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Phil Spector to Roxy Music; Phoenix to MGMT - debut album from Fine Times

Album release: Fine Times (self-titled)
Release date: April 8th 2013
Label: Light Organ Records
Listen: on Bandcamp 

Taking their name from the Woody Allen short story Fine Times: An Oral Memoir, Vancouver duo Fine Times have announced their self-titled debut full-length album will see its UK release this April. Feeling at a bit of a loss in 2010, when their previous project closed shop, Matthew Moldowan and Jeffrey Josiah Powell laid out plans for a new undertaking, with an idea to be as nimble as possible. Just a matter of months later the band were holed up in Vancouver’s Warehouse Studio working with producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara / New Pornographers) on this, their debut album. To celebrate the release, Fine Times are making the first single “Hey Judas” available for free download at RCRD LBL.

“We scrambled. It really happened all of sudden,” says Moldowan, explaining that producer Howard Redekopp opened a small window, and they jumped in. “It seemed a little reckless, but the gamble paid off.” Redekopp added his trademark vintage synths into the record as Moldowan and Powell confidently pounded out their pop sounds. It came to be a perfect fit.

Moldowan modestly admits he cannot stray away from a hook when he says, “I have a short attention span so if a record doesn’t catch me in the first listen or two, I probably won’t put it back on the record player.” 

Already more than making a name for themselves in Canada (with a nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year at the SiriusXM Indies during Canadian Music Week and showcases forthcoming at CMW and SXSW) it is hard to believe that the heart-melting bridge in High Brow Low Times was constructed to simply aid a short attention span. From the grand procession of Lions, to the wall-of-sound synths in Hey Judas and the 80’s-flecked rhythms of And It Happened At Midnight, it’s difficult to tag any tracks as “album filler.” If there’s a lineage of sophisticated, lovingly crafted pop that stretches from Phil Spector, through Roxy Music, to Phoenix and MGMT, then Fine Times is sitting somewhere near the end of it.

Reaction

“Fine Times stay upbeat, transforming their despondency into a youthful, reverb- glazed jingle” – MTVHIVE.com   

“The self-titled effort was produced by Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, The New Pornographers) and features “Hey Judas.” This orchestral rock number feels bigger than two band members, culling together a glittering melody with layers of indie theatrics, synthesizers and soaring vocals.” - RCRDLBL.com 

“Hey Judas relishes in layers of atmospheric synths and guitars… it’s cemented in its own loop that never seems to get old” – INDIESHUFFLE.com 

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STRFKR: New LP, 'Miracle Mile' out April 1

Album release: Miracle Mile by STRFKR
Release date: April 1 2012 
Label: Polyvinyl
Listen: on Bandcamp

It's hard to say exactly when it happened. It could've been during one of the 100+ shows STRFKR played over the past two years - ecstatic sold-out dance parties that started in tiny, sweaty rooms before word of mouth spread and forced a move to larger (and even sweatier) venues.

It might've been when touring guitarist Patrick Morris officially became a full-time member in late 2011, rounding out a line-up that included multi-instrumentalists Josh Hodges, Shawn Glassford, and Keil Corcoran.

Most likely, though, there wasn't a single defining moment when the change occurred. With evolution there rarely is. Instead, progression happens naturally and steadily, each step leading inevitably to the next until you reach a point when you realize how far you've come without even being fully aware of how you got there. 

In early 2012, during a rare break in the group's touring schedule, Hodges retreated to secluded Astoria, Oregon. But this time, rather than completely isolating himself to work on new material (as had always been the case in the past), Hodges invited the other members to visit often and truly collaborate in the process of writing STRFKR's third full-length, Miracle Mile.

And so it was that STRFKR became a band. 

As a result, whether participating in all-night lyric writing sessions, fleshing out song skeletons originally conceived during European soundchecks (Malmo) and long van rides (Leave It All Behind), or completing half-finished ideas kicking around Hodges' brain and hard drive, there isn't a single song on Miracle Mile that every member of STRFKR didn't contribute to and ultimately improve.

