The Parrots – Los Niños Sin Miedo – released on Heavenly 26th August
The Parrots have played across Europe, the US and Central America – packed nights at the Shacklewell Arms and chelada-fuelled lunchtime showcases at SXSW, raucous gigs of elemental garage noise, feelgood ferocity and many, many stage invasions (“Everybody else gets very motivated when they see us play,” says frontman Diego). After three years and half a dozen singles and EPs, they are ready to release their first album, Los Niños Sin Miedo, on Heavenly.
Diego García, Alex de Lucas (bass) and Larry Balboa (drums) met at university in Madrid, began playing music together, and noisily hacked out a place for their primordial, loose-hipped rock’n’roll. “The idea of Los Niños Sin Miedo – The Fearless Kids – came about because in Spain it’s really difficult to make it as a rock’n’roll band,” they say. “When we started there were so many indie bands, indie bands, indie bands. No one would back us, no other bands, no media, nobody. So we got on with it, and people started coming to our shows, promoters started booking us, but at the beginning it was just our gang of friends in Madrid, working on our music, writing, singing, DJing, art, photography.” That gang includes Hinds, whose brilliant recent album Leave Me Alone was produced by Diego, and Los Nastys, one of whom is Diego’s flatmate. “Now people are talking about the Madrid scene, Madrid’s ‘new wave’, and we’re like, ‘Fuck you, you ignored us for so long!’ So we do it for us and our friends. We were scared of nothing, we wanted to do it all the way. It has always been rock’n’roll until the end, as hard as we can.”
They played hundreds of shows, getting tighter and louder and better: “It’s the best half an hour of any day if we get to play, to get crazy, to be ourselves and do whatever we want,” says Alex. And that developed into new songs and new ideas: “You come home from tour and you don’t want to play the same songs, you want to write new songs. We always said we want to do an album when it’s a good album, and after we did our last EP we realised we could have recorded an album. We had so many songs. So we decided it was time to do a big piece, not just the classic garage stuff, something with bigger ideas behind it.”
They recorded Los Niños Sin Miedo in one week last September, at the studios of much-loved Spanish sound engineer Paco Loco and his wife Muni, down by the sea in Cádiz. “Paco has these crazy ideas, like, ‘I think you guys need a solo here,’” says Diego. “So I get my guitar, I drink, I smoke, I start playing and Paco says, ‘Oh this is amazing!’ You think it’s too crazy but he says, ‘If you heard this from John Cale you’d think it was amazing! You are an artist too!’ He gets completely involved.” The studio’s idyllic setting helps too: “They have dogs, they have a swimming pool, and they make the best food ever. It’s such a good vibe there, and it gets you seriously focussed on the music.”
There was more work to do when they got back to Madrid: “We wanted it really dirty when we were in the studio, but when we got home everybody was like, ‘Fuck, my ears are gonna bleed!’ Then Heavenly introduced us to Mikey Young – he remixed No Me Gustas Te Quiero and we’re like, ‘Fuck, this is amazing, it sounds really good.’ So we thought, right, he should keep going with the whole album. It’s better that we’re not in the mixing studio with him, shouting, ‘DIRTY! DIRTY! MORE DISTORTION!” Now the album sounds like we thought it should sound. We love working with other people because they make you see what you have in mind better than yourself sometimes.”
The results include lead single No Me Gustas Te Quiero – cowritten and sung by Diego and Alex – a louche garage gem with twanging guitars and Diego’s great drawling yawp. The Parrots have that genius-stupidity of all ace garage rock bands, and they mix sunbaked stoner elation with a gleeful mangling of the English language: “If sometimes I express myself in the wrong terms, because I’m not English, for me it doesn’t matter,” says Diego. “Let’s just get wild and do it the way we feel. When I first heard Jonathan Richman singing in Spanish, I loved it. He gets it all wrong and that has so much charm.” They also cite The Monks, The Groupies, 13th Floor Elevators, Buddy Holly and Elvis as inspiration, and Diego’s biggest musical love is Marc Bolan: “He has always been my main guy, he’s always there in my mind. I love the way some of his songs sound so naive but at the same time so mean and so tender. No one can say ‘baby’ quite like him.”
