here and there festival
Arooj Aftab is a Pakistani composer, songwriter, and performer who resides in Brooklyn and is a GRAMMY® nominee. Her liminal sound floats between classical minimalism and new age, Sufi devotional poetry and electronic trance, jazz structures and states of pure being. The newest product of Aftab, Vulture Prince , has been praised in President Barack Obama’s Summer Playlist , best releases of 2021 lists by The Guardian , Pitchfork , Uncut, 6Music, NPR , TIME , Songlines Magazine and has received unprecedented critical acclaim.
Bartees Leon Cox Jr., who was born in Ipswich, England, to a military father and an opera singer mother, moved about a lot throughout his early years until settling down in Mustang, Oklahoma. Later, while working for the Barack Obama administration and (ultimately) the environmental movement, Bartees got his start performing in hardcore bands in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. Since charting a path as a solo artist, Bartees Strange has released two records in quick succession: an EP reimagining songs by The National (Say Goodbye To Pretty Boy, 2020) and his debut album proper Live Forever (2020).
On new song “Heavy Heart,” Bartees is letting go of the guilt he has felt for years; guilt for his father’s sacrifices to build a better future for his family; guilt for the recent passing of his grandfather; guilt for the time he spends on tour and away from his partner; guilt for experiencing success while everyone else in his life was suffering after the release of Live Forever during the first year of the pandemic. By letting go of those emotions, Bartees hopes to advance forward toward a positive future, appreciating the victories even if life may be heavy and difficult. The track, which is the first preview of new music in two years, is accompanied with a music video that features Bartees prominently and was directed by Missy Dabice. Bartees also proudly dons his father’s and grandfather’s attire as a homage to them, echoing many of the themes of “Heavy Heart.”
In 2017, Azniv Korkejian made a breakthrough as an artist with her careful self-titled debut. Bedouine seemed to prompt a window to open. With striking, direct vocals and simple guitar accompaniment, her folk songs are not so much lullabies as they are imbued with the same loving focus a mother adopts while singing to a child. As soon as possible, called “a contemporary folk classic” by Fader and praised as a “future legend” by The New York Times The mystique of the 1960s is sometimes contradicted by Bedouine’s wholly contemporary lyricism.
Expanding into the cheeky sophomore effort Bird Songs Of A Killjoy In 2019, Korkejian demonstrated her ability to create songs with variety, comedy, and both the soft and thoughtful performances. Repeatedly tapped to support modern folk heroes like Fleet Foxes, Waxahatchee, Kevin Morby, and Father John Misty on tour, witnessing a live performance from Bedouine feels like a sacred thing, a beautiful secret passed among friends. The Times said, “[She’s] the kind of artist one would later want to have seen back then.”
After the lockdown in 2020 led to a canceled stint supporting Mandy Moore, Korkejian began working at home in a newly-designated music room, sifting through old demos and one-offs. She first spent the year in solitude without realizing it, preparing for what would eventually Waysides , a compilation of previous songs, including a cover she jokingly refers to as “LP 2.5.” Given that intimate, in-between feeling, the project will be Bedouine’s first self-release, and it summarizes her creative headspace over the last year and a half, tying together many songwriting threads that act as a prologue of sorts. With more time to focus on the other aspects of self-release, Azniv has been fully involved with the entire scope of the project, from production, to marketing, to video editing, and of course, the songwriting, vocals, and instrumentation.
Waysides represents a moment of reflection and reset for a musician who is still actively seeking how to fully express her sound. Slated for release this coming fall, Korkejian remembers the feeling of “sitting on a mountain of music, a pile of songs” as part of the inspiration for pursuing a self-release. Regarding independently publishing an album, she remarked, “I’ve liked leaning in and demystifying the process a little.” “These songs didn’t make the recordings for one reason or another, and I don’t believe it’s because they’re not good enough. While I didn’t want to ignore them, I also didn’t want to keep drawing from this reservoir. I thus made room for them. It resembles spring cleaning—letting go in order to begin over. It already seems like a prelude to the next album.
In that sense, Waysides The absence of connections between the songs is the thread that ties them together, and they share DNA with songs like Tom Waits’ Orphans. Sonically though, the album is more akin to the simple layers of vocals and guitar on Adrianne Lenker’s 2020 release songs, even if Azniv insists she cultivates more of “a beginner’s mind” when it comes to guitar. She said, “The luxury of time afforded this entire record. “Uncovering the time capsules gives the impression of traveling back in time. If I hadn’t had the opportunity during the epidemic, I doubt I would ever get the chance to accomplish this. It served as my glimmer of hope amid this turmoil and provided me some direction.
