LIVE: Hilary Woods – St Pancras Old Church, London 11.06.18

Bitter sweet and deeply affecting, Irish multi-instrumentalist Hilary Woods‘ performance at St. Pancras Old Church provided a startling insight into her darkly ethereal debut album Colt, released via Sacred Bones on 8th June.

Stood behind her keyboard, Woods performed solo for most of her set with only projected visuals and a violinist to accompany her on a handful of tracks. Her achingly pure voice floated gently across the heads of her congregation, who sat listening in attentive, respectful silence.

Woods’ solo work is far removed from the alternative 90s sounds she helped to create as a member of JJ72. She’s clearly invested a painstaking amount of time and energy in assembling her new album, and the two EPs – Night (2014) and Heartbox (2016) – that preceded it. Perhaps that’s why she was so nervous performing, something she didn’t admit until the penultimate track, but she had no legitimate grounds to be on edge. Her recent singles ‘Inhaler’, ‘Prodigal Dog’ and ‘Black Rainbow’ were all mesmerising, even in their stripped back states.

Footage from her recent videos played out across the back wall of the Church, as Woods performed beautiful renditions of ‘Take Him In’, ‘Kith’ and ‘Limbs’, the latter standing out due to Woods’ clear, measured vocal delivery. Switching between keys and guitar with eas, Woods’ performance style was quiet and introspective, but its impact was one of powerful, all encompassing melancholy.

Whilst Colt is an album about grief, loss and abandonment, we left St Pancras Old Church awash with raw and unexpected emotion, feeling like we’d gained rather than lost something from Woods’ performance.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: June 2018

We’re mid-way through 2018, and we’re ready to share another playlist packed with fresh new sounds for your very eager ears! Take some time to scroll through our track selections, hit play on the Spotify link below, and let your ears fill up with the glorious new sounds of June…

Fever Ray – ‘If I Had A Heart’
Fever Ray were one of the headliners of Field Day this year and it could not have been a better end to the festival, hypnotic beats, terrifyingly warped vocals and an explosive stage performance. Gender bending outfits, with reverberating sound all whipped up together by the psychedelic and endorphin inducing visuals. When this track started I lost my mind – wow wow wow. (Tash Walker)

Catgod – ‘Keep My Promises’
Lead by sibling duo Robin and Catherine, Catgod’s new single interweaves swirling folk-tinged melodies with trip-hop inspired beats. As Robin’s soaring vocals are perfectly complemented by Cat’s exquisite harmonies, it showcases the band’s unique musicality in a cinematic soundscape that’ll captivate on first listen. Heartbeat In My Hand, the debut EP from Catgod, is out 22nd June. (Mari Lane)

Dott – ‘Bleached Blonde’
Galway’s Dott have released the perfect single for girls who love sunshine, surfing, and super-catchy garage pop anthems. The track is taken from their upcoming album Heart Swell, which is set to be released via Graveface Records on 8th June. It’s not on Spotify yet, but you can watch the video for it below. (Kate Crudgington)

S4U – ‘Heart’
‘Heart’ is the latest single London-based duo S4U (Something For You) taken from their upcoming Mixtape Heart 2 Say, which will be released via Different Recordings on 6th July. Looking forward to that a lot… I’m loving S4U’s new low-slung R&B experimental electro with some heavy 90s influences. Of the track S4U says “Curved, Parallel conscious, sub conscious, the synergy of heart and mind generates wise choices that benefit all. In other words as you appreciate that which is appreciating you. It is a wonderful thing to hold someone as your object of attention while you feel that G force Roses in Britain” Lovely. (TW)

The Menstrual Cramps – ‘Make Girls Feel Good’
Combining activism with musical prowess, The Menstrual Cramps provide a captivating force that we all need now more than ever.  With their fist-clenching ferocity, racing catchy hooks and a tongue in cheek wit, they create truly infectious punk-rock anthems. And this track is no exception – an epic dose of empowering energy, with lyrics like “you always look like such perfection that you don’t even need to try”, it’ll leave you feeling good and ready to take on the world. And we CANNOT WAIT to see The Menstrual Cramps headline for us at The Finsbury on Friday(ML) 

