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As we all know, pubs are finally opening again this month hallelujah! What are you drinking? SARAH JAMIESON • Managing Editor Because I am an allround classy broad, probably a bottle of prosecco. Let's be honest, it's been a tough few months... EMMA SWANN • Founding Editor I've salivated over an imaginary freshly-pulled pint of Moretti each time I've passed my usual haunt, so probably that. But tbqh any pint in a proper glass will do at this point.
LISA WRIGHT • Features Editor Def have managed to drink my way through Tesco’s wine shelf throughout lockdown but the one thing these last endless months have been sorely missing is shots. Tequila me up, baby.
Hello, darlings! After what feels like one of the longest winters ever, it’s officially spring! As this issue goes to print, we’ve had a cheeky little heatwave, can finally see a couple of friends outdoors again, and the opening of pubs is actually visible on the horizon! Halle-bloody-lujah!
But before we all get too excited and set up camp in our local park for the next fortnight, we best introduce you to what's inside. This month, we’re going full on escapism by hopping in our time machine, and heading back to '70s New York at the invitation of St Vincent. As iconic as ever, her gritty-but-fabulous new record ‘Daddy’s Home’ once again boasts a technicolour world of delights, but this time with a more personal edge too. Elsewhere this month, we get word on the highly anticipated return of Wolf Alice (!), give two girl in red fans an unexpected surprise, and have a natter with none other than Tom Jones. Yep. Bet you didn’t see that one coming...
Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor
BACHELOR - DOOMIN' SUN Watch out boygenius, there’s a new US alt-indie supergroup in town. Bachelor comes courtesy of Jay Som and Palehound and their incoming debut - due 28th May - is a marriage made in heaven.
ELLY WATSON • Digital Editor Inject a perfectly-poured crisp Amstel into my veins.
LOUISE MASON • Art Director Surprise me. Bear in mind I'm a quantity over quality kinda girl.
What's been worming its way around DIY's collective ear-holes this month?
ICEAGE SEEK SHELTER It’s yet another about turn from the Danish quintet as, following 2018’s ‘Beyondless’, Elias and co add a baggy, Primal Scream-esque swagger to their bag of tricks.
DJ JAZZY JEFF AND THE FRESH PRINCE SUMMERTIME Yes it’s only April, but as we send this glorious issue to print we are revelling in a motherfucking heatwave ladies and gentlemen. Come at us, sunshine!
C O N T E N T S
NEWS 6 WOLF ALICE 10 HOLLY HUMBERSTONE 12 THE HORRORS 14 HALL OF FAME 16 KERO KERO BONITO 18 TOM JONES NEU 20 GREENTEA PENG 22 SKULLCRUSHER 24 NEWDAD 26 CHLOE MORIONDO FEATURES 28 ST VINCENT 36 ROYAL BLOOD 40 DRY CLEANING 44 MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA 46 DELILAH HOLLIDAY 48 GIRL IN RED REVIEWS 52 ALBUMS 64 LIVE (ISH)
Shout out to: Team St. Vincent for squeezing us in some lovely pics, Andy Prevezer for loaning us his house for the day, Bermondsey Social Club, Alicia from Bully (we owe you one), our new best friend Tom Jones for giving us a definite lockdown/ year/ life highlight and curses to J Mascis: the most unreachable man in indie rock. Boo hiss etc.
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor Lisa Wright Digital Editor Elly Watson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors: Alex Cabré, Alex Cabré, Aliya Chaudry, Bella Martin, Ben Lynch, Ben Tipple, Charlotte Gunn, Connor Thirlwell, Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy, Dave Beech, Ed Lawson, Ed Miles, Eloise Bulmer, Flo Stroud, Gemma Samways, Greg Hyde, Jack Doherty, Joe Goggins, Louisa Dixon, Olivia White, Patrick Clarke, Pooneh Ghana, Sean Kerwick. Cover photo: Alan Del Rio Ortiz For DIY editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales: email@example.com For DIY stockist enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of DIY. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which DIY holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of DIY or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.
READY for the
WEEKEND 6 DIYMAG.COM
Nearly four years on from their Mercury Prize-winning second album, Wolf Alice are finally back and propelling towards June’s imminent ‘Blue Weekend’: you’d better get ready. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Jordan Hemingway.
I did what I always do, which is go out and let some bad things happen to me so I have something to write about.”
f you’ve been keeping up with the latest series of stalwart music show Later… with Jools Holland, you’ll have clocked that, with the distinctly un-Covid camaraderie of its usual set up temporarily out of bounds, bands have been forced to film their performances elsewhere. Dry Cleaning rocked up to London’s sparkly Moth Club for their recent debut, while Kings of Leon shot theirs in their own Neon Leon bunker studio: so far, so good. But nothing on the show to date has even grazed shoulders with Wolf Alice’s first performance of recent returning track ‘The Last Man on Earth’. Spaced out in the grand belly of Alexandra Palace’s theatre, singer Ellie Rowsell begins its opening minutes at the piano, bathed in an orange glow, before a rousing, mid-song swell brings the rest of the band in, augmented by a live three-piece string section. It’s emotional, a truly beautiful thing, we tell the band over a five-way Zoom today - the kind of moment that could silence an entire Glastonbury Pyramid Stage field… hang on, are you drinking out of a vase?! “I’m in my own house, doing my thing!” retorts bassist Theo Ellis as it becomes clear that his vessel of choice is, in fact, an enormous ceramic jug. “I hate those little shit glasses my mum had in her house so now I’m in mine I have biiiig jugs. Fuck you mum!” See, while Wolf Alice (completed by guitarist Joff Oddie and drummer Joel Amey) might be objectively successful these days - a Mercury Prize-winning, Number Two-charting band who’ve widely been touted as one of the finest the UK’s produced in years - it’s still just as hard getting them to take their own accomplishments seriously as it
ever was. Ask them about that memorable trophy-bagging night back in September 2018 and Joff will concede “a sense of jubilated exhaustion” while Theo becomes more animated recalling the fact that their local boozer reopened for them to celebrate. It’s not that Wolf Alice aren’t proud, but they’re also evidently still a million miles away from your stereotypical high-flying rock band and its accompanying egos. “I still honestly don’t think I’ve [got my head around it]. The four of us don’t talk about it between ourselves a lot, and I don’t think it’s really even something that I believe has happened,” Theo nods. “If you dwell on it enough it can make you feel a bit crazy, so it’s kind of a way of protecting yourself, by not getting anxious and thinking about the fact that you won the Mercury…” Still, let the record state that win the Mercury they did, and now, an uncharacteristic nearly-four-years later, the quartet are preparing to unleash its follow up, ‘Blue Weekend’.
fter setting aside a number of months between three and six that they can’t quite agree on - to decompress and, in Ellie’s words, “become our own separate people again rather than one mass entity” (“A big blob rolling around the world playing shows,” nods Joel), Wolf Alice began proper work on the record. Having built a reputation as a sensitive, nuanced lyricist with a keen eye for detail, was the time off a necessary thing to respark inspiration for the singer? “I just did what I always do, which is go out and let some bad things
happen to me so I have something to write about,” Ellie shrugs with a smile. “There were lots of moments where I was like fuck, I don’t know what to say. But I think I just have some kind of probably quite naive assurance that eventually I’ll feel inspired at some point.” And across the record (we’ve heard it; it’s - spoiler alert - genuinely incredible), that theory proves itself time and time again, taking in, by turns, some of the most vulnerable, honest and righteously defiant moments the band have coined to date. “If anything, I feel like having more of a platform would make me wanna write less in a way, because it’s more scary?” she ponders. “But growing older takes you the other way where you don’t wanna hide and you wanna be more confident in what you’ve got to say. It’s a really daunting process in that respect because you’re putting yourself out there, but also you understand the benefits of being brave.”
anticipatory fanbase could have hoped for. Gearing up for the release, there’s a genuine tangible excitement around the band that’s rare; everyone, as Theo grins, seems Team Wolf Alice. “I hope so,” he continues, “I was so excited when we announced it on the radio, I couldn’t feel my fucking fingers.” “Were you sitting on your hands?” Ellie quips. Despite the pressure of following up such a gamechanging record for the band, the quartet seem grounded and on top of it. “I’ve personally felt the same kind of pressure every time we’ve gone to make an album because we had quite a lot of expectation from [the beginning] of people being like, ‘Are you gonna prove yourself or are you gonna fuck it up?” suggests Joel. “So there is a weight to it, but it’s not really about the Mercury Prize or if your third album is going to be your ‘OK Computer’, you just wanna do the best that you can.”
“I was so excited when we announced [the album], I couldn’t feel my fingers.”
Heading to Brussels with producer Markus Dravs at the start of 2020, the unexpected arrival of you-knowwhat meant that what should have been a fairly regular recording experience soon turned into an intense, threemonth quarantine. “There wasn’t any way to escape the album,” Joff recalls. “We were living in a studio that we couldn’t really leave so it got quite intense because that was the only thing we could focus on.” “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be able to work like that and have all the time and resources not just to put down what you want but to experiment a bit, but it made it a very different experience,” Ellie agrees. “It was just harder, which at the time was… hard.” But through the difficulties, and almost certainly as a result of those seemingly endless hours spent fine-tuning every second of their forthcoming third, ‘Blue Weekend’ looks set to do everything their hugely
‘Gram These days, even yer gran is posting selfies on Instagram. Instagran, more like. Everyone has it now, including all our fave bands. Here’s a brief catch-up on music’s finest photo-taking action as of late.
After their chart battle, it’s safe to say Black Honey are no longer Beliebers. (@blackhoneyUK)
- Theo Ellis
And the best they can, it turns out, is an album that’s so good, even its authors can’t downplay it: the rarest accolade of them all. “I had a fry up here and we all listened to it on my speakers and were like, ‘This is sick’,” Theo chuckles. “There’s a hopefulness to [the record] that I really hope doesn’t get lost. You know when you watch a film and you get left completely despondent, where even though it’s been an amazing piece of art, it always flavours the memory of it badly? Hopefulness gives it that sense of, ‘Oh, I’m always gonna like that thing’.” We’ve got a good feeling the world is gonna like ‘Blue Weekend’ an awful lot. ‘Blue Weekend’ is out 11th June via Dirty Hit. DIY
Not very Covid this photo, is it Baby Queen? (@queenofthebabies)
Good to see The 1975 embracing the furry community. (@trumanblack) “And we won’t stop playing until you give us all a lifetime supply of vegan sausage rolls.” (@squidbanduk)
HOLLY HUMBERSTONE’S HAD THE KIND OF 12 MONTHS MOST YOUNG ARTISTS CAN ONLY DREAM OF. HAVING JUST TICKED OFF A MAJOR LABEL DEAL AND A MATTY HEALY COLLAB, GET TO KNOW THE 21-YEAR-OLD SETTING THE HYPE MACHINE ALIGHT. Words: Elly Watson. Photos: Jordan Curtis Hughes. Holly’s such a spiritual human, she’s managed to actively will her third eye into existence.
020 may have been a write-off for most, but for Holly Humberstone, it was her best year by far. Starting with the release of debut single ‘Deep End’ in January, by the end, she had a critically acclaimed EP under her belt (August’s ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’), a second place spot on the coveted BBC Sound Of... list and pretty much universal praise across the music board. Not bad for your first year in the game, eh? “I’ve definitely got imposter syndrome!” the 21-year-old laughs over Zoom. “I don’t know why people even like my music so much!” Though it may still be sinking in for her, Holly’s brand of confessional pop was destined to strike a chord. Growing up in a creative household in Grantham, she was always encouraged by her family to give music a go, making up little songs at home and recording “terrible demos” in school; “I wasn’t interested in doing my homework and Henry VIII, I just wanted to get home and do my music!” she beams. Naming Damien Rice, Phoebe Bridgers and Lorde as some of her writing influences, Holly was drawn to penning lyrics she refers to as “unfiltered thoughts”, leaning towards the
this lovely video, and it’s all people from different countries like, ‘We love you’,” Holly recalls. “It was so nice. It made me cry, it was so wholesome and just what I needed. It’s so bizarre to me that people really care about my music, and it’s just really lovely.” Not only capturing the hearts of the public, Holly’s music has also resulted in some famous faces sliding into her DMs - most notably The 1975’s Matty Healy, who co-wrote new song ‘Please Don’t Leave Just Yet’ which features on her eagerly-awaited new EP. “I’m such an awkward person so I found it really hard to play it cool,” Holly laughs. “I’m still kind of not over being starstruck by him. I’ve been such a huge fan of The 1975, and I have so many memories associated with their songs. It’s such a cool thing to be able to work with the guy who wrote the soundtrack to my adolescent years, you know?” Keeping tight-lipped for now about what the collaboration entails, Holly does tell us however that her new music is by far her favourite yet. Where her first body of work was written at her childhood home, her newest EP charts the changes in her life following a move to London. From feeling like your childhood is slipping away in first single ‘Haunted House’,
“If it’s not a lyric that someone can get tattooed onto their arm, then it doesn’t go on the record.” cuttingly personal and vulnerable feelings that come straight from trying to figure stuff out in her head. “I have this thing like, if it’s not a lyric that someone can get tattooed onto their arm, then it doesn’t go on the record,” she says. “That’s a mantra I try and stick by, even though no one’s got a tattoo that I know of. Hopefully someone’s gonna get a tattoo one of these days!” Though not quite inked-up just yet, Holly’s evergrowing fanbase are more than ready to go all out for their fave. With numerous fan accounts on Instagram and constant funny edits of pics flying about, they’re yet to find a definitive name - "There was a dispute on Twitter when one side said the Humberstoners, which is weird because I’m not a stoner, and the other one was Humbernators, which my best friend made up and tried to enforce” - but the group are united in their support for Holly, even crafting a special congratulations video when ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ dropped. “It turned midnight and I was on Instagram and they’d put together
to documenting her best friend’s heartbreak, to awkwardly hearing flatmates through paper thin walls, the release explores Holly’s shifting situation and the experience of being in her early 20s. “The writing for the second EP has been really fun because I’ve been able to experiment and expand my little sonic universe,” she smiles. “I’m constantly trying to be better than my first song, and I think it’s a million times better than my first EP.” Only set to push her rising star status further, Holly’s breakthrough year still hasn’t quite settled in - mostly due to her having to mark all the milestones via social media - but she’s keeping optimistic for the year ahead and ready to finally reap the IRL rewards. “I find it so hard to believe that I actually have fans because I haven’t seen these people ever!” she laughs. "It will be really scary but really, really cool when stuff opens up again and I can go and do live performances and meet people. I’m gonna be a next level anxious wreck but it’ll be really fun!" DIY
SONG WARS! THIS MONTH:
Of all the words in all the world, sometimes artists just plump for exactly the same ones. But which of these identically-titled songs is technically, objectively the winner? Ready, set, FIGHT!
‘A.D.I.D.A.S’ KORN Year released: 1996 How has it aged? Nu-metal, let’s face it, it’s not exactly topping the charts is it? But could this still incite a good old mosh at Download? Yes sir, yes it could. What’s it saying? In case you ever wondered what your favourite sneaker brand’s name actually stood for, according to Korn it’s “All day I dream about sex”. So there you have it! Banger rating out of 10: Five, but an extra half for the ludicrous playground acronym. LITTLE MIX Year released: 2015 How has it aged? Well obviously Little Mix haven’t been heard of since this third album track… Lol! Of course they are probably the finest girl band we’ve produced since Girls Aloud. What’s it saying? SCANDAL ALERT! Nearly 10 years after Korn’s original, LM’s take ALSO uses its name to stand for “All day I dream about (Shhh) with you”. Just because they’re trying to be coy doesn’t mean they haven’t been naughty little thieves. Banger rating out of 10: A solid seven, however we’re docking a point for the blatant robbery. Result: A far closer call than we ever could have predicted, but just - only just - newly discovered criminals Little Mix still edge it. You cannot keep a good pop bop down.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH...
We’ve all just been sitting in our separate spaces giving ourselves tinnitus. - Rhys Webb
With gnarly new EP ‘Lout’ taking a sledgehammer to your placid pandemic listening habits, guitarist Rhys Webb fills us in on the band’s “nasty” new direction. Interview: Lisa Wright. Hi Rhys! Where are you currently? I actually escaped to Essex where I’ve been working. I’d been stuck in London in a basement flat on my own so I thought I’d take my gear and some instruments and get out. Does the basement flat go some way to explaining the intensity of ‘Lout’?! Well, the first screams of the early ideas started before the pandemic hit. We’d just been touring ‘V’ and were really enjoying the intensity [of a couple of those songs] and thinking, ‘Well what do we actually want to do now?’. We’ve been together for a long time and all I wanted to do is make a loud noise and something that’s really intense, and that was the motivation. That and thinking, who do we need to be making music for at this point in our career? I think there was a bit of an attitude of, you know what? It’s difficult to
be in a band now and people aren’t really buying records or making money from streaming, so like, what the fuck have we got to lose anyway? We might as well just do what we want. Let’s just bloody have some fun. There’s something of the energy of your debut ‘Strange House’ to these tracks - do you think you’ll finally reintroduce those songs back into your live sets now? We actually played ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ and ‘Count in Fives’ when we played the Royal Albert Hall for ‘Primary Colours’’ 10th anniversary. It was the first time we’d played those songs in 10 years which is an insane amount of years to even be having a conversation about, but we were already naturally moving towards this kind of intensity then. So you’ve been recording new material remotely... Yeah, we’re working on the second
EP now but we just need to get into a proper studio - that’s half of the reason we’ve ended up producing it ourselves, because we’ve not really been able to get in anywhere to record it. But the second EP’s three tracks all exist, we’re looking to crack on with that and release it in July. Can we expect a suitably feral follow-on from ‘Lout’? Oh it’s just as nasty! I think with every album, we always have a song that’s the instigator to set the scene of what happens next. With the first album it was ‘Sheena…’, with the second it was ‘Sea Within A Sea’, and with this collection of music it was ‘Lout’, so it’s almost been like, ‘Right: let’s challenge ourselves to push it even harder’. The second EP is gonna follow in a similar way where it’s two vocal tracks, and a heavy, intense, electronic track as well.
All just sitting in your windowless basements, making a big noise... We’ve all just been sitting in our separate spaces giving ourselves tinnitus, yeah. Any new tracks you can tell us about yet? The instrumental track is this insanely heavy, dark, pounding techno track which is sounding great and probably unlike anything we’ve done before. It’s completely instrumental but made for dark, sweaty basement environments. We’ve got quite a lot of stuff that we’re bouncing around though; the plan is to put out an album in the new year, which seems like an insanely long time [away]. We’re hoping to do some shows this year and then it’ll just be cracking on with the album. 'Lout' is out now via Wolf Tone. DIY
M.I.A. - ‘Kala’
A second record born out of protest and frustration, ‘Kala’’s origins were troubled but their results make M.I.A. a global success. Words: Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy. People are normally a bit more appreciative of their induction than that, Maya.
alfway through the documentary Matangi/ Maya/M.I.A, Maya Arulpragasam glances out of a taxi window as London flies by; a second later, she’s sat exactly the same way, only this time the window’s on a landing plane. We’re not entirely sure where (or when) she is, but you understand that she’s on a never-ending journey. Via years-later voiceover, she claims she touched “practically every continent” in this quest, from which came ‘Kala’, her 2007 masterpiece. It made M.I.A. a star. Her debut, 2005’s ‘Arular’, was a head-turner: cool kid quarter-raps over music that the nascent blogosphere was starting to signal boost, like Baltimore club and Brazilian baile funk. The next year, she was signed to Interscope, flying Stateside to work with Timbaland - and then she was denied a visa. Her Myspace blog marked a sudden pivot: “THEY TRY SHUT MY DOOR! Now I’m strictly making my album outside the borders!!!!” From there, M.I.A. country-hopped, collaborating with local musicians and re-jigging songs until she believed that they could play in each location. Maya and co-producer Switch made ‘Kala’’s cut-and-paste scope even grander, with chicken bawks and Bollywood disco and the Pixies
and guns and didgeridoos and more guns and folk music and, in the end, even Timbaland too (it’s a bonus track, but still).
