GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
Emma Swann Founding Editor GOOD With Marika’s new direction, plus top pop bangers from The Magic Gang and Pixx, 2017’s looking WELL up. EVIL Beck still hasn’t released that second album. Check down the back of the sofa, mate. .............................. El hunt Features Editor GOOD Bonded hard with a fellow Whitney Houston fan at a Glasgow branch of Oxfam. One moment in time to cherish. EVIL The white russians at Nice n’ Sleazy are lethal, aren’t they? ............................. sarah Jamieson Managing Editor GOOD Creeper’s debut album is blooooody amazing
– very excited that it’ll finally be out in the open this month! EVIL Carrying about a million magazines up two flights of stairs to our new office is not the one! Luckily, it’s dead nice so it’s alright really. .............................. Lisa Wright Staff Writer GOOD Superfood’s new track beginning their campaign for the most exciting reinvention of 2017. EVIL The continuing rise of Rag’n’Bone Man: soul music for people who haven’t got one. ............................. Will Richards Digital Editor GOOD My Mum went on holiday to Australia and met Kevin Parker. EVIL I didn’t go on holiday to Australia or meet Kevin Parker.
EDITOR’S LET TER It may only be two years since Circa Waves burst to the forefront of British indie with their debut but, blimey, what a lot’s happened to them since. After blazing their way to Brixton Academy just a few short months after ‘Young Chasers’’ release, they’re now back with a new, revved-up album that’ll be sure to propel them to even greater heights. And as this month’s cover stars tell us, they won’t rest ‘til they’ve done everything on their bucket list. Elsewhere, Laura Marling opens up about the ambiguous depths of ‘Semper Femina’, Formation forge real human connections, Creeper perfect their disappearing act and Dirty Projectors piece things back together. Oh and we’re jet-setting off to SXSW(!). Find out all the deets on p.24! Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor
What’s been tickling the DIY team’s eardrums this month? Robbie Williams - In And Out Of Consciousness: Greatest Hits 1990-2010
The Robster is easily one of the office’s collective faves, and a quick glance at this Quite Frankly Killer comp shows why: from ‘Old Before I Die’ to ‘Rudebox’ via ‘Kids’, ‘Supreme’ and ‘Rock DJ’ it’s enough to make you party like a bad boy from Stoke. (ES)
Tei Shi - Crawl Space Ample time has served Brooklyn pop-head Tei Shi very well; ‘Crawl Space’ jams in more bangers than a welly-packing firecracker. Confident, bold, and totally off the wall, Valerie Teicher’s debut is a perfectly brewed cuppa Tei. (EH) Future Islands - The Far Field New single ‘Ran’ was a more than welcome return from everyone’s favourite hip-shaking indie-poppers, and their new album ‘The Far Field’, ummm, runs with the idea. Fans of last album ‘Singles’ will be more than at home here, and we can only imagine the dance moves it’ll inspire. (WR) 3
C O N NEU T FEATURES E N T REVIEWS S NEWS
6 THE MAGIC GANG & YA L A ! R E C O R D S 10 MARIKA HACKMAN 1 4 TA L L S H I P S 1 8 H A L L O F FA M E 2 0 H AV E YO U H E A R D ? 2 4 F E S T I VA L S
2 8 G OAT G I R L 3 2 Y E L L O W D AY S 33 SKOT T 34 HELLO 2017
3 6 C I R C A WAV E S 44 L AURA MARLING 4 8 F O R M AT I O N 52 LOS CAMPESINOS! 56 DIRTY PROJECTORS 60 CREEPER
64 ALBUMS 76 LIVE
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor El Hunt Digital Editor Will Richards Neu Editor Jamie Milton Staff Writer Lisa Wright Staff Writer Eugenie Johnson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason DIY Live & Events Rhi Lee, Jack Clothier Contributors Alim Kheraj, Dan Jeakins, Dave Beech, Geoff Nelson, Grant Rindner, Henry Boon, Jessica Goodman, Joe Goggins, Liam Konemann, Matthew Davies, Rhian Daly, Samantha Daly, Steven Loftin. Photographers Andrew Benge, t Cat Stevens, Jonathan Dadds, Lindsay Melbourne, Matt Richardson, Mike Massaro, Robin Pope, Ryan Johnston, Phil Smithies, Sarah Doone.
For DIY editorial firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY stockist enquiries email@example.com DIY is published by Sonic Media Group. All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of DIY. 25p where sold.
Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which Sonic Media Group holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of DIY or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally. Cover photo: Emma Swann.
magic? COULD IT BE
The gang were breezing through their Googlebox debut. 6
Like fish and chips or strawberries and cream, The Magic Gang and Yala! Records are a match made in heaven. As the band prepare to release their new EP through Felix White’s new label, we met up to find out what brought them together in the first place. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photos: Emma Swann.
icture the scene: it's just after lunchtime and The Magic Gang's Paeris Giles refuses to let us inside their infamous Brighton HQ. Why, no one's quite sure. But after a few minutes of awkward hovering – and the chill of February's wind starting to set in – the call of a pub nearby becomes too much. Away from their digs – where the band all currently reside and rehearse, mostly in Paeris' bedroom – the quartet settle down opposite the man who is, technically, their new label boss, The Maccabees' Felix White. The first order on the agenda? “Paeris opened the door to us when we turned up,” he begins, “and we were quite helpfully not allowed in the house. I’m just wondering why...” “Paeris is more embarrassed of the house than he should be,” assures bandmate Jack Kaye. “I think he’s got pride, he’s like the housekeeper.” “It’s just the condition of my floor mainly!” chips in the drummer. “Whenever we have any practice or just human presence in here, I have to sweep it for about twenty minutes after...” While cleanliness may not be their strong point, writing absolute bangers most certainly is. That's evidenced in latest track – and YALA! Records’ debut release – 'How Can I Compete', a fresh slice of infectious guitar-pop. Turns out, the song was a bit of an all-round family affair too; not only is Felix behind its release, but his brother (and y'know, fellow Maccabee) Hugo White was manning the production desk. “Felix just seems to really have his finger on the pulse with new bands,” Jack opens up, on the beginnings of their relationship with YALA!. “He genuinely seems to be able to scope out exactly what's going on. A while ago, he’d seen us play and given us a shout on the radio, and we were really excited about that. It just went from there, when he got in touch about the fact he was starting a label. For us, to even have that kind of praise, it was a huge, huge compliment.” Unsurprisingly, it was a bit surreal. “Especially because I was a huge fan when I was younger!”
“Felix just seems to really have his finger on the pulse with new bands.” Jack Kaye
NeWS enthuses guitarist Kris Smith. “When we were recording with Hugo, there was this really weird moment,” Paeris continues. “We were just watching stupid YouTube videos of Olly Murs falling over, all in hysterics, with Hugo from The Maccabees and we're all like, 'What the fuck is going on?!'” There are, however, two sides to every story. “Even when The Maccabees were still touring, The Magic Gang were one of my favourite new bands,” Felix reveals. “I saw them at Wolf Alice's Shepherd’s Bush show, and I remember thinking about them, and how there was something instinctive about liking a band before they've even got through their first song. Immediately, I thought they had something that was gonna go beyond what it is already. You can tell that all of the individual members make it the whole that it is and there's a real commitment to the cause. “When Mo [YALA! co-founder and Felix's certified BFF, Morad Khokar] came to me with YALA!, they were the first band we talked about because they seemed to represent one of those great bands that we had seen worth championing.” “When they played the first [YALA! club] night,” confirms Morad, “they set the bar for things going forward and it was just great.” Their new single isn't the extent of their work with the White family though; 'How Can I Compete' is the first piece to be revealed from a new EP. “It's a little bit different to the EP we did before,” says Kris. “It feels to us like it's a more pensive version
A LITTLE ADVICE When it comes to ‘band stuff’, Felix has been there and done it many times over. So where better to get advice than from the man himself? The Magic Gang came armed with a few questions... Jack: What’s been the weirdest touring habit you’ve ever encountered? We hear a lot of soundcheck things that get on our nerves... Felix: For years, Hugo refused, when he was sound checking his mic, to say anything but ‘One’. So, it’d be ‘One, one, one, one,’ again and again. That, hearing that for fifteen years for forty minutes a day... J: Paeris’ routine is that, when they make him soundcheck his mic, he starts for a second and then goes, ‘I don’t really use it that much’. Every time. Kris: As a fellow left-handed guitarist, what’s your advice for any other left-handed guitarists out there? F: If you see a left-handed guitar, you’ve just got to buy it! Gus: What is your all time favourite Maccabees song? F: Oh, probably ‘No Kind Words’. G: And what’s your least favourite..? F: Oh, this is good! This will lead onto a thought for you, because it’ll definitely be an early one. I remember talking to you guys about how you now dislike playing ‘No Fun’ live, and I felt a real sense of affinity with that. When we wrote the first few songs from our record, we were like, six months later, ‘how dare you like them?’ As it went on, I learned to appreciate those songs in a different way, even though we were desperate to escape them for a while. I can sense that you’re wrestling with that a bit now. Paeris: We’ll throw in a few things now and then to make it a bit more entertaining for ourselves.
of ourselves, but is still very direct. We've touched on a sound which has more ambition to it. It's a lot more anthemic-sounding.” “There's more going on in the arrangements,” Jack adds. “It sounds more like a band.” “Each time we go into the recording process,” chips in Paeris, “you know how you want to work and you kinda just get better at doing it. When you're in there, you become a bit more fearless with doing different things.” “You're more free to explore because you have confidence,” confirms Jack. “You know what you can and can't try out.” And while both band and label are still in fledgling stages, together they're growing stronger with every new move. That collective spirit's something Felix wants to continue pushing, too. “The philosophy of the label comes from the time when The Maccabees were beginning, and there were a lot of small labels and club nights where people would meet and work together, and that would become a creative stepping stone. Once the band landed after ten years of touring, it was a bit of a shock that they didn't really exist anymore. With YALA!, we felt like we could try to create a bit of community and plug that hole. As a result, the club nights have been amazing and I feel like everything we felt needed serving is actually proving worthwhile.” The Magic Gang's new single 'How Can I Compete' is out now via YALA! Records. DIY The Magic Gang are appearing at Live at Leeds and The Great Escape this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
Photo: Carolina Faruolo. 8 diymag.com
SOURCE #005 MAR 08 LOCK TAVERN CAMDEN
MAR 06 & 07 THE WAITING ROOM LONDON
NG RK BL IN UD
CHARLOTTE DAY WILSON
SÃ„LEN MAR 14 ELECTROWERKZ LONDON
MAR 30 CORSICA STUDIOS LONDON
APRIL 03 NOTTING HILL ARTS CLUB LONDON
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APRIL 11 GULLIVERS MANCHESTER
APR 17 HARE & HOUNDS BIRMINGHAM
APR 18 ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL LONDON
GANG OF YOUTHS
MAY 03 BUSSEY BUILDING PECKHAM LONDON
MAY 09 THE CAMDEN ASSEMBLY LONDON
MAY 22 VILLAGE UNDERGROUND LONDON
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH
SEP 19 VILLAGE UNDERGROUND LONDON
THE BEST IN NEW LIVE MUSIC
@LNSOURCE LIVENATION.CO.UK/SOURCE 9
NeWS “Is that a pair of maracas on the horizon?...”
Service Station of the Month What’s Going On With…
MARIKA HACKMAN? Back with ‘Boyfriend’ - a stormer of a new single which gives the middle finger to “seedy wankers” - Marika’s amped up, and recruited The Big Moon as her very own backing band/dolphin impersonators. Words: El Hunt. Your new single ‘Boyfriend’ features a familiar rabble – The Big Moon. That must’ve been a fun one? Yes! It was a really new way of working for me, because I’m used to getting in the studio just me and [producer] Charlie [Andrew]. We had fairly limited time because they’re busy ladies, and Charlie’s a busy guy. I had endless free time. I was quite scared before I started, because they’re my friends, and I didn’t want to let them down, and it be shit. It quickly turned into my most enjoyable recording experience, though. Just me, and a bunch of my buddies. Endless cuddles. There are several pre-existing songs called ‘Boyfriend’ already – Justin Bieber’s sensational effort for example, and the Tegan and Sara pop banger – did you feel any pressure to live up to the weighty expectations behind such a prestigious song title? I felt like it kind of suited the song, because it plays with the same idea; you see the title ‘Boyfriend’ on a song written by a woman, and your immediate thought is gonna be, ‘oh, she’s writing a song about her boyfriend’. It changes expectations straight away. I didn’t feel that pressure then, but maybe I do, now you’ve pointed this out? No, I think I feel honoured to be among such fine company. Does ‘Boyfriend’ feature a dolphin on vocals, or is that you and The Big Moon screaming? That’s Jules, screaming, four times, and you can hear her saying ‘I can’t do it any higher’. We did some pitch stuff, and it gets so high it doesn’t sound physically, humanly possible. So I can understand the dolphin confusion, but it is Jules. New singles, new musical directions, and a brand new label, AMF. This all whiffs very much of ‘Marika Hackman’s got a new album out soon’ doesn’t it...? Yes! It is a taster of what is to come, very much so. Things will be announced in the imminent future, and ‘Boyfriend’ is the first step towards that. It’s opening the door for this very different sound. The whole record has a very similar vibe. There’s stuff on there that’s a bit more old-school Marika, but generally it’s this grungey, heavy beast. I really can’t wait to start playing shows and hit everyone round the head with it. Marika Hackman is appearing at SXSW and The Great Escape this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
THE BIG MOON:
Tebay Services, M6 Bands love service stations more than music itself. Snacks, bogs, time to think - it’s all there. These are miraculous places where festival headliners mingle with lorry drivers. It’s due time we paid respect to the very best. Jules, Celia and Soph (in unison): Not Tebay! Fern: Fuck off! Yes Tebay! It’s about the ambience. Jules: There are ducks there, and a nice view. It does have a good ambience. The soup – and in fact all the food - is very expensive, so you can only afford the soup. The soup is very salty. Celia: You can’t even eat the soup, and you feel like a twat leaving it behind. Jules: They do have nice cuddly toys there. I did get one for ten pounds. I bought it instead of food, and I’ve still got it. I love Pho. Celia: We tried to put him on our album cover in mid air, but he blurred. Friend… or Pho?
S P OT T E D
Believe it or not, indie celebs sometimes do normal things, too. They get lost, go food shopping, catch buses – all sorts. This month, we clocked a fair few of them roaming around the capital…
GIRLI crammed onto a packed Jubilee tube bound for London’s Women’s March. Later on that day, we spotted her again; this time at a breakup ballads club night. GIRLI, are you following us on purpose? Ryan Superfood deep in thought on the Overground. He was probably contemplating his band’s amped up comeback. Well, either that or what to make for dinner. As protesters gathered at Downing Street to protest against Donald
Trump’s immigration order, both swim Deep and Bastille were out in force, chanting “you can’t build a wall, your hands are too small!” with the assembled masses.
Joel Wolf Alice eating a full main course meal with a knife and fork, while watching a band at Birthdays. No, we’re not really sure why either.
These days, even yr gran is posting selfies on Instagram. Everyone has it now, including all our fave bands. Here’s a brief catch-up on music’s finest photo-taking action as of late.
Shura browsing in fancy-pants department store Liberty. Maybe she was looking for a new pair of Shus? Ahem.
Position of the Month: Seasons (Loose Change) Executed By: Samuel T. Herring, Future Islands To pull this move off, simply squat and peer around as if you’re searching for a dropped penny. Then, mime carefully picking up your lost loose change, and examine it closely, throwing in a few optional chest-thumps if you’re feeling confident. Hold this pose. To take things to the next level, channel as much emotion as possible into your facial expressions. The EastEnders Christmas Special is a good one to keep in mind as a goalpost when it comes to appropriate levels of melodrama.
WHAT A LEDGE
Sky Ferreira’s album is obviously going well. (@skyferreira)
Is... is... that Zac Farro?! Back in Paramore, and dressed like an extra from Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic? Yes it bloody well is. (@yelyahwilliams)
Let’s not beat around the bush: every month, at least one of our favourite pop stars does something brilliant. So, to celebrate, we’ve decided to dedicate a few column inches to the Best Person In Music™ this particular month.
ST. VINCENT AKA ANNIE CLARK, THE NEW AMBASSADOR OF RECORSTORDAY;. I don’t wanna be your cheerleader no more (unless it’s for Record Store Day.)
(Or, you know, this year’s Record Store Day Ambassador.) Just look at those shades!
It appears that The Killers have a resident studio dog. FYI, his favourite song is ‘Bones’. (@thekillers)
P R E S E N T S
Live at Tuesday 13 June 2017
LONDON ROUNDHOUSE Tuesday 27 June 2017
CAMBRIDGE THE JUNCTION Wednesday 28 June 2017
MANCHESTER O2 RITZ
SUNDAY 21 MAY 2017
MANCHESTER GORILLA MONDAY 22 MAY 2017
BRISTOL THEKLA TUESDAY 23 MAY 2017
The new album In Mind out 17 March 2017
A CROSSTOWN CONCERTS & DHP PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH CODA AGENCY
A CROSSTOWN CONCERTS, DHP & CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION PRESENTATION
AN EVENING WITH
SATURDAY 16 & SUNDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 2017
MANCHESTER O2 APOLLO T T WEDNESDAY SOLD OU 20 - THURSDAY SOLD OU 21
T SOLD OU
- E XT RA DAT E A D D E D -
FRIDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2017
LONDON EVENTIM APOLLO
EXTRA DATE ADDED
MONDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2017
GLASGOW CLYDE AUDITORIUM S I G U R- R O S . C O. U K A C RO S S TOW N CO N C E RT S, S J M CO N C E RT S & D F CO N C E RT S P R E S E N TAT I O N B Y A R RA N G E M E N T W I T H CA A
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did loads of pub work, then worked for a while as a builder, and then I got into landscape gardening,” Ric Phethean begins. “In between those, I dug graves for a little bit,” he adds without pause for thought. “You’d dig the initial grave with a digger, then I’d get into the 6ft hole and smarten it up with a spade.” It’s been five years since Tall Ships released debut album ‘Everything Touching’, and it’s fair to say quite a lot has changed in that time for the Brighton-via-London four-piece. “We’ve all started doing other things,” the frontman explains, with various complications with work on album two leading the band to take some time away from ‘being Tall Ships’. “We’re not just working in pubs anymore. We’re actually pursuing careers, and getting on with our lives, and we’ve got this band that is a wonderful outlet, and it’s taken the pressure away so we could just enjoy it. It meant that the songs that we wrote after the initial ideas fell away weren’t as forced, and better as a result.”
