If I have a new review or two, it must be Friday, the day that new music drops regularly. So much music and so little time, a delightful conundrum.
First up is Slow Down Molasses, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Only a six-hour drive away from me, in Canada, that makes them practically next-door neighbours.
The press handout for Slow Down Molasses called them post-punk, which nailed it as far as genre names go. They have an exciting blend of grinding crunching guitar soundbites that jump out of intelligent lyrics and pleasant layered synth, driving bass and perfect percussion.
I would drive the six hours to hear them play live. However, in the Covid-19 times that we find ourselves in, I will content myself with listening to them over and over on Apple Music. The single “Street Haunting” was released today, April 9th, via Divine Schism.
Paintroller doesn’t show up as a song title very often; https://genius.com/ only had three songs with paintroller in the title. There will be four as of Friday, April 9, 2021, the music group Hands Down, fronted by Filip Sjögren, will be dropping their new single with the title “Paintroller” on that day.
Sjögren took 2020 off from his vocation as a sound technician and producer to focus on creating music with his band Hands Down, a good call considering how that year unfolded.
The song “Paintroller” builds on the firm foundation of their first single “, Too Late”. “Paintroller” opens with Deep raucous percussive hits that segue into smooth as silk keys and synths, which lead us to the lyrical content. Filip Sjögren tells us, “The song about being coloured by everyone else”, says Sjögren, “and having your own ideas crushed by outside forces. Not feeling very welcome to the party, both in terms of music and society, feeling peer pressure. That’s what inspired the song. I had the whole song done at one point, and then I scrapped the vocal and wrote and recorded a whole new melody and vocal. That demo was called ‘paintroller’, and so that inspired me to write the new lyrics. I have no idea why that demo was called paintroller. But it is a very visual word”.
There are jazz elements woven into the fabric of the song and strings that would not be out of place in a movie soundtrack. “Paintroller” certainly showcases Filip Sjögren’s familiarity with music construction and how to bring all the diverse parts together to create a beautiful song. Well done, Mr Sjögren, well done.
‘Paintroller’will be available to stream from April 9 via Hands Down’s label Youth Recordings. While you wait for that, you can check this out:
I want to introduce you to a piece of paradise via a record album.
The album I am referring to is “Another Day In Paradise” by Vita Bergen. Led by multi-instrumentalist William Hellström, and a supporting cast of Tuva Lodmark, Gustaf Gunér, Patrik Wennberg and Josefin Eklund.
The album opens with the single “Can’t Hold It Much Longer”, a strong opener with vocals that punch through the synth-pop melody. Then Vita Bergen shift gears into second the second song “La Lumiere”. Google translate told me that the title is “The Light”, but that is all I know other than the fact that it sounds like a lovely song.
A shift in gears back to first with the power-pop song in “Hold On Kid”, I would love to see them perform this song live; it is a mover and shaker, and would make a great closer.
The fourth take is “All Is Gold”, a smooth ballad with Tuva Lodmark taking over on vocals. A short vein of gold, but golden just the same.
Vita Bergen shift gears again, and we move to a powerhouse called “Over Now”. This song is a catchy toe-tapping nodding head song. It will make a great earworm.
Tuva takes on the vocals again on track 6, “Falcons”. Her staccato delivery meshes perfectly with the reckless guitar and on again off again synths.
“Lines” is the first of two instrumentals on this album, and it shines and pulls the listener into its orbit, great stuff.
“Marion”, “Bedroom”, and “Slowdown” lead us to the closer and the second instrumental on the album, the title track, “Another Day In Paradise”.
Let me be clear about this, any day you can listen to music that is this good is indeed another day in paradise. Vita Bergan, lead by William Hellström, have moved us into another realm, a bit closer to paradise with the LP “Another Day In Paradise” via Woah Dad Records.
I don’t usually write reviews of song videos, but I am willing to make an exemption with the new video from Wassailer, for the song Ghosts, from his album of the same name.