Slowcoaches – ‘Found Down’
Having previously captured our hearts with the totally epic, anti-toxic-masculinity anthem ‘Complex’, Slowcoaches are back with a new single. Racing with a seething energy, ‘Found Down’ hits your ears with its scuzzy riffs and the raw, angst-driven vocals of Heather Perkins. Oozing an immense, punk-fuelled power, it’s a perfect blast of raging honesty that we need now more than ever. (ML)

Placebo – ‘Scared Of Girls’
I scored tickets to Placebo’s Meltdown gig at Southbank Centre (curated by Robert Smith) and although this will be the fourth time I’ve seen them (quit bragging Kate), my heart is still beating double time with joy at the prospect of potentially hearing this track live. I imagine this song title accurately describes how most men feel when they see me dancing to it on a night out… (KC)

The Joy Formidable – ‘Dance Of The Lotus’
This is the band responsible for getting me in to alternative music a decade ago, so when I heard new single ‘Dance Of The Lotus’, my inner 18 year old imploded. They’re playing Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival on the same day as NIN, and they’ll be playing at one of my favourite venues, The Lexington, in August. I missed out on tickets for both, so if anyone wants to help a girl out…I write good reviews… (KC)

Hilary Woods – ‘Inhaler’
‘Inhaler’ is the first single from Hilary Woods’ upcoming debut solo album Colt, which is set to be released via my favourite label Sacred Bones Records on 8th June. It’s a pensive, delicate, melancholy track about her struggles with homesickness, and it’s going to sound beautiful live when ringing out against the walls of St Pancras Old Church on 11th June. (KC)

VTR – ‘Soul To Skin’
‘Soul To Skin’ is taken from Brixton duo VTR’s recently released EP of the same name via Dream Diary. So sultry, so smooth, so seductive. This track reverberates around my ears giving me so much audible pleasure, very excited to hear more from these two in the future. (TW)

Barrie – ‘Tal Uno’
The new single from Brooklyn’s Barrie, ‘Tal Uno’ is filled with jangly hooks and swooning vocals, creating a totally dreamy, twinkling soundscape. As glistening synth-filled melodies glide alongside glitchy beats, it’s impossible not to float away in the shimmering, psychedelic haze that Barrie create. (ML)

ELA Lindsey – ‘Healing Me Slow’
This is the debut track from Nashville’s singer-songwriter ELA Lindsey who found her musical passion later in life starting at the age of 29. She says that by releasing this single she hopes to inspire other women to start their artistic journeys later than the typical industry standard usually allows. ‘Healing Me Slow’ has been firmly stuck in my head over the last couple of weeks, starting with her sweet and gentle vocals, then breaking down into this dark electro synth laden TUNE. With all the hooks and loops I could ever want. INTO IT. (TW)

Tigercats – ‘Candy’s Tailor’
Tigercats’ new single ‘Candy’s Tailor’ is filled with twinkling, jangly melodies and uptempo, calypso-like beats. Flowing with raw vocals and rich layers of sound, it’s an utterly uplifting summer anthem, and I’m already getting pretty excited about seeing these guys at Indietracks Festival next month! Pig City, the new album from Tigercats, is out now. (ML)

Nine Inch Nails – ‘Ringfinger’
I only discovered the true glory of NINs last year (always late to the party, when will I learn?) but I’m seeing Trent Reznor & co twice this month – at Meltdown Festival & The Royal Albert Hall – and I am nerve-shreddingly excited. ‘Ringfinger’ is one of my favourite tracks on 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine, and although they’re unlikely to play it live – I’ll still be bouncing off the walls in anticipation leading up to the gigs. (KC)

Photo Credit: Slowcaoches shot by Priti Shikotra

INTERVIEW: Hilary Woods

When news reached our ears that Dublin-based artist Hilary Woods had signed to Sacred Bones – a label which hosts our favourites Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval and The Soft Moon – our excitement for her debut album, Colt, gave us palpitations. Both Woods (a former member of JJ72) and Sacred Bones have a reputation for releasing altruistic sounds, so the pairing felt like a divine meeting of musical talent and opportunity.

Hyperbole aside, it’s clear from singles ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Prodigal Dog’ that Hilary Woods’ debut LP is going to be an exquisitely painful listen. Soaked in stark, minimalist, ambient electronic sounds that explore feelings surrounding grief and abandonment, her melancholic music is the perfect fit for venues like St. Pancras Old Church, which she headlines on 11th June (tickets available here).

