5. Fall In Love With Nina Nastasia
It has been twelve years since the world last heard from Nina Nastasia, a musical hiatus that followed the release of her sixth album, Outlaster. Nina decided to stop pursuing music after the unhappiness of her personal life, in particular her relationship with her long term-partner and regular producer Kennan Gudjonsson. As Nina herself puts it, “music had always been a positive outlet during difficult times, but eventually it became a source of absolute misery”. Following the end of the dysfunctional and often abusive relationship, Kennan sadly died by suicide, and in attempting to make sense of that grief, Nina returned to writing music once more. The result is her upcoming album, Riderless Horse, produced by Steve Albini and set for release this July via Temporary Residence Ltd. Ahead of the release, this week Nina shared the latest track from the record, This Is Love.
This Is Love enters on a gentle guitar and a brutal pronouncement, “is this love? It feels so bad, drawing blood until we both see black”. The track is a reflection on finding comfort in unhealthy things, “I got comfortable living with trauma, living in a fight and sitting in sadness. Happiness came in moments, but I must have gravitated towards misery, because I built a life around it”. The song seems to flow throughout between love and pain, blurring the lines between the two, as Nina sings, “we got off on the terrible times, killing joy is such a trivial crime”. Ultimately as pained as it was, this was a love of sorts, “I’m not regretful. It was love, but love doesn’t have to look like that if you ultimately don’t want it to”. Riderless Horse is an album about terrible things and how terrible things happen, an attempt not to romanticise them but to learn from them, as Nina puts it, “remember the humor, find the humor, tell the truth, and make a record”.
4. Lawn Lay It Down
With the two members of Lawn hailing from Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela and Nashville, Tennessee, Rui DeMagalhaes and Mac Folger found a middle ground in their shared love of New Zealand indie-pop, British post-punk and their current home of New Orleans. It takes a special sort of bravery to call your debut album something as instantly recognisable as Blood On The Tracks, but that’s exactly what Lawn did back in 2018, before returning in the Autumn of 2020 with Johnny, a record about, “wanting to be at a party but also hating it”. Nearly two years on, and freshly signed to the Born Yesterday label, Lawn this week announced the release of a new EP, Bigger Sprout, which will arrive in July. Ahead of the release, the band shared their new single, Down.
Described by Mac as, “a love letter to a feeling I needed to let go of before making strides to get my life together”, Down is a song that taps into the EP’s wider narrative surrounding urgency and using it as a catalyst for change. The song exists in the, “weird middle zone”, the point between major life events where uncertainty and anxiety run rife, and stagnation lies in wait. Musically, the track seems to tap into their shared love of clean indie-pop, as the stop-start guitars entwine with the steady tumble of the drums, recalling both the late 80’s indie heyday and more modern acts like The Beths or the Slumberland Records stable. Atop it all Mac’s vocal is delightfully lilting, pairing a certain nonchalance to his lyrical refrain, “I’ve got something here worth holding to when I am down”. Moving on isn’t always easy, but as Lawn’s music seems to acknowledge, that doesn’t make it any less necessary.
3. Wy Bare Their Teeth
Something of a regular feature on these pages over the years, Wy are the Malmö-based indie duo of Ebba and Michel Gustafsson Ågren. After first appearing back in 2017, the band have gone on to release three acclaimed albums, culminating in their 2021 record, Marriage. That record was a scrapbook of the couple’s first two years as newlyweds, and lyricist Ebba spoke of it as the first time she’d tried to write from both of their perspectives rather than just her own. This week the band have shared their first new material since Marriage in the shape of new single, Teeth, the first track to be lifted from their upcoming EP, Something Amazing.
