Introducing Interview: th’sheridans

Following a decade on the scene, indie pop duo th’sheridans have recently released an epic, career-spanning compilation – Pieces Of General combining both old favourites and some newer treats. Showcasing their knack for creating scuzzy hooks, jangly beats and a swirling energy, the album offers reflections on poignant issues whilst oozing an uplifting effervescent euphoria. Whilst harking back to old favourites with a shimmering sense of nostalgia, the duo have managed to evoke a stirring resonance for right now; a sparkling call to arms, oozing a quirky, colourful spirit.

We were lucky enough to chat to the band to find out more… Have a read!

Hi th’sheridans! Are you able to tell us a bit about how you initially started creating music together?
We met at Bongos?! World Music Society in 2010 where we played “international folk” covers that ended up sounding more like a big indie band. The first thing the two of us really played together was an arrangement of the Italian partisan song ‘Bella Ciao’ (which may some day emerge as a b-side). And after trying out a batch of original sheridans songs, everybody agreed to do band.

I love your scuzzy, sparkling sounds but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you so much! We put a lotta thought into the sounds and textures we use, so it’s lovely whenever that resonates with someone. Our songwriting really comes out of the Ramones playbook in that the songs can usually be broken down to a set of chords and a pop/R&B melody. As well as the broader ‘70s New York scene, ‘90s Riot Grrrl is a huge influence – especially Ladies, Women and Girls, Bratmobile’s second record. It’s key in terms of figuring out how to express and own our values in the songs, while keeping the hooks as tasty as possible! Klezmer music, Papa T. (Julia’s dad), and The Velvet Underground’s drone all play a big part in our arrangements, especially with the viola. Lastly (although this could easily spin out into a whole encyclopaedia…), artists like Hundred Waters, Beth Orton and Metric have really helped us hone how we incorporate electronic elements like drum machines and synthesisers.

You’ve just released your new career-spanning compilation album – ‘Pieces Of General’ which is super exciting! Are you able to tell us a bit about this? What made you decide to put together this collection of songs new and old?
This album really came out of conversations we had with Reckless Yes after signing with them in 2020. We were thinking about how we could best introduce ourselves to their audience while also capping off the DIY phase of our work. So Pieces Of General is basically greatest hits for a band that’s had… no hits, with some new tracks mixed in. The key thing for us was to sequence it as a coherent album, which only really became possible through Livio Beroggi’s incredible remastering work. Getting the chance to present these songs in this way has been truly wonderful, and having the label stand by and co-sign our work has meant so much to us personally.

And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times?
Day to day, it’s honestly felt quite abstract, which is tough. But it’s also been a blessing to have this project to work on, especially with such wonderful collaborators. Having the remastered tracks coming in from Livio, or seeing Nestan Mghebrishvili’s artwork and design take shape – those were moments of total joy. Promotion’s been an unusual vibe (when is it not?), and at times it’s felt like folks have had more energy to get down and engage with something – and at times less. And that’s okay, we’re all trying to survive right now. But we’re grateful for where our work’s been given space or shared, and we’re particularly appreciative of Reckless Yes’s efforts to get our stuff further out there.

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
It’s been v. v. difficult. We’ve definitely missed the energy of a scene, of seeing friends do their thing and being inspired by that. The divisiveness of the UK government’s “it’s all up to you now, so fight amongst yourselves!” policies has been especially painful. We haven’t been rehearsing or taking bookings in the pandemic, because that hasn’t been right for us, and that’s still where we’re at. Bitch Hunt put it so well in a recent interview, where they pointed out that “it’s just less visible when people are not-doing-stuff.” Meanwhile, virtual connection has definitely felt more meaningful, whether that’s social media or ZOOM calls.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, over the last couple of years?
Absolutely! In terms of craft or artistic practice, artists working in other media have been an increasingly big deal for us in how we approach our work as a band. Over the last few years, that’s included Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Diane Arbus. Exploring how someone develops, refines, unpacks, diverges from, expands on the themes in their work is just endlessly interesting – and where you find connection in that, it’s such a precious, beautiful experience. Same goes for how an artist lives their values – lately that’s been writers like Cecil Castellucci, artists like Bianca Xunise, and the folks over at wildly rad UK record label Amateur Pop Incorporated. And on that level of inner work, cultural workers like adrienne maree brown, Layla F. Saad, and Prentis Hemphill offer invaluable insights and pointed, necessary challenges. All their podcasts come highly recommended by yr local sheridans.

