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.
Lazy Legs – Bed Head
We’ve featured Lazy Legs previously, describing the Chicago (soon to be Portland) outfit’s sound as “a heavy mix of shoegaze and noise pop, a million miles from the sugary sweet jangle at the other end of the genre’s spectrum”. The band are readying their sophomore album, Crawler, and have released the first track ‘Bed Head’ in anticipation. Wrapped in a blanket of fuzz, the track ruminates on reasons to leave your bed in depressive, run-down vocal melodies. It’s shoegaze repurposed for an age of ennui, and has certainly whet my appetite for the album.
You can get ‘Bed Head’ on a name-your-price basis from the Lazy Legs Bandcamp page.
Windbury Street – Skinny Jeans and Sweaters
‘Skinny Jeans and Sweaters’ is the new single from “one man indie rock project” Windbury Street, based in Virginia. Part slacker rock mumble, part heart-on-sleeve emo, the song fronts up to a sense of creeping disaffection and growing older, all run through an appealing college-radio filter.
If you like what your hear, head over to the Windbury Street Bandcamp page and check out their debut album which was released on a name-your-price basis last month.
Ian Terry – Cut
Short, sharp and sad, Ian Terry’s new single ‘Cut’ is a take on so-called ‘call-out culture’, a digital age plea that’s as heartfelt and poignant as any traditional folk track. The Delaware songwriter uses simple acoustic guitar to back his wistful vocals, falling somewhere between the bedroom pop artists and the indie folk revival, and creating a succinct and satisfying number.
You can grab the track and a handful of other releases via the Ian Terry Bandcamp page.
all-caps LADD – Computer Kids
Taken from their upcoming The Whole EP, ‘Computer Kids’ finds New York’s all-caps LADD practising a dark, foreboding energy that conjures both post-punk and indie rock. With the downbeat vocals threading between frantic guitars and drums, and eventually rising is squally yelps, the whole thing has a claustrophobic, overwhelmed feel, as though some great force is passing all around us. And this makes sense, considering the themes of the song. As the band explain: “‘Computer Kids’ grapples with future shock, the feeling of being left behind by accelerating technological change, from the point of view of kids raised in the dial-up era of the internet.”
Philippa Zawe – Time
Based in Birmingham, Philippa Zawe combines folk and soul to create organic music built around her versatile voice. This September sees the release of her debut EP, Road of Hope, and the first single, ‘Time’, acts as a great introduction. A considered, slow-paced track, the single utilises the entire vocal range, switching from casual conversational comments to strikingly effecting croons to produce something that ebbs and flows with human warmth.
Road of Hope is set for release on the 8th September and you get get it from the Philippa Zawe Bandcamp page.
Miseryslims – Onto Elm Street
Taken from the recently released second EP from Manitoba band Miseryslims, ‘Onto Elm Street’ is a jangly slice of indie rock, the drums and vocals driving though the fuzz with resolute energy. With surfy vibes lapping at the edges too, the song emerges as the perfect candidates to soundtrack your final days of summer, upbeat and bright with just a little melancholy peeking through.
The appropriately named EP Two is out now and available from Bandcamp.
Big Baby – Not That
Virginia three piece Big Baby, consisting of Ali Mislowsky, Chris Smith and Brian Dove, make an upbeat lo-fi jangle pop to rival the main players in the field. This July saw them release Sour Patch, a four-song record on EggHunt Records. With Mislowsky’s emotional vocals surfing the bright summertime instrumentation, ‘Not That’ encapsulates the EP. However the bouncy nature of the song hides a sadness rooted deep within the creative process. “Sour Patch is about the worst year I had after graduating college. I couldn’t catch a break and it felt like everything was crumbling from every direction.” How better to shake loose of the blues that with some cathartic indie pop?
Sour Patch is out now via EggHunt Records, and you can get in from Bandcamp.
Happy Abandon – Severed Seams
Happy Abandon are putting out a new album, Facepaint, this month via Schoolkids Records, and single ‘Severed Seams’ sets the tone. Orchestral indie pop, the track is an emotive slow-burner dealing with loneliness and loss, the spacious atmosphere of the track punctuated with small details, moments of beauty forming is the cracks and gaps.
Facepaint is to be released on the 25th August via Schoolkids Records.
Steakhouse – National
The music of San Francisco outfit Steakhouse is a curious thing to pigeonhole, drawing on electronic, art rock and post-punk to conjure images of a wide, strange America. Following up their 2014 self-titled full-length, the band have unveiled a new track, ‘National’, complete with appropriately atmospheric video. Progressing with hypnotic rhythm, the track has a dreamily detached feel that brings to mind unspoken violence, and slightly removed from its own descriptions by shock or awe.
Francis – Swing
Formed in 2006, Sweden band Francis have experienced a number of changes in their lifetime, both stylistically and in terms of line-up. However, retaining the same personnel as on 2016’s Marathon, the outfit are back with a new single, ‘Swing’, a dreamy retro summer song that meanders with a wistful edge, focused on the passing of time. As lead Petra Mases says: “This is what ‘Swing’ is about, the wave that comes with all the memories. There is no valuation, nothing to change, just memories from what once was. Suddenly ten, twenty, thirty years has passed. What happened there?”
‘Swing’ is out now on Strangers Candy and you can get it from Bandcamp.
pastel – Silhouette
pastel is the recording project of Gabriel Brenner, a visual artist and musician based in Los Angeles. His new EP, absent, just dust, is coming out on the 25th of August, and the lead single ‘Silhouette’ has left us intrigued. Brenner, who has maternal Pima and paternal Cherokee heritage, wrote the EP as an attempt to confront the lasting violence and trauma of colonialism and its impact on contemporary Native identities. While we hope to get a fuller review up soon, for now you should listen to ‘Silhouette’ echo and flicker as though distorted by time.
Pre-order absent, just dust now from the pastel Bandcamp page.