“I’ve got s**t on my arm”
DIIV A sea of trouble
“Oh, I’m actually very sad about this”
set music free free / issue 48 / february 2016 diymag.com
mystery jets Turning on an axis
s e g a v a S are the
ROUNDHOUSE RISING DISCOVER NEW MUSIC 17—20 MARCH 2016 FEATURING:
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E D I TO R ’ S L E T T E R The bonkers music world never grinds to a halt, with one exception. Everything stopped on the morning of 11th January as news of David Bowie’s death spread. Pick any of your favourite bands and they’ll be inspired by Bowie. The universal outpouring of grief and tribute that took place after his death was like nothing we’ve seen before. Chances are we’ll never see it again. Head to p64 for our verdict on his closing statement, the brilliant ‘Blackstar’. Our first issue of 2016 is fronted by Savages, a group making iconic moves of their own. New album ‘Adore Life’ is a hardhitting, vital and - whisper it - fun record from an amazing band. Also inside, you’ll find chats with Daughter, DIIV, Animal Collective, Milk Teeth and bonkers newcomer GIRLI, plus all the excitement around LCD Soundsystem’s return. 2016’s already had its fair share of tragedy and triumph. Bring on the next eleven months. Jamie Milton, Editor GOOD 6 Music’s Bowie tribute was incredible radio - the best I’ve heard in years. EVIL If someone wants to send us all to Coachella, that’d be great - thanks in advance.
GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
STEPHEN ACKROYD Founding Editor GOOD Weezer. White album. Three good songs out of three. I’ve got a good feeling about this. EVIL There’s really only one answer to this one, isn’t there? ............................. Emma Swann Founding Editor GOOD Did you know the Dutch equivalent of Aero bubbles are called ‘Bros’? EVIL The Grim Reaper’s had a field day since the last issue. .............................. Sarah Jamieson Deputy Editor GOOD Getting to witness so many people celebrate the life of such an iconic artist, right in the middle of Brixton. Such an incredible sight. EVIL Obviously the event that prompted all of that was heartbreaking to begin with. .............................. Victoria Sinden Contributing Editor GOOD SWMRS’ new album is heaps of fun.
EVIL Picked up a slug with my bare fingers. .............................. Louise Mason Art Director GOOD Keeping all my valuables gaffer taped together so I never lose anything ever again. EVIL Losing everything at the same time instead. .............................. El hunt Associate Editor GOOD GIRLI yelling “yass team!” at Hello 2016, before pelting her audience with tampons and Hello Kitty chocolates. EVIL I’ve just finished M Train. I will never be as cool as Patti Smith. .............................. tom connick Online Editor GOOD Unearthing a ping pong talent (and a mid-rally power-stance) I didn’t know I possessed. EVIL Got over-excited and made too many New Years’ Resolutions. Can’t be bothered to keep them all.
LISTENING POST David Bowie barely left the DIY stereo this month. We picked out two of our favourites records.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) When David Bowie’s best known androgynous alter-ego Ziggy Stardust first swanned onto 70s editions of Top of the Pops in his glitter-paint and tight trews, he caused stuffy traditionalists across Britain to spit out their cups of tea in shock. He also, no doubt, inspired a fair few of them to buy their own leggings.
Let’s Dance (1983)
Co-produced by Chic’s Nile Rodgers, and funkier than James Brown at a slap-bass convention, the decidedly pop-minded ‘Let’s Dance’ surprised even David Bowie with its runaway levels of success.
F E B R U A R Y
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Founding Editors Stephen Ackroyd, Emma Swann
6 MĂ˜ 1 0 LCD SOUNDSYSTEM 14 CHAIRLIFT 1 6 S TA N D F O R SOMETHING TOUR 1 7 PA N I C ! AT T H E D I S C O 1 8 JAC K G AR R AT T 1 9 P O P S TAR P O S T BAG 2 1 D I Y H A L L O F FA M E 24 ARCTIC MONKEYS 2 6 F E S T I VA L S
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GIRLI HELLO 2016 PORCHES CROSS RECORD
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S AVAG E S DAU G H T E R MILK TEETH ANIMAL COLLECTIVE 56 MYSTERY JETS 60 DIIV
REVIEWS 64 ALBUMS 76 LIVE
Editor Jamie Milton Deputy Editor Sarah Jamieson Contributing Editor Victoria Sinden Associate Editor El Hunt Online Editor Tom Connick Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Marketing & Events Jack Clothier, Rhi Lee Contributors Ali Shutler, Amelia Maher, Anastasia Connor, Andy Backhouse, Charlie Mock, Danny Wright, David Zammitt, Ed Cooper, Henry Boon, Jessica Goodman, Joanie Eaton, Liam McNeilly, Lucas Fothergill, Maya Rose Radcliffe, Mollie Mansfield, Niall Cunningham, Nick Pollard, Ross Jones, Tim Lee, Tom Hancock, Tom Walters, Will Richards Photographers Abi Dainton, Andrew Benge, Carolina Faruolo, Hannah Bowns, Mike Massaro, Phil Smithies, Nathan McLaren-Stewart, Sam Wood, Sarah Louise Bennett For DIY editorial firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org tel: +44 (0)20 3632 3456 For DIY stockist enquiries email@example.com DIY is published by Sonic Media Group. 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. 25p where sold. 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 Sonic Media Group 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. Cover photo: Mike Massaro
This is her mĂ¸ment.
From creating electro-pop in her bedroom back in Copenhagen to collaborating with Diplo and performing at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, MØ’s ascent to stardom is well under way. Now, she’s got her sights set on album number two. Words: Will Richards.
“It’s got to be fucking brilliant if it’s gonna last”
here’s no denying that MØ’s trajectory towards superstardom took its biggest step last year when she featured on Major Lazer track ‘Lean On’, which has since, you know, been revealed to be the most streamed track of all time. That’s quite the achievement for Copenhagen’s Karen Marie Ørsted, still only one album deep.
Speaking from Las Vegas the morning after performing the song at the MGM Grand with frequent collaborator Diplo’s group, Ørsted seems remarkably calm about that second album everyone is waiting for. Work on MØ’s second LP has fluctuated in intensity due to her touring schedule, but new songs have been coming ever since the release of her debut, ‘No Mythologies to Follow’ in 2014, and the Dane wasn’t afraid to discard ideas she wasn’t completely happy with. “At the beginning of the year, I wrote a lot of songs that I thought were great, but weren’t so much ‘me’, but now I’ve managed to collect a bunch of songs that show a development, and obviously things have changed, but it’s still me, and you can only change so much in two years.” A certain level of progression has to be expected from an artist who has seen such a shift in her own life over the past two years, but when Ørsted saw the evidence creeping into her songwriting negatively, she decided to go back to basics. “To begin with I wanted to try out some very new things, and work in ways I never had before, but I realised that above anything else I had to be myself through it all. I had to be naked and honest and say what I wanted to say instead of trying to sound like something I thought was awesome but couldn’t relate to.”
The realisation that her ideas and ambitions could change over the course of writing an album led MØ to drop between five and ten songs she’d written over the past year from consideration; it was something she’d never done before. “The 7
“I had to be naked and honest and say
than where that came from, although more happy songs are in there somewhere. The first album had a lot of nostalgic melancholy in its songs, and there are definitely sadder songs I’m writing now, but they’re uplifting. ‘Oh, the world is shit, but we’re gonna have a good time’, you know?” It’s this mindset that makes MØ so refreshing; refusing to be ground down by anything or anyone, she’s transmitted her resilience in the form of a pristine pop song. Ørsted remains tight-lipped on how the rest of the album is shaping up, but emphasises her confidence in herself to take her time and not rush to meet peoples’ calls for her next step. “There’s always pressure. Of course it’s going to be different, and of course someone somewhere will say ‘oh this
What better way to track MØ’s brilliant year than with, er, emoji? MARCH: MØ sings on Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s ‘Lean On’, since revealed to be the most streamed song of all time on Spotify. AUGUST: MØ enters the studio to work on her second album. SEPTEMBER:
MØ watched the total lunar eclipse (probably - tbh we just wanted an excuse to use the best emoji of all). OCTOBER: We’re all taken to the party with the release of new single ‘Kamikaze’. DECEMBER: She performs ‘New Year’s Eve’ and ‘Lean On’ at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo. Ph oto: A b i Da i nto n
first album was only made with one producer, and every song I wrote in that time ended up on the album,” she remembers. “This time, I think I’ve made thirty or forty songs, and have the options now to narrow these down. It’s a different process, but I think you need to try different ways - that’s how you get inspired. It’s only my second album.”
what I wanted
to say.” The idea that her upcoming album is only her second almost makes it remarkable as to both how far MØ has come since the release of ‘No Mythologies...’ and how level-headed she’s remaining while so quickly becoming one of the world’s most in-demand vocalists. ‘Kamikaze’, the as-yet-untitled new album’s barnstorming first single, sets out the intentions of a world-beater, taking the sometimes gloom-tinged pop of ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ and showing it a good time. Album two isn’t going to be all “take me to a party” though, warns Ørsted. “’Kamikaze’ is a very happy song,” she explains, “but I feel like things get a little sadder
isn’t what I expected, this isn’t like [old song]’, but I feel like I’m really being myself and I’m not trying to disguise anything, and therefore I feel confident in terms of being honest in my work. I think it would be worse if I was trying to put up something to try and change my image, and I feel like I’m being truthful in the songs, so that’s a good start.” Despite still being so early in her career, MØ’s already using her experiences in writing and releasing ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ to work out any internal issues with her songwriting process, which she’s now taking
on board. “One of my problems as a songwriter sometimes is that I over-complicate things. I’m going for simplicity. It’s the hardest thing to make something simple though; it’s got to be fucking brilliant if it’s gonna last.” The overwhelming success of ‘Lean On’ has led to a mountain of pressure falling on MØ’s next step, but her insistence in remaining loyal to herself and not playing characters indicates her new album will be nothing if not true. “[Writing is] my therapy. It’s something I do because I need to. It’s my way of knowing myself. The songs come because they have to.” With this outlook, when the songs do come later this year, “fucking brilliant” shouldn’t be a problem. MØ’s as-yet-untitled new album is out later this year. DIY
Out 5th February
YOUR FRIEND GUMPTION
One Touch Is
After months of rumours, LCD Soundsystem are officially coming back for another run. Thousands are celebrating, others aren’t too happy. But great bands are rarely smooth-sailing packages - least of all LCD Soundsystem. That’s the magic of music. Words: Tom Connick.
onfirmed for Coachella 2016 and with more dates on the way, James Murphy’s band of merriment has returned for a stint far longer than the surprise Christmas single they put out late last year. Along with the announcement, though, comes a degree of cynicism from the shadiest of corners. Why are they really back? What’s their end-game, here? When LCD Soundsystem announced their disbanding back in 2011, it was with one hell of a fanfare. Shut Up And Play The Hits, the stunningly shot documentary that followed the 48-hours surrounding their ‘last’ show at Madison Square Garden, was seen by many as the perfect closing statement – an elegant full stop on a career that never put a foot wrong. Passion and instinct dictate a musician’s decision-making, for better or for worse. Breaking up in the first place is undoubtedly a decision that rests on instinct and blind faith – how can anyone ever know if it’s really ‘the right time’ to close the book? ‘Kid A’’s production famously nearly drove Radiohead to the brink, the stresses of their newfound evolution into more
electronic-led work putting the group at loggerheads. Had they pulled the trigger, we’d never have been privy to some of their finest work. Or, possibly, that incredible video of Thom Yorke getting spooked by a bell. Messy stories are part of every band’s make-up – those dangerously-close-to-boiling-point near breakups are only part of it. From line-up changes to cancelled tours, petty arguments of sequencing (looking at you again, ‘Kid A’) to full-blown label disputes, there are dents in every band’s timeline that negate any notion of a perfectly rounded-off story. It’s the roll-with-the-punches, instinctive nature of our favourite bands that makes them such exciting prospects in the first place. Of course, you don’t have to witness LCD Soundsystem’s rebirth this summer – there’s an awful lot of bands on any given festival line-up, and you don’t have to see them all. But to miss ‘All My Friends’ amongst a teary-eyed crowd of your nearest and dearest because you’re unsure of the group on-stage’s motives? That would be one hell of a stupid decision. DIY
THE 2012 cover ptember In DIY’s Se refused to es Murphy m Ja He never feature, e! Se comeback. en! “If pp rule out a ha to n’t going , we’re ng said it was hi et m e doing so “We’re . we feel lik ed at st it,” he l going to do e’s no lega le and ther grown peop do anything.” It all to t obligation ind: “It ’s no a caveat, m There . came with rm fo re ing to like we’re go ing.” Ah, maybe he reform will be no out. did rule it
In a bloo d y hu g e note on th band’s w ebsite e LCD’s retu , Murphy confirm ed rn by sayi ng: “Ther are peop le who d e on’t hate all, in fact u s at who feel very to the ban d, and hav at tached e put a lo of themse t lves into their care of us, wh o feel bet ra coming b yed by u s ack and p laying. W had travel ho ed for or tried to g the MSG o to show, an d w it to be an ho found importan t momen for them t , which n o w feels chea to them pened. I ju st hadn’t consider ed that.”
UK TOUR 2016 08 JAN - Edinburgh Usher Hall 0 9 J A N - M a n c h e s t e r O2 A p o l l o 1 1 J A N - S h e f f i e l d O2 A c a d e m y 12 JAN - Liverpool Empire 2 9 J A N - L o n d o n O2 A c a d e m y B r i x t o n
30 31 02 04 05 06
JAN JAN FEB FEB FEB FEB
L o n d o n O2 A c a d e m y B r i x t o n L o n d o n O2 A c a d e m y B r i x t o n B i r m i n g h a m O2 A c a d e m y Portsmouth Guildhall Cardiff St Davids Hall M a n c h e s t e r O2 A p o l l o
T U O D L SO
ALBUM AVAILABLE NOW 11
Kagoule set to join DIY & Jägermeister’s Curtain Call The Nottingham band will be the second act invited to record, rehearse, play and take their next step on London’s Curtain Road.
uzz fiends Kagoule are the next band for DIY x Jägermeister’s Curtain Call. The Nottingham bunch will record, play live and do all sorts else, all within the confines of one stretch of tarmac - Shoreditch’s Curtain Road.
Curtain Call takes the ‘road to success’ literally by basing itself in the iconic East London area. Home to the some of our favourite labels - Wichita, Bella Union, Secretly Canadian and many more it’s the perfect location for a new band to take their next step. Brighton trio Birdskulls were the first band to get involved in. Now, Kagoule are joining in the fun. They’ll be given a hand to record a brand new track, before playing an intimate show alongside a special guest at the Old Blue Last - we’ll be joining them along the way. Plus, it’s only the second of three shows: Curtain Call will also be taking over another venue and studio on the street in March. The second Curtain Call gig will take place at the Old Blue Last on 23rd February. Tickets are on sale exclusively at ticketweb.co.uk/curtaincall now. Stay tuned for more info, discover the next show’s special guests and catch-up with Birdskulls’ experience over at diymag.com.
Behind the Curtain with Birdskulls: recording a new track at Strongroom Studios
This March, DIY will be joining forces with Generator and taking to the road Brighton noiseniks Tigercub. The Royal Blood-approved trio will be heading up the DIY Presents... Mapped Out Tour, and will be kicking things off at the Bikeshed Theatre in Exeter. There’ll be stops in Bristol, Birmingham and Sheffield along the way during their ten-date tour, which comes to a close in Newcastle on 26th March. Tickets are available at generator.org.uk/mappedout.
MARCH 15 Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter 16 The Louisiana, Bristol 18 John Peel Centre, Stowmarket 19 Arts Centre, Norwich 20 The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham 22 The Cavern, Liverpool 23 The Harley, Sheffield 24 Café Indiependent, Scunthorpe 25 The Georgian Theatre, Stockton 26 The Cluny 2, Newcastle
WHO did DIY find in an East London cafe having a chat about artichokes? It was about ‘Two Weeks’ ago now...
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH... JOHNNY FOREIGNER?
The Birmingham quartet have locked themselves away in the studio to work on a new record. Frontman Alexei Berrow spills the beans. Interview: Ali Shutler. We hear you’re working on a new album. How’s it going? I’ve spent so long in the studio that I realised I had a beard the other day, but everything is coming together. And how are the new songs sounding? Massive. We did three songs the middle of last year and we kept waiting until we had enough to make a record. We have three songs that are pretty much complete, then three or four that have everything but singing on and then some more that are missing bits and pieces. We tried making a board but it looks like a mental game of noughts and crosses but it’s sounding pretty rad and we’re happy. Whereabouts are you recording? We’re just doing everything at our house. It’s just behind The Custard Factory, we’ve got a warehouse in Digbeth. It’s freezing cold and half the roof fell down on another unit a couple of days ago and we’re a little worried. We keep looking up, thinking we see a drip coming from the ceiling out the corner of our eye. It’s a place we can rehearse and means we can have 24 hour access so we can stay and slog it out until it gets boring so we don’t have to worry about paying for studio time or have any of that pressure. That must give you a freedom to push the songs as far as they need to go? Yeah, definitely. Essentially our songs have a pretty basic formula so it’s nice to have the time to try and extend it and to make it more interesting. We probably wouldn’t have that if we went to a real studio. The trade-off is the drum sound isn’t quite as good but they’re not really the things anyone picks up on. If we’re making amazing songs, I think that’s more important than having the perfect, realistic hi-hat sound.
WHICH bassist was debuting his new ‘shaven head’ look during one of our Hello 2016 shows at the Old Blue Last? It was looking positively (giant) peach-y! WHICH red-headed, infamously quiffed pop star was dancing the night away in Brixton, at last month’s street party in honour of the late, great David Bowie? WHICH member of our favourite Birmingham quintet did we spy lurking outside a posh supermarket at Stratford’s Westfield shopping centre?
s Caroline Polachek discusses the most personal song on Chairlift’s new album ‘Moth’, her voice begins to give way. “‘No Such Thing As Illusion’ is the most vulnerable I’ve ever felt. It’s a love song and it was written quite intuitively and just kind of spilled out of me and it’s a song about…” her voice quivers, she pauses, gathers herself… “about sort of accepting the sacrifices of a committed relationship.” She pauses. “Sorry, I’m going to start crying.” She manages to continue: “There’s actually a line in there, and it doesn’t even feel like I wrote it when I hear it, about little simple things like ‘Love can be as simple as your hand wrapped around my waist’ and ‘This ain’t no new car leather, there’s no return it if it breaks. Just don’t go if I get the shakes’.” Her voice starts to break up, “I’m sorry,” she says again and takes a moment. “That song was written around the time that my now husband proposed to me.” She stops, the overwhelming emotion getting too much.
