S PECIAL COVE R
1 3 of
# T H I S I S DIY
free / issue 30 / june 2014 diymag.com
THE NEXT IN LINE
WOLF ALICE PLUS THE ORWELLS JACK WHITE GEORGE EZRA FIRST AID KIT + more
THE MOST EXCITING BAND IN THE WORLD?
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S RADAR? Victoria Sinden
GOOD DIY’s first three festivals of the year (Live at Leeds, Liverpool Sound City and The Great Escape) were top notch. EVIL We’ve run out of caffeinebased drinks in the DIY bunker. Someone send help. Sarah Jamieson
GOOD So, errrr, this Gerard
Hello, Summer! The sun is out, the festivals are here, and DIY is showing a bit of skin. Metaphorically, obviously. This month we’re launching a brand new website. It’s moved - you’ll find it at diymag.com - and it’s got more bells and whistles than a raving herd of Friesians on a Friday night. As part of that, we thought it was about time we took the pulse of music. It’s been looking a bit excited recently, after all. Under the banner #THISISDIY (cos, y’know, DIY is music) you’ll find the most exciting bands, most essential movements, and the big questions pondered. Get an eyeful, we’re not shy. Stephen Ackroyd
GOOD DIY’s mastermind
of the party, Jack Clothier, dressed as a Viking for a photoshoot pushing a ‘unique’ Nordic fragrance. Priceless.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH “NECROPHILIA IS WORSE THAN KASABIAN.”
EVIL When Morrissey joined Twitter I thought we’d never go hungry for a good story again. Then it turned out to be fake. Heaven knows I’m miserable now.
WHAT’S ON THE DIY STEREO THIS MONTH? Jungle -Jungle
The debut of the year. Funk, dance, whatever you want to call it - there’s a reason why JUNGLE are the most exciting band in the world. Alvvays - Alvvays
If there’s a record more summer-ready and exciting than this debut from Toronto’s Alvvays, the iced lollies are on us.
Way album, ey? That’s gonna be a thing, isn’t it! EVIL I’ve never had to deal with winds like at The Great Escape. I genuinely did start to believe that I might blow away. Louise Mason
GOOD Girl Band at the Great
Escape were the best new band I’ve seen in ages. Twice. EVIL Nearly electrocuting a lot of the UK music scene with my crap wiring of the bulb on the cover. Jamie Milton
GOOD The World Cup!
Especially Chile’s official World Cup slogan: “Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Go Chile!” EVIL England’s World Cup slogan: “The dream of one team, the heartbeat of millions!!” Good luck lads. Emma Swann
Reviews Editor GOOD Jack White’s brilliantly batshit ‘Lazaretto’ 12”. Could he fit any more ideas in? EVIL The wind in Brighton during The Great Escape. Everything since is a light breeze.
6 THE ORWELLS 8 CHILDHOOD 11 KLAXONS
12 GEORGE EZRA 14 FUCKED UP 16 TOM VEK 18 FIRST AID KIT 20 CEREBRAL BALLZY 22 THE ANTLERS
32 ALLIE X 34 HAPPYNESS 35 COSMO SHELDRAKE 3 6 K WA B S 3 8 S Y LVA N E S S O
#thisisdiy 40 JUNGLE The most exciting band the world
54 78 4 diymag.com
48 DISCO//VERY Finding new music 54 PEACE The Godfathers 60 WOLF ALICE Next in line for the throne
68 ALBUMS 78 LIVE
Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden Reviews Editor Emma Swann News Editor Sarah Jamieson Art Director Louise Mason Head Of Marketing & Events Jack Clothier Online Editor Jamie Milton Assistant Online Editor El Hunt Contributors Aurora Mitchell, Coral Williamson, Danny Wright, Dominique Sisley, Greta Geoghegan, James West, Matthew Davies, Nathan Roberts, Stuart Knapman, Tom Morris, Tom Walters Photographers Carolina Faruolo, Mike Massaro For DIY editorial firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales email@example.com tel: +44 (0)20 76130555 For DIY online sales firstname.lastname@example.org tel: +44 (0)20 76130555 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.
RICHFIELD AVENUE, READING | BRAMHAM PARK, LEEDS |AUGUST BANK HOLIDAY READING: FRI 22 | LEEDS: SAT 23
READING: SAT 23 | LEEDS: SUN 24
READING: SUN 24 | LEEDS: FRI 22
FOSTER THE PEOPLE THE HIVES PEACE DRY THE RIVER PULLED APART BY HORSES GNARWOLVES
A DAY TO REMEMBER SLEEPING WITH SIRENS PAPA ROACH YOUNG GUNS TONIGHT ALIVE THE STORY SO FAR
JIMMY EAT WORLD DEAF HAVANA BLOOD RED SHOES CROSSFAITH HACKTIVIST
CLOSING SET FROM:
SBTRKT WARPAINTtTEMPLES TWIN ATLANTIC MALLORY KNOX DRENGE
ANNIE MAC GORGON CITY WILKINSON ALUNAGEORGE PLUS SPECIAL GUEST DUKE DUMONT LOCK UP
JIMMY EAT WORLD BRODY DALLE
%*&"/58003%t%0/#30$0 CAGE THE ELEPHANT LOWER THAN ATLANTIS 30:"-#-00%t."3.0;&54 LONELY THE BRAVE
THE HORRORStTHE KOOKS CLEAN BANDIT JUNGLE THE NEIGHBOURHOOD TWIN SHADOW
ANDY C GESAFFELSTEIN THE GLITCH MOB #03(03&t"%7&/563&$-6# JACOB PLANT
KLAXONS #0:4/0*;& #0/%"9t#&/1&"3$& #3&"$)t4/",&)*14 ELECTRIC YOUTH
OF MICE & MEN ARCHITECTS
GOGOL BORDELLO MÖNGÖL HÖRDE
A WILHELM SCREAMt#"#:(0%;*--"tBASEMENTtDAVE HAUSEtEAGULLStEVERY TIME I DIEtISSUEStLETLIVE. ."3.0;&54tNECK DEEPtPUPtSLAVEStTHE FLATLINERStTHE FRONT BOTTOMStTHE SKINTS THE WONDER YEARS tTOUCHÉ AMORÉ t807&/8"3 STAGE
BAND OF SKULLS
DANNY BROWN | JOEY BADA$$
ALSO JUST ANNOUNCED
BEAR HANDStBIPOLAR SUNSHINEtCATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMENtDARLIAt)6%40/5":-03tMARIKA HACKMAN .":%":1"3"%&tMERIDIAN DANtP MONEYtTHE DISTRICTStTHE ORWELLS OTHER ACTS ALREADY ANNOUNCED
CIRCA WAVEStDAVID RODIGAN MBEt)0;*&3tI AM LEGIONtKREPT & KONANt-*;;0tTHE FAT WHITE FAMILY VIC MENSAtWOLF ALICE
TICKETS FROM: READINGFESTIVAL.COM | LEEDSFESTIVAL.COM | 0871 231 0821 BILL SUBJECT TO CHANGE. CALLS COST 10P PLUS NETWORK CHARGES
NEWS ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC
cattered awkwardly around a backstreet studio in Dalston, The Orwells seem a little out of sorts. A red-faced Mario Cuomo is sat silently in the corner – his hood up and gaze steely – whilst the others stand uncomfortably by. A night of hard partying is apparently to blame, something that makes more sense when you remember they’re technically not old enough to drink back home in the USA. “We’re not really young anymore - 20’s not young, is it?” Henry Brinner pipes up, blearily, “… We’ve been in a band for, like, four years - so it doesn’t really feel like we’re young.” Dom Corso shoots him a baffled look, “20 is pretty young, man… You were like 15 when we started.”
CHICAGO NOISEMAKERS THE O R W E L L S H AV E S O M E S T U F F T O G E T O F F T H E I R C H E S T S . WORDS: D O M I N I Q U E S I S L E Y, P H O T O : M I K E M A S S A R O .
When you consider their relatively diminutive age, The Orwells’ last few months read as pretty impressive: there’s the performance on David Letterman that received pleas for an encore, the comfy slot supporting Arctic Monkeys on their mammoth US tour. All of this, and they’ve barely got two albums under their belt. “We don’t just take it for granted,” Grant Brinner quickly asserts, “When something huge happens to us we’re happy - but it’s not as huge as you think it’s going to be. It’s also a lot of work to do.”
their production,” Dom remembers, “they bring a semi-truck with all their stuff, and two buses… but all we really learned was – this is it. This is as far as you go. They’re huge...” Matt cuts in – “They try and mash together genres. [They’re] kind of like the hip Backstreet Boys or something... the set list was always the same. If you saw the show once, you saw every show that they played. I mean, we learned lessons from good things that they did, but then also - let’s not fucking do that.”
Understandably, the term ‘rock’n’roll’ has been used repeatedly when it comes to describing The Orwells - but this doesn’t come to them as much of a compliment. “People are probably just getting bored of [rock] because it’s been happening for so long.” Grant ponders, “I don’t think rock music is a good genre to put things under.” Matt O’Keefe nods, “Rock’n’roll is like John F Kennedy - it’s like a huge part of the country but it’s not there anymore,” he says, before being sensitively cut off by Dom - “Yeah. Its brains exploded in Texas... It’s a ghost of itself.” They seem equally jaded by the older music idols they looked up to whilst growing up, collectively agreeing that they all appear to be victims of their own success. When asked if they could think of anyone they still look up to, there’s a bit of a pause. Matt mumbles something about Jack White, but then dismisses it - “Nah. He got hit by the blunderbuss bullet.”
With their hotly anticipated album ‘Disgraceland’ released in June, as well as a big bout of touring planned, The Orwells’ hype only seems to be building. After being so vocal about their worries of success killing creativity and spontaneity, it’s interesting to hear how they feel about their future. “I just want everyone to hear [the album],” Matt shrugs. “It’s hard for me to know what I really think of the songs anymore, because we’ve had them for so long - you’re playing them every night so you’re just like, fuck this song!” However, when it comes to any worries about The Orwells ’selling out’, they all seem confident it won’t happen. Matt continues, “There are bands who did it really well. If you look at, like, The Velvet Underground… they never really made a shitty album. Then also you see someone cool like Modern Lovers who just put out one badass album and then call it quits. I think as long as you’re just thinking about the music then you’ll never put out a shitty record.”
They have a similar attitude towards their former tour mates, Arctic Monkeys, who are currently celebrating great success Stateside. Although they insist they were grateful for the opportunity, something still niggles. “It was cool seeing, like,
The Orwells’ new album ‘Disgraceland’ will be released on 2nd June via Atlantic Records / Canvasback. Read the full interview in DIY Weekly. DIY
“A r c t i c M o n k e y s are like the hip B ac k s t r e e t B oy s . ” M at t O ’ K e e f e
Mario Cuomo’s not into smoking e-cigs, so he’s opted for fireworks instead. 7
NEWS childho od
A WORD FROM THE PRODUCER
IN THE STUDIO
t the tail end of 2013, a very new sounding Childhood emerged. These Nottingham-formed, London-based youngsters still knew a thing or two about packing a ton of ideas into the space of one song, but this song was stretched out, all of a sudden.
with it. I never wanted to do an album that was in any way personally underwhelming. We could have recorded most of the songs that people already know, stuck it on an album and moved on. We made a conscious effort to do lots of new stuff; just for us, mainly.”
‘Pinballs’, a seven-minute giant of a track, was the band’s first alongside producer Dan Carey. Recorded in just one day, it proved that breakthrough moments can happen in a flash. “I remember thinking ‘I can’t believe we just made that in a day’,” recounts Ben Romans-Hopcraft. “We’d never made a song like that ever. It was daunting, initially.” On record, it sounds like a group of guys staring a completely different band in the eye and embracing their new beings.
‘Lacuna’, in Ben’s words, is said to “encapsulate everything about guitar music that I really enjoy.” There’s a balance between “wig-out moments” (like ‘Pinballs’) and the more tightly-packaged pop they became renowned for through ‘Solemn Skies’ and ‘Semester’, the kind making Childhood such a fixture in festival tents. Arriving midway through the summer, it’s a record that’s set to assert these newcomers as something truly special, ready to challenge the heavyweights. Be it through prog freakouts or hookcrammed pop triumphs, they’re reaching these heady heights very quickly.
Following this watershed moment, out stepped an album. ‘Lacuna’ is partly the product of four years’ worth of work, although Ben’s keen to state that they only felt like a “proper band” in 2012. “I think we’ve surprised ourselves,” he says. “The main thing for us is we’re really happy
Childhood’s debut album ‘Lacuna’ will be released later this year via House Anxiety / Marathon Artists. DIY
DIY AT THE FESTIVALS Childhood will play at Latitude. See diymag.com for details.
At the desk for ‘Lacuna’ was Dan Carey, the Speedy Wunderground label boss known for filling his studio with strobes, smoke and chaos. “With Childhood they were up for seeing what happened. It was interesting - after doing ‘Pinballs’, I remember Ben texting me that night and saying ‘That’s the most fun day of making music I’ve ever had in my life’. Because it’s exciting, letting a song drag you along... They were really up for the idea of it, the whole Speedy Wunderground thing of doing something in a day and seeing where it goes. Not having that much of a pre-conceived idea of it.”
NEWS IN BRIEF
NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS
Morrissey has confirmed plans to follow-up 2009’s ‘Years of Refusal’. Moz will be releasing his new solo album ‘World Peace Is None Of Your Business’ next month, and the tracklisting is set to boast such gems as ‘Kick the Bride Down the Aisle’ and ‘Earth Is the Loneliest Planet’.
IN THE WYTCHING HOUR The scuzzy noiseniks are coming out of the dar k n es s t h i s s um m e r to r e l e as e t h e i r de b u t full-length.
HEAR THEM ROAR
Little Dragon have announced a new set of UK tour dates, in support of their ‘Nabuma Rubberband’ LP. The Swedish group return to our shores this November, when they head out on an eight-date run, which includes a stop off at London’s Brixton Academy.
DOWN ON THE WEST COAST
Lana Del Rey has unveiled plans to release her brand new album later this month. The singer will unveil ‘Ultraviolence’ – the follow-up to 2012’s ‘Born To Die’ – on 16th June, ahead of her appearance at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Watch the video for lead single ‘West Coast’ on diymag.com
GET LOST IN BEIRUT
Zach Condon’s Beirut have announced details of a one-off show - their only in the UK beyond an appearance at this year’s Green Man Festival. The show takes place at Manchester’s Albert Hall on 14th August. Expect the band to preview material from a forthcoming new album, the follow-up to 2011’s ‘The Rip Tide’.
he Wytches are ready to unveil their debut album: recorded at the infamous Toe Rag Studios in London over just five days last year, the trio will release ‘Annabel Dream Reader’ on 25th August through Heavenly Recordings.
fucking ridiculous; it was ambitious.”
“I just wanted it to sound scrappy,” admits the band’s frontman Kristian Bell, who also lent his hand to production duties on their first full-length, alongside Bill Ryder-Jones. “I wanted [the recordings] to complement the songs.”
The album’s not going to be wholly characterised by their previous output either. “I guess one thing that you wouldn’t expect,” offers Kristian, “is that it’s not as dark. The majority of the tracks are softer; not happy-sounding songs, but more upbeat.”
“There’s a nice bit of tape hiss on there too,” the band’s drummer Giani Honey interjects. “The recording was hard work though, we tracked about fifteen songs in something like two days! It was
“We wanted to do it all live,” Kristian continues, “just the three of us in a room. If you just listen to the drum track, you can still hear the guitar and the bass just as clear.”
The Wytches’ debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’ will be released on 25th August via Heavenly Recordings. DIY
HEADING BACK TO PARADISE E l ly Jac k s o n a n d c o. h av e a n n o u n c e d t h e i r l o n g - awa i t e d second album.
t’s been five years since La Roux released their first album. In that time an awful lot has changed, but Elly Jackson’s quiff - and her exciting take on pop remains very much the same.
The band have unveiled plans to follow up their self-titled debut with a second record. ‘Trouble In Paradise’ has been confirmed for release in July, with track titles including ‘Sexotheque’, ‘Uptight Downtown’, and lead single ‘Let Me Down Gently’. La Roux’s new album ‘Trouble In Paradise’ will be released on 7th July via Polydor Records. DIY
Quiff I could change your mind Klaxons are proving a point.
“WE’VE HAD TO CHANGE Approaching their tenth anniversary, Kl axons are still AND MAKE moving with the times. Words: Aurora IT WORK.”
here’s no denying that Klaxons have grown up. They’re a vision of health as they stroll through Islington, frontman Jamie Reynolds excitedly explaining that he ran 10K this morning whilst sipping a smoothie and beaming about guitarist Simon Taylor-Davis recently running the marathon. But as he chats over juice in a café, it’s clear that the Technicolor madness attracting everyone to their weird pop world is still very much present. “I’ve got one eye on the future,” comments Jamie. It shows, in the bouncing synth lines on their new album and and in the ambitious video for ‘Love Frequency’. Featuring alien abduction, religious iconography and three figures - Jamie, Simon and keyboardist James Righton - positioned within a kaleidoscope of colours, it’s everything that’s ever come to be expected of Klaxons. Time is on the band’s side, as Jamie brings up an article from a Russian news website on his phone with the headline “Alien Baptism! Pope Francis would welcome Martians to the Church,” laughing at the relevance. With an interest in extra-terrestrial beings infiltrating their world, having their music sent to space is something that Jamie seriously considers but isn’t logistically possible at the moment. His mind is stuck on a more imminent future: Klaxons’ tenth anniversary. “That’s all I can think about!” he says, matter-of-factly. He remembers the date they formed right down to the day, 5th November 2005. If he had the ability to time travel, that exact date in 2015 is where he’d end up. “Find out what the hell is going on at our tenth anniversary! What has gone on for ten years? It doesn’t feel like that long.”
During the last decade the dynamic of the band has had to change for them to progress. Jamie states, “We have to exist in a contemporary culture, we wanted to make an electronic album and wanted to see how that would sit in the current climate.” A lot of their new record ‘Love Frequency’ comes from a place of frustration, of wanting to get the record finished and out there in the world. “We finished touring, we lost our drummer, we got new management... there’s loads going on in the group but at the same time, we wanted to make electronic music. It took 18 months. I know it seems weird because our albums aren’t that quick but I like to work fast. I was writing songs about being frustrated.”
It’s not only his work that’s felt the wrath of his frustration. He’s also confused about what other musicians are saying, or rather, the lack of what they’re saying. “Nobody’s saying anything political in music at the moment. There’s apathy towards writing about social situations and there’s a lot to be sung about.” He follows it up with an explanation of why he feels it’s missing from music. “I realised funding from the Arts Council or record labels, there was a certain amount of money that went into the arts that was openly critical so if you’re being paid to stand up and say fuck this, you’re going to do it. If there’s no security in what you’re doing and nobody’s backing you – that’s why people are scared to say it.” “They’re trying to have this pop moment which we’re guilty of doing,” Jamie readily admits. “Everything’s changed in our world and we’ve had to change and make it work.” Klaxons’ new album ‘Love Frequency’ will be released on 16th June via Akashic Rekords / Sony Red. Read the full interview in DIY Weekly. DIY
NEWS george ezra
A Sweet Ezcape B ristol - bas e d s ongwr i t e r Georg e Ez r a likes t r ave l l i ng , taking t h e pi s s out of h i m s e l f and avoi di ng s eriou s n es s l i k e it’s th e pl ague . All in t h e nam e of es capi s m . Words: Jam i e Milton, P hoto : Em ma Swann.
“Wait, I’m not allowed to take a selfie?”
everal audiences in Europe have just witnessed George Ezra play for the first time. ‘Budapest’ - a song devoted to a city he hadn’t even bothered visiting at the time of writing - is striking gold in almost every European capital going. It’s one of the twenty most played songs on the radio (“It’s probably my mum in the kitchen,” is the explanation) and for the first time in his life, George is being treated like a star. He doesn’t like it. “It’s weird seeing people treat you different. Doing a TV programme and there’s a runner, someone’s going ‘Do you need anything George?’ I’m like no, I know the tap’s there and water’s over there, if I need something I’ll get it’,” he says, having just returned from a three month trip. “This came up in conversation when I was in Europe. They said, ‘You seem to take the piss a lot. Will some people be offended?’” If Ezra’s beginning to be treated as serious business elsewhere in Europe, back in the UK he shouldn’t be under any illusion: people expect big things over here, too. But one of the underlying reasons why the acoustic guitar-wielding George stands out in a crowd of fellow strummers, is because he does - with every inch of his being - take the piss. There doesn’t appear to be a serious bone in George’s body, but he puts it well by saying: “What I don’t take seriously is myself, because I’ve lived with myself for twenty years. I know there’s no point in taking myself seriously. I don’t get why people take themselves seriously. People who complain about their passport photos - that’s definitely you. That’s what you look like.” If there’s one thing this musician takes wholly seriously, it’s the songs he’s writing. Yes, they’ll contain inside jokes, tongue-in-cheek references. A track about the fleeting passing of time? Sure, he’ll name that ‘Cassy O’’ (following a quick legal check with the actual watch company - they wanted to make sure they weren’t being ripped off). But deep down behind the hashtags and the retweets, there’s some genuine meaning to what George is doing. ‘Wanted On Voyage’ documents the time he went travelling on his own, penning songs as he discovered new cities. It possesses everything but the typical “gap yah” mentality. There’s no banter cruise, no regaled tales of winding up naked and bleary eyed on a Prague riverbank with a lost passport. Before the album comes out and in part a tribute to its themes, George is taking fans on a great big trip to - you guessed it - Budapest. The Ezra Express, as it’s been labelled, picks up fans at various train stops across Europe. “It’s going to be a nightmare,” he laughs. “There will be falling outs, stuff I can’t police - you can’t police sanity… There’s no doubt this is going to be the most bonkers time of my life.” George Ezra’s debut album ‘Wanted on Voyage’ will be released on 30th June via Columbia Records. Read the full interview in DIY Weekly. DIY
DIY AT THE FESTIVALS George Ezra will play at Latitude. See diymag.com for details.
