FREE. AUGUST 2019. ISSUE 88 DIYMAG.COM SET MUSIC FREE
PLUS The Murder Capital The Big Moon The Futureheads Whitney Friendly Fires Kim Petras
t h g i r e r W“ e‘ “
SLEATER-KINNEY are taking on a fractured world and an unexpected new phase.
DIR Kirill Serebrennikov DOP Vladislav Opelyants
AUGUST 2019 Thatâ€™s our slowthai, always dicking about.
Listening Post Whatâ€™s been blasting from the DIY office this month?
ELLY WATSON â€˘ Digital Editor
When we first got our ears around the new album from Sleater-Kinney, it became instantly clear the band were dead set on making a powerful statement. Tackling the despair, hopelessness and chaos of 2k19 via the squalling but slick production of St Vincent, â€˜The Center Wonâ€™t Holdâ€™ is a ferocious, jagged declaration of war. What we didnâ€™t anticipate, however, was for the trio to shift shape so soon. Just weeks after our first interview with the band, the news that drummer Janet Weiss had left broke. This monthâ€™s cover sees us digging deep into the albumâ€™s ethos while discovering just how the infamous trio would go on to become a duo. We also celebrate the long-awaited musical return of Friendly Fires, shed a little light on Whitneyâ€™s new album, and meet Kim Petras ahead of her slot at Reading and Leeds, which weâ€™re v excited about, natch.
BROCKHAMPTONâ€™s Bearface is actually from Belfast (try saying that five times fast), so can I shortlist 1/14 of â€˜IRIDESCENCEâ€™?
Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor
Loads of DIY faves have been shortlisted for the 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize - but who would we give lucky number 13 to if we had the chance?! SARAH JAMIESON â€˘
Managing Editor Call it a curveball but Two Door Cinema Clubâ€™s â€˜False Alarmâ€™ is a real banger, just saying.
EMMA SWANN â€˘ Founding Editor Yakâ€™s â€˜Pursuit of Momentary Happinessâ€™. Unpredictable, chaotic and gnarly in all the right places, this one never fails to blow my mind.
LISA WRIGHT â€˘ Features Editor Quite surprised Fat White Familyâ€™s stillgrotty yet more dancefloor-minded latest â€˜Serfâ€™s Up!â€™ didnâ€™t get the nod. Think of the acceptance speech!Â LOUISE MASON â€˘ Art Director Self Esteemâ€™s â€˜Compliments Pleaseâ€™ should have won, to make the world a better place.
SQUID TOWN CENTRE The Brighton boysâ€™ EP sees them explore their experimental side as well as give us another smasher in â€˜The Cleanerâ€™.
LIFE - A PICTURE OF GOOD HEALTH Hullâ€™s finest lay it all out on LP2, adding emotional vulnerability to their noisy post-punk mix.
METRONOMY - METRONOMY FOREVER No spoilers, readers, but weâ€™re pleased to report that â€˜Sex Emojiâ€™ really does live up to its name.
CONTENTS NEWS 6 THE BIG MOON 12 THE FUTUREHEADS 1 6 H A L L O F FA M E 20 MERCURY PRIZE 22 FESTIVALS NEU 26 ALFIE TEMPLEMAN 28 WORKING MENâ€™S CLUB 33 ZUZU
F E AT U R E S 3 4 S L E AT E R - K I N N E Y 42 KIM PETRAS 4 6 T H E M U R D E R C A P I TA L 5 0 J AY S O M 5 2 F R I E N D LY F I R E S 56 SHURA 58 WHITNEY REVIEWS 62 ALBUMS 74 LIVE
Shout out to: Suzanne and the team at Pohoda, all at Mad Cool, The Horse Hospital, Town Hall Hotel, Espero Studios, Robbie Williams for the hits, Lisbon airport and its sardine features, the crowds at Truck for their all-encompassing love of all things indie, you get us <3.
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor Lisa Wright Digital Editor Elly Watson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Ben Tipple, Chris Taylor, E.R. Pulgar, El Hunt, Eloise Bulmer, Felix Rowe, James Bentley, Kate Lismore, Louisa Dixon, Matthew Davies Lombardi, Patrick Clarke, Rhys Thomas, Ryan Cahill, Sean Kerwick, Thomas Hobbs, Tom Sloman. Photographers Alex Knowles, Andrew Benge, Ania Shrimpton, Ben McQuaide, Ed Miles, Eva Pentel, Fiona Garden, Ian Horrocks, Jamie MacMillan, Lola Stephen, Patrick Gunning, Phil Smithies, Pooneh Ghana, Robin Pope. Cover photo: Ed Miles 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, mThe Biscuit Factory, 100 Drummond Road, London SE16 4DG
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.
Big Moon IN THE STUDIO WITH...
On their Mercury-nominated debut, The Big Moon soared to greater heights than they ever predicted. We catch up with the quartet as they prep LP2 with the stratosphere in their reach... Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Ian Horrocks.
“This is gonna sound really bad,”
begins The Big Moon bassist Celia Archer, fidgeting awkwardly in the east London cafe where we meet the band today. “But I just sort of felt like...” She pauses again, looking pained. “Like it felt... good? And right?” She’s talking about the band’s 2017 Mercury Prize nod for debut ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ - an indisputably deserved and Very Good Thing, but one that the effortlessly-endearing group still speak about, as with most of their continued achievements, with something between confusion and disbelief. “I just think Jules’ songwriting is amazing, and I think we deserved it,” she continues, still trying to justify her pride, “and I didn’t feel imposter syndrome, which I thought I would with something like that, so that was a nice feeling...” If The Big Moon, completed by singer and songwriter Juliette ‘Jules’ Jackson, guitarist Soph Nathan and drummer Fern Ford, aren’t ones naturally adept at tooting their own horns (had we a pound for every time they described recent events as “unbelievable”, we’d be buying ourselves a pretty fancy lunch), then lately they’ve thankfully had an increasing number of people taking on the task for them. Since emerging in 2015 with single ‘Sucker’, the London
quartet have become one of British indie’s most joyous, celebratory talents, signing to Fiction, racking up acrossthe-board support (including a suitably celestial DIY cover) and THAT nomination along the way - you’d think they’d be a bit more settled into the compliments by now and yet... “We spent so long on the day being like, can you double check? Are you SURE? Are you ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SURE?” laughs Celia. “Are you sure this isn’t a nomination for the nominations?!” continues Jules. “We didn’t believe it until they read our name out on the radio, and they read out our name LAST,” Celia says, shaking her head. “They did it in alphabetical order, but they used the ‘The’, so it went through the Bs and we were like...” she gasps, as the others chuckle around her.
“I just wanted to make songs that you could dance to.” Juliette Jackson
But, contrary to their fears, ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ was one of the chosen twelve; then, as 2017 came to a close, the band rounded off the touring cycle for the record with one final, sold-out hurrah at London’s KOKO. “That was one of those shows where I came off stage and thought, there is no way I can celebrate this enough - I can’t get drunk enough, I can’t hug enough people to do it justice. It’s just too much,” smiles the singer. So far, so fun, but then came the not-inconsiderable task of following up such a universally-loved opening statement and, after a couple of months of “vegetable time”, Jules sat down to the job. “On the first album, songs were just written like, let’s try and make some music! Maybe this will work, maybe it won’t, I don’t really care! Whereas now I really care about it, so I definitely heaped some pressure on myself,”
NE WS 7
she begins. “It was a slower process this time, because I just cared about it more and I felt more ambitious. I just wanted it to be bigger and better.”
hough live, and on the tracks themselves, The Big Moon are fully a gang - an eight-armed gaggle of laughing, lovable mates who you can’t help but wanna join - it’s always been Juliette holding the pen. Beginning work on LP2, the singer bedded down into full-on insular, creative mode. “I like to go away, not really wash, not really go out, just get really smelly and do it all,” she grins. “When people went on holiday, I’d go and stay in their empty house and just cane it for a week. I went to Wales for a week; I went to my little brother’s house and lived with his cat for a while. It’s funny because I remember all the songs on the album by where they were written. There’s one specific song that just makes me think about that cat, but it’s completely not about the cat...”
Instead of feline odes, she explains that, this time around, her lyrical gaze has turned outwards. “I think a lot of it is about making sense of strange times. A lot of musicians are trying to make sense of that, and there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on. You feel like, has this always been happening or have I just grown up and started noticing it happening?” she questions. “Then there’s a lot of stuff about getting older, everyone having babies and feeling a bit ARGH! Everything feels different. The last album felt so innocent, and that time feels so innocent compared to now, so it’s really about trying to make sense of all that.” Recorded in Atlanta with producer Ben Allen (Deerhunter, Animal Collective) over an intense month that saw the singer have “a couple of full-on breakdowns” (“It’s the pressure of decisions,” explains Soph. “Even if the day isn’t full on, you’re still having to make a call on something so important.
“I like to go away, not really wash, just get really smelly and do it all.” - Juliette Jackson
It’s a really big deal”), the first taster of the record - title TBA - comes in the form of slow-building recently-released track ‘It’s Easy Then’. Described as “quite a good summerupper for the rest of the album”, it gives a taster of some of the sonic traits the quartet say populate the forthcoming release. “It’s a lot more minimal with places where we’ve really held back a lot. But there’s always a pay off; at the end of the song there’s always a ‘ta da!’, otherwise what’s the point?!” says Jules. “We weren’t afraid of space in this, whereas in the first record we just filled it all,” continues Fern. “When you leave space in the music, you don’t need much to make it feel really good,” picks up the singer. “I used to write songs and think the way to make it interesting would be to have a crazy tempo change, or make it shocking, but I don’t really think that anymore. “I just wanted to make songs that you could dance to. I feel like in the last year of writing, I’ve been going out dancing more. I’m still going to gigs and seeing bands, but I find it way more exciting to just be somewhere where the speakers are really loud and there’s loads of sub bass. It’s just so much more.” If you happened to catch the band’s packed-out surprise set on Glastonbury’s opening night, you’ll have heard a few more teasers - particularly the glorious disco bop of ‘Don’t Think’, a track we described then as “probably the best song they’ve penned to date”. Missed that show? Well, you’ve got another chance to catch them when they head out on some totally nonchalant dates with a little band called Pixies next month... “Pixies are like, my favourite band,” Jules explains, eyes widening. “We wanted to make a collage for the announce [of the tour] of every time Jules has said, ‘Oh I just love the Pixies!’, ‘Pixies are my favourite band!’, ‘This song’s kind of inspired by Pixies!’” grins Celia. “We were nearly even called a Breeders song - ‘No Aloha’.” “It’s insane. I haven’t really fathomed it. I think it’s literally settling in right now...” nods Soph, as the band all look like they’ve been hit by the best bus in town. It’s another time when The Big Moon can’t quite get their heads around their own story, but needless to say, they’ll be adding plenty more exciting chapters to it very soon... DIY
SHOW ME THE PUPPY WE LOVE DOGS. YOU LOVE DOGS. HERE ARE SOME POPSTARS’ DOGS.
This month: The Japanese House and her bestie, Calvin.
On Name: Calvin Age: 2 Breed: German Shepherd Favourite things: Me, cuddling, head massages, holding paws, recycling in the park, swimming, jumping on fallen trees, din dins, Gilmore Girls. Fun fact: Calvin has his own fan account - see @calvin_is_amazing on Instagram.
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.
Big Alex, little Alex, cardboard box. (@sportsteam)
THIS MONTH: GRETA THUNBERG
16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is already a stone-cold hero. Starting the School Strike for Climate, which saw over 1.4 million students join her in protesting, fronting the cover of Time Magazine and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (!), she’s already doing her bit to fight global warming by being the coolest teen on the whole damn planet amiright? Now, however, she’s also notched up a second career as a rock star (sort of). Pressing play on the self-titled first drop from The 1975’s hugely-anticipated new album, what were we greeted with? Not Matty Healy, but the voice of Greta delivering a typically eloquent, impassioned speech to us all. A legendary move, if ever there was one.
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…
Jamie T and Fleabag’s Hot Priest watching Robbie Williams at Hyde Park; Harry Enfield in the crowd for The Good, The Bad and The Queen; Matt Maltese wandering about outside Elephant & Castle shopping centre; Felix White YALA! / ex-Maccabees emerging from a portaloo at Truck. 10 DIYMAG.COM
Demob Happy or the Hairy Bikers (+1)? (@demob_happy)
Billie Eilish: the only person Avril Lavigne will actually touch in a photo. (@billieeilish)
NE WS It’s been over half a decade since Sunderland stalwarts
The Futureheads bowed out quietly, but on new
album ‘Powers’, they’re back, bold and playing with the best of them. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photos: Andrew Benge.
owadays, when bands decide to call it a day, the decision comes loaded with a fresh schedule: farewell shows, final festival performances, just that one last chance for fans to catch a glimpse before they disappear (for a while, at least). But when Sunderland’s finest The Futureheads threw in the towel back in 2013, the quartet did so quietly, with no real final hurrah. Six years on, with new album ‘Powers’ in tow, it turns out they’ve not been twiddling their thumbs. Even in the past 24 hours, vocalist Barry Hyde - who in the interim has trained as a chef, become a music teacher, released a solo album and earned himself an MA - has “performed a song with 500 children, performed a song with a choir of people with dementia, compered an event and then in the evening, I judged a songwriting competition and did a speech in front of about 500 people. Then I performed at the Sunderland Empire. It was class!” Right then. With the remaining members having established themselves in other fields of expertise - “We’ve been busy boys!” confirms co-vocalist Ross Millard - one of the first challenges when it came to their return was actually getting them in the same room; an
opportunity which arose when a local promoter took over Sunderland record store Pop Recs Ltd to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album. “You and I had been on the phone to each other,” nods Ross to his bandmate, “just having a general chat, and we got onto what the likelihood of [the band reuniting] might be. It was brought home a lot more when the four of us got together for that strange little moment where this guy ran an event to celebrate our first album. That sort of thing doesn’t happen too often.” What was paramount to the group, however, was creating new music. As a band who felt so electrifying and forward-thinking when they first emerged, not relying on past success was key to their decision to return. But, now all with various other careers on the go, The Futureheads in 2019 is a totally different prospect. “I think we’ve got the best of both worlds at this point,” ponders Barry. “Sometimes I wonder what it would’ve been like if, during our time as The Futureheads, we had maintained some kind of foot in the door of reality. Actually, I find I’m far better at writing songs when I’m a genuine part of society, rather than a bohemian think freak who’s playing jazz guitar late at night. “Being creative, it works best when you’re distracted,” he continues. “I remember having this definite moment when we were professional; we were on tour in America and I felt obligated to sit on the tour bus by myself with an acoustic guitar, to try and write some songs. It was like, this is crap. I felt depressed by the notion that it was a job. So, you’ve got to get that balance right, and I feel like the energy, the ideas and the enthusiasm on this album are a direct result of us doing this in our spare time.” And, though the two frontmen may be old hats at the job, the recording process wasn’t without its apprehensions. “Something that we’ve never done before - and I don’t think we would do again - is we left all of the lyric writing until the very end,” reveals Barry. “Don’t you think we were quite shy to sing, Ross?” “I think because lyrics make up the identity of the whole album, and therefore what the band is gonna be about for this period of time, we were sort of hesitant to put out there what we wanted this episode of our existence to be about,” Ross picks up. “That’s very personal, isn’t it? You’ve got five years of perspective to try and distill into a handful of songs.”
The result sees The Futureheads stand
And those five years have thrown up all sorts of inspiration. From the challenges of dealing with mental illness - a struggle Barry himself has been very open about - to the quiet contentment of beginning a family, ‘Powers’ is a record which sears with personal honesty. It’s via the charged march of ‘Across The Border’, though, that the North East band find themselves facing politics square in the eye, with the issue of their city’s relationship with Brexit becoming the main focus. “I know that very little is understood about what Brexit really is,” Barry sighs. “You can’t ignore it,” adds Ross. “It’s no longer an elephant in the room and for us, the fact that Sunderland became this sort of flagship city that seems to embody ignorance, it’s really disappointing, because it’s just not the reality.”
once again as one of indie’s finest prospects, and while a lot may have changed since their last album - the a cappella curveball of 2012’s ‘Rant’ - was released, they feel just as vital as ever. “I think, as artists, if you start thinking about winning a battle about whether you’re relevant or not, it’s a fight you can’t really win,” says Ross. “The audience decides; the rest of the world make their mind up. For us, it was about getting back together, really enjoying the fact we were making music and enjoying each other’s company. But in terms of what the album goes on to mean? We don’t really get to decide that. We just have to master our form and decide what we want to be as a band, what our identity and intentions are, and hopefully we’ve made an album that best represents that.” ‘Powers’ is out 30th August via Nul Records. DIY
Safe & Sound
DIY is teaming up with War Child for their new series of events, featuring Sundara Karma and Stefflon Don.
ollowing on from last year’s launch, War Child’s Safe & Sound will this year take place place at EartH in Hackney. It will see Sundara Karma headlining on 28th September, before Stefflon Don closes proceedings on 4th September. The event aims to “raise awareness of the importance of mental health for young people and the psychosocial needs for children in war, alongside highlighting the mental health needs for those in the music industry.” We’ll also be joining forces with Chess Club to bring you an evening of indie’s finest at Sundara Karma’s show, with support coming from newbies Alfie Templeman (see p26 for more on him) and Phoebe Green. Speaking of her involvement, Stefflon Don says: “I feel honoured that War Child have asked me to play a show for them. No child should have to deal with the consequences of war and the thought of them doing this is alone is heart breaking. War Child is an amazing charity protecting, educating and standing up for children affected by war.”
Sundara Karma add, “It’s very easy to disengage from the horror in this world but it is our moral duty to confront that right now there are children being denied a right to live and a future to look forward to. War Child are doing an outstanding job in raising awareness for the vulnerable and aiding those in need of help. We’re looking forward to the playing this show immensely and adding our voice to the cause.” Tickets for the two shows are on sale now via Skiddle and EartH’s website. For more info, head to diymag.com.
