British Psych-Pop band SHIELDS have released their first new track for 2 years. The single ‘Evidence’ came out on 31st August, and is taken from their forthcoming EP ‘Etemenanki’, which will be released on 26th October.
If you have been following SHIELDS on social media since the release of their 2016 debut album ‘How Can We Fix This?’ then you may have noticed something slightly odd about their posts. Rather than populating their social media feeds with news of follow-ups to their critically acclaimed debut (which had support from The Guardian, MOJO and Consequence of Sound, amongst others), virtually everything they have posted over the last two years has been news of releases from otherartists. However, there is a perfectly good explanation for this – those artists have been releasing their tracks on the label that SHIELDS founded.
SHIELDS set up the record label and artist management company Kaleidoscope in late 2015, essentially as a vehicle to release their first album. Following that release, the band started to receive demo submissions from artists looking for guidance and a route to release their own tracks. In the two and a half years that have followed, Kaleidoscope has picked up artists from both the UK and overseas, and is fast approaching 30 releases over that time span. Their artists include Callum Pitt, who has attracted widespread industry attention, piqued by tastemaker blogs like DIY, Crack In The Road, and Dork. His releases have featured on Spotify’s coveted ‘New Music Friday’ playlists across Europe, garnering 2 million plays in the process, and secured radio play from BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6Music. The label has also put out tracks by London-based folkartist Grace Gillespie, whose debut release saw her featured in NME and handed a BBC Introducing session, and fellow Newcastle-natives Penguin, whose only release to date features gritty alt-rocktracks which landed them on Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show and secured spots at Reading & Leeds Festival in 2017.
Explaining the decision to focus more on developing their label, rather than on releasing their own material, over the last two years, singer and guitarist Luke Elgie said:
“It kind of happened by accident, if I’m totally honest! We were sent a demo by a band from London called Organised Scum, just after they’d been on Tom Robinson’s BBC 6Music show alongside us. We never really intended to set up a label, but we all really loved the tracks they sent us, so figured we might as well use the label apparatus we’d built to help them get a few tracks out. That led to them getting quite a bit of blog coverage, as well as some shows in the UK and New York, and suddenly we were busy managing another band. While that was happening, we got an email from Callum Pitt, asking if he could send us a demo – he’s a very polite gent! – and we said it’d almost certainly be a waste of time as we were trying to get focus back on our own stuff. But when we heard his demo we were blown away, and knew we had to work with him! So, by that point, we were well on the way to building a roster!”
The decision to work with other acts, however, seems to be paying off for SHIELDS – their roster now includes some of the UKs ‘buzz’ artists, and the company opened it’s first office in April in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley, which incorporates a writing, recording and rehearsal space.
SHIELDS’ new track ‘Evidence’ is the first single taken from the EP, and demonstrates SHIELDS’ incredible knack for creating immediate, catchy alt-pop. Driven by funky guitars and bass, the track’s lyrics also seem to perfectly capture the zeitgeist, espousing a frustration at not being able to believe a word they hear, with the chorus’ vocal hook repeatedly demanding to be shown ‘the evidence’. It’s difficult not to connect this directly to the post-truth era ushered in during the band’s musical absence by Brexit and Trump. The track’s guitar solos offer an explosive musical release to this frustration, and remind us of the incredible technical ability that has seen the band draw comparisons to Everything Everything and Wild Beasts in the national press.