Rad Releases 20 – KEYS
It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2020 rapidly approaches and we quickly want to move away from this year- we take a personal look back on familiar names, labels, promoters, and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been a challenging year for all, the one constant has been how artists and their labels have adapted and produced some of the best records of our time and it’s those releases that have the audience has depended on to get them through the year.
This year the Rad Releases special celebrates 10 years, to mark the decade-long feature we let our favorites take over the site to tell us the records that have kept them going throughout this trying year. Telling us how they’ve adapted, if they’ve returned to a loved record and what we can look forward to from them next year.
From July this year, there was a real turning point for us and that came with the first single that Keys released. Each single they shared from their then-forthcoming album filled us with purpose, re-ignited our love and connection to their vision and gave us a record to count down the days to hear in full. Keys weave a rich tapestry of 70’s rock into their arrangements, their work exudes charm and passion and reflects on an era so few of us had the chance to embrace. Keys have created a release that is easily one of the most profound and imperative records of our time. We are delighted to chat to Matt Evans of the band to find out more about his year in music….
Top Releases with Matt
I was really excited that Mexican Summer reissued some of Ariel Pink’s albums earlier this year. I’ve been listening to Worn Copy non-stop this week (was an early Xmas present!) The original Ariel Pink artwork and unseen studio photos are a feast, plus liner notes by Simon Reynolds make this a wonderful repackage. And the music sounds incredible. So glad to have this on vinyl.
Gwion and me have really enjoyed JW Francis’ We Share a Similar Joy. Some really beautiful music on this one and the production is spot on. His single, New York, really leapt out of the radio; those fluttery, wobbly guitars melt the hardest of hearts.
For me, spoken-word indie is played out now, but not before John Mouse released his bizarre and wonderful The Goat. It has a really aggressive electronic bite to it combined with surreal and ultra-personal lyrics. Guaranteed to get the party started.
Another reissue really grabbed me. Liam Hayes’ Mirage Garage. It was originally released as cassette only last year, but it finally had a vinyl release this year (I think?). His previous work under the name of Plush was very much a wall-of-sound production, but this new album is very stripped back showcasing the greatest Baroque pop vocalist of our time. This could possibly be my favourite album of the year.
Steel Zakusi by Don Leisure has been a kaleidoscopic collage world of sound we’ve enjoyed getting lost in during this strange year. Can’t wait to hear where Don Leisure, aka Halal Cool J, takes us next.
Surprise Chef – New Ferrari. The single from their 2nd album, Daylight Savings. Its an incredible album with plenty of Jazz-prog leanings, I highly recommend it, but it’s the single New Ferrari that really stands out. A floor filler, if clubs were open L
Shout out to New Dad – Blue. I think they’re from Northern Ireland. Again, this single just stood out – wonderfully shoegazey with some added a-e-s-t-h-e-t-i-c
The best show you have played this year / gig attended (if you had the opportunity at the start of the year)
We were still buzzing from our Xmas ’19 show at The Gate in Roath when we played our final show of 2020 in Feb at the CULTRE Lab on Penarth Road, Cardiff. What a spectacle: a 360-degree dome projecting the most psychedelic imagery since a Grateful Dead gig! It was lovely to see punters laying on their backs, gazing up at the projections whilst we played some extended jams. And Sock played too – we love them.
Has there been any record that’s got you through this year?
Not to sound too conceited, but Home Schooling was a wonderful distraction for part of the year; a really therapeutic exercise for us.
How have you adapted with releasing/recording/promoting during this year?
As much as lockdown has been restrictive, in many ways its been something of an enabler. We’ve just had to adapt. Sending takes over the internet has been great because the rest of the band hasn’t had to sit through the hours of head scratching and writing of parts. Not playing live has been a downer but new approaches to recording are keeping us busy.
Best discovery this year?
The ‘Portastudio and other 4-track Cassette Recorders’ facebook group has been a real delight this year; loads of enthusiasts sharing their work and philosophies.
As this is our 10th year of Rad Releases, we want to look back on your 10 years- has there been on standout moment/standout record of the past 10 years for you?
Boy Azooga – 1,2 Kung Fu – album of the decade
Artist/Band to watch for 2021
I’m quite hopeful that New Dad will have a good 2021. Please, no more spoken-word indie, make melody king.
Plans for the New Year
Thank you so much for your support in 2020. See you on the other side! Matt KEYS
Thank you for giving us this incredible record, we can’t wait to see what 2021 will bring for Keys.