By Jon Milton
I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t been profoundly affected by the seismic change brought on by the pandemic. Many like to think that the world is back to normal now, but it seems clear to me that chronic fatigue and mental health issues continue to live with us, stopping us from even doing things that we like to do for fun.
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’. The band had played once before lockdown began but were unable to move onto their second gig at Oslo in Hackney until July of last year. In between they’d managed to catch a lot of people’s attention with their first two singles ‘House of York’ and ‘Runner Up’, sign to Sub Pop and release their debut album, ‘Uppers’, but had to live this life changing experience as though they were detached bystanders. ‘It was a real gratification and really cathartic, but on the other hand, it was really strange, and not great for my mental health”
Photo: Hollie Fernando
The band describe My Other People as very much a reaction against the politically aware, angry, and bolshy post-punk pigeon-hole that they were being put in. Instead, the band have expanded their musical canvass impressively on this record, with Drinkwater’s lyrics exploring vulnerability and emotion ahead of polemic. As if to make that change in direction very clear, the first three singles from the album each showcase different sides of the band’s music, with the fourth release ‘It Was Beautiful’ the first to tread the frentic, motorik driven, more familiar ground of Uppers.
The starkest departure comes in the shape of ‘Limehouse Cut’, which considers whether one can really feel part of a constantly changing environment like London. There’s an almost Tom Waits like wistfulness about the song and on the bands numerous, detailed social media posts leading up to this release, Drinkwater notes that he has since moved out of London to a more rural setting. I can’t help wondering if that narrative may be influenced by parenthood, where responsibility for a new life becomes all-consuming so and when you finally come up for air, you find that the world around you has changed.
Songs like ‘One Easy Thing’, ‘I Have Learnt Nothing’ and ‘I Am Safe Here’ stand proud and ebullient in among the crowd pleasing ‘It Was Beautiful’ and ‘Unravelling’. The album's reflective moments surface on ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ and ‘Sunland’ and the aforementioned Limehouse Cut. The highlight of the album however is ‘The Breakers’, a paean to reaffirming friendship, that features a sublime guitar riff which perfectly complements the songs' optimistic theme .
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.
In what’s likely to be crowded space this year, My Other People will undoubtedly be up there as one of the albums of 2022.
My Other People is released in 17th June. The album is available to pre-order direct from Sub Pop and also on limited edition transparent violet LP direct from Record Store HERE.
There is also a limited signed edition, each including an artwork print designed by the band's own Charlie Drinkwater, available from Rough Trade HERE or as part of an accompanying instore performance for the album's release day.
UK Tour Dates:
30 - Bristol, UK - The Louisiana
31 - Birmingham, UK - Hare & Hounds
1 - Dublin, IE - The Workman's Cellar
3 - Manchester, UK - Yes (Pink Room)
4 - Glasgow, UK - Broadcast
5 - Leeds, UK - Belgrave Music Hall
7 - Cambridge, UK - Portland Arms
8 - Leicester, UK - Firebug Bar
10 - London, UK - Scala
11 - Reading, UK -The Face Bar
12 - Southampton, UK - The Joiners
13 - Brighton, UK - Green Door Store
By Jon Milton
The good folk at VBAH (Vandalism Begins at Home) records are on a bit of a roll this month. Last week saw the release of Luna Rosa's excellent single 'Brutal Nature', and this week sees the release of another gem in the form of 'Holocene Ending' by Sourdough. Holocene Ending is the second single to be taken from Sourdough's forthcoming debut EP due for release in August.
Singer-songwriter Jacob Kyte says of the single
'The song is all about change, the end of something, and the start of something new. We wrote it during one of the many lockdown's, when there was this message of everyone being "in it together", but in truth people, and certainly politicians, were still betraying one another as much as they always had. We were living in an almost post-apocalyptic world, yet attitudes remained as selfish and greedy as they ever were. Everyone is still at each other's throats. Johnson and his cronies are still laughing at us - yet still getting the vote. It's like foxes voting to lift the hunting ban.
I had this image of farmers burning their own fields, destroying their own livelihoods. I think that's reflective of the world today. We are burning the world, destroying our own existence. Turning on ourselves, but for what worth? We are bringing about our own extinction. Our own end of days".
Given the level of emotion and the sentiment that sit behind the lyrics, it should come as no surprise to know that Holocene Ending is also an absolute beast of a tune and the bands' best release to date. Click on the link below to check it out yourself, or to listen via spotify head to the playlist section of the site and click on the fiver.
By Jon Milton
London’s Midlight have released a string of impressive singles over the last two years and now bring us their debut EP ‘Above from Below’. Self-produced and self-released, the EP features six suave tracks that ooze class, sophistication and quality.
The band are big fans of Radiohead and Talk Talk, whose influence permeates their early work, but on ‘Above from below’ it’s another influence that comes through most clearly, Coldplay. Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes, these days Coldplay are indeed truly shit, but their first album ‘Parachutes’ was rather good, so fix your mind on that rather than all that ‘Higher Power’ bollocks.
‘Above from Below’ begins with its title track, a clever little instrumental track that ends just as it starts to get going. Lead single ‘Home’ follows, noisily announcing itself before elegantly unfurling. Bloodhound sees the band embrace their melancholy, with the song initially stripped back to just piano and vocals before slowly building into epic proportions. The muted tones of ‘My Murder’ and the beautiful ‘Safer Space’ follow before the EP concludes with the jaunty ‘I Just Need a Chance’.
There’s a lot of smart touches to the EP too. Bloodhound has a touch of ‘Wicked Game’ to it. On My Murder there’s a little flicker of ‘Englishman in New York’, and there’s a glimmer of something that I can’t put my finger on by The Police on I Just Need a Chance. All of these elements are very subtle but are deftly executed throughout.
