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Pip Blom

Welcome Break

    There are approximately a great deal and very many ‘Welcome Breaks’ scattered throughout the sprawling motorways of the UK.

    Now, regardless of whether that statement’s true or not… when life’s become a series of long-stretches and welcomed breaks, it’s to no avail that sometimes all it takes to alleviate spirits is the simplest, of experiential indulgences.

    Be it the buzz of an overly exhausted tour van, or the green light and smell of sausage rolls in the near Beaconsfield distance... inspiration can be found in the funniest corners of this place we call home; and it’s in the heart of day-to-day simplicities and sprawling services, that we gladly receive Amsterdam’s beamy-grinned, indie-pop powerhouse Pip Blom, back into lives.

    Following an extensive touring schedule which saw the Dutch 4-piece roam over field, oceans, and Glastonbury’s John Peel stage following the release of their debut record ‘Boat’, any such cool-cat would be forgiven for wanting to kick back, and indulge in some very appreciated, time off.
    As is often the way, such timely-abandon cannot be said for Pip Blom however, who immediately began to gather up all her soaked-up inspirations taken from the road, and manifest a re-energised sense of self, and ritualistic songwriting.

    Cosying down in a room of her parents’ house (which she shares with her brother and fellow bandmate Tender Blom), Pip, a self-confessed “fan of deadlines”, set aside three months to write twenty songs- sixteen of which
    were to become demos for the band to structure and flesh out, once in the studio together.

    It’s at this stage in our indie-fairy-tale that things start to get ever so 2020. Whilst the world was suddenly put on hold as a result of Covid-19, Pip Blom, who’d made plans to return to their favourite ‘Big Jelly Studios’ in Ramsgate, England, were suddenly faced with a very sticky, kind of dilemma. “We’d scheduled to go into the studio in September but summer started moving and there were a couple of countries not allowed to go to the UK anymore... a week before we had to go, the Netherlands was one of those countries”- notes Pip.

    Sentimentalities, and pre-established friendships (by way of Grammy award-winning engineer Caesar Edmunds) took president, and the decision was made to pack up their gear and a variety of board games and exercise equipment, all in preparation of a fourteen-day quarantine faced upon arrival in the UK.

    In total, three weeks were spent recording what would become the groups sophomore release; a Al Harle engineered love-affair which was self produced entirely by the band and culminated in a legally intimate, fully seated album play-back, to six, of Ramsgate’s most chorus-savvy and ‘in the-know’ residents.

    Getting out of their hometown and into an environment which removed all notions of “normality” or personal space, was an atmospheric godsend in terms of motivation; an act which encouraged Pip Blom to re-adjust and buckle down as a unit again, after spending so long in mandatory isolation.
    Much like the danceable-realism of Pip’s beloved Parquet Courts, the key to an album well done, is the balancing act of fine-production, and capturing that core live-essence we all miss. “We always play one live track three times and after we then build that track in the studio” says Pip, assembling together amalgamated “live-energies” in order to produce a capsule of environmental-satisfaction, that can be appreciated during any time of day, or life’s little moments.

    Actively seeking out moments of creative-authenticity, be it via a slightly out-of-tune guitar or proudly-fuzzed vocals, Pip Blom take us back full circle and introduce us to their ‘Welcome Break’- an eleven-track release which resonates with about as much decisive allure as it’s ‘Boat’ precursor, but this time with a bit more contemporary chaos to boot.

    Where ‘Boat’ reckoned as a fresh-faced, yet gloriously fearless game changer, ‘Welcome Break’ is the self-assured older sibling who, with an additional year or two behind themselves, isn’t afraid to speak out, take lead, and instigate a liberated revolution-come-bliss-out.

    Lead single’s ‘Keep It Together’ and ‘You Don’t Want This’ are glistening masterclasses in feel-good chorus- the very kind of coming-of-age relatability where a soul would want to let down their hair, stick their arm out the window of their best friends car and roll with the motions in a rapture of soundtracked euphoria, and jangled adventure.

    Unhinging genre in our instant-access era of musical snoot, no-one does an enthused-chorus quite like Pip Blom yet much can be said for this gang being far from one-trick-ponies.

    Anthemic drifters ‘Different Tune’ and ‘It Should Have Been Fun’ are slow building, amplified highlights. Carrying all the weight of convicted fearlessness on their shoulders, Pip Blom unhinge pre-disposed expectations of crafted alternative like graduates straight outta Kim Deal’s school of rock, whilst closing number ‘Trouble In Paradise’, sets the tone for what will only be the ultimate, set-list once gigs resume again.

    With Pip Blom, no mood is untouched nor sense of renewal left behind. The trick to it all? As Pip reveals: “I just really like catchy songs and I feel like that’s something we try to do. I’d classify it as being sentimental – it’s not sugar-happy Pop.... more like ‘Titanic’ pop songs...”

    For those of us missing the buzzed adrenaline of communal music exploration, the idea of escapism in cramped and sweaty crevices can seem quite lifeless. If it's a sense of community you’re after then look no further than ‘Pip Blom Backstage’.

    Streaming goodness 24/7 as a fan-centric loyalty app, ‘Pip Blom Backstage’ gives access to exclusive news, premium content, and, a chat box for the Pip Blom Backstage community; further cementing Pip Blom as undeniable pals for life as fan-clips, spotify playlists and even a cooking lesson from bassist Darek Mercks, are all made available from the VIP lounge of your own back-pocket.

    In conclusion, there're actually thirty-five ‘Welcome Break’ pit stops a weary traveller can make in a lifetime spent on the M1, and it’s associates. Whilst the road’s presently a little less travelled, Pip Blom’s ‘Welcome Break’ is adamantly nothing to do with the present state of affairs. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with much at all and that’s the way they like it.
    ‘Welcome Break’ is but two nouns of which when placed together in context, ring confidently with prowess, intent, and a radiant true-spirit - much like Pip Blom herself. 


    TRACK LISTING

    1 You Don't Want This
    2 12
    3 It Should Have Been Fun
    4 Keep It Together
    5 Different Tune
    6 I Know I’m Not Easy To Like
    7 Faces
    8 I Love The City
    9 Easy
    10 Holiday
    11 Trouble In Paradise

    Working Men's Club

    X

      X is the first new music from Working Men’s Club since their acclaimed self-titled debut was released in the autumn of 2020, the album was the band’s perfect statement of intent, X is the delivery, the message, the action.

      X rides on a sustained attack and gives way to a glorious synth heavy release of a chorus that’s just biding its time for a summer of discontent and dancing. This is the sound of your new favourite band hitting their stride. Count the days ’til you can see them in a field or in a club again.

      Self-produced by Syd Minsky and once again mixed by Ross Orton, Y? is a synth heavy assault which picks up where X left off before venturing off into deeper acid-laced territory.

      TRACK LISTING

      A.X
      B.Y

      Working Men's Club

      X - Remixes (Paranoid London And Minsky Rock)

        Following the recent release of 'X', the first new music from Working Men’s Club since their acclaimed self-titled debut was released in the autumn of 2020, the band share remixes from Paranoid London and Minsky Rock.

        A side project of Syd from the band and producer Ross Orton, the Minsky Rock remix channels the energy of the primetime Detroit electro of Aux 88 or Cybertron while Paranoid London, the duo made up of Quinn Whalley and Gerardo Delgardo, turn in a bubbling 303 drenched acid workout.

        TRACK LISTING

        A1. X Paranoid London Remix
        A2. X Minsky Rock Remix

        B1. X Paranoid London Remix (Instrumental)
        B2. X Minsky Rock Remix (Instrumental)

        Saint Etienne

        I've Been Trying To Tell You

          Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time rewritten every line?
          Marvin Hamlisch was not yet 30 when he wrote those words for the mouth of Barbra Streisand. Even then, Hamlisch was acutely aware that as a narrator of our own stories, the human memory is at best unreliable and at worst mendacious. That same awareness resonates through every bar, beat and breath of I've Been Trying To Tell You, the tenth studio album by Saint Etienne.

          The album is made largely from samples and sounds drawn from the turn of the new century, a period that was topped and tailed by Labour's election victory and the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. “It's about memory,” Bob explains, “and how it can fog and play tricks on you. Specifically, it's about the late Nineties, and current nostalgia for the Nineties.”

          Formed in Croydon in 1990 by music journalist Bob Stanley with childhood friend Pete Wiggs, and soon joined by singer Sarah Cracknell, Saint Etienne arose within the context of the indie- dance movement of that era but created a unique sound which – albeit accidentally – paved the way for what would later become known as Britpop.

