The Bluetones Reunion – Interview With Adam Devlin

After writing recently about how much I’d love for one of my favourite bands to get back together again, the impossible happened.  Literally a few days after we published a piece on their final album A New Athens, the news came through that The Bluetones had reformed and would tour later this year to celebrate their 20th anniversary.  We couldn’t have timed it better.

But, who are The Bluetones?  For those of you who don’t know, here’s a bit of background info on the 4 piece from Hounslow, West London.  Formed in 1993, their first single “Are You Blue Or Are You Blind?” was released in 1995.  Their debut album Expecting To Fly followed in 1996 to massive success and famously knocked (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis off the number one album spot.  The band went on to release a further five studio albums and had 13 top 40 singles to boot.  However, it was time to say goodbye as the band split for good in 2011 by bidding us all a fond farewell with one final tour. Lead singer Mark Morriss has gone on to have solo success with his two albums Memory Muscle and A Flash Of Darkness while the other members of the band have joined him regularly on tour.

Eager to find out more about the reunion, I spoke to guitarist extraordinaire Adam Devlin who very kindly enlightened me on what the fans can expect on the upcoming tour and also what’s he’s been up to outside of the band since they parted company.

So, how does it feel to be back as The Bluetones?
No different at all at the moment.  I suppose it won’t feel like being back as The Bluetones until September when we actually play again, so you’ll have to ask me then.

Are you permanently back together or is this just a one off to celebrate your 20 year anniversary?
I don’t know to be honest, we’ll see what happens.  We certainly don’t have any immediate plans to record anything, this is just really about us hanging out together and playing a few gigs, that’s the thing we’ve missed the most. That and the free fridge magnets.

Has seeing other bands from around the same era reunite recently made it more apparent that it’s something you could do?
We’ve always been aware that it’s something we could do, but we’d only have done it if we’d really wanted to. I do have a new appreciation now of why so many bands do it though.  They think they can move on and do other things , but they miss it too much.  It’s the same reason so many footballers become managers, they just can’t let it go.

Have there been many offers to reform over the last few years?
Yes, we’ve been absolutely deluged with multi-million pound offers from all over the world on virtually a daily basis … I mean, no, not many, mainly weddings to be honest.

Do you think there was any unfinished business from when you split in 2011?
No.  No unfinished business.  There’s really no agenda other than we’ve got the perfect excuse to reform the band and feel like superstars again for a week. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Has there been any negative reaction to you reforming or has it all been positive?
I haven’t come across any negative reaction.  I’m sure there probably is some, but we’re living in difficult and dangerous times right now so it’s hard to imagine anyone getting too worked up because The Bluetones have decided to reform. Maybe I’m being naive, maybe Kula Shaker are livid about it.


What can the fans expect on the tour?
They can expect us playing some of our songs and some very reasonably priced tea towels. This is what our audience demands, this is what they shall get.

Are there are songs in particular you are looking forward to playing again?
I haven’t really thought that far ahead. We won’t really know what we’re playing until we go into rehearsals. I’m at the stage now I’ve just hoping I can remember how to play them.

Any new material maybe and can we expect a new album per chance?
At the moment that is not on the agenda, it may happen at some point in the future, I really don’t know. I sound like George Osborne now, I can’t rule it out but I can’t rule it in. I can neither confirm nor deny any speculation.

You’ve supported Mark at his solo shows, so do you think it will be very natural for you all to spend time together in a touring environment again?
Yes, incredibly natural.  I realise it doesn’t make for great rock “n” roll copy, but we actually all get on very well.  I’d even go as far as to say we quite like each other. Chemistry will not be an issue.

Personally, what other projects have you been involved in recently?
Lots of largely unpaid labours of love, but that’s the way I prefer it.  I mean the “love” bit not the “unpaid” bit. I won’t bore you with it all, but I will plug an album I made this year with some other washed up ex members of other bands.  The album is called Solution Songs by Thee Cee Cees and is a revolutionary socialist concept album designed to bring down the government. You can download it from all good record shops.

I love reading your blog as I’m sure many other people do. Will we be treated to some posts on how the tour is going perhaps?
Maybe, we did that before a few years back. Each of us would do a tour diary every few days and put it up on our website. It was usually complete nonsense though. I remember doing an entire blog on “all day breakfasts” at motorway service stations.

