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MEMORIALS OF DISTINCTION

Kiran Leonard

Real Home

    Cathartic avant-rock, literate DIY folk & experimental composition exploring displacement, love, climate change, belonging & the places we call home - RIYL Jim O’Rourke, Richard Youngs, This Heat, Richard Dawson, Flying Nun.

    ‘Real Home’ is the new album by the Manchester-born, London-based artist Kiran Leonard. His sixth album proper (not including innumerable tour-only CD-Rs and short-run cassettes), since his precocious debut in 2013, ‘Real Home’ finds Leonard invigorated by inspiration and experience, making passionate, literate, and mercurial music that explores displacement, love, memory, climate change, connections to home and more.

    Encompassing songs recorded after moving to South London, ‘Real Home’ reflects on ideas of belonging and domesticity through folkloric, stream-of-consciousness songwriting. Across nine tracks, Leonard traces lived impressions of the household and the city, expressing sentiments of dislocation, alienation and stasis, but contentment too.

    Infusing the avant-rock effervescence, terraced dynamics and visionary lyricism of his music with what he defines as a greater sense of openness, Leonard is as versatile, fervent and imaginative as ever on ‘Real Home’, yet his music is somehow more intimate, affecting, and acutely expressive. Shaped by dual considerations of simplicity and formalism, ‘Real Home’ is by turns beautiful, allusive, and ruminative, an album on which Leonard considers what his songs have resembled in the past and what they mean now.

    In recent years, Leonard has crafted eloquent chamber music inspired by the likes of James Joyce and Clarice Lispector (‘Derevaun Seraun’), responded to contemporary politics and communication breakdown in the digital age (‘Western Culture’), and compiled solo works and ensemble recordings for a longform ode to Jonas Mekas and to one of Leonard’s enduring themes; home (‘Trespass On Foot’).

    On ‘Real Home’, Leonard reiterates this abiding thematic focus yet ascends to new, different heights, in music of cathartic delicacy and dissonance where all the myriad dimensions of his work to date seem to crystallize.

    There are sinuous songs about struggle and defying the pace of city life through drift and diversion (‘Pass Between Houses’), stirring songs of intense feeling and crescendo, described as a form of speculative detective fiction (‘Theatre for Change’). There are touching solo piano ballads (the title track), symbolic contentions with carbon capture and climate change (‘Utopia of Bog’), modes of experimental minimalism (‘Void Attentive’), and other profuse feats of compositional range, embroidered with wild tendrils of narrative and lyrical depth. A record to pore over, and get lost in.

    Exemplifying the vast aesthetic scope of Leonard’s music, lead single ‘My Love, Let’s Take The Stage Tonight’ is inspired by country lodestar Hank Williams, Russian poetry and a late period love poem by William Carlos Williams. Yet for Leonard, the song signals a sense of accessible materiality, and is the product of a more linear approach to writing songs:

    “My imitation of the great Hank Williams, in spirit if not in substance…This is one of the best efforts on Real Home at a song-as-object. Looking at it now I realise I was trying to write a song that made itself known as a song to the listener, and I wonder whether that’s crucial if you want a song to transcend its context. And that this is either accomplished through a total openness – by being inviting, by laying the tricks of the song out plain to see, as Williams and his many ghostwriters did so well – or by adopting a knowing aloofness, positioning oneself against the listener but letting it be known that that’s what it’s doing. In this song I try both, but mostly the former: as in, I wanted to write a song where every line follows on from the next.”

