Tag: Bella Union Records

New Video: Sophie Jamieson Shares Hauntingly Gorgeous “Boundary”

Rising British singer/songwriter Sophie Jamieson released two EPs back in 2020 that caught the attention of Bella Union Records, who signed Jamieson — and then released her Steph Marziano-produced full-length debut Choosing today.

Choosing is a subtle rework of the sound that Jamieson quickly established through her first two EPs: While those EPs flirted with playful experimentation, Choosing‘s sound is simultaneously more organic, simpler and intimate, centered around arrangements of live drums, bass, cello and piano, which are roomy enough for Jamieson’s mesmerizing vocals to take the spotlight.

Jamieson has described the songs on her first two EPs as “black holes,” and while Choosing manages to cover similar ground, it never takes its eyes from what lies beyond, never fully releases its grip when its telling her to let go. The album is deeply personal documentation of a journey from the painful rock bottom of self-destruction to a safer place, and imbued with a faint light of hope. Focusing on the bare bones of each song, the album’s material is influenced by songwriters like Elena TonraSharon Van Etten and Scott Hutchinson, and sees Jamieson singing openly about longing and searching, of trying, failing and trying again, and the strength of love in its varying forms. 

“The title of this album is so important,” Sophie explains. “Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it’s about hope, and finding strength. It’s about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, and crawling towards it.” 

Ultimately, the album asks the listener to look deep within themselves and to show them that they can take whatever pain they’re experiencing, and choose, to some extent, how they let it affect them; whether they let it burn them down or whether they choose to look it straight in the face. “The songs are bursting with something, and that energy just needs to be reshaped into love for the self,” Sophie explains. “I can say this from a place of having learned now how to love and care for myself. The love that reverberates through this album is like the green shoots of something I have happily learned to nurture into my present day.” 

“The few times I have listened to this album from start to finish, I have realized that there is a huge amount of love in it,” Jamieson says “I think there is a strong potential for real, healthy, healing love. It’s like a line of relief that runs along through all the songs. It’s never unleashed, it hasn’t yet learned how, but it’s present in an underlying tension and potential.” 

Earlier this year, I wrote about Choosing‘s devastating first single “Sink.” Centered around a sparse arrangement of twinkling and wobbling keys that seem simultaneously childlike and ironically detached, skittering boom bap-like drumming, “Sink” is roomy enough for Jamieson’s weary and heartbroken delivery to take the lead. The song is an unflinchingly honest look at someone on the edge — and not quite know what’s next. “Sink” was written as a love letter to alcohol amid an increasing dependence upon it, informed by a recurring image Sophie had of herself on a desert island, a quiet, calm place that was just too good to be true. “’Sink’ presents a purgatory between being able to choose and begging not to be pulled under,” Sophie explains. “It’s about teetering on the edge, looking over the cliff, asking not to be pulled over before realising you only have to choose not to jump.” 

The album’s latest single “Boundary” is a slow-burning, meditative and sparsely arranged track centered around strummed guitar, and subtle bursts of keys before paired with Jamieson’s gorgeous, achingly yearning vocal. The first time I heard this one, I stopped dead in my tracks, stopped everything and got lost in her

“This song comes from a kinder place than some of the others on this record. It steps back and acknowledges self-inflicted pain and the repeated effort to heal,” Jamieson says. “It’s about trying and failing, knowing there is something you’re trying to grasp but that keeps slipping out of your reach. The journey isn’t smooth or pretty but it’s hopeful, and the light starts to creep in once you choose to be honest with yourself.

Directed, edited and shot by Jamieson, the accompanying video captures both the endless passage of time and of change. “I filmed this video over 4 months, between February and May 2022 in my garden, on my cycle journey to work through South East London and several stops along that journey,” Jamieson says. “It started with an interest in how things change, the idea that nothing ever lasts and the healing effect of time – and ended up being a joyous documentation of spring unfolding. The process of making this video has been incredibly healing, and an act of choice in itself – to stop and look up, to find beauty and become intimate with how time moves nature. I noticed details as though I’d never seen them in my life, things I’d always struggled to see from the pit of self-destruction.”

New Video: JAMBINAI Teams Up with K Pop Legend swja on a Brooding and Forceful Ripper

South Korean outfit JAMBINAI — currently founding (and core) trio Bongi Kim (haegum — a Korean fiddle-like instrument), Ilwoo Lee (guitar and piri — a Korean flute, made of bamboo) and Eun Young Sim (geomungo, a Korean zither). Jaehyuk Choi (drums) and B.K. Yu (bass) — can trace its origins tow hen its founding trio met while studying traditional music at Korea National University of Arts. Kim, Lee and Sim bounded over a mutual desire to present traditional music in a new way, “to communicate with the ordinary person, who doesn’t listen to traditional Korean music,” Ilwoo Lee, JAMBINAI’s principal composer and songwriter explained in press notes.