Heavenly asked The Parrots to tour with Hooton Tennis Club after seeing them at SXSW last year, and the seeds for a longterm relationship were sown. “That tour was amazing,” says Larry. “All the shows were perfect. So when we finished the album we showed it to Heavenly first and they loved it. We decided to join the label, and at SXSW this year, we thought, Let’s do it here. We signed the contracts on top of a pool table in a bar. It was fast and good, and that’s how we like it. Our smiles lasted a week – we’re still smiling. We’re going to be very happy in the Heavenly family.”
Ellen Kempner, the 21-year-old guitarist and songwriter behind Boston based project, Palehound, is even more prodigious than her age suggests; influenced by her musician father, she struck out on the songwriting path while she was still in elementary school. “I was kind of a shy kid,” says Kempner. “Music was a good way for me to express myself — I had a hard time socially, and it was a way for me to feel like I could contribute something and impress people in some way.”
“I envy 10-year-old me,” she laughs. “I would sit in my room for an hour, write a song, and be done. Now, it takes more time.“
The eight songs that make up Dry Food, which Kempner wrote from 2013 to 2014 and recorded with Gabe Wax (Wye Oak, Speedy Ortiz) last summer, are wry and confessional, full of unexpected twists and turns. Kempner’s whispery alto gives the album a raw, confessional feel, even on louder tracks like the crashing, reverb-augmented “Cushioned Caging.” That’s partially because Dry Food is a snapshot of a time in Kempner’s life defined by instability and shifting, leaving Sarah Lawrence before her eventual move to Boston.
“I was coming off a transitional time in my life,” says Kempner of the period when Dry Food was written. “I was struggling in college, and with mental health issues. The album is a snapshot of a weird time for me, where I was transitioning from being in college to getting a job.
“The year between 19 and 20 is this weirdly insignificant time — you’re kind of an adult, but not a real adult. That was kind of hard for me, to think, ‘I’m not a kid, and there are things in my life making that very, very obvious to me, but I also can’t really fathom being an adult yet.’”
Despite the underlying factors, though, Dry Food is confident and cohesive, full of sophisticated songwriting and guitar playing. Kempner cites Elliott Smith and Kim Deal, as well as Angel Olsen and her childhood musical hero Avril Lavigne, as songwriting influences. (“I was obsessed with Let Go, and I still love that album,” she declares. “I was in third grade and would wear ties to school.”)
The glistening, complex guitar work on the dreamy “Cinnamon” and the fuzzed-out textures on album opener “Molly” makes plain that Kempner’s musical roots grow deep. “Wes Montgomery is one of my biggest guitar influences,” she notes. “I studied his music in college, and I still will pull up a chart of his and try to figure it out.”
Kempner played everything but the drum parts on Dry Food, but live, Palehound is rounded out by drummer Jesse Weiss, of the gnarly Boston act Grass Is Green, and bassist Nick Koechel, who recently completed his studies at the Berklee College of Music.
Teaming up with Weiss and his crisp, steady drumming was, for Kempner, serendipitous. “I heard [Grass Is Green] when I was 16 or 17, and I thought they were the best thing I’d ever heard in my life,” she says. “Particularly the drummer. I saw them live for the first time right after I’d turned 18, and I watched Jesse the whole time. I worshiped him.
“He has this innate sense of how to work his kit. I can just get onstage and know that he’s going to play perfectly, and I can rely on him.“
Koechel crossed Kempner’s path while the two were in Boston’s restaurant trenches. “Nick and I met at Root,” the Allston vegan restaurant where Kempner works (and occasionally has inspiration for new songs). “We were allowed to listen to our own music in the back. He put on Porches and I was like, ‘I know this band!’”
