Dirty Hit is the label that just keeps on giving. Set up in response to the supposed lack of industry interest in The 1975 (oh how some must be kicking themselves!), it’s now home to the likes of alt-indie artists such as Marika Hackman, Pale Waves, and The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain.
Ploughing a distinctively folk favoured path since he signed to Domino and released Moving Up Country back in 2012, James Yorkston is now up to album number nine with the same label. That total doesn’t including the two recent albums of folk-world fusion music as one-third of Yorkston / Thorne / Khan, along with his recent forays into the world of prose, via his 2016 novel Three Craws.
With the early 2010’s shedding light on many two-piece bands, such as Royal Blood and Slaves, a far more underrated band came to the fore in the form of Drenge, consisting of brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, blowing many a music-lover away in 2013 with the release of their self-titled debut album as well as a collaboration with Blood Red Shoes.
Despite hailing from Norway, dynamic quartet Pom Poko will always have a Brighton connection. Not only are they signed to Brighton’s Bella Union and accidentally share a name with an iconic Brighton restaurant (they’re actually named after the Studio Ghibli film of the same name), but they played their first ever UK headline show on our sunny shores back in 2017. Since that occasion, which we described as “satisfying, vicious and addictive”, they’ve grown from an indie-pop outfit into a pop-punk behemoth. Their debut album, Birthday, is a showcase of this evolution with its spiky riffs, theatrical glamour and infectious pop sheen.
Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn continue to prick the bubbles of conformity, with another forensic journey into the dark heart and withered soul of this nation: a place sitting on the cusp of exiting from Europe, to the sleazy pleasure of capitalist benefit scammers, and ignorant nationalist flag wavers, alike.
William the Conqueror is the band, post-solo singer/songwriter career, put together by Ruarri Joseph, alongside Harry Harding (drums) and Naomi Holmes (bass) during 2015. Bleeding on the Soundtrack is the second in a proposed trilogy of autobiographical albums, which began with 2017’s Proud Disturber of the Peace. While that album addressed a less than idyllic period in Joseph’s life – the confusion of adolescence, addiction, divorce, upheaval – Bleeding on the Soundtrack continues to explore these past indiscretions, sorrows, hopes, loves and more. Produced by Ethan Johns, it was recorded live (with added overdubs) over the course of 12 days at Real World Studios in Wiltshire.
Built on surrealist pop hooks, and psychedelic tendencies, Methyl Ethel – the musical project of Jake Webb – created a world of sheer pop wonder on Everything Is Forgotten (2017) and Oh Inhuman Spectacle (2015). Dark and evocative, yet brimming with pop joy, they were brilliant pop-rock albums that had a wholesomely Australian twang of the ilk of Tame Impala and Pond. Things have changed for maestro Webb, however, as the musician turned 30 and started to look introspectively. The result is Triage, a more contemplative album lyrically than its predecessors, which explores the ideas of coming of age. Musically, though, it’s an expansive, sweeping pop behemoth with its influences rooted in funk, disco and glam-rock.
Stalwart slave to indie and the experimental, Cass McCombs delivers exactly this in his new record, Tip of the Sphere, parts of which are expansive, whilst others, well, not so much.
Various influences are present, as we’ve come to expect from McCombs, now on his ninth album; with nods to 60s psychedelia, western swagger and interims of Grateful Dead references. The album is only a small stretch from his 2016 album Mangy Love, though melodic genius in its own right. It’s not groundbreaking and, yet, not quite commercial; it sits somewhere comfortably (perhaps too comfortably) in between. The track listing washes over you with, at times, untraceable structure, though he possesses an undoubted knack for creating a good song.
Best known for the huge hit ‘Ode to Billie Joe’, Bobbie Gentry soon after released The Delta Sweete in 1968, a concept album based on life in the Deep South, her Mississippi childhood, and church life. Somewhat of a trailblazer, in a very heavily dominated male industry, Gentry was one of the first female artists of note who wrote most of their own material. She wrote eight of the 12 songs on the original release, the other four representing re-workings of songs she heard whilst growing up, such as ‘Tobacco Road’. She was also heavily involved in the production of her music, played guitar, often painted her own record sleeves, and designed her own costumes. She was a game changer in many ways, not least because she withdrew from both recording and performing, and indeed being in the public eye, by the early 80s. Her last album was released in 1971, and her last ever single, in 1978. Although still alive, very little is known about Bobbie Gentry, post-1981, when she made her last public appearance, aged just 38. The mystique, and therefore the legacy, remains largely intact.
It was back in 2007 that White Lies formed from the ashes of Fear of Flying, a band whom began to increasingly write songs that they felt just didn’t suit their style. In 2009 they released their debut album, To Lose My Life…, followed in 2011 by sophomore Ritual, my personal favourite and arguably the band’s most successful record; spawning huge tracks such as ‘Bigger Than Us’ and cementing the band alongside the likes of Editors, whom they are often compared to. The band utilise a strong indie/80s sound, lead by the impressive vocals of Harry McVeigh.