s et mu s ic fr e e free / is s ue 7 3 / April 2 018 diymag .com
NEVER SAY DIE Inside Chvrchesâ€™ New York Minute
A P R I L 2 0 1 8 Lauren’s gone all cross-eyed.
GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
HAD A DANCE TOGETHER! I’m not ok. Founding Editor EVIL This is my last GOOD Spending a whole issue as DIY’s Features 42 hours in NYC pre-SXSW Editor - it’s been an ace (have I mentioned how half-decade of trying to it’s my favourite city smuggle as many bad before? Ahem.) puns, gay icons, and pop EVIL Jet lag. stars as possible into this .............................. magazine, and I’ll miss it Lisa Wright very, very much. Senior Staff Writer ............................. GOOD Had a right ol’ LOuise Mason time in Texas popping Art Director my SXSW cherry. Shout GOOD Doing a shoot out to the Uber driver in God’s Own Junkyard who stopped for a full after years of begging half hour at 3am while we Walthamstow’s very own got tacos. New York City. EVIL Sincere apologies EVIL Not going to the to whoever’s actual actual, traditional New prescription specs I stole York City. at some point during the ............................. above. In my defence, Will Richards they corrected my pissed Digital Editor double vision perfectly. GOOD Said goodbye ............................. to Wild Beasts at their el hunt glorious final show at Features Editor Hammersmith Apollo. GOOD Janelle Monáe EVIL Not going to deny seized me by the collar it, a tear or three were during a performance of shed. ‘Make Me Feel’ and WE
EDITOR’S LET TER Since they first burst into life with their gorgeous brand of prismatic synth-pop back in 2012, our cover stars Chvrches have been a firm fave for us here at DIY. After hearing their latest album, it’s no surprise as to why. Not only are the trio growing ever more powerful musically as time goes by, but on ‘Love Is Dead’, they prove themselves to be an even more vital voice for our generation. Elsewhere in this issue, we pack our cases and head to Austin for this year’s SXSW, catch up with Class of 2018-ers Goat Girl ahead of their disarming debut and find out exactly what’s been going on with Years & Years as they get ready to invite us into Palo Santo (spoiler alert: Olly’s bought a new mattress…) Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor GOOD Getting to see Frightened Rabbit play ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ in full this month was pretty darn special. EVIL If it snows one more bloody time this year, well I oughta…
W h at ’ s b e e n t i c k l i n g t h e DIY team’s eardrums this month? chvrches - ‘love is dead’
Our cover stars release their third album next month, and you’ll be pleased to learn it’s a certified smash, taking their propulsive synthpop to new heights. All aboard the banger bus. courtney barnett - ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’
Spearheaded by brilliant first single ‘Nameless Faceless’, C-Bar’s second album takes the singer’s witty, sarcastic, fantastic storytelling to a whole new level.
bloc party - ‘silent alarm’
With the band announcing they’re taking this out on a European tour, we’ve inevitably given the 2005 classic a good few spins at DIY HQ this month. Unsurprisingly, it still sounds wonderful.
C O N NEWS
6 YEARS & YEARS 12 IDLES 14 TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB 16 COURTNEY BARNETT 18 CLASS OF 2018 TOUR 2 0 H A L L O F FA M E 2 4 F E S T I VA L S
28 ANTEROS 30 A HOUSE IN THE TREES 35 SOFI TUKKER
36 CHVRCHES 4 4 G OAT G I R L 48 SXSW 5 4 S PE E DY ORT I Z 5 8 U N K N OW N M O R TA L ORCHESTRA
62 ALBUMS 76 LIVE
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor El Hunt Digital Editor Will Richards Senior Staff Writer Lisa Wright Staff Writer Eugenie Johnson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Alex Cabré, Cady Siregar, Chris Taylor, Dave Beech, Ellen PeirsonHagger, James Bentley, Jessica Goodman, Matthew Hogarth, Rhian Daly. Photographers Aidan Wyldbore, Ellen Offredy, James Drew Turner, James Kelly, Jenn Five, Katy Cummings, Lindsay Melbourne, Nathan Barnes, Patrick Gunning, Phil Smithies, Pooneh Ghana. Cover photo and this page: Phil Smithies. 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 HQ, 23 Tileyard Studios, London N7 9AH Shout out to: Babak Ganjei for the pictures, Cadbury’s Mini Eggs for your continued deliciousness in times of need, Casper and P-C @ SXSW, Espero Studio, God’s Own Junkyard, Leo the cocker spaniel :heart:, Marshall Amps, Meesh Bryant for literally saving our asses, and an extra special thanks for nothing to the Uber Eats driver who threw El’s milkshake in a skip in a fit of rage.
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.
Ne ws Somebody’s been paying attention to Harry Styles’ suit collection…
Holy Wood Planet
Returning with the outstanding ‘Sanctify’ and beamed straight from your new favourite planet Palo Santo,
Years & Years are back to smuggle pop filth into the mainstream. Words: El Hunt.
o you remember exactly where you were when you first saw the video marking Years & Years’ gigantic return? Here at DIY HQ, we bloody well do; in fact we pressed pause on the entire day and gathered around a single desk to watch ‘Sanctify’ in the eager manner that yer nan might’ve watched the moon landing back in the day, gasping with shock at the moment that Olly Alexander - complete with a BDSM-nodding metal collar - strolls up to the sweeping neon landscape of Palo Santo: a genderless, android-ruled dystopia from several thousand years in the future. And don’t even get us started on the chair-grinding dance routine that takes place later on in the video... To be frank, the build up to ‘Sanctify’, and Years & Years’ return as a whole - which, among other things, included bouts of code-breaking, alien communications, a brand new red hairdo for Olly, and Emre Türkmen playing a newsreader - has been fully fucking ridiculous to witness, in the same way that Britney’s snake-brandishing ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’ or Rihanna’s ‘Loud’ era left the pop world reeling. And like many of his biggest heroes (just take a look at the lyrics for Christina Aguilera’s ‘Genie In A Bottle’ or Brit’s aforementioned outing to get the idea) Olly Alexander’s obsessed with using giant, danceable pop gold as a covert vehicle for sexual, subversive exploration. It’s this darkness, after all, that makes music human.
“I think pop music can be like a Trojan horse,” agrees Olly, who has been spending his morning so far - in typical rock ‘n’ roll fashion - at home taking delivery of a new memory foam mattress. These pop stars, eh? “You can infiltrate the masses with your freaky agenda!” he enthuses. “There’s a tension between something that’s really playful, that you can dance to, and sing along to, but actually, it has quite a deep, or even a subversive meaning. I think, having agency over my own sexuality and how I present that is really fun,” he adds. “I get a thrill out of it. I can’t believe that Radio 1 is playing this song I wrote, that’s about - to me - explicit references to men having sex with other men. I find that funny,” he concludes with a gleeful cackle. “I love to hear that in pop music.”
experiences. I know that this happens to a lot of queer people, and it keeps happening to me, so I’m gonna write a song about it. It’s surprising how much hearing that narrative is relatable, no matter what sexuality you are, y’know?” he says. “It is super important to me, to keep doing that. I have a really amazing opportunity in pop music to do that, so, I’m gon’ do it!”
Though these themes aren’t treading entirely new territory for Years & Years - ‘King’ ‘Worship’ and ‘Desire’ from the debut touched on similarly-leaning ideas - things are a lot bolder this time around. Just look at the bonkers universe, Palo Santo (translating to holy wood in English, and yes, hoots Olly, that is a penis reference) that they’ve created. In part, he was emboldened by the hugely positive response to his emotional Pride weekend Glastonbury performance, along with the experience of making a documentary Alexander - ‘Growing Up Gay’ - for the BBC. It’s made him all the more confident approaching this new era of Years & Years.
“I think pop music can be like a Trojan horse.”
A song that picks apart his own encounters with - Olly straight-identifying men who experiment behind closed doors - packing in religious symbolism like Madonna at her finest, and grappling with the complexities of desire ‘Sanctify’ seizes the power back from other, more problematic songs (*cough* ‘I Kissed A Girl’ by Katy Perry *cough*) which treat sexuality as a mere punchline. It’s a powerful, bold return, and very much emblematic of what else Years & Years have planned, apparently. “I see the world through my own queer eyes,” Olly says. “This whole second album,” he adds, our collective ears pricking up at the mention of a new record, “when I was writing songs, I felt like I needed to actually go to some places that maybe I’d been hesitant to go to before. I think what’s special about music is hearing people’s voices and
Up To Speed Olly, what’s been going on with Years & Years? Oh no, are you concerned?! We’re all well. Emre got married, Mikey got engaged, so they’re all about to settle down and have kids, probably. And I’ve gone the opposite way. I’ve been single for the last 18 months, and I’ve just been throwing myself at unavailable men. Not really much of a change, really. And then, we’ve also been making an album. That’s what’s going on. I’ve spent the last 18 months thinking about this all day, every day. I don’t know what I’ll do with myself now! 8 diymag.com
“I was finding my feet as a person who suddenly got a platform, and I found that engaging with activism, I s’pose, with regards to equality, and LGBTQ equality, felt really meaningful. It felt meaningful to speak out on that topic. It was a discovery, because I didn’t really know it was something I had within me,” he admits. “It’s pushed me to make stuff that I really love. I’m so proud of the first album, and I love all those songs, but this time it feels like more...” he ponders. “I feel happier with everything. I’ve put more of myself into it. It feels good.” diy
S P OT T E D Believe it or not, pop and rock stars sometimes do normal things, too. They get lost, go food shopping, and catch buses – all sorts. This month, we clocked a fair few of them roaming around…
GIRLI trying (and failing) to skateboard through fairly deep snow in Nunhead cemetery. Dom from Superfood having a watch of Rex Orange County at his KOKO show. All of Pale Waves watching Class of 2018 pals Our Girl at our stage at SXSW. Ben Blaenavon getting his sad boy act on at Bon Iver at Hammersmith.
Position of the Month: The emergency exits are located… First Executed By: Olly Alexander
aking An Entrance’ is an art that few of us mere mortals have managed to perfect, and it’s best left to the pop professionals (see: Lady Gaga bursting out of an egg, Rihanna entering an awards ceremony via an actual bloody helicopter). The nearest we can hope to get in everyday life is that once in a blue moon instance where you manage to slide effortlessly onto a departing train by channelling Lara Croft in combat mode before the doors slam shut. Without the resources needed to acquire very expensive props required for a dramatic entrance, we should be taking inspiration from Olly Alexander’s method of ‘Making An Exit’ instead. Though the dystopian bondage collars and mesh vests are obviously optional investments, the sultry backwards stair moonwalk is absolutely compulsory. We’re not really
This DOES impress us much - here’s Shania Twain, an incredible pink kaftan, and some excellent dogs. (@shaniatwain)
sure how Olly makes walking up stairs BACKWARDS! - so effortless in the ‘Sanctify’ video, tbh, but it’s definitely worth risking minor injury and giving it a go.
WHAT A LEDGE this month: ANTONI FROM QUEER EYE To give a quick recap for anybody who hasn’t watched Queer Eye yet, the basic premise is this: a hapless and unfashionable man is rescued from despair by a team of gay men named ‘The Fab Five’. Each episode, they sensitively improve his wardrobe, teach him cookery skills, introduce a beauty regime, and then revamp his ENTIRE HOME with utmost taste. It’s the most wholesome, heartwarming thing
These days, even yer gran is posting selfies on Instagram. Instagran, more like. Everyone has it now, including all our fave bands. Here’s a brief catch-up on music’s finest phototaking action as of late.
on TV. Causing quite a stir is ‘food and wine expert’ Antoni. Skilled in whipping up a cheeky bowl of Queso Fundido at a moment’s notice, and smashing up his beloved avocados with raunchy abandon, he’s got us a little hot under the collar here at DIY. Chopping up vegetables to the tender warbles of The National on his Instagram stories, and repping The Strokes on multiple occasions - forget services to cookery; Antoni is literally the definition of Indie Dreamboat.
Continuing this month’s accidental theme, here’s Shame, and some adorable piglets. (@shame)
And finally, here’s Rae Morris with actual Animal from The Muppets. (@rae_morris)
“This Album is About a O Resistant Joy and a Defiance of Love.”
n last year’s debut ‘Brutalism’, Bristol punks IDLES marked themselves out as a vital new voice with a searing line in sheer, gut-punching humanity. Raw and emotional, sarcastic and funny, their blistering bullets of noise were torn straight from singer Joe Talbot’s own turbulent life story and it was this unflinching openness that earned the band a rapidly increasing fanbase and critical plaudits across the board. Packing out every show along the way (their April gig at London’s Heaven sold out months in advance), it’s with no small level of anticipation that they now head towards album two. And on LP2, Joe looks to be dredging even closer to the bone, drawing from the most open of wounds to craft a record born of the utmost pain but filled with an equally resilient sense of hope. It’s an album that seems set to push their empathetic glut of emotional honesty to its limits and one that should see their increasing legion of fans swell in tandem.
Less than a year after the release of ‘Brutalism’,
as-yet-untitled new record is now finished, bar some final mixing and mastering, and set for release later this year. Frontman Joe Talbot tells us more. Interview: Lisa Wright.
Joe was resorting to drastic measures to deal with his bandmates’ constant farting.
You’ve mentioned that you had a concept in mind going into the second album – what was that? People always have this second album syndrome and I was suffering from that – instead of writing, I was thinking about what to write. So I wanted to explore the idea of the second album and renaissance, a rebirth of ideas. As a band we completely changed and evolved from the first album because it was way more successful than we thought it was going to be and we got better as musicians because we played live way more than we expected. There are lots of things that I wanted to use, and then I realised it was bullshit and no-one fucking wants to hear [it]. I realised I was half a writer when I’m thinking about writing. I imitate what I think is supposed to be me instead of just being me, so I scrapped all that and came up with a new concept and it was much more fluid, and much more honest and I’m very excited about it.
giving you feedback and reactions and disagreeing with you and that’s why you do it. So that’s fucking perfect, yeah. It’s been enlightening, strengthening. It makes you feel safer in the world to be more open because it’s about realising you’re not alone. Their opinions and stories are just as important as mine, so those communities that are built are enlightening. It’s fucking cool. The songs are almost the key to the door to opening up a bigger discussion about what’s going on. Would you say it’s a hopeful record? It’s very hopeful, but this isn’t about my personal dilemma now. This is about us using our art as an allegorical thing, where we can go beyond the little, selfish bursts of emotion and onto something [greater]. We’ve got a bigger platform now, and I want to make something so visceral and honest and brave in my infantile approach to lyricism that there’s no fanciful bullshit in it. It’s a straight-up attack of words to show people that you can beat the fuckers by just listening to each other and loving each other. It’s simple. There are songs in there that are obviously about me and what I’ve been through in different ways, but it’s not about me now.
Were you struggling because of a need to keep the momentum from ‘Brutalism’ going? Initially there was pressure, and that’s negative energy. If you listen to compliments then you become inflated. What you are is continuous – I’m not suddenly a better musician because someone’s told me, I’m [still] what I was before. It doesn’t Does that translate to a wider political context? matter what people think about your album in the sense of an The colour of our nation is a lot darker than it is before. We’re analytical thing; that’s not why you do it. You don’t do it to be in a much worse place than when we wrote ‘Brutalism’. I was told your value. You do it because you love making music or in a much worse place personally when I wrote this second writing a diary or being album. It’s about finding the light in that and cathartic. That album was working together to beat it, and you can. You’ve about grief and it helped just got to stop throwing stones at the opposition Tell us about the new us become a better band and start uniting and listening. Brexit happened and it helped me get because of mudslinging and not listening to idea behind the record over a death, so that’s each other and just fucking blaming things on It’s a new kind of grief. The first album what it was about. And immigrants. The left are completely dissatisfied was much more about catharsis and as soon as you remember with each other because they’re all on Facebook explosive, visceral emotion and this that and go back to that labelling things instead of going out there and one is about channelling a different again, you realise that all listening to the opposition. Instead of throwing kind of grief that’s about progressing the accolades in between stones and saying ‘you’re a fucking stupid racist’, as a person and learning from are just meaningless. you should sit back and ask ’why are you so angry pain, loving yourself and helping and afraid of immigrants? What’s going on? What’s other people and yourself through You’ve cultivated a real in your life that makes you that way?’ community and listening to people. community from that record though, which The frustrations of existential dread or happiness My daughter died in June, so I had must feel good. or whatever are always allegorical to your political to deal with that. It’s very different, It’s about opening up state because both are exactly the same thing. It’s it’s a much more violent grief and discussion about how about feeling safe, feeling warm, feeling fed. It’s something that will either break you or you think and feel about like A-Level philosophy that I lean on. It’s really make you stronger. My mum dying was the world around you, simple writing and it seems basic but I’ve only got different, she was dying for at least a and your ‘fans’ as it three and a half minutes to get my point across year before [it happened] so it wasn’t were are the with every song and I’m not gonna sit there and a car crash of an event. Whereas this people write a bunch of Morrissey lyrics. I’m a flowery man, was different and I had to be a lot more who but in a different way. So I think if I talk of vignettes reliant on my friends and my partner. are of personal anguish and use them as a stepping There was a shared grief and I realised stone towards bigger issues then it allows people that community around you is the most to relate to me because they see themselves in me. important thing you have because They see my imperfections, they see this broken when you’re weakened you have to person and they think ‘well, I’m a broken person rely on other people. This album is too’ and that’s cool because then if we’re all in a about a resistant joy and a defiance place where we feel broken and lost, then why of love. Rather than just screaming at don’t we discuss this and try and move forwards as the world, it’s about going, well this a community? When communities move forwards, world isn’t going to stop spinning for then things change. me. How can I become a better person to myself and the people around me Idles’ second album is due out this year via through being compassionate and Partisan Records. DIY listening to opposition as well as just to ourselves? I think it’s a universal Idles are appearing at Live at Leeds, Liverpool Sound thing that can be learnt, and I think it’s City, Rock Werchter and Bestival this year. Head to very important that we speak that. diymag.com for details. 13
What’s Going On With…
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB Back in 2016, Two Door Cinema Club came blazing back into view after three years of silence. What followed was new album ‘Gameshow’, and reams of celebratory gigs across the world. Newly invigorated, and packed with ideas, they’re now at work on the followup, Alex Trimble tells El Hunt. Photo: Katy Cummings. It’s been a while now since you put out ‘Gameshow’. Are you beginning to think about the follow up? Absolutely. After taking the break and getting back into the studio, we all realised how much we missed it, and so right from that moment we knew we wouldn’t be taking that kind of break again; at least not for some time. As soon as touring finished on this record [‘Gameshow’] in early October last year, it was straight onto thinking about what we were going to do next. We were writing on the road, and getting bits and pieces, but work has really begun now. We’re in and out of the studio playing around with ideas, putting songs together. It’s starting
to form into something. Whatever it is, I don’t know yet, but we’re getting ready. That’s for sure. Do you find that you’re never really sure what you’re creating until it’s finished? It never becomes clear until it’s done, and sitting in front of you. We put our records together in the studio, because with being on tour for such long periods, we don’t really get that chance to road-test new music. With the schedule, it’s hard to rehearse and bring out. In the studio everything’s very open, and we can kind of do what we want, and go anywhere. It does remain an unknown until it’s down there on tape. Then we’ll bring it onto the stage. Is that far off, now? Do you reckon you’ll play a few newbies at festivals this summer? I would really like to hope so. If we don’t get stuff ready by then, then something’s going wrong. I’m very excited about what’s already being recorded and written, so we’re just developing it right now. We’re thinking about how to finish them!
