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PLUS POPPY BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB THE BIG MOON MURA MASA SLØTFACE

FREE. FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE 93 DIYMAG.COM SET MUSIC FREE

one man’s mission HOW KEVIN PARKER QUIETLY TURNED TAME IMPALA INTO GLOBAL ICONS


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FEBRUARY FEBRUARY FEBRUARY FEBRUARY FEBRUARY FEBRUARY FEBRUARY FEBRUARY Listening Post

What’s been worming its way around DIY’s collective earholes this month?

Welcome

CREEPER - SEX, DEATH AND THE INFINITE VOID

Having ended phase one with a dramatic disappearing act, gothpop favourites Creeper return in typically theatrical form with the most gloriously OTT album title in recent memory and a record of emo brilliance to back it up. Welcome back, chaps.

DEAP LIPS - DEAP LIPS

Question!

It’s our first issue of a brand new decade! What are Team DIY’s optimistic resolutions for the new roaring twenties? SARAH JAMIESON •

Managing Editor The list of self-improvements I’ve got for this year is pretty hefty, but I’m gonna try and stick to at least two: continue to read more, and attempt to push myself out of my comfort zone every once in a while. Maybe.

EMMA SWANN • Founding Editor

Find some gaffer tape to shut up that nasty little voice in my head. Also take more photos, because obviously.

LISA WRIGHT • Features Editor

Having recently filed my tax return (snore) it turns out I spend approximately 98% of my disposable income on wine and Ubers so… maybe sort that out? Probably won’t?

LOUISE MASON • Art Director I have two. 1) Be less competitive. 2) Win everything.

The collaboration between Deap Vally and Flaming Lips might have a name that makes you recoil, but get past that and you’ll find a surprisingly restrained listen from the rock’n’roll twosome and their legendarily oddball new pals. Pucker up.

RADIOHEAD - CREEP

The Oxford lot announced the Radiohead Public Library this month - an online resource containing “everything [they’ve] ever done, more or less”. A useful tool or an attempt to make people stop still streaming ‘Creep’ and listen to their other songs? Bit of both?

Editor's Letter

2020 is here! Not only is it a brand new year, but it’s also a whole new decade. And to celebrate the occasion? We’ve put together one of our most jam-packed issues yet! No, seriously.

In our first issue of the ‘20s, we meet Tame Impala, perhaps Australia’s most unexpected superstar, and discover how Kevin Parker finally feels ready to embrace life as a modern music icon. We catch up with old friends Bombay Bicycle Club, as they release their first album since reuniting last year, hang out with our favourites in The Big Moon and meet enigmatic and subversive new star Poppy. Plus, we get the lowdown on a whole new raft of albums that are set to land this year including new uns from Dream Wife, Shame and Phoebe Bridgers! Told you… Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor

ELLY WATSON • Digital Editor

To stop ruining random people’s cute Instagram story vids of gigs with my horrendously loud and out of tune drunk singing.

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C O N T E N T S 4 DIYMAG.COM

NEWS 6 DREAM WIFE 10 SHAME 12 PHOEBE BRIDGERS 18 LA ROUX 22 SUPERGRASS NEU 30 SINEAD O’BRIEN 32 LAZARUS KANE 37 OSCAR LANG

Shout out to: Georgia at The Old Blue Last for being a STONE COLD LEGEND and helping us book a sick Hello 2020 line-up, Meesh Bryant for helping make the insane Poppy shoot work, Blackpool Empress Ballroom for hosting our cover shoot, Espero Studios, DIY snapper Lindsay and husband Paul on the birth of new baby Dylan, and Sparkles our new DIY office dog for being the greatest thing to ever happen to any of us. Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor Lisa Wright Digital Editor Elly Watson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Alex Cabré, Andy Backhouse, Ben Lynch, Ben

Tipple, Chris Hamilton-Peach, Connor Thirlwell, Dominic Penna, F E AT U R E S Greg Hyde, Hayley Millross, Jack Doherty, James Bentley, Jenessa Williams, Joe Goggins, Kasimiira Kontio, Louisa 3 8 TA M E I M PA L A Dixon, Martin Toussaint, Patrick Clarke, Rob Hakimian, Rosie 46 THE BIG MOON Hewitson, Sean Kerwick, Sophie Walker, Tom Sloman 50 MURA MASA Photographers Ed Miles, Fiona Garden, Joyce Lee, Phil Knott, 54 POPPY Phil Smithies, Robin Pope, Sinéad Grainger 5 8 S L Ø T FA C E Cover photo: Phil Smithies 6 0 B O M B AY B I C Y C L E C L U B This page: Poppy, by Phil Knott

REVIEWS 64 ALBUMS

For DIY editorial: info@diymag.com For DIY sales: advertise@diymag.com For DIY stockist enquiries: stockists@diymag.com

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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.


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We’ve got songs with feelings, and rage, and all that’s in between.” - Rakel Mjöll 6 DIYMAG.COM


albums ofof2020:

dream dream wife wife

Not content with putting out an incendiary debut album, Dream Wife spent their first years as a band creating an entire, inclusive world around them. Now, they’re getting ready to welcome everyone back in for a second time. Words: James Bentley.

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ince the release of their selftitled debut at the start of 2018, Dream Wife have carved out an increasingly-exciting niche for themselves in a way that most artists could only, well, dream of. The trio performed 150 shows that year alone, conquering Europe, America and Australia while becoming some of indie’s most recognisable advocates for female empowerment and gender equality. Perhaps it’s an unlikely trajectory considering the band’s modest art school project roots, but as they embark on an exciting new chapter, they’re gearing up to do it all over again. Borne out of a period of exhaustion, reflection and a renewed sense of purpose, the band’s second record is currently receiving its finishing touches, its release slated for later in the year. Speaking from “the best possible wifi location in Somerset” (bassist Bella Podpadec’s parents’ house), singer Rakel Mjöll is looking back on the rollercoaster journey that took them to their current tipping point, about to helter headfirst into the as-yetuntitled album two. “It’s been crazy,” she exclaims. “We never had any room for expectation before the album came out. We were completely wrapped up with touring for quite a few months before, and then when it was released we didn’t really come home for a year. That period was all about enjoying the moment - but also just trying to keep all our physical strength to endure it at the same time. It became our profession, and it took over our lives.” While the trio count their recent trip to

Singapore for the all-female Alex Blake Charlie Sessions Festival as a highlight, for much of 2019 it was important to take a break from the stage in order to write again. “After two years of touring non-stop we were exhausted. We had to take some time to really reconnect with family and friends again,” she continues. Recovery and re-assimilation would be pivotal in kick-starting the writing process for album two, much of which took place at Bella’s home studio in Somerset, where the countryside surroundings inspired the band to rediscover their creative spark. “We realised we hadn’t really made songs together for a while, even though we had become stronger as a unit and really tight as a band,” says Rakel. “But as soon as we gave ourselves time and space, and started doing it again, we were excited. We felt re-energised. “It’s the opposite of how the first album came about,” she continues, referring to earlier songs that would often be written on tour between shows and cities. “This record still has that rawness; it still fits the same model. But having time to write songs and do them properly means there was no need to rush them. It inspired us to be silly, energetic and sassy. We’ve got songs with feelings, and rage, and all that’s in between. The songwriting is better this time - there is balance.” With recording sessions helmed by producer Marta Salogni taking place at Pony Studios in London Fields, any suggestions of second album struggles were swiftly thrown out the window. “It all came together very easily,” says Rakel. “We just clicked when we met Marta. She

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has that musical ear. We left the studio every day feeling wonderful, and that’s how you should feel when you’re making an album.” Alongside Marta, the record was put together using an all-female production team. Though the band state that this was a happy coincidence, it’s also endemic of what the trio perceive to be an improved presence of women in the industry, something they have rallied for since their inception. “Bad bitches to the front” has long been a live show policy for Dream Wife - a way to create a safe space for women to express themselves. But one of the band’s more creative steps to support women came towards the end of 2019. The ‘Tour Support Reimagined’ LP, released in October, was the culmination of an ambitious touring plan to have gender non-binary or female-fronted artists support the group at almost every stop on a 50-date stint across the UK and America in 2018. The band’s sound engineer collated live recordings of the performers, which were then remixed by guitarist Alice Go for the final release. All profits were donated to Girls Rock London, a charitable organisation dedicated to empowering women through musical opportunities. “Within a week we got about 450 responses to that initial open call, which was pretty amazing,” says Rakel. “The acts had

such interesting stories about the scenes in their towns, but a lot of them were the same. Often there were male promoters who would just book their friends’ bands for support slots every time an exciting headliner came through town. A lot of the non-binary and female-fronted bands couldn’t get their foot in the door because they weren’t in that friend group. “I think that shows that you need to share a platform to be able to get to the next one. That community is a platform in itself,” she continues, “you don’t have to be part of the promoter’s club. So the project was really all about taking people seriously as songwriters, and creatives, and people - getting all these groups together so they can make stuff together and continue that relationship.” Much of Dream Wife’s music stems from personal experiences about “living in a female body,” and it remains a theme on album two - but Rakel believes that it’s the listener’s interpretation that holds the most value. “‘Somebody’ was written about being judged for your body or

“You need to share a platform to be able to get to the next one; community is a platform in itself.” - Rakel Mjöll

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albums ofof2020: your gender, and things like slutshaming,” she explains of their anthemic 2017 single. “But in Portland, for example, there was a blind man in tears who said that when he heard that song he felt his disability was not him. He’s a human being - that’s what he got out of that song. That meaning then becomes the song, regardless of what our intention was when we were writing it.” “Now that we’re doing our second album, I feel especially excited to see how the songs are going to resonate with people,” she says. “There’s one song that confronts abortion rights. It’s told from my family’s perspective; it’s my family’s story. It comes from very close to the heart, so I’m intrigued to see how it will come out.” But in the meantime, with “three music videos” currently being made and an “incredible live show” in the works, the band are steeling themselves for the next chapter. “We’re just excited to play this album and see who it connects to,” grins Rakel. “To go to places we haven’t been before and share it with different kinds of people.” “It’s going to be the whole shebang, and a damn good show wherever we go,” says Rakel. “That’s the plan, and we’re excited.” DIY


VICTORIA PARK LONDON E3

CARIBOU

GLASS ANIMALS WHITNEY

ROLLING BLACKOUTS C.F. KELLY LEE OWENS

HOLY F + MANY MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED

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Working hard or hardly working?

albums ofof2020:

shame shame

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albums ofof2020:

every night and make every moment a party because it was a spare moment. I had a form of stability again and I didn’t know what to do with it.

Crash-landing into indie’s premier league with debut ‘Songs of Praise’, Shame have been on a round-theworld trip of gigs and gallivanting ever since. Knuckling down for its follow up, get ready to join the whirlwind all over again. Words: Lisa Wright.

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harlie Steen is hungover. This time around it’s because he and his bandmates have been gifted a few days off in the middle of recording; having been cooped up in the residential studios of rural La Frette for the first half of the month, naturally they hopped on a train for a Parisian piss-up to celebrate. But really, since the release of debut ‘Songs of Praise’ back at the start of 2018, giddy nights and groggy mornings in various corners of the world have become de rigueur for Shame. Australia, Brazil, Japan, Iceland, Thailand... hearing about the singer’s recent travels is a bit like listening to a truncated UN roll call; having started as 20-year-old urchins, prone to frequenting some of south London’s muckier corners, two years later, the quintet are seasoned global explorers. It’s perhaps no surprise then, that when it came time to go home for a bit, the adjustment was a stark one. “A lot of the album is about how, after those two years of touring, I had to get used to waking up in my flat, going to Sainsbury’s, eating some pasta, falling asleep and that just being the day,” Charlie begins. “I still wanted to go out and get fucked

“Lyrically, [it’s made the new album] more about identity; a lot of my friends are all in similar positions where you’re at an age where people are a bit anxious and there are tidal waves of emotions as to where you wanna go in life or what you wanna do,” he continues. “It’s interesting that you can meet all these people around the world, but everyone’s still having these common thoughts. It doesn’t matter what someone’s doing or who they are, it [boils down to] each unique individual’s purpose.” The practicalities of endless touring had started to worm their way into the singer’s psyche, too. “I became a lot more introverted because you don’t ever have any fucking privacy,” he snorts. “The only time you’re on your own is when you go to the toilet, so you do a lot of

If you’ve caught Shame at one of their many festival jaunts over the past year, you’ll likely have been witness to some of their new wares. Mostly still operating under working titles (“they’ve all got names like ‘Baggy Bagsworth’ and ‘Nigel Hitter’ – actually, those two tracks are pretty good!”), their live versions are ones that suggest the cathartic, direct satisfaction of Shame is still intact, but this time their lyricist is digging a little deeper. Though he states that there are “definite curveballs” including – !! – a couple of tracks with piano on them, they’re still a live band, first and foremost. “I don’t think anyone in the band wanted to go into the studio without having played all of the songs at least once live; it’s how we’ve always done it and it’s the only way we know how to do it,” he states. “We still wanted to keep the ‘Songs of Praise’ essence, but we wrote that when we were 16 to 19 and we’ve written this between 20 and 22. I don’t know how many brain cells you gain or lose in those years, but maybe it’ll become apparent when we release it...”

“After you’ve driven 10,000 miles in six weeks across America, you’re really at the core of your inner being.” Charlie Steen thinking. After you’ve driven 10,000 miles in six weeks across America, you’re really at the core of your inner being, internally.” If that all sounds a bit existential, then you probably wouldn’t be far off. Today, Charlie flits between deep-and-meaningful musings and extolling the boozy virtues of living life to the full (the band’s current studio set-up is essentially an “Addam’s Family-style mansion” filled with music equipment, cheese and a lot of wine – safe to say, the singer is happy). His life has become a strange party filled equally with both, and it’s this duality that looks set to come to the table on their as-yet-untitled, James Ford-produced forthcoming second LP.

What Shame may have lost in beer-soaked memory, however, they seem to have gained in something resembling maturity. Though the band have always been smarter, more diligent lads than their chaotic outside might suggest, it’s clear, having gone further than they ever might have imagined, they’re not taking their wild ride for granted. “The latter half of last year when we were writing, we practiced five or six days a week, seven or eight hours a day. We really got into a zone and were strict with ourselves,” he explains. “Our job is sitting in a room with your mates getting to play music. To be able to do an album, let alone a second album, is a massive gift.” DIY

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phoebe phoebe bridgers phoebe bridgers bridgers The prolific singersongwriter is heading into her hugelyanticipated second solo LP with a little help from her friends‌ Words: Jenessa Williams.

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hoebe Bridgers is telling us about her new favourite Instagram account. “Have you seen @ SwipesForDaddy?,” she asks. “It’s this page where this girl my age made her age limit 45+ on Tinder, and then she posts the messages she gets. It sounds exploitative and kind of sad, but it’s so interesting: every now and then, she ends up having this super deep conversation with someone, and they’ll have this really genuine moment. It’s a weirdly beautiful page. Would recommend.” And if there’s anything about Insta-dating that Phoebe can wholeheartedly relate to, it’s forging connections in unlikely places. Her 2017 debut ‘Stranger In The Alps’ found beauty in the darkest of human emotions, rendering her as something of an emofolk icon, wise beyond her then-23 years. Fast-forward to 2020, and she’s barely stopped. Supergroups boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Centre have taken her on loops around the world, and place her back in LA on the cusp of her much-awaited second solo record, which, as she puts it, is just about ready to go.

“There’s bits on this record that do feel weirdly like a sequel.”

“It’s weird ‘cause with the two bands, we were just like, fuck it, let’s just put this stuff out immediately. But then with this record, I actually get to give a shit about which single is coming out first, artwork, videos…” she explains. “It takes me forever to write records, and I like taking a really long time to make sure everything is great. I’ve often written my favourite songs for a record right at the last minute, so the longer between recording the first and the last one the better because that’s how I get the gold at the end.”

“I’ve made so many friends, and there’s definitely a ton what she’s of them on the atFrom liberty to tell us, PB2 could record.” be a goldrush. She

mentions a little more of an electronic sound this time, but reassures that anybody who fell in love with ‘Stranger...’ can expect a similar lyrical landscape, strengthened by her experience of working with other people. “Doing boygenius especially definitely changed the songwriting process - the whole ethos of the band was to stop second- guessing

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yourself,” she says. “I always do this thing where I’m like, ‘Here’s this song, this might suck’. And then I play it and my friends suggest changes, and then I’m like, ‘Oh, I wasn’t serious. I was just being humble, but now you don’t like it…fuck!’. So we talked a lot about not doing that. Just being more… not being a dick, but just trying to be as confident as the people around me.

“There’s bits on this record that do feel weirdly like a sequel,” she continues. “I have a song about being locked out of my house, there’s one about the apocalypse, still lots of death. I basically write the same song over and over and then look to my producers and my bandmates to help me make them sound different. None of it is super surprising to anyone who has listened to my music...” So nothing on the more uplifting side then? “Ha, no! I mean, the music that I find uplifting is maybe not what other people find uplifting. There are songs which if you were to read them off the page, you’d be like, ‘What the fuck, this is so depressing’. But, listening to them, I think it sounds a little bit more victorious,” she nods. Misery loves company, and the singer is certainly not short of a talented friend or two. Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner has been popping in and out of the studio, and word on the Twittersphere is that Phoebe’s also been hard at work with a little-known group by the name of The 1975… “I’m not sure what I’m at liberty to say about their stuff,” she divulges, “but knowing and working with them in general has been… Maybe it’s growing up in LA, but working with people - especially if they’re handsome rock stars - you expect them to be dicks. But they’re all so nice and they’re all just fucking nerds. We talked about emo deep cut records, like real Midwest emo, for like the first three hours of knowing each other; it was a dream. Even if people aren’t playing on the record it’s been nice to have people’s input and such. I just feel like my community goes so much harder this time. I’ve made so many friends, and there’s definitely a ton of them on there, which feels really good.” Having packed more records into four years than most acts manage in ten, the key to being Phoebe Bridgers seems to be a willingness to throw herself in, full pelt. “I write about very specific people or things – friends will hear my songs and know exactly who I’m talking about,” she laughs. “It’s really hard to push that back. I wrote a kind of diss track on my first album and I was really worried about it, but then by the time the record came out I was just like, fuck you anyway. I’ve comforted myself with that thought [with the tracks on this new album]...” Uncompromising, self-aware and with the co-sign of a bunch of talented mates? That’s how ‘Strangers…’ become good friends. DIY

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the strokes “The 2010s or whatever the fuck they were called, we took them off, but now we’re unfrozen and we’re back,” drawled Julian Casablancas at The Strokes’ NYC NYE show before debuting ‘Ode To The Mets’: an introspective, cathartic introduction to the legends’ forthcoming sixth LP. Their last - 2013’s ‘Comedown Machine’ - was a polarising affair, but in the past year, the still-impossibly-cool quintet have returned to the live stage, proving (aside from some heartwrenching London show sound issues) that they’ve still more than got it. Having started the 2000s by absolutely ripping the decade a new one, here’s hoping they can do it again, 20 years later.

