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The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: August

Gumshoe – ‘Time I Spent I'll Never Get Back’

After his various collaborative projects had reached their natural end, songwriter Philip Hampson decided to take up the daunting mantle of going it alone. Looking to his record collection, Philip took inspiration for his writings from an array of artists, new and old: Lou Reed, Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem, along with healthy lashings of new wave and post-punk. There was some considerable time spent scribbling and recording in his home studio, and then there was Gumshoe.

Gumshoe has an impressively distinctive direction for such a shiny new undertaking. 'Time I Spent I'll Never Get Back' is smooth, multi-textured and cinematic; rooted in post-punk and indie influences but not quite adhering to their characteristics. This gifts the song with a dance hall in which to soirée along sophisticatedly, allowing room for some experimentation.

The way that Philip uses this freedom to explore multiple instruments is measured and impactful. The introduction of a bluesy guitar riff a minute or so into the song is especially jolting. For all its effectiveness, there is an underlying sense that this element shouldn't fit with the carefully applied aesthetic. Thankfully, its creator saw past any initial doubts:

"I was in a bit of a writing rut at the time... I remember writing the riff part that comes in about half-way late in the studio one night. I wasn't feeling it, in fact, I almost binned it. Luckily something possessed me to save and when I went back to the studio the next day I loaded up the session and had the song about 90% finished in a few hours."

There will be more Gumshoe to enjoy over the coming months. We're promised songs and visuals, but the hardest part of the process for Phil is knowing when to show us the fruits of his labour, "There's a load that I'm dying to release but it's just knowing when to put the stake in the ground and say, 'that's done'."

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Memes – ‘Happy Shopper’

Cousins John and Paul McLinden formed Memes earlier in the year and have since hurtled forward in true DIY fashion. With John on vocal/guitar duties and Paul on bass, their live line-up is completed by the most reliable (and portable) drummer that they had access to, "The drums just involve pressing play, so whoever is closest to the laptop plays drums... Whether they're in the band or not!" The lack of a flesh & bones drummer certainly doesn't make their live sound any less hard-hitting, as their recent live session for BBC Music Introducing illustrates.

Like post-punk pied pipers, they're already gathering an admirable following of radio DJs; Steve Lamacq, Vic Galloway, Charlie Ashcroft and Billy Sloan are amongst the first to put their weight behind the instantly likeable Glaswegians.

'Happy Shopper' is their debut single and a distillation of the Memes modus operandi. Recorded in a Glasgow loft, John describes the track as, quite simply, "Born out of a few experiences from local supermarket outings..." It does, however, impose a strong message on those outings with an unpretentious poeticism. Foot tapping in the verse and head banging in the chorus, Happy Shopper takes a sideways look at modern life with treasure trove of anthemic, quotable lyrics, topped off by the expertly sarcastic chorus, "Go Tweet me. No thank you / Insta Me. No thank you." Their first outing demonstrates a rare propensity to ask interesting questions without being self-righteous.

Having supported the likes of Nile Marr and Imperial Wax earlier in the year, Memes are more than worth catching live. They're at PCL Presents' Indian Summer Sessions in Glasgow on 31st August and are booked to play Hiip Priest's Dear Green Fèis in October. They'll most likely be booking more shows in the meantime too, so keep 'em peeled.

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doops – ‘The Lost’

doops have been transmitting "hard beats and space riffs" out of Berkshire since 2017. Like any self-aware set of musicians, they wince a little when asked to describe their sound, but vocalist, guitarist and synth tinkerer, Andrew Bingham, quite accurately places them as, "Sonically straddling a line between shoegaze and psych punk." They've had a fruitful few years of picking up radio airplay, festival slots, opening for touring bands and even an invite to record a session at Abbey Road Studios (complete with Bon Jovi walk past).

For all their hard work and progress, doops encountered a bit of an unfortunate setback in June. After having a bunch of equipment stolen from the car of their bassist, Luke, they're having to take a bit of time to regroup before getting back out on the road. This sad news might be slowing down any current doops activity but, luckily, we've got a lovely new single from them to enjoy in the meantime.

