Sunstack Jones have an excellent new album 'Golden Repair' out in week or so on Mai 68 Records. Ahead of its release, Jon Milton caught up with Chrisy Jones from the band to talk about the music that has influenced him over the years...
How did you first get into music, and what were your early influences?
I was obsessed with all pop music as a kid but everything turned upside down when a girl in my class brought in A Hard Days Night on VHS like ‘here’s the good shit son’. From there it was all Ride/Buffalo Springfield/Stone Roses/ Byrds/Verve/Nirvana/The La’s/Oasis/Burritos....
How did you get into playing and writing music yourself?
I had that Stone Roses gig at Blackpool and used to watch that thinking ‘oh I just need some foot pedals and the guitar will do that’. I didn’t realise at the time it was just badly edited, so when you saw Squire barely moving and there was a sparkling guitar solo going on in the audio, ha! Now I try to make as cooler sound I can by doing the least amount possible - but it helps that I have the two best guitarists in the UK next to me.
What was the first gig you went to?
Madness at Sheffield arena with my cousin Paul. It was amazing.
What was the first record you bought?
A-Ha ‘take on me’. Bought for me- and I still love it.
How have you discovered and explored different genres of music?
Record shops, Bandcamp, blogs (like your own) and recommendations from other bands I’m into, really. If something has an amazing sleeve I’ll listen cos if someone’s gone to the effort of making that cool I hope that what’s inside is cool. Consequently my collection of Lebanese Astro Funk now requires the rental of a small storage shed on a local farm.
Do you go through phases of listening to different music genres, or just dip in and out?
Phases of just listening to one band or person non-stop for weeks on end. I’ll get in a zone where I read, watch and listen to everything to do with one thing: Doors month, Kendrick month, Phoenix month, A Tribe called Quest month, Sabbath month. I was caning ‘stoner doom’ for about 3 months then had to step back - some super weird shit mixed in with the good there. They do have great artwork though and there seems to be a really good community spirit with that lot. And tattoos. Fuck loads of ‘em.
How have different artists/genres of music influenced the way that you play and write your own music?
I suppose what you truly love comes to the surface naturally via osmosis, but we just let it be what it is. We make a beautiful noise and that’s us. Our main thing is to better the last thing we did, not try and be something else. You can spot the fakers mile off (usually headlining innit).
Have you modelled yourself on any of your heroes, in the way you perform live, or play an instrument, or sing?
Is there one song by another artist that you’d wished you’d written, and if so what is it and why?
I think the go-to answer would be to chose one of the biggest songs that everyone in the world knows - cos we’d be rich, but then if we’d written it no one would know it would they?!? So today I’ll say ‘Can’t be sure’ by The Sunday’s. Because it breaks my heart and fills it at the same time, every time. Kinda like Sex Panther’s success rate!
Golden Repair is released on the 9th October, available on digital and vinyl. Pre-order at:
What We've Been Listening To This Week...IDLES, Felix M-B, TV Priest, Sapphire Blues & Premium Leisure
By Jon Milton
This week saw the release of the much anticipated third album by IDLES, Ultra Mono. It’s fair to say that the critics have been divided in their opinions of the album; the Quietus were one of the first to comment, in a review that veered between acerbic wit and outright personal attack, with others such as The Times equally as disparaging, whereas media like the NME and DIY have been largely positive, although you feel they were always going to be, as is their agenda . The bands fans are also polarised, with comments placed on AF Gang (a fan page dedicated to the band on Facebook) split between those that love the album and those that have taken issue with the somewhat simplistic nature of some of the lyrics.
Personally I love the energy and anger that IDLES create, their music captures the mood of this current era. In many places, Ultra Mono hits the mark with this, with songs like Grounds truly inspired, but at points the endless polemic starts to become exhausting. In some ways you can see why opinions diverge: its easy to consider this as a natural continuation from ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ and celebrate the sheer level of in-your-face messaging and music, but equally as easy to view Ultra Mono as the point where the band started to cash in, becoming an exaggerated version of themselves. The intense marketing of the album (an £80 vinyl package???) doesn’t exactly help to dispel the latter view.
At this stage I’d suggest keeping an open mind and avoid looking for flaws in Ultra Mono if you want to get the most out of it. Some of the press criticism of the album feels like its come from individuals who’ve never really got the mass appeal of the band, have never liked them and have been waiting for the opportunity to knock them down and its therefore difficult to take them seriously given the lack of balance. For that reason its pace and power should be celebrated not derided, at least for now.
And now for something completely different. There was I casually browsing my social media feed on Friday night, when I came across a story from Do Nothing, recommending the debut album by some dude called Felix M-B.. Being an inquisitive type I thought I’d give it a listen and I have to say I was blown away. If you’re a fan of late sixties/early seventies Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, or from more recent times Fink and Devendra Banhart you should really give this a listen. Chunk is absolutely wonderful, 10 beautiful, wistful songs to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.
The album begins with Hypochondriac, soft strumming and gentle clarinet accompanied by Felix’s soft, understated vocals rising and falling as the song unfurls. Recent single Chunk is absolutely glorious, with its rippling piano ebbing and flowing and a genius outro reminiscent of early period Tom Waits. As is the case with Waits from those first few albums, you can almost imagine yourself in a bar somewhere listening to Chunk being performed, joining in on the chorus of songs like the Dylan-esque RVW (which was inspired by time spent touring with Lorkin O’Reilly), Spit, and Supermoon, which features backing vocals performed by Felix and his friends on a drunk evening in the studio. Chunk is brilliant from start to finish, an album that will charm you and make you smile one minute then make you well up the next.
