The Song Crush team this week listens to Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker's evolution, new songs from Sleater-Kinney, Purple Pilgrims, Lower Dens and more. Host Kirsten Johnstone is joined by Tony Stamp and Jana Whitta.
JARV IS… - 'Must I Evolve?'
It’s so good to hear Jarvis Cocker sing again. Now fifty five, the former Pulp frontman is back with a new ensemble, whose debut song pairs the story of human evolution with Cocker’s development as a man. Despite what the name might lead you to believe, this is not a one-man show, it’s a band, audibly feeding off each other in the studio with the kind of spontaneity you can’t fake (apparently they recorded it after playing a show, all the better to bottle that energy). According to their website “JARV IS… primarily a live experience”, but if this is an indication of their recorded output we should be very excited for more. TS
Sleater Kinney - 'Hurry on Home'
As a young lesbian coming out in the late 90s - This band were my idols. They opened up a whole new world of queer feminist music for me and the 'riot grrl' movement.
After a ten year hiatus they released an album in 2015, and then earlier this year Sleater Kinney pretty much broke the internet when they posted a photo on their social media accounts, of them in the studio with Annie Clark AKA St.Vincent, teasing a new album in 2019, produced by St. Vincent herself.
They announced the release of their latest single 'Hurry On Home' via social media too. Carrie Brownstein, the singer of the band (and Portlandia co-creator) posted a screenshot of a txt convo between her and long-time collaborator - writer, actor, and artist Miranda July, asking if she would make a lyric video for their new single. Miranda replied “I think I have a good idea." What ensued is a music video where Miranda July, plays a character, going through Carrie’s Instagram and sending her txts for each line, as the song plays out.
The song itself is a self-loathing, power-punching anthem. JW
Purple Pilgrims - 'Two Worlds Apart'
Sisters Clementine and Valentine Nixon (formerly Adams) grew up home-schooled in Asia and in alternative schooling in Christchurch, and they really do come from a family of folk nomads. Their great grandfather was one of the best known Scottish traveller musicians.
I’ve always found their synth sounds and texture of their music lovely, but too washed out with reverb for me to really connect with their stories.
With ‘Two Worlds Apart’, they’ve made the vocal much clearer and cleaner and used more of an operatic timbre. They’ve kept the melody simple, emphasising the pop structure, and those guitar and synth layers remind me of Cocteau Twins, or My Bloody Valentine.
I think what they’re singing about is that close sister relationship they have - and being apart from each other.
They’re going to release their second LP Perfumed Earth on August 9th, and I think it’s a fantastic new signing for Flying Nun. KJ
Lower Dens - 'Young Republicans'
This American outfit have never shied away from political commentary, but 'Young Republicans' is the most direct they’ve ever been. “At last the world is burning” sings Jana Hunter, in character as the titular Republican, rejoicing that unfettered capitalism has brought the earth to the brink of destruction. It’s a furious message in a gorgeous package, especially when Hunter’s voice soars in a chorus that is, even by this band’s excellent standards, thoroughly rousing. TS
Sequoyah Murray - 'Penalties of Love'
Sequoyah Murray is 22 year old vocalist, musician and producer from Atlanta, Georgia.
This song 'Penalties of Love' is the title track from his new EP, and what immediately struck me was his Incredible vocal range. He's has three octaves, ranging from a rich baritone to androgynous falsetto.
His influences are very much referenced here - I hear Arthur Russell come through strongly, they have a similar vocal tone, use lots of samples and loops, strings and polyrhythmic beats.
Murray says 'Penalties of Love' is about the "Breakdown of a relationship from pain and confrontation to catharsis." The accompanying video features Sequoyah himself dancing slowly and seductively, camped out in make-up, and a modelling a variety of colourful costumes. It is truly stunning. JW
Bedouine - 'When You're Gone'
Bedouine is the performing name for Californian based, Syrian-born Azniv Korkejian, who is releasing her second album Bird Songs of a Killjoy in June.
The Nick Drake-ishness of her style is obvious on this song, and another single channels Joni Mitchell. You might say it’s derivative, but they’re worthy templates, and there’s an airy freedom about her voice that really harks back to Nick and Joni’s era, as well as a grace, simplicity, intimacy and honesty in her songwriting. It’s a lovely, quiet listen perfect for a Sunday afternoon. KJ