Reinvention can be the mother of all evils. Just take Lee Newell for example, who attempted to obscure his past in the Thatcher-eclipsing malevolence that was Brother by inventing a gloomy 80s pop tribute. But in the case of Liverpool band All We Are, their traversing from ethereal folk to the irrepressible psych lethargy of ‘Utmost Good’ is already looking like the best reinvention since bread reimagined itself as sliced bread.
The Joe-Wills-produced single is due to drop into the purchasable world on the 17th June, and the timing couldn’t be much more perfect; the hazy fog of melodies that tie together ‘Utmost Good’ are made to soundtrack the daze of a half-remembered summer. Coupled with the warping rumble of the track’s snaking bass-line, ‘Utmost Good’ manages to be both instantly loveable and enduring, so much so that it doesn’t seem too much to say that singles don’t come much more special than this.
‘Utmost Good’ will be the first release on Obscenic Records. I was fortunate enough to catch up with the band for a feature in this month’s Bido Lito! to find out about the roots of their change in mood – check it out here.
It said a lot that as the 2013 GIT Award was launched last week, two of last year’s nominees in the form of Loved Ones and Ninetails were in the process of unveiling new material to deserved praise from national press. What better evidence could there be of both the success of the awards, and the underlying strength of Liverpool’s music scene without which the awards themselves couldn’t exist? My view may well be slightly clouded on this matter, though, so I removed my so called “Liverpool goggles” and took to the internet to canvass some of the UK’s wisest music bloggers from Liverpool and beyond to give us their perspective on what they think Liverpool’s musical landscape looks like.
Favourite artists coming out of Liverpool at the moment?
“It’s probably between Bird and Wet Mouth as my absolute favourites at the moment. With Bird it’s great to see the progress they have made and stripping back to a three piece seems to have really been a real creative catalyst. If Wet Mouth can get a release or two out in 2013 then they have the potential to really expand their fan base. Shouts out too for Death At Sea, Tea Street Band and Stealing Sheep.”
Do you think that the scene in Liverpool is stronger now than it has been in the recent past?
“I do actually; there have been periods where I pretty much gave up on it. Too many clichéd Beatles/Cast/the La’s wannabe’s producing lame Sky Sports footie montage wankathons – like some horrible hybrid of The Farm crossed with the Zutons on an eternal ferry ride across the sea of mediocrity.”
Are new artists from Liverpool today indebted to their Scouse forefathers, or have they broken away from that?
“Oh bollocks to the Beatles, they did change music yes – but for the better? I mean they came along and sidelined the girl group sound (boo!) From birth I’ve been told, “but you were born and bred in Kensington (Liverpool) therefore it is the law you MUST like The Beatles and call everybody laaaaa and carry a tickling stick to denote your god given sense of humour.” I’d rather bands were indebted to the Bunnymen, the Stooges, The Pistols, Kate Bush, The Clash, there’s a whole world of music out there! Soak up it up from everywhere – after all ( to borrow a cliché) it’s not where you’re from it’s where you’re at that matters! But no, as previously mentioned I think bands can appreciate the past without being owned by it.”
“I’ve always liked Death At Sea and Dan Croll is pretty cool too.”
How strong do you feel that the music scene in Liverpool is at the moment?
“I think it’s growing, the last few years have seen Manchester and Birmingham touted as the epicentre of new music, but yeah, there’s always room for another ‘emerging’ space.”
Do you think that the sound of new Liverpool bands is still rooted in the history of the city or are they making a conscious decision to break with tradition?
“I feel like, with the internet and ease of access to music, influence isn’t so strictly rooted in geographical location any more. I don’t think there’s any conscious decision to break with tradition as who will know of or be indebted to ‘tradition’ because they live in Liverpool any less than because they live in London? The internet has continually opened up the idea of musical lineage.”
“Outfit are the band that immediately jump to mind when discussing Liverpool, having appeared on The Recommender and plenty of other blogs over the last year. Elsewhere, we’ve enjoyed the likes of Stealing Sheep, All We Are, Loved Ones and The Tea Street Band.”
Is there a perception that the music scene in Liverpool is strong at the moment or does it not seem so in comparison with other cities?
“It’s obviously quite hard to know if there is a better scene in Liverpool in 2012 without actually living there, but thankfully internet buzz doesn’t care for geography. Much like Brighton in these recent economic times, it seems that Liverpool has had it’s fair share of closing music venues; in one year Brighton suffered the closure of our Barfly, The Pressure Point, The Ocean Rooms and The Freebutt, all within 100 yards of each other in one corner of our city. Thankfully new venues, such as The Haunt and perhaps more importantly, The Green Door Store, opened within a few months, providing a fresh beacon for awesome new bands – perhaps in the same way your venue The Kazimier does – proving that a recession doesn’t quite kill, but in truth often trims the fat and can even evolve things.
A major difference between all other cities and Liverpool is that no others suffer the same Beatles hangover that seemed to continually stifle your city for decades. Has 2012 seen it break free from the mop top chains? Possibly, with some great bands – that sound absolutely nothing like The Beatles – arriving in 2012. However, I’m not sure if they’re part of a unified scene, or whether any of them are set for global domination, or just “pretty decent, you know, for Liverpool“. It shouldn’t be about the comparison of your local scene to it’s historical output, but in fact how you compare Liverpool in the context of the rest of the UK and indeed other countries.”
