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05Six Men Getting Sick Six Times (Mendable)

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Songs We Love: Martha, 'Six Men Getting Sick Six Times (Mendable)'

Songs We Love: Martha, 'Six Men Getting Sick Six Times (Mendable)'

05Six Men Getting Sick Six Times (Mendable)

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    Song
    Six Men Getting Sick Six Times (Mendable)
    Album
    Radiator Hospital/Martha
    Artist
    Radiator Hospital/Martha
    Label
    Specialist Subject
    Released
    2015

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From left, Martha guitarists Daniel Ellis and Jc Cairns, bassist Naomi Griffin and drummer Nathan Stephens-Griffin. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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From left, Martha guitarists Daniel Ellis and Jc Cairns, bassist Naomi Griffin and drummer Nathan Stephens-Griffin.

Courtesy of the artist

The anarchist pop-punk band Martha took us by surprise last year with Courting Strong, a debut full-length of high-energy, three-chord sing-alongs that bucked the odds to land a spot on NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums Of 2014 list. The British quartet — drummer Nathan Stephens-Griffin, bassist Naomi Griffin, and guitarists JC Cairns and Daniel Ellis — shouted its stories about small towns, young love and existential angst with a fervor (and glottal stop) that was damn near undeniable. (That passion shined through in our Q&A with them, too.)

The artwork for Martha and Radiator Hospital's split EP. Courtesy of the artists hide caption

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Courtesy of the artists

Durham County's finest returned earlier this month with two new songs — one side of a split 7" with Philadelphia band Radiator Hospital — and an unexpected shift in dynamics. "Six Men Getting Sick Six Times (Mendable)" sticks to three chords, but the raw power of Courting Strong is gone, replaced with acoustic fretwork and careful whispers. It's a heartwarming two minutes and 17 seconds, proof that Martha's potential extends beyond a pop-punk template.

We asked Nathan Stephens-Griffin to explain the change in direction:

By this point we've done an album and quite a few EPs without doing anything acoustic, and so I guess we'd earned at least one. A lot of our songs are written on an acoustic guitar initially and then develop into full band arrangements. With ["Mendable"] we all felt like fleshing it out could possibly take something away from it. Musically, it's a really simple three-chord love song, and when I played it to the others it seemed to just work as it was. Lyrically it's about feeling sick with anxiety, and being constantly on the edge of panic, and I suppose there's also a good juxtaposition between that and the very stripped down calm music. Daniel [Ellis] and I also play in an acoustic band called Onsind, but we have a pretty strict 'no love songs' policy, so it wouldn't have worked there.

Martha's split EP with Radiator Hospital is out now on Specialist Subject Records.

Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Radiator Hospital/Martha
Artist
Radiator Hospital/Martha
Label
Specialist Subject
Released
2015

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?