5. Even Orange Trees Want A Holiday
Formed in Edinburgh at the start of 2022, The Orange Trees are the duo of vocalist Rue Marie and multi-instrumentalist, Michael Steele. After forming something of a reputation playing around their home city and across the country in Glasgow, the band made their first step into the recorded form with last month’s debut single, Current State Of Mind. The record has already received airtime on BBC Introducing in Scotland, and with plans for a debut album well underway, this week the band shared their latest single, To Dream of Another Land.
Nodding to the likes of Elvis Depressedly or early Beach House, Dream of Another Land enters on the booming pulse of a drum machine, latterly adorned with a wheezily soaring keyboard and Rue’s honeyed vocal cords. The track doesn’t take you on any wild detours, it seems to just waft into being and then drifts beautifully around you. This isn’t the music of grand revelations, more gentle thoughtfulness, a space for contemplation, “to dream of another land, someplace that we can both understand, no distance or time, just the weight of our hands”. The Orange Trees offer something greater than a flash in the pan, they’ve planted the seeds, and as the spring rolls around, don’t be surprised if they really start to blossom.
To Dream of Another Land is out now. For more information on The Orange Trees visit https://linktr.ee/theorangetrees
4. Ailbhe Will Leave When She’s Good And Reddy
Ailbhe Reddy last appeared on these pages back in September when she announced details of her upcoming album, Endless Affair. The album will arrive in March and is proceeded by a string of high-profile dates on both sides of the Atlantic in the sort of venues that suggest for a series of music executives she’s a talent very much in demand. It was easy to see why this week with the release of her fantastic new single, Last To Leave.
Ailbhe has spoken of the record as charting the shift from youth into young adulthood, the parties fading from view as relationships and the realities of the everyday come swiftly into focus. It’s fitting then, that Last To Leave closes off the first half of the record, it is Ailbhe’s 6am song, it’s full of regret and infatuation, watching the person you don’t even really want to like in the first place, “make a fool of themselves at a party, while knowing you might be doing the same thing“. As with songwriters like Ada Lea or Andy Shauf, Ailbhe’s a keen observer of the human condition, picking up on the minutiae of life, even through an alcohol-stained lens, “your monologue drags in the kitchen, it’s not just your drink you’re spilling, to anybody who will listen”. Set to a backing of hazy organs and steady drums, Ailbhe initially feels only embarrassment for the scenes she is witnessing, yet as the song progresses her sympathy swells with the gorgeous saxophones, perhaps seeing some of herself in the object of her scorn, “it doesn’t have to feel broken, just knock back another one and another one and another one”. The music seems to mirror the song’s theme, as what starts open and gregarious, gradually slides into something more intimate, embarrassment turning to sympathy, even sadness, as Ailbhe’s vocals are gradually left with nothing but a lone guitar for company. Something is striking about the way Ailbhe Reddy constructs a song, a sense of really capturing a feeling that we can probably all recognise, she captures the highs and lows of day-to-day humanity and accepts they’re all part of the package that makes a person who they are.
Endless Affair is out March 17th via MNRK UK. For more information on Ailbhe Reddy visit http://www.ailbhereddy.com/.
3. Eleni Drake Shows Real Guts
A Londoner by birth, last year Eleni Drake made the decision to move to Melbourne, in her own words, “almost on a whim”. Knowing hardly anyone on that side of the planet, she set off in search of an environment where she could be herself, break bad habits and move outside of her comfort zone. That move is writ large on her upcoming second album, Surf The Sun, a record that serves as a tying up of loose ends, a final chapter to a life she desired to move beyond. With the album due out in May via her own Vanilla Sky Recordings label, this week Eleni shared the first single from the album, Guts.
A love song in the most full-rounded fashion, Eleni explains Guts is, “about when someone holds a space for you that makes you feel so full“. This person’s reactions are in contrast to a world where it often feels like you can’t let your true self out, as Eleni recalls, “this specific person made me feel like I could tell them anything and I appreciated every moment I got to spend with them“. Guts is a fitting tribute to that love, a wistful celebration of self-expression, all languid guitars (to my ear reminiscent of the vastly underrated mid-noughties Australian wonders The Sleepy Jackson), and sun-kissed vocals. Despite its open-hearted love, somehow Guts sounds quite sad, the lyrical positivity of words like, “you wanted me to spill my guts on the bench, so you knew how to love every word that I say”, are somehow given away by the delivery that hints at a sombre undertone, a sense of something wonderful that if not lost, is sliding from view. Describing her upcoming album as, “an ode to the sun” might be the most Australian-sounding record ever, yet scratch the surface and there’s a distinctly European melancholy underneath, one that even a smile in the Melbourne sunshine can’t entirely hide from the world.
