Friday, 30 April 2021

LISTEN: bb sway - 'Baby Wants Out of The City'

If the idea of a new track from bb sway doesn't already excite you (I mean, honestly?!) then get a load of the catchy whistling on this one. I love me a whistle-along and I adore this tune. Baby Wants Out of the City is the latest tune from the Hong-Kong born and London-based artist, the first on the label 7476. I first heard her through Habits and I Found Out When the Day Had Come last year and I've been keeping an ear out for new music. I think that lots of people will find the thoughts behind the lyrics are highly relatable at the moment, of wishing to escape the city and to find peace within nature. It's a beautiful sentiment reflected in a track that exudes that same beauty in a kind of shimmery and carefree sound.

On the track, bb sway shares: "This song was particularly inspired by Hong Kong, where high-rise buildings are surrounded by big mountains covered with luscious tropical vegetation, and gnarly roots seep into every concrete crack in the city. Having grown up on an island, I was also always surrounded by the sea, and it wasn't until after I moved away that I realised how closely I felt connected to it." 


Follow bb sway - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

LISTEN: Mandrake Handshake - 'Monolith'

The Oxford music scene strikes again with a reaaaaaaally lovely slice of psychedelica. I was listening through some submissions recently, found myself enjoying this and took a closer look at the press release. A couple of familiar faces looked back at me and lo-and-behold, they're an Oxford psych-collective. Of course. Monolith arrives, produced by Stereolab's Andy Ramsay, alongside news of their debut EP Shake The Hand That Feeds You, due on June 18th via Nice Swan Records. It's a 7-minute long rollercoaster of a tune, and it is glorious. 

On the track, they share: "Monolith is one of our only songs with a more personal approach to the lyrics, broadly about coming of age. For us, the track represents a freedom from the restraints of childhood and simultaneously the anxiety of future independence - uncertainty is the price of being free." 

Mandrake Handshake is Row Janjuah (guitar, synth, bass, percussion), Trinity Oksana (vocals), Liv Duval (vocals), Elvis Thirlwell (tambourine, percussion), Erid Nishku (tambourine, percussion), Charlie Arrowsmith (guitar), Dany Jeffries (bass), Shan Sriharan (synth, organ), David Howard-Baker (fluter, saxophone) and Joe Bourdier (drums). 

Follow Mandrake Handshake - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

WATCH: Charli Adams - 'Cheer Captain'

"I cried, wiped my eyes, and then smiled. Cause they didn't know I was living a lie." 

Charli Adams is a dream, right? She's recently shared Cheer Captain and announced news of her debut album Bullseye, due on July 16th via Color Study and featuring recent singles Didn't Make It and Maybe Could Have Loved. I'm really excited to hear the record - there's a huge appetite for alt-rock at the moment through the likes of Charli's contemporaries Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, Girl In Red, Billie Marten etc. Always relatable on the surface, the new track is pretty auto-biographical and sees Charli waving goodbye to her youth in Alabama, growing up in a deeply conservative and Christian environment. 

On the track, Charli shares: "Cheer Captain is a resentful and regretful song about struggling with a saviour complex as a serial people pleaser. I desperately wanted to be everything for everyone so I became a customizable human being that often went against everything I actually am. It's always felt like the thesis of this project as I touch on my relationship with religion, my parents, and men.

I grew up in Alabama and I was captain of the cheerleading team in my freshman year of high school and a worship leader at a church. I think it's safe to say I was struggling with my identity, in fact I really hated it all so a year later, I started school online and moved to Nashville for music." 

Follow Charli Adams - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Monday, 26 April 2021

WATCH: Mellah - 'Easy Breezy'

Don't get me wrong, I loved recent singles Hitchin and Habit but I *think* that Mellah might have just released my favourite track of his. Easy Breezy has been floating around in my head (it's more than welcome) since I first heard it a few days back. The track arrives as part of the upcoming Them EP - the first in a trilogy of EPs, all due for release this year and referred to collectively as 333. 

