FREE. NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE 91 DIYMAG.COM SET MUSIC FREE
The 1975 want to change the world. Are you with them?
NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS Sat 02 May Birmingham Arena
Wed 06 May Manchester Arena
Sun 03 May Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Tue 12 May Leeds First Direct Arena
Tue 05 May Glasgow The SSE Hydro
Thu 14 & Fri 15 May London The O2
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NOVEMBER NOVEMBER NOVEMBER NOVEMBER NOVEMBER NOVEMBER NOVEMBER NOVEMBER NOVEMBER Listening Post
What’s been worming its way around DIY’s collective earholes this month?
THE BIG MOON WALKING LIKE WE DO
Everyone’s dream girl gang BFFs released one of our favourite debuts of recent years, so, naturally, its incoming follow-up has been a firm resident on the DIY stereo. It’s good to have them back.
POLIÇA - WHEN WE STAY ALIVE
In this issue, we’re looking back at the last 12 months in music. And so, we must ask, what are Team DIY’s Albums of 2019? SARAH JAMIESON • Managing
Editor Not only is Billie Eilish’s debut an absolute banger, but anyone who can sell out four nights at The O2 off the back of one record firmly has my vote.
EMMA SWANN • Founding Editor It might not be the one that blew my tiny mind, nor the one that had me all emosh on the bus many a time, but Fontaines DC’s ‘Dogrel’ edges it: bangers AND nifty wordplay? What more could you want? LISA WRIGHT • Features Editor
Lana’s latest is a v close contender, but for nailing it in terms of both quality AND quantity then my crown must, of course, go to Foals. The most hardworking horses in the stable.
LOUISE MASON • Art Director ‘Proto’ by Holly Herndon (and her AI child Spawn) sounds like nothing on earth, millions of mad weaved vocals. The live show was incredible - like a witches’ cult made by Apple.
ELLY WATSON • Digital Editor My forever spirit guide Lana Del Rey dropped ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ in August, simultaneously bringing some instantly quotable lyrical gems (“your poetry’s bad and you blame the news” is iconic) as well as ushering in the, much more me, #SadGirlAutumn. How could you not Stan?!
At the start of 2018, Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh literally fell off a roof and battered her spine; in a true feat of human resolve, however, her latest is perhaps the lightest thing she’s put her name to. Fair play.
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE - WELCOME TO THE BLACK PARADE
MCR’s mahoosive Number One conceptual smash celebrated its 13th birthday recently. Unlucky for some, but not for Gerard Way and co: we can confirm, it’s still a solid gold classic.
Well, dear readers, we’ve somehow found ourselves at the tail-end of 2019 and it’s safe to say Team DIY aren’t quite sure how. But in the name of reflection, we’ve decided to dedicate this entire issue to looking back at some of the year’s biggest highlights.
When it comes to iconic moments, our cover stars have had the lion’s share. From them picking up a couple o’ BRITs at the start of 2019 to riling up fusty politicians over their engagement in the climate change debate, via a rather massive headlining slot at Reading and Leeds, there’s no stopping the force that is The 1975 right now. We joined them on their whistle stop world tour to discuss their whirlwind of a year, and what exactly comes next for our Official Band of the Year™. Elsewhere this issue, we dive into an A - Z of 2019’s musical highs, including chats with Dublin heroes Fontaines DC and man-of-the-hour slowthai, as well as the interview you’ve all been waiting for: a quickfire Q&A with #AlexFromGlasto! Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor
C O N T E N T S
NEWS 6 ORLANDO WEEKS 12 BLAENAVON 1 6 H A L L O F FA M E 24 DO NOTHING NEU 26 MASTER PEACE 2 8 I TA L I A 9 0 33 SORCHA RICHARDSON F E AT U R E S 34 THE 1975 4 4 F O N TA I N E S D C 49 DESERT SESSIONS 52 SLOWTHAI 5 8 T H E G R E AT D E B AT E REVIEWS 64 ALBUMS 76 LIVE
Shout out to: Dirty Hit for making the cover extravaganza happen, Simon at Jack Daniel’s for being a legend on our mini tour, the Old Blue Last for letting us crash the bar for roundtable-based midday pints, Will at The Grace for the impromptu shoot location, Terra Terra in Finchley for the slap-up grub, Simon from Biffy’s trousers (no explanation needed) and Sesame Street for the alphabet song that’s been in Louise’s head the whole month. Please let it stop now. Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor Lisa Wright Digital Editor Elly Watson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Ben Lynch, Chris Taylor, Connor Thirlwell, Dan McGrath, George Wilde, Jack Doherty, Jack Johnstone Orr, James Bentley, Jenessa Williams, Joe Goggins, Kasimiira Kontio, Louisa Dixon, Rosie Hewitson, Sarah Thomas, Sean Kerwick, Sophie Walker, Tom Sloman, Will Richards Photographers Andrew Benge, Burak Cingi, Jamie MacMillan, Jenn Five, Jonathan Dadds, Jordan Curtis Hughes, Lindsay Melbourne, Patrick Gunning, Pooneh Ghana, Tash Greene Cover images and this page: Jordan Curtis Hughes For DIY editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales: email@example.com For DIY stockist enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
DIY HQ, Unit K309, The Biscuit Factory, 100 Drummond Road, London SE16 4DG Matty had started to take ‘The Man Who Married A Robot’ a bit too literally.
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.
SAVE THE DATE
Join us for the launch of our Class of 2020 - where we'll be celebrating a veritable feast of new talent at House of Vans, London. More details coming soon
r e t u r n of the Last month, former Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks debuted his first proper solo material since the band’s split. We caught up with the singer for an exclusive chat about what he’s been concocting... Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Emma Swann.
rlando Weeks has never been what you would call a natural show-off. As frontman of The Maccabees, he may have stood front and centre as the band scaled increasingly impressive heights - hitting the Number One spot with their fourth and final LP ‘Marks To Prove It’ before bowing out with three sold-out goodbye shows at Alexandra Palace - but the singer’s endearingly mumbling onstage chat and lack of bluster were a world away from the usual requirements of the position. “When The Maccabees were in America I tried standing at the side of the stage,” he recalls with a sheepish grin now. “We did three or four gigs like that, but no-one was up for it...” Pause. “I liked it...” When Orlando announced his Gritterman project back at the end of 2017 - an illustrated book and accompanying musical soundtrack telling the heartwarming story of a seasonal worker on his last round - it seemed like an in-character next step for the former art student. The show received a couple of live outings around the Christmases of 2017 and 2018, gorgeously festive things staged in churches and full of candles and carol-singing, but you’d have been hard-pushed to imagine the singer back on the touring circuit again. Cut to the end of this summer when, out of the blue, a post appeared on his Instagram page announcing a short run of dates to debut a set of “all brand new, as yet unheard music”. Now with nine shows under his belt, the material having “come through the assault course alright”, Orlando has the bones of a debut solo record mostly assembled. It’s likely, he says, to see the light of day in early 2020.
“I never thought when The Maccabees was over that whatever I ended up doing next was gonna be big.” 7
“Everyone will have their different reasons [for breaking up], but I felt like it was just a good moment,” he begins, sat in a pub that, he points out fondly, lies a stone’s throw away from his old band’s first rehearsal studio. “We were all ready to do other things, and whenever in the past we’d tried, it always got drawn back into Maccabee-world. And also we’d done a lot of it, you know?” he reasons. Having spent 14 years as a band, it was exactly that fact - that they’d come so far and called it quits at the peak of their powers - that many lamented. But though the highs were objectively higher, the rest of the routine was clearly not scratching the creative itch. “When the machinery for your band reaches a certain level, there’s not a lot for you to do,” he explains. “When you’re touring, the hour and a half that you’re on stage is sort of it. I did a lot of sitting in hotel lobbies, writing short stories on my phone because it was more inconspicuous, and I’d draw if I could find a way of making myself a desk that felt nice. In general, I was just trying to find anything that would [fill the time].” Two and a half years on from those final, emotional gigs, the singer is confident it was the right choice partly to end their tenure on a high (“There was a certain luxury in being able to play the biggest shows to the most people at the end,” he smiles, “I don’t think a lot of people get that moment”), but mostly because his idea of fulfilment clearly lies outside of a name at the top of a festival bill or a nod at an awards ceremony. “I don’t miss it,” he says. “I’m really proud of it, and I think the way that we ended it felt like it was a good call, but if the question is ‘Do you miss it?’, then I don’t think I do. And I never thought when The Maccabees was over that whatever I ended up doing next was gonna be big. It’s not really how I picture what I’d want to do or how it would be received.”
“I still don’t know what I’m trying to achieve, so it’s good to talk about it,” he muses. “But... this might sound moronic when it comes out of my mouth, but I want to make a very beautiful record. When I’ve got lost during the making of this record, I’ve often gone back to thinking, what am I trying to do with it? And I’m trying to make it feel beautiful. And if it’s too pointed or too sludgy or whatever is wrong with it at that particular time, then I need to try and make it sound beautiful.” Based around piano, drums and trumpet (“I can play the trumpet well enough to record it badly...”), the tracks debuted at London’s Hoxton Hall on the tour easily fall into this remit. Lush and full of swelling, emotive and - yes - beautiful flourishes, they find Orlando nestled at the rear of the stage,
“I want to make a very beautiful record.”
It’s an attitude that makes a lot more sense of Orlando’s current moves. Yes, he may be the much-loved singer of a very successful band, one capable of selling out a tour without releasing a single note of music, but, far from the ‘frontman goes solo’ cliche, it’s painfully obvious he’s not trying to pick up where he left off. Today, he’s on chirpy, cheery form, cracking jokes and descending into flights of fancy about how the visual side of his new project could unfold (it’s just as special as you’d hope, don’t worry). But the most notable thing is how happy the singer clearly is to be building something new, something that could go anywhere. He’s been steadily working on tracks for the past 18 months, he informs us, “evidence-gathering” and accumulating “voice notes and scribbles and annotated sections of books that I only get 20 pages into” which he intends to turn into a body of work that’s more personal than anything he’s recently put his name to.
“At the moment, it’s about seeing what feels comfy and uncomfy,” he explains.
conducting his co-players around that muchmissed, inimitable vocal. “I spent almost the whole gig with my eyes closed until I needed to get everyone’s attention. It felt good,” he recalls. Currently he’s enjoying standing at the back for once, allowing himself to see what unfolds. Whether that turns into another big venue-filler or stays comparatively small, time will tell. But evidently the joy is in the journey, not the destination. “The point to me of trying to write stuff is to challenge myself and experiment and enjoy the process of doing something new,” he nods. “My ambition has always been the same: I really like making a chunk of music, and then finishing it, and then starting something else. And I would like to keep doing that.” DIY
SHOW ME THE PUPPY WE LOVE DOGS. YOU LOVE DOGS. HERE ARE SOME POPSTARS’ DOGS.
This month: Caius Stockley-Young, King Nun Names of pups: Nelson and Coco (aka The Raisin) Ages: 11, 8 Breed: Border Terrier, Staffie (though some argue she’s a seal) Favourite things: Wistfully barking into the wind, cheese and rice pudding. Please tell us some lovely endearing anecdotes about your dogs: Nelson once thought that moss on a pond was grass and ran right into the water. He’s had a phobia of large bodies of water ever since. Not a particular anecdote, but Coco’s tongue is too large for her mouth and regularly hangs out unintentionally.
‘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. Warning: this is what happens when you Vroom Vroom too hard… (@charli_ xcx)
THIS MONTH: DEBBIE HARRY
f course, Debbie Harry - Blondie leader, fashion icon and all-round general superstar - could happily sit in our legends corner any god damn month she likes. But this month the singer gets extra points, not only for her recently-released memoir Face It - an effortlessly brilliant look back at her singular career and “overwhelming need to have [her] entire life be an imaginative out-of-body experience” (us too, bbz) - but for the still-legendary way she’s conducted herself while promoting the book. In recent interviews, our Debs has spoken about her love of beekeeping, how she fully backs Extinction Rebellion and all manner of other righton sentiments. Yes, she’s 74. Yes, she’s probably got a hefty amount of cash in the bank these days. But Debbie Harry is still a woman of the people, and she’s still punk as fuck.
S P OT T E D
Believe it or not, pop and rock stars sometimes do normal things, too. They get lost, go food shopping, and catch buses - all sorts. This month, we clocked a fair few of them roaming around…
The whole of indie (Peace, Friendly Fires, Felix ex-Maccabees etc) watching Foals at House of Vans; George Ezra and The Big Moon having a more genteel time at Johnny Flynn’s Rough Trade gig; Wolf Alice and Jack Magic Gang watching Swim Deep at The Garage. Pixx having a boogie at DIY and Jack Daniel’s’ shindig at the Hawley Arms.
Marika misunderstood when asked if she wanted to ‘Netflix and chill’. (@marikahackman)
Don’t mind our new fan - she’s ‘armless. (@lifeband)
THU.26.MAR.20 WED.22.JAN.20 WED.27.NOV.19
happyendings 12 DIYMAG.COM
Bush Empire, which I never thought we’d get to do when I was a kid,” recalls frontman Ben Gregory now. “I felt like a badass motherfucker playing that show; it was awesome.”
It’s been a long and bumpy road towards second album ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’ for Blaenavon’s Ben Gregory. There may be no miracle cure for life’s more testing moments, but with the LP’s recent release, he’s showing that something positive can also come from struggle. Words: Photos:
But throughout that period, despite the increasing external success of the band, the singer was struggling with his own internal demons. By the time he, bassist Frank Wright and drummer Harris McMillan had completed the touring cycle for the record, Ben had started “getting really worried about [his] mental health”; by Christmas, the singer had been admitted into a psychiatric hospital. “Fucking hell, it’s the gnarliest thing in the world, I can’t stress enough how absurd a Christmas that was. I didn’t know where I was, or who I was, or what the hell was going on, and it was truly harrowing,” he says now. “It’s a tricky one because you get to a place where you’re not feeling yourself, and then you get to a point where you decide you’re not fit enough to be around in public, so then they put you in a building with a load of people who also aren’t quite feeling themselves and it’s obviously going to be like a weird social experiment. But I got the treatment I needed and then I got out of there and started making music again and it was still good, so that’s cool. That’s when I wrote ‘Fucking Up My Friends’: “‘Cause living in corridors ain’t quite the cards I was dealt”... Make of that what you will...” The last track to be penned for Blaenavon’s recent, fast-released second record ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’, it’s fairly clear where the lyrical content of the deceptively-jaunty offering stems from. The rest of the record, however, had been written prior to his inpatient stay, and it’s from an even darker, more troubled place that he now recognises that they emerged. “It’s kind of scary because a lot of the songs ended up being quite prophetic and were pointing out areas in my life where I was getting concerned, but I wasn’t really talking to anyone about it,” he explains. “You don’t send people songs and then they go, ‘I’m worried about you’; you send people songs and they go, ‘Hey, that’s a great song’. A lot of the record foreshadowed what was soon to come, when I had a proper breakdown.
aving formed as young teenagers, playing a series of increasingly buzzy underage gigs before inking a deal and releasing acclaimed debut ‘That’s Your Lot’ back in 2017, Blaenavon had already clocked up half a decade in the game by the time they’d just hit their twenties. Managing to successfully transition from essentially the indie music equivalent of hyped child stars, to a genuine, serious adult proposition, the record felt like a triumphant punctuation mark on their first chapter, a long-awaited victory played out to a loyal fanbase who’d been willing them on for years. “I was really happy how that [album] went and we capped it all Ben Gregory off at Shepherd’s
Our first record asked a lot of questions about how to feel OK when you’re growing up, but I feel like
this one has more answers.”
“I’ve always toyed with the idea of sanity and some of my
favourite writers, Allen Ginsberg and stuff, talk a lot about madness,” he continues. “Then I wrote a record that was kind of like that too, but I didn’t really expect it to happen to me. I thought I was just being playful with the imagery, but it ended up being a bit more true to what was actually going on in my brain. I guess some of the songs are a cry for help which is quite troubling upon reflection.”
t’s a distressing narrative and, sitting today in his management’s office, Ben accepts that he’s still not completely there yet in terms of his mental health. Since that winter, he’s returned to hospital for another stay, while currently he acknowledges that he’s still not in a good enough place to be able to tour right now. But he’s also rightly proud of the fact that, from the toughest of circumstances, he’s managed to make a record that he describes as “clearer, more succinct and more blunt” than ever before. “Our first record just asked a lot of questions about how to feel OK when you’re growing up. But then this one, I feel like it does have more answers,” he nods. “And it’s got more of a positive energy about it. I just didn’t have anything to hide and I wanted total clarity in what I was trying to say. Maybe it’s an arrogant thing to say, but I think for our fans who have been struggling, it will help them.”
I guess some of the songs are a cry for help, which is quite troubling upon reflection.” Ben Gregory
Recorded in 2018 with producer Catherine Marks [The Big Moon, The Amazons], the process was tough - “I had these songs that were all quite worrying, foreshadowing pieces about me getting ill and then [I’d have to] go back to the studio and sing them all really loudly,” he recalls - but the result is an album that overflows with relatable emotion. Musically, it’s still ambitious, a record with an innate sense of clever pop songwriting and a deceptive bounce beneath its thematic weight, but it’s also one that you sense will mean a lot to those who need it most. “There’s so much on our first album that’s obviously about struggling with stuff in your youth and people tend to connect with that. Fans write me letters and DM me on Twitter with crazy stories
about their mental health; we’re obviously a pretty important band to some people and that’s a pretty amazing feeling,” Ben smiles. “I found [recording] this album really, really hard, but I think it sounds fucking amazing. And I can hear in there how difficult it was, but I think regardless of circumstances it’s incredible, and especially given the circumstances it’s a massive achievement that I got that record made.” You’ll have noticed that it’s just Ben talking to us today without his bandmates; on Blaenavon’s recent album statement, it’s signed solely from the singer, too. “I think this album’s just so personal that, for now, it makes sense for just me to talk about it and then we’ll see what happens,” he says of the band’s future as a trio. “I wish I knew. We all made it together, but we don’t have any plans to do anything as a one or as a three. We’re just putting the album out, and then we’ll see. I think the next music will be Blaenavon stuff, but it just depends what that means any more.”
It’s an open-ended marker in a chapter for both Ben and Blaenavon that’s been more difficult to negotiate than anyone would have hoped. But today he’s happy in the fact that he’s made something real and meaningful, born from rough waters but addressing a part of life that can only get better when acknowledged head-on. It’s a point no more evident than in ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’’s closing title track. “It’s about having everything that everyone says should technically make you feel OK in your life, but you still don’t. It’s about how it’s OK to not feel OK, no matter what situation you’re in, and no matter how privileged or lucky you think you should feel,” he says. “I had six months where I’d wake up every day and just think, fuck, I can’t do it again. But it’s alright to feel like that, especially at this age. It happens a lot, and you can get through it.” ‘Everything is out
Makes You Happy’ via Transgressive. DIY
Green Day - American Idiot
A political but personal concept record that went on to become a Broadway musical, Green Day’s seventh album transformed both the group’s career and the musical landscape as a whole. Words: Sarah Jamieson.
t seems strange to think of any ‘90s punk band going on to release a record that would sell over 16 million copies worldwide, win them a handful of Grammys, and inspire a Broadway musical. Even stranger when you consider that the band in question’s biggest album pre-2000 was named ‘Dookie’, long before the poop emoji reigned supreme. But lo and behold, with ‘American Idiot’, Green Day managed it and, in the process, solidified themselves as one of modern rock’s greats. Landing back in September 2004 - at the height of George W Bush’s presidency and the start of the Iraq War - the record instantly injected a hefty burst of fiery political anger into both alternative and mainstream music. The near-iconic opening chords of its title track came inbuilt with a shot of adrenaline that seemed to have both sides of the Atlantic screaming back into life like Pulp Fiction’s Mia, while its lyrical gambit - “Welcome to a new kind of tension…” - would continue to ring just as true more than fifteen years on.
