Single Reviews: 18 April 2024: Holy Holy Vine, Seán R. McLaughlin & The Wind-up Crows, Vilde, Darkstates, Áron Porteleki

Photo by Yating Yang

Holy Holy Vine - bird of baltimore


There's an intruiging artist from somewhere in the United States who goes by the name Holy Holy Vine. There's virtually no biographical information about the person behind the stage name, yet there's a personal approach to their gentle melodies and ice-breaking, funky sax lines, notably on last year's "birds of baltimore", a delicious blend of stern art-school indie folk and a more jovial art-school-dropout sense of debauchery. "Water to Sun" go the pleasant lyrics, and the notes accompanying this magical single state that it is "abt [sic] dating water signs, pathetic literature, forgetting the architectural histories of cities, and listening to TootArd". As a water sign myself, I can vouch that we are full of ups and downs in dating. So too is this peculiar cut, with its ability to disorient via smatterings of instrumentation while also delivering a sense of joy with its joyous melodies. If this stuff gets around, anonymity may be something increasingly difficult for Holy Holy Vine to maintain.  

Seán R. McLaughlin & The Wind-up Crows - Wishing Well

folk rock

Scottish folk rocker Seán R. McLaughlin is instantly likeable and effortlessly catchy on "Wishing Well", a timeless and upbeat tune taken from the newly released album Goodnight Lad. The song has a jaunty and rambunctious, though radio-friendly, air and piques the spirit with its tale of a social outcast seeking oblivion amidst an increasingly structured world. Here, the artist is extolling the virtues of unplugging from the grid, highlighting the romance which accompanies reckless abandon. Quite convincing, too. 

Vilde - Subpar sentiment, cracking skin, a gene forgotten so long ago


The haunting spirit of Vilde, aka Thomas Savage, is deftly showcased on "Subpar sentiment, cracking skin, a gene forgotten so long ago" the first single from an upcoming album, the name of which has yet to be announced. Breathy title aside, it's an impressively atmospheric take on indie-folk; electronic production fusing with Alt-Jish intellectual rock leanings. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Savage travelled to Europe a decade ago and based himself in Edinburgh. His music has a roving quality to it, and a phantasmagorical approach to sonic world-building akin to a train journey through the old continent. 

Darkstates - Embers


London-based producer and songwriter Darkstates weaves minimalistic piano, rickety percussion, ambient tones, and powerful vocals to stunning effect on the recently released "Embers". While overly earnest at times, "Embers" is a poignant expression of longing delivered in a razor-sharp mix. Referencing nature in the lyrics ("Bring me down to the valley/white orchids"), there is an underpinning force of rhythm which lifts this moodily pensive track to something more whimsical and blasé.  

Áron Porteleki - Golyam Gryakh


If highly-energized, percussion-heavy, what-the-heck-is-that experimental music from Hungary is what you're keen on, then how have you not heard about Áron Porteleki? While a tad hard to listen to in one sitting (because it sounds like a cannibal tribe killing a swarm of wasps), "Golyam Gryakh" from the album Smearing is also excellent music. Constructed with an infectious burst of gusto after messing around with a traditional Bulgarian drum called the tǎpan, this track is dark, arty, and hella memorable.