          Their earliest albums – 1991 debut Foxbase Alpha and its 1993 successor So Tough – tapped into the collective consciousness by using an accretion of disparate elements - Long Wave football commentary, a snatch of Four Tops vocals or a sample of Dusty Springfield strings, some dialogue from Billy Liar, a melody from a long-forgotten perfume ad – to create a richly evocative memory-world which was specifically British, even when the component parts themselves were not.

          The resulting emotion, of course, is bittersweet. Saint Etienne's music has always captured the feeling that the Portuguese call saudade, the Welsh call hiraeth and the Germans call sehnsucht: a combination of homesickness and longing, a melancholy yearning for a time, a place, a person or a mood that can never be revisited.

          It's what the Scottish comedian Brian Limond was driving at with the heartbreaking Limmy's Show sketch in which he visits a travel agent and shows them a blurred colour photograph of himself and his friends on a teenage holiday in the Ayrshire resort of Millport. “Can you tell me how I get there?”, Limmy asks the confused agent, who initially tries to sell him a ticket to Millport. “No, not the place,” Limmy replies. “The feeling.” Saint Etienne's 2002 single “Action” expresses a similar desire: “Cos I've been searching for all the people I used to turn to, and all the people who knew the answer... Let's get the feeling again...”

          Another constant in Saint Etienne's music has been their understanding of the power of dreams. There's a strand of pop which stretches from The Beach Boys' SMiLE through Saint Etienne to The Avalanches' Since I Left You and beyond which defies the reductive term 'dreampop', and instead evokes the genuine sensation of dreaming: blissful, yes, but also unsettling and disorienting. Saint Etienne's early career masterpiece “Avenue” conjured that realm for seven minutes, and I've Been Trying To Tell You inhabits it entirely. The album ties together these two Saint Etienne threads – memory and dreams – and tells us directly something which has always been implicit in Bob, Pete and Sarah's work: that memory is a dream.

          “I spent a lot of last year thinking about optimism for the future,” says Bob, “and the almost total lack of it at the moment. That got me thinking about the last time there was a general optimism in the country and I thought about May 1997, the window between then and September 2001, which it's easy to look back on as some kind of innocent golden age, even if it didn't feel like one at the time. In reality, of course, there was good and there was bad.... Primary schools and art galleries and hospitals were built versus we bombed Belgrade and introduced PFI!”

          Reflecting upon that era, and upon the collective (mis)remembrance of it, led to this new Saint Etienne album. “We thought, if you used samples from the late Nineties - the supposedly promising bit between Labour winning the election and September 11th - what would the music be and what could you do with it? Modern nostalgia culture often draws on corporate American Nineties mall culture, but what about British BBC radio culture? Could those sources be used to actually sound like the era, but through the fog of memory?”

          Two decades on, a combination of False Memory Syndrome and collective amnesia has grown up around those early New Labour years. The first Blair administration is nowadays viewed variously as a lost golden age, or a period of naïvete, delusion and folly, and a million different shades in between. “YouTube has so many nostalgic clips of slowed-down grainy footage of shopping malls,” says Bob, “often tagged 'liminal spaces' or something like that, post-Burial, post-Mark Fisher, with vaporwave-like music made by people younger than me who see the Eighties and Nineties as a simpler time. I find this fascinating. What you choose to remember or choose to forget... ASBOs and paediatricians getting death threats in Wales... those bits get forgotten.”

          Even at the time, a complacent illusion about the Nineties had taken hold, filtered down from Francis Fukuyama's The End Of History, that benign liberal democracy had triumphed forever and there were no struggles left to be fought. And, even at the time, an equal and opposite sense of disillusion had taken hold of Bob Stanley. On the first anniversary of Blair's election victory, Bob went to the Granita restaurant in Islington, where Blair and Brown had famously struck their power-sharing deal, and felt a sense of emptiness which he later described in the first verse of “Heart Failed In The Back Of A Taxi”: “Took a trip down Granita way/Had to go on the 1st of May/Didn't have much to celebrate...”

          Saint Etienne have always understood that pop music is the nearest thing we have to time travel, the closest we can get to breathing the air of a different time. On this album, they take that theory to its logical conclusion. I've Been Trying To Tell You uses sounds and samples from 1997 to 2001, evoking the folk memory of the period by using and twisting recordings from the time, re- working them into new songs. “They're all by people you'd have heard on daytime Radio 1 or 2 at the time,” Bob clarifies, “not Boards of Canada or anything.” Opening track “Music Again”, for example, begins with some gorgeously poignant electric harpsichord from a long-forgotten R&B hit.

          For the first time, Saint Etienne didn't record together in a studio. The album was completed remotely, in Hove (Pete), Oxford (Sarah) and Bradford (Bob, in collaboration with film and TV composer Gus Bousfield, who contributes to a number of tracks). Communication was handled via Zoom meetings and emails. “We had the idea for the album before the pandemic, and it was surprisingly straightforward.” The results are exceptional. “I'm really excited about the way the album has turned out,” says Bob. “It feels like something brand new.”

          I've Been Trying To Tell You has an internal unity, its heartbeat always at the low end of mid- tempo/high end of downtempo, landing at the approximate pace of Tricky's Pre-Millennium Tension (an album released on the very cusp of the era in question). This helps sustain the dream-state.

          That hypnagogic sensation is enhanced here and there by the eerie sound of seagulls and garden birds. It's like falling asleep listening to Minnie Riperton's “Lovin' You” and coming a- dreamwake in Kew. This, it turns out, is another turn-of-the-millennium reference. “In the early series of Big Brother,” Bob explains, “when Channel 4 used to broadcast live from the house in the daytime, they'd dip out the sound whenever the housemates talked about real life people, or swore or whatever, and they'd replace the sound with quite avant-sounding field recordings of birdsong.”

          The lyrics, too, obey the fractured logic of dreams. Sarah Cracknell sings in short phrases - “here it comes again”, “never had a way to go”, “ruby dust”, “a love like this again” - looped and repeated, rather than a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. “They are all snatched phrases that could have been used at the time,” Bob explains, “from news items, or songs, or magazines.” The album's centrepiece is arguably “Little K”, the fourth track of eight, a six-minute oneiric ocean which ends with the sound of lazily lapping waves. The words that filter through the haze are ones which define the album: “No reason to pretend. In my reverie, the mind will carry me...”

          The reverie has interludes with no words at all, at least not sung. “Blue Kite”, made from backwards strings and synths and bassy beats from the room next door, is entirely instrumental, as is “I Remember It Well” apart from snatches of mysterious voices which evoke childhood holidays. Some tracks, like some dreams, are simply too strange for analysis: the inscrutably- titled “Penlop” (a Tibetan term which translates loosely as 'governor') has a refrain which appears to run “I don't really know you/But I'd like to show you/Chester town/We went all around...”

          The accompanying film, which premieres at the NFT in the first week of September and will also be available as a DVD with the album, came about when Bob Stanley contacted Alasdair McLellan after the latter had used Saint Etienne's “Nothing Can Stop Us” in a Marc Jacobs commercial. They met a few times, pre-pandemic, in a cafe under Shipley clocktower. “Alasdair understood the album straight off,” says Bob. “We talked about youth, and the A1, and British identity, and memories of the recent past. He's really made a beautiful film, and it perfectly complements the album. Alasdair's film also taps in to the way we think of our youth, and sense of place, and where we come from.”

          McLellan's film – a still from which adorns the album sleeve - is a slow-motion travelogue that takes in “a lifetime's worth” of locations, including Felixstowe, Blackpool, Portmeirion, Avebury, Southampton, Doncaster, Grangemouth, as well as London. It its vignettes, we see a couple breaking up on a Westminster bench, a man skimming stones across the water from an oil terminal, a ballet dancer rehearsing, a raver dancing in the headlights of a Ford Cortina, youths playing in a Yorkshire waterfall, teams meeting in caffs. The album dovetails immaculately with the visuals. When we do hear anyone speak, it's only to recite lyrics from classic Saint Etienne songs, all taken from the Nineties.

          The dreamlike mood of the album, and the film, is a statement in itself: namely that memory is a largely fictionalised product of the human mind, rather than a reliable record. I've Been Trying To Tell You – the album, and the film – sifts through those Hamlischian misty watercolour memories of the way we were, and poses the question: was it all just a dream? Saint Etienne have always known the answer. They've been trying to tell you.

