5. Tenci Is In A No Wings Situation
One of our favourite break-out artists of 2020, Tenci caught the ear of an awful lot of people with her wonderful debut album, My Heart Is An Open Field, released back in June on Keeled Scales. Starting life as the bedroom-pop project of Jess Shoman back in 2018, the band have since expanded to a four-piece, fleshing out Jess’ music into a world of expansive, alt-folk wonder. This week Tenci have shared a brand-new video to one of their album’s stand-out moments, No Wings.
Tenci had never really planned to make a video for No Wings, but while filming another video she had the spare time, “I’m so happy we did, because being able to dance and sing in a field, while the sun set behind me, felt like I set myself free”. Coming towards the album’s close, No Wings is a song that carries a certain lyrical darkness, yet dresses it up in a playful package, as she explains it feels like every time she plays the track, “I get to chip away at a heavy weight on my chest”. The track enters on an easy-guitar, with shuffling Bill Callahan-like percussion, before Jess’ vocal arrives; playful, and beautifully unprecise, there’s a stunning organic quality to the inflections that make it a sound that is uniquely her own. A timely reminder of one of the year’s finest records, Tenci created the sort of magical album we’d be quite happy to be reminded to listen to every week of the year.
4. This Is Just So Jellies
One of the wonders of our modern globalised world is that a band like Jellies can exist. The work of self-proclaimed bedroom musicians, Jellies are the Californian-Sheffield duo of Adam Van der Veer and Tommy Wilson, and they’ve never even met in what people tend to call, “real life”. Last week the pair shared their brand new EP, Jackie, on the Sheffield-based label, Delicious Clam, previewed through the wonderful single, So.
Discussing the track, Tommy has suggested it was the record’s obvious single, “because it doesn’t waste any time getting to the point, and it’s just fuzzy and big”. He’s certainly not wrong, entering on a squeal of feedback, So is huge and noisy, with layers of distorted guitars, clattering drums and just out audible vocals covered in warm fuzz, like the middle ground of No Age and Car Seat Headrest. Loosely a song about, “driving along a cliff side and you’re thinking “Should I just drive off?” But you don’t and you should just chill and not think like that”, it’s a thrilling introduction to the world of Jellies; a short, fun and delightfully un-polished place to be.
3. Tōth Is A Creature Of Habit
We last featured Tōth, the project of Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Alex Toth back in March last year around the release of his brilliantly titled debut album, Practice Magic And Seek Professional Help When Necessary. Previously known for collaborating and writing with the likes of Kimbra, Rubblebucket and Cuddle Magic, the music of Tōth is a beautiful fusion of creativity and melodic pop perfection. This week Alex has shared his first material of the year in the shape of new single, Habit Creature.
Mixed by acclaimed producer Noah Georgeson, Habit Creature finds Tōth picking up where he left off, blending the breezy, harmony of Here We Go Magic with the art-pop flair of Arthur Russel or Scott Walker. Discussing the track, Alex has suggested Habit Creature is about, “waking up out of our destructive and apathetic default modes”, a timely reminder to be present, to confront difficult situations head on and to remember, “most of the violence and hatred in the world comes from not being ok with–and in touch with–ourselves“. This might sound like music to get lost in, a luscious soundscape to explore, yet in there is a reminder, “it’s nice to meet you, but you should meet yourself to begin a week of healing”, and if you’re not feeling like facing up to yourself right now, you could do a lot worse than to get lost in the music of Tōth for a minute or three.
Habit Creature is out now. Click HERE for more information on Tōth.
2. Burr Oak Are Well Worth Trying
Hailing from Chicago, Burr Oak is the new solo project from Savannah Dickhut, previously known as one half of the duo, Elk Walking. With just a handful singles to her name so far, Burr Oak have already caught the ear of many, opening for the likes of Buck Meek and Twain, as well as receiving rave reviews from the Chicago Tribune among others. This week Savannah has shared her most compelling offering to date, in the shape of new single, Trying.
Introduced alongside an essay explaining the song’s backstory, Trying is a reflection on Savannah’s past struggles with using alcohol as a form of self-medication, as she sings, “it’s been hard to stay away from the things that I long for that are wrong for me”. The accompanying track is a beautifully-building slice of melodic-pop; from a gentle opening of entwined bass and guitar, it gradually builds to an emotive crescendo, with all the fizzing intensity of Lucy Dacus or early Wye Oak. It’s early days for the music of Burr Oak, yet Savannah sounds like a songwriter comfortable in her sound, making confident strides and ready to go wherever her music takes her.
Trying is out now. Click HERE for more information on Burr Oak.
1. Do we like Sun June’s new single? Yeah Yeah Yeahs!
Those of a keen memory may recall we shared Sun June’s single, Singing, back at the start of last month. That was the first material from their upcoming album, and this week the band have confirmed details of that release. Somewhere will arrive in February next year as a joint release between Keeled Scales and Run For Cover, and this week the band have shared the latest snippet from it, in the shape of new single, Karen O.
Although the band admit Karen O, “is a hero of ours of course“, the track is actually more inward glancing, reflecting on a single night when, as the band explain, “you let heartache swallow you whole, and you find yourself heading straight toward the things you should be running away from“. We’re put in mind of Sparklehorse’s Dark Night Of The Soul, where despite all vocalist Laura Colwell’s best intentions, she can’t escape the pull of the very thing she knows she should most avoid. Musically, the track is beautifully paired back, all distant ticking drums, ringing guitars, and warm piano chords, bringing to mind the likes of Low or Squirrel Flower at her most raw. While it’s early for such sentiments, on the evidence presented so far, Sun June’s return is shaping up to be one of 2021’s most exciting musical statements.
Header photo is Sun June by Santiago Dietche