These are the tracks we were digging this week at New Moons HQ. Check out our New Moons Weekly Mixtape playlist on Spotify, updated every week with our favourite new music.
GIRL RAY ‘STUPID THINGS’
Anyone who’s had a crush on someone knows the havoc it can wreak on your life. The stumbling over sentences, the giggles, the horrendous oversharing. The sudden all consuming interest in films or books briefly mentioned in conversation – the inexplicable need to become the object of your crushes’ desire, even if that means becoming a hard core thrash metal fan despite having your phone background set to an image of Zayn Malik (‘it’s ironic’, you tell yourself whilst photoshopping your face onto Gigi Hadid’s body). Not to mention the flushed cheeks and mind numbing meltiness in the pit of your stomach whenever you see them walk into a room. It’s horrible, physically and emotionally – but also kind of fun in a masochistic kind of way. Even more fun if you are a bystander to a friend’s anguish, allowing you to inflict endless amounts of torture with simply a smug look in their intended’s direction. The funny thing about crushes, is that they can strike in the strangest and most inappropriate of situations – suddenly your plumber is Adonis reincarnate, or your straight best friend becomes the subject of your fledgling sapphic desires. In the spirit of awkward crushes, I would like to share the latest track from North London three-piece Girl Ray, who are back with ‘Stupid Things‘, following the release of their first single with Moshi Moshi, ‘Trouble‘. Described by lead guitarist and vocalist Poppy Hankin as a song about ‘crushing really hard on someone and finding myself doing fucking ridiculous things to feel like we’ve got some kind of connection‘, this sweetly honest pop track perfectly embodies the awkwardness of a crush. Stripped back lo fi vocals in endearing harmony sit above a base of kitschy piano with glockenspiel flourishes, whilst catchy hooks demonstrates the band’s prowess as songwriters. Negotiating that fine line between kitsch-cool and twee is no mean feat, and the band do it well, making this the perfect track to send to your crush today. Hopefully they get the hint.
Like many people, identical twins fascinate me – and that’s not supposed to sound as patronising or gawkerish as I’m sure it does to any twins reading this. I guess there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the psychology of being a twin, which could probably be linked to the superstition relating to them in ancient mythology; the idea that one twin represents the shadow or evil spirit of the self, or the contrast between human and the ‘divine’. Twins have also been used to represent the duality of the universe; good/bad, light/dark, Apollo and Artemis as the sun and the moon in Greek mythology, and to the Dogon of Mali, they represent ‘wholeness and perfection’. Whatever significance twins have within a culture’s mythology and spirituality, they are usually assigned a connection with the supernatural, which pervades into today with news stories about twin telepathy and secret languages. Whilst many twins will attest to the strong emotional bond they share, many others do not find they are in any way more in tune with their twin than say, a non-identical sibling, meaning that the idea of twin telepathy, whilst intriguing, does not have much scientific basis. Hard to believe, when you listen to the beautifully crafted music of Rena and Lena Vernon, who together perform as Ohyeahsumi. Their latest release ‘Daisy‘ is a brooding pop track, obscured by layers of foggy reverb and moody intuitive guitar playing. Vocals are sung in breathy, gauzy unison, initially obscuring the dark nature of the lyrics within the calmness of sound world; ‘Scared of being pretty/room is dirty, mind is filthy/my dress curves clearly at the waist’. A masterclass in restrained songwriting, the simple structure allows the lyrics to expand into the void and beyond. Perfect listening for night time walks and quiet self reflection.
