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What We've Been Listening To...English Teacher, Gnoomes, JOHN, Coyboyy, Shame, Tulpa, Saloon Dion, The Goa Express, Patio Gas, Skull Practitioners, Cross Wires, Shaemless, The Maddocks
By Jon Milton
Nearly two weeks into 2023, I was wondering whether post-pandemic mental fatigue had pretty much killed off the creative process for most bands. The only things to perk up my ears were new singles from Shame and Cross Wires. Looking back on the rest of the month now I should really have had more faith, as there’s been a bumper crop of wonderful tunes to restore the spirits.
Of those early runners, Shame’s ‘six-pack’ thankfully picks up from where Drunk Tank Pink left off, and is a Wah laden belter. Cross Wires second single ‘Drowning’ from their forthcoming second album continues to showcase their evolution as a band.
There’s been a couple of excellent debut singles this month, from The Maddocks and Tulpa. The former is a new band from Manchester whose ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ bounces along very nicely and the latter have risen from the ashes of Mush. Tulpa’s ‘Ricochet’ is a cracking tune that reminds me a bit of ‘Ecstasy’ era My Bloody Valentine with its dual female/male vocal and breakneck rhythm.
Cowboyy’s debut single ‘Gmaps’ came out late last year and the band have just released a second single ‘Tennis’ on Nice Swan Records. If their forthcoming EP is as good as these two tracks its going to be pretty special and marks them out as one of the bands to watch this year. Nice Swan alumni Saloon Dion and English Teacher’s ‘I Don’t Feel’ and ‘Song About Love’ respectively both continue both bands knack of releasing quality, with the latter getting a release on another top label, Speedy Wunderground.
January has also seen some bands seemingly re-emerge from nowhere having been quiet for a while. Firstly, the brilliant Gnoomes with their hypnotic ‘Loops’, the first track to be released from their new album, due out in April on Rocket Recordings. The band are also touring here in March/April for the first time since 2019’s ‘Mu’ came out and should be well worth paying a visit to go and see. Skull Practitioners have also been quiet since 2019 but have this month released their impressive debut album ‘Negative Stars’. It's another worthy of diving into, if you like your garage punk.
Patio Gas used to be called Filth, who had a great debut single out in 2021 ‘Fully Introspective’ and then went quiet. They’re now back with their new name and a first single ‘Going Backwards’ from their debut album which will be released later this year. After a couple of iffy singles Goa Express are also back with a bang with ‘Portrait’. Portrait flies along and hopefully signals a return to form.
A more consistent performer is John (Times Two) who have unleashed a bit of beast this month in the form of ‘Hopper on the Dial’. Its immense.
Finally, have a listen to Dutch band Shaemless’s new single ‘Camel Blue’. It rocks, in a post punk way.
Under the Radar in 2022
By Jon Milton
We try our hardest to keep tabs on new talent and write about it as and when it emerges, but every now and then we come across bands who have released a few tunes over the year that have flown under the radar. So, to compensate for this oversight, here's a few recommendations that you really should check out.
It’s been just over a year since East London duo Human Interest released their first track ‘Spiced Apple’ a lively little number with a lot of lust for life about it. January saw the band release the glammy ‘Feel Good’ and then both tracks appeared alongside the slinky ‘Cool Cats’ and Velvety ‘These Parties Are Awful’ in March to make up the band's debut EP, Desire Paths. Another top tune 'Alive' surfaced in July.
Always one to spot potential, Nice Swan Recordings entered the fray and released their latest single ‘Mixing Paint’, upping the production values and raising expectations of more to come in 2023.
Bristolians Bible Club have just released their third single of the year ‘Hide’, a further example of the intense dirge psych sound that they first revealed on ‘Mr Lizard’ in April and ‘Ford Capri’ in September. Hide incorporates saxophone and violin for the first time and it’s a cracker. The band’s influences come from Saharan-Rock outfits (I had to check that out too) like Tinariwen, classic artists like CAN, The Doors, NEU!, Spacemen 3 and Oh Sees and more contemporary bands like Squid and (don’t let this put you off) Black Midi.
A little raid of Opus Kink’s playlist uncovered this playful bunch of weirdo’s. The band began their slightly unsettling but utterly enchanting recording career with debut single ‘Daddy Got Pony’ in May and have released a further two tracks in Beep! Beep! Honk! Honk! and ‘Age of Goat’. Imagine if Madness had written ‘Driving in my car’ on acid and you’ll get the gist for the former and the latter is deliciously unhinged, with some wonderful screaming at the end.