NEWS IN BRIEF
IN YOUR VEINS
Post-rock instrumentalists Brontide have announced details of their brand new album, ‘Artery’. Set to follow-up the Nottingham-based trio’s longawaited debut ‘Sans Souci’, their second record is due for release on 30th June through Holy Roar Records.
IN THE JUNGLE
JUNGLE have announced a string of UK dates this for autumn. The elusive duo of Londoners ‘J’ and ‘T’ are already looking forward to bringing their massive funk collective to another handful of venues this autumn. They play eight shows this October, including sets in Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and Brighton.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Pulled Apart By Horses will release their brand new album ‘Blood’ on 1st September. Following on from their last record ‘Tough Love’, the Leeds quartet have also given us a taste of their third full-length through new single ‘Hot Squash’. Listen on diymag.com now.
HAPPINESS IS TOURING
Taking Back Sunday have announced plans to return to the UK for a seven-date tour this December. The five-piece will play: Portsmouth Pyramids (07), Bristol O2 Academy (08), London Roundhouse (09), Birmingham Institute (11), Manchester Ritz (12), Glasgow O2 ABC (13) and Oxford O2 Academy (14). 13
Fucked Up’s idea of musical chairs isn’t to everyone’s taste.
With th ei r l as t effo r t, Fu cked U p b ro u g ht Dav i d back to li fe . Th i s ti m e a ro u n d, it was m o re a b o u t res u rrec ti n g th em s elv es . Wo rd s : Sar ah Jamies o n .
ith their last two albums, Canadian sextet Fucked Up ventured into territory wholly unexplored by hardcore punk bands before them. With ‘The Chemistry Of Common Life’, they dared to delve into the mysteries of life itself before transforming their efforts to create the all-encompassing, concept-laden rock opera that was their third album-slashopus, ‘David Comes To Life’. After that – having stretched themselves further than ever, creating the most material they could hope to – it seems they weren’t too sure what would, or even could, come next. “I think the last time,” offers the band’s amiable frontman Damian Abraham, “I can’t even remember writing that record. I stopped writing songs at a certain point. I was just like, ‘I have nothing left to say. I’m done! I don’t know what I’m going to write about, Mike’. That’s why Mike [Haliechuk, guitar] wrote the vast majority of songs on ‘David Comes To Life’.
“I think this time around, I was engaged the whole time. I was definitely aware of the number of songs I was working on, and able to focus on them. I was even writing from my own perspective, and it felt really easy to find my voice in the songs. It was really easy for me to be like, ‘This is what I want to say.’” What Abraham decided to deal with on the band’s fourth record was, in fact, that much closer to home. Gone was their “attempt at a fairy tale”, and in its place came real life. He turned to his own voice for the first time in a long time, casting aside the narrator costume that he had so often worn before. “The protective costume of hiding behind a character is gone,” he confirms. “Very,
“ I S TA N D BEHIND E VE RY T H I NG I’VE SAID ON THIS RECORD” DAM IAN AB R AHAM
very early on in this band, I would write songs that were personal, but they were very angry because I was going through a terribly angry time in my life. Then, as the band carried on, I became very much a distant observer, talking more about the grand themes of this world. “This is the first time, since the very beginning, that it’s written in the first person. There’s a vulnerability that I don’t necessarily always want to admit - about crying and missing my kids - but it’s real. It’s the honest way that I feel. At least I stand behind everything I’ve said on this record, and I can get behind it. I feel like if I hadn’t, then that would be lying. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t a little more apprehensive of this album coming out; being simultaneously so proud of something but at the same time, being so anxious and nervous of something because it’s just an extension of who you are.” Fucked Up’s new album ‘Glass Boys’ will be released on 2nd June via Matador Records. DIY
“ I WAN T E D TO G E T BACK I N TO T H E S T UD I O. ” Johnny Marr’s second solo album is c l o s e r t h a n y o u m ay think...
ohnny Marr is one of the most productive guitarists there is. If he’s not working alongside Pharell Williams and Alicia Keys on the soundtrack for a Hollywood blockbuster, he’s playing shows alongside Jake Bugg with a unbeknown broken hand. That’s not stopped him putting together a second solo album, either. Less Johnny Marr; more Johnny Marr-vellous. Having released his debut solo album, ‘The Messenger’, just last year, you’d be forgiven for thinking this might be a little soon for the songwriter. “It was always my idea to be as quick following up this first album as possible. Even before I did ‘The Messenger’, I wanted this part of my career to be quick, have some energy. “Nowadays, it’s all about campaigns
and optimum times. I didn’t want to do things like those bands who every time they put a record out, it’s like the releasing of the Titanic and everybody has to come and watch. I just wanted to be in a band who work all the time; you do the shows, you write songs and you do it again.” Unsurprisingly, Marr’s constant touring has served him well as a source of inspiration. “It’s a big part of what I do. The shows are pretty high energy affairs; I play a lot of up tempo songs as that’s the kind of band we are. I wrote some of the songs on tour, so that did seep in. That’s another reason for not going away for too long: I wanted to get back into the studio and capture that excitement.” As a man constantly in demand, it’s hard to find time for everything. For Johnny, setting aside a slot in his schedule was key. “I didn’t want to go away, but you really do have to dedicate some time to it. I’m lucky that I’m so busy but I was doing the Spiderman film at the same time, so I had to try and carve out whatever time I could. Also, me and my band went to South America. In between the movie, and South America, every other available second I was in the studio.” DIY
UNLEASH THE GODDESS
Class of 2014 alumni BANKS will release her debut this au t u m n .
ANKS has announced that her debut album, ‘Goddess’, will be released on 8th September. The news comes after the rising star unveiled her latest single by inviting fans to hear it in London’s Rough Trade East, via a very special listening station in the store. The track, which matches the album’s title, is the LA songwriter’s most dagger-like cut to date, a kick to the teeth that gives a suckerpunch to whichever mysterious individual it was that treated her the wrong way. “You should have crowned her, ’cause she’s a goddess, you never got this,” runs a lyric in the verse, no prisoners to the extreme. Lil Silva is at the production desk, maintaining the foggy synths and pulsating bass of songs that formed last year’s ‘London’ EP. The fourteen-track record will land after a string of live dates including Roskilde and Open’er, as well as BANKS’ next UK appearance at Lovebox Festival, which takes DIY AT THE FESTIVALS place in London’s BANKS will play at Victoria Park from Open’er. See diymag.com 18th - 19th July. for details. DIY
“ Yo u d o t h e s hows , yo u write songs an d yo u d o i t again.” Johnny Marr “The name’s Marr. Johnny Marr.” 15
LUCKY LUCKY LUCKY t o m v e k’s n e w a l b u m i s n’ t q u i t e w h at i t s e e m s . Wo r d s : Au r o r a M itch ell , Ph oto: Em m a Swa n n .
om Vek doesn’t want to give away any of his secrets. Having realised that artists aren’t the mysterious, shadowy figures that he once thought they were, he’s very careful and measured in what he gives away, often trailing off if he feels he’s about to say too much. Thus, his new album ‘Luck’ is completely open to interpretation. But he does reveal some clues to the public. The subject of ‘Luck’ was a common theme. “It’s come along with this subconscious thing I’m thinking: I’m lucky to be able to be doing music. It’s like getting your wish granted – like winning the lottery! It’s a fascinating thing to think that the winner of the lottery might be a depressed person because then there’s the wisdom of being like, ‘It’s not money that makes you happy!’ But the pursuit in order to make money would probably make you a lot happier than just being given it. I’m not saying I’m a lottery winner but it’s even more interesting when it’s an advanced version of that,” Vek explains. Being personal or delivering a “message” is not something that fuels his music, instead it’s “the noise and the notes”: lyrics are just placed within his songs to give them a narrative. He starts a sentence and stops mid-way. “With music, there’s certain personal... It’s not completely personal - I keep a distance from it. I like to put in things which might appear to be personal then disown them. It’s a way of thinking, it interests me to find ways to disconnect with it or not. The
process of writing a song, you listen to it back as an emotional outpouring which is exciting but I can also place a character in there which I find is important to realise.” Speaking of characters, Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of The Vanities is one of Vek’s few direct reference points, as ‘Sherman (Animals In The Jungle)’ alludes to the character of the same name in the book. “Tom Wolfe deals with shooting down those first world problems quite well. You’ve got this character who’s suicidal, there’s a lot of moral humour in the book.” But then, he disowns this personal connection, “I don’t want to dwell on it too much. I know what the reference point is.” It’s obvious that first world problems have been playing on his mind a lot. “I don’t actually seek an existence as an emotionally unstable person because in growing up I realised that moaning about stuff doesn’t actually get things done. Especially when you’re in a world where everyone’s emotions are very much at the forefront,” he comments, “It’s a culture of being very spoilt for choice so it’s a natural thing to reset your standards based on what you’re used to without realising. It’s definitely a consumer world we’re living in.” Tom Vek’s new album ‘Luck’ will be released on 9th June via Moshi Moshi. Read the full interview in DIY Weekly. DIY
DIY AT THE FESTIVALS Tom Vek will play at Latitude. See diymag.com for details.
amiliar things happened in Omaha, Nebraska last autumn when First Aid Kit headed back into ARC Studios to work on the follow up to 2012’s gorgeous effort ‘The Lion’s Roar’. Mike Mogis returned to production duties for the second time, and long-term collaborator Nate Walcott, also of Bright Eyes, came back to work on the string arrangements. This time, however, the finished product would be for Columbia - a far cry from the band’s Wichita Recordings roots. Did the sisters Söderberg let the pressure get to them? Definitely not, as ‘Stay Gold’ - the band’s third full-length to date - is a true testament to their abilities as a folk-pop band - “whatever that means”. Those familiar with the First Aid Kit formula won’t find anything groundbreakingly different this time around - there isn’t any wild deviation off path, but they sometimes get the urge to do exactly that. “We just felt this wasn’t the record to [experiment] on,” Johanna explains. “We just felt like we wanted to continue establishing our style - there’s plenty of time in the future to do those sorts of things.” Klara interjects - “I don’t know if it was really about establishing anything - I think it would be fun to try different sounds but on this record it didn’t feel like there was any need for it.” They’re both right. ‘Stay Gold’ is First Aid Kit’s most confident and striking album to date - it’s wide-eyed, youthful, shimmering folk-pop. Having started the band when they were 16 and 14 respectively, Johanna and Klara have gone on to tour for seven years, and the confidence they’ve acquired by doing so really shines through on ‘Stay Gold’. “I mean, the fact we worked with Mike again really helped too,” says Johanna on the album’s bold stride. “I think we’re more confident now for sure. Having toured the past six or seven years, that’s bound to have helped too… it’s made us more comfortable and is sure to have influenced what we do.” Their newfound self-assurance wasn’t necessarily brought on by a desire to go bigger and better though. The album does feature huge string arrangements and intricate instrumentation, but on
Klara continues to explain that the bare elements of folk music’s beginnings are what makes their own music really tick. “Our songs always start with guitars and vocals, and they always kind of work like that - that’s important for us,” she divulges. “In my opinion a good song should be able to just stand on its own with simple piano and vocals or guitar and vocals. You shouldn’t need much more to evoke a feeling.” While the songs on ‘Stay Gold’ are anything but raw and bare, the Söderbergs’ lyrics are increasingly personal and mature - they’ve truly grown up alongside their music. “The fact the songs are more personal wasn’t a conscious decision,” points out Johanna. “I think that just might be part of growing up and gathering more experiences, you know? We just didn’t write so many songs about an old woman or an old man as we usually do!
first aid kit a r e hit ting their stride. Wo r d s : T o m Wa lt e r s , P h o t o : E m m a S wa n n .
stage the band has only just expanded to a four-piece - there’s still no means of fully bringing their ever-expanding sound to life without an orchestra. This isn’t something that bothers the sisters though - rather, it’s something they totally embrace. “I think we like simplicity and sometimes when we go to shows, there’s too much going on,” Johanna says. “We’d love to do some shows with an orchestra one day, that would be really amazing - but it’d be for something special.”
“Lots of old folk songs were written at a time where you couldn’t listen to recorded music,” she continues. “That’s what we love about folk music - you had to make the melodies and the lyrics very strong. Those songs are our role models!” While they’ve never strayed too far from their folk roots, ‘Stay Gold’ is undeniably their poppiest album to date. But the pair are still unsure about their current mindset - are they aspiring pop stars or maturing country musicians? “I don’t know what that means, honestly!” Johanna laughs. “We just go up and do our thing, and we do whatever feels good. It’s a boring answer but that’s the way it is! We try not to be so intellectual whenever we do that it just feels forced and not honest. Honesty for us is important, and so is being intuitive and going from the heart, you know?” First Aid Kit’s new album ‘Stay Gold’ will be released on 9th June via Columbia Records. Read the full interview in DIY Weekly. DIY DIY AT THE FESTIVALS First Aid Kit will play at Latitude. See diymag.com for details.
Daisy chains are for life, not just for festivals.
COMING INTO FOCUS Cereb r al Ballz y are g rowin g u p. Wo rds: Sar ah Jamies on .
ou don’t wanna make the same album twice,” declares Honor Titus, the sixfoot-something ringleader of New York’s blistering punks Cerebral Ballzy. “It’s just different, and it’s got a good vibe. Ballzy is all about the vibe and as long as we can maintain that, we do whatever we want.” While the band’s mission statement may seem simple from the outside, the plans going into the making of their second effort were anything but. “When we started,” the frontman continues, “we were just
young drunk kids. Now, we care about the songs that we write.” “The first record was almost haphazard,” explains bassist Mel Honore, detailing the rough-and-ready feel that ran through the veins of their self-titled debut. “We started touring with four songs, and once we had the opportunity to put out a record, we had to actually write one. That all just flew together last minute, but we were still proud of it. This time, though, we had a bit more of a mature approach, and had more time to think about it, to figure out our direction. We’re giving our fans something that’s new, while also pushing ourselves.” The abundance of time wasn’t the only element that aided their new approach; the addition of David Sitek in the production seat threw a whole new skill set into the mix. “He’s a great guy to work with, without a doubt,” assures Honor. “He’s an encyclopaedia of sounds,” continues Titus. “We knew what we wanted to achieve with the rhythmic, melodic punk aspects, a lot of power pop ideas went into the songs, and he harnessed them so well. He helped us find the sounds, he directed us a bit more, he helped me with my
“A l o t o f p e o p l e w i l l b e e n l i g h t e n e d w i t h t h i s n e x t r e c o r d .” H o n o r T i t u s
voice. He’s just a brilliant guy. He did the Beady Eye record just before he did ours and he’s just a guy of ideas and that’s so nice in the studio.” Sitek isn’t the only new player in team Ballsy: after “just hanging out” together, the band were signed to Julian Casablancas’ label Cult Records. “He loved our record,” the frontman confirms. “He loved our sound and he’s a homie. We met playing basketball in New York and it was so organic.” Despite having made their name through carnal live shows and skate punk agendas, the most important element – at least, according to Titus - was another simple sentiment. “No barriers.” No worries or pressure to continue with a certain aesthetic or succumb to certain expectations. “Although our first record is very reverential, I feel like our influences carry not only a sound, but an idea; bands like The Velvet Underground and Bad Brains, we respect those bands so much, and they come from a place of honest emotion. There was never a barrier for us, because we just do what we want. We wanted to keep our punk fans stoked, but we wanted also to portray something different. A lot of people will be enlightened with this next record.” Cerebral Ballzy’s new album ‘Jaded & Faded’ will be released on 16th June via Cult Records. DIY
DIY AT THE FESTIVALS Cerebral Ballzy will play at 2000trees. See diymag.com for details.
“Whadda ya mean, pass the ketchup?” 20
NEWS IN BRIEF
SWEAR TO SHAKE IT UP
Swedish duo The Knife have announced plans to release a new mini-album this July, entitled ‘Shaken-Up Versions’. The follow-on from ‘Shaking The Habitual’ sees new edits of tracks being snapped up from the Dreijer’s five albums, including the celebrated 2006 LP ‘Silent Shout’. It’ll be released on 16th June.
APPROACH SEVENTH ALBUM
Following their d omination of 2013 festival bills, and more recent worldwide escapades, Biffy Clyro are already plot ting new material.
ne of the UK’s biggest exports right now, Biffy Clyro are already keeping one eye on what’s coming next. Despite the fact that the Scottish trio only released their hugely successful double-album ‘Opposites’ at the start of last year, the band are busy thinking about its follow-up. As though their lives on the road aren’t enough to keep them occupied, bassist James Johnston has admitted that they’ve already begun to pen a few songs, and have some firm ideas in mind for their seventh record. “I’m looking at my calendar,” he explains, “and we have a couple of weeks before we go off to Russia, so we’ll be back into our farmhouse working on some songs. We do have about fourteen songs, but it’s difficult to say whether even one of them will be on the record. That’s not quite where we’re at right now; we’re just trying to make music to have fun, and do things that make us smile. The idea of putting it all together and making it an album is still a little bit off just now, but it’s exciting. We feel blessed to be going into making a
seventh album.” What they are sure of however, is that this album will mark the start of a new era for Biffy; following their previous pattern of creating records in trios, their next full-length is set to open a new chapter. “I think that’s about the only thing that I am truly sure of. We’re trying to set some perimeters to work within: we won’t be working with GGGarth [Richardson] on this record. He’s been a big part of the last three records, he’s a big part of the Biffy family and always will be, but it’s time to move on, so that’ll be different. “Obviously, we lost [the late] Storm Thorgerson so the artwork is going to be coming from a different angle. I know that’s not necessarily talk about the music, but it’s just painting the picture that we are trying to attack things from a different direction. It’s not gonna be a double album. I think there’s a good chance it’ll be about ten tracks, quite short and probably quite punchy. At the moment, there are a lot of big riffs in there and it sounds pretty fucking rocking!” DIY
Nashville folk musician Caitlin Rose has announced plans to headline a show at London’s Union Chapel this July. The gig takes place on 11th July, the night before Rose supports Neil Young and The National on 12th July at London’s Hyde Park. These dates follow on from her 2013 LP ‘The Stand-In’.
AN AMERICAN LOVE LETTER
Foo Fighters have revealed a few details about their forthcoming new album, due for release ‘this Fall’. The band have confirmed plans to unveil an eight-part HBO documentary, which sees the band visit eight cities and writing a song in each, to create what the band’s frontman Dave Grohl has called “a love letter to the history of American music.”
Alongside two Earls Court shows in June, plus a Glastonbury headline slot, Arcade Fire have announced one more UK headline show to take place in London this summer. The ‘Reflektors’ will headline a BST Hyde Park date on 3rd July. There’s support from Wild Beasts, Future Islands, Band of Skulls and many more yet to be announced. 21
“THE FLAWS ARE WHAT MAKE IT HUMAN.” T h e A n t l e r s ’ n e w a l b u m , ‘ Fa m i l i a r s ’ , s e e s t h e b a n d ta k e a n e w a p p r o a c h t o n a r r at i v e . W o r d s : D a n n y W r i g h t.
magining yourself as multiple people is going to make you insane – especially when it’s in addition to all the sleep deprivation and obsessive workload that occurred making this album.” The Antlers aren’t ones to do things by half. Their records are ones of full-blown intensity and detail, records to pore over and get lost in. From the novelistic ‘Hospice’, the story of an emotionally abusive relationship told through the analogy of a hospice worker and a terminally-ill patient, to the breathtaking, emotionally brutal ‘Burst Apart’, they have created albums that demand as much from the listener as the band have poured into it: that is to say every fibre, every sinew of their being. So much so that it can drive the band to the brink. This time around, for new album ‘Familiars’, Pete Silberman decided to write and sing as two sides of the same person. What grew out of this was the
idea of a Familiar. “I wanted these two characters to be a creation of the same person, as if they are a manifestation of different qualities within one person’s psyche.” But it also had a negative impact on his mental well-being. “It made the record gel but it also made me kind of
“It made me kind of i n s a n e .” P e t e S ilberman insane, because in order for me to write these kind of songs – and this goes for a lot of Antlers songs – there’s a degree of living as these characters and it definitely fostered this duality in my own head. But I don’t think it’s that an unusual thing: A lot of us have these different ideas of who we are and we see ourselves as different
people in different situations - like people who get out of control when they’re fucked up: ‘Oh that’s the werewolf version of me!’” It’s clear this record – as with previous ones – took a lot out of the band. Peter is currently recovering after damaging a nerve in his ear and has been living in a ‘music-less universe’ for a month while he waits for it to heal. “Making this record was an exhausting process but I remember when we finished it - when it got to the point of being unchangeable there was a real feeling of relief that it was perfect in all of its imperfections. Which is a hard concept for me to wrap my head around sometimes. It’s that point where you can’t do anything and you just have to leave it – because the flaws are the thing that make it human and make it alive.” The Antlers’ new album ‘Familiars’ will be released on 16th June via Transgressive. Read the full interview in DIY Weekly. DIY
Festival season is in full swing. Itâ€™s time to get muddy, smelly and boozy with months ahead of dodgy toilets and brilliant bands to ease the pain. Get planning.
