5. The Paranoyds Are Becoming Celebrities One Room At A Time
Hailing from Los Angeles, The Paranoyds made a splash last year when they released their debut album, Carnage Bargain, a delightfully unhinged celebration of campy garage-rock. Last week saw the band return with a new 7″ EP, Pet Cemetery, as well as sharing their new video to the record’s fantastic b-side, Hotel Celebrity.
While the record’s title track took The Paranoyds on a distinctly gothic horror trip, Hotel Celebrity tackles a possibly even more horrifying subject, celebrity culture. Led by a stompy post-punk guitar line, the track sets out to dissect the fear of ageing, and the pursuit of superficial perfection, while aiming a short, sharp kick at the Hollywood elite. A splendid merger of camp and anarchic, The Paranoyds are the sort of deliriously fun band that make people want to form bands, just don’t expect them all to sound as good as they do.
4. Kacy & Clayton & Marlon & A New Song & Dogs
One of the wonders of music in the modern age is the ease at which collaboration can take place, even if you’re in locations as diverse as Christchurch in New Zealand and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. That was the case for Plastic Bouquet, the upcoming collaboration between singer-songwriter Marlon Williams and Americana-duo, Kacy & Clayton. Their hemisphere-melding efforts are set for release next week on New West Records, and this week the trio have shared their new single, Your Mind’s Walking Out, as well as it’s dog-heavy accompanying video.
Recorded in a three-week period over the Christmas of 2018 in Nashville, Plastic Bouquet is an attempt to amalgamate musical worlds, brought together by a shared appreciation for Western Country, folk and the troubadour tradition. On Your Mind’s Walking Out, this fusion emerges as a slice of dusky, sun-dappled country, led by a twanging lead-guitar line as Kacy’s rich, tremulous vocal tones sit in perfect contrast to Marlon’s more dusky baritone, a timely reminder of the sheer joys of two voices working in perfect harmony. In a year of isolation, this trans-continental coming together is a beautiful thing, a reminder that the modern world is just one big community, music doesn’t care for our artificial borders, and frankly neither do I.
3. Raye Zaragoza Comes Out Fighting
With her fabulous debut album, Woman In Color, Raye Zaragoza has produced one of the year’s break-out folk records, garnering acclaim from everyone from the New York Time to NPR. The record, self-funded and produced by the fabulous Tucker Martine, is a record that perfectly walks the line between polished production and having plenty to say. Much of the record’s content talks on themes of identity, Raye seeking to both understand her heritage, as the daughter of a Native American father and a Japanese-American mother. This week, Raye has shared a video to her track Warrior, which features in Gather, a documentary centered around the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political, and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.
The centre-piece of Woman In Color, Warrior is arguably it’s stand-out moment, a lilting piece of country-folk, resplendent with a lush production style, that lifts Raye’s songwriting from acoustic origins to a wide-screen pop sound, reminiscent of Basia Bulat or Natalie Prass. Lyrically, the track seems to tackle ideas of self-discovery and embracing your own story, as Raye sings, “I’ve been searching so long, it lived in mе all along”, before reaching the conclusion, “I don’t feel afraid anymore, I’m a warrior”. A perfect blend of a personal tale and a wider political narrative, Warrior is a moving statement of power, there’s nothing going to hold Raye Zaragoza back, this a woman who demands, and deserves, to be heard.
2. Karima Walker Re-Arranges The Stars
I don’t know anything about Tucson, Arizona but I’ve always thought it had quite possibly the best name of any city in the world. It also happens to be the home of Karima Walker, the creator of the acclaimed 2017 album, Hands In Our Names, which seemed to capture the ear of almost everyone who heard it. Now some three years on, Karima has returned this week with a brand new track, Reconstellated, as well as news that her second album, Waking The Dreaming Body, will arrive in February with the help of two fabulous labels, Keeled Scales and Orindal Records.
Karima’s new record took a very 2020 turn, as she had originally planned to record it in New York, however a sudden illness saw the sessions cancelled, and then the Covid-19 pandemic meant she ended up recording in a makeshift home studio, writing, performing and engineering almost the entire thing, the true epitome of a solo record. While somewhat self-deprecatingly described as, “messy Ableton sessions”, the resultant record is anything but lo-fi, as Karima’s spectral vocals are accompanied by a meander of twitching electronics, at once warm and pleasant, yet subtly engulfing in its gentle sadness, “everyday is filled with endings, thinking things I can’t erase. Can’t be mended, can’t be painted trapped inside a framed landscape. What I’d do to feel nothin‘.” Already this feels like a huge leap forward for Karima’s music, it’s not loud, it doesn’t shout from the rooftops, it is just the sort of low-key stunning that suggests a well-placed confidence that something very special is coming our way.
1. Running Out Of Superlatives For Ester Rose
Although Esther Rose has been something of a fixture on the site in the last year, with her album, You Made It This Far, crashing into the top ten albums of 2019, she has, up until now, been relatively unknown on British soil. That’s all set to change with this week’s announcement that Esther has signed to the excellent Full Time Hobby label, who along with her US label, Father/Daughter, this week shared Esther’s latest single, Keep Me Running.
Esther’s single couldn’t be better timed for the cold winter months we’re creeping into, focusing as it does on the joys of a roaring campfire, a theme that’s matched in the musical accompaniment that almost crackles with a smoky intensity courtesy of stomping percussion and lush blasts of fiddle. At the heart of the song’s appeal is the classic flaming dichotomy, fire’s ability to be both deadly and freeing, initially Esther threatens to be engulfed by it, “first the smoke then flame appears I can feel the fire drawing near, smoke is filling up my room, as I write another love letter for you”, yet as the song progresses she seems to fall for its flickering charms, “tell me how you burn so bright, keeping me company tonight, yes I’m calling you my friend but every fire needs the wind”. While pedantic fans of the fire triangle might point out that’s not technically correct, we’ll allow the scientific misdirect when it sounds so utterly wonderful. Esther Rose finding a new home for her new music is a fabulous development, one that might just see this fabulous talent find an audience large enough to match her musical magic.
Header photo is Esther Rose by Galin Foley.