What We've Been Listening To...The Black Delta Movement, Geese, JJUUJJUU, Moreish Idols, Gurriers, Gilla Band, Helicon
By Jon Milton
Back in 2020, I optimistically wrote a blog identifying a few bands that I was looking forward to hearing new music from that year. One of those bands was the Black Delta Movement. It’s been 5 long years now since their debut album Preservation came out but now, finally, they’re back with a new single and an album planned for release some time this year on Fuzz Club Records. Was it worth the wait? From the sounds of ‘Fourth Pass Over the Graveyard’ I’d say so. Six minutes of insistent groove, tight as you like beats and a slinky seventies funk feel to boot bodes very well. Frontman Matt Burr is supported on the track (and the album) by Little Barrie, and it’s a fine combination. There’s even some gigs on the horizon, including an appearance at the iconic 100 club.
I thought that was a great start to the month and then I heard the new single by Geese. Kooky title, kooky video but my, what a song. ‘Cowboy Nudes’ sounds SO fresh, SO good and SUCH a step forward for the band. The bands’ first album Projector was an impressive start, although it felt a little rough around the edges in places. This new track is an altogether different ball game. This will be one of the songs of the year.
Last month Wide Awake Festival announced a new round of acts playing at the event in May. I always feel duty bound to listen to those that are unfamiliar, and in doing so was blown away by one of them, JJUUJJUU. Their 2018 album Zionic Mud is an amazing album, well worth checking out and they’ve also just released a top new track ‘Nowhere’ to follow up on the two singles they released last year. I guess you’d probably file under ‘psych rock’ but listen for yourself and make your own mind up. Hopefully a second album is on the way.
A band that has not made it on the bill at Wide Awake and really should is Moreish Idols. Their debut EP ‘Float’ came out last year on Speedy Wunderground and it was wonderful. New single ‘Nocturnal Creatures’ picks up perfectly where that EP left off and is further evidence of the bands’ promise. Definitely one to go and see this year and I’m very much looking forward to hearing more from them.
Other highlights out right now are new singles from Gurriers, Gilla Band, and Helicon.
By Jon Milton.
Last Tourist’s debut album is an absolute smorgasbord of wonderful musical influences.
Imagine if you combined all the best bits of shoegaze. A touch of Ride here, a bit of Slowdive there and of course a hint of My Bloody Valentine throughout. Then add some of the bands that immediately influenced Shoegaze, namely Spacemen 3 and Jesus and Mary Chain. And finally add in some of the bands that influenced them, such as Suicide and The Velvet Underground and you should start to get the picture.
Last Tourist channels that ethereal mix of obscured vocals, distortion and echo beautifully. The vocals draw comparison with JAMC throughout, and across a number of tracks there are subtle elements of both Psychocandy and Darklands. Tracks like Riding Seas and Public Service have elements of Nowhere era Ride. The Slowdive influence comes through on Lemon Twist and Lust, and Cave in the Hills blends JAMC with Suicide. Interlude and Spiritual Cove blend Spacemen 3 and MBV.
The band clearly wear their influences with pride, with Last Tourist more celebration than pastiche. And those were golden eras of music in many ways, so why shouldn’t they be celebrated? This is an album to escape to and is all the better for that.
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.
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.
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