IDLES Having birthed ‘Joy As An Act of Resistance’ barely more than a year after breakthrough debut ‘Brutalism’, IDLES’ imminent third is - by their standards - almost a long time coming. But everyone’s favourite Bristolians have been using their relentless touring schedule wisely, debuting some of its wares including chaotic, largely-instrumental set-closer ‘Danke’, and the brittle rallying cry of ‘Grounds’. In a recent interview with Zane Lowe, meanwhile, frontman Joe Talbot revealed that their newest is being helmed by hip hop producer Kenny Beats (whose previous collaborators include Vince Staples, JPEGMAFIA and more). Yes please.

albums of 2020:

BIG ONES BIG ONES There are some pretty bloody massive artists lining their ducks up for a much-anticipated release this year, too. These are the records set to dominate the airwaves over the next 12 months…

biffy clyro What have Biffy Clyro been up to recently, you ask? Not really a band to just sit back and put their feet up, the trio may not have followed up 2016’s ‘Ellipsis’, but they’ve still remained pretty darn busy. In fact, in the last two years alone, they’ve still managed to release two new full-lengths - their ‘MTV Unplugged’ live record, and last year’s film soundtrack ‘Balance, Not Symmetry’ - but this year they’re set to return with a new album proper. Returning to work with producer Rich Costey, the band’s James Johnston has recently said it’ll be “a lot more rocking than ‘Ellipsis’ was.” Watch this space...

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hayley williams Usually, the post-Christmas, pre-NY lull is all leftovers, bad telly and daytime pyjama wearing. This time, however, we got a first announcement from Paramore’s Hayley Williams about a new solo project. After weeks of teasing - floral-featuring video snippets, a LOT of billboards in cities worldwide - she finally shared single ‘Simmer’, in late January. Written alongside Paramore’s Taylor York and live member Joey Howard, and produced by Taylor, it’s the first taste of what will be debut full-length ‘Petals For Armor’, set for release on 8th May.


FEBRUARY KELE 11OSLO, LONDON SAINT PHNX FEBRUARY UK TOUR FEBRUARY THE MURDER CAPITAL UK TOUR CAGE THE ELEPHANT FEBRUARY UK TOUR MARCH TORS 13 SCALA, LONDON HAK BAKER MARCH UK TOUR MARCH PALACE UK TOUR DERMOT KENNEDY MARCH/APRIL UK TOUR 21 APRIL DO NOTHING THE LEXINGTON, LONDON MAY RINA SAWAYAMA 21 ELECTRIC BRIXTON, LONDON BAMBARA MAY UK TOUR MAY L DEVINE UK TOUR

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Fame

The Strokes - Is This It

The album that heralded a new indie Year Zero at the start of the century, changing music history with every riff. Words: Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy.

2007, and Shia LaBeouf is plastered all over the big screen, wearing a Strokes T-shirt in Transformers. Like The Rolling Stones’ puckered red lips before them, its appearance in a Hollywood blockbuster seemed to acknowledge a truth indie kids had known for a while: Julian Casablancas and pals had crossed over into the iconic. Seeing your icons become nostalgic faves may remain a strange pleasure, but you don’t get there without myth, and the group’s seminal 2001 debut ‘Is This It’ came into a world hungry for guitar bands to make the idea important again. Nu-metal’s offerings of generational icons had been ignored, while the years that preceded the New Yorkers’ entry can largely be summarised as the age of beige: David Gray, Travis, Coldplay, the list goes on. When five effortlessly cool young men kicked down the door, hailed by all as rescuing a supposedly comatose genre, they were gobbled up hungrily. Listening back to ‘Is This It’, however, you can understand the hype: across 11 songs,

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THE

FACTS Released: 27th August 2001 Standout Tracks: ‘Last Nite’, ‘The Modern Age’, ‘New York City Cops’ Tell Your Mates: ‘Is This It’’s iconic leather-gloved cover was deemed too racy for some, and replaced in certain territories with a picture of subatomic particle tracks. SQUARES.

the quintet concocted an arsenal that was economical, immediate and elegant, but volatile at the same time. Julian Casablancas remains a thrill to listen to, half-mumbling, half-roaring tales of disconnect and druggy abandon with a voice that earned him a place at the top table of NYC’s great frontmen. His drawled delivery made perfect sense over Gordon Raphael’s lo-fi production; many may have criticised the album as sounding under-produced at the time, but the near-live presentation feels intimate, like you’ve stumbled on a secret. Outside of New York, the amount of “what if?” scenarios are overwhelming: aside from opening the door for modern indie anthems to have crossover success, would we even have Arctic Monkeys, The Killers (who reportedly threw all their old material out after hearing the record), The Vaccines etc etc etc were it not for The Strokes? ‘Is This It’ may still be the bar that its five creators will forever be trying to match, but more than perhaps any other record of this century, it’s earned its place in rock history. DIY


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sound &

“Regretting anything is pointless. If you learnt something, then it wasn’t a waste of time.”

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“If I was reading this in someone else’s interview I wouldn’t believe it,”

says Elly Jackson. She’s telling us how, at the end of 2017, on a remote, rubbly path on the Greek island of Paxos, she had a breakdown that would change the course of her life. Her deal with major label Polydor had become so frayed and acrimonious that it had all but fallen apart, and in that moment she decided to scrap the entirety of what was supposed to be the third La Roux album, some three years’ worth of work. In her personal life, a relationship of ten years was collapsing too. “My partner and I were on holiday together

recording in 2014, she remembers “a huge lack of confidence in me as an artist to carry on. ‘The talent’s left the room!’,” she declares with a mock-pompous flourish. “That was bandied around a lot…” The aura of ‘Supervision’ is in contrast, she says, one of freedom. “I really do feel like it’s more about having space to breathe, not being scared of all the new spaces that are opening up around me and knowing how to fill them. I have a much better handle on myself, and I think that’s what this album really represents,” she explains. Its title is pointed too: a reference both to her mishearing of the word as ‘super vision’ during a conversation with a friend, and the lack of regulatory influences that she’s enjoying after splitting with Polydor and forming her own label, Supercolour Records. Throughout today’s interview, Elly repeatedly expresses her desire to avoid anything that would make her feel “dirty” as an artist, however much

Vision 2014’s ‘Trouble In Paradise’ may have proved an all-too-relevant title, but with new LP ‘Supervision’, La Roux’s Elly Jackson is striding out on her own and swearily taking back control. Words: Patrick Clarke. Photos: Ed Miles.

and we were walking to this quiet beach,” she remembers. “There was absolutely no-one around, and I guess I just started having a panic attack. I remember crouching down on the floor, not able to breathe. I just said, ‘I’ve never been this unhappy’. I just crashed on the floor. I hadn’t been being honest with my partner, or my family, or myself, about how unhappy I was. My family thought I was just running away from the whole thing. ‘You’re really gonna just walk away from three years’ work? Are you fucking mad?!’ It took me a while to convince everybody that it was as bad as I was saying it was.”

Though it’s been five and a half years since the last La Roux album, new release ‘Supervision’ only actually took five months to write and record. It was a five-year wait for the last record too, the pointedly titled ‘Trouble In Paradise’, but they were very different half-decades. “That record itself is great, but its aura wasn’t right. All the wrong energy was put into it,” Elly sighs. After one half of La Roux, producer Ben Langmaid, left the project halfway through

money it might earn her, whether that be playing corporate gigs or getting big-name artists to rap a verse or remix a track. She says it was partly her refusal to put those principles aside that led to her relationship with the label breaking down. “I remember having a massive fuck-off argument where two DJs’ names were mentioned, and I just lost it,” she recalls with a sardonic laugh. “It was right at the end of the relationship and I was like, ‘I’m just not fucking doing it! I’m not going anywhere near it! I’m not having my name next to theirs. I won’t be seen dead!’. And they were like, ‘Who do you think you are? Who the fuck do you think you are to turn down millions of pounds? What sort of cunt turns down millions of pounds?!’ And I was like, ‘You’re not offering me millions of pounds! You’re offering me to gamble and sell all my integrity, any shred of respect I have left!” “I’ve never missed the thousands of pounds I could have earned from doing any of this stuff,” she explains. “I’m much, much happier that I can look back and I don’t want to vomit.” She says she’d rather work in a pub than be back on a

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major label. “Music is not just a commodity to be sullied and played around with in the mud so you can make your fucking buck,” she says, her voice rising a little. “I honestly, honestly, honestly think that when people treat music like that, it hurts. I can’t watch it. It’s like you’re fucking around with my best mate.”

now that’s why I’ve got Supercolour Records, and I wouldn’t have this album had all that shit not happened to me. It’s a bit like all the bollocks when you’re a kid - you get bullied, but it puts a massive rocket up your arse. Some people, they just cower, but if I get angry - and I usually get really angry - then I think about how I want to do something positive about it.”

Though the years she spent fighting for it were tumultuous, it’s obvious just how much Elly is relishing the freedom surrounding her latest release. “I’m loving singing it; I’m loving talking about it; I’m loving embodying it,” she smiles. In her eyes, ‘Supervision’ is more of a “coming of age album” than a breakup album. In hindsight, however, is there any advice she might offer to her former self, 21-years-old and on the verge of releasing the platinumselling debut that first thrust her into uneasy stardom? She pauses, thinks hard, then laughs. “I think it’s impossible, because whatever anyone told me, I would have told them to fuck off!” she exclaims. “The amount I didn’t understand around that time led me down some really stupid avenues, but at the same time I wouldn’t take any of it back, because

Though you get the sense that there’s still some dust to settle, Elly affirms that “regretting anything is pointless”. “There are so few scenarios in life I can think of, even the worst scenarios, where you don’t come out better off mentally. If you learnt something, then it wasn’t a waste of time,” she nods.

“[The label] were like, ‘Who do you think you are? What sort of cunt turns down millions of pounds?!’”

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Looking back at that day in 2017, when she broke down on that rubbly path, Elly Jackson is living proof of that point. “Everything had just torn apart in all areas of my life,” she reflects, “and I had this fight or flight mode all the time. But also, that meant I felt like everything was new again. I think people often wonder in life whether they’re ever going to get that feeling they had when they were 18 again, when everything was so fresh, when you first go to parties or when you first fall in love. I genuinely didn’t think I would ever feel that feeling of newness and wonderment again. I think that’s why I was so down. But now I have been feeling like that. I don’t know what’s coming, I don’t know how things are going to turn out for the first time in ages, and it’s such a feeling of relief. It’s just a really nice feeling to have again.” ‘Supervision’ is out 7th February via Supercolour. DIY


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f Oasis were the boisterous lads of the Britpop playground, Blur the precocious Grade A students and Pulp the art nerds, then Supergrass were the ADHD kids in the year below, full of fizzing energy, nipping excitedly at their heels at every turn. In the likes of 'Alright' and 'Caught By The Fuzz', the quartet built up an early arsenal that charged gleefully out the blocks like the very sound of youth itself; now, 25 years after debut 'I Should Coco', the slightly-older boys in the band are taking the show on the road once more for an anniversary tour, kicking off later this month. “The expression on the audience's faces, everybody was smiling ear to ear; we all really felt that connection that doesn't really go away,” begins frontman Gaz Coombes of the band's recent warm-up shows, their first since splitting a decade ago. “It works for me when it's loose and nothing's too calculated; it just needs to be free and explosive and exciting. Listening

SPONSORED back to all the old outtakes and sessions, it's any wonder that we ever finished a record; there was so much amazing nonsense. With us it was always about vibe, and vibing off each other and how we push each other forward without that over-professional intensity of what we had to achieve.” Yet, over the years, Supergrass achieved a lot, and now - alongside the tour - they're gearing up to release a comprehensive retrospective boxset: a reminder of exactly why they've earned their place in British music history. “I always approached [the band] in quite a visceral way, and early on it was a case of riding the wave and seeing where it takes you,” says the singer. “I never had a view or a plan of where I wanted us to end up, and I didn't ever really think we'd be doing this [anniversary], but all these dates were aligning and we're all getting older. I don't know if it would have ever happened if we didn't do it this year, so we thought, let's just have a blast and do it for the fans that have stuck with us.”

ALRIGHT, STILL

25 years after the release of debut ‘I Should Coco’, Britpop’s cheekiest tinkers Supergrass are reuniting for a celebratory once-round-theblock to toast its quarter-century. Words: Lisa Wright.

DIY’S PICK OF

LNSOURCE

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.

The Murder Capital Nationwide, from mid-February One of 2019’s breakthrough stories, the Irish quintet begin this month at Manchester’s Academy 2, before hitting up venues in Glasgow, Nottingham, Bristol, London, Sheffield, Birmingham and Liverpool.

Hak Baker

Bit old to be playing knock down ginger, aren’t you lads?

Nationwide, from mid-March East London singer-songwriter Hak follows October mixtape ‘Babylon’ - and a Mike Skinner cosign - with a string of shows taking in cities including Leeds, Birmingham and three nights at London’s MOTH Club.

IAMDDB

Nationwide, from early March Manchester artist IAMDDB follows latest single ‘Famous’ with a string of UK dates as part of her European tour, playing Glasgow’s SWG3 Warehouse on 1st March, Brixton Academy the following night, then Birmingham O2 Institute and the Academy in her home city on 4th March. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource

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HAVE YOU HEARD? “Fuck sake, we’ve missed the start of Love Island…”

THE 1975 - Me & You Together Song Channelling some early ’00s Busted vibes, ‘Me & You Together Song’ is an upbeat pop banger that could seamlessly fit onto the pop-punk trio’s self-titled 2002 album. Basically, if Busted tried to write their best ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’, it would sound a lil’ bit like this. “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,” Matty told us for our November 2019 cover interview. “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.” An anthemic love bop tracing Matty’s efforts to profess his feelings, the rose-tinted glasses behind which the story is told are reflected perfectly in the jingly tune that Matty called a ‘Drive Like I Do’ style song, and it’s destined to invoke a sense of nostalgia for those old enough to remember the ‘What I Go To School For’ glory days. (Elly Watson)

HAYLEY WILLIAMS Simmer

PORRIDGE RADIO Sweet

RINA SAWAYAMA Comme Des Garçons

Given Paramore’s transformation from pop-punk heroes to pop powerhouses, and a steady line in endorsing acts she’s into, when Hayley Williams announced her impending solo material, the only certainty was that it’d feature her voice. ‘Simmer’, the first taste of debut album ‘Petals For Armor’, sees her taking cues from ‘90s triphop, pairing restrained vocals with skittish beats, and using hypnotic guitar loops to echo the bottled-up anger of its message. And not unlike its title (cleverly repeated in quick succession come the chorus, as if both mantra to herself and a cry for help), ‘Simmer’ is a perfect slow-burner. (Emma Swann)

Brighton outfit Porridge Radio have lifted the lid on album ‘Every Bad’ with a hearty serving of cathartic goodness. ‘Sweet’ is a headlong dive into a purgative ocean, featuring the sort of internal reflection only possible after the passing of time. “I used to be ashamed - until I learnt I loved the game,“ croons Dana Margolin, delivering her words with the urgent glee of new discovery. This spirit of growth combines with dynamic instrumentation to create an atmosphere that ebbs and flows like the Hove waves themselves. Forgive the porridge pun, but this one hits just right. (Jack Johnstone Orr)

If recent hard-hitter ‘STFU!’ - a metal-influenced slammer that Grimes would trade a few Tesla shares for - seemed to suggest that Rina was headed in a new, harsher direction, then on ‘Comme Des Garcons (Like The Boys)’, it’s a slightly underwhelming return to the more established sleek pop purveyor of old on offer. There are pleasing, bubbling beats, and its repeated refrain (“I’m so confident - like the boys”) is less than subtle, but that’s sort of the point. But, though the singer’s latest is perfectly serviceable, when its predecessor felt like an absolute game-changer, ‘CDG’ is just... fine? (Lisa Wright)

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CREEPER Annabelle If you were expecting the next track from Creeper’s forthcoming new album to be ‘Born Cold’ mk ii, well, that was never really going to happen. Displaying their penchant for playful pomp and circumstance, with ‘Annabelle’, the goth-pop six-piece give us a first real taste of the dramatic flare that’s clearly embodied within their next record. Leaning on their more classic rock influences – nabbing a little from Bowie here, a touch of Queen there – it’s an enticing peer inside the world of ‘Sex, Death and The Infinite Void’ and the mysteries that could well lie within. (Sarah Jamieson)


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FESTIVAL NEWS IN BRIEF

festivals Weather- appropriate attire at the ready, it’s been a bumper month for festival lineup announcements.

¡Hola Madrid! Charli XCX, Glass Animals and Rex Orange County are headed to Mad Cool.

California Dreaming Frank Ocean, Rage Against The Machine and Travis Scott to headline Coachella

Since we last went to print, Madrid’s Mad Cool (8th 11th July) has added to a lineup that already boasted artists including Billie Eilish, The Killers, Wolf Alice, Pixies and Foals.

This year’s Coachella lineup has been announced, with Frank Ocean set to get his fill of ‘Super Rich Kids’ across two weekends in Indio, CA (10th - 12th and 17th - 19th April). Rage Against The Machine will bring their second reunion to the event too, with the third headliner rapper Travis Scott.

Charli XCX, Glass Animals, Rex Orange County, Angel Olsen, Clairo and Placebo are also set to appear at the festival.

Lana Del Rey, Run The Jewels, BROCKHAMPTON, FKA twigs and Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes will also be hitting the Californian desert, with IDLES, Charli XCX, Beabadoobee, girl in red and Mura Masa among those additionally confirmed.

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Taylor Swift is the second GLASTONBURY (24th - 28th June) headliner announced, making her Worthy Farm debut on the Pyramid Stage on the Sunday night. KENDRICK LAMAR will headline BST Hyde Park on 5th July, with James Blake and Brittany Howard also set to play the event. Other acts performing as part of this year’s series include Little Mix, Pearl Jam and Taylor Swift. Tyler, The Creator, Skepta, Charli XCX and Georgia are all set to play this year’s PARKLIFE (13th - 14th June) in Manchester’s Heaton Park, with Robyn, AJ Tracey, Little Simz and Hot Chip also featured on the bill. More bands have been added to SXSW (16th - 22nd March), with Soccer Mommy, PVA, Mush and Ratboys joining the mammoth bill for the Austin, TX bash.


Black Country, End of the Road The buzzy newcomers join headliners Pixies, King Krule, Angel Olsen and Big Thief at the Wiltshire bash. T

FESTIVAL NEWS IN BRIEF

The Strokes have been added to Lisbon’s NOS ALIVE (8th - 11th July), joining artists including Billie Eilish, alt-J, Kendrick Lamar and more. Public Practice, King Nun and A Place To Bury Strangers have been added to New York event NEW COLOSSUS (11th - 15th March), joining previously-announced names including LIFE, The Orielles and Kiwi Jr. 2000 TREES (9th - 11th July) will host Creeper, Lucia and the Best Boys, False Advertising and more this year, in addition to headliners Jimmy Eat World. Liam Gallagher and Foo Fighters will play ROCK IN RIO Lisboa (20th - 28th June), alongside The National and Post Malone, with more acts set to be announced. Dave, Stormzy, Aurora and FKA TWIGS are all playing this year’s ØYA (11th - 15th August), with Koffee, Michael Kiwanuka, Kvelertak and Floating Points also confirmed. Easy Life have been confirmed to headline Dot to Dot (22nd - 24th May), with Alexandra Savior, Chartreuse and Drug Store Romeos also set to play. Dream Wife, Lazarus Kane, Egyptian Blue and PVA are among the latest names for RITUAL UNION Bristol (28th March), joining the likes of Marika Hackman, Talk Show, Squid and Porridge Radio.

END OF THE ROAD will this year be headlined by Pixies, King Krule, Angel Olsen and Big Thief, with the return of Bright Eyes, plus Little Simz, Arlo Parks and Whitney among the acts also confirmed to appear. The festival takes place between 3rd and 5th September in Wiltshire’s Larmer Tree Gardens.

