New Music Weekly #54 | Empress Of, Sampha and Daithí
New Music Weekly is your one-stop shop for new releases in the world of music each and every week. From the best of the best to some of the rest, Mark Conroy is here to give you the low down on what you might have missed. This week: Empress Of, Sampha, Daithí and more…
Longwave ‘Stay With Me’
Longwave may have been one of the most undeservedly marginalised acts that emerged in the early 2000’s during New York’s indie resurgence. Their fuzzy, shoegaze rock-pop perhaps wasn’t what the period was craving but in retrospect it has separated them from the pack. ‘Stay With Me’, the band’s first new track in ten years, sounds like they picked it up right where they left off. Like a decent, late period U2 effort with a hint of foreboding, the single charges forward with menacing zeal. The electronic sounding warbles that populate the runtime ensure the song just about veers left of generic territory. But really, this is returning to an old, familiar slipper that still fits. There’s a self-awareness to the line that we here first during the first lift: “Here it comes around again/ that old feeling” he croons triumphantly. He’s just happy to be here.
HEALTH and Pertrubator ‘Body/Prison’
HEALTH are on one of the few acts who never have to change tact while their music still pays dividends as the years go by. Their abrasive, industrial rock buries it’s melody beneath the sinister dirge but’s it’s the shock to the system whenever you need it. ‘Body/Prison’ isn’t much different but the inclusion of dark synthase artist Pertrubator affords the track with a bit of up-tempo vitality.
Soul/R&B artist Sampha’s last record, Process, was one of the most sumptuous listens of 2017. Now he’s making the most of its success and veering into soundtrack work for the first time. ‘Treasure’ will feature in the upcoming downbeat document of addiction and Timomthee Chalamet vehicle Beautiful Boy. Rhythmic, trance like key strokes of the piano marry with Sampha’s delicate yet purposeful vocals to create an emotional call to arms. The hair-raising melancholy here is the perfect musical accompaniment to the father son story about an estrangement in desperate need of rectifying.
The recent slate of singles for Clare born producer Daithí’s upcoming album have provided us with some of the best Irish tracks of 2018. Both ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ and ‘In my Darkest moments’ are stunning slices of moody, electronic pop. Now he’s given another satisfying taster of what’s to come. ‘Orange’, featuring the vocals of frequent collaborator Sinead White, is emotive bop that simmers with a bittersweet charge. White’s voice, dulcet and earnest, is almost at pains to remind whoever she’s talking to that it’s gone on long enough.
The veteran R&B and neo-soul act finally looks like he is about to finish his Blacksummernight project, an ambitious trilogy of records that we he started 9 years and only got round to releasing the middle effort in 2016. His new single, “Shame” looks sure to be on the final blacksummers’NIGHT LP set to drop next year. The track is a more straightforward dose of sleek, synth-pop than we might expect from an artist so used to melding genres in his music. Still, ‘Shame’ is dripping with stylised atmosphere and an armed with a groove as stimulating as it is intoxicating. At 45, Maxwell’s forceful falsetto still commands when it wants to.
Empress of ‘Timberlands’
Lorely Rodriguez released her second album under the Empress Of moniker this past week. ‘Us’ is the follow-up to 2015’s already rather good ‘Me’ and it’s chock full of freeing, feather light pop. Fans of her debut might not be best pleased but It’s a breezy head in the clouds distraction from the disquieting events below. Of the new tracks, ‘Timberlands’ makes the most immediate impression. The playful, yazoo like synth pricks are the foundation but Rodriguez’ droning elongated note on the central hook offers a hair raising jolt of longing.
Julia Holter ‘Words I Heard’
Master of Experimental pop composition, Julia Holter will release her upcoming album Aviary at the end of this month. We already heard the exquisite, bombastic ‘I Shall love 2’ but it’s follow up single, ‘Words I Heard’ practically cements the fact that we are soon getting one of the stunningly produced records of the year. Holter’s trademark, hovering howl dives deep into a sea of ambient orchestration and it all comes out sounding like a clear morning after a rainy night.