We caught up with Woods to talk about her anticipations for this show, her multi-disciplinary creativity and what went into the making of her debut album…

Can you tell us a little bit about your recent single ‘Prodigal Dog’? What went into the making of this track, and why you chose to release it as a single?

I made the album without thinking of singles, pretty naïve really! But I think when ‘Prodigal Dog’ was suggested as a single it made sense. This was the first track I recorded in the record making process, bringing it to James we spent a lot of time on drum sounds and enjoyed layering vocals.

Your debut album has been described as “an intensely personal journey through grief, abandonment and mutating love”. How did you manage to translate these emotions into lyrics and music? Do you have a particular process when it comes to song-writing that you follow, or is it a more improvisational?

I’d say both, usually songs either arise after a lot of playing around and experimenting, or they just appear like a bolt. I think emotions and feeling are translated in any given process whether subconsciously or consciously.

You recently signed to Sacred Bones, who we love. What is it about the record label that drew you in? They’re on the ball when it comes to modern electronic music. Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval & The Soft Moon in particular are our favourites (and you of course)…

Thank you! I love their aesthetic, integrity and taste, that’s what drew me in, I’m a fan of many of my label mates.

You were a film, literature and fine-art student back in Dublin. Your music is intensely cinematic and your visuals are highly ornate: did studying a variety of subjects help you to develop your own sound and style easier than if you’d simply chosen to study one specific thing? Would you recommend a multi-disciplinary approach to other creatives?

I don’t know if I’d recommend anything! Everyone is on their own trajectory. In my case I was curious. I liked getting my hands dirty and the physicality of painting. Re studies: I went to college to get out of the house, literally. I needed some structure at that point in my life and I was lucky enough to be awarded some funding to go. It was all a bonus then to be super excited by what I encountered and be inspired by the material I was reading and seeing.

You described Colt as a way to “explore aloneness”, which is particularly poignant as many people use music to escape this feeling. What artists or bands do you listen to when you want to feel less alone?

Gosh, I think a good definition of a good film is one which makes you feel less alone, Music wise: I genuinely don’t have one specific answer to that, anything from Sybille Baier to Jlin to Father John Misty and beyond.

You have two upcoming London shows, St Pancras Old Church on June 11th and Southbank’s Meltdown Festival with Moon Duo on 20th June. What are you anticipating from these gigs?

I’m looking forward to them, they’ll be intimate and atmospheric.

Finally, you’ll be playing at The Sugar Club in Dublin on 14th September. It’s a hometown show, so are you anticipating something extra special from the night?

It’s always different playing at home, feels more vulnerable if anything. It’s a beautiful space with the best of promoters and a great PA and some good friends helping out. I have some plans for it, it’ll definitely be a special one for me.

Huge thanks to Hilary for answering our questions.
Colt is released via Sacred Bones on 8th June. Pre-order your copy here.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE: Mesadorm – St Pancras Old Church, 14.05.18

Mesadorm‘s loyal congregation formed in St Pancras Old Church last night to witness the band’s captivating performance of songs from their debut album, Heterogaster. Formed in Bristol in 2015, the collective have dedicated themselves to the task of creating beautiful “left-field electronica” which kept their fans spellbound from start to finish.

All adorned in fluorescent blue eye make-up, the band were bathed in atmospheric light for the duration of their performance. Front-woman Blythe Pepino (formerly of Vaults) stood tall in her smart blue suit, her soulful voice ringing out with strength and grace.

Blythe explained the album’s title-song ‘Heterogaster’ was taken from the name of a species of spider whose appearance resembles the petals of an orchid. With this image in mind, the band channelled their music in to exploring themes of deception and illusion, both internally and externally. She happily explained the meaning behind tracks like ‘Colour and Sound’ and ‘Alice’, and clearly took pride in revealing that ‘Easy’ had been recommended by BBC Radio 6’s Lauren Laverne earlier in the day.

The set flowed in an assured, patient manner. The tentative ‘Tell Me’ and ‘Drink You’  contrasted beautifully next to the chaotic and brilliant single ‘Yours and Not Yours’. The jagged synths, dreamy interlude and cathartic outro were complimented by the stunning use of strobes and heavily-coloured light, making this track the highlight of their performance.

Whether they’re performing intricate electronic ballads, or stunning their fans with singles like ‘Yours and Not Yours’, one thing about Mesadorm and their debut album is is clear: their musical skills are anything but deceptive.

Support came from Dear Robot

Follow Mesadorm on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut