Five Things We Liked This Week – 20/07/18

Further Listening:

5. Babehoven Sets Sail For Pastures New

Babehoven are a trio based out of Portland, Oregon. The band, ostensibly a vehicle for the songwriting of vocalist Maya Bon, are set to release their debut EP, Sleep, next month on the reliably excellent Good Cheer Records, and have this week shared the first taste of it, new single, Out Of This Country.

Melding the worlds of lo-fi bedroom pop and lush, cinematic alt-country, Babehoven’s sound is simultaneously simple and sophisticated. There’s a touch of fellow newcomers Neighbor Lady about some of the arrangements with the echoing drums and quietly jarring guitars, while the hugely impressive vocal is reminiscent of the timbre of Julia Jacklin and the enunciation of Sharon Van Etten. Some of the wavering, held notes are particularly wonderful, particularly as Maya wistfully follows one with the crushing closing line, “I’ve lost all hope for me.” Throughout, the lyrics seem to be weighed down by an overwhelming sense of lethargy; the narrator seems stuck in the old ways, unable to even draw the energy to get angry when her lover, “lies straight to my face.” The only glimmer of hope comes in the possibility of escape, freedom from this place; one could even read it as a longing for freedom from the tattered remnants of the American Dream, as Maya sings, “lover, I would forever be grateful, if you paid for my flight ticket out of this country.” A stunning introduction, mark Babehoven down as one of the most exciting new bands we’ve heard this year.

Sleep is out August 17th via Good Cheer Records. Click HERE for more information on Babehoven.

4. Go To School, Assimilate And Learn Your A to X

School Damage, a self-styled, “anxiety pop”, quartet from Melbourne, came to our attention last year, courtesy of their thrillingly inconsistent, self-titled debut. They seem,  like nearly every Australian act at the moment, all to be in about ten bands each, and have wasted no time in recording the follow-up, this week announcing the record, A To X, will be out in August, as well as sharing the first single from it, Assimilate.

Discussing the track, School Damage have suggested the track is about, “a sense of frustration at being a girl that does music stuff”, it touches on the idea of whether to, “join the crowd or oppose it? The feeling of being part of a scene, but kind of not feeling a part of it as well.” Or as the lyrics put it, “assimilate? differentiate?”, throughout it rallies against the ideas of being defined by a gender and a scene, “I’m looking out from the inside, the only way to make changes, rearrange it, join in the game, there are rules, it has winners but I won’t be one, I hate your game, it was never fun.”  Musically, the track is a huge step forward for School Damage’s sound, channeling the dance-floor friendly indie of Devo and the art-punk of Sauna Youth, it’s a beautiful dichotomy of sharp angularity and accessibly poppy. The band’s most coherent and thrilling track to date, School Damage have never sounded better.

A To X is out August 31st via Chapter Music. Click HERE for more information on School Damage.

3. Lala Lala Destroys The Competition

Although initially from this side of the pond, Lala Lala, aka Lilie West, is very much American-bred. Lille grew up in Los Angeles, before settling in Chicago after attending the School Of Art there. Inspired by the music scenes she discovered in both cities, Lala Lala was born as a way to process her new experiences, from toxic relationships to partying with her new-found friends. The result was a bruising and tender 2016 debut album, Sleepyhead, which was followed by the decision to quit drinking and start, “the process of re-learning how to live her life.” 

This week saw confirmation of the second Lala Lala album, out in September on Hardly Art, as well as the release of the brilliant first single from it, Destroyer. Discussing the track, Leila suggests the song, “is about retroactively realizing your feelings and trying to figure out what happened to get you where you are. Feeling out of control and like you’re stuck in a feedback loop.” Destroyer is a beautifully judged track, rising and falling, at times stripping back to little more than Lilie’s powerful, Torres-like vocal, before exploding in heady rushes of kaleidoscopic sound, as the short sharp bursts of the chorus, and it’s repeated refrain, “you are the reason, my heart broke behind my back”, quickly enter and before you know it are gone. This sort of nuanced, hazy pop, can sound so simple, yet crafting it to this level of perfection is the work of a master.

The Lamb is out September 28th via Hardly Art. Click HERE for more information on Lala Lala.

2. Make Time 4 The Goon Sax

You probably already know we love The Goon Sax, you probably, if you’ve got any sense, love The Goon Sax yourself, yet despite that they just keep giving us more good reasons to mention them again. This week in the shape of their new single, Make Time 4 Love, the latest track to be lifted from their upcoming second album, We’re Not Talking.

Not only is Make Time 4 Love further evidence of the band’s ability to write beautifully relatable, guitar pop for the awkward masses, it also features the rare combination of both a cowbell and a full orchestra – like the missing middle ground of The Rapture and Camera Obscura you never knew you needed in your life. In many ways the track goes against the age-old adage that all pop songs are about love, as Louis explains, “this song is about learning to live with yourself and accepting that everyone’s impulses seem irrational to someone else. It’s also about realising that love is at odds with the rest of your life and admitting defeat. head hung.” Rather perversely of course that does, in many ways, make it a song about love after all, there’s just no escaping it is there?

We’re Not Talking is out September 14th via Wichita Recordings. Click HERE for more information on The Goon Sax.

1. He Might Be SadBad but Izzy True?

Written in Chicago, and then transported to upstate New York for recording, Izzy True’s second album SadBad, couldn’t have a much more emotive title. It instantly creates a mood; this isn’t a howl of rage, nor the painful first moments of heartache, this is the quiet melancholy of the everyday, this is a record looking for the cracks in the dark sky, the burst of hope that make it all worthwhile. That record’s out next month, and this week the band have shared the title track from it.

The track feels like the middle ground of those gorgeous sun-drenched bits from Angel Olsen’s last record and Lilah Larson, which is obviously utterly wonderful. Built around the most languid of guitar lines, and some complex yet understated drum flourishes, the music creates a perfect hazy wash for Izzy to craft their stunning melodies and lyrical explorations. It feels incredibly intimate throughout, even the way song seems to both appear from and disappear into nothing, creates the feeling you’re just picking a snapshot of their life, as if the track might drift on for another ten minutes or have been playing all day long. Their new album might be SadBad, yet we’d be willing to be it’ll also be very good and make us very happy, and ain’t that a beautiful contradiction.

SadBad is out August 3rd via Don Giovanni Records. Click HERE for more information on Izzy True.

Header image is Izzy True. Photo by Pacco Ortiz

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