JAMBINAI’s approach manages to eschew several generations of Korean modernists and post-modernists and leans much closer to Western styles with Korean instrumentation — with their sound drawing from Western classical music, jazz, jazz fusion, post rock, prog rock and experimental rock. The then-trio further established their unique headbanging take on traditional Korean music with 2010’s self-tiled debut EP and 2012’s full-length debut, Differance.

While their sound and approach does manage to shock Korean audiences, the band has seen critical and commercial success: Differance was nominated for Best Crossover Album and Best Jazz and Crossover Performance at the 2013 South Korean Music Awards, and won Best Crossover Album. The band used the album’s success as a springboard for several critically applauded, international tours as a quintet.

2016’s Hermitage was released through Bella Union Records, The album featured “They Keep Silence,” a song that sonically brought  Tool and Ministry to mind while tapping into a seemingly universal feeling of anger and isolation — especially those, who are growing both impatient and suspicious of the forces that are influencing and controlling their daily lives.

For the South Korean post rock outfit, the past couple of years have been the best of times and the worst of times: The outfit released their third album ONDA back in 2019. Just a few months later, in February 2020, the quintet won Best Rock Album and Best Rock song for album track “ONDA” at that year’s South Korean Music Awards. Of course, the pandemic struck in March 2020, throwing a monkey wrench into both people’s lives and their plans.

The band’s latest EP Apparition is slated for a Friday release through Bella Union. The EP reportedly captures the depth and range of emotions that the band has felt and experienced over the past couple of years, from anxious lockdowns and the disappointment of thwarted plans, to the thrill of renewed creativity, hunger and hope. “After ONDA we saw 2020 as a new opportunity to work on a bigger stage,” JAMBINAI’s Ilwoo Lee recalls. “I personally wanted to release a new album and tour to exhaust the energy of ONDA and find new inspiration, but it didn’t work out that way. We didn’t find enough energy to make a full album yet, so for now we are releasing four songs.”

The EP’s title is derived from Lee’s perception of the band,. “JAMBINAI have been making intense music for an intense group of devotees in invisible places,” he says. “Overall, I have tried to express a message of comfort to everyone living in a difficult time due to the pandemic and what’s going on in the world.” 

The EP reveals a band that’s more energized than ever, making up for lost time and momentum: Their appearance at the Seoul 2018 Winter Olympic Games Closing Ceremony set up the forward momentum that produced ONDA. Their South Korean Music Awards wins upped the ante for a prospective follow-up. Even after winning the Asia category at the 2020 Songlines Awards, they felt that the thrill and force of new music and performance would be the only thing to really count. By the end of 2021, they had started to record the material that would become Apparition — but they managed to be be busy: They released four acoustic performances. They collaborated with Soojung Baek’s boutique Craft Codes to combine two of her seats “that seemed to match our music the best,” Lee says.

The urge to create has pushed the band’s core trio creative energies into new territories: In September, JAMBINAI’s Lee worked as a metro of the traditional Gyeonggi Sinawi Orchestra for performances in Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Just last month, he collaborated with PAKK at London’s K-Music Festival. And he wrote the music for the first season of the BBC’S Korean-set crime podcast, The Lazarus Heist. The band’s Kim and Sim co-wrote the music for a modern art piece in South Korea’s National Museum of Contemporary and Modern Arts. Sim also released a solo album back in 2019 — and wrote and performed the music for a piece by choreographer Jinyeob Cha earlier this year, Kim also currently DJs for a Korean traditional music broadcast.

The band’s core trio, along with Choi and Yu will embark on a tour in may 2023, “and when there’s an empty space, I want to make a new album,” Lee adds.

Apparition‘s latest single “from the place been erased,” features guest vocals from K Pop legend swja (also known as sunwoojunga), who has worked with 2NE1, Blackpink and a little known outfit by the name of something like BTS. swja’s ethereal and achingly delicate delivery i paired with a brooding and expansive arrangement that alternates between dreamy and atmospheric passages and stormy power chord-driven sections that rip hard. Sonically, the song is a seamless synthesis of trip-hop, shoegaze, doom metal and post rock — with Western and Korean instrumentation that captures intense emotion: unease, frustration, anger and hope within a turn of a phrase.

“I thought swja’s voice would go well with our music,” says Lee, “so I asked her for help. I am honoured that she willingly participated. Despite our heavy and strong sound, she understood its inner emotions.”

Directed by Jinho Park, the accompanying video features swja and the members of JAMBINAI performing the song together in intimately shot footage paired with some gorgeous and trippy lighting.

New Video: Sophie Jamieson Shares Devastating “Sink”

Rising British singer/songwriter Sophie Jamieson released two EPs back in 2020 that caught the attention of Bella Union Records, who signed Jamieson — and will be releasing her full-length debut, the Steph Marziano-produced Choosing. Slated for a December 2, 2022 release, Choosing is a subtle rework of the sound that Jamieson quickly established through her first two EPs: While those EPs flirted with playful experimentation, Choosing‘s sound is both more organic simpler and intimate, featuring arrangements of live drums, bass, cello and piano, which are roomy enough for the British singer/songwriter’s mesmerizing vocals to take the spotlight.

