Additional listening: Wildfires, Moon Bros, Vomitface, Belle Mare, Adam Torres, Cocktails, Pink Milk, Art D’Ecco, Hiva Oa, In Letter Form, Higgs Boson and The Strange Charm, M.Craft, Lawrence Arabia, Sam Evian, Dan Michaelson & The Coastguard, Nico Yaryan, Heaven For Real,The Jet Van Set and something rather special from the Soundwalk Collective featuring Patti Smith.
5. Kismet Me, Kill Me
You may remember in a round-up last month we included I Can Change, the first single from Haley Bonar’s latest album Impossible Dream. This week the Minnesota raised songwriter has shared the video for a new track from that album, Kismet Kill. The video, directed by Nicole Brending plays into the track’s themes of growing up too fast, and sets them in a deranged world, as if David Lynch has re-imagined a modern day Alice, not in Wonderland but in an all too real world of drug use and unwanted pregnancies.
The track itself is a blast of reverberating guitar, gun-shot snare drums and lyrical ruminations on ageing, discovering who you are, and the regrets of who we were, as Haley sings in the chorus, “I was impossible when I was beautiful.” Whether they turn out to be impossible (unlikely) or beautiful (likely), come next month we’ll hear the fruits of her latest recording sessions. To our ears Impossible Dream is already sounding like it might be very special indeed.
Impossible Dream is out August 5th via Memphis Industries. Haley Bonar tours the UK in October, click HERE for details.
4. Permanently Golden
The story of Chris Staples’ new record, Golden Age, is a somewhat remarkable one. Life can’t get much tougher than a type 1 diabetes diagnosis and a pancreas failure, a bike accident and hip surgery, all underpinned by the ending of a long term relationship. Chris went through all that, but following a period mourning what his life was, he made a conscious decision; he tore down his shrine to the past and embraced life once more, he quit his part time jobs and decided to focus on his music, the result is Golden Age.
We won’t here the full album until August, but this week Chris has shared the first single from that record, Relatively Permanent. The track echoes Jeff Tweedy at his most laid-bare, or Sparklehorse with a little light let in; it’s a gentle strum of an acoustic guitar, a meandering lead, an ooohed backing vocal and a lyrical glimpse at the potential that, for good or for bad, all things must pass. A sparkling reminder of what a talented songwriter Chris Staples is, and more enticingly just how good Golden Age might be.
Golden Age is out August 19th via Barsuk Records. US readers can catch Chris Staples live, click HERE for details.
3. Not Dead Just Pinon For The Fjords
Pascal Pinon are the sister-duo of Jófríõur Ákadóttir & Ásthildur, which we’re sure are much easier to pronounce if you can speak Icelandic. This week they have confirmed details of the upcoming release of their third album, Sundur. The album lifts its title from the Icelandic proverb, sundur og saman, which roughly translates as “apart and together.” It’s a rather appropriate title as the album was largely written during the first sustained period of time the sisters have ever spent apart, following Ásthildur’s move to Amsterdam to study classical piano and composition.
As well as confirming details of Sundur, Pascal Pinon have also this week shared the first taste of the record, in the shape of new single, 53. The song’s heartbreaking lyrical themes come from a chance meeting with a boy whose mother had committed suicide when he was just a child. As Jófríõur puts it, “I was beginning to understand that people don’t live forever. I wished there was something I could say to him but I didn’t know how, so I put together this song, as a kind of consolation or a message to him.” The track itself is stunning; an acoustic guitar plays a repeated picked motif, as electronics burble in and out of earshot, and Jófríõur’s beautiful vocal washes across the track with all the intricate emotions of Natasha Khan. Heartbreaking and beautiful, it’s a track that should probably come with a warning to not listen without access to something to cry into if approaching it feeling sad or overly tired.
Sundur is out August 26th via Morr Music. All Pascal Pinon tour dates can be found HERE (currently that’s one festival in Denmark in August)
2. The Timeliest Blues On Earth
Sweden’s Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man On Earth, has this week shared the first new material since last year’s album, Dark Bird Home. This comes in the shape of a new single, Time Of The Blue, what does this release mean? Is there a new album in the pipeline? We haven’t got a clue, but we do know it’s rather good.
Released alongside an impressively all-encompassing batch of upcoming tour dates, Time Of The Blue is Kristian at his most stripped bare. Led by just a fluttering, almost-Spanish sounding acoustic guitar and his powerful, emotive vocal, it’s almost a throwback to his earlier output, although none the worse for that. Latterly a gentle wash of horns reveal themselves, adding a touch of Colliery Band melancholic grit, which is rather stunning. Whatever Kristian’s got planned for the future, this is a very promising next step.
Time Of The Blue is out now via Dead Oceans. Click HERE for details of all upcoming The Tallest Man On Earth Shows.
1. Jewel In The Mirror
Nite Jewel is the solo moniker of Californian electro-pop star Ramona Gonzalez. Last week she released Liquid Cool, her first album since 2012’s critically acclaimed offering One Second Of Love. The intervening four years have been plagued by label disputes and a desire to get back to what really matters, as Ramona put it “I felt like I was trying to talk to my audience, but couldn’t be heard.” Hauling up at home with an 8-track recorder Ramona finally felt free from outside influences, and free to make the most intriguing music of her career.
This week Nite Jewel has proven her artistic freedom by sharing a track not lifted from the album she’s meant to be promoting at all, but a stand-alone demo recording of an unreleased track, I Fell In Love With My Face. A track she describes as “silly but sincere”, I Fell In Love With My Face is wonderful. A wistful drift of synthesisers, the gentle tick of a drum machine, and Ramona’s frankly stunning vocal. It’s the sound of lonely dancefloors at 1980’s high-school proms; of cold blue lights, bouncing from mirror balls and drenching the room in an icy melancholy. Even the lyrics, essentially a slightly daft take on the tale of Narcissus re-imagined for the Instagram generation, are somehow laced with a quiet longing. If this is just a throwaway demo, you can imagine how good the actually released record is.
Liquid Cool is out now via Gloriette Records.