5. Wojtek The Bear Are In Some State Right Now
Regular readers will be well aware of our love for Glasgow melancholy-pop masters, Wojtek The Bear. The band have spent 2019 drip-feeding us a quartet of brilliant singles, which are now being collected together onto a single 12″ vinyl, Old Names For New Shapes. This week the band have shared the final offering from it, Some States.
Perhaps fittingly the track is about endings, as vocalist Tam Killean explains, “it’s a song about that particularly painful end section of a failing relationship when it feels like all you’re doing is arguing with other person over the most ridiculous things, like who used the last of the toothpaste”. The tail of domestic bliss sliding into painful collapse is set to a contrastingly beautiful backing, as the band’s traditionally indie core is given a makeover by maudlin strings, enriching the song with a grandiose dramatic edge. If this is all sounding a little heavy, you can always rely on a Scotsman to find the humour in the darkness, the title coming from an old joke, “I’ve never been to America, but I’ve been in some states”, and that in a nutshell is Wojtek The Bear, spotting the comedy in the tragedy, and letting it guide them back into the beautiful, hopeful light.
Old Names For New Shapes is out now via Scottish Fiction. Click HERE for more information on Wojtek The Bear.
4. Except For The Fact It’s Jeffrey Lewis
In his eighteen years of making music, 2019 might just be Jeffrey Lewis’ most successful, his latest album Bad Wiring, in collaboration with backing band The Voltage, has garnered critical acclaim, and by the sound of it quite some sales, he’s played some of his biggest ever shows, and as ever he’s seemingly done it entirely on his own terms. Celebrating the year that was, this week Jeffrey has released the video to his latest single, Except For The Fact That It Isn’t.
Modestly described as, “a fairly listenable four-chord ditty with verses and choruses”, Except For The Fact That It Isn’t is a thrashy punk number, with some fabulously shredded guitars and a bass solo thrown in for good measure. Jeffrey has suggested behind it’s jaunty exterior the track contains, “the most brutally sad line of the whole album… it’s mostly about what is undeniably good and real and insufficient”. This is the sound of Jeffrey Lewis questioning the world around him, asking if our exterior actions match our interior feelings, that he puts all that into the vibrant bop of a pop song is a perfect reminder of why he’s one of the DIY world’s most cherished songwriters.
Bad Wiring is out now via Moshi Moshi/Don Giovanni Records. Click HERE for more information on Jeffrey Lewis & The Voltage
3. ediT ehT esreveR tsedlyW
Formed back in 2014, Wyldest is a London-based project led by Zoe Mead. Earlier this year they released their acclaimed debut album, Dream Chaos. This week Zoe had announced they’ll be teaming up with the Hand In Hive label to release a re-worked version of the entire album, Redream Chaos. Each track has been stripped back and re-imagined, combining minimal takes of the tracks, with ambient backdrops formed of fragments of original recordings and demo versions of the tracks.
While Redream Chaos won’t arrive until March, this week Zoe has shared the first taste of it, Reverse Tide (Redream). The track arrives on a particularly stunning guitar line, highly reminiscent of those dreamy early Iron & Wine records, before a plaintive piano line and Zoe’s Beth Gibbons like vocal enter and steal the show. Stripped back to the bare bones, the track seems to shine ever brighter than the album version. A celebration of getting back to why you write songs in the first place, Zoe finds simplicity is sometimes the answer, as she explains, “I realised something huge along the way: limitations are crucial to creativity”.
Redream Chaos is out March 6th via Hand In Hive. Click HERE for more information on Wyldest.
2. Grasscourt’s New Single Makes A Lot Of Sense
We always love to introduce new bands you can get excited about on this site, however if you love this new Grasscourt track, please do take a seat, because we’ve got some bad news. Yes, no sooner had we fallen for their brilliant new single, Sense To Me, we found out the Gloucestershire based band are calling it a day. The single is lifted from their third and final EP, Connect Part III, out today via Lost Map.
Turn that frown upside down though reader, because if Grasscourt are going out, at least they’re doing it on their own terms, and in some style. Sense To Me is a typically ambitious slice of kaleidoscopic folktronic-pop, as metronomic Django Django-like rhythms propel along their waves of breezy guitars, half-spoken vocals and woozy electronics. In other good news, the various members of the band are already readying new projects, so if parting feels like such sweet sorrow, maybe it doesn’t have to this time.
Connect Part III is out now via Lost Map. Click HERE for more information on Grasscourt.
1. Peter Oren Is Put Out To Pasture
Peter Oren first came to the world’s attention back in 2017 around the release of his acclaimed debut album, Anthropocene, which crept into our top ten albums of that year. The album took aim at politics’ role in the impending environmental collapse, long before Greta and co made it the hot (and getting hotter) topic of the day. Two years on Peter is preparing to return with a brand new album about, well, farming apparently. Although on the evidence of the first single, Stud Song, we think that might just be a metaphor!
Stud Song contrasts the studded bull, “chosen to breed based on traits that have been passed down through systemic selection” and contrasts that with the way human’s pass on handy characteristics, like the flow of capital, and associated privilege, down from father to son – mentioning no names at all, President Trump. While as lyrically fascinating as ever, Stud Song also seems to push Peter musically, from the acapella intro it morphs into a lush folk-song, with layers of guitars, rapid percussion and even a, unusually subtle wheeze of harmonica thrown into the mix. Intriguingly different as always, the return of Peter Oren is a reason to be very cheerful indeed.
Stud Song is lifted from Peter’s upcoming album out in 2020 on Western Vinyl. Click HERE for more information on Peter Oren.