What does the future hold for the Bluetones?
I can neither confirm nor deny anything. Ever.

Finally, the burning question that everyone wants to know – will there be a tea towel available on the merch stand??!
Does The Pope shit in the woods?

So, there you have it. You can rest easy as tea towels will definitely be available when The Bluetones tour later this year.

Catch The Bluetones this autumn at one the following venues:

16 September – Leeds O2 Academy
17 September – Glasgow O2 ABC
18 September – Newcastle O2 Academy
19 September – Manchester Ritz
23 September – Portsmouth Pyramids
24 September – London The Forum
26 September – Birmingham O2 Academy
27 September – Bristol O2 Academy

Urso Polar – It’s Official I Hate Ramsgate

Talk about storming out of the blocks: at this early stage in their career, Urso Polar are really delivering the goods. Following “Mostly Harmless” and “Oh My God I’m So Happy Right Now”, “It’s Official I Hate Ramsgate” is their third release of a spectacular few months.

It might seem strange for a Brazilian indie-rock group to be singing about a Kentish seaside town, but don’t get distracted for too long by that quirky detail – instead be sure to let the energy take you and the lyric charm you, and the mix of jangling and chiming guitars win your heart. It shouldn’t be too hard, frankly, because “It’s Official I Hate Ramsgate” is another glorious indie disco whirl from Urso Polar.

The Atlantic Ocean’s between you and me
And all of this water will tear us apart
We settled the score, I’m fine with a draw
I knew you were not my type from the start

So I can’t complain
Even if I did you wouldn’t hear me
You’re so unkind
I’m telling you know, so you best believe it

This is about how I came
To hate Ramsgate
This is how, this is how I came
To love you


Saltwater Sun – Habit on my Mind

It shouldn’t be possible, really, for a band to appear out of nowhere with a debut track that appears to have been constructed from just the right elements in exactly the right size and quantity, ordered optimally, packaged perfectly and delivered with such style and panache.

Clearly it is, since that’s exactly what London band Saltwater Sun have managed with “Habit on my Mind”, three minutes and fifty seconds that manage to contain cavernous guitar effects, and a chorus that flips insouciantly between innocent pop and barrelling rock with no more than a breath dividing the two.

“Habit on my Mind” is out now, on Hand in Hive records.


New Music Round-up #20

Here’s your twentieth new music round-up – one for fans of high class jangly guitar work, post-punk and folk.

C. Love Detectives – If Courtney Love (Has Found The Plane)

Ah, the glorious insanity of naming yourself after one of your first tracks, and that track being about Courtney Love’s alleged claim to have found the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. The strange part is that it all makes sense, in the way that only a Belgian / Dutch collaboration (Divan & M.) could. For “If Courtney Love (Has Found The Plane)” C. Love Detectives seem to have borrowed an old Soulwax beat, and made merry mystical and psychedelic with it. With Bryce Goggin on board as producer, the duo hope to record a first EP in June, in Trout Recording Studio, Brooklyn, New York. A september release and tour is also planned.


Cartesian Jetstream – Ancestors

RRP loves a good jangle; this is a magnificent jangle. Hailing from the Isle of Man, Cartesian Jetstream are Ben Scott (drums & backing vocals), Philip Bell-Scott (bass & backing vocals) and Simon Kilgannon (guitars & vocals). They released their first album, Sleep Over, in 2013. Ancestors is the title track from their second album, released this week, and available to purchase digitally or on CD from Bandcamp.

Buy Ancestors


Cosby – Overboard

Richmond, VA, synthpop trio Cosby are following up their album In Flight with a new EP next month. Released on 11th May, Summer Gold features the oh-so-80s “Overboard”. Check out the video for the track, above, and be taken back to a time when the two-week holiday to the USA would be greeted by a quiz show audience with a woo and a wondrous awe.


The Danes – The Ultimate Tool

The Danes formed in LA around 2012 after Chicago film school graduates Daniel Wolf and Dana Hobson, who had no real intention of forming a band together, met multi-instrumentalist John Mrazik, who had moved to LA from Maine. Drummer Patrick Zeinali joined and the four started writing and performing together. With just a couple of EPs behind it and a brief writing hiatus before they’d really got going, The Ultimate Tool is a very impressively rounded track, with a menacing piano melody circling a slow beat and backing vocals, while Hobson steals the show, pulling out highs and lows, switching effortlessly between delicate and coarse.


