By Jon Milton
After laying low for most of 2021, Springfield Elementary released their stonking new ep 'Ne + Ultra' earlier this month on York label Safe Suburban Home. The EP shows the swift evolution of the band in a short space of time, with this latest music further infusing psychedelic and krautrock influences to the garage-punk blasts of their early releases. I caught up with the band to find out more about the EP...
How are you all? How has 2021 treated you?
It's been a strange year much like the one before it but there’s plenty of positives for us too. We were lucky and our practice room stayed open throughout the lockdowns so we were able to keep playing music together & write new songs.
Your new EP Ne + Ultra is out – tell us about it?
We recorded this at Airtight Studios at the start of the year so it feels good to finally release it! We felt that we were able to experiment more throughout the EP and start bringing in more of our external influences from across the globe. Safe Suburban Homes Records were kind enough to help us release it and we have some cassettes of the EP available on Bandcamp.
The EP feels like you’re starting to expand your garage-rock sound, the shoe gaze influence on ‘On a cloud’, the motorik beat on ‘Keep on Moving’, a bit of the Coral maybe on Barracuda King’ – how has that come about?
We all enjoy a wide variety of music and our road trips usually consist of weird and wonderful playlists so I think as we’ve grown as a band, we’ve figured out a way to start bringing these influences together a bit more. We don’t really think about it when we’re writing songs, we usually just have a jam and see what happens.
Barracuda King is about an interesting night, care to elaborate?
It’s probably more of a concoction of many strange nights I’ve had over the years to be fair. Moments in the after sesh where you go a bit nuts and your mind isn’t in this world. It’s kind of half anecdotal and half tripping guide!
Keep on Moving – do you think that people are more and more getting sick of social media?
Who knows? I think people hate to love it. There’s a fine line between a harmless bit of scrolling and getting completely Zuckerberged, so we’re just here to voice our opinion on it. Hopefully society does become less reliant on it though…
What’s next for the band?
We have plenty of songs ready to record so the plan is to get into the studio. Our next gig is at The Castle supporting Acid Child on Wednesday November 24th.
What we've been listening to...stores, Keg, Yard Act, Egyptian Blue, Beija Flo, TV Priest, Enola Gay, Pip Blom, Home Counties, Anorak Patch, Melts
By Jon Milton
Last month saw three of 2021’s brightest newcomers Geese, Porchlight and Wet Leg further add to their impressive debuts, and this month sees another do the same, in the shape of stores. ‘blue sunday’ makes the art of well-crafted song writing seem so effortless, seamlessly switching from breezy jazz to noisily insistent garage rock in the blink of an eye. A full EP is on its way next month by all accounts.
Keg also make it into our best newcomers list but are slightly further down the line release-wise on the artists mentioned above having just dropped their debut EP ‘Assembly’ via Alcopop! Records. If you, like I, have had your attention grabbed by their frantic, intricate, and eloquent singles ‘Presidential Walk’ and ‘Heyshaw’ then you’ll be pleased to know that the other three tracks that make up the EP are of equal high quality. Their self-proclaimed building site anthem ‘Breaking Rocks’ fusing early 80’s new wave and more contemporary post-punk, ‘Farmhands" offering up a "lovestory to St James Street [in Brighton] and its many erratic personalities and the eternal clash of oat flat whites and heroin poos". Closing track 'Kilham' further emphasises the bands’ ability to effortlessly shift gears between different musical styles, this time jazz, new-wave, and post rock. As with bands like Squid it feels like Keg have a lot more hiding in their locker, thus making the thought of their debut album a mouth-watering prospect.
Talking of albums, isn’t it about time we got to hear one from Egyptian Blue? After what seems like an eternity the band have given us a glimpse of what could be in store with their new single ‘Salt’ and doesn’t it sound good? I stuck on ‘Collateral’ the other day and was taken by how fresh it sounded, and you get the same feeling with this new track. Salt seems to have a bit more body too it, less trebly and the vocals more controlled. They’ve been in the studio recording with Theo Verney so we wait with baited breath for more.
Yard Act’s album drops in January and they’ve just released the second taster in ‘Land of the Blind’. It feels like a new take on the Special’s ‘Ghost Town’ with its brooding bass line and lyrical disdain for Modern Britain. Where Ghost Town addressed themes of urban decay, deindustrialisation, unemployment and violence in inner cities, Land of the Blind seems to bemoan the lies that our Politician’s tell and the great British public’s unnerving ability to be firstly suckered in and then just go with it. The band’s press release dances around the subject matter presumably due to keeping record label Universal happy, but the Brexit broken promise and pandemic mismanagement narrative seems pretty clear:
‘We all get a commemorative fifty pence piece each for the peace treaties breached, and the palms greased, that are never on the ends of the elbows digging the graves of the recently deceased, Please have a seat, I’m going to show you all a magic trick but its sort of a surprise, so if you just lend me that fifty pence piece in your hand and then close your eyes, I’m going to make me, and this fifty pence piece disappear’.
