Our favourite new discoveries this week with Hard Of Hearing Firsts.

From gutter-psych-rock in East London to high-octane spoken word from Glasgow, it’s all here.

Words by Karl Johnson

Festivals season isn’t quite over, however the weather no longer feels like summer. Mutations Festival in Brighton is coming up and so is London Jazz Festival, both of which showcase incredible new talent. In fact, it’s less than a week until Halloween. We’re putting on a Hard Of Hearing fancy dress all-dayer and label market at The Victoria in East London, grab a ticket on DICE if you wish to join the party. Until then, we’ve chosen the tracks that’ve caught our ears this week to showcase for you, in the hope that you find a new artist to hold dear. Sink in to the oddball pop of SUEP to the immersive psych-rock of Cardiff newcomers Clwb Fuzz, not to mention The Ringards who take our Firsts cover this week.

The Ringards
‘Moderation Decorum’

If there is one band I could choose to soundtrack the journey into hell itself, it would have to be The Ringards. The East London quintet echo the dark-hearted psych-rock of bands such as Phobophobes or The Birthday Party, shattering all preconceptions of the genre with each new release. Moderation Decorum is anchored by a hypnotic bass groove and charging drums, tension spirals and builds before the track finally meets a tipping point of anxiety, and falls. It’s atmospheric, haunting and drags you through the grit of London’s underbelly, lyrically it lifts up the creaky floorboards of society and is unafraid to peer beneath. The track reflects the cerebral merry-go-round felt by many throughout the pandemic, and acts both as a reflection of that period as well as a sonic evolution for the band.

‘Domesticated Dream’

Welcome to the world of SUEP, who’s debut single Domesticated Dream offers a landscape of infectious grooves, warm keys and sweet vocal melodies laid out over a 70s Yamaha disco beat. The London-based project, containing members of Porridge Radio and UK Top Model, push the idea of avant-garde and eccentric indie pop music to new levels. On their debut single SUEP float with playful energy, vocal melodies soar and the track’s subtle hooks start to get under your skin. The band each take turns to pen their own songs and sing lead vocals, a collective songwriting spirit which can only make for an exciting new project. Domesticated Dream hints at being unable to keep up with a tiresome capitalist society and yearning for somewhere and someone to settle down with.

‘Shelf Life’

For those that adore the dance-rock/ electro-rock scene that shattered hearts from the mid-Noughties onwards, and there are a lot of us, you may find a lot to love here. Shelf Life has a lot in common with early 80s post-disco but really hangs its hat alongside the likes of São Paulo outfit CSS in its playful nature, and Crystal Castles or Peaches with its glitchy, Windows 98-feel fizzing electro. On the South London duo’s debut single they make their point clear within two minutes, it’s music to lose yourself to and will surely be most at home in the live setting. The duo of vocalist Sabrina and guitarist and producer Jonny meld beauty and chaos, and this is just the beginning.

Clwb Fuzz
‘God (Let You Lose)’

Cardiff newcomers Clwb Fuzz want to take you on a journey, a wash of fuzz and guitars that whip up a storm of sweat-inducing psychedelic rock akin to the likes of Texan psych-mainstays The Black Angels. The band cite stories of corruption, politics and the misuse of money as their main lyrical influence for God (Let You Lose), which was penned in 2018. The track builds into a wall of noise, drums crash down like waves and vocals spill over into the wash and soak you through, like a veil of lies being lifted, a reset after brainwashing. The slow-burning, marching instrumental builds are contrasted by explosive choruses and lyrics that echo a public feeling of disillusionment.

Stephen Durkan
‘I Want’

Confusion and contradiction are at the core of the lyricism on Glasgow poet Stephen Durkan’s debut single. I Want is a high-octane spoken word track that wraps around your soul, overwhelming at every turn with breathless vocals and a deep bass fuzz that never gives up. More intimately, the track represents a modern day brain in its natural overdrive and overstimulated state. While our lips are still, our eyes and brain are often working overtime taking in everything we see through our screens, social media and everyday advertising. Instrumentally the track is bound by relentless drumming, wonky synthesizers and warped samples, it builds into a tornado of signals and fuzz before imploding on itself, leaving us with the silence we require, but can’t stand.