5. It Takes A Village To Raise A Merpire
The latest talent to emerge from the eclectic and rather brilliant Melbourne scene, Merpire is the much-hyped project of Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt. Having previously received support from the likes of NPR and Clash, this week Merprie has announced the release of her debut album, Simulation Ride. Alongside that news, Rhiannon has also shared the first single from the album, Village.
While tackling themes of anxiety and reliance, the inspiration for Village initially came from a slightly unusual source, the symbiotic relationship between the Bell Bird and the psyllid insect that feeds them. As Rhiannon explains, “the psyllid produces a sugary coating like a cocoon and the bellbirds lick this sweet treat, not eating the whole insect so that the psyllids keep producing the sugar”. This served as a jumping-off point for a song that explores the idea of feeling unworthy and the need we all have for people around us to drag us up, with the lyrics paraphrasing the old saying, “it takes a village to love you”. Despite being a solo project Merpire’s sound feels delightfully full, bringing to mind the likes of Lucy Dacus or Torres, as loose jagged guitar collides with clattering drums and Rhiannon’s rich, emotive vocal. An impressive return, this feels like Merpire facing the world head-on, standing up to her doubts and struggles and turning them into something powerful and exciting: a very exciting talent just made her biggest statement to date.
4. Faye Webster’s A Real Laugh
Back in 2019, there’s a very good chance you heard about Faye Webster’s second album, Atlanta Millionaires Club. The record seemed to exist between different worlds; taking R&B and fusing it with pedal steel, adding a rap section to an alt-country song, and generally being both baffling and brilliant. It drew huge acclaim, with everyone from Pitchfork to Barak Obama raving about it. For Faye Webster, a photographer, musician and, “full-time yo-yo enthusiast”, existing outside of the box is something that seems to come entirely naturally. Two years on from Atlanta Millionaires Club, Faye is building up to the release of her latest album, I Know I’m Funny haha, due out in June via Secretly Canadian. This week she shared the second track from the album, in the shape of the record’s sparkling title track.
Recording I Know I’m Funny haha in the year that was 2020 required a different approach for Faye Webster. While previously she’d worked on an almost track-by-track approach, this time she took on a more intensive and focused approach. Listening to the record’s title track, the change in style is instantly recognisable. There’s a quality you only get when great musicians are working in perfect sync, the way the instruments seem to effortlessly bounce ideas around like old friends who are all completely on the same page. Lyrically, there is a certain stream-of-consciousness approach to the track, the words forming little snapshots of Faye’s life that she weaves together, whether that is a landlord walking off with her security deposit, or her partner’s family getting drunk and forgetting who she is. Somehow despite these seemingly disparate narratives and almost unconnected nature, these stories flow together and create a rounded picture of a life-being led. There’s a wonderful confidence to Faye Webster’s return, this is an artist hitting a real sweet spot, where her songs are so honest and deeply relatable, they already feel like old favourites just waiting to be re-discovered time and time again.
I Know I’m Funny haha is out June 25th via Secretly Canadian. For more information on Faye Webster visit https://www.fayewebster.com.
3. We’re A Big Fan Of This Plush New Carpet
Based out of Leeds, Carpet is the new project from drummer, producer and songwriter, Rob Slater. While you might not realise it, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Rob’s music before. His previous work includes playing with the likes of Crake and Mi Mye as well as making up one-third of the production team based out of Greenmount Studios, where many of Yorkshire’s finest records of recent years have been crafted. It was working in solitude at Greenmount that inspired Rob to start Carpet. The band serves as an attempt to get back to the joy he once found in recording lo-fi bedroom-pop in his teenage bedroom. This week saw the first music emerge from Carpet, in the shape of Rob’s new single, Burnt And Cold.
Discussing Burnt And Cold, Rob has suggested it is designed as, “a more forgiving take on turmoil”, while still facing up to the darkness the track is a reminder as the lyrics say that, “all this one day won’t feel so strange”. Rob has described Carpet’s process as an attempt to capture the initial excitement of a home demo, the first thrilling moments of a song pouring out of a performer. Here the result is deliciously raw, building on a muted guitar, resplendent with scratchy fret-buzz, before a primal bassy drum beat and the slowly emerging buzz of creeping keyboards come to the fore. Atop the ever-morphing music, Rob’s vocal seems to gradually grab your attention, initially it sounds downbeat, almost uninterested, but then the passion for what was begins to swell, “I’m lying face-up in the shallow-end, I still look for you in everything”. There’s a certain nostalgia to the music Carpet make, a longing for a different time when the tape was king, and the character of a song was valued above a perfect recording. The result of this looking back is a track that sounds conversely fresh and exciting, out of step with the modern world, and all the better for it.
Burnt And Cold is out now. For more information on Carpet visit https://carpetsongs.bandcamp.com/.
2. Let’s All Head Over To The Broken Dreams Club For A Pool Party
Broken Dreams Club is the project of Bristol-based musician Amy. Formerly a member of The Travis Waltons, Amy took the name Broken Dreams Club from an EP by American band Girls and has been releasing music since 2017. When touring in Germany back in 2019, Broken Dreams Club caught the ear of Intersphere Records, who have recently shared her new EP, The Party. This week Amy has shared the video to one of the EP’s stand-out tracks, Pool Party.
Pool Party enters with beautiful contrast, while the muted guitar and easy vocal sound distinctly low-key, the lyric is instantly devastating, “if I went to your pool party, I’d wish that I was dead, because you would just flat-out ignore me and everything I said”. Throughout the track, Amy’s self-belief seems to grow along with the volume of her musical backing. As the song reaches its conclusion it becomes a cacophonous blast of drums and warbling synths, as she becomes, at least outwardly, indifferent, “you can come to my party if you want”. Sure, I’m not 100% buying this change of heart, yet when Amy makes it sound this good I’m more than willing to go along with her. If all Amy’s music sounds this special, membership of this Broken Dreams Club is heading through the roof.
1. Wednesday’s New Single Is Mighty Handsome
Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, Wednesday caught the ear of many, including myself with their excellently noisy album. That record, I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone, deservedly crashed into the upper echelons of my album of the year list. Wasting no time in getting back to the grind-stone, the band have this week shared details of the upcoming follow-up, Twin Plagues, which will arrive via Orindal Records on August 13th. Ahead of that release, the band have also shared the first single from Twin Plagues, Handsome Man.
Discussing the inspiration behind the track, vocalist Karly Hartzman is quick to credit the influence of surrealism on her songwriting, “I find comfort now in things that make no sense. Believing things happen in a random fashion is the only comfort in a world where bad things are always happening on purpose”. If the lyrics are revelling in the surreal, the music feels contrastingly straight talking. Handsome Man has all the same noisy brutality that made I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone such a compelling listen, yet here Wednesday seem if anything even better at harnessing it. From the moment it bounds in on a squall of feedback and a pounding drum beat, there’s a relentless quality to their shoegaze-meets-slacker-rock aural assault. Contained within all the instrumental howl is Karly’s vocal, it’s delivered with a certain urgency, the words seem to tumble forth, a yelping focal point at the centre of everything Wednesday do. Sometimes it feels like a disservice to a band’s previous work to come out declaring their new single a giant leap forward, Wednesday were already brilliant, yet this also feels like a band going up a gear, when Twin Plagues arrives in August I might just want every day to be Wednesday.
Header photo is Wednesday by Charlie Boss.