WATCH: Meggie Brown – ‘Dusty Smells’

Having already been championed by the likes of Alex Kapranos, and The Guardian – who named them as ‘One To Watch’ at the beginning of 2020 -, North London-based artist Meggie Brown has now shared the first song taken from their upcoming new EP.

Dusty Smells’ is an anthem for anyone wrangling with their identity or trying to find their place in the world. Brown’s delivery is pure poetry, almost like spoken word, as they share a nostalgic take on identity. The lyrics transport us to a trashy old working men’s club, somewhere in suburbia, which allows us to reflect on who we are. It’s proper storytelling, amplified by super-sleazy guitars, primal drums and a trippy, art-rock outro that celebrates little nuggets of our collective memories – like skin on custard and getting all dolled up to show that you’re a fully functioning adult.

There’s such originality here; Brown’s vocals and lyrics sparkle, and the music feels fresh and exciting. When Brown sings “Why do I bother?” it feels like a revelation – something to liberate and inspire anyone who’s ever struggled to fit in.

Of the track, Brown – who recently came out as transgender – explains:

Coming to terms with one’s gender identity has been both beautiful and challenging during this lockdown. When I wrote and recorded ‘Dusty Smells’ and the EP I wanted them to match through sound how non-binary those emotions and realisations were… True to the circumstance, Dusty smells is very nostalgic trying to connect the old ways with the new, the feeling of home, the smells and associations whilst trying to understand our place as young adults, why do we bother?

‘Dusty Smells’ is accompanied by an immersive, artfully created, video, directed by Myfi Mountfordand produced by Creature Fleur. Watch it here:

HOME, the upcoming EP from Meggie Brown, is set for release later this year.

Vic Conway

Track Of The Day: Shannon & The Clams – ‘Year Of The Spider’

God, I love Shannon & The Clams. Channelling the playfulness – and the beehives – of the B52s, along with the sweet and spiky harmonies of the best ’60s girl groups, the Bay Area garage-rockers offer a fresh, fun take on rockabilly, delivered in a beautifully badass 21st century way.

With ‘Year of the Spider’, the second single from their upcoming sixth album, they retain their sense of fun, but there’s a real melancholy too. Underneath the big, bold choruses and cheeky rock ‘n’ roll posturing, front-person Shannon Shaw laments the serious illness of a family member. “Bad news called me on the phone…” – she sings – “The one you love; he needs a doctor. There were signs, I should I have known.”

Shaw’s strong and soulful voice soars, and is boosted further by the Clams’ woozy, psychedelic harmonies and raw, dirty production from the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. It’s a poppy, powerful song that’ll hook you in and break your heart. I love it.

Watch the fun-filled new video for ‘Year Of The Spider’ here:

Shannon & The Clams’ upcoming sixth album, also entitled Year Of The Spider, is set for release 20th August via Easy Eye Sound / Concord. Pre-order here.

Victoria Conway

Photo Credit: Kristin Cofer

Track Of The Day: Fortitude Valley – ‘Cassini’

What is it about the North East that inspires such perfect pop? Following their 2019 debut, Durham’s Fortitude Valley return with an ode to NASA’s Cassini–Huygens satellite. ‘Cassini’ is two and a half minutes of blistering bubblegum punk that’ll have you simultaneously bouncing around your front room, while frantically scrolling back issues of ‘National Geographic’ for more information.

Frontperson Laura Kovic’s lyrics are witty, original and surprisingly heartfelt as she reflects on science’s ultimate rejection of Cassini after years of studying the satellite closely. “I just wanna know what it’s like down there,” she laments. As she sings, her sugary vocals collide ferociously with crunchy guitars and punky, pacey drums, like an astroid.

The band’s sweet, sing-song harmonies buoy Cassini’s impact further and make it clear that Fortitude Valley are something very special indeed. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the band are essentially an indie-pop supergroup with Kovic backed by the brilliant Daniel Ellis and Nathan Stephens Griffin from Onsind and Martha, and Night Flowers’ Greg Ullyart. With an album on the way in the coming months, they’re something to get really excited about. 

‘Cassini’ by Fortitude Valley is out now. Their self-titled debut album will be released on Fika Recordings on 3rd September.

Vic Conway

WATCH: Stars & Rabbit – ‘Merry Alone’

Indonesian duo Stars & Rabbit reflect on isolation in the midst of a global pandemic with their new single ‘Merry Alone‘. Accompanied by a beautiful animated film, which features a character marooned in a candy coloured seashore, it’s an ode to human contact and connectedness.

As you might expect from Star & Rabbit, who are huge in their home country, ‘Merry Alone’ is twee indie-pop perfection. However, Elda Suryani’s otherworldly vocal and Didit Saad’s gentle, swooning guitar give the song a bittersweet quality too, evoking the sadness and longing that enforced solitude brought for so many of us. 

The song’s dream-like quality is cemented further through its lyrics, which ask “would you be, would you be, merry alone with me?”. It all feels beautifully magical, helping you to escape from the chaos and trauma of the last few months to a land of make-believe. It’s the musical equivalent of a big cosy cuddle with the people you love most, and I love it.

On Different Days, the upcoming new album from Stars & Rabbit, is out 25th June via Trapped Animal Records.

Vic Conway