Linda Em - School Damage - Quiet Hollers

Linda Em - Wild Fire.

Background - London-based Irish-born songstress Linda Em has announced her new ‘London Irish’ EP, to be released this fall via Talking Elephant Records. Ahead of that, ‘Wild Fire’ is the first single from this release – a sultry song that is as much of an earworm as it is seductive.

This EP is the first step in a different direction for Linda, towards a more atmospheric and spacious sound and vocal performance. It is both poetic and storytelling while still being brutally honest and personal. Her pure and raw vocals beautifully convey a nostalgic lyrical narrative, her warm endearing vocals drawing the listener into her musical story telling.

The ‘London Irish’ EP was recorded, produced and mastered at Orphan Recording, Dublin by Gavin Glass (Paul Brady, John Grant, Lisa Hannigan, Mundy), who is also music director for John Carney's film ‘Sing Street’). It was mixed by Scott Halliday (John Grant, Lisa Hannigan and previously guitar tech for Prince and James Vincent Mcmorrow). 

‘Wild Fire’ is about the power struggle in a relationship built on control and passion, where there can be no victor. Written by Linda Em and Eamon P. Gilmore, on this track, Em shares vocal duties with Gavin Glass.

“This is definitely more of love story or indeed a power battle. If you watch Game of Thrones, for instance, you'll see that Wild Fire was one of their deadly weapons of choice. The fear of wild fire is indeed a fantastic metaphor for human passion and love and energy that could not be controlled or tamed," says Linda Em. "The song is also an expression of a woman's desire for freedom and the sadness that comes when two lovers simply aren't right for each other. Even if they have this intense love, we realise as we get older, that love alone just isn’t enough." WEBSITE.

We have to go back to February 2016 for our previous Linda Em feature where among other things we commented at the time that her music "strides across genres, it's a melting pot of ideas, held in harmony by the clear commitment to deliver a top class piece". So now we have 'Wild Fire' which opens with a softer folk lilt and Linda Em's beguiling vocals. As the musical backdrop adds a couple of layers, Gavin Glass's duel vocals take the piece even further, the first of four on the new EP, this really is something special.


School Damage - Assimilate.

Background - A To X is the second album by Melbourne anxiety-pop quartet School Damage. The new album (due out on 31 August via Chapter Music) focuses their simultaneously sharp and wobbly DIY pop aesthetic, taking in the wooziness of Young Marble Giants, the bite of Devo and the busy melodies of the Television Personalities.

Carolyn Hawkins from the band explains further about the song: "'Assimilate' came out of a sense of frustration at being a girl that does music stuff, and not knowing where I stood on the whole issue – like join the crowd or oppose it? The feeling of being part of a scene, but kind of not feeling a part of it as well. And then whether to argue against it, or just try to do your best within it, and then this feeling that I am part of the problem too. I didn’t know how to approach it, I still don’t. But also it’s okay to be confused too and to not know all the time."

A To X comes hot on the heels of School Damage’s instantly loveable self-titled debut from 2017, which earned the band raves from Brooklyn Vegan, Noisey and BBC 6Music among others. About the new album, Carolyn says: “A To X is about trying (and failing) to find patterns in the overwhelming jumble of activities involved in being alive. We were going to call it In Alphabetical Order but I guess we never quite made it to Z!” FACEBOOK.

As genres go anxiety pop is a perfect fit for 'Assimilate'. Hopefully School Damage are in a better place themselves, nonetheless the mixture of potent pop hooks and edginess gives this song some vitality and surprisingly a level of charm as well. 


Quiet Hollers - Addicted.

Background - “Addicted”, is the first new single that Louisville’s Quiet Hollers since the release of their acclaimed sophomore album Amen Breaks that came out last summer, and which tackled important socio-political issues and helped shine a light on the effects of mental illness. In a similar vein, “Addicted” is a powerful single about opiate addiction, broadly. Which, given the current epidemic facing society, is timely and relevant.

Quiet Hollers' frontman Shadwick Wilde didn’t intend for it to be a “drug song” necessarily, though its inception came at a time when his family was struggling with the loss of his mother’s brother, who died of a fentanyl overdose. Wilde himself has struggled with addiction since adolescence. Fortunately, he’s always stayed away from heroin, but we’re in the middle of an epidemic and just about everyone has lost someone to it, so he felt it was important to acknowledge how deeply vulnerable we all are to these things, and how serious that problem really is. Not just of the problem of addiction, but of this world we’ve created and why it can be so hard to live in.

The band is still touring in support of Amen Breaks, that spawned several stand-out singles including “Pressure” (which yielded one of the better music videos of 2017, especially if you’re a wrestling fan!) and “Medicine” (Spotify), an undeniable song about about panic disorder, depression and medication. Each of the songs on the album examine core themes that drew parallels with the cultural crossovers of the 1970's, a decade marred by division, political corruption, and terrorism… issues we can all relate to these days. Expanding their shape-shifting palate to include vintage drum machines and samples, on Amen Breaks, Quiet Hollers raise questions of spirituality, sexuality, and mental illness to its new audience in tones that range from the cinematic to the psychedelic. WEBSITE.

We had the pleasure to feature Quiet Hollers three times last year and the new song 'Addicted' is equally pleasing to share. The bands mature alt rock sensibilities are ever present, as is the genuine commitment to what is, a very critical and sadly widespread problem. Sometimes passion and emotional concern are part of the solution, even when delivered through music, as that can often reach our hearts.