Posts Tagged ‘Songs from the Black Hat’

Continuing their project of releasing a single a month, Argonaut’s apparently unique open-ended album, Songs from the Black Hat makes a bit of a swerve on this outing, in that it’s neither an original song nor a studio recording.

The single for June is a live cover version of the Stooges punk rock classic, performed in all of its ‘raw power’ at the Hope and Anchor on 4th February 2023, and is accompanied by some far-out artwork that’s absolutely barking.

Listen here:



Reviewed here recently, ‘Save’ is May’s song from Argonaut’s ‘open-ended’ album, Songs from the Black Hat.

The lyrics were inspired by the Thai cave rescue and a genuine primary school comprehension test answer to the question ‘why didn’t Grace Darling save everyone at the same time?’ Clocking in at six and a half minutes, Save is Argonaut channelling nineties indie anthem 12 inch remixes a la MBV and the Telescopes.

They’ve just unveiled a video to accompany it, which you can watch here:



1st May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Argonaut are a band who have certainly embraced the potentials of the Internet, making the most of the ability to take ownership of their release schedule and optimising the possibilities for their DIY aesthetic, not limited to home recordings released within a week via Bandcamp and no-fi videos posted to YouTube.

Nathan and Lorna kept things flowing through lockdown with their homespun ‘Videostore’ project, and now they’ve reconvened, the band are making the absolute most of the limitless options of streaming formats.

Historically, an album had to be no more than around forty-five minutes to fit on a 33rpm record: CDs expanded it to seventy-two minutes, which was probably the length of most double albums, only much cheaper. Tapes provided greater duration but less durability, especially over longer formats: the old C120s were dangerously fine, meaning double-play cassettes were things to be handled with care (as the three copies of The Cure’s Concert and Curiosity I lost proved, although however carefully you might handle a cassette, the heads on your tape deck just stropped and chewed stuff out of spite). More recently, CD capacity has expanded to eighty minutes. Every medium has its limitations: digital streaming has limits to quality and you never know if a track or site will remain, and streaming when your Internet connection drops every three minutes is a massive pain the fucking arse. And it perhaps goes without saying that downloading a track just doesn’t have the same buzz as owning something physical like a 7” or even a CD. That’s something that’s difficult to explain to anyone under thirty, who considers physical ‘stuff’ just so much clutter and the prospect of going to a shop an inconvenience. I get it, but I guess it’s hard to feel you’re missing out on something you’ve never experienced.

But what Argonaut have realised is that an album doesn’t have to be a completed article on release, and this is where their latest project is really interesting. Songs from the Black Hat is probably the first ‘open-ended’ album, whereby they just keep adding songs to it with a new song released on the first of each month. Whereas The Wedding Present’s ‘Hit Parade’ project also saw the release of a new single each month, it had a fixed end, on the premise of there being a 7” single released each month – the album, a compilation, was seemingly an afterthought and its parameters were always going to be finite. Songs from the Black Hat as it stands has no parameters, and ‘Save’ is the sixth song and something of a departure, not just in terms of the album, but for Argonaut more broadly.

They’ve built a career on punchy post-punk tunes which are often concise to the sub-three-minute mark. But as they write of ‘Save’, ‘Clocking in at six and a half minutes, ‘Save’ is Argonaut chanelling [sic] nineties indie anthem 12 inch remixes a la MBV and the Telescopes.’ And it is indeed a beast. As they also explain, ‘The lyrics were inspired by the Thai cave rescue and a genuine primary school comprehension test answer to the question ‘why didn’t Grace Darling save everyone at the same time?’

It’s a reverb-soaked behemoth where the echoing drums soon become overtaken by a chubby bass and a yawning synth drone, with multi-layered bubble-gum pop vocals, reminding us that ‘You can’t save everyone’. No doubt our government will be playing this at the airport in Sudan as they turn away citizens with work visas and the like but no physical passport. But facetiousness aside, this is a beautiful and sad song that also bursts with fuzz and reverb, and spins vintage and contemporary together with a rare deftness of craft.

Let’s see what they pull out of the hat next month…



1st March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

The title of their new single is a fitting one for a band that really doesn’t piss about when it comes to getting things done. Nathan and Lorna, who make up half of this London-based energetic indie-punk foursome cranked out lo-fi bedroom-recorded cuts at a remarkable rate during lockdown, and now, despite working dayjobs and all the rest, the band have not only reconvened but released a new EP Songs from the Black Hat on February 1st, for which they’ve been unveiling in instalments (a number of which have found exposure here, not least of all ‘Futoko’ a year ago) by way of promo.

‘Move Fast’ is pitched as ‘Channelling Gen X Silicon Valley sloganeering,1980s pop synths and nineties noise!’ – which is in many ways quintessential Argonaut – big on energy, some bright, breezy melodies, but a dark undercurrent and a degree of social unrest.

With its clean, chorus-tinged guitar sound, there’s a Cure-esque post-punk element to the track, with a cute, almost bouncy vocal, there are classic indie-pop / shoegaze aspects dominant here, and then of course, the chorus breaks out the big fizzy guitars and busy, dizzy synths. It all comes together to give us an energetic tune which comes on like a lo-fi Blondie, and it’s a winning formula.