Single & Lovin' It Vol. 35
By Mixtape Mandi
TEMPLES - "STRANGE OR BE FORGOTTEN"
Temples are set to release their sophomore album, Volcano, on March 3rd via Fat Possum. After presenting debut single, “Certainty,” the English quartet now shares album closer, “Strange Or Be Forgotten.” Written by bassist Tom Walmsley, it’s one of the songs that best showcases the band’s innate knack for creating undulating dream pop and pristine melodies as it questions one’s identity in a world where everyone is trying to stand out in some way. In addition to Walmsley, Temples consists of vocalist-guitarist James Bagshaw, drummer Sam Toms, and keyboardist Adam Smith. Temples will return to North America next month as they headline the 2017 Desert Daze Caravan. Following a sold out national tour last fall, this upcoming run is Temples’ first North American tour in support of Volcano.
PHOEBE BRIDGERS - "SMOKE SIGNALS"
Los Angeles’ Phoebe Bridgers premiered her new single, "Smoke Signals,” produced by Tony Berg (Andrew Bird, Aimee Mann, Blake Mills) and Ethan Gruska, and mixed by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Jenny Lewis). The spellbinding ache you hear when Bridgers sings belies the fact that she's still just 22. In "Smoke Signals," her haunting vocals anchor lyrical references to Thoreau, The Smiths, Bowie, Motörhead, and Holiday Inn in a five-and-a-half minute kiss-off to a generally cataclysmic 2016. A wounded love song Bridgers wrote in a cabin outside Ketchum, Idaho, last spring, the track is filled with billowing strings, reverb-drenched guitar, and the unshakable sensation of hearing an artist whose songs will end up in a listener's head for days. "Smoke Signals" will also appear on her forthcoming debut album. Bridgers wrote her first song at age 11, spent her adolescence at open mic nights, and busked through her teenage years at farmers markets in her native Los Angeles. By age 20, she'd caught the ear of Ryan Adams, who listened to her perform her song "Killer" in his L.A. studio, and then invited her to come back and record it there the next day. The session blossomed into a three-song Killer EP, released on his Pax-Am label last spring. Throughout the past two years, Bridgers has toured with Julien Baker, City and Colour, and Violent Femmes, among others. She's played with Mitski, Television, Blake Babies and Conor Oberst, with whom she'll complete her first European tour in January and February.
MOLLY BURCH - "TRY"
Go behind the scenes in Molly Burch's new video "Try." Filmed in Texas' vibrant Dripping Springs, director Alex Mechanik showcases Burch in her element while recording her debut full length album Please Be Mine, out February 17th on Captured Tracks. Growing up in Los Angeles with a writer-producer father and a casting director mother, Burch's childhood was filled with old Hollywood musicals and the sounds of Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. After finding her voice in adolescence, Burch packed up to study jazz vocal performance in Asheville. Burch's timeless voice is the first thing you'll notice on Please Be Mine. It's smoky with an incredible range, effortlessly evocative of her early influences. After relocating to Austin after college, Burch began to write her own music in earnest, with the lovelorn Everly Brothers and Sam Cooke as her songwriting guides. Burch and boyfriend Dailey Toliver connected with Dan Duszynski of Cross Record, and they recorded all the songs on Please Be Mine at his idyllic studio in Dripping Springs, Texas.
IMAGINARY TRICKS - "BIRD"
Imaginary Tricks - singer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Visser, formerly of Frank Jordan - will release his debut album Skommel on March 24th via Friendship Fever, a new Sacramento-based label distributed by House Arrest/Fat Possum. Building upon a lifelong affair with guitar noise and a love for buttery R&B classics, the songs on Skommel are reflections of psych-tinged rock and pop obsessions, abused by years of a relentless search for something stranger, stronger, and free. Imaginary Tricks takes an experimental approach to delivering a familiar thump; it's a heartbeat, with multiple layers of complex sounds, mired in soul and hidden lyrical depth. The album plays almost like an intimate conversation between new friends, which slowly unfolds and blossoms over shared thoughts about anxieties, letting go of fear, and gaining new perspectives. Much of Skommel was drafted in Visser's Queens apartment and Bushwick rehearsal space, and recorded at Japam Studio in Brooklyn, with Visser employing whistles and wah-wahs, Doppler-effect vocals, and alien Wurlitzer keyboarding to create the album's eclectic, melodic, and hypnotic effect. Harlan Muir joins Visser for Imaginary Tricks' captivating live shows, contributing alchemy of sounds, combining keys and tape delay. Listen to the first single “Bird” here.
