New To Us – Winnaretta

Winnaretta - credit Abel Kohen
Photo by Abel Kohen // Header Photo by Vanessa Pope

Winnaretta are the trio of guitarist Sim Eldem, drummer Luke Gain and bassist Alex Iossifidis, also known to us as the drummer in Charmpit. Their debut EP, Mine, was recorded by Witching Waves’ Mark Jasper at London’s Soundsavers Studio.

While many of the bands on the current UK DIY-scene deal in the joyous simplicity of pop-tinged punk, Winnaretta stand out as an all together more complex beast. There’s all the energy of punk, but mixed with complex rhythms, arresting tempo shifts and rapid fluctuations through various genres. Across the record there are nods to the likes of Weaves, Vampire Weekend and Pavement, to pick just a handful of the many sonic ideas the bands’ EP takes in.

Although there’s an American twang to lead singer Sim’s vocal, Winnaretta are based in London. Home to almost nine million residents, London makes up around 13% of the population of the UK as a whole. The first major settlement was formed by Roman invaders in 43AD, before being ransacked by Boedica and rebuilt again by the Romans, eventually becoming the capital in 100AD, although it would lose that title when the Anglo-Saxons came into power and not regain it for nearly a millennium. London is one of the major music capitals of the world, and in the O2 Arena possesses the world’s busiest arena. Artists from London include Blur, The Pet Shop Boys, The Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones and, yes, Bananarama.

Winnaretta formed around three years ago, and in April this year released their debut EP, Mine.

Mine is a fascinating record; it might just be six tracks, and barely over fifteen minutes long, but it’s jam-packed with ideas. Take Cold Cold Heart, it’s Afro-Beat meets a US Collegiate Barber Shop. There are entire records less adventurous than this one minute long, semi-interlude between longer tracks.

Yeah, Ok has a touch of the slacker-rock of Pavement or Forth Wanderers, as it’s lyrics seem to explore a place between fantasy and reality. Sim asks a series of questions, as the excellent backing yelps respond, “have you got a lover?” “YEAH”, and then after a gentle pause, Sim half mumbles, “okay…”. It seems to touch on making yourself believe something just because you want it to be the case, and wondering if your fantasy can somehow become reality, as Sim concludes, “maybe they’ll think you’re mine?”.

Closing track Slow matches it’s title, it’s a downbeat and quietly moody way to finish a record, the voice melancholic as Sim sings with a painful acceptance, “slow, I get it slow, slow, I get it though”. Like much of the record it seems to look at relationships with a certain sufferance, as if there’s an inevitability to the way they’ll unravel and ultimately let you down.

Elsewhere it’s full of fascinating musical ideas; That’s The Deal, Sweetheart, is full of tempo shifts and arresting break downs, concluding with a rich blast of organ and a flurry of chaotic drums and bass, before returning to an earlier hook for a rewarding, clever outro. Breakup Season has some of the best drumming we’ve heard all year, before suddenly coming across almost folky as male vocals take the lead. Then there’s the almost Tom Jones referencing Impossible, where to a prominent bass-twang, Sim repeats, “it’s not impossible to be hurt, to be hurt by you”. In an EP full of this many intriguing musical ideas, it’s amazing just how many of them work.

Why Not?
This is a very frenetic EP, some will unquestionably find it to be a little too rhythmically jarring for their tastes. That said it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer ambition of this band, their potential seems limitless.

Mine EP is out now. Click HERE for more information on Winnaretta.

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