For proof, look no further than first single and opening track While I'm Alive, a song that bursts out of the gate with what can only be described as swagger. Not overconfidence or false bravado, but the undeniable sound of a band that knows exactly who they are: swirling keyboards that take you up, down, and all around, rhythmic guitars, irresistible basslines, and drums that keep an unrelenting beat.

Disco-y standout Atlantis is the paragon of this formula, with vocal and musical hooks seemingly custom fitted to a spot so deep inside your eardrums they'll never dislodge.

But upbeat isn't Miracle Mile's only tempo. In fact, it's in quieter moments like Isea, which briefly slows down the album's pulse with gentle "oh-oh-ohs" over acoustic guitar, that the record truly coalesces as a complete whole that couldn't have come together any other way.

Just like STRFKR.

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The Zolas - new single, 'Strange Girl' out 4 March on Light Organ Records

The Zolas

Single release: Strange Girl by The Zolas
Release date: 4 March 2013
Label: Light Organ Records 
Listen: on official website

‘Bouncy and sunkissed 60’s flavoured art-pop… all cutesy Shins melodies and psychedelic ‘shrooms… vintage greatness’ - NME Radar Buzz

‘...has the complex, multi-layered and warm approach of a slew of long-lost, oh so serious, ostensibly unassuming 80s souls … lovingly assembled’ - Q

‘This Canadian duo’s rich powerpop confections show off lush and sweet pop hooks’ - Mojo

‘An engagingly human warmth and unforced sincerity’ - Uncut

‘Zachary Gray's plaintive voice and the exertion of his delivery recall Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst’ - The Observer

‘Oddly beguiling melodies sugared by sweet choruses… a keen sense of disjunction with the modern world’ - The Independent

‘Stunning post-modern pop’ - Artrocker

‘Matching bubblegum melodies to sharp-as-a-tack lyrics… a bookish, poindexter charm’ - Clashmusic.com

‘Expertly straddles the thin line between definite pop sentiment and edgy, minimal instrumentation’ - The 405

After debuting with Tic Toc Tic in 2009, The Zolas scaled the precipice of cult status across their native Canada, thanks to a loyal fanbase carried over from Zach Gray (vocals, guitar) and Tom Dobrzanski’s (piano) earlier years as acclaimed indie rock quartet, Lotus Child. With the band’s sophomore release, Ancient Mars (Dec 2012), they finally broke ground in the UK, scoring reviews across Q, Mojo, Uncut, The Independent and The Observer as well as a coveted slot in NME’s Buzz pages. Former single Knot In My Heart cemented the band as blog favourites, climbing quickly to #1 on Hype Machine, helped by the emergence of a beautiful video which was spotlighted by NME.com, Spinner and NPR. The single also featured on The Line of Best Fit’s January 2013 Oh! Canada Playlist.

Ancient Mars proved to be an album of contrasts and one that saw them bid farewell to the cabaret glitz of Tic Toc Tic, instead favouring reverbed pianos and tough, minimalist percussion. Strange Girl finds The Zolas in their most playful state on the album. As if to offset Ancient Mars’ aesthetic diversity, the lyrics are raw and focused, their tumultuous songwriting capturing the zeitgeist of being in your 20s, on the cusp of youth and real adulthood.

Gray explains:

“We wrote Strange Girl through a series of jams while soundchecking before shows. I had been reading the Ray Davies autobiography and he said something along the lines of 'I don't know how to write hits but I do know that every song of ours that became a hit had a great guitar riff'. I'm not that good at writing guitar riffs but I came up with this one because it reminded me of some summer radio hit from the 90's. We kept it simple. Tom's Wurlitzer part really made it for me rhythmically. Nobody would write a part like that but him.

It’s a different-sounding song from the others but lyrically it fits with the theme of the album: We had something that felt monumental at the time and, like everything else, it ended. All the more reason to appreciate that it even happened at all.”

Strange Girl is released on March 4 via Light Organ Records. 

