5. Langkamer Let Their Inner Mountain Lion Out
A self-described, “country-punk”, band from Bristol, Langkamer have caught the attention of a growing number of admirers via recent singles, The Ugliest Man in Bristol and Humdinger. With their debut album out next week, the band have shared the latest cut from the record in the shape of Mountain Lion.
Mountain Lion is something of a different mood for the band, embracing their more tender side, the song foregoing their punkier raucousness, for the Americana-tinged sound of Winter nipping at your toes and leaves turning brown. Lyrically, the track is a reflection on class inequalities in the band’s home city as they explain, “it’s a song about middle-class guilt. About the relationship between your political beliefs and your social status, and the idea that the two can somehow cancel each other out”. This manifests in the song as an imagined scenario where they own a three million pound house over-looking Avon Gorge with its own vineyard, and live, “a life of unfettered luxury”. The track might be a departure for Langkamer, yet it is a style that suits them from the languid guitars to the experimental flourish of clarinet, it’s the sound of a band pushing your expectations from them, and every bit as exciting as that sounds.
4. Don’t Take A Pass On Lionlimb
It was all the way back in 2016 that Lionlimb first came to my attention with the release of their brilliantly uncategorisable debut album, Shoo. Ostensibly a solo project of long-term Angel Olsen collaborator Stewart Bronaugh, Lionlimb went on to release a second album, Tape Recorder, in 2018. Three years on, the band are set to return with their new album, Spiral Groove, which was written in the aftermath of Stewart undergoing neck surgery, and touches on themes of mortality, addiction, sobriety, and, “the romance of a lifetime”. Ahead of the album’s November release, this week the band have shared the first single from the record, Loveland Pass.
Named after one of the highest mountain passes in Colorado, Loveland Pass is a reflection on Stewart’s experience of panic attacks, as he recalls, “it was like a door opened I never knew existed and there didn’t seem to be anything I could do to stop or control them“. Stewart likens the experience to the many avalanches that have occurred on Loveland Pass, “something would get knocked loose up there and start to slide“. Musically, there’s something almost alchemical about the sounds Lionlimb create, Stewart working with regular rhythm section Joshua Jaeger and Jonathan Sumner to make a sound that seems to almost transcend genre, fusing elements of jazz, indie-pop and neo-classical composition into a dense melting pot of sound. The whole thing has a stunning pulse, the tightly locked rhythms of the track allowing for a vast array of melodic experimentation as rich piano chords give way to wailing lead-guitars and waves of gorgeous cello, without ever falling into the trap of getting overly experimental. Atop everything is Stewart’s vocal, a sort of calm in the storm, his easy delivery at odds with the wild fluctuations occurring behind him as he longs for the cascading to stop, “after this one’s passed I’m gonna see you on the highway, no one but you”. This is a fabulous return for a band who with very little fanfare are making a back catalogue anyone would be jealous of, with Spiral Groove I’d put money on it being their strongest statement yet.
3. It’s Not Monday But You Can Make Some Time For Blackaby Everyday
My recent return to live music kicked off with Blackaby at The Victoria, and frankly, I couldn’t have asked for anything better! The band were on top form, fresh off the back of the release of the brilliant recent EP, Everything’s Delicious released earlier this year via Hand In Hive. This week the band released a string of Autumn tour-dates, as well as sharing a brand new single, She’ll Make Some Time On A Monday.
A reminder of Blackaby’s way with a perfect three-minute pop song, She’ll Make Some Time On A Monday is an ebullient slice of melodic brilliance. While it might be a song about, “being too busy to see your friends and your friends being too busy to see you”, it certainly isn’t wallowing, as the runaway train of a guitar line sends your ears hurtling along at breakneck speed through a tale of dippy eggs, pot plants and, “old fashioned fun”. Like so much of the music Blackaby make, there’s a distinctly British feel to the track, not in the flag-draped Tory MP sense, but in the lineage of The Kinks and Field Music, bands who wear their eccentricities on their sleeves and embrace the joyous lack of pretension that a pop song can possess. More of this sort of thing please, the world needs a good dose of Blackaby right now.
2. Bleach Lab Stop By For A Chat
Cast your mind back to the Spring and you might recall Bleach Lab featured on these pages, that was around the release of their hugely well-received EP, A Calm Sense Of Surrounding. With the band about to embark on UK dates in October, including a sold-out headline date at The Lexington in London, this week they’ve announced details of their second EP, Nothings Feels Real; due out that same month. Ahead of that release the band have also shared the latest track from the EP, Talk It Out.
Discussing the inspiration behind the track, Bleach Lab have suggested it started out as a song about mental health, before growing over time to represent the realisation a relationship is changing who you are, at the cost of your own happiness. This experience is mirrored as much in the music as any lyrics, with the track beginning with the repetitive drudgery of a failing relationship, before slowly battling its way through the fog, as Jenna Kyle’s vocal becomes an angry release atop the pummeling drum-beat and unravelling, layers of shimmering guitar, as she repeats the title of the song like a reminder to always keep the communication going. Bleach Lab feel like a band who are really onto something, each release seeming to stretch them musically, and connect them to an even wider audience, if they keep this up you’re going to be hearing an awful lot more about this band before the year is out.
Nothing Feels Real is out October 15th. For more information on Bleach Lab visit https://bleachlab.com/.
1. Young Or Old You’ll Be In Love With Sweet Nobody
Hailing from Long Beach, California, Sweet Nobody first emerged back in 2017 with their debut album, Loud Songs For Quiet People.
The band’s follow up album, We’re Trying Our Best, was originally intended for release in the summer of 2020, yet like so many plans it was waylaid by unforeseen circumstances. Now set for release later this month, this week the band shared the latest track from the album, Young In Love.
Like much of We’re Trying Our Best, Young In Love is in some ways a track about feeling rudderless in the ever rushing stream of life, as the band put it, the track is all the, “wobbly moments of a life, compiled and relived in the middle of the night”. Despite its title, the track isn’t actually about the thrills of young love, but more about how that memory can keep creeping up on us even as we start to grow older, “you can be 14, 24, or 84, being in love—being vulnerable and yearning for connection with someone else—still feels the same”. Musically, the track is a perfect soundtrack to crashing insecurities, all cascading guitar chords and pounding snare drums, set in tumultuous contrast to the soaring melancholy of the vocal melody, “young in love and it’s so awful, when you’re not good at being social”. As the track fades out on the repeated refrain, “if you’re not young you’ll never know”, it feels like Sweet Nobody have written an instant classic, one of those perfect anti-love songs. Like Alvvays’ Archie Marry Me or REM’s Everybody Hurts. It’s a song that questions all the clichés of love and tradition, while knowing if the time comes to put their heart on the line once more, like everyone else they’ll jump at the opportunity whatever age it comes along.
We’re Trying Our Best is out September 17th via Daydream Records. For more information on Sweet Nobody visit https://sweet-nobody.bandcamp.com/.
Header photo is Sweet Nobody.