Sawel Underground – Hundred-Sunned Dream Sister I – single review

Sawel Underground is one of the newest bands on the Staffordshire music scene, bringing psychedelic 60s grunge to the working class, industrial city of Stoke-on-Trent.

The four-piece band released a cover of Wild Thing in October 2020, and has followed it up with self-written single Hundred-Sunned Dream Sister I.

Sawel Underground comprises of:

  • Tristan Hale – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Matthew Jones – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Stan Taylor – rhythm/lead guitar
  • Ashleigh Moore – bass guitar
Mert Karakurt

The Staffordshire Moorlands quartet brings an authentic lo-fi quality to their music, with psychedelic-folk influences at the forefront of their sound. They’re clearly fans of the 60s, but still sounding super fresh and new, experimenting with instruments such as the mandolin, auto-harp, harmonica and 12-strings.

The band hit the ground running in 2020 with some local gigs, but when the pandemic struck, live shows were no longer able to go ahead as planned. During this time, they produced the Wild Thing single, alongside a video featuring Alexandra Rose, who we interviewed on The LeopHEARD Podcast. Speaking about Sawel Underground’s latest release, she said: “The single is fantastic. It’s proper psychedelia and really authentic sounding. I think it’s brilliant and they’re very much into the mid-late 60s vibe. Their sound is phenomenal.”

Sawel Underground have plunged themselves into the scene with a definitive sound and distinguished look, adding to the diverse range of artists in the community across the county.

Hundred-Sunned Dream Sister I was released on March 19, and offers a gritty, 60s garage rock sound with a really interesting stereophonic sound. It’s almost like listening to the vocals through a wall. I can imagine a group of go-go girls listening to the band rehearse from the other side of a studio door – it’s a really cool and unique quality in the record.

The 60s was a very visual era, which is mirrored in Sawel Underground’s image, videos and sound – you can almost her Hundred-Sunned Dream Sister I in colour. And this quote from the band’s press pack really spoke to me.

It read: “They felt that the music of North Staffordshire could oppose indie music stylistically, and sound more how the city and surrounding towns look and feel to them. Harsh and derelict, but colourful with a sense of daydreaming fantasy, much like the music of the 60s counterculture in England and America.”

It’s true. Most people can sit and talk Stoke-on-Trent down for hours, largely due to its loss of industry over the years. But people are quick to be ignorant to just how gorgeous of a city it is, from its architecture and culture, to its heritage and landscape. It’s a really vibrant city absolutely buzzing with creativity, and I’m excited to see this translated in their live performances.

The bluesy track also features a self-modified guitar with a ‘sitar-like ring’ which makes you want to put on your biggest sleeves and dance around your front room. Had I discovered Hundred-Sunned Dream Sister I within my dad’s record collection, I’d be nestling it between the obvious choice of The Beatles, and my coveted Fleetwood Mac album.

The band is set to play Your City Festival 2021 this summer, in Hanley, and I look forward to a psych-night with Sawel Underground and Alexandra Rose on the lineup.

 

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