FACTS Released: 20th September 2004 Stand-out tracks: ‘American Idiot’, ‘Holiday’, ‘St Jimmy’ Tell your mates: During the Broadway run of the musical, Billie Joe performed the role of St Jimmy over 50 times before both Melissa Etheridge and AFI’s Davey Havok gave it a go!
But the trio’s seventh full-length wasn’t all about outrage. A concept album following the track’s own Jesus Of Suburbia, it also offered up an intricate narrative that saw the band dig deeper into the pervasive sense of internal disillusionment and disenfranchisement of the time. Mega-hit ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ sees loneliness and isolation come to the fore; ‘Give Me Novacaine’ flirts with the idea of overmedication and craving numbness, while ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ is a more personal affair, Billie Joe Armstrong drawing upon his own experiences of loss. Though ‘American Idiot’ would go on to transform Green Day’s career in every sense - the band selling out stadiums across the world to this day, with an HBO film adaptation rumoured to be in the works - it also represents a real moment in time. An ambitious, multi-faceted look at how Western society had begun, and continues, to unravel, it’s a record that still proves how personal the political is. DIY
YALA! O N TOU R 20 19 featuring
WEDnesday 4th december Glasgow Mcchuills Thursday 5th december Manchester YES Friday 6th december London Peckham Audio
HELLO GOOD MORNING EP OUT 15TH NOV
tickets: yalarecords.com @yalarecords
DIY’S PICK OF
JÄGER CURTAIN CALL
LADY BIRD Moth Club, London. Photo: Jamie MacMillan.
ince Lady Bird first crashed into view 18 months ago with an EP full of kind-spirited, high-octane punk nuggets, the buzz around the Kent trio has been tangible. It seems fitting that, playing London’s sparkly Moth Club for their sold-out biggest headline show to date, tonight’s set is as joyous a knees-up as you could hope. First up, however, are Brighton’s GURU, who might still be making their first steps outside of their hometown, but already come bearing the confidence of a band gagging to push things further. Then, having spent much of the year writing, the new tracks YOWL showcase today dip into more melodic waters than ever. With every new release, the group are proving themselves to be far more imaginative than just another moody London band. Though the rooms Lady Bird are playing are getting bigger, the band are
still just as lovably idiosyncratic as ever. Tearing through the likes of early single ‘Social Potions’ and live favourite ‘Shag Tally Tastic’, there are plenty of doses of careering punk to incite a good, old-fashioned thrash-along, but it’s when they go off piste that the most special moments occur. Midway through the set, singer Sam Cox leads a charge to the opposite end of the room so the band can play a track mic-less on the venue’s piano, guitarist Alex Deadman helping out on vocals as drummer Joe Walker bashes out a makeshift beat; later, the vocalist attempts to hand out a trophy he’s swiped from the dressing room. A new single comes preceded by a speech about how welcome the shift in public perceptions around mental health has become, while all three members spend the whole set sweating and visibly beaming. It’s a celebratory evening, and one made all the more heartwarming because of the endearing people involved. Next stop: album time. (Lisa Wright)
In desperate need of a live music fix but can’t decide where or who? If you feel too spoilt for choice, here’s just a few of LNSource’s upcoming shows worth getting off the sofa for.
Castle & Falcon, Birmingham, 20th November Following the release of second album ‘Devastation’, Isabel Muñoz-Newsome and gang play Birmingham as part of a full UK tour.
Heavy LUNGS Camden Assembly, 6th November Fresh from releasing new EP ‘Measure’, the Bristol-based punks hit up the capital as part of a UK tour this month.
CAUTIOUS CLAY Nationwide, from early November The Ohio native heads to the UK this month, following both this year’s ‘Table of Context’ EP and having been sampled on a track on Taylor Swift’s latest. Casual. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource
P R E S E N T S
H ALTSE! N L FI CKLEAB TAI VAI
CELEBRATING THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF TO LOSE MY LIFE
THURSDAY 05 DECEMBER 2019
T MANCHESTER SOLD OUACADEMY OUT LDDECEMBER SO06 FRIDAY
Tuesday 11 February 2020
Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion Wednesday 12 February 2020
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
E X T R A D AT E A D D E D D U E TO D E M A N D
SATURDAY 07 DECEMBER 2019
LONDON O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON A CROSSTOWN CONCERTS & SJM CONCERTS PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH X-RAY
Friday 14 February 2020
Manchester Albert Hall Saturday 15 February 2020
London Eventim Apollo explosionsinthesky.com
XE ERSARY DELU (10th ANNIV
NOW Y LIFE TO LOSE MIS AVAILABLE ON VINYL /TOLOSEMYLIFE10
A Crosstown Concerts & Friends presentation by arrangement with Free Trade Agency
NK.TO ITAL WHITELIES.L D DIG 2CD, 1LP AN HERE FROM PRE-ORDER ALSO AVAILABLE ON
THE CAT EMPIRE THURSDAY 12 MARCH
WITH LUCY LU
O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE SATURDAY 14 MARCH
SUNDAY 15 MARCH
CORN EXCHANGE TUESDAY 17 MARCH
BECKETT STUDENTS’ UNION WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH
UK 2020 THECATEMPIRE.COM/TOUR
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LINCOLN THE ENGINE SHED
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A CROSSTOWN CONCERTS & SJM CONCERTS PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH UNITED TALENT AGENCY
OXFORD O2 ACADEMY SATURDAY 14
THURSDAY 19 MARCH
LONDON ELECTRIC BRIXTON
A CROSSTOWN CONCERTS, SJM CONCERTS, FUTURESOUND EVENTS & DF CONCERTS PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH PRIMARY TALENT INTERNATIONAL
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THE 1975 - Frail State of Mind
SORRY - Right Round The Clock
After the explosive punk-leaning ‘People’, The 1975 show just why you should never place a bet on what they’re gonna do next. ‘Frail State of Mind’, the latest taste of their highly anticipated fourth album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’, is a soaring electronic number. Detailing feelings of social anxiety, there’s elements of ‘TOOTIME...’-esque pop throughout, delicately transformed with an ambient house twist. An example of how Matty and the lads don’t need to come out screaming to instantly hook you in, The 1975 are not done surprising us yet. (Elly Watson)
Since inking a deal with Domino, South Londoners Sorry have been drip-feeding releases at a rate that makes 'Chinese Democracy' seem fairly speedy. Now, however, they've finally announced a debut LP and dirty, slinking opening gambit 'Right Round The Clock' is enough to justify the wait. Riffing on 'Mad World' (“I'm feeling kinda crazy, I'm feeling kinda mad / The dreams in which I'm famous are the best I've ever had”), veering down unexpected, discomforting sonic corridors and culminating in a sleazy, brass-laden chorus, it's a gem - no apologies needed. (Lisa Wright)
MATT BERNINGER & PHOEBE BRIDGERS - Walking On A String News on The National’s resident sad boy Matt Berninger and Phoebe Bridgers’ collaborative efforts have got sad types worldwide weeping with joy. ‘Walking on A String’ is a cacophony of anxieties triggered by our most primal need to silence these thoughts. The duet offers a cathartic escape out of the intricate prison of human emotion and confusion through harmonies that vibrate through your entire body. However with a track this good, we beg for Matt and Phoebe to lock us up and throw away the key. (Kasimiira Kontio)
FRANK OCEAN DHL Woozy in distortion, ‘DHL’ arrives as the first release from Frank Ocean’s rumoured upcoming album. The heady number sees the singer lyricise sex, Kawasaki motorcycles and postal service DHL in an unassuming rap with a melody that seeps into your brain. Vocals warp and blur over introspective nuances sculpting a richly textured soundscape that eventually melts into a stripped-back serenade. It’s one of his most blase yet obscure tracks yet and intoxicates further on each repeat. It looks like we’re set for one of Frank’s most enthralling albums to date. (Sarah Thomas)
There’s got to be some cruel irony in ‘Patience’ having been the first track dropped from an as-yet-unannounced fourth album from Tame Impala: main man Kevin Parker himself said he’d be “very disappointed” if they’d not released it until the summer just gone. Oops. ‘It Might Be Time’, the third new song from the Aussies in 2019 continues largely where that and ‘Borderline’ left off, in that it sounds immediately like A Tame Impala Song. So far, so sonic whirlpool. But there’s evidence of something steelier here, whether in the stabbing ‘90s synth sounds, near-on sirens towards the final third of the song, or the lyrics: a doubting flip-side to ‘Losing My Edge’, almost. “I’m not as young as I used to be,” “I’m not as cool as I used to be,” our Kev laments. “All my friends are growing up and moving on / I must be missing something ‘cause I just wanna keep this dream alive.” Dream away, Kevin. (Emma Swann)
TAME IMPALA - It Might Be Time
FESTIVALS FIRST FIFTY This month sees The Great Escape once again kick off with its annual First Fifty series: a sneak peak into the new bands you should be paying attention to, before they make their way to Brighton next year. We’ll be taking over The Old Blue Last with some of our faves including headliners Do Nothing. So we grabbed ‘em for five mins to find out a bit more about what’s going on in their world. Interview: Elly Watson. Photo: Emma Swann. afterwards he’s out on bail and then Hey guys! Can you give us a brief history immediately starts scamming more people of Do Nothing? in really obvious ways. It’s so dumb to me! Chris [Bailey, frontman]: We met at school He starts emailing the people who bought and were playing music for a long time, but tickets and offers them things that aren’t Do Nothing is a new project of ours. It’s real, and one of them is dinner with LeBron definitely the most fun that we’ve had. James. It’s about those kinda fucks who do Andy [Harrison, drums]: Do Nothing is those things to people. basically us being in a groove and knowing What are your other exactly what we want to DIY @ First Fifty plans for this year? do, whereas our previous Thursday 14th November Andy: Playing in some stuff was just us chucking The Old Blue Last cool places in the UK everything at the wall and DO NOTHING and Ireland for the first nothing stuck. It’s only GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS time. We’re doing a really become the really THE COOL big hometown show consistent thing that it GREENHOUSE at Rescue Rooms in is now over the past 18 Nottingham which will months maybe. be really fun. Just trying Charlie [Howarth, bass]: to smash the tour as much as we can and It’s a really nice place to be in. get the single out and hope that people like it. What are you guys working on now? Chris: And write more tunes! Chris: We’ve got a single that’s coming out soon called ‘LeBron James’. It’s one Do Nothing play DIY’s First Fifty night. of the most fun ones to play in the set. Tickets are on sale now. DIY Did you watch that documentary about Fyre Festival? He scams everybody and
NEWS In Brief
Diana Ross is the first name confirmed for
(24th - 28th June) - she’ll play the famed Legends’ slot on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday afternoon. The first wave of acts has been revealed for SXSW (16th - 22nd March), with Beabadoobee, The Murder Capital, Dry Cleaning, and Black Country, New Road among those confirmed to appear. New artists have been added to ESNS (15th - 18th January) in the Netherlands, with Arlo Parks, Sinead O’Brien, Scalping and Silverbacks all Groningen-bound. Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes will play POHODA (9th - 11th July), as well as Open’er (1st - 4th July). Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift are the first names for Lisbon’s NOS ALIVE (9th - 11th July).
NEW BANDS NEW MUSIC
If you’re a buzzy, newly-emergthe boundaries of indie-pop and ing musician, there’s an rap. Words: Elly Watson. Photo: understandable temptation to Jenn Five. play it cool. Delete all your dodgy high school Facebook photos. Start dressing in purely Depop garms. Only listen to genres with hyphens in them (post-drill-wave, anyone?). For most, the idea is to create a slick Year Zero for yourself. “But we all had a Busted phase!” Master Peace laughs. “If you play ‘Year 3000’, you definitely know all the words!”
The South Londoner pushing
Growing up listening to the type of artists that most musos normally shun, the 20-year-old (real name Peace Okezie) is nevertheless as effortlessly cool as he is unashamedly fond of mid-’00s pop-punk chart-toppers. In fact, watching the likes of Charlie, Matt and James on TV was what originally made him want to get into music. “When you look at Busted or McFly and you see the main singers, you just wanted to be them innit?” he smiles. “Every girl wanted to be with them and every guy wanted to be them. When you look at it, it’s like, ‘Wow, they’re amazing!’. Even if the music was cheesy, you were still drawn to it.”
Morden-based artist was worried that people wouldn’t fully understand what he was trying to do. When his brother introduced him to rap, however, he saw that the kind of flair he was after wasn’t limited to guitar bands; although the music he was being shown wasn’t exactly what he wanted to make himself, he was pulled in by their energy. “I liked what they were doing with the flows. They may have had DJs, but it felt like a band setup,” he explains. “It’s this rock’n’roll kind of thing.” And so Master Peace began taking on the rap game, but in his own way. Never one to shy away from his own viewpoint, a quick YouTube search of his name pulls up videos from over the last year where he spits bars over a-ha’s ‘80s classic ‘Take On Me’ and incorporates nursery rhymes into his verses, much to the bewilderment of those in the comment section. On a particularly memorable BBC Radio 1Xtra session he sings ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ with the same biting conviction as any of rap’s heavyweights, and adamantly discusses the life issues that are often absent from big rap songs.
“Oasis wrote about how life can do you dirty but you’ve got to keep going. I can relate to that.”
Falling in love with pop and rock stars, and citing The 1975’s Matty Healy as his ultimate icon, Peace felt the urge to make the same kind of music. But at a time when the only black frontman of a band that he could relate to was Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, the
“If you look at Oasis, they wrote tunes about not having a good life sometimes and how life can really do you dirty but you’ve got to keep it going,” he muses. “I can relate to that. A lot of artists I can’t relate to because I don’t have the flashiest car or the flashiest clothes. The stuff they’re saying is sick and nice for now, but it’s not going to last forever. I want to write stuff that people can relate to, like Busted who wrote about girls they liked and teachers they fancied!” Successfully merging his love of bands and delivering real life stories with a lyrical flow, Master Peace’s official debut track ‘Night Time’ arrived in September as a refreshingly upbeat bop. A booty call anthem, it’s positioned him at the crossroads of rap, indie, pop and punk, and shown off the unique vision he has for his sound. Now with an EP on the horizon, he’s ready to spread his message of being unapologetically yourself to the rest of the world, and is well on the way to becoming the pop star he always wanted to be. “The EP is for everyone,” he beams. “It’s very sing-a-longy; it’s very catchy; it’s light-hearted, and it’s gonna be a very good introduction to me.” And his other aims for the future? “Glastonbury and a 1975 collab!” he laughs. “They’re the best band in the world. I’m their biggest fan. I love that band. Matty Healy, just shout me!” What you saying then, lads? DIY
ITALIA 90 The next generation of London’s punk scene, adding a fresh perspective to the mix. Words: Lisa Wright. Photo: Emma Swann.
Before Italia 90 there was only Les Miserable, J Dangerous, Bobby Portrait and Captain ACAB. The semi-piss-taking stage names of four childhood pals, dreamt up one evening in their shared flat, it would take years before the quartet fleshed out the concept they had and actually picked up some instruments. “We had the idea of the band years before the band existed; we used to have long chats about what we’d sound like, what we’d look like, bands we loved,” explains Les. “We never thought it would turn into something anyone would ever come and see,” adds J.
However, having relocated from their native Brighton to South London, now the quartet stand as the latest in a recent slew of punk bands from the area pricking up ears. Not only are people coming to watch the band, they’re undoubtedly liking what they see. Yet, though they’re regular players at oft-mentioned scene hub The Windmill, the close-knit, decades-old friendship of Italia 90’s members (all met between the ages of six and eleven) means there’s a lot more going on within the band
“Les’ Dad said that it looks like every member of Italia 90 belongs in a different decade.” - Captain ACAB
than just another group of angry young newcomers. “If you were starting a band from scratch and you were looking for people to join your band, you’d probably lean towards people that look like you or that listen to the same music as you. But it’s almost irrelevant for us because we’ve been friends for so long,” explains Bobby. “Your Dad said that it looks like every member of Italia 90 belongs in a different decade,” chuckles Captain ACAB (we’re sticking with these names...) to Les. A motley crew they may be, but it’s this unlikely mix that makes the group so intriguing. Les’ vocal style might be a no-nonsense speak-sing monotone, his lyrics focusing in on specific bones of contention from apologists of police brutality to the prosecution of soldiers in Northern Ireland (“Can’t you ever just write a song about your girlfriend?” jokes Bobby), but behind him the other three meld a lifetime of different listening habits, from electronic music to drone and more conventional punk, to create a strange, jagged backdrop for him to react against. “You can hear a lot of influences, that’s what a lot of people are picking up on,” nods Les. “But I feel like whatever we do it’ll always sound like Italia 90 once he starts shouting over the top,” grins J. “And I mean that in the best possible way...” DIY
C H A R L O T T E A D I G É R Y The
Are there really many new artists out there who possess enough potency and playfulness to don latex gloves, fill their gobs with cereal and make their own ASMR video? Probs not. But let’s be honest, there aren’t many new artists out there quite like Charlotte Adigéry. Propulsive, poetic and, at times, giddily poptastic, the BelgianCaribbean artist is as enigmatic as she is magnetic, showing that, sometimes, creativity really does know no bounds. Listen: Her latest EP ‘Zandoli’. Similar to: A vibrant hybrid of, well, almost everything.
Gloriously oddball with lashings of
A psych, pink.
Imagine a hybrid of Conan Mockasin, The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and the Pink Panther and you’ll land somewhere near Tiña’s (pronounced Teen-yah) most excellent frontman. Lanky and permanently sporting an appropriately-hued cowboy hat, po-faced seriousness is clearly not his vibe; instead, the four-piece’s playful woozy psych is like a trippy Brian Jonestown Massacre jam, had the band been less into fighting each other and more into getting high and watching The Magic Roundabout. Listen: Joyous single ‘I Feel Fine’ was given the Speedy Wunderground treatment earlier this year. Similar to: Musical magic mushrooms.
MEDICINE CABINET Dancefloor-baiting from
This Edinburgh outfit have been getting some of the hottest support slots in Scotland of late, having played alongside The Murder Capital, Just Mustard and compatriots Walt Disco in a matter of weeks. And it’s little surprise: the quintet’s new wave disco is as impeccably taut as it gets, weaving frontwoman Anna Reeves’ dextrous vocals - one minute she’s sporting a post-punk yelp, the next an unholy roar - around hooks aplenty and a floor-filling beat. Listen: You’ll have to catch ‘em live: supporting FEET in Glasgow on 8th November, Spector in Sheffield and York (5th, 6th). Similar to: If CBGBs and Studio 54’s offspring had made its home in industrial ‘70s Britain.
