Five Things We Liked This Week – 12/04/19

Further Listening:

5. You’d Like Swine Tax

Tyneside’s finest, Swine Tax, are a band we’ve been enjoying around these parts for some time now. The trio formed back in 2017 and have been making crunchy guitar-pop bangers ever since. Their distinctly North-Eastern take on the college rock of the mid-90s, has always walked the fertile middle ground between artsy experimentation and rambunctious fun, never more so than on recent single, I’d Like.

I’d Like seems to fuse the avant-garde swagger of Television with the gutsy, guitar wizardry of The Wave Pictures. To the fore throughout is front-man Vince’s intriguing delivery; across the song he seems to take on a variety of moods and characters, one second dismissive and uninterested, the next howling and passionate. Lyrically, essentially it’s a list of things Vince would quite like, from a cancellation of Mock The Week through to the dismantling of institutions and, “excellent sex”. There’s both a catharticism and a vulnerability to these wants, some feel like quiet pleas for change, others just off-the-cuff rants, the result is a record that wonderfully, warmly human, and the best Swine Tax have ever sounded.

I’d Like is out now. Click HERE for more information on Swine Tax.

4. Courtney Barnett Hates You 

Prolific and hugely popular, Courtney Barnett is an artist who needs no great introduction to anyone. After the run away success of last year’s Tell Me How You Really Feel album, Courtney will be, by the look her tour dates, be playing nearly every festival in nearly every country in the world. Somehow in between the relentless touring, Courtney’s found time to write and record a new single, and it might just be our favourite thing we’ve heard from her since Elevator Operator.

While Everybody Here Hates You might be as lyrically self-doubt laden as the title suggests, there’s an unquestionable musical swagger on display; there’s a straight up rock’n’roll feel to the chunky guitar playing, while the swirling retro-organ adds a real flourish to proceedings. As ever with Courtney Barnett, the deadpan lyricism is slap bang in the middle of proceedings, as with Tell Me How You Really Feel, this is a more personal sounding track compared to the more character driven studies of old. The evolution of Courtney Barnett continues to intrigue and excite in equal measures, there’s nothing to hate here.

Everybody Here Hates You is out now. Click HERE for more information on Courtney Barnett.

3. Pip Blom’s Precious Gem Of A Single

After a number of well received singles and EPs, we’ve been hotly anticipating the debut Pip Blom for quite sometime now, and good news, the wait is nearly over. The intriguingly titled, Boat, is set for release at the end of May, and this week ahead of that, Pip has shared a brand new single, Ruby.

Ruby might just be the most focused and direct single Pip Blom have shared to date, the languid lead-guitar line and propulsive drum tick seem to lock into a place of rhythmic perfection and refuse to let-up. Pip’s vocal, with a touch of Courtney Barnett-esque indifference enters, before roaring into the more emotive rasp of the chorus, the intensity distorting Pip’s words, as she quietly notes with a touch of self-doubt, “don’t know what I’m doing, all the time, all the time”. A timely reminder of one of the music’s most compelling new songwriters, Pip Blom is an artist ready to take on the world.

Boat is out May 31st via Heavenly Recordings. Click HERE for more information on Pip Blom.

2. Gia Margaret’s Your Perfect Birthday Present

Gia Margaret was quietly one of the break-out acts of 2018; despite her debut album, There’s Always Glimmer, only receiving a relatively low-key release in America it ended up in a host of best-of lists seemingly propelled only by the power of her musical vision. The record is set for a full UK release next month on Dalliance Recordings, and this week Gia has shared the video to stand out moment, Birthday.

Like so much of There’s Always Glimmer, Birthday seems to settle into a sweet spot of emotional impact and musical creativity. Recalling acts like Squirrel Flower or Torres, Birthday is driven by a deceptively complex guitar line and Gia’s understated, but  compelling vocal delivery. Lyrically, it seems to be a song of longing and reflection, as Gia sings, “wouldn’t it be so strange not to be with you on your birthday? Could it ever feel okay not to be with you on your birthday?” There’s an unspoken distance between the singer and the subject, a feeling of closeness eroding, and the question of what’s left when the spark that held everything together has gone. On this evidence the inevitable rise of Gia Margaret looks likely to continue unabated.

There’s Always Glimmer is out May 24th via Dalliance Recordings. Click HERE for more information on Gia Margaret. 

1. Relax With The New Black Belt Eagle Scout Track

For the last six months or so there’s been a gentle rumble of appreciation growing to a quite cacophony for Black Belt Eagle Scout, the project of Portland-based songwriter Katherine Paul. Their debut album, Mother Of My Children, a meditation on Katherine’s place in the world as a radical indigenous queer feminist, was one of last year’s finest, and this week Black Belt Eagle Scout have shared the first new material since that in the shape of new single, Loss & Relax.

The track was written in a warm glow of pride following the completion of Mother Of My Children, not appearing on the record but being allowed to slowly evolve at its own pace as it was taken on the road. The track is a reflection on how our ancestory is tied to our sense of home, it was inspired by the ferries of Katherine’s home town, “Thinking about my home and how canoes have turned into ferries is a sad, but also beautiful thought.” This quiet evolution is something Katherine also see’s in her community, “I see a strong and fierce community of my people continuing to thrive in whatever comes our way.” The track is propelled by the lead-guitar line which even seems to ebb and flow, bobbing atop the steady drums like the rolling waves of the Salish Sea. The track builds as layers of vocal swell, the drums pick up their intensity, and the whole thing explodes to a cacophony of distorted guitars and the impassioned vocal refrain, “bring me back”. A hugely welcome return, that suggets as good as we already knew Black Belt Eagle Scout were, the potential here is unlimited.

Loss & Relax b/w Half Colored Hair is out April 26th via Saddle Creek. Click HERE for more information on Black Belt Eagle Scout.

Header photo is Black Belt Eagle Scout by Elena Petry.

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