Released: 8th August 2007 Key tracks: 'Paper Planes', 'Jimmy', 'XR2' Tell your mates: Those huge drums on 'Bird Flu'? 30 urmi drummers from Chennai, playing at the same time.
But you can’t discuss ‘Kala’ without album closer ‘Paper Planes’, which mashes up The Clash, the “nyah-nyah” sound of schoolchildren, 1992 hip hop track ‘Rump Shaker’ and the loudest gunshots you’ll hear on record. It was inescapable between radio plays, movie trailers, and being sampled by Kanye; she performed it at the Grammys while heavily pregnant. What’s often forgotten is how it sensitively, humorously talks about making ends meet while the world demonises you for being an immigrant: “If you catch me at the border, I got visas in my name… / Hit me on my burner / prepaid wireless”. Her dedication to those “outside the borders” was real; M.I.A. used her media spotlight to bring attention to the Sri Lankan civil war, and was rewarded with condescension and accusations of being a “terrorist”. Her follow-up, 2010’s underrated ‘MAYA’, pivoted to abrasion and atonality. It was not a hit. She has quit, un-quit, and retreated to releasing future projects via Patreon. But with ‘Kala’, she became a star, and did it her way. The continent-hopping journey? Well worth it. DIY
THE NEW ALBUM ‘THE MILLION MASKS OF GOD’ 3 0 TH A P R I L 2 0 2 1 PRE-ORDER NOW 15
Striding into the pub garden on 12th April like…
With new EP ‘Civilisation II’, hyperpop OGs Kero Kero Bonito are back and once again taking the road less travelled. Words: Joe Goggins
yperpop stylings, vintage gear, princesses locked in towers and reflections on the off-modernist theories of Svetlana Boym still only tell about half the story of the new Kero Kero Bonito EP. ‘Civilisation II’ follows on from 2019’s ‘Civilisation I’ and, across three tracks, manages to cover all of the above as well as telling a day-in-the-life story of last year’s first lockdown ('21/04/20’) and squeezing in a vocal performance from singer Sarah Midori Perry on ‘Well Rested’ that’s sung, spoken and rapped across an epic seven minutes. “‘Civilisation II’ takes its place alongside cave paintings and the Bayeux Tapestry,” announces a typically unabashed Gus Lobban on a Zoom call. “The conceptual, cultural side of the EP is trying to break down the technique of historical artefacts, and figure out how we could make
our own narrative artwork.” By ruminating on Boym’s theory, which involves hypothesising about the roads not taken by modern society and where they might have led us, the trio set out to exclusively extract their trademark futurism from analog gear. “It’s a hilariously arbitrary thing to do, trying to make our most imaginative pop music yet, but only using a Korg DSS-1,” laughs Gus. “But it interrogates the fetishisation of old musical technology, and the fact that people haven’t always used the newest tools at their disposal.” It signifies a potential directional break from the hyperpop scene they helped inspire with debut album ‘Intro Bonito’ in 2013, and that last year’s collaborative remix of 100 Gecs’ ‘Ringtone’ with Charli XCX and Rico Nasty suggested they remained very much a part of.
“Our greatest move was to be brave enough to make music that only we could,” he explains. “We realised we were unique; suburban Brits, one of whom is bilingual and has a connection to Japanese culture, all of whom have experience with and interest in pop and technology. Nobody else could have made ‘Intro Bonito’.” Hyperpop’s next wave, he suggests, is imminent, once a new generation have a similar epiphany. “‘Intro Bonito’ was the point where we rejected the status quo at the time - which was that the ‘80s were cool - and said, “Actually, we’re ‘90s kids and we grew up with General MIDI and Polygon and HTML, so that’s the album we’ll make. The interesting point will be when the noughties kids realise that the hyperactive stuff is a Y2K reference, and that actually they have their own perspective. I’m looking forward to that.” ‘Civilisation II’ is out 21st April via Polyvinyl. DIY
U O Y E V HA ? D R A E H
BROCKHAMPTON FT. DANNY BROWN - BUZZCUT
After weeks of online teasers, Brockhampton have officially welcomed us into their brand new era with the first cut from 'Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine'. Linking up with Danny Brown for their first official track in two years, 'Buzzcut' switches things up from the mellow nature of 2019 LP 'Ginger', announcing their return with a bang. Opening with Kevin Abstract spitting "Who let
BEABADOOBEE - LAST DAY ON EA RTH IIf there was ever
any doubt that The 1975 were at the heart of label Dirty Hit’s empire, then this month has seen them really hammer the point home. ‘Last Day on Earth’ is a co-write technically billed as a Beabadoobee offering that’s actually a 75 track by any other name. All the hallmarks are there the breezy, conversational tone; the self-referential lyrics; the fact it literally sounds like ‘Me and You Together Song’. As a well-documented Matty Healy stan, you imagine Bea is probably more than happy to sound like her mentors, which makes the whole exercise largely cute, if a little shameless. (Lisa Wright)
BLACK MIDIJOHN L Cataclysmic and
somehow growing even more enthralling with every listen, black midi return with the limitless 'John L'. It is a chilling hallucination overflowing with nightmarish vision and boundless influence that, although subtly nodding to the likes of debut 'schlagenheim', actually plunges them into a far darker realm. Much like a car crash that you can’t tear your gaze from, the desire to understand more about what makes this band tick is precisely why we’re still firmly in their grasp. (Olivia White)
the dope boys out?," 'Buzzcut' immediately fizzes with excitement, channelling the boyband's electric energy into a hard-hitting hip-hop number that shows off their flair for experimentation and keeps us on our toes with every twist and turn. The BH boys are back with a banger, baby. (Elly Watson)
KELE JAPANESE SMA LLTOWN BREAKFASTBOY Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown BE SWEET The first cut Boy’ hasn’t just found its way onto every single ‘80s playlist since playlists became a thing (and then, probably on all similarly-minded mixtapes before that), it’s also been a staple of covers and samples - most recently by Orville Peck and on Brandon Flowers’ ‘I Can Change’ respectively. On this first taste of upcoming solo album ‘The Waves Pt. 1’, Kele Okereke flips the track, the euphoric disco of the original swapped for plaintive guitar noodling; the softer side of the Bloc Party frontman’s instantlyrecognisable vocal nearly whispering in place of a screaming falsetto. In doing so, he lays the pure loneliness of the lyrics bare. (Emma Swann)
to be taken from Japanese Breakfast's forthcoming new album arrives in rather bombastic fashion. Written with Wild Nothing's Jack Tatum, 'Be Sweet' somewhat marks the turning of an emotional tide for Michelle Zauner, and it's reflected perfectly via its bubbly 80s-inspired melodies. Having used her previous records as more of a vehicle to process her own grief, it's clear that, with her third album, things seem to be much more jubilant; 'Be Sweet' is an enthralling first glimpse into this new chapter of her life. (Sarah Jamieson)
Older people get tired normal older people, not me. After this chat, we’d prefer it if you kept your hands where we can see them, Tom.
Aka a chat with all-round legend Tom Jones about wanking (and other stories). Interview: Lisa Wright.
here are many things you could feasibly expect to happen when put in the highly entertaining and entirely unusual (wahey!) situation of spending an hour on a Zoom with 80-year-old Welsh wonder Tom Jones. You could anticipate a barrel-load of strongly-accented charm, regaling you of tales stretching back to celeb encounters from the ‘60s to his time recently spent as a judge on The Voice. You could cross your fingers that he might unleash a taster of those famous pipes and sing you a snippet of a classic. You could hope that he would arrive for the occasion dressed impeccably in a silk smoking jacket, pocket square tucked neatly in place. And yes! All of those things would be true! Effusive, excitable and slightly more sweary than you might have guessed, Sir Tom is everything you’d hope for and more. And that ‘and more’, it turns out, is a man who firmly believes in the, ahem, medicinal benefits of self-pleasure. We’ll let him explain…
Sir Tom! You’ve got a record of quite niche and varied covers, ‘Surrounded By Time’, coming out this month - what made a song right for the album? Well first of all, my voice is still alive and well; I can still sing which is unusual for an 80-year-old person. So I thought for this album, we need to get songs that have meant something to me over the years. ‘Pop Star’ for instance, I was with Cat Stevens in the ’60s and he said the record label wanted him to be a pop star when he wanted to be a serious writer. So I thought, let’s get some meaningful songs that I’ve never done before - one’s I’ve saved like ‘Growing Old’, which I wasn’t old enough to sing in my 30s. It feels like quite a nostalgic, reflective record… If this is my last album, that would be fine. I think this really represents me now. Johnny Cash, god bless him, I knew him well, but when Rick Rubin did the [last] Johnny Cash songs, he wasn’t as powerful as he used to be. He was an old man really but [those songs] were very poignant, and I thought he came over stronger then than he did even with ‘Ring Of Fire’. Rick Rubin had captured him singing these meaningful songs as an old man and that struck me, so I wanted this album to be more serious in a way. Do you think about your legacy and how you want this journey to conclude? I would like to be regarded as a hell of a singer: here lies a hell of a singer. I still
love to make records, and I still love to go on stage and perform and go on tour; I can’t wait for this thing [Covid restrictions] to be lifted so I can get on that stage again and prove I can still do it.
Do you still have anything to prove?! Every night. As soon as I step on the stage, I’ve got to prove something. I might not be moving as much as I used to, but I’m definitely singing [as well] - maybe even better than I did then! Older people get tired - normal older people, not me. I get physically tired, but I don’t get tired. My voice is still strong and I’ve got a lot to say. You’ve been a judge on The Voice for ages now - what advice do you give to younger artists? The song I’ve got out now ‘No Hole In My Head’ is a prime example. That song is very important to me: “Everyone thinks my head’s full of nothing; they wanna put their own special stuff in”. There’s no room in there for bullshit, and I think that’s great. [You need to] listen and take on stuff, but make your own decisions rather than doing something because it’s popular. When I first came to London they said curly hair doesn’t work ‘cause The Beatles have straight hair, but I didn’t give a shit. You’ve got to be yourself; don’t be like everybody else. We already had The Beatles, we’d already had Elvis, we’d already had Frank Sinatra. Do your own thing. I mean, you can’t walk on TV with your cobblers hanging out, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, but that’s the extreme!
Well I hoped I would. People used to ask me when I was young, how long would I like to sing to? And I said, “Until im 97”. I want to sing as long as I possibly can because I don’t have that much fun doing anything else. When I’m on stage and I’ve had a wonderful night, I come off and I feel sorry for people who can’t experience what I’ve just experienced. You’re on stage, putting your life on the line and then people say, “Yes! We get it!”, and you think, what can be better than this? And I still feel the same way now as I did then. We’ve heard you use an inversion table - what else is in the exercise regime to get you to 97? This is what I’ve got in my bedroom: I’ve got an exercise bike to get the heart rate up and I do 30 minutes every day. The inversion table is fantastic for your spine - you strap your ankles in and you flip upside down and hang by your ankles. I’ve got a vibrating plate as well that you squat on and it shakes the shit out of you. Sounds exciting. Have you taken up any other hobbies? Well, you’ve got to keep yourself busy, even if there’s nobody else involved… Make sure everything’s working… Err… I’ve known people that have had prostate cancer, and when I looked into it it’s because you’re not using your prostate like you used to when you were young. So it’s all for medical reasons that you need to keep things ticking over! OK then! Do you still have things to achieve? I want to start again! I was 24 when I had my first record out, and I wanna start in 1964 again and see how far I can get. Tbh you might outlive all of us. Bye!
What’s it like being called a national treasure - did you ever think you would get to this point?
‘Surrounded By Time’ is out 23rd April via EMI. DIY
!"##$%#& '#$! 20 DIYMAG.COM
neu Turning a period of great upheaval into a debut album full of spirituality and love, South Londoner Greentea Peng is aiming to “get people in their fucking hearts”. Words: Elly Watson. Photos: Stefy Pocket.
Like most people, Aria Wells has had an intense last few months. Mix a global pandemic and personal losses with a period of career highs and the singer - otherwise known as Greentea Peng - sums it up in one word: “Rah.”
However, though tumultuous and often stressful, 2020 has informed the basis for the singer's debut album ‘MAN MADE’, set to arrive this summer. “I was so not even thinking about making an album and then loads of stuff kicked off at the beginning of last year. There was a huge paradigm shift for everyone and it did something to me massively,” she explains. “All of a sudden it was like, rah, this year has been so intense. I was like, fuck me this is ridiculous and I was at a point where I needed to fucking purge because I had so many emotions, so many mixed emotions, it was mad. I was like right, I’m ready. I’m ready to fucking make an album, let’s do this.” A long time coming, Greentea Peng has been wowing with her neo-soul stylings for several years already. Originally from South London, a period spent travelling led to her playing covers with her band Los Hedonistas in Mexico before she came back home for a summer and ended up recording 2018 debut EP ‘Sensei’. “From there, it was just a bit of a rollercoaster really,” she smiles. “I got onto the ride and I’ve had my hands up ever since.” What would she be doing if she hadn’t come back to London? “Lots of drugs!” she laughs. “I was on a bit of a mad one before I came back to music and I think I would’ve just continued doing what I was doing, just hopping around. I think all forms of expression are vital and when you don’t express yourself it can be detrimental to your soul. It got to a point where I was like, fuck I’ve completely forgotten how to express myself and I’m going to completely implode if I don’t do something about it. And then I realised, of course I should start singing and trying to write again.”
All forms of expression are vital and when you don’t express yourself it can be detrimental to your soul.”
Since returning, Greentea’s style of psych-licked, sizzling R&B and smoky vocals have seen her making undeniable waves in the city and beyond. Following ‘Sensei’ with 2019’s ‘Rising’, and with breakthrough single ‘Downers’ pushing her more into mainstream consciousness, the singer was determined to carry on finding her sound and herself in her music; “I didn’t want the classic two EPs and an album,” she notes. But when the aforementioned shift thrust her world into a different light, she knew that it was time to work on something bigger. Decamping to the middle of nowhere for a month and a half, she settled into a big house in the woods to work on what would turn into her debut. “It was all just very perfect,” she describes. “Well perfect, tragic. But everything just worked out exactly how it was meant to.” Inspired by the energy shifts occurring around her, the loss of Aria’s stepdad became a big influence on what she had begun to make. “I nearly lost my mind at the beginning of the year to be honest,” she confides. “I’ve definitely explored new areas of my psyche. I lost my stepdad, and that was really intense. It had a profound effect on the album and the sound of the album. I think when you lose someone like that, you start remembering the effect and influence they had on your life. My stepdad was the one who introduced me to a lot of different music as a kid, a completely different world of music; he was a grunger listening to Iron Maiden and The Clash and I’d never heard any of that. He opened a new world really. It really influenced the sound of the album in a way that I don’t think it would have if he hadn’t passed away.” A self-described experimental piece of work that reflects the different moods felt while recording, Greentea and co even decided to record the album in an unusual frequency, with out of tune instruments, or as Aria would say “in tune with the universe, out of tune with Babylon”. The result is a highly personal record, and one that Greentea Peng hopes will take people on a journey. “It’s definitely a trip - you enter here and exit here,” she smiles. “And there were a lot of mushrooms involved in the making too! So yeah, I do describe it as a trip. I just wanna spread the sound. I wanna get people in their fucking hearts. I’m just trying to get people in their spirit soul vibrating.” DIY
Fragility and strength go hand in hand in the delicate ecosystem of the LA singer. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Silken Weinberg / Jeremy Reynoso
()*++,"*(-#" Walt Whitman’s most famous line - "I am large, I contain multitudes" - might be one oft repeated, but it’s a sentiment that seems to acutely apply to Helen Ballantine. Slight of frame and with an accumulating canon of emotive alt-folk that’s seen her draw comparison to the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, the intensity of her chosen moniker is the first indicator that there’s more going on here than perhaps first meets the eye. “It’s been a process of accepting the name as something I really feel and I think I’ve reached a point where I know it’s the right thing,” she considers, Zooming in from Los Angeles. “The way that titling a song can add to it, that’s what Skullcrusher is for the project; it’s the missing piece that isn’t immediately visible. It’s showcasing a power and aggression that has always been in me and that, more recently, I’ve been able to accept as a good thing and a part of my personality rather than an unwanted thing.”
“Skullcrusher is about having a lot of anxiety and power and anger that doesn’t really show on the outside.” 22 DIYMAG.COM
First studying graphics and art before taking the leap, quitting her gallery job, and throwing herself fully into music, the journey of Skullcrusher as a project has been a swift and, at times, disorienting one for the singer. Having committed to the idea of “working part time at a grocery store, hustling, doing the whole thing”, she was picked up by Secretly Canadian almost immediately and “hurled into the next category” with barely time to pause for breath. “It kind of threw me,” she concedes now. “We have this image of artists putting themselves out there and being like, ‘Whatever, the haters are coming and I don’t
care’, but I don’t know if I have that. I feel bad if I read a comment that’s like, ‘This girl sucks!’. That hurts me!” This month’s ‘Storm in Summer’ EP - her second for the label - is an attempt to make sense of the situation. Its title track, a quietly swelling reflection on the strange notion of your art suddenly being public property, acts as its cathartic centre point, Helen musing, “How did I end up here with my old lines on your page?/ Sometimes I wish I'd kept them safe/ Far away from your gaze”. “It kind of protects me because it’s about being afraid of judgement, so the fact that it’s out there and I’m telling my side of things, it feels really good,” she acknowledges. Elsewhere on the EP, there’s ‘Song for Nick Drake’ (“Even though I knew he’d died a long time ago, I felt like I knew him and I think that’s what music is able to do for someone”), and ‘Windshield’: a track that further leans into the idea of embracing your own dualities. “It’s literally about when I kicked my windshield; I deal with anxiety and panic attacks, and when I have that it’s very aggressive,” she explains. “Skullcrusher is about having a lot of anxiety and power and anger that comes from these experiences, but that doesn’t really show on the outside - leaning into the strength of myself but accepting that I’m not always confident or strong. The metaphor of a storm coming out of nowhere felt really familiar to me because it’s not intentionally trying to hurt people but it’s also really powerful, and then it can wash away really quickly and become really soft and calming.” Soft but powerful, calming but strong, Skullcrusher might make music you can take comfort in, but beneath the surface there’s a complex storm of emotion to fall into, too. DIY
The Melbourne three-piece crafting sharp synth hits.
Modern country with a liberal splash of whip-smart lols.
South London rap sensation, already racking up streams by the million. When South East Londoner Enny released third single ‘Peng Black Girls’ - an empowering ode to individuality and different types of beauty over stereotypes - last October, the track immediately launched the 26-year-old into the spotlight. A Jorja Smith remix and follow-up single (last month’s Brexit-slating ‘Same Old’) later, and the momentum around Enny’s razor sharp lyrical observations and warm, confident beats shows no sign of abating. Don’t believe us? Then believe the 14 million and counting Spotify plays of ‘Peng Black Girls’’ cumulative versions. Listen: Enny only has a few tracks out so far, but an EP is on its way... Similar to: The topical conversations you have with your mates - only smarter and more concise.
MEET ME @ THE ALTAR The Florida pop-punk trio that'll be soundtracking summer in no time at all..
Named thanks to a bonding session in which Téa Campbell texted bandmate Ada Juarez with "marry me!" (to which she replied, "meet me @ the altar", obvs), the recent Fueled By Ramen-signees have already earned quite the rep since they first formed remotely in 2015. With their previous releases being given the nod of approval by Halsey and All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth, this trio have already proved to be very much the real deal; recent single 'Hit Like A Girl' manages to channel the buoyant pop punk of the late 2000s while giving it a new lease of life. Listen: ‘Hit Like A Girl’ is a powerful but insatiable bop. Similar to: The greatest pop punk club night from 2008, transported to 2021.