RECOMMENDED DRUG STORE ROMEOS Childhood making
Upon first listen to the shimmering, ethereal debut of Drug Store Romeos, it’s hard to imagine that the trio first met thanks to a welltimed note on a school notice board, but it’s true nonetheless. Now, newly-signed to Fiction and having honed their otherworldly identity away from the hustle and bustle of the capital, they’re making their first moves into the public eye and proving themselves as something special indeed. Listen: The band’s debut ‘Now You’re Moving’. Similar to: The sound of an eerie but strangely comforting 3am walk through the countryside.
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
Hana Vu may still be unable to legally drink in her home state, but she’s already nailed quite a few life goals... Released her first EP while finishing up high school? Check. Collaborated with Willow Smith? Yep. Played shows alongside the likes of Soccer Mommy, Phantogram and Nilüfer Yanya? You betcha. And things are only gonna get bigger for her, if her gorgeous new EP - an excellently-titled range of rich bedroom pop - is anything to go by. Listen: ‘Nicole Kidman / Anne Hathaway’. Similar to: A dreamy session of binge-watching your favourite rom coms.
Every week on Spotify, we update DIY’s Neu Discoveries playlist with the buzziest, freshest faces. Here’s our pick of the best new tracks:
IT’S A(NOTHER) DIRTY HIT! Two years on from the first Dirty Hit tour, they’re at it again: next month newbies Beabadoobee, No Rome and Oscar Lang will be wowing the crowds across the country, culminating in a special show at London’s Dome. Things kick off in Cambridge on 26th November.
GIA FORD ‘Girl’ Spearheaded by her ethereal vocals, Gia Ford’s newest offering is a slow-burning sizzler, with pulsating 80s-esque beats and mesmerising pop tones. BIIG PIIG ‘Roses and Gold’ A neo-soul number which explores our “obsession with the unattainable” (and sung in both English and Spanish), ‘Roses and Gold’ is a warmly intimate song driven by Jess’ hazy vocals, and an exciting glimpse into the new EP she’s currently working on.
To The Dry Cleaners With their EP ‘Boundary Snacks and Drinks’ now out in the open, London post-punks Dry Cleaning have also announced a 2020 UK headline tour. Check out the full dates on diymag.com now.
Alfie Templeman ‘Used To Love’ Already with two EPs under his belt, the rising songwriter is back with a new bop: a smooth laid-back track, blending Alfie’s hip-hop and indie influences, it’s yet more proof of why he’s considered as one of indie’s shiniest new stars. TALK SHOW ‘Ankle Deep (In A Warm Glass of Water)’
All Apologies Londoners Sorry have - finally! announced details of their debut album. ‘925’ will be released next Spring, and will feature brand new track ‘Right Around The Clock’. They’re also heading on the road this month, beginning in Bristol on 13th November. Find full details on diymag.com.
After bursting out with their raucous post-punk debut ‘Fast & Loud’ earlier this year, Talk Show are once again proving why you shouldn’t be sleeping on them. The quartet’s offering sees them combine their biting post-punk stylings with Western influences and romantic introspection. Not too shabby.
NEU/LIVE DIY X JACK DANIEL’S PRESENTS
MUST-SEE SHOWS Like being the first to see the next big thing? Get ready to brag to your mates about watching this lot before they go big, sell out, and spectacularly break up.
After triumphing as winners of this year’s Sound of Summer, Oxford newcomers Lacuna Common hit the road on the DIY x Jack Daniel’s Presents tour. We took the show on the road for three buzzy nights - here’s how it all went down. Photo: Emma Swann.
The discerning ears and eyes of label bods YALA! have announced their first ever UK tour - taking hot newcomers Chinatown Slalom, St Martiins and Jacob Slater on the road in Glasgow, Manchester and London this December. Get the full lowdown on diymag.com.
ver the summer, we teamed up with Jack Daniel’s to find their Sound of Summer - a band who’d go on to support Biffy Clyro at their massive-but-intimate Birmingham show (see p76 for more on that) - as well as play a mini-tour across the UK. A sort of Hunger Games for bands, only with more amps and less brutal murder, the winners were Oxford quartet Lacuna Common. Glasgow’s iconic King Tut’s sees them sandwiched between buzzy newcomers Medicine Cabinet (see p30) and Crystal, whose capacity crowd witnesses a bittersweet show: it’s both the last time they’d be playing a handful of songs, and bassist Lizzie Reid’s final gig. It’s Lacuna Common’s first time in the city, and even as frontman Alfie Franks awkwardly introduces ‘English Weather’ expecting a barrage of abuse (there isn’t more than a smirk, as it happens) and drops his mic, the venue’s hallowed walls welcome the Oxford quartet’s future bangers with open arms. Cut to Liverpool, and local lads Denio are first up at Jimmy’s, flaunting the
kind of dappled guitar work that suggests they’ve probably listened to a bit of Bombay Bicycle Club in their time. Lacuna Common by comparison sound gloriously gritty, the venue’s dark underground walls encasing the propulsive, buoyant riffs of ‘Lack of Knowledge’ and turning the venue into a raucous indie party. And if local heroes Trudy and the Romance trade in far sweeter stylings, the self-proclaimed ‘original doo-wop spacemen’ are still a live force to be reckoned with. It falls to legendary boozer The Hawley Arms to host the final leg of the week’s run. And really, what better way to begin a weekend than with a 6ft-something man in pink shorts and a cowboy hat? That would be openers Tiña (see p30). Suitably warmed up and with two stormers under their belt, Lacuna Common make it a hat trick, the crowd making way for singer Alfie as he goes for a mid-set walk through the throng - a move that’s repeated by Les Miserable, the skinhead singer of the night’s headliners, Italia 90 (see p28 for more from them). DIY
As featured in these very pages back in September, the Mexican-American funk-popster is this side of the Atlantic later this month for dates in Manchester (22nd), Leeds (23rd), Bristol (25th), Brighton (26th) and London (27th).
Granted, if you’ve not already picked up tickets there’s probably a queue ‘round the block for any last-minute returns as we type. The buzzy Dubliners play Manchester on 9th December, before London’s Garage the following night.
SORCHA RICHARDSON Returning to her native Dublin after cutting her teeth in New York, this Irish signer-songwriter’s music values transcience, change and freedom. Words: Will Richards.
“I’m bad at commitment, I don’t like being tied down!”
When Sorcha Richardson returned to Dublin in 2017 after living in New York for eight years, it wasn’t so much a case of coming home as discovering an entirely new city. Leaving the Irish capital at 18, the singer made her first musical steps in Brooklyn, and wrote one of the most underrated songs of 2016 in the resigned lo-fi rumble of ‘Ruin Your Night’. But, following an adolescence spent abroad, it was only when certain pieces began to move in her life, taking her back to her birthplace, that her recently-released debut full-length ‘First Prize Bravery’ started to come together. “I feel the same way about Dublin now that I did about New York when I moved there first,” she considers today. “[There’s] so much of it to rediscover”.
It’s a sentiment fuelled by a renewed sense of pride and honour in her heritage, one felt strongly in the Dublin musical community. With an influx of fresh, exciting bands and artists operating in the capital right now (Saint Sister and Fontaines DC are noted as two of Sorcha’s particular faves), there’s a lot to be proud of. But ‘First Prize Bravery’ is still fuelled by spontaneity and uncertainty. It results in songs that are fresh, breezy and malleable, informed by a life of to-ing and fro-ing. “I like having [Dublin] as a place to return to,” she says, “[but] I’m bad at commitment. I don’t like being tied down! “The album is about change,” she continues. “And also hope and disappointment. There’s a lot of songs about coming and going, and the transient moments that come with splitting your life between two places. It feels like you’re always saying goodbye to someone.” However, despite the difficulties that the fleeting nature of her life has sometimes afforded her, there’s also a freedom that’s reflected in the singer’s intimate pop. ‘Honey’, the album’s first track, was recorded on the upright piano that’s sat in her parents’ home since she was a child, and the album travels from those humble origins to the fully-formed crunchiness of bop ‘Don’t Talk About It’. Collating her experiences into a rich and unique viewpoint, sometimes a bit of everything isn’t a bad path to choose. DIY
SINCE THE RELEASE OF GAMECHANGING THIRD LP ‘A BRIEF INQUIRY INTO ONLINE RELATIONSHIPS’, THE 1975 HAVE GROWN FROM A BAND INTO A CULTURAL PHENOMENON. IN THE MIDDLE OF CRAFTING ITS FOLLOW-UP, WE JOIN MATTY HEALY IN THE EYE OF THE STORM: READY, WILLING AND ABLE TO CLAIM HIS PLACE AS A MODERN ICON. WORDS: LISA WRIGHT. PHOTOS: JORDAN CURTIS HUGHES.
it's got this life of its own and people are adopting it. It feels like it's bigger than me, way bigger.”
t's Friday 20th September and, across the world, hundreds of thousands of people are uniting in a global protest against the current climate emergency. The latest action stemming from the School Strike for Climate movement, led by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, it's a huge, positive coming together of humanity - an exercise in the power of community and the best kind of resistance. Standing among it all feels weighty; it feels like something is happening.
There's the tangible sense that, if this moment in history is one of 'those times', the ones that get remembered, then The 1975 are the band soundtracking it the most acutely. The gears audibly shifted with the release of the cut-and-paste, sociopolitical panic attack of 'Love It If We Made It' last year, a song so undeniably on-the-money that even former detractors Pitchfork named it their Track of the Year (“Dude, if I was 23 and I'd got Pitchfork Track of the Year, I would have turned into a dickhead, so it's good that it rolls off me now...” the singer snorts). Since then, a catalogue of seeminglyendless bullet points have taken the band everfurther into unchartered waters. There's the career bookmarks, from Number One albums to this summer's Reading & Leeds Festival headline, and gushing accolades - Ivor Novello's Songwriters of the Year; the BRITs' Best British Group and Best Album etc etc - so many, in fact, that 'Nominations and awards received by The 1975' requires its own Wikipedia page.
In Melbourne, The 1975 are at the end of a sixmonth, near-constant run of gigs that's seen them traverse the globe, packing out venues at every stop. Later that night, they'll headline the city's Margaret Court Arena to nearhysterical screams; the show is long-since sold out, as is every show they play these days. But more than just inciting pop star mania, there's been a shift over the last 12 months in what the band have come to represent. It's no more evident than among the mobilised masses in Treasury Gardens earlier that afternoon. “I stood at that protest for an hour This year, The 1975 headlined and I saw, in Melbourne, Reading & Leeds for the first time, where I'm not from, ten thus fulfilling a long-held childhood 1975 signs and fifty 1975 dream. Here’s how it went down. shirts and it was almost like it's all part of [the same The build up and the anticipation thing],” says frontman knocked me ill. The morning of it, I Matty Healy the next day. had insane migraines and I couldn’t “It feels like a moment in eat and I was wigging out; I never youth culture. You know build things up to the point when that time? Remember 'that they physically manifest, but I had done. I think there was a fear that I time'? It feels like one of wasn’t going to be able to embody them. I've got a real 'that the 16-year-old who had crowdsurfed time' feeling about this, onto the stage and just turned around with the climate strikes and and started playing. That’s who I Greta getting so insanely wanted to be in that moment, and influential on a global scale there were moments where it felt and that song [the band's like that. And Leeds was even more recent self-titled single, emotionally evocative because I featuring an impassioned remember that site. Reading & Leeds speech by the young was my cultural university; it was like activist] being adopted by Christmas for me. And there’s not Greenpeace. I don't feel many bands I’ve seen graduate from like I have control over it; that field to headlining it, so that was
ONE BIG WEEKEND
But more than that, it's been the cultural moments that have really changed the game. As well as being taken on by Greenpeace, the words from the latest incarnation of their ever-present self-titled album opener were projected onto the UN building. At a recent show in Dubai, Matty made the news for consensually kissing a boy in the crowd in violation of the country's still-homophobic laws. The group's recent eco-conscious efforts (they have, among other things, starting selling recycled merch and made an effort to reduce packaging on anything bought from their store), meanwhile, have led to sneering o n l i n e letters from right-wing politicians. Throughout it all, the singer has remained one of the most impassioned, eloquent and uncompromising voices out there,
KILL MYSELF, TOUCH MYSELF, EAT SOMETHING, MISS SOMEONE, WHATEVER. THAT’S THE ONLY SHIT WE’VE GOT.” MATTY HEALY
‘New notification: You have been outbid on your item from @grandmascloset’.
taking every chance available to speak out and step up. “I think it's part of my new ethos. Like, fuck it, I'd rather take up the same position in culture that other proper pop stars do and be myself fully, flawed and all, at the risk of getting cancelled than I would buy into a culture that I don't agree with,” he says. “I'm not a misogynist, I'm not a racist, I'm not any of the -ists, and I know that. So I refuse to live my life in fear that I'm going to be falsely exposed for being one of those things. I'd rather make a mistake and then say sorry for it, or make a mistake and not say sorry for it and be like, you know why I didn't say sorry? Because I was pissed off.” It's a headline-grabbing attitude made all the more notable by the sheer lack of competition. If it feels like Matty is the new go-to musician for quotable bon mots - a kind of woke Liam Gallagher with a spliff and a library card - then it says more about The 1975's increasingly singular place in popular culture than it does about the frontman himself. They're a massive band working largely outside of the major label machine; a group with the top level visibility of pop's elite but the ethos of a bunch of indie kids. “Of course I seem problematic and extreme because you put me next to [most famous pop artists] and my ideas and my outward projections are not being met with ANY outward projection. They don't even talk about themselves, you know?!” he says. “I come from punk and hardcore, and I come from 'music has a meaning', and 'music can change the world'. And if it can't change The World it can change this fucking world, so let's create our own reality. I don't come
from wherever those pop stars come from, which in some cases is X Factor or telly or whatever. So there's this inherent desire to express who I am and that will bleed into a performance where it wouldn't bleed into another pop star's performance. I'm like Dennis Waterman: 'I write the theme tune, I sing the theme tune...'” he jokes. “If you're in One Direction and you've got 20,000 people singing your songs, but you're singing with six other people and the lyrics were written by a load of 40-year-olds from North London, then you can enjoy it and be emotionally engaged to a certain extent. But imagine what it's like when I do it? It's mad.”
here are a lot of things in Matty Healy's life right now that you could accurately sum up as 'mad', but what strikes you most about the 31-year-old is that, under the verbose statements and weighty proclamations, he's an exceedingly, almost bizarrely down-to-earth guy. When we rejoin the singer at their Oxfordshire studio a few weeks later, he's wearing the charityshop floral skirt that he's recently taken to sporting, toking on a customary joint and moaning that he's aching from a recent effort to get back into martial arts (the trick, he tells us while putting the kettle on, is to destabilise your enemy by poking them in the eye). He doesn't really drink and, after his admission last year that he'd been to rehab for a period of heroin use, is now clean and healthy. “The thing is, I had toured, lived, experienced things
without drugs before - I just preferred it with it...” he shrugs with a knowing grin now. “So it's more of an 'Oh', than a 'What do I do?'. I know what I do. I don't do the drugs. And that's the hard thing. Like, giving up smoking is so hard because you actually have to stop smoking. But that's just part of growing up or whatever. You've just gotta grow up a little bit.” The same innate restlessness and desire to “change the way I feel in the moment” that led him to experiment with hard drugs, he explains, is why he finds himself constantly propelling himself forward creatively, in search of new thrills and unable to sit still. It's a distinctly less problematic way of dealing with his urges, but it still sounds exhausting. “I'd love to switch it all off. I'd love to be able to be like, ahhhh,” he exhales, “have a mind bath. Have a bath in the old brain where it stops and I'm not...” He pauses for a second and changes tack. “I think it's because I really do have this sense of purpose. Not in a Morrissey or a Mother Teresa way, not on either of those spectrums or because my ego needs it. But because I feel like it is who I am, so if I'm not being 'that' then I'm not quite fulfilled.” When The 1975 announced at the start of the campaign for 'A Brief Inquiry...' that the record would be the first of two released in quick succession, the pair making up a two-part 'Music For Cars' era, it seemed like a borderlinesenseless task for a band nearconstantly on the road. But through a patchwork, magpie-like approach to creation and a probably quite unhealthy work ethic, they've made it happen. “I've been getting up in the morning and my day job is trying to make a record, and my night shift is playing a huge international rock show stadium tour,” Matty chuckles. Now finally back on home turf for a solid month to put the pieces together, follow-up 'Notes On A Conditional Form' is in the latter stages of completion. Today, we're here to get a preview. “Every record so far
OF COURSE I SEEM PROBLEMATIC AND EXTREME BECAUSE YOU PUT ME NEXT TO [MOST POP STARS] AND MY IDEAS AND OUTWARD PROJECTIONS ARE NOT BEING MET WITH ANYTHING.” MATTY HEALY
COMFORT THE AFFLICTED AND, IF GIVEN THE CHANCE, AFFLICT THE COMFORTABLE: THAT'S MY JOB.” - MATTY HEALY
has been a distillation of the one that preceded it, in the sense that the poppier bits get poppier, the good bits get good-er, the good songwriting becomes more classic or the experimentation becomes more astute,” Matty explains. “This one is different. It has lots of different songwriting on it to what I've done before; we keep looking to each other and being like, 'Can we really make a record like this that isn't a follow up to anything?' “Imagine The 1975 jamming,” he continues, “you can't really, right? But imagine our idea of jamming which is having loads of books and visual references, and a computer and a conversation, and mixing this and saying 'That's fucking dope' - that's kind of what 'Notes...' is.” If the singer was quoted as sort-of-jokingly describing 'A Brief Enquiry...' as The 1975's 'OK Computer', then its successor, he suggests, is “maybe our 'Amnesiac'” - an even stranger, more eclectic beast. You'll know the record's opening gambit by now, the sonically bipolar but similarly state-of-thenation one-two punch of 'The 1975' and balls-out DFA-esque slammer 'People'. Recently-released single 'Frail State of Mind', meanwhile, showcased a completely different side, taking glitchy cues from house music and “going inwards instead of outwards”. “It's about the constant apologising to yourself or feeling the need to apologise to others because you're not on the same vibe. The constant
From Stage to Screen Not content with writing another massive album, Matty’s also been writing a film script in his downtime. Over to you, Matthew. It’s a film called German that I’ve been writing for ages that’s sort of like a British teen movie. It’s about a German trip I went on in Year 10, where we all kind of learnt something. One person got a heart, one got a brain, one got a bit of courage, there was an emotional moment. I was like, this sounds a bit like a film... wait, hold on, this sounds like The Wizard of Oz. So maybe that’ll happen at some point. Just checking… yep, still smokin’.
fear that people don't like you as much because you don't wanna get fucked up or whatever, combined with the wish that you did want to do that,” he explains. But they're just the starting blocks of the record's planned 22 tracks. There's 'The Birthday Party', a tender confessional written ahead of their 2019 tour marathon that finds the singer addressing his recent substance struggles. “The first line is “Hello, there's a place I've been going / Now I'm clean it would seem / Let's go somewhere I'll be seen / As sad as it seems”. “There are loads of references to the honest fact that if I wasn't in a band and I didn't have people stopping me in order for me to - how do Americans say it - get the strength to then do it myself, then yeah, I'd be fucked,” admits Matty. 'Then Because She Goes', meanwhile, pairs fuzzy Pavement-recalling guitars with hyper-produced, polished vocals, while 'Something You Should Know' continues down the house-influenced path of 'Frail...'. Elsewhere, things get brilliantly weird. There's one song that's centred around a Shabba Ranks sample (he of 'Mr. Loverman' fame), another that riffs on The Temptations' 'Just My Imagination', and the sureto-piss-off-thesquares 'It's More That I'm Bored Than I Actually Want To Kill Myself (Or Something)'. “It's that idea of being hyperbored. Like, oh I'll just kill myself or fucking wank or eat something or text someone I shouldn't,” Matty explains. “And it's using that term in the way that we use it now, so if it's a bit like 'Why's he saying that?',
well we say that shit all the time. Oh, I'll fucking kill myself if she does that: putting it in the same bracket as eating something or texting someone. Kill myself, touch myself, eat something, miss someone, whatever. That's the only shit we've got.” Most likely to incite inevitable scribbled swooning diary entries, meanwhile, is a purposefully wide-eyed sugary headrush of a track, originally written for the soundtrack of a film Matty's been writing called German [see the sidebar opposite for more info on that one]. “It's kind of me as a teenager; it's about idealism in relationships and trying to capture what I thought about Amy Watson or Chelsea Pollard,” he muses. “And there are funny lines in it. When I write about relationships, I find it quite hard to be soppy so my sincerity comes from gags. 'I had a dream where we had kids / You would cook, I'd do the nappies / We went to Winter Wonderland/ It was shit but we were happy'. Which is my way of saying I actually love you quite a lot.” Puffing on a string of cigarettes, eagerly pressing play on clips of unfinished tracks to emphasise his points and theorising about the similarities between his love of country music and pop punk (“Pop punk music: 'I'm gonna live and die in this town', sad face. Country music: 'I'm gonna live and die in this town', happy face. It's the same vibe; emo and country are just with a smile or not”), Matty is clearly in his element when he's right in the scrum of it, putting together the pieces of The 1975's latest puzzle and knitting his considerable
pool of influences into an inimitable whole. He's in an enviable position where now, the deeper he gets into the band's particular mix of high and low, populist and esoteric, the deeper his fans fall. “Whenever I write something where I think I'm being impenetrable, that's the thing that people get a tattoo of, or that's the thing that makes us the biggest. The more specific I get, the more inward I get, the more people go, 'Yeah, that's what I'm like',” explains the singer. “I think people just want truth, so I won't pretend, and I won't try to do anything that isn't real. Comfort the afflicted and, if given the chance, afflict the comfortable: that's my job.” It's a perfect storm of time, place and personality that's elevated Matty and his cohorts to a place where, now, The 1975 stand as more than just a band. They're at the top of music's ladder (their recently-announced 20,000-capacity O2 show sold out in less than five minutes), but their ethos and influence is starting to permeate wider than just the leftleaning arts sphere. “That's when I get really excited, when you see that you're having an effect outside of the people that are coming to your shows,” he nods. “Back in the day, I really wanted to imagine The 1975 as a brand instead of a band. And I think that ethos has got to an extreme now, where things feel inherently 1975-y without being The 1975 and I love that.” Is there an end goal? Something that he wants it to have all been for, we ask? Matty breaks his torrent of fast-paced chat and properly stops for the first time. “I want it to expand the culture - that's all I've ever really wanted to do,” he says slowly. “Be cowboys not farmers, you know? Cowboys. We just went off. We didn't stay and pasteurise and make sure that our bit is all nicely trimmed and organised; we just went off and found new places and hung out there.” Saddle in for
up then, one hell
world. We're of a ride.
'Notes On A Conditional Form' is out 21st February via Dirty Hit. DIY
2019: the year that albums went double, pop stars got woke and Billie Eilish ruled the world. The year that Glastonbury returned (hooray!), The 1975 went stratospheric and we all took our horses down the Old Town Road. A great year, you could say, to categorise in a handy alphabetised format. Well, as luck would have it, we’ve done just that. Once more from the top...
Possibly one of the year’s greatest memes, Alex from Glasto found himself the ultimate viral sensation this summer after he was pulled up to perform ‘Thiago Silva’ alongside Dave at Glastonbury. As you’ll know by now: he smashed it. We caught up with the man himself to find out how it felt. Hey Alex! Was it always the plan to try and get on stage with Dave? No, not at all! I did know Dave brings people up a lot, but I thought as Glastonbury is so huge he wouldn’t bother. Dave asked, “Who is sober enough to sing these lyrics with me?” when trying to find someone to join him on stage, and you obviously volunteered. Just between us, how true was that claim? Opposite to what everyone seems to think, I was completely sober.
What was it like getting on stage and seeing all those people watching you? It felt amazing! Everyone in the crowd was shouting my name and the adrenaline running through me just made me feel insane. The only thing that was going through my head repeatedly was, “Don’t mess up!”. How’s it been navigating your new-found fame as #AlexFromGlasto? It’s obviously been a hard thing to get a grasp of as it’s all been so sudden, but I’ve started to ease into it while trying to balance college and making the most of it all at the same time. The maddest thing was probably meeting Thiago Silva the footballer himself. What would be your top tips for getting chosen? Just make sure you do whatever you can to get noticed and get as close as you can to the front row.
An annual, week-long summit of hedonism and high jinx in the scorching hot Nevada Desert, Burning Man is the kind of place that makes Glastonbury look like a wholesome jaunt to a Peppa Pig sing-along. Real-world currency is scorned, radical artistic and social expression is encouraged and free love reigns supreme: a concept that ya boy Flume took rather literally at this year’s get-together. “Does Flume even eat ass?” read a sign in the crowd during his set. Yes, was the answer. Yes, he does. And, oh look, here’s his girlfriend to... oh wow, OK that’s, yep that’s happening. Flume: putting the ‘butt’ into rebuttal since 2k19.
From Justin Bieber to Lana Del Rey, YouTube has been making seemingly-overnight stars out of musicians for years now. But when the world universally decides to click ‘like’ on the same video, it still has the power to send the chosen one’s career beaming up to the big time. That’s what happened to then-19-yearold Claire Cotterill, aka Clairo, when she uploaded a super lo-fi bedroom recording of her track ‘Pretty Girl’ to the platform back in 2017; filmed on a webcam, and featuring the Massachusetts singer goofing about with different props, it immediately caught the web’s attention
THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
and has since racked up over 40 million views to date. Yet, rather than a mere one hit wonder, the track kick-started a trajectory that feels like it’s only truly just beginning. This year, Clairo released debut LP ‘Immunity’ - an intimate collection that hinted at a patchwork of influences and a wealth of possibility in front of her. This month, meanwhile, she plays Camp Flog Gnaw at the personal request of Tyler, the Creator, while next month she’ll head to the UK for a full tour. Clairo might already be a viral sensation, but keep your eyes peeled: it won’t be long until she’s just as massive IRL.
THE MUSICAL TREND NO ONE KNEW THEY WANTED When The 1975 released ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ at the back end of 2018, after revealing that what they’d previously decided would be one album called ‘Music For Cars’ was instead the first of a two-half ‘era’, little did they know they’d be just one of many acts opting to do pretty much the same. Not unlike the concept record, double albums have, until now, often been the domain of the boorish, a luxury reserved for the self-indulgent artist refusing to ‘edit’ themselves to the standard 45-minute runtime (a length set by the physical limits of a 12” record, fact fans). Yet, in 2019, they’ve become so regular that it’s almost a surprise when an act announces an unembellished 13-track release. As well as Matty and pals, whose ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ is set to feature a hefty 22-strong track listing (er, *cough*?), Foals ushered in the stellar ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1’ back in March, with its flip-side having followed last month. Marina (previously of ‘…and the Diamonds’ fame) split her fourth into thematic sides of ‘Love’ and ‘Fear’. Even newbies The Ninth Wave divided up their debut into halves; ‘Infancy Pt I’ was released in May, while its second half comes this month. And as we write, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have just given us a two-part record, ‘Ghosteen’. Brevity, it seems, has not been on 2019’s radar.
THE MOMENTOUS RISE OF QUEEN BILLIE When Billie Eilish was booked for Reading & Leeds this summer, she was originally slated for a mid-afternoon BBC Radio 1 Stage spot. Come the August Bank Holiday weekend, she played on the Main Stage to what was easily one of the festival’s biggest ever crowds, circle pits stretching far beyond the back screens, a pop show more punk than most rock acts across the festival’s three days. March’s debut ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’, meanwhile, caught the world’s imagination like no other record this year; full of #relatable lyrics and brother Finneas’ mind-blowing production, it veered from gnarly industrial to a whisper and back again like nothing before. It might’ve taken until August for omnipresent single ‘bad guy’ to oust ‘Old Town Road’ from the US Billboard top spot, but the track had long since climbed to the top of 2019’s pop canon.
Some bands travel in their own separate tour buses; Fontaines request their own diner tables.
“We ended up in a reality that we never really imagined we could achieve.” - Carlos O’Connell 44 DIYMAG.COM
The Better and Better Land Since the release of debut LP ‘Dogrel’, Fontaines DC have been on an unstoppable upwards trajectory. As they prepare to close out 2019 with a long-sold-out headline tour, we check in with the breakthrough band of the year. Words: Joe Goggins. Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
arlos O’Connell is reflecting on September’s Mercury Prize. Fontaines DC were relatively unfancied by the bookies, clocking in odds of 7/1 on the day of the announcement, and yet there was still a sense of unfulfillment when Dave’s ‘Psychodrama’ beat the Irish outfit’s debut ‘Dogrel’ to the trophy. “We didn’t think it was a big deal when the shortlisting
came in, but it felt like a big deal by the time the ceremony came around,” the guitarist reflects. “It was definitely a bit of a School of Rock moment. All this build-up, you play this huge battle of the bands, and then somebody else wins. It was like there wasn’t enough of a release of adrenaline. It left me feeling like I didn’t quite know what to do with myself for a few days.” Minutes earlier, Carlos had been talking about how awards don’t mean a great deal to either himself or his four bandmates. Yet if he sounds confused on the topic, you can forgive him for it; 2019 has been such a whirlwind year for Fontaines that it’d be more surprising if they had figured out what they thought of it all yet. We’ve caught the guitarist in Los Angeles, on the eve of the first recording session for the follow-up to ‘Dogrel’. And despite the fact that they’ve just taken a well-deserved holiday in Mexico (“We spread out, tried to spend some time alone, and ended up bumping into each other anyway”), the band are apparently no closer to having their runaway success sink in. “It’s taken a little bit of time for us to get a handle on,” he continues. “I feel like I’m just now starting to appreciate how great the European tour we did in January was. It was just the five of us in a splitter van, no crew whatsoever, driving across the continent in the middle of winter. Everything was a bit of a disaster, but we learned to accept that and enjoy it. I look back on that now, and there’s no stress in my memory - just really special times with my best friends.”
rooms of that size - we were asking ourselves, “Is this stupid? Is this way too big?” And now, we’ve already got Brixton to look forward to, which is intense.”
t’s maybe the measure of the band that, despite achieving commercial success and ubiquitous critical praise, it’s the hard graft that really gives them pleasure. “We were working our balls off around the time that the album came out. It was two gigs a day, running around doing instores, just doing anything and everything to promote it and everything being a little bit overwhelming,” says Carlos. “At the end of that week, when it had gone Top Ten in the UK and top five in Ireland, we’d sort of ended up in a reality that we never really imagined we could achieve. Getting there was really difficult, but the reward is that you feel a little bit of validation for the music, when you realise how many people want to hear it.” Part of the reason for ‘Dogrel’’s appeal - at least in the eyes of the commentators - is that it seems to speak to the times we’re living in; working class rage, the decline of community, and small-town frustration were all themes that observers were quick to pick up on. Yet Carlos still isn’t sure how accurate a portrayal that is. “While we were making it, I always thought of the album as being less political and more personal,” he suggests. “I think that it talks about feelings that are maybe suppressed by the world we live in - of stunted ambitions, and of feeling stuck in a certain place. I don’t think those are exclusive to Ireland or the UK, because we’ve been to Russia and America and had crowds singing those words back at us. No matter what the political context, in the capitalist world, there’ll always be a part of society that can identify with that. That’s why bands like IDLES are doing well wherever they go, too.”
“When you’re always moving, you find that the mindset becomes more introspective.” Carlos O’Connell
That run of shows kicked off a breakneck year that’s seen the Dubliners meet with success at every turn. Preceding the Mercury nod were across-the-board rave reviews for their debut - an incendiary offering that married, with uncommon poise, an uncompromising post-punk aesthetic with a thoughtful, articulate thematic approach. Next month’s tour of the UK and Ireland, which takes in Kentish Town’s 2,300-capacity Forum and two huge hometown shows at Vicar Street, is long since sold out. There might be no greater signifier of how thick and fast the highs have come, meanwhile, than the fact that not only have they packed out the Forum on their first album, they’ve already sold out their first headline appearance at Brixton Academy next February. “Everything seems to be a step ahead of us, and we’re chasing behind it,” nods the guitarist. “The whole thing has been hard to process. We put the November tour on sale at the start of the year, and we were all shitting a brick about it. We felt it was a very bold move to be aiming for
As for Fontaines, a quickfire follow-up is slated for 2020; written almost entirely between festival slots over the past summer, the as-yet-unnamed album will be in the can by the time they leave LA for Europe, and promises to showcase a different side of the band. “Part of the reason for wanting to make it out here was because it was so inspired by The Beach Boys. We liked the idea of doing it close to the sea,” he hints. With ‘Dogrel’ so imbued with a sense of dismay at Dublin’s limitations, its successor was always going to have a very different feel. “When you’re always moving, when you’re never in the same place or time zone for very long, you find that the mindset becomes more introspective,” he offers of their changing outlook. “You go through a lot of feelings, and on the album that means you go through a lot of different sounds. [But] at the end of the day, if we wrote it, then it’s a Fontaines DC song. There’s no classification.” Still, with some of the new cuts shaping up as “a lot more intimate”, Carlos’ mind is already wandering as to where there might be left to go after Brixton. “I mean, can you imagine seeing Sex Pistols in an arena? It just wouldn’t work,” he laughs. “We want things to get bigger all the time, but you need to think about what suits the music as well. We’ve got songs that would play great to 10,000 people, and others that would get lost in that environment. For now, the venues getting bigger means the shows become louder. That suits us down to the ground.” ‘Dogrel’ is out now via Partisan. diy
RETA THUNBERG THE ACCIDENTAL ROCKSTAR In case you need a slight refresher, Greta Thunberg is a fucking badass. Not content with inspiring a global movement, dubbed ‘The Greta Effect’, thanks to the work she’s doing to combat climate change, and being tipped to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the 16-year-old Swedish activist has also been inadvertently racking up the music credits throughout 2019, too. Earlier this year, The 1975 pied off singing about BJs in the first track from their brand new album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ in favour of getting Greta to deliver an impassioned speech about the global climate emergency. Still not enough? How about when she gave a no-holds-barred speech to the UN about how they’re doing sod all and Fatboy Slim turned it into the hook for ‘Right Here Right Now’? And lest we forget the epic takedown stare she gave to Donald Trump. Punk ain’t dead pals: it’s just in the form of ya gal GT.
OW MANY? THE ULTIMATE STATS OF 2019
people who attended Glastonbury this year
height of Lana Del Rey’s man child
members Sleater-Kinney were down between our cover feature and the magazine coming out
days between Tyler, The Creator revealing his ban from the UK to playing his first date at Brixton Academy
songs Superfood played at their final gig in April
years between the last Raconteurs album and ‘Help Us Stranger’
Number of tickets Billie Eilish has already sold for her forthcoming O2 Arena run
Number of Monday mornings we have left according to ‘People’
Percentage Lizzo is that bitch
DLES MERCH EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME
Although a quick glimpse at the pics from this summer’s festivals might have you thinking that bucket hats and mesh crop-tops are the new goto gig uniform, you, my friend, would be sorely mistaken. Oh no, like the infamous Zara ‘@hot4thespot’ dress, a new fashion craze has been taking over music events, and once you spot one, you’ll see it (for lack of a better term) fucking everywhere. That’s right, IDLES merch has become THE must-have item to be worn at every single remotely musically-affiliated event ever, giving us the brand new punk philosophical thought of the day: If a band plays a gig and no-one is there in an IDLES t-shirt, did it even happen? (Spoiler: the question is irrelevant, because there will ALWAYS be someone at the gig in an IDLES top).
AND HIS MERRY BAND OF DESERT SESSION-ERS 16 years since Queens of the Stone Age mainman Josh Homme last summoned a group of unlikely comrades to his California desert studio for an Avengers Assemble of rock’n’roll, Desert Sessions returned this autumn for its long-awaited ‘Vols. 11 & 12’. With an eclectic cast including ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr, Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa and all-round polymath Matt Berry descending on Rancho De La Luna for a week, the result was pure alchemy. Here’s what Mike and Matt had to say about it.. .
MIKE KERR ROYAL BLOOD How did the invite come about? We'd been on tour with Queens for quite a while and I'd got to know Josh really well over that time. I had no clue [who else was doing it] and I'm pretty sure that no-one else knew either. But it was kind of like Christmas; I didn't wanna know what was under the tree. What's Josh's role in the operation? It's his house party and, like any good host, he knows who to sit next to each other, who's gonna get on, and also who's gonna cause positive friction. It's all very planned out; nobody's there by accident. He knows how to get the best out of people. What was your highlight? There was a point when I was playing a bit of guitar and I had Josh and [heavyweight guitarist] Matt Sweeney looking at me, and I realised how preposterous that was. To my friends, the in-joke with my band is that it's funny that it even happened because when Royal Blood kicked off I didn't really play bass or sing. So playing guitar next to two of my favourite guitarists and them liking it... it felt like showing Picasso my finger-painting.
You’ve known Josh for a while how did he get you involved? It was a spontaneous thing that became a song. I wasn’t in [Joshua Tree] with everyone; I was in Los Angeles and played organ on ‘Chic Tweetz’ with him and Stella out there. Josh was playing a Stones-type rhythm and I was doing a different thing; when you hear it, it’s kind of like the organ player and the guitarist have no interest in what the other person is doing. That’s what made it sound interesting and schizophrenic and odd. What’s it like recording with the big man? We went in there and within 15 minutes we’d come up with something and it’s done. Unlike anyone else I can think of, he’s interested in getting people together to record in that way. Most people who are fronting massive bands are far too concerned with whether they’re gonna be interesting anymore or what they’re gonna do next. But there’s more to him than that. Not to sound like a wanker, but he’s interested in the art of making music. And the result was a pretty fucking weird tune! It’s not weird to me because I was in the middle of it, but if I wasn’t then yeah, I’d probably think the same! But there are some fairly heavy things on the record, so with this it’s just a ‘What the fuck?’ [moment], which is what it’s all about. Not letting you be too comfortable with all this nonsense.