“IT JUST KIND OF
SPILLED OUT OF ME.” CAROLINE POLACHEK
It’s a sense of openness and sensitivity that reflects how emotionally uninhibited a record ‘Moth’ is. One of power and intimacy, of getting
Crying in Public As Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly gear up to release Chairlift’s third album, they prove to be powerful, vulnerable and, most of all, real. Words: Danny Wright. Photo: Emma Swann.
lost in the moment and giving into your feelings while remaining in control: that mood informs the whole record – from the title onwards. “’Moth’ is about a spirit; optimism and vulnerability. It’s about being a delicate thing in a hard place,” Caroline explains. “And also about instinct and following your instinct even if you know it’s not good for you. Intuition and thoughtlessness… about losing control but persisting.” It’s been three years since Chairlift’s last album but it’s not like they’ve not been keeping themselves busy since 2012’s ‘Something’. In that time they’ve collaborated with Beyoncé on ‘No Angel’ (written and produced by Caroline, coproduced by bandmate Patrick Wimberly). Caroline also put out ‘Arcadia’ under her Ramona Lisa alias, while Patrick produced and collaborated with artists like Solange, Wet, Kelela, and Tei Shi. They’ve even found time to build their own studio. “We worked on the album intermittently for about a year and a half,” Caroline continues. “It was a slow process for a couple of reasons, all of which are good. One thing is we built our own studio and we took our time with the acoustics of the room and collecting all the gear we wanted to make the album. And at the same time we were both working on our own projects in that studio and elsewhere.” “We wanted to give ourselves time on this one,” agrees Patrick. “We’ve learnt a lot about how we work together and how we make records and we know it’s nice to push ourselves to do some writing in little chunks and then get yourself back out into the real world and away from the thing and come back to it.” “We gave ourselves time,” Patrick explains. “So if we said, ‘Well, we want bongos on this song’ then we have a whole wealth of knowledge that we’d built up just by testing things. It was all about experimenting with the different equipment and seeing what works.” “It was also the sense of knowing that anything we recorded could be final,” says Caroline. “It wasn’t that we had to demo things and take it to a producer and take it to a mixer and take it to a manager. You never sensed that there was a bunch of experts standing between you and your music. We’ve been doing it long enough that we trust ourselves that if we are excited about the way things sound then that sound will be on the record. It’s
the first time we’ve approached a record knowing that, and I know that sounds very simple, but for us it was a big deal.” It was that empowering and experimental approach which helped them to produce what became first single ‘Ch-Ching’ with its off-kilter beats and brassy flourishes. “’Ch-Ching’ was a big moment,” says Patrick. “The saxophone parts were the first things we recorded in the studio. That actually began as an experiment; just getting to know some of the pieces of gear, and then that actually just became the song. And it’s like what Caroline said - then we knew that everything we tried could be the final thing.” Other tracks like the woozy ‘Ottawa to Osaka’ came together from an experiment, where the duo would work together for 24 hours with no preconceived ideas of what would happen. “We had one week of writing where Caroline and I just came in every morning and saw what would happen if we were to just come in every day, not bringing any ideas with us and just come up with the idea from scratch. Every morning we started a new track and at the end of the day we’d put it away and we wouldn’t let ourselves work on it the next day - we’d just start another one. Four out of the five songs started then made the album.” And with the attention that has been growing since ‘Bruises’ featured on an iPod advert, which has only sky rocketed since they worked with Beyoncé, do they feel more pressure coming back now? Patrick shakes his head. “No, all the pressure comes from within. We always push ourselves to make our new, best work.” “In a way I felt like I could relax after [Beyoncé] happened,” says Caroline. “For one thing it gave me a different view of the music industry - a really open-minded and optimistic one without genre boundaries which is so exciting and liberating. “As an artist you always have this little part of your brain that means you’re always afraid that people are going to find out you’re a fake. Regardless of whether you are or not, a part of your brain tells you you are and people are going to figure it out. Having that happen gave me the feeling ‘Hey, now they know I’m not a fake.’” Listening to ‘Moth’ it seems undeniable: Chairlift are most definitely for real.
Our Lucky Mascot Everybody needs a little company on the road. This month, guitarist John Victor from Gengahr introduces us to the band’s special little on-tour friend. “My long suffering girlfriend got me Gengar when she went on holiday to Tokyo. Two days later we played Glastonbury and he’s been at every gig since (minus one, but that was terrible so best he missed it). He’s been with me in America and Australia as well as numerous times around Europe, the well-travelled bastard. If I’m playing particularly badly he will face plant on my amp to let me know.”
Chairlift’s new album ‘Moth’ is out now via Columbia Records. DIY
DR AW DI Y AN D BU RY TO MO RR OW TO A CL OS E. UR TO DM ’S AN NUAL
G N I H T E M O S R O F D STAN TOUR 2015 “Hey look, I can see my house from here!”
After another whirlwind year, the Dr. Martens Stand For Something Tour in association with DIY comes back to roost in Camden, closing proceedings with one last blow-out in Our Black Heart and two of the UK’s finest heavy bands.
Photo: Emma Swann
t takes one song for Heck to barge their way off stage, tearing up and down the venue like lions on the prowl. By the second, Matt Reynolds has thrown his guitar strap over the neck of an unsuspecting punter and leapt atop the bar, while his partner in crime Jonny Hall looks on with a crazed grin. Later on, they recruit another member of the crowd to act as a makeshift mic stand - “this is a chorus, we don’t do it very often,” they laugh. Lord knows how they manage to find a chorus amongst the thrashing, extreme hardcore they fire out. “Come here,” Matt demands of a man stood at the bar, “You came to see a show.” It’s a heck (sorry) of an understatement. Heck don’t just put on a show - it’s a full on carnival of destruction. The eighth wonder of the world is that Camden’s still standing at the end of it. Bury Tomorrow frontman Dan Winter-Bates can be seen grinning throughout said wonder from the merch desk - as his band take to the stage, they harness that chaos and compact it. Squeezing every ounce of fury onto Our Black Heart’s tiny stage, it’s a masterclass in crushing heaviness. For a band who relish in a guttural stomp, every crunch is pristine, and every
song all the more dagger-sharp for it. Crowd surfers erupt within seconds of opener ‘Man On Fire’. “If you are in this room, you are fucking moving,” Dan announces, like they need any encouragement. ‘Oh Glory’ is every bit as life-affirming as its title suggests, a crowd of the band’s nearest and dearest fans belting back every word, arms aloft. “Everything about this show is fucking crazy; it officially sold out in thirty seconds,” Dan smiles. That fevered reaction threads through everything tonight, as the ground the band stand on is practically worshipped. His demands for a wall of death twisted around ninety degrees are met immediately and without hesitation, and by the time they reach the end of their fire-starting hour long slot - treating the throng with a new track, ‘Earthbound’ to close - it becomes clear that no matter how big the venues Bury Tomorrow play become, there’s something special about their biggest fans being able to see the whites of their eyes. DIY
Cutting Loose Brendon Urie’s releasing his fifth album as Panic! At The Disco and this time, it really is all about him. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
’ve been sitting on this thing for like six months!” laughs Brendon Urie, as he waits backstage at London’s Brixton Academy. Tonight, he’ll be airing some of his new album for the first time, right ahead of its release. It’s not just excitement he’s feeling though. “I’m always anxious,” he confirms. “I’m curious to see what kind of reaction it gets, because I never think about that when I’m writing. I’m anxious in a good way; I’m very excited!” ‘Death of a Bachelor’ marks a new era for Panic! At The Disco; not only is it Brendon’s fifth album, but it’s also the first record he’s worked on completely on his own. “This time around was a lot more fun because I was totally alone,” he assures. “I still had a couple of members wanting to contribute on the last album [‘Too Weird To Die, Too Rare To Live!’], but this time it really was just me. Me writing, me recording and me on the instruments - and I prefer it, honestly.
own sometimes.” Granted the freedom to achieve his own vision, Brendon’s latest effort is a pastiche of his own life and experiences. Not only does the record see him stitching together lyrics inspired by everyday conversations (“‘I’m not as think as you drunk I am’ was something my buddy said at the bar one night, and I thought it was hilarious!”), but the album sees him exploring all manner of musical inspirations, too.
“I WORK BETTER ON MY OWN SOMETIMES.”
“Coming from compromising with three other people and their opinions… not being able to fully do what you want is fun, and it’s different but I much prefer this, where I get to call the shots and delegate my ideas to whoever wants to help. I get to make the final call. I have more of a vision of what I want; I know what I’m trying to accomplish and it becomes easier when I get to just do it on my own. I work better on my
“I like to extend myself a little bit and see what I haven’t done. If it feels new and fresh, it feels like I’m doing a good thing. This time around, I listened to a lot of Queen, Frank Sinatra was a huge influence, a lot of hip hop too.”
“I want to get better at that,” he explains, on channelling his own influences. “That was one thing I wasn’t well-versed at when this band first started. I didn’t know how to sonically, not imitate, but implicate maybe, that inspiration and influence in sound. Now, I think if you hear the title track, you go, ‘Oh, I clearly hear Sinatra.’ I love that. I love being able to, in a way, pay tribute to these influences that I’ve had for a very long time.” Panic! At The Disco’s new album ‘Death Of A Bachelor’ is out now via Fueled By Ramen. DIY
Of All Trades The one-man-band phenomenon is 2016’s choice, but bearded wizard Jack Garratt has been ready for his world domination quest for years. Words: Andy Backhouse.
t’s an odd novelty, seeing Jack Garratt relaxing and being given his own space. Come twelve months, everything he does will be a shot down a camera lens, as paparazzi squabble to snap photos of the world’s favourite new artist. He’ll be mobbed by fans who could eat him out of sheer enthusiasm. But here he is, spending the day in the O2 Arena, a bit like Tom Hanks in ‘The Terminal’. In a few hours he’ll step out on stage in support of Mumford and Sons. In case you didn’t hear - Jack Garratt is the winner of both BRITs Critics’ Choice and BBC Sound Of 2016, and your mum will like him too. And that’s no accident. It’s almost like he’s calculated a perfect formula. “I do think there’s a certain way you can make a hit. I wouldn’t say that’s the same thing as writing a song. We live in a world where there’s two different types of music that exist. There’s tunes, and songs.” Sounds a bit simplistic, but he continues: “There’s a reason why, when someone’s out at a house party, and a song comes on, loads of people go ‘oh my dayz, thasa chooon!’. They don’t sit there and go, ‘oh my goodness, what a fantastically written song.’” But there’s no question about it - the songwriting of Jack Garratt falls into Exhibit B. It’s almost like he’s broken into the mainstream in a trojan horse. You can picture him, in the middle of that house party, stroking his beard at a pop banger. This man is the professor of the club night. But unlike many of his predecessors of the Critics’ Choice award, Jack didn’t have the luxury of etching out his talent at Brit School. He had to discover that for himself. Trial-and-erroring through different bands, from ska through to rock, by eighteen he started producing music for himself. “I’ve always known what I want my songs to sound like. When I was really young and writing music, I always knew what I wanted to put on them.” ‘Phase’ is an apt title for his debut album. With ‘Phase’ seeing
Jack spots a song in the distance. Or is that a tune?
its release imminently, this is the time to feel nerves, but Jack exorcised all those uncertainties ages ago, way back in the studio. “It was a long album to make, and it was difficult - but difficult for the right reasons. I was tired and creatively exhausted at the end of the day. But I’d rather I was tired and exhausted for a job I love, rather than a job I didn’t love. But there’s already the lingering fear that, now he’s happy, he’ll find writing album two even harder. “I was joking with the Mumford boys about this actually. I said ‘If the first album’s this hard, I’ve no idea what the next album’s gonna be like,’ and - I think it was Marcus - he said, ‘Mate, every album’s hard’. And he’s got a good point, because if you’re doing it for the right reasons, and giving it everything that you have, it shouldn’t be different. Even if album one does terribly, album two still has to happen. I’m still going to continue to be a musician. If one person continues to like my music, and I have enough connection with one person, then I’m making music for the right reasons.” Whether you’re playing back his album, or he’s playing the O2, you feel like you’re invited to an intimate performance in his bedroom. Just with 23,000 of his closest friends. If everything went very badly wrong, you know that this is a man who would still be making music, but something tells us Jack Garratt is more than just a phase. Jack Garratt’s debut album ‘Phase’ is out 19th February via Island Records. DIY
“There are two different types of music: tunes, and songs.”
Popstar Postbag chVrches
We know what you’re like, dear readers. We know you’re just as nosy as we are when it comes to our favourite pop stars: that’s why we’re putting the power back into your hands. Every month, we’re going to ask you to pull out your best questions and aim them at those unsuspecting artists. You don’t even need to pay for postage! This month, Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry and Iain Cook are poised with the Qs. When you’re on the road what’s the one thing you have to take with you or can’t live without? Tom Coutts, via email Lauren: Hand sanitiser. Earplugs. Headphones. What was the band’s opinion on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and did you go see it together? John Donnelly, via email Iain: We saw it together and loved it. I have seen it four times now and it just gets better with each viewing. Can’t wait to see where they take it from here. Which body part will be in your next album title? @chvrchead Lauren: Teeth.
What is your favourite book of all time? Nathan, via email Lauren: The Beauty of The Husband by Anne Carson or The Trick Is To Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway. Do you ever consider re-examining old demos from pre-Bones, or do you prefer to move forward? @ ang_trowbridge Iain: It’s nice to have some songs left in the bank after making an album. We generally prefer to move forward but once in a while there’s a song or two that feels like it didn’t get proper attention and we dig it out and steal bits and pieces from it. What music are you listening to right now that you enjoy? Emma Liddle, via email Lauren: I have been getting back into Fiona Apple as I started watching The Affair and she made the title
theme music. I’ve also been really enjoying the latest Hop Along record. Do you keep your tomato sauce in the fridge or the cupboard? @ HDTreatmentBlog Iain: Fridge. What were your favourite venues from your last tour? @mbreton67 Iain: Playing the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles was an incredible experience. Beautiful looking room and the acoustics are fantastic. Also, the Masonic Temple in Detroit was fantastic. Super spooky. Where’s the strangest place you’ve spotted Irn Bru? James, via email Iain: In my hand.
NEXT MONTH: La Roux Want to send a question to DIY’s Popstar Postbag? Tweet us at @diymagazine with the hashtag #postbag, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Easy! photo: mike massaro 19
The bes t new tr acks from the l as t montH
Kanye West – No More Parties in L.A. Kanye and Kendrick - it’s a pairing previously resigned to a hip hop subreddit’s worst fanfic. Add in a sample of Drake’s uncle (no, really) Larry Graham and it’s enough to send the blogosphere loopy. “Please baby, no more parties in L.A.,” cries Ye, yearning to leave behind the glitz and glamour of fame. Joke’s on him though - if ‘Swish’ is half as good as these teasers suggest, he’s only going to get closer to being the God he always claimed to be. (Tom Connick) Creeper – Black Mass ‘Black Mass’ owes as much to Meatloaf as it does The Misfits. Thundering from the off, it’s when Creeper pull everything back that they reveal their winning hand, a subdued, waltzing breather bringing frontman Will Gould’s love of theatrical fantasy to the foreground. “I’m not a dream that you wish you’d had,” he cries, but he couldn’t be further from the truth diving into Creeper’s dreamworld has never been so satisfying. (Tom Connick) Courtney Barnett – Three Packs A Day When it comes to suitable candidates for a Valentine’s Day bae, there are few choices that can compete with a humble pack of instant noodles. That’s certainly the view that Courtney Barnett takes in her new ditty, an allout love song dedicated to the glorious foodstuff. Amid sweetly-strummed guitars, squealing mouth organ solos, and what could accurately be referred to as an, erm, noodling bass-line, Barnett sings about trading in swanky
dinner plans with friends for quietly bubbling saucepans - a feeling almost everybody can surely relate to. (El Hunt) Yeasayer – I Am Chemistry ‘I Am Chemistry’, a tangled journey through the sticky landscape of growth, sees experimental bunch Yeasayer break silence with their first track in almost three years. It may not depart hugely from their usual psychedelic pop roots, but its washy synths and doom-laced vocals seep a distinctly downtrodden sentiment, greedily consuming familiarity before it even gets a chance to peek its head through the door. (Charlie Mock) Låpsley - Love Is Blind Over the last twelve months, Låpsley’s navigated her way around the hypewagon, delivering a more straightup, hard hitting form of the striking songwriting she arrived sporting. ‘Love is Blind’ is up there with last year’s ‘Hurt Me’ in getting to the point. From verse to chorus with no showy gimmicks to distract, Låpsley’s quickly discovered
that she has everything it takes to make giant pop songs for fun. (Jamie Milton) The Last Shadow Puppets – Bad Habits ‘Bad Habits’ is full of Miles Kane’s signature elements - short, sharp, rip-roaring vocals and arrogance that you couldn’t take home to your mother. Although Alex Turner takes the backing vocals and guitar, it’s not weakened by the lack of his frontman presence. Instead, he fills the track with saucy riffs and Northern charm from afar, letting Kane boast about everything he’s taught him. (Mollie Mansfield) Rat Boy – Move ‘Move’ is brilliantly boyish. Bizarrely, and to its benefit, the opening is irrefutably Beastie Boys-esque and showcases Rat Boy’s elder-brother bravado: a struttinginto-town, no-fucks-given approach that we’re now all too familiar with. A raucous and delightful celebration of all things immature; ‘Move’ is an ode to our younger (and significantly more Rat Boy) years. (Ed Cooper)
ho doesn’t remember the mid-00s dancepunk revolution with fondness? Spiky guitars, disco beat drums and Erol Alkan remixes as B-sides, it gave us everything from Klaxons to Bloc Party this side of the pond, and LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture and even Death From Above 1979 from the other. Like that Canadian duo, Test Icicles were heavier than most; ‘For Screening Purposes Only’ was patched up in programmed drums; drenched in cheap distortion with a pink and blue sugary aggression. Most importantly, it was fun to the core. Each track on the record was written individually, the finished song only shown to the other band members (that’s Dev Hynes, Sam Mehran and super-producer Rory Attwell) on completion. The result is a forty-minute mesh of ideas; varying B-movie horrors and tinny headaches. ‘Circle Square Triangle’ and ‘What’s Your Damage?’ are bratty chunks of punk rock.
The band’s brief two-year lifespan concluded with a reserved and coy break-up note about never really liking the music they made. Test Icicles was never meant to be taken too seriously and this was a feeling the members themselves shared. Test Icicles is now but a mere footnote in Dev’s career. He went on to record two albums as Lightspeed Champion, form the increasingly collaborative project Blood Orange, and has found more mainstream success as a songwriter, working with Kylie Minogue, Carly Rae Jepsen and Solange Knowles to name just three. Rory released a few records as RAT:ATT:AGG before settling in to his Warm Brains moniker, and Sam issued a collection of his Outer Limits recordings in 2013, and is now believed to be working in a New York record shop. Though they were a short-lived affair, Test Icicles were a remedy to a lack of eclecticism at the time, hitting on a new dynamite energy. DIY
DIY HALL OF FAME A monthly place to celebrate the very best albums released during DIY’s lifetime; the next inductee into our Hall of Fame is Test Icicles’ one and only LP. Words: Niall Cunningham
Test Icicles For Screening Purposes Only photo: Carolina Faruolo
Test Icicles’ reaction when being told what they’d go on to do in the future.
Released: 31st October 2005 Standout tracks: ‘Circle Square Triangle’ and ‘What’s Your Damage?’ Something to tell your mates: The band once claimed that nu-metallers KoЯn inspired every single guitar effect on their album.
Photos: Emma Swann
DIY live A round-up of the gigs DIY’s put on this month.
