Five Things We Liked This Week – 14/08/2015

5. John Grant’s Disappointing New Single

We don’t like to bang the same drum too often, and it was only just over a month ago we were celebrating the news of a new John Grant album. However he’s just shared the first single and it’s just too good to ignore!

The new track is called Disappointing, and is what Craig Charles would call both funky and souly. In fact it sounds like John’s been listening to an awful lot of Stevie Wonder and Chic records since we last heard from him! With a guest vocal from Tracey Thorn he continues his habit of collaborating with impressive female guest vocalists, and lyrically the single continues his traditional melancholy exploration of love. “There’s nothing more beautiful as your smile as it conquers your face, there’s nothing more comforting than to know you exist” John sings, and that’s pretty much how we feel about John and the prospect of his soon to be unveiled third album.

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is out via Bella Union on October 2nd. John Grant plays a handful of dates in the UK in November.

4. Never (Widow)Speak Ill Of The Dead

Widowspeak is the work of duo Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas. They first appeared around five years ago with their self-titled debut album. Since then they’ve lost a drummer, relocated from Brooklyn to the Hudson Valley and apparently got a dog. They’ve also just finished work on their third album, All Yours and shared it’s first single, Dead Love (So Still).

The track is an easy-going slice of hazy country music. A winning combination of Robert’s excellent guitar work, part Ryan Adams country-twang, part George Harrison sunshine pop, and Molly’s stunning husky-drawl of a voice that recalls Jenny Lewis or Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries. Lyrically it’s an exploration of unrequited love from the point of view of a teenage Molly, and how that had shaped her more relaxed approach to relationships in later life.

All Yours is out September 4th via Captured Tracks. Whilst they have no tour dates lined up in the UK, they tour North-America in October.

3. That’s The Good Kit

We first stumbled across This Is The Kit supporting The National at their Alexandra Palace dates at the back end of 2013, and without wanting to be too damning we weren’t that impressed. After two years of ignoring them though we switched on Guy Garvey’s new iPlayer show, Music Box and they were the featured artist; we decided to give them another go, and are very glad we did!

The folkish textures of the live show are greatly improved on record, and in excellent new single Silver John they incorporate some superb electronic elements, even giving the intro a slight hint of Joy Division. The accompanying visuals, featuring home movies projected onto singer, Kate Stables’ face, add another layer of hazy, dreaminess to this wonderful track. Time to hold our hands up and give This Is The Kit, and their most recent album Bashed Out some long overdue attention.

Bashed Out is out now via Brassland. This Is The Kit play sets at Greenman and End Of The Road before embarking on a full UK tour in November.

2. Drag It Over The (Hawk)Line

Heavenly Recordings is a rather remarkable twenty five years old this year, and to celebrate they’re putting together a compilation which is being released through Rough Trade Stores. Hidden away amongst some fairly big names, the likes of Mark Lanegan, Toy and Stealing Sheep, is a rather beautiful new track from H.Hawkline, or to give him his real name Huw Gwynfryn Evans.

H.Hawkline is an artist who always seems on the cusp of a commercial break through. A long term collaborator with Sweet Baboo and Cate Le Bon, who produced his most recent album, In The Pink Of Condition, now might just be the moment he gets some overdue recognition. In The Pink Of Condition was an album of odd-wonky pop songs, lightly psychedelic, indebted to The Beatles, Gruff Rhys and Pavement in equal measures; however his submission here is a different beast. It’s A Drag is Lou Reed’s poppiest melodies jamming with David Bowie’s glam-pop phase and a slice of Bob Dylan’s melancholic world outlook: so basically it’s bloomin’ brilliant.

In The Pink Of Condition is out now on Heavenly Recordings. H.Hawkline plays Greenman before heading out on a co-headline tour of the United Kingdom with Gwenno in September.

1. Brand New(som)

 In this age of twenty four hour celebrity access, it’s pretty hard to keep anything a secret. Which is why it’s so wonderfully exciting when someone actually shares a new track and you didn’t see it coming. This week Joanna Newsom actually made some jaws drop, and we’re not ashamed to say a few fists punch the air, when she shared her new single Sapokanikan and confirmed details of her new album Divers.

The album, Divers is due out later in the year on Drag City, and as well as wetting our appetite with a song, she also shared some rather exciting details about the albums conception. It was part recorded with Steve Albini, produced by a combination of Joanna and Noah Georgeson and the likes of Nico Muhly, Dirty Projectors‘ Dave Longstreth, and Ryan Francesconi have all contributed to the album. All of which is rather exciting, maybe that five year wait since her last album is going to be worth it after all.

The single, well Sapokanikan is spectacularly, delightfully like a Joanna Newsom song. The vocal inflexions sounds as unique and brilliant as ever, the array of instruments from pianos, through drums, glockenspiels, flute, double bass and an absolutely brilliant horn sections, still sound as rich and perfect a base for her lyrical explorations as ever and the words themselves still sound like a puzzle that will only become unpicked over time. Add a Paul Thomas Anderson directed video into the mix and it might just be the most exciting thing that’s happened all year, even if the video is not recommended for those prone to motion sickness.

Divers is out via Drag City on October 23rd. As of yet no tour dates have been announced.

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