Posts Tagged ‘South London’

South-London’s Bleach Lab only released a handful of songs so far but the level of quality these tracks provide are already pretty stunning. Just take the wonderful “Heartache Of The Season …” or the magnificent “Never Be”.  The weight of emotional turbulence slowly sinks in with every second, and so do the gracious guitar fabrics, that echo the opaque sonic worlds of Mazzy Star and the Cocteau Twins. In a turbulent world a sound like the one of Bleach Lab feels like a much needed musical equivalent of catching your breath, turn off all internet devices and just enjoy the moment. Here’s what the band had to tell us about their hopes for 2021:

“We hope/pray that gigs will return to normal at some point in the new year. We miss gigging so much and can’t wait to play our music live again. We spent a lot of time in lockdown working on new music and really look forward to getting back in the studio. We also can’t wait to spend more time together again over a cold beer!”

Though there’s certainly a dreamlike quality to Bleach Lab’s output, their stories of heartbreak and loss are firmly placed within reality, the band unafraid of laying it all on the line with honest, direct lyricism and fuss-free production.

Last year, the band released Never Be, the first single taken from their forthcoming EP to widespread acclaim from publications such as DIY, So Young and Gig wise, amongst many others. Speaking of the EP, Bleach Lab write, ‘The EP melds together two traumatic experiences of grief: the death of bassist Josh Longman’s father and the breakdown of singer Jenna Kyle’s long-term relationship.’

Subverting the model of the five stages of grief, with lyrics written jointly by Kyle and Longman, the EP explores the vast spectrum of emotions experienced during the grieving process. The next single to be released from the EP, Old Ways, explores feelings of anger, as Kyle explains, ‘Old Ways explores the angry side of the grieving process at the end of a relationship. Anger towards the way in which they treated you but also towards oneself for still missing them regardless.’

Bleach Lab originally hail from Buckinghamshire and released their debut single back in 2019 – a simpler time for many of us. The sense of loss and change that permeates much of their music seems rather poignant in today’s world, evoking a sense of reflection that has become familiar to many.

19th March will see the release of the band’s new EP, which explores the feelings of grief associated with the loss of a close family member and the dissolution of a long-term relationship. Their new single, Old Ways, explores the sense of anger that loss can entail. On the track, singer Jenna Kyle’s sorrowful yet elegant vocals take centre stage amongst a soundscape of intricate drumming and yearning guitar lines.

This band are not to be missed, so discover them now before it’s too late.

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It’s hard to do Shame any justice by writing about their wild live shows. The way I can best summarize the aftermath of going to see Shame is that you’ll suddenly feel like you’ve been christened with the ability to perform some act of superhuman physical strength. Though the melodic, fervent post-punk of their debut album Songs of Praise needs no polite introduction, it’s not an angry “in your face,” it’s more like an “in your face” that’s beaming with happiness and with an overflowing passion that can’t be depleted. Their sweaty, bare-chested frontman Charlie Steen’s stamina and powerful presence is felt, but it’s not overbearing. He consistently reminds the crowd, “Smile! This is entertainment” while bassist Josh Finerty engages in a comical gymnastics routine and guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith embodies his guitar’s vigorous shredding with a similar vibrating fit of energy. By this point, Steen is an experienced crowd-surfer and as long as his motor is running, expect the unexpected at a Shame show.

Shame performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded February 20th, 2018.

Songs: Dust On Trial Concrete One Rizla Friction The Lick

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British but born to Canadian parents, and a focal point of the vibrant South London scene which includes Shame, HMLTD and Goat Girl to name but a few, Matt’s acerbic, witty songwriting brought attention from The FADER, The Guardian, Interview Magazine, NME, DIY, The Line Of Best Fit, and a score of other titles both online and in print throughout 2017.

The Berkshire don helped to create a genre this year: schmaltzcore, caramel-smooth jazz-pop whose purveyors include Tom Misch and Rex Orange County. Sounds like Jamie Cullum, but cool, you know? On his damn fine debut album, Maltese has crafted near-perfect piano pop with whip-smart lyrics (“Some people think the Earth is flat / But if it were / How come I don’t see you anywhere?”) and the occasional boogie-woogie flourish (we heard Jools Holland smashed up his Steinway in a jealous rage when he heard the funky final 30 seconds of ‘Guilty’). ‘Bad Contestant’ is smooth as silk wrapped around a razorblade.

