Tips for 2020: North America

Tips for 2020: North America

BAMBARA

Bambara made quite a first impression with their storming single ‘Serafina’ last year. With strong shadows of the Birthday Party and the Gunclub, it howls and scampers in a fever dream down back alleys. This urgent, visceral hit is a lacerating tryst that clings on for dear life as you free fall down to the abyss. Awesome. Their forthcoming debut album ‘Stray‘ is set for release this February on Wharf Cat Records and promises to be a cracker.

Formed in Athens, Georgia, Bambara – the Bateh brothers, Reid and Blaze, singer / guitarist and drummer respectively, and bassist William Brookshire – have been evolving their midnight-black noise into something more subtle and expansive ever since the release of their 2013 debut Dreamviolence.

With 2018’s Shadow On Everything, a narrative concept album that was their first release on Brooklyn independent Wharf Cat Record. On new single ‘Heat Lightning,’ an intensely drawn punk song with twanging guitar leads simmering with by ominous synths, frontman Reid Bateh turns his attention toward one of the album’s lead characters, the personified figure of Death.

“Stray is a death-obsessed album,” says Reid. “Most of the songs are about different characters’ futile attempts at living meaningful lives under the weight of imminent annihilation. I wanted “Serafina” to feel different. I wanted the song to radiate a sort of wild-eyed hope. A youthful disregard for death itself. Serafina and Sadie live exactly how they want to live, exploring their love for one another before a backdrop of flames. The knowledge of their own mortality takes nothing from their enthusiasm for life. If anything, they see it as a challenge they might one day overcome together. When they say, “We’ll never die” I want it to feel like they might actually have a shot.”
(Bill Cummings)

Tour dates:

4/5/20 – Sneaky Pete’s – Edinburgh, UK
5/5/20 – Sneaky Pete’s – Edinburgh, UK
5/6/20 – Stereo – Glasgow, UK
5/7/20 – The Cluny – Newcastle, UK
5/8/20 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
5/9/20 – The Sound House – Dublin, UK
5/11/20 – Yes (Pink Room) – Manchester, UK
5/12/20 – The Exchange – Bristol, UK
5/13/20 – Clwb Ifor Bach – Cardiff, UK
5/15/20 – The Bullingdon – Oxford, UK
5/16/20 – Bodega Social Club – Nottingham, UK
5/18/20 – Portland Arms – Cambridge, UK
5/19/20 – Hare and Hounds – Birmingham, UK
5/20/20 – The Dome – London, UK

MAI.LA

mai.la are Nashville/LA duo Cait and Katie, who caught our attention last year with the infectious single ‘maybe‘, they explain: “We’ve been attached at the hip for an eternity, cut from the same mold. We wrote this song for us, and people like us, that have someone in their life that’s the same type of psycho as them. They’ll drive you crazy, and you let them take the wheel.”

Empowering, kinetic and addictive; this slice of sleek future pop, bubbles out of the speakers with a snap, it has you in its clutches, the catchy melodic hooks shows off the duos vocal and lyrical dexterity backed by deft production. A tune. With echoes of the sleek millennial pop of Lorde and the suss of Janet Jackson, their debut EP ‘Blush‘ depicts a duo with a tight partnership and a playful, electric sound.

THE WANTS

The Wants who hail from Brooklyn, New York release their debut album Container. Recorded and produced by Madison Velding-VanDam and Jason Gates at HANJIN, their shipping container converted to studio in a Chinese factory parking lot, as well as respective home studios, The Wants slowly drafted the record over three years, starting with their more post-punk ideas and slowly mutating to include their more adventurous interests in techno, experimental electronic, and ambient music. The process was one of constantly reimagining a tracks’ potential, generally leaving the melody and lyrics — or the core song as it could be played on an acoustic guitar — in tact, weaving new ideas in and around the initial structures.

Consisting of two-fifths of Bodega, The Wants sound like New York in the 1980’s. Those movies that are now on Channel 5 at midnight with the synth-heavy soundtrack that sounded dangerous, dirty and sinister. Stand out single ‘Fear of Society’ epitomises this brilliantly. They take Post Punk and New Wave and weave 21st Century paranoia through it all. (James Auton)

CHOIR BOY

To herald the arrival of their second album slated for release later this year, Salt Lake City’s finest, Choir Boy unveiled ‘Nites Like This’ last autumn.

Speaking about the single, the band’s mainman, singer-songwriter Adam Klopp says it “contemplates the impermanence of romantic love and is meant to simulate a dream in which you’re dancing with your lover, but they are slowly pulled away by an invisible force.”

For the new record Klopp is joined on bass by Chaz Costello (also a member of Choir Boy adjacent act, Human Leather), saxophonist and keyboardist Jeff Kleinman plus Michael Paulsen on guitar and together the four men create an imperious swell of reverential sound, balancing emotional loss and alienation with helpless yearning. On ‘Nites Like This’, Choir Boy’s elegant gloom conjures up very fond memories of the Blue Nile and Talk Talk in their 80’s pomp and promises much for the forthcoming album (Simon Godley)

ELLIS

Ellis aka Hamilton, Ontario’s Linnea Siggelkow made her introduction with the awesome dreamy noise pop of her debut EP The Fuzz which saw the light of day in 2018 – a self-released, self-produced record that promptly led to a deal with Fat Possum Records.

Last week she announced details of her debut album, Born Again, due via Fat Possum Records on 3rd April. Produced by Jake Aron (Snail Mail, Solange, Grizzly Bear) and recorded partly at Aron’s Brooklyn studio.

“I grew up Christian and was quite devoted to faith up through my late teens, but I started challenging that once I got to university,” says Siggelkow, the daughter of a traveling book salesman and a piano teacher. “Since then I’ve been trying to redefine who I am and where I stand and what I think about these things on my own, and that journey very much played into the songwriting on this record.”

The album’s first single, ‘Fall Apart’ vividly depicts her growth as an artist, Ellis wistful longing delivery possess a new-found directness and is framed in a sweeping hazy poppy hew. Laying bare her longtime struggle with anxiety and its impact on her most precious relationships.
(Bill Cummings)

DANA GAVANSKI

A massively impressive emerging songwriter Toronto’s Dana Gavanski has released a string of impressive tracks this past year and completed a slate of well-received tours too. Starting with her excellent debut 7″ ‘One by One’ on Full Time Hobby. Stately and wistful there’s a touch of class to Gavanski’s songwriting, with ‘One by One’ where spindling hooks and her fantastic and dulcet vocal tones are framed with twinkling notes in the mid-distance. The song has elegantly balanced introspective verses, with melodies that dance on the head of a pin. She reels you into her captivating world of isolation and vulnerability. Follow up ‘Catch‘ was just as good, elegant longing, drawn exquisitely with echoes of Laura Marling and Joan Baez.

Her debut album Yesterday Is Gone, comes out via Full-Time Hobby on 27th March 2020. Alongside a new single entitled ‘Good Instead of Bad’ Dana says “it’s about reflecting on the end of a relationship and how quickly things change. The desire to make up for everything that wasn’t done or wasn’t done right. The muddiness of breaking up, and not knowing if it’s the right decision.

Yesterday Is Gone is a co-production between Dana, Toronto-based musician Sam Gleason, and Mike Lindsay of Tunng and LUMP, and on the evidence of what we’ve heard so far it promises to be superlative.(Bill Cummings)

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