Chloe Foy has today shared new single “Work of Art”, the latest offering from her upcoming debut album Where Shall We Begin, which is set to be released on June 11th.
The new single has a timely release as Foy sings of music fans being joined together in a live setting on the week that music venues are allowed to re-open in the UK. Through blissful and melancholic instrumentation Foy captures that glorious feeling of sharing passion with others. As her melodic vocal line dances over the backdrop you’re immediately captured by the swaying beauty of the collective sound.
Speaking of the track, Foy said:
“For me, music can’t fulfil its true meaning without sharing it in a room with others. That is the magic. When I’m singing “Bodies glow, you’re a work of art”, I’m talking about music lovers together in a room.
“I had a bit of an epiphany while on tour with Jesca Hoop when I realised you’ve either got to let go and enjoy it or go through life never enjoying the moment. This was all because of this beautifully warm reception of the crowd each night and their willingness to take me as I was”.
Merpire, aka Melbourne based singer-sonwriter Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt has announced her debut album Simulation Ride to be released via Warner’s ADA on 23rd July. She has also shared new single “Village” along with an accompanying music video directed by Nick Mckk.
On the new single Merpire is humbly honest, speaking on themes of self-doubt she draws a portrait of an artist with sincerity at the forefront. Smooth instrumentation backs Merpire’s naturally cool lowkey vocals. Honing in the sound of those early Soccer Mommy tapes with a grungier outburst, Merpire achieves indie brilliance.
Speaking on the new single Rhiannon said:
“This loosely inspired the idea of it taking a village to nurture someone. Sometimes I would get so caught up in self doubt, seeing qualities in people that I didn’t think I had, that I forgot to see what qualities I had that they might love me for. I constantly put pressure on myself to be happier, more energetic, more sociable. I didn’t see myself as an interesting person without that or without my music and when I was feeling tired or withdrawn I’d beat myself up about it, not feeling worthy of company and thinking I was just a boring person who happened to be a musician (and punt people around on a boat in the gardens apparently?!). This affected my relationship. I didn’t believe someone could be in love with me when there seemed to be way more interesting people out there.”
Amsterdam native Tim van Berkestijn aka Benny Sings returns with his 8th studio album, Music, which also marks his second release on contemporary indie, jazz and electronic label Stones Throw Records. Up to this point if you’ve graced Benny’s music before you have become familiar with his tried and true approach to clean, funky and melodically rich style of piano driven sounds. On this new project he continues once again in this movement, but that doesn’t mean the magic has worn off just yet.
From the moment the opening chords of “Nobody’s Fault” kick in you know that this album is about to take you on a gloriously vibrant journey. With its upbeat groove and silky smooth production it’s simply hard not to get up and dance along to the infatuating melodies and harmonies. But look deeper into the song and you soon realise the juxtaposition of the swinging melody to the defeatist lyrics that seek to give comfort to those that try to hide their pain. And this contrast is one that appears frequently on this album. Going straight into “Here It Comes” the melancholic piano melodies and slugging beat have all the elements of a heartbreak ballad, but lyrically Benny is his most optimistic. Reminiscing in childhood happiness, he looks back at a time when he believed he could be anything. “When we move up the hill, I promise I will, Start to life that we dreamt of, I know it, I feel it” he sings with a subtle allure.
This subtlety is a trait that Benny has been using in his works for a number of years now and it seems like he’s perfected it on this album. On “Sunny Afternoon” Benny’s vocals offer an alluring border almost on spoken word, with minimalist melodic inflections being added in on the chorus as the layers of sound build. Even the chords are sparse over the motioning beat, but this only makes the eventual build of strings at the climax of the track that much sweeter. And on “Run Right Back” there’s so much untapped cool lying within the breezy reggae infused melody that it feels as though you’re floating on a cloud high up in the summers sky, watching the people below. Then as Cautious Clay comes in with a killer sax solo you can just feel the smoothness of this track seeping out at every corner, all whilst staying humbly grounded.