Produced and recorded on her own and with Gus Seyffert in Filipinotown and Yucca Valley, Waysides includes appearances from Mike Andrews , who played guitar and mandolin on album standout “This Machine,” Josh Adams on drums, Gabriel Noel on strings for “I Don’t Need The Light,” additional instrumentation from Seyffert across the project, and Azniv on piano, organ, vocals, guitar, and drums (solely on “Sonnet 104”). Some of the songs contain splices of old recordings with new sections added and old fuzz removed, though most of the songs were started by Azniv alone, in the new music room. The product that results is a patchwork quilt that Korkejian and Seyffert, a longtime partner of hers, jointly created. Yes, the songs are nostalgic, but they also exhibit a certain amount of bareness because of the circumstances surrounding last year’s forced solitude.
Anchored by the lead single, “The Wave,” Bedouine once again reveals her uncanny ability to explore the surreal poetics of grief. At the other extreme of the spectrum, “It Wasn’t Me ” suggests a rather Shakespearian comedy of mistakes; this tune refers to the transient nature of close relationships and all the minor details that must be in order for love to function. “This Machine” is a message about resiliency and maintaining oneself after the end of a youthful love, and in a different vein, “I Don’t Need The Light” investigates the relief of accepting depression rather than going through the exhausting effort of battling it.
The sole cover, a take on Fleetwood Mac “Songbird “is an overview of Azniv’s previous year: “In a sense, this song sums up the previous year. Such an abundance of time that I’ve been able to learn different covers, and this was an important song to me around the same time some of these songs were written. It appears to connect the past and present in a new way. The album is a distillation of an artist coming-of-age, grappling with the essential experiences that make a young person grow wiser, and the complicated emotions that most of us have been facing during this global crisis, and even before it began.
Born into an Armenian family in Aleppo, Syria, Korkejian lived briefly in Saudi Arabia until her family won the green card lottery and immigrated to the US, settling in cities including Houston, Texas, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. Attending the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and receiving a BFA in Sound Design, she finally settled in Los Angeles and began to pursue a career as a music editor, working on film and TV projects.
In between her working hours, Azniv began writing songs on guitar, mostly as a leisure activity, until the intermittent jamming turned serious. She started recording her first album entirely on analog tape with her aforementioned regular collaborator, armed with live versions of her stripped-down compositions. George Seyffert The pair developed a creative relationship that was evident on her first album — even more so after its rapturous reception, and demand for the quick, equally well-received follow-up.
Evoking comparisons to savants like Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan and Karen Dalton, Bedouine has become synonymous with the best songwriters of the last few decades, an artist revered among her peers whose work is treasured by her fans — and all those who recognize a precious and rare gift when they hear it. If Waysides is making room for the Bedouin’s next stage of development, then it’s a gift that’s welcome and a portent of things to come.
Superstar is an underdog tale that is very similar to Caroline Rose’s real-life experience. After a years-long struggle to release what would ultimately become 2018’s LONER, deemed “a singular artistic statement from it’s unforgettable album art all the way down” (Pitchfork), Rose found herself in the midst of a new widespread audience, one both delightfully intrigued and perplexed about how and where to place her. This was the starting point of Superstar, together with a refined set of studio techniques and the goal to “create something from nothing.” The polished Hollywood hunks and starlets of yesteryear are long gone. Here is a brazenly eccentric hero, or rather an anti-hero, who is on a mission to achieve fame.
Inspired by cult classics such as The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, Mulholland Drive and the mockumentary Drop Dead Gorgeous, Superstar plays out like a film with a beginning, middle, and an open ending. In the first track of the album, “Nothing’s Impossible,” the lead character makes a misguided phone call from the opulent Chateau Marmont hotel. They (gender neutral pronoun) leave behind everything in quest of a freshly formed destiny, seeing the call as a sign toward a star-studded future.
What follows is a cinematic conundrum in which they alternate between parading along a neon strip in full Saturday Night Fever hip-swing attire and drinking nasty martinis by the run-down apartment complex pool while reflecting on life’s bad events. Rose drew inspiration for her story from the public breakdowns of some well-known celebrities as well as the occasionally blatant aspirations of her own burgeoning ambition. “In my opinion, the satire is in what we’re willing to endure and do in order to succeed. I wanted to take the bits of myself that are often not attractive and turn them into a tale by giving them steroids.
Rose made sure that each track on the album corresponded to a certain chapter of the tale in her brain by working on it in the album’s chronological sequence. Songs that are oozing with self-importance often include vulnerable moments. With raucous assurance, “Feel The Way I Want” guides us through sadness by encouraging us to overcome suffering. Disguised as a Prince-infused bop, “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?” expresses the uncertainty and anxiety that come with seeing a new partner, ending in a full blown freakout of bottled up nervous energy. The darkly comic “Command Z” and the S&M-fueled love ballad “Freak Like Me” finally reveal a frail person coming to grips with their own humanity. Rose sings, “God, I just don’t want it to stop / Undo, I’m going to do it again,” as she surveys the crowd. “Everyone we know will know will eventually be dead,” she continues.
