BFTE Mix | June 2017

So, something I always intended to do when starting this was to put together end of month mixes ala FWBA when that was still up and running. Not everyone has the time or the wherewithal to go hunting down the Hype Machine etc all day every day trying to find something to replace the endless Toto that is on everyone’s playlist. Yes, it is always total. So, voila!

Now, not everything in this playlist has been featured on Beer For The Ear this month. It’s purely a sense of choice. There is far too much music out there to continuously share everything I think worthwhile and, inevitably, I feel it is just as important to showcase acts that you may not find otherwise as opposed to the latest releases by bigger names. Don’t get me wrong, if I think something is worth sharing from a massive name I will 100% put it in, but I think most of my readers will already be aware of some of the larger presences. So this mix is a combination of my favourite featured posts and some of the other stuff I’ve had on repeat this month for you all to peruse at your leisure.

Strenth and honour!

Last Leaves | The World We Had

I always really liked The Lucksmiths. They were this Belle & Sebastian-esque Australian indie pop band that soundtracked my low-key angsty adolescence. Breakups? Check. Adult uselessness? Check. Overt self-indulgent misery? Check check check. I so often felt that my future would include some kind of romantic struggle. That I would be some artist, musician or writer living in an inner city never quite making it but staying true to some kind of idealistic indie ideology of poetic bleakness. The Lucksmiths were my allies in this future projection. Whether it was “The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco” showcasing the pathetic longing for a missing love or “A Hiccup In Your Happiness” attesting to my fear of breaking up with someone wholly unsuitable for me, The Lucksmiths spoke my language of self-indulgent misery. I was a little bit emo sometimes.

So, to my great enjoyment, 3 of the 4 have returned with their new band Last Leaves. This new iteration retains much of the wit and delivery of The Lucksmiths but attaches it with a crunchier, more rustic musicianship, eschewing the breezy indie pop that preceded this iteration whilst retaining a vocal delivery both dreamy and vulnerable. The new single The World We Had, released yesterday on the label Lost and Lonesome, introduces us into the narrative of a new lover and the experiences that we relate to via proxy along with the band.  We all build worlds with the people we love and the feeling when they change or are removed is exactly that. World ending. It’s a process of grieving for the familiar, the safe and the wanted whilst adjusting to that which is alien. Last Leaves, in keeping with their Lucksmiths legacy, showcase this perfectly.

BOYS | Dreamland

Jingle jangle fuck the rain. Seriously, London has got to be one of the most miserable places when the heavens open. It’s like some macabre slate-grey Instagram filter is drawn across the city and people suddenly become frightening automatons hiding their artificial nature behind the facade of an umbrella or recessed into a hooded jacket. In these moments, I lack energy. Being a solar-powered person, ridiculous considering I spent two and a half years in Scotland, I suddenly become frustrated by a lack of productivity yet utterly devoid of the ability to make amends.

BOYS, however, manage to alleviate this feeling with a smart combination of the jangly pop guitar tones with a lo-fi production aesthetic that encapsulates what a warm wet June Tuesday is on their latest track Dreamland. It’s hard to turn their chosen guitar tone into anything that isn’t LA summer rock. Instead, the track is introspective without being morose and just expansive enough in its production values to allow the sparse musical arrangements to filter in behind frontman Ross Pearce’s Real Estate-esque delivery.

Dreamland is, the lead single and title-track from their second EP out later this summer.

Live Dates 

22 July – Tooting Tram & Social, London

18 Aug – The Delancey, New York City

Living | Path

Thank god it’s Friday man. I’m currently on my lunch break, desperately trying to post this before I finish my triangular Sainsburys sandwich and head back to work. Side-note, how did the British get sandwiches so god damn wrong? It’s bread plus stuff, the possibilities are endless but nope, enjoy your ham triangles. It’s a travesty. Anyway, I digress, today sees the new single Path released by Living and it’s perfect for the mood-raising necessary for that final push through the work week.

Butterfly-like samples introduce us to a beautifully resolved summer festival track from Brazil’s Lucas de Almeida’s current project. Attempting to produce a track so unashamedly positive and optimistic can often result in a product that is like a pitcher of Pimms. Boring, unnecessary and seems like a good idea right up until you actually try it.

Instead, Living, have produced a track with the necessary musical maturity without straying into the cynical. Instead we are left with an effortless breezy pop-track ready to soundtrack the relaxing of muscles on Friday evening. Let it carry you to a rooftop where you can buy a drink that isn’t Pimms. Path was out today so go check it out.

