Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 20 – Lowry Lane, Onism E, Martin Saint, The Zangwills

With so much new music being released, it’s time for another Fresh New Tracks post. Today I’m pleased to present four outstanding new singles by, in alphabetical order, German singer-songwriter Lowry Lane, New York City-based indie rock band Onism E, Canadian singer-songwriter Martin Saint, and British alt-rock band The Zangwills.

Lowry Lane – “Wasting Time”

Lowry Lane (born Paul Friebe) is an earnest, thoughtful and talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Regensburg, Germany. Influenced by a vast spectrum of acts ranging from Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground and The Cure to Nirvana, The Strokes and Kurt Vile, Lowry creates their own unique brand of alternative indie rock. We’ve followed each other on social media for more than five years, and I’ve featured them several times on this blog, most recently in October 2021 when I reviewed their excellent debut album Lonely War. An ambitious and deeply personal work, the album touched on dark subjects like relationship troubles, personal loss, addiction and mental health, while still offering glimmers of optimism.

Lowry has just released a new single “Wasting Time“, a song that seems to be about the passage of time and making the most of it – or not: “Is stealing time really a crime? Running on empty, while others have plenty. Our hearts may be shattered, our souls may be scattered. We’re still alive and kicking, the clock keeps on ticking. So take me home to places that I’ve never known. Take your time. Yeah, I’ve been wasting most of mine.” The song has a bit of a Kurt Vile feel, with a meandering laid-back groove, highlighted by Lowry’s intricate textured guitar work. I love the elastic ‘rubberband’ sound of their guitar, which nicely contrast with the wonderful chiming riffs. The swirling synths and snappy drum fills are great too. Their smooth vocals are delivered in a casual monotone, yet still sound impactful. I love the endearing artwork for the single, which is from an old photo of Lowry as a child.

Onism E – “It’s Not Over”

Indie rock band Onism E is the brainchild of California-born, Texas-raised and now New York City-based singer-songwriter Eline Chavez (the term “Onism” can be defined as “The awareness of how little of the world you will actually experience.”). In addition to Eline, the band includes Chris ‘Lefty’ Vargas on guitar, Magnus Timbre on bass, and Raj Arenas on drums. Since the release of their debut single “Love You More” in August 2019, they’ve dropped several more outstanding singles, as well as an album Survivors in February 2021. This past May, they released a brilliant single “Lin Manuel“, inspired by Eline’s struggles of trying to make it as a musician during the uncertainty of the pandemic (read my review here). The song spent three months on my Weekly Top 30 over the summer, peaking at #13.

Now they’re back with “It’s Not Over“, a lovely uplifting single, accompanied by a beautiful heartwarming video, that celebrate the strength and resiliency of the human spirit, and that, together with love and support, we’ll make it through the dark times. Musically, the song features a gorgeous blend of twangy and shimmery guitars, accompanied by a subtle bassline, thumping drumbeats and lots of crashing cymbals, and finishing with a blast of distorted guitars before fading out. Eline’s beautiful, fervent vocals are filled with emotion and a vulnerable sense of urgency as she sings “You had this idea that the world isn’t all blue. It’s all kinds of colors, most I never knew. But sometimes love is blinded by the dark. And sometimes it feels like healing takes too long to start. But no one is being left behind. No baby, I’ve got you. There’s no me without you. This river will guide us through. It’s not over. No, we’ve just begun.

Martin Saint – The Law

Martin Saint is a singer-songwriter and guitarist based in Montreal. Active in the local music scene for many years, he’s also currently the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Montreal-based alt-rock band The Ember Glows (whose recently-released EP Where Spirits Play, I reviewed last month), and was previously front man for the band Citylake. He’s released a fair amount of music as a solo artist, including a spoken word EP Fly Tales in 2019, an album One Word Away in January 2020, and the EP Last New Year’s Eve in March 2021. On November 4th, he dropped his latest offering “The Law“, a rearranged cover of the Leonard Cohen original. While Cohen’s original has a slow, almost mournful feel, with sparse instrumentals and a gentle backing female chorus, Saint speeds up the tempo a bit, adds mysterious cinematic synths, a more pronounced beat, and lots of multi-textured guitars. Some of his guitar notes, which go from shimmery to chiming to twangy reverb, are absolutely stunning. His warm, smooth vocals are both sultry and comforting, and as I noted in my The Ember Glows review, remind me of the late Scott Walker.

People have speculated as to the song’s meaning, but Cohen’s use of the words ‘law, arm and hand’ in the lyrics –  “I’m not asking for mercy. Not from the man. You just don’t ask for mercy while you’re still on the stand. There s a Law, there’s an Arm, there’s a Hand. I don’t claim to be guilty. Guilty’s too grand. There s a Law, there’s an Arm, there’s a Hand” – suggest it’s about morality and judgement, whether by oneself or by a higher power, and paying for one’s crimes, whether you feel remorse or guilt for them or not. In a 1985 interview, Cohen said “I always felt this was a ‘post-guilt’ song. There is an age of guilt, and we are in the age after. Guilt is too inflamed an emotion, even for us today…” Others have said it speaks to the chains of love, and the preordained rules which we must follow, no matter how painful or difficult they might me. Whatever it’s meaning, I think Saint does justice to Cohen’s song.

The Zangwills – “Backpatters and Shooters”

Last, but most certainly not least, are British four-piece The Zangwills. Based in Cheshire, they consist of the immensely talented Jake Vickers (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ed Dowling (bass), Sam Davies (lead guitar) and Adam Spence (drums). Their exciting, highly melodic music is outstanding, with a maturity of songwriting and musicianship as fine as many top big-name bands around today. Though they’ve been actively making music since 2017, when they were all still in their teens, I didn’t learn about them until summer of 2021, when I was blown away by their magnificent single “Never Looked Back”. I reviewed the song, and loved it so much that it went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30, and ended up at #24 on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list.

They followed with another beautiful single “The Feeling” this past February, and on November 11th, they dropped their latest single “Backpatters and Shooters“.  Like their previous singles, the song was produced and engineered by Mark Winterburn and mastered by Ben Booker. And let me say that I was every bit as stunned when I first listened to it as I’d been with “Never Looked Back”. Wow, what a gorgeous song it is, with a haunting piano-driven melody and some of the most achingly beautiful guitar work I’ve heard in a while. Those lush, twangy guitar notes, combined with that haunting piano and glorious sweeping synths, have me covered in chills with every listen. Then there are Jake’s beautiful emotive vocals, which have an incredible vulnerability as he croons the lyrics addressing the pursuit of love and how love far outweighs the importance of anything else: “You know that I’d be the first to plant roses in your face, and frame beauty with beauty. And though I’m dying of thirst, I’m still running in your race. With the men who pat my back, and the men who would shoot me. And when I look up, if I squint I see love. But it’s never that much, and no it’s never enough.” I love this song, and I love this band!