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.
NO MIDDLE NAME ‘SATURDAY GIRL SUNDAY BOY’
No Middle Name is the pseudonym of songwriter David Bailey, who’s latest album ‘Fondness‘ is a work of super-nostalgic indie pop, littered with shoegazey textural interest and tongue in cheek songwriting. The third track on the album ‘Saturday Girl Sunday Boy‘ is particularly good, with haphazard vocals layered over cascading Johnny Marr-esque guitar riffs. The track’s insatiable rhythm and melody makes this the perfect track to get yourself going on a rainy day.
BALAM ACAB ‘IN CHURCH’
I’ve had a lot of time on my hands recently, so I’ve been playing the piano a lot more often than usual. Being largely self taught, I can muddle through a few pieces, and my sight reading is passable, but my technique leaves a lot to be desired. So I decided to take it back to basics, learning a few simple classical (with a small ‘c’) pieces, in an effort to retrain myself; my ability to play the piano is mainly based on my aptitude for chord playing – and without being able to rely on this, I start to find things difficult. A Baroque minuet for example, often has single notes in the left hand, which I find far more difficult to play than a piece with arpeggios or chords in their place. There’s no purpose to this retraining. I’m not a professional musician, and my own songwriting rarely requires more than very basic piano playing. It’s just something I’m doing for myself…and for my other half who complains that I always play the same songs over and over again (Walking In The Air, O Holy Night, and Clair De Lune if you must know). In the spirit of reworking things, here is a piece of experimental music, using the sounds of a church to create a stunning piece of music. ‘In Church‘ was released by BALAM ACAB, an ambient instrumental project from Alec Koone, who originally recorded the track under a different project, Etherea. Beginning with the sound of church bells, the sample is chopped, screwed, sliced, and repurposed to create a hypnotising melodic motif. The layering of sample on sample creates textural and rhythmic interest, proving that, in the right hands, the simplest sound can be reworked into something truly beautiful.
PERFUME GENIUS ‘SLIP AWAY’
Usually our Track Of The Day features little known artists who are only just emerging onto the scene, however, today I would like to talk about an artist who is a little more established. If I were crass enough to draw comparisons between artists and the insect world, I would say that Perfume Genius is more butterfly than caterpillar. In most cases, that would be a lazy analogy, but one look at Mike Hadreas (the man behind the Genius), and comparisons between him and a brightly coloured, flirtatious creature don’t seem as thin. I’ve long been a fan of his work; ever since I first saw the music video for ‘Hood’, in which Hadreas dresses up in wigs, makeup, and masks alongside gay porn star Arpad Miklos, who sadly committed suicide in 2013. Such blatant exhibition of his sexuality opened Hadreas up to criticism from internet bigots, but as he said ‘if Rick in Pittsburgh or whatever isn’t going to listen to my music because I’m gay, fuck it’. A lot of Hadreas’ work explores sexuality and tenderness, but none as overtly as ‘Queen‘, a defiant track mocking those who are afraid of LGBTQ people. Now, his latest track ‘Slip Away’, is less about tackling the haters head on, and more about never letting them close enough to put you down. Sung in his trademark boyish lilt, lyrics like ‘if you never see them coming/you never have to hide’ are enveloped in swathes of electronic noise and tribal sounding drums, making for a track which is both anthemic and packed full of textural interest. What is really special about this new single, is the brief instrumental section at the end of the track, featuring feverish piano and a frantic culmination of the drums that underlay the entire track. Although we haven’t heard the rest of the new album ‘No Shape’, this track suggests a move away from the more subtle style that we have heard in the past from Perfume Genius, and a step into bold, brash, beautiful chaos. Check out the pastel hued new video below:
BROOCH ‘BROKEN GLASS’
‘Broken Glass‘ is a pensive little number from Brooch, which is a collaboration featuring Ben Stidworthy from Ought and Mikkel Holm Silkjær from Yung. With string like synths and serpentine guitar riffs in fuzzy distortion, the track is about ‘ambition, love, lust and ultimately endings’ according to Silkjær. Falsetto lyrics float above the muddy soundworld, echoed in the insect-like drones beneath, and given new energy by metallic cymbal crashes and tinny rimshots. Hazy, dark, and meandering, this is the perfect listening for rainy evenings spent indoors.
BABY! ‘HOME SWEET HOME’
I recently read an interview in the Guardian with brothers Jim and William Reid of alternative rock band The Jesus And Mary Chain, who shot to fame in the 80’s with their first album ‘Pyschocandy‘, and were propelled further into the spotlight by public punch ups and audience-baiting antics. In this article Jim proclaims that ‘pop is dreadful…switch on the radio, I guarantee it will be garbage‘, speaking about experiences listening to Heart FM in the car with his kids. Whilst he is correct in asserting that a lot of what Heart FM plays is pretty tame, sugary pop songs, there is a lot wrong with this statement. I head over the website to look at the last few songs played on our local show – chart favourites like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd, etc. and then a few less obvious choices – Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida‘ for example, which came out nearly 10 years ago (I know), Cher’s ‘Believe‘, and ‘Can’t Fight The Moonlight‘ from Leann Rimes. These tracks are categorically old – so how representative of contemporary popular music can Heart FM really be? ‘Pop music’ is such a vague term, which means that it is important for us to define it – and in this context I would suggest that what Reid was talking about is pop as a commodity; i.e. ‘instant singles based music aimed at teenagers, as opposed to album based music aimed at adults’ (which is problematic in itself considering the demise of the album in the age of streaming, but that’s another issue for another day). But who is to say what has artistic value? Does the consumer demographic affect a work’s creative integrity? This also raises questions about the gendering of music – are teen girls really less discerning music consumers than older males? A number of scholars have attempted to delve further into the reasons why rock music is considered a male art form in society, including Melissa Avdeeff, who suggests that Western society and culture is steeped in the concept of‘ the dichotomy’. She examines the mind/body dichotomy as an example, and suggests that women are ‘represented through the feminized body, [which is] a construct evident throughout society’. She observes the ways in which women are represented as ‘young sexual beings’ in the popular music industry, and how the ‘mind/body split is mirrored in the pop/rock dichotomy’, and suggests that, ‘rock music has been legitimised and authenticated with the mind/intellect and the masculine, whereas pop music is a fabrication, of the body, and feminine’. So if you hate pop music, you are sexist. Just kidding – but it’s worth noting the gender politics at play here. There are some really great pop artists out there, whether they embrace sparkly bubblegum brashness as an art form, or seek to combine less commercial forms of creativity with pop commodification. One of these artists is indie pop newcomer Kaley Honeycutt, AKA Baby!, whose latest release ‘Home Sweet Home‘ is a summery lo-fi jaunt, with surf style guitar and charmingly earnest vocals that make you want to sing along. Singing about her dream home, Honeycutt has crafted a joyous and youthful sound world that will make you want to go outside and jump around. Enjoy. And don’t be a pop snob.
Stayed tuned for next week’s picks!