Premiere: Hollan – Wild Man

I listen through our submissions whilst working, few waking me from my inertia. I still remember hearing Hollan’s music for the first time, having to push my chair away from the desk and sink into the fabric of my chair. This is the moment I’d been waiting for; this makes working through all the chaff worth it. Anna Manotti’s (Hollan) vocal could’ve come from any era, its deep reverence subsuming you whole, whilst her songs sound as if they’d sprung from the soil, the early recordings of Adrianne Lenker whirring round my mind. 

Latest single ‘Wild Man’ sees Manotti confront the reality of a break-up after returning home from vacation. “I was warring with my mind, struggling with my mental health and I felt an urgency that I needed to be rescued from the state I was in. During those couple of hours of feeling the rawness of life in a dark moment, I realised that a part of me and my soul will never be completely present. A part of me will always be somewhere else, somewhere better, somewhere right. And sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can go there”. 

Manotti’s words are so rich that she ensures you come along too. The scorched grass, the fading blue of the pick-up truck, the flower hanging from one’s mouth appearing in stunning high definition. “Somewhere I’m with you / Riding through the tall grass / And my feet are dangling out the back” she sings in the chorus, its beauty making you feel like you could keel over in front of your speakers. There’s a mourning, a sense of regret perhaps to her voice not distilled by the arrival of strings and swelling percussion. The ambiguity of her words steal you away from the day-to-day as you comprehend why the words “you know I carry rain” make you fall apart every single time. 

Whenever I listen to Manotti I imagine I’m watching her live. Stood in the crowd, my eyes are closed, the words to her songs escaping from my mouth though I have no awareness that I am singing.  The thought of it makes me feel warm. 

‘Wild Man’ is out Saturday 14 March

Premiere: Alf Whitby – Mountain (For Change)

It’s funny that Manchester songwriter Alf Whitby’s artwork always features nature. His songs suspend you in a silence similar to that experienced by neighbours looking out at a blood moon, a solar eclipse, a crimson sky. You just stand and admire, watch it play out in front of you. Words cannot suffice. 

‘Mountain (For Change)’ is the most forthright of the three singles to come from forthcoming debut ‘Sistine Dreams’, the swell of its second half swallowing you whole.  Whitby’s voice acts like a gusty swirl, occasionally unintelligible, he layers its rises and falls elevating it to an instrument all its own. Though initially you might compare it to Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe, it’s more Anohni by the end, when he declares “I want it all / your grandmother’s throw / the honeycomb pillow / your favourite bowl”, his words carry the power of a fire burning inside finally given air. A song about the precarity of love, Whitby penned it after seeing the end of a close friend’s relationship that to him looked like everything he ever wanted. “That’s why love’s the sacrificial stone / The precipice I groaned to / The hardest to leap off”, he sings. 

‘Sistine Dreams’ is out March 13 on My Little Empire. 

Video premiere: Nora Petran – What it Takes to be a Man

Nora Petran’s debut collection of folk vignettes captivated us so much that we had no choice but to name it as one of our favourite records of 2019. Today we premiere the video to its title track ‘What it Takes to be a Man’. The track is representative of the album as a whole, the landscape dominated by tender, ruminative guitar and Petran’s yodel-like vocal which references Emiliana Torrini. Petran’s work is stark, it entrances you in its smallness.

Though the track does note the toxic aspects of masculinity that lead to high suicide rates among males,  “Even when you feel like falling / you must stand son”, it’s mostly an outcry at men’s position of privilege, “I grew up with thoughts / Because no-one ever told me to turn them off” she sings, inhabiting the voice of a male. And in the video, she appears to try on the different guises of male and female, it switches to show Nora in archetypal male clothing – desert boots, baseball cap and an overshirt – and archetypal female clothing – a floaty, flower-patterned skirt and pink high heels. She trudges through the sands, happily embracing the fall whenever her desert boots or high heels give way.

‘What It Takes to be a Man’ is out now on Darling Recordings

Premiere: Neev – Across the Glass

There’s a sense of loss on Neev’s second ever single ‘Across The Glass.’ A love letter to her hometown of Glasgow written from her adopted home of London, she reminisces on times that are consigned to youth. “The fairylights above our heads / made our words taste so sweet” she sings, the memory creating a warm fuzzy feeling whilst coming across like something that can’t be re-created.

Neev’s voice is warm and husky. Initially she’s backed by just the jovial strums of her acoustic guitar, until a heart-rending chillo yearns in the bridge. The chorus bears hallmarks of Big Thief’s ‘Mary’, the rhythmic speed Neev sings at not too dissimilar from Adrianne Lenker’s star turn. “Where were you when reality felt like this / when time went so quick” she sings lastly, despairing that a friend or lover couldn’t share in those days when life felt limitless, when the world felt like a bottomless treasure trove. Beautiful.  