EXON BANKS ‘CANDY SHOP’
I read a pretty odious article in The Daily Mail recently (no surprise there), in an effort to add more variety to the sources from which I get my news. The importance of ‘seeing it from the other side’ has been emphasised in recent weeks following the apparent epidemic of ‘fake news’ (Donald Trump’s buzzword du jour), and I try not to limit myself to the liberal and left wing press that feels the most comfortable to me. My partner jokes that I am left wing to the point of being a communist (wrong, I have moved far beyond that to liberal plains far beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, where gay multiracial families frolic in countryside littered with wind turbines and vegan cafes). Anyway, trying to broaden my horizons clearly backfired, when I came across an article by Dr Catherine Hakim, who claims that ‘decent husbands’ are driven to cheating, domestic abuse, and sexual assault when their wives don’t have sex with them often enough. I’m not going to go into huge depth as to why this statement is complete and utter bullshit, but things like, the blaming of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the disregard for male victims of those same things and for those in non-hetero relationships, and the characterisation of men as animals that cannot control their urges are a few red flags. Also, the idea that the wives and partners of men should offer up sex as a kind of reward for their partner doing the washing up (yes she actually said that) completely nullifies the fact that women may actually want to have sex because…they enjoy it? Crazy I know. Happily, this kind of regressive attitude towards sex and gender roles is becoming more and more uncommon, not least due to the efforts of women in music over the last few decades, working to subvert the male gaze by reclaiming their sexuality through their music. Recent musicians that come to mind include Pussy Riot, St. Vincent who makes reference to masturbation in ‘Birth in Reverse‘, and Tove Lo, who recently got a vagina tattooed on her upper arm. Now part of the feminist hall of fame are EXON BANKS, who’s latest release is an inspired reimagining of ‘Candy Shop‘ by 50 Cent ft. Olivia Lufkin. Subverting the tracks original misogynistic message, the Swedish duo give the track a dream pop makeover, saying ‘it’s about asking for what you want without permission and expanding one’s perspective on femininity and gender. It’s about reclaiming the right to your own sexuality and transcending gender expectations. Most of all, it’s about being yourself and enjoying life‘. With hazy synths and woolly vocal samples, it’s almost unrecognisable save for the well known chorus. Perfect for night driving and being a badass in general.
JULIETTA ‘BEACH BREAK’
Yesterday I went for a long walk down the A-roads that surround my town, empty save for a few big houses with long paved driveways, built away from the relative bustle of the high street. It felt, for the first time in ages, warm in the sun, something that has happily carried on into today. The general mood of people seems to be lifted, and everything seems brighter. It feels like winter is finally over after what seems like a decade of cold weather. As soon as I’ve finished writing this, I’m heading out to enjoy the sunshine (or what’s left of it), so I will keep it short and sweet today with a summery new track from Julietta, ‘Beach Break‘. Combining surfer style electric guitar with fresh electronic beats, Julietta recorded the new track in sunny Nicaragua with musician Jack Goodman, saying that she ‘needed some time to write, read, create, get lost with monkeys, and get beat up surfing’ whilst working on new music. Inspired by the daily rhythm the two fell into of music making, surfing, and yoga, ‘Beach Break‘ makes use of samples taken from the South American surroundings, sounds of the jungle recorded from her bedroom window, giving the track a true sense of time and place. It is this interesting use of texture that makes the track so danceable, particularly through the intricate use of vocal sampling providing the track’s rhythmic centre, allowing the lyrics to blur into each other in a dreamy mess. Whack this on and give in to summer nostalgia.
ANNABEL ALLUM ‘RICH BACKGROUNDS’
Guildford-based singer-songwriter and New Moons artist Annabel Allum has announced the release of brand new single ‘Rich Backgrounds’. Expanding from her folk roots into slacker territory, Allum signals a real statement of intent with blistering riffs and frenetic vocals on display throughout ‘Rich Backgrounds’ heralding a distinct change in style. Discussing the release, Annabel states: “’Rich Backgrounds’ was the easiest track to write on the EP. It came out in one, which rarely happens for me. It started out as an alcohol-induced jam, it was kind of sarcastic but then I started to find a lot of enjoyment out of playing it. It’s not necessarily ragging on rich people, but more rich attitudes. I wanted to bring those kids back down to earth a bit – yes you may have all the materialistic un-necessities, but do you have all the un-materialistic necessities? Stripped bare, could you survive? Mental demeanour, a slight bitterness and the idea that paper is not truth.”
I’ve been missing South East London recently. I do still get my weekly fix of London life by coming into the Killing Moon office in Camden, but this small slice of North London isn’t doing enough for me – this morning I found myself craving a ride on the Jubilee line, or maybe even taking the DLR down to Greenwich for a walk through by the river. I miss the weird mash up of leafy suburban-ness and inner city grit – there was a huge concrete monolith of a building near where I used to live, that had slowly been reclaimed by enormous green vines that snaked there way up the building’s periphery. The very embodiment of ‘concrete jungle’. I miss living above a corner shop, where I could nip in to get an ice cream after work, and sit on my balcony in the last of the day’s sunshine. I have been born in suburbia, but I will always be a city girl at heart. That’s why I’m keen to share some music from my former stomping ground, the latest single ‘Recompose‘ from South London band SUNKEN. Combining lo fi Lily Allen style vocals with wavering jazz guitar and subtle synth flourishes, the slacker pop outfit succeed in creating a piece of music that sounds entirely unique. This is a track all about juxtaposition – between sweetly sung lyrics and gritty realism, softly played jazz influenced guitar chords and drum n bass style electronics. Just like South East London, this track is suburbia meets inner city, flora finding a home in a concrete jungle.
Stayed tuned for next week’s picks!