Braids - Juniper Bush - Lavinia Blackwall - Forces - Mardi Lumsden - Kluster B

Braids have just shared a video for 'Snow Angel'. Last November we said of Braids "the indie art rock band manage to achieve everything that genre bundle suggest, doing so fabulously" this new song proves that was no one off event. === Juniper Bush have released a video for 'Turn' where the Winnipeg band deliver a mixture of restrained shoegaze and psych rock with melodic grooves. === Lavinia Blackwall shares 'John's Gone' ahead of her debut album due in May, the song is a vibrant, catchy modern folk song. === Duo Forces have been around for twenty years and 'Say It Now' demonstrates how well their musicianship and song writing has developed, with this energised pop/rock track. === Mardi Lumsden has a brand new album out entitled 'Hiatus' and it's a gorgeous collection of songs from this very talented Brisbane, Australia folk artist. === This is the third song we have had the pleasure of featuring this year from Kluster B  and with 'Graveyard' the bands ability to mix genres and styles in just one song is both fabulous and notable.

Braids - Snow Angel.

Montreal-based indie trio Braids have announced their decision to push the release of their new album Shadow Offering to June 19th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, however, they will continue to release new songs in the coming weeks. Today, they shared their new video for single "Snow Angel," a powerful opus that features singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston's most visceral performance to date as she leans passionately into her anger, diving deeper into frustrations and anxieties about her internal and external worlds.

Of the track, Braids said: "'Snow Angel' was written in the immediate wake of the 2016 US election, as our collective conscience took a sharp inhale. It's a diary entry of sorts - a snapshot of the mind grappling with our era's endless barrage of content and destruction, continents away and close to home. *This* moment, with our world in the midst of a pandemic, is admittedly a new context. But I can't help but sense the song speaks to feelings many of us are experiencing - uncertainty, angst, and a desperate desire to make sense of it all.

"For me, it was deeply therapeutic to write and sing this song; saying things out loud can help us to not feel so alone, can help validate our natural fears about the future of our world, and can bring to light some of the hard questions that many of us are asking ourselves. I believe that art can change our relationship to fear. We hope this song can offer you a moment of catharsis and relief, in the same way writing and performing it has for us."

"Snow Angel" first debuted on The FADER who stated "Producer Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) lets the band breathe throughout the epic track, letting the energy ebb and flow as Raphaelle Standell-Preston switches her vocals between singing and spoken-word. The whole thing builds to a frantic final third in which the chaos and confusion is palpable."

Releasing through Secret City Records, Shadow Offering finds the band at their most personal, unabashedly flexing a new sense of confidence through songs that reach a higher level of artistry and collaboration. A luscious and expansive release, it leads us through a sonic tapestry of narrative. With heartbreaking honesty and precision, listeners traverse a nuanced and complicated world: one full of beautiful contradiction. Although the album directs itself at the failures of people to love and be loved, it also seeks to restore justice and attain blissful union. It's arc crests through the dark towards the light and learns how to dance with the dizzying rhythms of the heart. The songs bubble, sustain, dissolve, expand, and retract.


Juniper Bush - Turn.

In their latest video for “Turn,” Winnipeg psych-rock/shoegaze four-piece Juniper Bush explore the fantasy of unrequited love through a dance. The tune appears on the band’s debut full-length record, Healing Through A Sonic Figure, which arrives next week on April 3 via Transistor 66. Reverb-smeared chords and Lizzy Burt’s angelic vocals evoke the emptiness of floating adrift through space, and the impending sorrow of a lust disguised as love.

As Burt explains, “The song’s lyrics express the fantasy of a better life with the object of one’s affection, the inner turmoil and intensity of a one-sided romance, and how patterns repeat despite life’s lessons.” In the video, a wedding dress is used to represent outgrown notions of love and tradition. As the video progresses, a figure dances with a plastic bag, while a chair remains distanced from the figure. The chair is used to represent inner wisdom and truth, and the space between fantasy and reality.

