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Video of the Moment #533: Skint and Demoralised

By on Wednesday, 27th July 2011 at 6:00 pm

Here’s the new video for Skint and Demoralised‘s ’43 Degrees’. Franco and Maria forever!

Read my album review of their new one ‘This Sporting Life’ here.



Album Review: Skint and Demoralised – This Sporting Life

By on Thursday, 21st July 2011 at 12:00 pm

It’s taken over a year but Skint and Demoralised has finally released their debut album. Er, a debut album, and then their second album. Which is actually more their debut, since it’s their first true long-playing release and this is what got them signed to Heist or Hit. But a full album’s worth of material was already ready, so now there are two albums running around. Confused? Let me set the stage…

In the latter part of 2008, Steve Lamacq named ‘The Thrill of Thirty Seconds’ by Skint and Demoralised (then singer and lyricist Matt Abbott and the producer MiNI dOG) one of the best songs of the year. You would think with that kind of endorsement that Mercury, the label that had initially signed the act, would have held on tight to them. Uhhh, no. There was even a point last year when Abbott completely changed tack with the dancey ‘I Love This City’ (video here), an ode to his beloved hometown of Wakefield. But album release-wise, they reached an impasse when Mercury unceremoniously dropped them. (This is starting to sound like the Little Comets saga, doesn’t it?)

‘This Sporting Life’, presumably named after the famous 1963 film starring Richard Harris (Abbott is an unabashed lover of “kitchen sink” dramas, just like that one Steven Patrick Morrissey…) caught the eye of Heist or Hit Records, who quickly snapped them up. Abbott and several close mates now make up the S&D live line-up, which should be great to see in the new future as they’ve got not one but two (‘Love, and Other Catastrophes’, the aforementioned debut album that really isn’t a debut album, thanks to Mercury).

One thing I would like to note: there’s been some complaint as of late that some British artists are ditching their regional accents for a more Americanised sound. Abbott sings with a classic Wakefield accent, which I think makes it feel more authentic and less manufactured. There’s certainly a polish to all of these songs, especially those bringing you into the world of Franco and Maria, Abbott’s fictional lovers (‘Maria, Full of Grace’, ’43 Degrees’), but there are some like ‘Hogmanay Heroes’ and the single ‘The Lonely Hearts of England’ (tipped by Lammo again…no surprise there!) that are more songs you’d sing with your mates at the pub.

Of all the songs on ‘This Sporting Life’, I favour ‘All the Rest is Propaganda’ the best; it’s got the word “precinct”, which reminded me of one of my favourite songs of all time, Stephen Duffy’s ‘A Man Without a Star’ and the first time I fell in love. At the time, I had to look up what “precinct” meant, because it meant something to do with the police to me (in America). But beyond that, it’s a sweet love song, distilling just how great it feels to be in love, as if life (including that little thing that we all need, love) has become ridiculously simple. Sometimes I wish it was exactly that way.

To knock you back into the real world, ‘Maybe You Are After All?’ introduces yet another theme we are all familiar with: unrequited love. It is catchy, as is ‘Voluntary Confinement’. The only parts of this album that I don’t get are the shouty, angry and jarring ‘Lowlife’ and the slower ‘Did It All Go to Plan?’. Regarding the latter, Abbott is not really a crooner. He’s too young to be one. (He’s only 22.) But I’m confident he’ll ease into that role, provided the record-buying public give the rest of this album – and ‘Love, and Other Catastrophes’ for that matter – a real listen.


Both ‘This Sporting Life’ and ‘Love, and Other Catastrophes’ are available now in digital format from Heist or Hit. The physical albums will be released in the UK on the 2nd of August.


Quickfire Questions #13: Matt Abbott of Skint and Demoralised

By on Monday, 4th July 2011 at 12:00 pm

Header photo by Alex Knight

It’s been a long time coming, but Skint and Demoralised is finally releasing their debut album. Or rather their debut album ‘Love, and Other Catastrophes’ that should have come out on Mercury ages ago will be released as a special second CD to the band’s new full album, ‘This Sporting Life’, on the 2nd of August on Heist or Hit Records. Dunno why, but I just get the feeling that like Little Comets before them, this is going to be another case of the majors making a big mistake for letting go of an amazing band. (Just a hunch.) Today is the release of the double A-sided single ‘The Lonely Hearts of England’ / ’43 Degrees’ in digital format, and to celebrate this, we’ve asked frontman and lyricist Matt Abbott to answer our Quickfire Questions. And answer them he did, with the kind of eloquence you would expect from the socially conscious, intelligent writer. He tells us what music made him jump around as a sprog, what artist led to a trip to Paris with a sweetheart, and more. Read on.

