On the record

 

JIM CARROLLon music

On the indie side of things, there’s a line that a small number of labels are providing perfect examples for others to follow. For instance, I’ve lost count of the number of pieces I’ve read about how XL Records have bucked every trend in the business. The latest such piece is a report on US National Public Radio’s Morning Edition about the “record label with a Midas touch”.

The reason for the focus on Richard Russell’s label comes down to the runaway success of Adele and attempts by pundits to try to explain how it happened. There are also efforts to draw lessons for the wider industry from how the west London label, with a small, bespoke roster, operates.

In truth, it’s rather simple. As with other indie labels that have lasted a long time, it comes down to a belief in talent. (Laurence Bell’s Domino Records is another fine example, it has just launched the Domino Drop membership scheme.) Sometimes, it doesn’t work out (the XL biographies always gloss over the label’s dealings with Azealia Banks, for example) but, more often than not, the label and the act come to the same way of thinking about what’s going on and how best to develop that talent.

The what-aboutery and attempts to extrapolate a model from the XL and Adele story misses the point. You can’t simply replicate what happened with 21. The lesson is the same as it ever was: it’s about spotting talent, developing acts and trusting your instinct.

New music

STUBBORN HEART

London-based duo Luca Santucci and Ben Fitzgerald have been sending many into quiet raptures with glorious lovelorn tunes such as Need Someone. New EP for Kaya Kaya, Knuckledown, is equally alluring, with heartbreaking vocals, striking electronic soul bleeps and some squalling seagulls in the mix.

Stubbornheart.com

WE WERE EVERGREEN

Sweet gleeful, layered, sunny, lo-fi pop from a French trio armed to thrill with a battery of instruments, including ukulele, banjo, toy piano, kazoo and glockenspiel. But don’t write them off as tweecore: tracks such as Second Hand and Summer Flings come with mighty hooks that linger long in your memory. Wewereevergreen.com

NORTH SIDE DRIVE

Eerie, evocative, graceful piano and strings from Former Monarchs drummer Jonathan Pearson which will remind you of the minimalist panache of Hauschka and Nils Frahm. Look out for the Corkman’s debut EP in the coming months.

Breakingtunes.com/ northsidedrive

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