Surf The Sun is out May 19th via Vanilla Sky Recordings. For more information on Eleni Drake visit https://elenidrake.ffm.to/links.
2. Three Cheers For Kolezanka
Koleżanka is the project of Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Kristina Moore, who has actually appeared on these pages already this year as a member of one of my 23 For 2023, Foyer Red. Returning to her solo project with renewed purpose, Kristina announced a new Koleżanka record at the end of last year, and that record, Alone with the Sound the Mind Makes, will arrive in February via Bar/None Records. Ahead of the album, this week Kristina returned with the first Koleżanka track of the new year, the fittingly titled Cheers!
Despite its outwardly positive title, Cheers! is somewhat more nuanced than clinking glasses, as Kristina explains, “this song is about the exhausting and annihilating loop of social anxiety, in its unfortunate repetition and also the way you become stuck after trauma”. There’s a deliberate angularity to the track, to the point that Kristina recalls, when she was mixing the record with Jonathan Schenke, he suggested removing some of the more distorted moments, “I contemplated it, but I realized I wanted this song to feel uncomfortable. Each movement of this song is very intentional, I hope it says what I needed it to say”. The resultant track is a wonderfully disorienting listen, in some ways, it feels like a pop song, yet it’s warped and manipulated, like finding the sliced-up remains of a musical score, pieced back together by someone trying to reinvent music as you know it. Placing herself in a similar lane to musical visionaries like Kristine Leschper or Cate Le Bon, you get the sense Koleżanka doesn’t always want things to come too easily to her listeners, she wants repeat listens to reveal new nuances, she wants you to feel uncomfortable and to learn to love that feeling. Intriguing, thought-provoking pop music, does it get any better than that? Well, there’s also an excellent cat cameo in the video, so perhaps Kristina Moore really has thought of everything.
Alone With The Sound The Mind Makes is out February 17th via Bar/None Records. For more information on Koleżanka visit https://kolezanka.bandcamp.com/.
1. Bailey Miller Bids Farewell To Love
Based out of possibly the world’s hardest-to-spell city, Cincinnati, Ohio, Bailey Miller only released her debut album in September of last year, when the fantastically otherworldly record, Still Water, landed via the Whited Sepulchre label. Less than six months later, she recently announced her second record, Love Is A Dying. Described as, “a considerably more direct path to intention and meaning”, the album will arrive at the start of next month, and this week Bailey shared its undeniably dark title track.
A lament in the most prosaic sense of the word, Love Is A Dying is a funeral song, an unadulterated reflection on grief for love itself. The track feels like a melding of two great Texan musicians, the free-flowing creativity of Josh T.Pearson and the spine-chilling vocal stylings of Cross Record and Loma vocalist, Emily Cross, two artists whose music is well acquainted with both death and heartache. The song is accompanied by an ever-swelling guitar, there’s a visceral quality to Bailey’s playing, the way it starts off controlled, almost gentle, yet grows in intensity, a spiralling build of emotion and grief that eventually pours forth, an unleashing of anger and pain, raging against the dying light. As the guitars build in intensity, so too do Bailey’s words, what initially feels clouded, struggling to make sense of it all, gradually shifts into focus, at first she longs for it to return, “kiss me like you mean it, meet me on the mountain, maybe we can see it, maybe we can be it”, but ultimately hope gives way, “cuz we no longer believe in hope so naïve what was joy now we grieve”. The track ends with chilling repetition, “love is a dying”, she sings over and again like a mantra, fading slowly into the ever wildening guitars, and then suddenly it’s gone, snapping you into jarring bright silence. This is a song that could be taken many ways, on the one hand, it could be about a specific loss, or perhaps it’s more open-ended than that, a sense that to love is to open yourself up to the possibility of loss, whether that’s via heartbreak or mortality, perhaps the fact love is a dying is a part of what draws us to it in the first place.
Love Is A Dying is out February 10th via Whited Sepulchre Records. For more information on Bailey Miller visit http://www.baileycmiller.com/.
Header photo is Bailey Miller by Vy Pham