The Libertines – What A Waster

In 2002 the British music scene was in dire need of resuscitation. Britpop was dead, a bunch of Radiohead soundalikes were picking at it’s bones and Melody Maker were trying to make icons of JJ72 and King Adora with little to no public interest. Over in the States The Strokes, The White Stripes and Interpol were stirring up a leather jacket rock revival, NME were attempting an international New Rock Revolution and The Vines were resurrecting grunge in Australia, but Britain was still struggling to find some rock’n’roll to believe in.

Enter The Libertines in gaffer taped skinny jeans, coldstream guard tunics, beat up guitars and a 7” copy of debut Rough Trade single ‘What A Waster’ grasped in their grubby mitts, up and ready to give UK music a punch up the bracket. OK, there were already a few bands having a go, The Cooper Temple Clause and Hoggboy to name a couple, with varying degrees of success, but it was The Libertines who would end up with all eyes on them for the longest and arguably had the most vital, life-affirming, fandom inspiring tunes.

‘What A Waster’ was the spunky product of a band desperate to set the scene alight with a youthful fire in their belly and punk rock on their record player. With a title almost wholesale lifted from a 1978 Ian Drury and the Blockheads single, and Pete Doherty adopting a vocal style not unlike Drury’s as well, for their first trick the London foursome distilled the whole pantheon of vintage musical sparks from The Jam all the way down to The Kinks into a nifty three minutes, infusing an English sound with a speedy ramshackle energy, clanging, screeching, guitars, harmonious backing vocals and humour that had been missing from British music for too many years. Part The Clash, part The Smiths, part Chas’n’Dave, part victorian music hall.

The lyrics reference British icons – James Joyce, the Bible and the Beano, in a format that could have made for a comic book strip in and of itself, a tale ironically sketching an unglamorous image of drug abuse, the esoteric act of jotting down dreams to suss out the subconscious and, according to the band, a discarded topical mention of the Taliban just nine months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 (“save me from tomorrow man, save me from the Taliban). The lexicon purposefully pilfers a wash of working class insults – “what a divvy, what a fucking div/ talking like a moron, walking like a spiv”, shamelessly and gleefully containing enough expletives – “what a fucking waster”, “you pissed it all up the wall”, “mind yer bleeding own yer two bob cunt” to recklessly guarantee no radio station in the world would touch the song with a barge pole.

The single’s other tracks were easier to pigeonhole than the first – I Get Along more overly inspired by The Velvet Underground or The Strokes, seeing Carl Barat deliver one of the group’s most quoted lines: “I get along just singing my song, people tell me I’m wrong… Fuck ‘em!” and Mayday, a perfectly succinct punk furore about the May Day riots of 2001, that the Sex Pistols would have been jealous of.

Twenty years later, knowing what we know about the road The Libertines would find themselves careening down, we can see the single as a snapshot of the havoc they were destined to wreak but at the time, when reading about the Boys in the Band on the cover of the NME, picking the CD up off the Our Price shelves and sticking it into our CD players at home, all we knew was a bloody great knees up was about to be had.

To mark the 20th anniversary of What A Waster’s original release on 3rd June 2002, The Libertines have rereleased the single on 7″, currently available to buy on their official site.

They have also launched a digital ‘What A Waster/I Get Along Live at the ICA 03/06/2002 EP‘ recorded across the road from Buckingham Palace on the single’s original release date – The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, available to stream on all of the streaming sites. Both 7″ and streaming EP were released on 03/06/2022.

We’ve linked the Live At The ICA 03/06/2002 for you to hear on Spotify below:

Dead Freights – Who Said Scared?

A mischievous mood of violence and tension cloaks ‘Who Said Scared?’ from the off, as Dead Freights beckon in their second single on 25 Hour Convenience Store records with a slow, ringing guitar and a horror film soundtrack sheen – singer Charlie James lyrics poetically digging darkly into an ill-fated relationship: “she said “bury me honey, I’m a wretch”, and then slept next to the skull on my arm”.

The initial scene is set and a slow building chorus evilly coos the track’s title over a metronomic drum beat. A sense of unease builds, boils over and the main horror attack strikes with big filthy riffs, foreboding bass and a speedy, paranoid pace, “she crept like a threat that I hadn’t noticed yet, like she could sense the sense of regret in the back of my head. Well who said scared? Asleep under the monster’s bed” James intones and by the song’s end he’s shouting the title with a shaky air of false bravado.

A song of myriad parts, tempos and animalistic mettle, ‘Who Said Scared?’ is a sure sign of the knockout stockpile of tracks Dead Freights have up their sinister sleeves and is no doubt going to go down a storm in the lads live sets for many moons to come.

