Today, Amsterdam-based indie folk singer/songwriter VanWyck released her latest, an eleven track gem of an album titled An Average Woman. But, from the very first notes of the title track, the listener is aware that VanWyck does not fit the “average” mold. In fact, it begs the listener to question what “average” is, and allows us the reminder to be cognizant of calling anyone or anything “normal”. After the beautiful trickle-slow intro that is “An Average Woman”, “Red River Girl” provides a little more mellifluous composition instrumentally, really utilizing the strings to pull at your heartstrings.
By “Listen to You Breathe”, it is quite obvious that this album is going to largely exist in a slow soundspace, which we are completely on board with. We have noticed a lot lately that bands have been bringing more upbeat tempos in to more introspective tracks to give them a dimension of feeling fun. What’s beautiful and alluring about VanWyck is that she sings the songs as she means them. There is depth and immense emotion in her vocals, something you certainly can’t teach.
This entire album is a keeper, moreso for a day when you feel like sipping a hot cup of tea and journaling, or you’re looking for a playlist for your family dinner. It brings up key concepts about confidence, freedom, and being a damn badass as a woman, in a smoky and intense way that only VanWyck could accomplish. With the spotlight on so many issues regarding women recently, it feels nice to cocoon inside art that understands the complex nature of the human female.
“Europa Escapes” might be one of our favorites because it is more theatrical and feels like the Wild Wild West, yet with a woman at the forefront on vocals, which you almost never find. In fact, we would compare this track to one of our favorite male vocalists Radiator King, edgy and drawing a different attitude than its predecessors. We are also completely enamored by last track “Whole Again”, which seems to be more about VanWyck’s personal journey, tying the piece together in only a way that she can. It’s uplifting, conscientiously empowered despite the careful, quiet nature of the instrumentals that lead us out and onto another musical journey in our day.
An Average Woman is available here.
UK-based musician Ian Parton has developed a new and invigorating sound in this second iteration of The Go! Team, live players Simone Odaranile (drums) and Angela ‘Maki’ Won-Yin Mak (vocals), as well as two original members, guitarist Sam Dook and rapper Ninja. With the help of a few more friends, the project releases its brand new album Semicircle on Friday. Just ahead of its release, we got a little listen to what’s to come and, boy, were we blown away!
From the very first notes of “Mayday” to the very end of twelfth song “Get Back Up”, you’ll be mesmerized by their energy and affinity for creating a fun and uplifting soundscape for us. Though the vocals in “Chain Link Fence” feel slightly like turn of the century bubble gum pop-meets-Jackson 5, we’re certainly not knocking it. In fact, it’s what drives the song and keeps our ears glued to what’s next. It isn’t until third track “Semicircle” that we notice how intense the musicianship is in the album. (Trust us, you’ll understand when you listen.)
Fourth track “Hey!” exists, for us, behind the montage scene of a chick flick, most likely when a shopping spree is taking place. But, boy, does it bring a vitality to the album that makes us want to play it everywhere! “The Answer’s No – Now What’s The Question?” – though one of the more hilarious titles we’ve seen in a while – demonstrates the band’s ability to create depth with an often addicting, sweet-as-candy sound to it. “Chico’s Radical Decade” takes us right back in time, no vocals to be heard to distinguish it as more modern. Close your eyes and picture the brown carpet, the fun hats, people probably saying “Groovy” whether it’s culturally relevant or not…
“All The Way Live” is as sticky sweet as its predecessors, which makes us realize we’re not getting out of this one without dancing. (And we thought we could fool our coworkers into thinking we were being productive!) But doesn’t the island vibe in “If There’s One Thing You Should Know ‘If There’s One Thing You Should Know'” make you wish that it was time for some warm weather around North America at the moment? (That’s OK… this album will still be ripe for the pickin’ once spring rolls around, we guarantee it.)