Great Expectations 29 acts have been announced for The Road To The Great Escape in May. Not content with taking over Brighton for a few days in May, The Great Escape will preview the seaside shenanigans with a series of live events in both Glasgow and Dublin under the guise of ‘The Road To The Great Escape’. Walt Disco, Oscar Lang and PVA are among the acts who’ll appear at King Tut’s in Glasgow on 9th and 10th May, while Dublin venues Academy 2, The Grand Social, Tramlines and Lost Lane will play host to artists including Master Peace, The Pale White, Noisy and Strange Bones.

Stormzy weather Stormzy, slowthai and Lykke Li will play this year’s Pohoda. Hot on the heels of new album ‘Heavy is the Head’, Stormzy has been confirmed for this year’s Pohoda (9th 11th July). He’ll be joined by fellow new additions slowthai, FKA twigs and Glass Animals at the Slovakian event. Artists already announced for the festival include Wolf Alice, Shame, Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes and The Libertines.

From the BH (beach) house BROCKHAMPTON, The Strokes, Lana Del Rey and Tyler, The Creator are among those Primavera Sound-bound. Barcelona’s Primavera Sound have announced their 20th anniversary bill, with BROCKHAMPTON, The Strokes, Lana Del Rey, Tyler, The Creator, Beck, Pavement and King Princess all finding themselves near the top of the bill. Also included in those confirmed to appear are Earl Sweatshirt, Kim Petras, DIIV, King Krule, Shame, and Caroline Polachek.

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FESTIVAL NEWS IN BRIEF

Bombay Bicycle Club, The Big Moon, Easy Life, Pale Waves, Sundara Karma and Swim Deep will all play Oxfordshire’s TRUCK (31st July - 2nd August). Foals, The Magic Gang, Marika Hackman, Phoebe Green and Pale Waves are all set to play KENDAL CALLING (30th July - 2nd August), with Supergrass, The Murder Capital and Johnny Marr also playing. FKA twigs, Bikini Kill, Mac DeMarco and Stormzy have all been added to the bill for Helsinki’s FLOW (14th - 16th August). Mabel, Michael Kiwanuka, Koffee and Chromatics will also join previously-confirmed headliner Bon Iver at the event. Bombay Bicycle Club, The Big Moon, Do Nothing and Gengahr will all play Lincolnshire’s LOST VILLAGE (27th - 30th August). Lana Del Rey, Four Tet, Disclosure and girl in red have been confirmed for Paris’ WE LOVE GREEN (6th - 7th June), with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Nils Frahm and Bad Bunny also appearing. Lizzo, Lana Del Rey, Tame Impala and Vampire Weekend are all headed to BONNAROO (11th - 14th June), with the Tennessee bash also hosting acts including The 1975, Brittany Howard, slowthai and Miley Cyrus.

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SHOW ME THE PUPPY WE LOVE DOGS. YOU LOVE DOGS. HERE ARE SOME POPSTARS’ DOGS.

This month: Felix Bushe from Gengahr and his pal, Spike. Name of pup: Spike Age: 2 Breed: Goldendoodle Favourite things: Wading through pond water, cheese and chasing foxes. Please tell us a lovely endearing anecdote about your dog: Spike is a keen geologist. He spends hours in the garden collecting potentially-precious stones and places them neatly in a pile for further inspection. Sadly he is yet to find anything of real value but the search continues...

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On the

‘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.

THIS MONTH: MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE

E

mos all over the world can rejoice! My Chemical Romance have finally returned, even after denying all those rumours that Joe Jonas decided to spread last year. The New Jersey goth-pop superstars – Gerard and Mikey Way, Frank Iero and Ray Toro – finally reunited and played their first show together in over six years right before Christmas in Los Angeles and, from what we’ve heard, it was quite the night. Luckily for us UK fans, we’ll get the chance to relive our eyeliner-clad years too, when the band play not one but two massive shows at Milton Keynes’ Stadium MK this June. And if you ever needed confirmation of their pulling power, they basically sent ticketing sites into meltdown. Now, from the top “When I waaaaas, a young boyyyyyy...”

Not content with ‘Space Cadet’, Bea’s trying for military honours this time. (@radvxz)

Justin, falling foul of a pyramid scheme. (@halloweensthemusical)

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. We clocked a fair few of them roaming around this past month…

Matty Healy and FKA twigs watching UK queen Baga Chipz at Ru Paul’s DragCon; half of indie (Dream Wife, Sports Team, FEET, Pixx etc) at DIY’s Hello 2020 shows; TV chef Gizzi Erskine down the front at The Libertines’ London show.

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Metronomy’s latest member didn’t last long. They were a bit wet. (@metronomy)


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Sinead O’Brien Top tier fashion designer by day, punk poet by night, Limerick’s Sinead O’Brien is a one-woman lesson in the power of dreaming big. Words: Lisa Wright. Photo: Louise Mason.

Sinead O’Brien’s life has always revolved around embracing and immersing herself in universes. When she was a child, her musical world was formal and classical; taking up piano aged six and learning with a teacher who was “really incredible but very intimidating and nerve-wracking”, she was all-but forbidden to play anything contemporary, instead submerging herself wholly in the composers of the past. “It was a bit like being a baby ballerina - it was either a lifestyle choice or nothing at all,” she remembers. “Piano was classical, and it was wrong or blasphemous to play pop music or rock music on it; it was bred into me that it was dirty and not right, so it never felt like the instrument for me to express things on.” As she got older, with the help of fellow Limerick friends Whenyoung, she began to discover New York’s ‘70s underbelly, greedily researching and absorbing the artists and creatives that informed that snapshot in time. “We had this book circle going around where we’d give each other copies when we were finished - Please Kill Me, and Lou Reed’s book and all of those,” she says. “Music and writing and poetry, and all these things that built a scene at that time. I still had no idea I’d end up writing things, but it started to build an image in my mind of this whole movement.” Then, after completing a degree in womenswear design, she upped sticks to Paris to intern for John Galliano. For the past six years, she’s worked with Vivienne Westwood, who she casually describes as a “mentor”. “They’re my ideal dream designers because it’s a whole narrative and aesthetic that they create,” Sinead nods. “Galliano was gone by the time I got there, but his earplugs were still in the bin and I remember everyone just wailing over them, being devastated.” It’s into a sensory, 360-degree world that Sinead’s music lands, too. One step on from spoken word poetry, hers is a particularly lyrical voice, an instrument in itself that plays off the post-punk guitar lines around her in an equally-weighted dance. Originally starting life as a means of documenting her new life in Paris to relay to her friends at home (“I wanted to distil it into something and show

people what I was seeing”), it was only when she was asked by a friend in London to read something at a Brixton Windmill show that Sinead began to think about how to present her wares. “At that point, the word was ‘read’ but I never really thought I would want to read something, so I immediately asked Niall [Burns, Whenyoung] to come up with something on guitar,” she recalls. “We had 20 minutes in the house before, and I just gave him some adjectives to play with, but even from the first time we did that it jumped from being ‘read words’ to something that was one step further. Music was a vessel for it, and it gave it a much bigger world for it to exist in. “I loved [that first show],” she continues. “I was so ill, but I did it and I didn’t feel any nerves. In the whole world, and in the whole context of who I am, this is when I believe what I’m saying so I have no problem doing it and I want to present it. It definitely feels right.” Meticulously thought-through and writing from the position of unguarded narrator (“I sometimes have these realisations when I’m performing where I feel naked, but that’s a good thing. I like the exposure; I like daring to be scared”), Sinead’s early output soon caught the eye of expert talent spotter and Speedy Wunderground main man Dan Carey, who brought her in to record debut single ‘Taking On Time’ last summer. Now, the pair have just finished laying down her debut EP. “He just knows how to get your thing into being and make something more like you than you ever even knew. He knows how to get you to become so alive and then you freeze it there,” she enthuses. “That sense of confinement [Speedy Wunderground tracks are all recorded within 24 hours] and limit is where I thrive; I think that makes me explode.” The EP, she explains, is designed to be “like the radius of a wheel”, offering different directions of interest as to where she could go next. “I want the freedom to go where I want to go,” she says. “I’m quite sure I’ll be there before and after whatever hype [comes my way], so I don’t really see myself in that.” But whichever way the next year takes her, at least Sinead can always count on one pal to have her back. “My friend likes to show [Vivienne] videos of me wearing Westwood suits on stage, and she seems to like the music,” she laughs. “She invented punk! But yes, she’s very supportive.” There are certainly worse people to have on side... DIY

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Lazarus Kane neu

Part jokester, part funk-pop pioneer, taking over the music world one wild statement at a time. Words: Elly Watson. Photo: Emma Swann.

Armed with a pair of sunglasses and his signature kimono, Lazarus Kane cuts a remarkable shape. But it’s not just his sartorial choices that are keeping the singer’s name on people’s lips right now: dropping funk-pop debut single ‘Narcissus’ back in September via Speedy Wunderground, and making waves with a handful of memorable performances (including a recent stop off at DIY’s own Hello 2020), he’s been inching his way up the hype lists ever since. Not that he’s particularly surprised. “I fully expected it,” he deadpans, sat in The Old Blue Last ahead of his Hello 2020 headline spot. “I’m surprised there hasn’t been more praise heaped upon me. I’m quite frankly shocked that I’m not nominated for any Oscars. The Golden Globes? I couldn’t even watch it. I expected fame and fortune and what I got was no fame and no fortune.” OTT declarations are very much part of the Lazarus Kane package. Allegedly growing up in the United States (we’re still not 100% sold on his questionable Southern twang), he began making music after buying a bunch of synthesisers to experiment with. “I started playing a few bars and got kicked out of them,” he reminisces. “The world, I guess, just wasn’t ready. But that was 30 years ago.” If his origin

“I’m quite frankly shocked that I’m not nominated for any Oscars.”

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story is to be believed, the singer must have one of the best skincare regimes in the game. Now based in Bristol (more likely), he’s currently working on getting some new music out, drawing inspiration from his life and conveying it through a “disco lens” - of course. “I’ve written, like, 40 songs and I’d say 35 are terrible but five are alright,” he decides. “I kind of just wanna do an album or something, but I don’t really make the decisions. I’m just a puppet to my managerial staff. They pull the strings and I dance like a monkey. That’s how I like it. I’ve always wanted to be someone’s little dancing puppet, and now I do it for two people! Dreams can come true, if you believe.” Music’s own Pinocchio might be turning heads on stage, but he’s also got some other plans for 2020. First up is getting healthy before his birthday. “I’m turning 46 on 31st December,” he lies, “and I’ve got a rolling subscription for Benecol and Activia that comes every week.” Oh, and he’s also working on a, probably totally definitely legit, Beyoncé collab. “You know how she did The Lion King? It was so good that me, her and Trent Reznor are going to do the score for a live action remake of Animal Farm. It’ll be like Cats, but with more fear…” You’ve been warned, world. DIY

Safe to say, Lazarus Kane would not make a good spy.


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T T R R U U C E S COACH

reputation.

Weirdo double-act introducing themselves to the world, one hypnotic chapter at a time.

If you’ve not yet heard PVA, chances are you’ve heard someone waxing lyrical about their live performance. First on at one of our Hello 2020 shows last month (see p36), the Londonformed trio of Ella Harris, Josh Baxter and Louis Satchell had the Old Blue Last ‘aving it large pre-watershed. A heady mix of thumping industrial beats, dance-punk and the lingering ghost of electroclash, with Ella’s wry lyrical style a highlight, the summer’s festival tents are theirs for the taking. Listen: The Speedy Wundergroundreleased ‘Divine Intervention’ is all you’ve got at the time of going to print. Similar to: If LCD Soundsystem had spent less time in NYC clubs and more at Balearic warehouse raves. .

We all love an origin story, and enigmatic newcomers TTRRUUCES are currently unfolding a particularly intriguing one. Taking us on a journey towards their forthcoming debut album, we first meet protagonist Sadie in emotional debut track ‘Sad Girl’ and Syd in the follow-up ‘Lost Boy’. Now, Sad Girl and Lost Boy are teaming up on their quest for ‘TTRRUUCES’, explored in their psychedelic, selftitled new track which blends mesmerising synths and trippy vocals. An absolute page-turner. Listen: Their self-titled newbie is GGRREEA AT T. Similar to: The musical equivalent of an un-put-down-able new read.

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Islanders with enough spunk to make it to the mainland and the mainstream. The Isle of Wight might have made its musical name with the festival’s OG incarnation as a UK Woodstock, but in recent years the event has become more chart fodder than counter-culture. Hoping to restore the island’s good name, however, come Coach Party: new signings to Chess Club and a band with precisely 117 seconds of recorded music currently out in the world. A little preemptive? Possibly. But they’re a very good 117 seconds, the kind that channel Elastica, Kenickie and the kind of two-fingers-up ‘90s badasses that you really want in your gang. Listen: ‘Oh Lola’ is a spiky, special introduction. Similar to: A 2020 update of the ‘90s sassiest stars.

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A little bit scuzzy, a little bit gritty, but with a good dose of melody and some guitar squalls for good measure, Madison, Wisconsin’s Disq are ones to keep an eye on. Freshlysigned to Saddle Creek with a debut album on the way, the five-piece may be relatively new, but they’ve already managed to create a particularly potent brand of post-punkmeets-pop-punk-meets-pop, and the results are sizzling. Newie ‘Daily Routine’ especially is the kind of chaotic riot Parquet Courts and FIDLAR would both be equally proud of. Listen: ‘Daily Routine’, the first track from their debut ‘Collector’. Similar to: If Joyce Manor, Parquet Courts, FIDLAR and Weezer all got together for a bit of a shindig.

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If Lynks Afrikka’s chosen moniker brings forth memories of school changing rooms and pubescent hormones, then thankfully the Bristol “performer, entrepreneur and religion” (his words) operates in a far more interesting, innovative arena than any of that. Meeting at the midpoint between ‘9 0s club kids and weirdo ‘00s innovators Late of the Pier, the likes of ‘Str8 Acting’ and ‘I Don’t Know What I Want’ are funny, knowing, experimental odd-pop bangers, replete with cheerleader backing chants and sassy one-liners at every turn. And he looks amazing, obv. Listen: ‘Str8 Acting’ is ‘Girls & Boys’ one step removed, sighing at the laddy hetero meat market. Similar to: That night you took that weird pill and you’re not really sure where you ended up, but it was AMAZING.

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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: C A ‘Fall

R O Apart’

An intricate offering, flecked with warm synths and deft guitar licks, the Leeds band’s latest might be a lyrically reflective affair, but there’s still accessible hooks that wriggle like a full-on earworm. S O P H I E J A M I E S O N ‘ W i n e ’ Following her return with ‘Hammer’ back in November after five years out of the spotlight, here’s another heartstring-pulling new number from Sophie and, in her own words, “the emotions in this song aren’t pretty.” Gulp. PLANET 1999 ‘ P a r t y ’ Part of the PC Music crew - they co-wrote and coproduced Charli XCX’s ‘February 2017’ this crystalline pop bop is taken from the French gang’s forthcoming debut EP.

BUZZ FEED All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.

Questionable chat Following their 2017 viral hit ‘Smoko’, Aussie punks The Chats are back with another bizarrely brilliant video for new track ‘The Clap’. A “cautionary tale about a root gone wrong”, it’s a lols STI anthem with some hilarious visuals to match, and it’s just as infectious as the title might hint. It also comes alongside the announcement that their debut album, ‘High Risk Behaviour’, will finally be arriving on 27th March.

Revenge of the banshee Fresh from being included in our Class of 2020, Talk Show have announced debut EP ‘These People’. Set for release on 27th March, it has four newies awaiting, with ‘Banshee’ out now. “At its core, ‘Banshee’ is a frustrated lovelorn tale,” frontman Harrison Swann says. “We didn’t want ‘Banshee’ to feel depressing or hopeless, more heartfelt and ardent.” Go listen to it on diymag.com now.

Bird of prey Bedroom-pop newcomer Conan Gray has shared news that debut album ‘Kid Krow’ will be landing on 20th March.“The record is a study of how I perceive the world,” Conan explains. He’s also shared beautiful album cut ‘The Story’, destined to give you all the #feels.

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7TH JANUARY Kicking off Night 1 are Sunderland’s own Roxy Girls, whose brand of post-punk comes littered with jarring changes in time signature, guitar squalls and intricate drum licks, all propelled by frontman Tom Hawick’s distinctive northern drawl. Almost as if Parquet Courts and The Futureheads got together and jammed to see what might happen, Roxy Girls spend their set teetering gloriously on the edge. Treeboy & Arc may also herald from more northern climes, but the Leeds outfit are an entirely different prospect. More chaotic and unhinged, their set swirls with frenetic guitars, set against a more synthetic backdrop, giving the entire thing a somewhat surreal feel.

HEAVY LUNGS

Having spent a good chunk of 2019 honing their live show, Heavy Lungs feel like real heavyweights when they take on the Old Blue tonight. Fresh from a hefty run of shows in support of their most recent EP ‘Measure’, the Bristol punks are on blistering form. It takes just minutes for the crowd to explode into life, with crowd surfers and mosh pits transforming the upstairs room. Leading it all is frontman Danny Nedelko, who spends the majority of the set either diving across the crowd and towards the back bar, or channeling the slick dance moves of Iggy Pop. With energy at a dizzying high, it’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and end the first night of Hello 2020. (Sarah Jamieson)

Hello••2020 Hello

14TH JANUARY With a full room and a queue snaking through the venue to Every January, DIY descends upon East London’s Old Blue Last for a fourthe front door, you don’t need a week series of gigs designed to get us off the sofa, and thrust us right back maths degree to see that there’s into live music’s sweet embrace. So without further ado, say Hello 2020 and a fair heap of buzz circling PVA get acquainted with some of the bands we’re most excited to watch for the right now. Amping up the clubnext twelve months. Photos: Emma Swann. ready aspects, they might look like an indie band but tonight they turn the venue into a rave; with flashing orange lights and relentless, spiralling beats, their finest wares veer almost into techno territory. Singer Ella Harris’ speak-sing vocal emphasises the post-punk influences but, while the trio can happily sit on a bill alongside more traditional band set-ups, they’d fit just as well at the drug-addled 3am apex of a warehouse party. Dublin’s Silverbacks, meanwhile, might have also pricked up ears off the back of excellent recent single ‘Sirens’, but you sense they’re still finding their feet in terms of exactly what kind of band they want to be. SLEEP EATERS

PVA

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Shades-clad and dressed like a bunch of law-evading cowboys, Sleep Eaters, however, are having no such identity crisis. Landing somewhere between Black Lips’ trailer park country vibe and Nick Cave’s brooding storytelling, the likes of ‘Life of Sin’ and ‘Bad Love’ are atmospheric, noxious things that turn the Old Blue Last into a back-alley bar, crying out for a fight. Closing out the night is the enigmatic Lazarus Kane, who leaps on stage sporting his signature #lewk of a sunglasses and kimono combo. New song ‘Get Clean’ sees his sixpiece backing band flexing their musical muscles, cowbells at the ready, with an unabashed disco flair, and the whole affair ignites a big bizarro dance-a-thon. By the time Lazarus himself is dancing around - kimono, long gone - and cracking jokes in his American twang (which we’re still not sure is legit), it feels like we’ve been transported into some chaotic, alternative Bo Burnham musical comedy skit. But we would be lying if we said we weren’t 100% into it. (Lisa Wright, Elly Watson)


Oscar Lang Slacker-pop wunderkind and the latest export from the Dirty Hit factory. Words: Andy Backhouse. Photo: Louise Mason

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“It feels like we’re all in the middle of an ocean, in a ship, getting through it, and you forget that the audience is there,” laughs Oscar Lang, backstage at Tufnell Park Dome. “For the first half of the tour, when I walked out, I didn’t even wave, and now I say, ‘Whaddup, everyone!’”

