Though they already have two EP’s under their belts, Plastic Mermaids is the delirious but delightful new band you never thought you needed.
Perforating a gigantic chamber pop sound with woozy hues of space rock and ornate orchestral flairs, Plastic Mermaids brandishes a richly-textured blueprint that few can replicate, and ‘Taxonomy’—the latest cut from their debut album out now via Sunday Best Recordings—offers an apt glimpse into their wacky world of sound and visuals.
In celebration of today’s release of the Suddenly Everyone Explodes, the Isle of Wight-based five-piece has also unveiled a bizarre new music video for their fourth and final single.
As they’ve so peculiarly accomplished through their music, the band also has a knack for weird world-building through their videos. ‘Taxonomy’ is yet another dizzying visual effort that pairs perfectly with their brand of psych-pop, but this time they follow the route of clay animation in the same vein as Bruce Bickford who created stop-motion animations for the great Frank Zappa. While the result is no Bickford, Plastic Mermaids self-produced endeavor comes pretty damn close with the help of about 20 of their fans.
Plastic Mermaids - Taxonomy - YouTube
On the track, the band reflected on the grueling production of the new video: “Doug did some maths and realized that if we shot one frame every minute it was going to take us 54 hours of constant animation. Not wanting to die of exhaustion we decided to put a message out on our socials to see if we could get any extra helpers and we had about 20 Plastic Mermaids fans (of all ages) come and help us with the model making and animating. It was still a pretty intense experience trying to average one frame every 30 seconds and if we hadn’t had anyone help us we’d probably still be animating now!”
The claymation visual is disorienting and at times unnerving as disfigured clay beings hallucinate after feasting upon some DMT-infused ice cream served and sold by a creepy little mustache man. But the strange concept doesn’t end there. After tripping out, those who ate the ice cream experience explosive side effects—literally.
Make sure to check out the music video for ‘Taxonomy’ above and follow Plastic Mermaids on Facebook and Instagram.
Loamlands, a country-folk outfit from Durham, N.C., is just a few weeks away from releasing its sophomore LP, Lez Dance. Ahead of that release, the group is sharing 'Soni Wolf Grandmother,' a sparse, evocative and powerful new single that shines through with remarkable poignancy.
With vocalist Kym Register's stirring performance front and center, 'Soni Wolf Grandmother' is certainly a showcase for Register's incredible lyrical storytelling and powerhouse voice. But their vocals are supported and elevated by the song's terrific production. A foundation of distorted guitar is soon joined by melancholic horns as more and more voices are layered upon one another, creating a cathartic soundscape.
The lyrics dive into the history of queerness and explore what it meant to be queer for generations past.
"'Soni Wolf Grandmother' questions our queer origin stories by exploring the identities of our elders," explains Register. "Soni Wolf founded Dykes on Bikes. But what was she like outside of that narrative? What was it like to gay in the 70s/80s? What was it like when there were fewer gender identities? What was is like for my grandmother? What would they be like now? How can we tell the stories outside of the lenses of our own narratives?"
You can stream 'Soni Wolf Grandmother' up above and you can pre-order Loamlands' new album Lez Dance, due out June 7 via Cruisin Records, at this link. The group also has a couple shows in North Carolina this summer. You can find those tour dates down below.
08 June - North Star Church of the Arts (Record Release Show); Durham, NC
27 July - Saxapahaw Summer Concert Series; Saxapahaw, NC
The Lumineers have released the accompanying videos to the Gloria EP. It’s the first full collection of music taken from their upcoming full length visual album III. Approaching the recording process in an entirely new way, the album will focus on three separate members of the fictional Sparks family. The spotlight is first of all placed upon the mother figure of Gloria, the opening track ‘Donna’ introduces us to an addict struggling to come to terms with motherhood.
