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Tracks of the Week #171

Here are this week’s top picks from our writers, the best tracks that are tickling our fancy. Eight belters. Dive in and enjoy!

Leyla McCalla – Vini Wè

Why we love it: Leyla McCalla isn’t hanging around. No sooner has she successfully completed her part in this year’s Transatlantic Sessions – an annual event celebrating the finest folk sessions from both sides of the Atlantic – the Haitian-American artist, bilingual multi-instrumentalist and New Orleans resident announces the release of her new album Breaking The Thermometer. It’s her first album for ANTI- Records and will be out on 6 May 2022.

Breaking The Thermometer is inspired by Radio Haiti, the first independent radio station on the island, and ‘Vini Wè’, the latest song to be shared from the album is, in turn, inspired by the love story of Radio Haiti’s owner and journalist Jean Dominique and his wife and fellow journalist Michéle Montas.

Speaking about the album in general, and ‘Vini Wè’ in particular, Leyla McCalla says: “While many of the songs on the album are inspired by the listening that I have done in the archive, much of the album is deeply self-reflective – integrating experiences that I have had navigating life as a child both in the US and Haiti, my journey in claiming my Haitian-American identity and understanding the experiences, sacrifices and challenges overcome by my immigrant relatives. I also felt that this collection of songs needed moment to acknowledge the possibility and hope that love can offer us, despite what the world throws at us. Vini Wè Soley Leve – means come see the sunrise”.

Listen for yourself and you will hear exactly what she means (Simon Godley)

Market – Scar

Why we love it: With a new album rather wonderfully entitled The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong just around the corner you would have to suspect that there is something pretty interesting going on here. And when you listen to ‘Scar’, the lead single to be taken from Market’s debut album with Western Vinyl, you will have been proved to be absolutely dead right.

Market is the band led by the Brooklyn-based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Nate Mendelsohn and ‘Scar’ embraces much of the innovation, attitude and energy one associates with New York City as it shifts effortlessly from apparent convention to dynamic experimentation through the course of its rather magical three and half minute sonic journey.

Nate Mendelsohn says of the new song: “‘Scar’ was written about a very turbulent month of my life where I was relaxing upstate with friends for a luxurious month making music, but also my grandma died, my relationship dissolved, and a tick bite put me in the hospital overnight on an IV. The resulting song is fever dream country-punk: pretty but thorny, sturdy but anxious.” (Simon Godley)

Folly Group – I Raise You (The Price of your Head)

Folly Group are probably making the most interesting and diverse versions of the post-punk moniker in the UK at the moment, and this is no exception. With guitars straight from Tom Verlaine‘s fingertips circa 1977 in CBGBs, NYC, but also sounding incredibly contemporary. The incessant earworm “oooh, I raise you, the price of your head’ burrows its way in by way of a rampant percussion and bouncing bass which also conjures 2 Tone knees-up images.

They say: “Where Awake and Hungry doubled as a diary of the band’s formative months and encapsulation of our live show, Human and Kind is a projection of our ambition, and our desire to push ourselves through what we might previously have perceived as the ceiling of possibility for four players. The release is at once introspective and extroverted: it attempts to be a dynamic interrogation of grief and growth.” (Jim Auton)

Kathleen Frances – Boy

Why we love it: There is nothing like the understated, perfect minimalism of a piano and fragile, hurting voice. There is a classic soul voice, the contralto-deep Nina Simone-like coffee and cream devastating vibrato. The theme is universal and something we can all relate to but Kathleen Frances captures the heartbreak like only a few can; when it is still raw but considered and articulate. Beautiful.

They say: “This one took me ages to write. I was really hurting from a breakup. I just wasn’t ready to go there. I had a few nice ideas but nothing that felt right. It was all too surface level. I had to find what I really felt about it deep down, underneath the feelings of betrayal and bruised ego. I had to figure out what I really wanted from this person now. Things change, people change. It’s sad but it’s also hopeful, it allows you to take stock and figure out what you really want. With this song, I was attempting to get the balance right between cathartic sadness and self-assuredness.” (Jim Auton)

Ash Red – Downtown

Why we love it: Ash Red have released their third single ‘Downtown’, following ‘Philby’ and ‘The Stupid Song’.  Ash Red are a 3-piece alt-rock band from Cork, Ireland.  They formed in January 2019 and comprise Conrad Twomey (drums), Arthur Murray (guitar, vocals) and Tadhg O’Keeffe (bass).   ‘Downtown’ is the first song they ever wrote at their first practice.  The electric guitar on this track is key.  It generates a constant static on top of the heavier drumbeat and vocals.

