talks radio rebellion
M e ta l
Is it too mainstream?
Liars + mr scruff + Virus Syndicate +Chet Faker
Body Cheetah stateside psycho swagger
A Message From The Editor Underground music. What exactly is it? An unsigned contract? An experimental sound? Glorified by anyone who considers him or herself a ‘music lover’, yet still a mystery to the media, underground music, as the name suggests, is shrouded in darkness. In this very special issue – designed, written and produced in a single day – our team of rebellious young journalists stick two fingers up to the mainstream, and take on the murky world beneath. Pop oppression is no more, as we discover Body Cheetah’s “psycho swagger” and ask whether metal can still hide in the shadows. We’ve got radio revolutionaries, Ruth Barnes and John Kennedy, discussing why new music should rule the airwaves. And we’ve got reviews spanning the subterranean spectrum, including fresh cuts from Liars, Chet Faker, Mr Scruff and Kate Tempest to name but a few. So whether you’re into drum & bass, indie rock, hip-hop, or even some obscure form of atmospheric electronica, dive on in, and find out exactly what is the underground issue. Ben Hindle Editorial Team
Editor- Ben Hindle Deputy Editor and features editor- Richard Lowe Reviews Editor – Connor Cass News Editor – James Barlow Website Editor - Louise Egan Production Editor – Jodie-mae Finch Podcast Editor – Andrew Yates Sub-editors – Nathan Butler and Katie Vowles Picture Editor – Joe Price Design Editor – Kiwi Vincent Design Team – Kialha Nakahara and Heather Lewis
Matthew Bisgrove Steven Fox Jack King Joshua Pauley Niamh Moore Aaron Joliff Sarah Elsaiedy Lydia Hughes Louise Egan Dan Treanor Laura Tompkins Billy Bentley Kenya Scarlett Will Ackrill Sam Fisher Callum Cornwell
Twitter @AudioAddictMag http://www.audio-addict.co.uk To advertise or for press enquiries contact us at: AudioAddictEditors@hotmail.co.uk
Special thanks to Martin James, Fiona Sturges, Louise Morell, Carl Loben and Leslie Gilotti
Audio Addict magazine and blog are produced by students on the BA (Hons) Popular Music Journalism course at Southampton Solent University. The views expressed in the magazine and blog are the students’ and contributors for which the University and its staff can not be held responsible.
Contents Check out our Adlibtionary, and find out why youâ€™ll never be Kool AD p.5
Delooze, Grindhouse, Ninetails and The Diamond Age, the new sounds of the underground p.6
Ruth Barnes and John Kennedy talk rebellion on the airwaves p.8
Metal and the mainstream, are they as opposite as theyâ€™d have us believe? p.10
What the hell is psycho swagger? Body Cheetah explains all p.12
Exploring Emo Punk and Pop in the modern underground scene p.15
news Making Scents of Electronic Music
Innovative perfumer Geza Schoen is working alongside music and visual arts festival Unsound on a new project called Ephemera. This project, in keeping with the experimental nature of the festival, will feature original compositions from Tim Hecker, Kode9 and Ben Frost to each respectively inspire Schoen’s new scents, ‘Drone’, ‘Bass’ and ‘Noise’. Schoen has said “Electronic music can be quite abstract, yet certain sounds can trigger crossovers to certain smells for me.” A collection of the scents will be released later this year following the collaboration of the perfumes and music at the New York edition of the festival on March 31st. Words by Samantha Fisher
Blissfields Announces First Batch Of New Acts The award-winning Winchester-based festival Blissfields announced its first set of acts for 2014 earlier today – March 20th. To tie in with this year’s Lou Reed-saluting theme of “walk on the wild side” artists such as Tune-Yards, Sleigh Bells and Hercules & Love Affair have been confirmed. The weekend will also feature performances from Chloe Howl, Wolf Alice and 2manydjs. The festival’s organisers have also announced that this year will introduce the ‘Fields Of Bliss Spa’ a relaxation area complete with hot tubs, showers and saunas. Blissfields will take place from the 3-5th of July at Vicarage Park. Words by James Barlow
New Wu-Tang on the Horizon Legendary Shaolin monks Wu-Tang Clan dropped ‘Keep Watch’ on the 19th of March, the first single from their long-awaited 20th anniversary album A Better Tomorrow. According to the group, the album is “almost ready to ship”. Raekwon spoke out about his discontent with the uneven workload when creating the album, reportedly is largely being helmed by RZA. “I would be the first one to say that we cannot leave everything in RZA’s hand no more,” Rae says on RZA’s vision for the album “His plan was to do a more humble album. We was like, Nah.You can’t do that with the hardest group in the game.” A Better Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the groups’ genesis and comes after a silence since 2008’s 8 Diagrams. Words by Louise Egan
THE ND UNDERGPERRO’US RAP ONARY ADLIBTI
Kool A.D. Is The Best Rapper In The World (Not You)
Remember how Kool A.D. was part of rap group Das Racist who were hailed as an important emerging voice in hip hop in 2008? Were you in a super important rap group in 2008? Nah son, you were sitting in your holey pants playing Fallout 3 and eating Cool Original Doritos, shouting at your mum to get you a six-pack of Dr Pepper.
You didn’t have the cojones to deliver a devastating freestyle for Pitchfork consisting of the line “Michael Jackson. A million dollars.You feel me? Holla” repeated four times. You were telling your friends at school how funny the ‘Spraying bare bars The widespread success of frequent with your nan’ Facebook page is and pretending that you had a lyric adlib users Kanye West and Jay Z has book overflowing with bars, but you “left it at home”.
taught us to never underestimate the power of impromptu wordplay. Audio Addict presents to you a collection of the finest adlibs from the most enticing rappers currently buzzing across the blogosphere, complete with their etymology.
