By Jon Milton
They’re a clever bunch, are Squid. I’m sitting here listening to ‘Bright Green Field’ and it’s doing my head in trying to figure out what each song reminds me of, but the sheer range of influences covering artists known and unknown makes it a bloody hard job.
There are elements of minimalism, krautrock, dub, electronica, heavy rock, jazz, indie, p-funk, jazz funk and more, so much more. This is no homage to any artist though, with every song retaining a quintessentially Squid-like hard edge - barking vocals, pounding beats, or searing guitar, cutting through the subtleties of the remaining instrumentation.
This album has been a long time coming, from a band that seem destined to make remarkable albums. The band whet our appetites with their ‘Town Centre’ EP, a masterful piece that’s only disappointment was that it wasn’t longer. The band announced signing with Warp Records with their 'Sludge/Broadcaster' single last year, but remained quiet about the album until this March, the announcement coinciding with the release of ‘Narrator’, which was subsequently followed by the ‘Paddling’ and ‘Pamphlets’ singles in April.
Bright Green Field begins with looped noise in the shape of 'Resolution Square' before 'G.S.K.' strides into play, swiftly followed by ‘Narrator’, a song that on initial listen felt like it should close the album, such is its manic crescendo. This is the genius of Squid, a complete disregard for convention that enables them to seamlessly shape-shift their sound at the drop of a hat.
Narrator, as with a few songs on the album is almost two or three songs in one, and you have to marvel at how they’ve managed to converge so many diverse ideas to such good effect. ‘Boy Racers’ continues this trend, a song that begins relatively conventionally before morphing into a Bladerunner-like depiction of engines revving.
'Paddling' picks up the pace, frantic, scampering motorik-driven indie followed by the minimalist-tinged ‘Documentary Filmmaker’. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this might be a chilled part of the album, such is the beginning of ‘2010’, but no, within a minute or so there’s snarling, harsh noise to knock you out of your daze, before the song alters its self once again.
Momentary calm returns again with ‘The Flyover’ before the manic, excellent ‘Peel Street’ hurtles in, followed by the menacing ‘Global Groove’. ‘Pamphlets’ brings us to a close, again transforming itself mid-way through, and fittingly finishing the album at a canter.
As with all great albums, Bright Green Field reveals layer upon layer after repeated listens, and is best consumed uninterrupted, in one sitting. There is so much ebb and flow to it that at times you feel like you could be in the middle of a play, moving from scene to scene, living the moment.
It's a stunning debut album, that feels like the culmination of a lifetimes worth of ideas. In fact, it's a work of art.
What We've Been Listening To...Osees, Night Beats, A Place to Bury Strangers, JW Paris, Laundromat, The Goa Express
By Jon Milton
The sun is shining (where I am at least!) and there’s a lovely bumper crop of new releases out today for you to get your teeth into.
First up is yet another live album from Osees in the form of ‘Levitation Sessions Volume II’. With this collection the band raid their back catalogue with tunes like ‘Stinking Cloud’ and ‘Spider Cider’ from 2011’s Castlemania, ‘Encrypted Bounce’ from Drop and ‘It Killed Mom’ from 2007’s Sucks Blood alongside newer tracks like Snickersee and established favourites like ‘The Dream’, ‘Web’ and ‘Tidal Wave’. Whilst not packing as much punch as the first Levitation Sessions and more recently Live at Henry Miller Big Sur, its still a highly enjoyable listen and there’s also a bunch of Chrome covers thrown in to boot.
On a similar tip is ‘Revolution’ the new single from Night Beats. Revolution is taken from taken from the bands fifth album ‘Outlaw R&B’ which comes out on Fuzz Club out at the start of June, and it has that wonderful garage rock 60’s feel about it, resplendent with squalling guitars throughout.
Back with a new single and new line up are Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers, ‘End of the Night’ is taken from the band’s new EP ‘Hologram’ slated for release in July on Dedstrange. End of Night sounds like a rather pleasurable mash up of Jesus and the Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine.