‘Across the Glass’ is out Saturday 09 November

Premiere: No Swoon – Forward

Brooklyn duo No Swoon return today with ‘Forward’, the second single from their forthcoming self-titled record. Formed primarily around two opposing synths, the first is acid tinged, slinking around corners with its snake-like groove, the second is discordant, a sledgehammer taken to a brittle window. Together they sound almost seedy, granting listeners access to a Great Gatsby-like bash. Hosting these proceedings is Tasha Abbott, though her lyrics about apathetic responses to the climate crisis suggest she didn’t get the memo, “Is the ice really splitting? / Are the ceilings getting smaller? Couldn’t notice through these headlines”. The rich and famous attendees suffer a mood kill, but ironically it’s them she’s targeting with her icy, effortless vocal; those who through bluffer and bluster state we’re making progress, drawing instant parallels to Anohni who sang “it’s only four degrees”, taking aim at those trying to dismiss the temperature rise.

In the chorus she sings “moving forward”, her hollow words suggesting the opposite. The soundscape dramatically shifts here, from nightclub sheen to Beach House-ian shimmer, the reverb heavy guitars mirroring that other duo’s (Beach House) ability to summon rainstorms with their instruments. The song capitulates into dust after one final ‘ah’, the uncomfortable silence we’re served, perhaps reflective of the minimal affect we’re having on reversing climate change, a drop in the ocean, a band-aid applied to an ever growing wound. 

Speaking about the song, they say: “You know when you’re talking to someone about how fucked the world is (in many ways) right now and they say “but it’s better than it used to be, we’ve come so far!”  I hate that, “we’ve come so far,” it’s such a cop-out. Sure we’ve made progress, some things are better than before and some things aren’t. It doesn’t mean that racism, sexism, homophobia, abuse (the list goes on), doesn’t exist today or that climate change isn’t a real threat to the world. And if that all still exists, we still have work to do. And that’s what this song, “Forward” stems from. That cop-out of an idea that things are better and great. “Are the clouds really breaking, or merely moving over?” Meaning are we really making progress or is whatever problem just shifting, either to someone else, or in a different form.” 

‘No Swoon’ is out November 1st on Substitute Scene Records

Premiere: Old Amica – Collisions

Though seven albums into their career, we first became aware of Sweden’s Old Amica mere weeks ago after friends Fox Food Records released ‘Julia, Umea’, the first single from forthcoming album ‘Constellations’. Opening with a heavily autotuned vocal, the song is initially like a blurred image, the fade reducing overtime to reveal a flowering, bounteous landscape. While the first single had shades of Sigur Ros in its glacial post-rock, the second, ‘Collisions’, which we’re premiering today, derives more from the world of folk.  Birds squawk above billowing words at the outset, before resplendent strums of guitar and a sacred, hymnal-like vocal push them out of view. Initially it defies gravity, floating easily in an ether of its own making, before organs and synths ascend it to a higher plain. The chorus is anthemic, reverent, grounding the song with its swaying back-and-forth. The hubbub of people, of land, finally re-enters the frame, as the song is allowed to end like a fire left to burn out – the final flame flickering and dying, long after the people who felt its warmth had dispersed. 

Of the song, Old Amica say “Collisions is a song about the ungraspable meaninglessness of death. How someone is forever removed from one day to another. How we have to except it without ever understanding it.”

Constellations is out October 4 on Fox Food Records

Track-by-track: Broken Chanter

Skye, Donegal, The North Atlantic – just some of the places that informed the making of Broken Chanter’s self-titled debut. The songs found there are just as large and epic as these landforms, their mountains, their oceans. They build and build until like a wave they crest before finally bowing out in a poetic trough. 

The opus of David MacGregor, the principal songwriter of Scottish Alt-Pop darlings Kid Canaveral, it’s a real labour of love, comprising of MacGregor’s feelings when they‘re felt hardest. These unashamed sentiments are expressed in his distinctive vocal, he rolls his ‘r’s’, lengthens his ‘o’s’, harnessing his Scottish accent to produce something incredibly emotive. 

