Bright Sparks is our attempt at rebranding our Best of the Rest series. In case you missed it, here’s our description of that series, “One of the best/worst things about the whole blogging game is the abundance of great music. Unfortunately there are (still!) only twenty-four hours in a day, most of which are consumed with non-WTD things, so even if we get sent ten great albums then chances are we will only be able to cover three or four. While trying to avoid falling into the listicle trap, we thought the best way to remedy this problem would be a semi-regular round-up”.

A new volume will be posted every few weeks and will offer a collection of really great songs that we’re determined not to let slip past our radar.

Sleep Movies – ‘Paper Hat’

Skyler Brimmierer from Pittsburgh, PA records invitingly hazy pop as Sleep Movies. If you like your vocals distorted and your instrumentation something akin to fog-like sedation, then his latest release, EDG will be right up your alley. ‘Paper Hat’ is one such example, playing like a tropical scene projected onto your bedroom ceiling as your sink down into the sheets and imagine the sun’s rays.

EDG is out now via Crafted Sounds on a pay-what-you-want basis, though unfortunately the cassettes have sold out.

Katie Von Schleicher – ‘Paranoia’

The beady-eyed (or eared) amongst you will recognise the voice of Katie Von Schleicher from our recent post on Wilder Maker, though the Brooklynite has a burgeoning solo career. The lead single from Shitty Hits, her debut album out later this summer, ‘Paranoia’ is a lush, woozy song straight out of some earlier, grander time. However, beneath the decadent production and sweet country-pop vibe lies a strange neurotic edge, as though the expansive sound is compensating for something, or else signalling the begin of a weird spiral somewhere altogether darker.

Shitty Hits is set for release on the 28th July via Ba Da Bing and Full Time Hobby (UK/EU), and you can pre-order it now from Bandcamp.

Pip Hall – James

We first wrote about Pip Hall back in November, praising her style of rich pop with added synths. March saw the release of her debut EP, James, building on the above formula to craft a haunting, atmospheric sound that also ticks all the boxes of a potential mainstream radio favourite. The title track displays this perfectly, the subtle synths and half-paced clatter of drums supporting Hall’s vocals as they wax and wane with great emotion.

James is out now on My Little Empire and you can grab it from Bandcamp.

Bradford Loomis – Bravery and the Bell

Washington’s Bradford Loomis creates evocative, earnest music concerned with the classic folk themes―love, death, memories―essentially digging down into what it means to be human. Written in the aftermath of his father’s Early Onset Alzheimers diagnosis, Loomis’ latest album is more personal and heartfelt than ever, the shock and subsequent sense of purpose serving to eradicate trivialities. As Loomis explains, “Bravery and the Bell… is about legacy, both the lineage we are born into and that which we pass on. Whether burdened or buoyed by our generational inheritance, this album confronts the drudgery of simply surviving and sounds a call to stand up to the things that stand in the way of us truly passionately pursuing that which we were made to be.”

Bravery and the Bell is out now and you can get it from Bandcamp.

Lord Youth – Blue Yodel #156

The songwriting project of Queens’ Micah Blaichman, Lord Youth makes music too cinematic for bedroom pop and too gloomy for garage rock, a murky, midnight noir to soundtrack your black and white dreams. Taken from the Lord Youth EP released last year, ‘Blue Yodel #156’ is something of a signature track for the band, slightly discordant and populated by wispy moans, as though behind Blaichman’s dejected lyrics lurk sad spirits of previously blue beings.

Lord Youth EP is out now via BB*ISLAND and you can get it on vinyl or digitally via Bandcamp.

Kazyak – ‘Sundial’

Written during a trip to Alaska as frontman Peter Frey prepared for his upcoming wedding, the themes of facing challenges and the natural world run through Happy Camping, the new album from Minneapolis band Kazyak. But this is achieved not in the harsh and difficult way such topics are usually broached. “It’s after you’ve put your pack on your back and set out walking down an unexplored trail, but before you’ve arrived to the foot of the mountain,” Frey says. “This album is the long walk through the open field to the base of the mountain.” As single ‘Sundial’ shows, Happy Camping is a spring album, where life is in a clear forward motion, the clean optimism of progressive snuffing out any signs of death and decay.

Happy Camping, is set for release on the 21st July and you can stay tuned to the Kazyak website for details.

Dama Scout – Paper Boy

The third single from the London/Glasgow three-piece Dama Scout, ‘Paper Boy’ is varied, hard-to-pin track that starts out woozy dream-pop and ends up somewhere far heavier. Indeed, such a shift is the band’s forte, with us describing a previous single as a “stylistic mutant ” and “a surreal ride through a many-eyed storm.” The languorous opening sees Eva Liu’s dreamy vocals float over choppy instrumentation before both coalesce into something more fluid, though the acceleration continues right through the other side, the song breaking down into chaotic disorder by the second half of the track. Imagine a slowly-rotating kaleidoscope gathering pace minute by minute, clicking into the perfect pattern for just a moment before eventually unravelling or exploding in a burst of coloured shards which rain down around your head.

‘Paper Boy’, and the band’s previous singles, can be found now on the Dama Scout Bandcamp page.

Why a fox – Solstice / ‘Young Trees’

The brainchild of Adelaide native, Fukushima resident Hayden Marks, Why a fox blends folk, pop, punk and emo to create heartfelt songs somewhere between Nana Grizol, Camp Cope and The Hotelier. This spring saw the release of Solstice, a verbose album of ramshackle lo-fi tunes notable for their energetic sincerity and bittersweet spirit. As a follow-up, Marks has also put out a new single ‘Young Trees’, taken from the forthcoming album Old Forest. Young Trees. A piano-driven instrumental, the track is something of a departure from the previous sound, though fits right in to the Why a fox aesthetic with its sincere positivity and emotional weight.

Solstice is out now and available from the Why a fox Bandcamp page. Old Forest. Young Trees is set for release this July, so keep an eye out for that too.

Alanna Eileen – ‘Knowledge’

New Zealand-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alanna Eileen makes lush music that draws upon both traditional and contemporary folk. With Eileen’s soft vocals and warm guitar backed by country ambience and modest piano, new single ‘Knowledge’ is a gauzy number that envelops you slowly. The possibility of sadness or heartbreak lingers just out of focus, neither the lyrics or instrumentation ever quite slipping from their agreeable vibe.

Alanna Eileen is currently working on a debut full-length album with Adam Selzer. In the meantime, check out her previous releases on Bandcamp.

Coastal Clouds – ‘Wanna Come Down’

California’s Roberto Rodriguez certainly choose an apt moniker when naming his new project, Coastal Clouds. As the latest single ‘Wanna Come Down’ attests, the sound is moulded out of the West Coast spirit of sun and surf, an early evening top-down drive where the clear skies and cool breeze conjure a sentimental edge, as though the knowledge such a carefree existence cannot last. Indeed, the lyrics push this further, dealing with the realisation that we must grow up and move on from even our most golden of days.

Keep up with Coastal Clouds via his Facebook page.

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