FIVE FAVOURITES: girlhouse

A creator of intuitive, catchy indie-pop anthems, Portland-born Nashville-based musician girlhouse aka Lauren Luiz’s debut self-titled EP rings with an earnest charm. Inspired by her relationships, personal learning curves and navigating a new life in L.A, the record balances the joys and frustrations she experienced whilst living in the City Of Angels.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with girlhouse to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for her recent single ‘Pretty Girl in LA’ at the end of this post.

1. Sharon Van Etten – ‘Seventeen’
I made the girlhouse EP when I was in the last year of my 20’s and this song became a big part of the soundtrack for that time in my life. The production is so simple but also so huge. I think it lends itself to the story so well. Everything sonically about this song is incredible. Sharon’s vocals also shred in this song. I wish I could go back in time and talk to myself when I was a teenager. I think I would tell her to talk slower and stop trying to be everything for everyone. The music video is so simple and tells the story so perfectly.

2. Big Thief – ‘Shark Smile’
Adrianne Lenker’s style of writing has been a big inspiration for my lyrics for a while now. I think her storytelling and melodies are so poetic and creative, I listen to her songs and it really makes me want to push myself to be better. This song is about a car accident where someone dies but it doesn’t feel sad, it’s really dark and complex! I wanna write songs like that. It was so hard picking just one Big Thief song. The first time I heard them I was on tour while I was driving late at night. I didn’t want to stop driving so I could get through their whole catalogue. I can’t remember where we were or where we were driving to, but it fit perfectly.

3. Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Smoke Signals’
I, like many people with a pulse, am obsessed with Phoebe Bridgers and the honesty in her lyrics. This album put me in a dark place for a long time but art is supposed to do that sometimes, it made me feel things! Phoebe is another one that really makes me wanna be better. She and I used to live in the same neighborhood in LA, I saw her at a yoga class one time in eagle rock and wanted to say Hi so badly, but I got nervous. I think I read that this song was about someone trying to get her attention or breaking up with someone? It’s hard to push someone away, doesn’t feel good ever. I really appreciate her writing about things that aren’t necessarily pretty or perfect.

4. Decemberists – ‘Make You Better’
Picking one Decemberists song is like picking my favourite dog, nearly impossible and a viscerally painful process. This was the first band I ever stanned HARD. They’re from the Pacific Northwest as well so I’ve seen them play Edgefield (an amazing outdoor venue in Oregon) COUNTLESS times, it’s possibly the best vibe in the world. Writing with Colin Meloy has been a goal since I was 12. I picked this song because I feel like it represents how I feel about most of the relationships I’ve had in my life/ I used to be all about seeing the “potential” in people instead of accepting who they are in the moment and that was shitty of me. You gotta let people be people.

5. Lucy Dacus – ‘Night Shift’
For me, there is no better breakup song than this one. I love how the lyrics feel like a letter or a journal entry. It reminds me of being in the valley in LA for some reason, I feel like most of the people I dated and had break-ups with lived in the valley. Lucy’s style of singing feels so effortless and easy to listen to, I don’t feel like she’s trying to do anything cool, she just is the coolest!

Watch the video for girlhouse’s new single ‘Pretty Girl in LA’ below.

Follow girlhouse on SpotifyTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Alex Justice

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: Love & Solidarity

It’s safe to say that each and every one of us right now is going through a hard time; a scary, strange time filled with uncertainty and fear. A time when feelings of anxiety are heightened and we need to seek refuge in our favourite music more than ever. We wanted to put together a few tunes to soothe the soul; to calm and to motivate. Some music to aid positive thoughts and relaxation, as taking time for yourself to switch off and de-stress is so essential right now. Take a deep breath, unwind and let us send you all a big dose of love and solidarity as you hit play and follow this playlist. (link at the end of the page)

Le Tigre – ‘Eau D’Bedroom Dancing’
Because I need Kathleen’s voice more than ever right now. This chilled number from one of my favourite albums, Le Tigre’s Deceptacon, just oozes so much twinkling heartfelt emotion from Hanna that my heart bursts a little more on each listen. Also, we will all no doubt be doing plenty of ‘Bedroom Dancing’ over the next few weeks/months…(Mari Lane)

