The Hit List – March 2021

The Hit List - March 2021

Here’s the latest round of February and March releases. As we progress into 2021 many artists now appear to be getting more political. Well I feel that anyway. There are still the usual flaky pop tunes still flying around of course. But I have tried my best to navigate a path through the ever present landfill indie as it’s called in the trade. And instead, bring you some of the more interesting material that’s around at the present moment.

By the Screaming Target

Aerial East – Try Harder
Album out now via Partisan Records

The album begins with the single “Try Harder” with its relentless keyboards sounding
like waves slowly finding itself to an inland sanctuary. It’s a blissful experience for sure.

Sorry for the poetic interlude there couldn’t resist. Listening to Try Harder we are entering a serious chill zone here. And in time, if there’s any justice in the world, this will probably be seen as a serious contender for one of the best post-lockdown chill out albums possibly?

For the album Ariel East draws upon memories of her teenage years in a suburban Texas, the songs touching on themes of alienation. The hope is that people can connect in some way through the record. The album appears to drift between country songs and ethereal excursions defined as desert folk in the artist’s history. Certain tracks have a traditional country feel to them. “Things we build” fits this bill but it’s not a completely unpleasant experience y’know.

“I love dick” (don’t ask) the second single, is another winner with moody strings which sort of drifts in and out in an ethereal way, creating that desert landscape we spoke about earlier. This shifting of styles gives the album a nomadic quality reflecting East’s life growing up, first in Europe and then moving on to Texas.

I mentioned in the last batch of reviews, that the lockdown appears to be having an effect, not just in people’s living situations. But also reflecting the musical experience as well. I see it in my friends musical situations, it’s definitely changing the way many musicians approach their now changed environment. And perhaps as a consequence of this there seems to be a plethora of laid back ethereal material available at the moment.

An artist that comes to mind is “Maple Glider”, recently signed to Partisan records she shares stylistic characteristics to East, who also adopts a world weary country style. This is reflected not only in the music, but the content of the promotional movies as well. The video is shot in a cinéma vérité style, giving a sense of reflected memory perhaps, or stream of consciousness. This moves through the non linear narrative of the video which seems to suit the ethereal style of the musical content.

Middle Kids – Cellophane (Brain)
Single from their upcoming album
Via Lucky Number / Spotify

Sydney based three piece “Middle Kids” takes us for a walk through alt pop territory in the new single taster for their album “Today We’re The Greatest”, out on March 19 via Lucky Number. The song constantly shifts in time and feeling turning into an emotional roller-coaster. This was the intention of the band in an attempt to move into darker territories in terms of song production. Trying through the medium of music to highlight various extreme states such as anxiety and feelings of negativity. It certainly does that to my mind, can’t wait for the album.

Oxygyn – Mercy
New single via Soundcloud / Spotify

Maltese Indie pop outfit OXYGYN have produced a brilliant electro-pop single “Mercy”, it’s catchy and well produced with brilliant vocals and instrumentation. Fingers crossed it will hopefully push them into the spotlight. It’s interesting that they seem to be influenced by French Cold Wave. A genre popular in the late Seventies OXYGYN seem to successfully fuse the modern with the historic to produce this uber pop record.

The song focuses on social issues which at this point a year ago occupied people’s thoughts and actions. Now though, due to the change in circumstances important issues have just become wallpaper in our busy and increasingly stressed lives. The band point out in the song and video that radical movements such as climate change and Black Lives Matter, have become lost or unfocused. Due in part to overriding other political issues, such as Covid or Brexit, in themselves of course, they are of grave importance as well, but appear to have neatly overridden everything else on the political agenda.

The band then seeks not just a listening audience but a reflective one, which to my mind is brilliant. I think many bands, as mentioned in the last review, are beginning to be politicised on what has occurred in the past twelve months. Young people are becoming more aware of how politics is affecting their everyday lives. This is an interesting turn around for both culture and politics and bodes well for a more interesting set of musical contributions to come.

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