What sets this project apart from other Benny Sings albums is the variety not only in sound mixtures, from the neo-soul ballad of “Miracles” to the trap-funk tinged “Kids” with KYLE, but the collaborations that Benny sows throughout. The highlight of these being “Rolled Up” with Mac DeMarco, which we named as one of last years best songs. There’s so much of Benny and DeMarco’s individual personalities shining through on this track that it makes you wish they’d made a whole album. The woozy piano and stripped back guitar has every part of DeMarco’s latest album Here Comes The Cowboy mixed in over the joyously catchy melody. Then as Benny croons in over the simplistic synth rise you feel instantly elated just at the sound of his laid back voice as he grapples with self doubt. “Is this my life? It’s not too bad, Still I’m rolled up, tossed out” he declares, going back to the juxtapostion of melancholy over uplifting chords.
This is definitely a sparkly clean album that shines with a natural delight in its often tender and funk filled movements. If you’re a longtime Benny Sings fan this album will be everything you want and more. And if you’re a casual listener then prepared to enjoy the chattering piano lines of one of indie jazz’s most prolific artists.
Juan Wauters has shared new single “Unity” with Cola Boyy from upcoming album Real Life Situations, set to be released on April 30th via Captured Tracks. This follows on from “Real” which Wauters released with Mac DeMarco and “Presentation” with Nick Hakim and Benamin.
The new single is an ode to 90’s hip-hop and is both a testament to the pairs longtime friendship as well as the time it was made in. Driven by a Fresh Prince Of Bell Air style laid back beat, the pair go back and forth with Wauters auto-tuned vocals delivering sweet melodies that perfectly swirl around Cola Boyy’s sharp delivery. It’s jazzy, it’s funky and most of all it reminds us all of those sweet friendships we’re missing at the moment.
Brooklyn based 3-piece Wild Pink have today shared new single “Pacific City” from upcoming album A Billion Lights, to be released this Friday via Royal Mountain Records. This comes after they shared “Oversharers Anonymous” and “You Can Have It Back” which will also appear on the upcoming album.
The band, which is rounded out by bassist T.C. Brownell and drummer Dan Keegan, formed in New York City in 2015 and put out a handful of EP’s before releasing their critically acclaimed self-titled debut in 2017. It was a sophisticated showing for a band’s first album, but it was the striking maturation of Yolk In The Fur that established Wild Pink’s unique sound: a glistening variety of pastoral indie-rock akin to The War On Drugs, Death Cab For Cutie, and Kurt Vile, but informed by classic American rock poets like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.
The ten songs on A Billion Little Lights are adorned with fiddles, violins, wurlitzers, saxophones, accordions, pedal steel guitars, and a variety of richly textured synths and keyboards. In addition to the instrumentation, Julia Steiner of the Chicago band Ratboys provides beautiful harmonies throughout the record, her soft voice recalling the friendly glow of a porch light when it switches on behind Ross’s dusky coo. On past records, Ross’s breathy delivery rarely raised above a hushed murmur, but here he sings with a melodic confidence that makes songs like “Pacific City”, “Die Outside”, and “The Shining But Tropical” some of the catchiest, most anthemic cuts in the Wild Pink catalog. The band have never sounded dated or nostalgic, but the lingering twinge of Americana in their sound has always given their songs a familiar, classicist resonance.
Contrary to the album’s title, this is not the first time that keyboardist May Kershaw, saxophonist Lewis Evans, guitarist Luke Mark, drummer Charlie Wayne bassist Tyler Hyde and violinist Georgia Ellery have performed together. However, it is in-fact the first time they have performed under this particular name. It is important to mention this before anyone moans about them appearing out of nowhere or being ‘industry plants’. Nevertheless, BCNR have made a name for themselves as part of the South London gig scene over the last two years, joining the ranks of Squid, Black Midi and Goat Girl and relentlessly working despite the obvious COVID restrictions.