Is Dublin cowgirl CMAT’s best lyric so far the wryly frustrated “My style icon is the wolverine/ Between each finger lies the key” of ‘I Wanna Be The Cowboy’? Maybe it’s the verse in ‘Another Day (KFC)’ in which, sobbing in the takeaway, she “doubles down on chicken for some moral support”? There’s already a handful of other strong contenders amidst Ciara MarieAlice Thompson’s recent output - a collection of campy country that ditches tradition in favour of cheeky winks and one-liners, and with a debut album in the works she’s only just getting started. Listen: Latest single ‘I Don’t Really Care For You’ is a lilting earworm that you’ll be humming for weeks. Similar to: Dolly Parton and Father John Misty’s jokester daughter.
Drawing comparison to the likes of LCD Soundsystem and New Order, effortlessly cool Aussie trio HighSchool flourish in creating deliciously dark dance numbers that’ll be stuck in your head for days. Attention-grabber ‘New York, Paris and London’ blends post-punk punch with jangly-pop flair, while recent synth-sizzler ‘De Facto’ is the perfect dance-floor filler to soundtrack the end of the world. Listen: ‘De Facto’ will keep you dancing until their debut EP lands later this summer. Similar to: The coolest kids in class.
The most exciting new hip hop duo to emerge in ages. It’s easy to refer to new bands purely in hyperbole, but sometimes a group genuinely deserves the hype. Enter Paris Texas. Hailing from South Central LA, the duo may only have two songs out in the world, but both have proved the pair to be one of the most exciting hip-hop acts in ages. February debut ‘HEAVY METAL’ is a hard-hitting, jaw-dropping mix of fiery verses and thrashing guitars, while follow-up ‘SITUATIONS’ is rife with woozy crawling synths, proving that, for these two, experimentation and keeping you on your toes is key. Listen: Try listening to debut track ‘HEAVY METAL’ and keeping your jaw off the floor. Similar to: That excitement and awe you felt the first time you heard Brockhampton.
Bridging the gap between past and present, Ireland’s NewDad are tying their wealth of influences together in increasingly exciting ways. Words: Ben Tipple.
A glance at the individual Spotify playlists curated by Irish upstarts NewDad’s four members highlights their generation-crossing influences. On vocalist Julie Dawson’s alone, the grunge of Hole and The Smashing Pumpkins shares airtime with bedroom-pop pioneers such as Clairo and Beabadoobee, and in conversation chat quickly turns to powerhouse producer and experimental pop superstar Charli XCX. “She’s just a genius,” Julie beams. “She’s perfect pop.”
“It’s inyour-dad’sbedroom pop.” - Julie Dawson 24 DIYMAG.COM
Exactly how the sonic trailblazer bleeds into NewDad’s sun-kissed shoegaze may not be immediately obvious, but as debut EP ‘Waves’ unfolds, it proudly rears its head towards a direction of more borderless sound. Equally expressing huge admiration for contemporary pop stalwarts and cult artists of past decades, the band – completed by guitarist Sean O’Dowd, bassist Áindle O’Beirn and drummer Fiachra Parslow – straddle both worlds, propelling their love of Pixies and The Cure rapidly into the now. “We never set out thinking we were going to be a shoegaze, indie, or alt-rock band,” Sean notes. “We just play what we like and then decide amongst ourselves if we like it all together.” An intricate sum of their parts, NewDad are fresh and innovative, yet with a genuine passion for the musicians that have
led them to this point. The common thread? “It’s about finding something new,” he exclaims. It’s a sound and ethos bolstered by their time in shared isolation, having used the lockdown to delve further into the band. “We’re in a very fortunate situation,” Julie acknowledges, explaining how circumstances have allowed the four members to bubble up, practicing and writing almost constantly. “We’re so close all the time, so if we have any random ideas, we can immediately work on it.” It’s a far cry from starting life as a school project, and their sporadic gigs across the local circuit. “We were just bad for so long,” Julie laughs. “Now at least when people get to see us play, we will actually sound good. Had [gigs have] happened a few months ago, it would not have gone well.” Given the time and space to fully throw themselves into the project, and having hit a professional studio for the first time to lay down the tracks, NewDad have found the balance between mellow and punchy, swirling with beautiful melancholia. In their lyrics, they tackle the turbulence of youth. Together, they soundtrack modern angst and despondency, with a reverent nod to the past. “That’s a good place to be,” Julie says of their spot between old and new, “it’s in-your-dad’s-bedroom pop.” DIY
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
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#(,&'#2"../ This year, Brighton’s annual May knees up The Great Escape will be taking place - that’s right, you guessed it! - online. But though that means a second year without tinnies on the beach and queues down the pier (maybe we can live without that last one), the new band-tipping event has still delivered on a line up we can get behind. Heading to your laptop screens on 13th and 14th May will be a host of DIY faves including Leeds boys Yard Act, South London ravers PVA, punk rabble-rousers Chubby and the Gang and lots more. They’re only the first wave of artists announced for the event - which you can watch online for free. Stay tuned for more additions over the coming weeks.
%-#45"#2$.%2%-#2/#((6&-72 %-#45"#28#"42$&*!-%42 3.4(9 Oddball brothers Ronnell and Loral Raphael have announced details of Sons of Raphael's Raphael debut album ‘Full-Throated Messianic Homage’ - well, it was never going to be called anything simple, was it. Due 21st May via Because, it comes preceded with the mystical, MGMT-like sonic odyssey of ‘Revolution’, of which the pair have this to say: “The wild horse of revolution is called for as we try to liberate ourselves from a future morallyoppressive society ‘where killers and messiahs are identical twins’. That blood is thicker than water, my brother and I have learnt in the seven years of famine making this album.” So there we go.
3#&,-2'&"%4 It’s been a long time coming, but mega-hypey Leicester lads Easy Life have finally unveiled news of a debut LP. ‘life’s a beach’ will land on 4th June via Island, and is described by frontman Murray Matravers as “a record that wishes it was anywhere else but here, yet at the same time fixates on a dreary middle England existence.” Can’t wait? Then wrap your ears around its first taste ‘a message to myself’ - a short but sweet, harmony-laced “reminder to keep doing you”. Listen at diymag.com.
The debut single proper from the Leeds quartet, it's easy to be drawn in by the track's angular guitars and scorched vocals. It's not so easy, however, to comprehend the fact the four-piece are all under the age of 17. Age envy aside, 'Drive In Mind' - penned around the idea of your inner thoughts becoming drive-in cinema fodder - is a propulsive, accomplished offering, which sets up the band as an intriguingly complex beast.
8+*"#2=2(-&%%#"#02 ;&6%Arriving to transplant another intriguing arm onto Glasgow’s thriving scene, Vlure’s debut adds a feral aggression to the canon. For those who remember the much-missed Amazing Snakeheads, there’s a similar sense of wild-eyed, unhinged abandon to vocalist Hamish Hutcheson’s howls, yet around him ‘Shattered Faith’ is a shimmying new wave dance of cold keys and propulsive beats.
)&(&622=20"*$)2 06&"4721##02 &$02+6>*." The latest to join the Dirty Hit crew, West London's Kasai is calling out the bullshit on 'Drunk Diary, Weed & Liquor'. Reprimanding the shitty behaviour boys exhibit after having one too many, her latest is a slick and intoxicating, R&B-leaning statement of intent, driven by mesmerising delivery.
&:64&2=2(+6'9 An undulating, lip-curling introduction, Londoner Aziya’s debut might showcase the vocals of a could-be pop star, but its video - a dark-lit, grotty performance shot in an underground venue - you sense shows more where the singer’s heart is at. Skulking by on prominent drums and tactical guitar shots, there’s radiofriendly ambition there however too: it’ll be intriguing to see which direction she takes it.
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neu Over the past year, I wanted to make music that sounded and felt bigger, that moves people in a different way.”
From ‘Rabbit Hearted’ to ‘Blood Bunny’, the evolution of YouTube-star-turned-pop punk-sensation Chloe Moriondo is growing bolder by the day. Words: Sarah Jamieson. “I feel like there’s never been another option for me other than music,” begins Chloe Moriondo, sitting in the sunny yellow bedroom that has been the backdrop for most of her career so far. Sporting a new head of freshly-bleached locks, and Zooming from the familiar confines of her Detroit home, the YouTube star-turned-singer-songwriter is diving into why she was drawn to music in the first place. “I just remember growing up around music, and watching all those talent shows with my family when I was younger. I’d sit under the coffee table while the rest of my family were on the couch and we would watch American Idol or America’s Got Talent. I’d watch [the younger contestants] and be like, ‘I wanna be that cool and make my own music and perform when I’m older’. It was never really a choice; it felt like this was all I ever really wanted to do.” Motivated by the YouTubers and cover artists she found online - “I got really inspired by dodie; she was my inspiration when I first started putting up covers” - it was in 2014 that Chloe first took hold of the reigns and began her own YouTube channel, reworking tracks herself. The results speak for themselves: her 2017 ukulele-backed cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ has a staggering 11 million views, while her channel itself boasts a causal 3.14 million subscribers. But as Chloe grew, so did her musical curiosity. Her first venture into original songwriting came with 2018's ‘Rabbit Hearted’, ten open-hearted tracks backed by her signature softly-strummed ukulele, before her 2020 ‘Spirit Orb’ EP - cowritten alongside friend Cavetown showed off even more colours in her musical palette. Now 18, signed to Fueled By Ramen, and with a new and entirely different album up her sleeve, is it strange to look back on her YouTube days and see how much she’s grown, or comforting to have a document of it all? “A little bit of both,” she smiles. “I’m learning more and more every day to accept the fact that I’m no longer 13 and that’s OK, but I find my old videos, and my old music, really endearing. As much as I cringe when I listen to it a lot of the time, thinking ‘Ahh I could do that so much better now’, I have learned to appreciate and really be fully grateful for the start that I got, and for how many people started knowing me when I was like, 13 or 14, and have now followed me
through that.” Chloe’s next move, however, marks a distinct new chapter for the singer. Set to release new album ‘Blood Bunny’ next month, it’s an entirely new sonic look for her, channeling her love of “early 2000s music, like Avril Lavigne and Paramore”. Led by recent tracks ‘I Want To Be With You’, ‘GIRL ON TV’ and ’Manta Rays’, it’s more punked up and dynamic, and a direct move away from the bedroom-pop sounds of her previous work. “I feel like I’ve always wanted to make the type of music that I’ve been able to make now,” she explains. “It’s crazy that I finally am! I’ve always loved the softer side of my music, and I’ve obviously released a lot more stuff that is softer, or just me and a ukulele. But over the past year, I really wanted to make music that sounded and felt bigger; that moves people in a different way than my older stuff would.” It’s also the kind of bold, punkflecked pop that enhances her honest and confessional songwriting perfectly. Unafraid to put her emotions on the line, it’s on ‘Blood Bunny’ that Chloe explores the full experience of being a teenager right now. “I feel like I’ve always been kind of an open book with people, and just in general,” she admits. “I know there are kids and girls and people who are experiencing the same stuff that I do. It definitely has gotten a little harder to be as honest as possible when it comes to so many people watching me… It makes me nervous, and [I think] “Oh, should I be sharing everything or should I be sharing nothing?” It becomes a little bit overwhelming at times, but I love being able to share who I am and what I love with the world, so it’s not too hard I guess.” As for why the record got its title? “I liked ‘Blood Bunny’ because I think a lot of the songs on the album would fit a bloody scene - there’s bloody imagery in a lot of the songs. And I love bunnies!” she giggles. Gory imagery and cute animals aside, the title also underlines her own personal evolution. “I think it’s a really sweet follow-up from ‘Rabbit Hearted’; I made that all by myself on an illegal version of Logic when I was 14, through to this, which is such a crazy project that I’m so proud of. It feels so much bigger.” DIY
Walking on the
Wild Side Reinventing
once again new Warholian ‘70s obsession most revealing into her history yet, Home’ finds revelling in multiplicities.
Words: Gemma Samways. Photos: Alan Del Rio Ortiz Styling: Avigail Collins. Hair: Pamela Neal. Make up: Hinako Nishiguchi.
Coat: Coach. Shirt: Acne. Necklaces: Ellie Vaile. Jacket, Shirt & Trousers: Bella Freud. Shoes: Paris Texas. Sunglasses: Prada.
herself with a muse, a and the glimpse personal ‘Daddy’s St. Vincent life’s
f Annie Clark has a motto by this point it’s probably, “It just is”. Over the course of our hour together she utters the phrase almost half a dozen times - often accompanied by a shrug and a wry smirk - displaying all the composure of someone long accustomed to rolling with the punches. And let’s be real, she’s had enough practise in the neardecade-and-a-half since ‘Marry Me’, her first full-length as St. Vincent. As Annie would no doubt be the first to admit, few of the challenges she’s faced have been particularly unique. In fact, many come with the territory of being a success in her field, be that navigating the nomadic nature of life as a touring musician, or managing the sudden scrutiny that increased exposure and widespread critical acclaim attracts. Nor does she expect any sympathy for the fact that, pre-pandemic, she had scarcely spent more than a fortnight in one place her entire adult life - or for the fact her love life became tabloid fodder for a short time in 2016. But as the inspiration behind her superb new album ‘Daddy’s Home’ attests, some of her personal stresses have been a little less run of the mill. In 2010 - when Annie's star was in its early ascendency - her father was given a 12-year jail sentence for his involvement in a $43 million stock fraud scheme. Understandably shocked and very much focused on protecting her younger siblings back in Texas, she chose not to discuss this turn of events publicly at the time, despite press speculation. Look back at her 2011 LP ‘Strange Mercy’ now, however, and you’ll find covert clues as to the events’ impact, most memorably in the cryptic reference to a “father in exile”, who is only viewable “through double pane'' glass. It’s taken ‘til now - two years after his early release from prison, and a further three albums on - for Annie to finally share her perspective on the experience. “This story was halfway told against my will a few years ago, when I was briefly the subject of the tabloids,” she says today, speaking over Zoom from her home studio in LA. “And that wasn't anything I wanted to talk about [at the time]. But now, there is a bit of a silver lining - he's out [of prison]. But it's also like, now I get to tell MY story. And I get to tell it with humour, and compassion, and cynicism, because it's MINE.”
You can trace all of these traits in her new record’s title track alone. A slice of sleazy, ‘70s-inspired funk, flecked with filthy organ chords and the occasional swell of saxophone, ‘Daddy’s Home’ finds Annie reliving her experiences visiting her father in the facility, from the startling contrast between his “government green suit” and her “fine Italian shoes,” to the surreal moments she spent signing autographs for the other inmates’ families. “I’m sorry, that’s hilarious,” she grins of the latter. “It’s wonderful, AND it’s hilarious.” When we joke that perhaps that was the moment she knew she’d become a household name, she laughs. “Well, I mean, I suppose it was a good barometer of popular culture in a certain way. But also, when people are in there, it's like they just need bright spots outside [of jail] to focus on.” Though Annie's default mode discussing that time often errs on the side of gallows humour, her intention isn’t to downplay the severity of the situation. “It was terrible to see someone I love incarcerated,” she says, matter-offactly. “But also, I didn't tell this story for sympathy. It just is, you know? And it's not intended necessarily to be emblematic of the entire story of the US prison system, which is - of course - incredibly varied, and racist, and lots of things. But this is my little story about it. And while it's not the totality of the album, it certainly is an entry point.”
t’s an intriguing entry point for listeners too: a rare window into the world of an artist whose high-concept creative approach has always made the woman behind the work feel strangely elusive. Discussing her parents today - who divorced when she was three - Annie credits her mother’s side of the family as her emotional support network, while ascribing many of her cultural interests to her father. “I'm glad that he introduced me to [The Catcher In The Rye’s protagonist] Holden Caulfield when I was 10. I probably wouldn't be cursing like I do now if he hadn't. And I'm glad he made sure I saw French New Wave films when I was 13. He showed me a lot of things in terms of books and music and film. But like everyone, he's a complicated person. No one’s life is painless, and no one is guiltless.” She admits to sharing personality traits with him too - most notably her ability to remain stoic in the face of adversity. “He taught us all to be tough, you know? If we were on the soccer field or something, it was like, ‘Don't cry unless you're bleeding’. And I appreciate that, even if I'm sure that other people would have some thoughts on it.” The reasoning behind Annie's choice of musical palette
“It's fun for me to get to be pretty much a different person every three years.”
“We’re in the rubble of old ideas, and we're trying to assemble what the future looks like.” feels especially personal too. Recorded once more at New York’s Electric Lady Studios with Jack Antonoff, and performed by what she describes as “a tight little wrecking crew,” ‘Daddy’s Home’ represents something of a volte face from the throbbing electronics and taut glamour of 2017’s ‘Masseduction’. Variously paying tribute to Lou Reed, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, and Harry Nilsson, it’s a love letter to early ‘70s New York, full of warm Wurlitzer chords, languid lap steel, soulful vocal harmonies and sporadic flourishes of sitar. Though Annie herself wasn’t born til the early ‘80s and grew up in the Deep South rather than the East Coast, many of her formative musical tastes emanated from this period of musical history. “I started listening to Steely Dan when I was like, eight. I had the box set of tapes called ‘Citizen Steely Dan’, and I would listen to it every single morning before school when I was in fourth grade. And my first concert ever was Steely Dan in 1994, at Starplex Amphitheater in Dallas. None of my friends wanted to go with me. Weird, that...” Stevie Wonder’s 1976 classic ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ was another key record in her musical education. “9/11 was my second day of college, and in the days and weeks following that everything was just really up in the air,” she recalls. “I remember talking to my Aunt Patty, who's a jazz singer, and she said, ‘You need to go back and listen to ‘Songs In The Key of Life’. Like, this record is going to heal you.’ I'd heard it a bunch growing up, but I went in and did a deep, deep dive again, and so now I always associate that record with a combination of outer calamity and inner peace.” She specifically cites ‘Ordinary Pain’ from the same collection as a direct influence on the revengefantasy funk of ‘Down’, while the fantastically seedy ‘Pay Your Way In Pain’ appears to channel Prince and the plastic soul of ‘Young Americans’era David Bowie. Released as ‘Daddy’s Home’’s lead single, the latter arrived accompanied by a brilliantly ‘70s video, featuring soft focus visuals introducing Annie's latest character, Candy Darling: a brazen figure who boasts about being banished from the children’s playground by the local mothers for wearing heels. Sashaying around the screen wearing a blunted blonde bob and an olive green trouser suit with wide lapels, her latest look is quite a contrast from the wipe-clean kink of the ‘Masseduction’ era, a period that involved wearing a succession of latex leotards so unforgiving that she took a
personal trainer on tour to remain in shape. “There was not a whole lot of wiggle room to be a total wreck,” she laughs. Notoriously immortalised by Lou Reed in ‘Walk On The Wild Side’, the real Candy Darling was a transgender icon, a muse of The Velvet Underground, and an actor who appeared in several of Andy Warhol’s films. The artwork for Antony and the Johnsons’ 2005 album ‘I Am A Bird Now’ features Peter Hujar’s famous portrait of her on her deathbed, an image that also inspired Annie, as she explains. “She has roses festooning her breast, and she’s looking impossibly glamorous. You just can just imagine her ascent into heaven - catching that last train uptown, waving in slow motion.” Annie’s interpretation of the character on ‘Daddy’s Gone’ is a little grittier. “To me, she has the perfect combo of prim glamour and deep toughness. She's beautiful and elegant on one hand, but on the other could cut somebody. It’s about glamour that's been up for three days; people that are down on their luck. And I think part of that atmosphere feels kind of similar to where we are right now as a society, in that we’re in the rubble of old ideas, and we're trying to assemble what the future looks like, but we haven't totally rebuilt the new paradigm yet.” Candy Darling is just the latest in a long succession of creative alter-egos, which has included “Judy Garland on barbiturates” (‘Strange Mercy’), “a nearfuture cult leader” (‘St. Vincent’) and “dominatrix at the mental institution” (‘Masseduction’), not to mention the blank canvas that is the pseudonym of St Vincent itself. To what extent is Annie creating these characters to keep control of the conversation around each project, and where is the line between honesty and artifice?
