cut the kid will be the first album by phoneswithchords, stage name of Arthur Alligood, singer songwriter from Tennessee. He defines his debut album, which will be released on cassette on the fabulous Z Tapes on May 13th, as “songs about stuff that happened.” And Z Tapes gave us an absolutely incredible bedroom songwriter. His songs are understated and, frankly, just magnificent. Intimate, honest stories of lost love, just total heartbreakers. Arthur Alligood aka phoneswithchords takes you to a pure beautiful homely world. All the songs on his debut album were recorded in his living room on a really old Mac computer with a cheap microphone and an even cheaper parlor guitar named Blanche. Enough said. Just listen!
Birds In The Brickwork is the new instrumental project of self taught multi-instrumentalist and producer Benjamin Thomas Holton, who hails from England’s landlocked Staffordshire. Benjamin is a founding member with Rob Glover of the magnificent epic45, which, in the last two decades, released a series of widely celebrated EPs and albums, inspired by their surroundings and the ever-changing English landscape. He is also the mastermind behind the dream-pop and folk project My Autumn Empire, which released six records (five on his own label Wayside & Woodland and one for Sound In Silence) from 2010 to 2018. Ben has previously worked with July Skies, Bibio, Stephen Jones (Babybird), Hood and Ian Crause (Disco Inferno). As well as playing live with Mick Turner (Dirty Three), The Fauns and Riley Walker. Birds In The Brickwork, his latest solo project, focuses on the idea, which was central to the epic45 concept and poetics, of nature and the inescapable man-made landscape in further ways, via the medium of music and photography. In Novembre 2021 the first Bird In The Brickworks’ project, Twelve Monthswas out: a collection of twelve tracks, one for each month of the year, to accompany a calendar from Ben Holton’s photography. Recovery, an album and collection of photographs that document the beginning of the recovery process following a severe back problem, is out now on Wayside & Woodland.
Italian-born Marta Del Grandi is an eclectic singer songwriter gathering influences from near and far to create a unique genre-splicing style, a jazz vocalist originally, now travelling her own unique and unchartered path. Marta studied Jazz Vocals at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, she visited China, then Nepal where she taught at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory, before returning to Italy where she unpacked the influences and inspirations she’d soaked up. Re-connecting with old sparring partners and collaborators along the way, she met new like-minded souls and developed a plan that had first been ignited in Kathmandu’s rarefied air where she re-imagined her relationship with music and its with her. From there, songs became soundtracks, patterns emerged, vocals drifted over electronic synths, classical structures and ambient soundwaves ran abreast; strange nuances of texture evolved. Her vocal style matured; became folky, West Coast, ethereal, pronounced, enveloped, exotic, explorative, a chameleon-like presence counter-balancing her music. Marta Del Grandi has studied the fine art of songwriting, drawing from the wonderment of life, she weaves stories of marine fossils at the peak of the Himalayas, myths around precious stones and species on the brink of extinction. Morricone-esque in structure, with a hint of David Lynch, her music is playful and evocative. Signed to Fire Records, she released her debut album for the label, Until We Fossilize, on November 5th, 2021.
Poet and songwriter Jenny Berkel’s forthcoming new album, These Are the Sounds Left from Leaving is set for release on May 13th via Outside Music. Each song is set in the micro-world of a keen feeling observer, trying to parse a mindful moment in a setting where it feels impossible to drop a truth anchor – a post-Trump, heavily gaslit world where perceptions of reality remain distorted. “I wrote the album in a tiny apartment, at a time when everything felt big and overwhelming,” says Berkel about her new album. “The songs themselves are a study of proximity, bringing big fears into small spaces,” says Jenny, reflecting on the album. “They’re intimate examinations of a world that often overwhelms.” The album features contributions from critically acclaimed folk duo Kacy & Clayton, and string arrangements by Colin Nealis (Andy Shauf)—and for the first time, Jenny took on a production role, co-producing alongside Dan Edmonds and Ryan Boldt (The Deep Dark Woods). “I wanted the songs to feel like living creations that capture a living moment,” says Jenny about envisioning the recording process. “I wanted that theme of big fears in small spaces to be heard and felt as a coexistence of intimacy and menacing permeability.” Jenny Berkel released so far two records (and an EP) and a chapbook, Grease Dogs, with Baseline Press.
U.S. Highball is a Glasgow-based two-piece consisting of long-time best friends Calvin Halliday and James Hindle. Their debut album, Great Record, arrived in 2019, while taking a break from playing together in The Pooches, Its follow-up, Up to High Doh, wasout in 2020 and now the pair have returned with A Parkhead Cross Of The Mind. It’s their third record for Philadelphia’s Lame-O Records and second in collaboration with Yorkshire-based upstarts, Bingo Records. Recorded entirely at home during Scotland’s third lockdown period, A Parkhead Cross of the Mind picks up almost directly where Up to High Doh left off. Lyrically, the record deftly expands on Hindle and Halliday’s distinctive and comically fatalistic worldview. Nestled within the record’s twelve melodic nuggets are ruminations on unrequited love and professional tennis, alongside off-kilter odes to heroes like Neil Young and Frank Sidebottom. A Parkhead Cross Of The Mind sees jangly college rock guitars twinned with the addictive chug and fuzz of classic ‘70s power pop, all tethered by earworm basslines and propulsive programmed drums. Among their influences the duo follows the Scottish indie pop tradition and they cite The Pastels or early Teenage Fanclub, along with the Sarah Records roster.