Tough Love Records
Release Date: 08/03/2024
“But into my miserable brain, always concerned with looking for noon at two o’clock"
- Charles Baudelaire (1869)
The Foreign Department is the second album by Astrel K, the solo project helmed by Stockholm-based British ex-pat, Rhys Edwards. Those already familiar with Edwards’ work will likely know him for fronting the cultishly great Ulrika Spacek, and given he operates as the principal songwriter in both projects, much of the same hallmarks of his cathartic, elliptical songwriting are present in Astrel K. Nonetheless, The Foreign Department feels like a rubicon moment of sorts, and the album that Edwards has unconsciously been working towards his entire creative life.
As a title, The Foreign Department offers an instructive guide for the listener, framing a life-in-transition/artist-in-exile document that maps two impromptu moves in twelve months for its songwriter: the first from London in pursuit of a relationship, the second between homes in Stockholm as that decade long relationship then suddenly dissolved.
Indeed, diffusion, dissolution and reconstitution feel like appropriate touchstones for its recurring themes. Written amidst the flux of two states, at once isolated from home and then any established emotional anchor, the resulting eleven tracks came to represent a precognitive search for shifting identity and with it forming an unwittingly biographical record. It's commendable and somewhat telling that during this shake up, Edwards somehow landed upon his most realised and original work.
With a former life stripped away, there emerged an opportunity to reinvent a sense of self through art, now not just as a writer, but a composer also. Developing the confidence to arrange songs in ways he'd previously considered off-limits, while also taking cues from the opulent string and brass arrangements of records like Mercury Rev's Deserters' Songs and Death of A Ladies Man by Leonard Cohen, Edwards enlisted a range of performers to bring to life the mini-symphonies forming in his head. Perhaps it's inevitable that an album written while facing the consequences of being alone would eventually ossify around the process of bringing people together.
For all its troubled origins, The Foreign Department is a remarkably warm sounding collection. Edwards' lyrics are typically knotty and neurotic, dancing around the poetry of quarter-life anxiety, but the music itself is often joyous and even uplifting, the combination expressing that neat duality of melancholic euphoria.
Edwards sings variously of crises, "torrid pieces of art", of "houses on fire" and not "having the guts for it", yet these troubling sentiments are framed by seemingly incongruous swelling strings, chirping horns or motorik percussion, creating that sense of pushing forward or floating above, of wrapping your troubles in dreams, a salve for the moments when you get a bit too much for yourself.
British four-piece rock band Collateral are set to release their highly anticipated sophomore album Should’ve Known Better on May 24, 2024. The album is distributed worldwide by Cargo. The album will be released on CD, red vinyl, picture disc, limited edition cassette, and digital. Friday February 9th will see the release of the lead single “Glass Sky.”.
The new single “Glass Sky” and the forthcoming album Should’ve Known Better is produced by Dan Weller (Those Damn Crows, Enter Shikari, Monster Truck, Kris Barras, Holding Absence, Bury Tomorrow).
"I love massive riffs, massive hooks and feel-good guitar music,” says Weller. “When Collateral sent me their demos, I jumped at chance to produce their new record. I’m proud of what we managed to create. It’s Collateral mk2 - ambitious, daring and refined. I can’t wait for people to hear it."
Since the band released their debut album (Top 5 UK Rock Album Chart) at the start of 2020 Collateral have spent no time standing still. Covid came only weeks after the debut album was released and forced the band to cancel their highly successful tour with Phil X (Bon Jovi) halfway through. This made the band hungry to keep the momentum. With innovative ways to produce top quality live streams, the band became special guests supporting the likes of Skid Row, H.E.A.T and Reckless Love.
The exciting and flamboyant Kent-based rock and roll band are comprised of Angelo Tristan (lead vocals, guitar), Louis Malagodi (guitar), Jack Bentley-Smith (bass) and Ben Atkinson (drums).
On October 21, 2022, Collateral independently released a re-mixed and re-mastered version of their debut album “Re-Wired” which featured Jeff Scott Soto, Phil X, Kee Marcello, Rudy Sarzo, Danny Vaughn, and Joel Hoekstra. The re-release saw the band in the Official UK Rock Charts at #12.
After the gruelling back-to-back tours with Skid Row, H.E.A.T and Reckless Love, the band ignited a spark and strengthened their already loyal fanbase leading them to win the opening slot at 2023s Stonedead Festival, leading the band to perform their biggest show.
Collateral’s hotly tipped sophomore album looks like it will take them to the next level. A lot of people don’t know what to expect from the new album, as the band have been tight-lipped about the new songs. Collateral have created a state-of-the-art rock album that will immerse listeners in their rock music universe, enabling fans to feel the blood, sweat and glory that went into the recording of every song.
“We felt that our debut album was lacking the production,” reflects Collateral’s frontman, Angelo Tristan. “For the sophomore album, I wanted to make sure that this time we left no room for error and so got one of the hottest producers in the music industry, Dan Weller, to help lift these songs into a new dimension. With Dan’s pioneering studio expertise, this album has massive production quality that enables you to get lost in each character-filled track. Dan really brought out the emotions we were trying to portray and has achieved it with his own unique style.”
“We wanted this album to express where we were in our own lives since the release of our first. So much has happened since then, I mean the world shut down for what felt like a lifetime! And it was obvious that people were going to need some sort of optimism. I hope ‘Glass Sky’ is one of those songs that gives people the belief to find themselves again.”
“Whereas, the feel-good ‘Just One Of Those Days’ is trying to find the good side of a bad day. Me being me, couldn’t help but to write a big power ballad, ‘The Long Road’, that I wrote from a very hard and deep place, in hope that it could maybe bring some peace and comfort to people who need it. I think there’s all aspects of life running though this album and what it means to us will remain in our hearts forever.”
“Should’ve Known Better” is an album that goes beyond specific music genres,” says Angelo. “It’s almost like a soundtrack to a beating heart. It’s an album that will remain timeless in years to come.”Tracklisting: