Five Things We Liked This Week – 14/05/21

Further Listening:

5. Maybe Poster Paints Deserve To Be Number 1

Poster Paints is the new project from Glaswegian pair Carla J. Easton and Simon Liddel, who is known previously for his work with Frightened Rabbit and Olympic Swimmers. The collaboration came about as an attempt to remain focused and embrace, “the new normal”, so many of us faced during lockdown, as Carla explains, “the chance to still be able to do something you love became a reason to get out of bed“. Working remotely in their respective home studios, they used everything from a high-tech drum studio, to a makeshift vocal booth in a cupboard. With more recordings hopefully on the way via Olive Grove Records, this week the band shared their debut single, Number 1.

Number 1 was something of an instant anthem for the band, described as a track for, “teenage love, feeling invincible and long hot summers”. Musically it’s a perfect amalgam of clattering and jangling, as stabs of shoegazing guitars, collide with an almost primal, Velvet Underground like drum-beat, and Carla’s bright, timeless vocal, bringing to mind a considerably more Scottish-take on the 60’s Girl Group sound. There’s a certain nostalgia to the track, a teenage romance re-visited with hindsight, yet not a hint of scepticism, “we were aiming for the sun but kids are so naive. I wear my heart on my sleeve, cause baby you’re my number one”. They might just be getting started, yet already Poster Paints seem to be onto something really quite special.

Number 1 is out now via Olive Grove Records. For more information on Poster Paints visit https://www.posterpaints.com/

4. Babehoven Make Good Music Out Of A Bad Week

Babehoven is the project of Topanga, California raised songwriter, Maya Bon. The band’s profile has been building over the last few years as they released their well-received and lengthily titled EPs, Demonstrating Visible Difference of Height and Yellow Has A Pretty Good Reputation. Inspired by what Maya describes as, “two years of heartache, humour and rage, then growth”, the upcoming Babehoven EP, Nastavi Calliope, is a story of reconnecting with her Croatian roots. Nastavia translating as keep going and Calliope, the name of her beloved childhood dog. Ahead of the record’s release in July, this week Maya has shared the first track from it, Bad Week.

Discussing the track, Maya has spoken of it as an open-hearted admission of grief, as she explains, “I have found that it can feel as if the ‘bad days’ keep going, growing into ‘bad weeks,’ ‘bad years,’ into new levels of struggle that are hard to move through”. Despite that underlying heaviness, within the struggle Maya strives for a certain amount of positivity, “these times are very hard and yet I want to move forward, I want to feel, I want to grow. ‘Bad Week’ is my attempt to commit to myself in these feelings”. The track opens in painful understatement, Maya’s vocal demanding all the attention, with just a wobbling guitar-line for company as she sings, “it’s hard to talk about it being a bad week when it’s been a bad week for a long time now, and it doesn’t seem to get better”. From that point, the track seems to descend into the deep, as a jarring blast of synth and clattering drums create a dense swirl of sound, a spiral that seems to almost engulf Maya, only the emotive power of her voice allowing her to keep her head above water. There is little let-up throughout, although as Maya’s words turn to oohs, you can almost feel the picture cracking as if a little bit of hope might just be creeping in around the edges. Keep going Babehoven, music this good deserves to be heard.

Nastavi Calliope is out July 9th. For more information on Babehoven visit https://www.babehoven.com/.

3. The Goon Sax’s New Album Is A Stone’s Throw Away

I remember the first time I heard The Goon Sax, it was on Marc Riley’s radio show back in 2015 with their brilliant debut single, Sometimes Accidentally. Rarely does a band so instantly charm, and even more rarely do they go on to live up to that initial spark of hope at what might be. Now six years, and two albums later, the band are set to make their latest artistic statement, in the shape of their new album, Mirror II, due out in July via Matador. This week the band shared the first single from the album, In The Stone.

