English Teacher – ‘R&B’

Last year London label Nice Swan began the ‘Nice Swan Introduces’ series facilitating releases from a whole raft of new and exciting talent including Jelly Cleaver, Courting, Sprints, Hallan, Malady, Mandrake Handshake & Anorak Patch, and English Teacher’s ‘R&B’ is latest entry in the series.

Leeds quartet English Teacher trade in meaty and razor-sharp sprawling post-punk alchemy and waste no time in setting the wheels in motion on ‘R&B. Part of an inaugural compilation that is penned for release in August, ‘R&B’ is built upon a speedy bassline and Lily Fontaine’s deadpan vocals before exploding with a searing riffs, soaring guitars and crunching drums, all bathed in a wall of fuzz and distortion. A huge, epic and absolutely magnificent crunching anthem – turn it up loud.

Listen to ‘R&B’ and keep an eye out for the compilation come August:

Death Hags – ‘Chaos Magic’

Death Hags is the moniker of Los Angeles-based, French artist, Lola Jean, who carefully crafts hypnotic, dreamy and psych splashed aural escapes from the secluded hideaway hills of East LA.

An enigmatic creative force, Death Hags output over the past 18 months or so has been stellar, with a ready supply of hypnotic, futuristic and minimal electronica. Death Hags’ latest single, ‘Chaos Magic’ is a variation of this form. Just as an intoxicating, escapist and hypnotic, ‘Chaos Magic’ sees shimmering guitars replace synth as the driving force as Jean’s hushed honeyed vocals cruise calmly over a melodic patter of soft drums and haze of dreamy atmospheric tones. A beautiful, melodic and hazy jam from a reliably brilliant artist.

Listen to ‘Chaos Magic’ below: 

’59 – ‘The Forbidden Zone’

’59 is led by Ryan Ehresman, a synth-obsessed writer and producer based out of San Francisco who create exhilarating, manic and kaleidoscopic psych-splashed post-punk/krautrock sounds.

’59’s latest is called ‘The Forbidden Zone’ and it is an absolute beast. Fuelled by a relentless electronic beat, pulsing synth, repetitive guitarlines, buzzsaw riffs and sharp rhythm section, ‘The Forbidden Zone’ makes for a taut, furious and intoxicating whirlwind of somewhat frenzied sounds – with moments of melodic respite and relative calm strewn throughout. ‘The Forbidden Zone’ feels organic in its composition and exudes exhilarating energy and is brilliantly manic and unique. One of the finest tracks of 2021, ‘The Forbidden Zone’ more than hints that keeping tabs on ’59 is going to be exciting.

Listen to ‘The Forbidden Zone’ below now:

Spirit Award – ‘Shout (Kill the Rich)’

Shout (Kill the Rich) is the latest sprawling single from Seattle-based psych-rock outfit Spirit Award.

Taken from their third album, Lunatic House, Shout (Kill the Rich) showcases a fearlessness to explore psychedelic rovings and embrace chaos and jarring jerky aggression; and striking a perfect balance between these two facets is the cornerstone to which everything else is built. ‘Shout (Kill the Rich)’ is a living, breathing and ever-changing kaleidescopic explosion, it opens with a grimy, chaotic and caustic energy as they explore a sound on the margin with taut drums, jerky riffs and swirls of distortion as it stares dead-eyed, with an ominous, vacant air of menace amid a sense of the otherworldly and rising tide of claustrophobia before reseeding to calmer climes. The gritty makes way for shimmering guitars, warm layers of lush synths and melodic sweetness to offer a sense of comfort and positivity. A magnificent and sprawling exploration – simply stunning!

Listen to ‘Shout (Kill the Rich)’ below:

Sprints – ‘Swimming’

Sprints are Dublin-based post-punk foursome – of Karla Chubb (vocals/guitar), Colm O’Reilly (guitar), Sam McCann (bass) and Jack Callan (drums) – who together, create a raw, raucous and potent post-punk sound – one bursting with a ferocious blend snarling vocals, driving rhythms, meaty riffs, swagger and noise.

