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SPEEDY WUNDERGROUND

Stephen Fretwell

Busy Guy

    After an absence of 13 years Stephen Fretwell has announced news of his long-awaited third album, Busy Guy, released via Speedy Wunderground. Described by Fretwell as “a song cycle of sorts,” the album examines the seasons of a life, exploring fatherhood, grief and rebirth, with Fretwell’s trademark eloquence and wit.

    Busy Guy was produced by Fretwell’s close friend and Speedy Wunderground label boss, Dan Carey. They recorded the whole thing one hot July afternoon in just two hours. “I was so fired up, I just rattled off the songs,” Fretwell says. “I assumed it was the run-through, but Dan said he thought we’d got it.” The next day, Carey assembled “a palate of sound” involving keyboards and an electric guitar. “Dan said, ‘I’m just going to react to the songs over the next few hours’, and that’s the finished record, besides some cello.” The album title was also Carey’s idea. Fretwell explains: “Years ago, Dan asked why I always carried a copy of The Guardian, a notebook and a pen when all I did was go to the pub. I said: if you go to the pub at 11am with a newspaper, a notebook and pen, you look like a busy guy rather than a pisshead. It became a joke between us. The joke too is that I didn’t do any music for years.”

    The album was recorded at Dean Street Studios in Soho, not far from where Fretwell now lives, and London looms large on the record, in titles like ‘Oval’ and ‘Embankment’: stops on the Tube, and urban images shimmer as Fretwell captures a city full of pride and secrets. He wrote most of the lyrics for Busy Guy sitting in the British Library, “taking the songs to pieces and reassembling them, refining the words, thinking about the stories.”

    And what stories. From the album’s opener, ‘The Goshawk and the Gull’, a wintery lament shot through with foreboding, the album moves through characters and scenes, from shorelines to collapsing buildings, looping in its callbacks with panache. Fretwell is a seasoned craftsman, and this is an album that sneaks up on you; that hunts you in the listen. The themes of the record are heavyweight – the breakdown of a relationship, lost love, lost family, guilt, yearning – but there is boldness in the delivery that provides uplift to the emotional heft. Several of the songs have colours for their titles: ‘Orange’, ‘Green’, ‘Pink’, ‘Copper’. They hit like a series of fever dreams.

    There are moments of visceral delight, of ripeness and fullness in nature – blood, milk and honey, peaches and almonds – all set against the backdrop of the slow-burn of long-term love. Fretwell is a true poet with his imagery – taking us on a tour of the universe as he tries to conflate the experience of loss and love on a major scale, yet never wanting to assume grandeur, always dancing that fine line between statement and question. He takes us right up into the cosmos, to “moon craters” and “crazed constellations” (‘Green’), to religion’s saints and angels, and right back slap-down down to earth again – in the grotesque detail of horseflies twitching in last night’s wine glasses, and the fridge-cold lagers the narrator of ‘Pink’ has brought for the beach: a peace offering, but also an opt-out.

    Summer features heavily on the record, but also not-summer, a desire for summer, and, ultimately, a resignation to time passing, to the approach of spring. ‘Almond’ features Spanish guitar flares – hints of heat, of holidays past. The coast also plays a big part, no doubt due to it being the setting for much of Fretwell’s recent life in Brighton, and seabirds as well as sea animals duck and dive through the lyrics, offering levity in the album’s darker moments. There are wry takes on urban life, on white privilege, on satisfied songbirds, and never quite settling into middle-class family life.

    These relaxed tones, combined with the bright energy of ‘Copper’ break into the harder beats of ‘Almond’, where “the sun tries, but it can’t get through” and summer starts to lose all its shine and expression itself seems under threat. “A love song is croaking,” he sings. ‘Almond’ tells the story of a relationship, from meet-cute to heartbreak, packed in a bittersweet little nutshell. “‘Almond’ dips in and out of a relationship I had over 20 years, from fumbling around in a doorway to having a child,” says Fretwell. Words weave and tangle in the album’s latter songs, a mind and life unravelling, a descent to the gut-punch moment, spelled out in the album’s final song, ‘Green’.

