Bright Sparks is posted once a month and offers a collection of really great songs that we’re determined not to let slip past our radar. Vol. 30 is fresh out of the oven.

Rat Tally – Feel Something

The recording project of LA’s Addy Harris, Rat Tally makes an emo-inflected brand of indie rock, exploring tortured emotion and mental health struggles in a manner at once wistful and fierce.  New single ‘Feel Something’ is a perfect example. A song about depression and self-sabotage, Harris delves into the competing horrors of feeling bad and feeling nothing at all. “When you feel depressed and numb, and you’ll stop at nothing to feel anything at all,” she explains, “even if it means emotionally hurting yourself and sometimes the people around you.” Gathering momentum as it progresses, the track becomes both an expression of regret and something of an explanation, and thus a drive to continue forwards nonetheless.

But I just want to feel something
Even if I end up spitting out blood
I told you you’d get used to it
I think I always knew you never would
But I just want to feel something
Even if you end up spitting out blood
When you’re finally done with it
I’ll tell you I always knew one day you’d run

‘Feel Something’ is out now and available from the Rat Tally Bandcamp page.

EL LAGO – Pyramid

Existing at the intersection of shoegaze, dream pop and post-punk, EL LAGO’s Pyramid is a nocturnal record, ominous and dark and shot through with shimmering points of light. Released last month on Wallflower Records, the EP packs a genuine sense of variety, from the brusque, Patio-esque detachment of ‘Moths’ to the breathless, soaring shoegaze of the title track. However, each track is linked by a common spirit, all existing in a mysterious twilit space where threat and wonder stand side by side.

Lead single ‘Citadel’ is as good an introduction as any. Kicking into dinghy rhythm, the song holds a promise at its heart, though whether this is a promise of awe or violence is left unsaid. As such, there’s an unhinged intensity to the sound, like Bambara’s crazed preacher vibe, or something that might roll through the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks.

Pyramid is out now on Wallflower Records and you can grab it from the EL LAGO Bandcamp page.

Will Orchard – Turning Back Again

Working under the moniker LittleBoyBigHeadOnBike, Will Orchard wrote and released hundreds of songs a year, his Bandcamp featuring a vast array of experimental and colourful albums that stitched a giant patchwork of his creative influences. After much touring, Orchard decided to reinvent his practice, focusing on less tracks for a longer period of time and putting them out under his own name.

The result is Old Friends on the Mountain, an album made with engineer Jeff Prystowsky (The Low Anthem) that is concerned with loss and longing ” for lost imagination, friends long gone, and memories slipping away.” Ahead of its release next January, Orchard has unveiled the lead single, ‘Turning Back Again’, showing off his more cohesive, Americana-inspired sound. The tone is certainly nostalgic, and therefore focused on things now lost, though cast in a fond light—committed to bringing to life those moments, however mundane or ordinary, that help us become ourselves.

Old Friends On The Mountain is out on the 3rd January and you can pre-order it now from the Will Orchard Bandcamp page.

Katie Kuffel – Jelly Donut

Back in October of last year, we had the honour of sharing Take It Up, the debut album from Seattle-based songwriter Katie Kuffel. The record was one “of complete authenticity,” we wrote. “All pretences have been dropped, all half-truths abandoned, every wrinkle of self-doubt examined and ironed out.” In cherry picking the best bits from blues, jazz, folk and pop, Kuffel’s piano-led sound is capable of being fun as well as emotionally deep, tied together by a sense of live energy that her soulful vocal style only grows.

Kuffel is back with a brand new single, ‘Jelly Donut’, a track which develops on the sound of the record. Revolving around ideas of recovery and healing in the face of trauma, there is once again a serious weight at the core, though that is only half of the story. Replete with an energetic groove and smoky charisma, a fluid confidence permeates the sound, producing an affirming mood that’s as enlivening as it is infectious. Check out the video from Amphora Media below:

Alex Chilltown – Drown

Alex Chilltown is the recording project of Croydon’s Josh Esaw, and their debut record Eulogies is very much a product of that south London milieu—a blend of dream pop and art rock for the hyperreal present, a place of concrete and tarmac and a constant bustle toward a future that no-one can quite imagine, so is instead painted as another cycle of the past.

Lead single ‘Drown’ gives a taste as to what to expect. Threaded by a taut energy and a richly intricate sound, the song has pressing tone, unfurling in a relentless flow. “I wanted to write something that felt urgent,” Esaw explains. “It represents a lot of anxieties I was having about myself and that’s why it has that kind of tightness to it like when your brain is stuck in an anxious thought pattern and you’re crippled with indecision but also can’t stop ruminating on that.”