27th - 29th June
“I always say...” laughs Chlöe Howl, as she realises the irony of her statement. “Well, ‘always’... I tell my manager that I’m not gonna do anything else the whole weekend.” The singer, who performed last year and will be returning this month, has been bitten by the Glasto bug. “He’s like, ‘But there are other festivals!’ and I’m all, ‘No, no!’ No, no! I’m staying for the whole weekend!” Despite having only spent the last year playing shows, it’s clear that Michael Eavis et al were enamoured by the nineteen-year-old when she last performed at the event. What’s even more special is that they’ve invited her back for a second round, allowing her to showcase to an even bigger audience. “My sound guy and I have been working together for exactly a year now,” she reveals, at the beginning of festival season. “It’s interesting because I hadn’t really played any live shows before last year and I had no idea what was gonna come out of me, at all. Then, I sort of threw myself into shit loads of festivals and went, ‘Oh, this is how it works, okay!’” Her performance, which comes at the end of time spent in Los Angeles working on the final touches to her debut album, is also an opportunity for her to unveil more of what we can expect from that very full-length. “I wrote it from the age of sixteen to eighteen,” she explains, “so it’s all about that period of literally not knowing what the fuck is going on! Being that age where you’re aware that you should start being an adult now, but don’t know how to do it.” Even the fact that her own life has been a tad different to that of a regular teenager didn’t manage to affect things too much. In fact, it offered Chlöe a new perspective. “It was good because I got to see it from an outsider’s perspective. That’s why I think a lot of my songs are quite observational: I was actually observing. I think that I had sixteen years of stuff to say on this one. I reckon the second album will be, I don’t know!” she laughs. “I think it’ll be slightly less bitter. This album has got a lot of pent up angst!” DIY
13th - 15th June
lastonbury needs no real introduction. Steeped in history, mythicism and magic, the Worthy Farm event boasts more than its fair share of stories from the last forty years. In 2014, it’s as important as ever. With tickets sold out months in advance, without even the line-up to sway decisions, there’s no denying its pull is huge, and that’s not only for the punters.
If any of the 2014 bill are a bit of a curveball for this year’s proceedings, it’s Metallica. But if Eavis has his faith stored in the massive metallers, closing the Pyramid stage will be safe in their hands. Watch them lay Pilton to waste on the Saturday evening, and expect it to be loud.
ho other than Download would book nu-metal heavyweights Linkin Park to play their infamous debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’ in full? Or challenge cynics who claim that the pool of festival headliners is running dry, by giving Avenged Sevenfold their first opportunity to top the bill at Donington? This year, the line-up is as littered with heavy metal as regular visitors could hope; from Trivium to The Dillinger Escape Plan, Steel Panther to Rob Zombie, there are no complaints due. There’s also all kinds of noisy counterparts: from those relentless brothers in Drenge, to punk rock heroes Against Me!. Royal Blood will be earning their heavier festival stripes, while Bring Me The Horizon will be bidding farewell to their ‘Sempiternal’ album in style. There’s also another band on the Main Stage who are true pros.
During their appearance last year, Haim were given more than just the challenge of playing in front of thousands of people: bassist Este actually had a diabetes episode during their set. The elder sister and her infamous bass face is set to return though, as the trio take on The Other Stage with a vengeance.
“We didn’t grow up on festivals the same way that I think people do over here,” explains Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, who will take to the stage ahead of Linkin Park on the Saturday evening. “So our experience was like watching Metallica at Donington on videos, or our first festivals over here, which were all part of a learning process. Once you really get there, you realise you’re maybe not playing in front of Fall Out Boy fans, but we really need to earn them. Creating music that will earn you fans; there was some urgency in that. “We have to be able to adjust, and I think we have a big enough back catalogue where we’re able to change our songs up enough that we’re able to do that. You know, going out there and taking your art seriously, but not taking yourself so seriously.” DIY
LANA DEL REY
She may have already promised to take us to the West Coast, but this month, Lana’s allegiance lies more in the West Country. Set to preview cuts from her forthcoming sophomore album ‘Ultraviolence’, LDR’s all ready to bring a bit of Hollywood sparkle to the Tor.
S AL IV ST FE
ELSEWHERE AT CC14...
20th - 21st June
ON THE DIY STAGE
THE UNDERWORLD, SATURDAY Johnny Foreigner, Slaves, God Damn, Gnarwolves
his year, the Camden Crawl is returning under an ever-so-slightly new guise: CC14. Whether you’re planning to see Brolin in the Lock Tavern, or Brontide in the Purple Turtle; if you’re trying to get into of Montreal at Electric Ballroom, or Big Deal at Black Cap, there’s plenty to take in over the two-dayer. “I can’t wait,” begins Slaves’ guitarist Laurie Vincent. “On a tour it’s sick but you see the same bands every night, so it’s gonna be nice to catch some of the other bands that we like.” Coaxing you in with their brash, loud brand of garage-punk, they’re guaranteed to be like no other band on the bill. “It’s like a test of how far you can reach,” continues Vincent, reminiscing of their last major festival slot. “At Reading and Leeds, there was a core group of people at the front, but then there were people as far as a couple of hundred metres back. You have the challenge of stopping them and making them watch you. I feel like that’s what we do, we try to pull people in. “It’s very intimate,” chimes in drummer Isaac Holman, who also takes on vocal duties. “Usually it takes a good few songs for a crowd to get it. Usually, they’re halfheartedly clapping and being like,
‘What is going on?’, but then by the end of the set everyone’s laughing and dancing and singing along.” The sense of bewilderment seems to be a constant when performing. Having just finished up a tour of the UK with Blood Red Shoes and DZ Deathrays, they’re prepared for the challenge of taking on new crowds. “Making people stop and think, ‘What the fuck is that?’ is the best challenge,” the guitarist concurs. “I think we do get that quite a lot! The biggest thing we always hear is, ‘I don’t usually like the type of music, but that was cool.’ I think every gig we’ve ever played, someone has come up to us and gone, ‘I don’t like this music, but that was cool’. “There have been reviewers say that we’re scary and intimidating; that it’s an intense show. I think it’s chilled out now but when we first started and we were trying to find our feet, to combat our nerves we just went over the top.” “We were really angry,” Holman casually throws into the conversation. “Now, we’ve been at it, it’s a bit more fun. It’s still angry and it’s still really energetic, but some of our shows now are becoming more like a comedy show!” DIY
The Roundhouse, 20th June Alexis Taylor is one productive man. Not only does he provide the unmistakable vocals for Hot Chip, and take part in About Group, he’s now all set to release his brand new solo album later this month. Alexis Taylor will be bringing his weird but wonderful brand of electropop to the iconic venue on the Friday evening.
Electric Ballroom, 20th June Having spent the first half of this year working on their new album, Mazes are due to make the return to the stage this month. Get reacquainted with the band ahead of their third full-length proper, and get lost in their scuzzy, kraut-y offerings.
Camden Town Brewery, 20th June Euphoric is one word to describe the brand new album from Thumpers, and stopping by to see the duo at Camden Town Brewery is set to be nothing short of that. Having already made quite the mark on festival season so far, their set’s promised to be filled with joyous hooks and giddy sing-alongs. ‘Galore’-ious!
FE ST IV AL S
ELSEWHERE AT OPEN’ER... INTERPOL
Open’er Stage, 2nd July Already daring to air some new material on their recent jaunt to the UK, there’s definitely something cooking away in the Interpol camp at the minute. When news of the follow-up to their 2010 self-titled effort will arrive, no one is quite sure, but in the meantime, listen to them recount ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ and pretend it’s 2002 all over again.
Tent Stage, 5th July Having released their debut album ‘If You Leave’ last year, Daughter have since proved themselves to be masters of stirring emotions and brooding intensity. On record, they bear a hypnotic presence which entirely envelopes their live shows. Watch them at this year’s Open’er and you’ll be dragged under the surface before you know it.
OPEN’ER 2nd - 5th July
oyal Blood are fast becoming one of the key bands to watch this festival season. Thanks to their guiltless bass riffs and pounding drums, the rock’n’roll trio have blazed a trail across the world, already packing out the city festivals, and gracing the stage alongside Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park. Now, they’ve got a summer of huge events on their to-do list, including a stop at Poland’s Open’er Festival. That’s not all that’s coming up for the two-piece: the band are gearing up to release their debut album, and they’ve got some clear intentions.
Open’er Stage, 4th July Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, entrepreneur, record label owner. Sometimes it’s easy to wonder if there’s anything Jack White can’t turn his hand to; probably not, though. With his new solo effort ‘Lazaretto’ finally being revealed this month, what better time to witness the rather talented Mr. White?
“I think the main thing about this album is just trying to capture who we are as a band, at this point in time, as accurately as possible,” offers bassist and vocalist Mike Kerr. The band aren’t messing around; their first release is set to be more of a documentation of the duo’s life so far. “It felt too contrived to throw in different types of genres and music just for the sake of it. In a sense, we’ve stuck to what we know, but that’s not to say we haven’t taken the songwriting to places that we haven’t already gone. We actually feel like it’s eclectic enough for it to be a body of work. There’s another element that comes into play with their full-length. There are no bells and whistles here; it’s all them, just as they’d be playing live. “I think, you know, everything we do controls the live show. The way that we record is very much reflective of how we play live. We don’t add any guitars while we’re recording; it’s just bass. We don’t add any extra instruments. We’re very clear about not WIN cheating and not trying to throw you off. It’s really Visit diymag.com/openercomp important for us to keep it as close to the live show for your chance to win a pair of as possible. It’s hard but I mean, you can find a Open’er tickets. much more creative solution.” DIY 27
S AL IV ST FE
Southsea has announced its first batch of names for 2014. Confirmed to play the Albert Road, Portsmouth festival on 20th September so far are Brighton’s Fear of Men, Leedsbased group Menace Beach, Slaves, Brontide, Pawws, Lyger, Mazes, Kagoule and much more. Stay tuned for details of the DIY Stage; early bird tickets are priced at £12. The full list of acts playing this year is as follows: Beautiful Boy, Big Sixes, Blessa, Boy Jumps Ship, Brawlers, Brontide, Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs, Dinosaur Pile-up, Eliza and the Bear, Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux, Fear of Men, Fickle Friends, Fred Page, FURS, Happyness, House of Thieves, Holy, Kagoule, Kill Moon, Laurel, Layers, Looks, Lyger, Mazes, Meadowlark, Menace Beach, Nothing But Thieves, Osca, Passport To Stockholm, Pawws, Pixel Fix, Racing Glaciers, Raglans, The Ramona Flowers, Slaves, Tigercub, Trampolene. Uncle Luc, Violet Skies and We The Wild.
18th - 19th July
1st - 3rd August
Kendal Calling has once again confirmed the involvement of Tim Peaks Diner, the musical, cultural and foodie pop up set up by The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess. Open from 10am until 10pm, this year’s Tim Peaks involves Frankie and the Heartstrings’ Pop Recs Ltd. store, and Nick Hodgson from Kaiser Chiefs’ new band Albert Albert are set to perform, alongside Seahawks and dance outfit Wigan Young Souls. Other activities include Oasis’ Bonehead providing a track by track guide to ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ Tim Burgess had this to say: “Our amazing log cabin will once again be the place to be for damn fine cherry pie, secret gigs, not so secret gigs, fantastic coffee, brilliant music and unforgettable memories. Plus we’ve got our own astrophysicist and a record shop too.”
Blood Red Shoes and DZ Deathrays are leading the third wave of additions to the line-up of this year’s Truck. Also on the list of new bands, are The Twilight Sad, Roots Manuva and Little Comets, who will be joining The Cribs, White Lies, Peace, Los Campesinos!, Lonely The Brave, Andrew WK and Swim Deep. The full list of new additions is: Roots Manuva, Gang Of Four, Blood Red Shoes, Jaguar Skills, Little Comets, DZ Deathrays, The Twilight Sad, Amber Run, Accolective, MC Lars, The Impellers, Hans Chew, Mary Epworth, Poledo, Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou, Society, The Cedars, Co-Pilgrim, The Goggenheim, Paul McClure, Samo Hurt & The Beatnik Messiahs, Gabriel Minnikin, Don Gallardo, VerseChorusVerse, Jack Harris, Stevie Ray Latham, Pete Kosanovich, The Shapes, Alphabet Backwards, Flights of Helios, The Relationship and The Family Machine. blood red shoes
2000TREES 10th - 12th July
DIY is pleased to announce that we’re officially partnering with year’s 2000trees Festival, sponsoring none other than the Main Stage. Set to take place at Upcote Farm in Cheltenham, the weekender runs from 10th - 12th July, and tickets are on sale now. This year, Band Of Skulls, Blood Red Shoes, Kids In Glass Houses, Arcane Roots, Itch, The Computers, Slaves, Native and EMPIRE will all be gracing the Main Stage on
the Friday, before Frightened Rabbit, PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING, Tall Ships, Maybeshewill, Canterbury, Blitz Kids, Little Matador, The JB Conspiracy and The Dead Formats each appear on the Saturday. Other acts playing across the weekender include current DIY cover stars Wolf Alice, DZ Deathrays, Trash Talk, Cerebral Ballzy, Baby Godzilla, The Blackout, Lonely The Brave, Youth Man and Three Trapped Tigers.
T IN THE PARK 11th - 13th July
The legendary Paul Weller is heading up additions for Scotland’s T in the Park, alongside Charli XCX. The Amazing Snakeheads and Lonely the Brave are also on the bill, with Wilko Johnson, Earl Sweatshirt, Hudson Taylor, Soul II Soul, King Charles, Darlia, Dolomite Manor, Little Matador, Becky Hill, Jess Glynne, The Minutes, The LaFontaines and Neon Jungle completing the list of additions. These new acts join headliners Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris and Arctic Monkeys, as well as the previously confirmed Haim, Elbow, Rudimental and London Grammar.
Beacons has announced a new batch of names, with British Sea Power, 65daysofstatic and DZ Deathrays all now set to appear. Also at the Skipton, Yorkshire Dales festival Jaws, Famy, Beaty Heart, Pawws and Joan As Police Woman will be taking to the stage, along with Indiana, Capua Collective, Charlie Straw, Fickle Friends, Goodbye Chanel, James Bay, Jarbird, Kult Country, Paris XY, Paul Thomas Saunders, Post War Glamour Girls, September Girls, Serious Sam Barrett, Temple Songs, The Garden, The Horn The Hunt, The Witch Hunt, Vaults, Vessels, Volte-Face and Yumi Zouma. The new additions join Jon Hopkins, The Fall, Darkside and Daughter, who are already confirmed.
7th - 10th August
7th - 8th June
espite being born from humble beginnings, over the last eight years Field Day has become the perfect London all-dayer. Now, as it steadily grows with each year that passes, it’s time for a new challenge: a second day. Priding themselves on bagging an array of talent, from those right on the cusp of success to some of the biggest names in alternative music, this year’s event is set to be closed by none other than Metronomy on the Saturday, before hosting the return of the legendary Pixies to our shores the following evening. ELSEWHERE “We never write a set list before we go on stage,” reveals Pixies drummer Dave Lovering, on what to expect from their headline slot. “We do one opening old song that we all know, from that point on we just call the shots. Just bang bang bang, in succession, as fast as we can, just picking songs out of the air. Because of that it’s a great adventure and a great challenge, but then again you really can’t tailor it.” And with the release of their new album ‘Indie Cindy’, are more new songs going to be aired live? Bassist Joey Santiago isn’t so sure. “We’re still working it out live,” he admits. “We choose five, or maybe six new ones every night. This is a festival circuit, they wanna reminisce, and that’s fine. We’re still trying to learn. The new stuff is fresh.” DIY
AT FIELD DAY
Warpaint, The Horrors, Sky Ferreira, Blood Orange, Temples, SBTRKT, Courtney Barnett, Future Islands, SOHN, The Wytches and Thurston Moore are just a handful of the artists set to appear at the London weekender.
VISIONS 2nd August
London all-dayer Visions has confirmed a new list of names for its second year in 2014. Perfume Genius heads up the additions, with Deptford Goth making an appearance and Yumi Zouma scheduling in their first ever show in the UK. There’s also Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Trust, Lower, Eleanor Friedberger, Eyedress and Kiran Leonard. New additions join previously announced acts Poliça, Andrew WK, Baths, Eagulls, The Range, Young Fathers, Perfect Pussy, Jacco Gardner, ARABROT, Sean Nicholas Savage, Josef Salvat and Rainer. A Record Fair hosted by Flashback Records has also been revealed, in addition to the Comic Book convention, Tattoo art exhibition and Netil Food truck market. The multi-venue festival will take place across Oval Space, The Laundry, London Fields Brewhouse and New Empowering Church.
S AL IV ST FE
LATITUDE 17th - 20th July
enham Park’s Latitude Festival has announced more names for its 2014 bill, joining headliners Two Door Cinema Club, Damon Albarn and The Black Keys.
New to the July weekender, Ásgeir and Augustines are on the BBC Radio 6 Music stage, while the iArena welcomes Scottish pioneers Young Fathers, Baltimore’s finest Future Islands and fledging producer James Holden.
4th - 7th September
Bestival have announced 39 new bands: Tune-Yards, Factory Floor and Wolf Alice lead the additions, all set to play Robin Hill on the Isle of Wight this September. Festival organiser Rob da Bank says: “So in our humble opinion these are the breaking acts of 2014 from the worlds of rock, indie, electronics and pretty much any genre - a delve inside the musical brain of Rob da Bank to find the ones to watch, the ones who’ll make records you’ll love this summer and the ones who’ll make you dance ya socks off in September.” The confirmations in full are as follows: Tune-Yards, Factory Floor, MNEK, Wolf Alice, The Amazing Snakeheads, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, The Wytches, MØ, Fat White Family, Say Lou Lou, Glass Animals, John Wizards, Ezra Furman, Joel Compass, Woman’s Hour, Pional, Rosie Lowe, Childhood, Kate Tempest, Jessy Lanza, Melt Yourself Down, The Front Bottoms, Hockeysmith, Wild Smiles, Black Orange Juice, Rag N Bone Man, Vaults, FTSE, Tourist, Sivu, God Damn, Happyness, The Correspondents, Bo Saris, Congopunq, Indiana, The Bulletproof Bomb, Fé, and Cousin Marnie.
Over on the Lake Stage - curated by Huw Stephens - Childhood and D. D Dumbo have been added to the bill. The festival also sees Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott (formerly of the Beautiful South) and Chrissie Hynde performing. Further musical adaditions arrive in the form of MNEK, Tycho, Rhodes, Vaults, Syd Arthur and Elliphant. “I’ve done some festivals before,” reveals Ellinor Olovsdotter, the Swedish artist behind the Elliphant guise, “and it’s usually beautiful and a bit crazy because there are no real soundchecks and things like that. [There can be] bad weather... to good weather… but we remember where we come from at festivals. It’s like tribe life. I love it. The audience is brilliant because they let go of all that stiffness when they’re around all this sweaty happy energy so, at least for Elliphant, it’s the perfect crowd.” Having just completed a handful of tour dates in the US alongside M.I.A (“It was the first time I saw M.I.A perform and I got to share the stage with her. I was super inspired!”) after releasing her ‘Loves Like You Love It’ EP earlier this year, Olovsdotter’s not just looking ahead to her Latitude slot; she’s also hard at work on a full-length proper. “I’m making my album, trying to bring my dreams to life and collect my creative crew. I want my Phants [Elliphant fans, geddit? - Ed] to be a part of this and I need good ways to interact with them. I want to be a canal for all my creative people out there. That’s the plan.” DIY is an official media partner at this year’s Latitude. We’ll be bringing you exclusive interviews, reviews and extensive coverage. You’ll also be able to pick up a copy of DIY at the Latitude supermarket along with your beers and bacon. DIY
FLOW FESTIVAL 8th - 10th August
Finland’s Flow Festival has announced two exciting new names for its 2014 bill: Neneh Cherry - who returned this year with her ‘Blank Project’ record - and Danish star MØ join a line-up that already features Outkast, The National and Janelle Monáe. Neneh’s set to play alongside percussive duo RocketNumberNine, who contributed to her latest album. The festival takes place this August, with Bill Callahan and Slowdive also featuring.
