5. Foyer Red Are Unionising
One of my top picks for 2023, Foyer Red first appeared into the world with their acclaimed 2021 EP, Zigzag Wombat. Not wanting to rest on their laurels, the Brooklyn band recruited two new members and set about becoming a fixture on the New York music scene, sharing stages with the likes of Why Bonnie, Babehoven and Momma. With the ink on a record deal with Carpark Records barely dry, this week Foyer Red announced a new album, Yarn The Hours Away, due out in May, as well as sharing the latest taste of it, their new single Plumbers Unite.
Exploring the meaning of Plumbers Unite, vocalist Elana Riordan recalls it was inspired by being, “obsessed with my GameCube“, to the point where after entering cheat codes she found herself having, “recurring nightmares about its anger towards me, something I knew was unrealistic but felt so creepy and real”. As is the norm for Foyer Red this ostensibly goofy idea for a song is actually hiding something deeper in between, a comparison of the daily grind with the repetitive nature of a platform game, “always more in queue, let alone my groove, I will not stop without the highest score”. This digital rendering of human desires is set to a suitably playful backing, a surrealist take on art-rock, all stop-start guitars, driving drum rhythms and the sort of technicolour electronic pulses familiar to anyone who owned a Super Nintendo or a Sega Megadrive in the early 90s. Exciting, playful and just the right amount of weird, Foyer Red are a very special band, and with Yarn The Hours Away release this May, don’t be surprised if an awful lot more people start to take notice.
Yarn The Hours Away is out May 19th via Carpark Records. For more information on Foyer Red visit https://www.foyerred.com/.
4. Whitelands Sail Off Into The Setting Sun
One of the great joys of writing a blog about often quite unknown bands is when other people start to notice them. That’s very much the case with London shoegazers Whitelands, a band I’ve been writing about since back in 2018, and now look on the verge of riding shoegaze’s latest revival all the way to the top. Signed to the legendary Sonic Catherdal, they’re popping up on daytime 6Music, getting rave reviews from pretty much every site going and generally taking over the indie-music world, and very well deserved it is too. With new material being drip-fed into the world, this week the band shared their latest single, Setting Sun.
Explaining the inspiration behind the song, songwriter Etienne notes that Setting Sun is, “another song of sadness from the Black diaspora“. The track’s roots come from the George Floyd murder and the reaction that followed, a period they describe as, “one of the most difficult years we had faced being Black“. The title is taken from the so-called sun-down towns in the United States, areas that become all-white neighbourhoods by way of discriminatory laws and intimidation, “places that may not be openly hostile to you, but a Confederacy flag is enough to let you know how welcome you are there“, a feeling mirrored in the UK, with the connotations of patriotism linked to, “a history of oppression and racism“. Musically the track finds Whitelands shifting gears from their dreamier moments into something more openly heavy and urgent, as clattering drums play out beneath bassy-rumbling and rapid slashes of reverberating guitar. The song has the feel of a band wearing their anger at injustice openly, shoegaze not just with something to say, but with something that needs to be said, as Etienne puts it, “it is an unfortunate thing to write about, but as it keeps happening then songs will continue to get written”.
Setting Sun is out now via Sonic Cathedral. For more information on Whitelands visit https://linktr.ee/whitelandsband.
3. Whitney’s Playland Aren’t Begging For Mercy
Another of my 23 For 2023, Whitney’s Playland is the pandemic-era project of two veterans of the San Francisco DIY music scene Inna Showalter and George Tarlson. With the longtime friends subsequently expanding the band to its current four-piece lineup, Whitney’s Playland are set to release their debut album Sunset Sea Breeze later this month as a joint release between Meritorio Records and Paisley Shirt. Ahead of that release this week they shared the latest single from record, Mercy (sadly not a cover of Duffy, but that is something I’d like to hear!).