Fucked Up - David Comes To Life Eighteen tracks? Check. Four separate acts? You betcha. A fight for control of the narrative between the main character and the, er, actual narrator? Welcome to the brilliantly bizarre world of Fucked Up’s hardcore rock opera ‘David Comes To Life’. Words: Sarah Jamieson.
or a good chunk of their early life, Fucked Up may have been at risk of becoming more well-known for their chaotic live shows and frenzied ringleader Damien ‘Pink Eyes’ Abraham than their ambitious musical offerings. But with the release of third album ‘David Comes To Life’, that all changed. Granted, the Toronto six-piece had built their reputation on being that little bit weird their second, Polaris Prize-winning album ‘The Chemistry of Common Life’ was about “the mysteries of birth, death, and the origins of life” and they did once perform a twelve-hour show in a New York City gallery, after all - but it wasn’t until their 2011 full-length that they really changed the perception of hardcore punk’s more ambitious side. The words ‘concept album’ aren’t usually bandied around lightly, but with ‘David Comes To Life’, there’s no other way to describe its twisting, twisted narrative. A rock opera of the finest, most meta degree, the album finds itself set in late 70s, early 80s Britain, with a narrative woven around two principal characters - light
THE FACTS Released: 6th June 2011 Stand-out tracks: ‘Queen of Hearts’, ‘Remember My Name’, ‘A Little Death’ Tell your mates: The album may be eighteen tracks long, but it’s actually split into four acts. Shakespeare eat your heart out.
bulb factory worker David Eliade and activist Veronica Boisson. What follows over its dense eighteen tracks is a rollercoaster of a story, with the two falling in love and then deciding to build a bomb in protest. With a mind-bending twist which sees the story’s narrator outed as a villain, before fighting David for control of his own fiction, it’s a record that’s multi-faceted in many different ways. What’s perhaps most incredible, though, is that Fucked Up’s explosive spirit and tenacity remains throughout. ‘David Comes To Life’ is ambitious in every sense - not just via the narrative - with the likes of ‘Queen of Hearts’ and ‘Remember My Name’ arriving packed full of the anarchic energy the group are so deft at harnessing. There’s no doubting that it’s an album with a hardcore punk heart, even when swaddled in such brilliantly bizarre storytelling, and more than anything, these songs still shine brightly, even when sung by Damien’s scorched vocals. Propulsive, compelling and downright bonkers, ‘David Comes To Life’ really is a record like no other. DIY
THE DEBUT ALBUM
OUT 6TH SEPTEMBER H U S K Y L O O P S . C O M
Dani Surfbort: a very aggressive kisser.
HIT LIST In the market for more than just new music? We’ve got you covered. This month, we’re running you through the best headphones to house your sounds.
AUDIO TECHNICA With a 40-hour battery life, you could literally fly to Australia and back and have studio-quality sound the entire time courtesy of these high-end wireless bad boys. RRP: £179 But it: amazon.co.uk
Reeperbahn Festival announces the jury for
this year’s new music prize. Photo: Emma Swann.
ach September, Reeperbahn Festival takes over Hamburg’s famous strip to showcase acts from across the globe. Since 2016, the event has also hosted its ANCHOR award, aiming to highlight one of the festival’s top new artists (our own Jade Bird won in 2017). This year’s jury was revealed at Reeperbahn’s recent event in New York City - legendary producer Tony Visconti will be joined by musicians Kate Nash, Peaches, and a member of German punks The Beatsteaks, Arnim Teutoburg-Weiss, producer Bob Rock, plus Australian radio presenter, Zan Rowe. “It’s the songs,” said Kate Nash when we asked what she’d be looking for of any potential winners. “I do think there’s something about someone’s energy on stage and how they draw you in, but I’ll fall in love with a song or a feeling I get. Do I have an emotional response to this?”
Bob Rock - responsible for Metallica’s ‘black’ album, among others - agrees. “They’ve just got to move me. Usually, I want someone to make me cry. That gets me every time. I’m sure someone will make me cry - and they’ll win.” Tony Visconti, who’s been part of the ANCHOR team for four years now, meanwhile, says “It’s originality. It doesn’t have to be a type of music, but they have to be very different for me. And kind of fearless. When I see someone who wants to write great melodies I’m totally inspired by them.” The launch also featured a gig - naturally - with German bands Gurr and Leoniden joined by artists including Canadian dance-punks Yes We Mystic, and infamous local partystarters, Surfbort. Reeperbahn Festival takes place between 18th and 21st September.
BEATS BY DRE POWERBEATS PRO Want to pump out some massive bangers, but don’t want to mess up your ‘do? These wireless earphones will do the job - they’re so well-fitted, they’re even the world’s #1 sports headphone. RRP: £219.95 Buy it: apple.com
JAM AUDIO Hey mate, what’s that in your ear? Oh, it’s THE WHOLE OF MUSIC. These Live True earbuds are wireless, tiny, but mighty: good things come in small packages. RRP: £49.99 Buy it: jamaudio.com
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Music Is The Real Winner The shortlist for the 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize has been revealed. As lists go, it’s pretty bloody good... Photos: Patrick Gunning. ANNA CALVI Hunter BLACK MIDI Schlagenheim CATE LE BON Reward DAVE Psychodrama FOALS Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1 FONTAINES DC Dogrel IDLES Joy As An Act Of Resistance LITTLE SIMZ GREY area NAO Saturn SEED ENSEMBLE Driftglass SLOWTHAI Nothing Great About Britain THE 1975 A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
ummer is in full swing, most people are a bit sick of festivals by now and just like that, it’s officially time to talk about the best albums of the last twelve months. That’s right: the 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize Albums of the Year have officially been revealed, with DIY cover stars Foals, IDLES, The 1975 and slowthai all among the artists featured this year. Other acts given the nod include Fontaines DC, Anna Calvi and NAO. The 2019 shortlist was decided by a judging panel which featured the likes of Glasto headliner Stormzy, 2018 shortlisted artist Jorja Smith and Gaz Coombes, while the ceremony for this year’s Prize - which was won by Wolf Alice, for second album ‘Visions of a Life’ last year - is set to take place on 19th September at London’s Hammersmith Apollo.
Shortlisted for his cutting debut ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, Northampton’s slowthai reacted to the news in predictably poised fashion. “In my brain, there was so much mental power going on that I couldn’t actually say anything,” he laughed at the event’s launch, “so I just ate some toast and played my game, and that was as complicated as it got!” What better way to celebrate, eh?
DIY’S PICK OF LNSOURCE
In desperate need of a “It feels great the fact that essentially we made one body of work and split it in two and for the first part to be valued and to be nominated on the shortlist feels great,” Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis told us, of the news ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1’ was shortlisted. “Obviously we spent a lot of time trying to make them two separate coherent bodies of work but there was always a chance that they would be viewed as one overarching thing, so yeah it feels great.”
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.
And as for IDLES? Well, they were pretty chuffed too. “It’s the best feeling in the world being patted on the back by peers that you admire, but it’s not something you dwell on,” the band’s Joe Talbot explained. “We’re not about ego boosts, but it’s nice to celebrate the album and put it to bed in a celebratory way and be part of this amazing cluster of artists.” DIY
27th August, Electric Brixton, London Last seen with the five starrated ‘Almost Free’ back in January, the Californian punks are this side of the Atlantic for spots at Reading & Leeds - and this one-off London headline that forms part of an ensuing European tour.
Hockey Dad 22nd August,
Scala, London The Aussie duo’s London date comes ahead of tours alongside rock heavyweights Basement and The Story So Far - and follows 2018’s second album ‘Blend Inn’.
Corella 15th August, Lock
Tavern, London The Manchester quartet hit the capital hot on the heels of latest track ‘Dice’, released last month. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource 21
s festivals festivals festivals fest Preview
READING & LEEDS 23rd - 25th August
Grab your rabbit hat, tiny backpack and head to your closest travelator*: it’s time for The 1975 to headline Reading & Leeds. Obviously Matty ’n the lads aren’t the only act set to boss their way across the August Bank Holiday weekend. The festival’s Main Stage will host the return of Royal Blood to their natural habitat, Charli XCX and Billie Eilish’s big pop shows, The Distillers’ UK comeback and some guy who used to drum in some band, apparently (hi Dave!). slowthai will be a must-see set in the Radio 1 tent, while there are plenty of DIY faves found throughout: Chvrches, Pale Waves, Sundara Karma, Bakar, The Japanese House, Sports Team, Black Honey… the list goes on.
Old hands at leading a mates-onshoulders singalong at the festival, the foursome are returning to headline the Festival Republic stage this year. Frontman Harry Koisser looks forward to... kissing babies? Hello, Peace! What’s new in your world? We just toured China and Korea and kind of went back to basics. Loud amps, weird jams, rice wine. It was killer, and I feel like maybe that’s what it’s all about. We’re going to bring that gung-ho ‘Delicious’ ethos into the ‘20s. So I guess what’s old is what’s new. You’re headlining the
Festival Republic stage - how does it feel to have your name on the top of a long list of bands? They say it’s lonely at the top and it is not. It’s really great. Everybody wants to shake your hand and have you kiss their baby and I am all for that. The festival must feel a bit like ‘home’ now, surely? We’re really working our
way around the festival. It was the only festival we all used to go to when we were adolescents so it really is important to us. I just hope to headline the whole thing before the apocalypse. What can we expect from the set? Any special plans underway? We had this huge idea but then decided to make it about the music and
celebrate everything we’ve done so far before we do the... thing. Give us the top three reasons to watch your set over that of Post Malone or Twenty One Pilots? ‘1998’, ‘California Daze’, ‘From Under Liquid Glass’.
*this is definitely *not* something one particular member of Team DIY has been known to do. Honest.
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Q&A: PVRIS They’ve recently inked a new record deal and released new track ‘Death of Me’. PVRIS vocalist Lynn Gunn spills on whether there’s more to come, and who they’ll be excited to catch across the weekend. You recently released new track ‘Death of Me’. Tell us about that one. I started ‘Death of Me’ in my bedroom one winter evening in Brooklyn around two years ago and from the moment I started it, I felt so excited about it. It had a very different, but still very PVRIS, energy to it and I knew it was special. I worked on refining and elevating it with Dan Armbruster from Joywave about a year later, he has a really fun energy and great ear that made him feel perfect to work on the song with. Then we finished it with JT Daly who really hit a home run with fully bringing the song to life. What can we expect from your return to Reading & Leeds this month? We will 100% be performing some new music and we’re beyond excited to be sharing these new songs and be back in the UK. I don’t even know what to expect yet so you will have even less of an idea. Are there any acts you’re excited to catch? I know Brian [MacDonald, bass] and I are very excited to check out slowthai.
Q&A: CHVRCHES Chvrches return to the festival with a massive spot in the Radio 1 tent - vocalist Lauren Mayberry looks forward. Hello, Chvrches! What’s new in your world? Sweating it up in the summer heatwave and the daily horror of Boris Johnson as PM. Another summer of festival after festival - how are you all dealing with it so far? Lots of sun cream and lots of hand sanitiser. Your set at Reading & Leeds is another big one following that Main Stage set in 2016 - how are you looking forward to returning? Reading & Leeds has always been a fun one for us and we’ve been able to do it on every record so far. It always marks the end of the festival season for us too and it’s a nice way to finish up because it’s a festival I watched on TV when I was younger. Are you likely to be able to watch anyone else’s sets? We will only be there the day we’re playing so I’m sad we won’t get to see The 1975 or Hayley Kiyoko but I’d like to watch The Distillers on the Sunday. 23
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YPSIGROCK Castelbuono, Sicily. 8th - 11th August.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Porridge Radio, Stef Chura and Cass McCombs are among the latest additions to MIRRORS (2nd November), joining names including Sheer Mag, Just Mustard, Phoebe Bridgers and American Football in venues around Camden.
Who’s the king of the castle? Matt Berninger’s gonna be grabbing the finest chianti he can find over this weekend, as The National headline the small-but-perfectly-formed Sicilian event. They’re joined by Spiritualized, Whitney, Boy Azooga, Lafawndah and more.
Another Sky and Do Nothing are among the latest acts added to
Q&A: LET’S EAT GRANDMA The Norwich duo head to Sicily as part of a summer of festivals that’s seen them play Mad Cool, Latitude, BST Hyde Park, Primavera Sound and more. ‘I’m All Ears’ was very different to your debut - has it been a different experience touring it? Jenny: I think it has been massively different. We’re older now so we have more freedom, and we’re allowed to do things more on our own accord - we can go and explore. Rosa: People have taken us a bit more seriously second time around. People understand more what we’re about. Were you pleased with how people seemed to react to the record? J: It was amazing how critically wellreceived it was, but we never felt like we had to go in a certain direction. On the first album it was clear we hadn’t decided where we wanted our sound to be - there 24 DIYMAG.COM
were prog sounds, folk sounds, more pop sounds, and I feel like it could have gone in any direction. We still feel like that. How integral is your live show? J: We’ve always been really focused on our live shows; when we started out, we didn’t have anything recorded so we always concentrated on performing. Then we wanted to put out something people could dance to. But it’s also important to have emotional songs that aren’t just piano ballads; to show you can express emotion in different ways. Have you started working on LP3 yet? R: A little bit, but we’re keeping it under wraps!
Oxford’s RITUAL UNION (19th October),
which is already hosting sets from artists including The Murder Capital and Egyptian Blue. GREEN MAN (15th - 18th August) has added names including The Big Moon, Self Esteem, These New Puritans and Villagers to a bill that already boasts IDLES, Four Tet, Father John Misty among others.
27 new acts have been added to Glasgow’s TENEMENT TRAIL (12th October), including Dream Wife, Drenge, Another Sky, and King Nun. They join headliners The Magic Gang, Lazy Day, Squid and more.
The record label that brought you…
ALFIE TEMPLEMAN . BILLIE MARTEN . BLOXX . CHET FAKER . EASY LIFE . GROUPLOVE . JUNGLE . LOCAL NATIVES . MØ . MUMFORD & SONS . PHOEBE GREEN . PUMAROSA . SINEAD O’BRIEN . SKOTT . SUNDARA KARMA . SWIM DEEP . TOVE STYRKE . THE WHA . WHITE LIES . WOLF ALICE . YAEGER .
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“I spent so much time focusing on music and ignoring all of my teachers; thank god I haven’t flopped…”
ALFIE TEMPLEMAN The multi-talented young newcomer set to make you wonder just wtf you were doing at his age… Words: Elly Watson. Photo: Emma Swann.
Getting a fake ID always comes with its struggles. Maybe you have to create an elaborate backstory to explain why your hair is suddenly twice the length, or learn what star sign your new fake birth date has. If you’re Alfie Templeman, however, then you also have to hope that the suspicious bouncer giving you the once over isn’t an avid music press reader. “When we do gigs and want to get fake IDs, I can’t do it because everyone knows I’m a ‘16-year-old prodigy’!” He jokes. “It’s so annoying!” Yes, Alfie *is* only 16. Aside from making us legal drinkers have a slight existential crisis, though, he doesn’t seem to think it’s that big of a deal at all. “I’m just a kid who plays a few instruments and it’s not surprising to me as a person because I’ve been able to do this since I was, like, 10?” he shrugs. “There are kids who deserve the limelight more than me that can do it a lot younger and way better. I just happen to be here! I guess it’s more my songs that connect with people, and then they find out my age and they’re like ‘Wow!’. I’m really happy there’s hype, but it’s probably mostly because of my age. It’s a bit worrying because it’s like, what happens when I’m not 16?! What if I just flop and no one listens to me because I’m an old man?!” His impending adulthood shouldn’t worry Alfie too much though, as the Bedfordshire singer has already got half a lifetime of craft under his belt. Although his dad wasn’t musical, he’d packed their house with guitars and a young Alfie was instantly fixated by them. Originally learning how to play backwards due to all of said guitars being left-handed, he slowly expanded what he wanted to achieve musically, learning drums, bass and production before he’d even hit double figures. “I’m so lucky that I’ve always wanted to do music because I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t,” he laughs. “I’d probably be working in McDonalds or something. Because I was so young, I knew instantly
that this was what I wanted to do. I literally spent so much time focusing on music and ignoring all of my teachers; it’s kind of like, shit, thank god I haven’t flopped at music otherwise I’d be done.” Signing to Chess Club at 15, he released debut EP ‘Like An Animal’ in October last year. A vibey indie record that could fit seamlessly into a Rex Orange County or Mac DeMarco set, it showed Alfie’s songwriting promise to the masses. Around the same time, he started listening to loads of Frank Ocean and Tyler, The Creator - “anything Odd Future basically” - and realised he could blend elements of their music into the sounds he was already making. The result of that epiphany was June’s ‘Sunday Morning Cereal’, which saw the musician mixing R&B elements into his sunshine-soaked indie. “I was worried at first, because obviously it’s a little bit different to the first one and the first one went down really well,” he confides. “Everyone was like ‘Wow, he’s taken a big step!’ And it’s definitely a step forward, but not a giant one - that one’s coming soon...” That giant leap is what’s currently filling Alfie’s time. Set for release around September, he’s been working on new material with Easy Life producer Rob Milton to create what he promises to be his best music yet. “It’s like, AHHH!!’” he yells excitedly. “It’s so amazing! It’s really funky, like, REALLY funky. I can’t even tell you how funky it is! Some of it’s indie, but some of it’s really disco/R&B/pop vibes. The best way to describe it is like summer pop music for someone who’s depressed in winter. I’m really excited, I’m mega excited.” Hoping to debut new tracks when he takes to the BBC Introducing Stage at this month’s Reading & Leeds, he’s excited to perform again and celebrate the end of his GCSEs in style. “I’m failing all of them,” he giggles. “Nah, they were OK. Well, apart from History!” Anyone wanna sneak him a pity pint? DIY
The West Yorkshire quartet taking small town frustration and
sending it to the disco. Words: Lisa Wright.
WORKING MEN’S CLUB
Since the dawn of modern music, there have been artists hailing from small, uninspiring towns using frustration and ennui as the rocket fuel for their creative fire. Macclesfield boy Ian Curtis had a youth of petty theft and prescription drug experimentation in the bank before he fronted Joy Division; Manic Street Preachers famously cite their childhood in the poverty-stricken Welsh former mining town of Blackwood as their main incentiviser and now, into that lineage, come Working Men’s Club. “The thing that’s most inspiring about being in Todmorden is that it’s really fucking boring, so there’s nothing else to do,” explains singer Syd Minsky-Sargeant of his West Yorkshire home. “If you’re from a small place - in the north of England especially - with not much money, that’s very working class without much going on, it’s not fucking easy. It feels like lots is going on outside and far away, so you have to find a way to channel that, which for me is through music.” Meeting bandmates Jack Bogacki and Giulia Bonometti at college in nearby Manchester, and eventually finding bassist Liam Ogburn after failed test runs with seven other people, it’s this combination of small-town angst and the ominous
“I never wanted to be a Manchester band because the Manchester music scene is shit.” Syd Minsky-Sargeant 28 DIYMAG.COM
shadow of the big city that’s fuelling the band’s twitchy, antagonistic post-punkdisco. Though Syd’s lyrics are oblique, mantra-like things, straining against darklydanceable beats to get out, the other option - of running away into the musical lineage of Manchester - is one, he says, that’s just as unappealing. “I never wanted to be a Manchester band because I think the Manchester music scene is really shit at the moment, and it has been for the last 20 years,” he says, unflinchingly. “There’s a lot of bands trying to be Oasis or Arctic Monkeys and it’s just boring; the whole psych revival was fucking dull as well. I never wanted to be a part of that, I just wanted us to do our own thing.” Their ‘own thing’, as evidenced on propulsive recent single ‘Teeth’ - their first release since inking a deal with Heavenly - is one that the singer states is influenced by disco and techno as much as it is by guitar music. Combining their analogue instruments with an increasing arsenal of electronic equipment is, he explains, the way Working Men’s Club want to head. “As soon as I got a bit more money from working and could buy more synthesisers, that was something that changed the direction of the band straight away,” he nods. “I never wanted to just be another guitar band. I never want to be put in that bracket.” DIY
PHOEBE BRIDGERS AMERICAN FOOTBALL CASS MCCOMBS
ROUNDHOUSE > LONDON
TURNOVER SHEER MAG DRUGDEALER BIG JOANIE BARRIE EMPATH LOVING
LAURAN HIBBERD THE MYSTERINES PORRIDGE RADIO ALFIE TEMPLEMAN TAYLOR JANZEN ADA LEA STEF CHURA ROSBOROUGH DISQ JUST MUSTARD ARLO DAY HOPE
SAT 02.11.19 MIRRORSLONDON.COM
RECOMMENDED CURRENT AFFAIRS
‘80s-indebted goth punk from Glasgow’s increasingly-fruitful outsider scene.