21 year-old South London artist Matt Maltese brings his debut album Bad Contestant – set for release on 1st June via Atlantic Records.

The record, a culmination of 12 days spent in Foxygen instigator Jonathan Rado’s Los Angeles studio and many hours of sessions with Londoner Alex Burey, displays a no-less-than stunning leap forward in songwriting confidence from the already critically acclaimed young musician.

Credited with steering the lush sounding debut albums from Whitney and the Lemon Twigs, as well as Father John Misty’s forthcoming material, Jonathan Rado has helped drench the record with Californian atmospherics, drawing out Matt’s sweetly drifting vocals over a swell of jubilant guitars, brass and drums. Featuring reworked versions of fan favourites and previous singles ‘Strange Time’ and ‘As The World Caves In’ amongst nine beautiful new tracks, Bad Contestant is a grand coming-of-age album packed with Matt’s typically complex, witty melancholy and uplifting melodies.

A supergroup of members from Fat White Family, Childhood and more – plus a schoolteacher on vibes calling himself Steely DanInsecure Men play a kind of skronked Ariel Pink-style exotica, where rudimentary drum machines patter behind psych-pop ballads about Cliff Richard, teenage sexuality and Penge.

In many ways Insecure Men – the band led by the fiercely talented songwriter and musician Saul Adamczewski and his schoolmate and stabilising influence, Ben Romans-Hopcraft – are the polar opposite of the Fat White Family. Whereas sleaze-mired, country-influenced, drug-crazed garage punks the Fat Whites are a “celebration of everything that is wrong in life”, Insecure Men, who blend together exotica, easy listening, lounge and timeless pop music, are, by comparison at least, the last word in wholesomeness.

The band originally formed in 2015 in the cramped confines of The Queens Head pub, Stockwell, in the Fat White Family’s notorious South London ‘practice space’. Saul recorded all of the songs he wrote at The Queens Head onto tape at Sean Lennon’s studio in upstate New York. This tape, recorded on his own in a corridor onto an ancient Tascam while in a foul mood with his mates, essentially became Insecure Men’s self-titled debut album as more layers were dubbed over the top until nothing of the original demos remained.

Saul lists some of the influences on their sound, mentioning the exotica of Arthur Lyman, the early electronic pop of Perrey and Kingsley, the supreme smoothness of The Carpenters, the songwriting chops of Harry Nilsson and the hypnagogic uncanniness conjured up by David Lynch, describing what they do as “pretty music with a dark underbelly to it”.


Shame thrives on confrontation. Whether it be the seething intensity crackling throughout debut LP Songs of Praise or the adrenaline-pumping chaos that unfolds at Shame’s shows, it’s all fuelled by feeling.

Comprised of vocalist Charlie Steen, guitarists Sean Coyle-Smith and Eddie Green, bassist John Finerty, and drummer Charlie Forbes, the London-based five-piece began as school boys. From the outset, Shame built the band up from a foundation of DIY ethos while citing The Fall and Wire among its biggest musical influences. Utilizing both the grit and sincerity of that musical background, Shame carved out a niche in the South London music scene and then barreled fearlessly into the angular, thrashing post-punk that would go on to make up Songs of Praise, their Dead Oceans debut. From Gold Hole, a tongue-in-cheek takedown of rock narcissism, to lead single Concrete detailing the overwhelming moment of realizing a relationship is doomed, to the frustrated Tasteless taking aim at the monotony of people droning through their day-to- day.

The notion, however, that a scrappy post-punk band may have to deal with old-school rock stardom isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. They’re as ferocious as their acknowledged inspirations the Fall; even when the guitars aren’t turned up to a jet roar, Steen’s furious sneer gives them urgency (“My voice ain’t the best you’ve heard / And you can choose to hate my words / But do I give a fuck?” he asks on One Rizla). Best of all, though, they have huge, anthemic tunes to go with the anger.

I think the idea of the leather jacket-wearing, womanising, drug-fuelled rock star should be burned,” says Charlie Steen, the 20-year-old singer of Shame, who are 2018’s angriest, shoutiest young British guitar band.