We’ve had X from Working Men’s Club, and now we’ve got Y?, out today on Heavenly. Its been billed as the B-side to X and it does have the feel of a dub, not that that’s a bad thing of course. Electro beats, looped vocals, a rumbling bassline and synth stabs echo the bands debut album more than the beefed-up new direction that the band seem to be taking on X.
Other singles of note out today are the new singles from JW Paris, The Goa Express and Laundromat’s. JW Paris continue their fine line of indie rock with ‘Sober’, The Goa Express go jangly with ‘Second Time’ and Laundromat slow things down with 'En Bloc', which completes their Red EP.
Following the success of their 2020 EP A Camera Wanders All Night, and after a restless year-long hiatus from the gig circuit thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Manchester's Document are finally embarking on their debut UK tour in August, giving you ample excuse to grab tickets before the main delayed gig schedules start to kick in from September .
This tour will feature both performances of tracks from their critically acclaimed debut EP, plus new material, which they are heading into the studio next month to start recording.
Document will be supported on the tour by some incredible up and coming UK artists, such as Loose Articles, Wych Elm and Autosuggestion.
Dates are as follows:
3rd – Nottingham, The Chameleon
4th – Sheffield, The Washington
5th – Leeds, Wharf Chambers
6th – Manchester, Night & Day Café
7th – Birmingham, Dead Wax
11th – Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete’s
12th – Glasgow, Broadcast
17th – Bristol, The Lanes
18th – London, Windmill Brixton
19th – Brighton, The Hope & Ruin
Catch the lockdown performance of lead single The Spy Who Came In from The Cold, live at Bury Met, below:
What We've Been Listening To...Courting, White Flowers, Les Bods, Team Picture, Traams, Working Men's Club, Anorak Patch, Murmur, Corvus and the Morning Star
By Jon Milton
So the shops are back open on Monday and the prospects of going to a gig, and not just a socially distanced one seem tantalisingly close. I guess the problem now is fitting in all those new bands that have emerged over the last 12 months alongside existing commitments! Take Courting for example, who’ve just released their debut EP, Grand National. The Liverpool lads turned a few heads last year with a string of impressive singles and have now cemented their promise with these four tracks. Lead track Grand National is absolutely storming, Popshop! is super slick and shiny and the two remaining tracks ‘Crass’ and ‘Slow Burner’ reveal a darker side of the band, cleverly juxtaposed. The band have announced a UK wide tour for September, which unfortunately for me clashes with my trip to see Yard Act at the Lexington, otherwise I’d be snapping up a ticket in a flash.
Touring more immediately in May and June and presumably socially distanced are dream pop / shoegazers White Flowers, who have a debut album out next month and have just released a new single this week in ‘Help Me Help Myself’. As with the rest of their output its rather sublime, so we expect lots from the album. You can check out their gig dates here.
One band that I’ll be taking time out to see is Les Bods, who released their second single ‘Free Your Mind’ this week. These Brighton based guys draw a lot of inspiration from arguably the best rock and roll that the sixties and seventies had to offer, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zep, Sabbath and so on, with ‘Free Your Mind’ big on riffs and with a heavy nod towards Cream and Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies. More tunes are planned for the rest of the year.
Also out this week is ‘phantom limb’ by Team Picture. They are a band I know very little about, but this is a class tune.
Last week saw the release of the imaginatively titled ‘4 Songs’ by Traams via Bandcamp, a collection of stand-alone tracks recorded over a handful of sessions with Theo Verney. If you haven’t picked up a copy already make sure you do, the EP features our song of the year ‘The Greyhound’, their other single from 2020 ‘IRW’, ‘A House on Fire’ and the unreleased ‘Karma Kat’ which you can’t get anywhere else. In other words, it’s got four fantastic tunes on it and is well worth the investment. Hopefully there may be more to come from them, but they’ve been worryingly silent. At the time of writing there's still some vinyl copies available which you can buy from here.
