Hello everyone and welcome to my new column for the NME, which I will be doing my best to put together every month. I’m imagining them to be a kind of collation of all the musical discoveries I have, almost always accidentally, made over the preceding few weeks, alongside some extra-curricular things I might need to exorcise in the name of catharsis.
Brighton’s Great Escape festival – so full of music that it tends to punctuate any general simmering fear you may already have of missing out on something better elsewhere – was a lot of fun. I write this still in a vague and confused sweat a week later. We were very proud to have Yala! – the record label we started a year and a half ago – so well represented across the weekend in multiple shows from Whenyoung, Feet and The Homesick as well as a big one closing the weekend from The Magic Gang. Special mention to Magic Gang’s own Paeris Giles, whose imprint, Echochamp, hosted an anti-festival line-up at the Western pub in town that managed to house some of the most vital new music across the whole weekend, including both Black Midi and Trudy and The Romance. The latter balance equal parts traditional rock’n’roll with total odd-ball writing that understandably makes singer Oliver Taylor occasionally look like he’s going to spontaneously combust on stage out of pure joy. It’s utterly contagious and they’re very easy to fall in love with.
Alongside obvious festival highlights Idles, every ounce the deeply important and compassionate band we had hoped they would be upon Brutalism’s release more than a year ago, and the very brilliant Fontaines DC and Ourgirl, my standout personal memory is courtesy of a group not booked by the festival officially. I have no idea who they were but, playing in a pub populated with other bands drinking smuggled cans, they entered an instrumental section with a the singer announcing in all seriousness, that ‘this is where the saxophone would be’. The room was momentarily filled with a 16-bar saxophone-less instrumental whilst fifty people imagined their own sax solos. There might be genuine legs in a group that simply announced when things were coming in but never bothered doing them. Imaginary interactive indie.
Briefly convinced I would take the next week off any gigs, I ended up back at one this Tuesday night in Sam Evian and his group’s first ever show in London, at the Islington. Whilst channelling the slacker Americana wave that has floated all the more than worthy boats of Vile through Morby, Barnett and Dunes, they are one of those bands that are also capable of showing you glimpses of the pure source too, like a small window into what it must have been like seeing Crazy Horse or the actual Band in the mid-seventies. Supported by Willie J Healey, our country’s own premier songwriter of a similar craft, it’s a welcome surprise of a genuine moment. If you are into any buying any 7’s this month, we put The Homesick’s ‘Gucci Gucci’ out a couple of weeks back and there are a few left through Rough Trade. Of the full-length albums out in the past couple of weeks, Jon Hopkins’ ‘Singularity’ and Daniel Blumberg’s ‘Minus’ are special enough to go out and buy in real life rather than just streaming, though I still haven’t had time to play them too much because I’m in way too deep with both Big Thief albums.
See you next month. Yala! Felix x