Five Favourites: Panic Pocket

Having stolen our hearts playing live for us at The Five Bells last year, London duo Sophie Peacock and Natalie Healey – aka Panic Pocket – create luscious slices of shimmering indie-pop with a twinkling charm and impeccable tongue-in-cheek wit.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with the duo to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques. Check out their choices below, and make sure you watch their new video ‘Pizza In My Pants’ at the end of this post.

Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 (Or, the Last Remains of the Dodo)
Nat: I picked up this record in an HMV bargain bin in Crawley when I was about fifteen, because I thought the cover looked cool, and I’ve been obsessed with Aimee Mann ever since. Bachelor No.2 was the perfect soundtrack to typical suburban teenage angst and it makes me nostalgic for my boombox every time I listen to it. Mann’s sad, darkly funny lyrics and deadpan vocals are a big influence for us. She also uses a lot of jazzy chords in her songs, which I steal because they sound cool and I still suck at barre chords!

Rilo Kiley – The Execution of All Things
Nat: I discovered Rilo Kiley when I was going through my Bright Eyes phase way too late in life, in about 2010. I was working for a medical research company in the middle of nowhere at the time. I hated my job and I was lonely and pretty sad. This bleak as fuck but triumphant album really helped me through the multiple work disasters, toxic relationships and emotional turmoil of that period. Jenny Lewis is an incredible songwriter and conjures such powerful imagery in her music. Just try and listen to ‘A Better Son, Daughter’ without feeling something. And then, check out Lewis’ new record On the Line too – it’s a masterpiece.

Dar Williams – Mortal City
Sophie: Before I hit peak Tori Amos fan, I had Dar Williams. After hearing her on a Lilith Fair compilation sing impassionately and wrly about therapy sessions, my angsty teenage heart was desperate to track her down. I listened to 30 second extracts of her songs on Amazon (the only access I had to the rest of her work in a pre-Youtube world), and then finally took the plunge and ordered Mortal City. Her confessional, folk-story, sometimes-sea-shanty songwriting had me rapt. ‘The Pointless, Yet Poignant, Crisis Of A Co-Ed’ and the title track ‘Mortal City’ showed that sometimes less is more, and putting some witty sass in your songs can go a long way – it’s now the Panic Pocket standard.

PJ Harvey – Dry
Sophie: I saw Dry in my local library at age 15 and took it home on a whim, and quickly became obsessed. It marked several milestones in my puny white-girl teenage rebellion: my mum finally asked “what the hell are you listening to?”, and I realised that feminist rage and unrequited lust could go musically hand in hand to cathartic results. I felt like a mysterious vengeful witch was singing everything I wished I could have heard up until that first playthrough, and I still return to it on the reg.

Best Coast – ‘Crazy For You’
Nat: When we started Panic Pocket, we probably cited lo-fi surf rock duo Best Coast as our biggest influence up-beat, bratty, lo-fi songs about darker, more complex situations. Sophie introduced me to this album when it first came out, and we were living hundreds of miles from each other. Whenever I hear it, it makes me think of how grateful I am that we get to hang out with each other every day right now. And just like Bethany Cosentino sings on ‘Goodbye’, we too wish our cat could talk. Nine years on, it’s still the perfect soundtrack to your summer.

Massive thanks to Panic Pocket for sharing their Five Favourites! Check out their new video for ‘Pizza In My Pants’ below:

Never Gonna Happen, the new EP from Panic Pocket is out 12th April via Reckless Yes. Catch Panic Pocket live at the following dates:

10th April – The Victoria (EP Launch)
10th May – The Finsbury (for Get In Her Ears w/ Crumb!)

PREMIERE: Mesadorm – ‘When She’s in That Mood’

A gentle, evocative, charming listen; Mesadorm have shared their new single ‘When She’s in That Mood’ ahead of its official release via Babylegs Records on 29th March. The track is taken from the band’s upcoming acoustic album Epicadus, which will be released on 19th April.

The new LP was recorded live in Eype Church, Bridport, where PJ Harvey recorded Let England Shake. It features re-imagined songs from the band’s 2018 album Heterogaster and new compositions arranged for acoustic instruments.

Frontwoman Blythe was inspired to write ‘When She’s in That Mood’ after leaving her previous band Vaults in 2017. The song’s composition prompted her to think of a particular musical moment in Michael Nyman’s piece ‘The Mood That Passes Through You’ – written for Jane Campion’s award-winning 1993 film, The Piano.

