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Charlie Marshall

This week, Bro Radio's featured track of the week comes from a songstress who goes by the name of Hemes. She brings us her debut track, entitled "Breathe", full of intelligent textures that piece together like a jig-saw, coupled with harmonies sweeter than honey and beautifully heartfelt lyrics. This all blends together in a glorious mixture to create a really strong first outing in this artist's career.

We're strapped into this ride by some bright keys, which are shortly joined by a vocal texture that is what cream is to strawberries. However, the gentle atmosphere created via the luscious reverb here is only mirrored in Hemes' lyrical work, as the punchy, clock-like track interrupts the dreaminess of the brief intro. A simple three-chord loop that perpetuates for the entirety of the track compliments Hemes' perfectly mixed vocals for this electro-pop bop, as Hemes demonstrates her skill for melody setting, cleverly combining both smooth and skippy rhythmic patterns. On the whole, the textural diversity of the track shows real creativity, with various lashing of well-timed distortion in some elements, coupled with various percussive mix filler and energy-inducing risers. Hold on to your producer, Hemes, this is great work!

The start of the chorus in this track really is the highlight of the song. The thick intertwining harmonies reminiscent of Imogen Heap really dials the track to 11, whilst ensuring that I'll be annoying my girlfriend later by singing this hook under my breath whilst scrolling through instagram. My hope is that in future works Hemes explores her natural talent for harmony in depth, as her potential is really quite exciting.

The lyrical story here speaks to a desire and lust for escapism, and an unapologetic thankfulness for that person that helps Hemes achieve that, particularly when the curse of the human condition comes into play. Hemes sings "You know it's hard to breathe underwater", a relatable metaphor to most audiences who have ever experienced that caged in feeling of inescapable anxiety. Hemes as a lyricist is quite clever in her simplicity, a truth speaker. "All that I need is to see your face, you make it all okay, and it goes away" Hemes continues. The connection she achieves with the listener from sheer relatability allows for each person to apply their own personal experience to this track, thus ensuring a few taps of the repeat button.

"Breathe" is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube, whatever floats your boat, and if you'd like to keep on top of what Hemes is getting up to, she's findable on all social media platforms. As for myself - subscribed!

Last week, Bro Radio’s local artist of the week was Welsh female singer/songwriter Macy with her brand new track "Rainbow Eyes". Any fan of Dua Lipa-style, brightly textured pop tunes is sure to feel at home with this track, which definitely earns itself a click of the repeat button.

At the beginning of the track we hear what sounds like an old video tape being started, an opening that makes much more sense when you watch the music video, which, like this track, is super colourful and matches some of the more 80s style vibes we get from certain textures in the track, particularly the juicy wah in the guitar counter-melody.

In keeping with those 80s vibes, Macy’s lyrical subject matter for the songs focuses on describing a passionate love affair like a drug. “You’re like a bad addiction with good intentions, I can’t give you up” Macy sings in the chorus of the track, continuing to say “tripping without you, so high”. Whilst the instruments texture of the track and happy, innocent pop, the lyrics take on much more mature themes if you really delve deep. Coupled with the visuals provided in the music video (which I highly recommend to give a watch), it’s almost a psychedelic experience.

Giving focus to Macy’s crisp on intoxicating vocals, the verses of the track keep it simple with not much going on. The slow stomping steps of the kit give this track a confident swagger the forces a smile and definitely a hip swing or two. The rich, cleanly mixed bass present through the whole track is a driving force that adds a strength to the track in sections where the texture is more sparse, but also blends perfectly and isn’t overpowering in moments where the track thickens out, particularly at the ever-popular “pop-drop”, where we’re treated to some guitar that brings serious groove to the huge summer track.

We were able to chat the Macy about her new track, and she seems just as excited about it as we all are. We asked Macy what the story behind this finger clicker was, and she had this to say:

"I’d really like everyone to have their own interpretation of this track, but for me I was walking around during the first lockdown, and like everybody else saw all the rainbows about in windows. I thought it would be great to write a song about them."

