FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: THE 8TH OF MAY
A friendly PR tells me that tomorrow is the 8th of May, a day when we celebrate the loudest day of the year, MOTÖRHEAD DAY! Just shout ‘The 8th of May…The 8th of May’ and you’ll get it. Before receipt of this news, I had lined up a few words about the final episode of Series 6 of the British police drama Line of Duty which had 12.8 million viewers on tenterhooks when it aired on Sunday night. That’s a huge figure for a live transmission these days given competition from streaming and on demand services. Btw I was in the 17% who were happy with the ending but, then again, I invariably support minorities.
However, establishing beyond reasonable doubt that there is ne’re a jot nor scintilla of a plausible link between Lemmy, Line of Duty and this week’s song selection, it’s time for this line of enquiry to cease. So, acronym ready, I’ve served myself a REG 15, switched off the DIR, sent the CHIS packing and adopted a DL and here are today’s top tunes for you. Ending with Motörhead, of course, as at this rate it really will be the 8th of May by the time I finish.
Let’s begin with a trio of acts who will be familiar to frequenters of Fifty3 Fridays as I have been championing their work for quite a while. All have new music out this week all of which continues to hit high-water marks. Last month I previewed the new EP by Leeds band, The Harriets, via the chipper title track, “A Little Something”. The five-song record is out today and presents some engaging experimentation in styles and arrangements from the jazz-blues fuelled “The Lie” to the quasi-musical theatre of “Jessie’s Song” through to “For You” with its lilting verses that make way for a lavishly extended instrumental coda. Then there are days like these…
Collectively it adds up to a triumph with the stand out song for me being “Days Like These”. Just occasionally you hear a song which has classic stamped all over it and this is one of those universal rarities. Chronicling a linear day in the life in a simple matter of fact yet emotionally tender manner, the song celebrates the small things in life while recognising the bumps in the road. It reaches out to the romantic in us all and, influenced by Richard Hawley’s 2005 Coles Corner LP, the lush orchestration that envelops it perfectly amplifies this feeling. “Days Like These” should be with us for ever. You can find A Little Something on Bandcamp now.
Back with a fine new single to remind us that relationships are a two-way street is Hampshire-born Emma Denney who records simply as Denney, the name her friends called her from early days. Today being a first-of-the-month Bandcamp Friday, when artistes get to keep an even greater percentage of sales revenue from the platform, it is a good a day as any to invest in Denney’s growing collection of exquisite songs you’ll find on her page HERE. This sentiment applies to all the acts I’m featuring today too. Her new song, “I Could Be Better”, comes with a titular misnomer as it would make a perfect ‘season closer’ for one of those major TV series you can’t help watching.
Melodically the song is right up there with Denney’s previous work while those little vocal inflections and die-away moments are fast becoming her trademark; something to set her apart in a capacity crowd. Despite the diary-like tone of voice, Emma Denney keeps you guessing whether she is writing about herself or someone else’s experiences. She explains the song as “a little antidote to blame culture in any type of relationship. It's about how people can choose to deal with things in a better way on both sides of a difficult situation, and be accepting of their own faults and flaws.” One thing is assured though; the writing and production here is actually flawless.
The trio of familiar favourites is completed by epic alt. rock n’ pop four-piece, The Lunar Keys, who hail from the suburbs of London, though hardly the types to hide behind the chintz curtains. The band’s new single maintains the quality threshold set by its previous three releases and points towards an impressive, expanding repertoire that will in time see fans singing the words back to them from a festival stage or two. Building on the eco concerns of its previous single, “If It Was”, the new release, “Silent Ricochet”, is a fresh helping of committed agitprop.
As ever, The Lunar Keys meld earnest, direct sentiments to a fervently rousing tune propelled by urgent drums, keyboard riffs and spiky guitar breaks. Motivated by music, poetry and science as positive forces in the world, “Silent Ricochet” contrasts these keys to a more hopeful future with the forces of violence, oppression and ravages to our environment, which appear to put us on fast track to a global disaster. Caught in the crossfire there is still a sense of hope emerging that the bad stuff can fade to a silent ricochet.
