5. They Might Be Thick But They’re No Losers
A trio based out of Brooklyn, Thick formed back in 2014 and came to the world’s attention with their 2020 debut, 5 Year’s Behind. Teaming up again with producer Joel Hamilton, the band have been hard at work on the follow-up, Happy Now, which will see the light of day later this summer. This week the band shared the first taste of the record in the shape of their new single, Loser.
Despite a title that might have you expecting a bitter reprimand, Loser is in fact quite the opposite, a track that says your lowest ebbs are the making of you, as Thick explain, “we want people to know that it’s okay to mess up and that everyone’s a loser sometimes. It’s really the best way to live, instead of trying to be number one all the time”. So yes it might be an anthem for those with a chip on their shoulder, but its key takeaway is not to judge yourself against the standards of others. This message of positive failure is set to a soundtrack of grungey punk, with verses resplendent with yelped vocals, clattering drums and wiry rambunctious guitars, it’s the chorus lyric, “I’ll always be a loser”, that is surely set to be belted out across fields and venues across the globe this summer. Thick know it’s better to lose on your own terms than win on anyone else’s, and if that’s not the first step to winning everyone over, then I’m not sure what is.
4. There’s No Body Quite Like Living Hour
Back in 2019, Living Hour released one of the year’s finest records with their second album, Softer Faces. The album saw the Winnipeg, Manitoba natives draw widespread acclaim for their expansive take on dream-pop. From a place that is essentially an island in the middle of, “infinite prairie ground”, Living Hour are a band who have always been comfortable in seclusion, so it’s perhaps no surprise the band are emerging from the last few years with a brilliant new record, Someday Is Today, out in September via Kanine Records. This week the band shared the latest offering from it, No Body.
Living Hour has spoken of No Body as one of the most vulnerable songs they’ve ever written, as vocalist Sam Sarty explains, “this song is about dissociating at a restaurant and feeling completely isolated and alone in the experience”. It’s a reflection on the feeling of being surrounded by your closest friends but feeling like you can’t reach out to them, “you can’t say anything, hands numb, mind far away and foggy”. The song is a beautifully textural piece, beginning with a gentle percussive ripple and slow rumbling bass, as Sam sings of, “blue spots behind each eyelid, spelling names, making shapes at the restaurant”. From there the song gradually swells in intensity with the almost military twitch of the snare drum and twangy, arpeggiated guitars, Sam’s vocals bringing to mind the likes of Torres or Sun June as she creates a scene of both a deeply personal experience and the universally relatable sense of feeling lost in the most mundane everyday of situations. For all its whispered beauty, the key to Living Hour’s charm is in the human heart at the centre of everything they do, it might be frayed and frazzled but despite all that it’s still beating, still alive.
3. Why Bonnie, You’ve Got A Mouth Like A Sailor
It was only at the end of May that New York-based Texan ex-pats Why Bonnie last appeared on these pages, that was when they announced their new album, ’90 In November, which is set for release this August on the Austin institution, Keeled Scales. Ahead of the release, this week the band shared two new singles, the sweltering dreamscape of Hot Car and my personal favourite, Sailor Mouth.
The opening number on ’90 In November, Sailor Mouth is a track the band explain is about, “growing around your memories. Your foundation never changes but your relationship to it is always evolving”. The track opens with a squall of feedback Wednesday would be proud of the guitar only slowly evolving into a recognisable melody, before a clatter of drums and then a sudden resolution. A nonchalant barroom piano picks out melodious runs as Blair Howerton’s vocals enter in classically thought-provoking fashion, “I’ve been learning new ways to curse, sure got a sailor mouth for someone who’s afraid of the ocean”. It has a wonderful sense of contrast from its rambunctious noisy intro to the rich, gentle warmth of the main body, it’s a feeling reflected in the lyrics that are torn between the past and the present, initially noting how, “the old ways are feeling tired”, yet always falling back to old habits, “it’s a salty sweet familiar taste when I say your name and it always tastes the same”. If Why Bonnie are stuck on old habits, their music doesn’t show it, their early bedroom-pop promise slowly blossoming into something altogether noisier, more dynamic and really quite thrilling, roll on the future, Why Bonnie have never sounded more ready for it.
2. Float Away With Katy J Pearson
It’s been something of a monumental rise for Katy J Pearson since back in 2019 when I featured her single Tonight just as she signed with Heavenly Recordings. After releasing her debut album, Return in November 2020, the Bristol-based musician has become a breakout star, selling out shows, performing on Jools Holland and this week playing some huge slots at Glastonbury. Katy’s new album, Sound of the Morning, is out next month, and this week she shared the latest single from it, Float.
Float was co-written with Oliver Wilde from Pet Shimmers, and is a nostalgic song about, “all the things that lead up to certain moments“, referencing both the uncertainty the last few have brought to us all and just a hint of optimism and curiosity that come with our horizons slowly starting to expand once more. The track is the sound of Katy leaning into her Americana influences as waves of fiddle collide with chiming guitars and her skipping, playful vocals, existing somewhere in the middle ground of Kate Bush and Angel Olsen. For all the success that’s already come her way, this still feels like the tip of the iceberg, an artist with limitless potential ready for whatever acclaim comes her way.
1. Oneida Are Punching Above Their Weight
Formed in Brooklyn some twenty-five years ago, Oneida’s musical journey seems to be approaching something of a full-circle moment. Since they first emerged the band’s sound has evolved ever further into the world of the abstract, moving away from the riotous wave of noise with which they first greeted the world. Now on their thirteenth studio album, Success, out in August via Joyful Noise, they’ve decided it’s time to go back to where it all began, guitars thrashing, drum pounding thrills. Ahead of the album’s release, this week they shared the record’s opening track, Beat Me to the Punch.
There’s a certain wildness to Beat Me to the Punch, the guitars entering with a proto-punk flourish, strutting with the intensity of The Velvet Underground and the swagger of The Modern Lovers, as the lyrics lay bare a visceral thrill, “is that my blood drying on the floor? It didn’t hurt that much, you just beat me to the punch”. Unlike a punk song though, Beat Me To The Punch doesn’t burn out, it knows it’s better to fade away and do it in style, with a fizzing guitar solo that lasts most of the song’s five minutes, it feels delightfully unscripted as if they decided the song needed something extra and figured tagging a three-minute slab of feedback on the end was that something, the driving rhythm section more than happy to come along for this weirdly wonderful ride. It’s a simple idea really, strap on a guitar, follow your ear, trust your instincts and you might just end up where Oneida are now, thrillingly free, unhampered by expectation and twenty-five years in, better than ever.
Header photo is Oneida by Nina Westervely