Starting as a staple of the UK math-rock community helmed by former label Big Scary Monsters, Ric probably didn’t imagine himself ending up arranging flowers on a Vogue photoshoot in Paris, the latest in his series of professions. Nor would he, and many others, have expected Tall Ships to return with a grand, free-flowing rock record. It’s been a long and strange five years since Tall Ships’ debut ‘Everything
TALL SHIPS Touching’, but with ‘Impressions’, they’ve completed their transformation into a widescreen, fully-formed indie rock band. Words: Will Richards.
“I dug graves for . a little bit…” . - Ric Phethean
It’s a transformation that started when the band supported The National at a show in Cork, Ireland, back in 2013. “I’d just started to get into them, and that show changed a lot. My new-found obsession with them did feed into the way that I was thinking about singing and writing,” and it’s an influence that can be felt throughout ‘Impressions’. Album opener ‘Road Not Taken’ and latest single ‘Petrichor’ both kick into earth-shattering outros that feel more than a little bit indebted to the Dessners. It was only after a series of binned sessions and false starts, though, that the songs that make up ‘Impressions’ started to flow without hitch. It shows in the finished product - it’s an album that feels like an exhale, a release of tension from a band in a calmer and less pressurised situation. It might have come via digging a few graves (his bandmates are now illustrators, instrument makers and care home managers), but the freedom this space has afforded Tall Ships has meant they’ve ended up with a glorious second album, free of inhibition. Tall Ships’ new album ‘Impressions’ is out on 31st March via FatCat Records. DIY
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RAG’N’BONE MAN C O R E
P R O G R A M M E
A B AT T O I R B L U E S A L M A ANNA STRAKER BE CHARLOTTE B R IA N D E A DY CA B BAG E C A R Y S S E LV E Y C A S I C H E R R Y G L A Z E R R C R O OX D R O N E S C L U B E AT FA S T F I L B O R I VA G OAT G I R L GOLD CLASS GOTHIC TROPIC H A N N A H G E O R G A S G U R R HUSKY LOOPS IDER INDIGO HUSK JACQUES JAMES HERSEY JAMESZOO KL ANGSTOF L . A . SAL AMI L O W E L L M A R T H A G U N N M AT T M A E S O N MIDDLE KIDS MILES FROM KINSHASA M O S E S N I L Ü F E R YA N YA P L A I T U M P O T É R AY B L K S A I N T P H N X S A R AT H Y K O R WA R S H A M E S H E L L S S H ITKI D S IG R I D S KOT T S LØ TFACE S O P H I E H U N G E R S T U R L A AT L A S THE AGE OF L .U. N . A THE MOON LANDINGZ TIGERTOWN YONAK A E AC H T I C K E T I S E XC H A N G E D F O R A F E ST I VA L W R I ST B A N D A L L O W I N G AC C E S S T O C O R E P R O G R A M M E V E N U E S S U B J E C T T O C A P A C I T Y.
T O A C C E S S T H E S P O T L I G H T S H O W S P U R C H A S E S E PA R AT E T I C K E T S O R H E A D T O O U R W E B S I T E F O R I N F O O N F R E E S P O T L I G H T S H O W T I C K E T S W I T H A F E ST I VA L W R I ST B A N D
NeWS “Hello MTV, and welcome to my Cribs!”
MEN’S NEEDS, WOMEN’S NEEDS, EVERYBODY’S NEEDS!
It all kicks off in Glasgow on 11th May before they head to Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol and London. They’ll then play a huge show at - where else - Leeds’ First Direct Arena on 20th May. In a statement, the band said: “Once upon a time, the idea of embarking on a tour focusing on a specific period of the past would’ve been met with a resounding “Hell no!”. Even after 15 years of the ups and downs involved with being in a punk rock band, we still like to think, as most artists do, that we are moving forward and hopefully retain the same
hey looked back to 2005 for a one-off show at London’s Oval Space last year, and now The Cribs are hitting the road to transport the world back to 2007, celebrating the 10th anniversary of ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ by heading off on a tour of the country with the on-point title ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Forever’ (see what they did there?!).
DIY’S PICK OF
MAY 11 Glasgow O2 ABC 12 Manchester O2 Academy 13 Birmingham O2 Institute 15 Newcastle O2 Academy 16 Bristol O2 Academy 18 London O2 Forum Kentish Town 20 Leeds First Direct Arena enthusiasm and motivations …that we had when starting out as kids in our teens and early 20s.” Of course they’ve changed their minds through, because, after being offered the opportunity they reckoned it “just seemed like too much *fun*”. They continued: “In short, this isn’t The Cribs indulging ourselves and reliving the past - it’s more just a big THANK YOU to all of you that have been with us throughout the years, and a ‘welcome aboard’ to those who missed it the first time around.” Awww. DIY
KEEP EVERY OPEN EYE PEELED Hold up – less than couple of years after the release of their second album ‘Every Open Eye, CHVRCHES have revealed they’re back in the studio. Last month, the band posted a tweet with a photo of a pretty miffed-looking Lauren Mayberry. She had reason to be though, as they captioned it with: “When you were trying to document the first day of writing for album three but your camera jammed + you only fixed it once you got home.” Technology: typical. At least album number three will be with us sooner than we could’ve hoped.
In desperate need of a live music fix but can’t decide where or who? If you feel too spoilt for choice, here’s just a few of LNSource’s upcoming shows worth getting off the sofa for.
14th March, Electrowerkz, London If any new band are intent on making unique yet brilliant synth-pop, it’s Sälen. Luckily for all those in the capital, they’ll be offering up a taste of their warts ‘n all bangers at a special London headline show later this month.
Pumarosa 17th & 18th April, Birmingham
& Glasgow respectively Over the past twelve months, Class of 2017 alumni Pumarosa have been making quite a name for themselves. Now, as they’ve revealed details of that all-important debut album, see them at the Hare and Hounds and Poetry Club next month.
Theme Park 9th May, Oslo, London It may feel like a while since we last heard from this London trio, but Theme Park are back and on top form once again. They’ll be heading to Hackney’s Oslo for a headline show this May in anticipation of LP2. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource
DIY HALL FAME of
PARAMORE - RIOT!
From Warped Tour darlings to worldwide superstars, we travel back a decade to revisit Paramore’s seminal second album. Words: Sarah Jamieson.
little less than a decade ago, Paramore probably couldn’t have felt further from the arena-championing, festivalheadlining outfit that they’d go on to become. Back in 2005, with debut ‘All We Know Is Falling’, they had solidified themselves as the brightest new hopes to come from label du jour Fueled By Ramen, and spent their summers causing ripples through the Warped Tour circuit. That, however, was all about to change... Look up the meaning of the word ‘riot’ and two definitions will appear. While the title of the band’s second album may not quite fit in with a ‘violent disturbance of the peace’, it did indeed offer up an ‘impressively varied display of something’; energy and life, a vivid sweep of red, yellow and orange (most of which featured
“Don’t take my haaaair dyeeeeee!”
in Hayley Williams’ hair at the time) that would go on to propel the band into the consciousness of rock fans worldwide.
the Facts Release: 12th June 2007 Stand-out tracks: ‘That’s What You Get’, ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Miracle’ Tell your mates: If the lyrics from ‘Riot!’’s closing track ‘Born For This’ seem familiar, it’s probably because they are. The line ‘We want the airwaves back’ comes from Refused’s ‘Liberation Frequency’ - how very punk rock.
With the 2007 record, the band – then a fourpiece, after the departure of guitarist Hunter Lamb – gained a confidence which became the foundation for their ever-ambitious brand of pop rock. Defining the art of the hook with the infectious ‘That’s What You Get’, perfecting the hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck crescendo of ‘We Are Broken’, and showing off the multi-faceted gorgeousness of ‘Let The Flames Begin’ was all just part and parcel of the album. And that’s not even going into the rock club classic that is the record’s biggest hit ‘Misery Business’. As a second album, it was the brilliant blueprint upon which the group would build their future - and what an incendiary future they’d be celebrating ten years later.
Ryan Superfood’s breakdancing technique could do with a little more work.
Superfood – Double Dutch
If, like us, you were fans of Superfood in all their scrappy, flower-loving original glory, you’ll understand that the following sentiments are in no way a sleight on the B-Towners’ former work. But that said, BLOODY HELL Superfood have upped the bar, and then some. In a very strong early contender for Total 180 Degree Turn Of The Year (a new award that we launched just now), ‘Double Dutch’ finds the group not so much improving, as returning as an entirely different proposition. Centred around samples of American kids extolling the virtues of jump-rope, the first offering from Superfood mk II is a silky smooth thing, oozing dreamy, sun-bleached languor and filled with the kind of woozy synth beats that you’d sooner compare to Jai Paul than to Peace. (Lisa Wright)
Marika Hackman – Boyfriend What is it about songs called ‘Boyfriend’ being fucking fantastic? And, by gum, Marika Hackman adds another first rate contribution to history’s ‘Boyfriend’ oeuvre with her much-welcome return - even Nancy Drew couldn’t have predicted one this confident, this bold. In ‘Boyfriend’, Marika takes on important subjectmatter with killer chops, and helter-skelter fun levels. In the process she fully unearths the quick-smart lyricist that was evident amid the complex haze of her debut, and shoves it to the fore. (El Hunt)
Sälen – Heartbreak Diet Sälen have, by now, established themselves as the go-to rabble when it comes to penning
hairbrush-mic level break-up bangers. According to the London bint-dissers ‘Heartbreak Diet’ is inspired by the Instagram account @textsfromurex, a quite startling online archive of sharp putdowns directed at former flames who won’t stop texting. In future, try sending irritating exes that won’t shove off a link to this. They’ll get the message. (El Hunt)
The Magic Gang – How Can I Compete Like a concept ripped straight from our indie wet dreams, Brighton babes The Magic Gang have enlisted The Maccabees’ Hugo White on production duties for this - the first release for Maccabro Felix’s new label YALA! Records. A true passing on of the baton. ‘How Can I Compete’ is pretty much bloody perfect. Taking the jaunty bounce of early single ‘Jasmine’,
it kicks off with the kind of peppy bassline that could easily be an earworm chorus in itself, before getting to the actual chorus which is obviously a monster. (Lisa Wright)
Mac DeMarco This Old Dog
Announcing forthcoming third studio LP ‘This Old Dog’ with the track of the same name, everyone’s favourite romantic goofball Mac DeMarco didn’t so much break the internet as give it a big hug and some lovelorn googly eyes. “Long as my heart’s beating in my chest/ This old dog ain’t about to forget” he croons over simple, swooning acoustic guitars in an ode to standing by your (wo)man through it all. And really, in these times of trial, we could all do with a bit more of lovely Mac singing lovely things and being lovely. (Lisa Wright)
TICKETS AVAILABLE AT MYTICKET.CO.UK 20
LIFE IS BUT A DREAM (WIFE) Hello 2017 goes on the road
osting a heap of great new bands at the Old Blue Last through the month wasn’t gonna cut it this January - it was time to take Hello 2017 on tour. After (quite frankly) smashing it in the capital as part of this year’s stint, Dream Wife met up with a bunch of ace acts from each of five further cities - literally taking this show on the road. Photos: Andrew Benge.
DRAHLA (Leeds) “It was our first time playing at Headrow House and we really enjoyed the venue and the crowd. Dream Wife and Dead Naked Hippies were really cool people too.” - Mikey
PLAZA (Newcastle) Vibe: saucy Sound: sound Crowd: beastly 9/10 would sesh again
KYŌGEN (Manchester) “It was a pleasure playing with these cool lasses in our hometown of Manchester, and for a relatively new outfit like KYŌGEN, it was nice to play to such a full room with a buzzing atmosphere.” - Kyoko Swan
FESTIVALS S pr i n g has s prun g ( an d s o has t h e l i n e up f o r a LOT o f t h e ye ar ’ s b i g g es t an d b es t ) .
13th - 19th march
Everything’s bigger in Texas, so the saying goes. With the help of some of our faves, we’ll be finding out at this month’s SXSW festival. Every March the US city of Austin, Texas plays host to the world’s biggest new music festival, when SXSW takes over every live venue in sight for a week of gig, after gig, after gig, after… Think The Great Escape, but bigger, and with (probably) better weather and (definitely) more tacos. There’s a ma-hoo-sive British contingent heading over this year, with favourites including The Big Moon, Blaenavon, Sundara Karma, The Japanese House, and Dream Wife, plus a ton of North American favourites too - Weaves, Sad13, PWR BTTM and Partybaby are all due to play across the week Want more? We’re hosting not one - but two stages.
DIY + Ticketweb present: MONDAY 13th MARCH British Music Embassy at Latitude 30
MUNCIE GIRLS –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– BLAENAVON ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– JAMIE ISAAC ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– DOE –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– SUPERGLU –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– FORTH WANDERERS –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Muncie Girls Blaenavon Jamie Isaac Doe SuperGlu Forth Wanderers
01:00am 12:00pm 11:00pm 10:00pm 09:00pm 08:00pm
DIY + TICKETWEB PRESENTS 8.30pm - 2am // OFFICIAL SXSW SHOWCASE
MONDAY 13TH DIY Presents: FRIDAY 17th MARCH Maggie Mae’s
Partybaby Dream Wife QTY Weaves Sløtface Splashh
PARTYBABY You played last year: how do you think this year will differ? We’re a much better band, we’ve got better songs, and we’ve been eating well and experimenting with our brains so we’re looking quite thin too. Did you ‘discover’ any artists while you were there last time? We stayed out of town in a house with our friends in Harriet and partied there whenever we didn’t have a show to be playing. We made up an artist we were calling ‘The Horny Red Man’. Songs and all that. I can’t quite remember but I think it had something to do with our Dumb President.
As this preview’s resident Americans, how do we choose a beer without ending up with piss-weak flavourless liquid? Tequila. Also, we’ve discovered there’s an In ’n’ Out in Austin - why do Californians bang on about it so much? They taste really good. It’s a hamburger, which isn’t exactly saving the world, you know? Arguably we’re destroying the world by supporting the meat industry, but people are also throwing themselves off buildings trying to build our iPhones. I watched a successful female actor pick one up off the ground and eat it at a GRAMMY party last night. What was the question again?
SUNDARA KARMA How do you think your recent Two Door Cinema Club support slots will compare to sweaty bars in Austin? It’ll be a different kind of terror. We’re gonna love it to be honest. We’ve wanted to play SXSW for ages but haven’t been able to afford it so we’re just excited by the opportunity to be out there, among the finest. What are you most looking forward
to experiencing in Texas? Heated bar crawls. Our tour manager has booked us into a nuts Airbnb overlooking a lake so I doubt we’ll ever return. We’ve heard the Austin barbecues are legendary. What’s your item of choice? We’re all vegetarians so a roasted pepper or something. Anything posh and feta-stuffed will do.
dream wife What are you looking forward to most while in Austin? We’re going to get kitted out with cowboy boots and hats, the plan to go vintage shopping when we are over there is already set in stone, we wanna get some serious looks together. Soak it all in. Also really hoping to see some desert! Lots of well-known people have been spotted at SXSW before. Who’d be your dream gig attendee? Leonardo DiCaprio, we all love him SO much, total heartthrob dream gig attendee. Alice has always had a crush on Kristen Stewart, her
performance of Joan Jett in The Runaways is so on point, so she might enjoy the Dream Wife vibes. Who knows, maybe Will Smith can come too, make it a party. Will could rap with us for a rendition of ‘F.U.U.’ like no other. What can the SXSW crowds expect from a Dream Wife show? A wild ride, full of fresh material and a lotta fun! We’ve loaded Dream Wife’s suitcase with an Instax camera and film to update us throughout the week. Keep an eye out for the results.
THE NEW BESTIVAL LOCATION? WE’D DEFINITELY IN DORSET Bestival has announced its initial line up for the festival’s first year in its new home in Dorset. This year’s edition is set to take place from 7th – 10th September at the Lulworth Estate and its theme is COLOUR! The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Jamie T and Pet Shop Boys are all set to headline the event, which has previously taken place on the Isle Of Wight since its inception. The likes of Lucy Rose, Justice, Danny Brown, Circa Waves and more are also signed up for the festival, which will draw the summer’s schedule to a bright close.
