Posted on Friday 25th June 2021 at 16:56
What a week for new music! We've been searching out some of the latest tracks, EPs and albums so you don't have to. Highlights include John Grant, LoneLady, ISLAND and Saint Sister. Read and hear more below!
Produced by longtime friend Cate Le Bon, 'Boy from Michigan' is Grant’s most autobiographical and melodic work to date. Grant stopped being a boy in Michigan aged twelve, when his family moved to Denver, Colorado, shifting rust to bible belt, a further vantage point to watch collective dreams unravel. Across 12 tracks, Grant lays out his past for careful cross-examination. In a decade of making records by himself, he has playfully experimented with mood, texture and sound, all the better for actualizing the seriousness of his thoughts. At one end of his musical rainbow, he is the battle-scarred piano-man, at the other, a robust electronic auteur. 'Boy from Michigan' seamlessly marries both. With Le Bon at the helm, Grant pared back his zingers, maximizing the emotional impact of the melodies. A clarinet forms the bedrock of a song. One pre-chorus feels lifted from vintage Human League. There is a saxophone solo. Boy from Michigan ultimately swings between ambient and progressive, calm and livid.
The album’s narrative journey opens with Grant at his artistic prettiest, three songs drawn from his pre-Denver life (the Michigan Trilogy, as Grant calls them): the title track, “The Rusty Bull,” and “County Fair.” Each draws the listener in to a specific sense of place, before untangling its significance with a rich cast-list of local characters, often symbolizing the uncultivated faith of childhood. Elsewhere, tracks like “Mike and Julie” and “The Cruise Room” offer an affecting plunge deep into Grant’s late teenage years in Denver, while the midpoint of the album is highlighted by “Best in Me” and “Rhetorical Figure,” a pair of skittish, scholarly dance tunes that build on the lineage of Grant’s electropop heroes, Devo. Childhood as a horror narrative is the theme of “Dandy Star,” which observes a tiny Grant watching the Mia Farrow horror movie ‘See No Evil’ on an old family TV set, and finally on “The Only Baby” (released this January) Grant removes his razor blade from a pocket to cleanly slit the throat of Trump’s America, authoring a scathing epitaph to an era of acute national exposition.
'Former Things' is the follow up to acclaimed 2015 album Hinterland which garnered praise from The Guardian, The Quietus, The Financial Times and more. The soundworld of 'Former Things' was entirely crafted by LoneLady during her time spent in Somerset House Studios Rifle Range, an 18th century shooting range that has now been adapted into an experimental performance space. The album was inspired by a seismic move for LoneLady who left her native Manchester, decamping to London’s Somerset House Studios in search of a new cityscape to inspire her poised machine funk.
Island return with their second album 'Yesterday Park' on tastemaker NYC label Frenchkiss Records. 'Yesterday Park' is an album about nostalgia, that feeling of looking back, not to one specific time or place but rather the feeling associated with the hazy blur of childhood and teenage memories. The songs cover a lot of different themes, but at their heart they all stem from formative memories. The album was recorded with producer Mikko Gordon (Thom Yorke, Arcade Fire). Introducing new textures, instrumentation and recording techniques allowed the band to better create that reflective feeling they were aiming for. They drew a lot of influence from the 90s, and particularly beat-driven 90s hip-hop which inspired a lot of the grooves in the album.
'Where I Should End' is the sophomore album release from Saint Sister, recorded with Rían Trench in The Meadow, Co. Wicklow, and mixed in Berlin with Benedikt MacIsaac.
Written on and off the tour cycle of their debut album 'Where I Should End' seeks to find meaning in a world that doesn’t stand still. Doherty and MacIntyre challenged themselves to create a distinctive and audible shift in their sound. There’s a playfulness, a messiness that was never there before and where vulnerability is laid out in broad daylight, subtle jokes pierce the darkness. Retaining layered, folk-driven harmonies in shared verses and the bones of traditional music in melodies, they go bigger with the instrumentation; adding synths, drum machines and electronic pulses to reflect the lives that they lead.