was·sail

/ˈwäsəl,ˈwäˌsāl/

ARCHAIC
verb
gerund or present participle: wassailing
  1. 1.
    drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.
  2. 2.
    go from house to house at Christmas singing carols.
    “here we go a-wassailing”

 

  1. drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.
  2. to go from house to house at Christmas singing carols.

 

Featuring a former member We Were Evergreen, an act that toured across the UK and opened for the likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Slow Club, Metronomy, Nick Mulvey, Villagers and others, the up-and-coming London-based indie electro pop project Wassailer derives its name from the word “wassailing” — and was discovered by the artist while looking for an anagram on a Scrabble website. With the help of a Tyneside-born girlfriend, Wassailer’s mastermind fell in love with a variety of different things that wound up influencing him — including Irish folk songs, grime, Auden’s poetry, Indian cuisine, UK garage and the peacefulness of the lake district.

Wassailer’s somewhat mysterious mastermind has since relocated to Lewisham, where he’s joined a contemporary crop of singer/songwriters, who are influenced by folk, jazz and soul as much as they are by electronic and urban productions. His latest single, “Ghosts” is a soulful trip hop production featuring looping, twinkling piano, brooding and mournful flugelhorn and trumpet from Johnny Woodham, thumping beats, soulful vocals from Wassailer and Demi Ma and a sinuous hook. And while seemingly drawing from Portishead and The Brand New Heavies, the track as Wassailer said via email was written while reading an article about the British Royals, who were refurbished their private properties with taxpayers’ funds — ” . . .and humbly aims at blending folk with modern urban beats and neo jazz in a pop song.”

 

 

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Sis is a Berkeley, CA-based indie pop project that features singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Native Cat Recordings founder Jenny Gillespie Mason and Meernaa‘s husband and wife duo Carly Bond and Rob Shelton. The trio’s sophomore album Gas Station Roses will be officially dropping and its latest single “Night From Scratch” is an atmospheric and dreamy track centered around shimmering synths, thumping kick drum, a fluttering flute melody and ethereal vocals. And while evoking rippling and bubbling waters, the track — to my ears, at least —  manages to be deceptively anachronistic: the song manages to nod at breezy 70s AM rock and Sade.

 

 

 

New Video: Jonny Couch Releases Noir-ish and Mischievous Visual for “Mystery Man”

Initially starting his career as a drummer in a number of local punk rock bands, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jonny Couch reinvented himself and his career with the release of 2016’s debut EP Animal Instinct, a soulful take on 80s synth pop that drew comparisons to Bryan Ferry — and received praise from Louder Than War and High Times. 

Building upon a growing profile, Couch’s highly-anticipated Peter Mavrogeorgis-produced full-length debut Mystery Man will reportedly further develop the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s reputation for crafting infectious material that’s seemingly descended from 70s and 80s power pop and New Wave. “My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks,” Couch says in press notes, “but this is more of a personal record than a band effort, highly influenced by power pop solo artists like Nick Lowe.” But there’s also elements of Duran Duran and The Psychedelic Furs as well.

Coincidentally, Couch’s forthcoming full-length debut is also deeply influenced by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s love of classic film noir — in particular, films like Body Heat and Body Double. In fact, the album is centered by deep film-noir metaphors, from the album’s title, its artwork and even song titles like ” Vertigo” “Framed” and others. 

Mystery Man’s latest single, album title track “Mystery Man” is a sleek, Roxy Music meets No Jacket Required-era Phil Collins -like track centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering and angular guitars, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and Couch’s plaintive vocals. And while revealing an ambitious, arena rock-like populist bit of songwriting, the track is underpinned by an earnest sense of late night loneliness and longing. 

Directed by Art Boonparn, the recently released video stars Couch, Audrey Cover and Sara Nelson and begins in a dark Brooklyn bar during karaoke night. We first catch a band singing Journey’s smash hit “Don’t Stop Believing” — poorly.  Kovar and Nelson follow the man singing Couch’s “Mystery Man.” Couch is there the entire time, in the background, but as he leaves the bar, he turns into his alter-ego, a fedora wearing noir-like detective, collecting clues. We then see Couch, along with Kovar and Nelson perfuming the song in a house party full of hipsters and characters. It’s trippy but it reveals Couch’s good-natured, mischievous sense of humor. 

