5. Sprints Are Doing A Bang-Up Job
A quartet based out of Dublin, Sprints are a band that are getting so much attention right now that they seem to be pretty much destined for every one-to-watch-in-2022 list going. This week the band have confirmed details of a new EP, A Modern Job, out in March via Nice Swan Records as well as sharing the record’s frenetic title track.
Described by the band as, “a critique of modern existence”, A Modern Job is a suitably biting affair, reflecting on what it is to grow up as a young Queer person, “bombarded with media, books, news that depict what a “normal” life should be. Grow up, fall in love, get married… long live the nuclear family“. This musing is set to a wall of cascading guitars, drums that hit like lightning strikes and atop it all Karla Chubb’s ragingly poetic lyricism, sounding like the middle ground of Sinead O’Brien and Be Your Own Pet. Throughout the track, Karla throws out a series of desires, that despite their seemingly mundane aims seem to her to be just out of reach, “I want a modern job, a modern life, with modern money and a modern wife”. Unflinching, raw and thoroughly thrilling, you’re going to be hearing an awful lot more from Sprints in the coming months, whether you like it or not!
4. Death Looks Very Good On Tōth
2021 has already been a break-out year for Tōth, the recording project of Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Alex Toth, with the release of his frankly brilliant second album, You And Me And Everything. Previously known for his work with the likes of Kimbra, Rubblebucket and Cuddle Magic, to name but a few, Alex has this week announced a brand-new EP, Death. Although recorded between 2019 and 2020 in the same sessions as You And Me And Everything, Death exists in a different musical and thematic place. The EP is a reflection on a family member dying of alcoholism, a disease that Alex himself is in recovery from, and the deep connection he felt spending time with them in the last years of their life. Ahead of the release, this week Tōth has shared the first single from it, Muerto.
Death’s opening track, Muerto is the perfect scene-setter. Flicking between Spanish and English, the track finds Tōth singing from the perspective of a “bodiless entity”, who is, “making an appeal from the afterlife to someone who is alive, but unwell, encouraging them to not give up on this gift of life“. While the song certainly confronts a potentially heavy subject, it is delivered with a certain joyous flourish, starting life with the sombre-lilt of the Devendra Banhart-like guitar, before becoming a joyous celebration, resplendent with Mariachi trumpets, wavering electric guitars and complex Latin rhythms. It’s a brilliantly bonkers ending, as Alex himself puts it, “an absurdity comes through, and that’s intentional because life is absurd”. As good as Tōth’s take on death is sounding, it’s a record that knows to revel in the ridiculousness of life and living, after all, you never know when it might be too late.
3. Not Even Cate Le Bon Can Run Away From Pompeii
The world was pretty different back in 2019 when we all last heard from Cate Le Bon, that was around the release of her Mercury Prize-nominated sixth album, Reward. As Cate set to creating the follow-up, she found herself in an, “uninterrupted vacuum”, writing primarily on bass guitar before recording with long-term collaborator Samur Khouja in Cardiff. The result is Cate’s upcoming album, Pompeii, due out in February next year via Mexican Summer. This week Cate shared the first taste of the record in the shape of her new single Running Away.
Like so many of us, 2020 left Cate confronting what she describes as, “a quagmire of unease”, trying to make sense of the fact that in the time of Covid and pending ecological disaster, “the world is on fire, but the bins must go out on a Tuesday night”. Running Away is a fine introduction, the music initially enters unstructured, like a jigsaw puzzle dropped from the box, yet as the song progresses it begins to fall into place, a portrait of a fading closeness appears, like a hand reaching out with nothing to grab, “the direction of love, with nowhere left to go, just running away”. Cate has spoken of approaching Pompeii wondering how to make, “music that sounds like a painting”, and in a way this feels like it, sounds are sculpted, meaning are hidden beneath layers of finery, emotions redefined as instruments, drifting in and out of focus. It’s impressive that even six albums in, Cate Le Bon has never once repeated herself, each re-imagining feels like a different vintage, from this initial taste the 2021 crop might just be her finest year so far.
2. La Loye’s Summer Was Nothing To White Home About
Based out of Amsterdam, La Loye is the indie-folk project based around the songwriting of Lieke Heusinkveld. While her debut EP isn’t even out until next month, the Dutch songwriter has already caught the ear of an impressive number of online tastemakers, gaining a reputation as one of the fastest rising talents around. Ahead of the EPs release next month, this week Lieke has shared the latest taste of it in the shape of her new track, White Summer.
While the Winter often gets a bad rap, for La Loye it’s Summer that seems to bring her down, and it’s that feeling that inspired White Summer. As she explains, “I can often feel very gloomy and melancholic during this particular time of the year and it always seems to create a distance between me and the rest of the world”. Lieke speaks of the “layer of thick white mist”, which makes forming any sort of connection difficult. Musically, there’s a deliciously slow-build to White Summer, the guitars swelling from nothing, as first vocals, then layers of luxurious, hazy electronics propel the song forward. The track seems to almost mirror the mist, the initial clarity of thought lost to an ever denser fog of disconnection, before suddenly in the song’s closing connection, Lieke seems to claw her way through, her vocals rising to meet the engulfing music and demanding to be heard. It’s a truly fascinating introduction to the music of La Loye, with its haunting intricacies and dream-like scenes, there’s no limit to how far her talent could take her.
La Loye’s debut EP is out November 11th. For more information on La Loye visit https://www.laloye.com/.
1. Erin Rae’s A Very Modern Woman
One of the stand out stars of the modern Nashville scene, it has been three years since Erin Rae announced her musical arrival to the world with her critically lauded debut album, Putting On Airs. Since its release Erin has spent much of her time on the road, performing a high-profile slot at the renowned Newport Folk Festival, as well as sharing stages with the likes of Iron & Wine, Jenny Lewis and Father John Misty. In the rare moments of downtime in a life on the road, Erin also set about carving out the space to write a new album, all achieved while she was adapting to a new life, one that was unexpected coming from Putting On Airs’ DIY-roots. This week Erin has confirmed details of her second album, Lighten Up, which was produced with Jonathan Wilson, and will arrive in February next year on the Thirty Tigers label. Alongside that exciting news, Erin also shared a brand new single, Modern Woman.
Approaching writing Lighten Up, Erin has spoken of the shift in philosophy that inspired it, “my last record was a lot of self-assessment and criticism…this one is about blossoming, opening up, and living a little more in the present moment. Fully experiencing what it is to be human”. As a first introduction to the record, Modern Woman is a striking one, a cutting take on gender stereotypes delivered on a backing of sprightly drums, bouncing bass, luxurious slideguitar and Erin’s always jaw-dropping country-tinged vocals. Discussing the thought behind the track, Erin suggests it, “is basically a speech to a figurative person who is uncomfortable with the disintegration of a tired definition of what it means to be a woman”. For Erin Rae this album feels like a reclamation, de-weaponising the term Lighten Up and celebrating the joys of doing that on your own terms: cheer up Erin, with music this good, success is surely going to happen.
Header photo is Erin Rae by Bridgette Aikens.