“It’s sort of a dance of self-deception and struggle to maintain a sense of self,” says Burt, who appears in and directs the video. “I appear curled up naked in the chair for a mere moment near the end of the video to signify growth and a new sense of truth and awareness from the experience.”

Comprised of Lizzy Burt (Basic Nature), Adrian Schroeder (Black Cloud), and Danny Hacking and Kyle Loewen (Holy Void and Surprise Party), Juniper Bush has been called a Winnipeg supergroup, merging the snarling psychedelia of The Black Angels, penetrative shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine (circa 1988), and the otherworldly alt-rock of The Cranberries into a concoction that’s both abrasive and sweet. Juniper Bush's upcoming Western Canadian tour is now cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. The band will announce rescheduled dates in the coming months.


Lavinia Blackwall - John's Gone.

Lavinia Blackwall is already a well-known name in many circles. Her work with prolific Glaswegian psych-folk outfit Trembling Bells having earnt her a reputation as one of the best voices in the scene, many critics having likened her singing prowess to that of Sandy Denny. Along with Trembling Bells she has released seven full-length albums and performed as the backing band to folk legends Bonnie Prince Billy and The Incredible String Band’s Mike Herron. Now she is striking out on her own with the release of her debut solo album Muggington Lane End which is out on May 1st.

Recorded live, the album is a mixture of wistful longing, joyful exuberance, wheeling psychedelia and classic songwriting. Listening to it, you wouldn’t believe that many of the vocals on the record were recorded in one take, though that’s the kind of faultless performance the classically trained soprano has become known for. Muggington Lane End began its journey back in 2018, with two tracks (Waiting For Tomorrow and All Seems Better) being recorded with former bandmates Mike Hastings and Simon Shaw. “They were in a previous incarnation of what I thought my solo project would be, called 'Orion's Belt'” explains Blackwall, however when she got together with partner and collaborator Marco Rea the project started to shift. “I realised I could get a fresh band together, seeing as Mike and Simon were very busy with their own projects”.  Working with a new group of people breathed life into the project and the ‘Orion’s Belt’ moniker was ditched in favour of Lavinia Blackwall, perhaps an indicator that this would become the singer and multi-instrumentalist’s most personal work yet. “I don't think I've ever worked with a group so committed to working on arrangements, timings and feel. I just love it,” she says. “Marco is a fantastic producer, who pushes me to see things through, consider ideas I'd never have thought about and also just gets what I'm trying to do. We work so easily together”. A sentiment that translates audibly on record.

Lead single ‘John’s Gone’ harks back to 60’s style songwriting, telling the tale of an oddball named John in a style reminiscent of Beatle’s classic ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’. Lavinia’s storytelling skills are artfully showcased throughout the record, Muggington Lane End’s most common thread being the notion of dreaming and escapism.

Muggington Lane End may still incorporate elements of Lavinia’s work with Trembling Bells however it also feels like a step towards a more authentic voice from the singer, singing songs from her own perspective. “I love every song, performance and recording and am so proud of the work everyone has put into making it,” she says, and that love really shines through.


Forces - Say It Now.

Hi, we’re Forces. I’m Jess and this [motions to the right] is Dave. Dave and Jess, Jess and Dave. It’s been that way for over 20 years. A time long enough that the lines between life, music and love have become beautifully blurred. We wouldn’t have it any other way. The name ‘Forces’ implies a literal “joining of forces” between Dave and I, each contributing our power into doing the thing we love to do most: making music, together.  But, it’s also rooted in our love of joining forces with our musical community, and our passion for creating experiences for our friends to play and perform together.

Forces became a thing in 2017 after we closed the book on a whirlwind decade of recording and touring with our former band, The Golden Dogs.  That trip took us all over the world and we had the privilege to support great artists; biggies like Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and even the late great Roky Erickson (twice!).  One thing that still astounds us is the number of amazingly talented people who grew through our band who continue to do great things and are still our dearest friends: members of Zeus, Taylor Knox, Wax Atlantic, and Brave Shores, to name a few.  All of these musicians, including Dave and I, cut their rock teeth in the Golden Dogs.

