Release Rundown – Mutes, Salem, Squid and worriedaboutsatan

It’s that time again for our release rundown for the week, reviewing some brand new records ready for your aural consumption. As always, we gently remind you that these releases are available to buy on the artist’s web stores as well as online at your favourite record shop (and now back in store! Woo!) Pick up if you can.

Mutes – Dreams of Being Cornered
(FOMA)

Mutes

The brainchild of Midlands based musician James Brown, Mutes is a project that has moved through many sonic shapes over the years, from lo-fi acoustics to noisy rock mode. ‘Dreams of Being Cornered’ is the third album from Mutes and as ever is a multi-coloured ride of alt rock goodness.

Following the scene setting, acoustically driven intro of ‘Roots’ Ruin’, we are soon swept off into ‘Identifier’, a glorious slice of late 90’s indie pop that builds in a harmonious swell of vocal harmonies and intertwining guitar lines. We then slide into ‘Modern Waste’ which is where the more drawn out and sprawling dynamics enter. It’s from this point that we are tossed between a set of sprightly indie rock songs and beautifully crafted soundscapes.

Mutes have never been ones to box themselves into a genre and this certainly keeps that up, but there’s something in the way this record is structured that feels so absorbing. One minute we’re bopping about to the garage rock fuzz of ‘Sainted’, the next we’re being consumed by the bewildering ambience of ‘Westernesque’. I like the varied blend of musical reference points and I find myself being reminded of all the weird moments of the late 90’s/early 00’s rock scene that I miss dearly. This is clearly an album crafted with care to feel like a forward moving listening experience, confidently leading through sharp dynamic shifts.

After spending some time trying to figure out who Mutes sound like, I came to the conclusion that this is clearly a band inspired by many different moments within musical history that they mould into something fresh. ‘Sole Reflection’ confirms these notions on a beautifully hazy closer, mostly flickering around gazing electronics before ascending into a space rock odyssey. It’s the perfect way to end an album that plays by its own rules. What is appealing with ‘Dreams of Being Cornered’ is how it marries the eclectic with the cohesive, backing up bold rock tunes with engaging sonic twists. Dreamy indeed.

Salem – Salem II
(Roadrunner)

Salem

Old pals Matt Reynolds and Will Gould met up for a bit of harmless fun in a practice room a little while ago and ended up starting a new band. Salem is a homage to the bands that Matt and Will grew up with, with their debut self-titled EP putting smiles on this little emo mush last Halloween. With plans still on hold for Will’s day job fronting goth-rock heroes Creeper, you bet that the duo have been back in the studio working on a follow up release.

What struck me the most about the first EP was how huge it sounded. For a mess about side project, that at one point wasn’t going to see the light of day, that first record felt like a statement of intent. ‘Salem II‘ does the exact same thing (if not even bigger), featuring five new tracks that speed through high octane punk rock, packed with rock solid performances and festival ready hooks.

William, It Was Really Something’ hits you over the head with a Buzzcocks-esque lead melody before jumping into a huge, raised fists chorus. Will’s voice is such a force to be reckoned with, going from vulnerable whispers to mountain calling shrieks at the drop of a hat. Again, this is a record that doesn’t mess about, with songs that demand your attention, – ‘Keep The Thorns’ is a hands in the air emo-rock moment whilst ‘Draculads’ is a total white knuckle ride, bursting with a classic Brit-punk energy before jumping into a smouldering breakdown of 50’s doo-wop.

I must admit, I did find it hard not to link ‘Salem II’ to the evolution of Creeper on first listen, with the ambition of this project already very apparent. With Will being the voice of Creeper, it can be hard to separate the two, but on repeated listens it’s so clear to hear the light-hearted, fun-filled spirit of Salem really kick in. I think it’s a testament to the members of this band as songwriters that they don’t know how to not write massive punk bangers. ‘Salem II’ is a right old knees up that provides another mighty blast of punk rock joy.

Squid – Bright Green Field
(Warp)

Squid

I do enjoy the fact that there’s a bunch of young new bands coming through at the moment, taking nods from the more obtuse, progressive sides of alternative music and becoming huge in the process. From the post rock theatrics of Black Country, New Road to the math-y quirkiness of Black Midi, it’s a good time to be in a weird band. Enter Squid. The Brighton formed outfit have been making considerable waves over the past few years with a string of well received singles and a much talked about live show. Their debut EP ‘Town Centre’ was a proper mixed bag that spiked our interest here at BCFB straight away. It made me think that if they got round to making an album, it was going to be quite the trip…

Needless to say, ‘Bright Green Field’ is far out. It’s a complete explosion of sound, often flipping twiddly math grooves and post punk hooks on their heads into cosmic kraut workouts, bending minds at every opportunity. After the chopped up soundscape intro of ‘Resolution square, ‘G.S.K.’ sets you up for what you’re about to consume. A hypnotic bass/drum groove kicks in before then ducking out to intro drummer Ollie’s eccentric vocals. It’s not long before we break back into the groove, this time joined by treated brass tabs and wonked out guitars. It’s a total attack on the senses, which is what propels this album, although you know you’re going to get sonically battered around the chops, you’re not quite sure how.

Narrator’ and ‘Paddling’ are prime examples of delivering danceable, neck jamming grooves that don’t sit still, the former disappearing into the avant-garde abyss, the latter leading into an almost ‘In Rainbows’ style build of theatrics.

I found it interesting that Squid released three of the longest songs off the record as singles, but when you hear ‘Bright Green Field’ they actually feel like the most instant moments on the album. Tracks like ‘Boy Racers’ and ‘Documentary Filmmaker’ go even deeper into Squid’s experiments, still providing sharp guitar lines and infectious vocal hooks (‘SNOWY IN FEBRUARY’ being my current earworm), but often falling down a rabbit hole with everything from synth drone passages to prog jazz wig outs.

Bright Green Field’ is an album that will likely need to be bedded into. On first listen I found myself needing a lie down to process what I just heard. Once this record grips you, it’s hard not to be engulfed by Squid’s surreal world. I kind of feel like if Foals took a shitload of class A’s and listened to Prog, this is what ‘Antidotes’ might have come out like. Detailed, groovy and as mad as a box of frogs, this is another intensely exciting debut from the U.K.’s ever forward thinking alternative scene.

worriedaboutsatan – Providence
(Box Records)

WAS

It’s been just shy of a year since we last heard from Northern producer worriedaboutstatan in full length mode, which is oddly quite a gap considering that last May’s ‘Time Lapse’ was his second of the year. But rest assured, Bradford based musician Gavin Miller has kept the flame burning bright since, releasing a bunch of split singles and compilations as well as running his own label, even finding the time to record a bunch of at home live sessions. Never one to take a break, worriedaboutsatan is back with album number eight, ‘Providence’, this time teaming up with the ever brilliant Box Records.

Having found myself very much taken with the ambient/electronica scene as of late, I always look forward to hearing new material from WAS. Since stripping back to a solo project in late 2019, we’ve definitely been getting a stronger post-rock inspired feel from Gavin’s material, letting delay heavy guitars often lead the way. The guitars are very much present here, especially on gorgeous closer ‘Just to Feel Something’, but they feel more textured than before, mixing with soft synth pads to let the ambient tones of the project really shine through.

Lo-fi techno beats centre the rhythmical heartbeat of the record, from the pulsating ride of ‘Stórar Franskar‘ to the spiralling synth sway of ‘Stop Calling my Phone’. As ever, this is an amalgamation of sounds, tones and vibes, brilliantly blended together to create a very meditative and focused set.

There are always subtle nuances with each new worriedaboutsatan album and what I like about ‘Providence‘ is its gentle flow that gradually builds as the album progresses. For some reason I have the phrase ‘it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey’ in my head when I hear this album. I think it’s because on recent WAS tracks it can be about getting to that crescendo, whereas I find a lot of the tracks here work harder on building up an atmosphere with something for you to live inside presently. It can be dark and moody then extremely uplifting and light, but it’s how Gavin navigates through these expressions with such grace and poise that lends for an ultimately warming and immersive listening experience.

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Listening Post – May 2021

MAY?! Don’t even get us started, partner… As we march on through the year, it’s comforting to know that Birthday Cake For Breakfast will always be here to remind you – first of every month – that there’s new music to sink ya teeth into. Be warned – There’s a lot in here that has moving-your-arse in mind. There’s also an unavoidable summer-y vibe found within. Have at it.

