At the time of writing this, every Thursday from 3-6pm I am on the air on Spark Sunderland where I present their Drivetime show for the day. One of the main features of the show, with it being broadcast on a community radio station in Sunderland, is that it features a song from a local band or artist each and every hour. It provides a nice contrast from the mainstream and opens up listeners’ ears to budding artists whose music may just be what they are looking for; something new, from the heart and brought to them by their own neighbours.
Since starting the lockdown editions of the show back in October 2020 I have found myself paying more attention to the local artists who end up being featured on the show, showcasing genres like straightforward indie rock to dance punk electronica to the playlists. It’s a refreshing part of Drive that I look forward to and I have found myself adding their music to my Spotify library. In an effort to hopefully give you some new flavours to try, I’d like to highlight these artists and some choice singles of theirs.
We’re kicking things off with Butterjunk, a three-piece band formed at Newcastle University who pride themselves on producing ethereal indie rock which is described by several music magazines and blogs out there as dreamgaze and lo-fi. Sounds like a good combination, dunnit? As soon as I read those last three words I was sold, I had to hear what they had in store for the show. And boy was I impressed.
Woodside was the first song of theirs that I heard all the way back in January, and is from their debut EP Normalised. Ethereal is the way Butterjunk describe their music and that word suits this song to a tee; the notes sound like they are bouncing off old walls. The word reviewers kept on using to describe this song was ‘hazy’ and the reverb on the music does create this impression of a dream-like state, flying through a clouded sky of melody. Lovely bit of psychedelia. Looking at the lyrics as well it seems that this song has continued to age like a fine wine (For better or for worse) as we have fallen deeper and deeper into the proverbial and Lockdown 3 became a thing after New Year’s. Vocalist Ben has gone on record saying Woodside is a “self-reflective song inspired whilst I was looking back at a year of my life”, and melancholy is very much an undercurrent here as a result. In particular the lyric ‘I was just looking for some who talked like me. Now I’m broken down, lost the feeling’ resonates.
The other single I wish to talk about from Normalised is the lead single Little Alien, something which I think I’m right in saying is very cutely illustrated on the album cover. Once again this song is drenched in reverb, which helps create an atmosphere befitting of a little alien sailing through space. It’s very much a journey into the unknown but one that you’re going to be all here for no matter what if this opening track is anything to go by. Special mention also has to go to the drum work which dominates the second half of the song, guiding the three of them along a trip through the space of sound. Normally, I’d argue that foregoing lyrics for a whole half of a song in favour of a jam session could make the whole thing feel disjointed, but here it showcases what they are capable of and that they can easily hold their own with instrumentals.
When live music becomes a thing again, make sure you leave a space at the top of your list of must-sees for Butterjunk.