Instrumentally it would be easy to lazily pile them in as Slint worship (Which is referenced on “Science Fair” since music journalists refused to shut the fuck up about comparisons towards them.) but the outcome tends more to veer towards acts like Duster, Low or even the later material from The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. This of course is only a framework for trying to define what they soundlike because they’ve already formed their own sound without needing to adhear to any lazy Pitchfork worship.
In keeping with being unconventional, the opener is a five minute organic jam, full of lingering repetition yet accessible beats and sharp melodies. In a live scenario you could only imagine how much this would hype an audience up before the collective takes the stage. It’s a reminder of that quote from Howard Moon of The Mighty Boosh that goes; “You hate jazz?, you fear jazz with its lack of rules.” This is exactly what he was on about.
Frontman Issac Wood’s delivery on many of these tracks comes across as wobbly, aggressive and unhinged. You can feel a sense of dread and anxiety coursing through the phrasing of these narratives, ranging from mildly sorrowful on “Athens, France” to roaring full blown melt downs later on in the record. “Track X” and “Science Fair” are the most narratively sound and perhaps as a result bring the highest sense of individual identity. Ironic considering that the unpredictability of where these songs take you can make it hard to appreciate what role each member will play, which often requires multiple listens to achieve full appreciation.
One minute you might be lulled with a pretty guitar line or alluring violin section, the next it might feel like someone’s stabbed you in the gums with a screwdriver. Wood’s lyrics often feel like someone writing fragments of thoughts on the iPhone notes app before forgetting what they were actually thinking about. Like watching a David Lynch film, trying to always find clear meanings in each sentiment will ultimately frustrate anyone trying to read between the lines with notions such as; “Now all that I became must die before the forum thread, the cursed vultures feed and spread the seeded daily bread.”
Fans who’ve been following BCNR for a while may understandably be disappointed that two of the six tracks on here are reworked versions of previous singles, however there are polishes and vocal inflections that at times can change the songs overall delivery. On ‘Sunglasses’ for example, the warm, fuzzy intro chords leaning into the earworm melody is far more effective the the single version in the context of listening to this record in its entirety. Harrison sounds more like he’s accepting his fate of becoming a boring cunt like the father of his partner rather than screaming in denial. Even the line “The absolute pinnacle of British engineering, I am so ignorant now”, oozes with melodic allure rather than a sardonic quip. As the cacophony of instruments blend into a breakdown and tempo change, his character morphs into the very same normie that he feared he would turn into, all whilst failing at any attempts to hide his insecurities. Think of that sunglasses emoji, but with tears streaming down its face.
8 minute closer ‘Opus’ is by far the most theatrical of offerings on here. It finds its balance between sounding like a sadcore indie offering in the softer sections and a mariachi band set on fire in the louder parts. The result is a bleak, tumultuous journey where our character reaches the end of his relationship. Evans saxophone work here is flawless, building up tension in the slower sections as it becomes a fiery release between each verse. With Harrison’s final, broken vocals with the lines “What we built must fall from the rising flames”, the sentiment that nothing is built to last comes to its conclusion. The final melody in particular resonates and sticks to your very core.
Rather than trying to guess what Black Country, New Road will do next, it’s probably best to enjoy this meandering experience without any predictions. For The First Time is a phenomenal debut that will hopefully secure the group’s future for years to come.
Tamara Lindeman has embraced the motion of becoming a front woman, and The Weather Station’s sound is all the brighter for it. This is the fourth album from folk singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman and co. under The Weather Station moniker, following on from 2017’s self titled The Weather Station. With over 10 years under their belt the Canadian outfit have shifted and changed a fair bit in that time, coming from their simple guitar lead folk beginnings they now return with an album that’s as full of grandeur as it is heartbreak.
Throughout this album Lindeman wears the weight of the world on her shoulders, quite literally on “Wear” as she sings “I tried to wear the world like some kinda garment”, questioning her own comfort in the world. It can be hard sometimes to differentiate whether she sings of heartbreak in her personal life or of the world around her, but this only adds to the depth that is felt within Lindeman’s words. On “Seperated” she sings of the way in which the world communicated with each other through social media, and the vast divide in opinions that leads to great levels on disparity. “Separated by all the arguments you lose, Separated by all the things you thought you knew”. Taken out of context however you would assume she is referencing lost love.
