s et mu s ic fr e e free / is s ue 61 / apr il 2 017 diymag.com
GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
Emma Swann Founding Editor GOOD SXSW! For this first-timer, it was like a real-life live music theme park. EVIL Losing my voice on the first day, and bringing home a chest infection. You’ve got to bring a souvenir home, right? .............................. El hunt Features Editor GOOD So many amazing gigs at SXSW. Jay Som, Marika Hackman, Noname, Her’s and Snail Mail, I’m looking at you lot. EVIL I’m suffering from a severe case of TWS (taco withdrawal syndrome) after leaving Austin. ............................. Louise mason Art Director GOOD Everyone else went to America
so I went to sulk in Africa. EVIL I have no idea where we go after this cover. .............................. Lisa Wright Staff Writer GOOD Made a pilgrimage to the Moulin Rouge while in Paris with Blaenavon. One step closer to finding Christian, WHO DEFINITELY EXISTS. EVIL To my old landlord and my new landlady: I curse you with the fire of a thousand suns. Yours sincerely, Lisa. ............................. Will Richards Digital Editor GOOD Blaenavon have written a debut album that will live long in the memory. EVIL I managed to slip in the shower while hungover and crack a rib. Don’t drink, kids.
EDITOR’S LET TER Unsurprisingly, when team DIY decided to get The Big Moon to be the cover stars of our April issue, we knew they’d be perfect for the job. As you can probably tell just from glancing at our frankly ber-illiant photos, they far exceeded expectations. One of the brightest, most vibrant and all around fun bands of right now, they’re a quartet destined for massive things - and debut ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ proves as much. Elsewhere in these pages, we dig deep with Papa John (that’s Father John Misty to the rest of you) about his new opus, head to Paris for a romantic rendezvous with Class of 2017 alumni Blaenavon and travel to Austin, Texas for the worldfamous SXSW festival. It’s a certified musical travel bonanza this month! Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor GOOD Getting to put The Big Moon in spacesuits is definitely one of the best things we’ve done so far. EVIL I managed to get TWO colds in a month. Two! That can’t possibly be fair.
What’s been tickling the DIY team’s eardrums this month? Marika Hackman - I’m Not Your Man
Off the back of her folky debut, it’s safe to say few expected our ‘Rika to return with a backwards baseball cap crammed full with swaggering, sharp-toothed grunge. Turns out her second album is just that. What a legend.
alt-J - Relaxer ‘3WW’ might give you an inkling of alt-J’s lack of commercial fucks on their 3rd LP, but by the time you get to a cover of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ you’re in full oddball territory. Which, pleasingly, sounds all kinds of excellent. Cromwell’s Playlist Black Honey have their flamingo mascot Jerry, and now we have our own avian friend at DIY HQ: a taxidermy duckling called Cromwell, who is now the owner of his own playlist, featuring tracks from Pond, Drake and Nelly Furtado’s ‘I’m Like A Bird’. 3
C O N NEU T E FEATURES N T REVIEWS S NEWS
6 SXSW 13 LUCY ROSE 18 LUCKY DIP 1 9 H AV E YO U H E A R D ? 2 0 H A L L O F FA M E 2 2 F E S T I VA L S
28 DEAD PRET TIES 32 DAMA SCOUT 33 REX ORANGE COUNTY 34 TEI SHI
36 THE BIG MOON 44 WILL JOSEPH COOK 48 FUTURE ISLANDS 5 2 B L A E N AV O N 5 6 FAT H E R J O H N M I S T Y 60 DIET CIG
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor El Hunt Digital Editor Will Richards Neu Editor Jamie Milton Staff Writer Lisa Wright Staff Writer For DIY editorial Eugenie Johnson email@example.com Art Direction & Design For DIY sales Louise Mason firstname.lastname@example.org DIY Live & Events email@example.com Rhi Lee, Jack Clothier For DIY stockist enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Alim Kheraj, Dan Jeakins, Dave DIY is published by Sonic Media Beech, Emma Snook, Grant Group. All material copyright (c). Rindner, Henry Boon, Jessica All rights reserved. This publication Goodman, Joe Goggins, Liam may not be reproduced or Konemann, Liam McNeilly, transmitted in any form, in whole or Lisa Henderson, Nathan in part, without the express written McLaren-Stewart, Rhian permission of DIY. 25p where sold. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to Daly, Samantha Daly, Shefali ensure the information in this magazine Srivastava, Tom Hancock. is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which Sonic Media Group holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of DIY or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally. Cover photo: Pooneh Ghana. This page: Cherry Glazerr at SXSW by Emma Swann.