Eulogies will be released on the 24th January via Fear of Missing Out Records and you can pre-order it from the Alex Chilltown Bandcamp page.

French for Rabbits – Highest Hill

Led by Brooke Singer, New Zealand dream pop band French For Rabbits make an ethereal, layered brand of music. Their previous record, The Weight of Melted Snow, released on Home Alone Music and Muscle Beach Records, was translucent and melancholic and alive, the songs the musical equivalent of a sea mist that drifts in with a beguiling hush and settles upon your skin.

‘Highest Hill’, sees French for Rabbits perfect the style, the muted atmosphere showing that emotional resonance need not resort to bombast or melodrama. Working with Misma Andrews, the band set out to record a video with Lucifer the cat and dogs Pepa and Jolene, though with too much footage and/or a reluctance to cut, they ended up crafting two films for the same track—the cat version and the dog version. You can see the one for the far superior animal below:

You can find French for Rabbits on Bandcamp, and find out about the upcoming tour dates on their website.

Lazy Legs – Silkworm

We’ve written about Portland, OR’s Lazy Legs a few times in the past, from their self-titled debut in 2016 to last year’s single, ‘Nosebleed‘. The latter was taken from a new record, Moth Mother, and we’re finally getting close to release, with the album out on the 15th November.

In the preview, we suggested that the new record would see Lazy Legs “orbiting closer to their grunge and slowcore influences,” and latest single ‘Silkworm’ continues the trend. Finding a shuffling rhythm from the tape hiss intro, Laura Wagner’s vocals shimmer across the track before an almighty crunch of sound, drums and guitar and bass clattering into a reverb-drenched crescendo. From here the track ebbs and flows, settling into brief moments of peace before diving headlong into the noise once more.

Moth Mother is out on the 15th November and you can pre-order it from the Lazy Legs Bandcamp page.

The Big Easy – Nothing Comes for Free

The recording project of Stephen Berthomieux and friends, The Big Easy makes a distinctive blend of bedroom pop and garage rock that leans into the lo-fi aesthetic as a route toward authenticity. From now until February, The Big Easy will release a brand new single on the first Friday of every month, and ‘Nothing Comes for Free’ is the first entry in the series.

With fuzzed out guitar and a drum machine whirring behind, Berthomieux puts his vocals through a guitar amp to give them a distorted edge too, his voice almost becoming another instrument in weaving the rich texture of the sound. Thematically, the title does the talking, exploring ideas of uncertainty in the face of our costly society.

Two packs a day is more than just a goal of mine
cause then they find my ashes they’re be nothing left that’s mine
and every fucking time that i find i spend the night
life’s like every episode of twilight zone
something must be wrong
i never trust myself

‘Nothing Comes For Free’ is out now and available from The Big Easy’s Bandcamp page.

People Person – Bound

Coming from the abrasive world of post-metal and hardcore, People Person is a project that aims to take aggression and ferocity and channel them into a more thoughtful, considered sound. The result, album Look Outside, Watch Closely, is somewhere between post-rock, bedroom pop and ambient, the sound rising from confessional whispers to something intense and soaring. If heaviness comes in a variety of forms, People Person are keyed into the nuances.

Lead single ‘Bound’ is a case in point. Opening with a despondent pop-rock style in the vein of Daughter of Julien Baker, the song intensifies gradually, the band displaying a real expertise in the balance between build and payoff. The result is something more intricate that the one-speed rush of hardcore while avoiding the self-indulgence of post-rock, creating a sound at once vast and immediate.

Look Outside, Watch Closely is out now and available from the People Person Bandcamp page.

Alexander Biggs – Madeleine

Australian songwriter Alexander Biggs makes music haunted by a sense of loneliness and loss, as though something important has gone missing from our times. Through poignant arrangements and evocative folk melodies, Biggs brings such emotions to life, binding it all together with his earnest vocal style somewhere between Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers.

Brand new single ‘Madaleine’ is described as an “observational piece,” collating several toxic relationships to paint something of a caricature—a person violent and volatile and suffering, lashing out as though to share some of the pain they are subjected to. Loaded with starkly beautiful lyrics and possessing a tenderness despite the bitter tone, the track is caught between two poles: the immediacy of hurt not lessened but matched by the slow sadness of understanding.

That’s all for Vol. 30 of Bright Sparks folks, but be sure to stick around the Reviews and Previews sections for more in-depth writing.