Current Affairs have a certain sonic blueprint that immediately takes you back to the ‘80s more melancholic quarters. From The Cure’s early material (circa ‘Three Imaginary Boys’ / ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ etc) to Siouxsie and the Banshees’ dark sheen, it’s a tone that’s simultaneously tetchy yet bright, and one these Glasgow newcomers do so well, you’ll be checking your iPhone calendars to make sure you’ve not tripped back four decades. They’ll be releasing all of their tracks to date in one big, bumper bundle courtesy of Tough Love in October; backcomb your hair and smear on some lipstick to celebrate. Listen: Joy Division-esque jerker ‘Object’ is already available on Bandcamp. Similar to: The band you’d choose to soundtrack Heathers 2k19.
Introspective slacker rock straight out
Take slacker rock’s laid-back sonics and affection for revelling in doing not very much at all, sprinkle over Britpop’s ability to make the everyday sound glorious, while filtering it through a distinctly ‘now’ lens, and you’re somewhere near Hamburg native Ilgen-Nur’s output. The German’s debut full-length, released this month, is somewhere between a perma-glum Jules Jackson (if such a thing were possible), and a grungier Nilüfer Yanya. Plus, not since Des’ree’s iconic ‘Life’ have we been so happy to hear a lyric about toast. Listen: Debut album ‘Power Nap’ is released on 30th August. Similar to: If Daria fronted The Big Moon.
SINEAD O’BRIEN Limerick-born, south London-based punk poet. Speedy Wunderground - the singles label from producer Dan Carey - has good form; from Squid to Black Midi, it’s put out early tracks from some of the country’s best new talents. Their latest release comes in the form of Sinead O’Brien’s ‘Taking On Time’: the work of a singer born in Limerick, dwelling in south London and with audible traces of both areas. What does that mean? Think a poetic, lyrical sensibility (that’s the Irish) combined with the propulsive darkness of the capital’s recent scene. It’s a winning combo. Listen: ‘Taking On Time’ is a spoken word mantra to a dead-eyed soundtrack. Similar to: The voice inside your head on its most intelligent day. 30 DIYMAG.COM
GREAT DAD Weirdo electronic musings from South London. South London might have become most well-known in recent years for its slew of snarling angry young punk types, but throughout that time there’s also been a steady stream of weirder, more electronically-minded auteurs also filling the Windmill’s bills. Great Dad come into that lineage, their recently-released Bandcamp album a disorientating, lo-fi mix of vulnerability and claustrophobia. Like if The Moldy Peaches or Daniel Johnson got really into leftfield noise. Listen: ‘Blood Dirt’ is the sound of sleep-deprived madness (but good). Similar to: Like if The Moldy Peaches or Daniel Johnson got really into leftfield minimal noise.
technical nouse with heady emotion. Throughout history, literature and shitty Hallmark sentiment, there’s always been the rivalry between head and heart: you follow the logical thought of one or the impulsive feeling of the other. Some of the best art, however, comes from the meeting of the two, and it’s in this intersection of the cerebral and emotional that Baltimore teen Julien Chang sits. Classically trained with a love of jazz, but infusing all that with a Kevin Parker-esque sense of giddy, heavenly psych, the new Transgressive signing shows you can do both. Listen: First single ‘Of The Past’ is part funk odyssey, part jazz piano jam. Similar to: If Unknown Mortal Orchestra put down the bong and picked up the sheet music.
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
Baltimore wunderkind, fusing
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:
OMAR GAWD US pop sensation (and Brockhampton’s mate) OMAR APOLLO will be heading over to UK shores for the first time following this year’s ‘Stereo’ EP. Catch him on a six-date run at the end of November. Peep the dates on diymag.com now.
ALL ABOARD! Following last year’s knees-up, SPORTS TEAM have announced a second Margate jolly - a big school bus seaside trip feat. Walt Disco, Wolf Alice DJs and loads more.
SQUID ‘The Cleaner’ Not an ode to that nice lady that came every week to make your uni halls less of a cesspit, but Squid’s newest slice of pinging, cowbell-laced brilliance. FAMILY TIME ‘Another Night on the Isle’ Having spent their early days posing as a covers band in Mallorca, a night on the isle for Family Time is surely a strange thing - check this slice of woozy, LA Priest-esque psych pop for reference. girl in red ‘i’ll die anyway’ Still not a fan of capital letters, Oslo’s girl in red can escape our grammar wrath by virtue of being really rather good at a confessional pop tune - like if Sigrid and Matty Healy morphed into one emo pop sensation. DRY CLEANING ‘The Magic of Meghan’
ACCESS ALL AREAS Frontman of NY’s Public Access TV, JOHN EATHERLY has shared a new video for his track ‘Burnout’ and confirmed plans for a DIY Presents show in London on 4th December. Get all the info over on diymag.com.
The first track from the south Londoners’ debut EP is a deadpan ode to the absolute “smasher” that is Meghan. Think Drahla with a sense of humour. Thumbs up.
NEU/LIVE WALT DISCO
Lion Coffee & Records, London. Photos: Lola Stephen.
hastily perched projector premieres Walt Disco’s new video for ‘Past Tense’ onto the ceiling as the five-piece shuffle past can-clutching revellers, packed into the tiny East London record shop to reach their instruments. It’s a stripped-back affair owing to the venue’s lack of drums (and a stage), so the band perform in the middle of the floor, well within breathing space of the bustling crowd. “You make me feel like a man and I hate it,” warbles magnetic frontman James Potter on a tender interpretation of post-punk single ‘My Pop Sensibilities’. The restrained performance is at odds with the chaotic stage energy the band showcased on bigger stages at The Great Escape, but it
MUST-SEE SHOWS Like being the first to see the next big thing? Get ready to brag to your mates about watching this lot before they go big, sell out, and spectacularly break up.
reveals an earnest side that’s truly captivating. Behind the make-up and stylish monochrome, Walt Disco are talented dreamers and vulnerable romantics at heart. By the time they reach set closer ‘Dancing Shoes’, a deep and dark new wave ballad that channels fellow Scots The Associates, the walls are dripping. Hissing synths, drum machine claps and throbbing bass lines offer one final coda before the party spills out onto the street (and, quite rightly, into the pub next door). It may only be a brief trip to the big smoke for Walt Disco, but they’ve certainly made their mark. (James Bentley)
Following on from a slew of festival spots, the release of new track ‘Mama’s Boy’, the Croydon singer will be taking on The Shacklewell Arms on 20th August.
I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME
The project from former Panic! At The Disco member Dallon Weekes returns to the UK this month, ahead of their sets at Reading & Leeds. Catch ‘em first at London’s Electric Ballroom.
BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD
Fresh from the release of eightminute-epic ‘Sunglasses’, the sevenpiece are heading out in September and October - check out their plans on diymag.com. 32 DIYMAG.COM
WANT TO CATCH ZUZU LIVE?
Liverpool’s next pop hope, mixing the legacy of the city with the modern influence of today’s shiniest stars. Words: Lisa Wright.
“I think it’s important for people to hear their own voice being represented,” begins mononymously-named singer Zuzu. “I grew up listening to Alex Turner and I thought it was so cool that he sang in his Northern accent. That was a big inspiration.” Delivering the likes of swaggering, feel-good recent anthem ‘How It Feels’ in a thick Scouse twang, the singer’s proudly regional accent might be a key component of her hooky, air-punching indie pop, but it’s not the only reason that Zuzu is making waves outside of her home town.
She headlines Liverpool’s Phase One on 19th September as part of Jäger Curtain Call. On sale now!
in an indie band, but that’s really changed for me in the past two years,” she says. “Now I’m really embracing all those pop artists that I used to love when I was younger Avril Lavigne and P!nk and Alanis Morissette. I don’t know why people turn their back on those things. I thought [Avril] was the coolest girl in the world; she inspired me to play guitar and make music, and that’s a really, really good thing. If I can have a slice of that I’d be hella grateful.”
Releasing debut single ‘Get Off’ back in 2016, it’s been a turbulent road so far for the singer; diagnosed with cyclical vomiting syndrome - a condition that made her constantly sick - Zuzu was forced to take a significant amount of time off, just as people were starting to pay attention. Luckily, with the help of close friends and the Growing up indebted to Liverpool’s rich musical “I’m really embracing all right doctors, now she’s back in good enough health to pick up where she left off. And, having lineage (“The Beatles those pop artists that I had time to think about every element of her craft are such a huge part of (she also does illustration, and says her aesthetic Liverpool’s legacy; it just used to love when I was is inspired by the “consistent colour palettes” seeps into you everyday”), younger.” of Pop Art), and with an album currently in it was the dual influence of progress, she’s in a stronger position than ever. ‘00s indie’s finest and some “I was really afraid at first and it was either sink of pop’s guitar-wielding or swim,” she says, “but it definitely sparked my drive to stars that then began to really burrow into the musician’s think: I’m not gonna let this cripple me.” DIY psyche. “The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys are what made me want to play guitar, and I used to be set on being 33
AHEAD OF THEIR ST VINCENT-PRODUCED NEW ALBUM ‘THE CENTER WON’T HOLD’, WE MEET
SLEATER-KINNEY AS A TRIO AND LEAVE THEM AS A DUO. WITH THEIR INNER WORKINGS
THROWN INTO DISARRAY, BUT THEIR MOST PROGRESSIVE, PROWLING MATERIAL TO DATE AT THEIR
FINGERTIPS, WE FIND A BAND STEPPING INTO AN UNEXPECTED NEW DAWN.
WORDS: EL HUNT. PHOTOS: ED MILES. CREATIVE DIRECTION: LOUISE MASON.
s far as apocalyptic images go, the sight of an abandoned falcon circling frantically around a crumbling planet earth must rank fairly high-up on the end-of-theworld scale. It’s the dystopian image that the Irish poet William Butler Yeats famously painted in his 1919 text ‘The Second Coming’, written following the devastation of World War I. Perhaps strangely, the poem has been enjoying a resurgence of late. Artists have been rightfully pilfering Yeats’ words ever since he wrote them, but in recent years these same lines have been widely quoted, like choice lyrics from a number one pop smash - often as a way of making sense of how absurdly cruel the world has become. In the run-up to Donald Trump’s eventual election in the United States in 2016, certain lines from this poem were quoted more times within seven months than the previous thirty years combined. “The centre cannot hold” has become shorthand for the dangerous, hateful and fractured political climate of the present; switch “cannot” to a slightly more hopeful “won’t” and it’s also a phrase that titles Sleater-Kinney’s ninth album. A record on the run from chaos, ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ hungers after forming a meaningful connection in this modern void, and often gets nowhere. Ferocious lead single ‘Hurry On Home’ makes itself malleable, offering itself up as a “hair grabbable, grand-slammable” booty call secretly longing for escape: “disconnect me from my bones / So I can float, so I can roam” it pleads. If the beast hunched at the centre of the group’s previous record ‘No Cities To Love’ ached with anger and fury, this new iteration is lonely, adrift, and after something far less rebellious than anarchy or revolution. Instead, it craves warmth. “There have been moments of total despair,” starts Corin Tucker, taking stock of the last few years, gathered together in London with bandmates Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein. “Right before we went in to record [‘The Center Won’t Hold], Brett Kavanaugh was being confirmed,” she continues, referring to Trump’s pick for the American Supreme Court. Neither the fact that he faced three separate allegations of sexual abuse, nor the brave testimony from Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who spoke publically about being
assaulted, could stop Kavanaugh’s nomination being approved. Like the US President, who also faces multiple sexual abuse allegations, he has now been admitted to a position of immense political power. “It was such a knife in the heart, “ Corin continues. “Of course it makes you feel so raw. Thank god we have this band to put those feelings somewhere.”
ince Sleater-Kinney formed in Olympia, WA back in 1994, bodies have been a primary focus of the band. “Dig me out, dig me in / Out of my body, out of my skin,” rallies Corin on the title track of 1997’s ‘Dig Me Out’, with gripping urgency. It’s the perfect mantra for the band - one of raging against a feeling of smallness, of being held back. And from the despairing figure of ‘Broken’, which reflects on the pain of weathering the #MeToo movement as a woman, to ‘Reach Out’’s grapple for connection, ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ makes a point of taking up as much space as possible, wielding huge choruses and grinding unease as weapon of choice. “It’s about thinking about the body as a place of resistance, too,” agrees Carrie. “How much a body can withstand; trauma, trespass. Most of the narrators on ‘The Center Won’t Hold’,” she says, “are on the precipice of not being able to carry that burden anymore.” “Ever since you’re a little girl you learn: be polite, don’t speak out, be docile, be pretty, all of that stuff,” observes Janet. “Our band has been grappling with those societal norms since the beginning. Be loud, be brash, be angry, and all these things that are frowned upon. Be powerful,” she urges. On ‘The Center Won’t Hold’, a substantial portion of that weighty, guttural power comes from its swamp of squelching, low register synths: a possibility that was fully unlocked by the record’s producer, St Vincent. A longstanding friend of the band (Annie Clark previously made a guest cameo in Carrie’s comedy show Portlandia, and the pair are now collaborating on a mockumentary starring “heightened versions of themselves”), they originally demoed with “St Vince” on a trial basis. “She knocked it out of the park so hard,” enthuses Corin. In their first studio session alone, the band nailed ’The Center Won’t Hold’, ‘Ruins’ and ‘The Dog / The Body’. “She’s very prepared,” Janet says. “Very present.” “St Vincent really has a dark sense of humour, and an almost Dadaist approach to adding a sense of absurdism,” picks up Carrie. “I think she did that a couple of times
Corin was not impressed that we’d lost her crystal ball.
purposefully in the record with us, on songs that are as dark as anything. Like, in ‘Can I Go On’, you,” she laughs, indicating Corin, “just suddenly say ‘it’s sticky!’ in the middle of a song.” “I yelped more for that lady than I’ve ever yelped in my life,” Corin laughs. “Like a psychotic porpoise,” agrees Carrie. “Metaphorically we started thinking about the ways that the tools that we have - in terms of governments and societies - aren’t as effective anymore,” she goes on, expanding on the shifting palette of ‘The Center Won’t Hold’. “Usually we get to a guttural place with vocals, but this was like, how can we get down to the most base level of human emotion? Really scraping at the bottom of something: of a soul, of a being, of a society. You start getting drawn to the lower end in that way. “One thing I like about this record is that often the narrator is singing from a line of solitude,” she concludes. “There’s a path of solitude on the verse, they’re singing alone. They’re speaking to despondency, or an isolation - and then in the chorus, that’s often met by multiple voices.”
“I YELPED MORE FOR ST VINCENT THAN I’VE EVER YELPED IN MY LIFE.” - CORIN TUCKER 38 DIYMAG.COM
Likewise, ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ was created from a similar position of separation and then unity. For the first time, the band ditched their usual writing approach in favour of slinging ideas between Los Angeles and Portland. Instead of hashing things out together in the same room, the separate members of Sleater-Kinney downloaded each other’s partly-formed sketches while based a thousand miles apart. Centrepiece ‘Love’ is something of a dedication to the magic of their band: in Carrie’s words, “it’s a reminder that the music we share truly connects us; a meta song in the middle of an album that had been written that way.”
ust a couple of weeks after our first meeting, however, and the reality of that connection is an altogether different one. Sleater-Kinney are back in the US and, rather than rehearsing for their upcoming album tour, they’re instead unexpectedly turning and turning in the widening gyre. It came as a shock to Corin and Carrie when Janet - out of the blue, to their knowledge anyway decided that she wanted out from the band. The group held several crisis talks behind the scenes. “We
really tried to talk her into staying,” says Corin, speaking on the phone from Los Angeles. “We just weren’t successful.” In a statement released at the beginning of July, Janet confirmed that she was leaving Sleater-Kinney after 24 years, in a short note simply signed off: ‘The Drummer’. The band was “heading in a new direction,” she wrote, and it was time for her to move on. Did she ever elaborate on what she meant by that, privately? “Not really,” replies Carrie. “By every metric, Janet was very enthusiastic about the recording, and the outcome of everything we’d been working on,” she continues. “We’d all weighed in on all of the decisions, and had a lot of shared enthusiasm. She let us know that she was ready to move on, and we asked her to stay. We really wanted her to do all the rest of the work with us. She’s so amazing on this record; it’s some of her best drumming. We were really excited to bring that into the world with the live shows, but… she was not up for that.”
“IT’S ABOUT THINKING OF THE BODY AS A PLACE OF RESISTANCE.” - CARRIE BROWNSTEIN
“We had ALL been part of the changes in the band,” Carrie adds. “Janet suggested Annie [Clark] produce the record.” Learning that the new direction of ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ was a major factor in Janet’s departure, she admits, “was a surprise”. “It just felt like at the live shows everything was going to come together,” she trails off. “So… um, yeah. Not sure.” “The amount of raving about the mixes of the songs, the whole endeavour, has been shared by the three of us,” Corin says, “it definitely felt like a surprise to us.” “This was a very joyful recording process,” adds Carrie. “We ALL,” she adds, emphasising, “talked about that in the other part of the interview.” And it’s true that, just last month, Janet seemed enthusiastic about the record. If the drummer was having any doubts, she certainly didn’t let on. “It’s really different, and arresting,” she previously enthused about lead single ‘Hurry On Home’. “It just grabs you. The idea of contrast in music dark lyrics contrasting with a playful sound - there’s a depth to it which is fun to play with. You’re asking this existential, serious question with everyone singing along. It adds a complexity that I find interesting.” While it might be tempting to pick apart various remarks with the power 39
of hindsight - a throwaway comment about St Vincent’s “present” production style, or a notable silence - when it’s put directly to the band, they dismiss any suggestion of a fall-out behind the scenes. Carrie and Corin are quick to dismiss any speculation that there were furious sparks or dramatic alterations taking place in the background of this record; instead Janet’s departure seems a sad but amicable parting. Was there any conflict? “Absolutely not,” Carrie says, resolutely. “It was Janet letting us know how she felt, us really working as much as we could to get her to stay, and her making her decision. It was in the spirit of her saying: ‘I want to make sure we’re always gonna be friends, and that I love you guys’. That was literally the last conversation we had about it.” “It’s a long time to be in any relationship,” she shrugs. “I don’t think it’s that unusual after that many years for someone to say, ‘hey, I want to do something different’.”