While Dry Food chronicles a particularly rough patch in Kempner’s life, it does so with verve and grit, not to mention sterling musicianship and wry lyrics. Dry Food is a flag-plant by a young woman with a lot on her mind and talent to burn.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are:
Stu Mackenzie – Guitar, lead vocals
Joe Walker – Guitar, vocals
Eric Moore — Drums
Ambrose Kenny-Smith – Harmonica, vocals
Lucas Skinner — Bass
Cook Craig — Guitar
Michael Cavanagh — Drums
“Nonagon infinity opens the door,” sings Stu Mackenzie, frontman of Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. It turns out, though, that once the door’s open, it never closes. That’s because the Melbourne septet has ingeniously crafted what may be the world’s first infinitely looping LP. Each of the nine, complex, blistering tracks on ‘Nonagon Infinity’ seamlessly flows into the next, with the final song linking straight back into the top of the opener like a sonic mobius strip. It’s exactly the kind of ambitious vision that prompted Rolling Stone to dub the band “one of the most compelling collectives of art-rock experimentalists in recent years.” But far from a simple conceptual experiment, the album is both an exhilarating shot of adrenaline and a remarkable feat of craftsmanship, the result of painstaking planning and an eye for detail years in the making.
The roots of ‘Nonagon Infinity’ stretch back to 2014, when King Gizzard recorded their critically acclaimed album “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz,” which was hailed by Pitchfork as “dense, intricately crafted, and most importantly, powerful.”
“We actually wanted to do this with ‘Mind Fuzz,’ but it just didn’t work,” explains Mackenzie. “We ended up writing songs that needed to be on that record but didn’t connect to the others, so we had to abandon the idea, but the seeds were sown.”
To an outsider, it may have seemed like the band had completely given up on the concept, as the ever-prolific group quickly followed ‘Mind Fuzz’ with two more records in 2015, ‘Quarters’—described by The Guardian as “the neon intersection of DIY psych and 1960s beach pop”—and the stripped-down ‘Paper Mache Dream Balloon,’ which earned praise from NPR to Stereogum. The truth, though, was that King Gizzard was honing in on the ‘Nonagon Infinity’ material the whole time, test-driving various tracks in their explosive live shows to prep for the monumental task of stitching them all together into one searing, multi-movement epic.
“We really wanted to focus on things that felt good live,” says Mackenzie. “We’d grab a little riff here or a little groove there, and we’d jam on them and form songs out of them, which was the opposite of ‘Paper Mache,’ where we were making songs in an acoustic, classic-songwriting kind of way. I wanted to have an album where all these riffs and grooves just kept coming in and out the whole time, so a song wasn’t just a song, it was part of a loop, part of this whole experience where it feels like it doesn’t end and doesn’t need to end.”
Recorded at Daptone Studios in Brooklyn, the final result is an intricate and immersive listening experience. Lyrical refrains and musical motifs establish themselves and then submerge beneath the chaos, only to resurface unexpectedly later like familiar companions on a labyrinthine journey. Motorhead-grade riffs give way to King Crimson and Yes-levels of prog complexity, as songs churn through unusual time signatures and shifting rhythms with blunt force, laying waste to everything in their path.
“I wanted it to feel like a horror or sci-fi movie,” explains Mackenzie of the album’s dark overtones. “The lyrics came as a stream of consciousness, all of these elements just falling out of my head as it was happening.”
“Big Fig Wasp” references a particularly macabre insect that must kill itself in order to perpetuate the species, while “Gamma Knife,” with its 11/8-time drum solo, is named for a surgical tool that burns cuts into the skin, and “People-Vultures” plays like a sinister film soundtrack. Album opener “Robot Stop” pulls more directly from the band’s recent experiences, inspired in part by their relentless work ethic and tour schedule, which has included festival performances at Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Montreux Jazz & Roskilde as well as countless sold out dates in rooms across the USA, UK, Europe and Australia.
“That song’s about feeling overworked, like a bit of a robot that’s just going to crash and die or something,” he says with a laugh. “But you get yourself up and do it again and you robot on and you’re alright. It was one of the early ones we wrote for the record, and I think when that song came together, everybody started to feel like were going to actually be able to pull off this never-ending album idea.”
To say they pulled it off would be an understatement. The record is a force to be reckoned with on par with the road trains Mackenzie references in the album’s final track.
“In the Australian desert, in the outback, there are what’s called road trains, which are these massive trucks pulling heaps of carriages that can end up being 50 meters long,” he explains. “They drive on the road really, really fast, and they’re deadly, with these bars in the front to kill kangaroos and anything else in their path.”
‘Nonagon Infinity’ has opened the door for King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and they’re barreling ahead with more momentum than ever before now. Much like those road trains, with a band this good, the safest place to be is onboard.
