PLUS BIFFY CLYRO FONTAINES DC LAUV • SORRY HMLTD
FREE • MARCH 2020 • ISSUE 94 DIYMAG.COM
Rina Sawayama The
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8TAYLOR SWIFT • TWENTY ONE PILOTS
PLACEBO • GLASS ANIMALS • WOLF ALICE • ANGEL OLSEN
SAM FENDER • YUNGBLUD • SEASICK STEVE • ASHNIKKO • HINDS • THE REGRETTES CREEPER • SPORTS TEAM • SEA GIRLS • MONTERROSA • THE LEVITANTS
NATOS Y WAOR • SFDK • HARD GZ • SANTA SALUT
9 BILLIE EILISH • THE KILLERS • FOALS • CAGE THE ELEPHANT
DEFTONES • ANDERSON .PAAK
& THE FREE NATIONALS
SIGRID • CHARLI XCX • REX ORANGE COUNTY • PHOEBE BRIDGERS • REFUSED • FINNEAS THE COMET IS COMING • PALE WAVES • ALEC BENJAMIN • HOBO JOHNSON CONFIDENCE MAN • CALA VENTO • BEABADOOBEE • VIVA BELGRADO CHERRY GLAZERR • BRUTUS • SWIT EME & THE LOVEMAKERS
FOUR TET • PEGGY GOU • FLOATING POINTS dj set • OCTO OCTA • CCL
ALT-J • HAIM • JAMIE CULLUM • TOVE LO • PARCELS
CLAIRO • TONES AND I • RICHARD HAWLEY • NOTHING BUT THIEVES FRANK CARTER • CITY AND COLOUR • HIGHLY SUSPECT • GOODBYE JUNE BLACK PUMAS • SCARYPOOLPARTY • BABY ROSE • SLEEP TOKEN BANG BANG ROMEO • ZAIDBREAK • PRESUMIDO NINA KRAVIZ • STEPHAN BODZIN live • RÜFÜS DU SOL • PAULA TEMPLE & THE RATTLESNAKES
TYCHO • HAYDEN JAMES
11 KINGS OF LEON • FAITH NO MORE
PIXIES • MAJOR LAZER • KHALID • LONDON GRAMMAR
KALI UCHIS • PAUL WELLER • THE RAPTURE • TOM MISCH • STICKY FINGERS • THE STRUTS TWO FEET • TOM GRENNAN • BLOOD RED SHOES • MARIKA HACKMAN • EASY LIFE ANGIE MCMAHON • ARLO PARKS • DINOSAUR PILE-UP • WARMDUSCHER MERIDIAN • GONG LI • ELURE
DIPLO • MODESELEKTOR live • ANNA • LEON VYNEHALL
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Listening Post What’s been worming its way around DIY’s collective earholes this month?
POTTERY WELCOME TO BOBBY’S MOTEL
One of the standout bands of 2019’s The Great Escape and SXSW, so good we saw them thrice, Montreal’s Pottery are now readying a debut and it’s just as much of a wild rollercoaster ride of post-pop-psychdance-punk as we’d hoped.
LA PRIEST - GENE
The former Late of the Pier frontman returns with his second solo outing and, true to form, it’s a squelching feast of electronic exploration. A true sonic wizard, it’s good to have him back.
Question! The breakout star of this year’s BRITs was the glorious friendship of Harry ‘n’ Lizzo. Which two pop stars would Team DIY like to go on the razz with? SARAH JAMIESON • Managing Editor Come on, we all know Adele would be the perfect night out partner-in-crime, and Mark Ronson definitely knows 1) the best soundtrack and 2) how to get into all the best spots. Dream team!
EMMA SWANN • Founding Editor I honestly can’t think beyond #Hizzo atm: they’d be the most fun. Like a constant girls’ toilet queue lovein - with shots. Wouldn’t want to take ‘em on at karaoke, mind.
LISA WRIGHT • Features Editor Josh Homme for the tequila slammers; Grimes for the 3am mind-addled chats about the afterlife. Also reckon they could write a pretty great / strange collab. LOUISE MASON • Art Director
MYSTERY JETS - A BILLION HEARTBEATS
Finally getting its rightful time to shine after an original 2019 delayed release date, the Jets’ latest is almost ready to greet the world. Packed full of warmth, humanity, righteous anger and bangers to boot, it’s more than worth the wait.
Editor's Letter The first time we put Rina Sawayama’s blistering single ‘STFU!’ on the office stereo, we were hooked. Managing to sound as if she was channelling both Charli XCX and Marilyn Manson in one glorious swoop, the first taste of her debut album instantly marked her out as a pop superstar in the making, and we knew she’d be perfect for the cover of our March issue. Spoiler alert: we were right! As well as meeting Rina over in New York for our cover feature, this month we also rendezvoused with London’s most enigmatic band Sorry, got a liiiittle bit weird with Baxter Dury and took an adorable puppy to meet popbanger-pro Lauv. Plus, Biffy Clyro, Fontaines DC, Jehnny Beth AND Gorillaz all give us the first word on their new projects. Dive in now... Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor
Courtney Barnett, so I could fulfil my dream of beating her at pingpong, and Matt Berry to provide running commentary the whole evening. We’ll all be BFFs.
ELLY WATSON • Digital Editor Hanging out with Miley Cyrus and Wayne Coyne back in their ‘Dead Petz’ era seems equal parts a nightmare and the best fucking time ever. Also, think of the outfits!
Shout out to: Jack Danielâ€™s and Independent Venue Week for co-hosting our most excellent Demob Happy tour, everyone involved in making our Rina cover look bloody gorge, Mascara Bar, Baxter Duryâ€™s son who came home to some unusual bath-based shenanigans and the one, the only Sparkles the dog: a true superstar. Follow her at @sparkles_foxylady.
NEWS 8 Biffy Clyro 14 Fontaines DC 12 Phoebe Bridgers 18 Gorillaz 20 Jehnny Beth 24 Festivals NEU 30 Porridge R adio 32 PV A 37 Cavetown Features 38 Rina Sawayama 46 Sorry 50 Waxahatchee 54 Baxter Dury 58 HMLTD 60 Lauv R eviews 64 Albums 76 Live 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.
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor Lisa Wright Digital Editor Elly Watson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Bella Fleming, Ben Tipple, Cady Siregar, Charlotte Krol, Jack Doherty, Jack Johnstone Orr, James Balmont, James Bentley, Jemima Skala, Jenessa Williams, Joe Goggins, Kasimiira Kontio, Louisa Dixon, Martin Toussaint, Patrick Clarke, Rob Hakimian, Rosie Hewitson, Sean Kerwick, Shefali Srivastava, Will Richards, Vrinda Jagota Photographers Ed Miles, Eva Pentel, Jess Farran, Patrick Gunning, Pooneh Ghana, Sharon Lopez, Tim Easton
Cover photo and this page: Jess Farran For DIY editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales: email@example.com For DIY stockist enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org DIY HQ, Unit K309, The Biscuit Factory, 100 Drummond Road, London SE16 4DG
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NE WS No Rest For The Wicked
DESPITE HAVING UNLEASHED TWO FULL RECORDS SINCE THE RELEASE OF THEIR LAST STUDIO LP ‘ELLIPSIS’, BIFFY CLYRO ARE SHOWING NO SIGNS OF TIRING. NOW, THEY’RE KICKING OFF THE NEW DECADE WITH A NEW LEASE OF LIFE, AND AN INTRIGUING, LIBERATING EIGHTH ALBUM PROPER. Words: Sarah Jamieson.
hen most artists decide to take a bit of downtime between records, it’s usually marked by a long stint away from social media, maybe a holiday, or just a bit of good old-fashioned quiet. What isn’t normally involved is the making of not one but two new records on the side. However, for Biffy Clyro, that turned out to be exactly what would happen. Having released seventh album ‘Ellipsis’ back in 2016, they soon hit the top of the charts, securing themselves as one of the UK’s Biggest Rock Bands™ once more, and subsequently set off on a world tour of giant venues and festivals for the best part of eighteen months. But rather than deciding to put their feet up until LP8 came calling, they soon confirmed plans for two new projects. First up, the trio swapped their noisier offerings for the more stripped-bare MTV Unplugged tour, which would later birth its own new release; then, they turned their hand to film scoring. That soundtrack, ‘Balance, Not Symmetry’, landed last May.
Yet, as it turns out, the process of making both their MTV Unplugged and ‘Balance...’ records worked as more of a palate cleanser than they’d potentially anticipated. “Putting out ‘Balance…’ last year, it liberated us, and made me remember the pure joy of writing music,” he admits. “[Albums are] all so contextualised normally. You know, this [new album] is a big record release, so by the time it comes out, we’ll have talked it sideways, whereas with ‘Balance...’, we didn’t have to talk about it at all. That really influenced and infiltrated this record a lot more than I think we’d have anticipated. “[It was the same with] ‘Unplugged’ as well… We loved that tour, it’s a lot of fun to do a tour sitting down - and clothed!” he chuckles. “But it made me realise that we’re not at that stage as a band yet. I knew when we did it, some people would think, ‘OK, Biffy will become that band now.’ But with ‘Balance…’ and this record, they’re a reaction to that. No, we’re not maturing in any way! We’re still unlearning in every way possible.”
“We’re not maturing in any way! We’re still unlearning in every way possible.” - Simon Neil
Back to the present day, just a few weeks into a new decade, and Biffy are ready to pick up where ‘Ellipsis’ left off. “Like most records, there’s always a real fear that potentially what you’re doing is going to be the worst thing you’ve ever done, which I think probably gives me a certain level of comfort,” laughs frontman Simon Neil, as he sits alongside his bandmates in a record label office.
In many ways, Biffy Clyro have never been an easy band to pin down. Having spent the best part of two decades perfecting the art of musical shape-shifting - proving that, yes, the same band can write both barbed, scream-laced math-rock and swooning chart hits to boot - their eighth album proper looks set to go even further down that path. “I really wanted this record to feel like a 2020 record,” declares Simon. “There are certain things on this record that we couldn’t have done a few years ago, never mind 9
HAVE YOU HEARD? ‘INSTANT HISTORY’ Biffy Clyro are no strangers to ginomous bangers and stadium-filling sets, but on their brand new offering - and first taste of Album Eight - they really do turn things up well past 11. Take the giant refrain of ‘Mountains’ or dizzying chorus of ‘Black Chandelier’ and stick them in a blender with some serious electronic drops and you’re closer to the tremendous sound of ‘Instant History’. An admittedly out there step for the trio - who, let’s face it, so easily could have played it safe - if this isn’t a surefire anthem for festival seasons to come, we just don’t know what bloody will be.
would have done! For a band like us, it’s always about moving forward and trying to progress and never settling for what we’ve done [before].” “When you become a successful band,” adds bassist James Johnston, “you’re always at risk of becoming unsuccessful, so you just can play to the shareholders. Every band’s different and I don’t want to criticise... No, I DO want to criticise because it’s just a bit lazy. We should always be trying to do something new, otherwise, what’s the point?” One variable they didn’t change on their latest experiment, however, was their producer. Once again, the band decamped to Los Angeles (“Being in that part of the world brings a spirit to our music that we otherwise wouldn’t achieve,” notes Simon) to work with Rich Costey, who worked on ‘Ellipsis’. “The more records you make with somebody, the more the relationship evolves and it definitely did,” continues James. “But there’s also still a challenge with Rich, and I think that’s why it’s great working with him. We maybe have slightly different trains of thought and he pulls something out of us, and hopefully we pull something out of him.” “When you make a second record with someone,” adds Simon, “the relationship is so different. The first one is almost like an extended first date - no one wants to upset anyone - but with the second, you’re like, ‘Right, I’m into you’ and you relax a bit more. That’s why we make three records with each producer [Chris Sheldon was at the helm for their first three, with GGGarth Richardson on board for the following trio] - or at least, that’s the plan. 10
With your second [record], you’re realising your full potential, and on the third one, it’s maximised because you don’t even need to communicate, it just happens. Then at that point, it’s all downhill from there…” Far from going downhill, however, and now easing into their familiar second date, Biffy’s forthcoming new album is one that’s packed with a renewed sense of confidence and an uninhibited boldness. Still harnessing their innate talent for creating huge, atmospheric rock songs, even the tasters that DIY hear today hint at a record littered with unexpected swerves. ‘Instant History’’s chorus boasts a mammoth drop while, from the buoyantly addictive guitar lines of ‘Tiny Indoor Fireworks’ to the unhinged, wurlitzerstyle instrumental that takes over ‘Cop Syrup’, the band are pushing their boundaries with every turn. “I feel like only Biffy could make this record,” says Simon, confidently. “On all of our records, there are moments on it when I don’t feel like anyone else would ever consider doing what we do. With our fans and any listener, we try and show them respect. Some people talk down to their fans, but people are a lot more capable and sussed out than they’re given credit for. “I think what’s given us the life as a band that we’ve had and what keeps us feeling like a new band on each album - is that people have joined us on our journey,” he nods. “And hopefully when people go back and revisit things, they discover something new every time. I think this album has those layers to it; as you get to know it, it’s just going to slowly reveal itself.” DIY
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SHOW ME THE PUPPY WE LOVE DOGS. YOU LOVE DOGS. HERE ARE SOME POPSTARS’ DOGS.
This month: Willie J Healey Name of pup: Jeff Tweedy Healey Age: 2 Breed: Boxer Favourite things: Chasing tennis balls, resting balls on legs, eating human food. Please tell us a lovely endearing anecdote about your dog: He likes to watch TV, Monty Don to be precise. He likes the garden noises of birds, trees in the wind, and far off bumble bees.
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.
WHAT A LEDGE This month: Adele
et us begin with a caveat: yes, we know multi-million-selling, millions-of-awards-winning national treasure Adele is already a legend. Duh, we’re not that dumb. But this month, this month dear readers, the Tottenham native has gone above and beyond. Yes, she announced that the world can “expect [her] album in September” cause to celebrate enough - but how did she do it? Whilst playing honorary reverend, officiating Hugo Maccabees’ wedding, no less: a wedding that also saw potentially the greatest wedding band of all time rock up for a sing song, featuring Adele, Florence Welch, Jamie T and A FULL MACCABEES REUNION. Makes your cousin’s knees-up in the function room of All Bar One seem a bit underwhelming now, doesn’t it.
You have to kiss a few rats before you find The One, eh Tyler? (@feliciathegoat)
When you’re a world-famous pop star, you have to take your naps where you can get them. (@billieeilish)
S P OT T E D
Believe it or not, pop and rock stars sometimes do normal things, too. They get lost, go food shopping, and catch buses - all sorts. This month, we clocked a fair few of them roaming around…
Oscar Sundara Karma off to dinner in Dalston; Rakel Dream Wife, James Righton, Noel Fielding and Henry Sports Team at The Strokes’ epic Roundhouse show; Arlo Parks watching Angel Olsen at Hammersmith Apollo; half of Shame attempting unsuccessfully to find an after-after-party in Brixton. 12
Mark has his own take on bedroom pop. (@iammarkronson)
Photo: Pooneh Ghana.
“Writing is how we find happiness.” Carlos O’Connell 14
In The Studio: FONTAINES DC
The breakthrough band of 2019 show no signs of relenting, and have already finished work on a “dreamier” second effort that tries to make sense of their whirlwind year. “I’m obsessed with it,” guitarist Carlos O’Connell tells us. Words: Will Richards.
his time last year, Fontaines DC were softly tipped as ones to keep a close eye on in preparation of debut album ‘Dogrel’. Fast forward 12 months and, with a UK Top 10, tours sold out worldwide and more huge dates already ahead of them, they now sit comfortably as the guitar band of the moment. After such a whirlwind period, you’d probably forgive the Dubliners for taking a lengthy and well-earned rest. But, as guitarist Carlos O’Connell explains to us just weeks after rubbing-stamping Album Two, going straight back into the scrum was the quintet’s way of processing their frenetic, non-stop year. “Writing is how we find happiness,” he affirms. “No matter where you are, or what you have, if you weren’t still writing and creating, not much of it would make sense. It’s something that we just need to do.” After penning nearly 30 songs in a slither of downtime at the end of last summer without the specifically-defined intention of writing an album, a handful of the new material “felt like it followed a theme and complemented each other,” Carlos tells us, and thus the idea of Fontaines’ as-yetuntitled second record was born. Streamlining and whipping the material into shape around near-constant touring, the band “We’ve allowed for then hit ‘Dogrel’ any sound we thought producer Dan Carey’s South London studio was ours to make it (which also serves onto the album.” as the HQ for DIY Carlos O’Connell label-du-jour Speedy Wunderground) at the very beginning of 2020. “He’s got a very privileged position, you know,” Carlos explains of their decision to work with the producer again. “Having done the first album, he’s a very good judge of how the second one should develop in terms of sound and stuff. You know you can bring something new to the table but keep intangible qualities.” ‘Dogrel’ travelled through many states across its length, not tying the band down to one particular sound; raucous punk (‘Big’) and boozy Britpop-influenced bangers (‘Boys In The Better Land’) sat alongside widescreen soundscapes (‘Television Screen’) and drunken basement bar singalongs (‘Dublin City Sky’) in perfect harmony. Album Two, meanwhile, is set to see the band’s net cast even wider. “There’s a certain feeling of dreaminess and a reality that’s very confused, one that’s aggressive to your senses but not direct,” the guitarist explains of the new record. “That’s kind of how our last year has been - moving all the time and
touring, and being flipped upside down and downside up.” In the two songs the band previewed on their sold-out UK tour in November, this confusion and paranoia comes to the fore. ‘Televised Mind’, a track the band have been playing live for a good while now, is a creepy, cutting trip down darker paths, while the aptly-named ‘Lucid Dream’ is a shoegaze-influenced cut led by a melodic bassline: with an outro that stretches out with style, those dreamy qualities firmly establish themselves. “Some of the songs are quite up-tempo and upbeat, but a lot of them are quite soft and slow,” he continues. “In the same way we did with ‘Dogrel’, we’ve allowed for any sound we thought was ours to make it onto the album. We don’t like to be defined by one sound only, because I think that’s quite unrealistic. Every person has so many dimensions to themselves and their lives, so to stick to one sound only as a band, I don’t see the point of it.” However, despite its musical diversity, ‘Dogrel’’s narrative could be pinned firmly to a time and a place - to Dublin. Nearly a year on from its release, it’s something Carlos retrospectively sees as having been both beneficial and detrimental to the record’s reception. Album Two is set not to repeat the trick. “I think anyone that bought ‘Dogrel’ is gonna love this album, but I also think a lot of people who didn’t ‘get’ ‘Dogrel’ are also gonna love this record as well,” he says. “‘Dogrel’ was a very specific record, and made a lot of sense to us when it was being made. It was a perfect mirror of our lives at the time, and I think universally it was a mirror of a lot of other people’s lives as well. People could relate to it even if they weren’t from Dublin. “It’s a record that’s quite specific, and a record I understand that a lot of people rejected, but I think this new record is going to…” he pauses, before placing his flag firmly in the ground. “I know you can’t please the world, but I think we’re presenting something with this record that hasn’t really been presented before. The album, and the way it’s been constructed, just makes a lot of sense to us. The whole thing resonates with our [last] year, from start to finish. “I’m obsessed with it, to be honest,” he concludes surely. “I’m proud of it, and it’s a record that I listen to as if it wasn’t mine. We’ve made a piece of music that excites me a lot.” DIY 15
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Dash Water Thousands of pieces of perfectly tasty wonky fruit are binned every week, so Dash Water is rescuing the little guys and turning them into a fresh’n’fruity flavoured drink. And, the raspberry and cucumber sparkling beverages now come in glass bottles, too. A+. RRP: £2.99 Buy it: Boots, Sainsburys
DIY’S PICK OF
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.
