We’ve been collating our lists for the end of the year here at GIITTV towers, best of 2023 podcasts are being recorded and albums are being voted for. However, some of these are now being ripped up and files deleted as we have to add some of the below to them. We’ll let you decide which are late inclusions. Only a few TOTW left but there’ll be a festive edition nearer Christmas. Enjoy these ruddy gems.
Braithe – Jackals
Why we love it: Having stepped off the music-making map for nigh on four years, the Leeds-based singer and songwriter and man behind the estimable PR company, Hanglands, Harry Ridgway is now back in the guise of his new project, Braithe. And what is even more he has returned with a superb single, ‘Jackals’.
Both on his own as a previous solo artist and then as a member of the Leeds DIY band, Cruel World, Ridgway has always had a good ear for a melody. And ‘Jackals’ confirms that time away from the creative world has not diminished that ability.
Recorded at Greenmount Studios in Leeds with producer Rob Slater (Yard Act, Crake) and mixed by Jamie Lockhart (The Cribs, Mush) ‘Jackals’ features musicians including Slater (Carpet, Crake, Mi Mye, The Spills), Ben Lewis (Spielmann, Ruthie, Bruising, Menace Beach) and Ellen Smith (Shadowlark, Ellen & The Escapades). And this impressive line-up of local talent has helped Braithe come into the musical world with something a bit special.
With shades of early 70’s Neil Young and latter-day Jason Molina, ‘Jackals’ conveys those similar feelings of haunted anguish which draw the listener towards cracks that appear in the human condition. Yet for all of its sublimated darkness, Braithe’s first offering possesses an intrinsic beauty all of its own. (Simon Godley)
Kid Bookie – AI (Save Yourself)
Why we love it: Kid Bookie (aka Tyronne Hill) shares new single ‘AI (Save Yourself)’. And this needs to be played LOUD. Switching between metal, rock and hip-hop the anger and fury spills over in this track. It’s raucous and heavy but absolutely anthemic. The theme looks at the future of music from an artist’s perspective, contemporary concerns for the impact of AI. The track is taken from the forthcoming album Songs For The Living // Songs For The Dead was self-produced by Bookie and mixed by infamous producer/engineer Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me the Horizon, Nova Twins, Holding Absence).
Bookie explains further on the new track: “I wanted to prod and jest a subject that’s kind of new territory for music and in its infancy. It’s cool to listen to Michael Jackson do screamo and System of a Down via AI manipulation or some shit, but there’s a darker side.
“I think the longer it’s left in the grey area, the more significant the impact it will be for artists and industry folk alike. But I’m not scared of computers, and I don’t think it will be some Terminator apocalypse, just another evolution that affects the art, for better or worse, who knows.“
Bookie is currently on tour in the UK with Bob Vylan, with their final show being on 25 November at The O2 Kentish Town Forum, London, and an album is in the works with a release date in the summer of 2024 via Marshall Records. (Julia Mason)
English Teacher – Mastermind Specialism
Why we love it: because, good grief, this is such a beautiful song, and a huge departure from ‘Nearly Daffodils’ and ‘Worlds Biggest Paving Slab’.
Starting with an arpeggio guitar and squealing feedback in the background, Lily Fontaine replaces the chaos with her vocals that feel like a poem recital, gorgeous decending piano appears like tears tumbling on to a page where these lyrics are being spilled. There is a gentle guitar lead after one chorus and then a looping bass line after another; every section of this brilliant band is given the limelight. Strings guide this home, a slow building crescendo. Spellbinding. If this isn’t the last song on their imminent debut LP then I think they need to take another look at the track listing. Stunning.
Lily said “Decision paralysis is an ache that has murmured in me through sitting on smaller fences, through to questioning my theology, my sexuality, my career and so on. Watching Jaco Van Dormael’s incredible sci-fi/fantasy ‘Mr Nobody’ put the cause and effect of this issue into perspective; my life has been consistent in its inconsistency. 12 different houses across the country and mixed-race I’ve always been a bit in-between and I think that’s where this song, and a lot of the songs we’re due to release, come from.” (Jim Auton)
The Fauns – Mixtape Days
Why we love it: Beginning life in 2007 the Bristolian band The Fauns may well have been posted missing from the recording studio for the best part of the last decade, but they are now certainly making up for lost time. They will release their eagerly awaited third album, How Lost on 19th January 2024 via Invada and have just shared their new single ‘Mixtape Days’ and its accompanying video. Some live dates, including three Rough Trade in-store appearances, are also planned for December and early next year.
Speaking about the album in general, the band’s bass guitarist Michael Savage says, “We were determined not to tread familiar ground with the third album. We consciously chose to veer away from shoegaze conventions, infusing our music with elements of electro and disco. It’s been a delicate balancing act, but we think it works nicely.”
‘Mixtape Days’ most certainly achieves those objectives. It is a heady, atmospheric amalgam of their hitherto more defined shoegaze sound and layers of more recently acquired industrial synth-pop. (Simon Godley)
O – ATM
Why we love it: O are the London-based duo of baritone saxophonist Joseph Henwood and drummer Tash Keary. They have released their new single ‘ATM’ on Speedy Wunderground. Joe and Tash ran a number of their own nights, O Zone, at Brixton Windmill which involved collaborating live. O. improvised onstage with artists including Nerija’s Rosie Turton, Edna from Goat Girl, Melt Yourself Down’s Pete Wareham and Steam Down’s Wonky Logic. Following a tour with Dublin’s Gilla Band O.’s music has been getting heavier, louder, more intense. As Tash explains: “People have come to see us and said they’ve enjoyed the fact it feels about two centimetres from falling apart. With two instruments, you have to push yourself, physically, right to the edge to keep it interesting. But we enjoy that challenge.”
