Every few weeks (two to be exact) Fika Recordings shares new music with us from the forthcoming Little Hands of Asphalt LP. Last time out, I think I finally clicked on why I love the way Sjur crafts his songs, even going so far as to compare the tunes to my favorite John K. Samson. Here, there’s one track that still has that inclination, but on “Writing About Music,” there’s great arrangement work that really builds on the song’s emotional pull; I love how it’s almost broken down to bare bones before bounding off with buoyant strings and rolling drum work to close the song out. We’re still about a month away from the March 27th release date of Half Empty, and I’m every bit as excited…hope you are too!
When Standard Fare called it a day, Emma Kupa moved on to from Mammoth Penguins. I’ve been a huge fan from day one, and There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win was one of my favorite LPs last year. All that said, I’ve never caught the band live, so I’m more than excited to finally get to see them at SXSW this year. We caught up with the group real quick to grab some answers to our little interview.
Oh…and if you’re so inclined…it’s tough to get bands from the UK to the US, so you can help by buying some Mammoth Penguins merch HERE.
You can pretty much guarantee that anything coming out via Fika Recordings is going to get my support; I’ve already encouraged you to give a listen to The Little Hands of Asphalt with the first singles. But, here, we have two really striking numbers, elevating my anticipation for the release of Half Empty. Honestly, both these songs remind me a lot of the Weakerthans (or John K solo stuff). “No Reception” has that upbeat energy, though you can still hear the penchant for pop sensibility. On the flipside, you’ve got “Drinking Song,” which is more of an intimate ballad that is sure to endear itself to any listener. I’m just all about these tunes; Half Empty is out on March 27th.
I’m not sure where I first stumbled upon Darren Hayman, but his songwriting has been ever-present since that time, whether that’s part of Hayman Kupa Band, his solo work, or just revisiting Hefner; he’s always hanging about in my rotations. Barely a few months after the ambitious 12 Astronauts, Hayman has just announced Home Time with this playful little single. The track revolves around two lyrical lines, and that’s it; still, the thematic element kind of encourages you to get up and try and try again, no matter what the outcome…that seems to be the nature of all our lives, making sense of our failures. Home Time will be out this Spring via Fika Recordings.
The great thing about the labels left in the world is that you can always rely upon the tried-and-true ones, like Fika Recordings. By and large, they release a lot of stuff I already love, but sometimes they bring up something I adore that I wasn’t even aware of, like The Little Hands of Asphalt. It’s the project of Sjur Lyseid of Norway, who has been mostly quiet since 2012, working behind the scenes in studios, rather than up front. Today, Fika shared two beautiful pop gems that will appear on the new album, Half Empty. There’s a fragility in these two tunes that I didn’t know I missed, so I wanted to be sure and share those with you today. The new album should be out on March 27th.
I’m glad the musical world hasn’t stopped just because year end listing is in full swing, as we wouldn’t have been gifted this glorious pop number from the Just Joans. For me, this song’s all about the vocal constructs that give the tune success. Don’t get me wrong, the track has the right musical punch where necessary, but it’s definitely the delivery of the lyrics. They definitely have that sort of disaffected youth or perhaps that sort of deadpan melancholy, but the “wee guys” choral backing track really makes the song something more than memorable. Just imagine if Arab Strap wanted to be a proper rock band. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of the Just Joans will be out on January 10th via Fika Recordings.
I knew without even listening to this great Fortitude Valley tune that it would rule. The project stems from the mind of Laura Kovic, who played keys in Tigercats (a band that rules), but she grabbed members from Martha and Night Flowers (more bands that rule), so you knew, knew…it was going to be good. I was absolutely right, as the song starts slow, building in the natural movement over Kovic’s warm voice; I love how the fuzzy guitar shoots off in the distance behind the more purposeful licks in the very front. I was charmed right away, but the big hook comes around the 2 minute mark when extra backing vocals are included to really pull on your pop strings. As of right now, the band are wrapping up their debut, so here we are on proverbial pins and needles.
Feel like I’ve been away from really broad sweeping pop music for a minute, but when I hear the Just Joans, they bring me back to a safe place, a place shared by like-minded American acts like the Magnetic Fields. Everything they do is witty, and often self-deprecating, but it’s also the finer details in their craft that make their songs so lovable. Here, it’s the sort of forlorn sentiment of the track that brings that wry smile to your face when you discover it truly is a love song. I think the vocal interplay is quite successful too, balancing out the narrative approach of the tune. Fans of orchestral pop and clever lyricisms will surely feel right at home with this tune; I expect the same from the group’s new album, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of the Just Joans, out January 2020 via Fika Recordings.
Admittedly, Withered Hand wasn’t on my radar until Slumberland Records helped released New Gods; I then, of course, went back to pick up Good News, his first album. Where is this going, you ask? Well, four songs off of Good News have been re-recorded with accompanying strings, and it seems fitting that we share those, if and only to share our affinity for Dan Wilson’s craft…not to mention the great labels that are sharing in this release, WIAIWYA and Fika Recordings. The below song is a great example of the emotional pull that can be added via string accompaniment, and man, throwing that in with a Wilson penned tune is likely to make me cry. Except I can’t because it’s cold here, like my heart. The Ten Years EP is officially out on December 20th.
I’m a big Just Joans fan, and when the Glasgow popped back up a few years ago, I was really excited, clamoring for the new hits. Today, a new song popped up on the Internet, so why not point you in that direction. At first take, I immediately thought the band were covering the Magnetic Fields; it’s a slow moving pop number built on the Katie Pope’s vocals and the arrangements behind her. It’s just a perfect little nugget; there’s no need for any percussion, as Pope carries the song in striking fashion; I will admit to being drawn to the horn work hanging out in the distant background. No release date as of yet, but it looks like Fika Recordings will be handling this release.