The Lodger formed in 2004. After 3 sold-out limited 7″s (“Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion” on Dance to the Radio, “Watching” on Double Dragon, and “Let Her Go” on Angular Records), the band released their magnificent debut album “Grown-Ups” in June 2007 on Angular Records in the UK and Slumberland Records in the US, drawing comparisons with Orange Juice, The Wedding Present and Heavenly. The second album, “Life Is Sweet” was released in May 2008 and the third, “Flashbacks” in April 2010.
Since then Ben Siddal was involved in some other projects, until 2020 when the original line-up of The Lodger reunited to record a new album, “Cul-De-Sac of Love“, a gem which came out in March, eleven years after their previous one.
What Ben from The Lodger says:
In early 2020 before anyone had any idea what was lurking around the corner, me Joe (bass) and Bruce (drums) had been discussing the possibility of recording some of the songs I’d written in the ten years since we’d last done anything. I sifted through some old hard drives and found there were around 40 demos of unreleased songs, so using the wonders of WhatsApp we democratically whittled those down to 15 or so songs to record. We got together in early March 2020 in Bruce’s shed and recorded the rhythm tracks to these songs just before Lockdown 1 hit the UK. I then spent the rest of last Summer adding the guitars, keyboards, vocals etc. and mixing the album at home. It’s the first album of my own stuff that I’ve produced myself.
Nightshift: Spray Paint The Bridge
I must admit I’ve not been great with keeping up with new releases lately but due to our new songs getting added to a load of playlists, I’ve accidentally discovered a fair few gems. I don’t know much about this band other than they seem to be a “supergroup” of sorts with someone from Spinning Coin in it. I need to check out the album as this song is ace. It’s also got woodwind in it (think it’s clarinet?) which is a much underused texture in pop/rock music – I love those times on Julian Cope or Blur songs when Kate St John appeared on cor anglais for example.
The Laughing Chimes: Try To Change My Mind
I’m totally charmed by this. From what I can gather it’s a couple of teenage brothers from Ohio who made this album at home as a school project. It’s a curious paradox as it seems to be a mixture of both youthful naivete and managing to nail your jangly reference points so precisely that it sounds like it could actually be some lost 80s Paisley Underground album. Kind of like a poppier early REM. Makes me think of the Left Banke too with that sophistication beyond their years. Really interested to see where they take this next. I wish I’d have had a janglepop class at school too.
The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness: Play (On My Mind)
More 12-string Rickenbacker (I assume?) jangly goodness. I know little about this band either but again, they’ve entered my orbit via playlists that we’ve also been on. Just straightforward good old bright and sunny powerpop stuff akin to the Fannies, Big Star and The Byrds.
XTC: The Mayor Of Simpleton
Now for the oldies. I could’ve chosen a number of different XTC songs, such is the rich well that is their back catalogue. I went for this one because although it’s an Andy song, it’s the best of both worlds because it also features one of Colin’s best basslines – McCartney-esque in the way that it’s constantly moving about and is ridiculously melodic. It’s almost like another song inside this song. I love the lyrics as well – a simple and familiar message delivered with a different slant.
Kirsty MacColl: Caroline
I picked this because it’s a bit of a lesser-known Kirsty track but it could’ve easily been “They Don’t Know” or “Terry” or any number of others. She’s obviously mostly widely known for “Fairytale of New York” or her cover of “A New England” but she was a fantastic songwriter in her own right too. She was also a brilliant singer creating harmonies and countermelodies with overdubs of her own voice and her lyrics were also really good, like Kinksian snapshots of normal life through her own unique magnifying glass. What a tragic loss. This song is a bit like a pisstake of “Jolene”.
Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs: Different Drum
I became a bit obsessed with this song during the making of our new album. For those that don’t know, it was written by Mike Nesmith of the Monkees and made famous by Linda Ronstadt’s first group Stone Poneys in the late 60s but it has been covered many times by artists such as Lemonheads, PP Arnold and many more. It’s a song that’s pretty much impossible to get wrong and I’m convinced at this stage that it is in fact, perfect. I chose this one because I love Susanna Hoffs’ voice. I’m a massive Bangles fan.
Yazoo: Only You
I chose this one because I think it’s possibly the one song ever written that’s better than Different Drum! The juxtaposition of the icy cold monophonic synths and the minimalist arrangement with the enormous and rich bluesy voice of Alison Moyet is a stroke of genius. I think a common thread with all my favourite songs is that they’re not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves and there’s an honesty and a simplicity. Pop music should be like that, feel like it’s speaking directly to you through the speaker cone and transport you somewhere else for 3 minutes.