LISTEN: Hannah Cameron – ‘Backsliding’

“I want to teach a lesson I don’t want to learn” Melbourne artist Hannah Cameron reluctantly muses on latest single, ‘Backsliding’. Released via AWAL, this latest offering sees Cameron delicately, yet candidly hold herself accountable for past mistakes.

With a sound described as “indie noir”; Cameron weaves elements of folk, blues and indie in to her music to create her emotive, beguiling sounds. “I want to start a fire just to feel the burn” she sings, over brooding guitar, steady beats, and cinematic strings; pulling listeners in to her vivid narrative.

“In July last year, I wrote a song every day for a week”, Cameron explains. “‘Backsliding’ was the first song to come out of that writing period, and it’s about finding yourself in the same situation or the same relationship over and over again, and realising that it’s a choice you’re making. It’s about taking responsibility and making yourself accountable for your decisions and your actions.”

It’s this self-awareness that marks Cameron as an intriguing, relevant songwriter. When she’s not busy writing and performing her own material, she plays with various Melbourne-based bands and musicians; including On Diamond, Clio, Grand Salvo, Brain Romance, Brian Campeau and Husky Gawenda. These combined experiences prove Cameron’s adaptability, and ingenuity as a musician.

Listen to ‘Backsliding’ below, and follow Hannah Cameron on Spotify and Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Something Leather – ‘Trip To The Sun’

A smouldering, psych-tinged, existential exploration of where we are, vs where we want to be; Brighton three-piece Something Leather are pushing the boundaries with their latest single, ‘Trip To The Sun’. Released via We Can Do It Records, the track is loosely inspired by the the character of Icarus from Greek mythology.

Formed of Phillie Etta Jane (vocals/organ), Greg Pass (guitar) and Mike Nussbaum (drums), Something Leather have been cutting their teeth on the London & Brighton live circuits for a few years now. Their dark creations are a captivating blend of old and new sounds; the vintage organ that Phillie plays combines perfectly with Greg’s distorted guitar noises, and Mike’s rhythmic drum beats.

The band articulately describe the context of new track ‘Trip To The Sun’ as “a sarcastic take on the “Fall of Icarus”. It deals with our constant desire to escape from a deadly routine, and the fear that pushing too far might consume you. It has a frenetic pace, western B-movie shootout feel and layers of post-punk and psychedelia on top.”

Something Leather are set to release their debut EP Midnight Reverie on 17th April, and we’re psyched to hear more of their altruistic, alternative sounds. Listen to ‘Trip To The Sun’ below, and follow Something Leather on Spotify & Facebook for more updates.

Photo credit: Jessie Morgan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Song Sung

Formed of twin sisters Georgina and Una McGeough, Song Sung grew up in Ireland, before moving over to New York a decade ago. Since then, the pair have been dabbling in music software, creating their own atmospheric electronics, and are set to release their debut album later this year. The duo recently worked with David Holmes (Unloved), who co-wrote and produced their EP, I Surrender, along with his bandmate Keefus Ciancia. The pair have previously worked on scores with Holmes too, including The Fall and Killing Eve (for which they won a BAFTA).

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Song Sung to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that influenced their song writing techniques. Check out Sng Sung’s choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for their single ‘Come To The Water’ at the end of this post.

1. Plaid – Reachy Prints
I was at friends exhibition opening one night in Berlin, and Barry Burns from Mogwai was DJing at the after party. He played a mixture of electronic beats, with some IDM. I remember he played ‘Hawkmoth’ and all of a sudden I could no longer hear the person I was talking to. I proceeded to dance my way over to Barry to ask “who is that?”. The entire album is incredible. We had a chance to see Plaid in December at Elsewhere in Brooklyn, which was fantastic.

2. Casino Versus Japan – Whole Numbers Play the Basics
This album was introduced to us a few years ago. It was on heavy rotation during the writing and recording of our album. The dronescapes and lush melodies are exquisite. It’s one of our favourite records.

3. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Our album was made between NYC, Berlin and Belfast and in each of those cities, Jon Hopkins walked with us. It’s a miraculous listen. There is so much emotion and space in this album and there is a real feeling of warmth to it.

4. Boards of Canada – The Campfire Headphase
It’s difficult to choose which BoC album to feature, because we listen to them non-stop. I think The Campfire Headphase album was the one that got the most spins during the making of our album. It was an escape from our dream into another dream. Trans Canada Highway is another escape. The albums are quite different, but there is something unique about siblings making music together.

