Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: Low Hummer

When I first discovered Hull’s synth-tastic rockers ‘Low Hummer’ they were named Le Bête Blooms. Since watching their name and lineup change over the years, I’ve been absolutely fascinated by their almost in-between sound of Pulp’s ‘Common People’ and Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’. A complete throwback to 80s and 90s British music, but in the most relevant way for today. Sounds to drag you back and lyrics to push you forward.

Inspired by the likes of Elastica, Pixies, LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads, and with a tasty vocal dynamic from two lead vocalists Daniel Mawer and Aimée Duncan, Low Hummer deliver this beautiful contrasting sound of angst with snarky delivery, as well as taking the complete lead in some songs and really showing off what they’ve got to offer.

‘Sometimes I Wish (I Was A Different Person)’ is a brilliant commentary on modern consumerism and the way society affects things such as personal states and the way we take in mainstream media, with the band stating that “The song is about how we consume news from screens and the way in which this can detract from our personal relationships and real lives”. Musically it’s just so refreshing, which is weird to say about such a nostalgic sound but it’s such a dead-on specific sound that died with the age of the new millennium.

Take Arms is their latest single and my favourite. This is the track that got me into Low Hummer, or Le Bête Blooms as they were known back then. The fat synth line that carries the song, the fed-up and anger filled message, the devilish duo of male and female vocals and the characteristics of this small and skint northerner band, what’s not to like? The guitars that pick up in the chorus, thick distortion and the almost agitated synth-ish guitar lead that fills in the deeper parts of it, I can’t physically show a chef’s kiss right here but trust me, that’s what this song does to you.

Picture Bliss takes a bit of a different turn to the likes of the tracks I’ve glossed over above, but it’s all within the Low Hummer neighbourhood, a bit more traditionally indie, evoking some of those gorgeous Pixies vibes. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a sweet romantic coming of age song upon first listen, however as said by Daniel in context to Picture Bliss; “I wrote the song about two strangers who find each other moments before the world self-destructs, they realise how lucky their lives have been, but still feel cheated to have only just met each other moments before the planet collapses. I tend not to write happy songs… but I’d like to think it serves as a nice optimistic song if you don’t bother to read into the subject matter!” However, if you read into the song, it’s clear to me that the band have a natural knack for writing great anthems for the 20th-century kid stuck in a dystopian 21st century now. 

I’ll wrap this up with the first single ever released under the name Low Hummer just over a year ago now, ‘Don’t You Ever Sleep’. Lyrically about the modernity of impulse buying, and how everything is marketed as the thing that you need and will change your life! When in reality it’s all just clever advertising. It’s somehow very apt for the quarantined life too. The repeated lines of “We are bored” really helps the narrative of society now and the way we consume things, and as soon as we’re done with that medium, that’s it, and move on. Drawing attention to this sort of issue with passion and anger would normally come off as a bit in your face, but Low Hummer’s attitude, with the combination of their sarcastic and deadpan delivery embedded within their lack of patience and real anger, makes the message come across a lot more subtle than most bands now would convey.

I have no doubt that being a group of people from the north of England helps the anger rooted in the words within the tunes, especially just from looking at the way the north has been treated during the current pandemic. But they use this fusion of moods to create hallowing tunes to get straight into your head, and really pulls off such an interesting and poignant practice for songwriting and getting their message across. 

Low Hummer is a band that would have absolutely thrived 30 years ago, yet after all that time, I feel they’re in the right time and the right place to do so now. Maybe a bit of old school is what we need to progress amongst the abundance of vast progression and future thinking. After all, sometimes history needs a repeat in order to learn a lesson. Fundamentally, Low Hummer is a band you should really keep a keen eye on because they’re bound to fly. I for one cannot wait for what the future holds for this band, a real needle in a haystack that’s slowly poking it’s way out for something grand.

Don’t forget to follow Low Hummer on Spotify.

New Wave Pop/Indie Pop Reviews

Review: New Order – Be A Rebel

New Order in more recent years are a bit like Marmite. You either love them or you can’t stand them. Once the pioneers of ’80s dance and club music, now seen more an icon in British music as to what was. But despite members leaving and 2 breakups, the band are still making music, playing to audiences and showing continued success. After 2015’s ‘Music Complete’ with the odd live album released here and there, fans were wondering whether breakup number 3 could be on the way, curious as to whether the ’80s electronica power group would have any sort of real presence in the 2020’s. But here we are with the new single ‘Be A Rebel’.

‘Be A Rebel’, if you’ve been listening to New Order for the last 10 years wont come as any sort of surprise in terms of the sound, in fact I think it sounds like a B-Side to ‘Music Complete’, perhaps the 2015 album wasn’t as complete as we once thought, with Bernard Sumners saying the new single was a “leftover” that “didn’t make the cut” for 2015’s ‘Music Complete’ which you can tell just by listening. This isn’t inherently a bad thing though, I really liked the thematic sounds of the last album, and so hearing ‘Be A Rebel’ after 5 years of radio silence from New Order sparked some joy in my eye. If you liked the sound of the last album then you’ll probably love the new tune just as well. For me? I can appreciate using older work that never saw the light of release for future music, plenty of bands have done that, and done it marvellously well. But here, I don’t know how well it holds up. 

Now I’m not suggesting the song should have stayed a leftover, but it’s not the typical boom you get from New Order singles of the past. Tracks like ‘Krafty’, ‘Restless’ and ‘Regret’, they stick out, there’s a real sense of motion within those tracks, whereas here, ‘Be A Rebel’ is more of a quiet, dreamy, foot tapper than what we’ve heard from the band before. And I’m not comparing to the likes of ‘Blue Monday’ because that would be unfair, the band released that almost 40 years ago, and have gone through many musical changes since then, but one consistency I feel is missing here, is the power behind the track. It doesn’t sound too unlike the sounds from their last album and it doesn’t go off with a bang, which after 5 years, you would expect a bit of a rework when it comes to older music that never saw the light of day being released half a decade later. 

I’ve heard the comparison to the likes of Sumner and Johnny Marr’s supergroup duo ‘Electronic’ which you could argue the similarities sure, but there were already similarities to New Order back in Electronic’s heyday, so it all comes full circle, so of course work that heavily involves Bernard Sumner, will have sounds that Bernard Sumner is known for using. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from a band with such a high legacy. Perhaps the track is a grower not a shower. All I can say, is that if you’re expecting the next big wave of sound from New Order, then prepare to be disappointed. That being said, if you loved Music Complete, then you’ll probably really enjoy this. It’s by no means a bad single, but definitely feels a tad lacklustre. Opinions can change though, quite drastically, let’s not forget the certain “punch-your-TV-obnoxious” band that a particular music magazine once hated and now absolutely cherish. So in terms of changing tone on something you like or you don’t, I’m not going to be rash here. But I do think if we’re to expect a new record from the Mancunian monsters, I wouldn’t bet any money on ‘Be A Rebel’ being a part of a new and evolved sound. 

Lyrically the song comes across as pretty relevant, perhaps the recent Black Lives Matter protests are what sparked Bernard and company to revisit the track. The song talks about how the world can be a “dangerous place” but it’s “all we’ve got”, referring to people being “different” and that being okay. “Be a rebel, not a devil”. Clearly there’s a key element to rebelling against what we know is wrong, but doing so peacefully. Echoing terms we’re all grown up with like ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. It’s a clear outlook on the world from Sumner’s eyes, and from that regard is a very welcome conversation. Allies and Rebels are what the world needs right now to really make a change, so it’s a particularly prevalent topic that we should all take on board.  

If you want to hear a modern and more evolved take on the alternative dance, techno and club sound, I highly recommend listening to artists such as fellow Manchester band ‘Everything, Everything’, the Scottish trio ‘Chvrches’, London’s own ‘Georgia’ or simply go back and listen to New Order’s older material. Music has no expiry date, and it’s never the wrong time to stick on a classic, or discover a band that you don’t know much of the deeper cuts of their discography. 

The good news to take away from ‘Be A Rebel’ is that New Order have not slithered away into nothingness, and there’s hope for more music still to come. You can see New Order on tour in 2021 across the pond with the Pet Shop Boys, and a special one off UK show at London’s 02 Arena in November next year. Until then, let’s hope our Monday’s aren’t so blue. 



Indie/Indie Rock Pop/Indie Pop Why We Love

Why We Love: Inhaler

Just when you thought Dublin couldn’t possibly produce any more incredible bands, you suddenly discover the music of Inhaler. This four-piece rock band, fronted by son of U2’s Bono, have a more unusual beginning than most. They met and first began playing together in 2012 while still at school in Ireland. Their first ever gig together was the school’s talent contest, where they performed a cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’

In 2015, they became Inhaler after being given the nickname by their school friends due to lead singer Elijah Hewson’s struggles with Asthma. Three years later, the band released their debut single ‘I Want You’ and the boys quickly gained popularity, becoming known for their dirty bass lines, heavy rhythms and psychedelic melodies which are highly reminiscent of early 2000s bands like The Killers. Despite this relation in sound, the boys dress sense and album artwork actually bare a strong resemblance to an early version of The Smiths.

Hailing from a regular Irish college rather than one that specialises in music, the band have said their ‘weird’ style and music taste was ‘poles apart’ from their fellow peers, which naturally meant the boys had to stick together.

After recording a demo of their single ‘Ice Cream Sundae,’ they quickly gained the attention of none other than Antony Genn, producer and former member of Pulp, who nurtured the band, giving them the studio space they needed and forcing them to practice harder. This school talent show band soon began playing sold-out venues in and around Dublin, and after releasing six more singles, have become the fully-fledged band-on-tour they are today.

Inspired by their parents vinyl collections, which included bands such as The Stone Roses, Depeche Mode and New Order, they’ve managed to produce a sound of their very own including the best bits of all these inspirations. They possess a psychedelic structure similar to Interpol, a drop of New Order’s synthesizer experimentation and a splash of Sonic Youth’s kick.

Robert Keating (Bass), Ryan McMahon (Drums), Josh Jenkinson (Guitar) and Elijah Hewson (Vocals) together have gained industry-wide attention, being featured in The NME 100 and finishing 5th in The BBC’s Sound of 2020 vote, incredible achievements for such a young band.

As the son on music legend and U2 frontman Bono, lead singer Elijah Hewson has clearly learnt from the best. For the sons and daughters of established musicians, there always comes a certain amount of pressure, but it seems Elijah and his band have managed to pioneer something new and blow those expectations out the water.

Inhaler have now gigged with the likes of Noel Gallagher on their first American tour. They began this year with the release of their single ‘We Have To Move On’ a song I haven’t stopped listening to since it’s release. Later, they released the double-sided single ‘Falling In’ in the build-up to the launch of their debut album which is yet to be announced. The band released this awesome video filmed during isolation of 2020, a time where they should have been gigging:

This is a band we can’t stop listening to, a true must-have on the playlists of fans of The Killers, The Smiths, Oasis, Pulp or any of the other bands mentioned above.

We look forward to the release of their album, but until then, indulge yourself in one of their fantastic singles.