‘E.X.O. Incorporated 2068. A hole opened in the sky. A perforation in the atmosphere too great to reverse. Crops were scorched as daylight became deadly. Humanity fled in all directions, hysterical and in search of refuge. No one was safe’.
When we wrote about Evacuation Day, the lead single from the Eskimo Chain’s second album in December, the idea of a hole opening in the sky seemed like something that might well be laying in store for the world in 2068, given the state of the environment and the ongoing effects of globalization. If the idea was to write about a global pandemic, forcing the government to dispense with civil liberties and order a lockdown, you’d think that could also be something that might happen in the future, but here we are just four months later and that situation is very much real, so who knows what’s imminently around the corner?
The current global crisis has demonstrated just how easy it is for our lives to be turned upside down by something that we cannot control, and why we should treat matters such as climate change much more seriously. The Eskimo Chain wrote ‘E.X.O. Incorporated – An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ as a soundtrack to an imaginary sci-fi film as it gave them a focus and momentum for their song-writing, but its storyline seems eerily apt given the state of the world in 2020.
Each song on the album tells part of the story. ‘Opening Title’, one of a few short instrumental pieces, subtitled ‘A Hole Open’s in the Sky’ provides a stark beginning for the imaginary movie and its inciting incident. Evacuation Day (Money Exchanged for Off-World Safety) and The Day Is Out For Blood (Rush to the Boarding Stations) chronicle where everything changes with the exodus from Earth (for those that can afford to do so). Both tracks are filled with uncertainty and scamper along with nervous energy.
Sunrise (The Dawn Warning Sounds) is another short interlude, with its protagonists arriving at their destination with a sense of calm in ‘A Glimpse of Orbit’ (Arrival at Boarding Station VIII) and then seeing their first day end in ‘Sunset (The Warning Ends)’.
Medivision (A message from our sponsors), Machinations (The end of the world), Passenger 431 – B (Boarding Procedure) and Verbulance TM (Sedation) set the scene for the new reality before Baedeker Stream (Suspicions of Foul Play) signals that all may not be as it seems in the new world. The music naturally reflects the events, first striding (Medivision) and then shuffling (Machinations) before becoming reflective (Passenger 431 – B) and disorientated (VerbulanceTM).
Baedeker Stream kicks off tension before the alarm sounds on Open Carbon Preset (the Hatches Open) plunges the mood into turmoil. Celestial Bodies (Passengers Ejected into Space) provides a fateful climax before the album concludes with its denouement, the sedate At the Centre of Everything (Final Glance at the Stars).
Creating a soundtrack to an imaginary film does require the listener to take the album in its entirety, and to understand and appreciate the story being told, with all its twists turns. What it’s crying out for obviously is a visual depiction of events, although that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the music. If you’ve heard ‘Abnormal Dreams’, Eskimo Chain’s excellent debut album, you’ll be aware of the bands trademark psychedelic sound, which is developed further here taking in more electronic music influences such as Suuns and Boards of Canada.
EXO Incorporated is an ambitious, inventive album with depth to its story. It is also hugely thought provoking, and a poignant reminder of what could be, if mankind continues to pursue profit and act without respect for its environment.
E.X.O. Incorporated - An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ is out now. You can listen here.
Links to blogs and music in blue
Well that was a mad week wasn’t it? £30bn bail out package, everyone who can home working, more panic buying, bars, restaurants, pubs and schools shutting – you couldn’t make it up could you? Nishant Joshi of the Palpitations made his way into the Guardian too, outlining the extent of the crisis from a NHS perspective. We still have our music though.
Our week began listening to an interview with Human Pet on Boogaloo Radio for Hard of Hearing Music, where we heard Suuns for the first time with a track called translate. Turns out that Human Pet are friends with the excellent the Eskimo Chain, whose lead singer draws inspiration from Suuns own vocalist. Anyway, hearing Translate was enough to for us to dig deeper into Sunns back catalogue which is all rather splendid, apart from one track from their latest album where the vocals do that horrible Cher/Daft Punk thing. Its not new music, but it is good music.
