Track Of The Day: Charmpit – ‘Bridges Go Burn’

London DIY band Charmpit have indeed been charming our ears, and our hearts, for some time; having wowed us with their energy-filled charisma live on more than one occasion, and following the joyous sounds of their Jelly EP, they’ve now announced the release of their debut album, out next year via Specialist Subject Records.

Taken from the album, new single ‘Bridges Go Burn’ is filled with all the sparkling fuzz, jangly, shimmering hooks and luscious honey-sweet harmonies we’ve come to know and love. An empowering ode to moving on from toxic relationships and standing up for yourself, it’s a perfectly uplifting, luminous slice of ‘Anarcutie’ pop-punk to soundtrack this week’s anxiety…

Of the track, the band explain:

We grew up in the 90s and 00s surrounded by examples in books/movies/songs of falling in romantic love and breaking up. Pop culture offered us so many blueprints for romantic relationships and comparatively few about other loving relationships. But in our experience, ending friendships, or being estranged from family, was heartbreaking, often more heartbreaking than our romantic breakups. We wanted to contribute a breakup song about friendship and family heartbreak to pop culture. It can take time to burn a bridge, especially when it’s guarded by a troll. You can forgive yourself for taking the time you needed to exit that toxic relationship. And when you exit it, you can write a pop banger so it ain’t so dang depressing. Strike a match, light it up, better bitter than deep fried!

Filmed at the band’s home, Charm Gardens in East London, watch the new video for ‘Bridges Go Burn’ here:

And keep your eyes peeled for the debut album from Charmpit, out in 2020, via Specialist Subject Records.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Five Favourites: Maija Sofia

Following the success of last single ‘Flowers’, Irish artist Maija Sofia has now announced the release of her debut album, Bath Time – a collection of songs that were written in the run up to the Repeal The 8th Movement, and all addressing the issue of the silencing and misrepresentation of women.

Creating poignant, stirring slices of alt-folk, filled with beautiful melodies, rich luscious vocals and a raw emotion, Maija Sofia is fast becoming a firm favourite and we can’t wait for the album release.

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 Maija, who has shared her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that particularly resonate with her. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to latest single ‘The Glitter’ at the end of this post.

Katie Kim – ‘Day is Coming’ 
Katie Kim is one of my absolute favourite songwriters and this song is from her incredible album Salt. I love how dark, foreboding and ominous her work is while managing to be tender and emotive at the same time. She marries heavy, droning, gauzy harmonies with strange, unexpected vocal melodies and it creates an atmosphere in her work that’s like a sliver of sunlight trying to push through heavy black storm clouds. I love how the chanted refrain “day is coming” towards the end of this song sounds like a wild, horrific pagan ritual, but also sounds redemptive and oddly reassuring.

Radie Peat – ‘Katie Cruel’
I first heard Radie perform this song with the above mentioned Katie Kim when they did a really special collaborative performance in the Pepper Canister church in Dublin, and she’s since recorded an amazing version with her band Lankum who I would include in this list as they are probably my favourite band at the moment, but they surely need no introduction. I knew this song first from Karen Dalton’s gorgeous version but I love how Radie’s drawling almost terrifying voice merges with the harmonium and fiddle drones and makes it a totally new song.

Rachael Lavelle – ‘Perpetual Party’
Rachael Lavelle is an up and coming artist also based in Dublin that I’m really excited about. She has one of the hugest most eerily expansive voices I have ever heard and her songs are dark, gothic, evocative but also euphoric and have a strange, off-kilter sense of humour. This song is a perfect example of what makes her work so singular; she blends aspects of influence from Laurie Anderson, Jenny Hval and Julia Holter, but just makes it completely her own. Every time I see her live I’m more blown away.