Noga Erez – ‘Global Fear’
I listened to this track at least once a day on my commute to work pre-pandemic because, despite its melancholy context, I find it really relaxing. I’m a big fan of Noga Erez anyway, but I find her music extra impressive at a time like this, because it makes me feel both alienated and connected at the same time. She’s set to release her second album at some point this year, and that’s a small thing I’m holding on to. (Kate Crudgington)

Nilüfer Yanya – ‘Tears’
One of my favourite tracks from Nilüfer Yanya, and a slight move away from her guitar heavy tunes, ‘Tears’ captures you and takes you along with its bouncing beats and sad reflective lyrics. It’s been great to watch this artist reach the acclaim she so rightly deserves, and it reminds me of a personal highlight seeing her play at Primavera 2019. It was the definition of sun-drenched guitars. (Tash Walker)

Sink Ya Teeth – ‘Breathe’
Taken from their latest album Two, here our favourite Norwich duo create a soothing, sparkling majesty; oozing the soaring, calming vibes that we all need right now, it’s a truly exquisite offering, highlighting that it’s more important than ever now to make time each day to switch off, to simply breathe. And if you do that whilst listening to this euphoric soundscape, I guarantee it’ll make you feel a little better. (ML)

Massive Attack – ‘Safe From Harm’
This Massive Attack tune never fails to calm me down. The snaking bass lines and Shara Nelson’s mesmerising vocals override the threats being explored in the lyrics, making it an oddly soothing listen. (KC)

Portishead – ‘Roads’
Taken from my most listened to album of all time, ‘Roads’ is one of those tracks that never fails to calm me. With a cathartic raw emotion and whirring energy that builds with each throbbing beat, I find something deeply therapeutic about it. It’s the same with the whole of Dummy, but this song is probably just a notch above the rest. Listen, close your eyes and let the impassioned grace of Beth Gibbons’ heartfelt vocals take you down a road of healing. (ML)

Elsa Hewitt – ‘Tiny Dancer’
Whatever your mood, electronic artist & producer Elsa Hewitt has a tune to accompany it. I was so caught up in her live set when she played for us at Notting Hill Arts Club in 2018, I could’ve listened to her mixing and triggering her ambient tunes all night. A perfect distraction in these strange times. (KC)

Amahla – ‘Old Soul’
Hackney-Native Amahla blew us away ‘Old Soul’ at the beginning of 2019 and has just kept getting better. It was a complete pleasure to see her perform for our IWD x Sofar Sounds gig a couple of weeks back. Listening to this song now, it leaves me reflecting on the older generations of our society, who we must all rally around as a community to help support through this uncertain time. (TW)

Babeheaven – ‘Seabird’
A perfectly dreamy accompaniment to gazing out the window at the beautiful blossom and budding dafs swaying in the breeze; a reminder that nature carries on, birds will continue to sing, flowers continue to grow, even when everything else is in disarray. I’ve found it really grounding over the last couple of weeks to focus on this, to seek solace in nature. And the luscious, soulful energy and beautifully rich vocals of ‘Seabird’ couldn’t be more welcome right now. (ML)

Connie Constance – ‘English Rose’
I first heard this cover about a year ago, but it’s really resonating with me at the moment, especially with the moments I go outside. Originally by The Jam, for me Connie Constance’s cover is the soundtrack to my daily stroll, enjoying every second I can of being outside at a time when we really value the things we used to take for granted. (TW)

Christine and the Queens – ‘Mountains (We Met)’
This track has been playing on repeat in my flat over the last couple of weeks, loved so much by my girlfriend who it brings a real sense of calm to. It reminds me of how lucky I am to be in lockdown with my loved ones, and the importance of staying connected week to week. Connected, we are a community, and communities can survive anything with love and solidarity. (TW)

Sharon Van Etten – ‘Beaten Down’
A poignant reflection on “love, patience and empathy”, Sharon Van Etten’s voice smoulders across dark synths, atmospheric keys and sparse echoing beats on this track. “‘Beaten Down’ is about making life-changing choices and remaining strong enough to see them through”, Etten explains. I think it’s okay to admit that the current situation has beaten most of us down, but I think you’ll be surprised how resilient you can be in the face of adversity too.
(KC)

Rilo Kiley – ‘A Better Son/Daughter’
With its twinkling emotion strewn splendour and heartbreakingly raw honesty, this is my go-to cathartic motivational soundtrack in life generally, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve pretty much been listening to Rilo Kiley on a loop. And I feel like this song in particular, with its impassioned and relatable lyricism, is a pretty spot on mantra of hope for getting through these strange times: “… You’ll fight it, and you’ll make it through… You’ll be awake, you’ll be alert // You’ll be positive though it hurts // And you’ll laugh and embrace all your friends…” (ML)