Miranda, Ace Hotel, London, Class of 2016 Party he Class of 2016 is here. The brightest, boldest, barmiest bunch in an age are racing into next year, and top of the tree is Rat Boy. Jordan Cardy’s gone from bedroom-based mixtape churner to a bonafide star in the space of twelve months. And on the basis of tonight’s Class Of party at London’s Ace Hotel (sort of like a regular school graduation party, but even more boozy), he’s not wasting time in taking the next step. On stage, Cardy is always looking for trouble. He’ll career into his bandmates like a pinball, trading chants for skizzing samples like it’s a fool’s game. Blink-and-you-missed-it banger ‘Wasteman’ is schooled in Fatboy Slim-style madness, while go-to anthem ‘Fake ID’ is fast becoming his messed-up calling card. Given the speed he approaches everything, it’s hard to keep track of this Essex troubadour. He’ll encompass countless genres, influences and bizarre ideas into one song. He hits a completely new level live, though. Dodgy lo-fi productions, attention-grabbing art and Twitter antics have given Rat Boy his platform - and it’s completely his own making. Tonight’s gig, arriving after big-deal arena dates with The 1975, is a further showcase of just how far he can go. With 2016 firmly in sight, make no mistake: There’s a fever around this guy and it can’t be stopped. (Jamie Milton)
The Old Blue Last, London rom the moment they clamber onto the stage, Youth Man carry themselves with an impressive assurance. Their set at this year’s Reading Festival felt special, and tonight, that star potential shines through vicious snarls and visceral cries. Tearing through a set that scares, enchants and delights in equal measure, Youth Man are a force of nature. ‘Wide Awake’ allows everyone to take one step back from the unrelenting thrash and shows off another dimension to the band. One of big ideas and bigger emotion, this is a trio with a lot left to offer. As the end of their set bares down, the room collapses in chaos. Despite both guitarist Kaila Whyte and bassist Miles Cocker going over in the pit (more than once), not a moment of their set felt lacking. Christmas? We wish we could watch Youth Man every day. (Ali Shutler)
18 Money, The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham 23 Kagoule, Curtain Call, The Old Blue Last, London
SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW...
Arctic Monkeys’ debut • The guy on the front cover is Jon McClure’s (Reverend and the Makers) brother. His name is Chris McClure FYI. • Arctic Monkeys got in a bit of trouble with the NHS for putting Chris McClure on the cover, what with the cigarette and the less-than-sober state he’s in. Doctors said it was setting a bad example. • ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ sold 360,000 copies in its first week in the UK. It remains as the fastestselling debut album to be released by a band ever in this country.
Arctic Monkeys have come a long way, but can they ever buy a kebab in peace again? 24
Arctic Monkeys’ ‘WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT’S WHAT I’M NOT’
It seems like moments ago that Alex Turner and co.’s first work emerged in a blaze of teenage romance and dodgy deodorant, but Arctic Monkeys’ debut album turns ten this month. It remains as vital as ever. Words: Amelia Maher.
very generation possesses a defining album that fires up a blazing passion somewhere in the subconscious. A record that encapsulates what it is to be young at a particular moment in time. As those who were born in the early ‘90s entered the first throes of adolescence, there was a sense that a moment had been missed. We were growing up in a time where The Libertines and The Strokes had already become household names, and the only other thing that people were banging
on about was how Britpop was dead and that there would never be a band as big as Oasis. Then, something incredible happened. In Sheffield, somewhere around the High Green area, a group of teenage boys asked for guitars for Christmas, and despite barely being able to play anything between them, they formed a band. They called themselves Arctic Monkeys, and on 23rd January 2006, they released one of the most exciting debut albums of the decade. When ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ – a title nicked from the 1960s cult film Saturday Night/ Sunday Morning – was first released, it raised a massive middle finger to the world. A band born of the MySpace generation, Arctic Monkeys quickly became part of the fabric of indie folklore. As they gave out free CDs at their early gigs, fans immediately took to internet forums to share the songs. They were an online phenomenon, despite never even uploading a track online themselves. This meant that months before the album came out, Arctic Monkeys’ gigs were sold out, and fans already knowing all the words to every song. By the time their first single came out, they were the hottest prospect in years. The band themselves reacted, frontman Alex Turner famously with indifference, smirking “don’t believe the hype” at the beginning of the video for ‘I Bet You Look Good On Dancefloor’. It’s a track which seamlessly entwines crashing indie rock at its most powerful with a reference to Shakespeare’s greatest tragic love story.
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There was a lot of hype, but a young Alex Turner was taking it all in from afar. His observations of other bands on the gig circuit cumulated in ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco’, a track with a simple, but highly effective driving riff that provides the perfect basis for Turner’s dry wit and uncanny ability to perfectly express the characters that surround him. This poetic social commentary turned the mundane to the beautiful, inspiring many. Whether painting a disappointing night on the town in ‘From the Ritz to the Rubble’ or the girlfriend in a piss on ‘Mardy Bum’, Turner wrote about immediately recognisable events. When it was backed by the power of Matt Helders’ drumming, the cool groove of original bassist Andy Nicholson’s riffs and the stand-offish presence of Jamie Cook, the concoction was potent. ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ summed up what it meant to be young, lost and British in the early 21st century in an honest but often hilarious way. At the end of it all, it is Turner’s concluding remark that sticks longest. In ‘A Certain Romance’ he sighs as he looks on at his friends and says “they might overstep the line, but you just cannot get angry in the same way”. As the song launches into its final blast of surging energy, Turner concludes that we might all be awkward teenagers who can’t talk to girls in night clubs and our mates might get into rows at cash machines when we’re trying to get in a cab - but, we’re in this together. Someday we’ll look back and realise it’s not all that bad, and we’ll smile. DIY
It’s still nippy outside, but Spring is just around the corner and that can mean only one thing: let festival season commence!
READING & LEEDS
The first eleven acts have been confirmed for next year’s Reading & Leeds, with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rat Boy and Hinds leading the charge. Anthony Kiedis and co. will be returning to headline as a festival exclusive, while DIY’s Class of 2016 star Rat Boy and previous cover stars Hinds will both be sure to whip up a frenzy at the weekender. Joining them are The 1975 - who will be appearing in support of their second album ‘I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’ - along with turbo-charged duo Slaves, Twenty One Pilots, Eagles of Death Metal, Boy Better Know, The Courteeners, Crossfaith and DJ EZ. Reading & Leeds takes place from 26th - 28th August, at Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park respectively.
LIVE AT LEEDS
The first few acts have been confirmed for next year’s Live at Leeds, with the likes of Rat Boy (told you he’d be everywhere this year - Ed) and Circa Waves.
Black Honey and Hannah Lou Clark are two of the first acts to be announced for this year’s The all-dayer will return to take over venues Roundhouse Rising, running from across Leeds city centre on 30th April, and 17th - 20th March. organisers have now revealed the first artists Taking place (unsurprisingly) at on the line-up. The Roundhouse in Camden, the Joining the Essex newcomer and four-day festival will also include the Liverpudlian quartet will be Los appearances from Kuenta i Tambu, Campesinos!, Mystery Jets, Milk Teeth and Auclair with the Roundhouse Class of 2016 acts INHEAVEN and Formation. Choir, Gillbanks, Phoebe Gold, This will also be the first year that a new digital and Velcrolove. programme will run in the days leading up to This year’s event will also host a Live At Leeds, from 25th - 29th April. DIY stage, alongside masterclasses, panels and workshops.
15th - 20th March SXSW has added a number of new acts including Bloc Party, Dilly Dally, Protomartyr, Stormzy and loads more. Other additions to the Texan event include Ra Ra Riot, Holy Fuck, Rich the Kid, The Big Pink, Polica, Little Simz, Waxahatchee, Frankie Cosmos, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down and Hodgy Beats.
15th - 17th / 22nd - 24th April LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses are officially reuniting for California’s Coachella 2016. They’ll be joined by Savages, Wolf Alice, The Last Shadow Puppets, M83, Beach House, The 1975, Halsey, CHVRCHES, Major Lazer, Alessia Cara, Years & Years, Run the Jewels, Courtney Barnett, Grimes and The Kills. Blimey!
THE GREAT ESCAPE
19th - 21st May The Great Escape have added another slew of artists to their line-up this year, including The Big Moon, Mabel, Elf Kid and Willie J Healey. They join the likes of Mystery Jets, Dilly Dally, Oh Wonder and VANT, who are already set to play the Brighton weekender.
2nd - 4th June It’s official! Radiohead are making a return, and they’re going to be appearing at this year’s Primavera Sound. The Barcelona weekender will also play host to the likes of the newlyreunited LCD Soundsystem, Tame Impala, Savages, PJ Harvey, The Last Shadow Puppets and Animal Collective.
BILBAO BBK LIVE
7th - 9th July Wolf Alice lead the way with new additions to Bilbao BBK Live. They’re joined by Years & Years and Hola A Todo El Mundo, who join already signed up names Pixies, M83, Hot Chip, New Order, Father John Misty, Jose Gonzalez, Courtney Barnett and We Are Standard.
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MoTHErs when You walk a long dIsTance You aRe TIRed lP / cd / dl 26 / 02 / 2016
iN sTorEs NoW
“they stand out head and shoulders above any peers” NME live dates: February 24 - servant Jazz Quarters, london 26 - The lexington, london
osCAr cuT and PasTe lP / cd / dl 13 / 05 / 2016 The debut album from oscar is available to pre-order now. find exclusive album bundles here: http://oscar.tmstor.es “Oscar…pin up poster dream… the self-made Kilburn slickback putting the fun back into pop” Wonderland Mag
befoRe The woRld was bIg
don’T weIgh down The lIghT
SOMEONE WALKED TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE WITH A NOTE AT A SHOW IN SHEFFIELD.
IT READ, ‘YOU’RE SHIT.’
No fucks given, GIRLI isn’t messing around.
This North London future-pop sensation wants to be anything but ‘alright’. Words: Jamie Milton. Photos: Phil Smithies.
GIRLI elf-professed “pink coated punky foul mouthed london gurl” GIRLI is already drawing extreme reactions, and that’s exactly what she wants. The 18-year-old can either provoke glee or disgust, depending on who you ask. Fearlessness defines her every step, a belief that if strangers wind up offended by what she does, that’s completely fine.
“I want people to feel uncomfortable!” she beams, a few months on from striking gold with the siren-backed call to arms ‘ASBOys’, an obnoxious track designed for dispute. “The worst thing ever would be for someone to walk away from a show and not have an extreme reaction… Someone walked to the front of the stage with a note at a show in Sheffield and it read, ‘You’re shit.’ Someone chucked something at me. And then I had a group of girls who had come to see me and had glitter on their faces. That’s exactly what I want.” From the get-go, GIRLI has been determined to showcase what she stands for. She’s set up her own radio station - the bonkers ‘GIRLI.FM’ - and on her debut track, she spat out the line: “You thought I was gonna do a ballad? Fuck off!”
Her ultimate mission is to “normalise things that some people see as taboo,” for example: “In the studio recently, I wanted to sing “suck my clit”, but the guy I was working with told me I should probably take that out. But if I said “suck my dick,” you wouldn’t say that. On stage, women think about what they wear really carefully. And guys don’t have that problem. Look at punk music, someone like Iggy Pop - dudes GIRLI’s number one pet hate is guys who think always take their shirt off and crowd surf. But if I took my shirt they can get away with being an arsehole at gigs. off, everyone would be like ‘Woah, she’s extreme, she’s such a “I’ve been touched up at gigs before and if it ever slut’. It’s not fair. I suppose if I do that, I wanna shock people. happens, I fucking punch them,” she says. “It happened But only in a way where it no longer shocks people.” at some DJ night in Brixton. I went and some guy just kept touching my arse. I turned round and was like, With nothing but an iPod backing track and a fake ID her mum ‘What raised you to think that was alright?’ There’s Girls bought her, the North Londoner started out by playing open Against too. It’s so needed. Even at gigs where you mic nights. “It was very different music. Still crazy, but I was a think the crowd’s gonna be pretty mellow… The fact lot more tame. I’d rock up and there’d be twenty blokes with that teenage girls can’t go to a gig without fearing guitars, going ‘What the fuck?’” She grew up as the smart kid they’ll be touched up. It’s so fucked. Who are in a comprehensive school (“whenever they see someone with these guys that think it’d be alright? It’s good grades, they want to make you a statistic”), but she only really so strange. I wanna make my gigs discovered herself when she started going out. “I’m writing about what a friendly environment for I see - my friends, London, funny shit that actually happened. It’s hard to everyone.” write about anything else,” she says, and so far she’s showcasing an in-yourface chasm of local chicken shops and the dickheads she comes across. “I had a bit of a crisis, in the middle of GCSEs, where I thought ‘Is this literally it?’ Having a shit time at school, going to uni and having a couple of years of jokes, and then going into a 9-5 job, and then another job, and then you retire? I literally can’t do that. I had to realise that life is about having fun,” she remembers, and it’s hard to find any other newcomer who sounds like they’re having as much fun as GIRLI. DIY
DON’T BE A DICK
For the past few years, DIY’s ‘Hello’ nights have been rowdy, sweaty, exciting glimpses into the year ahead. We’ve had Wolf Alice, Girl Band, Spring King and Honeyblood playing early shows at London’s The Old Blue Last for this yearly series.
HELLO 2016! Night 1 - 5th January
Slutface, Abattoir Blues, Wesley Gonzalez, Shame
016’s rolled round, and the year already belongs to Norwegian giants-in-waiting Slutface.
The in-your-face pop punk force haven’t always been instant heroes. They played an impressive debut London show for DIY Presents in this very venue two months back, but it was nothing akin to the headrush stage invasions taking place tonight. Haley Shea must’ve been reading up on commanding a stage for several years, because she fronts the lumbering four-piece like it’s an instinct. Preceding Slutface is the strongest cast these ‘Hello’ nights have witnessed in yonks. Abattoir Blues have been bit-by-bit rising to the top, pegged alongside The Magic Gang and other Brighton gems. But there’s a new step in their stride. Frontman Harry Waugh arrives in London after a few sleepless nights, and madness creeps into the process of the group’s brash post-punk dystopia. Meanwhile, former Let’s Wrestle man Wesley Gonzalez is in a world of his own. Debut solo gambit ‘Come Through and See Me’ is a playful tour through bleak backstreets and amusement arcades. Openers Shame attempt to create the same furore as Slutface. The South London force are exactly that - a fully-charged electric shock of adolescent energy. It’s a tops off affair for the Fat White Family associates. They complete an exciting crop of new bands playing tonight’s show, brushing off the post-Xmas cobwebs and giving indication that 2016’s going to be a winner.
Night 2 - 12th January
Diet Cig, Bruising, Willie J Healey, Trudy
good month in advance of Valentine’s Day, there’s romance in the air. Sort of. Trudy are a Liverpoolbased bunch who’d swap their instruments for a bunch of roses if they had the option. Songs are full of longing, but not in the traditional soppy ballad sense. On record, Willie J Healey - an Oxford musician lapping up early comparisons to King Krule - doesn’t fit with the fired-up theatrics of Trudy. But something’s shifted in the last few months. Over the course of the past year, Healey’s put together a tight-knit live band who - given a few bottles of whiskey could give Mac DeMarco’s touring troupe a run for their money. Stripping away the sharper edges of Willie’s sound, Bruising swathe theirs in a sweaty fuzz. In ‘Honey’, they have a ready made anthem in waiting, and they fire it out with gusto tonight, likewise ‘Emo Friends’, which receives a far more rapturous reception than its namesake would normally be able to muster. After a brief mid-set-up singalong to Justin Bieber, Diet Cig leap aboard the teeny Old Blue Last stage all grins and Ash Ketchum-aping red caps, and that youthful abandon defines every all-too-short second of tonight.
30.01.16 LONDON THE O2
ANNE-MARIE 01.02.16 T SOLD OU LONDON VILLAGE UNDERGROUND
LUCY ROSE 03.02.16 T SOLD OU HEATH STREET LONDON BAPTIST CHURCH
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING 07.02.16 LEEDS UNIVERSITY REFECTORY 08.02.16 EDINBURGH QUEEN’S HALL 10.02.16 O2 ACADEMY LIVERPOOL 11.02.16 NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY 12.02.16 NORWICH OPEN
+ AIDAN KNIGHT + HOLLY MACVE 11.02.16 LONDON ST JOHN AT HACKNEY CHURCH
MARIBOU STATE + KHRUANGBIN 17.02.16 T SOLD OU KOKO LONDON
BARNS COURTNEY 18.02.16 LONDON HOXTON SQUARE BAR AND KITCHEN
HALSEY + BØRNS + FLOR
20.02.16T SOLD OU BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY 22.02.16T SOLD OU MANCHESTER ACADEMY
KIKO BUN 21.02.16 BRISTOL LOUISIANA 22.02.16 BRIGHTON KOMEDIA 25.02.16 BIRMINGHAM RAINBOW
+ PUBLIC ACCESS TV 24.02.16 T SOLD OU FLEECE BRISTOL 26.02.16 T SOLD OU BRIGHTON PATTERNS
FAT WHITE FAMILY 28.02.16 O2 ACADEMY2 OXFORD)
EAGULLS 02.03.16 T SOLD OU LONDON OLSO HACKNEY
FUFANU 02.03.16 LONDON SEBRIGHT ARMS
HONNE 03.03.16 BRIXTON ELECTIRC
RUDIMENTAL 05.03.16 T SOLD OU PLYMOUTH PAVILLIONS 07.03.16 T SOLD OU BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY
ELLIE GOULDING + JOHN NEWMAN + LANY
08.03.16 T SOLD OU CARDIFF MOTORPOINT ARENA 25.03.16 LONDON THE O2 25.03.16 LONDON THE O2
LAPSLEY 09.03.16 O2 INSTITUTE3, BIRMINGHAM
WOLF ALICE 13.03.16 O2 ACADEMY OXFORD 21.03.16 FOLKESTONE LEAS CLIFF HALL 22.03.16 T SOLD OU BRIGHTON DOME 24.03.16 CARDIFF T UNIVERSITY SOLD OU GREAT HALL 26.03.16 OUT SOLD O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN 27.03.16 OUT SOLD O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN 28.03.16 O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN
BRYSON TILLER 28.03.16 T SOLD OU LONDON KOKO 29.03.16T SOLD OU LONDON KOKO 30.03.16 LONDON KOKO
BIG UPS 30.03.16 LONDON LEXINGTON
MATT & KIM 08.04.16 LONDON SCALA
YEARS & YEARS + MØ
01.04.16 BIRMINGHAM BARCLAYCARD ARENA 04.04.16 BOURNEMOUTH BIC 05.04.16 T SOLD OU PLYMOUTH PAVILLIONS 08.04.16 THE SSE ARENA WEMBLEY
EKKAH 07.04.16 LONDON OSLO HACKNEY
ISLAND 20.04.16 LONDON OSLO HACKNEY
TOURIST 11.05.16 XOYO LONDON 12.05.16 THE HAUNT BRIGHTON
FATHER JOHN MISTY 18.05.16 T SOLD OU LONDON THE ROUNDHOUSE 19.05.16 T SOLD OU LONDON THE ROUNDHOUSE 20.05.16 LONDON THE ROUNDHOUSE
SHURA 26.05.16 O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE
LION BABE 01.06.16 LONDON KOKO
29.01.16 BOURNEMOUTH BIC
New York-based obsessive Aaron Maine is coming to a doorstep near you. Words: Tom Walters.
hings are getting weird for Aaron Maine. He’s spent the day listening back to a test pressing of ‘Pool’, the second full length under his Porches moniker, after spending the week taking in London while playing shows. It’s a far cry from where he was two years ago with debut record ‘Slow Dance in the Cosmos’, a highly melancholic collection of heavy-hitting indie that couldn’t be anything less like what he’s produced on ‘Pool’. More of a major step sideways than forwards, it’s a testament to growing up, moving around and realising that your tastes don’t stay the same forever.