I’m a sucker for alt-jazz and visually exciting video’s and Ghosts grabbed my attention and a couple of watching’s later I want to watch it again. The song itself is a good listen but married to this video it is mesmerizing. The sax driving the music forward and the rock steady bass lines pulled me into the song ,and the way the footage pulsated entertained my eyes made the video addictive. I am hooked, no intervention required, thank you very much.
The album is out available for streaming, via Empty Street Records.
I am not often left speechless, especially when it comes to me having an opinion about a piece of music. But it has happened, just now. Well, it has been two days of putting the music on endless repeat till my brain cells formed around every nuance, every shimmer and every guitar note.
I am referring to the EP ‘In Waves’ by Franz Kirmann & Roberto Grosso on the label ‘Days Of Being Wild’. The EP doesn’t arrive till April 9 of this year, but the single ‘Saudade” came out on February 12, and I can’t get enough of it.
Franz Kirmann is a seasoned musician and producer with an impressive resume. A rich and diverse background has seen him produce numerous compositions for a variety of high-profile projects, including the score for the BBC/AMC series McMafia and BBC4 Storyville documentary Locked In. Franz Kirmann has been releasing music since 2006, both as a solo artist and with composer/multi-instrumentalist Tom Hodge with their electronic/post-classical crossover project Piano Interrupted. Between 2012 and 2016, Franz released three solo albums and three Piano Interrupted albums (primarily on German label Denovali) and touring around Europe. In 2009, he founded the electronic music label Days Of Being Wild. French producer Franz Kirmann has now teamed up with Italian artist Roberto Grosso to deliver their new single ‘Saudade’, lifted from their forthcoming collaborative EP ‘In Waves’ through Kirmann’s Days Of Being Wild imprint.
The music they have created is the perfect chill recipe. I have put this on repeat and indulged in surfing the internet, working on my hobby of building dioramas and even reading a book. The music ebbs and flows, and there are moments when I have to hit pause on whatever I am doing and focus on the music. Back it up and play that section again. Good, now hit play and repeat. And my day passes with ‘In Waves” moving in and out, around and about. It has been a good listen. Indulge yourself and give this ‘Saudade’ a spin, put April 9 in your calendar and listen to the whole EP ‘In Waves’. You’ll see what I mean once you get their groove going in your headspace.
Here we are, it’s 2021, and new music is coming out in defiance of the remnants of 2020. Some of that music is for quiet moments of reflection. Music that sets aside time to take stock of where we are, and where we are going. Still Corners are one such musical entity; they make music for the times we find ourselves living and their new album Last Exit is coming soon.
Still Corners. That is a decent name for a band. It is easy to read, it is easy to remember, and they use a sensible font. Still Corners, yeah, that’s an alright name. I wonder what is means!
When I do a review of an album, I will usually listen to it a few times to get its feel. Then I read through the lyrics while listening to the music again—then researching begins, reading about the artists and visiting their body of work up to their most recent release. In this case, that album is Last Exit by Still Corners. I got lost in this album, and for two days I listened to it over and over.
I eventually reached this moment, and I am still listening to it while I write. Still Corners got me hooked for several reasons. One is because they sound a bit like another favourite band of mine, Cowboy Junkies, another excellent band name, right! Do yourself a favour and listen to The Last Exit and then check out The Trinity Sessions by the Junkies. The voices of Margo Timmins and Tessa Murray sound similar through my old ears. Still Corners also channel Sergio Leone and the spaghetti western vibe. Rome by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppie also get a nod for being into that vibe.
Enough of that rabbit trail lets talk about The Last Exit. It is good music. Full stop. Tessa Murray and Greg Hughes are consummate musicians whose music has the power to send me to pleasant places. Amid our current world, this type of music is…well, music to my ears. On top of their musicianship, Still Corners also write some right smart lyrics. Tessa explains, “There’s always something at the end of the road, and for us, it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel. We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” It was in this context that songs like “Crying”, “Static”, “Till We Meet Again” were written, reflecting on the impact of isolation and the need for social contact and intimacy.
