5. Langkamer Are Up With The Larks
Quickly becoming something of a regular feature on these pages, Langkamer have set about establishing themselves as one of the UK’s most exciting new bands. They first came to the world’s attention back in 2021 with the release of their excellent debut album, West Country, which was swiftly followed by an awful lot of touring and last year’s excellent EP, Red Thread Route. 2023 looks set to be another busy one for the band, with this week’s announcements of extensive tour dates on either side of the channel tunnel, as well as the May release of their second long-player, The Noon And Midnight Manual. Ahead of the album’s release via Breakfast Records, the band also shared the first single from it, Sing At Dawn.
The first song written for The Noon And Midnight Manual, Sing At Dawn was inspired by a particularly bad bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder, singer Josh Jarman recalls, “it was a really hard time of year. It was cold and bleak and the days were short and dark…this song was an exercise in catharsis”. As with all of The Noon And Midnight Manual, the track was recorded in a, “crumbling bungalow” on the North Yorkshire Moors, the band seeking to capture some of the spirit within the landscape’s rugged beauty. Musically, it continues in their spirit of sing-along slacker rock, as angular, swaggering guitars collide head first into huge choruses, an anthemic Creedence Clearwater Revival-like pop song reimagined through the lens of the Silver Jews or Yo La Tengo. Lyrically, Josh seems to find himself at a series of crossroads, he’s up when night turns into day, contemplating jacking in the creative life to make some money and sink some beers, knowing it might be an easier life if he went a more traditional route, “it’s easier to swim the way the river likes to run”. The song closes not with some grand pronouncement to stick to the artist’s life but more of a mantra to remember the dark days don’t last forever, as Josh sings, “I’d like to see you in the light of day, I’d like to see you in the light”, and you get the sense he’s talking to himself more than anyone else. For Langkamer there’s a sense that sunny days are coming, and their best days are very much ahead of them.
The Noon And Midnight Manual is out May 18th via Breakfast Records. For more information on Langkamer visit https://langkamer.com/.
4. Hydrodate Are In A Reflective Mood
Based out of the thriving musical city of Chicago, Hydrodate are a hot-off-the-presses quartet, having only released their first EP back in July. They originally formed in 2020, “focused on creating soft melodic folk music”, before slowly evolving into something heavier and dreamier. Somewhere along the way, the band found fans in the excellent Fire Talk Records, and this week joined the likes of Dwell and Maria BC, as the latest members of the label’s excellent Open Tab Series, with the release of their latest single, Early Reflections.
Recorded in a single productive day, Early Reflections has that wonderful spontaneity rapid recording brings, it starts with a wavering keyboard line before twin vocals enter with hazy dreamy melodies, nodding equally to the Shoegaze of the early 90s and more modern contemporaries like Horsegirl or Whitelands. There’s a glorious moment where the vocals fade from earshot and the guitars come squalling to the fore before the whole thing breaks down to almost nothing, a wistful moment of calm in a chaotic world of fuzz. So distinct are the changes between the various sections, the track could almost feel like a series of songs stuck together, yet Hydrodate find a way to fuse them, to make it feel like a journey or a series of chapters in the same book. They might just be getting started, yet Hydrodate feel like the right band for the right moment, as hazy, dreamy sounds become de-rigueur, they’re doing it as well as anyone, and might just be ready to ride that wave as far as they want to go.
Early Reflections is out now via Fire Talk Records‘ Open Tab series. For more information on Hydrodate visit https://hydrodate.bandcamp.com/.
3. The Time Has Come For Drahla To Lip Sync For Their Lives
Leeds-formed art-rockers Drahla first came to my attention back in 2017 with the release of their arresting debut EP, Third Article. Subsequently signed to Captured Tracks, and in 2019 the band found widespread acclaim for the release of their ambitious and fearless debut album, Useless Coordinates. Since then the band have been conspicuous by their absence, only emerging from a three-year slumber in August last year with the stand-alone single, Under The Glass. With the band about to head out on a string of EU dates, this week they shared their latest single, Lip Sync, lifted from their, “as yet mostly unwritten” new album.
Lip Sync’s title and inspiration are both lifted from American mixed-media artist Bruce Nauman’s 1969 visual piece of the same name. As the band explain the track, “is an autobiographical account of self deflection. It explores the idea of syncing to social norms, conversation and expressions to converse without being fully present“. As with so much Drahla do, there’s a sense here of both vast creativity and playfulness, on the one hand, this is angular art rock in all its enticing sharp-edged aloofness, yet before it gets too po-faced it will suddenly burst into a blur of romp along bass and saxophone howl. The whole thing has a jittering, nervous energy, never staying still for long and only grounded by the almost metal-influenced bass line and Luciel Brown’s earthing, half-spoken vocal style. A return worth waiting for Drahla sound as furiously themselves as ever, and in music, it doesn’t get much more exciting than that.
Lip Sync is out now via Captured Tracks. For more information on Drahla visit https://linktr.ee/drahla.
2. First Day Of Spring Are Operating At The Highest Level
One of my favourite new bands of the year to date, First Day Of Spring is the musical project led by Southend-on-Sea-born, and now London-based songwriter, Samuel Jones. The band kicked off the year with their excellent single Moon Boy, a Charles Baudelaire-inspired reflection on the difficulty of living in the moment and not letting your mind run away from you. The track was the first taster of their upcoming EP, Fly Over Apple Blossom, due out at the end of February. This week they shared the latest offering from the record, Operation.
Described by Samuel as, “a song about the pesky algorithm”, Operation explores human’s over-reliance on the internet and computers in our day-to-day life (N.B. Please don’t stop reading and throw your device of choice out the window just yet). Musically, the song seems to channel some of the chaotic spin that social media can so easily become, as we’re greeted by a squall of furious guitars, that seem to ebb and flow throughout, always threatening to come roaring into earshot. While it possesses all the heft of Mogwai or My Bloody Valentine, Operation arguably gets to the point much quicker, lurking beneath is an urgency more akin to Deerhunter or No Age. It’s as if Samuel is desperate to get the words out, even if he’d rather mask them in squalling distortion, desiring to, “occupy the feelings inside”, even if the world is wanting to present us all as empty shimmering shells. With each new track, First Day Of Spring seem to show us another layer, another reason to be excited about where this band are and crucially where they could go next, don’t sleep on First Day Of Spring this is a songwriter onto something truly special.
Fly Over Apple Blossom is out February 24th. For more information on First Day Of Spring visit https://linktr.ee/firstdayofspringband.
First Day Of Spring play for us at The Victoria, Dalston on March 4th with support from Wonderbug. Free Tickets are available HERE.
1. My What A Golden Vista
Hailing from Cornwall’s capital city of Truro, The Golden Dregs is the musical moniker of songwriter, Benjamin Woods. He emerged back in 2018 with his debut album, Lafayette, before taking a turn towards the personal on the pained and beautiful, Hope is for the Hopeless. Recently signed to 4AD, for his record On Grace & Dignity, out today, Benjamin turned his glance outwards, looking at his home county, a place of empty holiday homes that many of the locals could only dream of owning. The record’s origins lie in the winter of 2020 when Benjamin lost his job at the Tate Modern and went home to his parents, he got a job as a labourer on a poorly run building site on the grimiest edge of Truro. As he recalls, “it was such a bleak winter–waist-deep in mud digging holes and rolling out turf on top of building waste, really grim stuff”. This became the backdrop to the stories he was trying to write, taking inspiration from both the authors he loves, and the bleakness of the world he saw around him, full of the haves and have nots, and no desire to plug the gap between them.
Ahead of the release, this week Benjamin shared the latest The Golden Dregs single, Vista. The track was inspired by Graham Greene’s short story The Destructor, and finds Benjamin looking on at the “wanton abandon and recklessness of teenage boys burning down a house for no reason than to see the burning world”. The track is littered with highly relatable references to life growing up as a curious teenager in a place where very little happens, “though we didn’t know what for, put red bricks through the window and cooked down the doors, with smoke and fire celebrated the world upturned”. The sense of the everyday trudge is almost mirrored in the unchanging rhythm of the drum beat, as cascades of backing vocalists and moments of saxophone-dripped sunshine come and go the beat remains as unmoved as those teenagers watching the world go up in smoke. As beautiful and sometimes bleak as the remote Cornish landscape, On Grace & Dignity is a huge leap forward for The Golden Dregs, a gaze that once looked inward for inspiration now cast outwards to the wider world in all its complex wonder.
On Grace & Dignity is out today via 4AD. For more information on The Golden Dregs visit https://thegoldendregs.com/
Header photo is The Golden Dregs by Dinomoves & AJ.