Jamieson has described the songs on those two EPs as “black holes” and while Choosing covers similar ground, it reportedly never takes it eyes from what lies beyond, never fully releases its grip when everything is telling her to let go. The album is a deeply personal documentation of a journey from the painful rock bottom of self-destruction to a safer place, imbued with the faint light of hope. Focusing on the bare bones of each song, the album’s material is influenced by songwriters like Elena Tonra, Sharon Van Etten and Scott Hutchinson, and sees Jamieson singing openly about longing and searching, of trying, failing and trying again, and the strength of love in its varying forms.

“The title of this album is so important,” Sophie explains. “Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it’s about hope, and finding strength. It’s about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, and crawling towards it.” 

Ultimately, the album asks the listener to look deep within themselves and to show them that they can take whatever pain they’re experiencing, and choose, to some extent, how they let it affect them; whether they let it burn them down or whether they choose to look it straight in the face. “The songs are bursting with something, and that energy just needs to be reshaped into love for the self,” Sophie explains. “I can say this from a place of having learned now how to love and care for myself. The love that reverberates through this album is like the green shoots of something I have happily learned to nurture into my present day.”

“The few times I have listened to this album from start to finish, I have realized that there is a huge amount of love in it,” Jamieson says “I think there is a strong potential for real, healthy, healing love. It’s like a line of relief that runs along through all the songs. It’s never unleashed, it hasn’t yet learned how, but it’s present in an underlying tension and potential.” 

Choosing‘s first single, the devastating “Sink” is centered around a sparse arrangement of twinkling and wobbling keys that seem both childlike and ironically detached, skittering boom bap-like drumming that’s roomy enough for Jamieson’s weary and heartbroken delivery to take the lead. The song is an unflinchingly honest look at someone on the edge — and not quite knowing what’s next. “Sink” was written as a love letter to alcohol amid an increasing dependence upon it, informed by a recurring image Sophie had of herself on a desert island, a quiet, calm place that was just too good to be true. “’Sink’ presents a purgatory between being able to choose and begging not to be pulled under,” Sophie explains. “It’s about teetering on the edge, looking over the cliff, asking not to be pulled over before realising you only have to choose not to jump.” 

Co-directed by Jamieson and Rosamund Bullard and filmed and edited by Bullard, the accompanying video follows Jamieson taking a train to the coast. We follow her as she walks along the shore, looking at the horizon in front of her. “This song began as a love letter to alcohol, written from the cusp of falling into addiction. I had begun to trust this tool but I could feel it turning on me, like a bad friend,” Jamieson says of the song and accompanying video. “I knew I was close to losing control over it, and realized that I had to choose whether to fall in or not. This song exists at the brink of choice: whether to abandon yourself, or whether to make the colossal effort to rescue yourself. The video, like the song, approaches the edge – the tantalizing mystery and comfort of it, the openness of possibility and also the quiet knowledge of the dead end. The shoreline is that edge: beautiful, eerie, infinite, and empty.”

New Video: Tallies Share Shimmering and Uplifting “Memento”

With the release of 2019’s self-titled, full-length debut, Toronto-based dream pop outfit Tallies — Dylan Frankland (guitar), Sarah Cogan (vocals, guitar) and Cian O’Neill (drums) — exploded into the national and international scenes: The album received praise from the likes of Under the RadarDIY MagazineThe Line of Best FitMOJOBandcamp DailyExclaim!,  KEXP and others. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the Toronto-based dream poppers have opened for MudhoneyHatchieTim Burgess and Weaves, and they played at the inaugural New Colossus Festival.

The band’s Graham Walsh and Dylan Frankland co-produced sophomore album Patina was recorded at Palace SoundHoly Fuck‘s Baskitball 4 Life and Candle Recording, and is slated for a Friday release through Kanine Records here in the States, Hand Drawn Dracula in Canada and Bella Union in the UK and EU. The album, which was understandably delayed as a result of the pandemic is simultaneously a labor of love and a bold step forward for the Canadian trio: Firmly rooted in their penchant in juxtaposing light and dark, the album continues to see the band drawing from LushBeach House and Cocteau Twins, but with a greater emphasis on shimmering guitars, earnest, lived-in songwriting — and a well-placed, razor sharp hook. 

The album will feature:

  • The previously released “No Dreams of Fayres,” an ironically upbeat single that sonically brought The Sundays‘ “Here’s Where The Story Ends,” while documenting Sarah Cogan’s struggles with depression — in particular, the moments, when she was trying to work it out, but just couldn’t find the energy to do so. “‘No Dreams of Fayres’ is a reflection of thoughts that I remember going through my mind when I stayed still in bed,” Tallies’ Sarah Cogan explains in press notes. “Feeling as though staying still in bed was the only thing that would help the sadness – basically, disconnecting myself from family, friends, and having a life. Finding the way out of depression was hard but possible. ‘No Dreams of Fayres’ is also about the realization of letting yourself feel real feelings but not mistaking them for emotions. I had to learn to get a grip of what I wanted out of life and go for it with no self-sabotage – which was music, as cliché as it sounds. It pulled me out of bed, physically and mentally.”
  • Special,” continued a remarkable run of upbeat shoegazer-inspired jangle pop featuring Cogan’s plaintive vocals, Frankland’s shimmering, reverb-drenched guitar lines and O’Neill’s propulsive drumming paired with their unerring knack of razor sharp, anthemic hooks. Despite its breezy nature, the song is underpinned by an aching and familiar yearning: “‘Special,’ as Sarah Cogan explains “is about longing to be seen and heard by those who matter to you most. Sometimes, feeling invisible is particularly painful when the indifference comes from someone whose opinion means a lot to you.” 

