[TGIF] Oxygen

We all need it to breathe. Oxygen is for us, much like music. These are some of the best new releases we've heard in the last two weeks.

Photo by James Chatuburn (@jameschatburn)
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We all need it to breathe. Oxygen is for us, much like music. And as we couldn’t be happier with one of our most beloved bands returning to music (check Meadowlark below) we’ve also been more aware of posting about distinct genres and styles more than ever before. Expect, for that reason, to be surprised and to give space for new likes and new listening experiences. This is, as usual, our celebration of the weekend with some of the best new releases we’ve heard in the last two weeks.

Elephant Castle – Caught In A Twilight Zone

Retro-inspired indie-rock is what Elephant Castle was born to do. The LA-based project composed of singer and multi-instrumentalist Phil Danyew was formed in late 2019. Elephant Castle released four singles this year with enthusiastic buzz and the 4th is the very well-vibed and dynamic “Caught In A Twilight Zone“. Definitely inspired by the tracks he listened since he was 12 after stealing his father’s tape recorder charged with the 50s and 60s oldies. There is also a lot of modern inspired elements (we immediately feel some Tame Impala vibes in this) especially the ones inspired by his love for vintage synths, layered vocals, the dreamy sounds of tape saturation and analogue gear. Also, after being a member of Foster the People, Danyew is now properly charged for a proper solo project, and that feel and strength is felt in this. “Last summer, I woke up in a park not knowing where I was. The hospital diagnosed me with a concussion and retrograde amnesia. I’m not quite the same and I still don’t know what happened. This song is about the parallels between hitting my brain against the ground and living through the dumpster fire that was 2020“.

James Chatburn – Howling

On November 26th, Australia-born songwriter, vocalist and producer James Chatburn shares the new single, Howling, from his upcoming second album release. Chatburn settled in Berlin in 2015 and began carving out a niche in the world of independent music. Having first made a name for himself in the modern soul scene, he honed and matured his sound to encompass a fresh direction, embracing psychedelia and nostalgia into his songwriting and production. He has since become renowned for his soulful, heartfelt voice, world-class production talent and collaborations with Jordan Rakei, Rum.Gold, Noah Slee, Sedric Perry, Hilltop Hoods and more. Howling” was conceived when Chatburn overheard his neighbours having some audible 4 am fun after returning home from a party. Everyone has experienced this in a big city and Chatburn began to appreciate that sometimes as humans we need to completely let go of ourselves, even if someone may overhear. The track is introduced with a mellotron violin hook and a 1/4 note groove which interplays with pianos and warped textures. A sung spoken verse and impassioned chorus flow to a dream-like falsetto in the bridge.

“This aligns well for me with the entire album, it is these moments which we need to let go of ourselves in order to experience life. I wanted to produce something which everyone can get both musically and lyrically.”

Meadowlark – Oxygen

The voice belongs to Kate McGill but she’s only half of the story. While she also brings her keyboard playing and song-writing to the mix, she is equally matched by partner Dan Broadly who is a multi-instrumentalist. Together they are Meadowlark, a duo we’ve written too many times about here at WtMM since 2017 but which have been a while since they’ve released a new track.

“We started writing Nightstorm almost immediately after Postcards was released, now four years on we finally have a collection of songs that document those turbulent years that followed on from our debut album. After Kate tragically and unexpectedly lost her Mother in 2018 many plans were put on hold and we went out on what would be our final tour in early 2019 before taking an unplanned hiatus. Both of us were certain that this was it for Meadowlark, believing our joy of making music together had finally run its course and with that we gently faded away into musical silence, focussing our efforts on other musical and personal ventures. Perspective might be what saved us, having time away to reflect on what’s important and with Meadowlark gone there was a big void in our lives, a void we thought we could fill with something else, but the bond we have made in this project is too special to give up, it can’t be replaced, there’s something that happens when we’re both in a room with instruments that’s un-imitable. With that, we came back together, dusted off all the demos we’d ever written and chose a collection to call album #2. All of those demos had an unapologetic rawness to them, so rather than re-record all of the songs we simply employed the help of some trusted collaborators to add a few final touches whilst leaving the imperfections intact. So here it is, Meadowlark’s sophomore album, a diary of love, loss, grief and repair, the whole human experience wrapped that we so heavily experienced these past few years.”

Oxygen” is part of what is Meadowlark second album “Nightstorm“. And the pureness, tenderness and musicality they got us used to is still here. And we so, so welcome them again.