Ty Segall – Big Man
(Fried Shallots)

Ear attack territory from big lad Ty Segall and the mega ‘Big Man‘. I recently made a Ty Segall afternoon of it and recalled this dynamite opener from the delectable ‘Fried Shallots‘ EP.

Wasted Death – Spat Out
(Ugly As Hell)

Our love affair with Wasted Death started out with their brilliant video for ‘Thickened Skulls and has since resulted in the purchase of a shirt (which our lass hates). ‘Spat Out‘ is gnarly stuff from the power-trio, bringing together the combined powers of noisy men Wayne Adams (Petbrick), Tom Brewins (USA Nails) and Charlie Davis (Beggar). Proper hairs on your chest nastiness, this.

DijahSB (with Harrison) – By Myself
(Head Above the Waters)

Ooof, what a sweet jam. It’s pissing it down as I write this, but it wasn’t when I first heard this sun-soaked delight from Toronto-based rapper DijahSB. Close your eyes and let all this sink in – “the bars hit you like a kick in the chest“!

Raf Rundell (with Man & The Echo) – Luxury
(O.M. Days)

Proper moover and a groover from the new Raf Rundell record – or maybe it’s a hidden gem unearthed from The Human League as surely that’s Oakey on the vocals?! Big shout to equating living in the lap of luxury with getting your PlayStation chipped!

Galliano – Prince Of Peace
(A Joyful Noise Unto The Creator)

No joke this! Completely new to us until it hypnotised me one afternoon as it poured out of the radio (laptop speaker). Mad on the accents on this from the LDN jazz-y hip-hop outfit, having ‘Prince Of Peace‘ sound like it’s box fresh but also definitely something that came out in 1992…

SA

Snapped Ankles – Rhythm Is Our Business
(Forest Of Your Problems)

Mind-bending effort with dancing feet in mind from the ever dependable forest dwellers Snapped Ankles – ‘Rhythm Is Our Business‘ is very much a Ronseal effort from this lot and business is very much good.

Fana Hues – Icarus
(Hues)

Proper dream-like number from Fana Hues out of California, bringing with it an already timeless quality as her voice swirls and swirls around your brain. Rumour has it that when the now 25 year old was a sprog, a heady concoction of scarlet fever, tonsillitis, and strep throat took away her voice for almost five years. Thank Christ it’s back!

Du Blonde – Smoking Me Out
(Homecoming)

Heard this while out walking the dog (where I do most of my listening tbqhwy) and thought it was an unearthed 80’s gem, rather than off the latest album from Du Blonde. Proper heart-swelling, sweet jam from the Newcastle upon Tyne artist that digs in from listen one and doesn’t let up.

Chubby and the Gang – Lightning Don’t Strike Twice

Took us a few listens to clock on with this one (possibly down to having Chubby in need of a throat lozenge shouting down the headphones) but the grab-you-by-the-lapels mix of punk and pub-rock is very much something we’ve come to dig from this lovable gang of characters.

Chrome – SS Cygni
(Alien Soundtracks)

We recently had the pleasure of watching OSEES live (oh if only it had been actually live…) care of the brilliant LEVITATION SESSIONS. The tail end of it featured JPD and his mates tucking into a number of Chrome covers, ending on this gnarly piece of work from the San Fran outfit. Proper hypnosis generated from a track that leans heavy into that famous motto from The Fall – ‘We dig repetition‘.

The Armed – ALL FUTURES
(ULTRAPOP)

This has been causing quite the stir, eh? We were hooked on this ever since the video dropped a few months back (and we got our first glimpse of MASSIVE keys player Clark Huge) – the lead single from their massive new album being such a rush of joy injected directly into your brainbox. Hard not to return straight to the start when this has finished. Unreal.

unnamed

Mr Jukes and Barney Artist – Blowin Steam (Open Up Your Mind)

Yer man from Bombay Bicycle Club has put together a proper chilled hip-hop piece here with help from LDN based Barney Artist, trying their hardest to ensure the sun has his hat on permanently (at the time of writing they’re competing with stubborn Manchester rain…) When Bombay announced they were going on hiatus in early 2016, Jack Steadman dove into his record collection and now five years on we’re chuffed with his most recent output!

Andrew Hung – Space
(Devastations)

I keep thinking this new Andrew Hung track is DEVO when it opens up, the Fuck Buttons bod bringing out a slowed down ‘It’s Not Right‘ vibe on his latest single. As expansive as, well, space, across its near six minutes, Hung really captivates here.

The Week That Was – Scratch The Surface
(The Week That Was)

In the week they released one of their best records to date, it’s actually a Field Music side project that makes the playlist this month. In the research made to accompany our most recent interview with Field Music, there’s been all sorts of discovery around their hiatus following the brilliant ‘Tones of Town‘, one strand of which took us to Peter Brewis‘ fantastic release as The Week That Was. Love that opening line and how there’s no getting around that he’s from the North East.

The Fall – Blindness
(Fall Heads Roll)

CHUG! I know people often complain that they can’t understand what MES is either a) singing or b) on about, so I imagine ‘Blindness‘ just knocks people daft as you can just about make out what he’s saying, most of which is gibberish. Bloody good tune though.

Vaselines

The Vaselines – Son Of A Gun
(Enter The Vaselines)

That Kurt lad was onto something… Spent an entire day in the garden nursing a hangover the other weekend and this from that Vaselines lot was a sun-soaked, hazy bit of required respite.

Paul McCartney – Waterfalls
(McCartney II)

I NEED A! We first heard this via the delectable Cate Le Bon, who covered it so elegantly when we caught her stripped back piano set at the Brudenell in Leeds a few years back. A noted personal favourite of hers, it’s no surprise why. Lovely wordplay from that Paul lad. Sage advice too.

Anz – Unravel in the Designated Zone
(OTMI001)

Love this – dead wonky 80’s vibes aplenty from Manchester based DJ and producer Anz, possibly taking the song title of the year honours too. From OTMI, her very own label, it was expertly described by someone on her Bandcamp as like ‘a cross between an ’80s Capcom platformer and ’90s G-funk‘.

Nice Biscuit – Candle
(Create Simulate)

If you’ve ever thought – I really like Oh Sees and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, but I wish they had a female vocalist – count your lucky stars! Aussie lot Nice Biscuit provide all the raging psych glory of JPD and KG&TLW but with a two pronged female vocal attack, vocalists Billie and Grace steering this mind-bending ship!

Stereolab – Outer Bongolia
(Electrically Possessed [Switched On Volume 4])

Strap yourself in for this! 21 years ago Stereolab were just putting out ‘Outer Bongolia‘, opener from their EP ‘The First of the Microbe Hunters‘. Now it’s been lovingly restored and released this year as part of their ongoing cataloguing of singles, EP releases and other one offs and at just shy of 10 minutes, it’s a wonder you could ever live without the trip that is ‘Outer Bongolia‘!

SL

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Release Rundown – Manchester Orchestra and Teenage Fanclub

Donald Milne

Words: Ben Forrester (Photo Credit: Donald Milne)

It’s that time again for our release rundown for the week, reviewing some brand new records ready for your aural consumption. As always, we gently remind you that these releases are available to buy on the artist’s web stores as well as online at your favourite record shop (and now back in store! Woo!) Pick up if you can.

Manchester Orchestra – The Million Masks of God
(Loma Vista)

MO

In 2017, Atlanta formed outfit Manchester Orchestra released ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’ their most expansive and heart wrenching set to date. It became an instant fan favourite amongst their cult following, whilst continuing their streak of faultless full lengths. Just a few months ago, the band released a full live performance of the album, thus completing its promotional campaign and ushering in their next phase.

The Million Masks of God’ sees lead song-writing duo Andy Hull and Robert McDowell producing album six alongside Catherine Marks (responsible for their previous albums bold, beautiful sound) and Ethan Gruska (responsible for the stunning production on both Phoebe Bridgers LPs). And with a blockbusting team comes a blockbusting effort as Manchester Orchestra continue their journey into the widescreen.

The band coined the term ‘movie album’ to describe their previous release and ‘Million Masks…’ follows that idea, with the album acting as a cohesive listening experience, solidifying the narrative running through it. Conceptually, we follow the story of a man’s encounter with an Angel of Death and we’re shown various scenes throughout his life. This concept was influenced by what was happening personally within the band as guitarist Robert grieved the tragic loss of his father in 2019. Vocalist and guitarist Andy has said that made him evaluate his own life and therefore became a story about the many contrasting avenues of life and the possibilities of what happens beyond that.