‘Who Said Scared?’ was released on all streaming platforms on 1st June 2022. You can find the youtube link below:

Suede – She Still Leads Me On

The original snake-hipped pioneer kings of Britpop are back with a gorgeous first single from their ninth studio album ‘Autofiction’ – a term meaning half autobiography, half fiction. Lead singer Brett Anderson described the forthcoming LP as “our punk record. No whistles and bells. Just the five of us in a room with all the glitches and fuck-ups revealed; the band themselves exposed in all their primal mess” and it is testament to Suede’s versatile genius that, where thirty years previous they plumbed seedily romantic subject matter depths of smoking heroin in high rise flats and shitting out over-the-counter painkillers on escalators, ‘She Still Leads Me On’ is an emotional and genuinely touching tribute to the frontman’s late mother who passed away in 1989, before Suede even caught a whiff of fame and success/excess.

Suede’s comeback record, after spending time revisiting 1996’s momentous album ‘Coming Up’ through live anniversary shows, is chock-full of screeching feedback, Richard Oakes trademark chiming glam rock guitar, clipped a little into punky clangs, and Anderson still achieving the high notes, warbling with renewed passion, vigour and life that could only come from fully regaining the demon he swore to find again after the group split for the first time. The song itself, relatable to anyone who has experienced the hurt of grieving a lost parent and who still looks to them for inspiration when they’re no longer around in human form, built on simple but affecting lyrics like “But I loved her with my last breath/ And I loved her with a love that was strong as death”.

Even when Suede aren’t telling sexy, grubby stories of glamorously tortured down and out London lowlife and instead turn their attention to personal human connection and family, the narrative remains strong, evocative and every bit as vital. For the London quintet to choose this sensitive, fragile subject matter to launch a visceral, punk rock album is evidence of a group still striving to break new, daring ground after thirty successful years.

‘Autofiction’ is due for release on 16th September 2022 and can be pre-ordered in all manner of bundles through the band’s official webstore.

‘She Still Leads Me On’ was released on 23rd May 2022 and was produced by their long time producer Ed Buller. Have a listen to the song below:

Shadow Bones – Over and Out

Shadow Bones comes from Surrey, England, and his latest single ‘Over and Out’ is a ginormous, warm, caring hug for anyone battling addiction and despair. The artist also known as Luke Williams describes his musical genre as indie americana and ‘Over and Out’ is positioned somewhere between Tom Petty, Teenage Fanclub and Green Day when they when they cast off their punk rock riotousness and embrace their tuneful melodiousness.

Photo Credit: Coastline Media

Williams uses his musical platform to reflect on his own seven year journey through sobriety, making his way to a level of personal peace and the clear, calm realisation at the end of a relationship, a time that could previously have signalled further breakdown and confusion, that: “All I ever really wanted was all I ever really had/ Yeah all I ever really wanted, was to be happy/ I hope you understand”. Aside from the heartening sentiment the record also has a cracking harmonica part – something that, when done as well as this, lifts a great song into the realms of excellence.

Check out the touching video for ‘Over and Out’ below, featuring Shadow Bones looking back over a relationship through the medium of loved-up super 8 seaside footage:

The Gulps – King of the Disco

We’ve only heard three singles from The Gulps so far but Camden’s latest lairy residents are already jostling hard for the title of ‘Saviours of Indie Rock’n’Roll’ and latest single ‘King of the Disco’ cements their claim to a place in rock royalty even further.

Evoking the party energy Blur hacked into on mega-single ‘Girls & Boys’, The Gulps turn their guitars down in the mix for a moment and ignite a massive knees up in the middle of the alternative music scene, basically forcing us to dance/pogo/mosh with a mind-warpingly infectious sample and a stupidly addictive chorus. If you’re not emphatically chanting “I’m the king of the discooo” at your neighbour’s cat after hearing it then you haven’t been listening properly.

The Gulps hail from all across Europe and the Middle East but have adopted the UK as their musical home and are about to embark on a nearly-sold-out tour (there are only a few tickets left for Glasgow – The Hug and Pint – 2nd June 2022 at the time of writing).

The lads are signed to Alan McGee’s It’s Creation Baby and a debut album is currently being concocted. ‘King of the Disco’ is available on all streaming platforms NOW, released today – 27th May 2022. Find the Spotify link below:

Jack Valero – Heaven Help Me

Lockdown forestalled all of our lives for a dull couple of years, which was painful enough for us average joes bashing wooden spoons on saucepans outside our houses on a Thursday evening, painful also for the entertainment industry whose main outlets were closed up, stuck in furlough, painful especially for those people who had to put their dreams on the backburner until the moment passed, at a time when it felt like it would never pass.

Jack Velero was one such stranded musician, having just set out to make waves with his ex-band The RPMs. Instead he embraced livestreams and built up an arsenal of songs to let loose when the nightlife doors opened back up again. Valero’s debut, ‘Heaven Help Me’, is one of those lockdown-nurtured songs. A tender acoustic and piano strum, in part exploring the effects of being stuck indoors on a young artist hungry to chase his vision and the effect enforced limitation had on his small-screen personal life, chucking his hands up to fate for support in a period of history when even human connection was put on pause.

