Yorkshire Music: New Releases for Birthday Girl, Liam Sullivan, Elephant Trees, newfamiliar, Cliché Cult, The Harriets
By Matt Callard
Leeds musicians are firing out new releases as we emerge from Lockdown.
Stockholm-based, but with Leeds connections, Birthday Girl have released swoony new single ‘Dizzy’. Recalling the hallucinogenic adventures of Spacemen 3 to Tame Impala to Pink Floyd, it’s a dose of highly medicated post-rock with trippy, transient side effects and woozy temporal shifts.
On top of this, the band have also released a fascinating mini-documentary showcasing what it was like to be a touring group during lockdown. Navigating quarantine restrictions and border closures, the film shows how the band tried to outpace the lethal second wave of the coronavirus that was sweeping across Europe last Autumn. Against the odds Birthday Girl completed a 20 date international tour in the most prohibitive of circumstances.
Aptly titled, ‘Band On The Run’, songwriter Fran Baxter says: “We played 20 shows in the end but we had the same amount of shows cancelled. Even days before leaving we thought it wasn’t happening so didn’t even pack until the morning of leaving. But once it started it was really smooth for the first three weeks and just felt like any other tour. Towards the end the second wave began to kick in and the last week of shows became impossible and it would have been irresponsible to continue, so we had to cut it short. We had to do a lot of tests and try to just quarantine in the van and at the venue, which wasn’t hard because the crowd usually just came in at stage time and left immediately after, also they were all seated, bar one. Some of the venues have closed permanently since the tour which is a shame.”
Another Leeds musician, Liam Sullivan has delivered a plaintive new single. ‘Be Kind’ has a darker and more haunting sound than Liam’s most recent offerings. The imagery and lyricism we have come to expect from Liam are more prevalent than ever as he uses the stark contrast of bleak cityscapes and vast natural landscapes to highlight a journey from dark to light.
Liam says: “You may consider that it’s somewhat over the top for me to describe this as an anthem for these times. I don’t. There is a beauty in the way that the simplicity and power of the words, the way the vocals and music combine together, remind us that this will end and things will be better.”
After being nominated for Glastonbury Emerging Talent and Record Store Day Unsigned in 2019, The Harriets debut album Hopefuls was buoyed by a 4-star review in Rolling Stone.
New release ‘A Little Something’ collects five radically different songs in one concise package. It builds on the existing sound of singles ‘Little Something’ and ‘Days Like These’ and points toward an exciting new songwriting direction for the band. Expect a renewed focus on arrangement and lush chamber pop orchestration, while retaining the band’s characteristic two-part vocal harmonies.
Now Manchester-based, but from Leeds, Elephant Trees are demonstrating the fruits of four years musical labour. New single ‘Day 42’ is an ode to the repetitive nature of lockdown life and the various mental health struggles that come with it.
Vocalist Martha says: “Day 42 was definitely inspired by the magical year that was 2020! Lyrically, it just sets the tone of where my mental health was at, pretty bleak. I wrote the song in April 2020 and everyday just felt like it was on repeat. The writing/production process was actually really interesting, as I spent most of lockdown working on my production skills and this was one of the first songs I produced by myself. A lot of the sounds are from around my flat – tapping on a glass bottle, water from a tap – that kind of thing. Just anything I could get my hands on. I then sent the basis of the track to Sam and Tom and we worked on it over zoom together. They both invested in a few mics and we all recorded our parts at home. We then sent the project to our good pal Lotte of Luna Pines who’s production we love. She added a few textures and mixed the track for us. I’m really happy with the sound as it captures a period of time for me”
Ringing layers of guitars create a euphoric atmosphere in ‘Someone Like You’. The band’s forthcoming debut LP is already looking like a must-buy.
The accompanying video was shot in Thailand, with the band commenting: “The visual storyline complements and doubles down on the sentiment of the song. It shows a young woman going through loss, and how in our darkest moments when we feel most alone, the people closest to us are still there.”
Yorkshire musicians, keep us up to date with your new releases: email [email protected]