“I think I just felt a lot different when I moved to the city,” he explains. Maine had spent the majority of his life living in a suburb with his mum on the outskirts of New York, moving to Manhattan when was was twenty-three, where he quickly felt a disassociation with rock music. He didn’t want to mope around anymore. He wanted to dance, and he wanted people to dance with him. Those looking for a taste of the dingy darkness that permeated ‘Slow Dance…’ shouldn’t worry, though. The songs on ‘Pool’ are still dark, they’re just executed through luscious ‘80s pop, affected synthesisers and even splashes of autotune. It’s a real u-turn. “I like that,” Maine says on the more subtle approach he’s taken to bleakness. “I like injecting dance music with some more melancholic vibes. Arthur Russell has been a big, big influence. One of my best friends showed me this Blood Orange record [‘Cupid Deluxe’] when I first got to the city, and in turn that sent me down this Terrible Records rabbit-hole. I just wanted to start making music that I wanted to listen to more.” Post-Manhattan move, Maine quickly found himself with a laptop for the first time in years, and made the most instinctive and intuitive move a musician with a computer can make - he got a copy of Logic. “I just started recording these songs and got super interested in doing things in a proper way,” he says of the recording process. It shows too - the songs on ‘Pool’ sound crystal clear and refined - they’re polished pop gems of the highest order. “You know, I realised that it was kind of an interesting growing process writing these songs,” he says, the recognition seemingly happening there and then in his voice. “Experimenting with different moods, and even lyrics and stuff... I don’t know, I guess I just wanted to grow is all. Throughout all of this, I’ve kind of realised and have accepted that I am drawn to the more melancholic moments in life; the specific beauty and emotion that comes from that feeling. So I’m just trying to hone that and own it and make sure that rather than focusing on the negative side of that situation, I’m focusing more on the strange happiness that is also involved in that melancholiness, if that’s what you call it!” Porches’ new album ‘Pool’ is out 5th February via Domino. DIY
“I LIKE INJECTING DANCE MUSIC WITH SOME MORE MELANCHOLIC VIBES.” AARON MAINE
Cardiff charmers exploding into life. Few bands sound like they’re not just racing out the blocks, but speeding straight out the stadium. Cardiff’s ESTRONS are swept up in their own fever. ‘Make a Man’ is an all-commanding triumph that’ll be tough to top. Chances are they’ve already penned a dozen giants to match this marker. Listen: ‘Make a Man’ will make you a fan. Similar to: A bonkers Slutface x Paramore hybrid.
Es t rons
Twins onto a winner.
Stroud twins Ardyn are going way beyond sibling instinct. On their haunting debut track ‘Universe’, the pair spun darkness around simple, affecting songwriting. Their skill clearly exists in shunning optimism by default, and their Rodaidh McDonald-produced debut EP is an almighty first step. Listen: ‘The Garden’ is a highlight from EP ‘The Universe’. Similar to: Angel Olsen turning her attention to piano-led balladry.
Devilish New York post-punks blending intellect with giant ambition.
Believe in the way of Sam York. Fronting New York newcomers WALL, she brings the authority of preceding punk movements, matching these references with a smart, cutting delivery. Chants about “big black suits dressed as little white lies” put the subject matter upfront, whether she’s laying law to big-wig poshos or city screwballs. Listen: Their debut self-titled EP is out now. Similar to: Parquet Courts with a vengeance. Lewisham’s new poster-boy, with one eye on the universe.
Creeper - The Stranger The first release with their new line-up, DIY Class Of favourites Creeper are stepping up a gear with an allembracing, vital new EP. It’s out 19th February.
t his mont h in
Surely it’s a fool’s move to sample Amerie’s cherished ‘1 Thing’ for an opening gambit. But South London grime newcomer Elf Kid takes the ‘see what sticks’ approaches, and 99% of the time it pays off. ‘Golden Boy’ has fast become the current craze. On repeat in every postcode going, Elf Kid is more accessible than any grime artist to emerge in months. If Stormzy can tackle the top ten, this guy can go one further. Listen: ‘Golden Boy’, obviously. Similar to: The sound of London taking over the world.
LANY - Make Out If you’re new to LANY, get in the know. This LA-based trio make heart-thumping, impassioned pop. They’ve big ambitions, and they’re supporting Ellie Goulding on her March UK tour. ‘Make Out’ is out now. Pouty - Take Me to Honey Island Rachel Gagliardi’s first work as Pouty sees the Slutever member bringing technicolour fireworks out of everyday frustrations. Tracks on the EP carry simple-as-it-gets titles like ‘Sad’, ‘Moody’ and ‘Awake’, but buried within is a bright, evershifting supply of ideas. Out on 16th Feb.
The unsteady opening of ‘The Curtains’, the first track on Cross Record’s ‘Wabi Sabi’, is the sort of music you’d expect to find soundtracking a baby deer’s first steps. Nervous, gangly and stumbling more than once, it isn’t long before the track finds its feet and is prancing across the Austin wilderness.
That determined adventure drives the nine tracks of ‘Wabi Sabi’ into unfamiliar territory. But it’s also the story behind Cross Record’s migration from their home of Chicago to the expanse of a Texan ranch called Moon Phase. Between putting away groceries at the house where she works as a nanny, Emily Cross - who, alongside her husband Dan Duszynski, makes up Cross Record - admits that the record would have been “very different” if they’d stayed in Chicago. “We just have so much freedom and space to experiment, to have fun and make a lot of noise,” she starts. “That affected the album a lot but I don’t actually know how yet. I haven’t really evaluated it.” The freedom found throughout ‘Wabi Sabi’ is reflective of where Emily finds herself. “I just turned twenty-seven and I feel like I don’t have a great deal of distraction in my life. I’m married and I have a good rhythm with my home life. I have a lot of
freedom to not worry about the things I used to worry about and focus on my creative outlets.” Recorded at home, and taking on a majority of the production themselves, ‘Wabi Sabi’ was crafted in the environment that inspired it. “I couldn’t do it any other way,” says Emily before admitting, “there were definitely weeks where we didn’t touch the album at all,” because they needed space from it. “We actually started over several songs over three or four times because they just weren’t right in my head. I could never do it in a professional studio because it would be so expensive.” Emily is on the move again though. She’s flying out to visit her father in Thailand for a few months to “start working on another record.” Another bold move to continue expanding their horizons. With Cross Record, there’s a sense of exploration. They’re constantly discovering things and capturing that on record. Beyond the joy of creating, there’s not much else they want. “You know that people are going to hear it but that’s not at the forefront of our minds. It’s not why we do certain things. I just liked making it and I want people to hear it. I guess what I want to achieve is that I want people to hear it, to enjoy it. I want them to feel a certain way,” she offers, but doesn’t go into specifics. That’s left up to you. Cross Record’s new album ‘Wabi-Sabi’ is out now via Ba Da Bing Records. DIY
Cr d oosr s c e R Chances are you might have crossed paths with Emily Cross. This experimental musician has been everywhere. Words: Ali Shutler.
Crossing the borders
Emily Cross’ journey has taken her all around the world. Beyond Austin, here are the locations that matter: JAPAN ‘Wabi-Sabi’ takes its name from a Japanese aesthetic, which is all about “beauty found in impermanence and imperfection”. Easier said than done, mate. FLORIDA Cross grew up here, after being born in the Midwest. CHICAGO It was here where Cross graduated with a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Hence why she’s not just about the music.
Savages r de
o lo gt
ve o n
are the w
t vital bands a
ro u n
Words: El Hunt. Photos: Mike Massaro. Live Photos: Andrew Benge. Make up: Martina Luisetti.
avages don’t mess about. The first, carefully chosen glimpse of the band’s new record arrived as ‘The Answer’ - the very definition of a confident statement by title alone. Agitated razor blade guitars collide headlong with drums that pound the living shit out of everything in sight, with no relent. Sheer mechanical brawn smacks into the heart headlong, on the teetering edge of obliterating everything. In their second album ‘Adore Life’ Savages also unearth something less towering, that is subject to poor decisions, and vulnerability amid the onslaught of white noise. Savages write music that is completely human. They seem to provide an answer or remedy to the chaotic, tangled-up web of life. There’s nobody else around quite like this. The band rock up in their customary all-black uniforms, cutting the formidable sort of picture you’d expect. When Jehnny Beth and Gemma Thompson order a cuppa, they make it seem swiftly efficient. Wrong-footings aren’t shot down in flames, but receive a far more cutting reply; the air of being mildly unimpressed. Frighteningly ambitious, and willing to give every ounce of their being to this magical beast that they’ve created together, Savages have more than earned their right to be imposing, and they are imposing. Truly scary, though? Nah. Today, drummer Fay Milton is busy sparring with her granola bar wrapper. “Morning!” she exclaims chirpily, neglecting to notice that the clock has already chimed midday. “I don’t know what I’m saying,” she laughs, “a bunch of words. Let’s talk about food?” she eventually suggests. “It’s not even that early,” concedes her band mate, bassist Ayşe Hassan.
and all outside interferers violently opposed, ‘Silence Yourself’ - by name, and nature - was a bolshy, confrontational first record. Intentionally so. “You have to fight a bit for your own space,” states Jehnny Beth. “I think every band that starts has to do it. It’s your first totem.” The band certainly fought for space and control over the dialogue, and then some. They were unwilling to be shaped against their wills. As the first rave reviews began to come out, Jehnny Beth calmly took a biro to every press clipping that referred to Savages as an “all-female band” - quietly taking down the empty categorisation, and marking it out as irrelevant. When their debut was nominated for the Mercury Prize, Savages didn’t just zip up and sip the complimentary champers. Though they were grateful for the wider acclaim, they also openly debated what the nomination symbolises, and how it lines up with what they want to achieve as a band. That’s Savages, all over. “I don’t want to carry any flags, I’m just doing my thing,” Jehnny Beth once told DIY over the phone, speaking from a bustling Italian restaurant shortly after that Mercury nod in 2013. “I will just carry my own armour,” she stated, gleefully, “and do my own shit!” “I think we were very guarded on the first record,” admits Fay in a similar vein, today. “You have to establish yourself in the way you want.” Ayşe’s on the same page, too, though she insists that much of their debut’s confrontation was less to do with anger, and more concerned with survival. “‘Silence Yourself’ was about us having focus,” she explains. “We needed to protect ourselves as a band from everything; to learn how to be a band together. To keep what we had together, as a band.” Savages quickly garnered a fearsome reputation; for their volatile live show, their seriousness, their artistic intensity, and their complete intolerance for dealing with other people’s nonsense. It also landed them with a name for being, to put it bluntly, scary. “I think scary’s ok,” says a decidedly not-scary Jehnny Beth today, leaning across the table with an arched eyebrow and comedy shrug. “I like scary. Why not?” “I think, as a woman as well, if you’re being serious, you’re scary,” adds Fay. “Ooo!” she exclaims, providing a pantomime villain noise for extra effect. “When you know what you want, you cut to the chase,” grins Ayşe. “You say it.”
Fay’s granola-based crisis surely marks out one of very few instances where Savages have been unsure of exactly what to say. Upon forming, the band set out with intense focus; eyes keenly trained on a single objective. ‘Silence Yourself’ was a debut concerned with insular hyperconcentration. Its end goal - amid everyone else outside their bubble trying to pull the new band in different directions - was total artistic freedom.
“It’s an intensity,” expands guitarist Gemma Thompson. “Sometimes you have to just play. You can’t think of anything at all, past that point. That puts you in an intense place. That’s what you’re after,” she concludes. “That’s what you’re trying to find. It’s the reason that we do this.”
“If you are focused, you are harder to reach. If you are distracted, you are available,” declared the part-poem-partmanifesto printed on the debut’s cover. With the barriers up,
Standing tall and balanced precariously on the metal barriers of live shows, like a ship’s steely-eyed figurehead at the helm of the good ship Savage, it’s no real surprise
“We’re not going to skip some parts of are
maybe more dark, or more
shameful, more personal.” Jehnny Beth
that Jehnny Beth in particular revels in a confrontational strain of theatricality. “The stage is a place of freedom,” she grins. “You can be anything.” With every sweat-drenched club show, and every chaos-fuelled festival appearance that followed the band’s debut, that drama only grew more pronounced; more unlike anything else on earth. Gradually the instant magnetism between Savages and their surging crowd led them in a new direction. Their destination? The zest-for-life-filled, connection-seeking ‘Adore Life’. “Our shows were getting warmer and warmer, and something was happening,” nods Jehnny. “There’s a really good French word I can’t translate,” she says, ”bienveillant.” Meaning roughly the same thing as benevolent, it’s an accurate word for what Savages have become. For every move their debut made to build up walls, and assemble bunkers, ‘Adore Life’ tears them back down with vengeance. “I think that comes from us playing together for three years,” Ayşe assesses. “Naturally we’ve grown together as a band, experienced things from the audience. I see a gig as a shared experience of emotion and intensity between the audience and us. It’s that transfer of energy that we’ve become more comfortable with, maybe, in a strange way. We embrace it more rather than being insular.” In that muddied, indefinable way that electronic sparks and lightbulb moments tend to take on a concrete shape, ‘Adore Life’ steadily began to find its own form. Live connection was already firmly on the band’s mind. They watched Michael Gira - one of their heroes, and the man who infamously called Savages “terrifying” before later apologising - perform several years ago at Best Kept Secret festival, with his band Swans. Another handful of jigsaw pieces slotted into the hazy puzzle. After that Swans show Jehnny Beth went away and wrote down a phrase on one of her many online blog posts. “Love was the answer.” That sentence began to set down meaningful root, without Savages
Nice hat, Mike. 40 diymag.com
even realising at the time. “That was a key moment in finding a way to talk about love,” agrees Jehnny, looking back on that pivotal Swans show in 2013. “How [Gira] does it, obviously, is very universal, and grandiose, goth-like. That was interesting for us.” Her initial jotting-down - “love was the answer” - would, over time, become the hellraising second album opener, ‘The Answer’. The wheels were careering into unstoppable motion. “Gemma came up with that riff, and we decided to make that the song,” Jehnny Beth explains. “That impact, and that sound - like being in the middle of the eye of the storm - made it possible to use this line. It allowed us to say something vulnerable, and naive, in a way.”
“The stage is a place
You can be anything.” Jehnny Beth
Once that idea of carefully tensioned contrast hit like a weighty tonne of feathers, there was no looking back. Savages found themselves writing sprawlingly ambitious music, as loud as it was looming.
“We did humour!” Fay Milton
“I remember the guitar sound and the bass invading all the corridors. Even to the toilets you could hear them,” observes Jehnny, remembering the band’s three-week stint in RAK studios in London. “Out the front, if the door was open, you could hear squalls of guitar,” says Gemma, looking back. “Down the street!” smirks a delighted Jehnny. “The posh street, the posh people. That was good.”
With these pillars in place, Savages set out with another of their infamous manifestos in mind for album number two. “We try to work with intention,” says Jehnny, who has strong feelings about the subject. “Writing manifestos can be perceived as too ‘serious’,” wrote the frontwoman three years ago. “It became rather playful for me,” she said. “This is not school, you don’t have to please anyone but yourself, you don’t have to be a good student. However, you are your own teacher.” It’s a sentiment she reiterates today. “A manifesto is a positive statement,” she points out. “It’s something that should feel inspiring once you’ve read it.”
The manifesto for ‘Adore Life’ was focused on several distinct ideas. Firstly, they agree unanimously, the process was about trust. “We could leave each other to it,” says Gemma, “and they would understand everything we needed to achieve.” Throughout the process members of Savages were constantly “popping in and out,” of the picture, with full confidence that they were all picturing the same end result. “Freedom was rule number one,” states Jehnny, “create space for each other in what we’re doing.” “We wanted to do a record about love,” she continues, moving on to objective number two. “It was instinctive, at first,” she says, referring back to those initial flint-sparks, “and then it became a decision. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it all the way. We’re not going to skip some parts of love, that are maybe more dark, or more shameful, more personal.” No aspect of love escapes unstudied on ‘Adore Life’. Stealing away from anonymous bedrooms, fucking in corridors,
balancing an entire friendship on the risky knife-edge of lust, and surrendering to all-consuming desire, much airtime is given to those gnarled corners of love that spell out danger in hastily scrawled warning letters. As much as Richard Curtis would have you believe otherwise, love doesn’t always end with a brawl for honour in a Greek restaurant, a choreographed snog in a scenic location, or a merrily rolling reel of credits. Love is usually far more messy than that. “We were trying to make a record that was quite psychotic and nuanced,” Jehnny Beth says. “Love, with all different facets, and the contradictory feelings you can have, when in love.” ‘When In Love’, indeed. Just one prominent example of Savages’ newly-unearthed touch of warmth, that song hits an especially specific, everyday nerve. “I hate your taste in music,” spits Jehnny Beth at one point, her voice bursting with sheer, undiluted venom.
Savages stuck with a familiar face from their inner circle when they made ‘Adore Life’. Manning the production desk for a second time, their close associate Johnny Hostile was key when it came to making the album take on a pulse of its own. Fay: It’s funny, the production of [‘Silence Yourself’]. When we did it, we were so happy with it. Two years on, you’re like, ‘oh god, so many things I would do differently!’ I think Johnny [Hostile] had all of the same things he wanted to do differently. We’re growing together in that way. It just made absolute sense to keep the team together. Gemma: We knew with Johnny that he would make everything feasible that we needed to do, and that he would understand it in abstract terms; our descriptions of sound, and how one thing related to the other. I guess, most importantly, he understands the characters behind each instrument, and how that related to the sound. It’s not just a case of sound and voice with this band, it’s about more. It’s important to find someone who understands that.
She roars with laughter today at the suggestion that conflicting music taste is a Tinder dater’s worst nightmare. “It’s interesting to say very detailed, trivial things like that, that really get under your skin for some reason,” she reasons, “and to contrast that with a more universal idea.” Fay has her own favourite lyric on that same track. “I’m gonna leave you forever, but next time I’m in the neighbourhood I’ll be knocking at your door,” she beams. “You know, when you’re like ‘I’m leaving you!’ but you’re too mad to let it happen? ‘Please take me back!’ I love that. Melodrama, a bit rock opera.” “I used to love playing that song, when we were first testing it out,” says Ayşe, “I used to look at Fay, and she’d be...” her bandmate fist-pumps exuberantly across the table. “Brackets: punching the air,” Fay quips for the benefit of the dictaphone. “It’s got some vibes in there.” Despite their frequent - and tongue in cheek - insistence that they’re a “humourless” band, that same playfulness has always been present in Savages’ repertoire. A sharp-tongued lyricist, Jehnny Beth’s dry, dark bend on wit peeked through the deceiving surface rage of debut tracks like ‘Strife’ - a song which asked ”how come I’ve been doing things with you I would never tell my mum?” Those foundations are magnified
“Perhaps having deconstructed everything we should be thinking about putting everything back together,” concluded the band in ‘Silence Yourself’’s opening statement of intent. In the beginning, Savages set out like careful dissectors, peeling off every spare bit of musical gristle, and leaving behind a bare, minimal skeleton. Now, there’s a hopeful, utopian edge. An answer to the bleak and deconstructed, ‘Adore Life’ does seem like an album concerned with putting everything back together again, too. Space and time are no longer held hostage; eerie, suspended moments of silence ring through ‘Adore’, and improvised pockets building like tumbling boulders of noise. Jehnny Beth ponders this, frowning. “It could be seen like that, actually,” she decides. “Yeah. It could.” “They inform each other,” she continues. “I wouldn’t say the second record is the answer, because that would mean that this is it...” she says, followed by an uproarious outburst. “That’s it! Done! That’s the answer!” laughs Gemma. “I understand where you’re coming from,” Jehnny picks up. “It’s a really instinctive process. A rise,” finishes Gemma. “Rise is a good word, actually,” concludes Jehnny. “An instinctive rise.” “It sounds like intellectual porn,” exclaims Gemma suddenly. As they attempt to regain composure, One Direction’s ‘Drag Me Down’ blares without warning out of the crackly cafe speakers. The pair wince slightly. “I don’t remember your question,” deadpans Jehnny Beth. Savages’ gathering together today comes shortly after they played their final show of a packed year, in the school hall-type surroundings of Tufnell Park Dome. The band showcased a huge chunk of ‘Adore Life,’ menacing a transfixed room with the thudding bass of ‘Sad Person’ and the waltzing, meandering strut, ‘Slowing Down the World’. The reaction in that room was of the instantly palpable kind. The air hung thick with a rare variety of tingly, goosebumpy energy that can almost be grabbed a-hold of, because it seems so physical, so real. “I felt it,” says Jehnny Beth, quietly, before grinning widely. “I can’t even imagine how it’s going to be when people know the record! It’s gonna be awesome.”
on ‘Adore Life’. “We did humour!” announces Fay, wryly. “But you know,” reasons Ayşe, being - ironically - entirely serious at this point. ”People did think we were serious.” While the stomping ‘T.I.W.Y.G’ - which is, according to Fay “intentionally quite mad.” - concludes with boisterous canned laughter, sort-of title track ‘Adore’ veers from goosebumpy sparseness to arm-swinging rock opera territory in a joy-filled skip. That’s not to say that Savages have donned comedy water-pistols. ‘Adore Life’ is also an aggressive, vulnerable, thoughtful, poetic beast of an album, and it’s very much part of the same journey. “We couldn’t have done it without that first record being there, and that process of touring.” Gemma says. “It gives us the freedom and openness to say more within the context of Savages. We’re strong enough to do that.”
Lately, the band have been starting their sets with the sparse, isolated warm-up vocals of ‘I Need Something New’ - a song they originally wrote on the stage as “a way to speak to each other.” A search for newness, and a ferocious pursuit of the unexpected, remains Savages’ biggest manifesto point of all. “It’s funny,” starts Jehnny Beth. “I feel sometimes it calms my nerves if I know that something unexpected is going to happen. In a way it’s accepting the chaos. It’s less scary than thinking, ‘I’ve got to do this same thing, exactly the same as yesterday’. That feels scary,” she laughs. “Make it yours,” offers Gemma, as a tailored alternative to simply making it new. “Make it new for yourself,” agrees Jehnny. “That’s enough.” Savages’ album ‘Adore Life’ is out now via Matador. DIY
A Weird Kind of
Thera London trio Daughter return with a second album bigger, more direct and drenched in sorrow. Itâ€™s a full-on experience
omeone feeling anything after hearing our songs is the most beautiful thing,” beams Elena Tonra, responding to her bandmate Igor Haefeli recalling times Daughter have been approached by fans affected by their music.
“People would come and see us after shows and say ‘your song has expressed a feeling I’ve had that I haven’t really been able to put my finger on’, and that’s an amazing thing,” he remembers. “Whether that’s what the song was intended for, or carries the same meaning for us as it does for the fan, is a completely different question - but anything that helps them understand, or realise that they’re even feeling something at all, is great.” It’s not difficult to see why fans are getting caught up in Tonra’s tales. 2013 debut album ‘If You Leave’ took the bubbling sorrow of the band’s twin EPs and sent the message head-first into full-on agony. It was, and is, a cripplingly sad album, but one that struck through the pain with Haefeli’s sky-reaching, reverb-drowned guitars, offering hope and an escape. When the bulk of the ‘If You Leave’ tour was completed at the start of 2014, Tonra, Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella started to collate the many “scattered bits of paper” that had been hurriedly noted down in soundchecks and dressing rooms far from home into fully formed ideas back in London. Work began after a much-needed break around Christmas 2013. “We consciously decided not to tour for a while and to start working,” explains Tonra. “I remember when we were on the tour we already had some guitar ideas floating about, and we’d jam them in soundcheck, but it never felt like we fully dived into it until we were like ‘right, brains are clear of touring, let’s get into it!’”
py for everyone involved.
Words: Will Richards. Photos: Emma Swann.
The short time away, the band’s first in over a year, might not have allowed them freedom from becoming embedded in ideas for LP2 - “even if we have holidays we’re still emotionally ‘in the band’” - but it allowed the ‘Not To Disappear’ process to have a defined starting point. ‘If You Leave’ brought together tracks from since the very beginning of Daughter, borrowing ‘Youth’ from ‘The Wild Youth’ EP, and Haefeli sees a greater togetherness between the ten songs because of this. “We were being a bit more direct. It was interesting, as it was the first time for us that, lyrically and musically, the album grew hand in hand. It wasn’t about adapting to one another, it was about seeing it progress together.” A greater anger and aggression is something that bursts out of certain corners of ‘Not To Disappear’, and Elena recalls recording vocals for album standout ‘No Care’ by following
the existing guitar line and improvising her anger into verse. “We had this guitar loop which was very distorted and sludgy, and that song was a case of me pressing record and just spilling. That wasn’t even written down, just ranted out. I think it feels a bit like that too, just spitting out words.” After more time laying down ideas and demos in Tottenham, the band decamped to New York at the beginning of summer 2014. The main reason for heading to the city was to live and work with producer Nicolas Vernhes, who has previously worked with Deerhunter, Animal Collective and The War On Drugs, at his Rare Book Room studios in Brooklyn. Tonra cites producer Vernhes’ studio itself as being a big influencer in how ‘Not To Disappear’ turned out. “All of the stuff he has is brilliant. Just being in his space with all of his tools is already quite a magical thing. Going into someone else’s space - and it literally is his house as well - and having all this gear at your disposal was wonderful. It was like a treasure trove. I’d think ‘woah! what’s this?’ time and time again. I think you can hear him and his essence in the record, which I love.” The band speak of ‘If You Leave’’s “bedroom-y quality”, and cite their ascent to bigger venues and festival stages on its tour as a reason for the mightier tones on ‘Not To Disappear’. “Because you’re playing in front of a bigger audience, you tend to play a little heavier, and the songs get more intense,” explains Aguilella. “[At festivals,] you’re never entirely sure how people are going to react or if the crowd are going to be quiet enough to hear what’s happening. It would have been very interesting to see what ‘If You Leave’ would have sounded like if we had recorded it at the end of the cycle.” Tonra’s words have largely become the focal point of Daughter as a band, and a greater honesty was something she tried to convey with the lyrics on ‘Not To Disappear’. “Looking back at ‘If You Leave’, it feels like the songs were hiding behind a curtain of imagery and metaphors, and not quite saying ‘okay this is how I feel’. I think ‘Not To Disappear’ is a lot more bare in that way.” Beginning an album with a song titled ‘New Ways’ could easily have been the main statement of intent from Daughter and their new album. Instead
it was the record’s first single, ‘Doing The Right Thing’, that became the ‘moment’ of Daughter’s second age. The song honestly and brutally dissects feelings of worry and loss associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s one of the biggest, toughest subjects to tackle, not to mention to then release as the first single. “I never sit down and think ‘I’m going to write a song about this’, so when ‘Doing The Right Thing’ happened, that was a really odd one. It started feeling like it was about one thing, and then really quite instantly drifted into being about my Grandmother and trying to see the world from her perspective. That in particular was something I didn’t realise I was so affected by until I saw it coming out in these songs. I’d stop halfway through writing the song and realise ‘oh, I’m actually very sad about this’.”
people who you stop and think, ‘I am so far away from you’, and you can Skype someone or whatever, but it’s not the same.” It’s something Igor can also attest to. “With the feeling of loneliness on the album, the way I related to it was through memories of touring, and feeling alone in huge, unfamiliar cities, even while surrounded by people. You feel quite alienated: you stand in front of a really warm, appreciative crowd for an hour who make you feel great, but most of the time you’re trying to find your place within these massive venues. Even sonically, we used the idea of pushing electronic sounds, and using metallic, harsher reverb which contrasts with the more warm, organic sounds and live drums. It’s creating a sense of thinking, feeling, being while having all this man-made stuff around you.”
“I’D STOP HALFWAY THROUGH WRITING
‘OH, I’M ACTUALLY VERY SAD ABOUT THIS’.” ELENA TONRA A SONG AND REALISE,
Family is a theme tied to multiple Daughter songs, and the entirety of ‘Not To Disappear’. It can also, of course, be traced back to the band’s name. It’s a testament to Tonra’s sincerity that she largely didn’t even notice such a lyrical pattern was forming on the album, just writing what she felt. “I reference them a lot. Even in the first album they would crop up in unexpected scenarios. I’d be writing a song that wasn’t even about them and then think ‘oh hey Dad, what’s going on?’ That happened a lot this time, especially with my mother and my grandmother. They crop up frequently, and I’m going through a time where they’re on my mind a lot, especially my grandmother. I connect a lot of my thoughts to the idea of family and family members. It’s the women in my family on this record. Which is cool. They’re pretty badass.” Tonra also explains the way “that feeling where you don’t really have anyone when you’re on the road” also formed a lot of the subject matter on ‘Not To Disappear’. “There’s certain
Along with the droves of fans who tell Tonra how much they relate to her words, she speaks of using them herself for retrospective self-analysis. “The [songs] I’m most drawn to are the ones that are the most emotional for me, but I don’t realise a universal theme is unfolding until you look over the whole album and go ‘oh, cool, most of these are about how lonely I feel in different situations’. What’s quite cool about that - in a weird way - is that I can look back on old songs and see how I was feeling at a certain time, which is a good study of your own brain and development as a person. It’s a weird therapy, where you can look back and see what you did right and wrong, and what you were really thinking.” It might take Elena Tonra years to personally dissect ‘Not To Disappear’, but the sentiment is so strong, and the messages are so important, that it will surely affect many more before her. Daughter’s new album ‘Not to Disappear’ is out now via 4AD. DIY
It’s not all bloody noses and big riffs in camp Milk Teeth – they’ve got a fluffy side too. While recording ‘Vile Child’, the band “saved a kitten”, as Oli recalls, before Chris tells the tale: “We went on a walk around these lanes, and heard this screaming, meow thing. There’s nothing around for miles, and there were no other cats or anything around, so it must have been dumped. We brought it back, and it had loads of fleas and a gammy eye, and producer Neil [Kennedy] was actually looking for a cat - he’d been on websites the whole time we were there – so he ended up keeping it and naming it after one of our songs! It’s called Bagel! Which is a good name for a cat.” 48 diymag.com
hat bird did get me,” sighs Milk Teeth guitarist Chris Webb just hours before a show supporting his childhood heroes Refused. “I’ve got shit on my arm.”
It’s indicative of the calamity that surrounds everything Milk Teeth do. A bunch of self-proclaimed “kids” from the small market town of Stroud let loose on the big wide world, With ‘Vile Child’, they’re never far from the Milk Teeth have next daft incident. From channelled their road miles vocalist and bassist into one of the year’s most Becky Blomfield getting fast and furious debuts. Now “zinged” by a dodgily they’re set to reap the rewards, wired-up microphone as long as they don’t lose too to Chris falling down a much blood. Words: Tom flight of stairs mid-set, Connick. Photos: Emma right into the waiting arms Swann. of tour buddy Frank Iero, it’s a wonder any of them have made it this far. Of the whole bunch, it’s drummer Oli Holbrook who’s undoubtedly the most patchedtogether. He gleefully points to various places on his head where he’s inflicted self-injury: “I smashed my face in Brighton on the Frank Carter tour, that was funny.” On another occasion, he managed to bust his own nose open while trying to carry a hi-hat stand off stage. Pointing between his eyes to the exact point the cymbals left a lasting scar, he quickly remembers accident number three. “We found out the other day that I hit myself too hard in Austria and I had a tiny little fracture on the top of my jaw, there,” he says, poking the side of his face with a grin. Only a slight one, mind – as a result of his over-excited punching of his own head during shows (don’t ask), he can’t fully close his mouth anymore. “We’re going to make him wear a helmet!” Chris laughs. Amidst all this blood-soaked chaos, they’ve racked up some 49
serious road miles. Barely off the tarmac for nearing a year, Milk Teeth have relished the challenge of the selection box of bands they’ve shared stages with. From the aforementioned Franks Iero and Carter, through Jaws, Title Fight, and their swiftly approaching “massive” dates with shiny pop-rockers Tonight Alive, no two billings have been the same. “We kind of like that,” Chris admits. “I think if you just play to the same people, you’re never gonna grow, y’know? If only one person likes it at a show, then you’re still winning.” “We’re like Marmite on those tours,” says Oli. “Some people get really into it and some people just despise us.” Not that he pays any notice to the detractors: “Its funny watching people cringe when you play really loudly – I take a lot of pleasure in that.” “It’s cool,” Becky agrees. “‘Cause we’re not really niche, as such. I’d say we’ve got a lot of influences that are brought together in our music, but it crosses over into a lot of different fanbases. I like playing to different people.” With that Refused show just hours away, they’re approaching their biggest crowd yet. “No pressure!” she laughs.
or ex-vocalist Josh Bannister though, the pressure point had been reached - just a couple of days after the show, he revealed to the band that he’d be leaving. “We weren’t surprised when he told us,” Chris admits a few weeks later. “The whole atmosphere felt a bit weird and you could tell that he wasn’t into it as much. It is like a fresh start, and it’s weird but good timing. It’s a new year, the album comes out, we’re doing a lot more tours. In a weird way, this is a good place to start fresh again.” One listen to Milk Teeth’s debut album ‘Vile Child’ should be evidence enough of their staying power. An intoxicating, swirling mix of the 90s grunge the band grew up on and a soul-baring lyrical honesty, it’s a first full-length that’s already taking them to pastures new. “It was really exciting when we first went over to Europe, so to finally go even further afield, to America, is insane,” Becky marvels. “That’s a long flight,” Chris suddenly realises, “…gonna watch The Avengers like four times!” Oli’s not quite so keen, mind: “I haven’t flown without my mum and I’m pretty scared.” Chris cracks up – “Your mum’s not the pilot!”
travelling,” Oli admits. “Which sounds really stupid, being in a band. I get travel-sick really easily so I have to lie down a lot of the time.” Despite that, they’re all keen to get back on the road – if only to stop themselves checking the YouTube comments that their ‘Brickwork’ video’s amassing. As it turns out, the mostly pop-punk fans that their label Hopeless attracts weren’t quite ready for the scuzzier side of life. “One was like, ‘I want to drown you in acid’ or something…” shrugs Oli. “One guy said to drink bleach and then jump in a wood-chipper,” recalls Chris, cracking up once more. “If you comment on a YouTube video, you’re probably a weirdo.” “You need to get out of your mum’s basement and do some stuff,” Oli says with a smile, before Chris sums up the whole debacle – and, indeed, Milk Teeth’s every batshit move to date with an ethos the three of them could carve in stone: “Standing out’s not necessarily a bad thing.” Milk Teeth’s debut album ‘Vile Child’ is out now via Hopeless Records. DIY
“I’m not very good at
“You need to get out of your mum’s
and do some stuff.” - Oli Holbrook basement
Oli realises that some sod’s removed the trampoline from below.
T H E F E ST I VA L F O R N E W M U S I C
B R I G H T O N • U K • 1 9 T H - 2 1 S T M AY 2 0 1 6
T H U R S D AY 1 9 T H M AY • A L L S A I N T S C H U R C H
OH WONDER SHURA • MURA MASA CORE PROGR AMME
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E A C H T I C K E T I S E X C H A N G E D F O R A F E S T I V A L W R I S T B A N D A L L O W I N G A C C E S S T O C O R E P R O G R A M M E V E N U E S S U B J E C T T O C A PA C I T Y. T O A C C E S S T H E S P O T L I G H T S H O W S T O P U P Y O U R F E S T I VA L W R I S T B A N D F O R £ 8 P E R S H O W, O R P U R C H A S E S E PA R AT E G I G T I C K E T S .
G R E AT E S C A P E F E ST I VA L .C O M
S AV E R T I C K E T S N O W O N S A L E 51
For the first time, Animal Collective kept a layer of mystery around the new record, and made a deliberate decision; they wouldn’t be road-testing a single song from ‘Painting With’ on stage. Noah and Dave explain why. Avey Tare: To make it new, let’s not play it live. Let’s do something completely new. Panda Bear: For us, playing the songs live, a lot of people at the shows record it, and trade the recordings on the internet. That’s really awesome, but it also means that the first impression that a lot of people get is the live, performed version. I think it was exciting for us to go the opposite way, to make this their first impression. I feel like the first impression of a song becomes the de facto version. Avey: Emotionally? Panda Bear: Yeah, it’s easier with the first. Wanting to switch the direction with this one is interesting to us. We’ll see how it goes. 52
and prehistoric punk - it’s just another normal day in the office for Animal Collective. Words: El Hunt. Photos: Mike Massaro.
like the Ankylosaurus,” announces Animal Collective’s Geologist, matter of factly. “It’s got armour and a club tail, with a very square head, and spikes. I know so many dinosaurs,” Brian Weitz goes on, proudly. “I have to read this book called Dinopedia every night to my son.”
From the glitching radio static of previous album ‘Centipede Hz.’ to humid, undergrowth-shaking Jurassic pop; it’s just another casual step in the wildly varied, never-slowing universe of Animal Collective. Recorded in a Hollywood studio, under the glare of muted dinosaur documentaries playing on loop, ‘Painting With’ takes its name from sloshing paintbrushes and modge-podged collages. Sonically, Animal Collective were thinking about Cubism, constantly targeting the heart of a song before even trying to splice and abstract things. Panda Bear, Geologist and Avey Tare wanted to write a record with all of the immediacy of The Ramones, but diced up, rearranged, and viewed through a physic-defying prism. The Ramones connection, though important, was just a starting point. “It’s not like we wrote songs about sniffing glue,” jokes Geologist. “There was this idea of wanting to do something with short songs, with a homogenous energy to the record,” says Noah Lennox, otherwise known as Panda Bear. “Something where the first song revs up the engine, and it kind of just cruises after that. We didn’t want to throw in some ethereal moment. We wanted to do something that blasted away the whole time.” Chasing a “70s punchiness” and a crisp sound, ‘Painting With’ is sparser than previous Animal Collective records. With the layers of meticulous fuzz-covered samples stripped right back, every element operates in full view, like a transparent Swatch-watch. West Coast whistles cruise smoothly down the sprawling boulevards of ‘Bagels in Kiev’, while lead single ‘FloriDada’ bounces happily along, trailing gargled lyrics in its pogoing wake. Animal Collective, more surprisingly, buy into the idea of traditional song structures more than ever before. “It’s about the nature of skewed perspective, and looking at things from lots of different directions at the same time,” says Avey, aka Dave Portner. “With the traditional pop song you might have two verses, a chorus, another verse,” adds Panda Bear. “Those elements are here quite a bit, but distorted in weird, perhaps unconventional ways.”
Animal Collective want to become the next Picasso. Almost there, lads.
