Five Things We Liked This Week – 24/01/2020

Further Listening:

5. Do Squirrels Get The Blues?

Things are shaping up rather nicely for Squirrel Flower, the musical moniker of Ella O’Connor Williams. Having caught a number of ears, ourselves included, with her first two EPs, it wasn’t hard to see the talent Ella possessed: what was less predictable was how stratospheric her rise would be. Now signed to both Full Time Hobby and Polyvinyl, with a debut album on the way, Squirrel Flower seem to have been on almost every one to watch list going this month. Ahead of sharing I Was Born Swimming next week, this week Ella has shared the latest track from it, Streetlight Blues.

Continuing the illuminating theme of previous single, Headlights, Streetlight Blues comes towards the albums close, and takes a suitably fatalistic approach, as Ella explains, “I was overcome by the image of insects flying towards streetlights and bug lamps in the late summer, attracted to the light but also flying to their death”. The track seems to deal with themes of attraction and ending, of pursuing your instincts and urges, even to the point of  a sticky ending. Musically, Streetlight Blues is something of a marker for how far Squirrel Flower’s sound has come, here any hint of minimalism is eschewed, as clattering drums, crunchy guitar riffs and bright slashes of slide guitar combine with Ella’s howling vocal to create something huge and brooding, bristling with undeniable intent. It’s fitting in a way that I Was Born Swimming is an album about change, of growing up and sometimes growing apart, of following your dreams, which in Squirrel Flower’s case, might all be about to come true.

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

4. BC Camplight Gets Back To It

When Brian Christinzio, aka BC Camplight, relocated from Philadelphia to Manchester, he probably didn’t think it would be have quite such a huge effect on his music career. What’s followed is the sort of stuff they’ll write books about; it was a time of great struggle and great productivity, he produced the three albums he’s calling, “the Manchester trilogy”, which propelled him to new levels of critical acclaim, he also got deported on the eve of releasing the first of the albums, How To Die In The North, then lost his father Angelo, just days before sharing Deportation Blues. We hope for Brian’s sake that his upcoming album, Shortly After Takeoff, isn’t similarly cursed.

While we won’t hear the whole album until April, this week saw BC share the first material from the record, Back To Work. Brian has stated much of this record is, “an examination of madness and loss”, tackling themes of grief, mental health and, “the heavy stuff”. Listening to Back To Work though, what’s apparent, as it always is with BC Camplight, is his ability to process tragedy into comedy, not just into this lyrics but also into his music. The way the track slides from John Grant-like robotic-funk, into shimmering MOR piano-pop is as baffling as it is brilliant. Lyrically, the track has a Die Hard thread running through it, mixed with a comedic flair as black as tar, “I wanna look myself in the eye and be a normal guy and say some clever shit when I’m about to die”. If this is the heavy stuff, it’s never sounded so good, put simply there’s nobody out there quite like BC Camplight.

Shortly After Takeoff is out April 24th via Bella Union. Click HERE for more information on BC Camplight.

3. There’s Nothing Basic About Keeping Up Appearances

Basic Plumbing was the latest project from Patrick Doyle, formerly known as the man behind Boys Forever and a member of Veronica Falls. The project followed Patrick’s relocation from London to LA, and was recorded shortly before he sadly passed away. The album, Keeping Up Appearances, was subsequently completed by long term collaborator Helen Skinner, is released today with all profits going to UK’s CALM and LA’s LGBT Centre.

This week ahead of the release, the title track has been shared, a slab of low-key vocals, paired back indie-pop hooks and crashing, driving drums. The track seems to deal with the end of a period of one’s life, and the difficulty in letting the world in to what’s going on, “it’s all over, keeping up appearances, it’s all over”. We’d love to see the band live, to hear where they went next, to ask if Keeping Up Appearances is a deliberate reference to the Hyacinth Bucket sitcom of the early 1990s, tragically we never will. There’s sadness here, of course, yet there’s cause for celebration too, a timely reminder of just how wonderfully talented Patrick was.

Keeping Up Appearances is out today. Click HERE for more information on Basic Plumbing.

2. Stop Bugging, Hanya Will Do It Tomorrow

A band we were delighted to welcome to one of our gig nights last year, Hanya are the Brighton-based dream-gazers fronted by vocalist Heather Sheret. The band caught the ear last year with a number of singles, most notably Dream Wife, the first taste of upcoming EP, Seas Shoes. While we’ll have to wait until later in the spring to hear full fruits of that record, this week the band have shared the second taster of it, I’ll Do It Tomorrow.

As you could probably guess from the title, I’ll Do It Tomorrow, is in some ways a track about procrastination and also of not living our life the way we’d tell someone else to, “be every version of yourself, let go, do it now, don’t wait until tomorrow”. If the songs message is of cracking on, its sound is perhaps contrastingly sedate, at least by Hanya’s standards. With a touch of The Orielles or Tame Impala, I’ll Do It Tomorrow seems to take on a hazy, sun-dappled quality, floating easily one second, before sliding into a more driving section and then drifting back again. Whatever you do with your day, don’t wait until tomorrow, listen to Hanya right now.

I’ll Do It Tomorrow is out now. Click HERE for more information on Hanya.

1. The Good, The Bad, And The Dana Gavanski

There are no certainties in music, yet the continued rise of Dana Gavanski looks as likely as anything. Following the success of her break-out single, the universally acclaimed Catch, The Toronto-based songwriter has recently signed to Full Time Hobby, and this week confirmed details of her upcoming debut album, Yesterday Is Gone. The news was shared alongside a brand new single, Good Instead Of Bad, and comes in time for a raft of European tour dates throughout the spring.

Good Instead Of Bad is a song that exists at a cross-road, a reflection on the muddiness of endings and the desire for clarity in complex situations, it’s an attempt to put yourself in the place of another, “how can I be good to him? How can I be good instead of bad? How can I be true to him? How can I be true instead of sad?” Musically, Good Instead Of Bad, feels like a natural progression for Dana, the stripped back nature of earlier material is slowly blossoming into something fuller; Dana remains front and centre throughout, even as the backing swells on muted guitar-lines, bright stabs of shimmering keys and the sedate, constant pulse of the rhyhtm section. The comparisons to acts like Cate Le Bon or Julia Holter aren’t invalid, although increasingly they feel irrelevant, Dana Gavanski is carving her own musical path, creating a sound entirely in her own fascinating image.

Yesterday Is Gone is out March 27th via Full Time Hobby. Click HERE for more information on Dana Gavanski.

 

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