Between the band’s nearly constant touring schedule—which saw them play sold-out headline shows across the nation and abroad and establish themselves as crowd favorites at some of the biggest festivals on the planet—Rose started writing the songs and developing the ideas for a sequel-like follow-up to LONER. “Two years ago, I began traveling with nothing and no idea of whether I would have a career. Then, out of nowhere, we were performing for hundreds of spectators in a town I had never heard of. Everything about it was interesting. I began to wonder, “How much can you really create out of nothing? Rose composed, recorded, and produced Superstar at her 10′ x 12′ home studio and on a mobile setup she’d put up in green rooms while on tour.
A larger, badder, glitter-filled cinematic pop album for weirdos is called Superstar. “At some point, I came to the realization that I won’t fit neatly into any category, and maybe that’s a good thing. With this new album, Rose embraces her position as an outsider forging her own way. Rose’s anti-hero personifies much of what we as casual observers are prone to make fun of, ignore, or despise, but deep down probably desire to be, in a work that is equal parts satire and self-reflection. Someone who, whether justified or not, doesn’t allow others write the story of their own life.
Courtney Barnett transforms regular life’s snippets into complex, captivating works. A deft lyricist and virtuosic guitarist, she is an emblem of millennial wit and one of Australia’s most successful musical exports.
Based for much of her adult life in Melbourne, Barnett first found critical acclaim with 2013’s The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, and broke into the mainstream in 2015 with her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. The record is regarded as a generational classic after receiving multiple awards and the coveted Best New Artist Grammy nomination. Barnett followed her debut with 2017’s Lotta Sea Lice, an acclaimed collaborative record with Kurt Vile, and eschewed the vignettes of her early records on 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, her humid, political sophomore record, which featured the Margaret Atwood-invoking single “Nameless, Faceless”.
Performing at festivals including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Governor’s Ball, Primavera, and Lollapalooza, Barnett is also a formidable live performer. In 2022, Barnett will embark upon 15 dates across North America as part of her self curated touring festival ‘Here And There’, with a rotating line-up featuring many of the most exciting songwriters in music today.
“Ethel Cain’s music defies classification [straddling] a line between alternative rock, folk, pop, and even country,” writes one reviewer of the deep south native and lifelong churchgoer (). Billboard After composing, producing, and mixing her EP by herself Inbred It was produced last year in the basement of a church in Indiana and published to widespread praise. Pitchfork , Paper Mag , The FADER , Line Of Best Fit , NPR , Billboard , NYLON , Vice , Zane Lowe , Youtube , Soundcloud , and Tidal . Serving as Spotify’s first ever transgender EQUAL ambassador Cain is honored to represent her community this year as part of the Created By Women initiative of Spotify and International Women’s Day.
Cain, who Paper Magazine called “tortured and hideously cool,” is also the designer of the gloomy, menacing images that have drawn a devoted following. “With her pop hooks and her visceral world-building, it’s not hard to imagine Cain’s real-world musical cult only getting bigger and more ambitious” (Pitchfork). her much awaited first record, Preacher’s Daughter , will release May 12th.
Faye Webster loves the feeling of a first take: writing a song, then heading to the studio with her band to track it live the very next day. When you listen to the 23-year-old Atlanta songwriter’s poised and plainspoken albums, you can hear why: she channels emotions that are so aching, they seem to be coming into existence at that very moment. Webster writes songs before they have a chance to sound flimsy because she catches the flame before it has a chance to go. The recognizable sound of musicians playing together in a room is combined with intimate, whisper-quiet, home-recorded vocals to create her distinctive sound.
Webster’s most complete incarnation of this musical and emotional alchemy to date is I Know I’m Funny LOL. Webster’s style pulls just as much from the teardrop country songs of the 1970s and the bold personalities of her city’s rap and R&B culture, where she originally found a home on Awful Records, as it does from her 2019 breakthrough and Secretly Canadian debut Atlanta Millionaires Club.
In the two years since Atlanta Millionaire Club, Webster’s profile has steadily risen—as she played festivals like Austin City Limits, Pitchfork, Governors Ball and Bonnaroo and found her way onto none other than Barack Obama’s 2020 year-end list—and she also fell in love. She sounds broader, brighter, and more certain on I Know I’m Funny LOL, which Webster describes as “coming from a less lonely place.”
Hana Vu composes music in her Los Angeles bedroom. She signed to Ghostly International in 2021, leading to the announcement of her full-length debut, Public Storage.
Vu first became interested in music when she learned how to play the guitar her dad had laying around. She’d wake up every day and listen to LA’s ALT 98.7, home to ’90s and ’00s alternative rock; later in high school, she found the local DIY scene. She recalls, “When I was playing around, a lot of my musical peers were in surf rock or punk bands, so I wanted to blend in with them. But what I was listening to at that time [St. Vincent, Sufjan Stevens] was very different from what I performed.”