          Simon Price, 2021

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: While Saint Etienne are well known for pulling together a host of influences into their own particular clever brand of indie, their latest outing is perhaps the most confidently nostalgic tribute yet, crafted from found sounds and snippets of samples from the early 00's, leading to an evocative and wonderfully realised triumph.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Music Again
          2. Pond House
          3. Fonteyn
          4. Little K
          5. Blue Kite
          6. I Remember It Well
          7. Penlop
          8. Broad River

          Flowered Up

          Weekender - Love Record Stores 2021 Edition

            Love Record Stores Edition available instore from 10am on Saturday September 4th, any remaining copies will be available on online from 9pm on the same day.
            Limited to one per person.


            Flowered Up

            Weatherall's Weekender - Love Record Stores 2021 Edition

              Love Record Stores Edition available instore from 10am on Saturday September 4th, any remaining copies will be available on online from 9pm on the same day.
              Limited to one per person.


              Acclaimed Bay Area multi-instrumentalist, producer, and composer Doug Stu grew up outside of Chicago and his early education began in jazz clubs and festivals as a teenager - frequenting sessions with Jeff Parker, Fred Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, and other members of the AACM. Left exceedingly inspired, he continued on to the University of Michigan, studying bass under Detroit jazz royalty, Robert Hurst and Geri Allen, where he deepened his practice in Jazz and Contemplative Studies.

              Now, based out of Oakland and Los Angeles, Stuart collaborates within many Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Experimental music scenes. His works include compositions for the NPR podcast Snap Judgement, along with co-writes and production with various groups including: Brijean, Bells Atlas, Meernaa, Luke Temple, Jay Stone. Dougie Stu’s Familiar Future is a uniquely jazz-attuned album that is soulful and ethereal. It draws inspiration from artists and producers like Lonnie Liston Smith, Charles Stepney, David Axelrod, and Alice Coltrane. Stuart has arrived at a sound that harkens back to the golden era of soul jazz and R&B, while still sounding contemporary.

              The band features the immediately recognizable guitar stylings of Jeff Parker (Tortoise) who was one of Stuart’s biggest influences growing up in Chicago, Maya Kronfeld (Georgia Anne Muldrow, NYEUSI) on Fender Rhodes, Steve Blum (Bells Atlas) on synthesizer, percussionists Brijean Murphy (Toro Y Moi, Poolside), John Santos (Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie), and drummer Hamir Atwal (tune-yards). Special guests include Marcus Stephans on Flute, Shaina Evoniuk on Violin, and Crystal Pascucci on Cello. The album was engineered and mixed by Rob Shelton at Tiny Telephone, and he also appears on synthesizer on one song.


              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: 'Familiar Future' takes the loose, languid vibes of jazz music and effortlessly transposes it into the drifting world of psychedelia via instrumental funk. Impeccably composed and brilliantly fluid compositions slowly change and morph from loungy relaxation to head-bobbing groove.

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Welcome
              2. Familiar Future
              3. Wind Chaser
              4. Henny
              5. Another One For Slug
              6. Nostalgia
              7. BB’s Birthday
              8. Scooter Bistro Number
              9. Joy Ride
              10. Free Their Ghosts

              Raf Rundell

              O.M. Days

                Last seen a couple of years back on his debut long-player Stop Lying, Raf has today also shared Ample Change (feat. Lias Saoudi), the second track to be taken off the album following Monsterpiece on which he roped in the legendary Chas Jankel to provide his distinctive touch.

                Featuring on the cover a striking Keith Haring meets the Green Man image from acclaimed artist and long-time collaborator Ben Edge, the picture was inspired by the folk tale of the giant of Dawson, who is both male & female, human and vegetation and lived in the imagination of Dawson’s Hill, a stretch of South London parkland a stones throw away from Dawson’s Heights, the flats featured on the cover of Raf’s debut Stop Lying.

                Edge and Rundell, for reasons they can’t entirely comprehend, concocted a rite which took place the first full moon after this year’s summer solstice (the results of which can be seen in the short film trailer for the album). This involved the giant – also known as Tommy Hill Figure - being created on Dawson’s Hill. “Ben’s been digging deeper and deeper into ancient myths, the green man, all the stuff that’s been co-opted by organised religion,” Rundell explains. All this chimed with him because he is a magnet for signs and symbols. He has been ever since his Mod-loving parents named him after the RAF roundel symbol.

                “We’d been talking about this sort of stuff a lot,” Rundell continues. “The rite was about the birth of the new and using the coronavirus as a catalyst for that change, like a full stop to the way things were before. The corona was called the spark in the ceremony, although we’re not being too specific about the virus because this is a thing we hope to do annually.”

                This is the backdrop to the album, a record far larger and more confident than its creator could ever have imagined. Unlike his itinerantly created previous records, O.M. Days was entirely recorded in the same Forest Hill studio, with the aforementioned collaborators. “I love collaborating with people – like Lias Saoudi or Andy Jenkins, who are both on this record – that’s where it’s at for me,” Rundell says. “I worked really hard on this one. And although I had no plan about where it was going, I always have a notion about how I want things to sound. I had a particular idea about that.”


                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: There's always a considerable amount of rhythmic shuffling when Rundell comes on the stereo (I would obviously dance but am pretty terrible at it, so results in said shuffle). 'O. M. Days' has all of the latent melodicism we've come to expect from Rundell, but with an uplifting, post-pandemic groove sure to get the newly opened clubs moving It's a brilliantly produced and intensely enjoyable listen.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. More U Know
                2. Down
                3. Monsterpiece
                4. Ample Change (feat. Lias Saoudi)
                5. Always Fly (feat. Terri Walker)
                6. Luxury (feat. Man & The Echo)
                7. Miracle
                8. The Ides Of Albion
                9. Turning Tides
                10. Butter Gold (feat. Andy Jenkins)

                Chai

                No More Cake

                  Released digitally earlier this year, CHAI's triumphant single 'No More Cake' is released on a 7" with B-side 'Ready Cheeky Pretty.' Artwork by Chai member Yuki.

                  “The planet’s most fun band unleash their best single yet: all manic intensity and haunting chants underpinned by elephantine bass and taut funk.”

                  -The Guardian-

                  A message from Chai -

                  You know how I feel about make-up? I feel like make-up has the ability to allow you to be who you want to be. It’s that super awesome, sparkling kind of magic! Yes you can paint over with it, even recreate with it but… doesn’t that make it just like decorations? The same as a cake no? Because, I’m the original! There’s no reason to become someone else right? My color is only for me to decide! “what’s attractive to us?”, is something CHAI will MAKE ♡ and of course eat as much CAKE as possible! It’s this type of song!

                  TRACK LISTING

                  A NO MORE CAKE
                  B Ready Cheeky Pretty

                  Katy J Pearson

                  Return

                    Return symbolises the re-entry of Pearson into music-making after a previous, collaborative project with her brother fell foul of the pressures of a major label record deal and over the course of two-and-a-half years, between her parents’ house in Gloucestershire, her Bristol bedroom, and nearby community arts space The Island, Pearson honed her craft as a solo artist, learning to rely on her creative instincts, and bringing forth an album just as shaped by the South-West of England as the rich musical history of America’s Southern States.

                    The songs were strengthened and evolved in a live setting — including in support of Olden Yolk and Cass McCombs on their respective UK and European tours — before being taken to the studio of producer Ali Chant (PJ Harvey, M. Ward, Perfume Genius, Gruff Rhys), where they were captured in their final form. The result is a jewel in the dirt by the side of the highway; ten songs which slide effortlessly between lovelorn country, lo-fi folk and glistening, unforgettable pop.

                    Having completed a European tour alongside Cass McCombs at the end of last year and appeared at both the End of the Road Christmas party and the Line of Best Fit’s ‘Five Day Forecast’, she returns later in the year for a couple of shows at Sound City in Liverpool and Live at Leeds and a run of headline shows in early 2021.


                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: Return is a beatifully upbeat, superbly crafted suite of country-tinged Indie-pop stormers. Some veer a little more towards the introspective, trad country vibes but imbued with a lightness and optimism you rarely hear. Beautiful stuff.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Tonight
                    2. Beautiful Soul
                    3. Return
                    4. Something Real
                    5. Fix Me Up
                    6. Hey You
                    7. Miracle
                    8. Take Back The Radio
                    9. On The Road
                    10. Waiting For The Day

                    Cherry Ghost

                    Live At The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge - January 25 2015.

