Indie pop band Janice Prix weren’t exactly accepted by their local crowd at first. Deciding to create synth heavy sounds with clean vocals and big pop hooks didn’t exactly endear them to their neighbourhood and a scene full of metal oriented bands. If there’s something the Swedes have always been good at, though, it’s creating good pop hooks…and so Janice Prix continued on their quest undeterred. Their debut EP ‘Nobody Would Know’ says so much about their determination as their talent. Its five songs are layered in synths and punchy drum loops, yet at the same time, there’s a huge sound and just enough guitar to endear them to the kind of people who expect their pop to deliver a bit more than a quick sugar fuelled hit.
Billing themselves as “pop core”, Danish band A Road To Damascus set out – in their own words – to create music that was “catchier than your average rock song” and yet “heavier than your average pop song”. Since there’s a lot of catchy rock based stuff out there (try resisting the huge choruses on Black Star Riders’ ‘Finest Hour’ or those gang vocals on The Fratellis’ ‘Chelsea Dagger’), they’d automatically given themselves a tall order, but one listen to their music is all that’s needed to understand what they mean.
Their 2019 EP ‘No Man Is An Island’ takes in all manner of twenty first century pop and lighter rock influences to create something very friendly. At its very best, it sounds like hugely sophisticated pop music aimed squarely at an adult market, but by keeping one foot in a vaguely rock-ish camp, they’ve created four songs that – although unashamedly pop – have a pleasing weight to them; a general oomph that would normally be absent from radio pop. The presence of vocal filters throughout is a constant reminder of their love of actual pop fare, but if you can make it past those, the EP has a lot to give.
French vocalist Emma Sand released her ‘Wonderland’ EP in 2016, but it would be another three years before a follow up would emerge. 2019’s ‘Door To Door’ concerns itself with various musical moods and champions itself as an aural road movie, with the vocalist taking the listener through a handful of musical styles along the way. Lovers of heavily reverbed, retro guitar sounds may well take an instant like to the material, but that’s really only just the surface noise on this particular road. The six songs featured here aren’t necessarily recordings you could love straight away. Sand’s big voice occasionally feels at odds with her band; on first listen, she’s just too loud…but given time to adjust, at least two of these songs slowly unveil themselves as being fairly smart adult pop.
A collection of songs that melded jazz melodies with swathes of contemporary soul, Eleni Drake’s debut EP ‘Blue’ had a lot of crossover potential and was a release that lent itself well to evening listening. With a lot of the music straddling the kind of sounds you might find during the softer parts of a Solange Knowles record and the laid-back electronica of Zero 7, it seemed so contemporary for the time of release and promised well enough for a potential follow up.
Steve Hewitt is a singer-songwriter from Kent whose previous works have gained some very positive reviews from singer-songwriter, folk and Americana fans, with particular praise for carrying such an American sound considering his very English roots.
His first full length album ‘Bigger Than Words’ presents a far more intimate sound than his 2015 EP release ‘Life Stories’. Lots of the poppier elements have been cast aside in a move for the better. With Hewitt baring his soul in a more stripped back fashion, the album largely works around a finely played acoustic six string and a big voice, although a few other embellishments help to give his personal songs a much fuller feel without losing any of the subtleties. …And even a couple of forays into adult pop are far more professional sounding than anything Steve has released previously.