Easy Breezy appears on the surface as a colourful and catchy track, but the hooks sit atop satirical lyrics serving as a comment on society's willingness to ignore things that aren't right, to accept things that shouldn't be accepted. It's an approach which runs through much of his work, and he shares that "I often feel quite a lot of anger at society and how people seem to snub injustice as long as it's outside their picket fence. We willingly consume these sanitised shrink-wrapped little canap├ęs of reality, casually indifferent to the blood in the kitchen. It seems crazy to me that most people aren't angry about it, don't rally to change it."

The trilogy of EPs - ThemUs and Me are releasing on Columbia Records, and Mellah describes them as "scratching a compulsive lifelong tic". Through childhood and into adolescence, Mellah had OCD which manifested as a fixation on the number 3 - "to this day I still see the world separated into 3 parts. One thing, its opposite and together the whole; the liminal space between the two extremes, the point of balance, oneness in duality. For example - future, past, now; birth, death, life; good, evil... human." 

He recently shared a documentary entitled Floorspace - a 7-minute visual biography exploring gentrification, generification, consumerism, capitalism, loneliness, mental health, grief, social media etc. It's brilliant and worth a watch here.

Follow Mellah - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday, 23 April 2021

WATCH: Banji - 'Dogbreath'

You all remember the brilliant tune Listen from Banji a few months back, right? (I was so read to type 'weeks' and then found that it came out waaaaaay back in November. Time is confusing.) It was a raucous call to arms, a confident debut from the Utrecht 4-piece. They're back with new track Dogbreath and it is just as brilliant... like Listen's slightly calmer but just as cool younger sibling. There's so much going on in the track... I love the comparison to the collage-like sampling of Superorganism (who you should most definitely listen to). Seriously so groovy. Video (below) was created by Pasqual Amade and it sees the members of the band going around town in animal masks on a night-out. From these first two tracks they seem really fun and quirky and I can't wait to hear more. 

On the track, vocalist Morris Brandt shares: "the chorus was inspired by stumbling across the word 'Dogbreath' in the notes app on my phone (I think my girlfriend put it there??) I recorded the hook with this word in mind, and the rest of the lyrics just fell out. I wanted to encapsulate a type of regret. One that is not rooted in truth, but in appearing truthful. Feeling guilt-ridden about your actions, and wishing it would have gone another way, but failing to accept true consequence. Coming up with excuses instead of dealing with it. Like you can't just fix your breath with a piece of gum, you can't change the situation you put yourself in that easily." 

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Thursday, 22 April 2021

LISTEN: Low Island - 'If You Could Have It All Again'

It's no secret how much I adore Low Island and I am delighted to share a little write-up for their debut album. If You Could Have It All Again was released last week via the band's own label Emotional Interference. Recorded, produced and engineered by the band themselves at their makeshift studio in rural France, the record is very much a DIY project and I am so so proud of my pals for the piece of work they've each put so much into. Carlos, Jamie, Felix & Jacob are stars and I'm so excited to see the journey this record takes them on.

I've had a stream of this in my inbox for a couple of weeks and have been revelling in the joy of it on my commutes to work. Since the release on Friday I've listened to very little else. Longer album reviews in the traditional sense take up a lot of time which I don't really have at the moment - I've recently headed back to work and keeping on top of the site alongside a full time job is difficult, but consider this post a *very* strong recommendation for you to wrap your ears around the new record. (Thank me later!)

The release of their debut record makes me reminiscent of my first days as a fan of the band... looking back, I'm sure that I must have generally discovered their music through the Oxford scene, but a specific gig cemented my love for them. Rushing across Brighton to Patterns with team Tigmus to make sure we were front and centre for their set at The Great Escape in 2017 - it was incredible. I've somehow only managed to see them once more since, at a London headline later that year, but have been completely in love with their output since then. I can not waaaaaait to catch them live next to see just how much their live show has progressed since the oh so distant days of 2017. 

While we're all very aware that recent singles Don't Let The Light In, Feel Young Again and Who's Having The Greatest Time are absolute bops, I've enjoyed getting to know the unreleased tracks on the record. Currently, What Do You Stand For is a stand-out for me, and Momentary is easily one of my favourite tracks of the year. A perfect example, within a track, of the contrasts that exist in the band's music more generally. From a tender opening, layers of sound build into what is sure to be a dance-floor filler. The production all the way through the record is exquisite. 

