5. Phoebe Bridgers’ New Single Is Turning Japanese
Ever since releasing her debut album back in 2017, Phoebe Bridgers’ path to the top has never really looked in doubt. The following three years have seen Phoebe take on relentless touring, form not one but two supergroups, in the shape of Boy Genius and Better Oblivion Community Centre, and generally win over almost everyone who hears her beautiful music. This week Phoebe has confirmed the world’s worst kept secret, and announced her upcoming second album, Punisher, due for release in June, as well as sharing the latest offering from it, new single Kyoto.
Living up to its title, Kyoto is a reflection on Phoebe’s first tour of Japan, and the mix of emotions that came with it. It reflects how even when touring somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, to audiences who rapturously receive it, you can still feel like an imposter. As Phoebe explains, “I dissociate when bad things happen to me, but also when good things happen. It can feel like I’m performing what I think I’m supposed to be like”. Initially the track was planned as a ballad, then feeling, “so sick of recording slow songs”, Phoebe turned the track entirely on its head. Kyoto is something of an aside for fans of Phoebe’s previous output, as driving rhythmic guitar lines, rapid tumbles of vocals and the steady pound of snare drum take her music where it’s never been before in the most thrilling way imaginable. There’s even room for a delightfully bombastic trumpet line, courtesy of Bright Eyes’ Nathaniel Walcot, that takes the listener spinning off to the middle ground of Boxer-era The National and Beirut. There’s never any certainties in music, just look at the world into which Punisher is going to be released, yet Phoebe Bridgers becoming a superstar is about as good a bet as you’re ever going to get.
Punisher is out June 19th via Dead Oceans. Click HERE for more information on Phoebe Bridgers.
4. Oh GodNo! The Hulk Is Here
Hailing from Derby, GodNo! are something of a local supergroup featuring members of bands like Grawl!x, Cable, Pet Crow and many more. The band set out with a mission statement, “to find the perfect cohabitation between dissonance and melody”, and early signs sound very promising! Releasing music through the Reckless Yes label, GodNo!’s debut single, Unholy Water emerged in February to gentle acclaim, and this week they’ve shared a brand-new track, Hulk.
GodNo! work on a basis of collective responsibility, the members sharing out songwriting and vocal duties between all members, aiming to create something greater than the sum of its parts. On Hulk, it’s Shelley Jane, also of Mighty Kids and Sex Jokes, who takes lead vocals, Shelley’s melodic vocal sitting in contrast to the jagged mathsy-guitars and the choppy intensity of the drums. The band quote influences from the likes of Slint, Huggy Bear and Sonic Youth, and while we’re still in the very early days of GodNo!, they already sound well worthy of those lusty comparisons.
Hulk is out now via Reckless Yes. Click HERE for more information GodNo!
3. We Still Belive In The Power Of The Beths
It’s been a whirlwind few years for Auckland dream-poppers, The Beths. Following the release of their 2018 album, Future Me Hates Me, they’ve barely been off the road, touring across the globe, headlining increasingly large venues on their own, as well as sharing stages with the likes of Death Cab For Cutie and The Pixies. Despite that hectic schedule, the quartet have somehow found time to hunker down and make a brand-new album, Jump Rope Gazers, which will see the light of day this summer. Ahead of that release, this week they’ve shared the first offering from it, Dying To Believe.
Picking up where Future Me Hates Me left off, Jump Rope Gazers is an attempt to process heavy concepts, here anxiety and self-doubt, with a sound that is anything but downbeat, full of power-pop choruses and bright, effervescent guitar lines. As introductions go, Dying To Believe is a particularly thrilling one, tackling ideas of distance, and how life can sometimes thrust it upon even the most secure of relationships. Musically, Dying To Believe is a rambunctious affair, with giant riffs sitting alongside melodious vocals and rapid-fire fluttering drums, the whole thing seems to build to the unforgettable choruses, as vocalist Elizabeth Stokes chimes, “I’m dying to believe that you won’t be the death of me”. A welcome return from one of the world’s finest purveyor of indie-pop perfection, The Beths being back is a much needed reason to be very cheerful.
Jump Rope Gazers is out July 10th via Carpark Records. Click HERE for more information on The Beths.
2. I’m Sure Gum Country Was Around Here Somewhere
Formed in Vancouver, Gum Country are a brand-new collaboration with Courtney Garvin, best known as a member of The Courtneys, teaming up with drummer and synth player, Connor Mayer. The project started off with little fanfare, and in fact little noise generally, a series of lo-fi four tracks made in their apartment, “very quietly”. On re-locating to Los Angeles, the duo decided to do things properly, and decamping to a record studio, producer their full volume debut album, Somewhere. This week the pair have shared the first offering from Somewhere, the record’s exquisite title track.
Describing their sound as, “harsh twee”, Gum Country are a fusion of classic-80s indie-pop and waves of fuzzy guitar noise, drawing on influences from Stereolab to The Magnetic Fields. Somewhere serves as a fine introduction to the Gum Country sound, as waves of droning-synth and steady, almost motorik drums create a dense base upon which bright jangling guitars and crisp melodic vocals swoop and dive. Fitting in with the changes in their own lives, Somewhere is a track about relocating, casting off the comfort of life as you know it, and embracing the unknown, as Courtney explains, “I think the song could be about the range of emotions that come with any big change, and ultimately settling on a mellow excitement for vulnerability”. Fans of Amber Arcades or Froth, take a trip to Gum Country, and you might just find your new favourite band.
Somewhere is out June 19th Kingfisher Bluez (Canada), Burger Records (US), Dinosaur City Records (Australia) and Waterslide Records (Japan). Click HERE for more information on Gum Country.
1. V.V. Lightbody Rides Into The Flames
Back in 2018, V. V. Lightbody made something of a splash with the release of her acclaimed debut album, Bathing Peach. V. V. showed the world the first hint of her next musical step in June last year with the excellent single, Car Alarm, the first track from her upcoming second record, Make A Shrine Or Burn It. With the record due out next month, this week V. V. has shared the latest taster of it, Horse On Fire.
Make A Shrine Or Burn It, has been described as both, “break-up and break through”, a record about self-reflection, female autonomy and finding joy in impermanence. Discussing Horse On Fire, V. V. has described it as, “the most indulgent track” on the record, taking a, “loose cannon” approach to production, resulting in the presence of, “excessive” saxophone, keyboard solos and smooth, disco-influenced bass. The whole track is built around a sense of rise and fall, the lurching saxophone, creating angular verses, in contrast to the serene lushness of the choruses. Lyrically, the track is a reflection on a friendship lost, recalling a tale of, “someone in my life who did something almost unforgivable and then skipped town – not giving anyone time to understand what happened, heal, or forgive”. The track tries to make sense of those contrasting feelings of anger for what happened and sadness at a true friendship abandoned. With each new release V. V. Lightbody seems to grow as a songwriter, becoming more confident and playful with her music, and more intricate and forensic with her lyricism; on this evidence, Make A Shrine Or Burn It might just be a fire that grabs the attention of a much larger audience.
Make A Shrine Or Burn It is out May 1st via Acrophase Records. Click HERE for more information on V. V. Lightbody.
Header photo is V. V. Lightbody by Rachel Winslow.