5. Aphex Twin – I Care Because You Do
I feel like this album was always playing somewhere when we were at art school in Belfast, quite possibly ingrained in the walls of every art school on the planet. It’s haunting, meditative and really emotional. The opening track, ‘Acrid Avid Jam Shred’ gently transports you and captures your attention right until the end of the record. It’s mesmerizing, melancholic and masterful from beginning to end. An absolute favourite.

Listen to Song Song’s EP, I Surrender, here. Follow the band on Spotify & Facebook for more updates.

LISTEN: Swanmeat – ‘Teenage Idol’

Sardonic vocals, grumbling bass lines, and thrashing guitars combine on ‘Teenage Idol’, the latest single from Brighton-based band Swanmeat. The track is a blistering take down of fame, idolatry, and the fleeting nature of both.

Comprised of Owen Bullock (drums), Daniel Cox (guitar), Pippa Jay Rainbird (vocals) and Annabel Whittle (bass), Swanmeat formed in late October of 2018. The band met at college and decided to start making music together when they realised their interests in music and theatrics overlapped.

The raucous ‘Teenage Idol’ is the result of this; as it smacks with sarcasm, frenzied percussion, and chant-worthy lyrics. The four-piece shared their self-titled debut EP in October 2019, and are set to release more music over the coming months. Listen to the ‘Teenage Idol’ below, and follow Swanmeat on Facebook & Bandcamp for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: ELLIS

Released today (3rd April) via Fat Possum Records, Ontario-based artist ELLIS has shared her debut album, Born Again. Filled with graceful vocals, confessional lyrics, and understated melodies; the album shimmers with a sentiment and maturity that shows her growth as a songwriter. We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with ELLIS to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch her video for ‘Embarrassing’ at the end of this post.

 

1. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
I’m pretty sure The Smashing Pumpkins are the coolest band of all time. I love how cinematic this record feels. I love the distorted guitars paired with really pretty vocal melodies. And Billy shreds. I saw them live last summer shortly before I started recording the record, and was like, “I want to be in The Smashing Pumpkins.” I definitely referenced the guitar tone from ‘Mayonaise’ in the studio.

2. Carole King – Tapestry
I’ve been obsessed with this record in the last while. It is just banger after banger, it never stops. I especially love the use of piano in these songs. Piano was my first instrument and after almost exclusively writing on guitar, I was feeling really inspired to go back to the piano while writing Born Again. I also love that Carole didn’t consider herself “a singer” in the beginning, and started out writing songs for other people, and then she comes out with this perfect record – it’s unreal.

3. Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism
This record came out when I was in middle school, and I’ve never gotten bored of it. I think everyone remembers exactly how they felt the first time they listened to Transatlanticism. It knocks the wind out of you. I love the long builds, the repeating phrases, the lyrics that break your heart into a million pieces. Also, the percussion! The drum machines, the tambourines, the tom beats – it’s good.

4. Taylor Swift – Red
Say what you want about Taylor, but she has a way of making me feel so seen. It’s like reading someone’s diary, but it looks a lot like your own. I love how candid she is in her songwriting – there’s no holding back, she just plainly puts it all out there like there’s nothing left to hide. It’s cathartic AND it’s catchy, you can both cry and dance to it and isn’t that amazing? This record in particular hits me hard. I’m pretty sure ‘All Too Well’ is the best breakup song ever written.

5. The Japanese House – Pools To Bathe In
When I was in the process of writing the record I was having a hard time concentrating at home, so I rented this little cabin (if you could even call it that, it was more like a tiny shed!) in the middle of nowhere on Lake Erie to get away and focus. I remember going for long walks down gravel roads just listening to this EP over and over again. The production is so good. I love the layered vocals over the minimalist drum beats, the synth swells, the guitar picking, all the subtle ambiance. It’s just totally beautiful and I found it really inspiring.

Thanks to ELLIS for sharing her favourite albums with us. Order your copy of Born Again here, and follow ELLIS on Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz

LISTEN: Cuntrie & Elsa Carmona – ‘Dear Sadness’

A sweetly sung, 80s inspired new tune; Cuntrie & Elsa Carmona have shared their first collaboration together, titled ‘Dear Sadness’. Accompanied by a video the pair co-directed, the track showcases Cuntrie & Carmona’s beautiful vocal ranges, and their ability to bring an eccentric lightness to a heavy subject.