She began posting a log of her bedroom pop attempts in 2014 when she was 14 years old on Bandcamp. Her sound — brooding, melodic pop driven by guitar and Vu’s distinctive contralto — developed across a series of self-releases, including a low-key Willow Smith collaboration and covers of The Cure and Phil Collins. Gorilla vs. Bear heard Vu’s 2018 song “Crying on the Subway,” and they decided to put her self-produced first EP, How Many Times Have You Driven By, out on their Luminelle Recordings label. Pitchfork, NME, and The Fader were among the first publications to feature the band; the latter made the lighthearted claim that “the seventeen-year-old is cooler than you and me.” She followed it up in 2019 with a double EP named Nicole Kidman / Anne Hathaway on Luminelle.
As a live performer, Vu has supported the likes of Soccer Mommy, Sales, Nilufer Yanya, Wet, Kilo Kish, and Phantogram. Her first album with Ghostly is 2021 LP Public Storage, and she collaborates with co-producer Jackson Phillips for the first time (Day Wave).
Indigo De Souza
Every word must be said. This is the conviction guiding Indigo De Souza’s sophomore album, Any Shape You Take. By pushing through and against each emotion, this dynamic record effectively builds a container for the whole spectrum: “I wanted this album to evoke a sense of accepting change and moving with it. These songs were written at a difficult period when I was struggling with existential crises and changing my viewpoint while learning to love myself.
Faithful to its name, Any Shape You Take Each narrative it tells takes on a different shape to fit its tone. “The album’s name is a reference to the many musical forms I take. I don’t feel that I fully embody any particular genre—all of the music just comes from the universe that is my ever-shifting brain/heart/world,” says Indigo. This sonic range is unified by Indigo’s strikingly confessional and effortless approach to songwriting, a signature first introduced in her debut, self-released LP, I Love My Mom. The songs on these two records were all written quickly after one another, and Indigo sees them as companion pieces that are both unique and in conversation with one another. She says, “Many of the songs on these two records came from the same season in my life and a certain version of myself that I feel much further from now.”
Throughout Any Shape You Take , Indigo reflects on her relationships as she reckons with a deeper need to redefine how to fully inhabit spaces of love and connection. “I feel that it’s very vital to see individuals go through transition. to accept individuals in their many forms, whether or not those forms fit into your life. That is reflected in this album. I have gone through a lot of change in my life, and I am really appreciative of the individuals who have supported me without passing judgment or becoming attached to the skins I’m shedding.
Lead single “Kill Me,” written during the height of a troubled relationship , begins with these words “Take me with you/Kill me gently.” This powerful plea, that begins within the quiet strum of a single electric guitar, is diffused by Indigo’s ironic apathy—a slacker rock nonchalance that refuses to take itself seriously: “I was really tired and fucked up from this relationship and simultaneously so deeply in love with that person in a special way that felt very vast and more real than anything I’d ever experienced.”
The honesty of the lone person at the other end of the table from that irreverent “Hold U,” A more upbeat love ballad with neo soul influences that replaces indifference for sincere caring. “I wrote ‘Hold U’ after I left that heavy season of my life and was learning how to love more simply and functionally. I wanted to create a terribly straightforward love song.
When Indigo was nine years old, she began learning how to play the guitar. She grew up in a conservative tiny town in the mountains of North Carolina. “Music came into my life naturally. Since my father is a Brazilian musician and vocalist who plays bossa nova, I believe I was born with it in my blood. It wasn’t until moving to Asheville, NC that Indigo began to move into her current sound, developing a writing practice that feeds from the currents that surround her: “Sometimes it feels like I am soaking up the energies of people around me and making art from a space that is more a collective body than just my own.”
“Real Pain,” one of the most experimental tracks on the record, is Indigo’s endeavor to purposefully increase collaboration in that phenomenon. Starting soft before dropping down into a cavernous pit of layered screams and cries, “Real Pain” collages the voices of strangers—audio bites Indigo received after posting online asking for “screams, yells and anything else.” “Hearing these voices join together and move with my own was really powerful. For me, the whole album served as a release. And I hope that others may experience the same.
At the forefront of all De Souza’s projects is her magnetism—her unique quality of spirit that is both buoyant and wise. Between albums, her supporting band has changed, but her sound has remained connected to her vision. Any Shape You Take is the first full-length album that Indigo produced herself. collaborating with the executive producer Brad Cook Indigo recorded the album in Betty’s, Sylvan Esso’s studio in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and completed it with extra production and mixing at Drop of Sun Studios in Asheville. (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee, The War on Drugs) with engineers/producers Alex Farrar and Adam McDaniel. Moving past the limitations of a home studio, Indigo could finally embody the full reach of her sound: “It felt really exciting to lean into my pop tendencies more than I have in the past and to trust my intuition to take the songs where I felt they should go. I was equipped with the necessary equipment and had willing partners.