KHODARA - "BILLIE"
Khodara has premiered "Billie," the first single off her newest EP of the same title, out March 17th. Billie will come out just months after her debut EP Where's Your Love?, which was released in December. Khodara’s second EP is a slower collection of pop songs, reflecting on the artist’s journey to date. Produced and co-written once again by Billy Pavone, the 4-song EP has been compared to The XX and Phantogram while vocally recalling an early Madonna or a more refined Lana Del Rey. The purity of Khodara’s heart shines through in the lyrics. Billie EP’s overall message of overcoming fear is what young women around the world need to hear right now.
CRAIG FINN - "PRELUDES"
Craig Finn has announced the release of his eagerly anticipated new solo album. We All Want the Same Things arrives via Partisan Records on Friday, March 24th. Finn’s third solo release, WE ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS will be available for pre-order at all leading DSPs beginning today, January 10th. About new single “Preludes,” Finn describes the song as “‘what I remember 1994 being like: coming back to the Twin Cities after being away for college. It's a time in my life that I felt most adrift, but there was also a feeling of wonder in being out of step and alone. This is the song on the album that is closest to being autobiographical, but I think it fits with these other character studies in that I was trying to figure out my place in a world that didn't seem to have a lot of room for me.” The album sees Finn exploring themes of love and partnership in the modern world as ever expressed via finely etched character studies, black humor, and craftily arranged rock ‘n’ roll. Largely recorded last spring at The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, New York with frequent collaborator Josh Kaufman producing, the album features musical contributions from keyboardist Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Langhorne Slim), former Rainer Maria vocalist Caithlin De Marrais, singer-songwriter Annie Nero, horn master Stuart Bogie (Arcade Fire, Antibalas), and Finn’s longtime partner in The Hold Steady, guitarist Tad Kubler.
TORGEIR WALDEMAR - "BOTTOM OF THE WELL"
Torgeir Waldemar took the Norwegian people and music press by surprise with his eponymous debut album in 2014. Who had thought that the black-clad, long-haired and bearded man would deliver an album that captivated and moved us as much as it did? An acoustic masterpiece that sounded like it came straight from the rehearsal room of a young troubadour from Laurel Canyon in the seventies. While his previous album cultivated a pure, acoustic sound, we get more rock music this time, and for Waldemar nothing is more natural. With his background as a guitar hero in various rock bands, it was only a question of time before distorted tones would assert themselves in his solo career. No Offending Borders is a gloriously composite work with both dead honest acoustic laments and grandiose rock songs. But the record is so much more than that, and for Waldemar this is a document that shows the seriousness we meet in our everyday lives: both on the personal level, with relationships that falls apart and the loss of loved ones, but also on a national and global level, with refugee crises, suicide statistics and the weakest members of our society. You may have guessed it already, but this is a solemn record. For now, you can hear new single “Bottom of the Well.”
HAPPYNESS - "FALLING DOWN"
When Happyness first burst into the public conscience with 2013’s debut single It’s On You, their spirited take on US college rock was as big a surprise as it was an instant hit. The resulting full length, Weird Little Birthday, went on to feature in many of 2014’s End of Year album lists. Worldwide tours, an NME Award, a re-issue on the much-loved labels Moshi Moshi Recordings (Bar/None in US), and millions of Spotify plays later, it is with some anticipation now that the band finally reveal the full details of the follow-up. Titled Write In, released on April 7th through Moshi Moshi Recordings and Bar/None and featuring artwork from the band’s own Jon EE Allan, the record was made in the band’s own studio above a now-abandoned bookshop, then finished and mixed with Adam Lasus at his Los Angeles home studio. Write In sets its stall out as an outward looking, inventive, and thoughtful progression from their debut. Drawing on an array of influences including Roxy Music, The Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Sonic Youth, Big Star and Pierre Cavalli, the direction is best summed up by Allan; “I’d like to think this record looks outside the little American alt-rock sphere we were looking in on.” Ahead of the album release, new single “Falling Down” now has an official video, a disorientating and retro 7-minute spectacle, as guitarist Benji Compston explains; “[Our friend Nyla] manages a cinema and she gets free use of it every Monday night when the public have left. We showed up at midnight with an old TV and some musical equipment and a vague plan to shoot a Spiegel I’m Spiegel effect with the cinema screens. Special credit should probably also go to the coffee machine.”