In the market for more than just new music? We’ve got you covered. This month, we’re throwing our arms around the planet and bringing you some easy wins to make your everyday life more eco-friendly. If you’re not doing it for yourself, do it for Greta.
Rina Sawayama Nationwide, from mid-May With debut album ‘Sawayama’ hitting shelves both literal and figurative next month, Rina has a handful of live dates planned for May, including Glasgow’s infamous King Tut’s, Birmingham’s O2 Institute 3, and London’s Electric Brixton.
Nationwide, from late April Following the release of single ‘Animals’ back in January, the North London group head out for a short tour, including London’s Electric Ballroom and the Thekla in Bristol. Rock Rose Gin We’ve always maintained that drinking is good for you (shut up, science), and what better way to prove our point than with Rock Rose Gin - who now ship their lovely booze in recyclable pouches (with free postage) that you can send back for refills. RRP: £30 Buy it: dunnetbaydistillers.co.uk 16
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Nationwide, from early May Called “the motherfucking future” by Charli XCX, the North East newcomer begins this headline tour at home at Newcastle’s Riverside. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource
THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD TOUR APRIL 2020 | UK 01.04 | CAVES | EDINBURGH 02.04 | CITY VARIETIES | LEEDS 03.04 | LEADMILL | SHEFFIELD 09.04 | GORILLA | MANCHESTER 10.04 | BUSH HALL | LONDON metropolismusic.com | THISFEELING.CO.UK bangbangromeo.com A Metropolis Music & This Feeling presentation by arrangement with Solo
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MONKEY IT’S BEEN NEARLY TWO FULL DECADES SINCE GORILLAZ FIRST REINVENTED THE MUSICAL WHEEL, PROVING THAT IT WAS POSSIBLE TO BECOME A GLASTONBURY-HEADLINING BAND WHILST ALSO BEING, Y’KNOW, FICTIONAL CHARACTERS. NOW, WITH NEW PROJECT SONG MACHINE - A SERIES OF COLLABORATIVE SESSIONS, FEATURING A HOST OF SPECIAL GUESTS AND DRIP-FED IN PODCAST-STYLE EPISODES - THE GROUP, STILL HELMED BEHIND THE SCENES BY DAMON ALBARN AND JAMIE HEWLETT, ARE PROVING THEY CAN STILL PUSH THE ENVELOPE. WE DROPPED NOODLE, 2D, RUSSEL AND MURDOC A LINE TO SEE WHAT MUSIC’S MOST ANIMATED TALENTS HAVE IN STORE... Interview: Lisa Wright 18
Tell us a bit about the idea behind Song Machine - how is it different to recording a traditional ‘album’? Russel: That’s classified, so here’s a metaphor. You know how a giraffe gives birth standing up? Then baby giraffe gets up, kisses mum, and they just go about their day like ‘Yeah, WHAT?’ Well, that’s Song Machine. Whole new way of delivering music. Gorillaz just evolved. Why did you want to switch it up now? Were you getting itchy feet? 2D: A wise old man once said to me, ‘Go away Stuart, I’m not interested in your peanut collection!’ That was when I stopped collecting peanuts and got into music. So if your feet are itchy, change your socks. The idea behind Song Machine is that people can peek behind the curtain of the sessions - what can we expect to find there? Noodle: We have a saying: ‘A frog in a well does not know the ocean’. We believe this very much and try always to have a wider view. We like that for our audience too. In the first snippet, there’s an argument over some stollen cake in Lidl - are these the kind of tense subjects that tend to cause rows between you lot? 2D: Since the dawn of the universe man has been arguing over cake. One of the first wars was over a chocolate Swiss roll. When will we learn! (Although Swiss rolls are well nice). ‘Momentary Bliss’ features Slaves and slowthai - what excites you about those two artists? Russel: Doesn’t matter what you think. Matters what you feel. And I’m feeling flames. Mucho fuego. Could toast my tortilla chips off those dudes. Damn, just made myself hungry.
Noodle: Laurie’s guitar style is so good, he has many chops. Can you give us any clues as to who else might come into the studio in the coming episodes? Murdoc: Mate, everyone’s dying to know what amazing collaborators I’ve got lined up - it’s the holy grail of music journalism. You’re essentially asking me to give you a career-defining scoop, and you haven’t even bought me a load of drinks. So unprofessional. If you could invite anyone in to collaborate - alive or dead, musical or not who would you pick? Russel: Pick ANYONE who’s ever existed? That’s like a hundred billion people. You’re asking the wrong brother. I once spent two hours in the supermarket cereal aisle. In the end I bought every damn packet. Only way outta there. But 2D was happy, he collects the free toys. What else is on the cards for Gorillaz in 2020? Can we expect any live shows? Any more surprises? 2D: Everything is a surprise because I can’t see into the future. Not since I lost my magic 8 ball.
HAVE YOU HEARD? ‘MOMENTARY BLISS’ With this first taste of new project Song Machine, Gorillaz continue to shapeshift and this time Damon Albarn’s animated outfit have brought noisy boys Slaves and slowthai along. Not quite the full-on thrash that combo at first suggests, the track instead channels The Clash at their most studied, a slack groove accompanying Isaac Holman’s soft vocals. With an aspirational message calling for better days (“You know, we could do so much better than this / Swimmin’ in pools of momentary bliss” goes the chorus) and even a sweet, near-hidden nod to The Beatles’ favourite parking attendant (‘Lovely Rita’), it’s good vibes all round. (Hannah Browne)
alt-J - ‘An Awesome Wave’ This deliciously-strange debut from four Leeds Uni students put them on the path to becoming the weirdest arena band of the decade. Words: Will Richards. Most people make a human pyramid; alt-J make a human π sign.
t’s hard to remember now, as alt-J enter the new decade as established festival headliners, what a thoroughly strange prospect the Leeds then-quartet seemed back in 2012. Their name was literally a triangle (alt+J on a Mac keyboard), their onstage demeanour shy and nerdy, and their vividly sexual, deconstructed take on pop felt, at first glance at least, far more suited to overly-horny muso chinstrokers than radio playlists. On ‘An Awesome Wave’ - their revelation of a debut album, however, the band were set on an unlikely path that would lead to them opening up an O2 headline show with what was basically a pagan folk chant. An absurd idea on paper, the album meshed together frankly outrageous, polarising ideas and somehow made them stick. Take ‘Fitzpleasure’: the best example of the record’s inherent weirdness. A jarring, harmonised repetition of “tra la la” at the song’s outset leads into the grotesquely sexual line “in your snatch fits pleasure, broom-shaped pleasure,” before a drop into a deliciously grubby bass breakdown. Somehow, it was a crossover hit. Joe Newman’s lyrics define the strangeness 20
Released: 25th May 2012 Standout tracks: ‘Tessellate’, ‘Breezeblocks’, ‘Fitzpleasure’ Tell your mates: The album’s title comes from ‘American Psycho’, in which author Bret Easton Ellis says that relief “washes over me like an awesome wave”.
on show. When he’s not delivering near-nauseating sexual innuendo, he’s quoting 2000s nu-folk hero Johnny Flynn on ‘Matilda’, recalling his mother sending him to sleep by mimicking the sound of rolling waves in the ocean on ‘Dissolve Me’, or detailing a mugging he experienced on Southampton Common (‘Bloodflood’). Despite the overtly ridiculous randy overtones that were born here (‘An Awesome Wave’ walked so “turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet” could run), he also manages to be convincingly sultry when he wants to be, ‘Tessellate’ opening with the exquisitely dangerous line: “Bite chunks out of me / You’re a shark and I’m swimming.” Team that with unique, boundary-pushing arrangements, delectable vocal harmonies and Thom Sonny Green’s one-of-a-kind, clattering percussion, and we had something truly new on our hands. As polarising as every great record should be, alt-J’s emergence either inspired intense hatred or adoration: you were either with them or you weren’t. Never getting any more normal across their subsequent two further LPs, ‘An Awesome Wave’ let the weirdos play with the big boys; it was a breakthrough that was - and remains - a refreshing tonic. DIY
GRACE CARTER MARCH UK TOUR PALACE MARCH UK TOUR SCARYPOOLPARTY MARCH UK TOUR APRIL 8 CHILDCARE ROUGH TRADE, BRISTOL 12 BAD SOUNDS MAY LAFAYETTE, LONDON 21 RINA SAWAYAMA MAY ELECTRIC BRIXTON, LONDON 23 KELE OKEREKE MAY OSLO, LONDON CHELSEA CUTLER MAY UK TOUR MAY HOCKEY DAD UK TOUR KAWALA MAY UK TOUR OCTOBER THE CHATS UK TOUR BLACK PUMAS NOVEMBER UK TOUR
Savage “Death finishes art, it makes it complete.”
Beauty With debut solo album ‘To Love Is To Live’ due for release in May, Savages singer Jehnny Beth explains how David Bowie’s death pushed her to take the leap. Words: Sean Kerwick. Photo: Johnny Hostile.
our years on from Savages last offering, 2016’s ‘Adore Life’, the first glimpse of solo music from their incendiary singer Jehnny Beth arrived last November in the latest series of Peaky Blinders. Polly Gray, the matriarch of the Shelby boys’ gang, is chauffeur-driven to a grizzly dockyard. She takes a final drag of her cigarette, flicks it out the car and struts through the smog to the thundering sonics of ‘I’m The Man’. The track in question, produced by Atticus Ross (Nine Inch Nails), possesses a haunting, self-destructive swagger, while its invigorating video finds the the singer adorning the coat of toxic masculinity; fights break out, cars are trampled on and drinks are tossed in a mesmerising one-shot sequence. It’s one hell of an introduction to her solo work.
alone. “This record particularly, it was something quite profound, quite deep.” Forthcoming LP ‘To Love Is To Live’, she continues, was forged in a spirit of “vital urgency” fueled by the notion that she might die tomorrow. The mass-exodus of musical legends in 2016 recalibrated the meaning of death and art to her, particularly David Bowie and his parting gift ‘Blackstar’. “Death finishes art, it makes it complete,” she says. “Life and art makes sense because there is death, you’re leaving a mark and eventually this album will outlive me.” For that reason, Jehnny wanted to channel everything she knew into her debut solo offering. “It’s very eclectic,” she nods. “There’s a lot of contrasts in there. It goes from very quiet to very loud, from light to dark: all the extremes of life in the way I know it.”
“I was just getting pushed by necessity, it was something that I felt I needed to do,” she explains now of her decision to venture out
A community of voices are set to present themselves across the LP, including IDLES’ Joe Talbot, actor Cillian Murphy and Romy Madley Croft
of The xx, who provides guest vocals and a hand in production. Meanwhile its striking artwork is the product of a yearlong collaboration with artist Tom Hingston (David Bowie, Young Fathers). “The pose on the cover feels like something I’d do on stage,” she reflects. “I think of music in a very physical way - we were looking at a lot of body builders and thinking about the ‘hero’ pose. The use of 3D solidifies it in this virtual package so it becomes immortalised in this weird space that doesn’t exist.” As to the current status of Savages, Jehnny is remaining tight-lipped but their hiatus looks set to continue. And while it may or may not be the end for the band, from the sound of both ‘I’m The Man’ and recent teaser ‘Flower’, her forthcoming debut marks the beginning of something equally as intriguing for their frontwoman. ‘To Love Is To Live’ is out 8th May via Caroline. DIY
HAVE YOU HEARD?
THE STROKES - AT THE DOOR A series of lo-fi, slightly discordant synth chords might make for a slightly worrisome way to announce an album (especially one that follows 2013’s polarising ‘Comedown Machine’), but fast-forward precisely 61 seconds into ‘At The Door’ and you’ll find the kind of pure, sparkling melody that suggests The Strokes might not be playing quite as contrary this time around as it may first seem. It’s a weird song, no doubt; one that ties three totally different atmospheres (the third, a kind of pulsing club beat) into one strange but beguiling whole. And what it signifies for forthcoming LP ‘The New Abnormal’ is hard to tell. But - crucially - it sounds like the New Yorkers are having fun again. (Lisa Wright)
THE MAGIC GANG THINK
PERFUME GENIUS DESCRIBE
BILLIE EILISH - NO TIME TO DIE
PHOEBE BRIDGERS - GARDEN SONG
The seasiders are back in town with a fresh flavour for their Neapolitan palette. While retaining all the charm of their previous efforts, this feels like an assured strut forward. ‘Think’ is a tour de force of groove; all upbeat horns and dancing rhythms, a perfect accompaniment to carefree nights out and swinging discos. The accompanying video captures this vibe perfectly, featuring glamorous twenty-somethings strutting the night away. We may not have their grace, but with floor fillers like this it seems The Magic Gang will be inspiring dodgy late night moves for many moons to come. (Jack Johnstone Orr)
The first slither of new material since 2017’s ‘No Shape’, the cinematic ‘Describe’ comes formed of two distinct parts. Its first half lumbers along with a disheveled Frankenstein-style swagger which contorts around a distorted lo-fi country guitar as Mike Hadreas sings in a lovelorn daze. Then suddenly, it disperses into an atmospheric Eno-style second half as he whispers incoherently in a fashion that borders ASMR. What this says about his new material remains unclear, but what ‘Describe’ does show is a dazzling imagination at play as Perfume Genius continues to manipulate the form. (Sean Kerwick)
Queen of understated pop bops; moshing circle pit-starter- across her world-conquering debut, Billie Eilish proved herself jack of all trades and master of them too. Now, joining the ranks of the Bond soundtrack-ers, she’s added another string to her bow and, quelle surprise, it’s spot on. There’s a sumptuous, melancholy quality to Billie and brother Finneas’ production that’s perfectly suited to the seductive danger of cinema’s most famous spy, but ‘No Time To Die’’s greatest trick is its restraint: one caveat to a classic Bond crescendo hits home all the harder for the tension and space around it. (Lisa Wright)
There’s a pulse that runs throughout the entirety of Phoebe Bridgers’ ‘The Garden’, the first single to emerge from a highly-anticipated second full-length. It acts like a heartbeat, harking at the unstoppable passing of time. Much like its namesake, ‘The Garden’ chronicles growth, from the notches on the door-frame to her time in college, to her eventual realisation: “I have everything I wanted”. Accompanied by a deep, rumbling male vocal, with ‘The Garden’, Phoebe offers a twisting journey through frustration and anger, to acceptance and even happiness, played out through her characteristic beautiful melancholia. (Ben Tipple) 23
GRAB YOUR PASSPORT, READERS! THIS MONTH IT’S ALL ABOUT THESE STATESIDE SHOWCASES.
DIY STAGES ///////////////////////////
MON 16TH MARCH @British Music Embassy with Ticketmaster New Music
13th - 22nd March. Austin, TX.
Endless tacos and frozen margaritas aside, the world’s biggest buzz band bonanza takes over Austin once again this month, with a literal jumbo jet full of DIY favourites taking their wares to 6th Street and beyond. From Class of… stars past and present including Beabadoobee, Walt Disco, Dry Cleaning, Nasty Cherry, Sorry, King Nun and Arlo Parks to the likes of Self Esteem, The Murder Capital, LIFE, HMLTD and Italia 90, there won’t be a block in sight unconquered. We’ll be hosting three stages across the week, beginning on Monday 16th March at the British Music Embassy and their new home of Cedar Street Courtyard with Ticketmaster New Music. 24
HMLTD 1am CROWS 12am NASTY CHERRY 11pm KING NUN 10pm WALT DISCO 9pm SHOPPING 8pm ///////////////////////////
is Texas bound to make her solo US debut, before writing a musical. Obvs. Words: Joe Goggins. Photo: Jenn Five. “I was told female solo artists don’t go over well in America at the moment, so I’m hoping to either prove that wrong, or agree.”
THUR 19TH MARCH @Maggie Mae’s with Alt Citizen
Rebecca Taylor is a ten-year, four-appearance veteran of SXSW at this point - she played three separate years with Slow Club, and then again with The Moonlandingz in 2016 - but only now is she making her solo bow Stateside as Self Esteem. Despite her old band having a committed fanbase in place across the pond, she wanted to nurture her new project at home in the UK before taking it further afield - “make sure it had a manifesto that was cemented” - and the break from the gruelling nature of American touring was a welcome one.
LIFE 1am NATIVE SUN 12am TBA 11pm MODEL / ACTRIZ 10pm PORRIDGE RADIO 9pm THE MUCKERS 8pm
“Going from motel to motel, those all-day drives, I can’t be fucked with it any more. It’s not glamorous. It definitely seemed cool when I was 22 and listening to a lot of Neil Young. It’s not any more. I definitely want to play in
TUE 17TH MARCH @Latitude 30 SPORTS TEAM 1am SELF ESTEEM 12am BEABADOOBEE 11pm THE MURDER CAPITAL 10pm DRY CLEANING 9pm DISQ 8pm ///////////////////////////
America, but I don’t want to slog like that for nothing.” Rebecca is confident that she has the followup to ‘Compliments Please’ written, “but I’ve thought that before and then ended up writing ten more, and that’s been the album.” Either way, she’ll go into the studio to record in April, but only after heading to Los Angeles for further writing sessions (this material, she tells us, is likely to be given to other artists). She estimates a late 2020 / early 2021 release for her second LP, but her focus this year is mainly on the musical she’s writing based around the songs from ‘Compliments Please’,
which will debut in the Autumn at London’s Almeida Theatre and be “either absolutely brilliant or a complete disaster.” “I’m trying to be zen these days, but what I want to do with Self Esteem is to do everything I wasn’t able to in other bands, because I’m way more ambitious than I used to be, so we’re taking it to South By as a bit of an experiment, to see how it goes over. It’s a really fun live show, and I love the idea of us going over there and ripping it a new one. But, if not - frozen margaritas and tacos. It’s a win-win.”
return to Austin with a revitalised sound - you’ll find them at the afterparty. Words: Rosie Hewitson. With two members now based in Glasgow, one in LA and the group’s fourth album just released, post-punk trio Shopping have come a long way - literally and metaphorically - since their early years kicking about East London’s DIY venues. New LP ‘All or Nothing’ sees the band build on their signature jittery guitar melodies with slightly more synth-driven sound. “We don’t really do many overdubs or extra instrumentation, and we wanted it to not just be guitar all the way through the record,” the band’s Rachel Aggs explains. “We were really looking for something to switch it up.” With the trio scattered on either side of the Atlantic, recording took place over an intense ten-day stint in London, an approach that complimented the band’s frenetic energy. “It’s a little different to how we wrote before, but in a way it’s good to have the distance because when we are together the writing is very focused,” Rachel explains. “We have to really push ourselves and it makes us very economical with time, so if something isn’t working instantly it gets scrapped. We work
really well under pressure, so it was a fun way of doing things.” This March sees the band head off on an extensive US tour, playing to a loyal American following that counts Sleater-Kinney guitarist Corin Tucker among its ranks. “We haven’t really played live in quite a while so it’ll be really nice to be back out doing shows.” Rachel says. “I think you can get quite anxious when you have an album out but when you play live it’s always really reaffirming.” The tour also marks Shopping’s second visit to SXSW, with the band having first made the pilgrimage to Austin in 2018. “It was a little daunting for us last time because people warned us about it being pretty intense, but we actually had a really great time. I think there’s something about playing two or three different shows in one day that’s quite energising and the gig adrenaline lasts all day. There’s a real sense of camaraderie when you don’t have time to argue with each other,” Rachel says, laughing. “And there are some really great afterparties in the evenings too. I can’t wait.”
