller reels off a list of social commentary like a demented town crier. This is interspersed with a propulsive motorik beat and a cascade of tone deaf guitar solos. ‘On an Island’ was produced by Jonathan Hartley of Clinic and has already received airplay from Steve Lemacq on BBC Radio 6. Not bad for a band who are only three singles deep.
Check ’em out here.
Eggy Records recruit Bill Nickson crafts DIY indie-pop which is personal, pure, and immediate. He is part of a new wave of bedroom producers who adopt the retro aesthetic of 90s bands like Pavement and The Beta Band. But his songs offer more than just a glimpse into the past – they demonstrate his unmistakable ear for melody and arrangement. They are awash with jangly guitar riffs, double-tracked vocals, and a general vibe of warm nostalgia. The perfect soundtrack for backseat window gazing or late-night solitude.
Kick back and listen here.
The nuanced neoclassical compositions of Shai Li-Paldi invite listeners into a space which is both intimate and expansive. This is music without superfluous melodic or harmonic structures – each note is carefully placed and performs its function in an organic way. The eerie minimalism of ‘We Will Last’ has echoes of Erik Satie and is enhanced with a gentle analogue delay.
‘Interlude’ is more tactile and playful in feel while ‘Symmetrical’ has subtle electronic undercurrents. It may be early days for Shai-Li Paldi but she has already begun to develop an intricate sonic world which is distinctly her own.
Explore it here.
Originally hailing from upstate New York, iamkyami has firmly established herself as Liverpool’s quirky neo-soul queen. Her writing style sits somewhere between Erykah Badu and HOMESHAKE, combining elements of alt R&B, slick neo-soul, and lo-fi pop. Her self-produced debut ‘GAMES’ is a laid-back, life-affirming anthem for anyone experiencing the trials and joys of being single. The track kicks off with a reflective monologue and melts into a sequence of dreamy jazz chords, hip-hop inspired beats, and video game sound bites. A strong vocalist and songwriter bringing some fresh ideas to the table.
Check her out here.
Andrew PM Hunt aka Dialect is a producer and multi-instrumentalist who creates experimental ambient sounds. His debut vinyl release Loose Blooms is available via Forest Swords’ label Dense Truth. In it, he combines field recordings with pulsing synths and live instrumentation. The result is a collection of dense sonic textures and unique rhythmic structures which gradually morph and mutate into new forms. At times the tracks fall into a groove, but mostly they abandon any form of traditional metre or pulse. They maintain a spontaneous, unpredictable feel, reflecting the behaviour of the natural landscapes which served as inspiration for the album.
Check ’em out here.
Brad Stank writes sexy weirdo pop that makes you feel like you’re floating on a cloud of bong haze. His tunes hit the sweet spot between indie, R&B, and smooth jazz, continuing along the same vein as Connan Mockasin and his ilk. Brad’s debut EP Eternal Slowdown is abundant with sensual guitar licks, gauzy synths, and his husky baritone vocals (which can reach surprising depths). Each track demonstrates his knack for writing irresistible sunshine pop which hangs together effortlessly like a dreamy fog.
Drink it in here.
The Blurred Sun Band
The Blurred Sun Band’s meandering guitar-driven sound sits somewhere between indie-psych and jazz fusion. They should appeal to those who follow the burgeoning London jazz scene and modern psych outfits like Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Each of their tracks unfolds like a series of musical chapters, building tension through unexpected time signature shifts and face-melting chord progressions. They are decorated with bubbling synths and hypnotic riffs amidst a warm kaleidoscopic haze which lives up to their name.
Raft of Trash
In 2017, JC Leisure launched Pale Master, an underground electronic label and club night which explores the interactions between digital and natural systems. The label already has an impressive number of releases under its belt including two by Raft of Trash, the collaborative MIDI project of JC Leisure, Thom Isom, and Andrew PM Hunt. The trio gathers ambient sounds from the computer game SimCity 3000 to generate midi data which they then feed into synthesisers and samplers. The result is an intricate network of rippling sounds which slowly evolve and feed into one another, creating their own strange sonic ecology.
PISS KITTI combine fierce, unapologetic punk with strong DIY sensibilities, drawing inspiration from sounds of the 1970s. Last year they released their first collection of demos on cassette via local label Sasstone Records. Each track is a compact explosion of catchy hooks, fuzz-drenched riffs, and filthy lyrics. They clock in at 2 minutes each on average, continuing the great punk tradition of succinct, to the point songwriting. Their lyrical themes range from crass to socially aware, perhaps best exemplified by their glorious one-liner ‘suck my middle finger I’m a woman!’.
Give it a taste here.
The spectral sounds of enigmatic producer Jezebel are equal parts angelic and fucked up. She draws on elements of shoegaze, noise, and electro to create strange, cavernous sound worlds which fully envelop the listener. ‘Tatters’ is an ethereal gothic electro track which gradually evolves into darker and stranger territories. Her single ‘Throne’ has an apocalyptic vibe, with its slow, pounding beat, and torrent of feral synths. A riser to watch with a sound that sits somewhere between the familiar and the experimental.
Give her a listen here.
The Floormen create wonky psych infused with elements of krautrock, garage, and blues. Each of their tracks play out like a shambolic odyssey, with lush psychedelic passages descending into purposely discordant mayhem. ‘Tumbling, Rumbling, Stumbling, Bumbling along the Road’ is a rhythmic Krautrock jam with interlocking guitar parts, while the deliberate sing-song vocals of ‘Over and Under’ are reminiscent of Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd. A capable group of musicians who are adept at marrying the sounds of the 60s and 70s with the present day.
Tune in here.