A former member of era-defining bands Longpigs and Pulp, is it any surprise that the solo work of guitar hero Richard Hawley would be any less than pure magic? But don’t just take our word for it, find out for yourself the reasons why Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner and Paul Weller are lifelong fans of his music too.
A young boy from Sheffield with a guitar on his back and a dream to become the next Elvis Presley ends up shaping music forever. Richard Hawley has surely woven his genius throughout not only the songs of various legendary bands but even more so through his work as a standalone artist. Moving on from his days as a Britpop legend, Richard Hawley’s later work takes on a very different turn. His songs have found a beautifully touching power all of their own. With tracks full of feeling and wonder, love and heartbreak, listen as Richard Hawley takes you away to another world in a way you never before thought possible.
Richard Hawley is very much the Johnny Marr of lush, orchestrated ballads. To be able to craft so many human emotions into his songs truly makes you feel part of something big and wonderful. I’d go so far as to say Richard Hawley is the Johnny Cash of his generation.
His debut album Coles Corner, our favourite of his many spectacular records, is pure bliss from start to finish.
Any die-hard fans of the Arctic Monkeys out there may remember the band’s side project/alias name, ‘The Death Ramps’, who invited Hawley to record with them in 2012, releasing their collaborative song ‘You and I’ as a B-side to the single Black Treacle the same year.
Arctic Monkeys frontman, Alex Turner, makes no secret of his admiration for Richard Hawley’s music for very good reason.
To play us out, Richard Hawley’s early song ‘Valentine’ from his Mercury prize nominated album Standing at the Sky’s Edge. Press play, lie back and be transported.
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.
Evoking space-age dreams with their bright bops, The Orielles are a funky fresh band that you absolutely need to be listening to. In fact, scrap that. I’d say the word ‘experiencing’ is far more apt than simply ‘listening’ as their tracks are so engrossing, they’re a vessel for escaping reality…
Taking you on an adventure through the decades they stop off in the bright psychedelic 60s, have a boogie in the 70s and even a cheeky trip to explore 90s acid house, as well as blasting forward into another time and dimension with their futuristic synth sounds.
It’s no wonder that Heavenly Recordings; the same label boasting talent we love from Saint Etienne to Working Men’s Club, have these guys added to their fantastic roster. The Orielles boast the sweetest sounding melodies since Sarah Cracknell and a perfect balance of modern and classic just like WMC, whilst keeping everything uniquely their own; ticking all of the boxes for another Heavenly band destined for greatness.
The group consists of sisters Esmé Dee Hand-Halford on lead vocals/ bass and Sidonie B Hand-Halford on drums alongside friends Alex Stephens on Keys and Henry Carlyle Wade on guitar and backing vocals (providing a deeper undertone to Esmé’s gentle singing approach). Hailing from Yorkshire, they’ve been putting out singles since 2015 which really helped them to gauge direction before releasing debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ in 2018.
Vibrant and charming, their first LP stands out in the sea of standard indie. Their key to doing so appears to be teasing you with that familiar formula we’re so accustomed to hearing but giving it a twist; thus subverting your expectations. Take Sunflower Seeds, for example, kicking off with a strong and cheery riff followed by thumping drum beats, it instantly captures your attention (in a way that almost seems too good to be true). However, it doesn’t stay linear and instead fades into a slow psychedelic squish that bands like Post Animal would be proud of, flipping the happy-go-lucky intro on its head.
They further prove their capability of making their mark on things by not only giving you brit-pop dreams like Mango but also more mellow notes in the laid back Liminal Spaces. As well as this, they also display great lyricism inspired by life, literature and philosophy on their tracks, with an abundance of stand-out lines on Henry’s Pocket. A song about trying to start afresh but being trapped by the past, it features vivid lines like “Trying to eat a moment and regurgitate it back up like you used to. We just hang in a web connecting us to past, present and future”.
Silver Dollar isn’t all that The Orielles have to offer either; displaying a real growth in confidence upon the release of their second album ‘Disco Volador’ put out earlier this year. Although I’d never bore of hearing Esmé’s melodies complimenting their funky sound the bands first record doesn’t quite boast the greatest exploration in tone. However, their follow up puts this point to bed with more variance in the delivery of lyrics and exploding instrumentals. Each track truly comes to life, all effortlessly cool with an airy quality. Further deviating from the mainstream sound produced by many current bands there’s a real retro essence at its core, layered with a forward-thinking distortion to create their own vibrant universe.
The album starts with Come Down On Jupiter, a song starting with a hint of Pulp’s darker records à la ‘This Is Hardcore’ that’s then perfectly juxtaposed by the soft melodies introduced into the mix. Sneakily, they then go on to build the track until you find yourself listening to a pop song that still maintains an edge with strutting guitars and more assertive vocals. Continuing to defy your initial anticipations, Memoirs of Miso’s simple lyrics of ’Falling in love’ float around as you drift away into a technicolour vortex. You’re then caressed by a gentle rhythm and drifting saxophone before it bursts back, bringing you into the room, ready to dance again.
Speaking of dancing, Memoirs certainly isn’t alone as single Bobbi’s Second World is bound to have you on your feet; delivering a groovy strut with its bopping bassline, throwing in some fun backing vocals and a sprinkle of sound effects. It’s a tale of turning a blind eye to reality and getting lost in your own head; something I often find myself doing in general but even more so to The Orielles tracks which are pure fuel for the imagination. Summarising Disco Volador is its own ‘theme’ Space Samba which captures the essence of the whole album; beaming and euphoric with a bit of sass to ensure that you don’t fall too far into the dreams induced.
Not only are the band ahead of their time with their indie evolution, but they also look like they truly have a gift for seeing into the future with the line ‘Isolation, room for creation’ being repeated on Sugar Tastes Like Salt; their single released back in 2017. The song that originally caught my attention, ‘Sugar’ not only predicted our 2020 life but also hits with attitude. Featuring upbeat punches, trippy guitar and sinister beats it’s an 8-minute exploration that showcases their capabilities in producing cosmic soundscapes and is a great introduction to the group.
With every one of The Orielles tunes encapsulating a little bit of celestial magic, I’m more than keen to see what else they have coming our way. Sadly, I don’t appear to have their seeming power to do so but based on merit have great faith that it will be something special, so watch this space.
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.