EP: Maria Kelly – ‘Notes To Self’

Notes to Self is the new EP from Maria Kelly, an Irish alt–folk artist now based in Berlin. It features four songs dealing with themes of holding on, hiding behind, letting go and how we must do all three in order to move on. All were inspired by a diary Maria kept documenting her feelings on relocating to a new country.

Opener, ‘Prelude’, sets the mood with Maria’s soft, melodic vocals, acoustic guitar and a lovely production which blends delicate synth sounds, enhancing the song and opening it up. It sums up the feelings of holding onto memories, as the song builds up and ends on the words “replay it”. ‘june’ is an intimate communication poignantly capturing feelings of restlessness – “does the city feel this crowded to you?” 

‘july’ is confessional, conveying the idea that we are ultimately in control of how we feel, and must take responsibility for what we choose to dwell on. Building to a lovely lyrical chorus – “… don’t fight it, hold on tight” – the pace and pitch of the music and voice blend perfectly into the powerful emotional ending. 


Closing track, ‘a
ugust’, is my favourite, showing Maria coming out the other side, and taking a new direction. More uptempo than the previous songs (“the taste of something new, something I can hold on to, something that isn’t you”), the electric guitar brings it to life juxtaposed with Maria’s gracefully soaring and cooing vocals; the sound of falling in love.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas, but I do want this EP. Overall, the production is superb, never interfering with the delicate beauty of Maria’s song craft. If ever you have felt isolated and vulnerable, these songs capture the mood beautifully, bringing you heartwarming introspection and the feeling that everything will be all right in the end.

notes to self is out on 7th December 2018 via Veta Records.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

EP: Hanya – ‘I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t’

Demonic and dangerous, sorrowful and tormented; such are said to be the properties of the Japanese mask after which Hanya name themselves. It too, makes a pretty good description of this first EP from the Brighton two-piece.

The mix of sounds created by the pair – originally the solo project of Heather Sheret before being joined by drummer Jack Watkins – has grown over time and through the course of I Used To Love You, Now I Dont mixes together a range of 90s influences from shoegaze to Britpop, while remaining fresh.

Opening with the simple, if awkward, strum and percussive shimmer of Old/Newover four minutes the track builds through layers of reverb-laden vocal, and guitar riffs that begin as Britpop chimes and twist into shoegaze distortion.

Radiois a glowing ember of a track, drifting upwards into the endless dark, turning slowly and filling you with ominous gloom. Sherets vocals are a honey laced with vinegar as the soft drawl becomes sharp yowl. Of the track Sheret has explained: ‘Radio’ was written at a time of big stomach churning foreboding for me. It reflects thinking that something external can help at a time like that, like moving somewhere new, meeting someone, stupid vices, anything that we reach out for to give us some feeling that shitty times can be fixed.

 

In this track are the real echoes of shoegaze as spiralling riffs conjure forth Mazzy Star and Slowdive. You spiral with it, sinking into its depths, but it lacks the awe of those influences – something made up for on Honey.

This starts off the same way, the gloop and gloom pulls you in but rather than cycling this way throughout, Watkins drumming picks up part way through; a percussive foil for that soft-echoing vocal, pinning down the bolshier guitar.

Closer Trust Fund Babysteps away in tone being a far more upbeat number, closer to Salad and Sounds From The City era PJ Harvey. It rattles along with more jangle than distortion, with a bite in the lyric as much as a shimmer to the percussion.

Hanya build a sound which belies their two-piece set up and as a debut I Used To Love You, Now I Dont is full of promise; an understated addition to established genres.

I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t is out now via Leisure Records. Listen here. And make sure you catch Hanya live for us at The Finsbury on 14th December, along with Fightmilk, Handsome Eric and Candy Cane!

Sarah Lay
@sarahlay

EP: L.A. Witch – ‘Octubre’

With All Hallows Eve just a couple of weeks in the past, West Coast garage trio L.A. Witch bring us the appropriately named Octubre. Physically released on what the band have dubbed ‘Halloween Orange’ vinyl with a cover depicting a spider web background behind a bat perched on a headless torso, the EP combines five – mostly unreleased – tracks whose lifeless bodies have been reanimated and reworked by the band and producer Gregg Foreman.  

The record kicks off with thumping, distorted drums courtesy of percussionist Ellie English. Just at the point where the doom starts to get a little too creepy, ‘Haunting’ snaps into its sludgey bass (from Irita Pai) interspersed with top-line cymbals. Spry-sounding guitars moan all the way up the mix, enveloping Sade Sanchez’ slurred vocals like a dense fog, before a non-lyrical chorus of sharp chords shines through. The layers build as the song continues, its broken guitar effects repetitively flickering between shadow and light.