When the band ended, we started exploring in the studio making what we thought would be the next GD record, but deep down we knew that it wasn’t.  What we were making was dancier. It was groovier. We were growing new skin, wearing new hats, trying on ideas of all different sizes. It seems fitting the song that inspired us into a new artistic direction is a song about inspiration itself. ‘Step in a Sway’—our second single, but the first we recorded—felt to us like a true departure both in style and attitude. It was our foray into layering tracks with metronomic, percussive loops, as opposed to the traditional power-pop approach of recording we were used to, a bed-track with drums, bass & guitar.

In the studio, we were inspired by different production styles—the big beat and hypnotic grooves of Liquid Liquid and ESG, the thin guitar and funky bass of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the alt pop of Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, New Order’s approach to dance pop, and the layered hooks of the Cure. Forces is us embracing pure pop, and it feels right.  Our rule is, if a song makes us want to get up and dance, then we’re on the right track.


Mardi Lumsden - Hiatus (Album).

Longstanding Brisbane folk artist Mardi Lumsden has today released her debut album Hiatus, a collection of dreamy folk songs filled with heart, soul and commentary on human nature.

The next step in an already long and illustrious career, Hiatus is an eleven-track delight showcasing Mardi's signature ability to weave heartfelt stories together using banjos, keyboards and electronic drums to create a unique genre of dream folk -  a fusion of the ethereal atmospheres and textures creating a mixture of dream pop with acoustic-based folk.  Recorded and produced by her husband Andrew Pennay in their converted church-turned home studio, tracks such as 'Juniper Trees', 'Someday' and 'Treasure Like This' are delicate, warm and truly uplifting.

The album's release is punctuated by the focus track 'Fiore', written under the inspiration of an Italian summer and the beauty of letting go of relationships. "It's about releasing your expectations and accepting that endings also mean new beginnings," Mardi explains. Her most recent single, 'Heading Home,' also featured on Double J's Tower of Song with Henry Wagons.

Previous success for Mardi Lumsden has included songs from her EP Wherever you go, there you are being featured on Australian TV shows such as Channel 7's Winners and Losers, ABC's Dance Academy and ABC's Time of Our Lives. Also recorded in a church-turned-recording studio (ARIA-winning producer Magoo's Applewood Studios), 'Classified' from the EP received the Q Song Award in the Folk/Ballad category and was nominated for Song of The Year as well as an Australian Songwriting Association award.


Kluster B - Graveyard.

Kluster B (fka Kluster) are putting out their second album, b, on April 17th. A lot has happened in all the five members lives since the first album, civic (2018). The band was very shattered during the period that the music was written, being far apart from each other both geographically and emotionally, which resulted in turns within the music none of the members could have foreseen. A band crisis emerged, a crisis that was processed in the studio during the recording week, something that has left its clear marks on the record. In the end, the recording of b was an enriching experience for the band, coming out stronger than ever on the other side, with a new name and a new record. There was now nothing left to lose.

The band was founded by four friends and a virtual drummer in Malmö 2014, a real life drummer joined in shortly afterwards and the gang was complete. Since then, the quintet has been active on as well the Malmö indie scene as playing shows in Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, supporting acts such as Frankie Cosmos, Omni and Nicole Sabouné. Debut album 'civic' was released in 2018 and Kluster received praise from Line of Best Fit, BBC Radio 6, major Swedish music magazines and more.

The band returned earlier this year with new singles 'Counterpart' and 'Love Must Conquer', two tracks taken from their upcoming sophomore album that will be released on April 17th via Rama Lama Records. Today, another piece of the puzzle that is Kluster B's second album is released in the form of new single 'Graveyard''.

Graveyard is yet another glimpse of Kluster's playful sound - a melting pot of broad influences such as pop, punk, noise, lo-fi, indie and jazz. Just like its precursors, Graveyard is a development of the sound we got to know on their first album. The interplay and paradox between the complex and simple is still there but the quintet have this time allowed themselves more time and space to experiment with almost jamming parts that creates a larger soundscape hypnotizing the listener.