You didn’t come up with “more bars than like, three jails”, the greatest braggadocio rap line ever made. Instead, you were telling your little cousin jokes you found on sickipedia and making him swear not to tell your aunt because you’ll get your Xbox taken away from you. CHANCE THE RAPPER – “Igh!” - | <igh> | - definition: a yell
of surprise that serves as a testament to the sheer power of the adlib, considering it subsequently landed the rapper collaborations with the Biebs and Skrillex following its coinage.
You also didn’t leak your debut album today, but Vicky Vasquez did. That’s why he’s the best rapper in the world and D DOUBLE E – “Oh my gosh!” - | əʊ maɪ ɡɒʃ | - definition: a bored, elongated not you. Word. O.K? sigh of disbelief. Whilst its origin is unknown, it’s not illogical to rule it out as a parody of Big Sean’s ludicrous “oh gawd!” adlib. Words by Nathan DANNY BROWN – “Thirty!” - | θɜːti | - definition: a numeric exclamatory, Brown used Butler
‘thirty’ prominently on his second album ‘XXX’, simply as a celebratory marker of his 30th birthday.
KOOL A.D. – “Best rapper in the world!” - | best ræpər ɪn ðə wɜːld | - definition: a bold statement declaring that Kool A.D. is indeed, the best rapper on the planet, which first surfaced on his 2013 mixtape Not O.K. Considering the humorous nature of his former rap outfit Das Racist, it’s likely in jest.
LIL’ B – “BASEDGOD” - | beɪstɡɒd | - definition: a statement of the highest level of rarity, coined by the Internet’s prolific king of all things based. However, the phrase been used as a term of endearment by many other rappers who run the e-streets. MIGOS – *Incessant repetition* - | ??? | – definition: the line you just heard, once again, with added inflection. Often coupled with the infamous ‘Migos’ flow, a legendary rap style coined by Quavo of the group that’s been imitated by the likes of Kanye West. SMOKE DZA – “Riiiigggghhhhhht” - | raɪt | - definition: an elongated drawl of affirmation, passed down to the present DZA lineage by Smoke’s righteous uncle. YOUNG THUG – “Sheesh!” - | ˈʃiːʃ | - definition: initially appearing on his collaboration with Yung Mazi entitled ‘Don’t Wait’, Young Thug takes an utterance more commonly used by middle class white girls and turns it into a hard-hitting identification marker. 2 CHAINZ – “2 chaiiinzzzz!” - | tuː tʃeɪnz | definition: an introductory howl that appeared when the rapper dropped his previous derogatory moniker. 2 Chainz might currently have a chain collection far beyond his name suggests, but rappers of the underground widely laud his huge contribution to restoring faith in the adlib’s marketing power. Words by Josh Pauley
Introducing Delooze “It’s always difficult to describe what kind of music you make,” says Stacey Delooze: singer, songwriter, visual artist and the driving force behind Delooze. Her debut album, Glass Army, hits the shelves in a few weeks, and that’s not all. Delooze also has a UK tour to rehearse for, not to mention her PledgeMusic campaign to raise money for merchandise and vinyl manufacture. That may seem like a lot for some, but Delooze is definitely up for the challenge of bringing her brand of “organic orchestral pop” to the masses. Delooze are already making waves with their decorative live shows, which involve video projections and outlandish lighting.
“People come to watch live shows, and to be entertained. That’s what is important,” she says. “Music is a bit different now’’. Before she even sets off on her UK tour, Delooze is playing an intimate and exclusive set to launch Glass Army on April 16th at London’s Electrowerkz. She explains the reason behind the show: “It’s there so we can manage how many vinyls we need to manufacture, instead of making lots for people to just not buy.” Delooze is armed and ready to bring her music and her live show to all of you. The question is: Can you handle it? Words By Matthew Bisgrove
Grindhouse Gather round, gather round. If you’re in the market for a “beefy sludgy hardcore” band to plug the ominous abyss in your life, you’ve come to the right place. South Coast band Grindhouse is full of love for “big ‘Sabbath riffs” and “filthy punk”. Formed when the members were in school, the band eloped to Brighton to use it as their hub to bring their music to “open minds”. Ever since, the band has been working towards something they can be proud of, something that guitarist Tom Hutchinson believes has been achieved. Speaking of new material he said: “We’re all happy with it. It’s pretty filthy to be fair; it’s all beefy and raw. We had to take a step back and say ‘Whoa, that’s fucking nice.’”
In support of the new material, the band are playing an EP release show at Sticky Mike’s in Brighton on April 30th. They’re also embarking on a four-day weekender from the end of May to the start of June starting in Corby and ending in Stoner Rock’s own back garden: Birmingham. ‘I think we’re playing North Wales and there’s a hunting shop right next to the venue. I think we’re definitely going to go in and look at the ninja stars and stuff.’ Come and get your fill of Grindhouse, if not you’ve still got a hole to fill, right? Words By Matthew Bisgrove
Ninetales “Its not in my heart to be famous and to win the f**king Mercury prize,” Jordan Balaber is honest not only in his approach, but in his music too. He makes up half of ethereal dream-pop group Ninetails, whose name was given to them by a former member’s girlfriend as an “embarrassing” ode to the Pokémon of the same name.
When it comes to music, Balaber is sincere about its forming: “A lot of the time we’ll just take time and digest music,” he reveals. “There might be a six-month period where I become really passionate about a certain array of sounds, and how the vibe will come off. Then I’ll sit down and put it all together, and work out how I want things to sound.”