“She said, have
you ever spat cum on the carpet of a Travelodge?” - Dry Cleaning, ‘Goodnight’
“Got a tongue that doesn’t quite translate / To look in somebody else’s bowl” - Two Door Cinema Club, ‘Dirty Air’
“Well, my generation wanna fuck Barack Obam a/ Living in a sauna with legal marijuana” - The 1975, ‘People’
AND THE YEAR’S OTHER UNEXPECTED LYRICAL FEATURES
“Love, honey, sex, money/ Text emojis saying you love me” Metronomy, ‘Sex Emoji’
As ever, 2019 has heralded a true smorgasbord of lyrical eye-poppers, from the good, to the bad to the just plain WTF? Let us raise a toast, then, to the times that pop stars temporarily lost their minds, and happened to have their iPhone notes a little too close to hand.
“My finger touch / I’ve been
feeling stuff / Dark meat, skin pleat, I’m working”- Marika Hackman, ‘Hand Solo’
“I saw you drink your
kombucha / And it really don’t suit ya” - Foals, ‘Black Bull’
PERHAPS THE GREATEST ENTERTAINER 2019 HAS SEEN “If you can love me, you can love your own damn self,” began Lizzo’s sermon during her beyond-capacity set at Glastonbury back in June. “I love you, you are beautiful, and you can do anything,” she urged the masses at the West Holts Stage to tell themselves in the mirror. It was just one moment of many during 2019 that underlined the polymath’s status as pop royalty. Singer, rapper, flautist and actor, Lizzo isn’t a new artist by any means - ‘Cuz I Love You’ is, after all, her third album, following 2013 debut ‘Lizzobangers’ and 2015’s ‘Big Grrrl Small World’ - but 2019 saw her star rise to new heights daily. She all but kicked off the year with self-love banger ‘Juice’; by the time ‘Tempo’, her collab with rap legend Missy Elliott hit in the summer, these twelve months were hers for the taking. Then, thanks to TikTok and Netflix film ‘Someone Great’, 2017 single ‘Truth Hurts’ - not even on her latest full-length - became the year’s sleeper hit. Add to that her appearances in both animated film ‘UglyDolls’ and box office smash ‘Hustlers’, a standing ovation from Rihanna and love on Twitter from just about every celebrity going, yes she’s 100% that bitch, and the world’s better for it.
Being quite literally sandwiched between the pop behemoths of Kylie’s legends turn and Billie Eilish’s upgraded spot over on the Other Stage, there was probably a bit of pressure off Miley Cyrus’ Pyramid debut. She’d long stretched her weirdo wings - who could forget ‘Dead Petz’, the musical result of her friendship with chief Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne - so an outing at Worthy Farm wasn’t completely anathema to the singer. And still, she wowed: opening with help from bestie Mark Ronson for the pair’s ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ before a take on Amy’s ‘Back To Black’, showing off her incredible rock vocal via Led Zep’s ‘Black Dog’ and Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’, and nodding to godmother (and past Legend) Dolly with ‘Jolene’. Bringing on Lil Nas X and her dad Billy Ray for ‘Old Town Road’, before proceeding to dip into Black Mirror alter ego Ashley O for ‘On A Roll’, the left-turns didn’t let up until the credits rolled. Few use the world’s most famous stage to ponder where their next steps might head - this June, Miley showed hers could be anywhere at all.
ORMAN FUCKING ROCKWELL
In the opening line of ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’, Lana Del Rey showed exactly why she’s one of the best ever. “God damn, man child, you fucked me so good that I almost said I love you” was instantly iconic and cutting, and LDR to a T (also, man child will forever be the best putdown, just sayin’). Kicking off her sixth studio album, the 14-track record has been spoken of as her best yet, and it’s no real stretch to see why. Coated in nostalgia and romanticism, Lana’s lyrics are sharp and her voice beguiling; for the 67 minutes it plays, you’re transported into Lana’s Classic Hollywood-tinged world - albeit one full of vaping, winged eyeliner and Kanye West. Also, we’ll be using “your poetry’s bad and you blame the news” to shut down fuckboys from now on. Thanks Lana.
LD TOWN ROAD’ TAKES OVER
2019 breakout superstar Lil Nas X has surely had one of the most stratospheric rises in modern music history. Since its release back at the start of the year, his ubiquitous single ‘Old Town Road’ has been inescapable; like the repeated dismay at the price of Freddos, or Liam slagging off Noel at every given opportunity, it’s a phenomenon you can’t get away from. But credit where credit’s due: Mr. X put the work in. After being snubbed by the Billboard Country Music Awards for “not being country enough” and coming up with the genius plan to get Billy Ray Cyrus on a remix, the track subsequently topped the charts for a record-breaking 19 consecutive weeks, and has spawned about 800 more remixes and memes from there. And it’s also so catchy that once it’s stuck in your head can’t nobody tell you nothin’. Oh no, not again...
EAKY BLINDERS FESTIVAL
EXISTS (AND IT WASN’T HALF AS STRANGE AS IT FIRST SOUNDED) While sometimes, admittedly, the events of a festival can make for great TV (Fyre Festival, we’re looking at you here), it doesn’t necessarily work too well the opposite way around. Until now that is… Now, there’s only been a ruddy Peaky Blinders festival. Featuring a genuinely decent array of musicians - Primal Scream, Nadine Shah and Liam Gallagher all reared their heads over the two-day affair - the Birmingham event gave viewers the chance to presumably pretend to be gangsters for a day, while watching Anna Calvi perform the show’s score? We’re not too sure either, but apparently it was pretty bloody good. Get your flat caps ready for next year, lads.
release of incendiary debut ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, he’s grown into a bona fide star. We headed to Newcastle to witness the phenomenon of Tyron
UITE A DEPRESSING YEAR FOR THE CHARTS
Yes yes, it’s 2019 and there’s not really any point in still moaning about how the charts aren’t what they used to be. EXCEPT ISN’T THERE JUST A BIT THOUGH??? Streaming, playlists, blah blah blah: we all know how the numbers are crunched these days and that there’s sweet FA we can do to reverse it. But does that actually make the sour taste of The Greatest Showman soundtrack (the biggest selling album of the year, for the second year in a row) any more palatable? Does it soften the blow that, despite literally dozens of incredible new records being released over the past 12 months, the Top 10 also contains a further two film soundtracks and an Ed Sheeran LP from 2017? No, Mister Official Charts. No, it does not. Hmmph.
Everyone loves a good dose of nostalgia, and this year a whole batch of bands decided that 2019 was the time to put aside their differences and reunite for the greater good of the people. From the ginormous stadium tour that the Spice Girls completed earlier this summer, to the decidedly more low-key return of The Futureheads and Britpoppers Supergrass’ recent surprise gig, it was a big year for musical comebacks. We even caught up with indie sweethearts Bombay Bicycle Club in the very spot where they decided to get the gang back together!
We were in this pub actually!” bassist Ed Nash told us earlier this year, sat in Hornsey’s Great Northern Tavern. “Doing something ‘looking back’ when everyone’s still in their twenties seemed like a really silly way of doing it, so we decided to do Bombay properly again. Do the ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ [anniversary tour], but make new music and look forward.” Welcome back, old friends!
hopeful. As 2019 comes to a close, following the
At the start of the year, slowthai was a buzzy new
Frampton. Words: Rosie Hewitson. Photos: Andrew Benge. It’s a rainy mid-October Sunday evening in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the kind of miserable day you can imagine might take its toll on an artist who’s been on the road for much of the past year, but slowthai seems pretty content. The rapper has just returned from an afternoon of paintballing with his touring crew, during which his team apparently annihilated their opponents. It’s a far cry from how touring life was in the not-too-distant past. “When you decide to do music you always dream of the big bus,” he explains. “Not even a year ago, we were travelling around in a car, then we were borrowing our friend’s rundown motorhome, and now we’ve finally worked our way up to the bus. All my boys are on it; we’ve been go-karting, paintballing, we went to the cinema last night. It’s the dream,” he grins, carefully rolling an enormous blunt while he speaks. The Pokémon evolution of his touring vehicle in many ways serves as a metaphor for the monumental success the 24-year-old has had over the course of 2019 - a year which started with him placing in the Top Five of the BBC Sound of 2019 shortlist and will end with him supporting BROCKHAMPTON in the US, having won thousands of devoted new followers off the back of his incendiary live shows and astonishing debut album. Released back in May,
the politically charged, Mercury-shortlisted ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ has garnered comparisons to Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy In Da Corner’ and The Streets’ ‘Original Pirate Material’, and is already being touted as an era-defining classic for its portrayal of a fractious country plunged into chaos by austerity and Brexit. Later in the evening, he’ll blow the roof off Newcastle University’s Student Union as 1,500 ecstatic young Geordies do their best to match the swaggering charisma of their hero on the stage. But despite the unwavering devotion of his fans, it’s fair to say that not everyone is enamoured with slowthai’s brand of acerbic social commentary, particularly since his headlinegenerating performance at the Mercury Prize ceremony in September. Cut short during the live broadcast after he held up Boris Johnson’s ‘severed head’ to the camera and shouted “Fuck Boris”, his performance of Mura Masa collaboration ‘Doorman’ had various tabloid newspapers branding him a terrorist and a gossip reporter turning up unannounced at his home a few days later. “I just didn’t think people would be so angry,” he says, of the reaction to what The Sun gleefully termed his ‘sick stunt’. “Loads of people were trying to report it, saying I should be in jail for hate
crimes and stuff. I didn’t think it was even a thing, but The Sun turned up wanting to speak to my mum. I don’t think the guy actually knew what I looked like because I answered the door and he asked for her. In the end I was like, ‘Whatever, you do what you need to do’, but they were all congregating outside my house, it was bullshit!” slowthai ended up releasing a statement explaining his
99p. Tickets for this tour still only cost a fiver, despite selling out in minutes. Some might think it strange that an artist of his rapidly-growing stature would sell themselves so cheaply, or see it as a clever way of generating hype, but slowthai has a more empathetic stance in mind. “The people I’m speaking for don’t necessarily have the money. I remember being in a place where
“My mum’s seen me go from being a little twat to having this success, so she’s happy.” intentions (which, funnily enough, weren’t to incite terrorism), but ultimately he’s not too fussed what the tabloids say about him. “My thing isn’t to make everybody listen,” he explains. “I’m speaking for people who are like-minded to myself, and the people who are forgotten. It’s for those who need it rather than those who are opposed to it, so if you agree with it you agree with it, if you don’t at least I’m sparking the thought and provoking a conversation.”
his determination to speak for the young and disaffected members of society is part of the reason slowthai has garnered such a devoted young following over the past year, as evidenced by the impressive queue of merch-clad teenage fans that snakes around the venue. It’s this, rather than the critical success, that has meant the most to the rapper. “There’s no accolade or award that’s gonna make me feel as much as a kid coming up to me in the street,” he says. “When there are kids at shows saying my songs word for word with more passion and conviction than I am… You don’t know how to react to that. That’s the best feeling ever, that’s the best buzz.” It’s also why he’s taken great pains to make his live shows as accessible as possible; his UK tour earlier in the year saw him visit a host of places like Milton Keynes and South Shields that rarely get a look in from touring musicians, with tickets priced at just
I couldn’t get a loaf of bread or electric,” he explains. “The idea came from ice cream. I always got pissed off how about how a 99 cone costs £2 now. You can’t get much for 99p anymore and when you’ve been in my position it’s the little things like that which annoy you.” His humility is evident, and despite his achievements this year you get the impression that his life now ultimately isn’t that different from how it was before the fame, fortune and fancy tour buses. He still spends as much time as possible at his mum’s house in Northampton, or drinking tea at his nan’s (“PG Tips or Yorkshire Tea”); having been so busy this year he hasn’t been able to spend much time at home, so he’s looking forward to Christmas back there. “I love being at home, so now I’ve got a bit of money I’ve been doing up the house me and my mum live in because that’s nice for her,” he explains. What does she think of all this? “I think she’s just proud. She’s seen me go from being a little
twat to having this success, so really she’s just happy that I’m doing this,” he chuckles. “The night before the Mercury, I was in my studio at home and she came down just crying. I got really angry at first because I thought somebody had upset her. The way she was crying I thought somebody was dying or something [but she was just proud]. I get everything from my mum, she taught me most things I know, so it’s nice to take her places. I’ve been trying to take her on holiday but she won’t go off work.” With such a punishing schedule, has he been able to give any thought to ‘Nothing Great About Britain’’s follow-up? “Yeah, I’ve got the whole concept for the next album,” he reveals, “I know who I’m working with, I’ve got the time set aside and I’ve already got three songs for it. It’s just that I’ve got loads of things I want to do, other music ideas and people I want to work with, so there’s too many albums to make and not enough time.” He’s always going to write music “for the people”, he explains, but he’s hoping the next one will be “more imaginative, more metaphorbased.” He also wants to do some things for kids in Northampton, “opening stuff for the young people, places where they can go to do something different rather than just ending up doing the bullshit,” although he thinks he has a long way to go “musically and financially, to be able to make a significant difference.” Later on, as he bounces around the tiny stage in a personalised edition of a ‘90s-era Newcastle United shirt, the enraptured crowd screaming along to every word of the album between energetic chants of “Fuck Boris”, those dreams seem in reach. For now, slowthai is only just getting started. ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ is out now via Method. DIY
“There’s no accolade or award that’s gonna make me feel as much as a kid coming up to me in the street.” 55
YLER, THE CREATOR
NLIKELY RESURGENCE OF THE SAXOPHONE
Tyler, The Creator has never exactly been afraid of *~fashun, but in 2019 the star underwent his most major transformation so far. With the release of album ‘IGOR’, we finally got to witness the Odd Future rapper’s long-awaited return to the UK. And boy, was it worth the wait. Taking on a whole new persona, complete with an array of pastel coloured zoot suits and a cropped blonde wig, does Tyler now embody the essence of slick? You can bet your bottom dollar on it.
“I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables. I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars,” quipped James Murphy on iconic scene takedown ‘Losing My Edge’. But what would ol’ Jim-Bob have said about the kids then ditching them both in favour of... the saxophone?! Yes, in 2019, are you even a buzz band if you don’t have some brass parping away stage right? From Swedish scallies Viagra Boys to South London’s latest hopes Black Country, New Road; Canada’s Crack Cloud to super-hyped Brightonians Squid (OK fine, theirs is a trumpet, but still...), plug-inand-play is out and classical training is the new cool. All hail the nerds: turns out your mum was right about those after-school lessons after all.
It seems strange to think that, just over a year ago, we still had no idea what the new Vampire Weekend album was going to be called, let alone when we might finally hear it. But, after more hype than you can shake a selfie stick at - including ‘FOTB’ clues and a two-hour track of solely looped guitars - the long-awaited follow-up to 2013’s ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ finally landed and, despite it not being titled ‘Mitsubishi Macchiato’ like first rumoured, it was as joyous as we could’ve hoped. Eighteen songs in length and featuring appearances from Danielle Haim and Steve Lacy among others, ‘Father of The Bride’ felt immediately playful and classic, well-worn but unique. “Having other people involved, practically speaking, it’s more fun!” Ezra told us, back in the summer. “I have other people in the studio, people to collaborate with, and it gives the texture of the album a new feeling, which I think is the right feeling after the trajectory of the last three albums.”
HY ME, WHY NOT? AND OTHER QUESTIONS WE’VE ASKED OURSELVES THIS YEAR
Q: Does nothing break like a heart? Q: Does Damon Albarn ever sit still? Q: When we all fall asleep, where do we go? Q: How many times can Dave Grohl say “rock” in a single minute? Q: When is the new Tame Impala album actually coming? Q: What does Orville Peck’s face look like?
(FINALLY!) UNLEASHES A NEW ALBUM A full two years since some dickhead hacker leaked all her material, Charli XCX finally (FINALLY!) released her self-titled third album in September! Featuring shit loads of exciting guest stars, and some undisputed #bangerz, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t left wanting even more after all the build-up and hype. ‘1999’ is still an absolute slapper though.
EARS & YEARS
GET TROLL-Y ON TWITTER
What exactly do you do when the BBC launches a new dystopian thriller series which happens to share your band name and people are desperate to talk about it online? Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well troll ‘em... That’s exactly what poptastic trio Years & Years must’ve been thinking earlier this year when dark sci-fi drama, ahem, Years and Years launched, and they found themselves with quuuuite a few tweets sent their way. “Jeez, I wish I knew @yearsandyears was so bleak. @russelltovey, so depressing!” wrote one torn viewer, before the band took matters into their own hands. “Oh no! We thought our songs were quite upbeat and happy! We’ll speak to A&R.” Ten points guys, ten points.
NEW MUSIC FOR 2020 IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER…
Alright, alright, so this one isn’t quite about 2019, you’ve caught us. Maybe it’s more of a plug for our next issue - our Class of 2020 issue - in which we’ll be offering up a healthy dose of new music, and highlighting all of the bands we’ll be throwing our support behind next year. Maybe you should set a lil reminder in your diary to check it out. Just maybe.
It’s been an interesting one, eh? Sure, our country is currently in the middle of a political shitstorm and we’re all edging scarily closer to a climate catastrophe, but there have been some shining moments in the middle of all that doom and gloom. With only one month of 2019 left, we thought it was only right to head down to the pub with some DIY faves and have a bit of a debrief about the good (and other) times we’ve had this year. Rallying the troops to the Old Blue Last, we got Jack from Mystery Jets, Will Joseph Cook, Sports Team’s Alex Rice and Self Esteem to dissect the goings on of the last 12 months. Interview: Elly Watson. Photos: Jenn Five.
Our team had very different reactions to the surprise round of shots..
2019 IS NEARLY OVER! WHAT HAS EVERYONE’S HIGHLIGHT BEEN SO FAR? Jack: Is it still 2019? Alex: What a start! Rebecca: I played Glastonbury, finally. That sounds good when you tell your family that. Will: I spent loads of time writing in the US this year. Rebecca: In LA? Ow, when do I get to do that? Will: It’s such a different lifestyle. It doesn’t make any sense. You end up living the lifestyle that you took the piss out of. I was three weeks in and then realised I’m vaping weed on a bird scooter on the way to a Korean spa. Rebecca: I’m well jel. Jack: Mine was that I had a baby. Well, I didn’t actually have it. Alex: Congratulations! Jack: Thank you very much! The whole year this album has been coming out
and I was like, well I’ve just had a baby, I don’t really care about the album now. But now she’s nearly one… Rebecca: Album time, baby! Will: The baby is old news now. YOU MENTIONED GLASTONBURY, WHAT ARE WE THINKING WILL HAPPEN AT THE BIG 50TH ANNIVERSARY NEXT YEAR? Alex: 1975 will headline. Matty Healy will lecture people. Wheel out Greta Thunberg. Jack: Isn’t a thing when whoever does the secret Park set will headline next year? I reckon Foals will do it. I’d definitely enjoy it more than The 1975. Rebecca: I’d like to go on record as liking The 1975. Will: Yeah, I like them too. Please take me on tour! ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PAST GLASTO STORIES? Jack: I got snuck in when I was 18. My first ever Glastonbury gig was at Strummerville at the top of the hill and we didn’t have tickets so they snuck us in in the back of a van underneath sofas. It was us and Bastille. They were like “They’re gonna search the van in 20 minutes but just lie still and don’t make
any noise”. Rebecca: Oh my god… Jack: They said “When we get to the other side, I’ll shout Columbian marching powder and then you’re in!” It was brilliant. The door busted open and we were in the middle of the festival. Beans On Toast organised it. SORRY REBECCA, BUT WE’RE GONNA HAVE TO MENTION THIS YEAR’S MERCURY PRIZE TOO… Rebecca: Don’t talk to me about it. Alex: You were robbed! Rebecca: When my manager said, it was like telling me my dad had died! She was like, “I need to speak to you…” I’m obsessed with being nominated for something. I’ve never had an award; I’ve never been nominated; I feel deeply under-appreciated across the board. When I did Self Esteem it was a real massive goal and it didn’t happen. But I’m fine about it! Alex: You were in a band before that yeah? Rebecca: Yeah, we never got shit either! But it’s fine. I’m clearrrrly at peace with it. Next one! I do respond well to prizes and huge confirmations of my talent, but it’s fine!
