5. Squirrel Flower Doesn’t Worry About A Red Sky In The Morning
Back in the Summer, Squirrel Flower, the moniker of Ella Williams, released one of the year’s finest albums in the shape of her second record, Planet (i), “a love letter to disaster in every form imaginable”. With some long-overdue tour dates set for next Spring, this week Ella has announced a brand new EP, Planet, a compilation of self-recorded demos, some of which came from the Planet (i) sessions. Ahead of the record’s January release, this week Squirrel Flower has shared both a cover of Bjork’s song unravel, and even more excitingly a brand-new track, Ruby at Dawn.
Discussing the thinking behind sharing Planet, Ella explains it was an attempt to let people into the process, “I’ve always felt that the pieces and process and secrets behind a finished record are the most important parts“. On Ruby At Dawn, we’re treated to the bare bones, a meandering Casio-like keyboard creates an atmosphere between intimate and reverential, as layers of Ella’s soaring vocals seem to drift skyward, as she paints a picture of days gone by, pitched somewhere between rose-tinted nostalgia and a longing for what once was. In a way this glimpse at where it all begins is a reminder a song is never finished, never dead, always evolving in the hand of the artist and the ear of the listener, as Ella puts it, “not all songs need to be precious and kept for the exact right time, not all recordings need to be perfect“. Revel in the sunrise of a song being born, perfect in its imperfections and every bit as beautiful as any polished, “final” version, whenever Ella Williams sings, you’d be a fool not to listen.
4. You Might Never Get Over Deanna Petcoff
Although something of a feature on this site since back in the Spring of 2018 when she self-released her excellent single, Terribly True, Deanna Petcoff has never quite had her breakout moment. Thankfully that looks like it might soon be changing with the news this week that she has signed to Royal Mountain Records. Celebrating the news the Toronto-based songwriter has also shared a brand new single, I Don’t Wanna Get Over You.
While not a cover version, I Don’t Wanna Get Over You does nonetheless nod to the Magnetic Fields track of the same name, as Deanna recalls how she, “really valued how honest and brutal their writing can be” . The track came about during lockdown, as an attempt, “to stay connected” with collaborator Jacob Switzer, the pair turning Deanna’s initial idea into a, “sad Strokes-y tune”. The resultant track does certainly nod to the New Yorkers, in particular the delightful, if very brief, guitar solo, yet is far from a pastiche. To the fore throughout is Deanna’s vocal, reminiscent of Basia Bulat in both its swooping melodies and straight-shooting lovelorn lyricism, “I wonder how you got me to fall so deeply in love with you, I guess I’m just a sucker, for a boy who’s nice to his mother”. The sound of moving on, whether you want to or not, I Don’t Wanna Get Over You, is a fresh start for Deanna Petcoff, the first step on a journey that already looks like it could take Deanna just as far as her imagination allows.
3. Is Anyone Else Sick Of All These Arty Ghosts?
Artsick formed back in the Summer of 2018, when former Burnt Palms member, Christina Riley, was feeling creatively lost, writing songs but missing the inspiration of being around other musicians. Along the way Christina found fellow musicians and creatives experiencing the same artsickness, and a band was born. After impressing with their well-received debut 7″, Artsick caught the ear of Slumberland Records, and in January the label will put out their debut album, Fingers Crossed. Ahead of the release, this week the band shared the latest track from the album, Ghost of Myself.
Listening to Artsick it’s easy to spot some delicious retro references, from the lowest-fi fringes of the C86-scene through to the jangling joys of Postcard Records, yet thankfully they steer well clear of any of the more cliched edges of that world. Ghost Of Myself slides in on a slapped drum rhythm, before the runaway train of a lead-guitar arrives, heralding a track that always feels just on the edge of collapsing, without ever quite getting there. Despite the brightness of the music, there’s a lyrical depth here, mining similar territory to Colleen Green or Frankie Cosmos, as Christina negotiates the murky waters of self-doubt, “scared of the possibilities, things I feel but cannot see, I don’t feel at home in my own body, just a ghost of who I used to be”. Yet despite the struggle, she refuses to go down with the ship, finding belief despite the darkness, “I close my eyes and count to ten, I’ll get better someday again, I’ll feel better someday”. If Artsick were born out of a creative malaise, then you can’t hear it here, this sounds like a band in love with their craft, obsessively mining the great and good of indie-past and making it entirely their own. If you love fuzzy guitars, unforgettable melodies and twitching urgency then you might just have found your new band, and if you don’t, well what are you even doing here?
2. I’ve Got A Fine Feeling About Reptaliens
Based out of Portland, Oregon, Reptaliens started in the mid 2010s as a project for Cole and Bambi Browning to explore, “their most adventurous urges”. After releasing two acclaimed albums of high-concept synth-pop via the Captured Tracks label, the band made the decision to strip things back to the bare bones and call a complete reset on the project. The result of this change of approach is the band’s upcoming, home-recorded third album, Multiverse, which they previewed this week via a brand new track, I Feel Fine.
Discussing I Feel Fine, the band describe it as possessing, “a sweetness, but also a feeling of restlessness“, it seems to hark back to the feeling of teenager living, “the agitation, repression, and sweetness of that age“. Musically, the track brings to mind the likes Hazel English or Fazerdaze with its hazy dream-pop sound, built around the shuffling drum rhythms and the wobbling twang of the lead-guitar. Lyrically the track seems to match the music’s dream-like status, one second feeling almost hallucinatory, “as we melt into the couch”, before crashing to the ground with the everyday anxieties of lockdown living, “I think I’ve lost my mind, spending all this time inside, now my bodies gone to shit, but I feel fine”. After a musical career spent walking the surreal and conceptual, here Reptaliens are digging down to the bare bones of the songwriting, throwing open the doors to a world of possibilities that might just be their most exciting work to date.
1. Whatever You Want There’s A Pill For That
Lady Pills is the project of Boston-based songwriter Ella Boissonnaul. Sharing her music with the world since back in 2015, in Ella’s own words she, “spent the first half of her 20s figuring out that soft is strong and honesty isn’t rude, and now she’s ready to share that revelation with the world”. Ella’s proclamation will arrive next February in the guise of her new album, What I Want, which is set for release via Plastic Miracles, the label started and run by Elise Okusami from Oceanator. Ahead of the release, this week saw the release of the latest Lady Pills single, My Weight.
What I Want was written over a number of months last year, and is a record Ella describes as, “a collection of endings”, but one that exists not in that place of grief, but instead focuses on what she learnt, shared with the world in the hope it can inspire others to celebrate their own confidence. The record aims to be loud and straight-talking, and that’s certainly evident in My Weight. The track opens with an insistent guitar-line and the steady pound of a snare drum, before Ella enters with a Liz Phair-like yelp, “I know what I am worth I know what makes me hurt”. From there the track saunters, led by the lithe and varied guitar playing, as Ella seems to try and persuade someone into her waiting arms, “I think I want this with you, how can I get you closer? I’ll do it right forever, oh I think you want the same too”. There’s a delightful boldness to both the songwriting and the delivery here, it feels like an artist casting off their doubts and leaping in headfirst, and frankly, music doesn’t get much more exciting than that.
Header photo is Lady Pills c/o the artist.