Initially began as the solo recording project of Seattle-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natasha El-Sergany that focused on spectral balladry and late-night exploration, the Seattle-based shoegazer project Somesurprises has gradually expanded into a full-fledged band featuring Josh Medina (guitar, synth), Laura Seniow (bass) and Nico Sophiea (drums) since the release of the project’s 2016 debut effort Voice Memos

2017 found El-Sergany collaborating with Josh Medina for the ambient album Serious Dreams, an effort that was released to critical applause from the likes of The Quietus, Bandcamp, The StrangerSeattle Weekly and Tiny Mixtapes. The following year, the project expanded to a full band with the addition of MX-80 Sound’s Nico Sophiea aend Red Ribbon‘s Emma Danner (bass) for that year’s Alt, an effort that Aquarium Drunkard compared to “an imaginary collaboration between Grouper and Spiritualized.” Interestingly, the band started off this year with a collaborative split tape with fellow Seattle-based act Supercandy, some candy that featured contributions from Brenan Chambers, Lori Goldston, Monika Khott and Ambrosia Bardos, who added layers of guitar effects, cello, vocals and trumpet.

The band has built up a strong profile in their hometown, opening for the likes of Circuit Des Yeux, Carla dal Forno, A Place to Bury Strangers and The Cave Singers — and they’ve toured the West Coast. Building upon a growing profile, the band will be releasing their self-titled full-length debut through Drawing Room Records. Slated for a September 20, 2019 release, the Seattle-based sheogazers self-title full-length finds the band exploring a wide range of styles from intensifying meditative drones to songs, where the same moment never quite happens twice. And unlike their previously released material, the vocals and lyrics are much more focused — with the material thematically longing for and seeking knowledge of the self, to guide the way out of one’s own mind.
Clocking in a little over five minutes, “High Rise,” the latest single off the Seattle-based shoegazers forthcoming full-length, self-titled  album is an expansive and shapeshifting song that begins with a pensive and slow-burning, shimmering intro that slowly builds up into an explosive power chord and motorik groove driven middle section. The song then closes out with a pensive and slow-burning, shimmering coda to close off a mind-bending and expansive song that sounds like the perfect accompaniment to experimenting with hallucinogens.

 

 

New Video: Follow Up-and-Coming Aussie Act Sunscreen on a Nostalgic and Hazy Journey on Sydney Commuter Trains

Sunscreen is a Sydney, Australia-based up-and-coming dream pop/garage rock act, featuring Sarah Sykes, Alexander McDonald, Hugo Levingston and Oliver Ellis. With the release of their attention-grabbing debut EP 2017’s Just A Drop, the Sydney, Australia-based quartet rapidly developed a national profile, opening for the likes of DMAs, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Jen Cloher and Ali Barter and playing sets at Farmer & The Owl and Grampians Music Festival. 

Building upon a growing profile, Sunscreen’s forthcoming Simon “Berkfinger” Berkelman-produced sophomore EP High Over Love finds the band crafting material that reportedly reflects the psyche of a romantically confused young person trying to survive in the big city. Written over the course of the past couple of years, the EP explores and touches upon romantic idealization, heartache and self-possession with a frank and earnest vulnerability. 

The EP’s first single, EP title track “High Over Love” will further cement the band’s growing reputation for crafting shimmering, hook-driven and earnest guitar pop — and while nodding at The Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde, the track focuses on a narrator that’s reeling from a confusing and uncertain love.  

Directed and shot by Madeleine Purdy, the recently released video for “High Over Love” is a nostalgic and hazy ode to the the band’s hometown that features the band’s Sarah Sykes commuting to and fro on Sydney commuter trains. We see Sykes riding trains daydreaming and trying to sleep — essentially attempting to escape for just a little bit. In fact, she manages to escape so much that she winds up dancing and performing with her bandmates without anyone noticing. (Sounds a bit like New York doesn’t it?) The video according to the band’s Sykes portrays “the concepts of invasion of privacy, and feelings of desire to escape in a setting that is familiar: the everyday commute on Sydney trains.” 

