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Saturday, July 10, 2021

Fresh sounds from Shawna Caspi, Inhaler, The Record Company, The High Loves and Aurora

Shawna Caspi: Lay Low Shadow

Persevering through pandemic isolation at home in Toronto, this singer-songwriter (and visual artist) managed to put together her most ambitious and personal album to date, to be released next month. Our listeners are familiar with Caspi's crystal clear, expressive voice and fingerstyle guitar work - often heard with minimal accompaniment on her previous recordings. This first single from Hurricane Coming features a full band, with reverberating electric guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and backing vocals, giving it a country-tinged rock sound. The lyric reflects a struggle to overcome anxiety: "Every time I trip up / That's your cue to reappear." Caspi explains: "I keep thinking that I've left it in the past, but in reality, it will always be close by. ... I need to acknowledge that feeling and learn to create a healthy dialogue with it that removes the element of fear."

Inhaler: It Won't Always Be Like This

This is the title track from the Dublin-based quartet's debut album. It's also a re-recording of a song they issued as a single in 2019. The band tells NME it was written more than a decade ago about a breakup, but the title phrase "earned richer meaning last year when the world shut down and all we could do was wait it out." The magazine says the track provides "a galvanising introduction that sets the tone for the record that follows: full of defiance, optimism and plenty of guitars." Guitarist and lead singer Eli Hewson (son of Bono) is joined by bassist Robert Keating, guitarist Josh Jenkinson and drummer Ryan McMahon. “We started writing this [album] when we were teenagers and now we’re adults,” says Keating. “I wanted the songs to feel positive,” adds Hewson. “Because… it won’t always be like this.”
On their forthcoming, third album, Play Loud, the LA-based trio "stretches out artistically and explores [its] far-flung influences," according to its publicists. Bassist Alex Stiff says: "On the first two albums, people might have thought we were three guys who sit around a campfire, praying to Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, and we're not. We're three different guys with different musical tastes. It's time for all of us to show our individuality, and this record shows us evolving." But the band's rootsy rock sound remains recognizable. Mixes well with: The Black Keys. 

The High Loves: Call Me Back

We bounce back to Toronto to find this alt-rock five-piece preparing to release Too Much of a Good Thing, its first full-length album. Lead singer and guitarist Noah Monckton says: "The song is about coming to the end of a relationship with someone you love, and the realization that the relationship might not have been healthy for either of you." The band got to play this song live exactly once before the pandemic shut down music venues. "Lockdown allowed us to really stress about the little details of the arrangement; we had time to perfectly craft a very tight, high energy 'bop' ... The music is high-energy and a ton of fun, although the lyrics are pretty melancholy on their own. This juxtaposition helps give the song some of its magic."

Aurora: Cure For Me

Veering off in a different direction, as we like to do, we pick up the latest electro-pop single from this Norwegian singer-songwriter-producer. "I don't need a cure for me," she sings. As she explains in a press release: “Sometimes I feel like the whole world is trying to convince you something is wrong with you. And sadly, often people believe this to be true. ...  I think it’s about time we shut those voices out. ... We should be allowed to be human. And we don’t need a cure for it.”

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