If we've not featured you and you've dropped a few excellent tunes in 2022, drop us a DM or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EP's of the Year
By Jon Milton
It’s that most wonderful time of the year when lots of album of the year lists (including ours) fly about, but what about the EP’s? EP’s often represent a bold step forward for a band, elevating them others that just release tracks every now and then. They're often accompanied by physical releases on actual labels after all, so why not celebrate them?
EP’s are also released by exciting new artists who are not yet in the grip of ongoing album release schedules - essentially bands on the way up and worth looking out for.
Here's our pick of the bunch in 2022:
Opus Kink – ‘Til the Stream Runs Dry
Opus Kink seem to have really made their mark in 2022. Anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing them live will know how good they are, and most likely be seduced by their unique melodies. I can’t think of any other band that I’ve seen who have managed to open to a static, sober room and within 30 minutes get those at the front dancing and everyone else swaying side to side.
Their debut EP ‘Til the Steam Runs Dry’ was released in the summer on Nice Swan Recordings, and is a heady mix of tunes seemingly drawing influence from Tom Waits, The Pogues, The Redskins and Pigbag. Legends.
Moreish Idols - Float
An EP that is an absolute cracker from start to finish. It starts and ends with the two frantic singles released earlier this year ‘Hangar’ and ‘Speedboat’, with new songs W.A.M. and When the River Runs Dry sandwiched in between. There seems to be a trend developing at the moment with guitar bands incorporating brass into their sound and these guys manage to do it exceptionally well. Very moreish indeed.
Sprints –A Modern Job
Really quite brilliant. Last years' singles 'How does the story go' and 'Modern Job' kick off proceedings and are joined by 'Little Fix' which came out in January and two new tracks 'Delia Smith' and 'I’m in a band'. There so much energy in this EP: its noisy, exciting and utterly addictive. The EP was produced by Gilla Band's Daniel Fox, and he's done a grand job too. Essential.
English Teacher - Polyawkward
Theo Verney’s excellent production certainly does justice to the band's excellent tunes. Three of the tracks have been out for a while, with 'Good Grief' released late last year, followed by 'A55' and 'Mental Maths' earlier this and these are joined by title track 'Polyawkward' and 'Yorkshire Tapas'. What I love about this EP is its unpredictability. One minute you're listening to something seemingly quite conventional and next the song darts off in some mad direction. The bass-lines are genius. Lily Fontaine's vocals like nectar and it all works brilliantly.
The Black Lagoons – The Big Rock Candy Mountains
A band that appears in bursts intermittently, but when they do leave a lasting impression. Their debut 5 track EP features laconic vocals, whistling, Elvis, intrigue and a whole lot of reverb. Its quirky, unpredictable and thoroughly loveable. All good but Mongolian Pine and Elvis are the standouts.
Deadletter – Heat!
Deadletter just go from strength to strength. I’m reliably informed that are somewhat of a phenomenon live too, definitely one to make an effort for in 2023. Heat! offers 5 excellent tracks, including that earworm ‘Binge’. They remind me of the best bits of ‘Rock the Casbah’ era The Clash.
Home Counties - In A Middle English Town
‘Come on and hit me with tax, in double figures, double figures. And let the country collapse, into pieces, into pieces’ sing Home Counties on ‘Back to the 70s’, the lead track on their ‘In a Middle English Town’ EP. Hardly prescient given the inevitable path that follows on from borrowing billions to address the pandemic, but certainly poignant. The band continue their morphing process on this EP to good effect, with wonky funk and electro rubbing shoulders with the more conventional indie of ‘The Home Counties’. Where next?
Keg - Girders
Girders follows on from last year’s debut ‘Assembly’ with the gloriously obnoxious ‘Kids’ and ‘Elephant’ and disorientating ‘NPC’ accompanied by three more tracks ‘5/4’, ‘Girders’, and ‘Sing Again’. There’s a bit more experimentation on Girders compared to Assembly and again even a little bit of singing (unsurprisingly on Sing Again’) in among the shouting.
Midlight – Above from Below
London’s Midlight have released a string of impressive singles over the last two years and their debut EP brings more smart touches. Self-produced and self-released, the EP features six suave tracks that ooze class, sophistication and quality. The EP is very accessible and yes it has a lot of mainstream crossover appeal to it, but the band manage to stay just the right side of alternative. Above from Below feels like a taste of something special with more yet to come.
