SWITLIST: Inner Ear Records

Inner Ear Records are celebrating their 10th birthday in 2017. The label is based in the Greek city of Patras. It began as a one-man project and is currently Greece’s leading indie music label (SWIT says one of Europe’s leading indie labels), home to some of the country’s most interesting new bands. Inner Ear is mainly focused on English-speaking alternative rock, pop and modern folk music but it keeps horizons and ears open to any other genre. We’ve featured a number of the bands you’ll find on the list here over the past 12 months and it is with great delight that we’ve listened to many more while putting this article together – their roster, past, present and future is really something to behold. We’d like to give a big thank you to The Inner Ear team who compiled the Spotify list and provided the photos and so on. We’ve done a track-by-track and band commentary below, and included YouTube clips where available.

Your Hand In Mine were two friends from Thessaloniki. Manos plays wurlitzer piano, melodica, toy piano, ukulele, accordion and does the programming, while George plays some guitar shaped toy synth, mandolin, zither, glockenspiel and hits random objects in his rhythmic kit.  Their classic “Every Night Dreams” was re-pressed is silver vinyl for Record Store Day 2017.

Egg Hell was a band from Athens, Greece. It consisted of Jef Maarawi (vocals, guitar), Dennis Morfis (guitar, backing vocals), Ekelon (electronics), Kostas Zabos (drums), and Kostas Vavousis (bass). While Egg Hell began as a moniker for songwriter Jef Maarawi’s music in 2007, it expanded into a five-piece band which is expected to release their first album “Once Part of a Whole Ship” (Inner Ear records) by the end of 2013. The band’s music could be described as maintaining its folk-rock roots and Maarawi’s lyrical idiosyncrasy, while implementing elements of psychedelic pop and electronic music. “Once Part of a Whole Ship” was Egg Hell’s (what a great name!) first-full length album. A lyrical statement about the conditional nature of hope, “Once Part of a Whole Ship” maintains thematic connections to the agony of being stranded on a raft. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Oh.  Jef has now gone solo and he just finished the recordings of his new album which will be release in Autumn 2017.

Moa Bones (aka Dimitris Aronis) is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, born in Athens. In 2006 he began to write and release his own songs under the name Palindrom in collaboration with artist Evangelia Xinopoulou (Miss Trichromi). In 2015 Moa Bones released the album “Spun”, from which the beautiful “Wake Up” is taken.

Coti K. is a musician, composer, sound engineer and music producer. He has played with various bands such as Film Noir, In Trance 95, RAW, Mohammad. As a producer he has worked, among others, with: Giannis Aggelakas, Pavlos Pavlidis, Diafana Krina, Raining Pleasure and Tuxedomoon. In 2014 he launched his songs project The Man From Managra, his second album “Half A Century Sun” was released earlier this year and was a SWIT Long Player Of The Week.

London-based band Electric Litany formed in the spring of 2007.They spent 3 years writing and rehearsing in derelict public buildings before recording their debut album live within three days in an abandoned church in North London. Their long-awaited second album “Enduring Days You will Overcome” showcases a collaboration with legendary producer Alan Parsons. Here’s a pulsating live version of “In The Morning”.

LogOut‘s second album, “Little Things Buried In Concrete”, was released in 2013. The songs on the album portray a gradual descent under the strict concrete surfaces of our cities and our faces. The excavation trip of “Little Things Buried In Concrete” begins at the exterior surface, where “everybody lives in malls” and “everybody loves each other” (“Newspapers”) and passes through layers of consumerism (“Global Love”) and city isolation (“For You”) slowly descending towards the innermost hidden layers (“Censored Title”) all the way to the final cathartic plea towards Concrete (“Hymn To Concrete”- …Come on concrete, rain all over me…), which leaves behind only a tape of repeated declarations of love. (“…love you, I love you, I love you, I…”). I hadn’t heard anything by LogOut until the Inner Ear folks  compiled this list for us – this record is outstanding.

What more to say about Σtella? We’ve featured her songs a number of times, she’s got a piece hanging in our gallery and we’ve had the privilege of interviewing her as well. The playlist includes a trademark Σtella classic – “Made To Attack” from her self-titled debut. Do yourself a favour mate and go listen to both her LPs right now.

And so to another SWIT Long Player Of The Week – “Scene Missing” by Sundayman, the track included here is “Jupiter” and it’s my favourite on the album and made our end of year list in 2016. Kyriakos Moustakas (aka Sundayman) is also member of the ambient duet Yellow Slots. In 2001, he founded Inhousemusic and he is also co-founder of Rabbeats Music. Both companies are specialise in the creation and production of bespoke music for television, radio spots and film soundtracks. “Scene Missing”, was released in November 2016.

Gioumourtzina were formed in May, 2014, in Thessaloniki by Anestis Neiros (synth, vocals) and John Tselikas (electric bass). Their songs drew attention and airplay on the internet as well as the FM radio in Thessaloniki and the rest of Greece.Their debut album “Blakk Metall” was released in April 2016, check out Chinese Battleships here, it’s a really haunting tune, love the bass. love it.

