HumanHuman is proud to announce our very first showcase featuring Hanging Valleys, Matt Maltese and ROCH. As anyone who is familiar with HumanHuman will know we’re a close knit community of music lovers brought together by an obsession for discovering the best in new and emerging talent. On September 2nd we’ll be taking that communal feeling and musical appreciation into an intimate live setting in cooperation with Born in Antwerp.
Free entrance [RSVP on Facebook]
Friday, September 2nd at 8pm
Hoofdkwartier Born in Antwerp
Kattendijkdok-Oostkaai 21, Antwerp, Belgium
The first of our three showcase acts we’d like to introduce you to is Hanging Valleys, the London-based trio made up of Thom Byles, Mike Phillips and Alexis Meridol. English-Mexican singer-songwriter and Promising Artist Byles formed the band earlier this year, seeking to expand his own project and building on the ambient sound of previous releases like “The Great Outdoors” and “In Your Blood”.
“Endless Waves”, the first single to be released under their new name, has been accompanied by endless waves of appreciation for a song that takes Byles’ signature folksy atmospherics on a journey through highs and lows peaked by a searing electric guitar riff. The combination of a steady tambourine rattle and those searing strings is one we haven’t come across before, but here, amidst the steel guitar plucks and soft percussion, it just works. One laudatory listener, namely Going Solo writer Giacomo Cortese, picks out “Byles’ percussive guitar playing [which] deserves a mention too, since it’s the glue that keeps the entire song together.” True, however we also must spotlight band members Mike Phillips, who adds harmonious support vocals and that fiery electric guitar, and Alexis Meridol, who enriches the whole track with a plethora of beats and samples.
Listening to “Endless Waves” (on repeat, we might add), it’s no wonder that fans have come rushing forth with comparisons to José González, James Vincent McMorrow and, of course, Bon Iver. The band has only shared the one track so far, but after receiving plenty of blogopshere praise and even performing in Mexico City back in May, Hanging Valleys is a must-see act, especially if that means the opportunity of hearing unreleased material.
Originally from the English town of Reading, piano-playing songwriter Matt Maltese made the move to London where inspiration found him through the observations of that restless city. The result was his debut EP, In A New Bed, an emotionally steeped collection of four tracks that require/call for immersive listening in order to experience the detailed narratives Maltese portrays.
The opening single “Studio 6” is particularly potent with imagery as Maltese painfully reflects on a prior relationship. Rich in sentiment, the past and present sidle up alongside each other from the very first line: “I see two lovers kiss on the street by studio 6, / and I remember the petrol thick mist we settled on our lips.” The whole track is woozy and downtempo, enhancing the sense of searching through the haze of memory with a glass of wine in hand. It’s a song for anyone who has felt the sting of heartbreak and the mourning for that lost love that follows. Fellow fan Euphoria Magazine, also picks up on this reminiscence, “The song is perfect for late nights when you’re missing happier and simpler times. Romantic and sentimental, the sheer emotion comprised in this one is absolutely moving.” His music is an open invitation into his personal history, with no forced feeling the EP is an organic entity.
The hushed nature of Maltese’s vocals are more than an atmospheric audio embellishment, but the muted tones come directly from the demos which were recorded late at night in the 20-year-old’s bedroom, and so the half-whispered words were so he would not wake his housemates. This intimate quality is seemingly translated into a live setting, as we can see from the live version of demo song “Even If It’s a Lie”. His upcoming performance for HumanHuman promises to be one to cherish.
ROCH was born out of a desire to combine two sides of one artist - the visual and musical. The individual behind the project has yet to offer up her name, but what we do know is that the 21-year-old is a sculpture student at London art school Central Saint Martins. This artist’s fascination with visceral art is apparent through her Tumblr page, but also through the dreamy pop of ROCH. For this emerging talent, observing other’s creativity is intrinsic to her songwriting: “I'm inspired by what goes on in the studio, what people are making and talking about. I'm also filming constantly, my practice is performance and video based, so filming helps to inspire lyrics” (via The 405).
While ROCH’s performance and video practice materializes as upfront, featuring bold colours, playful statements and the naked human form, her music is a much more muted affair. The primary subject of love is handled with care, no more so than in debut “Closer”, an impassioned voice-and-guitar-led plea. Following on from this her music begins to take on a more headstrong tone, thanks to a brooding melody and the punchy drums through “Kintsugi”. The subversion into indie-rock does not mean this artist/musician has left the romanticism behind however, something we can interpret clearly in her latest single “Vienna”. As described by discoverer Wonky Sensitive on the blog, “‘Vienna’ is a delicate yet emotional soul-pop ballad that will no doubt leave you in awe.” It’s that awe-inspiring sound that struck a chord with our users leading to a flood of agrees and the inevitable Promising Discovery label.
Without much in the way of official video content, for appeal of ROCH is the unknown. Although some amateur footage from this year’s London Calling suggests her live set will be as crystalline and poised as the music itself.