The big new release this week was the debut EP from Document ‘A Camera Wanders All Night. The band impressed us with their debut Pity and its follow up The Spy Who Came in From The Cold (both of which feature on the EP) and the other three tracks here are also excellent. There are shades of original post punk bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, Bauhaus and Joy Division as well as newer influences such as Protomartyr, and the band are definitely one to look out for in the future. You can read more about the EP and there’s an interview with the band here.
On the new singles front, Modern Nature have followed up their beautiful debut album ‘How to Live’ with a new song ‘Flourish’ taken from their forthcoming album ‘Annual’ out in June. Flourish is languid, laid back and jazzy and like the album, effortlessly cool.
Finally, promising Portsmouth band Sidetracked have just released their debut single called City. City sounds like a cross between Suedehead by Morrisey, Radio Free Europe by REM and something by the Coral. Its upbeat indie pop, and we all need something to raise our spirits at the moment given this bloody virus!
Some bands just make you sit back and go ‘wow’ when you hear their music for the first time. Document made their way into that category for us when they released their first single Pity in early February, and managed to firmly establish themselves as a band to watch when they released their second single The Spy Who Came In From The Cold four weeks later.
Both tracks feature on their newly released, full debut EP. ‘A Camera Wanders All Night’ is a stunning piece of work, and a firm statement of intent from a band that seem destined to assert themselves as a leading light in the flourishing post punk scene.
‘A Camera Wanders All Night’ sounds like a record that’s been a long time in the making, a culmination of ideas that have been tried, tested, and fine-tuned before being launched on the world. This is the sound of a confident and experienced band, who know how to write quality music. It’s incredible to think that this is their debut, so free is it from rough edges. Each one of these five tracks could hold it’s own on an album, of which the prospect for this band seems mouth-watering.
Document spent the best part of 2019 gigging within the Manchester venue circuit, supporting the likes of Phobophobes, Polevaulter, TVAM and Sweaty Palms, as well as performing at club nights curated by The Blinders and London’s Never Heard Of Ya. We caught up with the band to discuss the EP, their influences, COVID19 and the future.
A Camera Wanders All Night feels like a record that’s been a long time in the making. How long have you been brewing the songs for?
The songs on the EP are tracks which we wrote when we first started the band. Most of them had been written by Charlie and Alex prior to the band even beginning, so when we got in a room together as the 5 of us it was a matter of fleshing the songs out and making them work as live compositions. Pity was conceived by us all hitting our instruments for about two and a half minutes and calling it a song, but we think that worked out pretty well haha! All in all, we’ve had these songs since our first gig, so by the release it’ll almost be a year to the day.
What inspired the title of the EP?
The EP title came from Sam Kennedy, the artist who has made the amazing covers for our singles and EP. ‘A Camera Wanders All Night’ was just a phrase which was added by Ken to artwork and we thought it was a perfect name for the record. We thought it was fitting due to the themes of paranoia and surveillance found in the lyrics throughout the EP.
Can you take us through the narrative in each song?
There are themes that ring true with every song I believe. The main focus for the themes were of paranoia, desolation and our monotonous existence. 'The Spy Who Came in From The Cold' talks of isolation and delusion from Leamas, whilst 'The World Until Yesterday' fears for the future of our youth and this planet. 'Pity' is a paranoid persuasion of anxiety and the fearful world we live in. 'Uncle Sam's Daughter' is the profound expression of romance to a stranger and the prospect of the American Dream. 'American Heat' shows the process of an evil character taking charge to bring forward the second great depression. Sound familiar?
The EP sounds quite diverse in some respects and yet cohesive. When you write, are you conscious of the need to apply different approaches to your songs?
As mentioned before, the tracks on the EP were written prior to Document forming and this meant thematically they weren’t the most cohesive set of songs. There are so many different influences going into these songs but once we began playing through them as a band we soon realised that they would work well together seeing as it was the 5 of us playing together and creating these sounds. It’s the musicians that make the tracks cohesive in a sense.
The Guitar on ‘The Spy..’ reminds me of Bauhaus around the time of In the Flat Field – are they an influence?
