5. The Lodger’s New Single Is A Monochrome Hit
Based out of West Yorkshire, The Lodger made something of an impression on the international Indie-Pop scene back in the 2010’s with a series of releases for the likes of Dance To The Radio, Slumberland Records and Bad Sneakers. In 2010 the band went on indefinite hiatus, while principal songwriter, Ben Siddal, concentrated on producing other people’s records and playing as a member of This Many Boyfriend. Jump forward a decade, and the trio, still best friends, decided it was time for The Lodger once more, and the result is their new album, Cul-De-Sac Of Love, out now via Philophobia Music.
With the album released back in the middle of March, this week The Lodger shared the video to one the album’s stand-out moments, Black And White. The track dates back to the band’s pre-hiatus days, and is dedicates to Peter Sykes from the aforementioned This Many Boyfriends, who sadly passed away, as Ben explains, “this was his favourite song of mine. I didn’t get around to recording it until this new album but he had an early demo I did”. Musically, Black And White feels like The Lodger picking up where they left-off, a classically indie-pop sound, resplendent with urgent drum beats, infectious guitar lines and soaring synths. It’s a sound rooted in the DIY-heyday of the late 1980’s, yet despite that there’s a freshness here, and as the chiming chorus gives way to the Allo Darlin’-like guitar break-down, then “like the final scene on the movie screen”, you might just find yourself falling in love all over again.
4. Neil Jarvis Is Getting The Old Band Back Together Again
One of the bands playing at the last show I put on prior to Covid-19 coming crashing down onto UK shores was Manchester-based trio, Sprinters. That was in support of their excellent album, Struck Gold, released through the Madrid-based label Meritorio Records. Since then, like pretty much everyone else, their plans have largely been put on hold, although showing a winning resilience, the band’s Neil Jarvis decided not to rest on his laurels, and instead set about documenting our times, in the form of a solo album, Get The Band Back Together, which will see the light of day in June via On The Grind.
Ahead of Get The Band Back Together’s release, this week Neil has shared the record’s touching title track. Recorded to a four-track tape, Get The Band Back Together has a distinctive lo-fi charm, as the twang of the lead-guitar is contrasted by the steady pulse of rhythmic acoustic and waves of distant, strings-like synths. To the fore is Neil’s vocal, coated in a gorgeous layer of reverb, it seems to enhance rather than detract from the song’s narrative, as Neil laments a very relatable struggle for hope we’ve all felt in the last year, “it’s time to get the band back together, because your life just ain’t the same”, before he drifts into the melancholic splendour, repeating the line, “I know we’ll never be the same”. A tribute to live music, and its ability to be about so much more than just making noise; the sense of community, hope and togetherness it brings can’t be replicated. As we move forward, the world may never be the same, and with that comes the glint of promise, maybe it’ll be even better?
3. Spud Cannon Go Off With A Bang
Spud Cannon formed in the excellently named Poughkeepsie back in 2016, when the band members met whilst studying at Vassar College. Following up on 2018’s Squeeze, the band have this week announced details of their upcoming third album, Good Kids Make Bad Apples. The story of the record began in somewhat unusual fashion; back in 2019, with no money for a recording studio, the band were on the verge of breaking-up, when with every legitimate venue on campus booked up, they decided to throw a secret show in a Squash Court. Loving the sound the reverberating walls created, the band set about a routine of sneaking into the courts at night and recording everything live while the rest of the world was sleeping.
Ahead of the album’s release in June, the band have shared the first single from it, Juno. Described by the band as, “arguably the hardest”, track to record, Juno took the band in the region of seventy takes to perfect, yet one listen confirms it was time very well spent. June is an infectious run-away train of a track, all galloping guitar lines, yelped multi-part vocals and the steady pound of snare drum, coming across like the middle ground of Pom Poko and Be Your Own Pet. While for legal reasons I can’t entirely recommend everyone breaks into Leisure Centres for recording purposes, if it always sounds this good, I might just be persuaded to turn a blind eye.
2. V.V. Lightbody Really Does Care About This Music Thing
V.V. Lightbody, the solo moniker of songwriter Vivian McConnell, previously featured on these pages almost exactly a year ago. That was in the build-up to her well received second album, Make A Shrine Or Burn It, released at the start of last summer, which caught the ear of many across the global blogging network. Having previously toured and collaborated with the likes of Lala Lala and OHMME, Make A Shrine Or Burn It, was the sound of a songwriter finding the limelight very much to her liking. Now a year on, and V.V. has this week returned with a brand-new single, Really Do Care.
Described as, “the lone B-side to Make A Shrine Or Burn It”, Really Do Care is a song that never quite found a home, but is thoroughly deserving of some overdue attention. A reflection on the importance of letting people go, V.V. has stated the track is, “a self-soothing mantra for when I knew I couldn’t be with someone while also wanting to keep them in my back pocket”. The track has beautiful lightness to it, both in the lilting vocal delivery, the playful melody reminiscent of Bonniesongs, and the gorgeous entwining instrumentation, as woodwind and acoustic guitar meld around the striking slide-guitar work of collaborator, Juan Solorzano. This is a song of beautiful contrasts, battling between the selfishness of wanting to bring someone along with you, and the difficulty of letting them go, “I’ll keep you for another time I will wear you on my heart and mind”. A sparkling return, and a reminder of what a talented musician V.V. Lightbody is, if you haven’t already this is a beautiful invitation to dive into a back catalogue that’s very special indeed.
1. Don’t Ask Why We Met Annie Blackman, Just Be Happy That We Did
Based out of Montclair, New Jersey, Annie Blackman first started making and releasing music when she was still in school. Her debut album, Blue Green, released back in 2016, served as a soundtrack to her school days. Now five years on, having opened for the likes of Soccer Mommy and Field Medic, Annie is set to release a string of singles through the wonderful Father/Daughter Records, the first of which, Why We Met, came out this week.
Why We Met was recorded with friend and producer, Evan Rasch, whose production style melds perfectly into the evolution of Annie’s songwriting, as she shifts from youth into young adulthood. The track seems to build around the rhythmic quality of Annie’s guitar-playing, which is slowly enveloped in waves of luxurious slide-guitar and a cornucopia of ambient sounds, bringing to mind the likes of Skullcrusher or even Digital Ash-era Bright Eyes. Lyrically, this feels like a deeply human study on the idea of connection; Annie repeatedly nothing, “I don’t know how to love you”, as eyes meet with a certain uneasy sense of parting, “you’re scared of leaving, and I’m wondering why we met”. Throughout, the track fizzes with an emotional intensity, the images may be hazy, the details blurred by an overwhelming sense of an ending, yet the feeling remains. This is an open-hearted piece of songwriting, beautiful, bruised and ready to make a real impression on anyone willing to give it their time.
Header Photo is Annie Blackman by Daniel Dorsa.