Which brings us to ‘ATM’ and this background adds context to the track. It begins cleanly enough with a crisp percussion but it’s not long before the mayhem unfolds with the saxophone quite frankly all over the place. Then the whole vibe is completely ramped up. Is the saxophone playing a skewed version of the National Anthem? I’ll let you decide. There is no doubt that the instrumentation is the sound of dissatisfaction. Speaking on ‘ATM’, the duo expand saying: “’ATM’ is us getting angry and frustrated about some of the injustices and crazy bewildering things in the world. It’s a tune to celebrate fury, going on a journey releasing your anger then coming to a place of peace. We love seeing people getting their anger out to it live.”
There is a sense of back and forth between the calm, and the chaos which teeters on the edge. The listener has no idea where the track is going, which I suspect is the point. The single is taken from their debut EP Slice which is out 23 November and O. have a run of headline dates early next year with tickets now on sale. (Julia Mason)
The Family Battenburg – Rocket Dustbin
Why we love it: because it’s an absolute ball buster of a single. Coming after song of the year contender ‘Runny Hunny’ the Welsh quintet are teasing a longer player for the new year me thinks.
Cheekily announced as “A Stereophonic Recording by The Family Battenburg”, it’s got more gumption and heart than Kelly Jones has managed for 20 odd years.
Described on their social media as “…about aliens“, the lyric “where have you been travelling” seems to attest that they’re talking to little green men in flying saucers. Whatever the subject matter, it’s as big and fat as the big fatberg found in the sewer that time in Devon. About two hundred and ten foot of congealed fat. That’s how fat this song is. It’s a Family Fattenburg. (Jim Auton)
The Japanese House – Super Trouper
Why we love it: Because if your future is avatar-averse and you don’t really fancy paying those eye-watering sums to get into the virtual concert residency that is ABBA Voyage then this is most certainly the next best thing. In the real world, Amber Bain is in her regular creative guise as The Japanese House and she has just shared a stunning cover of the Swedish Fab Four’s 1980 number one hit single, ‘Super Trouper’.
Ahead of her headline tour of the UK in May of next year, The Japanese House has just released the ITEIAD Sessions, a collection of live versions of songs from her acclaimed second album, In The End It Always Does, plus this beautifully stripped-back, slowed-down take on ‘Super Trouper’. Here The Japanese House magnifies the subtle sadness and alienation that lies at the very heart of the song whilst retaining all the pop magic of the original melody. (Simon Godley)
Breichiau Hir – Penseiri
Why we love it: Breichiau Hir cleverly combine heart on the sleeve for all to see passion, heavy uncompromising rock with a definite and engaging melody. This is the first single released since Welsh Music Prize-shortlisted debut album in 2021 Hir Oes I’r Cof.
‘Penseiri’ (Thoughts) is inspired by reading Shirley Jackson’s short story ‘The Lottery’. I have now read that story and you can too, here. Do not read it, however, if of a sensitive nature. Or if you don’t enjoy good relations with your neighbours. It’s put me off even letting on to my neighbours, to be honest.
The song, however, is classic Breichiau Hir. ‘Penseiri was the first song written after our debut album. The song felt like a new direction, where we opted for a big riff as the hook for the song. We’ve played it live a few times and it’s one of the most fun to perform due to its explosive nature,” says singer and lyricist Steffan Dafydd.
‘The more I wrote and redrafted the lyrics, the focus shifted towards personal rituals and habits of individuals. These habits provide a deceptive sense of freedom and control, and ultimately contribute to the creation of their own prison. The song is written about the stage of finding comfort in your own prison.‘
‘Rotting in my comfortable palace.
It’s my coffin, it’s my world.
The flies are the ones that comfort me
No blue skies, just bad company
Black clouds will take over in pure silence
To drown everyday
To stay in and do nothing’
‘Penseiri’ a standalone single, is out now via Libertino; 2024 however, brings with it the promise of a second album from the band.
Breichiau Hir play Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff on 8 Dec. (Cath Holland)
TTSSFU – I Hope You Die
Why we love it: Newly signed to Manchester’s FOMO Records (Duvet, Umarells), DIY shoegazer TTSSFU has shared an ghostly new single ‘I Hope You Die’ from a forthcoming EP ‘Me, Jed and Andy’ due in February next year. An EP inspired by the now-infamous 12-year love affair between avant-garde artist Andy Warhol and interior designer/film director Jed Johnson – as portrayed in 2022 Netflix Docu-series The Andy Warhol Diaries – ‘I Hope You Die’ is nags with chiming guitars, tip toeing percussive brushes like bare feet scampering across the landing, balancing on a trapeze wire, spidery Cure-like guitars glimmer, as evocative and ever so slightly sinister melodies dance through the air, throwing spitefulness like bad luck spells upon a former partner. TTSSFU explains:
“‘The EP is all about how I related to Jed and Andy’s relationship and the feelings they both experienced through a failed relationship and lack of being able to be clear with each other. But ‘I Hope You Die’ has nothing to do with the Jed and Andy thing; that’s why the original EP name changed from ‘Jed and Andy’ to ‘Me Jed and Andy’! I think ‘I Hope You Die’ is my favourite song on there, but the most exposing one too, as I’m talking about really personal anger in quite a blunt way. I’ve not really tried to be clever and hide what that song’s about.”
In addition to being the lead guitarist for rising Manchester band Duvet, TTSSFU aka Tasmin Stephens (she/they) has been recording, producing, mixing and mastering all their own music on Garageband since they fell in love with classic shoegaze music as a teenager. Spending the past three years self-releasing a steady stream of singles and EPs.
No longer content to merely produce music from their bedroom, TTSSFU readies themselves for their first full live show, complete with backing band, supporting Pregoblin at YES(Basement), Manchester, on 7th December. (Bill Cummings)