“Destroyed for ever,” says the 21-year-old drummer, Charlie Forbes. “But at the same time,” adds Sheen, “with a lot of people I’ve grown up loving, like Bowie or Iggy Pop, there’s an attraction to someone who lives a lifestyle you’ll never be able to live, and you couldn’t live, because it’s so dysfunctional and damaging to you as a person. You can almost live your life through them.”

Steen thinks for a moment, then outlines the simple reason why Shame won’t become rock stars. “That lifestyle could only exist because of money. Bands can’t go out now and get a kilo of coke or drive to Las Vegas in a Ferrari. Now it’s get a gram of speed and sit in a Travelodge. That’s the reality of it.”.

Shame formed when the five members were in their mid-teens and bumped along anonymously for a while, part of a nascent south London scene of bands drawn together through mutual friends that also included HMLTD, Goat Girl and Dead Pretties. Over the past year, all four bands transcended their free-party origins, getting signed, getting acclaimed and forming the nucleus of something that’s been missing in British music for some time: an exciting, youthful guitar scene whose participants are not grimly fixated on securing their slice of the post-Britpop lads-with-lagers crowd.

The scene, they say, was more the result of necessity than anything else: when few of their friends liked guitar bands, those who did would group together. “It was weird to meet people the same age as you who liked the same music,” Steen says. “Lots of people we knew at school were into popping pills and going to techno nights. But then we started meeting these people who were engaged with something we didn’t think existed.”

Shame formed around the Queen’s Head pub in Brixton, the former headquarters of the Fat White Family. Forbes’s dad was a friend of the landlord, who let the young band rehearse in an upstairs room (“Every day,” Forbes says. “Just hop on the bus to the after school club”). There they met assorted luminaries and recidivists of the south London music scene, but managed to avoid the worst excesses of the Fat Whites and their friends, largely through being too young to realise they were hanging around with committed hard drug users (“We were oblivious,” Forbes says).

They stumbled over lucky break after lucky break. Not just getting a free rehearsal space for 15 months, until the Queen’s Head was converted into a gastropub, but meeting people who then gave them studio space, and getting free advice from musicians who had been chewed up and spat out by major labels. What they learned was the importance of keeping as much control as possible over their decisions, which led them to sign to indie imprint Dead Oceans for their debut album, Songs of Praise. They also think the very grime of the Queen’s Head shaped them into being Shame: “I don’t think if we had started in a squeaky clean studio it would have been the same,” Forbes says.

‘We started meeting these people who were engaged with something we didn’t think existed’ ... Shame.

They are less interested in offering comfort than demanding resolve: “We like to confront those who have committed acts of injustice, by writing snippy songs about them,” Forbes says. Just before last year’s general election they released one such song about the prime minister, Visa Vulture. “With each day the vacuous Mrs May steers our country closer and closer into the darkness and confusion that is Brexit, no doubt securing the best deal for herself and her cronies in the Conservative party,” they wrote on YouTube. “We would like to take this opportunity to humiliate and debase her frankly evil political record even further with this, the world’s worst love song.”

But given they’re still so young – all five members are 20 or 21 – they sometimes haven’t worked out where their principles are taking them. So there’s a mild disagreement between Forbes and Steen over whether they would let their music be used in a TV advert by some particularly awful company.

“No chance,” Forbes says. “No chance.” Then Steen recalls the Fat Whites turning down £100,000 from easyJet. “They wanted to use Whitest Boy on the Beach. Lias [Saoudi, the Fat Whites’ singer] said the biggest mistake of his life was not taking the hundred grand. But until we have to make that decision …”

Forbes interrupts, surprised that Steen is deciding band policy on his own. “Oh no, there’s no way.”

The pair keep taking extreme positions, then realising they have to pull back from them, that their principles are racing away from practicality. When asked how they will respond when their crowd starts to include the beered-up geezers who tend to follow popular and boisterous guitar bands, Forbes says: “If I ever looked down from the stage and saw that, I would probably quit.”

Steen interrupts: “We wanna get rid and dissolve …” Forbes interrupts back: “Dissolve is too nice a word. Incinerate.”

