“Shut Eye” is the truly beguiling new single from Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep and the first track to be taken from their much-anticipated debut album which is due for release late summer.
What’s in the water up on Merseyside? It’s as if there’s an endless source of almost psychedelic otherness running deep beneath the place. It’s a source that’s bubbled up as the rumblings grew from the Cavern Club and it’s there washing up against the feet of Antony Gormley’s Crosby Beach installation. It’s there in the music of everyone from the La’s to Ladytron; an off-kilter wonder that sets the place and its art apart from the rest of the country.
Stealing Sheep are very much a group channelling that source. You could hear it in their first recordings, released collectively as the Noah & The Paper Moon e.p. And its there flowing throughout their as-yet-untitled debut album proper which is due for release in a few months. A collection of songs that don’t so much defy genres as gleefully hand pick the most mellifluous elements of everything from voodoo folk, DIY pop, post punk and analogue electronica and stitch them together into a glorious harmonic whole.
Stealing Sheep’s story began in a café above a shop in the heart of Liverpool during the summer of 2010. After Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer bonded over their disparate influences, they decided to see whether they could forge something unique by combining them.
Rebecca “I’d moved to Liverpool to study music and I winded up working in a little shop on Lark Lane. Emily and Lucy worked in the café above the shop. We discovered that we all played complimentary instruments and we decided to see whether it worked as a band. The three of us each like very different styles of music. I remember Emily had a lot of ’70s guitar music and a lot of Krautrock. where the psychedelic influences come from. Lucy was playing in a few gypsy folk bands at that time - she likes freak folk as well as a lot of marching band stuff. I brought in a lot of electronica. Those influences are reflected in the instruments we chose and the way that we play them.”
Within days of announcing themselves via a couple of songs and a picture stuck on a webpage, Stealing Sheep had booked themselves a trial-by-fire tour of the UK. As the gigs came in, the trio kept on producing songs. It’s part of Stealing Sheep’s errant charm that Rebecca, Emily and Lucy each contribute separate songs to the group.
The band’s first single, The Mountain Dogs, was released in February 2011 on Manchester’s Red Deer Club label. Part Appalachian folk stomp/part Raincoats-esque lo-fi rumble, the track was a perfect calling card, picking up airplay and gushing plaudits from the likes of Lauren Laverne, Gilles Peterson, Marc Riley and Rob da Bank. Tracks from another EP which came out on Idle Fret were collected together by Heavenly Recordings for the Noah and the Paper Moon, a record subsequently described by the Sunday Times as “capturing everything that is so wonderful about them: dovetailing harmonies, sepulchral lo-fi soundscapes and lyrical alchemy”.
Working at a positively feverish pace Stealing Sheep’s debut album is now almost complete and will be released in the summer. In the meantime Stealing Sheep have a busy schedule of live dates. Currently on tour with Heavenly labelmates Sea Of Bees the band will play be playing headline shows in June as well as numerous UK festivals like the Camden Crawl, Port Elliot, Standon Calling and Green Man.
A - Shut Eye
B - We Like The Dark
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