5. If You’re Looking For A New Song You’ll Find No Better Than Anna Fox Rochinski
Known for the last decade as a member of psych-folk band Quilt, Brooklyn’s Anna Fox Rochinski decided now is the time to do things a little differently. Over the last few years, Anna has been working on the music that would make up her debut album, a record that embraces the multi-faceted joys of pop-music, incorporating influences from progressive dance to DIY R&B. That album, Cherry, is set for release next month on Don Giovanni Records, and this week Anna has shared the latest single from it, No Better.
Anna has suggested that No Better started life as a garage-rock song, before entering the studio and morphing into, “an avant-garde piano ballad”. To the fore throughout is Anna’s vocal, rich and luxurious, with just a little hint of complete indifference to the song’s intended subject, even if that’s not reflected in the lyrics, as she sings, “I believed and now I’m nauseous and depleted but it doesn’t make a difference to you”. Beneath the vocal is a song that’s at once wonderfully familiar and completely bizarre; across it’s three minute run-time it moves from Mitski-like alt-pop, to neo-classical piano flourishes and at one point a delightful psych-folk breakdown that wouldn’t sound out of place in Midlake’s back catalogue. Genre-bending pop exploration, on this evidence Cherry is everything you hoped an Anna Fox Rochinski solo-album would be and a whole lot more besides.
4. We’re Always Happy To Be Acquainted With Lael Neale
One of my top picks for 2021, Lael Neale’s new album, Acquainted With Night, arrived into the world last week, with seemingly little fanfare. A musing on “isolation, mortality, yearning, and reaching ever toward the transcendent experience”, Acquainted With The Night is resplendent with gorgeous drone-pop, much of it stripped back to little more than Lael’s ever-stunning vocal and the omnipresent Omnichord. Celebrating the release, this week Lael has shared an accompanying video to the album’s sparkling title track.
Discussing the video, Lael has suggested it, “explores my complex relationship with technology. I am drawn to archaic machines, but that doesn’t mean I want to slip backwards into some idealized past. I’m more interested in stepping out of time entirely“. It’s a fitting accompaniment to a track that seems almost otherworldly, as the burbling Omnichord is adorned by a vocal that seems to be almost beamed down into my headphones, as if it is transmitting a message from a distant star. Lyrically, it’s something of a puzzle, presenting snapshots of two entwined souls, with a sense of ever-growing distance between them, “you were the night that had to depart and I was the prodigal sun returning to places I knew before I knew the dark could come”. As with everything Lael Neale does, there’s a certain magic here, a feeling that you’re listening to a unique musical vision, one that you’ll want to return to time and time again.
3. Lindsay Munroe Takes Us All For A Ride
Despite the obvious challenges it threw at us all, 2020 was something of a break-through year for Manchester-based songwriter, Lindsay Munroe, with the release of her debut EP, Our Heaviness. The record slipped deservedly into my favourite EPs of the year, and drew the acclaim of everyone from The Line Of Best Fit to Sharon Van Etten. Much of that record found Lindsay discussing her divorce from a Conservative religious background, and this week Lindsay shared her new single, Need A Ride, an embracing of the possibilities the wide world of independence has to offer.
If, Need A Ride is a thematic step-forward, musically too it’s a brave new world for Lindsay Munroe. The track was sparked by a series of firsts, Lindsay working with a co-producer, Chris Hamilton, for the first time, as well as writing her own drum and bass-parts, the confidence required for those decisions reflected in the strutting, fizzing energy of the track, bringing to mind the likes of Marika Hackman or Nadine Shah. Lyrically, the track reflects on a sudden break-up, and the freedom that the, “government enforced celibacy”, of lockdown provided to her, as Lindsay explains, “I was shocked by the confidence and self-assurance I felt in that newfound independence”. The start of what is set to be a busy year, with a new EP already in the pipeline, for one of 2020’s most exciting newcomers, 2021 looks like seeing Lindsay Munroe cement her place as an artist well worthy of your time.
Need A Ride is out now. Click HERE for more information on Lindsay Munroe.
2. There Are 23 Good Reasons To Listen To Wallice
With a sound described as, “West Coast indie pop meets Gen Z existential dread”, Wallice is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, who despite only being 22 years old, has been honing her craft for many years after first dabbling in songwriting while still in middle school. After a year spent enrolled in The New School’s Jazz Vocal Performance program in New York City, Wallice returned to LA to focus on her own music, the latest taste of which emerged this week in the shape of new single, 23.
The follow up to well-received debut single, Punching Bag, 23 is a song of prematurely feeling nostalgic for your youth, as Wallice explains, “much like how people ‘reset’ every new year, it’s comparable to be ‘older and wiser’ with each birthday, but instead of constantly looking to the future, it is important to be happy with where you are“. The track has a personal twist, as Wallice sings of her fathers disappointment at her dropping out of college and feeling like a failure for still living in her mum’s house. Musically, the track is like a bombastic take on the bedroom pop of Soccer Mommy or Snail Mail, the intimate lyricism fused to a deliriously unhinged guitar-line. Wallice might be worrying about the future, on this evidence there’s no need, she’s a star in the making.
23 is out now. Click HERE for more information on Wallice.
1. Horsegirl Are Making A Scene
How exactly Sonic Catherdral, a label that knowingly nods to early 1990’s Shoegaze, “scene that celebrates itself”, and Horsegirl, three teenage musicians from Chicago, ever found one another is something of a mystery, yet we’re already very glad they did. Written during the Chicago teacher’s strike, with a video produced during the recent Winter Break, this week Horsegirl have shared the A-side to their upcoming 7″ single, Ballroom Dance Scene.
Ballroom Dance Scene is one of those tracks that seems to creep up on you as a listener, entering with just a gentle flicker of guitar, before further elements seem to almost waft into earshot; first lush multi-part harmonies, then an almost military-style drumbeat, and a wavering synth-line. It is a track that just builds and builds, until it’s suddenly deafening, a wall of fizzing, energetic noise, the words, a tumble of characters and narratives, slowly lost to the raw passion of the music swelling around them. It’s difficult to pin Horsegirl’s influences down, the blend of fragility and strength brings to mind Mothers, while the slow build has a post-rock quality that Explosions In The Sky or The Twilight Sad would be proud of. If Horsegirl sound this good after only a year together, then I can only imagine how exciting their future could be; currently making a splash on the ever-wonderful Chicago-scene, don’t expect them to be confined to one city for long, Horsegirl’s ride could take them anywhere they want it to.
Header photo is Horsegirl by Sun Picture Music