DIY’S PICK OF
LNSOURCE 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.
10th April, The Flapper, Birmingham / 13th April, Borderline, London To say the Brighton-based trio smashed it with second album ‘Holy Doom’ would be an understatement: all massive riffs and propulsive rhythm, it takes Spinal Tap’s ‘up to eleven’ trope and runs with it, in ‘70s shades. They’re bringing it to a very sweaty live arena this month, including these dates in London and Birmingham.
From mid-April, nationwide With the first half of a new album due in May - the follow-up to debut ‘Silhouettes’ - Lake District duo Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher play a short string of UK dates following a brief European tour.
COLUMBIA MILLS From late-April, nationwide Named after a building in Dublin’s quayside famous for hosting raves in the ‘90s, the Irish band make their UK debut this month, having released debut album ‘A Safe Distance To Watch’ back in November. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource 14 diymag.com
AN YT H I NG BUT... Wi th : COURTNEY BARNETT
Courtney’s other talent - a spot on impression of the ‘thinking face’ emoji.
get to know some of your favourite acts - without a word spoken about the music.
Interview: El Hunt. Photo: Phil Smithies.
Do you have a secret hobby that nobody knows about? My secret hobby? Lots of art stuff I guess, but that’s all out there. We do have this warehouse that we run Milk! Records from, and I also use it as a rehearsal space. I’ve become so handy in there, I made myself a little desk which was nice. I got a good electric drill, which seems like it can fix anything. If you need a shelf, if you need a hook to hang things on and keep everything tidy… I’m real into making things lately. I’m making a nice bench for a table at the moment. It’s fun. Would you ever try to emulate the woodworking live-stream Frank Ocean did before releasing ‘Endless’, then? Maybe? It was cool, so… maybe. Do you like playing board games? Yeah! Me and Jen [Cloher, Courtney’s girlfriend] love playing Scrabble. We have a couple of other ones, too. There’s this game called Nouns. It’s a game with about a hundred different names everyone knows it as something different. Sushi Go and Roll For It, too. We play a lot of board games but Scrabble is my favourite. I’m not great at it, though. What’s your signature dish? I’m not a very good cook, but Jen is a really good 16 diymag.com
cook, so I just help her. We make really nice things, y’know kidney beans and rice, stir fry veggies with brown rice, things like that. Do you have a favourite season? Spring, because it’s my birthday then! Being Australian, you’re well accustomed with spiders, snakes, and all the other horrible venomous and deadly creatures that live there. But what’s been your closest brush with a dangerous animal that actually scared you? We went to Kakadu National Park, where there’s heaps of crocodiles. I didn’t want to swim in the water-holes, because everyone warned us there were crocs in there, but this one place was apparently safe. We went swimming, and then about two months later someone told us they pulled a saltwater crocodile out of that hole we were swimming in, and it would’ve been in there when we were there. Saltwater are the biggest, most dangerous ones. I didn’t see it, but it was there. Pretty intense. DIY
THINK YOU CAN HANDLE IT? Fancy some more wonderful chit chat about anything and everything non-musical? We’ve got you covered - just head to diymag.com/ podcasts to check out our Anything But… series.
Last month, we rounded up some of our favourite new acts, stuck them in a van or two and sent them around the country to play a slew of sold out shows. Here’s a quick recap of what happened when Pale Waves, Our Girl and BLOXX took the Class of 2018 Tour on the road… Words: Will Richards. Photos: Emma Swann.
CATCH THE WAVE J
anuary cobwebs are starting to fade, spring is slowly creeping in, and last month the inaugural Class Of... UK tour kicked off with a packed show at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells. Helmed by cover stars Pale Waves, the tour also featured fellow Class of… alumni Our Girl, and newcomers Bloxx, for a run of fifteen(!) sold-out shows across the country. “I’m glad to be touring the UK again,” Pale Waves vocalist Heather BaronGracie told us ahead of the first show, which arrived straight off the back of the band’s tour of mainland Europe. “It feels like things are really moving now! These past few months have just been a constant fast-train, and like we’re really doing it now. It’s very exciting.” Just hours before stage time in Tunbridge Wells, the band debut ‘Heavenly’, the final song revealed from debut EP ‘All The Things I Never Said’. That said, there’s even newer material still set to be showcased on the tour. “We’re playing two really new tracks,” says Heather, detailing newbie ‘She’, which proves a highlight
of the set that night, the band eschewing guitars briefly in favour of woozy, atmospheric synths. “It’s probably my favourite to play live now though,” Heather expands. “It’s really slow and emo. Ciara [Doran, drummer] is always telling me off for being so emo, but they’re the best ones!” Another new number, ‘Eighteen’, also makes an appearance, alongside the now-anthems of ‘My Obsession’ and ‘There’s A Honey’. It might be a chilly Monday night, but the Forum becomes a sweat pit the second the headliners emerge, greeted with the arena-sized screams the band now receive wherever they tread. Before them come Bloxx, who battle through technical issues to show a clear nouse for writing huge, catchy choruses, their short set packed with anthems in waiting, and Our Girl, who play their first show since they helped launch our Class Of 2018 with a party at London’s Borderline back in December (we love you too, Our Girl). “We’re super excited for the tour,” Soph Nathan tells us before the gig. Later, the band
Shortly after her ripping guitar solo, Medusa turned the entire audience to stone.
IN THE QUEUE
We quizzed those at the head of the line in London about their love for all things Pale Waves.
Jill: I’ve come from America! This is a big reason for why I decided to come all this way. The show is the most fun 45 minutes I’ve had in as long as I can remember. Matt: As soon as they come on, the whole atmosphere changes! It’s amazing!
showcase their new, selftitled song, released that day, alongside a storming ‘Being Around’ and newer tracks set for their debut full- length. “The record’s currently being mixed, so it’s all starting to happen,” she expands. Oooer! Fast-forward to London, and Pale Waves’ road to superstardom is gathering pace. Across the 15-date tour, they’ve proved themselves the British band with the most momentum right now. Their set is full of arena-worthy screams from the crowd, while Our Girl and Bloxx’s sets show them to be gathering significant pace themselves. With ‘There’s A Honey’, ‘My Obsession’ and more sending the crowd at Pale Waves’ biggest headline show yet into raptures, there’s a celebratory mood at The Garage tonight, and plenty of signs that all three of these bands are set to kick on towards huge 2018s. DIY Pale Waves are appearing at Live at Leeds, The Great Escape and Rock Werchter this year. Head to diymag. com for details.
Anna: We flew here from Germany this morning! We’ve seen Pale Waves about 10 times now! Katha: They were opening for The 1975 recently and we went to 8 shows!
Liv: This is our fourth time seeing Pale Waves! We went to the Tunbridge Wells gig on this tour too. Ollie: I first heard of them via The 1975 and then saw them at Reading last year. They’re very unique. 19
HALL FA M E
A monthly place to celebrate the very best albums released during DIY’s lifetime
Late of the Pier - Fantasy Black Channel An undersung cult classic which worked genius out of a cosmic muddle, this Castle Donington band didn’t muck about with their one and only full-length. Words: El Hunt.
“Honestly sir, we haven’t touched a drop…”
ead back to a heady, golden skantinted age, personified by glowsticks, skin-tight neon-hued jeans and Henry Holland slogan tees. Indie had taken a garish new turn, exchanging blokey rock and a frothy pint of lager for fast-paced, electronic rock that revelled in weirdness, flamboyance, and excess of an entirely different kind. At its best, the whole thing was responsible for Klaxons winning the Mercury Prize with their quite frankly batshit ‘Myths of the Near Future’, and tastemaking labels like Kitsuné. At worst, new-rave became ridiculed as a style-over-substance flash in the pan. Even de facto ringleaders Klaxons - who arguably coined the expression themselves for an early gig flyer - admitted it all started off as a joke. After their wider recognition helped the band flog a jawdropping 340,000 copies of their debut, the whole thing seemed to die down a bit; bands of varying qualities - Shitdisco, Hadouken, Does It Offend You, Yeah? - came and went. Few would really be remembered, besides being a footnote to all of those embarrassing fashion choices. In 2008, Late of the Pier would release their one and only album, ‘Fantasy Black Channel’. Inventive,
Release: 30th July 2008 Stand-out tracks: ‘Space and the Woods’, ‘Broken’, ‘VW’ Tell your mates: This album was originally titled ‘Peggy Patch and Her Sequenced Dress’, and the band toyed with releasing it as a single 45-minute long track.
thirsty for newness, and steered in part by the deft hand of Erol Alkan, theirs was a record that would buck the trend. A decade later it stands out as an undersung cult classic that surpassed the neon hype and worked genius out of a cosmic muddle. A frantic onslaught of unforgiving experimentation, the hard-hitters just keep coming; from the thrashing math-rock yowls of ‘Heartbeat’ to the sleazy, prowling intro of opener ‘Hot Tent Blues’. ‘Focker’, meanwhile, is the deliciously unhinged sonic equivalent of a strobe light that’s just been possessed by a Demogorgon. And few other lyrics can stand up to the incredible aside - “cabbage! Can you smell snacks…?” - that ends ‘VW’; save for perhaps those two heroic lads who poked fun at alt-J in a YouTube video years later, admittedly with the help of a large joint and a pack of crackers. Here was a Nottingham band creating sonic chaos outside of the insular London hype. And whatsmore, this debut owes as much to the synth-twiddling of Gary Numan, the spacey melodrama of Talk Talk and the booming delivery of Sparks on a great quantity of pingers. Think of their debut as new-rave meets new-wave. It’s a flippin’ modern masterpiece. diy
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.......................................... • Parquet Courts • Almost Had To Start A Fight / In And Out Of Patience .......................................... A desire for simplicity is written all over this first teaser of new album ‘Wide Awake!’. A fidgety, repeated thrash of guitars, drums and Andrew Savage’s harsh, urgent voice rules the stop-start first half. Then, just as the walls begin to close in, the track folds out into a flowing, danceable bop with not a second’s warning. It’s done at intoxicating speed, and is an urgent return that sees Parquet Courts at the top of their game. (Will Richards)
.......................................... • courtney barnett • Need A Little Time .......................................... The light-handed, confiding touch of ‘Need A Little Time’ might place it in a world slightly closer to debut album ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit’, but make no mistake, C-Barnz is pushing boundaries in other ways. She’s never sung quite like this before, for one, her usually distinctive drawl traded in for a soaring, tender chorus hook. “I need a little time out, from me… and you” she sings, cleverly aligned syllables and left-field scenarios nowhere to be seen. (El Hunt)
.......................................... •years & years • Sanctify .......................................... Whether it’s Christine and The Queens urging you to “drink the loving cup”, or Ariana Grande singing about pulling a muscle after a night of hanky-panky, the best pop songs smuggle subversive filth into the mainstream. Singing from this same hymn sheet, ‘Sanctify’ explores sexual experimentation; a slinking number that channels breathy Britney. “Sanctify my sins when I pray,” Olly sings, and as with ‘Like A Prayer’, it’s safe to say he’s probably not talking about kneeling down in front of an altar… (El Hunt)
.......................................... • iceage • Pain Killer .......................................... Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt was always meant to be a swaggering frontman, and his trajectory continues marvellously on ‘Pain Killer’. Opening with a glorious parade of horns, it’s a rush of booze-addled endorphins. He’s also backed up in his every move by guest Sky Ferreira, who circles around his words like a ghost, the two egging each other on. Every move made and turn taken is one done with bundles of belief, making it feel like an anthem. (Will Richards)
•.................................................................................................................................................................... Janelle Monáe • Make Me Feel As an artist, Janelle Monáe is impossible to pin down, having leapt effortlessly from debut ‘Metropolis’ to the sci-fi touch of ‘The ArchAndroid’ right through to ‘Electric Lady’s jazz, soul and gospel explorations, all while adding a futuristic spin. Clearly indebted to former mentor Prince (and boldly unapologetic for it, quite rightly) ‘Make Me Feel’ - all woozy, spaced-out guitar strums, and gasping percussive moans - is brilliantly queer to its core. Playfulness peppers every lyric too, cracking arch puns. “It’s like I’m powerful with a little bit of tender,” she declares, “an emotional, sexual bender.” Charged with raw ‘80s energy and making tongue-in-cheek reference to her own refusal to entertain labelling her sexuality - “I only date androids,” she once quipped - this might just be 2018’s most electric return so far. (El Hunt) ....................................................................................................................................................................
HAVE YOU HEARD?
Before you know it, you’ll be knee-deep in soggy mud. Just you watch.
FES TIVAL S
LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY
5th - 6th May
The festival returns to the centre of Liverpool after a few years in the relative wilds of the city’s docklands, with the regenerated Baltic Triangle area playing host to acts from headliners Peace to IDLES, Black Honey, Superorganism and Jaws, to Yellow Days, King Nun, The Orielles, Sorry and False Advertising.
DIY PRESENTS Sunday 6th May Constellations
Yellow Days Sorry Bloxx Puma Blue Gaffa Tap Sandy Vistas King Nu ALASKALASKA Plaza
As Alaskalaska prepare both new music and for a jam-packed month of festival appearances, playing Liverpool Sound City alongside Live at Leeds and The Great Escape, we speak to vocalist Lucinda John-Duarte and bassist Fraser Rieley. What’s new in the world of ALASKALASKA? Lucinda: We’ve been having a productive albeit elusive winter. Keep your ears peeled for some new music - we’re releasing a single in April! We’ve been working on a whole new set of songs and sounds, and have a tour with Nilüfer Yanya coming up. Our good friends Mellah have been building us a studio share across the hall that’s due to be finished in the next week so lots of positive exciting things on the horizon! Are you looking forward to festival season? Lucinda: It’s been a quiet few months for us live-wise so we are eager to crack on. Fraser: I’m planning on hanging out with all my best budz on tour, watching as many bands as possible and generally enjoying myself. Have you played in Liverpool previously? Fraser: This will be our first time playing in Liverpool. I haven’t played there since I lived nearby when I was 17, when the O2 was the Carling Academy and the Baltic Triangle didn’t exist, so it’ll be nice to come back to see what’s changed and show the band the sights.
LIVE AT LEEDS 5th May
The Vaccines, Peace, The Magic Gang, The Horrors, Blaenavon, Pale Waves and Spring King are just some of the all-star names at this year’s takeover of Leeds city centre, with plenty of buzzy newcomers - Anteros, Bloxx, Boy Azooga, Suzi Wu, Stella Donnelly along for good measure. We’re hosting two stages at the famed Brudenell Social Club once again, too.
NEU stage: Brudenell Social Club Games Room Cosmo Pyke Sorry Benny Mails Suzi Wu Grand Pax Alaskalaska Tremors Boniface Nelson Can Hatchie Talkboy
DIY stage: Brudenell Social Club Pale Waves Anteros Her’s Boy Azooga Stella Donnelly The Howl and The Hum Pip Blom Whenyoung Sports Team Devon Magick Mountain FEHM
what could be better? We can even tent next to them sometimes, it’s all about inter-tent networking connections.
What’s new in the world of Her’s? We’re both feeling very musically pregnant, so maybe you can expect some kinda weird looking offspring in the not so distant future.
The last time we saw you, there was no more Pierce Brosnan. What happened to him? We had somebody kidnap our pocket sized Pierce last time we played in Glasgow! So, while he lives on in our hearts, we’ve got his slightly larger than life reincarnation with us now, it’s just that we can’t bring him on the train.
Merseyside-based duo Her’s will bring their bouncy pop to the Brudenell next month, just without their bestie Pierce this time (*sob*). Vocalist Stephen Fitzpatrick explains.
How are you looking forward to festival season? We’re big fans of tenting, and if you can tent while seeing your favourite artist
Do you have any particularly vivid or interesting memories of being in Leeds? We actually played our second ever gig in Leeds at the Fenton supporting Trudy and the Romance on Valentines Day! Audun had to run off stage for a taxi to the airport to France.