Tonight when we meet him, the sold-out Dirty Hit tour has rolled into London, and alongside labelmates Beabadoobee and No Rome, the 18-year-old is one of the powerhouse label’s newest hopes. The pressure could be through the roof, but backstage, as the artists breeze in and out of each other’s dressing rooms, it feels like the last day of term. In the yearbook, Oscar is ‘most likely to claim the slacker-pop throne’. “Out of my top five songs, three of them are on piano. I wonder if people come expecting a really sombre show...” he ponders, but sombre it is not. Stage presence may be an art that the young singer has had to learn on the job

across the tour’s 20 dates but, ably assisted onstage by his tinsel-covered ‘Londondinium’ or ‘Lang Gang’ (“We’ve come up with a different name for the band every night,” he chuckles), Oscar explodes onto the stage like a charisma bomb. “We like to go hard on stage. Mac DeMarco’s one of the personalities I aspire to be like,” he explains. “I’m like, ‘This guy is so cool’.” Last year’s woozy ‘Bops Etc’ EP - the singer’s first on the label - found Oscar touting a laissez faire effortlessness that would make ol’ Mac proud, and there’s plenty more where that came from. “The song ‘Trash’ I wrote when I was 15. I’d just been waiting for a studio so I can do it properly - just saving it for a rainy day,” he shrugs, cheekily. “We’ve got music coming very early [this year], and as many shows as possible; I just want to do it more now. I could keep going [on the road for] another 2 months, I’m not even tired! I just wanna keep going! I’m always writing new stuff, to keep adding to the bar.” Even if he’s already set it high for 2020, be sure that Oscar Lang will pole-vault over, and make it look easy. DIY

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Having beaten down the self-doubt that comes with following up a crossover hit, Kevin Parker returns with Tame Impala’s long-awaited fourth record, ‘The Slow Rush’. Thank god for record label deadlines... Words: Jenessa Williams. Photos: Phil Smithies. Collage: Louise Mason.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

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you’re looking to describe the typical characteristics of a rockstar, the word ‘introvert’ may not immediately come to mind. Musical success often goes hand in hand with its fair share of bluster, the work of amplifying a persona just big enough to disguise the fragile ego that lies beneath. We all have our vulnerabilities; some artists just conceal theirs better than others. Kevin Parker, however, has never been too bothered about artifice. An astronomy degree dropout and self-identified loner, he wears his awkward with a touch of pride. After all, it’s hardly held him back. As the man behind Tame Impala, his name has become shorthand for musical innovation and credibility, with everyone from Rihanna to Alex Turner clamouring for time in his studio. Award nods have followed him around the globe, including a Grammy win and 20 ARIA nominations (Australia’s biggest music accolade). Secure yourself the touch of his psychedelic hand and it can be safely assumed that you’re on the

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road to a commercial hit that won’t compromise on cool. It hasn’t always been an easy ride; festivals are rarely headlined by artists who balk at the idea of having their photo taken. But yes, he’s changing, and is finally ready to face the idea that people might be interested in what he has to say.

to prove,” he continues. “The pressure of following ‘Currents’ was a lot; my inner teenage rebel kicks in when I have responsibility like that. My immediate reaction is like, ‘Get fucked, I’m not making another album. Fuck you, you can’t make me’.” He rolls his eyes. “12-year-old Kevin definitely came out…”

This is a good thing, because interview slots with Tame Impala have grown to be increasingly prized. We meet today in a highrise hotel suite in the middle of Piccadilly. Kevin’s donned hotel slippers and ordered room service, and as we watch the Extinction Rebels march down the street below, he ponders aloud about getting involved in similar action back home in Perth. That’s just as soon as he’s finished up promo in Berlin and Paris, possibly via a detour through Sydney. It’s a remarkable schedule for a man that two years ago thought he might not make another Tame Impala record.

Packing the petulance of his younger self back into its box proved a not-inconsiderable challenge. “I was probably just feeling too good about myself, to be honest,” he suggests. “But last year it just felt right and like I wanted to again. I guess I realised that I was never going to get the kind of satisfaction out of working on other people’s music as I would with making Tame Impala, and making stuff for myself. I think I was right to wait. I honestly believe in my heart that I wouldn’t have made an album that was better than ‘Currents’ if I had dived straight back into it, or rushed it.”

“Having done three albums that people liked, the idea of doing another one didn’t really seem like something I needed to do to make myself feel better,” he admits. “There were so many other things I wanted to do, so much that seemed more intriguing than making another Tame album. Things like DJing; I’d be at clubs watching DJs and thinking, ‘How do they do that?’. I just wanted a new skill to master, and have that be something that could take my time and effort and creativity. “I guess I felt like I didn’t really have anything else

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t cannot be overstated that few people at his level are quite so unguarded. Ask Kevin a question and you’ll get a straightforward answer, even if it’s one he’ll skip back to clarify later on. He speaks with the ease of somebody who’d probably get quite a lot out of a therapy session, open to being prodded into elaboration, pausing to think the question through. He’s better at this self-promotional game than he may think, but still has a strong tendency to downplay his achievements. Coachella? “It’s a lot bigger than me - I was kind of just

going along with it.” Working with Kanye? “I could have done better to have a more pivotal role.” He calls it self-deprecation, but you suspect it’s rooted in a kind of coping mechanism, a way to conquer the overwhelming pace of his career. The last few years have been the stuff of bucket list gold, but if you confront him with his plaudits, he reacts as if you’d just told him you liked his shoes: with gratitude, sure, but certainly no sense of overt chest-puffing self-congratulation. Forever restless, he’d much rather turn his attention to the next thing than pat himself on the back for the success of the past. But surely headlining a world-renowned festival or working with one of the most famous rappers in history makes for a bit of a pinch-yourself moment? “I wouldn’t say that, no. Coachella is Coachella. It has a lot of talk about it being this culturally significant thing, which I guess it is, but when you’re there it doesn’t feel like it,” he reasons. “We got the call in December because Justin Timberlake had pulled out. When I was onstage I was like, cool. It’s a gig. Being Australian, we have this tendency to play everything down and not see how great and significant it is while it’s happening. I’ll probably look back later on and realise that it was a special time. I actually thought I could finish the record before and then drop it the week of Coachella, ‘cause that’s the kind of cool thing people do. I’d told everyone I was going to have the record by then, which is


“I feel like this record represents this belief that genres don’t exist.” - Kevin Parker

Who says we put our cover stars on a pedestal…

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why we started releasing things like ‘Patience’ and ‘Borderline’, but I was absolutely kidding myself.” And what of being personally invited to work with Yeezy himself? “I did something on a song of his that he gave me to work with that didn’t end up getting used, and so the only thing I actually did on his album was some drum programming,” he shrugs. “I would have loved to have done more for him, but that was on his ‘Ye’ album, so I think he was kind of in a certain headspace. Maybe in the future. I’m super grateful for everything. It’s the nature of the beast.” Over the years, Kevin’s grown better at quieting the second-guessing voice that would previously berate him for squandering such opportunities, but still admits to a certain perfectionist-procrastination that both plagued and fuelled the sessions for LP4. “I only started working on it late 2018, so this is actually the album that has taken me the shortest amount of time, but I just didn’t get started for so long,” he says. “I kind of just… didn’t want to. To this day, I think announcing the album publically was the only thing that actually enabled me to finish it. Right up to the night before I had to submit it to the vinyl factory, I was finishing lyrics. There was one that I had barely started the night before mastering; the song ‘Is It True’ was written between 7pm and 11am the night before it had to be sent. Do I work better under pressure? Not necessarily. But I got the job done.” He’s spoken in press about feeling as if he needed to be in a darker headspace to write music; is that still the case? “Ah right, that,” he smiles. “I think that quote was kind of exaggerated, which is

fine. It’s not so much being in a dark space, it’s just like, when you feel shit about yourself; just the daily up and down of self-esteem. Sometimes you feel on top of the world, and that’s not when the best songs come to you. Well, it can be, but I suppose it’s when you feel either side of normal. When you feel amazing, songs can come to you out of pure joy, and then when you feel kinda shit, or anxious…” Like nothing you can make in that moment has any value? “Yes, that exactly. And when you’re feeling like that, you feel like you need to make something that’ll get you to where you need to be. Music is that for me.

Was there anything in particular that got him out of that headspace of feeling like he had nothing to contribute? An antidote to the crisis of confidence? “Oh nah, it’s like a daily feeling,” he laughs. “Well maybe not daily, but y’know, a few times a week. That kind of feeling that can be with you all the time, but it just rises up momentarily...”

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nd so, having surfed the wave of self-doubt and emerged out the other side, we come to ‘The Slow Rush’. As one might suspect from the teaser singles, it’s a Tame Impala record through and

“Some days I’d do literally anything to be just a member of a band, where I could just hide behind people.” - Kevin Parker If I feel like I have nothing to contribute to the world, then I need to find something. I get a bit like, ‘A really good song would really help right now!’ That’s when it starts coming to me. It’s like flicking on the radio to make yourself feel better.”

through, with a common thread running across its 12 tracks: wishing time away while feeling like you’ll never get enough, coasting through life until you realise that a year has gone by and you have nothing to show for it. It’s an anxiety sufferer’s diary. Time makes fools of us all,

and it doesn’t normally pay to linger too long on the thought. But for an artist whose work perfectly soundtracks those intoxicated 3am conversations that delve a little too deep into the workings of the universe, the concept provided fertile lyrical ground. “I would never sing about time as an abstract concept, it’s only about how it makes us feel a certain way, y’know?” says Kevin. “Anxiety for the future, and getting stuck on being nostalgic. I haven’t really found a particular pattern to writing lyrics; sometimes a particular word or phrase can just spur or ignite the music around it. I very definitely wanted to make a song called ‘One More Year’, and ‘On Track’ was very much inspired by a specific phrase in my head. Other than that, time doesn’t really excite me any more than anything else, it’s just the way that it affects humans. I’m a nostalgia addict, like everyone. There’s something about revisiting things that happened years ago that just seems so rich with emotion. It always seems like things that happened five years ago or ten years ago are so sacred, but they weren’t – it’s just us living our stupid lives.” Musically, it stays true to Tame’s psych-rock form, but with a noticeably wider smattering of outside influences. Recent collaborations in the hip hop world tinged his enthusiasm for the occasional rap beat or disco bridge, but they exist in his sonic palette like oil paints on water - first at odds, until the colours mingle and forge their own way of being. “I guess I feel like this record represents this belief that genres don’t exist,” he explains. “That’s my way of listening to it: I hear all sorts of different genres going on. I’m open to the fact that people will just hear Tame Impala, but to me - and I don’t expect

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anybody else to think this way - I think it’s a pretty bold statement of revitalising sounds that are cheesy and don’t belong in certain genres. Anything goes.” With the confident panpipe of ‘Borderline’ or the languid R&B of

“I’m a nostalgia addict, like everyone.” Kevin Parker ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’, the unlikely hero triumphs again. Another promotional lap around the world is sure to bring a heap more attention and another level up of success that feels both thrilling and oppressive. “Some days I’d do literally anything to be just a member of a band, where I could just hide behind people,” he says, with a small smile. “Well, maybe not anything, but yes. That’s basically why everyone thinks Tame Impala is a band, because originally I told everyone it was; I didn’t want to say to everyone, ‘Here is my music that I’ve made myself’. That just terrified me. So all the press shots and everything I said were a band; it took me so long to even say it was my work. Maybe that’s why collaborating is so alluring, because it’s a new way of having bandmates. “It wasn’t really a specific moment that that

got easier, but probably around the time that ‘Currents’ came out, I had to learn to deal with it,” he theorises. “I’m a bit like a rabbit coming out of its home - I’ll run out a little bit and think, ‘This is cool’, but then I’ll fuck something up and have an anxiety freak out about being too much of a diva or something and then I’ll go straight back in the hole. Each time I guess I just go out a little bit further before I bolt back in.” He takes a breath, reflecting on the clarity of what he’s just said. “Y’know?” The night before we speak, ‘The Slow Rush’ had its listening party. He wasn’t particularly happy with the quality of the sound, but he enjoyed himself anyway. As he describes it, there’s a certain entertainment to being artist-in-residence, watching on as a room full of music impresarios silently judge your work. “You know when something is so awkward that it’s kind of… almost… fun?” he asks. “It was almost comical, them all sat down and me in this sequin velvet jacket, walking in from the back of this very full room like some kind of rockstar.” We question the accuracy of this description, and he looks on quizzically. Well Kevin, we reason, you’re not exactly LIKE a rock star anymore: like it or not, you kind of are one. “I suppose,” he shrugs before gesturing to the room service tray, opulent as our surroundings, and swiftly changing the subject. “Would you like some of these fries?” At this point, you’re unlikely to expect any other answer. ‘The Slow Rush’ is out 14th February via Fiction. DIY

ART ATTACK Kev fills us in on ‘The Slow Rush’’s surrealist artwork.

“Like all art, it’s difficult to put into words how I feel it captures [the record], but I just found a picture of that town on the internet and was instantly intrigued by it. It’s actually an abandoned diamond town in Namibia, and straight away I knew we need to go and shoot the cover there. So that’s what we did! The image is obviously touched up - we coloured it red - but the sand is real. It was abandoned in the 1940s or 50s and just left to degrade, and because it’s so windy out there, the sand has just slowly come in the window. I wanted it to be somewhere abandoned, but it was difficult to find somewhere that didn’t just look depressing and derelict. I wanted it to look uplifting, even though time has essentially ravaged this place. The thing I love about it is that it’s something that’s been happening over decades to this place, but it also looks like it’s happened so fast. Which kind of encapsulates the album title too.”

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Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation.

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Having released one of the most beloved indie debuts of recent years, The Big Moon had some big shoes to fill with LP2. In ‘Walking Like We Do’, they’ve made the journey in style - with some unexpectedWords: new tricks, to boot. Rosie Hewitson. Photos: Phil Smithies.

“I

t was mad, everyone was crying except me,” says The Big Moon’s

The Road Less Travelled

Juliette Jackson, reminiscing about a particularly memorable live show the band played last summer. “I felt my eyes start to go and then I thought, ‘Wait, this might not be real’, and it went away,” she laughs. “It’s funny because I cry a lot, but I guess you don’t want to think you’re being proposed to and then realise that’s not what’s happening. Especially on stage with hundreds of people watching.” Thankfully, Jules wasn’t wrong to assume that a marriage proposal was indeed on the cards when her boyfriend Max came on stage at Green Man last August, accompanied by a posse of on-site postmen (the pair met at the weekender in 2014, when they were delivering festival mail). And, though the band have a European tour and a support slot for the recently-reformed Bombay Bicycle Club to get through before she can even think about wedding planning, having such a huge life step play out in front of a visibly adoring audience seemed timely. Having evolved from carefree, wide-eyed newbies making music for fun to mature, self-assured artists with critical acclaim and a Mercury shortlist spot under their belts, it’s not just the singer’s personal life that’s been moving in significant new directions.

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t may be a well-worn cliché for an artist’s second album to illustrate a newfound maturity, but getting older undoubtedly forms a central theme of ‘Walking Like We Do’. “A lot of the songs on this one are about growing up and moving on, and the things and feelings left behind as a result,” Jules explains. “It definitely feels more mature than the first one. I mean, I am more mature, the songs on our first album were written five years ago.” But though the finished product still makes for a typically hopeful, emotive listen (albeit one with subtler nuances than before), writing the follow-up to 2017’s much-loved debut ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ wasn’t exactly plain sailing for the band, completed by guitarist Soph Nathan, bassist Celia Archer and drummer Fern Ford.

“The first album was quite a lot more innocent I think, but things feel different now.” - Juliette Jackson

At the start, the success of their first effort began to inflict its own pressures. “For the first couple of months of writing, I was trying to fit the songs into a mould,” explains Jules. “I was trying to copy the first album, basically. It felt like I should do the same thing, and it wasn’t satisfying or exciting.” “And we were writing for an album more this time, whereas the first time we were just writing songs,” chips in Soph. “But ultimately you can’t really think about that when you’re trying to create things, otherwise you end up second-guessing everything you do,” Jules continues, finishing off her friend’s sentence. “We realised that we didn’t have to stick to a structure, and after that we chilled out a bit.”

The realisation led to a newfound sense of experimentation, allowing the band to test out different instruments rather than going back to the guitar-driven sounds of their debut. This time around, there are more keys and less chords; it’s still The Big Moon, but it’s a broader, more open version

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of the band coming to the table. “When I first started writing, it was on guitar and you just end up writing the same song all the time,” Jules says. “Your fingers keep going to the same places and it’s really frustrating. I was looking for different ways to do things so a lot of it was written on piano. I can play the piano but I’m less familiar with it, so I ended up going to different places.” “She also likes writing to other people’s music videos on mute,” Celia interjects. “I’m yet to meet anyone else who does that,” Fern adds wryly. “Sometimes I like pretending to be a completely different person when I’m writing because you can kind of have some distance from it,” Jules explains. “I think it’s a really fun technique.” Then came the hurdle of recording the follow-up to a debut that had been happily laid down in a week. For it, the band travelled to Atlanta to spend a month working with Grammy-winning producer Ben Allen - a galvanising departure from their previous experiences that re-cemented their thickas-thieves camaraderie. “Jules didn’t really have a break from the band [between albums] because she was writing, but the rest of us had only played the odd festival show for the past year,” explains Celia. “So when it finally came down to recording the album we were all like, ‘Oh cool, we ARE a real band! We do real band things, like travelling around recording albums!’ It was quite motivating; we all felt a lot more confident and up for it.” And while the marathon studio sessions might have been full on at times (“At one point we were just making feedback and drum noises for a couple of days and we all went a bit crazy,” Jules grimaces), they also made room for some necessary tourism and a healthy dose of roller derby. “We had this nice bonding time out

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there,” Celia smiles of their adventures, “and everything just came together really nicely.” “It was such a warm experience,” Fern nods.

