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Hello Hello you, welcome to the new issue of Zero Core. Bright Light You’ve made Bright a greatLight decision in 06picking us up. Kraffhics We have to say, you’re looking 10 rather lovely today… Article Is that a new haircut? It suits XX you. Article XX Articlea little magazine that’s been We’re XX lovingly created Article in Cardiff. Maybe you caught our XX first issue last Article Well, now we’re two issues October? XX in and hoping you like what you’re about to read. In these pages you can find writings, pictures, and drawings of and by some of our favourite people involved in music, without any commenting on Lana Del Ray (ok, maybe one mention but it was only in passing we swear). This magazine is indebted to all the things that make music great. To the illustrators, video-makers and musicians alike. We hope you like us. If you want to keep in touch you’ll find our email addresses to the right. We’d love to hear from you.
Made by Jen Long, Adam Chard and Marc Thomas. Contributors in order of appearance Sam Lee, Polly Aplin, Adam Smith, Pernille Olsson, Heather Steele, Owen Richards, Tom Hudson, Sian Rowe, Kyle Smart, Andrew Backhouse, Colin Roberts, Al Horner, Helen Wetherhead, Dan Tyte, Francine Gorman, Matthew Britton, Lauren Down, Lauren Keogh, Anika Mottershaw. Thank you James Sherry, Tim, Toby, Lilas, Stephen and Mike at Transgressive, Ben, Alison and Fiona at Green Man, Dan Monsell, Marit Posch, Ben Wileman, Nita Keeler, Ryan Oxley, Tom Davies, Rich Walker, John Rostron, Michael and Rachel at Moshi Moshi, Tom Baker, Ami Lord, Jeff, Christian, Beth, Carina, and Nathan Warren. Zero Core was created via gchat on the East and West sides of the River Taff, Cardiff. All rights reserved and stuff like that. Don’t rip us off. Enjoy.
See you in the summer. Printed by MWL Print. The Editors Issue three due June 2012. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertise with us: email@example.com
New Bands 1. The Jezabels 1.
You can take violin lessons, fake the synth, or teach yourself guitar in a matter of weeks, but there’s one instrument that no matter how hard you try, you’ve either got it or not; the voice. Sure, we’ve all played Rihanna in the shower, or been Stevie Nicks alone in the car, but the gift of those instantly recognisable, flawless and devastating vocal chords, is something money can’t buy. Luckily for The Jezabels, front woman Hayley Mary was born with just that, and some. A four piece from Sydney, they create walls of soaring pop with an intrinsic flair for the dramatic. Their songs smack of the grandiose, but in a very honest, sentimental manner. Think a reserved Florence, but with the ability to make every word feel real.
The group played The Great Escape last year and a small tour of the UK followed, culminating in a one off sold out show at London’s Heaven venue last November. By the time these words make it to print they’ll have headlined Koko as well. Not bad for a band who’ve had very little in the way of press or radio attention. Back in Australia the quartet enjoyed gold selling success with their debut album Prisoner reaching number two in the charts, preceded by a trio of well-received EPs. Now looking to take and break it overseas in the same way, the record will get a re-package and UK release this March. As a debut goes, it’s an impressive and emotional journey with choruses that swell like the hearts they grew from.
It also offers a very mature style of song writing with cornerstones far outdating the usual troupe of skinny jean guitarists. It’s adult and accessible, creative and complex. Prisoner is not a record that will burn out after five plays, but a collection of songs that echo to stand the test of time. Live, the group are an entity to behold; sophisticated and competent, they push the songs to their absolute breaking point, vocal lines erupting from Hayley’s tiny frame like freight trains. And did we mention that voice? thejezabels.com
2. Deaf Club Some bands just seem to come from nowhere. One day you’ve never breathed their name, and by the next you’re completely obsessed with fifteen minutes of their intoxicating noise. Deaf Club are one of those bands. Originating in North Wales but now spread across the UK, the quintet posted their debut Lull EP online somewhere in the middle of last year as a free download. It was immediately picked up by the likes of Abeano and Don’t Die Wondering, and spiralled into the ears of those with taste, receiving comparisons as far stretching as Beach House and The Cure. Live, the group transform their low-fi, ethereal mutters into an utterly captivating and intensely hypnotising blanket of warm and delicate vocals, thick guitars, and emotive sentiment.
3. Olympians Deaf Club’s competency is made only more astounding by their youth and modesty in knowing quite how good they are. Having just released new single ‘Sunday’ digitally via their own White on White label and on cassette through Kissability, the band will continue to tour this year, building on their already solid foundations. With fans at NME, Guardian, and Radio 1, it’s only a matter of time before this band from nowhere will be heard of everywhere. deafclub.bandcamp.com
Music is a serious business. There is money to be made and a lot more to be lost. Bands need to take more into account in the digital age than ever before. There’s social networking, publishing, sponsorship, lawyers, syncs, bullshit… When did we lose sight of the fun? For the four guys who form Olympians, fun is everything. It’s in their composition, in their live performance, in their spirit. It’s in their self-deprecating stage banter, and their relentlessly shifting Conversed feet. This is what it should all be about.
