LISTEN: Tess Parks – ‘Happy Birthday Forever’

Toronto-born, London-based singer-songwriter Tess Parks has announced the release of her long-awaited new album ‘And Those Who Were Seen Dancing, her first full-length solo offering since her much-loved debut album, Blood Hot, was released back in 2013. Since then, she has toured internationally and collaborated with Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe in recent years (most recently the duo’s self-titled 2018 LP). Taken from the upcoming album, Parks has now shared the first single and video, ‘Happy Birthday Forever‘.

Flowing with a retro early ’90s vibe, with shades of the ’60s inspired Shoegaze and Madchester genres, it has a distinctly Happy Mondays feel to my (only slightly old) pair of ears. Those familiar with Tess Parks’ voice will find her beautifully hazy vocals perfectly suited to the track’s danceable groove and spacey beats, as a sophisticated slice of shimmering psych-pop is created.

The video perfectly mirrors the timelessness of the track; featuring home-recordings of Parks at ballet classes as a child, accompanying the immersive refrain of “get me out of here”. Both song and video are ‘en-pointe’ and an enticing taster for the upcoming album, as the single fades out with a captivating allure on the promising lines “You oughta shake your world”…

And Those Who Were Seen Dancing, the upcoming album from Tess Parks, is set for release on 20th May via Fuzz Club.

Fi Ni Aicead

Photo Credit: Luz Gullardo

EP: Sophie Kilburn – ‘My Room Made Public’

Sophie Kilburn is a London based, Derbyshire born singer-songwriter who merges a classic rock vibe with a modern alt-pop twist. My Room Made Public is her debut EP, featuring four tracks with an emphasis on digging deep to ask how much of our lives we should share with the world. 

Self-empowerment is a theme that runs throughout. Each track scratches the surface on different aspects we share and how we deal with the challenges life throws at us. For example, stirring opener ‘Movements’, with its driving guitar and percussive synth with shades of later Fleetwood Mac (“you’re the wildstar on my fan poster”) reflects on the acceptance that a relationship is over, whilst ‘I’m In love With My Therapist‘ – with its slow rock beat, and soulful refrain of “gotta get out of here” – explores the claustrophobia of self-analysis, using classic ’80s pop-rock sounds.

Although ‘Ruthless’ is a slightly more uptempo dance-pop track (although the lyrics deal with being unsure of oneself), the collection ends on a more reflective note with ‘Under The Heat’ – an emotionally open exploration of the social pressures of misogyny: “Under the heat, since I was young… My voice is strong enough to speak on its own.” That is the message of this EP as a whole; finding your voice and your place in the world, and having fun while you do it. And what is particularly clever is how it uses an old school classic sound to reflect modern pressures in this social media age, all delivered through Sophie’s exquisite, powerful vocals and poignant, emotional lyricism. It is both relatable and catchy, so let it be your therapy.

My Room Made Public is out now. Listen here.

Fi Ni Aicead

Photo Credit: Percy Walker-Smith

ALBUM: Lunatraktors – ‘The Missing Star’

Alt-folk duo Lunatraktors are a collaboration between choreographer and percussionist Carli Jefferson and non-binary vocalist and composer Clair Le Couteur. Lunatraktors re-imagine folk, mixing tonal percussion, tap-dance and harmonic singing with whistles, drones and analogue synth. Labelling what they do as ‘Broken Folk’, and set on working against the often misogynistic undercurrents of traditional folk music, they are now set to release their second album The Missing Star. Following acclaim from the likes of Mojo Magazine for 2019’s This Is Broken Folk, the latest release features thirteen tracks, poignantly drawing on eight hundred years of British and Irish traditional song.

Opener, ‘Rigs Of The Times’, reworks a traditional song with polemical lyrics about Brexit and Covid 19, as does ‘The Unquiet Grave’ – reflecting on the tragic consequences of government austerity on one woman’s life. Title track, ‘The Missing Star’ is a theatrical and satirical protest song on the subject of toxic nationalism.

However, the politics are personal as well as political. Woven throughout the album are quieter ballads, and unsettling instrumental pieces. The haunting ‘My Witch’, ‘The Keening’, and ‘The Blacksmith’ take poetry and song from the traditional, effectively rendering them through the power of voice alone. This is where you see Lunatraktors’ power in storytelling, with Clair’s voice taking on the different characters, allowing each to tell their unique story. A cover of ‘Lover, Lover, Lover’ (Leonard Cohen) featuring close harmonies and percussion, provides another direction on the album, as does the closing track ‘Ecclesiastes 1:1-18’, a prophetic reflection on life’s travails.

The Missing Star is an intriguing and innovative album. In its clever reworking of old and new, what endures still resonates – love, betrayal, loss, corruption. Stories of our common humanity beyond borders and time are told with a beautifully stirring musicality and striking emotion.

Watch the poignant new video for ‘Rigs Of The Times’ – which has featured on the new Electric Muse boxset – here:

The Missing Star is out on Monday, 21st June – fittingly for an album oozing such sparkling majesty, the Summer Solstice. Pre-order and find out more here.

Fi Ni Aicead

Photo Credit: Peter Campbell-Saunders

LISTEN: Alice Mary – ‘Too Much’

Alice Mary is an indie-pop musician living in East London who makes music combining a mixture of electronics, guitar, and introspective lyrics. Following 2017’s I Am Here EP and charming us live at The Amersham Arms a few years back, she has now shared new single ‘Too Much’. A tight pop production with Prince-inspired synths and guitars, it fuses together pulsing samples and angular vocal melodies. With additional production and drums from Alex Walker and a pumping bass line from George Kerridge, it’s upbeat, playful music with a darker subtext.
Infectious and full of energy, it begins with the excitement of a new relationship, which we hear in the ’80s–style sampling and the funky guitar sound (reminiscent of a Prince classic), yet the vulnerability starts to come through in the second verse (“I’m an island of unrest…”). The contrast in the chorus between “too much of a good thing” and “you’ll never be enough” perfectly sums up the song’s themes of sex and anxiety. Like all good pop songs, it is relatable, capturing the nerves and expectations of being intimate with someone new, all in a succinct rush.

We’re off to a good start with this song, the first of four singles to be released this year from Alice. We can’t wait to hear more of her heartfelt, shimmering sounds.

‘Too Much’ is out now. Keep your eyes peeled for a brand new live video, set for release on 24th May.

Fi Ni Aicead