5. Edith Judith Music Is Erupting With Possibilities
Not actually featuring either an Edith or a Judith, Edith Judith are in fact the Chicago-based duo of songwriter/singer/bassist Katie Ernst and multi-instrumentalist Dustin Laurenzi. Edith Judith formed back in the Spring of 2020, yet what started as a pandemic project has since evolved far beyond that, becoming an ongoing collaboration between two musical minds. The first representation of that will be shared next month in the shape of their debut album, Bones and Structure, which they previewed this week with their new single, Hot Lava.
The centrepiece of Bones and Stucture, Hot Lava is a playful introduction, which the band describe as, “the overthinker’s hottest summer anthem”. The track builds around a particularly complex percussive rhythm, courtesy of drummer Ben Lumsdaine, which is given an almost naive quality as traditional drum sounds blend with tinnier sounds, as if he’s playing the jazzy beats on a make-shift kit of whatever he had to hand. The rhythms are complemented by an array of descending keyboard lines that The Knife would be proud of, and Katie’s syncopated vocals, are equally reminiscent of Bjork and This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables. Lyrically the track plays out like a mantra, only one punctuated with the self-doubts it is aimed to alleviate as if she’s trying to run from the thoughts that threaten to ground her. Katie has spoken of Bones and Structure as a series of, “poems of uncertainty”, songs that take on the big topics, whether it’s love, hope or sadness, and finds more questions than answers waiting on the other side, and offers more thrilling possibilities as to where life, and Edith Judith’s music, can take us next.
4. Ghost Orchard Bruise Like A Peach
ghost orchard is the project of Sam Hall, not the one from the Johnny Cash song, but a musician based out of the vibrantly named, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sam first appeared back in 2016 with a pair of albums, poppy and bliss, before returning in 2019 with the acclaimed bunny, described as, “a love letter to romantic relationships”. Three years on and Sam’s back with something entirely different, his upcoming album rainbow music, out this November via Winspear. The record was written in response to Sam’s first experience of loss in several forms, and the shift it brought about him from being a kid into adulthood. This week Sam shared the record’s lead single, bruise.
Listening to bruise, it has a certain urgency that sits in contrast to the languid quality in Sam’s drawling vocals, as he’s accompanied by glitchy beats, like a sad-core re-imagining of Kid A-era Radiohead. At times the vocals threaten to slip entirely beneath the music that accompanies them, urging the listener to lean in close to hear Sam’s musing on returning to the family home and struggling to make sense of the subtle changes of time, “when I come back to that house it’s been rearranged new furnishings familiar in an honest way”. Already, rainbow music feels like a coming of age for ghost orchard, a moment of settling down in a world spinning too fast, a sketch of a future with the tantalising outline drawn, yet still waiting for someone to fill in the intricate human details that make it a reality.
3. Paul Thomas Saunders Is Out For Blood
Leeds-born, and now Brighton-based, Paul Thomas Saunders was a name on a lot of lips back in 2014, when he released his debut album, Beautiful Desolation on Atlantic Records, to a wave of critical acclaim. The subsequent eight years saw Paul step away from music, apart from a brief sojourn in the shape of a pair of singles released in 2017, looking for additional meaning in his life as he set about becoming a paramedic and joining the RNLI lifeboat crew. He might never have returned, were it not for an out-of-the-blue invitation from Bon Iver to perform at the Forbidden Fruit Festival in Dublin. From there Paul re-discovered the value and purpose of his music, and the result is his new album, Figure In A Lanscape, which he previewed this week via a new single, Bloodlust.
Something of a soundtrack from our times, Paul recalls how he, “wanted to write a naïve antidote for the spiralling sense of doom you can feel as the world seems to spin further and further into an utterly avoidable nose-dive”. Musically, the track is Paul’s attempt to capture a, “moment of peace, standing with your eyes closed, as the chaos turns around you“. Musically, the track pairs Paul’s soaring vocals with a soundtrack that begins with the simplicity of an acoustic guitar, before spinning wider-and-wider, as prominent bass and The The-like synths come to the fore. Lyrically, the track lays out the problems of the world, with an almost child-like optimism, “why don’t you call the cops, tell them not to be so mean, If they’re starting to piss you off. I’ll be your spaceman, yeah. I’ll take you out of here“. It’s as if Paul is choosing a moment to step back from the world, to take the road to happiness that comes with not facing the world at large. Sometimes in life the best things are the unexpected ones, the records that almost didn’t happen, the moments where inspiration strikes afresh and something magic spills out, Figure In A Landscape is exactly that, cherish Paul Thomas Saunders’ return, it’s shaping up to be well worth the wait.
2. For The Gerbers
Something of a regular on these pages, A.O. Gerber impressed back in 2020 with her fabulous debut record, Another Place To Need, which crashed into my albums of the year list with its reflections on “fantasy and loneliness”. Two years on A.O. is teaming up with Hand In Hive once more, alongside her new American label, Father/Daughter Records, for the release of her second album, Meet Me at the Gloaming. Ahead of the record’s October release, this week A.O. shared the latest track from it, For.
For was inspired by an experience many of us will relate to, “watching a friend go through a really difficult time and the shame of feeling like I didn’t know how to be there for them”. The track reflects on the importance, and difficulty, of establishing intimacy in a friendship, of opening yourself up to be vulnerable and allowing someone else to do the same. Initially building around muted guitar chords, For slowly unveils the progress in A.O’s music, as wavering synths create a sense of expanding horizons, before the humungous clatter of drums showcases the ever-growing mastery of her craft. Particularly wonderful throughout is A.O’s vocal, made all the more impressive as it was self-recorded, “crouched inside a closet at night in a cabin at a writing residency in Washington“, originally she had planned, and attempted to re-record it, only to decide she was more drawn to the rawness of the original. At the song’s close, the whole thing breaks down, calling back to the track’s opening as she questioningly sings, “who am I trying to save? Is it you from yourself Or is it me from the heartache?” There’s a sense of guilt here, at feeling like you can’t provide yourself entirely to someone at their hour of greatest need, for fear of getting yourself burnt on the edges of their struggle. A.O. Gerber has suggested that Meet Me at the Gloaming is a record about stepping out of the darkness and discovering the world is not full of the black and white morality we’re often led to believe as children, more importantly, it’s about learning to be okay with that, to embrace the nuance, complexity and richness of life and the constant learning opportunities it offers along the way.
1. Living Hour Are Anything But Middle Of The Road
A quartet based out of Winnipeg, Canada, Living Hour first came to my attention back in 2019 when they released their excellent second album, Softer Faces. Hailing from a city described as, an “inland island that floats on infinite prairie ground”, seclusion has often been at the heart of the Winnipeg music scene, with bands often looking inward to their hometown for influence, and Living Hour are no different. Today the band share their third album, Someday is Today, an ambitious collection created with a string of guests from near and far, and ahead of the release, the band shared the final single from it, Middle Name.
As described by lead singer, Sam Sartey, Middle Name is a track about, “getting stuck with yourself, forever, like an assigned middle name, or DNA”, as she further explains, “some of it’s already built in, but mostly you’ll be walking around as you, doing dishes, meeting people, untangling what it means, being busy being busy”. The track began life as a voice memo called “Janes’ Chicken Nuggets”, with three chords and a stream of consciousness, yet under the new title, Middle Name is re-imagined as a hazy slice of dream-pop. The track is propelled by a delightfully languid bass line, while the drums pick out a slow march, and the guitars go from the absent-minded meander of the verses to the fizzing intense clatters of the chorus. The stream-of-consciousness quality of Sam’s vocals remain, the words seeming to almost tumble out of her, yet they don’t lack meaning or thought as that might suggest, “I say a little, I say a lot, every speck of something means something to me”. It’s a fitting introduction to Someday is Today, a celebration of self-discovery on an album that finds Living Hour growing into themselves and making more than good on all the promise they’ve always had.
Header photo is Living Hour by Adam Kelly.