Having just toured the length and breadth of the UK with grin-makers Tubelord, the band are now focusing on starting their own book club. No, for real – this year they will release four singles through Barely Regal and if you buy all four, you’ll receive them in a hollowed out book along with loads of other neat gifts. First single ‘The Great Gatsby’ is out now. Take the time to grab a listen and you’ll be left smiling ear to ear, seriously. onwardolympians.com
Half from Norwich, half from London, Olympians play a precise blend of sophisticatedly fiddly guitars, power-pop choruses, and Death Cab tinged vocals that span the indie hemisphere for influence.
BENJAMIN DAMAGE & DOC DANEEKA
Words: Sam Lee Illustration: Polly Aplin pollyaplin.co.uk
“He was like the Mozart of electronic music!” laughs Doc Daneeka about his long-term friend and musical collaborator, Benjamin Damage. Benjamin Damage and Doc Daneeka (or Ben and Mial) are at their flat in Berlin when we Skype them, and they’re discussing how their partnership first came about. “We’re friends from Swansea, so we’ve known each other forever” begins Ben, but is quickly cut off by Mial, who interjects, “You taught me how to fuckin‘ sequence and use a computer, basically.” Ben pauses. “Yeah, I taught Mial everything he knows.” The pair have been living near the über-cool district of Kreuzberg in Berlin since the summer of 2011 and they had a good reason for leaving Wales behind and moving there as Ben explains, Modeselektor had just signed them up to their label, 50 Weapons. “I met them after one of their shows when they were playing ‘Deeper’ and I got their email address and started sending them stuff. We sent them the tune [‘Creeper’] and they really liked it – so they brought us out to Berlin.”
It feels like we’re going to be able to smell Berlin Although their latest record They!Live is (quite obviously) an electronic album, the production technique borrowed more heavily from Mial’s background of playing in live bands, an approach that was helped by the addition of Abigail Wyles on vocal duties. “Things were kinda jammed in a more traditional way,” explains Mial. “It just added a kind of mood, and that’s what we wanted – to create a more consistent and dramatic mood.”
“She was in the sessions when we were writing the tunes from scratch, writing the drums, melodies, vocals all at the same time,” says Ben. Mial goes on to explain how their new hometown influenced the album, although it wasn’t solely Berlin’s vibrant music scene that was responsible for the record’s sound. “I think it’s more to do with our time here, it’s like a snapshot – we did it in ten weeks, so it’s a short period that reflects our time out here, spending three months in Berlin in the autumn.” Looking to the future, Mial continues, “It feels like we’re going to be able to smell Berlin, y’know – like when you can smell a place sometimes when you listen to a track that you haven’t heard for ages.” It’s clear that the duo are more than comfortable in each other’s company, and even their personalities seems to compliment the other’s perfectly. Mial is the more forthcoming of the two, while Ben is seemingly content to take a back seat throughout the interview, but their rapport is completely natural and unforced. Despite this, though, they suggest that they probably won’t be working together too much in the immediate future. “I think we’ve had enough of working with people!” laughs Mial. “Yeah,” agrees Ben. “Back to being on our own, hunched over in a dark room...” He may be joking, but there’s something in his voice that suggests that Ben and Mial really are at their happiest when working alone. However – luckily for us – you can’t help but feel that wherever either half of this duo goes, the other will never be too far away.
First Aid Kit
“Superb songwriting... glorious”
“Electrifying debut” LOUD & QUiET 8/10
“Debut of the Month” UNCUT HHHH
The new album from Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings. Recorded at Electrical Audio by Steve Albini, this is the first time the band have been in the studio as a four-piece and the resulting songs truly capture the energy of their live show for the first time, whilst also showing a louder, more aggressive and more experimental side to the band.
“A darker, cleverer and, well, just better proposition than most of their so-called peers” NME 7/10
The Lion’s Roar
“A remarkably mature work” UNCUT HHHH
“Intoxicating” THE SUN HHHHH “A brilliant second album” SUNDAY TELEGRAPH HHHHH
“Nothing short of magical” THE FLY HHHH
“Life-affirming” Q HHHH “Bewitching” CLASH 8/10
MOJO HHHH NME 8/10
“This band want you to have as much fun as they so clearly are” Q HHHH
“The sound of alt-royalty still fuelled by youthful fire”
Attack On Memory
“A beguiling, brilliantly unsettling and above all mesmeric listening experience” THE FLY HHHH “A group deserving the same accolades as those far beyond their years” BBC MUSiC “A superb album” CLASH 7/10
“Superb” CLASH 8/10
All Albums AvAilAble on lP (with downloAd code), cd And digitAl formAts.
FEbRuARy : Thurs 23rd Kings College, LoNdoN / Fri 24th Academy 3, MANChESTER
-First Aid Kit-
-Los cAmpesinos!- MARCh : Tues 20th Phoenix, EXETER / weds 21st Thekla, bRiSToL / Thurs 22nd Electric ballroom, LoNdoN
Mon 27th Kings Tuts, GLASGow / Tues 28th The wardrobe, LEEdS / wed 29th Thekla, bRiSToL Fri 23rd o2 Academy2, oXFoRd / Sat 24th Rainbow warehouse, biRMiNGhAM Mon 26th Academy 3, MANChESTER / Tues 27th o2 Academy2, LiVERPooL weds 28th Cabaret Voltaire, EdiNbuRGh / Thurs 29th o2 Academy2, NEwCASTLE Fri 30th waterfront, NoRwiCh / Sat 31st Leadmill, ShEFFiELd
Casey + Ewan
Casey Raymond thinks “The Shags are the most important band of all time.”