Sprints have already left an indelible mark with 2020 singles ‘Manifesto’ & ‘The Cheek’, and are back with ‘Swimming’, the third and final track lifted from their four-track debut EP Manifesto (produced by Daniel Fox from Girlband). ‘Swimming’ is a powerful force of nature, exploding to life with a raucous energy Chubb’s raspy vocal ricochets off the intense locked in rhythmic power below. It is a thunderous ride atop driving bass groove, choppy guitar tone, meaty riffs and pounding drums. Like previous singles, ‘Swimming’ is a huge, explosive, taut and confident anthem – a simply stunning tune.

Listen to ‘Swimming’ below and Sprints’ Manifesto EP is out on March 26.


San Salvo – ‘Khanta’

San Salvo are a neo soul / psych outfit from Brooklyn; a collaborative project of Jared Schapker (Grandpa Jack), Matt C. White and Sean Smith (Rubblebucket / Kaleta & Super Yamba Band).

Together the trio have carved out a rather special place on the musical landscape with timeless psych-infused soul and funk, anchored and propelled by an enviable love of groove. Their new EP ‘Rarities’ is a colourful and imaginative exploration in sound, with a focus on mood and groove, and single ‘Khanta’, provides a succinct distillation of their sonic adventures in four wonderful minutes. Composed of a grooving rhythm section, soaring hornlines, and fuzzed out guitar and psychedelic brush strokes ‘Khanta’, is a churning, winding groover bathed in a swirling haze of shimmering tones, psychedelic keys, and parps of rich brass. ‘Khanta’ is a thrilling and pulsating powerhouse of rhythmic fervour that is totally irresistible and will leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Listen to ‘Khanta’ below – and check out the EP ‘Rarities’ here too.

Beige Banquet – ‘Cold Yoghurt’

Beige Banquet is the solo project of East London-based Tom Brierley who creates drum-machine-driven and self-produced outsider/weirdo/art punk.

Beginning life in early 2020, the project yielded a treasure trove of tracks written and produced in a dank East-London bedroom during the first part of last year in circumstances familiar to many musicians, Brierley switched focus from performing to recording, and the fruit from that labour is debut album BETA.

Brierley offered a taste of what to expect with ‘Wired/Weird’ in December and second single from the album, ‘Cold Yoghurt’ is similarly spikey, agitated and drum-machine-driven post-punk. It is a frenzied jam fueled by metronomic, capping electro beat the underpins the repetitive guitar lines, jerky riffs and sharp rhythm section. This somewhat frenzied sound is perfectly complemented by the stream-of-consciousness lyrics and manic delivery, that seems to have tunnel vision and mirroring the coalescing of the sharp, angular noise that comes together slowly, fusing into a formidable intoxicating jam.

Listen to ‘Cold Yoghurt’ below – and I implore you to check out the new album BETA, 32 minutes of brilliant drum-machine-driven, frenzied guitar wielding mayhem. Stream it here, and it is out now on Just Step Sideways Records

Albums of the Year 2020

Compiling music lists is always a nice way to reflect on a year, so in keeping with tradition, here are my favourite records from 2020.

This year I’ve narrowed it down 10 and there is little between them to be honest. Recommendations from readers will be greatly welcomed.

10.Whyte Horses – ‘Hard Times’

Manchester psych-pop outfit Whyte Horses’ latest endeavor continues on from where 2018’s ‘Empty Words’, as they whisk us off to a land of blissful, dreamy psychedelia, sounding both familiar yet fresh. Ostensibly feeling like a mutating shape-shifting pop art project, ‘Hard Times’ feels like a mixtape with a difference. It isn’t just simply selecting tracks, choosing the running order, but  recording and producing a selection of much-loved songs while rounding up some of your favorite artists into the bargain. Sound like fun? That’s exactly what Whyte Horses have pulled off on their third record.

Listen in full here.

