Five Things We Liked This Week – 19/11/21

Further Listening:

5. There’s So Much To Learn From Alexia Avina

Releasing her music into the world since back in 2014, New York-based songwriter Alexia Avina came to the attention of a much wider audience with the 2020 release of her superb album, Unearth. The acclaimed record was made in Montreal with the help of a stellar cast of friends and collaborators, before being jointly released by Topshelf Records and Lost Map. Just over a year on from Unearth’s release, this week Alexia has returned with a new stand-alone single, How Can I Learn.

Alexia has spoken of How Can I Learn as a song about, “how trauma compounds trauma”, reflecting on the process of rebuilding yourself that comes with a positive relationship, only to find, “when that relationship ended and I ventured back out into the world armed with this newfound sense of strength and agency, I came right back into contact with the same tropes whereby women feel pressured into accommodating discomfort, even in small ways”. Musically, Alexia speaks of the track as an example of, “ethereal rage”, stitching the influences of dream-pop and alt-folk into a tapestry of driving guitars, distortion and Alexia’s gorgeously, soaring vocal, coming across like the middle ground of Cross Record and Mitski. Perhaps the most gut-wrenching moment of the track comes towards its end, as Alexia sings, “I’m better than this but I’m battered, embarrassed by something I missed in the moment”, sounding almost resigned to a life of being let down. This is a striking return, Alexia reaching into her darkest moments and sharing them with us, it might not be an easy listen, yet it feels just as important as it is utterly compelling.

How Can I Learn is out now via Lost Map Records. For more information on Alexia Avina visit https://alexiaavina.bandcamp.com/.

4. Kindsight Are The Band That Never Grew Up

Based out of Copenhagen, Kindsight have been a regular feature on this site over the last few years, with a series of fabulous singles for the Swedish label, Rama Lama Records. The world last heard from the band back in January around the release of their single, How I Feel, which drew a smattering of acclaim from across the music blogging community. Nine months on, the band returned this week with their latest offering, Don’t You Grow Up.

Don’t You Grow Up was the first song that Kindsight ever wrote together, shortly after front-woman Nina Hyldgaard Rasmussen and guitarist Søren Svensson bonded over a shared love of The Sugarcubes. In the band’s own words, the song came from, “a time when we thought to be a sunny teenage rock band, you had to write songs about teenagers in the sun”. The result is a coming-of-age anthem, resplendent with glistening indie-pop guitars and Nina’s ever-fabulous vocal, pitched somewhere between the nonchalant delivery of Alvvays’ Molly Rankin and the soaring, wonder of The Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler. Kindsight feel almost like the perfect kindling, all the talent is there just waiting for the spark of opportunity to set their musical ambition ablaze.

Don’t You Grow Up is out now via Rama Lama Records. For more information on Kindsight visit https://kindsightkindsight.bandcamp.com/.

3. Veronica Everheart’s New Single Is History In The Making

Based out of Phoenix, Arizona, the world last heard from Veronica Everheart back in July when she released the well-received single, Sour. The track was the first since Veronica’s 2019 debut album, Thank You, I Love You, and hinted at the exciting direction her music was headed in next. This week came further reasons to be excited, in the shape of Veronica’s latest single, Antiquity.

Discussing the inspiration behind the track, Veronica has suggested Antiquity is, “about someone who was just there, like lukewarm coffee still in the pot, an unmade bed, the seat of the sofa sunken in”. The song reflects on a relationship that has long gone past its best, and the helplessness that comes with letting that go, “I ask myself what that will be like now when it isn’t a breakup? When it isn’t toxic? This person is still here but just not close”. Musically, Antiquity is a world away from the angular clatter of Sour, here there’s an all-together more hazy quality, the swirling layers of guitar and prominent rhythmic synth creating a tornado of sound with Veronica’s passionate vocal yelps at the eye of the storm. As the song progresses the lyrics seem to shift, initially there’s confusion and insecurity, yet as it draws to a close, clarity of thought appears, “I want to be the person to fix everything, but I can’t, that’s not me…though I wish it was”. While Antiquity does bring to mind other artists, from the raw emotions of Los Campesinos to the urgent spoken word of Life Without Buildings, ultimately it feels fresh, an artist letting us into her universe and allowing us to be a part of her making sense of the world. Veronica Everheart speaks to us all in a way so few artists are capable of doing, and for me, music doesn’t get much more exciting than that.

