By Jon Milton
Links to music etc in blue
Mention Norfolk to anyone and you’d expect them to talk about the broads, Bernard Matthews, Colmans Mustard and Delia Smith. You wouldn’t however expect anyone to associate much in the way of music with the county, and there’s a good reason why. A look at the top music acts to have come from Norfolk include Cathy Dennis, the Farmers Boys and Gene Vincent. There is however an emerging scene, with bands like Wreck who we profiled at the start of April here and Sleemo, who release their second EP ‘Mutation Of’ today.
Sleemo (which means ‘Jerk’ on Tatooine apparently) describe themselves as ‘an independent alternative/post hardcore band’, influenced by the likes of Thee Oh Sees, Shellac, Primus, Swans and Black Flag.
The band were formed mid 2019 from the ashes of other local bands such as New Scientists, We'll Be Detectives and Marigolds and after a recent line-up change are now comprised of Billy on lead vocals and guitar, Jack on bass and backing vocals and Jacob on drums.
‘Mutation Of’ rocks hard. Stand out track I'm Not Superman ‘I’m not Superman’ kicks off the EP, a real assault on the senses noisily demanding your attention. Pipe Bomb and The Late Sun continue the riff heavy alt rock before the breathless Bugs is unleashed and then the more reflective So Much a Man closes proceedings. The EP is a much darker offering than their previous output, which they attribute ‘to a more introspective approach to lyrics and the larger influence of heavier bands on the recording’.
Links to each of the songs are posted above, but I’d recommend you stick the whole EP on from start to finish if you like what you hear, as each track neatly segues into the next.
Band Info: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Spotify - Website
By Jon Milton
As I was coming into my teens, my brother introduced me to the Cult and its previous incarnations, Death Cult and Southern Death Cult. Their introduction set me on a path of appreciation of other post punk artists, including those that bordered the goth genre, such as Bauhaus and Skeletal Family. I loved the anger, the energy, the tribal drumming, but outside of my immediate social circle the genre was regularly derided and eventually this wore me down, and led me onto other things.
The emergence of the new wave post-punk artists such as the Murder Capital and Egyptian Blue reminds me of that time of discovery and now there’s no longer the stigma attached, I’ve been happily wallowing in most of what I hear from this genre. I’d not really heard of any bands that reminded me of Bauhaus however until I heard Document’s ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ and none have reminded me of the Southern Death Cult until I heard the debut EP by Autosuggestion. The two bands are of course linked with the latter featuring the baby brother of Alex from Document. You can read our review of Document’s EP and interview with them here.
Autosuggestion’s ‘Live at Dark Daze’ was released on Friday and unsurprisingly given its title features 6 tracks recorded live at the Dark Daze festival (remember festivals?) in November of last year. Its raw. It’s powerful. There’s lots of tribal drumming. There’s also lots of anger and energy and lots to get excited about.
You’d think that given the name Autosuggestion that the band would sound more like Joy Division than Bauhaus, Skeletal Family and the Southern Death Cult/Death Cult/The Cult but its those artists that seem to have inspired the band on this work. In many ways tracks like ‘Please' Plead with me’ and ‘Happens’ remind me of the live tracks on the Southern Death Cult’s first album, which was cobbled together after the band split, although there’s more of a nod to Warsaw on Last Nail and Strain to Anomie. As you’d imagine with it being recorded live and for a band at this stage of their developed it lacks a bit of refinement, but it certainly makes up for that in energy.
At the time of writing I’ve only seen the EP on Bandcamp and you can listen to it for yourself via the link here. According to what I’ve seen on their socials they have some studio output in the works, and with some proper production we could have something decent on the way from this lot. Watch this space.
What We've Been Listening To This Week...Sugarhorse, Scottibrains, Fumar Mata, In Earnest, Public Body, Polevaulter, Kopper
By Jon Milton and Mark Glenister
Links to music and articles in blue
Exciting times for the blog this week, as we’ve had a new writer join our ranks, Mark Glenister. Mark is one of the fine team of individuals that manage a Facebook page dedicated to Crows and he manages the blog associated with the group, which you can read here. Mark contributed his first article to the blog on Friday, about the debut single from In Earnest, a personal and honest account about dealing with depression, something that Mark himself has battled with. You can read his piece here.
Another band releasing their debut single this week was Fumar Mata with El Kapp. El Kapp is a feisty garage rock tune with a respectful nod to Oh Sees, both in terms of guitar and vocals. We came across it via a social media post by label mates Eyesore and the Jinx and were glad that we did as it’s an excellent tune.
Public Body released a fine new single Naughty On My Bike as a follow up to the brilliant ‘Presenteeism’. Naughty on my Bike has an angular post punk Gang of Four like take to it, slightly similar to fellow Brightonian’s Egyptian Blue, although it must be said both bands have their own unique sound.
