5. Party Of The Sun Are Here To Stay
It was only back at the start of September that Party Of The Sun released their second album, Fullest Hour, yet the New Hampshire outfit have wasted no time in getting back out there. The band have recently announced a new monthly release schedule, the first of which was October’s offering, World Is Wide. This week they were at it again with a brand new track, Come To Stay, out now via Trailing Twelve Records.
Following the release of Fullest Hour, the band made the decision to break out from the traditional album format, embracing the freedom and creativity of stand-alone releases, as songwriter Ethan McBrien puts it, “while continuity may emerge, it will not be our priority”. The freedom is evident listening to Come To Stay, from the psych-folk influenced guitar that welcomes you to the song, through to Ethan’s easy vocal, reminiscent of the tender tones of The Acorn’s Rolf-Carlos Klausener. There’s something poetic about Ethan’s words here, as he seeks to explore ideas of distance and the struggle for connection it breeds, each adventure described only ever concluding with a plea for the protagonist to, “come to stay”. By breaking out of their self-imposed cycle, Party Of The Sun might just have hit upon their most exciting moment yet.
4. Weekend Punks Hit The Road
Written and recorded between the slightly contrasting locations of the South Coast of England and Reykjavik, Backseat Driver is the debut single by Southampton-quartet, Weekend Punks, who describe their sound as surf-pop, “with relatively little experience of surf or sun”. As well as the band’s first single, Backseat Driver is also the first release on the brand new label, Old Cemetery Records.
Starting with a loose clatter of guitar chords, vocalist Rosie Blacher sets the song’s mood almost from the opening lyric, “you always said I was a backseat driver, I always thought that I was quiet and kind, ‘cause I’m in denial“. From there the rumbling drums and propulsive bass seem to drive the song forward, walking the line between the shimmer of dream-pop and the fuzzy warmth of lo-fi, bringing to mind everyone from Rilo Kiley to The Beths. Lyrically, the track seems to find a relationship clinging on in the face of insurmountable odds, something that Rosie’s desires for simple thrills cannot overcome, “if you’re gonna leave, I’d like you to let me know soon, I’ve got places to go, and I’ve got things to do”. These are the earliest of early days for Weekend Punks, yet already there’s something here, a spark that as a music fan you don’t come across too often, to paraphrase the excellent music writer Michael Azerrad, this band could be your life.
Backseat Driver is out now via Old Cemetery Records. For more information on Weekend Punks visit https://weekendpunks.bandcamp.com/.
3. I Just Can’t Let Dana Gavanski Go
2020 was a pretty amazing year for Serbian-Canadian songwriter Dana Gavanski, marking the release of both her fabulous debut album, Yesterday Is Gone and her acclaimed covers EP, Wind Songs. With the opportunity now presenting for some long overdue touring, starting with dates supporting Porridge Radio, this week Dana has celebrated by sharing a brand new single, Letting Go, the first taster of where her always intriguing music might be heading next.
Discussing the inspiration behind the track, Dana has spoken of Letting Go as a mantra, as she explains, “it’s a tad unconventional being that it’s not necessarily the kind of positive message we all associate with pop mantras. It’s more of an account of how the mind works to undermine us. It’s a subverted mantra“. Musically, there’s a subtle shift here, some of the more folk-influenced moments of Yesterday Is Gone, making way for an almost Bossa Nova drum rhythm and plaintive piano, creating a wonky-pop song that’s equal parts Cate Le Bon and Aldous Harding. If this is a sign of where Dana Gavanski’s music is headed next, then sign me up, her next record might just be a masterpiece.
2. Alyssa Gengos Puts A Scandinavian Slant On Things
It was back at the start of October, that I first came across the music of Los Angeles-based songwriter and producer Alyssa Gengos. That was around the release of her fantastic single, Mechanical Sweetness. As it turns out, that was the title track of Alyssa’s debut album, which she announced this week would be out in February next year via EggHunt Records. Ahead of the release, Alyssa has also this week shared her latest single, Gothenburg English.
The track was inspired by Alyssa’s six month “Scandinavian sojourn”, which followed Alyssa leaving a long-term partner behind in New York, “hoping the relationship would survive. It did not”. That revelation came when she was in Gothenburg and became enamoured with the local accent, “one of the most sing-songy in the Swedish language, and it’s audible when speaking English too“. The resultant track is a kind of road song, inspired by the Great American road novels, where troubles are taken out into the world, and often dimmed along the way. Musically, Gotheburg English walks the line between the raw crash of the 90’s alt-rock sound and more modern bedroom pop production, Alyssa’s stunning array of vocal melodies are accompanied by steady drum rhythms and the thrash of electric guitar. Alyssa has spoken of the near-complete solitude of writing Mechanical Sweetness, yet listening to it now, it feels like an album reaching out for connection, an open hand offered to the world to guide us into her magical musical world, I for one can’t wait to step inside.
1. Why Bonnie Are Putting Galveston On The Map
Why Bonnie are a band I’ve been following since back in 2018 when they released the brilliant duo of EPs, In Water & Nightgown. I obviously wasn’t the only one who noticed, as they caught the ear of Fat Possum, who at the start of 2020, released the band’s fantastic EP, Voice Box. With the bands heading out on a string of dates across the pond in the US, this week they’ve shared the first material since that EP, in the shape of their new single, named after the city in which vocalist Blair Howerton grew up, Galveston.
Blair described her home city as, “the capital of ghosts and good memories“, and openly admits the song is a “literal recollection of growing up in Southeast Texas…a snapshot of an old childhood haunt”. Citing influences from Sparklehorse to Sheryl Crow,
Galveston is an intriguing amalgam of memories and ideas, a song that one minute seems bright and joyous and the next slides into a fog of crashing drums and wistful melodies. Perhaps the songs most telling moments come when Blair speaks not of what she remembers, but of the things she’s gradually forgetting, “when I try to remember it I can’t, it’s slipping like quicksand. When I try to remember it I can’t, it’s slipping through my hand”. Muddled in with all Blair’s memories is a sense of what comes next, for all of us our home town, the place where we learnt who we are, always has a nostalgic pull, a desire one day to return to home soil, “it feels so clear, looking through the muddy water, that I’ll keep coming back here even when it’s all over”. If Galveston is a city that Blair will return to time and time again, it’s a song that makes a connection across an ocean, striking a chord with someone who’s never even been to Texas, let alone Galveston, with its universal spirit and sense of the highs and lows of home. Welcome back Why Bonnie, a very special band sounding better than ever.
Header photo is Why Bonnie by Grace Pendleton.