FROM THE MAN HIMSELF... With so much changing in Bestival’s camp this year, we caught up with big boss Rob Da Bank to find out how he’s feeling about it all. Hello! How are you looking forward to this year’s Bestival? What’s it like to be preparing for the big move? I’m really mega excited about our new adventure with the mothership Bestival! It’s sad to leave the island but the feedback of a new site and being easier to get to has really been incredible. We already do Camp Bestival there so we know the land well. There are some amazing ancient woodlands, great sea views and a whopping great castle in the middle. We’re pretty spoilt. As ever, the line-up is looking ace so far. What went into curating this year’s bill? Who are you most excited about seeing? Personally speaking, I’m really happy with the line-up. I’m pretty hard on myself but I do feel this is a vintage Bestival line-up, ticking a lot of boxes from classical and folk to techno and death metal which 26
is what I want it to be! Getting The xx for a rare festival show is superb and having A Tribe Called Quest’s last ever UK show is pretty special. I’ve been on at Jamie T for years and Justice coming back will be great. Having said that it will be seeing the smaller acts break through that is the most exciting. What’s been the most satisfying part of heading into this new era of Bestival? Sometimes a shake up is good and I feel we didn’t have our finest year last year so we’ve all had a good long look at what we do and how we can improve. I feel we’re back at the top of our game going into 2017 and can stand up to any competition out there. We’ve also dug into our history and brought back some of our key stages like The Port and the Hidden Disco so it’s a proper retrospective ...but in a futuristic style!
NEWS in Brief Two Door Cinema Club, Circa Waves and Rat Boy are all playing this year’s Reading & Leeds (25th - 27th August), with Kasabian added as headliners alongside Muse.
BRIGHT-ON TIME The Magic Gang, Dream Wife and The Japanese House are among the latest additions to The Great Escape.
s The Great Escape (18th - 20th May) draws nearer, the Brighton bash has added a whole HUNDRED extra names to the bill, with faves like The Magic Gang, Dream Wife, The Japanese House, King Nun, Marika Hackman, and Our Girl among them. If that wasn’t all - and why should it be! - we’re teaming up with the festival to present the Slaves Pier Party. One of the biggest events TGE has seen EVER will see the Kent duo - and us - take over the whole of the Palace Pier and fairground.
Radiohead, Biffy Clyro and The 1975 have all been confirmed for new Glasgow festival, TRNSMT. The event - which also hosts Kasabian, George Ezra, Two Door Cinema Club and Circa Waves - takes place at the city’s Glasgow Green between 7th and 9th July. The Vaccines, Franz Ferdinand, Slaves, Sundara Karma, The Magic Gang, VANT, Yak, JAWS, Superfood, Inheaven, Sløtface and Goat Girl are all playing this year’s Truck Festival (21st - 23rd July), which celebrates its 20th edition in 2017.
WHY YOU FLYIN’?
Flying Vinyl Festival returns with The Wytches, Spring King, TRAAMS and more in tow.
fter last year’s shindig featured brilliantly chaotic sets from the likes of Black Honey, The Magic Gang and Swim Deep, Flying Vinyl Festival is obviously making a return in 2017. Moving to Oval Space on 8th April, this year’s event - which we’re teaming up with the super people at Flying Vinyl for - will host The Wytches, Spring King, Hidden Charms, TRAAMS, Dream Wife, Anteros, Trudy & The Romance, Willie J Healey, Palm Honey and Yassassin.
Frank Ocean and The 1975 are to headline Parklife (10th - 11th June) in Manchester, with other confirmed acts including Two Door Cinema Club, Boy Better Know, George Ezra, Loyle Carner, Rat Boy, and Mura Masa. PJ Harvey, Ryan Adams and Future Islands are headlining Green Man (17th - 20th August), with Sunflower Bean, Conor Oberst, The Big Moon, Julia Jacklin, Angel Olsen and Girl Ray also appearing.
THERE WILL BE (HONEY)BLOOD The duo are among those headed to April’s Live at Leeds, with IDLES, Eat Fast and others.
oneyblood, Dream Wife, Eat Fast, IDLES, Temples and Pale Waves are all headed to Live at Leeds in April, with Trudy & The Romance, Fish, LIFE, Yellow Days and King Nun also included in the latest list of acts joining the all-dayer’s bill. They join a long list of previouslyannounced acts including Black Honey, The Magic Gang, Superfood, JAWS, Slaves, and Wild Beasts. 27
new music new bands
“We’re kind of shit.” -
One of the most exciting new bands in years? Or just “kind of shit”? The South Londoners set the record straight. Words: Jessica Goodman. Photo: Emma Swann.
Sat by a bar the morning after their performance at Eurosonic Noorderslag festival, hundreds of miles away from home, success seems to be the last thing on London quartet Goat Girl’s minds, despite the heroics of last year’s ‘Country Sleaze’/’Scum’ single on Rough Trade. “I don’t really understand why people like us to be honest,” frontwoman Lottie ‘Clottie Cream’ shrugs. “We’re kind of shit.”
Unassuming they may be, but “shit” is one thing they’re not. What began as a folk group boasting “three part harmonies and guitars” has gone on to become one of the most talkedabout new bands – an impressive feat for a group with only two songs released under their collective name. It’s been a natural evolution, one that’s landed the outfit in the middle of a whirlwind of South London-stamped hype – not that they’re paying their acclaim any attention. “It’s good not to look into it too much,” Ellie - who also goes by ‘L.E.D.’, because why not - ponders. “It’s just a natural thing. We didn’t decide to form a band, we just all like making music with each other.” Being touted for great things right from the word go isn’t that uncommon. While Goat Girl sound sure to be on the path to something spectacular, the group make no illusions about where they find themselves right now. “I think that record labels want to snatch up ‘the next big thing,’” Lottie considers. “They’re trying to find this new scene that’s happening with the younger generation.” Having been spearheaded as leaders of such a scene themselves, the band are quick to cut through the hyperbole
when it comes to the sphere they exist in. “It’s just a group of people that know each other,” Naima (aka Naima Jelly) states, “and we just happen to play music. A similar thing will happen next year with other people.” With their feet planted firmly on the ground, Goat Girl’s path is one of their own making, their forthright nature a part of their charm. Having thought, for the most part, that buying records was “saved thanks to the people who have enough money and knew a band inside-out,” the four-piece are equal parts surprised and thrilled with the response that their now sold out debut 7” has received. “I didn’t think that anyone actually bought records to that extent with new bands,” Naima expresses. “It was really nice that so many people bought it straight away, even without really having heard us too much.” From the 7”, ‘Scum’ is an explosion of anger spurred on by “the political tension between left and right” and seeing people “brainwashed by those with power.” ‘Country Sleaze’, meanwhile, is described with a grin as a song that’s saying something “only to us.” Having toured with the likes of The Lemon Twigs, Parquet Courts, and Yak, to name a few, the band are certainly having their share of fun. “Lemon Twigs were AMAZING!” the group exclaim. “We had a gymnastics contest,” Lottie laughs when the topic of Michael D’Addario’s high-kicks is raised. “I lost. I tried to do them and I split my trousers – that’s how uncool I am.” Pledging to “try have a month off gigs and crack on with writing – and then sort our shit out,” the next year is looking bright for Goat Girl. “Touring for ten days around the UK and staying in Travelodges and eating shit all the time does get you down after a while,” Ellie describes. “It gets me down.” “I feel like we’re quite negative,” Naima reflects, chuckling. “Everyone’s like ‘It’s amazing that this has happened to you!’ And we’re like ‘No it’s not! It’s shit! I hate touring!’” As the conversation descends into exaggerated exclamations of optimism, pessimism, and laughter, it’s apparent that Goat Girl don’t fit the usual mould for a band tipped for success – and that’s exactly what makes them such a thrilling prospect. DIY
XOXO Gossip Goat (you know you love me).
Goat Girl are appearing at The Great Escape this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
A no-prisoners star-in-waiting.
Sugar-filled, deadly Danish pop.
Impassioned, experimental pop.
Birmingham-born newcomer Harlea doesn’t have time for bullshit. On her latest single, a simple chorus of “You don’t get it / That’s why you don’t get it” is enough to steer fools and chancers out of the picture. After moving to London aged 16 to pursue modelling, she found her feet as a seriously exciting pop prospect, taking on old blues and rock tropes with every bold step. The 24-year-old has a bright future – there’s no use standing in her way. Listen: One play of ‘You Don’t Get It’ will win you over. Similar to: If Jack White produced chart smashes.
Hyperactive, brazen pop doesn’t always work. It’ll either be one step away from a Diplo-approved triumph or, on the flipside, a headache-inducing excuse for a lie down. Danish trio Off Bloom seem to have it all sussed out, though. The Copenhagen group’s early singles have been less first steps, more the early shakes of a stampede. Listen: ‘Love to Hate It’ is irresistibly fun. Similar to: MØ and Liss having a pop baby.
Tel Aviv’s Noga Erez is next in a line of stars spinning gold out of politics. There’s a reason her dagger-sharp electronic pop sounds so full of purpose: she’s writing about corrupt governments, sexual assault cases, injustices the world over. And it’s no wonder she’s being compared to M.I.A. – both share a striking ability to make frustration sound forwardthinking. If anything, it’s a while since M.I.A. has made music with as much of a mission as Noga’s early work. Listen: ‘Pity’ is an ace preview of debut album ‘Off the Radar’, out June. Similar to: Goldfrapp and M.I.A. storming Parliament.
A new hero for the indie scene. On breakthrough track ‘Fear & Force’, Laetitia Tamko - aka Vagabon - sings about “hiding in the smallest space,” which neatly sums up where she’s been up to now. Starting out as a fixture of New York’s underground indie community, she now looks set to break through with debut album ‘Infinite Worlds’. The Cameroon-born songwriter has said herself she’s an outlier in the indie world, because of her skin colour. And her songs grapple with that sense of identity, coupled with a desire to change the agenda. Listen: ‘Infinite Worlds’ is out now on Father / Daughter. Similar to: PWR BTTM, Frankie Cosmos.
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
ON THE PLAYLIST Every week on Spotify, we update DIY’s Neu Discoveries playlist with the buzziest, freshest faces. Here’s our pick of the best new tracks:
ALEX LAHEY THE GREAT
LUCY DACUS ‘Troublemaker Doppelganger’ Newly signed to Matador, Lucy Dacus’ 2016 debut ‘No Burden’ shouldn’t be slept on – it’s a record full of deadpan humour, smart lyrics and bright sincerity.
She’s just inked a deal with Dead Oceans (Mitski, Japanese Breakfast), with last year’s ace debut EP ‘B-Grade University’ being given a rerelease. Yet to discover Lahey’s wit-fledged, hook-stuffed brilliance? Now’s the time to catch up. Watch her new video for ‘Wes Anderson’ on diymag.com.
PRIESTS ‘No Big Bang’ D.C. force Priests seem to perfectly sum up the chaos and clamour for sense on their debut album ‘Nothing Feels Natural’. ‘No Big Bang’ is the highlight – a stinging slice of perfectly bleak post-punk. DAMA SCOUT ‘All In Too’ A shuffly, hot-footed glimpse of the future from one of the best new London bands in some time. Dama Scout were stars of this year’s DIY Hello 2017 shows – remember the name.
We love 24-year-old Aussie newcomer Alex Lahey, and it seems like the rest of the world is beginning to turn its head.
KISS FROM A ROSA
Class of 2017 stars and oddball champs Pumarosa have announced details of their debut album. ‘The Witch’ will be released on 17th May via Fiction, and comes with brand new single, ’Dragonfly’. They’re also heading out on tour in April, as visiting Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, they also play their biggest London show to date at Oval Space. Check it all out on diymag.com.
A BALANCED DIET
It’s been scientifically proven that the healthiest pop experience comes from listening to Sälen on repeat. The London trio – profiled in Neu last month – are upping the stakes with a no-bullshit single, ‘Heartbreak Diet’. Their talent for crafting heartbreak-busting megaanthems shows so signs of letting up. They’ve also announced a new show at London Electrowerkz for 14th March. Listen to the new track on diymag.com.
“I still touch on old emotions.”
Unrequited love helped give this 18-year-old prodigy his big break. Words: Grant Rindner. What did you do when your first relationship ended? Maybe you cried; maybe you made your ex a mixtape, or penned a heartfelt letter. In the case of George van den Broek, his ended up being the basis for ‘Harmless Melodies’, a bewitching debut that blends shades of King Krule and Only Real with songwriting chops that are rare for anyone, let alone an 18-year-old.
“Yellow Days for me is like a yellow mist over everything you see, and it sort of multiplies the emotion,” George explains of his name. “It’s the Yellow Days of my times, because I write about moments that have happened to me that mean a lot.” From the first few bars of its John Cleese-sampling intro, ‘Harmless Melodies’ feels like stepping into George’s head in the days and months after his relationship ran its course. His incredible voice – even more gruff on the phone than it is on record – is a powerful tool that imbues a story of heartache and reclamation with even more heft and gravitas. The Archy Marshall comparisons aren’t off the mark, but where Archy’s music as King Krule has a post-punk sensibility in both the instrumentation and the vocals, George’s tunes are even
more cerebral and atmospheric, a soundtrack for late-night thoughts. “People say that poetry is written in the reflection, and I think [these songs] came a fair bit afterwards,” he says. “Back then I wasn’t writing nearly as much as I am now. I still touch on old emotions, if they’re that strong you can summon them and make a song.” That sense of perspective informs breakout single ‘Your Hand Holding Mine’, which encapsulates the fog he found himself in once on his own. The track captures the ennui of unrequited love. “It’s a first love, we spent a long time together, and afterwards it was pretty cold and sobering,” he remembers. “So that song is sort of like ‘Fuck, what am I gonna do now?’ He says. “[But] it’s got hopefulness, it’s not completely depressive. ‘I always thought it’d be your hand holding mine but I’m doing what I can, I’m surviving.’” “My music is always just like a state of consciousness, every song and every album is just how I’ve been, how I’ve been feeling,” he says. “Some will Yellow Days is appearing at The be happy, some will be sad, Great Escape this year. Head to some will be a mixture.” DIY diymag.com for details.
Yet somehow along the way, Skott discovered video games and became enamoured with 8-bit synthesizers, a stark contrast to what she was raised on. But, as she puts it, these two seemingly opposing musical factions were the foundations for her sonic development. “When you play and write for the violin the melody has to be really striking and strong because it’s so naked,” she explains. “Video game music is about creating a world. Even though it was very basic back in the day, you still have to paint a picture. So, when you put those together, a really strong melody and something that really paints a mood, I guess you get to the music that I write,” she says. Skott’s sound is entrancing, with flecks of Scandinavian darkness and melancholia, visceral vocals and well-developed production – all of which, when combined, create enchanting yet brooding pop. Yet it’s her ability to express fragility that is both unsettlingly heartbreaking and inherently powerful.
“I’m very open about being fragile,” she says. “But I’ve found it strengthening to present those emotions. It’s like being naked but it makes you feel strong when you can be honest about being weak.” Is it hard, then, for her shut her emotions out? “I just haven’t found the off button,” she says, laughing. However, there is a fear of becoming closed off. “Or I fear being in love with someone like that,” she adds. “I have seen that mechanism and I envy it as it would be so nice to be completely rational. Your emotions can mess you up; they get in the way.” However, it’s this sensitivity that drives Skott’s songwriting. “I’m usually just drawn to chords and melodies; they feed some kind of emotion that I’m feeling,” she says. “It’s probably related to something that’s happened, but I’m not aware of that yet. Then, I start putting words to it and only then do I start to attach a personal association to it. Often I can analyse my songs afterwards. Then it becomes clear to me what I actually wrote it about.” She pauses. “It’s like I need to be in a feeling for a while, like maybe I didn’t feel it enough the first time.” While an album is on the horizon, Skott’s methods mean there’s still more scope for sonic exploration. “Someday I might write a song where I need a house beat,” she suggests. “All I know is that when if I write it, it has to trigger that thing in me… I have to feel something.” DIY Skott is appearing at The Great Escape this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
This Swedish star’s route to the top has been anything but ordinary. Words: Alim Kheraj. Photo: Emma Swann.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
Skott believes there are three reasons why people from Sweden make the best pop music. Firstly, she argues, Sweden’s welfare state allows people to take out interest free loans to pursue their passions. Secondly, strong role models like ABBA are beacons that “it doesn’t matter that you’re from tiny Sweden, you can make it.” Finally, the seasons. “I think we need the seasons as it makes us moody and sentimental when they change,” she says. “I don’t think you can write that dark music if you live somewhere like LA and spend your days on the beach.”
Scandipop ‘til you drop .
Despite what you might have read, Swedish singer Skott did not, in fact, grow up in a commune. “When I was first asked to describe where I was from I used ‘commune’ because it sounds like the Swedish ‘kommun’, which means an area of land,” she says, clearing up the misconception. Rather, she says, she grew up in a small village north of Stockholm that has a full history of folk music (her village has its own traditional folk costume). “In my family we didn’t listen to [contemporary music],” she continues. “My sisters and I played folk violin, we didn’t even have a piano.”
WEEK 3 The third of five Hello 2017 nights kicks off with Dama Scout, a Glasgow-via-London trio fledging gold from rough-edged fuzz. Next, Venture Lows look like they’re in a hurry. The East London trio pack a goat noisy-yet-playful side, like a cross between Test Icicles giRl and DFA 1979, giving the odd nod to Tom Vek and Micachu along the way. Expanded to a four-piece live, meanwhile, Manchester’s Luxury Death sport melodic, loved-up noise. Finally, fresh from putting the finishing touches to their debut LP, Dream Wife are a band in the form of their lives. Rakel Mjöll is the picture of confidence, making the Old Blue Last’s tiny stage feel like an arena podium, leading the trio through a frenzied, uncompromising set. With that marker firmly placed, we’re left with one of the best Hello shows in years. (Jamie Milton)
PIXX AND DREAM WIFE LEAD THE CHARGE As the new bands shindig comes to a close for another year, there’s time for all-out chaos, earworms aplenty - and a cardboard cut-out of Pierce Brosnan.
