Broadcast – witchy, calm indie


The sad death of vocalist Trish Keenan in 2011 robbed us of a talented female vocalist. Experimental indie band Broadcast nevertheless leave a legacy of Witch Cults and Tender Buttons.

You’ve heard nothing like this. You may never do again. Vocalist Trish Keenan’s sad death in 2011 robbed us of a talented female vocalist whose melodic drawl could captivate even the most isolated music taste. Well, I’m sure she would have, if Broadcast had ever truly gained the attention they deserved.

Though I suppose Broadcast’s own brand of indie – weird pop was never going to break the big time, and we wouldn’t have wanted them to. They’re the sort of band which merits a vaguely impressed nod on being mentioned at the local indie disco. They’re a bit of a gem, frankly.

Here is the backstory. Broadcast were formed in Birmingham and were active from the late 90’s to early 2000’s. They can be described as sitting comfortably on the border between indie and experimental, although this description probably doesn’t do them so much justice, but that’s the thing about Broadcast, there music can often defy description. Trish Keenan’s 1960’s inspired vocals complement perfectly the electric background to many of the songs. They’re what flowers would sound like if they’d been fitted with electronic synthesisers; they’re a wind-up music box with indie sensibilities.

If you’ve ever watched horror films such as Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man and Jaromil Jiles’ Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (and if you haven’t, I’d strongly suggest it) you’ll know that Broadcast practically act as an unofficial soundtrack to their mixture of brutal horror and folkish beauty. They’re perfect for a sunny afternoon lounging in the warm rays, as well as on a rainy day looking out of the window. Buy Haha Sound and Tender Buttons if you’re partial to jumping around woods on sunny days in long floaty dresses – which, of course, we all are.

So this is Broadcast. All a bit English eccentric and strikingly charming. But what if you add the Focus Group? Then it’s just plain bonkers, as the name of their album would suggest.

Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age is odd. It’s a bit like a musical scrapbook, and every page of music is under two minutes and sounds like someone accidentally made something wonderful by pressing all the demo buttons on their keyboard. It’s just as you would expect, witchy, but with an electronic edge. A Seancing Song combines Keenan’s creepy vocals with a peculiar jittery backing track which seems to include every sound you’ve ever heard. The album samples everything from choirs to Arabian music to seagulls and still turns out to be one of the best albums out there, or at least, one of the most innovative. It’s witchy, spooky, calm and apocalyptic all at the same time. It’s easily their best work.

So listen to Broadcast if you’re looking for beautiful, whimsical electro pop or just background music for your local coven. Light a candle and celebrate Trish Keenan’s memory. It’ll take you somewhere else, I can promise you that.

Buy MP3 album: Tender Buttons

Buy MP3 album: Haha Sound