And then Steen realises that suggesting pre-emptive incineration of their fans is, perhaps, a bit much. “We’re not going to discriminate against any person who comes to our show unless they do something unjust. But we don’t want to project any image of laddish behaviour. I’ve spoken to girls who feel that if they go into the pit they are going to get knocked about by older guys. And when that happens, you have to make a point to the crowd. We don’t want to stop anyone having fun, but we don’t want anyone to be hurt or harassed in any way.”

Their instinct for confrontation might make that a tightrope act. In one French TV appearance Steen, dressed in a T-shirt reading “Je suis Calais”, strutted across the presenters’ table and licked an audience member’s face – pick the wrong person for that, and he might well find himself called out on social media for the very things Forbes says the band want to avoid.

It’s oddly charming listening to a band working out what they think as they go along. For all the apparent certainties of Songs of Praise, for all their reputation for provocation – and the thrilling, tumbling rush of their music – they are very well aware of the limitations of being a rock band and of how damaging to mind and body it could be.

Last month, as Shame finished their year with a jaunt around Germany as a support slot, Steen had to call a stop to things. He was getting panic attacks; he wasn’t digesting his food; he was vomiting 15 times a day. “In that month we toured America, Canada, I did eight press days in Europe and London, played a show in Paris and then went on tour in Germany. Sitting in a van in the pitch black, and you’re in Hanover surrounded by snow and nothing else, and there’s only indistinguishable meat available … it can get you down.”

Over the next 12 months, Shame will take Songs of Praise around the world, to more and more people who will force them to confront their self-image as the band who are against things, whatever things happen to be on their minds. A band this exciting aren’t going to be allowed to sit still for long – in the weeks before they go to Australia at the end of January they are writing for their second album, because there will be no chance once the touring begins. They had better get used to the idea of more cans, more pitch black and even more indistinguishable meat, and not just in Hanover.

So might they become rock stars after all? Forbes suggests the very notion is “quite incredibly dated”, and Steen chips in. “Offensive as well, in a lot of ways. It will be a white male, skinny, perfect hair, who sleeps with women daily.”

That’s your principled position – but wouldn’t you really like to be rock stars, given the chance? “I’d just like a house with a pool table,” Steen says.

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Songs of Praise is released on Dead Oceans on 12th January.


Peckham London quartet Tangerines share their brand new single “Long Way Home”, another finger-licking instalment of juicy indie-rock. reminiscent of say Graham Parker or Elvis Costello, echoes of the barbed guitars of The Modern Lovers combine with the lyrical trash-poetic aesthetic of Willie Deville – before opening up, culminating amidst prangs of lapsteel and wailing saxophone, wrapped up in the band’s signature skewed country stomp.

Formed in Peckham in 2014 by singer and guitarist Gareth Hoskins and childhood friend and drummer Isaac Robson, Tangerines are fast-finding their groove; flourishing in their artistic solace between the anxieties of economic uncertainty in their base in South London. ‘We work hard and it really takes a busload of fate to be an out of pocket musician these days, but you do it because it is the only way to stay alive’, they offer.
Speaking on the track, they continue:

“It’s got that jerk-a-jerk feel all about it. Shimmy on down the drainpipe and crawl out through the rain. That, and a handful of Julee Cruise records on repeat, whilst this also being the first song we actually wrote as a four-piece is what made Long Way Home very close to home”. Coming hot on the heels of glam debut You Look Like Something I Killed, it carries the same swagger, adding prangs of lap steel and wailing saxophone into their salacious South London mix.

After bubbling under the surface honing their craft in cramped Peckham practice rooms, sweaty euphoric performances at the likes of The Great Escape Festival, Field Day Festival and BST Hyde Park, twinned with spins from the likes of 6 Music, Beats, Radio X and nods from the likes of Q Magazine and NME . Tangerines throw themselves into their music headfirst and whether ‘[they] play in front of a thousand or to only ten people, that glimpse of energy keeps [them] alive’.
Tangerines are: Gareth Hoskins (Vocals, Guitar), Miles Prestia (Guitar), Isaac Robson (Drums), Ricky Clark (Bass)

The track was recorded by Syd Kemp at RIP Studios and mixed by Hookworms’ MJ.



