Five Things We Liked This Week – 08/07/2016

Additional Listening: Martha, Ralegh Long, Astronauts, Tyson MotsenbockerLes Étoiles, Nap Eyes, Daydreams, Alexis Taylor, The  Parrots, Ciara O’Neill, Bo Rocha, VomitfaceCourtney Barnett, Elle WatsonKeaton HensonYohunaNight Flowers, Blue Spheres, Crocodiles and Twist.

5. The Magic Roundabout

Whilst we don’t like to go on about the same artists too often, we’ll make an exception for Ryley Walker. It was only a few weeks back we mentioned his upcoming record, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, and shared the first single from it, The Halfwit In Me. However after one listen to stunning new single, The Roundabout, we couldn’t help but want to tell the world about it.

Building around the sort of hypnotic circular guitar part and shuffling drums we’re so used to hearing from Ryley, the track really comes into its own when the vocal enters; Ryley’s vocal melody takes on a touch of Rodriguez and latterly a buzzing, pulsating keyboard enters, which nods to the more stripped back and minimal side of Elbow’s output. The lyrics are almost a stream of consciousness, floating amongst memories of nights in bars and days spent behind the wheel, we get snippets of a tale without ever reaching the full picture. Before this track we already knew Ryley Walker was good, but after this we’re starting to wonder if that was an understatement.

Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is out August 19th via Dead Oceans. At the moment Ryley Walker is pretty much permanently on tour, click HERE for details.

4. Fall For Lisa Hannigan

Former Mercury Prize nominated folkster, Lisa Hanning is set to release her third album, At Swim, next month. The record was produced in collaboration with The National’s Aaron Dessner, after he sent Lisa an unprompted email suggesting the pair work together. After they initially met in Denmark, they recorded the album in a productive seven day session in New York.

This week Lisa has shared the latest taste of the record in the shape of new single, Fall. The track, accompanied by a slightly eerie dance led video, suggests a slight shift in direction for Lisa’s songwriting, which has never sounded more confident or expansive. There’s a touch of Alela Diane, in the rhythmic guitar strum, and Dessner’s subtly fascinating production nods in the direction of his previous work with Sharon Van Etten. The star as always though is Lisa’s vocal, which sounds as stunning as ever, and effortless breathy swoop of pure melody, it might just be the best track she’s released to date.

At Swim is out August 19th via Play It Again Sam – you can order it HERE. Lisa Hannigan tours the UK in October, click HERE for details.

3. Arabic Truth

New Zealander James Milne was born in 1981, the same year that legendary label Flying Nun Records put out their first record. James has been releasing music under the pseudonym Lawrence Arabia since the distant days of 2006, but the relevance of our opening sentence has only become clear now that he’s set to share his fourth solo album, Absolute Truth, on (you guessed it) Flying Nun Records.

This week Lawrence has shared the video for the latest track to be lifted from the record, Another Century. The video, directed by renowned film-maker Florian Habitch, finds Lawrence hauled up in a Bangkok Hotel trying to capture the “beautiful-ordinariness” of the setting and the people who pass through it. The accompanying track builds around Scott Walkerish string flourishes, and an easy almost Abba rhythmic swing, whilst vocally his melodies bring to mind another Swede sensation, Jens Lekman. A writer of timeless pop-songs this is a typically easy paced sultry sashay, and Absolute Truth looks set to further cement Lawrence Arabia’s place as one of New Zealand’s finest musical talent.

Absolute Truth is out August 5th via Flying Nun Records. Lawrence Arabia tours the UK in September, click HERE for details.

2. Joanna Share A Pretty Fucking Gruesome New Single

Joanna Gruesome’s next move was always going to be fascinating. Following the critical acclaim of previous album, Peanut Butter, and subsequent departure of original singer, Alanna McArdle, it’d be understandable if they were feeling the pressure. All of which makes their low-key return all the more impressively nonchalant. This week they’ve simply put out a new single, Pretty Fucking Sick (Of It All), seemingly accompanied by no album plans and minimal tour dates. It’s as if the band have gone here’s a bloomin’ ace single just because we can, don’t worry about our band, we’ve got this getting on with the music thing sorted.

The single is accompanied by a typically baffling press-release, describing Pretty Fucking Sick (Of It All) as, “a pop song about being pursued by intelligence operatives, partly influenced by the group’s recent U.S tour, in which the CIA took a special interest in the band’s movements.” Guitarist Owen Williams has also suggested the track (and accompanying B-side, Occult Bookshop) relate to being gender non-binary and the confusing nature of one’s own identity. The lyrics are fairly ambiguous but musically it sounds like classic Joanna Gruesome. The drums are still chaotic and energetic, the guitars still buzz by in a melodic jangle, and the vocals, now provided by Roxy Gruesome and Kate Gruesome (real surnames we hope) still manage to go from blood curdling shrieks to gorgeously melodic without pausing for breath. It is considerably longer than most Joanna Gruesome songs, which we’re not entirely sure if we endorse or not yet. The band are back, sounding confident and ready for the next chapter, roll on album number three.

Pretty Fucking Sick (Of It All) is out today via Fortuna Pop – pick up a copy HERE. Catch Joanna Gruesome live later this year, click HERE for details.

1. Wake Up Holy

Gothenburg quartet Holy Now have this week shared a new track, Wake Up, which is the first half of a 7″ single that will see the light of day next month on the ever excellent London label, Beech Coma. The 7″ is their first release outside of their native Sweden, having previously put out a rather wonderful EP,  Sorry I Messed Up, on Lazy Octopus.

Wake Up is a reminder of the continual ability for reverb-drenched, jangle pop to sound fresh and thrilling. Sure there are nods to the likes of Alvvays, Amber Arcades or Deerhunter, but there are also enough fresh ideas to make it a sound all Holy Now’s own. The track builds around pounding drums, and ringing guitar chords, but seems to constantly mutate around singer Julia Olander’s melancholic melodies, and soaring high notes. It rewards repeat listens as the subtle thrills of the instrumental break downs, near acapella choral-tinged sections and the complex rhythmic outro reveal what a truly genius piece of songwriting this is. Things already look incredibly bright for these sun-drenched Swedes, and we’ll be amazed if this is the last we here of them this year.

Wake Up/Please Love Me is out August 19th via Beech Coma – available for pre-order HERE.

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