That’s not to say however there aren’t some true moments of heartbreak sewn within. “Loss” revels in the realisation that accepting pain is often easier than trying to tell yourself that it’s not there. “Loss is loss, Is Loss” she assuredly repeats on the chorus; repetition as of hope to remember. Then closer “Subdivisions” breathes through its piano ballad verses and excruciatingly beautiful chorus deliveries to sing of a journey of escape, only to come to the revelation that maybe it was all a mistake. “What if I misjudged, In the wildest of emotion, Did I take this way too far?” Lindeman sings as the song closes out, and this question is left open to ponder with nothing left to say.
Taking from that notion however she looks to nature to find the beauty that still thrives throughout the world. “You know it just kills me when I, See some bird fly” she remarks on “Parking Lot”, revelling in the notion of the way society must be perceived by nature and the parallel beauty and sadness of knowing that they can do nothing against the destruction we cause. On “Atlantic” she muses in the notion of trying to turn yourself away from the tragedies of the modern day “Thinking I should get all this dying off of my mind, I should really know better than to read the headlines”. Of course we all need breaks at times when looking out into the travesties that happen on a daily basis, sometimes however it feels we can’t escape them and Lindeman invokes this feeling as she closes out the songs with “Oh tell me, why can’t I just cover my eyes?”; she can’t escape the ignorance.
From the minute this album starts you can hear the confidence and emotion pouring out at every seem. The jazz-centric fanfare of “Robber” sets the tone for the whole album, evocative in understated embellishments of emotion. There’s something subtly cool about the instrumentation used in this album, always used as a spacey and flowing backing force for Lindeman’s vibrant storytelling, never becoming to reaching or overpowering. “Parking Lot” feels like it could be a cut straight off of The War On Drugs’ Lost In The Dream as the rolling piano line dances and drives the track along backed with waving violin melodies and a driving groove. There are moments where the stringed sections swoon with pure grace and emotive drive, like on “Separated” that builds to an almost unsettling climax, to be gently backed down by Lindeman’s crooning falsetto. There can be other moments where the instrumentation gets a bit too loose and unmemorable. “Wear” has all the grandiose in its chorus of other cuts on this album but doesn’t offer too much in the way of variety and some of the background flairs feel a bit too last minute.
But perhaps the most understated, yet continually powerful sonic element of this album is Lindeman’s effortlessly cool vocal performance. She never tries to reach out too far beyond her reach, and yet you can hear every last bit of emotion as she narrates this tale of earthly ignorance. She’s not hear to sing her heart out to the heavens, but to give her perspective of a broken world, and well if you want to listen then that’s up to you. At moments her vocals can become buried in the soundscape, becoming intertwined in the backing melodies, however this only makes you appreciate the grander moments even more.
A triumphant and heartbreaking collection of groove filled, challenging and naturally free-flowing songs is the end result of what Lindeman and co. have created here. Not only defining their sound and voice, but refining what The Weather Station can be on a grander and ever expanding scale.
Juan Wauters has shared a new single “Real” with Mac DeMarco along with an accompanying music video directed by Matthew Volz. Wauters new album Real Life will be released on April 30th via Captured tracks, pre-order here. This comes after Wauters released his Más Canciones de La Onda EP last year which we named as one of the best of the year.
DeMarco last year featured on Benny Sings single “Rolled Up” and Yellow Days’s “The Curse“.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have shared new single “O.N.E” and an accompanying music video directed by Alex Mclarren. This comes after they released “If Not Now, Then When?” back in December, coming only a few weeks after their 16th studio album K.G. Read our original review here and where we placed it in our albums of the year list here.
The Australian 6-piece have also just announced their first show of 2021 at Sydney Music Bowl, Melbourne on February 26th with Tropical Fuck Storm as support. Tickets are on sale on Monday 1st of February.