Collaboration is at its heart though. To make this Explosions in the Sky/Sigur Ros-esque sound, he drafted in  an array of amazingly talented friends, including Audrey Tait (Hector Bizerk), Jill O’Sullivan (Sparrow and the Workshop, bdy_prts); Emma Kupa (Mammoth Penguins, Standard Fare); Kim Carnie (BBC Young Trad Musician of the Year Finalist 2017); Hannah Shepherd (eagleowl, Withered Hand); Gal (Galchen); and Gav Prentice (ULTRAS, Over the Wall). They all contribute amazing moments to the universe McGregor dreamt up. Kim Carnie sings in Gaelic beautifully on ‘Mionagadanan’, in a moment nearly as heart-wrenching as Else Torp’s vocal on Nick Cave’s ‘Distant Sky’. Balloon Machine-fave Emma Kupa lends her guttural, nude singing to ‘Beside Ourselves’, while Gal’s synth-work throughout is truly staggering.

The spirit of the record is truly emphased when MacGregor brings the whole gang back together – all the contributors bar Kupa – for closer ‘Free Psalm’.  The record’s most hopeful song, MacGregor vows to “Dust himself down / And start again” atop a beautifully, meandering violin and rolling toms. With his self-titled debut, he’s utilised the skills of others to bring something from his mind into the world just as he’d envisioned it. A truly beautiful record.

Broken Chanter exclusively explains each track for us below!

Nineteen Ninety-Eight

I started writing this using a wee synth on my phone in the middle of the night. I think the simple keyboard motif a wide-eyed, hopeful air about it. The whole thing has a nostalgic, cinematic feel to it. Jill [O’Sullivan]  and Hannah’s [Shepherd] strings are soaring and Audrey [Tait] just drives the whole thing masterfully from behind the kit. It’s Spotify suicide to start your album with a six minute instrumental apparently, but I’m not making albums for Spotify, the robbing bastards. 1998 was quite a year. I think. Father Ted’s third series (long before Gl1nner went on his hateful crusade), Scotland at the Men’s World Cup, and my first winch. Through rose-tinted specs, the acne looks less severe. 

Should We Be Dancing?

That’s the North Atlantic you can hear at the start. If you listen carefully, you can hear it overwhelming and filling my boots. I’d horribly misjudged the tide. There are a couple of wee instax photos that Audrey [Tait] and Gal [Producer/Engineer] took of me whilst having a good laugh. I’m a black dot surrounded by grey ocean, grey clouds and drizzle. The song was my attempt at writing a hopeful, love song and it ended up with this hand-wringing, demented waltz. Jill’s vocals make me well up in the last chorus. 

Wholesale

I recorded the warped guitar (that most folk assume is a synth) at the start, and that continues throughout, in a cottage on Skye. My brother, sisters-in-law and wife had all gone out on a hike in the sleet and snow to leave me to get some work done. January was not the best time to visit the fairy pools, apparently. We recorded the bulk of it out in Donegal. I absolutely love the unrelenting throb of Gal’s synth-work on the chorus of this. The whole thing has turned out so foreboding and I am very much into that. The world is tipping into the fascist dystopia Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mid-period work warned us that it would, and there are still some folk wringing their hands about the politeness implications of punching actual, literal nazis. 

Don’t Move to Denmark

I wrote this song on the stairs in Glenwood Studio in Glasgow, where we finished the record, while Gal was sorting out a mix. The music and melody came out in a oner. I just had to write the lyrics. That happens rarely, but when it does it’s normally a keeper. It’s about how all men are wide-os. And how I’m fucking useless sometimes. The synths on this give me an exceptionally nice feeling in my skull around the temples. 

Cheering in the Distance

I’d had the main riff in this one for years. It’s the only bit of ‘old material’ that’s on the record. I could never get it to go anywhere, or more accurately it always dwindled away to nowt and I lost patience. I sat down with Gav [Prentice] to batter it out, as a way to actually get it used. It’s one of two co-writes on the record. Gav put this spidery proto-metal riff over the top of it and we went for a sort-of disintegration of the song for second half before finishing with delicate acoustic rendition of the chorus. Oh god, is this prog?!

Mionagadanan

MIN-ah-gad-uh-nan – the atoms seen in a ray of sunlight coming into a house. We recorded a long atmospheric droning piece out in Donegal. I’d been using an e-bow and some lovely reverb on my guitar the speckly electronic, glitchy percussion at the start really chimed with a word form a book I was reading at the time – Mionagadanan. Between takes, I’d been reading Catriona Black’s book Sly Cooking, a selection of some of the Gaelic words collected by 19th century priest, poet and folklorist, Fr Allan McDonald, in South Uist and Eriskay. I wrote a lyric in Gaelic [I’m a gradual student] and got my fluent sister-in-law to look it over for me. I was delighted when Kim Carnie agreed to sing it. I love the juxtaposition of her fantastic clear voice with the Moog and Audrey’s beats. 

