5. Anna Tivel Is Ready For Any Weather As Long As Its Black
A songwriter based out of Portland, Oregon, Anna Tivel has been active for the best part of a decade now, since first appearing as Anna and the Underbelly, before starting to release under her own name with her 2014 debut, Before Machines. Her 2019 release, The Question, was something of a breakout moment drawing acclaim from across the musical landscape. Now three years on, Anna is set to team up with Mama Bird Recording Co for the release of her new album Outsiders, and this week she shared the latest single from it, Black Umbrella.
Discussing the inspiration behind the track, Anna doesn’t seem to shy away from its serious qualities, “it’s about poverty and desperation, race and power, history, opportunity, and otherness”. Anna speaks of how quickly the song came to her, “a sort of manic out of body flood, you’re there but also far away watching the animal of yourself express something without thinking of form or craft, just the raw moan of an emotion building up“. The track builds around a gentle percussive rhythm reminiscent of The Acorn or labelmate Haley Heynderickx, as meandering electric guitars and the distant electronic buzz create a perfect backing for Anna’s expressive vocal to lay it all bare. Her words tumble forth, urgently laying out a story of a forgotten victim of a brutal world, lost to the papers who just remember, “a cracked out kid who broke the law”. In the same way that Bob Dylan or Joan Baez would, Anna Tivel seems to seek out these complicated human beings, those who make mistakes, but overpay their dues to a world that promises so much, and so often delivers so little, so here’s to the outsiders waiting for their chance to be seen.
4. Eerie Wanda Sails Off Into The Sunset
The project of Dutch/Croatian musician Marina Tadic, I first came across Eerie Wanda back in 2019 when she released the fabulous album, Pet Town, “a record about growth, solitude and taking the time to find your place in the world”. Like so many of us Marina has spent a lot of time at home over the last few years, but unlike a lot of us, she used that time somewhat productively, writing and recording her new album, Internal Radio from her home in the Netherlands. With the album set to appear this Autumn, this week Marina shared the brand new Eerie Wanda single, Sail To The Silver Sun.
The opening track on Internal Radio, Sail To The Silver Sun is an instant scene setter, an indicator of where Marina’s songwriting has been existing these last few years as her music seems to take a dense, more serious tone. We’re greeted by a backing of choppy piano chords and wavering electronics, her clipped vocals seeming to exist with a certain unresolved looping quality bringing to mind the likes of Babehoven or Grouper. Marina has spoken of this record as an attempt to find her, “weird inner world”, and to find the heart of each song and really let them flourish. If this is a new phase for Eerie Wanda it’s one Marina is striding confidently towards, “I just want to immerse myself with beauty and love and project it out into the world”, on this evidence it’s a job very well done.
3. Rachel Angel Is Onto A Winner
Back in the Summer of 2020, the at-the-time, New Yorker Rachel Angel released one of the year’s finest EPs in the shape of the brilliant Highway Songs, a collection of outlaw-country and traditional American folk. Subsequently, Rachel has relocated to Berklee College of Music’s Spanish campus in Valencia. With a new album, Midnight Heart Attack, due out in September via Ruzafa Records, this week Rachel has shared the first single from it, I Can’t Win.
I Can’t Win instantly feels like an evolution in Rachel Angel’s musical world, her always fabulous vocals, pitched somewhere in the middle of Mazzy Star and Angel Olsen, accompanied by an almost glam-rock stomp, strutting drums joined by swaggering layers of distorted guitar wailing. For all the song’s musical confidence, the lyrics belie a less self-assured truth, a reality laced with anxiety, insecurity and indecision, “I can’t climb, I can’t climb, I can’t run the race and walk the mile, I can’t climb, I can’t see, I can’t see, what this man’s being doing to me”. For an artist who has always been on the move, this feels like a revelation, a realisation that wherever you go, you’re still the same person, searching for a sense of self and security, Rachel Angel’s journey might still be ongoing, and it feels like it’s going somewhere special.
2. You’ll Love To Listen To Chroma Sometimes
Libertino Records is a label at the forefront of the Welsh music scene, putting out the likes of Adwaith, Alex Dingley and Sister Wives. In particular, the label is a champion of Welsh language music, and this week they released the debut single from their latest exciting signees, the South Wales Valleys-trio, Chroma. The band announced themselves to the world via their double-A single, Weithiau / Caru Cyffuriau.
Opening track Weithiau (Sometimes) is a song about endings, written in the aftermath of a relationship with someone you still care deeply about, as vocalist Katie Hall explains it deals with, “the process of coming to terms with the fact that the relationship doesn’t work, and putting your self first in that situation”. That difficult revelation is set to a soundtrack of clattering drums and anxious, wiry guitars reminiscent of the likes of Life Model or L I P S. Contrasting the fuzzy melancholy of Weithiau is Caru Cyfffuriau, “a song about being a naughty teenager in the valleys experimenting with drugs and sex because there’s not much else to do”, with its vicious guitar assault, it reflects the mundane nature of life in a place where it feels like nothing ever happens, “there needs to be more stuff going on so young people don’t feel so isolated. We wanted to write a welsh language punk song that reflects young people’s lived experience today”. There’s an urgency to the music Chroma make, a quiet seething bubbling over into a youthful howl, and it’s every bit as exciting as that sounds.
1. Rat Tally Are All In A Spin
Rat Tally is the musical project of Chicago-based songwriter, Addy Harris. Emerging back in 2019 with her self-released debut EP, When You Wake Up, Addy caught the ear of many fans and music writers alike, as well as impressing 6131 Records, home to the likes of Julien Baker and Katie Malco, who set in motion plans to work with her on future releases. The result is her upcoming debut album, In My Car, due out next month, and this week she shared the first single from it, Spinning Wheel.
Set to a backing of luxurious dreamy-pop in the mould of Hazel English or Snail Mail, Spinning Wheel is a song of frustrations and repressed emotions, Addy trying to provoke a reaction as a relationship heads towards an inevitable end, “I wish you would scream at me, at least then I could say a few things”. Throughout the song there are moments of serenity and moments of clattering intensity, Addy’s mind wandering back to better times, “I miss New England, the smell of summer in Boston and living in a vacuum, when getting older was fun and so were you”, before crashing back into the hear and now, “I was ready on sight but you brought a ghost to a fist fight”. There’s something fully realised about Rat Tally’s music, it has the sense of a songwriter who knows just how good her new record is shaping up to be.
Header photo is Rat Tally by Chris Strong.