My Sad Captains
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My Sad Captains

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We would imagine that the usual reactions to seeing, or thinking you’ve seen, a ghost to include; screaming, running, or even calling a fictional film-inspired group of ghost hunting protagonists. But for Ed Wallis, the natural reaction was to sit down, muse and write a song.

After the lead singer of My Sad Captains, and non-believer, saw his first ghostly apparition, Ed decided to scrawl this new single to elucidate the notion of challenging various beliefs.

Yet, rather than haunting chords and spooky spine-tingling vocals, ‘Ghost Song’ is bursting with upbeat Indie melodies. It combines uplifting Folky guitars with lyrics that exude an endearing sort of simplicity, reminiscent to that of The Shins, to create a harmless, yet charming, musical treat.

And whilst after a few listens, the track, although catchy, has the potential to conjure waves of apathy in its innate hollowness, the five free b-sides that come with the single, demonstrate that these melancholy Sea men have a lot more depth than the title track suggests.

‘Make Your Mark’, a truly standout four minutes, effortlessly captivates the listener with Ed’s vocals sounding raspy and tortured as he reveals "You dislocated my heart / You’ve really made your mark", in a way that articulates all the physical hurt of a break up with a painful style of accuracy. Similarly ‘Change of Scenery’, showcases the band’s both musical and lyrical darker side and draws inevitable comparisons of the band with the likes of Broken Social Scene and Iron and Wine.

Whilst new single, ‘Ghost Song’, is a frivolous and upbeat three minutes, perfect for the season, My Sad Captains’ most successful outputs seem to be the ones which are, well, sad. They scale the depths of human emotions in a way that appears completely unforced and simultaneously lace their lyrics with a unique illusion of simplicity. Something that would seem a winning formula and a beguiling quality. -

Having being impressed by the Captains at their many London gigs, it’s great to finally have a collection of their songs on record. First thing you notice is the clarity of the record – every instrument separate and distinct – and even though they’ve included both sides of their two singles to date, all the songs are re-recorded and, in the case of ‘Bad Decisions’, overhauled: slowed down and stringed up so it becomes more stately orchestral pop. It’s obvious that much thought has gone into sequencing the record, so placing ‘Great Expectations’ in pole position creates a general air of romantic melancholy and longing that lingers through the album.

Although certain songs leap out at you – future single ‘Good To Go’ is the poppiest thing they’ve ever done – the album as a whole has a more subtle, incremental effect that takes a while to win you over. But it will, in time; it’s still introspective American- influenced pop, with a strong Pavement/ Sparklehorse feel, although on ‘The Sum Total of Everything’ they engage their inner Sonic Youth for some guitar pyrotechnics. ‘Ghost Song’ has the cool effervescence of a Pavement song with a brilliant collection of non-sequiturs for lyrics and ‘Here and Everywhere’, much polished since it appeared on the b-side of the debut single, is a gleaming gem of melancholic pop. And having established a mood over the course of the album, they then change it with the wistful comedown song ‘A Change of Scenery’.

There’s a more worrying element to the record, it has to be said. While they’ve taken advantage of a decent studio to embellish their songs, they indulge their prog-rock tendency a little too much on ‘Bad Decisions’ and especially the tricksy ‘You Talk All Night’ with its electronic twizzles and piano trills. That’s the only complaint I’d make about this otherwise excellent debut; ‘less is more’ seems the best advice when they do the straightforward pop so well. -

London based 5-piece My Sad Captains have been quietly plying their trade for the last couple of years, releasing two highly sought after 7"s before this first full length on one of the shops favourite labels, Stolen Recordings.

A delicately wrought blend of male and female vocals, sitting sweetly on top of sparkling, jangly guitars, warm organs and a remarkably deft sense of melody.

Recalling the bittersweet memories of childhood summers, and the yearning of love and loss, but with a definite sense of joy amongst the moments of reflection. A melodic indie-pop classic in the making. - Rough Trade

Back in autumn last year, I went to see the War on Drugs, a fantastic combination of squalling feedback, Springsteen-propulsion and sun-baked Americana. They had presumably arrived on these shores feeling like conquerors, with a few of their own dates scattered their big gig supporting the now all-conquering Hold Steady. Well, Tad Kubler’s pancreas put paid to that (you could say it Almost Killed him. Hah!), forcing the fist-pumping Berryman-fanciers to postpone their Britannic excursion, and therefore stranding the War on Drugs on these grey shores without their promised big break and with just a handful of disparate headlining gigs.