MEET THE SQUAD Who: Alex Rice From: Frontman and, um, energetic dancer of six-piece indie band/banger creators, Sports Team. Notable 2019 moment: Admittedly, it’s not happened yet, but their biggest headline show to-date at Kentish Town Forum on 5th December promises to be pretty legendary. The hangover on the 6th, not so much. Who: Rebecca Taylor From: Better known under her stage name Self Esteem, Rebecca’s been killing it as a solo pop icon recently, releasing her debut LP ‘Compliments Please’ back in March. Notable 2019 moment: Aside from her debut album release, there are too many examples of her being hilarious on social media, but chowing down on a Magnum post-Mercury shortlist announcement has to be up there. Who: Jack Flanagan From: Bassist of beloved indie rock legends Mystery Jets, who are gearing up to release seventh LP ‘A Billion Heartbeats’ next year. Notable 2019 moment: Having a baby girl named Fyfa! (Pronounced like F-Eye-Fur, as opposed to the highest governing body in football, like we may have done at first).
Who: Will Joseph Cook From: Being an indie dreamboat and making banging pop bops. 2016’s ‘Girls Like Me’ still slaps to this day. Notable 2019 moment: Blessed us back in July with his first new music in almost two years when he returned with ‘Hey Brother’. Welcome back, WJC!
WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT DAVE WINNING IT? Rebecca: It’s fine, he’s really fit. Alex: The ‘Psychodrama’ album is amazing. Will: Have any of you been to the Extinction Rebellion protests? Not to plug my new song, but it was all about feeling that hopelessness and guilt when there doesn’t seem to be a solution. You make all of these lifestyle choices, but as a band if you get the chance to play America, you’re going to fly there with loads of your kit. Everyone has to make that choice. Do you want to live a normal happy life where you just prioritise yourself? Like, you’d have to move off grid. Move to Margate. Jack [to Rebecca]: You were an earlier adopter to Margate, right? Rebecca: Yeah! HAVE YOU DONE THE MASSIVE PETE DOHERTY BREAKFAST YET? Rebecca: No, but I’ve really considered it. I think the challenge is that you just have to finish it, which I could definitely do. I’m interested in eating competitions for women because it’s not celebrated. That makes me want to do it, but I’ll wait until the likes are slow on the old Insta or I’ve got something to promote. Jack: You could bring some spaghetti hoops and spell out your album name. Rebecca: Ah, I’ll just do it in post. BILLIE EILISH HAS ALSO HAD A GREAT YEAR. WHAT WERE YOU GUYS DOING AT 17? Jack: Getting stoned? Nah, she’s brilliant, her brother is even better. I love the way he accompanies all her lyrics with ambient sounds and noises that really go with what she’s saying. How they’re creating this music is very punk and very cool. What’s she gonna do in 10 years? Will: When you look back to what you were doing at like 14, you weren’t even fully self aware and she’s gonna have the memories
of playing to, like, 20,000 people. Rebecca: What were you doing at 17, Alex? Are you still 17? Alex: I’m 25! Jack: Apparently your brain stops forming at 25… Alex: That’s nice. Rebecca: I think I started music when I was 17, back in the ‘70s. Will: Must’ve been weird doing stuff without the internet. Rebecca: Hey, I’m 28! I’m 28 every year. All the time. Alex: Have you started lying about your age? Rebecca: Yep, I say something different all the time. Just to keep it fresh, ya know? Nah, when I was 17, I was doing Slow Club, then went on tour at 18 and haven’t really stopped. Will: I think I started rapidly losing interest in everything apart from music. Did any of you have an emo phase? Because I didn’t have an emo phase and everyone seems to have had one. Everyone in the band is like, “Oh yeah, My Chem”, and I’m like what? Jack: I hope they come back. That would be massive! Everyone’s now unashamed to say they loved them. ON THE TOPIC OF REUNIONS, IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE BAND REFORM, WHO WOULD IT BE? Alex: AC/DC with Bon Scott back from the dead as their frontman. Jack: I knew that was a reference for you, I love that. Alex: They’re just a great rock band. Rebecca: I’d want Destiny’s Child. Jack: Maybe Oasis, just so someone else can get played on XFM. Alex: Have you heard that new song? ‘Black Star Dancing’? That’s just like Noel’s given up songwriting. It’s pretty bad. The most depressing moment of this festival season was seeing Post Malone and Twenty One Pilots doing Oasis covers on the main stage. It’s so Butlins. It’s so sad. I do love Oasis though. Jack: Liam’s great. I love Liam. When I wake up in the morning I just listen to
“Sorry Alex, HOW many beefs have you tried to start today?”
“HOPEFULLY WE’LL SEE POST PUNK DIE DOWN A BIT.” - ALEX RICE, SPORTS TEAM
“I DO RESPOND WELL TO PRIZES AND HUGE CONFIRMATIONS OF MY TALENT, BUT IT’S FINE!” REBECCA TAYLOR, SELF ESTEEM
his interviews. They cheer me up. Rebecca: Is Noel the fit one? They’re both quite fit. Will: Is Noel the fit one?! Rebecca: There’s a bit of the Slow Club documentary when we sing ‘She’s Electric’. I don’t know if it was Noel or Liam who did [a documentary too] but they weren’t allowed to use any Oasis songs, but we were allowed to use one in ours! There’s more Oasis songs in a Slow Club documentary than there is in theirs. I live for that kind of pettiness. Will: It would be like watching a Jeremy Kyle episode on stage if they got back together. I’m glad that show got cancelled, and Love Island should be next. Jack: But what would we do for half of the year? It’s like reading a book. It’s pure escapism. It completely makes you forget about everything for an hour. Will: But there’s so much better things to do in an hour! Rebecca: [mimes wanking] ANY OTHER SHIT TV YOU’D WATCH INSTEAD? Rebecca: I do a lot of Don’t Tell The Bride and Naked Attraction.
Jack: Oh that is good. Rebecca: I love Drag Race. I went to the Attitude Awards the other night and started it off like, ‘Oh, it’s never cool to get a picture with anybody’, and then I drank a lot of free booze and now my Instagram is just pics of me and Clare Balding and Courtney Act. ANYONE ELSE FANGIRLED OVER SOMEONE THIS YEAR? Rebecca: I love Lizzo! I was worried that this [chat] was going to be about new music; I can’t listen to stuff because if it’s great I’m annoyed that I didn’t make it, and if it’s shit but bigger than me, I’m annoyed that it’s bigger than me. FINALLY, WHAT ARE YOUR BIG 2020 PLANS? Alex: We’ve got an album out! Hopefully we’ll see post-punk die down a bit. Will: I think everything people hate will become really popular. Like some revolutionary, bold music will come through. Rebecca: I don’t know... I’ll make another record, I hope! I just wanna make some cash. A 2020 MOTTO. THANKS GUYS! DIY
Wolf Alice had had a strange year…
READERS’ POLL 2019 This entire issue is dedicated to us having our say about the best and worst bits of 2019 - and now’s the time for you to have your say! Just fill in our Reader’s Poll below to tell us everything from your fave album to the year’s biggest prat. The power is in your hands...
BEST ALBUM OF 2019:................................................................ BEST SONG OF 2019:................................................................... BAND OF THE YEAR:.................................................................... BREAKTHROUGH BAND:.......................................................... BEST PERSON IN (OR OUTSIDE OF) A BAND:.................................................................. BEST COVER VERSION:................................................................ NEW BAND MOST LIKELY TO BE AMAZING IN 2020:........................................................... BEST VIDEO:.................................................................................. BEST LIVE ACT:............................................................................. PRAT OF THE YEAR:................................................................... Fill this in and post back by 30th November 2019 to us at: DIY HQ, K309, The Biscuit Factory, 100 Clements Road, London SE16 4DG, head to diymag.com/readerspoll2019 to fill it out online, or tweet or Instagram a photo of it and use #diyreaderspoll2019. We’ll reveal the results next month.
DESERT SESSIONS Vols. 11 & 12 (Matador)
he idea of Desert Sessions - the concept founded by Queens of the Stone Age’s swaggering ringleader Josh Homme back in the late ‘90s - is simple. Pluck a bunch of disparate musicians from their day jobs, stick them all in the Californian desert for a week with a blank canvas and enough tequila to keep things lubricated, and see what happens. As with any ‘supergroup’ of sorts (because that’s essentially
what the sessions are - the product of a rotating, interweaving band of musical pros), the key is in the casting. Source the right combination of personalities and predilections and you’ll make magic; put the wrong matches in the room and it’ll be like a misfiring episode of rock’n’roll First Dates. But over the years of Desert Sessions’ early tenure (ten ‘volumes’ were recorded between 1997 and 2003), Josh proved himself a veritable Cilla Black of the studio, pairing the unexpected (PJ Harvey and Marilyn Manson’s guitarist?) and emerging with harmonic gold - so much so that he even pinched and reworked some of the results for Queens’ own studio albums. It’s been 16 years since music’s coolest summer camp reopened its doors, but back in spring the singer announced that ‘Vols. 11 & 12’ were incoming. This time around, the chosen ones delivered to Rancho de la Luna would involve legends (ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons; Primus’ Les Claypool), modern stars (Jake Shears, Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr, Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa),
Music’s coolest summer camp. curveballs (musician and rumbling-voiced comedy genius Matt Berry and an unknown man going by the name of Töôrnst Hülpft) and more; as ever, the bulk of the results would be recorded quickly, in just six days. It’s a testament both to the obvious skill of the players and the evident spark present in the sessions that somehow, despite the mad task in front of them, ‘Vols. 11 & 12’ yield nothing but successes. The eight tracks here are scrappy, sure, and have the understandable feel of demos rather than fully formed final products. But the bones of the beast? Well, they’re kind of brilliant. Aside from some recogniseable vocals (Mike on ‘Crucifire’, Matt on the bonkers ‘Chic Tweetz’, Josh - of course - on ‘Noses in Roses, Forever’ and closer ‘Easier Said Than Done’), each track goes uncredited, the emphasis being on the collaborative product rather than any individual input. And it’s this lack of ego that you sense is the key. Tracks veer from
snappy, propulsive things to porchside balladry (‘If You Run’); some are elongated and full of twists and turns, some clock in at less than two minutes. But there’s no sense of a headline act. You only need to listen to the aforementioned ‘Chic Tweetz’, featuring the strange rhymes of ‘Töôrnst’ (we’re still convinced that’s a pseudonym…) over a cantering funk melody to see that the Sessioners value creativity and experiments more than trying to birth a hit. That said, you can easily imagine either of Josh’s main appearances finding their way onto the next record from his main band; if the final climax of ‘Easier Said Than Done’ sounds this massive when recorded in five minutes, imagine what it’ll sound like after a full run through the production desk. But rather than merely a test run for something bigger, The Desert Sessions’ latest output is a more than worthy listen on its own merit. Welcome to rock school. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Noses In Roses, Forever’, ‘Crucifire’
FKA TWIGS MAGDALENE (Young Turks)
In 2018, FKA twigs announced on Instagram her battle with fibroid tumours, which she described as a selection of fruit: 2 apples, 3 kiwis and some strawberries, “a fruit bowl of pain”. ‘MAGDALENE’ feels like a response to this both thematically and sonically: tracks that grapple with passion and heartbreak begin as tender ballads before morphing into brittle, antagonistic productions with vocal performances that flick between harrowing and beautiful. On ‘cellophane’ and ‘mirrored heart’ this approach works to stunning effect - they are true jaw-droppers that feel like bold steps forward, embracing both tenderness and ferocity. ‘mary magdalene’ is the album’s unshakeable core: a concoction of future-facing production, great songwriting and a pitch-perfect vocal performance.‘day bed’, an ode to sofa-bound bouts of reflection and acceptance, is another standout, the encapsulation of finding beauty in the mundane. ‘MAGDALENE’ is an album of ideas bristling against one another. Sometimes, there is the feeling that less could have been more, but when everything aligns, there are true moments of wonder to be found. (Tom Sloman) LISTEN: ‘mary magdalene’
An album of ideas bristling against one another. KELE 2042
More than just entertainment, some artists set out to make records that capture exactly what it means to be human. Having watched countless American artists demonstrate through their music that Black Lives Do Indeed Matter, Kele Okereke has finally achieved his own Black-British take in ‘2042’, capturing all the fears and foibles of our current political system through a sonic palette that recalls some of the earliest of Bloc Party’s work. Lead single ‘Jungle Bunny’ is the natural, world-weary older brother to ‘Hunting For Witches’’ observational lyrics, exploring ideas of class and race with a deft, dark comedy, and it balances beautifully against interludes of interviews with Kele’s mother and the pacing fear of ‘Cyril’s Blood’ (named for his Grandfather). The centrepiece however is the emotional state-of-the-nation ‘Let England Burn’, which watches the tensions of our country with both despair and a nervous energy to rebel, set against gnarly guitars. “It’s getting kinda gully up in here for a dark skin boy that doesn’t play by the rules,” he intones. We’re bloody glad he doesn’t - by holding a mirror up to society, ‘2042’ encourages us all to keep fighting the good fight. (Jenessa Williams) LISTEN: ‘Let England Burn’
PICK MATT MALTESE
In 2018, decked in a crushed velvet suit, Matt Maltese sang of a love that could end worlds. Divine intervention was a constant bother and pithy one liners the standard (The superbly heartbreaking “I wish that I could fill his shoes / but I’m only a seven” from ‘Like A Fish’ a real highlight). But now, suit thrown to one side and hair grown out, gone are the flights of fancy, and the interstellar dreams. This shedding of the skin shows a side of the songwriter that isn’t overly reliant on humour as deflection. Much of the joy in ‘Bad Contestant’ was around his self-deprecating approach to these situations. ‘Krystal’, while still featuring a healthy dose of one liners, feels more open and honest. On the Bee Gees shuffle of ‘Curl Up & Die’, you can practically hear his heart breaking as he reminisces about the time he “worshipped the towel you dried on”. Yet there is the feeling that, without that grandeur, Matt has lost his stand-out feature. It was those larger than life moments that caught the attention, and were it not for Matt’s lyrical nous, tracks on ‘Krystal’ could blend into each other without much note. It sometimes feels like a daydream; captivating in the moment but passing just as fleetingly, almost like an acceptance that the problems he sings of aren’t forever. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Rom Com Gone Wrong’
Pumarosa had long made a name for themselves in glitchy, brooding indie by the time debut full-length ‘The Witch’ eventually emerged in mid-2017. And, on a surface level, second album ‘Devastation’ could be said to pick up right where they left off. Except it doesn’t, because context is very much key. Knowing that this is an album written in the aftermath of frontwoman Isabel Muñoz-Newsome’s treatment for cervical cancer makes a dark, uncompromising and uncomfortable listen even moreso. Hers was a voice with a track record in conveying emotion - for much of ‘Devastation’ it’s pushed to its limits, Isabel’s fists audibly clenched for the process of getting her words out. The skittish, Radiohead-esque beats that permeate, and the almost industrial flourishes, perhaps a side-effect of the temporary recruitment of Tool’s Justin Chancellor, are all the more claustrophobic, as if we’re trapped in Isabel’s own darkness with her - at least until light seeps in on the closing title track. Highlight ‘I Can Change’ plays with tension, its repetition almost echoing the vocalist’s cover pose, arms stretched, succumbing to whatever’s thrown her way. This is echoed in ‘I Am Lost’ and its refrain of “if this is losing it / I am lost”. ‘Adam’s Song’, meanwhile is an honest, if twitchy, study in lust. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘I Can Change’
POPS With our great big look back at all things 2019 throughout this issue, we also asked some of our favourites for their favourite albums of the year.
BEN HOZIE, BODEGA
Fontaines DC - Dogrel Have you ever heard the sentiment: ‘Without nostalgia you’d have no Homer or Proust’? Fontaines DC’s debut uses self-conscious modernistic nostalgia as a weapon against the dulled tech-gentrified Dublin of today. They conjure images of some platonic idea of Dublin. Their imagined city is toasty, independent, inspired, and verbose. The whole band’s bouncy strut in ’Sha Sha Sha’ mimics the click clack of a mid-afternoon stroll down cobbled streets. Ah that’s the spirit.
Everything That Makes You Happy (Transgressive) .............................................................................................................................
It would be an understatement to say that Blaenavon have not had the easiest journey over the last two years. Following the release of 2017 debut ‘That’s Your Lot’, a self-described “hectic” time followed in which frontman Ben Gregory struggled with his mental health, resulting in a stress-related breakdown and subsequent hospitalisation. It’s this difficult time that has formed the core of second record, ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’. Releasing a statement back in January, Ben described the new album as “about suffering, guilt, love, family and overcoming trauma”, continuing “it might be the most important thing I’ll ever create”. ‘ETMYH’ is an overwhelmingly uplifting album despite being born out of a place of darkness. Beautiful and unflinching, it pulls on the heartstrings, with Ben laying out his struggles across ten melodic indie rock anthems. From ‘The Song’s Never Gonna Be The Same’ - a slow-burning acoustic number that describes feeling on the edge of instability - to ‘Fucking Up My Friends’ and its frank descriptions of hospital corridors, the record flows through emotional pop-leaning gems to big guitar-driven indie anthems. The title track closes the record out, urging its listener to find happiness when all seems bleak, and it’s this lingering trace of positivity that you sense is meant to be the takeaway. Despite ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’’s often tough subject matter, Blaenavon’s second is an optimistic offering in the face of hardship, one sure to resonate in hearts and act as a voice of hope and perseverance for many. (Elly Watson) LISTEN: ‘Back This Year’
NIALL BURNS, WHENYOUNG
Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains I always look for honesty in music. Secondly, melody. This latest, and unfortunately last, collection of songs by David Berman marries the two effortlessly. It’s a record to dance to, to walk alone at night to, to feel strange to, to fall in love with and to break your heart. He’s a truly unique voice who gave everything to his art, and at least he leaves that behind.
