kate teague – “in our element”

– featured image courtesy of ben davis –

the oxford, mississippi-based singer-songwriter kate teague continues her impressive streak of singles with “in our element,” delivered on the eve of her inaugural voyage to SXSW.

on “in our element,” teague’s lead vocal swoons in tandem with a melancholic guitar counter-melody, the ends of phrases evaporating in wisps of echo and solidifying the track’s slow-burning aesthetic. it’s another notched victory for teague, who keeps sharpening her songwriting chops with every new single and stoking anticipation for the day her full-length finally arrives.

“in our element” is out now via muscle beach records. take a listen below.

kate teague – “gilly”

– featured image courtesy of graham hamaker – 

oxford, mississippi’s kate teague has had a quiet but impactful year so far, her two singles, “low life” and “good to you,” offering a compelling glimpse at a forthcoming debut album.  with that album slowly approaching the horizon, teague today has unveiled another strong sample size of her syrupy, affecting guitar pop.

“gilly” proves itself a worthy successor, its saturated guitar arpeggios and prominent bass line intertwined over a steady mid-tempo groove.  at its core, “gilly” is an ode to a friend, full of reassurances and doused in just the right amount of tremolo, with teague embracing a future-facing mantra: “tomorrow’s man will be all in.”  take a listen below.

interview – kate teague

– featured image courtesy of benjamin davis 

the oxford, mississippi songwriter kate teague tested the waters early this year with “low life,” a commanding debut single that has resonated throughout 2018.  thankfully, the track was less a one-off and more of a placeholder, tiding over an audience while teague prepared her first solo full-length, due in the coming months via muscle beach records.

today, teague returns with “good to you,” ramping up anticipation for her album’s impending release.  as compelling as its predecessor while charting new sonic territory, “good to you” relies on a robust rhythm section and a stuttering guitar motif for a foundation, the song’s title swirling as a repeated pledge throughout its chorus.

in a recent conversation via e-mail, teague spoke about writing her debut effort, oxford’s arts community, and the excellent cut “good to you.”  check out the transcript, alongside her new single, below.

this solo project came about after your previous group, reels, disbanded.  do you perceive any conscious shift in writing style from your former project to your present one?

in terms of my own writing style, not particularly.  i still generally write the chord progression and melody line first before bringing it to my bandmates who help flesh it out.  i think the difference is that i have a much better grasp on my own sound and how to articulate that sound to my band.

to that end, were there any touchstones you found yourself returning to for inspiration and influence while recording this batch of tunes?

maybe not directly, but ive been listening to copious amounts of fog lake, pure x, grouper, land of talk, chris cohen… im sure im spacing on some other essentials ive had this past year.

my main exposure to oxford has been through muscle beach, who are putting out your album later this year, but I suspect the town’s music scene is rather vibrant.  can you speak to your experience within that community?

absolutely.  oxfords arts community is the reason i stayed here after college.  everyone is incredibly supportive of local artists, and the town is small enough to where you have a grasp on the art that is being made around you.  i feel like oxford is an incubator for independent artists.  i dont know if that boils down to the fact that we are a college town, or because we are a literary town, or if mississippis vast musical history has something to do with it, but all i have to say is that i am so thankful that i chose to start my musical career here.

your latest track, “good to you,” is out today; is there anything you’d like to share about its genesis and/or construction?  

im really excited that we chose “good to you” as our first single because it was written in an unconventional way, for me at least.

i sent a piano chord progression to adam porter, my bassist (also starman, jr.), who helped me develop a cool drum beat.  we brought that basic demo to the studio and ended up fleshing it out there.  i loved the fact that everyone really had to rely on their own creative instincts, and you can hear those influences very directly on the track.  i didn’t end up write the lyrics until after i had the rough mixes back and it felt like i was making up words on top of a karaoke track.  that part was challenging but ultimately super satisfying.

kadhja bonet – “mother maybe”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

kadhja bonet gained acclaim with her 2015 extended play the visitorreissued the following year by the oxford, mississippi label fat possum records.  the los angeles-based singer-songwriter has spent the subsequent time hard at work on a follow-up full-length, childqueen.