Occupy My Hours

I wrote the main guitar part to this one in a glorified cupboard in my flat, in a bit of a ‘i dOnT hAvE eNoUgH sOnGs YeT’ panic. Turns out that fear was quite helpful. Originally called Jazz, Eh? (needs to be said in a Lothian accent for the shite joke to work) because of its looser feel compared to the rest of what we’d recorded. Absolute percussive workout from Audrey towards the end and some delightful bass and synth work from Gal underpinning it all. It had a delightfully sweet guitar part at the end that I was initially sad to chop off, but it was exactly just that: too sweet. I often feel like perhaps I don’t react to things the way that I am ‘meant to’. Is this how I’m supposed to feel about that? Tired, angry and sad.

Beside Ourselves

This was the first song that we started. I had a small window were Emma [Kupa] was in Glasgow for a show we were doing together the next night in Edinburgh, so I got her in to sing the chorus over the backing track, as that’s all I’d finished writing at that point! This one was the most drawn out recording process compared to the other tracks, most of which had drums, bass and guitar recorded live in Ireland. It’s the poppiest song on the record. I’ve always loved Emma’s voice. Everything she sings has this raw soul to it.

Free Psalm

I wanted to end the record with something hopeful. This is the other co-write on the record. Gav sent me some things and this chord sequence/riff just got me straight away. I wrote some lyrics, pretty much at the mic, after doing some guitar noodling. and the whole thing just melds together wonderfully [imho] and also features everyone from elsewhere on the record [bar Emma] coming together. For my mother.

Broken Chanter is out 6th September on Olive Grove and Last Night From Glasgow

Premiere: Rey Villalobos – Donut Girl

Joy Division’s live recording of ‘Sister Ray’, originally a Velvet Underground song, at London’s Moscow Club in 1980 has become notorious, legendary even. Los Angeles’ Rey Villalobos’ pairing of basement, lo-fi effects and his acerbic Lou Reed-like croon on new single, ‘Donut Girl’ brings that historic recording to mind.  

The follow-up to ‘Breathe’, this is Villalobos’ second release under his birth name, having previously gone under the moniker, House of Wolves. Its likeness to that Joy Division recording explained by its conception – ‘Donut Girl’ was recorded in Villalobos’ one room garage studio apartment with no vocal effects.

Taken off forthcoming EP ‘1997’, ‘Donut Girl’ opens with a contorting, bounding guitar and pronounced vocals. Studio mastery sees voices overlap before they’re swallowed up entirely by the rising tide of the guitars, only the odd high-note flinging a visible limb over the irrepressible current. A posturing final chorus sees calmer seas emerge from the murk. Villalobos’ final urging for a lover to ‘to become my donut girl’ proving almost irresistible. 

‘1997’ is out September 17

Premiere: Lightning Bug – Vision Scraps

When ambient musician Grouper formed shoegaze band Helen, Liz Harris (Grouper) brought her ear for how sound moves and immerses to the genre, embellishing her band with a sound engineer-like edge. It’s a quality apparent on ‘Vision Scraps,‘ the second single to be taken from Lightning Bug’s sophomore album ‘October Song.‘

Led by New York’s Audrey Kang along with friends Kevin Copeland and Logan Miley, in ‘Vision Scraps’ the trio have created a virulent, discordant soundscape that exists in a vacuum entirely of it’s own. Each instrument really brings something to the party, whether its the guttural-like fuzz of the guitar, the propulsion from the drums as we drive into the chorus or the ghostly vocals that exist on the periphery. The end of the chorus sees the guitar fleetingly unfurl into a beautiful riff, until the reverb pulls us back under its spell, the guitar squalling us out in the final flourish. ‘Vision Scraps’ is the sound of an artist fully aware of the power they wreak. 

Speaking on the song, Kang said: “This song includes a quote from my mom: “Too much freedom’s a cage – privilege.” I wrote it a while ago – I think I was around 20 – while I was trying to figure out what kind of life I wanted for myself. Now I know that life is a feast of surprises and trying to map it out is like rolling the boulder up the hill.”

October Song is out September 6 on Marbled Arm Records.

Premiere/Interview: Total Heat – LA Song

Total Heat’s Ross Wallace Chait first sat behind the drum kit at eight years old, setting in motion a career which has seen him bang the drums for Girlpool – he still plays and tours with these – Winter and Walter. Over 15 years on from that life-changing moment and Chait is now setting his eyes on centre stage with solo project Total Heat. Today we premiere his second single as Total Heat, ‘LA Song,’ the follow up to ‘On the FM.’