Too often does music become oversaturated with huge levels of production and plastic sounding instrumentation that the core element of a song becomes lost. Maeve Aickin does everything but that. With just a guitar, piano and some vocals Aickin has graciously crafted a collection personal stories of trying to gain control over change as she became alienated from her body following a diagnosis of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrom. The result is her intimately rich debut album Waiting Rooms, released via Corkscrew Records yesterday. Written between 2018 – 2020 and recorded at the start of lockdown with a bunch of borrowed equipment, Aickin has created an album that is both influenced and fresh. With a sound that reminds of the early Angel Olsen Strange Cacti/ Halfway Home era, it’s a duality of hazy and vibrant movements. Sparkling and distant guitars glide around the soundscape as Aickin sings with both passion and restrain, letting out just enough for you to hear the deep emotions buried beneath. We spoke to Maeve ahead of the release of her debut album to learn a bit more about the Minneapolis based singer, and what she’s all about.
What drew you to music and how did you get into it?
The way that songwriters are able to tell stories in multiple dimensions is probably what first drew me into music. I loved country as a kid, and Bonnie Raitt was (and is) one of my favorite performers. “Too Long at the Fair” is a forever song for me; those first couple of lines, “Jesus Christ, wept and died / I guess he went off to heaven” are indelible in my mind. That melancholy yet simultaneously comforting story is told through pristine lyricism coupled with such precise instrumentation and production. At the end of the day, I just love storytelling, so I think it makes sense that “Illinois” by Sufjan Stevens is what got me into more independent music. I heard “Chicago” for the first time in sixth grade and I felt like I was listening to something I had never quite heard before. I saved up to buy the album on iTunes, and the rendering of those quintessential American stories in full color, intimated with such an exacting brush, forced me to pay attention to everything. For the first time I was researching individual lyrics and poring over artist interviews to try to find significance within every syllable. And of course, sometimes you just write a line because it’s a good rhyme. But that wasp in “Palisades” was a symbol I obsessed over for years. I wouldn’t be surprised if I wrote a dissertation about that song.
What’s the creative process behind a song?
I don’t think that I’ve ever written a guitar part or melody before writing lyrics. I have great respect for folks who are able to do that, but it’s just not how my brain works yet. Usually I accumulate phrases and through the serendipity of tracing experiences together they start to become songs. Sometimes it’s sort of a sneeze that I write in one go then refine and sharpen once I’ve had some time away from the experience; that’s what happened with “Harriet” and “Elsewhere.” With “Temple,” it took me a much longer time to figure out what those words meant to me, to position myself within the ethos of the song. The first verse was a joke that I wrote after finishing my Psych homework. Most of the song was nonsense for a while, just hung lopsidedly around the chorus idea, which I stole from my middle school journal, and then I passed this place of worship that was literally dug out of the ground in the middle of a field. The image was so resonant for me in a sort of ineffable way. I realize that part of songwriting is self-mythologizing, and projecting yourself onto your surroundings. That temple does not mean anything in and of itself, but in the song, it means what I externalize onto it and then present as a given through narration. Even as I recorded “Temple” for the album I knew that it was true to my experiences but I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant. And then, a couple weeks after finishing tracking, I was diagnosed with OCD. It was sort of a funny and reassuring moment because I thought “oh, that’s what the song is about!”
Your songs tend to focus on a more simplistic sound, just vocals and guitar/ piano. Is there any particular reason for this?