Originally recorded in the same session as last year’s phenomenal ‘Tally All The Things That You Broke’ EP, the band came out of the studio in May 2013 with over thirty songs and the foundations of a new record. “We had the whole thing planned out,” says Savage reflectively on the album’s beginnings. “Then people wrote new songs and people wanted to redo things and so we went back [to the studio] in October, and again in January.”
Savage was especially glad about that last session, as it led to the creation of three songs that ended up being “pretty crucial.” “It’s a really different record, I’m not even going to count ‘Tally...’ because it’s just a five-song EP,” he tells, adding, “it’s definitely a different record than ‘Light Up Gold’ or ‘American Specialities’. One of the main differences is the composite of actually having an audience this time because when ‘Light Up Gold’ and definitely
‘American Specialities’ were released we didn’t really have much of an audience at all.”
“The roller coaster comparison is right I think - it’s supposed to give that sensation to the listener,” frontman Andrew Savage explains on the phone from his home in Brooklyn. “A song like ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is supposed to give the listener the feeling that maybe they’re on a ride they can’t get off.” He’s right - the title track is an all-out assault on the senses albeit Parquet Courts at their most stripped back, and listeners heading into ‘Sunbathing Animal’ expecting more of the same won’t find more exactly, but they will find themselves pleasantly surprised.
“IT’S A R E A L LY DIFFERENT R EC O R D. ” ANDREW S AVA G E
hat makes one roller coaster more exciting than another? There’s got to be a good old fashioned build-up for one; the cart needs to take its time carrying its passenger to the top before throwing them into an abyss of relentless twists and turns. There needs to be some elegant pacing, too - slower dips that break things up and give you a second - just a second - to catch your breath. Throw some blistering sunshine into the background in order to really heighten the mood and we’ve got a winner, much like what Parquet Courts have achieved with their excellent new record, ‘Sunbathing Animal’.
In comparison to ‘Light Up Gold’, ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is Parquet Courts at their rawest, and the songs found within it could be labelled as “bare” or “stripped-back”. But they’re not: the density comes in Savage’s lyrics, of which he says build up to a running theme that wasn’t necessarily obvious to him at first. “I kind of became fascinated by the idea of captivity and confinement vs. freedom, because I think it’s something we can all relate to,” he divulges. Parquet Courts’ new album ‘Sunbathing Animal’ will be released on 2nd June via Rough Trade. Bilbao BBK Live will take place from 10th - 12th July. DIY
UP ALL NIGHT
Ahead of this year’s Bilbao BBK Live,
Parquet Courts are releasing a new album. Words: Tom Walters.
B e h o l d , t h e m o d e r n - d ay l e a d e r o f g e n e r a t i o n ‘ X ’ . Wo r d s : Ja m i e M i lt o n .
A-based, shade-sporting, willing to spin round in a circle for three successive minutes, Allie X is a gif-embracing, hashtag-hugging pop phenomenon. Real name Allie Hughes, the Toronto-based musician started out in the midst of a scene that didn’t exactly embrace pop. So she broke out. “Toronto’s an amazing city for music but it’s not an amazing city for success in music,” she says, speaking from her new home in LA, after moving to the city in 2013. “In the sort of scene that I was in, there wasn’t really anywhere for pop music to go.” This desire to break free and embrace truths is represented in every splintering, synth-packed second of Allie’s music. On ‘Prime’, she channels CHVRCHES to malicious, giddy intent. The same goes for ‘Catch’, while recent single ‘Bitch’ gets more sinister. Videos linked up to each track consist of one, constantly looped gif, mostly showing Allie in surreal environments, spinning in a circle while looking like the coolest thing on the planet. By channelling her inner superstar, Hughes also digs into the darker depths of her self. “I’m definitely an extreme personality,” she says, citing every part of her day-today existence, from working to partying (although she “doesn’t do that anymore”) as an example. “I’m not good at moderation. That’s definitely come through in the music.” These songs dive in headfirst from the opening second. There’s zero hesitation, no pointless fucking around. If chart-conquering songs are being aired out, they might as well declare their intentions from the off. Within the tracks, Allie is projecting her “shadowed self”, a concept coined by Karl Young and since embraced by an artist “tapping into an unconscious part” of her being. “It’s a side of yourself that you’re usually ashamed of, embarrassed to show the world. It sort of personifies everything that you refuse to acknowledge about yourself. The more you suppress the shadowed self, the more dangerous it becomes. I love that idea. I love that you have to let that part of yourself out, or it actually will drag you down.” Darkness stands firm in a track like ‘Bitch’ in particular, which sounds like Crystal Castles aiming for a goldselling record. There’s a sense of triumph too. ‘Prime’ claims that “we are in the prime of our existence,” and she’s not kidding. “I want to be at the forefront of
innovators in these changing times,” she says, referring to the free downloads and shunning of a major label that’s defined these early months. “I believe that people will respect that, and I’ll be able to have success in non-traditional ways.” There’s ambition to back these colossal tracks, and while Allie might claim to be an amalgamation of personalities, she’s essentially one of the most exciting pop prospects in years. “Whether I’m writing or grocery shopping, I feel like there’s ten versions of myself,” she says. “I’m always trying to figure out which one I am, which one’s good, which one’s bad.” But it’s in this wild exploration, this crazed journey of discovery that she’s successfully managed to stand out in a crowd of chancers. Her ascent’s only just beginning. DIY
With each track and gif-tastic video, Allie X comes up with a hashtag. Here’s what they might be referring to. #XSISTENCE ‘Prime’ is a song all about people being on their A-game, asking for something and getting what they want. Example lyric, “Forgot what I need / Give me what I want / And it should be fine.” #FEELINGX ‘Catch’ is true to its title in being Allie’s most infectious track. It’s also one of several medical references which “come through in the lyrics” and “have always been there,” according to Hughes. #XCHANGE ‘Bitch’ is the ultimate expression of a “shadowed self”, kicking and screaming with primal energy. “I’m your bitch, you’re my bitch,” she sings, citing evil as a reciprocating energy. Sinful stuff.
H au nted ch u rch es , s o n g s a b o u t J es u s - S o u th Lo n d o n ba n d H a ppyn es s a re pro m i s i n g a d eb u t li ke n o oth er . Wo rds: Ja m i e M i lto n , Ph oto: Em m a Swa n n .
TITLE ‘Weird Little Birthday’ LABEL Weird Smiling. RECORDED 2013 PRODUCER Self-produced and mixed by Adam Lasus. RELEASE DATE: 16th June. TRACKLISTING 1 Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy) 2 Naked Patients 3 Great Minds Think Alive, All Brains Taste The Same 4 Orange Luz 5 Retrigerate Her 6 Pumpkin Noir 7 Anything I Do Is All Right 8 Weird Little Birthday Girl 9 It’s On You 10 Regan’s Lost Weekend (Porno Queen) 11 Leave The Party 12 Lofts 13 Monkey In the City
appyness are a brilliantly odd bunch. A trio from South London, their debut album is about a kid who shares the same birthday as Jesus, right up until the point where intense jealousy gets the better of him and he heads out on a rampage. ‘Weird Little Birthday’ is the name of the record, and it’s grown out of one of several “movie ideas” the trio of Benji Compston (guitar, vocals), Jonny Allan (bass, vocals) and Ash Cooper (drums, vocals) form while in the studio. “They’re big-budget,” says Benji of the movie concepts. “And we’re very specific about the people we want involved - for example, the guy born on the same day as Jesus has to be done by the Coen Brothers.” ‘Weird Little Birthday’ is situated in the Deep South of America, where if No Country For Old Men and True Detective are anything to go by, insanity is king. “This guy goes fucking insane. He goes on a Jesus-fuelled rampage,” enthuses Jonny. Another idea - yet to make it into a record - revolves around famous celebrities being based in a town (“Dundee - or maybe Bradford”) where they’re no longer famous. “So in my version Brad [Pitt] gets married to Jen [Aniston] and Angelina [Jolie] becomes an old spinster who lives with loads of cats,” Ash lists off. He’s got competition. “Your one doesn’t work as well as mine,” butts in Benji. “Brad and Angelina are big property developers. They’re trying to buy up the whole town and everyone else is fighting it.” Oddities that work their way into sort-of album concepts probably stem from the strange environments Happyness expose themselves to. ‘Weird Little Birthday’ was initially recorded in an abandoned church, but the band had to jump ship when they got too creeped out. “We turned up one day and there was a headless crow with its babies in a nest all squawking. And we thought, ‘That’s it - we’re not staying here anymore’,” remembers Benji. It sounds like one of the band’s own movies. Perhaps if their career is at all autobiographical, this is the beginning of some Spinal Tap style adventure, without the downfall. DIY
NEWS IN BRIEF ACID TEST
Exciting new trio The Acid recently played their first ever UK show at London’s Chat’s Palace. Ry X, Steve Nalepa and Adam Freeland return in June ahead of the release of debut album ‘Liminal’. European shows include London Cargo (2nd) and Brighton’s The Haunt (3rd).
COSMO SHELDRAKE London, Sebright Arms w o r d s : D o m i n i q u e S i s l e y, P h o t o : C a r o l i n a Fa r u o l o . acked into a sold-out and sweaty Sebright Arms, Cosmo Sheldrake’s audience are clearly excited - and for good reason. The gangly multi-instrumentalist has built up quite a name for himself, and it’s mainly because of his (quite frankly) mad musical abilities. Using a loop station, he creates a caboodle of sounds that are nomadic, adventurous and playful - one minute you’ll be floundering in the deserts of the Aussie outback, the next you’ll be getting dirty in a hillbilly pig pen.
Taking the stage in a red floral shirt and rucksack, Cosmo begins with a series of hums, ticks and mumbles, before breaking into the didgeridoo-laden ‘Prefusify’. He then follows with a “traditional New Orleans carnival song” titled ‘Jockomo feena nay/Iko Iko’, before launching into latest single ‘The Moss’. Each track features an array of unusual samples teamed with some drubbing drumbeats. At one point, he begins an impressive improvisation with the support act’s leftover marimba - one of many improvised moments of the show - that shines a light on just how talented a musician he actually is. For those that might dismiss Cosmo as being a bit novel, this show is pretty silencing. Sure, he might use recordings of sunbeams in his samples, but he manages to pull it off. It’s a great demonstration of a very special kind of creativity - and one that not many have the style to get away with. DIY
What got you into music? I started playing the piano when I was four. It was the Suzuki method, where you just learn by ear. Then I started playing blues piano when I was 7. Would you describe yourself as ‘folk’? Folk is a particularly nebulous genre because it’s bandied around in so many different contexts. I guess it’s like pop in a way. I’ve certainly been influenced by a lot of folk. ‘The Moss’ sounds a little like bit like a folk tale, is that something you’re influenced by? Certainly, yeah. I was always really into fairy tales, and I used to have nightmares… I think that’s part of the reason I studied anthropology [at university] - I’ve got a real interest in folklore, and how folk tales actually instruct us in subconscious ways.
NOT PEAKING TOO EARLY
Chicago’s Twin Peaks have announced a new album, ‘Wild Onion’. It’s the band’s second, quickly following up on last year’s ‘Sunken’. In the UK, the band are putting out a ‘Flavor’ EP, which brings together the new song and three highlights from last year’s LP. It’s out 7th July.
SLOWLY DOES IT
Sampha is sending out the feelers for his debut album, streaming ‘Slow Lights’, an instrumental cut that he “just started”. Three minutes long, it stretches out the extremes of Sampha’s production ability, scattering twisted vocal samples on top of buzzsaw synths and playful, off-beat percussion. Listen on diymag.com.
NEXT OF KINS
Brighton group Kins have confirmed plans to head out on a UK tour this June. The Aussie via UK band also just put out a new free download ‘Mockasin’s’, which you can stream on diymag.com.
With a voice that shakes the foundations of pop, Kwabs might be a musical gr aduate, but they don’t teach this stuff at schools. Words: Jamie Milton, Photo: Phil Smithies.
’m still young and I still feel there’s something in it.” This was the basis for Kwabs’ pursuit into music. Before becoming one of the UK’s most exciting solo stars, he spent time studying at the Royal Academy of Music, working on various projects, appearing on BBC show, ‘Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment.’ Already on the fringes of something special, this twentysomething decided to take things into his own hands. “Writing for myself as a means of self-expression has been a pretty new thing,” he says, speaking ahead of the ‘Pray For Love’ EP, which boasts production from blog-darling SOHN and the politically charged Plan B. When Kwabs started, the musician - real name Kwabena Sarkodee - wasn’t sure about his intentions. “I did a cover of a Corinne Bailey Rae tune. People seemed to dig it and then all of a sudden it seemed to make sense that I should try [to continue].” Today, everything seems mapped out. London-based, early tracks have seen him collaborating with big names, but he’s still been able to stamp his own motifs on everything. “It would be a shame for me to do something that isn’t forward looking,” he says, summing up the mentality that ties together these soulful, electronic pop songs. Songs are about “personal development and progress.” There’s a definite darkness to ‘Wrong or Right’, which fuses a 90s R&B synth line with bellowed, half-doubtful chants of “It’s alright!”. If there’s anxiety in the lyrics, there’s zero doubt in Kwabs’ execution. “I love that palette, that dark sound,” he admits. “Through that darkness I want to achieve a sense of hope.” Attention’s now turning to a full-length. Having an album out this year is “important.” He’s appreciative of Sound of 2014 lists that he’s cropped up on, but the focus is on a debut. “There’s been encouragement but not massive hyperbole. Now I can give fans something that they want. They can have ownership of it.” Expect Kwabs to be less a stampeding, breakthrough success, more a permanent voice that defines the year. DIY
DIY AT THE FESTIVALS Kwabs will play at Latitude. See diymag.com for details.
BY ROYAL APPOINTMENT
Before selling out shows across the UK, Kwabs’ biggest gig was at the Royal Albert Hall, performing in front of Prince Harry. “That was a lot of fun,” he reminisces. “Harry’s great - he’s a really cool guy. It was a pleasant experience; a strange and slightly surreal one. We all got to meet him and shake hands afterwards very formal. But he’s a very informal guy. He’s just a bit of a dude really.”
This new London electronic artist is already asserting a genuine trademark.
London producer TĀLĀ made a huge statement with ‘The Duchess’, the title track from her first EP. For a debut track, it already signals serious intent: twisting and contorting expectations on what to expect from electronic music, it stamps and stabs in several directions. But it’s in the newcomer’s latest, ‘Serbia’, that she really sets her stall. Of Iranian descent, the previously unknown artist brings in a genuine voice. Thumping, head-spinning percussion latches onto wonky production. It’s nearly offbeat in execution. Odd to the extreme, it sounds futuristic and ritualistic all at once, like the kind of music space cults might play in their downtime. True to her ink-stamp logo, TĀLĀ is already asserting a genuine trademark. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN ‘The Duchess’ FOR FANS OF Forest Swords, cult gatherings.
Emotionally charged pop music - this is anything but drab.
Saviours of scrappy garage punk.
Jarbird reach an instant level of sophistication.
Moving to Philadelphia for school in 2011 could well be the best decision Reid Maynard has ever made. Catching the city’s highly contagious thirst for creativity, he demoed a couple of songs before sending them to his classmates Scotty (guitar, vocals) and Ben (drums). Slowly but surely Olive Drab blossomed, their ‘Girl’ EP a hazy, lo-fi take on melodic grunge. Fast-forward three years and debut ‘The Big Sleep’ is inspired by long distance relationships and girls; Maynard describing writing most of the songs as a result of him “being a crybaby”. (Tom Walters)
Nashville’s Bully have everything: the hooks, the dynamism, the face-melting force required to be an exciting garage punk band. And they’ve got the following. Their 2013 debut EP sold out 700 pressings in a split-second. New 7” single ‘Milkman’ b/w ‘Faceblind’ goes further. It carries a more blitzing pace, with pop punk influences tearing through and splintering the surface. Primarily the project of Alicia Bognanno, it’s in her vocals that things get seriously exciting. Consider this 2014’s answer to Cloud Nothings. (Jamie Milton)
It’s usual for bands these days to throw out a couple of scrappy SoundCloud demos, or a heap of fuzzy bedroom recordings to test the water, however the first two tracks from Londonbased Jarbird reach an instant level of sophistication; the sound of a band honing and perfecting each intricate beat and pitch-perfect note to a masterful standard. Ric Hollingberry and Lara Verney’s voices entwine in an almost indistinguishable fashion, whilst the flawless production coaxes everything to fit together in a neat, jigsaw puzzle-like fashion. (Laura Eley)
LISTEN ‘King of Cancer’. FOR FANS OF Confession booths, communal crying sessions.
LISTEN ‘Milkman’ FOR FANS OF Bruises, playground scraps, fuzz binges.
LISTEN ’Such Is The House’ FOR FANS OF Grammatics (RIP), Alt-J.
neu Sylvan Esso
“Don’t be scared of h av i n g fun.” Amelia M e at h
Sylvan Esso Elec tro n i c p o p fo r d u m m i es: h ow to b re a k o u t o f th e b ed ro o m a n d m a ke a g a m e- ch a n g i n g d eb u t a lb u m . Wo rds: G reta G eo g h eg a n .
hen Amelia Meath of indie folk bringers Mountain Man struck up a friendship with Nicholas Sanborn (aka electronic producer Made of Oak), something unexpectedly magical happened. “We became instant friends,” says Amelia as she reminisces the fateful night Nick watched one of her band’s shows in a bar. “We just really got along,” Nick agrees. “So we decided to lay something down and then thought we should continue from there.” What was meant to be a one-off collaboration developed into Sylvan Esso, a band consisting of Amelia’s gentle melodies layered over Nick’s reverberating electronic beats. The duo clearly bounce off one another’s talents and find making music together comes naturally. “It’s all very intuitive,” explains Amelia. “There’s no real formula for what we do,” Nick adds. “Sometimes Amelia comes to me with something she’s come up with and I work around that, sometimes it’s the other way round.” It’s this musical chemistry between the duo that causes Nick to place Sylvan Esso in a different league to his previous collaborations. “Everyone you work with is so different but this is going really great so far, it’s so fun. Every track we work on together has something different about it so yeah, I think we’ll be playing together for a while yet.” For Amelia, the transition from singing and playing acoustically to becoming half of a pop-electronic duo seems a daunting prospect, but she isn’t fazed by it. “I feel the same as Nick. Working together that first time was a trigger for something new.” That “something new” comes in the form of an album mainly recorded in Nick’s bedroom and he admits the process was somewhat an experimental act. “As we started recording we were still figuring out what kind of band we were, by just writing and playing and improvising.” They aim to share that experience with listeners through the order in which they release singles. “We want them to be in an order that will kind of keep changing what people think the band is,” says Nick. “I like to think about it as being like dates,” Amelia analogises. “Think about the first single being the first date, the second single being the second date. You can’t only take them out for dinner and a movie, you’ve got to switch it up and keep it interesting.” Latest single ‘Play It Right’ showcases Sylvan Esso’s desire to keep changing, as its stomping beats beg to be danced wildly to, a far cry from the chilled out gentleness of its predecessor, ‘Coffee’. Each track possesses an individuality, but they all share Amelia’s mantra: “Don’t be scared of having fun and being a dummy.” Sylvan Esso are all about experimenting with pop music, emphasising its fun factor but leaving behind its ‘I’m in the club - let’s get YOLO’ style lyrics, as Amelia tunefully chirps. “We want to make music that we’d enjoy listening to and we just hope other people enjoy it too.” Sylvan Esso’s self-titled debut album is out now via Partisan Records. DIY
Neu takes a look at the record labels responsible for breakthrough releases, big or small.
mIxTapE NOT CONTENT WITH GIVING YOU A FREE MAGAZINE, WE’VE PUT TOGETHER A FREE MIXTAPE FULL OF OUR FAVOURITE NEW BANDS; DOWNLOAD FROM DIYMAG.COM/MIXTAPE
B a b y I n Va i n Corny #1
Harsh, scrappy, relentless Danishbred fuzz from one of the best bands at this year’s Great Escape in Brighton.
Arms-in-the-air Swedish pop doesn’t get more oddball - or effective - than this.
Fa k e L a u g h Ice
Produced by Theo Verney, ‘Ice’ is Kamrin Khan’s scrappiest effort to date - an essential for bedroom pop addicts. FOUNDED: 2013. KEY RELEASES: Childhood, ‘Pinballs’; JUCE, ‘Braindead’. Speedy Wunderground is less a label, more producer Dan Carey’s way of putting out music physically, as quickly as possible. Over 24 hours, a band will visit his South London studio, pen a song, zip it up and wait for it to be released (usually a couple of weeks later digitally and then as a 7” single). Carey just put out a compilation bringing together all of Speedy’s singles so far on a 500 run of 12”, plus CD and download. What’s this about you having smoke, strobes and ‘extreme working conditions’ in the studio? It sounds a bit silly - this idea of doing it with the lights off in a room full of smoke - but it’s really unbelievable how much effect that does have on people. It feels like a surprise. Even when everyone knows it’s going to happen, suddenly there’s a *swooosh sound* and everyone responds in an interesting way. When you started Speedy was it a reaction against making a song and waiting ages for it to come out? It’s partly about the waiting after recording. It’s just frustrating when you’ve finished something, you’re all excited about it and then it’s nine months before the thing gets released. It just doesn’t feel so new. What’s next for Speedy? I’d like to keep on - I’m really happy with the way it’s going. I think I might try and organise a couple more collaborations that bring people together that might not otherwise. In the beginning that was one of the ideas; getting people from different spheres together. DIY
Fill My Gums With Blood
One of the best bands from Liverpool Sound City - think 90s-era Radiohead meets Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Same Color As Digital Photography
Forget the name and bask in the beauty of this Danish duo’s debut track.