WEEK 4 Calendar anomalies mean this fourth Hello 2017 date isn’t the last - but it does feel somewhat ‘in keeping’ that all four acts here have something of the square-peg-round-hole about them. Ben Gregory is usually seen fronting indie pop had-hitters and Class of 2017 alumni Blaenavon, but tonight he’s flying solo. He plays a few day job numbers - ‘Prague’ and ‘Orthodox Man’ both showing off a more delicate side when stripped so far back. There’s more than a touch of the Adele to the vocals of Azusena, but this Wirral resident’s taking far more cues from 90s dance - even using an actual boombox for ‘Better’. Her’s bring another shift in sound, their 50s pop-nodding melodies delving occasionally in to country. Finally, Londoners Sweat take things down several notches in various ways, as leather-clad frontman Dante Traynor swaggers his way across the tiny stage. Who says the party can’t start on a Tuesday in January? (Emma Swann)
Little CuB WEEK 5 James Canty’s set might be stripped James back - but these are rough sketches of songs that Canty could be absolutely massive when given a polish. He follows Alice Barlow tonight, who has the ability to write songs that start sweet and handbrake turn into something vicious and cutting in a heartbeat, and amps up the anticipation for her follow-up to debut single ‘In A Vice’. After the Domino-signed Little Cub inject a healthy dose of grooves into proceedings, it’s a new-look Pixx who close the evening and the whole of Hello 2017. The introduction of a drummer into Hannah Rodgers’ live band gives her the extra edge and punch to become a truly great live act. The soon-to-be-hits that are set to make up her upcoming debut album won’t do her harm either - ‘Grip’ possesses one of the choruses of last year, and ‘Everything Is Weird In America’ matches it in the earworm stakes. Like so many have shown over the past month, Pixx is starting the year strong, and it’s frightening to think where she could be by the time we say Hello to 2018. (Will Richards)
Pixx failed to avoid the upturned plug onstage at the Old Blue Last.
GIG GUIDE The must-see new music gigs taking place this month. Buzzy first steps OUR GIRL 22nd March Headed up by The Big Moon’s resident fret-shredder Soph Nathan, Our Girl are bringing their haze-cloaked grunge wares to London’s The Waiting Room. On tour IDLES 6th - 20th March This summer, Bristol hellraisers IDLES support The Maccabees on bittersweet farewell shows. Catch ‘em while they’re hot as they tour the UK this March, visiting Brighton, Cambridge, Southampton and London.
wild s g n i th
Circa Waves, tearing it up as ever.
Meek indie boys be gone! Circa Waves return a confident, riff-roaring beast on second album â€˜Different Creaturesâ€™. Words: Rhian Daly. Photos: Emma Swann.
“I don’t know
ever be as big as Adele.” - Kieran
his year I’ve said I’m just gonna throw myself in at the deep end and, whatever makes me feel uncomfortable, I’ll just do it,” Kieran Shudall begins matter-of-factly over a pint in a mostly-empty Camden pub. The Circa Waves frontman is talking about life in general, but his newfound attitude of embracing new challenges could be read as a comment on the band’s second album too. ‘Different Creatures’ waves goodbye to the sunkissed indie-pop of 2015 debut ‘Young Chasers’ and replaces it with a fistful of rock riffs. It’s a change that not many would have predicted, but one that was a direct reaction to the amount of success the Liverpool band found after that first album. The record entered the Top Ten in the albums chart and constant touring led them to bigger and bigger venues, including a sold-out show at Brixton Academy. Great, you might think, but when it came to having to play the same songs over and over again, it had a definite impact on the music Kieran would want to make next – namely forcing him to try a completely new direction. “With some of the first record, it was a bit throwaway,” he says now. “Not that I don’t think it was good, it just wasn’t really thought out.” For most of Circa Waves’ existence, they opened their sets with the record’s title track. Its creator sings the first line (“Not much as such, not much of a problem”) and shakes his
head. “Over two years I was like ‘what the fuck, that doesn’t mean anything’. It’s fine, it’s a hooky thing, but I wanted to sing something that means a little more.” ‘Wake Up’, ‘Different Creatures’’ opener, was the first to be written in his new, improved regime. Having demoed it after the band finished their US tour with Foals at the end of 2015 Kieran was initially apprehensive about the beefier sound he had created. “I sent it to a few people and they were like ‘this is cool, you should push forward with it’. It was like ‘OK, I haven’t gone mad!’” His bandmates’ reactions were similarly encouraging. Bassist Sam Rourke emailed Kieran simply with the word “riff!” - and a courtesy devil horn emoji, of course while drummer Colin Jones simply said, “Oh shit!” The band were all excited to get stuck into something heavier, feeling it’s a “truer representation” of their tastes. If you’re going to make a big rock record, you might as well at least try and get one of the best rock producers in the world to work on it with you. Luckily for Circa Waves, Alan Moulder (the genius behind the desk for records by the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins) was as keen to work with them as they were with him – even if it didn’t seem so at first. “He said he’d be up for it, but then we didn’t hear from him for months,” Kieran explains. So when the band started making other plans it came as a bit of a surprise when, all of a sudden, Alan got back in touch. “One of our songs was on the radio and he said to his engineer ‘why the fuck aren’t we doing this band?!’ His engineer was like ‘well, you never mentioned it so we haven’t done anything about it’.” Soon enough, things were rectified and Alan joined to co-produce the record with him; the results are a gigantic leap up.
tudying and rock music might not sound like they go hand-in-hand, but knuckling down felt like right approach when writing this fresh batch of songs – to study. “A lot more concentration went into the lyrics and the subject matter,” he says, “and really considering every moment of the music, from the intro to the verse to how the song develops.” The artists he found himself swotting up on included Brandon Flowers (“one of the best for simplicity and genuine feeling”), Foals and ‘AM’-era Arctic Monkeys. That time definitely paid off. New single ‘Fire That Burns’ is an early highlight of the
album, laced with a heart-stopping series of thudding, dirty chords before invading anthemic territory on its bruising chorus. It actually started life as something for another band entirely, though. “I can’t remember what band it was for, but I was trying to make some money and write for someone else,” laughs Kieran. “I thought I’d write out of my comfort zone. It’s a fictional story, kind of a Sid and Nancy idea of a couple who are willing to change who they are for that other person. ‘Cause there’s quite a few personal songs on the record, it was quite fun to just make up a story and write a song about it.” Granted, it’s not likely you’ll be hearing many Kieran Shudall co-writes popping up in the charts anytime soon, mind. The frontman thinks he’d find it hard to write something and then just hand it over to someone else. He is willing to try and get over that for one person, though... “If Justin Bieber wanted to write a song maybe I’d give it a go, just so I could buy a speedboat. That’d be good – a speedboat in Liverpool!” he jokes, before returning to his sole project. “But my focus is Circa Waves and making us as big as we can be.” ‘Different Creatures’ certainly has the potential to catapult them even further. From the fury-filled stomp of ‘Goodbye’ (which caused a brutal circle pit the one time the band have played it live so far) to the in-a-rut, technologyobsessed anthem ‘Stuck’, it’s a dazzlingly selfassured record that feels more like it could really mean something than some of the songs on its predecessor like, say, ‘T-Shirt Weather’. As Kieran has already alluded, his songwriting is much closer to the bone from a personal viewpoint, writing about everything from battling demons and drinking to excess (‘Wake Up’, ‘A Night On The Broken Tiles’) to reassessing life (‘Old Friends’).
Behind the artwork What have oranges, kiwis and daffodil stems all got in common? They’re on the artwork for ‘Different Creatures’, of course!
Kieran: “There’s a kind of duality in it - the eye coming out of the stalk and becoming something else. The front cover is actually a photograph, but you wouldn’t know it. [Artist] Andrew Murabito used an orange for the eyeball and a sliced kiwi for the pupil, and then he layered over a stem from a daffodil. I asked him to make it red and black and he was like ‘I’ve just photographed this fucking orange and now you want it not to be an orange?’” So no it just looks like an eye. It’s an incredible photograph, but people will never see it.”
“If Justin Bieber wanted to write a song maybe I’d give it a go, just
so I could buy a speedboat.” - Kieran Shudall
As well as big, punchy songs to mosh away the night to, there are also some tender moments, like the lovestruck acoustic cut ‘Love’s Run Out’. The record’s true jewel in the crown, though, is ‘Out On My Own’. A swelling, string-laden effort that talks about male anxiety and depression, it sounds like a 2017 take on Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Disarm’. “That was the first song I wrote in that kind of style – slower and more emotional,” Kieran explains. “I wrote the string parts on a keyboard. When we got in the studio, we got a mini orchestra to play it. They were playing what I’d just done at home. I was like ‘fucking hell, this is amazing!’” The title track probably marks the band’s biggest change, though – lyrically speaking at the very least. In the line “20,000 souls are sold tonight / Making us their home”, the band shift into a much more political gear, addressing the Syrian refugee crisis. Kieran is as surprised as anyone that he delved into such a weighty topic in song. “I’m not a political person,” he confirms, “but there was so much talk about it at the time and the thing that hit me was the 20,000 people being allowed into the country. What happens to the 20,005th person? Do they just get left behind to die?” While he’s not claiming to offer any answers, the song is his
“I suppose that’s
the human instinct to
always want more.”
- Kieran Shudall
way of reminding the world any of us could be the ones fleeing from a war-stricken country. “They’re just the same as us so the different creatures thing – “If I were you and you were me / We would be different creatures” – is saying we could all be born in Syria, but we’re so fortunate to have been born in this country. I don’t know if I felt a responsibility to write it, but there was so much talk about it that I wanted to say my piece.”
uccess has made Circa Waves a different band musically, but their frontman reckons it’s also made them different people too. Now, they’re more confident in themselves and believe they can achieve whatever they set out to do. ‘Young Chasers’ might have sounded as if it were made by a band with that mindset, but it seems that things were quite the opposite. “I was just so grateful for what was happening and I never really thought I deserved it, almost because of so many years of not being successful and people not listening to the music that I made,” he shrugs. “When we toured with Interpol [in 2014] it was like watching a weird reality TV show that you’ve been invited to and everyone’s going to go ‘just kidding!’” That influx of confidence seems to have made the band hungrier to achieve even more than they did first time around.
“We’re not Kings Of Leon,” Kieran laughs. “We haven’t done everything yet.” Doing everything, though, is what’s on Circa Waves’ agenda. They may have had modest ambitions to start with - Kieran recalls when the band were ecstatic that they’d sold 100 tickets in London in the early days - but now they’re setting their sights far higher. “I always say a content musician is finished,” reasons Kieran. “If you don’t want to be getting bigger and bigger then you stop making good music.” Even achieving their dreams of playing festival main stages won’t sate their now-rampant thirst to be constantly progressing upwards. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be satisfied, even if we got offered to headline a stage. It’s dangerous really. I understand why you see older bands carry on. I suppose that’s the human instinct to always want more.” To Kieran, Circa Waves are part of a new wave of artists, along with The 1975 and Wolf Alice, who’ll be topping festival bills in the very near future. Bands like The Killers and Kings Of Leon, he says, are “getting on a bit and can’t headline festivals forever,” and he and his three bandmates are waiting in the wings to move in and take over the responsibilities when the time is right. “I think with this record we’ve stepped up and pointed the arrow upwards and said ‘this is where we wanna go. Join us or not, we don’t give a fuck. We’re going’.” Don’t think all this bold chat means they’re getting way
Souped up seconds
Circa Waves are far from the first band to up the ante on their second record and they won’t be the last. These acts also followed up their debuts with something with a little more meat on its bones. Muse ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ You wouldn’t believe it now, but the Devon trio’s debut ‘Showbiz’ had them compared to Radiohead. ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ swiftly changed all that, introducing the riffier sound we all associate with the group now. Arcade Fire ‘Neon Bible’ Arcade Fire’s 2004 debut ‘Funeral’ was theatrical and elegant. While they didn’t necessarily spurn those attributes on its follow-up, they did add a thick layer of Springsteenaping atmosphere to proceedings. Blur ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ What might have been if Blur had stuck with the sound of ‘Leisure’, their much-maligned attempt to ride the baggy wave of the early 90s. Give thanks that they saw the light and returned with the brilliant satirical pop of ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ instead. Amy Winehouse ‘Back To Black’ Amy’s first record ‘Frank’ positioned her as a new jazzy talent (albeit one with a hell of a lot of sass – hello, ‘Fuck Me Pumps’). When she teamed up with Mark Ronson on her second, and final, record ‘Back To Black, she showed she could pull off pop just as well.
ahead of themselves, though. Kieran admits ‘Different Creatures’ might not be the album where all of their dreams come true, but he reckons it won’t be much longer before they’re troubling the big guns. “On the next record we could certainly be looked at as potential headliners,” he states. While Glastonbury would be their ultimate goal, along with Reading & Leeds, he’s still hedging his bets a little. “You have to be fucking massive to do Glastonbury, though. I don’t know if we’ll ever be as big as Adele.” In the end, he settles for topping the Other Stage instead. “I feel like that’s do-able,” he smiles. “Maybe... I can dream. But why not, though? Why not aim for something mad like that? Four years ago, I was cleaning student houses and now I’m playing the main stage at Reading and Leeds. That’s ridiculous, so why not think ridiculously?” As world events are proving to us right now, it’s often the most seemingly impossible ideas that end up coming off. We’ll see you down the front at the Other Stage in 2020, then. Circa Waves’ new album ‘Different Creatures’ is out on 10th March via Virgin EMI. DIY
The Horrors ‘Primary Colours’ The Southend band don’t like being reminded of their debut album ‘Strange House’, an homage to 60s garage. They ditched that sound for the gothic shoegaze of ‘Primary Colours’ and never looked back. 43
o rat o
r y wo r k y
it ’ sL
nd ve a
r Femina’ may have been
this woman’s work
he way you draw people towards you to confirm your own character is interesting to me,” ponders Laura Marling. “I think it happens in your twenties - or late twenties - when you start to realise you’re not young anymore. You want to get close to that sense of innocence, so you can get closer to you.” From most 26-year olds, such talk of feeling old could be easily dismissed as a little melodramatic. Then again, the realisation that
Kylie Jenner was a mere foetus while most of us were at least toddling about the place proves a sharp reality check, and in Laura’s case, her air of a seasoned, gravellyvoiced veteran is understandable. Now six albums in, she’s lived out life in the spotlight since her teens, constantly watched by an audience. “I have a slightly unusual relationship with being seen because of my...” Laura adopts a clipped British newsreader-type voice, “‘public persona’” It’s a peculiar set of circumstances that has forged the way to ‘Semper Femina,’ an intricate, string-spun web of a record which deals in watery, porous narratives, and
gender-fluid ambiguity. The creation of predecessor ‘Short Movie’ saw Laura go through what she dubs her quarterlife crisis, with very little archness attached to the statement. Said crisis involved fairly equal measures of marijuana inhalation, tantric yoga, and a serious questioning period when it came to where to go next. Still, after a stint travelling solo around the US with a guitar in tow, bumping into a maybe imaginary old bloke in Mount Shasta - “I don’t even know if he was a real person,” she quips, “maybe he was just an entity?” - and unearthing a new lyrical frankness in the process, ‘Short Movie’ projected out the other side, emboldened by a heavier new sound. While her last record was a difficult one to perfect – a whole other ‘boring’ album being scrapped along the way – ‘Semper Femina’ came easily. She’s not entirely sure why, mind. ”If I knew the answer to why some things are easier than others,” she dismisses, “that would make my life very easy.”
boundary, there is no taboo. It was all very simple, but quite liberating.” Announced with a latex-clad video for ‘Soothing’ – a creeping, mildly sinister album opener which deals in desire and voyeurism – news of ‘Semper Femina’ came along with a press release full with coded queer language. The album was written during a ‘masculine time in her life,’ it reads. These gender-bending suggestions are wholly intentional ones, she agrees, but as you’d perhaps expect from her track record as a lyricist, this isn’t an autobiographical album dealing in any kind of sexual exploration. Cloaked in ambiguity, each lyric viewed through mirrors, it’s a narrative that escapes definition. Depending on how it’s looked at, and by who, ‘Semper Femina’ means entirely different things. In ‘Wild Fire’, she even attempts to skim-read someone else’s version of events, just so she can get to the bits that resonate personally. “Of course the only part that I want to read, is about her time spent with me,” she sings. “I think it certainly was intentional,” she concurs, “in the sense that I didn’t want there to be an explicit nature to it in any way, because the relationship between women, on the entirety of the spectrum, is incredibly fluid and ambiguous, and I feel like that’s something unique to women.” Being looked at is a topic that crops up again and again, notably in ‘Nouel’’s comparison of an unknown female muse to ‘L’origine du Monde’ (an ever-so-slightly NSFW French oil painting, viewed by thousands of people every day at the Musée d’Orsay). “The way I came across that painting was in a book called ‘When Women Were Birds,’ which was written by a Mormon...” she pauses, taking stock of her garbled pronunciation, “it’s like halfway between moomin and Mormon,” she coughs, before composing herself. “She was talking about how magnificent it is that we associate the origin of the world with the female capacity for gestation and creativity. I had that association with it, and ‘Nouel’ to me is all about this push and pull between a completely liberated creative, and being unnaturally incarcerated by her own fear because she’s so frail in a way, in a physical sense. That painting seemed to fit really well into that, because it’s a really vulnerable painting. It’s showing the universe, in a weird way.”
Thought you’d never see Laura Marling trading in her guitar for a set of decks? Think again. “I’ve been working on another project that’s not Laura Marling. That’s been taking quite a lot of my creative focus at the moment. I’ve been on a two year tour so I might take a break. It’s cool? I don’t know what to say about it. It’s led by someone else, and it’s coming out at the end of the year, but it’s more sort of atmospheric, and electronic.”
