Summer is taking the piss now. We might as well delete the weather apps, ignore the forecast before Match of the Day, and just look out the window, and step outside each morning. Aborted camping in Brecon Beacons due to predicted thunderstorms across the south of the UK that never materialised, now back at the grindstone and it’s going to push 30C. Fucking hell. Might as well enjoy it whilst it lasts (probably not very long but I’m probably wrong). Stick this weeks TOTW in your ears and bliss out for a bit. Scorcher.
Mumbles – Everything Just Sprawls
Why we love it: because it’s a really uplifting and infectious song with additional support from members of my favourites Tape Runs Out, Clare on vocals and Liam on guitar, adding heft and levity to a Polyphonic Spree communal, ensemble cast of players all playing the one melody creating an almost gospel cacophany.
Described as a “euphoric ode to cardio and dissociation” it is the first taste from their debut LP In The Pocket Of Big Sad which is imminent.
They describe it thusly: “Yoga, long distance running and cycling are all explored as ways to escape the self and numb the brain. Frontperson Jacob uses being knocked off their bike by a car to reconnect with reality, begrudgingly accepting that injuries and crises are part of what makes us fully realised adults”. (Jim Auton)
O Hell – Hard Times
Why we love it: because it’s another ethereal and broad step away from Lucy Sheehan AKA O Hell‘s other band Projector who are a classic three piece punk rock. This is a slice of Industrial alternative pop, heavy clattering drums greet you in the chorus after a minimal, twinkling verse with what sounds like radio samples and subtle percussion, shot through with urgent melody.
Lucy explains “I wrote the chorus in about five minutes, but then George and I kicked it around for weeks before he moved to San Diego. Ben and I visited him there in North Park a few months later, and maybe it needed a bit of that Californian sunshine, ‘cus we finished it as soon as we got back. We started adding on little samples and field recordings that started to provide the verses’ glazed fairground atmosphere. One is a phone recording of when my friend and stylist Abi were being accosted by some council bloke trying to fine us. That’s on there…the sound of Brighton in the summer. That adult fairground atmosphere is definitely there lyrically too, maybe in response to San Diego itself, all the gas station watermelon and donuts”. (Jim Auton)
W.H. Lung – High Pressure Days
Why we love it: A futuristic kick in the solar plexus, this track shrugs off the weight of the ‘rat race’ and urges you to shake free from those shackles. I love it. This track is both nostalgic and a joyride into the space age. Blending krautrock, post-punk, and synthpop this is a fresh take on the original ‘High-Pressure days’ released in 1979 by San Francisco synth-punks The Units and this is the perfect compliment to the band’s musical evolution.
Fizzing with energy, like their live shows, this track sees the Manchester pioneers at their most direct. A stomp through a busy city, hustling along like a late rush hour train, the joint vocals of Joseph Evans & Hannah Peace run through block after block of frantic drums & squealing theremin. The track offers ‘ psychedelic salvation” to anyone stuck in a “cyclical white-collar nightmare” and the video, directed by Craig Mclaughlin is a joy to behold. As the band prepare for their debut headline tour of the US, this track is a timeless reflection of the modern human condition and a bona fide banger to boot. (Carmel Walsh)
Carla J Easton – Sugar Honey
Why we love it: Glasgow’s pop auteur Carla J. Easton returns with a ace, refreshing shot of joyous, sugar rushing pop, it’s the the title track from her upcoming fourth studio album SUGAR HONEY, due for release on 20 October 2023 via Olive Grove Records. Carla says: “SUGAR HONEY is my celebration of pop in all its many forms and sub genres. A love of my record collection shining through in new writing. I’m not reinventing the wheel, I’m just giving it a good, hard spin. These songs are me being me – exploring my obsession with all things pop.” This brilliant new offering, Carla expertly balances, bittersweet earworm wordplay that pulls and pushes against chiming guitars and an addictive melody that bursts into the outro on a carousel of infectious percussion. There’s a tantalising quality here that echoes the feeling when you are in love with the one you can’t have..
