Noise Annoys: Malojian's new album, Brand New Friend's virtual tour and Junk Drawer and Buí's new singles
New music from Malojian, Junk Drawer and Buí, plus words on Brand New Friend's first ever virtual tour...
BORED yet? For most of us, the latest social isolation phase of the Covid-19 crisis has meant a long stint sat at home. When you've watched enough boxsets and terrifying rolling news to finally go oblong-eyed, why not take a break from the screen and let your ears do the heavy lifting for a while as you enjoy the latest soothing sounds from some of our top homegrown recording artists.
:: Malojian – HUMM (album, self-released/Rollercoaster)
MALOJIAN'S new album HUMM has arrived at just the right time. Originally planned for release in September 2020, Co Armagh-bred musician and Malojian mainman Stevie Scullion has now issued HUMM digitally via Bandcamp as an immediate psychedelic indie/power/folk-pop balm for listeners during the ongoing coronavirus debacle.
It's an appropriate move, given the vital role online communications played in the creation of the fifth Malojian record, a co-production with Scullion's "sonic hero", Jason Lytle of cult US indie rockers Grandaddy.
"All of this was only possible because of the internet, bouncing ideas around the world and back again," comments the Malojian leader of HUMM, which also features guest appearances from ex-Teenage Fanclub bassman/songsmith Gerry Love and drummer/producer extraordinaire Joey Waronker (REM, Roger Waters, Beck etc), veterans of 2017's acclaimed Malojian LP Let Your Weirdness Carry You Home.
"I named it after Foilhummerum Bay, which is on Valentia Island off the coast of Ireland and is where the transatlantic cable leaves from. So who knows, in this time of social distancing, maybe this is actually the right time to put it out, back through the same door it came in."
It's somewhat ironic too, given the album's many lyrical references to the less helpful/healthy aspects of modern technology, most pointedly in the mellifluous 80s gaming nostalgia-laced chug of wistful album centrepiece The Golden Age, Trampolining's winning combination of glammy power pop and surveillance state paranoia, and the smart tech-phobia of ghostly Daniel Johnston-esque piano ballad bonus track The Singularity.
Elsewhere, self-isolating listeners can enjoy the weary/woozy post-funeral countrified blues of And The Thief Came In, hushed apocalyptic lullaby Burns, Tsundoku's soothing synth-powered existential indie popt, groovy grungepop buzz Walking Away, introspective post-Troubles lament Chinooks, the playful slow-release psychedelic folksiness of love/hate song Salt, and Someone K New's tender heartbreak jammge. As for the cosmic stummer of the instrumental title track, be ready to 'humm' along.
Scullion, a long-time favourite of this column and indeed the wider Irish music scene, who has been operating as Malojian since 2010, is well known for his captivating live performances in both solo and full-band modes. He's already looking forward to a time when it's safe to bring HUMM's songs to life in venues far and wide.
"Look after each other and hopefully someday soon we can come and sing it for you in person," he advises.
In the meantime, HUMM comes highly recommended as a tuneful tonic for troubling times. It's available as a digital download at Malojian.bandcamp.com/album/humm, where you can also pre-order the limited edition gatefold vinyl, to be released on September 18 via Kilkenny's Rollercoaster Records.
:: Brand New Friend announce virtual tour
"LIVE! Tonight! From Taylor's Room!": Castlerock's finest kick off their first ever virtual tour this evening, having recently been forced to cancel dates including a Belfast show at Voodoo thanks to the ongoing don't-call-it-a-lockdown – although BNF actually are calling it that, so yeo.
Their acoustic Lockdown Tour begins tonight at 8pm, streaming live on their Instagram page @brandnewfriendz from frontman Taylor Johnson's boudoir with a set chosen by fans (so if you've any requests be sure to get them in asap), before moving on to his wee brother/bass guitarist Logan's room on Monday evening for the first ever full live run through of their cracking debut album Seatbelts for Aeroplanes.
'The Living Room / Lounge' is up next on Wednesday April 1 before the virtual jaunt ends spectacularly with an outdoor live extravaganza at the prestigious 'Madison Square Back Garden' on Saturday April 4. All the sets commence at 8pm, so be sure to have your gig snacks and beverages ready.
You can gen-up on what's in store by checking out Brand New Friend's recently released A Cure For Living EP and the rest of their indiepoptastic back catalogue over at Brandnewfriendz.bandcamp.com.
:: Junk Drawer – What I've Learned / What I'm Learning (single, self-released)
BELFAST slackrock unit Junk Drawer are about to give you another taster from their forthcoming debut album Ready For The House: Released next Friday, What I've Learned / What I'm Learning starts off deceptively slow 'n' groovy before the band floor the pedal(s) around the midpoint, launching themselves into a proggy full-tilt boogie which bubbles and scrapes around guitarist Stevie Lennox's entertainingly hysterical vocals as the song barrels along in the manner of a truck with bad brakes on a mountain pass.
For my money, no-one does this kind of entertainingly crazed-yet-controlled Krautrock-tinged indie psychedelia quite as well as the Drawer – and if you like this wee monster, which is the opening gambit on Ready For The House, you're going to love the album proper when it's released on Friday April 24 on vinyl and digital download. For the love of Zod, get it pre-ordered now at Junkdrawerbelfast.bandcamp.com.
:: Buí – A Conversation About Punk (single, self-released)
ON THE subject of 'Belfast-based world leaders in 1990s US alt-rock informed indie rock/pop', the boul Buí had just released their latest single before the world lost the run of itself, meaning that it's potentially been a bit overlooked amid all the mass anxiety of the past couple of weeks.
That's a shame as A Conversation About Punk is in many ways the ideal soundtrack to the myriad relationships currently crumbling under the stress of house arrest. "We can talk about nothing / because let's face it we've both got nothing to say / and nothing makes you feel satisfied anyway," croons frontman Josh as this melodic melancholic nugget errupts in a colourful riot of woozy synths, spiky guitar squall and a chorus catchier than Covid-19.
"You can't tell why I don't like this," he sings. Ah, but Josh, we do like this – very much. Listen/buy now via Bui43.bandcamp.com and don't miss yet another quality video from this fast rising local act: this one features a skilful collage of stock footage pieced together by their synth man Eoin Johnson to create an oddly evocative clip. It ends with a section featuring loads of dogs absolutely loving life while hanging their heads out of car windows, which might be enough to bring a tear to your eye under our current housebound circumstances. Look for it on YouTube now.
Living In The Shadow of The Terrible Thing – Therapy?
Isolation – Joy Division
Infected – Bad Religion
Stay Away – Nirvana
Boredom – Buzzcocks
Year of The Sofa – Junk Drawer
Getting The Day In – Tunic
Every Day Is Like Sunday – Morrissey
TV Tan – Wildhearts
Kill Your Television – Ned's Atomic Dustbin