Muna

Christ. Last week I penned the inaugural Stereo Tonic in the hope that it’d help people get through the week ahead without having to endure anymore of the post-Brexit onslaught of BAD NEWS. Well, within 18 hours of publication, I was already going to need a considerably better effort than my frankly SLAPDASH attempt at whimsical humour and hastily-curated playlists when it emerged that we were getting professional shitbag Theresa May as our new Prime Minister in a measly two days, rather than the two month transitional phase we’d been promised by departing lizard king David Cameron (I joked that Nigel Farage would ascend to the throne and yet that seems comparatively weak against the hand we’ve now been dealt). It’s been a week that has seen the attack that occurred in Nice, the attempted coup in Turkey, over 100,000 Labour members screwed out of their democratic right to vote, and Brexiteering oafbaby Boris Johnson get given the job of being our international representation as the new Foreign Secretary. What’s more, Frank Ocean is still yet to release his second album. Clearly, now so more than ever, we all need some good music.

Instead of just presenting a ‘Here’s Five Songs We’re Loving This Week’ that no one will give a toss about, here are five songs that might just carry you through another depressing week on Planet Earth, as society crumbles around us and democracy continues to dissolve before our very eyes, courtesy of my your our Stereo Tonic.

Monday: Leatherneck – Caffeine

This week will be the first full week on the job for our new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond. Good luck Phillip – George Osborne left you a right fucking shit-show to clear up! One of the areas in need of most attention is the financial situations of the self-employed and small businesses, something that often affects independent record labels, such as Close To Home. This week, CTH are trying to raise funds to pay off some sticky HMRC fines, accrued because our tax codes are a joke and our taxmen past and present frequently view the self-employed (and the arts) as huge cash cows to milk dry (though if CTH is actually being used to siphon drug money into an offshore bank account then I’ll be having words). That being said, CTH are selling EXTREMELY limited edition badges to commemorate the occasion and pay off the fines, while still managing to put out consistently excellent records – the latest of which is Cheshire band Leatherneck’s brilliant new single ‘Caffeine’. Like its liquid namesake, the song (taken from upcoming EP ‘Lighting up the Tilt Sign’ out on August 5th) is addictive, awakening, and absolutely amazing either on its own or with two spoonfuls of sugar. Equal parts melodic rock, post-grunge, and pop-punk right up until the last minute – which happens to be 60 seconds of the finest recorded noise that you’ll ever hear – Leatherneck’s maturing sound will provide you the perfect counterpart to whatever crap Monday throws your way.

Tuesday: Beach Slang – Punks in a Disco Bar

Fight off that Tuesday morning angst with a song named ‘Punks in a Disco Bar’. The apocalypse can take our freedom, but it’ll never take our anarchistic discotheques! As the day starts off with, I don’t know, Donald Trump buying the NHS in a move that Jeremy Hunt described as “Fuck you people”, Beach Slang’s Philadelphia-born blend of Gaslight Anthem-style heartland rock and Sharks-esque anthemic punk is the perfect antidote to the crushing realisation that we’re all doomed, really. Urgent guitars meet crashing cymbals with little respite through the songs all-too-brief two minutes and 40 seconds, as frontman James Alex sings, “Man, they taught me to talk then told me to shut up.”“  How apt. Throughout Beach Slang’s history, the band have aimed to epitomise, exemplify, and embody the feelings of you, the listener, through making you feel like an integral part of their tight-knit gang. Indeed, titling their debut album ‘The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us’ only strengthens the notion that we’re all in this together, and upcoming sophomore record ‘A Bash of Teenage Feelings’ sure looks set to unashamedly speak for a generation of disaffected and disenfranchised souls looking for a way out. I’ll see you in the disco bar (I hear they do a bang-up two-for-Tuesday deal on cocktails).

Wednesday: HONNE – Good Together

Somewhat unintentionally, HONNE have found themselves inside the Stereo Tonic for a second week running, and with good reason; after last week’s stunning reworking of Izzy Bizu collaboration ‘Someone That Loves You’, the Bow-based duo are two-for-two with new single ‘Good Together’. Sounding like the kind of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’-aping tune that Remain campaigners all over the UK wish they’d had a month ago, ‘Good Together’ combines smooth and silky vocals with the piano-driven electro-soul that HONNE have defined in preparation for next week’s debut album, ‘Warm on a Cold Night’. Synths weave their way between the delightful melodies, guitars glissando beneath an irresistible beat, and the chorus commands attention through its insatiable desire to be sung from the rooftops; HONNE have hit a hump day home run. Maybe HONNE and the Stereo Tonic are just, put simply, good together.

Thursday: Grouplove – Welcome To Your Life

Much like the bubonic plague, the Brexit bus, and Louis Walsh on the X Factor, Grouplove are back! Thankfully, they’re a great deal more fun than all of those three things, though their ominously-titled new single ‘Welcome To Your Life’ perhaps suggests a decadent realisation of the fact that those three things still exist. You were one of the many who didn’t tune in to X Factor last year? Well fuck you, here’s Westlife’s old manager. You voted Leave?  Then why don’t you #TakeControl of that eyesore of a bus you paraded Boris Johnson and his Cornish pasties around in. Have you ever taken antibiotics? YOU’LL NEED A TRUCKLOAD OF THEM, BECAUSE THE BLACK DEATH IS BACK, BABY. I digress; Grouplove’s new song is really good, thank you. Don’t interpret it as a damning indication of how things are; take it as an optimistic vision of how things could be. Despite starting off with a introduction confusingly reminiscent of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, ‘Welcome To Your Life’ soon carries forward the college-rock-meets-indie-pop torch that Grouplove have been bearing for the past few years. Like a grown up relative of last year’s ‘No Drama Queen’ (taken from the ‘Paper Towns’ soundtrack), there’s something here for Grouplove fans old and new; from the echoing and innocent verses to the powerful and triumphant chorus, life surely can’t be too bad if this is where it’s at.

Friday: MUNA – Loudspeaker (Live from SXSW)

The latest hyped up group from LA is one that comes with a fair amount of justification, and if you’re just discovering MUNA then prepare for your brain to be infected with their contagious grooves and irresistible melodies. Describing themselves as ‘dark pop’, the three piece’s musical offerings are a fair bit more uplifting than that tag suggests, and this live recording from their barnstorming set at SXSW is about as utopian as our dystopian nightmare can get. The whole EP, streaming now on Spotify, feels uniquely important, and ‘Loudspeaker’ is the keynote moment from its all-too-brief four songs. The HAIM comparisons are not without precedent; the sun-up, top-down feel that adorns MUNA’s music is both as ramshackle as pop can be, and as glistening as indie should be. ”Fucking sing it!” demands vocalist Katie Gavin midway through the rollicking rendition of their second ever single, with the ‘it’ in question containing a world-beating chorus that states “So if I feel real good tonight, I’m gonna put it high on the loudspeaker // And if I feel like crying, I won’t hide it, I am a loudspeaker”. In a world where our human rights are constantly violated and our collective voices ignored, MUNA simply proffer, “Every time I don’t shut up, it’s revolution”. As your potentially-awful week comes to a close, remember that if you feel real good tonight, then put this on the loudspeaker (especially if you’re with some mates in the back of an Uber). If you feel like crying, don’t hide it, you are a loudspeaker.

Good luck, enjoy these perhaps-insignificant mere moments of pop, rock, and pop-rock brilliance and I’ll see you next week.

About The Author

Mark Riley

Always pick the Fire starter-Pokemon.