She Does Know Jack Jack Antonoff is music’s most wanted producer, working with everyone from Taylor to Lorde to, of course, St. Vincent herself. Annie spills on the magic of Antonoff… “Jack and I were just texting today, and we were just like, this whole thing was so fun. I don't remember a single moment of stress - and we're better friends now. [Making an album] you share your strengths and your vulnerabilities and your fears, so that has to be with somebody you trust. This time around we’ve developed a great, unspoken flow. There’s that thing that’s talked about in improv theatre, where the rule is ‘Yes, and...’. That’s what working with Jack is: it's a ‘yes, and?’ and there's nothing fear-based in the process at all.”
“It's interesting,” she muses. “I think of things theatrically, so I want to make sure that the artwork and my clothes and my imaging and everything tells the story of the album. I want it so that if people look back on the project, they go, ‘Oh yeah, that was that era’. Also it's fun for me to get to be pretty much a different person every three years. And it's not as if any of these traits aren't in me it's just sort of a question of what you turn up and what you turn down.” But one helpful by-product of creating an alter-ego is that you allow yourself more privacy by diverting attention away from your real identity, right? “I
“Paul McCartney said, ‘It's great, this thing we get to do, right?’ meaning music. And I said, ‘Yes, Paul, it is’.”
mean, not really, because I've always just written about my life,” she bats back. “I don't see a big distinction any more, I really don't. With this project I wanted to write a record about flawed people doing the best they can, and just being people which is to say complicated. And I can write about it because I've been every person on the record. You know, I've been the girl on ‘At The Holiday Party’, just trying to hold it together. I've been the girl in ‘Down And Out Downtown’, wearing last night's clothes with her heels in her hand at nine in the morning. Like, I've been all of these people, so I can write about it.”
live by the stories we tell ourselves.” As uncertain as the world surrounding it is, the quality of songwriting on ‘Daddy’s Home’ suggests that St Vincent's continued ascent is all-but assured. Certainly, she’s already fraternising with music’s top tier, taking part in the Grammys’ tribute to Prince, leading a Nirvana tribute with original members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, and taking part in Nine Inch Nails’ inauguration into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This idea of fallibility feeds back into the album’s central premise: the complicated relationship between morality and redemption. In light of her father’s experiences, to what extent has Annie's own perspective changed on morality? Is she less judgemental or more nuanced in her thought now? She thinks quietly for a few seconds before replying, slowly and carefully.
Her latest hat tip comes from Paul McCartney, who personally selected Annie to reimagine a track from his latest album ‘McCartney III’, as part of a star-studded remix project also featuring Damon Albarn and Beck. “Paul called me to thank me,” she says, still visibly amazed. “And to say he really, really liked my version. And at the end of the conversation, he said, ‘It's great, this thing we get to do, right?’ meaning music. And I said, ‘Yes, Paul, it is’. I hung up and was like, I can die happy now.”
“We live in uncertain times, right? Like economically, socially, culturally. And one of the things that happens in times that are really uncertain is that people want certainty somewhere. And so I feel like - in some ways - that’s taking the form of people insisting on moral purity. And I absolutely understand why people would want that. But I also think that human beings are really, really complicated.
Surely getting the seal of approval from her musical heroes must have started to feel normal by this stage? “It never feels normal,” she insists. “And in fact, what it does for me is it just makes me want to redouble my efforts in making things to earn that respect.” It’s an idea she explores on ‘The Melting Of The Sun’, which finds her name-checking some of her spiritual forebears, including Joan Didion, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone and Tori Amos.
“If we are just binary in our thinking or only going, ‘OK, here are the three acceptable narratives, and if you don't slot into these, then you've done something wrong’, then I think we're opting out of the fullness of the human experience. We should be able to talk about that without so much pressure or judgement. So part of that is that people can fuck up and then they can have a redemption story: there can be reconciliation, there can be forgiveness. Because life, it just is, you know? And we
“It’s a thank you to these women who came forth and were often met with hostility and who - many years later - have made my life easier as a woman. It's a thank you, and also an ‘I hope I didn’t let down your legacy in some way’. And I'm not putting myself in their echelon, I'm just saying that I hope that whatever I've done gets to make it easier for the next generation. And that I hope I didn't slack in that respect. Because I just want to make great work. Knock on wood, my life is that simple at the moment: it just is.” ‘Daddy’s Home’ is out 14th May via Loma Vista. DIY
THE STORY SO FAR...
‘Daddy’s Home’ marks St. Vincent’s sixth studio LP over a storied career. Here’s a potted primer to get you up to date.
‘MARRY ME’ (2007) Following stints playing in The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens’ band, ‘Marry Me’ marked Annie's first real opportunity to focus on her own creative vision unfettered. Cue a cornucopia of complex arrangements that hinted temptingly at the career to come.
‘ACTOR’ (2009) An effervescent blend of baroque pop and art-rock that put her virtuosic guitar skills front and centre, and possibly the first album ever to incorporate a Jenny Holzer aphorism, in ‘Save Me From What I Want’.
‘STRANGE MERCY’ (2011) From the Disney strings and distorted guitar of ‘Cruel’, to ‘Surgeon’’s blend of G-funk and hypnagogic pop, ‘Strange Mercy’ was the album that cemented Annie's status as an alt-pop pioneer.
‘ST. VINCENT’ (2014) Featuring tales of communing naked with rattlesnakes, hotel room hallucinations and society’s addiction to social media, this self-titled effort also found her hitting the sweet spot between leftfield experimentation and radio-friendly hooks.
‘MASSEDUCTION’ (2017) As implied in its brilliantly garish artwork, 'Masseduction' contemplated the tensions between sex and power, and did so over arrangements that extended from extroverted industrialrock and glam synth-pop, to stringflecked balladry.
“It’s impossible to write a good song on ketamine, and trust me I have tried…” - Mike Kerr 36 DIYMAG.COM
eye of the
storm ON THIRD ALBUM ‘TYPHOONS’, TWICE CHARTTOPPING ROCKERS ROYAL BLOOD HAVE FILLED THEIR SWAGGERING RIFFERY WITH STORIES BORN OF A TIME OF HUGE PERSONAL CHANGE. “THERE’S NO LINES TO READ BETWEEN,” EXPLAINS MIKE KERR. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Ed Miles.
ike Kerr is angling his Zoom camera towards a picture, propped up against a wall behind him. A chart lifted from Brass Eye’s notorious ‘Drugs’ episode - the same one that managed to trick Rolf Harris and Noel Edmonds into extolling the horrors of made-up narcotic Cake - is in the frame; in it, a circle containing the word ‘man’, filled with a large ‘drugs’ triangle and a small distant dot outside its circumference marked ‘small joy’. “I think this sums it up better than anything,” he suggests in response to our questioning about the lyrical contents of ‘Typhoons’ - Royal Blood’s third album, and a record that digs into the singer’s move into sobriety beneath their trademark rock stomp. If it’s a slightly cryptic response, then that lies at odds with the album itself: one that explicitly explores its demons and offers an insight into Mike’s psyche over the past few years. Lead single ‘Trouble’s Coming’ - which arrived as a taste of a more danceable new flavour to their palette - set the tone; “In my reflection I see signs of psychosis / I try to pay them no attention can’t keep them under the surface”. Throughout its 11 tracks, meanwhile, he speaks of a “personal apocalypse” in
‘Oblivion’, and “chemicals running through [his] veins” on the album’s title track. On ‘Million And One’, which adds a flickering keyboard line to the mix, he laments of being out of control, “all I wanted was someone to take me home”, while the “murder scene” of ‘Limbo’ is one filled with “blood on the pillow/ tears in my eyes”. There’s barely a track on the record which doesn’t seem to acutely refer to the problems that eventually led the frontman “to revert back to a version of myself which ended in 2007 when I drank absinthe at a party, and I only recently have just come around,” as he puts it today, which makes the topic both a natural line of inquiry and one that the singer is not hugely enamoured with elaborating on. “I don’t really like explaining songs, because they’re not really supposed to have an explanation,” he counters. “I always say if you go to an art gallery, and there’s a Dalí exhibition, you don’t have [something saying] ‘and that small melting clock is my ex-wife’. It’s an expression and you fit your own meaning into it. But the album is hardly subtle. I feel like there’s no lines to read between.” ‘Typhoons’, indeed, is not a subtle
The problem is if you can function on a destructive lifestyle, it’s much harder to notice.” - Mike Kerr
record, but that’s also its strength. Written over a long period before, during and after the first 2020 lockdown (Mike got sober in February 2019), it’s a retrospective look back at darkness, but played out with the renewed sonic energy of a better place. “The feelgood-ness of the music allowed me to write about dark shit, and I think the clarity of sobriety allowed me to articulate what life was like on the other side,” he nods. “It has to be retrospective. It’s impossible to write a good song on ketamine, and trust me I have tried…”
f you’d have caught the band, completed by drummer Ben Thatcher, at any of their numerous career milestone shows in support of 2017’s ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’, there would likely have been little in the way of tell-tale signs as to anything being wrong. Having hopped on the ride with their all-conquering 2014 self-titled debut, by their second the duo were playing an early-evening slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, selling out three nights at London’s 10,000-capacity Alexandra Palace and rocking up to Reading’s Main Stage second only to headliners The 1975. “I can’t remember anything,” shrugs the singer of that period, in one of many interactions today that may be the result of a dark sense of humour or might very well be true (sample case: “[The turning point for me] was when I was dressed up as a woman in bin bag trousers, doing ketamine and couldn’t remember where or who I was”). “I remember everything,” interjects Ben, “and it was very exciting. We had a ball. We’re getting to tour around the world playing rock music together, and we have our mates around and it’s a lot of fun. But like anything in life, there are hurdles. Touring around, you don’t have much stability; you have a lot of places and people to see who expect something of you, whether that be a party all night or just a lot of interviews or time.” “Just because I was having a good time, doesn’t mean I was doing something that was good for me. Everyone enjoys McDonalds, but if you eat that every day you’re gonna be dead pretty quickly,” Mike picks up. “And I think the massive problem we have now is that we’re so obsessed with the outside and we make our minds up about how someone’s doing based on the outside and that doesn’t really mean anything.” Was the work suffering? “No, I think I was doing a great job!” he answers with a laugh. “I think that’s the problem - if you can function on a destructive lifestyle, it’s much harder to notice. It’s easy to recognise that you should maybe think of a different life choice when you’re living in a bush in your underwear, but it’s much harder to come to that realisation when you’re doing quite well.” On ‘Who Needs Friends’, a falsetto-laced, danceable strut of a chorus, countered by a typically vitriolic verse (“I got leeches on my right / Let-downs on the fence / Use me till I’m dry / Then demand I bleed for them”), Mike seems to actively spotlight the perils of “doing quite well,” but explains that most of the record “is not necessarily reflective of the band”. “I don’t think they’re all attached to the career of Royal Blood because god, no one wants to hear songs from that perspective. They’re written from a personal place, from [us as] humans outside of Royal Blood.”
But for Mike and Ben as members of the band, there was a sonic journey to be made too.
ack at the top end of 2020, the final tracks for what the pair thought would be their third album were being finished off, with ‘Trouble’s Coming’ - now earmarked as a pivotal turning point in the looser, more disco-tinged nature of the record closing proceedings. “It did feel like, at that time, we were wrapping some stuff up but in hindsight we were only at the very beginning,” Mike recalls. “The more we got into that world and those sounds, everything felt
Just a DEFLECTOR Mike and Ben are extremely good at going off into random tangents. Here are a few topics they covered whilst we tried to cajole them into talking about ‘Typhoons’.
CLINTON CARDS Mike: I can’t go in Clintons because they don’t have any air conditioning. I would describe Clintons as an airless environment - it’s not necessarily a temperature thing, there’s a staleness to the air. Maybe the cards absorb oxygen or something? I’m not sure, I’m not a scientist. Ben: There’s a blast when you first enter a Clintons. Mike: That’s the fresh air cutting off behind you, that’s the vacuum door closing.
BOGNOR REGIS Ben: It’s the sunniest place in the UK. Mike: According to records it gets the most sun anywhere in England, and that’s a fact and if you can’t live by facts, then what can you live by?
On one hand you have a recent influx of rock records topping the charts, as Ben enthusiastically reels off bands - “You Me At Six, Foo Fighters, Architects, Bring Me The Horizon…” who’ve been achieving mainstream success with their latest releases. On the other, the band are looking at a year without being able to tour the record, and a youth culture increasingly relying on viral moments to gain those all-important streaming numbers.
Mike, however, is confident. “Obviously the world is very different and DIY: Can we talk about it’s progressed music please? a lot, but the Mike: Let’s talk about Radiohead. ‘In Rainbows’ fundamentals - that’s my favourite of good rock one, and it was free. music are DIY: Well it was free if difficult to you were a cheapskate shake,” he and didn’t pay for it. nods. “The Mike: I was only 10, you can’t thing that’s like brand new territory, which is always be a cheapskate when you’re challenged exciting because it’s easy at this stage to 10. I didn’t have any money! it the most is become comfortable and to go through not being able the motions with the sound you have. to play live We could have had an album where the because that’s last song was ‘Trouble’s Coming’, but the where our genre wins. Seeing a live rock band is lockdown allowed us to make that Track One.” the greatest thing ever; if you’re a pop star you’re never gonna compete with a rock band coming Leaning into the “danceable edge” that they’d after you, that’s why you need one of those hit upon, the tracks may have been largely fucking holograms and a helicopter or whatever recorded without any live arena to test them in, to make it [work]. A funny video is fine but they’re but ‘Typhoons’, the pair explain, is still an album not things that last, whereas a great song will be written with the stage in mind. This time around, with someone for the rest of their life.” they’re just aiming to give themselves more weapons in their arsenal to work with. “I think Coming out of the black (used that song we got to the point in the last record where we title too soon, didn’t you eh?) and into a new were playing for one-hour-twenty, and the idea personal period of clarity, ‘Typhoons’ is a strong of carrying on that level for two hours... No one contender to pick up the rock baton and make wants to experience that,” Mike notes. “There’s it a personal hat-trick of Number Ones for Royal nothing enjoyable about being hit round the Blood. When gigs return, they’ll likely be playing head that many times. So I think the album goes some pretty massive ones too and, this time, arguably heavier than ever in some moments Mike will even have the pleasure of remembering and lighter than ever in others, which is what them. Seems like that dot of small joy is getting a third album should do. It should spread its bigger by the day. wings.”
Arriving seven years after their first, and into a world starved of their main mosh-starting stock in trade, it’s a weird old time for a band like Royal Blood to be coming back on the scene.
‘Typhoons’ is out 30th April via Warner. DIY
Finding beauty in the banal, and documenting life through a curious eye,
Dry Cleaning’s debut finds the London band cementing their singular perspective and upping the sonic ante along the way. Words: Patrick Clarke. Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
he jump from Dry Cleaning’s plucky 2019 EPs ‘Sweet Princess’ and ‘Boundary Road Snacks And Drinks’ to their assured debut album for legendary indie label 4AD is a significant one. Where their old material was frantic and weird, on ‘New Long Leg’ their sound has developed into something bolder and more expansive, both bracing in its ambition and deceptively understated in its methods. The record’s shot through with addictive hooks like the plunging Sabbath-ish riffs of ‘Unsmart Lady’, the hypnotic, drifting guitar loops on ‘Strong Feelings’, and the chiming melancholy melody of ‘Her Hippo’. Elsewhere, it’s enormously ambitious, as on the intense, abstract noise breakdown that divides closer ‘Every Day Carry’ into two parts. Unlikely frontwoman Florence Shaw’s spoken-word vocals, meanwhile, often take the form of gently weird vignettes about the most banal of objects that somehow allude to something far grander. On bracing opener and previous single ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’, exotic destinations like Rio De Janeiro, Tokyo and Oslo are revealed to just be the Instagram filters of the same name, and a mighty oak tree turns out to be a discarded tree-shaped air freshener. The way she delivers them feels more flexible than ever on ‘New Long Leg’, her vowels elongated and contracted so she can wind them tightly to the band’s ever-morphing instrumentals. “That nod that says, I’ve… seeeeeeen… thiiiiiings,” she drawls on ‘John Wick’; “Simple pimple, stomach
Dry Cleaning’s shadow puppet game needed work.
stab,” she staccatos on ‘Leafy’.
Since their emergence with those first, immediately ear-pricking releases (Dry Cleaning graced the cover of DIY’s Class of 2020 issue soon after), Florence’s lyrics have always been their calling card, finding deep furrows of emotion in banalities like YouTube comments and greetings cards, somehow delivered both with hypnotic charisma and complete deadpan detachment. But on ‘New Long Leg’ she’s pushed things even further. ‘Strong Feelings’ is an intense song about falling in love, where meandering daydreams about hotdogs and head scabs are juxtaposed with moments of anguished yearning – “My only ambition in life is to grip the roots of your hair”. Allusions to European landscapes and German painter Hans Holbein’s masterpiece The Ambassadors packs her small vignette with Brexit’s cataclysmic heartbreak.
But for all of ‘New Long Leg’’s dramatic emotional swings, Florence always conveys them by focussing on the smallest possible things. “I take a lot of pleasure in objects,” she explains. “In lockdown my room and my belongings became something I’m very concerned with. I feel like a little farmer, going around, making sure everything’s clean and in the right place. I’ve found it really comforting to focus on something that’s within your remit, something that’s an achievable goal. There’s something about that small scale that feels knowable, that it’s possible to be an authority on.”
“We’re a strange mix of pessimists and optimists. I think that creates a lot of the atmosphere of our music.” -
t’s been a strange and fragmented time for the band to be making this kind of progress. After their US tour was swiftly cancelled due to the pandemic last March, rehearsals and preparations for the album had to be squeezed in between lockdowns; they were lucky to cram in the recording sessions with producer John Parrish during the summer lull. “It’s not smooth, it’s stop start,” says Florence. “You get some momentum, and then you’re trying to dodge lockdowns. But also it’s nice to have that bit of space; you’re yearning to get back to something when you haven’t played for a few months. It is a bit of a strange one.” Thanks in part to a certain TV interview, the band’s debut single ‘The Magic Of Meghan’ - about the charm of the then-royal - has assured that plenty of attention is still fixed on their old material, but guitarist Tom Dowse asserts they’re fixed firmly on their progression. “We’re not that band anymore,” he says. “We’re never going to write
“So much of life is about how chaotic everything is, how it’s a miracle that any human beings get on at all.” Florence Shaw things like that again. We’re excited to move forward.” Even now, in the little snippets of time the band are able to jam together in person – the moments between takes for their recent run of TV appearances for example – they’re constantly experimenting with ideas. Nevertheless, Dry Cleaning are also feeling the benefits of their growing status. Although Florence, whose background is in visual art, had never performed music until Tom recruited her after a mutual friend’s exhibition a few years ago, Tom, bassist Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton have been playing in bands for years both together and apart; all the members are in their 30s. “We’ve been in quite an unusual situation with the pandemic where we haven’t had a lot of the more tangible aspects of the growth of a band, like touring and exposure to people,” says Nick. “But at the same time the band is growing, and the next thing we do is going to have a platform it’s never had before. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’ve never had a platform like this. It’s incredibly intimidating, but also extremely motivating.” Tom raises the band’s recent music videos as an example: the surreal visuals for ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’ which feature a full-sized Florence playing a miniature gig venue, and the distorted video collage that accompanies the gritty ‘Strong Feelings’. “Having worked for years in music trying to make ends meet or do everything myself,” says the guitarist, “now all of a sudden we can work with [designers] Rottingdean Bazaar,” who worked on ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’, “or this guy called Sabato [Visconti],” the multimedia glitch artist who produced ‘Strong Feelings’, “and get them paid. Having the means to work with creative people you really admire, that’s a game-changer really.”