“Bitter Town” is the new single from Inheaven, set for release on 30th October. The track will be premiered on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 show on Wednesday 9th September. The pop melodies meet walls of guitar and epic drums on “Bitter Town”. Vocals emerge from the musical landscape and perfectly showcase this incredibly creative force-of-nature four-piece from South London.

“Bitter Town” follows the debut single “Regeneration”. Released on Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records,

With great support from specialist Radio 1 came from Annie Mac and Huw Stephens with the track receiving multiple plays. Inheaven are currently gearing up for the DIY Neu! Tour which begins in October. A Co-headline tour, the band will be joined on the road by The Big Moon and VANT. This is the band’s first tour and comes after a handful of dates including a show-stopping performance at Field Day in London earlier this year.

Inheaven, however, don’t just dream big. They act like there’s one train left out of town and they’ve four precious minutes to catch it. Inheaven have already got Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas’ seal of approval, releasing their debut single ‘Regeneration’ on his Cult Records label in the US earlier this year (the track got a release on up-and-coming new label AMF Records over here). Now they’re following it up with an even more promising cut in ‘Bitter Town’. It’s a dose of gloomy ’80s-indebted indie rock, recalling Jesus And Mary Chain and Echo & The Bunnymen in its expansive atmosphere and echoing vocals.

With ‘Bitter Town’, the South London group sing about how everything around them is “made out of plastic”, how love is the only key to happiness that they can find.



Ultra-lo-fi, but Happyness’ ‘Weird Little Birthday’ is nonetheless stuffed full of rich melodies and arch lyrical observations. The band Happyness are a 3 piece band from South London, formed of multi-instrumentalists Ash Cooper, Benji Compston and Jonny Allan. After forming in early 1973, the band went on hiatus pending their births and the sufficient progress of the affordable digital audio interface market. Regrouping in 2013, the band spent Saturday nights playing under a railway bridge in Bermondsey. By mid-2013, having written “most of an album” they rented out an unused church with the intention of setting up a studio and finishing the record there. That ended after less than a week with only one song tracked – they were driven out by “the bitter cold and an unconvinced congregation of the dead”. (Unintentionally significantly the song was “Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)”).

Relocating to their affectionately named “Jelly Boy Studios” (a one-time carpentry warehouse and butterfly commune an hour or so outside of London), the band self-produced their debut album and the songs that would become their debut EP.
Before the recording sessions, the band had played a handful of shows under a variety of names (“something to put on the flyers”), but the name Happyness wasn’t used until November 2013, when the band started playing live in the build up to the release of their eponymous EP – mixed by Ed Harcourt.

The album – “Weird Little Birthday” – was mixed by Adam Lasus (Yo La Tengo, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and features Ed Harcourt singing on “Pumpkin Noir” and was released to great acclaim in the UK in the Summer of 2014. They have made various attempts to spread the rumour that Jonny Allan is the forgotten son and heir to the Terry Richardson empire, but those have all failed pretty conclusively. Their approach to writing and recording music means that roles within the band are fairly fluid, but Jonny Allan and Benji Compston do lead vocals and Ash Cooper does drums.

The BEACH – ” Thieves “

Posted: February 19, 2015 in MUSIC
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The Beach is a Hozier/Rhodes/James Bay of a singer-songwriter, one of those sensitive troubadour types with a quavery voice, a chip off the old Jeff Buckley block. But be warned: there is some rocking out towards the end of his debut track, Thieves. Anyway, he’s very “now” in the sense that the sound of 1994 (the same year Grace was released) is very now. Apart from that, little is known about The Beach, although the departing Zane Lowe loves him (course he does) and he apparently lives in Clapham, South London, where he kickstarted his career, literally, by booting a football into his future producer’s back garden. On his Facebook page, he’s written an open letter of sorts, explaining his motives – “It’s hard to say what The Beach is about … You can only jump in head first and let it take you to a place that your imagination can’t” – which you will either regard as specious waffle or poetic insight that marks him out as your favourite new artist.

OSCA – ” Blood “

Posted: October 1, 2014 in MUSIC
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South London based band Osca, met as friend at University  their first issued track “Blood” emotionally charged, slow building and as catchy as hell