FIVE FAVOURITES: Low Hummer

Like most bands this year, Hull quintet Low Hummer are preparing to spend their summer in isolation writing new material, instead of gigging around the UK. Their latest single ‘Picture Bliss’ released via Dance To The Radio Records was written pre-pandemic, but its context is uncannily relatable during these (dare we say it?) “unprecedented” times. The track is a noisy, cathartic burst of guitars and crashing percussion, with dual vocalists Daniel Mawer and Aimee Duncan talking about two strangers who find each other moments before the world self-destructs.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Low Hummer’s Aimee & Steph to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five songs or albums that influenced the band’s writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to ‘Picture Bliss’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Pixies – ‘Gigantic’
Aimee: Although we all knew of each other before we started the band, it was only really a quick hello if we passed each other in the street! That meant we had, and still have a lot of different influences and backgrounds to our music and don’t often agree on liking the same bands. However, one band we all manage to agree on is Pixies. We don’t particularly make radio friendly music, but thanks to a band like Pixies we realised we can still aim to write pop songs, with hooky choruses even if they’re heavily disguised by odd chord choices, screaming vocals and distorted noises. Frank and Kim’s vocal styles are at odds with each other but work wonders together, whilst Joey’s guitar work often goes for odd riffs that are still instantly recognisable as his. Dan used ‘Gigantic’ in particular as a reference when we recorded ‘Picture Bliss’, joint vocals play a big part in what we do, and Pixies inspired us, they show its manageable to convey sensitivity vocally whilst still chucking in a load of distorted guitars!

2. Lost in Translation Official Soundtrack
Steph: It’s one of our favourite soundtracks collectively, and definitely would have played a role in us working parts out for ‘Picture Bliss;. The inspiration of bands like Death In Vegas along with My Bloody Valentine would have helped us learn how to manage sensitive melody lines and lyrics with distortion and odd sounding riffs. Not forgetting Bill Murray singing along to ‘More Than This’ which helped us fall in love with cheesy riffs and catchy choruses, both of which we’d have written off when we were kids. The Jesus and Mary Chain are not a band we gravitate towards to a lot, but again, their song ‘Just Like Honey’ which features at the end of the film felt like a good reference point for ‘Picture Bliss’. It’s another song that has a joint vocal with plenty of reverb and distortion, our producer Matt played us a few 80s guitar bands whilst we recorded and we gravitated towards emulating scrappy sounding stuff from that era. Lyrically there’s plenty of melancholy, sadness, underpinned with determination which probably inspired us for ‘Picture Bliss’.

3. The Velvet Underground – ‘Femme Fatale’
Aimee: Navigating the dynamics between a male and female vocal was challenging for us at first, especially because of our style. It took a lot of discussion between me and Dan when I first joined the band. Prior to Low Hummer, I’d only ever really sang in my solo country-inspired style. I’d dabbled in some shouting in a few awkward teenage phases, but it didn’t stick. So, when I joined the band it took quite a lot of encouragement from Dan to nudge me towards a more assertive style. Admittedly, he was right, and I can enjoy breaking out of my comfort zone. (Thanks Dan).

One thing we always agree on, though, is a mutual love of The Velvet Underground. We use them frequently as inspiration as we explore the dynamic between our vocals. I sang ‘Femme Fatale’ on my soundcloud a few years ago – one of the reasons Dan asked me to join the band. It felt like a good reference point for me to grasp my vocal position within ‘Picture Bliss’. The song allowed me to find that point between pushy and delicate vocals, which is something I haven’t explored as much in our other releases.

4. Joy Zipper – ‘1’
Steph: This song was on a lot when we began writing ‘Picture Bliss’, we really admired how its neither a stereotypical quiet or loud song, it sits somewhere in the middle. Sometimes when we write simpler songs, we’re keen to throw them away as we don’t feel we’ve worked hard enough on them, it almost comes a little too easy! That’s how we felt with our new single and it took a lot of encouragement from our manager Sally to decide to release it. But sometimes the easiest ones to write are the best. Joy Zipper’s ‘1’ follows a familiar pop song format, but for a simple enough structure it has so many beautiful moments, from its playful, devilish and childlike lyrics to whirling feedback intro and grungy chord progressions, along with a hummable section during the bridge. It’s a really joyful melody line, with optimistic verses, but the chord progressions, and ending, send you off kilter just enough to feel a little unsettled,

5. Her Official Soundtrack
Steph: It’s never actually been released, so I’m not sure it counts! But the film score from Her definitely subliminally influenced the creation of ‘Picture Bliss’. As a band we’re all suckers for sad films, and that usually extends to the music that goes with them. The score was created by the people behind Arcade Fire, and, much like Lost in Translation, it feels other-worldly; full of elements you recognise but can’t always place or hold onto. Whilst stylistically, it’s almost the opposite to what we do, we really loved the way the simple, fuzzy, swaying melodies and carefully placed lazy keys capture the melancholy of the story. The film itself is futuristic and disturbing, which is something replicated in the post-apocolyptic world presented lyrically in ‘Picture Bliss’, and both are full of that all-too relatable sadness which seems to slowly creep up and bite you late on Sunday nights.

