Video: Half Waif – Frost Burn

This week, Half Waif reveals a stunning, wintery, and at times bleak visual for her emotive second single Frost Burn. Directed by Emily Dubin, the video encapsulates the mindstate Nandi inhabits as the track’s protagonist, having been filmed in precisely the same location that the song was written.

About the video, producer/songwriter/vocalist Nandi Rose Plunkett explains: “‘Frost Burn’ was filmed at the same house and property where it was written, which is a house in the Berkshires, the region where I grew up. Emily & I decided it would be a good idea to return there to shoot, since the lyrics deal with confronting the past. We took the line from the chorus – “and on my island / I cannot keep out all the violence” – and used that to guide the imagery. We wanted to convey the idea that even when we try to build our own personal islands to protect ourselves from our past, ultimately the violence of our memories cannot be shut out. So there’s the brewing of tea – an act of comfort and coziness – that overlaps with an outdoor picnic in sub-zero weather. And there’s the fort built with blankets, a physically protective structure, that feels hollow and childish in the context of adulthood. In the video, I get to revisit the house where the song was born, while simultaneously reflecting on revisiting my past in that very area, where the woods and the cold and the sweet New England houses trigger so many memories. Standing on the edge of a frozen river in nothing but a dress, internal and external weather assaulting the body and mind.”

Half Waif’s form/a EP is out now on a limited-edition 12” & digitally via Cascine.

Aldous Harding – Imagining My Man

Aldous Harding has announced her forthcoming new album Party will be released on May 19 via 4AD.

Her debut release with 4AD, Party (produced with the award-winning John Parish; PJ Harvey, Sparklehorse) introduces a new pulse to the stark and unpopulated dramatic realm where the likes of Kate Bush and Scott Walker reside.

Comprising a formidable clutch of songs, 2017’s Party sees Harding shape-shift through a variety of roles: chanteuse, folk singer and balladeer – all executed with her twisted touch of humour, hubris and quiet horror. In other words, she’s having a good time. Stretching her limbs with playful cunning; every note, word and arrangement posed with intellect and inventiveness.

Created in Parish’s hometown of Bristol, Party saw Harding depart her New Zealand base in the antipodes for an intensive two-week immersion in the studio. Articulating her ambitions for Party to Parish was a galvanizing process for Harding, met with stunning results. The pair developed a near non-verbal shorthand, audibly evident in a raft of musical contributions from Parish. Alongside such special guests as Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas (having worked with Parish and toured with Aldous, it only took asking once), there is an exhilarating sense of risk throughout the record as Harding’s muscular wingspan extends. Teased out with inflections of experimental instrumentation and arrangements; Party is always anchored by Aldous’s intimidating command of her own songs. Pre-order here.

Slowdive – Sugar For The Pill

UK shoegaze pioneers Slowdive have announced their self-titled fourth studio-album will be released on May 5 via Dead Oceans.

The forthcoming record is preceded today by their beautifully understated new single, Sugar For The Pill, which follows the release of Star Roving, their first new song in 22 years.

Slowdive’s stargazing alchemy is set to further entrance the faithful while beguiling a legion of fresh ears. These eight new tracks, simultaneously expansive and the band’s most direct material to date, deftly swerve away from any “trip down memory lane.” They were birthed at the band’s talismanic Oxfordshire haunt, The Courtyard, and mixed at Los Angeles’ famed Sunset Sound by Chris Coady (Beach House). Throughout, the group dynamic was all-important.

“When you’re in a band and you do three records, there’s a continuous flow and a development. For us, that flow re-started with us playing live again and that has continued into the record,” notes principal songwriter Neil Halstead.

The video for Sugar For The Pill, product by in/out, takes its inspiration from the Slowdive album artwork, which is itself a still from Harry Smith’s cult classic animation Heaven and Earth Magic – the vast spiritual narrative that has influenced so many artists since it was originally released back in 1957.

Slowdive, the follow-up to 1995’s Pygmalion, is out May 5 on Dead Oceans. Pre-order here.

Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlister – Saturn

Sufjan Stevens, The National’s Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and Sufjan’s drummer James McAlister release their collaborative album Planetarium on June 9 via 4AD.