Within the first few seconds of ‘LA Song’ it’s clear Chait has no intention of playing it safe, the free-spirited nature that he first envisioned his music would encompass from the back of Girlpool’s touring van hitting instantly. The first minute is made up of little more than arpeggiated synths, sporadic uses of the kick drum and Chait’s distant, tron-like vocal. From that point on though ‘LA Song’ blooms into sheer hedonism, the drums rolling and Chait singing “Your face/Now you’re gone” over and over in a call-and-response like fashion. A protracted version of this chorus brings the song to an end, the warm fuzz of nostalgia inherent to the shimmering synths threatened by Chait’s ominous, enigmatic words. An intriguing showcase of the esteemed drummer’s undeniable songwriting chops.  

Listen, then check out our interview with Total Heat below.

How did you get your start in music?

I started playing drums when I was eight years old. My parents were both actors (my mom formerly and my dad currently) and as a reward for being in the cast of one of their plays they let me start taking drum lessons with Fred Dinkins (The Emotions, Deniece Williams). He taught me so much as a kid about how to play, how to listen, and how to experience music. He also got me hooked on jazz, funk, soul, and bossa nova at a very young age. I started writing and having more formal musical ideas around fourteen. Being able and being driven to make this switch away from strictly playing the drums I owe in large part to my friends and everyone who was part of the community of young musicians and artists in LA during the late aughts. We all worshiped each other’s music and art, crammed our parents’ backyards for shows in the garage, made zines, wrote poetry, shot films, and were lucky enough to be able to embrace our individuality and love of art in a way that was totally formative. I’ll never begin to be able to quantify what that time meant and how it sticks with me, but I will say that many of those people have gone on to phenomenal careers in music, art, writing, film and are still dear friends of mine. It’s with me forever. Anyway during the later years of being part of that community was when I developed some very basic songwriting chops and enough confidence to start writing, recording, and performing my own music. All before I turned eighteen.

Where did the name Total Heat come from?

I live and was raised in Los Angeles, a place where the climate stays, for about eighty percent of the year, just shy of what most places feel like in the midst of summer. Heat is what I live in, what comes naturally to me and the environment I make music in, totally!

Why did you want to step out from the drum kit so to speak and put out your own music?

Cause my heart probably would have shrivelled up if I hadn’t, don’t you think? The idea to start this band came to me while sitting in the van during a Girlpool tour last fall. I was obsessed with the Velvet Underground Bootlegs albums and listening to a lot of Les Rallizes Denudes (an incredible moody, bluesy Japanese noise band that formed in the late 60s) at the time and wanted to figure out how to make music with the attitude and spirit of that stuff with an ear for jazz and pop too. It hit me that the perfect person to figure that out with would be my friend Joel Jensen-Heath, a bonafide experimental music FREAK with an amazing sense of humour and a huge heart. He plays bass in Total Heat and always sees my strange vision for what it is. I’m honoured and always inspired by the people I play with in this band and others, by great songs, wild experimentation, nature, jokes, you name it, it’s in there somewhere.

Has playing with groups like Girlpool influenced your songwriting? If so, how?

Definitely! I love Girlpool and I’m always blown away by Harmony and Cleo’s songwriting prowess. I believe all the music I’ve played an accompanying role in has inspired Total Heat to varying degrees of obviousness. There’s been more than one occasion where I’ll write and record something and not even notice until I’ve written the whole thing and looped it a dozen times that I accidentally put practically a replica of one of their vocal lines or chord progressions in it, so I’ll send it over and say “whoops” and they’ll say “haha cool” and it’s all good. But yes, it all shapes how I think about songs and sound and writing words to sing. Without the influences of my friends and collaborators the project would be flat and much less inspired so I’m always feeling gratitude for my ability to work with other people and in other projects. There’s also a major element of subconsciousness in writing music I’ve found. So beyond those places where I can retroactively say “oh this sounds like that,” there’s a life and there’s a mind that’s seen and heard all that I’ve seen and heard, remembering some forgetting some, and all of that mashes together and squeezes into the song or the melody or the idea whatever it is. It’s beautiful, like dreaming in some ways, the process by which things you can’t clearly see the impact of, or things you don’t even remember at all, come into creative ideas and output. It’s therapeutic like that…like damn.

You made a lot of Total Heat songs in your old apartment. Can you tell us about the apartment? If that space influenced the songs in anyway?

