The Shop Window: The State Of Being Human – album review

The Shop Window: The State Of Being Human (Spinout Nuggets) Vinyl | CD | DL and Streaming Released 25th June The Shop Window release their debut album, The State of Being Human on June 25th via Spinout Nuggets. Let me just start by saying, there’s nothing better than an album, which after the first play, […] The post The Shop Window: The State Of Being Human – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

The Shop Window: The State Of Being Human – album review

The Shop Window: The State Of Being Human

(Spinout Nuggets)

Vinyl | CD | DL and Streaming

Released 25th June

The Shop Window release their debut album, The State of Being Human on June 25th via Spinout Nuggets.

Let me just start by saying, there’s nothing better than an album, which after the first play, you want to listen to it all again… immediately. If I were to give you an elevator pitch for The State of Being Human it would be: ‘Imagine it being released on Sarah Records but licensed from Creation. The perfect Indie Pop album with expertly crafted songs, lush harmonies and featuring a variety of classic pop elements from the 60’s to the present day’.

The Maidstone based Indie / Jangly guitar quartet are fronted by Carl Mann and Simon ‘Syd’ Oxlee. They were briefly in the band Westpier signed to Indolent Records, home of Sleeper, 60ft Dolls and Stephen Duffy in the ’90s before parting company. The Shop Window came together a few years ago when Carl returned to Kent and was joined by old friends Phil Elphee on drums and Martin Corder on bass and backing vocals. (You may ask where Carl had been in the intervening years, but we’ll come to that shortly). The lineup was completed when Syd joined them on vocals and keys.

The bands first releases come out via digital platforms in 2020. Early singles Mannequin Lies and Sad Eyes are included here, as well as Out of Reach and Evacuate which were granted a physical vinyl release a couple of months ago.

The State of Being Human is a solid piece of work from start to finish which will resonate with fans of proper crafted songs, especially Indie Kids from the ’80s and ’90s, in the same way that the latest from The Catenary Wires, Birling Gap has.

Rather than me waffle, offering my thoughts and opinions about The Shop Window, I thought it may be more insightful to hear from Carl and Syd themselves.

LTW: Firstly congratulations on the album. It’s very rich and, if it’s not too much of a dirty word, polished.

Carl: Thank you.

LTW: Who produced the album?

Carl: It was produced and mixed by Callum Rafferty.  It was kind of a co-production to a certain extent. The demos were very complete before we went in to record the tracks for real with Callum at his studio in Kent. I sat with him throughout steering the ship as we went.

Not to take anything away from him though as he added a lot, and definitely brought a lot to the table in terms of freshness and a contemporary element to our old school vibes.

LTW: How did The Shop Window come together?

Carl: I had moved back to the UK from a period living in New Zealand and got the itch to make some noise again. Martin (Bass) and Phil (drums) agreed to get in a room with me and blast out the cobwebs. We bashed around and jammed bits of some demos I had knocking about, the first finished song was Mannequin Lies. We soon had 6 songs and booked some recording time to see how it all sounded. It was great but there was still a missing ingredient for me; I asked my old mate Syd from Westpier (Keys/Vocals) if he wanted to come and stick some harmonies down on the tracks. It all fell into place there and then and sounded complete. So, here we are.

Syd: Carl handed me a CD with 6 songs. As soon as I heard them I knew they were something special and jumped at the chance to get involved. Two weeks later I was in the studio!

LTW: I’ve listened to the album a few times and there are so many classic pop elements from Martha and The Muffins to the Stone Roses and  Ride to Teenage Fanclub. Are you all music obsessives?

Carl: Yes, most definitely! We all have slightly different tastes but it all comes together with certain bands. Very happy that you picked up on the influence of the above-mentioned bands. Certainly, The Stone Roses, Ride and Teenage Fanclub have been staples in my life for as long as I can remember. I listen to music for at least 2 hours everyday and probably buy way too much vinyl every month but don’t tell my wife. I love discovering old and new bands.

Syd: Yeah, I think music shaped me completely – certainly from the age of 16 when I discovered THE THE and The Cure. I’d always wanted to be in my favourite bands.

