“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a self-effacing indie super connector who famously sardonically sang of knowing “Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well”, Hue Williams of The Pooh Sticks or in common parlance, Hue Pooh (the equivalent of Top Cat’s close friends getting to call him TC).
He has assembled a veritable indie A-team for a new and very exciting meeting of minds and what should realistically become your favourite band, wind the name on your etch-a-sketch and commit it to your grey matter – Swansea Sound. They feature Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey of Talulah Gosh, Heavenly et al, with Amelia having previously featured on Pooh Sticks records, and Ian Button, Wreckless Eric collaborator (and also a member of other Fletcher/Pursey going concern The Catenary Wires).
Swansea Sound’s exhilarating debut album “Live At Rum Puncheon” (on Skep Wax Records natch) much like The Fall’s “Live At Witch Trials” is not live and is in fact about a rough round the edges pub venue who’s doors have been long battened. It’s a short sharp, punk-ish shot from the top shelf, but despite it’s lean running time it’s bulging round the edges with super literate lyrical ideas and socio-political polemic delivered with a levity of touch. It’s a bit early to announce the albums of the year here but nudge nudge wink wink. It’s funny, it’s frantic, it’s memorable and has at least five sure fire singles that are as blasty as the Buzzcocks. They’re nostalgic but never look-back-bores and in terms of the people it’s happy to lampoon (including themselves) and how, it’s very now. Not so much C86 as C21 – 21st century indie pop!
Before we let rip with the latest of those “Rock N Roll Void” and it’s video that recreates an 80s fanzine flicker’s be-postered bedroom, let’s give a very warm welcome to the inestimably entertaining Hue Williams!
Here’s a short track by track precis of an indie rock masterclass…
“Rock N Roll Void” – a high-speed statement of intent, Hue intoning seeing the Ramones at thirteen, hearing the Kinks when he was three and starting a band when he was sixteen “that was the best he had ever been” but I beg to differ, time may have moved onto the point where he barely recognises his young self, and can’t decide if those R&R heroes made him or if it was always in him, but Hue and his merry band are playing into the form of their lives, which is no mean feat given the hugely compelling back cat they collectively have.
“I Sold My Soul On E-Bay” – another case of all killer no filler, it’s a snotty punk blast with a great call-and-response between Hue and Amelia, a nose well and truly thumbed at Daniel Elk and his ilk. Throwing poo(h) at the streams and streamers, but with no need for Feargal Sharkey’s intervention.
“I’m Ok When You’re Around” features another neat call and response only this time where Hue asks Steph from Portland’s The Crystal Furs if once she’s kicked American fascists arses (or I should say asses) whether she could pop over here and sort ours out. Yes please. Rob Pursey picked a Crystal Furs song for a Lucky 7 on this page and it’s nice that the band’s support for other punks on indies of the worlds (see later) manifests on records. There’s definite “Leader of the Pack” vibes in the music too which is never a bad thing.
“The Poohsticks” is as meta as it gets. A tongue in cheek song about Hue’s old charges being basically the best of all indie bands to play the Reading Festival (“they played hot licks”). No word of a lie. And with a brilliantly funny reprise of the aforementioned “know someone that knows someone” except this time about Hue (and sung by him). It’s so meta that it could bring the whole universe to a crashing end and put us out of our miseries.
“Let It Happen” – I love a melancholy indie anthem, and this has the touch of Amelia and Rob’s recent Catenary Wires mournful moments. Those keys just hit me right there like an adrenaline shot to a sharpie marked heart.
“Je Ne Sais Quoi” – not Kylie but another Undertones meets Talulah Gosh blast of dreamy yet sharp tune-age that’s exotic right? can’t quite put my finger on why it’s so brilliant but that’s the point eh.
next up side 2 if you like vinyls. Ha! as if i say vinyls….
“Pasadena” – like when David Gedge talks about the Santa Ana winds, a seemingly anachronistic subject matter but given that this whole Swansea Sound project was born of lockdown and isolation, it’s a dream of further flung fields. Of meeting up and playing live again. Raising a glass if not your glasses.
“Indies Of The World”: there’s no mistaking that this lot are making their contribution, not least by hooking up with labels across the oceans to make sure it’s easier for fans to get their physical stuff – in the best tradition of tape swapping, and compilations of kindred spirits. A call to arms to get DIY and organize – it’s easier than ever if you try. And to make the point this is a band that’s resolutely putting their output on cassette and are no strangers to getting a pencil out to wind the spool up. Includes the call to “Gimme Danger” that’s more indie pop than Iggy Pop but is one of many many easter egg style lyrics in this Faberge of an album.
“Corporate Indie Band” the line to launch a thousand t-shirts. As true now as when these players first made music in the 80s/90s. “All the time we’ve got to write more songs, I’m not sure we’ll keep it up for long” is kind of ironic given how prolific that Fletcher and Pursey are in particular. It’s a killer couplet though delivered with aplomb by Williams and his irresistibly cheeky charm.
“Freedom of Speech” It’s a song that singles out Morrissey and John Lydon for their needy and reprehensible bigotry under the dodgy auspice of yep “Freedom of Speech”, that vanguard of the racist and the right wing. The fact that The Crystal Furs, the aforementioned group of trans women punks are on the BVs adds an delicious extra notch of narkiness to be applauded.
“Angry Girl” – features the phrase “Noise Annoys” and there’s defo a touch of the Buzzcocks all over this awesome album that’s pretty much a “Singles Going Steady” greatest hits collection of a first record.
“Swansea Sound” as sung in English and in Welsh (the latter by Catrin Saran James). One day Swansea Sound will be in that same museum that features in the tune “Poohsticks” and Hue can have the freedom of Velvet Sheep right now if he wants it too.
Here’s a link to the album on Bandcamp. It’s out on 19th November. Please get it.
And without further ado, here’s Hue’s “song for ewe”:
“I’ve always liked late 60s US bubblegum but this is one I only found a couple of years back.
It’s always a hit if put it in a DJ set”
thanks so much to Hue and to Rob and Amelia for putting me in touch…you are awesome.
here’s a link to all of Swansea Sound’s output to date:
and here’s a list of real life gigs:
Album Launch: ROUGH TRADE EAST, LONDON Dec 10.
BRISTOL Feb 4; NEWPORT Le Pub Feb 5; ST LEONARDS The Piper Feb 18; LONDON Hope and Anchor Feb 19th.
MANCHESTER Talleyrand 4th March.
and another video for your entertainment…