Tag Archives: night school records

Check Out New Tracks from Mr. Twin Sister, Papercuts, Lithics, Molly Nilsson and Rat Columns

The past several weeks have seen the release of many great new tracks, from artists both known and loved, and new. Here are a few to get started on, with more to follow. 

Mr. Twin Sister, “Jaipur” (Self-Released)

Up first, New York’s Mr. Twin Sister, who return with, “Jaipur”, their first new music since 2016 and our favorite – if we must choose – of three (!) new tracks to emerge over this past summer (“Power of Two” and “Echo Arms” the others). “Jaipur” is a beguiling reentry, retaining the suave r&b/‘baby-making music’ sound of 2014’s self-titled effort, all swelling strings and lush vocals – but the storm here feels anything but quiet. All that smooth is jarred by a sped up Bollywood tempo and horn blasts, reflecting a more jittery, self-conscious take on love – anxiously looking for it, while simultaneously fearing that, once found, you’ll just fuck it up and run away, disappointing both the other and yourself.

It’s unclear whether any of these new tracks will be included as part of a forthcoming long-player, but take your chance to hear them live on the band’s upcoming tour, beginning October 18 in Allston, MA. 

Rat Columns, “Sometimes We’re Friends” (Slumberland)

Another welcome return, this one courtesy of Rat Columns, the recording project revolving around David West, who we’ve previously gushed over thanks to their sublime 2017 album, Candle Power. 

“Sometimes We’re Friends” is released as part of a year-long tribute in honor of Slumberland Records’ 30th anniversary. Riding in on a lovely jangle, the track captures the same effortless charm as found on the album, with the kind of road-weary romanticism of bands like The Go-Betweens, Prefab Sprout and the Blue Nile married to an early Cure style guitar chug, uncoiling into an extended and repeated chorus. It’s fantastic, and hopefully means there’s a new full-length coming soon. 

Papercuts, “Laughing Man” (Slumberland)

San Francisco’s Jason Quever returns with Papercuts, bringing the kind of vertiginous psych/dream pop that made us believers on 2009’s You Can Have What You Want. “Laughing Man” was the first of the new tracks we heard (followed closely by “Sing to Me Candy”), and it grabbed us immediately with it’s “Be My Baby”ish beat and woozy harmonies. Sweetly melancholy vocals describing someone “staring into space”, gripped by a memory they “can’t face”, before requesting we be upstanding not for the mayor of simpleton, but the laughing man.

The track will appear on Papercuts’ forthcoming new album, Parallel Universe Blues, due October 19 on Slumberland.

Molly Nilsson, “Slice of Lemon” (Dark Skies Association; Night School)

Another returning fave – this time, Molly Nilsson shares “Slice of Lemon” from her forthcoming full-length, 2020 (that’s the lyric video, above). It’s another world-beating slice (sorry) of new wave-flecked sophistipop. Riding a woozy synth and laconic beat, Nilsson’s lyrical focus feels placed on the beginning and end of a relationship, viewed through the eyes and ice of the narrator and the other – there’s a pang of wistfulness, but without regret. The track feels simultaneously new and like the song that could have soundtracked an alternate version of the denouement to “Sixteen Candles”, in which Sam eats the birthday cake alone, bummed it didn’t work out with Jake, but ultimately ok with it.

2020 is released November 2 on the ever-amazing Night School Records and Nilsson’s own Dark Skies Association imprint. Follow along on fbook, where you can find Nilsson’s upcoming tour dates in the EU and North America.

Lithics, “Photograph, You of” (Thrilling Living)


Back in May, Portland, OR’s Lithics put out one of our favorite records of the year in the form of Excuse Generator. Last month, the band released a one-off single on the Oakland-based Thrilling Living label, and it’s every bit as vitally abrasive. The a-side is a fantastic continuation of Excuse Generator’s tetchy and tuneful post-punk, sneeringly cool vocals playing off the rambling rhythm and jagged one-two guitar lines. B-side, “Lost Signal” brings a kind of Devo meets Television vibe sure to invoke full body shakealongs on the dance floor. One of the best band’s going right now, no doubt.

Grab a copy of the single here. Excuse Generator is out now, on Kill Rock Stars.

The Sum of Molly Nilsson’s “Imaginations” are a Revelation

Molly Nilsson, Imaginations (Night School/Dark Skies Association)


“On and on/some things are stopping us from proving them wrong/when they tell you the skies are grey/but looking through a glass of rosé/the skies are clearly pink”

Molly Nilsson is a musician/vocalist/producer originally hailing from Stockholm but now based in Berlin.  Imaginations is her seventh full-length release (to go with a few EPs and singles).

Throwback 80s signifiers abound on Imaginations, but it doesn’t feel derivative.  Rather, it’s an absolutely mesmerizing collection of pop music that’s only ‘indie’ in the sense that it’s likely far too interesting to be played on commercial radio.

Much of 80s popular culture – music, film, video – depicted the accumulation, loss and/or showing off of stuff – status as a means of seduction.  Having lived through it, I know there was depth there for those who sought it out, but such is the collective remembrance that much of what is retained is the Rolex, the Armani suit, the several car garage as the means to whatever end.  Much of what makes Imagination’s use of many of the musical signposts of this indulgence is their contrast when applied to a modern reality derived, in part, from their consequences.  Songs like “Inner Cities”, “Money Never Dreams” and “Think Pink” feel Springsteenian in their uplifting portraiture of the realities of everyday life, but without teetering into mawkish platitude (pay attention, Killers).  Elsewhere, tracks like opener, “Tender Surrender”, “Memory Foam” and “American Express” exude enough Avalon worthy swank and sultriness to make a pro blush.  But where the suavity of the saxy sax and the glassy chords can often ring hollow, marrying it to Nilsson’s at times raw, often wry, lyricism makes it genuine.  Here, the personal is political, either by encouraging a change of perspective on the grey “inner cities of our lives” by “looking through a glass of rosé” (“Think Pink”), or eschewing ‘champagne, caviar and bubble baths’ for “McDonald’s in bed” (“American Express”).