If you thought that ‘Black Mile…’ was a heart wrenching affair, then prepare for an emotional roller coaster that is every bit fascinating as it is stunning. ‘Inaudible’ is our opening credits, a scene setting moment set against an almost trademark Manchester Orchestra move, as the band build through a beautiful wall of vocal harmonies. ‘Angel of Death’ introduces us to our main characters and I feel like I’m visited by an otherworldly being through an enticingly urgent bass groove that leads into a gorgeously poised chorus. It’s transcendent but there’s a definite edge that genuinely brought me to the edge of my seat. ‘Keel Timing’ and ‘Bed Head’ keep up the dramatics with two hefty slices of widescreen pop, fizzing with bending guitar riffs and euphoric choruses that continue to show off their incredible harmony work developed on the stunning acapella soundtrack to 2016 film ‘Swiss Army Man’.

I do find that for the most part this moves away from the dynamic rock tone of earlier material (although the drama of ‘Dinosaur’ will definitely satisfy the OG’s), with the second half of the album taking on a much more hushed tone. However, this only builds the atmosphere and emotion that is embedded within this record, ‘Obstacle’ and ‘Way Back’ acting as the thematic heart beat to this album, with references to Robert’s father executed with so much grace and beauty. Although this is meant to be a conceptual piece, you can’t help but be absorbed by how personal these songs actually are and I would probably call this the most fragile piece the band have created.

The Million Masks of God’ is undoubtedly the sequel to ‘A Black Mile to the Surface’ – it takes all the beauty and power behind that album and runs off to the moon with it. This has more twists, more passion, more light and even more shade. Just when you thought Manchester Orchestra have reached their peak, they come out with their biggest statement to date.

Teenage Fanclub – Endless Arcade
(PeMa)

TF

I don’t think I’ve ever used the ‘matured like a fine wine’ cliché before (strangely), but as I sit here taking in the latest LP from Teenage Fanclub, day dreaming about opening the bottle of Shiraz I bought the other night, it feels like a relevant thought. The Glaswegian outfit have been belting out indie rock hits as long as this reviewer has been alive, settling more and more into their sprightly indie pop sound with each new release. ‘Endless Arcade’ is their 11th long player and sees a slight shuffle about in the line-up, including the arrival of keyboardist Euros Childs (great name) from the Psych-Folk mavericks Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

In the same vein of that ace new Dinosaur Jr record I was on about last week, Teenage Fanclub continue to dazzle us with the winning formula they’ve perfected for over 30 years. But like that new Dino record, this still brings in subtle sonic nuances to give it its own identity. For this album, it’s all about its emotional pull. Musically, it’s a sweet indie pop ride soaked in bright guitar chords and vintage organ textures, but its lyrical content goes a lot deeper. You get the feeling there’s a lot on the collective mind hive of Teenage Fanclub, as they work through pensive feelings of loneliness and isolation whilst searching for a positive outcome.

I’ve always been a fan of sunny pop songs with a sad core and ‘Endless Arcade’ is full of ’em. But even songs like ‘The Sun Won’t Shine On Me’ and ‘Warm Embrace’, that long for some warmth, still come in on a floating cloud of sumptuous 60’s inspired pop (the former complete with a sweet little dual guitar solo).

The general notion I get across these songs however is ‘things can be a bit shit, but as long as you have love, it’ll be alright’. ‘Everything Is Falling Apart’ is a key example of this, with its call and response chorus refrain of “everything is falling apart, apart from our love”. There is a lot of warmth rising through these songs, with the psych pop grooves taking over the instrumentals to almost balance out its melancholy.

I’ll admit, I’m fairly new to Teenage Fanclub, but having listened to ‘Endless Arcade’ in the context of their back catalogue, you can’t argue with how consistent this band have been. To me, this still has all the pep and passion of their late 90’s material but naturally with a much wiser head on its shoulders. I can also hear so many different bands – from pop bands to punk bands – that have clearly been inspired by Teenage Fanclub, which is always a nice thing to spot. But the ultimate feeling I get here is the feeling of comfort. There’s a gentle honesty to these songs that take you by the hand as opposed to shoving emotions in your face.

This might not necessarily spark the fire inside a younger indie fan, but those that grew up listening to heart on sleeve guitar pop (and cooking to 6music’s evening programming) will find a lot to bask in within this gracious and gratifying return.

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a/s/l: The Bug Club

Remember the days of the old schoolyard? Remember when Myspace was a thing? Remember those time-wasting, laborious quizzes that everyone used to love so much? Birthday Cake For Breakfast is bringing them back! 

Every couple of weeks, an unsuspecting band will be subject to the same old questions about dead bodies, Hitler, crying and crushes.  

This Week: Ahead of releasing their debut EP ‘Launching Moondream OneThe Bug Club collectively answer a series of inane questions!

a/s/l?
Tilly Harris (Bass/vocals): 27, F, South Wales.
Sam Willmett (Guitar/vocals): 27, M, South Wales.
Dan Matthew (Drums): 25/M/Kidderminster.

Have you ever seen a dead body?
T: No lol.
S: Big no.
D: Loads when I went to Pompeii.

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
T: Wendell cos he doesn’t make me feel like as much of a weakling. God bless you Wendell x
S: Hank Scorpio. I like how his pockets are full of sugar and cream.
D: Sideshow Bob.

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
T: I’m wearing my 80’s stripey Beverly Goldberg number x
S: My fav one. Creepy Glen Campbell, often tucked into my pants a bit by accident.
D: My Greenman Tee.

What did your last text message say?
T: It’s from Sam actually, talking about food…. he had a sanga for lunch (sandwich) and a piece of lemon cake.
S: From Tilly.. “Yeah! Get my mam an extra battered sausage and I’ll share my chips with her” Be nice to ur mums!
D: It’s got sprinkles x

What’s the last song you listened to?
T: New Age Millennial Magic by pals Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard.
S: Shouting in a Bucket Blues by Kevin Ayers. Someone said one of our songs reminds them of it which is a big nice thing to say. I wish I was Kevin Ayers a bit.
D: Masterpiece by Big Thief.

How did you meet the people in your band?
T: Me and Sam were in school together and Sam and Dan were in Uni.
S: School and big school.
D: Me and Sam had to write a song in Uni and then later on he asked me to have a jam.

What’s the first record you bought?
T: I think it was Barbie Girl by Aqua. Tune x
S: A Motörhead CD from a car boot sale because I liked the cover. Was big time into Blue Da Ba Dee by Eiffel 65 for a summer too.
D: The Beatles Love album.

What was your favourite VHS growing up?
T: How young we talking? I think it started off Noddy then went Lion King then Clueless. Pocahontas was also a big one.
S: Toy Story! We had Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but it made me sad.
D: Probably Scooby Doo or Monsters Inc.

When was the last time you cried?
T: I don’t know when this’ll go out but I’m probably crying right now.
S: I copy everything Tilly does so probs now also.
D: A few weeks back.

Have you ever kissed someone & regretted it?
T: No ragrets x
S: Hard to remember… but both times were good I think! X
D: Not that I’m aware of.

Best Physical Feature?
T: My hand feet.
S: My long long legs.
D: My tippy tap toes.

Worst physical feature?
T: My hand feet.
S: Short body. My nips & belly button are almost in a line. Shirts fit weird.
D: A scar on my head from when I cracked it open.

Reasonably ok/not bad feature that you’re not fussed about?
T: My hand feet. They serve a useful purpose but they are fucking hand feet man.
S: Slim wrists. They look lovely but would snap like breadsticks if I ever did a handstand.
D: I have a birthmark on my leg just chillin’.

Do you have any pets?
T: No pets but I have a biological four legged angel son x
S: Big Ted AKA Captain Crunch, The Plum Salesman, The Brown Sniffer, Noodle Boi, Master Chef, Teddy Fantastic and more…
D: I wish, but Tilly’s dog loves me anyways.

Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
T: Yeah my left ears not as young as it used to be.
S: Didn’t hurt much but I got pooped on the other day. Wasn’t on tour either but that’s all I got. It was a Sparrow I think.
D: Not yet!

What did you do for your last birthday?
T: Probably had a take away but I never look back.
S: Sat silently while sweet mother time took another year from me.
D: Ate a ton of food, followed by a food coma.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
T: I can’t wait to get to that age that my Hayfever disappears. Tell me there’s an age.
S: A medium length walk with Teddy Fantastic on this beautiful evening.
D: Festivals to come back!

