5. The Coldest Winter Makes The Best Tangerine
Formed of sisters Marika and Miró Justad, along with Toby Kuhn, Tangerine originally formed in Seattle, before relocating to their current home in Los Angeles. Drip feeding their music into the world for nearly a decade, Tangerine have slowly been honing their craft as musicians, whilst keeping us all waiting for their debut album. That record is apparently on its way to us all soon, and this week the band have shared the first taste of it, in the shape of new single, The Coldest Winter.
Described by the band as, “equal parts nostalgia and biting observation”, The Coldest Winter frames the intimacies of a love-affair, set against the back-drop of a particularly brutal winter. Combining diary-like observations, with a sense of unspoken sadness, The Coldest Winter was written in the band’s home studio, created after they were forced to quarantine together, while coping with a period of personal loss, and trying to process that emotion through the healing qualities of writing music. Here, Tangerine’s sound is difficult to pin-down, it starts life as a hushed acoustic number, reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers or I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning-era Bright Eyes, yet as the fuzzy-pulse of the bass-line arrives, it slowly distorts that mood, shifting into dreamy-pop territory, resplendent with twin-vocals and distant flourishes of layered, mournful brass. Tangerine might have kept the world waiting for their debut album, yet on this evidence it’s time well spent, there’s a focus and an intensity to this track that hints at a band ready to make a real splash; Tangerines might not be the only fruit, but they’re still rather wonderful.
4. Don’t You Just Love Sasha And The Valentines
Based out of Austin, Texas, Sasha and the Valentines are a band who live up to their name; their new album, So You Think You Found Love, doesn’t just feature love in the title, it’s a soundtrack to young romance, all those butterflies-in-the-stomach, do-they-don’t-they crushes and crushing heartbreaks. That record will arrive next month, and this week the band have shared the latest single from it, Don’t You Love Me.
Discussing the inspiration behind Don’t You Love Me, the band have suggested it is an exploration of, “80’s melodrama and desperation“, trying to capture all the wild highs and lows of the end of a relationship, captured in the mood-swings of the lyrics, “I wanna make it up but we’re just too angry to apologise, don’t ever give me up, we could take the world in just a single night”. All that fluttering fear and heart-ache needs a suitably shimmering soundtrack, and Sasha and the Valentine’s don’t let anyone down, existing in the middle ground of the icy synth-pop of Christine And The Queens or Robyn, and the wide-screen ambition of Tame Impala. There’s a certain nostalgia to the music Sasha and the Valentines make, from their Motown referencing moniker, to their Brat Pack-like vision of the lust filled American teenage years, yet they have managed to craft it into a vision entirely their own; nodding back to the past while striding forward into a glossy, intoxicating future, that looks very bright indeed.
3. Mia Joy’s Freaky New Single
Based out of Chicago, Mia Joy is a three-piece band, acting as a vehicle for the songwriting of Mia Rocha. Raised as a daughter of musicians and poets, Mia’s life has always been full of music, whether she was falling asleep listening to her CD player or singing as part of the Chicago Children’s Choir. Her journey to make the music of Mia Joy has taken in everything from the 90s R&B of Sade, to the ethereal compositions of Grouper, weaving her influences into the music she makes, with little regard to trying to fit in any one genre or style. The debut Mia Joy album, Spirit Tamer, is set for release in May via Fire Talk Records, and this week they have shared the latest offering from it, Freak.
Freak is partly a break-up song, and partly an exploration of the ideas of control and the potential for toxicity in our attachment to other people, all wrapped up in a reference to Korn’s iconic single, Freak On A Leash, as Mia explains, “I loved the imagery of that phrase, a freak on a leash as in feeling tied in a relationship you know is toxic but feeling bound to them, thus making you crazy or a “freak”. Once off the leash, the pain that was holding onto you, you can finally find your own way“. Musically, Freak is a woozy slice of bedroom-pop, as the steady pulse of the rhythm guitars is joined by a burbling synth-line and Mia’s emotive wisp of a vocal, reminiscent of Mitski or Angel Olsen at her most thoughtful and soothing. Ultimately this track is about celebrating the freedom that comes with cutting your ties, unleashed Mia Joy sound like a band revelling in doing things their own way and when Spirit Tamer arrives, ready to make a real impression on the world at large.
2. We Call Roan Yellowthorn’s New Single Acieed Trip
Based out of New York, Roan Yellowthorn are an indie-pop duo consisting of vocalist Jackie McLean and drummer Shawn Strack, alongside a host of collaborators including harpist Mary Lattimore and the acclaimed production of John Agnello. Having released their debut LP, Indigo, back in 2018, the pair returned with last year’s covers collection, Rediscovered. Now teaming up with Blue Élan Records, the band are working towards the May release of their new album Another Life, and this week have shared their latest single, Acid Trip.
Inspired by a solo car-trip, Jackie has spoken of the philosophical mood that created, as she reflects on, “how intense and overwhelming life can be”, and how that can make life seem almost psychedelic in the way it combines, “the macro and the micro experience of being alive”. The production on Acid Trip is fascinating, as Jackie’s lead vocal is initially mirrored by an echoing repetition, as if she’s singing a call-and-response to herself, and getting only muffled returns. From there the track really comes alive courtesy of the bright-and-breezy piano-line, combined with the country-tinged vocals and prominent strut of the rolling-bass, it brings to mind the likes of Basia Bulat or Natalie Prass. Jackie has spoken openly of how Another Life is an album influenced by some of the struggles life has thrown her way, from emotional abuse to terminated pregnancies, and how all of these things come together to shape the direction our lives take, ultimately though this is music that connects, as she explains, “I’ve realized that I am not alone in the experiences I’ve had. None of us are. Once we start to talk about what we’ve lived through, it’s clear – the only thing that isolates us is silence”.
1. This Fightmilk Has A Real Bite To It
One of my favourite bands on the London DIY-scene, Fightmilk formed back in 2015 after discussions in beer-gardens saw Lily and Alex decide to turn their then-recent respective breakups into a band. After a pair of well received EPs, 2018 saw the quartet release their debut album, Not With That Attitude, which caught the ear of Steve Lamacq and a string of online taste-makers. While the band had planned a relatively quick follow-up, they hadn’t factored in a global pandemic that held up both the writing and recording process. A year on from the record’s first single, I’m Starting To Think You Don’t Even Want To Go To Space, the band have this week shared a new single, Overbite, the latest offering from their album Contender, which is set for release in May via Reckless Yes.
Discussing the inspiration behind Overbite, the band have spoken of it as a song of two influences, both, “fancying someone with wonky teeth” and “a little mantra to remind you that you’re perfect exactly as you are“. The result is a track Fightmilk have described as, “one of the most uplifting, happy songs we’ve written“, existing between the musical worlds of stomping The Cure-like goth-rock and bounding surf-pop. This feels like Fightmilk at their most expansive, a band finding the confidence to throw everything at a track, whether it’s a bombastic guitar-solo, soaring howl-along gang vocals, or a beautiful, arena-sized break-down; there’s no holding back here, this is pure, unadulterated Fightmilk, and that’s every bit as joyous as you imagine.
Header photo is Fightmilk by Carl Farrugia.