Lisa O’Neill – ‘Along The North Strand’
For one reason or another I have a deep love of murder ballads in which the roles are reversed and it’s the women doing the murdering; same goes with folklore, the bible – Judith and Holofernes, Salome and John the Baptist, you name it, I love them all. This is a song Lisa O’Neill learned from a little-known traveller singer Kitty Cassidy and it appeared on her last album, the brilliant Heard A Long Gone Song. Lisa is also an one of my favourite songwriters, and that last album is a perfect mix of original songs and traditional songs, blending her wild, jagged mountainside stormy sea of a voice, her plaintive, poetic lyrics with accompaniment from some of the best trad musicians in the country like Cormac Begley and Christophe Capewell.

Rising Damp – ‘Rising Damp’
Rising Damp is the solo performance project of Michelle Doyle who also plays in the great punk band Sissy. I’ve been lucky to share the same bill with Michelle a few times now and every time I’m blown away. I can’t really describe it properly, but a Rising Damp show consists of synths, drum machines, vocal effects and fervently anti-fascist spoken word/shouting, all delivered with Michelle’s wild, hypnotic feral energy. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a Rising Damp show – go!

Huge thanks to Maija for sharing her Five Favourites! Listen to latest single ‘The Glitter’ below:

Bath Time, the upcoming album from Maija Sofia, is out 22nd November via Trapped Animal Records and Cargo Records.

ALBUM: Brix & The Extricated – ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’

Known as the Super Blood Wolf Moon, this rare celestial event occurs when the first full Moon in a calendar year is at its closest approach to Earth, during a total lunar eclipse; a collision of the Super Moon, the Blood Moon and the Wolf Moon.

Just like the moonscape that inspired its name, the soundscape of Brix & the Extricated‘s latest LP Super Blood Wolf Moon is a collision of raucous post-punk hooks, infectious progressive rock riffs, and euphoric melodies that honour and transcend the historical output of the band’s founders: vocalist/guitarist Brix Smith Start and bassist Steve Hanley, ex-members of The Fall.

Super Blood Wolf Moon is the third record from Brix & the Extricated – following their 2017 debut, Part 2, and 2018’s sophomore release, Breaking State. Opening with ‘Strange Times’, a gentle, shimmering guitar ballad of global despair that musically recalls Brix’s earlier indie pop band, The Adult Net, it continues with ‘Hustler’ – a different beast altogether. The Fall-esque second track combines the musicality of Brix, Steve, and his brother, drummer Paul Hanley’s, ’80s output – referred to lovingly as the “Brix Smith years” – with lyrical elements of unforgiving brutality: “I know, you know / I know, you know / You’re just a two-bit hustler / It’s coming back to crush ya!”

‘Wolves’ is the defining track of Super Blood Wolf Moon; reflecting on pack mentality and driven by the Hanley brothers’ driving basslines, drum beats and the triple cascading guitar collision of Brix, Steve Trafford (also ex-The Fall) and Jason Brown: “I run with wolves and sleep beneath the stars / The clothes I wear is just to hide the scars / The cross I bear is etched into my skin / I run with wolves, they’re my next of kin.”

The edgy, hypnotic, pulsating bass guitar of Steve Hanley on ‘Waterman’ is complemented by Brix’s haunting vocals, transitioning to the catchy, almost upbeat pop of ‘Dinosaur Girl’. But don’t let your ears deceive you. Brix sings honestly of depression and over medication culture – “Below the excavation / Lies the remains of a Prozac nation / Just a dinosaur girl.”

‘Crash Landing’ explores themes of drug addiction and suicide against a psychedelic guitar soundscape, enhanced by the inclusion of violinist Sarah Brandwood-Spencer’s blissful strings, whilst Brix and Steve Trafford share vocal duties, providing fantastical female/male harmonies for ‘Wintertyde’, arranged against spectral harpsichord.

Brix & the Extricated’s social commentary continues on ‘Wasteland’; a dark, operatic track that explores climate change, the destruction of our environment, and conspiracy through intense drum strikes, thunderous guitars, and sweeping strings. Whilst penultimate track, ‘Tannis Root’, is just as heavy, combining staccato rhythm guitar riffs with punchy, powerful basslines.