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ut while the foursome might be tighter than ever, it’s chief songwriter Jules who is largely responsible for the new sounds and perhaps-surprising restraint present in LP2. For all their raucous onstage antics, the band’s frontwoman is a mild-mannered and introspective character in person, and one who obviously takes what she does seriously; though it would have been easy to dish up ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ pt II, it’s evident the singer was pushing herself far harder than that. “I learnt a lot about my flaws,” she says of the writing process, “and one of them is that I put too much stuff into songs sometimes. It took some time to realise that actually less is more; it was definitely a deliberate thing to let the songs breathe a bit this time.” By allowing more space on the album, this time around Jules’ talents as a succinct and heart-wrenching lyricist take centre stage. “I only saw the differences, I didn’t see the change / I thought that you would

soon be back and things would be the same,” she sings on the mournful, introspective ‘Waves’ - one of the highlights of an album preoccupied with the loss of youth. “The first album was quite a lot more innocent I think,” she nods, “but things feel different now. I mean, even from a personal point of view, everyone around us is settling down and having kids.” But it’s not just personal anxieties that come through, there’s political acknowledgement going on here, too. “These days the dust doesn’t settle… Is it any wonder you’ve been freaking out?” the singer laments on the swaggering, piano and organ-driven ‘Holy Roller’, in reference to the tumultuous climate of recent years. “Politically, environmentally, socially… Everything’s a bit scary at the moment and I think that really comes out in the album,” she explains. “I feel like there are a lot of artists doing this at the moment, just trying to understand the world a bit through their art. When I’m writing a song, usually I’m trying to process how I feel about it. I think music is really good for reflecting stuff back to you or helping to cope with stuff and understand it.” However, though the

THE BIG MOON’S BIG DAY

So, as we’ve mentioned, Jules got engaged live on stage - no biggie. But how exactly did this feat of magical romance come to pass? Soph: Nobody knew, none of us knew. Jules: A friend of a friend had brought it [the ring] in because it was supposed to get delivered from India before he went to the festival. So it was this whole thing, and everyone was like, ‘Max, why are you trying so hard to meet this guy called Dan?!’ or whatever his name was. He was very grumpy in those few days. Soph: Yeah, afterwards he was saying that he’d not been able to eat all weekend and he was like, ‘No-one even realised!’. But he got away with it.

subject matter of ‘Walking Like We Do’ might be more ambitious, that’s not to say the band are taking themselves too seriously just yet. “It’s interesting that being mature means being serious,” notes Soph, “whereas being light-hearted, writing love songs and having fun is seen as immature.” It’s evident that The Big Moon are - thankfully - still a band who like to have a laugh, particularly in the video for recent single ‘Take a Piece’: an homage to ‘90s music clips in which the band wear double denim, bucket hats and orange-tinted sunnies, dancing in sync like a boyband. “The Irish ones were definitely the best,” nods Fern sagely as the conversation moves to their favourites. With the record now out in the world, the quartet are hyped to get back on the road again this month after a quiet 2019. “With the old album, we knew all the songs so well from playing live before we ever recorded them, and because we’ve done it the other way round this time I did feel quite anxious about playing stuff live at first,” explains Celia. “But now we’ve done a couple of live sessions, I can’t wait.” “It’s actually been a while since I listened to the whole thing,” Jules continues. “I think it’s always good to have a break after recording something, but the other day, I was looking for some demos that we could put out as bonus tracks and I ended up playing a couple of the finished songs. And you know what?” she says smiling. “They were really good! “We spent a long time making the album right, trying to communicate things in the right way,” she smiles, confidently. “Now I’m just excited for it to do the talking.” ‘Walking Like We Do’ is out now via Fiction. DIY


“Politically, environmentally, socially… Everything’s a bit scary at the moment and I think that really comes out.” Juliette Jackson

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Youth & Young Manhood On second album ‘R.Y.C’ (Raw Youth Collage), Alex Crossan - aka Mura Masa - is stepping out from behind the laptop, finding his voice and broadening his horizons. Words: Patrick Clarke. Photos: Phil Smithies.

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hen Mura Masa’s Alex Crossan was briefing the musicians he’d chosen to contribute to ‘R.Y.C’, he sent them a PDF that outlined his vision. Peppered with photographs by Wolfgang Tillmans and images of early ‘00s club culture, it established the foundations of a rich and conceptual record, one that explores his fascination with the way nostalgia has crept its way into the identity of a generation, and sees the breezy electronic pop of his self-titled debut newly make way for fuzzy and emotionally-charged guitars. The colossal success of that 2017 LP, and the sheer scale of the hype that followed, left Alex at an early crossroads. “I didn’t make much Mura Masa music for a year after the first album came out because I was a bit spent, really,” he begins. “I spent a year wondering what I should do. Should I try to one-up myself? Do what I did on the first album but better, and develop those ideas? The conundrum of the sophomore slump: what exactly do you do on a second album? So I started thinking about what people do on their third and fourth albums, which is to take a bit of a left turn. Someone said to me, ‘Why don’t you just do what you wanna do?’. And what I wanted to do was go back to these guitar bands that shaped a lot of my taste early on. I was listening to a whole bunch of The Cure, Joy Division and The Stranglers, and I wanted to figure out why I was so attracted to that. So I started thinking about the whole nostalgia thing.

with one another. You can hear a touch of The Cardigans’ indie-pop gloss on the Clairo-featuring ‘I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again’, before the track jumps into a big beat Basement Jaxx chorus. ‘Deal Wiv It’, featuring slowthai, is the bastard child of ‘Parklife’ and ‘Original Pirate Material’, while ‘Vicarious Living’’s scuzzy guitar fug finds common ground in the angst of emo and the attitude of grunge. Yet if ‘R.Y.C’ were just a procession of retro sounds, it wouldn’t be half as successful as it is. Mura Masa’s real achievement here is that he hasn’t made a nostalgic record, but a record about nostalgia. “I didn’t want to make a pastiche album full of ‘remember this?’, which I think is probably one of [the album’s] main successes,” he says. Instead, there are many different - crucially modern - voices on the project, and each was picked for a specific reason: Clairo, for example, because of Alex’s love of American DIY and emo. “That was a lot of what I was listening to when I was growing up and I wanted to base some of the album around my earlier influences,” he nods. “I was looking

to music, Ned features because of Alex’s interest in the colloquialism of spoken word in pop. “He’s got a really interesting way of talking,” he explains. “I briefed him on the themes of the album, and eventually I was like, ‘Just tell me a story, something that happened to you when you were younger’.” The result is one of the record’s most understated yet striking moments. It’s probably no coincidence that every one of the collaborators on ‘R.Y.C’ is in their 20s. Though all very different individuals, on the record they home in on the same thing, albeit through a variety of lenses. “I think the commonality in it is maybe that there’s a generational pining for something, for a better time, for a simpler time that might not have ever existed,” theorises Alex. “I think that’s what links the songs on the album. And the process was a bit different this time, I made sure I had long conversations with each of them about what we wanted to write about.”

“There’s a generational pining for something, for a better time, for a simpler time that might not have ever existed.”

“It’s quite a cynical time we’re living in, quite overconnected,” he continues. “It’s quite a big part of my coping strategy, playing old video games, watching old movies, reminiscing. The more I spoke to potential collaborators on the album, the more I realised that everyone taps into that. There was a sense of communal nostalgia.” Spirits from the past float all around ‘R.Y.C’ - which stands for Raw Youth Collage - intermingling and interacting

for someone who was American and who was part of the burgeoning DIY revival thing, and it just had to be her.” Georgia was chosen for “how she taps into pop music, but from this angle of Robyn-esque club euphoria”; slowthai because “he’s a really important voice in the UK - I don’t want to use the word ‘punk’ but that’s sort of what he is,” and Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell because “I was trying to tap into a bit of what’s going on in the UK guitar music scene, and Wolf Alice are one of the best bands out there at the moment.” It’s a stellar cast, however it’s clear that Alex’s vision for ‘R.Y.C’ isn’t just based on star power. Take Ned Green, for example, who provides a short, spoken word story for ‘A Meeting at an Oak Tree’. The publisher of annual poetry anthology Away With Words, and all-but-unknown when it comes

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lex himself is still only 23 years old, but wise beyond his years when it comes to music. And for all its celebrity guests and conceptual appeal, what really defines his second Mura Masa outing is the way he himself has stepped to the fore. Where his first album was what he calls a “top down view of pop music”, this time Alex “wanted to play a bit with that perception of this weird paradigm that’s emerged of the producer-artist. My idols like Kevin Parker and Justin Vernon, those people that are kind of one-man bands.” Taking lead vocals far more than before, it sees him refusing to just rest on his prodigious production talents in favour of something altogether more interesting. Though he directs half a dozen other voices in the same direction, now he’s also allowing his own some space. “I’m learning to selfindulge,” he says. “Maybe that’s the wrong word, but it’s my own instincts that have got me this far.” It begs the question, will there one day be a Mura Masa album he does entirely on his own? He takes his time to think. “I hope so,” he decides with a smile. “But at the moment it’s so interesting to me being able to curate in this way.

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Inside The Collage As you might have gathered from its album title, ‘R.Y.C’ is inspired by a whole mishmash of influences. Alex lets us in on a few of them...

OBSCURE LATE ‘90S VIDEO GAME SOUNDTRACKS My first musical love, without knowing it, was garage and jungle. I was doing a nostalgia dive yesterday and I discovered that when I was very, very young there was a PC game called LEGO Rock Raiders, and the soundtrack was made by these guys who were clearly massive Aphex Twin fans. I used to play the game and put it on pause and listen to the soundtrack. That was my introduction to music. BRITAIN’S BURGEONING DIY GUITAR SCENE I think that guitar music in general is reacting to the way the last decade has been dominated by very clean, pristine electronic pop music, and I feel like there’s a shift in the tide. There’s bands like Squid and Black Midi, and especially Black Country, New Road who are my favourite thing ever.

“What I wanted to do was go back to these guitar bands that shaped a lot of my taste early on.”

Being able to have such a breadth of voices on an album.” For now, then, we can be more than content with a talented, intelligent and thoughtful young artist spreading his wings in a wonderfully unexpected direction. He remains humble and self-deprecating, but there’s that ring of confidence to his voice that gives it away; he knows just how far forward he’s stepping with this album. “When people hear it, they might be… surprised,” he grins. “But give it a bit of time, and a few listens, and it actually makes a bit of sense.” ‘R.Y.C’ is out now via Polydor. DIY

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WORKING WITH DAMON ALBARN AND NILE RODGERS I think there’s always so much to learn from somebody who learnt music in a different era. It’s always interesting to work with people whose perception of how music gets made is completely different. But also, selfishly, it’s great to work with people who you idolise. It was definitely intimidating, but there’s a certain amount of gamefacedness. You have to be like, ‘Technically I’m at work, I have to power through here’.


FESTIVAL POHODA FESTIVAL POHODA FESTIVAL 2020 9—11 JULY AIRPORT TRENČÍN SLOVAKIA

TOMORROW’S MODERN BOXES

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just a girl

Top: Dilara Findikoglu. Skirt: Neith Nyer. Earrings: She Devil

FROM YOUTUBE SENSATION TO METAL’S NEWEST TALENT, POPPY IS BREAKING AWAY FROM HER PREVIOUS CONFINES, AND SHE’S NOT DOING IT QUIETLY. Words: Elly Watson. Photos: Phil Knott. Styling: Marissa Baklayan.

Move along, nothing to see here...

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“What I try to operate on is, does it feel real and does it feel right for me?”


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he internet is a strange place. From hyperspecific Subreddits (hello, BirdsWithArms) to never-ending new memes, it’s the perfect arena in which to let your inner freak flag fly. Yet from one curious corner of YouTube emerged a particularly strange video back in January 2015.

Stood in front of a pastel purple backdrop, it shows a bleached blonde girl staring directly into the camera, repeating the same introduction over and over for a full 10 minutes. Who was this girl? Well, in her own words: “I’m Poppy”. Subsequently - and unsurprisingly - going viral, the clip was followed by other bizarre offerings. There was ‘A Plant’, which sees her interviewing the foliage in question with increasingly deep questions, and ‘Me Eating A Banana’ which shows her, well, eating a banana. Soon, Poppy had become a full-on internet sensation and reaction gif gold. But online stardom wasn’t her real aim. Born Moriah Rose Pereira in Boston, back in 1995 (or so Wikipedia claims), Poppy moved to LA in 2013 to pursue a music career. Releasing her debut song ‘Everybody Wants to Be Poppy’ and follow-up ‘Lowlife’ in 2015, her kawaii-inspired visuals paired with crystalline vocals and wide-eyed expression seemed to introduce her as the stereotypically perfect pop star. “I love my fans, my record label, my handler, and God,” she says with an unsettlingly squeaky-clean delivery in a 2016 video featuring her mannequin frenemy Charlotte. If Stepford Wives’ animatronic women were reimagined as chart musicians in the making, Poppy would have been their leader.

Top: Moises Estrada.

But, if you know anything about the Poppy that’s with us in 2020, you’ll know that pop perfection wasn’t what she had planned. “I think that it’s really boring if I stay the same forever,” she emphasises over a pre-Christmas

transatlantic phone call, between festive party plans that include milk and cookies followed by a “seance around a gingerbread house”. “It’s what Santa would want!” she giggles. Although she’d always embraced her creepy side, Poppy’s fully-fledged move from the robo-pop persona she originally created really came into fruition with the release of 2018’s ‘Am I A Girl?’ - the follow up to the previous year’s debut ‘Poppy.Computer’. Most notably shown on shocking closing track ‘X’, it’s here that the singer began to experiment with metal influences and the dark side, shaking off her previous pop ties with a literal blood-heavy bombardment. “I never viewed myself as a pop star per se, just more of an artist or creator,” she explains of her musical transition. “I never really found that I fit into any specific box or area of music. I don’t really think too hard about it, I just try to make art. I think everyone puts on a different persona and I think I view my art and music and evolution as going through different eras. The last era was ‘Am I A Girl?’, and the one before that was ‘Poppy.Computer’. I feel that with this new one, I’m shedding some light Top: Hanan Sharifa. Leggings: Barbara Bologna

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on the dark realms that I was forced to operate in for a period of time, and I’m also taking my power back against everyone that has tried to hold me back.”

want to perform for the next year or so on tour. It was all about what felt right. That’s what I try to operate on: does it feel real and does it feel right for me?”

his new era is centred around new album ‘I Disagree’, that burst out at the start of January with little regard for easing the year in gently. A balls-to-the-walls record that flows between pop melodies, Billie Eilishesque hip hop beats, thrashing guitar solos and mosh pit-ready climaxes that could fit into a Nine Inch Nails set, it’s miles away from the twee bop of ‘Lowlife’. “This album feels like my first album,” she beams. “All the things I’ve loved, I’ve been able to pour into this one. I got to have total freedom and didn’t let anyone else give their opinions until it was done, and even when it was done I didn’t really take their opinion into account. I just made what made me happy and proud, and was something I would listen to and

Throughout ‘I Disagree’, Poppy holds nothing back, addressing themes ranging from religious oppression (‘BLOODMONEY’) to individualism and empowerment (Fill The Crown’), and taking the listener on a journey of her selfdescribed evolution. “It definitely follows what I was dealing with in the present time while creating it: a lot of frustration with other people and myself I feel comes across in some of the songs,” she elaborates. “It’s also about the lessons I’ve learned. The song most dear to me is called ‘Nothing I Need’ and that one was me realising for the first time that everything I wanted is right here and I can still go after what I want but it’s OK to feel OK, and to say that you’re OK. You don’t have to say when I get X thing or Y thing or Z thing, then I’ll be OK. It’s about being OK right now whilst still pursuing what you want.”

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It’s not just in her music that Poppy is growing more confident by the day. This album campaign has seen the star shed the robotic side of her persona that used to dominate her purposefully-scripted speaking style; a quick YouTube search finds hundreds of ‘Poppy breaking character’ compilations, with fans finding millisecond-long clips to prove that Poppy is not, in fact, part machine.

This sense of resilience and newfound freedom bleeds deeply into ‘I Disagree’; roaring with the idea of building yourself up following destruction, it’s this that Poppy hopes people will connect with most. “I hope that it can make people feel less alone and that it helps them,” she explains. “There are probably people out there who feel the same way that I do but they might be afraid to say it, or they might not have the means to say it or the ability and they might be scared of their own voice. Hopefully they won’t be after listening.” Now entering 2020, Poppy’s new era sees the singer ready to explore her full creative and personal potential. Though her latest output has seen her flip the rulebook many times over, going from out-there YouTuber to metal’s latest icon with Marilyn Manson on speed dial, she says it’s only the beginning, and you’d be a fool not to believe her. “I just want to make great work all the time and that’s pretty much my end goal,” she giggles, like Taylor’s nightmare dressed as a daydream in reverse. “That’s just me!” ‘I Disagree’ is out now via Sumerian. DIY

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Chain top: Hanan Sharifa. Jewelry: Dalmata & She Devil

Notably, she’s also recently severed ties with creative partner Titanic Sinclair, who portrayed himself as her handler, following years of fan speculation alleging the manipulation of Poppy was more than just an act. When she speaks of operating previously in “dark realms” and of people holding her back, it’s impossible not to link the two given her recent online statement: “As some of you may know my former creative partner and I have parted ways. This was a long time coming but this is a person whom I defended in the past because I thought he was just misunderstood […] I was trapped in a mess that I needed to dig my way out of - and like I always do, I figured out how to handle it.”


“I’m taking my power back against everyone that has tried to hold me back.”

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With second album ‘Sorry For The Late Reply’, Sløtface set out to make their own political statement; it soon became a much more personal affair. Words: Sarah Jamieson.

PO L O G EI S Sløtface are not exactly strangers to being socially-aware. On debut ‘Try Not To Freak Out’, the Norwegian band - Haley Shea, Tor-Arne Vikingstad, and Lasse Løkoy - found themselves caught up in a whirlwind of constant touring, and crammed that sense of exuberant energy across its ten tracks. But a buoyant spark wasn’t all the quartet had to offer.

Alongside the carefree hedonism that punctuated their first record, the band also deftly managed to traverse regret, anxiousness, and that ever-creeping feeling that control is always just out of reach. And while their gang mentality and talk of drinking games might’ve been enough to discourage the more boring of naysayers, it’s become clear that Sløtface are a group with something to say. When it came to beginning work on their second record, they decided it was time to hone in on these more vocal aspects of the band. “From the last record, I just was stuck with this feeling that we talk about our political views a lot in interviews, and we’ve made music videos about it, but there might not be as much of the political stuff in the actual songwriting as we would like,” begins Haley, calling from Norway a few weeks ahead of the release of ‘Sorry For The Late Reply’. “That was one of the main ideas when we first started thinking about what this record was going to be, I really wanted it to express our views in a clearer way.”

Taking direct influence from the likes of Silvana Imam, “a Swedish rapper, who’s made this record about her life growing up in Sweden as a second generation immigrant, and being a lesbian, and how that’s shaped her,” and previous tour mates Los Campesinos! (“one of my favourite bands of all time”), Haley soon realised the record still needed to harness their own stories, as well as their larger views, in order to make a real impact. “I realised that it felt very limiting very quickly to only write about [politics],” she continues, “so after we’d written a bunch of songs about that, we started having other ideas, and other things I wanted to put in there. “For everybody [involved] in activism and art, there’s always a feeling of trying to find a good balance. We sometimes wonder what we can contribute in a world where we’re incredibly privileged, middle class kids,” she muses. “How do you make a political record when that’s your background? We wanted to try to stay away from it being too preachy, because we wanted to be aware of our privilege, but it’s ended up becoming a record that’s a lot about what it means to grow up in a different place from where your parents grew up.” Though Haley was raised in Norway, her parents are both American. “It can make you feel different,” she explains, “[so the record is also about] what it means to belong somewhere, which I think is a pretty universal idea.”

“My favourite political records are a lot more nuanced and have a lot more humour.” Haley Shea

Beginning with a bedroom wall full of pinned notes and ideas, Haley began to write the album’s lyrics by honing in on the issues they felt passionately about as a band, examining everything from gender power to the ongoing climate emergency. What was most important, however, was that their newly-politicised offerings still felt authentic. “I was really trying to answer the question of, with the political music I like, why do I think it’s good?” she explains. “I think a lot of music about the environment or feminism, for example, can be a little bit preachy. Especially with punk music, a lot of the point is to present things in a very black and white way. But when I was trying to analyse myself and [think] about what my favourite political records are, they’re a lot more nuanced and have a lot more humour. They’re a lot more based on personal experiences.”