Evidently, the influence of the Beatles is still an over-riding assumption that is made when discussing music from Liverpool, but whether that’s an accurate reflection of Liverpool’s music since 1970 or not, you may well question whether its effect has been as negative as people seem to presume. There’s a lineage of bands right through to the La’s and the Coral who are undoubtedly indebted to the melodic sensibility of the Beatles, and that has only added to their appeal and value. That between them floated hundreds of unimaginative bands desperate to capitalise on their success is absolutely irrelevant; bad music has and always will exist for various different reasons, and it only serves to highlight the talents of whichever interesting new bands might be around at the time.
Regardless, as By The Sea recently put it to me in an interview, there’s a new movement of artists from the area who are conscious of the Scouse pre-conceptions that get projected onto them by the rest of the country, and as such they are now consciously trying to move away from that particularly stuffed pigeon-hole and wrong foot people’s assumptions. And whilst we’re on the subject of By The Sea, that none of our wise bloggers cited them as one of the strongest bands from the city at the moment just demonstrates the depth of quality new bands in Liverpool at the moment. Perhaps this depth is exactly why the GIT Award is worth having, because such a fertile new music scene is something that’s worth drawing attention to and encouraging, so that in ten years time we’re not left gazing nostalgically backwards and praying that another Outfit will materialise. The point isn’t even a sadistic regionalistic contest in which we measure ourselves up to the achievements of other cities and declare ourselves to be the victors; it’s simply the case that local institutions like the GIT Award are important in getting young artists out there, and not just on a regional, but on a national level.
The GIT Award 2013 is now open for entries. For full info, head here, otherwise yyou can send your entry of four tracks to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to The GIT Award, c/o Peter Guy, Liverpool Post & Echo, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB
The new Loved Ones single, “Weekends Are Ours”, is out on on the newly minted Witchfinder Records, and can be bought here. Ninetails’ ambitious new EP, “Slept And Did Not Sleep”, is out on Monday and should be picked up here.
As the inimitable Lt. Aldo Raine once said, ‘arrivederci’. I’m leaving to become a homeless person in Italy for two weeks in the hope of running into either Porcelain Raft or Silvio Berlusconi, which does unfortunately mean that for fourteen tear stained days you will have to find your new music elsewhere. However, all is not lost, because in this post I’m going to throw at you a load of stuff that I have been meaning to post and would have carefully written about over the next two weeks. Instead, it’s going to be Soundcloud links and a sentence of worthless editorial, but isn’t that what the internet’s all about? Not only that, but this is the perfect chance to mention the Music Robot which launched last week. Put simply, it’s a collective of fifteen fine British music blogs, and scouring the Music Robot each day should more than satisfy your need for new music. And when I return I will have finer taste in wine, more condescending views on art, and more unacceptable pubescent facial hair. I hope you’re as excited as I am.
“Lust For Sale” is a sparse, undulating soundscape from the ex-Golden Silvers frontman. An intensely personal cut, it throbs with real desperation and vulnerability; an encouraging sign for his innovative app-album ‘Tender Metal’ which drops onto the App Store on September 10th.
Let’s Away are a brilliantly glum duo from the North East, “Brittle Bones” being a good example of their affecting and mournful tales of regret. They’ve just released a new EP entitled The Brittle Bones Of Let’s Away. [via]
Preposterous psychedelic stylings from Oxford, MS outfit ILLLS, who recently released their debut EP on The Sounds Of Sweet Nothing. “Bathroom Floor” is uncomfortable, unconventional, completely restless, and all the better for it.
In the space of the two months since I last wrote about them, Idles have burst out of their Bristol home and onto some sort of national stage with the barely tethered fury of debut EP ‘Welcome’, due to be released in two weeks. 26/27 is an exceptional showcase for their enraged brand of taut, dissatisfied post-punk.
Death At Sea
Since I first wrote about Death At Sea they’ve been busy continually solidifying their position as one of this country’s finest new bands with ecstatically received gigs, praise from national media, and radio play from Zane Lowe, no less. The stadium-sized abrasiveness of most recent track “Selfless” both justified and perpetuated the hype, and rightly so. Catch them on 4th August at FestEvol Gardens in Liverpool if you have any sense and 1000 of the Queen’s pennies.
Our trailblazing amigos over at Luv Luv Luv Records appear to be churning out tomorrow’s alternative heroes with unbelievable consistency; LA duo MYPET being the latest in a long line. The sinister “Pays To Know”, the only track available right now, is exactly three minutes of seductive and scandalous raw talent that has me desperate to hear more.
All We Are
Ethereal folk-pop trio All We Are have also been busy in the past months, namely in saving folk music from the tedium of Mumford & Sons. Having released the hugely impressive ‘We Hunt’ EP on Payper Tiger Records at the end of April, they’ve got all magnanimous on us and released EP highlight ‘Cardhouse’ for free – download above. It’s a restrained, perfectly balanced and executed mini-epic that alternates between hushed contemplation and a floor-tom pounding explosion of emotion. Free is a pretty reasonable deal, too, so you may as well get involved. And watch the still-hair-raising video here.
On Monday Torches released their latest pained single, ‘Silent Film/Sky Blue & Ivory’. ‘Silent Film’, in particular, is a swaggering, theatrical, heart-wrought anthem of pessimism that’s driven along by the evocative baritone of vocalist Charlie Drinkwater. It’s life affirming, believable doom pop that avoids the cloying fabrication of White Lies and the sheer misery of Editors; their disillusionment will make you want to live, rather than die. And if you feel like that’s not really saying a lot, then you’ve obviously never heard White Lies.