5. Sister Go Into Hiding
Hailing from Brooklyn, Sister are the duo of Hannah Pruzinsky and Ceci Sturman, alongside newly recruited guitarist James Chrisman. Ceci and Hannah met while they were college roommates at St. John’s University in Queens, and bonded over a shared love poetry, M83 and Beach House. Despite their close connection, they’re still living together seven years later, it wasn’t until their final year of college that they, almost by accident, started making music together, when Ceci asked Hannah to sing on a song she was composing for a course assignment. At the start of the year, Sister descended on Greenpoint Recording Collective studio, and put down the tracks that would become their upcoming EP, Something / Nothing, which they previewed this week with a new single Hideaway.
From minimal beginnings Hideaway is a track that seems to slowly swell, the ethereal vocals becoming engulfed by an ever building base of expansive guitars and distant percussion, the track starting life like Lomelda and ending it like a post-rock epic in the mould of Dirty Three. Discussing the inspiration behind the track Hannah has spoken of Hideaway as, “that secret place where you can be without a guise, without fear, you can never reveal too much“. A song that seems to search for intimacy and the accompanying sense of safety that brings, Hideaway is Sister’s finest musical statement to date and one that hints that their upcoming EP is a record you won’t want to miss.
4. Paolo Ruiu Has Got A Bone To Pick With You
A second-generation Sardinian-Brit raised in the London suburbs, Paolo Ruiu first came to my attention many years ago as one half of the critically lauded duo, Young Romance. With the first national lockdown putting an end to the band’s touring plans, including a planned return to Italy, Paolo took the time to explore his musical desires as a solo artist, resulting in recent singles, Low and Run and Hide. This week Paolo has shared his latest slice of creativity, Bones.
A song Paolo describes as, “written around the sacrifices we willingly make to help those closest to us”, Bones’ roots are distinctly lo-fi, recorded to a Tascam cassette that Paolo recycled from his youth. The resultant track seems to walk a line between the ambling slacker-sounds of Kurt Vile and the experimental bedroom pop of Chris Cohen. To the fore, perhaps unsurprisingly for a man who’s a guitarist in his other band, is Paolo’s creative use of his instrument of choice, here the guitars are pitch-shifted alongside processed beats and reverberating vocals to create something at once welcoming and gently disorienting. A solo project that feels much more than just a temporary aside, Paolo’s unplanned retreat to his bedroom finds him thriving and ready to head back out with an array of new songs just waiting for the world to fall in love with.
Bones is out now. For more information on Paolo Ruiu visit https://paoloruiumusic.com/.
3. I’ve Got A Good Feelin’ About Pony Hunt
The story of Jessie Antonick, the songwriter behind Pony Hunt, is something of an all-American adventure, California born and Chicago raised, it was arriving in New Orleans that really set her creative spark ablaze. That Louisiana influence is writ large across her fantastic new record, VAR!, which is out later this month via Wing and Wing. This week Jessie has shared the latest single from the record, That Feelin.
That Feelin was written while Jessie was staring out at the Mississippi River and realising the river, “had been a reliable witness to my heartache once again”. Feeling becalmed by the water, Jessie entered a sort of creative daze as she set about, “flushing my chaotic feelings from the heart to paper”. Musically the track is a splendidly timeless concoction, an old soul song put through a doo-wop filter, and a deliciously retro-sounding guitar line, coming out like the middle ground of Hurray For The Riff Raff and Ezra Furman. At the forefront of a Queer Americana revolution, Pony Hunt’s music hits with the heartbreak of an old country record, and yet places that sound in a world that could only be 21st-century living. In searching for a connection with herself and with the world at large, Jessie Antonick’s music is a special brew of places, people and sounds that comes out entirely in her own image and is all the better for it.
2. How much Girlpuppy is too much Girlpuppy?
Girlpuppy is the delicious dreamy musical moniker of Atlanta-based songwriter Becca Harvey. As it was for so many people who exist at the meeting point of the music industry and the service industry, 2020 was a transformative year for Becca, when Coronavirus forced her out of her job as a cashier at an East Atlanta bakery. With what she describes as, “an abundance of idle time”, Becca took the chance to focus on finishing the music she’d begun writing years earlier as Girlpuppy. The result was her breakout single, For You, which she has quickly followed up this week with a new track, As Much As I Can, the first offering from her upcoming Swan EP.
Discussing the track, Becca has suggested As Much As I Can is a track about, “the people in my life that make unconditional love the most difficult“, with the verses exploring the differences and shared experiences we all have with the people who are closet to us. For all the friction on show, Becca is quick to point out it’s not meant as a song of hate, “it’s honest and was my opportunity to exercise vulnerability. It’s a love song“. As with much of Girlpuppy’s music, As Much As I Can seems to sit at various meeting points, whether that’s the emotions of tenderness and disagreement, or the sounds of dreamy and driving. Building around a steady Real Estate-like drumbeat, the track seems to mix in the sounds of dream-pop and bedroom introspection, with the lithe guitar lines and echoing double-tracked vocals bringing to mind Hazel English or Snail Mail. It might have taken an unexpected push to get her to leave coffee making behind, yet on this evidence, Girlpuppy’s music could take her wherever she wants to go.
1. Zelma Stone Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving
In what turned out to be a very odd year for everyone, Zelma Stone’s fabulous EP, Dreamland, perhaps didn’t quite win over the audience it so richly deserved. My favourite EP of the year, Dreamland was a reflection on grief that simultaneously crackled and sparked with the honesty of life finding a way to carry on through the darkness. Dreamland was a record that often seemed to be looking backwards, and perhaps logically the next step was a record that strides forward, which is exactly what Chloe Zelma Studebaker suggests her upcoming EP, The Best, does. Alongside detailing The Best’s August release, Chloe has also this week shared the first single from it, Gift Horse.
Gift Horse unsurprisingly lifts its name from the old saying, here that idea is expanded beyond receiving presents, and into how we receive all aspects of our life, as Chloe explains, “anything in this life ultimately comes down to our perspective. It’s a reminder to myself on my most frustrated days to be grateful for everyone who has lent me a helping hand throughout my journey”. Musically, the track is a beautifully playful melding of musical worlds, the strut of the bass line, sitting beneath sinuous guitar lines, initially the song feels breezy, before building to a cacophony of fizzing soloing and anxious pattering drum beats. Amidst all the beautiful noise, sits Chloe’s voice, poised and commanding, as with a touch of Nadine Shah or Aldous Harding, she delivers lines as nonchalantly crushing as, “I’ll be a friend and you could call me your kin, I guess it takes a little longer for the love to set in”. Music writers are often quick to label people as rising stars, ones to watch, the next big thing, Zelma Stone’s music seems to instantly transcend those labels, this isn’t a songwriter with a bright future, she is one with a bright present, ready, willing and able to take the world by storm.
The Best is out August 20th. For more information on Zelma Stone visit https://www.zelmastone.com/.
Header photo is Zelma Stone by Melissa Russi.