As a result, ‘Sorry For The Late Reply’ is a much more confident and honest step for the band. A record that channels the modern world in all its messedup, multi-layered confusion, it covers everything from the desperation around our current environmental crisis (‘Sink Or Swim’) to the mundane worries of FOMO (‘Telepathetic’) via the processing of a relationship at its close (‘Stuff’), showing the political and personal can sit together side by side. “For us, we want people to feel like they connect with us in some way,” she adds, “and, lyrically, I just want people to connect with that one line, or one thing that they really feel like they recognise.” There’s plenty that should strike deep for Sløtface, second time around. ‘Sorry For The Late Reply’ is out now via Propeller. DIY

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Friends

By their mid-twenties, BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB had already become music veterans; having gone hard for a full decade, they needed to go home and find themselves again. Thankfully, what they discovered was a rejuvenated sense of enthusiasm and purpose. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Fiona Garden.

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Reunited 61


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t’s lucky that Bombay Bicycle Club’s recent three-year hiatus - an unexpected move that saw the quartet press pause having just scored their first Number One album - wasn’t due to a bust-up behind the scenes, because they wouldn’t have had much space to hide. As we find out when we head to north London to meet the recently-reinvigorated band today, like a particularly wholesome ‘70s sitcom, guitarist Jamie MacColl owns the upstairs of their house, bassist Ed Nash the downstairs. Having grown up together since childhood, starting the band aged 15 and living intertwined lives ever since, the quartet - completed by frontman Jack Steadman and drummer Suren de Saram - are clearly intending to be fixtures in each others’ days for the foreseeable future. But, for a brief moment at the end of the decade, musically things didn’t look quite so clear. “We sold all of our gear which was a real sign we weren’t gonna do anything again,” admits Ed of their break. “It was really up in the air.” It’s easy now that the band are back on course, with recently-released fifth album ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ heralding a sparkling return to form and a comfortable, confident warmth, to understand why Bombay Bicycle Club needed to do what they did. Having made an off-the-cuff decision to form a band at school, more than 10 years later they were still following the path of their early-teenage selves. “Right after leaving school, we signed a five album deal, but we never really thought [what it would be like] to record five albums,” begins Suren. “We were 18 when we signed,” picks up Jamie, “and because we’d

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started doing it so young, so much of our sense of self and identity was tied up in the band. To other people, you’re defined as being a member of Bombay Bicycle Club, and that’s the sort of age - in your late teens and early 20s - when you’re trying to figure out who you are in quite an existential way. The band is a crutch that stops you doing that.” Though objectively at the peak of their powers, the lack of personal agency was starting to take its toll. At varying points today, each of the four mention feeling almost underdeveloped as people despite achieving huge success to the outside world. “Being ‘Ed from Bombay’ became my identity, and everything was wrapped up in that. I didn’t have much else - not just in music, but in general,” continues the bassist. “We didn’t plan it, and then every step it went further. The band name is telltale of that... If anyone thought we’d still be talking about it 15 years later, I think we might have tried a bit harder...” And so, in January 2016, the group released a low-key statement announcing that they had no plans to make new music together “any time soon”.

stage to a lot of people every night, and success is very addictive. I think in a lot of ways what we did was quite brave, to say, ‘We don’t need or want to do this at this point in our lives’.” “On paper, you’d keep on going because it’d be stupid not to at that level, but everyone was tired and all those things that should have been exciting were less exciting,” says Ed, “so it’s not hard to turn away from something if everyone’s wanting to do something else.”

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or Jack, at the time the band’s sole songwriter, the “something else” was even more prominent. Having spent portions of 2019 digging through the archives for the 10 year anniversary reissue of debut ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’, Jamie recalls rediscovering demos that the singer made aged 13: “He was making a lot of very weird music then, a lot more interesting than a lot of music we’ve ever done,” he chuckles. Though Bombay started life as a indie guitar band, Jack’s roving ear had always been the undercurrent of the singer’s interests, eventually leading them to 2014’s sample-heavy, “I understand why people keep going experimental ‘So Long, See You even when they’re not enjoying it Tomorrow’. But when it came to what anymore,” nods Jamie. “It’s a very would follow, he’d hit a wall. “With addictive thing to do, playing on [that album] we took it as far as we could; you can’t make a guitar band sound any more out there. It was a good time to call it quits and “The break was create a proper outlet a way to get for that music,” he perspective reflects. again. It makes you come back The result was his Mr to Bombay and Jukes project, a “parrealise that ty music” record cribwhat we had bing from old funk, soul and jazz, that was incredallowed the frontman ible.” - Jack to tap into a different Steadman world to the one he’d built with his band. During the interim, the others also began exploring other sides to themselves. Having wanted “to work on writing songs” for a long time, Ed released a solo album as Toothless; Suren went off on tour, drumming for Jessie Ware and Rae Morris, while Jamie bedded


down into the world of politics, doing two (!) degrees and campaigning around the EU referendum (“The band makes you very busy and I couldn’t adjust to not being busy...”). It meant that, when the anniversary prompted talk of getting the gang back together in a larger sense, the four members were re-entering the ring with a much stronger, more capable mindset. “Relationships are better when the individuals are comfortable with themselves - that goes for romantic relationships or any relationships,” says Jack. “So if you’ve got four people who’ve grown up and had experiences which have made them more sure of who they are, then the interpersonal relationships are gonna be so much better for that. I’ve definitely noticed that everyone’s got this new confidence; in the studio, writing the music, everything.” Case in point: the writing sessions for the record itself, which saw both Jack and Ed ship off to the tiny, excellently-named town of Portwrinkle in Cornwall for one week of every month, bedding down in a house with two recording set ups facing out to the sea and sharing - for the first time - the load of the material they’d both create. “It’s an old fishing town, with a couple of hundred houses; it’s very beautiful but there’s not a lot to do there,” recalls Ed. “The pub literally burnt down a few months before we got there so we couldn’t even be distracted by that. I think maybe our manager went and burnt down the pub beforehand.” Potential arson case aside, their stint away soon began to show that, not only did the old magic remain, but it could now exist freely without the worries of life or opposing creative desires to dampen its power. “Musically it clicked immediately, it’s like muscle memory,” begins Ed, before Jack continues: “The thing about Mr Jukes is, I’m really proud of

that record but it wasn’t as heart-onsleeve as a lot of Bombay’s music, so I think I felt a need to write something more about how I was feeling in the world. And I think you can hear on the new record that it’s someone who’s going through something different, and growing up and is a different person to who they were. “Your late 20s is a very strange time in your life, there’s a lot of anxiety and reflection and introspection and self-doubt,” he continues, “and the album’s basically about those experiences. But it’s also saying everything’s OK, and if you need some escapism or some kind of medicine then here’s a record to add to your collection for when you’re feeling that way - because that’s how I deal with those emotions, I listen to music.”

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hough there are threads of questioning that run through Bombay’s fifth, what ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ really leaves you with is a feeling of hope - from the dappled warmth of the title track and its repeated mantra (“And yes I’ve found my peace again / And yes I’ve found my second wind”), to the sparse, goosebump-inducing ‘Racing Stripes’ which closes out the album with the line “this light will keep me going”. The quartet’s story, too, is one of hope, of listening to your heart, looking after yourself and trusting that all will come good in the end.

“I think in a lot of ways what we did was quite brave, to say, ‘We don’t need or want to do this at this point in our lives’” - Jamie MacColl

“The break was a way to get perspective again. It makes you come back to Bombay and realise that what we had was incredible. How come we weren’t cherishing it everyday?” says Jack. “When you’re caught up in the band bubble, it’s really difficult to appreciate exactly what you have and what you’ve achieved. Once you take a step back, it’s only then that you’re able to really appreciate what a special thing it is,” nods Suren. “Everything feels exciting again.” “When you haven’t done anything else, you’ll always have in the back of your mind [if there’s something better]. We had the affair and then came crawling back,” Jack grins. “Well, it was more like an agreed open relationship that was very forward-thinking, lots of group discussions and therapy. But now the relationship is stronger than ever. I’d recommend it to anyone.” ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ is out now via Island. DIY

Bombay Birthday Club When Bombay took their debut on the road at the end of last year for a 10th birthday spin, needless to say, some feelings were felt. Jack: It brought back a lot of memories, and not only that, you had your own to deal with and then you’d be staring at people in the crowd going through their own emotions and that was very touching. There were some tears in the front row; I saw some couples where obviously it was their song and they’d turn to each other and embrace. Suren: At Brixton [Academy] especially, we were really taken aback. Before the last song, the applause went on and on and we were just standing there, not knowing what to do, looking really awkward. Jamie: Which really encapsulates our general experience: not knowing what to do in the face of compliments.

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The work of an fatherhood final throes in the capital.

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KING KRULE Man Alive! (XL)

It’s been a busy few years for Archy Marshall. Following the release of 2017 opus ‘The Ooz’, the third album under his King Krule moniker, the artist has become a father and moved away from his native London. ‘Man Alive!’ serves as a loose series of snapshots, with most of it written during his pre-

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Opener ‘Cellular’ is a menacing statement of intent, finding the sounds of a rattling drum machine matching with haunting saxophone and Archy intoning “there’s a television speaking to me”. It’s the sound of a night-terror pressed onto a record, a quality that following track ‘Supermarché’ doubles down on. From here the album veers to rawthroated ragers with the one two punch of ‘Stoned Again’ and ‘Comet Face’ bristling with a raw energy that conjures up the sounds of a man left

trapped in a dystopian vision of South London - the final yell as the last train of the night pulls away. ‘Alone, Omen 3’ is another mesmeric moment on the album’s first half - it’s a steady builder that culminates with the sound of multiple King Krules intoning “you’re not alone” like the ghosts of life coaches past. It’s simultaneously bleak and invigorating in the way that all his signature tracks are. But it’s from here that the cracks within ‘Man Alive!’ start to show. Where ‘The Ooz’ was a complete world made up of its own idiosyncratic


rhythm, pulse and language, ‘Man Alive!’ doesn’t feel like its own distinct whole. This leaves the album with the feeling that certain pieces have been awkwardly stitched together, leaving the seams to show. It becomes clear on the record with ‘Slinky’ - the production has that haunting signature King Krule quality, but there is no discernible melodic reward within the song. ‘Don’t Let The Dragon (Draag On)’ is another one where it feels like Archy forgot to locate that extra something that moves his songs beyond being oblique mood pieces. It’s not all gloom at this point, ‘Theme

For The Cross’ is a redeeming spot: distant saxophones merge with one another with dreamy spoken word from Archy overlapping with the sounds of passing cars. It’s a marker of what makes him unique: the creation of an evocative song pieced together from disparate elements. Ultimately, ‘Man Alive!’ feels like the work of an artist in transition: a handful of stunning tracks surrounded by some backfiring experiments. It’s frustrating but there are still gems to be found amid the soul-searching. (Tom Sloman) LISTEN: ‘Alone, Omen 3’, ‘Theme For The Cross’

ILLUSTRATION: JENS WORTMANN

artist in transition. TRACK LISTING •CELLULAR •SUPERMARCHÉ •STONED AGAIN •COMET FACE •THE DREAM •PERFECTO MISERABLE •ALONE, OMEN 3 •SLINKY •AIRPORT ANTENATAL AIRPLANE •(DON’T LET THE DRAGON) DRAAG ON •THEME FOR THE CROSS •UNDERCLASS •ENERGY FLEETS •PLEASE COMPLETE THEE

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 TAME IMPALA The Slow Rush (Fiction)

Few artists in recent memory have developed as strong a musical stamp as Kevin Parker. Over 10 years and now four albums, the reluctant genius has created an oft-copied, rarely-equalled niche, updating a decades-old genre and splicing it with enough modern flourishes to occupy a space entirely of his own. To be “a bit Tame Impala” is now a universally-understood descriptor, a succinct byword for smart, multi-layered psychpop symphonies – the kind built equally for hazy summer evenings, late night headphone moments and, increasingly, the dancefloor. Most impressively, however, unlike many with such an immediately recognisable voice, KP’s also managed to push forward; there’s no doubt the man behind 2015’s ‘Currents’ was the same meticulous author of 2010 debut ‘Innerspeaker’, but behind the gentle Lennon vocals

It might make a star of its funk-heavy basslines, but there’s an everpresent underlying sadness here too.

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and heady sonic palettes, the influences had audibly shifted. Now, five years later, and ‘The Slow Rush’ pulls the same clever trick. It takes approximately two milliseconds of opener ‘One More Year’’s treated intro sample to know who’s on the stereo but, beneath the familiarity, Tame’s fourth is operating in a subtly different world. Where ‘Currents’ doffed its cap heavily to R&B within its pop smarts, creating his most commercial work yet, ‘The Slow Rush’’s ingredients feel slightly more disparate. ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’’ synths sound almost baroque among reflective lyrics about his father; ‘Breathe Deeper’ is loose and funky, while ‘Tomorrow’s Dust’ begins with softly-picked guitars, a musical cuddle before swelling into an opulent, dense patchwork that’s full and fleshed out without ever sounding OTT: always Tame Impala’s smartest move. Though there are still fully-fledged earworms to be found (previous single ‘Borderline’ remains a highlight, ‘Is It True’ a strutting bop), having taken Tame to the club on their last record, this time round Kevin seems more inclined to stand on the edge. A particularly lyrically meditative offering (“‘Cause it might have been something, who’s to say? / Does it help to get lost in yesterday?”), it might make a star of its funk-heavy basslines, but there’s an ever-present underlying sadness here too. However, if it’s a party for one Kevin Parker’s throwing on ‘The Slow Rush’, there are enough gems floating around the room here not to need any company. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Borderline’, ‘It Might Be Time’


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DOUGLAS DARE Milkteeth (Erased Tapes)

“I am free”, declares Douglas Dare in the first five minutes of this much-anticipated third album. A simple statement, yet a powerful one that encapsulates the unadorned essence of the album. Opening doors to his secret inner world filled with childlike wonder, ‘Milkteeth’ is a sparse and stripped-back lesson on intimacy and reluctancy to fit in. Written in only 12 days at his studio in Margate, ‘Milkteeth’ sees Douglas at his best: composing an ode to all things odd and wonderful. There’s urgency in his songwriting that is both instinctual yet thoroughly polished. In ‘Milkteeth’, we see him embrace his inner child in a way that’s both liberating and daunting as he invites us to reflect on the paradoxical nature of being young. From pain to joy, Douglas Dare’s world is a cyclical one that celebrates vulnerability and encourages us to be a bit nicer to each other. Which would be pretty good, wouldn’t it? And while his lyricism is filled with youthful nostalgia, his sound here is more mature than ever. Introducing an auto harp, his soundscapes are filled with a toned-down joie de vivre which makes the album stand out with its lucid simplicity. There is familiarity in his sound that flows through the album, eloquently dipping into influences ranging from Jeff Buckley to Leonard Cohen which makes ‘Milkteeth’ a stunningly harmonious musical journey filled with nostalgia. (Kasimiira Kontio) LISTEN: ‘I Am Free’

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LA ROUX Supervision (Supercolour)

When we last saw La Roux, back in 2014 with second fulllength ‘Trouble In Paradise’, the immaculately-tailored musician was lounging around ‘70s disco, taking the pop nous of her self-titled debut and adding a layer of sun-kissed sass. Six years on, Elly Jackson can still be found in the decade that taste forgot - but there’s a spark missing. At its best (‘International Woman Of Leisure’, ‘21st Century’) ‘Supervision’ evokes vintage TOTP2 performances, neon lights and spangly lycra included. Its worst, however, has the likes of ‘Automatic Driver’ and ‘Otherside’ sounding more Phoenix Nights, as if she’s just pressed play on an old keyboard preset. In the middle ground, then, it’s all largely inoffensive and wholly listenable. Which is fine, but we’ve come to expect more from La Roux. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘International Woman Of Leisure’

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CARIBOU Suddenly (City Slang)

Musically, Dan Snaith’s fifth album under the Caribou moniker is the outfit’s most diverse record to date, seeing Dan push his own vocals to the forefront, as on elliptical opener ‘Sister’. It’s a bewitching start and an instant sign that ‘Suddenly’ is to forego the slightly cheesy euphoria of 2014’s ‘Our Love’. There are still elements of his older sound - see the danceable ‘Never Come Back’ - one sure to resonate during the festival season. However, it’s in the more risky numbers that the album shines. ‘Like I Loved You’ shouldn’t work on paper, wonky pitch shifted guitars soloing over skittering Radiohead-esque rhythms, but it’s truly a treat. One of the only low points is ‘Ravi’, a track that feels a little bit contrite and tailor-made for the gap-year massive, something particularly jarring as it comes after the tranquil dream of ‘Magpie’. Fret not though, this is a minor blip on a record that swings towards the sensational and barely misses. ‘Suddenly’ is a treat and continues Carbiou’s knack of releasing albums that are both accessible and explorative. (Tom Sloman) LISTEN: ‘Like I Loved You’

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BLAENAVON demoitis

(Transgressive)

Blaenavon’s Ben Gregory released ‘demoitis’, a collection of 12 songs recorded over the past year, as a surprise present to fans on Christmas Day and, having openly and admirably addressed his ongoing mental health problems on October’s second full-length LP ‘Everything That Makes You Happy’, these songs act as a companion piece. While that album dealt with a young man feeling that he was degenerating to the borders of sanity, ‘demoitis’ deals with his tentative recovery. The upbeat tone of a song like ‘multiple + personality + disorder = friends for life’ suggests that while the narrator isn’t fully back to his old self, he’s well on the way, and though many of the tracks - such as ‘Michael’, featuring Francis Lung - are stripped-down, intimate torch-songs, they rarely sound dejected or negative. Winter can be a triggering time for people dealing with mental health issues and, as such, it’s laudable that Ben released these songs when he did; ‘demoitis’ acts as a way of letting listeners who are similarly affected know that things can get better. (Greg Hyde) LISTEN: ‘Michael’

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BRING ME THE HORIZON Music to Listen to...

