Five Things We Liked This Week – 25/10/19

Further Listening:

5. Basement Revolver’s New Single Is Deceptively Wonderful

Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Basement Revolver have quietly been making a name for themselves on the Canadian music scene since their formation back in 2016. Last August they released their debut album, Heavy Eyes, a perfect amalgam of indie-pop and dreamy shoegaze. Never a band to stand still, they recently returned with a brand new EP, Wax And Digital, and this week shared the latest track from it, Have I Been Deceived.

While Have I Been Deceived is as lush and anthemic as we’ve come to expect, beneath the shimmering production, the track exposes a previously untapped vein of swaying country-rock that R.E.M would be proud of. Lyrically, the track deals with ideas of faith and the problems of organised religion, as vocalist Chris Hurn sings of, “a faith I hardly half-believe, there is so much shit that I’ve held onto. Could I know, Lord, have I been deceived?” A track of lyrical depth and musical ambition, like much of Wax And Digital, this is the sound of Basement Revolver casting off any bedroom pop-comparisons and striding confidently into shimmering pop-perfection.

Wax And Digital is out now via Sonic Unyon Records. Click HERE for more information on Basement Revolver.

4. Squirrel Flower Gives Us The Cold Shoulder

The next move from Squirrel Flower, the pseudonym of songwriter Ella O’Connor Williams, was always going to be an intriguing one. After two EPs that marked her out as one of the most exciting new voices in music, Ella has this week announced that her much anticipated debut album, I Was Born Swimming, will be released in January, as well as sharing the first single from it, Red Shoulder.

Described by Ella as, a song about destabilisation and dissociation”, Red Shoulder is a bold introduction to her songwriting, and her fearless use of dynamics. Throughout Red Shoulder, Ella creates moods not just with melody, but also with volume; at times the track falls back to just that haunting tremulous vocal, and intricate guitar work, at others clattering drums enter, the guitars soar on visceral over-drive, and the track engulfs the listener in pure noise. While we’re perhaps more used to so called singer-songwriters going heavy on the lyrical content, the approach here is one of less is more, while there’s an atmosphere of change and confusion, the words are left almost unsure of themselves, “take it harder, feeling more, I don’t know what it is or isn’t anymore”. A song about being unsure, that leaves us sure of one thing: Squirrel Flower’s music is more exciting than ever.

I Was Born Swimming is out January 31st via Full Time Hobby (UK) / Polyvinyl (US). Click HERE for more information on Squirrel Flower.

3. Tonight’s La Night For Malena Zavala 

The music of Malena Zavala has always seemed capable of simultaneously inhabiting two musical worlds. Born in Argentina, and then raised in the UK, Malena’s music fuses the rhythmical strut of her nations background with the lush expansive wistfulness of dream-pop. Last year’s debut Aliso, drew near universal acclaim, and wasting no time Malena has this week returned with a brand new single, En La Noche.

Inspired by reading Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s 100 Years Of Solitude, the track seems to inhibit a trance-like dream, thoughts dancing around our heads, blurring the lines of reality and imagination. Musically, this manifests in the shape of Latino Cumbia rhythms and trippy psych-influenced guitars, creating a sound of sweaty dance-floors and hazy confusion. The first taste of a sparkling new musical direction, Malena Zavala’s music has never sounded more intriguing.

En La Noche is out now via Yucatan Records. Click HERE for more information on Malena Zavala.

2. Matt & Phoebe Are Hanging On A Tightrope

What do you get if you cross the gravel voiced front-man of one of the world’s biggest indie-rock bands with one of the planet’s fastest rising singers? The answer it turns out is Walking On A String, a track written by The National’s Matt Berninger in collaboration with his wife Carin Besser, featuring the stunning vocals of Phoebe Bridgers. The song was originally recorded for the soundtrack of Between Two Ferns: The Movie, and is now getting a release in its own right.

While many will flock for the attention grabbing coming together of two wonderful voices, the track’s secret weapon might just be the rhythm section. The combination of  delightful double-bass that runs throughout with the complex drum clattering, courtesy of The Walkmen’s Matt Barrick, create the spine atop which ragged guitars, soaring strings and swooning melodies dance their gorgeous dance. Lyrically, it feels quite a natural fit with Matt and Carin’s previous lyrical output, there’s a push and pull between fight and flight, initially dismissive, “I try to worry for your soul but I forget to all the time”, the bond inevitably rears its head for better or worse, “you’ll always worm your way back in to my lonesome soul and take it”. Bruising and beautiful, this track feels like it could be a one-off moment of brilliance, or the start of a beautiful musical friendship.

Walking On A String is out now via Dead Oceans.

1. Andy Shauf Has Things To Do

After spending sometime returning to his old band Foxwarren, we haven’t heard any solo music from Andy Shauf since 2016’s sublime second album, The Party. All of that changed this week with the release of a brand new single, Things I Do, alongside the announcement of the January release of his next album, The Neon Skyline.

Listening to Things I Do, it’s evident that during the writing of The Neon Skyline that, for everything Andy did the same, he also tried to do something entirely different. His forensic approach to lyrical details remains unabated, yet his musical approach has evolved, his voice and love for the warmth of woodwind remain, yet the instrumentation is stripped back. A different approach to writing and recording, composing on the guitar and recording direct to tape, creates a new streamlined feel to Andy’s music, creating a more direct and propulsive feel to the musical snapshots. As with The Party, Andy’s songwriting on The Neon Skyline is highly narrative, playing out like a short story, representing one of the album’s opening chapters Things I Do, details the demise of the record’s key relationship: “thought you’d be happy to see me, but you said, what the hell are you doing here?” Why do I do the things I do when I know I am losing you?” Where will our protagonist go next? Is there hope for this doomed romance? The Neon Skyline is shaping up to be the winter’s most bingeworth boxset and unputdownable novel rolled into one beautiful sounding package.

The Neon Skyline is out January 24th via ANTI. Click HERE for more information on Andy Shauf.

Header photo is Andy Shauf by Colin Medley – https://www.colinmedley.com

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