A completely reimagined version of the project originally undertaken years ago and performed in various iterations around the world, Planetarium unites Stevens’ vocals, McAlister’s beats, Dessner’s guitar performance, and Muhly’s instrumental compositions—part rock odyssey, part electronic experiment, part classical opus.

Conceptually, Planetarium revolves around the cosmic ideas Stevens’ lyrics explore: mythology, astrology, science, astronomy and the intricacies of human consciousness.

The album began when Dutch concert hall Muziekgebouw Eindhoven commissioned Muhly to create a new piece and he enlisted friends Dessner, Stevens and McAlister, all of whom had been looking for the opportunity to collaborate on a larger scale.

After sketching the framework of the song cycle and performing the piece as a band—flanked by a string quartet and seven trombones—in various forms, the quartet put the project on hold for several years. Returning to the raw material in 2016, Stevens and McAlister reversed their typical process, taking recordings of the live show and adapting to the studio. “We had recorded all the arrangements and the live parts in a studio after our last performance,” says Stevens, “so years later when we all kind of settled down, we said, ‘let’s open Pandora’s box.’”

Planetarium is out June 9 on 4AD. Pre-order here.

Tei Shi – Justify

Following a week of incredible performances and praise from critics and fans alike at Austin’s SXSW festival, Tei Shi has debuted Justify off of her highly-anticipated debut album Crawl Space, which is out March 31 on Downtown Records / Interscope.

Valerie Teicher aka Tei Shi noted, “Justify is a kind of protest song against the way in which we are categorized or judged by others based off of very superficial or one dimensional standards. It came from a place of rebellion against the insecurities and pressures that come into play when you put yourself in a position to be defined by another. For me the song is a challenge against that musically and emotionally.”

Crawl Space documents Tei Shi’s transformation from the cautious and curious new kid on the block to a confident, self-possessed and buzz worthy artist. Written and recorded over a year and a half, the album traces a much wider arc, from Tei Shi’s earliest musical explorations to this, her first long player. Growth is never easy, though, and if the title makes the process sound difficult, even claustrophobic, that’s because it was. In fact, there is a palpable physicality surrounding this record, and it reveals itself everywhere: from the album’s song titles (Keep Running, Lift Me), to its rhythms, to its astonishing cover art. Constant motion is a fact of life. A real, physical crawlspace fits only one person and demands that person move forward, out and through it. Tei Shi’s debut evokes that feeling and the experience of centering oneself, changing focus.

Tei Shi will release her forthcoming debut record, Crawl Space, on March 31 via Downtown Records / Interscope.

Land Of Talk – This Time

Land of Talk, the Montreal-based band led by Elizabeth Powell, release their first new album in seven years, Life After Youth, on May 19 via Saddle Creek.

Produced and mixed by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth) and Jace Lasek (Besnard Lakes), and featuring Sharon Van Etten, Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Sal Maida (Roxy Music/Sparks), and The Besnard Lakes, the album is a collection of songs that sees Powell in the finest voice of her career, and reuniting with original Land of Talk drummer Bucky Wheaton.

Following on from the stirring, previously-shared Inner Lover, Land of Talk return this week with the second single from their forthcoming new album, This Time, featuring Sharon Van Etten.

The song that served as the spark for the Montreal-based band’s first LP since 2010’s Cloak and Cipher, the song hears Powell rediscovering her musical muse: “I just wanted to repeat those lyrics over and over again, because that’s all I really had to say. At that point, music became a self-help thing, a coping mechanism—because music is how I understand myself and the world.”

Life After Youth
is out May 19 on Saddle Creek. Pre-order here.

The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions

The New Pornographers are premiering the title track of their forthcoming full-length record Whiteout Conditions today.

The album is due April 7 and is the first release on the band’s own Collected Works Records imprint in partnership with Concord Records.

Of writing the new record, founder and frontman A.C. Newman notes that, “At the beginning of this record, there was some thinking that we wanted it to be like a Krautrock Fifth Dimension. Of course, our mutated idea of what Krautrock is probably doesn’t sound like Krautrock at all. But we were thinking: Let’s try and rock in a different way.”

Whiteout Conditions follows the previously-shared lead single, High Ticket Attractions, and second single This Is the World of the Theater, which featured Neko Case on lead vocals.

Whiteout Conditions is out April 7 on Collected Works Records. Pre-order here.