The spirit of Tom Waits looms over the song too, both in the song title and the Marc Ribot style guitar, and the bababadaba’s also seem to doff their cap to another piece of 80’s social commentary, the Jam’s ‘Town Called Malice’. Very clever indeed, and another reminder of how the band manage to elevate themselves from their contemporaries.
The latest from Pip Blom and TV Priest see both artists showing their reflective sides, with ‘Different Tune’ a further taster from the formers forthcoming second album and ‘All Thing’ the other side of their singles club ‘Lifesize’ release from Sub Pop. ‘All Thing’ combines a brooding bassline, terrace style percussion, guitar stabs and gently sung vocals beautifully to create a hypnotic piece that will have you wistfully staring into space in deep contemplation, showing a side to the band that isn’t afraid to explore new avenues. ‘Different tune’ is less immediate but nevertheless enjoyable.
If its noise and aggression you’re after, look no further than Belfast’s Enola Gay. Sitting somewhere between Girl Band and the Murder Capital, debut EP ‘Gransha’ boasts four scorching tracks that really knock you off your feet. ‘Sofa Surfing’, the majestic ‘Scrappers’ and ‘…Through Men’s Eyes’ are brutally uncompromising in the same way that Idles are and Salt is the kind of track that could go toe to toe with any of Red Hot Chilli Peppers back catalogue and leave the Americans in pain on the floor. That subverted Thatcher speech at the start of it is a bit of a chilling reminder of another type of onslaught though. The band tour extensively across the UK in March and April and should be well worth catching.
Elsewhere on the new release front are tracks from Beija Flo and Home Counties which we featured here and here earlier this week, and a couple of cracking new tracks from Melts and Anorak Patch. ‘Maelstrorm’ by the former is reminiscent of David Holmes’s ‘I Heard Wonders’ but heavier on the krautrock (always a good thing that), and ‘Delilah’ by the latter is another quality tune from the band.
When we met with Home Counties last year to talk about their debut 'Redevelopment' EP, lead singer/guitarist Will Harrison commented that their next EP would be more defining of the band, with his bandmate Barn suggesting that it would 'more Talking Heads and less Parquet Courts'. The bands standalone singles 'Modern Yuppies' and 'White Shirt/Clean Shirt' released earlier this year gave a glimpse of this new direction, and now new single 'The Home Counties', the first track out from their new 'In a Middle English Town' EP further signals the bands line of travel.
Wry, playful lyrics and a bouncy tune combine to make The Home Counties a bit of an ear worm and one that does indeed move them away from that purely guitar-led sound that dominated the Redevelopment EP, with wonky synth lines a-plenty working very nicely with those trademark intricate guitar riffs. All very good indeed.
Speaking about the song, Will says:
The song ‘The Home Counties’ is set in a small town somewhere in the South of England and centres around a generic married couple and their daily existence. It is about mundanity, claustrophobia and suspicion of everything outside of the semi-detached. The characters are placeless and nondescript, emblematic of the uniformity of middle-class people across the commuter belt."
The band were apparently quite nervous when unleashing this new direction at their sold out headline show at the 100 club earlier this year but the new tracks all worked very well and whet our appetites for the new EP, which has its full release on Alcopop Records in February next year.
Accompanying the EP will be a Headline Tour taking in Oxford, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Southampton, Brighton and finally London, and if you're planning on heading out to see BDRMM over the next couple of weeks, they'll be gracing your presence as support.
Anyone who has ever been to Harlow will probably agree that the place needs a bit of love and attention. It’s the epitome of the planners dream goes wrong. There are roundabouts, crumbling buildings and a smattering of retail parks, and not a lot else apart from of course the often forgotten human beings.
One of those human beings, Beija Flo has written her latest single about her hometown Harlow, which was up until a couple of years ago the most murderous town in England and Wales. ‘Heads or Tails’ is just over a minute and a half of punchy, acerbic pop punk, starting and end with ‘this is destroying us inside’, and the first of a special trio of songs recorded at SPQR’s Yellowbird Studio and produced by Sam Baker.
Beija says of the single:
I wrote Heads or Tails in my hometown, Harlow in Essex. Until a couple of years ago we were the most murderous town in England and Wales. Over the years I’ve watched the beautiful sculpture town, my Grandad helped build, continuously vote Conservative - who constantly make empty promises and cut funding. There’s a block of old offices on top of a car park in the centre of town where vulnerable people have been forced to move into, due to lack of affordable housing in and around London.