Carla found herself listening to Kylie’s Impossible Princess album, plus records by Aimee Mann, Taylor Swift and WET. “It’s the sound of Kylie making weird alt pop that is still so undeniably Kylie,” she says. “To me it’s incredibly inspiring – the pure guitar pop of ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’ juxtaposed with the synth bliss of ‘Breathe’. All these albums probably fed into my writing subconsciously. Lyrically I wanted to balance out finer details with utter nonsense. Sparkling light with dark emotions. I’m really interested in how we recall memories and relay them back to ourselves, reflect on the past to push forward, and I wanted to explore improvisation as a means of songwriting – shaking off everything you know and all the rules and going with what ‘feels’ right…” (Bill Cummings)
Traxx – Overstand
Why we love it: Cardiff rap artist Traxx is back and recently shared ‘Overstand’ single ahead of debut solo project Sporting Peace that’s out now. With a pleasing sway that ripples with a rippling , and a confident and witty delivery Traxx flips the phrase understand and makes it a confident proclamation of his history, growth and artistry. Intercut with a hooky sing along chorused, that lifts back into bars, splashes of saxophone samples and dub influenced collabs, there’s a reliance and inventiveness about the entire production that’s a step above generic hip hop, it’s an impressive cut from his new album that I am excited to hear. Traxx is another impressive voice in the burgeoning Welsh hip hop scene. (Bill Cummings)
Umarells – You’re Not Here
Why we love it: Manchester’s Umarells take their name from an Italian word referencing retired men who watch construction sites offering unwelcome advice. Umarells craft arms-wide open sumptuous dream-pop with a heart on its sleeve. Their debut track ‘You’re Not Here’ released 3rd November 2023 via Fear of Missing Out Records, muses on walking away from unhealthy relationship. There’s a wonderful lucidness to the singer Imogen’s wistful vocals in a hazy background of their pleasingly loose sound: with dappling guitars that sound like raindrops on a window pane and twinkling percussion that carefully steps between the cracks on the pavement. Gorgeous.
‘You’re not here’ is a bit of a liberation song.” Imogen explains. “I wrote this when I felt free of a relationship and able to do as I please without being told I couldn’t. As the song builds at the end it’s a cathartic release of the past, a bit of an ode to a siren.”
Despite members of Umarells being old friends from school, university flatmates and even colleagues at an Indian restaurant for years – it was a spontaneous trip to the seaside town of Blackpool that re-ignited the musical flame within these four friends.
Their humble beginnings hark back to Josh Yeung (Vocals / Guitar) and Imogen Badrock (Vocals / Synth) getting home from working at the Indian restaurant and making demo’s into the wee hours. (Bill Cummings)
Morgan Harper- Jones – Main Character
Morgan Harper-Jones recently shared her new single, ‘Main Character’, available now through Play It Again Sam. The new track tails recent single ‘Forever For Now’, Morgan’s follow up to 2022 EP While You Lay Sound Asleep, (produced by Luke Smith – Foals, with co-writes from Eg White & Keaton Henson) ‘Main Character’ – produced by Iain Archer (Jake Bugg, Snow Patrol) – is streaming across all platforms from here.
Rochdale-raised, London-based Morgan describes ‘Main Character’ as, ‘an anxiety-spiral-slideshow featuring all of my biggest regrets, safely decanted into a 3 minute 30 second song”, With an immersive intensity and ability to connect her songs to emotions this is another impressive offering ripe with self awareness and underscored by wry humour. Building from small beginnings this travel through her flood of worry, into a cathartic outro. “It was very cathartic and necessary to scream, to get all the gross feelings out” Morgan deadpans. It’s another superlative offering from this songwriter who has an ability to craft wonderful songs that tap into the depth of trauma and pain.
The new single is lifted from Morgan’s forthcoming debut album, a body of material written in the wake of the deaths of her Grandparents, a seismic loss to reckon with since they had solely raised her from a young age. “I’d never lost anyone before,” Morgan explains, “and that loss I think comes through on several of these news songs. It’s also about me reflecting on myself in light of that loss, like who I am as a person and how I react to things.” Harper-Jones says she found answers in therapy – particularly, she says, about grief and her mental health. “There was a period of time where I was obsessed with self-correcting. I think lockdown gave me too much time to think and I was convinced I was an asshole,” she laughs. “I was panicking about silly things I did when I was younger and having flashbacks to every mistake I thought I’d ever made. I was constantly looking for reassurance, praise, a gold star – I was desperate for someone to tell me what I was doing was okay.” (Bill Cummings)