Living in a cabin on the edge of the Mojave desert, M. Craft discovered that isolation loves a soundtrack.
Without the usual urban chaos to disturb the natural order, the volume of the eco-system rose on everything within earshot – a daily orchestration of animals and elements in organic harmony. Staying alone in Joshua Tree, the noises of the city fading from nagging tinnitus to distant memory, Canberra born/London resident Martin found himself tuning into the unmuted sounds of the natural world for the first time in years.
“The silence around Joshua Tree is other-worldly, deep, almost impossible,” he says. “But once immersed in this silence, you notice that it’s not really silence at all. Little flecks of sound, which would have gone unheard on a city street corner, become like splashes of neon. The rustle of wind in a smoke-tree, the hoot of an owl, the beating wings of a passing crow, all become vivid, important. Musical.”
M. Craft’s previous records have been influenced by city living. Recorded in pre-gentrification Dalston, 2003’s mini-album I Can See It All Tonight featured On The 389 — a none-more-glorious love letter to a Sydney bus route that stretched out lazily across a Tropicalia backbone. Elsewhere, Last Leaf of Summer (from 2009’s Arrows At The Sun) plots a bike through season’s change in Hackney over ebbing and flowing picked guitar. All the while though, Martin’s records have displayed a sense of self-set loneliness (check Dragonfly from the first full length M. Craft album Silver and Fire for a masterclass in stargazing campfire acoustics).
Blood Moon – M. Craft’s third full album — is very much a score for seclusion. Inspired by witnessing the titular lunar event twice during his time as a desert resident, Blood Moon began life in a studio in nearby Los Angeles as a series of unstructured, experimental piano pieces.
“I’d long been planning a piano-based record and I found a recording studio in Echo Park with a hundred-year-old Mason and Hamlin concert grand piano. I simply sat down and improvised, with no plans or direction. Over a few months of these sessions, I ended up with several hour-long pieces of piano music. Taking everything back to the desert, I started to carve shapes from these pieces and songs started to form.”
If the songs on Blood Moon have been hacked from bigger pieces, the technique used to craft them is exemplary. Over its ten tracks, the album occasionally echoes the ghost forms of Talk Talk’s peerless Laughing Stock and the hymnal beauty of Sufjan Stevens’ Seven Swans. Mainly though, it’s Craft’s own unique meditation. Constructed from those piano recordings with additional percussion from another temporary desert dweller, Seb Rochford (Polar Bear) and occasional orchestration, Blood Moon is a stunning fusion of freeform instrumental explorations and properly pure songs.
Bookended by instrumentals (the scene-setting New Horizons and eleven-minute, astral-projecting freeform piece Mind Waves), Blood Moon features arguably the finest songs Martin Craft has ever written. The album’s two centerpiece tracks – Love Is The Devil and Me And My Shadow – could have been written by a beaten-down Bacharach, alone and drained of spirits while Dream On (Where Go The Dreams) is Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack relocated to the great wide open of the Californian desert. The creation of that mood was Martin’s main aim in making the album.
“I hope the record takes the listener off into the clear night air of Joshua Tree, that profound, neon-flecked silence, the star-spangled skies of the Mojave desert, under that lonely little sphere of rock caught in a red shadow.”
Blood Moon does that and so much more. It’s a record from and for the small hours and Martin Craft’s best record to date.
Cabin fever has never sounded so good.
NOTS are a 4 piece, all XX, “nuevo no wavo” band from Memphis, TN. Unpredictable guitars, celestial synths, and punctuated vocals swirl around the repetition of a powerful rhythm section to form a sound and a live show not easily classifiable but entirely addictive. Drummer Charlotte Watson and guitarist / frontwoman Natalie Hoffmann are the band’s two constants throughout a handful of roster changes. NOTS’ current lineup also includes Alexandra Eastburn on synth, an instrument she picked up to join NOTS and to record on their first full-length LP We Are Nots, and bassist Meredith Lones, another new Memphis musician, and the most recent addition to the band. NOTS’ newest punk-noise-psych-collision 7”, Virgin Mary, aggressively follows on the heels of their debut LP, foreshadowing an ever expanding experiment in direction of things to come for the band. Don’t miss out.