The boring but true answer is that those are what I had access to. My family moved countries near the beginning of the pandemic, so I didn’t have access to my acoustic guitar or any kind of percussion. Since I wrote most of the songs on an electric guitar it made sense to record them on that instrument, but I definitely think there is space within Waiting Rooms to expand. Someday I hope to have access to a synth and mess around with its capabilities, and on the second LP I definitely want a more spacious sound. But for this project, I hope that the writing is strong enough to transcend the simplicity of the instrumentation. It might not be, and that’s okay, but at the very least it’s a good capsule of where I was at while writing and recording it.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Aaron Weiss, Lianne La Havas, Pianos Become the Teeth, and Adrianne Lenker are big influences in terms of songwriting. I remember listening to Big Thief for the first time and hearing “Real Love.” I thought, like, “I didn’t know that you could say that!” Lenker is just so crushingly honest in her writing. It’s brutal, but comforting at the same time to hear someone giving voice to the thoughts that consume you. Phoebe Bridgers does something similar where she articulates these incredibly dark, impressionistic thoughts and then is able to joke about them. There are a bunch of really dumb jokes with myself on the record, and even if I’m the only one who ends up enjoying them, I like lightening the heaviness of the subject matter with humor. Anjimile is another artist who I’ve become obsessed with in the last year. They have such a singular voice as a writer, and their skill with the guitar is virtuosic; they can articulate these deep and urgent ideas just across the fretboard.
You said you wanted to start playing music after you saw Julien Baker live, what does this moment mean to you?
I worry that I talk about this moment too much, but it really is the reason why I taught myself guitar. Seeing someone so full of conviction, someone with such magnitude and poise launch her voice out to us transformed me. She gave such a generous and graceful performance. And to witness her do this while wearing a rainbow flag guitar strap, maybe it’s cheesy, but I saw myself. I felt boundless. I thought, “I could do that too.” Maybe not as well, maybe not to the same effect, but I could try. My loftiest aspiration is to write something that makes someone else feel the way that “Rejoice” makes me feel.
If you could be a support act for any artists who would it be and why?
Maybe Moses Sumney just so that I could watch him perform. His recent Afropunk gig was so captivating and thoughtful. He obviously writes stunning music, but his understanding of performance as a discipline, his creativity and ingenuity, it blows my mind. I guess in that respect it would be terrifying to open for him because I can’t do anything close to what he accomplishes as a performer. I’d also selfishly love to open for Soul Glo; I’ve been blasting their new EP all weekend and want to see it played live so bad. I’m realizing this is less a list of artists I want to open for and more a list of artists I want to see in concert.
Favourite concert you’ve been to?
I saw Charly Bliss at 7th Street Entry when they were on the Young Enough tour and it went so hard. Eva Hendricks is a riveting, lightning in a bottle performer. Boiling it down to just her energy might be minimizing the amount of work she puts into performing live, but I felt like there was nowhere in the world she wanted to be more than on that stage singing with us.
Favourite show you’ve played?
I had a dream that I was a member of boygenius, so that completely imagined concert probably takes the cake.
What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again?
I think just being around other people who love the same thing I do will be wild. While I have a deep appreciation for artists who are putting on virtual shows, the energy of being in a room, whether you’re playing or watching, where everyone just loves music is preternatural. It feels kind of like the best church services; everyone is on the same page and they just want to celebrate a common love.
Any future musical plans?
I’m writing the second LP right now. I have no idea when it will be done or when it will be recorded or even how it will be recorded, but I’m stoked because this is the first time I am consciously writing a record. In its infancy, Waiting Rooms was just songs I was writing because I didn’t know what else to do with that weight. Eventually I became aware of the reoccurring themes and started writing with the intent of creating a body of work, but I’m taking the opposite approach with this project. It’s kind of forest instead of trees. I know what the overarching concept is, and now I’m starting to home in on sub-ideas within that concept and trying to define my relationships to them. This is much more immediate, but I also have a virtual gig on November 29th through an organization called High Plateau Productions, and I’m launching a music blog in January.
Where would you like to be in a year’s time?
I graduate high school this year, so I’m hoping to go to college next year. I really don’t know what I want to be doing otherwise; hopefully playing shows, organizing, reading. However trite it may be, I take a pretty one-day-at-a-time approach to my life. It’s that Eliot line that I realize has been quoted to death, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” While I think for Prufrock it’s a reflection of his discontentment, his neuroses, for me it’s a positive thing. Predictability is an unsung quality.
If people want to find out more about you, where should they go?
My music is on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Apple Music. You can find me @maeveaickin on Twitter and Instagram. Links to my music and gigs can all be found there.