                      As the final act before their hiatus ñ coming after three critically praised albums in a decade - 'Live at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge' is Cherry Ghost performing an intimate, starkly arranged set at the 2015 Heavenly Weekender.Released now for the first time ñ on double vinyl and download ñ this is perhaps the best realised collection of songs from Cherry Ghost, the alias of the Ivor Novello award-winning songwriter Simon Aldred. The instrumentation ñ Aldred is joined on keyboards and light percussion by Christian Madden and Grenville Harrop ñ brings to the fore Aldred's peerless songwriting, his oak-aged, prematurely wisened baritone.'History' wrote the Quietus in 2014, 'will be kind to Aldred', and this collection proves exactly that ñ with a bit of time and distance, the songs presented here show a highly singular, highly accomplished songwriter, aspiring to the pop classicism of Glen Campbell or Bill Callahan. All of human life is here ñ tracking a drizzly Northern gothic of last bus loneliness, late-night Spars, solitary drinkers, factory floors and Gods that betray.And yet, there's more than meets the eye.There's magnetic renderings of his best known songs - '4AM', 'People Help the People', the soaring 'Mathematics' - but surprises reveal themselves.'All I Want' and 'Herd Runners' candidly examine Aldred's sexuality, whilst the seldom heard b-side 'Bad Crowd' reveals Aldred to be a much funnier songwriter than remembered. What runs right through Aldred's work, however, is a yearning ñ a much tested faith in romance ñ so no wonder that the album ends on its most optimistic notes, at the darkest point of winter nestled in the West Yorkshire valleys, promising clear skies ever closer.

                      Terry Hall

                      Home

                        Let's talk about denial.Let's talk about self-awareness.Let's talk about romantic idealism.And let's talk about pop music.Let's talk about Terry Hall and his strange relationship with all of these things: about his ability to create life-affirming pop music and about the fact that his exceptional gift was recognised by a long line of his peers before, finally, Terry Hall could no longer ignore it either.Let's talk about the album where the penny finally dropped.A record which believes in the dream of perfect love despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.Let's talk about 'Home', the first solo album by Terry Hall. Twenty-six years have elapsed since the original release of 'Home', but this Record Store Day sees its long overdue debut on vinyl.It might have been the first album which saw Hall step forward from a group identity, but 'Home' was Hall's ninth in various guises since the emergence of The Specials' self-titled LP in 1979.It had taken Hall a while to find his feet as a songwriter.With Jerry Dammers so prolific in that regard, Hall found himself in a strange position at the end of that group's collective lifetime.The Specials had made him a pop star, but he didn't feel like one.By the release of Fun Boy Three's second album 'Missing' (1983), the competition was Wham!, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Culture Club.Nothing wrong with any of those, but Hall would see himself staring back from the pages of a magazine alongside all the aforementioned names and experience what he called "a total cognitive disconnection". 'Home', then, was the culmination of a long process which saw Terry Hall separate his lack of love for the job of pop star from his adoration for pop itself.In solving that conundrum, it sounds like a weight has been lifted from Hall.Like a code has finally been cracked.Somehow emblematic of that process is the album's lead single 'Forever J', a song that Hall had started writing about his wife Jeannette almost a decade previously, but only finally came together when Hall presented it to the album's producer Ian Broudie (The Lightning Seeds) as the sessions got under way.Alloyed to a disarmingly beautiful chorus, this ticker-tape flurry of unguarded intimacies might just be the most perfect pop song of an era that wasn't exactly lacking in competition ñ and although it didn't crack the top 40 at the time, it cemented the affection in which an emerging generation of proficient popsmiths held him: Jarvis Cocker did his own remix of the song and Damon Albarn sang Hall's praises at every opportunity.In commencing the record, 'Forever J' sets the tone for what follows on the remainder of 'Home'.Yes, it's a solo album, but the engine of these performances is a stellar "house" band comprised of Craig Gannon (The Smiths, Aztec Camera, The Bluebells), Les Pattinson (Echo & The Bunnymen) and Chris Sharrock (The Icicle Works, The La's). This illustrious roll call is one that extends to the songwriters with whom Hall collaborated on the record.Co-written by Nick Heyward, 'What's Wrong With Joy' is a synergy of seeming incompatible components: its life-affirming power pop livery freighting a cargo of self-doubt ("I've got a bag full of promises I can't keep/And a hundred reasons why I don't sleep") and good intentions ("All I wanna do is make your dreams come true") to the affections of anyone who hears it.Andy Partridge steps forward to share the credit on 'Moon On Your Dress" and 'I Drew A Lemon': the latter a rebuke to the man who will never love her the way our lyrical protagonist pledges to; the former a longtime favourite among fans of both Hall and XTC for the sanguine self-deprecations that manage to captures something of both artists' relationship to the world around them. And, of course, if you have Ian Broudie manning the console, it would be obtuse not to write a song or two together.With a friendship dating back to the early days of The Specials (the young Broudie saw Hall's pre-Specials outfit The Coventry Automatics open for The Clash in 1978) the measure of the pair's chemistry stretches beyond Broudie's production role to encompass two of the album's indisputable highlights.Featuring the unforgettable couplet, "If ifs and ands were pots and pans, you'd be a kitchen", 'You' sees its protagonist trying to persuade his subject to see in him what he sees in her.The other Broudie co-write on 'Home' will need no introduction to most pop fans.'Sense' is the song which gave its name to The Lightning Seeds' second album, giving the group their third top 40 hit in 1992.The version sung here by Hall though benefits from the Sharrock's pugnacious Keith Moon-isms and, of course, the buccaneering fretboard work of Craig Gannon. It's Gannon, too, whose fingerprints can be found on a clutch of other songs which give a little more back with each repeated play.'Home' may have emerged in the era that saw the term 'Britpop' enter the cultural lexicon, but there's a fragrant melodic classicism at the heart of Gannon and Hall's collaborations that can also be found in the work of Hall's "other" 80s songwriting vehicle The Colour Field, with its nods to French chanson.It's there on 'Forever J' and it's also abundant on Hall/Gannon originals like 'No No No' and 'I Don't Got You'. And yet, for all of that, there's something about Hall's voice that is, to quote the latter song, "as English as the weather".You can hear it all over 'Home', and it works both to the advantage of this album and the listener.Like the expression of the man staring at you on the sleeve, there's an outward sense of reserve in these performances which belies the lyrical tensions hinted at in many of its songs.Hall's marriage was coming to an end when 'Home' was recorded, but these songs are manifestly the work of someone who still believes in happy ever after.Just about.They're also the work of someone who has come to an accommodation with his relationship to pop.To coin a neologism, you might say that this was the record where our hero finally learned to "own it".And if your love of great pop mirrors that of Terry Hall, 'Home' is a record you might also consider owning.

                        The Magic Numbers

                        The Magic Numbers (RSD20 EDITION)

                          THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2020 RELEASE AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY AS PART OF THE AUGUST 29TH DROP DAY AT 6PM.
                          LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.


