The appropriately-named Mellow Gang’s chill-out indie is awash with psych elements, with lead vocalist Harriet Joseph’s rich tenor filling the glistening instrumental of debut track ‘Lagoon’ as effortlessly as the buzzy indie chorus of latest track ‘Vendetta’.
Now, after releasing their first track together a few months ago, they’re on the cusp of their first EP, Play.
Their sound may be dreamy, but the EP aims to dig a little deeper, exploring the emotional complexities of mental health. “It really had to provoke something that not everyone might be comfortable with,” Harriet says of the release, due 23rd June. “Fears develop of boredom, complacency, stillness, imitation, opposition, addictions and then even nothing at all. I felt it across people I knew, but no one went there or talked about it.”
We got some time with the band ahead of the release to chat about five albums that have influenced their sound. You can catch them live at the Sebright Arms on 26th June.
Mac DeMarco – Another One
Joe: This is a tricky one, but I think I’d have to chat about Mac Demarco here, as he’s been a recurring influence for me. I saw Mac live for the first time whilst on holiday a couple of Christmas’ ago in Melbourne, Australia at 170 Russell. This was not only my first time seeing him live but also my first real introduction. The atmosphere at the show was brilliant (I feel far better than you get in London) and ever since I have been a huge fan, especially of 2015’s Another One, however my favourite Mac Demarco track probably has to be ‘Ode To Viceroy’. It is now very reminiscent for me and has also impacted the way in which I play drums and even set up my kit to give a sparser, lazier feel.
Pink Floyd – Piper At The Gates of Dawn
GK: In terms of musical context, for me it’s Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Pop music could have just stopped when Tomorrow Never Knows came out in early 67. It’s a good thing it didn’t since Piper, released later that year, went on to push that creative process further than Lennon/McCartney would have dared. Barrett’s visionary songwriting was as warm as it was original, and the band had an exciting naivety in their playing; for me, that’s the ultimate end goal. This recently unearthed live version of Interstellar Overdrive really sums it up.
Roxy Music – Roxy Music
GK: People often toss the word theatrical around like it’s the worst thing a song can be – for me, that sums up a band doing something daring and entertaining. I don’t mean in an Andrew Lloyd-Webber sense, of course – that’s obviously rubbish. But songs like ‘If There Is Something’, from Roxy Music’s first album: the song weaves through three distinct sections, each tonally contrasting; pitting Ferry’s smooth vocal against a stained howl, broken chords and a barbershop resolve. Tracks like this are divisive, totally – the best music is – but for me it really works.
Beach House – Bloom
Harriet: I’d have to talk about Beach House. After hearing ‘In Bloom’ and ‘Teen Dream’ for the first time, it filled a complete void for me when struggling to bridge the gap between my main influences of guitar bands and what I actually wanted to write about in songs. When you have an artist whose sound is so personally important to you, it’s frustrating to try and describe that as you want to nail it on the head but then it doesn’t deserve to be summed up at all. BH are definitely that for me. Legrand as a vocalist and a lyricist is the most indirect yet comforting presence, let alone the hypnotic playing between electric guitar and synths. ‘Myth’ was the first track I ever heard of theirs 4 years ago, and now I don’t think I go a week without playing an album.
Temples – Volcano
Shenny: After discovering Tame Impala, I quickly latched onto Temples. Watching them live for the first time was extremely exciting as we had backstage passes and managed to meet them briefly afterwards. For me, ‘Ankh’ has the best anthemic hook of all time and I listen to that track regularly. They’ve just released their new album ‘Volcano’ which I’ve had on repeat for the last month. I can’t fault a single track on it. It’s one of those albums that instantly had me convinced. Again, I’m huge on anthemic hooks and “Oh the Saviour!” Inspires me in all of my songwriting endeavours.