So much of who we are is intrinsically tied to the turn of the seasons. Who among us hasn’t felt uplifted by the first sun of spring and seeing the leaves and flowers begin to bloom. That moment of transition which brings a lightness to your heart and a comforting feeling of familiarity. It’s a peculiar sensation, and one that seems to burn brighter with each passing year. Whether we realise it or not, captured in that moment is the memory of shifting seasons from ages past and all the changes they wrought. In the first azure sky of summer we remember the boundless feeling that came from our carefree adventures, with the first cool breeze of autumn we recall walking with loved ones beneath the golden falling leaves, and with winter’s first flakes of snow our inner child jumps for joy every time. With her blissful new single ‘Fresh Drone’, Amy May Ellis encapsulates that sense of reflection and nostalgia. Perfect for fans of Billie Marten, its light and airy folk arrangement is the perfect analogue for the feeling of simply closing your eyes, listening to the birdsong, and feeling the breeze across your skin. Taken from her upcoming EP When In The Wind, ‘Fresh Drone’ hangs over you in a delicate haze, like a fading dream still clinging on through the first light of morning.
There’s a subtle art to sparse arrangements. It’s all too easy for it to feel like there’s something missing; like you’re a solitary voice in the silence, surrounded by empty space yet to be filled. The key is to make the quiet work for you. Incorporating the blank canvas into the artwork itself, making the empty stage part of the story being told. Taken from the forthcoming album The Dark Below & The Isle of Dogs, this stunning song tells the tale of a man beset by misfortune and misery, foul luck forever following just a few steps behind, and struggling to find someone to help carry the weight. The song’s sparse nature amplifies all the feelings it evokes; the sorrow of being stuck on an endless spiral, where misfortune breeds more misfortune out of all your control, and the isolation of feeling like burden and a bad omen for those around you. More than that, it lets you savour each mournful rise and fall of cello, and allows the raw, soulful vocals of Sean Murphy the necessary room to captivate you with every plaintive plea. ‘The Ides Of March’ bends the stillness to its bidding and implores you to revel in every detail uncovered by the quiet, no matter how broken and intimate.
Caoilfhionn Rose – Truly
Alternative Folk | Ambient | Jazz
I remember once reading that nearly everyone unfortunate enough to lose an arm or a leg experiences what’s known as a “phantom limb”. It’s so inconceivable that we can just carry on without such an important part of ourselves that our brains simply can’t process it. Even years after the fact it feels like there’s something still there. I’m of the mind that a similar sensation takes hold after a break-up. When those very deepest of connections that we form – the kind where the other person has your heart completely and becomes part of your whole identity – get severed, it’s hardly surprising that it feels like losing a part of ourselves. ‘This Bird Has Flown’ deftly deals with those phantom threads that remain. How that person remains at the forefront of your thoughts long after their gone. How they’re the first person you think of whenever you have news to share, how all your hopes and dreams of the future still contain an empty silhouette of them, and how some part of you deep down will always leave a light on for them to come back. With his debut single, Bear’s Den founding member Joey Haynes (under the moniker John Revelle) traces those tethers while channelling his inner Neil Young. With its gospel tinged chorus and soft twangs of banjo, this timeless slice of Americana will fittingly stay with you for a long while.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the worst of humanity and forget to take a step back and appreciate the good; like our uncanny ability to create, to make something seemingly out of nothing. How words on a page can change history, how paint on a canvas can inspire generations, and how a few plucked wires on a piece of wood can make beautiful music. With ‘Giant Leap’ guitarist Joe Devine offers that same sense of perspective and instils a sense of wonder. Though the song’s odd time signature and rock steady rhythm section form an already engaging foundation, the rest of the track feels like Joe has been let loose to weave an entire world of his own creation. A cathedral of sound from a few plucked strings, he packs so much feeling into this one instrumental. This ‘Giant Leap’ soars into the stratosphere with an exhilarating rush, builds moments of tension as though the ground is racing to meet you, and offers dazzlingly quick and intricate changes like a high speed chicane through the treeline. There are moments of stillness that feel like drifting through the clouds gazing at the world below, and it boasts infectious melodies to rival any pop song. I’ve often wondered why instrumental tracks so rarely break into the mainstream, but hearing it done to this standard I’m conscious now of just how high the bar has been set.
The Paper Kites – Roses
Indie Rock | Folk | Synth Pop
A. Smyth – Last Animals
Folk | Alternative
We all lead double lives. We put on a brave face and keep going through the motions, but underneath we’re all fighting our own battles. All the pain and fear that eats away at us, the hopes that we dare to cling to, the little rituals and small moments of joy that keep us together. Even for the most open among us, no one ever sees the real you, no one truly understands what it’s live your life. But sometimes it’s important to remember that the same is true of everyone else. Whether it’s a passing stranger or those closest to us, they’ve all struggled with things you couldn’t even begin to guess at. With this introspective indie rocker, Benedict takes the time to think on the trials that others have faced and wonder what it’s like to see the world through their eyes. What begins as a blend of love, admiration and regret, thinking back on his own sister’s battle with cancer and the hidden torrent of emotions she must have faced, grows into a more universal message of understanding. With its driving beat, compelling chorus, and Benedict’s striking vocals reminiscent of The National’s Matt Berninger, ‘Sweet Sister’ is a timely reminder to be mindful of each other’s struggles and to walk a mile in their shoes every now and then.
Julien Baker – Little Oblivions
Indie Rock | Alternative
We go through our days being told that our youth is the best time of our lives. Very rarely do we believe it at the time however. We’d whittle away our adolescent years daydreaming of what the future might hold, and it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that we begin to appreciate what we had. That stage of important firsts where every emotion burned its brightest. Heartbreak may have been all the keener, but never again will moments of joy feel quite so boundless. That time where all the people most important to us were always close at hand, not knowing you’d eventually drift apart along different paths and at different paces. With his charming debut EP Adolescence, singer/songwriter Luke Todd stands at a lyrical crossroads between the last days of a fading youth and those tentative first steps into adulthood. Taking a nostalgic look back at the carefree days once taken for granted, as well as reflecting on how growing up takes you by surprise and all the ways it fails to meet expectations, this adept songwriter delivers an assured and affecting first record. Continue reading