International Women’s Day: Girl Power #2

words by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

Today is March 8th and if you haven’t been on any social media (which you will have, how else did you find this) then you’ll be unaware to the fact that today is International Women’s Day, an event where women of all identities all over the world go to great lengths to empower one another. It’s undoubtedly an important day and I couldn’t let it go by without doing something about to celebrate its significance which is what resulted in this short but hopefully interesting list of some female identifying acts that deserve your attention if they haven’t already got it.

From successful solo acts to women-fronted bands, there are no exceptions to who gets included and if you’re wondering “hey where’s ARTIST X” you may want to check out the last edition of this series which includes Grimes and Courtney Barnett. Without further ado, here’s just a tiny portion of the ripe female talent available…

Kero Kero Bonito

If you’ve gone this far in your life without listening to Kero Kero Bonito then a) where the hell are you finding your source of happiness and b) please give us some. Back on track, KKB are a London act and while Gus and Jamie were the OG duo, their decision to incorporate Sarah Midori Perry into the act was not only a genius move but one that has pretty much defined the peppy pop outfit. The production on every KKB release is stunning but it’s in Sarah’s lyricism and bilingual spoken word delivery where the band’s heaps of positivity is generated – the optimistic attitude she wears on pretty much every track is an absolute joy to behold and in such a grim political climate, she as well as the rest of KKB are the ray of happiness we all need.

Leor Miller

Brought to our attention via GoldFlakePaint’s comprehensive rundown on essential album by transgender artists, Leor Miller is the complete opposite of the description just given to KKB. Raw, emotional, borderline gothic, her work relishes in its lo-fi, bedroom aesthetic that further exemplifies the transparency of her work though, fascinatingly enough, Leor doesn’t pigeonhole herself and has expressed personal woes and experiences in various ways: gender dysphoria memes features some of her poppiest moments especially on tracks like discover myself while xtra strength is the project where Leor feels her most vulnerable in what can only be described as an emo release with moments of pop influence. As one user reviewer put it, “this girl is going places” and boy, they’re not fucking wrong.

Soccer Mommy

Grinding away over the last few years on some solid Bandcamp projects, you better get used to seeing the name Soccer Mommy because, with the release of her debut album Clean, you’re gonna see it a lot and for the right reasons. With the impressive knack of describing complex feeling and scenarios in a simplistic, charming way, Sophie Allison has cemented herself amongst the ranks of other formidable singer-songwriters like Julien Baker. The sonic landscapes Soccer Mommy weaves her sombre stories on are minimalistic but they always spice themselves up, whether it be hometown southern tinges, harking back to lo-fi roots with clipping effects or splicing tracks with raw demos. With her potential fully realised, it’ll be intriguing to see what the future has in store for Soccer Mommy but regardless, you’ll want to be part of the journey. 

Ravyn Lenae

At the young age of 19, R&B artist Ravyn Lenae‘s list of accomplishments will make you feel a bit envious: dropping her debut EP in 2015, Lenae has gone on to support some big names in the scene, most notably SZA during her telefone tour, and is now set to blow up in popularity after the release of her Crush EP early last month. Backed up by some gorgeous production from Steve Lacey, Lenae makes it all about her with ease in no small part due to her impressive vocals that are utterly enthrall in nature. If you’re unsure of where to start then you can’t go wrong with Computer Luv, where Lenae‘s harmonies and her blunt approach to internet romance are undeniably admirable. Whether you listen to her or not, get ready to see Lenae‘s name everywhere over the next few years.

Best Tracks Of The Week (8th-14th Jan)

Contributions from Sean Hannah(@shun_handsome), Will Sexton (@willshesleeps), Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc) Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Shame – The Lick

Despite making repeated appearances on the band’s setlists, The Lick serves as the embodiment of this band’s ability to send a message with attitude and authority.

Appearing on their wittingly titled debut Songs of Praise, Shame don’t so much take shots at the current state of British lad rock as much as they spray their entire catalog of reserve but rage tinged lyrics at the unnamed culprits – along with a colossal hook that most bands would give their right arm to be able to pull off, The Lick serves as a highlight to what is sure to be an underrated gem of a record in 2018.

Woes – Real World

On the back of a huge 2017, Woes are ready to throw everything at 2018. Catchy chorus and huge riffs, Real World is a modern pop-punk classic. It shows what Woes can do, and how serious about the genre the boys are.

Car Seat Headrest – Nervous Young Inhumans

Dissatisfied with his 2011 lo-fi masterpiece Twin Fantasy, Will Toledo sought to update his internet-famous juvenilia after signing with Matador Records in 2015. This week saw the release of a reworked Nervous Young Inhumans, in which CSH retrofit the track’s muffled din into a hi-fi dance-punk mini-crisis.