“There’s only a few artists like Bjork or DJ Shadow who are still interested in the nature of video.”
He says: “The Beatles may have been the biggest but the Shags influenced more people even though they didn’t sell anywhere near as many records.” These bold words hint at the creative conflict behind the work of Casey and fellow video maker Ewan Jones Morris. The more popular and successful the Cardiff duo get, the more frustrated they seem to be.
So the duo must have been pretty happy when asked to produce the music video for DJ Shadow’s single ‘Scale It Back’. Their astonishing promo is based around the mental story technique used by former World Memory Champion Ben Pridmore.
“We are getting a little cheesed off of making images to go with peoples music and not being able to play with sound,” Ewan says. “We want to try and push things and do something different, we don’t want to repeat what’s been done before.” Words: Adam Smith caseyandewan.com
The pair met around three years ago, thrown together by fluke when each was asked to direct a Truckers of Husk video and neither was prepared to back down. Since then they’ve been honing their distinctive brand of dark comedy, making vaguely menacing collages of surreal cartoon characters, rogue animals, bursts of kitsch and blasts of weird animation.
We want to try and push things and do something different Although you wouldn’t know it to watch their videos, the pair are often forced to compromise to meet creative briefs and financial restraints. “We’ve got folders and folders of ideas but a song that matches just never comes up,” Casey says. “That or the idea is so weird a band would never go for it.
“Music videos are famously full of random images that don’t make any sense,” Ewan says, “and this is a way of coming up with the ideas. But I particularly like the DJ shadow video because it could exist outside of being a music promo.” Both Ewan and Casey seem to have a need to break out of doing music videos in order to push their ideas forward. “We want to make a short film, there’s where our heads are at,” Casey says. “At the end of the day music videos are adverts to sell a band but we do it to get a few quid to make some films.” But will they be able to shake off the restrictions of the form through which they’ve made their name? Or are they doomed to be stuck in the same violent, warped repetition like the characters in the dark talent show depicted in their video for ‘Yo Yo’ by Fujiya and Miyagi? “It’s about getting a certain reputation,” Ewan says. “I think people, like Michel Gondry, develop names for themselves and then you can do what you want. “It’s just about getting to level where people come to you and ask for a video because they want what you do.”
Choir of Young Believers
Words: Marc Thomas Photos: Pernille Olsson ghostly.com/artists/ choir-of-young-believers
After he had killed Jesse James, Robert Ford was himself shot in the back. That was in 1892. Ever since then, his ghost’s been wandering around the Colorado countryside where it’s either hellish cold or hellish hot. He’s watched the birth and death of an American dream, several wars and spent the majority of the 20th century kicking a rusty coke can around waiting for purpose to come along to give his soul a bit of closure. And then, like the trains that cut straight through the bleakness of his death State, comes the sound of industry, smokestacks, tumultuous decades of godless synth music and emotion that never really peaks or troughs – it just stays balanced. It’s either too cold or too hot to do anything else. That sound is Jannis Noya Makrigiannis’ ‘silent Blitzkrieg’ (to quote the man himself). His band, Choir of Young Believers, are just about to release their second album Rhine Gold. “I guess that I would rather not talk geographics when it comes to music,” he tells me from his home in Copenhagen, “With the first record, we often heard that it had a very Nordic sound. I don’t know why but it always annoyed me a bit. When people say something sounds Nordic, I always think of Norse mythology or elves or something.” But with this second album, the Danish act will struggle to avoid pinpointing their sound. Reviewers will not be able to resist, as I have not, making comparisons to the imagery of some dark 70s drama about the life of the working classes (read: The Deer Hunter).
Right from the smoke of ‘The Third Time’ to the conclusive and foreboding drone of ‘Rhine Gold’, this album is all about darkness. “I’ve been playing music all my life and music as a listener has been a huge part of my life ever since I was a kid and it still fascinates me that something that abstract, noises, words and instruments...” says the beautiful voice on the end of the line, “it never gets boring. It’s a never ending universe that you’re drawn into.” He’s right – and it comes pouring out of the speakers for the entirety of this overwhelmingly tight album: Makrigiannis is the creator of universes, the master of sound. The heady synth of ‘Paralyse’ giving way to the rural sound of its own chorus before being enveloped by a speedy tribute to the 1980s and the Krautrock/Chamber pop of ‘Patricia’s Thirst’, every single moment surpasses bleakness to some kind of sexy nirvana.
It never gets boring. It’s a never ending universe that you’re drawn into “You wonder why music is important but when you listen to music and you feel touched or spoken to, you don’t need to tell yourself, talk to your friends or the ones you’re listening to music with,” he says. And when the producer flicked off the light switch on the band’s final session, Robert Ford crushed that coke can under his foot, shrugged his shoulders and finally sat down to rest – all thanks to the brilliance of Choir of Young Believers.
Pulled Apart by Horses
Words: Heather Steele Photo: Owen Richards owenrichards.co.uk pulledapartbyhorses.com
“I’ve not touched a drop of booze yet, have you?” Pulled Apart By Horses’ guitarist James Brown asks drummer Lee Vincent almost as soon as we sit down. “No,” Lee replies, astonished. “But I’m definitely planning to afterwards!”