1. What song is your earliest musical memory?
Very interesting question. My earliest musical memory in general is being obsessed with Madness and nagging my parents to play their ‘Definitive Singles Collection’ on repeat when I must have been about 5 or 6 years old. I’m pretty sure it used to drive them insane! I remember that my favourite in particular was ‘Driving in My Car’, although to this day there’s still something I love about that band. Beneath the whimsical and comic element, and the obvious up-beat party tunes such as ‘Baggy Trousers’, there is a fantastic charm and a stroke of genius that really captures the spirit of British culture and life in general. Songs like ‘My Girl’ and ‘Our House’ will always be close to my heart. Although back then of course, I was only interested in jumping around and singing the infectious vocal melodies!

2. What was your favourite song as a child?
That’s a tough one. Assuming that “child” means before I started comprehensive school at the age of 11 (when you’re not quite a teenager but certainly making steps towards becoming one), I’d probably have to choose one of the tracks from ‘I’ve Been Expecting You’ by Robbie Williams. I was bought the album for Christmas at the age of nine and have always had a huge soft spot for Robbie. These days he’s certainly more of a “guilty pleasure” but when you’ve loved somebody from such an early age, it’s hard to dismiss them entirely! In a similar way to Madness (despite a different musical style), he manages to carry that quintessential British charm perfectly. He’s the archetypal “cheeky chappy” that oozes charisma; with his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek, of course. Favourite song? Probably ‘Strong’ back then.

3. What song makes you laugh?
Quite a few! Although seeing as I have to choose one in particular, I’ll say ‘Readers Wives [Part 2]’ by John Cooper Clarke. Perhaps lacking in charm when compared to my last two choices, but the man’s talent knows no bounds. I think it’s safe to say that he’s an acquired taste, and will be forever condemned to “cult hero” status in tiny pockets of the globe, but those who are blessed with knowing his work are safe in the knowledge that he’s a genius in every sense of the word. I genuinely believe that he’s the finest English word-smith since William Shakespeare, and though he may not evoke emotion in the same way as the likes of Morrissey, his use of the language is simply breath-taking, and his take on British working-class life cannot be beaten in my opinion. This track is hilarious, and one of the few poems that worked well in song form.

4. What song makes you cry?
The sheer beauty of ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ by Max Richter rarely fails to have an effect on me. I first heard his work during a two-part drama on BBC2 in late 2009 and soon downloaded the entire ‘Blue Notebooks’ album. The strings on this song are incredibly powerful and moving, and it has been known to bring a few tears to my eyes on several occasions. The track ‘Vladimir’s Blues’ is one of the most tender, delicate and enchanting pieces of music that I’ve ever heard, and at one minute and nineteen seconds in length, I’ve genuinely sat playing it on repeat for an hour before. But when it comes to being tearful, ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ wins for me.

5. What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love?
I guess it would have to be a Robbie Williams song again. He shouldn’t pop up in an interview more than once, but I have to be honest! My only ever long-term relationship (well, considering our age at the time) was throughout college, and we were both big Robbie fans at the time. I actually took her to see him live in Paris and then later in the year at Roundhay Park in Leeds. “Our song” was supposedly ‘She’s The One’ by Robbie Williams, as cringe-worthy as that may seem now, but I suppose if one song represents that time, then that’d be it. Sigh.

6. What song makes you think of being upset/angry?
Whenever I hear Oasis it generally puts me in a bad mood, but I’ll give an answer with more depth than that! I suppose ‘Masters of War’ by Bob Dylan is the song that has the potential to make me angriest, provided I’m in an appropriate mind-set at the time. His vocal delivery is superb and the lyrics definitely strike a chord with me. I’m passionately anti-war, and as we see billions being spent today on military action on Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – on illegal wars that are fuelled by a greed for oil and power at the cost of human life – it angers me that Dylan’s anti-war messages of half a century ago are still relevant now. They should have long since expired with his songs of protest for the Civil Rights Movement.

7. Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Even though I’d choose ‘Desolation Row’ by Bob Dylan as my favourite song of all-time, the one that I really wish I’d written myself would have to be ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’. Sheer class. The vocal lyric is possibly the most beautiful and, although incredibly morbid, the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. It’s just…well, it’s Morrissey at his best, which is of course extremely good. The vulnerability, the desperation, the hope and despair, the fear, the tenderness…everything. It is incredible how such thoughts and emotions are captured so well with such mind-blowing simplicity. That song for me is untouchable in it’s genius, even down to Johnny Marr’s flute playing!

8. Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
This is a very, very difficult question, as writing is something that I’m so passionate about. I’m torn between John Cooper Clarke, James Joyce and Alan Sillitoe. The inspiration that I took from reading ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce led me to write the lyrics for our second album; it had a profound effect on me, and to this day I still find it mind-blowingly good. That said, ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ by Alan Sillitoe is my favourite book of all-time and when you put it into context, surely one of the greatest literary achievements in twentieth century Britain. But in terms of what he represents, how he inspired me and the way that he continues to amuse and enthrall, I will have to choose John Cooper Clarke. I cannot express how much admiration I have for this man. I am simply in awe of his use of the English language. If you haven’t already then I urge you to check him out – whether written or recorded, everybody needs to be familiar with his work. I’m not sure how it’ll translate across the Atlantic, but I’m hoping that it’ll still be as effective and appealing. I’m sure it will be!