    But it’s not an ending so much as the beginning of the cycle all over again. While Busy Guy acknowledges tragedy, it is also punctuated with hope. The narrator of ‘Embankment’ might beg for his body to be dragged from the water, but his heart is still beating. Busy Guy is a record that dips into darkness but ultimately shines in its own light. A record that symbolises a waking up. A fresh start. A newness that bears the weight of the past but uses it to great effect.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. The Goshawk And The Gull
    2. Remember
    3. Embankment
    4. Oval
    5. The Long Water
    6. Orange
    7. Pink
    8. Copper
    9. Almond
    10. Green

    Stephen Fretwell

    Busy Guy + 'Solo Acoustic Show' Ticket Bundle

      THIS EVENT HAS NOW SOLD OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Stephen Fretwell - Busy Guy: Solo Acoustic Show

      We are excited to announce that we will be hosting a solo acoustic show at Night & Day on Saturday 17th July to celebrate the launch of Stephen Fretwell's new album Busy Guy.

      Tickets for this event are available exclusively from Piccadilly Records as LP/CD and Ticket bundles or stand alone tickets.

      We urge you to consider buying an LP / CD bundle rather than Ticket only as they offer the best value for money, PLUS this way you are helping the artist. Also, we want to be able to do more of these Album Launch shows in the future and the more albums we sell the more artists and labels will want to be involved.

      NB: NIGHT & DAY CAFE IS AN 18+ ONLY VENUE. ID WILL BE REQUIRED.

      WE WILL NOT BE ISSUING PHYSICAL TICKETS FOR THIS SHOW. PLEASE KEEP YOUR ORDER CONFIRMATION AS YOU WILL NEED THIS AND SOME FORM OF ID TO GAIN ENTRY TO THE SHOW.


      ##############################################################

      About the album:

      After an absence of 13 years Stephen Fretwell has announced news of his long-awaited third album, Busy Guy, released via Speedy Wunderground. Described by Fretwell as “a song cycle of sorts,” the album examines the seasons of a life, exploring fatherhood, grief and rebirth, with Fretwell’s trademark eloquence and wit.

      Busy Guy was produced by Fretwell’s close friend and Speedy Wunderground label boss, Dan Carey. They recorded the whole thing one hot July afternoon in just two hours. “I was so fired up, I just rattled off the songs,” Fretwell says. “I assumed it was the run-through, but Dan said he thought we’d got it.” The next day, Carey assembled “a palate of sound” involving keyboards and an electric guitar. “Dan said, ‘I’m just going to react to the songs over the next few hours’, and that’s the finished record, besides some cello.” The album title was also Carey’s idea. Fretwell explains: “Years ago, Dan asked why I always carried a copy of The Guardian, a notebook and a pen when all I did was go to the pub. I said: if you go to the pub at 11am with a newspaper, a notebook and pen, you look like a busy guy rather than a pisshead. It became a joke between us. The joke too is that I didn’t do any music for years.”

      The album was recorded at Dean Street Studios in Soho, not far from where Fretwell now lives, and London looms large on the record, in titles like ‘Oval’ and ‘Embankment’: stops on the Tube, and urban images shimmer as Fretwell captures a city full of pride and secrets. He wrote most of the lyrics for Busy Guy sitting in the British Library, “taking the songs to pieces and reassembling them, refining the words, thinking about the stories.”

      And what stories. From the album’s opener, ‘The Goshawk and the Gull’, a wintery lament shot through with foreboding, the album moves through characters and scenes, from shorelines to collapsing buildings, looping in its callbacks with panache. Fretwell is a seasoned craftsman, and this is an album that sneaks up on you; that hunts you in the listen. The themes of the record are heavyweight – the breakdown of a relationship, lost love, lost family, guilt, yearning – but there is boldness in the delivery that provides uplift to the emotional heft. Several of the songs have colours for their titles: ‘Orange’, ‘Green’, ‘Pink’, ‘Copper’. They hit like a series of fever dreams.