Yes, Above from Below 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 for me. Above from Below feels like a taste of something special with more yet to come.
By Jon Milton
If there's any justice in the world, Personal Trainer's new single 'Rug Busters' will be a massive hit and people all over the world will be spontaneously breaking out into its dance moves whenever it comes on. Before you read on, click on the link below, watch the video and tell me that I'm wrong!
Not only is Rug Busters a great tune, but they did that brilliant video in ONE TAKE! I'm not particularly one for dancing but even I can't stop wiggling to this one.
If you're not familiar with the band - they're Dutch and the brainchild of Willem Smit, the band's front man and a multi-instrumentalist. They're all about the unpredictable, with the band made up of a shifting line-up of friends and peers playing together with only one rule: there are no rules. Willem says of the single:
“I wanted to make a song to dance to for everybody - no one excluded. The idea was to make a song that brings people closer to each other, no matter who they are, who they are with, what they believe or what they've done.
"Dance", "Dance Dance Dance" and "Song 2 Dance 2" were three of the working titles before I settled on "Rug Busters" - "busting a move" meets "cutting a rug" or something."
The video was filmed by the band's own Kilian Kayser in the parking lot beneath their keyboard player Abel Tuinstra's studio.
"Coming up with a simple idea that feels a bit dumb, but sparks something inside of me or the band - then trying to give it your all to make the idea into something cool - has become a recurring approach for Personal Trainer.
I think we applied this to both the song itself as the video. I'd been trying to come up with an idea for the video in the van with the band or on the phone with my fellow Trainers. On our way back from a show we decided we should write a choreography and perform it, preferably in a nondescript space. The first ideas for the choreography were written in a bar in Amsterdam on that very night by a couple of Trainers, but the bulk of the thing was written and rehearsed in my bedroom.
It was a sight to behold watching six twenty-somethings busting rugs in a relatively small space. I was and am still very proud of everyone's perseverance and heart, and I think the video turned out great. I think most Trainers - including myself - are a bit ashamed of the video too!"
The band have just begun their UK tour. Go and see them and you can try out a few of those moves...
4 Manchester - Yes Basement
5 Leeds - Hyde Park Book Club
6 Newcastle - Head Of Steam
7 Edinburgh - Sneaky Pete’s
8 Glasgow - Broadcast
10 Nottingham - Rough Trade
11 Bedford - Esquires
14 Brighton - Hope & Ruin
15 Bristol - Crofters Rights
17 London - Moth Club
Photo: Kilian Kayser
What We've Been Listening To...Life, TV Priest, Traams, Perspex, Moreish Idols, English Teacher, Melts, Courting, Sorry, The Palpitations, Automatic, Gag Salon, Horsegirl
By Jon Milton
2022 is shaping up to be a great year for albums. So far Crows and Yard Act have led the way, and other big hitters on the horizon include the new LPs from Life, TV Priest and Traams. Some may turn about to be disappointing, as has already been the case with Warmduscher and Wet Leg but let’s be optimistic for now.
‘Almost Home’ is the third single to be taken from Life’s forthcoming album ‘North East Coastal Town’, and like its predecessors ‘Friends Without Names’ and ‘Big Moon Lake’ its quality. There’s a real confidence and swagger about their music these days and long may it continue.
Also, onto their third single and with their album out in June are TV Priest. On this occasion however, I can confirm that the album is an absolute doozy as I got sent a copy through this week. Even better than ‘Uppers’ too, if I may be so bold to say. Read about the new single ‘Limehouse Cut’ here.
July sees Traams release their long awaited third album ‘Personal Best’, and latest single ‘The Light at Night’ sees them joined by that Joe Casey from Protomartyr, who they’ve been on tour with. As with TV Priest they seem to be experimenting with their music a bit more, with ‘The Light…’ beginning with strings and building up as it develops. The teaser campaigns for both this and the lo-fi ‘Sleeper’ single featured a load of electronica, so I guess they have more up their sleeves too.
For some reason I'd completely given up on Perspex after hearing their Soft/Double Recovery single a couple of years. Then out of the blue their eponymous debut album has emerged and it sounds really good. The album kicks off with the barnstorming 'Chainsaws' and the twists and turns with a bunch of indie charmers like Ceefax and 'Heart in a Bag'. The standouts though are the longer tracks 'Sex and Cars' and 'The Lyricist'. The former canters along in a space between the Smith's 'The Queen is Dead' and The Velvet Underground's 'Foggy Notion', and the latter recalls less frenetic Velvet's moments like 'Stephanie' Says mixed in with the Byrds.
Last month saw Eades release their debut, an album with a lot of promise but lacking in production values. This month sees their sister band English Teacher release their debut EP 'Polyawkward' but with the production in the hands of Theo Verney, and his 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 a some mad direction. The bass-lines are genius. Lily Fontaine's vocals like nectar and its all works brilliantly.
Latest in the long line of Speedy Wunderground proteges are Moreish Idols, who have just released 'Speedboat'. There's a little bit of psychedelia going on here and a hint of jazz amongst the indie thrash in what is an impressive debut. According to their spotify bio they are 'The best band in the sea'.
Other good stuff out this month: the Melts track 'Signal' from their debut album 'Maelstrom' out next month (that has a lot of potential to be another superb album); the new single from Sorry 'There's so many people that want to be loved', 'Denial' by The Palpitations, 'Tennis' by Courting (what a tune that is!), 'My Gun' by Gag Salon, 'World of Pots and Pans' by Horsegirl and 'Venus Hour' by Automatic. You can hear it all on the monthly playlist during May here. And just to remind you, the monthly is unsurprisingly updated monthly so worth giving a follow to!