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.

Blushing – Weak 

Working out of Austin, Texas, Blushing is a quartet made up of two husband and wife couples that make a shimmering brand of shoegaze that stokes the flames of nostalgia while pushing ahead into new territory. With the band set to release a new EP, Weak, they’ve unveiled the title track as a single to whet our appetites. The track, which nods at forebears such My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive as well as contemporaries like Pains of Being Pure At Heart, weaves a gauzy atmosphere and feedback and reverb, though the poppy vocals are also allowed to bob to the surface.

Check out the video below, which was directed, filmed and edited by drummer Jake Soto with help from Eddie Chavez.

Weak is to be released via Austin Town Hall Records on the 26th January, 2018, and you can pre-order it from Bandcamp.

Amparo – Ruby

Amparo is the project of Arizona’s Lela Amparo, who is due to release their debut EP, Rains, later this week, the first ever release on label Taabiir. The first single from the record, ‘Ruby’ combines sombre piano, sparse guitar and minimal spoken samples to form something that sounds moving and elegiac. The track was inspired by the rhythms of the natural world, as Amparo explains. “This past summer I spent time in Gothenburg, Sweden surrounding myself with the nearby woods. The original intention was to continue crafting electronic music, however after a friend loaned me his guitar, the outcome was entirely different. Over the course of two days, I sat down and began to sketch out guitar hooks and loops, which would eventually transpire into this EP.”

Rains is due for release on the 10th of December via Taabiir.

Veronica Bianqui – Victim

Multi-instrumentalist Veronica Bianqui makes music inspired a variety of sources, melding the 60s pop with classic soul and finishing off with the rough edges of garage rock. While her debut album is not scheduled for release until 2018, new single, ‘Victim’, gives a good insight in her sound and aesthetic. Bianqui’s sister died young after struggling with drug use, and the song plays as an attempt to prevent such tragedies, imploring those struggling addiction to find the strength to change and live. As such, ‘Victim’ is about breaking patterns of self-victimization in order to heal and grow, maintaining an upbeat, positive vibe despite the grave matter at hand.

‘Victim’ is available now from Veronica Bianqui’s Bandcamp page.. All of the proceeds are being donated to the Harm Reduction Coalition, who fight to promote the health and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by drug use.

Lavender Child – Happy Illusions

Based in Toronto, Canada, Lavender Child makes what they describe as “ethereal dreamscapes” intended to “inspire listeners to reconnect with nature, community, and themselves.” The result is something pitched halfway between indie pop and ambient, taking equal inspiration from Grouper, Julianna Barwick and Sharon van Etten. The lead single from a new EP, Reflections, ‘Happy Illusions’ demonstrates the vivid, dream-like soundscapes that Lavender Child conjures, evoking not only a sense of wilderness but also a rich inner life too, as though the interior and exterior are merged into one soaring fabric.

Lavender Child‘s EP, Reflections, is out on the 1st December.

1971 – Anxiety (In The Depths Of Northwestern Ontario)

Cameron Glen Cranston, bassist and founding member of 1971, very sadly died earlier this year aged just 25. The band have called it a day in response, but have decided to release their final two recordings as a cassette single, No Matter Where You Go, There You Are.

One of those tracks, ‘Anxiety (in the Depths of Northwestern Ontario)’ was written for Cranston back in 2016, during a very difficult period before his death. We’re glad we have ‘his’ song,” the band told Exclaim! “even though it’s hard to listen to sometimes.”

The song deals in the kind of sparse and expansive Canadian indie rock that will appeal to fans of Wintersleep or Summering, the pain and emotion that inspired it spiking in punky yelps during the chorus, and whipping into a blizzard of squealing guitar and pounded drums for the finale.

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are is out Dec 1st and available via the 1971 Bandcamp page.

Joe Russell-Brown – Post-Youth Depression

Recorded on nothing but a laptop and cheap microphone in his grandmother’s bungalow, Joe Russell-Brown’s debut EP Post-Youth Depression manages a surprising anthemic richness to accompany what is still an undoubtledly lo-fi sound. The title track is the perfect example of this, coming off as a jagged celebration of times gone by, detailing the facets of teenage years in boring towns that become suddenly beautiful in hindsight.

Post-Youth Depression is out now via Warren Records and you can grab it from Bandcamp.

Bryde – Desire

Bryde is the recording project of Pembrokeshire native Sarah Howells, who makes a dark blend of indie rock and pop that probes at the sinister underbelly of love and relationships. Following on from her debut EP, ‘Desire’ is a new single that furthers this style, serving as a critical, semi-disgusted look at a relationship gone wrong. According the the act, the songs is about “our need for instant gratification, about desire’s addictive qualities and how they can make us behave,” charting the transforming or transmogrifying power of love and lust. Here, passion is not the beguiling force of Hollywood movies, rather an instinctive, near-animalistic force capable of destroying your sense of self and better judgement.

‘Desire’ was released earlier this month via Seahorse Music, and precedes Bryde’s debut album, pencilled in for next Spring.

Little Star – Providence

Starting out as the solo project of Portland, Oregon’s Daniel Byers, Little Star grew to include band members John Value and Julian Morris for 2016’s Being Close this year’s self-titled record. However, returning to his roots, Byers has taken to the studio as a solo act once more to record a new EP, Even in Dreams, that will be released next year on Good Cheer Records. Until then, we have ‘Providence’ as a taster, a track that combines an intimate bedroom pop with 80s college rock, with elements of shoegaze thrown in for good measure—resulting in a song that blends emotion and deadpan observation in a way similar to the excellent Friendship record we reviewed a few weeks ago.

Even in Dreams will be released on Hidden Bay Records and Good Cheer Records on the 12th January and you can pre-order it now. In the meantime, check out the Big Star Bandcamp page for their previous albums.

Allegra Krieger – So Glad You Said Goodbye

Based in New York, Allegra Krieger is a songwriter rooted in the traditions of folk, as much of a storyteller as a musician. Indeed, as with much of the best folk, her debut album Circles deals with themes of moving, coming out of a period spent “living on the road; in tents, caves, strangers couches.” As such, the record feels like a sincere attempt at communicating the experience of life, with situations and relationships always beginning and ending, the narrator left to navigate the constant change and subsequent heartache. ‘So Glad You Said Goodbye’ is a perfect example, pitched on the vague space between heartsick and wistful, finding solace or strength in the act of moving forwards.

Circles is out now and you can get it from the Allegra Kriger Bandcamp page.

Me and The Moon – Standing Still

After much praise for their debut single, ‘Get Away’ , Guildford trio Me and The Moon are back with a second single on My Little Empire Records. ‘Standing Still’ is an indie-pop song with shoegazey elements and near mathy influences, making for a track that’s both upbeat and melancholic in the best way possible.

The single is out via My Little Empire, and available now from Bandcamp.

Be sure to check out our previous Bright Sparks posts via the tag, and keep your eyes peeled in the opening weeks of 2018 for the next edition.