As with all brilliant creative accidents, the core of ‘Semper Femina’ was right in front of her all along. Or in this case, written on her leg. Borrowed from the ancient poet Virgil (obvs), ‘Semper Femina’ is an expression pinched from a longer line of Latin poetry, which roughly translates to “woman is ever a fickle and changeable thing.” The initial decision to chop it in half was, at first, one of sheer practicality; “the full phrase didn’t fit on my leg,” she shrugs with a laugh. Today, she’s well aware of the irony found in immortalising a sentence concerned with constant change in permanent form, by way of tattoo gun. “It still just proves the stubbornness of women,” she hoots. Inadvertently, she flipped the meaning on its head with her edits, too. ‘Semper Femina’. Always a woman. Laura had always set out to write a record about women, she says, but beginning to put pen to paper, found herself automatically adopting a male voice. “The reason why I started writing it as a man was symptomatic of my own immaturity, or my own shame, about what’s sort of the acceptable societal boundary or way to appreciate women,” she admits. “That’s a really hodge-podge way of saying it,” she adds as an aside. “Then, when I stepped over that boundary – which seemed like a big fearful step to me at the time – stepping over it was like, this is totally ridiculous. There is no
Then, there’s the strange rank of observers flanking the matching visual for ‘Soothing’. “Every decent art student has read that John Berger book,” Laura states, tossing ‘Ways of Seeing’ into conversation without hesitation. “That particular voyeuristic nature of that image is the specified taboo nature surrounding feminine relationships; whether they’re sexual or not,” she says. “That ambiguity is important. I felt, I began to think about, how restrictive that is in our societal structure, and how that keeps women apart.” After nine years of being watched, Laura Marling has made a record which seems to turn the camera back on its audience, while also taking a good long, hard look at the ways in which we view ourselves, and women, too. ‘Semper Femina’ might have a title that suggests definition, but it’s Laura Marling’s most evasive, compelling, and experimental record yet. Laura Marling’s new album ‘Semper Femina’ is out on 10th March via More Alarming Records. DIY
Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as... PLANTLIFE!
OTTERLY SERIOUS MATTER
A while ago Lazza Mazza flooded all her social media accounts with pictures of otters, and it went down in musical legend. Then, the otters vanished. At the time we assumed that Laura’s manager must’ve instated a three-layer anti-otter filter; a bit like Adele having to get her drunk tweets formally approved. Here’s what actually inspired (and ended) the whole thing. “There was an otter conservation centre near where I was living, and with all the crap going on in the world, with all the awful stuff, there was a daily thing in my local newspaper about how the otters were thriving. They rehabilitated all these fresh-water otters, and they were doing so well, and everyone was freaking out about it. Everyone was able to have this piece of good news. That was that, and then I found out that I had a Laura Marling Instagram, so I took the password from the people. Then I was asked to stop. My otter time is over now because I found out a horrifying fact* about sea otters which I can’t even tell you. I can’t pass on that horrible story to anyone else, but yes my time with otters is over.” *don’t look this up, honest. Sea otters are jerks.
“Ambiguity is important.” 47
Saxophones, cowbells, weird noises and WhatsApp: Matt Ritson gives us the lowdown on Formation’s debut album ‘Look At The Powerful People’ - and the importance of real human connections. Words: Eugenie Johnson: Photos: Mike Massaro.
Get in n o i t a m r Fo 48 diymag.com
ntil recently, Formation’s Will and Matt Ritson might well have been the coolest twins in music. Then Beyoncé went and spoiled it all by announcing she was expecting double trouble with the most liked Instagram post ever. It’s not the first time Queen Bey has encroached on the Ritsons’ territory either. She even muscled in on their band name with her mega-hit last year. Nevertheless, Matt doesn’t mind because “she used [the word] for the right purpose.” ‘Formation’ essentially is about who Beyoncé is deep down, singing “My daddy Alabama, Mommy Louisiana.” Will and Matt, meanwhile, are also very aware of their own background, and are very much in sync with their family. They even had more than a bit of encouragement to enter into music from their mum. “One day she sat us down and said ‘if that’s what you want to do, just do it’,” Matt explains. “She asked us to write a song for her by that Friday and we wrote ‘Hangin’.” They didn’t need much more backing to start a band. “When you’ve got your mum saying ‘make it happen’ then you’ve got all the motivation you need to start something cool.” Since then, Formation have developed from being just the brothers improvising bass and drum grooves to a fullyfledged band of five. Bassist Jonny Tams, who the brothers have known for years from his days working in a record store, was brought in “to help produce and record the first EP.” He also happens to have been an engineer on a Björk album, and has worked with Blur producer Stephen Street.
“People take the cowbell for a joke but it’s very, very serious.” Matt Ritson
Keyboard player Sash Lewis is “kind of a synthesiser guru”. And get this: “he’s just made an improvised modular record with Four Tet and Caribou, and Floating Points and Joe Goddard from Hot Chip.” Finally there’s Kai Akinde-Hummel, who used to play drums in Matt’s old band Pushing Hands. Kai’s uncle was in the band One Style MDV, who went on a tour with a little band called The Clash. He didn’t take too much persuading to join Formation. “We were like ‘yep, you’re in this band’ and he just agreed!” With that amount of talent on board, no wonder Matt describes them as “a dream team”. “It just feels like a family where we can all be open and talk.” They’ve created a collection of killer anthems in the form of debut album ‘Look At The Powerful People.’ As you can imagine from that line-up, it’s quite a ride. “We tried to involve everything and cover a lot of ground and that’s what happened!” Matt says. For starters, there’s a ton of danceable melodies and euphoric highs packed in, but as he says, there’s also “a lot of jazz in there.” That’s unsurprising considering the brothers’ love of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, and there’s definitely more than a bit of improv going on. ‘Buy and Sell’ is groove-laden but contains a section where slap bass and drums face off against one another, while ‘Back Then’ descends into a flurry of crazy synth tones. There’s also what Matt calls “some crazy saxophone”. Those bursts of sax are provided by Klaus, who’s a “50-year-old German saxophonist, and he’s mental.” Will had met him at a workshop and exchanged numbers, but never got back in touch. Then one day, he found him outside his house after
Klaus had been for a job interview at a music school around the corner. A few hours of jamming, and it was obvious they needed him on board. “When we were doing these tracks we were just like ‘we need to do something wild’, and we got Klaus on it.” Then there’s the influence of legendary producers Leon Vynehall (“fucking awesome”) and Ben Baptie - the latter another figure the brothers have known for a long time. “There are lots of bits on the album where we’d leave the studio for a day, come back in and Ben would have done just like a few hours of making weird sounds.” So, that extended, blustering noise at the end of ‘Ring’ that also closes the album? “It’s just Ben making weird sounds!” One thing that stands out about ‘All The Powerful People’ is its inherently percussive nature. ‘Drugs’ kicks things off with a clash of pounding drums, cymbals and tambourines, and each track pulsates with strong beats. And yes, there are a lot of cowbells in there. “People take the cowbell for a joke but it’s very, very serious.” He’s keen to point out the hundreds of years of technique embedded within it. Will became particularly engrossed in finding out more about percussive instruments, mostly because, as Matt explains, “it’s kind of part of our heritage.” “Our grandad was from Ghana and he’s from the Ashanti tribe, and they have their own rhythm,” he says. “Every tribe in Africa has its own rhythm, and I guess it’s part of our history and the history of music in general to have that in there. It’s nice to include those things, especially when it’s part of your family.”
Bootleg Bust-up Speaking of ‘Formation,’ the day Beyoncé’s track came out, Matt decided to make a bootleg remix of the tune. Which was then played by Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1. “I got in so much trouble!” Matt laughs. “We got told to take down anything, just get rid of all traces of it.” There are a couple of copies left though. Matt has one for himself and the other went to pop pal Shura. “Shura was like ‘I need this’ so she’s got the backup copy.” Lucky so-and-so.
That’s a word that keeps turning up: family. Creating and nurturing a kind of deeper human relationship around the band is incredibly important to its members, and Matt strongly believes that “everyone is as powerful as the next person. It’s crazy that we have this system where there’s one person at the top when really, we’re all in charge.” It’s little surprise then that the album features a wealth of commentary on social and political issues. ‘Powerful People’ talks about those on the top “bringing them down with the weight” but also asks to be let in by another, equally strong public collective. Elsewhere, ‘A Friend’ encourages sticking together
through hard times, and although ‘On The Board’ is about chess (putting it in a small but perfectly-formed collection of songs about the board game alongside Yes and Wu-Tang Clan), its tale of battling through strategic manoeuvres could also be seen as veiled political commentary. For Matt, being in a band is pointless if you haven’t got something relevant to say. “If you’ve got a platform to speak your mind and people want to listen to it, there’s no point in saying something that’s not meaningful or genuine,” he says. “It made sense to try and do something meaningful, do something that might make a difference, affect someone, help or make a change. Just to provoke a thought. It’s so much more powerful.” That’s just one way Formation are building bridges - they’re also encouraging an even more personal approach to relations with their audience, having set up a phone number for anyone to call them on WhatsApp. “Rather than doing it via Facebook or Twitter, which doesn’t really mean anything, they can phone us and have a connection,” Matt explains. So far they’ve had calls from someone from France on their way to school, a girl in Soho, a guy from Germany and a guy from France who’s actually English, among many others. Isn’t he worried they might get a few creepy phone calls? “That’s what’s exciting about it!” he enthuses. They’ve already had a couple of prank calls: “Some guy rang me yesterday and he was a proper Cockney fella,” Matt says. “He rang me and said ‘You alright mate?’ I went ‘who is this’ and he said ‘it’s Gaz, I’m looking for Wiff.’ I was like, ‘you what? What are you talking about?’ He was like ‘it’s Who doesn’t love a bit of footy? alright mate, I’ve got the Matt likes a bit of the beautiful wrong number!’” game and if pushed, says So long as Formation are he’ll align himself to Arsenal, reaching out to others, it’s because Kai, Sash and his all good. “None of us are older brother all do the same. in this to dance around Plus, Will supports Tottenham. on stage and do nothing, “I can make fun of Will, and we’re here to create a Tottenham because they suck!” family and be there,” Matt But what would be his football says. “We’re standing on formation of choice? “We could our own feet and we’re go Total Football where’s inviting people to come it’s just improvised and live life with us.” play and everyone’s connected as a Formation’s debut album team. If you can do ‘Look At The Powerful that, it’s awesome,” People’ is out on 24th he says. March via MENO. DIY
Formation... just Hangin’
As Los Campesinos! gear up to the release of new album ‘Sick Scenes’, the band’s frontman sits down to reminisce through some of the band’s finest (and most ridiculous) lyrical moments so far. Words: Lisa Wright.
“From the very start,
our gigs felt like a community experience and a coming together of like minded people,” muses frontman Gareth Campesinos!, sat in a bar around the corner from label Wichita’s HQ. This sense of community and ‘us versus them’ that the group have cultivated since they first came to prominence more than a decade ago stems in no little part from the wry tales of deadpan despair that lie at the heart of them. Lyrically, Gareth has created a universe for the selfdeprecating – a little pocket of empathy and solace for the ones who rarely get the girl, and then promptly fuck it up on the rare occasions when they do. And so, as the band prepare to release sixth record ‘Sick Scenes’ – a record rooted in the new trials and familiar pitfalls of adulthood - the band’s frontman sits down to dissect the choicest lyrical nuggets from the septet’s journey from doe-eyed youngsters to slightly more cynical 30-somethings. To mine their author’s mind for nostalgic reflections and regrets on how the band have become one of the most beloved cult favourites in the country.
We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives’, 2007 single
“There’s red stains all over the place / But they’re not blood, they’re cherryade” “When we were first writing I would have been twenty, and I always feel like I should have been younger. This first lyric is probably the one I’m most embarrassed by: over the top, childish... “Off the back of the first EP people started labelling us as twee and I thought ‘if people want us to be that, then fine’. So I went along with it probably only for about three or four months, but the damage was done by then. I had a full rainbow’s worth of cardigans, I grew my fringe and it was too late.”
‘Hold On Now Youngster’, 2008 .
“Woe is me and woe is you and woe is us together” ‘… And We Exhale and Roll Our Eyes In Unison’
“Even within this same period, by here we’d stumbled a lot closer lyrically to what we’d go on to do and define ourselves by. From the very start, we saw ourselves as a gang and even though the line up’s changed over the years, with each change that feeling’s only increased. We’ve also always been very closely connected with our fanbase from the very start. I think that lyric is probably the first time that I really acknowledged that in a song, this ‘us v them’ mentality.”
We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, 2008
“I think it’s fair to say that I chose hopelessness, and inflicted it on the rest of us” ‘Ways To Make It Through The Wall’
“It’s the opening lyric from the record and it’s directly referencing a lyric from ‘Hold On Now Youngster’: “hopefulness is tantamount to hopelessness”. This was a real shift to when my lyrics started becoming more dreary, downbeat and depressive, and by me making that decision it was inflicted on the rest of the band. Throughout the six records, there are recurring motifs – heart swells; documented minor emotional breakdowns; doe eyes are mentioned a lot – and I like those Easter eggs. I like that there are things to really engross yourselves in.”
“We kid ourselves there’s future in the fucking / But there is no fucking future” ‘We Are Beautiful we are doomed’
“In hindsight this lyric is really basic. A criticism that’s often fired at Los Campesinos! - and it’s not unfair at all - is that we’ve got a sixth form poetry vibe, and I think this lyric’s probably guilty of it. I think when this was written, as a result of my newfound semi-fame in certain circles, I was enjoying being a kind of indie pin up - although not an indie dreamboat in DIY – and the meaningless relationships and meetings that go with that. This lyric is an overly emotional look at that. Needlessly contemplative about something that doesn’t warrant contemplating – but that’s LC!”
Romance Is Boring , 2010
“...But let’s talk about you for a minute” ‘In Medias Res’
“‘Romance Is Boring’ is probably the first record where I started looking outside of myself a bit more and writing through characters. There’s more of a narrative through this record than probably any of the others that we’ve written. This first lyric is representative of that change.”
“You could never kiss a Tory boy without wanting to cut off your tongue again” ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’
“I had to include this even though I don’t think it’s a great lyric. But there have been times singing it live where there’s been such a build up in getting to that lyric that by the time I get to it i’m crying. I can’t even get the words out because I can see everyone in front of me uncoiling and singing it back at deafening levels. “It’s a stupid lyric, there’s no reason to have the word ‘again’ at the end of it, but it was probably the first time we wrote a very clear political statement. We’ve never been popular enough to worry about isolating people, so we can say whatever we want.” 53
Hello Sadness, 2011 No Blues, 2013
“Not headstone, but headboard, is where I wanna be mourned” ‘Baby I Got The Death Rattle’
“Two seconds each morning without fail, before I enter the abattoir to see my insides hanging there” ‘Light Leaves, Dark Sees pt. II’
“Despite there only being a year between this record and ‘Romance Is Boring’, a lot of stuff happened. I was in a bad way, suffering from bad mental health and then I had a bad break up on top of that, which was like a personal end of the world. I chose these two lyrics because I think they’re two sides of the same coin. “The thing with any negative is that there are those moments when you forget, and then you remember and it hits you all over: ‘Light Leaves...’ was a metaphor for that. But then on the other hand ‘no headstone...’ is this stupid boasting of sexual prowess which has always been in LC! songs, deliberately taking the piss out of myself. Those lines come after each other on the record and that’s probably a good reference point for where my head was at at the time, curled up in a corner half of the day sobbing and then the next half getting smashed.”
Sick Scenes, 2017
“31 and depression is a young man’s game ‘5 Flucloxacillin’
“Lyrically this latest album is largely occupied with worrying about being older and more clueless than ever. All through my 20s I’d tend to think, ‘it doesn’t matter because in a few years I’ll feel better and have things figured out a lot more’. I now realise how wrong I was.”
“Bela Guttmann of love, curse all my exes to a life of celibacy” ‘Let It Spill’
“Bela Guttmann is a Hungarian football manager. He managed a Portuguese team and had a very successful period with them, but after he won the European cup for the second time with them he left the club because they wouldn’t agree to his financial demands. When he left he put a curse on the club saying they’d never win another European cup, and they never have since. And this is going back 60 or so years. People used to visit him asking to lift the curse and players go to his grave now praying to get it removed.”
“They say you and me are tautology” ‘What Death Leaves Behind’
“‘No Blues’ is also when I stopped pretty much solely writing about everything being a prism for relationships. Tautology is the repetition of the same word or sentiment; it can apply to a relationship, but it’s more about the friendship we have within LC! where it feels like we’re the same person because we’ve had all these shared experiences.”
“I’ve been penning odes to continental bottled lager” ‘Hung Empty’
“I’ll find it hard to say what lyrics from this album are the most pertinent until a few months have passed, so I’ll take this opportunity to give a shout out to my dear friend, lager. Thanks for everything.” Los Campesinos!’s new album ‘Sick Scenes’ is out now via Wichita Recordings. DIY
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D U N ‘ R O 57
GRAND DESIGNS Eat your heart out Kevin McCloud - Dave Longstreth built his own blimmin’ bespoke studio for ‘Dirty Projectors’. “It was an empty warehouse. I put in the power, built the interior walls, and everything. I was ready for it. I lived in New York for nine years, and I was ready for a change. In LA I love that you can create your own loop. You can really focus and create your own bubble there. You get the sense that this is just a grid planted onto a desert. I think it’s good for people who just live in their own imagination a lot, cos they can do that with no encumbrances or whatever.”