Do you have a crush on someone?
T: Snape is a lil hotty x
S: Currently working on luvin me x
D: Yeah.

What’s the shittest experience you’ve had as a musician?
T: Every time someone has said “play something we knowwwww
S: Stabbing myself with the pointy guitar string bit EVERY time I change em.
D: When my stool stand snapped in half and I fell back offstage.

If you could go back in time, how far would you go?
T: Never look back x
S: I have dreams where I go right back to the start and it always scares me lots. All the times seem equally terrible so now is probably the best I’d say.
D: Probs to go and see if Rome really was built in a day.

How do you want to die?
T: I don’t wanna know I’m dying so like, a piano crushing me from a tall building In Bruges style or something.
S: Big electric shock on stage after a lil solo would be nice.
D: In a blaze of glory.

What’s your favourite thing about pizza?
T: That there are so many pizza possibilities.
S: It’s pretty round and portable.
D: A good doughy base with homemade pizza sauce and mozzerella.

What are you craving right now?
T: I don’t crave that’s why I need Sam and Dan to tell me what they had for lunch so I can just copy. That Lemon Cake can do one though urgh.
S: I like a cuppa most minutes and an ice cream from a van would be good today.
D: Ice cream.

Have you ever been on a horse?
T: Yeah. Tall ain’t they?
S: No but a sad Donkey on a beach long ago I think. That probably shouldn’t be a thing.
D: No, but I would like to.

What did you dream about last night?
T: I can’t remember 🙁
S: Tilly was delivering packages in space and I was scared. She made me come along and I think the universe was getting smaller very quickly.
D: I can’t remember.

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
T: Yeah lol.
S: I don’t think any baby should have a moustache but that’s just me.
D: Probs not.

Do you like Chinese food?
T: Yeah why? You got some?
S: Yes! Which ones the box meal with rice n chips and the curry sauce? Yeh I’ll have tha one. Every time.
D: Fuck yeah!

Have you ever been on TV?
T: Yeah lol.
S: Yes! Also got papped with the Strictly Come Dancing celebs by accident once. Found myself scared & lost in a sea of dancers and before I knew it was best mates with Craig Revel Horwood.
D: I tried once but it wasn’t a very comfortable chair!

Ever meet someone famous?
T: Yeah lol.
S: Met guitar god Tommy Emmanuel but he started talking to me about motorways so I reversed away to preserve the image of my idol.
D: I met Iwan Rheon once at a gig which was pretty cool

What do you want to be when you grow up?
T: Grown.
S: A nice man who people don’t hate being around.
D: Postman Pat.

Launching Moondream One‘ is out this week via Bingo Records! Grab yourself a copy of the record here!

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Falle Nioke and sir Was share new single ‘Wonama yo ema’ from the Marasi EP

Falle Nioke 2021 photo credit Charlotte Player SMALL

Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Charlotte Player)

It was around this time last year that I first heard the wonderful tones of Falle Nioke, the track ‘Loneliness‘ from his ‘Youkounkoun‘ collaboration with producer Ghost Culture reminding us at times of the soundtrack to Tekken 2 (a good thing). Funnily enough, i’d had a further draft sat in my emails about Falle Nioke and what a life he’d led in his short time on this earth – which accidentally remained a draft unedited for an entire year because, you know, pandemic…

Originally from Guinea Conakry in West Africa, but now living in Margate, Nioke is a Guinean vocalist/percussionist, known to play a range of African instruments and sing in a number of languages. Now 34 years old, following a period travelling around West Africa singing with a troupe of musicians and learning all manner of different cultural rhythms, Nioke arrived in the UK three years ago, making music with a number of producers.

Recent single ‘Rain‘ features vocals in Malinké and Fulani, whilst the latest single is sang in Susu, just three of the seven languages spoken by Falle. ‘Wonama yo ema‘ (meaning “do not look down on people“) is just transcendent – lifting one up with the head-spinning vocals of Nioke and the building, euphoric instrumentation. It marks the first collaboration between Nioke and Swedish producer Joel Wästberg a.k.a. sir Was. Wästberg himself no slouch, having gotten into music at 6 years old, learning the piano, bass, guitar and drums from the tiny village of Frillesås on the western coast of Sweden, an hour or so from Gothenburg.

The story goes that the two musicians knew little about each other when they met at PRAH Studios in Margate, Wästberg having heard just a 30 second snippet of Falle’s vocals through a phone speaker. Pleasantries out of the way, they got to work and magic followed – the fruits available this week, taken from the forthcoming ‘Marasi‘ EP out April 30th on PRAH Recordings.

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“Making music just helps” – An interview with Field Music

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Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Christopher Owens)

In a recent interview, Field Music’s Peter Brewis suggested that, along with brother David, the band had now made more records than Led Zeppelin, with the caveat that they had also “sold about 80 million less…” Sure enough, this week sees the release of ‘Flat White Moon’ – their eighth record (maths according to David Brewis, which is good enough for us) – one which might not help push them across the 80 million mark, but possibly sees them leaving Robert Plant and his mates in the rear view.

The album marks their first new release since the bold ‘Making A New World’, a journey for the ears, documenting the after-effects of the First World War, originating from a project for the Imperial War Museum and performances at their sites in Salford and London in January 2019.

When I catch Peter Brewis on the phone at the start of the week, he’s “Running around like a blue arsed fly”, apologetic for being slightly rushed off his feet due to a broken boiler and pandemic problems, with a child bouncing between being allowed to return to school and being sent home again.

A year ago, prior to broken boilers, the first lockdown and a whole new normal, the only issue Peter had to contend with was finding something to eat. Early January 2020 and we were downstairs at Soup Kitchen in Manchester, tucked into a back room and joined by brother David, putting up with the odour one might know if they’ve been in said establishment (“-we’ve definitely had worse dressing rooms”). Outside of the odour, it didn’t seem strange hours later to be watching Field Music on stage, standing shoulder to shoulder with punters in a tiny basement venue. Equally, it didn’t seem strange a month later to be sat down at the odourless Dancehouse, again watching Field Music perform latest album ‘Making A New World’ in full.

I think we’ve been fairly fortunate in a way, because obviously the last time we did a little tour we just missed lockdown.” Recalls Peter. “We could’ve been in real deep water actually. If the whole Covid thing had kicked off a month earlier, I think we would’ve really struggled.

Pre-pandemic (and Brexit, one would assume), the run up to a tour is filled with all sorts of excitement – mainly watching your collective wallets get lighter. Hotel rooms, paying the band, fuel – all the fun of the fair. Luckily for Field Music, the album tour passed without any documented hitches, finishing up in London at the tail of February 2020 just weeks shy of the first lockdown.

There were people coughing and spluttering all over the place.” Says Peter, highlighting that whilst the London gig had sold well, there was a notable number of punters that hadn’t turned up. “I’ve got a feeling one or two of us caught Covid, I’m almost certain Dave did… He was really ill for a couple of weeks with flu like symptoms basically. Straight after that tour he self-isolated.

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Whilst the remainder of 2020 was spent promoting an album near enough solely via the internet (can you imagine?), the clever Brewis brothers had already begun work in late 2019 – before the pandemic had taken hold – on something outside of ‘Making A New World’, a record they’d confirmed was done and dusted in no time at all given their rehearsing for the Imperial War Museum performances.

…Me and Dave had been recording anyway prior to that, ‘cus we had an idea – let’s do something that’s nothing like ‘Making A New World’, let’s do something where it’s just us playing together, we’re in a band, we’re just gonna rock out. No click tracks, no videos, none of that sort of stuff. Just be like a band, really.

Recording started around October/November 2019 before embarking on tour, the pair working on riffs and simple arrangements, leaning towards the possibility that it could be a live sounding record, just prior to their Sunderland studio shutting its doors. Whilst David struggled with the initial lockdown juggling act of young children at home all the time, Peter was able to mess around with home recordings, putting more consideration into working on lyrics.

I think I would’ve gone stir crazy if I hadn’t been able to do anything. Or I might’ve taken to the bottle – more than I did anyway.” He says. “…I’d been listening to Joni Mitchell, Dylan and Paul Simon, things like that, and I started to appreciate the artistry in their lyrics. I wanted to try a bit harder, really. I suppose because I was dealing with – I think me and Dave were both dealing with heavier subjects. Mind you, there’s nothing that much heavier than the First World War and its aftermath, but in a personal way they were quite raw, personal experiences. I suppose you wanna do them justice really by describing the situations and presenting them in the best way you can.