“In the same way, there’s an aspect of 53
Dadaism where you take something familiar and turn it into art. Maybe it’s something else, out of context,” says Avey, referencing the art movement which inspired ‘FloriDada’’s title, and, it turns out, much of the record. A movement built on putting urinals on display in snotty-nosed art galleries, and writing nonsense poems out of randomly jumbled words, Animal Collective directly borrowed Dada’s love of surprise. And, combining samples from dinosaur documentaries with burglars, and recordings of childrens’ paddling pools, very little is off limits in this particular collage. “We were using collage, which is something that a lot of Dadaists did, like Duchamp,” Avey Tare goes on, referencing the unofficial lead artist of Dada. “We’d take a sample from a popular television show or song, or a court case, and we’d use it as an instrument.” Though the band agree they’ve always been interested in the idea, it has never been as pronounced as on ‘Painting With’. “I don’t know that it has ever had such a purpose before,” concludes Noah. “On ‘Centipede Hz.’ all the collages that I made were usually in between the songs as a segue to space out to,” Brian adds. “On this, it’s more like cutting something and pasting it straight into the middle of a song.” The idea of doing your own thing is a recurrent theme on this new record. Pushed right up in the mix, their voices at times morphing into one larger force, ‘Painting With’ sounds distinctly removed from Animal Collective’s usual love of interplay, and call and response. Avey Tare and Panda Bear’s voices morph together by melodic osmosis, and even they admit they have trouble distinguishing. “There’s a very specific design to the way the vocals work together,” explains Noah. We had this idea of wanting to write music for two singers where it felt like one - where they’ve both doing their own thing but working together.” Animal Collective address an especially personal form of connection on ‘Bagels in Kiev’. It’s less about a love of the humble breaded foodstuff itself, and more an exploration of Avey Tare’s family history, and exactly how he’s supposed to relate to his past, years removed from it. “My grandfather’s from Kiev, and he came over to Ellis Island when he was a kid with his family,” Dave says. “They’re a family of bakers. To me, the song is about connecting to a past you never experienced.” His vague, but not entirely concrete sense of
personal connection to the current political unrest in Ukraine is also a factor, he says. “I talk a lot about the violence and that sort of thing, and having a connection to Kiev through my family being bakers, but also not having a connection to the more political side of things. Can that skew my vision of a place, and where I’m from?” he asks. After launching the pirate-radio inspired ‘Centipede Hz.’ on their own late-night show, Animal Collective set out with an equally deliberate plan for this new record, playing it for the first time in Baltimore airport as hundreds of thousands of Americans travelled home to see their families over the Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a fitting first airing for an album that craves connection, and looks to build links at every turn. Though it might approach things through a skewing, disorientating lens, ‘Painting With’ is always looking to jumble problems into solutions again; work things out. For the first time, Animal Collective say they have started to think more about exactly what the band means. Avey Tare mentioned it in passing to DIY as they re-issued ‘Prospect Hummer’ - their 2007 Vashti Bunyan collaboration - for last year’s Record Store Day. It’s a sentiment both Panda Bear and Geologist agree with. “We’ve been around longer than most of my favourite bands,” observes Geologist. “In a depressing way, I think, we’ve been around a fucking long time, how come you’re not sick of us? They might be? I don’t feel like we’re a band people grow old with,” he claims. “It feels like we’re reloading a new generation. Every time a young kid finds us, and they only know our last two records.” It’s testament to Animal Collective’s constant hunger for experimentation and new territory. Leaving the door wide open for new fans with every single record, the vital energy that connects the band is their secret ingredient. “Injecting this very primitive, energetic feeling into the music goes back to the feeling we had when we were younger,” smiles Noah Lennox. “It’s always about new energy.” Animal Collective’s new album ‘Painting With’ is out on 19th February via Domino. DIY
There’s so much buzz around Animal Collective, they. need to protect themselves from the bees.. 54 diymag.com
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Mystery Jets aren’t just returning with a new album; they’re back as a whole new band. Words: Jessica Goodman. Photos: Mike Massaro.
hen Mystery Jets first withdrew from the spotlight to focus their efforts on album number five, they found themselves without a manager, lacking a publisher, and missing one band member. Two and a half years on and the picture couldn’t be more different. Laughing and joking in a practice studio as they ready themselves for upcoming tour dates, the group are more alive than they’ve ever been. “I think there was less pressure,” frontman Blaine Harrison ponders of working with the band over the past couple of years. “We didn’t have to adhere to anything.” Discovering complete creative freedom, and with the addition of new bassist Jack Flanagan, the quartet set up their own studio in an old, disused button factory, and there they began the writing process anew. “It’s very much a different band,” guitarist Will Rees states. “It’s like being a gang again, which is something we haven’t felt in a while.” “Before this became our day job,” Blaine continues, “when we did it as a way to have fun with each other’s time, that’s what it was. That’s what being in a band is – that gang mentality.” ‘Curve Of The Earth’ embodies the newfound vitality that runs through Mystery Jets’ veins. From the molecular origins of album opener ‘Telomere’
g n i n tur
through to the allencompassing refrains of closing track ‘The End Up’, it’s a bold venture through everything the band once were and have now become. “We wanted to do something that was great,” Will explains. “Well, initially we wanted to make a space rock concept record. And we did that, actually,” he laughs. “We kind of made two albums in the first two and a half year period. There was ‘Curve Of The Earth: The Beta Version’ before what we have now.”
O An x i s
“It was ‘Curve Of The Earth: Heavy’,” Jack groans. “We did eight months of these tunes, and we played it back to our manager and some friends, and just sat there the whole way, like…” Dropping his head into his hands, he continues. “That was really exhausting.” “It was ‘Curve Of The Earth: Slow And Long’,” Will adds. “Every track was about nine minutes.” “What was missing was an entrance to the record,” the frontman explains. “I don’t think we felt like we had a beginning for the album. And that’s why we went away, and we wrote what is now the first side of the record. It wasn’t necessarily like ‘we need some singles!’, but more like, how can we invite people into this new world that we’ve made?” “It’s contrast, really, I think,” Jack contemplates. “With the last batch of songs we did we really wanted to create a contrast throughout the record. So I think when you get to those moments, they
are like a breath of fresh air, and you’re like ‘wow, I could get lost in this.’” “Anyone can make a record,” Blaine exclaims. “You don’t have to be a producer in the traditional sense. Maybe five or six years ago, I thought being able to produce a record was knowing the best way to mic up a guitar amp, or how to use a mixing desk. Making a record, what that means to me is getting the best out of the people around you.” Taking the helm and producing their own record for the first time may have been a steep learning curve, but there’s no doubt that their efforts paid off. “I think we’re very fortunate,” Blaine expands. “On the one hand, we’re all complaining about how we’re sort of living our lives online, and it gets us down a lot of the time, but we’re also incredibly fortunate that the technology required to make a record is really affordable. We didn’t have the hot pastries being brought in every morning, or the constant stream of soya lattes of yesteryear, but…” “Soya lattes weren’t invented yesteryear,” Will interrupts with a grin. “But that’s a really good point,” he continues. “To make an album, you need less than you think you need.” Keeping that wish alive for two and a half years, Mystery Jets have returned victorious. “You’ve got to be persistent, and don’t lose the faith,” Jack urges. “Keep clocking your hours in.” “We started out working 9-5,” Blaine recalls, “and by the end it was 5-9.” Out of the topsy turvy studio they built for themselves, inspired by Stewart Brand’s counterculture magazine, Whole Earth Catalogue and its enduring motif of ‘stay hungry, stay foolish’, with ‘Curve Of The Earth’ the band have created a world for anyone’s taking. “That’s very much what we want to do,” Blaine enthuses, “to keep that innocence, to keep a wonder about the world.” “I’d
“ I N I T I A L LY
WA N T E D
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like people to be able to put themselves in it,” Will expresses. “That’s how I feel about music I really like. I relate to certain lyrics or lines, and I make memories with certain things I hear in a time or place. If people can do that…” “I think that’s right,” Blaine embellishes. “I hope people let it into their lives. I think a lot of the records that we love are the records that you go back to again and again. A ‘grower’ is a funny way to describe your own record, but I really feel that if people give it a chance, they’ll allow it to get under their skin.” “I love it when you come back to a record – maybe you’ve left it a few years and you’re a bit older, or something’s changed in your life,” Jack describes, “and you suddenly pick out certain points in the lyrics. I think with this record most of the themes are about people being at a certain point in their lives. I think that maybe somebody who – like at my age, is a few years younger than the people who wrote the songs – they can listen now and enjoy it, but maybe in five or six years time they’ll really get it.” “I think we did that a lot on this album,” Will agrees. “We used the past to write a lot of the songs, because the songs are about personal things that’ve happened and made an impression. But I think the future’s a much more exciting place than the past, and the present is a much more exciting place than the past.” “That said, I think you do need that glance over your shoulder, through the rose-tinted spectacles, perhaps, just to appreciate where you have come,” Blaine adds. “It’s a very important part of who you are.” Mystery Jets’ new album ‘Curve Of The Earth’ is out now via Caroline. DIY
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The past three years have been torrid for Zachary Cole Smith. Addiction, controversial bandmates and his relationship have set the agenda. New album ‘Is The Is Are’ is “my chance at redemption,” he says. Words: Liam McNeilly. Photos: Phil Smithies.
“This record was like a light at the end of the tunnel.” Zachary Cole Smith 60 diymag.com
hen DIIV shared ‘Dopamine’ in the autumn, it felt like a watershed moment. After a critically acclaimed debut – one that’s difficult to believe came out as far back as 2012 given its continual presence – the tumultuous three years that followed have threatened to derail the entire project. In that period, we’ve seen the focus move away from ‘Oshin’, with DIIV becoming a divisive point of debate. With ‘Dopamine’, there was finally a route out. We were faced with a comeback single that not only announced a band’s long awaited return, but one that once again gave reason for music to be central to the band’s discussion. “A lot of musicians will say, ‘If you think you can read my lyrics and know me, you’re an idiot’,” says Zachary Cole Smith, pointing out that quite the opposite is true of his work on DIIV’s return, ‘Is The Is Are’. For Cole - the focal point and creative drive behind DIIV - the events that thrust him into public view are well documented; addiction, arrest, rehabilitation and his relationship with Sky Ferreira. It’s the context out of which this record emerges from. He confronts and documents all of this with an honesty that’s often brutal on his second LP. Pushing DIIV’s sound to extremes that were untouched on ‘Oshin’, its follow up channels a formula that felt so well honed on that debut, and threads it through new territory. It’s often darker, weirder, and more hellish than what came before, avenues into Cole’s recent history that he invites you to explore with an air of caution. Sat in a London cafe - not far from where he spent unhappy months living when he began to write his own music - he ponders over lyrics from the album’s title track. It’s not a comfortable subject by any stretch. On ‘Is The Is Are’, he sings: “The last time I walked down this street I wanted to die, now I feel like I’m fighting for my life.” In trying to capture the emotions wrapped up in that line, he recounts an horrific childhood story. “When I was in high school a kid in my class committed suicide. He had a twin sister and she told this story about how he committed suicide by drinking gasoline and setting himself on fire. He did all of this, and then the ambulance came to save him and they gave him an oxygen mask and he was holding it on his own mouth. Even though he was trying to kill himself he was trying to save his life too. It’s this weird dichotomy, you can get so down on yourself
but then as soon as you find yourself in a dangerous position there’s some kind of instinct that makes you feel like you have to fight.” ‘Is The Is Are’ is the most resounding and comprehensive symbol of that fight, an album that Cole sees quite matter-offactly as his chance to atone what’s happened in the past three years. “Obviously the stakes were so high for me,” he says. “I took making this record so seriously. I saw it almost as life or death or like my chance at redemption; my light at the end of the tunnel after all this shit happened to me.” One listen to the new record, and it’s clear just how high that bar has been set. DIIV have returned with an album that drips with ambition, and central to that is the desire to say so much more than anything Cole’s put his name to previously. “The main concept of this record is making something very transparent and human, something that really shows my humanity,” he says. After months left without a voice throughout legal proceedings, and witnessing what he saw to be his own persona being reduced to a commodity, it’s something that he values more than ever. “It’s not like the first record where we had this image that we were able to hide behind - this picture and this sound – where we could be mysterious and be out of the spotlight. That luxury was taken away from me when all of a sudden I became like a public figure with everything
that happened. My only option was to just run with it and make something extremely honest and human.” For anyone acquainted with DIIV, Cole’s own obsession with Kurt Cobain is evident – Cobain is referenced numerously in interviews when he talks about the band. When the recent biopic ‘Montage of Heck’ was released, he went to view it with his mother, an experience that she found to be wholly uncomfortable as she recognised the similarity between the film’s protagonist and her own son. But the way Cole speaks about Cobain in relation to his own intention for this record isn’t something that should bring about concern, nor does it drip with the kind of Kurt-complex of which he’s sometimes been accused. Instead, there’s a message of caution and understanding. “Everyone has this fixation on these doomed rock stars. I’m no different,” he says. “When Kurt Cobain jumped over the fence and left rehab, I relate to that feeling. Instead of seeing him as a rock martyr that’s super glamourised, I see him as a person with a problem and flaws. After a lot of the stuff I went through, I started seeing these people I’d looked up to my whole life as humans, and flawed humans, and for me it was eye opening because it no longer glamourised the less savoury parts of their life.” Cole is forthcoming in mapping out this deeply personal backdrop against which this record will sit, keen for it translate as vividly as possible. There’s also an element of wanting to take back control over a project that’s been talked about at length by so many, and a desire to strip away any mythology that might’ve been created. It’s seen Cole, quite explicitly, making himself very visible as DIIV’s central cog, bringing himself into focus and presenting DIIV as his own, singular, creative vision. Events involving the band’s bassist, Devin Ruben Perez, aren’t insignificant in this reclamation
of DIIV’s identity. Many called for Perez to be dropped from the band after he used racist, homophobic and sexist slurs in a string of posts on anonymous message board 4chan. The fallout has left lingering question marks above DIIV ever since. “I didn’t even know what 4chan was. I came at him the same way everybody else did,” says Cole. “It’s sick, he’s not a part of it anymore. But I never wanted to kick him out of the band, because that would give weight to everybody’s accusations and I felt like that’s not the person that Devin is… I know that Devin isn’t racist.” Cole contests that in the fucked up ‘bowels of the internet’, as he once described 4chan, such slurs are commonplace, but it’s context that’s unlikely to appease the swathes of people who were rightfully disgusted. It’s context nonetheless, that Cole uses to reiterate the language isn’t a true representation of Devin’s, nor DIIV’s stance. The potential for resulting jeopardy wasn’t lost on Cole, and he continues to distance himself from the comments. “I can only take responsibility for myself and control myself. I started realising that the band is me, so why should I be dishonest about what we are… DIIV isn’t some guy that I’m friends with, who plays bass on stage, typing shit into 4chan. That’s not what DIIV is.“
“I didn’t want to lie anymore.” - Zachary Cole Smith
It might not be the most watertight statement to close the door on those events, but with ‘Is The Is Are’, Cole is desperate to move on and create a music-focused conversation. When boiled down, this refocusing of DIIV is Cole laying claim to a project that has been all him from the outset – the events with Devin a catalyst rather than a defining factor. At least, that’s his intention. After writing, producing and playing every part on ‘Oshin’, the presentation of DIIV as a group has always been somewhat of a front, and despite writing more with the live band in mind this time round, his own control over ‘Is The Is Are’ became yet greater as he took the step of mastering this record too. ‘Is The Is Are’’s heart is there to be prodded at, and it’ll be analysed throughout the year. Having broken down in the studio at times during its recording - such was the sensitivity of the subject matter - these are songs that Cole will play and relive night after night when taking it on the road. “I think about that a lot”, he says. “Some of the stuff is not easy to do every night, for sure. Sobriety is such a fragile thing and all you can really do is take it one minute at a time. “Sometimes I feel like yeah, something will kind of trigger me, but also this record was like a light at the end of the tunnel – this was my way out of everything that happened. It was one of the worst, most terrible, and greatest periods of my life, just up and down. I really saw it as the thing that was going to pull me out of this, so playing the songs, I do feel a sense of accomplishment, a sense that it is starting to pull me up into a new chapter of my life. That’s the best thing for me to think about.” DIIV’s new album ‘Is The Is Are’ is out 5th February via Captured Tracks. DIY
DAVID BOWIE blackstar (rca)
Throughout his life, David Bowie was always a synonym for ‘reinvention’, the master of messing with people’s expectations, waiting for the rest of us to catch up. ‘Blackstar’ shows that we never really did. As Tony Visconti said on the day of his death: “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life - a work of art.” He was always an artist who teased, surprised and produced the astounding. Although despite returning gambit ‘The Next Day’ being surprising and unexpected, it also seemed to be a sign that the master was ready to celebrate the spoils of his incomparable legacy. Listened to before the tragic news, ‘Blackstar’ demonstrated, unequivocally, that Bowie would never settle, that he was always light-years ahead of everyone else. Listening afterwards, however, the album becomes deeper, broader and more remarkable. Here was an artist beyond equal, even when staring his own mortality in the face. The songs tackle illness, death and heaven face on – “I’m not a pop star, I’m a blackstar” seems to show a master assured of his legacy. ‘Blackstar’, like all his best work, is an album which takes inspiration from unexpected and unfamiliar areas. Tony Visconti said that they’d admired how Kendrick Lamar’s album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ stood both within and outside hip hop. It’s this type of thinking that makes the album so startling, taking in not just hip hop and abstract jazz but also warped showtunes, folk-pop and even theatre. It’s that wideness of scope that’s the most exhilarating aspect. From challenging, in your face exploration to beautifully light-as-air soulful ballads, there’s a constant idea that there’s no clue as to where the next track will swerve. In many ways ‘Blackstar’ sees tradition thrown out of the window. It’s something that’s clear from the title track’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, which somehow goes from ambient-prog-electro through to dark soulful elegance - not to mention multiple narrators – while still retaining its shape and identity. The lyrics, like so many on the record, now appear so prophetic: “Something happened on the day he died / Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside”. And then there’s ‘Lazarus’ which seems to be another explicit farewell song, “Look up here,” he begins, “I’m in heaven.” ‘Blackstar’ is a compelling masterpiece. The strength alone it would have taken just to make the record is a feat in itself – to make something so exceptional shows what a singularly unique artist he was. David Bowie may have gone, but ‘Blackstar’ is a spellbinding final chapter in a book that dazzled and astonished with every page. This album allowed him to take ownership of his legacy. Only David Bowie could orchestrate the exact nature of his final act. We’ve lost the very best. But in time we can take warmth from realising how lucky we were to have the Starman around. (Danny Wright) Listen: ‘Lazarus’ 64 diymag.com
Farewell, Starman A musical genius, remembered by the greats.
Win Butler (Arcade Fire): “Goodbye friend. So many tears, and so lucky to have passed in the same solar system.” Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney): “It feels like we lost something elemental, as if an entire colour is gone.” Iggy Pop: “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is.” Savages: “Thank you for being a true artist to the end. We will miss you dearly.”
eeee ULRIKA SPACEK
eee JACK GARRATT
The Album Paranoia (tough love)
One night in Berlin: that’s all it took for Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams to form and conceptualise Ulrika Spacek and decide on the title ‘The Album Paranoia’. Reinforced by three further members during recording back in London, their debut LP is an immense experience, full of otherworldly ambience. ‘The Album Paranoia’ takes the listener on a mind-altering journey through a supernatural soundscape, a maze of guitars that drone menacingly and chime harmoniously. It could so easily serve as the soundtrack to a trip through space-time. (Tom Hancock) Listen: ‘Airportism’
Falsetto-fused electronic and drum n’ bass wizardry explodes from the very beginning of ‘Phase’ in ‘Coalesce (Synesthesia Pt. II)’ and rests comfortably on tracks like ‘Chemical’, while a standout duo of smooth movers ‘Worry’ and ‘The Love You’re Given’ calm matters down. Jack Garratt really takes the songwriting transition of slow builds and euphoric bridges into gigantic choruses to another level. The impressive one-man band excursion Garratt fulfils live however is something that ‘Phase’ attempts but, at times, struggles to replicate. (Joanie Eaton) Listen: ‘Weathered’
eee SO PITTED neo (Sub Pop)
Based in Seattle and signed to Sub Pop, So Pitted don’t so much relive grunge’s heady days as rip up the formula entirely. Whenever debut LP ‘neo’ swerves close to normality, these formula-shunners tear things to shreds. It’s maddeningly loud, loosely formed, disgusting like a romantic weekend trip down the local sewers. This is an offensive blitz into the unknown with occasional hints that So Pitted might be on to something. Just the way they like it. (Jamie Milton) Listen: ‘the sickness’
‘Vile Child’ charges straight to the he ad of t h e pa c k . eeee
MILK TEETH Vile Child (Hopeless)
Stretching, yawning and yelping like a teenager with growing pains, Milk Teeth’s earliest days were defined by their youth. Storming with their ‘Smiling Politely’ EP and following it with one of 2015’s finest, ‘Sad Sack’, they proved themselves masters of grungy, moody melancholy. Twirling into view like an overexcited child after one-too-many Panda Pops, ‘Vile Child’ picks up the baton laid down and charges straight to the head of the pack. ‘Brain Food’ steals the show with a stop-start thrash, but they can slow things down too. With departed co-vocalist Josh Bannister already seeking out pastures new, and a new era for Milk Teeth beginning, there’s sure to be leaps and bounds ahead. In the meantime, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better document of troubled teenagehood than ’Vile Child’. (Tom Connick) Listen: ‘Brain Food’
eee YOUR FRIEND
eee TUFF LOVE
Your Friend’s unusual combination of the ultra-real with the unnatural world of electronic manipulation makes for an unsettling final product. Everything feels at once intimate and distant, as Taryn Miller’s vocals drift woozily in and out of focus, going from a whisper in your ear to a far-off echo in an instant. The tranquil beauty of opener ‘Heathering’ sets the bar high and for the most part, the remainder follows suit, in what is almost entirely a deeply interesting and cleverly crafted debut. (Henry Boon) Listen: ‘To Live With’
Tuff Love’s three EPs - 2014’s ‘Junk’, and last year’s ‘Dross’ and ‘Dregs’ - showed them as one of the most promising fuzz pop bands in the UK, all sugarsweet melodies and crunching choruses. This, a compilation of the trio of releases and discography of sorts, flows as an LP surprisingly well considering. Not only does ‘Resort’ give a greater exposure to the excellent but largely under-the-radar ‘Junk’ tracks, but it ramps up the excitement for LP1 proper. If a debut album follows soon, the momentum could take them to big things. (Will Richards) Listen: ‘Slammer’
A s pat c h w o r k a s they come. eee
HYMNS (Infectious Music)
Plagued with conspicuously missing founding members and a first single that elicited the kind of response usually reserved for a Nickelback return, Bloc Party’s fifth LP has been an uphill climb. In its full form, there’s more to love than ‘Hymns’’ teasers might’ve suggested. ‘The Love Within’ is still a gratingly unnecessary delve into entry-level synth-worship, but when its successor is the haunting ‘Only He Can Heal Me’, it’s almost forgivable. It’s that unbalanced see-saw that defines ‘Hymns’. Granted, too much of the album’s midsection is plagued by Kele’s whimper, and the experimentation with guitar sounds sometimes prioritises method over melody, but there are diamonds in the rough that shine as bright as the best of Bloc Party. Like the band themselves these days, though, ‘Hymns’ is as patchwork as they come. (Tom Connick) Listen: ‘Only He Can Heal Me’
Sunflower Bean reveal the inspirations behind ‘Human Ceremony’
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours I had never listened to this album until the summer that we were working on our own, and I feel like it really rubbed off on me. The songwriting and pop sensibility inspired me to look closely at what makes a song great. - Nick Kilven
SUNFLOWER BEAN Human Ceremony (Fat Possum)
Formed at school, Sunflower Bean have been going for years, so they’re not exactly a flash-in-the-pan attempt to weave madness out of whatever they can get their hands on. But their first work has this impression. ‘Human Ceremony’ gives in to intuition. Whether they’re ramming home psychedelic sludge in ‘Wall Watcher’ or forging dreamy melody out of lighter parts, like in ‘Easier Said’, they’re shunning perfectionism for a gut feeling. It might have taken years to form the blueprint, but ‘Human Ceremony’ works best when it’s a headrush. After a disjointed, unnerving title-track, the record discovers a zest through the DIIV-like ‘2013’ and ‘This Kinda Feeling’, all mammoth bass parts and spiralling guitar lines. It isn’t anywhere near fault-free, but its charm arrives when the trio get ahead of themselves. They’re the kind of band who’ll make you want to form your own. (Jamie Milton) Listen: ‘Easier Said’
eeee QUILT Eliot St. (Mexican Summer)
The four members that make up Boston’s Quilt have always been a collaborative bunch. Across their first two albums, the quartet moulded themselves into an undefinable group, thoroughly influenced by the improvisational scene that grew from within their city in the last decade. Now with their third record, ‘Plaza’, Quilt have filtered their idiosyncratic tendencies into a melting pot of alternative-pop, with considerably prosperous effect. ‘Plaza’ is a culmination of the group’s various penchants, with Quilt cementing themselves in the process. In boldly delving into their pop sensibilities, the group have created an album that encompasses their intriguing convictions for different genres and refined it into a record of high quality. (Ross Jones) Listen: ‘O Connor’s Barn’
ee RA RA RIOT
Need Your Light (Barsuk)
With ‘The Rhumb Line’ long being seen as their peak, Ra Ra Riot seem to be one of those bands who just can’t escape their own successful debut. Is fourth album ‘Need Your Light’ the moment they can finally move on? Unfortunately, no. Opening track ‘Water’, their collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, is a decent start, setting the scene for an album that wants to sound bigger. It’s good to see that Ra Ra Riot are making clear efforts to move away from their roots, but, elsewhere, there’s not too much to see. It’s an album that wants to charm, but instead somehow manages to rubs up the wrong way. (Lucas Fothergill) Listen: ‘I Need Your Light’ 68 diymag.com
The Beach Boys – Smiley Smile I have always been a huge Beach Boys fan... I had a huge phase when I was about 14 years old where I listened to them exclusively along with the choral music I was studying in school. I think all of that really affected me. I wanted to bring some of those harmonies and musicality into our album as much as I could. - Julia Cumming The Grateful Dead – Blues For Allah I’ve dabbled with their music at different points throughout my life but this past summer I really got into this record. It’s really weird and scary. Definitely not hippy bullshit like a lot of people paint them as. - Jacob Faber
eeee NIGHT BEATS
MONEY’s second album ‘Suicide Songs’ isn’t shy of stating its intentions early, from the album title, to the graphic cover art, to song titles that range from the ridiculous ‘You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky’ to the bluntly bleak ‘Hopeless World’. First impressions shouldn’t count for everything though, and ‘Suicide Songs’ is often more hopeful than these might suggest. When it works, it feels like a world beater, and thus moments of inconsistency are frustrating. The visceral imagery and headlines that ushered in ‘Suicide Songs’ end up serving to hold it back a little; an album that’s excellent at times, but which arrived with preconceptions so strong they could never be matched. (Will Richards) Listen: ‘I’ll Be The Night’
eeee CROSS RECORD
Who Sold My Generation
Sounding like an immediate continuation of 2013’s ‘Sonic Bloom’, Night Beats’ ‘Who Sold My Generation’ is proof that their unsung debut wasn’t a pot-luck album, and it only gets better. The band’s recent move to Heavenly Recordings seems to have urged them to make their psychedelic rock leanings even more prominent. On paper, ‘Who Sold My...’ offers the listener a cliched spiritual journey, using jangly clangs and stop-start rhythms as its trademarks. ‘Right/Wrong’ infuses the record with subtle funk, while ‘Burn To Breathe’ restores a signature heavier rock element. It’s all happening. Anything goes for Night Beats, and their second LP sees them opening new doors. (Mollie Mansfield) Listen: ‘Burn To Breathe’
(Ba Da Bing Records)
On paper, Emily Cross enjoys a perfectly peaceful, zen existence. Living in near-isolation with husband and studio engineer Dan Duszynski in a place called Dripping Springs, thirty minutes outside of Austin, Texas, she doesn’t have any neighbours to annoy. ‘Wabi-Sabi’ works best when the drums are pounded, and the distortion threatening to overwhelm. Instead of being a divine glimpse into living miles away from the nearest main road or local bus, it showcases the other side of being alone, the joy in doing whatever you want, when you want. It’s difficult to imagine the results being this good if Cross had limited studio time, or if she tried to record vocal takes with strangers listening in. (Jamie Milton) Listen: ‘Steady Waves’, ‘Wasp in a Jar’
I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (Dirty Hit)
Potential chart-toppers don’t come as bonkers, batshit and borderline insane as The 1975’s latest. Where else can you find funk-fledged madness, sorrowful ballads and strange shoegaze numbers in one place? Faced with the prospect of being one of the biggest bands in the country, these four have decided to test out their extremes. The results are a perfect mix of the spectacular and calamitous. Frontman Matty Healy leads the conversation, in that he won’t let you get a word in. “It’s not about reciprocation it’s just all about me,” he sings on ‘The Sound’, declaring himself a “sycophantic prophetic socratic junkie wannabe”. A walking, talking, often topless contradiction, Healy is also capable of provoking tears and anger in the space of a few minutes. When ‘I Like It…’ strikes, it delivers defining moments. But that’s not to excuse the bloated, instrumental rush of ‘Please Be Naked’ and ‘Lostmyhead’, tracks that meander instead of offering breathing space from a glammed-up norm. Trim the fat and you’d wind up with a special record, but with those bizarre moments gone, The 1975 would also lose some of their bombastic charm. They’re best left as a contradiction. (Jamie Milton) Listen: ‘Paris’, ‘UGH!’
Best lef t a contradiction.
When Santigold made her return last year at Latitude - wearing an outfit loosely modelled on a fried breakfast, no less - there were inklings everywhere that she meant business. As it turns out, Santigold goes several steps further on ‘99¢’ . With the help of shrinkwrapping, discount price stickers, and an album that wittily dissects consumer culture, she turns herself into a satirical business venture, too. Santi doesn’t especially lay into selfie-takers and Instagram narcissism with
all-out lyrical daggers, but she’s constantly aware of it all the same, watchful of how it affects her place in the world as an artist. A quickly rotating roster of producers - including the likes of Rostam Batmanglij, Dave Sitek, and Patrik Berger - lends itself to an album that jumps from the strangely paced, chiming harmonies of ‘Chasing Shadows’ to the lethargic and wonderfully DJ Screwy iLoveMakonnen feature spot, ‘Who Be Lovin Me’, without second thought. Unexplored avenues, Nutriblended genre combinations, and left-field pop gold have always been Santigold’s bag, and though the price tag here may be ‘99¢,’ she’s never sounded freer. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Myself,’ ‘Big Boss Big Time Business’
Don’t You (Columbia)
Kelly Zutrau knows a thing or two about heartbreak. Fronting Wet on debut album ‘Don’t You’, she has a habit of piercing silence with cutting truths. She’ll dismiss hopeless chancers trying to string on to the dying embers of a relationship on ‘It’s All in Vain’, and ‘Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl’ is more a future-paving declaration than a simple refusal. These emotions are complex, but they’re delivered by Zutrau in a simple, straight-forthe-gut fashion. At first, Wet live up to their name. They’re earnest, soft-hearted souls who wouldn’t hurt a fly, on initial glance. But burrowed deep within ‘Don’t You’ is a don’t-fuck-with-me mantra. Closer ‘These Days’ ends on a simple, cutting conclusion: “Today I am away from you, today time passed strangely.” Unflinchingly honest, Wet don’t specialise in happy endings, but they’re always telling a good story. (Jamie Milton) Listen: ‘It’s All in Vain’, ‘You’re the Best’
The Massachusetts trio have made a bloody good album with ‘Don’t You’. They tell DIY about how it all came together. You worked with Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift for some sessions on the record. What were those like? Magical. We’ve worked with him a lot and they have been some of the most productive and special sessions we’ve ever had. Patrick has been making albums for a lot longer than us and he’s been a real comforting presence as we’ve navigated making our first album and being on a major label and a bunch of other stuff. Despite the odd collaboration, was there still a sense you wanted to keep this record to yourselves? We worked with other people too and they were all positive, productive experiences. But it became clearer and clearer throughout the process that it was important for us to figure out what we sounded like on our own. We
are open to collaborating more intensely on future projects but for this first big release it was necessary to establish ourselves exactly as ourselves. There are certainly other people who helped shape the album but it was important that we had ultimate control over everything and if you co-produce something even if it’s for your project you usually can’t have that kind of control. Getting the @wet Twitter handle must have taken some doing. Who did you have to kill? We met someone who worked there pretty randomly and asked for the handle jokingly and he said he would try and then a week later it was ours! People have tried to kill us for it though. We get offers and threats all the time!
PHOTO: EMMA SWANN
a n i m m e d i at e a n d physical new d i r ec t i o n .
eeee ANIMAL COLLECTIVE Painting With (Domino)
Photo: Emma Swann
Dada, dinosaurs and Ukranian baked foodstuffs; the acrylic-covered palette of Animal Collective’s ‘Painting With’ is a multi-hued splurge of technicolour paints morphing and mixing together without containment. “I wanna discover the key and open the everywhere place,” sing a spliced together Panda Bear and Avey Tare amid the cut-and-stick lyrical garbles of ‘FloriDada,’. With every sound shoved forward in the mix, oodles of white space floats inbetween the splats. Every moment is for the taking. ‘Painting With’ marks an immediate, and physical new direction, and anything seems possible. It’s a pretty fitting pursuit for a band clearly obsessed with Dadaism. Though Animal Collective aren’t exactly doing a Duchamp and plonking an autographed urinal in a lofty gallery, they forever embrace mess over logic. An album about doing away with boundaries, escaping definition, and running riot across a whole world of possibilities, Animal Collective have discovered that all-access portal key they’re searching for in ‘Painting With’. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Bagels in Kiev’, ‘Golden Gal’
eeee YUCK Stranger Things
With their fittingly-titled single ‘Rebirth’ three years ago, Yuck’s guitar riffs grew larger and fuzzier, like they’d taken a swig of Alice in Wonderland’s ‘Drink Me’ moonshine. Their music grew ever more hungry and urgent, like an impatient reveller anticipating a Five Guys double patty cheeseburger. ‘Hold Me Closer’ kicks things off in a cacophonous, head-pounding haze, frontman Max Bloom sounding like Jeff Mangum taking up a brief guest spot in Sonic Youth. Quiet pockets are answered by bold, no-messing choruses. Though the London band don’t exactly attack in a fist-raised blaze of mega-riffs, they hit hard all the same with quick, sharp, and consistently executed blows of effortless songwriting. (El Hunt) Listen: ‘Hold Me Closer’
This Is Acting
(Monkey Puzzle - RCA)
The central concept of ‘This Is Acting’ - an album of rejected pop songs written to other artists’ templates is an intriguing prospect. In the sky-high brilliance of ‘Alive’, the brassily chaotic, Amerie drum-lick channelling ‘Sweet Design’, the chart-ready ‘Unstoppable’ and the fearsome emotional welly of ‘Bird Set Free’, Sia asserts her place as one of pop’s leading songwriters, and gives a glimpse of the mysterious cogs powering the likes of Beyoncé and Adele from behind the shimmery curtain. It’s also an idea that, beyond this album’s standout moments, wears a little thin. ‘Cheap Thrills’ - all muffled euro-synths, and generic talk of having fun on a Friday night - isn’t a particularly good song, to put it simply. Rihanna was probably wise to pass on it. It’s a similar story with ‘Footprints’, a strangely void song about two feet tramping through the sand. Acting this may be, but Sia is a more interesting prospect when she goes offscript. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Alive’, ‘Reaper’ 71
ee FIELD MUSIC Commontime
Field Music’s new LP, ‘Commontime’, bears all the hallmarks of the Brewis brothers’ wayward talents: asymmetrical rhythms, wry humour, interweaving vocal harmonies, classic pop/rock sensibilities and genre-merging surprises. Each track feels awkwardly personal, like an internal dialogue or a snippet of an accidentally overheard conversation. In short, it’s prime Field Music output. Sadly, despite some truly magnificent moments, it also falls prey to the duo’s tendency to create music that sounds more like a conceptual play filled with clever reference points. When it reaches its last four tracks ‘Commontime’ starts to feel like an overextended proggy concept. In the end, this is an album with a whimsical construct that fails to live up to its musical promise. (Anastasia Connor) Listen: ‘It’s A Good Thing’
All I Need (Epic)
Not many people can claim to have won a Grammy before even releasing their debut album, but for Foxes, that was just the order of business. Fast forward two years and Louisa Rose Allen is about to hit another landmark; her second album. Where first full-length ‘Glorious’ saw her establish herself with an array of songs written across her earlier years, it’s with ‘All I Need’ that she really comes into her own. A confidence that only comes with experience flows through its tracks and it’s clear she’s truly found her voice. (Sarah Jamieson) Listen: ‘Better Love’, ‘Money’
eeee DIIV Is The Is Are
E v e ry t h i n g is under the sp otlight (Domino)
DIIV can’t escape context. Not least when questions remain unanswered, despite second album ‘Is The Is Are’’s finest efforts to provide an antidote to controversy. In this magazine, Zachary Cole Smith goes in depth about his bandmates, drugs, relationships, his arrest. His life has transformed since the release of debut ‘Oshin’. Everything is under the spotlight. This record documents decline, hope and everything in between, fever and adrenaline defining its every move. Tough reality remains, but ‘Is The Is Are’ is something of a miracle-worker in its ability to divert attention from Cole’s struggles. The album pendulum swings between two extremes. It plummets into darkness on ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’ and a galloping title-track, laced with Cole’s most upfront lyrics. But ‘Is The Is Are’ has another, equally enrapturing side. Clashing heads with darkness is a sweet, lovedup side, the likes of which has no bounds. ‘Under the Sun’ races ahead with heart emojis for eyes, while ‘Valentine’ flips the idea of addiction of its head into a severe, spiralling romance. Sky Ferreira guests on the repetitive thud of ‘Blue Boredom’. It’s not one of the album’s finest moments, but it has its place. Everything is laid bare on ‘Is The Is Are’. Cole’s well and truly made his point here. (Jamie Milton) Listen: ‘Healthy Moon’, ‘Dust’
eee TY SEGALL
Emotional Mugger (drag city)
“Emotional mugging,” explains Ty Segall, “is a psychoanalytic subject-to-subject exchange formed as a response to a hyperdigital sexual landscape.” Another in a long line of non-sequiturs from the Californian lo-fi hero, it sets the tone for the bizarre world you enter when you spin a Segall LP. Strap yourselves in for this is his weirdest yet. Taking the baton from 2014’s ‘Manipulator’, ‘Emotional Mugger’ is an altogether different beast. It ditches the straightforward garage rock structures of its elder sibling in favour of loops and mantras and is, notably, a much darker affair. Whereas the former let in the odd crack of light, this time Segall pulls the cellar door and barricades himself in, creating a thoroughly paranoid, claustrophobic realm. At times, it works. Tracks like ‘Mandy Cream’, ‘Squealer’, and ‘Squealer Two’ - with their sumptuous glam rock groove - succeed due to the sheer muscle of their hooks. Too often though ‘Emotional Mugger’ is let down by simple self-indulgence. This is a decent effort made frustrating by Segall’s prodigious talent. The production is crisp and clean, and his tight, always-on-the-verge-of-shattering falsetto is in top form. An album bursting with ideas, it too often disappears up its own - let’s say - ego. (David Zammitt) LISTEN: ‘The Magazine’
Operator (Republic of Music)
Telegram look like a band who’ve travelled through a timetunnel to get here. Attired like they’ve just walked into a vintage shop and undressed the mannequins in the window display, aesthetically they’re as retro as their name ought to suggest. On their debut LP, they prove they have the sound to match, as they amalgamate elements of krautrock, proto-punk, glam and psych – and triumph in doing so. As undeniably suave and sophisticated an album as it is, there’s a controlled chaos coursing through Telegram’s veins at certain points throughout ‘Operator’. They didn’t rush this debut, and the compelling finished article is proof that patience pays dividends in the album game. (Tom Hancock) LISTEN: ‘Taffy Come Home’
Promise Everything (Run For Cover)
When it comes to bands splitting up but quickly reconvening just a few years later, it’s easy to raise an eyebrow and take the cynical stance. Back when Basement bowed out after the release of their 2012 album ‘Colourmeinkindness’, however, it felt like a genuine loss. A staple of UK post-hardcore circles, their return’s since been welcomed with open arms and their newest full-length ‘Promise Everything’ epitomises all of the reasons fans were so eager for their hiatus to end. From the gentle sway of ‘Oversized’ to the gorgeous, melody-filled ‘Aquasun’, ‘Promise Everything’ seems to be the band’s moment of clarity. The soaring opener of ‘Brothers Keeper’ sees them tread into the melodic territory that their previous album hinted at, while the brooding closer of ‘Halo’ offers an intense conclusion to their newest lease of life. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Hanging Around’
eee PINKSHINYULTRABLAST Grandfeathered (ClubAC30)
Upon the release of their first record, ‘Everything Else Matters’, last year, Russian five-piece pinkshinyultrablast were defined by the amount of unadulterated noise the group could create. Now returning with their second, the similarly expansive ‘Grandfeathered’, the impressive nature of layers the group create are somewhat familiar, and it’s when looking for something emotionally satiable that it concerns. As impressively considered as the group are when it comes to their compositions, they evoke a cold feeling of invulnerability within their music that is hard to avoid. (Ross Jones) Listen: ‘Glow Vastly’ 73
When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired
Mothers’ debut begins in charmingly simple fashion. With the bare minimum of twinkling guitar accompanied by the occasional chugging line of strings, ‘Too Small For Eyes’ is a stripped back showcase of the endearing vocals of Kristine Leschper. Sudden shifts in tempo and bursts of noise accompany Leschper’s as she flits between cries and whispers, lifting to euphoric highs before dropping into sorrowful reflection. In part due to the fact that this album is a combination of songs written both in solitude and as a fully-fledged band, and in part due to multi-faceted influence from the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel and Tera Melos, this dancing around and constant change of direction is common. ‘When You Walk...’ is never settled, and never should be. (Henry Boon) Listen: ‘It Hurts Until It Doesn’t’
Porches is the project of singer-songwriter Aaron Maine, whose debut ‘Slow Dance in the Cosmos’ was a breath of fresh air when it emerged in 2013. Now signed to Domino, ‘Pool’ is Porches’ second album proper, and it’s a monumental step in a different direction. Right from opener ‘Underwater’, it’s clear that Maine has refocused Porches as an electronic project. From the subtle hooks of ‘Mood’ and ‘Glow’ to the moodiness of ‘Even the Shadow’, ‘Pool’ is a collection of idiosyncratic, 80s-indebted pop songs that are seeping with Maine’s distinct drawl and a newfound clarity. Mostly recorded in his apartment in New York City, ‘Pool’ still has that bedroom feel that’s come hand-inhand with everything Maine has done previously. When it hits home, it comes off like the promising beginnings of a musician who’s finally starting to find his feet. (Tom Walters) Listen: ‘Mood’
SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS SVIIB (Full Time Hobby)
Over the past three years, the story of School of Seven Bells has been welldocumented, but it’s only now that the band’s Alejandra Deheza will be able to offer up their final chapter. ‘SVIIB’ comes accompanied with a bittersweet story: written in the summer of 2012, the album bears some of the final work of Benjamin Curtis, who passed away after battling T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma throughout 2013. The remarkable part, though, lies in the fact that two years on, the pair’s work is able to shine. Regardless of context, their fourth full-length is their boldest effort yet: from the glowing brilliance of ‘On My Heart’, to the delicate intricacy of ‘Elias’, it’s an album that will stand as the perfect goodbye. (Sarah Jamieson) Listen: ‘Ablaze’
Alejandra Deheza talks DIY through the one-of-a-kind story behind School of Seven Bells’ new album. You guys almost had the album completed when Benjamin was diagnosed, is that correct? Yeah I’d say that we had about 80% of it done. We decided we were going to work with Justin (MeldalJohnsen, producer) and we wanted to have all of the songs written ready for when we had time scheduled in with him, but that time ran into everything that happened. We were going to get together with him to get his touch on it but yeah, the songs were already written. It’s interesting you say that because, both musically and lyrically, the album does feel like the closing of a book or the ending of a chapter. Have you found that the lyrics have taken on new meanings when you listen back to it now? Oh my god. Oh my god yes. Not only that, it was like I had a sense of urgency to tell the story. When I listen back to it now there was an obvious reason for that. I didn’t know why I felt super compelled to write about this stuff. I can’t ever pick what I’m going to write about. I write about things because I feel like I have no choice and that it’s the only thing that comes out at the time. But now I understand it. Before, I didn’t understand and it was really hard, y’know. I was writing about this person and he’s standing right next to me and I have to run these songs by him but I couldn’t talk to him about any of it at the time.
