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Saturday, July 31, 2021

New Music from Strand of Oaks, Cosmic Guilt, Ålesund, Eliza Shaddad, Inhaler now in our mix

Strand of Oaks: Galacticana

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Tim Showalter says he wrote this song at the start of the pandemic. "Those were sad and scary times, and I just wanted to make it positive instead of negative," he told NPR. The opening lyric -- "I believe that ecstasy happens when we all get together" -- seems perfectly timed, as live concerts begin to happen again. "Standing right in front of me, feeding off the energy together / Looking for identity, freaking out a little bit together." The single is the first to spin out from the next Strand of Oaks album, Heaven, due in October.

Cosmic Guilt: Sun In Your Eyes

Photo by Jeremy Pero
This single precedes the debut album by a 10-piece ensemble that Philadelphia music site The Key calls "a supergroup of some of Philly’s most treasured alt / roots rock players." The blog describes this track as "a complex, shimmering soundscape interpolated with rhythmic slides and languid guitar riffs." Group leader James Everhart has played in more raucous rock bands such as Low Cut Connie, but says he "grew up listening to British folk music like Fairport Convention and Pentangle, Nick Drake. I started listening to Wilco and Uncle Tupelo at a really early age. ... And I’ve always had a penchant toward wanting to record music like that."

Ålesund: Rhythm

Although sharing the name of a city in Norway, this alt-pop quartet is based in Bristol, UK. It just released its third EP, A Thread In The Dark, created by remote collaboration during the pandemic. Songwriter and vocalist Alba Torriset says the lyrics were also influenced by lockdown: "The usual hustle and bustle of life can drown things out, but with everything and everyone stopping, it brought a magnificent clarity. Hearing the birds sing, watching the trees blossom, following the cycles of the full moon. Thinking more about what is real, what is important, human instincts, human interactions, the natural world and how we all work together within it."

Eliza Shaddad: The Woman You Want

Growing up in various parts of Europe, the U.K. and Africa, this Sudanese-Scottish singer-songwriter absorbed musical influences ranging from Celtic folk to traditional Sudanese music. According to AllMusic, after a year studying jazz at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she performed in and around the city and issued an EP, then joined electro-classical outfit Clean Bandit, adding to her eclectic musical background. The Woman You Want is her second solo LP, and we're featuring the title track. Shaddad says the album "is a record of me figuring myself out. ... I'd been wrestling with the idea of wanting to be a better human, a better woman, a better wife, better friend, better daughter ... and not really feeling capable of it ... and the so the title, and title song, came out as a direct challenge really, to me, and to the listener."

Inhaler: Totally

We previously featured two singles from the Dublin band's debut LP, It Won't Always Be Like This - the title track and "When It Breaks." With the release of the full album, we dip in deeper and pull out this track. NME calls it one of the collection's standouts, "powered by groove-inflected basslines and shimmering synths, boasting the kind of robust sound you’d usually expect from an established band who have been trying to challenge themselves, and their fans, for decades."

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