One-Liners Reviews

One-Liners: The Return of Sally Shapiro, Anoraak, Jorja Chalmers, Pilotpriest, Wyndsrfr

Today’s One-Liners is brimful of releases of staggering quality. Truly, each release would warrant its own post, but there’s something special about showing you them all in one go. The most notable this time around is, of course the official return of Swedish Italo Disco revivalists and wistfulwavers, Sally Shapiro. However, the whole slate is worth your time (and money).

Are you ready for this?

Sally Shapiro – “Fading Away”

One of my favorite duos has returned from a somewhat-hiatus with the promise of a new album on Italians Do It Better — a great fit for all involved. This is emphatically great news. It’s like an item on a Vehlinggoland wishlist has come true. To kick things off, Italians released the killer first single from the eponymous duo of Shapiro and Johan Agebjörn on Friday. A full-length record is coming this fall via the label.

The last official single was “If You Ever Wanna Change Your Mind” in 2016. However, longtime Vehlinggo readers will have since caught Agebjörn and the enigmatic Shapiro gracing these pages with collaborations with the legendary Italo artist Ryan Paris — 2018’s “Love on Ice” and last year’s “Forget About You.” Shapiro also made an appearance on Agebjörn’s and Mikael Ogren’s 2017 masterpiece, We Never Came to the White Sea.

“Fading Away” recalls the hallmark elements of a great Sally cut: enchantingly moving vocals atop elaborate instrumentation that entrances with meditative precision while inspiring visceral body movement. Johnny Jewel helped Agebjörn mix the cut, bringing a tighter punch than previous Sally offerings. What a fantastic return for the duo! You can find the cut on streaming platforms and on download via the IDIB store.

Anoraak — Karma EP

French electronic musician Anoraak — markedly, no stranger to Vehlinggoland — has embarked on a genre shift the past couple of years. Since 2008 his nostalgia-tinged synth-pop and dance cuts have helped create the synthwave movement, first as part of the Valerie Collective and later as honed on his own path. However, since around 2019, as evidenced on 5 Years cut “Panarea,” Anoraak has shifted his focus to more organic-sounding nu-disco. The results have been delectably rewarding and the newly released Karma EP, featuring the impeccable French talent Sarah Maison on vocals, is no different. The compositions feature tightly wound, electric-bass-driven grooves that propel airy pianos, chunky clavs, bubbly guitars, and colorful synth strings to great effect, as Maison deftly shifts between spacious French, Arabic, and English sung and spoken-word performances. You can snag this record on digital and physical formats.

Jorja Chalmers – Midnight Train

UK-based Australian musician Jorja Chalmers’ latest release on Italians Do It Better is the exquisitely cinematic album Midnight Train. As she did on her 2019 debut, Human Again, and as she has as part of Bryan Ferry’s band, Chalmers brings to the fore a nuanced and poignantly majestic saxophone essence that smoothly elevates beautifully foreboding and minimalist synth parts and her achingly present vocals. This time around the John Carpenter-Angelo Badalamenti duality shifts in weight: The arrangements are less likely to recall Carpenter and more likely to cultivate the spacious surrealism of Lynchian Badalamenti and the pristine sophistication of Ferry and late-era Roxy Music. Of course, regardless of any point of influence I might hear, Chalmers’ work is always entirely her own and doesn’t easily resemble anything else out there. Ultimately, this is a required title in your collection. A final note: Hat-tip to Chalmers for her novel covers of Enya’s “Boadicea” and The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm.” Midnight Train is available on streamers and for download via IDIB (with a vinyl version coming down the line).

Pilotpriest — Flashback (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Fresh off the release of his popular genre film, Come True, which he scored as Pilotpriest with Electric Youth, Anthony Scott Burns takes his well known musical project into some of his most vividly disturbing and beautifully ambient territory yet on the score for Flashback, Christopher MacBride’s sci-fi thriller about a man trapped in a haunting dissolution of his sense of time and the self. There are some melodies or soundscapes that are quintessentially Burns, but the Renaissance Man deserves credit for mixing up his craft to best complement the film at hand. The release is available digitally via Lakeshore Records on streamers and Bandcamp.

Wyndsrfr — Golden Years

The California duo of Danielle and Jacob Prestidge have crafted their most compelling album yet. Golden Years is built to the gills with gorgeous and catchy cuts that inject a deeply human experience into compositions built on a blend of indie-rock, synth-pop, and synthwave. Cuts like “Burning Summer” — arguably their best song, which I played on an episode of The Vehlinggo Podcast in 2018 — have been knocking around a while. However, don’t miss the engaging title cut or the beautiful instrumental bliss of “A Deep Breath, Now.” You can pick up the album on their Bandcamp page, which you can find via the embed below.

(Editor’s Note: The One-Liners column is a concise but meaningful way to highlight Vehlinggo-recommended releases. It’s not exactly weekly, but it can be. Entries are almost never one line, but they could be. Check out the most recent One-Liners post.)

(Feature Photo: Cover art for Sally Shapiro’s “Fading Way” by Johnny Jewel.)

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