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

 

Five Favourites: Captain Handsome

Having been a pretty massive fan of indie-pop superstars Fightmilk for a couple of years now, we’ve recently been excited to hear that Lily from the band’s solo project Captain Handsome have just released their debut EP.

Exploring everyday anxieties and all-too-common awkward situations with an intimate twinkling emotion, the EP’s filled with sad lo-fi bangers and effervescent indie-pop sounds that tug at the heartstrings in all the right ways.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Lily, who has shared her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that particularly resonate with her. Check out her choices below, and make sure you take a listen to brand new EP I Am Not An Animal as soon as possible!

The Proclaimers – ‘Over And Done With’
I don’t know how many kids have a ‘Proclaimers phase’ but mine was FORMATIVE. I was about ten, still one of the tall kids in class and extremely sensitive about my bad skin, when I started listening to my parents’ cassette tape of This Is The Story – which I thought I’d try out because I thought the nerds on the cover looked funny. The best song on their debut album is ‘Over And Done With’. It was the first song I ever learned to play on guitar, and I loved it so much that after months and months of practicing C, E, Am and F, I covered it and made a music video for it, long lost to the toilet of history.

“This is the story of our first teacher Shetland made her jumpers and the devil made her features” – It’s just a series of little awkward, unfair or tragic moments, completely mundane but weirdly existential and funny. It’s a mood I absorbed as an angsty kid and have probably transferred, knowingly or unknowingly, into almost every song I’ve written since. I love how it’s upbeat and simple, completely stripped down to just two voices and a guitar, a singalong tune about shag ennui and low-key worrying about death and how, in the end, it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s over and done with.

Did you know the Proclaimers have ELEVEN albums, one of which is called Angry Cyclist? There you go.

Kirsty MacColl – ‘Free World’
Ahhhh fuck the Tories. This song came out in 1989 as a way of saying “fuck the Tories” and lo and behold and quelle surprise, we (at least in the DIY scene) are still saying fuck the Tories 31 years later. This is my favourite fuck-the-Tories song. Sick of bands doing Political Songs and then skirting the issue in interviews? Here’s what Kirsty said about ‘Free World’:

The subject matter is Thatcherite Britain – you know, grab whatever you can and sod the little guy. That’s a fashionable way of looking at things, and I don’t agree with it.”

Kirsty’s abilities as a political songwriter are unfairly overlooked. Very often hits like ‘They Don’t Know’ and ‘Soho Square’ are cited as her best writing, same as it ever was with female artists and big love songs. ‘Free World’ sounds like it’s been playing at breakneck speed forever, urgent and fast and present, and that massive, effortless, vibrato-free note at the end is still unnerving today.

“And I’ll see you baby when the clans rise again // Women and children united by the struggle // Going down with a pocketful of plastic // Like a dollar on elastic // In this free world.”

I’d love more than anything to be able to write and sing half as well as Kirsty, but I don’t think anyone but her could write ‘Free World’.

Bruce Springsteen – ‘Bobby Jean’
For such an ecstatic sounding song, ‘Bobby Jean’ is a real bummer. It’s about Bruce/The Boss/Daddy as a young misfit, falling in with another young misfit and running wild, listening to rock music and being little punks that everyone looks down on. So far, so Stand By Me.

But kids grow up, and BruceTheBossDaddy and Bobby Jean fall out of touch. Years later he goes to call on her (or him – Bobby Jean’s gender is never specified, which is an entirely different dissertation and one that I hope you write one day), hoping to shoot the shit and remember their halcyon days of throwing rocks at trains and wearing jorts. But Bobby Jean has disappeared. Where does she go? Does life get too much for her? Does she go on the run? Does her mother send her to a convent school for girls bewitched by Bruce Springsteen?

“And I’m just calling one last time not to change your mind // But just to say I miss you baby, good luck goodbye, Bobby Jean.” – Bobby Jean is just gone, and it’s fucking brutal. BruceTheBossDaddy never got the chance to say goodbye in person but, absolute human being that he is, craves closure so much that he writes a song, effectively leaving a voicemail.

As far as happy-sounding pop hits about devastating blows to the heart go, this is one of the all time greats. Just when you think that BrucetheBossDaddy howling his guts can’t get any more powerful, there’s a sax solo.

Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Funeral’
Phoebe Bridgers is ruining my life. Aside from the fact that she successfully KOed an abuser’s career with a pop song, Phoebe writes the kind of gloom-country I can only dream of. ‘Funeral’ is a track from her debut album Stranger In The Alps, and it’s such an amazing move to position a song ostensibly about pulling perspective on your own sadness so near the start of a record about your own sadness – like punching a hole in your ego before it can even begin to inflate.

“I have a friend I call // When I’ve bored myself to tears // And we talk until we think we might just kill ourselves // But then we laugh until it disappears” – I love this song because as someone who finds it hard to write happy lyrics, I often find myself mining for things I know make me sad and this is a reminder to never, ever take the dark stuff for granted or to trivialise it. Of course you should be sad – there is so much to be sad about – but Phoebe is a master at self-awareness. This song, about going to a funeral for someone the same age as Phoebe, is about there being some things you can’t have.