“I feel very much like a shape-shifter with my music, I’m always trying to embody a balance between the existential weight and the overflowing sense of love I feel in the world.” In her Saddle Creek debut, Indigo achieves just this balance. Any Shape You Take. You shed and change shapes with her while you listen to music that gives back.
Any Shape You Take is out on August 27th via Saddle Creek.
Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast decided to title her new album Jubilee as soon as she started composing it. After all, a jubilee is a festival to welcome in the optimism of a new era in vivid technicolor. It is a celebration of the passing of time. Zauner’s first two albums garnered acclaim for the way they grappled with anguish; Psychopomp was written as her mother underwent cancer treatment, while Soft Sounds From Another Planet took the grief she held from her mother‘s death and used it as a conduit to explore the cosmos. Now, at the beginning of a new decade, Japanese Breakfast is prepared to battle for happiness, a resource that is all too precious in our world that seems to be falling apart.
Dead Oceans’ Jubilee was published in June and swiftly rose to prominence, garnering the band a GRAMMY nomination for “Best Alternative Music Album” in addition to its nomination for “Best New Artist.”
The critically acclaimed book Crying in H Mart, which Zauner is now developing for the big picture for MGM’s Orion Pictures, was also published in 2021. An frank, moving memoir of growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and creating her own identity, Crying in H Mart. She also released the original soundtrack to the anticipated video game Sable, which Entertainment Weekly compared to David Bowie’s 1977 masterwork Low and Pitchfork said is “a streamlined glimpse into her versatility as a narrative artist.”
Crushing, the second full-length album by Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin, perfectly captures the meaning of its name. It’s an album made entirely out of emotion; it tells a story of love and tragedy as it happens. And with her storytelling centered on bodies and crossed boundaries and smothering closeness, Crushing reveals how our physical experience of the world shapes and sometimes distorts our inner lives.
According to the Melbourne-based musician, “This record originated from spending two years travelling, being in a relationship, and feeling like I never had any space of my own.” “For a long time I felt like my head was full of fear and my body was just this functional thing that carried me from point A to B, and writing these songs was like rejoining the two.”
The follow-up to her 2016 debut Don’t Let the Kids Win, Crushing finds Jacklin continually acknowledging what’s expected of her, then gracefully rejecting those expectations. Because of Jacklin’s candor regarding her personal experience, the CD encourages self-reflection and the possibility of a change in the listener’s method of traveling the globe.
“I used to be so worried about seeming demanding that I’d put up with anything, which I think is common—you want to be chill and cool, but it ends up taking so much of your emotional energy,” says Jacklin. Instead of merely hiding my sentiments to make things easy for everyone, I’ve become used to speaking out things that I’m uncomfortable with. I’ve learned that speaking up for yourself and expressing what you actually want is necessary for maintaining peace.
Produced by Burke Reid (Courtney Barnett, The Drones) and recorded at The Grove Studios (a bushland hideaway built by INXS’ Garry Gary Beers), Crushing sets Jacklin’s understated defiance against a raw yet luminous sonic backdrop. You can hear every instrument’s tone in every song, as well as my throat and breathing, she claims. It was crucial to me that there be no studio techniques that interfere with your ability to hear anything on the whole album.
Jacklin demonstrates the effectiveness of that strategy on the album’s first song, “Body,” putting on a compelling vocal performance even when she strays into the tiniest whisper. The song, a bluntly crafted portrayal of a breakup, has an often-bracing closeness that makes you feel as if you’re in the same room as Jacklin as she pours her heart out. Additionally, Jacklin introduces Crushing as an album that operates wholly on its own time and a work that is purposefully sluggish as “Body” meanders and drifts.
From there, Crushing shifts into the slow-building urgency of “Head Alone,” a pointed and electrifying anthem of refusal (sample lyric: “I don’t want to be touched all the time/I raised my body up to be mine”). When you’re a woman, in my case a travelling musician, you’re touched differently than your male bandmates—both by complete strangers and by people you know well, says Jacklin. She strives for another kind of emotional liberation on the full-throttle, harmony-stimulated “Pressure to Party.” There is a lot of pressure to behave a specific way after you end a relationship, claims Jacklin. When you take too much time, it’s like, “Oh, you’ve got to take some time for yourself,” but when you don’t, it’s like, “You’ve got to go back out there!” That song is only my three-minute declaration that I will take the necessary action when it is necessary. Crushing also shows Jacklin’s autonomy on songs like “Convention,” an eye-rolling dismissal of unsolicited advice, presented in elegantly sardonic lyrics (“I can tell you won’t sleep well, if you don’t teach me how to do it right”).
