Posts Tagged ‘Speedy Wunderground Records’

Silk For The Starving EP

New post-punk teenagers and latest Speedy Wunderground singings The Lounge Society hail from in and around the Pennine towns of Hebden Bridge and Todmorden in the Calder valley of West Yorkshire. There the rain falls two hundred days a year upon the moss-draped, post-industrial ruins, the clouds scud overhead at speed and up on the heathered moor-tops carrion crows hungrily peck at the skulls of dead sheep.

But down below, magical things are afoot. strongholds of independent-living, Todmorden, where the quartet cut their teeth, is known for its abundance of magic mushrooms and as the ufo-sighting capital of Britain, while four miles down the road, the steep-sided hippy idyll of Hebden Bridge has been called “a drug town with a tourist problem”. either way, this stretch of valley 25 miles from the centre of Manchester in which the band operate is the type of backwater that is attractive to outlaws of various varieties, as well as artists, writers and all-round miscreants for whom life in the city or the suburbs is just a little too straight. in Calderdale, culture is allowed to breathe.

More recently the valley has enjoyed a musical renaissance centred around the venues of the Trades club and the Golden Lion, a movement that some have glibly dubbed “the Calderfornia sound”, and which has recently spawned working men’s club and the Orielles….and now The Lounge Society. “growing up 5 minutes down the road from both venues has been hugely influential for us,” they say. “sneaking in the back door when we were 14 years old and having to keep our heads down in order to watch the House of Love or Peter Hook was the making of us.”

Like any musical movement worth its salt, it’s not one that the bands themselves might willingly admit to being a part of, yet there must be something in the water. for while their contemporaries deal in jangle pop and contemporary rave, The Lounge Society – who met at their local high school in nearby Mytholmroyd (otherwise famous as the birth-place of poet Ted Hughes) – explore something more raucous. it’s a sound shot through with the adrenalized and undeniable youthful surges that informed both proto- and post-punk, with the velvet underground, talking heads and Fat White Family cited as shared influences. on their debut ep “Silk For The Starving” there’s a rawness which belies a self-assured song writing slickness that is almost alarming for four teenagers.

in tracks such as ‘Cain’s Heresy’ and their pulsing, paranoid reverb-laden debut single ‘Generation Game’ (released as a limited edition seven-inch on Speedy Wunderground in march 2020) there’s a sense of the anthemic too. the latter track, with its “What Will the Us Do?” tag-line was bursting with so many ideas it was split over two sides of the same piece of vinyl. One reviewer remarked on it being a collision of beta band ambition, Fat Whites rabble-rousing and early Roxy Music sheen.

Little wonder they were spotted and swiftly signed to the UK’s coolest and best small indie label (an accolade Speedy Wunderground officially won at the aim awards) in late summer 2020. Speedy, less we forget, have already gifted the world with some of the best new bands of their generation: Black Midi, Squid, Warmduscher, Black Country New Road and others.

Recorded with producer Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Bat for Lashes, Fontaines d.c.) as soon as covid-10 lockdown restrictions were lifted, “Silk For The Starving” crackles with the type of listless, nervous energy that comes when you’re teenager who has been denied all the simple pleasures in life, and you’ve been robbed of a precious summer that you’ll never get back.

‘Cains Heresy’ – Produced by Dan Carey Out February 18th at 6PM on Speedy Wunderground

‘Burn The Heather’ struts with brittle a certain ratio/tom club-style funk and takes its title from the annual local ritual burning of the moor-top heather by the rich rural landowners for their lucrative grouse-shoots (and which those down in the valley blame on causing frequent flooding), while also recycling a line from a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem. “our lyrics are a call-to-arms for people who share our dismay at the dismal future being carved out for people like us,” the band explain. “we want each line to be a brick through the window of just the right people.” 

The complex spikey prog-punk arrangements of ‘Television’ meanwhile, most recall the band for which the song is named, but with the type of ragged groove that Happy Mondays might have stuck on for hours in their early garage days. this is music that follows a strong north-west lineage whose roots reach deep into Manchester’s past, yet without ever once resorting to nostalgia. it’s future-facing. elsewhere there’s plenty of sardonic sloganeering akin to mark e. smith were he lost in the rolling news of twitter feeds that tell of corrupt presidents, useless prime ministers, race hate, rising debt, online trolls, empty celebrity culture, poisonous ideals and the general sense that the western world is in a tailspin freefall towards complete disintegration.

“There is an anger in the lyrics because we are angry, but we are angry at how fucked the world has become,” they say. “but our anger is not just speculative. we want to do our part in setting things right, little by little, and music is a tried and tested means of doing that.”

If this is the case then The Lounge Society are going down swinging with a glorious soundtrack that could only be made in the here and the now. “genocide makes for good tv!” yells Davey on ‘Television’, while ‘Cain’s Heresy’ tells of “the face of a nation – bloodied and bruised”. the ep’s raucous closer ‘Valley Bottom Fever’ depicts life in a “Lonely town with a lonely state of mind” and tackles the subject of the twisted mindset that takes hold when one doesn’t leave the sun-starved place in which they live often enough. in Calderdale they call it valley bottom fever.

The Lounge Society sing about what they know, then. make no mistake, this is the sound of young England: articulate, enraged and energised. and – perhaps crucially – highly danceable too. it should give hope to anyone who has lost faith in the future, because here the future is in safe hands.

The Lounge Society are: Cameron Davey (vocals/bass), Herbie May (guitar), Hani Paskin-Hussain (guitar) and Archie Dewis (drums).

The debut EP by The Lounge Society, ‘Silk For The Starving’, out June 18th on Speedy Wunderground Records.

Squid

Squid have fast become one of Britain’s most exciting new bands .Open the tabloids and it’s all avocado toast and selfie sticks, but there’s far more to millennial life than the papers would have you believe. Just ask Squid – the Brighton band whose breakout single ‘Houseplants’ has made them the unassuming spokespeople of young frustration.

A frantic, punky ode to the indecision and anger that drives the lives of British youth, ‘Houseplants’ has deservedly racked up radio play and near-universal praise. Atop an incessant, stomping beat, the five-piece’s drummer-vocalist Ollie Judge barks his way through oh-so-relatable topics with a rolling-eyed delivery: “We speak about our days, yeah, we speak about a raise / Everybody’s bored, we’re just too afraid to say,” he snarks, before turning his attention to the rise in houseplant ownership amongst the younger generations – often pinned as a replacement for children, pets, or other such responsibilities: “Houseplants, houseplants / We squeeze it at night, oh, we squeeze it so tight.”

Maybe one of the most hyped bands and deservedly so, in the country right now, partly due to their breakout single ‘Houseplants’, but mainly because of their unbelievably tight live show. It’s an exhilarating and breathtaking onslaught of funky basslines, intense vocals and zippy guitars. Miss them at your peril.

“It’s been really surprising, and we’ve felt so warm towards the people who’ve played it, or shown it to people, or heard it once and then come to shows,” says Ollie. “I was living in London without and money,” he says of its creation, “Getting paid pretty well, but then having to put over half my earnings into just having a house, and having to live on like £200 a month. I was very pissed off with the state of things,” he shrugs.

“It could be perceived to be quite a chaotic, shouty, fun song,” says percussionist and keyboardist Arthur Leadbetter, “but the subject matter is far from fun. And also, the music is hysterical.It’s what we’re all feeling.” Guitarist Louis Borlase agrees: “We were all working full-time, and we’d only have two, maybe three hours to get in a rehearsal space and write something. That urgency probably shaped the way it feels.”

