Julien Baker’s Little Oblivions looks poised to rule 2021
Lana Del Rey’s voice and writing as to elevate what could have been merely mediocre into something so inescapably ‘Lana Del Rey.’
Following on from last year’s two singles, ‘It Is What It Is’ and ‘Wheels Roll Home,’ ‘Solstice’ marks the third track to be released from The Antlers’ first album in seven years, Green to Gold, out March 26th. On the surface, it’s a simple track – saccharine sweet instrumentals and falsettos with a simple chorus and sunnily bright images. It feels floaty and carefree, like memories that are filtering in and out without care – images and details sharpen and blur, fade away and blend together. What becomes clear, however, is that the sunshine is somewhat strained and filtered. Peter Silberman is remembering moments of innocence and brightness and simplicity through the filter of difficulty and length and heaviness.
As the song progresses, we get the suggestion of someone scrolling absently through old pictures. They pause from time to time to remember a memory that the picture evokes, then they remember that there’s someone next to them. They turn the image towards the other person, half-smiling, and attempt to tell the story that the image brings to mind, but stop halfway through. It’s suggestive and forlorn, there’s no bitterness, and there isn’t necessarily sadness. But there’s something there, underneath the almost cloying instrumental, that lets itself be known to any listener who has also been reflective and somewhere in between okay and not okay. It’s a fitting track for these pandemic days, whether or not it was written specifically for them, as we sit inside and remember vague memories of what feels like another time. The days pass slowly and quickly all at once, and looking back at the year gone, and the year before, leads us “Winding back down the decade past.”
There’s something sunnily contemplative and delightful on the horizon, with the release of The Antlers’ first album in seven years. And they’re reminding us, without the smug superiority of so many other celebrities who have attempted to distill the idea into a pithy sound-bite, to keep “bright, bright, bright.”
‘Ghosting’ is the fifth single from PINS’ forthcoming album, Hot Slick, due out at the end of May. With it, the Mancunian trio – singer/guitarist Faith Vern, bassist Kyoko Swan, and guitarist Lois MacDonald – cement the band’s movement towards the synth-heavy, disco-esque side of punk. There’s more than a suggestion of St. Vincent’s art-rock eponymous album, and Fat White Family’s dirty disco tracks found on Songs for Our Mothers. No surprise then that the track, and others on the forthcoming album, feature Fat White Family’s Nathan Saoudi on keyboards.
‘Ghosting’ starts off menacingly. The drums drive the affair before the track gains traction and builds into aggressively arpeggiated synth movements with a demanding beat and a simple yet effective bass line grounding it all. It’s hyperactive, unwilling to sit still – the song equivalent of a shaking leg that rocks the whole body. It feels like an incredibly caffeine-driven attempt at staving off a foreboding drunkenness, ever so slightly messy while remaining focused; out of sorts, disorienting, it dips in and out, almost absent-mindedly losing its way halfway through it’s run-time before the anthemically repetitive strains of the chorus kick back in.
‘Ghosting’ is brilliant: infectious and impossible to turn away from, dazzling and overwhelming, the song is akin to glitzy lights being shone into your eyes at point blank range. Coming off the back of the confident swagger of ‘After Hours,’ the jerky, loose fun of ‘Ponytail,’ the anthemic ‘Bad Girls Forever,’ and the darkly propulsive glam-punk of titular ‘Hot Slick,’ ‘Ghosting’ previews an album that should be hotly anticipated by anyone with even a passing interest in what albums may well, and should, take over the airwaves.
An edited version of this review can also be found at giglist.com
‘Hollywood,’ Car Seat Headrest’s latest single from their forthcoming album, Making a Door Less Open, is a curious one. From a purely instrumental standpoint, the track is infectious: guitar riffs and steady drum-beats sit alongside squiggly synth-lines and vocal processing that shudders and shrieks. Tracks …
The Moth Club, in Hackney, London, plays its own undeniable role in every performance that plays out inside its walls. That glittering, golden ceiling. That gold tinsel stage backdrop. Those couched ensconces for the concert-goers tired of standing. It all brings to mind a lounge singer in their mid-60’s still swapping back and forth between Presley, Sinatra, and Crosby. It’s not sleazy, and it’s not dirty, but the room oozes glitzy squalor in the very best way. It’s a room that artists can either embrace, roughening up their sound and removing the polish, or break through and subvert. It’s a room that Tamaryn and support act Some Ember both very much leant into.
It’s the kind of stage, as well, where acts just wander up on stage, with no fanfare and sometimes no attention, and launch right in – exactly what Some Ember did. That first massive hit of bass, laying the foundation for the night’s volume and intensity, came so abruptly to some that the person next to me jumped in their spot from fright. There was a suggestion of the mad scientist in how Some Ember’s’ Dylan Travis took to the stage – a long white lab coat hung from his shoulders, paired with black vinyl or latex gloves (it’s not my job to know which one specifically), his hair slicked back, strands plastered across his forehead. It was an air that Travis complemented with a stage presence where he swayed and slouched across the stage like a character in a gothic theatrical production, fists clenching, hands flying about, every moment imbued with drama. The perfect foil for his intensely bass-fuelled set, off-kilter drum lines flying everywhere with synth chords doing their best to anchor the song so Travis’ vocals could move about as well. At times the songs felt too bare bones on stage, lacking substance beyond thump and shine. The high point, however, was recent single Rift, whose more solid production was able to support the jagged edges of the song more comfortably.
For Tamaryn’s performance, Some Ember’s Dylan Travis ditched the lab coat and gloves and grabbed a guitar, with Tamaryn kicking off songs at the back of the stage on a keyboard before returning to the front of the stage to float her soaring vocals over the tracks. Watching Tamaryn perform, there’s some kind of ridiculous genre multiplication and crossover not just in the music but in the performance. Does synth-gaze-goth-pop exist? Because it almost works to describe the whole thing.
When Tamaryn looks into the crowd, wherever she looks, she manages to look every single person in the eye at once. Such a strong connection with the crowd nullifies the need for any talking, and indeed there is almost none – the occasional thanks more than sufficing. It’s the songs that matter, and with them Tamaryn erases the need to say anything else. There was, however, an inability to break free. The vocals and instrumentation were so laden with reverb and echo and delay that it was rarely possible for Tamaryn to cut through. There were moments when the vocals would reach a register that was able to pierce the sub-bass beat, low synth chords, and incredibly bassy guitar lines. However, attempts at bringing more power and intention into the performance often struggled to push through, and what resulted was a performance with little dynamism but great amounts of heft.
As it all winds down, the band slinks offstage without warning, the audience cheers, there are scattered attempts at starting a cheer for “one more song,” applause rises and falls, and reaches a crescendo as the door re-opens but it’s just someone returning from the bathroom looking for their mate, having missed the end of it all.
An edited version of this review can also be found at giglist.com
The National: Live From New York’s Beacon Theatre/ The National: I Am Easy To Find, Live From New York’s Beacon Theatre
August 23rd saw the release of The National: Live From New York’s Beacon Theatre, an EP, and a concert film under the name The National: I Am Easy To Find, Live From New York’s Beacon Theatre. Catchy. Let’s get this out of the way now, …