And thus was the slightly drizzling mood which gripped Brixton as me and my friend trudged to the Windmill to indulge in the escapism you get from hearing songs written for clear blue skies and rolling American deserts. But we got moved long before we expected to be; after a couple of predictably awful support bands, My Sad Captains took the stage, looking slightly awkward and entirely unmatched to the sub-Oasis pub rock that had gone before or the transcendentalist shimmering thunder that was presumably to follow.

Now, roll with me a second - mainstream British guitar indie music is more or less dead. Pointless post-Libertines idiots like The Kooks, The Pigeon Detectives, The Enemy and others shamble around like retarded mammoths, mining the Kinks/Joy Division/Smiths playbook for whatever discarded crumbs still remain within. It’s clearly time to mine a new seam of influence, or to play it safe - several. Which brings me on to My Sad Captains’ debut album Here and Elsewhere. They sound a good deal like lots of music you’ve heard already, but it’s difficult to put your finger on what exactly. Sure, singer Ed Wallis‘ voice has a resemblance to a certain Mr. Malkmus, but the guitars are softer and less wonky than Pavement’s, while the keyboards and soft female backing vocals make it all sound a little bit twee.

But then I swear title track, ‘Here and Elsewhere’ quotes the opening theme to hit snooker-based gameshow Big Break, and the shuffling percussion and chiming piano in ‘You Talk All Night’ evokes The National’s actual modern classic Boxer. I just don’t know where it’s all coming from! What I do know, however, is that every song is distinctive and barely takes one listen to get stuck in your head. And ‘All Hats No Plans’ is, minus a lame advertising campaign and some intensive radio-play, a top ten hit waiting to happen.

Hopefully this band is going places. They’re playing SXSW in a few weeks, they have this fantastic debut album and keyboardist Cathy Lucas is a potential indie-pop poster girl in the vein of Amelia Fletcher or Isobel Campbell; all baggy jumper and cool/uncool hair. I have no idea what their distribution is going to be like, but in this digital futureground of instant pornography and virtual burglaries, I’m sure you’ll be able to track it down somehow. Just make sure you do get your hands on it for a great slice of vaguely melancholic exquisitely-sculpted guitar pop. And then tell your friends. Come on, it’s time to slay landfill indie for good, and there’s finally a band with the potential mass-appeal, cardigans and most importantly, the melodies to do it. Who’s with me? - Muso's Guide

A slice of indie-pop loveliness from Londoners who possibly wish they’d met at some cool stateside college and geeked out in the corner of the lunch-hall over Pavement b-sides and country-rock along the lines of Lambchop and Calexico. That they didn’t, and subsequently sign a massive deal with Sub Pop or some similarly super-cool label, is to our benefit as now we can pick up this limited 7” and be all ‘told you so’ a year from now when My Sad Captains are lauded as highly as any of the aforementioned. A great little release deserving a wide audience. - Drowned in Sound

Think a slowed-down Favours For Sailors, on downers...or something. A soothingly deep voice, big melodies, jolly choruses is what My Sad Captains do best. Moderately jangling guitars, too. Granted, most indie-pop (aside from miserabalists such as Hefner) has that 'Summery' feeling, but Here & Elsewhere is the type of album you'd stick on to soundtrack a boating trip to Regent's Park - or maybe Windemere for those of a Northern persuasion - on a May bank holiday weekend. Female doo-wah-ooh-wah backing pop up occasionaly to reinforce this notion. - Drowned in Sound

This month’s round-up of the latest acts to tickle our fancy concludes with a band that’s been around a while, but is only now finding its feet proper and making tracks in the right direction. My Sad Captains echo the work of Fanfarlo somewhat, and that’s understandable as they share members; like the songs of said sibling combo theirs are tender and melancholic, yet strangely triumphant too. Think: Yo La Tengo’s indie-pop savvy, Pavement at their sweetest, and a touch of Broken Social Scene. Their recent double-A single ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘All Hat And No Plans’ received the DiS seal of approval upon its release in March; so impressed were we, in fact, that the five-piece were immediately asked to perform at our monthly DiScover Club. - Drowned In Sound

