5. Ada Lea’s New Single Is Damn Fine
Last month Ada Lea, the musical moniker of Alexandra Levy, featured on these pages with her excellent comeback single Hurt. That was the first material since last year’s women, here EP, and as we now know the first taster of her upcoming second album. That record, one hand on the steering wheel and the other sewing a garden, is out in September through Saddle Creek, and this week Ada Lea has shared the second offering from it, damn.
The record is consciously split across the four different seasons, and despite it being the middle of summer for us Northern Hemisphere dwellers, damn is rooted very much in the winter section. The track focuses on, “a cursed New Year’s eve party”, Alexandra trying to make sense of the excess of substance and sadness, “feelings come then they go someplace, little high big lows, in any case, a good friend is a good friend, no doubt, but sometimes a good friend ain’t enough to grab ya and pull you out”. Musically the track seems to have a certain 70s sheen, an expansive AOR classic in the mould of Fleetwood Mac or The War On Drugs, melded with the rich honesty of Alexandra’s sparkling songwriting. As the track comes to a close, the words become an angry list of everything that seems wrong at that moment in time, “damn the work, damn the music, damn the fun that’s missing”, she sings, and on, and on Alexandra’s list goes, a spiral of small rages turning to a furious inferno. damn is a hugely affecting piece of music and serves as further evidence that the return of Ada Lea might just be the break-out moment she so richly deserves.
4. That’s The Life Of Boy Scouts
The project of Oakland-based songwriter Taylor Vick, Boy Scouts burst onto the scene back in 2019 with the critically acclaimed album, Free Company. Two years on Taylor is building to the release of a brand new Boy Scouts collection, Wayfinder, due out in October via ANTI-. Ahead of that release, this week Boy Scouts has shared the first track from the record, That’s Life Honey.
Discussing the track, Taylor has suggested That’s Life Honey is, “about trying to make light of a shitty situation“. It is a track about wanting to re-wire your brain, “a tragicomedy, combined with true experiences of figuring out how to open up to people“. Like all of Wayfinder, the track was recorded with longtime collaborator Stephen Steinbrink, here that manifests as a gorgeous slice of hazy alt-folk, as the steady rhythmic guitar-line creates a bed for Taylor’s hushed melodic vocals. With its title lifted from Sallie Tisdale’s book, Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying, Wayfinder feels like a tribute to music itself. A reminder of its ability to be a companion when the world is dark and confusing, and the way it can create a sense of identity that shapes how you interact with the world around you. Boy Scouts makes music for music lovers, an album to embrace and interact with, and let it shape you, in the same the way the music she loves shaped its creator. When it arrives in October make sure to find your way to Wayfinder, it might just change your life.
3. There’s Sweet Nobody Out There Apart From Other Humans
Sweet Nobody first came to the world’s attention back in 2017 around the release of their debut album, Loud Songs For Quiet People. Four years on, and the Long Beach, California-based quartet are building towards the September release of their second long-player, We’re Trying Our Best. Originally scheduled for release last Summer, We’re Trying Our Best was recorded pre-pandemic, and is more personal than global in its outlook, although by looking at Joy’s battles with chronic pain, feeling damaged and, “the occasional weirdness one can feel just being around other people”, it has become a record that many will surely relate to. This week the band have shared the latest single from the album, Other Humans.
Discussing the track, Joy has suggested Other Humans is, “a shout out to anyone who’s ever felt like they were somehow stuck on the outskirts of something resembling normal human-hood”. As she further explains, “sometimes I feel like I’m on the outside looking into my own life. Always one misstep away from losing my standing as a believable human”, a feeling which she’s realised isn’t actually unusual at all. Musically, the track is Sweet Nobody at their swooping, shimmering best, Joy’s wistfully stoic, vocal accompanied by a pounding snare drum and tumbling layers of guitar and bass, it’s a sound fans of Alvvays or Neighbor Lady are bound to fall head-over-heels for. Lyrically Other Humans is a perfect reflection on subtle disconnection, “I meet you through a pane of glass, and then I do a hollow laugh just to sound like everybody else”. With their new album, Sweet Nobody are trying their best, and on the evidence so far that’s more than good enough for anyone.
2. Loma Are Going Out Out
Across two stunning album’s, 2018’s self-titled debut and last year’s Don’t Shy Away, Loma have quickly established themselves as one of my favourite bands. This week the trio who work largely out of Dripping Springs in Texas, have confirmed they’re working on material for album number three, as well as sharing the stand-alone single, Going Out, their cover-version of Danish pop artist Dinner’s 2014 single.
Discussing their decision to cover the track, Dan Duszynski from the band notes, “songs are like cats—sometimes they just pick you”. He goes on to recall how he and vocalist Emily Cross came across the track when playing at an Austin record store, they bought the album and it’s remained on heavy rotation ever since, “we couldn’t resist making our own version because it always cheers us up. Who doesn’t need that right now?” In typically creative fashion, Loma’s take on the track starts with a waver of clarinet before the motorik drum rhythm and heavily-processed multi-tracked vocals take it drifting off into similar territory to The Beta Band or Here We Go Magic. It’s intriguing to hear a band as fascinatingly creative as Loma put their spin on the pop genre, whether it’s a brief aside or a sign of things to come, this is a musical landscape that suits Loma and further evidence of just how special this band truly is.
1. Now Holly It’s Perfectly Common To Be Preoccupied With The Moon
Common Holly first came to my attention back in 2019 around the release of the excellent album, When I Say To You Black Lightning. The project of Montreal-based songwriter Brigitte Naggar, the record caught the ear of a host of online tastemakers, drawing acclaim for her deft, ghostly musical collages. Two years on from that record, this week Brigitte returned with her brand new single Preoccupy and the accompanying b-side, The Moon.
Described by Brigitte as, ” a song about listlessness”, Preoccupy was written as part of a planned EP that never saw the light of day. The track was recorded a few years back with the help of Paul and Kenny from the band Little Kid. Musically, Preoccupy is a subtle triumph, as the intimate, half-whispered vocals are initially accompanied by a subtly ominous guitar-line that slowly grows to a series of quiet crescendos, walking the line between bedroom-pop experimentation and 60s influenced psych-folk. There’s even room for the rather odd musical accompaniment of a dial-up modem, that’s slightly warped but still, very much the sound of the late 90s that those of a certain age will remember with quiet dread. Alongside The Moon, a stripped-back meditation on the beauty of our one natural satellite, this is an enticing return from Common Holly, a timely reminder of an enduring talent, I already can’t wait to see where Brigitte’s music takes us next.
Header photo is Common Holly by Brontë Jane.