Unusually for a song with quite so much radio love, ‘Houseplants’ is also undeniably weird. Completed by Laurie Nankivell on bass and brass, and second guitarist Anton Pearson, Squid’s breakout hit is a sprawling, hulking mass of gloopy sounds, dissonant guitar-work and Ollie’s throat-shredding yell, all capped off with a Pandora’s Box of odd percussion and electronic addition – as such, it’s the perfect introduction to the oddball band. Bonding over left-field bands like Neu! and This Heat, Squid’s love of the avant-garde was cemented from day dot. It’s their lyrical relatability which sets them apart from those groups, though. “I’ve definitely always liked bands which might be quite out-there instrumentally, but keep it all in one spot lyrically,” says Laurie. “I think keeping it accessible, but still weird, is definitely the goal,” says Ollie.

With those inspirational oddities in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that, their go-to producer Dan Carey (Black Midi, Kate Tempest) and the band opted not to cover the usual Live Lounge fodder. Instead, they took on experimental composer Steve Reich’s ‘Clapping Music’ – a poly-rhythmic piece designed, as the title suggests, to be performed anywhere, simply by whacking your hands together. Squid being Squid, though, have adapted it for their full-band set-up, horns and all. Oh, and they added lyrics, which are taken from an interview Reich did on the piece, years ago.

“I’ve always been aware of the piece, and always wanted to perform it with somebody – and then I saw the app,” grins Arthur, referencing an app designed specifically to help budding clappers nail ‘Clapping Music’’s odd rhythm.  “It changed my… life, really,” ha adds, to a tableful of laughter. That app helped them through – or possibly contributed to – the madness of the band’s SXSW schedule in March, which saw them performing six shows in just five days, all across Austin, Texas. In between those shows, they’d collectively sit on the porch of their Air BnB, clapping away. “I think it contributed to the madness, definitely,” laughs Ollie.

Madness is where Squid thrive, in fairness. Their two singles to date, ‘Houseplants’ and last year’s ‘The Dial’, were recorded and released by Speedy Wunderground – the label-meets-studio-space of Dan Carey. Not content with the typical route of recording a new guitar band, Dan goes full bonkers with the recording process, insisting the bands play everything live, in a single day, in complete darkness, and filling the room with smoke and lasers. Your typical bedroom studio, this is not.

The combination of Carey and Squid seems like a match made in heaven. It all kicked off from a doting email from Ollie to the South London wunderkind producer (“I think I said, ‘Our recordings are shit, can you make them better?’” says Ollie, “We didn’t even email anyone else”), and has now culminated in Squid’s new EP to be the first non-single release on Speedy Wunderground.

Recording the EP over four days, rather than one, allowed for the bells, whistles and odd instrumentation that make Squid shine to really come into their own – particularly on a day in the studio they dubbed ‘Arthur Day’. “There were about 16 layers of cello,” Arthur laughs. “I actually really wanted a cigarette all day, but every time I’d finish tracking something, there’s another part that relied on me.”

“I always call percussion the ‘fish sauce’ of music,” says Arthur. “If you take the percussion out of a song, it’s never gonna sound the same. But the untrained palette won’t know what’s missing. I love Brazilian percussion instruments – my favourite percussion instruments are the ones that aren’t just percussion, but are also a rhythm,” he adds, citing the cuica, the berimbau and the güiro as particular favourites in his box of oddities.

“It’s quite experimental,” says Dan Carey of the record. “It’s all contained within accessible frameworks, but there’s a lot going on. Having a bit more time enabled us to go a bit deeper. And the fact we’re doing it for our label means we can do literally whatever we want.”

There’s some “real tender moments” on the record too, they tease. “Are the Yorkshire post-punks gonna like it?!” quips Ollie, to another table-wide laugh.

It’s a record that, with the band’s reputation for bolshy bangers like ‘Houseplants’ and ‘The Dial’ now firmly established, is sure to turn some heads. Squid are confident in their ability to push boundaries though.

“We formed over that love of ambient music, and jazz music, and stuff like that,” says Laurie, “and I think this EP’s the perfect blend – the punky, but the more thoughtful experimental music, too. I think it’s a good way of being – not influenced by any one scene too much; just doing the weird shit.”

Squid’s new EP will be released via Speedy Wunderground.