LTW: Who are your biggest influences?

Carl: The bands already mentioned are for sure plus a lot of 80’s and early 90’s indie. Creation Records musical output has always been a big part of my life too. I would add The Smiths/Blur and Sparklehorse to that list as well. We’re fortunate to live in a time where so much music has come before us, so many great songs to draw influence from across genres. Personally, I love anything with great harmonies and jangly guitar melodies, so it could be from any decade really. The ’50s right up to now.

Syd: Yep, right up there with what Carl said. For me THE THE in particular. I’ve always thought Matt Johnson was a genius and it was listening to Soul Mining and Infected that inspired me to start writing words down which then led to me getting into bands. Carl and I were also massive Blur fans and we really bonded back in the early 90s over the Modern Life album.  But, influences are everywhere in my world.

LTW: How did signing to Spinout Nuggets come about? Why were these the best fit for you?

Carl: We don’t have a record deal as such with Spinout Nuggets, as in a signed contract, it’s more a gentleman’s handshake and a mutual love and respect for all things music. They facilitate the physical release side of things and both parties work on promotion. When we finished our album I had a list of small indie labels I wanted to send to, Spinout Nuggets were top of that list because I loved the music they were releasing and the DIY ethic, non-corporate feel about it all. I actually didn’t send the album to anyone else, we heard back from Lee at the label almost straight away and so it was.

They remind me massively of the early Creation Records days from the mid to late ’80s when they were churning out fantastic release after fantastic release. …and they don’t feel the need to tell us how to do our job like many labels would want to do. We’re left to get on with it and create our own path and identity. Lee jumps in to help with things when we ask though. He put the track order together for the album, it was great having his perspective on it. He DJs a lot at Mod events and festivals and ordered the songs as if he was doing a set. It flows really well.

LTW: A couple of you were in Westpier and signed to Indolent Records in the mid 90’s. Were you the ‘great lost Britpop band’?

Carl: Haha! Maybe, maybe not. That was a chaotic time! We were a bit darker than the Britpop bunch so didn’t really fit that mould so well but we enjoyed being around it all while it was happening. Unfortunately the band imploded before we really got going, only one release came out of it all.

Syd: West who!? Yeah, The Shop Window is miles beyond where Westpier crash landed!

LTW: I can’t speak to you without asking about Kylie. Was touring and writing with her a dream or ‘just another job’?

Carl: Well, it certainly felt like a dream at times but I viewed it as a job. I turned it down at first but my flat mate told me to go for it, as it was not long after Westpier split up and I was a bit down in the dumps. It perked me up though so she was right!! I have fantastic memories from those two years. Touring Australia was just the best time ever. Sitting on the grass in the sun, by a lake at Real World Studios, an acoustic guitar, notepad and pen writing a song with Minogue, that is a great memory. The song ended up on a B-Side to a single (On A Night Like This). It was too Mazzy Star to make it on to the pop album about to be released. It’s called Ocean Blue, easy to find on YouTube if you want to check it out. I’m proud of that tune.

Syd – Jammy git!

LTW: Do you still send each other Christmas Cards or exchange witty memes on WhatsApp?

Carl: Unfortunately not in touch any more, life moves on etc. I still speak to her producer and MD occasionally.

LTW: Are you looking forward to doing live gigs? I see you’re touring next year with Crimson Bloom and Jay Tennant?

Carl: Yes, Can’t wait to get out there doing some gigs. We’ve been waiting a long time. The gig in Manchester with Crimson Bloom and Jay Tennant is going to be great. We’re also really looking forward to supporting Thousand Yard Stare in November (London Islington 02) at their belated album launch party.

Syd: Yes, writing and recording is great and we’ve really had time to craft the songs due to the bizarre nature of the last 12 or so months, but nothing beats the adrenalin of being on stage.

LTW: What are your hopes for The Shop Window?

Carl: I hope for us to make many great albums that will stand the test of time and people will listen to for years to come. If we make any money from doing this (enough to eat and pay the bills) that would be a massive bonus. Most important of all is that we enjoy the journey and give it everything we have got. I hope the debut album gives people some joy and puts a smile on faces like music has done for us.