The Total Heat catalogue started coming together at my old apartment in East Hollywood that I shared with my partner at the time. It was a very small space where in the little nook next to the kitchen I had a simple laptop/keyboard/mic set up that I began writing these songs with. It was funky and kind of run down but had a lot of gritty old Hollywood character and a wild cast of tenants and visitors that we loved being around. Then I moved and continued writing and crafting Total Heat music in my tiny room in a house on a hill in Northeast LA. Beautiful spot, but so small I had to sit on the edge of my bed crouched over my laptop whenever I wanted to make music because the place couldn’t fit a chair! My friend said it was “like camping!” It was a complicated and mind-expanding time full of love, some heartbreak, and deep spiritual and internal growth that I hope is reflected in the music.

How would you explain your sound?

Modern Velvets with a janky, jazzy twist.

What does your musical process look like?

Usually I’ll write a chord progression or melody idea on the piano and listen to it over and over until I have the perfect complimentary line to put on top. It’s hard to say what it is that happens, but when you get that hooky thing you know it and it clicks in. From there I’ll slowly shape other ideas in section pieces around that first clicked in chunk until it becomes a song. My bandmates are integral to this process oftentimes too. Other times I’ll just be walking around, lookin’ at the trees and boom I got a song!

 Is an album in the works? If so, can you tell us about it?

Yes. In fact, my plan now is to release two mini albums, one more in the lo fi synth pop domain a la “L.A. Song” and the other in a world of more structurally loose, improvisational jazzy stuff.

Can you pick five songs that influenced your sound?

LA Song is out Friday 26 July on Dangerbird Records

Album premiere: We Should Be Laughing – Temporary Swan Songs

Remember that near-perfect summer’s day? Responsibilities were a distant memory and for once, you were completely present in your environment – sharing stories with friends over a picnic, playing fetch with the dog, lying on your back with a book. Houghton quartet We Should Be Laughing soundtrack the way you felt that day, their freewheeling guitars and tumbling drums laying down rail tracks to a less preoccupied you.

Their carefree brand of pop rock is liberating, damn the amount of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ on this thing is insane! The first line on the album goes ‘I’m a state of the art uncool / with my goggles fucked up at your cousins swimming pool,’ while the last song opens with a ‘haha’ – it’s fitting of the journey the record takes, one packed with fun and hilarity.

Behind the laughter though there’s an undeniable sincerity. On ‘Bum’ they shout ‘I wanna feel you in the back of my lungs,’ and they couldn’t sound more veracious if they tried. Their songs are meaningful even if they don’t take themselves too seriously – a balance that isn’t easy to stumble upon. When these four get together, they leave all external worries at the practice room door, simply enjoying every moment in each other’s company. With this record, the possibility of taking that spirit into our life feels within touching distance.

Swan Songs is out Friday 19 July on Heavy Meadow Records.

The cassette comes with a reissue of the band’s debut album on the B-side.

Premiere: Daniel – Smaller Creatures to Bury

Today we premiere the video for Daniel’s debut single, a new solo project from former Spills member Chad. It’s released on Bodys – a forward-thinking promoter and record label based in Wakefield – this Friday.  

So much of our life is predicated on our memories of the past and premonitions for the future. Yet these memories are often fragmented, becoming more inaccessible over time, while our predictions often don’t consider what life actually is – unexpected events and our responses to them. On ‘Smaller Creatures to Bury’, Daniel explores our essential contradictions; pragmatically, experience is all we have to base our decisions upon, yet what we have barely ever adds up to something you could call ‘informed.’ “The song is about balancing the past and future with the present, even when the future and past mutate, and can’t be guessed or even truly remember” he says. 

Above hushed drums and a winding Chastity Belt-like guitar, Daniel’s fragile, faltering voice struggles through these tough questions, singing ‘What sense is grounding / when I can’t make sense of my own two feet.’ ‘Smaller Creatures to Bury’ is discursive, treading a path all of its own. Indeed, it metamorphoses wonderfully in the chorus, opening like a flower in bloom, but caves in on itself when the added instrumentation falls away, leaving Daniel alone, singing ‘Conversations that I don’t remember / come to me in most of these nights.’ Daniel’s memories may be foggy but this as assured and as concrete a debut single you’re likely to hear for some time.

Daniel plays his first live show in support of Advance Base at Chantry Chapel in Wakefield on July 29. 

Album premiere: Mermaid Book Club – Relatable Content

Mermaid Book Club’s ‘Relatable Content’ sounds like the early throes of infatuation, the cliched butterflies in the stomach, the dopamine injection in your brain, the downright giddiness of it all. Coming in at just under 20 minutes, it’s a lovestruck collection of earworms that hits as instantly as love at first sight.  Today we premiere the album ahead of its July 19th release.