As someone who feels a little bit like I'm stagnating in my mid-twenties (not helped by the pandemic, that's for sure) having come home after university and finding myself in a string of retail jobs, the themes through the record are all too relatable. At times painfully so, but mostly in a comforting way, as in In Your Arms, an ode to Carlos' childhood bedroom. The record 'takes stock of a twenties filled with false starts, heartbreak and cyclical conflict, and carves a path towards a better decade to come.' 

Carlos describes the album as a product of "ten years of trying to make things work - in music, but also in life, a litany of romantic disasters that have coloured the last ten years of my life." He describes the character he inhabits loosely in the record looking back and saying "have I just really fucked this up? Have I made a royal mess of the last ten years?" It's sorrowful but there is also a lot of hope - dark and light, good and bad. The record exists on contrast. It's real life. It's raw. And it's so SO damn good. 

You should most definitely buy/stream the record and grab tour tickets here.

Follow Low Island - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

LISTEN: CJ Pandit - 'New York Time'

It's good to be surprised, right? Cj Pandit is back with a new tune (rejoice) but he's taking a slight detour from his usual brand of indie-pop for a much more stripped back affair on New York Time. Not what you might expect but as much of a treat as ever, that's for sure, and an opportunity to show off Cj's raw songwriting and vocals on this one. He was recently tipped as an 'Essential Emerging Artist for 2021' by the NME (though CMAT has been shouting about him for a little longer...) and with a year out from touring, he's been busy writing and has plenty more to share. All in good time. For now, New York Time...

On the new track, he writes: “I never understood the idea of a song being plucked out of the ether or ‘given’ to you by some kind of higher musical power until I wrote New York Time.

I was at the lowest point in my life, I couldn’t shake New York, or a person and situation there, or the weight of my own expectations for creating. I was manic, working all over the place with so many different people, but then went up to Liverpool to write some new songs. Those few days were a real blur, filled with hallucinations and something I can still never quite put my finger on. Like watching a sunset, the knowledge to describe it never quite matches the sight or the experience of it. It’s the most honest I’ve ever been. I have little recollection of that time, but it’s a period and a song I'm incredibly grateful for that means so much more than I could ever put into words.”

 


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Tuesday, 20 April 2021

LISTEN: Matilda Mann - ‘Doomsday'

What a joy to have the beautiful sound of Matilda Mann back with a new tune last week. Despite the name, Doomsday is in fact a soothing tune, full of love and hope. Completely enchanting as ever. It's Matilda's first release since her 2020 EP Because I Wanted You To Know and was written during lockdown, a track celebrating the small things that make life good, and the importance of holding onto those in the darker times. 

On the track she shares: “Doomsday was written in December in lockdown. During that time, we really had to cling onto the small things in life, and sometimes it just felt like it was never going to get better. So Doomsday was written to help people feel, that during the worst times, things are going to get better. We have each other and the small things that make life good.”


Follow Matilda Mann - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 19 April 2021

ALBUM NEWS: MarthaGunn - 'Something Good Will Happen'

Joyous news last week from my faves MarthaGunn. After around 7 years of being a band, lots of touring, many brilliant singles and EP releases, they've announced news of their long-awaited debut album (!!!!) Something Good Will Happen, due for release via Communion on September 17th. New single Giving In is out now (video below) and they're heading out on a real life tour (remember those?) later in the year. I love MarthaGunn for their gorgeous harmonies, all too relatable themes and the passion they each exude - a passion to create and to collaborate. They're a really special bunch and I'm so excited to hear the fruits of their labour. Better not wish away the summer months waiting for the record though... 

On the new track, frontwoman Abi Woodman shares: "Throughout my life, like most people, I've had my fair share of ups and downs, emotionally and mentally. This song came about after we had been away on tour for about a month. I had been quite ill and had to miss a few shows. I felt like I had left everyone down. When I got back off tour, I just felt really low. The one person I turn to when I'm feeling low, is my mum. I sometimes feel guilty for baring all my worries upon her, afraid to be a burden. This song is about trying to hide how you feel from others. I like to come across as a strong woman, and I am, so in those moments of fragility, my biggest fear is people seeing me as weak. I tend to hide away when I feel like that. I eventually told my mum how I was feeling and the feeling disappeared within a few days. It's so important to share those feelings with someone and talk about them." 


