Here are two things that are undeniably true. 1) Belfast’s instrumental post-math rock juggernauts And So I Watch You From Afar goddamn rule. 2) COVID-19 fucking sucks and is absolutely destroying the lives and careers of untold numbers of people, especially in fields that require being out in social settings such as music. And so it sadly comes as little surprise that ASIWYFA are feeling the hurt as they’ve seen all plans for touring and playing live this year completely evaporate. For a group that has been fortunate enough to actually derive most of their income from their music these days, all of this has pretty much thrown everything into complete disarray. When that happens, about all you can do is look around you and find any way to possibly fill that sudden gap in ways you weren’t anticipating.

For ASIWYFA’s Rory Friers, this has meant publicly releasing something that was created never with the intention of making public. Several years ago in between tours and his other main gig of film scoring, Friers relocated to a small farmhouse attic above the cliffs of north Antrim in Northern Ireland to record a special and personal album. It was to be a wedding gift for his sister Ciara and her to-be husband Dara. That album, Parting Cuts, is a personal piece intended to track the couple’s journey together up to that point and following a tumultuous year traveling the world together. It is a beautifully tender and bucolic piece of lo-fi indie folk/pop with just enough quirkiness to befit coming from one of the brainchildren of the propulsive and unpredictable ASIWYFA, and we’re very pleased and privileged to be able to premiere the first two tracks – “Parting Cuts” and “Two Set Sail” – off of it for the world here today.

For someone like myself who came of age during the heyday of 00’s lo-fi indie folk before it became utterly subsumed by the twee masses, Parting Cuts produces some incredible waves of pleasant nostalgia. There’s the Sufjan Stevens-esque fanfare of horns and guitars on the title track opener. There’s the hints of old school Iron & Wine, Band of Horses, Bon Iver, and the like laced throughout and between gentle guitar strumming, mandolin picking, flute interluding, and so forth. There’s the kind of quiet, introspective, and largely instrumental post-leaning folk with sparse and wispy vocals that made me fall in love with the work of mid-career Do Make Say Think. It’s really just a hit of pure sunshine that I could really use right now when the world continues to feature little other than doom and gloom.

Of the album, Friers himself has this to say:

This record was never really meant to be heard by a lot of people, it was made in a little make shift studio near the beach on the north coast of Antrim and it was made with only two people in mind. It was about that soreness you get in your belly when you’re missing the people you love most in the world and the pride in seeing the best in human spirit come out when it’s most needed. I’d been feeling those things more than ever right now so decided it was the right time to put them out.

If you like what you hear and want to throw some support to someone who has seriously busted his ass in this scene for years, then you should go on ahead and order Parting Cuts now. You can also pre-save the album on Spotify right here and hear it all you want when it drops this Friday, April 24.

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