Tracks of the Week come from the sick bed. The dreaded lurgy has infultrated again, laptop being slapped from under duvet cover. Its cold out there again, people. Wrap up, don’t snog strangers, cough in a hanky, throw tissues in the bin, or set fire to them and warm your hands on them. These barnstormers will warm the cockles too. See you on the other side.
Pit Pony – Accidental Doom
Why love it: Tyneside’s Pit Pony have released their first new music since last year’s debut album World To Me. New single ‘Accidental Doom’ sends a message to those who judge people on the surface, and a reminder to think before you speak. ‘Accidental Doom’ sets off at a blistering pace, the guitars taking centre stage before the vocals kick in. Thunderous yet cohesive this is Pit Pony stretching their wings. The power and passion in the vocal is more than a match for the thrashing instrumentation. However what is unexpected is the mid-track which slows right down, the guitars providing an echoey background, slightly foreboding, which comes to a complete standstill. Or does it? On the track’s themes vocalist Jackie Purver explains: “This song is about judging people on what you see. I suppose anything you do in the public eye to ‘put yourself out there’ invites it, but it doesn’t make it any easier to read or hear comments based solely on what people see on stage or on screen. It’s not your whole self.”
“A lot of the time people mean well by making comments or make flippant remarks that they don’t think anything of, but sometimes they really land. As a woman in music I get a lot more comments directed at or to me than the rest of the band. Remarks about what I wear, what I look like, all things that I have never heard mentioned in relation to my bandmates. I wanted to write a song to remind people to be kind and think before they speak or type. It doesn’t take much to pause before you jump into sharing an opinion.”
Pit Pony are releasing a limited edition 7” single for ‘Accidental Doom’ which will include previously unheard song ‘Fuzzy’, the only place the track will be available to hear. Pit Pony produce glorious noise, and are unafraid to surprise the listener – which is just as it should be. (Julia Mason)
pencil – The Giant
Why we love it: London newcomers pencil announce their signing to Moshi Moshi Records (Anna Meredith, Du Blonde, Girl Ray) and share intriguing debut track ‘The Giant’. It’s unusual to hear a violin so prominent in today’s musical landscape. Coco Inman has performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra and has contributed to projects from Max Richter and Arctic Monkeys. Pencil are led by Kamran Khan (aka Fake Light) who has put down the electric and picked up an acoustic guitar. The quintet also includes drummer Thomas Fiquet (Swim Deep) who switched from sticks to brushes to play alongside Dom Potts’ hypnotic bass, and Cai Burns (ex-Kagoule) who moved down from Nottingham, as lead guitarist. Pencil are the first act from Moshi Moshi’s relaunched Singles Club (which has previously delivered releases from Florence & The Machine, Friendly Fires, The Drums, Lykke Li & more). ‘The Giant’ is like nothing else at the moment. Dominated by violin and vocal it’s a stripped back affair. The expectation from the listener is that this is going to ramp up but even though the vocal is impassioned in parts, and there is a gentle introduction of a strumming guitar, this doesn’t happen. ‘The Giant’ is hypnotic and mesmerising right to the final pure note. Pencil have made a statement of intent with this their debut single. I suspect they are a band who will not compromise, and will be all the better for it.
Speaking ahead of its release, the band explained: “‘The Giant’ is a song about the pain of growth – growing up, growing apart, growing old. It started life with Coco’s violin. The whirlpool arpeggio immediately caught our ears and we started figuring out a chord sequence for the verse together. The idea sat as a voice memo for a few days before one rare morning, when all the lyrics were written in one sitting. We then arranged the song as a band before recording it live with Polly Mackey aka Artschool Girlfriend at Goldsmiths University.” (Julia Mason)
Maruja – One Hand Behind The Devil
Why we love it: Manchester four-piece Maruja have released their new single ‘One Hand Behind The Devil’. The combination of vocalist and guitarist Harry Wilkinson, drummer Jacob Hayes, bassist Matt Buonaccorsi, and saxophonist Joe Carroll creates a maelstrom of sound. ‘One Hand Behind The Devil’ is no exception. With a single saxophone note the track quickly moves into a crashing drum part. The vocals that follow are impassioned and fierce. The turbulent soundscape then continues until there is a slight shift, and static and buzzing electricity take over. The vocal part now leads, layered over the saxophone and bass. In previous Maruja tracks it’s the drop that would follow but on ‘One Hand Behind the Devil’ the saxophone is given the space to weave in and out. The final minute is a stop start section, how tight do you have to be to accomplish this so crisply? All hell then breaks lose to the end, as is befitting the title of the track.Is there a message here? Are Maruja guiding the devil with their music? Perhaps. Having seen Maruja play recently at Manchester Psych Fest and Sheffield’s Float Along festival, I can testify that their live show is where the full impact of their sound is unleashed. And sound just doesn’t feel like the right word to use, such is the impact of their music right into the depths of the listeners very being. Maruja have a string of UK and EU tour dates this autumn and winter. And with the news that their initial run of vinyl for their debut EP, Knocknarea, has now sold out, I suggest getting a ticket as soon as possible. (Julia Mason)
Beatowls – Please Lie To Me
Why we love it: Because Beatowls are a most welcome new addition to the Merseyside musical scene. Featuring Liverpool-based performance artist/vocalist, Darcie Chazen and musicians, Carl Cook and Tom Roberts, the trio have already built up an impressive live reputation and are now about to release their debut album MARMA on 17th November via Violette Records.