    Imbuing the endlessly elaborate and inventive qualities of his music with a newfound streak of candid, clear-cut melodicism, Leonard has reached a special place in his artistry, on a record that feels familial, and expresses closeness. Assembled with affiliates including Lauren Auder, Otto Willberg, Jasper Llewellyn (caroline), Tom Hardwick-Allan (Shovel Dance Collective), Magda McLean (caroline, The Umlauts), Alex Mckenzie (caroline, Shovel Dance Collective), Isabelle Thorn (Dear Laika) & more, the recording process had a significant influence on the subject matter of ‘Real Home’, in sessions defined by close-knit camaraderie and artistic eccentricity:

    “The theme of the home obviously recurs throughout the record; the album was mostly recorded in domestic spaces with friends, and the name of the album is Real Home. I like the qualifier ‘real’, like you’re getting past the cloak of the word and towards the thing-itself…[also] nearly all the percussion in this record was recorded on items from my dad’s shed (jam jars, sandpaper, blocks of wood, etc). Real home record!”

    ‘Real Home’, like anything by Kiran Leonard, is a record of dazzling multiplicity. Yet it’s a companionable prospect with a central premise; a collection of songs where listeners old and new can find a home. An album led by a scene; of Leonard standing at the threshold, ready to welcome you inside.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Pass Between Houses
    2. Theatre For Change
    3. Real Home
    4. Treat Me A Stranger
    5. Utopia Of Bog
    6. Void Attentive
    7. My Love, Let's Take The Stage Tonight
    8. The Kiss
    9. He Had Always Led

    London-based ‘indie-supergroup’ SUEP announce their long-awaited debut mini-album Shop, a collection of six oddball, car-boot-sale pop songs with a sprinkling of theatrical storytelling. Led by Georgie Stott (of Porridge Radio, Garden Centre) and Josh Harvey, SUEP was born out of a near-decade of playing in sheds and barns with like minded personnel, holding a mutual love for Paul McCartney, Jona Lewie, the B-52s, Devo and other performative freaks enjoying themselves.

    Following a move to London from Brighton, the pair added George Nicholls (The GN Band, Joanna Gruesome, The Tubs), Will William Deacon (PC World, Garden Centre), and Ollie Chapman (Boil King) to the line-up. The five-piece take turns writing songs and taking the lead vocal duties in a wonderfully playful but coherent collaboration, with their debut mini-album Shop being a kaleidoscopic off kilter pop ride, taking the listener through haunted castles, deprived encounters, days lost to the imagination in bed, and through the integral friendships that give SUEP the energy to keep dancing to their own beat.

    The album was arranged and recorded in the Red Lion Boys Club, an ex-youth centre in which Georgie and Josh both lived. Using equipment collected by Josh in his travels as a bootsale and market trader, the sports hall was transformed into a makeshift studio for a few days, with sessions conducted by producer Matthew Green (Sniffany & The Nits, The Tubs, etc.)

    Mark Riley (BBC 6 Music) described SUEP’s debut single and album opener, ‘Domesticated Dream’ (2021) as “perfect pop music.” The joyfully kitsch track brims with a 70s Yamaha disco beat, deep bass, nostalgic drum machines, and hooky melodies. Possibly the most psychedelic and infectious track born out of lockdown, it tackles homelife, drinking too much, and making big plans that never come to fruition, but with a big technicoloured positivity for the future of the human-race, with the chorus’ refrain, “the psychedelic 4000s,” predicting the return of the psychedelic Age of Aquarius in a couple of millennia time.

    The following single ‘Misery’ (2021) is pure cosmic swing-pop wizardry in part inspired by spy music and The Supremes. Ollie, The track’s baritone vocalist, describes it as “A love song disguised as a song about loss. It's about cherishing the things that matter but it’s also about having the courage to say goodbye,” with each line of the song a small story about a different character.

    Whilst latest Shop taster ‘In Good Health’ is darkly euphoric like a pleasantly strange meeting of Siouxsie Sioux and Jona Lewie. It’s a playfully discombobulating mix of 80s jangly guitar, chirpy keyboard and moody post-punk tackling mental health, drug addiction, and the power of friendship, written after the song’s vocalist Georgie came out of hospital following a mental health crisis. “I wanted to write a song that encapsulated how important my relationships with my friends and boyfriend were at that time” she explains “…and one that also felt dark like I did at the time. I couldn’t go outside due to anxiety surrounding my health so I stayed inside for weeks. People would visit and watch films with me or let me tattoo them or make music with me. My community helped me recover.”

