5. We’re All Going To Be Fallin’ For Chelsea Rose
Chelsea Rose initially made her name while fronting sunshine pop group Summer Twins with her sister Justine. The band released two albums and toured the world while Chelsea was still in her twenties, before a burst pipe in their studio the night before the band’s final show almost finished her musical dreams entirely. Rather than a moment to stop, Chelsea instead saw it as a moment of change, waving goodbye to, “the younger version of me”, and embracing the person she is, “that has been through a little more”. Having recently announced she’ll be releasing her debut album Truth Or Consequence via Paul Is Dead Records, this week Chelsea shared the latest single from it, Fallin’.
For an artist whose early singles have showcased influences from Bossa Nova to the 1970’s singer-songwriter boom, Fallin’ is still something entirely different for Chelsea. The track is a spoken-word reflection of falling in love while out on the road, a story of, “closeness, distance, longing, and an eventual ending of falling back into loneliness“. It has a certain 1990’s pop-feel, with the complex rhythms playing off against loungey-guitars and Chelsea’s tumbling need-to-get-this-story-out lyrics, the whole bringing to mind the similarly genre-hopping styles of Faye Webster or Indigo De Souza. Fallin’ is one of those moments where a song you didn’t think was necessarily your sort of thing gradually worms its way into your heart, and frankly, songwriting doesn’t get much more exciting than that.
4. Shearwater Take In A Day At The Races
It has been six years since the last Shearwater album, 2016’s acclaimed eighth studio album, Jet Plane and Oxbow. The subsequent years certainly haven’t been uneventful for the band’s principal songwriter Jonathan Meiburg, the former Okkervil River member releasing two rapturously received albums as a member of Loma and releasing his fascinating debut non-fiction book, A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World’s Smartest Birds of Prey. Returning to Shearwater, with some of his regular bandmates for company, Jonathan set about moving on from the rocky protest songs of Jet Plane and Oxbow, and creating their new album, The Great Awakening, an “immersive travelogue of grand atmospheres and intimate landscapes”. Ahead of the album’s release next month, Shearwater this week shared the latest single from it, Laguna Seca.
Discussing the inspiration behind The Great Awakening, Jonathan recalls how it came from a period, “filled with fears for what the United States was becoming”, and the realisation he could control his reaction to that, “I felt hopeless, and I didn’t want to make hopeless music”. Laguna Seca, like all the singles shared from The Great Awakening to date, seems to move Shearwater’s music into new territory, here we’re treated to a wall of stomping bass-line and almost primal percussion, gradually pierced by slithering dreamy strings and Jonathan’s lyrical dreamscape of a twisted reality existing, “on the brink of ugliness”. Many years into their music journey, Shearwater and Jonathan Meiburg remain an intriguing prospect, a place of ever-shifting sound and mood, always creative, always challenging and quite possibly better than ever.
The Great Awakening is out June 10th via Polyborous. For more information on Shearwater visit http://shearwatermusic.com/.
3. I’m Here For The New Harkin
It was back in that very odd spring of 2020, that Harkin released her self-titled debut album. For a natural collaborator who has worked with everyone from Wild Beasts to Dua Lipa, that record existed like a snapshot of her own adventures, written on the road it was the sound of a tour bus, a long haul flight, a Travelodge interior, somehow rolled into a really rather wonderful musical package. Two years on, and things are perhaps unsurprisingly rather different. Harkin’s new album Honeymoon Suite was written in the same room where she and her wife would share meals, where they held a virtual wedding ceremony and attended a remote funeral over Zoom. With the album set for release next month via the Hand Mirror label, this week saw Harkin share the latest single from the record, Here Again.
