Track Of The Day: Half Waif – ‘Sodium & Cigarettes’

Sodium & Cigarettes’ is the latest single from Half Waif’s forthcoming album Mythopoetics, set for release next month.

Half Waif is the creation of New York based artist Nandi Rose whose ethereal vocals sail somewhere in the gap between Phoebe Bridgers, Kate Bush, and Sinead O’Connor. Producer Zubin Hensler makes the most of her unique talent, stripping the production right back to its bare bones and allowing Rose’s voice to be the star of the show. Rose has commented that Mythopoetics is the album she has been trying to make for ten years: “My voice is changing, and my confidence has reached a point where I feel that I can sing however I want; I’ve finally come to a place where I don’t have to conform to what I think other people want it to sound like”. ‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is an incredible showcase for her newfound confidence.

A simple solo piano accompanies Rose’s tenuous vocal through the opening verse as the lyrics ponder “Do I deserve what’s coming to me?”, but this is ultimately a song of hope. The vocal gathers in strength and resilience throughout as Rose declares in the chorus “okay, give it another day”, giving a sense of needing to take a breath before re-entering the fray – a sentiment which will no doubt be familiar to listeners exhausted by Trump-era politics, the pandemic, and an endlessly grim 24 hour news cycle. Rose implores the listener to keep looking to the future.

As the song progresses, gentle reverb-laden backing vocals swell in the background as if powering up to meet the challenge, sparse staccato synths pepper the final verses as if waking up, and the resonance of a church organ fills the delicate space beneath Rose’s vocal. The track ends with Rose challenging the listener – “Is it too late now to start running?” – her tenuous vocal taking on ever more strength and depth as she uses a vocal effect reminiscent of The Japanese House. 

‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is a song of hope, a challenge to us all to re-energise and take up the fight, a subtle and gentle awakening in the face of exhaustion and malaise.

‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is taken from Half Waif’s fourth album Mythopoetics, set for release on 9th July via ANTI-.

Kate Sullivan

Photo Credit:  Ali Cherkis

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

Track Of The Day: Bad Waitress – ‘Strawberry Milkshake’

Following 2018’s EP Party Bangers, Toronto-based Bad Waitress have now announced their debut album. Ahead of the album’s release this autumn, the band have now shared a fiery new single.

An eerily raging anthem, ‘Strawberry Milkshake‘ blasts into the ears with its scuzzy, pulsating hooks and thrashing beats, as Kali-Ann Butala’s raw, seething vocals soar with a swirling, riotous power, reminiscent of the legendary Brody Dalle. Propelled by a gritty energy and frenzied, empowering drive, it’s a wonderfully sinister – hell-raisingly raucous yet fuzzily catchy – punk-fuelled anthem. Of the track, the band comment:

“‘Strawberry Milkshake’ is saccharine sweet, milky pink terror. On the surface it’s sexy and enticing – but there’s a poisonous sludge bubbling just beneath. It paints the picture of an all-American beauty pageant with buckets of blood as the cherry on top.

Watch the zombie-filled new video for ‘Strawberry Milkshake’ now:

No Taste, the debut album from Bad Waitress, is set for release 3rd September via Royal Mountain.

Mari Lane

Photo Credit: Kate Dockeray 

LISTEN: Venus Grrrls – ‘Hate Me’

After much critical acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1, BBC Introducing, and Radio X for their previous releases including ‘Goth Girl‘, Leeds band Venus Grrrls are back with another angry bop that’ll help you release some pent-up rage. 

The song explores the consequences of unvoiced emotions and lack of communication, delving into “the internal complexities this can cause, and explores the desire to have clarity and closure.” A very relatable situation which makes the question demanded in the chorus “Why do you hate me honey?” very cathartic to scream along to.

‘Hate Me’ is a danceable, angry song that makes you want to sway in the verses and pogo during the chorus. These two ends are held together by the consistency of lead singer Grace Kelly’s powerful, smooth vocals. The drums and rhythm section bring a frenzied energy when needed and the transitions between this and the more swayable verses are seamless. The gorgeous creeping bassline, perfectly matched with the vocals, grips listeners from the get-go and manages to be both punchy and melodious. The synths bring the song to another level sonically without being distracting or gimmicky. Perfect for this riot grrrl-inspired number.

So, do yourself a favour and listen to ‘Hate Me’ by Venus Grrrls. In fact, put it on repeat.

‘Hate Me’ is out now via Monomyth Records.