Dolly Parton – ‘Little Sparrow’
To know Dolly is to love her. ‘Little Sparrow’ is a pretty recent Dolly drop, taken from her 38th (38! Who has the fucking time?!) studio album of the same name. It’s a small, spooky song in the fine tradition of heartbreak and bad men, but there’s no self-pity – it sounds old and folky, bluegrass violin fluttering and soaring like a second vocal, but also angry and young and impetuous, too late for hellbent revenge on the cold false-hearted lover and his evil cunning schemes and so just doomed to be a cautionary tale. It’s one of my favourite Dolly vocal performances, powerful and fragile and uuuuggghhhhhh. It’s one of those songs that sounds like it’s been around for centuries and it gets to you HARD. And I love Dolly for continuing to make gorgeous folk music into her ACTUAL 70s without falling into the trap of feeling like she needs to reinvent herself and make glitzy country-pop. Dolly is the top of her game. She is the best at this. She is the heavyweight champion of the world at making lighter-than-air country songs that fuck you up.

Also, I really like the line “they will vow to always love you // swear no love but yours will do”. It’s probably completely unintentional and Dolly is far too cool to self-reference – there’s no way Dolly’s flipped the coin on her most beloved song to reveal an absolute misery-banger on the other side… Right?

Massive thanks to Lily for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Captain Handsome’s debut EP I Am Not An Animal is out now via Reckless Yes, and make sure you catch them live at The Finsbury for us on 14th February, along with Piney Gir, Grawl!x and I Am HER.

 

PLAYLIST: November 2019

The shift from autumn to winter has been abrupt this year, and if our eclectic track choices are anything to go by; the lack of vitamin D has clearly hit us hard. From moody electronics, to upbeat bedroom bangers, to experimental soundscapes – we’ve got it all on our November playlist. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below, and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist link at the end of the page…

 

Catbear – ‘Unrequited Love’
‘Unrequited Love’ is the second single from Catbear, and what a tune! Fully home-recorded, self-produced, and with a heavy helping of synths. In their own words Catbear say: “We make music for the enjoyment of it. We are two good friends that love each other and we love making music together. There is no other agenda. And with that attitude we want to inspire young women and LGBTQ people like us to not only go form a band, but to take control over every aspect of their music. You can be a guitarist, you can be a drummer. You can make beats, you can record and produce your own music. You can be anything.” (Tash Walker)

HAVVK – ‘Operate’
The new single from long term faves HAVVK, ‘Operate’ is about getting caught up in the pressures of everyday life, and how this can effect your health and relationships. Filled with twinkling hooks and front woman Julie’s soaring celestial vocals, it’s a captivating creation filled with stirring emotion. Of the track, Julie explains: “There’s been a massive culture-shift towards measuring our happiness by productivity. Our digital lives mean that there’s always something we can be achieving and we have fewer obvious moments to switch off and connect with ourselves or the humans around us.” ‘Operate’ is out now via Veta Records, and will be followed by  HAVVK’s debut album, Cause & Effect, on 22nd November. (Mari Lane)

Le Butcherettes – ‘Tunisia’
Teri Gender bender opens this song with the lyrics “I’ve been masturbating thinking of no-one at all / and you make think that it is selfish of me / but I am no one at all” and I just want to applaud her for such an unexpected, celebratory few lines. ‘Tunisia’ is so funky, so catchy, and I’m so excited to hear the band’s new EP, Don’t Bleed, in February 2020. (Kate Crudgington)

Sea Change – ‘Scratch That Itch’
Norwegian artist Sea Change (aka Ellen Sunde) navigates personal metamorphosis on her new album, Inside, which this track is taken from. Sunde softly sings “I have a white hot anger / I’m slowly setting it free” over mellow synth textures and looping beats that sit in contrast to to emotion she’s expressing. This contradiction in sound and lyricism is what makes Sea Change’s music so compelling, and I’ve had her album on repeat since its release on the 15th. (KC)

Despicable Zee – ‘Counting Cars’
Despicable Zee is an Oxford based musician, composer and performer. I am so very into this track of hers, ‘Counting Cars’. I cannot get enough of the samples and composition – so so good! Despicable Zee aka Zahra is also the director of the Young Women’s Music Project working alongside and guiding young female musicians. Her third EP, Atigheh, is self-produced and independently released, and she will be hitting New Rvier Studios in London on December 8th. I’ll be there, join me. (TW)

ESYA – ‘Blue Orchid’
“I only came here for the meat” broods ESYA (Ayse Hassan of Savages/Kite Base/180db) on her latest track ‘Blue Orchid’, lifted from her new EP Absurdity of ATCG (II) – Emergent Form. Filled with buzzing synth textures, direct vocals and pummeling beats; the song fleshes out the absurdities of our relationships and interactions with each other. We can’t wait for ESYA to headline our next gig at Notting Hill Arts Club on Sat 30th November. Tickets are available on DICE, and you can find all the event info here. (KC)