“Memento,” the last single before Patina‘s release on Friday, is a slow-burning ballad featuring Cogan’s achingly plaintive and soaring vocal, Frankland’s shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar lines, and O’Neill’s simple yet propulsive time-keeping paired with the band’s penchant for rousing hooks and choruses. While sounding inspired by 120 Minutes-era MTV college rock/alternative rock, “Memento” is centered in a hopeful and powerful message — one that’s much-needed in our wildly uncertain and perilous time.

“I am a firm believer in ‘what goes down must come up’, people usually say the opposite, but this is a motto I’ve used throughout my life,” Tallies’ Sarah Cogan explains. “When things aren’t going well, they have a tendency to bounce back. ‘Memento’, to me, is my pick-up song. When I sing ‘gotta get you on your way now’, I’m saying that it’s time to move on and move forward. I’ve had many moments in my life where I’ve lost momentum and felt directionless like I’d fallen into a black hole. It’s hard to crawl out of the hole and get back on track. I think there are a lot of people who spend their time thinking about how they need to get back on track. Listen to this song and remind yourself it’s time to look forward and lean into the future.”

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with Justis Karr at IMMV Productions, the accompanying video features slickly edited, nostalgia-inducing stock footage, including a mother playing with and holding her newborn, kids at school, an exhausted mom taking car of her household of screaming kids, an elderly woman playing with a cat and fixing tea and psychedelic imagery sometimes superimposed over the band performing the song. Interestingly, the visual manages to further emphasis the song’s overall themes with exhausted, broken people trying to figure out ways to push forward — sometimes on a daily basis.

New Video: Toronto’s Tallies Share Shimmering and Longing “Special”

With the release of 2019’s self-titled, full-length debut, Toronto-based dream pop outfit Tallies — Dylan Frankland (guitar), Sarah Cogan (vocals, guitar) and Cian O’Neill (drums) — exploded into the national and international scenes: The album received praise from the likes of Under the RadarDIY MagazineThe Line of Best FitMOJOBandcamp DailyExclaim!,  KEXP and others. And adding to a rapidly growing profile, the Toronto-based dream poppers have opened for MudhoneyHatchieTim Burgess and Weaves

The band’s Graham Walsh and Dylan Frankland co-produced sophomore album Patina, which was recorded at Palace Sound, Holy Fuck‘s Baskitball 4 Life and Candle Recording is slated for a July 29, 2022 release through Kanine Records here in the States, Hand Drawn Dracula in Canada and Bella Union in the UK and EU. The album, which was understandably delayed as a result of the pandemic is simultaneously a labor of love and a bold step forward for the Canadian trio: Firmly rooted in their penchant in juxtaposing light and dark, the album continues to see the band drawing from LushBeach House and Cocteau Twins, but with a greater emphasis on shimmering guitars, earnest, lived-in songwriting — and a well-placed, razor sharp hook.

The album will feature, the previously released “No Dreams of Fayres,” an ironically upbeat single that sonically brought The Sundays‘ “Here’s Where The Story Ends,” while documenting Sarah Cogan’s struggles with depression — in particular, thee moments, when she was trying to work it out, but just couldn’t find the energy to do so.

“‘No Dreams of Fayres’ is a reflection of thoughts that I remember going through my mind when I stayed still in bed,” Tallies’ Sarah Cogan explains in press notes. “Feeling as though staying still in bed was the only thing that would help the sadness – basically, disconnecting myself from family, friends, and having a life. Finding the way out of depression was hard but possible. ‘No Dreams of Fayres’ is also about the realization of letting yourself feel real feelings but not mistaking them for emotions. I had to learn to get a grip of what I wanted out of life and go for it with no self-sabotage – which was music, as cliché as it sounds. It pulled me out of bed, physically and mentally.”

Patina‘s latest single “Special” continues a run remarkable run of deceptively upbeat shoegazer-inspired jangle pop featuring Cogan’s plaintive vocals, Frankland’s shimmering reverb-drenched guitar lines and O’Neill’s propulsive drumming paired with their unerring knack for razor sharp, anthemic hooks. But despite its breezy nature, the song is underpinned by a an aching and familiar yearning: “‘Special,’ as Sarah Cogan explains “is about longing to be seen and heard by those who matter to you most. Sometimes, feeling invisible is particularly painful when the indifference comes from someone whose opinion means a lot to you.”