Luca Del George Myshkin
Mysterious Glasgow producer isn’t exactly a ‘Blue Jeans’ carbon-copy - like a weirder, more tongue-in-cheek Jai Paul.
Alpha Maid Body Chores
Curious, playful grunge from a new band emerging out of South London.
N i c k y S pa r k l e s It’s Your Life
The latest addition to Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label some people think it might be Nico himself.
T h e D e at h O f Pop Circles
Living up to their early promise, ‘Circles’ is London band The Death of Pop’s finest moment so far.
Begging Me To Come Back
Brighton band with escapist pop at the centre of their intentions - expect big, chart-bothering things from these guys. 39
# THISISDIY 40 diymag.com
I n a d i g i ta l world of all yo u ca n e at streaming a n d i n s ta n t g r at i f i cat i o n , this month DIY’s online arm is reborn. With d i y mag .c o m kicking and screaming about the best bands and hot test new tracks 2 4 / 7, o v e r t h e n e x t 2 8 pa g e s w e ’ v e ta k e n a snapshot of where the world of music finds itself in 2014. From the acts t h at g e t t h e pulse racing through to h o w yo u g e t yo u r au d i o fix, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yo u ’ l l f i n d loads more o n l i n e t o o. Exciting, o p i n i o n at e d and never, ever dull t h i s i s D I Y.
THE MOST EXCITING BAND IN THE WORLD TODAY?
In less than a year, JUNGLE have gone from nothing - not even a whisper - into quite possibly the most exciting act in the world. Avoiding the term band, they’d prefer to be labelled a ‘collective’ or a ‘movement’. It’s in this simple refusal to be pegged in that they’ve wound up here, ready to release the debut album of the year. Photos: Mike Massaro, Words: Jamie Milton.
Out step JUNGLE, from beyond the smoke. 41
n the end, the faces behind JUNGLE have proven to be the least important part. From a breakdancing six-year-old to a duo of synchronised rollerskaters, right up to the palm trees, knock-off Vauxhall Astras and vintage jackets that grace their imagery, the face of JUNGLE is unidentifiable. It splinters off in different directions, invites anyone and everyone into its circle. Like any movement, it threatens to explode at any second. This summer could be that very moment. The minds leading all of this - Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, aka ‘J’ and ‘T’ - aren’t shy, retiring figures. They profess the ‘let the music speak for itself’ line, but they’re not doing this out of fear. There’s a purpose. “Although we do the music, I never ever wanted it to be about us,” says J, in-keeping with countless bands who begin mysterious, identity-free. But then there’s the rest of JUNGLE - the way ambitious ‘band photographs’ link hand-in-hand with viral videos, the fact that their self-titled debut album is described as a “movie” and a “video game”. They declare the sound to be a “virtual reality”, and J cites Gorillaz as the main influence behind this - “it’s so important to us, those songs painting pictures.”
“ E v e r y d ay i s a chance to do something better t h a n yo u d i d y e s t e r d ay . ” J o s h L l o y d - Wa t s o n
Initially a bedroom project with the ambition of a multimillion selling artist, the transition into XL’s studio has been relatively painless - being in the spotlight, less so. “We’ve gone from producers in a bedroom - where you feel safe - to writing something that drags you to the front. It’s a bit like, ‘Can we just go back to our rooms?’” If anything it’s a surprise that at this early stage, JUNGLE are going ahead with putting out an album. That it’s even an album in the first place - not a ‘hidden LP’, collection of singles or god knows what else - might go against an apparent anti-norm approach. T cites Chance the Rapper’s ‘Acid Rap’ as an influence, but ultimately summer 2014 approached: JUNGLE had a sound not just tailor-made for the season, but capable of shaping it. And as J modestly quips, “when you get the attention that we got with the first two singles, if you then wait another year it’s kind of old news.” The ambition in their early work runs right through to the tiny details. Each stone unturned, every possibility considered, when JUNGLE first did interviews - this is their third with DIY - they opted more for a ‘we don’t know what we’re doing’ style of answer. There’s a definite sense of winging it in their music - there needs to be for it to come out sounding this pure - but the pair are beginning to admit that yes, they think about these things. A lot. A JUNGLE live show was first on the agenda. J and T “didn’t want to let ourselves down by bringing samplers and just being producers” - “If someone bought a ticket to a Jungle show, we wouldn’t go and put a film on. Do you know what I mean? Fans are important.” Sitting on adjacent sofas upstairs in their label’s office - surrounded by memorabilia from Jack White, Gil Scott-Heron and Thom Yorke - Lloyd-Watson and McFarland speak from the same page, but they’re notably very different in their perspectives. J is a bigger picture figure. He tends to have the first and the last word, with T expressing like an everyday music fan. Somehow The Magic Numbers and Jamiroquai, of all things, crop up in conversation. He also cites The Strokes’ ‘Room On Fire’ as a life-changing record. “That album reminds me of one month in my life when I was 15. I hope that our album gives people a chance to connect.”
It started with ‘Platoon’, a song that lit fire on a career that started ten months ago. Since then, everything’s spiralled out; a Haim support tour; SXSW shows; signing to one of the biggest labels in the world. A sense of control and selectivity that defined ‘J’ and ‘T’’s early days has since been tested. “There’s only so long that you don’t work with the way others want to work,” says J. “What you can control, you can control. When it’s out of your control you can’t panic about it. You’re only going to get so far by being like that.”
The debut brings together last year’s singles, the monstrously huge ‘Busy Earnin’’, plus another handful of disco-leaning, funk-strutting songs capable of breaking big. There isn’t a single track - bar interlude ‘Smoking Pixels’ - that takes longer than 40 seconds to get to the chorus. This is effortlessly executed, brilliantly complex pop music. It’s a collection of potential chart-toppers there’s no shying away from the fact.
Eventually it boils down to the main reason why JUNGLE stand out. It’s that old cliché of a band being undefinable, immune to categorisation. ‘Platoon’ and ‘The Heat’ - these singles gave hint to so many things; reverse-funk guitars reminiscent of Jai Paul; old soul records; hip-hop production. Entangled in strange unison, somehow out of nowhere arrived a group sounding like nothing else on the planet. “Sometimes if we’re going for something we think we’ve heard before, we put ourselves down for it. And that’s a taboo when we work,” admits J. Before JUNGLE, both J and T had been writing together for a solid ten years. They’d experienced labels, releases, hype through Born Blonde, a band where they “never had full control” - “They weren’t our songs. You just play it, so you learn the lines. JUNGLE’s another level from that.”
Everything points to the future, then. This debut could break down boundaries, lift up the once faceless duo into upper realms. T’s quick to cull that kind of talk. “We’re aware that we haven’t actually done anything yet,” he claims. “We’ve released two, three vinyl singles. We’ve signed a record deal. How many thousands of people have done that? It’s believing what we believe in and working to our maximum potential. Every day is a day of work, every day is a chance to do something better.”
The pair relay hours spent inside studios “looking at a reverb pattern,” which is something “fans don’t care about.” Days have been used up outdoors, picking up
Coming to a merch stall near you. 43
BRING THE HEAT
Another member of the collective is Oliver Hadlee Pearch - the brains behind JUNGLE’s visual side. He’s directed all their videos, taken a good chunk of their pictures (the ones with old motor vehicles, mohicans, palm trees and boomboxes). “Oliver’s as much a part of JUNGLE as anything,” says J. “I almost always want him to be credited as part of it. I’ve asked him to come on stage sometimes, play the tambourine or click a camera on the stairs.”
A breakdancing child! The same breakdancing child that was in JUNGLE’s first ever press shot! This one premiered on DIY back in June 2013 - shout out to B. Girl Terra.
Rollerskating best mates! In matching tracksuits! From the sugar lace to the pirouettes, JUNGLE and Oliver’s videos set a ridiculously high standard here.
With a lot to live up to, instead of bringing in dancing individuals, JUNGLE invited in a whole crew of twelve, each more insane in their moves than the other.
“This idea of get ting d own a m e l o dy when yo u ’ r e making toa s t. I t ’ s j u s t c r a p, isn’t it?” Josh L l oy d Wa t s o n minute field recordings barely distinguishable within the album. But JUNGLE mix an intense work ethic with a flippant attitude, a taste for spontaneity. Every curious, playful guitar sound is played on the spot. There’s no writing process, it just steps out and gets put to tape. “It has to be from that moment,” argues J. “It’s better when you’re getting something done to have a few limits, a few ‘I don’t care’’s. If you have all those stars to grab, you spend all your time picking them out.” There is one limit to the duo’s jumpup-and-grab-it approach. No sudden ‘flashes of inspiration’. “I really don’t believe in that,” barks J. “This idea of getting down a melody when you’re making toast. It’s just crap, isn’t it?” Given that it’s been ten months since “jungle” was just a term thrown about next to a revived genre, or a Guns N’ Roses song, this project’s progression has been extraordinary. Flash forward another year and it’s true, they’ll most likely be ‘Busy Earnin’’. But behind the complexity, the mystery, the determination that’s given JUNGLE such a head-start, they’re two fairly normal blokes who just so happen to be the masterminds behind 2014’s defining sound. “Regardless of what happens out there, in ten, fifteen years time we’re still going to be writing music,” T claims. “Whether it’s coming back from our jobs, putting the kids to bed, smoking a joint and having a session on a laptop. Two forty-five year DIY AT THE FESTIVALS old dads shadowing as JUNGLE will play at producers. At least we’re Latitude. See still getting our chance to diymag.com do something.” DIY for details.
DIY LO OKS ahead to the lesser known
arti sts mak I NG an impac t on 201 4 .
ands like WOLF ALICE and CIRCA WAVES might already be breaking out of DIY’s Class of 2014 towards a higher calling, but there’s a selection of cabin fevered musicians working behind the scenes, readying something special. The remainder of the year will bring confident follow-up EPs, head-turning debuts and countless surprises. Based on early 2014 efforts, anything BEN KHAN produces looks capable of being a game-changer. Debut EP ‘1992’ was just a ripple in the water, shedding early comparisons to Jai Paul and setting Khan out as a genuine potential star. He’s not the only insular producer working on his craft. There’s Belgium-born, Manchester-based newcomer OCEAÁN, his close associate LÅPSLEY (1) and the more detached HOCKEYSMITH, who’ve apparently recorded all their music in a shaky caravan by the Cornwall coast. If their story isn’t enticing enough, wait until budding label PC Music begins to show its hand. Based in South London, the secretive project has split opinion like nothing else this year. HANNAH DIAMOND (2) fronts the movement; a gif-tastic anti-popstar that’s either going to be a flash in the pan success or a genuine contender. Linking up to this squeaky clean but brilliantly calculated dance sphere is SOPHIE, an in-demand, similarly mysterious artist whose next single will - without a shadow of a doubt - turn heads. Look out for an in-depth profile on the origins and future of PC Music on the new diymag.com, while you’re at it. Less insular in their craft is EKKAH, a Birmingham group who landed on DIY and Neu’s doorstep for a ‘Hello 2014’ show in London at the beginning of the year. Their West Coast, summer-ready style would surely have the Dev Hynes seal of approval, and funky early demos suggest they’re onto something. Similarly minded, Liverpool’s ALL WE ARE (3) have just recorded a debut album with Dan Carey, and it’s out in early 2015 via Domino. Expect further tastes throughout the year. Bee Gees comparisons aren’t far off when it comes to those guys,
and in equal parts, the ultraexperimental ADULT JAZZ (4) are luring in more Dirty Projectors fans by the second. Standing out in a crowd altogether is GIRL BAND (5) - they’re free of contemporaries. There’s little that compares to their spiky, headrinsing noise rock, as evidenced by a recent headline set on DIY’s Great Escape stage in Brighton. Stateside, things are also looking up. Canadians ALVVAYS have just inked a deal with Transgressive for their debut album, and don’t expect New Yorkers BIG UPS to stop short at the release of their first work ‘Eighteen Hours of Static’. Anyone looking for similarly gnarly, raw punk need only look for BABY IN VAIN, a Danish trio readying a debut release for this autumn. In quieter quarters, the plush-sounding Seattle band POSSE are quickly gaining attention for their blissful take on rock, while bedroom-pop group SALES are fast breaking out of initial blog acclaim. If anyone in North America’s going to define the next few months, however, it’s TWIN PEAKS and PUBLIC ACCESS TV. The former are readying their first UK release after 2013 debut ‘Sunken’ took over the States, while the latter claim to be the solution to all of New York’s problems; giving rock’n’roll a determinist reinvention, fuelled by frustration. And don’t bet against ALLIE X (see this month’s Neu feature) taking over just about every airwave going. Casting a gaze even further outwards, over in New Zealand two polar-opposite acts are picking up a head of steam. Glossy-pop duo BROODS (6) have all the makings of chart-toppers, while the introverted recordings of solo artist SHUNKAN have gained a cult following with a sold out debut release on Art Is Hard. Australians CHELA (7) and OSCAR KEY SUNG are currently flipping the R&B coin on its head - both started their career doing guest spots, with all remaining emphasis on exciting solo work. Cover any corner of the planet and there’s something waiting to take off and go global. 2014 promises an awful lot in its remaining months. DIY
DISC // VERY FINDING NEW MUSIC APPEARS EASY ON THE OUTSIDE - BUT IT’S NEVER BEEN A MORE C O M P L I C AT E D E X P E R I E N C E T H A N T O DAY. O L D M E T H O D S A R E C R E E P I N G B AC K I N T O D I S C O V E RY, A N D D E S P I T E BEING PROMPTED WITH I N F I N I T E P O S S I B I L I T Y, I T ’ S W O R D - O F - M O U T H T H AT ’ S L E A D I N G T H E WAY. W O R D S : JA M I E M I LT O N
en years ago music discovery was in the initial stages of a new era. It still is. Heads are only just beginning to make sense of the endless choices the internet - faster by the day, more powerful by the second - offers up. Contrast today to the era of dodgy downloads and haphazard broadband connections and we’re in a very different world. A click of a button can grab an entire discography. On paper, there’s nothing standing in the way of a music fan discovering anything and everything - but is ‘infinity’ a mirage? Are we cocooned by choice? Open up Spotify and try to find something completely new, something that challenges daily listening habits. It’s not as easy as it might sound. The home screen shows all kinds of genres, ‘moods’, radio stations for already-adored artists. Then there’s the new releases, free to stream on a whim. But the biggest temptation is to stick to what you already know. Familiarity rules the roost. This could be equated to “airplane fever”, where having taken a seat on a ten-hour flight with nothing to do but flick through films, a passenger opts for something they’ve already seen. “The thing you’ve got is one of resistance in a way because you’ve grown up forming your own music taste,” notes Marcus Pepperell, one half of giddy pop duo Thumpers. “You want to be the master of you and you don’t really want an algorithm.” The current generation of new music addicts find themselves at a strange point. Teens and twenty-somethings have spent half of their lives burning the life out of the same CD or tape in an old walkman, the other half prompted with all the music in the world. Spending days on shuffle might not seem natural, so the solution is to curate, or listen to the curators. There’s a strange balance in 2014 between taking a back seat, letting the music introduce itself through automated radio stations or reverting to old-school methods. Mark Williamson, leader of Spotify’s Artist Services team, admits that there is such a thing as “choice paralysis”, where access to a whole world of music sometimes requires a safe first-step. But he argues that we’re in the most exciting age, especially
compared to a pre-internet era. “In the days before streaming there were much stronger cocoons; you were largely limited by the amount of CDs that could fit on the shelf at your local store, but even more so, you were cocooned by the music your friends listened to.” He cites playlists, blogs and Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record as ways in - means of discovering music that didn’t exist until recently. Even back in 2001 when Napster changed pretty much everything, anyone with access to the service had restrictions. They could only discover music by aimlessly wandering through other users’ hard drives. What this ultimately led to was the prominence of bigger artists - the Radioheads, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Days, all having their music nabbed by the same people. Radio stations and MTV prevailed. Reviewers were listened to in masses because their thoughts were published before records were ‘out there’. Today, music is a freebie on a much bigger scale. There’s a debate to be had about the negative effects of this. But just in terms of accessibility to new music and a broadening of horizons, the difference is dramatic.
he question today boils down to whether we have more or less choice than we used to. If it’s the former, this is essentially the most exciting time to discover music - ever. Algorithms aren’t the be all and end all. Instead, other influences pour in. Surely discovery is an open playing field compared to ‘back in the day’. There’s radio, which remains a strong force. Anyone can make a playlist and send it to their friends. There’s no fiddling about with tape players and cheesy love notes to place within a mixtape. Above everything else, stories matter more than ever. The magic’s still there, but it’s not in the hands of the online streaming platforms - it’s up to press, listeners and the bands themselves to be discovered in a different light. Except, whereas five years ago blogs and other curators were in a golden age of recommendations and Hype Machine charts were gospel, their influence appears to have waned. Our experience with being on the internet and being exposed to new music has shifted. “Blogs are just as important, but over the years, artists have learned how to manipulate them better,” says Jacob Moore of Complex and the new music site Pigeons &
Planes. Jarri Van der Haegen of disco naïveté is in semi-agreement. He argues firmly that “many chart-topping acts nowadays ‘started’ their careers on blogs,” stressing that there’s a strong relationship between acts launching online before infiltrating the charts. Both claim that blogs are just as influential as before, but these are two of the leading voices online, tastemakers who’ve held onto their rep while everything else in the landscape has changed.
here’s a limit to how ‘blog artists’ are then discovered by millions. “There is a new type of music consumer that spends hours every day on blogs and on Twitter and on SoundCloud keeping up with everything on the bleeding edge,” says Jacob. “So when an artist reaches these people, they aren’t building buzz off a live show, or off traditional albums, or off radio plays. They’re getting it off a SoundCloud stream and a few blog posts. Translating that into real success is very difficult.” In one of the strangest blog successes of the year so far, Hannah Diamond - a virtual internet meme of a pop star - sings “I don’t want to be an mp3.” The human connection to music discovery is what matters, and continues to matter more than ever. What’s required, then, is a desire to go beyond blogs. The initial part of discovery often falls at their feet, but what happens next is more interesting. Instead of jumbling up the best songs ‘of the moment’ and acknowledging their existence, it’s important to give bands a bigger platform, to give them a story and a purpose. Even if it’s slightly mythologised, even if it plays with extremes, it’s more important than ever for a new band to have that extra something. It seems strange to acknowledge in an age of ‘next big things’’s, but the very idea of a buzz band is strained in 2014. DIY cover stars JUNGLE might be one of very few examples to latch onto this tag. They’re an act everyone wants to see. They’ve maintained mystique while still managing to launch themselves onto the stage. They have everything - the songs, the intrigue, the sense that more’s to come. They’re new, and there’s a story: from the outside it looks to be the work of masterminds. Out of the online world, JUNGLE have held onto their ‘buzz’ because their story is one of a couple of guys delivering something completely new. This is why they’re on the cover of DIY, standing out as the most exciting act around today. It’s difficult to think of an equivalent. A hundred blogs posting a SoundCloud player can hype up a song in unison, turn an unknown track into the recipient of hundreds of thousands of plays, but they can’t take the band further. Increasingly, it’s in the role of others to help create a legacy for a band, to
CHROMEO - The First Internet Band?
ven when music was accessible to anyone with a half-decent internet connection, it took a while for the online world to genuinely launch an act. David Macklovitch from Chromeo claims that they were one of the first blog darlings, a band launched online. “We were a part of that revolution,” he says. “We don’t have platinum plaques to show for it yet, but we have this kind of longevity which is really special when you think about it.” If blogs were the most exciting thing about discovering music back in the day, what’s the equivalent today? We’re only beginning to be a SoundCloud band. To me, SoundCloud is now what YouTube was in 2007, 2008. In another way, it’s its own hierarchy where cool, independent music can thrive. You’ve got stuff that has millions of plays on there but doesn’t exist anywhere else. SoundCloud is really the vehicle to discovery for that kind of music. What makes Chromeo an ‘internet band’ and how have you broken out of that bubble? If we do break into the mainstream more with this album, it’s a victory for all of us. It’s a victory for internet-based music and viral music, for music that was championed by alternative media. we’re one of the quintessential
highlight why they’re more than Diamond’s dreaded “mp3”. It’s more established acts who’ve crept under the spotlight in recent years. Whether it’s a big backcatalogue on Bandcamp or just one, career-defining televised spot on Letterman (over to you, Future Islands), the idea that we’re a generation of shuffle-addicts with no desire to discover bands properly seems completely redundant. That can only be a good thing.
