Kiran Leonard, ‘Bowler Hat Soup’ – Exclusive Album Stream

Kiran Leonard’s debut album ‘Bowler Hat Soup’ was inspired by Mothers of Invention, Sufjan Stevens, Deerhoof, Albert Ayler, the Residents, Krzysztof Penderecki, the Beach Boys, Don Caballero, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Adrian Belew. The 17-year-old hails from Manchester and plays 22 instruments on the double album, including a radiator. You can stream his album below before its official release next week.

Read a track by track from Leonard below for further elucidation.


Track one, written third/recorded first in Jun 10 (with a couple exceptions Bowler Hat Soup was more or less recorded chronologically). The verse is in 5 and the chorus is in 5+4. Don’t read into the lyrics too much; I certainly didn’t, anyway!


Have to point out – this isn’t the Brunswick Street in Manchester. I visited Melbourne (Australia) when I was 10 and I got confused and frustrated at all the cool people wearing weird clothes and buying obsolete shellac and for a while I hated them but now I’ve probably become one.


Easter 2010 Ski Trip represent. I think I wrote most of this in Cataluña on Jon Milton’s ukelele in my room where I stayed for a week trying to learn how to ski (read: inadvertently attempting fly-by suicide). It sounds pseudo-romantic but mostly it’s about anxieties.


Novelty country b/w sound collage. Frank Zappa taught me the word “galleria”; apparently it’s a term for a shopping mall stateside (I’ve never heard it used here). It’s a great word. It sounds like a museum full of meaningless pieces of art.


My “Fleetwood Mac” Paradise


Every Saddleworthian knows “Hail Smilin’ Morn” as the piece the local band plays in Delph every Whit Friday morning. When you grow up in the countryside and there’s nothing to do you mostly spend your time congregating in huge fields and making the elderly anxious (indirectly, I might add) and it’s about that blissfully ignorant aimlessness, and the glorifying of pathetic goals (“Maybe he’ll bring White Star!”).


I tried to get clarinets on this recording but I didn’t know any clarinet players well enough at the time so I played melodica on it instead. At the end, that’s the sound of me running a butter kinfe through a grill (either slowed down or sped up, I can’t remember, I would assume the former). The images aren’t all real, but the nosebleed was.


Some people I know are able to fully disregard their fear of the thoughts (exposed and hidden) of others and truly be themselves and act as an independent being but I will never be strong enough. Within the education system, it gets worse the older you get.


Occurring back when “2 weeks” was considered the terms for an engagement ring. It was during recording this song that I noticed the words “snow” and “urine” were phonetically present within the phrase “There’s no future in us”. Listen closely and you will hear those words.


Beginning on Planet Earth, “Oakland Highball” concerns the true(?) story of a man(?) abducted by alien lifeforms(!) during a country drive. He is taken through space and time to a grand fête. When the extraterrestrials ask him to look into a glass of lukewarm water, which reveals to him the inferiority of his own world to this whimsical utopia, he becomes so depressed and withdrawn that he jumps off the top of his office building to his death. In the trade, this is known as a “7-10 split Oakland Highball”.


“Shits!”. This is the oldest song on the record and I wrote it in an airport waiting for a plane that was delayed 5+ hours past initially insisted departure time. I guess that was late spring, 2009. The synths tumble through undefined scales like drunks. Because I say the word “shits” in it (and I say “shits” empathically) HOG had to mark Bowler Hat Soup as explicit on Amazon but I like that because it makes me look like Jay Z.


Obligatory noise orchestra! “This is a sad fucking song / we’ll be lucky if I don’t bust out crying”. This song features my favourite chord on All Of Bowler Hat Soup. In the left hand it’s an Abmaj7 and in the right hand it’s Bbmin!!! It sounds really swell!!! “This isn’t some kind of metaphor / god damn, this is real!”


Listen to ‘Wild Walks’ up to ‘Geraldo’s Farm’ as one big song, because this is meant to be the Totally-Not-Indulgent, What-On-Earth-Are-You-Insinuating Melodramatic Finale! VSTs in totalitarian technicolour and imagery pertaining to experiences I could never possibly understand.


Energy drink tambourine. This is the one we always fuck up when we play live because it’s so incessant. Kakakakakakakakak. The song is also a shout out to the dangers of rehearsing without earplugs – protect your ears people. I Am Being Serious.


The reprisal of that swell chord from track twelve with piano and lots of voices. Recorded in late 2010. The man from track twelve, still hiding on Geraldo’s Farm, reflects on a summer romance and how he wishes he knew that the anxieties he felt then could never compare. Harriet sings the last part.


Eulogy for solo reed organ & voice, Nov ’12, ticking wall clock.