Though Sleater-Kinney existed for several years before Janet joined the band - the group’s self-titled debut and the ferocious ‘Call the Doctor’ were both recorded with previous drummers - everything changed, the remaining pair have previously said, after she walked into their Portland rehearsal basement in 1996 and sat behind the kit for the first time. Thrashing through the song which would later become ‘Dig Me Out’ together, Sleater-Kinney immediately became a trio. In Janet, they had found a true collaborator. “Corin and I were used to having drummers follow along and defer to us; they were percussive cheerleaders or meandering, interpretive artists, serving as more of an augmentation than an equal component,” wrote Carrie in her 2015 memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, recalling the electricity of their first meeting. “Forget drummer jokes, Janet is one of the most musically intelligent people I know. And she was certainly the most musically gifted member
“WE REALLY TRIED TO TALK HER INTO STAYING, WE JUST WEREN’T SUCCESSFUL.” CORIN TUCKER of the band, the one with the largest musical lexicon and sphere from which to draw influence.” Despite her still perplexing departure, Sleater-Kinney’s two remaining band members still talk warmly about Janet’s monumental contributions to the band today. “She brought a sense of creativity, and a real optic connection with rhythm, that contributed a lot to the records,” Corin says. “In this record in particular, she’s so great at just breathing an unexpected kind of energy or life into a moment or a song,” Carrie adds. Today, Corin and Carrie sandwich every mention of sadness in between positives; perhaps understandably, they’re eager to avoid wallowing around their recent jolt. Though they won’t yet reveal who will be playing drums on their upcoming tour, they’re audibly excited about their potential. “I think we are looking forward to the person that we will get to collaborate with,” Carrie says, cryptically. The pair speak of Janet’s departure as signalling a “new chapter” for the band, and a new challenge to embrace, however they both keep returning to the observation that ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ features some of Janet’s finest drumming. “I’m very much looking forward to people hearing a record that she is an integral part of,” says Carrie. Though they’re not wallowing, they also seem keen not to write Janet out of their present just yet.
constancy - is to deny us our own humanity, and to ask us to withdraw from the vicissitudes of life,” she says. “We just can’t.” “We’re right in the chaos. And ironically, in some ways,” she concludes, finally cracking a laugh, “this album addresses all of that chaos and fractiousness and fragility.” A complicated final twist to a dynamic and blazing album, the center did not hold after all, but Sleater-Kinney are still standing strong. ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ is out 16th August via Mom + Pop. DIY
“It’s about taking the work of not just three strong women in this band, but a fourth strong woman in St Vincent, and combining those forces,” she continues. “I hope that when people listen to this record, that’s what they’re thinking about. It’s a record that we’re very proud of.” “I think with time, people will just look back like, ‘OK, this was just that era of the band, and here’s the next era’,” Carrie posits. “It’s all part of that journey. To conscript anyone to that role - of representing stability, and
“Everyone had so much shit to say and I just wanted to be known for my music.”
Bitch Sauce WITH THE
Her words - not ours. From haters to heartbreak, with every obstacle thrown at her
has only got stronger. Debut album ‘Clarity’ is just the tip of the iceberg. Words: Elly Watson.
“A lot of people just refuse to listen to my songs and only want to talk about me and my genitals,” Kim Petras laughs over the phone. “It’s really annoying!” Undergoing highlypublicised gender reassignment surgery in her teens, the 26-year-old, German-born pop phenomenon has had people purely focusing on what’s in her pants for over a decade now. Since then, the platinum blonde, pint-sized pop star has had to fight to show her talent. Raised on a healthy diet of US pop icons from the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, when Kim was growing up she would recreate music videos relentlessly in her room as a means of finding solace. “I always imagined pop music being the escape from my life which I didn’t like as a teenager at all,” she recalls. “I loved Britney, Gwen [Stefani], Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, Jojo, Destiny’s Child, Rihanna. All of them were like my friends because I didn’t really have any friends.” Wanting to make music herself, she would obsessively look up the names on the back of her CDs, becoming intrigued by the songwriters she discovered and following all of their 28/07/2019 08:53 work. By the time the singer was in her mid-teens, she had amassed a back catalogue of around 500 songs that she’d made in her bedroom, but the notoriety surrounding her transition stopped people from recognising her promising talent as an artist. “In Germany, labels definitely didn’t want to work with me,” she remembers. “I did documentaries
when I was a young kid about being transgender, so then in Germany I just had the ‘transgender kid from TV’ stamp. I couldn’t find anybody who wanted to work with me or who fucked with my music or thought I was talented.” In the hope of having more success and becoming like her pop idols, Kim decided to move to LA when she was 19. Arriving in the US to a country where no-one knew her back story, she began writing for other artists before eventually being offered her own publishing deal. But when she started to approach labels, the same obsession over her transition reoccurred. “In the beginning, it was so hard,” she recalls. “Everyone had so much shit to say and I just wanted to be known for my music, and for what I’ve worked on for all of my life, and for what I’m really proud of.” Despite being shut down
by major labels - “People were like, ‘you can’t be a pop star, you have to be a songwriter’, or some religious label would be like ‘I’m going to hell if I work with you, so no’” Kim persevered, deciding to independently release her debut track, the sugar-baby anthem ‘I Don’t Want It At All’. Shooting to the top of the Spotify Viral chart, it quickly and successfully silenced her doubters. “It went number one, the first song that I ever dropped, without me even mentioning that I’m transgender. So, now I don’t give a fuck!” she smiles. “Now, I’m talking about it as much as I want to because I think I’ve proved that my songs are good.”
n the two years that have followed her debut release, Kim has played “every gay club in the US”, becoming a role model in the LGBTQ+ community and fully establishing herself at the 43
forefront of the women currently dominating pop music. With her unapologetically bubblegum style, the singer stands separate from the wash of what she describes as “cool” girl pop. From her ‘era one’ songs like the saccharine synth-pop of ‘Faded’ and breakup anthem ‘Heart To Break’, to her ubercampy, Halloween-inspired EP ‘Turn Off The Light, Volume 1’ (featuring a cameo from the Mistress of the Dark herself, Elvira), Kim has consistently pushed boundaries in her music, garnering comparisons to Robyn and Charli XCX - the latter of whom asked the singer to appear on her 2017 ‘Pop 2’ mixtape. Then, at the end of 2018, Aussie heartthrob Troye Sivan invited Kim to support him on his ‘Bloom’ tour, but just as she was about to head out with him she had her heart broken. “I was broken up with and found out I had been cheated on right before I went on tour with Troye and it was really hard,” she explains. “I’d be on stage every night singing these super confident over-the-top pop songs, because my first era was very much like a superhero version of myself. [But] it’s not actually me, I’m not that confident, I don’t feel like I’m that bitch every single day. I came off stage really sad and I wanted to talk about how I felt, and I wanted my fans to know that I’m not always super confident.” So the singer began working on the tracks that would eventually form recently-released full-length, ‘Clarity’. Throughout the 12-track record, her sassy and biting pop style is used to convey Kim’s post-breakup emotional journey; “If you had a night out with me and we ditched the party early and had too much wine and talked about boys, that’s what ‘Clarity’ feels like to me,” she laughs. And the record really does read like a rosé-fuelled monologue from Kim’s deepest thoughts. There’s the R&B-flecked, overemotional ‘All I Do Is Cry’, with lyrics ripe for a drunk text to a recent ex, but then she’s heading straight to booty-call bop ‘Got My Number’: an unashamed anthem for messaging that hook-up in your phone book and getting it 44 DIYMAG.COM
on. There’s the Soft Cell-esque ‘Personal Hell’ - about being sad but horny - and the uplifting, ‘it gets better’ album closer ‘Shinin’’, with its journey “from nada to Prada”. If you’ve ever had someone fuck you over and talked it out over several bottles with your pal, the likelihood is you’ve experienced every single one of the emotions on ‘Clarity’. Feel free to take the opening title track lyric “I’m the bitch with the sauce” as your future self-love motto from now on. “It was going to be a fullon, front-to-back, sad emo record and it turned out to be something new and exciting,” she says. “I felt really lost in the beginning of this, and in the middle of the project I found myself back on my feet and changed my mindset. I found a new version of myself and I’m really proud of myself.”
THE PETRAS PLAYLIST Still getting to know Kim? Here’s where to start… ‘I Don’t Want It At All’ Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ for millenials, Kim’s debut track is a shimmering slice of pop perfection about getting what you want. Inspired by a post-publishing deal shopping trip to Sephora when a cashier told her manager “just close your eyes and swipe it, sweetie”, it’s a bratty banger featuring a Paris Hilton cameo in the music video. That’s hot. ‘Heart To Break’ A tongue-in-cheek tale about knowing you’re picking a shitty guy but doing it anyway, the sugary-sweet bubblegum number is classic Petras with ‘80s power ballad flair and instantly catchy beats. ‘Icy’ A post-break up pop bop, Kim transforms into an ice queen shunning feelings for a past lover in favour of having none. Cutting and cool, the Weeknd-esque track sees her embodying the bad bitch that we all wish we could be after heartbreak.
t’s a bright and bombastic debut, one that has rightfully seen Kim hailed as one of pop’s shiniest new stars, but the singer’s seemingly crystalclear road to pop super stardom has a murkier tinge than at first glance. Throughout her entire career, there’s been a dark Dr Luke-shaped cloud hanging over proceedings due to her continued partnership with the producer despite accusations of sexual misconduct made by Kesha in 2014. When asked about her continued work with him on ‘Clarity’, Kim refuses to answer “out of respect for everybody involved in this lawsuit” (Dr Luke is currently suing Kesha for defamation). Instead, she directs us back to a statement she made via Twitter last year. “While I’ve been open about my positive experience with Dr Luke, that does not negate or dismiss the experience of others or suggest that multiple perspectives cannot exist at once,” she tweeted in June. “I want to say that I’m sorry to anyone that I upset. This has been a big learning experience for me. I do want to express my sympathy for any and all abuse victims.” Her partnership with the disgraced producer has ostensibly cast a shadow over her own undeniable talent. But Kim is adamant about continuing to persevere and be seen in light of her own merits. With a
“My first era was very much like a superhero version of myself.” critically-acclaimed debut under her belt, she’s already working on the follow up to ‘Turn Off The Light, Volume 1’, with ‘Volume 2’ dropping this October. “I think this one is definitely a lot harder [than Volume 1],” she says of the forthcoming EP, “but it’s still very much a continuation of the same thing. I really love it, and I love writing from somewhere where there’s no limits.”
She’ll also be hopping over the pond to perform at Reading & Leeds this month. Although not wanting to give too much away of what she has planned - with the exception that she’ll definitely be sporting a “lewk” her debut UK festival performance is certain to see her piss off some R&L rock purists with her take-no-shit bubblegum pop bangers. And as for the rest of the year? “I have some things up my sleeve,” she says coyly.
“My goal is to always keep pushing and always keep learning and growing. As long as I keep doing that I’ll be fine. I’m really antsy to just keep pushing it and see how far I can take it.” Whichever direction she lands in, chances are it won’t be dull. ‘Clarity’ is out now via BunHead. DIY
On debut ‘When I Have Fears’, Dubliners The Murder Capital set out to explore their inner workings in the most commited way possible. This is what they found. Words: Patrick Clarke. Photos: Alex Knowles.
TRUTH 46 DIYMAG.COM
he Murder Capital are a band for whom an obvious narrative has already been written. They are, it is often said, a part of that fertile Dublin scene we all keep hearing about - the same one that spawned Fontaines DC, Girl Band, Just Mustard and the like. They are Ireland’s answer to IDLES, people say, because you know, they toured together, play guitars, and touch on similar themes of mental health. They’re often called a punk band, and their music is described as aggressive, dark and uncompromising. They are angry young men, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But all of this does the band a disservice, it lumps them in with others when there’s a richer and more multifaceted tale to be told. “’Here’s five angry young males with something to shout about!’” quotes bassist Cathal Roper. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘oh, just fuck off!’” “And we’re not a punk band either, Jesus Christ,” says frontman James McGovern. The Murder Capital are admirers of IDLES, good friends with Fontaines and champions of their Irish contemporaries, but they’re also more than just a chapter in someone else’s story. Debut album ‘When I Have Fears’ proves them a band capable of something staggering when they turn on those swarming, bubbling walls of noise. Yes, they’re inspired by Dublin and its failings to provide for its most vulnerable, and James sings in a thick Irish accent, but that’s because they’re from Dublin and James has a thick Irish accent. They’re not just the next on the conveyor belt of Irish guitar groups, they’ve got their sights set on something much more universal.
adds. “You probably don’t [normally] confront your flaws as much as when you’re in a band like we are.” ‘Truth’, of course, can be an ephemeral thing. To seek out a straightforward ‘message’ about the modern world on the record would be a fruitless task; the main search here is inwards, and one that still hasn’t, and may never, reach its conclusion. Perhaps, indeed, ‘When I Have Fears’ is more of an exercise in honesty than an expression of it. In press material, the band have called the record “an attempt to dismantle ourselves”, with the goal of stripping away the superfluous in search of the purest expression possible. “You start to feel quite insignificant when you start to track back why you think what you think,” James explains. “It tends to be quite menial. It’s just because your mum thinks that way, and her mum thought that. Have I formed any individual self at any point, or have I just collected other people’s experiences and just reflected back a lesser version of a true human being?” There’s aggression and darkness on the record, sure, but tenderness and compassion too; with an album’s worth of material to play with, the quintet are clearly keen to demonstrate the breadth of their ambition. “We’re serious about every single thing we do, even in the softer songs we play there’s a lot of integrity, we’re very conscious of everything,” says Gabriel. “Although I do like the idea of there being a certain aggression arching over the whole thing,” interjects James. “Maybe there is. Maybe there’s an unbearable dysfunction in our modern society and maybe that can leave a dull tone in your head.”
ames, Cathal, and their bandmates Diarmuid Brennan, Gabriel Pascal-Blake and Damien Tuit, are clearly a little guarded as they sit around a table in an upmarket London pub, unafraid to ask questions of your questions if they spot an inconsistency, but generous, open and eloquent with their thoughts. The extent of their ambition is obvious within seconds as talk turns to their debut - a record made with a ceaseless desire to push themselves to the limits of what’s possible. Recording it was an intense experience, says James. “When we’re writing and recording together, we try to be as authentic to the truth that we’re trying to communicate as minutely as possible, to always try and stay honest with ourselves,” he says. “When you do that, I think you have to confront a lot of things in yourself. You take every book off the shelf and you’re dusting in areas you haven’t seen before, then you’re placing them back up in what you deem to be a better order.” “The five of us hold up mirrors to each other all the time,” Gabriel 47
“There are lots of beautiful and wonderful times whilst making a record,” he nods, “but many dark moments as well.” It is no secret that the suicide of a close friend, and the recovery from that trauma, has underpinned a lot, perhaps everything, that The Murder Capital have done since, and it’s something they’re unflinchingly open about. The problem, however, is when the music business starts to use that as a selling point. “Sometimes you feel like you’re being lulled into saying the same old things about it,” says Diarmuid. James sighs. “I’ve been in Travelodge toilets on tours, just trying to have a bath because I feel so sick and unwell from touring, then I get a phone call [from an interviewer] and the second question is ‘I know this song is about your friend killing himself, want to tell me more about that?’ I feel like they don’t give a shit about how I actually feel about it, so why are they asking me? If there’s a question to ask I’m more than happy to talk about it, but at least come with a fucking question…”
James himself writes lyrics with a blend of philosophy and poetry, his words packed with meaning, though sometimes cryptic and laden with metaphor. Narratively, it might be tempting to try and place him in that great tradition of specifically Irish writers, particularly when he talks about the gentrification of his home town, and the shortcomings of Dublin’s mental health provision, but again, the band seek something far more universal. “I don’t think our music is geographically anchored,” the singer argues. “We’re from Ireland and we’re completely affected by it, we drink and we pray, but what I’m saying is that that allows for that sort of universal nature to expose itself further. The words are written and they’re conveying our experience of living, and then the heat of my breath is the Dublin.”
“We’re serious about every single thing we do.” - Gabriel Pascal-Blake
The band speak often about how literature and poetry is as much, if not more, of an influence than music; “I’ve only read ten books, but I’ve fucking READ them,” jokes Gabriel. “Joyce and Beckett man, they’re fuckin’ serious!”
The Murder Capital’s house party had taken a turn for the bleak.
On ‘When I Have Fears’ The Murder Capital do not transport the listener directly to their Dublin, but find in that city the kind of themes that permeate everywhere. So exhaustive was their quest to tell their truth in its most potent form, that the most important achievement has already been made by virtue of the record’s sheer existence. “I think the beautiful thing for us is that we’ve got nothing to prove to anyone,” says James. “That’s how we got away with making something that I believe to be so pure. That record is like a living sentient thing when I listen to it. It’s imperfect and it’s breathing.” ‘When I Have Fears’ is out 16th August via Human Season. DIY
DOMAINE 23 24
Gearing up to the release of second album ‘Anak Ko’,
Jay Som is
embracing her Filipinx heritage and diving into herself.
Words: E.R. Pulgar.
he energy on this record is very different,” muses Melina Duterte. “I’m trying to make music more for myself and the people I love these days.” Having made a name for herself with excellent 2017 debut ‘Everybody Works’, the 25-year old Filipinx-American singer behind Jay Som is stepping into new waters on its follow-up, ‘Anak Ko’. A balanced collection of bass-infused indie rock and feverish lo-fi funkadelia, it’s by far the musician’s most danceable work to date, but it’s also a record that sees her digging further inwards while craving connection. Recording at the Los Angeles home where she laid down her debut and has lived for the past 18 months, for the first time Melina called upon friends including Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko and Chastity Belt’s Annie Truscott (on top of touring band mates Zach Elsasser, Oliver Pinnell and Dylan Allard, who she says are “all over” the album) to collaborate and contribute additional instrumentation. “It was the right move to have a bunch of my talented musician friends play and sing on the record,” she says. “Letting go of the perfectionist side of my musical self felt super freeing and fun. Each session was so easy and convenient, and taught me a lot about what I like about my songwriting.” Adding new layers and voices, the result is a record that feels imbued with warmth and humanity - from lead single ‘Superbike’, described by the singer as an energetic cocktail of “Alanis Morissette and Cocteau Twins” to the meditative and aptly-titled ‘Tenderness’, a sneaky psych rock jam that crescendos midway into an ocean of sparse drums, it’s an album that swaddles you in sonic respite. Influenced, she says, by the likes of Portishead, Californian indie band Pinback and, perhaps more surprisingly, UK lo-fi types Happyness, you can hear how the nocturnal nuances and tender moments of those artists have seeped through into Jay Som’s latest work. There’s a distinct visual palette to be found here too, from the warm pink sunrise that fronts the record’s cover, to the sepia-toned fantasy of faded glitter and orange-colored haze that fills the video for ‘Tenderness’ - “the most pop-oriented song” of the collection.
