Premiere: New Lions Roar Back To Life With Stirring New EP, Rescue Team Volume I

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It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since we’ve heard new music from New Lions, the spirited emo-tinged math-rock quintet fronted by scene favorite Clair Morgan. Whether operating under its current roaring moniker or the eponymous name that sparked one of the best band slogans (or jokes) to ever come out of Richmond, “Clair Morgan is and is not a band,” this group’s cagey and expressive sound has undeniably been a scene mainstay long enough to warrant instant attention once any new song is dropped. Lucky for us though, the five-piece is breaking their recording pause with not one song but three this week, with more to come in the very near future.

Rescue Team Volume I is a three-song EP that kicks off a planned trilogy by New Lions for 2024, leading to a consolidated album release down the line that will surely stand as the pinnacle of their robust catalog. Maintaining the same line-up from their 2019 six-track record End Story and their 2020 single “How Do You Feel”–Clair Morgan (guitar, vocals), Ashley Moore (keys, backing vocals), Shannon Cleary (bass), Casey Graham (guitar), and Michael Satterfield (drums)–the album fulfills the ambitious potential hinted at in the beloved 2016 album New Lions And The Not-Good Night, propelling Clair Morgan’s captivating compositions into a realm of collaborative brilliance. The three tracks comprising this new release showcase the band at the height of their musical potency and emotional vulnerability, providing a daring model of transforming personal turmoil into a compelling artistic expression. Today, The Auricular is excited to premiere these three thrilling new songs ahead of their official release on Friday, March 8th. Enjoy an exclusive preview through the stream below as well as an exploration of the record’s intricate emotional layers entwined into its frenetic sound.


The album bursts into motion with the vibrant and captivating energy of “Canada,” a track that masterfully blends intricate mathy techniques with penetrating emo expression. Fueled by a punchy snare cadence that deftly guides through complex turns and shifts, the song encapsulates the essence of New Lions’ offerings: crafty hooks, sly lyricism, and a compelling arrangement executed with precision, allowing impulsive releases of punk fervor to shine through. “Canada” develops like a three-act play, adhering to the classic story arc with distinct sections for setup, confrontation, and resolution, even if that confrontation is resigned to a contemplative mantra (“1 and 1 and 2 is 1”).

Throughout the song, piercing verses cut through the air, conveying a sense of realistic introspection shaped by guilt, uncertainty, and apathy. “This is a test and it is meant to feel awful,” Clair Morgan relates with a sense of silent resignation to the surrounding challenges, reflecting personal turmoil or broader global predicaments. Shrouded in the best type of lyrical ambiguity, the third act subtly touches on the allure of a Northern migration amidst the country’s political decay (“Not yet lifted\ Unsure what is outside us\ If only we knew what to do\ We’ll all move to Canada“). In this framing though, the sentiment shys away from addressing the societal divide and points the finger back on broad declarations that are often met with timid or hollow follow through, even when the stark realities demand action. The eloquent yet cryptic lyrics create a multifaceted narrative, leaving room for personal interpretation by still emphasizing a profound weight bearing down.

“Floating Free” seamlessly follows, offering a direct and refreshing contrast to the weightiness of the preceding track. The guitar notes cascade through a lively rhythm, resembling the whirlwind of emotions triggered by an unexpected catalyst (“I’ve been spinning my wheels\ Wondering how to figure out how to find the right words to speak“). The song unfolds like the abrupt realization that a relationship has reached its breaking point, marked by a flurry of practicality (“Our hearts are bleeding, we don’t know where we are/ How bout we talk about it“) swiftly followed by a weary acceptance (“I’ve been spinning my wheels/ Can you ever communicate less complicatedly”).

Alternatively, the song serves as a reflection of life’s daily hustle, where every task is labeled “high priority” and we rush through the day from dawn to the point of exhaustion–physically, mentally, and emotionally (“Battery depleted, floating free/ Running on coffee and empty“). Stepping back, both scenarios manfiest within the song, resembling two distinct high-speed car crashes converging into a shared calamity with slow-motion precision, an occurrence that hypnotizes listeners with wide-eyed astonishment that matches its cagey intensity.

If “Canada” is the most infectious song on the record and “Floating Free” is the most exhilarating, “Low Notes” claims its place as the most enduring moment, a beautifully tense song that concludes the record on an affecting yet profound note. The song opens with a plaintive guitar line harmonizing with a solemn vocal delivery, reminiscent of hidden gems found in Jimmy Eat World’s albums, nestled between their chart-topping singles. While more restrained compared to the preceding tracks, it remains emotionally expressive, featuring compelling moments such as a desperate plea following an early tonal shift (“Can you maybe let go of what the others did that made you subtracted/ It’s like myself is not congruent with my other self, to be outside of this”). The song unravels with poignant lines, delivering reflective truths that unveil the delicate balance between releasing and safeguarding, the climatic struggle when finally letting go.

As the album draws to a close, Morgan laments, “All I do is lean into the sway and let the movement swallow me,” as the instruments clash around, creating an atmosphere of reserved emotional closure. In a poignant reflection, this echoes the three-story arc initiated by the first song, evolving from a turbulent confrontation in “Floating Free” to a gripping setup in “Canada” and culminating in sorrowful acceptance. Each track embodies a journey of growth, even if the immediate benefits may not be apparent. Such is life–amid the turmoil, we carve out space for growth, navigating unfamiliar and uncomfortable territories. The inception might feel uneasy, but as time progresses, and we allow room for growth, we normalize the awkwardness and smooth out the rough edges all around us until it is mundanely intimate, a comfort that often goes overlooked until you’re plunged into the turmoil like this thrilling tale.

After listening to all of this, the wait for the next two volumes later this year might prove challenging, especially as we wait to see how that three-act arc comes into play. In the meantime though, just immerse yourself further in the songs, reliving their impassioned majesty again and again with ears more sharply attuned to the band’s vivid frequency. When Volume II finally drops, we’ll just be that more receptive to its musical wonder and that quicker in understanding its immense value.

Rescue Team Volume I is set for release on Friday, March 8th on all streaming platforms. You can catch New Lions in concert next on Sunday, March 10th at Bandito’s alongside Hotspit, Pale Lungs, and Pony.

To keep up to date on future releases and shows, make sure to follow New Lions on social media by clicking here.


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