ALBUM: Queen Bonobo – ‘Light Shadow Boom Boom’

Queen Bonobo’s engaging debut Light Shadow Boom Boom unites a broad array of textures into a coherent whole. Backed by a talented young group of Northern Irish jazz musicians, her ten tracks draw together the acoustics of jazz, direct songwriting, and an expansive range of other sounds.

This eclecticism is no surprise – born in an Idaho forest, Queen Bonobo has spent a lifetime on the move, pursuing spontaneous collaboration with musicians from all corners. The album showcases less idyllic themes too, with lyrics covering depression in the family and the difficulties of radical self-acceptance in changing circumstances. But the restorative power of music making is always at the core. In her words: “the title stands for the heavens above (light), the earth below (dark), and the pulse of life throughout it all”.

‘The Lord Does What He Wants’, opens the album, placing folksy melodies over joyous chord-strums, but the upbeat feel of the instruments is tinged with escapism too (“I’m plain dysfunctional / break me so I know nothing’s permanent”). ‘Light Me Up’ moves from sultry jazz to cracking, imploring screams, and ‘Shadow’ explores other shades of contrast, with light brushes of sax giving way to lilting solos.

‘Honey’’s brief stopover in 7/4 is balanced by the simple, earthy percussion of ‘Boom Boom’, reminiscent of Ibeyi’s back-to-nature approach. Inspired by the Appalachian Mountains, its signature line may serve as the album’s best summary: “My energy’s infectious, connected with the earth”. ‘Spin Me’ is unquestionably the album’s most intriguing track. Half-sketched melodies are pulled apart by a dream-swirl of languid synths, the music somehow seeming to rotate around itself without having a clear centre point.

The natural sincerity of Queen Bonobo’s voice superbly ties together the variety, elastically summoning energy and introspection in a fine balance. The album is a clear product of its situation – a collection of promising young musicians trying a range of styles on for size. This is an intriguing debut that bodes well for the future of all the artists at it’s core.

Follow Queen Bonobo on Facebook for more updates.

George Howlett

PREMIERE: Party Fears – ‘Sun King II’

DIY disco punks Party Fears have shared their new single ‘Sun King II’ taken from their upcoming EP Just Friends, and we’re delighted to be premiering it here on Get In Her Ears!

Recorded at Start Together Studios in Belfast by Ryan McGroarty and mixed by Robert Kelly, the track was first written in early 2016 during the run up to the US election and just before the Brexit vote *shudders*. It targets “toxic masculinity, crash economics and rampant capitalism” but despite its turbulent context; ‘Sun King II’ is an upbeat, electro-disco anthem brought to life by forceful drum beats and defiant vocals.

Comprised of Northern Irish native Maggie Devlin and Adelaide’s Eilis Frawley, Party Fears’ music packs a glistening punch reminiscent of our faves Le Tigre, and ‘Sun King II’ is another example of the duo’s ability to take something negative and turn it in to a cathartic, dizzy antidote to the modern world.

Listen to the new single below ahead of its official release on December 14th, and follow Party Fears on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Curious Rose

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Emma Lohan – ‘Black Atlantic’

Galway songwriter Emma Lohan crafts intricate, gentle melodies based around her travels on debut album Black Atlantic. After exploring the Atlantic coast from her homeland in Ireland to West Africa and South America, Lohan has created eight tracks that explore her reactions to the landscapes, to the people, and to her own emotions along the way. She’s set to self-release the record (in association with CITOG RECORDS) on October 25th in digital format, as well as on recycled CD (with a download code included).

On opening track ‘Wander Free’, Lohan extrapolates about places she’s never been. Accompanied by gentle guitar, steady percussion and twinkling strings, her lamentations have a captivating day-dream-like quality. Following track ‘1957’ flows in the same vein, as she explores the universe through calm chords and tender vocals. Her journey continues with ‘Snails Trail’, on which she states “I’m not lost, nor am I found” – which feels like an apt explanatory lyric for each of her songs on the record. Her careful story-telling makes the image in the song’s title glisten with gentle intensity.

‘Three Sparrows’ is a nod to her “lyrical hero” Shane MacGowan of the Pogues, and is accompanied by a beautiful stop-motion video directed by Marta Barcikowska. Filled with double entendre, it’s “an escape encapsulating a dangerous love affair” along the stormy Salthill Promenade of Lohan’s hometown in Galway. Her fusion of folk and romance combine beautifully here, making ‘Three Sparrows’ a charming listen. ‘Gut’ follows with its disarming string arrangements and more of Emma’s instinctive lyrics: “there’s beauty in flaws” – and the upbeat, atmospheric sounds of ‘Serekunda’ break through shortly after.

On the penultimate ‘Wild Days’ Lohan yearns for times gone by; times of freedom and reckless abandon, before title track ‘Black Atlantic’ closes the record. Lohan paints images of childhood isolation and loneliness with her lyrics, but the song feels anything but sad – it has a transient quality that makes these painful moments feel less melancholy. Her upbeat rhythms and casual delivery make this a triumphant closing song.

Black Atlantic is clearly a personal album for Emma Lohan, but with her smooth delivery and the record’s buoyant undercurrent of joyful exploration – its a personal experience that can be shared and enjoyed by others too.

Order your copy of Black Atlantic here. Follow Emma Lohan on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: HOST – ‘Goodbye’

After spending the past year writing, recording and producing music alone, Irish artist HOST has shared her debut single ‘Goodbye’ with the world. It’s a song about “putting your heart and soul into a shit relationship that inevitably falls apart” – which is something most of us unfortunate souls have probably endured.

It’s not all doom and gloom though: HOST’s electronic pop hooks make ‘Goodbye’ a charming, up-tempo listen. The accompanying video is a mash of glitter, wine and raw emotion which you can re-enact in your bedroom any time you need to shrug off the feelings of inadequacy left by a lover who didn’t deserve you. Check it out below…

Follow HOST on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut