FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: A WHOLE NEW SLANT
Fashions and styles in music come and go. Some you’d love to see the back of and some you’d love to see back. This week’s Fifty3 Fridays offers a selection of musical styles united by a common thread; that each act is offering its own angle on oft experienced emotions or scenarios. Now where do you stand on glam rock…?
Female-fronted extrovert five-piece, Slant, brings a refreshing idiosyncrasy to its music. The band, all friends from student days in Brighton, has just released “La Danse”, a follow-up to its energetic debut single, “Haircut”. It’s fun, kitschy and animated, with hints of eccentrics like The B52s about it as well as eclectic styles from glam rock and disco to punk. I remember Christine & The Queens’ 2016 Glastonbury debut during which Heloise Letissier aka Chris implored a crowd, hit by a sudden rainstorm, to ‘imagine you're in Paris at a French disco’. “La Danse” does something like that, transporting you to a late-night extra-terrestrial dancefloor to catch the romance of the chase.
Bassist James Virtue and drummer Aurora Bennett set up a pulsing rhythm over which Luke Norman lays some cosmic wah-wah and synths play along while vocalists Katy Smith and Frankie Stanley bring their alternating indie chick drawl and Riot Grrl attack. Slant is working on more material with a further release planned for early 2021. As a relatively new band I guess the ensemble is itching to play this stuff live too but for now we can just danse.
I first came across Glasgow based four-piece, Peplo, via the band’s wonderful summer lo-fi anthem, “Katarina’s Got My Tongue” which was shortlisted for Fresh On The Net’s Listening Post and featured by Tom Robinson on his BBC Radio 6 Music show, BBC Introducing Mixtape. The band’s promise has been underlined by the follow-up release of “Just to Get to You”, a song given the time and space to unwind and envelop you. The song was principally written by guitarist, Iain O'Donnell, while bandmates, Cit Lennox (vocals), Daniel Young (bass) and Mark Hinds (drums) each work their magical chemistry on it.
“Just to Get to You” is about the crazy pursuit demanded of a fledgling relationship and all that comes with it: the mixed messages, misinterpreted intentions and the desperate gestures. According to the band, it was inspired by - and written for - someone who despised country music, hence, they say, the folksy inflections! It’s an ambitious and intriguing song; a great vehicle for Cit’s expansive vocal effects which help create a beautiful choral feel throughout the piece. An EP should gladly follow before the year-end.
It wasn’t so long ago that I was writing about bird gatherings (4 September) to preview Emily Barker’s fine new album, A Dark Murmuration of Words. English ambient-pop artiste, Chloë March, is now getting in on the act with the release of Starlings & Crows, due on 23 October. The album is trailed quite brilliantly by the gloriously sensual single from it, “To a Place”. The song appears inspired by a collision of the natural world and something akin to Alice’s experience through the looking glass. In this case, the conduit is a hole in an old garden wall.
March’s delicate alto glides through the minor modulations of the song effortlessly as she sings of longing for a loved one, of falling into a place of memory and imagination. There is a subtle menace implicit in some of March’s lyrics which counterbalances the beauty of their delivery. Hardly a new girl on the block, the upcoming album will be her fifth in a career spanning 16 years. While we await the full album, an investment in the back catalogue of this gifted, independently-driven artiste is highly recommended.
Switching this week’s focus overseas, Toronto indie-pop singer-songwriter, Jeen, was another standout for me with “Anything You Want”, the second single from her forthcoming self-titled album due on 9 October. With a clutch of solo albums and extensive music writing credits for both TV and film, and for other recording artistes, Jeen appears a highly productive individual. Her energy is apparent on this new track, as she delivers an infectious chorus amid a feisty put down to any would-be control freaks. Speaking about “Anything You Want” Jeen declared the song to be ‘a kind of a mantra for me’ - “a reminder to stay on the path we choose and not what others choose for us.”
A new Kevin Morby album is always a great event and the prolific Kansas City native, who moved back home from a sojourn in LA in 2017, is about to unleash his sixth in 8 years in the shape of Sundowner, on 16 October. It was conceived in his makeshift backyard home studio using an old Tascam 424 four track recorder and mixer. Morby has written a fascinating account of the whole writing and recording process which, if you can get past the typewriter font, white-out against a grey brown background, is well worth reading from start to finish. He writes about his hometown roots, loss of beloved friends and role models as adeptly and eloquently as he makes music. His writes of his relationship with fellow musician, Katie Crutchfield aka Waxahatchee, in terms that paint a picture of a true soul mate.
You’ll find it all here. Please do stop by, but first clock these two choice cuts from the new record: “Wander” and “Don't Underestimate Midwest American Sun”.