On other songs about loss on Crushing, Jacklin applies her rigorous contemplation. “Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You” explores the pain of waning love with its evocative harmonies and slow-burning guitar solo (“I want your mother to be friends with mine/I want this feeling to disappear in time”). Meanwhile, on “Turn Me Down”—an idiosyncratically arranged track embedded with hypnotic guitar tones—Jacklin gives an exquisitely painful glimpse at unrequited devotion (“He took my hand, said I see a bright future/I’m just not sure that you’re in it”). Jacklin, whose middle portion of “Turn Me Down” has a particularly painful vocal performance, said of the song, “That song wrecked me in the studio.” “I recall laying on the floor in a complete stupor between what seemed like endless takes, and if you listen it sort of sounds like I’m losing my mind,” the author said. Additionally, Jacklin delivers her first piano-driven song, “When the Family Flies In,” a wonderfully subdued elegy for the same friend to whom she dedicated Don’t Let the Kids Win. According to Jacklin, “There are truly no words to adequately express what it feels like to lose a buddy.” “Writing a song about it sounded a little cheap, but when this one was performed live, it was ultimately acceptable to record.
Despite its intricacy, Crushing progresses with a grace that mirrors Jacklin’s newly discovered artistic independence. Originally from the Blue Mountains, she grew up on her parents’ Billy Bragg and Doris Day records and sang in musicals as a child, then started writing her own songs in her early 20s. “With the first album I was so nervous and didn’t quite see myself as a musician yet, but after touring for two years, I’ve come to feel like I deserve to be in that space,” she says.
This assurance is evident throughout Crushing in one of the album’s most crucial components: the mesmerizing power of Jacklin’s lyrics. Not only proof of her ingenuity and artistic generosity, Jacklin’s uncompromising specificity and infinitely unpredictable turns of phrase ultimately spring from a certain self-possession in the songwriting process.
According to Jacklin, “As I was recording this album, there was kind of a steady lessening of strain on myself.” “Over the last several years, I’ve experienced some significant changes in my life, and I just found it too exhausting to attempt to conceal them by using many metaphors and wordplay. I only wanted to put it all out there and believe that others may need to hear a little vulnerability, particularly at this sensitive time.
Canadian composer, singer, and musician Leith Ross was born and reared in a tiny community outside of Ottawa, Ontario. Since childhood, they have been an extremely sensitive and creative person, and when they began composing songs at the age of 12, it rapidly became Leith’s favorite method to be overly sensitive and artistic. is still. They have since made two albums, published them, and are working on a third. Inspired by the likes of Lucinda Williams, Dolly Parton, Disney movie soundtracks, High School Musical, and their dad’s horrible parodies of all of the above, their songs attempt to explore themes of gut-wrenching and cheesy love, silliness and extreme existentialism. their preferred items. We’ll Never Have Sex, Leith’s most recent track, is drenched with that “favorite thing” and is available for listening wherever you can find it. Coming Soon To A Live Venue Close To You!
Men I Trust
Hear, ye faithful! We are super thrilled to announce that we will resume touring in N. America this fall for the release of our new and fourth album called “The Untourable Album”. We didn’t anticipate being able to “tour” these songs when we began working on this album in the thick of the worldwide siege. Even though we weren’t necessarily planning to perform these songs live, we wanted to use this occasion to work on fresh and unusual content. We wrote with abandon, as if we were frozen in time with no outside ties. However, due to Dragos’ lengthy recovery period after a motorbike accident, the original release date had to be postponed. Now that the record is nearly ready for release, things are slowly starting to open up again, and the lockdown looks to be a thing of the past. The “Untourable Album” seems to be going on tour after all! Before the CD is complete, we are still working on perfecting the tracks and making the last adjustments. Stay tuned for an official release date that will be announced very shortly. We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing everyone again in person.
Iupiaq and Ahtna Athabascan composer Quinn Christopherson was born, bred, and now resides in Anchorage, Alaska.
On her 2018 debut album Lush, seventeen-year-old Lindsey Jordan sang “I’m in full control / I’m not lost / Even when it’s love / Even when it’s not”. Numerous people connected with her capacity to be many things at once naturally. The contradiction of confidence and vulnerability, power and delicacy, had the impact of a wrecking ball when put to tape. For Jordan, it was an outstanding and unquestionably career-defining event.
Lindsey establishes and defines this trajectory in a blaze of splendor on Valentine, her second album, which will be released on November 5th through Matador. In 10 songs, written over 2019-2020 by Jordan alone, we are taken on an adrenalizing odyssey of genuine originality in an era in which “indie” music has been reduced to gentle, homogenous pop composed mostly by ghost writers. Valentine demonstrates an artist who has opted to take her time by being made with meticulous perfection. In order to provide a deeper comprehension of grief, the lyrics expertly expand on the framework established by Jordan’s first album. The reference points are vast and psychedelically stimulating.