With the release of second album Tough Love has come extensive daytime Radio 1 airplay, their biggest headline tour to date, and a set of songs certain to recruit a legion of new fans alongside their army of existing ones.
We’re in the depths of Islington’s Buffalo Bar shortly before the band’s album playback showcase, where they’ll later be ‘surprisingly’ unveiled from behind a curtain to play Tough Love live in full for the very first time.
Needless to say, Pulled Apart By Horses are beginning 2012 with a bang. So how was 2011’s groundwork for them?
Our music is kind of harsh and nasty, but in a way it’s kind of nice as well Since their formation in 2008, the duo – alongside bassist Rob Lee and vocalist Tom Hudson – have built a firm reputation for their raucous, injurystrewn live shows and heavy yet accessible music.
“It was a year of two halves,” Lee explains. “We had a really busy summer, we wrote the majority of the album, did lots of festivals and then recorded the album. We were like, ‘we’ll have a quiet summer gig-wise’ and then all these great offers kept coming in. So we were like, ‘We’ve gotta do that, and that one, and that one!’ So it was a really fun and hectic summer, but since then it’s been quiet really. We’ve just been pottering around at home for the last few months!”
The very image of heavily-tattooed Lee “pottering around” at home is one certain to raise a few smiles, especially when taking into account their riff-heavy songs and heavier partying. With this ‘toughness’ in mind, I ask about the significance of their album title.
James explains: “We always say that we’re brothers, and there’s a line where Tom sings, ‘You can do anything with four heads’ and that’s just a reference to us four being in all this together and continuing to do music.”
“The one that stood out was that our music is kind of harsh and nasty, but in a way it’s kind of nice as well,” Lee muses. “It’s not really aggressive, so it’s kind of tough love.”
So besides the themes, what are the main differences between Tough Love and the band’s debut? “It just felt to me that it was a set of songs that we went and recorded, rather than an album that we sat down and wrote,” James explains when describing the former.
“But it kind of clicks, doesn’t it? “ adds James. “Lyrically as well, as there’s stuff about getting older. It’s a coming of age album!” As well as their continued fascination with 70s horror films – see their B movie-style video for ‘V.E.N.O.M.’ and the Inferno-inspired lyrics contained within ‘Epic Myth’ – the four of them as a unit remain an everpresent source of lyrical inspiration.
“And I think that with Tough Love we had time to sit down and make it and practice and rehearse. We did pre-production for the album, which we’d never done before, so I guess it was just a step up, and a learning curve for us as well. I sometimes say that it’s a bit more grown-up…”
“It is more – and it’s a horrible term to say – but it is a more mature album,” says Lee enunciating each word with a look of horror. “But we didn’t want to make the first album mark two, cos what’s the point? We have to be happy as a band with the songs that we’re playing, so I’m happy with it in the sense that it’s still totally got our vibe and the feel of our band, but it’s obviously a step up and a progression.”
We didn’t want to make the first album mark two, cos what’s the point? One aspect of this progression is their collaboration with producer Gil Norton – the man charged with maintaining the intensity of their raw live sets on record. “We had a few demos that we’d done ourselves, and our label told us to start making a wish list of producers,” Lee explains. “We’d just watched the Foo Fighters documentary Back And Forth and we were like, ‘Wow, The Colour And The Shape is a great album! It would be amazing to work with Gil Norton.’ So we were like, ‘Fuck it put him on the list,’ and then he got approached, it turned out that he really wanted to record us and then it happened! It still all just blows my mind!”
“One of the things about us is that we’re purely enjoying ourselves!” says James. “We’re enjoying other people enjoying what we do, so we’re not expecting a number one, or being on billboards and playing arenas, although if that did happen it would be amazing. But that’s not the goal with this album or anything.” “I think you’ve just got to take everything as it comes, and just enjoy everything as it comes,” Lee continues. “And then if we’re not around in two years we’ve had a great time, but if you start thinking too much about the band and going ‘We’ll be rich and famous’ then you’re just gonna end up being disappointed. But as long as we’re doing better things and bigger things, and moving on as a band then we’ll continue to be happy.” Yet for all the album’s imminent success, this is a band that loves to tour incessantly. Lee is optimistic: “The album coming out is amazing, but we’re just gagging to tour! So hopefully there will be more good tours, more festivals and just pushing the album, which I guess the only way you can do it is by playing live.”
James is equally surprised: “It was literally a piss take, we didn’t expect him to get back to us, and then the next thing we know we’re in Leeds doing fucking pre-production with him! So it was pretty bonkers.”
“Then we’ll just see what happens,” James continues. “We’ll just do what we always do and end up saying yes to everything!” With an outlook like that, it’s impossible to predict the extent that Pulled Apart By Horses will continue to ‘mature’ throughout the year.
Now that Tough Love has been released, what are the band’s hopes for the rest of the year? “We remain aspiration free!” Lee laughs. “That way you can never be disappointed and you’re always happy.”
But one thing’s certain; they definitely deserve that celebratory drink.
Tom Hudson 1.
1. The Crystal Ball Smashed After the Orgy 2. Death Avenger 3. Myth Practice
The Pulled Apart by Horses frontman shares some of his latest artwork with you lucky people.