The Missoula quartet never aspire to be rational, and that carefree, naive ethos makes itself heard in their nonchalant, playful sound. They can’t half stumble upon a good anecdote, most likely borne from their own experiences. ‘Tire Rama’ opens with the line, “You popped my tire / what the fuck dude” while ‘Tacos’ is about a partner who chose the triangular-shaped snacks over a loved one. They spare us absolutely none of the gory detail, indeed one love interest even shits themselves.

The riffs are bouncy, the bass jaunty and the drums title-tattling, a combination that reeks joy. The choruses though, wow, they’re so dense they sweep you off your fleet, put candyfloss in your hands before kicking you off to somewhere fantastical. 

Covered head to toe in colour, ‘Relatable Content’ is a kaleidoscope, you can’t hold it back. Listen exclusively below. 

Relatable Content is out July 19 on Anything Bagel Records

Video premiere: Basins – Move Slow

Hailing from Seattle, lo-fi quintet Basins released their sophomore record ‘Porchlight’ in January. Today we premiere the video for the album’s lead single, ‘Move Slow’.

‘Move Slow’ is the pattern you draw in condensation on your shower pane, fleeting, blurred and forever threatened by the fog surrounding it. Basins share characteristics with Hovvdy and Bedhead, yet they also have a keen pop sensibility, just listen to the close of “Move Slow” where the duo echo Whitney, singing in tandem over lush instrumentation. When embarking on a major change in your life, people might say ‘do it in babysteps’, and that’s what “Move Slow” is, a documentation of the gradual move to a place of clarity where singers Shane Haworth and Tommy Sandri “can stare straight into the sun.” It’s a bildungsroman-like tale and one you won’t want to stop hearing anytime soon.

Porchlight is out now

Premiere: Frydstads Markiser – Easily Bored

“Why do I bother?” questions Norweigian songwriter Jorgen Frydstad AKA Frydstads Markiser on new single ‘Easily Bored.’ That question paired with the poorly drawn doodle on the accompanying video perfectly encapsulates his slack-rock, comic sans aesthetic. The frenetic structure of the 98-second single sharply parallels ‘Light Up Gold’-era Parquet Courts, while the lyrics share characteristics more akin to Sidney Gish and Courtney Barnett; “I’m tired of sitting still / just want to walk around” he sings wryly. An absorbent guitar part stretches the song’s wings a little but it soon falls back into its banal-like rhythm. That banality, that ability to capture the mundane without breaking a sweat is what will set Frydstads Markiser apart. ‘Easily Bored’ is compelling evidence he knows that all too well.

Easily Bored is out Friday 28th June

Album of the week: Flying Fish Cove – En Garde

After hearing ‘At Moonset’, Flying Fish Cove’s debut album, earlier this year, we couldn’t help but fall hopelessly in love with the Seattle quartet. With its jangling guitars and breezy soundscapes, ‘At Moonset’ laid out a sprawling island of joys in front of our love-struck eyes. We lost ourselves in it entirely. News of an almost immediate follow up with EP, ‘En Garde’, could not have sounded sweeter to our ears.

‘En Garde’ sees Flying Fish Cove affirm themselves as true purveyors of sugar rush, escapist pop. It’s the sound of pure infatuation, a wet under the ears teenager falling recklessly in love. The lush soundscape of opener ‘No Ending’ sets the scene, particularly when lead singer Dena Zilber wryly states ‘that’s not punk’ with the wink of the eye. The title track is irrepressible, akin to what walking like air must feel like; the glorious, celebratory ending leaving you high.  ‘Andrew and Allie’ recalls Zilber’s favourite movie kiss, while closer ‘Embarking’ is little more than a drum machine and tinkling synths with Zilber’s voice laid over the top. 

It’s another entry point into Flying Fish Cove’s magical, logic-defying paradise. Escapism isn’t something you tire of, and with the state of things as they are, we need as many get-outs as possible. Flying Fish Cove have never been so essential. 

En Garde is out now on Jigsaw Records and Lost Sound Tapes

Premiere: Tummyache – In Between

Remember the name Soren Bryce. After releasing an album under her own name last year, the Texas songwriter/producer is back under a new pseudonym, Tummyache – a project named after one of the side effects of severe physical anxiety. Today we premiere the first Tummyache single ‘In Between.’

Combining the rich tones of Sharon Van Etten and the vulnerability of Julien Baker, Bryce sounds rawer than ever on ‘In Between.’ Throwing off the armour of her more folk-indebted past, Bryce surrounds herself with fraught, meditative guitars that match the emotion present in her voice. She sounds brooding, pregnant with her own emotion, casting it off only when an army of drums transports her above the surface. Once there, a primal desire emerges, “I wanna feel better” she sings repeatedly, desperately even. Bryce might not be at her happiest but as Tummyache she’s found her true calling.