Dot Dash – The Winter of Discontent

A little free download for you now, from Washington, DC, post-punk outfit Dot Dash. “The Winter of Discontent” is the brilliant opening track from their fourth album Earthquakes & Tidal Waves, released last month on The Beautiful Music, and produced by Mitch Easter.


Inti Rowland – The Pendulum Swings For The Joy Of It

And a second free download, this time from 17th Century Japanese Aviary, the full length debut from Inti Rowland. We were captivated by Rowland’s sublime folk from the moment we first heard “Mongolian Hunters”; “The Pendulum Swings For The Joy Of It” is more evidence of a bright new talent.

Turin Brakes – Dark On Fire

Ah, Turin Brakes.  A band I love dearly, but one that could be referred to as “Marmite” by other people.  I get the impression that you either love them or you’re not that fussed.  This confuses me on some level as they are actually so very talented it’s ridiculous. But alas, they do not get the credit or the exposure they deserve, which is why they are a perfect candidate for the rediscovered series.

Turin Brakes first came to my attention with the release of The Optimist LP back in 2001, and it was probably “Underdog (Save Me)” that I heard first of all.  I was very taken with the whole stripped back approach: just 2 guys with guitars playing rather pleasing tunes.  When I saw them support David Gray the following year, I kind of knew I’d be heavily involved with this band from then on. I was correct.  Their second album, Ether Song, is still a firm favourite of mine and gave them their most commercial success when the single “Painkiller (Summer Rain)” was released.  But I’m not here to talk about any of that or the fact that whilst wearing my Brakes t-shirt at work recently my friend said to me “Oh Turin Brakes, I remember them”. Yeah, they’re still together actually.  Sigh.  Nope, I’m here to discuss their fourth studio album Dark On Fire and tell you why you should listen to it.

Turin+BrakesI chose to write about it for a couple of reasons, but mainly because this album took a swerve from their usual style and for a lot of folks this didn’t go down well at all.  I mean, they were an acoustic duo so how dare they make an album with a highly produced full band sound?  Reading back over the reviews at the time of the album’s release in 2007, there was a lot of negativity around the lyrics, the sound, and especially the departure from their usual style. I don’t really see why any of this is an issue; by this time they had been around for coming up to 10 years so why is it so wrong to try something new?  I’m pretty sure lots of other artists reinvent their sound and it’s deemed acceptable (Madonna anyone?).  But not here though?


Dark On Fire is quite a brooding piece of work.  It’s not all doom and gloom – there are some upbeat tracks peppered across the album that hit hard.  The opening track “Last Chance” sets the scene pretty well with a 40 second intro before we even get to hear the strum of a guitar.  There’s some big sound on the instrumental breaks and lead vocalist Olly Knights proves his amazing range by going for some fairly lengthy notes throughout.  This continues with the next track, “Ghost”, which allows guitarist Gale Paridjanian to give us some great electric guitar sound and a wonderful riff in the middle.

Two singles were released on download from this album: “Stalker” in September 2007, and “Something In My Eye” in January 2008.  In my opinion (and it’s just my opinion) I think they chose wrong with this though as I reckon they would have fared better by releasing “Timewaster” as it’s one of the standout tracks on the record. The lyrics of that song hit me each and every time I play it.  And that’s the power of good songwriting and why I disagree with the reviewers that say the Brakes don’t have the talent to write a decent tune.

In the reviews I read, one of them made a point of mentioning that’s they did not like Olly’s voice very much, which I was not very impressed with.  It is rather unique in style I have to say, but if you actually listen to the way he can tailor it to the different range of songs he performs and recognise the incredible power behind it, he has one of the best voices I know of.  It sits perfectly with what Turin Brakes do and the fact that he has the ability to replicate it live and be faultless proves that he doesn’t need to hide behind some fancy studio tweaking to sound half decent.

Dark On Fire was mostly a live recorded effort and by playing direct to an audience it proved helpful in shaping how the songs ended up sounding.  The album charted at number 36 on release and dropped to 81 by the second week.  This was not as good as their previous efforts and unfortunately this trend continued with their fifth album Outbursts in 2010.  They did fare better with We Were Here in 2013, though, and I’m hopeful that the new album they are currently working on as we speak will be a return to form.

