Five Things We Liked This Week – 03/06/22

Further Listening:

5. Field Guides Head For The Trees

Field Guides, aka Brooklyn-based songwriter Benedict Kupstas, appeared on these pages back in April when he shared Salmon Skin, the first taste of his upcoming third record, Ginkgo. The follow up to 2019’s This Is Just A Place, Ginkgo will see the light of day later this month via Whatever’s Clever, and this week Benedict shared the latest single from it, Cicadas In The Lemon Trees.

Cicadas In The Lemon Trees was inspired by the time Benedict spent in Crete, and “the constant din of the titular bugs, absorbing the landscapes haunted by all those centuries of Greek mythology: from Hades and Persephone to Joni Mitchell’s Matala“. As ever with Field Guides’ though, Benedict seems to find in the natural an explanation for personal experience, “I’m reaching for allegories onto which I might tether the grief of failed relationships and mental illness“, here he tackles a panic attack experienced in Helsinki, so dramatic it left him suffering with temporary aphasia. The song is a fascinating amalgam of sounds, there’s a touch of Matt Berninger in both Benedict’s delivery and oblique lyricism, “it seems I just cannot help but to genuflect at the altar of your allergy to love”, yet it’s adorned not by The National’s rockier tones, but instead by rich clarinets, fluttering waves of harp and a sprightly drum-beat, which sits in perfect contrast to the song’s slow-folk origins. Literature, mythology, the natural world, somehow Benedict Kupstas takes these disparate threads and weaves them into a tapestry that not only makes sense, it tells us something about its creator, the human centre piece at Ginkgo’s musical banquet, which is just waiting for us all to dive in.

Ginkgo is out June 24th via Whatever’s Clever. For more information on Field Guides visit

4. I’m Getting Carried Away About Slack Times

Based out of Birmingham, Alabama, Slack Times are a trio of musicians who cite shared influence from the likes of Yo La Tengo, R.E.M., and The Feelies. After releasing two EPs in 2021, Up Here and At The Blue Melon Rendezvous, the band are teaming up with Meritorio Records to combine both those releases with six new songs in a vinyl compilation, Carried Away. Ahead of the record’s end of June release date, this week the band shared Carried Away’s fabulous title track.

Opening with a beautiful country-licked guitar line, Carried Away is a track that seems to teeter between genres, equal parts Good Looks’ like widescreen Americana and West Coast jangle. Clocking in just seconds over two minutes, Carried Away is also delightfully simple, the guitar line runs almost throughout, the drums hit an easy rhythm and barely stray from it, and atop it all Chris McCauley bemoans his own inaction, wistfully noting, “I didn’t put up a fight”. This is musical simplicity at its finest, no bells, no whistles, just effortlessly excellent songwriting, and if that’s not a reason to get carried away about Slack Times, I’m not sure what is.

Carried Away is out June 24th via Meritorio Records. For more information on Slack Times visit

3. Divorce Is Never Pretty

The latest signings to the vibrant Hand In Hive label, Nottingham quartet Divorce emerged back in February with their alt-country tinged debut single, Services. Citing influences from LCD Soundsystem to Tom Waits, and having already supported the likes of A.O. Gerber and Wyldest, this week the band returned with their second single, Pretty.

Discussing the inspiration behind the track, vocalist Felix Mackenzie-Barrow suggests Divorce is, “a portrait of two tortured people set inside a makeshift ballad about preserving one pure thing in an insane world”. Despite their band name suggesting a cracking relationship, there’s a sense throughout of two souls bonded together, “holding onto each other despite scrutiny and humiliation”. To the fore throughout the track are the twin vocals of Felix and bandmate Tiger Cohen-Towell, a sonic clash in the best way possible as they part and recombine atop the backing of clattering drums and angular guitar-thrash, and sing of forced compromise, “I met the love the of my life, he ain’t pretty but he’s alright”. An intriguing prospect, Divorce seem to have tapped into a sound entirely their own, a compelling prospect who feel like they’re only just getting started.

Pretty is out now via Hand In Hive. For more information on Divorce visit

2. Me And Ainsley Farrell Go Way Back

Although originally from the United States, Ainsley Farrell now calls New South Wales’ biggest city, Sydney, home. Ainsley last appeared on these pages back in 2018, when she shared the fabulous single, Walls, the first new material since her acclaimed debut EP, Dark Hours. Having previously appeared at SXSW and supported the likes of Julia Jacklin, Nadia Reid and Middle Kids, Ainsley is currently working towards the release of her debut album, Dirt, and this week shared the first single from it, The Way Back.

The song was written for a friend of Ainsley’s when she was, “going through the hardest times of her life, and I couldn’t be there for her physically”, as Ainsley further explains, “this song is metaphorically holding her in the light, holding some of that pain for her, until she’s ready to put one foot in front of the other and realize it’s worth sticking it out in this world”. The track enters in a sprightly fashion, with a rumbling drum beat soon joined by the driving guitar and Ainsley’s swooping vocal melodies, the inflexion and rhythmic quality of her vocal reminiscent of the likes of Lucy Dacus or Angel Olsen. Throughout the track has a subtle ebb and flow, the intensity picking up and dropping back down without any dramatic gear shifts, giving the whole thing an organic quality as Ainsley offers her friend the simple act of being there, “do you know that I will hold you in the light, ’till you know”. This is a stunning return, a songwriter simultaneously picking up where she left off and striding forward into a brand new phase, remember the name Ainsley Farrell, with a fair wind she’s going to be a star.

Dirt is out later this year. For more information on Ainsley Farrell visit

1. Martha Are Never Looking Back

At the back end of 2019, Martha were riding high, with a packed out show at the genuinely quite huge venue that is Heaven in London. That was on the back of the Durham quartet releasing their third album, Love Keeps Kicking, which drew near-universal acclaim for its streamlined, focused take on DIY-punk. Three difficult years on and the band’s much-anticipated return has finally arrived in the shape of their new single, Please Don’t Take Me Back, shared last week alongside the band’s biggest UK tour to date.

While a band who often strive for positivity, Please Don’t Take Me Back serves as more of a warning, a reminder that the past wasn’t always as great as your golden age thinking makes it out to be. As the band explain, “the past was absolutely terrible. Don’t get us wrong, the present is also absolutely terrible, but that almost instantly becomes the past anyway”, and as for the future they’re not feeling too great about that either, as it has been, “cancelled by the loathsome politicians, oligarchs and CEOs hell bent on destroying the planet and all life on it, so we probably won’t have to put up with this garbage for much longer anyway“. As ever with Martha though, even the bleakest of political landscapes is presented with a certain glint in the eye, a sense that even in a dark hour there’s a glimmer of hope that even if things are as awful as ever, you can still write a really good song about it. The song starts with a somewhat sombre piano, the bass chords carefully picked out, as the right hand seems to almost absent-mindedly pick out a melody they’ll call back to later in the vocals, so far, so not very Martha at all. Fear not though DIY-punk fans, the neo-classical Debussy-inspired moment doesn’t last long, as the familiar bombastic guitars and yelp-along vocals soon emerge, quickly joined by one of those unforgettable Martha choruses we’ve all missed so much, “take me back to the old days, take me back to the glory days we had, take me back to the old days, no wait, don’t do that, I was really fucking sad, the old day were bad”. So yes, life might be just as awful as ever, but at least there’s new Martha, so we don’t just have to wallow in nostalgia for a glory day that never was.

Please Don’t Take Me Back is out June 24th via Specialist Subject. For more information on Martha visit

Header photo is Martha by Victoria Wai.

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