SHY GIRLS - "SAY YOU WILL"
As the release of his debut album Salt draws closer, Shy Girls shares his final taster of what you can expect from the full-length: "Say You Will," which was one of the first songs written and recorded for the album. Shy Girls first came to attention in 2013 with his slow burning, sax-tinged "Under Attack," followed by the release of his buzzed-about Timeshare EP and subsequent 4WZ mixtape. Vidmar has collaborated with artists such as Cyril Hahn, Tei Shi, Rome Fortune, Antwon, Junglepussy, and ODESZA, and has toured with HAIM, Little Dragon, and Maxwell. Despite its sonic magnitude, Salt never surrenders its intimacy. Salt was self-produced by Vidmar, who also played and recorded the majority of the instrumentation. The beautiful result is a testament to craftsmanship executed almost single-handedly by one author. Rife with tender imperfections, at its core Vidmar's heartrending vocals are still as silken as ever, as the singer reaches new heights. Lyrically, Vidmar explores the ambiguous territory in which many so-called "millennials" find themselves, hovering somewhere amidst a pre-internet nostalgia and post-recession tech absorption. He takes and honest and unflinching look at the tension between growth and decay, existential-level FOMO, and the nagging inertia of time.
PORCELAIN RAFT - "BIG SUR"
Over the course of two albums in four years, and an armful of EPs and singles, Mauro Remiddi has crafted a celestial body of work that drifts in and out of dream states. Under the name Porcelain Raft, he has been a slippery artist to pin down, perhaps by design. You might think he's an electronic pop musician adept at sound collages, which he is, but he's also a singer and songwriter who has trained a gimlet eye on his place in the world. Set for release on February 3rd on his new label Volcanic Field, Microclimate reveals Remiddi at the peak of his songwriting prowess. As he puts it, his first two albums were exploratory, considering things he had never seen but had envisioned in his mind. On 2012's Strange Weekend, his studio debut on Secretly Canadian, Remiddi was clearly on a quest. "I've never seen the desert before, to be close to nothing," he sang on "Shapeless & Gone." But now he has, by way of Joshua Tree, and these 11 new songs are shot through with probing observations about the vast scope of the world and how we are but a minuscule part of it.
KAREN ELSON - "DISTANT SHORE"
English-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Karen Elson will release her sophomore album Double Roses on April 7th via H.O.T Records Ltd. Elson, who released her debut The Ghost Who Walks in 2010, was recently signed by the label for the US and 1965 Records for the rest of the world. First track to be made available is "Distant Shore" featuring Benmont Tench on keys and Laura Marling on backing vocals. Double Roses was recorded in Los Angeles, at the world-renowned United Studios (neé Ocean Way) in Hollywood, with producer Jonathan Wilson (Jackson Browne, Father John Misty, Conor Oberst). Elson, who had been writing and demoing songs throughout her recording hiatus of the past few years, spent three weeks in Los Angeles working with Wilson to put the album together. A long time fan of the sun soaked sounds of the 'Laurel Canyon' era, it was the perfect place to commit her songs to tape. The album features collaborations with an array of musical talent, including The Black Keys' Pat Carney, Father John Misty, Laura Marling, Benmont Tench, Pat Sansone (Wilco), Nate Wolcott (Bright Eyes), Paul Cartwright and Dhani Harrison. The title Double Roses is taken from a Sam Shepard poem that appears in his journal collection Motel Chronicles. Emotionally struck by the poem, and its reference to England, Elson incorporated the verse as spoken word into the title track and sought Shephard's permission to do so - sending a letter to him via her friend and bandmate Jackson Smith's mother, the poet-musician Patti Smith.
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH - "FIREPROOF"
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s 2005 self-released debut album set a precedent for how bands might begin to approach making music independently. The record — which Alec Ounsworth wrote entirely by himself— received widespread critical acclaim and was named one of “The 50 Most Important Recordings Of The Decade” by NPR. In the ensuing years, Ounsworth has continued pushing himself creatively, releasing three additional Clap Your Hands Say Yeah full-lengths (for which he again wrote all of the music and lyrics) and issuing two solo projects. The group has also grown a robust international fanbase: In 2015 alone, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah toured in Latin and South America, Japan and Europe. All of these experiences have helped Ounsworth refine his vision for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as the group heads into its twelfth year and the release of its fifth album, The Tourist. Like previous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah records, The Tourist nods to Ounsworth’s musical heroes—a group that includes artists such as John Cale, Robert Wyatt, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. However, this album also shows a natural progression from previous records. Ounsworth spent about a week recording The Tourist at Dr. Dog’s Philadelphia-based studio with a drummer and bassist. After that, he and engineer Nick Krill spent a few months “tidying things up” and recording additional embellishments: backup vocals, keyboards, guitars and more percussion. That gives The Tourist more of a band feel than the last album, and contributes to why the record possesses a musical lightness.