Of the singles released this week the highlight was definitely ‘Slideshow’ by TV Priest. Another taster from their ‘Uppers’ album due out in early November, Slideshow is about the internet, algorithms and information by all accounts. As is the case with the band’s previous single This Island, Slideshow is motorik driven with discordant guitar throughout, which on its own sounds fantastic although you do hope that the album carries a bit more variation to prevent it all becoming too one dimensional. We’ll find out of course in a month or so when the album comes out, and there will be another track coming out in the coming weeks too.
Also of note this week were the new singles by Premium Leisure and Sapphire Blues. Premium Leisure is a solo project by Chris Barker, who plays guitar for Willie J Healey and this single Remedies has a bit of a Performance era White Denim vibe about it. You can read more about it here. The Sapphire Blues single ‘Ourselves Forgotten’ is also very good, post punk with a twist, which you can read about here.
By Jon Milton
On the day that Bristol based IDLES grab all the headlines by releasing their much anticipated third album Ultra Mono, spare a thought and three minutes of your time to check out some fresh new blood from the city in the form of Sapphire Blues, who have just released their impressive third single ‘Ourselves Forgotten’.
The band, made up of Sam Lance Jones (vocals, guitar), Harry Beaver (bass) and Chris Thompson (Percussion) released their first single ‘Good Morning Britain’ in 2019 and gigged extensively throughout that year with the likes of Lumer, Talk Show and Deadletter. A second single ‘119’ followed earlier this year before the band signed to Blitzcat Records, with this new single their first for the label.
Ourselves Forgotten is a song about small town boredom, and the desire to get away and lose yourself on the weekend. The song begins and ends at a frenetic pace, with skittering drums, thrashy guitars and angst driven vocals compounding the sense of urgency, but in the middle there’s a clever little twist which adds character to make it stand out from the crowd.
Ourselves Forgotten is comfortably their best song to date and at this rate Sapphire Blue could well be a band to watch out for.
By Jon Milton
OK, I’ll admit it, I’m guilty on occasion of worrying about what I eat, and the amount of exercise I do, isn’t everyone? Remedies, the new single out today by Premium Leisure is a comment on ‘the noise that fogs our perceptions of healthy living’, suggesting that we all take a more considered and laid-back approach ‘ to do what makes you, and people around you, feel good’ which sounds like very sensible advice in these overtly self-conscious times. The song itself has that breezy T-Rex vibe that White Denim explored on their Performance album, which means it’s rather cool, with a low-fi, seventies-glam fuzzy feel about it.
Premium Leisure is the solo project of songwriter/producer and Willie J Healey guitarist, Chris Barker. According to Chris, the song was first conceived as a piano-ballad in his flat, but soon evolved into a more groove-led offering, complete with Drummer Mike Monaghan [Saint Etienne, Gaz Coombes] adding the track’s sharp, clean percussion.
Remedies is out now, and is the first single to be released on new South London Plum Cuts label and the first track to be taken from a 4 track EP that will arrive at the start of 2021. You can check out the video below. Me? I'm off to put me feet up.
What We’ve Been Listening To This Week…SUUNS, Yammerer, Magick Mountain, The Heads, Osees, Roscoe Roscoe, Bobhowla, Tempesst
By Jon Milton
We start this week with fuzz rock, Leeds style and specifically Magick Mountain. Having been dormant for a couple of years since their debut single ‘Zodiac’ came out via Come Play With Me the band have been busy working on their debut album ‘Weird Feelings’ which launches next month. New single ‘The Creeper’’ is the third teaser track from the album and is a mid-paced number with a kind of Hendrix vibe about it. According to the band there are a couple more tracks on the way before the album drops which we’ll definitely be keeping an ear out for.
Staying with fuzz, Ian reviewed the new album by the Heads this week which is a bit of a cracker from a live performance at Thekla in 2001. Its fair to say he’s pretty enamoured with it, and you can read his full review here. Similarly noisy is Protean Threat, the new album by Osees, as they are known by now. After the psychedelic experimentation of Face Stabber, Protean Threat is full of short-ish in your face tracks. It’s a little too early to pass judgement for me as their albums tend to be growers but early impressions are very favourable. The band also have an album of outtakes out next month ‘Metamorphosed’ and have released a track from it this week ‘Electric War’.
Also on the blog this week we featured Boa Constrictor, the excellent new single by Yammerer which you can read about here and ‘Midnight Fears’ from Bobhowla, which you can read about here.
Spotify suggested the debut single by Roscoe Roscoe on Monday ‘Brain Retrieve’ which was a very good shout. Within just under 5 minutes ‘Brain Retrieve’ manages to straddle grunge, psych rock, shoe gaze and prog rock, which should be incentive enough for you to give it a listen. It’s a great tune from a band that we know very little about. Spotify also suggested ‘High on My Own’ from the similarly unfamiliar to us Aussie band Tempesst. Good tune this, and another that reminds us of the Bees with its psychedelic touches and harmonised vocals. They have an album on the way.
Last up this week is ‘Pray’, the new single from SUUNS, taken from their forthcoming EP ‘Fiction’ out next month. I first came across this band earlier this year when one of their tracks was played on a Boogaloo Radio show as part of a selection of songs picked by Human Pet. They in turn had been put onto the band by the Eskimo Chain. Pray is a slow burner that builds nicely, in keeping with a lot of this Canadian bands stuff. The EP is on pre-release here.