“With this video, we didn’t want to venture into a fantasy music video world — the band wanted to make something unapologetically Sydney,” Madeline Purdy adds in press notes. “The video is awash with nostalgia immediately, I think because of the rarity of the shooting style and performance. We spent all day on trains: just the band, myself, the shooter Ash Pepper and a camcorder, with no lights or tripod. As the hours went by, the comfort of such familiar liminal spaces — stations, carriages — really emerged. On a public train there are no airs, no pretence – we were just a bunch of people with a camera and a song shuttling through the city like everyone else.”

Over the past 18 months, the Mollymook, Australia-born, Sydney, Australia-based sibling duo Clews — Grace and Lily Richardson — have quickly emerged into their homeland’s national scene with the release of their first two singles “Museum” and “Crushed,” which displayed the sibling duo’s soaring vocal and guitar harmonies. As a result of the attention they’ve received for their first two singles, the Richardsons have opened for Portugal. The Man, Laurel, Albert Hammond, Jr. and Ocean Alley — and recently, they’ve headlined their own shows.

Building upon their growing national profile, the duo’s Nick DiDia-produced latest single “Hollywood” continues their collaboration with the Grammy Award-winning producer, who has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam. Sonically, the track is centered around shimmering and jangling guitars, the Richardson’s gorgeous harmonies and a soaring hook. And while the song subtly recalls the slick yet heartfelt pop of Lily & Madeleine, the song finds the sibling duo thematically focuses on the growing pains felt during the transition between youth and adulthood — and is rooted in autobiographical detail and the hard-won personal experience.

“‘Hollywood’ describes feeling so small that you end up making yourself invisible,” Clews’ Grace Richardson says in press notes. “It is full of self-fulfilling prophecies, and the common theme of feeling strongest when you’re alone. It’s a lot about what forces act on us to change our personalities.”

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Surf Curse Releases a Cinematic “Midnight Cowboy” Inspired Visual for Their Latest Single

Comprised of Reno, NV-born, Los Angeles-based duo Nick Rattigan (vocals, drums) and Jacob Rubeck (guitar) the Los Angeles-based indie rock act Surf Curse formed back in 2013 when its core duo started the band in Reno. Since relocating to Los Angeles the band emerged from their adopted hometown’s local DIY, all-ages, punk scene, developing a reputation as one of the region’s best contemporary live acts, amassing a fervent, die-hard following — at first locally and now internationally.

The duo’s forthcoming Jarvis Tavaneire-produced third full-length album Heaven Surrounds You is slated for a September 13, 2019 release through Danger Collective Records and the album is a coming of age epic, inspired by the cult films the duo cherished while growing up in Reno. Sonically, the album reportedly is a bold and decided step forward for the band.  Last month, I wrote about the album’s first single, the swooning and lush “Disco” — and while nodding at The Smiths and others, the song is an urgent love song, evoking the throes and passions of first love with an uncanny accuracy.  

The album’s latest single “Midnight Cowboy” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor: shimmering, hook-driven Smiths-like guitar pop, centered around the narrator’s unfulfilled longing for a different life than the one he currently has — a life of hustling and grifting out of desperate necessity. Written and directed by the band’s Jacob Rubeck, the recently released video for “Midnight Cowboy” was shot by the band’s Nick Rattigan, Julien Kelly and Melissa Ramirez and stars Rubeck and Jamie Simone. Influenced by the 1969 movie of the same name, Rubeck moves to the big city and becomes a prostitute. We follow Rubeck’s character as he meets his various johns — and rationalizes what he does; but we also see him full of regret and self-loathing throughout. 

Over the past 15 years, Finnish indie soul label Timmion Records have developed a reputation for being one of the preeminent soul labels in the international scene, as they’ve released some of the most exciting batches of material around. Interestingly, the Finnish indie label has developed and enjoyed a long-held kingship with world famous soul label, Daptone Records centered on mutual respect and a shared love of all thing soul music. While Daptone has distributed a number of Timmion Records titles internationally, the Brooklyn-based label will be partnering with the Finnish label on a much larger scale.