Speaking about the forthcoming album, Tom Roberts says, “It invites listeners on a cinematic type of journey through personal and universal experiences that we hope people can relate to. We explore a delicate balance between longing and pain, the transient nature of time. It delves into the interplay of light and dark. Of nature and the city.”
And to herald the arrival of that record, Beatowls have just shared the first single to be taken from it. ‘Please Lie To Me’ reflects MARMA’s widescreen approach to their music, capturing perfectly its inherent dichotomy of light and shade as it does so. A similar tension arises between the song’s lyrical pain and and it’s bruised tenacity. (Simon Godley)
Annie Dressner – Black and White
Why we love it: Because it should come as little surprise that Annie Dressner is immensely proud of this song. ‘Black and White’ is the stunning new single from the American singer-songwriter now domiciled in Cambridge, England and it arrives ahead a new album scheduled for next year.
Explaining the background to the song Annie Dressner says, “I wrote this song after an encounter with an ex that I had not seen in a decade. It was almost as if no time had passed. I always felt really sad that he would no longer be in my life as he meant a lot to me as a friend, and I often thought that ‘the thing that made me the saddest is I wanted to know you…’.
“I wrote this song as a reaction to our recent conversation, and I guess I didn’t know how to say it to their face in words, but I’ve said it here and I hope that if they ever hear it, they know I still care and mostly remember the good stuff.”
Not only does ‘Black and White’ embody the true essence of Annie Dressner’s ability as a storyteller, it also illustrates her warmth, sensitivity, and capacity for honest reflection. This moving rumination acquires emotional clarity against a similarly open-hearted melody. (Simon Godley)
Viji – Sundress Pink
Why we love it: London-based Austrian-Brazilian artist Viji has shared new single ‘Sundress In Pink’. Taken from her debut album So Vanilla, which is set for release on 27 October via Speedy Wunderground, it follows lead single ‘Sedative’ and has a very different vibe. ‘Sundress in Pink’ opens with a crisply plucking guitar and continues at a gorgeous shoe-gaze pace which the listener can envelope themselves in. This track oozes late summer and with these tumultuous times, we need to be reminded to slow down. Calm and soothing ‘Sundress In Pink’ demonstrates the versatility of Viji as it is sits at the other end of the spectrum from ‘Sedative.’
Speaking on the track, Viji says:
“This song is one of my favourite ones off the record. I’m not sure why but I think the bed of instruments is really comforting to me. The title essentially creates a world in which summer never ends. As long as I’m in the dress I can stay out as long as I want. It’s about escapism, for me it was in people and mostly I didn’t care who.”
Interesting point to note, the album So Vanilla was recorded predominantly in London, in partnership with four-time Mercury Prize nominated producer and Speedy Wunderground label head, Dan Carey (Fontaines D.C., Kae Tempest, Wet Leg). It will be fascinating to hear So Vanilla and to discover where previous singles ‘Sedative’ ‘Karaoke’ and now ‘Sundress in Pink’ sit within the album as a whole. (Julia Mason)
PAWS – Uncertain
Why we love it: Because there is nothing uncertain about ‘Uncertain’. The latest single from PAWS’ self-titled fifth album – due out on 27th October via Ernest Jenning Record Co. and the band’s own Wish Fulfillment Press – swaggers with self-belief. It moves along with an unquestionable style and grace, a propulsive flow of an alternative rock song that is supremely confident in its own abilities without ever spilling over into immodesty. And just for good measure a most wonderful guitar solo, one which J Mascis would have been most proud of, sneaks in before the end? (Simon Godley)