On ‘Making A New World’, song topics ranged from the marketing of sanitary pads to ‘Best Kept Garden’ competitions, the Dada movement and extreme performance art to necessary advancements in medicine. But rather than just describe the events of the day, Field Music instead wanted to delve into the stories that made up these pieces from history.

We didn’t even really wanna make it about the First World War, we wanted to write emotive story songs, really, about people – make them emotionally engaging, so they’re emotionally engaging for us, not just saying this happened then this happened, but looking at it on a personal level.” Clarifies Peter. “I think doing that, actually writing these sort of personal level stories that weren’t about us helped us prepare for doing this album. You can write about your own experiences, but approach them in a more scene-setting way, rather than just saying – I feel like this, this is how I feel about this… Doing that sort of thing where you present a scene, you present a situation and within that situation… you get more than just a picture, you get a feeling about it, you get an emotion.

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(Photo Credit: Christopher Owens)

Joni Mitchell does that, Paul Simon does that. Paul Simon will do it where he’ll set the scene as if it was almost like setting up a joke. A man walks down the street, says why am I soft in the middle? It is like a joke.” Continues Peter. “He’s probably not the songwriter he once was, but something like early Mark Knopfler sort of stuff and Dire Straits. He sets a scene, talks about being at a fairground, but it’s about being in love. It’s not about being at a fairground, but it doesn’t really talk about being in love, he talks about the fairground or he talks about the quayside or something like that. That’s what I wanted to do – present scenes that meant something to me and hopefully try and get that across. The first person I needed to get that across to is David, really. But obviously Dave’s gonna probably recognise those scenes more than someone who lives in Pittsburgh.

Back in the basement of Manchester’s Soup Kitchen, a comment was left on the table about the decision to push on with ‘Making A New World and other people’s lives, the brothers suggesting they weren’t quite ready to write “a normal Field Music album” for fear of it being potentially too dark. More recent interviews have clarified that most of ‘Flat White Moon’ is about their ‘mam’, who passed away just before the band went on tour for their album ‘Open Here’.

We needed that time off to kind of not think about, to not try and write about the kind of things that had happened or that were happening at the time, because I think it could’ve been very morose, naval gazing, too far down that side…” Says Peter of their feelings around that period. “I don’t think Field Music are particularly good at that sort of thing. Maybe we could be, but I think the thing is we wanna go into the studio together and actually have a good time. If we have to write about sad things or difficult things, I still want within the music, how we play it, to have a bit of joie de vivre about it. Otherwise it could get like one of those jobs that you just don’t want to do.

Acknowledging that whilst “dark and broody” music can be the bread and butter for all manner of great songwriters past and present, confronting negativity head on, Field Musicjust do it in a different way” with positivity being the name of the game when it comes to the music. In the run up to the release of the album, David has said “We want to make people feel good about things that we feel terrible about“. He also suggested that if Van Morrison wants to win him over with his latest release of Covid conspiracy guff, he should at least put in a few hooks and write some better lyrics (which gets a laugh from Peter over the phone).

I think also we wanna make ourselves feel good about things we feel terrible about.” Adds Peter. “…Let’s talk about it, but let’s talk about it with a sense of humour. I think sometimes that’s quite often a good way to confront bad things, with humour.

I’m not saying that we’re a band that just cracks jokes all the time in our music, but I think… don’t be too serious, you know. You can take the situation and the lyrics and the music seriously, but let’s not take ourselves too seriously. I think there’s that thing, sometimes art gets equated – true art has to be dark, has to be miserable and I think that’s doing the whole world of creativity a bit of a disservice really. You can deal with real issues in lots of different ways.

But then isn’t there concern it could go the other way?

I sometimes wonder whether Field Music sort of pigeonhole – we pigeonhole ourselves.” Ponders Peter. “We’re just kind of sprightly all the time. But I think I’d rather that than the other… I think the other thing is, like, dark’s probably – the darkness seems kind of cooler, kind of more fashionable. But it’s just like, fuck that, man. Who cares… We’ve never been that bothered about fashion, being cool or being fashionable. It would never have sat very well with us even when we were in our mid-20’s trying to be cool, we would’ve looked ridiculous. So trying to be cool now, it would be tragic.

On the topic of being cool and avoiding being tragic, the dreaded ‘press release’ has the potential to throw a spanner in the works, with their penchant for hyperbole (“The worst bit of making a record – doing the press release.”) The latest hype for Field Music sets them out as ‘one of the most prolific sets of musical brothers Britain has ever produced‘ (“one of them” adds Peter with a laugh). The Gallaghers? Yes, I guess. The Bee Gees famously lived in Chorlton for a bit… Whilst the brothers Brewis give it the final once over before it goes out, the drafting of such a thing isn’t particularly Peter’s forte.

I find it much easier to talk to someone about it and waffle, rather than trying to write an essay. I was always one of those kids at school who waffled loads in an essay, kind of had no connectivity to it, it was just not structured because the ideas would be kind of flowing out all over the place and some of them would be other people’s ideas. Yeah, just like a complete waffler, as you well know.” He says, with what one assumes is a smile.

IF anyone gives a shit, then it gets regurgitated and the lines, the quotes that you’ve said, get used again and again and again. I get quite nervous about that.

Quite right too – nervous to make a definitive statement and having this hanging over one’s head sounds about right for a band followed by a 2012 article in The Guardian.

Like the old 5 grand – we only earned 5 grand a year. Well in that headline we also didn’t say our wives earned 15 grand and we also have other jobs.” He laughs. “None of that, all we’ve got is 5 grand a year.

On top of that there’s the comparisons, which – admittedly – I’m sure we’ve been guilty of too. In recent months the Brewis brothers have started their own Field Musicast (catchy!) where in amongst the usual suspects, they’ve highlighted influences from the likes of Fleetwood Mac to Bob Dylan (“Well he just keeps giving, Dylan.”) Having very recently discovered ‘Black Sea’, we’ve fallen in with the others that have clocked the connection between Swindon’s XTC and Sunderland’s Field Music. Whilst the brothers both owned a number of XTC records, delving in too deep has been avoided due to such comparisons.

“I think the main thing there is we’re mainly influenced by a) many of the same things that XTC would’ve been influenced by, which is just kind of 60’s pop alongside this new wave energy. The other thing is The Futureheads. I think me being in The Futureheads back in the day and them being part of basically the same musical upbringing as we had, Barry was really influenced by XTC I think and I think we were maybe more influenced by The Futureheads than by XTC, if you know what I mean. Sometimes if you cross WIRE with The Beatles you might get somewhere near XTC, that’s maybe what we’ve done.

Orion From the Street’ – the first single from the new record – was described by Peter on release as a snapshot of “how intense impressions of love, hate, grief and guilt can be an almost hallucinatory experience“, brought on by Studio Ghibli, a documentary about Cary Grant and too much wine. The initial idea of the record being straight forward, dead simple and just the Brewis brothers playing together was soon “out of the window” once Peter had written its first single, with additions soon added at home in the way of instrumental recordings and orchestral flourishes they’d previously produced thrown in to make a type of collage.

Such is the Field Music method, with songs almost becoming ‘Peter songs’ and ‘David songs’ due to tracks being near fully formed or at the very least having a firm idea before they even reach the studio.

It’s like what George says – if you want me to play anything, just tell me what to play. If you don’t want me to play anything, I won’t.” Says Peter, the Beatles references not ending there – backing vocals normally done together at one microphone, Lennon and McCartney style, trying to put each other off. “That is how we do most things really. It’s literally like – if you need me, then I’ll do whatever you need me to do. That’s how we do it.

Elsewhere on the record, ‘Do Me A Favour‘ follows tracks from the brilliant ‘Open Here‘ like ‘Share A Pillow‘ and ‘No King No Princess‘, riffing on the father-child relationship and the occasional troubles found within, this time around Dad needing some co-operation from a daughter deep into her ‘terrible twos’. In amongst the more serious topics, there’s sweetness behind tracks like this and David has suggested with a ‘Do Me A Favour’, it’s about writing “really simple and direct – something which didn’t require any interpretation”.

I think it just makes for kind of a slightly more wide-ranging record really, something that has ups and downs.” Says Peter, suggesting that if they wanted to do a record that dealt with a particular theme, they might explore solo avenues again (Peter having previously produced a solo record under the guise of The Week That Was, whilst David also produces music as School of Language).

