What We’ve Been Listening To This Week…Shame, Mush, TV Priest, Black Country New Road, Home Counties, Gardenback, White Flowers
By Jon Milton
We’ve been looking forward to the release of Shame’s second album Drunk Tank Pink ever since lead single Alphabet came out in September last year. Three more excellent singles followed Alphabet in Snow Day, Water in the Well, and just last week Nigel Hitter so the bar was set high. Does it deliver? Yep, it’s a cracker.
I really couldn’t see what all the fuss was all about with Shame. Another over-hyped band that failed to deliver. None of the early singles grabbed me, and Songs of Praise still sounds distinctly average to me. Drunk Tank Pink however is a quantum leap forward. I appreciate a lot of people focus on the lyrics, but for me the essence of good music lies with the rhythm section, and the rhythm section here is fantastic. Superbly tight, inventive drums and percussion. Wonderful guitar interplay. Driving bass. Without this the shouty / spoken vocals might grate, but instead they enhance the overall sound.
In addition to the fine string of singles mentioned above, we get touches of afrobeat on Born in Luton, frantic post punk on Great Dog, 6/1 and Harsh Degrees, the sublime Station Wagon and Human, for a Minute and the punchy March Day. There is not a single weak track on this album – it’s damn close to perfection.
Three other bands with albums soon to land who’ve released new music over the last week or so are Mush, TV Priest and Black Country New Road. Mush’s latest single Seven Trumpets (which features no Trumpets on it) is less frantic than previous singles like Blunt Instruments and Dead Beat but no less impressive, with a real late era Velvet Underground feel about it. TV Priest’s Press Gang is a noisy gem from a band that deserve the headlines (sorry, couldn’t resist) and Black Country New Road’s Track X is another fine tune, that draws heavily from Steve Reich’s Different Trains / Electric Counterpoint work.
White Flowers reveal a rather beguiling side to their music with their new EP ‘Within a Dream’. The lead track and You Caught Me were released as digital singles late last year, and are very much what we’ve come to expect from the band, but Blue May and Didn’t Want To Have To Do It are more laid back, jazzy affairs full of warmth and charm. We spoke to the band about their plans for the rest of the year a week or so ago, which you can reads about here.
Another band who’ve evolved their sound in a short period of time are Home Counties, whose Modern Yuppies single dropped this week. The band said of the single when we interviewed them last week ‘It’s pretty different to everything on ‘Redevelopment EP’. We couldn’t find a way to get back in the studio as a five-piece so it’s a self-produced home-recording, with drum machines and synths taking the centre over the typical guitar-band setup. ‘Redevelopment EP’ wasn’t a drastic departure from the music we made when we were known as Haze but we’re certainly planning on moving further away from that and being a little more experimental… I think this is a good first taste of what’s to come on our next EP’. It’s a bit of banger too as Radio One would say. You can read our full interview with the band talking about their plans for the year here.
Finally, this week is Motorway the new single from Oldham’s Gardenback. I first came across the band on an excellent cassette from Owed Summer that was out last year and this is another great tune from the band, who also have an excellent cassette EP just out via rare vitamin records ‘Modern Living EP’ which is well worth checking out / snapping up. Garage rock is the order of the day here and done rather well. The link is at: Gardenback - Modern Living EP | Gardenback | Rare Vitamin Records (bandcamp.com).