Guild Two: Forever (Dirty Hit)
Hanging heavy over this second release from 404 is the tragic loss, back in May, of founder member Mina, known musically as Silvertongue. In her absence, her primary contribution to ‘Guild Two: Forever’, ‘Blind Spot’, feels all the more pivotal, even more acutely the emotional axis around which everything else revolves. She and the other four members of the group are evidently united by thematic vision and shiny production, but their individual approaches vary considerably, meaning that when ‘Blind Spot’ does arrive at the midpoint, its blissed-out, woozy minimalism - not a million miles from Jorja Smith - comes as a welcome reprieve from the intensity of the belligerent, trapdriven ‘Jenny’ and the off-kilter menace of ‘Doubt It’. That was the formula that was established on ‘Guild One’. It’s cemented this time out and, horribly, it leaves you wondering where the group go from here, because Silvertongue is the beating heart of ‘Guild Two...’. It’s not just that she breaks up the sense of suffocating bleakness; it’s that her contributions to ‘Sulaco’ and ‘Hound Pound’ provide such glittering evidence of how adept she was at emotionally mooring 404’s music. What’s next, with Silvertongue gone, remains to be seen, but the release of ‘Guild Two: Forever’ feels crucial in terms of how stirringly it honours her talent. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Blind Spot’
ARLO PARKS Sophie
(Transgressive / Beatnik)
You wouldn’t usually look to a 19-year-old to unpick the complexities of hopeless romance but there’s something about Arlo Parks’ sigh of “fuck, I love you” on ‘Angel’s Song’ that unfurls the feeling perfectly, clasping heartstrings in the process. Among a wealth of musical influences that are as far reaching as MF Doom and Sufjan Stevens, Arlo namechecks a number of literary types - Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and Hanif Abdurraqib to name a few - and it shows. ‘Sophie’ lyrically spells out with all the logic of a dream - hyper-specific details rub shoulders with fantasy which subsequently makes it all the more real. “Having sex in the sky / I think I hate you but I don’t know why,” she sings on ‘Paperbacks In The Sky’. The collage of vintage synths, dusty drum sounds and warm harmonies sees the EP’s centrepiece ‘Second Guessing’ through to a blissful chorus. But it’s Arlo’s vocal that’s the real star here, her rich croon sculpting her carefully crafted lyrics in a fashion which you’d happily listen to way beyond the limits of an EP. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘Second Guessing’
Judging by looks alone may well be a fool’s game, but the image adorning the sleeve of ‘Hyperspace’ does in fact give much away about Beck’s 14th. Featuring the musician in a bright white suit, stood in front of an ‘80s red car, hand outstretched to shade his face from the light, it’s a perfect visual metaphor. The record sees him teaming up with a handful of pals - producers Pharrell Williams, Paul Epworth and Greg Kurstin, Sky Ferreira, Terrell Hines - for a pristine collection that’s at once the past’s idea of the future as it is the here and now. The glistening synths that weave their way around ‘Chemical’, ‘Dark Places’ and especially the title track could come straight from the Stranger Things soundtrack, full of dreamy retrofuturism. And still ‘Hyperspace’ is an album that has Beck firmly in the right now, whether thanks to the breathy backing vocals from Sky Ferreira accenting ‘Die Waiting’, the gritty bass propelling ‘Star’, or evidence throughout that he’s updated his white boy hip hop arsenal with sounds from the last few years. This is where ‘Hyperspace’ really heads skyward, particularly via the slow jam vibes of ‘See Through’, or the giddy ‘Love Is A Chemical’, during which he both bends his signature sound to fit the beat, and even makes brief use of a triplet flow. That Beck should choose to magpie from pop’s zeitgeist is no shocker - nor, of course, is it that he’s done it so well - but that ‘Hyperspace’ is quite so seamless in its execution is an utter joy. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Die Waiting’
PICK OF THE
POPS THE MURDER CAPITAL
For Those I Love - For Those I Love We think it’s just beenpulled offline so you’ll have to wait again to hear it, but there’s nothing quite like the catharsis experienced and the anger expressed throughout this record. Breathtaking honesty, we fucking love it.
LYNN GUNN, PVRIS
Tycho - Weather I’ve been a huge fan of Tycho ever since we started touring, they’re always the best soundtrack while I’m exploring a new city or on a scenic drive. I was really excited to hear vocals over some of the tracks on this album.
FIONA BURGESS, WOMAN’S HOUR
NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS Ghosteen (Ghosteen)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ surprise seventeenth studio album is the protagonist’s second since the death of his son Arthur in 2015. ‘Skeleton Tree’ had already presented a markedly dark turn for the group in 2016, full as it was of ominous electronics and bleak soundscapes. But ‘Ghosteen’ takes the template a step further. Tragedy is at the very heart of this masterful record, with Nick’s deeply personal lyrics providing a captivating and at times heart-wrenching focal point. Frequent references to Jesus, and the presence of Eastern percussion on tracks like ‘Night Raid’, offer an ambiguous religious subtext - magnified by the presence of heavenly choral vocals (and even a rare Nick Cave falsetto). Disc One finale ‘Leviathan’ ends with a pining refrain - “I love my baby and my baby loves me”; “Peace will come in time,” he sings on opening track ‘The Spinning Song’. The feeling of loss is palpable, and despite the moments of hope that shine through the blackness, the presence of death is inescapable. Magnificently composed and emphatically emotive, ‘Ghosteen’ is an unforgettable piece of work. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Hollywood’
An unforgettable piece of work.
Hayden Thorpe - Diviner There’s something about this collection of songs that is so pure. It feels brave. This record isn’t about seeking attention, it’s about paying attention. You can’t help but sit back and listen. It makes for a beautiful record.
SADIE DUPUIS, SPEEDY ORTIZ
Marina Fages - Epica & Fantástica Argentine shredder Marina Fages, one of my long-term faves, leveled up with ‘Epica...’. The electronic, ephemeral kitsch of ‘Hardcore Disnei’ - à la Grimes-when-westill-stanned - sits comfortably alongside the synth-flecked indie pop weirdery of ‘Aventuras’, or the RPG bloops of 8-bit outro ‘Te Beso’. Marina’s pristine pop voice, drawn to flighty and indelible melodies, navigates deftly above it all. Hooks upon hooks boast a compositional savvy akin to Marika Hackman, but wrapped in the rainbow garb of fairytale fantasy. Of course I love it.
JACK PEÑATE After You (XL)
A lot has happened in the ten years that Jack Peñate has been away. Bowie is no longer with us, but his legacy of gender subversion lives on. Hip hop is outselling rock at a pace nobody could have predicted. And likely start-up Spotify has become, well... pretty popular. With all this and more, the boundaries of musical genre have melted away, leaving us free to flit wherever our ears desire, cherry-picking elements to create something of our very own. This lesson hasn’t been lost on Jack. ‘After You’ is something of a fever dream, an electric span of ideas that flit from one to the other. One moment he is hiding under flowing gowns of gospel (‘Prayer’), the next he’s floating in the sky with diamonds, looking for a “spaceship to escape” (‘Loaded Gun’) - discernibly one that’ll take him to the middle-eastern rave that soundtracks ‘Round and Round’s skittish energy, or the late-night alleyway of ‘Murder’s’ pulsing prowl. ‘Cipralex’ might take a few more doses before it has quite the uplifting effect of its title, but what it lacks in instantaneousness, it makes up for in spaciousness. By the time we reach ‘Swept To The Sky’, his transformation from indie-pop upstart to artistic troubadour is complete - all it took was some time away, a little soul-searching, and a swell of dramatic piano. Jack - don’t leave it another decade mate. (Jenessa Williams) LISTEN: ‘Round and Round’
WILLIE J HEALEY Hello Good Morning (YALA!)
(Third Man / Virgin EMI)
Yak’s ‘Atlas Complex’ EP comes barely six months after the release of second record ‘Pursuit of Momentary Happiness’. Recorded in early summer between Nashville and South London, the EP feels like a natural spin-off of Yak’s sophomore effort. ‘Am I A Good Man’ is the standout, with a tripping snare beat and a dancing bass line providing a groove to Oli Burslem’s swaggering vocals. Brassy horns and soaring strings seep in as the song grows, signalling the lasting influence of LP2 producer Jason Pierce of space-rock band Spiritualized. The title track’s giddy guitar melodies and percussive beat is sufficiently hypnotic, before the bizarrely themed ‘There’s A Turtle In My Soup’ provides a wakeup call with schisms of white noise distortion. ‘They Come, They Go’ closes the EP with another bang, making it clear enough that Yak - a band once in danger of stalling - are firmly on their feet. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Am I A Good Man’
Montreal outfit Corridor’s third album, their first for Sub Pop, was a rejuvenating exercise in musical efficiency: write and record quickly, and wield only the barebones essentials of two guitars, bass, drums, and occasional keyboards. Sung entirely in their native French, at its best, ‘Junior’ captures all the free-spirited urgency one might expect from such a creative process. Indebted to the dreamy pop of Animal Collective and Panda Bear, raw, high-energy stompers like ‘Topographe’, ‘Pow’, and ‘Domino’ sparkle with colliding guitars and barreling rhythms, the latter achieving a motorik-driven, psychedelic hypnosis. But the record’s commitment to the strippedback sound is often its downfall. The beautifully eerie closing ambient moments to ‘Goldie’, or the theatrical prettiness of ‘Milan’ convey a band of sophisticated vision, but certain reaches for the epic, such as the stodgy closer, ‘Bang’, suffer for their principles, sounding like halfbaked version of Grizzly Bear. (Connor Thirlwell) LISTEN: ‘Domino’
Oxford’s Willie J Healey’s latest EP provides an uplifting and, at times, dramatic sequelto 2018’s melancholy ‘666 Kill’ EP. ‘Songs For Joanna’ establishes an insatiable groove that rarely lets up across the four tracks on ‘Hello Good Morning’ - and Willie’s knack for a hook is on full display in this addictive single. With Americana guitar licks and a rollicking beat, he channels Parquet Courts and Unknown Mortal Orchestra at their best. Laid back beats and chiming pianos soundtrack ‘Polyphonic Love’ and the Tobias Jesso Jr.esque finale ‘Thousand Reasons’. Its bombastic, strings-laden chorus provides an emotional climax to the record, as he sings “I’ve got a thousand reasons to let you go, and I could write a thousand songs just to let you know.” Emphatic melodies, resplendent musical arrangements and stand-out lyrics make this short play a big hitter - it’s his best work yet. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Thousand Reasons’
PICK OF THE
POPS THEO POLYZOIDES, KING NUN
MT HADLEY Empty (Empty)
Frank Ocean uses his occasional ‘Blonded’ Beats 1 radio show to shine a light on the music flaring on his deeplyattuned radar. On one of his shows back in 2017, he spun MT Hadley’s ‘Janet’, an ode to the singer’s mother who passed away earlier in the decade. Two years on and it sits as the centrepiece of debut ‘Empty’. It still packs a punch. This is music channelled from a tortured soul. He interrogates an uncommunicative lover on ‘Read Receipt’ (“how can you not be there, it’s a mobile phone”), and ’First Floor’ documents a failed suicide attempt (“The neighbours complain of a nuisance”). It’s so bleak in fact, that you start to question whether he’s singing with his tongue a little clasped in cheek at times; especially as the latter’s premise is lifted from a Chris Morris sketch. He offsets these harrowing accounts in a mesh of sleek, hooky synth-pop. And while this approach in the wrong hands could stiffen the compositions, here Hadley makes it work in his favour as it only adds to the sensation of isolation he channels throughout. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘Janet’
LUCY DACUS 2019
After releasing breakthrough album ‘Historian’ and being one third of indie titans Boygenius, it’s safe to say Lucy Dacus had a strong 2018. This year she’s been recording songs themed around notable events - including, among small things like Christmas, Bruce Springsteen’s birthday. The Boss’ big one is marked with a pleasant but overly-faithful cover of ‘Dancing In The Dark. Her slow-burn ‘In The Air Tonight’ fares better, while ‘Last Christmas’ is the most divergent of the covers, adding a punk blast to Wham!’s original that’s both charming and bratty. Her original tracks are the true standouts: ‘Forever Half Mast’ is a gorgeous take on her begrudging acceptance of America, while ‘My Mother & I’ is a heartfelt exploration of Lucy’s relationship with her parent - it’s one of the strongest tracks she’s put to tape. There are some gems nestled in this 7-track run that are well worth a look. (Tom Sloman) LISTEN: ‘My Mother & I’
HANNAH DIAMOND Reflections
Aldous Harding Designer ‘Designer’ is full of perfect songs. Nothing is over complicated, everything feels the way it should be. It’s got strange and wonderfully shaped melodies; it’s beautifully performed and I love its melancholic bliss. Thanks Aldous.
Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center It was an indie dream day to have Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst release a whole record together, and we’re by no means surprised that it’s freaking fantastic, but IT. IS. SO. GOOD. Haley has cried multiple times to these songs over the past few months, which is a good thing!
When Hannah Diamond arrived in a hail of high-gloss glitter and bubblegum-scented smoke with ‘Pink & Blue’, it was hard to know what to make of it. As mysterious as it was catchy, it was a real heady brew: even if you hated it, it had you in its clutches. Here, she proves it was no one-off. From the thrill of trance banger ‘Concrete Angel’ to the twinkling e-lullaby of ‘Never Again’, her long-awaited debut is ‘90s pop reflected through the lens of a generation raised online. The excitement and apprehension about love that she conveys, meanwhile, feels childlike; a vomit of feelings. It’s clear that Hannah Diamond loves pop music above all else. Her passion is intoxicating, drawing you into her world in the most direct way possible. Like flicking over to Kisstory on a whim, ‘Reflections’ wants to makes sure that it brings a moment of pure, unadulterated fun. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Shy’
TOM ARMSTRONG, DEMOB HAPPY
Anderson .Paak Ventura Our ears can most often be found doused in the music of years past rather than present, but this record jumps out at you from the first bar. It’s just irresistible with its creamy future-funk sensibilities. A little softer than his previous albums and reading like a stack of love letters shuffled with a few poignant postcards of social commentary, the record is a banger. Plus it has features from André 3000 and Smokey Robinson!
TURNOVER Altogether (Run For Cover)
JIMMY EAT WORLD Surviving
(The Orchard / RCA)
Against the backdrop of vocalist/guitarist Jim Adkins describing ‘Surviving’ as an album outlining his return to control from self-doubt, the understanding of the title also takes on a new meaning. ‘Delivery’ outlines a belief in continual potential (“the life we build we never stop creating”), whereas ‘Diamond’ encourages listeners to refrain from external pressures and to take your time in life. While the Garbage-esque ‘Recommit’ and synth-led ‘555’ mistakenly opt for something slicker, the record generally is a bombastic showing of rousing vocals and big choruses. Moments of political commentary sneak in too, such as the moral subversion of ‘Criminal Energy’, but overall this is an unfiltered and defiant release. 25 years in, Jimmy Eat World prove that simply surviving can be much more than accepting a limp existence. It leaves the door open to continue doing something great. (Ben Lynch) LISTEN: ‘All the Way (Stay)’
On their fourth album, Turnover combine elements of jazz, disco and funk with their trademark indie-rock. Opener ‘Still In Motion’ begins with a lounge-style intro eventually leading to delayed chord progression and Austin Getz’s soft vocals. ‘Much After Feeling’, meanwhile, offers an infectious bassline, hinting towards a newfound love of pop. This is key to Austin’s songwriting on ‘Altogether’, having stated that he “wanted to keep in mind the beauty of pop music” while writing. The synth and percussion on ‘Sending Me Right Back’ also reflects this, mirroring late ‘80s R&B. The short but sweet ‘Ceramic Sky’ makes reference to the band’s ‘Peripheral Vision’ era. Incorporating psychedelic tones whilst also being heavily jazz-influenced, it leads gracefully into the second half of the album. Penultimate track ‘Plant Sugar’, however, is certainly one for the more indie section of Turnover’s fanbase, with a clear nod to New Order. A laid-back album ‘Altogether’ may be, it still leaves a sense of anticipation as to where the group will head next. (Dan McGrath) LISTEN: ‘Sending Me Right Back’
Dark electro-pop isn’t exactly new territory for PVRIS, but the heady mix of electronic licks and club dancefloor beats that’s woven through ‘Hallucinations’ quite clearly marks the start of a new era for the band. The five-track EP sees the trio become even slicker, more confident, with each of its tracks pulsating with an energy that somehow acts both restrained and explosive. While their previous two albums saw them sit proudly in a much more ‘alternative’ bracket, it’s clear that - thanks to contributions from the likes of Marshmello and JT Daly, among others - the band are surely going to be major mainstream chart-botherers from now on. Even the more delicate, piano-led ‘Things Are Better’ manages to sparkle with synths and hints of auto-tune, before the crunchy throbs of ‘Old Wounds’ provides a dizzying close to their newest offering. An intensely gratifying segue-way between the band’s past and present, whatever comes next from the three-piece is sure to be their boldest move yet. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Hallucinations’
BROOKE CANDY Sexorcism (NUXXE)
Horny Tumblr users rejoice - Brooke Candy is here to sate your desire for female-friendly porn. Self-confessed ‘Sex Witch’ and ‘Priestess of Sluts’, debut album ‘Sexorcism’ is an ode to all things down and dirty, reclaiming female sexuality without any major-label censoring. Her mission is admirable, and when it hits the spot, you’ll know about it - ‘Cum’ channels the clubby, choppy energy of Azealia Banks’ back catalogue, ‘Swing’ makes a star out of rapper Bree Runway’s flow and ‘Rim’ uses wobbly Detroit house and Drag Race Queen cameos to underpin its anthem dedicated to...well, you get the gist. And therein lies the problem - while in small increments ‘Sexorcism’ feels incredibly empowering and progressive, when you go 12 rounds on the trot, it fast becomes a law of diminishing returns, clumsy in its own damp puddle. You can’t accuse Brooke of not having all of the right moves, but just occasionally, she could do with learning exactly when to pull them out. (Jenessa Williams) LISTEN: ‘Cum’
Gigantic Disappointment (self-release)
THE NINTH WAVE Infancy Pt. II (Distiller)
Rather than this ‘pt. II’ being the second half of a two-album epic along the lines of what Foals have dished up this year or we’re expecting from The 1975 come February, it’s simply the second half of The Ninth Wave’s debut album ‘Infancy’; the literal B-side to its ‘pt. I’, released earlier this year. It makes for a strange listen: physically, it’ll be alongside its older sibling as one unit, so while yes, the mood the group crafted first time around continues apace, it’s also a bit like being given only the second half of a book, or entering the cinema half way through a film. Elements make sense - and in ‘Infancy pt. II’’s instance that definitely means the sprawling, bleak ‘Unspoken’ - but the whole thing can’t help but beg the question - why?. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘Unspoken’
DRONES CLUB Big World (Joyrider)
After four years of self-mythologising, ‘Big World’ is not a debut album that arrives without considerable aggrandising from the band. Drones Club are apparently not merely the three-piece from Tottenham that they appear, but instead “a radically inclusive organisation with fluid boundaries and ambitious ideas on how society should function”. The problem is that this LP entirely lacks the sonic facets that such music demands by default; it is not punchy, inventive or original. Perhaps the biggest achievement is how thin they’ve managed to make the omnipresent 808 sound; it’s that, and the unremarkable vocals, that are the two constants as we’re taken on a journey through pseudo-soul (‘Earth’), pseudo-disco (‘Fearless’), and pseudo-synthpop (‘Family’). There is the occasional flicker of the atmosphere you suspect they were aiming for - something quietly discomfiting about ‘Storm Drain’ - but in general, ‘Big World’ falls dramatically short of the bluster that accompanies it. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Storm Drain’
There’s a sense that perhaps there should be something about this second Tourist record of the year that justifies its existence; that it should be self-evidently the back half of the same movement. And, yet, there are no grand gestures here - no neat point at which it cosily dovetails with February’s ‘Everyday’. Instead, it’s the unabashed sound of William Philips throwing his latest batch of ideas at the proverbial wall and seeing what sticks. He seeks to assemble this handsome collection of electronic vignettes around a core of slick production, sparingly-used vocals and instrumental vibrancy. ‘Elixir’ is a case in point, and so is ‘Kin’ - or more abstract affairs, like the low-key disquiet of ‘Fiction’, which is scored through with the gently unsettling scratch of static, or the palate-cleansing tentativeness of ‘11.12’. Tourist is best known for his work with the blockbuster likes of Sam Smith but if that sort of thing is helping fund such thoughtful diversions as this one then all the better. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Fiction’
Missed the boat on some the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
The conception of ‘Gigantic Disappointment’ coincided with significant upheaval in Lande Hekt’s artistic life. In addition to marking the first time she’s stepped away from longterm band Muncie Girls, the recording process saw her leave Exeter in favour of the remote hill regions of Australia. The result is a debut laced with a tangible sense of movement and self-discovery. ‘Carpet’ is an anthemic refusal to be walked over, while ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Everything Ends’ hold the sort of clarity that accompanies newfound sobriety. Standout track ‘The Future’ is Lande’s attempt to spotlight “climate change and how we are all running out of time.” Heavy subjects perhaps, but paired with soaring instrumentation - a homage to indie pioneers such as The Replacements and Sleater-Kinney - it’s a winning combination. Calling your debut EP ‘Gigantic Disappointment’ was always going to be a bold move. Thankfully it does not live up to its billing. (Jack Johnstone Orr) LISTEN: ‘The Future’
BIG THIEF Two Hands
It’s a blissful listen from start to finish from Adrianne Lenker and pals.