Following the recent release of their EP Quiet Confidence Balaber, who originates from Washington DC, is using the rest of his residency on Merseyside to polish off Ninetails’ first full-length album. “We’re super excited by it,” he says. “Where ‘Quiet Confidence’ is really straightforward with all its pop and grandiose, this stuff is more abstract and open to interpretation.”
Along with finishing off their first and less conspicuous record, Ninetails are also supporting electronic artist Jon Hopkins on May 1st at Liverpool Sound City. I get the feeling that if you don’t listen closely enough to the shell that is Ninetails, you’ll miss the sound of their waves falling calmly over the rocks of the industry. Just try not to blink. Words By Matthew Bisgrove
The Diamond Age “One thing I hate is when someone tells me who to listen to – they don’t know who I am. I’m an individual, I’m unique” moans Bilu Acharjee who makes up one half of exciting indie outfit The Diamond Age. His complaint neatly embodies the band’s attitude towards their marketing campaign: there isn’t really one. After putting everything into previous bands Dead! Dead! Dead! and Woven Bird - which despite landing support slots with Arctic Monkeys, Ash and The Young Knives didn’t achieve the success they sought - Acharjee and his bandmate Matt Canning stripped everything away until they were left with just the
music that they wanted to be making. After uploading their tracks ‘Yesterday Was’ and ‘Andrew’s An Android’ onto SoundCloud without even a band photo or biography in late November the duo simply waited to be found – a ‘totally mad strategy’ admits Acharjee. And found they were, after garnering over 10,000 plays on SoundCloud the two have received encouragement all around – they have graced the pages of this week’s NME and Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde can be counted as a supporter after playing the group’s music on his radio show. The future for The Diamond Age? Acharjee smiles “It may sound really arrogant but we have no agenda, no plans, we’re just letting people approach us”. Words By James Barlow
Radio Rebellion: Transmissions From The Underground
Radio is a strange world. Fronted by scruffy men and dominated by suits with statistics, what gets played is very much down to the charts and sales, meaning most things fall by the wayside. Only a fool would come to the conclusion that what gets aired on Radio 1 is the best music has to offer, so is anyone playing the truly great stuff?
of these people. Presenter of the UK’s only all-female new music playlist show, The Other Woman, Barnes is passionate about all things underground. “I think there’s a direct link between listening figures and playlists becoming more conservative,” she says. “Because radio stations are going for the lower common denominator in order to keep their listeners, and not scare them away”. So why is exposure for new and underground music on the radio so important? “It’s supporting the arts, it’s supporting culture, it’s supporting the creative industry. Society starts turning sour when you don’t support your creative industry. But past that, youngsters making new music should be getting that.”
“Discovering something new to you for the first time that is really, really, really exciting”
Gone are the ‘glory days’ of pirate radio, where anyone with a decent music taste and a penchant for breaking the law could broadcast or listen freely. Now when it comes to underground music, internet radio is the place to go. Apps like Tunein host a variety of stations, both digital and internet-based, so anyone with the right equipment can throw out whatever they want to listen to, to whoever wants to listen. FM also hosts incredible shows on local radio, like the South Coast’s Lush FM’s Hot Plates (“Minimal Dub… You can expect weight, expect bass, expect guest battles... and you can probably expect bloodshed. It’s that real.” -according to their Facebook). So who are the people bringing the underground to those with the passion for it, and is there anyone bringing exciting new music to the masses? Amazing Radio’s Ruth Barnes – who also does ‘bits and bobs’ for the BBC – is one
Big stations are slowly coming around to the idea of broadening their horizons, however. While many specialist shows are still late night affairs, DJs with a deep knowledge of music are taking over control of their playlists. XFM’s new music host John Kennedy is one of the giants in the arena, and his passion for new music is almost unrivalled. “Some people get bored of what they’re used to, so we’re looking for that thrill all the time,” he said. New and underground music is important to him, as he states: “I think it’s partly
down to taste, partly down to interest, and excitement. There’s something about discovering something new to you for the first time that is really, really exciting, and that often inspires you to share that with other people. I think that is one of main motivations for it.”
kind of post-dubstep, post-garage stuff that sounds fantastic and they’ve got some great artists who I think are pretty much involved in running the label as well.” John Kennedy certainly knows his stuff, and championing underground labels like that is one step closer to the exposure these bands deserve.