Lo Tom | Covered Wagon

David Bazan has been a consistent and constant presence in my listening history for the past decade and more. From Pedro the Lion, Headphones and his solo records, Bazan has managed to construct my own life experience into an oeuvre that spans genres whilst maintaining his own trademark minimalist delivery, whether that be via guitar tone or laconic, silently angry, vocal performances.

He’s also a workaholic. Whilst I struggle to actually get on with my regular day, he seems to be working on endless projects. His latest solo record, “Care,” was released just three months ago and now, his latest project Lo Tom have dropped their latest single Covered Wagon for you to dip your cheeky little toes into.

As I mentioned previously, Bazan is a man that spans genres. Lo Tom, a project with Trey Many, TW Walsh and Jason Martin, has been described as “genuine rock n roll that doesn’t take itself too seriously.” Honestly, not a bad way to put it. Covered Wagon, released today, thunders away with post-grunge riffs and gives Bazan a platform for his narrative lyrical structure. It’s unashamedly taking the Pedro the Lion and Strange Negotiations legacy and twisting it into an angrier, pulsating snarl of a track. Bazan may be the eternal indie rock loyalist but still has enough fire under the butt to eschew the contemplative for the anthemic

Honeymilk | Trip

How did I miss this? I can answer my own question there I guess. The process of regularly making time to blog means that, inevitably, when I regain focus I am rusty in my musical tentacle reach. I’m like a sleepy hipster octopus.

Honeymilk’s latest single Trip, sneaking past me like a ninja going to the toilet at midnight, is a 2003-style indie hit in the making. If you put Belle & Sebastian and garage rock in the Hadron Collider, Honeymilk would be the end product. The Belle & Sebastian comparison is apt for the band. Both artists construct morose lyrical procedures that are offset by jaunty, almost optimistic musical arrangements. Despite being Swedish, the Stockholm natives’ approach speaks to my British sensibilities of being chipper in the face of certain disaster. Think Hugh Grant in a beanie hat living in contemporary Shoreditch.

Trip was released June 14th on Birds Records and is available now, so what have you got lose by checking it out on Spotify? Look out for their sophomore album dropping Autumn this year.

Happyness | Uptrend / Style Raids

I remember I once tried to start a band. It was the first time actually, I’ve been in a few. I identified the only other person at my school who played an instrument who didn’t intimidate me, (a guy called Ross who is still a good pal actually) and we made the necessary big plans. We picked a name, started a Myspace page, downloaded Audacity and found a mic. These actions subsequently giving birth to the short-lived, roman candle career of adolescent rock gods “Hit Or Miss.”

I actually found the Myspace page recently, I’ve obviously since deleted it because I’m not subjecting myself to that level of scorn (the pictures of me trying to emulate Slash’s haircut need to, frankly, pass onto the great beyond), and realised one of the tracks was me literally playing guitar scales over my friends sick beatz. I remember going to school the next day, proud of my achievements, before promptly getting “hedged” (yeah it does mean getting thrown in a bush), because “scales aren’t music.”

So, with that in mind, how the fuck have Happyness got away with it? Putting aside my bitterness I’ll try and explain. Taking early blues licks and structures (it’s such a classic blues bass structure), the latest single “Uptrend / Style Raids” brings together the aforementioned timeless staples with psychedelic low-fi influences that don’t sound out of place on an Unknown Mortal Orchestra record. It’s a track of hypnotic nature in which the musicianship both drives you through with the repititive blues motifs before jarring you with the psychedilc infused chords. All of this serves to carry the obsessive poetry of the sometimes rambling, sometimes profound vocal delivery.

Uptrends / Style Raids is the latest single taken from the excellent record Write In which has now been released worldwide via Moshi Moshi.

Happyness playing the following festivals over the summer

July 15 – Readipop Festival, Reading
July 16 – Latitude Festival, Suffolk
July 21 – Deer Shed Festival, Thirsk
July 29 – Three Wheel Drive Festival
Aug 03 – Fengaros, Cyprus
Aug 05 – Visions Festival, London
Aug 11 – Ventnor International Festival, Isle of Wight
Aug 18 – Green Man Festival, Wales
Aug 27 – Art Is Hard All Dayer, Bristol
Sept 30 – The Nil By Mouth Sessions (Sky Club), San Giljan, Malta
JUST ANNOUNCED: Oct 27 – The Garage, London [buy tickets]