Directed by Justis Krar at IMMV Productions, the accompanying video for “Special” features carefully edited stock footage from movies and home videos: The video begins with fingers and toes — dipping into water, or shampooed hair before following a troubled and bored couple, who have deeply unaddressed issues. You can read the pain and heartache in both of their faces, and it further emphasizes the themes at the heart of the song.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Penelope Isles Release a Deceptively Sun-Dappled Reflection on Anxiety

Brighton-based indie rock outfit Penelope Isles, led by sibling duo and co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, had a breakthrough 2019: their self-produced, full-length debut Until The Tide Creeps In was released to critical acclaimed globally. The band supported the album with some relentless touring that included sharing stages with The Flaming Lips and The Magic Numbers, as well as three Stateside tours. including a stop at the inaugural New Colossus Festival.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Jack Wolters-produced sophomore album Which Way To Happy is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through Bella Union. The album’s material was forged during a period of emotional and professional upheaval for The Wolters and for Penelope Isles. The band spent much of 2019 touring across Europe and America with their bandmates. When the pandemic struck early last year, the band — understandably — felt as though everything was falling apart: much like countless other folks across the world, the members of Penelope Isles found their plans and hopes in an indefinite stall. Along with that, Jack and Lily were dealing with their own respective heartaches and the departure of two bandmates. The departing bandmates were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor and Hannah Feenstra for the recording of the album. “A godsend after a low time,” Lily Wolters says. 

The Wolters along with Nicholson, Taylor and Feenstra holed up into a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdowns were instituted everywhere. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything and emotions — naturally — ran very high. “We were there for about two or three months, ultimately,” Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolter recalls. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

Finished away from the confines of the Cornwall-based cottage and further flushed out with acclaimed composer Fiona Brice, the band’s sophomore album finds the band further emphasizing the core traits that have won them acclaim globally: the bond between Jack and Lily, a desire to celebrate life in all of its facets and a sensitivity towards complex feelings. But interestingly, Which Way To Happy may arguably be their most ambitious effort to date: Sometimes, the album’s material swoons, sometimes it soars. Other times it bravely says “it’s OK to not be OK.” And this is while seeing the band balance on a sonic and stylistic tight rope between expansive cosmic pop, and intimate, earnest songwriting.

In the lead up to the album’s release, I’ve written about three of Which Way To Happy‘s singles:

  • The cinematic “Sailing Still.” Centered around a shimmering and brooding string arrangement, gently strummed guitar, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Lily Wolter’s achingly tender vocals, the heartbreakingly gorgeous track evokes a deep yet familiar yearning for peace in a mad, mad, mad world — while sonically bearing a resemblance to Lily Wolter’s collaboration with Lost Horizons
  • Iced Gems” is a gently undulating track featuring twinkling keys, fluttering and atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Lily Wolters’ achingly plaintive vocals. And while being a decided sonic departure, the song is centered around somme deeply intimate lyricism and the duo’s unerring knack for crafting infectious, razor sharp hooks. 
  • Sudoku” is a slow-burning and lushly textured bit of dream pop/shoegaze centered around shimmering guitars, plaintive and expressive vocals, a soaring hook and a fuzzy power chord driven solo.  

“Terrified,” the album’s fourth and latest single is a sun-dappled and hook-driven bit of jangle pop — but under the song’s upbeat, breezy vibes, the song is a reflection on maneuvering a mad, mad, mad world with anxiety — and pretending to the outside world that you’re not crumbling apart on the inside. “It’s about those days when you’re dying inside but have to pop out to the shop, bumping into someone, having to put on a magic show, pretending to appear that everything is OK. It’s a song that has such a happy-fun-summery exterior but lyrically is totally the opposite,” Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolters explains. “It’s one of self-doubt, displacement and finding something really terrifying to handle. Sometimes we hide a lot behind ourselves. ‘Terrified’ was an outlet for me to be able to tackle scary thoughts and worries in more of an abstract way. Things can seem impossible to talk about and articulate sometimes. I feel that making this album has enabled me and my sister Lily to open up a lot more and be honest with our songs as it just makes them so much more real.”

New Video: Lost Horizons Teams Up with KookieLou on a Slow-burning and Gorgeous Standalone Single and Visual

The members of the acclaimed duo Lost Horizons — Cocteau Twins‘ and Bella Union Records label head Simon Raymonde (bass. guitar, keys, production) and Dif Juz’s Richie Thomas (drums, keys, guitar) — each ended a 20+ year hiatus from creating music with the release of their full-length debut together, 2017’s Ojaiá, which derived its title from the Spanish word for “hopefully” or the the idiomatic expression, “God willing.” “These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world,” Thomas said in press notes at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music . . . And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!” 

Seemingly, the state of the world has gotten much worse and much more dire since the release of Ojalá. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the viciously inequitable flaws of our socioeconomic systems and our blind selfishness and greed. We’re on the brink of irrevocable climate catastrophe. Millions across the world are risking life and limb, migrating to wherever they can as a result of climate change, socioeconomic instability and civil war. But one small portion of Thomas’ hopes have been fulfilled: the duo reconvened to write and record their acclaimed sophomore album In Quiet Moments

Written and recorded during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, In Quiet Moments‘ material is inspired by the sense of existential doom, fear, uncertainty and anxiety of the larger world — and deep heartache: Just as the duo were settling into the studio to craft the largely improvised, instrumental bedrock of the album’s material, Raymonde’s mother died. 

