Five Favourites: SRSQ

‘Saved for Summer’ is the latest single from American ethereal-pop artist Kennedy Ashlyn – aka SRSQ (pronounced seer-skew), taken from her latest album Ever Crashing. Although Summer may be over, this is the powerful pop anthem we need to get us through the upcoming gloomy winter. Opening with a fun ’80s synth-pop beat followed by a thick lush synth pad and a fuzzy catchy guitar riff, it’s clear from the start that this track is going to have an impact. Full of atmospheric layers and ethereal sounds, a frenzied cacophony builds, but in a way that immerses you completely. Ashlyn’s voice is theatrical and powerful and her eclectic genre-bending style brings to mind artists like Kate Bush and St Vincent. The recurring vocal “oohs” lodge themselves in the ears and stay there all day long. Of the lyrics, Ashlyn explains: “Saved for Summer’ echoes the yearning to escape a depressive miasma, the desperate desire to stop watching life through a window”.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the recent release of Ever Crashing, we caught up with SRSQ to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and be sure to watch the trippy new video for the ‘Saved For Summer’ at the end of this feature.

The Horrors – Primary Colours
This album has consistently been in my top three favourite albums since it came out over a decade ago, which I think might make it my favourite record. I was 15 when it came out, and what really drew me to it was the sound design and guitar tones, which I still think are very unique, but at the time I hadn’t heard anything even close to similar. I remember hearing in an interview that the guitarist actually made a lot of his own pedals, which I had never even heard of at the time. The sound is simultaneously ambient and harsh, and you can definitely hear that influence in my music. I also think the album starts in such an intriguing way and has such a captivating arc, it’s really an enchanting listen. 

Slowdive – Souvlaki
My TAUT bandmate Cash introduced me to this album when I was 19, and it was love at first listen. This album is one of the best examples of how sound itself can be vastly emotional, outside of the songwriting, beyond the lyrics – how the textures and timbres can pull at your heartstrings and reach you in a deep visceral way. I saw them live the following year at the Fox Theater in Oakland, and in between songs they would sometimes break out into this ambient harsh noise, and these were the most beautiful and impactful parts of the performance. They have an uncanny ability to create a synesthesia of sound and feeling, and I don’t think anyone does it better.

Cocteau Twins – Garlands
Though it’s hard to choose, I’m pretty sure this is my favourite Cocteau Twins record. It’s just so driving, and the guitar tones are so perfect – it’s moody and beautiful, and solid from start to finish. Cocteau Twins were (are) my mom’s favourite band, so I listened to them growing up and kind of wrote them off as a teen, assuming it was “mom music.” When I started writing what would become the songs on Remain, my mom heard them and told me I needed to get back into Cocteau Twins, and burned me a few CDs. I obviously fell back in love immediately, and it was an interesting experience being subconsciously familiar with all of the material while still feeling like I was hearing it for the first time. I think it’s super interesting how everyone points out an “obvious Cocteau Twins influence” in Them Are Us Too, but I didn’t actually get back into them until after writing most of the songs on the first record, so that influence was largely subconscious, at least in the songwriting stage. 

Beach House – Bloom 
I honestly think this is a perfect album, I’m not even really sure what else I can say about it. The songwriting, the tones, the production, the mix- all of it is just phenomenal. Every element just shows true mastery of the craft. Cash considered Beach House one of her greatest inspirations for guitar work. I was lucky enough to see them three times while they were touring for this record, and I still remember those shows vividly. One time was at a festival (I don’t remember which) and they performed in front of a sunset over the water. A breathtaking moment. 