The Beatles were our model, really. I think they were the model when we first started doing Field Music, it was just write any old thing. Write anything we want, about whatever you want. Doesn’t have to be a theme, doesn’t have to have a concept, just whatever’s at the forefront of your mind, let’s just write that. After ‘Tones of Town’, where we decided we didn’t want to do the band anymore, we figured out actually if we wanted to do these things which had a theme or a style, then we could do that on our own.” He suggests. “We don’t treat Field Music like that really, I don’t think. But then again, Field Music can just be whatever we decide it is at that particular time, so I don’t think we really worry about it.

Back to that press release hyperbole, a word that has suddenly started making an appearance for Field Music is ‘playful’, slotting them in good company with Celine Dion (“perfect”). It’s no surprise, given their ‘No Pressure‘ video is such a joy – a tongue in cheek look at how the band produce a song. Outside of some of the themes found throughout the album and the dreaded pandemic, the production of ‘Flat White Moon’ appears to have been particularly fun, fitting with the pair and their intentions to make themselves feel good about things they feel terrible about.

Making music just helps, I’m sure David would say this as well – it makes us feel better.” Suggests Peter. “I think we need to do it to maintain some semblance of ourselves. Even if nobody cared and we didn’t get chance to release any records, we would still do it – either together or separately.

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Read our review of ‘Flat White Moon‘ here!

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Release Rundown – Field Music and Dinosaur Jr.

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Words: Ben Forrester (Photo Credit: Cara-Totman)

It’s that time again for our release rundown for the week, reviewing some brand new records ready for your aural consumption. As always we’d like to gently remind you that these releases are available to buy on the artist’s web stores as well as at your favourite record shop (both online and now back in store! Woo!) Pick up if you can.

Field Music – Flat White Moon
(Memphis Industries)

We are fast approaching the 20th anniversary since David and Peter Brewis began Field Music. In that time, Sunderland’s favourite twosome have continued to hone their craft, forming a distinct sound and handing in faultless album after faultless album. ‘Flat White Moon’ is their eighth full length, coming fairly hot on the heels of last years ‘Making A New World’. This was seen as probably the band’s most ambitious project, a sprawling concept album about the after effects of the First World War, initially performed at the Imperial War Museums back in 2019. To follow this up, it would seem that the Brewis brothers have decided to take things a little more back to basics.

The album was teased at the start of the year by the beautiful ‘Orion From The Street’. It was the glittering keys and subtle psych-pop textures that really grabbed me on first listen. I wondered if this shimmering, revitalising tone would carry across the record. The short answer is yes but in spite of the expansive pop vibe of its opener, to me this looks back on the band’s musical history in order to move forward.

Whilst writing ‘Making A New World’, the brothers were working though personal grievances, using the concept of the album almost as an escape from their usual, autobiographical songwriting style. ‘Flat White Moon’ can be quite reflective as a result, but ultimately it feels optimistic, moving through the shade to find the light.

Musically, Field Music seem to move only just slightly away from the broader, cinematic nature of their last two records in favour of a more traditional rock band set up. I find myself thinking back to their first two records when I hear this, which I think is what makes it such a revitalised listen.

As we flicker between Peter’s wonky pop rock and David’s grooved up funk, you can’t not help but feel the warmth coming through these performances. I really enjoy the off mic ‘woos’ on tracks like ‘Meant To Be’ and ‘Invisible Days’. And as always, FM are proud to nod to their influences – from the McCartney-esque pomp of ‘Do Me A Favour’ to the Prince like falsetto funk of ‘No Pressure’ or even its charming closer ‘You Get Better’. Of course, it wouldn’t be an FM record without some weird time signatures and some orchestral flourishes thrown in to keep us on our toes.

Flat White Moon’ is aware of the pressures and unexpected lows that life can throw at you but tries to have a bit of fun while it can. Field Music sound like a band refreshed, getting back to the wonky pop bangers we love them for. Couple this with forever forward thinking production and further hints to their extensive record collections and you have, in my eyes, their most consistent and enjoyable album since 2012’s ‘Plumb’.

Dinosaur Jr – Sweep It Into Space
(Jagjaguwar)

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We’ve written a lot about reunions on this site over the years; the good, the bad and the greedy. But there’s a select few bands that get back together, deliver a load of wonderfully consistent records and have never sounded better. US indie rock gods Dinosaur Jr. definitely fall into this category. Now in their 13th year of reunion, J, Lou and Murph have delivered possibly some of their best material to date across four critically acclaimed full lengths. ‘Sweep It Into Space’ is comeback album number five, album twelve in total!

I always look forward to a new Dinosaur Jr. record, but when I found that the slacker rock prince himself Kurt Vile was involved as co-producer and providing a few solos, I got extremely excited.

Kurt Vile’s 2018 LP ‘Bottle It In’ was a superbly executed alt rock record full of warming production and a few ripping guitar solos. The idea of him working alongside the king of tone himself, J Mascis, feels like such a great fit. But although I can hear elements of Kurt’s laid back demeanour In some of these tracks, this is undoubtedly Dinosaur Jr. doing what they do best. I was a big fan of the bands previous LP ‘Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not’, it seemed to have everything, but there was a pretty bold rock tone that ran throughout it. Although there is a big bold rock tone that runs through everything this band do, here they focus on a slacker pop vibe and the general feel is so sprightly and full of light.

I Ain’t’ opens the album like a sonic hug from a pal, J’s hazy vocal floating on top of Murph’s driving drums that burst into a bubble gum pop chorus. ‘I Met The Stones’ keeps the energy up with almost 80s metal inspired guitar chugs, before launching back into another belting indie pop chorus. Elsewhere we have the fully raging alt country goes rock pomp of ‘I Ran Away’ that falls into the beautiful low-key groove of ‘Garden’, which sees Lou take to the front of stage for his traditional two-tracks-per-album lead vocal performance.

What I find so great about ‘Sweep It Into Space’ is that it seems to encompass quite a few variations within the rock genre but always comes out as Dinosaur Jr. I found myself singing along to every song on first listen, they just feel so timeless, easily matching up to the best of their early ’90s material. I think that’s the genuine beauty of this band, they are excellent songwriters that clearly have chemistry that has spanned a pretty hefty career of nearly 40 years in the game together. With the screws just a little bit tighter than its predecessor, this is a solid set of breezy, summer-ready rock songs from undoubtedly one of the best guitar bands around.

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This One Song… Field Music on Not When You’re In Love

Tell you what – we love hearing from artists when things go right. We equally love hearing from artists when things go dreadfully wrong. A song that was a piece of piss, written in 20 minutes? Or years in the making and a bastard to write?

Whether it’s a song that came together through great duress or one that was smashed out in a short amount of time, we’re getting the lowdown from some of our favourites on the one song that they can’t stop thinking about – in their own words.

In the run up to the release of their tremendous new album ‘Flat White Moon‘, we had the pleasure of having a long chat with Peter Brewis of Field Music. In the process, Peter went into great detail about one of our favourite tracks, ‘Not When You’re In Love’ (“You’ve got great taste”). We’re pretty chuffed on this one. Take it away, Peter

“It had initially been a piano part. So what I’ll do is, I’ll sit down on my laptop with the keyboard there and I’ll try and record using MIDI… Quite often I’ll just sort of use MIDI… I used to do that quite a lot – I probably still should really, just mess around on the piano – because I’ll come up with riffs that I wouldn’t normally do on guitar. So if I do a guitar riff, I’ve got to be really careful not to just revert back to type and just do ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ backwards, if you know what I mean. Which I did anyway with ‘Meant To Be’ on this record, but there you go.

So yeah, I had that piano part kicking around for ages and I don’t even think I really liked it that much… I probably had the drum beat there as well on MIDI. I think me and David quite often do this thing where if we’ve got a drumbeat, the way to stop it from being too boring or exactly knowing how it’s gonna go, is to say just put the snare on the 1. Instead of putting the bass drum on the 1 *makes bass drum sounds*, put the snare on the 1 *makes snare drum sounds*. We quite often do that…

Sometimes it reminds me of that bit in ‘Some Kind of Monster’ – I don’t know whether you’ve seen it – but Lars Ulrich is trying to come up with a new drum beat and it’s kind of a bit like that, the Lars bad drum beat. That’s what I think of it as – Lars trying to do something different and it being kind of rubbish. How could you do that Lars bad drum beat? Hetfield wouldn’t have liked it, but maybe we can do something with it *laughs*

So musically, that was it really… The music is just one thing all the way through. I think I would’ve had these other lyrics knocking about, they wouldn’t have even been lyrics, I think I just started writing down thoughts and scenes – each verse is a scene. I can’t remember how I thought of it, but it was just… It’s essentially along the same lines as songs like ‘What Is Love’. It’s a question – how do you know what being in love is? How do you know whether you are or whether you’re not or whether you have been? When do these moments and scenes matter when you think you might be in love or you think you might not be? Essentially the song’s just a bunch of scenes – you’re in that scene and this is the situation and you’re asking yourself – am I in love or was I in love? Every verse is different. Am I in love? Was I in love? What does even ‘in love’ mean?