As a response, Raymonde threw himself into his work as a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.” The duo forged ahead, crafting 16 instrumental tracks that they sent to an eclectic array of guest vocalists including Ural ThomasPenelope Isles‘ Jack Wolter, The Hempolics Nubiya Brandon, Tim SmithGemma Dunleavythe innocence mission’s Karen Peris, Horse Thief‘s Cameron Neal, Marissa NadlerPorridge Radio‘s Dana Margolin, John GrantBallet School‘s Rosie Blair, Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (as her solo recording project KookieLou) and an impressive list of others. 

When they sent the instrumental tracks to their then-prospective guest vocalists, Raymonde suggested a guided theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.” Roughly half of the album’s lyrics were written during the middle of pandemic-related lockdowns but as it turns out, Raymonde in particular, saw a sliver lining: people were forced to slow down and take careful stock of themselves and their lives. Interestingly, after having heard a lyric written by Ural Thomas, Raymonde singled out on the phrase “in quiet moments,” and thought it would be a perfect album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful.” 

Although generally centered around loss and heartbreak, the album’s material is imbued with a sense of hope. And as a result, the album subtly leans in the direction of rebirth more so than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” Thomas says. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” That shouldn’t be surprising as both Lost Horizons albums find the duo and their various collaborators on a journey through a dizzying area of moods and voices. 

Lost Horizons’ teamed up with Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (a.k.a. KookieLou) on In Quiet Moments single “Heart of a Hummingbird,” a widescreen yet hazy bit of shoegaze that focuses on the confusing and often contradictory feelings that love and heartache inspire — in particular, longing, desperation, uncertainty, acceptance and denial.

Lost Horizons’ Simon Raymonde, along with Penelope Isles’ Lilly Wolter teamed up on slow-burning and gorgeous standalone single “Florida.” Centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering pedal steel, sinuous bass lines and Wolter’s ethereal cooing, “Florida” is a dreamy and introspective song featuring a narrator, who looks at herself and a romantic relationship with a very adult, unvarnished honesty.

Directed by Jack and Lily Wolter, the video for “Florida” further establishes the duo’s reputation for doing as much as possible in a DIY fashion: Featuring a mix of hand-made illustrations and animation, the video follows Lily Wolter in a paper mâché air balloon on a journey through weird and fantastical landscapes and views.

“Like most videos my brother Jack and I make, this one was most certainly trial and error,” Lily Wolter explains. “A lot of the time we find ourselves surrounded in a jungle of paints, flowers, glitter, string, lava lamps and makeshift green screens and say, ‘what have we gotten ourselves into?’ Despite the hours of drawings and the former attempts to make something that suited the trance-like, flowing, softness of the song, we got there in the end! The lyrics are about a time I spent on tour in America a few years back. We wanted to show an abstract journey overlooking all sorts of weird and wonderful views. I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon, but I reckon it would be pretty damn scary. Big thanks to our mum for assisting with the paper-mâché balloons, to our dear friend Josh for the helping hand, and to Lost Horizons for wanting me to sing on their music, I’m once again, truly honoured.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Penelope Isles Release a Gorgeous and Heartbreaking Visual for “Sudoku”

Led by sibling duo and co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, the Brighton-based indie rock act Penelope Isles had a breakthrough 2019: their self-produced, full-length debut Until The Tide Creeps In was released to critical acclaimed globally. And to support the album, the band shared stages with The Flaming Lips and The Magic Numbers, playing over 100 shows — and they made three Stateside tours, including a stop at the inaugural New Colossus Festival.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Jack Wolters-produced sophomore album Which Way To Happy is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through Bella Union. The album’s material was forged during a period of emotional and professional upheaval for The Wolters and for Penelope Isles. The band spent much of 2019 touring across Europe and America with their bandmates. When the pandemic struck early last year, the band — understandably — felt as though everything was falling apart: much like countless other folks across the world, the members of Penelope Isles found their plans in an indefinite halt. Jack and Lily were dealing with their own respective romantic heartaches and the departure of two bands members, who were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor and Hannah Feenstra for the recording of the album. “A godsend after a low time,” Lily Wolters says. 

The Wolters along with Nicholson, Taylor and Feenstra holed into a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdowns were instituted everywhere. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything and emotions — naturally — ran very high. “We were there for about two or three months, untilately,” says Jack. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

Finished away from the confines of the Cornwall-based cottage and further flushed out with acclaimed composer Fiona Brice, the band’s sophomore album finds the band further emphasizing the core traits that have won them acclaim globally: the bond between Jack and Lily, a desire to celebrate life in all of its facets and a sensitivity towards complex feelings. But interestingly, Which Way To Happy may arguably be their most ambitious effort to date: Sometimes, the album’s material swoons, sometimes it soars. Other times it bravely says “it’s OK to not be OK.” And this is while balancing a tight rope between expansive, cosmic pop and up-close, heart-felt intimate songwriting. 