- Natalie in Nots
Heavy Love new album released 9th February 2015 on Heavenly Recordings.
“The entire record listening public should know Duke Garwood’s music. The fact most don’t is a fucking travesty. He’s a mystic, a musical genius and Heavy Love is a total mind-blowing masterpiece. Get with it people!” Mark Lanegan
“Duke Garwood is the real thing; like the perfect blues perpetually emanating good vibes thru a uni-vibe (even when he’s singing about darkness). An old soul and a saint…” Kurt Vile
“My brother Duke is the most soulacious soul man I know. He’s always cut his own groove and it’s been my honour to play with him so many times.” Seasick Steve
“I’ve listened to Duke for years but have not heard him as in control and powerful as he is on Heavy Love. His guitar playing and singing remind me of an unrequited and lusty relative of JJ Cale. I fucking love this.” Greg Dulli
“I met Duke at The Luminaire. He was playing sweet ballads with a tint of free-jazz; his voice was thin and full, like a Chet Baker turned into a midnight wolf. The first question was ‘who is this guy’?” Jehnny Beth (Savages)
You should know Duke Garwood. As it is, his soulful, stripped-bare sound has been under your nose this entire time. Until now, he’s been the mysterious figure in tales where Mexican gangs forced tequila down his throat, a ghost-like presence at gatherings of some the world’s biggest rock stars-turned-his closest friends, and an unassuming continent-hopper trying to find his way in the world. But that’s all set to change with Heavy Love – the brand new album about to thrust Garwood from south London’s unlikely bluesman and into the spotlight he so thoroughly deserves.
“When I was young and pretty, I could’ve become a star,” reveals Garwood. “Luckily, I didn’t have any inkling to. I didn’t know what I was doing; I wanted to play music the way I wanted it to be played. That probably saved my life”. Truer to his muse than ever before, Heavy Love brilliantly explores this magical artist’s auteurist, cinematic vision. Through inspired imagist lyricism (‘Honey In The Ear’ describes Garwood’s troublesome tinnitus as a result of touring with Kurt Vile) and a wonderfully charismatic vocal slur marrying elements of the blues to his spacier, more experimental leanings, Heavy Love captures a musician at his peak, and one who has embarked upon the kind of character-building, detour-strewn route known only by the greatest artists and vagabonds.
Navigating from the mouth of the Medway to Thailand’s bar scene where he played harp alongside Georgie Fame’s son Tristan and Yngwie Malmsteen’s keyboard-player before focusing on the guitar, Garwood’s travels extend to the mean streets of Paris and back to Hackney’s squatlands in which he soothed “drunken misery” and grappling with newfound fatherhood by playing his own “mad kind of blues”. Shortly after venturing to Cuba in search of singers Compay Segundo and Omara Portuondo, and the ‘non-existent’ dream of Che Guevara, a truly bleak period followed; battling drug and cash flow problems in a music-filled bolthole on Brixton Hill, and then homelessness until a life-affirming encounter in Morocco with The Master Musicians Of Jajouka; the mythic powers of which inspired Rolling Stone Brian Jones and jazz visionary Ornette Coleman to record with them in the 1970s. “Their leader, Bachir Attar, taught me some tunes – one riff was over 3000 years old,” recalls Garwood. “I jammed with them and dreamed I could learn their magic.”
Along the way Garwood has formed deep connections with great musicians including Josh T. Pearson and distant legends Tinariwen. Singer Jehnny Beth, whose delicate vocals appear on Heavy Love’s haunting title-track, took Garwood across America’s open road with her band Savages and he’s played horns with Archie Bronson Outfit; each encounter clearly recognising a kindred spirit within — yet it was meeting similarly quixotic soul Mark Lanegan that ignited something extra special. Shortly after Garwood played guitar on Lanegan’s 2012 solo record Blue Funeral, the pair recorded collaborative album Black Pudding in Josh Homme’s Pink Duck studio in Los Angeles. “I’d never been so prepared, so professional,” reveals Garwood. At the end of the process and finishing a day early, he re-entered the studio with Alain Johannes (QOTSA) and Mark Lanegan at the helm to record Heavy Love. “It took longer than anything I’ve ever done,” he says. “This is my finest work; all the songs have sat deep with me for a long time.”