Photographers Andy Ford, Carolina Faruolo, Jodie Canwell, Lindsay Melbourne, Mike Massaro, Nathan McLaren-Stewart, Phil Knott, Phil Smithies, Phoebe Fox, Pooneh Ghana, Poppy Marriott, Robin Pope, Tim Easton, Will Morris.
S O U L W A X N E W O U T
F R O M
D E E W E E
A L B U M N O W
w w w . s o u l w a x . c5 o m
Diy packed its suitcase and boarded a plane with
one destination in mind: austin, texas. Boasting five straight days of live music and more new bands than you can shake a taco at, here’s exactly what we discovered at sxsw 2017. Words: jamie milton, el hunt. Photos: emma swann.
DAY 1 DIY & TICKETWEB BRING A BRITISH INVASION
ith a New York blizzard cancelling flights for both revellers and bands, it feels like an achievement in itself to make it to Austin this year. Many bands land just before the storms take hold, while resident Brits are bit-by-bit recovering from jetlag.
Playing their first SXSW show, New Jersey five-piece Forth Wanderers are having a ‘pinch yourself’ moment. Dazed, all smiles, they’re one step away from high-fiving each other in excitement as they open DIY’s first showcase of the festival as one of this year’s most-anticipated acts. These are tightly-wound, adventurous songs with an ever-changing pulse. The name Forth Wanderers seems to act as a manifesto – speeding forth, always wandering.
Pick any British band to have made the 5000-mile trip, and you won’t find one more beaming than SuperGlu. Hailing from Manningtree, the ‘smallest town in England’, theirs is a story of dreams being fully realised. Punk trio Doe are next up, delivering tightly-wound songs that walk a tightrope between all-out frustration and bittersweet rejoice. ‘Last Ditch’ is a give-everything call to arms, while the ragetripping, hot-footed ‘Sincere’ gives a glimpse of a very bright future. South Londoner Jamie Isaac operates in a completely different world to the rest of the bill. Guitars are replaced with sampler pads and smooth-toned keys and everything is close to the bone. Next, False Advertising are one of the festival’s first revelations. The Manchester via Oxford trio deliver raw, emotionlaced grunge with serious staying power. “It’s 6am UK time, so if you’re here, you’re jet lagged, really drunk or you really wanna see us,” jokes Muncie Girls’ Lande Hekt midway through their closing set. The Exeter trio shouldn’t understate their magnetic appeal – most people here are desperate to see tonight’s headliners. Both serious and lungburstingly fun, they set a high standard for the rest of the week to follow.
Marika Hackman & The Big Moon
SXSw DAY 2
arika Hackman and The Big Moon have teamed up for the former’s new album, ‘I’m Not Your Man’, out in June. And for “one week only”, they’re also playing it live together. ‘Marika Hackmoon’ (run with it) make their SXSW debut at a college dorm party, as you do. Pairs of socks are used to cover up microphones, so as to avoid electric shocks. Marika forgets the lyrics to stone-cold banger ‘Boyfriend’ at one point. It’s rougharound-the-edges, but in the best way. And The Big Moon return just an hour later to perform their own solo set, showcasing debut ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’. The back yard of local shop Las Cruxes plays host to an all-killer daytime showcase from She Shreds. Lisa Prank’s early afternoon set stands out. Wearing a homemade,
cardboard-cutout crown, she throws countless compliments to the crowd and sarcastically thanks her non-existent backing band. She’s sharp and funny between songs, and it’s mirrored in the numbers themselves. Eva Moolchan aka Sneaks’ show is another standout. She makes ultra-minimalist, bass-driven pop – the kind that’s only one step away from an ironic nu-rave revival. But Moolchan is smart enough to bring a playful twist to these razor-sharp songs. Over at the brilliantly named Beerland, local newcomer Jess Williamson showcases songs from last year’s ‘Heart Song’, which shuns old country tropes and instead explores new means of expression. She likes to hold a moment. These sweeping songs tend to slowly climb, rather than rising and falling too soon.