Micci – Illusion

It’s about being in a relationship that has blurred lines – the drum loop is a sample from massive attack“. This is how Micci explains the obvious inspiration behind the beginning and main driving melody in his latest track “Illusion“. After touring the world as a live vocalist for Peking Duk and Flight Facilities and after achieving Top 7 on X Factor Australia (as Michaela Baranov), she is now releasing her own music independently. With her upcoming album heavily inspired by the soundtrack of the movie Drive, “Illusion” is a first taste of how she can deliver some immense vocals in an 80’s synth-based melodic set while still sounding new and challenging. The references like Robyn, London Grammar and (of course) Kavinsky are quite noticeable too even though not overcharged in this. The track is produced by Chris Arnott.

Mummy Diamonds – Michael Keaton

Our favourite lyric is wearing my insecurities for a living. We’ve made some terrible decisions in our life and we’ve done things to escape into an alternate reality to be comfortable. This song is about embracing the ability to be honest with yourself and take off the masks we put on to escape the uncomfortable and if you can do that you might find yourself becoming like Michael Keaton“. This is how Mummy Diamonds describe their latest track and the one that puts them on our radar. Entitled “Michael Keaton” this is a track that mixes some gorgeous folktronica with bits of dream pop to provide a sonority that we can’t quite describe or put in a corner. The sense of originality where the track works like a breeze but at the same time grabs our attention is what made it stand out for us, and the “la la la la” that we sing along with it after a short while is just the pure representation of that. Formed and based in LA, Mummy Diamonds are James Stein and Shanna Stein and their good friend Zachary Busby.

Rhi feat. Telemachus – Out Of Water

Dead Silk II” is the second of two 3-track singles from Canadian producer, songwriter and vocalist Rhi working in collaboration with producer and innovative engineer Telemachus. A project built from mutual respect and the natural joy of working together. With a sound that is as sensual and playful as it is dark and foreboding, Rhi and Telemachus constructed a unique sound drifting in the ether between light and dark on Dead Silk I“. Rhi explains. “With each track we did, I felt driven to challenge myself and try new things and I feel like I’m now a stronger and more versatile artist because of it”. The bubbling soulful feel of “Out Of Water” (the second track from the latest EP), offset with hints of organ and upright bass, comes together to create a swirling submersion in the track. “I was reading “Hunger” by Knut Hamsun when I was writing this”, Rhi explains, “I remember almost feeling pain in my stomach as the protagonist’s suffering is described in the book, the writing is so vivid. It inspired me to write a song that visualises how depression can make you feel”. The punchline for us? The mix of minimal hip hop and lo-fi elements in the track represents originality that we can’t be indifferent to. Especially when the writing is even more meaningful.

The Moving Stills – Thruthfully

The Moving Stills are a four-piece alt-pop/rock band reigning from New South Wales’ Central Coast composed of members Tom, Mike, Brad and Ben who make tracks that shoot through the barrel of a wave and spit out the back onto a 67’ Holden Ute. Gliding through a dance floor and stumbling onto a sweaty indie mosh pit with a bit of charm, The Moving Stills want to do music that sounds novel and like nothing you’ve heard before. The mission is bold, to say the minimum. In a world where music always tries to relate with very known artists, originality seems rare nowadays. The Moving Stills actually accomplish what they say. Their latest single “Truthfully” sure sounds like a pop song infused with nostalgia but still leaves room for a lot of novelty, from the lyrics to the way the song progresses. The track features floating vocals atop a steady groove as synths shimmer and guitar riffs buzz with warmth. Mike shares, “Truthfully, is the defining moment in a new relationship where you stop playing little mind games and just get to the point. The early days are fun and exciting, but then you have to decide… ‘are we in or out?’. Opening up and being honest with each other, saying: ‘this is who I am… take me or leave me.’ You put yourself out there, and the possibility of rejection is scary. All you can do is be honest and true.” 

Vibropath – Wish

“Wish” is the name of the new single by Vibropath, the solo project of Rochester, NY, singer-songwriter Frank Marino-Moore. Described as a song that “deals with facing the reality that things are not as you thought they would be when you were young”, “Wish” is a very subtle lo-fi rock. Here, the ambience of bedroom pop meets smooth, slick Mac deMarco-esque guitars all throughout the tune, leading always to a fantastic chorus and hook that we just can’t get out of our minds. “Always thought I’d be that way/Wish I knew, wish I could stay”, we hear the soothing voice of Frank sing in the hook, and fornately for us, his “Wish” is granted: the song does stay in our memory for a good while after we hear it.