Naturally through the pandemic, music collaboration has been extremely hard and damn near impossible for a lot of artists. We asked how she got around this obstacle when writing Rainbow Eyes:

“I’ve been collaborating with other artists over zoom. I actually got used to writing music over zoom so much that I’ve written tracks in 25 minutes. My producer would play idea and we’d just write over the top of it”.

If you’d like to hear more from Macy, she’s findable on all streaming platforms under Macy, and social media under the handle @macymusic. She also confirmed with us that she will be releasing another track at end of July, which will be the 3rd track from EP, entitled sweet honey. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for that!

What do you get when you mix societal commentary, no nonsense feminism, lots of reverb and a sprinkling of profanity? You get Greta Isaac’s monster of a track ‘How To Be A Woman’, and let me tell you, it’s no joke.

With this track, you’re hooked from the off. We’re greeted by an arpeggiated choir sound reminiscent of Coolio, and texturally the slight distortion, vinyl-esque crackle and heavy reverb providing the listener with an intriguing yet eerie opening few seconds.

After an 8 bar system, we’re swiftly slapped in the face with the first lyric, “Look pretty, shut up”. This opening sentiment from Greta, 26, sets the narrative for the track which is none too familiar for all female listeners with a social media account, and let's face it, working lungs. So as not to detract from the important subject matter of the opening lyrics, the production here takes a back seat with a simple bass and kit duo to support the singer’s delicate tone.

From here the track develops, harmonies lending a thickened texture to the vocals as Isaac bounces along one note saying “Remember just as long as you stay unhappy yeah, that’s good for me”. Wether she’s speaking through the lips of societal construct or an abusive partner, you choose.

I opt for the former as we launch into a pre-chorus with a real sense of rising energy. The heartbeat of the buildup comes in the form of an on-the-beat kick drum, driving us forward with eager anticipation toward the satisfaction of a chorus. But first we’ve got some serious lyrical content to swallow. “Say you’ve got my back and then you fail me” speaks to me of a young woman who is surrounded by societies unrelenting tendency to throw ideals of conventional beauty in her face at every turn, but is the first to tear her down if it even catches a whiff of individuality. “You win, I dont know a better way to do this, is there a book on how to be a woman?” Isaac desperately cries, screaming honest relatability to anybody that’s craved guidance on coping with the incessive scrutiny of the world we live in.

Next, we arrive at the chorus. But instead of the big pop-drop we were all expecting, we get pure, accented confidence. Calling back and forth with the bass and drums we heard in the verse, Greta proclaims “All I know is I dont ever wanna be you”. For me this screams refusal to conform to the system, a pushback on the conformity. Very punk-rock.

In classic pop style, act two propels forward in much the same way as we were treated to originally, but if it ain't broke don’t fix it. However this time during the verse, much to my satisfaction, vocals are dropped for a bit of spoken word. What sounds like an excerpt from a voicemail proclaims “we live in a society that preys on our deepest insecurities in order to drive perpetual economic growth”. As we swallow that truth bomb the familiarity of verse one returns, and we plough straight back into the sub-bass backed energy rising pre-chorus once again, further coloured by wonderfully bright octaves in the backing vocals, before skipping on through to the final chorus (twice over and with an f bomb for good measure). Texturised with a familiar counter-melody first heard at the track’s genesis, the final revolutions of a chorus I’ll be whistling as I work all week book end brilliant track from this talented and inspiring young woman.

Focal points? Lyrical depth. Gripping production. Textural diversity. I know I’ll definitely be keeping on top of whatever Greta has to offer up next. What about you?

Last week’s Local Artist of the Week on Bro Radio featured the lighter-waving, all-round foot-tapper of a track, “Pale Moon” from Don Ya Ya, or as others may know him, Owen Powell from Wales’ very own Catatonia.

The story - one we all know and have a love/hate relationship with; the late night walk home. AT least, that’s my takeaway from this smooth flowing Rock ballad.

Be it a late shift, movie night with a friend, or the latest check-in at the local, we’ve all taken made the journey home under the watchful eye of the great lunar lamp. ‘Pale moon my only friend, pale moon until the end’ sings Don Ya Ya, pleading with his dear friend to guide him on his way, whether that be an emotional or physical path is for you to decide.

