Tackling the ever-present paradox of modern times, of being “more connected than ever, and at the same time, totally alone”, the new single from Holly Henderson calls out for freedom from a prison of our own design. With this track from her forthcoming debut album Monday Green, out 7th June, she offers her view on how we are all just a tap of a button away from each other, but have allowed ourselves to lose touch of the personal, physical connection that gives it all purpose. How we’ve become so fascinated with maintaining a glossy internet alter-ego but get nothing tangible or meaningful in return. Though it is a feeling that is often depicted as being cold and empty, Holly’s take on ‘Loneliness’ breaks the mould with its fiery, unbridled energy. With fierce riffs, propulsive percussion, a dash of psychedlica, and Holly’s passionate vocals, ‘Loneliness’ has no trouble smashing down barriers to make a deep connection.
It is a rare delight when a band that you have high expectations for manage to go above and beyond with a new release, and Belwood favourites The Howl & The Hum have really outdone themselves on their latest single. ‘Hall of Fame’ just launches itself at you right from the blocks with its machine gun percussion and robust post punk riffs, before softening into a vibrant whirl of nostalgic synth tones and bright melodies. It gets your blood pumping with the initial change before immersing you a kaleidoscopic torrent of positive energy. Songwriting has always been the band’s greatest strength, and while it boasts brilliant festival-ready hooks, the lyricism in the verses is ‘Hall of Fame’s greatest triumph. It’s so hard to play favourites; you could sit and argue with yourself all afternoon over what line bowls you over the most. It’s the first major contender for song of the year, and it’s gonna take some beating!
It is said that comparison is the thief of joy, and such sage advice is especially worth noting in today’s media focused society. The latest single from this Scottish quartet looks at seeing people living their best life, seeing people born with a head-start in life finding greater opportunity than yourself, and feeling left behind. A sense of wasted chances, of time poorly spent, of looking at others and wondering “could I be where they are if I had just done things differently?”. It’s a heavy topic to be sure, but ‘tonic youth’ delivers it within such a wonderful wave of positive energy so as to soften the blow. The bright guitar melodies and driving bass line give it real momentum, while the sublime strings just dance circles all over the track. The uplifting musicianship alone is enough to convince me that time spent listening to ‘tonic youth’ is by far and away time well spent.
Rattling off a series of gruesome fates one by one, the latest single from Finn Andrews of The Veils carries the feeling of a song passed down through the ages. Like some children’s playground rhyme with a morbid history long forgotten, or something chanted around a bubbling cauldron by Shakespearean witches, this track from his debut solo album One Piece at a Time is ever so enthralling. The superb lyricism is complimented marvellously by the accompanying video, which is equally macabre and madcap thanks to its blend of dark imagery and wry humour. ‘One By The Venom’ carries an undeniable allure, an inescapable mysticism, the kind that pulls you in deeper and makes you want to listen on repeat until you’ve memorised every last line.
‘A Quiet Place’ begins as just that. Vocals barely a whisper, notes falling on the piano as gently as raindrops, the kind of song that makes you shut out the world and hide away in some cosy little safe haven so you can have it all to yourself. But just as raindrops are how all mighty rivers start, so too does this song build from humble origins into something grand and sweeping. The magnificent classical score lifting your spirit high, and Chiara’s elegant vocals soaring to those same heights, her voice every bit as moving and majestic as a full orchestra. This track from the Swiss singer/songwriter’s Constellations EP feels every bit like the kind of song you would send into the stars as testament to the beauty that mankind is capable of creating.
Songwriting can be a great exercise in catharsis, but to process your innermost thoughts and feelings this way means sharing them with the world. Understandably it’s a real struggle to be so openly vulnerable with anyone who cares to listen, and most artists take many years to build up their confidence before they can truly let their defences down. Winnie Raeder, with her debut single, has released the most raw and honest track you’re likely to hear this year. Written about desperately refusing to face the truth of the one you love leaving, ‘Don’t You Dare’ beautifully juxtaposes Winnie’s soulful pleading vocals with the sparse piano arrangement. Showing the two sides of heartbreak, the tempest of inner emotion and conflict and the bleak, hollow emptiness of loss, with such candour and conviction. Winnie has proven herself to be a fearless songwriter, a passionate performer, and a real artist to admire with just this one track.
Sometimes we get so concerned with the future that we forget about the now. It’s not all that surprising really; we live in uncertain times, and we get other people’s successes thrown in our face through social media. It’s easy to worry about things falling apart or that you’re not progressing as much as everyone else, but sometimes the harder you try to grasp something the more likely it is to slip through you fingers. Sometimes you have to just take a step back, have faith that you’re on the right path, and trust in yourself to get to where you want to be at your own pace. That feeling is captured brilliantly by Cincinnati based artist Curt Kiser on his new track ‘Patience’, with a welcome reminder that “it’s not always better on the other side”. Curt delivers that message under his Carriers moniker with an expansive blend of Americana and dream pop that will delight fans of The War On Drugs. Throw in the fact that the track features Bryan Devendorf of The National and John Curley of The Afghan Whigs and it makes ‘Patience’ everything that an indie fan could ever ask for.
‘The Great Orator’ is a curious creation. It carries a kind of lavish and expansive feel akin to The Family Crest or Arcade Fire, but is tempered by a bittersweet melancholy reminiscent of The National. The result is a sweeping cinematic soundscape that could rush headfirst into something grand and epic at a moment’s notice, but instead holds back and delves into something more elegant, austere and introspective. Like a great mind turning to questions with no answer, or someone who seemingly has everything leaving it all behind and succumbing to wanderlust. Written about “feeling like you’ve discovered something that no one else knows”, it’s almost as though Canadian artist Kuri could blow your mind with ease if he wanted to, but instead takes you by the hand and encourages you to discover things on your own. Both empty and uplifting, like soaring high through the frigid northern sky with clouds obscuring the world below, this track makes you its plaything like no other.
I find I’m the kind of person that resists change. The kind that clings on to the fading summer and laments all the missed opportunities in the face of autumn’s arrival. But as much as we may try to deny it, change is a natural part of life. Whether it’s the shifting seasons or the collapse of a relationship, things have to end in order for something new to begin. It’s only when a tree falls in the forest that new life has chance to reach for the sunlight. Singer/songwriter Elliah Heifetz understands this better than most, and his new track ‘I’m Over Now’ paints heartbreak not as something to drag you down, but as something to build upon, to learn from, and become a better person. With warm melodies tinged with sadness like those fading summer days, this cathartic track shares a mature and moving view on heartbreak that we can all stand to learn from.
When I’m feeling lost or lonely I often find the best remedy is to sit outside and try to feel one with the world. Close your eyes, feel the wind brush against your skin, hear the birds singing, and try to feel like a part of something greater. It’s something that I’ve struggled to put into words in the past, but I feel like the new song from Woods End manages to express it perfectly. The spiralling melodies recalling flocks of birds spiralling in the sky, the soft swell of cymbals like waves crashing upon the shore, it’s dark subdued atmosphere hanging over you like a thin veil of mist; they write tracks that feel in tune with nature like no one else. But in its calls of “how I got here I don’t know” it also captures that feeling of being adrift and alone, offering solace in the fact that you’re not the only one looking for meaning.