Mazzy Star – ‘Fade Into You’
One of the most beautiful and touching songs, from ’90s slow-core band Mazzy Star. ‘Fade Into You’ is so slow, considered and full of emotion, it’s hard not to get completely mesmerised by it. Escapism at its best. (TW)

Wolf Alice – ‘Blush’
I can’t listen to a Wolf Alice track without experiencing a flood of emotion. Most of the time it’s a giddy feeling that makes me want to stomp about and sing Ellie Rowsell’s lyrics really loudly; but with ‘Blush’, I always get a bit choked. It’s such a soft, romantic, sentimental tune. I’m looking forward to singing “Punch drunk, dumb struck, pot luck, happy happy” into my sisters’ faces again when all this blows over. (KC)

Kate Tempest – ‘People’s Faces’
There is so much that is so perfectly poignant in this song – the glaringly honest and completely relevant social commentary showcases Tempest’s unique poetic skill at creating relevant and hugely emotive social narratives. But a subtle glimmer of hope also shines through; the comfort we gain from those we love, and the comfort we can offer them just by being there (even over a Zoom or Skype meet!). So, even when it feels like the world is ending, we can still find happiness in each other: “… then we smile at all our friends… Even when I’m weak and I’m breaking… I can see your faces. There is so much peace to be found in people’s faces.” (ML)

Track Of The Day: Sharon Van Etten – ‘Beaten Down’

Dark synths, atmospheric keys, and sparse echoing beats permeate ‘Beaten Down’, the latest single from Sharon Van Etten. A poignant reflection on “love, patience and empathy”, Etten’s voice smolders throughout the track, which is accompanied by a beautifully shot black & white video, directed by Nicky and Juliana Giraffe (Giraffe Studios).

“‘Beaten Down’ is about making life-changing choices and remaining strong enough to see them through”, Etten explains. This subtle strength permeates the song, in which she transforms vulnerability into sounds that help to strengthen a backbone in the face of adversity.

“Upon hearing the song, our minds automatically drifted into stark black and white, fever dreams, dark silhouettes contrasted against a barren desert landscape”, explain directors Nicky and Juliana. The visuals feature both Etten, and twin dancing duo Allison and Veronica Huber. “Our intention was to give Sharon’s song and performance space to breathe and echo” they explain further. “It was important to us that the dancers were strongly connected.”

This connection between the sounds and visuals makes Etten’s latest single a compelling, intensely repeatable listen. Watch the video for ‘Beaten Down’ below, and follow Sharon Van Etten on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Heather Woods Broderick – ‘Invitation’

Oregon-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Heather Woods Broderick releases her third album Invitation this month. Having toured with Sharon Van Etten, Efterklang, and Lisa Hannigan, her new album is laden with dreamy Baroque pop sounds, built around piano and vocal melodies, with poetic lyrics inspired by her move to a quiet corner of the Pacific North West.

Opener ‘Stilling Wind’, with its gentle electronics and slow dreamy guitar, deals with memories invoked by once familiar landscapes – “how did you slow the tide and disappear so quickly… Have I changed yet, or do my habits still remain?” The lush atmosphere leads into the beautifully poetic ‘I Try’, whilst imagery of the natural surroundings intertwines with the music in the country-sounding ‘Nightcrawler’, and in ‘Where I Lay’ producing a haunting effect.

The piano opens out into an elegiac chorus, like the powerful, crashing waves of the landscape in ‘Slow Dazzle’, and ‘A Daydream’ provide moments of pleasure in solitude, before the pace picks up again on ‘White Tail’ with its nocturnal forest sounds and ethereal vocal exploring Heather’s experiences with depression and finding a transcendence.

The beautifully personal piano ballads ‘Quicksand’ and ‘My Sunny One’ deal with alcoholism and failed relationships respectively, whilst closing track ‘Invitation’ completes the journey of self-acceptance: “I left that candle burning… I dreamt it took me last night into the darker side of life.”

I too accept the invitation this delicately-crafted album offers for introspection and the beauty found in stillness. The sentiment, that it is not the fear of falling, but getting back up again, recurs throughout each captivating song, offering hope and light.

Invitation is out 19th April via Western Vinyl.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker