Five Things We Liked This Week – 29/01/2016

5. Rebuilding The Empire With Laura Gibson

The writing of Laura Gibson’s second album Empire Builder comes with a back story that reads more like the script of a Noah Baumbach film than your average press release. Following the release, and subsequent critical acclaim of her debut album, 2012’s La Grande, Laura relocated from her native Portland to New York, where she studied creative writing and took some time away from music. As she was settling into her new life her apartment in the Lower East Side was rocked by a tragic gas explosion that killed two people and injured many more. Thankfully Laura was unhurt, but her possessions, including instruments, lyric books and all forms of identification were lost.

Empire Builder, named after a train she took on her way to New York, is the sound of a life being blown wide open and gradually pieced back together. The album, recorded with John Askew and featuring guests including Peter Broderick and Alela Diane, won’t see the light of day until later in the Spring, but this week she shared its first single, The Cause. Recalling the likes of Feist and Jenny Lewis, this is the sound of Laura stepping out of her folk-tinged routed into something brighter and poppier than those familiar with her work would initially imagine. The multitude of instruments and sonic layers on the record are all handled with delicate aplomb so it never becomes overly crowded or claustrophobic and it sounds like an artist, like many before Laura, producing their best work from a time of great trouble in their personal life.

Empire Builder is out April 1st via City Slang. Laura Gibson tours the UK in April, click HERE for details.

4. Mae’n anodd gwneud pun ofnadwy pan Gwenno yn ysgrifennu yn Gymraeg

Title presented with sincere apologies for our/Google’s bastardisation of the Welsh language!

Former professional dancer, turned Pipette, turned utterly fascinating and wonderfully un-commercial solo star Gwenno has this week shared the video for Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki, the latest single to be lifted from her critically acclaimed debut album Y DYDD OLAF (The Last Day). The video picks up the songs themes of, “a dystopian future where robot overlords have taken over the world and we’re all rapidly being turned into clones”, and pictures Gwenno dancing into the void as she waves away her humanity for the final time. That it’s shot to looklike a 1970’s Sci-Fi film should come as no huge surprise to anyone.

Y DYDD OLAF is a concept record taking inspiration from Owain Owain’s 1976 novel of the same name. The record itself covers topics from the patriarchy, to government funded propaganda and the death of minority languages, all set to an accessible kraut-rock groove, memorably described by Pitchfork as, “like a transmission from a house party on the moon”. Wonderfully, uniquely, defiantly different, and all the better for it Gwenno might just be exactly the pop star the modern world needs but doesn’t realise it is missing out on.

Y DYDD OLAF, is out now via Heavenly Recordings. Gwenno heads out on a UK tour in March, click HERE for details.

3. Sign Us Up For A Eureka Moment

How do you take a really good noisy punk band and make them even better? Well getting MJ from Hookworms involved generally works rather nicely. That’s exactly what Athens, Georgia duo Eureka California did. Whilst on tour in the UK last summer, including a superb set at Indietracks, they headed to Leeds’ Suburban Homes Studio and recorded their new album Versus.

Versus won’t be out for a couple of months yet, but this week they’ve shared the first cut from it, Sign My Name With An X and it sounds wonderful! Clocking in at under two minutes, it’s a no nonsense, no frills, no excess blast of riotously noisy noise! Marie Uhler’s visceral drums propel the whole track along, as Jake Ward’s guitar manages to sound simultaneously tunefully accessible and absolutely huge, whilst his sparse vocals reverberate intensely and largely just repeat the songs title! They’ve never sounded more focused, streamlined or exciting, and for a band as good as Eureka California that’s saying something.

Versus is out via Happy Happy Birthday To Me on March 26th. 

2. In L E W Of Anything Else, Listen To This

Sara Lewis is a guitarist and singer from the city of Roskilde in Denmark, although now based in Copenhagen, who makes music under the pseudonym of L E W. Sara first came to the world’s attention with a well received debut EP, Drenched In Light, back in 2013. This week Sara has confirmed details of the debut L E W album: Black Feathers will come out later this year via the DME label.

Whetting appetites for the release is the album’s first single, Lights On, the video for which is exclusively premièring here in the UK. Described by Sara as, “the silence after a huge downslide”, the track has a very Scandinavian sense of drama and discontent. Building from a bed of glistening synths and rolling drums via a beautifully unhinged and mechanical sounding guitar and gently swooping bassline, it recalls the intensity of the early work of Sharon Van Etten or Torres. Sara has spoke of wanting to capture more of the essence of her live show into her recorded output and step away from the tightly produced electronic sound of her previous output, if the crashing beauty of Lights On is anything to go by that was a very good idea indeed.

Black Feathers is out April 22nd via DME (Danish Music & Experiment)

1.Glaspy With My Little Eye Something Really Good

Although born in the exotic sounding Red Bluff, California, Margaret Glaspy moved to Boston on the back of a musical scholarship at Berkeley. Although she couldn’t afford to stay at Berkeley for long it was in Boston that Margaret fine-tuned her songwriting skills. Now based out of New York, this week Margaret has detailed her signing to ATO Records and shared her first release for the label in the shape of double A-side single, featuring tracks You & I and Somebody To Anyone.

With an album due in the summer, these first two tracks are a tantalising glimpse of both the scope and ambition of Margaret’s musical output. It’s perhaps unsurprising that someone who cites Bill Withers, Elliot Smith and Weezer’s Pinkerton as influences should produce a diverse array of sounds, and even on these two tracks there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Margaret is one of music’s natural magpies. You & I is the more instantly gratifying of the two, all raw guitar-lines and crashing drums in brings to mind a less bored sounding Colleen Green, whilst Somebody to Anybody is a more nuanced and low-key affair, allowing her voice to soar and swoop it brings to mind the melodies of Elliot Smith and the gorgeous vocal tone of Sea Lion or Reservations. Lyrically smart, and musically intriguing, even the boy whose hearts she trampled would find it hard to argue it wasn’t worth the pain for songs this good!

Margaret’s debut album will be released this summer via ATO Records. Margaret Glaspy is on tour in the US now, head to her WEBSITE for details.

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