British rising stars Hookworms caused a debate on Twitter when they highlighted the use of alcohol as payment for bands when they play gigs. It’s worth reflecting on as the mental health of musicians is something that has been to the fore recently and it made me reflect on the unwitting harm we can do to others, even when we mean well. The alcohol rider is an accepted, usually unwritten part of a band’s performance contract but maybe it’s a practice that does need reconsidering. But now, on with the music!
The ever inventive Maribou State have teamed up with Houston’s psychedelic soul masters Khruangbin on the sublime Feel Good. Like the previously featured Turnmills, it’s another track from their upcoming album. But whereas the latter has a quietly hedonistic quality to it, Feel Good goes for a more unflustered, reflective sound. Featuring world beats and rhythms overlaid with intricate and textured vocals, loops and effects, it feels like the perfect soundtrack for greeting a new dawn in some exotic location. New album Kingdoms In Colour is due out in September, you can find out more here.
Gothenburg’s Tracy Irve is not a person, but in fact a brother and sister duo; Alex and Linnea Herlogsson to be precise. Recently signed to Playground Music Scandinavia, new single Until The Day I Die shows once again the label has an unerring ear for quality. Vocals glide over a glistening guitar melody, as the electronic rhythms flow like honey over chilled percussion. Possessing a cinematic air (fitting as they’ve worked on Hollywood soundtracks), lyrically it comes across as a standard love song, but the noirish ambiance lends it a double meaning, to my ears at least. There can be a thin line between love and obsession and as to which Until The Day I Die refers to I’m not quite sure – and that makes it even more of a musical gem.
The name alone makes you do a double take; I don’t think I’ve ever come across as song called Profiteroles before. And this one, the new single from London’s Starling is a sweet and strange confection for sure. Despite the thumping opening bassline it’s no club banger, but a honied oddity – a sugary surface belies some darker lyrical undercurrents, capturing a perverse positivity in mundane events – because awareness of them is the first step in escaping to something else, something more personally fulfilling. The track is taken from Starling’s forthcoming EP The Soul which will be released on June 22nd.
Solar Flare by The May Project is a beautiful song, but it’s more than just a stunning piece of music. Auckland’s Katie Brown has created a little universe around the song and its parent album Elpis, consisting of the album, a novelette and a capsule clothing collection by her label Etta Every. The song, like her designs, has a sleek, simple surface but on close inspection Solar Flare belies that with its ethereal and elaborate sound. Light without being fey and possessing a real inner fortitude, it shows that strength and beauty can be fused to make wonderful art. You can find out more about overarching Elpis venture here.
Coming from a darker, at times more claustrophobic musical universe is Germany’s bülow with Sad and Bored. Featuring a guest appearance from Duckwrth, every second of the song is shot through with an intense ambiance, lyrics and arrangement colliding as if matter and antimatter, the resulting implosion causing an emotional maelstrom. Like a lullaby for the damned, it attracts the listeners’ attention even as it puts up a wall of anger and pain, but that makes it all the more engrossing. The song comes from the brand-new EP, Damaged Vol. 2 which is out now and you can check it out on Spotify.
A wonderful mix of technological wizardry and earthy mysticism, The Silence by neo-classical composer Mari Sainio has a quixotically timeless quality to it. The vocals transport the listener to another place, forebodingly ethereal, inviting you along on a musical and psychological journey (the track was inspired by Sylvia Plath) but always at an emotional remove. Filmic and fantastical, as if the mourning song for a world that may never have existed, its beauty lies in an ambiance of soft, comforting sadness. The track comes from her upcoming debut album Minus 25 which will be available in limited edition vinyl and CD versions.
The second single from Benedikt’s Fascia EP, Havana Nights sees the Canadian artist push his sound in to new, more personal and adventurous musical territory. The vocals are at once unhurried yet unsettling, as if the personification of erotic, erogenous night. Sensual in its closeness and exploration of desire, it calls out for its passion to be appreciated and reciprocated by a potential lover. Balancing its emotional tone between ecstasy and fixation, it’s a song to be enjoyed, but not trifled with.
Leeds quintet Luna Pines are carving out quite a unique niche for themselves, with their mastery in blending the more restrained tones of dreampop and downtempo with classic song writing and an ear for a good hook – both lyrically and musically. That’s very much what you get with Spring; a sense of gentility and calm flows over the occasionally tricky percussion and a warm, welcoming arrangement. Think the abstract floating joy of Cocteau Twins crossed with Fleetwood Mac pop-rock sensibility and you’ll get a hint of the soothing, catchy undertones of Spring. It’s a real highlight of the band’s The House We Lived In album which you can listen to on Bandcamp.
Delius meets Daft Punk on the quirky yet inventive and accessible Space & Time by Canada’s Sparkee. Featuring on his Technically Impossible EP, the melody and structure allude to a more classical era of music, but the bassline and synth leads keep the track very much in the now with hints of trance and futurepop bubbling in the mix. Uplifting and reassuring in tone, the track is carried along by a rich piano melody that puts me in mind of running water and a slowly building but ultimately energetic tempo that gives the whole affair a very sophisticated edge.
2017’s Bathwater was a great calling card for British duo Weslee, with its blend of soulful vocals and beatific percussion creating a sound that fused a pop sensibility to a more crafted, textured aesthetic. The recently released 9F EP has built and expanded on that sound, with Somebody being the highlight of a really strong set of songs. Capturing a more urban British sound, but one dappled with sunlight and organic tones, its freshness and lyrical fearlessness are a perfect soundtrack for summer in the city, one where parklife and partying mingle easily.
That’s it for this week we hope you enjoyed our selection this time round. We’re taking a short break from the roundup as we revamp our online presence and restructure a few things behind the scenes but be sure to check out the rest of the website for new music and more. Thank you!