So far, I’ve written about two of Which Way To Happy‘s singles:

  • The cinematic “Sailing Still.” Centered around a shimmering and brooding string arrangement, gently strummed guitar, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Lily Wolter’s achingly tender vocals, the heartbreakingly gorgeous track evokes a deep yet familiar yearning for peace in a mad, mad, mad world — while sonically bearing a resemblance to Lily Wolter’s collaboration with Lost Horizons
  • Iced Gems” is a gently undulating track featuring twinkling keys, fluttering and atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Lily Wolters’ achingly plaintive vocals. And while being a decided sonic departure, the song is centered around somme deeply intimate lyricism and the duo’s unerring knack for crafting infectious, razor sharp hooks.

Which Way To Happy‘s third and latest single “Sudoku” is a slow-burning and lushly textured bit of dream pop/shoegaze centered around shimmering guitars, plaintive and expressive vocals, a soaring hook and a fuzzy power chord driven solo. Sonically, the track — to my ears, at least — brings back memories of classic Brit Pop.

“‘Sudoku’ is probably the oldest song on the album. We used to play it in our old band, Your Gold Teeth, back on the Isle of Man when Lily and I first started making music,” Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolters explains. “Dad loves a sudoku puzzle whilst he’s sat on the loo. So this one is for him! It’s a special song for us and we wanted to bring it back and play it with Penelope Isles.”

The recently released video for “Sudoku” is an intimate portrait of a middle aged gentleman. We follow the man as he gets up, brushes he teeth, makes himself a healthy breakfast and some tea before heading to his workspace to work on a model airplane. He stops to each lunch with his pet bird, water his plants and get a package delivered — and then back to work. When he finishes, he takes the plane out on a test flight; but it quickly proves to be a frustrating disaster with the plane flying a few feet before crashing.

The video ends with the band throwing the plane in the garbage and heading home to work on a model car.

New Video: Penelope Isles Release a Hallucinogenic Visual for Fluttering and Intimate “Iced Gems”

Led by sibling duo and co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, the Brighton-based indie rock act Penelope Isles had a breakthrough 2019: their self-produced, full-length debut Until The Tide Creeps In was released to critical acclaimed globally. And to support the album, the band shared stages with The Flaming Lips and The Magic Numbers, playing over 100 shows — and they made three Stateside tours, including a stop at the inaugural New Colossus Festival.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Jack Wolfers-produced sophomore album Which Way To Happy is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through Bella Union. The album’s material was forged during a period of emotional and professional upheaval for The Wolters and for Penelope Isles. The band spent much of 2019 touring across Europe and America with their bandmates. When the pandemic struck early last year, the band — understandably — felt as though everything was falling apart: much like countless other folks across the world, the members of Penelope Isles found their plans in an indefinite halt. Jack and Lily were dealing with their own respective romantic heartaches and the departure of two bands members, who were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor and Hannah Feenstra for the recording of the album. “A godsend after a low time,” Lily Wolters says.

The Wolters along with Nicholson, Taylor and Feenstra holed into a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdowns were instituted everywhere. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything and emotions — naturally — ran very high. “We were there for about two or three months, untilately,” says Jack. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

ex feelings. But interestingly, Which Way To Happy may arguably be the most ambitious effort to date: Sometimes, the album’s material swoons, sometimes it soars. Other times it bravely says “it’s OK to not be OK.” And this is while balancing a tight rope between expansive, cosmic pop and up-close, heart-felt intimate songwriting.

Last month, I wrote about Which Way To Happy’s cinematic first single “Sailing Still.” Centered around a shimmering and brooding string arrangement, gently strummed guitar, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Lily Wolter’s achingly tender vocals, the heartbreakingly gorgeous track evokes a deep yet familiar yearning for peace in a mad, mad, mad world — while sonically bearing a resemblance to Lily Wolter’s collaboration with Lost Horizons.

Which Way To Happy’s second and latest single “Iced Gems” is a gently undulating track featuring twinkling keys, fluttering and atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Lily Wolters’ achingly plaintive vocals. Although the song is a decided sonic departure from its immediate predecessor and their previously released work, the song is centered around some deeply intimate lyricism and the duo’s unerring knack for crafting infectious, razor sharp hooks.

me graphics that follows the Wolters as they travel by raft, complete with a living room set up and by tricked out van with bouquets of flowers before ending up in a meadow where they jam out.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Piroshka Releases a Delicate Meditation on Love

Deriving their name from the Hungarian version of Little Red Riding Hood, the acclaimed indie rock All-Star fact Piroshka — Lush’s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) Moose’s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), Modern English’s Mick Conroy (bass) and Elastica’s Justin Welch (drums) — features members, best known for their individual work with some of the most acclaimed and beloved indie acts of the past 30 years or so. The JOVM mainstay act can trace its origins to the completed web of connections between its acclaimed members: Individually, Piroshka’s Berenyi and McKillop are considered shoegazer pioneers with their own respective bands, releasing a number of critically applauded albums before they got married and started a family. With their critically appalled and commercially successful 1995 self-titled, full-length debut Elastica exploded into the international scene as Brit Pop megastars — and as admirers, Berenyi and McKillop were familiar with Welch and his work with the band. Conroy joined Moose after Modern English split up for the second time. Welch eventually joined the reunited Lush in 2015. And when Lush needed a bassist for their final show in Manchester, Conroy filled in.