Even stemming down to its title, there’s something altogether gentler about ‘Anak Ko’. “‘Anak Ko’ isn’t like the last record, which came from the mindset of a 23-year-old PoC woman who was angry at the white people club and the male-dominated scene,” she says. “This record deals more with the human condition.” To exist in the United States as a queer brown person is inherently a political act, but Jay Som steers the lens away from her identity to make another point: that the conversation need not revolve around that, and she can still be proud of her roots and take a stand simply by existing and proclaiming herself. The album title is a Tagalog phrase meaning “my child”, she explains. “In Filipino families when you’re greeted by someone older than you it’s like, ‘anak ko, hi my child, I love you,’ Melina continues. “It put a big comforting blanket over this whole record.” The title came to her from one of those unassuming greetings, sent by her mother via text. And it’s these kinds of proclamations, the quiet ones, that give Jay Som’s music its hushed power. Across its nine tracks, ‘Anak Ko’ finds the singer in a period of growth - building in confidence, and cementing the voice that she wants to put out into the world. “This new record is an important transitional period from the whirlwind ‘Everybody Works’ was,” Melina affirms. “I feel like a completely different person and I’ve grown to have more clarity within my personal life. I’m still learning how to navigate this musical career around my mental health, friendships, love life, social media etc, and my relationship to ‘Anak Ko’ will likely change once it’s released. Hopefully I’ll figure out what it truly means to me, but right now I’m super proud of it.” Jay Som doesn’t have to be outlandish to wrap you up in her sonic dreamscape, and she doesn’t have to be direct to be outspoken. “It was me trying to look more inward into myself,” she nods before pausing, trying to find the correct words: “I’m intentionally making music I feel I should make.” ‘Anak Ko’ is out 23rd August via Lucky Number. DIY
â€œI remember thinking, am I gonna be remembered as this dude who dances around the stage like an idiot?â€? - Ed Macfarlane
Sunshine People 52 DIYMAG.COM
When perma-party-starters Friendly Fires started to question themselves, the result nearly finished the trio off for good. Now, they’re (finally!) back with a new album and a renewed sense of purpose. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Phil Smithies.
t’s 38 degrees outside - one of the hottest recorded days in London history - and Friendly Fires are sat on the patio of a cocktail bar in King’s Cross. In theory, it’s the perfect setting for a summit with the trio; from their first emergence at the end of the ‘00s, armed with a flurry of escapist party anthems and wild onstage dance moves, Ed Macfarlane, Jack Savidge and Edd Gibson always represented the musical equivalent of a mojito by the pool. Of course, we chuckle to ourselves as we head to the location, this lot have chosen a midday, sun-kissed bevvy. Will they bring the flower garlands or should we? “I want to apologise before we start that we’ve just got back from Australia and I’m not sure how much sense we’re going to make,” Edd informs us, as we sit down to a table full of oat milk coffees and exhausted faces. The band, it turns out, have just been playing on the other side of the earth where it is, logic dictates, winter. While the UK has been attempting to style it out through a heatwave, the most heatwave-friendly band of them all have been playing a festival in bitter six-degree cold. It’s an upside down situation but, as it turns out, the band are probably used to those by now. Though, with forthcoming, long-awaited third album ‘Inflorescent’ (released a solid eight years after 2011’s ‘Pala’), Friendly Fires have fully got their mojo back, for a while the group were dwelling more in the dark than in their customary
bright positivity. “I had these stupid self doubts creeping into my mind. I remember thinking, oh god am I gonna be remembered as this dude who dances around the stage like an idiot?” Ed explains, now capable of looking back with a laugh. “And it took me a long time to realise that’s actually probably one of the better parts of my personality! It took a while to realise that people like it when we put on a show that’s really fun. But at that time, I just wasn’t feeling... I wasn’t feeling fun...”
hen Friendly Fires finished the touring cycle for ‘Pala’ an album that had hit the Top Ten, building on the success of their self-titled, Mercury-shortlisted debut and cementing their place as burgeoning national treasures - there was no big rift, no cancelled tour and nightmare finale but instead a niggling sense that they needed to do something different, something more. “For me, there was probably an annoying egotistical part of my personality that was like, I’m gonna do something highbrow now so I can show people there are other strings to my bow,” concedes the frontman. “Looking back, that kind of cringes me out.” With this in mind, the band began working on new material that, at the time, they cited would be more psych-influenced, noodling and helmed by producer Andrew Weatherall. Yet, every time they would try to get a record together, something didn’t sit quite right. “I think, on two separate occasions, we had 53
four or five tracks that got almost to completion but we all knew they weren’t something that we wanted to commit to touring for another two years,” Edd explains. “There were parts that were good, but it clearly wasn’t the right step and you can only muster that enthusiasm to get writing so many times before you have to admit that you’re forcing it too much.”
new, matured proposition as they’d originally intended, it’s an album that revels in all the dichotomies that made them such an uncategorisable thing from the off - a band operating in the indie realm that made something more akin to dance music; a group who “could play Reading and then play Creamfields”.
“There were repeated attempts at getting the lawnmower started, and each time it’s a bit more like, oh well this isn’t working,” nods Jack, as Ed picks up: “There was definitely a moment when we came to terms with the fact that we might never write another record, which was pretty depressing.” “I remember thinking, this is ridiculous because we’ve definitely got an audience and there’s demand to see us and demand for a record. We should get something together and put it out and we’ll get over this period of slight lack of inspiration by just doing something,” Jack continues. “But that didn’t happen.”
More than that, though, it’s an album that has learned to embrace the power of positivity that’s always propelled the band. Again, it’s something they rediscovered by looking back. “I found myself revisiting a load of positive hardcore records that I used to listen to as a kid,” enthuses Ed. “That’s a key component of what we’re about as a band; we want people to come to our gigs and be together, and celebrate an experience. Those songs weren’t so much about changing the world around them, they were about changing the world within and changing yourself. In order for us to have a positive impact, it required me to get back into that mindset.”
Instead, the band went off to “their own separate worlds” for a while. Each was involved with musical side projects, the Ed(d)s collaborating with other artists and Jack DJing
Re-entering the live ring at the end of last year with a big, celebratory Brixton Academy comeback show, it’s clear that now – in a time of political turmoil and young,
“I just wanna write music that has some sort of positive ripple effect.” Ed Macfarlane with Foals’ Edwin Congreave under the moniker Deep Shit. But it was only when they realised that this slow separation was at the heart of their problems, that Friendly Fires began to merge together again. “Us meeting up every month in the studio and trying to give it a go just wasn’t cutting it,” says Ed. “Then your faces only remind one another of it not working as a band as opposed to a friendship,” laughs Edd, with a grimace. “You have to stamp out that Pavlovian response to your friends...” And so the trio decided to decamp back to the garage in St Albans where it had all began and, from there, emerged ‘Inflorescent’.
hough the record is perhaps a slightly more streamlined take on the ones that have come before, cutting straight to the hooks without the “density” of some of their previous work, the band’s third is undoubtedly a pure, unashamed Friendly Fires record. Rather than re-entering the ring a wholly
rightfully angry musicians reflecting that crisis – there’s a need for bands like Friendly Fires, ones to provide temporary, glass-half-full respite, more than ever. And, from the carnival rhythms of first single ‘Love Like Waves’ (the first track they penned that really stuck) to the slinking boogie of ‘Offline’, to the glitchy tropical ‘Almost Midnight’, ‘Inflorescent’ is an album that lands in a blaze of sunshine and inimitable good vibes. “I remember after the [Brixton] gig being in so much physical pain, just aching so much because I put so much into it,” laughs the singer of his first forays back into Friendly Fires’ trademark onstage boogie. “But I feel like there are people that wanna see that. It feels amazing to know the crowd are [still] on our side. I just wanna write music that has some sort of positive ripple effect.” ‘Inflorescent’ is out 16th August via Polydor. DIY
EP Out Now
Don’t delete your dating apps just yet: on second album ‘forevher’,
Shura is back and armed with a testament to
the power of very modern romance. Words: Elly Watson.
t is a truth universally acknowledged that dating apps are, more often than not, The Fucking Worst. If you’re not being ghosted or getting catfished, you’re having to find subtle ways to wheedle out someone’s height or trying to battle through shit ‘two truths, one lie’-style opening icebreakers. Imagine, then, having the added pressure of a famous face, and knowing that, with every match, your profile is probably being excitedly shared around multiple fan WhatsApp groups.
It’s a waking nightmare that happened to Shura IRL one night, while on tour in Boston. “I was recently single and a fan screenshotted my Tinder and put it on Twitter like, ‘Hope we match!’,” she reminisces. “I was mortified!” Relaying the horror to a friend, they told the electro-pop singer about celeb-friendly dating app Raya, which has a strictly no screenshotting rule, and she signed up immediately. Passing through New York on the way back home to London a while later, she matched with someone who would turn out to form the inspiration for her upcoming second album, ‘forevher’. The record documents Shura falling in love in a very 2019 way; over the phone, while on opposite sides of the world. “It got to the stage where we were texting all day every day, and then it went to phone calls,” she smiles. “I think when we got to four or five-hour-long phone calls every few days, I was like, ‘We should probably go on a date, I’ll fly out’. So I set up a bunch of meetings in New York and called all of my friends out there to be my backup in case it went really badly. But obviously, it went really well and we’re still together!”
“sexy sex jam” about the initial thrill of a new relationship when all you want to do is bang. As the album moves along, feelings evolve past lust, with tracks like ‘princess leia’ exploring the idea of having so much more to lose; the ethereal ‘tommy’, meanwhile, dives into the idea of “forever” in reference to love. And her girlfriend’s favourite track? Upbeat ‘80s-esque pop bop ‘the stage’, which is about their first date at a MUNA concert. Where Shura didn’t use gender-specific pronouns in her debut, ‘forevher’ instead is an unfiltered look into her real-life relationship and the fact that she’s queer. “When you’re in love, you’re almost more vulnerable than when you’re talking about being vulnerable. It’s the most vulnerable position you can be in. It felt important for me to be specific and to use pronouns because I was talking about a love affair that I was going through,” she explains. “When you’re talking about breakups, I feel it’s almost as if you’re talking not only about that breakup but about every breakup you’ve had. So that’s why I’ve used pronouns. I think it is a queerer record, and a camper record. It’s not as bombastic in some ways, but it’s definitely more camp and theatrical and more confident. I’m always going to write about my experiences and they just so happen to be queer.”
“I think it is a queerer record, and a camper record.”
Thematically, the record stands in stark contrast to 2016 debut ‘Nothing’s Real’, which charted the singer’s difficult breakup with heartbreak anthems that would pull on even the harshest of heartstrings (if ‘Touch’’s central lyric “I only need you to be friends with me” doesn’t get you, you must be made of stone). “About three quarters of the way through [writing ‘forevher’] I was like, ‘What the fuck? How did I go from writing a breakup album to being like, ‘I’m so in love’? Like, what the actual fuck?’,” she laughs. “I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll whack two songs in there about being mortal, and death, and questioning my existence just for good measure.’ Something sad in there so that people aren’t disappointed that I’m really happy now.”
Throughout the new record, Shura depicts the emotional rollercoaster of catching feelings over a sultry R&B-flecked synth soundtrack. There’s ‘religion (you can lay your hands on me)’, the first song she penned for the album, that’s a
But what does her girlfriend/muse think about the album? “We kept joking that I’m that really creepy girlfriend who writes an album about you,” Shura giggles. “I think she really likes it. What is interesting is that we can both listen to it now and it doesn’t really feel like it’s about us because it’s done. There’s no weird awkwardness; it’s just its own thing now. When you finish something it’s sort of like you relinquish control, and it belongs to other people.” Time to get right-swiping. If there’s any proof that dating apps can actually work, ‘forevher’ is perfect evidence. ‘forevher’ is out 16th August via Secretly Canadian. DIY
ON THEIR MUCH-LOVED DEBUT, WHITNEY EMERGED AS A SWOONING SOUNDTRACK FOR YOUR HEART; RETURNING WITH NEW LP ‘FOREVER TURNED AROUND’, WE FIND THE DUO IN A MORE REFLECTIVE, MELANCHOLY STATE OF MIND - BUT STILL FINDING BEAUTY IN WHAT MIGHT SEEM BLEAK. Words: Thomas Hobbs. Photos: Fiona Garden.
“We want people to see the beauty in getting old.” Max Kakacek 58 DIYMAG.COM
ith its winsome falsettos and sun-kissed guitars and horns, Whitney’s debut ‘Light Upon The Lake’ was the perfect soundtrack to summer 2016. Though songs like ‘Golden Days’ and ‘No Woman’ dealt in themes of heartbreak and isolation, the band found a way to translate this pain into something warm and fuzzy; live, the result was like a reassuring embrace from a friend, one who’d seen some shit but come out on the other side.
But if ‘Light Upon The Lake’ was the perfect music for a summer road trip or a sunset festival cuddle, the band’s new album ‘Forever Turned Around’ feels more like the morning-after hangover. Where before there was a soothing nostalgia that permeated throughout, now there lies something heavier and more melancholic, an atmosphere that moves from anxiety to just plain paranoia. “After the first album, we spent two years on the road and it took us a long time to feel like human beings again,” admits Whitney’s guitarist Max Kakacek, sat on a vintage sofa in a plush East London hotel room where we meet today. “There is a general anxiety in America right now [that didn’t exist when we wrote ‘Light Upon The Lake’], and if you’re writing songs it will naturally invade your space. There’s more restlessness on this record and I’d say it’s because of that backdrop.” “One of my favourite lines on the record is ‘I don’t feel alive, but I’ve been living’, and that’s something that could apply to both our countries right now,” interjects a very
hungover Julien Ehrlich, the band’s drummer and lead singer, his hoarse voice in dire need of a hot cup of honey and lemon. “In Britain you’ve had Brexit and in America we’ve had Trump, and we wanted this album to speak to those anxieties and how disconnected some people feel from reality right now. “If you pay close attention to the lyrics then this record might take you to a dark place, but that’s what we wanted. We couldn’t just make the same album again. We wanted to show people that when they are in that dark place, in a relationship or whatever, they’re not alone. This might not be the most immediately rewarding record, but it grows on you and as you go through some shit in your life, it will be there waiting for you at the end of the day.”
t’s been a long road for Julien and Max, the core songwriting duo at the heart of Whitney’s seven-man live operation. Their previous band Smith Westerns’ unique brand of lo-fi rock was at times, particularly on career-peak second album ‘Dye It Blonde’, a giddy rush of a listen - a psychedelic ode to the ‘70s, filled with sentimentality and swoons. But it was far less harmonious interpersonally, the pair describing their old bandmates as “kinda toxic” in a previous interview with DIY. This current iteration of Whitney, however, is evidently a much tighter band than Smith Westerns ever was, and that ease is reflected all over their latest work.
“We just all understand each other so well,” nods Julien, who points to new two-minute track-cum-jamming-session ‘Rhododendron’ - a charming stoner rock interlude
Fun fact: Max is actually just Julien’s ghost.
“As you go through some shit in your life, [this record] will be there waiting for you at the end of the day.” - Julien Ehrlich 60 DIYMAG.COM
which sees the band playing the fuck out of guitars, drums and trumpets - as proof of the band’s sonic chemistry. “We actually recorded that track while high on magic mushrooms. The conflicting instruments and sounds you hear were supposed to represent all the fun colours you see on ‘shrooms [that all somehow mesh into one].” In the same way that psychedelic drugs can help you come to terms with the idea of your own mortality, album highlight ‘Day and Night’, with its beautiful strings and introspective lyricism (“There’s an end in sight!”) is about helping Whitney fans come to grips with the concept of growing older. It feels like it was made for someone staring down the barrel of 30 and in dire need of some comfort. Max explains that the band were using the studio as a confessional booth, but were mainly trying to channel the emotions of feeling burned out while playing to kids a million miles away from home in Chicago. “It is hard to make music that’s therapeutic, so we’re really proud that we could do that with that particular song,” he says. “If you are struggling with the idea of growing older or being away from home, or whatever, then those kind of songs will make so much more sense. This is definitely our coming of age album. We want people to see the beauty in getting old.”
o often rock music deals with the idea of falling in love but, with ‘Forever Turned Around’, Whitney are more concerned with love withering away. First single ‘Giving Up’ and the somber ‘Used To Be Lonely’ deal with how hard it is to maintain a healthy relationship when it feels like your partner is gradually slipping out of your grip. On the latter, Julien mournfully sings “I’m afraid you’re letting go”, and you can feel his despondency right there in the pit of your stomach. “‘Used To Be Lonely’ definitely deals with the negative aspects of being in a stable relationship and the anxiety that comes along with it,” nods his bandmate today of the track. The record as a whole, meanwhile, speaks to the idea that just because something looks beautiful from the outside - whether that’s a relationship, a country or even a band on tour - that doesn’t mean that it’s not sometimes ugly on the inside. On ‘Valleys (My Love)’, Julien tellingly sings about “Pretending everything is alright / But we’ve been drifting apart for sometime”. The idea of living good yet still feeling disconnected from your surroundings or partner is a constant theme.
Whitney sound unapologetically like a group in love with the sound of the ‘70s, so we forced them to talk about how they feel about modern music. What are you listening to right now? Max: On the songwriting side, Jessica Pratt is pretty amazing. She is so mysterious and brilliant. Her albums are timeless and I’m inspired by that. Julien: I’ve always been a big fan of Young Thug. The different textures to his flow are crazy. Are you a fan of the emo wave that’s crept back into pop? Julien: Definitely. It’s a shame we lost Lil Peep. But in the same way there’s been an emo revival, can guitar music be reborn in the mainstream? Max: Guitar music can come back, but only if it’s part of another genre. Like, it could become a facet of rap or something. Julien: I don’t know if I agree. There will be a standalone guitar revival just like there’s been an emo revival. It’s just a matter of time. Can we expect Whitney albums when you’re both pushing 60? Max: What is that Simon and Garfunkel song? Julien: ‘Old Friends’!? Max: Yeah, that will be us.