With such a variety of underground bands working in the shadows, sorting the wheat from the chaff comes down to people like Ruth and John. But what’s exciting them right now? London band Cut are John’s choice. “As a guitar band they’re really exciting because they’ve got a real pop sensibility,” he says. “They kind of combine a bubblegum pop appreciation but bring that together with a noisier side of things. They’re quite psychedelic and progressive in some ways but they’ve got lots of tunes at the same time, and they make a really great racket”. Flying the flag for the amazing women in music, Ruth Barnes is loving Bethia Beadman: “She’s looking for a label, but she’s brilliant, she used to play keyboards with Hole and now she’s gone solo and she’s fantastic.” Label-wise Tape Club Records and Her Records are their favourites. “I’m really excited about a record label called Her Records, which at the moment is really a kind of internet label,” John says. “You can get their stuff on Bandcamp and Soundcloud... they seem to have a collective of people that are making really interesting electronic music,
With such huge underground scenes, it’s down to the new-age pirates of internet radio to show us what’s what. The few championing new talent on commercial radio however, we salute you. Words By Jodie-mae Finch
UNEARTHING META The genre of heavy metal is f*****g huge. It’s no longer a genre where maybe one kid in the entire school is into it; it’s now a common and globally-known entity. It’s no longer fighting against the mainstream because metal has its own mainstream now. It’s ironic that some metalheads will treat mainstream as a dirty word, even though Metallica can sell out any arena in the world, have done the soundtrack for Hollywood blockbusters, and even have their own film. That is mainstream. Ted Bridges, bassist of underground thrashers
Overthrow reckons “Metal has never stopped getting bigger, and it had many huge offshoots like hardcore and metalcore and nu metal, that was huge”. That’s not to say that metal has lost its punk rock ethic of accepting new bands. On the contrary, the metal underground is bigger than ever. You only need to scratch beneath the surface to discover a brave new world. In 1981 the new wave of British heavy metal was the mainstream of metal. Iron Maiden had just released their seminal second album Killers and were touring
as far as Japan. Whilst publications like Kerrang! were shining the spotlight on bands like Maiden, Saxon, and Judas Priest, there was a new subgenre being birthed in the darkness. In ’81 a new band by the name of Napalm Death released their first album Scum, an album that is to the sub-genre grindcore what Black Sabbath’s debut is to metal. The genre is heavy, distorted, and really fast (Napalm Death’s infamous song You Suffer is a total of 5 seconds). It’s a unique sub-genre due to the fact it’s been around for over thirty years yet
AL'S DARK ROOTS it’s almost exclusively made up of underground bands. Bridges weighs in his thoughts on why that is: “It’s more of an acquired taste, it’s not a something an outsider can come in and listen to whereas someone who doesn’t like metal can come in and listen to Metallica. People who are into grindcore tend to have taken years to get into it.” In the 90s. metal took a new turn with nu-metal, a genre that combined the bounce of hip hop and rap with the heaviness of metal and hardcore. The result was a commercial success with huge acts such as Korn, Linkin Park, and the red cap rap-metallers Limp Bizkit. but whilst the mainstream of metal had raps about ‘hot mammas and pimp daddies’ the underground was producing some of the darkest and most twisted bands to ever infest our ears. Bands like Agrophobic Nosebleed and Italians Cripple Bastards were creating as much distorted noise as possible to further the evolution of underground metal and grindcore. There’s a reason why underground metal is able to explore darker, and more distorted soundscapes
- it’s because they have more space to explore creatively. Bridges speaks from experience, “Underground bands definitely get more creative freedom. I’d say the music industry as a whole does take away creativity away from the business.
These days metal seems to be getting into the charts more and more.
bands than I’ve ever seen about before. Especially with festivals, there’s new talent coming in all the time! If you look at Bloodshot Dawn in particular, they only really started getting big in the last year and now they’re opening the main stage of Bloodstock! I feel like the mainstream had got a bit stale and now the underground is rising up!” Jack King. Dig ‘em Up! 4 Underground Bands You Need To Hear!
There is a lot of producing and trying to put bands in holes.” These days metal seems to be getting into the charts more and more. Last year both Bring Me The Horizon and Avenged Sevenfold’s album reached number 1 in the charts and even this year UK metalcore heavyweights Architects got into the top 20. Whilst the biggest bands in the genre are seemingly pushing their way into the charts the underground continues to push out undiscovered gems. Bridges has faith in the underground circuit, “I think the underground metal scene is thriving, there’s more underground
Black Shapes A strange mix between stoner and hardcore. They’re heavy, fast, and sludgy. Overthrow There’s a reason we got their bassist Ted Bridges to chat with us about the underground. They’re a thrashy force to be reckoned with! Dripback Mixing grindcore and metalcore, these London lot are one of the heaviest bands on the underground circuit. Pissed Off These ex-members of Witch Cult are flying the flag for UK power violence.
CHEETAH -WILD AT HEARTWORDS BY JOE PRICE
Connecticut is bashfully unapologetic, it’s like blush and lipstick on an angry face, we wanted to replicate that in sound
Making music that’s incredibly smart, delightfully smutty, and occasionally outrageously high-concept is a day to day thing for James Kristofik. Describing the world of his main project, Body Cheetah, as “kind of like an alternate reality, where everything is the same but everyone is different”, his world plays under different rules to ours.
The pains of his early life are rarely touched upon explicitly in his music, despite how openly he discussed where his passion for music stemmed from. “As I was walking these laps my mother stopped me in the kitchen and just said to me ‘you might have to live the rest of your life like this, so find something that works.’ So I started singing it.”
He tags his music as ‘psycho-swagger’, and with three Body Cheetah albums under his belt – including the incredibly titled Sluts Talk About Heaven – his music possesses an insatiable lust for the unheard. Treading a thin Lynchian line between hip-hop, psychedelica, and even a touch of anti-folk, no one sounds quite like Body Cheetah.
His need for creation only makes his efforts all the more impressive, considering it’s what he uses as a suppression of his demons. He went on to say, “It became the thing I did instead of thinking about it. And I’ve been panic free, off drugs and healthy for almost 6 years now.”
Producing music as a means to survive mentally, his creativity is continually evolving. “As I got older I started to develop a serious panic disorder. I was hardly able to function. I went through psychosis for six months and I literally thought I had accidentally become aware of Mother Nature, and she was pissed off that I found her.” He struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for years, before he was given treatment in the form of every drug imaginable. He went on to explain how severe it got: “I started walking laps around my house because I was afraid to stand still.”
