5. Alexander Biggs Hits A New Low
Based out of Melbourne, Alexander Biggs has been winning over an increasingly wide audience courtesy of his, “card-carrying high school emo“, his words not ours! We featured Alexander at the back end of last year around the release of well-received single, Madeleine. This week Alexander has detailed his debut album, Hit Or Miss which will arrive in February next year, as well as sharing the latest single from it, Low.
While a piece Alexander has suggested Low is, “about being in a perpetual state of sadness”, there’s an almost unnerving warmth to the track, “it’s about the constant feeling to want to lay down and let everything in life happen to you without any input from yourself because navigating all those things is exhausting and difficult”. It perfectly captures the warmth of giving in, sure it’s probably unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good. Musically, Alexander strips things right back to the bones, as an easy strum of guitar and his layered, echoing vocal are gradually joined by contrastingly driving percussion, marking Alexander out as a natural contemporary of Angelo De Augustine or Phoebe Bridgers. The track also features possibly the best lockdown-made video we’ve seen, telling the surprisingly dark tale of a herbivorous dinosaur and a crocodile that fall in love. While it’s early days for Alexander Biggs, his music feels like a lung-full of fresh air, an oasis of calm on a rapidly spinning planet, for just under three minutes this is music that slows the world down and lets us all catch a much needed breath.
Hit Or Miss is out February 3rd. Click HERE for more information on Alexander Biggs.
4. Lael Neale Will Give You Shivers
Hailing from Los Angeles, Lael Neale is the latest signing to the Sub Pop label, with whom she will be releasing her music into the world next year. It was back in 2019 that Lael’s music really began to take shape, after the chance discovery of the Omnichord resulted in a three month, “torrent of songs”. Setting up a home-studio in her bedroom, Lael worked with producer Guy Blakeslee, and recorded the songs that caught Sub Pop’s ear. This week Lael has shared her debut single, Every Star Shivers In The Dark.
Described by Lael as, “my ode to Los Angeles, which always felt to me like the outskirts of Eden”, Every Star Shivers In The Dark is a reflection on both the isolation and the community of her current home city, how despite its immense size, it is not as daunting as it may first appear. The track is delightfully simple, as Lael explains, “I was challenging myself to write a song using only two chords”, they play out on hazy church organs, underlain with the simple rhythms of a drum-machine. The directness of the musical accompaniment allows the clarity of Lael’s words to shine, there’s something of Kevin Morby in the way her words paint the humanity in the cold concrete of city life, “machine-made lap of luxury I’m torn between the town and country I’m going to get real old go watch a garden grow I’m gonna get real old”. As the track reaches its conclusion, signalled by the arrival of an almost free-form shower of keyboard notes, Lael taps into something universal, city or country, that we all long for, connection, “shaping the clay in the dark pre-dawn God made man to love someone I’m gonna love someone”, and if you find the time to listen to Lael’s music, you’ll find plenty to love as well.
3. Skullcrusher’s Agricultural New Single
The work of Los Angeles-based songwriter Helen Balantine, like much of the world, we discovered the music of Skullcrusher earlier this year around the release of her self-titled debut EP via Secretly Canadian. A dreamy, and occasionally dark collection, the tracks felt like brief snapshots, tantalising fragments of a story that’s just beginning to be told. This week we received the next chapter, in the shape of new single Farm, presented alongside her almost unrecognisable, banjo-led take on Radiohead’s Lift.
Discussing the track, Helen has suggested it is a reflection on, “my childhood and family”, a concept mirrored in the song’s recording. During a trip to the East Coast, Helen decided to head to a studio in Woodstock near where she grew up and in the track captures the sounds of nostalgia courtesy of, “crickets, cicadas, the beach in Connecticut and the creaking of old homes”. The track is beautifully atmospheric, the prominent, percussive quality of an acoustic guitar accompanied by echoing piano runs and processed backing vocals, as Helena wistfully looks back on what was, “when it all comes undone, can you make it home? Where are you now? Lost with our old house. Off with someone else“. Every time we hear something new from Skullcrusher it feels like another piece of a puzzle dropping into place, an artist growing with each release and marking herself out as one of the most exciting new voices music has to offer.
2. It Is Safe To Say We Like Elle Mary’s New Single
Cast your mind back to 2018 and you might recall us waxing lyrical about Constant Unfailing Night, the sublime album from Elle Mary & The Bad Men. A record that looked at break-ups and fall-outs, it was a beautifully spacious collection, giving her words room to breathe, sigh and tell Elle’s story, even as she was still making sense of it herself. This week, with The Bad Men seemingly no longer in tow, Elle Mary has returned with a brand-new single, Safe Space.
While a safety net might be something many of us are craving in the current climate, Elle is quick to dismiss its links to the Covid-pandemic, even if she does admit, “the sentiments may resonate with people right now”. Safe Space is instead a song for a loved one, a track about offering, “your love outwards and inwards”, doing all you can for others and giving, “yourself that same compassion”. The beautiful sentiment of Elle’s words is set to a perfectly lush backing, as Elle’s percussive guitar-line and layered vocal harmonies are fleshed out with bewitching violins and warm waves of harmonium. Recalling the likes of Fionn Regan or Nadine Khouri, this is a stunning return for Elle Mary, an artist who with each new release seems to become an increasingly vital fixture in our musical landscape.
Safe Space is out now. Click HERE for more information on Elle Mary.
1. Swallow Cave Won’t Leave You Cold
Formed back in 2018, up-and-coming Bristol-based quartet Swallow Cave have already made something of a splash on the live scene there, having supported the likes of Sasami and Porridge Radio. They caught our ear earlier this year with their excellent single, Nostalgia, seemingly it also took the fancy of the wonderful Sad Club Records, who have teamed up with the band this week to release their brand new single, Cold Moon.
Discussing the track, lead-singer Polly has suggested it is about, “feeling really low and going to the darkest places in your mind“, how this often occurs at night, and the next morning you’re left wondering how your mind went on such a dire journey. The track was recorded in collaboration with acclaimed producer Ali Chant, who, as the band recall, allowed them freedom to express themselves, “it was kind of child-like, we explored with those innocent thoughts you get and injected some of that into the recording process“. The result is a track that moves quickly between sections, starting off life as an easy alt-country saunter, before sliding into wistful bedroom-pop and concluding with an almost euphoric feeling, as loose guitars solo in the background and the vocals come together in tight-knit harmony. Further evidence that Swallow Cave are the wistful, blissed out heroes you’ve always dreamt of.
Header photo is Swallow Cave by Chelsey Cliff – https://chelseycliff.pb.online/.