                          The 15th anniversary of the debut Magic Numbers album.Released in it's orginal limited format, including the one sided limited 7".The vinyl is Crystal Clear 2LP + 7î Time creates it's own mirror and within it comes new reflections.Fifteen years later I find myself listening and reflecting on our debut album in a way that has also made me reflect upon my life.Just who was I making that record, writing those songs, what did we want, what did we achieve? Perhaps you too will be thinking similar things as you listen and reflect upon your own personal journey, especially if this record soundtracked your life all those years gone by....If you are listening to this for the very first time, may I introduce you to... The Magic Numbers Two families. The Stodart's & The Gannon's. We wanted to create music that was timeless. We wanted to create a band that you could believe in. We wanted to break your heart whilst lifting your spirit. We wanted to make a classic debut album. In 2004 The Magic Numbers were playing live almost every other night around London, making friends that soon grew into a following that spread the word the old school way, by word of mouth.People telling people about this new group comprising of two sets of brothers and sisters, who were singing a kind of country-soul-pop music with three part harmonies.From the outside things seemed to be happening very quickly, but I'd been writing songs and playing empty venues with our drummer Sean for 10 years before this momentum started building, and for us it really was always just a matter of time...but it sure took it's sweet time.Honestly though, it was only when our sisters Michele & Angela brought their magic to the band did anyone start taking notice, as then we discovered a sound.There was an energy between us that was somewhat frenetic, it was powerful, we knew we had something special and unique and because of that it also made us very cautious and protective. Fifteen years ago it felt like we were on top of the world, capable of anything, full of promise, full of innocence but also full of anxiety, still recovering from loss and having nothing.We literally had nothing but each other and this music.So many dreams of ours started coming true, from selling out shows and hearing people sing along to our songs in the crowd, to being given the opportunity to go into the studio by Heavenly.The biggest dream was to make a record.Jeff Barrett & Martin Kelly's belief in the band and myself as a songwriter at that time really gave us that extra confidence and boost that I think every artist needs whether they'd like to admit it or not.So there we were, about to make this record. Going into the studio can be a very daunting experience for a band, especially when the only real experience you've ever had was some home recording with a 4 track.We chose to work with Craig Silvey because we loved him straight away as a person and felt like he understood what we wanted to achieve.He was amazing at putting us at ease and not having us react to that red light fever that sometimes creeps up on you.He wanted to stay true to what he'd seen us do live and just try and enhance that sonically as best as he could. We had a shared vision of not wanting there to be too many overdubs on the record, as the core elements between the four of us when we played live was already telling the story in the way we had arranged the songs.It's funny now to think that we ended up playing these huge festivals with literally a guitar tuner between us as we didn't want anything else to colour the sound of our guitars being plugged straight into our amplifiers. It's always the songs for me that make a great record and we had the songs. My sister Michele & I sat at our mum and dad's and said "Right let's write a song in D major" and I started pulsing on that opening chord and Michele's bass line took us on a journey like they always do, that melodic hooky driving thing that she does is key to what makes this music.We had so much fun writing 'Mornings Eleven' that I feel the spirit of that moment was captured in the song.We never really said it out loud to each other at the time but we both knew we were trying to write our very own 'Good Vibrations' We'd have never thought that it would be the opening song on our debut album. Some of the songs on this album just appeared fully formed.'This Love' in particular was written pretty soon after I had learnt of our grandmother's death in New York, I was heartbroken that I wasn't there for her in those last days especially as she had raised me as a little boy.I can clearly remember playing that opening triplet guitar figure and the words and melody just came pouring out like they were always there, the same thing with 'Which Way To Happy' I remember the feeling of playing catch up to what was coming out.Over the years I've learnt that it's a very rare thing, songs appearing fully formed like that, it still surprises me when they do arrive like a memory of some kind.'Love's A Game' felt like it had always existed, in fact for a very long time I would ask people "But does it remind you of anything?" I don't remember writing 'Forever Lost' at all.I remember playing it to the band and us rehearsing it, having fun with the arrangement but no recollection of writing it. So many songs came from such sad places, the end of a long term relationship, death in the family, feeling so lost and vulnerable, this yearning for something else, to be someone else but I guess unknowingly we disguised it with harmonies and hooks. 'Love Me Like You' was definitely one of those, no one spoke of the meaning of the song when I first played it, we all just dived straight in and started having fun with hooks and skips in the rhythm.It was the baby of the bunch, as it was only written a few months before we began recording, whereas 'Try' was probably the eldest of almost 2 years.Then there's the duet between Angie and myself 'I See You You See Me'.My mum and dad were arguing downstairs and I knew it would only be a matter of time before they would make up and laugh about how ridiculous they were both being.I based the song on that kind of love, one that sees through everything.Angela's voice on that still melts my heart. I'd bought a set of these glockenspiel tone bars from a charity shop in Hanwell one afternoon walking home from signing on at the job-centre and all the way back I was thinking about this much more tender arrangement of a song I'd written called 'Hymn For Her'.The climax of the song on the third chorus was originally how it was all throughout.I remember that day working on it with Michele and Angela as we were so excited about how it turned out we decided to play it live that night to a small few. There's so much love and hope and joy and honesty in this album.So much fun in the arrangements, so much youth and innocence in our voices.It encapsulates a very precious time within the four of our lives.I'm still our biggest fan. Fifteen years later. We're still wanting to create music that is timeless. We're still wanting to be a band that you can believe in. We're still wanting to break your heart whilst lifting your spirit. But we can't ever make that first album again, this is it, we captured that moment in timeÖ..and upon reflection it surpassed all of our wildest expectations. Hope you enjoy listening. Romeo Stodart

                          Mark Lanegan

                          Straight Songs Of Sorrow

                            When considering any great work of art, be it a painting, a novel, or a piece of music, it’s natural to wonder what might have inspired it: ‘the story behind the song’. Mark Lanegan’s new album, Straight Songs Of Sorrow, flips that equation. Here are 15 songs inspired by a story: his life story, as documented by his own hand in his new memoir, Sing Backwards And Weep.

                            The book is a brutal, nerve-shredding read, thanks to Lanegan’s unsparing candour in recounting a journey from troubled youth in eastern Washington, through his drug-stained existence amid the ’90s Seattle rock scene, to an unlikely salvation at the dawn of the 21st century. There’s death and tragedy, yet also humour and hope, thanks to the tenacity which impels its host, even at his lowest moments. As Lanegan writes near the end: “I was the ghost that wouldn’t die.”

                            Today, Lanegan is a renowned songwriter and a much-coveted collaborator, as adept at electronica as with rock, constantly honing his indomitable voice: an asphalt-laced linctus for the soul. While the memoir documents a struggle to find peace with himself, his new album emphasis the extent to which he came to realise that music is his life.

                            “Writing the book, I didn’t get catharsis,” he chuckles. “All I got was a Pandora’s box full of pain and misery. I went way in, and remembered shit I’d put away 20 years ago. But I started writing these songs the minute I was done, and I realised there was a depth of emotion because they were all linked to memories from this book. It was a relief to suddenly go back to music. Then I realised that was the gift of the book: these songs. I’m really proud of this record.”

                            Straight Songs Of Sorrow combines musical trace elements from early Mark Lanegan albums with the synthesized constructs of later work. The meditative acoustic guitar fingerpicking – provided by Lamb Of God’s Mark Morton – on Apples From A Tree and Hanging On (For DRC) echo 1994’s Whiskey For The Holy Ghost. Yet one of that record’s touchstones was Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, echoed in the new album’s opener I Wouldn’t Want To Say, where Lanegan extemporises *à la Ballerina over musique concrète wave patterns generated by his latest favourite compositional tool, a miniature computer-synth called the Organelle. The lyric clings onto the music, emulating his book’s queasy momentum: *“Swinging from death… to revival.”

                            “That song is the explanation, the beginning and middle and end of that entire period of time,” Mark says. “The encapsulation of the entire experience, book and record. So I started with that.”

                            Lanegan affirms that every song references a specific episode or person in the book, albeit some more explicitly than others. Hanging On (For DRC) is a loving ode to his friend Dylan Carlson, genius progenitor of drone metal and a fellow unlikely survivor of Seattle’s narcotic dramas. “I was always unhappy, and he was the guy who was always smiling, even through my crazy schemes that eventually got both of us into a lot of trouble.” The richly cinematic mood of Daylight In The Nocturnal House, meanwhile, paints a more impressionistic scene: factory smoke, rain, a phone call from *“somebody’s grand-daughter”, who’ll *“pay to make somebody crawl/And send you to heaven.” The singer’s perspective is ambiguous. “I got into a lot of shady business in those years,” Lanegan says.

                            Longtime observers will recognise some familiar recurrent themes. Death. Destruction. Bad behaviour. In the case of At Zero Below, all in the same song. “Yes, I did burn someone with a cigarette,” Mark says. “Yes, I did spit in somebody’s face – maybe more than once in my life. Stuff I’m not proud of. That song is also about one of my many ex-girlfriends who is no longer with us. It’s all linked to the book.”

                            At Zero Below features two of the album’s many stellar guests. Singing admonitory harmonies with himself is Greg Dulli, another ’90s alt-rock veteran, Lanegan’s erstwhile partner in mischief and fellow Gutter Twin. The song’s incantatory fiddle is played by The Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis. No lesser figure than Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones provides Mellotron on the serpentine Ballad Of A Dying Rover (*“I’m just a sick sick man/My days are numbered”). Aside from mandolin, all Daylight In The Nocturnal House’s cobwebbed atmospherics are by Portishead’s Adrian Utley. Ed Harcourt is Lanegan’s pick for album MVP (“He’s all over it – everything that he plays, piano or Wurlitzer, becomes magical”), with special mention to bassist Jack Bates, son of Peter Hook; that duo make especially distinctive contributions to Churchbells, Ghosts a bleakly humorous lament to the drudgery of life on the road (*“I’d ask somebody for a quarter/If there were someone for me to phone”).

                            Ketamine is a numb blues, with Lanegan shadowed by Cold Cave vocalist Wesley Eisold, who inspired the album’s only overt drug song (ironically, about a drug that Lanegan has never actually taken). “Wes is good friends with Genesis P-Orridge,” explains Mark, “and he said the last time he saw Gen she was in a hospital bed, saying to this priest, ‘No thank you sir, I don’t need any last rites, but if you have any ketamine that would be perfect.’” He laughs. “So I immediately wrote that song and had him sing on it. There’s drugs throughout the record – they’re rife in Bleed All Over – but that song was the only real specific one.”