But if this all sounds rather heavy and a radical departure from the Whitney the world fell in love with then, rest assured, their trademark joyous, seratonin-boosting flourishes of folk pop are still present. Songs like ‘My Life Alone’, with its ‘Hey Jude’-esque “na, na, na” section, will surely prompt mass sing-alongs on live stages, while the band still know when to throw in a bouncy horn section just as things are threatening to get too serious. “The new album definitely has lighter moments,” says Julien. “‘Giving Up’ is about finding optimism, that there’s this brighter side to the aspect of giving up. A song like ‘My Life Alone’ reflects the fact we’re both students of 1970s songwriting. A lot of the time it is that era that speaks to us the most. “With songwriters like Neil Young, you could strip down his songs to their most basic form and they still worked. We intend to do that with this new music. We’d like to tour it without a band and just play it acoustically as a pair.” By way of extra comfort, Julien adds, “I think with album number three, we will definitely swing back into a happier place.” Above all else though, ‘Forever Turned Around’ - an album that both believe marks a maturation in their songwriting - is about ripping up the blueprint of a modern classic and following it with something that sounds both familiar and new. This time, they want to have a real conversation with their fans and go beyond just making them smile. As Julien explains: “There are multiple ways to view the album title. For me, it’s like how, when you were a kid, your dreams were endless. I felt like I could one day be the president, or play pro basketball, but you ultimately reach an age where you realise that’s not going to happen. It is depressing coming to that realisation and having that conversation with yourself, so we want to help.”
ware this sounds like one of the most emo things ever uttered by a human being, he giggles, before adding: “But not even in a sad way! It’s healthy to have this conversation. There’s something beautiful about realising you’re probably not going to grow up like that.” For Whitney, the traumatic coming-of-age moments we all experience are actually among the best; they’re when we feel most alive. ‘Forever Turned Around’ is out 30th August via Secretly Canadian. DIY
It’s Marika’s rawness that makes ‘Any
MARIKA HACKMAN Any Human Friend (AMF)
er third full-length record following 2013’s mini-album ‘That Iron Taste’, 2015’s ‘We Slept at Last’ and 2017’s ‘I’m Not Your Man’, ‘Any Human Friend’ is an unflinching look into Marika Hackman’s psyche. A deeply personal album, it’s honest and bold, seeing Marika embody a sharper sense of self as she dives into remarkably open (read: filthy) experiences in love, sex, pain and everything between, emerging the other side with a hopeful outlook on the future. 62 DIYMAG.COM
If ‘I’m Not Your Man’ was a giant step towards shaking off her previous folk label, its frank and straight-to-the-point lyrics further evidence of Marika’s newfound confidence, then ‘Any Human Friend’ sees Marika taking another massive leap forward. Sure, opening track ‘wanderlust’ may harken back to her early days with its delicate melodies and sugary sweet vocals about heartbreak, but once the synth crescendo creeps up at the it’s a hairraising twist that hints that something special’s about to unfold. What follows are 10 tracks in which Marika shows off a new-found self-confidence after getting over heartbreak.
Human Friend’ such an emotive and compelling album.
The record reflects the strength she’s found in life with tight grungy guitar riffs and soaring synths, the latter showing the singer’s ever-stretching musical limbs. It’s sharp and biting, with the singer’s characteristic dark wit weaving once again throughout the record. Where she previously cloaked her saucier subjects in metaphor (candid ‘I’m Not Your Man’ highlight ‘Violet, for example), her new material instead revels in laying it all bare. She talks openly and honestly about fucking, leaving nothing to the imagination in tracks like ‘hand solo’ and ‘all night’ which respectively talk about female pleasure and a big night-time romp with your other half: it’s Marika’s rawness that makes ‘Any Human Friend’ such an emotive
and compelling album.
1 . WANDERLUST 2. THE ONE 3. ALL NIGHT 4. BLOW 5. I’M NOT WHERE YOU ARE 6. SEND MY LOVE 7. HAND SOLO 8. CONVENTIONAL RIDE 9. COME UNDONE 10. HOLD ON 11. ANY HUMAN FRIEND
As the album closes on its title track, there’s a sense of hopefulness, of coming out of a rough period into a future brighter than before. This is a new Marika emerging from the clutches of a difficult breakup into a more established sense of self. Not so much Marika 3.0 as the Marika who was always there, but tougher, stronger and more triumphant than ever. (Elly Watson) LISTEN: ‘hand solo’, ‘all night’, ‘any human friend’ 63
SLEATER-KINNEY The Center Won’t Hold (Mom + Pop)
Hey, Sleater-Kinney! You’ve been framed!
When drummer Janet Weiss unexpectedly announced her departure from Sleater-Kinney, it was with the explanation that the feminist rock agitators were heading in “a new direction” - the unspoken addendum being that it was one she cared not for. And true, though the band have always mixed punk catharsis with melody, ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ is by far their most stylised, radio-friendly work to date; produced by St Vincent, Annie Clark’s icy sheen and dark seduction is all over the record. Yet this isn’t an album that bends to the mainstream machine, it’s one that uses its tools to subvert even more slyly, soaring and stabbing in equal measure. On single ‘Hurry On Home’ - a sleazy, prowling thing - they use insults previously levered at them as a chorus (“Unfuckable, unlovable, unlistenable”), while ‘Ruins’ uses grizzled synths to paint the apocalypse around them (“Eat the weak... Nothing left but ruins...”). ‘The Dog / The Body’ meanwhile is melodically simple and streamlined, where slinking highlight ‘Bad Dance’ is a party at the end of the world. The soundtrack might have changed, but there’s still plenty of antagonistic glory to be found. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Bad Dance’
THE MURDER CAPITAL When I Have Fears (Human Season)
The first two minutes of The Murder Capital’s debut, ‘When I Have Fears’, are two of the most exhilarating and promising minutes it’d be possible to wish for. Like a caged animal prowling its bars, snarling and snapping at everything in sight, each time you expect ‘For Everything’ to settle into a groove it twists itself to a greater snarl, a harsher bite. There’s light, or at least lightness, to their shade too, demonstrated ably by haunting balled ‘On Twisted Ground’. For all the brimstone and steel, you can still trace each bead of sweat and each individual tear. There’s a very palpable sense that from its exact inception as a concept this has been an album just waiting eagerly to be a classic. Production from Flood, the man who put the pain into Depeche Mode’s ‘Violator’, the hate into Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ and the fury into Foals’ ‘Holy Fire’, is absolutely natural and vital here. It’s a mountain it can take a career to climb, yet it seems The Murder Capital are already peering down from the top, as if they’ve just been there all along. It’s early to say, and its bold for sure, but there’s a fair few legendary bands out there that were never quite as good as The Murder Capital are right now. (Matthew Davies Lombardi) LISTEN: ‘Don’t Cling To Life’ 64 DIYMAG.COM
SLAVES The Velvet Ditch (Virgin EMI) First thing’s first: “cocaine is a hell of a drug / when it’s running through the veins of a smalltown thug” is one of the greatest lines we’ll hear all year (pun very much intended). ‘One More Day Won’t Hurt’, the opener of this four-track almost-surprise release stands up as one of Slaves’ finest songs to date within seconds, its heavy riff an immediate counterpoint to the duo’s flirtation with (shocker) melody on 2018’s ‘Acts of Fear and Love’. The first half completed by fellow screamer ‘It Makes Me Sick’ is literally heavy, stretching Isaac Holman’s screeches beyond their means at points, his usually carefully-channelled anger at boiling point throughout. The second, meanwhile, may show the pair’s musically-softer side - the title track an acoustic number, closer ‘When Will I Learn?’ piano-led - but its weight comes emotionally; as Isaac’s vocals get quieter, their effect magnifies. ‘Acts of Fear and Love’ showed Slaves’ ability to tell everyday stories with style; ‘The Velvet Ditch’ proves they’re capable of doing it with emotion too. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘One More Day Won’t Hurt’
Forever Turned Around (Secretly Canadian)
Q&A Guitarist Laurie Vincent talks the decision to release an EP, the influence of grime, and challenging preconceptions. Interview: Lisa Wright. When have you found time to write an EP?! It was actually pieced together at the end of the album sessions [for ‘Acts of Fear and Love’]. We were making a really conscious effort to make a cohesive record, so we had these songs that we liked too much to be B-sides but they also didn’t make sense on the album. Why did releasing them as an EP appeal? It felt quite obvious to do it. It’s not like we’re just releasing the cast offs; they’re four songs we really loved. Some of my favourite Jamie T songs came from his EPs like ‘St. Christopher’ or ‘Magnolia Melancholia’, so it’s really for the fans I think: the people who are really into it seek out EPs and want to know those tracks. People still seem surprised when you release ballads; how important is that side of the band? They’re the most important songs for me. All the bands that I’m really into, I got into them because of the immediacy and the in your face-ness of them, whether that’s The Cribs or Jamie T or Blur. But the more tender moments are the ones that actually
end up being my favourites; you get into these bands because of their energy, and then they reveal their soft side which is what locks me in as a lifelong fan. Is there anything on the EP that’s a signifier to what might come next? ‘One More Day Won’t Hurt’ came off the back of the excitement of the Radio 1 session where we covered ‘Shutdown’. I decided in my spare time I’d try and make beats. This song came from a beat from that, and we ended up playing it in a session to Skepta - we only did one session with him - and he was really excited about it and that gave me this confidence. It had been in the background for ages and we thought, shall we try and get a rapper on this? Then we were in the studio and we decided to transpose it into our instruments and play it live; we were essentially doing what we did to ‘Shutdown’ but to one of our own beats. Plus when slowthai supported us, it caused absolute terror in the faces of these old punks; it was uproar. So that influence and fresh perspective is something I’d definitely be excited to move forward in.
The success of an album is often about the context as much as the content. Releasing debut ‘Light Upon The Lake’ in June 2016, during a balmy summer with the threat of Brexit fast becoming a reality, Whitney were the perfect escapist antidote: their comforting warmth an aural balm to the horrors around. Three years later however and ‘Forever Turned Around’ - a more restrained, understated take on the formula - feels slightly lacking. The band’s lynchpins Julien Ehrlich and Max Kacacek have described their second as a “wary” record, but that cautiousness isn’t just reflected lyrically; though first single ‘Giving Up’ is full of sepia-tinged sorrow, ‘Used To Be Lonely’ a beautifully fragile thing and ‘Song For Ty’ a tender ode, together as part of one body of work they merge into similar tempos, similar moods. ‘My Life Alone’ has the kind of key change that tugs the heartstrings like the best Whitney songs, but these moments, the ones that really get you, aren’t as forthcoming as before. We’re not asking Whitney to soundtrack a raging rebellion, we just want them to make us feel things. ‘Forever Turned Around’ only partly succeeds. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘My Life Alone’ 65
THE S.L.P. The S.L.P. (Columbia)
Within Kasabian, there’s an established dynamic. Serge writes the songs, Tom’s the cocky mouthpiece; Serge is the musical one, Tom adds the vocal equivalent of a kilo of coke. ‘The S.L.P’ - Serge’s first solo outing - then poses the odd question: what would Kasabian sound like without all the bombast that makes them Kasabian? The answer is somehow simultaneously everything and nothing like you’d expect. The ‘nothing’ is easier to explain; ‘Meanwhile... at the Welcome Break’ is like a shoot out in an underwater Western, featuring slowthai on woozy vocals, while ‘Nobody Else’ begins on piano before turning into a poolside tropical house party bop. And yet - AND YET - tell us that a swaggering banger called ‘The Youngest Gary’ could be written by anyone but Serge and we’ll call you a liar. Playful, weird and genuinely experimental, ‘The S.L.P.’ is a ride worth getting on. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘The Youngest Gary’
With ‘The S.L.P.’, Serge Pizzorno is striking out solo. he tells Lisa Wright about not writing for stadiums, the inside of his head and lesser-spotted Garys. Was there a different idea behind what you wanted to create with this as opposed to with Kasabian? I had this folder called ‘Meanwhile’ and that was the whole reason to make the album, because there has to be some sort of concept. I had these three pieces of music that formed a beginning, middle and end of a story and then I had to fill in the gaps. Everyone has their own movie in their head, and in a way this is the soundtrack to where I am now. I normally just follow the art though, go in and make something and then deal with what it is later, so that’s probably also where this came from.
Was it liberating not having to write every song to fill a stadium? It was hugely liberating, the freedom to explore and go wherever I wanted to. You can really hear elements of my personality in each track; this album is probably what it looks like inside my head.
That said, what’s the biggest anthem on the record? ‘Trance’ is a sophisticated anthem in the way that it’s not necessarily [obvious from the start] but it’s got that huge ending that’s pure celebration. It starts off French sophistication and ends up house, hands in the air, 4am with everyone together. But it gets there on its own terms, that’s what I like.
What track do you think will surprise people the most? It’s difficult because when you think about the [Kasabian] albums so far, they’re pretty all over the place! I don’t really know what people think; I think I’ve based the last 10 years on no-one knowing what’s gonna happen next and this kind of follows in that tradition. Songs cut off in the middle, and there’s Little Simz on there and slowthai, and bits where people will be like, ‘Oh shit! I wasn’t expecting that’.
How did slowthai end up on the record? I went to see him in Birmingham and he was incredible. Again, it’s about getting young British artists that are at the forefront to collaborate with. They’re right at the forefront with music right now, and the whole album has those surprises.
And a 100% strike rate with guests who are nominated for the mercurys! That did make me laugh. It’s fucking great! I’m so happy for them and they fully deserve it.
Big question: who is ‘The Youngest Gary’? Humour is a frontrunner [in my writing]; I have to do things that make me laugh. My friend told me this story that the youngest Gary in Britain is 28 and that just tickled me. Fuck, what’s happened to Gary?! I liked the idea of this Gary walking about Camden like Ziggy Stardust. There are no Garys left!
EZRA FURMAN Twelve Nudes (Bella Union)
JAY SOM Anak Ko
Following last year’s expansive ‘Transangelic Exodus’, Ezra Furman’s latest, ‘Twelve Nudes’, is instead an album of lean and raw rock songs that tackle a tumultuous 2018. In Ezra’s own words “the songs are naked with nothing to hide”. Opener ‘Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone’ immediately fulfils this promise with instruments and vocals set firmly to full-fucking-throttle. It walks the fine line between the abrasive and the anthemic and sounds all the better for it. The thrash of ‘My Teeth Hurt’ is another standout, boasting one of the record’s grittier hooks. However, with this lean and noisy approach comes some drawbacks. There are songs on here that feel like they’re over before they’ve even begun to stick, ‘Thermometer’ a case in point. ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ meanwhile shows what happens when Ezra allows the record to have some space, with restless ideas given vital breathing room to express themselves over a gorgeous guitar line and shuffling drums. It’s a poignant track that shows the songwriter at his best: melodic, thoughtful and beautiful. There are songs here that will stand with some of Ezra Furman’s best work, but sometimes its rapidfire pace makes you wish for that little bit more room. (Tom Sloman) LISTEN: ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’
FRIENDLY FIRES Inflorescent
Most of Melina Duterte’s second album was written in a week-long trip to Joshua Tree - a National Park outside of Los Angeles famed for its out-of-this-world scenery and propensity for artistic inspiration. The record is named after the Tagalog phrase for ‘My Child’, and from start to finish it’s a whimsical journey that’s full of imagination. Lead single ‘Superbike’ combines the swirling distortion of My Bloody Valentine with chart-friendly vocal hooks inspired by Alanis Morissette. ‘Nightime Drive’ sounds like a woozy Mac DeMarco ballad being performed on a tropical beach at sunset. And the chugging ‘Peace Out’ and tender ‘Crown’ evoke the tender, sobering charm of Elliott Smith. Jangling guitar strums are Jay Som’s sonic signature, but with Beatles bass lines, dreamy synth pads and lo-fi micro-beats providing surprises at every corner, she’s impossible to pin down. Call it chill wave, call it dream pop, call her a bedroom producer - this album’s full of enough variety and adventure to make such generalisations moot. A real triumph. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Peace Out’
There was a time when Friendly Fires were one of the biggest bands around. We were treated to two albums of sonically colourful party bops. Then the music stopped. Eight years later, the band have honed those sensational party vibes into something even tighter, for better and for worse. From the opening piano house of ‘Can’t Wait Forever’, it’s clear they’ve truly embraced their over-the-top nature. By the time it moves into the Disclosure-produced ‘Heaven Let Me In’, it’s hard not to be swept up in it. These songs are fine-tuned to the nth degree. However, when ‘Inflorescent’ hits tried-and-tested notes it feels like the band resting on their laurels and overthinking things, rather than letting loose a little. ‘Silhouettes’ takes it back to the breezy, beach club vibe of ‘Hawaiian Air’, though perhaps not quite as successfully. ‘Kiss and Rewind’ meanwhile, their crack at ‘80s R&B, feels flat compared to the extravagance that surrounds it. The band have always been at their best when they’ve thrown caution to the wind; when they try to retain past glories here, it feels lazy. But luckily ‘Inflorescent’ is more the former rather than the latter - audacious and loads of fun. It’s akin to gobbling an entire pack of Fruit Pastilles; colourful, maybe a little sickly, but you sure as hell want to experience it again. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Sleeptalking’
This Is Not A Safe Place
In 2017, Ride released ‘Weather Diaries’, their first new music in 21 years, a polished album that simplified the band’s influential shoegaze sound and focused on taut songwriting. Follow-up ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’ picks up firmly where it left off. ‘Future Love’ features lush guitar strumming and two-part vocal harmonies in a stunning pop moment that ranks among their best work. ‘Eternal Recurrence’, meanwhile, is a heavenly sigh of lilting guitar feedback that feels like it’s turning back the clocks. The album is most interesting when it eschews from the guidelines, though, and no track is more impressive than nine-minute closer ‘In This Room’. Built around a downbeat organ groove, instruments layer upon each other to create a magical atmosphere. And while the album meanders at points to make up a bloated 50-minute runtime, the highlights are worth the entry fee alone. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘In This Room’
!!! are a hard group to pin down. Though they’re capable of at least one absolute banger per album, it’s usually surrounded by aimless filler, and with seven albums already under their belt, that’s a lot of hit and miss. While eighth album ‘Wallop’ isn’t quite the complete package, it’s the closest they’ve been for a while. ‘Off The Grid’ and ‘In The Grid’ bounce with such an addictive ferocity that it invites you to pull out your wildest dance moves. ‘UR Paranoid’, however, as the longest track here, outstays its welcome, sounding like the kind of ‘90s euro techno you’ve spent years trying to forget. Coming after the phenomenal chaos of ‘Rhythm Of The Gravity’, it’s a fall from dizzying highs to rather boring lows. Luckily the euphoric shimmering disco of ‘This Is The Door’ and ‘This Is The Dub’ saves the album’s run to the end. ‘Wallop’ is the most fun !!! have ever been. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Rhythm of the Gravity’
Angel’s Pulse (Domino)
Arriving a year after Blood Orange’s most successful album ‘Negro Swan’, ‘seemingly Dev Hynes has strung together a few unfinished offcuts from that LP and packaged it up as ‘Angel’s Pulse’, yet there’s a lot to love. A wonky, slightly out-of-tune guitar gives the sweet sentiment of opener ‘I Wanna C U’ a rough edge as it underlies the outro’s luscious harmonies. In other spots his love affair with glossy ‘80s aesthetics continues - most prominently on ‘Dark & Handsome’ which features a pitch-shifted Toro Y Moi, and the smooth balladry of ‘Birmingham’. ‘Something To Do’ features some screeching off-kilter guitar play, ‘Baby Florence (Figure)’ is driven by a hypnotic, fluttery rhythm section and ‘Benzo’ is bookended with the sort of manipulated cello sequence that you could imagine Jonny Greenwood presenting to Paul Thomas Anderson in the edit suite. While the mixtape is clearly still rooted in the world of ‘Negro Swan’, ‘Angel’s Pulse’ proves that sticking around in older ground for a little longer can still bear some sweet fruit. (Sean Kerwick) LISTEN: ‘Dark & Handsome’
MODERN NATURE How To Live (Bella Union)
Modern Nature took their name from filmmaker Derek Jarman’s diaries, which he wrote in a cottage on the coast of Kent. This scenic image sums up the duo wonderfully on an endearing debut. The sombre cello introduction signposts the melancholy journey to come, but the real surprise is how rich ‘How To Live’ really is. Modern Nature feel like a long-lost cousin of post-rock pioneers Talk Talk or drone-rockers Wooden Shjips on tracks like ‘Footsteps’, as they combine simple guitars with motorik beats, soft synth pads and saxophone improvisations. ‘Criminals’ is stunning - with a woozy synthesizer line that seems to drift in and out of time. And ‘Peradam’ touches on Radiohead’s chilled-out ‘Reckoner’ for another diazepam jazz daydream. Jack Cooper’s vocals are so understated that for long sections it feels like an instrumental record, but this only adds to the album’s blissful allure. It’s a delicate piece of work that somehow manages to feel fully-formed at the same time. And it’s this contradiction that makes it such a compelling listen. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Criminals’
Taking My Shadow (Dead Nature) When Spring King announced their split back in November it was a genuine shock - no steady decline, no obvious-to-thecrowd inter-band turmoil. They had been, to all appearances, a band on the up. Less shocking, however, is that singer-slashdrummer-slash-songwriter-in-chief Tarek Musa’s first new solo output as Dead Nature sounds, well, very much like his old band. At least for three of this EP’s four tracks. ‘Fire In Your Soul’, ‘In My Heart’ and ‘Pride (Wake Them Up)’ are propelled by the same insistent beat, and possess the same potentially anthemic spirit - just with added keyboard sprinkles. It’s the outlier here that’s interesting - closer ‘Rookwood’ is cut straight from ‘80s FM radio cloth, based around minimal synths. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘Rookwood’
After what feels like an eternity since the release of debut ‘Nothing’s Real’ in 2016, Shura is back with ‘Forevher’, a slick second effort that packs in ‘all the feels’ of a new relationship as well as a bop or two. Returning with a heady pop mix that captures the nervousness, desire and neediness of falling in love, it’s hard not to smile and dance along to such shamelessly head-over-heels sentiments. Catchy as hell and cleverly crafted, tracks like ‘Religion (u can lay your hands on me)’ deliver a synthy Lisa Stansfield-inspired ‘Real Thing’ groove. Bringing back the similarly sexy vibes of her earlier tracks like ‘Touch’, we’re blessed with ‘the stage’ and ‘BKLYNLDN’ that perfectly capture that longing just to ditch the crowd and take your date home with you. Other stellar tracks include, ‘forever’ and ‘skyline, be mine’ which has an almost Tame Impalasounding trippy baseline. All in all, a confident second album that showcases why Shura should be on everyone’s radar. (Kate Lismore) LISTEN: ‘skyline, be mine’
THE FUTUREHEADS Powers (Nul)
Q&A Dead Nature is the new project from former Spring King drummer-slash-frontman Tarek Musa. That’s the who - we also found out the when, where and whys. When did you start planning material for Dead Nature? Since around November last year. I spent the month writing ideas, and came out with loads of material I was happy with. I started to record them in February, and it’s been picking up speed ever since.
When The Futureheads first burst down the door with their debut back in 2004, their angular thrashing and lovable accents formed part of the welcoming in of a new incarnation of indie. 15 years on, with their sixth album in tow, they come bearing a new version of that early potency. After unofficially calling it a day back in 2014, you’d be mistaken in thinking that time in the real world would’ve softened their blow. Instead, their wit is razor-sharp once more - and they’ve got the riffs to match. Opener ‘Jekyll’ buzzes with a dark foreboding, while ‘Headcase’ sees narrator Barry Hyde tackling his own mental health struggles head on. It’s ‘Across The Border’ - the near stream-of-consciousness led by Ross Millard - which hits home hardest. A frenetic diatribe staring square in the eye of Brexiteers everywhere, before gleefully teasing “Wouldn’t it be nice to go on holiday somewhere in Italy / How about a beer in Germany?”, it channels the absurdity of our everyday attitudes and the current political agenda perfectly. An album which proves a bit of time off can make a huge difference, ‘Powers’ sees The Futureheads fight fiercely once again. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Across The Border’
What themes does the EP touch upon? The EP looks back a lot. ‘Fire In Your Soul’ is this huge outpour of emotions that I had towards a friend going through a difficult period. I couldn’t say much else to them but to ‘trust the process’, and so I directed all my emotions towards the song instead. ‘Rookwood’ reflects how I felt growing up. I have these memories of what felt like time standing still, and a lot of sleepless nights that felt like they went on for a lifetime. How has it differed working on your own? In many ways, I come from a solo mindset. My old band started as a solo project and I wrote the majority of the early material, so the transition felt seamless from a songwriting and production point of view. The process can be quite swift - I have my whole studio set up so I can jump from instrument to instrument with little slowing me down which makes writing songs feel spontaneous. 69
SHARDS Find Sound (Erased Tapes)
From the opening strains of the title track, ‘Find Sound’ feels as though you’ve stumbled across something intimate. ‘Dissect’ utilises the group’s twelve voices to create abstract soundscapes, while ‘Beams’ feels heavenly in its choruses despite being distorted through guitar amps. ‘Nebulous’, meanwhile, takes as much inspiration from the intense vocal crescendo of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Star Gate sequence as it does from the likes of Four Tet and Caribou. Somewhere between Appalachian Sacred Harp singing, Gregorian monk chants, traditional Gaelic ballads and contemporary ambient, this is an experience you’re unlikely to forget. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Lost’
TROPICAL FUCK STORM Braindrops (Joyful Noise)
Few bands have the same handle on insight mixed with absurdity as TFS do. But the oddness isn’t limited to their taste for a dramatic narrative, the tracks also work from a rock solid base of riffs, peaks and troughs. ‘Who’s My Eugene’ slinks under the cooing vocals of bassist Fiona Kitschin, while ‘Braindrops’ bounces with Gareth Liddiard’s intense, pacy drawl.If nihilism tends to lend itself to monochrome, then here are four people more than willing to show you a complete lack of faith and hope can actually come with an incredibly exciting palette. (Matthew Davies Lombardi) LISTEN: ‘The Planet Of Straw Men’
BLACK BELT EAGLE SCOUT At The Party With My Brown Friends (Saddle Creek)
On ‘Going To The Beach With Haley’, Katherine Paul finds inspiration in a sun-kissed adventure with contemporary and friend Haley Heynderickx. Its relaxed yet intimate tone is indicative of her second album as Black Belt Eagle Scout, an exploration of love and friendship underpinned by dreamy hushed vocals and gentle guitar tones. On ‘At The Party With My Brown Friends’ anger is replaced with a celebration of community, in part inspired by her father’s native chants heard growing up on the Swinomish Indian Reservation. Delivered with a beautiful delicacy, she attempts to find hope in togetherness, and despite its comparatively positive themes, the record carries a melancholic weight and a knowing wink not least in its title. Yet at its core it’s an album filled with hope. Painting a tranquil image of friendship and family, at times bordering on escapist, Black Belt Eagle Scout finds both the tenderness in companionship and its fragility. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘Going To The Beach With Haley’ @hot4thespot
CRUSHED BEAKS The Other Room (Clue)
For their second album, Crushed Beaks’ sound has been beefed up to create a cavernous, thrilling ride that fizzes with energy from the off: ‘Right Machine’ could well be mid-period Blur, with Graham Coxon’s guitars at their most unhinged and abrasive. But their secret weapon is drummer Tim Watkins, who injects each track with a relentless force. ‘Honesty Box’, for instance, is a phenomenal racket. Unfortunately, this brutal onslaught takes until track 9 of 12 for a momentary drop in pace, which means tracks often blend into the last. That said, ‘The Other Room’ is still a bold statement of intent. (Felix Rowe) LISTEN: ‘Honesty Box’
PRESS CLUB Wasted Energy (Hassle)
Since releasing debut ‘Late Teens’ in the UK earlier this year, Aussies Press Club have graced stages across the country with their explosively emotive performance. Rather than sacrifice this ferocity on record, ‘Wasted Energy’ retains the sheer power of their stage presence. Vocalist Natalie Foster switches up the introspection of their debut to a more outward-looking dissection of the impact of others. The result is powerful. As opener ‘Separate Houses’ bursts out of the gate with the repeated refrain, “I keep on pretending that I’m getting better”, the emotional clarity never waivers. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘Separate Houses’
Q&A Black Belt Eagle Scout’s Katherine Paul explains more behind the themes of ‘At The Party With My Brown Friends’. When and where did you record the album? Between July 2018 and March 2019, at Helio Sound in Portland, Oregon (Chinook territory). What can you tell us about the themes of the record? ‘At The Party...’ is about friendship among people of colour. It is about loving your crew and checking in when times are bad. Existing as a marginalised person is a hard thing to live through and I’ve found that it is easiest to get through when you have support. Support from people who are experiencing the world just like you are, support from your brown friends. I wrote these songs during a time when I needed friends the most and I wanted to share what that time was like for me. This album differs from [debut] ‘Mother Of My Children’ in that it comes from a time in my life where I’m not just thinking about myself. I’m thinking about the vast network of human love produced by people of colour and how resilient those connections are.
Songs From The Limbo Lounge
When The Tree Bears Fruit
‘High Expectation’’s opening salvo of ‘Bad Behaviour’, ‘Don’t Call Me Up’ and ‘FML’ is a solid pop sugar rush. Sure, ‘Don’t Call Me Up’ takes more than a little inspiration from Dua Lipa’s ‘New Rules’, but it’s so brilliantly crafted that it almost doesn’t matter. A perfect pop gem if ever there was one. But the album’s middle hits a serious lull, and all the more hard because of that strong opening, identikit tunes rearing their head to spoil the party. It’s only pepped up by excellent single ‘Mad Love’, which has a catchy pre-chorus guaranteed to set any predrinks aflame. While ‘High Expectations’ doesn’t quite live up to its title, falling foul to a saggy middle run, it does show Mabel has an ear for an incredible hook. Whether she’s singing about messy break ups, mental health or moving on, ‘High Expectations’ is effortlessly cool. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Don’t Call Me Up’
For this sixth WHY? album Yoni Wolf has apparently condensed “the essential elements ... into a stunningly potent musical vision.” The fact that it runs at nineteen tracks, with titles like ‘Narcissistic Lamentation’ tells you plenty about how diffuse his music has always been if this is apparently it at its most concise. It has always involved a blend of synth-driven indie rock and hip hop and on ‘AOKOHIO’, he less brings them together than wanders between them, which means it never quite feels as cohesive as he apparently intended it to be. So it’s a good job that the emotional themes do such a good job of providing a throughline; the album sees Yoni drop his sometimes coy persona of the past in order to let us in on a period of anxious self-reflection. That, not the sonic or visual aspirations, holds the key to ‘AOKOHIO’. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Stained Glass Slipper‘
(Trouble In Mind)
Where ‘No Mind No Money’ struck Beach Baby out as a festival singalong band, ‘Songs From The Limbo Lounge’ has them in search of something more expansive. If that means swapping Hawaiian shirts for crushed velvet suits, then so be it. And like Matt Maltese, a contemporary treading much the same path, they’re doing it all with their tongue boring a hole into their cheek. They take pops at religious encounters on ‘Cherries For My Sundae’ and the crushing effect of the media on ‘Dry Clean’. The glam-rock glitz of ‘Big Wow’ meanwhile, is cheekily at odds with the tale of someone who’s content to live a totally mundane life. ‘Songs From The Limbo Lounge’ constantly threatens to go off the rails but never quite does, each tune just off-kilter enough to keep you on edge. Most of all, it’s fun to listen to. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Big School’
The parsnip is a criminally overlooked vegetable but perhaps it’s time for a reappraisal - its introduction will add bags of character to the average dish. The type on offer here, courtesy of the Aussie four piece, is very much of the honey-glazed variety; slow-roasted for a sweet, caramelised taste. Childlike vocals are delivered nursery-rhyme fashion over jaunty jingles, complete with hammond organ, jangly guitars and repetitive riffs. It’s playful, joyful, surreal and unashamedly whimsical. ‘Taking Me For A Ride’ sets the tone with an infectious wah-wah lick and a neat tempo change, while ‘Lighthouse Reaction’ has a great ‘60s cop show riff. Perhaps not one of your five a day, but definitely one to throw into the mix every now and then. A bit like those sprouts Granny brings out for Christmas. (Felix Rowe) LISTEN: ‘Taking Me For A Ride’
CHARLI XCX Charli
With collabs from Lizzo, Sky Ferreira, Chris, HAIM and Troye Sivan, it’s gonna be pop bop central on Charli’s selftitled third LP. Out September 13th.
GIRL BAND The Talkies
It’s the album literally nobody saw coming (well, except at least some of Girl Band, we’d wager). Anticipation up to eleven, it’s released on 27th September.
LIAM GALLAGHER Why Me? Why Not.
Anyone who caught one of LG’s giant festival slots this summer might want to grab their bucket hat, warm tinny and recreate it come 20th September. Why not indeed.
How Do You Love? (Warner)
The Regrettes’ second fulllength is all about finding the bright side of a broken heart. Following a spoken word intro examining what love is, ‘California Love’ enters with vibrant guitars and playful lyrics. The airy summer vibes continue with ‘I Dare You’ - a song with such buoyancy it sounds like it was written in one easy breezy writing session. Further down the track list, the band get rid of someone with the words “you can’t love me, so go love you” and ponder a reconciliation on ‘More Than a Month’. Unfortunately, none of the later tracks hit with the same urgency as the first few. The album is a fun listen, still, and one that encapsulates that Polaroid summer we’re all after. (Eloise Bulmer) LISTEN: ‘California Love’
THE HOLD STEADY
Thrashing Thru The Passion
(Big Scary Monsters)
Fionn Regan hasn’t really ever wandered too far off the stylistic beaten track, and while he’s clearly got his particular palette nailed, there’s often the sense that he’s happy to stay within the boundaries of it. Occasionally, he challenges that view, particularly on ‘The Ocean Wave’, but elsewhere, though, it’s difficult to shake the feeling on the likes of the upbeat ‘Brass Locket’ or the barely-there ‘Hunting Dog’ that this is territory he’s long since claimed, and that as good as he is at it, the law of diminishing returns is bound to kick in eventually. Instead, what we need more of is the likes of ‘Glaciers’, all implied menace and thick atmospherics. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Glaciers’
Layered with fuzz, laced with optimism and packed with pop punk hooks, Gender Roles’ debut full-length, ‘Prang’, is a deliciously satisfying offering. A record which sees the Brighton trio veer from huge scuzzed-up choruses (‘You Look Like Death’) to taunting swagger (‘Deep End’) via a touch of youthful introspection (‘Hey With Two Whys’), it’s an album that manages to feel nostalgic but youthful all at the same time, giving their contribution to the genre an addictive twist. A boisterous first full-length that sets out their stall as some of the UK’s most vibrant young punk prospects, this is a glorious, noisy delight. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘If This Is Your War’
You’re safe with The Hold Steady: press play on any of the six-piece’s now seven albums, and it’ll be a assembly of characters’ tales told via tracks which on first hearing sound jolly enough, but thanks to both the lyrics and frontman Craig Finn’s burr, are awash with more than a tinge of melancholy. Half of ‘Thrashing Thru The Passion’ has already been released, so it’s only half the record that’ll be new to any fans - and seven albums in, The Hold Steady are very much a band for their existing fans. There’s not anything here, whether the bar-room blues of ‘Blackout Sam’ or the jazz hands-aloft ’T-Shirt Tux’ that’s likely to win outsiders over. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘Blackout Sam’
Back to the
With The Regrettes
Q1: Where did you record the album?
Q3: Draw yourselves in ‘Dress Up’.
Q2: What do your ‘California Friends’ look like?
Q4: What kind of thing would you ‘Dare You’ to do?
TRUCK Hill Farm, Steventon. Photos: Emma Swann.
YOUR HIGHLIGHTS Lily, Nottingham: I’ve got to say Two Door because the energy in the crowd was amazing. This was the best time to see them because the crowd were so into it!
Connor, Hackney: Slaves! It was amazing, they looked like they didn’t have a clue what was going on. I think it’s the most hot I’ve ever been.