Turin Brakes 2To appreciate Dark On Fire you need to take it for what it is: a moody, well written and performed effort sprinkled with some real stand out tracks such as the title track and songs such as “Real Life”.  It was a completely different sound for them at that time, possibly because of producer Ethan Johns, but perhaps because they were not afraid to try something new.  Some felt this album was a return to the quality of The Optimist LP, while others just didn’t get it.  I can honestly say I love this album and feel that it has been sadly overlooked, which is why I wanted it to get a new lease of life if possible. I’m not saying it’s their best piece of work to date, but as an attempt to up their sound and be a bit different from the norm, I think they did a pretty good job. Fans of the band will totally get it, but for those of you who may not know much about Turin Brakes, I think it will give you a feel for what they are capable of. And you never know, you may just be surprised with what you find.

New Music Round-up #19

More, more, more… it’s OK – I know how you like it.

Joni Fatora – Pilot

Second time on RRP for Joni Fatora, after the utterly gorgeous Blueless Bird, “Pilot” amps it up and moves into a rockier place. The result is a different kind of perfect: Guitars bend, piano chords strike, as the melody follows the lead of Fatora’s soft/strong vocal.


Hannah in the Wars – Sweet Release

After two well-received solo releases – Sky Above, Horse Below (2007) and The Blind Love EP (2009) – Hannah Curwood has swapped her rural Otaga, New Zealand, home for old London town and formed six-piece band Hannah in the Wars. With it’s piano, strings and wordless cries, “Sweet Release” is the intriguing, entreating first single from their eponymous debut album, produced by Roger O’Donnell (The Cure).

Click through to Soundcloud for tour dates in New Zealand, UK, Ireland and Germany over the next few months.


Life is Better Blonde – Mine

How you feel about “Mine”, the debut single from Melbourne’s Life is Better Blonde will be dictated to an extent by your feelings on vocodery autotunery vocal effects. Accept them into your heart and you’ll have yourself some splendidly slinky, glitchy, broken electro-soul for company. Trust me: you want that.


Lilith Ai – Hang Tough

Lilith Ai grew up in North-East London before leaving for America, a young teenager with barely £70 in her pocket. She ran away to America and spent the next few years living on the streets of Queens, New York. Now back in London she is about to release her first single, “Hang Tough”. Don’t be fooled by its cool, soulful sounds and laid-back vibe: Lilith Ai means business.


Vuurwerk – Warrior

Flemish trio Vuurwerk have have made the move from remixers of note to recording their own material. Signed to Lo Recordings in the UK, their first release is the Warrior EP. Watch the video for the title track, above. With deft vocals from Soldier’s Heart lead singer Sylvie Kreusch and smooth chords and solid bass, it’s not hard to see why they’re a hot property right now.


Young Empires – The Gates

Young Empires are Matthew Vlahovich, Jake Palahnuk and Taylor Hill. Together, this Canadian three-piece create shiny, pinging, dancefloor electropop. A little fuller-sounding and darker than their debut single “So Cruel”, “The Gates” is a boomingly solid sign of future greatness.


New Music Round-up #18

We’ve been away. We’re back. Sort of.

We checked our mail bag; it was overflowing with music.

And so the new music round-up begins again…

Dead Cockroach – Democracy is Over

Democracy is over? As Moz once said, “it never really began”. Dead Cockroach are a Chilean rock trio influenced by bands (I won’t say who) currently not producing anything anywhere near as immediate or hook-rich as “Democracy is Over”. For best results, put on repeat for about half an hour.

Willie J Healey – HD Malibu

High class surf rock (official Willie J Healey-approved genre labelling) from Oxford, by way of a distant guitar sound reverberating through a medium-sized conch into the ear of a cocktail-sipping, beach-lying music fan experiencing blissful contentment. The EP, HD Malibu, is out on May 11th. Enjoy the sounds, but hope he doesn’t move in next door.