FESTIVAL NEWS IN BRIEF
Stormzy and Rage Against The Machine join Liam Gallagher as READING & LEEDS (28th 30th August) headliners. IDLES, Beabadoobee, Fontaines DC and Georgia are also among those announced. The Magic Gang, Sundara Karma and Pale Waves have been added to this year’s TRAMLINES (31st July - 2nd August). La Roux, The Big Moon, Easy Life and Madness will also play the Sheffield event. The 1975, Skepta and Kings of Leon will headline C o r n w a l l ’ s BOARDMASTERS (5th - 9th August), with Pale Waves, Mura Masa, Little Simz and Loyle Carner also playing across the weekend. Royal Blood and Richard Ashcroft top the bill at this year’s Y NOT (23rd - 26th July), with Bombay Bicycle Club, Sundara Karma, Walt Disco and Pale Waves among those also Derbyshire-bound. 25
ICE, NEW COLOSSUS ICE BABY PREVIEW:
11th - 15th March. New York, NY
FESTIVAL NEWS IN BRIEF
Mahalia, Stella Donnelly, Tove Lo and Purity Ring all feature in the latest names for LATITUDE (16th - 19th July) joining Charli XCX, Haim, Liam Gallagher and more in Suffolk. Metronomy, Squid and The Murder Capital are among new additions to WIDE AWAKE (5th June), alongside Black Country, New Road, Charlotte Adigéry and Lazarus Kane. The Streets and Royal Blood will headline VICTORIOUS (28th - 30th August), with Bombay Bicycle Club, La Roux, Mystery Jets and Working Men’s Club also set to play across the weekend. The Strokes will make their Finnish debut at FLOW (14th - 16th August), joining Bon Iver, Stormzy, Mac DeMarco and more. Declan McKenna, G e o r g i a , Beabadoobee, AJ Tracey and Joy Crookes are all headed to TRNSMT (10th - 12th July) alongside Foals, Liam Gallagher and Rita Ora.
The first names have been confirmed for this year’s ICELAND AIRWAVES.
Metronomy, Squid, Courtney Barnett and the act who won our hearts and minds at January’s Hello 2020, Lynks Afrikka are all among the artists announced for the event, which takes place across Reykjavík between 4th and 7th November.
Returning for its second year, New Colossus will once more see venues across Manhattan’s Lower East Side host acts from across the US and beyond - including a handful of names you might recognise. LIFE, The Orielles, Public Practice, King Nun, Italia 90 and Kiwi Jr are among the artists headed to the Big Apple this month.
DIY STAGE Saturday 14th March @Berlin HONEY CUTT BONIFACE THE ORIELLES LIFE SPECIAL GUESTS
THE ORIELLES head to New Colossus to make their NYC debut hot on the heels of new album ‘Disco Volador’. Words: Charlotte Krol. How does a band approach making the infamous ‘difficult’ second album? For The Orielles, natural curiosity has been their driving force. “It’s quite diverse,” says drummer Sidonie B HandHalford of ‘Disco Volador’,
released back in February. Fans of the Halifax band – completed by Sid’s sister, lead vocalist / bassist Esmé Dee Hand-Halford, guitarist / vocalist Henry Carlyle Wade, and keyboardist Alex Stephens
- will still find the hallmarks of their melodious, surf pop-inspired sound. The heady harmonies and shimmering guitars of 2018 debut ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ remain intact, but the group’s perspective has broadened. Single ‘Come Down on Jupiter’ is evidence of that: a sound that’s unmistakably theirs though spliced with jazz strokes and psych funk wig-outs. “Half of the album is quite spacey and atmospheric,” Sid explains. “But the other half has disco and boogie - and more dancey bangers.” Those “dancey bangers” contribute to the album’s loose concept of escape. ‘Disco Volador’ can be interpreted, as Esme once explained, as “a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party.” What’s that escape from? Political turmoil or something more personal? “It’s a bit of both,” explains Sid. “We’ve kind of said we’d avoid singing too much about what’s going on politically because there are a lot of bands that do that already, often in an aggressive way. We’re
tackling these issues from a more surrealist standpoint [see anti-climate change paen ‘A Material Mistake’]. So we have this idea of it being a form of escapism: using dance music to escape reality.” An important version of escapism for the band is exploring the world. This month they play their first ever US gig at New Colossus. “We are super excited,” says Sid. “New York’s always been quite a special place. A lot of music we love is from the city’s ‘70s underground dance scene based around Max’s Kansas City.” As we speak Sid is returning from an arguably “escapist” holiday to Vienna where the group got drunk with Dutch band Altin Gün after attending a gig. “They cover traditional Turkish folk as well as psych songs, and they’re such an inspiring band,” says Sid. “I think we’re going to get more world influences like that in our next music.” The Orielles are ready to make new scribbles on their musical map. Whoever said writing albums was so difficult?
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NEU Porridge Radio new bands new music
From Brighton’s DIY underground scene, Dana Margolin and pals are finally peeking their heads above the parapet and aiming for something bigger. Words: Patrick Clarke. Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
orridge Radio’s soon-to-be-released ‘Every Bad’ may land as an effortlessly rich and fully-formed thing but, from their roots as scrappy upstarts in Brighton’s DIY guitar scene, making everything up as they went along, their accomplished, assured and emotionally-piercing new record has been a long time in the making. They have, in fact, released an album before: 2016’s charmingly wonky ‘Rice, Pasta And Other Fillers’, released via indie label Memorials Of Distinction and recorded in the most unshowy of circumstances. “That album holds up because the songs are great, but it doesn’t hold up because it was literally recorded in a shed and we didn’t know what we were doing,” singer Dana
“We’ve always been quite chaotic in everything we do.” - Dana Margolin
Margolin laughs. “We made something that didn’t live up to what I wanted it to be, but also the way that people have told me they’ve connected with those songs is really powerful, so I’m glad we did it and we did it all ourselves. It’s fun to look back and think, ‘That was a huge learning curve’.” Four years later and the band are split across two cities drummer Sam Yardley (the owner of the aforementioned shed) and bassist Maddie Ryall remain in Brighton, while Dana and keyboard player Georgie Stott live at opposite ends of London. What logistical challenges that presents are tempered by the fact that, as Dana puts it, “We’ve always been quite chaotic in everything we do.” If anything, their drive is stronger than ever. “We’ve always just kind of wanted it to work, so we’ve made it work,” Dana says. “I’m really grateful that [the rest of the band] care and they put so much into it. Everyone puts so much of themselves into the band. I’m always like, ‘Are you sure?!’” Dana is Porridge Radio’s primary songwriter. “Even though it is definitely a band, it’s also my project in a lot of ways,” she says. As far back as 2012 she was releasing singles online and put out a solo demos collection called ‘Misery Radio’ in 2015. Finding an exact point that marked the beginning of Porridge Radio as a band is easier said than done. “First, I was writing in my room and trying to figure out how to play guitar, and then I was in a room and Maddie and Sam were there, and then there’s our first practise in Brighton. That was the first time of being like, ‘OK, hang on, this is bass, drums and guitar, and I’m singing, we’re a band!” If a timeline is tricky to establish, the underlying spirit that defined Porridge Radio from the beginning is not. “We
were a DIY band,” Dana says. “Originally for us it was out of necessity. ‘I’m going to do this because nobody else gives a shit. I’m gonna have to book this tour, I’m gonna have to figure out how to design a vinyl sleeve.’” Necessity soon evolved into a philosophy. “It became core to our identity, especially in the first few years because that was the only scene where people would put us on. The press attention we got was people writing on their tiny blogs, or somebody’s radio show on their tiny station.” Recently, however, Porridge Radio signed with Secretly Canadian, picking them from a number of suitors offering the band a record deal. They’re playing SXSW this month, shortly after they release the album. “We’re not a DIY band any more,” Dana says. “I still love that world and it’s full of amazing people, but we want this band to be our jobs one day. We started this band as a space to learn how to do something together and we are still learning” Porridge Radio are still growing, still evolving, but ‘Every Bad’ is an album that’s defined by what has been constant all along - a sense of openness, earnestness, and beautiful vulnerability; the title is envisaged as the start of a sentence that can be finished in infinite ways. For all her talk of learning curves, at last Dana seems happy to enjoy the fruits of her labour. “What’s nice about this album is that it’s good!” she laughs. “So I don’t mind touring it for a long time - though I’m going to keep nagging people to let me back in the studio and hopefully that will happen. There’s always time to do more things, right?” ‘Every Bad’ is out 13th March via Secretly Canadian. DIY
When DIY meet PVA at a bar in Peckham, South London, keyboardist Josh Baxter and vocalist and guitarist Ella Harris are in the middle of scrimping and saving to make their SXSW dream a reality. Only a few days in, their GoFundMe is at the halfway mark and things are looking positive. “It seems kind of crazy that it’s happening,” Ella grins. “It’s probably not going to feel like it’s happening until…” she trails off leaving Josh to pick up, ”...until you’ve got the cowboy hat on?” he suggests.
Speedy Wunderground-approved trio fusing genres and sending them to the dancefloor. Words: Sean Kerwick.
feeling quite shy and awkward,” the singer remarks. “Then I saw Josh by a window looking equally shy and awkward.” Now, however, those coy kids in the corner are moving increasingly front and centre with their startling, fresh take on dance-punk. The particular sonic concoction they’ve honed as PVA forged after the pair found themselves ping-ponging between DJ sets at The Bunker in Deptford and live bands at The Windmill in Brixton. “I kind of wanted both but there wasn’t anything out there satisfying my needs,” Josh recalls. As this gap revealed itself, the blueprint of PVA’s sound began to form. “We started as more of a techno-country band, sort of like Bo Diddley with a beat. While there are still elements of guitar and blues in our music, it’s now more rooted in dance, indie and pop.”
WE STARTED AS A TECHNOCOUNTRY BAND, SORT OF LIKE BO DIDDLEY WITH A BEAT.” JOSH BAXTER
Ella and Josh, the founding members of the group (completed by drummer Louis Satchell), met at a house party a few years ago when they found themselves gravitating to the quietest corner of the frivolities, bonding over the fact that neither of them knew anybody else there. “I was
The group initially focused on nurturing their reputation as a live act before turning their attention to the studio. “It can be more exciting to people if they hear about an amazing live show that they can’t access instantly, it builds more mystery,” they explain. And eventually, the buzz around the group spread across the South London scene to the door of Speedy Wunderground producer Dan Carey, who helmed December’s debut single ‘Divine Intervention’ - a blitz of fierce bass, simmering synth and spiky guitar play that builds around a deeply infectious dance groove. While the spirit of LCD Soundsystem can be traced in their sound, there’s something inherently different about PVA’s approach - one that cribs from music past but looks to the future, bending genres and smashing them into an ecstatic whole. There are more singles planned for 2020, but for now it’s the sweaty box venues that remain PVA’s temple: catch them while you can. DIY
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Sydney quartet taking cues from 60s pop and blissed-out psych.
French shoegaze-pop, with one foot in the past and the other in the future.
In need of a bit of blissful, laid-back relief? Aussie quartet The Lazy Eyes are almost certainly the new band for you. Having made their introduction with the warm and deliciously hazy ‘Cheesy Love Song’ just last month, they meld together elements of classic songwriting with sprawling psych to create a rather lovely concoction that gives us all the feels.
PC Music have developed a niche for championing hyper-stylised, synthetic pop seemingly pinched from a universe slightly left of our standard one, so what do you get when you cross their sensibilities with gauzy French shoegaze? Judging by Planet 1999’s ‘Party’, the answer is ‘something between Cocteau Twins and Saint Etienne’, with a hefty dose of high-shine ‘90s nostalgia thrown in. 10 extra points for the Furby in the video.
making dance music to cry to. Made up of former Fat White Family collaborator Alex Sebley and Jessica Winters of indie synth-pop band Will Sin For Love, Pregoblin make disco music to have a little dancefloor sob to (we’ve all been there, don’t lie). Slightly tongue-incheek, their hypnotic melodies are soundtracked by groove-driven synths and punctuated with witty wordplay, making them the new south of the river export to get excited about. Listen: ‘‘Anna (Flowers Won’t Grow)’ should by rights become a classic karaoke hit. Similar to: Your two cool mates putting out music for the shits and giggles, but it’s actually really fucking good. Not that they care, obvs.
Listen: Debut ‘Cheesy Love Song’ is all that’s out right now, with promise of an EP “coming soon”. Similar to: If Brian Wilson joined Tame Impala for the day.
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Listen: ‘Party’, and Charli XCX’s ‘February 2017’, which they co-wrote. Similar to: Walking around Claire’s Accessories listening to Slowdive.
US experimental-pop double act making weird AF anthems for millennials. Do you ever wonder what the internet would sound like if it could talk? Well, 100 gecs are the musical equivalent of the internet on an autotuned coke-induced word-vomit at 2am in a noisy club. Made up of Dylan Brady and Laura Les, the pair make music destined for recreation on TikTok, full of pop culture references over wonky trap-tinged electo-pop bangers and huge mosh-pit ready beat drops. Listen: Play their self-titled debut on full volume to fully freak out your neighbours. Similar to: What boomers think ‘music nowadays’ sounds like, x 1,000,000.
YA L A ! slackers.
Glasgow may have recently birthed a small troupe of stylised art school types (see: Walt Disco, The Ninth Wave etc), but Yakima are now repping it for the city’s softer side. Recently signed to YALA! for EP ‘Go Virtually’, and recruiting kindred musical spirits Happyness on production and backing vocals, their lovelorn, hazy slacker rock draws a little from Elliott Smith, a little from Pavement and a little from the dreamy wordsmiths in between. Listen: Recent single ‘It Helped’ is a harmony-laden, soaring heart-tug of a tune. Similar to: Stephen Malkmus stroking your hair and telling you everything will be fine.
BUZZ FEED T
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:
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
Big time collaborators Arlo Parks has shared the visuals for new sizzler ‘Eugene’ - a video which comes directed by the Coyle-Larner brothers. Exploring difficult feelings towards a friend, Arlo explains of the gorgeous track, “It explores the agony, jealousy and confusion that comes to light when the lines between platonic and romantic love blur”. With Loyle Carner (aka Ben) and his brother Ryan hopping behind the camera for their directorial debut, the accompanying video expertly shows Arlo’s story, with Ryan noting, “Arlo’s enigmatic voice perfectly complements our visual style, the track is banging.”
LACUNA COMMON ‘Learn To Feel’ A song that sees the Oxford quartet tackling the subject of toxic masculinity, there’s a real sense of scorched urgency to their latest punky offering.
Checkmate! Book out 8th - 13th May in your diaries now, pals, because Chess Club are heading out on tour with a handful of faves in tow, and DIY are partnering up with them for the ride. Kicking off in Glasgow, four of the label’s newest acts - Alfie Templeman, Phoebe Green, Coach Party and The Wha - will embark on a five-night run this May. Check out the full dates over at diymag.com now.
MOA MOA ‘Yellow Jacket’ A debut that’s intriguingly off-kilter from the off, this crunchy, psychtinged alt-pop track is the perfect whimsical intro to the South Londonbased quartet. DRUG STORE ROMEOS Frame of Reference’
Bobby dazzlers Following the release of debut EP ‘No. 1’ last year, Pottery have revealed the details of their debut album. ‘Welcome To Bobby’s Motel’ will land on 10th April, with the band giving us a little taste of what to expect with groove-filled double-hitter ‘Texas Drums Pt I & II’. As for the titular Bobby? The band say he’s “a pilot, a lumberjack, a stay at home dad, and a disco dancer that never rips his pants. He’s a punching bag filled with comic relief. He laughs in the face of day-to-day ambiguity, as worrying isn’t worth it to Bobby.” ...sure thing.
Lush dream pop is the order of the day on the Hampshire trio’s second effort. TIÑA ‘Dip’ Continuing to prove why they’re one of our 2020 faves, Tiña’s newest bop ‘Dip’ is a gorge lo-fi indie number, driven by Joshua Loftin’s haunting falsetto and a jangly pop melody.
“Don’t look at us, we’re shy!”
Every January, DIY descends upon East London’s Old Blue Last for a four-week series of gigs designed to get us off the sofa, and thrust us right back into live music’s sweet embrace. So without further ado, say Hello 2020 and get acquainted with some of the bands we’re most excited to watch for the next twelve months. To catch up with the first two nights, check out last month’s issue. Photos: Emma Swann.
Though DIY’s annual Hello gigs are always buzzy, busy affairs (natch), there’s something special in the air tonight. Manchester’s Mealtime are first up, and you can tell the alt-pop six-piece are a little bit nervous. Still relatively new, the group are obviously adjusting to bringing their on-record bangers into a live set, but when they hit their stride it’s clear they’ve got something special. “Imagine John Lennon and Elton John in a boat, and it’s very still, and we’ve just had a very intimate time,” instructs Tiña’s pink cowboy-hatted frontman before the London outfit’s final song, a slow-burner that builds to the kind of dramatic crescendo last seen closing out The Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’. A true oddball in the classic sense, the majority of the band’s set veers more into drawling, incensefugged, psych-tinged territory. Of all tonight’s artists, it’s Glasgow’s Walt Disco who already feel on the cusp of something bigger. You can spot one of the flamboyant troupe’s fans from a mile off: they’re twenty times better dressed than anyone else in the room. It would be easy to accuse a band as aesthetically on point as the quintet of style over substance but, for their next trick, they’ve also got some proper songs to boot. Last up are Working Men’s Club who have not only A) the challenge of following Walt Disco’s triumphant set, but B) the even bigger challenge of living up to the hype surrounding them. Challenges that they 36
sadly don’t quite live up to. There are some moments that show the group’s brilliance - leader Syd MinskySergeant is undeniably captivating, spitting cutting lyrics with unflappable force into the mic. But their bark doesn’t quite match up with their bite.
WALT DISCO TIÑA
If lowkey opener Ruthie is the ‘Wonderwall’-ready acoustic-guitar-wielder of a party, then Drug Store Romeos are the slightly odd art kids who corner you to play their new experimental tune. With vocalist Sarah asking the crowd for complete silence as soon as they set up on stage, the Hampshire trio breeze through their celestial indie pop. Pregoblin take to the stage next with what we can only describe as a set reminiscent to your two drunk pals hogging the karaoke machine for 30 minutes: the duo are equal parts weird and wonderful. Utterly mad yet totally charming, they’re undoubtedly two of the coolest uncool people you’ll ever see. Bristol’s Lynks Afrikka is dressed like some kind of demented barbie doll with all the energy of someone who’s polished off a Redbull with a line of speed in the bathroom. Introducing us to his backing singers/dancers/ performance artists “Lynks Shower Gel” - “You might remember us from your Christmas box sets!” his set is, quite frankly, incredible, with killer dance moves and infectious industrial bops all flourished with an insane theatrical fanfare. (Elly Watson, Lisa Wright)
From YouTube fame to streaming king, 21-year-old Cavetown is a very modern new star. Words: Jemima Skala.
For a 21-year-old with several million monthly streams on Spotify, Cavetown is a remarkably humble interviewee. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be used to it,” he says tentatively of his increasingly-massive popularity. Having only turned of US legal drinking age in December, he’s skipped university, moved out of his parents’ home in Cambridge and into a place with friends in London. Because of a demanding US touring schedule, he’s also looking at renting a place in New York. Not bad for someone who started off recording cover videos as a teen in his bedroom.
If you haven’t heard of Cavetown – fear not. The singer, otherwise known as Robin Skinner, may have started by paying homage to Pinegrove and Twenty One Pilots on Youtube, but these days he’s marking his own turf. Having put out debut single ‘This Is Home’ back in 2015, he’s since self-released three albums; his
“It’s really good for artists to be their own boss.”
upcoming fourth ‘Sleepyhead’, meanwhile, will be his first on a major label. “It’s really good for artists to be their own boss and have control over their career progression,” he says of his independent beginnings. As a musician who’s been around the internet since he can remember, it’s no surprise that his fans are ones seeking a similar level of connection from Cavetown. “I see myself in them,” Robin says: he too used to be a young Twitter stan, looking to and tweeting his musical idols for guidance. “It’s really great that I’m someone who can give them advice or polite criticism if they’re being too intrusive to me, because I know how that feels to be a kid who doesn’t really sense that they’re invading their idol’s personal space. That’s helped me grow my patience too, because I understand where that comes from. It’s definitely cool to be able to have a platform, to be able to…” he pauses, cringing, “I guess inspire people? Although that feels conceited of me to say...” From sitting in his bedroom to house-hunting in New York, Cavetown’s ascent has been a thoroughly modern one. The end result, however, looks set to be a tale as old as musical time. As he puts it, “It’s a very cool side-effect that there’s people who get something out of the things that I make for myself.” Like we said, a modest guy. DIY
portrait Reaching in and examining her multi-cultural background, family history and queer identity, Rina Sawayamaâ€™s debut album presents a complicated, compassionate (yet damn catchy) portrait of an artist fully embracing herself. w
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resh off a red eye from LA, we meet Rina Sawayama at the kind of Bushwick loft-cum-photo studio you can’t help but imagine a character from Girls living in. Huge glass panes are swathed in thick pink curtains and a 70-hour loop of meditation music plays in the background; conversation in the room flits from astrology to the singer’s recent experience meeting Rihanna (she smells great apparently) to a local Korean tattoo artist she asks her team to DM on Instagram. A listen to Rina’s forthcoming debut album ‘SAWAYAMA’ might give off hints of an ostentatious personality at first, each
“I steer away from the classic heteronormative love song, but at the end of the day I think everything is a love song.” song on the album taking a hard left turn to find its own way to shine. The bouncy synths and glitzy beat on recent single ‘Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)’ are reminiscent of ‘90s dance tracks, while distorted guitars and snarled vocals introduce elements of nu metal to ‘STFU!’. But, despite the high octane pop music she makes, the singer is reserved and attentive in person. She’s deadpan at times - “You know smaller heaters exist?” she jokes, eyeing the comically large one dangling from a corner of the room - and quietly supportive at others. When it’s time to pose for photos, meanwhile, Rina’s experience as a model (she has worked with Adidas, Samsung, Versus Versace, and more) is evident. Fluidly shifting from one pose to the next, she anticipates directions from the photographer before they’re even articulated out loud, quietly singing along to Kacey Musgraves’ 40
‘Golden Hour’ between takes. Rina was born in Niigata, Japan and moved to London at the age of five with her parents, where she attended Japanese school until she turned 10. She says that attending that school, where she learned Japanese, calligraphy and dancing, was one of the happiest times of her life. Yet though she ultimately loved her high school, which she describes as a nurturing, multi-ethnic environment, her transition from Japanese school to state school was jarring and formative. It was her first introduction to her and especially her family’s otherness. “When I changed school, my English wasn’t that great and I remember being very frustrated that I couldn’t communicate myself to people around me,” she recalls. “I think that’s when I realized how frustrating it was for my mum. My English as a kid got better quickly, but my mum took a while to improve and I remember my impatience towards her and other peoples’ impatience towards her, which is a horrible feeling. The way that people deal with your parents can frame how you start to deal with them, which can be horrible.” After her parents’ divorce, Rina was raised primarily by her mother, with whom she shared a room until she was 15. Her mother, an interior designer, would sleep at 10pm and wake up at 2am to work on the laptop the two of them shared, and Rina says she has many memories from this period of just seeing her back from her bunk bed. “She’s a big part of this record,” she continues. “I felt like we had a really tricky relationship. I think a lot of people with single parents can agree it’s like you’re like their best friend, their worst enemy, their sister, their mum, and their child all at once. My mum had a really hard time with her marriage to my dad. I would hear about it a lot, and then my dad would say another thing. The record is about how I just didn’t understand who was right and what the truth is. And it was kind of about creating my own narrative.” In person, the singer mentions her mother - details about the Japanese countryside where she’s from; stories about the haunted London house she used to live in where neighbours blasted EDM at all hours of the night - often, sometimes in response to questions about the record but also casually, to whoever she’s chatting with. It feels like her mother is a central figure in her life both because of how she represents the Japanese
culture that Rina loves, but also because of how much she sculpted her interests and life choices in opposition to what her mother told her to do. When asked who encouraged her most to become a singer, she says in a perverse way it was her mother, who didn’t want her to be a singer professionally. “She knows that I would never listen to her advice growing up,” she notes, “so if she said one thing I’d do another. I feel like it was like her little plan to say ‘don’t do music as a profession’.”
ina’s relationship with her family grounds one of ‘SAWAYAMA’’s central struggles: to find peace at the intersection of her Japanese and British identities. The album begins with ‘Dynasty’, in which she vows to break the chain of intergenerational trauma she observed in her parents, and ends with a piano interlude her mother used to play at home. In between, songs are peppered with abstract references to her parents’ sadness, vocal samples of conversations, and lyrics that explicitly detail frustrations with her mother’s overprotectiveness.
“When you see the kind of people your fans are, you’re like, ‘Oh I don’t have to do something more generic’.” become more confident in the appeal of her own story. “A lot of people start writing songs in the bedroom when they’re young but I literally didn’t have that privacy,” she explains. “I was in my 20s when I started writing full songs, and [it’s only] in the last 3 years I started writing personal [stories]. Touring gave me the confidence to write about myself. When you see your fans and the kind of people that they are, you’re kinda like, ‘Oh I don’t have to do something more generic. They totally understand my growth and all want me to succeed’.’”
This is the singer’s first time getting personal in her lyrics. Her debut EP, 2017’s ‘RINA’, was a multifaceted exploration of the many emotions social media users experience when Her fans, named ‘Pixels’ after her scrolling through a feed; the Internet-centric first EP, equally get lack of physical intimacy, the support from her opportunity to form community, music, too. She the exhaustion of wading publicly came out through the facades as bisexual through other people create 2018’s saccharine and project. The pop song ‘Cherry’, songs were written a process she says in the first person, was nervewracking but were universal because of how to the point of much ingrained being anonymous. biphobia she still They could have grapples with. She been written by wasn’t sure if anyone any 20-something would care if she came out, with a smartphone. When but has found that, in fact, she released the EP, she many fans care about the even explicitly detailed her All the best pop stars song deeply. Debuting the distance herself: “I can’t have an innate knack track before it was officially write about myself, so I write for an eye-catching released, even from that first about other people and then aesthetic, and Rina’s performance she recalls make it academic.” no different... feeling like her audience “Fashion moves way connected with it instantly; Having studied psychology, quicker than music. I since then, she’s received sociology, and politics find the ability to wear countless messages from at Cambridge, Rina still next season’s clothes fans explaining that it approaches songwriting and the amount of talent helped them come out. “I academically. She prepares that emerges every performed at a corporate lyrics and melodies before season so exciting. show and I felt like it didn’t going into the studio, today You can only put out an go very well. But then citing books such as Jenny album once a year, or someone came up to me Zhang’s Sour Heart, Crystal once every two or three and she was like, ‘Oh I’m Rasmussen’s Diary of a Drag years. Fashion keeps so glad I got to see you Queen, and Jon Ronson’s me excited. I love the because last year I came So You’ve Been Publicly drama of fashion and I out as trans and my name is Shamed as source material. love being able to play Cherry and I was listening to But, as she’s gained different characters on the song when I was coming experience as a songwriter my Instagram and my out’,” she smiles. and touring musician, she’s performances.”
Rina wrote ‘Chosen Family’, the album’s only ballad, as a homage to her community of queer friends. They regularly meet at a dim sum place she won’t name because “that will ruin it” where they know other people who work in music and fashion won’t find them, and she’s effusive when talking about how much support they provide each other. “It creates this different narrative to Hollywood portrayals of amazing coming out stories,” she says. “My friends and I don’t have that story at all. I still haven’t properly come out to my parents. I never had that sit down moment with them. That’s not always possible and having each other for support allows us to create our own queer stories.”
n addition to a sonic expansion (‘RINA’’s sleek ‘00s-pop was far more streamlined than the eclectic amalgamation of genres on ‘SAWAYAMA’) and a shift from the abstract to the personal, the singer’s full-length debut also ventures into a broader range of subject material more explicitly than ever before: ‘STFU!’ is a kiss-off to white men who are casually racist towards Asian women, ‘Fuck the World’ expresses climate change anxiety, ‘XS’ is a critique of capitalism. But, as in conversation, Rina’s best points don’t always announce themselves loudly. ‘SAWAYAMA’ is a political album not just in the moments that it identifies itself as one, but because of the ordinary emotions and experiences it elevates, ones that are rarely written about in pop songs: the ways teenage daughters hurt immigrant mothers in their search for autonomy, the complicated perspective Asians raised in the West often have of their family’s countries of origin. Rina’s portrayal of the Asian diasporic experience acknowledges that there isn’t always an easy way to repair the damage done to our relationships with our families, and that we have a lot of unlearning to do before we can communicate meaningfully.
“The record is about how I just didn’t understand who was right and what the truth is.”
‘Paradisin’’ - one of the album’s highlights - is a Trojan horse of a song, a bubbly pop track that masks layers of childhood anger and resentment. A teenage Rina begs her mother to stop checking in on her via MSN messenger and just let her
“have an unforgettable time of my life”; the song recognizes her frustration, while also showing how overdramatic it was. It’s a sentiment that will resonate with most people who remember being hyperbolic and shortsighted teenagers, and yet it feels distinctly Asian because, for many children of Asian immigrants, their parents symbolise the set of cultural practices they feel they have to shed to fully belong in white-dominated spaces. If Mitski’s ‘Your Best American Girl’ is an empowering anthem of overcoming internalised shame, ‘Paradisin’’ is its equally important prequel, one that documents and contextualises the root of the shame. “Because we shared a laptop, my mum would go on MSN if I wasn’t answering her phone calls,” she remembers. “She would just go and talk to my friends and be like, ‘Where is Rina?’. It breaks my heart thinking about how mean I was to her. There’s a line in ‘Paradisin’’ where she’s threatening to send me to boarding school but we can’t afford it. She literally said that all the time. I’d be like, ‘We can’t, we’re fucking poor, we can’t afford it anyway!’ and I’d call her a bitch. I regret that a lot, obviously. There is no black and white. [The song is] a celebration of a bit of a mess.” Similarly, she wrote ‘Tokyo Love Hotel’ as a critique of Western tourists who selfishly use Japan as a means to their personal self discovery without treating the people who live there with equal respect. But, it’s also an incredibly nuanced critique of herself and her ingrained Western gaze, too. In another song on the record, ‘Bad Friend’, she sings about a trip to Tokyo that went disastrously wrong. While the focus of the song is the deteriorating relationship, she mentions drinking and getting kicked out of bars throughout the city. “I wrote about how Westerners come to Tokyo and have a great time but can be very disrespectful to Japanese people,” she says. “But if you go back to ‘Bad Friend’, I was that person. I was taking my Western brain there and thinking it’s OK to get so drunk in a karaoke booth that I was naked, just causing havoc.” For someone writing so personally for the first time, Rina is remarkably adept at it. There’s a new weight and texture to the songs that make up ‘SAWAYAMA’ that comes from her ability to both articulate her frustrations and take accountability for her place within them. There’s no clear resolution or catharsis here, just the embrace of relationships at their messiest, and a willingness to keep loving people through it all. “I guess I do steer away from that classic heteronormative love song, but at the end of the day I think everything is a love song,” she says. “Most songs are about love, whether it’s love for the planet, or love for your family or love for your friends.” ‘SAWAYAMA’ is out 17th April via Dirty Hit. DIY
“Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the best London band of them all…”
Mysterious Visions Never ones to take the road oft travelled, Sorry have spent the last few years creating their own blueprint. With the release of debut ‘925’, they might be plugging into the machine, but they’re still charging it with the same wayward energy. Words: James Balmont. Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
n 2017, Sorry stuck two fingers up at the established order of things by uploading a mass of stockpiled tunes and visuals onto the internet for the world to digest at their leisure. The ‘Home Demo/ns Vol. 1’ mixtape might have been a great PR move if they were trying to prove their worth to land a record deal - but the band had just signed a major contract with one of the biggest indie labels in the country.
When they did it all again six months later with a second volume of genre-bending doodles and demos, you’d assume that the alarm bells at Domino HQ would be ringing. If rumours are to be believed, Sorry’s contract was the label’s most lucrative offering since they signed Arctic Monkeys in 2005. But here was a band giving away everything for free. And, as they ready the release of their first ‘normal’ album two years on, the unpredictable bunch are continuing to show that they could care much, much more about playing by the rules. The point is hammered home effectively by the disjointed fashion in which the five members of the band arrive at North London’s Mascara Bar today. Their dynamics are all over the place. Drummer Lincoln Barrett is the first to burst in, boldly declaring his plans for the band’s trip to SXSW in
communal between us - nothing’s too personal that we can’t share it with each other,” says Asha, as she licks the milk foam from her coffee lid. They’re almost family - she and fellow songwriter Louis have known each other since childhood, while Marco is a friend from school. Lincoln, meanwhile, lives on the same street as Asha; they met each other while skateboarding in a Sainsbury’s car park. The notion that Sorry might be something of an insular band, then, holds a lot of truth. “We’ve always felt most comfortable making music at home,” says Louis, nonchalantly flipping beer mats as he ponders the obstacles that stood in the way of the album’s conception. “We just didn’t really like going into the studio, and doing it all as a traditional live band. It took a couple of tries to find the right producer who would be on board with the way we wanted to do it, who got the vibe.” The idea of the home is a poignant reflection of the band’s particular energy - a private, safe space, where they can focus on their creativity. Less interested in bold outfits and a lively social media presence, the quintet are more relaxed when they feel sheltered from external influences. “I think that’s where the music we like, the most emotive stuff, has always come from - look at people like Elliott Smith and Cat Power,” says Louis. It explains why the band’s release strategy has, up to this point, been so spontaneous.
“I think I have F45 disorder, which makes it impossible for people to make up their minds.” - Asha Lorenz March for all the world to hear: “The first thing I’m gonna do is get a bottle of whiskey and hit up the gun range.” Unassuming singer Asha Lorenz follows, dressed for the bitter cold in a furry trapper hat. She timidly shakes hands before sitting at a small table in the corner to nibble on a croissant. Co-vocalist Louis O’Bryen arrives later and immediately orders a Capri-Sun from the bar, before newest member Marco Pini silently slips in soon after. Bassist Campbell Baum doesn’t arrive for over an hour - by which point most of the band have left. Despite their jarring energies, the sense of warmth between the five members of Sorry is endearing. “Everything’s
“We’re more interested in releasing lots of music instead of just doing cycles of singles,” says Asha. “We’re into artists like (Sandy) Alex G, who have little songs hidden away here and there that you can’t easily find. It builds character - that’s what we wanted to do.” “That’s why signing with Domino was such a confidence boost,” adds Lincoln. “It’s a big compliment that someone has faith to allow you the creative freedom. It doesn’t feel like there’s a weight of expectation on us because they’re a label who let you do your own thing, they like to grow bands over a long period of time.” Sorry feel lucky that they’ve been able to build their universe on their own terms. A quick glance at the band’s YouTube channel reveals a slew of visual curiosities, accompanying all kinds of genre-bending sludge-pop. From the warped home videos of ‘Home Demo/ns’ and the dingy pub setting of ‘Right Around The Clock’, to the jazzed up fancy dress of ‘Jealous Guy’, the band have developed a captivatingly weird world around their music. “We just want to do our own thing,” admits Louis, “it doesn’t matter what everyone else does.” 47
“We just want to do our own thing; it doesn’t matter what everyone else does.” - Louis O’Bryen It seems almost out of character, then, for the band to present a conventional album after so many quirky releases in the past. But ‘925’ is the natural conclusion to the band’s behind-the-scenes work in their own eyes. “I don’t think anything has changed,” says Louis. “It just feels like it’s time for us to do a normal album and make that jump. We’ll do other stuff alongside it, as we always have.” “We’ve got big plans with AI,” jokes Lincoln. “And craft beer,” adds Louis. Asha offers a different interpretation to the band’s unpredictability. “We’re indecisive,” she says, in a rare moment of certainty amid otherwise ambiguous responses. “There’s a condition called F45 disorder which makes it impossible for people to make up their minds, and I think I have it. We should have named the album that, to be honest.” The theme is manifested succinctly in the band’s music through the recurring battles between Asha and Louis’ harshly opposed voices. On ‘Perfect’, for example, they almost sound like conflicting thoughts within the same mind - an angel and a devil standing on two shoulders of the same person. 48
“It’s your choice, you know I adore you,” sings the wayward Asha, while booming Louis spits back: “Pick it up and pack it in.” This duel between light and dark features heavily throughout ‘925’, where strange characters and unexpected sounds lurk around every corner. Take the tongue-in-cheek ‘Rock and Roll Star’, a sleazy, saxophone-laden sludge-rock number that recalls fellow Domino act The Kills. It concerns a character who “fucked all night” with the titular rock star, while the similarly themed ‘Starstruck’ addresses the uneasy relationship between a fan and their idol. ‘Right Around The Clock’ even references the melancholy Tears For Fears’ ‘80s pop hit ‘Mad World’. But on the folky ‘Heather’, and the tender refrain of ‘As The Sun Sets” (which finds Asha cooing “I think to myself, what a wonderful world”), the more unnerving narratives are offset by unexpected optimism. These conflicting emotions lend the record a sense of chaos - a kind of twisted fantasy, doused in mystery. “That’s kind of the point,” explains Louis. “It’s supposed to be cryptic.” “There’s no overarching
philosophy or anything like that,” Asha says. “There are different thoughts and feelings, that’s just the way things go. It’s more about just accepting both.” The band are steadfastly resistant to reveal any deeper insight - an idea further symbolised by the presence of the venue’s resident carpenter, who begins hammering loudly against the wall, as if to announce that it’s time to leave. As the band go their separate ways, Asha remains coy about the meaning of it all. “You’re supposed to draw your own conclusions,” she affirms. “I wouldn’t want to tell people what any of it means.” ‘925’ is out 27th March via Domino. DIY
STARS’N’STRIPESSTRUCK We’ve teamed up with NYC promoters AdHoc for Sorry’s first headline show in the Big Apple. Catch them at Brooklyn’s Union Pool on Thursday 12th March - head to diymag.com for info.