On “Ben Franklin”, the second single of the album, Jordan sings “Moved on, but nothing feels true / Sometimes I hate her just for not being you / Post rehab I’ve been feeling so small / I miss your attention, I wish I could call”. She laments a lost love in this passage, admitting the ephemeral nature of a romantic relationship, and finally alluding to a stint in an Arizona rehab center. This 45-day break came after problems resulting from a youthful life merging with unexpected fortune and popularity. Jordan started tabulating the new album arrangements on paper using just her memory and her imagination since she was not permitted to bring her instruments or recording equipment. Valentine truly began to take on its distinctive form following this decision to make a daring decision.
Jordan brought the foundation of a new record to Durham, North Carolina, along with her newly discovered feeling of serenity and clarity. She collaborated with Brad Cook here (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee). For all the album’s vastness and gravity, it was in this small home studio that Jordan and Cook chipped away over the winter of early 2021 at co-producing a dynamic collection of genre-melding new songs, finishing it triumphantly in the spring. They were assisted by longtime bandmates Ray Brown and Alex Bass, as well as engineer Alex Farrar, with a live string section added later at Spacebomb Studios in Richmond.
The album, which leans more heavily on samples and synths, is supported by a few strikingly nontraditional pop tunes. In the first few seconds of the album’s opening tune and title track, “Valentine,” a hushed voice and a sinister sci-fi synthesizer explode into an energizing chorus that fills whole stadiums. Three songs—”Ben Franklin,” “Forever (Sailing),” and “Madonna”—travel ingeniously to the pinnacles of catchiness. Jordan has always sung with a depth of intensity and conviction, and the climactic pop moments on Valentine are delivered with such a tenet and a darkness and a beauty that’s noisy and guttural, taking on the singularity that usually comes from a veteran artist.
The more delicate moments, like “Light Blue”, “c.et. al,” and “Mia,” capture the album’s diversity and complexity despite how mesmerizing the synth-driven tracks are. On “c. et. al,” Jordan sings with a chilling surety, “Baby blue, I’m so behind / Can’t make sense of the faces in and out of my life / Whirling above our everyday routines / Both buried in issues, baby, honestly.” These more delicate, deftly finger-picked folk melodies scattered throughout the CD are confident in their sophisticated arrangement and subtle in their vocal delivery. Then enter like a breath of fresh air, giving the listener a minute to let their thoughts wander, but they rapidly engulf them in their melodic alchemy and lyrical punch.
Rock tunes with heavy guitar riffs like “Automate,” “Glory,” and “Headlock” brilliantly complete the record. Jordan, who sounds a lot like Lush but with a distinct tone change, once again demonstrates her skill on the guitar with chorus-like solos and rhythmic, wall-of-sound riffs. “Headlock” highlights this pivot with high-pitched dissonance and celestially affected lead parts – “Can’t go out I’m tethered to / Another world where we’re together / Are you lost in it too?”, she sings with grit and fatigue, building so poignantly on her sturdy foundation of out-and-out melancholy. On Valentine, Jordan and Lush take us 100 kilometers further into their universe, leading us under tunnels and around sharp turns to a place we had no idea existed.
Jordan is concentrating on attempting to speed up his recovery today after filming Valentine. The record debuts during such rapid development, on the rich ground of a terrifying bottom-out. Jordan seems alive and alert despite having just had a devastating breakup, a life-altering achievement, and six weeks of therapy. “Mia, don’t cry / I love you forever / But I gotta grow up now / No I can’t keep holding onto you anymore” she sings on the album closer “Mia”. Although she sings quietly, her voice has the might of a hacksaw. The song is lamenting a lost love, saying a somber goodbye, and it closes the door on a bitter cold season for Jordan. Valentine is both a shock and a lovebuzz, leaving potential for a long and historic route.
– Katie Crutchfield
The Beths are from Auckland, New Zealand, which has a thriving and very collaborative music scene. The Breeders, Pixies, Weezer, and Death Cab for Cutie have all used them as opening acts because of their combination of upbeat, sing-along choruses, four-part vocal harmonies, and sardonic, introspective lyrics. Numerous publications, including Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NPR, Stereogum, the A.V. Club, and others praised The Beths’ 2018 first album, “Future Me Hates Me.” The Beths rejoined to compose and record their second album, “Jump Rope Gazers,” after spending 18 months on the road. This dazzling collection of songs deepens and expands on the brilliant talent they shown on their earlier albums. After spending so much time on the road together, the band’s relationships only deepened, and their friendship can be seen in their new music. A Real Thing, the group’s most recent song, is now available through Carpark Records and Ivy League Records.