"This album is us navigating the relationships of our twenties - the failures and successes. Constantly trying to find out who you are as a person, and constantly growing. You don't always grow the same as the people you are with. Sometimes you are on the same path as someone, then suddenly you're not. The overarching theme through this is losing oneself and rebuilding oneself through doing that, you learn a lot about yourself. You're always going to face challenges in life that are going to tell you that you're not good enough and let you question yourself, and it's a constant daily reminder to look after your inner voice, and to treat yourself well by having boundaries."

"I want to connect with people. The beautiful thing about songs is that you don't have to know someone, but you can connect with them through the same song without saying something. I want this album to be able to help people in some way, and give people courage to leave a situation they know isn't right for them, or for the other person. To go after the person they love and to know no matter how bad things may seem, it's just a chapter. Things always get better." 

MarthaGunn tour the UK later this year, starting in Oxford on Sept 30th and taking in venues around the country through October, including London's Moth Club on the 5th. Tickets here.

Pre-order/pre-save the record Something Good Will Happen here.

Follow MarthaGunn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday, 16 April 2021

WATCH: Fickle Friends - 'Cosmic Coming of Age'

Happy Friday and happy Low Island album release day. So much to celebrate! Coming to you on Wednesday evening (time travel) via the wonders of pre-scheduled posts with this ace new Fickle Friends tune. They're following up recent EP Weird Years (Season 1) with Season 2 and recently shared Not In The Mood from it. Latest tune Cosmic Coming Of Age is exactly that: a certified tune. 80s vibes galore, the band are making use of the juxtaposition between the serious emotions portrayed in the lyrics and the oh-so-lively musical backdrop. A joy, as ever! 

On the track, vocalist Natti Shiner shares: "Cosmic Coming of Age is about that transitional period in life where everything seems to fall apart, a kind of quarter life crisis. One moment you have everything together, the next it feels like you have to start life from scratch. In horoscope astrology this is seen as the time of reaching full adulthood, and man does the universe make you work for it! This song is full of lyrical visuals and is best heard on your car stereo, driving into a sunset." 

Known for regularly making their own videos, this time around the band's own Jack Wilson has the director hat on here, for a video featuring Natti as she experiences a whole range of emotions, from despair through to joy. 

Follow Fickle Friends - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

LISTEN: Dizzy - 'The Bird Behind The Drapes' (ft. Luna Li)

Very excited to share this - new Dizzy (you're welcome!) The Bird Behind The Drapes with Luna Li is taken from their forthcoming EP Separate Places. It's a collection of tracks from their 2020 record The Sun and Her Scorch, reimagined and featuring collaborations with a bunch of their favourite artists. I've got a stream of the EP for an early listen and I have to say - you're going to love it. My jaw dropped a little at the list of collaborators. SO good. Born out of the inability to tour the new record and a desire to do something creative, each track brings in inspiration from the specific collaborator and their musical styles, and offers a beautiful example of finding ways to be together when you're not able to be together physically. I am fully in love with this release and can't wait to share more of it. 

On the EP, frontwoman Katie Munshaw shares "The 'Separate Places' EP has allowed songs from 'The Sun and Her Scorch' to go on tour without us. Following some of our favourite artists around the globe from Birmingham, London, New York and back to Toronto. Each song has been reimagined. 'Primrose Hill' is now fiery and tough. 'The Magician' and 'Ten' returned to a state of naive, solemn bliss. 'Beatrice' gains solace with felt piano and harmony and 'Sunflower' sounds like something out of a Super Mario Brothers video game. It's kind of a ride."     

