West Palms, Florida ensemble, The Band in Heaven recently released their debut LP Caught In a Summer Swell – a sprawling sonic exploration of the sweaty season. One of the things I love about music is that whatever the bands intention, one can transport the meaning – however loosely, to soundtrack their own life and their own world view. And sometimes these moments collide. Standout track Young and Dumb has been on repeat this week, partly because it taps into my own feelings and interpretation of my experiences, partly because the lyrical content is a mournful riposte to lost hope, and partly because it’s a humdinger of a song that builds simply but evocatively, whilst remonstrating, tugging on heartstrings and finally blowing up into a good ol’ ballsy romp.
Vancouver’s We Are The City released their second LP, Violent, earlier this year, and in this humble writer’s opinion should be a lot better known than they are. They create experimental rock that never feels too experimental because they have an ear for melody and an eye for fleeting beauty. Each song feels like it has been tenderly crafted into an expansive, soulful sound with just the right amount of quirk. The album highlight, Friends Hurt, is another song that evokes the happiness of childhood memories and the sadness of age, but it’s strangely uplifting, and musically and lyrically combines to create a blissed out empathy that screams – ‘it’s all ok’. Plus, I love a bit of good enunciation and lead singer Cayne McKenzie’s is impressive.
Brighton’s Cold Crows Dead create what they term as ‘bleak pop’. Their single Ghost That Burned Your House Down sounds a little bit like what might happen if Mercury Rev and the Polyphonic Spree had a party, and decided to take a shitload of downers – but it is anything but bleak. It’s a charming vignette that bounces along with bells and all, before Cold Crows Dead show their dark underbelly as the song draws to an end. Their debut album is out in December, and we’re pretty excited about it.
Staying in Brighton, A Lily has just dropped The Sparrow In The Lemon Tree. The song was premiered alongside the video, and like cheese and, well, pretty much everything else, the two are best enjoyed together. It’s fucking stunning, if you don’t shed a tear or two watching the beauty of love and music combine, then you might just have died inside already. The Sparrow In The Lemon Tree feels much more like a piece of music than simply a song; for it is the sum of it’s parts that make it so affecting. On their own the Banjo, Cello and Violin sound bewitching; combine them with ethereal vocals and modern electronics and the result is majestic – it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Watch the video, NOW.
Going slightly further afield – London, to be precise – this week saw Devil’s Eyes by PARLOUR hit soundcloud. I do not know what is in the water, but some great shoegaze influenced stuff is coming out of our fair capital city at the moment, and PARLOUR are up there amongst the best. Devil’s Eyes has two distinct gears; the dreamy, hazy opening with a big, deep bass groove unexpectedly becomes a runaway train, sped-up and agitated as it hurtles towards the end of the song as though it cannot come soon enough, before PARLOUR strip it all back again to leave us in a lovely fuzz.
It may not be a matter of design, but some songs seem perfect for doing certain things. Junip’s Walking Lightly is one of those songs best played with your headphones on, and whilst it is perhaps a little obvious, it also happens to be a great walking song. It has an undeniable swagger, so put those headphones on, put this song on, go for a wander and walk tall.