Owen Richards FEATURE
Words: Sian Rowe owenrichards.co.uk
(Main image) Phil, White Sands, New Mexico – part of recent series Thirteen States, Seventeen Days (over page) 1. Caribou for Dummy 2. Mazes 3. Still from Elsewhere short film 4. Frank Black for Loud and Quiet
If you’ve read the UK music press in the last 8 years, there’s more than a small chance that you’ll have seen Owen Richards’ photography. A fascination with his family’s SLR camera as a child led him to a degree in photography and at Exeter music venue The Cavern, he started documenting the then thriving UK Rock crowd; think Tyler, In Emergency, Kids Near Water, and Hundred Reasons. He eventually picked up commissions from much loved, now dead music magazine Plan B as their unofficial ‘South West correspondent’ (it actually involved some pretty long drives) and since moving to London, he’s beaten the downturn to make photography his full time career. Alongside shooting the likes of the xx, Washed Out, Caribou and JR Ewing for publications including The Guardian, NME and Loud & Quiet, Owen remains dedicated to capturing his friends’ bands and the furthest reaches of the UK underground music scenes. As he says himself, behind every great scene is an equally brilliant photographer. Pssst, he’s also the man behind our Pulled Apart By Horses cover. “Music ties everything together and part of the history of music is documenting it. Even the nature of recorded music is archiving it! Sometimes it’s special that there’s hardly anything recorded or documented about a band or musician, but on the whole, with every great music scene there’s a great photographer or photographers behind it. A key one for me is Charles Peterson who documented grunge, Nirvana, Mudhoney, all the Sub Pop bands. I absolutely adore him because his pictures have so much energy in them and so much emotion. Another is Glen Friedman. I first studied him at University but before long I found out he was everywhere. He was there at the beginning of Dogtown and Z-Boys.
“He was there at the birth of punk with Black Flag and Minutemen. He was there at the beginning of Hip Hop as well. It is insane he can be THE photographer for all of those things. Friedman would just get right in there. He could have had a bigger better camera but maybe he wouldn’t have got the same feeling. He was in the right place at the right time.
With every great music scene there’s a great photographer behind it “My favourite shoot was with Pixies’ Frank Black. I had to meet him in a hotel which was a nightmare, hotels are not the most inspiring places. He’s notoriously grumpy and I think he was pretty jetlagged but I managed to coax him outside and because it was when he was working under the name Black Francis, I’d conjured up a religious, anti-faith idea in my head. I won him round eventually, although he still didn’t say much. I was so happy with the pictures because I got a different take on someone who has been photographed so much. “If I was giving advice to any aspiring photographers I’d say go to gigs, make friends with people and get an understanding of a music scene or what the music is about to start with. Try to understand why people are doing what they’re doing. You can always tell when a photographer likes what they’re doing and I find it hard to take pictures of things I don’t like or respect. I think it’s important to have a really strong love of what you’re shooting.”
Sharon Van Etten
Words: Jen Long Illustration: Kyle Smart kylesmart.co.uk sharonvanetten.com
Unbreak my heart. Say you love me again. We’ve all been there. Except, to paraphrase a more eloquent lonely heart, I’m not Toni Braxton, and no song can ever save your relationship. They’re just there to help you lament. “It’s more like, being OK with it.” Sharon affirms, five hours behind my Cardiff base from a sunny day in Herald Square Park, Manhattan. “I feel like I’m looking back and I’m being OK with it even though I’m going through all the emotions of it throughout the record. I feel like it’s allowing myself to feel other things, other than sad.” New album Tramp, named so after her nomadic musicians lifestyle of the last two years, is a beautiful affair of starkly honest lyrics, deeply shy talent, and an almost disbelief in it’s own accomplishments. Recorded over the course of a year with The National’s Aaron Dessner, Tramp crafts in a ream of talent from the New York scene, reading like a who’s who of the indie elite; the likes of Juliana Barwick, Jenn Wasner, and Zach Condon all making appearances. “When we were working on the record we said, what’s our dream and what’s our reality?” she declares, before humbly conceding, “Most of the time they coincided. So we just talked about the friends that we knew that play music and hoped that they weren’t touring.” I confide in Sharon that I’m recently single. “Tell me what you think!” she enthuses. I admit that it’s a really good record to warp your own feelings and troubles around. “Yeah, and that’s really important in the song” she agrees.
“I mean, that’s the difficulty in writing personal songs, you want to drop in personal experience because you want the emotion to be in there, but also, you don’t want to alienate people because it’s so specific and so personal to you. There’s that fine balance and I feel like I’m still working on it, but I’m getting better at it.” I ask if she’s ever worried that her openness on past break-ups may put off potential suitors. “Like, don’t write that down! Don’t write that down!” she explodes, before resigning to giggles. “I get nervous about that for surrrre, but I usually write about it in hindsight so it’s only if you messed up that they’re in trouble. I’m in a pretty good place right now so hopefully they’ll be a much more happy, love record to come.”
“Don’t write that down! Don’t write that down!” I argue that that’s not what we want. “I know, my mum has been begging me for a happy record for years” she half jokes with the weight of an adult all too familiar with those calls home. And while I wish Sharon the best, it’s the destruction and despair at the pit of her songs that make them just so gutting and infectious. We don’t want a happy ending; we want another record. “I know. I gotta start just like, breaking hearts or something” she shrugs. Well, no pain, no gain.