Dear Neighbour,
I’m writing to apologise for my recent behaviour, and to set the record straight on a few things. It turns out that sound-proofing a garage is pretty damn hard and to get the guitar tone I like I have to turn my amp up all the way, otherwise it sounds like the beach boys throwing up. All at the same time. In harmony. I’m sure you understand. I am particularly embarrassed about the burger wrapper that blew into your pond. Who knew fish would want to eat that stuff? Anyway, I hope they’re now ok. I think I’ve managed to recover all of the clothes that were taken from your clothes-line. I personally didn’t find it funny when Eddy dressed up in your wife’s clothes, but you’re only 20 once.

Unfortunately the midnight tones are essential – but I’ll be more selective about who I invite over in the future. I’ll also try to be more careful about knocking your bins over with my car. The trouble is that it’s quite long and really awkward to turn. Oh and for those who asked, I call it surf rock. But whatever, Homemade stuff all sounds the same to me.

Come hang with me sometime.



Janice Prix – Rain

There’s a Frenchness to their name, even though they’re actually from Sweden (and a small town more used to producing grim hardcore and metal than shiny pop), and a Phoneix-ness to their sound (maybe a bit of Beat Connection thrown in). There’s even some French spoken-word in the break.

En tout, c’est magnifique!


Murder Shoes – Maybe You Can

“Maybe You Can” is the lead single from the self-titled debut EP from Minneapolis, MN, indie and surf rock band Murder Shoes. Haunting guitar echoes bounce off driving drums and a call and response that grows less playful, more sinister the longer it continues. Murder Shoes is out on May 1st on Land Ski Records.


Summer Heart – The Cross

“Beat of Your Heart” gave us a friendly hug and twirl earlier in the year, and now here’s “The Cross”, also taken from the Thinkin of U EP, to high five us, say nice things about our new togs and generally make us feel happy that this life is happening to us right now, and that we have Summer Heart providing part of the soundtrack.

Vanbot – Seven

Super-slick Swedish synth-style! Seven is a taster of the second album by Vanbot. There ought to be two Vanbot albums already but a crisis of confidence led to the follow-up to a self-titled debut being canned in 2013. Sometimes, though, great things can come from the not saying, and the not releasing – from destruction and rebirth.

Perfect Storm was produced/mixed by Johannes Berglund (The Knife, Shout Out Louds), and written by Vanbot, co-written with Jan Kask (Say Lou Lou, Tove Styrke) and Adam Olenius (Shout Out Louds).

Perfect Storm is out on May 15th.

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Harriet Little – America

America is a stunning new track from Leeds-based 21-year-old singer and songwriter Harriet Little, It felt wrong to include something so delicate and beautiful as part of a round-up, where it could be swallowed by the sounds around it. Recorded in one take, with a tender intimacy, the occasional instrumental creaks that frame the song could equally be the sound of a heart breaking, over and over.

Oh the places that we dreamed, america
All the states we have been, america
All the signs we ruined, america
All the love I’m leaving, america


The Bluetones – A New Athens

When I think about a forgotten album, one that always springs to mind is A New Athens by The Bluetones. Their sixth studio outing, it sits very nicely in this category because on its release in May 2010 it didn’t even chart in the Top 200. Clearly, for whatever the reason, it just didn’t tempt the public into buying it. The stalwart fans did of course as it’s a topic I’ve seen discussed many times, but for folks looking to pick up a new album at that time it didn’t seem to cut the mustard. Two singles were released on download in June and November 2010, but the lack of interest seemed to be the light going out for the ‘Tones as they split for good in October 2011 following a farewell tour. Was this album meant to be the end though? I really don’t think so, but it does contain some tracks would could be interpreted as a long goodbye.

On its release the album received favourable reviews, scoring well with a 7 out of 10 in PopMatters and 3 out of 5 in Allmusic. This was the first album the band had released since the self-titled The Bluetones in 2006 which itself only charted at 100 and could have been taken as an indicator of things to come. I’ve read these reviews again recently and both speak highly of the album and how it was “their most earnest pop record to date”.

The opening track “The Notes Between the Notes Between the Notes” is a minimalist, electro song with a repetitive one liner which has something of a slight nod toward bands like Air. An interesting way to begin, but a red herring none the less as by track two we are back to the catchy, acoustic indie rock we know and love and that the band had honed over many years.

Lyrically, the album is beautifully written with songs like the gorgeous “Firefly” being in my opinion one of the best it offers.