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PARTING Recently sober and having taken an extended period away from the road to recoup and recalibrate, it’s with a clear head and a fresh perspective that Waxahatchee returns with country-influenced new LP ‘Saint Cloud’. Words: Joe Goggins.
t’s been a little over eighteen months since Katie Crutchfield last played in London, at a sold-out Oval Space in June of 2018. Just before she was due to take the stage, she called her manager and her boyfriend, with the same message to both: she couldn’t do it. “I’d toured myself into the ground,” she says of the time, now. She gathered herself and made it through the show, and then the rest of a week of UK dates, but she realised something had to give. “I was really early into my sobriety; I had just quit drinking a month before,” she remembers. “I knew that if I was going to take that seriously - if I was going to prioritise my health - I had to go home for a while, and gather my strength, and find the tools I needed to make things work again.” By the time she returns to the road as Waxahatchee this April, the singer will have had fourteen months straight away from touring - her longest stretch since she was sixteen. Now 30, it’s only over the past year that she’s had the time and space to reflect on a whirlwind decade that began with her writing and recording 2012’s ‘American Weekend’ at her parents’ house in Alabama and drew to a close with a maelstrom of critical acclaim for 2017’s ‘Out in the Storm’: an angry, damaged howl of an album that, on reflection, gave some advance warning of how close to the edge ten years of relentless work had driven her.
“So much of this album is about healing, and being gentler on myself.” 50
“I loved making ‘Out in the Storm’ - it was so visceral, and felt so necessary for me. I just knew that it wasn’t going to be a sustainable sound,” Katie explains. Instead, on handsome, countryindebted new release ‘Saint Cloud’, she’s made a complete about-turn, the fury that broiled previously giving way to a gentle,
contemplative simmer. The struggles with addiction and codependency that defined Waxahatchee’s last album remain at the core of her writing but, this time, she’s embracing her scars, and coming to clear-eyed terms with the personal trauma that she laid so bare three years ago. It’s woozy, warm and gorgeously melodic - a paean to the power of self-care. “I’ve always loved Lucinda Williams, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris,” she continues, reeling off the holy trinity of Americana whose influence hangs heavy over the record. “Coming from the South and growing up on country music, it was really formative for me, but when I look back on my earlier records now, I was fighting with my own tendencies all the time. I was this punk who was into indie music, and I was stopping myself from singing a certain way or leaning into certain melodies, even though that was what came naturally to me. Now I’m older, and I’m more mature, and I just feel more secure in my interests and influences. I realised I’d been suppressing these instincts in the past because I wasn’t sure if they were cool, or if they suited me. They really do, though.”
newfound serenity will transfer smoothly to the road. “I feel like the conversation around sobriety among musicians is different now even from where it was a couple of years ago, honestly,” she explains. “You know, it’s 2020; a lot of people are going through what I’ve been through, and I’ve got so many friends who don’t partake any more in a lot of the craziness that comes with touring. Times have changed, and I’ve changed too. I’ve grown up a lot; my whole life is different. I have all the pieces now for the kind of life I want to lead - I just need to put them into place.” Saint Cloud is out 27th March via Merge. DIY
A crucial part of heading home to take time out for the singer was figuring out where home actually was. After years spent on the east coast, first in Brooklyn and then Philadelphia, she’s settled in Kansas City, MO, with boyfriend and fellow musician Kevin Morby; ‘Fire’ details a slow drive there from her hometown of Birmingham, AL, through Memphis. That sense of place is something deeply ingrained in ‘Saint Cloud’ - an album named for her father’s Florida hometown and recorded largely in Texas, but that figuratively takes stops in New York City, Tennessee and Barcelona, too. There’s also the sense that Katie’s sobriety which has stuck since mid-2018 - has lifted some of the fog that so thickly surrounded her previously. “So much of this album is about healing, and being gentler on myself. I think I’ve found a way to still be self-critical, but in a way that’s self loving,” she nods. “It’s been a delicate process - sobriety is a precarious thing - but I really feel as if I’ve done the work on myself in the time off. I’ve worked through a lot of pain in these stories, which is why I’ve been talking more openly about addiction: it’s at the root of the album, and you can’t really talk about the songs and not talk about what recovery has meant to me.” With a return to full-scale touring looming, and a new live lineup promising to reinvent the Waxahatchee catalogue, Katie is optimistic that her
“In Paris, they think I’m some kind of sex sheriff.”
Midnight Cowboy To say that Baxter Dury has lived a colourful life would be something of an understatement but, heading into new LP ‘The Night Chancers’, we find a man embracing his lot with a grin and a healthy dose of ridiculousness. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Ed Miles.
Baxter Dury is lounging in the bath, fully-clothed with a rubber
duck perched jauntily atop his crotch, narrating about his recent spray tan experience. “She convinced me to get an 8.5%, and you know how they call Benidorm the gammon ghetto?” he questions, as a picture of his admittedly rather orange self gets flashed up for reference. “I was the gammon king.”
A natural raconteur and blessed with a surreal and hilarious way with words, you can tell Baxter thrives in odd situations such as these. As DIY sends him down to pose on the riverbank outside his West London flat - the Thames-side building he grew up in with his dad, Ian Dury of The Blockheads, and recently returned to - he gamely prats around with the affable nature of a man who’s long-since accepted that his life is a bit different than most’s. “I was around entertainment, so I was brought up with exhibitionists. When my Dad used to pick me up he’d have a Union Jack enamel in his teeth and a CND sign shaved on the side of his head,” he begins with an immediately recognisable London drawl. “I’m used to people drawing unnecessary levels of attention to themselves, so I don’t really mind doing river pimp things...” There’s a certain level of inevitability to Baxter’s artistic bent; brought up around a fair amount of insanity, you sense he’s not a man who could hold down an office job with any great success. Currently he’s particularly plugged back into the “maelstrom matrix of history” - having just signed a book deal, he’s got a box of old photos and ephemera in the corner, and is spending his days trying to conjure a picture onto the page of a particularly notable period of his childhood. “I lived here with a guy called the Sulphate
Strangler who was one of Dad’s old cohorts, a rock’n’roll security type person,” he begins. “He thought it was quite a good sociological experiment to make me live with him to show me what the edge looked like so I never totally went over it. Mum had persuaded Dad to send me to a private tutorial college, so I was driven every morning by Strangler in a tiny white Nissan with a kamikaze sign on the front, and he was so big each of his elbows breeched out of the window and I had to sit in the back. It was a pretty fucking weird thing. “So I’m in a semi-bleak process of trying to put that down, and I’m a feral, unstable source of information, but if I do it as a slightly inaccurate dreamy thing then it’s a possibility I’ll finish it,” he continues. “It’s not about music, it’s not about Dad, it’s about a child and a giant odorous man and how they bond. It’s a story - like ET.”
hough bike-riding aliens might not actually make their way into Baxter’s own tale, it’s a cast of wayward characters that slink over the singer’s latest musical venture, ‘The Night Chancers’. Having spent the last two decades populating his canon with the kind of miscreants and rotters best kept under the cover of darkness, on his sixth, they’re out in full force, from the ‘Slumlord’ with his “murder shoes” and “dirty eyes”, to the posh boy “polo lizards” that make up ‘Saliva Hog’. If 2017’s standout ‘Prince of Tears’ was a break-up album by any other name, then ‘The Night Chancers’ comes out with more of a sneer than a sob. “I’m just drawn to [the underbelly], it’s where it all occurs to me, where the world begins and ends. If you’re too successful, a porcelain-faced successful person, then it’s just not of interest,” he shrugs. “I have no interest in that outside Brexit Trump thing. It’s not that I don’t give a fuck, I just don’t understand it, but I understand self and I have a vain way of looking at the world. It’s all about me me me me me.” It’s a narrative style, coupled with a red winesoaked onstage demeanour and a fondness for an Italian suit or two, that’s given Baxter a reputation that somewhat precedes him... “I think in Paris they think I’m just a weird love factory, and I really like the idea of pretending to be this really bad guy, but they think I’m some kind of sex sheriff,” he grins. “I think it’s a style. There’s a right balance where you 53
“I have a vain way of looking at the world. It’s all about me me me me me.” can look a bit seedy and it looks quite good. So I’m tapping into that bit, but I’m not trying to be a sex sheriff.” Having collected a small congregation of likeminded artistic pals around him, Baxter’s phone book might read like a who’s who of music’s more out-there characters, but much like his wild west mythology, the reality is actually a lot more wholesome. “Me and Jason [from Sleaford Mods] will send each other very sweet-natured texts twice a month, and the Fat Whites will never show me what they’re up to; I come in and everything gets hidden. Not to say I’m the straightest person in the world but I don’t wanna make a cake with a swastika on it,” he notes. “And Jarvis has got a flat in Paris, so whenever I’m in Paris we’re these strange, ill fitted suitwearing ex pats that hang out. He’s a really good DJ and I’m awful - I call myself DJ Vulnerable - so he’ll DJ and I’ll just get cocktails and annoy him.” The picture it all paints is of someone both very normal, and very much not. He’ll merrily remember when, as a kid, the Blockheads played 10 nights at Hammersmith Apollo, making them the only artist to accomplish the feat aside from Bowie; the next minute, he’ll be saying how he cried at the Taylor Swift Netflix documentary and got ribbed for having Google alerts set up on himself (“I didn’t think anything about it, but my friend was crying with laughter over it, and retrospectively I thought, 54
‘Yeah... you do look like a bit of a cunt’”). It’s a winning combination, one that makes a period in Baxter’s company one of life’s more amusing ways to spend time. It’s also one that, six albums in, has cemented the singer as a true cult hero - a man who might never reach the dizzying heights of fame he saw firsthand as a kid, but whose charm and idiosyncratic musical niche has earned him his own,
justifiable tribe. “I think [my success] is kind of capped. I’m 48 and I make weird, narrative-based, slightly morose music,” he decides. “But it’s too tiresome to be stuck marinading in your own expectations, you’ll go fucking insane, so I’m pretty relaxed about it. I live a good life, there’s a great balance. I live here and I can look at the sunset, and I was in the bath and everyone laughed and someone brought some Hobnobs. And I think I’m actually really good, so once you think you’re really good it doesn’t matter so much. I definitely drink it in. If someone says ‘Are you Baxter?’ I’m like ‘YES! It’s ME! I’m AMAZING! This is the best day of your life!” ‘The Night Chancers’ is out 20th March via Rough Trade. DIY
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Dances With The
HMLTD were meant to have it all, but when the hype died down and their major label deal went sour, they had to regroup and work out what they really wanted. The result is long-awaited debut album ‘West of Eden’. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
lot of people’s issues were that they saw us as not being sincere, that we didn’t really believe in what we were doing,” begins Henry Spychalski. “People saw it as a cynical attempt to sell, which in a large part was probably down to our association with Sony; had we been on an independent label, then maybe people wouldn’t have had this perception of us as marketing something [false].”
that points to the the bad decision-making that comes with an extensive bureaucracy. We’d have meetings about meetings about meetings, and no-one’s on the same page.”
More troublesome, however, were the accusations levelled at the band of appropriating queer culture. It’s a stance that the singer acknowledges may have stemmed from them not having “found the voice and the self-awareness to articulate [their] concepts” at the time, but that he’s adamant was never the aim. “We always knew what we Exploding into life back in 2016 as the then-cheekilywanted to do. We knew we named Happy Meal Ltd, hated the bland guitar indie south London quintet HMLTD “We want to create an that we felt surrounded by quickly became the epitome environment where people can and that we wanted to do of polarising hype. Decked out really theatrical and like a Central Saint Martin’s really be themselves and not be something immersive and provocative and ‘Erotic Renaissance’ collection, with a penchant for immersive judged for it.” - Henry Spychalski challenging,” he begins. “I just think, at the start, what we were live shows and a burgeoning doing was very instinctive but it was very unarticulated, catalogue of songs that smashed industrial throbs with and it took us a long time to find the way to articulate it. Henry’s theatrical wails, they quickly and starkly divided opinion. In one early review, they were labelled “a band “We’re trying to challenge toxic masculinity and we’re that genuinely seem to stand for something different”; in doing that from the perspective we can do that from, another, the writer overhears someone in the crowd declare as the human beings we were born into being, which is “I didn’t think I could hate a band this much”. predominantly straight cis men,” he continues. “But I don’t think having that role should exclude or prohibit you from But by 2017, they’d generated enough talk for the major taking on that political perspective and from taking on labels to come sniffing and, against all odds, this strange, what is probably the most violent, toxic, cruel force in our distinctly art school band became labelmates with society. We’re learning from queer methods and we always Beyoncé. Then came the turn. Today, Henry describes the try to express that indebtedness.” latter stage of their time with the label - who they’ve since parted ways with - as feeling like “an asset in an investment Now, with recently-released, long-awaited debut album portfolio”. An asset that, you sense, was not quite as ‘West of Eden’ out in the world, the band finally have a profitable as they’d first hoped. “The issue is, when you’re manifesto to back them up. A concept album that lays in that context, [employees] have to sell or they’ll get modern capitalism, exploitation and violence up against fired. We ended up being quite enslaved to the corporate religion and historical mythologies (the band’s logo is of machinery,” he recalls. “There’s a great expression that Romulus and Remus - “two brothers suckling at the teat goes ‘a camel is a horse designed by committee’, and
of the compassionate she-wolf, sucking her dry until one brother murders the other”), it is undoubtedly a record that comes good on all the pomp and ceremony that came before it. ‘What’s The Story...’ mk II, this certainly is not.
ressed today in an immaculately-tailored red suit and slicked back hair, and bringing to mind a chat show host that might go American Psycho at any point, it’s not hard to spot which person in the pub is a member of HMLTD. He’s perhaps surprisingly affable, remarkably wordy, but also speaks a lot of sense; if the singer’s interview style is a lot to wrap your head around, then it’s also one that leaves you thinking. It’s an attitude that bleeds all over the quintet’s whole ethos, too: they’re a band that unashamedly care, who go above and beyond to portray their twisted fantasies and who are willing to lay themselves on the line in pursuit of what they believe in. “I’ve always found the dichotomy between theatricality and sincerity to be absurd. I think the most insincere thing is that cool, ironic detachment that’s so obviously affected by people who don’t want to be seen as trying hard, or committing themselves to something,” he declares. “I absolutely loathe The 1975, but they have that song ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ and I was like, ‘I’ll give you that one Matty Healy’. They’re this band that very clearly advances the idea of sincerity; they aren’t about being ironic, and irony is just cowardice. Irony is a form of self-protection in a society where meaningful statements and sincerity are not in abundance.” Meaningful statements within the world of HMLTD, however, come at every turn. They want to destroy “the pernicious forces” of a contemporary Western society “steeped in a history of male violence and cruelty”, and create a new era of pop (“We see ourselves as contributing to a new form of pop which is about genre-bending and unpredictability and experimentation”). Perhaps most appealingly, they’re deeply indebted to the possibilities and potential around them; rather than posturing cynics, the band are perhaps actually more wide-eyed in their own way than most.
“We want to try and create worlds,” nods the singer. “A large part of what we do is with this emphasis on imagination, and by creating these bizarre videos and weird set designs, we try and imagine these different worlds the audience can step into to engage with us. We want to create imagined universes and I think that in itself is a radical, political act because what you do when you imagine something is you point to the contingency of your present, actual situation. You remind audiences that it doesn’t have to be that way, that everything can be undone.” If there are many things that the casual observer could hate about HMLTD (they’re inaccessible; style over substance; pretentious), then dig a little deeper and those same traits are actually exactly what they’re not. Go to any show of theirs and you’ll find the most unapologetic, unashamedly free crowd imaginable: “When people present the truest version of themselves, I think they feel sexy,” says Henry. “That’s all we could ever ask for for our shows, that we create this environment where people can really be themselves and not be judged for it.” While, within ‘West of Eden’’s utterly wild 15-track ride, you’ll find an album that builds on the promise of old and turns it into coherent - albeit still fabulously strange grinding, playful, industrial pop nuggets. And as for pretension? “People are so afraid to be seen to try hard, and they’re the same people that are willing to throw around the word pretentious,” counters Henry. “But it’s also a word that can be applied to every great development and idea in the history of culture. When Duchamp did the urinal, that was pretentious; when John Cage did four minutes of silence, that was pretentious; when Jackson Pollock splashed loads of paint on a canvas, that was pretentious. So when people say we’re pretentious, I’m like, ‘Great. Thank god we’re not fucking boring’.” ‘West of Eden’ is out now via Lucky Number. DIY
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Li ve . La u gh . La u v. With debut album ‘~how i’m feeling~’, the man behind all your favourite radio bangers is finally stepping out into the spotlight. But is pop’s worst kept secret ready to become its newest frontrunner? Words: Elly Watson. Photos: Eva Pentel. Dog: Sparkles. 60
People know my songs but don’t really know me.”
or somebody who has multi-platinum songs, it’s nice because I can walk around and still exist and a lot of people have no idea who the fuck I am,” Ari Staprans Leff laughs. “But sometimes it can get annoying when somebody introduces me like, ‘This is Lauv’ and people are like, ‘Who?!’. Then they sing ‘I Like Me Better’ and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I love that song!!’ Like fuck off…” Although you may not yet be able to pick him out of a lineup, it’s almost impossible that you haven’t heard one of Lauv’s songs. ‘Boys’ by Charli XCX? He co-wrote that. ‘I’m So Tired…’ by Troye Sivan - a non-stop feature on the radio at the beginning of last year? He’s the one singing back to back with the Aussie star. Boyband of the moment BTS’ ‘Make It Right’? He’s the voice who hopped on the remix. In fact, Lauv is arguably one of the biggest pop stars on the planet right now, but - despite a cool 1.5 million followers on Instagram - even when sporting the gigantic fluffy faux-fur coat he’s modelling today, the Californian can still pop down the shops for a pint of milk relatively unnoticed. 61
However, all of that is likely to change pretty soon. First starting to write music at age 13, Ari learnt how to produce whilst playing in emo bands, eventually deciding to become a songwriter and behind the scenes guy for other artists halfway through college when none of his own bands took off. It wasn’t until later that he would dip his toes back into the waters of his own music, releasing his first track as Lauv in 2015; now, five years on, the 25-year-old multi-instrumentalist is gearing up to release hotlyanticipated debut ‘~how i’m feeling~’ this month, a 21-track epic with all the ingredients to become one of the year’s best pop offerings. “People know my songs but don’t really know me,” Lauv smiles. “I hope with this album, not because I want to be famous or whatever, but I hope people will actually connect with the full range of who I am.”
xploring pretty much every emotion under the sun, ‘~how i’m feeling~’ is a born soundtrack for pop lovers wanting to let out some angst. Flowing from heartbreak (‘Believed’) and an emotional apology to an ex-girlfriend (‘Julia’), to falling back in love (‘Tattoos Together’) and an unexpected ode to the singer’s favourite Mexican restaurant (‘El Tejano’), the record encapsulates an emotional rollercoaster packaged up into the softboi bangers that Lauv has become known for. Some of its highlights, meanwhile, come from the album’s huge collaborations, with guest spots from many of pop’s biggest names scattered across the 21-song run. “Before I started releasing music as Lauv, these were some of the artists that I’d listen to and if I could even be in the room with them and be a producer or contribute one line, that would be a fucking dream,”
he reminisces, naming LANY’s Paul Klein, AnneMarie, and BTS among his favourites. “I think it’s so cool that these things are happening now. The BTS thing happened really naturally; I met them at their show in Wembley for two minutes and someone
from their team was like, ‘They’d love to have you on a remix of ‘Make It Right’ and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?!’. Then I said, ‘I have this song (‘Who’) that they’d sound cool on’ and they loved it and recorded it and I was like, ‘What the fuck is happening?!”