“ I t wa s r e a l ly a b o u t p u t t i n g m y s e l f b a c k t o g e t h e r . ” D av e
L o n g s t r e t h
Inside the Artwork
Dave talks us through why he returned to the familiar circle motif that already covers both ‘Bitte Orca’ and ‘Slaves’ Graves and Ballads’. And, nope, he didn’t commission musician-turnedcarpenter Frank Ocean to build that wooden cover. “It’s one of these symbols which I’m grateful to have around. It seems to shift meanings and mean different things at different times. I guess it feels, in a relatively stable way, like a good emblem of dirty projection, Dirty Projectors, because it’s kind of two cross-pollinating dreams. It has a mirror quality, but it’s actually black plexi. I love that show Black Mirror so much, and the black mirror image is one that people have been finding a bunch over the last couple years.”
“ T h i s i s s o m e t h i n g t h at I g o t o u t o f w o r k i n g w i t h K a n y e . ” D av e
L o n g s t r e t h
again”. For all the talk of ‘Dirty Projectors’ being a break-up album, frequently it feels like a piecing-back-together album instead; from its actual construction, to the symbolic decision to self-title. “The process of making it was really about putting myself back together,” Dave concurs, “so yeah, that makes sense to me.” ‘Dirty Projectors’ is all the more surprising considering its predecessor ‘Swing Lo Magellan’’s constant rejection of technology. While the 2012 record grappled with how the hell it’s possible to get lost in a world fully documented by hand-held maps accessible with a single thumb-swipe, the follow-up constructs purposeful grids and revolving loops, and gets lost in those instead. Just as Kanye West did on his own heartbreakfuelled album, it embraces the 808 synthesiser, too. “This is maybe something that I got out of working with Kanye a little bit,” Dave agrees. “I just feel great about using all the tools that are there, all these incredible, colourful tools,” he goes on. “They’re so vibrant, you can use them so insanely. I feel like the kind of dour skepticism toward technology on ‘Swing Lo Magellan’, ….” he pauses. “For me, I’m always inclined to look back on what I do immediately preceding, and be like ‘pffft!’” he scoffs. “To me it’s not how I feel now.” Looking back and taking a different direction is engrained in Dave Longstreth’s nature. He’s well aware of the fact that as a freshman at
Yale working on ‘The Graceful Fallen Mango,’ putting together his so-called glitch-opera ‘The Getty Address,’ and even writing love songs years on for ‘Bitte Orca’, his latest work has a personal core never quite associated with Dirty Projectors previously. “I started very much in the school of obtuse collections of work that suggest lots of different things,” he says. “The more porous it is, the more possibility it has. But right now I’m on this tip where, a lot of the songs that mean the most to me are capable of meaning one thing when I’m ten years old, another when I’m twenty, another when I’m thirty,” he adds. “This album is the only one I’ve done this way, so it does feel hard, and vulnerable. It’s kind of hard to do some of these interviews,” he chuckles. “I do feel like this is an album that I had to make.” “It’s opposite, and in this emotional world, both seem real and valid. It’s definitely a very interior world,” he says, giving his own take on the record, and getting a bit too abstract for first thing on a Tuesday morning. “Overall I would stress that the album’s not a newspaper or a journal or a Facebook rant,” he finalises.” It’s definitely a shattered cloud of impressions and minutiae reassembled in a way that’s not reality, and not history. It’s a song. That said,” he adds, “a lot of the songs are me.” Dirty Projectors’ new self-titled album is out now. DIY
Thereâ€™s always been mystery and majesty about Creeper, but when they vanished without a
trace last year, they entered a whole new league. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Mike Massaro.
ne day, feeling a bit fed up, Will Gould thought, “let’s do it”. He and his Creeper bandmates had been intricately planning how to announce their debut album from their bedrooms for the previous year. Then, after a few other ideas from label Roadrunner, they flicked the switch, disappearing from view. “To make noise from not making any noise is the whole idea,” the frontman explains now the Southampton sixpiece have been well and truly found - and are about to release debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’. “To build the walls back up around the band.” Mystery and theatre have surrounded Creeper since the start, but the dedicated following they’ve gained through the three years and three EPs since allowed them to be more creative and ambitious when constructing their story. “The reason we did the band in the first place was to try and make something seem flamboyant, and do really bold, theatrical things. Trying to do things that other bands wouldn’t do as well. I thought for a while about lying about me and Hannah [Greenwood, keys] being brother and sister - you know, like Jack and Meg White,” Will recalls. Some of [our fans] actually still think we are,” retorts Hannah. Even with ambitions as big as theirs, some of the steps the band’s fans have taken have taken them by surprise,
including inundating The Dolphin Hotel in their home town with calls trying to book its room 309, the site of the disappearance of their saga’s protagonist James Scythe and title of a song on ‘Eternity…’. “I think we’re banned from about half the hotels in Southampton!” Will laughs. “We also tried to book some rooms from when we did a video shoot and they cancelled them all when they found out they were to do with us - they wouldn’t allow it.” But as veterans of Southampton’s punk scene, Will and guitarist Ian Miles have had to adapt to the size and scale they find their new band occupying. “I really feel like everything that’s come along the way - everything we have - is a result of our audience pushing us along,” Will says, with Creeper t-shirts having popped up in every rock club in the country before the band ventured anywhere further north than London. There is something about Creeper though. Strip away their aesthetic, or on-stage personas, and they’re simply a (very good) punk band. And with the self-styled cult they’ve created around themselves, they’re swiftly propelling forwards to being one of the UK’s biggest rock bands. “The whole idea in the first place was to make something that was intentionally very different from what was around at the time,” says Will. “I know we’re not a unique band, by any stretch of the imagination, but everything was so straight up at the time, and people were performing in the same clothes they wore to work, so we were very intentionally trying to create something
that would feel very different to go and see. Something harking back to some days that I’ve forgotten a little bit.” “I think we’ve experienced the death of the rock star in a way,” he continues. “Any mystery that surrounds bands has been completely shattered, and it’s up to the artists themselves to defend that and make that important again.” It’s a difficult balance to strike though, between coming from a world with no pedestals or personal barriers between band and fan, and keeping the mystique that makes Creeper so enticing. It’s also one that can get dangerous, as Hannah recalls. “We decided to go down to the merch table after we played [at Brixton Academy with Pierce The Veil], and the three of us went down, and it was mayhem. It was like King’s Cross station, and I was the train! I think both Ian and I both ended up actually having panic attacks and it was just really weird.” “People would just grab you,” continues Will. “I feel like some people think there’s a right to access to musicians. It’s so difficult, at a big show like that, and with an audience that’s growing all the time, to be consistently present. It gets dangerous, and it’s really easy to forget that people are people. In a way, a lot of what we do is trying to make our characters on the stage be more than just a person, but underneath it all you’re still a human being.” The pressure to be ever-present and in character also caused cracks in the
“I’m a Creeper, I’m a weirdo.”
recording process for ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’, with the band continuing to tour and keep up a jam-packed schedule alongside it. It all came to a head a few weeks in, when Will returned home for a few days on the sofa. “Sometimes that stress can be beneficial, in a way, to the record,” chips in Ian, “‘cause when I listen back to it now, I remember exactly how I felt when that was going on. You can hear little cracks in Will’s voice and I’d think ‘I know where that came from’.” Despite the problems that keeping their walls up may create internally - “late nights are doing me harm” sings Will on album track ‘Winona Forever’ - it’s a secrecy the band are big fans of. “When I used to listen to records as a kid... let’s say ‘Good Mourning’ by Alkaline Trio for example,” starts Will, “I don’t wanna see a picture on Instagram
of Matt Skiba recording that guitar in a blank room, because in my head I picture so many other things - nostalgic memories of my life, or how I imagined the record to be, and when I’m listening to it, I don’t want it to be tarred with an image of that. An image of a studio is so dull, and nothing what a band is like.” The story and soon-to-be-legend of Creeper stretches far beyond the 11 songs on ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’, but the album itself is a far-reaching and comprehensive collection of the fistpumping, flamboyant punk the band are becoming renowned for. It’s also a tangible end product to a tale that, at times, trailed far away from the six members’ music. “What I like about the album,” Will says, “is that it sounds like a band playing, not a machine. You can hear my voice being far from perfect, and it’s those elements of reality - among all the fabrication and storytelling that comes from our band - that are the parts that really stick.”
“It was like King’s Cross station, and I was the train!” - Hannah Greenwood
Creeper’s debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is out on 24th March via Roadrunner Records. DIY
CASTING COUCH Creeper’s universe is inhabited by all manner of oddball characters. Who, then, would play them in the Official Creeper Movie™? Will: I think Edward Norton would be good for James Scythe. Ian: The Stranger would have to be someone that’s very tall. Hannah: Slenderman! I: I would like to think that it’d be somebody that could take on that role fully, but not make it wacky. Like Johnny Depp. W: Let’s just think of any tall person. H: OK, Michael Jordan is The Stranger. W: Who would play Madeleine? I: Scarlett Johansson would be great as Madeleine.
LAURA MARLING semper femina (More Alarming/Kobalt)
usic and the small hours go together like a big and little spoon. Creative inspiration seeps out of dreams through dozy membranes, masterpieces are born from scribbled-on napkins, and ideas arrive during sleepless nights. Paul McCartney (spare a thought for his long-suffering flatmates) had a habit of sleep-playing his piano, and writing mega-hits in a dozy daze. ‘Hometown Glory’ came to Adele after she drunkenly slurred “nah, it’s me hometown, love!” at a concerned passerby on a night out, as she unsteadily made her way home. And god only knows how the hell Alt-J arrived
at turning someone inside out and licking them; like a crisp packet no less. Probably a late-evening session with the wacky backy. Dreamscapes figure in Laura Marling’s ‘Semper Femina,’ too, and night often crops up as a darker realm of transgression. ‘Soothing’ opens her sixth album in a slinking cascade of seedy bass progressions, “creepy conjurers” and chalk-drawn lines across bedroom floors; tangoing with shady, latex-clad figures in the dead of night. Rich strings soar theatrically across the furrows of ‘The Valley’, Laura viewing the night as a place where secrets can be shared, if only the dusk could be crossed. “I love you in the morning, I love you in the day, I’d love you in
IEWS TRACKLISTING: Soothing The Valley Wildfire Don’t Pass Me by Always this way Wild Once Next Time Nouel Nothing, Not Nearly
the evening, if only she would stay,” she yearns, addressing an unspecified muse who apparently has her number, and won’t call it. Meanwhile, ‘Wild Fire’ – all burring vibra-slaps – asks the introspective questions that usually pester brains around bedtime; “are you getting away with who you’re trying to be?” If ‘Short Movie’ represented an enlightened, newlyinvigorated Laura Marling - breezing down wide LA boulevards, electric guitar in tow - ‘Semper Femina’ is the gloomier, neon-tinged counterpoint. The enduring questions of her finest work - “No-one takes me home / Where can I go?” (‘Once I Was An Eagle’) and “How did I get lost?” (‘Short Movie’) – crop up again under different guises, as ‘Semper Femina’
. . . . . . . . . .
meanders through an ambiguous, shifting narrative, in search of permanence. When Laura sings of her female muse ‘Nouel’, she’s also turning the mirror back on herself; “Semper Femina, so am I”. At the heart of ‘Semper Femina’’s reversed pronouns, dreamdredged imagery, and darker sonic core, Laura Marling crafts yet another hard-to-pin, experimental statement. A shapeshifting artist who never pauses, the record patters quietly away in a flurry of footsteps and birdsong, as the elusive morning finally arrives. Who on earth knows where Laura Marling will tread tomorrow. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Soothing’, ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ ,‘Nouel’
Different Creatures (Virgin EMI)
Circa Waves’ debut, 2015’s ‘Young Chasers’, was an exercise in boyish exuberance brimming with 00s-inspired riffs. For its follow-up, the Merseyside quartet are determined to step things up a notch. The band have their gaze firmly set on being future festival headliners. ‘Different Creatures’ is stacked with massive alt-rock tracks. It’s loud and swaggering, the defiance of youth compressed into song. Their breezy melodies and buoyant riffs have been cast aside and replaced with a wall of scuzzy guitars. But while the album sees Circa Waves growing up, it doesn’t quite show them fully grown. That’s no bad thing. Lyrically, ‘Different Creatures’ focuses on tales of transition, as the band shift from one phase of their lives to the next. Tracks like ‘Crying Shame’ and ‘Fire That Burns’ focus on dysfunctional relationships with all the intensity of a broken heart, while ‘Out On My Own’ grapples with the realisation that growing into independence can feel isolating. ‘Different Creatures’ may well be a ‘big’ rock album, but ‘Love’s Run Out’, one of its softest numbers, is a clear standout. With only an acoustic guitar and frontman Kieran Shuddall’s vocal to carry it, the straightforward love song is touchingly sweet. It goes to show that while Circa Waves are stepping up, they’re just as confident in stripping things back. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Love’s Run Out’, ‘Out On My Own’
Brutalism (Balley Records)
“How many optimists does it take to change a lightbulb?” IDLES’ Joseph Talbot challenges on ‘White Privilege’. “None, their butler changes the lightbulb,” he answers instantly. “Always poor, never bored.” Disillusioned with the world around them, on ‘Brutalism’ IDLES set their own status quo. With a nudge, a wink, and a sly smirk, the band blur a blunt honesty with a brilliant sense of humour, poking fun at the world until it stands up and fights back. An exhilarating escape along frenzied, powerhouse rhythms with a ferocious commentary for guidance, ‘Brutalism’ is as vital as it is volatile. An explosion of cynicism and spite fuelled by indignation, the album is a vehicle for the emotions society teaches us to suppress. (Jessica Goodman) LISTEN: ‘Mother’, ‘White Privilege’ 66 diymag.com
eee CAMERON AVERY
Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams (Anti-)
Cameron Avery is perhaps best known for being Tame Impala’s touring bassist, but instead of pop-tinged psych, he’s taking us to the world of smoke-filled streets and neon-lit alleyways on ‘Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams’, channelling the spirits of great crooners along the way. Having said that, it isn’t an album filled with glitz and glamour. Cameron may drench his songs in luscious, sweeping strings, but this is more akin to a gritty neo-noir thriller. On ‘Watch Me Take It Away’ he wrests back control in a frenzy of guitars and swaggering percussion. He even adds a dose of self-deprecating humour to the Americana-tinged ‘Disposable’. For Cameron Avery, the idea of real love may be but a pipe dream, but it’s very hard not to fall head over heels for his honest charms. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Disposable’
Hot Thoughts (Matador)
If ‘They Want My Soul’ confronted Spoon frontman Britt Daniel’s feelings about music industry politics, ‘Hot Thoughts’ represents an attempted escapist rush, forging into new sonic territory with the disco inflections of ‘First Caress,’ the surging club backbeat of ‘Shotgun,’ and the sweeping synthesisers of ‘Can I Sit Next To You.’ At times it feels more like Scissor Sisters. A planned dalliance, ‘Hot Thoughts’ reveals its irony: a well-thought rush of blood, a planned frisson. It’s a turn on with limits. (Geoff Nelson) LISTEN: ‘Shotgun’
eeee CONOR OBERST
When Conor Oberst released ‘Ruminations’ last October, it wasn’t quite the record he set out to make: while the world was singing his praises, he forged ahead with his plans to record with a full band. As such, ‘Salutations’ is best viewed as a companion piece, with the ten tracks that populated that record fleshed out and accompanied by a further seven. Releasing two similar albums in such close proximity might seem like a cynical attempt to double-down on the success of the first, but rather than feel like a re-release thrown together by label execs, these were the tracks as they should be; rich, nuanced, and steeped in major key melodies. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ‘Too Late To Fixate’
eeee METHYL ETHEL
Everything is Forgotten (4AD)
Look At The Powerful People (Meno)
If ever there was an argument for not rushing your debut, Formation are surely it. Having broken through as a living, breathing shrine to James Murphy, time has given the London outfit a chance to get the obvious reference points out of their system and flesh them out into something more nuanced. That’s not to say that his influence doesn’t still linger across ‘All The Powerful People’, but it’s one of many – from the baggy raves of the Haçienda to the spat-out lyrics of grime’s underground – that fit together to form an altogether more intoxicating proposition. Tellingly, none of their early tracks even made it on to the LP. ‘On The Board’ is an update of Primal Scream’s acid-loving classic ‘Loaded’, weaving slow building beats into the kind of hypnotic 3am future classic made for getting wavy to, while ‘Pleasure’ is a Friendly Fires-esque banger, replete with cowbell and the whole shebang. If opener ‘Drugs’ is lacking in a little subtlety, then the unadulterated joy of nostalgic disco stomper ‘Back Then’ balances it out. But really, Formation’s greatest achievement is not just in making a floorfiller record with genuine variety and depth, but that ‘All The Powerful People’ sounds entirely, only like them. Ah Father Time, you clever old dog. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘On The Board’, ‘Pleasure’
Flitting between electro-pop and psych, ‘Everything Is Forgotten’ is a lithe, sinewy creature, by turns weighted and buoyant, half darkness and half shimmering light. The eerie ‘Ubu’ blends these elements in a slice of Alfred Jarre-inspired surrealism, with self-flagellating lyrics about tackling personal failure. It’s also absurdly danceable, as is the burst of psychedelic synth-pop that is opener ‘Drink Wine’. But there are some surprises. Hidden among the odd pop gems are more guitar-driven moments. Closing track ‘Schlager’ dives into synths wholeheartedly, creating an expansive, simmering finale. The record’s duality is clear here, too, as its dark lyrics directly contrast with the song’s title - a German term for lighthearted, kitsch pop. At its close, the message is clear; listen, think, respond... but don’t take things too seriously. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Ubu’ Pancake Day got a bit out of hand at Methyl Ethel HQ.