In many ways, Dry Cleaning’s development can be traced quite simply to the growing understanding between the four musicians themselves. “I think our temperaments are important to the band,” says Florence. “We’re a strange mix of pessimists and optimists. I think that’s something that creates a lot of the atmosphere of our music. A tension between two opposite things.” There are other pushes and pulls that make ‘New Long Leg’ so engaging - the contrast between found words and the singer’s own for example, and the way big and complex themes like love, heartbreak and the patriarchy are dealt with via banal and disjointed images. “So much of life is about how chaotic everything is, how it’s a miracle that any human beings get on at all, that families are ever able to just function OK, being made up of different people with different lives,” she explains. “It’s a miracle we’re not all just killing each other all the time. My brother said to me once that I shouldn’t worry about terrorism because isn’t it amazing that out of all the people in the world there’s only a few people out there blowing each other up. It made me feel optimistic about mankind!” Ultimately, ‘New Long Leg’ is the sound of Dry Cleaning processing all that chaos and confusion with songwriting that’s only growing defter as the band spend more and more time with one another. “I think a lot of the writing that I do is trying to work out how I feel about things,” continues Florence. “I’ll have all these different bits of writing and I’ll think ‘I think these are all about love’, I’ll put them on a page and then I’ll think, ‘Does that help?’” ‘New Long Leg’ is out now via 4AD. DIY
Girls (and Boys) On Film It should come as a surprise to no one that Dry Cleaning’s surreal sensibilities and artist backgrounds have led to some pretty damn excellent videos - here are their finest clips to date.
‘Scratchcard Lanyard’ Best moment: When a tiny wedding disco (complete with DJ and, more confusingly, Santa) come to party in the miniature venue around Florence’s head. Obviously.
‘Viking Hair’ Best moment: The joyful faces of the Cactus Club’s pensioners. Man, those guys just love to line dance.
‘Unsmart Lady’ Best moment: Watching Tom Dowse absolutely shred the fuck out of his guitar in the middle of a very beige carpet shop.
TH E G R E AT
LOSS AND GRIEF MAY HAVE SHAPED THE WRITING OF THEIR SIXTH ALBUM, BUT ON ‘THE MILLION MASKS OF GOD’,
hroughout their career, Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra have had a knack for exploring the more nuanced moments of life in startling and poignant ways. On 2017’s ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’, the band wove together a concept based around
a South Dakotan mining town with the real-life realisations of frontman Andy Hull’s mortality. On newest album ‘The Million Masks of God’, meanwhile, they’re exploring a similarly unusual trick: its initial abstract beginnings soon giving way to a much more real narrative.
“I’M BECOMING MORE AND MORE OBSESSED WITH THE IDEA OF GENERATIONAL IMPACT -
THOSE THAT CAME BEFORE, ALL THOSE THAT COME AFTER…”
Picking up loosely where ‘Black Mile…’ left off, the quartet’s sixth album meets its central character towards the end of his life, as he comes face to face with the angel of death. The record then travels through a series of snapshots of his life, as he’s given the opportunity to reflect on both what has been and what may be to come. “I think I’m just becoming more and more obsessed with the idea of generational impact,” Andy offers up, on a Zoom call alongside bandmate Robert McDowell. “All those that came before, all those that come after, and what role we play in that, and how that can be a negative role or a positive one.” It’s an unsurprising train of thought, perhaps, considering the changes that were taking place in the band’s personal lives at the time. “It was definitely a bit of a new
place in life for us, and as a band,” confirms Robert, “with more and more kids coming in, and other things happening in life. But that, to me, brings new excitement and creativity because you have new avenues to go down.” Yet, much like the way in which the birth of Andy’s daughter shifted the narrative on their previous record, this album would soon go on to be shaped by the loss of guitarist Robert’s father, who passed away after a battle with cancer during the writing process. “Like Rob says,” explains Andy, “there was new, innocent life being sprouted all around us, and there was just love everywhere. But then that was mixed with Rob and all of us going through the painful process of his dad dying. It was sort of a very obvious mirror image of
- ANDY HULL
“IT’S A WONDERFUL THING TO HAVE CREATIVE
WHO ARE GOING THROUGH THE SHIT WITH YOU.” PARTNERS
- ROBERT MCDOWELL
U N M AS KI N G MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA ARE MAKING THEIR MOST BOLD AND UNITED STATEMENT YET. Words: Sarah Jamieson.
life’s experience from both sides.” Using the album as a more abstract vehicle to process their grief became even more prescient. “For me, it’s a wonderful thing to have creative partners who are going through the shit with me,” Robert confirms, recalling some of the tougher moments his bandmates helped him through. “That is comforting, rather than, y’know, feeling isolated in moments like that.” “It was a delicate - and still is - balance to talk about,” Andy nods, “because it wasn’t ever supposed to feel exploitative, it was supposed to be an account of what I feel like we were all going through. When I’m writing, I find it’s easier to access my thoughts and emotions when I can frame it through another scope. The freedom of that is really nice, and I would just find
myself going, ‘Wow, I understand what I was trying to talk about there’, you know? Conceptually, that character who’s talking to the angel of death, it’s me, it’s Robert, it’s our sons, it’s our dads.” While it would be easy to assume that ‘The Million Masks of God’ is one of the band’s more reflective, sombre offerings, that couldn’t be sonically further from the truth. A bold, definitive statement of how far they’ve come together, it’s instead an album that’s packed with unexpected flourishes, and ambitious turns. That’s, in part, thanks to the making of their previous album, when they found themselves at somewhat of a watershed moment. Having spent much of their time thus far inhabiting the more traditional confines of songwriting,
it was only after Andy and Robert worked on the score for 2016’s surreal dark comedy Swiss Army Man that their approach was turned on its head. “It flipped the reset switch for us,” Robert told us back in 2017, when digging into the film score’s brief of not being able to use instruments - only their voices - to create the entire thing. It was a challenge that, even two albums on, clearly left a mark. “We don’t feel constrained by any rules,” Andy remarks, at the idea of this being their most experimental record yet. “It’s funny you say experimental because I guess because we went through it for so long, and it continuously evolved, it feels very deliberate in a sense. But of course it’s experimental, there’s crazy shit all over it!” “It wasn’t a big leap for us because in our mind, we were learning all
of these things from 2017 up until we made it,” Robert adds. “There were simplified versions of these songs, but we kept pushing. That became our bar; exploring until we found something that got us all very excited.” A lesson in growth on all fronts, it feels as though ‘The Million Masks of God’ really does mark a new era for the band. And while it will undoubtedly represent all manner of emotions for the members themselves, their hopes for its impact on the wider world are a little more simple: “Hopefully people can feel a bit of peace from it,” Andy reflects. “I hope it can help people.” ‘The Million Masks of God’ is out 30th April via Loma Vista. DIY
o o r m h S adelica Skinny
Girl Diet’s Delilah
Holliday has stepped out
on her own for a dreamy solo
release of beats and big ideas - and mushrooms. Words: Aliya Chaudry. Photos: Margot Bowman.
Hey Delilah, you need to get yourself a bigger set - there’s not mushroom in it. Ba doom tish.
here’s one striking thread running through the visuals for Delilah Holliday’s new EP, ‘Collective Consciousness’: mushrooms. They float around the visualiser for single ‘Falling into Place’ and adorned the set during a recent live stream performance. “I'm obsessed with them,” Delilah says. “I definitely believe mushrooms can heal the world.” They were a big part in the making of the project, too. Delilah recorded the album in Sweden, while staying with trip hop legend Neneh Cherry in the countryside. Over there, she was surrounded by them. “The whole project is sort of birthed into this mushroom world,” she continues. “And I just thought the whole mushroom vibe with the music went really well together.” It comes as a reasonable aboutturn from her previous, distinctly less fungus-based musical endeavours. Best known for her work in the feminist punk band Skinny Girl Diet - which she’s been in since she was 14 alongside sister Ursula - Delilah also worked on a 2018 electronic album with Baxter Dury and French producer Etienne De Crécy titled ‘B.E.D’. That same year, she put out mixtape ‘Lady Luck’. Now, she has a whole new project entirely.
“I just really want to make a New Age psychedelia movement happen.”
But though the sounds of ‘Collective Consciousness’ may seem like a fresh path, in fact, Delilah has always been making beats, even on the Skinny Girl Diet tour bus. Previously, she explains, she didn’t feel confident enough to release them. However, written during lockdown, the new EP marks the point where the singer wanted to release her own music and felt like others should hear it. Writing about the pandemic and how it’s affected everyone together as a whole, its title points to something universal that necessitated outside ears. “That's basically what the EP is about - me processing the pandemic, but also being a human and being part of something,” Delilah nods. And mushrooms of course, don’t forget the mushrooms. “I just really want to make a New Age psychedelia movement happen,” she shrugs. “I think it’s necessary...” Influenced by Portishead, Massive Attack, Björk, hip hop and Jimi Hendrix, there are hints of electronic music, R&B, soul and pop mixed within the release’s
eight tracks as well. Predominantly synth-based, with vocals and beats, the result however is minimal and insular, with a dreamlike, introspective quality; her vocals carry the listener through, while the synths are surprising and gentle, rounded out by assertive and empowering lyrics. “I wanted to make a dreamy trip hop body of work,” she explains, “and to provide escapism for whoever listens to it. It's been such a hard time for all of us and I think right now we just need to remain playful and expressive. We just need to be happy. And that's what I want the EP to do for people, to make them joyful.” Over the years and various projects, Delilah has kept up the same writing methods: recording random thoughts in her Notes app and building a song from there. Influenced by dreams, spirituality, her own experiences and politics, though there is definite joy to be found in ‘Collective Consciousness’, there are also nods to bigger ideas, too. “I think it's really important to be aware of what's going on in the world - of these leaders of our society and what they're doing,” she says, “and I think it's good to be critical of it because, you know, we were born into the system, we need to be able to change it.” Delilah has always been vocal about social justice issues, especially with Skinny Girl Diet - a political punk band composed entirely of women of colour. And though things have changed since then, there’s still room, she says, for improvement. “The dialogues are getting better,” she nods. “The festival line-ups are changing and becoming more diverse, but there's still a lot of work to be done. I don't think it's time to hang our coats up yet.” No matter the arena or type of project, Delilah asserts that “it's about making the space fit you, not about fitting to the space.” And currently, she’s working in several different spaces. The singer hosts a show with her sister on London station NTS Radio, and even though Skinny Girl Diet is currently on hiatus, Delilah says the band will return. “I love doing loads of different things,” she concludes. “I would love to be in loads of different bands when this is all over and just keep expressing and making music. That's all that matters to me really.” ‘Collective Consciousness’ is out 23rd April via Yellow Cake. DIY
EETS WO R
girl in red by name, girl in red by nature.
With the release of long-awaited debut ‘if i could make it go quiet’ around the corner, the cult of GIRL IN RED is showing no sign of waning. Don’t believe us? Just ask her fans. Words: Charlotte Gunn. Photos: Jonathan Kise.
here's a squealing coming from the other end of the Zoom. A high-pitched “Eeeeeeeeee!” sound only reserved for spotting insects, rodents or a pop star you really, really like. “Hi guys! What’s up?!” says Marie Ulven, bounding onto the screen with a chaotic energy none of us are quite ready for. The two other guests on the call - Rae and Merissa, both 15 - shake their heads in disbelief. It’s girl in red. And they are girl in red superfans. Here at DIY we like to do nice things for people, and for Merissa and Rae, this is about as nice as it gets. They’ve been granted an audience with their idol – the 22-year-old Norwegian pop star who, since 2016, has built a fiercely loyal fanbase by making hooky indie-pop songs that tackle mental health, queer love and growing up, with a candour that speaks to Gen Z music fans worldwide. So much so, in fact, that “Do you listen to girl in red?” has become TikTok code for asking if a person is queer. Rae and Merissa are in North Carolina and Boston, USA - a long way from Horten, the Norwegian town where Marie grew up. But stand outside a girl in red show anywhere in the world and you’ll find hordes of young girls, queuing all day for a glimpse of their hero and a good spot at the barrier. “How are you both doing? This is so cool we’re doing this!,” Marie says, cutting through their now startled silence. The two excited young Americans are here to ask
Marie some questions - and also tell her how much she means to them. For Rae, girl in red helped her come out to her parents, a story this most unlikely of protagonists hears often. The three chat excitedly about life and the anticipation of going to their first Pride. Then it’s time for mean old DIY to boot them off the call and bother Marie with some questions of our own. girl in red’s debut album ‘if i could make it go quiet’ is due to land on 30th April, and to say fans are a little bit excited to hear it would be quite the understatement. “I wanted it to feel as authentic as possible to me,” Marie says of the LP. “I just wanted to have really great songs on my debut record, but also for each song to carry itself in a very strong way. There's no song that I'm like, ‘Yeah, this is definitely like the middle of an album’, you know what I mean?” We do. The album is one of the strongest debuts we’ve heard in some time, for that exact reason. Each track has purpose; from fasttalking FINNEAS-produced opener ‘Serotonin’, to the darker, fuzzier aesthetic of ‘Apartment 402’, girl in red takes us on a journey through her psyche, proving her knack for writing an indie floorfiller and her ability to swerve between moods, never sugar-coating how she’s feeling - everything laid out in raw
detail. It’s this openness, perhaps, that’s resonating on such a mass scale. But girl in red’s debut album has been five years in the making.
ebut single, 2016’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’, was a nearperfect indie pop song about loving your best friend. Picked up from SoundCloud by Norwegian radio, her frankness resonated with a generation of young, queer women who hadn’t heard such honesty from someone their own age. From there came more anthems - most notably ‘Dead Girl In A Pool’ and 2018’s ‘Girls’. At a rowdy girl
in red live show, a particularly rousing moment comes when it’s time to play the latter as venues packed with young women erupt into the chorus: “They're so pretty, it hurts / I'm not talking 'bout boys, I'm talking 'bout girls”. It’s a line still bouncing around TikTok three years later. What does that level of connection mean to Marie? “What I realised is that my fans are kind of like the heartbeat,” Marie says of their relationship.
“Like, I'm the brain and they’re the heart. I genuinely don't feel like this is real when I don't get to play shows, and I don't get to connect in that real way. Like, if there's no heartbeat, you're pretty much dead even though your brain can be functioning still.” We’re not sure if that science exactly stacks up however either way, it’s clearly a symbiotic relationship. But as so many artists have found over the years, when you give too much of yourself away to your fans or the media, it can feel draining. “I've been able to differentiate,” she says, fortunately. “It's a lot harder for me to be honest with someone in real life than it is to be fully honest in the song. The song is an art form. I feel like I could be even more honest sometimes, so I don’t feel like I'm being too honest in a way that's going to harm me.
Hopefully, that's good. We'll see.” Previously producing her tracks as well as writing them, for this album Marie has brought in some external help, while still managing to mastermind everything. “I didn’t hand over any control because we were very much like, ‘Marie's a producer. And Marie is a songwriter. And Marie does not want anyone to write any lyrics.
My fans are kind of like the heartbeat. I’m the brain and they’re the heart.”
I’m interested in producing music but I can’t sing and I don’t play any instruments so I wondered, was it hard producing music as a young artist? I'll be completely honest, producing is kind of hard. Learning stuff is easy, but sometimes it feels really overwhelming starting a new project. And then you're like, ‘Wow, oh my god, I got to build a song COMPLETELY’. But it's also incredibly fun. My mentality is that nothing is worth fighting for if it’s too easy. I'm still learning and yeah, it is a little bit hard to begin with, but I feel like you can't give up because you're going to get better. But if you want to get into producing I definitely think you should because no one's good at something when it comes to that stuff right away. Is it hard making music for the LGBTQ+ community? As a young artist, do you experience a lot of hate? I just make music for the love of music; I feel like I don't really make music for any type of special group. Like, just because my perception of life is through queer eyes, and I have queer experiences, my music is still for everyone. So I don't know, I don't feel like I'm making music for anyone but the world because I want the entire world to hear my music. I have probably gotten some hate here and there. I'll see some white old man, like 50 years old being like, ‘Yeah, this is wrong. This is a sin’ and I'm like, ‘Yo, what the fuck? You outdated as HELL if you think like that, honey’. So I honestly don't really care about homophobic opinions because I'm just like, ‘Oh, poor you, honey’. I feel sorry for people who are homophobic.
How does it feel knowing that your music has helped so many young LGBTQ+ people find themselves? Like, I literally don't know where would I be without you. Honest to god. You helped me come out to my family! OK, so it's pretty insane, especially now that I'm talking to you. I'm in my little Norway bubble, and I don't always know that it's happening and stuff, but talking to an actual human being that has put my music in their ears, you know? That's something else! So, I just feel really lucky, because all I want to do is make music that matters to me. So if it can matter to someone else, then that's fuckin' dope. That's… yeah, sorry. I'm screaming. I'm literally screaming in my car right now! And congrats on coming out. Oh, my gosh! My second question is, what is your favourite lyric that you have ever written either released or unreleased? Honey, you trying to get that unreleased shit? OK! The second song on the album - it's not out yet - it's called ‘Did You Come’ and there's a lyric in there that says, “I'm not upset. I'm fucking pissed. I spelled it out. You're illiterate”. And I just think that's so cool. Because, OK, first of all, I didn’t even know what illiterate was two years ago. And secondly, the fact that I even managed to get illiterate into a song is so cool. That song is going to go hard live.
She wants to do everything’,” she explains.
We're so fragile, so I want to do everything I can to be as happy as I can for the rest of my life.”
“Even in the studio with Mattias [Tellez], who I made the record with, I’m like, I want to suffer for four hours trying to get this shitty ass lyric done. I'm very stubborn.” She corrects herself. “No, I'm not even stubborn. Women automatically think they're stubborn just because they're saying no. But no! They’re not stubborn. I just know what I want.”
t’s a hard time to be a young person right now and that’s reflected in the amount of emerging artists speaking candidly about their mental health. For Marie, it’s not been a linear journey, as her often jubilant, sometimes sombre music highlights; as such ‘if i could make it go quiet’ contains a wealth of frank discussions about intrusive thoughts, trauma and heartbreak. Previously having told an interviewer that “the older I get, the sadder I get”, how is she feeling now? “Um, I would say that's not the case anymore,” she says thankfully. “I think I was in a really bad place at that time. When you get older, it's easy to get more sad, because you realise - at least if you're like me - you sort of realise how pointless this shit really is and how small you are, and that there are many things that make the world a very horrible place. You can get very trapped into thinking about those things. But honestly, two years later, at the age of 22, I absolutely love life, every single day. I'm so happy I woke up today. I'm like, telling everyone around me that I love to be alive! We're so fragile. So like, I want to do everything I can to be as happy as I can for the rest of my life.”
With health and happiness front of mind, taking care of herself is a priority for Marie when she finally hits the road again on the make it go quiet European tour, scheduled for Spring 2022. “My manager is great and has seen me in so many different mental and physical states and knows that it can get really bad. I have amazing teammates,” she nods, but notes that that’s not the case for everyone. “I was watching the Avicii documentary and he was like, ‘I can’t play, I can’t play, I have such bad anxiety’ and he’d just had surgery on his appendix or some shit. And they said, ‘You have to play’, and now obviously he’s not here anymore which is just really, really sad.” But despite the sometimes gruelling nature of tour life, Marie’s excitement is palpable when she talks about hitting the road again and getting back into the loving arms of her fans: the Raes and Merissas of the world. “I need to meet my fans. Like, they are essential for me to actually be able to do this. At one point, I didn't realise that; I thought I just wanted to make music. In 2019, because I was just so exhausted, I felt like, who am I doing this for right now? I was sort of on the edge of burning out because it had just been a very, very heavy year. But now I'm so happy that I've sort of realised that I actually NEED to go on tour. If not, this isn't worth it.” ‘if i could make it go quiet’ is out 30th April via AWAL. DIY
Photo: Neil Krug
TRACKLIST 1. WHITE DRESS 2. CHEMTRAILS OVER THE COUNTRY CLUB 3. TULSA JESUS FREAK 4. LET ME LOVE YOU LIKE A WOMAN 5. WILD AT HEART 6. DARK BUT JUST A GAME 7. NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST 8. YOSEMITE 9. BREAKING UP SLOWLY 10. DANCE TILL WE DIE 11. FOR FREE
More like a latecareer meditation than a victory lap.