internet bands, and we’re proud of that. To me, music blogs were a revolution. The way that music blogs shuffled the cards and basically turned music journalism on its head. You remember a time when it was all about one magazine, and now this magazine is barely a leaflet. And there’s blogs that are way more important culturally and in terms of readership. That’s because of bloggers that had no journalistic training, people that thrived outside of the establishment. With that, they championed bands. DIY
Jordan Lee from Mutual Benefit recently experienced a surge in popularity with his ‘Love’s Crushing Diamond’ LP. A musician with an influence in underground movements, all of a sudden he was being exposed to a much bigger crowd. “It was definitely strange at first to see the phrase ‘new artist’ attached to so many of the initial articles about the band even though I had been recording since 2009 and touring almost non-stop since 2011,” says Jordan. The idea of someone established being given a new level of attention is “a relatively common story”, he continues. He also attests that ‘Love’s Crushing Diamond’ felt like his most complete work, so the fandom wasn’t unwarranted or spontaneous. “Being in various music scenes over the years, stepping back and taking a longer time to make an album I’m 100% proud of - it made it a lot easier for there to naturally be attention focused on the record when it finally came out.” The story resounds with a band like The War On Drugs, three albums in and all of a sudden playing the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage. Florida’s Merchandise were essentially an unknown entity until 2012’s ‘Children of Desire’ - hordes of DIY releases were there to be discovered. Discovery, in these cases, isn’t being limited to blog-friendly acts with debut tracks. When a band strikes gold having been around for years, their story is even more exciting. There’s a mixture of ‘Where have you been all my life?’ and ‘How did you get here, now?’ It’s like discovering a lost family member - there’s so much to catch up on, that the story behind the band becomes just as interesting as the music they’ve turned up with. This seems to be a more recent phenomenon, one that starts in niche corners (Bandcamp addicts aren’t ruling the world just yet) and again lands into the heady realms of cover stars and headline acts. 51
oday, tastes are shaped by unlikely sources. It could be through a Bandcamp binge or a SoundCloud session, or it could be a lightbulb moment that occurs out of the blue. Anyone with a smartphone has - at least once - sat up and taken notice of music in a bar, club or on an advert. They’ve shazam’ed the thing, spent hours repeating the track after finding it on YouTube. Before, the journey to tracking down a song could take years - people would either give up, or their lives would play out like a scene from the film ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ Some of the most influential sites no longer follow an oldschool blog approach. They’ll have players that stream a song constantly - once one’s had its time, out steps the next, completely unknown track. This is a recent extension of having music available anywhere, all the time. SoundCloud will plug a “related” song right after the previous one’s finished. Habits have changed, but the way listeners experience new music hasn’t. It’s in these rare moments of hearing something for the first time, in a novel way, that discovery in 2014 seems especially exciting. Radio still retains its ability to play songs without context - as soon as a station is switched on, a listener could be exposed to a song midway through its play. There’s no rewinding back - if they enjoy it, they’re just going to listen out for the title at the end. “It’s the purest medium of listening to something,” claims Marcus from Thumpers. “When new artists come out and everyone’s mysterious to begin with,
that’s why to do it because for once - ever - you get to choose your own context, otherwise someone else chooses it for you.” This “pure form” of listening isn’t just limited to radio. Video game soundtracks aren’t always acknowledged as such, but they’re probably as big a ‘tastemaker’ as the average blog or radio DJ. Often it’s when you’re immersed in one thing that a song can spring up out of nowhere and have a major impact. So whether it’s executing ambitious football transfer plans on FIFA or cruising the streets of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto, soundtracks creep into the conscience. Music Supervisor at Electronic Arts, Steve Schnur, lists off the figure that 15 million copies of FIFA 14 were released, localised in 18 language, available in more than 50 countries. “A FIFA soundtrack represents globalized music like it’s never been done before.” Not only is the means of exposure a fairly new thing when it comes to game soundtracks, the sheer breadth of the music introduced is greater than ever. “There is no radio single, music video or endorsement deal that can compare to the instantaneous and extended exposure our soundtracks provide,” boasts Steve. These soundtracks are a modern day sensation. The same applies for Shazam, its ability to identify new music on demand. Both are united in the experience of discovery being a process of being caught unawares. The choice might look limitless, but from a basic point of view, they’re two-fold. Old-school methods mix with new. The experience of being prompted with music, being
“Recommendations from friends a lways e n d u p being bet ter than all these au t o m at e d m u s i c s e rv i c e s ” Jac o b P i g eo n s & P l a n es able to dig into Motown or krautrock in the space of 10 seconds, is incredible. But the same applies to the sensation of being knocked back by music when it’s least expected.
WHAT’S IN A SOUNDTRACK? Steve Schnur from EA has the amazing job of being able to pick songs for a soundtrack. His influence is bigger than ever, and here he discusses how his role’s changed over the years. When selecting music for soundtracks, what limits are in place? When selecting music for EA soundtracks, there are no limits. In fact, we have the opportunity to re-write geographical and music genre borders each and every time. The music we choose has to represent emerging sounds, has to anticipate trends, has to move the needle on first listen, and has to do it all on a global scale. And as long as artists – whether unknown acts or established stars – are making new music, the pool from which we can license is both worldwide and boundless. Simply put, our soundtracks have changed the game. And will continue to. There’s a lot of anticipation for the unveiling of a soundtrack on EA - Has that always been the case? Thirteen years ago, I came to EA from a successful career in the record industry because of the opportunities the videogame medium presented. I envisioned that EA’s soundtracks could become what radio and MTV used to be: The place where fans could discover great new music and established artists could find new audiences, all within the context of an interactive entertainment experience. The symbiosis, I’m proud to say, changed both gaming and music forever.
hat lies next appears to be a mix of the two extremes. Algorithms are getting more precise. Spotify has just purchased the Echo Nest, the most intelligent database of music out there. Whereas today the platform might recommend Arcade Fire next to Radiohead, unlikely faces are more likely to crop up in the future. “People like to try and pitch human vs. computer recommendation as black and white. Of course it isn’t, and we know that,” says Spotify’s Mark Williamson. “We’re being greedy. We want the best of both. We want to utilise the breadth and scale that algorithmic recommendations can bring and seamlessly combine it with the personal touch, emotion and surprise that a personal recommendation delivers.” The most important point is made by Jacob from Pigeons & Planes. Despite being offered endless possibility, the influence of word-of-mouth remains the same. Anyone can listen to a song on Spotify, Shazam something they like or wear out their FIFA disc because they like the new CHVRCHES track. But there’s a next step that’s almost ignored in this big debate about discovery. For a song to progress and get exposed to millions, word has to spread. And despite blogs and DJs and music supervisors all having their own impact, it’s a friend that can have the biggest say. “I’ve tried to surround myself with people who love music as much as I do, and recommendations from friends always end up being better than all these automated music services,” says Jacob. “When your friend comes to you with a new song she loves and you can hear the excitement in her voice when she’s talking about it, that’s so much more real and fun.” DIY
B R I T PACK T H I S F A I R I S L E H A S A L W AY S B E E N B R I L L I A N T W H E N I T C O M E S T O
PU N C H I N G AB OV E I T S W E I G H T I N T H E M U S I C S TAK ES . F O R T H E F I RS T T I M E IN A WHILE, THOUGH, SOMETHING BIGGER SEEMS TO BE HAPPENING A SWE L L OF BAN D S WHO, TO G E T H E R , AR E C ONVE R T I NG A WHOL E N E W G E N E R AT I O N T O A L I F E O F C H E AP C I D E R , L AT E N I G H T S AN D S W E AT Y VENUES. PEACE ARE LEADING THE CHARGE.
pEacE THE GODFATHERS
First time around Peace blazed a trail of psychedelic colours and discarded coats that allowed others to follow. Now they’re back with album two, and they’re in no mood for taking things slowly. Words: El Hunt, Photos: Mike Massaro.
t doesn’t seem five minutes ago that DIY Class of 2013 alumni Peace were releasing ‘In Love’, and in this case, it isn’t just time playing its old tricks. Since last March’s debut release, they have been touring extensively across the world and packing tents out at festivals, and just over a year on, they’ve got a second album mastered and ready to go. For a band with such a tranquil name, Peace don’t seem to allow themselves a moment of the stuff. “We always want to be working at a pace,” agrees the band’s guitarist Doug Castle, “[and] we felt, even recording [the second album], that it was going too slow.” “I don’t think I’ve spent as much time on anything, or anyone,” ponders drummer Dom Boyce, solemnly. “Apart from FIFA. Think about that. A heavy thought.” The majority of Peace’s as-of-yet untitled second album was written while touring ‘In Love’ last summer, jokes frontman Harry Koisser, because he was “being awkward or annoying” after their label, Columbia, told them that writing on the road could be difficult. “In some twisted way I was probably trying to wind someone up,” he says, and “I probably thought it would get on someone’s nerves if I wrote the album on the road.” In reality though, trying a different approach worked. “I think because we did the first record so quickly I was still inspired,” he says, “the momentum was still going.” “I think we’re blessed that we’ve never travelled before,” he adds, “because, hold on, we’ve got a bit of perspective here, I’ve seen something else. It’s unlocked something. Who knows what the next thing is going to be?” Touring together was a bit of a musical gap year for the band, apparently. “The album’s front cover is going to be one of those sky lanterns that you put a candle under,” laughs Dom.
Constantly touring and seeing new places, in all seriousness, gave Peace the space to develop as a band. “I think to stay doing good stuff you’ve got to kind of evolve, you can’t stay doing the same thing,” says Harry. “I hate to bring it up, but you know in Pokémon, there’s three different incarnations, and they get stronger and stronger? Well, each band is different. We’re on our way to being a Charizard mate.” Dom snorts derisively and points at Harry’s newly-dyed flame-red hair. “Look at him, he’s dressed as Charmeleon today. He’s turning into Charizard!” Harry disagrees, however. “I’m dressed like Misty today. And you’re Ditto,” he adds. Dom looks profoundly offended. “The squibbly mess?!” Sam Koisser looks on quietly, before adding that Doug’s “looking very Squirtle today, with the turtle-neck.” Despite Harry’s Misty-inspired outfit, and the band’s reputation for possessing a lustrous array of spangly garments, there were some “dark times” for Peace during their gruelling tour schedule; times far more grave, in Harry’s opinion, than band arguments or missed flights. The constant jet lag that came with touring in Asia and Australia had a remarkable effect on his very nature. “My hair was so long,” he says with genuine disgust in his voice, “I had stubble, and I was wearing a t-shirt. A t-shirt,” he repeats slowly, “you know what I mean? I’d walk around in a t-shirt, it was like, what’s happening? This isn’t right.” Dom doesn’t look as perturbed by Harry’s fashion faux pas, however. “You flew Doc Brown,” laughs Sam, while Harry continues to look slightly shaken by the experience of recounting his cotton basics wearing days. “No, Doc Brown was on my way back up,” replies Dom, unveiling his theory of why jet lag might’ve caused Harry’s usual affinity for paisley trousers and glittery turtlenecks to unravel. “If you fly somewhere and you go forward in time, and then you immediately go back, you will arrive before you left. Don’t try and work it out,” he advises knowingly, “you won’t be able to.” Over the past year the band feel like they have developed a great deal, and this new album is the result. “Before,” says Harry, “we didn’t know what we were doing. Playing live
“Just shut up and be enthusiastic a b o u t s t u f f, be fucking positive!” Harry Ko i s s e r
BR IT PACK
THE GODFATHERS LOOK OUT FOR: Their second album, due later this year. SEE THEM LIVE: Truck, Reading & Leeds, on a UK tour this June.
“It’s showbiz, I fucking h at e t h at s h i t. Fucking t wa t s . ” Harry Ko i s s e r
I felt strongest when we locked into a kind of groove. I look at the guitars, swirly and colourful, and this locked-in bass, which I guess comes from funk,” he laughs, “or something, right? We all felt that was what we were about. I haven’t thought of a name yet. A very colourful lovely mess, kind of like if you put milk in soap and food colouring.” Understandably everyone seems very confused, so Harry takes out his phone purposefully. “I’ll google it now. There you go, third up, it’s called magic milk. This is what I wanted the guitar to sound like.” The background music playing in the studio suddenly seems more dramatic as the rest of the band gather round and watch Harry’s new favourite video. “Get out of here!” shouts Dom, as the milk dances around and bursts into colourful shapes, “what’s going on?” “It’s very intense isn’t it?” asks Harry. “The sprinkling over the top of a real strong heavy groove. Then I just had to write some songs about something, and apply it to that. Maybe magic milk is our genre?” “There was a Northern Soul thing going on, too,” adds Sam, once the hubbub around magic milk has subsided. “Oh god,” laughs Harry, “about midway through writing I tried to sway it into being a Northern Soul record. Our tour manager used to go out to the bloody all-nighters at Wigan Casino, so he was playing it in the dressing room, all this obscure stuff I hadn’t heard before. I got my dad’s mate, a proper old Northern Soul boy, to make me a massive mix of his favourite rare tracks, and I’m really into that. I tried to write a song like ‘I Really Love You’ by The Tomangoes and couldn’t get it right. I scrapped the whole thing. But there’s definitely a bit in there, I wanted to keep it as soulful as possible. Bit of heart, bit of soul. You don’t want to just be singing about crap, do you?” Just writing about crap, Harry readily admits, is something that he wanted to avoid as much as possible. “I’d given it the massive one about how I was going to learn to write songs properly,” he laughs. “So I thought, oh fuck, I’m actually going to have to do this. I wanted to, though, I really wanted to. I think this is probably something that every songwriter goes through privately, or doesn’t particularly feel like they should boast about, but it felt pretty good. I focused a little bit more. It’s what my school teachers used to say, ‘you do the minimum to get by’. My Mum sent me my school report the other day, for music, and it said that I wasn’t trying hard enough, I wasn’t taking part in the singing with all the other students. Ironic really.” Peace might’ve captured the essence of magic milk from their live show, but this album, they explain, is more experimental than the debut, from a studio perspective. “We’re always going to be a band orientated towards the live shows,” says Harry, “but there’s more experiment.” Dom agrees. “I think since the first [album] we’ve become slightly more educated with our instruments, how we want them to sound, the interesting things we can do with that, in a studio. I didn’t know anything about that the first time around.” They have also, they add, become better at navigating the industry. “We’re aware of the logistical side of it now, the label politics and how the industry works, not being as naïve,” says Harry. “It’s showbiz, I fucking hate that shit. Fucking twats. There’s just this front on everything... total sugar-coated bullshit. Smoke and mirrors, mate!” Is that what the first single from this second record, ‘Money’, is about, then? “Not really” says Harry, perhaps slightly unconvincingly. “I don’t think there’s any sort of bitter stuff
on the record. We’ve reserved those thoughts for ourselves. Indulgence. It’s the only thing I have left, being grumpy by myself”. Dom takes one look at the huge amounts of dry ice billowing across the room from the band’s photoshoot and laughs. “Plenty of smoke,” he observes, “but not enough mirrors. There’s only one. Smoke and mirror.” Although Peace are quick to point out that they can only speak for themselves, and not other bands, there’s no denying that a large factor in their success was the fact that they were part of a scene; notoriously dubbed B-Town, and revolving around a group of bands who all knew one another, playing gigs in Birmingham. Call it marketing spiel, or something real that is happening, but it provided a catalyst for the explosion of British talent that’s since come to pass. “[B-Town] probably did exist, it probably does exist actually,” says Harry. “To deny that is such a fucked thing to do. There was a group of bands that all shared an extended fanbase, all playing in the same places, similar social circles. Sure, it was a joke, me and Cav [from Swim Deep] were saying, as a word, and I’m sure it pissed off old people from Birmingham. It’s pretty fucked to be embarrassed about it, though, what’s the problem? Everyone gets all pissy.” “I don’t understand,” he adds, “there’s something in the water in the Midlands that makes people be really self-deprecating sometimes. It’s like, just shut up and be enthusiastic about stuff, be fucking positive! People don’t like scenes in the Midlands, I don’t know why. I never got why people who I see complaining about the lack of attention to Birmingham in the music press before, as soon as we
were doing well, they were just like, fuck that. You know, what are you on about? ‘This B-Town scene? Having none of this!’ “We kind of helped it happen, by getting signed and being rad,” sniggers Harry, “but we went on tour as soon as we got signed, and that was the point when that whole thing was invented. Never got to sort of go round Birmingham being like, we own this town.” “It’s good for what it’s done,” reasons Doug. “Getting people to go to shows in Birmingham was always quite difficult, and now everyone’s interested in bands, and starting up bands. It’s got people enthusiastic.” Doug has a point. In an industry that is quick to point out the rising levels of illegal downloading, the difficulties breaking-even touring, and the financial prospects of music – all very real issues - Peace prompt queues of young fans lined up round the block to get into their free shows, crazed scenes of crowds being held back by human security barriers; “well-dressed and slightly out of place fans,” laughs Dom. You can detect excitement around their music. It makes those hazy memories of sneaking into venues to see your favourite bands as a teenager seem just five minutes ago, too; anxiously waiting for your mum to stop using the landline so that dial-up, and Myspace, would work. This energy surrounding Peace especially seems to come from younger fans, and it’s something that the band feels a responsibility towards. “It is cool,” says Harry. “I feel like I want to step up and be a really good band for people of that age to get into, and really give something back.” DIY
Reach out and grab it: The futureâ€™s bright for Wolf Alice.
NEXT IN LINE TO THE THRONE Songs get louder, ideas more refined, shows increasingly packed and day by day Wolf Alice become a more important band. Ready to take on the festivals, desperate to get into the studio to record their first album - there’s no stopping one of the UK’s best acts from giving good on their early promise. If there’s anyone leading the charge, it’s Wolf Alice. Words: Emma Swann, Photos: Mike Massaro.
Dirty Hit as “a massive relief,” and his expression tells the same story.
olf Alice like to talk. They like to talk about how they met a racist punk while in Belgium recording EP ‘Creature Songs’. They like to talk about the golden wellies guitarist Joff Oddie found on the street outside his house and subsequently had stolen. They talk about the boy in Scotland who spent an entire gig with his arm outstretched towards vocalist Ellie Rowsell, the fact bassist Theo Ellis didn’t know who any of the Manic Street Preachers were before their stint supporting the legendary Welsh rockers (“I felt really bad,” he explains, “they were absolutely lovely to us”). Drummer Joel Amey likes to talk about just about everything: James Dean Bradfield is “cool as fuck”, Lisa Simpson “a babe”, and tour mates Superfood are “lovely”. But when posed with the inevitable question as to when an album’s going to come from the brilliantly grungy north London quartet? “Recording later in the year,” laughs Joff. “... and coming out after it’s recorded,” interrupts Joel, as the foursome giggle awkwardly. Wolf Alice have a full summer ahead anyway – there’s no time to head into the studio between their UK headline tour and the autumn. Glastonbury sees them playing their biggest festival show to date, a “massive” (in Theo’s words) moment for a band who’ve experienced nothing but steps-up and added validations since they started out two years back. A tour with Superfood has just seen two of the UK’s brightest sparks light the same fuse. Wolf Alice are the grungier, elder siblings given the billing, but the tour had been a long time coming. Ellie had already seen the Birmingham band countless times, but when on the road she admits “they’re spurring us on.” - “They’re playing before us and it’s so well-rehearsed and tight. If you’re playing after them, there’s no room for mistakes.” Together, Wolf Alice and Superfood represent just a small portion of a surge in UK music that carries a genuine cause. It’s tangible. “I don’t know if this is the first time I’ve followed new music for quite a long time and also because we’re in more of a position to notice these things, but there’s definitely lots of bands doing the same thing,” claims Ellie. “There’s definitely something cool happening, I’ve thought that for quite a long time. I know when I was a younger fan, when I saw two bands that I really loved touring together, it was really exciting; another thing to follow.”
old out shows and exciting joint tours might have been a long time coming, but the beginning of 2014 marked a new chapter for Wolf Alice. Theo describes signing to
“We didn’t think anyone was going to sign us,” he laughs. “Also, it’s meant we’ve been given the ability to have more time than some other bands get with their first record; to really think about it, consolidate it. It meant that we knew we’d get to make a record.” They all laugh. “At one point we were thinking of doing a Kickstarter!” “We would have done it anyway”, asserts Joff, “there’s no way we wouldn’t. But it’s nice to know we’ve got enough money behind us to make...” Theo continues, “...the album we want to make, as well. Not just a version of what we could.” Dirty Hit didn’t exactly pay pennies, but its roster is small. Each of its acts receives an unprecedented amount of attention. It’s a label magnetic to snobbery, in a sense. Their most well known name is The 1975, a band who picked up scathing reviews left, right and centre last year but who are, indisputably, one of the biggest groups in the country. “They gain stigmas for things they shouldn’t gain stigmas for,” says Theo. “They did it their way and it’s pretty cool. They’re a real tenacious label and we really admire that.” It was important, the four agree, to get ‘Creature Songs’ out of their system before embarking on a full-length proper. Not only because the songs themselves had been hanging around for quite some time, but also to get used to a proper studio mindset. Before heading to Belgium to work with producer Catherine J. Marks on the EP, they’d only ever recorded in one place – right in the middle of Soho.
