5. Like It Or Not Maria Taylor’s Coming For You
Hailing from Los Angeles, Maria Taylor is a musician probably best known for her work as one half of the duo, Azure Ray, who recently released their first album in ten years, Remedy. The record was written over the last year and a half, in between periods of homeschooling and generally struggling to find time to focus. All that changed recently, with her school being back in session, as Maria notes, “I already have one song written, recorded, mixed and mastered“. That song, It’s Coming For You, is the first track from a new solo EP, the follow up to Maria’s 2019 self-titled album.
It’s Coming For You is the latest track to come from a fruitful collaboration with fellow songwriter Brad Armstrong, the pair playing all the instruments on the track between them. The track marks something of a return to Maria’s indie-rock roots, digging into similar territory to Rilo Kiley or The Breeders as joyously blistering guitars sit alongside lightly distorted, reverberating vocals, and the steady pounding of a snare drum. Maria Taylor might be a thirty-year veteran of the music industry, may have shared stages with Michael Stipe, Conor Oberst and Moby, yet somehow this feels as fresh, exciting and as entirely unmissable as anything she has ever released.
4. Kristine Leschper Makes An Entrance With An Exit
While I can provide almost no context on it, I was delighted to hear this week of new solo material from Kristine Leschper. Best known until now for her work with Mothers, who released two of my all-time favourite albums in the form of 2016’s When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired and 2018’s Render Another Ugly Method. Alongside making music with the band, Kristine is also an acclaimed artist working in sound, text, image, and performance. This week she has shared the brand new single, Something Like An Exit, the most song-led music she has released under her own name.
Entering on a processed drum-beat and waves of Casio-like chords, Something Like An Exit initially brings to mind early Beach House, showcasing a richness of sound that belies its minimal technological roots. While Kristine’s vocal remains as instantly recognisable as ever, fans of Mothers will instantly spot a difference of tone, there’s a brightness, an optimistic Spring sibling, to their Autumnal haze. The lyrics have a certain cryptic, poetic edge, whether reflecting on ageing, “friends getting older, you getting older, wearing it well”, or hinting at self-sabotage, “what’s the point? Building yourself a beautiful box with no entrance”. The song fades out on an arpeggiated, playful keyboard line and you’re left intrigued by just what this project is. Is Kristine Leschper branching out solo and thriving, or just experimenting with future projects in mind? Either way, it’s fascinating, and in its understated way rather thrilling – a welcome return for one of my favourite songwriters, who’s sounding just as good as ever.
Something Like An Exit is out now. For more information on Kristine Leschper visit http://kristineleschper.com/.
3. I Recommend You Don’t Mumble Your Deathbed Declaration
Mumble Tide, the Bristol-based couple-come-duo of Gina Leonard and Ryan Rogers, first came to my attention last year with the release of their well-received debut EP, Love Thing. Fresh off the back of confirming UK dates with Liz Lawrence and Coach Party, Mumble Tide have this week detailed their next release, Everything Ugly, out in December via Nothing Fancy, as well as sharing the latest single from it, On My Deathbed There’s a Full Page (You Don’t Get To Read It).
In contrast to the outward anger of the previous single Breakfast, On My Deathbed is a more inward glancing number, as Gina explains, “it’s one about reflecting on years of unrequited love- about the light that can shine out of a void”. It was a song the band almost gave up on, going through multiple incarnations before emerging as a poppy joyous number, even if it does contain what the band describe as, “a healthy dose of cynicism and confidence”. There’s a certain strut to the track as if Gina is striding confidently on a sunny day, even as she berates with the cutting line, “on paper I’m a damn fool”. While it’s something of a musical departure this feels like a natural place for Mumble Tide, the youthful swagger of their music contrasting beautifully with the knowing cynicism of the lyrics, and taking Mumble Tide to somewhere that suggests Everything Ugly is a record not to be missed.
2. Ask Dunebug No Questions And They’ll Tell You No Lies
It was back in July last year that I last heard anything from Dunebug, the London-based project of Manchester-born songwriter Chi Limpiroj. That was around the release of her single Impossible With You, which shined beautifully, even if not as many people noticed as I had expected might have done. This week Chi has returned with a brand-new track, Lie To Me, shared alongside a gorgeous video made around the theme of a “French 80’s picnic”.
Discussing the track, Chi has suggested Lie To Me is about the dangers of a casual relationship, that becomes more serious with time and reaches a point where you’re, “afraid of expressing your feelings in fear of scaring the other person away”. Musically, the song is a dream-pop delight, the easy meandering guitar-line, accompanied by a metronomic tick of a drum-beat and the luxurious layers of vocal; which serve as a richly sweet, caramel in contrast to the lyrics, downbeat melancholy. There’s something magical in the music Dunebug make, a depth and a beauty that you just want to let wash over you and soothe your tired soul, and while I said it last time, this time I’m even more confident that in time the world is going to love Chi’s music just as much as I do.
Lie To Me is out now. For more information on Dunebug visit https://www.facebook.com/dunebuguk.
1. You’ll Never Be Lonely With Soot Sprite
Back in 2019 Exeter’s Soot Sprite burst onto the scene with their debut EP, Sharp Tongue, which was championed by the likes of Steve Lamacq and Gideon Coe, and was a record I liked so much I named it my EP of the year. This week alongside a string of tour dates (including a date I’m co-promoting with Scared To Dance at The Victoria), the band have announced details of a new EP, Poltergeists, out in October via Specialist Subject. Ahead of that release, the band have also shared the first single from it, Alone Not Lonely.
Poltergeists was written both up to and during the UK-wide lockdown and in Elise’s own words is about, “turbulent relationships and being able to accept myself, move on, and celebrate the accomplishments I’d made in my life regardless of others“. Alone Not Lonely finds its place in that narrative, sitting at a moment of subtle revelation as Elise recalls, “I realised that alone I was not only okay, but I was thriving, and it wasn’t down to anyone else except myself“. Although Soot Sprite started as the one-woman bedroom-pop project of lead singer Elise Cook, they’ve long outgrown their lo-fi roots, embracing the worlds of shoegaze and dreamy-indie, a shift they seem to have fully embraced on Alone Not Lonely. The track storms into life, the drums battered into submission, as layers of urgent guitars instantly set the tone. Amid all the musical chaos, Elise’s vocal still manages to command much of the attention, a beacon of calm in an ocean of noise, as she sings, “look at this life I’m living, everything good was not your giving”. The single ends with Elise repeating the song title, “alone but not lonely”, like a mantra to herself, a reminder to embrace her internal happiness and not let anyone else’s actions drag her down. With each new track, Soot Sprite continue to grow and evolve, on this evidence these are going to be some Poltergeists you’re not going to mind popping up in your kitchen.
Header photo is Soot Sprite.