Five Things We Liked This Week – 01/03/19

Further Listening:

5. Willa You Listen To The New Fresh Track

After the break out success of their self-titled 2017 debut, London’s (and now France’s) own Fresh have certainly been busy. Near constant touring, both acoustic and full band, as well multiple asides with other acts including the excellent Cheerbleederz, all culminated in August’s stand-alone double-A single, Daytime/Nighttime. Since then, the band have been hauled up working on their second record, Withdraw, which is out in June, and this week they’ve shared the first taste of it, Willa.

Recorded with Rich from Happy Accidents, Withdraw is being touted as a marked progression for the band, moving their noisy pop-punk into new directions without losing what made them so exciting in the first place. The track is a reflection on the identity that comes with being a musician, in particular a female musician, who gets on stage and struggles to feel worthy of the acclaim; as Kathryn from the band explains, there’s, “a lot of frustration in the lyrics because I can’t change how the rest of the world sees me as a woman and I often feel like women can’t make the art they want to make without it being fetishised or tokenised. I want to be acknowledged as a musician and that’s it!” The track is also inspired by the fatalistic writing of American author Willa Cather, “I wanted that “whatever happens, happens” vibe to go into the song.” On this evidence Fresh’s music more than speaks for itself, a band growing into a confident and hugely impressive fixture on the UK punk scene.

Withdraw is out June 7th via Specialist Subject Records. Click HERE for more information on Fresh.

4. Sit Back With And The Kids

Hailing from the always difficult to spell state of Massachusetts, And The Kids, origins go back to the seventh grade, when front-woman Hannah Mohan met drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro. After two well received records, the band have recently released their latest collection, When This Life Is Over, and this week shared the video to the album’s opening track, No Way Sit Back.

The five minute long track is something of an opus, fluttering through a variety of musical sections; the opening Neighbor Lady-like, country-tinged section, moving into a dramatic, driving chorus, as Hannah’s vocals howl and soar, before suddenly dropping into a frenetic bassy, almost disco break-down, and then picking right back up where it left off. Lyrically, the track dissects the experience of marginalised communities in the media, as Hannah explains, “if you’re not seeing yourself portrayed on TV, whether you’re a person of color or trans or queer, that can be really damaging to your mental health”. As they repeat in the cacophonous chorus, “the world was never made for us”, with this mantra for the unrepresented this feels like And The Kids claiming their place at the table. 

When This Life Is Over is out now via Signature Sounds. Click HERE for more information on And The Kids.

3. Kevin Morby Is No Angel

Up until now acclaimed songwriter Kevin Morby’s records have always felt deeply rooted to places. His break-out third album, Singing Saw was laced with hazy Los Angeles sunshine, while his most recent offering, 2017’s City Music, couldn’t have been more clearly about New York. If you’re wondering where he’ll go next, the closest answer we can give might be omnipresence. With a title, Oh My God, and a first single, No Angel, it would seem we might just be entering Kevin’s non-religious, religious phase. As Kevin himself puts it, “it’s not about an actual god but a perceived one, and it’s an outsider’s view of the human experience in terms of religion.”

Identifying yourself as an outsider, looking in on the human race, might sound like a way of alienating an audience, on the evidence of No Angel, Kevin shows the sort of observational understanding many religious scholars would crave to have. No Angel, also showcases a different approach to recording, that Kevin has suggested shaped his new record’s sound, at the suggestion of producer Sam Cohen, they set out to, “make songs that sound like sonic pop-art that only have a few colours”. The result is a sparser and more focused feel, as handclaps replace drums, and warm keys meld with the more organic sound of woodwind and steady, warm bass. Discussing Oh My God, Kevin has suggested, “I was able to write and record the album I wanted to make”, there’s few more exciting statements a musician can make and when it’s a musician as talented as Kevin Morby, it might just be masterpiece.

Oh My God is out April 26th via Dead Oceans. Click HERE for more information on Kevin Morby.

2. Charlotte Cornfield’s Storming New Single

Known both as a songwriter in her own right, as well as a very talented drummer who’s played with the likes of Tim Dary and Molly Burch, Toronto’s Charlotte Cornfield caught the ear of many with her 2016 release, Future Snowbird. Some three years later, Charlotte is back with a new album, The Shape Of Your Name, due in April. The record was the result of a residency at The Banff Centre, as Charlotte explains, “my initial intention wasn’t to make a record at all”, yet with a batch of songs as good anything in her career to date, let’s be very glad a record was made.

This week Charlotte’s shared the latest single from the record, Storm Clouds, one of the first songs recorded during the Banff sessions. Featuring backing vocals from Kevin Drew, alongside contributions from a number of other Broken Social Scene Members, the track reverberates around the central repeated mantra, ‘storm clouds, elation, desire, mania, darkness’, described by Charlotte as a personal meditation, it’s a phrase she’s carried with her without ever quite knowing what to do with. Musically, the track has a loosely folky feel, the Lucy Dacus-like guitar line paired with a warm melody that has a touch of Natalie Prass or the aforementioned Kevin Morby. An album recorded over a three year period and numerous sessions, The Shape Of Your Name is many ways a tribute to taking your time; on this sparkling evidence, it’s time well spent.

The Shape Of Your Name is out April 5th via Next Door Records. Click HERE for more information on Charlotte Cornfield.

1. You’ve Got A Friend In Big Thief

We can only assume Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker doesn’t like spending much time at home. Off the back of the critically lauded second Big Thief record, Capacity, Adrianne shared, and toured the solo record Abyss Kiss, and almost instantly is now returning to the Big Thief day job with this week’s announcement of a new album, U.F.O.F. as well as a relentless touring schedule. Thankfully on the evidence of the record’s title track, shared this week, Big Thief remain as undeniably wonderful as ever.

UFOF feels like something of a departure for Big Thief, while the elements that made them so arresting previously remain, there’s also plenty of progress here to admire. On first listen we were instantly struck by the gorgeous complexity in James Krivchenia’s drumming, reminiscent of Philip Selway in his Radiohead pomp. On repeated listens, and there have already been many, other elements charm; the almost Midlake-like tone in Buck Meek’s lead guitar, the way Adrianne’s vocal is delicately distorted in places, the way the bass drifts in and out of the drum’s unusual patterns. Like so much of Big Thief’s music, UFOF feels like a track that needs to be pawed over, reviewed from all angles, and given time to show its true colours, for now, we’re quite happy to just declare this a wonderful way to spend three minutes of your time.

U.F.O.F. is out May 3rd via 4AD. Click HERE for more information on Big Thief.

Header photo is Big Thief by Michael Buishas – https://michaelbuishas.com

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