 

‘Sleep’ is a more upbeat Western style stomper, replete with a hooky tremolo lick and Sade’s old-timely croon – “Ooh baby, where did you go?” she intones. The track’s honky-tonk piano helps it capture the gothic tendencies of the Bad Old West until the ringing alarm of its middle eight leads into a surf-style guitar solo and a coda of the song’s chorus.

Next up, old style ballad with a whirly organ swing in its verses, ‘BB’s Momma’ is a deceptively simple slice of garage. On its opening half, Sade sounds like a laconic Wanda Jackson, whereas its second is a freak-out jam, combining bubbly guitar, piano thrash and stabs from the organ. Something in its jarring repetition and lyrical nihilism brings forth Murder Ballads era Bad Seeds.

Penultimate effort, ‘Heart of Darkness’, is the only track previously released – taken from a 2013 self-titled and self-released EP. Largely acoustic, it mostly consists of guitar and bass, with a single bass drum acting like a clarion, and some heavily distorted vocals. It’s another Western-esque take, as though Joseph Conrad’s tale of ivory greed and insanity has been transported to the West Coast in the 1800s, Colonel Kurtz and all.  

The EP closes with the appropriately named ‘Outro’. Also led by acoustic guitar, its waves of picked notes dovetail with electric feedback that creaks like seagulls, and ultimately winds up resembling Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’. And before you know it, it’s flown by.

Designed as more of a teaser of where the band might go in the future than necessarily a glimpse of a future output, L.A. Witch have crafted an EP that does more than just satisfy the completists. Whereas the band’s eponymous debut dealt in a straightforward blend of garage and rock ‘n’ roll, Octubre suggests a willingness to tell stories, switch up styles and blend layers of sound. And, with the nights getting colder, darker and mistier, perhaps it’s November that heralds the season of L.A. Witch.

Octubre is out now via Suicide Squeeze Records.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

EP: Projector – ‘How Does It Feel?’

A visceral, grunge-infused exploration of love, loss and anxiety; How Does It Feel? is the knockout debut from Brighton trio Projector. Released via Roadkill Records on 9th November, the four track EP showcases the band’s ability to fuse nostalgic 90s noise with crushingly relatable modern sensibilities.

Recent single ‘Full Circle’ is an impressive opening track, and Bassist Lucy’s vocal range is beautifully showcased here. Switching between coarse, gravelly screams and clear, magnetic harmonies; her voice is enviably distinctive. Drummer Demelza’s beats drive the song to its conclusion, alongside Edward’s spiraling guitar sounds. It bleeds in to ‘I Am Shamed’, which is a raging onslaught of furious, fx-soaked riffs. Edward’s vocals take center stage here, giving the track an urgent, manic dimension.

The band’s earlier single ‘Break Your Own Heart’ is just as infectious after multiple listens. It’s a thundering, three and a half minute blur of aggressive, melodic sound. Closing track ‘Let Me’ is an ode to mutual self-destruction. “Let me ruin you, I’ll let you ruin me too” sings Lucy, an invitation that’s underscored by brooding bass lines and more of Demelza’s perfect percussion. It bookends a brief but blistering record that’s been crafted with aggressive intricacy.

So, ‘How Does It Feel’ listening to Projector’s debut EP? It feels pretty fucking good. We recommend you invest your listening time in the Brighton trio, and that you catch them live at Moth Club on 10th November. Tickets are available on DICE now.

Order your copy of ‘How Does It Feel?’ here. Follow Projector on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Jessie Morgan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: Barrie – ‘Singles’

The list of famous Barries in pop music essentially extends to one very short (if pretty successful) list of Messrs White, Manilow and Gibb. Newly added to that list are the five people who make up synth-rock combo Barrie, led by songwriter and lead vocalist Barrie Lindsay. Although based in New York, the group are a diverse bunch with three Americans (Barrie, Spurge and Noah), a Brit (drummer Dom, formerly of Is Tropical) and Brazilian (bassist Sabine). Originating from the songs written by Barrie as a solo performer, the group largely came together through Brooklyn’s The Lot online radio – before finding Sabine through an ad on a dating app. Their new EP, released on sky-blue 12” and tape cassette, brings together the bands’ three singles to date, coupled with remixes by FaltyDL and Shura (‘Canyons’), and Brother Michael (‘Michigan’).