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Lost Souls: new single / video 'Black Eyes' out on January 21

Single / video releaseBlack Eyes by Lost Souls
Listen / watch: on Youtube

“Their sound is unique in the true sense of the word. Fusing a traditional Brit-rock sound with elements of electronica to create a sound no one has heard on a national scale.” — BBC Introducing 

Lost Souls, an electro-rock'n'roll 5 piece from Lincoln, are releasing a ruthless new track, Black Eyes, with an honourably rebellious art core video to match. 

"Our videos are important to us, being descriptive of our songs but always in a way that's subjective to the listener/viewer. Do we know too much or nowhere near enough? Black Eyes puts the question to you pointing out some observational references that may seem pro conspiracy? Or could they just be word interplay? 

"We tend to pitch our collective viewpoint through an abstraction filter, so what we write is suggestive, rather than a force-fed opinion. There are maybe some things you should question about the world around you and there is every reason to pursue the notion that all is not what it looks to be. Don't be fed every opinion you have. Go out and find your own"

The early Lost Soul’s sound could easily have been described as a postmodern, Manchester-inspired acknowledgement; the electronic influences, as well as the image and language of the band's key lieutenants often alluded to the 90’s baggy cultural references. It was perhaps the second EP’s title, Hidden In Plain Sight though that gave the game away - this wasn’t just a self styled Manchester influenced band, this was in fact a band with much more clout in song-craft and musical chemistry than they were given credit for.

Lost Souls have since moved away and detached themselves from that place in a very short space of time, quickly picking up fans at their commanding live gigs as well as moving on sonically to a place of their own making, which shows how quickly a band can hit the spot when all the elements come together naturally.  

Lost Souls are Sam Warner (vocals), Michael Mckiernan (bass), Tommie Wincott (electronics), Tom Wilkins (drums) & Andy Brown (guitar).

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City Reign - new album, 'Another Step' out February 25

Album releaseAnother Step by City Reign
Release date: 25 February 2013
Label: Car Boot Records
Listen: on official website 

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, said ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. We all have dreams to conquer but few of us have the nerve to put fear aside and chase them by making that first move. Meet Manchester four-piece City Reign. Their full-length debut, Another Step, is a landmark guitar record fuelled by sheer ambition and ‘do or die’ attitude. It’s the culmination of their story so far, yet also just the first step planted on the road ahead.

“Ever since I was seven I’ve had a belief that this is the right thing for me to do. I don’t know how I’d get out of bed if I didn’t feel like I was doing something meaningful musically,” frontman Chris Bull says with conviction. This drive is shared by the three – Chris Bull (vocals/guitar), Michael Grice (guitar), Duncan Bolton (drums) – who’ve become stalwarts of the city’s live scene since moving there to study.

Debut single Making Plans gained praise from Steve Lamacq, who named City Reign one of his favourite new bands. Two more singles (Out In The Cold and Daybreak) and debut EP Numbers For Street Names, further cemented their reputation as a band who stand head and shoulders above the indie landfill. The latter propelled them on a UK tour and led to Clash Magazine asking them to open their inaugural issue launch gig in Manchester, recognising them as one of the best bands on the circuit.

The dream began when Mike Grice (by his own admission, the sexiest ginger haired guitarist since Josh Homme) and Chris Bull met at a Ryan Adams gig in their first year of university; the band's name comes from his City Rain, City Streets track. The two hit it off, bonding over a love of Adams, R.E.M, The National, and the mutual opinion that being in a band was the only way to be.

Their first break came as final year students when as a 21st birthday present Chris’ cousin got them time at Metropolis studio where she was working. Although the session got moved a few times because The Black Eyed Peas had rolled up, eventually they came out with Daybreak and Stay Where You Are, two of the album’s finer moments which mix the self-assurance of early Oasis with their own inimitable anthemic hooks. “After it was done we drove across London with a car full of gear and a two track CD on loop, neither of us saying anything, just beaming because we were so proud. Every time I record now I say if I die tomorrow I’ll be happy because I’ve done that,” says Chris. 

