IT NEEDS no reiteration that the ‘rona has devastated the working British music scene: no gigs, no festivals, no instores, no nuttin’.
So in a little way, in response to the privations being experienced on the grassroots Leeds scene in particular, that city’s Come Play With Me label is set to release a compilation entitled Come Stay With Me, to help support a baker’s dozen of Leeds bands “as they deal with the delays, cancellations and loss of income caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Tony Ereira, label director, said: “We wanted to find a way to do something that got a little cash back to some of the brilliant contributing musicians that we work with.
“A lot of them are really struggling after dates and/or releases have been rescheduled or just outright cancelled; we’re hoping this can be a really positive thing to launch right now for everyone.
“We’ve asked 13 of our favourite artists to contribute one exclusive track for your listening pleasure; in return we’re going to try to help them in these massively challenging times by returning all profits made to the artists.”
Come Stay With Me, then, sits in a grand and revived tradition of indie compilations. There was the NME Beatles’ covers comp, Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father, in aid of Childline, which managed to get Billy Bragg, The Fall, Sonic Youth and Frank Sidebottom into bed with The Christians and Wet Wet Wet. (Don’t think too hard about that image.)
Alvin Lives in Leeds was a 1990 poll tax benefit, premised on hot indie bands of the time revisiting cheesy 70s’ classics. It was worth the price of admission for Lush’s take on “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep”, Cud’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Robyn Hitchcock’s a capella take on “Kung-Fu Fighting”.
Abstract Records’ They Shall Not Pass, dedicated to the striking miners, got you two of the hotter early Sisters of Mercy cuts – “Body Electric” and “Adrenochrome” – alongside The Redskins, The Mekons … and a five-year-old girl’s take on The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.
And it comes on eco-vinyl. What’s that, you say? Well, all the records will be pressed using leftover ‘biscuit’ – the raw blocks of plasticky dough which vinyl is pressed from. So each copy will be a totally random colour. And that’ll get a few vinyl-porn heads’ eyes a-brightening.
So, let’s dive in for a snapshot of the Leeds scene, 2020.
Out of the blocks, we have TEAM PICTURE, who ply a nice line in squelchy retro-futurist synthpop, all hi-NRG and sweat-misted dancefloors.
The gears shift totally for the ice-cool jazz of JASMINE, a Leeds quintet who rub a little hiphop breaks flava into their rebirth of cool. Reid Miles should be on speed-dial for the artwork for next album.
VAN HOUTEN contribute a demo of their track “Better Than This”. It’s warm and gorgeous, old-skool indie pop. Think The Field Mice; think East Village; ENGLISH TEACHER’s lofi yearn and echo-laden guitar shimmer would get any Talulah Gosh or Sarah band aficionado scrambling for the dancefloor. It’s sweet, it has 60s’ girl band elements, it has slightly tinny guitars. Gorgeous.
DIALECT brings headlong lyrical science delivered at dizzying pace over half-speed cosmic lushness and skeletal electronica beats. You can tell he has a background in battles. Like all the best British hiphop, he lets his accent sing through.
TALL TALKER sit out in the mathrock/prog nexus. Time signatures collapse and guitars run and riff and trill. Think Tortoise meets Soft Machine at legendary Leeds canal boat-on-a-roundabout boozer, The Dry Dock.
DEAD NAKED HIPPIES are out there making anthemic alt.rock with an anthemic, gothy blood in their veins. MAGICK MOUNTAINS’ “The Shitty Beatles” sets out a two-minute manifesto in a proper cage-dancing garagey trashpunk rush; following which DENSE take the controls and get the stoner psych juices flowing, hard.
Out of a loud triptych of tracks, and we fall back with HER TILTED MOONS, crafted, multi-instrumental alt.folk romanticism with one foot on the Brontë moors. This would’ve found a home comfortably on 4AD’s Lonely is An Eyesore compilation. MAYA KELLY’s beautiful, sibilant tones, declamatory enunciation and rainy-day pianos seem to suggest the point where Everything But the Girl and Kate Tempest meet is a thing we need now.
TALKBOY know a sweet indie fizzybomb when they write one; and to usher in the final credits, HOUSEHOLD DOGS are skulking in the same dustbowl ghost towns as The Gun Club and Nick Cave: they know about murder and clapboard churches. They’re a perfect choice for that bloodied denouement.
So, 13 bands, an eclectic set, a real snapshot of the up and coming. You probably won’t like everything. There’ll be tracks that set your heart racing. There’ll be bands you need to explore more, songs that’ll make you go: ooh, actually …
All the musicians involved are worthy of your support. All musicians everywhere are. They bring so much to our lives, they’re out there making it, creating, fusing new forms and articulations of the human experience we engage with and consume and adopt, and which better our lives. Get behind them. Everyone on this compilation is out on the web, on Facebook, Bandcamp.
And while you’re there, a randomly beautiful slice of vinyl should find itself a home on your IKEA units.
The vinyl of Come Stay With Me is due to ship out in mid-July, but you can get involved and pre-order now, by visiting https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/come-stay-with-me