The Knife – Deep Cuts
I think a lot of records could have gone into this fifth and final slot, (Loveless and Disintegration come to mind), but I think this one is a little less obvious of an influence, which is why I wanted to touch on it. The Knife have truly some of the most unique and genre-defying sound palettes – what they create is truly their own in every way. The sounds and the songs are strange, but they just work. I also love that they put ‘Heartbeats’ in a commercial, totally blew up, turned the band into an anti-capitalist collective, put out one more record, and then dissolved the project. And when they toured on Shaking the Habitual, they had a bunch of performers onstage, which obscured who “The Knife” actually were, as like a statement about art and celebrity and consumption of artists, and they didn’t play ‘Heartbeats’ – both of which pissed off the audience who only knew them from their commercial success. It’s like the most punk shit I’ve ever heard of. 

Huge thanks to SRSQ for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch the self-directed, wonderfully psychedelic new video for ‘Saved For Summer’ here:

‘Saved For Summer’ is produced by Chris Coady (Beach House, Slowdive). Ever Crashing, the second album from SRSQ, is out now via Dais Records.

Ella Patenall
@ellapatenall

Photo Credit: Nedda Asfari

LISTEN: Indigo Sparke – ‘Pressure In My Chest’

Pressure In My Chest‘ is the first track from Australian born/New York based Indigo Sparke’s upcoming album, Hysteria. Profound in its simplicity, the track sets the tone for an album that promises to explore rich emotional depths.

The song begins with soft vocals and guitars, with light touches of percussion shimmering in the background; a gentle track, slow paced with soft notes throughout. As more instruments are introduced, it doesn’t get louder or busier – instead, every line complements every other, so the music swells. It grows bolder as the song ramps up to its most intense point, echoing the sensation of the titular pressure.

The music feels almost minimalist, but only because the different instruments are working together so effectively. They provide a firm foundation for the vocals to dance over, carrying the impassioned feeling of the song; the lyrics float, adrift in the emotion that the song preserves. The lyrics themselves don’t give any direct details of the story that has brought us to this point, but they don’t need to. The sentimental metaphors in the verses, with vague allusions to ambitions and relationships, are universal enough that anyone can project their own personal context onto them.

Regardless of the experiences that cause it, the intensity of the feeling in the chorus is easy to connect to. The lyrics perfectly describe the way that emotions, when they’re powerful enough, feel like they’re manifesting physically and eclipse whatever else is around you in that moment. As a standalone song, ‘Pressure In My Chest’ captures and reflects that sensation. Of the track, Sparke explains:

In the birth of memory, there is the eternal moment of time. All things exist here. Through night dreams and wishes, and hot tears and laughing stars, I carried myself to the desert to traverse the landscape of history and reconcile the ever present Pressure in my Chest.

As a teaser for the new album, ‘Pressure In My Chest’ paves the way for a record that is heavy with emotion, beautifully capturing the essence of the most intense feelings people can experience.

Watch the new, Madeline Clayton-directed video for ‘Pressure In My Chest’ here:

Hysteria, the upcoming new album from Indigo Sparke, is set for release on 7th October via Sacred Bones.

Kirstie Summers
@actuallykurt

Photo Credit:  Angela Ricciardi

Track Of The Day: Ghost Car – ‘Conch Pearl’

With a chaotically wonderful feminist energy, London-based international punk quartet Ghost Car debut their latest spunky single ‘Conch Pearl‘. Continuing on their garage-pop path, Ghost Car come out eager with an undeniably grungy, racing drive that is sure to have you head-banging on first listen.

Reminiscent of The Runaways as well as LA based social-pop band LavaLove, ‘Conch Pearl’ feels both old and new when it comes to the track’s disposition. Whimsical, swinging vocals give Ghost Car a vintage ’60s energy, draped over overdriven, explosive rock guitar that oozes a fierce, raw emotion. And what is baked out of these juxtaposing influences feels glamorous and cathartic.