      There are moments of visceral delight, of ripeness and fullness in nature – blood, milk and honey, peaches and almonds – all set against the backdrop of the slow-burn of long-term love. Fretwell is a true poet with his imagery – taking us on a tour of the universe as he tries to conflate the experience of loss and love on a major scale, yet never wanting to assume grandeur, always dancing that fine line between statement and question. He takes us right up into the cosmos, to “moon craters” and “crazed constellations” (‘Green’), to religion’s saints and angels, and right back slap-down down to earth again – in the grotesque detail of horseflies twitching in last night’s wine glasses, and the fridge-cold lagers the narrator of ‘Pink’ has brought for the beach: a peace offering, but also an opt-out.

      Summer features heavily on the record, but also not-summer, a desire for summer, and, ultimately, a resignation to time passing, to the approach of spring. ‘Almond’ features Spanish guitar flares – hints of heat, of holidays past. The coast also plays a big part, no doubt due to it being the setting for much of Fretwell’s recent life in Brighton, and seabirds as well as sea animals duck and dive through the lyrics, offering levity in the album’s darker moments. There are wry takes on urban life, on white privilege, on satisfied songbirds, and never quite settling into middle-class family life.

      These relaxed tones, combined with the bright energy of ‘Copper’ break into the harder beats of ‘Almond’, where “the sun tries, but it can’t get through” and summer starts to lose all its shine and expression itself seems under threat. “A love song is croaking,” he sings. ‘Almond’ tells the story of a relationship, from meet-cute to heartbreak, packed in a bittersweet little nutshell. “‘Almond’ dips in and out of a relationship I had over 20 years, from fumbling around in a doorway to having a child,” says Fretwell. Words weave and tangle in the album’s latter songs, a mind and life unravelling, a descent to the gut-punch moment, spelled out in the album’s final song, ‘Green’.

      But it’s not an ending so much as the beginning of the cycle all over again. While Busy Guy acknowledges tragedy, it is also punctuated with hope. The narrator of ‘Embankment’ might beg for his body to be dragged from the water, but his heart is still beating. Busy Guy is a record that dips into darkness but ultimately shines in its own light. A record that symbolises a waking up. A fresh start. A newness that bears the weight of the past but uses it to great effect.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. The Goshawk And The Gull
      2. Remember
      3. Embankment
      4. Oval
      5. The Long Water
      6. Orange
      7. Pink
      8. Copper
      9. Almond
      10. Green

      The Lounge Society

      Silk For The Starving EP

        Pre-order this EP to be in with a chance of winning an exclusive signed test-pressing.

        With their first two singles under their belts – "Generation Game", the fastest selling 7" for the award-winning label, and "Burn The Heather" – plus a raft of Ones To Watch accolades for 2021, there is much anticipation for what lies next for the band.

        In early 2020, "Generation Game" announced the band as artists shaping powerful narratives around a fast-fragmenting society. With the lyric “what will the US do?” they served up a painfully prescient prediction of American unrest.

        Follow-up single "Burn The Heather" made a left-hand turn for the more punk-funk, sneering at culture wars and the damaging impact of a class divide.

        New single "Cain’s Heresy" shakes with the propulsion of a nimble rhythm section, full of bite and scorn, simultaneously swinging angrily at a negligent political class ("The death of four souls is less than a kick in the teeth, for them"), the threat of misinformation ("Poisonous ideals on the screen breed a vicious way of thinking, off the screen") and the noxious follow-the-leader march of celebrity culture ("They’re servants to fame"). The EP title “Silk For The Starving” in itself probes at a society that routinely neglects the needs of the have-nots.