You can tell that there is a confidence in not only the song writing, but perhaps the band as a whole with this album as it has something of a laid back approach to it all. Other stand out tracks include the beautiful “Golden Soul”, which sits somewhere between Simon & Garfunkel and Buffalo Springfield with its banjo led sound and harmonies while “Half the Size of Nothing” is a bit heavier going in sound and allows Adam Devlin to flaunt a very pleasing guitar riff. Mark Morriss’s softly spoken vocals sound very well rounded and clear to me and I think his range has only got better over time.

Now as a Bluetones fan since the very beginning, I will say that as much as I like this album it’s not my all-time favourite of theirs. That would be their debut Expecting to Fly. “A New Athens” does, however, contain great songs and this album is a fine example of how a band have crafted their trade over the years like a well-oiled machine. I heard Mark Morriss say in an interview recently that he felt this was their best work and that he hopes that it may be something of a slow burner that people will grow to love over time. I’d say that’s a pretty fair assessment.

I don’t think I own very many albums where every single track is exceptional as I believe there will always be “album filler” songs, and “A New Athens” is no different. I don’t adore every track on it, but I certainly don’t avoid any of them. It’s definitely one that requires repeated listening to really let it get under your skin and this is why I would class it as a forgotten gem.

So I guess I should end with why I think you should listen to this album. Well, The Bluetones were a band that appeared during the ’90s Britpop scene, but unlike some of the other casualties of that time they managed to come out on the other side. I think (and this is just my opinion) they were a band that got better over time, but for some reason lost the fans as they went. I have no idea why they didn’t stay; it’s something that frustrates me quite a lot. I follow life after the ‘Tones with great interest and I think that Mark Morriss has come into his own with his solo work, which is a testament to his ability to craft a beautiful song. A New Athens marks the end of a band that had some great successes, but remain one of the most underrated acts that I can think of. This album has ended up being their swan song and I feel that it’s now ready for a bit of love and attention and the audience that it deserves. So why not give it a whirl and see what you think. You have absolutely nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

Modest Mouse – Strangers To Ourselves

It’s been eight long years since indie rock band Modest Mouse’s last album, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. For those eight long years, fans of the band have wondered not only whether they would record another album, but also, can they keep it going with their brand of philosophical but catchy and enigmatic rock. The band answered these questions when they released their sixth album, Strangers To Ourselves on March 17th.

Our first taste of the album presented itself in first single “Lampshades On Fire”. A straight-forward but intricate epic, it is one of the most anticipated tracks of recent memory, and it doesn’t disappoint. Everyone likes a song they can hum to, and here the bridge gives them an eloquent, “ba-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da we’re all going, we’re all going to Hell”. It’s a great song with diverse instrumentation and sporadic changes, starting with an organ and exploding into a full-force indie rock party anthem. Sure, it’s no “The World At Large”, but Modest Mouse has shown the ability over the years to excel at both sweet fuzzed out indie and loud party jams.

One of the highlights of Strangers to Ourselves is the Talking Heads-esque “The Ground Walks With Time In A Box”. At over six minutes in length, it somehow takes advantage of every second, with a frenetic pace and driving guitar. Another standout is the haunting “Of Course We Know”. It’s a slow builder with fuzzed out vocals and gorgeous harmonies.

The album begins, however, with the title song, a rather quaint and quiet offering, featuring a violin. It could pass off as the slow dance number at a hipster wedding.

Strangers To Ourselves is a solid album and definitely worth a spin. However, if you were hoping all that time off was put to creating a genuine masterpiece or even something of a departure from their usual sound, you would be disappointed. Listening to the record feels like listening to any other of Modest Mouse’s most recent records: a little bit of outlandishness, a little bit of quiet indie fare.

Piano Day Playlist

In case you missed it, last Sunday was Piano Day, an idea dreamed up by the supremely gifted Nils Frahm. It was a day for celebrating the grandest of all the instruments and also, it turned out, a chance for Nils to drop a surprise free album, Solo.

RRP does not have a free, surprise album to gift to the world, but we can instead humbly offer you a playlist that showcases the piano in its various guises from pop accompanist to bringer of magical melody to modernist prepared hammered thing. In the process, we hope to be the first site to successfully feature John Cage and Chas & Dave in the same playlist.