                            The material on the last two Mark Lanegan Band albums had Lanegan’s words set to music by various other sources. But aside from the Mark Morton collaborations, Straight Songs Of Sorrow was built from the ground up by Lanegan alone, aided by producer Alain Johannes, his longtime consigliere. Only two other songs have shared credits, and even these stay in-house: Burying Ground and Eden Lost And Found were co-written by Mark’s wife Shelley Brien, with whom he also duets on the Rita Coolidge/Kris Kristofferson-style ballad This Game Of Love. “Let’s put it this way,” says Mark. “Every girlfriend I’ve ever had, for any amount of time, left me. All the good ones left me! Until my current wife. It was great to sing that with Shelley, it really shows she’s a great singer. And it has a depth of emotion that I’m not used to. This is a more honest record than I’ve probably ever made.”

                            A crushing twin-song centrepiece proves that. First, Stockholm City Blues, a sparse, beautiful, strings and finger-picking meditation on the remorse code of addiction (*“I pay for this pain I put into my blood”). Then, the seven-minute epic Skeleton Key, a supplicatory confessional (“I’m ugly inside and out there is no denying”) that also provides the album title. It’s a remarkable performance from a man whose punishment for plumbing the depths was simply to continue further along the road. “My wife called that my ‘redemption song’,” says Lanegan.

                            And indeed, there is a happy ending to this story. Just as his book closes with the hero overcoming adversity and turning, battered but cleansed, towards a new day, so Straight Songs Of Sorrow closes with Eden Lost And Found. *“Sunrise coming up baby/To burn the dirt right off of me,” marvels Lanegan, with his words echoed by Simon Bonney of Crime & The City Solution, an all-time hero. “I wanted to make a positive song to end this record, because that’s the way the book ended,” Mark says. “And what’s more positive than to have your favourite singer sing with you?”

                            Straight Songs Of Sorrow feels both definitive and unique, a culmination of its creator’s arc yet also indicative of the energy that drives him onto future horizons. No wonder Lanegan is proud.

                            “I do feel this is something special for me, something honest,” he says. “’Cos records are not real life, man – in case no one told ya. They’re just a fake version of life!” Mark Lanegan laughs. “Well, at least you have one now that’s a little closer to being real. Unfortunately, it’s by me.”

                            Keith Cameron.


                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. I Wouldn't Want To Say
                            2. Apples From A Tree
                            3. This Game Of Love
                            4. Ketamine
                            5. Bleed All Over
                            6. Churchbells, Ghosts
                            7. Internal Hourglass Discussion
                            8. Stockholm City Blues
                            9. Skeleton Key
                            10. Daylight In The Nocturnal House
                            11. Ballad Of A Dying Rover
                            12. Hanging On (For DRC)
                            13. Burying Ground
                            14. At Zero Below
                            15. Eden Lost And Found

                            Baxter Dury

                            The Night Chancers

                              Failed Fashionistas, Instagram voyeurs, jilted Romeos, reeking insecurity, the willingly self deluded, the comically unware, the Night Chancers… “Baxter Loves You” The album was co - produced by long time collaborator Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, John Grant, Artic Monkeys) and Baxter, and was recorded at Hoxa studios West Hampstead in May 2019.

                              From thrilling affairs that dissolve into sweaty desperation (Night Chancers) to the absurd bloggers, fruitlessly clinging to the fag ends of the fashion set (Sleep People), via soiled real life (Slum Lord) social media – enabled stalkers (I’m not Your Dog) and new day, sleep – deprived optimism (Daylight), the record’s finely drawn vignettes, are all based on the corners of world Dury has visited.

                              Baxter says “Night Chancers is about being caught out in your attempt at being free”, it’s about someone leaving a hotel room at three in the morning. You’re in a posh room with big Roman taps and all that, but after they go suddenly all you can hear is the taps dripping, and all you can see the debris of the night is around you. Then suddenly a massive party erupts, in the room next door. This happened to me and all I  Could hear was the night chancer, the hotel ravers”.



                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Laura says: Over a pulsing beat, Baxter drawls "I’m not your fucking friend” and with that the tone is set for his sixth album, ‘The Night Chancers’. Since his gently psychedelic Velvets tinged debut, ‘Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift’ back in 2002, Baxter has been gradually honing his style and here amongst the shady, louche characters of ‘The Night Chancers’ he’s hit his stride. His nonchalant downbeat delivery is engaging throughout, as he tells their wayward tales and is countered perfectly by female vocals that at times echo and at others act as a kind of opposing view to his narrative. The whole album is driven by slow-mo beats, languid, meandering basslines and lush strings that create a perfect noir-ish backdrop to the lugubrious tales. You can almost smell the cigarette smoke and cheap aftershave as the neon reflects on the rain soaked pavements.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              I’m Not Your Dog
                              Slumlord
                              Salvia Hog
                              Samurai
                              Sleep People
                              Carla’s Got A Boyfriend
                              The Night Chancers
                              Hello, I’m Sorry
                              Daylight
                              Say Nothing 

                              Unloved

                              Heartbreak Instrumentals

                                Unloved release a very special companion piece to their critically acclaimed 2nd LP ‘Heartbreak’ for Record Store Day 2019. These instrumental versions reveal the full depth of the album’s productions and give a fresh perspective on the cinematic beauty of the music, as used in the soundtrack for hit BBC Spy drama ‘Killing Eve’. Perfectly complemented by pulp romance cover inspired artwork by Julian House, director of the band’s ‘Heartbreak’ and ‘Guilty Of Love’ music videos, this limited release is not to be missed. Limited to 500, includes download.

                                Night Beats

                                The Sonic's 'Boom'

                                  Few artists loom larger in the garage-rock legend than THE SONICS. With raunchy, cult classics such as “SHOT DOWN” and “HE’S WAITIN” off their 1966 album, BOOM, the pioneering band staked their claim on rock ‘n roll, putting the Pacific Northwest scene on the map and cementing their place as heroes for future generations. Those that followed include Danny Lee Blackwell’s NIGHT BEATS, a group with its own underground origins as well as a direct, fuzz and feedback-coated link between the impact of THE SONICS and their own potent sound. It’s this connection that led NIGHT BEATS to record BOOM in its entirety, a proper homage to their musical forbearers. Blackwell, along with an arsenal of ace musicians manage to maintain the spirit of original recordings like “CINDERELLA,” “DON’T YOU JUST KNOW IT,” and a particularly unhinged version of “LOUIE LOUIE,” while injecting their own brand of earth-quakin’ soul-shakin, maximum R&B. Blackwell takes the lead on vocals and guitar, interpreting Gerry Rosalie’s mean scream with ease. Mike Brandon holds things down on drums as his partner in crime, bass genius Nate Ryan, while Julien O’neill grooves things up on keys and Joe Santa Maria wails on the horns. Finishing touches come from Marlon Rabenreither on acoustic guitar, plus Cole Alexander and Dan Gerbang on backing vocals—all working together to keep THE SONICS’ legacy intact, even as they tear the whole place down. Next time you hear a loud boom and your windows rattle, it’s probably a sonic boom alright; but on the other hand, it might just be “THE SONICS BOOM.”

                                  Big Wows is heavier, harder and weirder than Stealing Sheep’s previous work. Bold neon pop songs with rave percussion, steelpans, dreamy segues and breathy experiments. The *fsszzt* sound of lemonade opens the album with a hyper-real sense of optimism that progressively reveals the cracks of dystopian irony amidst sugar–coated pop; held together by Emily Lansley’s bass guitar, Luciana Mercer’s drum kit, Rebecca Hawley’s synths, and the trio’s swooning steely vocal harmonies.

                                  Stealing Sheep describe Big Wows as “a slow rush”; taking shape over a period of nearly three years spent working out exactly what they wanted it to be and creating an album that levitated their identities as individuals as well as merging them into one unit “We’re each finding our own creative intuition,” says Bex “..and then we come together...and we back each other up" adds Lucy.

                                  Just as the title suggests, Big Wows is both cynical and optimistic: dreaminess and pop dance rhythms are cut With eye rolling vocal styles inflected by heartfelt lyrical messages “We hit upon this conversational-style between the vocals and have alternating lead melodies. There's a sarcastic tone to some of the music but there is always a strong wilfulness to incorporate honest integrity, which is hard to do but refreshing when it finally comes out.”

                                  Side one opens with a burst of shimmery synths as ‘Show Love’ and ‘Back in Time’ lead you heart first into the headier feels of ‘Jokin' Me’ and upbeat bounce of 'Why haven't I?' following into the more progressive grooves for ‘Girl’ then fading out with the narcoleptic comforts of ‘Just Dreaming’. Side two digs deeper into a dreamworld, with the manias and hallucinations of ‘Breathe’ and ‘True Colours’ as well as the gorgeous disillusionment of the title track and ending with an unexpected tropical club banger ‘Choose Like You’.

