Between the various entities that comprise the HLS Promotions organisation there’s a surprisingly disparate idea of what bands will or won’t be up against the wall when the revolution finally comes. Whether it’s Cowlin’s analogue electronic frown-wave imported from the former Yugoslavia or Josh insisting that Love Buzzard are the new Wet Nuns – there’s a wide range of styles and acts we like to follow around. It’s not as common as you’d think that we form a unanimous front on the quality of a new act. None the less, one group that we can all agree on is Desperate Journalist – and here’s some good reasons why.
1) The Christina EP
It used to be standard practice in the underground scene to cut a 4 track demo tape (often recorded on a 4 track recorder!) before fully committing to a proper vinyl début. I used to be obsessed with collecting 90s goth demo tapes which were almost totally unfindable 20 years ago and are basically mythical now (try and find any of Rosetta Stone’s early cassette releases for less than an arm and a leg). The Christina EP is a wonderful, self released little collection of songs which all stand up in their own right, but also sound similar enough to clearly demonstrate the band’s sonic intentions and planned direction.
Also, it’s now sold out. So it’s already a collectors item.
2. They’re North London as fuck
On paper they’ve got everything you need to be a trendy East London post punk revival band, but there’s something about them which is too earnest, too down to earth and too damn cool to be really cool. Every time I see a picture of Savages or TOY faithfully pastiche-ing *insert ever popular post-punk or psych band here* with almost no sense of irony whatsoever, it gives a vague sense that someone is having me on – a bit like being sold pre-ripped jeans or bottled water. Desperate Journalist on the other hand have the feel of true, home grown, college rock kids. You just know they’ve still got posters (possibly even magazine cut outs) on their walls, even though they’re old enough for this to be slightly embarrassing.
Simon Drowner also happens to be one of the organisers of the excellent glam/punk/rock night Some Weird Sin, held monthly at the Buffalo Bar in Highbury and Islington. This is a night that actually plays all the music that East London DJs claim to like while only spinning some gruesome variation on house music. It also attracts the weirdest collection of mods, rockers, goths, punks and indie kids this side of Camden Town Sainsburys.
Look, here they are looking kinda awkward on a bench in Finsbury park.
3. This Guitar
“Because I want to sound exactly like Johnny Mar, but instead of using the “half arse it yourself” combination of Fender Jazzmaster and too many stomp boxes and I’m gonna go all out and get a guitar that is both hollow, 12 stringed and STILL in possession of 2 humbuckers. Like a mother fucker.” For the record, Johnny Mar created his signature sound with a 12 string variation on a Rickenbacker, which Robert Hardy of DJ is now rocking for himself. It’s ok to have heroes – being honest about it makes you much more likeable.
4. THIS Bass Guitar
BECAUSE GLAM. THAT’S WHY.
5. The juxtaposition of the serious and the absurd…
…is what made goth so good in the first place. Is it a dark, bitter reaction to an unjust world, or is it just a bit of pantomime and an excuse to dress up like a goof? Who knows? The fact that their battle cry of “Never apologise, never explain” is brought into sharp relief by a T shirt with a Kitten causing random acts of minor destruction sums this up perfectly.
6. They’re the new Ghost Dance
I’m pretty sure it’s a complete accident and none of them even own a Ghost Dance record, but they’re strangely similar to this unforgivably underrated mid 80s rock band. Right down to the glam rock bass player.
7. They don’t just have sounds, they have songs
I know it seems obvious but I’m just so damn board of bands that think a new FX box = a new song. Everyone is happy to copy the blistering feedback on TJAMC’s highly influential début LP, Psychocandy, but they all pussied out of trying to write any songs as good as April Skies from the actually much better second album, Darklands. There’s a place for music dedicated entirely to making interesting sounds; and that’s Brian Eno’s back catalogue – not rock and roll.
8. They’ve taken all the good bits that define a guitar goth band…
…and left out all the unnecessary crap that got the entire genre sidelined to death at the end of the 1980s. It only took MY ENTIRE LIFETIME, but at last it’s happened. Thank you Desperate Journalist, thank you.