Garwood’s finest and most precise album yet, Heavy Love is the sound of a genuine artist who has defined his career at his own pace and always on his own terms. The most focused distillation of the magic that’s made his bewitching story such a pleasure to trace; it’s dark, mystical, and erotic sound returns Garwood’s music to the elements, to his mad blues, the unhurried grooves and desert slithers, and his spectral, past-midnight burr that’s set to, at last, make him famous. “I want to make music until my dying breath. I give it all. It is my blood,” he says. “I’m older, but I feel comfortable. It’s like I’ve found an extra gear in my body, in my mind, and I just went for it. I think that shows on Heavy Love.”
For more info contact Will at In House: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0161 236 4805
“Hermits On Holiday”
(Heavenly Recordings – 21st August 2015)
Heavenly Recordings are thrilled to introduce DRINKS, the new project from Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley, aka White Fence, whose album Hermits On Holiday will be released 21st August.
“Tim, do I like that dog?”
A strange question, a queer query, an odd ask. The answer surely already known unless one mind knows the other. Which would appear to be the case with Cate and Tim. With Tim and Cate.
Cate, born in West Wales, raised under the shadow of a woolen mill, dressed by the field and by the rain. Tim, from San Francisco, grew under and over the bridges and streets, combed by corners and by concrete.
A more different musical upbringing you couldn’t dream up. One a black thread strung through the eye of American hardcore, she a shard of glass tapped through a solid wall. Loop the thread around the shard and you have pendular device for predicting the sex. Will it be a boy or a girl?
They both like to drink, coffee mostly and sometimes each other. And once the drinks are drunk out it comes. The mud slicks and the plates click.
Drinks is a solo project, not a collaboration. It has one mouth, one set of lungs, one mind and four legs.
Drinks are the sound of hermits on holiday, having the time of each others lives.
For more info contact Duncan Jordan PR on 07866 758952
or email email@example.com
Hooton Tennis Club
Ryan Murphy – vocals / guitar
James Madden – guitar / vocals
Callum McFadden — bass
Harry Chalmers — drums
Hooton Tennis Club sing about the small details of life. Theirs is a world in which curious observational lyrics abound; poetic riddles and wry nuggets that contort the banality of everyday existence while never succumbing to cynicism. Quite the opposite in fact: Hooton’s songs are bathed in sunlight, and find romance where others see squalor.
Their debut album Highest Point In Cliff Town is the sound of the summer of adolescence slipping into the autumn of adulthood. Here the wit of Kurt Vonnegut and twisted storytelling of Wes Anderson collide to tell tales of banal jobs, relationships, memorable parties and passing characters. The song titles alone read like the opening lines of classic novels not yet written: ‘Something Much Quicker Than Anyone But Jennifer Could Imagine’, for example, or the F. Scott Fitzgerald-esque ‘And Then Camilla Drew Fourteen Dots On Her Knees’ and ‘Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair’.
These knowing titles belie a keen ear for a song. Make no mistake: this is classic underdog indie music — melodic, fragile, wonky, witty, poetic, pop. Definitely, defiantly pop. Skewed melodies and oddball narratives combine in perfect symbiotic musical harmony, each song a small burst of sunshine to warm the coldest of hearts. Think Teenage Fanclub, Guided By Voices, Pavement, Randy Newman, Big Star, Silver Jews – but birthed in northern English towns in the 21st century.
From Chester and Ellesmere Port, Hooton Tennis Club grew up together. They shared record collections, went on school trips, bonded over a shared love of I Should Coco by Supergrass and played in a number of bands with improbable names. While studying at various colleges they speedily recorded some songs to upload with no intention of ever being an actual ‘band’. Their name was inspired by a sign for the tennis club in Little Sutton, Cheshire. No secret explanation. No hidden messages. No grand plans.
These rudimentary recordings caught the ear of Edge Hill University lecturer and bassist in The Farm Carl Hunter, then in the process of launching a uni-based record imprint, The Label Recordings. Hooton Tennis Club released the aforementioned ‘Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair’ as a limited debut single via the label in early 2014.
