Five Things We Liked This Week – 05/11/21

Further Listening:

5. Two Horses Plus Four Wives Add 2 Hospital Cops Equals A Really Good Song

Michael Latella first came to the world’s attention back in 2018 as the singer and guitarist in the acclaimed band, Hissing Tiles. Since then Michael has been working on the music that would become his solo project, Fourth Wife. The project is a classically solo endeavour, with Michael playing almost everything, as well as self-recording and mixing the tracks, that make up his debut record, Head Fell Between Two Horses. Ahead of the album’s release next week, Fourth Wife have this week shared their new single, Hospital Cop 2.

Hospital Cop 2 is a track that Michael suggests contains the most obvious flashes of his Elvis Costello obsession, which he attempts to obscure elsewhere on the record. The result is a track that’s between a strutting pop song and a squalid indie-rock anthem, bringing to mind the likes of Wolf Parade or the much-missed (by me at least) Juan De Fuca. The charm in Fourth Wife’s music is in its sense of dissonance, in the way that a melody appears from a wall of noise, in the way that it sends you careering around like a pinball in a world of sound, never stopping still long enough to ever be accused of repetition. This is music that challenges and surprises, you might initially feel like you’re on a prickly journey into the heart of purest noise, stick with it though, and the rewards are really rather wonderful.

Head Fell Between Two Horses is out November 12th via Culture Vacuum Recordings. For more information on Fourth Wife visit https://fourthwife.bandcamp.com/.

4. Get An Abundance of Savage Mansion In Your Life

The songwriting vehicle of Perth-raised musician Craig Angus, Savage Mansion are a band who are delightfully difficult to pigeon-hole. They came crashing into my eardrums back in 2019 with the Scottish-slacker-pop perfection of Revision Ballads, before adding a Country-glam sheen to the majestic 2020 offering, Weird Country. Now, for their next trick, the band will return in February with a new album, Golden Mountain, Here I Come, a record they’re suggesting will offer New-Wave thrills, with nods to everyone from The B52’s to Elvis Costello. Ahead of the album’s February release, this week the band have shared the record’s lead single, Life More Abundant.

The song was lyrically inspired by the sense of camaraderie that came about during the pandemic, “where people did – despite the circumstances – unite against bigger, stronger forces“. The track serves as a reminder to keep that spirit in mind moving forward to face whatever obstacles life throws your way. Featuring the saxophone talents of Stephen Black, aka Sweet Baboo, Life More Abundant is a noticeably more slinky direction for Savage Mansion, although, as Craig recalls, that wasn’t how it began, “it started out as a more thrash-y and outwardly punk number but over time the band arrangement gave it a different groove. That’s pretty symptomatic of how we tried to do things this time“. This combination of influences results in a sound that’s increasingly difficult to define, a band that are prepared to do things their own way. Let the guitars rush by like a run-away train, let the saxophone and synths shuffle in and out of the background and let Savage Mansion be a melting pot for all those wonderful ideas to collide in the most thrilling way imaginable: if they’re headed for the Golden Mountain, you’d be mad not to follow.

Golden Mountain, Here I Come is out February 25th via Lost Map. For more information on Savage Mansion visit https://www.lostmap.com/savage-mansion.

3. Hurray For The Riff Raff’s Return Is Blooming Marvelous

Born and raised in the Bronx, as a seventeen-year-old Alynda Segarra decided to head out and see the world, it turns out that was a very good idea indeed. After spells in New Orleans and Nashville, and releasing six albums along the way, it was on coming back to New York that something really clicked, with the 2016 release of the much-adored seventh Hurray For The Riff Raff record, The Navigator. It was my favourite record that year, and quite possibly my favourite of that entire decade. After spending the subsequent five years touring extensively, Alynda has this week announced a new record, Life On Earth, which will see the light of day in February via her new label home, Nonesuch Records. Recorded with acclaimed producer Brad Cook, Alynda promises the record will deliver eleven, “nature-punk” tracks, serving as a soundtrack for a world in flux. Ahead of the release, this week Hurray For The Riff Raff have shared the first offering from it, Rhododendron.