Wesley Schultz’s pained vocal contrasts twinkling piano as a woman’s life begins to spiral. On ‘Life In The City’, her habit is placed in startling view as foreboding drum beats sound out like alarm calls. The tone is both melancholic and desperately optimistic, as lyrics of perseverance and togetherness clash against images of Gloria’s downward spiral. The title track is the most traditional sounding song from the band as rustic string and raspy folk vocals come together in this futile plea for improvement.
Speaking of the inspiration behind the destructive character, Schultz explains: “Gloria is an addict. Her character was inspired by a member of my family, and no amount of love or resources could save her. She’s now been homeless for over a year. Loving an addict is like standing among the crashing waves, trying to bend the will of the sea.”
The Lumineers - Donna (Part 1 Of 10) - YouTube
The Lumineers - Life In The City (Part 2 Of 10) - YouTube
Bill Callahan recently made the extremely exciting announcement that he'll be releasing a new album called Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest on June 14th. Tantalisingly, he didn't release any of the album's 20 tracks when making this announcement - but has made up for it this week by putting the record's first 6(!) tracks on DSPs.
While all of the 6 tracks are delightful and find Callahan in classically chatty and jokey mood - but with a newfound peace from his radically changed domestic life - 'Angela' is perhaps the most immediate of the bunch. Maybe it's because it starts with a classic Callahan quip "like motel curtains we never really met," but it unspools magically from there. Entwined with upright bass, Callahan's voice and guitar excellently tale the tale of a short-lived dalliance that's still playing on our singer's mind. Fleshed out with just enough detail, 'Angela' is a timely reminder of why Bill Callahan is one of our most treasured currently working songwriters.
But, the other 5 tracks are absolutely delightful too, from his acquaintance with Bruce Banner in 'The Ballad Of The Hulk' to the pure joy of 'Writing'. Check out all 6 below.
Bill Callahan's Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest is out June 14th on Drag City. He's got a few UK and European dates later in the year:
29/9/19 Vicar Street, Dublin IE
1/10/19 Usher Hall, Edinburgh UK
2/10/19 Albert Hall, Manchester UK
3/10/19 Eventim Apollo, London UK
5/10/19 La Cigale, Paris FR
6/10/19 Ancienne Belgique, Brussels BE
7/10/19 TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht NL
8/10/19 Admiralspalast, Berlin DE
10/10/19 Store Vega, Copenhagen DK
11/10/19 Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo NO
12/10/19 Göta Lejon, Stockholm SE
13/10/19 Pustervik, Gothenburg SE
Keep up with The 405's Tracks of the Day in our 2019 playlist, updated every weekday.
London trio Arliston are back with the incredible stop-motion animation video for their latest single ‘Loud’. Think Ray Harryhausen meets Robot Chicken.
The self-produced track is the first new music since the band’s 2018 EP Hawser, and retains much of their swirling ambient sensitivity, particularly in Jack Ratcliffe’s lyricism. It also shows off their grittier side as it crunches along, perfectly capturing the battle between the sparring lovers that plays out in the video. The mixture of serene landscapes and stop-motion monsters is tons of fun and demonstrates the trio’s charismatic charm.
A quietly seething track for all the introverts out there, Ratcliffe says, “the song is about that tinge of regret that any introvert worth their salt will feel from time to time. Thinking of a thousand moments where you should have said something, but didn’t."
Italian dream-pop purveyor HÅN (Giulia Fontana) is ready to hit 2019 with her melodic melodrama. The first single from her upcoming EP is ‘gymnasion’ - and no I didn’t spell that wrong.
‘Gymnasion’ is the original latin, and she says of the title, "Calling this song 'gymnasion' was a reference both to the place where I met the person in the song and to that period of my life together with the universe of little things I associate it with.”
Her Sapphic vocal lilt wraps around the mid-tempo synths that flit and swell as the chorus builds. “I’d be walking to your house/ as I did years ago/ when our minds were tender”, she sings in her pristinely vulnerable voice that fills you with her enchanting emotion. The spacious and pensive track is sure to crack into your fragile heart.
You don’t have to listen to Cate Le Bon’s music for very long to see why artists like Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox and her DRINKS cohort Tim Presley desire to work with her. Le Bon’s work covers so much emotional and intellectual territory with her music, from whimsy to reflection and surreality. And it’s all anchored by her bewitching vocals, as close to a contemporary Nico as we might ever get.
But if Le Bon’s touch can act as a charm for collaborators, she’s been steadfast about sourcing inspiration primarily from herself. Le Bon seems to know that there must be something beyond the voice to give something potency. It’s what separates the Björks from the Adeles.
Le Bon’s fifth studio album, Reward, isn’t a Homogenic or Vespertine-level masterpiece, but it’s a charming and moving work. First developed while living in isolation in the Lake District of Cumbria, about five hours from her home country of Wales, it wasn’t recorded in isolation, as she received help from the likes of Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Josh Klinghofferm, but there are no signs of others determining the trajectory of Le Bon’s sound. If anything, Reward has positively cemented her signature style.
And what is Le Bon’s signature style? You know it when you hear it, but you have to hear it first. It takes a special talent to be able to present an unmistakable sound but still leave you surprised. Calling an artist creative can seem like faint praise, as anyone who’s seen an Ed Wood film can attest. Le Bon is an auteur who avoids the complacency that could come with such a title. Not every track on Reward is as impressive as the pity party of ‘Daylight Matters’, with its angelic “I love you” chorus, or the mournful ‘Here It Comes Again’ (“I borrowed love from carnivals”), but all ten of them carve out their own special world.
Speaking of carving, part of Le Bon’s time in Cumbria was spent handcrafting wood furniture. Reward might not be the kind of music Ron Swanson would gravitate to (his woodworking and more emotionally-stunted alter-ego Nick Offerman hopefully would), but it has patience and resilience, both in words and arrangements, that she hopefully channeled into her newfound craft. Much of the album is spent examining wounds before they have the chance to become scars. Opener ‘Miami’ is a reflection on changes, with chiming synths, whispering strums, and saxophone that fills in space. It’s more than a minute before Le Bon’s vocals enter, but the melodies are so poignant, you hardly mind; there’s even a subtle aquatic feel, as the song moves like steady waves.
Le Bon is one of the last artists you might expect to be named in conjunction with Tyler, the Creator, but Reward has some thematic similarities with the rapper’s IGOR. However, it’s got far more character and things to say about heartbreak. Few tracks aim for the tear ducts; even if the refrain to closer ‘Meet the Man’ is sung with unabashed vulnerability, the off-kilter synth notes keep things from ever coming close to saccharine. The concluding lines, “Love is beautiful to me/ Love is you,” are absolutely earned.
Such a moment is earned in part because of how well she phrases earlier musings. The mannered art pop of ‘The Light’ is elevated by lines like, “Holding the door to my own tragedy/ Take blame for the hurt/ but the hurt belongs to me.” Le Bon also finds room for getting eccentric with her compositions, like with the choppy sax and rapidly-shifting volume of the vocals on ‘Mother’s Mother’s Magazines’ (the closest thing here to a DRINKS song), and the playful refrain of “drip drip drip” in the refrain of ‘Magnificent Gestures’.
Reward could easily exist in a decade long since past but become a hidden gem, along the lines of Linda Perhac’s Parallelograms or Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond Day. Thanks to streaming, far more people will be able to hear it, but word still needs to get out about it and the rest of her catalogue - a talent like Le Bon is far too special to be taken for granted.
Last year, we had Eoin French (aka Talos) on the podcast for the first time, where he beautifully shared how music entered his life. It brings us great joy to have him on again, this time to discuss his latest album, Far Out Dust. On his previous album, Wild Alee, it was difficult to imagine where Talos could go but on Far Out Dust, Talos has completely shattered and excelled all expectations. It’s an album that shows a true devotion to the craft of music; where electronic ambient sounds meld with organic textures in ways you couldn’t imagine. Ken Grand-Pierre links up again with Talos to discuss how this project came to be and how he's handled making music full-time.
“It was such an intense blur, it was really full on.”