Noise Annoys: Touts, New Pagans, Sister Ghost, Son of The Hound and Benjamin Francis Leftwich
A slew of new local releases for you consideration plus the first instalment of a new 'occasional feature' in which artists discuss the making of their latest album/single/video/whatever
TOUTS' new tune Before We Go Forward is a pleasingly scruffy cover of an old Joe Strummer protest song. A relic from the 'Clash II' era that was never actually properly released until last year's Joe Strummer 001 compilation (and even then only as a bonus track), this 'lost demo' is better than anything on the final and much maligned Cut The Crap LP.
Released in the teeth of an imminent hard/no deal Brexit complete with defaced Euro-flag themed artwork, the Derry trio's ire is palpable here as they slam their way through Uncle Joe's anti-establishment ditty in manner that proves they're as comfortable with its mid-tempo groove as their more usual fast 'n' frantic thrashings.
All proceeds from the digital-only release go towards the Joe Strummer Foundation, so get it bought now via Spotify etc. With a bit of luck, you'll get to hear a rip-roaring live rendition of the song at Touts' upcoming Irish shows at Dublin's Academy (March 20), Voodoo in Belfast (21), Limerick Dolan's (22) the Roisin Dubh in Galway (24) and their post-Brexit (possibly) homecoming at Derry's An Culturlann on April 6.
On the subject of live music in Derry, tonight Bennigans is hosting New Pagans, Reevah and Shannon 'Sister Ghost' O'Neill, the former and latter of which/whom have just 'dropped' new tunes.
The energisingly defiant It's Darker from the Lindsay McDougall-fronted New Pagans is the latest thumping addition to their slowly expanding arsenal of catchy/crunchy 90s alt-rock informed gems and a fine and fiery follow-up to the thunderous pop riffery of last year's Bloody Soil.
Meanwhile, Sister Ghost's Backwards plunders similar be-fringed and flannel-clad loud/quiet/loud influences for a melodic and cathartic grungegaze lament about a terminally one-sided relationship.
You can hear at both tunes tonight, plus the easy on the ear alt-folk stylings of Reevah, at Bennigans tonight from 9-ish for a mere £6 admission.
Onwards to You Are Alive by Son of The Hound – AKA Mick McCullagh AKA Muck from hit YouTube sitcom The Also Rans (named for a Son of The Hound song, donchaknow) featuring Tony 'VerseChorusVerse' Wright –a rousingly anthemic retro guitar pop nugget plucked from the debut SOTH album Cheers, Sound, Good Luck, due out early next month.
Ideal listening for keeping one's pecker up during these turbulent times, keep You Are Alive on repeat in the mornings to help start the day with a renewed spring in your step.
:: ON THE RECORD
Finally for this week, words on the making of York-born singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich's new album Gratitude, released today via Dirty Hit. Noise Annoys quizzed BFL about the creative process behind his third record and first 'post-rehab' long player.
Congratulations on Gratitude: how was your 'difficult third album' experience?
To be honest I found the process of recording Gratitude the most peaceful yet. I was lucky enough to work alongside Beatriz Artola, Lazy H and Joe Rubin who are all great producers and have very calming energies to be around. I was also in a much better headspace than I had been in a long time, so it was a breath of fresh air to be able to record with peace of mind and clarity.
The actual writing is kind of a different story. I wrote it during an intense time of touring and travelling heavily. I had lost my mind for a long time, and to be honest was in quite a dark space (literally and spiritually).
At the start I would spend most weekends locked in a writing room in Brixton with Lazy H, we would just write and write and push through the waviness in our lives at the time. I think it was kind of therapeutic in a way although it definitely felt painful and self-sacrificing at times.
I'm deeply proud of the album. It’s funny listening to it – I was writing it at such a confusing time and listening back it's as if I was predicting this more peaceful, accepting place of surrender I am lucky enough to be recovering in.
Is there a song on the album you're particularly proud of?
I kind of have different ones every day. At the moment, I think it's a song called Look Ma. It is the first song I wrote when I got out of rehab and it’s kind of a reminder to self to stay vigilant and honest. Also, that just putting down stuff that is hurting me doesn't suddenly mean the sun is going to come out all the time.
If you could go back in time to just before you made your debut album and give yourself some advice, what would you say?
I would say don't get addicted to drugs and get honest with yourself and out of the way of your own ego as soon as you possibly can. Don't let go of the people you love and care about so easily.
Pray and meditate more. Think before you speak and don’t react in anger. Read more books. Listen to more Drake and more The Blue Nile. Be kinder to yourself while cooking songs.
I would say cook more good food. Go running as much as you can because it's good for your head and your heart. Listen to and trust Jamie Oborne more. Listen to more music with an as open heart, mind and eyes as possible.
I would say keep creating as much as possible and don’t be so cruel to yourself when you don’t get the perfect song every time. Spend more time with your beautiful dad.
You're already working on new songs. How has the making of this album influenced/informed them?
Weirdly, I have hit a real creative wave since January and have written several new songs I am really proud of. I will be making a new record very soon.
The making of this new album has really hammered home that I am so lucky and privileged to have the gift of music, and that is really a tool I can choose to engage to soundtrack my life if I want.
I'm learning to really be honest in the lyrics and write about a theme as clearly, kindly and as beautifully as possible… and not to hide from the truth.
:: Gratitude is out now. Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Sunday March 24, The Empire, Belfast