Recorded at Reading's Silver Street Studios, 'The Lost' succeeds in capturing the drifting, lack of purpose that can be experienced by 20 somethings. This mid-twenties uncertainty is a terrain that the band are currently traversing and, as Andrew concedes, "The pressure associated with being relevant can sometimes be overwhelming". This concept is communicated through shifting textures and dynamics; culminating in an irresistibly intense aimlessness. doops play within the expanses of their arrangements, somehow creating the perception of claustrophobia within a spacious, sprawling soundscape.

The trio's shared interest of sci-fi also plays a part in their songwriting and combines with The Lost's other themes like an, "asteroid hurtling through space on an unknown course."

Whilst they attempt to recover or replace Luke's missing gear, some of which appears to have found its way onto eBay (go check out their Facebook to see if you can help), doops have got some time to prepare for their next release. The tracks from the Abbey Road sessions are good to go, so they're scoping out management and label options as they plot the next coordinates on their mid-twenties, outer space travels.

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Erin Bloomer – ‘Lately’

Erin Bloomer's yet to finish her A-Levels (man, I'm old) but her music is delivered with a poise well beyond her 17 years. Such conviction is understandable against a backdrop of over 1 million Spotify streams from her debut release, "Right Love, Wrong Time", multiple plays on BBC stations and Amazing Radio, along with a recent Wonderland feature.

With a new single out and an EP on the way, we've got Erin earmarked as one to watch in the final third of 2019. Her latest effort, 'Lately', is a colourful, pop-tinted, R&B gem. Written for a friend, Erin hopes that she can impart a bit of wisdom in a down-to-earth manner:

"It’s about just wanting to not take everything too seriously and just enjoy yourself. I wrote it because I wanted to help my friend realise that it’s okay to not want to dive into something serious so quickly, you are allowed to take things at your own pace and in your own time."

The conversational tone of the lyrics riff on this message on top of trap influenced beats and tight production. It is well-crafted R&B that doesn't take itself too seriously; the sliding bass and earworm chorus adding to the sense of fun. Erin is vibing on the 90s in Lately's vaporwave video, which is well worth a watch.

Erin's back in the studio over the summer as she prepares for the release of her next single and upcoming EP. She also has some live sessions on the horizon. After that, there is the small matter of her A-Levels to contend with but we're expecting big things once she's smashed her exams. No pressure, Erin.

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The C33s – ‘Big Winner’

We've caught The C33s at an exciting junction in their short existence. Less than a year after their conception, the Mancunian 3-piece have been picked up by X-Ray Touring and are now able to enjoy the creative freedom that comes with such an achievement. Guitarist/vocalist, Cav Green, explains its significance:

"We've all slogged it for years playing music in past projects, so to be relieved of the pressure [of gig booking/admin] within our first year is incredible for us. Also, the roster is unbelievable! We feel very honoured to be a part of that."

These years of slogging have undoubtedly played a part in widening the palette from which The C33s now paint. The Cramps, Dead Kennedys and The Fall have all played a tangible part in their design but they also credit less obvious influences: Jacques Dutronc, Les Goths and Link Wray. Equally, they have the confidence to stray from their idols when necessary. Cav humbly admits that they're yet to fully figure out their sound, but that is a process that they are clearly enjoying. The excitement of their exploration is audible.

The C33s are akin to the Red Bull of modern guitar music and they blister through 'Big Winner' with a typical intensity. Drummer Judy Jones' relentless rhythms pave the way for a gut-punching piece of punk. The band owes a lot to Magic Garden Studios' Gavin Monoghan, who they dub as a "wizard producer". Gavin and mix engineer, Joseph Murray, have succeeded in bottling all of this energy without spilling a drop.

With such an arresting immediacy, it is unsurprising to find out that the song fell into place quickly. Cav cobbled together the chord structure and lyrics 20 minutes before a rehearsal, and the rest of the band's efforts followed suit:

"Within 10 minutes of them having the song, Ste [bassist, Stephen Phillips] had rooted it to the ground with that brutal bass line and Judy had kicked it into freak gear with that drum beat. It sounds like a panicking, palpitating heartbeat, spewing out its last bits of blood — giving it that edge of knife feeling."

The C33s head out on tour with Glasgow slacker pop innovators, Catholic Action, in October, punctuated by a headline show in Manchester (Night People - 19th October). If Big Winner has tickled your punk taste buds, they'll be serving up two further singles for you to chow down on before the year's end.

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