Thanks to Aimee & Steph for sharing their favourites with us.
Follow Low Hummer on Spotify & Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Credit: Shoot J Moore 

Record Store Day 2019: GIHE Picks

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… That’s right, Record Store Day. The excitement, the unity of eager queuers, the smell of that shiny vinyl as you release it from its sleeve, the empty pockets at the end of the day… But most of all, the music. A day dedicated to celebrating our favourite music, and those wonderful shop-owners who provide us with so much of it.

Ahead of the big day this Saturday (13th April), we thought we’d share some of the special releases that we’re most looking forward to this year. From the riotous power of classics by legends no longer with us, to our favourite soundtracks, and brand new releases from current bands making waves, here’s some of the records we’re hoping to get our hands on…

Mari Lane:

Elastica – BBC Sessions
I think Justine Frischmann and co. first came to my attention when I saw ‘Waking Up’ on an episode of TOTP, with none other than Damon Albarn appearing on keys/posing; and that was it – I was instantly in awe of the immense sense of cool that oozed from the three guitar-wielding women on stage. Failing my attempts to get hold of their 1995 eponymous debut on special release (plus an exclusive fanzine) in 2017, this year I have my heart set on Elastica’s BBC Sessions, released for the first time ever on vinyl. Whilst Strange Fruit released the Radio One sessions on CD back in 2001, this is the first artist curated release of the band’s sessions –  combining tracks recorded for John Peel, Steve Lamacq and Mark Radcliffe.

White Vinyl plus poster. Info here

Courtney Barnett – ‘Everybody Here Hates You’/’Small Talk’
Last year, I managed to get hold of Barnett’s special Record Store Day Release, ‘City Looks Pretty’/’Sunday Roast’, and this year I’m equally as determined to bag her new single ‘Everybody Here Hates You’, along with B-side ‘Small Talk’, on exclusive 12”. Courtney Barnett is probably my favourite, and most relatable, lyricist in the world. She has a unique ability to tackle everyday life with a spot-on wit and raw honesty, perfectly showcased in this wonderfully blues-infused latest offering.

12″ Vinyl via Marathon Artists. Info here.

Bang Bang Romeo – ‘Cemetery’/’Creep’
Taken from their Shame On You EP, ‘Cemetery’ is one of South Yorkshire group Bang Bang Romeo’s less raucous offerings, and is in itself an ode to record stores and finding your place within a music scene, with the lyrics capturing that excitement of going into a record store: “‘Finally found a place where I feel a part of something more ….in your arms where I found The Smiths & The Flaming Lips”. I’ve been aware of the awesomeness of Bang Bang Romeo for a while now, but it was only last Saturday at local festival Cro Cro Land that I was able to witness the incredible, rip-roaring power of Stars and co. live; my mind was completely blown and will never be the same again.

7″ Vinyl via Five Seven Music. Info here

X Ray Spex – I Am A Cliché
As any regular followers of our site, listeners to our radio show, or attendees of our gigs will be aware; we’re pretty massive fans of X Ray Spex and all that iconic front woman Poly Styrene did for music. We even kicked off our first ever radio show on Hoxton Radio over four years ago with the legendary ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours’. So, being able to own this brand new compilation, featuring exclusive studio versions of tracks and live recordings, all on dayglo coloured vinyl, would be pretty much a dream come true! There are, however, only 500 copies being released… So, failing getting my hands on this record (or in addition to!), I will definitely be delving into Zoë Howe and Celeste Bell’s new book about Poly Styrene – Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story. Featuring creative work from her archives, it includes material ranging from the flyers and early design drafts for X-Ray Spex, to her later visual art and lyrics

2 x LP – Dayglo Vinyl, gatefold sleeve with art card. Info here

Kate Crudgington:

The Crow OST
Despite being 26 years old, The Crow’s official soundtrack still feels and sounds as contemporary as many of its modern-day counterparts. Look at the talent featured on it: The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, Medicine, The Jesus and Mary Chain – if that’s not incentive to make you don your white face paint and black lipstick and rock out like Eric Draven on a rooftop, I don’t know what is. The soundtrack will be released via Rhino on 2 LPs, white & black with 3 sides of audio and the fourth with an “etching”. I will do whatever I can to get my hands on it!

2 LP – White & Black; 3 sides audio, 4th side etching. Info here

Soccer Mommy – For Young Hearts
I only arrived at the Soccer Mommy party last year when she released her debut studio album Clean, and I’ve had single ‘Your Dog’ in my head ever since. Her career was on the rise way before that though, with her bandcamp EP For Young Hearts being the release that first caught her all this much deserved attention. 