Though they certainly named a few of our faves in “Tangerine / Satsuma / Clementine”, it has a little more of a mellow tempo to it, bringing our heartbeat down just slightly and adding a head bob into our awkward back and forth dance movement. And with the sentiment of the title alone of “She’s Got Guns”, we’re groovin’ around the room. While we’re on board with both the title and the percussion in “Plans Are Like A Dream U Organise”, “Getting Back Up” is so inspirational in title, instrumentals, and chorus music, that we’d be surprised if a one of you didn’t end the album with a smile on your damn face.
Says Parton of the project:
It’s about reminding yourself of the good things in life. We don’t want to be dumbly optimistic and say, ‘Hey, isn’t everything great!’ but there’s something to be said for just getting on with it, for getting organized and not letting the fuckers get you down. Party for your right to fight!
Be sure to catch The Go! Team on tour soon if you’re in the UK!
01/18 – Kingston, UK @ Banquet Records
01/19 – London, UK @ Rough Trade East
01/22 – Bristol, UK @ Rough Trade Bristol
01/23 – Nottingham, UK @Rough Trade Nottingham
* with GURR
# with Neon Saints Brass
+ with The Daniel Wakeford Experience
02/09 – Glasgow, UK @ QMU *
02/10 – Leeds, UK @ The Wardrobe *
02/11 – Brighton, UK @ The Haunt *#
02/15 – London, UK @ Electric Ballroom *+
02/16 – Newcastle, UK @ Riverside *
02/17 – Manchester, UK @ Gorilla * SOLD OUT
02/22 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
02/23 – Dunkirque @ Les 4 Ecluses
02/24 – St Malo @ Route Du Rock Festival
03/02 – Cologne, DE @ Gebäude 9
03/03 – Hamburg, DE @ Nochtspeicher
03/04 – Berlin, DE @ Bi Nuu
03/24 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
03/25 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
03/27 – San Francisco, CA @ Independent
03/29 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
03/30 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
03/31 – Vancouver, BC @ Fox
04/03 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
04/04 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
04/05 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
04/06 – Toronto, ON @ Great Hall
04/08 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair
04/09 – New York, NY@ Le Poisson Rouge
Keep up with The Go! Team here.
Sheetal Singh – former bassist for San Francisco noise pop wonder The Stratford 4 – is going in a different direction with her music, revving up to release a self-titled mini-album under her moniker Forest Bees. Originally driven by her desire to incorporate her familial history into her work, Forest Bees morphed into this beautiful – punk pitchy in its presentation, but almost earthy in tone – piece that gives the listener the impression that the musician is simultaneously experiencing an awakening of sorts.
And perhaps she did. She transformed while creating this art, and you can hear it in the soundscape. “Independence Day” is a bit of a dance track, while “Hollow Bones” fills a deeper, more primal, place in your body with differing instrumentals. While “Golden Dream” is void of the vocal warmth we would otherwise deduce from the title, we’re mesmerized by how she can still evoke a beautiful instrumental section amidst the rough, almost static, sounds that overlay the entire track. “Off Color” comes in from left field, with a hard-hitting percussion section that comes off as wonderfully experimental in tone, though the song feels more mainstream-headed than its predecessors, and we do not mean that as a negative connotation. Singh expertly rounds out the album with “Dust”, perhaps the most alluring of the five tracks. Composed of several differing tempos, this song could be equally enjoyed on a long drive, sitting with friends during wine night, and dancing in a basement club in The Village at 2am.
Forest Bees’ record release show will take place The Hemlock, San Francisco on January 25th with N. Lannon and Alexsarah. Tickets are available here. Forest Bees is available for preorder now.
Recently, Lakeland, Florida alternative musician Luke Wilmoth released a four track EP that is absolutely blissful to listen to. First track “Slow Dance” makes us feel ready for late spring nights, early summer evenings with the light glow of the sun on our shoulders as we bathe ourselves in rose colored glasses. In fact, it’s that easy-going feeling of summertime outdoors in the heat that this EP evokes for us. Which, honestly, as misplaced as that may seem in the midst of the crazy weather we’ve been having, it actually provides a soundscape escape that really adds color to those gray, dreary days that have been flooding our collective existence lately.