‘Conch Pearl’ is captivating and quick-witted from its start with a riff-driven intro that sets the rest of the track off to the races. Rolling drums stop for nobody, fuelling the track with a frenzied urgency. Ghost Car ask “What do you see?” as a repetitive, punk refrain that feels intimidating in the best way possible. Of the track, the band explain:

It’s a feminist commentary on women/queer community being ‘shrunk down’ to fit a mould. The idea of a conch shell closing up, closing yourself off to the world vs opening up. We wanted to use the obsession with the pearl to represent the possession that is sometimes manifested towards women, something all of us have experienced first-hand at some point in our lives”.

This latest offering from Ghost Car is tough, empowered and dainty all at once. As ‘Conch Pearl’ oscillates, the song’s build never loses motivation – adding in more guitar, increasingly energized drums and layers of niche vocal yelling sounds to bring the track to a roaring climax. It does not let go of you – and keeps you utterly immersed for its whole ride. A short, sweet blast of glistening post-punk energy.

Truly Trash, the debut album from Ghost Car, is set for release on 28th October via One Little Independent Records.

Jill Goyeau
@jillybean

Photo Credit: Patrick Smith

ALBUM: Stella Donnelly – ‘Flood’

Just like the Australian shorebirds that adorn the cover of Flood, Stella Donnelly is in flux; wading into the water with an introspective sophomore record flowing with playful observations on human dynamics. Unlike the previous punk snark of her guitar-driven debut LP Beware of the Dogs, or her 2018 EP Thrush Metal, Flood feels far more self reflective and personal.

During her time living in Bellingen, the Aussie singer-songwriter reconnected with herself through birdwatching, forgetting who she was as a musician; a humbling experience of just being her “small self”. Leaving the subtropical rainforest, and passing through new locations like Fremantle, Williams, Guilderton, Margaret River and Melbourn, brought new approaches to her creativity. Donnelly spreads her wings on Flood; a collection of eleven narrative-driven tracks that are unafraid of showing vulnerability.

Uniquely, Donnelly writes from the perspective of various personas. Opening with indie-pop track ‘Lungs’ – the first single released from the LP – Donnelly assumes the role of a intimidatingly honest child whose family has just been evicted. “we put up with your shit to keep the power on / and I see the way you look at my dad and mum.” Lyrically it’s a stark contrast to the infectious instrumentation; a combination of twangy bass and bright, snappy synth. “Long live the asbestos on the rental!”

Delivering her verses in Courtney Barnett-esque spoken-word across breezy riffs, ‘How Was Your Day?’ reveals a struggling relationship through fragments of conversations; at odds with the warm tone of the track. “You said ‘I can’t do this anymore, I can’t do this anymore’ / We let our patterns of bad behaviours take over / I’m no longer keeping score.” ‘Restricted Account’ follows with a cacophony of melancholic piano notes and reverberated flugelhorn – courtesy of Jack Gaby and Julia Wallace respectively – before fading out to ‘Underwater’, Donnelly’s poignant lyrics tackling domestic abuse with sensitivity and understanding. “They say it takes a person seven tries to leave it / I can remember at least five.”

From the dreamy, brass-laden ‘Medals’, the piano-centric ballad ‘Move Me’, to the sweet sing-song melody of title track ‘Flood’, Donnelly’s soft vocals deliver astute observations over an expansive sound; tracks that rhythmically and thematically ebb and flow. ‘This Week’ ruminates on mental health, celebrating small moments of relief through self-care. “I know, not to get my hopes up / but I feel better.” But it’s the deeply personal, melancholic elegy, ‘Oh My My My’, that sees the Australian artist at her most vulnerable; grieving the loss of her grandmother.

The painfully literal ‘Morning Silence’ laments the generational “same old fight” of sexual and physical assault, before closing track ‘Cold’ finds Donnelly exploring Dolores O’Riordan-esque harmonies over a piano-led ethereal soundscape until the final cathartic chant: “You are not big enough for my love.” Like its predecessor, Flood engages its listeners with meaningful, empathetic storytelling and dry wit; the end result being a poignant soundtrack to the last days of summer when reality settles in.

 

Follow Stella Donnelly on Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Order your copy of Flood here

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne