LISTEN: King Hannah – ‘State Trooper’

Following the release of their utterly captivating debut EP Tell Me Your Mind and I’ll Tell You Mine, Liverpool’s King Hannah have now shared a sweeping new offering.

A cover of the Bruce Springsteen 1982 track, ‘State Trooper’ is a beautifully bewitching listen. Maintaining all the gritty charm of the original, but with an added majestic splendour, the swooning hypnotic grace of Hannah Merrick’s vocals ripples alongside scuzzy hooks and a dark, spellbinding energy. A truly exquisite rendition of a song from one of my all-time favourite albums. It’s pretty hard to do The Boss justice (speaking as a mega super fan!), but King Hannah have managed it with flying colours – adding their own ethereal grandeur, they have succeeded in making it completely their own.

Of the decision to cover the track, the band explain:

“We have always loved the Bruce Springsteen album Nebraska, how sparse and raw it sounds, and how it is effectively a live demo recording. We wanted to keep that live-feel when covering ‘State Trooper’ and so we tracked the song live in our little home studio. We tried to do justice to the atmosphere of the original when arranging the track, with rumbling tom-heavy drums, warm creamy guitars and intimate slap-back vocals.”

Tell Me Your Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine, the new EP from King Hannah, is out now. Catch the band on tour later this year:

16/10/21: District – Liverpool  
20/10/21: YES (Pink Room) – Manchester
21/10/21: Hyde Park Book club – Leeds
22/10/21: Broadcast – Glasgow
23/10/21: Star and Shadow Cinema – Newcastle  
24/10/21: The Cookie – Leicester
25/10/21: Jericho Tavern – Oxford
26/10/21: Hare & Hounds – Birmingham
27/10/21: Lexington – London
28/10/21: Hope & Ruin – Brighton
29/10/21: The Louisiana – Bristol

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Craig Whittle

Track Of The Day: Piss Kitti – ‘Turn You Over’ (Keep On Comin’ On)

A playful, strung out guitar tune about the mixed feelings we have after a difficult breakup, Liverpool punks Piss Kitti have shared their latest single ‘Turn You Over’ (Keep On Comin’ On). Lifted from their upcoming four tack EP For The Lovers, which is set for release on 19th March, the track navigates the uneasy emotions that dictate our actions after a relationship has ended.

Formed of vocalist Esme, guitarist Dominic, bassist Clara and drummer Danny, Piss Kitti write songs that spark conversations about sex, queerness and gender. Fusing relatable lyrics, catchy melodies and elements of garage and punk rock together, the band aim to simultaneously “turn you on, make you dance and make you think.” Their upcoming EP is an exploration of “romantic turmoil” and new single ‘Turn You Over’ (Keep On Comin’ On) is the first taste of this bittersweet slice of uncertainty.

“‘Turn You Over’ is about going through a breakup and knowing in your heart that it’s all wrong,” vocalist Esme explains. “You try to accept it and move on but you can’t, and instead find yourself fantasising, wishing and waiting for your love to return, replaying memories just to make yourself sick.” Through Dominic’s grungy riffs, Esme’s lush lilting vocals and Danny’s crashing percussion, Piss Kitti go through the motions on this new offering with a buoyant, warped optimism.

Listen to ‘Turn You Over’ (Keep On Comin’ On) below.

 

Follow Piss Kitti on bandcamp, Spotify, TwitterInstagram

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: King Hannah – ‘Tell Me Your Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine’

More than three years ago, I saw King Hannah for the first time. Way down on the bill, in a support slot at what, I later found out, was only their third ever gig. Mesmerised, I wrote a live review that termed them “real music for grown-ups”. Fast forward to just a couple of months ago, and they’d signed to the Berlin indie stalwart, City Slang (home of Anna Von Hauswolff, Arcade Fire, Lambchop, and more). That same day, they dropped their first video for the re-issued ‘Crème Brûlée’ and now comes their debut physical release, a six-track EP with a natty special coloured vinyl edition that comes in cream. Along with another video for second single ‘Meal Deal’, the EP’s release finds the band, whose music centres around lead singer Hannah Merrick and guitarist Craig Whittle, in form that’s as stunning as their live set from the days of Summer 2017.

Longer than some albums, calling Tell Me Your Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine an EP is a reflection of King Hannah’s capacity for understatement, with its two singles both more than six minutes, and understandably dominating the record. ‘Crème Brûlée’ is still the standout, for me, despite the band’s insistence that the song really is simply about how much Hannah likes the titular dessert.  It seems likely to have been the song that most prompted the band’s comparisons to Mazzy Star, but there’s also a wry, detached sense of longing in the vocals’ laconic Nico-drawl. Much like the dessert itself, the song’s exterior shell is a thin covering over something far deeper – in this case, Hannah’s lyrics sit on top amongst its opening, but once they drop a little over halfway in, the layers of instrumentation spill out, led by a crooning, carousing, alt.country guitar line courtesy of Craig.  

Either side of ‘Creme Brûlée’ are two tracks that demonstrate opposing sides of King Hannah’s take on the genre. The upbeat ‘Bill Tench’ finds Hannah musing on a possible future life in Paris, but veers more towards mature US alt.rock. There’s a sense of road journeys, with the feel of a car passing distant landscapes, in the taut lines of lead guitar, the acoustic giving pace, and the bass sketching out melodic rhythms. Perhaps the neatest trick of all is the way in which Hannah’s lingering, longing vocals make words rhyme, even when they have no business doing so. 

Penultimate track, ‘The Sea Has Stretch Marks’, is a much sadder, slower number, with more lilting guitars and a semi-spoken section from which the EP takes its title. That being said, there’s a picture painted here too, with the song’s flow of guitars into and out of  electronic reverb mimicking the waves of the sea in its title.

‘Meal Deal’, at some seven and a half minutes, is the more epic of the two singles, combining observational story-telling in its Courtney Barnett-esque lyrics with a sound that’s more reminiscent of The Handsome Family. Underpinned by low-slung bass, and led by twangy acoustic and electric guitar, it’s a song in three parts – which may give some explanation to the ‘sandwich, snack and a drink’ combo referenced by its title. Starting as a light-hearted tale of moving houses and spiders in the bath that need a feed, its meandering style comes to a more dramatic mid-point, at which Hannah’s vocals become doubled and echoey. “I can’t keep a secret”, she intones, as the guitar sounds grow more ominous, before an instrumental two minutes rounds out the track.  

The remaining songs showcase the band’s ability to create atmosphere – opener ‘And Then Out of Nowhere It Rained’ commences the EP, with its sounds of rain and gently strummed guitar that build to something more broodingly oppressive, whilst Hannah’s voice rolls around the track. Closer ‘Reprise (Moving Day)’ embodies the post-rock tendencies that King Hannah flirt with throughout the EP, with a swirl of garbled recorded voice, thudding percussion and a deep bassy electronic sound, followed by a largely instrumental opening two minutes.  It shifts style after that to a single strummed guitar and Hannah repeating the lines “Moving Day will come a little closer / I got some moving for you” before a feedback whine closes things out.  

There was always something real about King Hannah. In the video for ‘Meal Deal’, Merrick stares at herself in the mirror, backstage at Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre, looking every inch the alt.rock star in the making, like the hybrid offspring of Patti Smith and PJ Harvey. And, with a lead guitarist as gifted as Craig Whittle, steeped in the kind of musicianship that comes from growing up listening to Jackson Browne and Neil Young, she has the perfect foil. Already capable of producing the kind of songs that it takes most acts years to craft, King Hannah might just be about to tell the world what’s on their mind.

Tell Me Your Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine is out now via City Slang Records. And make sure you catch King Hannah taking over our Instagram this Wednesday, 25th November from 6pm!

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

Photo Credit: Lucy Mclachlan

Track Of The Day: Hannah’s Little Sister – ‘Gum’

Counter-intuitively, the PR for ‘Gum’ – the latest single from off-beat Liverpool quartet, Hannah’s Little Sister includes the instruction from lead singer, Meg: “Go pirate our single!”. Alternative music abounds with contrary positions but perhaps, in an era where the concept of ‘selling out’ has largely been forgotten, displaying a disaffection for the commercial feels radical once again.

For Hannah’s Little Sister themselves, the last two years have been a period of change: with one bassist departing and another arriving, during a ‘lofi gap year’ in which the band honed their sound and live performances. Given the ferocity of the HLS live show circa 2018, and their Pixies via East Lancs stylings, it’s hard to see where the improvements could be made – until the band came storming back post-lockdown, freshly signed to Heist or Hit, with the playground alt-rock hi-jinx of ‘Bin Mouth’, their first release since signing to the label.

Where ‘Bin Mouth’ used a childish slur to address the figurative rubbish that some people spew, new single ‘Gum’ occupies a similar space, in using the all-too-briefly satisfying confectionery to address the distracting nature of consumerism.

Opening with Helen Love style synths that suggest, as with ‘Bin Mouth’, that the group are also throwing a hint of C86 into their mish-mash, Meg’s vocals emerge, deceptively sweet.

The song’s bridge throws everything back into chaos, as overdrive guitars riff towards the chorus – “Locking up our jaws on GUM!” – just like the machine reasserting itself over the creative. The chorus, a sort of internally-rhyming triplet, replete with yelps and smacks of percussion, almost hits you over the head like a marketing jingle – albeit one with an indie inflection. Those synths return, and the song seems to have settled into a off-kilter bossa nova, before the next verse and chorus return with their blend of the sweet and savage. But the closing ninety seconds of the song go off the deep end, sonically, pivoting first to a slowed-down gum-themed incantation, a chill-out dream-pop vocal and finally closing with a wonky disco instrumental.

There’s only an audio video for the song, at present, but their commitment to an off-kilter aesthetic in the teaser (and social media promises) suggest that when the full video appears, it’ll be another trip into the bizarre world of the band. That being said, for all the ordered mayhem of their audio and visual style and the self-described “rant” of the lyrics, Hannah’s Little Sister have crafted a tune that bolts on their different influences into something at times challenging and chaotic but equally pragmatic and poppy. And if you don’t like it, the band seem to say, you might as well chew on it.

‘Gum’ is out now, and is taken from Hannah’s Little Sister’s upcoming debut EP EP.MP3, set for release 20th November via Heist Or Hit.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

Photo Credit: Beebo Boobin