Described by Harkin as, “a song about the timelessness of love and loss”, Here Again is in some ways a celebration of vulnerability, a reminder to open your pores to, “the dance of raw vulnerability and galvanising strength that comes with both, how each are transcendent and everyday”. Listening to Here Again you can hear the claustrophobia of its creation, it feels confined, the eerie swirl of the brass, courtesy of Aaron Roche and Bright Eyes’ Nate Walcott, and metronomic drum tick, creating a swirling intensity at odds with Harkin’s layered vocals, drifting in and out of herself as if searching for some clarity in a chaotic mind. From an artist who has always thrived on collaboration, Honeymoon Suite is a strikingly solitary record, a songwriter grappling with her own thoughts as even the guests are dialled in from their own personal confinements, as a result, it feels more personal and vulnerable than her music ever has before, and perhaps contradictorily it might spark an even stronger connection than her music ever has.
2. Oh Laura Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside
Recorded in 2019, shortly before she split up with her husband, producer and the father of her two children, Laura Veirs’ last album My Echo has, perhaps somewhat reductively, been described as her divorce album. Two years on, Laura is set to return with her new album, Found Light, a record about what comes next, about rediscovering yourself at an ending and learning to do all the things you used to rely on someone else for. From a place of doubt and wondering if she even knew how to make an album without him, Laura has created something that’s shaping up to emphatically show that she can, as evidenced by the release this week of her new single, Seaside Haiku.
Living up to its name, Seaside Haiku was created from a series of Haikus Laura wrote, “wandering around on a windy beach in Seaside, Oregon”. The track, whether by design or not, emerged as Laura’s celebration of newfound independence. As she sings on a loop at the song’s close, “give, but don’t give too much of yourself away”, serving as what she describes as, “a call to hold onto our strength and power and to share it reciprocally instead of blithely giving it away”. The track is beautifully produced throughout, starting with clattering guitars reminiscent of Plans-era Death Cab For Cutie, before entering the fabulous middle section, that Laura herself admits her love for, “I love the breakdown in the middle of this song, how the instruments clear out and my vocals sound very close and intimate”. Just as you think it might stay in this gorgeous lull the guitars roll in, deliciously out of kilter with one another, as the song hits a fabulous, almost motorik groove as it slides to its enchanting close. While art has a propensity to focus in on life’s grand turning points, be it death, break-ups, or new life, what is often forgotten is what comes next, that moment of carving out a different future to the one you had previously planned, Found Light is a celebration of re-learning what you’re capable of, and it’s already sounding like a triumph.
1. Why Bonnie Are A Bit Early For The Winter Heat
Hailing from New York by way of Texas, we last heard from Why Bonnie back in 2020 when they teamed up with Fat Possum for the release of their acclaimed EP, Voice Box. The band’s first foray into professional recording, Voice Box was both lyrically and musically the sound of the band finding their voice. Two years on the band have found a new home in the shape of Austin institution Keeled Scales, this August Why Bonnie will release their debut album, 90 in November, and this week the band shared the record’s sparkling title track.
Although largely written after vocalist Blair Howerton relocated to Brooklyn, 90 In November is very much a song for Texan skies, reflecting on her decision to leave her home city of Dallas behind. As Blair explains, “I wanted to capture the bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye to the landscape that shaped you while still dealing with the anxieties of what lies ahead”, the lyrics existing as a series of snapshots of the way her life once was. Throughout we’re treated to nostalgic slices of Blair’s youth, whether it’s “a technicolor sun like when I was a kid” or “picking up a pen that’s running out of ink”, as she puts it, “nostalgia always hits with a flash of disjointed memories”. If lyrically the track is looking back, musically it does anything but, the track takes the dreamy bedroom-pop of the band’s early material and breathes fresh impetus into it, with shimmering guitars and crashing percussion bringing to mind the breezy perfection of Skirts and the polished indie-rock of Waxahatchee. 90 in November is a record that explores the link between people and places, an invite to sit up front with Why Bonnie as they embark on a life-changing journey, one that’s surely going to take them just as far as they want to go.
Header photo is Why Bonnie by Grace Pendleton.