Inspired by the “rebellious” genus of plants, Rhododendron is a celebration of wonders of life on earth, as Alynda puts it, “being called by the natural world and seeing the life that surrounds you in a way you never have”. From that inspiration, Alynda seems to learn not just about nature but humanity as well, “being open to to the wisdom of your landscape…being called to fix things in your own backyard, your own community”. Discussing the influences on Life On Earth, Alynda cites everyone from The Clash to the author adrienne maree brown, and even on this one track, that melting pot of ideas seems noticeably present. The track opens with the sort of loose, chug of guitar that made Kevin Morby’s underrated City Lights such a joy, yet that easy strut is soon punctuated by the shifting-sands of Alynda’s vocal delivery, one moment digging into her lush country-folk roots, the next yelping with a punkish intensity. Lyrically too, the track seems to exist in a state of flux, one second begging for us to stick at it, “don’t turn your back on the mainland”, before, as the track slides to its stunningly melodic end, sounding like hope is escaping with every word, “everything I have is gone, and I don’t know what it’ll take to carry on”. Life on earth is fragile, yet it’s flexible, adaptable and given the chance more than willing to bounce back. Hurray For The Riff Raff are back, and whether that’s for the start of a revolution or to soundtrack the end of the world, well you’ll just have to wait and see.

Life On Earth is out February 18th via Nonesuch Records. For more information on Hurray For The Riff Raff visit https://www.hurrayfortheriffraff.com/

2. Rose Hotel Are Seeking Planning Permission For A New Expansion

It was back in 2019 that I first came across Rose Hotel, the solo project of musical “gun-for-hire” Jordan Reynolds, who alongside her own records, has also performed with the likes of Faye Webster and Neighbor Lady. That was around the release of Jordan’s excellent debut album, I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes. Aside from the fabulous, “cassingle”, Drive Alone, we haven’t heard much from Jordan in the subsequent two years, a wrong that was thankfully righted this week with the new Rose Hotel single, Expansion. The track is the first to be lifted from Jordan’s upcoming EP, The House That We Knew, due on an as yet to be confirmed date via Cold Lunch Recordings.

Expansion is a track that instantly lives up to its name, the musical scope of Rose Hotel stretching into entirely new territory, not least because of the sublime string arrangements from multi-instrumentalist Macie Stewart (who released her own excellent album recently via Orindal Recordings). While the strings add a certain grandiose quality to the music, they’re never overbearing, the adornments of violin and cello just creeping in amongst the prominent electric guitar and Jordan’s limelight grabbing vocal performance. Throughout the track, there’s a sense of gentle, almost unspoken darkness, cryptically stored in the thought-provoking lyricism, as Jordan sings “silence, isn’t just absence, silence is penance for doing you harm”. This feels like an exciting next chapter in the Rose Hotel story, the first glimpse into a musical landscape, where, like the superb trapeze artist in the accompanying video, genres dance together in pursuit of something greater than the sum of their parts.

The House That We Knew is out soon via Cold Lunch Recordings. For more information on Rose Hotel visit www.rosehotelmusic.com.

1. Crake Will Be With You In Two Shakes Of A Lamb’s Tail

Crake, the self-described, “contemplative alt-folk quartet”, from Leeds, have been one of my favourite bands on the UK scene for a few years now. The band garnered attention both after heading out on an EU tour with Big Thief, as well as sharing a 7″ single via the ever-excellent Saddle Creek label. This week the band have announced a new partnership with Fika Recordings, as well as sharing the first fruits of that relationship, in the shape of their new single, Lamb’s Tail.

Lamb’s Tail is a song that seems to exist in a place of questioning, as vocalist Rowan Sandle explains, “when I was a kid and I was worried or anxious, I would leave it to the fates to tell me the outcome of whatever issue I was currently stuck on. I would ask my question to the ether and make up some rule to reveal to me my answer“. It’s a thought that came back to Rowan recently as she dealt with altogether more grown-up problems, both the insecurity of growing older while wanting children yet not knowing when, and the difficult process of learning to deal with grief. Here those adult themes are contrasted with the joys of forgetting about those things, embracing the simplicity of childhood rituals or the joy of meeting a cat, that her bandmate swore he previously taught to play the drums. If thematically this is a song of doubt, there’s also something questioning about the music, from the fabulous percussion that seems to gently lurch, pushing with one hand and pulling back with the other, to the meandering guitars, that seem almost absent-minded, as if guided by the heart more than the head. At the centre of it all, as ever with Crake, is Rowan’s voice, an idiosyncratic calling card, her gently cracking voice delivering enigmatic imagery of nature and distraction, “it all dies, that ain’t nothing new, can we talk about pussy willow coming through? The cat who looks just like that kid you once knew, can we talk about anything to lighten up the mood?” As you get older it’s often tempting to wonder if you’ve already heard everything you’re going to love, to question whether there’s anything new or exciting out there left to discover. Then along comes a band like Crake and you realise just how naïve that thought truly is, you have to believe the best is always yet to come, you’ll only ever be proven wrong if you don’t.

Lamb’s Tail is out now via Fika Recordings. For more information on Crake visit https://crake.bandcamp.com/.

Header Photo is Crake by Ash Scott.

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