5. Breaking The Coda With The Nashville Ambient Ensemble
Perhaps predictably based out of Nashville, Tennessee, The Nashville Ambient Ensemble formed back in 2019 after electronic composer Michael Hix returned home from a stint living in New York City. The collective are made up of various members of the likes of Belly Full of Stars and Diatom Deli, bands that Bandcamp recently dubbed the, “New Weird South Movement”. The Nashville Ambient Ensemble’s debut album, Cerulean, is set for release later this month on Centripetal Force Records, and this week they’ve shared the latest track from it, Coda.
One of six compositions on the record, Coda is, as you’d expect from the name, the record’s closing track, and features vocals from Deli Paloma-Sisk. Setting out to harness both the various members’ individual talents and the strength of collective collaboration, The Nashville Ambient Ensemble’s sound is built from a balancing act of structure and improvisation, creating something really quite blissful at the meeting point of the two. While you might expect ambient music to be routed in the realms of electronica and neo-classicism, and they are certainly influences, here they’re given a distinctly Southern-states twist, with lush slide guitars, creating hazy soundscapes reminiscent of William Tyler or even a touch of Bon Iver at their most peaceful. A celebration of a city’s musical heritage and innovative present, The Nashville Ambient Ensemble are quite unlike anyone else: the sound of a city in full musical bloom.
4. There’s No Chance Of Wyldest Wilting Under The Pressure
The project of London-based singer, songwriter and producer Zoe Mead, Wyldest have been catching ears for a few years now since the release of her debut album, 2019’s Dream Chaos. Last year was understandably fairly quiet, although Wyldest did find time to release a soundtrack to Laurie Barraclough’s film, Birdwatcher. The collaboration between director and musician combo went so well that they decided to work together again on new project, Hey, Ma, and this week, Zoe has shared one of the songs lifted from the soundtrack, Wilting.
Discussing the process of soundtracking, Zoe is effusive in her praise, “I love writing music for film as I get the opportunity to immerse myself into the persona of a character and see the world through someone else’s eyes“. On Wilting, Zoe seems to tap into ideas of trying to prove your worth to someone and make them proud, although as Zoe notes, “we cannot simply persuade someone that we are worth their time“. Musically, the track is an amalgam of melancholic and delightfully soothing, the repeated piano line, reverberating vocals and warm burbling synths create a certain lapping quality, creating the sonic equivalent of sinking aching muscles into a warm bath. With a new album in the pipeline, as well as, hopefully, tour dates supporting Mercury Prize-nominees, Lanterns On The Lake, 2021 is shaping up nicely for Wyldest, an artist richly deserving of whatever success looks set to come her way.
3. Wojtek L’Ours ne peut pas fermer la bouche
Formed in Glasgow in 2016, Wojtek The Bear have subsequently gone on to prove themselves one of the UK’s most intriguing guitar bands. Working largely in tandem with the Scottish Fiction label, they’ve gone on to release a number of well received releases culminating in 2019’s EP, Old Names For New Shapes. Last year saw the band descend on the increasingly legendary Chem 19 Studios, recording their brand new album, Heaven By The Back Door, which is set for release on their new label home, Last Night From Glasgow in July. Ahead of that, the band have this week shared new single, Ferme La Bouche.
Discussing the new record, the band have described it as, “a move east across the states”, the band foregoing some of the jangling West-Coast feel for a sound more routed as much in the world of Detroit Soul as Scottish Indie-Pop. Ferme La Bouche is a song that contrasts joyous brash flourishes and Camera Obscura-like guitar-lines with a tale of toxic relationships with no easy way out. The lyrical theme is present from the track’s opening lyric, “they say that everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face”. While stressing it shouldn’t be taken entirely literally, here it is a metaphor for every bump in the road, and how that can leave you looking inside for your own errors, rather than questioning your partner or the relationship as a whole. Setting what might be seen as a traditionally dark topic to one of the most wonderfully jaunty tracks the band have ever written, is a stroke of genius, and one that suggests Heaven By The Back Door, could be a huge leap forward.
2. Maple Glider Has Got A Good Thing Going On
Based out of Melbourne, via Naarm and stint by the seaside in Brighton, Maple Glider is the project of songwriter, Tori Ziestch. Following the release of her acclaimed debut single, As Tradition, Maple Glider has this week signed to Partisan Records, the US home of the likes of Laura Marling and John Grant. Celebrating that news, this week she has also shared a brand new single, Good Thing.
A sweeping, majestic offering, Good Thing came from a place of upheaval and in Tori’s own words, “defeat”, as she explains, “sometimes we make decisions out of fear and sometimes it’s because we know that it is the best decision to make. Those lines can get very blurry“. Good Thing is one of those tracks that manages to carry a great intensity despite its relative sparseness, channeling similar moods to the likes of Le Ren or Aldous Harding. The track enters on just a velvet-smooth vocal and a wisp of spectral guitars, “you’re asking me if I’m okay but I need time to process all these things that make me lose my focus and all these parts of me I had not noticed”. Throughout, the track seems to grapple between holding on and letting go, yet the decision is ultimately clear, “I’ll say goodbye because I’d rather kill a good thing than wait for it to die”. As the song gradually swells towards its emotive crescendo, there are a series of hairs-on-the-back-of-your-arm moments, where the vocal seems to be resplendent with both strength and sadness; it feels like an artist at the start of something really quite magical.
1. Colin Miller Takes To The Fields
Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, Colin Miller is an experimental folk-songwriter, perhaps better known up until now for his work as a producer, having worked on one of my favourite records of last year, Wednesday’s, I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone. Now focusing in on his own music, this month Colin will release his debut EP, Hook, lifting its title from the 1991 Robin Williams film, which as a child Colin would watch daily, trying to make sense of the painful memories Peter Pan would struggle to displace. Ahead of that release, this week Colin has shared the video to his new single, Cut The Field.
Cut The Field is inspired by the idea of freeing yourself, of cutting off toxic relationships at their roots, even if that sometimes leaves you facing the world alone. As with much of Hook, here Colin seems to be drip-feeding his listeners a story, everything about it having a certain ebb and flow, even the volumes of various instruments and Colin’s voice seem to drift in and out of earshot, like a picture that slowly reveals itself the longer you stare its way. Colin has spoken of the record coming from a place of feeling, “truly alone”, and in a way it manifests in the music, there’s a sense of isolation in foggy production, and the almost howled crescendos; that he cites the production of My Morning Jacket’s fabulous, The Tennessee Fire as a key influence is of no surprise. Even on this single track, this already feels like music to get lost in, a songwriter slowly revealing his secrets, and crucially his talents to the world, it feels like a privilege to be let in on the secret of this most intriguing of musicians.
Header photo is Colin Miller by Julie Douglas.