The recording of Another Step took place in Salford’s Sacred Trinity Church, a sublime setting with free reverb coming via the stone walls and high ceiling. Upcoming Mancunian producer Sam Jones (Alex Turner) was at the helm, pushing the band to the limit. The result is an incredible album in which every note, every riff, every coruscating cymbal crash is an affirmation of what it means to be alive, from a group who only feel that way making music.

Recent single Ahead Of Ideas is Chris’ most "heart on a sleeve" song, a lyrical outpouring of both hope and despair, contemplating the highs and lows experienced so far, while building to a musical crescendo that answers any doubts with a string quartet and waves of iridescent guitars. The final line, ‘I think I’ve found what I was looking for’, fits perfectly on one of their finest moments to date.

“For the outro I remember saying to the producer ‘this song needs more chaos’ and I started bashing the church organ, playing really random notes. I had my headphones on and I couldn’t hear it. I was just thinking this’ll sound like jazz. It’ll be great. I turned around and the string quartet had just turned up and looked baffled. These super-talented, classically trained, proper musicians had been listening to this cacophonous mess for the last two minutes,” says Mike.

The quartet also feature on Retaliate, an intimate moment which instantly leaps out on first listen for its stripped-back openness – a real emotive track in which electric guitars are left behind. It’s an outstanding highlight which almost didn’t occur: “We had the recording session interrupted by a funeral,” laugh’s Mike. “A couple of old blokes walked into the church with an invitation to a memorial. It turned out the priest had double-booked it!”

Luckily everything made it onto the album, the unrelenting energy behind Anchor, the screeching guitar riffs of Making Plans, and the pounding drum march on The Line. This is indie done properly, like it used to be, made by people who live the music, not some disaffected hipsters.

For City Reign it was simple, either ‘get up every morning, go out and work hard for the things you don’t love’, as sung on See What It’s Worth, or take heed of Ahead Of Ideas’ lyrics – “Fill your heart full of conviction and take to the stage.”

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The Finest Hour - indie, ska and rock come together to produce fantastic debut

Album release: These Are The Good Old Days by The Finest Hour
Release date: 1 October 2012
Listen: http://thefinesthour.bandcamp.com/

“Absolutely brilliant.” - BBC Raw Talent

“The guys mix flavours of indie, rock and ska vibes to produce infectious grooves with terrace anthem lyrics carrying a veiled social comment.” - AltSounds

This impressive debut album from The Finest Hour is packed full of confidence, ambition and an energetic trip through several different musical genres.

With its big chorus, overdriven guitar and cymbal smashing drum tracks, the opening track Never Heard of Dylan highlights the band’s ability to play feel-good summer rock; later on in the album, tracks like Pocket Change showcase the wider range of influences behind the album, which manages to take in punk, ska and spirited anthemic rock whilst still maintaining a solid coherence throughout and delivering consistently strong melodies.

Based in the Cleethorpes/Grimsby area of Lincolnshire, The Finest Hour draw their influence from indie, punk, ska and folk. They have toured the UK extensively, playing alongside the likes of Neville Staple, Chris Helme & The Yards, Mystery Jets, Orphan Boy, and Zane Lowe. The band's taste in venue is as diverse as their taste in music – recent gigs included a set on an ice-cream parlour roof; a 4am performance in a Travelodge at King Cross; and a concert in the kitchen of a halls of residence in Salford. 

In the build-up to the release, the band recently released a free download of the opening track Never Heard Of Dylan (available from their Bandcamp page) and picked up airplay from John Kennedy at XFM. 

This record not only showcases what The Finest Hour can emulate, but also gives clear insight into the direction in which they want to head. These Are The Good Old Days offers a fine introduction to their music, and bags of promise. 

