The eight-piece band Caroline from London combines elements of Appalachian folk, classical minimalism, and even Midwestern emo to create songs that are at once spare and expansive. While the lyrics may be simplistic or even absent altogether, the melodies themselves are captivating. Jasper Llewellyn's soft nylon-string guitar is the tiny seed from which a towering tree slowly and surely grows on their November single "IWR," with almost lullaby-like group vocals encouraging it along: "Somehow / I was right / all along," Caroline insists as the track expands, guitars, bass, and percussion all blossoming. Skydiving onto the library roof was one of the summer's highlights. Oliver Hamilton and Magdalena McLean's violins give the entire song a vivacious, new sheen; by the end, it's almost unrecognizable, like a fearless awakening in a foreign land. On February 25, 2022, Rough Trade will release Caroline, her self-titled debut album, and we can't wait to hear it.
Having a friend read you funny tweets while your roommate practices post-punk basslines has been compared to listening to Cheekface's music. Not to sound critical, but... Songs by this Los Angeles band are typically satirical and funny, with lead singer Greg Katz having the intensity of someone reading a tweet aloud despite having an everyday voice and speaking more than singing. He sings half-crooned in "(I Don't Want to Go to) Calabasas, "Boyfriend with a soul patch / I know, I know, it's serious." As he puts it sarcastically in "Emotional Rent Control," he is "eating like it's Thanksgiving, but without the thanks." Cheekface's jokes are short enough to fit in a tweet, but they still contain all the necessary non-sequiturs and self-deprecating insights, unlike the songs of a previous generation that seemed tailor-made for AIM away messages. Even as I typed it, however, I felt a chill run down my spine: had the advent of social media so profoundly altered my thought process that I now linked song lyrics with tweets instead of the other way around? However, Cheekface could compose a song about such existential despair. This group also has a knack for penning songs about anxious feelings. Therapy Island, their first album, was named after the island where the drug Zoloft was first developed. Popular song "Dry Heat/Nice Town" subtly altered the language of left-wing protest. The follow-up, titled Emphatically No., is tenser, hookier, and oddly enough, more Cheekface.