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KESHA High Road

(Kemosabe / RCA)

(Sony)

Even as an interlude to Bring Me The Horizon’s catalogue of increasingly expansive studio albums, ‘Music To Listen To’ feels inevitable, building on the electronic creativity that has dotted the band’s work since 2008’s ‘Suicide Season’ and came to a head on last year’s ‘amo’. A conscious effort to give this side of their sound room to breathe, the release is another jump for a band who have thrived off leaping into new ventures, overtly chipping away at their deathcore roots and actively encouraging all-out destruction of musical boundaries. Mostly, it works. The Halsey featuring ‘¿’ delivers heavy bass lines and cleverly washes the star’s vocals with waves of synth, while the brilliantly ominous 10-minute ‘Steal Something’ unfolds as an expanded version of ‘amo’ opener ‘i apologise if you feel something’. The focal point, the indulgent 24-minute ‘Underground Big {HEADFULOFHYENA}’, proves the most divisive, intentionally pairing the EP’s spoken-word mantra with the most challenging, atypical sound the band have released in years. The result is jarring, as disconnected as its full title would suggest. Love it or hate it, Bring Me The Horizon are hellbent on rapidly pushing forward, embracing the often challenging possibilities of music, and avoiding the stagnant at all costs. With some self-editing, there’s no telling where this could lead. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘¿’

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SOCCER MOMMY color theory (Loma Vista)

Since the release of acclaimed 2018 breakthrough ‘Clean’, Sophie Allison aka Soccer Mommy has established herself as one of the most gifted storytellers of her generation. Translating complex emotional landscapes into uncompromising declarations on life, she traverses between joy and pain in a poignantly cathartic manner. On ‘color theory’, Sophie illustrates an honest self portrait of herself as a musician, addressing her struggles with mental health and family trials. Divided in three subsections - blue, yellow and grey - ‘color theory’ presents a saturated illustration of her struggles, oscillating between the highs and lows of life. Her signature sound is still there, yet on her latest offering, we can witness a more matured snapshot of an artist that is already wise beyond her years. On ‘circle the drain’ we hear her accurate yet bleak take on depression as she confesses “the days thin me out or just burn me straight through”. She encapsulates the spiralling mundanity of feeling blue without sugar coating it with unnecessary poetry. Soon after we’re hit by a wave of catharsis as she sings “Split open, watching my heart go round and round”, assuring us that there’s always a glimmer of hope - a perfect moment of clarity. And you know what? She’s right. (Kasimiira Kontio) LISTEN: ‘circle the drain’

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If 2017’s ‘Rainbow’ saw Kesha reclaiming her voice after a particularly difficult couple of years - marked by a stint in rehab and a highly-publicised lawsuit against producer Dr Luke - fourth album ‘High Road’ sees her defiantly giving two fingers up to haters and showing that she’s back living her best life. Throughout the new record, there’s all the dance-floor ready self-love anthems you could ever need. “Find my pictures under ‘legends’ if you google me,” Kesha yells out in guitar-bop ‘Honey’. Theatrical ‘Potato Song (Cuz I Want To)’ boasts the equally quotable line: “I’ll be naked because I WANT TO!”. “Life’s a bitch, so come on shake your tits,” she reasons in future club stomper ‘My Own Dance’. If you ever need a new Insta caption, Kesha’s got you. Granted, over the album’s 15 track run, some songs fall a little short (‘Cowboy Blues’ sounds like a twee mid-00s Taylor Swift attempt at musical comedy and the sickly-sweet Wrabel featuring ‘BFF’ feels like it’s gearing up for a drop that never comes) but, overall, ’High Road’ is an overwhelmingly triumphant pop offering that sees Kesha back at her best and having shit tons of fun while doing it. (Elly Watson) LISTEN: ‘Potato Song (Cuz I Want To)’


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STORMZY Heavy is the Head (#Merky / Atlantic)

With his second album, Stormzy had a lot to prove. Notoriously difficult at the best of times, it’s a much fiercer beast to tame once stoked with the expectations brought on by a killer headline set at the biggest festival in the world and following up a platinum-selling, Number One debut. And let’s face it, there’s only so long an artist as big as Stormzy can keep the gap between expectation and reality on a level playing field before it catches up with him. ‘Heavy Is The Head’ demonstrates he’s kept these opposing forces in perfect balance. Like life itself, there are flashes of humour, love, heartbreak, politics, fun, vulnerability and identity (in both its searching and celebratory form). Opener ‘Big Michael’ is pure grime, a balls-out battlecry of bravado bubbling on top of an urgent instrumental littered with stabs of brass. ‘Audacity’ follows providing a doubleshot of adrenaline, before the more meditative spirit of ‘Crown’ spills through the speakers as he attempts to make peace with his position as “the voice of the young black youth”. Beyond these first handful of tracks, Stormzy’s engulfing snarl is largely kept at bay in favour of a smoother style which drops in and out of melody. The second half of ‘Rachael’s Little Brother’ is a beautiful slither of piano-led balladry featuring full-on singing, and the interlude ‘Don’t Forget To Breathe’ sees Yebba providing a lush counter-melody to his soulful croon. Stormzy certainly has a mainstream audience to appeal to now, and yes, there are poppier moments here, namely ‘Superheroes’ and ‘Own It’ featuring Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy, but it never feels forced or like he’s pandering to his newfound audience, as he explains on the fun throwaway of ‘Pop Boy’ - “I’ll never stop popping, I’m the pop boy”. The labyrinthine complexities of human nature are explored here in all their grit and glory, but it’s the combination of Stormzy’s charm and his knack for storytelling that allows ‘H.I.T.H’ to glimmer with a universal appeal that will please both his mainstream audience and grime fans of old; an almost impossible task that he’s amazingly pulled off. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘Don’t Forget To Breathe’

Keeping expectation and reality in perfect balance.

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Pop’s new princess of darkness. 

POPPY I Disagree (Sumerian)

A “disturbing internet meme”. A candyfloss-eating YouTuber who claimed to be a robot. A character whose premise, it transpired, was largely cribbed by Svengali-type figure Titanic Sinclair from a past collaborator. Chances are, you’d heard of Poppy before you heard Poppy. And while the singer’s previous albums - 2017 debut ‘Poppy.Computer’ and the following year’s ‘Am I A Girl?’ - didn’t exactly fly under the radar, the latter featuring both then-label boss Diplo and a guest spot from Grimes, ‘I Disagree’ has her stepping irl and away from the computer with mind-bending results. With its saccharine pop moments sliced through by searing metal riffs, ‘I Disagree’ is like Sleigh Bells taken to extremes. This is most obvious on ‘BLOODMONEY’, as Poppy shouts, part playground rhyme, part mantra: “Keep telling yourself that you’ve been playing nice / Then go beg for forgiveness from Jesus the Christ”. ‘Anything Like Me’ high-fives Marilyn Manson’s ‘Beautiful People’ just as Billie Eilish’s ‘Bury A Friend’ did last year, and includes a barely-veiled reference to Mars Argo’s lawsuit (“You’ll never be anything like me / you shouldn’t be anything like me”), while ‘Sit / Stay’ has the star calling out the industry at large (“Godspeed to the radio star / stop the beat when they take it too far”). ‘Sick of the Sun’ is the outlier here, a largely-forgettable pure pop number that fades into medley closer ‘Don’t Go Outside’. Whether viewed as empowered statement from a newly-free artist, or simply as a great record from pop’s new princess of darkness, ‘I Disagree’ is in fact, extremely agreeable indeed. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘BLOODMONEY’

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BROOKE BENTHAM Everyday Nothing (AllPoints)

Drawn from the singer’s own soul-searching experiences following her graduation from university, ‘Everyday Nothing’ sees South Shields-born Brooke Bentham meditate on a burdened life of “black and heavy” feelings, dead-end jobs, social isolation and romantic struggle. Channeling the world-weariness of Angel Olsen with the upbeat and pretty pop sensibilities of Alvvays, Brooke’s voice wavers emotionally between total dejection - “I haven’t been wasted in months,” she mournfully intones on the gorgeous ‘All of My Friends are Drunk’ - to a confident hopefulness: “I’m here to feel something real” goes the defiant announcement of ‘Perform For You’. Amid the cool and pared-back Soccer Mommy-esque reflections (‘Telling Lies’, ‘Without’), and euphoric, building ballads (‘Perform For You’, ‘Keep It Near’), ‘Everyday Nothing’, with modern mastermind Bill RyderJones a notable presence on production duties, is also more than a little indebted to the heady sullenness of vintage ‘90s alt-rock, no less so than on fuzz-blasted rocker ‘Control’, awash as it is with whooshing guitars and hazy textures. Even the album’s artwork draws inspiration from Yo La Tengo’s back catalogue. Sensitive to a whole host of influences old and new, ‘Everyday Nothing’ is a confident, cohesive and finely-honed debut. (Connor Thirlwell) LISTEN: ‘Control’

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BEST COAST Always Tomorrow (Concord)

Q&A Brooke talks working with producer Bill Ryder-Jones, and finally creating a fulllength album. You’ve recorded with Bill Ryder-Jones, who has since joined your live band - how has it been working alongside him? We’re both quite miserable people so working together has been joyous. Really though, working with Bill has been wonderful. We are quite similar people I think. That, and he is also the best guitar player I know. Our music taste is very similar, so we had the same vision, and I trusted him. Him joining my live band was... ridiculous. I don’t know how I got him to do it, I still don’t know why he wanted to do it but I am so grateful. Being in the studio and being on tour are very different experiences and I’m glad we got to have a little bit of both together. How did you approach the creation of a full album versus your EPs? I was tired of doing EPs in all honesty. I don’t think they did much for my creativity. I was always thinking about changing my sound. Your debut album kind of gives you more of a place in the world. So I wanted it to be right. There’s a certain rhythm you’ve got to stick to with an album, whereas EPs you can kind of just do as you please. I’m already thinking of how I can make a better second album. With it, what ways has your sound shifted? All my influences are guitar-based, I needed someone to help me elevate what was in my head into real life. I’m a rhythm guitarist really. I’m not a shredder much to my own disappointment. So Bill was kind of perfect. As I say, we had very similar tastes so I knew I could trust him. The album’s hardly got any keys, they were a big part of my EPs. That’s the main shift really. Keys to guitars.

The main theme of 2015’s ‘California Nights’ was being devastatingly lovestruck. Bethany Cosentino’s melancholy lyrics tangled intricately with lo-fi surfer pop to distill the idea that Best Coast might be the Californian dream in human form. Five years later and the cloudy pessimism has been lifted. Sunshine has leaked through palm trees, the whiskey bottle has been shelved, old feelings have been put to rest and a more optimistic Best Coast have emerged. ‘For The First Time’, with its gracious skip, talks of moving on and feeling better for it, while ‘Graceless Kids’ cleverly references 2012 single ‘How They Want Me To Be’ through the lyric “Don’t want to be what they want me to be / I know I said that years ago” as Bethany details how she doesn’t want to be a hero. There are moments where the new-found positivity is thrown into doubt, however, ‘Master of My Own Mind’ seeing her juggle lingering thoughts about the future with happier outlooks, while ‘Seeing Red’ tells of an angry, sad and confused post-breakup spell. The ‘60s-infused soft-surf style that typified the emergence of Best Coast still remains on ‘Always Tomorrow’, but the added enthusiasm makes it feel much lighter. Overtly joyous and bulging with emotions both past and present, this album displays Best Coast at their most content. A rose-tinted outlook has never felt so great. (Hayley Millross) LISTEN: ‘Seeing Red’

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RATBOYS

Printer’s Devil (Topshelf)

It takes precisely 0 seconds for Ratboys to show that third album, ‘Printer’s Devil’, is a barnstorming treat. ‘Alien With A Sleep Mask On’ ticks all the hallmarks of a Ratboys song: bouncy riff, indelible hook, country undertones, energetic breakdown. It’s a set of tricks they use variously throughout the record, creating songs like ‘Look To’ and ‘Anj’, which manage to be swashbuckling while telling tales of self-doubt. Ratboys have more gears than simply ‘rock out’ though, as shown by the swaggering ‘Victorian Slumhouse’, and the dreamy build of ‘Clever Hans’. The highest heights are when Julia Steiner’s careworn words are given more space to shine, like in the haunting ‘A Vision’ or the rambling ‘My Hands Grow’. ‘Printer’s Devil’ is the sound of a band who’ve had a significant boost in their sonic confidence, even if Julia’s words are as fraught as ever. It’s a combination that should see them gain hordes of fans, if there were any justice in the world, but at this moment in history you’d be hard pressed to say there is. (Rob Hakimian) LISTEN: ‘My Hands Grow’

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THE HOMESICK The Big Exercise (Sub Pop)

Dutch band The Homesick appeared on most UK listeners’ radar with energetic debut ‘Youth Hunt’. It was a record that was as thrilling as it was chaotic. With follow-up ‘The Big Exercise’, the band have expanded their sound with mixed results. ‘Pawing’ follows an overtly kooky path, with chintzy harpsichord sounds meeting finicky drum patterns. It’s commendable that the band have tried to bring in different sounds to their palette but the levels of whimsy are so dialled up that it’s akin to hearing a vintage kids’ TV soundtrack in the middle of a hallucinogenic binge. Sometimes this pays off, the vocal harmonies appearing on both ‘Kaïn’ and the blissful ‘Small Exercise’ to bewitching effect, and the record is at its best when the band let loose. On ‘Children’s Day’ and feral closer ‘Male Bonding’ they really take off, chiming guitars meeting righteous bursts of noise. If The Homesick can keep some of these new elements and pare back the oddity just a little bit there might just be a great record in them yet. (Tom Sloman) LISTEN: ‘Kaïn’

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THE ORIELLES Disco Volador (Heavenly)

You’d be hard pressed to find another band in 2020 who sound like Halifax young’ns The Orielles. On the follow-up to their adventurous debut ‘Silver Dollar Moment’, the trio-turned-foursome blend a ton of influences to create a lush soundscape with a kitschy, ‘70s finish. Single ‘Bobbi’s Second World’ introduced a punchier new element to the group’s already pretty out-there sound, and it remains a firm highlight with its zesty synth sections and gang vocals. It’s somewhat of an outlier though; the rest of the record has a more low-key energy in the vein of Yo La Tengo or Stereolab: perfectly pleasant, but definitely a more passive listen. It’s an aesthetic that hoists ‘Disco Volador’ safely away from the clutches of wishy-washiness. From the striking artwork via the wild, sprightly theme tune ‘Space Samba’ that caps the album off in a tsunami of bongos and guitar distortion, The Orielles succeed in painting a vivid world of colour and flavour to get lost in. (Alex Cabré) LISTEN: ‘Space Samba’

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BANOFFEE

Look At Us Now Dad (Cascine)

The debut full-length by Australia-born Banoffee presents a powerful tale of survival. Predominately written following a move from Melbourne to LA, ‘Look At Us Now Dad’ is filled with conversational anecdotes of hard-fought affirmation. The frank lyrics tie together the comparable frivolity of opener ‘Tennis Fan’, and ‘One Night Stand’ with the sheer intensity of standout ‘Permission’ and the celebratory catharsis of the title track. Led by atypical synths, ‘Look At Us Now’ effortlessly plays with melody and structure, and the driving guitar in ‘Count On You’ pairs heavy rock with the electronic experimentation of SOPHIE. Released seven years after her debut single, ‘Look At Us Now Dad’ all-but parts with what has come before; the only survivor ‘Ripe’ reworked through a guest appearance by Chicago rapper CupcakKe. Instead, Banoffee rebuilds herself following a recent breakdown, the album both a middle finger to those who have beat her down and a mantra for recovery. ‘This Is For Me’ lays this bare. “Every song’s about you,” she repeats with subtle venom before declaring, “this is for me”. This selfbelief and liberal relatability have built Banoffee into a voice for the downtrodden. Interviews are filled with her progressive thoughts on acceptance, a champion and ally for LGBT+ rights, and for gender and racial equality. ‘Look At Us Now Dad’ may not tackle these directly, but in her journey to rediscover her own strength Banoffee has created a remarkable pop opus unquestionably destined to empower the marginalised. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘Permission’


 MUSH

3D Routine (Memphis Industries)

Mush have already carved out a reputation for eschewing compromise, between their chaotic early live shows and the fact the Leeds group made their breakthrough when the nine-minute ‘Alternative Facts’ was heavily rotated by Marc Riley on 6 Music. It closes proceedings on ‘3D Routine’, but before that, we’re taken on a deeply idiosyncratic rollercoaster that slaloms through styles; they sound like a weirder Pavement one minute on ‘Existential Dread’ and ‘Coronation Chicken’, and then suddenly veer off towards crunching, Tom Morello-esque riffery on ‘Fruits of the Happening’. The title track, meanwhile, is at once groovy and impressionistic, bringing in flecks of brass as the guitars duel, whilst ‘Eat the Etiquette’ and ‘No Signal in the Paddock’ take a loose approach to traditional time signatures. A quick scan of the track listing suggests a steep political bent to ‘3D Routine’ - ‘Island Mentality’, ‘Poverty Pornography’, the decidedly-forthright ‘Hey Gammon Head’ - but Dan Hyndman’s lyricism is sufficiently oblique that repeat runs are necessary to get a genuine sense of Mush’s approach to the skewering of the ruling class. Like the rest of ‘3D Routine’, it’s very much designed in their own image - as debuts go, this is an impressive mission statement. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Hey Gammon Head’

MAD SOUNDS Vocalist Daniel Hyndman spills on the records Mush were spinning while making ‘3D Routine’. Meat Puppets - Up On The Sun We’re very late to the party on Meat Puppets but they’re a bit of a recent obsession. Inventive guitar playing and songwriting. It’s got a great looseness to it and is sonically exciting. I could have picked between a few albums but this is the one I’m on at the moment. Richard Hell and the Voidoids - Blank Generation This became an after-the-fact reference point for our guitar sound. Myself and [Steve] Tyson (guitar) were doing that jaggy thing before either of us heard this record. But once we did it was handy to say to producers ‘Yeah, it’s supposed to sound like that’. Insanely good record, has the rawness you want from a debut, but the musicianship sets it apart. Bit of an obvious choice but is what it is. Can - Ege Bamyasi Everyone is pretty mad on this record. The groove of this record I think has seeped out into a few of our more groovy tracks before. We called our title track, ‘3D Routine’, ‘The Can One’ for a while before it got lyrics.

