Swansea Sound: a band that came into being during lockdown and decided that fast, loud, political indiepop punk was the answer to being stuck indoors. Who needs introspection?
Hue Williams is reunited with Pooh Sticks singing partner Amelia Fletcher (ex- Talulah Gosh, Heavenly). Rob Pursey (also ex-Heavenly) and Ian Button (Wreckless Eric’s live collaborator) provide the noise.
Swansea Sound are the funny, angry, gleeful and savage past, present and future of indie. The band has played just one gig in real life – but there will be more in 2022.
On debut album ‘Live at the Rum Puncheon’, the opening track ‘Rock N Roll Void’ catches you up on the past: a two-minute revision session to make sure you haven’t forgotten The Kinks, The Ramones, and the brief explosion of noise pollution that was C86 pop.
The second track ‘I Sold My Soul on eBay’, also two minutes long, savages the corporate piracy of our digital present, where anyone can earn plenty of ‘likes’, but no-one gets paid any money.
Next, ‘I’m OK When You’re Around’ is a love song to all the people Swansea Sound would like to meet in the future. People they’ve fallen in love with in digital chatrooms: new allies all over the world who are standing up to the digital giants and the shit-stirring racist trolls everyone’s forced to share the internet with.
Track 4: ‘The Pooh Sticks’. Hue pays tribute to his former self in an apparently sincere tribute to one of the great lost indie bands of the 90s. (No one else was going to do it.) We have all become our own archivists these days. We’ve all become our own covers bands...
This album whizzes by very quickly: you’re already near the end of Side One. Four of the tracks have already been released as short-run singles on a variety of formats. ‘Corporate Indie Band’ was cassette-only. ‘I Sold My Soul on eBay’ was a one-off lathe cut 7” single that got auctioned on eBay (with a £400 winning bid). ‘Indies of the World’ was a 7” single/cassette, which briefly hit the UK physical Top Ten chart, before selling out.
Most recently, ‘Swansea Sound’ was released as a limited edition cassette/mini-CD on 1st September. This was the date, exactly one year ago when the much-treasured South Wales radio station, Swansea Sound, was re-branded by its new corporate owners and its old name became available. The song is a requiem for that lost radio station – a DJ describing his final day at work before his show is ‘rationalised’ – but it’s also a wider protest about the culturally stultifying effect of corporatisation.
Some of the songs are reflexive – ‘Swansea Sound’ and ‘The Pooh Sticks’. Others are searching for hope – ‘Let It Happen’, ‘I’m OK When You’re Around’, ‘Pasadena’, ‘Angry Girl’. Whereas ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ is pure pop throwaway fun. The other songs are catchy too, they just happen to express sickness and a contempt for the state of things. ‘Corporate Indie Band’ is about a group who have mortgaged their creativity to a major label and sold their identities to an online marketing team of public schoolboys. Freedom of Speechtakes a look at three contemporary ‘alternative’ music stars and considers how they’ve responded to BLM, the pandemic and the rise of right-wing populism. ‘Like self-serving arseholes’, is the unfortunate answer. (You won’t struggle to work out who the three ‘alternative’ stars are.) Backing vocals are provided by queer indie punk band The Crystal Furs (Portland, Oregon).
Swansea Sound took their name from a radio station, and they even use its abandoned logo. Something modern, acidic, and angry has taken up residence in a familiar, borrowed frame, just as it has in these indiepunk pop songs. You can throw yourself around to Swansea Sound like it’s 1986, but if you catch the lyrics you’ll remember you’re in 2021. Sorry about that.
The Rum Puncheon, a notorious pub in Swansea, closed down decades ago.
The sleeve is designed by Catrin Saran James. Amelia, Roband Ian also perform in The Catenary Wires.
The album is released by –
SKEP WAX (Vinyl, CD, Bandcamp)
LAVENDER SWEEP (Cassette)
In North America, it is released by –
HHBTM (Vinyl, CD)
AUSTIN TOWN HALL (Cassette)
In Indonesia, it is released by –
SHINY HAPPY RECORDS (Cassette)
The album will not be released on streaming sites.