“As long as I make a song a day, or try to at least, I’m good.” And ever since he began creating music, he’s been remarkably prolific, even going as far to start his own Internet label, Woozy Tribe. That his means to create music resulted in something so passionate, and so exciting, is a gift. He’s gone on to release music under the name James Miller – which he decided to torture himself over and master in one day. “I have insane amounts of unreleased material, but all of those tracks were from a certain era in my recent life with this quasi-medieval concept I was playing with”, he said of the album Sunny On My Throne.
I literally thought I had accidentally become aware of Mother Nature, and she was pissed off that I found her
There’s a clear definition between all of his projects, even if his distinctive voice is heard throughout each one. But perhaps his most exciting and unique project is Cemetery Family Band. It’s a high-concept group formed between all of his best friends, in which all of them play characters of a creepy Connecticutbased family. “The song ‘Sister’s Song’ was the starting point for Cemetery Family Band. From this one song we created backstories for all of the members of CFB. Basically we became the roles of four people living in the house of a hoarder in central Connecticut, and we quietly kill people and hide them under the hoarded material.” He claims the darkness stemmed from long, aimless drives with his friends: “My friends and I like to drive around aimlessly a lot. We call it ‘perusing’. Actually, the world calls it perusing, it’s in the dictionary.” This interesting technique acts as a lot of the inspiration behind the project; he elaborated “central Connecticut is a creepy ass place, it’s just mountain towns with populations under 500. And although it’s creepy, it is also stunningly beautiful” – which is also a perfect descriptor of their music.
“There are a lot of failed townships from the 1700s in Connecticut because people came here to farm, but when they got here the soil was full of large rocks. So people starved, and drank, and froze. Connecticut is bashfully unapologetic. It’s like blush and lipstick on an angry face. We wanted to replicate that in sound.” And that they did, almost unabashedly; they’re creating perhaps one of the most interesting sounds in the more morose underground of Bandcamp. That they’ve done this all without a label, and continue to do so, is incredibly surprising. It always retains his sly wit and dry, dark sense of humour: “I have this song written for Sister about police searching for a missing person, and they finally find the person’s truck submerged in the bottom of a pond. When the cops pull the truck from the pond, they open the bed of the truck and find a massive alligator that eats them all. It got pretty dark.” He’s been making a confident whisper for years, but now it’s about time for his existential howl. World, meet Body Cheetah.
MATT LINDAHL AND LUCAS SMITH
A look into emo punk UK Emo is a scene of like-minded people influenced by ‘80s emotional hardcore and ‘90s slow-meandering emo. While people would usually relate MCR, Fall Out Boy and The Used with the genre, this scene connects with more of a punk ethos. Originating as a Facebook page, an underground scene of passionate bands formed and while emo has never “died,” it’s becoming more prominent and reconstructed for a new generation.
Edward Eames, who is heavily involved in the scene through DIY promotions outfit, Modest Shows feels that: “The UK scene is one of the most inclusive communities I have ever been fortunate enough to be a part of.” Eames has managed to put various bands on from overseas, including Texas based Football Etc, twopiece Papermoons, and French emo punks, Sport. “This scene has enabled me to travel the country, make friends “Focus goes into the who I otherwise would not have met, work with and see ethics of the music,and some incredible bands and people seem to care ultimately give me a sense of that I previously felt about that more in this purpose I was lacking,” he says.
A great deal of publications have been posting articles such as “Emo is back” and “Revival of Emo in the US” over the past couple of months, however none are scene than others,” concerned with an emo scene that is diverse, interesting and right in Another part of UK Emo front of them. There are tons of bands touring is the collection of small labels. Wolf Town the UK and Europe under this banner of UK DIY, Get Into It Recs and Strictly No Capital Emo, and all of them share one similar quality. Letters are just some of the names that come It’s all DIY. Booking tours, putting out records together to give bands chances to release and promotion methods are the essence of records, cassette and zines. Supporting smaller this scene. It seems making friends through artists so they can tour is a really important shows, and helping each other to find ground issue that they confront, and this seems like to stand on is exactly what it’s about. “Focus something the scene is built on. It’s a positive goes into the ethics of the music, and people and vibrant scene that offers community and seem to care about that more in this scene space for unknown bands, which is why it than others,” says Jack Palfery of Norshould definitely be embraced by the UK. wich-based three-piece Important Things. “It’s Words by Steven Fox a pretty communal scene, I guess.”