Other songs of note out last week included the magnificent ‘X’ by Working Men’s Club who are maturing very nicely, the excellent ‘Blue Jeans’ by Anorak Patch who continue to impress, ‘Shipman Blues’ the promising debut single from Corvus & the Morning Star, and 'I'm the Same' the blistering new single from Murmur. You can read our interview with Murmur by the way here.
By Jon Milton
Part of a the seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of talent residing in Brighton right now, Murmur grabbed our attention late last year with their excellent single ‘Shame’, which subsequently found its way in to our 'festive fifty' best of 2020 playlist. The band released their first single ‘Fragile’ in 2017, followed by ‘Cradle’ in 2019, and now come armed with a blistering new single ‘I’m the Same’ to be followed by EP released later this year.
I caught up with George from the band to talk about the band, the new single and their plans for the future…
Tell us about the band - who is in it, how did you come together, what brought you to Brighton?
The three of us grew up in the midlands, Ben and myself met in school, we’ve been in bands together since we were 15 and we later moved to Brighton in 2016 where we met Jack, who later joined the band in 2018. Ben and myself first met jack on a early Murmur recording session and from then on we started hanging out in similar social circles, when the bands line up changed in 2018 we asked him to join forming Murmur, as you know it today. I think one of the main reasons for us moving down was to be part of area that was renowned for it’s music scene. Previously being in bands in the midlands we would usually gig in cities like Brighton the more we did the more we had the urge to move and be a more permanent part of it.
I’m the same is about a person’s fear of becoming someone they’re not - does that stem from personal experience? What’s the context?
The initial urge to address this came from personal experience but also conversations I had about it. Addressing the defeatist thoughts of someone who is never satisfied with them selves. Realising the manipulation of media and its fatalistic nature and vocalising how it shapes the way one socially and physically perceives them selves. Lyrically the phrase ‘I’m the same’ is a fearful association with this toxic train of thought, at it’s root it’s a realisation that ones desire to become validated by strangers is diluting their identity and their ability to love themselves for who they truly are.
This will be the fourth single released in as many years, why the long gaps in between?
As I briefly mentioned before the line up changed back 2018, which took a minute to adapt to going from a four piece to a three piece. So for the majority of 2018 and 2019 we took time to write new material and gig it, evolving a new sound for the band, it’s not until recently I feel as if the band have gained a solid identity which carries through from the live shows to our recordings. With this confidence as a band, I feel as if we’re able to pursue narratives and sounds that ring true with the band.
Who are your influences, both musical and otherwise?
Musically we all draw from similar places, pulling from bands like Killing Joke, Interpol, Eagulls and Radiohead to name a few. Recently I’m listening to a lot of Model/Actriz and bdrmm, which all add to the mix. Generally speaking anything that gives me confidence to speak honestly and venerably is influential. Addressing experiences with social anxiety and self-reflection are significant when talking about influence personally and can often fuel a conversation worth talking about.
You have a new EP on the way, tell us about it?
Since the end of last year we have been writing in and out of the rehearsal space when we can. It has been little different to the usual process not gigging the songs before hand but I think this had brought a different quality to the songs, being recorded within a matter of weeks of them being written. Usually maintaining that initial excitement and spontaneity can be more difficult once you’ve sat on the songs for months but going about it in the way that we did I think has managed to capture this. As for the new songs, I feel as if they are some of the most sonically diverse and lyrically up front of anything to date, showing off a more melodic side to the band.
Outside of the EP, what are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
We are set to release ‘I’m the Same’ on April 2nd and we’re currently working on another two singles due out later this year. We have plans to be back in the studio in the coming months to record the next batch of songs, but for the moment we are still writing out of our rehearsal space. We’re looking forward to playing the new batch of songs live for our live stream show with Hot Box events on April 3rd and hope to share some live dates for later this year very soon.
'I'm the Same' is released on April 2nd.
Link to the Hot Box Live Event: https://hotboxlive.co.uk/event/murmur-hot-box/