Five Things We Liked This Week – 13/03/20

Further Listening:

5. You Might Be In Two Minds About Cayley Thomas

Cayley Thomas offers some choice snippets for your enjoyment on her social media: she’s 5’7; an Aquarius, and she likes to write songs. We’ll hopefully find a lot more about the Edmonton native this May with the release of her upcoming album, How Else Can I Tell You? This week ahead of that release, Cayley has shared the latest single from it, Two Minds.

Described by Cayley as, “about the negotiation and mental drama that the primitive part of my brain likes to produce when faced with a challenge”, the track faces up to the ability we all possess to be our own worst enemy and get in the way of our own goals. Despite that Cayley doesn’t consider it a negative song, it’s about learning that the route forward isn’t always to aim for perfection, instead to be happy with progress no matter how small it might seem at the time. Musically, it’s a delightfully breezy affair as prominent bass and twanging lead-guitars bring the song into being, before Cayley’s easy, folk-influenced vocal and latterly some delightful brass enter to carry out the heavy melodic lifting. Fans of Jenny Lewis or Nadia Reid, will certainly find plenty to love here, and as for the rest of you, well who doesn’t like a triumphant trumpet?

How Else Can I Tell You? is out May 1st. Click HERE for more information on Cayley Thomas.

4. Get Up To Speed on All Things Harkin

While we tend to talk about the recorded form, it was actually on the live stage supporting Torres last week that Harkin really caught our ear. Already known as the songwriter behind the much-loved Leeds-band Sky Larkin, as well as a touring musician with the likes of Wild Beasts, Sleater Kinney and Flock Of Dimes, Harkin has long existed in the shadows of the musical landscape. All that’s set to change next month with the release of her self-titled debut album, and this week Harkin has shared the latest single from it, Up To Speed.

As you’d perhaps expect for such a star-studded collaborator, Harkin’s debut album featured a multitude of guests, in the case of Up To Speed, Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa and Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, and was recorded in studios from Sheffield to Los Angeles. Up To Speed is in many ways a reflection of the life of a constant tourist, “it’s about trying to convert a desire to escape into genuine propulsion rather than just a sprint into the void”. The propulsion emerges in the shapes of a steady rhythm and the crunching chug of guitar chords, as Harkin’s vocal, reminiscent of The Joy Formidable’s Ritzy Bryan, swoops and dives. This feels like a triumphant moment, an artist finding what they describe as a, “hard-won sense of self”, and loving their time to shine, this track sits proudly alongside every other band Harkin has toured with, and shines as brightly as any of them.

Harkin is out April 24th via Hand Mirror. Click HERE for more information on Harkin.

3. El Tee Keeps On Keeping On

El Tee is musical moniker of Californian-Melbournian songwriter Lauren Tarver. Having been performing within the thriving Melbourne scene for a number of years, Lauren has recently started to branch out to a wider audience through a series of well received singles. This week saw El Tee share her latest intriguing offering, new single, Keep Walking.

Described by Lauren as, “stuck in limbo between wanting closure and never getting it”, Keep Walking is a musing on feeling stuck, struggling with knowing you want to leave, and not quite knowing how to start going. At one point Lauren sings, “all I know is all my damn life I’ve always felt so strange, even though I knew I was right it’s always felt the same”, a line torn between blaming herself and the nagging voice in her head, screaming this is not your fault. Musically, the track inhabits a world of dense guitars, punchy drums and swooping melodic drama, bringing to mind the likes of Neighbor Lady or Julia Jacklin. A song about taking your first steps on a new journey, this feels like the start of a very exciting one for El Tee, wherever her music takes her you’re going to want to follow.

Keep Walking is out now via Believe Music. Click HERE for more information on El Tee.

2. Fenne Lily – Do Believe The Hyp(ochondriac) 

These are exciting times for Bristol-based songwriter, Fenne Lily. Back in 2018, Fenne self-released her debut album, On Hold, which became something of a slow-burning sensation. The record’s success took Fenne to America, supporting the likes of Lucy Dacus and Andy Shauf, and helping her catch the ear of the ever impressive Dead Oceans. This week the label have confirmed Fenne signing, as well as showing her latest single, Hypochondriac.

While there’s a tendency to throw words like confessional or vulnerable at any female musician, in Fenne’s case we should certainly refrain. While the vocal performance has a certain softness, thanks to a perfectly judged amount of reverb as much as anything, beneath that there’s a definite steeliness to the delivery, and the rapid, driving guitar line. Fenne has suggested previously much of her songwriting focused on relationships with others, here there’s a conscious shift towards the self, an attempt, “to be accountable for and have agency over the part of me that gravitates towards meltdown”. Here Fenne is both cause and solution to her own problems, she is her own hero and villain, walking her path to stardom and owning every impressive step she takes.

Hypochondriac is out now via Dead Oceans. Click HERE for more information on Fenne Lily.

1. Anna Burch Tells Some Home Truths

Back in 2018, Anna Burch released her debut album, Quit The Curse, while it wasn’t with a yell or a dramatic cry for attention, the record was a quietly enticing introduction. Those tracks were songs that sounded warm and inviting, only later revealing their subtle darkness underneath. By all accounts the follow-up, next month’s second album If You’re Dreaming, couldn’t be much more different. That’s not to say it isn’t a record without instant appeal, it’s just that Anna seems to dig deeper, the songs becoming almost introverted in the pursuit of their most basic underlying function. While the album won’t arrive in the world until next month, this week Anna has shared the Martin Scorsese inspired video to the excellent, Tell Me What’s True.

The track is something of a departure for Anna, the breezy guitars taking a back-seat, as the gorgeous tones of a Rhodes Piano, and that always impressive vocal take centre stage. The result is a revelation, an entirely different side of Anna Burch shown to the world, it seems to nod in equal parts to Carole King and those wonderfully melancholic records Beck puts out from time to time. Lyrically the track seems to reflect of the difficulty that comes with discovering what you want and learning to be happy within that, “when I had something to prove, I’d mess up then I’d move, next time I decide to leave, I’m taking you with me“. We had high expectations for Anna Burch’s next move, in taking her time and really working out what comes next, she looks like exceeding them with ease.

If You’re Dreaming is out April 3rd via Polyvinyl Record Co. Click HERE for more information on Anna Burch.

Header photo is Anna Burch by John Hanson 


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