HEMI HEMINGWAY: The Lonely Hunter EP.

19 06 2021

There’ve been some remarkable records released this year so far, and one in particular that stands out is the debut EP by Shaun Blackwell aka Hemi Hemingway. It’s a gorgeous and romantic EP, and it explores every emotion possible in the most open way possible. If you’re looking for a record that will break your heart, comfort you and just leave you in awe; then The Lonely Hunter is for you.

The record opens with the euphoric Burnin’ Blue. It’s a sad one, but one to really love. You get a 60s Wall of Sound feel from this record, and Burnin’ Blue captures it so well. It is such a strong way to open the record with. These six songs are just a pleasure to listen to, and you cannot help but get lost in Shaun’s voice.

If you’ve heard Shaun’s previous projects such as Night Shades, then you’ll just be stunned by his change in style. His vocals as part of Night Shades gives you a feel of The Cramps but his new project is something else. He just combines everything I love about music, and makes something you’ve never heard before.

I love the sadness in It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye. It reminds me of a cross between Ezra Furman and Shannon and The Clams. Then you get right into the titled track, and you cannot help but gently sway your body side to side in time with this precious love song. I adore the way Shaun shares his influences on this record, but also makes it so current and so relatable. It’s a different side to him, but the same passion. It is just such a joy to listen to and to just soak up these hypnotic sounds that will become part of you. The titled track is just a heartbreaking one, and the pining in Shaun’s voice is remarkable. There’s a desperation there, but not in a way that makes you shy away from it. If anything, it just makes you relate to it even more. It is a perfect record.

Hemi’s Lament has a touch of Leonard Cohen on it, but what I love about this record is that you could easily think you’ve found a record from decades ago. It does feel current but at the same time it feels like you’ve been thrown way back in time. It is such a poetic and vulnerable record. I love the way Shaun has explored what influences him and has also experimented so much on this record. In just six songs, he has made something that stands out. It is such a pure record and it’s one that you feel you’ll keep going back to. For me, it’s the kind of record you have playing in the background as you sit in your favourite chair whilst nursing as cup of tea or a whiskey. It’s got something about it that would sound perfect in a film. You know the film Lucky that starred the great Harry Dean Stanton? This record would have been perfect for it. Shaun could easily soundtrack a film, and this record justifies this perfectly.

Move Over Darling reminds me a tiny bit of Johnny Tillotson (if you don’t know who he was, you are missing out. Underrated- severely!) There’s a gentle nod to the late 50s/early 60s on this record, and it is done in such a careful but divine way. I think it is just one of the most beautiful records to have come out this year. My Lover, A Strange Her closes the EP and it is such a wonderful, wonderful song. For me it really shows us just how great Shaun is as a writer. He writes poetry that comes from the soul. Aside from the sax on the record, Shaun plays everything on The Lonely Hunter. His all has gone into this record and all it entails. It is a masterpiece, there’s no denying that.

Shaun explores his emotions and general human curiosities on this record, and he does it in a way that makes you feel he’s gone into your head and let your secrets out. If I could force the world to listen to this record, I bloody well would.

Tonight, Shaun will be treating the Shacklewell Arms (best venue in London) to the sounds of Hemi Hemingway and supporting him will be the exceptional Big Dipper. A dream line-up! The show is sold out, but hopefully these two rascals will take this show around the country soon!

The Lonely Hunter is out now via PNKSLM Recordings (and also Rough Trade.)





NIGHT SHADES: Dead Nerves/The Desert.

16 07 2019

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Today I woke up to see that Night Shades had announced a new release, and I knew I was going to have a good day (I also had the day off work so that’s a plus *note- I love my job, but I do like to sleep!) Night Shades are making the kind of music I’d love to make if I was in a band. They are creepy and wild; they are just a phenomenal band that I cannot get enough of, and knowing that there’s a new release coming real soon is just great.

I’m going to give you a little breakdown into the songs- there’s only three so hopefully you’ll stick with this. It’ll be worth it, trust me.

DEAD NERVES: The first track on the record, and as Shaun counts in the band you get a sense of just how intense this song is going to be. He has SUCH a distinctive voice, and it’s the kind of voice you want to hear when you need music to just get your heart beating a little faster. The urgency on this song is exceptional, and I think for me, a large part of this is Niall’s drumming. Niall is a great drummer, and he brings this urgency to Night Shades that is backed up by Clare, Shaun and Vince on this song in particular. I guess you could sum it all up quite easily by saying Night Shades consist of some of the best musicians around. There is this bite to Dead Nerves that makes you feel like you’re the toughest person around. I love music that gives you this energy, and Dead Nerves definitely gives that feeling. It’s a real rowdy song that feels like a bar fight. If you’ve never listened to Night Shades before, this has got to be the one that wins you over.