LANA DEL REY Chemtrails Over The Country Club
Few modern artists have had as tempestuous and rollercoaster a relationship with their own celebrity as Lana Del Rey. A self-made star of sorts (all-conquering 2011 breakthrough single ‘Video Games’ was, after all, first revealed as a casual internet upload before being picked up by a major label and blasted into the stratosphere), the 35-year-old has built one of the most recognisable and singular personal brands out there and yet faced backlash at almost every turn. There was the initial furore and social media slamming following a shaky debut public performance on SNL (sample tweet: “Stayed up to watch Lana Del Rey on #SNL only to discover she’s basically a drunk Julia Roberts trying to remember her own lyrics”), and a hotlydebated 2014 interview in which she declared that she “wish[ed she] was dead already”. With 2019’s superlative ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ - almost certainly her greatest LP to date - it felt like the tides had turned unanimously in her favour, but the record was swiftly followed by a rambling Instagram post that sparked controversy over its potentially racially-insensitive tone. That incident was likely why, upon the reveal of seventh album ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’’s artwork, Lana accompanied the picture with an unprompted defence of its cast, declaring, “In 11 years working I have always been extremely inclusive without even trying to. My best friends are rappers, my boyfriends have been rappers.” Huh.
record of their career. And also perhaps goes a way to explaining the tone of the album: an elegiac, introverted release that feels more like a late-career meditation than the victory lap for ‘NFR!’. Of course, the singer has never exactly been one for uptempo bangers, but at her best there’s a defiance and sass to Lana that stops the swoons from drifting too far into the ether; here, however, the confidence feels diminished, the rich production of its predecessor replaced by something thinner, sadder. On single ‘Let Me Love You Like A Woman’, she declares “I come from a small town far away / I only mention it 'cause I'm ready to leave LA”; on the heart-tugging, fingerpicked ‘Dark But Just A Game’, it’s “I don’t even want what’s mine, much less the fame.” Sandwiched between the two, ‘Wild At Heart’’s more familiar swells and lyrical tropes feel like a flashback to a different era. Opener ‘White Dress’ - a pianobased reflection on “a simpler time,” pre-fame, working the night shift as a waitress - sets the tone for an album that grapples with the singer’s current situation and seems unsure of where it wants to end up. It paints an evocatively nostalgic picture that will particularly resonate after a year spent reminiscing (her determination to cram the phrase “men in music business conference” into about three syllables, meanwhile, is either brilliant or awful and we’re still not entirely sure which). Elsewhere, we get two guest turns on the romantically maudlin ‘Breaking Up Slowly’, featuring country singer Nikki Lane, and the Weyes Blood and Zella Day-featuring closer ‘For Free’: a cover of Joni Mitchell’s 1970 original that provides a swirling, emotive highlight. In the track, the protagonist (sung by Lana) who “plays for fortunes”, dripping in jewels, staying in lavish hotels, looks on at a street performer caught up in his own world, not thinking about fame and money. The undercurrent, you sense, is that his situation might be preferable after all. As the album’s conclusion, you wonder if it could also be Lana trying to tell us something. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Dark But Just A Game’, ‘Chem Trails’
ROYAL BLOOD Typhoons (Warner)
Part of the joy, one imagines, of growing popularity as an artist, is the challenge of sounding ‘bigger’, first working out how to fill academies with sound, then arenas, tents followed by festival main stages. Royal Blood were already racking up the decibels - and audience numbers - by the time their self-titled debut was unleashed in 2014; follow-up ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ then had them perfecting their take on riff-heavy rock that proved a radio mainstay and playing on bigger and bigger stages. If there’s no way ‘up’ for the South Coast pair to travel, then a sidestep it must be. And ‘Typhoons’ largely sees Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher turn the amps down a few notches and the keys up - with mixed success. The duo’s strength thus far has laid in their consistency. Like having spag bol for dinner, Royal Blood have never been particularly avant-garde in their approach, but their big, bold, solid rock riffs matched with the odd shout-along chorus has always been a winning formula; the simplest of ingredients but you know what you’re in for, you leave satisfied. And this is the crux of why ‘Typhoons’ occasionally misses the mark: the space created by the pair’s more chilled sonic approach isn’t filled. The songs here may be more melodic, more complex even on paper, but in reality there’s little there to truly grab hold of. The bluesy strut attempted by opener ‘Trouble’s Coming’ is tempered by its synth; the high-pitched backing vocals on ‘Oblivion’ don’t sound deliberately humorous enough to land without an awkward thump, and ‘Who Needs Friends’ - aka rich guy in LA 101 - would have fit perfectly on a mid-’10s Robbie WIlliams album, but Mike has neither the swagger nor tabloid-amplified self-awareness to pull it off.
ews Which is all to say that Lana has more to prove on ‘Chemtrails…’ than an artist reasonably should on the follow-up to the most lauded
That said, the Josh Homme-produced ‘Boilermaker’ finds some vastly more interesting territory for the duo to head towards, almost industrial in sound and with some grit behind it, and although the 180-degree turn to piano ballad ‘All We Have Is Now’ is at first whiplash-inducing, the intimate closer provides a rare glimpse of something tangible on the record. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Boilermaker’
KERO KERO BONITO Civilisation II (AWAL)
Recorded in a bedroom using exclusively vintage hardware, on ‘Civilisation II’ Sarah Bonito and gang traverse the mythic past, the humdrum present and post-apocalyptic future across three tracks of immaculately crafted glitch-pop inspired by humanity's current grapple with a global pandemic. Opener ‘The Princess and the Clock’ chronicles a fantastical narrative of a revered explorer incarcerated in a tower, left to paint pictures and dream of her eventual escape from her oppressors. ’21/04/20’ meanwhile narrates a lockdown fable, lyrics packed with the now all-too-familiar experiences of abandoned birthday celebrations, shuttered-up shops, and video calls with long-separated friends. ‘Well Rested’, a reworking of ‘Rest Stop’ from 2018’s ‘Time ‘n Place’, is the most accomplished: underpinned by a pulsating techno beat, Sarah grandiloquently prophesies the ascension of humanity in accordance with the will of Mother Earth. Lyrically precise, and musically enriched with radical keyboard flourishes and arresting song-structures, what is most impressive about ‘Civilisation II' is how KKB manage to tackle such worldly themes without ever sounding contrived. It's a testament to a band continuously looking to innovate. (Connor Thirlwell) LISTEN: 'Well Rested'
Surrounded By Time (EMI) There’s something undeniably emotional about ‘Surrounded By Time’: Sir Tom Jones’ 40th studio album over a storied career that’s spanned six decades. Ostensibly a covers collection, featuring a thoughtful and perhaps unexpected catalogue of tracks running from the well-known (Bob Dylan’s ‘One More Cup of Coffee’) to more obscure delves into the past (Malvina Reynolds’ 1971 folk protest song ‘No Hole In My Head’) and present (Todd Snider's 2019 ‘Talking Reality Television Blues’), it instead comes across as something of a send off - a release that embraces the gravitas and legacy of Tom’s life and attempts to tie up the loose ends. Where ‘The Next Day’ and ‘Blackstar’ concluded Bowie’s career in a way that felt purposeful, so does ‘Surrounded By Time’, through other peoples’ words, set about doing a similar task. There are playful moments - a self-referential take on Cat Stevens’ ‘Pop Star’, in which the 80-year-old icon declares his showbiz intentions, chief among them - but the album is best when it embraces the singer’s age, experience and stature. The almost Radiohead-y backing that accompanies the aforementioned ‘Talking Reality Television Blues’ emphasises the idea that, looking back over a media culture that he’s witnessed from its incarnation, we might have fucked it all up, while opener ‘I Won’t Crumble’ is an entirely stripped back take on Bernice Johnson Reagan’s original that gives Tom’s still-mighty lung power the space to really get you in the guts. The most affecting is a penultimate ‘I’m Growing Old’. Opening with an extract of speech taken from 1940 - the year of his birth - before transforming into a reflective piano piece (“I’m growing dimmer in the eyes/ I’m growing fainter in my talk”), it’s an acknowledgement but not an admission of defeat. Yes, Tom Jones is growing old, but he’s doing it with class. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Talking Reality Television Blues’
GIRL IN RED
if i could make it go quiet (AWAL) girl in red - aka Norwegian artist Marie Ulven - has established herself impressively fast as a songwriter whose bedroom-based efforts are deeply confessional and awash with romance. On her debut LP she ramps up the production to create a neon, adolescent sprawl while remaining true to her heartfelt, lo-fi roots. Akin to Billie Eilish’s ‘When We All Fall Asleep...’ and Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ before, ‘if i could make it go quiet’ has all the qualities of a blockbuster pop record - incessant hooks, A-list producer credits - but hone in on each track and you’ll find intimate vignettes that are fully-formed in themselves. ‘Serotonin’ is a dazzling starting point that contradicts its subject matter Marie addresses having OCD for the first time, as well as more general life anxieties - via an upbeat FINNEAS-produced arrangement. When she sings “I get intrusive thoughts like burning my hair off / Like hurting somebody I love” in its heady breakdown, she turns those violent sentiments into something positive, validating and dismissing them at the same time. This sense of inclusive affirmation runs through ‘if i could make it go quiet’ as she captures the unruly gorgeousness and opposing confusion and grief of adolescence. “I cannot live like this no more,” she blares at the huge climax of ‘Body And Mind’, manifesting the intensity of those emotions through brilliant volume, while on the gentler, piano-led ‘Apartment 402’ she reflects the bleakness of depression in more sparse strokes. Ultimately, though, girl in red’s charm lies in her overbearing wideeyed excitability, and it’s her optimism that brings this record to life. On ‘hornylovesickmess’ there’s not a shred of ego present when she sings about seeing her own face on a billboard in Times Square; it feels like a moment shared with a mate, in awe of their accomplishment - not her first, and certainly not her last, if this soaring debut is anything to go by. (Alex Cabré) LISTEN: ‘Serotonin’
reviews DRY CLEANING
New Long Leg (4AD) Dry Cleaning have built quite the buzz around them following a string of well received EPs potent with a fresh sound that cribs the approach of the Beatnik poets. For them, the musings of Leviclad ‘50s rebels set to jazz are exchanged for Florence Shaw’s insouciant drawl weaving between instrumentals that reference post-punk and funk. Seeing that Dry Cleaning started with Florence reading out passages from ‘Fears Of Your Life’ by Michael Bernard Loggins to music constructed by bandmates Tom Dowse, Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard, you can see why that resemblance might show. The group’s debut very much picks up where their EPs left off. Florence’s wordplay sparkles with wit and wry humour as she navigates day-to-day misgivings that cast a wider net. Opener ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’ finds her thinking of herself “as a hardy banana with that waxy surface and the small delicate flowers / A woman in aviators firing a bazooka”. On ‘Unsmart Lady’ she takes aim at societal expectations of women - “I feel like a girl being nice / it’s not rocket science.” ‘Leafy’ traces the activities one might find themselves doing in the aftermath of a break-up atop a melancholic instrumental - “exhausting walk in the horrible countryside / a tiresome swim in a pointless bit of sea / knackering drinks with close friends”, she lists off before following up with a sarcastic “thanks a lot”. While the lyrics certainly take centre stage, the instrumentals that run beneath the vocals are equally inspired without employing the use of too many bells and whistles. Highlight ‘More Big Birds’ shifts around a spidering bassline which lifts in its second half with spurts of organ and keys. The title track builds around a simple drum loop as jangly guitar clashes in and out of the chorus. Ultimately, there’s a charming purity that runs through ‘New Long Leg’, and a sense that Dry Cleaning wasn’t the product of a masterplan. Instead it’s the by-product of the lives they were already leading which gives an uncompromising human quality to this debut. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘More Big Birds’
Californian Soil (Ministry Of Sound) London Grammar’s collective personality so far has approximated as ‘sentient Ibiza chillout compilation’, and third full-length ‘California Soil’ isn’t likely to do much to change this. Sure, there’s a little less of the dancefloor infused in the songs here as on previous rounds, replaced by a tad more from folk - the after-afterparty has swapped the Balearic sunrise for Laurel Canyon. But it’s all still as magnolia-hued as before. The abstract ‘Intro’ is quick off the mark to remind us of Hannah Reid’s impeccable vocal, but just as speedy is the title track with its line “I left my soul / on Californian soil” to hit another nail on its head: so completely inch-perfect is London Grammar’s music, so controlled and carefully-constructed that there’s little room for anything else. Single ‘How Does It Feel’ comes closest to having any real impact, continuing the group’s trip hop-lite sound, but so smooth and robotically on-point is the opening half of the album, the rogue “fuck” of ‘Lord It’s A Feeling’ comes like a bolt out of the blue. ‘All My Love’ is another soaring showcase of Hannah’s range; ‘Talking’ could yet become an earworm with enough saturated airplay; ‘America’ is another addition to the long list of songs documenting their authors’ complicated relationship with all things Stateside. ‘Californian Soil’ isn’t somewhere to look for a curveball. (Bella Martin) LISTEN: ‘How Does It Feel’
The Movie (Vroom Vroom / Asylum) Given the hype that accompanied the release of Netflix series ‘I’m With The Band’, chronicling the first “season” of the Charli XCX-handpicked Nasty Cherry’s career, it came as a surprise how sporadically new music followed. Releasing just one EP a year since, the aptly titled ‘Season 1’ and ‘Season 2’ presented the band as they were portrayed by the streaming giant: a work in progress. There were glimmers of pop brilliance – the rousing ‘Win’, the synth-pop of ‘Better Run’, and the sultry vibes of‘What Do You Like In Me’ - but with ‘The Movie’, a title that seemingly recognises the need to go big, Nasty Cherry finally sound the band they were hyped to be. Following early promises of an energetic blend of outright pop and grittier instrumentation, ‘The Movie’ parts ways with the faux-punk of ‘Season 1’ and the shoehorning of Charli XCX’s signature sound on ‘Season 2’, instead fully embracing the nostalgic alt-pop that had previously only flirted with the surface. ‘What’s The Deal’ injects synth-heavy melody with a complimentary guitar solo or two. Lead single ‘Lucky’ allows space for snarling vocals, building to an unashamedly fun climax, and ‘Six Six Six’ thrives on a scuzzy, distorted riff. The somewhat awkward Hollywood sheen of before has gone, with ‘The Movie’ unfolding like the product of its actual parts – four artists with vastly different yet cohesive experiences and tastes. It’s like everything that has come before was just the pilot, and now it’s time for the real show. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘What’s The Deal’
DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979
Is 4 Lovers (Universal Music Canada / Spinefarm) We all know the story by now: back in 2004 Death From Above 1979 released their boundary-breaking debut, were catapulted to the higher echelons of cult status, and promptly broke up after just two years. But even since the pair reunited in 2011 - having subsequently released two albums - they’ve yet to really escape the shadow of their monstrous effort ‘You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine’. It’s with their newest offering, ‘Is 4 Lovers’, that they seem to be attempting to do just that. While their brand of ferocious dance-punk explodes into exhilarating life with the opening one-two punch of ‘Modern Guy’ and ‘One+One’, it’s during the record’s latter half that they seem intent to push the boundaries of their own musical blueprint. The heady charge of ’N.Y.C Power Elite Part 1’ is swapped for mid-paced piano in ‘Love Letter’, while Sebastian Grainger coos through the opening verse of ‘Mean Streets’, before blistering drums kick in and seize unexpected control. An album which sees the pair attempt to build upon the mythology of their past - and reclaim a little of it, too - it’s a move that largely pays off. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN ‘One+One’
The Million Masks Of God (Loma Vista)
Much like its predecessor ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’, the sixth album to come from Atlanta's Manchester Orchestra is a more complex beast than it may first appear. Initially based around the loose concept of a man nearing the end of his life coming face-to-face with the Angel of Death, ‘The Million Masks of God’ soon transforms into a more reflective look at the issues of mortality and legacy we all begin to face as we grow older. And while it’d be easy to assume the record’s subject matter might lend itself to a more sombre musicality, here, the band are arguably at their most cinematic and bold. Sonically tracking the life of its central character, early tracks (‘Angel of Death’, ‘Keel Timing’) soar and swell with a striking energy; towards the album’s tail-end, things take a different, more contemplative pace. The record also sees them at their most experimental: electronics take a more prevalent role, sounds are twisted into different shapes. Even voice note recordings of frontman Andy Hull’s children find their way into the album’s rich tapestry. A record that feels dynamic and vital - while still respecting the band’s legacy so far - ‘The Million Masks of God’ is astonishing. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Bed Head’
Collective Consciousness (Yellow Cake) As one half of London punks Skinny Girl Diet, Delilah Holliday’s first musical output was revved up with politically-charged, feminist frustration, served with fuzzy riffs and the volume turned loud. In 2018, as the ‘D’ component of B.E.D alongside Baxter Dury and Etienne de Crecy, her vocals came backed by synths and louche French electronics. Now, coming into her debut solo EP, Delilah has switched things up once more, this time prioritising spacious textures that borrow from the club but firmly take up the 3am spot when everything’s gone a little wavy. Previous single ‘Goddess Energy’ is perhaps the most straight-forward dancefloor-filler, but elsewhere the singer keeps things pleasingly weird. ‘I Am (Delilah the Spider)’ uses a disorientating, woozy motif to lure its prey into the net, while ‘We Bloom’ feels like a ‘00s ambient dance track that got lost on the way home and wound up in 2021. There’s a positivity and selfassurance that runs through her lyrics, too, that only emphasises the general contented narcotic haze of it all. A solid next step. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘I Am (Delilah the Spider)’
Twixustwain (Domino) The crux of Sorry’s brilliance is their ability to mesh genres and dance around boundaries like they aren’t even there; last year’s debut ‘925’ glistened in the moments where jazz or trip hop adorned its indie rock frame. It’s easy to picture vocalists Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen nonchalantly knocking out ‘Twixtustwain’ sat on a bedroom floor, twiddling with loops and samples. A tasty little amuse-bouche before the main course of LP2, it feels like Sorry at their most experimental. ‘Don’t Be Scared’ is an eerie, croaky duet with a riveting breakdown, ‘Separate’ has a skulky, late-night coolness and, with more electronic elements than before, it perhaps foreshadows a pivot away from conventional guitar sounds on Album Two. Equally, ‘Cigarette Packet’ is Sorry at their best. Almost chiptune in its lo-fidelity, it see-saws back and forth like a character in a seedy bar gunning for a scrap. Though her performances are soft and even fragile at times, there’s always been a toughness to Asha’s vocal, but on ‘Favourite’ she seems to let her guard down. “Am I your favourite song? Am I your favourite one?” she asks over a simple guitar melody, with a vulnerability we’ve not seen from the band before. Just another notch in the belt of this outfit who seldom put a foot wrong. (Alex Cabré) LISTEN: ‘Cigarette Packet’
SKULLCRUSHER Storm In Summer (Secretly Canadian)
“I thrust my foot through the windshield,” sings Skullcrusher’s Helen Ballentine with a delicate brutality on the opener of this folkmeets-bedroom-indie EP, ‘Storm In The Summer’. It immediately foreshadows her disarmingly tranquil sound. A product of a depressed summer holed up with Nick Drake’s records on repeat, her music wears this influence brilliantly, not least on the overt ode to her inspiration. Having parted ways with a career in art, and swapping ambitions of electronica for the guitar, Skullcrusher swirls around the foundations of both. ‘Storm In The Summer’ is simultaneously bold and reserved, nodding to the minimalist experimentation of the likes of Radiohead, not least in the subtle pulse that runs throughout closer ‘Prefer’. It’s both familiar and entirely unique, pushing way beyond what has come to be expected from the wave of young songwriters reinterpreting folk. The balance between the delicate soundscapes and Helen’s words hits hard. “No one came to get me from the station,” she sings with palpable despair on ‘Song For Nick Drake’. “Hoping I have all my friends when I’m older sick in bed, but I’m sitting here alone,” she anticipates on ‘Steps’, before launching into a rare glimmer of positivity. “I prefer the rain in the summer”, Helen reveals as ‘Storm In The Summer’ reaches its conclusion, perfectly capturing her push and pull between beauty and devastating isolation. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘Song For Nick Drake’
reviews THE NATVRAL
There was a sense, around the time Kip Berman released what we now know to have been the final The Pains of Being Pure at Heart record, that he may have been suffering from a crisis of identity. What resulted was, by a distance, the weakest Pains album, on which he seemed to be trying to reach beyond their C86 and '90s altrock influences, but wasn’t sure quite where he wanted to go. By starting anew with The Natvral, he’s given himself license to make a triumphant comeback. Everything about ‘Tethers’ marks a step away from the Pains sound, doing away with the scuzzy reverb and cooed vocals in favour of boisterous guitars, lyrical content that speaks to his new perspective on life (opener ‘Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore’ a case in point) and arrangements that nod to classic rock - freewheeling alt-country on ‘New Year’s Night’, and urgent, raw balladry on ‘Sylvia, the Cup of Youth’. Kip’s voice might be the biggest revelation here - stripped of effects, it takes on an endearingly rugged character - but across ‘Tethers’, this could be one of the most remarkable transformations we’ve seen from a songwriter in recent years. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: 'New Year's Night'
In the twelve months since unveiling their first tracks, Galway’s NewDad have celebrated blanket praise from some of the most prominent tastemakers. Spurred on by the release of ‘Blue’ back in September 2020, the fourpiece have honed their understated pairing of abstract emotion with the nostalgic lo-fi shoegaze that dominates their widely anticipated debut EP. Together they offer a palpable melancholy, one driven by vocalist Julie Dawson’s intricate balance of despondency and bite, not least on the subtle spite on the closing title track. ‘Waves’ favours feeling over storytelling, securing a universal relatability that when married with its contemporary nod to ‘90s trailblazers easily explains NewDad’s early success. It’s also a product of patience, arriving some years after the school friends began making music, and comprises a carefully curated collection of six tracks, having abandoned a number of songs in the process. In taking their time, NewDad deliver with notable confidence, not just in their sound but in their understanding of wide-reaching human emotion and the unpredictable impact of others. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘Waves’
Creating Evil Art)
Land of Nothing (Icons
Anyone that’s ever been on a night out in Glasgow knows it to be something of an experience, intimidating and life affirming in equal measure. This is something that Baby Strange distil perfectly within the five tracks on offer across ‘Land of Nothing’, an EP that bridges the gaps between fidgety post-punk, raucous rock‘n’roll, and ‘00s indie. ‘More! More! More!’ sets the tone perfectly. As blistering as it is brooding, a rumbling bass backbones paranoid verses before a euphoric chorus explodes out of nowhere. Elsewhere ‘Club Sabbath’ draws from a wealth of ‘00s influences. Named after the band’s own club night, it’s impossible not to envision this gracing the dancefloors of indie clubs across the UK when they reopen. Closer ‘Over ‘n’ Over’, meanwhile, does nothing to relent the pace. A short, sharp gut punch of an EP that wastes little time in establishing itself and hangs around for even less, it’s the ideal antithesis for the last few months. If you weren’t already clamouring for a night in a club, ‘Land of Nothing’ is sure to change that. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ‘Club Sabbath
too young to be sad Tate McRae's second EP, 'too young to be sad' is a continuation of the melancholy pop sound showcased on the Canadian singer-songwriter's first. From unhealthy relationship patterns to second-guessing romantic choices, this is a release full of growing pains. Well-trodden ground it may be, but 17-year-old Tate sounds earnest and convincing, still working out those huge emotions herself. At points the whole thing does threaten to get mired in introspection, with even the gently upbeat moving-on track 'r u ok' not quite able to break through the gloominess. Still, it's all largely a safe play at relatability and the romanticisation of teenage life, one no more perfectly captured than in 'wish i loved you in the 90s', an acoustic guitar-washed homage to both the decade and a right-personwrong-time romance. One of a cohort of young songwriters turning over old cliches for fresh perspectives to huge success among her peers, 'too young to be sad' is a solid enough demonstration of what Tate McRae does best. (Eloise Bulmer) LISTEN: 'wish i loved you in the 90s'
MAD SOUNDS DU BLONDE
Homecoming (Daemon TV)
For her third album, Du Blonde, aka Beth Jeans Houghton has undergone a major makeover. The vision of blood and bruises that haunted the cover of 2019’s excellent ‘Lung Bread for Daddy’ is replaced by a beaming Pop-Art image of a full-lipped, cigarettetoting bad-ass, exuding all the confidence of an artist with their own newly-formed record label Daemon T.V, and a fresh injection of sound to boot. Armed with a star-studded list of collaborators – Ezra Furman, Shirley Manson (Garbage) and Andy Bell (Ride/ Oasis) - and a guitar loaned from actor Jeff Garlin - Beth cranks up the fuzz in a 25-minute set of power ballads and hit-and-run garage riffs, channelling Blondie, Pixies, and Rihanna in equal measures. Overall ‘Homecoming’ is the sound of self-affirmation, of Beth addressing, and even celebrating, personal battles with anxiety, poverty, and bad relationships – (“Didn't think I'd be thirty, broke and happy,” she sings on ‘Ducky Daffy') – through a glamorous pop-punk filter. When listening to the record, one can imagine the musician holed up in a bedroom, buzzing from copious amounts of late night coffee and nicotine, churning out these songs as an explosive “fuck-you” to the world. If nothing else, it is this, Du Blonde's uplifting sense of defiance, which dazzles most. What the streamlined sound of ‘Homecoming’ lacks in broad musical scope, it more than makes up for in attitude. (Connor Thirlwell) LISTEN: ‘Ducky Daffy’
Beth spills on what was on the stereo around the making of 'Homecoming'.
