Lara Smiles – All For You
Lara Smiles is probably a new name to most readers, but before stepping out into the limelight in her own right she’s guested and shared stages with acts as prestigious as The Orb and Libertines‘ main man Pete Doherty. It’s not hard to see why she’s in demand, as her vocals are gutsy, distinctive and pack plenty of sass.
‘All For You’ starts off with a chugging punk-funk groove and comes on like a 21st century Blondie, effortlessly juggling rock, pop and disco influences and making it sound like the most natural thing in the world. It’s heavy enough to avoid being considered lightweight and boasting a chorus that will keep creeping back into your mind without warning. And the good news is it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her eclectic sound, which also includes more reflective, melancholy material as well as tracks that incorporate more electronic experimentation into her songwriting skills too. And if that isn’t enough to put a Smile on your face. (BW)
‘All For You’ is out on July 27th on Wall of Sound
Jah Wobble – England (Your Time Is Now)
Following in the often variable footsteps of some previous England World Cup football songs like ‘Back Home’ – England World Cup Squad (1970),’World In Motion’ – New Order (1990), ‘Three Lions ‘98’ – Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds (1998) and ‘We’re On The Ball’ – Ant & Dec (2002), ‘England (Your Time Is Now)’ is the latest record to appear in that most uneven of lines.
Jah Wobble, a man who has previously had stints with Public Image Limited, his own band Invaders of the Heart, and the London Underground is the latest to step up to this most tectonic of quadrennial plates and do you know what, he makes a pretty good arms-held-aloft, clenched fist of it all. As the legendary bass guitarist explains “I wrote ‘England (Your Time Is Now)’ a couple of years ago. I felt that one day, our time would come again on the big stage. Gary Lamin of the Bermondsey Joy Riders, a keen Millwall fan, plays guitar on the track. It’s quite a punky anthemic track. I think the punk ethos goes quite nicely with football. Anyway, when it comes to the England Football team hope springs eternal right?”
Wobble has at least had the very good sense to unveil his World Cup anthem at a time when the national team have just emerged from the group stages relatively unscathed. Whether the song now propels England on to ultimate glory in the competition still remains to be seen. (SG)
Amanda Shires – Eve’s Daughter
Given that she is married to him and plays violin and sings in his band the 400 Unit, it is perhaps not altogether surprising that the name of Amanda Shires is often mentioned in the same breath as that of Jason Isbell. But just one listen to ‘Eve’s Daughter’ – the latest track to drop from her eagerly awaited fifth album, To The Sunset – strongly suggests that we will now be rightly speaking about Amanda Shires in her very own right.
Recorded at the famous RCA Studio A in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by the Grammy Award-winning producer, Dave Cobb, ‘Eve’s Daughter’ is a swaggering country-rocker that hits the ground running and fully formed.
To The Sunset is due for release via Silver Knife/Thirty Tigers on the 3rd of August. A full UK tour will be announced shortly. (SG)
Princess Chelsea – I Love My Boyfriend
New Zealand synthpop musician Princess Chelsea (aka Chelsea Nikkel) is back with her fourth album The Loneliest Girl, due for release via Lil’ Chief Records on 7 September. The brilliant first single from the album ‘I Love My Boyfriend’. The video was shot by Chelsea at her Auckland home in front of a green screen, cloning herself to create a band.
A deceptive rifle between, gentle harpsichords and mellotrons and sweet vocals lead you up the path to a grittier garage song, like a collision between 60s girl groups like Shangri-Las and the bittersweet cynicism of Black Box Recorder. ‘I Love My Boyfriend’ is about feeling attracted to somebody else when you’re in a monogamous relationship. Delivered with a cynical air, the narrator feels guilty about their feelings for another person even though they “love their boyfriend” and don’t intend to act on it.
The Loneliest Girl was recorded by Chelsea between 2016 and 2017 in her home studio in West Auckland, New Zealand with production assistance from labelmate Jonathan Bree. Chelsea’s trademark arrangements featuring classic 80s Synths (Yamaha DX7, Roland D-50), ambient guitars, and orchestral instruments are all here but are presented in a more refined and simple manner than on her previous releases. (BC)
Full European tour dates here:
31.08.2018 PL – Gdansk – Soundrive Festival
07.09.2018 FR – Bordeaux – Iboat
09.09.2018 UK – London – Shacklewell Arms
12.09.2018 FR – Paris – Point Ephemere
18.09.2018 BE – Liege – Reflektor
19.09.2018 NL – Amsterdam – Paradiso / Indiestad
20.09.2018 DE – Hamburg – Reeperbahn Festival
21.09.2018 DK – Bucharest – Control Club
22.09.2018 DE – Berlin – Funkhaus / Indiesession
23.09.2018 DE – Dresden – Beatpol
25.09.2018 CZ – Prague – Jazzdock
26.09.2018 CZ – Pilzen – Andel
27.09.2018 SK – Presov – Christiania
28.09.2018 SK – Liptovsky Mikulas – Diera Do Sveta
29.09.2018 CZ – Ostrava – Cooltour
01.10.2018 CZ – Brno – Fleda
04.10.2018 CH – Geneva – Kalingrad
05.10.2018 GR – Athens – Fuzz Club
Breakfast Muff – You’re Not Written In My Stars
‘You’re Not Written In My Stars’ is the latest single from Scottish DIY pop trio Breakfast Muff, and can be found on their new Crocodile EP, ‘You’re Not Written in My Stars’ is an addictive tumbling twitchy song with trembling riffs and wonky percussion, the equivalent of standing up and falling down while the vocals skitter with a defiant punky sing-along about breaking free from those who keep you down delivered with a withering Scots tone that’s cast them aside.
Breakfast Muff consist of Eilidh McMillan (Rapid Tan, Jealous Girlfriend), Simone Wilson (Hairband, Mary Column) and Cal Donnelly (Spinning Coin, Kaputt, Rapid Tan), Breakfast Muff stand out not only for the music they make but how they make it. Without hierarchies, challenging each other to keep changing instruments and vocal duties from song to song, they are able to explore different genres and themes (feminism, punk, DIY music, garage, pop) while keeping a core essence.
The Crocodile EP follows Breakfast Muff’s acclaimed 2017 album Eurgh!. (BC)
Amy Helm – This Too Shall Light
Listening to ‘This Too Shall Light’ it should come as no surprise to hear that when Amy Helm recorded the songs that will appear on her second album she had a photograph of Mavis Staples beside her in the studio. Strains of the gospel icon’s great power, emotion and expression can be heard in Helm’s voice as she invests the MC Taylor and Josh Kaufmann-penned song of everyday struggle with tremendous pride and quiet determination.
Speaking about the recording sessions for the new album Amy Helm says “we just kind of set up, threw our stuff down and started playing without much thought, without much arranging, without much rehearsal and with lots of extra voices. That’s what we wanted the record to sound like and feel like”. If ‘This Too Shall Light’ – the title track from the album – is to be our yardstick then Helm has surpassed her aspirations for spontaneity and intuition. The record sounds just as natural as it feels. (SG)
Photo: Jah Wobble by John Hollingsworth