Five Things We Liked This Week – 01/04/22

Further Listening:

5. Lady Lamb’s Dining Out At The Ivy

The world last heard from Lady Lamb, the musical moniker of Brooklyn’s Aly Spaltro, back in 2019 around the release of her well-received album, Even In The Tremor. With a string of US tour dates starting at the end of April, this week Lady Lamb had teamed up with the Ba Da Bing label to share her brand new single, Ivy.

Described by Aly as, “a universal song about regret and the wisdom that comes from reflection”, Ivy is a song unafraid of evolution, moving rapidly from gentle acoustic thoughtfulness to powerful waves of crashing electric guitars, and spacy explorative synth lines. Throughout Ivy is a track of what-might-have-been, reflections on the opportunities you miss because you’re not even looking for them, “I understand you now that it’s too late, how all the lights were on you, but you were playing to me”. This sounds like a songwriter in an exciting place, rich with ambition and creativity, and ready for a return that’s going to be well worth keeping an ear on.

Ivy is out now via Ba Da Bing Records. For more information on Lady Lamb visit http://www.ladylambjams.com/.

4. Graze Upon Iona Zajac’s New Single

A musician and poet, Iona Zajac grew up in Edinburgh and from a young age was singing and playing Scotland’s oldest national instrument, the Clarasach Harp. Iona made her musical name fronting the folk-blues trio Avocet, before pursuing her own solo music and releasing the poetry compilation, The Sale I have Produced. Iona subsequently moved to a flat in Glasgow, where she recorded her debut solo single, Find Her in the Grass, which she shared with the world earlier this week as only the second artist on the Post Electric Artists label.

Find Her in the Grass is a track inspired by Iona gazing out her window, there she saw a mother and daughter working in a garden together, the pair absorbed in their work, the scene silent bar the birds and the sound of rustling leaves. Despite only relatively recently teaching herself to play the guitar, the instrument is to the fore here as fluttering, finger-picked tones accompany Iona’s poised, reverberating vocal, which is reminiscent of acts like Vera Sola or Haley Heynderickx. Lyrically, it’s an exercise in picture painting, from the Marigolds bursting through the mud, until she flips the view to that of the girl in the garden, replacing the togetherness with solitude, as she stares up at Iona, “you will wonder why she sits alone”. It’s a stunning debut single, a song of maturity and grace, beautiful melodies and thoughtful, intricate words, both a promising future and a wonderful present.

Find Her in the Grass is out now via Post Electric Artists. For more information on Iona Zajac visit https://twitter.com/ionazajac.

3. Don’t Give The Stroppies The Elbow

Quickly establishing its place as the home of jangling pop perfection, Melbourne has been producing a string of fantastic bands in recent years, not least The Stroppies who appeared back in 2019 with their excellent debut album Whoosh! Two years and two albums later the band have made something of a splash and are about to head out on a UK tour, including somewhat surprisingly dates supporting Paul Weller. With their latest album, Levity due out in May, this week the band have shared the latest track to be lifted from it, Up To My Elbows.

The band have spoken of Levity as a record that utilises “a darker pallet of sounds” in comparison to the more retro-pop tones of their previous releases, although perhaps Up To My Elbows isn’t the finest example of that. Here they seem to lean into their garage-rock sounds, recalling the likes of The Goon Sax or Holiday Ghosts as they set bright guitars alongside driving drum rhythms and twin sing-speak vocals. Described by the band as, “an anxious song masquerading as upbeat”, mirrored in both the repeated lyrical refrain, “what are you implying?” and the guitars that seem to nod to the masterstroke of the upbeat/downbeat dichotomy that is The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry. Breathing fresh life into an old sound is never an easy trick, yet The Stroppies seem to do it with aplomb, this already very special band sound better than ever.

Levity is out May 6th via Tough Love Records. For more information on The Stroppies visit https://thestroppies.bandcamp.com/.

2. Some People Are Definitely Going To Like GHUM

Back in 2019, GHUM were very much the name on everybody’s lips. That was the year they released their brilliant EP, The Coldest Fire, which saw the London quartet receive regular plays on 6Music, tour across the UK and Europe and support the likes of Dream Wife and L.A. Witch. The last thing an up-and-coming band needs is two years of enforced silence, yet like many others than was GHUM’s fate. Thankfully that all began to change this week with the release of their new single, Some People, the first track to be lifted from their upcoming debut album, Bitter, which will see the light of day this summer on Everything Sucks Music.

Listening to Some People, it almost feels like GHUM opening the pressure valve on two years of creative frustration, the song races out of the traps, a blistering assault of clattering snare and buzzsaw guitars, it snarls and roars like a caged predator set free. Discussing the track, vocalist Laura Guerrero Lora has suggested it’s a song about, “not trusting oneself to be able to love someone after not falling in love for a long time”. The theme is reflected in the lyrics as Laura sings, “I hate this new wave of calmness, where is my invigorous pain?” Music isn’t always a fair game, yet GHUM sound ready to pick up where they left off, on the cusp of something really quite magical.

Bitter is out June 17th via Everything Sucks Music. For more information on GHUM visit https://linktr.ee/ghum.

1. Angel Olsen Is Having A Really Good Time

While many big musical names have held back recordings over the last few years, Angel Olsen seems to have done the opposite, back in 2020 there was Whole New Mess, a stripped-bare reimagining of the acclaimed 2019 album, All Mirrors, while last year saw the vast compilations Songs of the Lark and Other Far Memories, as well as the slightly confusing but definitely charming 1980’s covers album, Aisles. This week came the news we’ve all been waiting for, as Angel shared details of her upcoming fifth studio album, Big Time. Alongside the news came the release of the album’s first single, All The Good Times.

Discussing Big Time, Angel has suggested much of it is about the expansive power of new love and was written during a period when she was coming out as queer, and having her first experience of queer love and heartbreak, all at the same time as losing both of her parents in quick succession. The record’s opening track, All The Good Times is at the reflective end of the album’s spectrum, looking back on a past relationship with a certain cutting edge, “I won’t be the one to keep holding you back, if there’s somethin’ you’re missin’ then go right ahead, I’ll be long gone, thanks for the songs”. If thematically it’s looking backwards, then musically its a step in a new direction, working with co-producer Jonathan Wilson, Angel leans into newly expressed influences, with a sound that seems to hark back to the Laurel Canyon sound of the 1970s, as the warm hum of organ is adorned with layered country-licked vocal, slide-guitar and the muted tick of the understated drum rhythms. As the song builds, so does the musical ambition with a rich array of horns that come blasting in, matching the intensity of Angel’s words, before remaining in place to take the song gently to a close. With a slew of tour dates announced alongside the album, 2022 might just be another great year for Angel Olsen and frankly, every year spent with new Angel Olsen music is a year well spent.

Big Time is out June 3rd via Jagjaguwar. For more information on Angel Olsen visit https://angelolsen.com/.

Header photo is Angel Olsen by Angela Ricciardi – https://www.angelaricciardi.com/

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