Five Things We Liked This Week – 21/02/20

Further Listening:

5. First Responder Are Plotting Something Familial

Our latest discovery from the Colombus, Ohio music scene, First Responder originally emerged back in 2016 with their debut album, In My Dreams My Windows Faced West. The band went on a brief hiatus following the release, while vocalist Sierra Mollenkopf completed her degree. Now some four years later the band are gearing up to share the follow-up, Courage, and have this week shared the latest offering from it, Family Plot.

Discussing Family Plot, Sierra has suggested it is, “a response to my female identifying friends consistently being labeled as ‘clingy’ by the men they were dating”. The track contrasts Sierra’s swooping soprano-like vocals with exaggerated squalls of feedback and noise, playing up to the extreme reaction to the slightest show of affection. Sierra seems to cast herself as the comically, all-encompassing blanket of terrifying emotion, as she repeats the line, “you and I will always be together, you and I will never be apart, you and I will always be together until you suffocate and then I will buy us a family plot”. It’s a track that cleverly pokes at the stereotypes, exaggerating traditional views to the point they come become blackly comic and undeniably absurd, all delivered in one of the most jaw dropping vocals you’ll hear all year, it all adds up to a rather special return.

Courage is out March 13th. Click HERE for more information on First Responder.

4. They Are Strawberry Generation And They’re Here To Make You Think About Death And Get Sad And Stuff

Regular readers will already be well aware of our love for Providence jangle-pop heroes, Strawberry Generation. We had the privilege of hosting one of the shows on their debut UK tour last summer, as well as sharing their excellent recent single, Hannah. Last week saw the band release their much anticipated debut album, Afloat, and celebrating the fact Strawberry Generation also shared a brand new video for their track, When You Were Here And I Was Sad.

Accompanied by a tour diary video of the aforementioned UK tour, When You Were Here And I Was Sad, is Strawberry Generation at their most devastatingly beautiful. The guitars are a rapid tumble of jangling notes, the rhythm section steadily driving, the vocal melodies crystal clear flashes of pop perfection. Afloat is a record that feels like a perfect tribute to the music Strawberry Generation so clearly love, sweet indie-pop thrills  coating tales of heartache and longing, a sonic recipe as old as music itself, that remains a complete joy to behold.

Afloat is out now via Sunday Records. Click HERE for more information on Strawberry Generation.

3. There’s A Beast In MAITA

MAITA are a Portland based indie rock band, acting as a vehicle for the songwriting of front person, Maria Maita-Keppeler. After the release of their well-received 2017 EP, Waterbearer, the band set to work on what would become their debut album, Best Wishes. The record caught the ear of Kill Rock Stars, so much so founder Slim Moon returned from a twelve year hiatus to resume his presidency of the label. While that album won’t arrive until April, this week MAITA has shared the latest single from it, A Beast.

A Beast is both the album’s opening track and a showcase moment, inviting the listener in to fall for Maria’s lilting vocals and way with a flowing arrangement. The track flutters through moments of beautiful sparseness, then comes crashing into driving moments of intoxicatingly loud indie-rock. The track is a musing on the ability of human’s to forgive even if it causes them a lurking distress inside; “I never could forget, but I’ll forgive like a dog”, roars the chorus, hiding the pain beneath a veneer of loyalty. Discussing MAITA, Maria has suggested it serves as a vehicle to express herself freely, to not worry about making others happy and demand the space to tell her story, on this evidence its one that’s well worth hearing.

Best Wishes is out April 3rd via Kill Rock Stars. Click HERE for more information on Maita.

2. Victoria Hume’s The Sound Of February

The latest release on the ever-impressive Lost Map PostMap Club, comes from Victoria Hume, an English singer-songwriter hailing originally from Brighton, although thoroughly well-traveled since. Releasing music for over a decade now, Victoria has crafted a burgeoning reputation with a series of high on concept, high on beautiful, songwriting releases. After returning last year with her first new music since 2016’s Closing EP, this week Victoria has shared a brand new single, February.

Written almost exactly a year ago, February is a musing on a particular part of Victoria’s life, existing as she explains, “in a state of dissociation, living in a city I didn’t know and travelling several times a week through big and small stations late at night, midwinter. Sometimes the trains worked, sometimes they didn’t”. The sense of travel and solitude are palpable in the music; the piano line in particular has a distinct lurching rhythm, the prominent first note propelling forward, the following run pulling back, giving a sense of movement, equal parts heartbeat and train wheel. This is music that seems to go beyond words as a form of communication, inhabiting a sort of deeper space, connecting direct to your most buried physical reactions. A very special reminder of a very special musical talent.

February / Little Ray is out now as part of Lost Map’s PostMap Club. Click HERE for more information on Victoria Hume.

1. Charmpit Go West(Field)

Believe it or not, it’s been coming up for four years since we first stumbled across the DIY-pop perfection of Charmpit. The London-based quartet have subsequently set about winning the hearts and minds of the nation with their effervescent live show, and joyously queer blending of anarchic-punk and fresh, fun friendship. All they’ve been missing so far is a proper record for us to sink our teeth into, and all that’s set to change next month with the release of their perfectly titled debut album, Cause A Stir.

Channeling a much needed blast of California-sunshine, Charmpit have this week shared the video to their brand new single, Wild Wild Westfield. While a song about their love of shopping malls might be an odd choice for self-styled, “anarcuties”, they’re more than self-aware enough to realise, “we are anarchists – and we are also SoCal femmes to the bone. Our love for the mall is as complicated as it is fierce”. Channeling all the, “first dates, first sexual experiences and first crimes”, that the Mall offered them in their home state, Charmpit embrace the shopping centre as the nostalgic hangout that charted their first steps in independence. The track is every bit as fun as you’d expect a Southern Californian teenage coming of age melodrama to be, all sugary-sweet vocal highs, easy drum clatter and bass-lines for strutting about in your best new outfit to. Worth the wait and then some, Charmpit are ready to take their rightful place ruling over their own distinctly DIY-world.

Cause A Stir is out April 3rd via Specialist Subject Records. Click HERE for more information on Charmpit.

Header Photo is Charmpit by Milo Gough

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