“Tell Me What You’re Made Of” is my song of 2017 thus far. Baby Guru is an ever-evolving musical organism consisting of four childhood friends. Tired of the typical rock band thing, they lay emphasis on spontaneity and unexpected inspiration, while they cultivate an obsession with the kraut rock, pop melodies, psychedelic music and African percussion experiments. They remain incurably charmed by the analog warmth of proto-electronica and the raw power of garage punk, while they demonstrate a driving perspective of instinctive grooves and vocal lines that range from meditative to Dadaistic. This is “Behaviour” from 2014’s “Marginalia”. They are one of the most original and exciting acts I’ve heard during the SWIT years.

drog_A_tek are an audio-visual collective, The LP “Too Late To Care” is made from recordings made in Athens from 2005 to 2011 and is characterized by the vibrancy, improvisation and eclecticism that drog_A_tek’s live performances were famed for. to cut a long story short “Too Late To Care” is a black album and the track included here “I Touch” is touched by genius.

Mechanimal’s musical language draws influences from a wide range of genres, and features male and female vocals against a backdrop of mechanical repetitive beats, shoegaze guitar drones and pulsating sequencers. The outfit was founded in 2011 by songwriter and music producer Giannis Papaioannou. “Obscure” is a single from 2014 and it’s a cracker.

A Victim Of Society is a lo-fi project, formed in 2011 by Vagelis Makris (vocals, guitars) and Fotis Ntouskas (guitar) in Athens, Greece. In 2015 Pantelis Karasevdas (drums) joined the band.These psychedelic noise-merchants have just released the deliciously dirty new LP, “Freaktown”, and “Attention Whore” kicks and screams it’s way onto our list. Wowza!

The Noise Figures are a fuzz rock duo from Athens, Greece, comprised of George Nikas and Stamos Bamparis. This is the rollicking “Out Of Your Mind” from their self-titled 2013 LP. Fuzz rock making me feel fuzzy all over.

My Druken Haze is a band I can get dooooown with. This is “Carol Wait” from their self-titled LP. Listen, I don’t think Carol be waiting for any drunken fool like you. The band were formed in the spring of 2010 by guitarist, songwriter and composer Spir Frelini, as an attempt to mix neo-psychedelic music with 60′s garage and ethereal dream pop. I’d say they’ve more than succeeded, wouldn’t you? Fuck it! i’m gonna fall in love.

Been on the SWIT have Whereswilder. “This Feeling” is from new LP “Hotshot”. Moxie, panache, laid-back sex-appeal and beautiful shades, it’s got it all. Whereswilder are a rock quartet hailing from Athens, Greece who take an energetic, contemporary approach to the classic psychedelic sounds of the 60s. Hey, I’m not sure about the “energetic” bit but it’s all the better for it.

Night Knight is the brand new side project of Serafeim Giannakopoulos, drummer of Athens based band Planet of Zeus and one of the most active musicians in the Greek underground rock scene.
Partners in crime in this project are bassist Stelios Provis (Planet of Zeus), drummer Manolis Giannikios (Whereswilder) and guitarist Minas Liakos (Fingers Crossed, TFATFY).
Their debut album, “God Is A Motherfucker”, emerged, when Serafeim decided to isolate himself in the studio in August 2014, having encountered some major life changes and with one and only goal…to dive into the vast ocean of sound without a life-jacket. Did he sink or swim? I think it’s pretty obvious when you listen to “Set It On Fire”.

Mama I’m coming down. It’s been 5 years since the release of the previous album of Illegal Operation, “3rd Day”. Their new album is entitled “Down”. This is the title track. The band has been following the same magical recipe for years now: rehearsals, live, collaborations, study, reflections and confrontations. Jam sessions are the container where the 5 Illegal mix all these notes, the distillation of their souls, influences and ideas that carry a lifetime. The album walks a thin line between the dark and the light of modern blues, sounding like it could have come straight outta Chicago, it growls and spits into life. Check out the intense live performance of the song here too.

“A Happening” by Ku is from “Ganja” – the 3rd record on this list that made it to the coveted SWIT Long Player Of The Week! “Ganja” is a personal story sung and played between friends who fight, love, decide and forget each other but never unknow what brings them together. That sacramental moment when everything is in sync and the words and sounds float freely and fill up the room like smoke from a dried out herb. Great song, great record, freak out in a moonage daydream, that’s my advice.

From 2009’s “Timemachine” by Mary & The Boy – check “Staring” – bar-room, torch song, cabaret, late night bordello it’s all here in this tune. It says on the Inner Ear website “cynical moments are still present when Mary & The Boy dive once more into their hopelessly unorthodox world”. Intriguing and I’m going to make damn sure I ingest the album in full before the week is out. “Staring” is one hell of an alluring calling card.

We finish, appropriately enough, with “In A Bar” by Tango With Lions. Appropriate because it’s an end of the night song when maybe you had one too many and tell everyone you love them and fall out the door into a pool of tears and gin. It’s from the 2011 LP “Verba Time”. Appropriate too because I end most nights in a bar, wondering where it all went wrong, looking for hope in the bottom of a whiskey glass, what do I find?  Regrets and broken promises. Yeah it’s like [that’s quite enough of that, get on with the list. ed] . Tango With Lions were formed in 2007 by Katerina Papachristou, who has collaborated with many English-speaking bands in the Greek indie scene, as a musician and singer. TWL is a changing musical collective that owes its name to the images that take place in Kat’s mind, every time she gets ready to write a new track.  They are in  the studio right now and their new album is expected by the end of the year. Roar!

Wow I enjoyed that so much – thanks Inner Ear!

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