The slow-paced and calming psych-folk track “Always Running” is our first exposure to new Shrimper Records act Sloppy Heads and their debut album Useless Smile. The Brooklyn trio comprises Bill the Drummer (aka V. Stiles), Ariella Stok (aka Starmaiden), and Jimmy Jumpjump (aka Frow #1), but their album also features a lot of playing by producer James McNew of Yo La Tengo/Dump fame. Here’s Stok with some extensive background on the song:
“Always Running” was written at home, as so many early Sloppy Heads songs were, and with each other as the sole audience in mind. (This also explains why so many of our early recordings end with someone banging on the door asking us to knock it off.) The lyrics are influenced by a few different unrelated inputs: an encounter with Michael Rother during his visit stateside a few years ago to perform as Neu!, the electronic sound collages of recurring anxiety dreams from Delia Derbyshire’s radio inventions, and the feeling of being at the end of a season, waiting for a change in weather that is taking forever to arrive. Much to the relief of our apartment neighbors, we eventually got a practice space of our own, located on a block in East Williamsburg where we were far from the only musicians: in addition to music venue Shea Stadium next door, there were the Turkish guys across the street who would grill shish kebabs, smoke hookahs, and jam on their traditional instruments almost as late into the night as we’d go. That’s where we recorded this track, encouraged by James, who believed that the uh, intimacy of our practice berth was the perfect environment to capture our sound. He showed up with a mobile studio worth of gear, wired our room, and we recorded the album in a single night. I believe his strategy was based on a premonition that our practice space, or Headsquarters as we call it, was where we were most comfortable, when it was just the 3 of us playing into the wee hours of the night for each other, and as a result, where we would be most likely to give our best. And sure enough, everything we recorded that night, the songs that became our new record, Useless Smile, sound like home to us.
Hear “Always Running” below.
Useless Smile is out 1/20 on Shrimper. Check out Sloppy Heads’ previous limited releases at Bandcamp.