Lush’s final Manchester show laid the foundations for Piroshka’s foundation — but I need to add some much-needed and complicated background: Life is complicated and knotty after all. After Lush’s Chris Acland committed suicide in 1997, his grieving bandmates felt it was impossible to continue as a band without him. The band split up. Berenyi was so heartbroken by Acland’s death that she quit music and spent the next 20 years as a working mother. Because of a variety of personal and professional obligations, Berenyi didn’t agree to a Lush reunion and to touring until 2015. Welch, who coincidentally was a close friend of Acland’s was a logical choice to lovingly fill in.

At some point during the lead up to Lush’s finally show together, Welch asked Berenyi if she’d be up to something new once things ended. As Berenyi recalled in press notes, up until that point in her life, she hadn’t made music outside of Lush and solo work never had much appeal to her. “I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough.’ When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards — I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun.” “We sounded great!” Welch added in press notes. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Conroy agreed, adding “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed and it was good fun, too. And with Moose available, we thought, ‘let’s all have a bash, see what happens.’”

Now, as I said before life is often complicated and knotty — and with Piroshka there are some additional layers of entangled personal, professional and creative connections that are at the heart of the band: Bella Union’s label head Simon Raymonde was among the first people to hear the Brickbat demos and he quickly signed the band to the label. Raymonde’s former Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush’s debut album. And Raymonde’s current Lost Horizons bandmate Richie Thomas was a former member of Moose.

Building upon the attention they received after the release of 2019’s full length debut Brickbat, the band just released their highly-anticipated sophomore album Love Drips and Gathers today. Deriving its title from a line of a Dylan Thomas poem, Piroshka’s sophomore album is a deeply introspective effort, that thematically focuses on the ties that bind us — in particular as lovers, parents, children and friends. Berenyi and McKillop split lyric writing duties, and as a result the album features songs about Berenyi’s and McKillop’s relationship and family, the deaths of McKillop’s mother and father, and the death of longtime friend and 4AD in-house art director Vaughan Oliver, who died suddenly at the end of 2019.

Sonically, Love Drips and Gathers finds the quartet employing more of an ethereal ound than its predecessor while still reveling in energy and drama. “If Brickbat was our Britpop album, then Love Drips And Gathers is shoegaze!” Piroshka’s Miki Berenyi says in press notes. “It wasn’t intentional; we just wanted a different focus. I’ve always seen debut albums as capturing a band’s first moments, when you really have momentum, and then the second album is the chance for a more thoughtful approach.” Mick Conroy adds “Brickbat was a classic first album; noisy and raucous. On Love Drips And Gathers, we’ve calmed down and explored sounds, and space.”

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I managed to write about two of the album’s singles:

“Scratching at the Lid,” a shimmering and ethereal pop anthem centered around Berenyi’s imitable vocals, twinkling keys, a rousingly anthemic hook and a forceful motorik groove. But underneath the big hooks and breakneck gallop, the song is a deeply conflicted meditation focusing on McKillop’s relationship with his father and one’s relationships with their parents. 
“V.O.,” a heartbreaking and brooding mediation on heartache and inconsolable loss. dedicated to their friend and longtime collaborator Vaughan Oliver. Centered around heavily arpeggiated synths, shimmering guitars, Berenyi’s wispy delivery, a propulsive rhythm section and soaring strings, “V.O.” is a fittingly a 4AD Records/Cocteau Twins-like track that focuses on the funeral of a loved one in an impressionistic fashion.

“Loveable,” Love Drips and Gathers’ third and latest single is a swooning love song centered around Berernyi’s plaintive vocals and a delicate arrangement featuring shimmering guitars, a sumptuous bass line and gently rolling percussion. The song focuses on something that in my 42 years I’ve learned is extremely rare: stumbling across, true, deeply fulfilling love with another person.

I thought it was finally time to write an out and out love song! It was written very simply – led by the vocals and then finding the chords to meander around the melody,” Piroshka’s Miki Berenyi says in press notes. “Justin’s percussion, Moose’s accent notes… there’s a lovely delicacy to the embellishments. I am getting very sentimental in my old age because when I first heard Mick’s bass (one of the last things to be added) my eyes started welling up.”

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with Conor Kinsey, the recently released video for “Loveable” features the central romanic couple of the “V.O.” video. We see the couple of on a beautiful sunny day, sharing the sort of intimacy and comfort held between those madly in love. And yet, there’s a sense that the visual is an achingly bittersweet flashback on the days and moments we can never get back.