It’s in that sort of fine tradition of Haddaway’s What Is Love’ or ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’, Foreigner. It is a bit of a joke song, really – I wanted it to be – but it’s also a joke in desperation, in a way, like I really would like to know what I’m doing, what this is all about. I suppose I was also thinking of it being like a Joni Mitchell sort of style, where you almost like… I dunno, where the phrasing’s kind of talk-sung almost. The phrasing fits – there’s not necessarily a melody to it, there’s a few notes that I use – whatever the words are, that’s the phrasing you use.

I had the verses and the piano riff probably quite a while ago really, longer than a year ago. I’d done a demo of it actually and I basically just kind of shouted the lyrics on the demo and I actually just thought – you know what, I can’t recapture this feeling that I got from the demo – so the lyrics on there are actually just from the demo. The singing. It can be a little bit pitch-y at times, but I think maybe that’s the sort of thing I should think about doing more. Just be a bit more off the cuff sometimes. Stop trying to be in tune, stop trying to sing it right and just sing it cool or sing it with a bit of gusto, not really caring that it’s for consumption.

Then I thought – it doesn’t really have a chorus. I thought – right, what can I do. Again, I just kind of fell back on that sort of Beatles thing – just repeat… just do some kind of George Harrison sort of thing, then punctuate it with that sort of really low voice that we’ve done occasionally, ‘cus Dave can sing very high and I generally sing very low.

Then me and Dave just peppered the song with various little bits and bobs, some kind of Morse code synths on there and a Richard Thompson-esque sort of guitar solo, I think that’s what I was trying to do. Dusting off the Strat, got as trebly as I can. Dave kept saying “Turn it up, turn it up in the mix. Turn it up – it needs to be, sort of, almost offensive in the mix.” Then there was a sort of ‘Tango In The Night’ style Fleetwood Mac ohhs and ahhs, which Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie had done on ‘Everywhere’ and ‘Big Love’, things like that. It’s just very simple, It’s essentially just one thing all the way through. I think the other thing, I was listening to sort of hip-hop records at the time and kind of got back into ‘Odelay’ by Beck and listening to De La Soul – one riff quite often all the way through. That’s ok, you can do that, as long as little things come in and out, to stop it from being too monotonous.

We just need to figure out how to play it live now. Poor Dave – he has to do some serious drumming on that one. He’s basically gotta play the drums and the percussion part at the same time and it’s… I dunno, I’m asking a lot of him really. But he’s done it you know, I don’t know how he’s done it. I always thought I was the better drummer, but I don’t think I am you know. It’s annoying.

FWM

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WATCH: Chubby and the Gang rip it up in new video for ‘Lightning Don’t Strike Twice’

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Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Will Van Hoorn)

Listen to the new Chubby and the Gang single and you’ll soon realise – Chubby don’t just wear those Motörhead shirts for a laugh, ya know? Cut him open and you’ll find he’s pub rock through and through!

Lightning Don’t Strike Twice’ has got ANTHEM written all over it – one finds it hard not to shout along with the hoarse vocal of Manning as he hollers ‘Maybe baby, I was born to lose!‘ The video, directed by Jasper Cable-Alexander, draws inspiration from internet cafés you might have found back in the ’90s (not us, mind – too busy being little kids…)

When he’s not moonlighting as an electrician, leader of the pack Charlie ‘Chubby‘ Manning is putting out ripper after ripper with the rest of the ‘Gang‘ and latest single ‘Lightning Don’t Strike Twice’ marks their first new material since last year’s breakout debut LP ‘Speed Kills‘ (produced by Jonah Falco of Fucked Up).

From a new double-A side 7″ single (joined with ‘Life’s Lemons’) out May 28th on Partisan, chances are you’ll be hearing both tunes on a 12″ full length at some point this year (keep it to yourself!) On top of that, a mammoth tour has just gone up with 40-date listed throughout the UK and Ireland later this year – tickets and all that jazz are on sale today!

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Release Rundown – The Armed and Cory Hanson

It’s that time again for our release rundown for the week, reviewing some brand new records ready for your aural consumption. As always, we gently remind you that these releases are available to buy on the artists web stores as well as online at your favourite record shop (and now back in store! Woo!) Pick up if you can.

The Armed – ULTRAPOP
(Sargent House)

UP

Furiously blending hardcore, math, thrash and metal across three full lengths, whilst putting on the most bonkers and therefore best live shows going, The Armed seemed to be alt-metal’s best kept secret. But now feels like their moment to cast their nets wider. When they released new single ‘ALL FUTURES’ back in January alongside a blistering live video, the internet blew up with the whole alt scene losing their shit at the balls-out brilliance of this slacker thrash banger. I was one of the many that sat firmly up, wagging my tail ready to take album four for a walk.

ULTRAPOP’ has been described by the Detroit collective as the musical description of what it entails, furthermore calling it the harshest, most beautiful, most hideous thing they could make. This is exactly what this is. It’s super intense, noisy as hell but stuffed with the kind of euphoria you’d expect from sliding down a rainbow. ‘AVERAGE DEATH’ has one of the most hectic choruses I’ve ever heard in my life. The drums are so pummelling I feel like my arms are going to fall off just listening to it. The guitars are maxed out to sound like an amp has been stapled to your ears and then there’s this sickly sweet gang vocal over the top that sounds like It’s been sang by the cast of Sesame Street. It’s pretty chaotic but it makes me feel immortal.

This is something that The Armed employ a lot through the record, finding shimmering glimpses of beauty within a heap of fuzzy chaos. Recent single ‘AN ITERATION’ is another extremely fine example of a glorious, glittering chorus poking out of a full throttle, chunked out riff and beat combo (imagine Broken Social Scene jamming with Lightning Bolt).

At this point I have to shout out drummers Ben Koller (of Converge fame) and Urian Hackney who are just out of this world on this album. I’m not sure who plays on what, but the blast beats in ‘FAITH IN MEDICATION’ are just godly and that fill on ‘A LIFE SO WONDERFUL’ is jaw dropping. I’m knackered just thinking about it. That’s the thing with The Armed, they know what they’re doing, they only bring in the best and with guitarist Dan Greene taking on production duties for the first time, their vision has never been stronger.

Mostly this is an album about taking bitter sweet pop melodies, adding a punkish urgency then running off a cliff with it. But it’s actually the glitch pop groove of ‘BAD SELECTION’ that ended up being my MVP. Not only is it supremely catchy and has gotten me out of a chair every time I hear it, but it’s a brief nod into what else this band can do. It’s a tease, a peek into something else which I love the idea of.

Honestly, I can’t help but feel excited about this album, every twist and turn is equally as enthralling and I find myself giddy to see where we’ll go next. ‘ULTRAPOP‘ is the sound of a band pushing through to the other side. It builds on the foundations of previous album ‘ONLY LOVE’, extenuating its light and shade to the max. Although I can pick out loads of different reference points from across the musical spectrum, I am revitalised by its delivery. It is the perfect marriage of the deranged and the pretty, completely off the wall but caked in charm. You know how everyone is stoked about lockdown easing but it also still feels like the end of the world? That’s ‘ULTRAPOP‘. It’s fucking terrifying but oh my word is it thrilling.

Cory Hanson – Pale Horse Rider
(Drag City)

PHR

Despite a couple of track releases here and there, it’s been an oddly quiet couple of years on the release front for Cory Hanson. The leader of LA based fuzz-psych outfit Wand, his band are usually a nonstop record making machine. But I guess it’s this gap in time that has led the singer songwriter to focus on his solo musings, working on the follow up to his 2016 debut. Having spent the last few years constantly evolving and shapeshifting within Wand’s musical direction, ‘Pale Horse Rider’ sees Cory write his most focused album to date.

