WATCH: English Teacher – ‘Song About Love’

There is so much to adore about English Teacher’s latest offering, ‘Song About Love’. So much, in fact, that they really didn’t need to win me over by bringing characters from the legendary computer game, The Sims, into the song’s video. But I’m so glad they did! My inner nerd sighed happily as I watched pixelated people shimmy to front-person Lily Fontaine’s soaring, melodic vocal, buoyed by a pounding post-punk bassline. 

Released on the cult Speedy Wunderground label, ‘Song About Love’ explores the romance you can find in the mundane, or, in Fontaine’s words, it’s about “doing the chores instead of doing someone else”. It’s produced by Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey and feels more polished and elevated than the Leeds-based band’s earlier work. The simple, repetitive lyrics – along with the sparkling synth and production – make for a proper pop song, which you can imagine blaring out of speakers all summer long. 

‘Song About Love’ is English Teacher’s first release of 2023 and it really announces the band as ones to watch this year. With this banger under their belts, they’re ready to build on the momentum they kick-started in 2022 – following high-profile support slots and the release of their debut EP. And I can’t wait to see them rise!

Watch the fantastic, Sims-inspired, video for ‘Song About Love’ here:

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Tatiana Pozuelo

New Track: The Early Mornings – ‘Ultra-Modern Rain’

With the first single from their sophomore EP, London-based Mancunians The Early Mornings show that they are a force to be reckoned with! An instant post-punk anthem, ‘Ultra-Modern Rain’ fizzes with big, frenetic energy and dazzles with promise. 

I love post-punk, but so many bands who play it fail to bring something new to the party. And who needs a nostalgia fest? However, ‘Ultra-Modern Rain’ feels as fresh as its name suggests. The song’s driving, angular guitar is reminiscent of the likes of Gang of Four or The Fall, but the urgency of the drums (and cowbell!) provide a deliciously modern twist.  

The song’s spiky instrumentation is complemented perfectly by front person Annie Leader’s sweet, understated vocals, which bring in a real pop sensibility too. So it’s hardly surprising that, after just a couple of listens to this banger, it becomes a total earworm. I can’t wait to hear more from this exciting, energy-oozing trio!  

Ultra-Modern Rain, the new EP from The Early Mornings, is out now via Practise Music.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Luke Keatinge

Track Of The Day: Jen Cloher – ‘Mana Takatāpui’

How am I so late to the Jen Cloher party?! An integral part of the Melbourne indie scene that also gave us Courtney Barnett, Cloher is a long-established and hugely respected songwriter and performer. And, when you listen to ‘Mana Takatāpui’, taken from their first album in five years, it’s not hard to see why. It’s dazzling. A masterclass in songwriting, ‘Mana Takatāpui‘ celebrates the indigenous Polynesian people of Aotearoa, New Zealand and the Māori, LGBTQ+ community. It’s also an important reflection on finding yourself and the concept of ‘home’. 

Cloher’s warm honeyed vocal, reminiscent of early Cat Power, is so soothing and spiritual that it makes your heart swell. And, while their lyrics are both personal and political, they are delivered with such love and pride that the song never feels heavy. From the opening harmonies to the upbeat affirmations that come later, it’s joyous. This is music to bathe yourself in.

Of the meaning behind the track, Cloher explains:

I’m no expert but I’m guessing Māori pre-colonisation didn’t hold the same beliefs around gender and sexuality as Queen Victoria’s England. I’ve read that our men were hands on dedicated fathers and some of our best midwives; that our women fought side by side on the battlefield and that our wāhine atua (female gods) held as much mana (power and respect) as our tāne atua. Christianity came hand in hand with colonisation; their missionaries introducing the concepts of body shame, sexual repression, a woman’s menstrual cycle as impure, homosexuality as a perversion and gender as binary.

Watch the poignant new video for Mana Takatāpui here:

Cloher’s upcoming new album, I Am The River, The River Is Me, is set for release on 3rd March 2023 via Milk! Records/Marathon Artists.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Marcelle Bradbeer

Track Of The Day: Panic Shack – ‘Meal Deal’

Arriving just in time for Christmas sandwich season, the latest single from Cardiff’s Panic Shack celebrates the humble meal deal. Much like a bag of fancy crisps, ‘Meal Deal’ is two and a half minutes of pure joy. The crunchy bass and frenetic drums give off a proper punk energy, while the band’s yelping vocals make for an instant earworm. It’s both energetic and effortless, kind of reminiscent of Amyl and the Sniffers (if Amyl and the Sniffers were Welsh and harboured a love of cheap sandwiches).

‘Meal Deal’ is a stupid amount of fun, but Panic Shack don’t shy away from sharing an important message. The chorus of “Feed me, I’m fucking hungry!” and lyrics that explore the realities of working in an undervalued, underpaid job are a painful reminder of how tough life is at the moment (as if any of us could forget). It’s political, but a proper party banger too.  

Panic Shack’s passion – and their rage – is infectious. Following the successful release of their sold-out debut EP, Baby Shack, and with acclaim from the likes of BBC 6Music’s Steve Lamacq, I can’t wait to see the band spread it even further over the coming months. We need them! 

Baby Shack, the latest EP from Panic Shack, is out now – order here. Catch Panic Shack live on their upcoming headline tour, or supporting faves Yard Act later this year. Details here.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Ren Faulkner