09. Aoife Nessa Frances – ‘Land of No Junction’

Aoife Nessa Frances’ debut album ‘Land of No Junction’ draws from an eclectic array of influences – ’60s psych-pop, offbeat folk, orchestral flourishes and flair for avant-garde – which sounds familiar yet fresh, as it meanders through ever shifting scenery that blurs the lines between dreams and reality. Frances’ smoky vocal is a constant and gripping, and no matter the ever changing environs –  waltzing beats, undulating groove,  rippling guitar lines, hypnotic organ hums or swirling psych or hazy blanket of fuzz – it is a voice that shines like a lighthouse amid a dense bank of fog. Land of No Junction is a serene, hypnotic and stunning debut (and one that could have been called Llandudno Junction). 

Listen in full here.

08. Khruangbin – ‘Mordechai’ 

Texan trio Khruangbin – Laura Lee Ochoa (bass), Mark Speer (guitar), and Donald “DJ” Johnson (drums) – are peerless sonic sorcerers and funky force of nature. Borrowing from a world of influences, theirs, and indeed third album  ‘Mordechai’,  is a colourful coming together of different sound, genres, cultures and era; there is funk, soul and hip hop, some Latin, Middle Eastern and Asian influences and a whole lot of beautiful psychedelia. It is an intoxicating brew, built on seductive grooves and mostly cool, calm and chilled vibes, offering either a zen-like sense of peace or funky, hypnotic groovy seduction – or a coming together of both. This is super chill, beautifully addictive and mellow, ‘Moredechai’ is a record to watch the sun go down.

Listen in full here.

07. Silverbacks – ‘Fad’

Irish post-punk outfit Silverbacks long-awaited debut album was worth the wait. Having patiently building a rep with superb single after superb single, there wasn’t too much doubt that ‘Fad’ would live up to its billing. Unspooling the ingredients of their sound is tough; there are touches of post-punk, art-rock, new wave and 90s indie to name but a few as tracks, built around a motorik rhythm and taut groove, rush past with a whirlwind of shifting multi-sensory sound as triple guitars attack. Lyrics are multi-layered and uniquely Silverbacks. There’s is a sound comparable to a place where parts Talking Heads, Television, LCD Soundsystem and Gang of Four can all coexist and flourish. A debut to remember.

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Swine Tax – ‘Johnny’

Having shared ‘Relax’ in November, Newcastle-upon-Tyne outfit Swine Tax return with the other half of double-a-side, ‘Johnny’.

Swine Tax have proven their credentials for fiery, jagged and infectious post-punk with a slew of singles that are best described as a bit indie, a bit alternative rock, a bit rough-around-the-edges and a whole lot melodic – and the single doesn’t break with tradition. Once again recorded with Barry Hyde of The Futureheads, ‘Johnny’ does however, offer a less frantic and hyperactive side to their sound. Anchored by a sunken, slowly slinking groove, guitars buzz and riffs fuzz while it swaggers atop a motorik beat with vocals soaring passionately above. It is groovy as, and punctuated by bursts of sporadic explosive riffs, burning emotion and epic crescendos. Yet another brilliant blast of post-punk from Swine Tax.

Listen to  ‘Johnny’ below:


Beige Banquet – ‘Wired/Weird’

Formed earlier in 2020, East London-based Beige Banquet (aka Tom Brierley) play drum-machine-driven and self-produced outsider/weirdo/art punk.

‘Wired/Weird’ is the first in a collection of tracks written and produced in a dank East-London bedroom during the first part of 2020 in circumstances familiar to many musicians, Brierley switched focus from performing to recording, and this is the first fruit from that labour. The aptly titled ‘Wired/Weird’ is spikey, agitated and drum-machine-driven post-punk. Fuelled by metronomic beat, repetitive guitar lines, jerky riffs and sharp rhythm section, making for an angular, intoxicating and off-kilter jam. This somewhat frenzied sounds perfectly complement the stream-of-consciousness lyrics and manic delivery – it is unique and brilliant with more promised in 2021.

Listen to ‘Wired/Weird’ below – it is out now on Just Step Sideways Records