                                  Running through the whole record is a response to living in a tech era: “We wanted sounds to represent TVs, computers and everyday glitches” says Bex “We started to have this feeling that life is like a game and how you can malfunction when you're blasted with too much information…” As well as composing with traditional instrumentation they also started songs solely on the computer; sequencing, building sounds, drum machines and responding to that non-emotional binary world. “The big challenge,” continues Bex “is making machines sound organic, emotional, finding their flaws. That’s why Delia Derbyshire is so important to us. All the effects that she uses serve to humanise the machines.”

                                  Since the release of their last album, 2015’s surreal and fantastical ‘Not Real’, they’ve been in demand as multidisciplinary public artists as well as musicians – on projects including Wow Machine, which brings to life another more conceptual strand of ‘Big Wows’; in a mechanical light up stage with dancers and live music. This summer they also performed at UK festivals with a 15 strong all-female procession to celebrate the centenary of Suffrage. “Being female has become more of a theme in our work” the band say. “It's obviously always been there but now we're playing with it more conceptually and thinking about empowerment"

                                  This greater confidence and rock-solid aesthetic mean that Stealing Sheep can take greater risks and reap more wonderful rewards. They have a broad range of influences – St Vincent, Michael Jackson, The Knife, Kraftwerk, Drake, Little Dragon - but they remain so resolutely and richly themselves. “We try new things out and we get more confident about what we like.” says Bex. "There’s a really good thing Grayson Perry says about developing your creative intuition. You get to a level as an artist where you know on a gut level what you like and what you don’t like. It takes a long time to feel comfortable in that place, to know your palette, to know you like these drum sounds or whatever it is.”

                                  Lucy is working with a full drum kit now instead of just toms, Emily is playing bass guitar, Bex is making her own synth patches and they’re all using new equipment: they are developing and experimenting and moving forward together. “We wanted the machine sounds to be juxtaposed against a full kit and bass guitar, which we tracked live to feel intentionally loose in places. We like the idea of placing robotic tech next to real life energy.”

                                  The songs began at home or in their studio at Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory, laying down the main body of the tracks, then the band worked with various producers – including Marta Salogni (Bjork, MIA, Factory Floor), Andy Smith (Years & Years), Ash Workman (Christine & The Queens, Metronomy) and Joe Wills (video artist for Little Dragon) – as they’ve tried out different mixes and ideas to convey their messages. They also teamed up with 8bit video artist Pastle Castle (Emily Garner) from Leeds, who created a Karaoke video series for the whole album; exploring Stealing Sheep's digital dimension and their shifting identities amidst changing cultural moods and millennial paraphernalia. "It's a crazy time and it's challenging navigating through it, but it's like 'whatever' bring on the BIG WOWS.’


                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: I remember being slightly surprised when Dave told me I should give the new Stealing Sheep single a listen a few months ago (Dave and I have canonically opposed tastes in music), and I actually really liked it. Throbbing synths, sugary percussion and huge 80's reverbs but with perfectly precise production and more than a nod to that classic sound of Italo disco. There's no way this isn't going to be a hit, and it deserves every minute of it.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Show Love
                                  2. Back In Time
                                  3. Joking Me
                                  4. Why Haven't I?
                                  5. Girl
                                  6. Just Dreaming
                                  7. Big Wows
                                  8. Breathe
                                  9. True Colours
                                  10. Choose Like You
                                  11. Heartbeats

                                  Right as the clock was striking midnight on the last day of the year, King Gizzard issued Gumboot Soup, an entirely new 11-song collection. "Greenhouse Heat Death" and "All Is Known" are microtonal jams that roil and boil like the songs on Flying Microtonal Banana, the metallic "The Great Chain of Being" has the proggy feel of Murder of the Universe, and a bunch of mellow tracks ("Superposition," "I'm Sleepin' In," "The Wheel") could have been warped a bit and slotted right into Sketches of Brunswick East. The rest of the songs are strong neo-psych that would have fit well on the grab bag that was Polygondwanaland; the soft rock "Beginner's Luck" would have been a highlight with its marshmallowy chorus and jabbing guitar solo, and the same goes for the almost funky "Down the Sink," which reveals a loose-limbed side the band doesn't often show. So yes, it's a collection of castoffs and almost-weres, but the amazing thing is that it sounds like a greatest-hits collection made up of songs that are fully realized and played with passion and weirdness, not a half-baked slag heap. In case anyone needed it, Gumboot Soup is yet more proof that King Gizzard were firing all year long on all five cylinders, plus about four more that most bands don't have, and the body of work they created is immensely, intensely, jaw-droppingly impressive.

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: Though I feel like I might be getting RSI from writing about King Giz, amazingly they've managed to smash out yet another killer LP, full of their trademark hooks and off-kilter psychedelic scree. Once again, a completely realised and cohesive collection comes from the KG camp.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Beginner's Luck
                                  2. Greenhouse Heat Death
                                  3. Barefoot Desert
                                  4. Muddy Water
                                  5. Superposition
                                  6. Down The Sink
                                  7. The Great Chain Of Being
                                  8. The Last Oasis
                                  9. All Is Known
                                  10. I'm Sleepin' In
                                  11. The Wheel

                                  Confidence Man

                                  Confident Music For Confident People

                                    From Melbourne by way of Brisbane, Confidence Man are unarguably one of the hottest acts on the planet right now. A portable party that’s levelled dance floors and flattened festival crowds as it’s rolled out across the world, they are a machine custom designed to make you dance and lose your cool.

                                    Without doubt set to be this summer’s most joyously exciting new band, they have to be seen to be believed – upfront there’s a statuesque chap clad only in a pair of nothing-to-the-imagination hot pants next to a woman in a custom designed baby-doll dress and shorts combo while behind them lurk two shadowy mute figures on drums and keyboards, each stripped to the waist and veiled secretively in what look like a satanic beekeeper’s hats made of a material so black, the light seems to fall into it.

                                    If Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild weren’t a band already you’d be snapping at their heels demanding they form one quick-sharp. Fact is, they are, and on Friday 13th April 2018 they release Confident Music For Confident People, their 11-track debut album for Heavenly Recordings.

                                    The band have already offered a glimpse of what’s in store on Confident Music For Confident People – recent tracks Boyfriend, Bubblegum and Better Sit Down Boy were big and brash and bright as hell, like Dee-Lite tooled up and ready for our berserk modern times.

                                    Confident Music for Confident People sets eleven tales of 21st century ennui to irresistible, irrepressible dance music. The opening lines of Try Your Luck (“I must confess/I’ve been sleeping with your ex/’Cos I heard he was the best/I must confess/I never would have guessed he would get so obsessed… I’m not surprised”) set the tone perfectly for what follows.

                                    Here is a set of songs that take the kind of all-consuming interior monologues that bored, disaffected youth are wrestling with the world over and places them square in the middle of the dance floor before adding call-and-response choruses for good measure – it’s the best collection of perfect pop music you’ll hear all year, the perfect embodiment of the characters that made it that somehow manages to be both wildly ambitious and deceptively simple at the same time.


                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Barry says: 'Don't You Know I'm In A Band' perfectly encapsulates the whole vibe behind Confidence Men, brash, bold and more than a little conceited, they take the stereotypical entitled hilarity of stardom and turn it into a bitingly ironic, brilliantly accomplished synth journey. It's ridiculous, but it's totally brilliant. Heavenly have gone out of their comfort zone on this one, and absolutely smashed it.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    Try Your Luck
                                    Don't You Know I'm In A Band
                                    Boyfriend
                                    C.O.O.L Party
                                    Out The Window
                                    Catch My Breath
                                    Bubblegum
                                    Better Sit Down Boy
                                    Sailboat Vacation
                                    All The Way
                                    Fascination

                                    King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard

                                    Polygondwanaland - Heavenly Edition

                                      With an insanely prolific year, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard return with their twelfth album, Polygondwanaland to journey into the depths of the mind and the limits of the universe. The Australian 7-piece have made a name for themselves with a steady stream of new material since their inception 2010, blending everything surf rock, prog, soul, folk, metal, garage rock, and even elements of spoken word and cinematic presentation, creating a large buzz and rabid fanbase stretching far across the globe from their Melbourne roots. this album is full of the psychedelic rock outfit's jazz and groove laden jams.

