Exploring Deltasonic - One of the UK’s Classic Noughties Indie Labels | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, June 17th, 2024  


Exploring Deltasonic - One of the UK’s Classic Noughties Indie Labels

With a new release out last month, a new website and a renewed vigour it is time that Deltasonic was reappraised as one of the UK’s classic labels.

Oct 24, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Music nostalgia is often a reductive thing, lumping acts into scenes that don’t really exist, smoothing off the edges and ignoring the more esoteric aspects of artists’ output.

The 2000s indie scene suffers from this hugely. It’s all “indie sleaze” (something that never existed and still doesn’t), the skinny-jeans “rock n roll” resurrection of the Strokes and the Libertines and lumping everything vaguely guitar-driven into the same landfill envelope. But, as with any era, there was much more going on when you scratch the surface. In fact, what is presented as the story of noughties indie makes it seem like a slightly one-dimensional time, there’s a reason Birmingham’s Misty’s Big Adventure coined it “the Bland Age”. But there was so much more going on.

Floating in and out of the mainstream, the artists released on Liverpool’s Deltasonic channelled the cosmos through a Liverpudlian lens. Their ‘cosmic Scouse’ and ‘scallydelica’ sounds, while having big pop hits, created a rich seam of expansive music that drew a line back to classic psychedelia.

Liverpool always stands apart from the rest of the UK, defiantly unique and at times seemingly like its own nation, and Alan Wills’ (former drummer with Shack and Top) label represented that in sonic form, releasing some of the most interesting records to come out of the UK up till his untimely death in 2014. The music of the Coral, the Zutons, Candie Payne, the Mountaineers and others created a new Liverpool sound that danced with the popular indie sound of the time but with its own direction.

After Wills’ death, the label continued to develop young artists from ground level, with the flurry of activity with bands like The Little Flames and a load of reissues in 2015/2016, with sporadic activity since. Now they have a new album by a new signing to reinvigorate the label.

Looking over to Ireland, and multi-instrumentalist McKowski for their latest release Notes From The Boneyard the label taps its usual psych style into alternative Americana (the album features Giant Sand’s Howie Gleb). The instrumental album enthralls with its floating atmospheric folk where McKowski blends acoustic guitars, strings, analog synths and electronic toys to create an evocative and haunting journey.

Now with a brand new website (created in partnership with Bandtheme) reflecting the label’s unique visual identity and catalogue and the McKowski album which came out last month, Deltasonic is back in a big way and a label worth looking at again.

8 records to introduce yourself to Deltasonic Records

Mountaineers - Mountaineers (later renamed the Red Thong EP

Before they moved to Mute Records for their self-titled EP and their exemplary Messy Century album, psych explorers Mountaineers first released the critically acclaimed Red Thong EP on Deltasonic. Even at this earliest moment, the band sounded like nothing else around with their collision of psychedelic pop, electronic experimentation and quirky folk. Still one of the most underrated acts from the turn of the century, Mountaineers helped define what Deltasonic would be.

The Coral - The Coral

Ahhh, “Dreaming of You”! One of those ubiquitous, played-everywhere indie singles. Everyone knows it. It’s a catchy earworm. Its problem is that it does the hyper-eclectic, genre-hopping debut album from The Coral a massive disservice. Tapping the early noughties indie bounce into 60s psych-folk like The Byrds and Love. early Pink Floyd and even sea shanties, the self-titled album is never easy to place. At the time the exceptional band Clinic called them one of their favourite bands, and who are we to disagree with them! Delve deeper than the hit single and one of the most interesting albums of that period will unfold.

The Zutons - Who Killed The Zutons

Their second album Tired of Hanging Around would yield “Valerie” (yes that one that was a massive, uber hit for Amy Winehouse) but it was this debut that captured The Zutons as masters of off-kilter pop. The louch, psych-rockabilly of “Dirty Dancehall” offsets the banging singles “Pressure Point” and “You Will You Won’t” which adopt the era-penchant for sing-along anthems without becoming pedestrian (Kaiser Chiefs I’m looking at you). It’s a mess of ideas made whole in the most accessible way.

Candie Payne - I Wish I Could Have Loved You More

A real late noughties cult classic, it is baffling why this lush and brooding album didn’t connect more at the time. Just taking the title track alone with its noir, 60s chamber pop, John Barry soundtrack rhythms and restricted soul emotions is worth your time alone - it’s a standout track from the time. It’s classic 60s pop repurposed through the Deltasonic lens and it is packed with absolute bangers. If you’ve not discovered this one yet, you’re in for a treat.

The Coral - Magic and Medicine

After the success of their debut, it would have been easy for The Coral to return with more of the same, but they came back with a darker, moodier album. The critical-acclaim lessened but the exceptional songcraft and melodic charm kept the sales going with a few hit singles in the mix. While this might not be their classic (they have arguably released better albums since), this is a band establishing themselves as masters of their art on that difficult second album.

The Longcut - A Call and Response

This vastly underrated trio represented Deltasonic’s step away from Liverpool, which is understandable when you hear this debut album from the Manchester band. Connecting the dots from the city’s dark post-punk sounds to the baggy era (and everything in between), A Call and Response is an expansive, epic indie album with electronic flourishes. As good as similar contemporaries like Editors, The Longcut are one of the best bands of the era that few people are aware of.

The Vryll Society - Course of the Satellite

A real gem from latter-era Deltasonic The Vryll Society took the psych-pop even further into the cosmos with healthy lashings of expansive Krautrock. With one of the best rhythm sections active at the time, and a new lush take on what we’d come to expect from the label’s output, it is strange that the commercial acclaim for this band never matched the critical acclaim. If retro psych vibes is your thing The Vryll Society could be your favourite new band.

The Longcut - Arrows

While their debut is great, The Longcut’s final album, 2018’s Arrows is something else. Delving further into electronics with digital beats and synth stabs, whilst retaining the punch of their indie roots this album is a masterwork. Sitting somewhere between electronic post-rock and dancefloor indie every aspect of this album is HUGE, a totally underrated classic.

Find out more about Deltasonic Records at their Official Website


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