EP: Yakima – ‘Go Virtually’

Sharpening their steadily developing woozy, lo-fi sound, Glasgow quartet Yakima are set to bring their debut EP Go Virtually into the world on 3rd April. Drawing influence from their love for melodic expression and frenzied sonics, the record flits across boundaries of reality and imagination with its hazy, warm presentation.

Written and recorded in the unusual setting of a drafty gatehouse next to a nearby castle – with a ceiling made entirely of spider webs – the EP lends its echoey feel across six tracks. With production coming from Benji Compston and Jon EE Allan of acclaimed band, Happyness, the quartet’s debut record showcases an array of sounds that vary from upbeat and rock-tinged, to fragile and quiet.

Groovy, upbeat opener ‘It Helped’ establishes the observational lyricism that the band lean towards; looking the uncomfortable reality and battle of quitting smoking right in the eye. Following track ‘Judy’s Lament’ is rooted in the experience of reading about Judy Garland’s insomnia. Eventually turned in to a song about Garland’s imagined feelings about the lack of sleep, it’s a soothing lullaby that stands out as an early highlight for its smooth, quiet vocals.

‘Thanks’ makes way for a sudden spike in energy with it’s guitar-led sonics and melodic vocals, with the wild cut of ‘I’m Happy (In No Way)’ making room for the second high point on the EP, before IT loses itself in the chaotic, improvised outro of ‘Real Time’. Closing track ‘Sheep Boy, Cry Man’ (the title of which draws inspiration from “Cry Rooms” in Japan, where occupants go to relieve stress) is the most somber offering on Go Virtually.

Toying with vocal harmonies and earworm melodies, Yakima’s debut EP is an analytical creation that looks into the complex relationship between what’s right in front of you and what’s in your mind. Influenced by the likes of The Byrds, Elliott Smith, The Beach Boys, Sparklehorse, Low and Duster among so many others, the band still manage to shine with an authentic exuberance that can only be their own.

Yakima’s EP Go Virtually is released on 3rd April. Follow the band on Facebook and Spotify for more updates.

Malvika Padin
@malvika_padin26

EP: Stars and Rabbit – ‘Rainbow Aisle’

Stars and Rabbit will take you places. The perfect antidote to our stressful, fast-moving world, the duo, lda Suryani and guitarist Didit Saad offer lush, dreamy escapism on their new album, Rainbow Aisle. The album’s kitsch, happy tunes and sweet, sweet melodies transport you to a psychedelic world of rainbows, unicorns and sparkly booze. It’s a world of pure joy that makes the every day seem amazing.

Quirky opener ‘Little Mischievous’ draws you in with its crunchy, Foo Fighters-esque guitars. An ode to shaking off the shackles of good behaviour, the song criss-crosses between rock ‘n’ roll and slow, languishing dream-pop. 

Meanwhile standout ‘Any Day In The Park’ is an irresistible slice of ’60s-style pop. Saad’s retro guitars set the tone for Suryani’s distinctive vocals, which celebrate the simple pleasure of a day outdoors. “There is so much heart at the park,” she sings, bathed in beautiful, happy harmonies.

‘Illusory Utopia’ feels similarly retro. A slow, jazzy dream of a song, it’s boosted by sugar-coated keyboards and “ba-ba-ba” backing vocals that make you shimmy in your seat, longing for sunny days and super-strong cocktails.

‘I Don’t Wish To Carry You Anymore’ is more melancholic, but no less beautiful. A torch song reflecting on a break-up, its simple, stripped back guitars place Suryani’s beautiful vocal front and centre. And then there’s a proper ‘wave your lighter in the air’ moment, as she sings, “Oh, Dear, I miss you too…”, boosted by swooning backing vocals. It’s epic and beautiful.

Already building a following in their native Indonesia, Stars and Rabbit hope to make an impact internationally with this record. And they’ve certainly made one on me. Rainbow Aisle is going to soundtrack my summer.

