To people of a certain age (probably a touch older than me and a touch younger than Frank Black) Sub Pop will always be synonymous with Grunge. Formed in Seattle way back in 1986 signing the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden, around the turn of the 1990s it gave the world that fresh new sound grunge…and god don’t we know it, everyone bangs on about it like Sub Pop never did anything else, well guess what they did?! They actually released a lot of record far better than anything Soundgarden ever trudged up and yes I’m going to say it better than anything Nirvana ever did too!
This is not some sort of grunge smear campaign, of course not, time and place and all that. Sub Pop moved on and so did the world! Like all the best labels they move with the times and have released countless wonderful acts in numerous genres. They gave the world Beach House, took Fleet Foxes from folk anomaly to major global players, and took The Shins from that band on Garden State to the top of the American music charts.
Fans of noisy stuff though don’t panic just yet, yes they may have meandered into some what tuneful for a time, however they also are still the power house at the centre of the scuzzy noise universe. For every Postal Service making electronic you can dance to, there’s a No Age making wonderfully inaccesible drone Shoegaze. For every hushed folk meets avant garde noodling Iron & Wine create there’s Metz making a beautifully grungey racket in the background. So basically don’t worry people Sub Pop have got you covered..
NEW TO ME – NEW TO YOU: LYLA FOY
25-year old Londoner Lyla Foy used to be know as WALL but presumably realised that her own name had more of a ring too it than a pile of bricks and mortar. Live she’s joined by a band but on the record it was largely just Lyla for the most part and her band for some final spit and polish. Her band consists of Oli Deakin (bass/keyboards), Andy Goodall (Drums) and Dan Bell (guitars/keys)
Her songs start off life as layers of beats, vocal melodies and keyboards, though the additions of some live drums, guitar lines and whatever else was lying about in Simon Raymonde’s studio lend a more human touch to proceedings.Vocally her’s is a subtle, breathy, whisper of a thing, and all the better for it.
London, although she decended on the countrysides across this fair isle to take inspiration for her new record, before heading back to the city to record it.
Like all solo artists it’s difficult to tap into the exact moment Lyla started making music. For several years she’d been buzzing around the London folk scene in various colaborations developing a name for herself. Her career going it entirely alone apparently started in early 2012, and as WALL she released various singles before the Shoestring EP landed in 2013. Now back under her own name she’s signed to Sub Pop. Her first single Easy came out at the back end of last year and her debut album Mirrors The Sky is following shortly.
There’s a beautifully, simple, subtle approach to Lyla’s music. She never clutters her tracks with overcomplicated arrangements, and gives her voice room to hunt out a melody.Uncut recently compared her to Lana Del Rey and whilst I can see the comparisson to an extent she’s less dramatic, and I’d suggest Marissa Nadler is a more accurate comparisson. She balances the organic and electronic sounds on the record beautifully and the contrasts between them are a key element. As Sub Pop themselves put it “the vibe of Mirrors To The Sky is restrained romanticism and dreamy drama” a rather neat little sound bite and an accurate one too.
You could almost copy and paste the why section. It’s sometimes a tad too restrained, a touch too dreamy and you want her to let loose a little rage every now and then rather than always being so mellow. It’s a personal choice thing, personally I’d like it a little rougher arround the edges but ultimately she’s picked her sound and done a very good job of creating it and for a young artist starting off in the business she’s a very impressive one.
Lyla Foy’s debut album Mirrors To The Sky is out on Sub Pop record this Monday, 17/3/14