        The Lounge Society sing about what they know then. Make no mistake, this is the sound of young England: articulate, enraged and energised. And – perhaps crucially - highly danceable too. It should give hope to anyone who has lost faith in the future, because here the future is in safe hands.



        TRACK LISTING

        Burn The Heather
        Television
        Cain’s Heresy
        Valley Bottom Fever

        Savage Gary

        Quarantine Sampler 2

        Despite current circumstances – Speedy Wunderground have had a busy year. The London-based label run by producer Dan Carey alongside Alexis Smith and Pierre Hall were recently coveted with the ‘Best Small Label’ Award by AIM (Association of Independent Music) after being nominated for the second year in a row. When COVID hit – bringing bands into the studio wasn’t an option and so the label started an ongoing project called ‘THE QUARANTINE SERIES’ in which Carey under his ‘Savage Gary’ techno/electronic alter ego collaborated with artists and friends, old and new over the internet and then uploaded them to the labels Soundcloud/socials with little or no fanfare – no PR-ing or radio pluggers, just letting them do their own thing, organically.

        First on the release is ‘Wait & See’ from rising Bajan artist RoRo. A hypnotic masterful flow which meanders seamlessly around Carey’s pulsating electronics. It’s bursting with attitude and originality. ‘I saw Dan Carey play with Kae Tempest on one of my first few times ever being out in London’ she says, ‘it was such an amazing show. I was extremely excited to then get the chance to work with him. I'd been trying to do so while in London, but it didn't quite work out that way. We did manage to make it happen remotely whilst I was back in Barbados though, and we knocked it out!’

        Second is ‘Cigarettes Pt. 2’ from the enigmatic Londoner youngblackmale AKA Rutare Savage: ‘It’s a poem, transformed into a song by the ever amazing Dan Carey. It touches (lightly) upon the topics of fear of the police, drug and alcohol abuse, family, and pulling oneself out of a nihilistic worldview driven by a newfound lust for life. This is me trying to reason with the void.’


        TRACK LISTING

        1. Savage Gary Feat. RoRo – Wait & See
        2. Savage Gary Feat. Youngblackmale – Cigarettes Pt. 2

        Tiña

        Positive Mental Health Music

          Pre-order the album to be in with a chance of winning a limited edition test pressing.

          Freud’s process of therapy was famously labelled the ‘Talking Cure’ - through the act of conversation participants received cathartic relief. Positive Mental Health Music (PMHM), the debut album from South East London band Tiña, stems from this idea. Lead singer/songwriter Josh Loftin explains that he used the songs to “work through a mental breakdown”, and that for him “writing is like solving a mystery”.

          The 11 track LP provides an honest and intimate portrait into this process of self-examination, covering themes of anxiety, depression, love, sex, isolation, fear and failure. Yet, PMHM is anything but a difficult listen: the tracks are catchy, lively - even danceable at times. Loftin’s cooing vocals, his lyrics poetic yet slightly self-mocking, sit atop a blend of psych-pop keys, drums and guitars, all guided by the shepherding hand of producer Dan Carey.

          After singles ‘I Feel Fine’ and ‘Dip’, Positive Mental Health Music is the first ever LP to be released on Carey’s Speedy Wunderground label.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          says: Tiña perfectly stands between solemn bedroom rock and intricate art-pop, at once beautiful and effecting but without ever being a struggle to listen to. Personal, frank but beautiful and wonderfully done.

          TRACK LISTING

          1Buddha
          2 Rosalina
          3 I Feel Fine
          4 Rooster
          5 Closest Shave
          6 Growing In Age
          7 New Boi
          8 Golden Rope
          9 It's No Use
          10 Dip
          11 People

          Savage Gary

          Quarantine Sampler (Love Record Stores Edition)

            Love Record Stores Edition available from 9am on Saturday June 20th.
            Limited to one per person.