The sound of the underground
Pop could potentially be the most misunderstood genre. When you picture pop artists it’s almost always images of Beyoncé elegantly empowering the female population, Kesha (now without her $) abusing glitter far more than should be legally allowed or Lady Gaga dressed as baby buffalo while simulating the majestic mammal’s birth (it’s something like that, right?). However, pop doesn’t begin and end at these mainstream titans- bubbling under the surface of the is a variety of artist who avoid clichés and the trap of succumbing generic appeal, but still produce tracks that effortlessly cling to your musical memory. While the whole idea of pop music as an obscurity doesn’t work in the most technical sense, certain artist are sitting comfortably between having an all appealing sound and having the ability to be taken seriously by music fans, by ensuring the directness of a pop hook and elevated by obscure ideas. Last year saw the emergence of synthpop groups of a darker disposition, such as No Ceremony/// and Death Rattle, who blend sinister bleepy bloops with soaring choruses, while the current next big thing, Banks, perfects a balance of ethereal vocals with captivating
R’n’B.You can’t help but feel Bipolar Sunshine perfectly echoes sentiments that are shared by these underground pop artists “I love big pop songs. I like really good choruses and hooks, but I like them to have some sort of substance, so they’re not throwaway,” a clear indication that pop is being revolutionised, and not by the usual suspects. However, casting a view out to Europe for these artist leads to an abundance of pop perfectionists, such as MØ and Oh Land, specifically the Danish latter being the very embodiment of alternative pop. Her latest album, Wish Bone, makes it feel like she’s leading the pop underground army. From the feminist tinged sarcasm of ‘Renaissance Girls’ to the funky fun of ‘Pyromaniac’, Oh Land’s career is a wealth of pop gems that should be heading up the charts, but fortunately she’s claimed by the underground, never to be spoilt by convention. So if you’re looking at pop music you can enjoy without the guilt of fuelling the formulaic machine, these artists perpetuate what’s right about pop music and yes, pop music can be phenomenal. By Connor Cass
UP THE UNDERGROUND
It’s gonna get to the point where it’s proper hardcore porn in there
We asked Morley Adams of British rock group Ming City Rockers what she thought of the underground, and she had quite a bit to say... “What I’d like to change about it is I’d like there to be more variation. A lot of music these days seems like people have run out of stuff to do and to be new have come out as metal bands going to pop music and back again. To me, I can’t listen to it. I’d rather have it as something more simple. But if you strip it down and have like three chords, you can make something new without having to make it so odd and not-listenable. That’s what most bands seem to do these days, and all that’s just really boring. I’d rather people went back to being like they were years ago when you talk about typical rock stars. When they actually have a laugh and they do stuff that’s considered fun instead of just saying ‘Oh we don’t take drugs, we don’t drink, we don’t do anything’. I don’t like that. It gets to the point where people want to see something new, and if it’s that kind of thing I know people say it can be a bad influence on people but I don’t…
People want to see change, people want to admire people, and nobody has any rock idols anymore, nobody seems to admire guitars for example. I think it’s because they are actually really boring people... I watched Miley Cyrus, that ‘Wrecking Ball’ video – I thought I’d check it out. I don’t really like the fact that everything is very sexual in music videos all the time, and that’s getting boring, how far can you go? It’s going to get to the point where it’s proper hardcore porn in there, that’s the only direction you can go because it’s all been done now. It’s all boring. I think we need to look in different places, not just looking to the rich kids but looking in all sorts of areas, and bands from all over to bring something new to it. People instead are just going to London and get some rich kid’s band.” -Morley Adams of Ming City Rockers
With flashy LA Art School backgrounds and six previous albums under their belt, New York based trio Liars’ refusal to be categorised is still going strong with latest album Mess. Doting on electronics since their name-making debut in 2001, Liars have
never been ones to shy away from criticism of their experimental ways. This album highlights the band continuing to push boundaries in order to create something original with house and industrial influences. Mess opens with a ro-
botic voice commanding, “take my pants off” and “eat my face off, give me your face”. Straight away you wonder what they’re going to do next. Gloomy vocals drone along to the kind of music you’d expect in a dark computer game from the 80s. At times there are
LIars 'mess' mate battle between house and industrial. With a Rammstein aesthetic the underlying house beat creates an ideal balance, resulting in a well-rounded track. Meanwhile, cool down track ‘Can’t Hear Well’ continues on the
“‘Pro Anti Anti’ stands out as the ultimate battle between house and industrial.” house vibe yet this time with folky vocals, or at least as folky as Liars can go. ‘Mess On A Mission’ kicks in with a promising start with heavy focus on percussion and electro. The vocals seem to be undermined by this until you get to the chorus and you are hit with an abundance of lively lyrics that at first may seem piercing but give it time and this will be your favourite track.
hip-hop vibes shrouded in dark overtones which paired with the occasional howling vocals and a consistent beat help to maintain an eerie aura. Fluctuating instrumentation, particularly in ‘Boyzone’ gives off the feeling of the music literally travelling through your mind and perhaps even your soul. ‘Pro Anti Anti’ stands out as the ulti-
If you’ve been listening to this album properly then the title of final track ‘Left Speaker Blown’ would be an appropriate outcome for you to expect. The album closes to a chilled out track that stays true to the Liars’ dark verve and moreover their abstinence from categorisation. There is a certain dynamic in the diversity of Mess that leaves you wanting to hear more. Words By Samantha Fisher
Mano's Daughter 'Smart'
'Built on glass' In the current post-dubstep climate, a haggard Australian dude with a tremendous beard is delivering soulful jams. His voice and image are completely polarising, which gives Nicholas Murphy the unique appeal to perform under the moniker Chet Faker. His first attempt at a full-length studio album, Built On Glass, is consciously crafted around his voice: a smooth weapon of seduction that bleeds impassioned lyricism over opaque, shuffling instrumentals. Opener ‘Release Your Problems’ takes a jazzy approach that is fully expected from an artist using Chet Baker, the great West Coast jazz legend, as inspiration for his own stage name. The jazz-influenced production continues in strong form until ‘/’ announces “This is the other side of the record.” When ‘Blush’ introduces minimal production that flows into an assiduous beat, it signifies the more adventurous and often darker half of Built On Glass. ‘1998’ comes handsomely strewn with house throwbacks that surprisingly don’t sound tired in a world where pseudo-house is inescapable,
which is a testament to Chet Faker’s ability to keep a unique slant on his music regardless of reference points. Although it has a fragile title, Built On Glass is a solidly produced record that manages its influences in a subtle fashion. It’s a wonderful platform for Murphy to start from.