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Barry says: For all of you who missed out on the Piccadilly Records exclusive beer splattered vinyl version of this, their TWELFTH LP, then here it is brought to you by the wonderful Heavenly records on CD and standard LP. If you haven't heard it yet, then get on it, or they'll have another one out before you get chance.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1. Crumbling Castle 10:44
                                      2. Polygondwanaland 03:32
                                      3. The Castle In The Air 02:47
                                      4. Deserted Dunes Welcome Weary Feet 03:33
                                      5. Inner Cell 03:55
                                      6. Loyalty 03:38
                                      7. Horology 02:52
                                      8. Tetrachromacy 03:30
                                      9. Searching... 03:03
                                      10. The Fourth Colour 06:12

                                      Toy

                                      Clear Shot

                                        Splitting their time between Tom Dougall and bassist Maxim Barron’s place in New Cross and Dominic O’Dair’s flat in Walthamstow, where they set up a makeshift studio and laid down the early album demos, Clear Shot began to take shape in the first half of 2015.

                                        Taking inspiration from an esoteric blend – Radiophonic Workshop, Comus, the scores of Bernard Herrmann, John Barry and Ennio Morricone Fairport, COUM, Acid House, Incredible String Band, The Langley Schools Project, The Wicker Man soundtrack and even the direction behind Electric Eden, Rob Young’s book about the development of folk music in the U.K. – by the time they entered Eve Studios in Stockport in October 2015 with producer David Wrench, the band were clear about the direction the album should take.

                                        The result is their most coherent and confident album to date; lushly cinematic, shot through with their most expressive melodies thus far and coated with a ‘sheen’ courtesy of Chris Coady (Beach House, Smith Westerns, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), who mixed the album in LA with some of the reverbs and vocal processors used on Purple Rain, across the 10-tracks strands of ideas appear, sink and re-emerge in an almost modal jazz manner. Clear Shot sees TOY working both in bigger colours and more minutely crafted detail, achieving an altogether higher level of artistry than before.


                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Andy says: Toy released two superb records within a year of each other (2012/13) then vanished for 3! They return with by far their best yet: darker, spookier but somehow poppier, this extends their shoegazey take on psych and garage into a much higher realm. Like the House Of Love but with way more going on. Brilliant.

                                        Ryan says: Clear Shot sees TOY working both in bigger colours and more minutely crafted detail, stripping back a little to reveal a bigger picture. This could be their most coherent & confident album to date.

                                        King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard

                                        Nonagon Infinity

                                        Recording, releasing and touring a couple of albums in 18 months is beyond the realms of comprehensibility for most bands, but then King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard aren’t ‘most bands’. Forget a couple of albums, Friday April 29th 2016 marks the release of Nonagon Infinity, their fourth long-player for Heavenly Recordings in a little under a year and a half. Workshy they ain’t!

                                        After the acid-flecked cosmic jazz of Quarters and the hazy, pastoral, acoustic bliss of Paper Mache Dream Balloon, with Nonagon Infinity the Gizzard once again dive head-long into the gonzo freak-beat frenzy that mark both their Heavenly debut I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, and their perpetually in motion, double-drummer propelled live show.

                                        Recorded by Wayne Gordon, Paul Maybury, Michael Badger and Stu Mackenzie at Daptone Studios in Brooklyn, in keeping with their indefatigable spirit the 9 track album may be the world's first infinitely looping LP. Each of the nine, complex, blistering tracks on Nonagon Infinity seamlessly flows into the next, with the final song linking straight back into the top of the opener like a sonic mobius strip.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1. Robot Stop
                                        2. Big Fig Wasp
                                        3. Gamma Knife
                                        4. People-Vultures
                                        5. Mr. Beat
                                        6. Evil Death Roll
                                        7. Invisible Face
                                        8. Wah Wah
                                        9. Road Train

                                        'Annabel Dream Reader' is the debut album from The Wytches, released on Heavenly Recordings on August 25th 2014. Recorded at Toe Rag Studios and co-produced by the band's Kristian Bell and former The Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones.

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Andy says: Scorched psych-pop boisterousness, with a dark, almost Gothic sense of unease. The record that's been sending The Kids wild this year!

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1 Digsaw
                                        2 Wide At Midnight
                                        3 Gravedweller
                                        4 Fragile Male
                                        5 Burn Out The Bruise
                                        6 Wire Frame Mattress
                                        7 Beehive Queen
                                        8 Weights And Ties
                                        9 Part Time Model
                                        10 Summer Again
                                        11 Robe For Juda
                                        12 Crying Clown
                                        13 Track 13

                                        Jimi Goodwin

                                        Odludek

                                          Following Jimi Goodwin’s announcement that he’ll be supporting Elbow on their April 2014 UK arena tour, we’re very pleased to reveal details of his debut solo album, ‘Odludek’, which will be released on Heavenly Recordings on Monday 24th March 2014.

                                          This is the first new music release from Jimi since Doves’s Kingdom Of Rust in 2009 so it’s set to be a very special release indeed.

                                          Jimi on Odludek:
                                          “I wanted to make this mad mixtape… the kind you’d pass back and forth with your mates; eclectic as fuck. That’s the way we’ve all discovered music over the years isn’t it? We join our own dots to make it all make sense. As I got into making the record, it felt like I was proving something to myself, making a point that I could do all this on my own. You know — I can play bass, I can play guitar, I can orchestrate. As the methods changed, the original concept stayed intact. It’s me, powering through ideas, kapow kapow, no pause for breath. It’s not trying to be wilfully eclectic; it’s just a reflection of how I schizophrenically devour music.”

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Andy says: Everything you loved about the Doves - Jimi is, after all, the main songwriter- but with a more playful, homemade bent. Fantastic.

                                          Temples

                                          Sun Structures

                                            The album was recorded at home, in the box-room of James's house in Kettering, an end terrace with a blessedly forgiving neighbour. "I'm always apologising to him for the noise, but he says, 'It's not noise, it's music,'" says James. The band aim for Jack Nietzche production on a DIY budget – and succeed. "It's similar to Joe Meek – he used to record vocals in his bathroom in his flat on Holloway Road," says Tom. "The way I see it, there aren't any limitations any more," says James. "If you know what you want to achieve, there's always a way around it."

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Andy says: Cool as you like psychedelic pop album, with some massive melodies and trippy sounds.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            1 Shelter Song
                                            2 Sun Structures
                                            3 The Golden Throne
                                            4 Keep In The Dark
                                            5 Mesmerise
                                            6 Move With The Season
                                            7 Colours To Life
                                            8 A Question Isn't Answered
                                            9 The Guesser
                                            10 Test Of Time
                                            11 Sand Dance
                                            12 Fragment's Light 

                                            Toy’s swirling, psychedelia, Krautrock indebted debut album arrived almost exactly 12 months ago.

                                            Dan Carey sits at the controls once again on ‘Join The Dots’, released via Heavenly Recordings.

                                            As with their debut, ‘Join The Dots’ was recorded mostly live with Carey at the helm, although increased studio time has enabled the band to experiment more with Carey’s laboratory of effects and pre-amps, and embellish the tracks with overdubs.

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Andy says: As good, if not better than their superb debut. And you can't say that too often! A much more powerful, physical record, but with those shogazery melodies still intact.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            1. Conductor
                                            2. You Won’t Be The Same
                                            3. As We Turn
                                            4. Join The Dots
                                            5. To A Death Unknown
                                            6. Endlessly
                                            7. It’s Been So Long
                                            8. Left To Wander
                                            9. Too Far Gone To Know
                                            10. Frozen Atmosphere
                                            11. Fall Out Of Love

                                            Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood

                                            Black Pudding

                                              Mark Lanegan has teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood to release Black Pudding via Heavenly Recordings.

                                              Lanegan, never one to shy away from unique collaborations, has previously worked with Isobel Campbell, Greg Dulli and as a member of The Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age and Soulsavers. "Duke Garwood is one of my all time favorite artists," said Lanegan. "Working with him has been one of the best experiences of my recording life." Lanegan and Garwood met a few years ago while playing on the same bill and Garwood was a frequent opener on Lanegan's recent European tour.

                                              Garwood has often been described in the press as Lanegan's "spiritual cousin across the Atlantic waters." He has been widely praised as a master bluesman, with The Quietus saying "The combination of Garwood's murmured vocals and the sound he gets out of his guitar - which ranges from a rolling, loose finger-picking to shuddering howls of feedback - has a hypnotic effect" and The Mirror dubbing him as "London's leading exponent of the wheezy broke-down blues."

                                              Black Pudding was recorded at Pink Duck Studios in Burbank, California by Justin Smith (Tegan & Sara, The Hives) and mixed by his Queens of the Stone Age associate Alain Johannes.


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