Five Things We Liked This Week – 05/02/21

Further Listening:

5. This Captain Knows Where The Gold Is

It was almost exactly two years ago that myself and Scared To Dance put on Gold Baby at The Victoria, back when gigs were a normal occurrence. Since then the band have gone through something of an upheaval with stand-alone single releases punctuated by line-up changes as songwriter Siân Alex set about finding the best way to translate her music vision. Now settled into a three-piece line-up, the band are currently building towards the release of their new EP, Rabbits, and this week they shared the first single from it, Captain Dorego.

Perfect for our current times, Captain Dorego is a song about feeling overwhelmed, inspiration was initially lifted from the 1920’s country-song, Big Rock Candy Mountain, which as Siân explains reflects “a ‘hobo’s idea of paradise’—a modern version of the medieval concept of Cockaigne“. Here Siân seeks to re-imagine that for an even more modern audience, “it’s about craving something simpler, having a busy brain and wanting to go and live in a cabin in the woods or spend all day fishing, but not being sure what you really want at all“. Musically, the track begins with a fluttering country-tinged guitar, as it drifts by in dreamy contentment, before shifting gears into something darker and grungier as Siân’s rural-idyll is punctuated by darker thoughts, as her doubts come bubbling to the surface. This feels like a different mood for the band; there’s a focus and a steeliness to the track that suggests their upcoming EP is something well worth getting excited about.

Rabbits is out March 26th. Click HERE for more information on Gold Baby.

4. al Riggs Writes The Great American Novel In Pencil

Continuing to do a pretty good job of being one of the world’s most prolific songwriters, it was only in September last year that we last heard from al Riggs, that was around the release of their album, Bile and Bone, the rather wonderful collaboration between al and Lauren Francis. Now just four months later, al is building up to the release of a brand new album, the accurately titled, I Got A Big Electric Fan To Keep Me Cool While I Sleep, (al’s husband confirms the fan does exist in the accompanying press release). Ahead of the album arriving in April, this week al shared the first single from the record, America’s Pencil.

America’s Pencil is a smouldering beast of a song, all distorted ringing guitar chords and choppy piano flourishes, beneath al’s distinct, emotive snarl of a vocal. Described by al as, “a song about being delusional and in your twenties and thinking you’re discovering poetic bitterness for the very first time”, it is a track of self-recrimination that will resonate with anyone who’s begged for their life to be more exciting just to give them something interesting to say. It’s a song so good that al’s husband apparently, “kicked the door in and, wearing little more than a handful of shaving cream, proclaimed “that’s the hit!”.” And quite frankly, if there’s any justice left in the music industry, they’ll be absolutely right.

I Got A Big Electric Fan To Keep Me Cool While I Sleep is out April 2nd via Horse Complex. Click HERE for more information on al Riggs.

3. If You’re Really Lucky You Might Grow Up To Be Miss Grit

Today finds Korean-American songwriter Margaret Sohn, better known as Miss Grit, releasing her new EP, Impostor. The record is the follow-up to her break-out 2019 EP, Talk Talk. The title of the EP reflects on both her feelings as a half-Korean person growing up in the suburbs of Michigan, as well as a songwriter, who in her own words felt, “she was someone who was impersonating a musician“, after the success of Talk Talk. Margaret’s reaction was to go into a studio and produce Impostor entirely on her own, taking control not just of the record but her entire musical narrative. Ahead of the release, Miss Grit this week shared the latest track from the EP, Grow Up To.

Discussing the inspiration behind the track, Margaret suggests it is about, “my ongoing obsession with what’s next,” how often that can prevent us from appreciating the here and now. That sense of impossibility of always striving for what’s next is represented in the musical collapse that comes towards the songs close, as the vocal is gradually lost in a wall of static-guitar noise, reminiscent of musical contemporaries like Torres or St. Vincent. By embracing her own doubts and doing things entirely on her own terms, Miss Grit seems to have found new focus for her art; she might not always believe it, but to my mind there’s no doubt this is a proper musician, and a very good one at that.

Impostor EP is out today. Click HERE for more information on Miss Grit.

2. Valley Maker Are Instrumental To This Week’s Best Music

For Austin Crane, the songwriter behind Valley Maker, his upcoming album, When The Day Leaves, was born out of departure. After he and his wife spent the past decade in Seattle while he pursued a doctorate in human geography at the University of Washington, and she worked as a midwife, they took the decision to return to their home-state of South Carolina. As such it is an album that asks inevitable questions, about aging, about the importance of place and community and about the very concept of home. The album will arrive later this month on Frenchkiss Records, and this week Austin has shared the latest single from the it, Instrument.

Instrument is a song that is largely about hope, how it is both an outlook on the future and a conscious decision, as Austin explains it is a, “meditation on the challenges of persevering, of loving the world and other people, and of maintaining a hopeful vision for the future in these times we’re living through“. While it focuses in on big topics, the first thing that grips you about Instrument isn’t the huge battles for our planet’s future, but instead the lushness of the melodies, the stunning harmonies, courtesy of long-term collaborator Amy Goodwin, and just how wonderful the whole thing sounds. Instead, it is only on repeat listens that the underlying insecurity of the track reveals itself as he sings, “I become the sound of the future, I am not a person”, as if looking towards a future devoid of humanity. Battling the dichotomy of doubt and hope, on When The Day Leaves, Valley Maker create a place where the two seem to co-exist, a soundtrack for the difficult times, and one good enough to outlast them and soundtrack the brighter times yet to come.

When The Day Leaves is out February 19th via Frenchkiss Records. Click HERE for more information on Valley Maker.

1. Quit Bugging Me About Rosebank

Based out of Nashville, Sara Bug is the latest signing to the excellent Egghunt Records, home to the likes of Deau Eyes and Clever Girls. Describing her sound as, “Southern kitsch”, Sara is currently building towards the release of her as-yet-unannounced debut album, and this week has shared the latest single from it, Rosebank.

Rosebank has a perhaps slightly unusual influence, as Sara explains it, “was written about the joy and calm I feel when I’m on my motorcycle“. The Rosebank in question is a stretch of, “long, curvy road in Nashville”, a place where Sara would go when she was both learning to ride and processing a tough emotional time in her life. This is mirrored both in the lyrics as she sings of the bike as, “a place where I can think about you without freaking out, and I am still learning to take the tight curves without slowing down”, as well as in the easy, drifting curves of the music. Recalling acts like Neighbor Lady or Rosie Tucker, Sara Bug’s sound is one of beautiful contrasts, as the warm ease of the vocal and textural guitars is cut through by the steady pounding of snare, creating mini crescendos with every potent strike. It’s very early days, yet already Sara Bug feels a very special talent, one whose development is something worth keeping your eyes firmly fixed upon.

Rosebank is out now via Egghunt Records. Click HERE for more information on Sara Bug.

Header photo is Sara Bug by Bendrix Littleton

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