Words By Nathan Butler
Mr Scruff 'Friendly Bacteria' Although he owns a tea company, Mr. Scruff (Andy Carthy) has been mixing since 1984, and his new release illustrates how vital twenty years of experience and experimentation can be. Opener ‘Stereo Breath’ carves through sound waves with pulsating electro, before the contrasting, sleek vocals of Denis Jones emerge. Jones’ voice is frequent on the album, providing soulful tones on ‘Thought To The Meaning’ too, with a heavy, yet minimal percussion pushing Jones’ voice to the forefront. Robert Owen’s sensual vocals on ‘He Don’t’ instil a passion. However, Vanessa Freeman’s feature on ‘Come Find Me’ impresses the most; her smooth, sensual 90s garage-style vocals float over the 2-step influenced production mixed with soft chords and harmonised backing vocals. With a Mr. Scruff & Friends Camden Roundhouse takeover planned for late May, Carthy has once more demonstrated his understanding and knowledge of music, ranging from soul, seen on ‘Thought To The Meaning’, clear funk roots on ‘He Don’t’, early techno fused with jazz on ‘What’ and disco chords on ‘Render Me’. Whether collectively or apart, each genre and influence is threaded through Friendly Bacteria’s electro spine and it all furthers the evolution of Carthy’s sound.
After bracing the underground scene with their debut single, ‘The Machine’ London’s synth-pop 3 piece Mano’s Daughter have eventually got to releasing their first five-track LP, Smart. Consisting of vocalist Sarah Carter, Matthias Garrick working on synth and programming and drummer Dan See, the trio have previously been described as a mixture of Little Dragon and Florence & The Machine with hints of Portishead. More renowned for creating unpredictable, explosive live shows crammed with mainstream-ready choruses and thought provoking lyrics, the forthcoming LP has
allowed Mano’s Daughter to experiment with their mingling of ominous neo-goth, electropop and 90’s dance sound. ‘The Truth in Madness’ the first track on the EP instigates with comely synth-sounds before delving into a spaced-out, masterful fusion of Carter’s vocals driven by a background of bombastic synth melodies. Beginning slowly, third track ‘Tailored’ provides an eccentric mix of See’s gradual drumbeats with Garrick’s addition of robotic textures before running towards synth-pop anthem. ‘September’ shows softer side of the ensemble, filled with desirable celestial keys, dreamy lyricism and spellbinding synth. Inclusively, Smart offers a creatively spellbinding facet to the UK’s underground electronic scene, with melodies conjuring imagery of starfilled skies and falling in love for the first time.
Words By Will Akrill
Words By Sarah El-saidy
Virus Syndicate Fresh from the release of the Karateman signature, attitude-laden slang flows which mixtape alongside Jaguar Skills, ManchesterVirus Syndicate have made so famous. based Grime veterans Virus Syndicate kick off their second decade of existence with Whilst the band have never been about the release of third album The Swarm. reppin’ endz blud, the socially conscious ‘BIMC’, a tribute to the joys of bass nature of almost all of the songs on the overload, channels some of album showcases a group Songs like ‘Knock It the spirit of the monolithic who’ve grown up, gotten Back’ reflect on the LFO orientated, Deep Mediwiser and survived in the darker side of rock ‘n meat grinder that is the style dubstep to which early roll excess Grime artists such as Virus international music industry. Syndicate owe so much to. Songs like ‘Knock It Back’ reflect on the darker side of rock ‘n roll Collaborations with Kahn or Mala on the excess, whilst ‘Simmer Down’s lyrical record seem obvious, but for whatever content warns of the dangers of next hype. reason they don’t appear. That said, most of the collaborations on the album work Alongside the lyrical content, the flows well – embracing the dirtier side of the on the album are well done, showing that modern EDM scene. This is all alongside whilst the group may have become wiser, the unrelenting flows that Virus Syndicate the venomous energy behind their music still bring on tracks like ‘Knock It Back’, is still very much there.Virus Syndicate featuring tastefully named Ukrainian EDM have delivered an evolved sound of that producer Teddy Killerz. they debuted a decade ago, incorporating modern EDM into their sound without ‘Worker Bees’ showcases slick social once compromising or relenting. commentary. In their 10 years of existence, Virus Syndicate’s viewpoint has changed: it’s socially conscious, but delivered in the Words By Richard Lowe
Mr Little Jeans 'Pocket Knife'
Scandinavia – they have catered for all our musical tastes, whether it is the infamous synth of ‘The Final Countdown’ and dancing queens themselves, ABBA. Adding to this list of foreign fancies is Monica Birkenes, a pop-electro wonder woman who goes by the name Mr Little Jeans who released her debut album Pocket Knife.
Her breathy singing style allows the singer to evoke a sense of vulnerability into the songs, juxtaposing with the upbeat tempos and electronic backing, adding a touch of edginess of the songs. However, the edginess does not risk the ambient mood of Pocket Knife, the breathy backing ‘ahs’ compliment the vocals beautifully, emitting a The 1975 vibe around the album. ‘Oh Sailor’ opens with handclaps and an electronic vibe, something only Mr Little Jeans could pull off, but she does it her way. With a sparse verse comes a climatic chorus and accompanying her is a chorus of youthful voices that could make someone’s heart explode with cuteness. This is Mr Little Jeans, a one-woman band that defies the rules of pop, creating her own unique sound. Throw in some synths, backing tracks and vulnerability in the cauldron and you’d be along the right track as to what Mr Little Jeans sounds like. Words By Niamh Moore
The Body 'I Shall Die Here' Hailing from the concrete jungle of Portland OR, The Body have created an experimental and quite frankly extra-terrestrial experience. I Shall Die Here is the ominous soundtrack to a bad acid trip. Thick bleeding bass lines like the blackest tar dripping down the kind of wallpaper you might find at your Grandma’s house. Even if you’re sober, it’ll take less than five minutes for you to feel like the whole world is spinning uncontrollably around you. They’re a synthetic overlay that’s going to make something twinkle iridescently at the back of your mind, while you struggle to cling to reality through screechy and undecipherable vocals. It’s incredible to think that just two men carefully crafted this complex layering of sound and emotion. And it’s more intense than anything you’ve felt before. Just when you think that the album has thrown you into the deepest depths of mental turmoil, and unrecoverable position, The Body throw you a bone: ‘Hail To Thee, Everlasting Pain’ has an almost uplifting quality to it’s intro. A little bounce of adrenaline to bring you back up, before then once again subduing you under a mask of hazy distortion.
