5. Cast The Curtains Wide For The Arrival Of Henry & Sox
Henry & Sox is the new London-based duo of Sox from Tugboat Captain and Henry, “from Maldon, Essex”. Today marks the release of their debut, “and most likely only”, record Thought I Found A Glow Worm. A collection of homespun folk songs, the record was, “conceived in the darkest of winters above a nursery in Nunhead”. Inspired by a desire for rural escape, changing seasons and, “YouTube woodcutting tutorials of Seth Randall-Goddard”, the pair previewed the record with two tracks, the trad-folk stylings of Barrowing Song and Open Up The Blinds.
Open Up The Blinds fuses a delightfully percussive acoustic guitar with some disorienting vocal echos and distant wailing feedback, coming across like the middle ground of Syd Barret’s solo records and The Wicker Man soundtrack. After initially seeming claustrophobic, the song suddenly springs to life, as if the titular blinds have been drawn up just as the sun breaks through the clouds, “to open up the blinds, just to see what’s on the outside”. Thought I Found A Glow Worm might just be a brief aside while other projects are on hold, yet it serves as a perfect summary of the world it was created in, with its longing for freedom and escape it summed up what so many of us were thinking, and quietly Henry & Sox wrote a perfect soundtrack for our times.
Thought I Found A Glow Worm is out today. For more information on Henry & Sox visit https://tugboatcaptain.bandcamp.com/.
4. Everything’s Better With No Kill
No Kill is the solo pseudonym of Brooklyn-based artist and songwriter, Jamie Cogar. Despite now living in one of the busiest boroughs anywhere on the planet, Jamie’s music is equally influenced by the “rocky shores and bleak winters”, that she grew up with on the Maine Coast, with her influences from dream-pop to 90s grunge, delivered through a crashing wave of sound. The debut No Kill album, Gold Chorus, will arrive in June, and this week Jamie has shared the latest single from it, Better.
Better tackles something of a classic musical theme, exploring the end of a relationship and what comes next, as Jamie explains, “it’s about growing stronger and learning to live with loose ends“. Musically, Better makes its intentions clear from the very start as crashing, reverberating guitar chords collide with Be My Baby-like drum patterns, instantly bringing to the mind the likes of The Jesus & Mary Chain. The track really lifts when Jamie’s vocals enter, there is both stoicism and a certain wistfulness to the delivery, as she matter-of-factly sings, “are we both going to die, before we make it better”. It’s almost as if Jamie is stranded on the rocks, standing strong in the wall of sound, as the music rushes around her, threatening to engulf her entirely in a wave of emotion and noise. This is a fascinating introduction to No Kill’s music, a sound that seems to simultaneously hark back to the past, and stride forward into the future, a future that looks very bright indeed.
Gold Chorus is out June 25th via Fear Of Missing Out / Substitute Scene Records. For more information on No Kill visit http://www.nokillnokill.com/.
3. Squirrel Flower Is Running Up That Hill
It was back at the start of April that Squirrel Flower, the musical project of American songwriter Ella Williams, featured on these pages with Hurt A Fly, the first single from her upcoming second album, Planet (i). The follow up to the acclaimed debut, I Was Born Swimming, Planet (i) will arrive at the end of next month, and this week Ella has shared the latest track from the record, I’ll Go Running.
Discussing the inspiration behind the track, Ella has suggested I’ll Go Running is a song, “about the darker side of being an artist”. The track explores the pressure of always creating something new and shocking, and the pressure to, “open yourself completely without always getting intentional listening and consumption in return“. The track opens with an almost whisper, a gentle flutter of guitar accompanied by a steady, poised vocal, “I’ll go running, let my hair down, won’t give two ears to what you say now”. As the track progresses, it has a certain haunted quality, the voice smouldering like the ashes of a fading fire, as the guitar seems to sing out as an expression of the feelings lurking within. There is a physical, visceral quality to the way Ella plays that seems to just flow out of her body and into the strings. By the time the song hits its emotive high-point, it becomes a gentle cacophony of sound, as Ella muses on the desire to always re-invent the wheel, “I’ll be something that you’ve never seen I’ll be newer than before”. The opening track of Planet (i), I’ll Go Running sets the scene for what is to come, a record that finds Ella embracing the power of sharing her music without fear, with a record this exciting, Squirrel Flower should not need to worry, the world is going to love it.
2. I’m A Sucker For Mumble Tide
While bass-player wanted adverts were a fixture of music magazines in the 80s and 90s, Mumble Tide’s story is a modern re-imagining of the same tale. Gina Leonard took to Gumtree, traditionally home to more second-hand sofas than musicians, and went looking for a bass player. There she found Ryan Rogers, the missing part in her musical vision, and “the boyfriend part was a bonus”. Last year saw the band release their acclaimed debut EP, Love Thing, and this week they’re back with a brand-new single, Sucker.
Sucker is possibly Mumble Tide’s most direct offering to date, as Gina’s snarl of a vocal is accompanied by loose, frantic guitars and the driving intensity of the rhythm section. Lyrically, the track is something of a kiss-off, casting off the baggage of a failed relationship and strutting triumphantly into a new phase of your life, “so long, so long, sucker”. Particularly wonderful is the song’s breakdown that hits around the two-minute mark, as saxophones and brass come careering into earshot, a surprising and wonderful aside, reminiscent of Do Make Say Think’s jazz-flecked post-rock. A hint of what could be a spectacular year for Mumble Tide, from humble beginnings to the verge of musical magic.
Sucker is out now via Nothing Fancy Records. For more information on Mumble Tide visit https://mumbletide.bandcamp.com.
1. Sara Bug Heads Back To Music City
Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, the music on Sara Bug’s debut album is the epitome of eclectic. Sara appeared on this site back in February with the dramatic, textural Rosebank and again in March with the loose and luxurious Lotta Pride. With the album out next week via Egghunt Records, this week Sara has shared the record’s latest curveball, in the shape of her new single, Back in Nashville.
Setting out with the aim of writing, “a cheesy country song”, in many ways Back In Nashville is just that, with pulsing upright bass and twanging electric guitar, it exists in the perfect middle ground of Dolly Parton and Esther Rose. Like all the best country songs though, Sara understands that lurking behind the shimmer and sheen, is a layer of good old Southern Grime, as Sara explains, “Back in Nashville is kind of about hating Nashville. It’s also about someone who’s really special to me who lives far away. Every time we see each other it gets harder to go back to Nashville alone“. What really makes the song work is the fact for all its deliberate cheese, there’s a real commitment to the way the track is delivered. Sara’s voice is jaw-dropping throughout, crisp, clean, and every bit a Country Queen, as she sings, “something ain’t real about these cities and these lights”, the sense of isolation and longing to be somewhere else is palpable and entirely honest. A uniquely wonderful musical talent, Sara Bug never really planned to release these songs, for Sara’s sake and my own, I’m very glad she changed her mind.
Header photo is Sara Bug by Bendrix Littleton.