5. Mae Powell Really Scratches That Itch
Raised in San Diego, where she grew up watching folk musicians record in her mother’s ad-hoc garage recording studio, it was only after relocating to San Francisco in 2014, that Mae Powell started forming her own musical vision. Citing Frankie Cosmos as a major influence, Mae has a similarly observational style, sharing her view of the world and the vast array of characters that inhabit it. The result is her debut album, Both Ways Brighter, out next month via Park The Van, from which this week she shares a new single, Scratch n Sniff.
Written on a trip to North Carolina, Scratch n Sniff is a reflection on, “being far away from someone you really want to be next to and feed fruit to and hold hands with”. The track seems to walk the lines between Anti-Folk and bedroom-pop, with a swaggering lead guitar and steady snare-led drumbeat, giving the whole thing a delightful strut, as if Sweet Baboo swapped Wales for West Coast America. Lyrically it is unapologetically sweet, with just a hint of over the top obsession, “scratch n sniff all of the letters you sent to me. Your hands were on these little pieces of paper and now the paper’s touching me”. There’s a certain optimism in Mae Powell’s vision of the world, a feeling that wherever the world is taking you, that’s where you’re meant to be going, so enjoy the ride, enjoy the sounds, enjoy the smells, that all go together to make up a life being led
4. (Sun)Gaze Into The Mirror
Based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, Sungaze are a band centred around the husband and wife duo of Ian Hilvert and Ivory Snow. The project began life when Ian left his long-time metal band and decided to try his hand at something a bit more dreamy. Back in 2019, they released their debut album, Light in All of It, two years on the band are currently building towards the release of their new album, This Dream, and this week shared the latest single from it, Body In The Mirror.
Listening to Body In The Mirror, the influence of the shoegaze bands of the early 1990s is clear, with the shimmering guitars of Slowdive and the pounding drums of The Jesus & Mary Chain clear for anyone to hear. Yet repeat listens will reveal there’s more to this than a simple pastiche, there’s a certain heat-haze to the dreamscapes Sungaze make that ties to them to their home in the Buckeye State, far more than a rainy day in Glasgow or Reading. Smouldering, wide-angle music equally built for long car journeys or headphones-on concentrated listening, Sungaze have taken a classic sound and made it entirely their own.
The Dream is out August 13th. For more information on Sungaze visit https://www.sungazemusic.com/.
3. Andrew Rinehart Keeps It Real
Although originally from Louisville, Kentucky, the musical career of Andrew Rinehart now spans over a decade and takes in stints on both American coasts. Back in 2015, Andrew released Nothing/Everything, his ambitious double-LP debut. He has gone on to release four more EPs, and has recently detailed a fifth, Have Fun Idiot, out in August via sonaBlast! Ahead of that release, this week Andrew shared a brand new single, More Real.
More Real was written by Arthur Russell, when he was a member of the relatively unknown early-80s band, The Necessaries. Andrew put his version to tape in his native Louisville, and in doing so captures much of the lo-fi stomp of the original. Andrew’s take brings the wiry-guitar line to the fore, a meandering jaunt sitting in perfect contrast to the more driving thrust of the rhythm guitar and the Strokes-like drumbeat. Andrew Rinehart’s love for the track is clear, as is the kinship he feels for Arthur Russel, a like minded musical soul, who despite being taken from the world far too young still leaves his imprint on music in a way few others can.
2. The Sweet Sound Of Tré Burt
Right back at the start of 2020, Tré Burt released his debut album, Caught It From The Rye. It was a record that seemed to arrive with less of a bang and more a slow, smouldering burn. Throughout the year people seemed to gradually tune into Tré’s blue-collar folk music. His music paints a picture of America through the eyes of the downtrodden and forgotten, pulling back the cover and unveiling the flaws and also the humanity that lies within the country’s borders. This was particularly evident on his moving response to police violence, Under The Devil’s Knee, that saw him win over music fans and scholars alike, even earning him an invitation to speak at Harvard as part of the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project. This week Tré returns with details of his new album, You, Yeah, You out at the end of August via Oh Boy Records, as well as a new single, Sweet Misery.
Sweet Misery serves as the new album’s de-facto title track, and also its call to arms, Tré directly addressing his listener, and perhaps himself, as he sings, “You, Yeah You / who else am I talking to”. While the influence of Bob Dylan on Tré’s music is writ large, there’s also nods to more contemporary musicians like Kevin Morby or Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, songwriters who keep the American-folk tradition alive, while dragging it into the modern world. Here, as becomes clear as the song progresses, it is not so much any one individual that Tré is calling out, instead it’s a certain collective misery, “sweet misery you can follow me down to the end of my path but you still gotta go through me”. This in many ways is a reminder to keep going, to kick against the darkness and find the beauty in yourself, your community and the world around you, what Tré describes as, “tragedy in chorus”, sounds a whole lot better than it does when you’re alone.
1. Ada Lea Will Make You Hurt
Back in 2019, Ada Lea burst onto the indie-folk scene with her superb debut album, what we say in private, which was followed less than a year later by the intriguing EP, woman, here. For the Montreal based project, Ada Lea serving as a monker for songwriter Alexandra Levy, the EP served as a bridge between her debut and the new music she was working on. This week saw the release of her new single, hurt, the first taste of what promises to be an intriguing new period in Ada Lea’s music.
Discussing the idea behind the track, Ada has suggested it was an attempt to communicate complicated feelings without over complex language, “I came with a narrative and removed almost every detail, so as not to obfuscate the feeling”. It’s not just Alexandra’s words that strike straight to the point, musically too this a distinctly to the point composition, as the steady flutter of the acoustic guitar is initially unadorned, before gradually buidling to a crescendo of meandering electric guitars and luxurious strings, before fading to almost nothing as she sings, “somebody hurt me badly, now I’m stuck in a rut, now I’m going crazy”. Ultimately the song leaves the sense of hurt open-ended, “I could say it or say nothing at all, take a walk or take none at all, get on a bus back to Montreal, tell my friends or say nothing at all”. As is so often the case with real life, Ada offers little in the way of a conclusion, and as piece of music, hurt feels all the more real, raw and wonderful as a result.
Header Photo is Ada Lea by Monse Munro.