5. Jessica’s Brother Are Ready To Rain
Jessica’s Brother formed back in 2016 when The Wave Pictures’ drummer Jonny Helm and bassist Charlie Higgs were working together in a framing business and realised they shared a similar passion for making music. Fate intervened from there, as the pair met songwriter Tom Charleston, whose sister Jessica lends the band their name. The result was the band’s warmly received eponymous debut album, which came out via Fika Recordings back in 2018. Now three years on the band are building towards the November release of their new album, Just Rain, which was produced and engineered by Shuta Shinoda at Hackney Road Studios during the summer of 2020.
Ahead of the release this week Jessica’s Brother have shared the record’s opening and title track. Just Rain is a song that deals with the meeting point of melancholy and resilience, as a long-term relationship ends at a time when the world feels in great flux. Musically, it’s something of a departure from their more folk-tinged debut, as distorted guitars come crashing into earshot alongside the pulsing slacker-rock rhythms and Tom’s half-spoken vocal delivery as he sings, “you’ve been trying, I’ve been trying, our heads are holy in silence”. Living up to the song’s title, the music seems to come crashing down from above, like the clouds opening and pouring down upon the band as they question whether to run for shelter or let it all fall down, as the song reaches its lyrical end, “could be death, could be just teething, losing sight can be relieving”. This feels like a step forward for Jessica’s Brother, a band moving on without losing the initial glint in the eye that made them such an exciting prospect in the first place.
Just Rain is out November 26th via Fika Recordings. For more information on Jessica’s Brother visit https://fikarecordings.com/artists/jessicas-brother.
4. Remember The Name Lizzie Loveless
Hailing from New York, Lizzie Lieberson made her name in the music world with the nine years she spent performing with her two sisters in the acclaimed band, Teen. After the band decided to call it a day back in 2019, Lizzie took two years out to rediscover herself and her place on the musical landscape. The fruits of that labour will emerge next month with the release of her debut release under the Lizzie Loveless moniker, Don’t Know, which is due out via Egghunt Records. Ahead of that release, this week Lizzie shared the latest track from the album, Memory.
Lizzie has suggested Memory is a song that asks a question, “where does love go when it’s been lost? Does it get reabsorbed and hide somewhere in the body?” The track explores the idea of letting go of memories, and how it can almost feel like you’re losing a person over again, “it’s about losing track of time and whether you are in love, you’re experiencing loss or somewhere in between”. It’s not just lyrically but musically that Lizzie seems to conjure up ideas of memory, there’s an ethereal quality to the meandering synth line and her gentle, reverberating vocal that creates a fuzzy sense of something slipping quietly away. Lizzie’s music seems to glance back, while still striding forward, the simultaneous sound of an ending and a door to a new future swinging open, as she puts it, “I was sad but I was ready to move forward”, and as a listener, we should be delighted Lizzie’s invited us all along for the ride.
3. There’s A Thread That Run’s Through Shannon Lay’s Music
Something of a regular on these pages, Shannon Lay appeared here last month with the news of her upcoming album Geist, out in October via Sub Pop. This week Shannon has announced details of a European tour, planned for this November, and celebrated by sharing the video to the latest track from the album, A Thread To Find.
Discussing the track, Shannon has suggested A Thread To Find is, “about finding pieces of yourself in unfamiliar places“. The track is a celebration of trying to grow as a person, and all the chaos that comes with it, as well as a reminder, “for when you get lonely on your journey that we are in this together. You’re on your own but not alone“. Musically, the track is as beautifully formed as everything Shannon turns her mind to, here her folk-influenced acoustic guitar is adorned with layered vocal harmonies, the steady walking pulse of double-bass and latterly a beautifully surprising blast of electronics, a predictably unpredictable addition to this most musically creative of songwriters. On Geist, Shannon seems to offer a vision of herself, yet it asks questions of us all, delves deep into what it is to be human and what it is to know who you are, and it’s a record that is all the more relatable and exciting as a result.
2. Would Someone Please Ask The Life Model To Sit Still
It was all the way back in April last year that Glasgow quintet Life Model shared Saskia, the first music to be released from their upcoming EP, Lost On Weekdays, Lonely By Sunday, their first release for new label home, Last Night From Glasgow. Following some understandable delays the EP will now see the light of day in October, and this week the band have shared the second track from it, Sit Still.
Sit Still originally had a previous life on the band’s self-titled 2013 EP, however listening to the track it’s almost unrecognisable from the wall-of-noise original. Here the band have sharpened not just their production, but their entire vision for the track. Sit Still was originally inspired by being new in a city and feeling unsure and unsettled, present in Sophie Evans’ vocal, as she sings of walking down back-streets and searching for something she can never quite find. Musically, the track is every bit as beautiful as I’ve come to expect from the band, the painterly guitar strokes of Chris Smith accompanied by the pounding pulse of the rhythm section, and Sophie’s always stunning vocal. The track, which lends the lyric, Lost On Weekdays, Lonely By Sunday to give the EP its title, is a fabulous introduction to a record, which on the all the evidence presented so far, might turn out to be one of the year’s most exciting releases.
1. Natalie Jane Hill Weaves A Classic
Although originally from Central Texas, it was a 2013 move to the Blue Ridge Mountains that inspired much of Natalie Jane Hill’s 2020 debut Azalea. Although inspired by nature and the beautiful setting in which it was written, Azalea was actually released just after a change of scenery, as Natalie returned to the musical hotbed of Austin. What followed was, what she describes as, “an intensive period of reflection”, as a global pandemic hit and she began work on the music that would become her second album. That record, Solely, is out in October via Dear Life Records, and this week Natalie has shared the first single from it, Orb Weaver.
There’s something stunningly macroscopic about the themes of Orb Weaver, Natalie’s keen eye zooming in on the titular spider with a keen lyrical eye, “I see her, an orb weaver, hanging on a dew-covered web, mighty and small, she spins her bed and the strands they shimmer with wind and I feel better, more than I ever did”. Yet if this is sounding a little like a nature documentary, from that imagery, Natalie weaves a web of her own. As the song progresses she seems to connect the dots in her own life to the lone work of the Orb Weaver, recalling a time, “when it was just I”, as she makes peace with her, now solo, journey and finds the power to leap into whatever challenges are coming along this new path. Musically, the track is as gorgeously delicate as any web, as fluttering wisps of delicate-as-silk finger-picked guitar are accompanied by warm, distant slide-guitars and gorgeous strings that seem to almost peak out from the thicket, before disappearing once more. If Solely is, as Natalie has suggested, a journey to find the courage required for introspection and collaboration, then perhaps Orb Weaver is its first gentle step, a toe dipped into the waters, ready for whatever harshness and beauty is waiting at the crest of this spectacular wave.
Header photo is Natalie Jane Hill by Julian Neel.