Tour dates

The band will be playing a promotional tour throughout September playing eight dates:

  • Saturday 25th August at The Roadhouse, Manchester
  • Saturday 1st September - Sheffield - Britfest (afternoon slot)
  • Saturday 1st September - Scunthorpe - Lincoln Imp (w/ Danny Mahon and Deadbeat Echoes)
  • Wednesday 5th September - West Street Live - Sheffield
  • Thursday 6th September - Duke Of Cumberland - Cottingham, Hull
  • Tuesday 11th September at The Sesh, Linnet & Lark in Hull
  • Thursday 13th September – The Variety – Preston 
  • Friday 14th September - Grimsby - Spider's Web
  • Saturday 29th September - Doncaster - Vintage Rock Bar

More information

For all press enquiries please contact Chris Singleton on chris@prescriptionpr.co.uk

 

 

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Mode Moderne: Strange Bruises

Album release: Strange Bruises by Mode Moderne
Release date: September 3 2012
Label: Light Organ Records
Listen: http://modemoderne.bandcamp.com/album/strange-bruises

"Particularly shadowy…" – Pitchfork Best New Music 

"A classic blend of beauty and darkness" - This Is Fake DIY

"Pulsing drum machines, swathy synthesizers, ethereal guitar leads, and blankets of ambient-satin. Let’s welcome the new age." - Weird Canada

Canada’s Mode Moderne have a penchant for all things dark and gloomy, but that doesn’t get in the way of their quest for the perfect pop song. They formed in late 2008, when Clint Lofkrantz approached Felix Fung with plans to start a dance-oriented project. Teaming up with singer Phillip Intilé, the musicians spent the bleak winter months holed up in studio, listening to records and bonding over their love of classic indie and mope-pop.

They wrote and recorded at a prolific song-a-day pace, turning Lofkrantz's scratchy mobile phone demos into sweeping, synth-laden studio epics. The songs were further brought to life with help from Intilé's sonorous vocals and brooding, image-rich lyrics. Drawing on the auteurism of Herzog, the prose of Knut Hamsun and the legend of Scott Walker, his words blended the autobiographical with the imagined.

They self-released their acclaimed debut Ghost Emerging on vinyl in 2009 and as their reputation grew, they signed to Vancouver’s Light Organ Records, who released new material from the band in the form of the 7” single Real Goths / Undiscovered Country in 2011. This led to further attention from the likes of Pitchfork and live dates with the likes of Blouse, Fresh and Onlys and Raveonettes.

Strange Bruises is a follow-up to the first full-length, featuring 7 tracks of ethereal and atmospheric indie, evoking a goth-er Psychdelic Furs or a jangly-er Echo & The Bunnymen and the more current reference points of Primary Colours-era The Horrors, Crystal Stilts and Wild Nothing.

What sets Mode Moderne apart from the pack is the strength of their songwriting. Both Foul Weather Fare and the cyclical suss of the title track measure up equal part misery to equal part joyous melody, wheras Private Library and Electrocute Me in turn feature memorable, pitch black ruminations from Intile.

Their first UK release, Strange Bruises is always as elegant as it is elegiac, always as tuneful as it is mournful, and a fine introduction to an act who are fast becoming an institution in their home country.

 

Track list:

1. Nightly Youths
2. Foul Weather Fare
3. Strange Bruises
4. Guns
5. Private Library
6. Electrocute Me
7. Open Air

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The Wedding Present - new album and world tour

Album release: The Wedding Present, Valentina
Release date: March 19 2012
LabelScopitones

The Wedding Present will be releasing their much-anticipated eighth studio album Valentina on March 19 2012, released in the UK on their own Scopitones label. It was recorded by the group in France, California and Brighton during 2011 and mixed by Andrew Scheps (whose past credits include Metallica, Iggy Pop and Johnny Cash).

The ten track Valentina comes four years after 2008’s El Rey, the longer than usual delay reflecting The Wedding Present’s commitment to touring and other side projects involving the group’s founding member, David Gedge.

Valentina is performed by:

  • David Gedge: Singing, guitars and percussion
  • Graeme Ramsay (co-writer with Gedge of all but one of the songs on the album): guitars, piano, harmonium
  • Pepe le Moko: bass and backing vocals
  • Charles Layton: drums and percussion

Following an album launch event at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, the band will be embarking on a month long tour of North America. This tour will be extra special because, as well as celebrating the release of Valentina, they will be playing their classic album Seamonsters live, in its entirety. The Wedding Present recorded Seamonsters with Steve Albini in 1991.