Emma, Tooting: Kate Nash was a feminist icon. She talked about recycling, she talked about her dog, and about how men should cry more. She was incredible.
ow in its 22nd year, Oxfordshire weekender Truck has become one of the country’s best small festivals. You can still do a lap of the site in under 10 minutes but, though its geography may be small, its dreams are clearly far larger, and this year they’ve excelled themselves. For years, the festival have been wanting to bring back their area’s newest kings. And now finally, more than a decade since they last graced this turf, Foals return to lay waste to the motherland. Before that, however, Thursday night finds a small but perfectly formed line-up gracing the Market Stage for the festival’s warm up party. It’s been a long day of record-breaking heat, and we’re still in the mid-30s as Kent noiseniks Lady Bird incite early-evening chaos. By the time headliners Slaves arrive, temperatures inside must be reaching the 40s and a steady stream of dripping wet festival goers gasp out of the tent from start to finish. Come Friday afternoon there’s still a gloriously sweaty time to be found courtesy of IDLES. Though a twofestivals-in-one-day dash means the band are on early, there are no half measures on show today. “Fuck Conservative Party politics, the racist greedy cunts. Fuck Boris Johnson. These parties’ policies are gonna kill our children,” decries Joe Talbot between a set of tracks that embrace everything that’s missing in the current government: unity, compassion and moral fibre. Coventry’s FEET, meanwhile pack The Nest out to bursting, a raucous pit going on to their tongue-incheek, baggy indie. Over on The Market Stage, indie’s own in-house jester Fred Macpherson of Spector is in court. The band are greeted by a full, roaring tent of giddy superfans. It’s left to Wolf Alice to close out Friday night and what they lack in new material (of which there is none), they more than make up for with a set that’s tight but loose and somehow, despite now being in ‘Visions Of A Life”s third year of touring, still exciting. On to Saturday and any lingering hangovers are quickly blasted away thanks to King Nun, inciting many a circle pit. Over on the Main Stage, Brighton’s FUR fend off the drizzling rain with
the power of nostalgic, ’60s-soaked good vibes. Sports Team’s Alex Rice has got himself a natty new shirt that’s essentially the uniform of a Newcastle United-loving matador and it’s a weirdly appropriate reflection of the band themselves: ridiculous, baffling, shouldn’t work and yet undeniably does. Meanwhile, with Shame forced to pull out after getting stuck in Japan, Mystery Jets pick up the last-minute baton and prove why they’re increasingly settling into national indie treasure territory. At their first Truck appearance when they were “about 16”, Foals ended up getting upgraded due to fears the small stage wouldn’t cope; now, they’re headlining. But really, the Main Stage here still feels too tiny. Foals know it’s a special one, too. “I hope you’re all staying hydrated. I want good behaviour, but spicy behaviour,” winks Yannis Philippakis before the band return to deploy rarely-played early single ‘Hummer’ as a nod to their longstanding bond with the festival. It’s a return that’s been a long time coming, but boy was it worth the wait. For any bleary day-three heads going on, Sunday begins in suitably un-punishing style with The Japanese House, while it’s a determined Whenyoung that take to the Market Stage, singer Aoife Power looking like she’s about to burst with sheer emotional effort. There’s a queue round the block to get into The Rockin’ Chair barn. Why? Because now it’s time for Barryoke. Yes, it’s Barry from Eastenders doing karaoke. Yes, it’s ridiculous. Yes, it’s fantastic. Two Door Cinema Club might still be tickling the highs of the big leagues but they too seem like a band who’ve learned to loosen up and have a laugh. They’ve had the crowd-pleasing hits for years, but now the trio have the stage craft and the sparkle, too. And as the massive crowd collectively go nuts, it’s proof of the magic of Truck’s ethos: rather than changing to follow passing fads and scenes, it knows what it is (a big indie mecca) and curates it perfectly. Long may it continue. (Lisa Wright)
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
MAD COOL Valdebebas-IFEMA, Madrid. Photo: Louise Mason.
fter increasing its capacity three-fold last year, Madrid weekender Mad Cool is back for 2019, hotter than the sun and with an equally scorching line up at its fingertips.
the back of the stage, while in front of them Billy Corgan, in floor-length black robes, is only marginally less terrifying. Theirs is the kind of show that only music’s giants can pull off: utterly confident and inimitably themselves.
Take Wednesday’s ‘welcome party’. Metronomy kick things off with the kind of playful, deft set that belies their status as relative stalwarts in the indie game. Spanish hero Rosalía, meanwhile is greeted like a god. Arriving with a full on stadium pop show - choreography! Backing dancers! Fancy podiums! - the spectacle is the most impressive of the day.
If most festivals tend to start the day with newer, less obviously crowd-baiting talents, then Mad Cool’s final night dispenses with any such warm ups. Stepping onto the site, we’re greeted immediately by Johnny Marr, belting out Smiths hits on the Main Stage: a frankly ridiculous way to begin a day.
Onto the first festival day proper, and opening with the insane quadruple-hitter of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, ‘Gimme Danger’, ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Lust For Life’, Iggy Pop obviously has more than enough of a back catalogue to triumph in any any setting. But it’s the sheer joy that comes from the 72-year-old that makes him godly. There’s something so free and weirdly childlike about the punk icon - except, of course, the notorious wildcard is anything but innocent, and he spends other moments in the set lobbing his mic stand off the stage, swearing and reclining in a leopard print chair, sipping from a goblet of booze. A true hero. Day Two, and whether you want wholesome, fluorescent-clad shiny pop or a towering giant that looks suspiciously like Gru from Despicable Me, there’s something to cater for every whim. Sharon Van Etten kicks things off, her dark, atmospheric rock enveloping the crowd like a cocoon. Miles Kane, in an orange bucket hat, striding out to Rod Stewart’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ is enough to keep us walking as far away in the opposite direction as possible, where we find Marina providing an equally singular show. Her crowd isn’t huge but by god it’s passionate. Later, the entire festival is gathered at the altar of The Smashing Pumpkins. It’s a gloriously theatrical one: three enormous, nightmarish inflatable clown figures tower at
Cackling, coughing and declaring that she sounds like “the fat Exorcist”, Gossip’s Beth Ditto is relentlessly hilarious. “I really hope The Cure ask me to sing their whole set tonight; it’s gonna be beautiful,” she smiles, before putting on her Exorcist voice again and attempting a version of ‘Lovecats’. But, of course, the reunited trio aren’t just about laughs and, taking us back to their heyday with ‘Standing In The Way of Control’, they’re still an absolute force of nature. As the festival winds its way to a close, there’s just enough time to stop in with Robyn, who’s draped her stage in billowing white fabric and a giant pair of entwined hands. It’s like heaven, deconstructed, and as she builds through the set, eventually climaxing in the communal emotion of ‘Dancing On My Own’ and an encore of ‘With Every Heartbeat’, it’s the perfect visual representation of the soul-cleansing perfect pop she’s become the master of. (Lisa Wright) IGGY POP
Dan had fundamentally not understood the physics of ladder-climbing.
CITADEL Gunnersbury Park, London. Photo: Ben McQuaide.
elebrating their second year at Gunnersbury Park, it’s another scorcher of a day for Citadel 2019. And while Catfish and the Bottlemen feel a bit at odds with the headliners that’ve come before them, it’s the acts lower down the festival’s line-up that really whip up a storm. After the bonkers frenzy of Brightonians Squid warm things up on our own DIY stage, The Murder Capital are .a darkly cool prospect in contrast to the sunny warmth outside of the tent. Sharply dressed and atmospheric to the last, tracks like ‘For Everything’ thrash into intense life. The Irish quintet may still be a young live band, but already their slick and moody set feels electrifying. Meanwhile, over on the Main Stage, Dream Wife are a bundle of frenetic energy; veering from the powerful sugary pop of ‘Somebody’ to the still-ferocious ‘F.U.U’, the trio have become an addictively giddy force to be reckoned with. Having already made their mark on countless festivals across the world so far in 2019, it’s no surprise that Fontaines DC’s set really feels like a moment today. Masters of cadence and pace, cuts from across their debut are met with triumphant raised voices, while frontman Grian
Chatten moves slickly between the urgency of ‘Hurricane Laughter’, and the simple chant of ‘Sha Sha Sha’. The kind of band you can barely tear your eyes away from, they’ve fast become both a menacing and enticing beast. Friendly Fires, it has to be said, are an entirely different offering. The multicoloured joy of ‘Jump In The Pool’ and ‘Paris’ are just as infectious as when they first bothered indie discos over a decade ago, while newer cuts such as ‘Love Like Waves’ shimmer in the summer heat. Throw in frontman Ed MacFarlane’s obnoxiously-good dance moves, and there’s no man left stood still by the time they’ve finished up. Fresh from the release of third album ‘Doom Days’, Bastille are no strangers to entertaining the masses and their evening slot tonight is suitably epic. New cuts ‘Joy’ and ‘Million Pieces’ are suitably exhilarating - in very different ways, mind - but it’s the sheer unadulterated glee with which the Citadel crowd launch into the ‘ey ey ey ey oh’ of ‘Pompeii’’s opening gambit that really warms the cockles. Throw in the fact that it’s frontman Dan Smith’s birthday - Bastille Day itself - and it’s a recipe for all-round festival success. (Sarah Jamieson)
POHODA Letisko Trenčin. Photo: Emma Swann.
s the sun goes down on Pohoda’s opening night, the excitement is palpable. For the majority here, it’s their first time seeing The 1975, so when the lights go out and ‘PIANO’ flashes up on stage, there are quite a few tears suddenly shed. Matty, George, Adam and Ross then show exactly why they’re headliner material. Kicking off with ‘Give Yourself a Try’, the four piece are sharp and stylish, working the crowd at every moment. Following a particularly emotional singalong during ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ and ‘Somebody Else’ (honestly, name a more compelling thing than 30,000 people chanting “FUCK THAT GET MONEY”), the group round off their set with the triumphant ‘The Sound’. By the time Matty yells “ONE, TWO, FUCKING JUMP!” and literally everyone complies, it’s a highlight nobody will be forgetting any time soon.
Coming out to ‘Rock’n’Roll Star’, Liam Gallagher brings the hits for his headline set on Saturday. “Is it my first time here?” he asks. “Could’ve been back in the 90s…” His own memory might be somewhat dazed - and tonight’s audience might be a far quieter proposition than the fervent British sing-alongs we’re used to - but Liam still knows what the crowd want. Playing classics like ‘Morning Glory’, ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ and ‘Supersonic’, he prefaces newest track ‘The River’ by telling the crowd “don’t be scared, it’s just a tune,” before ‘Won-
derwall’ allows him to take a well earned breather while 30,000 people sing every lyric back. “You’re looking beautiful,” he smiles at the singing crowd, “and I’ve played to some ugly fuckers over my time.” Ever the charmer, our Liam. Closing the night off, Hull’s finest are giving it everything they’ve got. LIFE see Pohoda off with a high-octane bang. As they tear into ‘Popular Music’, the lyric “totally off my face, I listen to popular music’ might be a little too close to home for many right now, but it’s the perfect ending to their fantastic set. (Elly Watson)
Closing the night is fellow Brit and grime legend, Skepta. “Where’s my energy crew at?” he asks throughout, and they’re there in full force, going ‘til 1am hanging off his every word. Smashing through tracks from 2016 Mercury Prize-winning ‘Konnichiwa’ and this year’s fiery ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, it’s an adrenaline heavy set that sees Skeppy showing why he’s still the top boy. It wouldn’t really be a mainland European festival if at one point an impending storm wasn’t rumoured. As Day Two kicks off, the heavens begin to open. Mac DeMarco’s band are prepped for bad weather, taking to the stage in yellow sailor macs (ahem). Starting off with ‘On the Level’, by the time he dives 2014’s ‘Salad Days’ the sun suddenly begins to shine. “We have a rainbow!” the Canadian gleefully shouts. Later pointing out a guy dangling from a rope from a helicopter zooming past (casual), the surreal moments continue as mosh pits form during 2012 hit ‘Freaking Out the Neighbourhood’ and closer ‘Still Together’. After it’s announced that Lykke Li‘s headline set is cancelled, the masses flock to the smaller stages for what are the highlights of Day Two. Death Grips provide an unsurprisingly high octane set, tearing Pohoda a new one as they thrash through an hour of bangers. Across the site, Viagra Boys are also ready to smash it. Once the frontman gets his arse out after declaring “We’re the Vengaboys from Ibiza”, the group jump into set highlight ‘Sports’ and the crowd surfing begins. It’s madness, but it’s great.
“Not now, Matty. I’m a bit busy...”
DOUR Dour, Belgium. Photo: Rhys Thomas.
fter Fontaines DC’s bravado kicks off Dour with a short set littered with crowd-pleasers such as ‘Sha Sha Sha’ and ‘Boys in the Better Land’ (which most of the crowd reel off with ease), the first day of Belgium’s Dour Festival continues more on the side of hip hop and electronic music.
It’s far too early an hour for Vince Staples, whose set of verseheavy, bass-heavier tracks has festival-goers repeating “get the fuck off my dick” well into the night. He also makes the weekend’s first “free A$AP” shoutout; the detained rapper [check official terms] was supposed to perform Saturday’s headline set. Death Grips then made the entire tent bounce, before the sky turns black before gradually filling with green smoke as the crowd assemble for replacement headliners Cypress Hill. It takes just 30 seconds of DJ Muggs’ mixing to prove the hip hop veterans can still wow a 30,000-strong crowd. By the time Sen Dog and Dr Greenthumb roll up, those in front of the stage are basically standing in a pool of second-hand THC. Nineteen classics later, interspersed with appreciation and love from the three members on stage, they sign out to House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’. Day Two starts with Octavian. Floating about the stage, he has a real charisma, oozing the confidence of someone still accelerating in their game. He’s end-to-end, climbing speakers and then leaning off the stage. He makes it feel it’s his own gig, not a festival. “A$AP Rocky went to Sweden yeah? And he got arrested. So, on three say free Rocky yeah?” The phrase is bellowed back out at him. “Fuck Sweden’s police,” Octavian adds. Saturday sees a plethora of British talent across the festival beginning with a soothing set from Tirzah. The London-based artist timidly graces the stage in a baggy jumper and Slazenger tracksuit to deliver a set full of frisson, polite ‘thank yous’ and her hypnotic, sparse tracks which turn the inside of the very big tent into a cave. A punctual crowd are gathered half an hour early for Metronomy, already singing ‘Love Letters’ and whistling ‘The Look’. A quick ‘bonjour’ and introduction of the band by star signs, and they go into ‘Boy Racers’ followed by ‘The Bay’. The sun comes out to listen too. A fairly rapid-fire set sees tunes such as ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘Everything Goes My Way’ lapped up like Vitamin D. Which
is just as well as ‘Reservoir’ comes on to a load of cheers and football style chanting. The dancing doesn’t stop.
As the sound system pipes up for Skepta, there’s an almighty cheer as ‘That’s Not Me’ begins to emerge from the speakers. The massive crowd, caught totally off guard, don’t quite know what to do when the star appears, bursting out from the wings to perform the track proper. It goes off. He keeps the intensity up, declaring “I am your fitness instructor get on your fucking toes” and “Free A$AP, free Flocka,” before going into the absent rapper’s ‘Praise The Lord (Da Shine)’. A$AP fans are in the crowd ecstatic, holding their homemade signs up. He does the track justice too, letting the A$AP parts bellow out on the speaker and coming in heavy for his own sections. We’re then treated to a trio of tracks from ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ which the crowd knows as well as the ‘Konnichiwa’ tracks that follow it. Racing through the first half of the set (he packs 16 songs into an hour, Skepta then requests the stage be bathed in red light. Going straight into ‘It Ain’t Safe’ for a minute, before re-starting it to get the crowd more riled up, the result is bedlam. “We’ll play it twice, gang shit,” he says through a smile, looking over at BBK’s Shorty who he’s also invited on stage to eventually MC over ‘What’s Going On’. The closing stages of the set see ‘No Security’, ‘Pure Water’, ‘Greaze Mode’ and ‘Shutdown’ in quick succession. There’s a circle pit throughout, only stopped to bellow “Dourrrrrehhhhhhhhh” between each track. They’re his crowd now. (Rhys Thomas) 79
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE Hyde Park, London. Photo: Jamie MacMillan.
or this headline slot at Hyde Park’s British Summer Time (her second in recent years), Florence is on top form. Despite declaring herself exhausted after a year-long tour, her swansong performance for the ‘High As Hope’ run is just as hypnotic and emotive as her first; full of energy, running and the ethereal twirling that has become her signature stage-move. Treating the crowd to an eclectic selection from her back catalogue, including throwbacks from debut ‘Lungs’ (which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary) through to her most recent release, it’s clear to see that Florence is still the same South London girl she was before her days as an international icon. There are moments throughout where she expresses genuine disbelief at her environment; the dedication of her fans, her bandmates on-stage and the mesmerising fiery orange sunset across Hyde Park.
The crown jewel is perhaps debut single ‘Kiss With A Fist’, performed for the first time since 2015. Roaring and epic, she ends the track by performing a celebratory stage dive - a nod to her wilder days at the start of her career when she could be seen climbing stages and jumping off speakers. Elsewhere, ‘Moderation’ and ‘Jenny of Oldstones’ (dedicated to Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark) are welcome surprises. Naturally, all the classics get their airtime, with ‘You’ve Got The Love’, ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and ‘Shake It Out’ getting the biggest reception from the crowd. The show is also notable for its 70% female line-up throughout the day, with Lykke Li, Self Esteem, Nadine Shah and more all on the support bill. “We are enjoying a matriarchal experience,” she tells the crowd before adding. “See it’s not so bad… maybe we should do it in other places!” (Ryan Cahill)
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE QUEEN Somerset House, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
f it’s an incongruous thing to find Damon Albarn and his band of doomsday documenters The Good, The Bad & The Queen playing within the confines of the beautiful albeit Very Fucking Posh Somerset House (where beer vendors normally roam free, here they serve Merlot), then it’s a mood that the reunited supergroup are here to cut through. The first half of the set is dedicated entirely to recent album ‘Merrie Land’, and though its Brex-plorational politics have yielded less hits, its outlook feels more pertinent than ever in the wake of Boris. “It’s a heartfelt record about how shit it is, and we can skip it all or we can just get through this because I’m trying to keep it real,” says the rattled frontman at the casual vino sippers in the courtyard getting slightly restless. They get their time when the band completed around the rhythm section of Paul Simonon and Tony Allen - drop the twisted fairground waltz of ‘Green Fields’ and a mournful ‘Kingdom of Doom’. But even the crowd-pleasing moments - a spine-tingling turn by the Welsh Male National Voice Choir; a Cockney knees-up medley near the end - are there as part of the bigger picture. The world TGTB&TQ create is one rooted in worry, of a fear for the present and something of a detached nostalgia for the past. In that sense, Somerset House suits them perfectly - a grand institution, in the heart of the capital, from which Damon can preach his own despairing apocalypse. (Lisa Wright)
IT’S YOUR ROUND A big inter-band pub quiz of sorts, we’ll be grilling your faves one by one.
THIS MONTH: FUR
Location: Truck Festival. Drink: Jet Lager. Cost: On the rider.
The Mighty Boosh 1. What is the name of the magazine that goes out of date every three hours? Murray: [Straight away] Cheekbone. Indeed it is!
4. What does Spider have eight of? Murray: Eight penises. Tav: Eight cocks! We’ll accept either genital terminology. Correct again.
2. What are yetis scared of? Murray: It’s malt loaf. They think it’s mirrors, but then they realise it’s malt loaf. That is exactly correct!
5. The actors who played the goth girls in ‘Nanageddon’ were in a real life band. Name that band. Murray: Hmm, The Horrors are in it, but that’s not them. Tav: Veronica Twins? It’s Robots in Disguise. Murray: I was only about six years old then!
3. What is the name of the Boosh’s resident pink octopus? All: Tony Harrison Of course it is.
1. What type of elephant has the biggest ears? Murray: Indian, that’s what I’d say. Wrong, it’s an African elephant. 2. What is the name of John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction? Flynn: Vincent Vega. Murray: Flynncent Flega over here knows! And he’s correct! 3. Of the Harry Potter book series, which book comes fourth? Murray: Goblet of Fire. Tav: Let’s not be too hasty, but also I think that’s right. It is indeed correct. 4. Name all five
members of the Jackson 5. Tav: Michael, Tito, Jermaine... Flynn: Janet? No. The other two were Marlon and Jackie. Murray: Jackie Jackson?! 5. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, what is the largest Yorkshire pudding ever made? Murray: You know on Bruce Almighty, that big cookie? It’s gonna be bigger than that. Tav: Let’s go for 15 metres. It’s actually a whopping 46.46 metres squared. Tav: Bloody hell, who’s got the time, man?
2/5 FINAL SCORE:
Verdict: “Six out of ten is pretty average. Pretty average - it’s the FUR way!” You said it lads, not us.