A few months ago we came across Leeds band Polevaulter (there’s some talent coming out of that city isn’t there?) and were blown away by their brutal noise music, so were delighted to see them releasing a new single this week. Ra doesn’t disappoint either, another powerful beast that pummels your senses, in a good way of course. If you’ve not heard of the band before and you like the sound of Ra I’d recommend you check out the rest of their portfolio as its all very good. Kopper have also released some highly enjoyable noise this week with two new singles out, Fake It and How Can You Be Sure. Not as brutal as Polevaulter mind, but also punchy and drenched in feedback.
Following on from last years acclaimed single ‘GakEater’ and EP ‘Druj’, Bristol based Sugar Horse release their new EP ‘Drugs’, which like its predecessors is a pure slice of immense, loud, ethereal rock. The 5 tracks on this EP showcase the band at their best, and hi-light their many influences that formed this record, think Mogwai, Deftones, Oceansize for starters. They have the ability to bludgeon you with layers of guitars and drums on tracks such as Drugs & Richard Branson in the Sky With Diamonds, then gently soothe you with the ethereal beauty of When September Rain, as well as mixing both with for me the standout track Pity Party. The EP ends as it starts with Dogegg assaulting your senses one last time. Listen to this loud so you neighbours still know you are alive!
Finally, we celebrated a new single from Scottibrains this week. It looks like this is the third single they’ve released in about 8 years and follows on from 2018’s Sustained Threat. Aristorats is a bit of an epic, 6 minutes long, instrumental, with various twists and turns and a very enjoyable listen. Not quite sure if it’s on the prolific Speedy Wunderground label like its predecessor (youtube says yes, Spotify says not but anyway there’s a connection to that label somewhere, which is normally a good indicator of the quality on offer.
By Mark Glenister
Mental Health is now something that is talked about openly, the phrase ‘Its ok to not be ok’ is used across social media, as well as hashtags dedicated to Mental Health and Mental Health awareness. Newspapers, TV and the internet are full of stories about people’s battles with this illness, and I personally think this is great. This is something that needs to be discussed and not hidden in the shadows, its sufferers are people to be listened to, not ignored or lambasted for having a ‘bad day’, because a bad day doesn’t cover what people with this illness go through on an a minute by minute basis, day in day out!
This hasn’t always been the case, and its only the past few years that the above has become the normal, before then, it was something that you didn’t talk about, if you suffered, then you suffered in silence. If you didn’t suffer, then people with mental illness were a sign of ridicule, or people to be avoided at all costs. Thankfully those dark days seem to be behind us and having suffered myself with mental illness for most of my adult life, I am glad we can finally be open and battle this together. You can read about my own experience here.
In recent years we have seen a new wave of bands and artists coming through, that are open about mental health, both in their interviews and in the music that they write. Artists like Frank Carter, IDLES, Loyle Carner, LIFE, JOHN and many others, have all talked and sung about depression, anxiety and all forms of Mental Illness.
The latest band to cover this subject are ‘In Earnest’ an alt/indie trio from Southend-on-Sea, formed in 2019 and whose debut single ‘Put Me Under’ released this week, is a very personal and honest account of dealing with depression and how be alone can make you feel – both subjects that given the current Corona Virus, a lot of people are perhaps experiencing for the very first time.
The song is a starting point to open up a discussion about mental illness, and I feel the lyrics will be understood by those suffering, but also maybe an invitation to those who are fortunate not to suffer to perhaps understand this illness a bit better.
The lyrics really struck a chord with me, the opening line speaks of ‘Now and then I have a stock take of my mind’ which is something I do on a regular basis, clearing out the negative thoughts and the worries that I cannot control. I learnt a phrase last week that sums this up ‘Push the Delete button, and log out all the fear’, its something that as sufferers we have to try and do to exist on a daily basis.
The following line ‘I’ll never be lonely with a dog beside’ can be viewed in a few ways, when I first read it, it spoke of the Black Dog that depression suffers call their illness, it’s a companion by your side, never far away, like a loyal pet. However, it can also be viewed as having a pet, whether it be a dog, cat or rabbit (other pets are available), a creature that keeps you company, makes you feel less alone. I know from experience, having 2 cats, that I’ve had a many a conversation with them when I am alone, they don’t answer back (I would be concerned of my well-being if they did) but it just feels good to say these feelings out loud and not get judged. Reading through their press release, I feel line relates to a real dog, that is the source of companionship that a lot people need.
The beauty of this song lies in the fact that if you are suffering from a mental illness, you will hear the words and they will perhaps resonate with you and your experiences. But, if you do not suffer, you can hear this song and it may go some way to explain what people go through if they have depression, anxiety or are feeling lonely.