“Hey mate, need a lift?”
OUTSHINING THEIR OWN MYTH
Eternity, In Your Arms (Roadrunner)
On occasion, the myth can become more than the monster. Countless albums have been released in the past, shrouded in mystery and back-story, only to be lost when it comes to the music itself. The world that Creeper have managed to create, however - filled with missing men, creepy treasure hunts, ominous phone calls - has become the perfect stage on which their debut can play out. Musically, ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is the band’s strongest statement so far: a satisfyingly dramatic mix of Meatloaf, Bowie and punk rock, littered with paranoid whispers and creeping piano notes. From the darkness of opener ‘Black Rain’ comes the anthemic call of ‘Hiding With Boys’, the delicate precision of ‘Misery’, the euphoria of ‘I Choose To Live’. It’s a record that defines them as leaders of the rock pack, proving that there’s still a thrill in being able to dive into a dark, new world. Sure to ignite the adoration of a whole new generation, ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is Creeper both living up to the hype and outshining their own myth. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN ‘Poison Pens’, ‘Room 309’
TEMPLES Volcano (Heavenly recordings)
Like a perfect storm of analogue-produced Pink Floyd-isms and T.Rex sparkle, with debut album, ‘Sun Structures’, Temples’ home-crafted sonic wizardry found a quick home among musos and vintage-delvers alike. Where their debut painted the portrait of a band out of step with the modern world, crafting tracks in such obvious homage to their influences they could easily be lost relics from among them, ‘Volcano’ shows a group able to take these reference points and craft them in their own image. While the twinkling keys of opener and lead single ‘Certainty’ are effervescent in their space-age sparkle, they’re underpinned by the kind of crunchy, cranky bass line that gives the song an unexpected toughness. Elsewhere, the relentless pulse of rhythm section-led, mid-album highlight ‘Open Air’ is as straight up a banger as a band with a studio full of vintage synths can restrain themselves to. Sure, you’re unlikely to find a Stormzy sample buried within its midst, but Temples’ second statement shows that innovation and notable progress can still sound classic. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Mystery of Pop’, ‘Certainty’ The band’s Tom Warmsley spills on Temples’ explosive LP2. Words: Lisa Wright. Your debut ‘Sun Structures’ landed you a Top 10 album, loads of big gigs, widespread acclaim... where do you go next? Forward was the only idea we had, really. It was only maybe halfway through recording that we realised what direction the album was going. When you’re figuring out what to do next, it’s hard to work out what bits of your band’s identity you want to keep and to progress. And what was the upshot? We’ve left the reverb out and stopped having this big wash of sound across the whole record; now I think the songs serve themselves. Also lyrically, instead of just mood-boarding imagery, you can actually tell what a song’s about on first listen now which is a new concept for us. Rather than nice, poetic imagery to suit the sound, the songs are actually about something. That’s handy. What are they about, then? It’s about realising you’re not invincible. Maybe it’s a British thing to have really joyous music and underneath it to have some dark subjects, but I’ve always admired having tongue-in-cheek lyrics with some black comedy in there. The record has thoughts about everything: yourself, the world, being in the autumn of your 20s and realising you’re not going to live forever. We would never have written about death on ‘Sun Structures’ but that’s more where we’re at right now.
Q&A “And it was all yellooooooow.”
eee CHAZ BUNDICK MEETS THE MATTSON 2 Star Stuff
Chaz Bundick had settled into a comfort zone with 2015’s ‘What For?’. There was a palpable lack of new ideas and it was surprise collaborative mixtape ‘Samantha’ which followed that August that felt like the more vital of the two releases. Promisingly, he’s taken a step further in that same direction with ‘Star Stuff’, on which he’s teamed up with psych-jazz duo The Mattson 2. Not everything here comes off and when Chaz doesn’t quite dovetail with his collaborators, the results can be really jarring. Ultimately, though, he sounds rejuvenated on ‘Star Stuff’, and that bodes well for whatever he has lined up next. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘JBS’
eee JULIA HOLTER
In The Same Room
Cut at RAK Studios in London, ‘In the Same Room’ is a fascinating insight into the fluidity of Julia Holter’s approach to live music. ‘Feel You’, and ‘Silhouette’ are pretty faithful, but have a brightness and sharpness that feels like a rebuke to their ethereal studio blueprints. There’s a minimalism in places here that even ardent fans might find a touch disappointing, but in fairness, the whole point was to capture the sound of a band, still hot from the road, bringing that energy to the studio. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Betsy on the Roof’
ee ELECTRIC GUEST Plural
(Because Music / Downtown)
The follow-up to 2012 debut, ‘Mondo’, ‘Plural’ sees Electric Guest recruit talented pals like Justin from The Vaccines, Haim and Joanna Newsom to aid them in their (hopefully) mighty return. Asa’s vocals take the lead for the most part, directing the album through R&B-infused tracks that’d slide effortlessly into any indie ‘chill’ playlists - but lack the oomph to do much more. Where ‘Plural’ excels emotionally in places, it lacks life in others, a disappointing imbalance. (Samantha Daly) LISTEN: ‘Zero’ 69
THUNDERCAT drunk (Brainfeeder)
Bass-plunking virtuoso Thundercat trades haywire note-hopping for a more intoxicated haze of submerged lift-jazz on his suitably named ‘Drunk’. Certain moments – the bubbling ‘Them Changes,’ Kendrick Lamar’s no-fanfares guest spot – pop out as strokes of brilliance. There’s pure gold to be dredged, but a good trim of its more unremarkable moments wouldn’t go amiss either (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Them Changes’
In Mind (Domino)
After third album ‘Atlas’ proved a breakout record, the pressure was on for Real Estate. In an alternate timeline, its success could’ve prompted the band to go bigger on LP four. But Real Estate have found their niche, and they’re not about to leave it. ‘In Mind’ shows a band comfortably in their stride. In some ways, this is a good thing. Their soft-focus rock and vocal harmonies can be comforting, and tracks like ‘Stained Glass’ and ‘Two Arrows’ are calming and pastoral, with jangling guitar riffs that bring to mind sunshine and wide open spaces. With their personal lives in flux Real Estate seem to have doubled-down on the musically familiar. They’re at their best on ‘Serve The Song’, with its bubbling guitar intro and a sweet melody that belies its negative lyrics. But elsewhere the record seems to stall, as on ‘Same Sun’ and ‘White Light’. ‘In Mind’ is classic laidback Real Estate, and while there is comfort in the familiar, at times it can feel a little lax. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Serve The Song’
Martin Courtney tells us why Real Estate just aren’t chill, ‘Darling’. Words: David Zammit.
Matt Mondanile left last year to focus on Ducktails, and he’s been replaced by Julian Lynch on lead guitar. Was it difficult to adjust? They all came to my town because I’m the one with kids and stuff, so we rented a house for them and we got a practice space in an old high school. It was cool because my bandmates were my neighbours so I’d get up in the morning and walk over to their house and then we’d walk over to the school and spend all day learning songs. We were leaning towards doing the album as a four-piece but I had had a vague discussion with Julian and he said yes. We grew up with him – I’ve known him for as long as I’ve known Alex or Matt. You often finish the music before writing the lyrics for your songs. How does that process work? I think it’s probably pretty weird for the rest of the band because they’re hearing the vocal melody and the lyrics for the first time in the studio sometimes. As we’re recording the album they’re like, ‘OK, well, that totally changes things,’ and I’m like, ‘Sorry...’ But it always made sense to me.
CRAIG FINN We All Want The Same Things (Partisan)
‘We All Want The Same Things’ is Craig Finn’s most fully-realised collection to date, with hooks as the glittering vehicle for tales of a blighted American Midwest. On standouts, ‘Ninety Bucks’ and ‘God in Chicago’, his characters burn their insides with cheap vodka and move to sell leftover drugs amid hideous grief. It’s the right tone for the empire in decline – small tragedies hiding the big ones, small human triumphs in the face of the odds. (Geoff Nelson) LISTEN: ‘Ninety Bucks’ 70 diymag.com
You’ve really honed a unique sound. You’re often pigeonholed as ‘surf rock’ or ‘beach rock’ and the word ‘melancholy’ always seems to crop up. ‘Darling’, to me, is not that chill. It’s kind of fast and danceable. I don’t think people know what to do with us. We’re a guitar band but we never rock that hard or that much. It gets about as heavy as the Beatles ever got. There’s more to it than just relaxing but that doesn’t affect the way we approach making music.
Emperor of Sand
Mastodon are no strangers to the technical and highly conceptual, and with ‘Emperor of Sand’, they’re taking things another step further. While 2004 album ‘Leviathan’ may have set the bar with its insane retelling of Moby Dick, their latest fictional foray delves into the more expansive world of time, death and endless miles of desert. Unsurprisingly, their offerings are as brutal as ever; their insatiably metallic harmonies thrashing away, propelling the foreboding tales of the titular Emperor. Highly detailed and incredibly executed. It’s sorta just business as usual, then. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Roots Remain’
eee ALEXIS TAYLOR
Listen With(out) Piano
Last Place (30th Century)
Their time away fits nicely with their narrative. It’s as if they’ve woken up after years cut off from the world to find there’s nothing left. Now, Grandaddy sing into the void, drawn out ballads like ‘The Boat Is In The Barn’ and ‘This Is the Part’ washing over empty landscapes with the kind of melancholy and lethargic hopelessness that only comes with the end of the world. The underlying anxieties and hopelessness here are poignant, its mood swings and self-doubt offering a striking insight into the inner workings of a band who have always struggled. Unfortunately, this also collapses in on itself at times. It’s not always easy to love a record that doesn’t love itself. Sometimes it drags on, refusing to invent, refusing to accept that Granddady can be a band who actually make it. It’s a heartbreaking record and at times powerfully so, but it also shuns the listener, forcing them to a place where Grandaddy risk drifting once more into obscurity. (Henry Boon) LISTEN: ‘Way We Won’t’
Last year, Alexis Taylor released third solo album ‘Piano’, accompanying his voice only with keys. ‘Listen With(out) Piano’ sees eleven of his favourites responding to those songs. Ultimately, the listener’s ability to enjoy it as a standalone record will be heavily determined by their own individual tolerance for space-filled instrumental music. But as added accompaniment, some of the arrangements here really add to the emotional weight of Alexis’ personal stories. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Repair Man (Green Gartside Version)’
eee FRÀNÇOIS & THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS Solide Mirage (Domino)
Just like the idea of a ‘Solide Mirage’ is an unachievable oxymoron, so this is an album is filled with implausible contrasts. ‘Grand Dérèglement’ surprises with how accessible it is, while the jangly guitar breaks on ‘Perpétuel Été’ give edge to Owen Pallett’s lush string arrangements. There are even some tracks that don’t sound like Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains at all. ‘Âpres Après’ is full of staccato vocals and reverberating house beats and, if you can believe it, ‘Bête Morcelée’ is a sub-two minute grunge number. When ‘Solide Mirage’ eventually hits its mark though, it’s a firm step on the way to cementing a solid, humanist vision. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Âpres Après’, ‘Perpétuel Été’
JULIEN BAKER Sprained Ankle (Matador)
Since her debut’s US release towards the end of 2015, Julien Baker’s songs have been covered by Kevin Devine, Brand New’s Jesse Lacey and countless others. It’s not hard to see why she’s become that emo-indebted scene’s new darling - there’s every ounce of the same kind of emotion here, transmitted in its most raw, visceral forms. There isn’t much hope contained on ‘Sprained Ankle’ - and new addition ‘Funeral Pyre’ is, predictably, more of the same - but there’s a cutting, vital empathy and connection achieved here that few can conjure. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Everybody Does’
“I DON’T WANT TO WRITE A RELIGIOUS RECORD OR A PRAISE RECORD. THERE’S A C. S. LEWIS QUOTE THAT SAYS ‘I’M NOT LOOKING AT THE GOSPEL, I’M LOOKING AT EVERYTHING ELSE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPEL’.”
Things I’ve Never Said
On her debut full-length, it’s almost as if Frances is laughing in the face of expectations, opening with a vocal solo on ‘Don’t Worry About Me’. Although the album largely consists of raw, stripped-back numbers, there are pop touches on ‘Say It Again’ and the sunny, bouncy ‘No Matter’ that break up the record’s intensity, standing as a welcome breather from the almost overwhelming vulnerability that fuels the rest of it. (Samantha Daly) LISTEN: ‘Say It Again’ 71
Yoni Wolf’s health has understandably shaped the musical form of ‘Moh Lhean’, but he doesn’t wallow in it. Instead, in a move away from some of his more self-deprecating humour, he’s produced something much more languid and accepting. Similarly, he eschews caustic barbs for a sense of quiet reflection. Eventually, though, the melodies begin blurring into a fuzzy mass and become like a perpetual stream of consciousness flowing from his mind. It just would have been nice to have a little more variation buried within those meditative vibes. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Proactive Evolution’
eeee IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE Uyai (Merge)
You can get a fair idea of where Nigerian-born, Londonbased octet Ibibio Sound Machine’s heads are at on ‘Uyai’ within opening track ‘Give Me A Reason’. Sounding like a carnival update of Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’, shot through with Gary Numan synths and singer Eno Williams’ infectiously joyous vocal, it kicks off an album that’s characterised by being virtually uncharacterisable. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Joy (Idaresit)’
The Shins have their niche down to a t. With four albums across ten years, James Mercer and co have become a go-to name for romanticised indie. Returning five years after the big, bright ‘Port Of Morrow’, the frontman is more contemplative on ‘Heartworms’. While opener ‘Name For You’ is catchy, and highlight ‘Rubber Ballz’ is foot-stomping earworm, this album largely represents a loss of ambition. He’s not entirely to blame for such reservation, and the record largely exhibits what his band are known for and have done so well for a decade and a half, but with little of the same conviction. James spends a lot of time looking back on ‘Heartworms’ - the slow, contemplative ‘Mildenhall’ concerns the small Suffolk town where he once lived as a teen - and though it’s done with more than adequate results, the last time we saw The Shins, they were ready to shoot for the stars. It’s a shame that ambition seems to have gone missing. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Rubber Ballz’
eee JOHNNY FLYNN Sillion
It’s been four long years since Johnny Flynn last released an album. Since then he’s been plonking his fingers in a lot of pies. There’ve been TV roles and theatre - appearing alongside David Morrissey in ‘Hangmen’. It was during that latter project that Johnny’s fourth album ‘Sillion’ was conceived, a record mostly concerned with family and love of differing kinds, with life and connecting with nature. ‘Wandering Aengus’ is a Yeats-inspired piece of trumpet-covered beauty that sums up the record perfectly - peaceful, lush and well worth the wait. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Heart Sunk Hank’ 72 diymag.com
James Mercer’s been a busy boy since The Shins’ last outing. Interview: Will Richards. You’re back with a new album, ‘Heartworms’ - tell us about it. This album took a long time, due to having a baby, making an album with Broken Bells and all manner of other things, but it’s great to be back. This record spends a lot of time looking back and reflecting. You made your live return headlining End Of The Road last year - back in at the deep end, huh? I was so nervous driving down there! It’s always scary coming back after a break, but making the first show a headline set at a festival was crazy! It went really well though, and there were plenty of high-fives backstage afterwards. You’ve also been taking time to pursue things outside of music, we hear... Me and a friend have made an app! It’s a collage app called Pasted, which is kinda cool. It used facial recognition to cut out faces and paste them across photos. We eagerly await The Shins’ next album cover, then.
eeee BRITISH SEA POWER
Everybody Works (Polyvinyl/
Let The Dancers Inherit The
Jay Som is less a singer-songwriter-producer, but instead a chef who owns the farm and the restaurant. Every track on ‘Everybody Works’ comes out feeling completely free of anyone else’s fingerprints. ‘1 Billion Dogs’ packs so much frenetic urgency into less than three minutes that there isn’t even time for an intro. It’s simultaneously the most and least energetic cut here - and that’s before a Ty Segall-esque solo at the end takes a sledgehammer to the song’s loadbearing column and allows the whole thing to gloriously crumble. (Grant Rindner) LISTEN: ‘The Bus Song’
Party (Golden CharioT)
British Sea Power’s tenth LP isn’t a record built to challenge - in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Fuelled by an energy of discontent, the band have created a record that offers escape from the confusion. Rhythms echo anthemically throughout, urging ever onwards towards a bright new horizon. Jan Scott Wilkinson’s vocals sail with effortless grace, ringing clear with the promise of a smoother road ahead. It’s the sound of a band reinvigorated, inspired into action by the world around them - a feat this record nobly strives to achieve itself. (Jessica Goodman) LISTEN: ‘Keep On Trying’
eee SLEAFORD MODS
English Tapas (Rough Trade)
While ‘English Tapas’ might literally refer to a menu item at “some random pub” visited by Sleaford Mods’ buttonpresser Andrew Fearn, it’s a fitting title for an album that’s predominantly interested in dissecting and digesting various pockets of society. Everyone’s come across the hyper-masculine servicemen depicted in opener ‘Army Nights’, or felt the resentment of pissing your life away in a dead-end nine-to-five as per ‘Time Sands’. This feeling of recognition permeates the entirety of ‘English Tapas’, and is arguably what gives Sleaford Mods their appeal. And as long as people carry on being ignorant, complacent, or just fucking numb to what’s going on around them, you can guarantee that Sleaford Mods will carry on being the mouthpiece they’re not aware they need. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ‘Time Sands’
C O M I N G
...................UP THE BIG MOON Love In The 4th Dimension
With more lush 90s-esque indie sing-a-longs than you can shake a Super Soaker at, The Big Moon’s debut is gonna be jam-packed with smashers, guaranteed. It’s released 7th April.
