Five Favourites: SRSQ

‘Saved for Summer’ is the latest single from American ethereal-pop artist Kennedy Ashlyn – aka SRSQ (pronounced seer-skew), taken from her latest album Ever Crashing. Although Summer may be over, this is the powerful pop anthem we need to get us through the upcoming gloomy winter. Opening with a fun ’80s synth-pop beat followed by a thick lush synth pad and a fuzzy catchy guitar riff, it’s clear from the start that this track is going to have an impact. Full of atmospheric layers and ethereal sounds, a frenzied cacophony builds, but in a way that immerses you completely. Ashlyn’s voice is theatrical and powerful and her eclectic genre-bending style brings to mind artists like Kate Bush and St Vincent. The recurring vocal “oohs” lodge themselves in the ears and stay there all day long. Of the lyrics, Ashlyn explains: “Saved for Summer’ echoes the yearning to escape a depressive miasma, the desperate desire to stop watching life through a window”.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the recent release of Ever Crashing, we caught up with SRSQ to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and be sure to watch the trippy new video for the ‘Saved For Summer’ at the end of this feature.

The Horrors – Primary Colours
This album has consistently been in my top three favourite albums since it came out over a decade ago, which I think might make it my favourite record. I was 15 when it came out, and what really drew me to it was the sound design and guitar tones, which I still think are very unique, but at the time I hadn’t heard anything even close to similar. I remember hearing in an interview that the guitarist actually made a lot of his own pedals, which I had never even heard of at the time. The sound is simultaneously ambient and harsh, and you can definitely hear that influence in my music. I also think the album starts in such an intriguing way and has such a captivating arc, it’s really an enchanting listen. 

Slowdive – Souvlaki
My TAUT bandmate Cash introduced me to this album when I was 19, and it was love at first listen. This album is one of the best examples of how sound itself can be vastly emotional, outside of the songwriting, beyond the lyrics – how the textures and timbres can pull at your heartstrings and reach you in a deep visceral way. I saw them live the following year at the Fox Theater in Oakland, and in between songs they would sometimes break out into this ambient harsh noise, and these were the most beautiful and impactful parts of the performance. They have an uncanny ability to create a synesthesia of sound and feeling, and I don’t think anyone does it better.

Cocteau Twins – Garlands
Though it’s hard to choose, I’m pretty sure this is my favourite Cocteau Twins record. It’s just so driving, and the guitar tones are so perfect – it’s moody and beautiful, and solid from start to finish. Cocteau Twins were (are) my mom’s favourite band, so I listened to them growing up and kind of wrote them off as a teen, assuming it was “mom music.” When I started writing what would become the songs on Remain, my mom heard them and told me I needed to get back into Cocteau Twins, and burned me a few CDs. I obviously fell back in love immediately, and it was an interesting experience being subconsciously familiar with all of the material while still feeling like I was hearing it for the first time. I think it’s super interesting how everyone points out an “obvious Cocteau Twins influence” in Them Are Us Too, but I didn’t actually get back into them until after writing most of the songs on the first record, so that influence was largely subconscious, at least in the songwriting stage. 

Beach House – Bloom 
I honestly think this is a perfect album, I’m not even really sure what else I can say about it. The songwriting, the tones, the production, the mix- all of it is just phenomenal. Every element just shows true mastery of the craft. Cash considered Beach House one of her greatest inspirations for guitar work. I was lucky enough to see them three times while they were touring for this record, and I still remember those shows vividly. One time was at a festival (I don’t remember which) and they performed in front of a sunset over the water. A breathtaking moment. 

The Knife – Deep Cuts
I think a lot of records could have gone into this fifth and final slot, (Loveless and Disintegration come to mind), but I think this one is a little less obvious of an influence, which is why I wanted to touch on it. The Knife have truly some of the most unique and genre-defying sound palettes – what they create is truly their own in every way. The sounds and the songs are strange, but they just work. I also love that they put ‘Heartbeats’ in a commercial, totally blew up, turned the band into an anti-capitalist collective, put out one more record, and then dissolved the project. And when they toured on Shaking the Habitual, they had a bunch of performers onstage, which obscured who “The Knife” actually were, as like a statement about art and celebrity and consumption of artists, and they didn’t play ‘Heartbeats’ – both of which pissed off the audience who only knew them from their commercial success. It’s like the most punk shit I’ve ever heard of. 