Tragic – Recidivism
Tragic don’t seem to get a lot of press, which baffles me. Harnessing a mixture of all out punk energy, post punk finesse with a bit of grunge thrown in here and there for good measure sounds like a great combo, after all. If you’ve not heard of them before, ‘Recidivism’ should serve as a good start. The EP features the frenetic ‘Backfoot’ and ‘Wake Up Terry’, two Nevermind era Nirvana-esque tunes ‘Terry The Self Obsessed Empath’ and ‘Downtown’ and the sublime ‘Recidivist’ and very good it is too.
Sourdough – Outlet
In these volatile, uncertain, complex and uncertain times, SOURDOUGH attempt to provide a voice for the disaffected many, with an EP that pours contempt on governmental abuse of power. And all of this was written before the government decided to issue arguably the most bonkers mini-budget of all time, and in doing so widen the gap between have and have nots.
Luna Rosa – Brutal Nature
A band that cites The Verve as influences which certainly comes across on tracks like 'MK Ultra' and 'Empty'. 'Brutal Nature' the song reminds me of The Blinders when they were good, and the other stand out track on the EP ‘I in the Centre of Pride’ has shades of one of my personal favourites, Echo and the Bunnymen. The EP is thoroughly impressive throughout and a real statement of intent from the band.
Public Body- Flavour of Labour
An EP that features songs about the workplace ‘Hard to Concentrate’; ‘Reset my Password’; and ‘Flavour of Labour’; ‘Formica’ about a Twitter dad and the politically charged ‘Sunburnt’. There’s a lot of energy going on here, agitated synths, wonky guitar lines and propulsive percussion to accompany singer Seb Gilmore’s wry observations.
Gag Salon – Get a Load of This Guy
The band announced themselves in February with their debut single, the frantic ‘Horses’ with a further couple of tracks ‘My Gun’ and ‘Don’t Eat Stuff off the Pavement’ following. The equally insistent 'Germs' and '21st Century Classical Music' complete the madness wonderfully on this full release, which has flashes of Josef K, Gang of Four and Parquet Courts, albeit a bit more hopped up and quirky.
Grab the playlist: EPs of the Year 2022
The Best Albums of 2022
Words by Jon Milton and Mark Glenister
10. Minami Deutsch: Fortune Goodie
Any new music from Japanese Krautrock band Minami Deutsch is a wondrous thing. Whilst not exactly prolific (this is their third album in six years) the band do what they do and they do it very well. Fortune Goodie brings us ten new tracks melding fuzz, repetition and motorik, a winning combination I’m sure you’ll agree!
9: Traams – personal best
Personal Best comes just the seven years on from their last album ‘Modern Dancing’, and sees the band collaborate with the likes of Joe Casey, Soffie Viemose and Soft Lizard. It’s largely a triumphant return with ‘Breathe’ as the standout track. Personally I’d be happy with four ten-minute tracks like ‘Breathe’ across a whole album as its in that format they seem to excel.
8: Warmduscher – At the Hotspot
Who’d have thought we’d get to see Warmduscher play Glastonbury? On the telly too! The band have continued their upward ascent in 2022, winning many new friends along the way. ‘At the Hotspot’ doesn’t see the band at their best but its still a decent album, and it contains the brilliant ‘Wild Flowers’ and ‘Fatso’.
7. The Lounge Society – Tired of Liberty
The sheer amount of energy and ideas that the band pack into Tired of Liberty is mind blowing. The first nine songs twist and turn, scamper and slow and then scamper again restlessly with such effortless ease. Its easy to lose your sense of time. Brilliant stuff.
6. Bob Vylan – Bob Vylan Presents the Price of Life
Anger, contempt, purpose, meaning. The Price of Life is so raw, so real and so good. Very few artists seem brave enough to make a statement this direct these days, and in such an articulate fashion. Superb.
5. Yard Act – The Overload
Their status as media darlings and the rampant self-marketing that accompanied this release made Yard Act and the Overload very easy to dislike. However, this album is from start to finish excellent and the band are one of the best on the live circuit. And you can’t fault their industry. This may well be their moment in the sun and fair play to them.
4. Life: North East Coastal Town
From the moment that ‘Friends Without Names’ was released late last year it was looking likely that this would be a great album and it is. There is a wonderful maturity to North East Coastal Town that elevates the band from sounding like The Fall to sounding like Life and long may they continue in this vein.