Last Exit, new music for a new year, check it out at these internet addresses:
Distancer is the new album from Hiatus, which will be released March 12, 2021. The London-based British-Iranian producer has given us ‘Arrival’, a single and video from that album to whet our appetites.
‘Arrival’ is music that haunts, excites and called out for me be hitting the repeat button over and over. The track features a spoken rendition of a poem called ‘The Guest House’ by the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi, words that Cyrus says lend the ‘Arrival’ a powerful message of hope. It also lends ‘Arrival’ a statement that good music transcends time and place. And make no mistake about it, this is good music.
“For me, the poem is about how as humans we are subject to thoughts and feelings that seem beyond our control, the result of animal instincts that connect us to the origins of life on Earth. I find myself bombarded with complex thoughts about my relationship with others and the world around me, many of them judgemental and negative in nature, all of which have their roots in a handful of behaviours that throughout evolution have ensured our survival – paranoia, pride, anger, ambition. But the poem suggests that there is a world outside of the stories of our lives, and though we can never be entirely free of the behaviours that define us as humans, we can connect with something much larger, and find liberation through recognizing that it is us, and we are it.”
It’s a message also conveyed by a stirring video, which features live-action footage shot by Owen Tozer in Tokyo, London and Kathmandu, alongside cosmic animations created by AI artist Nathan Shipley.
“The visuals are created using a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN),” says Nathan, “an algorithm designed to learn and generate patterns. We trained the GAN using images of cells taken through a microscope and also star formations taken through a telescope. This enables the GAN to dream an infinite landscape of new cells and star formations and also morph between the two. This ties back to the message of the poem: showing a connection between our elemental selves and the larger universe, which seems so alien and outside of us, yet which is made of exactly the same stuff, and came from exactly the same place.”
Cyrus began producing electronic music while working as a journalist in London in the early 2000s. In 2005 he was living with his grandmother in Tehran, spending his days working for an Iranian newspaper, his nights sifting through his dad’s old records. On his return to London he began work on ‘Ghost Notes’ (2010), an album featuring samples from many of those same records, and channelling the timeless melancholy of Iranian music. Despite being self-released, the album met with acclaim – tracks like ‘Sightless’ and ‘Insurrection’ received mainstream radio play, the latter voted single of the week on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable on BBC Radio 6 Music.
In 2013 he followed it up with ‘Parklands’, a record featuring several vocal collaborations, including ‘We Can Be Ghosts Now’, the stop-motion video for which won Best Animation at the 2013 UK Music Video Awards. Four years later he released ‘All The Troubled Hearts’ (2017), an album-closing with ‘Delam’, featuring his father reciting and translating old Iranian poems, the story behind which Cyrus recounted in an article for the Guardian.
In 2019 Cyrus was introduced to Faraz Eshgi Sahraei, an accomplished player of a traditional string instrument called the kamancheh, and his wife Malahat, a talented singer, both recently relocated from northern Iran to north London. Over several months, the three met regularly at a studio in Brixton to record the songs that would eventually comprise ‘Distancer’, Cyrus’ fourth album.
As a result, ‘Distancer’ is Hiatus’ most Iranian album so far, crowning a process that began long ago; it also closes with another contribution of Iranian poetry from his father. Yet it is also a record liberated from the melancholy of past releases, channelling instead a sense of awe informed by the meditation, psychedelic experience and reading that in recent years has helped Cyrus deal with bouts of depression. It is a record offering hope at what can feel like a hopeless time, and one perhaps best embodied by Rumi’s closing words on ‘Arrival’:
The dark thought, the shame, the malice:
Meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
I hope you enjoy this album as much as I have. ‘Arrival’ gives a great big shout-out that Hiatus has indeed arrived.
Following on from his ‘12 Songs Of Summer’ project, which has seen him release a new song or remix every month for the past year, Swedish musical troubadour David Alexander aka Summer Heart has now returned to announce the details behind his latest EP ‘Ambitions’, which arrives on 6th November 2020.