"It felt necessary to have a friend join us on the rework for 'The Magician', a song rooted in friendship to begin with. We met Hannah at an outdoor show in 2019. She took the stage clad with sparkly cheeks and continued to deliver a massive fucking set, which I now know is the norm for her. Our relationship grew into one of cheering on each other's projects from the sidelines; one of my favourite parts of being in indie music. She ended up contributing strings to multiple tracks on TSAHS. To me, Hannah is an artist that signifies precise, skilled, gentle strength and I'm so proud to have had her turn what started out as a simple piano ballad into an anthem for platonic love performed by a million tiny fairies." 

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Follow Luna Li - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

WATCH: Luca Firth - 'Wings'

When the press release for this track landed in my inbox listing influences including Justin Vernon and Sharon van Etten I had a feeling that I'd probably enjoy it. I'm not sure I was ready for just how much I might fall in love with it. Love me a bit of alt-folk. Wings is the debut single from London-based Luca Firth, and it is a stunning introduction to his work. Luring you in with a stripped back acoustic guitar line and enchanting vocals, layers begin to build into a glorious alt-folk crescendo. 

On the track, he shares that it is "a sort of autobiographical statement of where I was at that point in time. While writing and recording, I realised I was kind of just at a loss. I was confused and struggling to picture what I was going to do with my life - as so many people were at the time." 

The track was recorded in isolation in his student halls at Exeter University, a situation offering up its own inspirations and challenges. With just a laptop, microphone and a couple of guitars, furniture was used to create percussive sounds, while Luca rearranged, recorded and mixed songs which he had written over Summer, inspired by a trip to his grandparents hometown in Italy during a break in lockdown. I can't wait to hear more!!

Follow Luca Firth - Facebook | Instagram.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

WATCH: Wallice - 'Hey Michael'

In my *other life* I work in a bookstore, and as the UK starts to open up again, I've been back at the shop setting up the store with all of the shiny new books and welcoming aaaaaall the customers back. It's strange after so much time spent at home watching birds and pottering around in the garden, and I miss being able to spend so much time on the blog when I'm there. Luckily, there is almost always a recent discovery stuck in my head - this one has been there a lot over the past few days. New from 23 y/o US artist Wallice, the track is Hey Michael. It arrives with news of her debut EP Off the Rails this Summer, and features her close friend and producer marinelli, assuming the role of 'Michael' for a verse. 

On the track, Wallice shares: “Hey Michael’ is a revenge anthem for anyone who has encountered a gaslighting, manipulative person. It’s what I wish I would have said to all the ‘Michael’s’ I have met in my life. It can be substituted by many names, we all know or have met a ‘Michael’ though. Somehow the world revolves around them and they just can’t catch a break, because they never do anything wrong and it’s usually your fault. You should have listened to your gut instinct and swiped left on this Michael. This isn’t a man-hating song, it’s just something many people can relate to. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to admit just how bad a friend, date, or romantic partner was and a lot of the time, I would just smile and laugh off stupid remarks but when I think back, I wish I had told them off. But at the same time, my persona in the song is not the best person either. I literally say “I think I want to start a fight, which one is your girlfriend?” The whole song is funny because I am so focused on how shitty Michael is that I don’t even think about how shitty I might be as well."


I love the video - directed by Phil Stillwell, it shows Wallice stuck at a houseparty, encountering various 'Michaels'. Playing on the lyric "hey Michael, you American Psycho" Wallice herself is dressed in a Patrick Batemen-esque business suit, channeling his comically dark (oh, very dark) energy. Watch for yourself above.

Follow Wallice - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 12 April 2021

WATCH: John Myrtle - 'How Can You Tell If You Love Her?'

Instant favourite alert. For you, and for me. New John Myrtle is just as dreamy as recent single Get Her Off My Mind. The track arrives alongside news of John's debut album (!) Myrtle Soup, due via Sad Club Records on 18th June. The beauty of the track is in the contrast of bright and cheery instrumentation with the confusion and anxiety portrayed in the lyrics. So goooooood. It's a genuine ray of sunshine in the shape of a 2 minute track. Get the repeat button at the ready. 