‘Magnetica’ is the first album from Quantic as a solo project since 2006’s ‘An Announcement To Answer’ and showcases the road that Will “Quantic” Holland has taken since then. The album is an eclectic menagerie of folk, reggae, soul, highlife and the result of collaborations with many of the finest Latin American and Caribbean artists available to Quantic from his base of Colombia for the past seven years. Opening track Magnetica is a subbass-heavy instrumental that truly summarises the album and sets the listener up for an album constantly morphing in its myriad styles. The electronic influences that stem from Quantic’s enthusiasm for the advances in technology linked to each of the musical worlds in which he dwells, underline the driving style of ‘Magnetica’. Each track brims with the energy of its genre influences; the vibrant Latin American and Spanish styles found in tracks “Descarga Cúantica” and
the exotic nature of Hispanic vocals from Colombian singer Nidia Góngora in “La Plata” are complimented by laid back beats best served in the sunshine.
From the reggae influenced and expertly collaborated on tracks “Spark It” and “Caruru” to the laid After an hour of doubting back and poignant finale “Painting everything you know about music Silhouttes”, each track on ‘Magnetiand even life itself, I Shall Die Here ca’ serves as a souvenir of Quantic’s becomes an experience you crave personal and musical experiences, to relive, like the bitter taste of bile and will serve as your soundtrack at the back of your throat, that you to an exciting and adventurous only really want more of. summer. Words By Callum Cornwell Words By Louise Egan
Ages and Ages 'Divisionary'
riZe vadZimu riZe’ Defining an album by genre is always a hard task, but Seattle based Chimurenga Renaissance have successfully made genre classification nigh on impossible. riZe vadZimu riZe is a recipe of intricate vocal layers, African instruments and futuristic synthesizers. Combining a thumping hip hop backdrop gives a welcome dose of familiarity to Chimurenga Renaissance’s debut experimental showcase. Opening song ‘Red, Black and Green’ is an obscure start to the album. Stacked vocals and beatboxing culminate to achieve an unrivalled air of mystery that continues relentlessly. The simplicity of ‘The Race for Cush Naptha’ is apparent in an album that can at times feel excessive with variation. The stripped back approach puts the lyrical ability boasted by Palaceer Lazaro centre stage, and as a result this track is
the standout song of the album. The album’s penultimate song ‘The Shackles Are Off’ displays Chimurenga Renaissance’s production on this album perfectly. Slight variations accumulate throughout, before providing a collective finish. Chimurenga Renaissance combine an eccentric mix of African rhythm with hip hop characteristics, this unique concoction means riZe vadZimu riZe in its entirety is certainly worth a listen. This album is bound to have at least one aspect that intrigues, regardless if you’re a fan of experimental hip hop or not. Words By Dan Treanor
Kate Tempest 'Everybody Down' Kate Tempest is a rare phenomenon in the form of a poet rapper. Starting out when she was 16, rapping at strangers on night busses and pestering mc’s to let her on the mic at raves, transforming ten short years later to a published playwright, poet and respected recording artist. Having previously featured on tracks with Sinead O Connor, Bastille, King Blues, Damien Dempsey, Pink Punk, and Landslide, ‘Everybody Down’ is the second studio album from Kate Tempest and seems to do nothing but squander her creative talent. Opening track ‘Marshall Law’ prepares the listener for the entirety of the album in that every track bears a disappointing similarity to the last. Tempests mature and often challenging lyrics showcase her talent in other forms of poetry and writing, but mindboggling and repetitive lyrics such as those found in “The Truth” suggest that Tempest should stick to other form of expression. The saving grace of the album arrives in ‘Lonely Daze’ with its comparatively interesting beat, whilst track “The Beigeness” forewarns the listener of the generic feel of Everybody Down. Rapping may be Kate Tempest’s first love, but her lyrical style takes the form of the far too clichéd London hard-life content, ‘Everybody Down’ sounds much too like EVE if she rolled out of bed on a Monday morning in dire need of a Red Bull.
Words By Louise Egan
You often find with bands that have over five members that the music reflects that fact, and that almost all cohesion is lost. Portland band Ages and Ages are an exception to that notion. Their second record ‘Divisionary’ is an assortment of cool, calm and collected. Eight members full - and definitely full of life – Ages and Ages bring you a sound that you’ve heard before, but with added supplements. ‘Light Goes Out’ opens proceedings with upbeat handclaps that Gwen Stefani would be proud of, while ‘I See More’ showcases the bands indie-folk side: think Mumford and Sons taking a stroll back to the late sixties, but with Paul McCartney as
their tour guide. Other tracks such as ‘No Pressure’ and title track ‘Divisionary’ explore similar methods, with the former continuing the band’s tour with Macca, but with them seemingly joined at a bonfire by James Blunt and Fun., and the latter allows you throw up your arms and rejoice ‘’Do the right thing/Do it all the time’’ with the band. Anyone and everyone can be a part of this band. This record isn’t revolutionary at all, but it’s a fun record to walk or have a picnic to. I dare you to not sing a long to this. I double dare you.
Words By Matthew Bisgrove