Five Things We Liked This Week – 25/01/19

Further Listening:

5. Take A One Way Ticket To Julia Meijer

Swedish-born, and now based out of Oxford, Julia Meijer has caught our attention previously via a handful of well received singles. This week, as well as confirming details of her upcoming debut album coming out in May, Julia has shared her intriguing new single, Train Ticket.

The track feels like a departure, or perhaps a fresh new direction, for Julia, a song where lyrical uncertainty is matched in the anxious layering of the music, as Julia explains, “I wanted to write a song with a sense of tension in the rhythmic interplay, reflective of the tension of the lyrics as they unfold”. Atop a propulsive, Kiran Leonard-like bass-line, angular post-punk guitars Cate Le Bon or Television would be proud of, weave among layers of Teleman-like keyboards. The whole track struts, weaves and carries the listener along in a haze of foot-tapping majesty. A songwriter showing their ability to create and push their music in every possible directions, Julia Meijer is someone worth being very excited about.

Always Awake is out in May. Click HERE for more information on Julia Meijer.

4. Black Country, New Song

Formed somewhere between Cambridge and Streatham, Black Country, New Road are a brand new six-piece band, consisting of members who became acquainted through playing in bands associated with the Speedy-Wunderground label. Fittingly the band’s first release, Athen’s, France is due as the 26th offering in the labels single series, previously featuring the likes of Teleman, Squid and Flamingods.

Athen’s France is a fascinating introduction to a band, who don’t quite sound like anyone we’ve ever heard before. There’s some Sonic Youth-like intensity to the guitar thrashing, the half-spoken vocal delivery recalls the post-punk heyday, while the fluttering military drums and sultry saxophones wouldn’t sound out-of-place with Do Make Say Think or other Constellation alumni. The combination of all these disparate ideas into one thrilling whole makes for something utterly compelling; acerbic lyrics, awkward rhythms and the undeniable feeling you’re watching the birth of something that could be very special indeed.

Athen’s, France is out March 5th via Speedy Wunderground. Click HERE for more information on Black Country, New Road.

3. There Must Be An Active Bird Community Somewhere

Brooklyn’s Active Bird Community caught a little attention last year around the release of their debut album Amends, a record that was equal parts classic-emo and noisy art-rock. The band are currently in the midst of a UK-tour, and have this week shared Somewhere, a brand new single, featuring the wonderful Samia (who we featured in this very feature last year) on vocals.

Described by Active Bird Community-guitarist Andrew Wolfson, as, “a song about escapism”, it was written in the middle of a particularly difficult time coping with “alcoholism and depression”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s an intense and bruising listen; a clatter of loose, pounding drums, thrashing, bombastic guitar riffing, and two vocalists howling in unison, “when you try to believe, but it makes you want to leave, it makes you wanna be somewhere, where I am not”. A track where musical and lyrical intensity collide into perfect, pained unison, then fade to quiet contemplation; it’s a giant leap forward for Active Bird Community, they’ve never sounded better.

Amends is out now via Barsuk Records. Click HERE for more information on Active Bird Community.

2. There’s No Living (Hour) Without Water

Formed in a Winnipeg basement back in 2015, Living Hour’s growth has been a steady but rapid one. Their well-received self-titled debut from 2016, was loaded with dreamy love songs, ideas now replaced by something darker, more expansive and all together more intriguing. The band’s second album, Softer Faces, won’t arrive until the start of March, however this week the band have shared thrilling new single, Water.

Water starts with two slowly wonderful guitar lines, chiming in and out of sync, they seem to dance together like moths to a light, one second intensely close almost tripping over one another, the next drifting apart to find their own path. Even before Sam Sarty’s jaw-dropping vocals entered for the first time, we were completely hooked. From there the track makes unhurried progress across its three-and-a-half-minute journey; whether it’s tight vocal harmonies, swells of gorgeous brass or gentle crescendos of sudden intensity, it is always playfully shifting from one idea to the next. Living Hour are a band who seem to be thriving, revelling in a new-found confidence, seemingly now walking their own, thrilling musical path, a path that could take them just as far as they dream to go.

Softer Faces is out March 1st via Kanine Records. Click HERE for more information Living Hour.

1. Martha Ffion’s Hair-Raising New Single

2018 was a monumental year for Martha Ffion, the nom-de-plume of Glasgow-based Irish songwriter Claire McKay. Martha’s debut album, Sunday Best, garnered near universal critical acclaim and saw her nominated for the Scottish Album Of The Year Award. Martha returned this week with a new single, Kennedy Hair, due out as the first offering in the brand new Lost Map Record’s PostMap single’s series, marking a full circle return for Martha Ffion to the label where it all began.

Kennedy Hair was written in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, as Martha explains, “when Nigel Farage said it was ‘Britain’s Independence Day’ and that we should all be out celebrating. I was wallowing and feeling resentful towards all the politicians of the hour who are manipulating the truth/people to an extraordinary degree for personal gain”. The lyrical anger is counter-pointed by a playful musical approach, with, in her own words, “a bit of a corny ‘musical theatre’ feel”.  Full of theatrical, piano flourishes, strutting Shadow-like guitar-lines and delightfully, dynamic crescendos, it feels like a new chapter in Martha Ffion’s music, without forgetting what made her such a wonderful prospect in the first place.

Kennedy Hair is out today via Lost Map. Click HERE for more information on Martha Ffion.

Header photo is Martha Ffion by Beth Chalmers – http://www.bethchalmers.com/

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