JULIEN CHANG Jules Full marks for exploration, but he’s at his best when he strips things back to their most spinetingling.
KING NUN MASS
The quartet’s longawaited debut is a gorgeous display of a close-knit clan finding their voice and coming of age.
THE GROWLERS Natural Affair (Beach Goth)
13 years and six albums in, The Growlers are still masters of blending catchy pop choruses with dark, sleazy grooves; of mixing unabashed optimism with after-hours vignettes of neon lights and cheap red wine. ‘Natural Affair’ is full of melodies and sentiments so sweet they’d sound sickly coming from anyone else, but somehow - through a combination of wailing synths, distorted guitars and singer Brooks Nielsen’s gruff vocals - they make it work. Closer ‘Die and Live Forever’ is a prime example, where against all the odds the line “Love together, suffer together / Laugh and cry together” sounds cool rather than corny. Elsewhere in the album - songs take unexpected turns and Brooks’ lyrics are far less straightforward, full of pleasing wordplay and strange idiosyncrasies. The resulting album may not radically build on its predecessors, but it does contain enough quality to suggest beach goth doesn’t need reinventing any time soon. (George Wilde) LISTEN: ‘Coinstar’
Universal Heartbreak Now (East City Rockers)
Sometimes, when you really want to embrace and confront the sadness, you need to do it alone. For Naomi Baguley, that means going solo for a bit after a great run in Leeds punk band Bruising. Ruthie is her space to breathe, working together with former bandmate Ben Lewis to put her voice front and centre. Throughout the course of this EP, tinged with country and a splash of classic pop, she builds pictures of how small moments can have big impacts. Closer ‘Twenty Forty Seven’ sees her trying to understand just why a break-up doesn’t feel as bad as she expected. A short and sharp EP, ‘Universal Heartbreak Now’ is a realisation that, whatever we’re going through and however badly we’re spat out the other side, we’re always able to pick ourselves back up. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Twenty Forty Seven’
COMING UP GENGAHR Sanctuary
The North Londoners’ third full-length saw them hit the studio with pal Jack Steadman. Released 31st January.
GIRL RAY Girl
FALSE ADVERTISING Brainfreeze (Alcopop!)
Girl Ray’s debut ‘Earl Grey’ wasn’t exactly our cup of twee. Mawkish lyrics and humdrum indie-pop melodies left it all feeling a tad pedestrian. Second effort ‘Girl’ finds the band at a musical crossroads: there’s now a refreshing electronic influence, harkening back to the glory days of classic R&B. Singles ‘Girl’ and ‘Show Me More’ are intoxicating combinations of funk-laden hooks, retro synths and siren melodies. Alas, under the surface lurk familiar gremlins. ‘Go To The Top’ is a return to overtly quaint imagery, whilst the highly-awkward peacocking of ‘Just Down The Hall’ sounds like a lost Cardigans b-side. Only rarely can the listener form more than an ephemeral bond. ’Keep It Tight’ and ‘Friend Like That’ have an all-for-one gang mentality akin to chats with old friends. Unfortunately, it otherwise feels like watching strangers from across a dance floor. (Jack Johnstone Orr) LISTEN: ‘Show Me More’
Fuzz is fun. There’s not enough fuzz around in 2019, it’s all reverb this, flanger that. Remember the good old days, when you couldn’t move for fuzz? Everywhere you looked it was fuzz, fuzz, fuzz. Remember that? False Advertising do. Second album ‘Brainfreeze’ is rammed full of frantic grunge pop that’ll have you digging out your plaid and Fender Jaguars in no time. Still, while ‘90s rock is definitely the trio’s main point of reference, there are a few moments where they jump out of their comfort zone. ‘You Weren’t In My Dream’ breaks through the fuzz into surreal, almost Lynchian chamber pop, while ‘At The Top’ has more than a hint of early Radiohead, suggesting that, in time, the group could evolve into something quite special. With ‘Brainfreeze’, False Advertising have started something interesting. It’s not perfect, but then grunge never was about perfection, was it? (Jack Doherty) LISTEN: ‘At The Top’
GEORGIA Seeking Thrills The drummer-singer-producer follows up her self-titled debut with more pure pop lead by single ‘About Work The Dancefloor’. Out 10th January. TWIN ATLANTIC POWER The Glasgow-based now-trio release their fourth album - embracing the electronic on the way on 24th January.
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Simon’s got his ‘going OUT out’ trousers on.
The boys are back in B-town BIFFY CLYRO Digbeth Arena, Birmingham. Photos: Emma Swann.
hen a band has grown to the size of festival-headlining titans, the novelty of seeing them in a decidedly more intimate setting never really goes away. And that’s what makes this Jack Daniel’s Presents show at Birmingham’s 3,000-capacity Digbeth Arena so invigorating: it feels like a rare opportunity to see someone this big in a much smaller setting. First up, it’s Sound of Summer winners, Lacuna Common. Tonight, things are a little different to what the group are used to - it might be a smaller affair for Biffy Clyro, but this is the Oxford band’s biggest gig to date – but even so, they pack their set full of ragged energy and a sense of youthful chaos.
In contrast, Another Sky’s set is altogether more intense. Having spent the last year honing their talent for creating a heightened atmosphere in the live space, theirs is a set filled with sonic gravitas. Vocalist Catrin Vincent feels more like a commanding but enigmatic conductor, leading her band through the haunting likes of ‘Apple Tree’ and ‘Chillers’ and it’s difficult not to be moved by their foreboding yet beautiful offerings. Unsurprisingly, by the time Biffy Clyro hit the stage, there’s a tangible sense of anticipation in the air. Having spent most of 2019 off the road, with only a handful of shows taking place around their Isle of Wight headlining slot, their return to Birmingham bursts into life with the tremendous adrenaline rush of (sort of) new track ‘Balance, Not Symmetry’. Characteristically undressed to the waist - with frontman Simon Neil sporting some rather nifty glitzy red trews - it takes the trio mere moments to whip up a frenzy, further proving why they find themselves at the top of so many fest bills these days. It’s not all about their latest musical projects though. While outings for older tracks like ‘Glitter and Trauma’ and ‘There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake’ show off their leaner, more ferocious side – and provide an unexpected treat for any early fans in the crowd - it’s classics like ‘Mountains’ and ‘Bubbles’ that still rouse spirits, feeling like jubilant, almost-otherworldly anthems ten years on since their first release. And that’s what makes Biffy Clyro so brilliant, even eight albums in; there’s little ego or judgement at play here, just an intense wish for a bloody good time. Safe to say they make good on that. (Sarah Jamieson)
PALE WAVES Kentish Town Forum, London. Photo: Patrick Gunning.
t’s been a year since Pale Waves released debut album ‘My Mind Makes Noises’, and it’s been pretty much non-stop for the group since then.
From supporting labelmates The 1975 on their huge early-2019 UK tour, to wowing festival crowds worldwide, the Manchester-formed fourpiece - made up of Heather Baron-Gracie, Ciara Doran, Hugo Silvani and Charlie Wood - have become one of the UK’s most beloved bands this year. It’s no real surprise, then, that their biggest headline show yet is a celebration. Before the doors even open, there’s a spiralling line of eyeliner-loving teens weaving down the road, buzzing at the fact that they’re about to see their faves. Perhaps one of the most special things about this - and every Pale Waves gig - is the overwhelming sense of inclusivity that the group champion at their shows, and tonight the Forum feels like one big family gathering, albeit, one where family members favour fishnets and pleather trousers... As the lights dim and squeals echo around the packed room, the quartet emerge, diving into heavy-hitters ‘Eighteen’, ‘Kiss’, ‘Red’ and ‘Television Romance’, giving the crowd no chance to take
a breather. “What the fuck is up, London?” Heather smiles, before the group break into set highlight and Certified Banger, ‘The Tide’. Next up is newbie ‘Tomorrow’, an impactful pop-punk number about holding on until tomorrow, which sees Heather defiantly stating that “sexuality isn’t a choice” - a statement written on the back of her leather jacket. It’s an electrifying injection of new material into their set, something that has been noticeably lacking from the majority of their performances this year, and the crowd’s reaction shows how much people have been waiting for some brand new goth-pop gems in their lives. Sadly our only glimpse at what the foursome have been working on, they continue with ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ cuts ‘My Obsession’, ‘Drive’, and ‘Came In Close’, before Heather performs an emotional solo acoustic version of ‘Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die)’, a tribute to her late grandfather. ‘Noises’ and ‘There’s A Honey’ close the show with a triumph and initiate huge singa-longs throughout the room, signing off the group’s biggest headline slot with one of the slickest performances that they’ve delivered in a while. (Elly Watson)
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KANO Royal Albert Hall, London. Photo: Jonathan Dadds.
t only took a matter of minutes for Kano to sell out London’s Royal Albert Hall when tickets were up for sale in July this year. The politically-charged lead single ‘Trouble’ was the only song from his .forthcoming album sent out into the ether at the time; the five minute chop-up of soul, dramatic soundbites and gospel choirs suggested that he might be on to something special. These suspicions were validated as the 10 tracks that made up ‘Hoodies All Summer’ materialised in August; it’s quickly become regarded as his master work. Riding high on a career peak, tonight’s show at the Royal Albert Hall is a celebratory homecoming for the elder statesman of grime. Mid-set, he takes a moment to take in the endless thundering howls which fill in the gaps between every song, beaming and visibly overwhelmed, he simply says, “I dunno what to say - I’ll find my words”. Even before the lights go down, the sense of occasion builds as a full string section, brass band and six-person gospel choir floods the stage. Eventually Kano emerges slowly from stage-left, and like each musician on stage, he is adorned in crystal-white clothing head-to-toe. His breathless flow brings the dramatic swells of opener ‘Free Years Later’ to boiling point; the outro’s stammering staccato synth pulls at the tension which resolves in a warm gospel vocal harmony. The scenes of East London conjured throughout Kano’s wordplay and back-catalogue stand in stark contrast to the opulent dwellings of the Royal Albert Hall. Lyrics such as “and these gunshots never reach your town / it’s never on top when you leave your house” feel particularly pertinent ricocheting off the venue’s iconic mushroom-shaped diffusers that hang from the ceiling. “This is my city,” he shouts in pride as the house lights go up - judging by the rapturous reception to this battle cry, it’s safe to say the people agree. (Sean Kerwick)
THE MURDER CAPITAL Bodega, Nottingham. Photo: Lindsay Melbourne.
pener ‘Green and Blue’ is preluded by a throbbing bass note and guitar feedback, similar to that of an air raid siren; a warning for the mayhem that will eventually ensue inside the - unsurprisingly - soldout Bodega. Frontman James McGovern holds a consistent thousand-yard stare, and the rumbling of the rhythm section builds a sense of anticipation. ‘More Is Less’ sees the band flick a metaphorical switch, in stark contrast to their earlier onstage persona. Despite seeming to lose all concept of spatial awareness, they’re completely in sync for a mesmeric run through of one of the best moments of the night. ‘Don’t Cling to Life’ continues the madness, with Jarvis Cockerstyle dance moves being thrown around by the majority of the band. However, this energy is brought back down again during the emotional ‘On Twisted Ground’. Performed in complete darkness, it’s clearly a track that means a lot to the band, James emotional as the lights are raised at its end. The band’s ability to change their physical and musical dynamics is later reflected through ‘Slowdance I’ and ‘II’, the frontman leaving the stage during the latter as the rest of the band perform the threeminute instrumental. The chanted “As the feeling fades away / the tearing streets create a wave” of ‘Feeling Fades‘ echoes through the venue signalling the near end to the show. As all but the drummer joins the mosh pit in front of them, this band are not just there to perform but enjoy themselves as much as everyone. This is still only the beginning for this quintet; there is so much more to come. (Dan McGrath)
THE BIG MOON The Lexington, London. Photo: Jamie MacMillan. “ Welcome to The Big Moon experience 2.0,” says bassist Celia Archer. “You’re going to be the first to hear some new songs tonight.” Here’s the great thing about The Big Moon: they have fun. There’s a smile on each of the four-piece’s faces that can’t be helped. They jump around the stage, locking-in with each other’s instruments and smiles, as if it weren’t four women performing at a packed room in The Lexington, but instead four girls dancing around their bedrooms. The joy they take is a joy the audience shares in: their faces are lit up, as they join in with Juliette Jackson’s lyrics. For the swaggering ‘Bonfire’, always bound to whip up the crowd, Jules jumps into the crowd, singing forehead-to-forehead with them, grinning. ‘Cupid’ and ‘Formidable’ both carry anthemic weight in contrast with a thinly-veiled softness, and inspire as much moshing as they do swaying arm-in-arm with your mates. And while the group’s sonic signature is twinkling indie-pop, the new material we hear tonight toys with a new approach. ‘Don’t Think’ is an infectious groove in the vein of HAIM, while homespun ballad ‘Waves’ has Jules laying her heart bare. Tonight is the first time the band have performed the song, and there’s a sense of intimacy during its debut that’s unlikely to be replicated again. (Sophie Walker)
TOUCHÉ AMORÉ + DEAFHEAVEN
Electric Ballroom, London. Photo: Tash Greene.
onight’s sold out London show means a lot to Touché Amoré. Joined by co-headliners Deafheaven, their return to Camden’s Electric Ballroom feels like a momentous occasion, not least because they find themselves celebrating the tenth anniversary of debut record ‘...To The Beat of a Dead Horse’. As ever, the Californian post-hardcore band are on fine form, blitzing through tracks from across their discography with a real intensity. It’s tracks from their incendiary first two albums - ‘...Horse’ and ‘Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me’ that make up the bulk of their breakneck set here though, with the relentless percussion of their early tracks segueing seamlessly into one another. An accomplished, cathartic display, punctuated perfectly by the soaring ‘Skyscraper’, it all draws to an exhilarating close with ‘~’. In almost direct comparison to the quick fire nature of Touché’s set, Deafheaven are a much more meandering beast. Playing just six songs - to the 23 performed in the previous hour - their brand of black metal is a dense, multi-faceted offering. Propelled by the spiralling guitar solos of opener ‘Honeycomb’ - which the crowd find themselves singing along to, as opposed to the scorched vocals of George Clarke - their set is a heady mix of atmospherics and darkness, which predominantly shows off newest record ‘Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’. Together the two co-headliners stand for each end of the spectrum, marking this evening as a true celebration of heavy music, and the power it bears. (Sarah Jamieson)
IT’S YOUR ROUND A big inter-band pub quiz of sorts, we’ll be grilling your faves one by one.
THIS MONTH: ANOTHER SKY Location: Digbeth Arena, Birmingham. Drink: Various. Cost: Free (on the rider)
Wetherspoons 1. Where was the first Wetherspoons located? Jack: It’s somewhere kinda bleak, it’s not Bedford, but it’s like Bedford. It’s somewhere fucking weird. It’s not Sheffield... It was Muswell Hill. Jack: Ah that’s embarrassing.
It was after the sheriff in the TV series the Dukes of Hazzard.
2. ...and what was it originally called? Naomi: For fuck’s sake! Jack: The Muswell Tavern? Catrin: Why did we pick this, guys? It was Martin’s Free House. 3. Who is, or was JD Wetherspoon? Catrin: He really loves Brexit. Jack: Oh! Wetherspoon was the guy’s teacher at school. You can have half for that. Any idea where the JD is from? Max: Jack Daniel’s?
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4. What is the Wetherspoons dress code? Naomi: Whatever the fuck you want. “Customers are requested to remain fully clothed throughout their visit, including wearing shoes.” [all laugh] 5. Who makes the famous Wetherspoons carpets? Jack: I’ve seen the book, there’s a book published about Wetherspoons carpets. Max: I’m lost, I can’t. Catrin: ...Wendy’s Carpets? No, Axminster Carpets.
1. Which political leader was elected President of South Africa in 1994? Jack: Was it Nelson Mandela? It was. All: Yes! [air punching] 2. In 1768, the first edition of which book was published? Catrin: Charles Dickens? Max: No, which book? Catrin: The... rabbit one? [all laughing] you know, she drew the rabbits. Max: Who’s she? Naomi: Shakespeare? It was the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Max: Fuck, we would never have got that.
what? Catrin: War. Yes. 4. Which dinosaur, when translated from the Latin, means ‘swift robber’? Catrin: Velociraptor? That is correct. All: Woohoo! Max: That was insane! 5. Which song was Oasis’ first Number One in the UK singles chart in April 1995? Jack: ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’? No, it was ‘Some Might Say’. Jack: Ohhhh, god.
3. In Roman mythology, Mars was the god of
Verdict: “We really sucked at these.”
TO YOUR DOOR
FREE. NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE 91 DIYMAG.COM SET MUSIC FREE
DIY THE 1975 2019 84 DIYMAG.COM