You know those times when a whole season seems to pass you by in a single day? Every time you look out the window the weather is doing something different. You see your surroundings change so starkly in such a short space of time, see a different side to them in dreary drizzle, blue skies, or golden sunsets. I get that same feeling from this new single from LA duo Junaco. The aptly named ‘Willow’ has the uncanny ability to shift and bend into whatever shape the pair will it. The dark, gothic folk opening becomes slowly imbued with bright melodies, warm Americana guitar tones begin to ring out, before they change things up even further by swapping vocal duties and throwing some jangly indie pop guitar and expressive drums into the mix. All this variety, this spectrum of emotions, yet all connected by a single unifying thread.
It’s great to find something new, but let it be said that there is certainly a special charm to be found in the familiar. After all, that’s how most of us discover new music; we hear something we like and say “I want more!”. Case in point the new track from Dutch band Niko is such an inviting amalgamation of elements from songs and artists that I adore. ‘Myself’, already a brilliant critique of the break-down of our self-centred society, also boasts a main riff reminiscent of Rush’s ‘Limelight’, a soaring solo akin to that found in The Only Ones’ ‘Another Girl Another Planet’, and vocals that are sure to win over fans of classic indie. What’s more impressive is that this potent patchwork proves to be greater than the sum of its parts, injecting much of their own character into the infectious melodies.
The ever astounding Welsh wonder Hannah Grace has released perhaps her finest track yet. On ‘The Bed You Made’, the title track of a forthcoming EP, she channels heartbreak into creating something truly heavenly. Lyrically it’s as open and heartfelt as they come, and the perspective it offers on the feeling of being betrayed and yet finding contentment in herself shows real strength and maturity, both as a person and as a songwriter. The simple yet soulful arrangement offers such warmth and comfort that the song just seems to embrace you and hold you close until the world seems that bit brighter. I also love how the majority of the video was filmed across a single long take which really adds to its open and honest atmosphere. As always though, it’s Hannah’s gloriously versatile vocals that steal both the spotlight and your heart. She’s going from strength to strength and her debut album just can’t come soon enough.
Belwood favourite REN is back with a brand new track, and my, ‘Blue Hounds’ is a curious one! There’s a real dichotomy at work here between the music and lyrics which on paper shouldn’t work, but in practice REN has pulled it off with real panache. Musically it is an example of introspective folk at it’s finest. A track in the same vein as Nick Drake that just makes you want to stare off into the distance, feel the breeze across your skin, and wonder what it all means. Lyrically however, it’s a politically minded rally cry. Inspired by Britain’s ongoing political clusterfuck, it takes careful aim at the government’s failings, as well as the darker fringes it’s been encouraging, and shares a call to stand firm against those that put themselves above the people. Each of these things, the airy folk vibe and scathing political commentary, are difficult enough tasks on their own, but to nail both as well as ‘Blue Hounds’ does is a real feat of songwriting.
Nailing that dreamy bittersweet atmosphere can be tricky, but not for Brooklyn band Looms. On this new single from their forthcoming album The Way Up they make it seem almost effortless. ‘Eclipse’, so named as it was written on a rooftop in the middle of one, is equal parts sad and sanguine, with the latter owing much to the vibrant guitar work of Wilco’s Nels Cline. Written post break-up it feels as much of a celebration of what once was, as it does a lament at the fact that it’s no longer there. Part of the song’s bittersweet charm is in how you can approach it from either perspective; as a warm smile with sadness behind the eyes, or the first rays of hope blooming in someone feeling downtrodden. It can empathise or it can energise, that part is down to you, just listen and see where it leads you.
There’s always a place in my heart for artists that are versatile, that aren’t afraid to change-up their style and try new things. Lots caught my attention with her darker side a couple of years back, but her new single ‘Be Naked’ shows a different facet to her talents. As the title suggests this track is a much more intimate and vulnerable affair. The melodies warm and welcoming like the first sun of spring, its lyrics written directly from the heart. Following a journey of finding acceptance with a relationship falling apart, at times feeling almost like a confessional with herself as much as with a lover, it’s as honest and sincere as they come. ‘Be Naked’ shows the kind of emotional maturity that most people, never mind songwriters, fail to show. Being true to and accepting of your deepest feelings is a difficult task, to put it into song even more so, but Lots Holloway has managed it with this latest track.
Sometimes there’s real beauty in chaos. In the waves crashing haphazardly upon the shore, or the unpredictable flicker of flames that we find so bewitching. The new single from Brooklyn’s Russian Baths is certainly chaotic – it’s wild, and fierce, and uncompromising – but also beautiful. ‘Slenderman’, taken from their Penance EP, is an exhilarating ride wherein each element plays a key role. The wild percussion teeters on the precipice of disorder, imparting such a volatile vibe to the track. The relentless pounding bass is like the footfalls of some unseen horror rushing towards you, while the whirlwind guitar bursts forth and spirals towards the heavens. At the centre of it all are the serene hazy vocals, the calm at the eye of the hurricane. Really, this whole track is as mental as it is marvellous.
‘Casual Drive’, in spite of what its name suggests, feels far from casual. It’s brimming with purpose right from the first few notes. This latest single from Scandinavian duo Sail By Summer is not built for leisurely trips along winding country roads, rather for hammering down the highway. Though the track boast some superbly layered synths, and guitar tones that light up the track in staccato bursts like fireworks in the night sky, what really sells this track is the rhythm section. It’s in the driving post punk bass line and effervescent drum flourishes that the track finds the energy that wins me over. The relentless march onward without ever looking back on the road behind. Not that I blame them, as if there are more tracks like this on the road ahead then it’s sure to be worth the journey.
Love isn’t about grand gestures, it’s about the little things. A touch of their hand, the sound of their laughter, a little smile that just melts your heart. Those intimate moments that may seem insignificant to the rest of the world, but they mean the world to you. It’s the little things that make you fall in love, and they’re also what you miss most if that love should fail or falter. That same sentiment is echoed in the new single from alternative pop duo CUTTS. ‘Breathe’ strips things back so that it’s just the piano and the vocals that take centre stage, and speaks of the memories of minor things that made a love grow being the only part that remains when all else has faded away. The more you listen, the more this honest and understated track winds its way into your heart.
If you asked me to describe the perfect late night drive song, the end result would likely sound a lot like the debut single from Supercaan. If anything, ‘The Bull’ is a nocturnal adventure all on its own. The driving post punk bass line is at the centre of it all; never faltering, concerned only with moving forward. The shimmering synths seem to spark into life and then fade away back into the night like all the sights that pass you by, while others seem to build and grow like the warm glow of a city that you’re winding your way towards. The deep, purposeful vocals just resonate with you the same way thoughts echo through your mind in the inevitable introspective moments. An absolute must for fans of The National, ‘The Bull’ is a great start for Supercaan and I’m excited to see where this particular journey leads.