This is a glorious slice of slow baked Americana that was very fittingly recorded in the desert to help create a low stress environment. It’s very easy to be swept away by the gentle, lap steel soaked instrumentals while Cory really comes into his own as a vocalist with a poised, soulful croon. ‘Paper Fog’ is the most gorgeous introduction as to what you’re going to hear across this record, the half time country flecked melody feeling like the musical equivalent of easing yourself into an ice cube bath on a sweltering day.

I still can’t get Thom Yorke out of my mind when I hear his voice, which of course is a good thing, but there is definitely an American twang that comes through that keeps in line with the US born genre that encompasses the record. Again, there’s a distinctiveness to its sound and after years of shapeshifting, it’s good to hear Cory feel at home within a genre. Of course there are subtle sonic nuisances that come out from track to track and it’s those small psych infused effects that really help bring out Cory’s personality.

I listened pretty closely for a few days before I did any reading up on the album, but I did make that desert connection quite quickly. In fact, later on the record there’s ‘Another Story from the Center of the Earth’ which conjured up such a strong image within my mind. In it I am taken into a dusky saloon late at night as Cory and his band are set up in the corner of the bar ripping through this wonderful psych-country piece, complete with some fuzzy guitar solos. You can feel the energy of the band as everyone in the bar quietly looks on, disillusioned both by the heat and the passion pouring out of the corner of the room.

What really grabbed me is how both this track and earlier cut ‘Bird of Paradise’ are brought in on two interludes. It first took me off guard but their atmospheric ambient textures really set up the two centrepieces within the two sides of the record. There is a flow to this album that draws you away from the real world and guides you into the dusky abyss but it feels all so enlightening, especially when you’re all warmed up by the hooks that cover each chorus (‘Vegas Knights’ being my favourite).

You know when you watch an (early) episode of The Simpsons and it sometimes takes a minute to get to the main plot, but when you know where it’s going you’re like ‘oh I love this one’? Well, that’s how I feel about Pale Horse Rider. Every track seems to lead to somewhere good, whether it’s a heart achingly beautiful chorus or an elegantly placed melody line, I feel compelled to go with it. I am also reminded of that Laura Marling record that came out around this time last year. Not only was it an ideal sun basking soundtrack but it ticked every box; beautiful songs, played expertly and produced to perfection. And that is what Cory Hanson and this band elegantly display on this superbly executed record that to me feels timeless.

Hanson

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This One Song… Total Wkts on Private Republic

Tell you what – we love hearing from artists when things go right. We equally love hearing from artists when things go dreadfully wrong. A song that was a piece of piss, written in 20 minutes? Or years in the making and a bastard to write?

Whether it’s a song that came together through great duress or one that was smashed out in a short amount of time, we’re getting the lowdown from some of our favourites on the one song that they can’t stop thinking about – in their own words.

In the run up to the release of latest album ‘No Holiday‘ (available to pre-order on very limited vinyl – 300 copies – out via Pets Care Records on 16/04/21), John Newton talks us through the latest from his Total Wkts project, of which we’re chuffed to be featuring the exclusive video down below! Take it away, John

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Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Leona Farrugia)

Arguably one of the slightly lighter moments on No Holiday, Private Republic was written at the back end of the summer in my shoebox flat in South London. Having written the first collection of Total Wkts songs Running Tracks whilst out in the wilds of my childhood countryside town (because of the movements of the pandemic), you could probably interpret the second bunch as coming from the claustrophobia of a return to the city.

Over the years, I’ve become pretty well trained at knowing how to counteract the pressure and lack of space, and ultimately, I found a lot of solace in making these tracks in amongst the limitations. They helped me gather routine and focus that could easily have become lost.

Having built a process via the first record, Private Republic seemed to flow out of my fingertips relatively easily. I’ve deliberately allowed myself the freedom to wander through ‘Total Wkts’, and I liked how playful the lyrics are – clashing words within syllabic structure. Content-wise, I remember reading some articles on different attitudes to Public/Private Realms (Hannah Arendt’s proposals based upon the arrangements of Ancient Greek Society amongst others) and this seemed relevant with all the changes to our contemporary lives.

After showing the initial version of the track to my partner, she said that it had a dash of The B52’s – which I took very positively – especially as it stands out a little from the more haunting industrial clattering of other tracks. I hope you enjoy it.

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a/s/l: worriedaboutsatan

Remember the days of the old schoolyard? Remember when Myspace was a thing? Remember those time-wasting, laborious quizzes that everyone used to love so much? Birthday Cake For Breakfast is bringing them back! 

Every couple of weeks, an unsuspecting band will be subject to the same old questions about dead bodies, Hitler, crying and crushes.  

This Week: In the run up to the release of new album ‘Providence‘, worriedaboutsatan answer a series of inane questions!

a/s/l?
37/m/bradford, uk.

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
I have a soft spot for Moe, just because he has so many good one-liners, but I also really like the obscure one-off characters like Detective Don Brodka, or the beekeeper that talks like Adam West.

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
This!

What did your last text message say?
I think it was to my dad, as he’d finally cracked open the bottle of whisky I bought him for Christmas. It said “oooh, lovely!’ haha.

Whats the last song you listened to?
It was Hoch Wie Nie by Falco (the guy who did Rock Me Amadeus) – he’s really good, but had no idea as had never gone past the novelty of Rock Me Amadeus. Here’s the video, it’s wicked.

What’s the first record you bought?
I can’t remember the first one I bought with my own money, but I do have a recollection of my mum getting me Monster by REM on tape back in the early 90s.

What was your favourite VHS growing up?
It’d have to be the ones me and my brother made of various Alan Partridge episodes. We learned them word for word!

How would describe your upcoming record in 5 words?
Floaty, sad but sometimes happy.

When was the last time you cried?
I’ve no idea tbh – might’ve been when my old cat died.

Best physical Feature?
Ooof, I’ve no idea on this one! Maybe my hair?!

Worst physical feature?
To quote Homer Simpson – “just my bones. and organs”.

Do you have any pets?
No, but would like one. Saltaire, where I live, is essentially just a big cat sanctuary which people live in.


Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
Plenty! I had minor surgery on my back once, and against medical advice, played a gig whilst it was still healing. It popped open onstage, so had to run to LGI after the gig to get it fixed.

What would be your dream tour?
Literally anything at the moment, haha! I just want to go and play, it’s been so long! Perhaps me, Maybeshewill and Explosions can get together to do an all-star monsters of post rock tour eh?

What did you do for your last birthday?
Nothing! It was lockdown, so I think I just hung around the house or went to work maybe.

Favourite guitar pedal?
The Oceans 11 by Electro Harmonix – so so so good!

Least favourite guitar pedal?
I had a Boss DS1 once, which just sounded awful – could’ve just been that pedal though in fairness.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
Gigs!!!

What’s the shittiest experience you’ve had as a musician?
Good lord, there are so SO many. A few highlights (probably missing a lot of really juicy ones too, but these are just off the top of my head):

  • being signed, then dropped from a label so quickly the legal guy hadn’t heard and still sent me a contract.
  • being booted off a gig line-up for a bigger artist and not being told until I emailed asking if everything was ok about a week before.
  • having a 12” in a production queue, then the label promptly forgetting about it, and never speaking to me again.
  • a guy in a big post rock band asking me, out of the blue, for guestlist to a satan show I was also promoting (tickets were £5), who then never showed up or spoke to me ever again.
  • being asked to play a much later set at an all dayer so that another band could get an early night as they were going hiking (?!) the day after.

If you could go back in time to see a specific band at a certain point in their existence, who and when would it be?
I bet The B-52’s in the early 80s would be loads of fun.

How do you want to die?
Er.. not sure?

What’s your favourite thing about pizza?
That first bite – ho, lordy.

What are you craving right now?
Pizza, now you mention it.

Have you ever been on a horse?
Fraid not!

What did you dream about last night?
I had it until you just said, and now I can’t remember! It wasn’t fun or exciting though – my dreams tend to be fairly sedate, or like admin based or something.

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
Oh aye.

Do you like Chinese food?
Yup – chicken chow mein is my guy.

Have you ever been on TV?
Not like normal TV, but I have been on stuff that’s been filmed for youtube, etc.

Ever meet someone famous?
Yeah, a few times! I met Karl Hyde from Underworld once, and he was just the nicest dude. Also Adam Curtis (obviously).

If worriedaboutsatan was a chocolate bar, which one would it be?
I’m quite partial to a snickers, which would probably sum me up quite nicely – a bit spiky, but mainly soft and smooth (lol).

Providence‘ is out May 7th via our friends at Box Records! Grab yourself a copy of the record here!

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