“It’s good to draw a line under something”, adds Joff, “it’s nice to get some songs out that might not have got on the album as well, some of the songs that we really like.” “It was vital to do an EP, looking back on it,” continues Joel, “I didn’t want to do it to start with, but I don’t think we would’ve known what we would have done with an album if we didn’t have that little burst of recording somewhere different, and working with someone else. If our first experience of that had been making the album, I think the first week of making the album would’ve been very different to how it could be. And the songs have turned out far better. I thought they were good, don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t have done it if they weren’t good, but it was definitely up in our estimations.” ‘Creature Songs’ follows a Wolf Alice pattern in one sense. The songs go from loud to quiet, the band showcasing their two brilliant extremes. ‘Storms’ into ‘Heavenly Creatures’ is, in the band’s words, “the night out” and then “the hangover”. Working with Marks was their first experience of letting another producer into their world. It wasn’t a weird experience, Ellie insists. “I actually thought it was really natural.” Conceding control they might have been, but it didn’t exactly feel like someone was budging in, adding their own take on things. “There’s only so much you can do and know,” Theo admits. “She made us sound big. I think we’re all really proud of it.” “I was surprised in how exactly the same our ideas were. There wasn’t really much of a problem for me at all. I don’t know if it’s just luck that we had the same ideas,” continues Ellie. They also all agree on how much they’ve changed as
“THERE’S NO F O R M I S TA K E S . ”
RO OM E L L I E ROWS E L L
THERE’S D E F I N I T E LY SOMETHING COOL HAPPE N I N G . E L L I E ROWS E L L
a band in the past year. “We’re always changing, aren’t we?” asks Joel, somewhat hypothetically - Ellie having already pointed to one Twitter user berating the noisy nature of Wolf Alice’s newest material (“Fuck Wolf Alice”, she quotes the message posted, “I wish they were a fucking folk band again, they’re shit now!”). For the majority, the band’s progression hasn’t been that much of a surprise - the moment they played one of DIY’s ‘Hello 2013’ shows, they stood out as something special. But the momentum they’ve carried and the sheer scale at which they’ve progressed has been uncharacteristic - it’s hard to pinpoint another band getting better and better, again and again, before even releasing an album. In the beginning, everything was played out in the spotlight. “We never turned down shows, we just played as many as possible - our first really shit shows are online from really crap camera phone videos. We didn’t really hide anything,” says Ellie. That’s why the four of them - essentially a new band, by definition - look like seasoned pros in comparison to other members of the Brit Pack.
“As a part of the journey for Wolf Alice, we’ve always done things in public. It’s not like it’s taken us a long time to make an album, it’s just that other
NEXT IN LINE TO THE THRONE
Joff does his best to recreate the World Cup 2014 logo.
LOOK OUT FOR: The ‘Creature Songs’ EP is out now - a debut album is being recorded this autumn. It’s expected late 2014 / early 2015 on Dirty Hit. SEE THEM LIVE: Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds.
bands have had time away from the internet. They’ve been able to plan everything and then jump into an album campaign. With us, it was like ‘Oh, we’ve got a song’ and we’d put it online. Everything was there to see.” There was an itch to dive headfirst into album releases, a label deal, big festival appearances - but taking time is paying its dues. This summer, things finally appear close to falling into place. When Ellie first went to Glastonbury and she admits the story is “cheesy” - she saw The Horrors playing The Park Stage and immediately told herself: “‘Ok, you just have to make sure that one day you play Glastonbury. It doesn’t matter where, what stage or what time - just do it.’” She wasn’t even in a band at the time, but that determination seems to steer the whole group. Watching them on stage, they’re clearly having fun but there’s an edge to their work that doesn’t just come from mucking about. Summer might not witness an album proper, then, but it’s a huge - probably the biggest step in the band’s career so far. Whereas last year the group had to put a halt on the sheer speed at which they were moving, now they’re seizing every opportunity they’re being offered. “I was really jealous of all the bands last year who were playing Reading & Leeds and Glastonbury,” she admits. “I was asking, ‘Why aren’t we playing it?’ But it’s probably worked out for the best. We’re a lot more practiced now. So it’s a hundred times more exciting.” This’ll be the first of many Glasto spots for the band. Once an album’s out, goodness knows what they’re capable of achieving. Nothing’s standing in Wolf Alice’s way. As Ellie asserts: “We’ve waited for this moment.” DIY DIY AT THE FESTIVALS Wolf Alice will play at 2000trees. See diymag.com for details.
B R I TPACK
There are plenty more bands joining the Brit Pack. Here’s a few of the names leading the charge...
First they escaped Birmingham. Then they escaped the ‘B-Town’ tag. After that, they began to escape dogged criticism by expanding their immediate sound into more curious, gorgeous territory. Pianos started filtering into the mix, tracks began to sound ambitious - debut ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ only began to showcase this. Album number two could be the making of them, especially given last year’s superb showing at the festivals. Austin Williams (frontman): “We just want to do something that’s fun. It’s really hard to explain without sounding all pretentious. We just want to convey the message that your life can be boring and shit and it’s good to get outside and do more fun shit with your life.” SEE THEM LIVE: Isle of Wight Festival, Truck.
PALMA VIOLETS Last time DIY spoke to Palma Violets, Peter Mayhew from the band said the others were “probably off doing drugs.” Stumble upon them at a festival and they’ll just be stumbling more. Check out any insane, arm-flailing secret gig and one of the members will be in attendance, the first to crowdsurf. In the time between debut ‘180’ and their upcoming second album, Palma Violets have just got more insane, more capable of giving a genuine cause to an old-fashioned racket. Famously signed on a masterful whim by Rough Trade, their time is fast approaching - they’re a band on the brink of seeing their potential fulfilled. Chilli Jesson (frontman): “When we write the songs we write it as if we’re going to perform them - our friends are going to jump around to them. The thing we like most about being in a band is playing live. That’s the best. But the chicks too, the chicks are great.” LOOK OUT FOR: A new album this summer via Rough Trade.
Eyes closed, heads raised to the sky - when Temples play live they’re seeing through their psych fantasies. It’s an inclusive experience. Getting swept up in their waves of reverb and expansive keys isn’t exactly a challenge. If there’s one group capable of being the breakthrough act at festivals over the summer, it’s Temples. Their debut album ‘Sun Structures’ might’ve come out in February, but it was tailor-made for this season.
BR I TPACK
Tom Warmsley (bass): “Psych is more of an interpretation of feeling than a style, personal to an individual. But it’s become an umbrella for lots of different genres. There are no rules, really. It’s never been better, technology, the retrospective of music we have, nostalgia is just as curious as anything alien and futurist. It’s timeless. [And] it’s a feeling that you can’t replicate, to actually experience music living and breathing in front of you, and psychedelic music thrives on that.” LOOK OUT FOR: Debut album ‘Sun Structures’ is out now on Heavenly. SEE THEM LIVE: Field Day, Glastonbury, Latitude, Reading & Leeds.
THE EVIL SIBLINGS
DRENGE Every time Drenge play live, they sound more sinister, more capable of destruction than ever. They also appear to despise each other that little bit more. Eoin and Rory Loveless can often be found throwing drumsticks, towels, cups of beer in each other’s direction. It all comes part in parcel with a band on a roll, stepping up in every regard. Add political endorsements and Kanye meets into the equation and we’re clearly witnessing a band on the up. Eoin Loveless: “You start a band and you do shows and more and more people come to your shows and you get more recognised. And that is the world of getting big. If you wanna confuse it with the world of celebrity then by all means go ahead. But it’s something we’re completely not interested in.” LOOK OUT FOR: A second album due out in 2014.
SUPERFOOD With Teletext subscriptions and multi-coloured cheerios pouring out of their sleeves, Superfood embrace their childish instincts. They’ve just supported Wolf Alice on the road, essentially making for 2014’s most exciting tour of the year so far. The Birmingham-hailing four-piece have plenty more to give. Dom Ganderton (frontman): “Some of the bands around in the ‘90s were the last, great British bands. For people to say it sounds ‘90s, it’s obviously not because we were all born in 1991. When we release our album, they might see it’s not our main aim to be ‘90s. All of our songs are so different. Maybe people will see us doing it forever.” LOOK OUT FOR: A debut album due out later this year. SEE THEM LIVE: Truck Festival, Secret Garden Party.
THE WYTCHES THE CHARMERS
THE DEADLY DUO
It’s impossible to knock Liverpool four-piece Circa Waves. Their jagged, jaunty take on things isn’t a gigantic ground-breaker by any stretch, but it’s hard to find anything more immediate than the songs they’re sporting. A triple-espresso shot? Quite possibly. A tour with Interpol and a big deal with Transgressive have given them serious momentum.
The full Royal Blood experience boils down to seeing them live. On record, the force is colossal, but wait for it to expose itself live. Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher fill gigantic venues like it’s a natural instinct. Imagining the group on a bigger scale - in festival tents and arenas - makes summer 2014 an incredible prospect. Best of all? They’re just a pair of pop-obsessed softies.
Kieran Shuddall (frontman): “We’re going to do an indie record and we want to make something sonically interesting. When you listen to Bloc Party’s first album [‘Silent Alarm’], essentially they’re pop songs and they’re in an incredible sonic surrouWnding. It’s about making it more interesting, not just going straight down the indie line. You’ve got to build an interesting sound for an album.”
Mike Kerr (vocals, guitar): “I think our band sounds like a collaboration between our different influences but not necessarily our mutual ones. We were saying the other day, if it was all in Ben’s hands, it would go a lot popper, but if it was in my hands it would probably go all psychedelic and silly. I think that marriage of the two is equal to what we do in this.”
LOOK OUT FOR: A debut album out in January 2015 via Transgressive. SEE THEM LIVE: Glastonbury Festival and Reading & Leeds.
LOOK OUT FOR: A debut album due out this summer via Warner. SEE THEM LIVE: Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds and supporting Pixies in Manchester.
Do not mess with The Wytches. Follow three simple rules: 1) Don’t just stand there with arms folded at their shows. 2) Don’t call them a psych band. 3) Embrace their fuzzy grunge and you’ll do just fine. Kristian Bell (frontman): “When I think of psychedelic music, I think of like, flower people and happy stuff. We’re much darker. I think people hear that Egyptian-y style scale I use for a lot of my guitar riffs, and maybe the reverb and delay effects on my guitar, and immediately think ‘psychedelic’. But I don’t think that’s very accurate of how we sound.” LOOK OUT FOR: Debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’, out 25th August via Heavenly. SEE THEM LIVE: Field Day, Beacons and Bestival.
A L E X I S TAY L O R / CA N DY H E A R T S / C E R E B R A L B A L L Z Y / C L E A N B A N D I T / D R ES S W E L L / H OW L I N G B E L L S / JAC K W H I T E / K A S A B I A N / K L A XO N S / K Y L A / RÖY K S O P P & RO BY N / S A M S M I T H / T H E A N T L E R S / T H E G R E AT ES CA P E / T H E
tr ackLIST 1. Three Women 2. Lazaretto 3. Temporary Ground 4. Would You Fight For My Love? 5. High Ball Stepper 6. Just One Drink 7. Alone In My Home 8. Entitlement 9. That Black Bat Licorice 10. I Think I Found The Culprit 11. Want And Able
T wo y e a rs t o m a k e ? S y n t h s ? W i l l t h e r e al Jac k
JACK WHITE Lazaretto
(Third Man / XL)
ack White doesn’t take two years to make an album. Jack White retires to his shed in Nashville, and returns twenty minutes later, reel of tape in hand, ready to waltz down to the pressing plant to release a 7-inch record the next week. And yet here’s ‘Lazaretto’. Recorded between 2012 and 2014, written using 19-year-old White’s short stories, performed with various synthesisers and even including the word “digital” - surely a first for a man whose lyrics usually live in about 1940 – it shouldn’t be a Jack White record. And yet it couldn’t be anything but.
Let’s be honest - opening with such dubious lyrics as those of ‘Three Women’ is one hell of a risk. It might be a re-working of a Blind Willie McTell number from 1928, but even for a man whose entire career is built on ‘relaying’ the blues, White’s in murky waters. If it’s supposed to be third-party storytelling or even parody, those references to Detroit, Nashville and redheads aren’t helping him get that message across. His signature guitar licks are scattered throughout, and while none are as immediate or as punky as ‘Blunderbuss’’
F I R S T A I D K I T / F U C K E D U P / G L A S S A N I M A L S / H I T T H E D EC K / H OW T O L A G R A N G E / L I V E AT L E E D S / L I V E R P O O L S O U N D C I T Y / PA RQ U E T C O U R T S O RW E L L S / T H E PA I N S O F B E I N G P U R E AT H E A R T / T O M V E K / W H I T E L U N G
W h i t e please stand up? ‘Sixteen Saltines’, ‘Lazaretto’ feels more guitar-based as a whole – most excitingly on instrumental ‘High Ball Stepper’. There’s a smattering of White’s Nashville environs too – the country-style female vocals joining in on ‘Temporary Ground’ are sublime, and on ‘That Black Bat Licorice’, an outstanding, hip-hop indebted number, even stretch as far as getting their own introduction. “Now say the same damn thing with the violin” is surely a contender for 2014’s Timberlake “drums” moment. That ‘Want and Able’ is, we’re told, the self-styled sibling to ‘Effect and Cause’ on ‘Icky Thump’ comes as little surprise; there’s much of ‘Lazaretto’ – the
soft repetition, the swirling Americana, the frequent lyrical references to ghosts – that echoes those last two White Stripes records. And still there’s so much more going on here. In taking his time, mining old material of his own as well as others’, swapping and switching personnel between sessions and embracing a little more of the 21st Century, ‘Lazaretto’ is perhaps the most conventionally made of White’s back catalogue. And for an artist as brilliantly unconventional as he, could prove itself more of a test than any of its predecessors. A test passed with flying colours (or at least various shades of blue). (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘That Black Bat Licorice’
DIY AT THE FESTIVALS Jack White will play at Open’er. See diymag.com for details.
New Eyes (Atlantic)
Cut Your Teeth
Eccentricity has always been at the core of Clean Bandit, their revolving door vocal duties warranting them a billing as a kind of classical Basement Jaxx. ‘New Eyes’ however, feels like they’re attempting to move away from their roots. ‘Come Over’ is a slickly-produced tubthumper that sounds like it’s been scraped up off the bottom of a Malia swimming pool. The hashed sentiment is studied, their new target market is in view and yes, they’re sunburnt, preened and glugging something that’s both potent and luminous. (James West) LISTEN: ‘Telephone Banking’
(ioki / Sony)
FIRST AID KIT Stay Gold (Columbia)
A resounding success. It’s a cheap trick to throw the “maturity” label at a band who started in their mid-teens, but the progress of First Aid Kit these past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. There’s still the same bright-eyed wonder that defined their debut, but the difference on third album, ‘Stay Gold’, is that despite opener ‘My Silver Lining’’s sense of hope, this is an album showcasing a more sombre take on things. Klara and Johanna are fighting off the cynicism that tends to bite anybody entering their early twenties. Fortunately they fight through, coining big-hearted songs that breeze straight past bummed out despondency. If this doesn’t take the Swedes into higher realms, nothing will. As surefire a bet for bigger things as there’ll ever be, it’s a resounding success. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘The Bell’
KYLA LA GRANGE
Perhaps it’s the delay in release, but it’s hard to shake the idea that more was expected of Kyla La Grange’s second album, ‘Cut Your Teeth’. While tracks like the tropical single ‘The Knife’ are great, with steel drums and crisp beats, the album as a whole just isn’t. There’s a promising string of songs in the second half of the record: Kyla La Grange still has a voice you want to listen to, but two albums in, it seems like she’s still searching for the best music to set it to. (Coral Williamson) LISTEN: ‘I’ll Call For You’
q&A DIY’s Dominique Sisley questions Glass Animals’ frontman, Dave Bayley.
While Drew and Edmund studied music, you didn’t, did you? My studies were pretty much opposite to anything to do with music, I did neuroscience. I think it definitely contributed to the lyrics. I spent a lot of time around psychiatric patients, they just have these really amazing, really strange stories that stick with you. I think some of those come through in the words of the songs. Your lyrics are a bit... abstract, aren’t they? A lot of it ends up being stream of consciousness, it’s really weird - I’ll just be nodding off late at night, about to go to bed, and I’ll just get a couple of sentences in my head that flow really well and have a cool rhythm to them. DIY
ZABA (Wolf Tone / Caroline)
An often scintillating debut. It’s been said before, but it’s something of an inescapable truth; Glass Animals couldn’t be much closer to Alt-J. Not only do they mirror the Mercury Prize winners’ aesthetic, but each of ‘ZABA’’s 11 tracks are swathed in similar ear-pricking instrumentation, while frontman Dave Bayley’s off-kilter croon is more than a little reminiscent of Joe Newman’s. On ‘ZABA’ however, Glass Animals defy their virginal status. Only time will tell if their craft is a learned concoction of some obvious influencers or something truly special, but at the very least it’s an attention-worthy foray, the kind that brilliantly compliments those other genre-defining albums under the studious indie umbrella. (James West) LISTEN: ‘Hazey’
CEREBRAL BALLZY Jaded and Faded (Cult Records)
Produced by Dave Sitek and released on Julian Casablancas’ label, you’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘Jaded & Faded’ would show a ‘cleaner’ Cerebral Ballzy. In fact, right from the moment opener ‘Any Day’ bursts into life with its crunchy chords and grunge-ridden vocals, it becomes clear that they haven’t toned down their act at all - this is dirtier, filthier, and meaner. And most refreshingly their pop sensibilities are completely compromised. They sound more visceral and raw than ever before - they’ve ditched the radio-ready gleam, the whole thing sounds recorded in an abandoned crack den on a half-broken tape player, and they’re all the better because of it. (Tom Walters) LISTEN: ‘Lonely As America’ 71
PARQUET COURTS Sunbathing Animal (Rough Trade)
Fucking glorious. The mopiness of debut ‘Light Up Gold’ is all but gone on Parquet Courts’ second effort and Rough Trade debut ‘Sunbathing Animal’. Sure, they’re lyrically the same angst-ridden twentysomethings that made it the record it was, but musically they’re stripped-back - there isn’t much beyond three chords most of the time. Focused, tight, and coherent aren’t words you might want to read associated with a Parquet Courts album, but on ‘Sunbathing Animal’, they’re all the better for it. The guitar work sounds just as fiery and invigorated as ever, and their hooks are vibrant and incessantly catchy: this is Parquet Courts’ triumphant slap in the face to all the slacker-taggers - they’ve shed blood and worked damned hard for this. (Tom Walters) LISTEN: ‘Sunbathing Animal’
THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART
ALEXIS TAYLOR (Domino)
‘Await Barbarians’ strikes a bold contrast to Alexis Taylor’s most memorable work, in Hot Chip and About Group. It sees him playing to his strengths, wrapping intricate, yet uncomplicated structures around his ever-beautiful vocal, and when ‘From the Halfway Line’ opens it’s as if it’s been dropped across from Neil Young’s ‘On the Beach’, in an admittedly bold way. Intimate and involving doesn’t necessarily mean that the record is engaging, however, and some tracks wash over without an impression, ultimately making this feel like little more than an indulgent side-project. Not so much disappointing; rather just presenting a particularly shallow shade of Taylor’s work. (Nathan Roberts) LISTEN: ‘Dolly And Porter’
Days of Abandon (Fierce Panda)
Kip Berman’s songwriting has always been youthful and poignant, but with the expansive musicality on ‘Days of Abandon’, he sounds more heartfelt than ever before. His lyrics have in the past been washed out by fuzzy production or crunchy riffs, but now they’re elevated by angelical euphoria, glorious keys and shimmering guitar lines. It’s the Pains of Being Pure at Heart we all fell in love with five years ago, but on ‘Days of Abandon’, they’re revisiting their bedroom pop roots and letting those songs soar to dizzying new heights. (Tom Walters) LISTEN: ‘Beautiful You’
Love Frequency (Akashi Rekords / Sony Red)
Nu-rave. That’s a phrase nobody is throwing about in 2014, and yet it’s the world Klaxons return to with ‘Love Frequency’. It would be all too easy for a Mercury Prize winning band to throw out something dated and hope past glories still burn strong enough. Thankfully, that’s the last thing on their mind. Without throwing the baby out with the bath water, they’ve updated the template. ‘Show Me A Miracle’ is dubstep crashing a warehouse rave in slow motion, while ‘Children Of The Sun’ ra-ras its way from a pyramid grave like a pharaoh’s reanimated corpse. That reinvention is personal, though. Like first taster ‘There Is No Other Time’ - catchy and at home on the airwaves - ‘Love Frequency’’s greatest triumph is to feel relevant at all. (Stephen Ackroyd) LISTEN: ‘Show Me A Miracle’
KASABIAN 48:13 (Sony)
If Kasabian really is an elaborate, ten-year spanning inside joke, ‘48:13’ could be the pinnacle. As Tom Meighan and and Serge Pizzorno continue to bounce off the walls, declaring each of their works a moment of inspired genius, in actual fact it doesn’t matter if they’re poking fun at themselves. A little bit like if Jez and Super Hans from Peep Show got a record deal, and even more like if Geoff Barrow went off the wagon and ditched Portishead for a boozy weekender alongside Shaun Ryder, lyrics about Google and enough arrogant rants to render the average coke bender an innocent affair, it’s almost like a parody of Kasabian. And it works, in its own, sour-tasting way. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘s.p.s.’
