Alice Merton – ‘No Roots’
To say Alice Merton’s ‘No Roots’ begins cautiously is not a criticism, but a testament to its confidence in its own ability to build into something magnificent. It doesn’t take long for the tentative riff that opens the British, Canadian, and German artist’s latest single to transform into perhaps this year’s most addictive hook, a groove that provides the perfect springboard for Merton’s voice to intercede and instantly captivate you with its crisp, breathy quality.
A song about heritage and home, this fierce battle cry is always on the move, with a wide array of backing vocals and instruments providing discordant choral harmonies that have a particularly enchanting vibe. And the way Merton says “Roots”… it’s like the most amazing vocal pirouette you’ve ever heard. The result is that ‘No Roots’ builds perfectly to its climax, and if you haven’t been dancing since the beginning, you surely will by the end.
Merton claims to have “No Roots”, but perhaps she has found them here in the hazy realms of alternative pop.
Duke of Wolves – ‘Teddy Boy’
‘Teddy Boy’ makes its point within twelve seconds of being introduced to your eardrums. Dark and brooding from the off, the track never descends into blind murkiness; throughout, it remains dynamic and varied both tonally and rhythmically- in the most part due to lead singer Jim’s ability to fluctuate between delicate falsettos and forceful roars with ease.
The upstroke guitar chords and Tom’s solid drums prevent ‘Teddy Boy’ – or the listener – from ever stopping for a rest. Listening closely, the backing vocals of Orlando and Sara are just as effective in the verse, where they add to proceedings with some delightfully delicate staccato notes, as they are in the chorus, where they increase the oozing track’s texture to thick as treacle. When this is coupled with the distortion that kicks in after the second chorus, the London-based band create a noise that you can’t help but want to see performed live.
And when the guttural scream comes at the end, it’s the textbook addition necessary to conclude an intense three minutes.
Liz Asaro – ‘1000 Years’
“I’m a mum and I make music”- Liz Asaro’s Twitter bio carries almost as much attitude as the music she creates. Dramatically anthemic, her new single, ‘1000 Years’, rocks with an abundance of reverberating synth and sliding, distorted guitar harmonics. But thankfully, Asaro manages to avoid losing you amidst the echoey chambers of this carefully constructed song. With a slightly Gaelic feeling to it, the subtle blend of modern rock becomes a real treat- a track that does its best to overpower you.
The chorus is where ‘1000 Years’ really stands out. The sudden emergence of the powerful tom-toms is hard to miss, and neither is the now-prevailing bassline. The vocals feel a lot more confident here than they do in the verse, where they sometimes come across as restrained rather then let free, so it’s great to see what Asaro’s voice is really made of, and the heights which it can achieve. There’s a real rustic twang to her voice that is so easy to love.
Hopefully ‘1000 Years’ is the beginning of an incredible journey for Liz Asaro.