Further Listening: Wolf Girl, Meilyr Jones, Flood For The Famine, Estrons, Oumou Sangaré, Cowtown, Jess Williamson, Pale Honey, The Wave Pictures, Charly Bliss, Yorkston Thorne Khan, Alex Napping, Olden Yolk, Bill Botting & The Two Drink Minimum, The Great Albatross, Recent History, Julia Jacklin, Deadwall, Laucan, Honeyblood, Tara Jane O’Neil, Ghost Thoughts, Jens Lekman, The Cairo Gang, CAESAR, Lowly, Advance Base, Jake Xerxes Fussell and a double bill of bees from, The Spirit Of The Beehive and Me and The Bees.
5. Warm Digits Prepare For The End Times
Things are changing rapidly in the world of Newcastle’s Warm Digits, the electronic-duo of Andrew Hodson and Steve Jefferis; not only have they this week announced their signature to Memphis Industries, they’ve also made their first foray into using guest-vocalists on their tracks. Their upcoming album features offerings from the likes of Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne, Devon Sproule, Mia La Metta of Beards, and perhaps most intriguingly Peter Brewis of Field Music, who guests on their new single, End Times.
Building around a frankly ludicrously funky rhythm section, pulsing keys and Peter’s finest falsetto, End Times is a jittery dance-floor filler in the making, if dance-floors still exist long enough for you to get on one. Discussing the upcoming album, Warm Digits have suggested it is inspired by, “a present-day that teeters between celebration and devastation”, and while we’re hopefully not entering the end of days, the return of Warm Digits is certainly something well worth celebrating.
Warm Digits’ new record will be out later this year via Memphis Industries. Click HERE for all upcoming Warm Digits live shows.
4. Freaking In The Ruckus
Detroit-quartet, Frontier Ruckus are set to release their new album, Enter The Kingdom next week, and have this week shared the latest taste of that record in the shape of single, Positively Freaking. The track has shades of the Mountain Goats or early Bright Eyes in the solid rhythmic acoustic strum and emotive vocals, it also features a wonderfully odd keyboard solo. Lyrically it seems to touch on the problems of existing in an anxious world of emotional highs, lows and plateaus, where, “everything is numbing when it’s not positively freaking“.
Discussing the inspiration behind Positively Freaking, songwriter Matthew Milia has suggested the track, “catalogues that universal, inevitable divorce from childhood wonder. Grandparents and pets, the mascots of youth, dying off one by one.” Yet to us it’s a track that sounds more hopeful than that; Frontier Ruckus don’t sound like a band wrenched out of their comfort zone, more one entering a perfectly judged groove. Emotional yes, but not broken, troubled sure but beautiful – undeniably.
Enter The Kingdom is out February 17th via Loose. Frontier Ruckus tour the UK in March, click HERE for details.
3. The Light Shines Through Kiran’s Cracked Globe
Kiran Leonard doesn’t strike us as a man who would know what to make of a day off. Despite still being at University studying Spanish and Portuguese, and only releasing his monumentally ambitious LP, Grapefruit last year, he’s already on his way back with a brand-new eight track cassette release coming out next month on Very Bon. This week he’s released the latest offering from that record, Cracked Globe.
Cracked Globe is in many ways typical Kiran Leonard; that is, it sounds quite accessible, but was recorded in a manner that’s so unique and challenging, we barely even understand how it works. Discussing the process behind the track Kiran explains, “I wrote this song one morning at the house of a good friend in Whalley Range. he’s got all these old acoustic guitars. I set to lining four of them up against a wall and tuning each to a big chord. I played the guitars like a big harp and they were awesome and resonant”. Thankfully, it’s not just completely bonkers, it also sounds great; the guitars sound tremendously rich and resonate, crackle and echo as if multi-tracked, atop them Kiran croons a raw, emotive and unpolished vocal. Oddly it might just be most accessible song he’s recorded to date. This sort of purposeful creativity is exactly the sort of boundary pushing music Kiran has always thrived at, and the world might just be a better place if more people’s minds were as fascinating as Kiran Leonard’s.
Monarchs Of The Crescent Pail is out next month via Very Bon.
2. Kane Strang Sets Off
Up until now he’s been working out of his bedroom, yet New Zealand’s Kane Strang has managed to not only make his way around the world, he’s impressed an awful lot of people along the way. With that success, has come a record deal with Dead Ocean, the chance to work in a traditional studio, the formation of a four piece band and as of this week a brand new single, Oh So You’re Off I See.
The first material since 2016’s Blue Cheese, Oh So You’re Off I See is a track that’s at once familiar, and quietly intriguing. Somewhere in the pounding percussion, rolling bass lines and bright, lead-guitar line, there’s an uneasy lurch to proceedings, while Kane’s multi-tracked vocals, whilst bright and breezy, seem to twinkle with an unspoken secret. The lyrics seem almost deliberately muffled, as if he wants you to strain, listen carefully and discover just what it is he has to say. Kane’s currently putting the finishing touches on his new album in between touring the world and generally shaping himself up to be a star in the making, we’d be willing to bet Kane won’t be seeing a lot of that bedroom of his in the next few years.
Kane Strang’s new record is due out later this year via Dead Ocean. Click HERE for all upcoming Kane Strang live dates.
1. All Change At The Amber Arcades
Amber Arcades’ Annelotte De Graaf might be a rival for the aforementioned Kiran Leonard in the race to be the hardest working human in alternative rock. Despite pretty much never stopping touring since releasing her debut album last year, Annelotte has found some time to go back into the studio. This week Amber Arcades have shared a brand new track, It Changes, which is apparently lifted from an EP, coming out later this year. That release is on top of tonnes more touring – come on musicians, you’re allowed a day off every now and then.
Thankfully, on It Changes the hard-work more than pays off. It’s a slightly less-polished affair than some of Amber Arcade’s output, the guitars just a little more rough around the edges, the vocal a bit less dreamy and a bit more in your face – and it works beautifully. What it still does possess, as almost all Amber Arcades tracks do, is a stunning chorus, settling into an easy bouncing rhythm, Annelotte simply repeats, “it changes, it changes“, but somehow stumbles upon a melody that just won’t leave our heads. Discussing the track Annelotte notes, “I always try to aim for constancy and stability but things always get messier than I foresaw. And hey maybe that’s actually what makes it worthwhile”. The gestation might be messy but as ever the music is anything but, just perfect glistening pop from this star in the making.
Amber Arcades UK tour, including dates with Grandaddy are on sale now, click HERE for details.