Now Hear This: New music from Hayley Williams, Pearl Jam and Waxahatchee, plus spotlight artist Eliza Shaddad

In her weekly column, our music correspondent goes through the best new releases of the week

Roisin O'Connor
Friday 24 January 2020 17:06 GMT
Eliza Shaddad
Eliza Shaddad

My Chemical Romance fans have been enjoying a nostalgia trip as tickets for the band’s reunion went on tour this week. For this former emo, however, it’s all about Paramore’s Hayley Williams releasing new solo music.

“Simmer” is entirely different to what I was expecting from her first official solo single, and her first release outside Paramore since 2010’s “Airplanes” with BoB. It’s dark and brooding, full of gasps and mutters; Williams increases the tension like a piece of thread drawn tight, ready to snap.

People are going wild over “Fire”, a new song from Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield). Crutchfield describes the song as a love song to herself; her forthcoming album, Saint Cloud, was written in the time after she chose to go sober. “If I can accept that I only have a partial view of the universe, and that I can't know everything or control much of anything,” she says, “then I can breathe a little easier, take better care of myself, and be closer to my own truth.”

The album (released 27 March) as a complete work is breathtaking – “Fire” is a personal favourite for the way her voice swoops and falls; the sense of freedom in a lyric such as: “Tomorrow could feel like a hundred years later/ I'm wiser and slow and attuned/ And I am down on my knees/ I'm a bird in the trees/ I can learn to see with a partial view/ I can learn to be easy as I move in close to you.” It’s exquisite songwriting.

Four Tet has dropped “Baby”, which samples an Ellie Goulding vocal and is taken from his forthcoming album Sixteen Oceans, set for release in March. It’s got a cool underwater vibe (helped by actual trickling water sounds during a lull about two thirds through), and a great old-school shuffle to it.

In one of the more unexpected musical trends, there are loads of tracks titled “bitch” or similar out this week. Among my favourite bitches are Megan Thee Stallion – “BITCH”, taken from her album Suga (due out later this year), and Doja Cat’s rapid-fire “Boss Bitch”, which reminds me of Azaelia Banks’ bass-heavy thumpers. American singer-songwriter mxmtoon’s single “fever dream” urges you to take risks and not just accept things for how they are; L Devine is in a similar mood on “Boring People”, where she despairs at the 9-5 grind over a thudding beat.

There are some really fantastic post-grunge (and straight-up grunge) tracks out this week – let’s start with the new one from Happyness. This is the band’s first new music in three years, during which time duo Jonny Allan and Ash Kenazi, have dealt with a break-up and coming out, respectively. There are also some great visuals to go with it.

“A phrase that Ash says the whole time after crazy-party-nights is ‘I’m as great as I am because I destroyed myself’, and I think a vegetable is like that,” Allan explains.

“It’s been a while since we wrote it, we’ve done a lot of living and had…quite a good time…but when we wrote it quite fresh off the back of the band-thing breaking up and having to look very specifically at all of the shit that had led us to having to make a lot of life changes and I think it’s a bit of a destructive triumph vibe. Like a phoenix from the f***ing ashes vibe.”

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Follow the Now Hear This playlist

Pearl Jam are back, which I’m very excited about – you can hear Eddie Vedder snapping and snarling on “Dance of the Clairvoyants”, with doomsday-esque lyrics: “Numbers keep falling off the calendar's floor/ We're stuck in our boxes/ Windows open no more/ Couldn't lift up the forget-me-nots/ Not recalling what they're for.” They’re playing British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park this year, do not miss that one.

My spotlight artist this week is Eliza Shaddad, who’s offering up her own spin on grunge with a new EP, Sept-Dec. “Same as You”, the video for which we’re premiering right here, is a sprawling, introspective number about the way we deal with emotions, and connect with people going through the same. I caught up with Eliza to see what she’s been up to so far this year:

– Hey Eliza, how's your 2020 so far?

Hey!! It’s insane haha!! Everything all at once this year so far. I’ve recorded some new music, written some new songs, and since the 20th have been on tour around Europe with Keane! Also we made this music video! On a go-pro actually, with some crazy effects directed by Mr B J Jackson who also worked with me on the whole new EP that’s out today.

– Tell me a bit about “Same as You”, when did you write it and what was the thought-process behind it?

I wrote this in Suffolk last summer. I was home helping out with some family stuff and needed a place to work and found this amazing place called Old Jet, which is a creative community based on an old airfield in Suffolk. I rented a room in an old flight simulation building and wrote, and this song emerged. It’s pretty much a summation of my relationship history on the surface, but I think deeper down it’s also about dealing with emotions badly, and trying to connect with people across something like grief.

– What's on your playlist at the moment?

A bit of a mad mix mix.. I’ve been pretty obsessed with John Frusciante and Kacey Musgraves this year.. Caroline Polacheck is incredible - Childcare keep getting stuck in my brain, and actually I’ve been learning more about Sudanese artists (My dad’s Sudanese) and been really enjoying "Habibi Funk" (Argos Farfish by Sharhabeel Ahmed is a tune!) and newer stuff like Sinkane.

– What else do you have lined up for this year?

I’m on this big tour with Keane until mid February - then heading to LA for the first time to see what that’s all about, then back for our UK headline tour which ends at the incredible Scala on 19th March! Can’t wait for that. Then LP2 is going to be around the corner so hopefully there’ll be a little time to prepare for that.

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