Founded in 1986 Sub Pop is probably best known for it’s 1989 release of the debut Nirvana album. However, going on twenty odd years and with new albums from the likes of Dum Dum Girls and Still Corners on the shelves, Andrew Backhouse talks to Vice President Megan Jasper about a label still very much in its prime. How did you begin? Sub Pop began when Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt both wanted to procrastinate getting “real” jobs and decided that they wanted to work with bands like Sound Garden and Green River instead. They were both big fans of the Seattle bands at the time and wanted to do something that was more fun than just working a shitty job that they didn’t care about. I began when I first moved to Seattle in 1989. I had met Bruce and Jon at a Dinosaur Jr show in Seattle (I was on tour with the band) and they told me to pop by their offices if I came back. I stopped by on my first day back and they gave me an internship. I mailed Cat Butt records to college radio stations. I loved it, and they offered me a job the following week. Is there an ethos you follow? Sub Pop is a funny place. In all of its years we’ve never had a mission statement, but I’m not certain that we really need one. We partner with artists we love and try to connect people to their art. We rely on the help of so many people in our community and we truly love what we do.
Sub Pop feels like a big family. We all know each other and our artists so well and we care about one another’s wellbeing. It’s the best place I’ll ever work. What release was the big game-changer? Early on, Nirvana’s Bleach was the big game-changer. Its sales around the release of Nevermind pulled Sub Pop out of a tough financial hole and allowed the company to soar. More recently, Oh, Inverted World by The Shins changed the label’s face. The Shins were the band that the whole world rooted for and they attracted so many other incredible artists to Sub Pop’s roster. Good stuff! What’s the most trialling time Sub Pop have faced? Sub Pop has had so many ups and downs that it’s actually tough to determine which dip was the hardest, but I’m not sure that it really matters. Tough times lead to good lessons and lessons taken to heart, lead to good times, so ultimately, it’s all the same. This business is all about taking chances and it’s all just a learning process. What future releases can we look forward to? Sub Pop has some exciting new records coming out this year. We’ll be releasing the new THEESatisfaction record, the new Shearwater record, and new releases by Husky, Beach House, Father John Misty and so many more. It’s gonna be a killer year!
Words: Colin Roberts @crablin
SOUND AND VISION Few things evoke the same feelings as the opening notes of a brilliant television theme tune. It’s another way in which music has always been the strongest art form when it comes to instantly dropping you into a place, or a time or delivering strong emotions. The beauty of a great TV theme is usually in its relation to the subject matter. When David Simon and HBO elected to use a Blind Boys of Alabama cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Way Down in the Hole’ as the theme for The Wire, the show had only been commissioned for an initial season’s run; each consecutive season would then have its own take of the song soundtracking the opening credits. What never disappears between each cover however is the inherent uncomfortable nature of the song and how perfectly it lends itself to the next 50-odd minutes of TV. Nothing raises a smile and a cavalcade of Sunday nights with Sky One or weekdays with Channel 4 quite like the opening choral notes of Danny Elfman’s theme for The Simpsons. As grand as intro music comes, one could be forgiven for thinking it were for an antiques show, but the show and its theme are now utterly synonymous.
Five best TV theme tunes of the modern era: 1. Treme (HBO) 2. Countdown (Channel 4) 3. The Sopranos (HBO) 4. Animal Hospital (BBC) 5. The Simpsons (Fox)
Considering the length of most theme music, its ability to prepare us for what’s about to take place is truly remarkable. It’s not ridiculous to consider a theme tune a warm up act for a television programme and setting the scene incorrectly can be as jarring and damaging for an otherwise great TV programme as a cameo from Kris Akabusi would be in Breaking Bad.
Some shows, however, thrive on the theme’s ultimate disconnect from the content. Exceptional US sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia employs a string-led ensemble that was also recently used to soundtrack a Tesco Valentine’s Day advert. Seems reasonable, unless you’re aware that the show itself deals with a group of friends who are about as depraved, disgusting and brimming with toilet humour as any episode of South Park. The sparkly, upbeat jauntiness however cements the shows surreal, off-the-wall nature and is, in itself, part of the grand joke.
Few things evoke the same feelings as the opening notes of a brilliant TV theme tune. As long as there has been great theme tunes, there have been great covers of theme tunes. Just this month, Kindness is to release an album containing a vibed-up, blissed-out cover of EastEnders’ enduring introduction music ‘Anyone Can Fall In Love’ and delivering it in such an earnest and well-rounded manner that doesn’t seem gimmicky or out of place is as commendable as how well the song fit the show to begin with. With the budgets and creativity of HBO, AMC, Channel 4 and more besides, great must-see, life-affirming television is very much here to stay. It’s a part of my life and many of yours. What’s also here to stay is great theme tunes we’ll be humming, covering and being excited by.
Reviews 1. Perfume Genius Put Your Back N 2 It Matador 21 February 1.
It is strange to think that in the early weeks of 2012, while Lana Del Rey was cranking blogosphere buzz up to near tinnitus-inducing levels, another pouting singer of washed-out piano ballads was – almost unnoticed – readying an album actually deserving of that hysteria. That singer was Seattle’s Perfume Genius, who on Put Your Back N 2 It has crafted a collection of songs so arresting they seem to slow time, haunting in their emptiness and breathy anguish. The 27-year-old – real name Mike Hadreas – is something of an enigma. Having retreated to his mother’s Washington home to address his various spiralling addictions, the musician began work on a record he describes, strangely enough, as a “tender reinterpretation” of the 1999 Ice Cube song of (almost) the same name.