It means a lot to hear people comparing us to a band like Bauhaus as they are such a big influence for us. When we started the band they were one of our biggest reference points in terms of songwriting, especially for Charlie, our lead guitarist. Seeing as ‘Spy’ is one of the oldest songs now, it makes sense that you can hear echoes of ‘In the Flat Field’ throughout the tune.
What bands from the original post punk era influence you?
The Birthday Party, The Fall, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Wire, The Smiths, Talking Heads, Josef K, The Gun Club.
You’ve all been in and around the music scene for a while – can you provide some detail on this (experience, current activities)?
Alex, our Frontman/Lyricist, also fronts the brilliant Leeds punk outfit ‘Lumer’ in which he has played all over Europe and toured with great bands such as ‘Crows’ and ‘Yowl’.
Charlie, our Lead Guitarist, plays lead for Manchester artist ‘Phoebe Green’. I’ve been luckily enough to tour the country several times with Phoebe and have had some amazing opportunities which I never thought I’d be able to achieve. Personal highlight is playing the Manchester Arena.
Max, our Bassist, is the touring guitar tech/keys player for Manchester band ‘The Blinders’. He has been a part of their crew since the start of their career and has toured Europe several times with the guys.
Currently we’re all hiding in a decommissioned nuclear bunker about 20 miles outside of Barstow, waiting for the virus to bring about the end of the world.
How easy is it to balance being in different bands, logistically and creatively?
Logistically it’s quite a struggle at times but with a good schedule anything can be achieved! Creatively it can be quite a blessing in honesty. We all bring different influences from our other projects and apply them to our songwriting process within Document which in turn means we come up with some quite interesting sounds and ideas.
COVID19 is proving to be a nightmare for the live music world – how has it impacted you?
The effect the virus has had both on us and the industry in general is really heartbreaking. We’ve had to postpone our headline gig on 27th March which is so frustrating as we’ve been working so hard to make this one really special. Most other gigs we’ve got booked in have either been cancelled or postponed too which is even more upsetting, however everyone is in the same boat so we’ve just got to be patient and remain vigilant in these uncertain times.
When’s the album out?
No plans as of yet unfortunately but we’ve been writing a lot of new material which will hopefully make up our second EP or just be released as a few singles!
A Camera Wanders All Night is available now to buy or or you can stream here. If you like what you hear, give the band a follow and increase their visibility through the following:
What We've Been Listening To This Week...Feral Family, Life, Protomartyr, The Black Lagoons, Dense, Pottery, Eyesore and the Jinx
Links to music in blue
Sheafs topped our list of the new releases last week and we started the week celebrating another band from the Steel City, Feral Family. The band have just released a new single Better Days and from our perspective its their best yet. Produced by the magic (garden) fingers of Gavin Monaghan (the Blinders, the Twang, the Lizards etc), Better Days follows on from 2019’s ‘The North’ and ‘Crying on the Inside’. Its breathless, powerful indie music at its best.
It’s been less than 6 months since Life released the excellent ‘Picture of Good Health’ but they returned this week with a new single Switching On and it’s a welcome return. Switching On has a bit of a dub feel to it, building into a mighty crescendo of squalling guitar. The band are (Covid19 permitting) touring next month, and we look forward to seeing them play at the new London venue Lafayette.
A month or so later and US band Pottery hit our shores, and they’ve just released another single from it Take Your Time. Like its predecessor ‘Texas Drums’ its pretty frantic but also darn good. They seem to have bulked out their sound as well which makes their forthcoming album an intriguing prospect. Fellow Americans No Age also impressed us this week, with their new single ‘Turned to String’. The single is the first to be taken from their forthcoming album ‘Goons be Gone’ which launches on June 5th. The band remind us of a cross between the Ramones and the Lemonheads, quite slacker rock, which is obviously no bad thing.
Touring across the UK last week were Prettiest Eyes, label mates of the Oh Sees. They were supported at their gig in Leeds by local psych garage band Dense who we thought we’d check out. Their latest single Fever Dream came out in December and it’s a fine tune – noisy vocals, noisy guitar, chunky bass line. Fever Dream is the bands second single, and their debut Displaced Face is also worth checking out.