“Being in the spotlight, I’ve had to learn how to care less about what other people think of me.”
Taking a little bit of inspiration from the Korean group, Lauv has even created his own boyband to celebrate the record, introducing six characters in order to convey all the different aspects he explores across the album. Dividing his personality into separate entities, there’s The Existentialist, The Hopeless Romantic, The Class Clown, Mr Positive, The Fuckboy, and Spicy Boy: “The Fuckboy is all ego whereas Spicy Boy has some talent,” he notes sagely of the latter two. “I used to think that I had to be certain things in certain moments, instead of thinking, well, this is who I am,” he says of the idea to craft his “one-man boyband”. “Sometimes I might be mad and sometimes I might miss an ex of mine, but I’m just going to be all of those things, and I want people to accept that about themselves too.” Indeed, the core of ‘~how i’m feeling~’ is all about this idea of embracing all aspects of yourself: an obstacle that Lauv himself has struggled with in the past. Writing album opener ‘Drugs And The Internet’ a year and a half ago, he fell into depression shortly afterwards and almost quit music entirely. He confides that he’s now in a much better place, mentioning meditation and establishing a regime in his life as factors that have helped him. “The thing that I don’t like about all of this is it’s very bad for your ego,” he explains. “I have self confidence issues so sometimes I’ll come out of a photoshoot or interview and feel like absolute shit and sometimes I’m on top of the world; it’s this very egotistical ride and that’s not why I got into music. I have a lot of trouble staying connected to what this is all really about.” It’s a struggle that’s he’s had to deal with even more over the last year as his star has risen, and
he’s been starkly open about his difficulty adjusting to being in the limelight. In the video for album cut ‘Sims’, Lauv lies in bed debating Instagram captions and photos for hours, a practice that undoubtedly stems from real life experience. “The way I try to explain it,” he suggests, “is you know when you’re at a party and you’re having a conversation with a group of people and you can be saying absolute shit and three people will be like, ‘Yeah, I fuck with that’ but you don’t really know what the other people are thinking? On the internet you KNOW. People tell you.”
most recent example of this occurred when he released the video for ‘Tattoos Together’ and fans were quick to jump on social media to point out the similarities to The 1975’s ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ clip. “That was a disaster of a morning,” Lauv sighs. “I’m a fan of The 1975 but I haven’t seen all of their videos, and when that happened I was fucking crushed. Me and Matty have spoken before about working on music - not necessarily for a 1975 / Lauv collaboration, but we’re both always working on shit all the time - and the last thing I want to do is lose respect from an artist I really look up to, so I decided to address it head on and he was so fucking chill about it.” Matty’s texted response? “Ur mums a hoe. Lol Bro honest idgaf. Let’s all love making music.” Classic. “It’s definitely interesting being in the spotlight because I’ve had to learn how to care less about what other people think of me. Growing up I was always very self conscious and wanted to get approval from people; I didn’t necessarily grow up in the most superloving environment. Not that I’m not close to my family, and I love them very much, but I think there’s definitely been struggles in terms of openness and communication of love. There was a part of me for a long time that was always trying to get that from other people and that’s something that’s had to change with me. How can I be happy with the person that I am in myself and put that out in the world and
Lauv: The Story So Far
Still going “OH, it’s THAT GUY!” when you find out you’ve been bopping along to a Lauv song for months? Let us remind you of Ari’s big moments so far… ‘I Like Me Better’ Originally released in 2017, this sleeper hit slowly inched its way into success, spending more than six months rising up the US Billboard 100 before being nudged into the big leagues via Netflix film ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ ‘There’s No Way (feat. Julia Michaels)’ A classic tale of girl meets boy, girl and boy write a massive pop hit, girl and boy date for a while before girl and boy sadly break up. Julauv (we just made that up) might not still be a thing, but ‘There’s No Way’ luckily is. ‘i’m so tired... (feat. Troye Sivan)’ Reaching the UK Top 10 at the start of last year, Lauv’n’Troye’s “accidental duet” was ubiquitous at the top of 2019. They may have been “tired of love songs”, but the world was only just getting on board with Lauv. ‘Make It Right’ Oh, y’know, just a little song in which Lauv was asked to guest with the biggest boyband in the world, BTS. Don’t worry about it.
not really care if it does or doesn’t do well, or if people do or don’t like it? It’s been this really interesting battle.” Using social media to share his journey of self-acceptance, Lauv’s online platform is peppered with iPhone note screenshots of his internal feelings and honest musings about what he’s going through. It’s a world away from many pop stars’ perfectly curated feeds, but it’s something that Lauv hopes his audience can connect to. “You see, what performs really well on Instagram is looking hot, but I want to make it more about real discussions,” he emphasises. “I always resented [people focusing on physical beauty] growing up because I never felt like that kid and I always felt a little bit off and weird and different. So I try and focus more of my energy on honest messaging, which sometimes doesn’t work because some people just don’t care but that’s fine because I hope it makes a real impact for the people who do. “I used to want to hide from public image and not put my face out because I was highly insecure,” he elaborates. “And I’ve come to realise that I’m still insecure, but I hope that by me not being afraid to show that - and just because I happen to make music that a lot of people like - it doesn’t mean I’m some elevated person. I’m just like, fuck it, let’s live.” So with a debut album finally entering into the world, and the prospect of global music stardom on his doorstep, how does pop’s worst kept secret feel about stepping into the seemingly inescapable spotlight? “I don’t really want it or not want it,” he muses. “I’m leaning towards not wanting it, I think.” He laughs. “I kind of like being able to be a dumbass and do what I like…” We’ll see how that one pans out… ‘~how i’m feeling~’ is out 6th March via AWAL. DIY
Undoubtedly the singer’s darkest album yet.
Miss Anthropocene (4AD) Having first made her name via 2012’s ‘Visions’ - a glitchy, lucid dream of an album, recorded during a nine-day amphetamine marathon - you’d never expect Grimes to go about the day-to-day business of being an acclaimed pop star in the standard manner. But, even by her own standards, the route from 64
2015’s ‘Art Angels’ to her latest, ‘Miss Anthropocene’, has been an eyebrow-raising one. There was the public dissing of her longterm label 4AD, who she blamed for the delay in releasing new material, declaring “[the] music industry is trash,” and the bizarre decision to change her offstage name last year from Claire to simply lowercase ‘c’. Whether the current Miss Boucher will become the future Mrs c Musk (a fragrance we’d probably steer clear of) when she and space-tech overlord Elon pop a sprog later this year, meanwhile, is yet to be seen. It all adds to an image that Grimes has held for a while now of a lovable
weirdo whose talent has thrust her somewhat uncomfortably into the mainstream; a true outsider more suited to Comic Con than Coachella, you’d never place a safe bet as to where she’d go next. Which would be wise as, if ‘Art Angels’ was a far more accessible beast than its predecessor, packed full of sugary, strange pop nuggets, then ‘Miss Anthropocene’ - from its misanthropic play-on-words title onwards – makes for a far more introverted, claustrophobic listen. Even a casual glance through the track titles (‘Delete Forever’, ‘Violence’, ‘You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around’) suggests that there’s some dark magic going on over at
Opener ‘So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth’ is an undulating, sixminute intro whose title also makes for some of its only audible lyrics, deployed in ghostly layers over deep, constant bass and a general feeling of being dragged into the underworld; ‘Darkseid’, with 潘PAN, meanwhile, picks up where ‘AA’’s Aristophanes-featuring ‘Scream’ left off, but replaces the former’s playful menace with something altogether more bleak and desolate. It makes the fact that ‘Delete Forever’’s opening acoustic guitars sound really quite a lot like ‘Wonderwall’ even more baffling, but such is the
There are moments such as these when the heavy shroud that cloaks a lot of ‘Miss Anthropocene’ is lifted. Previous single and standout ‘Violence’, featuring i_o, still pulses with an industrial throb, but the feeling is more late-night rave than late-night depression sesh, while ‘4ÆM’ is an intoxicating, heady thing that veers from spiritual falsettos to drum’n’bass in seconds. At other points (the echoing, sparse ‘New Gods’; the lyrically-twisted ‘My Name is Dark’), however, she dives intoxicatingly full-in to life’s underbelly.
•SO HEAVY I FELL THROUGH THE EARTH •DARKSEID (WITH 潘PAN) •DELETE FOREVER •VIOLENCE (WITH I_O) •4ÆM •NEW GODS •MY NAME IS DARK •YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M NOT AROUND •BEFORE THE FEVER •IDORU
‘Miss Anthropocene’ is undoubtedly the singer’s darkest album yet, the result perhaps of a rollercoaster halfdecade or maybe just of an artist who’s never really given two fucks about playing the radio-friendly commercial game. “The girls are such a bore / The boys are such a bore,” she sneers on ‘My Name is Dark’. No-one, thankfully, could dare sling such an accusation at Grimes. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Violence’ featuring i_o, ‘4ÆM’ 65
HAYLEY WILLIAMS Petals For Armor I (Atlantic)
These People (Council)
Look up the word ‘rage’ in the dictionary, and it becomes all too clear why it’s the perfect noun to open Hayley Williams’ solo venture. Much like the word itself - the meaning for which can flit between ‘violent uncontrollable anger’ and ‘a vehement desire or passion’ - the first part of her ‘Petals For Armor’ project is a shapeshifting beast. Opener ‘Simmer’ is a track that does so literally, glimmering with a dark sense of fury, while its musicality is like nothing we’ve ever heard Hayley explore before. Punctuated with percussive beats and exaggerated breathing, its slinky and rhythmic refrain is deliciously addictive. ‘Leave It Alone’ - an initially more tender offering - treads a similarly ominous path, complete with stabs of eerie strings, while its lyrics see our narrator grappling with mortality in the most literal of senses. tFinal number ‘Sudden Desire’, by contrast, comes packed with crunchy beats, and pulsates with an unapologetic craving and power. That’s what’s so remarkable about these first five tracks: while Hayley’s never exactly been one to put her emotions on the back burner, there’s a sense of rawness to the honesty of ‘Petals For Armor I’ that feels wholly and overwhelmingly human. A perfect storm of menace, anger, hurt and temptation, across the EP she cathartically explores grief (“Now that I finally want to live / The ones I love are dying”), solitude (“I am not lonely / I am free”) and sexuality (“I wanted to him to kiss me hard / With open mouth”), in a sonically shifting fever dream. These five tracks may only mark the beginning of Hayley’s new era, but they’re proving an undeniably potent start. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Simmer’
A perfect storm of menace, anger, hurt and temptation.
Post-punk is very much back in vogue, but Talk Show do well to make a deeper impression on their first EP. While snarling debut single ‘Fast and Loud’ had already done enough to turn heads, ‘These People’ suggests a richer palette of influences, with darkwave and ‘80s goth pop channeling the likes of Sisters of Mercy and The Birthday Party. Tom Holmes’ flashing guitar partners a startled bassline and choppy drums on ‘Atomica’, while Harrison Swann’s distinctive drawl provides a murky underbelly to ‘Banshee’. “Panic in the cellar, deep breaths on ket,” he growls on ‘Petrolhead’, in one of the more questionable lyrics of this 12-minute record. Somehow, his raging delivery makes it a compelling concept. Final track ‘Stress’ is the only number that feels out of place. With a chorus that cries out “this is stress at best” over power-punk guitars, the song offers an abrasively uplifting conclusion to an otherwise more menacing collection. At least it’s not all doom and gloom. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Atomica’
You can pinpoint the moment Sorry became genuine contenders back to late 2018. Having inked a deal with Domino based on a handful of interesting but deeply idiosyncratic early tracks - songs with seesawing structures, batted between Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen’s equally disinterested vocals - you could understand why the label would like the Londoners, but you couldn’t see where they thought they were headed. Then, however, came ‘Starstruck’: a bona fide banger replete with earworm bassline, grotty backing “urgh”s and a Proper Chorus. Charging out with more intent than the band had ever hinted at, it announced that Sorry weren’t just intriguing outsiders, they could also write a hit. On debut LP ‘925’, the band still populate much of its 13 songs with unusual, unlikely ideas - ‘In Unison’ changes time signature every 30 seconds, while ‘Wolf’ is a danger-flecked skulk of a track - but there’s something that’s audibly shifted from their early days; in every offering, there are moments of melody, beauty or punch delivered. Singles ‘Right Around The Clock’ and ‘Rock’n’Roll Star’ rep their seedy side, ‘Snakes’ is an insidious slow-builder, while the clattering ‘More’ could be the gluttonous soundtrack of modern, meaningless consumerism. With scant regard for commercialism, Sorry have somehow managed to mould something immediate and accessible but undeniably in their own image. It’s a truly special debut, one that makes strange magic at every turn. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Starstruck’
Sorry - “Just another glowing review, here we go again…
~ how i’m feeling ~ (AWAL)
If you’re looking for your new favourite pop album, Lauv’s got you sorted.
Highly praised as a songwriter and producer, and with several multi-platinum hits already under his belt, expectations are more than high for Lauv’s first official LP ‘~how I’m feeling~’, and he lives up to them and then some. Throughout this 21-track pop odyssey, Lauv shows just why he’s considered one of the finest pop writers around. With his reputation for crafting emotional pop bangers, songs like ‘Drugs And The Internet’, ‘Tattoos Together’, and ‘Feelings’ provide the fix on that account, while the collabs he’s become famous for - previously released chart toppers ‘I’m so tired…’ with Troye Sivan, ‘Fuck I’m Lonely’ with Anne-Marie and ‘Mean It’ with LANY - also appear. But if you were expecting these to be the highlights, Lauv’s got a lil’ something extra up his sleeve. In fact, ‘~how I’m feeling~’ presents Lauv as much more than just the hit machine he’s become known as. Born of a place of turmoil, the album shines in its emotional moments. Guitar-led ‘For Now’ glistens with longing, ’Changes’ is a roll-call for those going through the shit, and ‘Julia’ paints a poignant portrait of someone who knows they’ve done wrong. Delicate closer ’Modern Loneliness’ with its set-to-be anthemic chorus of “we love to get high but we don’t know how to come down”, meanwhile, will pull on the iciest of heartstrings. With some to dance to and some to cry to, if you’re looking for your new favourite pop album, Lauv’s got you sorted. (Elly Watson) LISTEN: ‘Sad Forever’ 67
THE WANTS (Council)
On their debut, New Yorkers The Wants channel a genre we’re going to call ‘dystopian fetish club art-punk’ - its punters are saucy, leatherclad types, but they’re also intellectuals. Maybe they do some coding for an underground government whistleblower on the side. We don’t know the details. Either way, across 12 tracks, they’ve got a dark, tension-laced canon to play it out to: a bleak splash of Interpol here (‘Ape Trap’), a sci-fi instrumental there (‘Aluminium’). Helmed by Bodega’s Madison VeldingVanDam and Heather Elle, ‘Container’ is arguably a lot more straightforward than their other outfit’s precocious lyricisms and unlikely structures; ‘Fear My Society’’s timely sentiments and ‘80s synths feel familiar, while ‘The Motor’ is almost like nu rave for goths. Yet, though there’s a clear outlook and lots to like, there’s a certain ‘leather trenchcoat on Camden High Street’ vibe to The Wants when you sense they were aiming for something a little more forward-thinking. (Sarah Pope) LISTEN: ‘The Motor’
Photos: Pooneh Ghana
Albums that surface in the wake of sobriety frequently hold striking results - the fierce creativity of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and DIIV’s recent clearheaded, focused ‘Deceiver’ spring to mind. The same whiff of wide-eyed awakening lingers in the songs of Waxahatchee’s ‘Saint Cloud’. On this fifth album, Katie Crutchfield exchanges the rugged tone of her last few LPs for a softer palate that employs piano, the soft strum of an acoustic guitar and dusty drums. This exercise of restraint gives her songwriting a little more room to breathe which, in turn, illuminates her gravitational vocal tone and transcendent lyrical turns. The mystic lyrics of ‘Oxbow’ unfurl in a spiralling melody set to pounding piano and twinkling sonics while ‘Lilacs’ glows gorgeously in a sun-kissed instrumental comprised of stirring strings, Mellotron and a clicking rimshot. ‘Saint Cloud’ is the rousing of a regenerated spirit that chronicles not just the journey but the revelations of love, life and death that comes with it. A very special album indeed. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘Fire’
PORRIDGE RADIO Every Bad
“Thank you for making me happy”, repeats Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin on ‘Every Bad’ opener ‘Born Confused’, a sentiment which unsettlingly spirals from its initial whimsical delivery into a pained, otherworldly caterwaul. It sets the tone for a record that never really presents itself as either fully happy or miserable, treading the dense grey area that floats between the two. Dana’s vocal snarls jar against the startling music, itself conjuring a nightmarish atmosphere that plays with both the record’s raw feel and its many dramatic climaxes. ‘Every Bad’ deals with the conflicting emotions of existing in harmony with others. In both sound and lyric it embodies this confusion perfectly. “I don’t know what I want, but I know what I want,” she wrestles on ‘Don’t Ask Me Twice’, one of the record’s many moments as bewildered as they are assertive. The cataclysmic ‘Sweet’ glides from minimal sounds to a visceral vocal explosion, while ‘Pop Song’ pairs Dana’s powerful heartbreak with a gentle melody. Each individual moment offers a new tone, a new feeling, but carries the distinct sound that Porridge Radio have made their own. Few albums carry the raw emotion of ‘Every Bad’, and carry it with such musical confidence. Come closer ‘Homecoming Song’, Dana declares “there’s nothing inside”, having spent the previous ten tracks embracing vulnerability and purging herself of all feeling, both good and bad. That the album has the same effect on the listener is nothing short of incredible. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘Don’t Ask Me Twice’ 68
LÅPSLEY Through Water (XL)
Sometimes, an album’s artwork tells you everything you need to hear. On 2016 debut ‘Long Way Home’, Låpsley stares you down from the sleeve, her defiant look setting the scene for her sad-synth mediations on internal hurt. On ‘Through Water’ she’s stopped demanding answers and has given herself over to the elements - a deep dive of commitment, going wherever the waves might take her. The leap has definitely paid off - her inimitable voice thrives in the woozy dancehall and afrobeat-inspired ‘First’ and the big pop confidence of ‘Womxn’, but also knows when to take a step back, peppering the record with spoken word segments and heartfelt mantras that tie the whole thing together. Her work will always be defined by its understated, vulnerable nature, but here it feel much more an intention than an accident - an artist learning to lean into their strengths, no longer shrinking back in the wake of darkness. (Jenessa Williams) LISTEN: ‘Womxn’
Q&A Låpsley on revisiting old material and her extended break. It’s been a while - what have you been up to? I took a year off after touring to recharge and work on my mental health; I moved to Manchester, volunteered, reconnected and worked on relationships, family and friends. I felt after a while that I was back to a place where I could start writing and producing again. I then moved back down to London. Have you found yourself going back to early songs written for it and not recognising yourself? I found that performing old songs, having not performed in over three years, was emotional. You end up applying new heartache and new love and frustrations to old
songs, so it’s similarly as intense as that past with the context of the present. In no way has anything felt unrecognisable, I feel like growing up has involved learning more and more about yourself and the world around, you find yourself extending and growing rather than shifting to another kind of person. As your own producer, how did you manage to whittle down from the 100+ you’d written? The process of choosing the tracks for the record was more of a curation, balancing the songs that I thought were the strongest and also presenting a message or story and a summary of my time away. It came together pretty naturally.