The results are remarkable: sumptuous cuts of hushed vocals and plaintive piano, each laced with warped, distorting organ sounds, matching the much-lauded Bon Iver debut for emotional candour and indomitable spirit. Hadreas’ recent music video controversy may have brought him to public attention – a clip for the song Hood was deemed “offensive” by YouTube for its depiction of two men committing the heinous crime of, err, hugging – but it’s his songwriting nous that should really be grabbing headlines. From opener ‘AWOL Marine’, it’s an album of unerring quality. ‘Take Me Home’ offers echoing percussion and a glowering vocal hook atop a backdrop of throbbing ‘80s-esque percussion while Dirge stirs in its soft simplicity, Hadreas’ soft falsetto evoking the tender croon of Antony Hegarty.
Normal Song, intriguingly, recalls the gentle waltz and wistful longing of Iron and Wine’s ‘Flightless Bird, American Mouth’, albeit with lyrics that hint at more complex sexual politics than the ones made famous by the Twilight film saga. Hadreas’ wordplay is obtuse, but delivered with tenderness as if to suggest their true meaning is too painful to sing aloud. For some, Hadreas’ reliance on soft piano and unrelenting introspection will get tiresome. But Put Your Back N 2 It sees the songwriter make good on the promise of his 2010 debut Learning and deliver an entrancing minimalist pop gem guaranteed to claw at your affections. Words: Al Horner matadorrecords.com/ perfume_genius
3. Dry the River Shallow Bed Transgressive 5 March
2. Grimes Visions 4AD 12 March Montreal’s Claire Boucher has bestowed us with her fourth release in two years, and mixing ethereal vocals with dance beats and a whole range of looped samples, Visions evokes emotions galore, transports me to places aplenty, and also has me too scared to eat a biscuit, for fear that the sound of me chomping may ruin the amazing effects of listening to this release through headphones. It’s the sort of music you might play if you were making a long journey in the car at midnight, through roads with few lights and even fewer cars. It’s what you might hear if you tuned into BBC 6 Music at the sort of hour that would have (in the nineties, at least) seen a small girl sat next to a blackboard, on your telly.
The vocals seep out just enough from beneath the layers and layers of samples to leave you feeling that just as you’ve zoned out, you’ve zoned in, and to a world where the sound of a broken robot meeting Boucher’s occasional child-like vocals, is (weirdly, if you think about it) nothing short of entrancing. Words: Helen Wetherhead grimesmusic.com
Taking band names literally is probably not a very good idea. Oasis, for example, would be a palm tree in the middle of a desert, Pavement would be an English sidewalk, and Queen would be... oh. Using this logic, Dry The River sound like they should make apocalyptic deathpunk. Think about it; dry the river. Imagine if that actually happened. No more water. A sad-eyed slush puppy, confused ducks, water-parks boarded up across the world, roadsides of non-quenched marathon runners. Girls having to go out on dates with boys they didn’t like because they could no longer get away with the ‘washing my hair’ little white lie. Pretty powerful stuff, which is exactly what Dry The River’s debut album is.
Recorded with Interpol and The National producer Peter Katis, it’s rousing and all very accomplished, but it comes across more like an Amish Mumford and Sons fronting Elbow than those two American touchstones. Expect it to be massive; to be scheduled for sundown at festivals all summer and soundtrack the BBC’s slow motion montage when England go out on penalties to whoever this summer and that tricksy spiv ‘Arry puts his arm round John Terry, who cries, and reclaims the mantle of Britain’s favourite racist from Jim Davidson. Words: Dan Tyte drytheriver.net
4. Xiu Xiu Always Bella Union 27 February It’s more or less everything we could’ve asked for, Xiu Xiu’s latest record. Produced by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, Always is a texturally playful album, weaving dark and involving imagery into decadently composed melodies and arrangements. At lightening fast speeds, its tracks veer between moods, memories and momentum with Jamie Stewart’s words at times brutally frank, at others achingly beautiful. The journey is both captivating and disconcerting, an arresting combination of which Xiu Xiu have become masters during their ten-year life span. Lyrically, there’s no mistaking that this is a dark, dark album. ‘I Luv Abortion’ confronts the ethical and emotional issues surrounding the controversial subject‘Gul Mudin’ brings a debate of political justification to the table.
5. Tanlines Mixed Emotions True Panther 19 March Musically, however, Always presents a vibrant, bright and almost playful Xiu Xiu, showing off rousing compositions and positively thrilling synth constructions. Softer moments are provided by the likes of ‘Joey’s Song’, a tender declaration of sympathy to a loved one and a reminder that at the heart of Xiu Xiu’s work lies a searing sense of honesty, affection and humanity. Always exudes chaos, intensity and intention, as well as irresistible melodic hooks and stunning production. As provocative as ever, Always isn’t an easy listen, but it’s a brilliant one. Words: Francine Gorman xiuxiu.org
We’re in the midst of a recession, so it makes sense that music should reflect that. Though NYC’s Tanlines blueprint for their debut record were clearly lavish, there’s a budget brittleness that underlies much of the 45 minutes of Mixed Emotions that both make and break the record. Inspiration has been drawn from all over – there are drops of calypso in the drums and guitars, dashes of aspirational 80’s pop in the synth as well as the kind of math depth and intricacy you’d expect from a band that features a member previously of Don Caballero. The overwhelming sensation though is a certain coldness and distance, even stretching to an alluring sense of sterility that runs throughout much of the record.