Closing Super Blood Wolf Moon with a heightened sense of foreboding, ‘The God Stone’ begins with Sarah’s deeply moving strings, building up to a crescendo of eccentric electric guitar. A fitting finale to an often uncomfortable and challenging record seeped in classic pop melodies, abrasive post-punk and brooding social commentary. Prepare to be extricated!

Super Blood Moon Wolf is out now via Grit Over Glamour Records.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

LISTEN: Maija Sofia – ‘The Glitter’

Following the success of last single ‘Flowers’, Irish artist Maija Sofia has now announced the release of her debut album, Bath Time – a collection of songs that were written in the run up to the Repeal The 8th Movement, and all addressing the issue of the silencing and misrepresentation of women.

In keeping with this theme, new single ‘The Glitter’ tells the story of Jean Rhys, a Carribean novelist who came to England aged sixteen and struggled with feelings of displacement. Flowing with beautiful, folk strewn melodies and Sofia’s rich luscious vocals, it sparkles with a raw emotion, creating a poignant, stirring slice of alt-folk. 

Listen to ‘The Glitter’ here:

 

Bath Time, the upcoming new album from Maija Sofia, is out 22nd November via Trapped Animal Records and Cargo Records.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

 

ALBUM: Gaptooth – ‘Sharp Minds, Raised Fists’

Gaptooth – singer, songwriter and producer Hannah Lucy – wears her influences on her sleeve (quite literally, if you check out the video for ‘Post-Patriarchy Disco’). And, like the feminist punk bands she loves, Sharp Minds, Raised Fists has purpose and a pure punk attitude. Yet the poppy synths, crunchy guitars and electro beats make it feel accessible, too.

And accessibility is everything when your message is so important. Gaptooth’s impassioned lyrics are a call to arms; a rallying cry against the patriarchy and capitalism. It’s hard not to get fired up by them. In ‘Red flags’, you feel and share her anger: “We wanna stay sexy and not get murdered,” she sings, “We’re still walking home with our keys in our fists.”

‘They Cut, We Bleed’ is peppered with samples from marches arranged by the feminist direct action group, Sisters Uncut. It feels ground-breaking and powerful. Meanwhile, ‘I Am Not My Productivity’ is an anti-capitalist anthem for anyone who feels like work is sucking the life out of them. And God, there’s a lot of us!

Sharp Minds, Raised Fists includes some more personal songs, too. ‘Mixtape Song’ and ‘Why I Left You Standing Outside Pizza Express’ offer an insight into both Hannah Lucy’s life and what it means to be a woman or non-binary person today.

This is an accomplished, important record. It sounds great; a real triumph of song-writing, performance and production. But more than that, it feels like Sharp Minds, Raised Fists could really inspire and empower people. It could soundtrack a movement.

You know the old adage about how everyone who attended the Sex Pistols gig at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester started a band? Similarly, perhaps this record will make people start a revolution.

Sharp Minds, Raised Fists is out 11th October. Pre-order on Bandcamp now.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Keira Anee Photography

ALBUM: Jenny Hval – ‘The Practice Of Love’

A confessional, intimate, emotion-spanning work; Jenny Hval‘s new album The Practice Of Love explores the spectrum of love and relationships through swirling synths and revealing lyrics. It’s a marked departure from the darkness of her 2016 album Blood Bitch, but equally as complex and memorable.

Loosely inspired by Valie Export’s 1985 film of the same name, Hval admits she’s “mostly avoided love as a topic” in her work because she views the intimacy that comes with it as “a lifelong journey”. However, it’s her desire to communicate this truth that’s fueled the creation of her new record.

Opening track ‘Lions’ is brought to life by friend & collaborator Vivian Wang’s measured voice. She guides listeners, instructing them to look across a forest landscape for a holy entity, as Hval’s ethereal vocals overlap her. The duality of the voices form separate parts of the same story, which is simultaneously off-putting and exciting.

A shimmering, textured, surreal take on creativity, second track ‘High Alice’ centers around a re-imagined version of the eponymous character from Alice In Wonderland. Here, Hval plays with the clichés surrounding what it means to be a woman who makes art. Her gentle vocals, looped beats and narrative perspective demonstrate her ability to captivate listeners with her intricate musical storytelling.