NEWS IN BRIEF The Vaccines, Shame, Kate Nash and Milk Teeth have all been added to the Reading & Leeds (24th - 26th August) bill, joining Kendrick Lamar, Wolf Alice, Dua Lipa and more. SOPHIE and Jessie Ware join acts including St Vincent, and Glass Animals at Slovakian bash Pohoda (5th - 7th July). Chvrches, The Horrors, Goat Girl and Shame have been added to the Citadel (15th July) lineup, joining Tame Impala at the London all-dayer. More names have been added to The Great Escape (17th - 19th May), including Superorganism, Goat Girl, Nilüfer Yanya, and The Spook School. Nine Inch Nails and Fever Ray have been confirmed for Roskilde (30th June - 7th July), joining acts including St Vincent and Yonaka. Silk City - the teaming up of superproducers Mark Ronson and Diplo - are headlining Bestival (2nd - 5th August). Green Man (16th - 19th August) have added King Gizzard and the Lizard to this year’s event, with Cate Le Bon and Anna Calvi also joining in the fun. Visions (5th August) has announced its lineup, including IDLES, Nilüfer Yanya, and Sports Team. Slaves, The Horrors, Dream Wife and LIFE are all playing Hull’s 53 Degrees (9th June). 25
FES TI VA L S
Wide Days 20th - 21st April
illing itself as a “showcase” as opposed to full-on festival, our hastily-constructed metaphor of Wide Days being ‘more fancy whisky on the rocks than warm pints’ turns out to be true as there’s literally a whisky tasting session there. The Edinburgh shindig focuses its gaze on acts from north of the border, having hosted Scottish faves from Catholic Action to C Duncan via Honeyblood, Fatherson and Scottish Album of the Year winner Kathryn Joseph, alongside a series of industry panels. This year’s line-up includes Graham Costello’s STRATA, Zoe Graham, Edwin Organ and Wuh Oh. We’re also hosting a stage along with Jägermeister at La Belle Angele, where other chosen artists Crystal, Rascalton and Lucia will all be playing.
Fresh from their trip out to Austin, TX to wow crowds at this year’s SXSW, Lucia looks ahead to the Edinburgh showcase. Hello Lucia! How are you? Hello, I’m good but I’ve got the Texas Blues a bit. You’ve just returned from SXSW how was that as an experience? It was amazing, I met so many people from all different places that will remain friends, got to play in some really cool venues, and ate lots of Tex-Mex. People in Texas are extremely friendly.
You’re also going to be appearing at this year’s Wide Days in Edinburgh. How’re you looking forward to it? I’m looking forward to Wide Days and am very thankful that I got chosen to play. I think it’ll be really beneficial to us and to all other acts playing. It’s a great idea to have only so many artists playing as they get an opportunity to really show who they are, and what they are capable of. It’ll be good to link up with some other Scottish acts that I don’t know as well as others too! For anyone who’ll be heading up to bonny Scotland for the fest, what should be top of their to-do list? I don’t spend a lot of time in Edinburgh but there are a lot of beautiful scenes and old buildings. After that, definitely make sure to go to Glasgow. There’s a thriving music scene and there will be lots more shows happening with local acts. The night life is good and you wouldn’t be short of places to go!
NEWS IN BRIEF Marika Hackman, Pale Waves and The Horrors are among those announced for Dot To Dot (25th 27th May), alongside Bully, Our Girl, Bad Sounds and Cuckoolander. The Cure’s Robert Smith is curating this year’s Meltdown (15th - 24th June), with My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo, The Libertines, Deftones and Manic Street Preachers all headed to London’s Southbank Centre. Mystery Jets, Rat Boy, The Big Moon and Everything Everything are all headed to Sheffield’s Tramlines (20th - 22nd July). End Of The Road (30th August - 2nd September) has added IDLES, Soccer Mommy and Shame among others, joining the alreadyconfirmed St Vincent and Vampire Weekend. SOPHIE and Lao Ra are just two of the new names for NOS Alive (12th - 14th July), with Jack White, Wolf Alice, and Marmozets already Lisbon-bound. Rock Werchter (5th - 8th July) has added Wolf Alice, The Breeders, Albert Hammond Jr and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds to a bill that already boasts Arctic Monkeys, Jack White, and The Killers. The Horrors, Shame and Youngr are all headed to Sicilian festival Ypsigrock (9th - 12th August) alongside The Radio Dept and Blue Hawaii.
“We don’t want to fit in, we just want to do what we want to do.” Laura Hayden
28 diymag.com 28 diymag.com
Following up a series of buzzy singles, and working on their debut album, these four Londoners are determined to turn sorrow into something you can dance to.
Words: Will Richards. Photo: Emma Swann.
Driving up to the studio Anteros are holed up in, it’s clear the four Londoners couldn’t be further away - literally but more importantly metaphorically - from the Big Smoke. Fresh from touring with YONAKA and releasing the anthemic skipping indie of recent single ‘Bonnie’, the band are hard at work on their debut full-length.
The Distillery is an idyllic hideaway in the rolling Somerset hills, just outside Bath, and the band are clearly embracing the isolation. Working on the record in various stints of a fortnight or so with producer Charlie Andrew (alt-J, Marika Hackman), the quartet, led by effervescent vocalist Laura Hayden, are taking a time-out from one of their increasingly relentless recording sessions. Chatting through the ongoing process of putting the record to tape, building on the more-than-decent foundation of a series of buzzy early singles, it seems the isolation of their studio-based existence has them feeling all reflective. “It’s been so nice to be living away from the city and focusing on the record,” says Laura. “It’s also been surprisingly drama-free, which, considering we’ve all been living under the same roof for so long, is pretty amazing.” Forged across day trips across to the studio from a house they’re all sharing in Bath, which often don’t end until after midnight, the album will solidify the foursome’s identity as hungry, fresh new frontrunners of British indie. They’re also determined to make you dance. “In a time where everything seems quite dark,” Laura begins - a vocalist with clear visions of the world she lives in, and how her band fits into it - “you wanna make people think. Not in a way that’s gonna make them cry, but it in a way that’s gonna make them stronger. It’s the natural thing for us to do, because that’s how we use music ourselves as people.” “‘Drunk’, for example,” she continues, citing the band’s 2017 single, a track that comes complete with
an invincible, funk-inspired strut. “‘Drunk’ is about dating an alcoholic. And you can stand there and be sad about it, or you can go ‘You know what, this is a breakup song, and is gonna be the moment where I’m celebrating moving on!’. As a result, performing that onstage isn’t sad anymore. It’s happy. It’s fun. You can turn that moment of weakness and sadness into something strong. There’s something quite nice about that.” “It’s about trying to find freedom without being scared,” she expands. Fearlessness is something that defines the new, tougher Anteros. “Fear has held me back a lot in the past. I’ve had to think ‘Oh, I’m not going to say that too loud because it might cause a reaction’ but actually, through letting go and understanding how your voice works, and where you fit in, you end up finding that peace.” Skipping through the studio, itching to get going again, the band - completed by guitarist Jackson Couzens, bassist Joshua Rumble and drummer Harry Balazs - press play on an in-process cut from the record called ‘Wrong Side’. It sounds, frankly, huge, taking their funky, groove-led indie to the next level, copious lashings of cowbell thrown in for good measure. It’s an incredibly confident, uninhibited indicator of things to come, and reflects the impression the band give off in person too, as Laura hops back downstairs for another vocal take: they’re impatient to take their next steps, and to make them as assertive as possible. “Someone asked us the other day: what’s changed the most since we started the band?” Laura ponders, the quartet still trying to comprehend the fact that they’re working on an album (“I still have to do a doubletake any time someone mentions the A word,” Harry chuckles). “I realised that the main difference is that we just don’t really give a shit anymore. We don’t want to fit in, we just want to do what we want to do. You’re only given the chance to make your first album once, and you have to run with what feels good inside.” “In the time between writing these songs and recording them, we’d been on tour so much,” Laura concludes. “We developed our sound and worked out who we actually were. They started to sound like us.” DIY Anteros are appearing at Live at Leeds this year. Head to diymag.com for details. 29
A HOUSE IN THE TREES
Based out of South London creative hub The Rising Sun, this genre-melting rabble invite you into their weird and wonderful world. Words: Will Richards. Photo: Emma Swann.
It’s a morning like any other in The Rising Sun, the South London base of A House In The Trees. Or so they tell us. As the band’s core members Sam Hatchwell, Cam Dugdale and Geraint Morgan gather around the kitchen table - offering around prosecco fetched from the nearest corner shop - this renovated pub turned studio and practice space, seems anything but ordinary. While they recover from a gloriously ramshackle show the previous night, all manner of friends and musicians wander up and down the stairs and in and out of the front door, while a band settle in to record their first demo down in the old pub’s cellar, which also teams up as a practice space and gig venue. There’s also a dance class happening there later. “It’s just a bunch of people coming together to make music,” Sam explains of the ethos behind The Rising Sun. “The studio downstairs has essentially become a community studio. It’s a real hub.” And though A House In The Trees started out of Sam’s bedroom, Cam admits it wasn’t the band’s initial intention to become “so fiercely DIY”, but it came together more out of necessity.
“People are able to come here, live here, and make art here, at very low costs, which it’s pretty fucking impossible to do in London,” he says. It’s a pertinent point, especially as London’s latest small venue casualty The Montague Arms - exists merely a stones’ throw away. Their debut EP, last year’s ‘What Am I Supposed To Do?’, contains a myriad of voices, genres and ideas, the Rising Sun community vibe seeping into every aspect. Highlight ‘Amazing Gray’ sees Sam’s vocals gorgeously blurring the boundaries between pop harmonies and soft, deliberate rapping. ‘Summertime’, meanwhile, introduces the distinctive voice of Lucinda John-Duarte, of fellow upstarts ALASKALASKA. The EP - as the band explain - exists as a succinct piece of standalone work, and doesn’t give any definite pointers as to their sonic future. It’s proven at the show the previous night, everything from fluid, catchy hip-hop to intense electronics making up the non-stop, shapeshifting set. “Nothing is off limits,” Cam says. “If we want to sign to a big label and the right offer comes in, then sure. If we don’t, we don’t. As long as we can keep doing things on our terms, then that’s all that matters.” The prosecco is swallowed down, the door to The Rising Sun is flung open once again, and another (extra) ordinary day continues. DIY
U ok, Sam hun?
Helena Deland Montreal talent with a knack for introspection.
Making sparing, plaintive indie in Montreal, Helena Deland channels the classic smokiness of French pop icons Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy as much as she does her fuzzcovered contemporaries. Latest release ‘From the Series of Songs ‘Altogether Unaccompanied’ Vol. I’ melds yearning with introspection, showing truckloads of potential for her next steps. Catch her in May at Brighton buzz-fest The Great Escape. Listen: Glimmering stand-out ‘There Are A Thousand’. Similar to: The atmospheric crafting of Mothers and Chastity Belt, via the Paris Métro.
Brooklyn-via-Dublin songwriter turning sorrow into power.
Bolton producer with fingers in all the pies. Across her first few singles, Bolton singer and producer Chrystal has proved a remarkably versatile new talent. Flitting between R&B, hiphop, pop and UK garage, her sound is anchored by her smooth, distinctly Northern tones, shown best on catchy new cut ‘2 Real’ that’s previewing a debut mixtape, out later this year. Listen: Infectious new single ‘2 Real’. Similar to: Jorja Smith raised solely on a diet of UK garage.
The Brooklyn-based, Dublin-raised singer first piqued our attention with the crunchy, self-deprecating ‘Ruin Your Night’ a while back, but has expanded her outlook significantly since, bringing in bedroom pop on ‘Waking Life’ and gorgeous, twinkling piano on newie ‘Can’t We Pretend’. Listen: The indie-rock of ‘Ruin Your Night’ and sombre piano of ‘Can’t We Pretend’. Similar to: The shape-shifting nature of (Sandy) Alex G.
RECOMMENDED Fun fact: King Princess likes to cultivate an entire garden on her head.
King Princess Brooklyn native putting an inventive new spin on unrequited love.
Counting - gasp! - indie dreamboats Harry Styles and Mark Ronson as early fans, King Princess’ debut track came out on the latter’s brand new Zelig label. And what a debut it is too. Taking on that worn old chestnut of unrequited love with refreshing new invention, ‘1950’ scrawls on a fetching drag king moustache, and celebrates queerness and desire in warmly-lit, summery hues. Keep an eye on this one. Listen: Classic-in-waiting first release ‘1950’. Similar to: The diary-scribble honesty of Shura meets a subversive pop slant.
Newcomers continuing to push Bristol’s punk scene forwards. It was IDLES who reinvigorated Bristol as a hotbed for UK punk last year, but in bringing newcomers Heavy Lungs on tour with them, the next generation is looking to be just as strong. A riotous live proposition, the quartet translate it onto tape on new track ‘Stutter’, a crazed offering that feels like it’s falling apart at the seams in the best way possible.
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
ON THE PLAYLIST
Listen: Invigorating first step ‘Stutter’. Similar to: IDLES, METZ.
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: AMBER MARK ‘Love Me Right’
Berlin-based DJ and producer inviting you into her melting pot of sounds. Moulding her sound and tastes over the past few years at clubs across Berlin, Peggy Gou’s debut EP ‘Once’ perfectly replicates the euphoria of a packed dancefloor, melting disco, house and electro together seamlessly and with abandon. Fun and intense in equal measure, ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ is its highlight, recalling the unadulterated fun of Todd Terje’s timeless ‘Inspector Norse’. Listen: The fun, driving ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’. Similar to: The sunny euphoria of Todd Terje and Jamie xx.
Fresh from getting stars in their eyes (and hands) as part of our Class Of 2018, fast-rising Brighton quartet YONAKA have announced their biggest headline show to date. After selling out the Garage, the band are set to head to Camden’s legendary Electric Ballroom in October. Get full dates and revisit their Class Of 2018 feature on diymag.com
DOUBLE TROUBLE Two Neu favourites are teaming up this May for a jaunt across the UK, with buzzy South Londoners ALASKALASKA set to support Class of 2018 star nilüfer yanya on her headline tour. Their slinky remix of Nilüfer’s ‘Baby Luv’ is also worth a listen. View the tour dates on diymag.com
havin’ a larf Matt Maltese has shared new track titled ‘Greatest Comedian’, the first taster of his upcoming debut album. Due this summer, it’s been produced in collaboration with Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado and Londoner Alex Burey. On top of this, the saucy warbler has announced his biggest headline show to date, playing London’s Scala in June. Get all the details on diymag.com.
A track about establishing rules within a relationship, ‘Love Me Right’ is the New York singer at her best, catchiest and most affecting. THE BLAZE ‘Heaven’ The fast-rising French duo’s latest track offering is a sombre, atmospheric cut, helmed by deep, treated vocals. HALEY HEYNDERICKX ‘Worth It’ A highlight of the Portland songwriter’s debut ‘I Need To Start A Garden’, ‘Worth It’ is packed full of raw beauty. MNEK ‘Tongue’ The London singer has always looked destined for stardom, and takes a huge leap forward on this propulsive, sexy return. 33
MUST-SEE SHOWS THIS MONTH
Like being the first to see the next big thing? Get ready to brag to your mates about watching this lot before they go big, sell out, and spectacularly break up.
Rex Orange County KOKO, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
ver the past year or so, Rex Orange County has become one of the most effortlessly cool new talents we have. Recording with Tyler, The Creator, performing in Frank Ocean’s live band and popping up with Skepta at the Mercury Prize, Alex O’Connor has fast turned into one of the go-to collaborators for worldwide superstars. Stepping out to boyband-level screams at KOKO, the link between the newcomer and his famous pals seems very confused. Though Rex has largely made his name as a shy producer, as he bounds around the stage tonight, performing loved-up ditties and whistling his way through ballads, he’d be equally at home on Radio 2 drive-time. Cliches they might be, but in introducing his band, rolling through the stage banter 101 manual and asking for a moshpit in ‘Best Friend’ (which is, remarkably, obeyed immediately, despite the breezy lounge feel of the track), he’s already far closer to being the full package than could’ve ever been expected. It’s worlds away from the introvert he’s often been painted as. Far from feeling restricted by being pinned as a hipper-than-hip, new independent superstar, tonight sees Rex Orange County content with being an entertainer, free of pretence. He does it well - balloons and confetti rain down during a triumphant finale of ‘Happiness’ - and in the process opens far more doors for himself. (Will Richards)
6th April, Headrow House, Leeds Given that he’s releasing his debut album - ‘The Much Much How How and I’ - on this very same day, Cosmo Sheldrake’s visit to Leeds should turn into a bit of a spontaneous release party. Catch the Hampstead oddball weaving bleeps, bloops, and eclectic instrumentation - from didgeridoos to penny whistles - into slabs of pop gold.
12th April The Mash House, Edinburgh It remains to be seen if these Class of 2018 stars will bring their honorary third member Pierce Brosnan along for their upcoming UK tour, but renowed for their ridiculous onstage japes, Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading will give you a gig and a comedy show - wrapped into one - for your money. Good value, if you ask us.
3rd April, The Waiting Room, London This scrappy Sydney rabble wooed the world with their self-titled EP, and with debut album ‘Lost Friends’ coming out very soon, you’d be advised to catch this lot live before they get really, really big.
13th April, Village Underground, London Theatrical spectacle and those impressive vocal pipes will inevitably be right at the centre of serpentwithfeet’s upcoming London show; expect to be blown away by this most talented New York-dweller’s chameleon-like versatility. 34 diymag.com
Tucker’s just spotted something batshit crazy in the distance.