London's best kept musical secret and soon to be huge My Sad Captains' debut single 'Bad decisions' is not just simply catchy. 'Catchy' doesn't quite cut it, neither would 'infectious' - both superlatives I'm sure will be piled upon them. No, I'd probably have to go for 'dangerously addictive' - seriously, kiss any other soundtracks to your summer goodbye once you're heard those opening "ba ba ba ba's".
But there's a lot more to the 'Captains than surface addiction. The London quintet have managed to effectively boil all the best bits of Sparklehorse, Pavement and Yo La Tengo down to their most vital and engaging elements so that not a single note is wasted. Each cowbell or guitar solo is measured to nothing short of perfection while all the while accompanied by a genuinely affecting air of melancholy and emotion.
B-Side 'Here and Elsewhere' finds us in slightly more mournful, down beat territory but no less lean or controlled. It's the band proving themselves just as capable of heartfelt balladeering as summery pop the song is a wistful and endearing exercise in downbeat reflection. Throw in a rather tasty percussive break down and some truly gorgeous boy / girl harmonies and you've pretty much got the best band to kick your summer off as you could wish for. - Rockfeedback

Following their infectious debut single, My Sad Captains return with another slice of perfectly executed indie pop, reconfirming their position as one of the nations best kept musical secrets.
A Side 'All Hat and No Plans' gets straight to the point with a deftly anthemic chorus and neatly infectious vocal hook. Full of intent, forceful syncopations and rocked up guitars, the songs a great documentation of their more joyous live performances. It's also got future classic written all over it.
'Great Expectations' slowly materialises through a haze of sleigh bells and ukulele into a slick, country tinged hoe down reminiscent of Wilco at their most concise and Belle and Sebastian at their nostalgic best.
Both songs greatest strengths however ultimately lies in their air of rusty euphoria - the sense you get that the songs won't leave your memory for some time to come. It's the sound of a quiet smile shared with a new love, a bad week finally coming together or, according to the band's video, ecstatic fisherman joined in dancefloor union with oversized seagulls.
Most of all however it's further proof that the band's imminent debut album should be something very special indeed. - Rockfeedback

They may sound like they wear navy cardigans and cravats, attend Sunday School for kicks and their idea of a sick party is a picnic but this lot join the pantheon of indie groups that sound wet as fuck but are actually rather fine. Boy-girl harmonies ala Los Camp! (minus the grating lyrics) added to a Stuart Murdoch-like knack for melody and twisted wit equals a debut rich in tunes and skippedy-doo-dah fun. Yippee! - Liverpool Daily Post


Bad Decisions - Single (Fortuna POP! FPOP74)
All Hat and No Plans/Great Expectations (Double A Side 7"/Digital Single, White Heat Records OPE030)
A Change of Scenery (Digital Single, Stolen Recordings)
Good to Go - (Digital Single, Stolen Recordings)
Here & Elsewhere - Album (Stolen Recordings SR027)
Ghost Songs - EP (Stolen Recordings SR033)



Recorded in a warehouse in London's Seven Sisters but dreaming of the great American indie outdoors, My Sad Captains’ long anticipated debut album 'Here & Elsewhere' was released in June 2009 on the acclaimed Stolen Recordings (Pete and the Pirates, Let’s Wrestle).

Described by the Rough Trade Album Club as "a melodic indie pop classic in the making", it takes you along side roads and back streets, revealing its charms and becoming more satisfying the more time you spend with it. In an age of the transient, it's a record that's built to last.

Shimmering samples, clattering drums, sweet harmonies, and bursts of banjo and piano embellish Ed Wallis’ subtle and heartwarming songs, which echo the off-kilter pop of Sparklehorse, Pavement, Wilco and Elliott Smith.

They’ve performed at South By Southwest, The Great Escape and End of the Road, been played on the radio by the great and the good – as well as sessions for John Kennedy on XFM and Marc Riley on BBC6 Music, Steve Lamacq has made their last two releases his single of the week. Support has also come from Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1; Gideon Coe on BBC 6Music; Radcliffe and Maconie on BBC Radio 2; Nic Harcourt on KCRW’s influential Morning Becomes Eclectic show.

Named after a poem by Anglo-American writer Thom Gunn, the band consists of singer/songwriter Ed Wallis, younger brother Jim (drums, singing), Nick Goss (guitar, samples), and Jack Swayne (bass guitar). The album was recorded by Paul ( Stolen ) Jones.

‘One of the capital’s best kept secrets’ – The Fly

'Slacker indie-pop sensibilities that herald an inevitable radio takeover' – Uncut

'Yo La Tengo’s indie-pop savvy, pavement at their sweetest, and a touch of broken social scene'- DrownedinSound

'English pop songwriting with a charming nonchalance and great taste in jumpers' –Rockfeedback