The song was written by singer Ryan Murphy – who was born in Berlin on the hour that the Berlin wall came down – after he had hitchhiked home through France. He had been touring with Robbie Williams while working for a company who recorded live shows to sell on CD straight afterwards. (“I went hiking with Robbie, got pally with Olly Murs,” he told NME. “Taught him the difference between ice cream and sorbet.”). Prolonging his continental wanderings he landed at James’s house in Cambridge and out popped the song.
Hooton Tennis Club soon caught the ears of Heavenly Recordings. Sharing mutual friends in Stealing Steep, label founder Jeff Barrett signed the quartet in September 2014 and their debut proper ‘Jasper’ was described by 6Music’s Lauren Laverne as her song of the year (so far). After a UK tour with label-mate H. Hawkline, the band entered Parr Street studios in Liverpool with Bill Ryder-Jones, former guitarist in The Coral, to record their debut album Highest Point In Cliff Town.
Inspired by the plug-in-and-play quasi-improvisational approach of Deerhunter and Ariel Pink, this free-flowing set of songs give a brilliant insight in Hooton’s self-contained world. Opener ‘Up In The Air’ unravels at its own slack pace. It’s both laconically droll and slightly surreal: “Nothing ever happens so I do the crossword / I’ve got a hat for the top of my head / Six across, five letters around my neck”.
‘And Then Camilla Drew Fourteen Dots On Her Knees’ is like a European art-house film distilled into three minutes, a Polaroid picture of a Copenhagen romance. “Outside the Meat District, where people eat burgers and swipe the ants off their ankles, Camilla — cross-legged in ennui — blobbed fourteen dots onto her left knee” explains James. “Meanwhile, dodging traffic in a green smoke cloud, Ryan-on-a-rent-a-bike bolted back from Christiania – late for their date.”
Born out of boredom in a Travelodge, ‘Something Much Quicker Than Anyone But Jennifer Could Imagine’ charts that missing, listless, drifting day in the week that the band call ‘Noneday’, while the rudimentary Mo Tucker-esque drum beats and Prince-influenced guitar licks of ‘New Shoes’ document a successful shopping experience in a retail centre on a warm summer’s day. A new version of ‘Kathleen…’ was recorded at Ryder-Jones’ mum’s house “surrounded by her chinchillas, geckos and dogs.”
And then there is ‘Barlow Terrace’, which celebrates communal student living in Manchester — a place of parties that laughed in the face of persistent poverty. “Some evenings, after long hours in the studio — everyone smelling of oil and turpentine — the house would pull itself together to make a meal,” explains James. “Usually paprikás krumpli, with bread to share, and candles lighting up your tinny. A lot of the time however, you’d be lucky to find anything to eat. Elated to find a crumpet tucked away amidst the unwanted condiments, unused paper plates and cans of Raid ant-killer, you’d then discover that the toaster had been thrown out of the window the previous night.”
Collectively these songs form a debut infused with pop’s most vital lifeblood: youth. It’s a brace of musical missives sent from the hearts of four young men in possession of poetic sensibilities, musical inventiveness and a overwhelmingly joie de vivre.
Here lies life in all its many flavours.
Ben Myers / May 2015
Gwenno Saunders is a sound artist, DJ, radio presenter and singer from Cardiff.
From 2005–2010 Gwenno was a writer and performer as a member of
Brighton-based conceptual pop band The Pipettes and more recently, a member of durational performance sound art collective Canolfan Hamdden (Leisure Centre) alongside Y Pencadlys, Rhys Edwards and Pat Morgan of Datblygu.. She is a native Welsh and Cornish speaker and it’s this along with co-producing and co-hosting Welsh language show Cam o’r Tywyllwch (A Step Away From The Darkness) with Peski for Radio Cardiff and more recently, Resonance FM, that has led her to create music that translates her internationalist influences into layered, home-fi keyboard sounds wrapped in echoed vocals and musique concrète-inspired beats.
She released her Ymbelydredd EP in 2012 to critical acclaim, and more recently her debut album Y Dydd Olaf (The Last Day) initially as a (now sold-out) limited release on Peski Records and now as a worldwide release on Heavenly Records.