They Hate Change
In front of the apartment building where they both resided as teenagers, Dre and Vonne first met. Dre (he/him) had just relocated from Rochester, New York, and Vonne (they/them) was attempting to sell him subpar marijuana. The two have always listened to music in a way that is different from how most people do; they are aural omnivores, compulsive deep-divers, and fans of uncommon and outlandish sounds. Starting as kids trawling the internet for tracks, they’ve been collecting music from around the world and across the decades, amassing a shared sonic knowledge so deep that “encyclopedic” barely begins to cover it—not just the East Coast hip-hop that Dre grew up on, or the hyperlocal bass-music variants like jook (the Gulf Coast’s twerkably raunchy answer to house) and crank (think “Miami bass meets NOLA bounce”) that Vonne grew up on, but also drum ‘n’ bass, Chicago footwork, post-punk, prog, grime, krautrock, emo, and basically any genre on the map.
What do we hold on to from our past? What must we let go of in order to advance effectively?
Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, a songwriter who has always been transparent with her fans about where she is at any given time, spent a significant portion of 2018 confronting these issues and going back to her origins in search of solutions. Saint Cloud, a personal trip through the places she’s gone and the people she’s loved, is the outcome.
The album is an uncompromising self-examination that was written as soon as she decided to quit drinking. From a moment of reckoning in Barcelona to a tourist trap in Tennessee to a painful confrontation on Arkadelphia Road, from a nostalgic jaunt down 7th Street in New York City to the Mississippi Gulf, Crutchfield creates a sense of place for her soul-baring tales, a longtime staple of her storytelling.
A change in the sound arrangements also helps to accentuate this unpolished, exposed narrative landscape. While her last two records featured the kind of big guitars, well-honed noise, and battering sounds that characterized her Philadelphia scene and strongly influenced a burgeoning new class of singer-songwriters, Saint Cloud strips back those layers to create space for Crutchfield’s voice and lyrics. The end result is a traditional Americana sound with contemporary elements appropriate for a musician who has established herself as one of the most iconic storytellers of our time.
From the origins of her band name—the beloved creek behind her childhood home—to scene-setting classics like “Noccalula” and “Sparks Fly,” listening to Waxahatchee has always felt like being invited along on a journey with a steely-eyed navigator. Crutchfield gives her trips on Saint Cloud a fresh viewpoint. She adds, in reflection, “I believe all of my recordings are stormy and emotional, but this one seems like it has a little bit of enlightenment. It seems a bit calmer and less impulsive.
As Crutchfield learns to love herself as well as others around her, a lot of the stories on Saint Cloud deal with addiction and the damage it does to ourselves and our loved ones. This coalesces most clearly on “Fire,” which she says was literally written in transit, during a drive over the Mississippi River into West Memphis, and serves as a love song to herself, a paean to moving past shame into a place of unconditional self-acceptance. Everything’s a moving line when Crutchfield sings, “I take it for granted/If I could love you unconditionally/I could smooth out the edges of the darkest sky,” coming from a singer who has spent a long time seeking love elsewhere.
This is not to argue that Crutchfield’s poetry on topics of romantic love is absent from Saint Cloud. Crutchfield discusses what it actually means to be with someone and how it feels to be able to recognize our own patterns more clearly this time around, showing more evidence of her own growth in this area. On “Hell,” she sings: “I hover above like a deity/But you don’t worship me, you don’t worship me/You strip the illusion, you did it well/I’ll put you through hell.”
With the lyrics “Our feet don’t ever touch the ground/Run ourselves ragged town to town/Chasing uncertainty around, a siren sound” and “We leave love behind without a tear or a long goodbye/as we wait for lightning to strike/We are enthralled by the calling of the eye,” Crutchfield also explores what it’s like to be romantically involved with another artist who is looking for their own truth.
Of yet, even when Crutchfield adopts a more nuanced perspective on love, her comfort with unconditional love is still evident in lyrics like “I give it to you all on a dime/I love you until the day I die,” which seem like they were lifted from a vintage torch ballad.
Crutchfield peels back the distortion of electric guitars throughout Saint Cloud’s 11 songs, which were recorded in the summer of 2019 at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, and Long Pond in Stuyvesant, New York, and produced by Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Big Red Machine). This results in a wider sonic palette than on any previous Waxahatchee album. It is a record filled with nods to classic country (like the honky tonk ease of “Can’t Do Much”), folk-inspired tones (heard in the confessional lilt of “St. Cloud”), and distinctly modern touches (like the pulsating minimalism of “Fire”).
To bolster her vision, Crutchfield enlisted Bobby Colombo and Bill Lennox, both of the Detroit-based band Bonny Doon, to serve as her backing band on the record, along with Josh Kaufman (Hiss Golden Messenger, Bonny Light Horseman) on guitar and keyboards and Nick Kinsey (Kevin Morby, Elvis Perkins) on drums and percussion. In addition to accompanying Crutchfield on her lengthy tours, which include US and European dates in 2020, Bonny Doon will also play live music.
Crutchfield embarks on a voyage in Saint Cloud that would take her south in quest of something new, leaving behind her cozy surroundings in Philadelphia and old vices. If on her previous work Crutchfield was out in the storm, she’s now firmly in the eye of it, taking stock of her past with a clear perspective and gathering the strength to carry onward.