Vanessa Bedoret, “Viper” (Laura Lies In)
Before April 2022, I knew nothing of British violinist/vocalist Vanessa Bedoret, and her sparsely populated Discogs page did not help my cause. But anyone recording for England's Laura Lies In label merits inspection, so when LLI deposited a link to Bedoret's new single into my inbox, I immediately clicked into action. The rewards were instantaneous.
It was difficult to choose a song to spotlight for this column, as both “Innce” and “Viper” are oneiric, enigmatic, and sublime. (Rupert Clervaux's magnificent mastering job adds considerable luster.) “Innce” is a bold opening gambit. With a voice that rivals Grouper's for ASMR-esque delicacy, Bedoret sings with a deadpan breathiness about lost innocence (I think) while constructing a soundscape that intertwines beauty and tension into a velvet rope of glitchy chamber-pop. Wonderful stuff, but as Public Enemy said many years ago, “B-side wins again.”
The slightly trippier and stranger “Viper” sounds like the greatest song that the Ghost Box label—hauntology central—never released. The track has taken up substantial real estate in my subconscious, where it's assuring me that new music has the power to soothe and unsettle simultaneously. A darkly magical phenomenon!
Laura Lies In—which also has issued excellent recordings from Tara Clerkin Trio and Cryo Lab, a duo featuring Vanessa—has plans to release more Bedoret music, and that is one more legit reason to keep living.
Grandbaby, “Congo Solar” (Wax Thématique)
Before March 2022, I didn't know Grandbaby from Grandaddy. But that's why Seattle's Wax Thématique label is so important: It digs deep for obscure artists making life-enhancing music, including that by locals such as Noel Brass Jr. and Select Level. (Full disclosure: I've written liner notes for Wax Thématique.)
Grandbaby (aka multi-instrumentalist Jason Baldock) is so under the radar, the project doesn't even have a Discogs page, though Baldock has played in a group called Rope Store, who create joyous, '60s-informed soul songs. If you check out Rope Store's Bandcamp, you can hear Baldock's predilection for chunky breakbeats in their conventionally structured, melodious compositions. That instinct comes to the fore in the Grandbaby single “Congo Solar” / “The Melody of Talk.” Word to the wise: Cop the 7-inch before it sells out.
Reportedly written, performed, produced, and recorded in a World War II bunker in the English countryside, “Congo Solar” brings three minutes of robust percussion action and a bass line that charges the line of scrimmage like J.J. Watt. Laced with echoplexed shouts of “Stop!” and “Go!” and a month's supply of cowbell, the track mainlines adrenaline in the manner of classic club bombs such as Incredible Bongo Band's “Bongolia” and Angelo & Eighteen's “Flight 2.” Heady company, for sure. For what it's worth, this single—with its equally dope but less frenetic B-side—will go into heavy rotation in my DJ sets.
Genuine, “Suspect Device” (self-released)
Genuine is the solo project of Aaron Edge, former drummer of Tad Doyle's Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, former art director at Southern Lord Recordings, and ex-Stranger production department employee during the '00s. This straight-edge musician specializes in uncompromising hardcore covers of famous, semi-famous, and obscure songs by artists such as Jimi Hendrix Experience, Blondie, Bikini Kill, Crass, High on Fire, and Dead Kennedys.
Under scrutiny here is Genuine's roaring rendition of Northern Irish punks Stiff Little Fingers' “Suspect Device,” a powerful anthem about the Troubles from their classic 1979 LP Inflammable Material. The original's jagged dynamics and unbridled rage make it ideal source material for Genuine's 360º hardcore fury.