What happens when a house DJ try to not think about whether something’s good or bad,” she most used to playing dorm parties adds. “That dichotomy is not helpful.” Apparently it’s more with Nicolas Jaar bumps into a about “whether something makes us feel like a soft animal musician while she’s performing or not,” she adds, referencing the title of their 2016 EP (which melancholy bossa nova in an art takes its name from the Mary Oliver poem ‘Wild Geese’) in the gallery? No, this isn’t the first line process. “Like a dog wagging its tail,” Tucker adds. of a very wordy joke - it’s actually the bonkers origin story of dance duo Sofi Tukker. To be One of Sofi Tukker’s finest creations to date - the cuss-filled honest, everything else about the pair is absolutely batshit ‘Fuck They’, written with Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears - is also crazy (albeit in the best possible way) as well. So batshit crazy, indicative of this. “I don’t give a fuck about they,” Sophie in fact, that their debut album ‘Treehouse’ - out on 13th announces, a booming voice replying “who’s they?”. They, April - contains an entire track dedicated to the expression. she says today, is anybody who doesn’t know how to get on Doing away with pretensions, and dedicating every last ion board with having fun and letting go. “They is anybody or to a huge outpouring of pure energy instead, Sophie Hawleyanything that holds you back from being yourself or listening Weld and Tucker to your own Halpern somehow voice,” she combine the says. “They is delicious lure something that of thudding that exists in Eurotrash with everybody. You Melding Eurotrash and euphoria into deliciously unpretentious dance music, verses in Brazilian have a choice to Words: El Hunt Sofi Tukker are doing things their own way. Portuguese, listen to they, or sweary dance to you.” hooks reminiscent of Sak Noel’s ridiculous disco-banger ‘Loca People’, and “It’s empowering to just listen to yourself,” adds Tucker. “If beneath the pinger-fuelled euphoria - a knack for holding an you believe in what you’re creating, making, and putting out entire room in the palm of their hand. It’s a skill that comes into the world, and are proud of it, it doesn’t really matter straight from Tucker’s time on the house circuit, and put to what other people say. If someone’s hating on something we use on their pair’s forthcoming debut album ‘Treehouse’ do, that I love, it’s never going to bother me.” DIY alongside Sophie’s vocal, it’s magical. Sofi Tukker are appearing at Mad Cool Festival this year. Head to “There’s something about returning to the instinctual nature diymag.com for details. of an animal that really speaks to us,” Sophie explains. “We
t’s an age old cliche: band makes it big, and moves to America. It’s one that’s true, too, because let’s face it, we’ve heard this story go wrong so many times before. Normally, it involves a wide-eyed band on the up plus a world famous producer, multiplied by a stint hanging out with the palm trees in Los Angeles, a spiritual experience in Joshua Tree, a swanky residence in a second city, and a couple of global megastars sashaying into the studio for feature spots - all equalling a glossy, over-polished record that’s baying for the Top 40 at the end of it all. Being one of the oldest fables in music, it’s a story that Chvrches were all too cautious about, too. “On paper, Chvrches makes album in LA sounds terrible,” concedes Lauren Mayberry today.
proven wrong. “I’m on the record [in interviews] all over the place saying we would never co-write with anyone,” Martin admits, “because I totally believed it at the time.” After speed-dating a few producers - with mixed results - the band instantly clicked with Greg. “It’s best to date before you get married. Maybe this metaphor extends,” he grins, “but it was three albums in before we were willing to sleep with somebody.” His bandmates groan, simultaneously.
Unlike like many of their predecessors - too distracted by infinity pools and sweeping skyline views to notice the sterility setting in - Chvrches were determined to steer their plot in a different direction. You’ll be relieved to know that despite creating their third album from their new writing space in New York (“Shoebox is more appropriate,” deadpans Iain Cook), teaming up with pop production powerhouse Greg Kurstin for a large portion of the record, and having their faces plastered across Times Square during one especially surreal moment of proceedings, the trio haven’t lost sight of their core.
“We had to build those foundations so that we know inside and out what we wanted to do,” Lauren concludes. “I want us to be the ones who set the agenda.”
“That was a high moment!” remarks Martin Doherty, revisiting the surreal time that the band found themselves on NYC’s most infamous wall of adverts. “It wasn’t expected of anyone from Faifley. There’s nothing wrong with taking a wee bit of pride, but then let’s move on!” he adds. “You don’t grow up in Glasgow with airs and graces. You don’t get away with it. You can’t come through Glasgow - playing local shows, even - with ideas above your station. I guess that is armour. You set all of that stuff really early on in the background.” Instead, Chvrches’ Stateside adventures came from a different place; a hunger to broaden their horizons. Teaming up with Matt Berninger from The National for witchy bop ‘My Enemy’, and opening up their close-knit trio to a producer for the first time saw the band gladly ripping up their own sacred rulebook, more than happy to be
”It feels like this was a good time to cast the net out a little wider and start to invite other people into the process,” Iain adds with admirable composure. “We’ve made two albums [‘The Bones of What You Believe’ and ‘Every Open Eye’] together, and it doesn’t matter where we are, or who we’re in a room with, that identity is really concrete. We’ve forged that on our own.”
With divisions deepening across the world, the band agree, now also feels like a fitting time to build bridges with other artists to foster positivity in numbers. To cite one prime example, Chvrches first got to know collaborator Matt Berninger properly through working together on the healthcare benefit compilation ‘7-Inches for Planned Parenthood’. “It’s nice, if you’re feeling helpless in these current times, to be like, well, how do you take that helplessness, and channel it into something good?” Lauren agrees. “That’s true here, to an extent.” As for relocating to New York, the band say, changing tact, that shift came about out of necessity. The time felt right for a new challenge. “For me,” Lauren explains, “it was about pushing myself out of my comfort zone, on a personal level, but also on a writing level. I felt I’d written everything about living in that city [Glasgow] at that time that I could. You don’t want to keep writing the same thing again and again, and I felt like I might be in danger of that. I had to go somewhere else other than my kitchen table.” The result of all this is ‘Love Is Dead’ - a monstrously massive third record which marries Chvrches’ biggest pop moments
yet with a saltier, heavier edge. Addressing the political more explicitly than ever (‘Graves’ in particular directly addresses an institutionalised lack of empathy that’s “leaving bodies in stairwells and washing up on the shore”) and elsewhere, refusing to play up to the prescribed gendered role of a “perfect actress playing the princess in distress” (on the anthemic ‘Heaven / Hell’) Chvrches’ heart-filled personally-charged pop takes on an urgent spin. In these times, that feels vital.
Martin, you sing lead vocals on ‘God’s Plan‘. Will you be planning any stage choreography this time around? We loved your iconic dancing last time you toured… Martin: I love how you call it ‘choreography’. That’s amazing. I’ll take that as a compliment. It’s really just me channelling being eighteen at Radiohead shows and watching Thom Yorke give it his all; a ball of pure energy. I thought about it the other day, [‘God’s Plan’] is really big, and I get wound up even listening to the song. I’m going to end up on PAs, up the side of the stage. One of the strengths of our band is that we can have those indulgences. At any one time the guy can come out from behind the keyboards, lose his mind, and go back in his cage, just like Harambe. Next tour we’ll have an ambulance at the side of the stage ready for when I fall off a lighting rig or something like that.
“I think you see certain musicians staying quiet because they have the luxury and privilege to do so,” Lauren reasons. “A few years ago, you had people saying ‘I’m not a feminist, because I don’t hate men’. The reason people were able to say that is because they think ‘sexism doesn’t affect me’. It does, you’re mugging yourself off, and you can say that because you’ve reached a level of privilege, wealth and security where you’re safe from that. It’s exactly the same now with people refusing to talk about race. Looking back, these kinds of attitudes will seem completely irresponsible. At the end of the day, this is entertainment, it’s made up. We’re lucky we get to do it. But what kind of person do you want to be when you’re doing it?” Lauren asks. “Do you want to sell a hundred more records in a certain place because you kept your mouth shut and played ball? The darkness is where those things fester, and if you don’t even attempt to shine a light on it, you’re part of the problem.” She’s also angered by certain critics insisting that musicians should ‘shut up and stick to the music’; especially given the level of sexism that still exists in the music industry itself. Recounting one shitty experience in particular - with a newspaper that Lauren tactfully refrains from naming - it’s clear that musicians standing firm on their principles is hugely important. “I remember shaking the phone and giving it the finger. He was like: ‘by the time [‘Every Open Eye’] comes out… you’ll be almost thirty, so will you be taking some time off from the band to think about having children and that aspect of your personal life?’ I was like, they’re both older than me, you’re not asking them that!” she exclaims wearily, gesturing across at Iain and Martin. “In the moment, I was like, you’re trying to goad me into saying something; it’s either gonna be ‘she’s a hypocrite, see, she doesn’t stand for what she says she stands for’.
“You don’t grow up in Glasgow with airs and graces.” - Martin Doherty
Lauren: I try not to be offended at meet and greets when people say, ‘Martin, your songs are my favourite’. I just did one hour and twenty minutes straight, but fine. Martin: I’m not the world’s greatest singer. Neither do I care, there’s a level of expression!
Is this disco ball bigger than the actual sun? We think yes.
the opportunity to pay tribute to that year’s biggest accidental meme, dedicating ‘Under the Tide’ to the internet-famous gorilla. To his surprise, his one off-the-cuff comment - much like his previous remarks about collaboration - was immortalised in print.
At the beginning of this conversation, Martin made us a promise. “We’re not supposed to swear in this interview,” he said. “This is self-imposed because I seem to swear my way through interviews.” We’re big fans of a challenge, readers, and so we totted up the number of naughty words on the unedited interview transcript. Verdict: They, erm, fucked it.
Or, it’ll make me look like an angry, crazy, feminist bitch. So I hung up. ‘I’m sorry, I feel like we cut off there.” “Click!” Martin interjects, approvingly. “I want to be respectful of people, but I also want to be respected,” Lauren says, “I thought, what is this fucking bullshit? If I was in a pub, I wouldn’t smack him, but I’d maybe throw a packet of crisps at him.” “That stay in your lane thing is stupid,” she picks up. “What do they think people write songs about? Songs are about feelings and interactions, perceptions, politics, social issues, relationships, all those things. When people say, don’t talk about these things, it’s none of your business, it’s like, where do you think the songs you’re listening to come from? It’s so funny when people think we’re an overly political band, that we’re overtly political, militant people. It’s just common sense and responsibility.” “I think you should be responsible when you have it,” she adds, referring to Chvrches’ still-growing platform. ”As we’ve learned from Martin’s Harambe comment,” Lauren says, prompting knowing grins from Iain and Dok, “when you say one thing in passing it will get taken seriously.” Ah, yes, about that. As the band graduated to Reading & Leeds’ gigantic main stage in 2016, making yet another step towards their impending headlinerin-waiting status, Martin - no doubt heady with delirium during one of their biggest milestone moments yet - took
“There’s nothing more unexpected than seeing a quote like that across the music press when you’re hungover,” he jokes, two years on. “Chvrches pay tribute to Harambe at Reading & Leeds”. I was like, alright, I’ll take it.” “I suppose Harambe is symbolic of a lot of other things that we mean the title [‘Love Is Dead’] to mean...” Lauren ponders, making a valiant attempt to bring things back around to the music in question. “He marks the death of empathy. There was no empathy for poor Harambe. The record is about lots of frustrations and sadnesses; grief also. There are all these microevents, chipping away at us. And Harambe. Harambe is one of those things.” While Lauren’s Harambe-related musings might be taking the whole thing a little far, it’s true that ‘Love Is Dead’ - less a doomed statement, and more the starting of a wider conversation (“it’s a question mark, or an ellipsis,” the band say) - is an album that’s at once saddened and hopeful. Far from killing off connection once and for all, much of the record turns over past regrets and decisions, pondering instead if that love is worth saving again. “I will always think I’m right, but I always regret the night I told you I would hate you ‘til forever,” sings Lauren on the glimmering ‘ F o r e v e r ’, admitting guilt and resolve in a single breath. It’s a balancing act that Chvrches have down to a fine art. “Ever y thing we do sonically is about that balance,” she nods. “Mixing those two things is in the DNA of the band. That’s how we were feeling - conflicted, confused, frustrated - but it doesn’t mean you’re ready to give up. When I listen to the record, it sounds like we’re trying to figure it out. The investigation and trying to get to that point is a bigger part of the journey.” “I’ll let you know when I figure it out,” she adds with a wry smile. ‘Love Is Dead’ is out 25th May via Virgin EMI. DIY Chvrches are appearing at Citadel and Rock Werchter this year. Head to diymag.com for details. 43
Or should we say Ghost Girl, amirite?!?!
Expect the Unexpected Intent on challenging perceptions and carving out their own niche, Goat
Girl wonâ€™t be defined by their formative roots;
theyâ€™re truly one of a kind. Words: Rhian Daly. Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
shouldn’t say I like my songs, but I love [‘ ‘Throw Me A Bone’],” states Goat Girl guitarist Ellie (aka L.E.D), squinting in the blazing Austin sun. Immediately after describing it as a song that “hits you right in your chest,” - an apt tagline for such a winding, murky number she catches herself being confident, adding a caveat.
“But we’re always so negative about our music, we’re too humble about it!” argues singer and guitarist Lottie (‘Clottie Cream’). Maybe she’s remembering the time when she claimed that the four-piece were “kind of shit” in a DIY interview last year? Luckily for them, ‘Goat Girl’ is the kind of record whose greatness is patently clear, no matter how neggy its creators might be. It presents the band as one that isn’t happy to conform to expectation. They could easily have followed a series of killer early singles with a neat package of 10 or so warped indie bangers. Instead, they’ve made something that spans 19 tracks and 40 minutes, venturing into many sonic territories via fully fleshed-out tracks and weird, wonderful interludes. Even the opener - the on-edge ‘Salty Sounds’ - feels like an immediate move to catch you off guard.
“We’re always so negative about our music, we’re too humble about it.” - Lottie ‘Clottie Cream’
“It starts with a smoke machine noise,” laughs Lottie. “Why did we do that!? It makes no sense. I think that’s quite a Goat Girl characteristic - that weird ‘What?’ [moment].” There are plenty more strange little happenings on the record that back her up and keep the record from sounding like anything else in recent memory. Creepy vaudeville piano on ‘A Swamp Dog’s Tale’ (which also features Sorry’s Lincoln Barrett doing spoken word)? Check. Out of control circus romp on ‘The Man With No Heart Or Brain’? Yep. “Sisterly harmonies” that sound like they were made by a pastoral folk band from the ‘60s? Sure. Millennial whoops, pop culture references that’ll go out of date in a heartbeat? Absolutely not. Drummer Rosy (Bones) notes that the group have already been “commodified in a lot of ways” - the South London band, the all-girl group - but all they really want is for the record to challenge people’s perceptions of them; to see them as something beyond those limiting tags. For the uninitiated, Goat Girl did form in South London and did come up through the same community of bands as Shame. They found a base at The Windmill in Brixton -a tiny venue famed for its resident hound, the late Roof Dog (RIP). “It’s a space where you can exist in any kind of art form,” explains Lottie. The band are grateful for it and the people they’ve met through it, but they don’t want it to define them. They do so by the far-reaching sprawl of their debut instead. Recorded with Dan Carey at his Streatham studio, it’s the sound of a band reacting to the world around them, and not settling for its shit. “It’s a lot about gentrification and the wealth gap that exists in London, which is insane,” says Lottie. “It’s got to the point where even the UN is saying this is breaching human rights. How does that exist in a place that’s so seemingly functioning?”
It’s fitting that in the distance a block or two away is the incessant whirr of construction work. Goat Girl might be nearly 5,000 miles away from home, but the same issues surround them. “A lot of people blame the people that move to places [for gentrification] and I don’t think that’s necessary,” bassist Naima (Jelly) says, as talk turns to Austin’s position in the race to be the location of Amazon’s second US HQ. “The big corporations manage to lurk behind everything. These big companies avoid tax and fuck everyone in the arse, but then they give us such comfort it’s hard to turn against them.” “As humans, we like everything to be quite simple,” rationalises Lottie. “We don’t like the grey matter that exists in between. That’s how politics works and why it’s so simplified for us - so we can understand good and evil.” Look at last year’s general election, or the European referendum the year before, and you’ll quickly see the narrative she speaks of in play. Goat Girl have long said they don’t want to be a political band, but admit it’s hard to avoid talking about the state of things in their songs when “everything you do is political”. That said, there’s only one specific verse on their debut - the closing lines of the fiery ‘Burn The Stake’. In them, Lottie angrily howls ‘Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Tories on top / Put the D.U.P. in the middle and we’ll burn the fucking lot.’ It’s a cutting take on Theresa May’s decision to ally with Northern Ireland’s far right-wingers, but even that could be related to a different situation, like a more general hatred of those political parties and their damaging policies. It’s not just corporations and government officials that are in Goat Girl’s crosshairs. On the country fiddle-soaked ‘Creep’, they tackle the unwanted attention of the male gaze. The lyrics find Lottie imagining what she would do to the titular creep - ‘scum of life, silly brain’ with a ‘dirty trouser stain’ - if she could. ‘I want to smash your head right in,’ it finishes. That song might have been written about a specific incident when a man started filming the frontwoman on a train, but even at SXSW the band have had experiences that prove that kind of thing’s not a one off. On stage two nights before we meet, Ellie felt weirded out by the way a guy in the crowd was looking at her and her bandmates. “That could have been paranoia,” she says now, “but I really felt it when I was on stage.” The band are in agreement with each other that they “can’t really do anything” in that situation, their words reflecting the way women are conditioned to minimise situations - shrug them off and ignore them to avoid putting yourself in unnecessary danger. They might feel unable to always stop things, but they say they’re determined to use their growing platform “for the greater good and protection of women”. “[Before], it was like, ‘You should just expect that, you just have to put up with it’,” Rosy says, referring to the current sea change in attitudes to women’s stories of harassment. “But you don’t have to. It’s so good that 46 diymag.com
women are being believed now.” On stage, Goat Girl don’t play into typical rock ‘n’ roll performativity - or indulge in macho behaviour to align themselves with their male peers. Instead, they are a blank canvas - neutral, fluid, behaving how they want. On record, they shun gendered expectations, too. ‘The Man’ has Lottie sneering ‘You’re the man for me’ as if she means anything but that. “It’s almost a parody of how people think we should feel,” she explains. “Like, ‘I need a man to revolve my life around’. The way I try and sing it is like, ‘Oh, well done. Here’s a treat.’” Ellie is quick to add one thing, as her bandmates laugh at Lottie’s patronising tone: “We don’t hate men!”
Some listeners have been quick to tell the band that ‘The Man’ - which can also be taken at face value as a love song - isn’t as interesting as the rest of their catalogue. Rosy relays an anecdote about someone at a past show telling them as much. The drummer’s response? “We obviously have those feelings. We fall in love.” She pauses to look Dan Carey across the table at Lottie and Naima before Lottie: We abide by him like adding with a wide grin: “We like boys!”
Goat Girl on... a god because you just know he’s so clever. He’s our wizard. Rosy: I would jump off a cliff for that man. Political differences
Lottie: As a society, we create enemies when we should have conversations. It needs to be approached in a better way ‘cause we always approach these things in a really aggressive, argumentative manner. Mental health in music
Naima: [Being in a band] is mentally straining. It’s a funny job to have - you don’t have any routine. Lottie: It’s not a consistent thing. It’s like you’re employed, but then you’re not at the same time. You’re basically like a doctor on call. Mark E Smith
Rosy: I cried so much the day he died. We’d been at a gig at The Lexington with a free bar so I was so drunk. When I went home I put on ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ and was crying my eyes out. I forgot our housemate Charlie had two friends staying in the living room, next to my room. The next day they were like, ‘Is she OK? What’s wrong with her?’
They cite one man in particular as being one of their biggest influences - Ben Wallers of Scottish art-punks Country Teasers. He even gets a shout out on ‘Country Sleaze’ in the lyric ‘Wallers, find me you country tease.’ “I would never have imagined we would be on a name level basis with him,” Lottie says of their now-mate. “He’s an idol. He follows this idea that a lot of comedians do, in this satirical way. It’s funny, but also really important to have that tongue-in-cheek humour about something completely disastrous.” Naima nods in agreement, before explaining how wide-reaching his influence is. “The whole weird South London ‘scene’ that everyone is always ranting on about is because of him completely. Every single band that I know [is inspired by him]. I don’t think he even knows it.” It makes perfect sense that the “too humble” ladies would credit someone apparently equally as modest with playing such a huge part in their lives. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to hear another band saying the same about the Londoners a couple of decades down the line. They probably won’t tell you this themselves, but Goat Girl are one of the best new bands the UK has produced in aeons, with all the potential to become true GOATs later down the line. ‘Goat Girl’ is out 6th April via Rough Trade Records. DIY Goat Girl are appearing at The Great Escape, Mad Cool Festival and Citadel this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
“As humans, we like everything to be quite simple.” Lottie ‘Clottie Cream’
F ROM TEXAS WITH LOVE
Words: Lisa Wright. Photos:
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. sxsw is a musical minefield it. ate We attempted to navig
FROM TEXAS WITH LOVE
Across seven days, in the balmy heat of Austin and with the Beast from the East a distant bad dream, SXSW offers up an almost entirely overwhelming selection of music coming out of every venue, bar, road side and student block available. Don’t get us wrong, not everyone here is set to be the next Lorde. From novelty-outfitted rappers on street corners, to a hipster with a typewriter professing himself to be a ‘poet for hire’ and a group of old men playing very aggressive violins that we happened to stumble upon while having a wee, there’s a lot of nonsense nestled among the hype. But oh lordy, is there hype too. Stumble down the main stretch of 6th Street – which remains barricaded off for the whole week because this place is far too crowded for such trivialities as cars – and you’ll find 14 solid hours of non-stop bands every day. From the unofficial daytime showcases to the super-buzzy evening hot tips, SXSW is a constant barrage of people and noise. Dear readers, take our hands and let us guide you through it all… eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee monday NIGHT
DIY@British Music Embassy at Latitude 30
quartet are a completely confident outfit that know and own their niche entirely.
ith the festival’s music programme just beginning, and after a sun-drenched day filled with diversions that fully live up to the city’s ‘Keep Austin Weird’ mantra (ever heard of Goat Yoga? You have now...), Glasgow’s Breakfast Muff kick off the stage with an instrument-swapping set of ramshackle political punk. Hailing from the city’s thriving DIY scene, the trio – who rotate instruments throughout like a particularly impressive game of musical chairs – tout the kind of sub-three-minute, no fat bursts that mix playful, sarcastic lyrics with big, lo-fi punk riffs.
Winnipeg boy Boniface – our THE BRITANYS token Canadian on the bill – might channel an altogether shinier kind of kick (think Two Door Cinema Club with a yearning undertone), but tonight he proves a far more buoyant and celebratory performer than his early singles might suggest. Taking the more restrained hooks of ‘I Will Not Return As A Tourist’ and dialling them up a few notches, Boniface is aiming for pop’s big leagues. Returning to Scotland, and Catholic Action are old hands at this now. With last year’s debut LP ‘In Memory Of’ cementing them as wonderfully wonky purveyors of fizzing, playful indie high jinx, the
Meanwhile, London-via-Sweden’s Francobollo tout the perfect combination of giddy earworm hooks and rollocking, sweaty fervour. With half of the band shirtless, they dish up high-octane hedonism that veers into strange experimental tangents while still keeping one foot on the hookladen pop machine. ‘Worried BONIFACE Times’ – a far more joyful highlight than its title may suggest – is an idiosyncratic delight. Fresh from DIY’s Class of 2018 tour with Pale Waves (who also show up at the venue tonight to support their buds), Our Girl are fine-tuning their powerful dynamic with every day. Masterfully veering from soft introversions to heavy chunks of noise, Soph Nathan leads the trio through a set that’s all about the control: knowing when to pull back and when to unleash for maximum impact. Bringing the showcase home, Hull boys LIFE know how to leave people satisfied. Donning a pair of Hunter S Thompson-style yellow specs, singer Mez Green scales the bar, parading down the length of it whilst busting the kind of angular moves that fully justify his frequent Jarvis comparisons. ‘Euromillions’ is a juddering, politically-charged snarl, while debut LP title track ‘Popular Music’’s relentless surge is still their indie disco-ready highlight. LIFE
icking off the evening, Londoner Suzi Wu is a confident and uncompromising voice. Drawing from the King Krule school of angsty atmospherics and lyrical dexterity, the still-20-year-old singer needs little pomp and ceremony to hit home. It’s sparse, but in the best way, and it leaves Suzi to stand front and centre entirely.
FROM TEXAS WITH LOVE
Following on from fellow Madrid natives Hinds and The Parrots, it feels like Baywaves could be the next Spanish band to break through beyond those shores. A woozy take on psych-pop, the quartet tout a very different sound to their garage rock pals, but there’s a similarly laid-back vibe that runs between them. “We’re Public Access TV and it’s so good to be opening up the whole of SXSW!” jokingly declares frontman John Eatherley at the start of the New Yorkers’ set. It sets the tone for a slick and playful half-hour that channels the effortless charisma of the city’s finest. While the joyous hedonism of oldies ‘In Love and Alone’ and ‘On Location’ still distill the essence of being young and free, its the cuts from new LP ‘Street Safari’ that really push things outwards. ‘Rough Boy’ is a Ramones punk bop brought into 2018, while recent single ‘Metrotech’ is a strutting disco stomp.
noticeably. It’s completely warranted, too. With a superlative debut about to drop, the band have a strange and subtle arsenal to hand that veers between rattling hits (‘Cracker Drool’, ‘The Man’), sneering statements (‘Creep’) and odd idiosyncrasies that land somewhere in the middle (‘The Man With No Heart Or Brain’, a cover of ‘Tomorrow’ from kids’ gangster musical Bugsy Malone). Closing the night with the kind of deranged demeanour that could get you put in hospital, Starcrawler singer Arrow de Wilde is every part the frontwoman. Sure, there are times when her persona veers a little too close for comfort to a parody of the mentally ill, but you sense she’s trying to channel the maniacal behaviour of Iggy and co – a ‘70s rock lineage that runs throughout the band’s glammy garage rock.
Public Access TV
In comparison, fellow NY boys The Britanys have tapped into something darker today. Smashing his mouth up on the mic in the first song, frontman Lucas Long – hood up and snarling – prowls the stage like a caged tiger, a newfound aggression pushing the quartet into harder, tougher territory. As Goat Girl take to the stage, the crowd has swelled eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee 50 diymag.com
Jade Bird This Northampton gal might dwell largely in the country world, but there’s something in her selfeffacing, humour-laden between song patter that brings her into more modern territory. She’s even roped half of Mystery Jets into her band: credible kudos, indeed. It’s in her rasping, rootsy howl that Jade really packs a punch though, and in closer ‘Lottery’ (“You used to tell me that love is a lottery / And you got your numbers/ And you’re betting on me) she nails the critical trick of expressing an ageold sentiment with fresh eyes.
Sunflower Bean Heading into second album ‘Twentytwo In Blue’, these New Yorkers now have a formidable arsenal of material at their disposal. Where cuts from debut ‘Human Ceremony’ proved them to be a band capable of disparate pleasures - the razor-edged ‘Wall Watcher’ a sonic mile away from the lilting sweetness of ‘Easier Said’ - their second goes some way to filling in the gaps. Dishing up semi-title track ‘Twentytwo’ and its Fleetwood Mac gauzy softness alongside the classic rock stomp of ‘Crisis Fest’, the trio’s canon continues to take new side streets, while simultaneously connecting the roadmap into one superior whole.
FROM TEXAS WITH LOVE
Pronounced ‘howdy’ (Chvrches: you’ve got a lot to answer for...), this Austin duo are in their self-professed “comfort zone” here at SXSW. Their sun-drenched slacker rock echoes the feeling, too. Channelling the easy, dappled warmth of Real Estate, they’re a mid-afternoon tonic, a softly fuzzy hangover cure to ease you back into the highoctane rush around them.
Another quiet night in for Starcrawler...
FROM TEXAS WITH LOVE SHAME Of all the UK bands storming to the top of the SXSW buzz charts this year, these boys are undoubtedly at the toppermost peak of the pile. To witness cowboy hat-toting frontman Charlie Steen, rubbing saliva into his bare chest with a delightfully disgusting leer before shouting his bands’ sarcastic, searing missives, his whole body taut with wired energy, is to watch someone whose performance is as physical as it is musical. Bassist Josh Finnerty leaps and bounds around the stage, ending rolling on the floor, while the rest are pillars of wired noise. It’s an assault of attitude and energy that gets even the industry-centric SX crowd moshing and Coming to a London Fashion crowd-surfing. No new band can even Week runway near you touch Shame right now. camo meets cowboy.
Stella Donnelly PUSSY RIOT
Introduced by famed whistleblower Chelsea Manning and now with formerly-imprisoned member Nadya Tolokonnikova back in the fold, Pussy Riot’s set was always going to be a talking point. Throwing disses at Putin and serving up tracks including ‘Straight Outta Vagina’ (“My vagina is tough and dangerous / Shaking up the major labels”), their politics are clear and strong. Musically, it’s more all over the place – a blitzkrieg of relentless electro-clash that feels more like a test than a treat. Still, you sense maybe that’s the point.
If there was an award for the festival’s Most Charming, then this Australian would be lapping almost all the competition. Solo and armed only with a guitar, her dry humour – both in song and off – dispels any risk of sombre singer-songwriter-dom, instead imbuing the whole thing with an easy, affable appeal. Whether she’s sassing a man who told her she swears too much in the run up to ‘Mechanical Bull’ - “I’m gonna keep on fucking doing it,” she twinkles by way of a punchline – or closing the set with the honeyed, ‘50s lilt of ‘Mean To Me’, the sweetest song around about someone being an asshole, Stella is the kind of warm narrator that has the crowd in the palm of her hands.
Depending on your natural levels of cynicism, Montreal’s Anemone could go one of two ways. For those of the “fucking hippies” school of thought, the psych-pop quintet’s free-loving schtick (featuring some Rainbow Rhythms level dance moves from singer Chloe Soldevila) will have your eyes rolling to the back of your neck. On a sun-dappled Austin afternoon, however, you can’t help but be sucked in. Channelling a Flaming Lips-esque level of weirdo good vibes, they pepper songs with French and finish by dishing out tambourines and inviting the crowd to dance with them on stage.
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LOVE Speedy Ortiz were all ready to go with a curveball album of love songs, until the election of Donald Trump shook the world. Heading back to the drawing board, and giving proceedings a firey jolt of playful wordplay, ‘Twerp Verse’ is the result of a rethink. Words: El Hunt. Photos: Jenn Five.
ast your minds back three years, right before the release of Speedy Ortiz’s second album ‘Foil Deer’, and Sadie Dupuis - self-described frontdemon of the group - was already finished with writing the follow-up. Frustrated with “how slow this stuff moves,” and driven by her “workaholic” approach to making art, she decided to busy herself with yet another project in the meantime. The whole thing would evolve into her first solo album as Sad13, a chopsy, synth-covered ‘Slugger’ punch that whacked open the doors of dialogue with a cartoon baseball bat. Taking on vital topics like consent and affirmative action against misogyny, all the while with a glitter-soaked, pop slant, the project was a personal revelation. As well as opening up countless creative doors, it also took Sadie on tour across a fractured USA, tensions and bigotry bubbling in the wake of Trump’s disastrous election victory.
through parts I knew had voted for Trump,” Sadie says, looking back on the moment her priorities underwent a profound shift. “Having my bandmates harassed at gas stations, and feeling worried for our safety… I mean this was a tour of five women; I wanna say 80% of us are queer or women of colour, and we all had pepper spray for the first time.” Sadie’s experiences on the road touring as Sad13 confirmed her earlier hunches; her first draft of Speedy Ortiz’s third album - then, a record of personal “lovey-dovey” songs - felt to strike a duff note, out of beat with the fraught political landscape around her. Cracking on and recording it regardless didn’t change Speedy’s minds, either. Instead, Sadie just felt apathetic, and increasingly frustrated with the whole process. “It just felt vapid,” she offers today, pulling no punches. “I don’t really need love songs right now”.
“I had this whole tour through the country, going
& 54 diymag.com
“Sadie, can I borrow a ciggie?” “Nope!”
“I don’t really need love songs right now.” -
CKETS Sadie Dupuis
Boosted up again as she watched friends and strangers alike leading new important movements - from the wave of #MeToo allegations shaking up the tired old status quo, to the groups of artists joining forces to fight back against an unfair, unequal system - Sadie found herself feeling strangely optimistic amid the hopelessness surrounding Speedy’s third album, mark 2. The resulting creation is ‘Twerp Verse’. It’s a playful, unwieldy record that bends and adapts language, and shapes strange allegorical stories out of curious puns, with a rocket-charged drive to change things. From ‘Lucky 88’’s “one more time with reeling” mantra, to neatly aligning sounds that brush on each other in pleasing lyrical cogs, you’re never quite sure where any one idea is going to end up. A prying man on the bus asking unsolicited personal questions gets a ribbing on ‘Villian’, Sadie mockingly cooing “I wanna know what kind of porn you like” in a belittling retort. The songwriting process itself gets a meta look-in on ‘Moving In’, explaining its own decision to include a freshman prom date out of nowhere. And ‘Lean In When I Suffer,’ meanwhile sees her insisting she doesn’t “wanna lopside my language”, on a record that practically draws directly from the textbook of lopsided, linguistically tricksy rock. “Part of it is disconnected from meaning,” she explains. “And that’s just about enjoying language and being playful with it. If there’s fun in Speedy Ortiz, that’s always where it comes from. I have a lot of fun playing with puns, and going three quarters of the way through a line that people think they know where it’s going to go, and flipping it somewhere different. But it’s also about wanting to do that while saying something substantial,” she adds as a disclaimer. In a recent New Yorker piece about fellow pun-lover Ali Smith (author of How to Be Both, which won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction around the same time that ‘Foil Deer’ came out) writer James Wood reckons that “even as things split apart, they can be brought together. The pun is essentially a rhyme,” he adds, “and rhyme unites.” It’s a sentiment that Sadie Dupuis - whose lyricism hinges on a love of language and meaning, in a world where lies can somehow be spun as ‘alternative facts’, and meaning seems more distorted than
ALL & OATS
You whipped up some homemade slime for your ‘Lucky 88’ video, but do you have any other genius DIY recipes you’d like to share with us? “I can give my really boring one. I got vocal chord nodules, which sucks, and I’d been doing all sorts of DIY remedies to treat it, because I didn’t know what it was, and all of them are really bad. I would eat raw garlic all day long. Now, I have been put on the most boring diet of my life. I can’t have anything spicy, acidic in any sense - no tomatoes, berries, citrus fruits - and I’m already a vegan. My life is very drab. So I wanna say like, Goop level shit. Coldplay man’s ex-wife. Oh fuck, what’s her name? Oh shit, what is it? GWYNETH PALTROW. I’m into some Gwyneth level shit right now. Basically, i’m really into overnight oats. That’s where I’m leading with this.”
ever - agrees with. Even as things grow darker, Speedy Ortiz have a knack for cutting through the chaos. “I have Guillermo del Toro [the director of the Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water] on my mind,” she says, “because he’s done some really great anti-fascist movies that are also these huge scope, Hollywood-like, beautiful magical realist worlds. I’ve always preferred to go the allegorical route,” she adds. “I can think of the past few months, when we were on tour in the fall, the #MeToo allegations coming out everyday - many of which were really harrowing - it became really hard to use the internet. It was very triggering and reminiscent of shit that we’ve all been through. I think it was important to me to write about these issues,” she adds, “but do it in a way that provides some hope and some optimism. Especially because I do feel so much optimism.” “I think the optimism of this record is that we can re-educate society,” she picks up, “and that we’ve already started to do that work. When there is humour, it’s about dismissing these devilish figures of misogyny and bigotry that we’re working actively to replace; not only in our government, but in entertainment, and in our personal lives. If there’s a sense of reclaiming power, it’s about using humour to show that you’ve moved beyond these outdated ideas. It’s not just a record for women to feel empowered, it’s for men to feel empowered to not be toxic, and to be a part of a movement of equality too. As a white person, there are also moments on the record where I’m thinking about my need to listen and be an ally, and not be at the centre of things.” ‘Twerp Verse’ might seem, at cursory glance, to be about the complexities of an individual relationship. Dig deeper, and this is a complex, tricksy record about having a responsible relationship with the world at large. Coupling dissection of the world’s shittiest strains with a lasting reminder to be kind, it’s a beaming, fun-loving twerp verse of an album that’s also here to shake things up. “We can do something about this,” Sadie urges, “but it’s also important to honour your feelings and the sadness that you feel. The world hasn’t always been good to everyone, and we’re working to do better.” ‘Twerp Verse’ is out 27th April via Carpark Records. diy
Pursuit Pleasure THE
On 2015’s ‘Multi-Love’, Ruban Nielson saw his personal life laid out and analysed. Now, on fourth LP ‘Sex & Food’, the Unknown Mortal Orchestra main man is trying to keep it “dumb”. Or his version of it, at least… Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Jenn Five.
t’s OK,” half-sighs, half laughs Ruban Nielson. “If I’m a killjoy, then I’m a killjoy...” Sitting in a cafe in the middle of London’s white-out snow storm, having just gamely contorted himself into various poses for DIY’s photoshoot, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s affable lynchpin seems anything but the vibe sponge he’s acquiescing to. With a tattoo of a third eye peering out at you from just below his Adam’s apple, he’s certainly no square at least. But, after opening himself up for public consumption on 2015 album ‘Multi-Love’ - a record written about the year he spent in a polyamorous relationship with his wife and a new partner - the New Zealander began to find that the heavy and meaningful way his life was being portrayed was at frustrating odds with his own view of himself. “The thing I regret is that it came across so deep and intense and I got so tired of that because it’s not my personality or what my records are supposed to be about,” he explains. “I couldn’t read much about that [last album] because the way that people viewed it just seemed so depressing. The time that I wrote the last album about was a whole year of being really silly and stupid. It wasn’t this intense thing – all that stuff came into it, but that wasn’t what the year was like...” It’s an experience that’s clearly made him more wary in situations such as these. Even now, three years after and with a new record on the way, he back-ends every insight into the album or the world at large with a giggled groan or an affirmation of his own lack of depth. “I’m really simple and dumb and I think that’s an important part of what I want [this new] record to be about,” he protests. “I don’t want it to be something that you delve into or something that’s weighing on people. I want it to be a relief from heaviness.” It’s also one of the key reasons why ‘Sex & Food’ is titled in such a primal fashion. “When I called this record ‘Sex & Food’ I thought, oh no, people are gonna think I’m being really intense and existential again,” he sighs. “But I wanted to call it that so the first impression that you get of hearing about the record would be very simple and positive. I had one more chance to put a frame around this feeling that I’m trying to achieve and I needed something that would explain how dumb I am.”
Ruban, though, is clearly far from it. Having managed to take his strange breed of woozy distortion out of his Portland basement studio and onto sizeable stages across the world, he’s now four albums in, and with his own singular identity. Other artists might draw influence from his bubbling, lo-fi sounds, but no one does it quite like UMO. However, what becomes clear in conversation is that Ruban’s version of normalcy is just that bit skewed from most. What he sees as frivolous, the rest of the world sees as intriguingly oblique. What he regards as a normal day, other people see as the working practice of a madman tinkering around in a basement. What he counts as hi-fi, most ears regard as plain fucking weird. As he states, “I’m trying to make the perfect pop song all the time but my idea of a perfect pop song is someone else’s idea of distorted noise.” It’s a viewpoint that he’s fully embracing these days. If Unknown Mortal Orchestra has never been the kind of project to cow to other people’s ideas, then on ‘Sex & Food’ he’s being even more himself than ever. “I spend more time making it sound worse,” he laughs of his process. “I spend all this time and skill making it sound less commercial or less appealing to certain people, but that’s the way I want it to sound. And it probably makes my music less successful than it should be, but I suppose I don’t care. Or maybe I can’t care?!”
not about hope or politics, it’s about human things. It’s about recording some feelings about living in this era that we’re going through, just recording them and capturing them all and putting them in a capsule,” he says. “Because I saw the last record [as] my fun, happy record, I thought, oh this is gonna be even worse where people are gonna focus even more on [me] being depressed and [thinking] that the world has gone to shit. But I don’t think that’s what this record is about at all. I think most of the dark things, or about 50% of what I say that sounds dark, is actually a joke.”
From the ballsy opening statement of first single ‘American Guilt’ – a loaded title fronting the most gnarly, riffy track to bear the UMO name to date – you can see why Ruban might need to stress the humour behind the apparent seriousness. Though ‘Sex & Food’ has its more obviously soft moments (the feather-light sweetness of ‘Hunnybee’ – an ode to his daughter – for one), there are nods to cultural unease, drug use and, on closer ‘If You’re Going To Break Yourself’, a track that’s “literally about some friends of mine that stopped hanging out with me because I wasn’t a junkie anymore”. It is not, on the surface, as free and “dumb” a record as Ruban makes out. But then, as ever with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, you’d be foolish to just stay on surface level. “I’m a person that needs humour a I want to be a real lot. When people need humour If all this presents the 38-yearthey see it more often and it’s person. I don’t want to be a old musical polymath as a kind easier to get what I’m doing,” he of outsider art sorcerer, cut explains. “I suppose the problem from the same cloth as music’s is that I don’t think of it as serious classic creative oddballs, then because my life has maybe that seems only partly true been a little bit heavy. When I’m these days. Sure, he’s not the writing things that I think are 9-to-5 type (“I make my best normal, other people hear them work when I’m completely, and think they’re really [dark]. But 100% stimulated,” he nods. “If like, on ‘Ministry of Alienation’, I’m working on whatever I’m which is one of the most serious working on for 12 hours alone in moments, I put this really stupid the dark or with a blue light on lyric in there that goes ‘no-one then I get into a strange state of will fuck the ugly robot’. People mind and something happens”), talk about sex robots and I was but he’s also learning that to write about life, you have to thinking about how funny it would be to have a really ugly sex actually live a real one too. Unlike around the release of ‘Multirobot that no-one chose and then the sex robot would be sad Love’, when the frontman confessed that while he didn’t know like a normal person that’s unattractive...” He laughs. “I don’t if his relationship was a good idea, he knew it would at least actually know what that means, but I thought it was a good provide some artistic fuel, now he’s taking a more grounded line...” approach to his existence. “I know musicians who are constantly throwing themselves into bad situations and letting their life go Written in and influenced by travels to cities including Reykjavik, off the rails so they feel like they can have something to write Hanoi, and Mexico City, ‘Sex & Food’ is a record in and of the about and I realised that’s like the law of diminishing returns,” world at large. It’s an album that could only have been made he explains. “Life has to be happening for real – you can’t just be by the man at the centre of it, but one imbued with a sense of a method actor. I think I thought that was how it’s done, that it universality, in its title and beyond. It’s funny and sad and joyful was what you’re supposed to do, but now I feel like life is crazy and strange all at once, sitting in the strange middle ground enough without having to allow the madness to overtake you. between these things, again much like its creator. “I think more I want to be a real person. I don’t want to be a content farm for and more I’m discovering that the idea of being in some weird my own records.” between realm is basically my entire personality and experience of everything,” shrugs Ruban. “I come from New Zealand and I’m And so, when he began work on ‘Sex & Food’, Ruban began mixed race and I have multiple citizenships, so I’ve never really to let what was happening in the unfiltered world around him felt included or able to identify with any of the categories that are seep in. Unsurprisingly as an American resident, a sense of around. I tried my best to do that but I’ve got to the point now the omnipotent unease of living through Trump’s presidency where I’m old enough to accept that I don’t care about any of that became unavoidable. “I was aware as I got into it that it was stuff. At the moment, people are becoming more adamant about going to be impossible to keep all that out,” he notes. But their identities and more atomised and I still can’t see what the rather than force a statement, the singer decided to allow this point of that is. I just feel connected to other human beings.” influence but not focus on it. Thus, ‘Sex & Food’ is not a political album, but an album that exists in a highly politicised time. “It’s ‘Sex & Food’ is out 6th April via Jagjaguwar. DIY
“ content farm for my own records.”
Little known fact: Ruban is actually half-man, half-zebra.
The Mile High Club Ruban flew to all sorts of exotic destinations during the making of ‘Sex & Food’.
“Every time I’m there, it reminds me of an upside down version of New Zealand. It’s not densely populated; people are friendly but hard; it has the Northern Lights and home has the Southern Lights. They’re just very similar: the landscapes are reasonably untouched and at times you feel like you’re on another planet.”
“There’s this weird connection with music I loved from my childhood and the Vietnam war because [it was played on] so many war films and TV shows. So I thought instead of going to New York to record at Electric Lady Studios, I could go to Vietnam and it would make me think of The Supremes and Jimi Hendrix and stuff like that. And it did.”
“I was thinking how I always loved the story of David Bowie and Iggy Pop going to Berlin. But there was no reason for me to go to Berlin, so I thought the modern equivalent of being there in the ‘70s with the Berlin Wall and that tension would be the border between North and South Korea. So we tried to find the studio that was as close as possible.”
IIlustration: Babak Ganjei.
Boarding house reach
here’s a popular view of Jack White. It’s one that casts him as a crotchety nostalgist, sitting in a wooden cabin surrounded by tape reels, with two tin cans and a string in place of a phone and a three-mile restraining order on anyone with a Facebook profile. It’s a reputation that people love and loathe in equal measure. For the acolytes, he’s a purist to be held aloft in these increasingly fickle and transient musical times; a man so devoted to the vinyl cause that he started an entire empire (Third Man Records) in celebration of it. For the naysayers, he’s a cartoonish regressive killjoy, with no concept of modern pleasures. But either way, he’s a man whose work always comes preloaded with expectation. People think they know Jack White. People think they’ve got his schtick nailed.
(Third Man / XL)
It’s why the genuine oddness of ‘Boarding House Reach’ – Jack’s third solo album away from his many and various successful bands – is such a delight. True, it’s palpably the work of the Detroit star - from start to finish, his wired electricity is shot throughout. But it’s no nostalgic safe bet. Because what those preconceptions rarely factor in is that, far from your average sepia-tinged muso, Jack is and always has been a true weirdo with a brain that operates like no other. And here, he’s on gloriously eccentric form. Preceding singles ‘Connected By Love’ – a relatively straightforward, rootsy offering, albeit one underpinned by wobbling,
Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
CONNECTED BY LOVE
EWS buzzing noise – and ‘Corporation’’s largely instrumental, howling jam might have hinted at a reasonably disparate record, but among ‘BHR’’s capering 13 tracks, they’re only the beginning. ‘Abulia and Akrasia’ is a 90-second Argentine tango with a spoken word vocal that sounds like the beginning of a cowboy western; ‘Hypermisophoniac’ (a riff on misophonia aka a hatred of sound) fuses warped vocal affectations with discordant bleeps ripped straight from the world’s shittest computer game, while ‘Everything You’ve Ever Learned’’s robotic spoken opening wrong-turns you before Jack comes in with deranged preacher man howls of “Do you want everything?! Do you want to start a fire, then watch it burn?!”. It’s weird and brilliant, and anything but regressive. Forever associated in popular culture with the accessible hooks of ‘Seven
Nation Army’ or ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’, it’s easy to forget that the majority of The White Stripes’ back catalogue was actually a series of oddball vignettes, pushed into the mainstream by a handful of hits so massive they overrode any weirdness beneath. Jack still writes those kind of things too: you only need listen to the fizzing riffs of ‘Over and Over and Over’ to know that he can pop a banger out when he fancies. But it’s more interesting to try and dodge through the esoteric backwaters of his mind, past the hillbilly storytelling of ‘Ezmerelda Steals The Show’ through the dystopian, meta follow up of ‘Get In The Mind Shaft’ (“I sat there for hours trying to understand how to construct a melody”) to a place that’s so much more exciting than any reductive stereotype could let slip. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Everything You’ve Ever Learned’, ‘Corporation’, ‘Over and Over and Over’
THE VACCINES combat sports (Columbia)
‘Combat Sports’ is neither sequel nor faithful reboot. It might harness the energy of 2011 debut, ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’, but its also far smoother and smarter than they’ve ever been. Relationships, as with most of Justin Young’s writing, are the main focus. On ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’, they dabble in big FM hooks while the frontman plays the part of an old school radio head, locked into the airwaves and listening out for his love. ‘Out On The Street’ details the souring of an affair, Justin sneering “I’m an uninspiring ending, but the best you’ve ever known”, while ‘Take It Easy’ is chiming girl-group pop. Still, whether they’re fragile or cocksure, The Vaccines’ return can really be summed up by one moment on the euphoric-as-they-come ‘Surfing In The Sky’. After an assertive chorus, the frontman lets out a “woo!”. It’s short and easily missed, but catch it and you’ll be able to feel the excitement, freedom, and, perhaps, relief of a band rejuvenated. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘I Can’t Quit’, ‘Surfing In The Sky’
A BAND REJUVENATED.
WE ARE SCIENTISTS megaplex (100%)
Six albums in, it makes sense that We Are Scientists know exactly what they want their records to sound like, and ‘Megaplex’ offers ten-tracks of buttonbright indie-pop. An opening salvo of ‘One In, One Out’ and ‘Notes In A Bottle’ wastes little time in establishing the album’s unashamedly pop aesthetic; its production bold, bombastic and deliciously lush. Of course, for all its pop pomp and luscious production, there’s still elements of angular freneticism; brooding despondency providing a sour edge to an otherwise sugary record. From the loping likes of ‘Not Another Word’ to the airy closing anthem ‘Properties of Perception’, Megaplex is a bright and breezy romp that’s impossible not to tap along to. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ‘You’ve Changed’
Photo: Jenn Five.
i need to start a garden (Mama Bird)
A strong sense of emotion creates a powerful atmosphere on Haley Heynderickx’s debut, each finger’s pick at a nylon string resonating, the Oregon native’s dynamic vocal range leading the listener on an intimate journey. Aside from the occasional flourish of strings and piano or cacophonous horns, she largely confines herself to a lone guitar, which allows her soft vocals and colourful lyrics to take centre stage. ‘The Bug Collector’ creates a magical atmosphere as she sings about a “praying mantis in the bathtub” and a “millipede on the carpet” as metaphors for her religious past - a theme that reappears on ‘Untitled God Song’. ‘Worth It’, meanwhile, recalls Pavement-style rock’n’roll at points, in an eight-minute highlight that metamorphoses between sliding arpeggios and angsty power chords. Tender without being twee, this debut LP ultimately captures a moment that is both genuine and touching. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘No Face’
If one thing’s clear across ‘Treehouse’, it’s that Sofi Tukker don’t do things by halves. Launching themselves in with opener ‘Fuck They’, it’s a gorgeous mess of a record that revels in the absurd. ‘Batshit’ is exactly that, Tukker Halpern channeling his inner Right Said Fred with copious amounts of sass heaped on top. ‘Energia’, meanwhile, feels like stumbling into an unfamiliar club at the peak of a night out and throwing yourself right on in. ‘Johny’ shows the duo’s versatility, opting for a slower, slinkier approach, but it’s the thudding bass and untameable energy that gives ‘Treehouse’ its life. ‘Baby I’m A Queen’ is a full-on EDM thrash, and sounds all the better for its lack of pretence, while ‘Best Friend’ is a suitably outlandish finale. The biggest takeaway from ‘Treehouse’ is that Sofi Tukker are having more fun than you. It’s time to join in. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Best Friend’
virtue (Cult Records)
The second offering from Julian Casablancas’ The Voidz is truly a mercurial beast. Opening with ‘Leave It In My Dreams’ - a track filled with the kind of sparkling yet muted riffs that wouldn’t sound wholly out of place nestled within his other band (you know, that one) - it lures you into a false sense of security. Perhaps they’ve ditched the abrasiveness of 2014 debut ‘Tyranny’? Perhaps our ol’ buddy Jules is keeping it simpler this time around? WRONG. As the distorted assault of ‘QYURRYUS’ kicks in, it’s clear they’re keeping it as weird as ever. ‘Pyramid of Bones’ features a genuine metal death growl; ‘My Friend The Walls’ is a hallucinogenic trip through an autotune hellscape, while ‘Black Hole’ is a claustrophobic attack that sounds like it was recorded in one. There’s so much to take in, it’s almost hard to know if it’s even any good. Between these sensory overloads, however, we get the funky bop of ‘All Wordz Are Made Up’ and the acoustic lullaby of ‘Think Before You Drink’. The combination is bonkers, a mad experiment of throwing a thousand things at the wall and seeing 70% of it stick from the most contrary indie legend around. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘All Wordz Are Made Up’
AS WEIRD AS EVER. 65
ALBUMS eeee GUM
eeee SPEEDY ORTIZ
the underdog (Spinning Top)
twerp verse (Carpark)
Speedy Ortiz have always been a band with an established knack for turning the personal political, presenting cutting social dissections through the lens of kaleidoscopic, surreal worlds. New album ‘Twerp Verse’ is every bit as fantastical; this time through its deft manipulation of language. Sadie Dupuis piles in the witty linguistic tricks like her time could be up at any second; bizarre flips of familiar idioms and peculiar peeks of complex imagery with a poetic bent. The result of a re-think (binning an album’s worth of “lovey-dovey” songwriting) a stand-out comes from ‘Villain’, written early on in proceedings. “I wanna know what kind of porn you like,” coos the hook, belittling a strange man asking unsolicited, invasive questions. Though the majority of ‘Twerp Verse’ was written after Sad13’s solo ‘Slugger’, it’s easy to spot the creative similarities between the two, and the result is a sharpening of Speedy Ortiz’s axe to grind. Succinct, wry, and in tune with its context, there’s plenty to unpick, here. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Villain’
Aussie polymath Jay Watson can be considered a veteran of the kind of tie-dye pop that’s melted minds at festivals across the globe. GUM has historically been a much more low-key affair than Tame Impala and POND - an intergalactic journey explored largely from the comfort of his own bedroom studio. ‘The Underdog’ is a record that sees him continue his quest with joyful aplomb. As expected, bleary-eyed psychedelic pop numbers are the main ingredient, the triumphant title track setting the mark for what’s to come. Elsewhere on the record there are hints of dark, throbbing electronic funk. While the limited production leaves something to be desired (there’s little here that sounds like it was recorded with full live players), Jay’s knack for pop hooks makes his latest record shine just as much as his previous sun-soaked offerings. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Seratonin’
Goat girl (Rough Trade)
If the usual remit of a debut is to provide a kind of potted Greatest Hits So Far - a familiar, hit-packed wallop of singles with which to build upon – then ‘Goat Girl’ is vital proof that new bands can, and should, dream far bigger. Since their earliest steps, the quartet have persistently offered up a more experimental take on the standard two guitars, bass and drums formula. On this self-titled LP, they take their confidence and spread it over a warped 19-track journey that connects rattling, Proper Hits (‘Cracker Drool’, ‘The Man’), wonky shanties (‘The Man with No Heart or Brain’) and bleak dystopia (‘Throw Me A Bone’) with woozy spoken word and instrumental interludes that frame and shape the whole thing into an album in the truest sense. It’s ambitious and uncompromising, in both structure and content; rather than spoonfeeding, Goat Girl demand more from their listeners and provide more in tandem. As an opening statement, this is as gutsy and self-assured as they come. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Cracker Drool’, ‘Lay Down’
Photo: Phil Smithies.