“San Pellegrino” feels like turn of the century indie to us, the most positive sounds to a song that has many more layers than you could realize with just one listen. “I Took Your Picture Off the Wall” resembles that same time period, and that isn’t just because of the novel-like title of the track. Light as a feather rock really keeps our hips swaying, and once again we can’t do anything but imagine ourselves singing along to this at an outdoor venue with Wilmoth himself leading us on vocals. Fourth track “Pinwheel” rounds it all out very nicely, a slight amount of additional edge to it with deeper guitar riffs and harder hitting percussion. Don’t get us wrong, the song still belongs at the ending of your next blockbuster romantic comedy, but it’s beautiful and endearing in its sound, enough to make us look forward to celebrating life and love this year.
Keep Luke Wilmoth on your radar by following him here.
Even if it wasn’t innately evident, 2017 gave us a lot to be grateful for. Namely, some really amazing music. It was in November that Charleston, West Virginia-based soul rock duo Farnsworth – comprised of C.W. Vance (guitar/vocals) and Jason Reese (drums/vocals) – released their latest, a robust eight track piece titled Elk City. And don’t think that the title suggests any type of back country lifestyle, though the rock roots these guys play with really give it an unmistakable edge.
The entire album will throw you through a loop of nostalgia, bringing in whirring guitars and a psychedelic feel in the majority of the tracks to really achieve that kaleidoscope effect that tantalizes the eardrums. Tracks like “American Dream” and “Free Me” make you feel like you’ve been caught in Vietnam-era America, which many of us already feel a kinship with regarding everything that’s going on in our society these days. The duo’s vested interest in vinyl is detectable, each song created to play perfectly imperfectly on a record player.
Take “Better Days” for example. As the duo croons melancholic lyrics like “Watch me as I fall / No you don’t care at all,” you can’t help but sway your hips to the innately groovy (yes, we said groovy) percussion. And that holds true with the entirety of the album, as the guys address a wide variety of topics, largely melancholic and bittersweet in their musical existence. Without perhaps meaning to, Farnsworth has created a work that can truly exist in most soundscapes, each song musically enhancing the listener as it takes them through decades of influence and insanely beautiful guitar work.
Elk City is your next jam record. We guarantee it.
Keep up with Farnsworth here.
Rounding out 2017 as best they can, NY-based Israeli transplant quintet Seasonal Beast released a particularly entrancing eleven-track album titled Muscle Memory in October. From first track “I Can Make You Disappear”, you feel like your whole being is melting into another world, steered bravely by a largely electronic – and intrinsically beautiful – soundscape. Second track “Making Shapes” is instrumental, and almost emotes an extra-terrestrial feeling, as though you’re being abducted by some of the most fabulous aliens in existence. “Dry Bones” takes a turn for the delicate, but it isn’t misplaced in any way.
“This Is Where” is comprised of vocals that really feel like a chant, mellowing out the album to this monotonous but curiously otherworldly tempo. While “Take Me Back” pumps a little more into the tempo and hosts more robust vocals, “Another Day” brings with it more reverb, and a slightly unamused, punk, almost theatrical feel. It’s a darker side to the band, but it’s just as ethereal as its predecessors. “Heading to a Wall” seems to mellow it all out again, driven by the acoustic guitar. “Ungovernable” might have the most alluring title, and the vibe of the track is very “take charge,” full of strength in every note. This one is a standout favorite, hands down.
“Don’t Disappear” is another instrumental beauty, while “Playing in the Dark” has more of a nostalgic feel to it, if not only because the instrumentals between choruses remind us of the carnivals of our youth. (That’s a thing, right? Other people also attended carnivals and fairs?) Of course, it ambles right into the last track, aptly titled “No One Can Open the Door (Only I from the Inside)”, which is a soft and beautiful – almost lounge-like – in its disposition. It brings the tempo down, and rounds the release out perfectly, repetitive in lyrics but allowing the instrumentals to build and take center stage.
Muscle Memory is available now. Keep up with Seasonal Beast here.