5. Doom Flower Can’t Kick The Habit
Members of the thriving Chicago music scene, Doom Flower had been ready to make a record for some time, the problem was just finding the time. With writing finished the band had just two days to make a record, and due to other commitments, no drummer; thankfully that didn’t put them off. Sampling a break-beats record and manipulating what they found, the band reconstructed the drum parts and in doing so created the enchanting atmosphere that would b!ecome their new album, Limestone Ritual. The record was released today via record label (N.B. I didn’t just leave that as a “to be filled in later” that’s the name of the record label!), and ahead of it last month the band shared a new single from it, Candle Habit.
Discussing the track, the band describe Candle Habit as a song about, “choosing to keep going”, as they explain, “the candles represent rotations. The chime-like guitar sound replaces the word ‘time’.” That sense of cyclical patterns and constant repetition is evident not just in the words, but in the hypnotic quality of the track, a song that on repeat listens starts to feel less like a narrative and more like a loop, to be picked up and put down whenever you choose. The beats tick by in a mechanically unhurried saunter, as stop-start guitars swoop around them and vocalist Jess Price simply washes over the top with the alarming beauty of a shimmering oil slick on an ocean of calm. Sometimes life has a funny way of working itself out, Limestone Ritual could so easily not have worked at all, yet by embracing the adversity of their situation, Doom Flower are thriving in ways even they surely couldn’t have imagined.
4. Trust Fund Are Skating On Thin Ice
Back in July 2018, then Bristol-based songwriter Ellis Jones called time on the much-loved solo-with-friends project, Trust Fund. While it came as a surprise at the time, listening back to their “final” album, Bringing The Backline, the signs were all there. The album, while very good, was something of a weary sigh, full of pained breakups and disenchantment with the music industry, tired of lugging bass amps from vans for less than minimum wage on the vague promise of jam tomorrow. After time spent in Oslo, and on other projects, Trust Fund seemed to be over for good, then out of the blue in September, a new song, Capital, suddenly appeared. Ellis might not have been screaming it from the rooftops, but Trust Fund were back. Last month, they cemented that return with a second single, late nite skate, joined by a smattering of live dates, the backline was packed and Trust Fund are hitting the road.
The track may arrive accompanied by just a single line of text, “look who it is”, yet late nite skate is in its own way a quiet triumph. It’s a more stripped-back affair than the Trust Fund of old, a finger-picked, folk-influenced guitar does most of the heavy lifting, joined latterly by the occasional swell of electronics and the charming counter-point of an electric guitar, which is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it highlight. Lyrically, the track, rather fittingly for a much-missed artist’s understated return, seems to be a celebration of unexpectedly bumping into an old friend, “didn’t think you’d see him so soon, didn’t think you’d see him ’til Monday, or maybe Sunday afternoon, but now, look who it is, out for a late nite skate”. It’s perfect in its simplicity, not a grand entrance, but a gentle shuffle back into the limelight, welcome back Trust Fund, you’ve been missed.
Late Nite Skate is out now. For more information on Trust Fund visit https://trustfund.bandcamp.com/.
3. Erika Levy Tucks In
Originally from Los Angeles, Erika Levy is a classically trained pianist, whose first stage was her childhood bedroom, her first audience a collection of presumably mute stuffed toys. Although Erika has been writing songs for as long as she can remember, it was only following a heart-wrenching divorce in 2018 that she felt compelled to see where they could take her. Erika headed East, landed in New York, and took to the dive bars and open mics, singing her songs, “to a room full of clanking glasses and eclectic strangers”. Back in the Spring of 2022, Erika shared her debut EP, The Bedstuy Tapes, a collection of demos recorded in her Brooklyn apartment. Wasting no time, last month Erika returned with her most ambitious recording to date, her new single, Chicken and Rice.
The track finds Erika joined by a full band, as her piano playing is accompanied by a grand backing of rumbling bass, twanging lead guitar and clattering drums, recalling some of the ambitious retro-pop flourishes of Jonathan Wilson. It’s a testament to Erika’s talents that amongst all that noise it’s still her piano and voice that truly shine, recalling the likes of Rufus Wainwright or Sarah Mary Chadwick, as she wrings emotion out of her instrument and sends it soaring through her vocal cords. Lyrically, the track touches on the idea of hitting your lowest, loneliest ebb, Erika starting out singing of how, “the double-sink just wasn’t for me, the double-whisky got me feeling like I’m not alone, you could have fooled me”, before realising she can pull herself out of it, “I know I’m only knee deep, I’ll get higher once I hit the ground, it just takes a little to find me”. While there’s seemingly little in the diary for the year ahead, and no indication this is anything but a stand-alone single, you surely don’t just throw a song this good into the world unless you intend to make the most of it, consider our appetite whetted, I can’t wait to see what Erika Levy is serving up for her main course.
Chicken and Rice is out now. For more information on Erika Levy visit https://helloimerikalevy.com/.
2. Crosslegged Is The One And Only
Based out of New York, Crosslegged is the project of songwriter and producer Keba Robinson. Keba’s childhood was spent flittering between Pennsylvania and California, taking in a huge variety of music along the way, with everything from reggae to Carole King finding its way into her ears. Since moving to New York, Keba has thrown herself into the creative community, booking shows, running arts organisations and even helping to build the Silent Barn arts space before it was sadly forced to close. After years spent performing around her adopted home, Crosslegged has decided the time is right to get back to releasing her music into the world, a process which began recently with news of the upcoming album, Another Blue, which she previewed recently via the excellent single, Only in The.
Originally recorded as a voice memo that Keba kept coming back to, Only in The was one of the first songs recorded for Another Blue, the track seems to deal with the push-and-pull of our desires, as Keba explains, “I think of the battlefield as your mind, trying to reconcile the push and pull of conflicting urges”. Musically, Only in The is a deliciously creative affair, a rhythm plucked out on a thumb piano, as Keba’s languid guitar lines weave melodies around her playful vocals reminiscent of Coco Rosie or Let’s Eat Grandma. What’s truly exciting here is that with Crosslegged, Keba Robinson seems to be creating something entirely her own, a musical world, a twisting city full of dark corners and bright lights, a sonic metropolis just waiting to be explored.
Another Blue is out January 27th. For more information on Crosslegged visit https://crosslegged.bandcamp.com/.
1. Alison Eales Is Hitting The High Latitudes
Alison Eales has always been a collaborator, whether as a member of Butcher Boy and Glasgow Madrigal or as a guest for the likes of The Just Joans, The Color Wave and Featherfin, she has always served to bring life to music without ever standing in the limelight herself. All that is set to change in March, when Alison teams up with Fika Recordings for the release of her debut album, Mox Nox, a record inspired by sundial mottos and the passing of time. Ahead of the release, this week saw Alison share the first single from the album, Fifty-Five North.
A song Alison described as firmly rooted in Glasgow, Fifty-Five North explores the power of place, how a location can be transformative and overwhelming all at once, the city is even present in the recording itself, with a rhythm track constructed from the sounds of train doors closing, and a melody inspired by the robotic ping of the turnstiles. The resultant track is a perfect fusion of indie-pop and electronica, nodding to bands like Firestations and Stereolab, as it combines glistening vocal lines with glitchy beats and transient synth melodies. Fifty-Five North is a fitting introduction to Alison Eales, not just because of its roots in the city she loves, but also for the confidence it exudes, for while Glasgow is its setting and a major character in the story, Alison is the star. As she sings “this town was the making of me, it’s going to be mine to ruin”, she casts herself almost as the creator of her own destiny, if Glasgow is the, “pantomime heroine”, then Alison Eales is the silver-screen starlet, ready and able to go wherever her dreams will take her.
Header photo is Alison Eales