EP: Yakima – ‘Go Virtually’

Sharpening their steadily developing woozy, lo-fi sound, Glasgow quartet Yakima are set to bring their debut EP Go Virtually into the world on 3rd April. Drawing influence from their love for melodic expression and frenzied sonics, the record flits across boundaries of reality and imagination with its hazy, warm presentation.

Written and recorded in the unusual setting of a drafty gatehouse next to a nearby castle – with a ceiling made entirely of spider webs – the EP lends its echoey feel across six tracks. With production coming from Benji Compston and Jon EE Allan of acclaimed band, Happyness, the quartet’s debut record showcases an array of sounds that vary from upbeat and rock-tinged, to fragile and quiet.

Groovy, upbeat opener ‘It Helped’ establishes the observational lyricism that the band lean towards; looking the uncomfortable reality and battle of quitting smoking right in the eye. Following track ‘Judy’s Lament’ is rooted in the experience of reading about Judy Garland’s insomnia. Eventually turned in to a song about Garland’s imagined feelings about the lack of sleep, it’s a soothing lullaby that stands out as an early highlight for its smooth, quiet vocals.

‘Thanks’ makes way for a sudden spike in energy with it’s guitar-led sonics and melodic vocals, with the wild cut of ‘I’m Happy (In No Way)’ making room for the second high point on the EP, before IT loses itself in the chaotic, improvised outro of ‘Real Time’. Closing track ‘Sheep Boy, Cry Man’ (the title of which draws inspiration from “Cry Rooms” in Japan, where occupants go to relieve stress) is the most somber offering on Go Virtually.

Toying with vocal harmonies and earworm melodies, Yakima’s debut EP is an analytical creation that looks into the complex relationship between what’s right in front of you and what’s in your mind. Influenced by the likes of The Byrds, Elliott Smith, The Beach Boys, Sparklehorse, Low and Duster among so many others, the band still manage to shine with an authentic exuberance that can only be their own.

Yakima’s EP Go Virtually is released on 3rd April. Follow the band on Facebook and Spotify for more updates.

Malvika Padin
@malvika_padin26

Guest Blog: HUSK

To mark Transgender Day Of Visibility – a day to set the tone for every day, show your support, increase equality and stand by trans people to live their lives freely and confidently – trans, non binary artist HUSK talks to us about their experience in the music industry. Dubbed as “the outsider popstar we’ve all been waiting for” and “pretty darn good” by BBC 6 Music, they combine ’80s synth-pop nostalgia with fresh leftfield pop to create their signature sound. 

Find out more below: 

I always get comments about my voice, both good and bad; it’s the first thing people notice. It’s high, it’s low. It’s soulful, it’s raw. It’s trans. Despite the coronavirus disruption, today is Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV), and I’m so proud to be a Trans NB synth-pop musician.

I’ve always been attracted to synth-pop because of its queer history and androgyny. Artists like Grace Jones breaking the gender wall and Erasure, Eurythmics and Bronski Beat challenging vocal expectations that became an iconic symbol of the ’80s. It also has a natural sadness to it, but you can still dance to it. I think that draws a parallel with what it’s like to be a trans musician at the minute.

The difficult parts are well-known. The prejudice of not being booked or featured before listening to what I’m offering. The “I don’t get it” comments about my awesome gender-bending voice. The TERFs and transphobes sending tweets you could do without, and not to mention all the other things that come with being a trans person in society right now.

There’s so many amazing things too.

You’re not confined to societal standards about gender if you’re not conforming anyway. So, you’re a bit more free to write what you love, be your unapologetic self, no matter how many times you have to figure that out. And you get to weed out all those that you’ll ignore when you’re huge! Ha!

It’s really humbling to be representative of such a diverse community. I was once introduced on stage as “an emblem of trans masculinity”, which was terrifying, not to mention inaccurate. I always try to be vocal about my experience and the fact that I’m not a man, I’m just simply not a woman, and I happen to take testosterone.

I’ve been featured in some pretty major BBC 6Music LGBT+ shows, amongst some huge names. This is massively important, not just to me as an artist, but for gender non-conforming people to see. I didn’t have that, and I’ve had to carve out space for someone like me.

You also inherit a community. Allies and other trans people want to see you do well, especially in a world where trans people are vilified for simply existing. Supporting trans people has never been more important.

I’m currently working on my new single campaign for ‘Below The Neck’, which has been supported by Superbia of Manchester Pride, allowing me the freedom to release a high energy, new wave-y synth catchy af pop song. A song that would have otherwise been gathering digital dust on my laptop. It’s also giving others work, including the talented Sugar House and a team of all female radio pluggers.