With the forthcoming release of Bad Education, Vol 1. on July 19, 2019, Daptone Records hope to give wider exposure to the Timmion Records catalog with a carefully curated list of 10 of world famous, Brooklyn-based label’s favorite Timmion tracks over the past few years — both released and previously unreleased. Interestingly, the compilations’ first single is Wanda Felicia’s slow-burning, classic soul ballad “Until You’re Mine.” Centered around an simple, two-step inducing arrangement featuring mournful horns, soaring organ keys and shuffling drumming, the track is spacious enough for Wanda Felica’s effortlessly soulful yet emotionally raw vocals (which express heartache and longing simultaneously). “Timmion Records has secured their place in the history of Soul music as one of the great indie labels creating raw emotional, soulful music, and Wanda Felicia’s ‘Until You’re Mine’ is proof of that,” Daptone Records co-founder Neal Sugarman says in press notes. “Her singing is raw and natural without relying on the added inflection and vocal acrobatics that most modern singers have adapted to cover up for the lack of a solid melody that good, simple song writing should have. Wanda and the Timmion production team have clearly nailed it, once again!”

New Audio: Up-and-Coming British Indie Rock Act Penelope Isles Release a Sludgy and Slow-Burning New Single

Throughout the course of this year, I’ve written a bit about the Brighton, UK-based indie rock quartet Penelope Isles. And as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of Devon, UK-born, Brighton-based sibling songwriting duo Jack Wolter and Lily Wolter, along with Jack Sowton and Becky Redford is centered by the bond between the Wolters, a bond that ironically was strengthened when Jack, who’s six years older moved out of the family home to study art when he was 19. “By the time I moved home, Lil was not so much of an annoying younger sister anymore and had grown up and started playing in bands and writing songs. We soon become very close. I had written some songs, so we started a band called Your Gold Teeth. We toured a bit and then Lily left for Brighton to study songwriting.”

When Lily Wolter studied in Brighton, she met Jack Sowton and Becky Redford, with whom she formed a band. And as the story goes, when Lily Wolter returned home to the Isle of Man for the holidays, the idea of forming a new band rapidly developed. Although Jack and Lily have long written separately, they chucked their disparate songs into a shared song pot, their new band was fueled by a passion for DIY alt rock/indie rock — and are influenced by the likes of Deerhunter, Pixies, Tame Impala, Radioheadand The Thrills among others.

The up-and-coming Brighton-based indie rock act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Until the Tide Creeps In will officially drop on Friday through renowned indie label Bella Union Records, and the album thematically is informed by the Wolters’ shared experience — in particular leaving home, moving away, dealing with the various transitions in life and growing up. “We are six years apart, so we had a different experience of some of this, but we share a similar inspiration when writing writing music. Family, leaving home, disconnection and connection all ring bells!”  The Wolters explain in press notes. 

“Chlorine,” Until the Tide Creeps In’s Sleepy Sun-like album opener was centered around an arrangement that subtly bridges shimmering dream pop, shoegaze and fuzz pop — and while buoyant and seemingly ethereal, the song possessed a bracing quality, much like stepping into a cold shower. Interestingly, the song has an underlying emotional push and pull; the sort of complexity brought about by obligation and duty and the need to go out on your own. “Round,” the album’s second single found the band meshing 70s AM rock with shoegaze while evoking the ebb and flow of the complicated and ambivalent emotions of adulthood.”

Centered around a quiet-loud-quiet song structure, complete with a slow-burning and sludgy groove, shuffling drumming and an anthemic hook, the album’s fourth and latest single “Cut Your Hair” manages to subtly recall 120 Minutes-era alt rock. “One of my favourite songs to play live. The slow sludgy groove always feels like a refreshing moment in the set. I wrote it in our old garage on the Isle of Man whilst in uncertainty of whether or not to move away to pursue a career in music or not,” the band’s Jack Wolters says of the album’s latest single. “I had a small studio set up and it started with the drum groove and the rest happened really quickly. I guess it’s a fixtinal tale and concept of what could have been me if I didn’t have a go at doing ‘the band thing’. A don’t give up on your dreams kinda thing.”