Syd: Couldn’t have put it better myself!

LTW: Sadly we’re all still locked down to a degree. Are you planning to do anything to mark the release of the album?

Carl: There will definitely be Zoom beers amongst the lads on the day. We’re doing the #i40Social for Everythingindieover40 on Saturday July 10th where we’ll all do a DJ set plus playback of the album. I’ll be commenting along about each song from the album as it plays. I think that’s as close to what we’ll get for a launch party in the current circumstances.

LTW: As a seasoned musician, what would your advice be to any youngsters just starting out in bands?

Carl: Learn to trust and follow your gut instincts, they’re nearly always right even if it goes against what you really want at the time. Don’t release every recording you make, give it time to digest and be your biggest critic. Be very patient, sometimes less is more… Let the leader lead. Too many cooks spoil the broth. It works best when someone is steering the ship. Finding balance between band members is key to getting things done so choose who you’re in a band with wisely.

If anything at all niggles you in a recording, it’s not finished so fix it!! Put your time and effort into getting great recordings first. Recordings last forever, a gig lasts until you do another one. Most important of all is, enjoy what you’re doing now and stop thinking about where you’re heading. The journey is where all the fun is had, not the destination.

LTW: Easiest question last, what would be your Top 5 tracks of all time?

Carl: Not easy at all… this list would change on a daily basis… it’s impossible!! But for today…

Ride – Leave Them All Behind
The Action – I’ll Keep On Holding On
Sparklehorse – Happy Man
Beach Boys – God Only Knows
The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection

Syd: Blimey. Err….

The The – The Sinking Feeling
The Cure – Just like Heaven
Human League – Love Action
House of Love – Crush Me
XTC – Senses working overtime

For more on The Shop Window visit Bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram and .


All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

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Taylor Swift’s ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ Has 30 Songs: Our Track List Predictions

Billboard predicts what might be on Taylor Swift's 30-track, re-recorded 'Red.'

Taylor Swift’s ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ Has 30 Songs: Our Track List Predictions

Taylor Swift promised that with the release of Red (Taylor’s Version) — her upcoming re-recorded Red album, due out on Nov. 19 — “this will be the first time you hear all 30 songs that were meant to go on Red.”

The original Red album, which arrived in 2012, was already packed with 16 tracks, plus some extras on a deluxe edition release. Still, that leaves quite a few blank spaces on the 30-spot Red (Taylor’s Version) track list.

Below, Billboard makes some predictions about what fans might be able to expect from Swift’s re-recorded Red.

The Original 16 Songs of ‘Red’

This part of the list is a given, but just to jog your memory, here are the 16 songs that appeared on the standard version of Swift’s Red album in 2012: “State of Grace,” “Red,” “Treacherous,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “All Too Well,” “22,” “I Almost Do,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Stay Stay Stay,” “The Last Time” feat. Gary Lightbody, “Holy Ground,” “Sad Beautiful Tragic,” “The Lucky One,” “Everything Has Changed” feat. Ed Sheeran, “Starlight” and “Begin Again.”

The Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks

A few more obvious choices for the Red (Taylor’s Version) track list are “The Moment I Knew” (“about the worst party I ever had … My boyfriend decided not to show up, and we broke up,” Swift has said), “Come Back… Be Here” and “Girl at Home,” a trio of tunes that were not on the standard release of Red in 2012, but added to the deluxe edition.

The deluxe edition of Red also had demo recordings of “Treacherous” and “Red,” as well as an acoustic take of “State of Grace.” “State of Grace” acoustic could very well be re-recorded for Red (Taylor’s Version), if this release follows the same formula of Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which included the piano take of album track “Forever & Always.”

The Uncensored, 10-Minute Take of ‘All Too Well’

As Billboard theorized earlier, a 10-minute version of “All Too Well” could very well be on Red (Taylor’s Version), in addition to the more standard album-length cut of the song.