Sadly the rest of the band refused to join in with Ellie’s ‘YMCA’ routine.
eee UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA sex & food (Jagjaguwar)
Delving into hedonistic pleasure-seeking on 2015’s ‘Multi-Love’, Unknown Mortal Orchestra have always specialised in a unique take on extra-terrestrial funk. In case you hadn’t gathered from the title, ‘Sex & Food’ is just as focused on life’s more, ahem, carnal pursuits, but this time seeks out, in the words of Ruban Nielson, “positivity despite the strangeness of our times.” Crafting unwieldy and low-key pop songs from a bizarre mixture of psych, blues, and glam rock, the stand-outs arrive in the shape of ‘Hunnybee’ - a slab of parping, warped lift-jazz - and the yowling, razor-edged ‘American Guilt’. This more paired back approach isn’t always successful, mind; certain parts of ‘Sex & Food’ - a bit like inviting whipped cream into the bedroom - seem like a really good idea at the start, but turn into a bit of a sloppy mess along the way. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Hunnybee’
KATE NASH yesterday was forever (Self-released)
‘Yesterday Was Forever’ comes eleven years after Kate Nash broke through, but it’s an album as courageous and fun as any debut. The guitar-driven ‘Life in Pink’ is brazen, ‘Call Me’ holds a catchy backbeat which burgeons into a full-on singalong chorus, and ‘My Little Alien’ is a smooth ditty which looks far beyond planet Earth. There’s something in her rhyming couplets – the ingenuity of which is comparable only to King of Sombre Couplets, Sufjan Stevens – that sets off her lyrics. Her rhymes feel so easy, but their meanings remain stark and honest. “Well I wish that I could take you to another time, where everything was cool and my mental health was fine,” she sings on ‘Life in Pink’. But, for all the trials and tribulations of relationships, it’s Kate’s insistence on making it as a musician that has stuck around. “To the music I’ll die,” she sings on piano-led ballad ‘To the Music I Belong.’ Songs about how much a singer loves singing can be, well, trite at the very least. But the startling openness with which Kate writes is nothing but warming. (Ellen Peirson-Hagger) LISTEN: ‘Body Heat’
Photo: Jenn Five. 67
FORTH WANDERERS forth wanderers (Sub Pop)
isaac gracie (Virgin EMI)
Isaac Gracie’s is a debut that feels split between the raw authenticity of his early demos, and slick pop. With singles ‘Terrified’ and ‘Last Words’, it starts as spectacular as any newcomer could hope for; majestic, soaring melodies stretching out beneath Isaac’s gut-wrenching musings on his own self-doubt. Bigger, bolder, and phenomenally more daring than his simple solo tunes, it’s a genuine shame more of the album doesn’t sound like this. Glossy production courtesy of Arcade Fire collaborator Markus Dravs isn’t enough to redeem ‘Telescope’ or ‘When You Go’, and Isaac’s throaty warble and sorry-for-himself anecdotes are endearing to begin with, but half a dozen lamentations about women and alcohol later, the running themes start to drone. Here’s hoping on album two he’ll turn his magnifying glass on something other than himself. (Alex Cabré) LISTEN: ‘‘The Death of You & I’
Isaac spills on what he had on the stereo as he put his self-titled debut together. max richter on the nature of daylight
It’s really patient and engrossing. When things got too muddling in the studio, the long moving string lines were a peaceful and melancholic retreat.
the velvet underground - the velvet underground
This is probably my favourite record of theirs. I love the sparse and intimate production.
the lemon twigs - do hollywood
This came out while I was in the studio and it blew me away. There’s so much going on but everything is still so well-conceived.
They might borrow their moniker from a Scottish non-league football club, but on the evidence of their self-titled debut, its clear this lot are shooting for the premiership of US indie instead. Despite living within the same zip code, Ava Trilling and Ben Guterl concocted the bones of ‘Forth Wanderers’ in the fashion of two pen pals from an era long past, swapping melody lines and lyrics. Bringing together two parallel creative paths, the result is an irresistible tautness that shapes their entire first full-length, angular lines competing with Trilling’s diary scribble writing; her vulnerable admissions bolstered by a serious punch. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Nevermine’
eeee TEEN CREEPS
From the opening clattering guitar/drum combo of ‘Sidenote’, ‘Birthmarks’ drags its listeners kicking and screaming back to the mid-‘90s. Its angst and anger is tangible in the pained delivery of singer-bass player Bert Vliegen, its heartbreak evident in his heart-on-sleeve lyricism. The sheer energy and aggression of ‘Will’ or ‘Thread’ provides perfect catharsis, the unbridled punk energy that surges through such tracks at direct odds with the more solemn and introspective likes of ‘Good Intentions’. Despite relishing in an aesthetic that one could argue has had its day, with ‘Birthmarks’ Teen Creeps manage to breath new life into tired lungs without deviating too far from the blueprints that made ‘90s indie as visceral and as cathartic as it was. An emotional tour de force of a record. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ‘Thread’
THE WONDER YEARS
eeee EELS the. deconstruction. (E Works / PIAS)
There’s something warmly comforting about E’s gruff, melancholy vocals, like watching a rainstorm from relative safety on the other side of doubleglazed windows. Over eleven albums, he’s perfected the art of swinging between moods: it’s ‘yeah, life sucks’ one verse, ‘get on with it’ the next. Album twelve, ‘The Deconstruction’ is no different, and reassuringly so: ‘Archie Goodnight’ sticks out as a gorgeous lullaby, ‘Bone Dry’ a lovelorn ‘fuck you’, and ‘Today Is The Day’ possesses a sliver of that oh-so-hopeful optimism that Eels are occasionally wont to spit out. Sometimes knowing what you’re gonna get ain’t so bad at all. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Bone Dry’
Q&A Switching it up helped The Wonder Years forge deeper connections on LP6, explains frontman Dan Campbell. You worked with a new producer this time what do you think it brought to the table? We did our last three records with Steve Evetts and had nothing but great experiences but we felt like we learned so much from him and were so comfortable with each other that it was time to learn from someone else. Joe [Chiccarelli] brought a different approach and energy to the process. He obviously impacted the record in a near infinite number of ways, but maybe most notably had us track the majority of the record live, together in one room which made it all feel really alive. What’s behind the choice of title? It came about in South America when I walked past Santiago’s monument to its sister cities but was really kind of living under the surface of the entire trip; the idea that everywhere is connected to everywhere else, that everyone is connected to one another. You’ll be touring the UK in April - what can we expect? We’ll have two new releases since the last time we’ve been to the UK. So we’re playing with interesting ways to roll out some new stuff that we haven’t had the chance to do in these cities before and are really excited about it.
sister cities (Hopeless)
For the better part of the last decade, The Wonder Years have become experts in lyrically astute, meaningful popinflected rock. With their latest effort - and sixth record to boot - they continue that trend, with frontman Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell once again painting excruciatingly detailed pictures of life’s challenges, frustrations and connections. Building upon the darker foundations of 2015’s ‘No Closer To Heaven’. ‘Sister Cities’ again sees their more musically heavy side flourish – the likes of ‘Raining In Kyoto’ and ‘We Look Like Lightning’ bursting into kinetic life - only to be occasionally punctuated with more delicate, intricate moments like ‘Flowers Where Your Face Should Be’. Offering up another soundtrack for the disenfranchised and downtrodden, ‘Sister Cities’ is a renewed example of just how powerful and poignant The Wonder Years can be. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Pyramids of Salt’
Missed the boat on the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
the magic gang The magic gang
As perfect a debut as we’d have hoped.
demob happy holy doom
The trio step up with a deliciously filthy wedge of rock’n’roll.
sunflower bean twentytwo in blue
Gigantic and brimming with raw potential. 69
i don’t run (Lucky Number)
Hinds have barely left the road since well before they released debut album ‘Leave Me Alone’ in January 2016, and the raucous live energy of their never-ending tour fizzes through lead single ‘New For You’ and ‘Tester’, a tale of being spurned romantically set to furious lo-fi indie-rock. The Madrid four-piece might be well known for bouncing anthems, but ‘I Don’t Run’ sees them enhancing the softer side of their sound too. ‘Linda’ is a soft, surfy cut, while ‘Ma Nuit’ provides a stripped-back, noir-ish end to the record, recalling the band’s start as just Ana, Carlotta, and their guitars. Like its title, ‘I Don’t Run’ is firm, assured, and powerful. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Tester’
eee HALF WAIF
Across two albums and two EPs, Nandi Rose Plunkett has utilised sparkling, shimmering electronic pop to frame her examinations of the self. Her exploration of existential themes begins straight from opener ‘Lavender Burning’, where she muses “is this all there is?” Elsewhere, ‘Keep It Out’ sees her delving into how an individual evolves through a relationship, and there are moments of defiance against the inevitable ebbing of time and disintegration too though. All these meditations are wrapped in some of her most powerful soundscapes to date. It’s her own voice though that commands the most attention; her vocals effortlessly ranging from being airy and searching to more emotionally wrought. While it can be an emotionally turbulent listen that continually returns to the fracturing of the self and the breaking apart from others, this is also an album that is deeply arresting. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘In The Evening’
Hinds teamed up with Strokes production legend Gordon Raphael for LP2, and as vocalist / guitarist Ana Perrote explains, that wasn’t all they changed. You co-produced ‘I Don’t Run’ with Strokes producer Gordon Raphael - how was that? It was really nice! He was especially cool working with our vocals. It was the first time we weren’t recording with a Spanish producer, so he’d make us sing a cappella, and when he didn’t catch something he’d stop us and make us enunciate better. It was nice, he wanted to keep our Spanish accents but make it clear for everyone. We spend so much time on, and care a lot about lyrics, so we’re excited for people to be able to actually understand them this time! How did things differ to working on your debut? The writing process changed, mostly because of time. With ‘Leave Me Alone’ we had to write between tours, and we toured a lot! Everything happened really fast, it felt like we were fighting against the clock. This time was different. We had a month and a half completely off to write. That let us focus on the record as a whole piece instead of song by song. Also we had more time to jam in the rehearsal room - we could start something as a four-piece, then take it home and try to find melodies and bring it back to the rehearsal room. That gave bass and drums more weight in the album too. The recording was more chill too, we had 15 days to record and 10 days to mix, instead of 10 days to do everything!
bark your head off, dog (Saddle Creek)
hippo lite (Drag City)
From debut ‘Hermits On Holiday’, we know the collaborative project of Cate Le Bon and White Fence’s Tim Presley strays from their own solo projects in favour of something more abstract, experimental and in all honesty a bit weirder and ‘Hippo Lite’ sees the duo carry on in this same vein. Ditching the traditional studio setting for an old mill, it’s scattered with field recordings of the likes of insects and frogs with “saxophones in their throats”. As a listener, you can feel the dry heat of the Gallic summer and the late night chorus of the nearby lake making the album more than than just a musical document but an artefact of a specific time and place, capturing that microcosm and blowing it up into a multisensory explosion. (Matthew Hogarth) LISTEN: ‘Corner Shops’
On 2015’s ‘Painted Shut’, Hop Along proved themselves one of the most vital new bands in US indie-rock, fronted by Frances Quinlan’s deliciously gravelly vocals and backed by urgent instrumentation. Third album ‘Bark Your Head Off, Dog’ loosens the grip a little, with crunchy guitars swapped in part for sweeping, breezy acoustics, and the band’s hooks amplified. ‘Somewhere A Judge’ and ‘One That Suits Me’ are the band’s most immediate moments yet, while ‘Not Abel’ is a fascinating left-turn. ‘Prior Things’ then sees the album off into the sunset with a gorgeous, breeze. While ‘Painted Shut’ saw Hop Along forcefully establish themselves as a band to be reckoned with, LP3 shows they’re just as enticing and attentiongrabbing when practicing restraint. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘One That Suits Me’
Q&A Strings, mandolins and even a vocoder: as vocalist Frances Quinlan explains, Hop Along weren’t shy of trying new things on ‘Bark Your Head Off, Dog’. How did you approach things differently this time? With this album we were far more deliberate in establishing the moods of songs as early on as possible. So it was important to let subtleties come through, and for there to be room to feel them. The songs started out the same, but in the arrangement we were more thoughtful about what was needed and what wasn’t. This allowed for more to come through and be heard. It’s simplest to just say that we got better. We also had more time to record this album than we did with ‘Painted Shut’, so there was room to experiment. There are more different instruments on board this time, too… A few, yes! I would say this is the first time a mandolin has ever showed up on a Hop Along record, although I could be wrong... I’m really grateful we had the time to get strings recorded too, Sarah and Rachel did a great job. What was the story behind the use of a vocoder? Not much, really. We’d been working on the song ‘Somewhere a Judge’ for quite a while. I could not figure out how to sing it. We got to the point in arrangement where it took on a more dance-y feel, which sort of reminded me of that Daft Punk song featuring Julian Casablancas, ‘Instant Crush’. I love the way those vocals are produced, they’re somehow relaxed and tense simultaneously, I guess because of that robot-like vocoder effect. I approached singing it with that spirit in mind, and Kyle collaged a lot of old takes I did for backup harmonies together to make that underlying vocoder track. The song took on a whole other feeling then. 71
MIEN’s seeds were planted as far back as 2004 when The Black Angels vocalist Alex Maas and Elephant Stone sitarist Rishi Dhir shared a bill at SXSW. With The Earlies’ electronics whizz John-Mark Lapham and The Horrors’ synth guru Tom Furse joining the cause sometime later, the conception of this psychedelic supergroup was complete, and their knack for propulsive grooves and soft, synthesised dreamscapes is realised fully on this impressive debut.At its heart, ‘MIEN’ is the stellar fusion of tangible world instruments and understated electronic programming. Enduringly addictive and devoid of arty pretentiousness, ‘MIEN’ is evidently an album made by true connoisseurs of psychedelic music both old and new. Like-minded audiophiles will find plenty to cheer about across these ten tracks. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Earth Moon’
Teaming up with Danger Mouse turns out to be a match made in post-punk heaven, who’d have thought?! Out 18th May.
Elias and pals are just as snarly as we’ve come to expect from the Danish act - but this time they’ve added sprinkles (of sorts). Released 4th May.
PEACE kindness is the new rock and roll They’ve got rid of any “half measures”, says frontman Harry. Here’s hoping for more indie bangers to rival single ‘Power’. Out 4th May.
beautiful thing (Domino)
Together, Alexis and producer Tim Goldsworthy mine a huge swathe of influences and moods here, from ambient waves to glacial pop, euphoric disco stomps and even warped, ‘70s glam. As might be expected with an album that draws so heavily from such a wide palette though, ‘Beautiful Thing’ suffers from sudden shifts in style, and the more fragile nature of Alexis’ vocals isn’t always well-served either. Despite this, there’s no faulting his ambition. It doesn’t always quite hit those high notes, but the pair have set out to create a sometimes elusive feeling of connection. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Suspicious Of Me’
MANIC STREET PREACHERS resistance is futile
“People get tired / People get old / People get forgotten / People get sold,” go the first words of ‘People Give In’ – the opening track of Manic Street Preachers’ 13th studio album. Firmly into the third decade of their career, one characterised by wilful stubbornness and the ability to wrong-foot preconceptions at every turn (not least by often throwing out a completely mainstreamembracing chart hit), you sense they’ve done that one on purpose. Now all on the cusp of 50, these are worries that could arguably be lobbied at the Welsh trio. Of course, they’d be unfounded, but it is a less vitriolic Manics that we encounter on ‘Resistance Is Futile’ nonetheless. Channelling the more expansive, widescreen melodies of 1996’s ‘Everything Must Go’, much of ‘RIF’ runs on big, air-punching choruses helmed by James Dean Bradfield’s stillpowerhouse vocal. Even though the likes of ‘Dylan And Caitlin’ (a duet with The Anchoress on Dylan Thomas and wife Caitlin Macnamara’s tempestuous marriage) or the poignant nostalgia of ‘In Eternity’ – seemingly a sentimental ode to former bandmate Richey Edwards – are thematically complex, they’re coated in unabashedly big hooks. It’s a classic Manics trick and one that still works; across 12 tracks though, you do start to crave the spray-painted antagonists of old to pop up every now and then. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘International Blue’, ‘In Eternity’
eeee DANIEL AVERY song for alpha
In the five years since its release, Daniel Avery’s debut ‘Drone Logic’ has become a cult classic, one of the most celebrated British techno albums of the 21st Century. On long-awaited follow-up ‘Song For Alpha’ - an album the producer and DJ has said is made for “eyes closed as opposed to hands in the air” - he explores the spaces around the throbbing beats of ‘Drone Logic’. From the sparkling, starry ‘Stereo L’ to the incessant, unrelenting lynchpin ‘Diminuendo’, it turns out there’s just as much wonder to be found here, and fits gorgeously alongside ‘Drone Logic’ as a documentation of the other side of the clubbing experience. It was already clear from his near-decade of huge DJ sets around the world, but this album cements Daniel Avery as one of the best. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Diminuendo’
BACK TO THE
DRAWING BOARD with KING TUFF
What does ‘Raindrop Blue’ look like?
