Longfellow live in South London. They consist of Owen Lloyd (vocals), James Thomas (guitar), Ali Hetherington (keyboards), Lewis Fowler (bass) and Tom Warhurst (drums). ‘Prelude’ is an early-career-defining mini-album release which collects together their three digital singles released since last summer and contextualises (if you will) a gently hectic first year for this most fresh-faced of bands.
On June 11th 2013 Longfellow played their debut show in this formation at the Highbury Buffalo Bar for Club Fandango. The subsequent trio of singles were ‘Gabrielle’ (released July 2013 on their own label), ‘Siamese Lover’ (released February this year on Label Fandango) and ‘Kiss-Hug-Make Up’ (launched in May on fierce panda). ‘Prelude’ throws in the b-sides to all the singles (‘May The Light’, ‘The Convent’ and ‘Wolf Cry’ respectively), adds a couple of band favourites in ‘Polaroid’ and ‘Lullaby’ and gets ready to crumble.
For these are thoroughly sensitive souls, often described as epic purveyors of melodically charged alt.pop. With Longfellow it’s all about art-on-sleeve emoting, where passion outwits fashion and no chorus is ever knowingly undersold. All eight of these tracks were painstakingly home-recorded in a bedroom on Brockley Road, Lewisham, as were the other 30 or so stadia-sized songs they have quietly stockpiled in SE4.
Last Halloween Longfellow supported Keane at a special birthday show at Tunbridge Wells Forum. Barely one week later they were first on at the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston with gothic indie tykes Desperate Journalist. That brace of wildly differing shows kick-started a remarkable six month-long run of radio activities which saw ‘Siamese Lover’ heartily endorsed by Steve Lamacq on 6 Music and Jo Whiley on Radio 2 while Longfellow were nominated Introducing Band Of The Week by Huw Stevens on Radio 1.
Then came a trip to SXSW at the behest of the BBC Introducing team, with an Austin showcase alongside Thumpers, Royal Blood and Public Service Broadcasting – a show which led directly to an American release for this ‘Prelude’ mini-album. And then third single ‘Kiss-Hug-Make Up’ saw the band multitasking to a manic degree, hitching up to the Radio 2 playlist for three weeks leading up to a special fierce panda X-posure show for Xfm’s John Kennedy at Camden Barfly on May 20th. Now that’s what we call airwave entertainment.
Throw in a string of handsomely received industry shows with Breakout at the Lexington, with Music Week at the Black Heart and with Killing Moon at the Barfly – Longfellow are nothing if not organised – and it swiftly becomes apparent that here we have a band for several seasons. June alone sees them headline Music Week’s media-heavy Radar night in Chelsea, play a special low key birthday show at Camden Black Heart and then nip back to NW1 for a slot at Camden Crawl. Real music 4 real people? Oh, go on then…
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