On the track, John shares: "I guess the song is about being sure of the relationship you're in - you can never really be certain you're doing the right thing, you've just got to trust yourself. It's not like you can get a tape measure or complete a questionnaire to tell you if what you're doing is right. This was the first song I had written since I had moved to London. I remember feeling quite alone when writing it, and just really unsure about all the decisions I had made up until that point." 

"I had just broken up with a long term girlfriend who I had partly moved to London to be with, and I had just begun seeing someone who told me she only wanted a casual type of thing going. I remember feeling like everyone I had known always seemed to doubt love in some way, and I wrote the lyrics to this song with that in mind. I was unsure of what the future held for me, and I felt like singing this song was quite cathartic, at least it screamed out that I wanted certainty in my life and answers!"

The video for the track was shot in the model village of Bournville in Birmingham, and made by Bristol-based duo Marie Dutton and Benjamin Saunders. On the thoughts behind it, John writes "we thought it'd be sweet to do it there, quite literally, as I grew up nearby and so it felt very much like I was 'coming home' in a way. We could smell chocolate whilst we filmed as the Cadbury factory is directly opposite, so it was a pleasure for the senses making this video - and I hope it's a pleasure for yours too!"

Follow John Myrtle - Facebook | TwitterInstagram.

Friday, 9 April 2021

LISTEN: CHILDCARE - 'Karaoke Mantra'

I'm a couple of weeks behind on sharing this, but I was very pleased to see new CHILDCARE music arriving into my inbox recently. The first stand-alone track since debut album Wabi-Sabi sees the four-piece opening up a new chapter. Soooo much yes. Eagerly awaiting more music. Recorded at Somerset's Distille Studios with producer Dom Monks (Laura Marling, Big Thief, White Denim) - the new track is exactly the sort of sonic patchwork that I love the band for. The grooviest of vibes, fun lyrics, vocal duelling and guitar parts that make me desperate to be watching them at a festival of some sort. Love this. 

On the night behind the track, frontman Ian Cares explains "for [guitarist] Rich's birthday I bought us tickets to an all-night gong experience. So we packed our sleeping bags and cereal bars and headed to a church in west London, with the promise to 'release old and stale energy', 'energize your life' and 'allow your soul surround your body'". 


Follow CHILDCARE - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

WATCH: Bess Atwell - 'Time Comes In Roses'

I'm falling ever so slightly in love with Bess Atwell. Following up recent single Co-Op, last week's release Time Comes In Roses is equal parts stunner and heartbreaker. Also painfully relatable. There's a really intimate and vulnerable side to this one, captured in the live performance video that Bess released alongside the track. Bess is signed to Lucy Rose's Real Kind Records label and the video is, for me, really reminiscent of the live videos which supported the release of Lucy's latest record. 

Talking about the new track, Bess shared: “I spent the first lockdown living back with my parents. I was privileged to be in the countryside with access to a garden, but it was also very challenging as someone who has a complicated relationship with their family. I kept to myself as much as possible, in the garden and out walking. As someone who has previously avoided self-sufficiency it was a time of personal growth and learning how to deal with my anxiety alone.

As the weather started to shift into summer, I remember being struck by how defiantly the seasons ignored the disruption of the pandemic. It felt like summer hadn’t been told it was now uninvited, and I found its arrival comforting and sad all at once. It feels disingenuous to say that I didn’t think anyone would ever hear this song, but I made a conscious decision to write it just for me, ignoring my usual rules around what is “too self- indulgent” or honest. It’s a reflection on quite an ugly side of me, which is liberating. It feels like the most vulnerable, and yet exciting, release of my career so far."

On the video, Bess adds: "I wanted to film a sparse live performance of the song, rather than a music video. It’s a unique stream of consciousness that I felt lends itself to a performance, rather than trying to contextualise it visually. I didn’t realise that it was quite so important to me to keep the performance very personal until my guitarist offered to sing backing vocals and I instantly declined!"

Follow Bess Atwell - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

EP NEWS: Rachel Sermanni - 'Swallow Me'

I've said it before... Stay Loose are absolutely smashing it with their PR roster right now (as ever). Latest addition is bonafide folk legend Rachel Sermanni. I've (shamefully) not given her back catalogue much of a listen yet but I caught Rachel playing at a Sofar Sounds show a few years back in a tiny Oxford art gallery and remember being left completely under her spell. Excited to share that she is releasing a new EP entitled Swallow Me - and has today released the title track. Rejoice!