TONY MOLINA DISSED AND DISMISSED
I’d sent a bunch of the unmixed tracks to Ezra Furman (as well as being a guest on the record she’s generally my go-to person for ‘what do you think of this...’ emails). She called and asked if I’d ever heard of Tony Molina because of the harmonic guitar solos all over ‘Homecoming’. I hadn’t but as soon as I heard this record I was like ‘this is what I’m doing!’. 10/10 recommend.
WEEZER - PINKERTON
A classic. I don’t really think there’s much I can say about this record that people haven’t already said, but I think one of the things that draws me to Weezer is the guitar tones and production that create a space that is so full of sound while retaining separation. There’s no question about which instrument is playing what, and the delicacies of the melody and the characteristics of each tone poke through while remaining completely cohesive.
HAIM - WOMEN IN MUSIC PT. III
Having never got into Haim in any big way this record came as a nice surprise. It’s so engaging and well produced and the storytelling is great. They’ve really summed up a lot of the feelings and scenarios that come with being a woman, or someone perceived to be a woman (like myself) in the music industry. People really do ask you about what faces you make in bed when you show up to talk about your work.
reviews BRYCE DESSNER
RECO MMEN DED Missed the boat on some the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
FLOWERS for VASES / descansos The strength of Hayley Williams as a songwriter, a vocalist, a woman is still awe-inspiring.
Conflict Of Interest It’s pure; Ghetts neither shuns the light or the dark across the 16 tracks. He lets it all show.
THE ANTLERS Green To Gold
It feels like the opening of a new chapter, rather than the closing of the last one.
Impermanence / Disintegration (37d03d)
DINOSAUR JR Sweep It Into Space (Jagjaguwar)
Not to pit them against each other, but Bryce Dessner saw considerably less of the limelight than his brother did in 2020; with The National on ice as the pandemic raged, the guitarists busied themselves with other work - which, for Aaron, involved a famous visitor to his Long Pond studio, a couple of collaborative albums in ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’, and an armful of Grammys. Bryce, meanwhile, already had new work in the can by the time the world closed down a year ago; this commission for the Sydney Dance Company was inspired by the wildfires that ravaged Australia in early 2020 and the accompanying performance piece has now, a year later, been performed in front of live audiences in a largely COVID-free city. Bryce’s decision to release the score, performed by the Australian String Quartet, to an audience perhaps not as well-versed in the classical world as he is is not new; Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire has done similar in recent years. It does, though, offer an impressive glimpse of not only his technical ability as an arranger and composer - he was classically trained before he was ever involved with The National - but as a storyteller, too, crafting a narrative that incorporates both high drama - ‘Alarms’, ‘Emergency’ - and plaintive reflection on impending absence (‘Impermanence’), as he ruminates on the human cost of the fires before they’d even been put out. A nice bonus, too, is the inclusion of a reworking of ANOHNI’s ‘Another World’. A stirring reminder of the raw talent in the National fold. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: 'Alarms'
After Party (Chess Club) It’s an oh-so-sweet spot where Isle of Wight newcomers Coach Party sit, their exuberant sounds half festival-ready indie rock made for outdoor stages on summer afternoons, half throwback ‘90s alt rock with adrenalinefuelled riffs and melodramatically angsty lyrics. Six-track EP ‘After Party’ runs the gamut here, from the unabashedly emo (and selfexplanatory) ‘i’m sad’ to explosive closer - and ultimate standout - ‘Sweetheart’. Vocalist Jess Eastwood’s delivery sits somewhere in the realm of Courtney Barnett’s lackadaisical style, or the attitude of Beabadoobee at her most take-no-shit, and there’s more than a smidge of early Wolf Alice in the call-and-response backing vocals of opener ‘Can’t Talk, Won’t'. With a knack for a chorus (‘Really OK On My Own’), and hooks aplenty (‘Crying Makes Me Tired’), Coach Party really should be on your (fingers crossed) festival must-see list this summer. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: 'Sweetheart'
Five years after their 11th full-length, ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’, Dinosaur Jr. have delivered its follow-up. And while ‘Sweep It Into Space’ is far from being among their best work, it is still a mostly enjoyable collection of songs. The album could perhaps have benefitted from a rougher production job than the clean one Kurt Vile and J Mascis do here. It doesn’t pull off their signature trick of marrying poppy choruses to rocky riffing anywhere near as well as it could, but the nostalgic, aching wistfulness of the band’s classic melodies is retained on ‘I Ain’t’ and ‘To Be Waiting’. Mascis still performs great solos on songs like ‘And Me’ and ‘N Say’, while the band still sound like they’re really enjoying playing together after all these years on ‘Hide Another Round’. A decent album, then. Not a great one, but one that can still hold its own against any other indie rock album released this year. There’s life in these old veterans yet. (Greg Hyde) LISTEN: ‘I Ain’t’
JURASSIC SPARKS Not sure where to begin on a deepdive into J Mascis and pals' extensive discography? Try these three for size.
YOU'RE LIVING ALL OVER ME (1987)
Dinosaur Jr. were still finding their feet on debut full-length ‘Dinosaur’ (1985), but they delivered a college rock classic for its follow-up. ‘Little Fury Things’, ‘Kracked’, and ‘Tarpit’ are among the highlights.
Mere months later, the band improved upon ‘You’re Living…’ with their finest work. Featuring the classic ‘Freak Scene’, ‘Bug’ perfectly demonstrates the band’s trademark poppy vocals, abrasive guitars, and raw production values.
WHERE YOU BEEN (1993)
Commercial breakthrough fifth fulllength ‘Where You Been’ is mid-period Dinosaur Jr.’s strongest album, with more overt classic rock influences. It features some of their catchiest material, including hit single ‘Start Choppin’’.
If Frances isn’t a name you can immediately put a face to, chances are you’re not alone. The Berkshire singer-songwriter was a hot ticket back in 2016 when she made the BRITs Critics’ Choice shortlist (eventually losing out to bearded keyboard warrior Jack Garratt), but on its release the following year, debut full-length ‘Things I’ve Never Said’ received nary a whimper, missing out on the Top 40 entirely. Follow-up ‘Wonder’ follows a period of writing for other artists - most notably a credit on Dua Lipa’s ‘Hallucinate’ - and while these lessons in songcraft may have inspired Frances to step behind the production desk, having written, performed and recorded the album single-handedly, it hasn’t helped her find a voice behind her perfectly pleasant vocal. Because while ‘Eclipse’ soars moderately come its eventual climax, and the chorus of ‘Everything In Between’ possesses the closest to a tangible hook across the record's eight tracks, the issue with ‘Wonder’ is that it’s entirely forgettable. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘Everything In Between’
As the somewhat blasé title of Benny Sings’ 8th LP suggests, 'Music' is very much business as usual, with smooth cuts of slow jams indebted to R&B, neo-soul and synth pop shimmering in the light of Benny’s slick production and knack for melody. One of the most satisfying elements of his sound is its restraint - minimal layers, zero clutter; ‘Music’ is clean listening at its finest. And while the formula works well, that doesn’t mean the LP is lacking in surprises. Strings flourish beautifully in the closing bars of ‘Sunny Afternoon’, multiple vocals flicker playfully in and out across the piano-led strut of ‘Lost Again’ and a glorious sax solo bursts through the mid-section of ‘Run Right Back’. The varied guest spots bring different dimensions to the world of ‘Music’ - a pitch-shifted Mac DeMarco graces highlight ‘Rolled Up’ while rapper/singer KYLE offers up a blissful vocal on the sweet ‘Kids’. While the phrase ‘business as usual’ can often carry a negative sentiment, in Benny’s case it’s a wonderful thing. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘Rolled Up’
SILVER SYNTHETIC THE PALE WHITE
Let The Bad Times Roll
For all of the disturbances it's caused, the political ineptitude and deceit of the last few years has proven prime fodder for punk inspiration. It was a temptation So-Cal veterans The Offspring couldn’t ignore, forcing them back into the studio to record their first album since 2012’s ‘Days Go By’. ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’ however indicates they were perhaps wiser to remain outside of the limelight, as their attempt to tap into the manic paranoia and fracturing of society misses the mark by some magnitude. Rarely have Dexter Holland’s lyrics been so cliche, with the band as a whole reverting to tropes worn thin before the group dropped 1994 magnum opus ‘Smash’. The faux-protest chorus of opener ‘This Is Not Utopia’ dilutes any earnest hostility with its inane repetition of “the roots” as Dexter chants “The roots of America / the roots of hysteria”. The use of lazy rhyming of couplets such as “Breakdown / takedown” on ‘Coming For You’ further blunt the impact of the band’s core messages, and are an unfortunately apt reflection of the listless chugging guitarist Noodles and co enact throughout the record. ‘Hassan Chop’ is a welcome reprieve towards the end, introducing some of the relentless punk drive of the band at their best, but it does little to revive the rebellious ethos ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’ clearly strives for. Forged from our current volatile climate this may be; an appropriately cutting and volatile response, however, it certainly is not. (Ben Lynch) LISTEN: ‘Hassan Chop’
As their on-stage selves, Tyneside trio The Pale White have garnered many a comparison to Queens of the Stone Age. And while large swathes of debut ‘Infinite Pleasure’ do appear to be an attempt to follow in Josh Homme and pals’ footsteps, there’s something just a little too slick and lacking in oomph on these particular studio recordings to come close to the Californians’ infamous strut. Moreover, any points at which the record does hint at something harder - say, the metallic drumming in the opening title track, or the chaotic climax of ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ - it sounds bafflingly out of place. And yet, on the flip side, super-soft ballad ‘Anechoic Chamber Blues’ echoes later Oasis (or worse, solo Noel Gallagher), and closer ‘Frank Sinatra’ makes a play for epic - replete with ‘Hey Jude’ longevity and bizarre “la la la” backing vocals - but comes back empty. (Ed Lawson) LISTEN: 'That Dress'
Abstract Education (Heist or Hit)
Make no bones about it, the highlight of Eades’ debut EP is still sprawling breakthrough ‘Former Warnings Cluster’, a track that borrows as much from Britpop’s bounce as it does the current oversaturation of post-punk. And with a chorus that sorely missed out on last year’s festival shenanigans, it’s easy to see how the Leeds-based gang quickly became one of the most talked-about new bands towards the end of last year. But where the group shine brightest on this debut EP is when they shy away from the sounds of their peers slightly; the AM-radio friendly ‘Coltrane’ makes like the most melodic of The Clash’s output, while opener ‘Smoking Hour’ shows off vocalist Harry Jordan at his ‘80s baggiest. Sure, the noodling away in the background of folly ‘Laptop’s Glow’ might have questionable echoes of a certain Brexit-supporting ‘60s group’s musical contribution to the CSI franchise, but you can’t win ‘em all. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘Coltrane’
Everything's Delicious (Hand in Hive) As was the case with last year’s debut EP, ‘What’s on the TV?’, there’s something innately counterintuitive about this follow-up five-tracker from William Blackaby; the songs comprising it were written over a period of recovery from an injury that left him with close to total memory loss, and yet the terror that must have enveloped him feels a long way from the sonic landscape he presents on ‘Everything’s Delicious’, which is uniformly laid-back, all woozy melodies and floaty vocals. Throughout, the Londoner zeroes in on the little things; hazy memories of childhood kick-arounds on ‘Sweet Lemonade’, or the banal minutiae of letting the days slip by on single ‘Warm and Sweet’ (“Homes Under the Hammer on TV / midday, and I have not done anything”). There’s a subtle wit to Blackaby’s songwriting that’s in evidence throughout, accentuated by the fact that he delivers his words breezily, almost to the point of being matter-of-fact. Musically, meanwhile, ‘Everything’s Delicious’ finds room for a couple of panoramic guitar solos on ‘Warm and Sweet’ and ‘No Long Grass’, in the middle of what it is otherwise a pretty sedate pop affair; only the stripped-back, barely-there closer ‘Lee’ diverges from the tried-and-true formula of chirpy guitar and soft, rolling percussion. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: 'Warm and Sweet'
This debut record by New Orleans four-piece Silver Synthetic comes with impressive pedigree; the brainchild of Chris Lyons of garage-punk outfit Bottomfeeders, the lineup now includes members both of that band and Jeff the Brotherhood, which might go some way to explaining how they scored a deal with Jack White’s Third Man before they’d even put out their first EP (last year’s ‘Out of the Darkness’). Their self-titled debut full-length continues working to the same blueprint that they laid out on that release; on songs still tinged with the garage-psych inflections of Bottomfeeders, Chris turns his gaze backwards, channeling the forefathers of the genre from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s to deliver what is on the one hand a handsomely brisk pop record and, on the other, something altogether more off-kilter. In its own way, the past decade or so has been a golden age all its own for fans of chiming, melodic guitar music, particularly with the rise of labels like Captured Tracks, but rather than attempt to stand out from the crowd, ‘Silver Synthetic' plays more like an homage - channeling The Kinks on ‘Around the Bend’, nodding to the Laurel Canyon scene with the laidback glide of the guitars on ‘Out of the Darkness’, tapping into the softly fizzing energy of sixties pop on ‘Some of What You Want’. Underpinning it all - whether in the floaty vocals or subtle shapeshifting of the arrangements - is an understanding of the quiet psych weirdness that made the records they’re referencing what they were. There’s no new ground broken by Silver Synthetic here, but it’s a finely-crafted debut all the same. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: 'Around The Bend'
Flat White Moon (Memphis Industries)
BACK TO THE
DRAWING BOARD WITH COURTING
Q1: Where did you record the album?
Q2: What do you do when the Grand National is on TV?
Q3: What can you buy from a ‘Popshop!’?
Q4: What has Courting’s latest lockdown looked like?
Grand National (Nice Swan) On their scrappy debut collection, Liverpool’s Courting are heavy-handed with their influences but endearing enough to get away with it. On the energetic title track, frontman Sean Murphy-O’Neill is a pint-sized Alex Rice, a cavalier jabberer whose tone is an inch the right side of irritating as he rips into horse racing culture and Brexit Britain over an instrumental that should tick a few boxes for any Sports Team fan. ‘Crass’, with a wiry, knock-off Black Country, New Road sort of sound, is a less fitting look on the foursome, especially compared to ‘Popshop!’, the EP’s jaunty bite-size lynchpin which is an absolute barrel of fun. Complete with an Ed Sheeran dig and a shot of cynicism for good measure - “fame buys you money and money buys you fame,” sings Sean - it highlights Courting’s sense of humour that could give them an edge as a one-to-watch, if they can keep it up in future. (Alex Cabré) LISTEN: ‘Popshop!’
In a departure from their staunchly political content of late, Field Music tackle more personal themes for their 11th studio album. ‘Flat White Moon’ bears all the traces of inward reflection that forced isolation provides, while remaining true to the Wearsiders’ core appeal. The shimmering magic of opener ‘Orion From The Street’ sets the tone: propulsive, buoyant beats cut with chopping guitars, immaculately tight and hypnotic rhythms in the true Field Music mould, here tempered by ponderous observations of far constellations and death being “but a dream". That this is a very English record by a very English band only enhances its introversions. Images of quaint domesticity tennis courts, caravans, lagers in the garden – mingle with nostalgic odes to the streets of Sunderland and central London, with musical leanings that recall the great trailblazers of nostalgic British pop: the romantic theatricality of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, the cello-scraping chamber pop of Paul McCartney and the succulent melodies of primary influence XTC. From a band capable of biting social commentaries and intense concept albums about the First World War, this latest, fluffier episode in the Field Music saga is a solid record that does everything you’d ever hope a Field Music album would do. (Connor Thirlwell) LISTEN: ‘Orion From the Street’
Paradigmes (Disque Pointu) Anyone who's ever experienced a La Femme record will know that these Parisian popsters, lead by songwriting duo Sacha Got and Marlon Magnée, aren't ones for moderation or half-measures. True to form, third album ‘Paradigmes’ offers a comprehensive 15-song set grounded in the kind of kitschy, bubblegum aesthetic the group have become known for. Taking sultry synthpop as its blueprint, ‘Paradigmes’ punctuates lyrics about vampires, teenage love sagas, and youth riots with flagrant banjo and clarinet solos that send the dedicated listener across such diverse stylistic plains of electro-swing, motorik punk, psych, and Ennio Morricone film soundtracks (replete with the obligatory sample of a whinnying horse). And yet, while La Femme's playful, no-holds-barred approach to song writing remains a huge part of their charm, it’s hard not to feel a little lost when, during an hour's listening, the album hits you with an idiosyncratic operatic vocal, or another protracted rap section about existential philosophy or toking spliffs in the euphoric Californian sun. La Femme toss so many weird and interesting ideas against the wall, that for every gorgeous moment that sticks, there’s an awkward miss. By the time closer ‘Tu t'en Lasses’ drifts prettily to its conclusion, it's easy to wonder if a little moderation is exactly the kind of thing ‘Paradigmes’ could have done with more of. (Connor Thirlwell) LISTEN: ‘Le Jardin’
Slash and Burn
Course In Fable
BLACK MIDI CAVALCADE One meaning of the title of black midi's forthcoming second is "a dramatic sequence or procession." Sounds about right. Released 28th May.
EASY LIFE - LIFE'S A BEACH Despite reaching 7 in the Actual Album Charts, we were told last year's mixtape 'Junk Food' wasn't an album. But this will be, come 4th June.
WOLF ALICE - BLUE WEEKEND Inspired more by retreating to the south coast to write than, say, Eiffel 65's killer earworm, the Londoners' third is out 11th June.
Ryley Walker’s fifth is a typically intricate affair, continuing his experimental approach to both guitar and arrangement as he stylistically slaloms through a number of diffuse influences - most of them, this time, based in the city that shaped him, Chicago. The result is a winding affair on which he indulges his every whim; there are complex time signatures aplenty, especially on the unpredictable ‘A Lenticular Slap’, whilst his serpentine guitar work ranges from the arpeggiated (especially on opener ‘Striking Down Your Big Premiere’) to the noodling (‘Axis Bent’). There’s also room for nods to jazz freakouts (‘Clad with Bunk’) and dub (the beat on ‘Pond Scum Ocean’). The peculiar thing about ‘Course in Fable’ is that it all comes off sounding so breezy; it is nothing like as demanding a listen as albums this indebted to prog tend to be, instead likely to lend itself perfectly to sunny, lazy days woozy closer ‘Shiva with Dustpan’ a case in point. In and out of the studio, Ryley Walker has been one of indie rock’s more colourful characters for a while now; ‘Course in Fable' only reinforces that view. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: 'Axis Bent'
Year of the Rat (Easy Life)
The millennium bug was real. The internet collapsed. The world descended into deep technological chaos: this is the dystopian hellscape GHLOW live inside and it seems they absolutely love it. A full-on digital assault, their debut ‘Slash and Burn’ is goth, punk, robotic death rave; basically the sound of a band determined to demolish your modem, one skull-crushing rhythm at a time. The group’s bombastic drum machine pummels throughout the album, giving each track a disturbing, almost military feel, and creates a feeling of intense unease that suggests that GHLOW’s techno purgatory is everlasting. Layered over the top of these relentless beats are the ringing, intense riffs and distorted bass notes that scream ’90s alternative rock, which is no bad thing; the group weaponise their influences masterfully. The Shellac bassline dirge of ‘Mess with Me’ crawls in deeper and deeper, while the Nine Inch Nails-esque ‘Hollow’ drives its dirty riff right into your skull. There’s no imitation here, just dark, pixellated homage. If this is what the apocalypse sounds like, then count us in. (Jack Doherty) LISTEN: ‘Hollow’
Softcult, formed by Canadian twins Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn, perfect their easygoing, bright and breezy sound on debut EP 'Year of the Rat', pairing light and airy vocals with fuzzy guitars and heavy-hitting percussion. In the same way the sugar-sweet vocals contrast with the loud and bold instrumentation, the dreamy melodies come with sharp lyrics. "You don’t want a girlfriend / you just want a doll" opens the impossibly catchy 'Take it Off', which deals with the harsh realities of sexism while switching from stripped-back to full-force on a whim. Songs like ‘Another Bish’ and ‘Gloomy Girl’ establish the band’s style but unfortunately venture into overlyfamiliar territory. Still, Softcult aren’t afraid to throw some curveballs, and that’s where the EP shines. ‘Young Forever’ surprises with its bold electronic opening, while ‘Bird Song’ is unpredictable in its melody and choice of instrumentation. Overall, ‘Year of the Rat’ is a fun, unexpected and eclectic mix. (Aliya Chaudhry) LISTEN: 'Take It Off'
The first Teenage Fanclub album since the departure of original member Gerard Love in 2018 (and, notably, the consequent addition of new-tothem-at-least Euros Childs) ‘Endless Arcade’ largely sticks to the Scottish veterans' indie pop roots, being forty minutes of charged guitars and driving rhythms paired with poetic lyricism. It’s heartfelt, the songs on show regaling tales of broken relationships, of feelings of loss and hopelessness, most notably in the immersive ‘Living With You’: “My world is upside down, I’m lost don’t know what to do / You’re so far away from me / So I’ll wait and hope that one day the tide will turn,” it goes. Emotionally honest, across its twelve tracks the group detail feelings of longing, losing your sense of self and awaiting something more in a wholly atmospheric manner. Ripping up their rulebook? Hardly. Giving longtime fans something new to enjoy? You bet. (Flo Stroud) LISTEN: ‘Living With You’
Beseech Me (Meat
You can’t move for punk rock down under. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide. You name the city, and it’s bursting with punk. CLAMM are the latest in line, following likeminded exports Amyl and the Sniffers, The Chats and A Swayze & The Ghosts to lay a boot in. Debut ‘Beseech Me’ is pure and simple punk rock, in the best possible way. There’s enough snark on show here to make Richard Hell shiver in his tight leather pants. From the whining feedback of ‘Liar’ through to the Metz-esque squalls of ‘Keystone Pols’, CLAMM are a group fully in control of their sound. There’s no messing around. No needless experimentation, no ballads, no fancy time signatures, just ten classic punk rock stompers. Usually, a record so one note would tire quickly, but when punk is done this well there’s nothing much better in the world. CLAMM may not be the first group to venture out into the fuzzy Australian wilderness, but with 'Beseech Me', they’ve shown they might just be the best. (Jack Doherty) LISTEN: ‘Liar’
This Is Really Going To Hurt (Island) While it’s clear Flyte’s heads live somewhere in ‘70s California, their melodies always kissed
JUNGLE - LOVING IN STEREO While we've been busy earnin', this floorfilling duo have been busy... working on this new album. Out 13th August.
by the requisite amount of sunshine, ‘This Is Really Going To Hurt’ doesn’t exactly say much about the group themselves. There’s opener ‘Easy Tiger’, with its echoes of the old Bon Iver; the Elliott Smith-channelling ‘Everyone’s A Winner’; ‘Under The Skin’ which takes its cues from Arcade Fire. ‘I’ve Got A Girl’ mixes a smidgen of Grizzly Bear among its oddly-placed jazz hands, and ‘Losing You’, a lacklustre storytelling number, has vocalist Will Taylor pushing his Dylan nasal stakes up further than a Covid-19 test. And when it’s not immediately obvious whose sonic palette the trio are dabbling their musical paintbrushes into, they veer towards pastiche, whether the forced sentimentality of ‘Love Is An Accident’ or ‘Mistress America’, which - title aside - evokes school assembly singalongs. ‘There’s A Woman’, while lyrically so hamfisted as to suggest the band had never previously laid eyes on anyone of said gender, does at least have a bouncy personality to its hazy, psych-imbued self. Sure, with ‘This Is Really Going To Hurt’, Flyte have successfully echoed the sounds of the past, but it’s all about as paper-thin as a yellow-hued Instagram filter. (Bella Martin) LISTEN: ‘There’s A Woman’
TH E AXIS Positioned just down the road from South Bermondsey train station in South London is a complex of 10 new production and writing rooms called The Axis on Ormside. Over the last 12 months, The Axis have been busy building and perfecting their oﬀer to London’s creative community. Three years in the planning, we caught up with Charlie Dorman, Director, to ﬁnd out more about the project.
“Initially, we had no idea of what was coming. The Axis had been in the pipeline for a few years and when we found the building in Bermondsey, we knew it was the perfect place for us. We felt there was a need in inner London for high quality, ﬂexible space for creators that wasn’t being met.” Within weeks of taking the building on, the nation was put into lockdown and the project slowed to a crawl. After a short break, the team was able to continue the work and begin to try and get the project back on track.
“We took a multi-disciplinary approach to design and the results have been fantastic. Mixing architecture, acoustic design and graphic design, we’ve created a real home for London’s creative community that speaks to the need for a well presented, professional space that enables people to work and collaborate in comfort.” Residents include artists from Island Records and Universal Music Publishing, as well as numerous major-label and independent artist collaborations in the session studios on oﬀer at The Axis. And this is where The Axis comes into its own; a fully equipped studio can be booked for a day and all customers need to do is bring a laptop and get straight to work. “The Axis studios come equipped with great outboard from Neve and Universal Audio including an Apollo Twin interface with Focal monitors, as well as several mic options from Sontronics, Neumann and Shure. Each room is accessed via our app using a smart phone, so is really easy, and comes with custom controlled lighting and air conditioning. We’ve also recently added a piano room with API preamps which oﬀers fantastic value to anyone looking to add real piano to their workﬂow.”
community building at The Axis. We feel we have an important role to play supporting artists and producers to get back together and create fantastic projects for audiences as 2021 looks set to be a big year for collaboration and production.” The Axis is currently open for bookings and for a limited time is oﬀering a 20% discount on studios from £200 a day as well as free membership (usually £15 p/month) giving members further discounts on pro-audio equipment, software and services. Get in touch with directors Chris Kiely, Larry Hibbitt and Charlie Dorman to ﬁnd out more. email@example.com +44 7865 242927 www.theaxis.uk | @theaxis_uk
At a time where the music and creative industries are beginning to emerge from lockdown, the need for space to collaborate and produce has never been more acute. As live music begins to shape up out in the long grass, so too is the energy and enthusiasm of artists to return to audiences with new oﬀerings and projects. “We are seeing a cautious return to creative output and it is really exciting to see the
The beauty of SXSW has always been stumbling on unexpected gems. And while taking place purely online, this year’s stumble might be slightly different - from channel to channel, streaming showcase after streaming showcase - the gems shine as bright as they would IRL.
From Ireland’s showcase. There’s something bewitching about their brooding, strobe-tinged set, even if it is only two tracks long.
Projecting towards an audience of… the gaping expanse of a warehouse isn’t an easy task, but Watford’s Connie Constance gives it one hell of a go early on at the British Music Embassy. The singer’s infectious personality shines past the somewhat sterile surroundings. Channelling a little of what made Charli XCX’s ‘Sucker’ era so exciting in her short set, given a full band to bounce off, the sky’s the limit. Into the small hours, and vibes get darker with South London upstarts, PVA. Again, the environment might not be the natural home for taut dance-punk, but there’s something about the trio’s impeccable rhythms and structure around which their music is built that can’t help but prove transformative. Later, the fist-pumping pomp of Walt Disco’s set draws things to a theatrical close. As effervescent as ever, glammed up tracks like ‘Hey Boy (You’re One Of Us)’ and ‘Cut Your Hair’ close the BME’s first stream with the kind of playful exuberance their sets are packed with. With a one-song show over at the Afrofuture Sounds showcase, meanwhile, Darkoo swerves last year’s viral R&B sizzler ‘Gangsta’, and opts instead to show off latest single ‘Pick Up’. A vibey track all about the very-unvibey feeling of getting ghosted, Darkoo flexes her melodic muscles in front of a schoolpicture-day-esque backing, looking effortlessly cool. Bilbao gang Belako then charm over at the Sounds from Spain showcase with a ramshackle trio of tracks that land between fellow Spaniards Hinds and the lo-fi charm of Chastity Belt.
If you had any doubts as to where pub rockers The Chats were from, then their showcase seems designed to be the most Australian thing you’ve ever seen. Playing in a back garden, they’re joined by a mate dressed in a koala outfit sipping a beer, and a crocodile that bursts out of their drum kit. It’s a wild change in pace to Melbourne’s Kee-Ahn, who gives us ‘Reckless’ and ‘Better Things’ - the latter a track about moving to the city that’ll have Lianne la Havas fans eating out the palm of her hand. What she lacks in boozy hedonism, the singer makes up for in a Radio 2 brand of class.
Nayana Iz wows early on at the British Music Embassy with a magnetic and enthralling set. Opening with ‘TNT’, the NiNE8 member’s mixes of stunning vocal melodies in the chorus with slick rap flows are immediately mesmerising, and as she bops round the stage like she owns it. Yung Baby Tate Connie Constance
Beginning at the British Music Embassy, Phoebe Green brings pure brooding indie, the flame-haired singer a tightly-wound ball of simmering energy throughout her set, cocooned by her band as she delivers matter-of-fact lyrics about such themes as fitting in (‘Reinvent’). It’s compelling stuff. From across the pond Maliibu Miitch then urges everyone watching from their computers to “turn up”, which may have been a result of her fire rap verses under any other circumstances, but sound problems result in her set sounding quiet and rattly. No sound problems hinder headliner Yung Baby Tate however, who performs a show-stopping set that sees her delivering hit after hit surrounded by a set that looks part 90s music video and part high-tech TV performance. Over to down under, and at Sounds Australia’s first showcase Baker Boy brings what is almost certainly DIY’s first didgeridoo of the season to the party. Paying tribute to indigenous people and performing in the middle of a scenic corn field, his glass-half-full brand of hip hop is an injection of positivity - with a didgeridoo!
Having already (pre-pandemic at least) found themselves on a slew of new music festival bills, it’s little surprise to discover Dundalk quintet Just Mustard as one of the stand out acts from Music
Transporting us, quite literally, into the middle of their living room, South Korea’s Say Sue Me then offer up a dose of ‘90s-indebted slacker rock which is entirely welcome. Performing as part of the Damnably Records showcase, their scuzzy but infectious tracks are a delight to behold. Followed by Indonesian trio Grrrl Gang, the volume gets turned up another notch; their attitude-packed punk tracks fizz with an in-your-face energy. Later on at the British Music Embassy, Leeds’ Yard Act - who seem to have adopted a new member in Pulled Apart By Horses’ Tom Hudson on guitar serve up their entire catalogue (that’s four songs) to date. Their tales of suburban husbands and hustlers already feel classic. It’s been a couple of years since Squid first played SXSW IRL, but the quintet are an entirely souped up proposition these days. What really comes across during their set is how seamlessly in tune the five are; a ten-armed, psychically-connected creature that finally makes sense of their multi-limbed moniker.
404 Guild’s set at the British Music Embassy is a knock out, coming out the gate ready to tear shit up with opening banger ‘Fearless’. Not holding anything back, the collective bring the unfiltered energy from their live sets through the screen, jumping about and spitting ferocious bars, while commanding the room as if it were packed with the usual mosh-pits. Repping a strong bucket hat / kimono combo, Persian-Kiwi rapper CHAII is a magnetic blur of sass. Slipping easily between English and Farsi, dropping basslines that’ll make your laptop vibrate, and generally exuding the kind of unfuckwithable confidence that you imagine Ashnikko could get on board with, she’s a whirlwind of razor sharp delivery, big, immediate tunes and cheeky charm. A real find.
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photo credit: Thomas Jackson 65
IT’S YOUR ROUND
quiz of sorts A big inter-band pub
, we’ll be grilling your
faves one by one.
Where: Newcastle Drink: A lovely cuppa tea Price: How much is a tea bag? 3p?
NO BROUW GHT TO YO U VIA ZOOM !
Specialist Subject: Almost Famous Easy one to kick off with what’s the name of the band that young William goes on tour with? Stillwater! Correct. Which actor from The Office US is featured in the film as an editor at Rolling Stone? I watched the US version of The Office for about four months when I was dating a guy… Oh my god, the one with the glasses! Shit, what’s his name?! Dwight! We’ll give you that - it was The Office’s beet farmer in chief Dwight Shrute, as played by Rainn Wilson. Why is the inclusion of Joni Mitchell's album ‘Blue’ in the film a point of contention among viewers? I don’t know. I’m trying to think of the lyrics [hums a bit of Joni Mitchell]. No I’m not gonna get it, but I’d love to know! The album is shown in the film but was actually released
two years after the year in which it was meant to be set. Oh no! Which actor was meant to play Russell Hammond but dropped out before filming? Part of me wants to say Matthew McConaghy. Brad Pitt? Correct! It was Brad. Woah, that would have been so different. The guy who plays Russell is so hot; he was my biggest crush growing up. Holy crap. Who is the real-life guitarist responsible for what you hear as Russell’s guitar playing? I thought they were all playing it?! Nope, there’s an actual band behind the film band, and the guitarist was Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. For some reason I always thought he’d just learnt it himself and I was always impressed he’d done it so well for the part. What a bummer.
General Knowledge In what year was the first iPhone released? These are all gonna be wild guesses but I’m gonna say 2008. So close, it was 2007. So I would have been 17, I was trying to base it around when I started using iPods which was a bit before then. I stuck with a Nokia 3310 ‘til I was about 20. What is the body’s largest organ? The skin! Correct - although still sort of weird that it counts as an organ. It’s facing the outside, and it touches all of these different things and that’s weird. Which mammal has no vocal chords? Oh, that’s sad. This is also double hard for me because I’ve never been clear what a mammal is either. Mammals give birth to live young don’t they? They don’t lay eggs, because I think a duck-billed platypus is the only one that lays eggs so I’m gonna say that. It’s actually a giraffe. Woah! You know giraffes have
3/5 FINAL SCORE:
a valve in their necks so when they bend down to get things off the ground all the blood doesn’t rush to their heads. If only that had been the question, Beth! If you were born on 22nd April, what star sign would you be? Oh I should know this 'cause I’m super into astrology. Aries? It’s a Taurus. To be honest I’m only good at Capricorn, Virgo and Scorpio because they’re the main people in my life. Who is the youngest person to have ever appeared on the Billboard chart? I think I’m gonna be incorrect but I really wanna say JoJo not JoJo Siwa, but the original JoJo. She was like, 13 when she did that song [‘Leave (Get Out)’] and there was this whole thing about her being advertised as a sexy young woman. Not cool, and also not correct. It was Blue Ivy Carter. Of course! And she’s a Grammy winner now, too.
Verdict: “Well I hope that my album gets better results than that… but you never know!”
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