Hold on to your pants, one of our favourite Cardiff bands (who played at our book launch back in 2015) are dropping their debut album this week as a Christmas gift to you all! Here’s Robin from the Jutes to take you through the album track by track, along with a video (made by our very own Jameso) and some gorgeous album art….
Track 1: Permutations among the nightingales
A scene-setter rather than a first song, really, this was an instrumental guitar piece I’d had knocking around for a while that we quickly jammed and recorded in the studio. We recorded all of the basic tracks for this EP in one hectic day in the Music Box this spring – live as bass, drums and guitar, and pretty much in the same sequence as the track-listing.
Sadly Dan – our bassist – couldn’t make it, so Adam deputised on bass as well engineering/producing with his brother Paul. Adam was a complete monster – playing all these songs for the first time on the day we recorded them. I imagined this as the soundtrack to a shot of a car driving towards the vanishing point in the American mid-west at sunset. Not sure that explains the frog noises.
Track 2: Light a match
An attempt at a punchy, crowd-pleasing first proper song, we tried to channel Yo La Tengo and the Lemonheads, with hopefully some Real Estate guitar on the chorus. It’s one of only two songs on the EP about anything – distracting yourself from existential boredom by chit-chat and getting drunk. I tried to go full J Mascis with the guitar solo, but perhaps mustered up a slightly virile Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub.
Track 3: Dear Susan
I really love Orange Juice (Edwyn Collin’s early-’80s fusion of the Byrds, Chic and fey Scottish teenagers with plastic sandals and fringes like Roger McGuinn) and this is intended as a straight-up homage.
The first line (“Evidently my dear Susan”) seemed like the sort of comically overblown thing Edwyn Collins would sing, though I couldn’t quite manage the voice – which Alexis Petridis described as like “a tipsy man launching into an after-dinner speech with his mouth still full of port and walnuts”. The lyrics are an aggressive take-down of religious extremism, which should hopefully sort a few things out.
Track 4: Gallic Way
When I formed the band I basically wanted us to be Pavement, but we could never manage their nonchalant slacker charm. Sounding like you don’t care and still being good is really hard! This is probably as close as we got. I think Neil nailed the drums, which sound like someone very drunk falling down the stairs holding a pint and somehow not spilling a drop.
The lyrics are fairly Malkmus-pastiching, but those are the sort of lyrics I like – a collection of (hopefully) striking images and phrases rather than a coherent narrative. No-one listens to lyrics beyond the first verse and the chorus anyway. The chorus refers to a traumatic haircut I once received where the hairdresser maintained eye-contact with me – in the mirror – throughout, seemingly never once looking at my hair/head, and relying on some sort of echo-location to avoid cutting my ears.
Track 5: Persian Regret
The name for this song is taken from the Jutes range of hard-wearing interior paints. The concept (for the song rather than the paint range), is that you (YOU) have just stepped out of a taxi in down-town Addis Ababa and into a club where this music is playing. Full disclosure: I’ve never been to Addis Ababa or listened to any Ethiopian music. Paul made some throat-noises, as this is what he presumes happens in Addis Ababian nightclubs.
Track 6: Borderline
This starts as a charming tale of love thriving in the tedium of low-level espionage, but quickly resolves into gibberish. Quite an unorthodox pronunciation of “archipelago”, but I’m sure Mick Jagger has done worse. After a straight-up American 90s college-rock first half we tried to seamlessly weld a 70s psych-rock outro onto the back like a backstreet mechanic. I enjoyed trying to play guitar like Neil Young, anyway.
Track 7: Plane
Another contender for most-Pavementy-song (an attempt to channel Here from Slanted and Enchanted), this was the first song we wrote as a band, and the last one we recorded. Despite playing it for over two years, 6 songs into the session I experienced some sort of studio-induced dementia and had to do star-jumps in the car park until I could remember how to play it again. Paul (producer and long-time friend and collaborator) reminds me that this is the second time I’ve used the line “sold up and moved to Tibet” in a song, which could tell you something (I’ll plagiarise anything: including myself).
I’m glad there’s some funny guitar halfway through. For me, the worst thing that’s happened in music in the last 20 years is the dominance of self-obsessed earnestness – in indie music and X-factor pop. When people talk to each other, they constantly use irony and humour, but when they pick up a guitar or a microphone they so often rely on po-faced seriousness. Whatever happened to Chuck Berry singing about his ding-a-ling?
The Jutes are:
Robin Wilkinson: guitars, vocals, songs, arrangements
Neil Williams: drums, arrangements
Adam Rustidge: bass, keys, percussion, production, engineering, mixing
Dan Holloway: bass inspiration, arrangements
Paul Rustidge: production, engineering, mixing, head of logistics
Recorded at Music Box, Cardiff
Mastered by Charlie Francis at Synergy Mastering