‘Accident’ (featuring Laura Jean) is a conversation between two women about birth, life, and an indifference to Motherhood. The oddly poetic line “she found stretch-mark cream in and air b&b” adds a lightness to an otherwise heavy topic. The album’s title track ‘The Practice of Love’ features the voices of Hval, Laura Jean & Vivian Wang, discussing the many strands that make up the web of love. It begs multiple listens so that each voice can be appreciated, but the overlapping of multiple different sentiments makes for a captivating listen. Self love, romantic love, platonic love – all are covered and contemplated on this piece of Hval’s puzzle of intimacy.

‘Ashes To Ashes’ is a strangely uplifting electronic affair. Hval blends gentle vocals, startling lyrics and deceptively catchy beats to communicate issues of morality. Following track ‘Thumbsucker’ (featuring Félicia Atkinson) is a pensive, curious listen that sees Hval “withdrawing word by word, back in to the rabbit hole” for safety. It’s not long before she reemerges with penultimate track ‘Six Red Cannas’ (featuring all three of her collaborators), with its catchy beats inspired by 90s trance music.

Hval closes The Practice Of Love with the humbly titled track ‘Ordinary’. It’s a charming celebration of the desire to share universal feelings, which by default makes us all very ordinary. Except, Hval’s “ordinary” isn’t quite so. Even when she strives for it, her wonderful “otherness” sets her apart from other “ordinary” artists who delve in to the same themes. That is truly worth celebrating, and practicing love for.

Jenny Hval’s new album The Practice Of Love will be released via Sacred Bones on 13th September. Pre-order your copy here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: HAVVK – ‘Cause & Effect’ (Pt.1)

From the moment Cause & Effect begins, until the last riff of latest single ‘Shifting Shape’ ends, HAVVK have your complete attention… And this is only the first chapter! Never wanting to be conventional, HAVVK have chosen to release their debut album in two halves; with the latter set for release on 22nd November. 

Beginning life in London, HAVVK now consists of Julie, Matt and Sam, who – over the years – have developed their own style of feedback-laden, ethereal alt-rock, resulting in two incredible extended plays: the self-titled HAVVK (2016) and She Knows EP (2017).

Alternating between London, Dublin, and Berlin (the latter where Cause & Effect was recorded with producer Rocky O’Reilly), the trio approach Part 1 unrestrained with a take no prisoners/punk rock attitude. Opening with ‘If I Don’t Tell You’ – a biting social commentary on social media discord – you are instantly captivated by the shimmering guitar riffs, pulsating drum beats and brooding basslines, before being transported seamlessly into ‘Birds on a Wire’.

‘Birds on a Wire’ introspectively analyses a destructive relationship through Julie’s raw, honest vocals and an expansive, melancholic sound – “When I’m trying to speak, are you listening? Do you want to hear me scream?” This is followed by ‘Always the Same’, which confronts female objectivity and toxic masculinity, as we hear Julie challenge men who make women feel unsafe as a result of their gender.

On ‘The Factory’, Julie’s vocals soar as the track ascends into a crescendo of meticulous noise, before transitioning into the post-punk x shoegazing of ‘Tunnels’.

Throughout the album, the contrasting narrative of each song is structured into a cohesive whole with each seamless transition. HAVVK have always explored lighter and louder soundscapes through political and social songwriting, and Cause & Effect is the perfect example of their euphonic activism.

HAVVK continue to agitate societal bullshit with their final track, ‘Shifting Shape’. Armed with an abrasive edge, and a quiet/loud dynamic, HAVVK waste no time in getting straight to the point: Fuck constraints, fuck traditional assumptions surrounding gender, and fuck the unwarranted, unnecessary pressure it causes.

HAVVK craft music to make a statement, and with the first six songs from Cause & Effect the band have covered a lot of ground; from inequality to gender-preconceptions. It can be exhausting, but change is happening, so let’s keep this momentum going. Bands like HAVVK are needed now more than ever.

Cause & Effect (Pt.1) is out now via Veta Records.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne