Another day has passed, and once again I find myself looking up from my laptop at 4pm and exclaiming “how is it dark already?” as the weeks blur into a smudge. We’ve lost a lot of things this year, but perhaps the most gaping hole in the health of my social life is left by the silence of the live music scene. I don’t want to discredit the efforts of icons such as the Windmill to persist with live shows despite social distancing rules, but things clearly aren’t the same.
When lockdown first occurred all the way back in March, I was thrown back home to the countryside and found it too painful to even listen to many of the bands that embodied the once thriving “post-punk” London indie scene. But a lot of time has passed since then, and I know I’m not alone in feeling a bit restless about recapturing the feeling that these gigs gave to audiences. Sitting around complaining about everything we can’t do grows old very quickly, so instead I have set out to explore the corners of the internet and find the songs that echo that feeling of waiting in a crowd in the dark, anticipating the hit of an opening note…
Ask Me Later
The first track of this article comes from a band that embodies the new indie ‘post punk’ scene perfectly. Encapsulating the short, snappy punk of earlier bands such as Minutemen, their dry humour and rapid instrumentality waste no time in getting to the point. This newest release proves that the band certainly know how to write a great tune (following catchy singles such as Presenteeism and Naughty On My Bike that were released earlier this year). It’s impossible to hear this track without thinking of the vibrant energy that would come with its live performance, and the punky rebellious humour that embodies so much of what makes the live scene great.
For fans of – Minutemen, Gang of Four.
Good to listen to when… You’re trying to make your supermarket trip a bit less tedious and imagine life as more exciting than it presently is.
Black Country, New Road
If you’re reading this article and haven’t heard Black Country, New Road yet I urge you to close the tab, open spotify, and only come back once you have. This band are an enigma of the London live scene, selling out venues as big as the Village Underground weeks in advance with only two singles officially released (not that there aren’t numerous deeply loved bootlegs of their performances circulating the internet). The announcement of their album earlier this month was keenly anticipated, and while we all wait eagerly for what promises to be a contender for 2021’s album of the year, Science Fair reminds us of everything they are loved for. Nothing can quite equate to the experience of seeing this band live, but the power of this single will make you feel more emerged in music than you have in months.
For fans of – Slint, Squid.
Good to listen to when… You have 6 minutes spare and want to go through all the emotions.
Speaking of Black Country, New Road, Jockstrap is the equally exhilarating project of violinist Georgia Ellery and fellow musician Taylor Skye. Jockstrap are quite simply one of the most exciting acts releasing music right now. Their songs sprawl from rich soundscapes of classical harmonies to anxiety inducing electronic static and explore every nuance of sound in between. This track, off their incredible EP released earlier this year covers a whole spectrum of music in the space of less than five minutes. It’s hard to imagine how these new songs will translate to live performance, but having been lucky enough to see earlier Jockstrap performances surrounding the release of their first EP ‘Love is the Key to the City’ they are not a band who will disappoint.
For fans of – early James Blake, Can.
Good to listen to when… You’re bored of what you already know, and want to listen to something really different.
People thought my windows were stars
Slowly, subtly building up to an overwhelming crescendo; deathcrash’s music and their career seem to be following a similar trajectory. Despite being still an incredibly new band deathcrash have already gained a dedicated fanbase, secured by previous brilliant tracks such as Slumber and Bones. However, it is this year’s earlier release, a 15 minute long journey in sound, that confirms them as one of the most exciting and confident bands around. Deathcrash don’t shy away from heavy subjects, with dark and melancholy lyrics. They also aren’t afraid of quiet and space in their music, meaning when heavier chords hit, they’re all the more profound. Listening to this song is reminiscent of stumbling upon a brilliant band you’ve never heard of before in your favourite venue. They come onto the stage with confidence, do what they came here to do, and exit, leaving the audience reeling in their wake. In this track deathcrash confirm their status as one of the most interesting new acts around.
For fans of – Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai.
Good to listen to when… You’re feeling a little melancholy late at night.
Legss’ first EP ‘Writhing Comedy’ was a personal favourite release of 2019, and their live shows were among the best of those ‘regulars’ of the London gig circuit. The dry wit of this first release and their live shows was not lost in ‘Doomswayers’, a release that came out in the midst of the pandemic and even featured surreal diss track towards Huw Stevens of all people. The standout song however is the EP’s opening track, ‘Local God’ which simultaneously embodies the best aspects of new post-punk indie while mocking everything that makes the scene terrible. This is a hyper aware release, embodying the self-reflection that is fundamentally necessary if the ‘new’ music scene is going to thrive instead of stagnating. Legss show sometimes it helps to not take yourself quite so seriously.
For fans of – Do Nothing, BODEGA.
Good to listen to when… you’re sick of Radio 6 playing the same tracks on repeat.
I Want to Crawl Inside of You
Famous’ heavy but fitting latest single ‘Nice While It Lasted’ alongside their (now postponed) socially distanced residency at the Windmill means they’ve become central to what currently exists as the “live scene” in London. However, it is their now one year old (!) release ‘I Want to Crawl Inside of You’ that has been dominating the REELculture speakers for the past month. Perhaps it’s the opening cry of “I’m bored” that makes it an incredibly relatable track, or maybe its just the energy listening to it inspires that makes this track seem to embody everything I love and miss about live music. Famous’ residency will hopefully take place in early December now, and with their return (whenever it may be) the healing of the live scene can begin.
For fans of – Warmduscher, Dry Cleaning.
Good to listen to when… the rare occasion comes about that despite the world ending, you fancy a dance around your kitchen.
I’m debating pouring beer on my floor to give it that familiar stickiness. Maybe I’ll let my flatmates start smoking indoors again so everything goes a bit hazy and soft around the edges. Maybe I’ll turn up my amp to ungodly levels so I can go to bed with that buzzing in my ears. Whatever it takes, the music will get us through.
Feature Image Sourced via.
All tracks mentioned in this article can be found in this weeks Lockdown Tunes, linked below.