Now though, we are seeing more and more trans noise. Anohni and Big Freedia are both out trans women of hugely different genres at the top of their game. Half of the artists on AnalogueTrash have trans band members, including the ‘gay metal disco’ from St Lucifer, who are always ridiculously fun to see live. Harvey is making the news in the Midlands and The Spook School are still making their super fun indie pop. Not so long ago, Jordan Grey was up on prime time TV on The Voice and is now on Comedy Central smashing it. And this is HUGE!

I would never change being trans. I would never change being a trans musician. And the industry should support us. Book us. Play us. Listen to us. We have so much to offer. Find out – we’re dying to share it with you!

‘Below The Neck’ is out 3rd April on Spotify, iTunes & Bandcamp. Find HUSK on social media – @husknoise .

Massive thanks to HUSK for talking about their experiences with us! 

Track Of The Day: Sit Down – ‘Quarantine’

Having been blowing us away for a few years now with their immense explosive offerings, and with acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing, Brighton duo Sit Down have now shared a brand new single, inspired by these scary, strange times we currently find ourselves in. Like artists the world over, the duo have had their tour dates and release plans for this year completely written off by the pandemic, and so have written a track venting their feelings of fear and frustration.

Propelled by a frenzied angst-fuelled power, ‘Quarantine’ is filled with scuzzed-out pummelling beats and reverb-strewn whirring hooks, alongside the swirling gritty force of Katie Oldham’s vocals. An intense slice of thrashing garage-punk, oozing a necessary raging energy; it’s the perfect “anthem of the apocalypse”.

Of the track, Katie explains:

We wanted to create something that expresses the frustrations and fears of living through something like this, but also shows the lighter side we can all relate to… This pandemic has bought the world to its knees, and while it’s absolutely terrifying, there is real unity in knowing the entire world is experiencing the same thing all at once. The jokes and memes and art people are making in this time are universally relatable and counters this fear of the unknown with communal understanding. This is our little offering toward that.

Listen to ‘Quarantine’ here:

‘Quarantine’ was released on 20th March, aka ‘Bandcamp Friday’ – a day in which Bandcamp waived all fees for creators to help support them in these difficult times. Guitarist Greg Burns expands: “It was a small gesture, but for struggling artists like us it’s made the world of difference… We’ve both got laid off from our jobs because of this crisis, but thankfully we sold more merch on that one day than I think we have in the last six months of shows combined.

Head on over to Sit Down’s Bandcamp page to support them now.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Video Premiere: Bitch Hunt – ‘Spaceman’

Since first meeting at Roller Derby, London based all queer/non-binary band Bitch Hunt formed at First Timers Fest, and have been going from strength to strength ever since; last October impressing us at GIHE us with their immense live set at The Finsbury. Now, ahead of the release of a split cassette with fellow GIHE faves adults, the band have shared a brand new video.

Filled with catchy, scuzzy hooks, a subtle tongue-in-cheek wit and the gritty deadpan vocals of front person Sian, ‘Spaceman’ is an observational and relatable slice of punk-pop. With Bitch Hunt’s trademark impassioned energy and swirling harmonies, it’s a spot-on reflection on the sickening arrogance of all those cis male ‘splainers and ‘spreaders we so often have to endure in our day to day lives. An uplifting raging anthem inspiring us all to take those men down a peg (or four).

Watch the fantastic new DIY video for ‘Spaceman’ here:

The adults / Bitch Hunt split cassette is out now via For The Sake Of Tapes. Order from Bandcamp.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

 

Track Of The Day: Guitar Gabby and The Txlips – ‘The Dead Pool’

Consistently partnering with Girls Rock Camps internationally and nationally to bring classes about home recording, equipment set up, copyright law and more to young girls setting out to become their own artist, Atlanta based Guitar Gabby and The Txlips‘ mission is to change the narrative in which the music industry showcases women. Here to remind the world that Pussy is Power, they carry just the sort of empowering message we need right now.

Following 2018’s EP ‘Queens Of The New Age’, brand new single ‘The Dead Pool’ is filled with scuzzed out riffs as Gabriella Logan’s seething growl soars, creating a grunge-fuelled impassioned anthem with shades of the likes of Alice In Chains. Oozing a gritty emotion, it’s a ferocious, empowering anthem; a completely necessary angst-driven offering for these strange times. 

 

The Txlips are set to release a new album later this year. In the meantime, you can check out some of their live sessions here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Five Favourites: Why Bonnie

The latest full-band project from Texan artist Blair Howerton, Why Bonnie released their debut Water back in 2018 and have now returned, announcing their upcoming EP Voice Box, set for release next month.