It’s possible to read different interpretations of lyrics and songs as we inch out of the pandemic.  It feels poignant to hear ‘Maybe you should come to downtown’, a line not considered so deeply but with added meaning as downtown was a place we could not visit for such a long time.  Post-lockdowns we wanted to get there as soon as possible!

The track was written when Ash Red began as a 4-piece and as frontman Arthur explains: “it’s the only song we all wrote together as a group, it’s not the first song of ours we’d think to put out, but it’s a song that means a lot to us as a band and so it felt appropriate.”

Downtown’ is released ahead of Ash Red’s debut album, and on the evidence of this track and the two previous singles that album will be going on my “To Buy” list. (Julia Mason)

Crows – Room 156

Why we love it: Crows have released ‘Room 156’ the second single from their forthcoming album Beware Believers which is set for release on 1st April via Bad Vibrations Records.  The track was inspired by singer James Cox’s past obsession with true crime and old faith healers.  It has a very different pace to the previous single ‘Slowly Separate’.  Much slower and heavier, there is a darkness and menace to ‘Room 156’.   Crows have the ability to reproduce their anarchic live shows in their music.  Opening with thunderous drums and going on to layer in claustrophobic, chaotic guitars full of reverb and static it is a dense emotional soundscape.

“There’s nothing left in here/There’s nothing left at all.”

James further explains: “I used to be quite obsessed with true crime, and this song was kind of born out of researching H.H Holmes and the World Trades Hotel in the 1860s where he would murder people staying at his hotel informally called ‘The Murder Castle’. I also got quite obsessed with a faith healer from the early 1900s called Reverend Major Jealous Divine and reading transcripts of his old sermons, so this is basically just a weird amalgamation of mad shit I read about.”

Crows are set to tour the UK/EU this April in support of their new album and will also perform at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. (Julia Mason)

Memes – Second Thought

Why we love it: Glasgow’s Memes have released their new single ‘Second Thought’ the follow-up to ‘Heavy Night’ taken from their upcoming EP.  The laptop rock duo has a sardonic look at the everyday and see the ridiculous in it, putting a smile on our faces as we recognise the references.  And surely the title alone will make this track instantly relatable.  It’s the frenetic erratic delivery that grabs the attention with Memes and ‘Second Thought’ is no exception.  The lead vocal of John McLinden is clear which is important because it is the lyrics that you need to hear.

“I know I said we’d tie the knot. But now I’ve had a second thought/That we could make a life and what-not. But now I’ve had a second thought…”

And so this gives rise to the following lyrics, which I now know I am not going to be able to get out of my head as I am talking to certain people: “If my thoughts were in a thought bubble, then I would be in a lot of trouble”

It’s human nature to question ourselves, to have doubts and to over-think.  ‘Second Thought’ and its punk style delivery jump around all over the place while giving us food for thought simply lightens up the whole issue considerably.  Just don’t read my word bubble too closely! (Julia Mason)

Dove Cameron – Boyfriend

Why we love it: With the almost unavoidable sense of ‘love’ in the air as Valentine’s Day is upon us, it can be tempting for some of us to hide away or at least pretend that it isn’t nauseating. Love songs are predictable which makes them comfortable in their own way. This isn’t one of them, though. A love song, yes, but it seems to be about an attraction between two women – something that only ever really appears playful and experimental – that ‘phase’ people think queer relationships and feelings are born from, which really couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘Boyfriend’ is sultry, sexy, and a touch dangerous, but the lyrics still have something loving, loyal, protective about it as well as passionate and intense – in the moment. It also puts women in charge – of their own destiny, in relationships – and reminds us just how powerful women are, and how powerful we could be.

You probably know Dove Cameron as yet another Disney starlet, but this is such a departure from the fluff and innocence of Disney – the complete opposite, in fact. What I think is clear is that Cameron has taken that leap and I, for one, welcome it. (Toni Spencer)

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.