Another band from Leeds and also of a psych garage persuasion are the Black Lagoons, who’ve just released a new single Best Western. It’s a moody little number which funnily enough sounds like it could be taken from a spaghetti western, and it follows on from The Heat which the band released in January. Their first EP ‘Illusions, Incoherence and Fever’ came out in 2018 which sits more squarely in Cramps/swamp rock territory. It’s quite an interesting experience listening to that EP alongside ‘Best Western’ and ‘The Heat’, the band have definitely got something about them, and they remind me a bit of Avalanche Party.
Further down the M62 in Liverpool, Eyesore and the Jinx have just released a new single ‘Nightlife’. Nightlife is jagged, quirky post punk which we discovered on the latest Restless Bear Spotify playlist. Its good, go listen.
Concluding our round up for this week is the new single from Protomartyr, Processed by the Boys. I’m just in the process of getting acquainted with the band who release their fifth album in June, but they seem to be hugely influential amongst the current crop of post punk bands such as Egyptian Blue and the Palpitations. Processed by the Boys has a jutting guitar line, vocals like Nick Cave and even a bit of saxophone in subtle interplay. This is quality stuff.
Our fiver playlist, featuring five of the tunes from above is available to follow and listen to here
BY THE WAY – if you’ve not already signed the petition for government support of independent music venues, please do so here
What We've Been Listening to this Week...SHEAFS, Viagra Boys, Sorry, Do Nothing, Holy F and Laundromat
Links to YouTube in blue.
There may be panic on the streets of London, Birmingham and the rest of the UK over Coronavirus, but that’s not stopped the flow of good tunes from flooding through.
Pick of the week for us is the debut vinyl EP by Sheafs ‘Vox Pop’ which came out on Friday. Two of the tracks Care Less and Total Vanity have been out for a while, and have rightfully been drawing attention to themselves, such is their quality. The full EP has another three tracks Thinking Out Loud WIFA and Shopping, with the former another belting indie rock tune. WIFA and Shopping are more of the pace of last year’s snarling ‘Popular Music’ – WIFA having an almost Loop like riff and Shopping more in the vein of Black Rebel Motorcycle club.
Lyrically the EP lambasts rampant consumerism and self-obsession, highlighting the growing concerns of a generation dominated by having to fit in under the glare of social media. Musically its powerful stuff, fiery vocals over muscular tunes, more than adequately reflecting their excellent live performances.
Also released on Friday was the new EP by the Viagra Boys. Lead track Common Sense is reminiscent of ‘Just Like You’, all introspective and wistful, Lick the Bag the sort of deranged rock that makes the band so special, with Sentinel Island and Blue completing the EP. All good stuff, and the band have just announced more UK tour dates for November so presumably there will be more music out later this year.
The new album by Sorry drops on the 28th March and they released another single Snakes as a teaser to it. Snakes feels like of Massive Attack doing slacker rock, ambling along with an icy cool stare, and a further indicator that the album is going to be very good, and with broad appeal.
Another band with undoubtedly broad appeal who should really be making an album are Do Nothing. Instead we’ll have to settle for an EP ‘Zero Dollar Bill’ which is out in April. Fits and presumably LeBron James are two tracks available to listen to now from the EP, with the former just released. Both are excellent, and I’d urge you to listen to their earlier singles too, Gangs, Handshakes and Waitress. Their quality of song-writing is so mature and impressive, long may they make music like this.
Elsewhere, Deleter the new album by Holy F has been getting extensive plays. The band describe themselves as ‘seamlessly fusing the gauzy drive of krautrock and deep house’s dreamy ineffability, and expertly blending purring motorik percussion with the sort of fuggy synthetic fizz that often sends clubbers into states of unconsciousness rapture’ which is hard to argue against. I really like this album – its like the best noises of the house era cleverly packaged to form a set of great tunes that all come together as a whole.
Another new single that deserves mentioning is Humans by Brighton based Laundromat. Human’s originally came out last year, and then disappeared from streaming platforms only to reappear again on Friday. There had been talk of an album, but an EP looks more likely now by all accounts. Anyway, Human’s is quite sublime, blending krautrock and psychedelia effortlessly. A band to watch out for, no doubt.