            Various Artists

            Speedy Wunderground: Year 3

              The London-based record label releases the third compilation of tracks from their limited edition 7” and 10” singles on LP and digital download formats.

              Among those artists / tracks involved in this collection are the skittering Arthur Russell-indebted jam of ‘Running Out’ by Boxed In & Formation, the DNA-rearranging genre-shifting post punk of Melt Yourself Down, the glacial synth-pop of JW Ridley and the Sademeets- PJ Harvey power pop of newcomer Dewey.

              In the strong tradition of breaking their own rules the compilation also includes the two tracks from Speedy’s very first double A-Side - Meatduscher aka Meatraffle’s ‘The Bird Song’ (one of Marc Riley’s Tracks Of The Year) and the dirty riffage of Warmduscher’s ‘The Sweet Smell Of Florida’ which also appears on their recent Careyproduced album ‘Whale City’.

              For the first time ever the label also deviated from their strict 7” policy with the epic sprawling 13-minute epic ‘Hyperborea’ from Kraut-psychedelia darlings Flamingods, the results of which could only be contained on 10” wax.

              Also included is the summery G-funk groove of ‘I’m Gone’ from legendary Detroit Stones Throw rapper Guilty Simpson, laying down his vocals over a beat provided by label head-honcho himself Mr. Dan AKA Dan Carey.

              Speedy Wunderground, the label run by Dan Carey alongside Alexis Smith and Pierre Hall, is changing. As always this evolvement is a natural thing, driven by the artists and, more importantly, the music itself. Whilst the focus is still on the idea of spontaneity examples like the above are a perfect example of how the imprint is developing.

              “The whole idea of Speedy is to be unrestricted,” says Hall, “so although the ‘rules’ themselves have always been slightly tongue-incheek there would be a subtle sense of irony in the idea that we were restricted by our own restrictions! So we’re kinda open to anything. That’s the point. As always, the music takes first priority.”

              Boss

              I'm Down With That

                BOSS are Guro Gikling of All We Are, Theresa Wayman of Warpaint, Sarah Jones, who has previously drummed for Hot Chip and Yeasayer, and Speedy Wunderground head-honcho Dan Carey, who has recently been involved in the Sexwitch project with Natasha Khan and TOY.

                In the time honoured spirit of the label, the single was produced in a day at Dan’s south London studio and is their first release, yet the inception of the band goes back to 2012 when Dan met Theresa at a festival in Slovakia (he would also later produce All We Are’s debut album).

                “Being a Warpaint fan I found her backstage and told her I was the best psychedelic rock producer in the world,” remembers Dan.

                “The exact words of her response were ’that’s the last fucking thing we need. See you later.’ “

                Despite the inauspicious meeting, Dan would later be recruited to work on Theresa’s forthcoming solo album and having met Guro on tour, Theresa invited her to also work on the long-player.

                Born out of these album sessions, the BOSS track came out of post recording jams and after recruiting drummer Sarah Jones, a 20 second snatch of an almost 15 hour jam was eventually worked into ‘I’m Down With That’.



                TRACK LISTING

                BOSS - I'm Down With That
                BOSS - 'Mr Dan’s I’m Dub With That' Version

                Various Artists

                Speedy Wunderground: Year 1

                  The record label Speedy Wunderground is the idea of producer Dan Carey, who has previously produced records for Franz Ferdinand, Bat For Lashes, The Kills, Steve Mason, Willy Mason, Django Django and TOY, to name a few.

                  The idea of Speedy Wunderground was to create something immediate, harking back to the golden age of rock and roll - where records were written, recorded and put out in a short space of time. All Speedy records are recorded and produced by Dan in one day, followed by mixing for one day, released on 7” single in limited runs of 250 as soon as is humanly possible.

                  Each record is recorded in Dan’s south London studio - the core of each song is a live take recorded in the dark with smoke and lasers.

                  ‘Speedy Wunderground: Year 1’ is a collection of the first year’s singles along with the B-sides.


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