In The Lonely Hour (Capitol)
In need of a hug. Could somebody please give Sam Smith a hug? While it’s hardly a surprise given the title of the Home Counties soul boy’s debut, ‘In The Lonely Hour’ is one wistful sigh of unrequited love after another. ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Leave Your Lover’, ‘Lay Me Down’, the message couldn’t be clearer. It’s delivered beautifully, of course - Smith’s enviable vocals are spot-on throughout, and find themselves paired with as pitch-perfect a production to accompany them as has been seen all year. Stripped-back percussion if any at all, gospel backing and simple piano arrangements all the way, tender and heartfelt don’t even begin to cover how Smith conveys his melancholy. The ‘male Adele’ isn’t a tag he’s gonna lose any time soon – but one can only hope by the follow-up he’s found someone to love him right back. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Stay With Me’
PHOTo: emma swann
TOM VEK Luck (Moshi Moshi)
moments of brilliance. For Tom Vek’s third album, ‘Luck’, he’s largely employing the same tricks as the first two, the same art-school drawl, the same off kilter riffs and conversational but abstract lyricism. It’s a welcome and unique template, and his shadowy absences only add to his the excitement of his returns. Vek knows when to use negative space and knows the value of simplicity, and at their best the things he constructs are impeccable, as ‘Sherman (Animals in the Jungle)’ demonstrates. There are moments of sheer brilliance, but it’s hard to escape the feeling ‘Luck’’s not quite delivered. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘Sherman (Animals in the Jungle)’
Heartstrings (Birthday Records)
Returning with a new vitality and maturity, Howling Bells deliver another smooth and satisfying affair. The luscious voice of Juanita Stein, unsurprisingly, hasn’t left her and despite taking two years out from writing, the band’s trademark garage rock kicks have remained in place. Howling Bells are, very suitably, best when they’re howling, not chiming or ringing lamely. At that best though, there’s festival anthems just waiting for a rainy day and packed tent on uneven ground. They’re still seductive, fiery and invigorating, but oddly with age there seems to be chinks of weakness in their tenderness. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘Slowburn’
RÖYKSOPP & ROBYN Do It Again
The term ‘mini album’ does sound a bit pretentious. But then, ‘Do It Again’ comes from Röyksopp and Robyn, Scandi pop pioneers who each have a history of making landscapechanging music. And however you classify it, listening feels like landing in a desert and arriving at a festival organised by robots addicted to Game of Thrones. If that sounds too epic, well tough; because album-opener ‘Monument’ is nine minutes long, literally asking you to “make a space” for what’s about to come. It’s needed, though, because what follows is compulsive, flawlessly-produced, and beautiful. (Tom Morris) LISTEN: ‘Sayit’
PHOTo: emma swann
q&a Tom Krell reveals more to DIY’s Tom Walters.
Where did you record the album? This one I did in Berlin at a studio called Golden Retriever Studios. We had that studio blocked out for six weeks. We did ten hour, twelve hour days - I took about three days off the whole time. It was amazing. ‘Total Loss’ was quite emotional on the lyrical side, but this one seems to be coming at you more musically. I decided that I wanted to take a new, take a different kind of control over the sounds. It’s kind of a slippery slope thing, well it kind of ended up being a slippery slope obsessional control thing for me where I’d take one song and I’d be like okay, I wanna go in and actually detail the subsound here. I want to detail the subsound on this. And then i’d be like well actually now I need to detail the subsound on every track. I just became kind of obsessed about it. I’ve never worked this hard on a record, I’ve never worked this hard on anything in my entire life.
HOW TO DRESS WELL What Is This Heart? (Weird World)
More determined than ever. While debut ‘Total Loss’ offered a more refined and clear-cut take on How To Dress Well’s previously lo-fi, densely shrouded and emotion-fuelled music then ‘What Is This Heart?’ finally puts him fully centre stage. A morose bust on the cover of his prior effort is replaced with this album’s melancholic photo portrait, direct and uncompromising: terminology you could easily apply to this record. The music itself is bolder, yes, but still operating on the same cloudy register, stamping above experimentation. Tackling his inner demons in such an honest way is admirable then, if not a little po-faced, but ‘What Is This Heart?’ proves you wouldn’t want Tom Krell any other way. (Nathan Roberts) LISTEN: ‘Precious Love’
FUCKED UP Glass Boys (Matador)
Over more than ten years as a band Fucked Up’s image has constantly shifted, from hardcore noise merchants to pseudo-indie and experimental prog. With his raw, throat-shredding vocals Damian Abraham leaves little doubt that, despite their shape shifting, at heart Fucked Up are still very much a hardcore band. The immediacy and aggression of ‘Hidden World’ and ‘The Chemistry Of Common Life’ is still present in abundance, driving ‘Glass Boys’ relentlessly forward, but there is also a new sense of coherence and focus. On ‘Glass Boys’ Fucked Up seem like a band in full control of the path the record takes.(Stuart Knapman) LISTEN: ‘Hidden World’
ALL THE WAYS YOU LET ME DOWN
Blink and you’ll miss it. White Lung’s debut on Domino, ‘Deep Fantasy’, barely lasts twenty minutes and is a full-throttle assault on the senses. Heading into the studio as a three-piece after touring on the back of the critically acclaimed ‘Sorry’, the band actually come across as rather unapologetic as they tear through ten tracks of abrasive and confrontational rock’n’roll. This might be their ‘big’ label debut, but they’re not letting that impact their ferocity in the slightest this is White Lung’s snarliest and most bloodthirsty record to date, and they want you to damn well know it. (Tom Walters) LISTEN: ‘Down It Goes’
(Bridge Nine / Violently Happy)
Pop punk never dies. It’s fine to admit it. Blog beats and vibes are all very well, but everyone’s still secretly wishing they were on the Warped Tour. Not convinced? Talk to Candy Hearts. With a summer of festival road trips ahead, ‘All The Ways You Let Me Down’ is the record that will lay siege to the stereo the second the sun comes out. From ‘The Dream’s Not Dead’’s air punching anthemics to the 90s lo-fi of ‘Coffee With My Friends’, it’s the sort of album that’s soaked to the bone in vitamin D. (Stephen Ackroyd) LISTEN: ‘Coffee With My Friends’
THE ORWELLS Disgraceland (Canvasback / Atlantic)
As early as ‘Dirty Sheets’, just three tracks into debut ‘Disgraceland’, it’s pretty damn clear The Orwells have got this thing down entirely. Each subsequent track is an exhibition; a textbook tuneful but admirably punk chorus, sharp jaunty riffs poking out over the crashing drums and thundering bass. Like Parquet Courts’ less intellectual roommate that gets invited to more parties and has earned a bit more beer money, if the kids are ready to take the rock and roll spirit back into their hearts, there’s no better a proposition out there right now than The Orwells. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘Let It Burn’
THE ANTLERS Familiars (Transgressive)
A lesson in gorgeous restraint. The Antlers have made no secret of jazz being on rotation as they made ‘Familiars’, while Peter Silberman expressed his frustration at the confines of writing pop songs. So this is an expansive record, big on ideas and wide in scope. Live with it a while and it reveals itself: the repetition begins to become hypnotising, Silberman’s decision to write and sing as two sides of the same person also creates a narrative arc and a story that nearly demands that you give it time. And, if you do, you’ll find a record that, for all of its complexities and pretensions, is not only hauntingly beautiful but more than rewards. (Danny Wright) LISTEN: ‘Director’ 76 diymag.com
TOY - JOIN THE DOTS 8/10 NME,
TEMPLES - SUN STRUCTURES MOJO
JIMI GOODWIN - ODLUDEK 8/10 UNCUT,
MAIL ON SUNDAY
9/10 CLASH, 8/10 UNCUT,
CHERRY GHOST - HERD RUNNERS 8/10 NME,
Charli XCX gives a hair-raising performance at The Great Escape
live Photos: emma swann
Hit The Deck
the great escape I
Various Venues, Nottingham
IT’S RAINING PUNK ROCK.
Various Venues, Brighton
A WHIRLWIND OF NEW MUSIC. There’s nothing disproving the notion that Wild Beasts are a band on the up. Four records in - with their best arriving in the recent ‘Present Tense’ - they’re in rude form tonight. ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’ beams to life, but it’s in latest record centrepiece ‘Pregnant Pause’ that they truly announce themselves as something special. klaxons
iven the gusts and torrential rain that welcomes in this year’s Great Escape, there isn’t much point forming a precise plan of who to see. Bigger names hog the Dome - the fest’s biggest venue - but it’s in pub shows and impromptu secret sets that the event comes to life. Somewhere down the end of the bunker-like Bermuda Triangle sits Honeyblood. If there’s a better new band than this playing The Great Escape, it’s a fine vintage; a firm Glasgow kiss delivered with a disarming smile, or a wilting platitude delivered with a sneer. Over at The Warren, sure, some of Klaxons’ audience may still have been in short trousers when breakthrough hits ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ and ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ were originally released, but with the more guitar-driven interpretation of their latest bangers, they’re evidently still on strong form. Brighton’s Corn Exchange may be one of the more cavernous venues being used this weekend, but that poses no threat for Royal Blood. Walking on stage in a haze of dark smoke, their set is thunderous from the go. Let’s be honest; Pulled Apart By Horses need no real introduction. Experts in all things loud, the four-piece waste no time in cranking things up to eleven, even with their slot beginning well after midnight.
It’s one-in, one-out with a growing queue as news of Peace’s identity as the ‘special guests’ at The Haunt on Friday night spreads. Opening with breakthrough single ‘Follow Baby’ and using their midnight set to drop in a couple of newbies among the way, it’s hard not to imagine this is a more focused, tighter Peace than before. Whether it be because it’s their first headline show in over a year, their first time at The Great Escape, or simply just their first set of the day, there’s a renewed energy in Twin Atlantic that makes them an absolute joy to witness. Charli XCX’s set is full of the sass that Charli has become so renowned for. Backed by a full live band, she’s as fierce as ever, with her new additions giving tracks like ‘Superlove’ a whole new edge. Girl Band blow minds when they take to the DIY Stage with their amped-up post-punk. The Dubliners achieve everything they want with a couple of instruments and a microphone. Nothing but James Murphy-style nonchalance and fizzing, swarming riffs pull it off. Festival closers couldn’t come much better than Jon Hopkins. Songs from his latest ‘Immunity’ LP fill the Corn Exchange without a moment’s pause, spinning in and out of control as Hopkins manipulates his recordings into stranger beings. Given the surreal weekend that’s preceded, this makes a lot of sense. DIY
t might be Easter Sunday, but in Nottingham, the second leg of this year’s Hit The Deck is kicking off, and there’s not a chocolate egg in sight. As an April shower rains down outside, Gnarwolves are getting pulses racing over in the Rescue Rooms. With a Reading and Leeds main stage slot on the horizon, that’s not all too much of a surprise; the atmosphere of the room, crammed to the brim with punters, is electric as the skate punks dive headfirst into opener ‘History Is Bunk’. Over in the basement of Rock City, new contenders Lyger are busy introducing their furious rock’n’roll to the curious crowd they’ve drawn. While they may only have two songs out in the open so far, their colossal-sized riffs are enough to compete with the bigger names upstairs. Across the way, Kids In Glass Houses are busy rallying up a storm at The Forum, beginning their slew of final tour dates with style. The main attraction of today though is undoubtedly headliners Brand New. Moving in and out of sections of their career with ease – from the ‘Deja Entendu’ section filled with huge sing-alongs, to the ‘Daisy’ era, swathed in feedback – theirs is a performance impossible to take your eyes off. Until the next time, if there is one. (Sarah Jamieson) 79
pulled apart by horses
“YORKSHIRE...” AND REPEAT.
LIVE AT LEEDS
t’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly the music starts and stops at Live At Leeds. In the early hours, there’s a buzz about the city, music spilling out of unlikely sources. By the festival’s apparent conclusion, Pulled Apart By Horses might have closed the DIY Stage in triumph, but fans are still chanting away, the buzz doing everything it can to avoid fading. Mausi were made for afternoons like this one. The sun is high in the sky and they’re, erm, in a very (very) dark Stylus. Still, their brand of breezy euphoric pop cuts through uncharacteristic mid afternoon blackness, all synths and shapes. They couldn’t be more different to Menace Beach. The Met is packed for the Leeds based sort-of-but-sort-ofnot-supergroup. Battling their own instruments in the vague direction of a tune, they’re a world of wrestled feedback unable to turn away from a brilliant off kilter hook line or melody. Given their surrounding slots - Happyness’ college rock, Solids’ thrashing force - Woman’s Hour could feel out of place at the Brudenell Social Club. But they bring a power of their own, one formed out of crushing samples and barelythere vocals. Precision is their game, and on ‘Our Love Has No Rhythm’ it finds itself reaching a passionate peak. Filling the entire Refectory with different coloured lights is one surefire way to get the crowd in a playful mood, but Los Campesinos! have so much more up their sleeves this eve. Playing against a backdrop of pink and turquoise hues, they provoke some of the brightest moments of the festival so far.
In the midst of a chaotic Saturday night, it’s more than a little difficult to come across a quiet spot, but that’s where George Ezra is setting up camp tonight. Centre stage at Leeds College Of Music, complete with wonderful acoustics and an entirely seated audience, the 20-year-old takes us on our very own journey; giving us a sneak peek of his forthcoming album ‘Wanted On Voyage’. When The Amazing Snakeheads let out an unified scream, it’s out of brilliantly undignified passion. There’s no hate or spite in what they do, no frustration forming their foundations. On the DIY Stage they seem understood, with a dynamic crowd from bald tank toppers to baggy jeaned kids, jumping on board. Cut off a snakehead, it’ll just grow another dozen. That’s how it feels watching this
band progress. To say the crowd for Palma Violets’ not-so-secret set in the tiny confines of The Faversham were excited might just be the understatement of the festival - if not the year so far. Screaming even when the various band members pop on stage for a line check, fans reaching forward to grab Chilli Jesson’s inevitably sweaty hair - the floor’s shaking as they raise the roof. The “Yorkshire!” chants and utter bedlam of Pulled Apart By Horses’ headline set on the DIY Stage are inevitable. This triumphant (and partially topless) fourpiece step things up a gear with new material: these songs don’t just roar; they strike quickly, going in for the kill. Both celebration and intrigue collide tonight, in one supremely confident showcase. DIY
blood red shoes
say lou lou blood red shoes
AND NOT A SHELLSUIT IN SIGHT.
LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY Various Venues
rom cathedrals to dingy bars, celebrated local staples to cafés shadowing as a venue, it’s not just the locations that vary wildly at this year’s Liverpool Sound City. Bands come in all shapes and sizes. Wander into the main square and a spandex suited group of strangers will be playing an acoustic set in what looks like a miniature barn. Peek round to the left and there’ll be hordes of queues, clambering in to see Royal Blood‘s bolshy, swaggering rock’n’roll in a crammed Duke Street Garage. Lining up in one-in, one-out formation isn’t too much of a frustration across the weekend, thankfully. Last time round, DZ Deathrays were loud. This time, they’re deafening.
Like two men stuck in a nuclear reactor trying to break their way out with a jackhammer, they contrast riffs perfectly with that nonchalant Aussie lilt. Looking at Olly Alexander, you wouldn’t necessarily expect that voice. His is the kind of soulful tone that demands to be heard. Soaring above the synth wobbles and electronic claps, this is modern music at its very best. Say Lou Lou are certainly feeling the Cathedral’s surroundings - easy to understand when their songs have a more than a hint of something massive about them. Double denim, casual white tees, scrappy solos - Superfood aren’t doing anything to knock back their 90s-adoring reputation. Frontman Dom Ganderton theatrically rolls his eyes into the back of his head
as the Birmingham four-piece precede Wolf Alice with an intentionally slumbering but impressively tight-knit run through the tracks on their ‘TV’ EP. Reports from Wet’s early shows in CMJ and SXSW suggested the buzzy NYC trio were capable of two hit or miss extremes. When their debut UK gig starts off, technical hitches hint at a mini-disaster, but the band persist, the crowd creeps forward and by the end, vocalist Kelly Zutrau looks like a star in the making. Solids are the only band to play two sets in one day at Sound City, which given their diy-or-die, self-release mentality, seems to make a lot of sense. The Montreal duo rinse through the best of debut ‘Blame Confusion’, warts and all. A dayopening Sound Food and Drink set is all well and good, but it’s in warming up to Drenge’s slot in the Kazimier that the pair find their real cause. Before Drenge’s arrival, The Kazimier’s light system is faulty, basically non-existent. It’s been like that for the past twenty minutes. But by the time the Loveless brothers hitch up on stage, as soon as they launch into ‘The Snake’, all of a sudden they’re draped in pyrotechnics. This sums up the run of form the Sheffield duo are currently on, blitzing through the songs on their self-titled debut with unhinged confidence. Of course, there’s always a bigger beast in the urban jungle. This might be Blood Red Shoes’ shortest set of their current tour, but they’re in no mood for fucking about. Tensed like a well trained muscle, when they choose to explode they’re surgically sharp and practically unstoppable. DIY
LEO DOBSEN childhood
FULL NAME Leo Daniel Dobsen. I never say that, ever. It’s not Leonardo, sadly. NICKNAME I get called Dobby by some people, which I don’t like. And Leonard. STAR SIGN Capricorn. PETS I had a beloved rabbit called Rumpus. And I had gerbils. One died, and the other ate it, then died of loneliness. FAVOURITE FOOD Japanese barbecue. You get this incredible thin beef, and all these strange sea creatures that you’ve never seen before. DRINK OF CHOICE My classic is double vodka, lime and soda. FAVOURITE SCENT CK One. IF YOU WEREN’T IN CHILDHOOD, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? If you’d asked me at eleven, it would definitely have been football. I support Fulham. CHAT-UP LINE OF CHOICE: “I’m in Childhood.” If they don’t know who we are, we wouldn’t get on.
DIY 82 diymag.com
Of the Month
BEACONS FESTIVAL 7TH - 10TH AUGUST 2014 - FUNKIRK ESTATE, SKIPTON
DAUGHTER / DARKSIDE / ACTION BRONSON THE FALL / DIXON / JON HOPKINS + SPECIAL GUESTS BRITISH SEA POWER PERFORMING FROM THE SEA TO THE LAND BEYOND 65DAYSOFSTATIC / ANDREW WEATHERALL & SEAN JOHNSTON CATE LE BON / CHARLI XCX / DAM-FUNK / DANIEL AVERY DAPHNI / EAGULLS / EROL ALKAN / HOOKWORMS / INDIANA JACKMASTER / JOAN AS POLICEWOMAN / JOY ORBISON NIGHTMARES ON WAX / REJJIE SNOW / SUBMOTION ORCHESTRA THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART / TOY / XXYYXX AARTEKT / ADULT JAZZ / AUTOBAHN / BEATY HEART / BIGGER THAN BARRY BODYTONIC / BROTHERHOOD SOUND / BUGGED OUT / CAPUA COLLECTIVE CHARLIE STRAW / DZ DEATHRAYS / EAST INDIA YOUTH / EAVES / FAMY FAT WHITE FAMILY / FICKLE FRIENDS / FLUX / GALAXIANS / GIN N JUICE GIRL BAND / GOLD TEETH / GOLDEN TEACHER / GOODBYE CHANEL GREG WILSON / JAMES BAY / JARBIRD / JAWS / JOANNA GRUESOME JOHN WIZARDS / KING CREOSOTE / KULT COUNTRY / MANO LE TOUGH MAX GRAEF / MELT YOURSELF DOWN / METZ / MENACE BEACH / MONEY MOKO / MOSCHINO HOE / NADINE CARINA / NAI HARVEST / NIGHT FANTASY NAKED (ON DRUGS) / OSCILLATE WILDLY / PARIS XY / PAUL THOMAS SAUNDERS PAWWS / PLANK! / POST WAR GLAMOUR GIRLS / SEPTEMBER GIRLS SERIOUS SAM BARRETT / SET ONE TWENTY / SHAPES / SIVU / SLAVES SLEAFORD MODS / SPEEDY ORTIZ / SPECIAL REQUEST (PAUL WOOLFORD) SWEET BABOO / SWAYS RECORDS / TEMPLE + MUCH MORE ARTS & CULTURE / DIDDY RASCALS KIDS AREA / STREET FOOD & REAL ALE FESTIVAL / NEW HUNTERS FIELD WITH OUTDOOR STAGE / INSTALLATION ART CURRENT TIER £99.50 / FINAL TIER £109.50 / £25 DEPOSIT TICKETS AVAILABLE: PAY REST IN JULY / £99.50 (+BF) EARLYBIRD TICKETS AVAILABLE: WWW.GREETINGSFROMBEACONS.COM
The debut album includes ‘Rather Be’, ‘Mozart’s House’ and ‘Extraordinary’ June 2nd 84 diymag.com