In Between is out June 21 on Palo Santo Records

Video premiere: Claire Cronin – Saint‘s Lake

Last Friday (June 14) saw the release of ‘Big Dread Moon,’ Claire Cronin’s first release on Balloon Machine favourites Orindal Records. Today we’re premiering the video for ‘Saint’s Lake.’ Read our track review and watch the video below.

The start of Claire Cronin’s ‘Saint’s Lake’ bears all the hallmarks of a traditional folk song, however it soon leaves these calm, tranquil waters, verging off course into more choppy, queasy territory. The quiver of a fiddle in the distance signals this turn of the steering wheel, as from there on outwards ‘Saint’s Lake’ bobs and weaves, rising and falling with the whims of the waves. With these ever-changing currents, ‘Saint’s Lake’ personifies a feeling of unease, of tension shared and battled over. It’s utterly compelling, and a sure sign of an artist intent on crafting worlds of their own. These worlds might not be utopic but when she sings ‘Find me there’ at ‘Saint’s Lake’s’ close, you’ll journey on out there without question.

Brian Getnick, the director of the video, said: “The floating, disembodied characters in this video are denizens of a dreamy netherworld that Cronin and Getnick both enter in their private artistic practices and collaborations. In particular, the demon in this video is inspired by Albercht Dürer’s rendering of the Devil and occult horror films such as Ari Aster’s Hereditary. The sparseness of Cronin’s song is mirrored in the video’s use of black negative space, and Cronin’s hovering, rising vocal is matched by the movement of spiritual objects through a void-like realm.”

Big Dread Moon is out now on Orindal Records

Claire Cronin on tour:

June 21 Chicago, IL @ The Hungry Brain (w/ Advance Base & Moon Racer
June 22 Rock Island, IL @ Rozz Tox (w/ Advance Base & Liv Carrow)
June 23 Grand Rapids, MI @ Green Acres (w/ Advance Base & How to Live Together) 
June 24 Ypsilanti, MI @ Ziggy’s (w/ Advance BaseMoon Racer & Kevin McKay)
June 25 Toronto, ON @ Burdock (w/ Advance Base & Clara Engel) 
June 26 Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola (w/ Advance Base & Cedric Noel) 
June 27 Brattleboro, VT @ Stone Church (w/ Advance Base & Ruth Garbus)
June 28 Portland, ME @ The Apohadion Theater (w/ Advance Base & Greg Jamie)
June 29 Providence, RI @ 159 Sutton Street (w/ Advance Base & Marlon J Battad)
June 30 Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right (w/ Advance Base, Matt Bachmann & Moon Racer)
July 1 Washington, DC @ Songbyrd Vinyl Lounge (w/ Advance Base)

Premiere: omes – wyd

Dreams are often elusive. Remnants of them seep into your brain until a foggy, fragmented picture starts to form. Bournemouth’s omes wonderfully distils that feeling with his entrancing, patchwork quilt-like soundscapes. Today we’re premiering his first ever single on Devil Town Tapes, ‘wyd’, the first taste from his forthcoming EP ‘boy.’

Based around seemingly vacuous conversations between omes and a subcontinental friend, which would often comprise of little more than ‘wyd’ ‘nothing u’, ‘wyd’ – the track title, not the question – characterises all that goes unspoken. Opening with ghostly, Hovvdy-like guitars – you can hear the pick scrape against the string – ‘wyd’s’ gates slowly open as the guitars start to unravel and the Bournemouth singer starts to ‘ooo’. The vocals and guitars never overpower one another, rather acting like individual instruments, existing peacefully alongside each other on the same playing field.

As an artist who uses phrases, paragraphs and poems written in notebooks as inspiration for songs, it’s no wonder that the lyrics, like the soundscapes, are splinter-like; “Tied up, lost out, Found it over there, ‘Hannah, What are you doing?’ ‘Nothing’” he sings. They’re ambiguous and elusive yet ambivalent enough to think answers lay underneath.

Of the song, omes says: “I have a friend who I have spoken to here and there for many years on gchat but we live in different time zones so rarely catch each other and often there are long stretches of the chat where we send ‘wyd’ ‘nothing, u?’ back and forth which seemed funny and sweet and became its own inside joke I guess. I feel like this happens in real life a lot as well. The song ‘wyd’ is kind of about that. It seems kind of ritualistic and repetitive in a pleasing way. Sort of like a meditation or koan or something. Or a mantra.”

Those conversations occasionally seem pointless but often they represent a basic reminder of someone’s presence, that fleeting knowledge there’s somebody out there thinking about you. A potent reminder of our mortality.

boy is out on Devil Town Tapes on June 28.