Listening to In The Stone, there is a clear sense of progression for The Goon Sax. Here the almost naively straight-talking narrative of their early career is replaced with something more flowing and loose, as the rumble of the rhythm section flows around synths and stabs of electric guitar. The track was written shortly after Louis Forster relocated to Berlin with his partner, a theme present in the song’s exploration of living in flux and, “a need for a solid sense of self and the person we loved”. It’s not just thematically but musically that Berlin shapes In The Stone’s sound, as Louis recalls, “the song was influenced by what was playing in the background of our conversations…so it probably bears more of a subconsciously absorbed modern pop influence than anything else we’ve done”. This is a track that hints at growth and experimentation, a band that found international acclaim when still at school and are still growing on the job. With the upcoming release of Mirror II promising more experimentation and to be, “more weird”, the return of The Goon Sax is every bit as fascinating as you could have hoped.

Mirror II is out July 9th via Matador. For more information on The Goon Sax visit https://thegoonsax.com/.

2. Torres’ New Track Is Everything You Wished For

Since I started this blog, I’ve made little secret of my love for the music Mackenzie Scott makes under the moniker Torres. From the first time I came across her music on 2015’s SPRINTER through to last year’s fabulous Silver Tongue, Mackenzie’s records have been regular visitors into my album of the year lists. All of which made this week’s announcement of a brand new album, Thirstier, due out in July through Merge Records, a reason to be very cheerful indeed. Alongside the news, Torres also shared the first track from the record, Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head.

At a time when a lot of the world is feeling grey and troubling, Thirstier seems to find Torres kicking against the crowd, Mackenzie taking the “deep, deep joy”, she has found in her life into an eruption of colour and joy. If that has got you picturing hand-claps and twee sing-alongs, you probably haven’t heard Torres’ music before. On Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head, Mackenzie takes that emotional intensity and spins it into something joyous. Through a clatter of drums and a meander of loose guitar soloing, it’s the most bombastic and hopeful Torres has ever sounded; even with a little trademark doubt, “if you don’t want me believing you’re never going to leave me darling, don’t go putting wishes in my head”. Perhaps Mackenzie herself puts it best, “I love the idea that intensity can actually be something life-saving or something joyous”. Throw yourself into Torres’ world, this is the sound of happiness without the frilly bits; raw, beautiful and really rather brilliant.

Thirstier is out July 30th via Merge Records. For more information on Torres visit https://torresmusicofficial.com/.

1. Shannon Lay Is A Rare Gem

Back in 2019, Shannon Lay released one of the year’s finest debut albums, in the shape of the critically acclaimed August. Produced in collaboration with producer Ty Segall, the album was a fascinating merger between Shannon’s love for traditional folk music and a more modern recording technique. This week Shannon has returned with her new single, Rare To Wake, the first new material since August’s release.

Discussing Rare To Wake, Shannon has spoken of it as a song of change, as she explains, “let this song be a reminder to never be afraid to receive and accept the changes that beckon you to grow and evolve“. Rare To Wake is delivered via layered vocal harmonies, warm finger-picked guitars, and the occasional flourish of distantly showy and really rather wonderful, almost prog-rock keyboards. The whole thing has a certain touch of Primrose Green-era Ryley Walker, or at least borrows from a similar love of the psych-folk records of the ’60s and ’70s. As with so much of Shannon Lay’s music what really shines is her sense of hope for what is coming next, a belief that the best is yet to come. It’s something that we can all get on board with, as Shannon sings, “I will miss my pain but I have to make way for something better, without change something sleeps inside us rare to wake”. A reminder to keep open-hearted and open-minded, to embrace tomorrow and not exist only in the past or the fear of what might be. Make room for Shannon Lay and make way for whatever is waiting just around the corner.

Rare To Wake is out now via Sub Pop. For more information on Shannon Lay visit https://www.subpop.com/artists/shannon_lay.

Header photo is Shannon Lay by Kai MacKight.

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