5. Market Play All The Old Hits
A quintet based out of Brooklyn, Market appeared on these pages back in March when they premiered the excellent single, Bag Of Jeans. The track was lifted from the band’s upcoming album, The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong, the band’s first for their new label, Western Vinyl. Ahead of the record’s release at the end of this month, the band this week shared the latest track from the record, Old.
Described by bandleader Nate Mendelsohn as, “a short, dark, funny song about time passing”, Old is a further example of his ability to find humour in traditionally bleak subjects. As Nate further explains, “time slips away and we feel unseen in the present, regretful of the past, anxious for the future. All we can do is make country rock with our friends”. Musically the track is a rapid-fire blast, clocking in at under two minutes with its clattering drums and rumbling bass. Atop it all Nate’s lyrics are a delight, reflecting on the way emotions that seemed so hot at the moment often fade with time, even if we’re still reminded of them on a regular basis, “I’m still singing sad songs, but the songs no longer hurt”. It might have started life as a joke, but as Nate notes, “it quickly became my favourite. The joke songs always do”. You might not know whether to laugh or cry, but spend some time with Market and you’re sure to feel something real.
4. Jo Schornikow Plasters Over The Cracks
Well travelled Australian songwriter Jo Schornikow wound her way from her native Melbourne, via New York to her current home of Nashville, Tennessee. Known both for her solo material, and for her piano playing in her partner Matthew Houck’s project Phosphorescent, Jo is set to release her third album Altar next month, and this week shared the latest single from it Plaster.
Fittingly, if painfully, Plaster was written after Jo broke both her wrists, although the song has little to do with the experience, instead the song focuses on themes of, “the idea of magic in plain sight, and the dual giddiness and loneliness of moving to the other side of the world”. Atop a backing of languid guitars and rolling drums, Jo sets the song’s stall out early as she sings, “violent is yr method, I choose romance as my weapon”. Throughout the song, she comes back to themes of love and criminality, casting herself in the witness box at a trial that is as much about her own enduring optimism as it is the misdeeds she has experienced. The accompanying video finds Jo at the album’s titular Altar, standing at a Church Organ festooned with images and artefacts of the journey that led her to the person she is, a touring musician, a devoted mother of two children, and a solo superstar deserving of all the acclaim that’s bound to come her way.
3. Anne Malin’s New Single Just Destroys Me
Both a poet and songwriter, Nashville’s Anne Malin was influenced by both in the creation of her latest album, Summer Angel. The album was written in response to Alfred Starr Hamilton’s poem of the same name as well as Marianne Faithful’s rendition of Dear God Please Help Me. Recorded with a stellar cast of backing musicians and the help of producer Andrija Tokic, Anne Malin has spoken of Summer Angel as her most ambitious record to date. Ahead of the album’s release in June, Anne Malin recently shared the video that accompanies the record’s first single, Destroyer.
Destroyer enters stripped bare, just Anne Malin and a barely-there guitar, it shines a light instantly on her remarkable vocal, equal parts Grace Slick and Angel Olsen, it has a remarkable blend of volume and detail, at times she seems to almost be screaming out the words without losing an ounce of control. From the gentle opening, the track gradually builds as first a distant whirl of organ and then a flourish of booming drums enter, taking it from an introspective folk song into something grand and expansive. As the song grows, so too does the emotion in Anne Malin’s words, the song seems to almost inflate her soul as she reflects simultaneously on love and hurt, there’s almost an audible glint in her eye as she sings, “if you came to destroy, you’ve already failed”. This music might be bruised, yet it never sounds broken, through the pain there’s still a flicker of hope, a sense that for Anne Malin the best is very much still to come.
2. Friendship Aren’t Afraid To Get Ugly
Friendship have been one of America’s most consistently intriguing bands since they emerged back in 2015 with their cult classic of a debut, You’re Going To Have To Trust Me. After two albums on the ever-brilliant Orindal Records, the Philadelphia-based band have this week announced they’re joining the Merge Records family, with a new album due out later this year. Alongside the news, the band shared a brand new single, Ugly Little Victory.
Friendship are a band who’ve earned a reputation for their relentless touring across America, and Ugly Little Victory is a song they’ve been road testing for many years, while never previously putting it to record. Musically, the track is a beautiful showcase of Friendship’s ability to surprise, take the intro, a twang of acoustic guitar seems to be taking us down a Bright Eyes-like cul-de-sac, then suddenly the drums arrive, the whole thing lifts in intensity, and an urgent twitching indie-folk song emerges. Lyrically too, it’s a song that twists on a sixpence, the comfortable domestic scene of the opening, “music playing low, and you on your phone, loading up a recipe”, gives way to the nagging doubt at the back of vocalist Dan Wriggins’ mind, “my brain is doing laps, setting the usual traps, so I went outside to check out the sky”. Ultimately this is not a song of conclusion, instead, it is one of questions, Dan seems to be almost a study in introversion, the ongoing battle between longing for time alone and for someone to be there when you don’t, “I need solitude and I also need you, it sucks when it ends, and it sucks when it has no end, what an irritating mystery”. Friendship are the sort of band that every music fan is rooting for, the little guys on the brink of something special, they’ve served their time on the road, scraped by when others would have packed their guitars into the loft and called it quits. Now let the good times roll, this well-kept secret are about to become the name on everyone’s lips.
1. Even Alligators Get Sea Sick Sometimes
A singer-songwriter originally from Virginia, Naomi Alligator has been reaching a growing audience over the last few years with a string of DIY releases showcasing her significant songwriting chops. In Autumn of last year, five years after sharing her music online for the first time, Naomi marked her signing to Carpark records with the release of the acclaimed EP, Concession Stand Girl. This week, Naomi detailed the release of her first album for the label, Double Knot, which will arrive in July, and was preceded by the first track from the record, Seasick.
Discussing the inspiration behind Double Knot, Naomi has suggested it’s a record that comes from being, “fed up”. The record, which started life when she was living in Philadelphia at the height of the pandemic, charts the end of a relationship that has already run its course, and the sense of wanting to get her life back up and running. Seasick is a jumping-off point for the record as a whole, and Naomi’s personal reinvention, as we find her casting off old baggage, “I don’t know what’s happened to me, it’s like I turned 16, Its like I grew to be six feet tall”. As the song progresses though, the malaise starts to pull her in, “we drink like we aren’t getting old”, she reflects with the resignation of someone who knows that sometimes love isn’t even enough to pull you through. Musically, Naomi sets the ebbing emotions to a soundtrack of perfectly simple, fluttering acoustic guitars, reminiscent of early Laura Marling or anti-folk hero Kimya Dawson. The song’s great lift comes courtesy of the beautifully judged backing vocals, despite being just a few tracks sitting distinctly behind Naomi’s lead they somehow cause the whole song to swell, like a cacophonous bedroom choir, at once huge and strangely intimate. Double Knot is an album written at a time of moving on, a record of finding your voice and packing your things, Naomi didn’t just sing it she lived it, moving to California and embracing the sunshine, as she shares the story of how she got there we should probably all take notes.
Header photo is Naomi Alligator by Matthew James-Wilson.