Huge thanks to SRSQ for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch the self-directed, wonderfully psychedelic new video for ‘Saved For Summer’ here:

‘Saved For Summer’ is produced by Chris Coady (Beach House, Slowdive). Ever Crashing, the second album from SRSQ, is out now via Dais Records.

Ella Patenall
@ellapatenall

Photo Credit: Nedda Asfari

Track Of The Day: Talking Violet – ‘Indigo’

Ontario four-piece Talking Violet have only released a couple of tracks so far in their career, with both taken from 2018 EP Round Dreams, but that has been enough for them to lodge firmly in our minds here at GIHE as purveyors of the dreamiest of dream pop sounds. For new single, ‘Indigo’, their first release for two years, the band have shown they’re not afraid to lean into the ethereal.

What’s most immediate on first listen is quite how much lead singer Jill Goyeau’s vocals are reminiscent of Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser: those stretched-out vowel sounds, weaving in and around the strummed guitar melodies of the song’s verses, before forming part of the swooping chorus are indicative of someone perfectly attuned to their craft. And what of that chorus; shoe-gaze guitars that creep in on the bridge suddenly and sonically drench the listener, as the rhythm section starts to flurry. Simultaneously controlled, impressionistic and emotional, it speaks to artists who perfectly grasp their chosen genre.  

The dreamy nature of the song is emphasised by Lourdes Lasala’s accompanying video, showing the band almost as a kind of Simpsons-esque family unit, all trying to squeeze on to the same couch, intercut with Jill, alone, singing the lyrics, or close-ups on the fish tank. It’s evocative of the escapism of youth, the closed in nature of the domestic milieu and, appropriately for the song’s title, it’s very purple. Given the band’s name, maybe there’s a theme there. With two more singles and an album promised for the rest of the year, it’ll be fascinating to see where on the rainbow Talking Violet turn up next.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

Photo Credit: Lourdes R. Lasala

Guest Playlist: Temples Of Youth

Covid 19 and the necessary restrictions surrounding it have brought about a number of cancellations of music events, including what would have been Get In Her Ears’ very first festival. It would have taken place on Saturday, 18th July, and was set to be a pretty special day, filled with some of our favourite female and non binary artists. Fingers crossed we can finally make it happen next year.

One of the bands set to play was total faves Temples Of Youth. Captivating us with their hypnotic, musically rich neo-pop and majestic, emotion-strewn splendour, the Winchester duo have charmed us live at The Finsbury more than once and we were very much looking forward to hosting them again.

In the absence of our festival, and any gigs, at the moment, Jo from the band has put together a playlist of songs that have shaped her songwriting, and written a few words about the inspirations behind Temples Of Youth. Have a read, and listen, below!

Inspiration…

As I sit to write this a few days after my 30th birthday, I can’t quite get my head around the fact that Temples of Youth is already five years old. I don’t know where that time has gone – it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had.

So often in life, we are reaching for the next achievement, trying to make each one bigger and better than the last. I find this is so prevalent in the music industry, with something you worked so hard on becoming “irrelevant” so quickly. It’s a tough place to be – overcrowded, competitive and at times, disheartening. It is important to take a step back, and to reflect on what you have already achieved, and take note of its value.

Paul and I came together with a shared interest in starting something new, and whilst our influences have grown and changed, our ethic has stayed the same. We write for us, we play for us, and we hope that people will find something to connect with.  Paul is very driven by sound and the feel of a track, where as I find myself drawn to the lyrics and the vocal melody – so we make a good team.

Our inspirations are hard to pinpoint – from ’80s dream-pop, to grungier sounds and modern US indie bands, plus art and film soundtracks. To give you an idea, we’ve curated a playlist of some of the tracks that have shaped the way we write, and we hope you enjoy listening to it.

We’re currently working on recording our third EP remotely, and I think it’s the best thing we’ve done so far. We always hope these things won’t be released to ‘disappear’; forgetting that they can’t.