Speaking about the track, Blythe explains: “After a few transcendental days holed up overlooking the Dorset coast and walking seaweed beaches in February 2017, my then boyfriend Tom jammed some chords on his guitar and I sang some lyrics I’d penned about my experience there. I later translated his guitar chords to my piano to develop it into a more complete accompaniment part…”

“The New Zealand coastline and atmosphere in that heady film, the Dorset coastline and the East Anglian coastline of my upbringing fused together in my mind as I wrote about the paradox of ‘choosing’ to evaporate the self in sex and love. I also reference a good friend of mine who inspired me with her spirit of surrender in this way – she, my muse, is dancing while I sing”

Blythe’s perceptive storytelling and Mesadorm’s collective musical precision as a whole are wonderfully demonstrated on ‘When She’s in That Mood’. Listen to the new track below, and make sure you catch the band on tour in April & May (tickets are available here).

 

Mesadorm Epicadus Acoustic Tour 2019
24th April – The Forge, Bristol
25th April – The Barrelhouse, Totnes
26th April – The Rose Hill, Brighton
27th April – St Mary’s Music Hall, London
28th April – Cobalt Studios, Newcastle
29th April – Hug & Pint, Glasgow
30th April – Secret Location , Edinburgh
1st May – Burton Arms, Manchester
11th May – Rodborough Church, Stroud
25th May – Kino, St Leonards, Hastings
26th May – Poltimore Festival, Exeter

Photo Credit: Sarah Cresswell

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: PETSEMATARY

Oxford newcomer PETSEMATARY creates atmospheric, shoegazey soundscapes that in spite of their clear production, brood with a raw intensity. She recorded her first EP VOL I, independently, with all proceeds going to the charities Mind and Shelter.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with PETSEMATARY to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her track ‘Tall Boys’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Jeff Buckley – Grace
This album pretty much made me want to make music. There’s no other way to describe Jeff’s voice other than pure self-expression in sonic form and it’s just fucking magical to listen to. It was the first time I’d heard music that made me want to smile and cry and scream and sing and it just made me want to use my voice in the most true way possible. Singing is a really intimate and personal thing. Your voice is you and there’s not much you can do to change it, and I think that Jeff’s music encouraged me to be as true to that as possible. The album is a kind of beautiful mess of different sounds – Grace is like an orchestral and cinematic love song, whereas tracks like ‘So Real’ and ‘Dream Brother’ are dark and abstract and dreamlike, and Jeff’s voice traverses to whatever depths the songs take him. There’s a lot of darkness in the songs but also there’s this hopefulness and light which really inspires me.

2. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked For Death
I love everything about Emma. Her songs are dark and twisted and raw and I just think that she’s one of the most powerful female musicians around at the moment. I admire that her songs are both honest but also elusive – she manages to paint scenarios that don’t need to be explicit lyrically, and that makes them all the more powerful. Her guitar work was also a massive turning point in how I approached writing. Even though I’ve been playing guitar since I was a kid it has always been something I’ve felt self-conscious about or something I should always work a little harder at, and something that I have always felt I am inferior at among my male peers. Listening to Emma’s work made me realise that being good at guitar doesn’t need to mean being able to shred scales as fast as all the other guitar guys, but that you can make hauntingly beautiful and unique soundscapes through space, open tunings and effects.

On the title track ‘Marked For Death’ she has these beautiful sparse reverb-drenched plucked guitars that implode into a haze of delayed slide guitars in the chorus – this album pretty much made me want to put slide guitar on every track I make ever. Lyrically I also really admire her. Tracks like ‘Medusa’ and ‘Hand of God’ made me think a lot about female characters in literature and mythology and how they can sort of serve as a way of communicating my own experiences. I think there’s a lot of power in reclaiming those old tropes about women – the seductress, the woman scorned etc. All of those ideas are constructed as reactions to (and fear of) female power, and I feel like in reclaiming them in songwriting or any narrative they can become a way of coming to terms with your own experience. I feel power in reclaiming my own experience through that lens.

3. Elliott Smith – Figure 8
Elliott was the master of making the most bleak things sound melodically beautiful and uplifting. My favourite Elliott record constantly fluctuates, but for songwriting I always seem to go back to Figure 8. His lyrics can be both candid and enigmatic, and just in the way he sings there is an honesty and vulnerability which I find really inspiring. His songs are all feel and no bullshit, and it’s that sort of understated genius aspect which I love so much about all of his music.

The songs are vulnerable and raw but not afraid to hit where it hurts, and I think it just shows that being able to saw how you really feel is a lot of the time more powerful than dressing stuff up in metaphor. That sort of honesty opens you up in songwriting and that really inspired me in how I wanted to communicate my ideas through my songs. I love the arrangements on this album. Obviously his acoustic tracks are beautiful enough as they are but tracks like ‘Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud’, ‘Junk Bond Trader’ and ‘Happiness’ are just really powerful and dynamic to me in terms of their instrumentation.

“All I used to be will pass away and then you’ll see that all I want now is happiness for you and me” – the lyrics really are just bleak as hell yet he manages to twist them into an uplifting and harmonically beautiful track, and I guess its that incongruity between the dark and the light which makes this album and Elliott’s songwriting in general all the more twisted and brilliant to me. It’s all just so beautiful and haunting.

4. PJ Harvey – Is This Desire?
This record has so much depth and dynamic, and PJ is the mistress of dark and light and just everything to me. There’s a lot of noise and dissonance to the songs and I think they all speak to this theme of instinct and rawness which lie behind a lot of the tracks. Tracks like ‘A Perfect Day Elise’ and ‘The Sky Lit Up’ have these hazy distorted soundscapes, and PJ’s voice can go from whisper to growl to scream to ghostly wailing, and I think she’s just an incredibly powerful songwriter and performer. It’s sorta like a constant fluctuating between chaos and calm.

My favourite track on the record probably is the title track, ‘Is This desire?’. The simplicity and honesty of the words, the stripped back accompaniment and vocal are just really evocative to me. It’s my favourite record of hers because it just feels really raw and intimate, and again no-bullshit. I like the idea of these female protagonists which drive the story of the songs – Elise, Angelene, Catherine and so on. From that angle it speaks to me as a record about raw female experience, passion and desire, and I think that the same honesty in reclaiming your own desires and instinctual emotions is what inspired me when making Petsem Vol I. Desire as instinct, possessiveness and anger as instinct and so on.

5. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
Billy Corgan for me is one of the most important songwriters (although he is eminently memeable) and I think Siamese Dream is testament to that. It’s just one of my favourite guitar albums ever. There’s a sorta surreal circus-like feel about the songs – it’s sludgy and psychy but has a really great pop melodic feel to it. You have the spacey sleepy-eyed dream tracks like ‘Luna’ and ‘Spaceboy’, which are really beautiful and surreal, but then you also have the way songs like ‘Soma’ and ‘Silverfuck’ soar between sparse reverby guitars to heavy sludge vibes. It’s dynamic and exciting, and an album I go back to again and again when I feel uninspired or am struggling to write. The songs constantly travel to parts you aren’t really expecting. They can be grungey and dark and heavy, but also upbeat and light, all the while with fucking great vocal melodies and harmonies. Also Corgan is a gift to this earth and we don’t deserve him.

Thanks to PETSEMATARY for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook & Bandcamp for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: FRIEDBERG

Alt-indie outfit FRIEDBERG – The brainchild of Austrian singer-songwriter Anna Friedberg – came together as a result of frustration at the wider industry and being in the right place at the right time. Originally discovered by Lenny Kravitz, Anna spent much of her time as a songwriter travelling between Europe and America, gaining influence from the spaces she was surrounded by – particularly the Joshua Tree National Park in the Californian desert.

Inspired by her time writing and recording in the wilderness, Anna moved to London where she teamed up with a group of musicians – Emily Linden, Eilidh McKellar and Cheryl Pinero. In the summer of 2018, the girls began playing a handful of secret shows which then led to a singles deal with London indie label LGM Records (Goldheart Assembly, Amaroun) and Free Trade Agency (The National, The War On Drugs). Thus, FRIEDBERG was born. The band have just shared their debut single ‘Boom’ and will be releasing more new music in the near future.

We asked Anna, Cheryl and Eilidh to name their “Five Favourites” – five artists or albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques. Check out their choices below, and make sure you listen to ‘Boom’ at the end of this post!

1. ESG – ESG
The hottest band and album in the world (still). I still cannot believe I discovered ESG and their ’91 album only a few years ago. What have I done all my life before I knew ESG?! To me, they are coolness personified and much more than that: So groovy and hooky and minimalistic, just everything I love combined on one record. What I found most inspiring is the incredibly unique drumming. I really have never heard a tastier, more special way of drumming. I could endlessly just listen to that record. It just never gets old, probably even fresher every year. (Anna)

2. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit
It was probably the best time in my life: 2015, driving through California, into the desert of Joshua Tree, windows rolled down and singing along to Courtney Barnett’s debut album. It was at that time when I also started to write the music for our new album and Courtney was just like the gentlest and freshest breeze carrying me on that special journey. I just cannot express how much I love her lyrics. Her stream-of-consiousness style, the way she tells her stories is simply sublime. So smart and beautifully written, that you just cannot escape. Not to forget her super laid-back vocals and phenomenal guitar playing. (Anna)

PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project
I almost cannot listen to that album without seeing PJ Harvey in my mind’s eye performing those songs at the Primavera Festival in Barcelona a few years ago. Whenever I listen to that record I’m back there, standing in the middle of thousands of people, by the sea, totally overwhelmed by her jaw dropping performance and presence. Polly’s haunting live-show is to blame, why this became one of my favourite albums of the past years. (Anna)

Warpaint – The Fool
I’ve listened to this record probably a million times since it came out. It has such an uncompromised sound to me, because each individual song shows so many facets, with such effortless dynamic. I love the raw, dreamy and deep feel to their music. What an amazing band! (Cheryl)

Radiohead – Ok Computer
I first discovered this album when I was about 13, but truly came to love it when I was 17 when I performed the whole entirety of the album at university. ‘Karma Police’ and ‘Let Down’ are my two favourite tracks. Thom Yorke’s vocals are trippy and haunting. Listen to it while walking in the rain (Eilidh)

Photo Credit: Max Parovsky

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Big Joanie

DIY punks Big Joanie have had a great year. They’ve toured extensively across the UK & Europe, supported our faves Dream Wife at Camden’s KOKO, and last week they released their debut album Sistahs. Their music is a mix of the personal and the political, and we wanted to know what inspires the girls to create their own sound. We caught up with band member Stephanie Phillips to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five artists or albums that have influenced her songwriting technique. Check out her responses below…

1. Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out
I’m a huge Sleater-Kinney fan and it all started when I was a teenager. Listening to Dig Me Out in my bedroom when I was 16, I remember feeling a well of emotion in my chest. It was like I wanted to shout out loud with the song but I could never get the words out, even when I was alone. My journey from a shy, reserved kid to a singer in a band has mostly been through listening over and over again to this band and learning how to sing along. I’m pretty sure Carrie’s stadium rock guitar style has crept into my playing as well.

2. The Breeders – Last Splash
It’s hard to pick a favourite out of all of The Breeders albums, but Last Splash had a huge impact on me. Kim’s way of creating something that can still be a bit rough or unusual as long as its honest has been an approach I’ve tried to follow. The Deal sisters know their way around a harmony and it’s glorious to listen to them when it seems to come so naturally. Big Joanie’s album also opens with a song called ‘New Year’, not the same song but I must have subconsciously taken a note of this. It doesn’t matter how many times I go back to this album it’s still one of my favourites.

3. The Ronettes – Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
I once went on a date with a guy who said he didn’t like ‘60s girl groups. I knew then and there I couldn’t be with that person. Who doesn’t love girl groups? From The Crystals to The Shangri-Las, I’ve studied every type of girl group but one of my all time favourites is The Ronettes. Ronnie Spector’s voice still sounds as arresting today as I imagine it did when the group first debuted. Though Phil Spector is a detestable human being, he was a visionary producer. The all encompassing wall of sound he was known for worked so well with The Ronettes sound. It’s a sound I’ve always wanted to capture myself. I know the wall of sound would have been nothing if it wasn’t for the young black women Spector worked with who gave it a voice.

4. Throwing Muses – Untitled
Again similar to the other artists I’ve listed, Throwing Muses have so many albums that influenced me but I have to pick their first album. I loved the complexity of the song structures, the emotional depth of the lyrics and the unusual turns and twists the record took. The album made me think about different ways to write pop songs. It made me think about how some of the best songs always take a different path to reach their destination of eventually becoming a pop song. Songs like ‘Vicky’s Box’, which is essentially a three part epic packed into a five minute song, shouldn’t work but they do.

5. PJ Harvey – Rid of Me
The raw blues punk of Peej soundtracked my early years and it’s still with me today. I love this album for all its worth. It’s strikingly intelligent, funny (even though many male journalists at the time didn’t seem to get her humour) and displays a level of emotional vulnerability that is rarely seen. Her dark sensibility and slightly twisted takes on love, lust, pain and anger captured my attention when I first listened to the album. I couldn’t believe that was the way people felt whether it was about her own experiences or not. Her ability to switch between different voices and tell numerous stories in her songs is comparable to the greats like Bob Dylan. I’m pretty sure for as long as I live I’ll always be trying but failing to replicate the work Polly created on this album.

Huge thanks to Steph for sharing her five favourites.

Order your copy of Big Joanie’s Sistahs here.

Follow the band of Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Premiere: Alice Robinson – ‘Rise’

Having already charmed crowds at a number of Irish festivals including Carrickmacross Arts Festival and Gothic Species Festival, Louth-based artist Alice Robinson is now ready to share her spellbinding debut single.

Exploring the theme of inequality in modern society, ‘Rise’ oozes an overwhelming, stirring emotion. Flowing with twinkling hooks and Robinson’s soaring, cinematic vocals, it’s driven by a subtle, haunting power and grandiose ethereal aura. Bringing to mind the beguiling musicality of the likes of Tori Amos or PJ Harvey, ‘Rise’ is an epic, and truly immersive, debut from the Irish songwriter.

Watch the surreal new video for ‘Rise’ here:

Catch Alice Robinson live at Fibber Magees, Dublin on 29th November.

Mari Lane
@marimindles