As the band put it, if Marriage started with a wedding, Something Amazing started with a pregnancy, “a door, opening wide into a completely new life, with entirely new challenges and overwhelming beauty”. The EP’s opening track, Teeth is an exploration of feeling helpless, a feeling they’ve found often as new parents, “suddenly there’s an abundance of things we cannot control, and there’s going to be a lot more of that in the future…you can’t protect the ones you love from everything, even if you want to”. If the track chronicles moving into a new phase of your life, musically too this is a track that finds Wy moving on. The track centres on a steady pulse of keyboard chords, warm and buzzing against Ebba’s dancing vocal melody, “you think your teeth are falling out, now you’re smoking on the balcony, you say it takes the edge off, its something for your stress, it’s something ’cause you’re such a mess”. The track seems to slowly unfurl, picking up courtesy of choppy guitars and slacker-influenced drum beats, as it seems to gradually swirl out of control. As the track slowly collapses back down to just a lone guitar, it seems to almost breathe a sigh of relief, finding a quiet comfort in accepting the things you cannot control. Something Amazing already seems like an apt name for Wy’s new EP, the sound of a band at their compelling best.
2. Ezra Furman Is Burning Bright
Whether it was always intended or not Ezra Furman’s latest three records seem to have formed into something of a trilogy. A study of discontent and queerness that began on 2018’s musical road-novel Transangelic Exodus and flowed into the angry punk-spattered anthems of 2019’s Twelve Nudes. This week Ezra announced the story’s final chapters, in the shape of her new record, All Of Us Flames, an album arriving at a point where, “the end of the patriarchal capitalist empire seems both imminent and inevitable, a turn down a path we can’t see yet but can’t avoid, either”. Ahead of the album’s arrival this August, Ezra shared the latest single from it, Forever In Sunset.
Like much of the record, Forever In Sunset was written as the Covid-pandemic hit, and is a reflection on the wider idea of crisis “sometimes it feels like crisis is hitting more and more of the general population. They think the world is ending. But people who have been through a personal apocalypse or two have something to teach them”. Specifically, the track tells the story of a woman, “she has been through crises and they will come again. And that’s just how she lives, never settled, never safe, but also never defeated/finished – forever in sunset“. Musically the track finds Ezra in a contemplative mood, the track entering with a nod to Sharon Van Etten’s Seventeen, before exploding into the sort of anthemic chorus Bruce Springsteen would be proud of (and a keyboard that to my ear seems to reference the melody from Everlasting Love but that might just be me). The song ends wonderfully abruptly, Ezra howling out the chorus, “I live forever in sunset, an ending not quite done yet, some people don’t understand it” before the music slides back in for one last joyous go around. Ultimately this is a song about what comes after the crisis, as we wade through the chaos Ezra has some advice for us all, “the world doesn’t end, shit just happens and if we don’t die we have to take care of each other”.
1. You’ll Never Get Tired Of Adwaith
From Carmarthen to the furthest reaches of Eastern Europe, Adwaith’s upcoming album Bato Mato is a record about journeys, and the similarities and differences we find along the way. A life-changing trip to the bracingly cold city of Ulan-Ude in East Siberia took them racing past, “barren landscape and brutalist architecture”, the experience seeping into the record as they attempted to create something, “as big as the limitless sky around us there”. While that album won’t arrive until July, this week the band shared the second single from it, Wedi Blino.
Wedi Blino is Adwaith’s attempt “to create a big indie pop song that has a melancholy feel to it”, the song reflecting on, “being worried that life is going too fast or the worries of a relationship, the overwhelming feeling that you’re not good enough and that you are the reason things aren’t working out”. The track opens with a wiry, almost absent-minded guitar, backed by the solid presence of the prominent, almost industrial rumble of the bass before the whole thing exploded into the frankly brilliant chorus. It has that amazing ability to sound nostalgic, it’s alive with youthful endeavours, an intoxicating mix of excitement and self-doubt that hits every generation just the same. Adwaith have always been a special band, yet with Bato Mato, they seem to be realising it too, the question isn’t any longer is the world ready for a breakout Welsh language band, it’s just a question of when.
Header photo is Adwaith