This is what makes Imaginations so enticing – it’s icy, cool-as-fuck pop veneer belying a warmth, a humanity (Book of Love, a personal fave from back when, was brought to mind).  It’s pop music that likely won’t be anywhere near as popular as it should be.  Borrowing from the title of a track from Nilsson’s 2010’s album, Follow the Light, these are songs they won’t be playing on the radio.  But they should, damn it, they should.

Imaginations is out now, courtesy of the fantastic Night School label and Nilsson’s own Dark Skies Association.  Tour dates are up on Nilsson’s fbook page.

Highlights include: “Memory Foam”; “Tender Surrender”; “Think Pink”; “Modern World”.

“Paradise”, from Glasgow’s AMOR, is a Joy.

AMOR, Paradise 12″ (Night School)

“Calling from paradise/can you get through?”

AMOR is a Glasgow-based quartet comprising Richard Youngs, Luke Fowler, Michael Francis Duch and Paul Thomson – musicians with CVs as long as yer arm.  Their 12″ single, Paradise features an a- and b-side of over 13 minutes:  each summoning late-period disco/early house with the kind of propulsive emotional stamina worthy of an extended Larry Levan workout; each a rapturous hymn performed in a glitter-covered cathedral.

The a-side, title track begins with hand drums accenting a generous, four-on-the-floor beat; a cantering, two-note bassline turning rubbery and new(ly) romantic as it’s joined by ever more insistent, ringing piano chords.  The lyrics set a meditative mood (‘all that this is/is interconnected…all that we know/is misunderstood’), Youngs’ delicate, quavering tenor to falsetto reminding these ears of the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan.  The flip, “In Love an Arc”, also takes time to reveal itself fully, beginning with abstract bowing and thumping before coalescing into another glorious soul-house revival show, a churning, relentless rhythm seeing the titular declaration through to the end.  Get me to the church, on time.

Paradise is set for release March 31, courtesy of Night School; pre-order here. You can stream both tracks over at The Vinyl Factory.

“The Pressure”, Roxanne Clifford’s New Single As Patience, Is a New Wave-Inflected Jewel Box

The "Jewel Box", a cluster of stars in the Southern Cross - see what we did there?

The “Jewel Box”, a cluster of stars in the Southern Cross – see what we did there?

Patience, “The Pressure” (Night School, 9/30/2016)

Patience is the musical alter ego of Roxanne Clifford, formerly the lead singer of – amongst others – the underrated Veronica Falls.  Following on the spring release of debut single “The Church”, her new single is “The Pressure”, and it’s a glorious, new wave-inflected tune recalling Yaz(oo) and early Depeche Mode (think Speak and Spell).  So, basically Vince Clarke, I guess.

Whatever the source material, the song itself is a gem.  Starting with the sound of a receiver tuning – back to the future? (Ed:  ok, stop now) – Clifford’s lightly maudlin voice encourages an ardent former love (and/or, perhaps, herself) to “move on” from the past, while crystalline multi-layered vocal and synthesizer melodies punch shafts of light through the clouds.  It’s enough to make you want to stretch out and twirl ‘round, and it’s fantastic.

“The Pressure”, together with its b-side “Wait for You” (a Roky Erickson cover), is due September 30 on the excellent Night School Records (UK home of CC Dust).  Find out more about Patience here, here and, inevitably, there.  There’s also a great interview with Clifford over at Brooklyn Vegan that’s worth a read.

New Music: CC Dust, Never Going to Die

CC Dust, “Never Going to Die” (Perennial/Night School)

CC Dust is a project involving MaryJane Dunphy, lead singer of frabjulicious Olympia, WA punk band Vexx, and David Jacques.  With “Never Going to Die”, she brings the energy and passion of that band from the pit to the dance floor.

Dunphy here sounds a bit like a combo of Alison Moyet and Lene Lovich, croon-whooping over a long lost 4AD track, with Jacques weaving a Hooky baseline.  The deep echo and reverb overlay on the bass and vintage-sounding programmed beats cloak the song’s glistening new wave bedrock in a bit of a goth and early industrial chill – whatever you want to call it, it’s a well-crafted track as good for dancing to as it is for just being with.

As it is with Vexx, Dunphy’s voice inhabits the song.  Moving from gutteral to delicate and back, it’s physicality caroms around, over and through the melody in a way similar to Dunphy’s live presence (check the video below), further animating the already dramatic arrangement.

Recorded last year, “Never Going to Die” is taken from a forthcoming, 5 track 12” ep, due soon(?) from Perennial (US – preorder here) and Night School (Europe).  Speaking of Europe, CC Dust is playing dates therein (venues included where I could find).

June

5 – Osramhuset, Copenhagen (DK)
7 – Hamburg (DE)
8 – De Gym, Groningen (NL)
9 – Butcher’s Tears, Amsterdam (NL)
10 – Au Picolo, Paris (FR)
11 – DIY Space, London (UK)
12 – Hope & Ruin, Brighton (UK)
13 – Undertone, Cardiff (UK)
14 – Tenterhooks, Dublin (IRE) 
15 – Barcelona, Sala Almo2Bar (SP)
18 – Valencia (SP)
19 – Logroño (SP)
21 – Leeds (UK)
22 – The Poetry Club, Glasgow (UK)
23 – Servant Jazz Quarters, London (UK)
24 – Soup Kitchen, Manchester (UK)
25 – Berlin (DE)
27 – Klub Famu, Prague (CZ)