Mercy is a track that gets straight to the point, as the listener is greeted with a roaring fuzz of guitar and bass that The Jesus And Mary Chain would be proud of, and it doesn’t let up much from there. Cutting through the fog throughout are Inna’s fabulously laid-back vocals, coming across like the middle ground of Colleen Green and Kim Deal, as she almost nonchalantly asks for the forgiveness you almost feel she knows isn’t coming, “mercy, have mercy, let me back in your life, mercy, you could do worse than put me back into your life”. Mercy adds a new string to Whiteny’s Playland’s bow, showing that alongside the dreamy pop cool of their previous singles, they can also pack a fuzzy punch, all boding well for Sunset Sea Breeze being a record you’re not going to want to miss.
Sunset Sea Breeze is out March 17th via Meritorio Records / Paisley Shirt. For more information on Whitney’s Playland visit https://whitneysplayland.bandcamp.com/.
2. feeble little horse Trot Along The Yellow Brick Road
Forged on the thriving DIY scenes of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, feeble little horse are already causing something of a stir across the pond with their 2021 debut album, Hayday showcasing their brand of noisy-pop and catching the ear of everyone from Pitchfork to the New York Times. Having re-pressed the album in October last year via Saddle Creek, the band this week announced their new album, Girl With Fish would arrive this June. Alongside the announcement, feeble little horse also shared the first single from the record, the short and sublime, Tin-Man.
It might clock in at only a fraction over two minutes, yet Tin-Man packs a thematic punch, as vocalist Lydia Slocum explains, “the song is about people who use sadness to control your actions because they know you will sympathize…I have my qualms with this sort of person“. Musically the track represents a different way of writing for the band, with ideas traded online, the track was broken down and put back together again until they were all happy it had reached its final form. The result is an unpredictable and wild ride, recalling the likes of Wednesday or fellow equine enthusiasts Horsegirl, as Slint-like guitars collide with the more laid-back feel of the drums, and the cutting sweetness of the layered vocals, “I found you all rusted and leaky, took him apart and I found nobody, but when I dent you I end up bruised”. With their new-found success, feeble little horse seem to be leaning into and not away from their DIY roots, celebrating the joys of home recording, hanging out with your friends and making the music you want to make, and if it sounds this good, well that’s a very welcome bonus.
Girl With Fish is out June 9th via Saddle Creek. For more information on feeble little horse visit https://linktr.ee/feeblelittlehorse.
1. Jana Horn’s Dreamy New Single
Back in 2021, Jana Horn came crashing to the attention of the musical world with her stark and beautiful debut record, Optimism. Two years on, Jana recently announced her new album, The Window Is The Dream, which has already been described by Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold as, “one of the best ‘singer-songwriter’ – whatever that means – albums in years”. Ahead of the album’s release next month via No Quarter, this week Jana shared the second single from the record, The Dream.
Written, “in the stir of waking”, Jana was instantly struck by The Dream, and its relation to the wider record, “this song was central, maybe a sample of the whole”. The song asks us to question the things we think we know, taking inspiration from a quote by Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector, “a tiny piece of mirror, is always the whole mirror”. The track beautifully captures that moment of waking, where the edges of reality are blurred, the peculiar rhythms and meandering guitars creating a semi-lucid space for lyrical exploration. Atop these ever-shifting musical sands Jana paints a picture of birds flying into windows, and asks what if they know something we don’t, “the last thing I want in this breath of existence is not to throw myself into it, as any bird might stop flying when the window is the dream”. Through provoking and beautiful, Jana Horn’s latest offering seems to offer a glimpse into the mind of its creator, perhaps one even deeper than she realised herself, “there’s this wonderful mystical quality about writing…to uncover something that maybe was waiting to be unwrapped”. I for once can’t wait to rip back the paper on The Window Is The Dream next month, a present to the world just waiting for anyone to give it some time.
The Window Is The Dream is out April 7th via No Quarter. For more information on Jana Horn visit https://lnk.to/janahorn.
Header photo is Jana Horn by Ebru Yildiz