Rainbow Aisle is out now on Green Island Music.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Robby Suharlim

Erica Freas releases new EP ‘Young’

A moving ode to friends and loved ones; Bristol-based, Olympia-born songwriter Erica Freas has shared her latest EP, Young. Released via Specialist Subject Records (and as a self-release in the USA), Freas has taken a step back from fronting punk bands and created a sentimental, soft-sounding record instead.

Recorded over the past two years, the eleven tracks on Young are all love songs for Freas’ friends who needed support during moments of big change and transition. The songwriter reflects on what inspired her to write this deeply personal record: “We’re so caught up in this moment with all the real pressures and challenges that mark our lives right now; this all-consuming moment. With these songs, I was thinking about what world we’re welcoming the next generation into and, similarly, how we approach our own futures and histories as we grow. These songs are about being alive, whether we’re new to it or have been around awhile.”

We’re enjoying Freas’ sounds that urge her listeners to slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life. Listen to Young in full below, and follow Erica Freas on Facebook and Spotify for more updates.

 

Erica Freas UK Tour Dates 2020
29th Feb – Bristol – radio/ON
1st Mar – London – Water Into Beer with Cristy Road Carerra
9th Mar – Brooklyn NY – Trans Pecos
14th Mar – Anacortes WA – The Business
24-26 April – Manchester Punk Fest 2020
1-8th May – European Tour (via YoYo Records)
9th May – Berlin – Miss The Stars Fest VII
7th Jul – 2000 Trees Festival UK

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Photo Credit: @gingerdope

EP: Captain Handsome – ‘I Am Not An Animal’

I Am Not An Animal is the debut EP from Lily Rae’s solo project, Captain Handsome. Over its five tracks, Rae, also of Fightmilk, celebrates her passions (including Dolly Parton who’s “like my mum/therapist/‘life coach”), and shares stories of social awkwardness (“the kind of stuff you lie awake thinking about for years afterwards curdling with embarrassment.”), which you can’t help but connect and empathise with. But, y’know, probably while you’re also squirming in your seat or hiding behind your hands in solidarity.

Opener ‘Annalise’ gets the EP off to an upbeat start, but the mood soon becomes gentler and more intimate. As the pace slows, there are echoes of traditional folk and Americana. ‘Dolly Parton’ is, as the press release, suggests, a ‘sad banger’ with a lo-fi, stripped back sensibility that allows you to really focus on Rae’s rich, raw vocal. Meanwhile, the beautiful ‘Halloween’ combines sing-song harmonies with sad, revelatory lyrics.

“Everything on the EP is something that’s happened,” admits Rae. The more confessional her lyrics become, the more her personality shows through. And while there are definite nods to Rae’s influences, I Am Not An Animal manages to stay fresh, weird and wonderfully personal. It feels like she’s poured her heart out on this release and we’re all the richer for it.

 

I Am Not An Animal by Captain Handsome is out now on limited edition CD and digitally via Reckless Yes.

Vic Conway

 

EP: Cuntrie – ‘Scrapbooking’

“Everything I write needs to be true, because I don’t like to lie”, confesses Cuntrie (aka Ebba Gustafsson Ågren) about her debut EP, Scrapbooking. Released via Feverish on 22nd January, the Swedish indie musician embraces both the silly and the serious on her first offering under her new moniker.

Best known for fronting Swedish duo Wy, Ågren’s solo work explores more quirky, personal themes through a combination of witty lyrics, sweet vocals, and minimalist synth textures. Opening track ‘Spider’ is an ideal display of this, as she extrapolates about her phobia of a small arachnid over glitchy beats, prompting her to reflect on the deeper fears of losing control, and trying to stay calm.

