Regina Spektor – ‘Small Bill$’
It’s so good to have Regina Spektor back and this new single opens with some Bond-style atmospherics. While the video is wrapped up in Yellow Submarine-style themes, the subject matter is far darker. There’s talk of ‘all the poets in the alley coughing up blood’ and how ‘everyone wants their money’ before it goes back to a more avant-garde melody, complete with ‘na, na, nas’.
Chuck – ‘Go into Town’
Another fine addition to the Audio Antihero Records roster, Chuck has a vocal style that is reminiscent of Mercury Rev while there are also musical elements of troubadours including Bonny Prince Billy and Jeffrey Lewis. ‘Get into Town’ starts with some dreamy piano as Chuck states ‘You wanna go into town, I don’t wanna go out anymore’ and how ‘living with me, you seem happy’. It’s a melancholic piece that is replicated throughout the rest of the record. Although reflective, there’s a sly optimism that bursts through the song.
Quiet Lions – ‘All That I Had’
Quiet Lions have made a welcome return and ‘All That I Had’ (available for just £1 on https://quietlions.bandcamp.com/) might find the Brighton four-piece at their heaviest sounding yet. Brash but melodic, there are elements of both Hell is for Heroes and Black Foxxes in the sound, while the themes seem to be of restlessness and companionship: ‘Last night I was haunted by a ghost that was speaking your name’ and the repeated mantra of ‘I was all that you had to protect you from the dark’ being just two examples.
Albert af Ekenstam – ‘Made of Gold’
This emotional piece from Stockholm-based singer-songwriter Albert af Ekenstam immediately brings to mind both Joni Mitchell and early Bright Eyes. Starting with minimalist piano, he pleads ‘try to wake up’ before the song shifts up a gear at the halfway point and more electronic influences (a la James Blake) start to creep in. The song evolves from an introspective piece that is heartfelt into something that is far louder and unsettling – making for something really quite special.
War Waves – ‘Stickwrist’
One of the first singles to be released off new album ‘All That We Lack’, ‘Stickwrist’ is an anthemic and atmospheric three and a half minute from Ipswich’s War Waves. There is a playful dynamic between the twin vocals and the shoegazey vibes are offset against the more direct sound that could fit with bands like Gene or even Arab Strap. There’s also something marvellously macabre in the lyrics as the band sing about how: ‘I made a bet with all the people that I met and now I’m waiting for them all to die’.