Listen to Temples Of Youth’s playlist below, and also make sure you check out their spellbinding latest single ‘Silver Cross‘ now. 

FIVE FAVOURITES: TWEN

Nashville-via-Boston duo Twen are gearing up to support Seattle rockers TacoCat tomorrow night at Hackney’s Moth Club (29th Aug), and we’re convinced their celestial, angular sounds will impress their London crowd. Comprised of Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones, Twen came to life over the space of two years as the duo toured the Boston DIY punk scene. Now, they’re getting ready to share their debut album Awestruck, which is set for release on 20th September via Frenchkiss.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Jane to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to Twen’s track ‘Baptism’ at the end of this post.

1. Central Heating – Heatwave
This is a classic that has stayed with me since I was 14. Before streaming, I would check out CDs at the library and rip them into my iTunes library. I found Heatwave while trying to listen to every funk/disco band I could find (thinking I could somehow listen to the whole genre). This whole album has a playfulness that packs some serious joy. The title track is the star of the show; the vocals are so strangely melodic but carry major rhythmic weight. I just love the concept of making people groove out with a vocal melody rather than the beat. Also the most silly and beautiful intro and outro I have yet encountered. James Guthrie (of Pink Floyd The Wall fame) produced this album, which I don’t really care about but something to note.

2. Bibio – À tout à l’heure 
I put this song on a mixed CD I made for Ian when we were sophomores in college. We would make so many mixes for each other, a different type of language than our early awkward convos. I would meticulously decorate them with sharpies and would spend hours deciding how to make the perfect “flow”. This was a song I found out he loved too, and he even knew how to play them to my amazement. The beyond beautiful and intricate finger-picking is so delicate but this song is a BANGER. The beat and funky bass line pair perfect with the acoustic layers and nonsensical lyrics (“À tout à l’heure”, French for “see you later”). There is such emotional and hypnotic value to this song, without making logical sense of it. Bibio still and always will have the best production sounds on the block, mixing analog and digital to make more of a sound tapestry than just a mere song.

3. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Los Vegas
I found out about Cocteau Twins through my friend Matt, who DJ’d a college radio show called “Folk U” with me for two years. We had inherited the show and both slowly started to move out of the genre till Death Grips was playing. He played ‘Cherry-colored Funk’ and I nearly lost my damn mind, I had never heard anything so perfect. I read once that Elizabeth Fraser’s voice was ‘the voice of God’ and I don’t dispute it. Her ingenious melodies put me in a trance and make me feel like I’m understanding something outside words. Also, I have sweet memories with this album since it was one of the few albums I brought with me on an iPod on a trip to Iceland. I had gone by myself after college to camp 10 days in June when it’s daylight 22 hours a day (the only way I felt safe to camp by myself). I brought an old ass iPod that only had room for a few albums and this one of them. So, I listened the shit out of it while looking at the insane Icelandic landscape and I still love it.

4. Lijadu Sisters – Horizon Unlimited 
I had first heard the Lijadu sisters while working in a vegetarian restaurant in St. Louis, where I’m from. I had just moved back home for a quick quarter-life crisis. The owner and chef, Bay would sometimes make the playlists for the restaurant and loved blasting Lijadu Sisters. Being surrounded by an inspiring woman with a fountain of culinary creativity and listening to this album most days made a hard time a little less unbearable. The power of music. The beats and melodic riffs will make any day great and the two sisters feel exponentially BIG singing in unison. I really enjoy listening to music in different languages, it makes me notice the melodies better and the variety of vocal sounds possible that aren’t even used in English.

5. Mercyful Fate – Melissa 
I’m not super metal literate, but Mercyful Fate is THE metal band in my little world. On a tour probably a year ago (I only remember it was cold outside, they all start to blend together) a sound guy played this in the venue after the lights went on, probably to make everyone leave. A classic move. It made me want to STAY and to find out everything. Better known as King Diamond, this was his first band and Melissa is their first album. The vocal range is inhuman and the diversity of sounds that merely one person can make is an inspiration. Also I was raised Catholic, so hearing about covens and satanic rituals brings me a twisted joy.

Thanks to Jane for sharing their five favourites with us! Follow TWEN on Facebook for more updates.

Photo credit: Alexa Viscius