Oh I do like to be beside the seaside. Apologies if you’re working this morning but I’m on the prom, prom, prom, listening to seagulls and waves and children screeching and screaming. Ah, the British summer holiday. Especially now as no one can fly anywhere. Whilst I lounge around with two different flavours of ice cream down my band t-shirt, here’s this week’s Tracks of the Week. Booooom.
Shamir – Our Song
Why we love it: Because Shamir has a voice to die for. Just listen to ‘Our Song’ and you will hear exactly what I’m talking about. Expressive, striking, a remarkably fluid instrument, as tender as it is tough, it just soars and soars.
‘Our Song’ is the second single to be drawn from Shamir’s forthcoming second album Homo Anxietatem which will be out on 18th August via Kill Rock Stars.
Talking about ‘Our Song’, Shamir says “It took about three months to write this song, which is the longest it’s ever taken me to write a song. The music video is a love letter to my band. Grant Pavol and Rhea Freed are the only reason I still play live. I wanted the video to focus on the three of us as a band.”
And talking about playing live, Shamir has lined up a series of shows here in the UK in October. If ‘Our Song’ is anything to go by, these dates promise to be something a bit special. (Simon Godley)
Ash Red – Control
Why we love it: Cork alt-rock band Ash Red have released their new single ‘Control’ on Blowtorch Records. The trio comprising Arthur Murray, Tadhg O’Keeffe and Isaac Walsh have created a track heavily influenced by the likes of Joy Division, The Cure and Gang of Four, however they look through the lens of these bands and create their own sound. ‘Control’ has an atmosphere which captures the listener, yet this is not a slow track but one that moves forward at pace. Dominated at various points by both bass and guitar and accompanied by a cantering drumbeat ‘Control’ aims to explore the intricacies of human emotions and relationships. The vocal is full of emotion, reflecting on the theme of the gradual realisation that a once-close connection is becoming distant. The instrumentation is at the forefront here, the atmosphere created saying so much that lyrics are not required throughout the whole song. ‘Control’ follows previous single ‘Downtown’ released last month. I’m already looking forward to hearing what comes next from this Irish trio. (Julia Mason)
Drab Majesty – The Skin and the Glove
Why we love it: Enter the shoegaze dragon, recreated here in all of its 90s glory by Drab Majesty, the musical vehicle driven with such style and grace by Deb DeMure, the alter-ego of L.A.-based musician Andrew Clinco, and their partner Mona D (Alex Nicolaou).
‘The Skin and the Glove’ is the second track to be taken from their forthcoming mini-album, An Object in Motion, which clocks in at 32 minutes and is set to be released on August 25th via Dais Records.
Four years ago I had the good fortune to catch Drab Majesty in Leeds where they cooked up a synthetic storm of goth, new wave, garage rock, and metal. ‘The Skin and the Glove’ affirms their creative versatility as they cross further musical frontiers, this time into the lands of shoegaze and dream-pop. (Simon Godley)
John – The Common Cold
Why we love it: The duo JOHN comprising John Newton (drums, lead vocals) and Johnny Healey (guitar, backing vocals) have released a new track from their incoming fourth album, A Life Diagrammatic which is set for release on 22 September via Brace Yourself and Pets Care Records. New single ‘The Common Cold‘ is the final track on the album and it’s a foreboding song, sitting within an industrial soundscape. Slower paced than previous JOHN tracks it’s nonetheless gripping in its intensity. Sampled noise is used to emphasize the damaging role of traditions in our present and how these traditions often prevent positive changes in our future. The distorted vocals and static fuelled white noise seem to send out a warning. The quieter mid-section have both guitars and drums stripped right back but the bursts of scratchy static add a tension to the overall vibe. ‘The Common Cold’ fades out leaving uncertainty and thus curiosity in its wake.
John Newton expands on the influence behind ‘The Common Cold’: “I’m often thinking about the changes of technology since our childhood as two individuals that grew with the appearance of mobile phones and the internet. It’s now increasingly hard to remember the years spent previous to this. Only dwindling examples, like finding out about music from now-defunct printed magazines bought from now-disappeared corner shops.”
“It’s a well beaten statement, but these networks have monopolised as a central focus point, where the individual is often indirectly coerced into feeling inadequate when operating within these systems. It’s no wonder mental health has become an ever-increasing battle – a common cold that doesn’t necessarily display its symptoms externally. I often think about the quote from electronic musician Burial (paraphrased by the late Mark Fisher) whereby we think we have free will when operating these networks, but it’s easy to flip this, and see the interface as a kind of Ouija board that actually directs our hands with consumerist intention.” (Julia Mason)
Grandaddy – The Town Where I’m Livin Now
Why we love it: Because hearing this song and reading its accompanying news takes me right back to all those wonderful times that I saw Grandaddy in concert. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the Californian trailblazers’ sumptuous third album, Sumday and ‘The Town Where I’m Living Now’ is the lead single to be taken from Sumday: Excess Baggage, a thirteen-track collection of rarities and b-sides taken from that period and which is due out on August 25 on Dangerbird Records.
Jason Lytle, the man who to most intents and purposes was, and quite probably still is Grandaddy said: “I like making songs like this. Lots of bleak but sweet visuals. Everyday stuff available for everyone to see…but some of us just end up with the twisted work of documenting it.”
Quite why Grandaddy never seeped into the wider public consciousness alongside similar sonic explorers of that time like The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev is only reinforced when listening to ‘The Town Where I’m Living Now.’ The song harnesses Grandaddy’s customary sense of adventure and desolation whilst again achieving that high-water mark of emotional empathy. (Simon Godley)
Deeper – Tele
Why we love it: Chicago band Deeper share the third single from their forthcoming album Careful! set for release on 8 September via Sub Pop, their first for the label. ‘Tele’ follows ‘Sub’ and ‘Build a Bridge’ and it opens with crisp beats before the melodic and moody vocals kick in. The synths dominate here and the overall atmosphere is one of 80’s electronica but with a Deeper infused spin. Its hypnotic pace pulls the listener in until the sharp finish, abrupt and yet somehow wholly appropriate.
Deeper expand on the influences behind the new track: ”‘Tele’ is a song without its shield . In past Deeper compositions, we would hide behind jerky guitars and abstract vocals telling a story only we could decipher. With ‘Tele’ we wanted to explore the vulnerability behind our music and give focus to the melody and mood of the song. Replacing guitars with synthesizers and drums with samplers we stumbled upon a new way to approach a Deeper song.
We wanted to make a darker track that people could dance to. Since the foundation is built on a sampler beat, it’s the kind of song we could’ve only created with the limitations of the pandemic. The electronic components left more space for the rhythm, so our engineer Dave started playing with a busier bass line for the verses and laid down the hook on the first pass. At the end we wanted the synth parts to constantly overtake one another and hopefully make the listener feel like they’re being swallowed into the song.”
Deeper have an extensive live schedule from September to November in support of Careful!, with North American dates from September 21st-October 22nd, and European and UK shows from October 31-November 14th. See you down the front. (Julia Mason)
Fiddlehead – Sleepyhead
Why we love it: Noisemakers Fiddlehead have released their new single ‘Sleepyhead’ from their forthcoming album Death Is Nothing To Us, due out 18th August 2023 via Run For Cover Records. The track is an explosion of hardcore energy led by the vocals of Pat Flynn. However it also contains more melodic parts emphasizing the range of Flynn. Combine this with the pounding drums and pacy guitar riffs and you have a Fiddlehead track to lose yourself in. A complement, as music can take us to another place and at times that is exactly what we need.
Vocalist Pat Flynn discussed the new song, saying: “There’s no real great lyrical upside to this song. I wanted to write a song that could capture the stuck-ness that comes with deep depression. Ultimately, this is a song about tuning out and looking away from the brokenness in one’s life on earth in favor of quick comfort. It is kind of a conversation between two people or two minds. The so-called ‘Sleepyhead’ is a woeful person depressed by the way of the world who chooses to deal with the sadness of it all with excessive sleep. Somewhere in there, however, is a voice of reason that offers perspective – but, to no avail, as the two voices come together in resignation to the weight of the hold that a thick ‘bout of deep depression’ can lay on someone. I see the song as essential to the arc of the record, which ultimately turned out to be a climb out of such a sad state. So, perhaps that’s the upside?”
With the news that the new album Death Is Nothing To Us sees Flynn seamlessly interweaving his thoughts on life, death, and all the joy and tragedy in between with references to Roman philosopher Lucretius; the author Jean Améry; other musicians like Bad Brains, Alex G, or Wire; and even titles and lyrics from Fiddlehead’s own back catalogue, release date cannot come quick enough. (Julia Mason)
Seagoth – Methuselah
Why we love it:Seagoth‘s spellbinding new song ‘Methuselah’, is a spiraling pop song cascading with infectious guitar hooks above a twinkling electronic bed, and decorated with singer Georgia Ochoa’s wistful vocal performance that swells with heart, acknowledging the anxiety induced by the passage of time and looking the future dead in the eye with hope. It’s an inventive and beguiling pop song from the Liverpool based group that shivers somewhere between Chromatics and Caroline Polachek.
They say it’s inspired by a biblical figure of Methuselah “a representation of my fear of the passage of time,” says Ochoa. “I thought that the idea of a human living for almost a thousand years was such a perfect and ironic symbolism for my anxiety. It also made a pretty decent track name. I’m not necessarily a religious person and I don’t typically write about religion either, but learning about the lore really sparked my interest.” (Bill Cummings)
Why we love it: Gradually introducing itself with addictive organ motifs, popping beats and a wonderous vocal in the Spanish language, Melenas ‘s recent single ‘Dos Parajeros’ (Two Passengers) is a wonderful delight, a pick me up in uncertain times.
They say it’s about “people that travel with you, that you carry in your thoughts wherever you go, that somehow illuminate your path in life and accompany you in every moment.” An infectious track that slides somewhere between early Stereolab and Melody’s echo chamber, yet has it’s own illuminating orbit. It’s the sound of growth and finding strength in community and those whose presence you bring with you on your next adventures, two hearts connected as they travel, the entwined vocals have a entrancing quality that wraps itself hopefully around your heart and gives you a warm glow.
Melenas new album due in Sept on Trouble in Mind we are excited to hear more fruits from this record. (Bill Cummings)