9. If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I would hopefully be a football writer or journalist of some kind. Football was my first passion in life and is still jostling with music for the number one spot in my heart! It has always been a huge part of my life and always will be. I know that I was put on this planet to write, and so if I wasn’t a musical writer then I’d hopefully be a football writer/reporter, or failing that, a struggling novelist no doubt! I am actually working on my debut novel ‘Fireworks’ at the moment and have been developing the storyline and characters since October 2008, so hopefully within a year or two I’ll have a draft ready. We’ll see!

10. If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why?
This is a nightmare of a question! Haha. I regularly switch between the Doors, the Smiths and Arctic Monkeys as being my favourite band of all-time. But seeing as it was a part of my life as soon as it was released, and it continues to excite and entertain me through years and years of listening, I will choose ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ by Arctic Monkeys. For me it is their finest piece of work by far and has the perfect balance of upbeat, catchy indie-rock songs and alternative, strange and experimental almost prog-rock songs. The lyrics are Turner’s finest (particularly ‘Do Me A Favour’ which has more relevance to me lyrically than anything I’ve ever heard, and also in ‘505’) and musically it is incredibly good. I will never tire of hearing it. A simply fantastic record.

The double A-sided single ‘The Lonely Hearts of England’ / ’43 Degrees’ is out today digitally on Heist or Hit. Watch for the band’s album ‘This Sporting Life’, with the bonus ‘Love, and Other Catastrophes’ album, as a 2 CD set to be released on the 2nd of August.


MP3 of the Day #260: Skint and Demoralised

By on Monday, 1st November 2010 at 10:00 am

Skint and Demoralised is the pop vehicle of singer/songwriter Matt Abbott. It’s hard to believe we profiled S&D a year and a half ago on TGTF as a Bands to Watch. Matt’s back now with a couple new songs and an album release on the horizon hopefully sooner than later in 2011.

I am pleased to announce we’ve been given the green light to offer one of these new songs, ’43 Degrees’ as a free download today. Like most of other S&D songs that have already come to light, it features Matt’s engaging vocals and best of all, it’s poppy as heck. (And you know I love that.)

MP3: Skint and Demoralised – 43 Degrees


Skint and Demoralised (Matt Abbott) / November and December 2010 UK Tour

By on Friday, 29th October 2010 at 5:00 pm

Singer, songwriter, spoken word artist, political activist, stand up-comedian, and generally all-around good guy Matt Abbott will be performing at a couple dates in November and December. Two dates in November will be as Skint and Demoralised, who you will remember from the oh so toe-tappy ‘The Thrill of Thirty Seconds’ and ‘Red Lipstick’. The long-awaited album from S&D is purported to be released sometime next year.

Friday 12th November 2010 – Wakefield Hop (Skint and Demoralised gig)
Friday 26th November 2010 – Sheffield Frog and Parrot (free; Skint and Demoralised gig)
Friday 17th December 2010 – Bradford Tokyo (spoken word)
Saturday 18th December 2010 – Manchester Night and Day (stand-up)


Video of the Moment #256: Matt Abbott

By on Wednesday, 21st April 2010 at 6:00 pm

You know Wakefield lad Matt Abbott as the witty, wry frontman for pop duo Skint and Demoralised. To ready himself for a solo career, he’s shed his long locks and donned a track suit. Thankfully, those are the only things that have changed. Footy is still a bit part of his life: he still roots for Leeds United, but also offers his esteemed opinion in a weekly recap of the footy situation on a series of YouTube videos (this link is for the most recent one), as well as appearing as a guest on BBC Radio 5Live and was the resident footy poet on Yorkshire Radio. He still stumps for Love Music Hate Racism every chance he gets, even giving talks to students about the cause. In late October 2009, he launched a new club night in Wakefield called Burn Down the Disco (please tell you do know where he got this name?) and now DJays regularly. In short, I have come to the conclusion that the man does not sleep.

Somehow between all of this Matt found the time to record new solo material. Now he’s getting set to take on the world with a new single, ‘I Love This City’, an ode to his beloved Wakey. It’s a bit different than his previous S&D works – a dancey electrohouse vibe is underneath it all – but it’s fresh, fun and captures why he adores his hometown.

And just in case Wakefield isn’t ‘your’ city, don’t fret. He’s even started a Facebook group so you can tell the world why you love your town.


The debut single from Matt Abbott, ‘I Love This City’, will be released on 31 May on Mercury Records.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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