If you stream one thing from the world of new music this week, make it ATO’s new signing Margaret Glaspy, says NME’s Matt Wilkinson
I caught Margaret Glaspy right at the tail-end of SXSW a few weeks ago. She was sharing a bill with the great Kevin Morby, and the two of them seemed to sit perfectly side-by-side each other, musically speaking. Glaspy is a brilliant new American guitarist and singer, with rootsy and raw being her two greatest traits. I think her voice is something else entirely – that guttural scream, when she reaches it, is awe-inspiring. She’s got an album called ‘Emotions and Math’ out on June 17 via ATO Records, and she plays her debut London show on August 23 at Moth Club, two days after an appearance at Green Man festival.
Past streams of the week:
Palehound – Dry Food
By Tom Warden
Boston’s Ellen Kempner is part of a clique of eclectic new North American bedroom songwriters who make their break on the other side of the Atlantic, before eagle-eyed indies over here pick them up. Heavenly just put out the UK release ‘Dry Food’, by Kempner’s band Palehound, and it’s an intriguing, invigorating listen. We’ve got a sampler to stream below (including a cover of Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Miss Independent’), with tracks veering from scatty post-punk cacophony (‘Molly’) to sad-eyed acoustic folk (‘Dry Food’).
Speaking about the album, 21-year-old Kempner told me: “This album was my attempt at conquering insecurities about simultaneously being a musician and growing out of childhood. I played the majority of the instruments and was as vulnerable in my lyrics as I wanted to be, which allowed me to take a control over my product in a way I never had before but had always wanted to.”
Kedr Livanskiy – January Sun
By Matt Wilkinson
Kedr Livanskiy’s January Sun EP is amazing from start to finish, an ambitious and dreamy record which sounds both uplifting and eerie all at once. It feels like a lo-fi Crystal Castles or Dean Blunt project in a way, like it exists primarily to subvert and skirt around the mainstream. She’s a genuinely exciting talent who’s music reminds me a little bit of Grimes when she first came out – certainly in her eclecticism – and is part of Moscow’s John’s Kingdom collective. Check out this amazing biog she wrote us to find out more about her life in Moscow:
“Of course the big problem was perpetual drunkenness – people would drink themselves to death. I was born on October 4, 1990. It was a very interesting, but critical time for Russia, a time of great change. The Soviet Union was no more, and old values were anathematized because of reconstruction.
Sign up for the newsletter
“Since I was 12 I lived permanently in Moscow and started having big problems with parents and classmates. This was when my friends and I tasted vodka for the first time. No one seemed to understand me in this world (I thought), so I read Washington Irving novels and listened to The Cure.
“I felt a real need to find myself so I entered the directing department of the Moscow school of New Cinema. I learnt more than just information at the school – I was taught to really see the world. At the same time electronic music fascinated me completely, it was the same depth that I was looking for.
“Around the same time, a small circle of friends formed around a mutual interest in music, with whom we always went to concerts of mostly international artists: Inga Copeland, DJ Spin and DJ Rashad, Legowelt, Death Grips, Florian Kupfer, Dean Blunt etc.
“It was not long until we organised the community and DIY record label known as John’s Kingdom. No one else was doing anything that fit our aesthetic or ideals so we started throwing our own parties. There were only around 30 people at the first party and after only a year we were already attracting 500 people. It’s not only about music; it’s also a channel for art, videos and lifestyle. The community continues to expand and grow. Now it is the most alive and honest thing in Moscow.
“Things didn’t pan out for me with big cinema, however I continued my love of films via music videos. The summer of 2013 was a critical moment in my life – the time I wrote my first track. I have been writing songs without stopping since then.
“My music is strongly inspired by Autechre, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, but also Mazzy Star. I admire contemporaries Inga Copeland and Laurel Halo, however my songs are more pop-leaning than theirs because of the powerful influence MTV had on my adolescence.
“The sinister synths in Sgoraet (English: Burning Down) are inspired by the otherworldliness of Russian winter; Russia in winter is a terrible thing, but it also has a strange romantic presence to it. The drum and bass coda emulates the feeling of impending death and transition to another state when winter is over one’s shoulder. Razrushitelniy Krug’s (English: Cyclic Destruction) mood is a little lighter, but it is about self-reflection becoming self-destructive in a vicious cycle.
“It’s not all doom and gloom; April is almost tropical in its celebration of the arrival of spring. It’s for exploring the Russian countryside after the sun has unlocked the trees, debris and dilapidated buildings frozen in time.”
Alluri – Man Of Truth
By Ashley Raphael
Redd Alluri’s tale is a fascinating one. He never heard any western music when growing up in Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana state in Southern India, instead being force-fed endless Tollywood – a regional version of Bollywood. His moment of enlightenment came, finally, when his older brother returned home after finishing university, bringing the classic rock of Guns’N’Roses with him.
This was the path that led Alluri to, randomly, Ricky Gervais’ XFM podcasts. From there he was off: introduced to the wonders of The Smiths, Nick Cave, Joy Division and The Cure, and eventually making the leap to the UK, where he’s now based.
‘Man Of Truth’ was recorded in Brighton and sounds a lot like the brighter moments of late 1990s Britpop. Key track ‘All The Women’ has a brilliantly caustic lyric about, seemingly, the politics back home, and sounds both fiery and vital. ‘It’s With You’, meanwhile, is underpinned by a neat Kinks-influenced riff.
AJ Tracey – Alex Moran EP
By David Renshaw
Named after the quarterback in little-known US TV series Blue Mountain State, the Alex Moran EP is AJ Tracey’s most confident statement to date. The Ladbroke Grove grime MC has included heavy-hitting ‘Spirit Bomb’ and similarly direct, Narcos-referencing ‘Naila’ alongside lighter and free moments like ‘Bare Girls’. The latter features and was produced by the also soaring Jammz and shows further evidence of Tracey’s ability to switch up his style with ease. He’s yet to settle into one stylistic lane so this EP is a snapshot of a confident artist trying whatever he fancies, and more often than not, nailing it.
Having established himself on ‘The Font’ EP earlier this year and countless radio appearances across stations like Radar, Rinse and NTS, this latest effort is Tracey standing up to be counted among his peers in the grime scene. Explaining the Alex Moran title to Pigeons And Planes recently, Tracey drew obvious parallels between himself and the fictional footballer: “He started off the series as a nobody and a hopeful, and goes about things kinda blasé,” he said. “As he gets older he climbs the ranks, becomes the QB and star of his college American football team and establishes himself.”
It might have taken a while to arrive (Tracey admits he works slowly) but on this form, it was worth the wait.