All of us – wherever we are in the world – have just lived through a period of great uncertainty. If you’re a music lover, the best part of the last two years has seen postponed festivals and cancelled gigs & club nights. Add to that tales of interminable queues at pressing plants and the fact that so many of the records you were meant to fall in love with in the warmth and madness of a crowded dancefloor ended up being confined to your headphones. It really feels like we’re all owed a whole lot of fun.
Thankfully, Heavenly Recordings have got this covered. Doing what they’ve always done when gloomy circumstances attempt to dictate the terms, the UK’s most consistently brilliant label have spent the last couple of years nurturing and encouraging and coaxing their artists to collectively pull together the biggest, heaviest, loudest, poppiest, trippiest, rock’n’rolliest set of records possible in order to offer people the best soundtrack to this weird new world we all live in.
It helps that Heavenly’s current roster is up to the task in hand. Over the last few years, the Heavenly family has grown and bloomed, proudly nurturing local talent whilst bringing in the very best from around the world, be it New South Wales, old South Wales, Holland, Holland Park or the glorious Calder Valley.
This year’s Heavenly recordings are the label’s best yet. Releases will straddle everything from cosmic pop to Balearic disco, psychedelic garage rock to underground hip hop, blue eyed soul to multi-lingual art-electro and country rock to country roll. If these records were laid out from morning to middle of the night, they would collectively represent the best stage at any festival, the best frequency on any radio dial.
So, a lot of bold claims. Let’s take a look at the details.
The first Heavenly release of this year collects together the very best of Andrew Weatherall’s productions for the label in one place. Arguably the greatest practitioner of the art of the remix, Weatherall was a constant presence in Heavenly world for the next thirty years. He is missed dearly, every day, and this record is the label’s way of paying tribute. It is the musical equivalent of an illicit after-hours session spent in the Heavenly office, lights down, volume up.
Already scheduled to follow that bass heavy statement of intent are Baxter Dury’s Mr Maserati, which compiles the best songs from his six albums of louche, space-age lounge music released between 2001 and 2021; Mattiel’s third album Georgia Gothic, conceived in a cabin in the woods and visualised as part of the pantheon of bold, innovative music from the eponymous US state and Confidence Man’s long-awaited second album Tilt. Fully immersed in club culture, Tilt is an ultra-modern, universal soundtrack to going out and staying out.
Later in the year, Heavenly will release new music by multi-lingual musical polymath Gwenno; transatlantic psychedelic soundtrack outfit Unloved and questing dream pop trio The Orielles. There will be West Coast sunset sounds, as envisaged in the West Country by Katy J Pearson and perfectly skewed Welsh power pop on H. Hawkline’s first record in five years. And there’s sublime Northern mutant disco on the second album by the most exciting live band in the country, Working Men’s Club.
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of an early ’00s classic – Nada Surf’s Let’s Go – the NYC trio’s timeless third album gets its first ever release on Heavenly vinyl. And to celebrate a never-ending love of horizontal dance music, the label will be releasing a compilation album put together by legendary DJ Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy inspired by her Balearic Breakfast shows on Worldwide FM.
On top of that, there will be more new music from David Holmes (following the immense single It’s Over, If We Run Out Of Love) and a whole load of mind bending sounds from the latest additions to the Heavenly family: experimental digital soul singer Fran Lobo; Scottish small hours techno artist Eyes Of Others and genre-melding Mancunian rapper OneDa.
To help make up for all those lost weekends that we lost out on, there’s the chance to see the Heavenly family up on stage at the inaugural Kite Festival in Oxfordshire in early June. Kite promises to be a festival of ideas and music that will mix live sets by bands and DJs from the label with spoken word sessions from a handful of inspirational authors and friends. Basically feed your head all day, then dance ’til the lights go up.
With a packed release schedule and the first of – hopefully – a summer of outdoor festivals emerging, Heavenly Recordings are here to bring things back to normal. Normal, as in, the biggest, heaviest, loudest, poppiest, trippiest, rock’n’rolliest year they can muster. It will be a whole lot of fun.
Words by Robin Turner, Forever Heavenly.
Robin is also the author of, ‘…Believe In Magic, Heavenly Recordings, The First 30 Years,’ published by White Rabbit Books.
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