Antiquity is out now. For more information on Veronica Everheart visit https://www.veronicaeverheart.com/.

2. Don’t Be Silly Listen To Horsegirl’s Billy

A teenage trio based out of Chicago, Horsegirl have been making quite the splash in recent months. Having only formed back in 2019, the band’s single, Ballroom Dance Scene, caught the ear of everyone from 6Music to Pitchfork, following its release back in April via Sonic Cathedral. Freshly signed to Matador Records, this week the band have shared the video for their latest single, Billy, which will be released on vinyl next March.

Billy was written last year when the three members of Horsegirl decided to haul up in band member Penelope Lowenstein’s basement for an intensive writing period. Although you might not guess from listening to it, the track initially took inspiration from Nick Drake, his love of alternate tunings inspiring Penelope to detune her guitar, and then, taking influence from the New Zealand underground scene of the 80s and 90s, particularly the Flying Nun label, “with scrappiness in mind”, the song fell into place. The track beings with a thrash of Sonic Youth-like distorted guitars, before the steady clatter of drums adds a delightful propulsion, and Nora Cheng’s sing-speak vocals arrive to add a fictional tale of the titular Billy. As the song works its way towards a close, it seems to descend into a blast of unadulterated noise, a howling sonic wail reminiscent of contemporaries Wednesday or Squirrel Flower. How exactly three musicians from Chicago who are only just getting started can take Nick Drake and Flying Nun as influences and stitch them into something this fresh, this exciting and this thoroughly their own, well that’s surely the stuff of straight-up genius? Keep your ears peeled for Horsegirl, this band might just be at the start of something rather magical.

The Billy 7″ will be out March 11th via Matador Records. For more information on Horsegirl visit https://thisishorsegirl.bandcamp.com/.

1. Sun June Are Just Taking It Easy

2021 has been something of a break-out year for the Austin, Texas quintet, Sun June. Back in February they teamed up with Keeled Scales and Run For Cover, for the release of their latest album, Somewhere. With a hectic touring schedule on both sides of the Atlantic, including UK dates with Ada Lea, this week the band have announced details of an expanded edition of the record, Somewhere + 3, fittingly including three new tracks. Ahead of the record’s release in January, the band have also shared the first of those tracks with the world, in the shape of their new single, Easy.

Discussing Easy, Sun June suggest it is, “a romantic struggle song”, as vocalist Laura Colwell goes on to explain, “it’s about love and partnership and longstanding arguments that are hard to get past“. The song came about in the particularly difficult period at the end of lockdown, when so many people took a long look at their lives and relationships, although as the band recall, “it was joyous and cathartic to play together again, so the song came out upbeat and optimistic too“. Musically, it feels like a natural progression for Sun June, tapping into their dreamy harmonies and instrumental minimalism, as the gorgeous rolling bass-line, and entwined vocals carry much of the melody, alongside the rhythmic guitars and swaying drums. Lyrically, the track is presented as a series of idealised snapshots, memories of the past jarring contrastingly with the reality of the here and now, “under a pale moon we were the only sound, say you’re ready but you’re never somehow, swear I would let you down by now”. A timely reminder of just how far Sun June have already come, and arguably more exciting, just how far they still have to go, this is already a very special band, and it feels like they’re only just getting started.

Somewhere + 3 is out January 14th via Run For Cover Records. For more information on Sun June visit https://sunjunemusic.com/.

Header photo is Sun June by Santiago Dietche.

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