Touching on Toledo’s formerly maladroit cursive, a tryst in the uncanny valley, and the great axiom “Art gets what it wants and gets what it deserves,” the updated Inhumans finds new verve in an old fan favorite.

Lil Peep & Marshmello – Spotlight

Released posthumously, Lil Peep and Marshmello recorded a song before his tragic passing. Two fast up and coming artists sound incredibly bittersweet on this track and it’s a reminder that Lil Peep was someone to watch. It’s excellent that it was released as it serves as a solid reminder of how Lil Peep was progressing. RIP Lil Peep.

David Byrne – Everybody’s Coming To My House

Co-written with long-time collaborator Brian Eno as well as features from the likes of Sampha, the first cut off Talking Heads frontman David Byrne‘s upcoming solo LP is enough to have you drooling at the mouth: with a seductive saxophone acting as the foundations for his vocals to bounce and pounce around, Everybody’s Coming to My House is a tasty sample of what’s to come.

Soccer Mommy – Your Dog

After a delightful LP last year, American singer-songwriter soccer mommy stays true to her “chill but kinda sad” mantra with new single Your Dog. Appearing on new album Clean, this track is anything but with some warped guitars leading the song alongside some disdain heavy lyrics from Sophie herself. We were left optimistic about her future after Collection and if this single is any indication, Clean will be another solid effort from the up and comer.

Album Review: Soccer Mommy – Collection

By Callum Thornhill (@Cal_Thornhill)

It is easy and somewhat lazy to associate lo-fi with mainstream success stories Mac DeMarco or Car Seat Headrest, but it is Bandcamp where the real hidden gems linger and ripen until picked like prize fruit. The latest of those to release a full length (eight tracks of blissful bedroom pop infused lo-fi vibes) is Soccer Mommy.

Following on from 2016’s For Young Hearts comes Collection; a selection of elegant, fuzz laden tracks freshly pulled from the wordsmith Sophie Allison that dabble in whispery harmonies flowing over subdued instrumentation. That is not to say that Collection is an overly emotive, depressive accumulation of even more Bandcamp finds to listen to on a downbeat, overcast day, though – quite the opposite. The skill set acquired by Allison is showcased on the album in crevices so acute that it takes you until the final track, Waiting For Cars, to realise the development and progression that has just occurred before your eyes and ears.

There are seamless and gentle transitions between tracks throughout, which given the eclectic mix of traditional and new wave lo-fi vibes merging is quite the feat. Take 3am at a Party, for example; connotations with that title would assume that it is a boisterous, carnival-esque atmosphere, but Soccer Mommy have juxtaposed this and crafted a two and a half minute reflective, short but sweet, track that could quite easily soundtrack a motion picture showing the motion picture of the night before. Hindsight visuals could be represented alongside the delicate audio and this is what makes their sophomore full length so brilliant.

With the likes of Elvis Depressedly and Salvia Palth setting the bar in recent years for the lesser known, not as mainstream as DeMarco lo-fi scene it takes an outstanding record to put yourself in that category, but what we have here is something that has stuck to what it knows and not tried to reinvent the wheel or head so off-piste that the core of Soccer Mommy is diluted and replaced with something that does not reflect their style. Benadryl Dreams is the only song featured on the album that comes anywhere close to high profiler Mac DeMarco’s recent releases and it is quite refreshing to hear someone follow up and album without going for the spangly, jizz-jazz approach.

Musically, it is all pretty expected, to be honest. Muffled drums in the background while weaving hooks connect verse to chorus to bridge – not a bad thing, of course. There are, without a doubt, thousands of other Bandcamp artists that could have put this record out and if you are not familiar with traits or signature marks from them it would be near impossible to see any differences. Lo-fi is brilliant for that, though, it forces bands to make a name for themselves and inject their music with quirks and notable features.

Image result for soccer mommy

With this attempt at ‘making it’ in the scene, Soccer Mommy have opted for frequent stabbing synthesisers and intriguing, mopey vocals coming together in perfect harmony as their ‘mark,’ so to say. Death by Chocolate is the ever-questioning synth laced ballad delicately gluing harmonies to tale-telling lyrics with glistening hooks. Similarly to Waiting For Cars, Death by Chocolate comes to its end after four minutes and it is then that the arrangement sticks with you in an irritating “oh, God! What is THAT song?!”

Overall, for a sophomore record and one that could easily have been overlooked if Sophie Allison hadn’t created an audience over the past handful of years on Bandcamp; it is like any other lo-fi record. Mostly predictable and as mentioned, not reinventing the wheel, there are moments where you go “ooooh” to make Collection well worth a listen.