3. Crows – Beware Believers
Whilst the first album had moments which felt like their live experience, this album sounds like a Crows gig from start to sweat drenched finish. This is the sound of band feeling comfortable with their sound, and a rhythm section that will pummel you senseless. It needs to be noted that these are the first tracks written with drummer Sam Lister being involved, and you can hear his and Jith Amara’s (bass)influence all the way, add to that the layered searing sounds and feedback from Steve Goddard (lead) and the dark, passionate, angry lyrics of James Cox, you have a very dark but beautiful album. It delivers on every track, hardly pausing for breath until the last few songs, the band wanted this experience for you and they do not disappoint.
2. TV Priest ‘My Other People’
TV Priest’s second album ‘My Other People’ lays bare singer Charlie Drinkwater’s experiences during the pandemic, a period in which he confesses he was in ‘a place where I was not, I would say, particularly well’. TV Priest’s second album represents a big step forward for the band. Where Uppers felt like a collection of songs, My Other People feels like a proper album, and one that will go down as a ‘flash of greatness’ from the band for years to come.
1. Gilla Band - Most Normal
Gilla Band's third album is a breathtaking achievement. Wow, wow, wow, it is brilliant.
The influences of electronic artists like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and the Chemical Brothers are pretty obvious on Most Normal, but what sets Gilla Band apart from these is the production, which so expertly melds analogue with electronica to create something unique. It is our of the year and a worthy winner.
What We’ve Been Listening to…Tragic, Butch Kassidy, Cucamaras, Mhaol, Cross Wires, Les Bods, O., Human Interest, Cowboyy, Splint, Yabba
By Jon Milton
Tragic don’t seem to get a lot of press, which baffles me. Harnessing a mixture of all out punk energy, post punk finesse with a bit of grunge thrown in here and there for good measure sounds like a great combo, after all. If you’ve not heard of them before, their new EP ‘Recidivism’ should serve as a good start. The EP features the frenetic ‘Backfoot’ and ‘Wake Up Terry’, two Nevermind era Nirvana-esque tunes ‘Terry The Self Obsessed Empath’ and ‘Downtown’ and the sublime ‘Recidivist’ and very good it is too.
For those who favour immersive, psychedelic noise with a bit goth thrown in for good measure, check out Butch Kassidy’s ‘Live at Village Underground’ set. They remind me of ‘Dreamtime’ era Cult/Death Cult, early eighties Cure and even Sisters of Mercy, with lots of brooding and intensity and chunky basslines. Five tracks span just under half an hour and it's well worth a watch.
Cucamaras new single ‘Porcelain’ is a self-assured little number seemingly signalling a new direction for the band after their ‘Soft Soap’ EP earlier this year. The vocals have that Lenny Bruce touch that fellow Nottingham dwellers Do Nothing do so well so maybe there’s something in the water up that way.
Way back in the 1980’s World Domination Enterprises released an absolutely belting tune in the form of ‘Asbestos Lead Asbestos’ with the most wonderfully abrasive guitar that you could ever hope for. There’s a touch of this on ‘Asking for it’, the new single from Mhaol and it perfectly complements the songs powerful message. Their debut album ‘Attachment Styles’ is out in February next year.
It's been a while since we heard from Cross Wires, but they’re back with a new single ‘Mourning’ and a second album ‘Yesterday in Mourning’ on the way. Says singer Jonathan of the track “My original basic Garageband demo idea had the feel (in my mind anyway) of a ‘Boxer’ period track by The National but once we got in a room together and the boys worked their magic it ended up having a Berlin era Bowie meets late period Blur feel to it. It’s one of my favourite things we’ve ever done”.
Another band back after quite a while are Brighton’s Les Bods with their new single ‘Level Dweller’. The band unashamedly make music from that golden late sixties / early seventy rock era, with this latest tune sitting somewhere between Jimi Hendrix and 13th Floor Elevators. Hopefully there will be more from the band next year, although given their laid-back approach to releasing output over the last two and half years, my expectations are limited!
A week or so ago I had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful O. play at the Mutations festival in Brighton and those good people at Speedy Wunderground have now seen fit to release the first single from the two-piece, OGO. Given that only drums and saxophone feature it should come as no surprise that both instruments get a proper workout on this track from two incredibly talented individuals. OGO is kind of in the same vein as Binker and Moses and the Comet is Coming but these two have their own unique style.
As its been a while since my last article (give me a break, I have a family, a day job and post pandemic fatigue!) here’s a few honorary mentions of notable tracks from exciting new artists released over the last couple of months, all via the excellent Nice Swan Records:
- Human Interest - Mixing Paint
- Splint – 145
- Yabba – Get by
- Cowboy - Gmaps