Speaking about the track, Carmona explains: “Treating sadness as a friend was the inspiration for this song, and the polarity of that. I am a person who cries easily when I get too stressed, and that usually becomes my healing. We wanted to play with the idea of sadness being a Goddess that you pray to. Or turning sadness into a ritual as a way of gaining control. As a teen I actually had my own homemade Barbie voodoo doll…”

The pair’s playful and melancholic tendencies helped to shape ‘Dear Sadness’ into a bitter sweet music video, which Cuntrie says she’s very proud of: “I think we both have been dreaming about doing a video like this, and as soon as we started talking about it we just had to create it. It’s the perfect mixture between mystical, beautiful and silly. We filmed everything ourselves in a friend’s studio. The editing was my absolute favourite part to do.”

Watch the video for ‘Dear Sadness’ below, and follow Cuntrie & Elsa Carmona on Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Ebba G. Ågren

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Mentrix – ‘My Enemy, My Love’

A commanding, altruistic collection of dynamic sounds; vocalist & composer Mentrix has shared her debut album, My Enemy, My Love, via her own label, House of Strength today (April 3rd). It’s a powerful exploration of resilience, independence, and what happens when women are caught between two cultures; each filled with their own flaws and freedoms.

Born in Iran but now based in Berlin, Mentrix (aka Samar Rad) blends her experiences of eastern and western culture, along with traditional Sufi instrumentation to create her beguiling, bold soundscapes. Her extensive travels and multiple influences – from Latin and French Literature, to The Qu’ran and traditional Persian poetry – give her music a diverse and fascinating edge.

One of the most striking elements on My Enemy, My Love, is the sound of the hand-played daf drum; an ancient, traditional frame drum native to Iran. In Sufism, Mentrix explains the instrument is both “a call for the soul to awaken”, and a sound that can communicate “emptiness” and desolation. As she poetically words it, “it’s the dark side and the bright side of the moon in one instrument.” This is personified on cinematic opening track ‘Nature’, and re-enforced with the lyric “We all have a nature that harms us / if we let it”. This duality – the battle between acceptance and choice – is seminal to Mentrix’s music, and it’s what makes her art so compelling.

‘Dreams’ is a beguiling lullaby, showcasing Mentrix’s agile vocal range and more of her instinct for altruistic percussion. The slow-burning, seven minute epic ‘Loyalty’ blazes with ominous electronics, before the intense ‘Longing’ breaks through like a powerful ray of light; inspired by a traditional Mooyeh mourning chant from Lorestan in Iran. Eerie synth textures, assertive lyrics, and marching percussion collide on ‘Walk’. “Trees give fruit / men seek truths / don’t you wonder why nothing changes?” Mentrix extrapolates, before commanding listeners with the instruction: “you need to walk / now, get up”. It’s stands out as one of the most rousing, powerful tracks on the record.

On the eponymous ‘My Enemy, My Love’, layered vocals and pummeling beats flood the track. The title is a reference to Mentrix’s contrasting feelings of being seen as an immigrant and a deserter, but also her love for the country she was born in, and its rich musical heritage. “I am forever attached to my birth place, and my identity and aspirations are very rooted in Iranian culture” Mentrix explains. “Since the West so often portrays Iran in a questionable way, I feel obliged to share its diverse and positive faces to the world.”

This diversity and positivity is felt during the gentle opening of penultimate track ‘Igneous Sun’, which then flows into the searching ‘If’. “If you were not standing in my way / where would I be standing right now?” muses Mentrix over atmospheric beats, and entrancing electronics. With such direct, and intense song-writing talent, it’s hard to imagine anyone blocking Mentrix’s path; but it’s reassuring to hear she challenges those who attempt it.

Multiple aspects of Mentrix’s My Enemy, My Love are rooted in self-autonomy, and the empowerment of women. Session musician Claire Bay plays the ney, while multi-award winning New-York-based mastering engineer Emily Lazar helped to create her vivid recordings. Even the name of Mentrix’s  label – House Of Strength –  is a reference to the “pits” where Iranian men would train to defend themselves against the Mongols. There was no equivalent place for women, and Mentrix is still struck by the need to “fight” this patriarchal structure. She does so by seeking out those who are also self-autonomous, and who are prepared to work alongside her to create her sound; and what a fluid, energetic, refreshing sound it is.

Listen to Mentrix’s debut album My Enemy, My Love on Spotify. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut