Dermot O'Sullivan YYN

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.

Today’s guest is the bassist and sometime guitarist with a Leicester “un-pop” band that were born when trad rock died in the Thatcher-era 80s British indie scene as so superbly documented by The Membranes’ John Robb.

Peel favs Yeah Yeah Noh happily eschewed all formula and splayed between styles like an errant alley cat marking its territory in all the neighbours’ houses. They veered between whip smart socio-politico comment to homespun psychedelia and pre-Primal Screamedelica dance, but always had an ear for a tune.

Their biggest hit was the amazing “Another Side To Mrs. Quill” (listed by MOJO magazine as one of the top 50 greatest British pop songs, no word of a lie, and justifiably so) which recently featured on the expanded re-issue of the cult NME C86 compilation cassette and has been re-worked and re-imagined as a dancefloor filler called “The Second House On The Corner” for their brilliant new album “Automatically Saturday”.

Choosing his “song for ewe”, it’s the lovely gentleman unpop star Yeah Yeah Noh‘s Dermot O’Sullivan!

YYN live

Yeah Yeah Noh live 2015, picture courtesy of Dermot O’Sullivan

2015 truly has seen a return to form for the “Death To Trad Rock” era bands. The Membranes new one “Dark Matter/Dark Energy” will no doubt be featuring highly in loads of end of year reviews, The Nightingales “Mind Over Matter” is amazing and one of my most played this year, but an album that might not get as much airtime but is equally brilliant is “Automatically Saturday”. With skewed hooks like on “In A Loop In Time”, frankly fun but rude rollercoaster of innuendo “Shooting From The Hip” and floorward facing maelstrom of “On The Queen’s Highway”, lead singer and frontman Derek Hammond occupies a space that veers lane to lane from light to shade, driven along by the bass groove of our man Dermot O’Sullivan.

Dermot played guitar in the late 80s incarnation of the band and has been an ever-present since the band properly reformed in 2011. It seemed only apt for Yeah Yeah Noh to appear on the reincarnated Velvet Sheep fanzine since this was a band that was very much wrapped up in the DIY fanzine culture, John Grayland (still in the band) and Sue Dorey the authors of a fanzine named “Printhead” (i can’t write that without singing The Fall song in my head) about the Leicester music scene.

YYN Automatically Saturday front cover

I got in touch with Dermot because I was a big fan of “Mrs Quill” and he was kind enough to send a link to the new album. I loved it so much I bought my own copy, and I recommend you do the same. In the meantime, I suggest you check out an obscure song that Dermot’s been enjoying lately, this is his “song for ewe”…

It’s over to Dermot:

“In the pathetic fallacy of its elegiac descending chords and the tumbling stream-of-consciousness of words which seem to pop into the hobo’s head, just like all our thoughts appear to emerge from nothing into mindfulness, this pop song from 1967 composed by John Hartford, for me, is almost perfect. 

From the grassroots spondees of the wheat fields and the clothes lines and the junkyards and the highways to the gurglin’, cracklin’, rustlin’ backroads epithets, the poetry just gets better and better.  So that this is the finest pop lyric ever written in my opinion.  In a nightmarish foreshadowing of the singer’s medical fate, I give you Glen Campbell and ‘Gentle on my Mind’. x”