COMING UP eeee
WILD NOTHING Life of Pause (Captured Tracks)
Under the alias of Wild Nothing, Jack Tatum forges worlds of his own making. His music is a shimmering and ethereal escape for whenever the day-to-day can seem too weary. Both bright and blissful, Wild Nothing presents a disorientating venture to dizzy heights, a daydream for the most monotonous of times. ‘Life Of Pause’ is a departure from expectation. The escapist notions that soared through previous releases are grounded in lavish production; the melodies are more tangible. With tracks so vivid they can practically be tasted, Wild Nothing have lost none of the ability to put a daze upon the senses. Taking an unmistakable euphoria and driving it home, with ‘Life Of Pause’ Wild Nothing may have planted his feet firmly on the ground, but that hasn’t stopped Jack from creating a soundscape straight from your wooziest daydream. (Jessica Goodman) Listen: ‘Lady Blue’
Night Thoughts (Suede Ltd.)
If you were approaching this album with hopes for ‘Dog Man Star’ mark II, chances are you’ll be disappointed. But Suede have never claimed to be the same band they were twenty-odd years ago. One of the boldest and most controversial successes to emerge out of the ‘90s, the five-piece bring with them a tumultuous history and a world of wisdom. Resonating with the deep character that only the band’s experience can lead to create, ‘Night Thoughts’ is Suede at their most distinguished. The album is a return to the boundary-pushing form that has always served Suede so well. (Jessica Goodman) Listen: ‘The Fur & The Feathers’
eee MEILYR JONES
Photo: Emma Swann
2013 (moshi moshi)
Why do some artists seem to outlast eternity? You can imagine, in forty years’ time, finding Meilyr Jones in the Welsh valleys, mediating under a tree, and still making wondrous music. The more you listen, the more you start to learn this is not an album of ‘Eleanor Rigby’s; it’s an album of ‘A Day in the Life’s. As he croons on ‘Passionate Friend’, “Sometimes, I’m with the witches”, you don’t know where, or when, he’s going to change next. ‘2013’ doesn’t just sound markedly different to what’s gone before – it sounds different to the previous listen. Each time of listening, there’s a new element you never saw in it before. It’s easy to recognise a work of art. (Andrew Backhouse) Listen: ‘Featured Artist’
LONG WAY HOME
Southport-raised Holly Fletcher, aka Låpsley, will be unveiling her debut LP next month. Her eleventrack record ‘Long Way Home’ is “an autobiography” of the producer’s last year and gets released through XL Recordings on 4th March.
Following on from their 2013 effort ‘Shulamith’, Poliça will be returning with their newest effort ‘United Crushers’ in early March. Recorded in El Paso, Texas, it’s an album that – according to Channy Leaneagh herself – was born in “quite a few different transformative headspaces.”
WHITE DENIM sTIFF
Austin quartet White Denim are back and will be offering up their sixth album next month, when they unveil ‘Stiff’ on 25th March. Produced by Ethan Johns, it’s set to be nine songs of high-octane rock and roll – plus, their song titles have lots of brackets in there, for good measure.
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a huge s p ec ta c l e of a s h o w.
Bournemouth International Centre Photo: Hannah Bowns ow on the homecoming final leg of the ‘This Is All Yours’ tour, tonight Alt-J make a point of the occasion. After all, it takes a huge spectacle for a show to feel squeezed into the Bournemouth International Centre.
The band don’t have any intention of letting the crowd see their faces, as they disappear into the surrounding marvels. It all begins with ‘Intro’, as they take to the stage in darkness, with pulsing white light casting them into silhouettes, only their voices and teasing electronic buzz beneath. By the time ‘Left Hand Free’ is done, twenty-five screens have lowered from the ceiling on wires to engulf both the band and the audience in retina-frazzling light, portraying a new location and concept with every song. Within three songs, this is not just a performance. It’s an intense multimedia experience.
Maximo Park The Roundhouse, London. Photo: Carolina Faruolo
ou wouldn’t begrudge Maximo Park a lap of honour, but this is better than that. Giving a full run to their cherished debut ‘A Certain Trigger’, this is a vibrant and massively entertaining spectacle. The show is split down the middle. The second half handed over to that debut, the first trawling through the rest of their history, commencing with ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’: as giddy an opening as you could want. While it never quite tops ‘Apply Some Pressure’ and ‘Graffiti’, there’s still plenty to remind you of how good ‘A Certain Trigger’ was. Is. ‘The Coast Is Always Changing’ has lost a bit of the air of naive adventure, and gained a more thoughtful, nostalgic tone. See. There it is again. The n-word. Cropping up where you least expect it. However, you don’t walk away from tonight with the view that Maximo Park are now just an act yearning for an earlier time. Future triumph is still well within reach. (Tim Lee)
Tonight is a journey through locations and concepts, especially during the ambience of interlinked tracks ‘Nara and Leaving Nara’, the synth-heavy brood of ‘Hunger of the Pine’, and its polar opposite, the stand-out massive-sounding distorted roaring of ‘Fitzpleasure’, all for which the stage seems custom created. All eyes are fixed forwards, witnessing the signature sound of Alt-J – the distinctive and fragile voice of Joe Newman, versus the complex beats of drummer Thom Green, and synths of Gus Unger-Hamilton. It seems almost an injustice to call Newman the “frontman”, as he functions as a smoke-cloaked central cog to focus upon, challenging everyone to decode and follow him into Alt-J’s world. Between tracks, there is sudden darkness besides the spotlights on each band member. It’s a powerful thump back to earth, and an opportunity for Alt-J to survey the spell they’ve cast on their ecstatic audience. They deserve it. (Nick Pollard)
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Alexandra Palace, London. Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett
ver the last three years Chvrches have climbed to some dizzying heights. From their touring success on both sides of the pond to releasing two incredible records, their achievements thus far all seem to have led to this headline at London’s Alexandra Palace. For those who’ve previously visited the North London venue, it’s no secret that its cavernous space can be rather unforgiving. Tonight, on a rainy Friday evening at the end of the trio’s UK tour, however, everything is on their side. Their glorious sound fills the space brilliantly and their production goes further to match the magnitude of the occasion. It’s the band themselves, though, that really make tonight so memorable. Lauren Mayberry cuts a bewitching figure, dressed in a black tutu leaping across the stage, no holds barred. A confidence flows through her that is breathtaking and, as she moves across the vast stage effortlessly, it’s now that she seems to have really come into her own. To either side of her, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty as are deft as ever, and as a unit, their force feels unstoppable. Tracks like ‘Lies’ and ‘Recover’ seem to have taken on a new lease of life in their set, while newer numbers ‘Never Ending Circles’ and ‘Leave A Trace’ are tailor-made for huge rooms like tonight. ‘Clearest Blue’ comes packed with the euphoric punch that the album teases, while ‘Afterglow’ is even more haunting and grandiose live. Ending with the still-brilliant ‘The Mother We Share’, their headline set may have been the biggest they’ve played so far in their career but it’s still just a glimpse of what’s to come. (Sarah Jamieson)
Moth Club, London. Photos: Emma Swann
verything about Yak frontman Oli Burslem makes him ready-made for a previous era. Those Jagger looks don’t deceive. His band are an exciting reinvention of past motifs, from the trio’s earthshaking powerplay to their swarm of deadly psych. There are a thousand groups from the past they could be compared to, but these three feel vitally real in the present day. Another decade might spit out Yak after a first bite, but they belong in 2015. Tonight’s venue - the gold-covered Moth Club - is, suitably, a relic of the past that’s been given a new sheen. Its low glittery ceilings are a smart fit for Yak’s boundless energy and glam charm. Burslem and co. are launching their Third Man-released EP ‘No’ tonight, and it’s a pity Jack White isn’t in attendance to witness the fearless force of this band.
into place. A Yak show is all well and good when Burslem peers over an organ droning into eternity, or when he’ll use his guitar as some climbing prop towards the ceiling. Reciprocation is when they reach another gear. There’s a permanent pulse in the front rows tonight, but it’s not by default. Like the flick of a switch, Yak’s frontman can go from all out deranged chants (‘No’ being the calling card), or he’ll deliver a more gripping form of noise. The blink-and-you-missed-it ‘Alas Salvation’ gets two outings, and it’s straight from the White Stripes school of gritty rock ‘n roll and complete control. With heads beginning to turn, this deranged reception is the kind Yak will eagerly play to night after night. But take a snapshot of this Moth Club show - shirts off, sweaty bedlam by the end - and it could easily be mistaken for an archive example of how an act can begin their quest for world domination. Yak have all the makings of a special band - what’s striking is just how close they look to the finished article. (Jamie Milton)
It’s one of those nights where everything falls 79
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Hare & Hounds, Birmingham. Photo: Sam Wood
lluminated by a deep red light, there’s something sinister about Demob Happy. With hooks that earworm their way through the system like nothing else, there’s definitely a sense of the darkly addictive in what the Brighton quartet do. Taking to the stage at the Hare & Hounds, Demob Happy are primed to let their vivid sense of turmoil take over. The songs from debut ‘Dream Soda’ may be rawer than their recorded counterparts, but they’re certainly no less dream-like. Layered guitar refrains ebb and flow as they advance, waves of sound forging an eerie and shadowy realm of twisted words and squalling licks. Barely speaking a word between songs, the music that floods the room carries all the power. For half the set, it holds the room entranced. Swaying to the melodies that wander and roam through the speakers, the crowd are
captivated. As the meandering bass line of ‘Wash It Down’ kicks in, Demob Happy’s grasp on the gathered begins to incite. An energy ignites at stage front, starting with those closest and starting to spread. With frenetic moves and a fervent mosh now taking up half the room, Demob Happy reign over the chaos. Distorted refrains channel the disorder to tempered drumbeats, lyrics echoing through the air like beacons amidst the bedlam. Ending with the boisterous ‘Young & Numb’, the gathered throw themselves into the rhythms for one last time. Both calamitous and captivating, Demob Happy’s instinctive force proves to be a spell that can work its way under the skin of anyone. With shouts of enthusiasm echoing out into the street, it’s an enchantment the crowd tonight is happy to be under. (Jessica Goodman)
The Magic Gang The Lexington, London. Photos: Nathan McLaren-Stewart
e’ve just realised this is an 18+ show,” notes The Magic Gang bassist Gus Taylor, just before his band deliver the penultimate song of a headturning set at The Lexington. They might be on the slow side when it comes to gig organisation, but everything else in their canon is remarkably slick - way more so than this time twelve months back. They’re a pristine guitar pop outfit, ready for the 2016 charge. Even their shirts are tucked in, these days. The group’s loyal, under-18 brigade are indeed in absence today, and it’s notable in the opening half of tonight’s show. Sweet-hearted pop with a ‘50s nostalgia twist might be The Magic Gang’s game, but they’re well used to playing to seas of crowdsurfers and flailing arms. A barmy default mode is swapped for something more considered. In between songs,
Cool, commanding and teeming with charisma.
XOYO, London. Photo: Abi Dainton
they even opt for jazzy, instrumental interludes. But it’s all tongue in cheek, guitarist / vocalist Kristian Smith huskily whispering “jaaaaazz”, well aware of the different circumstances. Early numbers ‘She Won’t Ghost’ and ’Alright’ come closest to reaching bedlam. Tracks from a forthcoming EP are also given a round, but it’s in the fresher material that truly strikes gold. Taylor takes on vocal duties for the first time on one number, and other tracks come off like a hybrid of Mac DeMarco and Weezer. They’re comparisons that have followed The Magic Gang’s every move up to now, but they’re likely to stick. The future is ridiculously bright for this lot. They’re taking on new roles, trying new things, all while gradually establishing themselves as one of the UK’s best new bands. (Jamie Milton)
aving a cult following is nothing to be snarked at, but it’s always not always a notch on the bedpost of success. Still, XOYO is swimming, almost drowning, with people tonight. There’s a pair to the right desperately squabbling over who’s going to stand in front of who, equally, there’s a group equidistant bopping behind a stone pillar and that’s fine by them. MØ doesn’t only appeal to a certain circle of hardcore believers. She arrives to a frantic crowd as piercing white lights introduce her into the handclap heavy rhythms of ‘Pilgrim’. Taking this all in are an audience that have all since thrown their composure to the wind. Demonstrating her ability to contest impressive vocals with unbridled energy the Danish artist, quickly ditching her slick silver bomber, refuses to stop dancing. Curling, punching and gliding her hands through every beat as though orchestrating the entire thing through her fingertips, there’s a distinctive sense that she’s thoroughly enjoying this. ‘Kamikaze’ bursts down in sticky electro-pop bubbles while ‘Waste Of Time’, arguably her most powerful work to date, emerges snarling and biting. Major Lazer collaboration finale ‘Lean On’ incites full-blown frenzy: an atmosphere spoiled only by a crowd seemingly obsessed with filming the whole bloody thing. The singer only released debut LP ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ a year ago, but the dab-hand confidence that leads her both into and over the heads of the masses makes that all too easy to forget. Cool, commanding and teeming with charisma, Ørsted is an absolute powerhouse tonight. It was always a question of whether her live show could match her studio offerings and actually, it trumps them. This is something to be seen as well as heard. (Maya Rose Radcliffe) 81
Brendon Urie PANIC! AT THE DISCO. Full name: Brendon Boyd Urie Nickname: Bden Star Sign: Aries Pets: A Jack Russell Terrier named Bogart and a Boston Terrier named Penny Lane. Favourite Film: Pulp Fiction. Tarantino is my favourite director I think. Drink of choice: Bourbon on ice. Signature scent: F&R Solid Cologne. It sort of smells like soap? Like it just smells clean and fresh. Favourite hair product: Murray’s Hair Dressing Pomade. If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing: I’d probably still be playing music, but to make money... I was actually on my way to becoming a cosmetologist when I joined this band. Chat up line of choice: Umm... ‘Death of a Bachelor’ is the thing I’m most proud of right now, so I think that’s bragging rights, yeah?
INDIE DREAMBOAT Of the Month
It's the first issue of 2016! With Savages, Milk Teeth, Daughter, DIIV, Mystery Jets, GIRLI, the return of LCD Soundsystem and LOADS more.