Now COVID lockdown is all but over and done with, Jack has spent the past few weeks out on the road with fellow solo-musician Will Varley. He also found time to produce a video for his current single – an inverse David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ – Valero playing an astronaut stuck on earth instead of stuck in space.

‘Heaven Help Me’ was released on 11th April 2022. Have a watch of the video below:

Ynes – Fake What Your Mama Gave Ya

Ynes has one splendidly succinct message to communicate through new single ‘Fake What Your Mama Gave Ya’. If, after hearing the sassily divine track, you’re still in the dark, she spelt it out simply in under 280 characters on Twitter: “Fuck middle class indie boys”. And after listening to her take down of £1000 ripped up fast fashion jackets, fake accents and poverty tourism your response can only be a chin stroking nod of agreement or a fist pump and resoundingly fierce “Hell yeah!”

Sonically, the English-Canadian musician takes her cues from 70s punk artists like X-Ray Spex and The Slits, with a little sprinkling of britpop melody, but her indignant fury and razor sharp observation is strictly for present day social media and the 2022 music scene (although, quite frankly, this is a tale as old as time). Ynes delivers her missive with an appreciable measure of humour, likely to keep her sanity intact, but ‘Fake What Your Mama Gave Ya’ acts as a perfect velvet gloved sucker punch to influencers with rich parents who can glibly demand “quit your job… Because you don’t need one!”.

Credit: @mindofmaria_

‘Fake What Your Mama Gave Ya’ is out on all streaming platforms right this very moment and we highly recommend you give the Spotify link a tap below for a listen:

Grace Calver – Bored Of U

On her shiny new second single, ‘Bored Of U’, singer-songwriter Grace Calver uses weapons of dreamy pure pop, delicious honesty and purposefully cheesy harmonies to stick it to an ex-partner who refuses to get their shit together. Somehow, the 18 year old artist has managed to create a superbly sunny soundtrack for the summer while maintaining her aloofness one hundred percent.

Credit: JoLi Studios

Grace exhibits her adroit multi-instrumentalism by playing floaty guitar, bass and synth as well as performing vocals on the track and although Lily Allen and Kate Nash comparisons are sure to be bandied about, Calver’s influences of The Cure and Declan McKenna are glowingly apparent in the track’s strong, dreamy guitar line and melody.

‘Bored Of U’ is out today, 20th May 2022, and you can find it on all of the streaming services right now. If you want to have a listen on Spotify you can tap below:

Phoebe Bridgers – Sidelines

On the face of it, ‘Sidelines’, the song Phoebe Bridgers has contributed to the soundtrack of BBC TV show ‘Conversations With Friends’ is a low key departure from the guitar-based material that made up her past two albums, a childlike ditty built around a simple, chiming keyboard melody.

Give it a little more time though, and the wrenching enormity of Bridgers’ lyrics kick in – what was at first a pretty, rudimentary tune turns into an Imogen Heap level heart-aching beast as the 27-year old singer professes her anxiety over finding a person more important than herself to give a meaning to life where she thinks that before she would actually have been cool with dying, “Watching the world from the sidelines, Had nothing to prove, ‘Til you came into my life, Gave me something to lose”, which could be a blessing or a curse.

‘Sidelines’ is currently a standalone soundtrack release with no immediate plans for a follow-up album or anything. It’s available to stream on all the streaming services right now.

A promo video accompanies the release, using footage from ‘Conversations With Friends’ spliced with studio footage from the song’s recording. The show itself has been widely declared as pretty crappy, so it’s probably worth avoiding, but if you did want to check it out it’s on BBC 3 every Sunday night. You can see the video below:

Night Swims – Idle/Wild

Hopping over the Atlantic for a little bit, Night Swims is the stateside project of singer and guitarist Michael Thomas. Conceived in San Diego in the middle of 2020, the group’s perfectly monikered debut album ‘Idle/Wild’ is an upshot of the environment and era that created it, at times wild and at times slower paced, melding together Americana and psychedelic rock in California at a time when the world was at a standstill.

The record pendulates between styles while weaving solid, epic soundscapes, like Doves managed at the height of their game. The group’s first single, ‘Neverless’, uses trombone to raise the listener up, ‘Rosé Pools’ favours a speedy drumbeat and distorted vocals to induce rapture. Equally moving are ‘Burlap’, ‘Hide Your Dreams’ and ‘Wild Things Roam’, which use the slower, Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver school of layered acoustic songwriting to raise consciousness levels and communicate a savage beauty. Lyrically, Thomas allows his audience a glimpse into his inner world, a world in which he contemplates authenticity, acceptance, forgiveness and non-forgiveness, pain and the human experience.

‘Idle/Wild’ was released on 11 February 2022, ‘Neverless’ came out on 4th February 2022 and latest single ‘After All’ got it’s own release on 22nd April 2022. All tracks are available to find on all streaming sites and Night Swims bandcamp right now.

Have a look below to find a luscious acoustic version of album track ‘Glass Animals’: