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.
Brenda – Children
Having been involved in the Toronto punk scene for a number of years, Brenda got together as a four-piece in 2015. After last year’s double A-side single Sally’s Spit / ICU, the band are back with a new song ahead of the EP, Creeper. ‘Childen’ is about ‘about manipulation and the inevitability of growing up’, exploring the interplay between wanting to grow up and a secret longing to return to childhood innocence. The result is an unsettling, off-kilter track that gets under your skin, the whimsical falsetto of the verses tending toward chaotic noise in the chorus. Watch the coulrophobia-inducing video below:
Creeper is due to be released later this year, and in the meantime you can get the ‘Children’ single from Bandcamp.
Wy – Gone Wild
Taken from Okay, a new album from Swedish duo Wy, ‘Gone Wild’ is a sparse, lonely song detailing a multitude of fears. From anxieties about the death of loved ones, to worries about being misunderstood and rejected, the track charts fear in its various forms, the focus on the vocals giving everything an isolated, introspective feel. As such, the song ends up representing the sensation of being stuck in your own head, a vast lonely place that’s somehow claustrophobic too.
Okay is out now via Better Call Rob and Hybris, and you can get it from Bandcamp.
blue milk – feelin’ Blue
blue milk is the lo-fi folk project of Nashville’s Chrissy Pederson. Pederson re-purposes the elements of age-old folk music for the young people of today, acoustic strums supporting lyrics reminiscent of Frankie Cosmos or Florist. Her latest release, a collection of songs called feelin’ Blue, is short and sweet, full of songs about Millennial angst, boredom and dying young. The whole thing is reassuringly DIY and the perfect antidote to sickly, overproduced chart folk pop.
You can get feelin’ Blue on a name-your-price download from the blue milk Bandcamp page.
Sam Valdez – It’s Alright
Based in Los Angeles, Nevada born songwriter Sam Valdez draws inspiration from Sufjan Stevens, Sylvia Plath and the desert of her childhood to create a sound both dreamy and spacious, as highlighted by new single ‘It’s Alright’. With equal focus on interior and exterior forces, the track examines the masked feelings behind a troubled relationship, though rather than placing them in claustrophobic melancholy, casts them into a wide, expansive soundscape with a life of its own. The result breaks the mould of personal folk, allowing the overall tone and message of the track to remain far more ambiguous, with the sadness accompanied by an unshakeable elation.
Heck Nugget – Never Feel Bad / Rookie, Judgement
Hailing from Houston, Texas, indie rock trio Heck Nugget mix pop punk energy with nostalgic melancholia, as demonstrated on their previous album, Sleeping With The Forcefield On. Since, the band have been working on new singles to form a split release with Austin band The Red Heroes. ‘Rookie, Judgement’ shows the upbeat, energetic version of the band, the track racing behind throaty vocals, while ‘Never Feel Bad’ is the pensive side of the coin, regret and sadness woven into something warm and affirming, no matter how blue.
The National – The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
In some instances, the task of writing about your favourite bands or albums is almost impossibly difficult, especially when said act has exploded into about as mainstream a position a hard-working indie rock band can achieve these days. The world doesn’t need another think piece about The National, nor comparative piece on whether The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness stands up alongside their other work. Whether or not this reaches the heights of Alligator and Boxer is kind of beside the point—Berninger and Co. remain one of the most consistent and interesting groups going, and if this record been released by an unknown act we’d be praising it’s achievements. So, while they’ve risen beyond our remit, we still think The National warrant a mention on our site, for posterity’s sake.
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness is out now via 4AD.
Dream Nails – Tourist
London’s self-described ‘feminist punk witches’ Dream Nails recently put out a sharp, snappy single in preparation for their forthcoming EP, Dare To Care. Channelling the spirit of the Riot Grrrl age, the band create music equal parts catchy and furious, retreating not one iota in their stance against misogyny and the patriacrhal society. “[‘Tourist’ is] about men who present themselves as a hero but all they really want to do is fetishise sad girls,” say lead Janey Starling. “We can smell those guys a mile away and they’re creepy.”
Dare To Care is set for release on the 27th October so keep an eye on the Dream Nails Bandcamp page.