ALBUM: Hilary Woods – ‘Birthmarks’

Both an aural purge of insecurities and a powerful exploration of self-autonomy; Hilary Woods‘ second album Birthmarks is darker and sharper in sound compared to her debut album, Colt. Set for release on 13th March via Sacred Bones, the Irish musician has collaborated with Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, and together they’ve crafted a new set of cohesive, shadowy soundscapes that smolder with quiet intensity.

Written & recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks feels like her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by field recordings, the images from post-war Japanese & wet-plate photography, and the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so transcendent.

Opener ‘Tongues Of Wild Boar’ is a foggy, captivating exploration of intense discomfort. From its scratchy dense opening, to its gentle blend of orchestral and electronic elements; it’s a primal, intuitive track that scars and soothes in equal measure. “My body knows I can’t make it out” Woods sings on ‘Orange Tree’, tentatively trying to make peace with her physicality and her surroundings. This need to face her inner fears underscores the record, making it an unsettling, but genuinely liberating listen.

The tender ‘Through The Dark, Love’ feels like an intuitive guide through an ambiguous, tumultuous relationship, whilst the sparse instrumentation and the rhythmic humming on ‘Lay Bare’ feels intensely comforting. Woods’ songs have a confessional, meditative nature; ranging from gentle to gritty all within a few short seconds. ‘Mud and Stones’ is much like this; with its stretched out saxophone sounds, changing tempo, and whispered lyrics.

‘The Mouth’ is one of the boldest tracks on the album. A fleshy, twisted lullaby about personal hesitation; it’s a somber yet powerful listen, laced with melancholy strings, saxophone, and distorted drone noises. Though fueled by uncertainty, it’s a carefully constructed song that provides space for healing and acceptance. The denseness of ‘Cleansing Ritual’ is unexpectedly soothing too. Purely instrumental, its layers of drone noises and distortion could cauterize the deepest of wounds. The eerie, persistent tapping of one key alongside Woods’ hushed voice on ‘There Is No Moon’ could feel desolate, but instead it feels restless; as if she is keeping herself awake with the urgency of that repeated note.

Though quiet in terms of volume, Birthmarks is an abrasive, primal, charged offering that allows Woods the space to navigate emotional territories, and proves her strength and resilience as an artist.

Pre-order Hilary Woods’ new album Birthmarks here (released 13th March via Sacred Bones)
Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright 

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Hilary Woods – ‘The Mouth’

A fleshy, twisted lullaby about personal hesitation; Hilary Woods has shared her latest single, ‘The Mouth’. Taken from her second album Birthmarks, which is set for release on 13th March via Sacred Bones, the track is a somber yet powerful listen; laced with strings, saxophone, and distorted drone noises.

Speaking about the track, Woods explains: “The impulse to write ‘The Mouth’ came from a longing to articulate feelings aloud that I failed to express til the moment had passed.” Though fueled by uncertainty and doubt, ‘The Mouth’ is one of Woods’ boldest, most confident tracks. It’s a dense, layered, carefully constructed soundscape that provides space for healing and acceptance.

Written & recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks looks set to be her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by the works of Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, the images from post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography, to the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so mesmerising and transcendent.

Listen to ‘The Mouth’ below, and follow Hilary Woods on Facebook & Spotify for more updates. Catch her live at Cafe Oto, London, on 18th May

Photo credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Something Leather – ‘Farewell Fareworse’

A dark, swirling mix of psych-tinged guitar and eerie organ noises; Brighton trio Something Leather have shared their latest single, ‘Farewell Fareworse’. Released via We Can Do It Records, it’s the first track to be lifted from their debut EP Midnight Reverie, which is set for release on 17th April.

Formed of Phillie Etta Jane (vocals/organ), Greg Pass (guitar) and Mike Nussbaum (drums), Something Leather have been cutting their teeth on the London & Brighton live circuits for a few years now. Their dark creations are a captivating blend of old and new sounds; the vintage organ that Phillie plays combines perfectly with Greg’s distorted guitar, and Mike’s rhythmic drum beats.

Single ‘Farewell Fareworse’ is a stirring example of this, and was born from the anxious thoughts surrounding co-dependent relationships, and the need for self autonomy. Phillie explains further: “[The track] is about desire and fear of change at the same time. It’s a bitter ode to personal traps and never-ending dilemmas”. The only dilemma we’re facing is whether or not we can wait until April to hear Something Leather’s debut EP.

Listen to ‘Farewell Fareworse’ below, and follow the band on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Something Leather UK Tour Dates 2020
18/4 – Hot Box – Chelmsford
20/4 – Hug and Pint – Glasgow
22/4 – Jacaranda – Liverpool
23/4 – Dead Wax Digbeth – Birmingham
24/4 – Shacklewell Arms – London
25/4 – The Lanes – Bristol
2/5 – Portsmouth Psych Fest
7/5 – 60 Million Postcards – Bournemouth
16/5 – The Peer Hat – Manchester

Photo credit: Jessie Morgan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Hilary Woods – ‘Orange Tree’

A tentative exploration of inner fears; Hilary Woods‘ latest single ‘Orange Tree’ is an atmospheric, brooding affair. Taken from her upcoming second album Birthmarks, set for release on 13th March via Sacred Bones, the Irish musician has crafted another dark, beguiling soundscape that smolders with quiet intensity.

Speaking about the new track, Woods explains: “For me, ‘Orange Tree’ is a personal song acknowledging an inner fear of the unknown. It’s an exercise in overcoming, becoming more planted and rooted in the earth and in the body.” Woods’ thoughts are reflected in the accompanying visuals for the track, which she created and directed with Joshua Wright.

Written & recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo, whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks looks set to be her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by the works of Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, the images from post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography, to the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so mesmerising and transcendent.

Watch the video for ‘Orange Tree’ below, and follow Hilary Woods on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Hilary Woods EU/UK Live Dates 2020
April 19, Tilberg, NL @ Roadburn Festival
May 18, London, UK @ Cafe Oto

Photo credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut