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. Enjoy Vol 3!

Why Not – Guided Meditation / Ground

Why Not are a math punk band from the Twin Cities. They’re currently working on their debut LP, due for release later this year, and have released two tracks to whet our collective appetite. ‘Guided Meditation’ takes around a minute to build into a mathy thrash, the slacker vocals calm and disaffected at the centre. ‘Ground’, on the other hand, is a little funkier, glowing with a quietly carefree buzz until things devolve into a cymbal heavy crescendo.

“I know that I’m on the ground right
now but I know I can take it
I know that I’m still alive right now
but that won’t last forever”

You can get both songs from the Why Not Bandcamp page.

Blood Cultures – Detroit

New Jersey duo Blood Cultures have a pretty enigmatic web presence. What we do know is that they are readying their debut album Happy Birthday, and that they’ve been steadily dripping tracks in preview. The latest, ‘Detroit’, blends 80s synths with chilled out beats and laidback pop vocals. Think the Stranger Things soundtrack run through a 21st Century synth pop filter, what their bio describes as “hypnotic, galaxy-painted synths that will put listeners into a trace as they dance along to digital beats over the milky way”.

Keep an eye on the Blood Cultures website and Facebook page for updates.

Matt Paxton – Baby Don’t Go

Matt Paxton is a member of the stellar Other Songs Music Co. roster, and this month released a new EP, Hunter Street Station Blues. Written with Thompson Wilson, opening track ‘Baby Don’t Go’ gives a flavour of the gentle heartbreak on offer here, a blend of traditional folk and an ever so slight pop edge leading to a song both catchy and wistful. 

Hunter Street Station Blues is out now via Other Songs Music Co. and you can buy it now from Bandcamp.

Blaketheman1000 – Blake

Blaketheman1000 is the recoridng project of Blake Goldberg from Nashville, TN. Goldman recently sent us the video (made by Adele Smith) for a song called Blake’. It’s about, you guessed it, Blake himself, what Goldman describes as “A fun song I made about being me <3”. It’s a super lo-fi bedroom pop song, one that’s all the more endearing for its rough-around-the-edges vibe. Think Spencer Radcliffe meets Gorgeous Bully. You can keep tabs on Blaketheman1000 over at his Soundcloud page.

Somesurprises – serious dreams

Emerging as the solo act of singer and guitarist Natsha El-Sergany, Somesurprises is a constantly shifting outfit currently operating as a full band. Such a fluid line-up matches the sound, with latest release serious dreams highlighting the shifting, shimmering nature of Somesurprises’ music, rooted in nature but also otherworldly and strange. Take ‘Late July’ as an example, operating like a semi-sentient woodland fog, its tendrils reaching for your face and head, wrapping you within its somnolescent embrace.

serious dreams is out now on Eiderdown Records and available from Bandcamp.

Ramonda Hammer – Too Much, Too Recently

LA quartet Ramonda Hammer, founded by lead Devin Davis, are following up 2016’s album Whatever That Means with a brand new EP, Destroyers. To give us a taste of their new stuff, the band have released lead single, ‘Too Much, Too Recently’, a track with a rather novel subject matter. “I’m gonna get real real here,” Devin confides. “This song is about our bassist Andy, who is also my ex-boyfriend.” From here, the song explores past lives and multiple dimensions, all channelled through a lovely 90s grunge aesthetic.

Destroyers is set for release on the 4th August via New Professor Music and you can pre-order it from Bandcamp.

Devon Sproule – Trees at Your Mom’s

Recorded across three Canadian provinces and Scotland’s Shetland Islands, Devon Sproule’s record The Gold String feels very much a product of wide experiences and open expanses. The instrumentation is odd and often slightly off kilter, the lyrics somewhere between folk, poetry and ad-lib chanting, the words emerging perfectly formed from some unknown place. This means, as shown on ‘Trees at Your Mom’s’, there’s a curiously relaxed sort of intensity about the album, a natural flow that can meander between unhurried and frantic yet never loses that sense of momentum.

Get The Gold String from Bandcamp now (or here if you’re based in the EU).

Decoration Day – Palms

Toronto’s chamber-folk outfit Decoration Day released their debut EP, Blind Contour, back in June, a release which: “chronicl[es] a couple finding and later losing their first true love, resulting in making music together as a sort of cathartic grieving.” Utilising an array of acoustic instruments, the band create bright arrangements tinged with heartbreak, Mara Nesrallah’s vocals rising through it all with a kind of relaxed regret, fierce feelings as voiced from a late night hotel lounge, where the light is low and drink allows a certain romance to creep into the fabric of things.

Blind Contour is out now and available from the Decoration Day Bandcamp page.

Phoebe Bridgers – Motion Sickness

This autumn sees the release of Stranger In The Alps, the debut album from Phoebe Bridgers, an album of country-tinged indie rock. Single ‘Motion Sickness’ shows off her sound, introspective and laden with imagery, yet still buoyed on a firm confidence that makes for a listen at once visceral and deep. And balance seems an important part of the record: “I wasn’t trying to be too lo-fi, too hi-fi, too self-serious, too disingenuous,” Bridgers says. “I feel pretty confident that I’m finding my voice.”

Watch the home tape/karaoke-esque video, directed by Bridgers’ brother Jason, below:

Stranger In The Alps is coming out on the 22nd September via Dead Oceans.