Swear I’m Good At This
Bouncier than Tigger on a trampoline, who won’t be practising their best Alex Luciano-style high kicks to the New Yorkers’ debut? It’s out 7th April.
That’s Your Lot
With glorious singles ‘Let’s Pray’ and ‘Orthodox Man’ featuring, our oh-so-longawaited ‘lot’ might just be ‘enough, thanks’. Guess what? It’s also due on 7th April.
Missed the boat on the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
eeee JAY SOM
Menace Beach Lemon Memory
Heading to Ibiza to find themselves worked out magnificently for the Leeds band, who stuffed LP2 with as much fuzzy grunge as humanly possible.
Sundara Karma Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect
Future headliners ahoy? The Reading boys’ debut packs a literary-based punch, as killer choruses shake hands with lofty influences.
The perfect soundtrack to each Twitter reload revealing fresh hell (and a truckload of bangin’ riffs to boot). 73
You’re Not As _____ As You Think (Big Scary Monsters)
Infinite Worlds (Father/Daughter)
Growing up in Cameroon before moving to New York, Lætitia Tamko’s moniker is something a nod to her roving journey to now. As is Vagabon’s debut; ‘Infinite Worlds’ is a jumble of half-remembered snapshots and vague, blurry definitions of home, peppered with deft storytelling twists; “I’m sorry I lost your cat, it’s just that I was so damn mad,” proving a highlight. Witty and succinct, ‘Infinite Worlds’ builds hugely on the foundations of her sole EP ‘Persian Gardens,’ adding bite and beef to Vagabon’s diamond-edged songwriting. An outstanding treat of a debut. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Minneapolis’
eeee THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
Damage and Joy
By third track ‘All Things Must Pass’ The Jesus and Mary Chain are firmly back in their groove with a 90s alternative slice of inescapably catchy, just-raw-enoughto-keep-the-scowl attitude. Among cosy ballads with guests possessing achingly pretty voices, and uptempo fuzzy stomps, Jim Reid drapes his iconic snarl over William’s precise guitar lines and under varying waves of distortion and reverb. When Jim sings “I hate my brother and he hates me, that’s the way it’s supposed to be” with disarming aplomb it’s clear to see these constant provocateurs aren’t losing an icy distance just yet. ‘Damage and Joy’ still burns with purpose and when it throws its punches it lands them with ease. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘Simian Split’ 74 diymag.com
Sorority Noise have always strived to embody all of life in its heartwrenching complexity. From contemplations of loss and feeling lost to life-affirming declarations of resolution, it’s all there. With the release of third album ‘You’re Not As ___ As You Think’ the band take it to a whole new dynamic. Lead single and opening track ‘No Halo’ serves as a potent introduction, intimate reflection recounted along storming riffs and stadium-sized rhythms. It demonstrates the band at their boldest yet, but where Sorority Noise really shine here is through the songs that evolve to embody their every dynamic. The album’s most engaging moment arrives in ‘A Portrait Of’. Giving voice to anxieties and doubts only to shatter through them with a screaming crescendo of steadfast resolve, this is the sound of Sorority Noise at their strongest. “I’m not trying to say it’s easy, but I’m trying to say it’s fine,” Cameron Boucher sings in the track’s lingering refrain. Essentially that’s all the band want us to know. There might not be a simple answer, but with enough conviction the rocky road ahead might prove so perilous after all. (Jessica Goodman) LISTEN: ‘A Portrait Of’, ‘Disappeared’
We grill Cameron Boucher on the meaning behind those blank-etyblanks. Interview: Jessica Goodman What’s the meaning behind the album title? I don’t know where it came from. The idea of the blank, in my opinion, always levels you out. You can say ‘you’re not as sad as you think you are’ and you can say ‘you’re not as happy as you think you are.’ To put any word in there based on how you feel about the record is up to the person who is listening’s interpretation. What’s your strongest memory from recording? For ‘A Portrait Of’ I pretty much just went in the vocal room and was like, ‘give me one take, I want to say exactly how I feel.’ I just yelled about what was going on in my head. At the end of the song there’s no lyrics on the lyric sheet. I’m going to be changing that every time we play it, based on how I feel. If people were to take anything from the album, what would you want it to be? It doesn’t get better. You just get better at taking care of yourself and knowing what way to try and be the best person you can be.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
WITH PULLED APART BY HORSES’ TOM HUDSON
eee JARVIS COCKER & CHILLY GONZALES Room 29 (Deutsche
Chateau Marmont in Hollywood is a hotel of rock ’n’ roll legend. It’s little wonder that Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales wrote an entire concept record about one room inside it. Spoken word pieces and elevator sound effects sit side by side with piano-led tracks like ‘Clara’ and ‘Salome’. Lyrically, it swings between touching and bitterly funny. While it may not be a traditional pop album, ‘Room 29’ is well worth it. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Tearjerker’
Could you show us the group of ‘Flash Lads’ referenced in your new record?
What did the process of making ‘The Haze’ look like?
Can you draw where you went to record ‘The Haze’?
Q4 What did the inside of your brains look like when you made this album?
How do you feel when you’ve finished an album?
eeee BLANCK MASS
world eater (Sacred
Since forging his own lone path away from Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power has consistently delivered chunky slabs of grotesque electronica and shadowy experimentalism. Third LP, ‘World Eater’ speaks as a playful foretelling of the coming apocalypse, where trademark stormy synths meet glitchy samples in a chaotic collision. Like the evil twin of Clarence Clarity who joined a particularly nasty cult, it’s an engaging listen and a jarring template that perfectly captures a disquieted and uneasy era. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘Rhesus Negative’
PULLED APART BY HORSES the Haze (Caroline)
Exactly three minutes in to ‘The Haze’, Pulled Apart By Horses hit up on the searing formula for their best song since their absolutely vital self-titled debut. ‘The Big What If’ marks a truly enviable shard of thrashy rock sensibility, with an added dose of high intensity charm. Gritty and unmistakably British, with its song titles resembling some sort of transcript from a night at the pub - ‘Flash Lads’, ‘Neighbourhood Witch’ and ‘What’s Up Dude’. Like a mate that’s still telling the same stories, it’s easy to find yourself laughing along as ever and Pulled Apart By Horses rarely fail to offer something worth raising a glass to. They’re not boasting rock and roll’s supermodel aesthetic for sure, but it doesn’t mean a lot of people wont fall in love with that scruffy rock band next door. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘The Big What If’, ‘Flash Lads’ 75
STAND UP, TAKE A BOW
Two Door Cinema Club + Sundara Karma
Old hands Two Door have had Sundara Karma on the road with them the whole tour, so what better time to find out if ‘This is the Life’ or there’ve been a few ‘Bad Decisions’.
Alexandra Palace, London. Photos: Emma Swann.
discernible carnival atmosphere spreads through the iconic British venue hours before Two Door Cinema Club take to the stage, with hordes of iPhone-wielding teenagers chanting melodies and sipping ciders in Alexandra Palace’s vast hall. An electrifying support slot is first provided by Sundara Karma. The Reading band take to the occasion brilliantly, playing with glammed-up Britpop pomp as they tear through a short set of rousing choruses and roaring guitars. As Two Door Cinema Club arrive on stage, the room immediately descends into indie-disco paradise with a one-two punch of ‘Cigarettes in the Theatre’ and ‘Undercover Martyn’. It’s a decidedly energetic start, but the band quickly prove they’ve got guitar-pop classics to spare as they rip through ‘Changing of the Seasons’ and ‘Bad Decisions’ in a spectacular first half. Some cuts from recent third LP ‘Gameshow’ fall a little flat on occasion, but the roar that greets recent single ‘Are We Ready (Wreck)’ proves the band haven’t lost their touch. Inevitable closer ‘What You Know’ is the sure-fire highlight, however, and it’s rapturously received by an audience whose eyes remained transfixed on frontman Alex Trimble throughout. (Dan Jeakins)
Nice jazz hands, Osc.
How has the tour gone so far? got our first album when they Two Door Cinema Club: It’s were like 12 are coming to see been great. We didn’t know us play. Aside from making us what to expect as it’d been four feel very old it’s very humbling years since our last UK tour. The when you speak to people after crowds have been amazing the show who got our records though. I think we have all been as young teens. It reminds me of very pleasantly surprised. the records I got into at that age Sundara Karma: Splendid. A and how important bands at nice bunch of people wanting that age were for me. It’s crazy! to have a nice time. Apart from a sucky flu infiltrating the Sundara Karma, are you camp, morale has been high. getting used to these massive venues now? Are you now fullyNo not at all! It was a bit fledged touring BFFs? terrifying for some shows. TDCC: It’s been a really fun I think I’m afraid of large atmosphere on tour. No drama spaces, like the opposite or divas. Both Sundara and to claustrophobic. Most of Anteros are great live bands and the time it was a right laugh lovely people. It’s nice having a though, we had mosh pits at few more people around for a every show which support chat over dinner or a beer after bands don’t tend to get. the show. SK: After a round of ‘never What have been your have I ever’ and an endless highlights so far? supply of drink we got very TDCC: I think Leeds on a cosy indeed. At the afterparty Monday night was way beyond of the last show Haydn ended any of our expectations. up taking his top off on the It was a pleasure playing the dance floor so some people two nights in Manchester will naturally feel closer to and Glasgow too. Getting him as they’ve witnessed to spend a whole weekend his tiny nipples first hand. in those cities was lovely. We got to stick around and Any annoying habits watch Manchester United spotted along the way? play too which was great! TDCC: I think we’ve done the SK: Yeah, Leeds was a really tour bus thing enough to all be good show. We had a good time pretty aware of each other. I feel playing Ally Pally and smashed like most annoying habits on ‘Sleazy’s’ in Glasgow. And of a bus revolve around leaving course the tour catering! Jesus clothes and bags everywhere we miss it. All our love to Steph, but luckily we had a bit more she was a real sweetheart. space on our bus this time around. …and any lowlights? SK: There’ve definitely been TDCC: The train ride from annoying situations like bed Manchester to Leeds post wetting and foul language. match. Packed train with a giant There’s no need for it. suitcase in full winter clothes. SK: Nah. But another thing that Two Door, is it cool rewas amazing is that we all got connecting with fans new guitars from Fender and after your time away? feel proper legitimate and sexy. Yeah. It’s been a shock as to how young our fan base is. The Let us in on a tour in-joke. front is full of 16-18 year olds. TDCC: “YOU NEED TO It’s amazing now that kids who SORT OUT YOUR SHIT.” 77
Catholic Action +Swimming Girls + Calva Louise The Roundhouse, London. Photos: Emma Swann.
he Roundhouse may have its name for hosting an eyewateringly illustrious list of artists, from Bowie, Ramones and The Clash in years gone by to the pop behemoths slumming it as part of Apple’s annual takeover, but each spring, its smaller spaces come to life for Roundhouse Rising, a week-long celebration of the upcoming. Tonight at the 150-capacity Sackler Space, London-based openers Calva Louise are case in point: the night’s compere points out they’re almost a ‘house’ band, making “daily” use of the venue’s practice spaces. It’s time that’s paid off. Not only are they near-impossibly tight while taking most of their cues from fast-tempo US punk (think Dead Kennedys rather than Ramones), frontwoman Jess Allanic’s surf-rock guitar solos are pin-precise. Bristol-based Swimming Girls then take things down a notch,
over the legendary Roundhouse Rising takes ds to spare. ban new h wit ue London ven
their atmospheric synth-pop coating the Sackler Space in a syrupy sweet haze, as they pummel through their expansive anthems-in-waiting leaving the room in a near-hypnotic trance.
One enthusiastic audience member might yell for ‘Rita Ora’ between every song until the single is played, but there’s more to Catholic Action’s arsenal than celebrity odes. Part Franz Ferdinand post-punk disco (yes, they’re from Glasgow, we know), part glam rock stomp, when frontman Chris McCrory isn’t flinging his shoulderlength hair across the stage, he’s jamming in unison with guitarist Andrew MacPherson. There’s the immediate ‘Breakfast’, the expansive ‘Stars and Stripes’, but it’s closer ‘L.U.V’ that’s the cherry on their short-butsweet headline set. (Emma Swann)
VANT + Sälen + Tom Grennan + Isaiah Dreads
onsidering it’s a bitterly cold Monday evening, tonight’s Roundhouse Rising does a bloody good job of thawing everybody out. With everything from grime to punk, the Sackler Space gives us a glimpse at British music’s future in all its glory. The night kicks off with thunderous beats thanks to Isaiah Dreads’ mix of grime and hip hop, before Bedford’s Tom Grennan and his gravelly voice. With songs of love, heartbreak and soul-searching Tom carries it all alongside his cheeky chap demeanour, even throwing the occasional chuckle into his post-song silence Londoners Sälen then mellow things out with their airy, melodic synth pop creating enough heat to cure any Monday blues.
Headliners VANT round off the evening with a flurry of riffs and righteous rock - even when frontman Mattie Vant’s mic decided it didn’t want to play ball. The band hammer through a selection of cuts from forthcoming debut ‘Dumb Blood’, and while the singles stand tall, it’s the lesser-known numbers that give testament to the strength of their songwriting, like ‘Lampoon’, a riotous screamer that shows the force VANT have behind their larger message. (Steven Loftin)
THE TWIST American Football
Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London. Photo: Jonathan Dadds. When American Football released their debut in 1999, they never expected they’d find themselves here. Seventeen years down the line, on a stage in London, performing in front of 2000 people, the stalwart champions of emo stand strong. But tonight is anything but a nostalgia trip. Against a backdrop of their second album artwork, an open door inside that iconic house, American Football welcome the crowd into their world.
Playing their second self-titled record in its entirety, the venue is resplendent in the celebration of the moment. ‘I’ve Been Lost For So Long’ stands out, the song’s melodic cries of desperation and confusion leaving the room aglow in appreciation. The angular refrains of ‘Desire Gets In The Way’ lace the air with energy, while the twinkling lament of ‘Everyone Is Dressed Up’ draws a definitive line through the night as the band exit the stage. They may have been apart for longer than they’ve been together, but in front of a crowd singing back the words that have spoken to so many for so long, their enduring appeal is one it’s impossible to tear away from. (Jessica Goodman)
“Free clogs?! I’m on my way!”
LI VE SLøTFACE
Less Eurotrash, more Euro-SMASH. declan mckenna
Various venues, Gtroningen. Photos: Emma Swann.
ettling into the new year with an annual celebration of all things bright and exciting in music, not even the snowfall can dampen the enthusiasm that floods Groningen’s cobbled streets. Much like The Great Escape and SXSW, Eurosonic Noorderslag offers the dual purpose of being an opportunity and a platform for new artists to break across international scenes - that, and it’s god damn fun. Presenting straight up feel good pop with synchronised dance moves to boot, Ekkah were always going to impress. Near impossibly contagious and upbeat, there’s no better way to get the party in full swing. Across town, Goat Girl deliver their garage rock without fanfare or occasion simply great rock ’n’ roll with a swaggering attitude that leaves the crowd awed. Declan McKenna has been gracing ‘ones to watch’ lists for a while now, but from the moment the eighteen year old picks up his guitar and starts to play there’s every sense he’s already arrived. Dropping his guitar to dance around the stage front, Declan
brings the energy in the room to full flow, free-wheeling into set closer ‘Brazil’ and met with nothing short of adoration. Meanwhile, The Magic Gang’s performance shows off the band at their best. The industry-heavy crowd’s a fair stretch from the screaming waves of excitement that often greets the band in the UK, but it allows the group to shine in a new way. From the slacker pop of ‘Alright’ to the bubbling melodies of ‘All This Way’ and beyond, The Magic Gang bop around on stage with more spirit than ever. Opening with ‘Take Me Dancing’ while a queue snakes and shakes its way down the street in the hope they might still make it inside, Sløtface arrive on the stage as champions. Storming pop-punk riffs and catchy choruses squirm their way under the skin and grab the venue hook, line, and sinker. It might have been cold, and raining, with bursts of snowfall and chillingly strong winds, but with a soundtrack as strong and varied as this, what more need a person ask for? (Jessica Goodman)
the magic gang
LI VE 81
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It’s Your Round , Doe Nicola Leel £5.00 Craft Lager. Cost: Drink: Renegade London Pub: Shillibeers,
Chosen subject: ALIEN FILM FRANCHISE What year was the first Alien film, ‘Alien’, released? 1979! Correct There’s a new Alien film out this year - what’s it called? Aaaagh. Alien…. Covenant? Correct! What’s the tagline of the second Alien film, ‘Aliens’? It’s “This Time It’s…” something! We’ll have to rush you…
....War? This Time It’s War is correct! What’s the name of the ship’s computer in the first film? It’s Mother? Yeah? Correct! What’s Ripley’s cat’s name? Jones! Correct! A full house!
General Knowledge A car registration with Who was the first man to the letter E is from which urinate on the moon? country? Trick question - nobody Oh god, uh, Denmark? landed on the moon! Incorrect - it’s Spain. It was Buzz Aldrin! A ‘caravan’ is a group of which animals? Oh, I have no idea! Let’s say, Camels? Amazingly, that’s correct! If a person is anosmic, they have no sense of what? Smell? Correct! Is it actually? I’m killing this!
What’s the name of the patient in the game Operation? It’s a man...Frederick? It’s actually - and absolutely fair enough for getting this wrong - Cavity Sam.
SCORE 7/10 Really Doe, that’s not a bad effort from Nicola, despite a bit of notentirely-legal conferring with her bandmates. Verdict: ‘Not too shabby’
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