BAXTER DURY The Night Chancers (Heavenly)
Though, on first impression, the female backing vocalists that populate Baxter Dury’s sixth solo LP might serve to further enhance the general aura of slinky, tantalisingly sleazy after-dark activity, after a few moments with ‘The Night Chancers’ you realise there’s something altogether less appealing going on beneath the cloak of seductive lounge and splashes of French fancy. “Who the fuck are you my friend?” they coo on ‘Saliva Hog’, as Baxter narrates of a “slobby spiv with an open shirt”. And really, it’s this atmosphere - one of tragic encounters, desperate characters and the teetering lifestyles of society’s outliers - that the Londoner has perfected over the past two decades. Yes, there’s something cheeky and inviting about the singer’s delivery and observational bon mots (“Carla’s got a boyfriend / He’s got horrible trousers and a small car”), but the world he paints on ‘The Night Chancers’ is not an aspirational place to be. ‘I’m Not Your Dog’’s propulsive electronic beat is the sound of escaping coolly down the motorway away from the crime, while ‘Slumlord’’s splashes of strings can’t mask the man with “soiled trousers” and “shiny cheekbones” at its centre. A master of eulogising the grubby underbelly, Baxter’s is the kind of voice that’s utterly out of step with the modern, fearful, social media-courting world, and all the better for it. Just take ‘The Night Chancers’ as a warning, more than an invite... (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Carla’s Got A Boyfriend’ 69
You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere (Fat Possum)
MILK TEETH Milk Teeth
(Music For Nations)
The road to The Districts’ fourth hasn’t been smooth. Shattered after years of touring following 2017’s ‘Popular Maniuplations’, and with frontman Rob Grote facing personal difficulties, their future was uncertain, but out of the darkness comes ‘You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere’. An atmospheric record formed around the theme of escapism, the album sees The Districts experimenting outside of their former indie-rock confines, creating expansive soundscapes, and incorporating more samples and ambient sounds than before. Opener ‘My Only Ghost’ sets the tone with a mesmerising melody creating a haunting introduction to the album’s new sonic reaches. Leading into the record’s undisputed standout, ‘Hey Jo’ channels Arcade Fire and Sundara Karma-esque musicality with swelling chords and an anthemic chorus driven by Rob’s falsetto, with a made-to-be yelled “fuck my head” climax.An exciting glimpse at where they’re heading next, The Districts are here for keeps and we’re glad. (Elly Watson) LISTEN: ‘Hey Jo’
It’s been a while, but Gloucestershire now-trio Milk Teeth have followed 2016’s much-praised debut ‘Vile Child’ with a beast of a self-titled second. Opener ‘Given Up’ is intense, to the point and anthemic, ‘Single Destroyer’ is melodic and twisted, as confident as it is heavy, and the unforgivinglydriven ‘Transparent’ pushes and pushes to the point of near-collapse. The chaos - here in pleasing abundance, of course - is now balanced with a softer side to the band, with ‘Smoke’ and ‘Medicine’ both more optimistic and relaxed than we’ve come to expect. Sonically, ‘Milk Teeth’ is darker and moodier, with an untethered edge that adds weight. Despite several line-up changes, there’s not the faintest sight of the infamous second album syndrome here: Milk Teeth have never sounded stronger, and show no signs of slowing down. (Martin Toussaint) LISTEN: ‘Transparent’
Vocalist Becky Blomfield spills on the records Milk Teeth were spinning while writing and recording.
Most of what you read on this record will make reference to Disq’s tender years, but in this case, the fact that the Madison, WI five-piece are barely out of their teens feels like less of a talking point and more of an integral part of the record’s story. ‘Collector’ is a chronicle of teen life in middle America so sharply observed that you could cut yourself on it, opening with a simmering kick out against day-to-day monotony (‘Daily Routine’) and finding poetry in the pedestrian throughout. There’s the charming ‘D19’ - a woozy love song about a microphone that might be the best paean to an inanimate object since ‘Ode to Viceroy’ - and then there’s moody near-shoegaze on ‘Gentle’ and the doomy ‘I Wanna Die’. With lyrics that simmer with self-awareness serving as the record’s backbone, the obvious points of comparison are Parquet Courts and Car Seat Headrest, but the idiosyncrasies that make ‘Collector’ tick feel as if they’re all Disq’s own, from the subtle subversions of rock tropes to the wry-beyond-their-years witticisms at every turn. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘I Wanna Die’
Uneasy Laughter (Sub Pop)
Moaning’s 2018 self-titled debut album made impressive use of lush, overdriven, My Bloody Valentineesque guitars. The band have rowed back on that tendency on this second effort ‘Uneasy Laughter’, but with debatable results. They attribute their decision partly to frontman Sean Solomon’s newfound sobriety, and reading about the limitations of masculinity while the album was being written. The record is dominated by synths, although given that songs on ‘Moaning’ like ‘Artificial’ and ‘Close’ also made less notable use of the instrument, that doesn’t represent as much of an about-turn as the idea might suggest. The songs here mostly lack the sonic power and impact of those on its predecessor, but they do accomplish the not inconsiderable task of making Sean’s angular guitars sit alongside Pascal Stevenson’s synths congruously on tracks like ‘Ego’ and ‘Keep Out’. Post-punk bands of various eras have transitioned to new wave over the course of three or four albums, but Moaning have done that with just two. (Greg Hyde) LISTEN: ‘Coincidence or Fate’ 70
Jay Som - Everybody Works Jay Som’s discordant guitar lead lines were a big inspiration. This is an album we have played in the van a bunch and share a love for. Placebo - Sleeping With Ghosts Lyrically this had an impact on me from a young age and definitely inspired more abstract lyrics in ‘Medicine’ on the record. I wrote ‘Sharks’ initially on the piano much like ‘Centrefolds’, the last track on ‘Sleeping With Ghosts’. I love the melancholy in Brian’s melodies and his choice of words. Bully - Feels Like This record was the key reference point for production. We wanted it to be mixed as minimally as possible and really showcase how we sound as a three-piece without lots of of effects and tweaks. I know that Alicia has engineered their work before and I love her arrangements.
CAROLINE ROSE Superstar
Snapshot of a Beginner
With her early beginnings in guitartwanging country, Caroline Rose began laying the groundwork for an alt-pop crossover with 2018’s ‘Loner’. Tackling misogyny and other woes with candour and humour, it was a sleeper hit - a sign that her talents could cross over to the sort of radio play that didn’t require Stetsons and a cowboy hat. Fast forward a year, and although ‘Superstar’ certainly reaches for the stars in its slick production, her wit doesn’t sparkle as strongly, and its theme of an awkward outsider trying to chase success feels a little too close to home: ‘Do You think We’ll Last Forever’ and ‘Freak Like Me’ hum along pleasantly, but don’t linger long in the memory. Where she does succeed is with ‘Feel The Way I Want’, channelling the self-love of Lizzo and Paramore’s ‘80s pop to create something special, toeing the line of narcissism and irony perfectly. The only time she sounds truly in on her own joke, it proves that her ascent to superstardom isn’t impossible - it just might take a little longer than planned. (Jenessa Williams) LISTEN: ‘Feel The Way I Want’
Aaron Maine has always teetered on the cusp of greatness as Porches since his 2013 debut ‘Slow Dance In The Cosmos’, but is yet to execute his masterstroke - a stalemate which continues with ‘Ricky Music’. While this collection is his slickest, most watertight LP, it does little to push his sound or songwriting forward. Now that the hankering for ‘80s aesthetics has come and gone, the genre feels a little tired but continues to be an era he’s smitten with. The twangy bass of ‘Lipstick Song’ sounds like a distant cousin of the Twin Peaks theme, while the icy pads that sustain ‘Do U Wanna’ feel overly familiar. Standout ‘Patience’ blooms beautifully as wails of guitar bends and swampy bass tensen the instrumental, and even though ‘I Wanna Ride’ also retreads familiar ground, it still holds you victim to the throes of a head-bobbing groove. Whether Aaron will uncover his stride within the trappings of synth pop remains to be seen - for the time being though, ‘Ricky Music’ makes for a safe addition to the Porches catalogue. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘Patience’
Through all the stylistic twists and turns Nap Eyes have taken, there’s been one constant, which is that almost every song they write is whittled into shape from freeform pieces by frontman Nigel Chapman, which usually run to twenty minutes in length. It’s an unusual approach, but his adherence to it suggests an imperviousness to the world around him, one that has allowed the Nova Scotians to proceed at their own pace. Nigel allows himself to wander thematically, which is how he finds room for everything from character studies of Mark Zuckerberg on the song of the same name to downcast self-admonishment in the shape of ‘Fool Thinking Ways’. Despite that, there’s a musical consistency throughout that centres around a woozy blend of guitar and synth. And crucially, when the breezier moments do arrive, they dovetail smoothly - the twinkly ‘Real Thoughts’ is straight from the Real Estate playbook, while ‘If You Were in Prison’ and ‘Though I Wish I Could’ are closer to early Walkmen. Another smartly-crafted step forward. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Real Thoughts’
HALLOWEENS Morning Kiss at the Acropolis (Super Easy)
To the casual critic, The Vaccines might appear a Varsity-jacketed bunch of indie purists, but in reality Justin Young’s songwriting has always come delivered with a large knowing wink. Bountiful proof of this playfulness now comes in the form of Halloweens - Justin and keyboard player Tim Lanham’s side project - and their swoonsome, nostalgia-ridden debut: essentially an excuse for the singer to play twinkle-eyed charmer and throw out as many one-liners as possible. “I’ve thought about death every day of my life / Guess I’ll think about life when I’m dying,” he croons on Randy Newman-esque highlight ‘Ur Kinda Man’, while on the synth-lounge of ‘Pizza Shop By Poison Beret’ he declares “We DJed at the pizza shop / But no-one ordered rock’n’roll with pineapple on top”. It’s purposefully cheeky, and offered up in a package that’s more ‘working men’s club compere’ than chin-stroking artiste, but crucially it’s also genuinely good; ‘Lady’ could sit alongside anything off Alex Turner’s ‘Submarine’ EP while ‘Rock Bottom Rock’ is pure wide-eyed schmaltzy goodness. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Ur Kinda Man’ 71
CATHOLIC ACTION Celebrated By Strangers (Modern Sky)
The film critic Mark Kermode is of the opinion that there’s usually an inversely proportional relationship between how much fun it was to make a movie and how good it usually ends up being. That’s a maxim that springs to mind with bands like Catholic Action, who place a sense of fun at the centre of their signature blend of guitar-pop and, accordingly, have to grapple with the issue of ensuring that the good laugh they’re clearly having is something that the audience are in on, too. There’s the occasional flicker of doubt about that here - is the giddy chorus of “la la la” that closes ‘One of Us’ a bit too much? Is naming a protest song ‘People Don’t Protest Enough’ a little too arch? - but in truth, the Glaswegian four-piece largely carry off the delicate balance between silliness and substance well throughout ‘Celebrated by Strangers’. Frontman Chris McCrory has talked about nodding to arty forebears like Brian Eno and Talking Heads but in truth, it’s a more recent predecessor in the form of Franz Ferdinand at their most flamboyant that you’re put in mind of. That political issues are still touched upon with the requisite weight mental health and Scottish independence among them - is further evidence that Catholic Action have tapped into a special vein of form here. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘And It Shows’
Following 2016’s ‘Three’, Phantogram´s fourth LP further solidifies their near-pole position as one of New York’s leading contemporary electronic exports. ‘Ceremony’ beautifully merges themes of both catastrophe and optimism, such as the opening line of ‘Pedestal’ - “You could make a hospital lovely”, while ‘Into Happiness’ hits hard, with huge drums and confident melodies that deftly create a sense of uncertainty, and ‘Let Me Down’ grooves urgently. ‘Glowing’, an unmistakable highlight, dives headfirst into a more fragile territory - almost painfully human. The duo have well established their trademark sound, and sonically ‘Ceremony’ pushes this to new extremes - the synths are darker, the drums are heavier, the vocals more melancholic than anything fans would have previously heard from them, yet still catchy as hell. (Martin Toussaint) LISTEN: ‘Glowing’
DEAP LIPS Deap Lips (Cooking Vinyl)
It’s a wonderful thing when something is greater than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, Deap Lips - the pairing of power-grunge riff queens Deap Vally and veteran weirdos The Flaming Lips - isn’t one of these such occasions. The supergroup’s self-titled record might feature the dirty rock of the former and the latter’s penchant for synth-led tangents, but by each party’s style rubbing off on the other, they’ve also sanded them down: Lindsay Troy’s growl may sound eerily similar to Alison Mosshart when more melodic (‘Love Is Mind Control’) but we’re treated to little of her howl. That said, the middle one-two of the twisted ‘60s pop of ‘Hope Hell High’ and the Joan Jett playground clap-backery that is ‘Motherfuckers Got To Go’ brings to mind a mutant biker girl group, which is no bad thing. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘Hope Hell High’
BACK TO THE With Q2: Who is ‘Yr Old Dad’?
Q3: What does ‘Grange Hell’ look like?
Q1: Where did you record the album?
Q4: As ‘People Don’t Protest Enough’, what do Catholic Action look like when protesting?
A NEW T E C H N I CO LO U R M U LT I - A R T S B A R & C LU B
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FRI 3 RD A PR CH I N C H I L L A TUE 7 TH A PR TIN YM AN WE D 8 TH A PR SIAM ES WE D 15 TH A PR LOU PH E L PS FRI 17 TH A PR L ATI R TUE 21 ST A PR B L AN K S W E D 22 N D A PR B E G OOD TH U 23 RD A PR NOVA T W I N S
THU 26 TH MAR KLA N GSTO F SAT 25 TH APR M A DISO N M CFE RRI N TUE 28 TH APR TAâ€™SHA N THU 30 TH APR ALFIE N EA L E
C O L O U R S H OX TO N C O LO U R S H OX TO N . C O M 2- 4 H OX T O N S Q UA R E 73
Missed the boat on some the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
The pop-metal clash we didn’t know we needed, this one has barely been off the office stereo since its release.
SLØTFACE Sorry For The Late Reply
Better late than never as the Norwegian rabble return with a more confident second outing.
MURA MASA R.Y.C
With the banger of 2k19 in ‘Deal Wiv It’ and top collabs with Clairo and Ellie Rowsell to boot, Alex Crossan’s sideways step is also one upwards.
This double LP arrives just under a year since Circa Waves’ third effort ‘What’s It Like Over There?’ - but here, quantity overthrows quality. ‘Jacqueline’, the love interest of the opener who “don’t care for cliches” should really steer clear of the remaining 40 minutes. It’s pretty hard to move for the constant recalling of triedand-tested references - life being like a movie, drunken escapades and resolving all your problems by moving to America. And just when the lyrics get a little bit more interesting on ‘Sympathy’, the verse disperses into a predictable Lewis Capaldi-style chorus. There’s a distinct lack of any artistic motivation behind the decision to split the album in two (‘Happy’ & ‘Sad’) besides the fact that double LPs are a trend. Circa Waves continue to hold a charm but to sustain they need to start blazing trails not already worn in by their peers. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘Love You More’
Following the success of last year’s synth-fuelled ‘Groove Denied’ in shifting his sound away from the ‘90s slacker rock he pioneered, ‘Traditional Techniques’ sees Stephen Malkmus take a different route into leftfield. Armed with all things acoustic, he’s created eleven tracks of what only can be described as world-weary, psych-folk hummers. While the album isn’t perfect, it does manage to execute his plan to perfection.‘Xian Man’ and ‘Shadowbanned’ are distinctly Pavement-esque in structure, but somehow manage to wash away the last remnants of slackerdom with a potent combo of wadaiko thumps and twisted twelve-string strums. It’s taken him the best part of 20 years, but with ‘Traditional Techniques’ Stephen Malkmus has finally come up with the blueprint for slacker escape. (Jack Doherty) LISTEN: ‘Xian Man’
JAMES RIGHTON The Performer (DEEWEE)
From Atlantis to…Cocktail Hour? James Righton’s latest incarnation may be a million airmiles away from the neon glow of Klaxons, but it’s a look that suits him well - a reflection on the rightly-bizarre nature of playing pop star one moment and fathering a family the next. Patrons of the Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino will be pleased by the retro lounge influences of ‘The Performer’ - ‘Edie’, named for his daughter, is a 70s stomper with collar firmly popped, while ‘Lessons In Dreamland’ (Parts 1 and 2) waft around as if sporting an elegant kaftan, martini dripping carelessly from the hand onto a shag pile of guitars. The life of the party however, is ‘Devil Is Loose’, whose dreamy wiggery owes more than a little to the stylings of Tame Impala. A potent mix of influences, it manages to sound equally focused and effortless - the work of a true performer. (Jenessa Williams) LISTEN: ‘Edie’
MARGARET GLASPY Devotion (ATO)
On the follow-up to 2016 debut ‘Emotions and Math’, Margaret Glaspy trades in her fiddle stylings for more expansive, synth-based material. Save for her distinct, crisp vocals, Margaret takes a quantum leap into unfamiliar territory of electronic music and synthesisers. ‘Devotion’ explores themes of romance, but it’s less to do with a tangible, solid figure and more about her ideas, emotions, questions and feelings about love itself. On opener ‘Killing What Keeps Us Alive,’ the haunting, soft synths complement her voice, and across the record, they work as mood-shifts and emotional changes - enabling her longing in ‘Without Him’ and trying to recapture the sentiments of first romance in ‘Young Love’. Margaret still sounds the most at home with her string instruments, but her foray into experimenting with electronic music has paid off. (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘Without Him’
Cha Cha Palace
B-sides The Point
High Risk Behaviour (Bargain Bin / Cooking Vinyl Australia)
The second album from the Virginia-based singersongwriter, ‘Cha Cha Palace’ sees Angelica Garcia attempt to mash together alt-pop and electro-beats with a Mexican twist. Her multicultural background and years of travelling come over strongly across the record; while tracks like ‘Lucifer’ carry a more American alt-pop sound, tracks such as ‘La Enorme Distance’ reflects her Mexican heritage, its haunting vocals providing a surprisingly refreshing mid-album breather to prepare for the chaos of subsequent track, and lead single, ‘Guadalupe’. Her vocals definitely sound best with softer instrumentation, as on ‘Valentina’, where the soft guitar provides a contrastingly calm backing to emotive lyrics and layered harmonies. (Bella Fleming) LISTEN: ‘Valentina’
Ostensibly a collection of offcuts from 2018 album ‘Fixed Ideals’, Muncie Girls’ surprise release ‘B-Sides The Point’ is far from bargain bin fodder. Opener ‘Blankets’ might have been a college rock anthem if it were released in the ‘90s, singer Lande Hekt lilting through a chorus of clattering guitars and bustling drums. She belts out a real call to arms later, on mini-album closer ‘Take Steps’. “Working out a plan, always trying to understand, never wanted anything other than to play in bands,” she sings. It’s a near-perfect blast of ‘90s poppunk, packed to the brim with riffs and teenage angst. Should American teen movies fall back into fashion any time soon, there’s a soundtrack here ready for it. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Take Steps’
The Chats may have started as a joke, the group’s breakout track ‘Smoko’ dripping in Aussie humour in a way not unlike hard-hitting compatriots Amyl & The Sniffers, but ‘High Risk Behaviour’ has them showing off a far more polished sound than rough-aroundthe-edges 2017 release ‘Get This In Ya’ while keeping the Antipodean charm that’s been their calling card. “Chicken schnitty, parmigiana, rump steak,” goes the verse of ‘Pub Feed’, while ‘Drunk and Disorderly’ uses clashing guitars and agitated drums to narrate a big night out. ‘High Risk Behaviour’ is a record that’s bound to solidify The Chats’ name as a truly unique proposition. (Bella Fleming) LISTEN: ‘Drunk and Disorderly’
COMING UP:COMING UP:COMING UP:COMING THE STROKES The New Abnormal If we said DIY HQ wasn’t a sea of screams when this one got announced, our pants would be aflame. Get excited, the New Yorkers’ sixth will be out 10th April.