LP via Fat Possum Records with lyrics sleeve and fold-out poster. Info here

John McGovern:

Lost In Translation OST 
Two Scarlett Johansson movies from the early noughties; two wildly different soundtracks. If you’re old enough to remember the late ’90s, before Hollywood indies really boomed, then you probably also remember what it felt like when movies this fresh and sounding this cool suddenly appeared – and with female stars at their centre. Lost in Translation is all early 21st century indie hipster cool – Phoenix, Squarepusher, Peaches.

Violet Colour Vinyl. Info here.

Ghost World OST
Ghost World is more sprawling, reflecting its central characters’ adolescence: blues classics, Bollywood rock. Both also feature nods to some of celluloid’s less pleasant sounds: Bill Murray’s take on Roxy Music’s ‘More Than This’ in a Tokyo karaoke bar; the suburban stylings of Ghost World’s ‘Graduation Rap’ scene. This being Record Store Day though, perhaps what marks it out most is its Enid Coleslaw ’77 punk style’ blue vinyl.

LP via Shanachie Entertainment. Info here.

Honeyblood – ‘The Third Degree’/’She’s a Nightmare’
The second single from Stina Tweedale’s duo-turned-solo-turned-group Honeyblood’s third album, In Plain Sight. Aside from the song’s deceptively simple pop-rock sound, the cover’s tarot card design is particularly appealing if, like me, you’re into the cartomantic fortune-telling aesthetic. Chrysa Koukoura illustrations littered the band’s self-titled debut with moths and butterflies and it’s great to see her return here.

12″ Vinyl via Marathon Artists. Info here.

Iggy Pop – ‘The Villagers’/’Pain & Suffering’
One of the curios of garage rock hero Iggy Pop’s career, 1982’s Zombie Birdhouse incorporates spoken-word poetry, afro-beat and synthesisers all over the place – with ‘The Villagers’ being a perfect example. Despite its production from Blondie’s Chris Stein, the album met with middling reviews but now seems extremely foresighted given latter-day indie/post-punk’s magpie nature and willingness to go abrasive. Added bonus: the cover is a perfect example of Iggy’s ’80s awkward cool.

7″ Single, Coloured Vinyl. Info here.

Ken Wynne:

Bad Religion – ‘My Sanity’/’Chaos From Within’
Founded almost four decades ago in 1980, L.A. punk rock band Bad Religion are preparing to release their seventeenth studio album next month – the socio-political Age of Unreason. With ‘My Sanity’/’Chaos From Within’ the band question the sanity of a world so divided that each side regard the other as out of their fucking mind! Previously released to various streaming services, I have been listening to both songs on repeat in anticipation of the new album, and this limited RSD 7″ from Epitaph. There is no denying that Bad Religion are pissed off with the current political situation in the United States, and who could blame them? If the rest of the album is anything as thought-provoking as ‘My Sanity’/’Chaos From Within’, Age of Unreason could become an important album for social justice.

7″ Limited Edition Print. Info here.

The Lillingtons – Death By Television
Originally released in 1999 by Panic Button Records – an imprint of Lookout! Records – Death By Television was the second studio album from Wyoming pop punkers, The Lillingtons. Emblazoned with artwork lifted from Roger Corman’s 1963 science fiction/horror flick X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, Death By Television is the result of The Lillingtons incorporating influences from various B-movies of the 1950s and 60s into their Ramones-styled approach to punk rock. If you are as obsessed with sci-fi/horror popcorn pulp as I am, Death By Television doesn’t disappoint. Considered an important record in pop punk, the RSD release – limited to 666 copies worldwide (obviously) – is B-movie bliss and I can’t wait to get my hands on it this Saturday.

LP Picture Disc via Red Scare Industries. Info here.

Shit Girlfriend – ‘Dress Like Cher’/’Socks On The Beach’
Having recently discovered Shit Girlfriend after stumbling upon the music video for ‘Mummy’s Boy’ – and recognising Laura-Mary Carter from alt-rock band, Blood Red Shoes – I’m ecstatic to see that the DIY London glam-punk duo have reemerged with ‘Dress Like Cher’/’Socks On The Beach’ on 7″ splatter vinyl. Previously releasing ‘Mummy’s Boy’​/’​I Don’t Wanna Die’ via PNKSLM on RSD 2017, Laura-Mary Carter and Natalie Chahal return with more scuzzy, distorted pop hooks and no shortage of punk rock attitude.

7″ via Punk Slime.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to give a big thank you to some of our favourite record shops: Bridport Music (sorry to miss the cake this year!), Sister Ray, Reckless Records, Rough Trade and Defend Vinyl.

And, if you can’t wait ’til Saturday, have a listen to our special RSD 19 playlist here:

 

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