Rad Releases 20 – Kidsmoke
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.
Next up we handover to a band whose own album is already appearing quite a lot on our end of year feature, and rightly so. In May of this year, Libertino Records introduced us to the pheonmela sounds of Kidsmoke. The band consists of Lance, James, Sophie & Ash and together the band create dreamy indie-pop, capturing a 90’s indie vibe yet projecting something uniquely of their own accord. In June, they released their captivating new album A Vision in the Dark and this Autumn the record was shortlisted for the Welsh Music Prize 2020. We are in awe of how this band have adapted throughout the year. Kidsmoke share their year in music…
James’ pick: Becca Mancari – The Greatest Part
I can’t remember exactly how I came across this album, and I’d not heard her stuff until this release. I just find it a really consistent album from start to finish that flows really well. The second half of the album shifts in tone a little, I really like the sense of journey that the album takes.
Lance’s pick: Willie J Healey – Twin Heavy
This has been my most listened to album of 2020 for sure. I think he’s a great songwriter and I can hear a lot of George Harrison’s influence in his songs. I’m looking forward to seeing him live when things get back to normal.
Soph’s pick: Harkin – ‘Harkin’
This is Katie Harkin, who plays guitar and keys with Sleater Kinney (my heroes) and occasionally Courtney Barnett. Really great album, definitely recommend giving it a whirl.
Ash’s pick: Real Estate – The Main Thing
The best show you have played this year / gig attended (if you had the opportunity at the start of the year)
We didn’t end up getting to play many shows at all, but we did get to do a BBC Horizon’s session live at Maida Vale which was a dream come true for us all. We were mixed by the guy who mixed David Bowie’s Glastonbury set in 2000 and we just generally loved the whole experience.
Similarly we haven’t been to too many gigs as punters either. Soph managed to see Sleater Kinney just before lockdown, Lance saw Bombay Bicycle Club and James saw The Orielles in Manchester just before lockdown, but it’s been a frustrating year for live shows all around. Fingers crossed things can start to pick up next year.
Has there been any record that’s got you through this year?
Lance: For me, it’s been ‘Rattlesnakes’ by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. It’s such an incredible debut record – wonderfully raw and there’s some beautiful string arrangements on there. I really like how Lloyd Cole manages to get all these cultural references into his lyrics without it sounding naff – such a difficult thing to do.
Soccer Mommy’s album ‘Colour Theory’ has been a huge hit with us all. It’s brilliant from start to finish.
How have you adapted with releasing/recording/promoting during this year?
We released our album ‘A Vision In The Dark’ via Libertino records in June this year, right in the middle of lockdown. We were lucky that we managed to get everything done early in the year and the rest could be done online – even though we had to cancel all our tour dates, we quickly came to the decision that we didn’t want to push back the release. We’d worked so hard to get it ready and we thought that people would appreciate having some new music to look forward to.
We’ve been busy demoing the next album while we’re not able to meet up and practice. It is a challenge, as the songs often take shape once we’ve played them through together multiple times. It’s a slightly different way of working, which is exciting as the next recordings will likely take us somewhat out of our comfort zone by being more spontaneous.
Ash: With the pandemic, we’ve been pretty limited in terms of what we can do when it comes to rehearsing and working on new material. But we did discover an app called Splice which allowed us to work together on new material and each record little bits remotely, which has been really helpful.
Best discovery this year?
Lance: It’s between Hazel English or Fenne Lily – both great records. On the podcast front, I’ve been really enjoying ‘How Do You Cope?’ with Elis James and John Robins.
Soph: I found my Gameboy Pocket while I was moving house, that was an amazing discovery. Like Lance, I also really love podcasts and have enjoyed Louis Theroux’s “Grounded” series and “Tim Key’s Late Night Poetry Programme” (top tip from James), both on BBC Sounds.
James: Outside of music, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a massive nerd when it comes to JRPGs. The Trials of Cold Steel series on PS4 is my latest fix. In a lot of ways these games are incredibly boring – the main character is a bit of a wet lettuce, and the voice acting is proper ropey. All classic ingredients for a great game in my book. It’s a welcome distraction from 2020.
As this is our 10th year of Rad Releases, we want to look back on your 10 years- has there been a standout moment/standout record of the past 10 years for you- please share!
Ash: A big one for me was our first time playing together overseas when we played BreakOut West in Kelowna, BC Canada. One of the shows was in a rooftop bar which was really cool. I also ate a tub of Poutine which was great, but the portion was the size of my head and I thought I was going to explode.
James: For me it was playing SXSW. I’d never been to America, so I was overly excited. The whole week is exhausting but in the best of ways. Getting to meet and play with Boy Azooga was special, as we’d all been really into the album and had seen them live a few times before.
Soph: We’ve had a lot of great moments, but I’m choosing releasing our album ‘A Vision In The Dark’. It felt so amazing to finally share it with everyone – a proud moment for us all.
Artist/Band to watch for 2021
Definitely Denuo. This is a project by a really good pal of ours Tom Mason (he’s done some of our artwork and videos) and as well as being a great human and talented videographer, he’s an amazing musician with a voice like melted heaven. He self-released his first album ‘Scarlet Sleep’ in 2014 and he’s readying his second album for release in 2021 and we can’t wait – it also features a couple of appearances on vocals by our Soph…
Seazoo are also working on a new album, goes without saying that we can’t wait for that either. Amazing band.
Plans for the New Year
We’ve been working on new material so we’re starting to think about some new releases – fingers crossed we can play some live shows too, when it’s safe enough to do so.
Congratulations on such a fantastic record, looking forward to more!