Conceived and even part-recorded (check that indistinct intro, courtesy of an iPhone app) in a hospital waiting-room as Glassmaps’ main man, Joel Stein, was visiting an infirm friend, ‘My Head My Heart’ was then further fleshed out in Berlin. It was an old East German recording studio, in fact, where Joel fully produced the song, in an eerie yet fascinating space where the varied range of state-sanctioned electrical equipment told of the city’s fascinating modern history.
‘My Head My Heart’ itself is a song about the turmoil of an uncertain relationship in which wisdom and romance seem in continual conflict. “Your world is being pushed and pulled leaving you confused and angry,” says Joel. “You’re in quicksand and the truth is in front of you – it’s the branch with thorns on it.” It’s a struggle Joel expresses over a heavy, dronal yet infectious riff and impactful, near-martial beat, a battle cry of a song that swells as it draws out the emotion of Joel’s compelling vocal delivery.
How to follow 12 months in which your debut album was released to great acclaim and which your live shows included supporting The Killers at both Hyde Park and Brixton Academy, as well as a prime slot at Brighton’s Great Escape Festival? Although that’s the task facing Joel Stein’s Glassmaps as we progress into summer 2018, it doesn’t seem to faze Joel, who is already in the process of penning album number two. In fact, Glassmaps’ latest release, ‘My Head My Heart’, might represent a subtle shift in style – though not in standard of songwriting – from previous material recorded in The Killers’ studio, but it places the band firmly in position for the sort of success that their famous associates have long enjoyed.
Glassmaps is the solo project of Joel Stein, lead guitarist in the much-loved Howling Bells. After four successful albums with the band, the UK-based Australian released his own long player, ‘Strangely Addicted’, which beautifully utilised electronic and organic instruments to deliver melodic, punchy, infectious tunes coupled with psychedelic soundscapes. Autobiographical lyrics spoke of universal themes of life, love and loss.
‘Strangely Addicted’ was recorded and produced by Joel in Las Vegas, at the home studio of The Killers’ bassist Mark Stoermer, where Joel was staying while recording with Howling Bells.
Stoermer himself guested on some of the tracks, including playing bass on ‘Summer Rain’, the excellent first cut from the album, released by Lost In The Manor in 2017. Acclaimed singles ‘Hypnotised’ and ‘Strangely Addicted’ followed as digital 45s, all featuring Howling Bells’ drummer Glenn Moule. Joel has since assembled a watertight band of Brighton and London musicians to present the material in a live arena.