(Make Me A) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 104: The Hepburns

THE HEPBURNS were born in the Welsh city of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire county. They formed in January 1985 and have recorded 11 albums, four singles and four BBC sessions in their 32-year career. They also toured the US and Scandinavia in 2017. Born of the post-punk, indie boom of the early-80s, but with their roots in the 1960s, their sound is an amalgam of indie guitar pop with Burt Bacharach, Jake Thackray, and Jonathan Richman as references. Their first full length, The Magic Of The Hepburns came out in 1988 on Cherry Red. After that they started their own label, Magic Records, and in 1989 released the single Electrified (From Countryside To City). In 1989, they also recorded Road Movie, but adverse situations led to the album never coming out (until more recently, when it was released in digital format in 2017) and to a decade-long silence. Then in 2000, Radio Khartoum offered them the infrastructure and support that the group needed, and they released Champagne Reception. In 2003, The Last Thing I Saw Before I Said Goodbye came out and Something Worth Stealing arrived in 2007. The following year, they released Trojan Hearse, a somewhat atypical album on the Welsh label Bendigedig Records. In 2010 How The Fallen Are Mighty came out, back with Radio Khartoum. Seven more years would pass for the next album to arrive: There’s No Such Things As The Hepburns. In 2018 In The Mean Time came out; it was the last album released to date with Radio Khartoum. In 2020, they self-released an album based on stories of the people from Llanelli, the place where they were born, Electric Lliedi Land. In 2021 they released Architecture Of The Ages on Elefant Records, with the vocal collaboration of Estella Rosa (the singer for NAH and SAPHIRE & STEEL) and, again with her contribution, a new album, Only The Hours, will come out March 4th on Lavender Sweep Records. Along with their leader, songwriter and founder Matt Jones, current line up is: Estella Rosa, Mike Thomas, Les Mun and A.D. Clement.

What Estella Says: ” When I met Matt I knew that The Hepburns had recorded a 20 track album in 2018 that ended up in the freezer. When I finally heard the whole thing I suggested releasing it asap since it was such a thing of beauty. So, we ended up taken 5 weaker tracks out to make it a very strong album. My vocals were added and the guitar of Andrew Clement as we recently joined the club. The stunning result is the Only The Hours album: a soundtrack to a bleak 60 spy film with the likes of Barry and Morricone as an inspiration. It’s a wonderful follow up the Architecture of the Ages, although it is a bit darker. On The Parcels is a sophisticated working class rant (we need those)”

Their Mixtape: “Here is our list! Matt’s are older songs and mine relatively new and pretty different genres, although I love everything that Matt likes. The songs I chose are more psychedelic dream pop which is probably out of everything I listen to, the music I feel is closest to my heart and mind.” (Estella)

Estella’s songs:

Keith Canisius – LSD

Underrated Danish electronic wizard. This song is an example of psychedelic shoegazey pop at its best! It’s like shimmery sunlight through half closed eyelids… That guitar send shivers down my spine! Never tried LSD btw…

Bolinas – Vacation: 

This song is one of my favs of all time. There’s something irresistible about that guitar like calm lapping waves, the psychey vocals, and those Beach Boys harmonies and the subtle pitch changes. I want to live in this song!

Men I Trust – Porcelain: 

Really hard to pick a favourite Men I Trust song but this one is darkness & sweetness at the same time. Gossamer and spooky! That jangle part at the end is just something else..

King Krule – The Ooz: 

I absolutely adore King Krule. He is super intense and talented beyond. His productions are pure sonic poetry, but “unplugged” the experience never diminishes. It was very hard to pick between The Cadet LeapsAlone/Omen3 and this. I would like his music at my funeral: it makes me think of being stuck on an endless London Tube ride at night, looking out at the strange world passing by.
Is anybody out there
I don’t know why
I searched for you
Could we align
And could we meet here
Until the end of time”

Matt’s songs:

Burt Bacharach – Not Goin’ Home Anymore (Reprise)

From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid soundtrack. Nobody ever moved me with a melody the way Burt did. When this song plays at the start of the Butch Cassidy film, I’m filled with joy and sadness at the same time. Bittersweet beauty. 

St John’s Wort – My Kind of Love 

Stella posted this on the Sophistipop Lounge FB page and I was blown away by the freshness and honesty of the lead vocals, but also by the gorgeousness of the arrangement with its mellow brass and vibes. How can a song be simple and sophisticated? Like this!

Matching Mole – O, Caroline

Apart from the killer melody and chords, I also love the stunning honesty and directness of the lyrics, Robert Wyatt saying to his ex-beloved that his thoughts and even the very song he is singing would be much more together if she were around to help him focus. One of my favourite ever tunes, can’t listen to it in the morning or it’s in my head all day!

The Divine Comedy – Songs of Love 

Another theme tune, another lyric about writing songs, another of my all-time favourite tunes. The maestro Hannon implores us to ‘sing while we still can, while the sun hangs high up above’. Sage advice and a harpsichord solo to boot – ‘Take me!’ 

Only The Hours will be out March 4th on Lavender Sweep RecordsLook HERE for more information on The Hepburns.


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