    Elsewhere on Shop is ‘Just The Job’ fronted by Harvey and described by him as “About the relief of accepting a menial existence, and allowing life to be boring - but (within that) how the small things are the important ones, how pulling a sicky or extra long lunch break are important things to do for yourself, and how easy it is to miss the joy of every day once you get comfortable in a routine.” It’s an anthem for working people who’ve had enough - and a crowd favourite at SUEP gigs.

    The darker undertones and post-punk angles of the Georgie-fronted ‘Onions’ is inspired by the crapness of cliques, with the band calling the song “A cry of welcome to all;” and finally the hooky ‘Friend of Mine,’ described as “A love letter to all the people that come and go throughout your life no matter how long you know them” - another number recalling Jona Lewie, mixed with a little sprinkling of Jonathan Richman in Harvey’s vocal delivery.

    SUEP have received coverage in Independent & Clash, (among many others), with big support from Mark Riley and Steve Lamacq (BBC 6 Music) for early singles. They have played countless gigs over the last couple of years, with their first ever headline show at London’s Stag Head selling out immediately, toured with contemporaries such as Garden Centre and Ex-Void, and performed at 2022’s The Great Escape.

    SUEP’s mini-album Shop was recorded in February 2020 within two days with producer Matthew Green (Sniffany & The Nits, The Tubs, etc.) at Georgie and Josh’s old home, the Red Lion Boys Club youth centre in Surrey Quays, with the old sports hall being made into a makeshift studio. It was later mixed by Mike O’Malley (caroline, Girl Ray).

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: 'Shop' is an endlessly joyous and fiendishly hummable selection of upbeat pop anthems skilfully spanning disco, lounge jazz and art rock and pulling them all together into a surprisingly cohesive whole. At points quaint and minimalistic, while wonderfully widescreen in others. It's a perfect example of a fun release, without ever being too twee to enjoy.

    TRACK LISTING

    A
    1) Domesticated Dream
    2) Friend Of Mine
    3) Onions
    B
    4) Misery
    5) In Good Health
    6) Just A Job

    Porridge Radio

    Rice, Pasta And Other Fillers

      Back by popular demand, Memorials of Distinction is rereleasing Porridge Radio's shed-recorded debut album.

      This comes after a year in which Porridge Radio's Every Bad, their first on Secretly Canadian, led to top reviews in Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, The Times, The Quietus, Clash, Uncut, Q, The Independent, LOBF, DIY, Stereogum, Paste, Vice, amongst others, and then being shortlisted as one of the Hyundai Mercury Prize's 12 Albums of 2020.

      Porridge Radio started as Dana Margolin’s bedroom project, but grew to a Brighton-based band who, on this debut, inelegantly knotted together tender melodic pop songs with vicious and furious emotional outpour. After a series of home-recorded solo demos and the growing legend of their live shows on the UK DIY scene, they originally released this lofi debut full band LP in 2016. The album documents struggles with life, love and boredom - spelt out with sticky fingers by five idiot savants. RP&OF's lyrics, title and artwork, as well as the group's name, brings to mind a certain scrapbook absurdism at the core of Porridge Radio's earlier work. Faced with the dark abyss of existence, Margolin and co. scrape together some value from the nonsensical and the pointless, and then cling to it, giggling, for dear life

      TRACK LISTING

      A1 Danish Pastry Lyrics
      A2 Lemonade
      A3 Barks Like A Dog
      A4 Walking The Cow (Daniel Johnston Cover)
      A5 Can U Hear Me Now?
      B1 Sorry
      B2 Worms
      B3 And I Was Like
      B4 Eugh
      B5 Our Love Is Shrinking Down


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