It feels as though that Tanlines have got at least one massive anthem in them somewhere and that – maybe – they’re purposely trying to stifle that urge. Opening track ‘Brothers’ looks towards the art schools when it could have gazed towards the dancefloor, whereas ‘Rain Delay’ purposely stays away from the shoegazey charm it feels laced with to stick on message. You’ve got to admire their dedication, but sometimes you just wish they’d have let loose a little rather than sticking to an admittedly excellent formula. Words: Matthew Britton myspace.com/tanlinestheband
Bon Ive r
C AD 3 117
t Un E - y A r D s
C AD 3 106
2011 & 2012
S T. V I N C E N T
Strange Me rcy
C AD 3 12 3
THE BIG PINK
Future Thi s
C AD 3 201
MARK LANEGAN BAND
B l ue s Fune ral C AD 3 202
Vi s i o n s
C AD 3 208
Saturday 18th February
Thursday 8th March
Wednesday 18th April
Tuesday 15th May
SWN and Chapter presents
FLUX=RAD and SWN presents
Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
Monday 20th February
BENJAMIN FRANCIS LEFTWICH
w/REN HARVIEU & FOSSIL COLLECTIVE The Globe, Cardiff SOLD OUT Saturday 3rd March The Selector and Swn presents...
TRUCKERS OF HUSK
GALLOPS & KUTOSIS hosted by DJ GOLDIEROCKS this show will be recorded for broadcast on www.selector-radio.com The Globe, Cardiff Tuesday 6th March SWN & The Rusty Trombone of God Presents...
NATURAL SNOW BUILDINGS
w/MARS TO SAY & SNEAKY EARNEST Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
A HAWK AND A HACKSAW
SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS RESCORE Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff Monday 12th March
DRY THE RIVER
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff SOLD OUT Friday 20th April Kilimanjaro Live presents
Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
Sunday 20th May
THE HORRORS Solus, Cardiff University
w/WRETCH 32 Cardiff Motorpoint arena
Thursday 31st May
w/THE METHOD The Globe, Cardiff
Saturday 28th April
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Saturday 17th March
CATE LE BON
HEADLINING THE CANTON CRAWL The Printhaus, Cardiff
Sunday 4th November
DOG IS DEAD Cardiff Arts Institute
Monday 14th May
Thursday 29th March
BILL WELLS AND AIDAN MOFFAT
The Globe, Cardiff
Thursday 12th April
DAN LE SAC vs SCROOBIUS PIP The Globe, Cardiff
Buffalo Bar, Cardiff Tuesday 15th May Kilimanjaro Live and Swn present
MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS
The Coal Exchange, Cardiff
w/WILLY MASON Cardiff University, Great Hall tickets for all our shows available from swnpresents.com wegottickets.com seetickets.com ticketlineuk.com cardiffboxoffice. com Gigantic.com
bristol ticket shop Spillers Records Derrick Records follow us on twitter @swnfestival and sign up to our mailing list swnpresents.com
Live Words: Lauren Down Photo: Lauren Keogh laurenkeogh.com stillcorners.bandcamp.com
Still Corners Cargo, London, 8 February It’s been a while since Sub Pop signed four piece Still Corners paid a visit to our fair shores, having spent the days since the release of their debut album Creatures of an Hour touring stateside. But last week’s headline performance in Manchester 2. bore witness to their triumphant live return, while tonight’s homecoming show only serves to further remind us what we’ve been missing.
Spiralling keys seem to twist and turn with the images, submerged beats accompanying underwater scenes as the hazy ambience gains snaring drums and an increased tempo. A seductive, brooding sixties vibe fills the air as Murray coos like Nico over the gentle pop of previous single ‘Cuckoo’ before snarling, blistering guitars find the track at its most dramatic, far more gut-busting than on record.
Beautiful, kaleidoscopic visuals begin to flicker in the background as songstress Tessa Murray and co emerge on stage, their surging sci-fi synths pulsating as if taken straight from the soundtrack to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Without being too premature I already feel like this is one of the best performances they’ve ever given. Time on the road has clearly treated them well: album highlights ‘Endless Summer’ and ‘Submarine’ play out like a well-rehearsed dream, while ‘Into The Trees’ reveals some post rock nuances that I’ve never picked up on before. It’s a delicate, woozy, swoonsome headline set that sees surreal art house visuals combined with fiercer instrumentals and constantly cascading beats that rumble through the dark. Finishing the evening with a beautiful, warm and soulful encore covering Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m on Fire’, tonight sees Still Corners lay the foundations of what promises to be a very exciting 2012.
Second issue of Zero Core, a free quarterly magazine produced in Cardiff by Jen Long (Radio 1), Adam Chard (Croatoan Design) and Marc Thomas...
Published on Feb 23, 2012
Second issue of Zero Core, a free quarterly magazine produced in Cardiff by Jen Long (Radio 1), Adam Chard (Croatoan Design) and Marc Thomas...