The recording project of Teesside-based songwriter Rick Dobbing, Dressed Like Wolves started life back in 2009 with home recordings made by Dobbing and his friends. The artiste continued to put out music over subsequent years and you’ll find much of it on Bandcamp. Described by Tom Robinson as being “in the great tradition of great British eccentrics”, I would willingly include him in my oft-quoted category of maverick geniuses. That reminds me to put a selection of them up on the same page one day.
“Big Pool” actually came out at the end of March, but I didn’t hear it until the song was elevated to a Fresh Fave on Fresh on the Net’s Listening Post. Rick Dobbing wrote the song in half an hour as an homage to his much-loved local music venue, the Westgarth Social Club, Middlesborough. He recorded it on his phone accompanied by the sound of passing cars and a humming fridge, and recruited a host of other musicians/singers who are kindly name checked at the end of the video. These include Andrew Smith of Hartlepool’s Mt. Misery, who we featured two weeks ago. Dobbing’s delicate voice leading the song has a particular warmth and emotive note to it which is genuinely affecting while the backing vocals set a seal on a gently moving tribute.
Hartlepool born siblings, Marianne and David Holt, who trade as Detweiler are another act with North East connections. Now relocated to London, and taking cues from a melange of psych-pop, house, dance and video game music, the synth-pop duo has a mission to make music that makes you want to move and feel something in equal part. The band name is also the surname of the main character in a Disney TV cartoon called Recess which the pair grew up watching. The pair record and produce all the music themselves and are currently recording songs for a future EP.
The musical joie-de vivre of Detweiler’s latest single, “Passionista” hits you from the opening bars. As the chorus first kicks in, the passion really mounts. While the song plots a fight to feel at ease with your sexuality, it also doubles as a love story. As Marianne Holt explained: “Realising I was queer completely consumed me at the time - I couldn’t envisage feeling okay about it. For many people in that situation, the easiest way to cope is to get intoxicated. The song also describes a love story - the name comes from a smoothie my girlfriend and I ordered on our first date in a falafel shop - cliche, I know!” The accompanying video, filmed in London during lockdown, stars Marianne and was made by her girlfriend Scarlet.
Our final stop for new music this week takes us back to the Essex coast and The Trusted, a band who impressed me a while back with its fine single “Criminals”. That song used the imagery of crime alongside the objective of recapturing the singer’s love interest. Before we recall the MIT and engage a posse of AFOs against the OCG – yes, that was a cheap way to reintroduce Line of Duty acronyms - we’ll leave the police work behind and focus on The Trusted’s new single, “Rebel Song”.
“Rebel Song” is blessed with a particularly sparkling chorus and delivered with the energy characteristic of this band. Frontman, Tom Cunningham, turns his lyrical attention this time to the political landscape amid the frustration of lockdowns, inspired by the fight for social justice and making a stand for good in the world. Yet despite its political roots, the song is more about the emotional and psychological aspects of being a rebel: “All I’ve got is my rebel song / And that’s alright with me.” A little belief is all you need to carry you through.
You can access a new Fifty3 Fridays Spotify Playlist each month. With the bleeding obvious rider that they have to be available on Spotify, it features all the songs from each month’s Fifty3 Fridays. The April Playlist with 28 songs in the order they appeared over the past 5 weeks in this column is here.
We all miss Lemmy so let’s raise a glass of Jack & Coke tomorrow. It’s almost 40 years since Motörhead released its seminal live album No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith which is celebrated a month or so early on (yes) The 8th of May. There’s a special playlist of all the ear drum perforating live hits you’d expect from a Motörhead show and all Motörfans from around the globe are invited to turn it up. So, without any further ado… here’s The 8th of May…