JFDR – ‘Taking A Part of Me’
I’m highlighting one of my Icelandic loves on this list, JFDR, who is a prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who we’ve supported at GIHE before as a part of her other project Samaris. ‘Taking A Part of Me’ is the first new material to be taken from her forthcoming album set for release in 2020, in conjunction with a gig at St Pancras Old Church on 30th January. Hauntingly perfect. (TW)

Pallas Athene – ‘Through Hell’
One of my favourite songs of the month, ‘Through Hell’ by Pallas Athene, taken from their debut self-titled EP. Exploring themes of man vs machine and the dissolution of self, this is the latest single from the EP which I’m so into – its spaced out vocals and calming chords – keep up the great work! Looking forward to the future of Pallas Athene. (TW)

Memphis LK – ‘Roses’
This track has been buzzing around my head over the last couple of weeks. It comes from Melbourne-based Memphis LK, described as a “spirited bass-pop on a bed of dystopian electro” – in other words ‘Roses’. (TW)

Shea Diamond – ‘I Am Her’
As early as transgender singer Shea Diamond can remember, she identified as a girl, and was punished for it. “I got whoopings for walking like a girl, for using the restroom sitting down like a girl,” says Diamond today. Written whilst Diamond was incarcerated in various men’s correctional facilities between 1999 and 2009, ‘I Am Her’ is a poignant offering oozing an infectious funk-filled groove. With last week being Trans Awareness Week, I wanted to bring everyone’s attention back to this soulful anthem of self-realisation. (ML)

Brix & The Extricated – ‘Wolves’
The latest single from Brix Smith Start (of The Fall) and her awesome band Brix & The Extricated. ‘Wolves’ reflects on pack mentality and the freedom to show your scars. Oozing eerie undertones alongside the impassioned grit of Smith Start’s vocals, it’s filled with searing hooks and a  powerful grunge-tinged energy. Brix & The Extricated’s album, Super Blood Wolf Moon, is out now. (ML)

Captain Handsome – ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’
The debut single from Captain Handsome (aka Lily from faves Fightmilk), ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’ is a poignant exploration of every-day anxieties. With a twinkling lo-fi scuzz alongside the sensitivity of Lily’s refreshingly honest and consistently relatable lyricism, it’s a slice of effervescent indie-pop that tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways. ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’ is out now via Reckless Yes, and is taken from Captain Handsome’s upcoming EP, set for release in early 2020. (ML)

Siv Disa – ‘Moths’
The new single from New York based artist Siv Disa, ‘Moths’ is a poignant reflection on the captivity of love. Propelled by eerie, atmospheric hooks, ‘Moths’ showcases Disa’s soaring raw vocals alongside a spellbinding majesty. ‘Moths’ is out now via Trapped Animal Records. (ML)

Anne Müller – ‘Drifting Circles’
An epic seven minute instrumental from Berlin-based cellist and composer Anne Müller. ‘Drifting Circles’ is lifted from her highly anticipated debut solo album Heliopause, which is set for release on 29th November via Erased Tapes. I love Müller’s blend of frantic yet soothing strings, and feel like they would still captivate me even if the track was double its duration. (KC)

Tears|Ov – ‘All Else Is Bondage (for A.)’
Founded in 2015, Tears|Ov are a queer arts and LGBTQI+ trio. Formed of sound artist/musician Lori E Allen, cellist/mixed media artist Katie Spafford and illustrator/prison psychotherapist Deborah Wale; their sounds are experimental, unusual, and always engaging. Their latest album, A Hopeless Place, was initiated by award-winning photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, who asked them to perform at Tate Modern’s South Tanks for his retrospective back in 2017. A Hopeless Place is out now. (KC)

Katie Gately – ‘Bracer’
Brace yourselves for ten minutes of poignant, eerie electronic sounds from Producer Katie Gately. This single is taken from her second album, Loom, which is set for release on 14th February via Houndstooth. The record is dedicated to Katie’s mother, who passed away in 2018 due to a rare form of cancer. Her shifting stages of grief have informed her sparse, yet seismic soundscapes. Not for the faint-hearted. (KC)

Track Of The Day: Captain Handsome – ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’

Having been a pretty massive fan of indie-pop superstars Fightmilk for a couple of years now, it’s exciting to see that Lily from the band has now shared the first single from new solo project Captain Handsome.

A poignant exploration of every-day anxieties, ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’ flows with jangly hooks and a gentle electro whirr as Lily’s distinctive silky-smooth-yet-gritty vocals ooze a touching raw emotion. With a twinkling lo-fi scuzz alongside the sensitivity of Lily’s refreshingly honest and consistently relatable lyricism (“I feel so strange and I can’t keep up”), it’s a slice of effervescent indie-pop that tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways.

(FYI, though, I really wish I had a cat or a rabbit like the one pictured, not a dog…)

 

‘I Wish I Had A Dog’ is out now via Reckless Yes, and is taken from Captain Handsome’s upcoming EP, set for release in early 2020.

Mari Lane
@marimindles