The introductory reverberated drum kit acts as a spokesman for the vibe of this number, setting the tone early on for what is a catchy, uplifting and somewhat anthemic piece of music. The continuous, deep thud of the kick drum throughout the verse paints the picture of many hundreds of feet stamping rhythmically along to this track in a field somewhere, arms raised high and waving in appreciation, whilst the odd pair of hips sway metronomically to the steady four chord repetition we hear from a very rich electric piano.

As we progress into the chorus, the desire to sing along becomes increasingly difficult to resist, as simple yet effective harmonies annunciate the titular lyric “Pale Moon”, and falsetto adlibs drag us deeper into the ambience of the track, as though communally we stumble hand in hand with Don Ya Ya down an empty street, gazing up at the Earth’s night light.

As the track texture strips back, Don Ya Ya expertly captures the imagery of the night sky with a falling high register keys fill; twinkling stars smiling down on him as he smiles back at his lunar love, bringing us back for a final verse and chorus rotation, and edging closer to the inevitable 2nd listen…followed by many more.

Highlights? For me it’s the belt-it-back-to-me chorus and the strong melody setting. It’s the kind of track that when we’re (forgive the cliché) “back to normal”, I’d love to listen to with a beer in my hand and the other round a mate’s shoulder, drunkenly slurring “Pale Moon” just a little bit too loud for the people standing in front. The lyrics work in a way that I think would communally resonate for their relatability, because who can honestly say they’ve never looked up at the night sky and said “God, look at the moon tonight! Isn’t it beautiful”.

This week, Bro Radio’s Local Artist of the Week featured track comes from Ferndale singer/songwriter, Foxxglove.

Bad Timing’, an alt-pop flavoured ballad with it’s lens on the 23 year old artist’s personal experience with the age-old story of boy pursues girl, girl falls for boy, boy’s straying eyes lead to heartbreak. What ensues are a relatable 2 minutes and 34 seconds of cleverly constructed lyrics, wistful piano, and a breakdown with a punch strong enough to knock out any scumbag’s two front teeth.

The track opens with a broad minor chord, imagery for the damaged heart that is most definitely on Foxxglove’s sleeve as she takes the lead for a very stripped back initial texture to the song. Her vocals are cleanly mixed and coated in a warm reverb, giving the track a spacious vibe, almost as if we were sat there with her on a window-sill, looking out over a cloudy autumn evening, rain drops pensively running down the glass, mirroring Foxxglove’s ‘glossy eyes’ lyric.

Glossy eyes, sugar coated lies’. “This was one of the first things that I wrote down, and I’m quite proud of it. It symbolises when someone is obviously lying to you, and I wanted to say that without actually saying it” Foxxglove told Bro Radio.

We hear this lyric recapitulate throughout the track, a constant throughout the clear progression of emotion through this track. As the texture builds, so does the fury; a clear development of the stages of some might call the least amicable of splits. This track expertly captures this development, bringing the audience along with the singer. “You can be angry, and frustrated and upset all at once. It’s just all those feelings into one” explains Foxxglove, and we all nod in agreement.

But Foxxglove gets her final say as the track comes to close, treating the subject of this track to what can only be described as a lyrical middle finger, assuring her former lover that ‘Now you’re all alone’ accompanied by an unresolved final chord. The phrase what goes around comes around certainly springs to mind.

Outside of the release of this soon-to-be road-trip sing-along track, Foxxglove (like the rest of us), has been coping with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I wasn’t really active during the first lockdown as I was in a state of shock trying to get through each day. Before lockdown I was gigging all the time, and I was hit hard by show cancellations” she candidly admits. But that all changed in lockdown 2.0 for her. “This lockdown has been hard, but I’ve been so productive, so something good has come out of it. I wanted to be as candid as possible as it was such a personal song, and I want people to be able to connect to it. That’s what I like to do when I listen to music; connect to it. It helps me out, and if I can help other people out with my music, that would be great.”

Bad Timing’ is available on all your favourite streaming platforms, and if you loved this track as much as I did, feel free to head over to Foxxglove’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages to keep up to date with new music and upcoming shows from her.

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