Alex’s mission to combine music with yoga was going well.
he tequila-fuelled buzz that hazes over downtown Austin like a horde of bumble bees on the piss subsides – for just a short while – during Vagabon’s hushed courtyard set. She’s an introspective performer, is Lætitia Tamko, and along with the rest of her band, her gaze barely leaves her snarling guitar. Most of the time, the inward-looking nature of the set proves a good fit for ‘Infinite Worlds’’ self-exploratory heart, and leaves room a-plenty for Tamko’s dynamic vocals – all yelping octave jumps and twisting melodic skips – to shine instead. An alltoo-short show, bursting with potential and fuelled by one of this year’s early stand-out debuts, Vagabon is still a “small fish” in an infinite pond - perhaps not for much longer, though.
iet Cig’s first show of the week sees the duo coming on stage to a soundtrack of Cher’s ‘Believe’. Alex Luciano isn’t one to miss a karaoke-style opportunity, so she attempts a singalong with the crowd. Barely anyone participates, which is a crime against music, really. But the sunsoaked space outside Hotel Vegas is way more receptive to the New York duo’s brilliantly relatable songs. Warts ’n all details of previous relationships crop up in ‘Sixteen’, while ‘Leo’ gives a shout out to astrology’s best star sign (Ahem!- Pisces Ed).
ELSEWHERE, IN AUSTIN, TEXAS...
Aussie band Food Court are seriously jetlagged. Or “laaaaged”, as they put it. Beyond between-song chat, it doesn’t show. The Sydney group sweat and yelp through a 100mph-perminute showcase that’s tailormade for sticky, beer-stained Texas bars. Few bands practice their harmonies in soundcheck, but Los Angeles group The Wild Reeds are all about overlapping vocals, sky-reaching notes and simple rejoice. Sharon Silva, Kinsey Lee and Mackenzie Howe have a instinctive connection, breezily criss-crossing country and folk in an early afternoon set.
ay Som’s wide-ranging new album ‘Everybody Works’ seems to skip genre constraints for fun. And the California musician’s early afternoon set at Cheer Up Charlie’s plays a similar game. Her full band are one of the tightest in Texas, and they casually flick between amped-up alternative rock, power solos and even the odd nod to funk.
SXSw DAY 3
There’s a serious amount of talk around Snail Mail, the project of 17-year-old Baltimore-based musician Lindsey Jordan. Her band play two sets, including their first ever outdoor show. It’s here they thrive best, dodging the technical problems that strike their indoor Sidewinder set, giving more room to the youthful, emotional giants Jordan pens on her debut EP, ‘Habit’. Out behind Cheer Up Charlie’s – surrounded by the atmospheric scent of America’s glorious ‘Tater Tot’ potato snacks, and an all-star crowd – Tei Shi is on electric form. In the full two years between now and that initial spark of ‘Bassicaly’ (which remains an absolute pop smash) Valerie Teicher has been painstakingly shaping and finetuning her identity as an artist. Rich story telling, wisely crafted pop, and a captivating set; Tei Shi is ‘Bassicaly’ brilliant.
weku Collins doesn’t shy away from anything, whether it’s paying compliments to members of the crowd’s fashion sense, or dubbing a track “my best song.” The forward-thinking Chicago rapper has reason to be confident: he remains a raw, unrefined talent. Keeping it Illinois, Jamila Woods follows. The protest music that defines her uncompromising ‘HEAVN’ LP doesn’t show up, here. Instead, she’s backed by a smooth full band who veer slightly too close to cheery Hootenanny territory. Still, an initially standard cover of Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ eventually morphs into a beast, and it’s here where you’re reminded of Woods’ power. Detroit’s Stef Chura has the kind of oddball, graveldusted vocal that’s easy to pick out of a crowd of thousands, and an ear for combining fuzziness with a cleaner strain of precision, too. For every darkened post-punk nod – a hint of ‘Daydream Nation’ era Sonic Youth at the heart of quieter melodic moments – there are gigantic, diamond-studded riffs.
verlooking Austin’s jaggedy skyline, in the grounds of the oldest house in the city, Noname’s set proves one of those elusive magical eureka moments from a massive star in the making. The Chicagoan made her name a few years back, featuring on Chance the Rapper’s breakthrough ‘Acid Rap’. In the three years since she’s knuckled down and taken time to craft her own game-changing first release, too. Backed by a tighter-than-Tetris live band, she swerves through ‘Telefone’’s reappearing snippets of hold music chimes, and snappy tubular licks, nailing every single bar with the kind of effortless precision that few artists can ever hope to possess. Stars this bright don’t come along very often; get on board before she’s selling out thousand-strong arenas in a heartbeat.