the album’s lead single, “mother maybe,” is a vibrant slice of elastic soul, a rubbery bass line bouncing through the contours of bonet’s lead vocal.  bonet’s diction is likewise snappy throughout, and she effortlessly stretches into the stratosphere of her vocal range as the track reaches its apex.

childqueen is out june 8th via fat possum records.  listen to “mother maybe” below.

the mary onettes – “juna”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

this fall seems to be a prime time for swedish indie-pop stalwarts to re-emerge.  on the heels of the radio dept.’s first album in six years comes new music from their labrador label-mates, the mary onettes, as well.  the quartet’s first single in over a year, “juna,” is the focal point of an oxford television campaign called cool robot, and is currently enjoying the generous hosting of the inimitable cascine.

with its crystalline synth arpeggios and gentle percussive propulsion, “juna” is anthemic and inspiring in just the right ways.  take a listen to the track below.

chad valley – entirely new blue

out october 2nd via cascine

break-up albums are a dime a dozen; there’s no skirting around that fact.  the bevy of emotions available for dissection are second only to perhaps the subject of death, but the prospect of lost love can at least offer some more surface-level optimism.  rarer is the good break-up album; wallowing in self-pity tastes stale very quickly, and male artists have the capacity to rely on extended misogynistic passages that all but incriminate them in the relationship’s demise.  throughout chad valley’s gorgeous new album entirely new blue, hugo manuel is on the outside smartly looking in at lost romance, offering up a mixture of soft apologies, poignant reflections, and firm resolutions.

manuel meets this complex spectrum of emotions head-on almost immediately with “true.”  the second cut on the album is its first cohesive thought and is predicated on the returning phrase “my mind is all but made up,” the key portion being the word “all.”  manuel shifts from pleas for forgiveness to a proclamation of unclouded vision throughout the song; by the end of “true,” his principle statement is adamant.

entirely new blue should also be commended on the quality and diversity of its production, which runs the gamut from spectacularly downtrodden to joyously buoyant, not necessarily in tandem with its lyrical counterpart.  the sputtering backbeat and intermittent synth stabs throughout “arms away” seemingly ready the track for the dance floor, though it – along with fellow earworm “not that man” – feature testaments of self-examination that bely their major-key exteriors.  a more predictable alignment occurs on ballad centerpiece “seventeen,” though through the outward gloom emerges a rather surprising and encouraging phrase: “i’m much happier than you think.”

chad valley has always felt like a detail-oriented project, and entirely new blue is no exception.  the vocal layering gets more and more impressive with every listen, be it manuel harmonizing with himself over the same lyrical material, slowly bringing simultaneous and contrasting thoughts into the foreground of the mix, or dueting with someone else entirely on “labasa” and “good brains.”  the album’s concise nature has already been touched on, but this attribute extends down to the tracks themselves; even longer cuts like “seventeen” and “labasa” retain freshness with sudden introductions of pulse and subtle shifts in timbre.

by the time album closer “alisa” hits, entirely new blue seems like it should have traversed the waters of a break up and emerged on the other shore victorious; instead, “alisa” is manuel’s most impassioned, direct plea yet, its vulnerability contrasting the track’s surging, anthemic qualities.  and maybe that’s the whole point; maybe entirely new blue is a stark reminder of the harshness and non-linear progression of reality, but the beauty of chad valley is manuel’s ability to saturate these faults in warm, soothing polychrome.  entirely new blue is entirely therapeutic.  listen.

listen to a new song from chad valley

photo courtesy of lucy bridger

chad valley is the moniker of oxford singer-songwriter hugo manuel, who’s prepping the release of his sophomore album entirely new blue, out october 2nd via cascine.  firmly anchoring the final third of the album is “seventeen,” a tender ballad that doubles as a gut-wrenching reminder of how devastating a relationship’s end can be.  empathy is instantaneous, as manuel laments “my life is littered with my own mistakes / the memories encircled are a waste” in the song’s opening, but “seventeen” feels increasingly therapeutic as more instruments are slowly guided into the texture, as manuel gradually moves towards self-reconciliation protected by an army of synthesizers.  still, as the final line suggests, some semblance of longing never fully disappears.  listen to “seventeen” below.