All these lyrics are written from the perspective of lead singer Sarah, who voice has a fragile beauty to it initially, but her strength of character grows as does the song. The lyrics are supported by the other band members Thomas and Toby, the use of acoustic and electric guitar in tandem brings an ethereal feel as the song builds to its crescendo and the haunting last words. It will be interesting to see how their other songs fit in with this track, but as a starting point it will hopefully make people talk and take notice.
Its important to talk about mental health, and a medium like music is an ideal platform to be open and honest, I hope all the bands that are openly discussing this including ‘In Earnest’ continue to make their voices heard, it’s the best way we can fight this illness.
‘Put Me Under’ is the first single from their upcoming EP and is self-released on the Neat Siren Label.
The song will be available on Spotify from Friday 17th April at
In Earnest Social Media:
Instagram: @inearnestband Website: www.inearnest.co.uk
What We've Been Listening To This Week - Do Nothing, Egyptian Blue, Laundromat, Mush, The Howlers, Yard Act, Les Bods, The Camel Show, Sourdough, TV People
Links to music/features in blue
Its been a bit of a bumper week for new music this week – three fantastic EP’s, a cracking debut single and a clutch of other tasty tunes.
Pick of the bunch for us is the long-awaited debut EP from Do Nothing. They first came to our attention last year when they released the magnificent ‘Gangs’, which alongside their previous singles Waitress and Handshakes gave a glimpse of the level of talent emerging. The Zero Dollar Bill EP features three new tracks alongside the previously released LeBron James and Fits. The furious assault of Comedy Gold opening proceedings before the more measured and considered New Life kicks in, followed by Contraband, taking the tempo up again and then the two singles draw things to a close.
Throughout the EP, muscular bass and drums propel each of the songs along with neat, intricate guitar interplay and Chris Bailey’s Lenny Bruce distinctive spoken/sung vocals. The quality of song-writing on this EP is remarkable, each song unique and an absolute gem. The only disappointment here its not an album, but no doubt it will only be a matter of time before that happens.
Brighton based Laundromat also released their debut EP ‘Blue’ this week, with three cracking tunes, ‘Off’, ‘Humans’ and ‘Slow Clap’. You can read all about the EP in our interview with main man Toby Hayes here.
Egyptian Blue’s second EP landed on Friday out on Yala Records. ‘Body of Itch’ has just the three tracks, Nylon Wire, Four is the Last Four and Never, all of which are excellent. As with last year’s Collateral Damage EP, Body of Itch has that jagged Gang of Four post punk feel about it, although the quality of their writing is clearly evolving nicely. Having toured with the Murder Capital earlier this year the band are fast establishing themselves as a band to watch, and hope fully we’ll hear more from them later this year.
Also, from Brighton are Les Bods who’ve just released their debut single People. People is a top tune, a dash of Krautrock, a bit of garage rock and even a dab of glam rock on the chorus. They also have some very cool t-shirts on their Bandcamp page.
Having only released their debut album in February you’d think it might be a while before we heard from Mush again, but they’ve just released a new track Fear Index, taken from their forthcoming EP to support Record Store Day ‘Great Artisanal Formats’. The EP features 5 tracks, none of which feature on the album and it should be well worth listening out for, from the evidence of Fear Index.
Remember when we could go to gigs? The last one I went to was to see the Howlers in February, and in a world without Covid19 I would be seeing them at the Sebright Arms later this month. Unfortunately, Covid19 is a reality and they’ve had to push that gig back to October, albeit at the slightly larger Lexington. This week though they released their third single Badlands which if you’ve been to see them play will recognise as the song that opens their set. We talked about Covid19 with Adam from the band this week, and discovered lots about how things work in the music industry (including some stuff that we couldn’t publish) which you can read about here.
Another gig fondly remembered was seeing Treeboy and Arc last year at the Shacklewell Arms. Some of them have formed another band ‘Yard Act’ who released their debut single The Trapper's Pelts this week and it’s rather good. ‘What a day to be alive, the state of everything’ it begins, and then continues to sneer, Mark E Smith-like brutally and unrelenting. Love it.
Other tracks that grabbed our attention this week were Time Eats Up, the new single by Dubliners TV People, Fall by the Welshmen The Camel Show and Expected by Luton’s Sourdough. ‘Time Eats Up’ was written at the tail end of a 6-month spell of unemployment within the band and looks to capture how time can become a sinister and oppressive force, somewhat apt for the current situation across the world. Fall blends the seventies and the nineties in a kind of Lemonheads way, and talks about the need to be original in a very ‘wannabe’ world. Sourdough list their influences as Pixies, Sonic Youth, The Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen and on the evidence of ‘Expected’ I’d also add the Cure in their early days into that max.