Rad Releases 21- Safe Suburban Home Records
For the final week 2 weeks of the year, as the countdown to the end of 2021 approaches, we take a personal look back on familiar names, labels, promoters, and musicians’ most loved releases of the past 12 months. It’s a time we enjoy and look forward to, through the contributions we get to find new music discoveries, releases we may have missed throughout the year. When we handed the site over last year for the 2020 feature, our 10th year into our annual special, we loved the contributions and it became apparent that we all found ourselves reconnecting with music new and old. Following another challenging year, the one constant has been how artists and their labels have adapted and produced some of the best records of our time, it’s those releases that fans have depended on to get them through another year.
Now in its 11th year, we are delighted to hand the site over once more, as we let our favourites share more details about their year in music.
Our next takeover comes from a label that we’ve witnessed introduce us to some of the best releases of 2021, another promising year from this platform who has once again pushed our own tape collection to another level this year. Founded in York in 2018, Safe Suburban Home (SSH) is an independent record label with a passion for a physical product at its core. The label have such a knack for finding new artists and releasing a dynamic array of material. We’ve also added another one of their cassette releases to our own store (Cowgirl), and we are in awe of the continued support from the label. We hand over to Jim Quinn of SSH to find out more about their year in music…
- Top Releases Of The Year
1. Pardoner – Came Down Different (Bar None Records)
This record has made me so happy this year. It’s everything I love in music. Short, catchy, interesting songs, amazing guitar tones and great production. It’s super noisy, but crystal clear at the same time. It reminds me of the pleasures of Parquet Courts mixed with the noise of the Cribs Brazen Bull era. It’s a proper album too, no need to skip.
2. Pickle Darling – Cosmonaut (Z Tapes)
Stumbled into this record through some of the links I’ve made this year in the indie label scene. Filip at Z Tapes has released some amazing stuff over the years, but this release just suits me so much more. The mix is really lively and full, it’s super chill, it’s got a load of ‘wonkyness’ which makes it super cool, and everyone I’ve played it to loves it. Definite Flaming Lips vibes too.
3. Kiwi jr. – Cooler Returns (Sub Pop)
Pure effortless indie pop. This is a definite grower, but I love how if you dig a bit deeper there’s of load of late 70’s / early 80’s British punk arrangement going on too. But the overall all sound is brilliant, pure well executed, jangle pop. Really enjoyable lyrics too.
4. Rural France – RF (Meritorio)
First got into Rural France after speaking to Tom (one half of the band) in July. There’s a lot to like here. The home-made lo-fi production its great starting point, and just sets the scene. It’s just a very ‘honest’ record but dig a bit deeper and the song writing is infectious. There’s a run of 6 songs in the middle of the album which could all be contenders for Single of The Year.
5. Iceage – Seek Shelter (Mexican Summer)
I love this record, and it got a proper hammering here in the office throughout the first half of the year. There’s a load of ‘anti-pop’ type noise going on, but underneath it all there’s some pretty special vocal melodies and chorus that keep me coming back. It feels like a punk band really trying to hold themselves back, but it works so well.
- The best show you have hosted this year / or gig attended
Attended – Willie J Healey / The Bug Club
We’ve been waiting to see Willie J Healey for ages, and we were so lucky he came to York. We have such a good scene here for such a small town.
Willie has it all. His voice is incredible live, and his backing band are insanely good. Then chuck into the mix that he can control a sold-out room and have them in the palm of his hand and you’ve got a great night. Add The Bug Club as support and that’s why it’s gig of the year.
Hosted – Cowgirl & Mr Ben & The Bens / Kimber
I’ve ended up hosting (or co-hosting) a load of stuff this year, and we don’t normally do that. The Cowgirl shows in September were great fun, but I think my favourite was the Mr Ben & The Bens / Family Selection Box / Kimber show. The touring party of Mr Ben & Family Selection Box is the loveliest crew you’ll ever meet, both acts are superb live and really should be playing huge venues. It was also an opportunity to see Kimber live for the first time. They are amazing, and you can expect to see a lot more of them next year.
- Has there been any record that’s got you through this year?
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
I don’t know why, but just keep coming back to this record. Side A is just constantly on the turntable next to me as I work.
- How have you adapted with releasing/recording/promoting during this year?
As a ‘physical first’ label, it’s been a tough year. We’ve had a lot of cash tied up in vinyl that just hasn’t materialised. The Cowgirl record was due to arrive in August (it’s still not here) so it messed all our plans up for the second half of the year. Frustrating for us, but an absolute killer for the band too. It did mean that we managed to sign a couple of ‘bonus’ bands in Too Much Future and Springfield Elementary, so it was a great end to the year,
Cassette sales have been super strong this year, but just recently, I think the novelty is starting to wear off, so we need to have another think about next year’s release strategy. Maybe CDs make a comeback, I’m not sure yet.
If SSH was a proper business, then the well documented vinyl supply chain issues would have finished us off this year. Fortunately, as it’s predominantly an expensive hobby, we can keep on plugging away.
- Best discovery this year?
Twitter – Crazy. We started using Twitter properly at the back end of last year as a promo tool for the label. I love it so much. We have made so many new indie industry friends this year and it’s led to a load of collaboration and DIY swaps etc. I can really see us doing a lot more of this next year.
- Label Highlight of 2021
It’s got to be our Charity Comp. I’ve had a few people asking for an SSH curated comp for a while, but it’s always seemed like a crazy amount of work. I finally succumbed to the idea in September and just asked a load of bands who we all love if they’d donate a track. Basically, everyone said yes. It all got turned around in about 4 weeks and our duplication plant did an amazing job to get the tapes back to us in time to line up with the last Bandcamp Friday of the year.
The content is amazing, all un-released stuff from a mixed bag of genres. I love how for some of the demo’s and live tracks you can tell how a band really works. I’m so happy that I got hold of so much of this stuff which may never have seen the light of day.
- Artist/Band to watch for 2022
This is a tricky one. There’s a lot of good guitar music brewing at the moment, but I reckon we’re another year off a big new guitar band. What I have heard this year from someone who works with us is Julia-Sophie. She’s released a handful of singles already and they are all brilliant. Very hard to describe, but it’s familiar electronica but with a subtle layer of anxiety / uncomfortableness. It just feels right for the current global situation, and I just a gut instinct that she’s going to have a massive year.
- Label Plans for the New Year
So, the Cowgirl record will come out on 12” in the Spring and the lads will be touring it again.
We’re doing an album as a collaboration with Repeating Cloud Records on cassette, which is amazing. It would be in my Top 5, if we’d have got it out this year.
Then I have a MASSIVE project I’m working on with a returning SSH band, which I can’t quite let out of the bag yet.
We’ll also do a bunch of cassette releases too, which we haven’t planned in yet. I think we’ll see quite a few SSH bands coming back through the label next year, which will be lovely.
Thank you to the Safe Suburban Home team once more for another incredible year of introducing us to some of the best releases, look forward to see what the next 12 months will bring to SSH