SXSw DAY 4
whole thing out the park. Wildly careering, volatile, and bursting with experimentation, the band somehow manage to keep the chaos under control (just), teetering on the edge at all times.
ith St Paddy’s Day celebrations in full green-clad swing outside on 6th Street, in a venue that shares a As far as first steps go, QTY have got things name with a song by professional Scot-slashdown. The New Yorkers impressed with husky crooner Rod Stewart, Maggie Mae’s twanging debut single ‘Rodeo’, and the ride has – accidentally – ended up giving a few hasn’t slowed since. Dan Lardner’s rust-edged coincidental nods across the Atlantic, tonight. vocal melds to corrosively ace effect with Alex Fitting, then, that Liverpool duo Her’s open Niemetz’s airier melodies. Are QTY QYT good? up proceedings at DIY’s takeover of the Austin Just a bit. institution, accompanied by a cardboard cut-out of honorary It’s hard to believe Dream Wife member (and Irishman) Pierce only played their first Stateside Brosnan. The duo make show this very week; an almighty DAY 5: a fine art out of goofing number of shows later, they’ve DIY about and maintaining taken to the place like chilli to technical prowess alike. It DOES an Austin taco. The feeling’s takes their jangly, oddball MAGGIE mutual too, and it’s a packed pop songs into another MAE’S room. ‘F.U.U’ remains the set league, and it’s a revelatory highlight, snarlingly fast-paced, show from the pair. and menacing in odd pockets of restraint. Norway’s Sløtface take to the stage after having a dance about to Her’s in the Stoking the early hours with tequila-fuelled crowd beforehand. Their infectious strain of mayhem is a task best left to PARTYBABY. pop-punk chucks references all over the shop Necking shots between songs, and crashing – Patti Smith, Empire Records, Netflix, IKEA, through the spiralling mayhem of ‘Everything’s and Bon Iver all getting lyrical shoutouts – and All Right’, Noah Gersh and Jamie Reed bottle along with firm favourites, brand new cuts up the madness reigning outside on Austin’s from the band’s in-progress debut album look main strip, and bring it inside for everyone set to become future staples. to swig. The night ends, as all the best nights end, with a stage invasion, led by a drumstick Following them are Weaves, who have always wielding Alice Go from Dream Wife who’s been a ferocious live prospect. Tonight, hopped up to join the Maggie Mae-hem. DIY though, the Toronto bunch seem to take swing at previously impressive shows, and bat the dream wife
NEWS in BRIEF SHE’S BAAAACK!
Early last month, Lorde announced her comeback with new single ‘Green Light’ and since then, has shared a second track titled ‘Liability’. The songs are taken from her forthcoming new album(!) ‘Melodrama’ which is due for release on 16th June.
Parquet Courts are continuing the tour for last year’s ‘Human Performance’ into this summer, playing a set at End Of The Road in September. The band have now also announced three more UK shows in Glasgow, Sheffield and Birmingham this August.
LET’S SKIP SPRING
A couple of months after unleashing the deluxe version of their ‘White Album’, Weezer are back with brand new track, ‘Feel Like Summer’. Not only that, Rivers Cuomo and co. are set to tour the UK and Europe this October, including a show at London’s Wembley Arena.
SCENT FROM HEAVEN
Perfume Genius has announced his upcoming fourth album, titled ‘No Shape’, sharing new track ‘Slip Away’ to boot. Mike Hadreas has also confirmed a US tour for May, so it’s all steam ahead.
JUST THE TWO OF THEM
Jas vs. The Mannequin Challenge. 10 diymag.com
Have Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile been working together?! Speculation’s been rife since the pair shared photos of each other and now Australia’s Newmarket Studio seem to have confirmed it themselves via a nifty Instagram pic. Head to diymag.com to see.
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 the capital... Little Mix’s Perrie and Jesy - and their pal Skepta - scurrying out of a hotel lobby into a waiting taxi. No doubt they were off to party post-BRITs. Pussycat Dolls hero Nicole Scherzinger washing her hands in the O2 Arena loo. EastEnders ledge Ross Kemp stomping through Kings Cross. On his way to film new documentary Ross Kemp: On The Magic Gang, perhaps?
These days, even yer gran is posting selfies on Instagram. Instagran, more like. Everyone has it now, including all our fave bands. Here’s a brief catch-up on music’s finest photo-taking action as of late.
