Yo Zushi + Tom Mayne + Ross Palmer
Yo Zushi’s music career started well – his first ever demo won a Dazed & Confused award, Mary Anne Hobbs of BBC Radio 1 called him “the spirit of Bob Dylan for the 20th century” and his then band Great Days of Sail supported Joanna Newsom, the Magic Numbers, Willy Mason and others. As a solo artist on Pointy Records, he released two country pop records and tagged along playing gigs with the likes of Scritti Politti, Patrick Wolf and Micah P Hinson. But that was the mid-2000s, and after a decade of bankrupting small labels with almost deliberately uncommercial albums, he is releasing his latest collection, King of the Road, on his own new label, TWGDOYP Records. “I was catapulted from total obscurity to relative obscurity, but now I’m absolutely obscure,” says Zushi.
Today better known as an obscure journalist, he is a new father and broke. It has been three years since his last album, It Never Entered My Mind, bankrupted Eidola Records – a new label that, like everyone, had hopes and dreams. It was Eidola’s first CD release. And its last.
In the past few years, Yo Zushi has written several hundred songs, mostly country and folk. “I’ll release those, too, some day. But King of the Road – mostly recorded in 2016 but finished this year – is a different sort of thing,” he says. “I’ve always listened to a lot of rock: Pavement, Elliott Smith, Todd Rundgren, Paul Westerberg. This album exists more in that world than in my usual honkytonk of Willie and Waylon. Both of those places are home to me.” King of the Road is Zushi’s first full pop record, and the single “Home at Last” was released at the end of July, receiving airplay on BBC 6 Music. But Zushi will probably play country songs tonight and ignore the new album, which won’t bankrupt him as tape releases are cheap.
“This could be the start of something major” – ****, Q
“A masterclass in storytelling” – Dazed & Confused
*****, Amelia’s Magazine
“Warmly satisfying, like a Richard Hawley with knowing winks” – ***, Q
“A gentle zephyr of a country-folk record” – 6/10, Graeme Thomson, Uncut
Scrappy Hood has won a prize for his work as a playwright, and so has to be elsewhere tonight – congratulations! Filling in will be his Blang Records label mate Tom Mayne of UK antifolkers David Cronenberg’s Wife, appearing as a solo act.
With several BBC 6 Music sessions and three albums under their belt, DCW returned to the studio in 2018 to record a new EP, made up of current live favourites such as “Rules” and previously unrecorded songs including “You Should See” and “The Dude of Love”. Having supported the likes of the Fall, the Fat White Family and the Nightingales, their live shows remain one of the London scene’s most vital alternative rock experiences.
Mayne composes the songs and, despite possessing only seven fingers (a congenital deformity humorously represented on the front cover of the new EP), he also plays the guitar. With influences ranging from the Birthday Party to Jonathan Richman, DCW’s songs swing between the sweet and the disturbing. Their strength lies in the way you’re never quite sure what side you’re going to get – DCW never play the same set twice. Whether they are playing acoustic twisted lullabies or in-your-face electric hollers, the lyrics catch you off-guard with their openness, black humour and off-the-wall themes.
After releasing his quietly assured Last Swallow EP earlier this year, London-based singer-songwriter Ross Palmer is now in the final stages of completing his debut album. In his two decades of live and recorded music, Palmer has played across genres (from metal-infused folk to straight country), much of it as a core band member of acts such as James McKean and the Blueberry Moon. He is now putting his own music front and centre, performing across the UK as a solo act or as part of a duo with partner Melanie Crew. Palmer is Yo Zushi’s long-time producer-in-chief, and made “King of the Road” what it is. He is the author of the music blog Songs from So Deep.
“Great songs. Great talent” – Doug Welch, BBC Kent
“Brilliant” – Tony Fisher, BBC Essex