It Is What It Is Returning as idiosyncratic as ever, his fourth album will be released 3rd April.
DUA LIPA BRENDAN BENSON
Dear Life The Raconteur will release his first solo album in seven years on 24th April.
Future Nostalgia Just HOW many total bangers can this one possibly feature? Out 3rd April.
ING UP:COMING UP:COMING UP:COMING UP 75
I BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB Alexandra Palace, London. Photos: Tim Easton.
THE BIG MOON
rabid enthusiasm. It’s fair to say that, t takes until about the midpoint of aside from the jangly lead single, their The Big Moon’s support act slot fifth studio album is overall a quieter in the cavernous manse of Ally affair; even when transposed to a Pally to really show just how sold live environment, some of the tracks out tonight is, when the band pull don’t always gain a lot in the way of out a surprising cover of Fatboy dynamism. When Jack tries to get a Slim’s ‘Praise You’. The familiar, joyful venue singalong going with ‘I Worry stomp of that iconic piano riff being About You’, stressing that given a fully live guitar band “it’s only four words” we makeover, plus the quartet’s WHAT YOU need to repeat, it gets a airy vocals, proves too much THOUGHT similarly uneven response of a draw for anyone milling (though the series of sporein the hall beyond, chowing like explosions from the down on an overpriced stage as it ends are kind of burger or burrito, and the fun and briefly pull focus). crowd comes flooding in. Even without that secret Where BBC succeed weapon in their stash, their without a doubt tonight own material stands up on ANGELICA, VERMONT, aside from the superlative its own merits, particularly USA / sound levels; no mean in a venue of this size. LONDON feat by the way, in such ‘Don’t Think’ is a storming, There was such a large venue - is in airing portentous opener, heavy high energy at out the best of their back and harmonious, bringing the gig and you catalogue with the help of to mind Ladyhawke in her could really feel some incredible supporting late ‘00s heyday, while it in the crowd players. As they did with a delicious slow-tempo and just how touring for ‘So Long, See slab of plinky-plonky pop excited everyone was to be here. You Tomorrow’ in 2014, the comes in the form of ‘Why’ presence of a live three- the song equivalent of pink piece brass section adds lemonade. The foursome oomph and depth and, at genuinely look like they’re times, a party atmosphere. having fun onstage and it’s It’s a winning addition reflected well in the sound. to ‘Feel’, with its lissom There are sweet melodies Old Bollywood-sampling, and ethereal synths but snake-charming hook, also a palpable edge and EMILY, SOUTHENDand a sprightly extra to disaffection present, heard ON-SEA beloved mainstay ‘Always best in ‘Your Light’, which I thought they Like This’. ‘How Can You has lead singer Juliette were great! I Swallow So Much Sleep’ Jackson belting out the was so glad is achingly poignant and memorable line, “Now to see them robust, while ‘Lamplight’ we just hang around like again, and really charms with its slo-mo funk a haircut growing out”. enjoyed hearing nestled between squealing the classics as guitar riffs. Elsewhere, Sharing a similar stylistic well as songs off early-career cuts like the blueprint of quiet/loud, the new album. frantic ‘Evening/Morning’ heavy/light, when Bombay and ‘Cancel On Me’ get the Bicycle Club take the stage most visceral response. By about 30 minutes later, the end of their set however the 10,000-ish crowd is and into the encore, it thoroughly warmed up and seems like most of the ready to go – at first, anyway. crowd is happily singing There’s an excited flurry of OMENA, along to the new album’s recognition at setlist opener STRATFORD title track and mid-tempo ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing This is my first groover, ‘Everything Else But You)’ and straight off it’s time seeing Has Gone Wrong’. As for the noticeable that the sound them – I heard gig? Luckily, nothing has is impeccable: its sublime them through gone wrong. But tonight guitar bends are crisp and Spotify; they the power of nostalgia has clear, and the warmth of the [the band] definitely won out over the song doesn’t get sacrificed invited me to thrill of the new and has for sonic clarity, while Jack listen to the new album before done the heavy lifting. And Steadman’s vocals soar it was out and if Bombay Bicycle Club do above, never weighed down I’m really, really notice, then at least they by the sound. However, the impressed with leave the stage well assured general reception towards how they are that regardless, everyone tracks from their new album live. Never seen is so happy they’re back. can be summed up as anything like (Shefali Srivastava) ‘polite interest’ rather than them before.
DEMOB HAPPY The Tin Music & Arts, Coventry, as part of the DIY Presents Independent Venue Week tour, in association with Jack Daniel’s. Photos: Emma Swann.
f a band’s chosen entry music can be judged as a marker of their intent, then at Coventry’s teeny, packed Tin at The Coal Vaults tonight, Demob Happy are aiming to turn the underground Midlands haunt into a teeming, inter-dimensional portal. Dramatic crescendoes set the scene as the Brighton trio take to a stage clearly far too small to house their increasingly mammoth sound, but the relative intimacy of tonight’s - and this week’s - shows is for a good reason. This short, five-date run is both a toe-dip into 2020’s exciting waters and a throwback to the places where the band cut their teeth.
We first catch up with them the previous night, when they turn Exeter’s Cavern into a seething mass of sweaty, flailing bodies. Though there are nods to days gone by littered into the set – a growling, deliciously grotty ‘Succubus’ here, the swaggering, off-kilter swing of ‘Junk DNA’ there – the conditions the band are throwing them out to are far different than back in 2015. Having spent the bulk of last year in the tour bus, chugging around the USA and Europe in support of Royal Blood, The Amazons, Frank Carter and some guy called Jack White, these days Demob Happy are a well-oiled machine, one capable of sounding simultaneously loose and hot under the collar, and meticulously tight and locked in at the same time; the hungry crowd who sing the set back to them clearly agree. It’s recent single ‘Autoportrait”s heavy, needling riff that tips the evening over the edge into a full-on mosh, and, promisingly, at both venues it’s the band’s newest material that lands the hardest. ‘Less Is More’ opens with glammy call and response guitars before squelching into the saucy
midpoint between T-Rex and Queens of the Stone Age, while ‘Mother Machine’ boasts a stadium-sized crescendo and threepart harmonies that another hairy male pop trio past would be proud of. “We’re gonna play a couple of new songs now because we want to, and you’re going to like them cos they’re good,” declares singer Matt Marcantonio in Coventry, before deploying a one-two move that suggests the band are adding some lighter sparkle to their arsenal. Though, like Josh Homme and his merry men, Demob have always trod the line between masculine and feminine, embracing Lennon-esque vocal coos and accessible melody beneath the meatier moments, they’ve always still been a heavy band. The first newie - a sleazy beast that begins with a taught high-end riff that goes straight for the groin courtesy of guitarist Adam Godfrey that goes straight for the groin – continues down this dual path, but it’s in the second track, an unusually chipper, Bowie-inflected pop nugget, that you get a sense of the new territory that could find its way onto LP3. They end the night, the tour and, indeed, Independent Venue Week as a whole (it’s the last gig of the entire event) with live favourite ‘Be Your Man’ and the sense that, having slogged away in venues much like these for years, justice is finally being done and all the hard work is paying off. Onward and upwards. (Lisa Wright)
While on the road, we had a quick natter with frontman Matt Marcantonio. Interview: Lisa Wright.
What have been your highlights of the tour? We’d never been to Swansea or Exeter, and we’d never headlined in Bournemouth, so it’s been cool to go to those places and for people to actually be there. We were confident, but you just don’t know - there might have been a black hole of love for heavy rock music in Swansea! You just never know! Why did you want to get involved with Independent Venue Week? The first venue I ever played in Newcastle shut down, and one of the main venues that we played almost every week in Brighton for a couple of years has shut down, and it’s the same everywhere. I don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t have those places. There used to be a venue in Brighton called Sticky Mike’s, and we’d play a night called Late Night Lingerie which would go on until 3am. We’d do the
graveyard shift at 2am and try out new songs; it was great. If we’d never had that opportunity we probably wouldn’t have even got to this point. I have faith that people will always need an outlet for this, but we need to value what we have.
Tell us a bit about the new songs you’ve been playing... One of them has a real Bowie vibe - that one’s got a working title of ‘Are You Thinking?’ but I’ll probably come up with a sexier name for it later - and the reaction’s been great. I didn’t think people would quite accept them as they have because they are a bit groovier and softer and more melodic, but people seem to like it. How’s the new album looking so far? It’s gonna be an album of a few different halves, which is impossible, so maybe a few quarters. We’re writing some very heavy stuff, but at the same time some ‘Jean Genie’-style pop songs, and then also some Queen-esque, majestic soaring songs, and some synthy electro ballads.
BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD
Village Underground, London. Photo: Patrick Gunning.
ven with only two songs out, Black Country, New Road have built up a sizeable reputation, and tonight, playing to a packed Village Underground feels like a true moment of arrival. They mark the occasion by blasting Styx’s ‘Come Sail Away’ as they take up their positions on stage, then a brief fade to silence, a calm count-in and as one they launch into their first extended free-form sonic exploration of the night. An instrumental bop with plenty of groove, the confidence oozes immediately from all of them. Shifting into ‘Athen’s, France’ second, we get to hear Isaac Woods’ distinctive voice for the first time, moving from menacing grumble to faux-religious howl as he sings about “sourdough, my daily bread”. For those that have already played their scant singles to death, it is the airing of new material is most tantalising. While BC,NR often reach a deliciously cavorting din, Isaac’s voice rumbles out across the more serene moments, and his words always offer something to cling onto. Whether he’s singing about micro-influencers or seeing someone undress at Cirque du Soleil, it is compelling. The nine-minute spectacle of anguished and skronking glory that is ‘Sunglasses’ has no problem in toppling the room, but any notion that this would be the closer is quickly brushed aside. Black Country, New Road then spend the next 20-30 minutes playing in one unbroken stretch - whether this is one song or several strung together will be revealed when they officially release an album, but for now it’s tempting to believe that they have constructed a multi-part post-rock behemoth. There’s plenty of their usual post-punk prowess, but also moments that see sax and violin combine in a chanson-like slice of classic romantic sweetness, other periods of ascendant atmospheric rock like Pacific northwest emo, and a stretch where Isaac expounds on a lengthy fever dream about Charli XCX finding him on a train to express her admiration for his writing. By the end of this mammoth effort there are hugs all round, and a feeling like this was more than just another gig. This was certainly true among the audience, who feel just as drained after that finale, but leave discussing all the nuggets of imagery from Isaac’s mind and savouring the scorching force of Black Country, New Road in full pomp. (Rob Hakimian) 79
ANGEL OLSEN Hammersmith Apollo, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
athed in pink light, Angel Olsen is a shamanic presence as she takes to the stage. Vulnerable yet undeniably magnetic, Angel drips charisma as she enters the stage and treats her audience with a bewitching rendition of ‘New Love Cassette’ from last year’s ‘All Mirrors’. Sonically gravitating towards the likes of Nick Cave, Lykke Li and PJ Harvey, her musicianship is nothing short of brilliant throughout her 90-minute-long set. However, it soon becomes very obvious that something is missing. For the past six years, Angel’s star has been on a constant rise. Both transcendental and transparent with her astonishingly-honest lyricism, she’s shaken up the surfeited souls around with refreshing candour. However, tonight this sense of transparency is lost in her theatrics; her stage presence is best described as soulless soulfulness. Her words echo with nothingness as she attempts to engage the audience with stage chat that comes off as smug. The profound impact of her lyricism fades into the background as her attempts of deadpan comedy continue to fail throughout her set. This becomes particularly evident during ‘Shut Up, Kiss Me’ when the crowd is left muttering in silence rather than bursting into a collective singalong. Fortunately there are moments of breathtaking beauty that remind us of her utmost brilliance. During ‘Windows’, she’s at her most confessional. “We must throw our shadows down,” she advises, guiding us out of the darkness and towards the light. This is the Angel Olsen we know and love. Musically perfect yet lacking with soul, Olsen’s London show is an enigma leaving us lukewarm and in limbo with our emotions. (Kasimiira Kontio)
GLASS ANIMALS Village Underground, London. Photo: Sharon Lopez.
onight is a celebratory return. Glass Animals drummer Joe Seaward’s freak accident placed the Oxford group at something of a standstill - four years have now passed since the release of ‘How To Be A Human Being’ - but now work seems to be well underway on its follow up. “This is extra special because I only live down the road,” singer Dave Bayley says at one point. “It’s where we’re recording the next album...maybe this week.” ‘Tokyo Drifting’, tonight’s opener, is the first glimpse of what the group has in store. The track, which finds Dave adopting a rapper’s cadence around a frantic sample, is greeted instantly like an old favourite. ‘Life Itself’ quickly follows with its blissful chorus in tow setting the audience alight with an atmosphere you’d typically find at a Friday evening festival set. Dave’s contorting figure casts a wild silhouette as the group unleash ‘Hazey’ and ‘The Other Side Of Paradise’. He even pops up at the back of the crowd under the shade of a palm tree to sing the cool, infectious bars of ‘Gooey’. Later, two unreleased new songs are debuted to a rapturous reception - ‘Tangerine’ builds atop a smooth, shifting chord sequence, while ‘Your Love (Deja Vu)’ shimmies around a chirruping medieval synth line. The performance continues to emit a tangible energy as the fourpiece rattle through ‘Season 2 Episode 3’, ‘Youth’ and a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’. It feels as if this short run of shows is the euphoric release of band and fans alike after years of being cooped up in the shadows. “It’s incredible to be playing again, see you soon,” Dave beams, sounding a little overwhelmed before closing with the psych-surrealism of ‘Pork Soda’. 2020 finds the four-piece in regenerated spirits and judging by the sheer quality of their new songs, it seems like Glass Animals are on to something very special indeed. (Sean Kerwick)
TORRES Silver Tongue
Little Scream Speed Queen
David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights Bobbie’s a girl
Redd Kross Beyond the Door
Waxahatchee Saint Cloud Out March 27
New albums from Merge Records
Far Enough Out March 27
More from Merge: Mikal Cronin Seeker | A Giant Dog Neon Bible | Joyero Release the Dogs Hiss Golden Messenger Terms of Surrender | Fruit Bats Gold Past Life Imperial Teen Now We Are Timeless | Gauche A People’s History of Gauche mergerecords.com | Available wherever records are sold 81
IT’S YOUR ROUND A big inter-band pub quiz of sorts, we’ll be grilling your faves one by one.
THIS MONTH: TALK SHOW Location: St James of Bermondsey, London. Drink: Beavertown Neck Oil, £5.90 (“fucking well expensive”).
McDonald’s 1. What time do McDonald’s stop serving breakfast? Chloe: Half past 10. George: No, it’s gone up to 11 now. Chloe: No, it’s half past 10. Harrison: I’m backing Chloe’s conviction. Half past 10. It’s 11. All: [laugh] 2. What is the fabled function of the gherkin in a Big Mac? George: To stop it being a cake. It might be an old wives’ tale, but this is the rumour. 3. How much would a large Filet O’Fish meal and a McFlurry set you back? George: It depends where you are. [lots of complicated maths] Chloe: £6.90? It’s £6.28 by our working out, so
FINAL SCORE: 82
we’ll give you half for that. 4. In India, they developed a Maharaja Mac as a substitute for the Big Mac. What is the main difference? Harrison: No beef. Correct, it features chicken patties instead. 5. To a thousand, how many McDonald’s restaurants are there in the world? Harrison: I know there are more McDonald’s than hospitals in the US, there’s 14,000 in America. It’s got to be close to 100k. Chloe: Shall we go 80,000? 75,000? Harrison: Yeah, let’s say 75,000. It’s 36,000.
2.5/5 2.5 /5
1. Which county cricket team plays at the Oval? Harrison: Er, Surrey? Yes. 2. What is the collective name for a group of owls? Harrison: A school. No. Chloe: [to George] you should know that. Harrison: Why would he know that? Chloe: You love birds! George: I want to say a hoot, but I don’t know. It’s a parliament. 3. Which two Japanese cities are anagrams of each other? Harrison: Tokyo and Kyoto. Yes! 4. Which British singer was born in Halifax in 1991?
Harrison: Who’s 29 and from Yorkshire? They must be really fucking famous. I want to say Harry Styles, but it’s not, he’s our age. George: I was thinking, maybe Ed Sheeran or something? Harrison: No, he’s from down south! Harrison: Is it Harry Styles? No, it is in fact Ed Sheeran. Harrison and Chloe: Whaaaat!?! 5. What is Marge Simpson’s maiden name? Harrison: Wouldn’t have a clue. Pass. It’s Bouvier.
Verdict: “If only we’d have shut our mouths and trusted George a bit more...”
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VICTORIA PARK LONDON E3
TOM WALKER GANG OF YOUTHS
JAKE BUGG GABRIELLE APLIN
+ MANY MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED
The March issue is fronted by future pop superstar Rina Sawayama, as forthcoming debut album 'SAWAYAMA' sees the singer look inside for insp...