KATIPO: To soothe your bones a little bit, Katipo is a beautiful instrumental moment on the record. Sure I love their loud and rowdy songs, but this instrumental is so gorgeous. It is delicate in some parts, but it picks up. The song twists and turns, and takes you on this trip. You stay on edge as you listen to it. One thing I adore about Night Shades is their effortless way to keep you on edge. As someone who has anxiety and can have a panic attack when I least expect it/probably at inappropriate times, Night Shades give you this positive anxiety- you’re on edge from excitement with their music. You know something is going to happen, and the butterflies are brewing in your belly- it kicks in, and all these euphoric moments occur. That’s, for me, one of the best ways I can sum up Night Shades and although there are no vocals on Katipo, it perfectly sums that feeling on edge feeling.

 

 

The Desert:  Hello song of the year! Clare and Shaun’s vocals on this are insane. Everything about this song oozes a real creepy feel and I love it. It’s like hearing The Cramps for the first time. The first time I ever heard The Cramps, it changed my life forever and I was in awe of every tiny detail. Night Shades give you that same feeling. You’re hearing something really incredible, and it just moves you in a range of ways. The way they deliver the urgency on The Desert is ridiculous, and it’s the kind of song that you know is going to be magical when they do it live. It’s a song that just makes you fall in love with them all over again. We had the instrumental in the middle, and we are smacked right in the face with The Desert. Although it ends on this song, it just makes you play it all over again. But, you’re going to have to wait until 26th July to do this.

This 3-track record was recorded live, and I think that adds some romanticism to it. The songs are perfect, loud, tender and raw. They will make you move and by no means will they make you want to rest. Night Shades make the kind of music that would fit perfectly in a eerie horror film, or a thriller. Something that messes with your head, for sure.

The launch party for the record will of course be held at The Shacklewell Arms on the 26th July. There’s no other venue that can do their sound justice nor can any other venue sum up the feel of the band. You can pre-order the record on their bandcamp page here. It’s going to be on hot pink vinyl, and will be released via El Beasto Records.

Buy it, play it loud and feel like the toughest motherfucker around.





NIGHT SHADES: Evil Dreams.

14 11 2017

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Some bands take a while to reach peak greatness. Others just do it immediately. Night Shades are one of those bands who have done it instantly. London’s finest band. A band that sound like they have creeped out from the underworld and have come to take our souls and gnaw at our eardrums. They possess the wonderful manic tones of The Cramps, which for me is just absolutely brilliant.

Last month they put out the remarkable Evil Dreams. It is one of the best things you will hear all year. It will make you forget all the things “critics” have told you to enjoy earlier in the year. Anything you have heard before this may well be ignored. Anything you hear after it just won’t measure up. They make every day feel like a ghoulish holiday. Darker than Halloween. Sinister, eerie and nothing short of hypnotising. For me, they are probably my favourite band in London right now.

Evil Dreams lives up to its title. It has this gloriously evil and twisted feel to it. You feel like you are in a Jack The Ripper biopic. You feel like you are in an Edgar Allen Poe poem- you feel like you are living out historical horrors. You are totally immersed in their wonderful sound. Niall makes the drums sound like gentle crashes against the soul. Clare and Shaun’s vocals are chilling. You feel a cloak of mist fall down as you listen to Golden Hair which then goes into the glorious Cara Mia which shows just how ethereal Clare’s voice is. Their songs are like haunting lullabies. Every single part of you just falls madly in love with each song on this mind-blowing body of work. It feels like you have waited decades and decades to hear something as truly brilliant as this. I am super annoyed I missed the launch of Evil Dreams. Now I just play it constantly and create my own world in my head.

As the days are getting shorter, this is the perfect record to listen to as you make your way home from work as it gets dark. You feel like you’re walking through the underbelly of evilness and possibly moonlighting as Columbo in your head. Stalking the streets to seek out evil. Maybe you’ll stomp it out, maybe you’ll be part of it. Whatever sordid tale you wish to conjure up and be part of, Night Shades have fitting songs on Evil Dreams for you to take part in.

It is easy to get caught up in something when you play it just once, then after a few listens you partially regret how you were so quick to declare something as being great. Night Shades do not make you feel that way. Evil Dreams is something you play and instantly realise you have found something nothing short of perfect, and will undoubtedly be something you keep playing in years to come. Evil Dreams has songs that remind me of hearing The Mummies and The Cramps for the first time. It’s been a while since I felt that, and Night Shades make the waiting worthwhile.

If you’re looking for something to scare you a little bit or if you’re in need of something to give you the creeps to reassure you that you’re still alive- Night Shades are the band for you. Easily. They create this amazing atmosphere on their record that makes you feel as if they are right there in front of you, extending their hand out to yours in order to grab you into this world they have created. Take their hand, don’t let go and allow yourself to delve deep, deep into this charming and creepy world they have created.