Following the North American dates, the band will also be playing Valentina and Seamonsters in Australia, Japan and Continental Europe before bringing the whole event home with an extensive tour of The United Kingdom and Ireland in the autumn.

Aside from a hiatus between 1998 and 2005 when he focused on recording and touring with Cinerama, David Gedge has been fronting The Wedding Present since 1985 when the Leeds-based four piece released its debut single, Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy! for their own independent Reception Records label. Since then the group have had 18 Top Forty singles.

Albums include the group’s first major critical and commercial breakthrough with 1987’s George Best and Bizarro, which provided their first hit singles Kennedy and BrassneckTake Fountain marked the group’s return in 2005, Mojo commenting “that Gedge has never before assimilated harsh rock textures to orchestral arrangements with such power” and The Times asserting that it confirmed Gedge’s “status as an extraordinary songwriter.”

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Skint and Demoralised: This Sporting Life

Skint and Demoralised: This Sporting Life 
Release date: March 12, 2012
Label: Heist Or Hit Records
Listen: http://soundcloud.com/heistorhitrecords/sets/skint-demoralised-this/s-lb6zs

"Wakefield’s most articulate street poet finds the romance beneath the realism"NME
"Joyously unapologetic Northern romp"Steve Lamacq, BBC 6 Music
"Uncannily memorable, chirpy, cheeky, loveable sensitive-geezer soul-rap ditties"Guardian
"Reminiscent of early The Streets, with nods to Squeeze, The Jam and Northern Soul"The Times

When Yorkshire performance poet Skint & Demoralised (Matt Abbott) signed with Mercury in 2008 the debut album, ‘Love & Other Catastrophes’, drew incredible support from press and radio alike. Featured as Q’s Next Big Thing, the accolades flooded in from Clash, The Independent, Sunday Times Culture and The Guardian, while radio support for the single Red Lipstick followed from Sara Cox, Zane Lowe, Colin Murray, Huw Stephens, Steve Lamacq, Nick Grimshaw, Annie Mac, Dermot O'Leary, Janice Long, and Chris Moyles. 

As a poet first and foremost, lyricist second, and front-man third, it’s logical that TSL would absorb some of John Cooper Clarke’s charismatically uncouth, humorous and honest musings on life and British culture. When Abbott initially made the transition to performance poet, it presented a multitude of opportunities to be counted as a musical act, and so lyricists like Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Shane MacGowan, Morrissey, Billy Bragg, Guy Garvey, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, all helped to shape the Skint & Demoralised sound.

This Sporting Life is a record owing more to cinematic and literary sources than musical ones. However, the band’s mutual love for The Pogues was behind ‘The Lonely Hearts of England’ and Abbott’s obsession with Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan inspired ‘Maria, Full of Grace’.
Lead single ‘All The Rest Is Propaganda’ is a famous quote from Alan Sillitoe’s novel ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’. Lyrically it aims to capture first of all the uncertainty and insecurity, and then second of all the untouchable joy, of a new relationship.

Just as the album title suggests, inspiration for This Sporting Life’s lyrical themes stem from the British new wave of cinema in the early 60s; ‘kitchen-sink’ dramas that were based in typically grim Northern towns, documenting the classic “angry young man” character and focusing on romance, social politics, coming-of-age and the general struggles of young working class people. Films such as ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’, ‘A Taste of Honey’, ‘Room at the Top’, ‘A Kind of Loving’ and of course ‘This Sporting Life’ captivated Abbott as he rebuilt the Skint & Demoralised band set-up. Just as these features captured the universal simplicity of British working class life, and the poignancy of the relationships between the characters, Abbott’s own story-telling styles re-imagine this important legacy, making This Sporting Life feel like a tapestry depiction of the British every-man’s collective mentality. 

"The themes touched upon in the likes of 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' and 'A Taste of Honey' are as relevant now as they were when they were written in the late 1950s, and it's these themes that I love to try and replicate. No matter how politics and technology changes, these are the issues that will continue to dominate our lives for another 50 years to come”.

ith Abbott taking this approach, TSL has every chance of standing the test of time as well.

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