Posts Tagged ‘Melancholy’

26th January 2022

Christopheer Nosnibor

Elkyn first came to my attention – and, quite frankly, blew me away instantaneously – in his previous iteration as elk, in the spring of 2019, an appreciation that was cemented with the release of the ‘beech’ EP that summer. Since then, Leeds based multi-instrumentalist Joey Donnelly has become elkyn and gone on to craft not only more remarkable songs, but also something of a rarefied space artistically.

In many respects, there’s very little of Joey out in the public domain: press shots tend to be similar in style, and unassuming, and interviews, while interesting in themselves, and while he comes across well, reveal little about the man behind the music. In contrast, his songs are so intensely personal that there’s likely little need to elucidate further: the songs really do speak for him.

Those songs have already earned him airplay on BBC 6Music, BBC Introducing and Radio X, and deservedly so, and now, with a debut album, holy spirit social club, due for release in the spring, elkyn is sharing ‘talon’ as a taster.

Fuller in sound and more up-tempo than previous singles ‘something’ and ‘everything looks darker now’, it’s more akin to ‘found the back of the tv remote’, which found him flexing new muscles and venturing into Twilight Sad kitchen-sink melancholia.

It’s a(nother) magnificently-crafted tune, and it’s clear by now that Joey has a real knack for bittersweetness. The guitar is melodic and imbued with a wistfulness that’s hard to define. There’s a Curesque lilt to it, in the way that when the Cure do pop, it’s somehow sadder and more emotionally touching than then they do gloomy – or is that just me who experiences that sensation where a certain shade of happy just makes me want to cry inexplicably? But more than anything, when Donnelly’s voice enters the mix, I’m reminded of Dinosaur Jr. Joey’s a better singer than J Mascis, but his voice has that same plaintive quality that tugs away and evokes that emotional hinterland between gloom, resignation, and hope.

Donnelly deals in self-doubt, self-criticism and articulations of inadequacy, and this is why his songs are so affecting and relatable. But it’s the hope that shines through on ‘talon’ – thin rays of sun through the closed curtains of despair perhaps, but with a tune this breezy it’s hard to feel anything other than uplifted by the end.

Live dates:

18/03/22 Hyde Park Book Club Leeds

19/03/22 Fulford Arms York

20/03/22 The Castle Manchester

24/03/22 Scale Liverpool

25/03/22 JT Soar Nottingham

26/03/22 The Flapper Birmingham

27/03/22 Duffy’s Leicester

29/03/22 Strongrooms London

30/03/22 Folklore Rooms Brighton

01/04/22 Clifton Community Bookshop

02/04/22 Tiny Rebel Cardiff

Elkyn_@StewartBaxter-98

Pic: Stewart Baxter

Crocodile Records – 26th April 2019

Let’s not deny it: we’re all vain to varying extents. Of course I got a buzz from Amy Studt’s sharing of my review of her last release, ‘I Was Jesus in your Veins’ on Facebook (although more than the buzz, I was genuinely touched by her level of appreciation), and to see Aural Aggravation quoted in the press release for the follow-up – well, that did give me a buzz. That isn’t to say that I crave attention and adulation, and when I say I do this for the love not the money, I mean the love of music, not love I receive for writing all this shit, because, well, it’s not how it is, and I’d kiss a lot more arse if I wanted that kind of adulation and approval.

I’ve digressed before I’ve even begun. ‘Let The Music Play’ is the follow up to ‘I Was Jesus in Your Veins’, and is the second track and chapter in a series of songs that will be released every six weeks and will ultimately make up the overall story / track listing on what Amy’s PR describe as her ‘eagerly awaited new album’, which is ‘a narrative diary of depression, hope and redemption’, and ‘a bold and intimate set of heartfelt songs’ which is set to arrive later this year.

‘Let the Music Play’ begins as an intimate acoustic song, but over its duration, layers up with warping synths and infinite incidentals that coalesce to a rich, dense sonic soup. Amy’s vocal is quavering, quiet, intimate, as she reaches upwards and soars with a joyous freedom tempered by a deep-seated melancholy. A magnificent slow-burner, it’s quite simply a great song.

With some live dates upcoming, the indications are that after some wilderness years and a false start a bit back, Amy’s finally getting her career back on track, and the signs so far for the new album are all shades of positive.

15th July 2018

Recently named ‘artist of the month’ at The Great Frog, former Arrows of Love drummer, film and game soundtracker and artist in his own right, Mike Frank is on a bit of a roll.

He’s written and recorded two albums post-Arrows: ‘This is going to get weird… I’m going to make this weird’, which he describes as ‘a collection of orchestral and experimental film music songs’, and an album featuring Rufus Miller, Lyndsey Lupe and Artur Dyjecinski which is ‘full of dark sounds and Middle Eastern instruments’. Only the former has yet seen the light of day.

A taster of a forthcoming album, ‘All My Possessions’ has no connection with either project, and is infinitely more accessible – I’ll refrain from going so far as to say commercial – than anything we’ve heard from him so far. What’s more, this downtempo yet somehow simultaneously jaunty, jangly indie rock tune, which boasts a really rather catchy chorus, hints further at his songwriting range. With delicate, understated, picked guitar and a bleak croon, the opening resembles Leonard Cohen, and there’s a darkness which shadows the song as a whole.

Bukowski’s influence is rendered explicit in the lifted footage which accompanies the song, which is essentially about the vagabond life of a writer, but also, as he puts it ‘about feeling down and out, lonely or even desperate’ – and you wonder which voice or perspective lines like ‘she’s so good to me / I’m such an asshole’ and ‘I like to drink because I can / It makes me feel like I’m still with the band’ are really coming from.

It’s got a nice slow build that swells subtly to a full finish, and is, as a song, rounded and satisfying. And really very nice, if kinda sad.

AA

Mike Frank

Gizeh Records – GZH67 – 1st April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Last Harbour aren’t exactly renowned for their prolific output. They may have released six albums, but it’s taken the best part of 17 years, and the gap between the last two albums was a full four years. So, for Paler Cities to follow less than a year after their last long player, the immense Caul, feels like a real step-up in terms of momentum. The 7” single is accompanied by a brace of digital-only tracks, and the quality of the material is both consistent and superlative.

They’ve struck a rich seam of gloomy post-punk folk music, and ‘Paler Cities’ indicates a further evolution, showcasing a new-found stripped back approach to the compositions. A tense, chorus-heavy guitar provides a suitably stark backdrop to K Craig’s intonations of mournful longing delivered in his signature cavernous baritone.

Flipside ‘The Curved Road’ is a brooding, introspective effort which goes deep inside while evoking dark late-night imagery and conjuring psychological drama. The stealthy, almost subterranean, wandering bassline really makes it.

The digital tracks are of an equal calibre: ‘A Better Man’ is beautifully lugubrious and understated, dripping with minor-key violin, and with its chiming guitars and sad-sounding string arrangements, the darkly dreamy ‘Witness’, with its sweeping vistas, displays post-rock tendencies (or, more specifically, it echoes I Like Trains at their most melancholy).

There’s an overarching theatricality to the four tracks on offer here, and while they’re downtempo and downbeat, the aching beauty that lies in their shadowy depths is utterly compelling.

 

Last Harbour - Paler

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Last Harbour Online