They’re not converted offices, just offices with beds in. Small, cramped. One room for a whole family. They call it the human warehouse. There’s nothing for the locals. No nightclub. Barely any restaurants. There’s nothing for young people. There’s nothing there at all. Just this grey, dull, sadness.
Up and down the country, there’s Harlow’s all over. It’s broken Britain. It makes me want to scream. ‘Heads Or Tails’ is the rusty ferris wheel that just keeps turning, going absolutely nowhere. The loud neighbours next door with the dog constantly in the garden. Hooded boy, in and out of the front door. Endless. Horrific. Sad. Intoxicated. Hilarious. Hopeful. Hopeless. Unflattering desperation. Omnipresent insanity. You hate it. You want to hug it. You can’t describe it. You can’t taste it.
Given her hardy roots, Beija was perhaps a natural choice for America’s favourite serial killer Dexter (Michael C Hall) and his band, Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum on their first UK tour. Beija will be opening for them across the UK in November and December.
All of Beija Flo’s music, along with a selection of poetry, merch and artwork, is available on her Bandcamp, with all the proceeds funding these current releases: https://iambeijaflo.bandcamp.com/
Sat 23rd - w/ GENN, FUTURE YARD, Birkenhead - TICKETS (band)
Tue 26th - w/ Fuzzy Logic , Folklore, London - TICKETS (band)
Sat 6th - The Secret Circus, Liverpool - TICKETS (co-host)
Sun 14th - Homotopia Closing Party, Lovelocks, Liverpool (piano)
Wed 24th - w/ Seatbelts, Headrow House, Leeds - TICKETS (band)
Sat 27th - w/ Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum, Thekla Bristol - TICKETS (solo)
Sun 28th - w/ Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham - TICKETS (solo)
Mon 29th - w/ Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum, Night & Day, Manchester - TICKETS (solo)
Tue 30th - w/ Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum, Bush Hall, London - TICKETS (solo)
Thu 2nd - w/ Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum, Esquires, Bedford - TICKETS (solo)
Fri 3rd - w/ Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum, The Castle & Falcon, B’ham - TICKETS (solo)
Thu 9th - w/ Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum, 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool - TICKETS (solo)
By Jon Milton
It’s been an interesting experience, attending all these rescheduled gigs. Normally you buy your tickets because a band has had fresh material out, are promoting it and you want to go and see them play it. Rescheduled gigs, however, take you back in time to see bands playing songs that you may have moved on from and potentially outgrown. For the bands themselves, it must be equally odd and frustrating, like having to play out contractual responsibilities and music that they may have outgrown too.
Avalanche Party were originally due to play this gig at the Horn in St Albans in February of this year, a year or so on from the release of their debut album. With the album now 18 months old and no fresh music out in-between I must admit they’d pretty much flown off my radar, so I decided to revisit ‘24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ to motivate myself to get down to the night. A single play convinced me to go, as I was reminded how much of a fantastic body of work the album is.
My second time going to the Horn reminded me of the first. Outside of the headliner, three local bands were scheduled in to play, and it looked like each of them had brought their own entourage. Its great that the venue promotes local music, but also intensely irritating that their entourages seem to disperse after seeing each band, so that by the time that the headliner appears the venue is half full. Personally, I’d prefer to see a single support act on and the headliner on earlier, but hey, what do I know?
Those the stuck around were rewarded by a magnificent performance. I’d heard people say that Avalanche Party were good live, but this really blew my socks off. Within seconds of their opener ‘I’m So Wet’ you could tell you were watching a band that is a notch above. And Jordan Bell…what a frontman. For me, the way that a frontperson engages the audience can really make the difference between good and amazing, and Bell certainly steers Avalanche Party into the latter. Direct eye contact from the off. Hanging off the stage, virtually in the audience throughout. At times part of the audience, moving among us or writhing around on the floor. Brilliant.
As visually compelling a performer as Bell is, naturally he needs a solid band behind him, and he certainly has that with bells on. Avalanche Party played their way through a fierce set, including 7, Bugzy, HaHa, Porcelain and Solid Gold with Bell’s exertions wholly complemented by his band-mates energetic performance.
A phenomenal tour de force.
This gig marked the start of their tour, and if you’re toying with the idea of going to see them at any of their other dates, just get yourself down, you will not be disappointed.
Remaining Tour Dates:
October 16: Liverpool Heebie Jeebies & EBGBS
October 17: York The Crescent Community Venue
October 20: Edinburgh Sneaky Pete's
October 21: Huddersfield, The Parish
November 1: Newcastle upon Tyne, The Cluny & The Cluny 2
November 2: Glasgow, Broadcast
November 3: Manchester, YES
November 4: Cambridge, The Portland Arms
November 6: Nottingham, The Angel Microbrewery
November 7: Bristol, The Louisiana
November 8: London, Our Black Heart
November 9: Stoke-on-Trent, Sugarmill
November 10: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club