The EP was written predominantly while pregnant on tour in the US, and charts the experiences of pregnancy, and of losing things which had played such a large part in her life for years. Travelling the world, creating without limits, living life on a whim. On the EP she shares "the thread that weaves most clearly throughout this collection is one of letting go. Jellyfish go where the current flows. It takes courage to be passive. If you can accept everything, you can embody the jellyfish."

"This song is me asking for some sort of relief, or maybe release. I'm basically asking that the universe give me a break or, at least, a pat on the back. Some form of divine acknowledgement of the heavy lifting I'd been doing (physically and psychologically) in coming to surrender into the changes - of becoming a Ma - and finding love in what felt like a scary situation. In its entirety, with the chorus woven in, it is a balm in that it accepts that this path is my path."

Rachel's EP Swallow Me is due 4th June.

Follow Rachel Sermanni - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

EP NEWS: John Revelle - 'It Was Always Too Late'

Folk fans, rejoice. One of my absolute favourite things to do with the blog is to share debut tracks. It's a privilege to be one of the first people to listen to a project before it gets sent out into the world. Particularly special this time, as the project is from Bear's Den founding member Joey Haynes, releasing solo music for the first time under the name John Revelle

It's no secret how much Bear's Den mean to me, and I know lots of people who will be very keen to hear more from John! It was a lovely surprise to find first track This Bird Has Flown in my inbox last week from John himself, and I'm excited to share a little more info about the track and the upcoming EP It Was Always Too Late, due May 1st. John is releasing all of this independently so any support, including following on social media to see news of upcoming releases and shows (links at the bottom of this post) will be really helpful! Over to John...

The song originally had a different melody and chords and was in a major key, but it just didn't sit quite right with the lyrics. I was trying to convey the helpless desperation of being stuck at a stage in the grieving process after a breakup, and it just felt too gentle and mellow in its original form. I tried to channel that feeling of frustration of living a life suspended, unable to move past the heartbreak. The arrangement and production is a fairly obvious (to me, anyway) nod to Harvest-era Neil Young, and I even got to dust off the banjo which I hadn't been playing much since I left Bear's Den.
The song was recorded and produced by my good friend and notarised legend James Wyatt, a real renaissance man who plays with everyone from Lianne La Havas to George Ezra. He plays, engineers, and produces like it's nobody's business, and I absolutely would not and could not have made this record without him. We met randomly at a mutual friend's New Year's Eve shindig in Mexico in 2018, and bonded over a shared love of tequila and James Taylor. We both lived in London, but only met for the first time halfway across the world. When we got back to the UK, we started recording, mainly in his home studio, with a couple of days booked in bigger studios to record horns and the rhythm section. Wyatt's a very busy man, so the sessions were spaced out and often shoehorned in between his numerous other musical engagements. Looking back, that was probably for the best, as this was a real learning process for the both of us. It definitely gave me time to work on my singing (much needed, and still very much a work in progress), and also allowed for the songs to grow into themselves sonically.

The original plan was to release the songs about a year ago, but yeah, Covid happened, and everything was put on hold. After months of holding out in the hopes that the pandemic subside sufficiently to make it possible to play gigs and festivals to support the release, I finally decided to pull the plug. I still plan to tour and play the songs live once the world opens up again. There's a real DIY ethos permeating the making of this EP, and it's completely self-funded and independently released, and I'm very happy with the result and look forward to sharing it with everyone.
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Monday, 5 April 2021

LISTEN: Hailaker / S.Carey - 'Wavepool'

The concept of a long weekend when I've been off work for a few months is confusing to say the least. A lazy Easter Monday morning was had and I wasn't planning on posting anything here today... but I'm back off furlough in a couple of days so taking the chance to write while I still have it! Delighted to share this gorgeous new track from favourites of the blog Hailaker, who have partnered up with Wisconsin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist S. Carey. I'm not familiar with Sean's solo music (yet) but most of you will certainly be fans of a project to which he has long contributed drums, keys and vocals... Bon Iver.

