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FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: KEEP CALM & GET ON WITH IT

You get days like to today when nothing seems to go to plan - days when you just have to keep calm and get on with it. Like when a neighbour’s cat usurps the incumbent. The rigour of a regular Friday column does not sit well with a dies interruptus and what’s more if I have to hear that Donald Trump post-trial verdict rant again I may have to seek counselling along with the ‘millions of criminals and the mentally ill’ freely entering the USA. They should try getting an ESTA.

 

So, it is straight into this week’s music selection which is a little less detailed than hoped but nonetheless I hope fully engaging.

After regularly featuring her single releases over the past couple of years and picking her as one of my choices for this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, London-based singer-songwriter Maya Lane is no stranger to this column. Indeed, the singles seem to have come thick and fast over recent months so it is no surprise to announce the delivery of her splendid new 7-track EP Diary of an Overthinker, which consolidates and adds to those releases. The title rather gives away the thought processes that give rise to Maya’s songs yet however chastised she feels about her inclination to over-analyse things, second guess herself or read too much into routine interactions, the results are always grounded and relatable.



Maya’s songs balance negative feelings and anxieties with a touch of empowerment that comes from the power of friendship and the strength of inner healing. She combines this with a gift for melody, captivating vocals and a young bohemian vibe that I have said many times hints back to the great days of Laurel Canyon. “Never Be Like Her” is the EP’s lead track, taking her sound into bedroom pop terrain as she exorcises the temptation to idolise and envy someone, whether it is online or in your personal life. Touching on her relationship with herself, Maya need not fret about being jealous of others. She is already a cut above in the star quality stakes.

This startling image heralds the entrance of Body Water, self-described as a Horror Rock duo heavily influenced by the 80s, hoping to transport people back to the Sunset Strip with songs you can dance to while contemplating the inner thoughts of a serial killer. Or have they just been at the Red Velvet cake? The Manchester-based pairing of Cerys Eless, once of Deganwy, North Wales, and Hull native Eli Thompson were thrown together at music college to collaborate on a project and have stuck together ever since. I last saw Body Water on the homely Croissant Neuf Bandstand stage at Glastonbury 2022, enjoying the duo’s bright harmonies and acoustic guitar aided by melodic bass lines to counter its scary songwriting, and wondered what had become of the pairing.



The answer came in a Twitter message recently. After ‘pulling a Britney and freeing themselves from a toxic major label deal just a few months ago’ Body Water is back with an unapologetic single, "I Want A Divorce (Before I Murder You)" after being unable to release music for the past two years. You can’t help thinking that the lyrical murderous intent is as much aimed at the errant record company as the fictional other half in the song. Combining humour with the darkest imagery and delivering it with cutting riffs, bouncing bass lines, a feisty lead vocal and not least some delicious harmonies, Body Water let us into its ‘creepy, chaotic little world.’ You might need danger money.

Last week, in part inspired by the new song from Stella and the Dreaming, I took time to dust off Moon, the debut and only album from Snowbird - the union of former Cocteau Twins instrumentalist Simon Raymonde, latterly the label boss of Bella Union records, and Wisconsin-born singer-songwriter Stephanie Dosen. The record is now ten years old and having treated you last week to “Porcelain”, I can’t put it back on the shelf without indulging you with a second track, the lushly realised “All Wishes Are Ghosts”. The accompanying video directed by Jamie Stone blends footage from Victor Sjöström's 1918 film Berg-Ejvind och hans Hustru (The Outlaw and His Wife), adapted from the Icelandic play by Jóhann Sigurjónsson, with a contemporary tale that sits perfectly and movingly alongside it.



Is that the time? I said today had not gone to plan. To avoid Friday slipping into Saturday, I will hastily conclude with three songs that particularly caught my ear recently from those entered to Fresh On The Net which I continue to commend to you as an eclectic source of fine new music. The latest Listening Post is now up.


The opening chords of "Sheet Ghost" by Los Angeles-based outfit, the nicely named Occasionally Humans, made me want to sing out the first line of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” [That’s going back a bit – Ed]. Ah, it’s that ascending chord change – always been a sucker for it. Lyrically the song delves into some quite heavy themes, reflecting on disconnection and the invisible struggles life sends our way. Conversely the music is simply therapeutic; blissful dream pop enchantingly sung by Liza Duffy against tasteful guitar, bass and percussion.



Next, Samxday, who I could find nothing about online except a reasonably populated Soundcloud page going back seven years, a silhouette photo and an enigmatic statement ‘Remixes, Music Production, Songwriting’ which does seems pretty apt for what he does. No links beyond that. I will keep looking but not tonight. Anyhow I loved the immediacy and attack of “Fade Out” by Samxday. Short but very sweet.



Finally, Sarah McCreedy – an indie folk singer-songwriter from Holywood, County Down who bowled me over with the magical “Never Forget About You”. I love the way this song builds from its extended, atmospheric opening to waves of plaintive musings, highlighted by pedal steel guitar and superbly marshalled by Sarah’s yearning vocal. I am sure we will feature more from Sarah. The song is from her new album, Why am I still here? I hope you are though, reader.



Comments


FIFTY3 champions

outstanding new music

through Fifty3 Fridays and

occasional features 

 

Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.

 

In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.

 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing great, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy

UPCOMING GIGS 

 

Selected dates in the London area:

Fri 7 Jun: Alexandra Leaving/Frankie Morrow, The Waiting Room, London N16

Sat 8 Jun: Bat For Lashes, St John's Church, Kingston

Sun 9 Jun: Blanid, The Black Heart, London NW1

Mon 17 Jun: The Mysterines, St John's Church, Kingston

Thu 20 Jun: Charm of Finches, The Lexington, London N1

banquetrecords.com: See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston

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