As a band keen to call out sexism and racism, how do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? Do you feel much has changed over the last few years?
There’s always values at work in any piece of art, the same way there’s always values at work in any conversation. And because of the overt and more transparent experience of fascism in recent years, we’ve felt the need to be increasingly direct and open about our values, as in songs like ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Dismembered‘. It’s also important to pair that kind of projection with practice and embodiment. And, while we name and explore the things we can speak to, we’re also trying to do the work around the things we don’t directly experience. As far as what we’ve seen lately, it’s a mixed bag(uette). Something we’ve noticed is a kind of values drift, particularly when it comes to specific intersections of marginalised identity (eg. white bands only paying attention to gender as a lens). And it’s hard to know how much it’s just the predictable co-option of whatever’s on-trend, or something else. Dr. Angela Y. Davis reminds us that even if it is just co-option, it means we’re getting somewhere. And at the same time, one of the biggest shifts has been witnessing the start of mainstream conversations that were previously totally off the table, specifically with regards to structural racism. And, as so many of those who have spoken truth to power have always underscored, one of the things that keeps us going is the idea that folks younger than us won’t have to go through the same things we have over the last decade or so.

And, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that you’d recommend we check out?
A list! Shilpa Ray (‘70s New York vibes for the modern day, best scream outside of metal), Naz & Ella (grunge + indie + folk), Breakup Haircut (spooky pop-punk), Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something (cutting edge post-punk), Whitelands (shoegaze lives!), sweetbellechobaby (radical atmospheric pop), Bitch Hunt (emotionally real indie punk).

(Great choices – all GIHE faves!)

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for th’sheridans?
Anxiety and hibernation! We do have our next release already in the can though (a li’l late ‘80s throwback), and we’re currently figuring out which thematic batch of songs to get into next.

Massive thanks to th’sheridans for answering our questions!

Pieces Of General, the new compilation album from th’sheridans, is out now via Reckless Yes. Buy it on bandcamp now.

WATCH: Grace Petrie – ‘The Last Man On Earth’

Having been a big fan of Grace Petrie and her politically-charged, but beautifully catchy, folk-strewn anthems since first hearing 2018’s Queer As Folk, I was excited to hear that she will be releasing her new album, Connectivity, next month (read all about this and more in our in-depth interview with her). Following the release of her euphoric last single ‘Storm To Weather’, she has now shared ‘The Last Man On Earth’ and its accompanying brand new video.

Showcasing Petrie’s exquisite smooth vocals at their most angelic, ‘The Last Man On Earth‘ fuses together a heartwarming ode to friendship with a moving reflection on the confused headspace that can come from mixed messages and unrequited feelings… Flowing with lilting, folk-strewn melodies – complete with jangling banjo refrains and sweeping strings – it’s a perfect example of the Leicester songwriter’s knack for combining beautifully harmonious sounds with a gritty, stirring lyricism, and often a touch of playful wit. Shimmering with Petrie’s crystalline charm, it poignantly juxtaposes the raw emotion of its heartfelt sentiment with a refreshingly joyous musicality and instantly catchy energy. Of the track, she explains:

“… it’s a country-inspired bop that we couldn’t stop singing during the recording sessions. It’s about the age-old experience of being a butch lesbian in a slightly confusing friendship with a straight woman where you both know the lines are a bit blurred but ultimately it will never come to anything. It seemed like country was the best medium for that message, sort of a slightly satirical take on the classic “sad country music” cliche.”

‘The Last Man On Earth’ is accompanied by a fun-filled video of people young and old line-dancing along to Grace and her band; a perfect reflection of the feeling of solidarity and joy of coming together with like-minded folk that runs throughout the upcoming album. So, fling on those daisy dukes, nab the cowboy hat that’s been hanging in the wardrobe since that fancy dress party in Fresher’s week 2005, and immerse yourself in the uptempo twinkling spirit of this spirited new offering.

Connectivity, the upcoming new album from Grace Petrie, is set for release 4th October. Pre-order here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

ALBUM: Moor Mother – ‘Black Encyclopedia Of The Air’

Following 2016’s Fetish Bones, Camae Ayewa – aka Moor Mother – has since been wowing fans with 2017’s The Motionless Present and 2020’s innovative project with Swedish musician Olof Melander, Anthologia, which raised money for disability justice. Now, following much critical acclaim, she is set to release a poignant new album – once again recorded with Melander. In short, Black Encyclopedia of the Air is a remarkably unique and absorbing collection, constituting a scattered and beguiling exploration of idiosyncratic ideas and reflections on modern life.

We open in a free-floating sound realm – ‘Temporal Control of Light Echos’ – which immediately lifts us off the sofa into an antigravity dream where space-time operates in an unfamiliar and unsettling manner. This sensation forcibly synchronises our sense of reality with that of Moor Mother, poet/activist/musician/(fortune teller?)/(sorcerer?) and co-founder of Black Quantum Futurism, a collective invested in rethinking our understanding of and interaction with the past and the future…

As soon as we begin to settle into the opener, we are thrust unceremoniously into the next. This album is full of fast cuts between immediate tunes, most of which nestle under the two-and-a-half minute mark. It feels like more of a collection than an album, with threads picked up and dropped with equal vigour. Rather than being an ‘Encyclopedia’ as the title proclaims, it feels like an open notebook; making synaptic flips between ideas, ranging from oblique sketches (see especially ‘Obsidian’) to striking candour (‘Race Function Limited’, ‘Made a Circle’). Where the latter perhaps were more of a feature on Moor Mother’s vitally charged debut Fetish Bones, it is generally the more mysterious elements that impress on Black Encyclopedia Of The Air.

As a whole, the album is possessed by murk – not in a lazily muddy or ‘moody’ way, but with a dedication to explore the world that darkness speaks of. Synth bursts choked by cut-off fall slow and sinuous like blood in water and swirl alongside breathy vocals and distant cries of jazz elements. Moor Mother proclaims the importance of free jazz to her approach as a writer, an influence that makes itself felt across her instinctive writing and disorientating music. This influence makes itself felt in particular on more rhythmically unconventional tracks like ‘Rogue Waves’ and ‘Iso Fonk’, two of the album’s standouts.

It really comes together on its second side, finding cohesion within its chaos. ‘Tarot’ stands out as the longest and most patient track, justified in its length as it stretches into drones and percussive rings backing what seem like oblique prayers to a strange god. From here, the album coalesces, the final three tracks streamlining into a powerful close, centred around ‘Zami’, which drills into your head and spins it like a fairground ride. 

As a whole, Black Encyclopedia Of The Air feels like its own unique universe of strange sounds and intimations. We are left to chase Moor Mother’s philosophy down sonic abysses and lyrical mazes, and if we could only catch them we might just be rewarded.


Black Encyclopedia Of The Air, the new album from Moor Mother, is set for release on 27th September via ANTI-. Pre-order here.

Lloyd Bolton
@lloyd_bolton

Photo Credit: Bob Sweeney

Track Of The Day: Lunar Vacation – ‘Gears’

With acclaim from the likes of The Fader and Clash, and having previously charmed our ears with the luscious sounds of previous single ‘Mold‘, Atlanta-based Lunar Vacation are now set to release their debut album, Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp, next month. Ahead of the album’s release, the band have shared a poignant new single.

Reflecting on the deterioration of a relationship, ‘Gears‘ oozes a dreamy, shimmering allure. Against the backdrop of a scuzzy, whirring musicality, Grace Repasky’s honey-sweet crystalline vocals float seamlessly with an ethereal splendour – bringing to mind favourites such as Best Coast or Alvvays. Building with a sweeping, sparkling emotion to a heartfelt slice of irresistibly effervescent indie-pop, ‘Gears’ flows with a glistening, cinematic grace as droplets of stirring melancholy ripple on the seemingly serene surface. Of the track, Repasky comments:

“When I look back on any kind of relationship, it’s usually through rose-coloured glasses. I guess this song tells me that although this happened, you just gotta keep going because this isn’t the end of the world. But the last lines are a reflection of how inner-me feels… I’ll probably always be a little sad about the loss. I feel like most, if not all, of my songs are future-me giving past-me advice and insight on specific situations that evoked heavy feelings.”

The stark sentiment of ‘Gears’ is captured perfectly in the dark beauty of its Nosferatu-inspired new video. Watch it here:

Produced by Daniel Gleason of Grouplove, Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp – the upcoming debut album from Lunar Vacation – is set for release on 29th October via Keeled Scales. Pre-order here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Hudson McNeese