Position of the Month: Bees Knees Executed By: Martin Doherty, Chvrches First thing’s first: if you’re going to dare attempt Dok’s signature dance move, there’s no margin for messing about. Playfully slapping your legs as if you’re nonchalantly brushing away the tickle of some falling tree blossom is just not good enough; no, you really need to commit to the action and bury it (bury it!). Imagine yourself stumbling unawares across a nest full of bees, and wildly batting at your limbs as the angry little twats pulverise you with their evil stings. Leap around a bit, too - remember, you’re stood on a hotbed of buzzing fury, here, not a sandy beach. Pair the above with a pulsing synth-pop soundtrack, and you’re well on the way to making dancing Martin very proud.
WHAT A LEDGE
Let’s not beat around the bush: every month, at least one of our favourite pop stars does something brilliant. So, to celebrate, we’ve decided to dedicate a few column inches to the best person in music this particular month™.
Looks like Superfood have given up on avo and kale and gone for a more traditional choice…
Dan Bastille was a bit confused when he turned up for soundcheck in Russia recently.
MARIKA HACK-MOON The ten-legged monster band - also known as Marika Hackman and The Big Moon - joined forces for a handful of ace live shows last month. Obviously it was great. Charli XCX has been laying down the law.
IN THE STUDIO:
LUCY ROSE After a life-changing experience travelling and touring South America, Lucy Rose has been plugging away on album three. While drinking lots of tea, obviously. Words: Emma Snook.
n 2016, Lucy Rose packed her rucksack and hit the road. For two months, she played free entry, fan-booked shows across South America, staying with them along the way. Unsurprisingly, it was a tour to remember; she performed everywhere from a brewery in Uruguay to a blocked-off street in Sao Paulo, where the second floor window of a laundrette had to be removed to create the stage. Now, a year on, Lucy’s decamped to Brighton to work on recording album three in producer Tim Bidwell’s residential studio, where home comforts are at hand. In the kitchen, she piles another used tea bag onto a Jenga-style tower. “That’s the daily challenge: how big can that get before it falls?”, she laughs, stirring a fresh cup. Despite famously selling her own blend as merch, it appears she’s finally met her match. “I’ve never drunk so much tea in my life but if anyone has out-tea’d me, it’s Tim. I honestly didn’t think that was possible. Maybe twenty cups a day for Tim!” Parting from her major label deal with Columbia, when she returned home from South America, Lucy had arrived in unfamiliar territory. “I suddenly came back from this trip, this crazy experience which was the best thing I’ve ever done, and had no manager, no booking agent and no label and I had all these songs and I felt really good about it all still,” she recalls. “It was a weird place to find myself after two records. “I didn’t want to go around playing my demos desperately, going around labels and being like, ‘Will you put my record out?’,” she explains. Taking control, she decided to manage herself and figure out a way of self-funding her next step. “It
was like, ‘I’m going to make the record I want and have full creative control over it.’” Thanks to a friend’s tip-off, she boarded a train to Brighton and made her way to Tim’s living room set-up, known as ‘Clockwork Owl Studio’. Armed with her demos, the pair hit it off immediately. “He seems to be someone who can see potential in something before anyone else,” she says. In a similar vein to debut ‘Like I Used To’, recorded at her parents’ house, Lucy began living and working in the same space. It marked a departure from the bigger, shinier studio where ‘Work It Out’ was made. Features of the room include a 1920s Spencer piano with “sticky keys” but a “beautiful sound”, vintage mics, and a vocal booth consisting of the snug space between two rails of maroon velvet curtains.