Where did you record the album?
FRANKIE COSMOS vessel (Sub Pop)
The project of New Yorker Greta Kline, Frankie Cosmos has grown substantially from DIY project to underground hero. Only two tracks on ‘Vessel’ dare to hang around for over three minutes, while some of the record is made up of sub-one-minute vignettes. Opener ‘Caramelize’ weaves baroque undertones into a slow-building, rich paean to reliant love, while ‘Jesse’ is a call back to noughties anti-folk made fresh. Diehard fans will spot some older tracks reworked here. ‘Duet’, originally on 2014’s ‘Donutes’, is more refined and sounds more heartbreaking for it. Human relationships are often fleeting, but ‘Vessel’ has the potential to stick it out for the long-haul. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Jessie’ 74 diymag.com
other (Sub Pop)
Listening to the title track, you’d be right in thinking that Kyle Thomas has completely discarded his lo-fi debauchery in favour for a more chill direction. But though that first track is a red herring, choosing to start the record with it feels like a red herring, as elements of classic King Tuff pop up and bleed through the rest of the record. It’s a cacophony of a diverse range of soundscapes, all recalling different times and periods, that work together to form a helter-skelter musical puzzle. There are remnants of ‘60s Motown by way of The Beatles in the backing choruses of ‘Thru the Cracks’, while ‘Psycho Star’ explores the ever-expansive presence of psych rock at its finest. (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘Psycho Star’
If the album was a mythical creature, what would it look like?
...and a ‘Circuit in the Sand’?
What does your writing process look like?
LIVE wild beasts
END COME TOO SOON.
Hammersmith Apollo, London. Photos: Emma Swann.
76 diymag.com 76 diymag.com
s with that of The Maccabees at the start of last year, the announcement of the imminent split of Wild Beasts came as somewhat of a surprise. Far from outstaying their welcome, flogging decades-old albums in a nostalgia trip, the band were pushing boundaries until the end, proved by October’s parting gift, the ‘Punk Drunk & Trembling’ EP.
Tonight’s final show then proves a bittersweet spectacle. Luckily (and unsurprisingly) though, it’s also a fantastic one. Playing a two-hour set split into two parts, every corner of the band’s discography is given its dues. ‘The Fun Powder Plot’, opener of breakout second record ‘Two Dancers’ gets the tears flowing early, while ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues’ allows for some muchneeded hip-shaking to cut through the anxious yet celebratory atmosphere. ‘Mecca’ is a first-half highlight, with its opening lyric particularly moving, before ‘Smother’ opener ‘Lion’s Share’ sees the band depart for a short break. There’s still a slight sense of needing to cut loose though, from both band and crowd. As if on cue, ‘Get My Bang’ opens the second half and is greeted by streams of confetti and deafening whoops. From then on, the set is nothing but a celebration. It’s followed immediately by ‘Hooting & Howling’, and an infectious energy is whipped up that never leaves until the band are long gone. ‘Wanderlust’ is dark and anthemic, while ‘Alpha Female’ showcases the most intense corner of the band’s discography, Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming’s voices weaving in and out of each other perfectly. The band depart once more, and when they return with ‘Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants’, the set crashes towards its conclusion, band and fans both unsure whether they want it to be over immediately, or to carry on all night. Enough to get the tear ducts working overtime on its own, a curtain drops towards the conclusion of ‘End Come Too Soon’ and a choir appears, harmonising with Hayden’s final words. It’s an ideal send-off for a band who never stopped experimenting. The band depart, embracing first in a circle with each other, then arm-in-arm in front of a crowd as distraught as it is jubilant. The choir remain though, and run through a devastating rendition of ‘Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye’. With such an emotional impassioned last show, they’ve given Hammersmith Apollo a night it’ll never forget. Cheerio chaps. (Will Richards)
Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London. Photo: Ellen Offredy.
cross the start of 2018, Sigrid has gained a frightening amount of momentum. The early buzz around her ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ EP was blown out of the water by fizzy smash ‘Strangers’. It feels like she’s on an inevitable path to superstardom. That same sense carries through tonight’s show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Opening with ‘Go To War’ - the Norwegian’s long-time set opener and a track it’s almost criminal she hasn’t released yet - and following it with breezy, sunny newie ‘Schedule’, the venue hangs on her every move before she’s even played a note of music that’s actually been released. When it does happen - on third track ‘Plot Twist’ - the reaction is, naturally, huge.
Despite straying away from visual flamboyance, signs are creeping in that Sigrid has what it takes to become a commanding, crowd-pleasing star. Handing vocals over to the crowd in a chaotic, joyous ‘Fake Friends’ and letting them sing pretty much the whole of a gorgeous ‘Dynamite’, she’s becoming more of a star with each show.
After ‘Strangers’ receives a gargantuan reception and the first, warped notes of ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ see the noise grow even more, the tears start flowing on stage, the crowd left to carry the entire first verse. Once the smattering of promising new cuts that she plays tonight - from the almost choral ‘High Five’ to the delicate, plucked ‘In Vain’ - are New single ‘Raw’ is given an outing only minutes released, the slight dips in after it’s posted online, widening Sigrid’s palette atmosphere that tonight significantly, a radio-ready cut helmed by earthy sees will be filled in, and synths. “No apologies for being me,” she quips. Sigrid’s arrival as a superstar There’s a refreshing disregard for pretence about will be complete. It’s only the whole show. a matter of time. (Will Richards)
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo: Aidan Wyldbore.
ookworms bring with them a rather odd fanbase; the kind of crowd who are singular in their motives. It’s a feverish love for a band that makes total sense when they take to the gear-laden stage at Brudenell Social Club. With a set mostly comprising of tracks from recent album ‘Microshift’, Hookworms bring an intoxicating spectacle made more so by the swirling visuals layered over the band. Opener ‘Negative Space’ sees vocalist MJ at his most raw and impassioned, the song written for a late friend twisting and turning as the band grapple with their emotions. It’s at once euphoric and mournful; a powerful opener in a location that means so much to the band. There’s a clear-eyed perspective to the tracks from ‘Microshift’ that brings a totally new Hookworms to the fold. It’s a transformation none more apparent than on ‘Opener’, an eight-minute cathartic explosion of buzzing organs and rushing guitars which sees MJ try to break down toxic masculinity with a hopeful zeal. Even the few dives into 2014’s ‘The Hum’, such as ’The Impasse’ and ’Radio Tokyo’, feel crisper and almost re-energised, a sign that the heart of Hookworms is beating the same as it ever was. Still capable of whipping a crowd into a frenzy, but now more willing to take down their demons in the open, theirs is an infectious and hypnotic attitude that, tonight, presents a band no longer concerned with hiding. (Chris Taylor)
KOKO, London. Photo: Patrick Gunning.
ver the course of two albums, Alvvays have pursued a kind of initially saccharine pop that, on closer inspection, hovers tenuously over a menacing pit of daggers. In one dry nod to those hidden depths, their drum kit simply reads “drum”. And tonight, they seem to entrance every last nanometer of empty space. It’s in large part thanks to Molly Rankin’s incredible live vocal. Clean, confronting, and crystal-clear - like discovering the simplicity of face to face conversations after making do with two cans and a ragged piece
of string - lends a direct punch to her band’s shrewd dissections of solitude and peeling apart from a dysfunctional pair. ‘Marry Me, Archie’s permeable bubble of breakable bliss proves the night’s largest sing-along, but only by a whisker. Dropping a playful cover of Elastica’s ‘Blue’ into the encore one minute, and ending instead with the magically sinister ‘Next of Kin’ is a fitting final swerve off-course. Alvvays might be a dependable source of greatness, but - in typical dual form - they’re also brilliantly unpredictable when you don’t quite expect it. (El Hunt)
Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Nathan Barnes.
onight’s triumphant return to Brixton Academy proves that Franz Ferdinand’s place now is perhaps even more left-of-centre than it ever was. Tailored in matching black and white, lead by a platinum blond Alex Kapranos, they look and sound razor sharp. But though they could easily dine out on an enviable back catalogue of bangers until retirement, there’s a tightly-coiled energy tonight that suggests they’re not content to go quietly just yet. Attacking the set with a relentless sense of idiosyncratic theatricality, they’re a band slowly and expertly transitioning into elder statesmen territory; if Alex is visually channelling David Byrne tonight, then you sense that his band are headed for a similarly beloved status as Talking Heads. Maybe it’s because their breed of angular art school-isms hasn’t been done well for a good while now, but Franz Ferdinand in 2018 sound weird and wired and genuinely exciting again. Cuts from new LP ‘Always Ascending’ are riddled with that perfect mix of accessibility and oddness that made the band so intriguing from the off. They’re mixed in with a flawless run through of the hits that finds the singer leading the crowd like a compere at the world’s best Butlins. You don’t need us to hammer home just how good ‘Michael’ or ‘Ulysses’ or ‘Walk Away’ or ‘Take Me Out’ are live, but Alex still throws absolutely everything into them, flouncing and strutting across the stage, throwing his arms wide and starting unison crowd waves like it’s all brand new. This isn’t just nostalgia, Franz Ferdinand are morphing into a whole new phase. And it’s a fucking treat. (Lisa Wright)
The Roundhouse, London. Photos: James Kelly.
or two weeks each spring, Roundhouse Rising sees some of the UK’s most exciting new acts pass through its doors. Alongside Stormzy and other famous alumni, Little Simz is one of the event’s previous guests to go on to bigger things. She first shook Rising with a huge set in 2014, before curating a whole day last year, an event she dubbed Welcome To Wonderland. Today she returns for part two, ending Roundhouse Rising 2018 with a bang. The evening is a non-stop barrage of genre-bending weirdness and hard-hitting beats. Kojey Radical, rapper and poet, showcases many different sides, throwing out sweet, tender cuts with accuracy and force. Later, New York artist Junglepussy is a complete livewire, barely pausing for breath between her songs of self-confidence and power. As is expected, Little Simz is greeted like a hero when she closes the festival in the main space. Last year’s ‘Stillness In Wonderland’ LP is a vibrant, conceptual trip, and tonight’s show is similarly fascinating. A dark, haunting journey through rap and hip hop, backed by sparkling visuals, it’s abundantly clear why Little Simz has gained the reputation she has. Curating a line-up full to the brim with fresh talent, it’s also clear that there are plenty of others waiting to follow her into Wonderland.(Will Richards)
Hammersmith Apollo, London. Photo: James Drew Turner.
t the start of last year, Bon Iver cancelled a European tourset to begin less than a month later. Eventually, an initial four-date run at Hammersmith Apollo was extended to eight (eight!). It’s their final night here, and the frontman is in reflective mood. “We hit a bump in the road,” he tells the crowd, before closing the main set with calling card, ‘Skinny Love’.
given a completely new lease of life. It’s a sign of things to come for the rest of the show: every track is tweaked to a different extent, from unrecognisable makeovers to subtle but definite twists, but all retain every ounce of their magic. Swells of urgent, loud instrumentation appear out of nowhere; songs slip in and out of their original iterations, with Vernon’s voice often left to carry the band on its own.
They start with a looped version of ‘Woods’, Justin’s trademark vocals stretched and spun in every direction. It’s followed by ‘Towers’, and the introduction of his full band; the core Bon Iver members, and fleshed out with a fivepiece brass section. The ‘Bon Iver, Bon Iver’ cut is sped up via skittish drums, and
Each Bon Iver album, from the decade-old ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ to 2016’s ‘22, A Million’, has its own vivid personality and feel, but tonight shows that no matter which corner of their discography they pick from, the songs prove malleable and fluid, changing shape constantly. It makes for a thrilling set. (Will Richards)
king gizzard and the lizard wizard
Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Phil Smithies.
ing Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard are nothing if not prolific. Releasing five albums in the space of a year over the course of 2017, the cherries on what was a delicious already eight-albumstrong discography, theirs is a creativity that knows no bounds. Performing two sets with a fifteen minute interlude between the pair (because when a band releases five albums in a year, one no longer seems to cut it), the night is a celebration of everything King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard have built. Psychedelic visuals cast an eerie glow through the darkened venue, creating an energy that right from the start feels thrillingly off-kilter. The band perform in shadow and near-darkness, the spotlight reserved for the music and the energy they’re creating. A string of songs from ‘Murder Of The Universe’ showcase the group at their destructive and conceptual best, while a series of cuts from endless album ‘Nonagon Infinity’ demonstrates just how much chaos the outfit are capable of creating. For a masterclass in mastery, and a showcase of creativity within chaos, there are few - if any - who live up to the incessant momentum King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard embody. Releasing five albums in a year would tire anyone out (hell, it was tiring enough to keep up with), but if tonight is anything to go by, they remain a group as energised as ever. (Jessica Goodman) 81
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General Knowledge Q1: What are the three particles that make up an atom? Oh my god! I don’t know a single one of them… Hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen? ‘Fraid not - it’s electrons, neutrons and protons. Q2:With which sport is Silverstone most associated? Racing! Spot on! Q3: Rio de Janeiro is a city in which South American country? I’m not good at things… Is it gonna be Mexico? It’s not - it’s Brazil.
Verdict: Will’s Disneyland knowledge is pretty on point, but there’s not much hope for any Brazilian fans hoping for a South American Creeper tour - he may not find his way there.
Fuck’s sake! This is going awfully. Q4: In which year was the film The Blair Witch Project released? Oh! I wanna say… 199… 1999? Yes, it was 1999! Q5: Which song features the lyrics, “Rent a flat above a shop, cut your hair and get a job”? That is Pulp, and the song is ‘Common People’. Yes! Score:
Chosen subject: disney theme parks
Q6: In what year did Disneyland Park in California open? 1955. Nailed it! Q7: How many of the eleven Disney owned and operated parks in the world are actually called Disneyland? Hmm, so, let’s go through this. Disney World is Disney World, Disneyland is in California and there’s one in Paris… I want to say three. It’s actually four - California, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Q8: Where is Disneyland Paris? The name of the town? I don’t think I can say it, but it starts with an M. It’s Marne-la-Valleé.
Q9: What is Disneyland’s most popular attraction? That’s really difficult! I wanna say it’s the Flying Dumbos, or the Haunted Mansion? It’s actually Pirates of the Caribbean! Fuck! Pirates of the Caribbean is amazing. Q10: Finally, what is the most expensive ride ever made by Disneyland? It’s gonna be the Cars ride. It is the Cars ride! Radiator Springs Racers. For a bonus point, how much do you think it cost? I wanna say, $200 million? That’s right on the money, literally! Two points for you. Score:
GORILLAZ • QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE THE SCRIPT • JAMES BAY • MARSHMELLO • ALICE IN CHAINS • RAE SREMMURD
ANNE♥MARIE • AT THE DRIVE IN • BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB • CRAIG DAVID PRESENTS TS5 • THE VACCINES • VINCE STAPLES • RIVAL SONS • TRIGGERFINGER • STEVEN WILSON • LITTLE SIMZ • KALI UCHIS • GANG OF YOUTHS • JADE BIRD • KEIR • OTZEKI • SEVN ALIAS • TOM GRENNAN
THE KILLERS • LONDON GRAMMAR
SNOW PATROL • BEN HOWARD • FRANZ FERDINAND • ANDERSON .PAAK & THE FREE NATIONALS • RUSS
ANGUS & JULIA STONE • AIR TRAFFIC • ARSENAL • THE KOOKS • CHVRCHES • FIRST AID KIT • IAMDDB • WALKING ON CARS • WOLF ALICE • DERMOT KENNEDY • CURTIS HARDING • TOM WALKER • COURTEENERS FACES ON TV • ISAAC GRACIE • SAM FENDER • TODIEFOR • THE WHITE BUFFALO
PEARL JAM • JACK WHITE
JACK JOHNSON • FLEET FOXES • KHALID • MGMT • STONE SOUR • STEREOPHONICS • THE BREEDERS
PETIT BISCUIT • DOTAN • JORJA SMITH • BLACKWAVE. • ANGÈLE • JP COOPER • THE STRUTS • THE LAST INTERNATIONALE • SUSANNE SUNDFØR • DURAND JONES AND THE INDICATIONS • EMMA BALE
ARCTIC MONKEYS • NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
NINE INCH NAILS • POST MALONE • PAROV STELAR • EELS • NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS • DAVID BYRNE
FEVER RAY • KALEO • GEORGE EZRA • ROMÉO ELVIS X LE MOTEL • NAO • SIGRID • NOVASTAR • RONE • ALBERT HAMMOND JR • NAAZ • PVRIS
THE ACADEMIC • THE AMAZONS • EQUAL IDIOTS • IDLES • PALE WAVES • WARBLY JETS