Title track and lead single, ‘Voice Box’, oozes sunny uplifting vibes as shimmering hooks and Howerton’s rich, luscious vocals flow with a soaring emotion; a truly dreamy offering fuzzing with a dazzling, effervescent charm.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Blair, who has shared her “Five Favourites” – five albums that particularly resonate with them. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch Why Bonnie’s new video for ‘Voice Box’ at the bottom of this post.

Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville
I first heard this album in college and haven’t found anything to top it since. I‘d grown up with her big pop hits, but this album was a totally different vibe. She blended that classic ’90s angst with heartfelt sweetness so beautifully and all of the melodies are really subtle yet effective. The whole sound felt very familiar but in an exciting way. I’ve listened to the track ‘Explain It To Me’ maybe a thousand times and I never get sick of it. The album is also really long and has a really good variety of sounds, so I recommend it for anyone that’s currently self isolating!

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
This album will always remind me of my childhood. Out of all of the classic rock albums that I grew up with, this one was the most formative. Stevie Nicks was my idol growing up and we have the same birthday, so I’ve always felt weirdly connected to her. ‘Dreams’ is one of those tracks that will always bring me back to being seven years old on a beach in Galveston, Texas, twirling around with a towel doing my best Stevie impression. Also, that bass line is catchy as hell. 

Dear Nora – Three States: Rarities 1997 – 2007
This was my first introduction to Twee and the genre really resonated with me. This album in particular was sweet and sentimental but still had a fun, kinda sloppy, and whimsical edge to it. It’s poetic but not pretentious, and always puts me in a good mood.

The Breeders – Last Splash
Kim Deal is just a true fucking icon. Last Splash has such a good blend of disjointed scuzzy rock and pop sensibilities, which is something we strive for in our music. It’s the epitome of noise-pop and I believe it paved the way for a whole genre. Obviously we love Pixies as well, but The Breeders really honed in this sound in such a brilliant way.

Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Picking the best Pavement album is like talking about politics or religion with your family at Thanksgiving. Crooked Rain was my first introduction to Pavement, so that’s kind of the main reason for choosing it. What makes this record so special (and inspiring) is really the way they combine (both from a songwriting and performance standpoint) catchy, earworm-y melodies with absolute chaos. Pavement is such a special band because they’re able to mix seemingly contradictory elements into songs that you find yourself humming on a walk, in the grocery store, or waiting for the train. Tongue-in-cheek lyrics that with a beautiful guitar melody, dissonant guitar noise with heartfelt lyrics, or trying to play jazz as a slacker rock band. They remind me that it’s ok to not take yourself too seriously, and in doing that you can end up making music that’s incredibly catchy, inspiring, and meaningful. They kind of invite the listener to apply whatever kind of meaning they want to the songs, and inspire me to write whatever I’m feeling like playing or singing, knowing that it’s ok if a wrong note or nonsense lyric (or several) find their way onto the record. 

Massive thanks to Blair for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Why Bonnie’s new EP Voice Box is out 10th April via Fat Possum Records. Watch the video for the title track:

Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana

Track Of The Day: TOPS – ‘Colder & Closer’

In anticipation of their fourth full length record, Montreal rockers TOPS debut a shimmering new single and music video for ‘Colder & Closer’.

With an atmospheric and dewy soundscape, TOPS showcase a sophisticated and emotive arrangement that is just as groovy as it is lean. With shades of retro ’80s pop and the crispness of modern dream-pop, ‘Colder & Closer’ is a treat to the ears both in its melodies and production. The tone of this single seems to live in the breath of its perfectly decaying delays and echoing reverbs.

TOPS have done a compelling job to musically illustrate the whirlwind of emotions discussed in their lyrics by meticulously mirroring human emotions in every layer of this track.

While alluding to the irony of social distancing and physical closeness to others (a particularly poignant theme right now), TOPS creates a “slip into nostalgia” for listeners with feelings of hesitation met with an eagerness to love throughout the song’s narrative. Nowhere are these thematic perspectives of loneliness discussed explicitly, rather they are implied throughout – seeping from the song’s chilling vocals to the groaning synths.

TOPS have truly elaborated on the artform of their genre in ‘Colder & Closer’ and set a powerful standard for their upcoming LP I Feel Alive.

Directed by Mashie Alam, watch the new video for ‘Colder & Closer’ here:

I Feel Alive, the upcoming album from TOPS, is out 3rd April via Musique TOPS.

Jillian Goyeau
@jillybxxn

Photo Credit: Justin Aranha