Swift possibly gave a nod to the fan-favorite when she revealed that one of the 30 tracks on the re-recorded Red “is even ten minutes long.”

You can see all the reasons we think that 10-minute track is likely “All Too Well” here, but to summarize: Thanks to tidbits Swift and co-writer Liz Rose have told over the years, it’s widely known among Swifties that there once was a 10-minute “All Too Well” that was whittled down to a run time of about five-and-a-half minutes for the original Red album.

“It had probably seven extra verses and it included the F-word,” Swift recalled.

‘Nothin New,’ Inspired by Joni Mitchell & Getting Older

When Swift released Lover in 2019, she included booklets featuring personal, handwritten old journal entries with the deluxe editions of the album. One journal entry detailed her experience writing a song that mentioned her being 22 years old, which would be around the age she was while writing for Red.

“I wrote a song on the plane ride from Sydney to Perth on the Appalachian dulcimer I bought the day of my flight,” Swift’s journal entry read. “I bought it because Joni played on most of her Blue record. I taught myself to play ‘A Case of You.’ Anyway, I wrote a song on it called ‘Nothin New’ and it’s about being scared of aging and things changing and losing what you have.”

She shared the following lyrics: “I’m getting older and less sure of what you like about me anyway/ How can a person know everything at 18 and nothing at 22/ And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?”

Taylor’s Recording of ‘Better Man’

In 2016, country group Little Big Town released (and later won many awards for) “Better Man,” a song written by Swift that just didn’t make the final cut for any of her own albums (though she did once perform it live, at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe).

In an interview with in 2019, while talking about her upcoming album re-recordings, Swift confirmed “Better Man” was indeed a track she “wrote during Red — it was originally going to be on the Red album.”

And she made it very clear that she loved the idea of eventually putting it on Red (Taylor’s Version). “Fans were like, ‘Maybe she’ll put ‘Better Man,’ her version, on the Red album?’ And I was like, ‘That’s an amazing idea!'” noted Swift.

Taylor’s Recording of ‘Babe’

In 2018, Sugarland released “Babe,” a song written by Swift and Train’s Pat Monahan. While Swift never released the song on her own, she did record guest vocals on Sugarland’s take — and she treated some lucky fans to a solo acoustic performance of the track on a stop of her Reputation Stadium Tour.

As Monahan recalled in an interview with ABC News Radio in 2013, he’d first asked Swift to collaborate with him on a song for a Train album — but they ended up writing “Babe” for Red instead. Unfortunately, “Babe” didn’t end up on the original Red track list, though Monahan said “the song, I think, will be on” the deluxe edition of the album. Of course, that didn’t happen either, but perhaps it finally will find a home on a Swift album with Red (Taylor’s Version).

“I was just lucky enough to be a part of it with her, and I’m gonna ask the same of her in the future,” Monahan said at the time.

A Never-Before-Heard Song With Mark Foster

In the summer of 2012, just months before Red was released, Foster the People’s Mark Foster confirmed that he’d recently penned a song with Swift — one that still has yet to surface.

“We wrote a song … It’s a really cool song, you know?” he said in an interview at Bonnaroo that summer. “We kind of just went into it casually, like let’s just jam and just have fun, and something really cool came out of it. We’ll see what happens with it. She’s been writing a lot for her next record. It was a lot of fun working with her — she’s super talented.”

An Ed Sheeran Collab From the Vault

Longtime friends and collaborators Swift and Sheeran first got together to write music in 2012. Their sweet duet “Everything Has Changed” made it onto the original Red album, but the pair have both implied there is at least one more song out there from their Red-era session.

In a pair of now-deleted old tweets, they’d written cute coordinating messages while working on music:

“In and out burger, defacing guitars and writing music with @taylorswift13,” Sheeran had written with a smiley face.

Swift confirmed that scenario, also with a smiley face: “Eating cheeseburgers, scribbling on guitars, writing songs with @edsheeran.”

And in an interview with that summer, Sheeran added that they “wrote two tunes, actually, one on the record [Red] and another that’s still out in the ether somewhere.”

Source : Billboard More   

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