On the release, Hailaker (Ed Tullett and Jemima Coulter) share: "We're v excited to share 'Wavepool'. It was a dream and an absolute pleasure working with Sean, who we're both huge fans of. Wavepool is the first song we've ever worked on totally remotely and serves as a timestamp for us of this last year - it feels v good to release it!" 

Very much a collective, Hailaker itself exists across countries - with Ed Tullett and Jemima Coulter working between Cardiff and Bristol, alongside Ali Lacey (Novo Amor) and Portland, Oregon-based collage artist Mike Roth, handling the project's artwork. This track coming together across the internet and a mere 4000 miles is therefore not so surprising. Produced in isolation with help from Ali, the track uses a trumpet sample left from recording sessions for the band's debut album, with Jemima and Sean's vocals wrapping beautifully around it and one another's. As dreamy and chaotic as you'd like a Hailaker tune to be.

Exciting news round-up time: Hailaker are working on their third album, while Jemima Coulter is finishing up her solo album - with singles expected later this year. Sean released a 10th anniversary deluxe edition of his S. Carey debut All We Grow in December, which you can check out here.

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Friday, 2 April 2021

LISTEN: heka - ‘(a) wall’

I must admit that I was really excited when Paddy from Balloon Machine and Stay Loose sent this track over to me. The track is (a) wall by heka, the latest artist to sign to the Balloon Machine label. Based on how much I loved the Laura Fell record they put out last year and knowing Paddy's exquisite taste, I was already basically sold on it - but the mention of Hailaker being involved only served to pull me in deeper.

heka, AKA Francesca Brierley, a solo artist living in London though raised in the Italian hills, has announced her new EP (a) and this is the first track from it. Co-produced with Ed Tullett (of Hailaker) and with Jemima Coulter (of... you guessed it) on trumpet, it's a really special tune. Very much unlike anything else you'll listen to this week and that you might have listened to for a while. In the best way. The blend of vocals and production is at once enchanting and haunting. A thrilling combination - I was enthralled from the first listen, dived straight into my stream of the EP (due 19th May) and listened all the way through twice in a row almost without realising. Check out the single below...

On the track, heka writes: "I guess the song is an ode to anger. Not in an absolute sense but as the cathartic alternative to the numb powerlessness that can take over and swallow every other emotion when we find ourselves in a painful or shocking situation. 'Hate' in this sense is seen as a way to eventually move past the grief, especially in the face of someone else's lack of action, or evasiveness, which can be overwhelmingly paralysing." 

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Thursday, 1 April 2021

WATCH: Low Island - 'Who's Having The Greatest Time?'

Sits down to write a post about the new Low Island track. Gets distracted listening to the Low Island back catalogue. Oops. 

So so so excited to see this new track from the Oxford four-piece land in my inbox late last week. Premiered by *actual* master of radio Zane Lowe on his Apple Music show on Monday night, Who's Having The Greatest Time? is the last taster of their upcoming record If You Could Have It All Again, due 16th April via their label Emotional Interference. How is it that this band simply never put a foot wrong? Sonically, the singles from the record have each been quite varied, but that essence which ties them together and makes each so obviously a Low Island track is just so damn good. They're something special. I have the full record in my inbox (!) and absolutely cannot wait to find a moment to check it out. 

On the release, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter on this track Jamie Jay shares "Who's Having The Greatest Time? is about the negative performative nature of Instagram, an environment which is constantly telling you that everyone only wants to see strength and victories, but seeing either of these makes us consistently depressed and insecure. The song is from the point of view of someone challenging a friend about how they both have come to use the platform. They then toy with the tempting and liberating idea of leaving the whole thing behind for good." 


A Low Island live set is something to behold, and you're in luck - they've just announced an actual tour. Hold the phone. It'll be their first live shows in two years, kicking off in Oxford on 3rd September (would love love love the world to align so that I can be there for that one, please?!) and taking in Manchester, Brighton and London before Bristol and Nottingham for Dot to Dot Festival

You can pre-order the record and grab tour tickets here.

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