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BAMBARA Stray

(Wharf Cat)

What Athens, Georgia bunch Bambara do, they do very well. A relentlessly cold-hearted trip into music’s most deadeyed corners, theirs is a stalking, noirish take on Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party, one consistently flecked with elements of danger and violence. Across their fourth LP, the trio’s commitment to the dark side isn’t in question; even the song titles (‘Stay Cruel’, ‘Machete’, ‘Death Croons’) sound like the theme tunes of a movie villain. But while, in isolation, the slow skulk of opener ‘Miracle’, or recent single ‘Serafina’’s Crows-on-thedancefloor propulsion land a strong hammer blow, over 10 tracks you’re left yearning for a little light. Vocalist Reid Bateh has a claustrophobic sneer that lends the perfect sense of cruelty to Bambara’s wares, but again, it’s the kind of voice that has the tendency to make everything sound the same. There’s a slight wild western twang to ‘Heat Lightning’, some crashing guitars in ‘Ben & Lily’, but aside from ‘Death Croons’’ slightly ‘what just happened?’ cooing female backing vocals, much of ‘Stray’ could do with heeding its own advice; instead Bambara stay firmly on a strong but fairly predictable path (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Heat Lightning’

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SHOPPING All Or Nothing (FatCat)

The fourth album from Shopping - comprising members of Trash Kit, Sacred Paws, Current Affairs and Wet Dog - is another impressive collection of spiralling, high-energy dance-punk. Though here, the rougher edges of 2018’s ‘The Official Body’ have been smoothed over with a cleaner-cut production courtesy of US-based producer Davey Warsop, and enhanced with a newfound appreciation for classic ‘80s synth-pop: the heavy, dystopian keyboards driving the darkened discos of ‘Follow Me’, ‘For Your Pleasure’ and ‘Lies’ sound like nothing else produced in Shopping’s seven-year existence. And yet, these departures aside, all in all, it’s steady business as usual. ‘All or Nothing’ is a grand refinement of their previous work, rather than a reinvention. Still retained is that amazing sense of propulsion and momentum the group have made their own; ‘Initiative’ and ‘Body Clock’ are impossibly fast, constantly threatening to overbalance themselves, yet always remaining resolute and gloriously intact. (Connor Thirlwell) LISTEN - ‘Lies’

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HMLTD

West Of Eden (Lucky Number)

HMLTD’s backstory is a short but complex one. One of Britain’s most talked-about new groups around 2017, the extravagant art school quintet then went on to ink a huge major label deal with Sony. But that deal dissolved, taking a great deal of buzz with it. ‘West Of Eden’ is one of 2018’s most anticipated debuts seeing daylight at last. HMLTD’s songwriting has always been theatrical and glamorous, tongue in cheek while unashamedly pretentious, and nothing’s changed. Break-out singles ‘To The Door’ and ‘Satan, Luella & I’ as well as grisly live favourite ‘Where’s Joanna?’ are stupendously camp, with a wild western energy bristling in their swaggering riffs, while on ‘Why?’ and ‘149’ the band flirt with heady electro-pop à la PC Music. ‘Mikey’s Song’ is a stunning ballad of obsession, whose twinkling synths would sit just as comfortably on a Gary Numan or Depeche Mode record. With ‘West Of Eden’ HMLTD have fought off the suffocating grip of overhype to deliver a debut album that is a cut above the rest, even if it is a little overdue. (Alex Cabré) LISTEN: ‘Mikey’s Song’

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OH WONDER

No One Else Can Wear Your Crown (Island)

‘No One Else Can Wear Your Crown’ is the kind of chintzy sentiment emblazoned on as many mugs and home decorations as it is throughout Oh Wonder’s third album. It is - in a very relative sense, to stress - almost experimental for the duo. Josephine Vander Gucht’s feather-light vocal fragility is a pristine canvas on which they throw whatever will stick in an attempt to give themselves a much-desired edge. It has varying degrees of success. ‘Happy’ is paint-by-numbers pop, with an electronic-tinged chorus primed for the charts, while ‘Drunk On You’ feels hollow rather than meaningful. However, for every track that falls short, there is another where they hit a sweet spot. ‘How It Goes’ is a song of a thousand subtle textures. When the instrumental serves not to mask, but accentuate their voices - that’s when this record comes together. ‘Nothing But You’ has the frayed electronic hum of a broken wire as an undercurrent, while Josephine shakes off her sugar-sweet comfort zone in favour of a confessional, R&B-inspired flow. It’s these stark moments of honesty, stripped-back and unapologetic, that are the jewels in Oh Wonder’s crown. (Sophie Walker) LISTEN: ‘Nothing But You’

 GREEN DAY Father Of All... (Reprise / Warner)

Throughout their long and fruitful time as a band, Green Day have achieved far more than most could dream of. But while they’re still undeniably one of the great rock acts of their generation - proven time and time again by their huge live shows and festival headline slots - their more recent records just haven’t hit the mark. What is brilliant about new album ‘Father Of All...’, is that despite it marking their thirteenth (!) full-length, they’re still pushing themselves to experiment: here, no two songs sound the same. From the effect-drenched vocals of the opening title track to the gruff country-rock twang of ‘Stab You In The Heart’ via the mid-paced nostalgia of ‘I Was A Teenage Teenager’, this is an album that sees Green Day abandon any formula. Granted, it doesn’t always quite connect, and it probably won’t enter the Green Day canon, but it’s a bit of fun all the same. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘I Was A Teenage Teenager’

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REAL ESTATE The Main Thing (Domino)

Just over a decade since introducing their surf-splashed indie, ‘The Main Thing’ sees Real Estate switch untethered escapism for a more ambiguous route. Carrying a titular nod to Roxy Music’s ‘Avalon’, the New Jersey group are found plying melancholia through a coming-of-age lens - adopting the latter album’s creative maturity, if not its ‘80s sophisti-pop shimmer. In some sense, this slicker approach doesn’t seem much of a surprise, having recently developed their own wine brand, but it does represent a further commitment to a less definable image. That said, playful guitar-pop remains a feature, boasting plenty of hazy moments, frontman Martin Courtney ably orbiting through both the ‘Moon Safari’-like weekender chillout of ‘Friday’ and the nostalgic longing of ‘Shallow Sun’. Torn between old habits and a limber, more flexible stance, this fifth album stands as a misty mix of downtempo vibes with sombre, often questioning lyrics. Real Estate strike out here, thriving in the art of surprise and subversion. (Chris Hamilton-Peach) LISTEN: ‘Shallow Sun’

Nostalgia Corner:

TEENAGE DREAMS

 ALLIE X Cape God (Twin Music)

‘Cape God’ might well be Allie X’s most ambitiously pop release to date, but it lacks any edge she’s previously shown. ‘June Gloom’ and ‘Rings A Bell’ are both fun, meticulously-produced gems, but sonically it all has an inoffensive sheen. The tongue-in-cheek ‘Super Duper Party People’ perfectly displays the Canadian’s ability to create a refreshing take on what could otherwise be by-numbers pop, and ‘Devil I Know’ packs huge, layered melodies and a much-needed moodier side, but the latter also suffers heavily from sounding awfully similar to Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’. There are undeniably beautiful and anthemic moments here, but on the whole it falls short. ‘CollXtion I’ posed Allie as an exciting new songwriter, but this record fails to push boundaries in the same way. (Martin Toussaint) LISTEN: ‘Devil I Know’

As Northern Irish rockers Ash celebrate their 25th anniversary with the release of new retrospective ‘Teenage Wildlife’, we picked out a few gems from the record.

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NOVA TWINS

Who Are The Girls? (Joyrider)

Amy Love and Georgia South have opted for a full-throttle attack on debut, ‘Who Are The Girls?’, turning their wrath on gender inequality, sexual harassment, and their audience’s listening capabilities. Opener ‘Vortex’ is a jolting combination of effects and pedals, jumping from spoken-word verses to shattering screams. ‘Play Fair’ and ‘Bullet’ are other highlights, showcasing a ferocity and vocal capability not unlike Press Club’s Natalie Foster. There are moments, such as on ‘Taxi’, where the duo get overzealous with the effects - the subdued ‘Ivory Tower’ suggests they’re better off avoiding similar forays moving forward. Still, it’s hard not to commend Nova Girls for the gripping collision of influences that make up their debut, and their commitment to doing it so forcefully. (Ben Lynch) LISTEN: ‘Ivory Tower’

‘GOLDFINGER’

Named for an apparent similarity to the Shirley Bassey theme of the titular James Bond film, it’s also “the best song we’ve ever written,” according to frontman Tim Wheeler himself.

‘JESUS SAYS’

One of the group’s most immediate riffs, one of their best-selling singles to date, and some rather dark and hedonistic lyrics to boot.

‘BURN BABY BURN’

Originally written for ‘Nu-Clear Sounds’ and narrowly escaping the title ‘Slow Suicide’, this power pop number was also the first track played on the brand new BBC 6 Music radio station.

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NELSON CAN So Long Desire (Alcopop!)

There’s a sense that this second release from Danish trio Nelson Can is their first real statement of intent, representing a clean break from the synth-inflected indie rock of 2014’s ‘Now Is Your Time to Deliver’. There are hints of the smoky pop of compatriots The Raveonettes on the groove-driven ‘I Wanna Be with You’, while they approximate the murky, electronic claustrophobia of ‘Shulamith’-era Poliça with ‘No Longer Afraid’ and ‘So Long Desire (I’m Getting Over You’). Occasionally, they make a play for genuinely fresh stylistic ground, particularly on ‘Madness’, a minimalist, synth-driven shapeshifter. Such a mixed stylistic bag, though, begs the question of whether they might have spread themselves a little too thin. The icy detachment that closer ‘Yeah, I Didn’t Think So’ shoots for has been done to death over the past decade, and at points - particularly on ‘Limelight’ - frontwoman Selina Gin’s vocal affectations can begin to grate. Still, Nelson Can have demonstrated a hitherto unseen ambition with ‘So Long Desire’ - there’s a platform, now, for them to build on in earnest. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Madness’

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BEACH BUNNY Honeymoon (Mom + Pop)

Since their formation in 2015, Beach Bunny have teasingly released snippets of an evolving sound spanning acoustic-based bedroom pop to distortion-doused tracks. Last year’s ‘Prom Queen’ saw the band taking on an increasingly Best Coast-esque energy - high octane indie cutting through rapid-fire three-minute numbers. It’s a format that serves the band equally well on ‘Honeymoon’. Blasts of undiluted pop rock pump throughout, Beach Bunny championing a turbo-charged identity on bangers such as ‘Rear View’ and ‘Ms. California’ - surging forward with live-wire verve while glancing back lyrically. Frontwoman Lili Trifilio describes ‘Honeymoon’ as an ode to spontaneity, and it’s in certain abundance on an album that finds the Chicagoan outfit entering a state of pent-up rapture. The band roam without a care, sporadic laid-back moments gelled with raucous vitality a sensitive chemistry which Beach Bunny absolutely nail. (Chris Hamilton-Peach) LISTEN: ‘Ms. California’

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BAD SOUNDS Escaping From A Violent Time Vol. 1 (Theory)

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SPINNING COIN Hyacinth

Having already carved out a name for themselves with a largely euphoric indie-dance sound by the time they released debut album ‘Get Better’ back in 2018, Bath’s Bad Sounds are now following it up with this impressive five-track outing, ‘Escaping From A Violent Time vol 1’. Opener ‘Breathe’ finds the group once again on fine form, with synths and handclaps accompanying a winning melody. The infectious ‘Permanent’ is another highlight, while ‘Jenny’ takes influence from both trip-hop and the left field side of alt-J to create the most idiosyncratic moment on display. The earthy ‘Hard Times’ interlude gives way to ambitious closer ‘Sympathetic Vibrations’, which again shows off the sound of an act constantly broadening their palette of styles and influences, to constantly danceable - and refreshingly eccentric effect. (Dominic Penna) LISTEN: ‘Breathe’

(Geographic)

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, as the saying goes. Spinning Coin’s second album, ‘Hyacinth’, is an exercise in chasing silver linings, blindly trying to salvage diamonds in spite of the rough. In the intervening years since 2017 debut ‘Permo’, the Glasgow quintet have had more than their fair share of divide: personal, as well as geographic. ‘Hyacinth’ sees the newly-inducted Rachel Taylor come the fore, despite the gulf between the band’s native city and Berlin, where she was forced to relocate due to suffocating immigration laws in the UK. While the tapestry of the album is woven from summer-of-love psychedelia and sequinned guitars, it’s impossible to ignore its raw nerve. Disaster and laughter become curdled together on ‘Despotic Sway’, a diseased drawl reaching hysterics over a catchy slow jam. ‘It’s Alright’ with its stumbling guitarwork is a thunderous anthem, swaying between mess and clarity. “I know something good is going to happen,” Rachel sighs over and over like a spell on the finely-spun ‘Black Cat. Her voice is almost an instrument in its own right, and her addition into the band has given it a new dimension. Spinning Coin have tried to fortify themselves with different textures, from the harmonica on ‘Soul Trader’ to the analogue bubblepopping on ‘Get High’, but it feels as if these are tacked on for the sake of variety, while its jangling guitarwork is the pair of comfy slippers that they slip into at the end of the day. ‘Hyacinth’ shows Spinning Coin are okay with dipping their toes in the water of something new, but will leave you wishing they would just jump in. (Sophie Walker) LISTEN: ‘Black Cat’

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

LEE RANALDO & RAÜL REFREE

Names Of North End Women (Mute)



SUMMER CAMP Romantic Comedy (Apricot)

Doubling as a score to the directorial debut of band member Elizabeth Sankey, ‘Romantic Comedy’ pushes beyond the synth cloak of Summer Camp’s earlier work - opting instead for a flurry of bubblegum-pop melodies with a sideorder of orchestral strings thrown in. The duo have built a solid reputation for glitchy electro-pop, but normal service is put on ice here with a fifth album that, in a similar vein to previous soundtrack effort ‘Beyond Clueless’, proves all together less predictable - instrumental tracks scattered throughout, helping to break-up padded moments of its forty-two-minutes. That said, the Motown-indebted ‘Love Of My Life’, 70s yacht-rock of ‘Barefoot In The Park’ and breezy west coast drift of ‘You Complete Me’ inject a healthy dose of life into an offering that is a definite change of pace for the band, in both style and intent. ‘Romantic Comedy’ will possibly divide fans of Summer Camp’s more conventional releases - a sea change from the beat-driven nu-disco they excel at, but this is something to be expected in light of the album’s broader purpose. (Chris Hamilton-Peach) LISTEN: ‘Barefoot In The Park’

Q1: Who’d be your ideal stars of a future romantic comedy?

Former Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo has reunited with Spanish musician and producer Raül Refree, who produced the former’s 2017’s twelfth solo album ‘Electric Trim’, to commit to tape a series of songs inspired by an eerie late-night walk he took through a section of a Winnipeg neighbourhood where the streets are all named after women. It’s not likely to appeal to fans seeking more of the virtuoso abrasiveness Lee brought to his old day job - it features very few guitars at all. The songs were “composed using marimba and vibraphone, using samplers… and a modified cassette machine”. They - unsurprisingly - have a very haunting, torch song-like quality to them (particularly ‘Words Out of the Haze’). The tense intro to ‘Humps’ is a sonic highlight and the title track is accompanied by an excellent video which recalls Todd Haynes’ early work and incorporates imagery from Peter Tscherkassky’s Outer Space. ‘Light Years Out’ is an ill-advised journey into electro-funk territory but overall, ‘Names of North End Women’ is an interesting work that shows Ranaldo has retained all his youthful capacity for innovation and experimentation. (Greg Hyde) LISTEN: ‘Humps’

Q2: Where did you record the album?

Drawing Board Back to the

Q3: What’s your favourite scene in a romantic comedy?

With Summer Camp

Q4: If the album were a Valentine’s card, what would its message be?

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BEST OF 2019

SHARON VAN ETTEN REMIND ME TOMORROW

BON IVER - i,i

ANGEL OLSEN - ALL MIRRORS

KEVIN MORBY - OH MY GOD

STELLA DONNELLY - BEWARE OF THE DOGS

BETTER OBLIVION COMMUNITY CENTER

WHITNEY - FOREVER TURNED AROUND

SHURA - FOREVHER

AVAILABLE FROM ALL GOOD RECORD SHOPS NOW!

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



Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart

Football Money

A Situation

BLACK LIPS (Fire)

Since their inception in 2000, Black Lips have bashed out album after album of drooping, psychedelic punk rock. The formula was simple, but it worked. It’s somewhat bizarre then, that with ‘Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart’, the group appear to have taken a rather drastic u-turn. Their 9th studio album sees the Atlanta punks pivot to a very peculiar brand of country sleaze. ‘Gentlemen’ and ‘Dishonest Man’ jump straight out of the basement and into the rodeo. Gone are the mangled ‘Nuggets’ riffs and LSD infected yelps, replaced instead by slide guitars and deranged yee-haws. It shouldn’t really work, but it does. Country rock hasn’t sounded this weird since The Legendary Stardust Cowboy jumped into his riding boots. Maybe change isn’t such a bad thing after all. (Jack Doherty) LISTEN: ‘Dishonest Man’

KIWI JR (Persona Non Grata)

Tackling issues of modern consumerism is certainly not untrodden ground, and now Canada’s Kiwi Jr have thrown their hat into the fray with debut ‘Football Money’. They set out their stall early with single ‘Salary Man’, in which vocalist Jeremy Gaudet plays the role of the protagonist and recalls his mistreatment of others simply trying to help out, lamenting his desire for “cigarettes from Japan that taste like oranges”. ‘Nothing Changes’, meanwhile takes a more beleaguered tone, Jeremy bemoaning the lack of development while dressed in the band’s sprightly post-punk. Selfaware and packed with hooks, ‘Football Money’ is not purely a commentary. While stuffing itself with enough insight to force its listeners to acknowledge issues, there’s also enough charm and wit to remind us of the importance to having a little fun along the way. (Ben Lynch) LISTEN: ‘Gimme More’

WRANGLER (Bella Union)

As everything good about the world goes up in flames, Wrangler provide a party fit for the end of time. ‘A Situation’ plays heavily on consciousness, combining outdated and primal synths with lyrics portraying a dystopian AI-lead future. This album is not for easy listening. Opener ‘Anthropocene’ is a paranoid dance track, lyrically hinting that something bad is on the horizon. ‘Anarchy of Sound’ could plausibly be the lovechild of Four Tet’s ‘Beautiful Rewind’ and Jeff Lynne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ soundtrack, simultaneously fearful yet fearless. It’s not all doom and gloom however - future classic ‘Mess’ is both sonically uplifting as are the words that hint at a technological reform. Every single moment of ‘A Situation’ feels dreadfully real and groovy as heck, so prepare yourself mentally - you may start to believe the matrix is real. (Martin Toussaint) LISTEN: ‘Anarchy of Sound’

MING UP:COMING UP:COMING UP:COMING UP MYSTERY JETS

LAUV

~how i’m feeling~ The internet’s new fave pop idol will drop his 21-track epic on 6th March.

RINA SAWAYAMA

Sawayama If game-changing single ‘STFU’ is indicative of anything else on Rina’s first full-length, it’ll be a dream. Out 17th April.

A Billion Heartbeats Delayed from its initial release date back in September following frontman Blaine Harrison’s emergency surgery, it’ll now be out on 3rd April.

PORRIDGE RADIO Every Bad The Brighton group have inked a deal with Secretly Canadian that’ll see their debut released on 13th March.

SORRY 925

The North London indie kids will finally release an album! ‘925’ is released on 27th March.

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DIY

P: JANUARY

TUES 28 • MOLES, BATH &THE PLEASURE DOME WED 29 • 60 MILLION POSTCARDS, BOURNEMOUTH &SURFIN BIRDS THU 30 • THE BUNKHOUSE, SWANSEA &ALL DEAD, ALL DEAD

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ALL OTHER TRADEMARKS USED WITH PERMISSIONS.

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IT’S YOUR ROUND A big inter-band pub quiz of sorts, we’ll be grilling your faves one by one.

THIS MONTH: JAMES POTTER, WALT DISCO

Location: The Old Blue Last, London.

General Knowledge

Specialist Subject:

Marine life 1. What has been referred to as ‘mater und matrix’? No idea. Water! No, didn’t know that. 2. Which is the largest ocean? Pacific. Yes! 3. What is the largest known jellyfish? The Portuguese man o’war? It’s the Lion’s Mane [Ed also we Googled and the

Portuguese man o’war isn’t even a jellyfish]. 4. How long is the Japanese spider crab’s leg span? Er, 2.8 metres? It’s 5.5 metres. 5. How many teeth does the great white shark have? 250? Not far off, it’s 300.

1/5

FINAL SCORE: 82 DIYMAG.COM

2/10

1. What object was banned for purchase by the NHS in 2019? Banned? Fuck, cigarettes? Fax machines. 2. What are the small indentations on a golf ball called? No idea. They’re dimples. 3. What is the only word in the English language ending in the letters ‘mt’? Presumpt? That’s ‘pt’! It’s dreamt.

Verdict: “I’m embarrassed by that.”

Oh aye. 4. The last words of which rock and roll star were said to be ‘I’m going to the bathroom to read’? Elvis Presley [laughs] Yes! 5. Amarelle, May Duke and Morello are all types of which fruit? Orange? They’re all cherries.

1/5


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TAME IMPALA

THE SLOW RUSH

SATURDAY 23RD MAY 2020

“Expansive and fascinating” Mojo ★ ★ ★ ★ “Another masterwork… Woozily gorgeous” Uncut ★ ★ ★ ★

THE NEW ALBUM OUT 14 TH FEB 84 DIYMAG.COM

Includes the singles ‘Borderline’ & ‘Lost In Yesterday’

Profile for DIY Magazine

DIY, February 2020  

It's the first new issue of the decade! Our cover star is Tame Impala's Kevin Parker, who reflects on new album 'The Slow Rush' (and how it...

DIY, February 2020  

It's the first new issue of the decade! Our cover star is Tame Impala's Kevin Parker, who reflects on new album 'The Slow Rush' (and how it...