First single, ‘Canyons’, originally released in February, kicks things off. Drops of bass act as a counter-point to funk guitar and sparkling top-note synths that dovetail with Barrie’s icicle vocals. As the track’s instrumentation spins into multiple layers, the sounds move towards shimmering dream-pop but with something chilly underpinning it, like an autumn evening on a beach.  

Second single ‘Tal Uno’ follows, arpeggiated and sweet, like an ’80s prom-night slowie, conjuring up images of frilly dresses and spinning glitter-balls. The key, again, is the gentle synths and their blend, contrasting with the song’s vocals – although here the rhythm section step up to flow closer to pop territory. If Tiffany had a cool older sister who made synthwave, then ‘Tal Uno’ is what she’d sound like. ‘Michigan’ completes the move into pop, verging on soft-rock with its nagging, hooky drum-machine and picked guitar. The synths are used here to offer a background melody, with vocals that are warmer, breathier and more vibrant on top.

In interviews, Barrie have said that their sound is a “future longing for hopeful nostalgia” and a reflection of the band’s qualities as “eclectic, accomplished [and] confident”. And it’s hard to disagree when the group’s first EP arrives sounding quite so polished and ice-cool. Between the chill vocals and imagist lyrics by their lead singer, the multiple layers of intricate percussion and infectious melodies, the group’s chill-synth soft-rock stylings prove that Barrie are truly ready to enter the pantheon of pop.

Singles is out now via Winspear.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

EP: Emily Magpie – ‘Be Your Own Light’

Following her last release The Witching Hour, Be Your Own Light is the introspective latest EP from Bristol based solo artist Emily Magpie.

Although the opening track ‘Last Train’ deals with the pain of loss and heartbreak, the narrative takes a reflective approach. The emotional analysis lies within not only Magpie’s expressive vocals which soar high for the chorus, but also within the subtle flowing heartbeat of the musical layers. Gentle imagery of raindrops down a glass pane sit within the subconscious as a twinkling soundscape is created. 

Static energy eases us into ‘Stranger’ which contrasts with the sound of nature which sits quietly in the background. “I’m a feral childMagpie sings as though she is telling us – her confidants – down the telephone. Although she has just told us she is feral, it is hard to believe due to such a gentle landscape being created in the soft beats.

‘Stranger’ paves the way for the title track of the EP which seems to serve two purposes contained within its simmering synths and velvety soft bass. The first purpose being just for the simple joy of entertainment through music, but this could also be combined with an aid to meditation; the gentle sway of Magpie’s dreamy vocals forcing you to focus upon the message of finding happiness within your own self.

It’s seems the message behind the EP is that Be(ing) Your Own Light is not only the key to happiness, but also what makes us all uniquely beautiful. A message that is perfectly summed up in closing track, the brilliantly seductive ‘Things I’d Do?’.

Be Your Own Light is out now. Stream on Spotify or buy on iTunes.

Nicky Lee-Delisle
@Nicky___Lee

EP: Weekend Recovery – ‘In The Mourning’

One of GIHE faves is stumbling back out of their debauched weekend state to bring a banging follow-up EP to the album, Get What You Came For, which came out earlier in the year. Indeed it’s so, the Kentonian punk-pop four-piece Weekend Recovery is back with four brand new tunes and EP, In the Mourning, to get pulses racing.

The crunchy, clashy guitars on opening track, ‘Bite Your Tongue’ pull you in from the get-go, setting the track up for a metal song only to be answered with lilting vocals and the walk-down riff from one of Pearl Thompson’s sordid nightmares, switching back to a Buckethead dream out of nowhere. It’s brill and sets the EP up perfectly.

With the following track being the EP’s title one, it’s in prime position to become one you keep going back to. Weekend Recovery have stuck to their guns, to what they’re good at, producing up-tempo, gurgling-guitar, persistent percussion and wickedly crooned hits. ‘In The Mourning’ may well be the highlight track.

After that comes a pair of great songs that take a different path, one that might hint towards what will be next from the band whose stage presence has rocked us and The Finsbury to its core. On the one hand, ‘On My Knees’ is the EP’s track that most sounds like it would have also made a fab track on the album. On the other, closing track ‘I’m Not That Girl’ is a maudlin, lamenting rock ballad with damn inspiring near-country harmonies throughout its chorus that, not gonna lie, makes us excitedly ponder, “What’s next?”.

In The Mourning, the new EP from Weekend Recovery, is out 27th September.

Em Burfitt
@fenderqueer