The former-Maccabee gives a rundown of all his musical adventures in this new monthly column
Dear NME readers, hello from South London and welcome to my latest column. Firstly, accept my apologies for it arriving slightly later than the intended month since the last. To make up for it, this one comes with a present. Our Girl have been the latest to come through the studio to record a Yala! live session, and we’d like to share it exclusively here first. If you aren’t aware of the series, we have been recording and releasing them for the last two years. We invite our favourite new bands to come through the ‘Drugstore’, christened by the Jesus and Mary Chain during their tenure there and subsequently Maccabees studio and Yala! HQ, to record two live songs. Here’s the most recent with the brilliant Our Girl, playing both ‘I Really Like It and ‘In My Head’ from debut album ‘Stranger Today’ which is out in two weeks. Enjoy.
‘I Really Like It’
‘In My Head’
Our Girl also headlined Yala! 14 on Friday night. Thank you to everyone who bought the tickets so quickly as always. At our regular and spiritual home of Bermondsey Social Club, it was, by some distance, the hottest yet. Off the back of a two-week heat-wave and a late afternoon electrical thunderstorm, the night was a pure celebration (of great live music, and Gus’ from Yala! legends The Magic Gang’s birthday) masked occasionally as a kind of survival exercise. We were very lucky to have Trudy and The Romance, who I first saw and wrote about here, come and open up too.
The regularity of the night means we’ve actually had one another since I last wrote, which unearthed a bit of a find. The Talkshow, in their infancy and with precious little music available yet, opened the evening. Lead singer Harrison Swann channels something of Wilco Johnson in his guitar playing, charging to and from the front of the stage as if he’s wired straight into his amp. He projects rare conviction whilst simultaneously giving the impression not all his movements are his own doing. It connected so pertinently that the security on the door, usually taking great lengths to not be exposed to indie bands inside the over-spilling room, ended up in the front row, facing the stage, watching the band like everyone else, again not entirely of their own conscious doing. In summary, their show pointed to a band capable of Bunnymen-ish hypnotism. I booked them through a friend, a hairdresser, who mentioned to me, ‘oh I cut the hair of a guy in a good band the other day’. Hairdressers it turns out, are not only part-time therapists, but also pretty good A & R scouts too. Next time you they tell you a good band they’ve heard, whilst you’re staring back at yourself, draped in a sheet feeling the strange kind of vulnerable that you only can pre-haircut, it wouldn’t hurt to chase it down. Tantalisingly, the only proof I have of The Talkshow’s existence is here in demo of the sets Gang of Four-esque opener, particularly for the attention of fans of Shame, ‘Fast and Loud’. It’s complete with a calling card of an opening lyric ‘This is monster city and Gothams still rocking’.
In terms of new music released of late, a little gem has just come out of South London in Mellah’s latest EP, ‘Middle England’. It’s genuinely a really special statement of music. Cigarette Lighter, track two off it, is as good a song as you’ll hear all year. Particularly lyrically striking from it is “Left says bigot, right says dreamer, but at the core, neither are either”. That coupled with Yala! heroes ‘Idles’ latest single but one, Danny Nedelko’s words ‘my blood brother’s Freddie Mercury, a Nigerian mother of three, he’s made of bones, he’s made of blood, he’s made of flesh, he’s made of love, he’s made of you, he’s made of me, Unity!’ serve as flags to all that is good in guitar music at the moment. To the voices that say it doesn’t deliver what it used to. Well, there it is. And more. Compassionate, open-hearted punk music. There’s lots of it if you look.
I’m back in presenting for John Kennedy on Radio X’s Xposure at the end of the month as well as picking back up on my Soho radio slot. I’d love to play some unsigned new music across the two weeks, so if you either have a record you’d like people to hear or know of something that deserves it, feel free to send it my way.