Having been performing independently for over eight years, Summer Heart is now signed to the renowned Swedish label Icons Creating Evil Art. With an already impressive roster under their belts, the imprint is set to become a welcome home to the frontman’s breezy and lovable direction.
Much like his work to date, his latest collection looks to take influence and inspiration from his everyday life, which has always given him an extremely down-to-earth and relatable style of writing. Filled with his bright and euphoric aesthetic, each track looks to tell the story of the man behind the name, giving us a more humbled and intimate feel to his direction.
Written between his recent trip to California and his hometown in Malmö, Sweden, the frontman treats us to a blend of personal tales in his lovelife, to just letting himself go and experiencing life as it happens. While singles like ‘Ambitions’ and ‘Black Jeans’ tackle the anxieties and insecurities of what to do next, the EP’s closer ‘Motorcycle’ sees him in renewed spirits, shaking off past experiences and letting himself feel free once again.
But continuing to keep his cards close to his heart, this new release is still filled with all the romantic ventures he is known for. With ‘Good Together’ seeing him pursue that bright and elegant dream-pop sound we all know and love, the EP’s opener ‘Ambitions’ and closer ‘Motorcycle’ act as the bookends for this sweeping new journey. Bringing a sweet and effortless energy throughout, they mark the beginning and end of an emphatic journey that looks to cement the same positive direction that landed him his first record deal.
Speaking about his new collection, he said, “Before going on tour I always make sure to wrap up all the work I have postponed or ignored so I can come back to a blank slate. But since my tour got cancelled it was the first time in my adult life I actually didn’t have anything to do. It was very freeing and I could sit down and think about what I wanted to create and what I had struggled with in the past. I realised I’ve just wanted too much and never really been able to slow down and see things from a different perspective. The EP itself is about having high ambitions and wanting to do so many things at the same time but not always knowing where to put your focus.”
Summer Heart’s new EP ‘Ambitions’ will be available to stream and download from 6th November 2020 via Icons Creating Evil Art.
wassailer – someone who proposes a toast; someone who drinks to the health of success of someone or some venture
Wassailer – the pseudonym of the artist, Will. Formerly of the band Evergreen (previously known as We Were Evergreen), a French alternative indie-electro-pop trio. The band formed in Paris in 2008 but relocated to London, UK, in 2011 and that is were Will now lives and records.
Will honed his skills as a musician through the four EP’s and an LP that We Were Evergreen released, Will now based in Lewisham is finding his own identity influenced by South East London’s jazz and afro scene.
Weaving his style with songs that land somewhere between Irish trad and popular grime, Will tackles a plethora of social malaise and the lack of empathy behind humanity’s behaviour.
Will, as Wassailer, delivers a very forthcoming album. Commenting on it he explains “I’ve managed to tell the story I wanted to tell, the way I wanted to tell it, starting with the newest song I’d produced, and finishing with the eldest and most personal piece I ever wrote… It’s very intimate and very political. I could not have been more honest, clumsy, passionate, very me.”
From the debut single ‘Son’ Wassailer returns to unveil the atmospheric single ‘242’. Accompanying the single “242” is a lyric video featuring Wassailer himself, sitting at the top of a 242 bus, the video overlays with distorted time-lapses of the journey. Commenting on the video, he says: “I went back to East London to shoot some time lapses with my phone, sticking it to the upper deck front window of the actual bus 242. I was obsessed with the raindrops trickling on it at night, creating these psychedelic colour fx with the traffic lights. That’s basically as blurry as what’s going on in my mind most of the time.”
Will is building suspense in anticipation of the release of his solo debut full-length LP, ‘i, the bastard’ which will be released via Empty Streets Records on January 27, 2021. You can get a sneak peek through the links to his singles, see below. I managed to get a preview, and I can honestly say that this is a killer album. January 27, 2021, mark on your calendar and listen to his single till then.