On the brief ‘Hamster Cancer’, twinkling keys intertwine with ominous synths to help relive the pain left behind by the loss of a beloved pet. It’s a dark subject to lament about, but Cuntrie’s emotive vocals make her reflections feel soft and poignant. “I always thought that you were cool / just wanted to know more about you” she muses on penultimate track ‘The Singer’. Lo-fi beats and lush, longing vocals blend cooly together here, making it one of the strongest tracks on the EP.

Her gentle exploration of toxic masculinity on closing track ‘Oh Boy’ is especially touching. Cuntrie paints a picture with her lyrics of the stereotypical strong, silent man who is afraid to be emotional. With the simple repeated refrain “Men don’t want to fight / they just want to cry”, she effortlessly dismantles these pressures over slow, tentative beats.

Cuntrie’s debut EP certainly has the quality of a scrapbook. It’s a nostalgic, raw, genuine collection of reflections, fears, and anticipations that have a personal, yet universal quality. Her eccentric approach to songwriting makes Scrapbooking a refreshing, truly enjoyable listen.

Cuntrie’s debut EP Scrapbooking is released on 22nd Jan via Feverish.
Follow Cuntrie on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: Eliza Shaddad – ‘Sept – Dec’

Ringing in 2020, Scottish-Sudanese singer Eliza Shaddad releases her new EP Sept-Dec. The songs focus on different forms of connection with other people, dealing with sex, normalcy, and friendship

Opener, ‘One Last Embrace’, is a grungy and atmospheric exploration of the swirling emotions of desire. The chorus and scratchy guitars surge throughout the song to a powerful crescendo like “a tidal wave, pulling me asunder”. 

‘Same As You’ has a lighter, dream-pop sound, featuring chiming guitar and layered vocals. The mood is bitter-sweet, capturing the nostalgia of a craving a connection between two people, despite their differences. In a similar vein, ‘Girls’ explores the memories of a close female friendship, both good and bad. The song builds slowly before the sound fills out to an emotional chorus – “I know you’re lying when you say you’re alright”. We get a sense of someone or something breaking down. 

There is much to cherish in this EP; a collection of confessional songs which allow a connection with the listener through a sense of shared experience, delivered through the lens of late ’80s/ early ’90s-inspired guitar pop. 

Sept ~ Dec is due for release on 24th January 2020. Eliza is currently on tour supporting Keane, see all the details here.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

EP: Tape Runs Out – ‘Talking Through Walls’

In a glistening manner, indie/electronic band Tape Runs Out take listeners down a lively new exploratory path in their newborn EP, Talking Through The Walls. Like cutting a crisp corner, the wind of the EP’s overturning tone provides a sense of urgency throughout this twinkling release that allows intricacy a spotlight, and quietness its space. In Talking Through The Walls‘ opening track ‘Make It Work’, the feeling of nostalgia is set for the record that stands parallel with the smell of untouched stories. With a shoegaze-strewn, dream-like element to the sonic landscape, Tape Runs Out lay out a bed of travel where moments of swelling synth and shiny guitar can be immortal. 

The freshness of Talking Through The Walls resides in Tape Runs Out’s ability to introduce folk sounds and timbres that ever so unexpectedly fit the band’s sonic language. ‘Ice Cream Soup’, found halfway through the release, bends in ways sounding both digital and analog as synths mimic a traditional guitar slide. There is a distinct and quirky charisma embodied in what Tape Run’s Out have stumbled upon here.

Ending the EP with lullaby-like elegance, ‘My Childhood Hands’ is an emotionally enduring mural painted with background samples that sound like home. As the pulsing keys initiate the song, here there remains room for listeners to have their own moment with the piece before the tremolo begins to shift the song’s footing. As the drifting instrumentation builds, listeners shuffle along picking up tiny yet significant elements that gradually layer in the mix like a story. This tasteful font in which Tape Runs Out have written their EP so strategically in, illustrates the band’s attention to detail. Talking Through The Walls is an instrumental adventure worth the conquest. 

Talking Through Walls is out now via Kuang Grade Recordings. Listen on Spotify.

Jill Goyeau
@jillybxxn