What we've been listening to...stores, Keg, Yard Act, Egyptian Blue, Beija Flo, TV Priest, Enola Gay, Pip Blom, Home Counties, Anorak Patch, Melts
By Jon Milton
Last month saw three of 2021’s brightest newcomers Geese, Porchlight and Wet Leg further add to their impressive debuts, and this month sees another do the same, in the shape of stores. ‘blue sunday’ makes the art of well-crafted song writing seem so effortless, seamlessly switching from breezy jazz to noisily insistent garage rock in the blink of an eye. A full EP is on its way next month by all accounts.
Keg also make it into our best newcomers list but are slightly further down the line release-wise on the artists mentioned above having just dropped their debut EP ‘Assembly’ via Alcopop! Records. If you, like I, have had your attention grabbed by their frantic, intricate, and eloquent singles ‘Presidential Walk’ and ‘Heyshaw’ then you’ll be pleased to know that the other three tracks that make up the EP are of equal high quality. Their self-proclaimed building site anthem ‘Breaking Rocks’ fusing early 80’s new wave and more contemporary post-punk, ‘Farmhands" offering up a "lovestory to St James Street [in Brighton] and its many erratic personalities and the eternal clash of oat flat whites and heroin poos". Closing track 'Kilham' further emphasises the bands’ ability to effortlessly shift gears between different musical styles, this time jazz, new-wave, and post rock. As with bands like Squid it feels like Keg have a lot more hiding in their locker, thus making the thought of their debut album a mouth-watering prospect.
Talking of albums, isn’t it about time we got to hear one from Egyptian Blue? After what seems like an eternity the band have given us a glimpse of what could be in store with their new single ‘Salt’ and doesn’t it sound good? I stuck on ‘Collateral’ the other day and was taken by how fresh it sounded, and you get the same feeling with this new track. Salt seems to have a bit more body too it, less trebly and the vocals more controlled. They’ve been in the studio recording with Theo Verney so we wait with baited breath for more.
Yard Act’s album drops in January and they’ve just released the second taster in ‘Land of the Blind’. It feels like a new take on the Special’s ‘Ghost Town’ with its brooding bass line and lyrical disdain for Modern Britain. Where Ghost Town addressed themes of urban decay, deindustrialisation, unemployment and violence in inner cities, Land of the Blind seems to bemoan the lies that our Politician’s tell and the great British public’s unnerving ability to be firstly suckered in and then just go with it. The band’s press release dances around the subject matter presumably due to keeping record label Universal happy, but the Brexit broken promise and pandemic mismanagement narrative seems pretty clear:
‘We all get a commemorative fifty pence piece each for the peace treaties breached, and the palms greased, that are never on the ends of the elbows digging the graves of the recently deceased, Please have a seat, I’m going to show you all a magic trick but its sort of a surprise, so if you just lend me that fifty pence piece in your hand and then close your eyes, I’m going to make me, and this fifty pence piece disappear’.
The spirit of Tom Waits looms over the song too, both in the song title and the Marc Ribot style guitar, and the bababadaba’s also seem to doff their cap to another piece of 80’s social commentary, the Jam’s ‘Town Called Malice’. Very clever indeed, and another reminder of how the band manage to elevate themselves from their contemporaries.
The latest from Pip Blom and TV Priest see both artists showing their reflective sides, with ‘Different Tune’ a further taster from the formers forthcoming second album and ‘All Thing’ the other side of their singles club ‘Lifesize’ release from Sub Pop. ‘All Thing’ combines a brooding bassline, terrace style percussion, guitar stabs and gently sung vocals beautifully to create a hypnotic piece that will have you wistfully staring into space in deep contemplation, showing a side to the band that isn’t afraid to explore new avenues. ‘Different tune’ is less immediate but nevertheless enjoyable.
If its noise and aggression you’re after, look no further than Belfast’s Enola Gay. Sitting somewhere between Girl Band and the Murder Capital, debut EP ‘Gransha’ boasts four scorching tracks that really knock you off your feet. ‘Sofa Surfing’, the majestic ‘Scrappers’ and ‘…Through Men’s Eyes’ are brutally uncompromising in the same way that Idles are and Salt is the kind of track that could go toe to toe with any of Red Hot Chilli Peppers back catalogue and leave the Americans in pain on the floor. That subverted Thatcher speech at the start of it is a bit of a chilling reminder of another type of onslaught though. The band tour extensively across the UK in March and April and should be well worth catching.
Elsewhere on the new release front are tracks from Beija Flo and Home Counties which we featured here and here earlier this week, and a couple of cracking new tracks from Melts and Anorak Patch. ‘Maelstrorm’ by the former is reminiscent of David Holmes’s ‘I Heard Wonders’ but heavier on the krautrock (always a good thing that), and ‘Delilah’ by the latter is another quality tune from the band.