“Having a duvet day!” Tim quips, before Lucy steps into the cosy curtained enclosure. “I like it in here, no-one can see me.” Possessing a strong vision for songs written in diverse locations - from a host’s bedroom in Paraguay, or a beach in Mexico, to her London home after the trip - has also made the process easier. “For the second record I was like, ‘I don’t know what my vibe is so I’m just gonna write tons and chose the best.’ For this one I’ve written nowhere near as much and I haven’t finished anything that won’t fit exactly what I want this record to be.” Lucy Rose’s new album ‘Something’s Changing’ is out on 14th July via Communion. DIY Lucy Rose is appearing at Latitude this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
NeWS What’s Going On With…
Service Station of the Month
Zac Farro had a very busy 2016. From returning to Paramore to releasing debut album ‘Sudden Feeling’ under his solo guise, it’s been all systems go. Now, as he gears up to unleash a new EP, we caught up with him to find out more. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Earlier this year, you came over to the UK for your first tour. How did the shows go? They were amazing. I really had no idea what to expect. I had been so busy last year that I was just so excited to be playing music live again. We showed up to Manchester [on the first night] and I had no idea what to expect, but there was 100 or so people. It’s been incredible; if I’d had any expectations, they’d have been blown out of the water. When it comes to HalfNoise, there’s a lot of experimenting with sounds. I mean, I love smashing the drums - I still do! - but that was cool. It was also daunting and encouraging. It was a learning process, figuring out what I liked to do, but there’s something so easy about just doing what you do and going for it. You can listen to bands and think, ‘Oh, this sounds like…’ but it was more about, what do I like making? Going into ‘Sudden Feeling’, I knew I wanted to use drum machines and synths, and for it to be psychedelic indie pop so I picked a few key albums that I love and tried to figure out where my album could go. What’s amazing is that the new EP is even different from that. I don’t want to keep changing and it not have an identity, but I think it’s also part of growing. I have to keep moving. So, how did your new EP ‘The Velvet Face’ come about? Well, when I was in the studio with Paramore, I’d pick up guitars in between takes and I was so inspired that I wrote two songs. I’d go outside to demo them because there was a lot going on, but the tracks were, I guess, even more close to The Beatles, and a bit more throwback. If ‘Sudden Feeling’ was more 70s and 80s, this was more 60s-sounding. With more organic sounds, and it feels a bit looser. It was funny, I had gone all the way to one end, where I didn’t use any real drums, but now, there’s hardly any samples. I think drumming with Paramore made me think, ‘Wait, why am I not doing this on my own music?’ It was so amazing to actually perform the tracks, as I hadn’t done that before. HalfNoise’s new EP ‘The Velvet Face’ is out now. DIY
ESTRONS: Bands love service stations more than music itself. Snacks, bogs, time to think - it’s all there. These are miraculous places where festival headliners mingle with lorry drivers. It’s due time we paid respect to the very best.
Gloucester Farm Services, M5
One of the big questions when travelling to a gig up North is whether to take the fastest route via the M50… or to cross the bridge over to our favourite services Gloucester Farm. ‘Glo-stur farm! Glo-stur farm!’, we chant, ignoring the sat nav’s instructions. Posing as a farm shop, but seemingly nowhere near a farm, Gloucester Services’ outside walls are completely immersed in living grass which makes its £7 sandwich price tags seem all the more natural. Inside, all the Saskias and Harriets of the middle class mill around hot meal stands aimlessly, almost treating the visit as a holiday in itself. Not a place for filthy musicians. The saddest part of all? On my [Tali’s] way to Scotland, I discovered... Preston Farm Services! Which also sported a built in water feature, complete with ducks and a viewing station. I then realised that this supposedly original service station was, in fact, a chain. But I never told the guys about this, I like to keep up the morale. Just like a bad boyfriend, Gloucester Farm Services, we know you’re full of shit… but we’ll be back.
“I just VANT to feeeeeeeeeeel real love, feel the home that I live in!!!”
DIY’S PICK OF
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.
Japandroids 28th April - 5th May, various venues DIY’s fave fiery punks are headed to Manchester as part of Bushmills’ #AnswerTheCall UK tour.
WON’T YOU GIVE US THE ANSWER?
ver the past two years, VANT have built themselves quite the live reputation, and now there’s another opportunity to catch one of their incendiary sets. The quartet, who released debut fulllength ‘Dumb Blood’ last month, will be one of four acts headlining this year’s Bushmills Tour, ooh-er. The UK-wide tour will see a selection of ‘more established’ bands returning to their local indie roots, and we’re teaming up with the whiskey brand to bring the DIY faves to Manchester’s Deaf Institute on 27th April. Elsewhere on the tour, the likes of The Magic Gang will be headlining in Brighton, while We Are Scientists and The Wytches both top the bill for dates in May.
The tour is all part of the #AnswerTheCall campaign that - according to Bushmills themselves aims to showcase artists, entrepreneurs and creators from the music industry and beyond to show off their talents and inspire others to find their calling. As such, the tour will be giving an array of up and coming bands the opportunity to perform alongside the headliners, offering them a whole new platform. Fancy coming along? We’re giving away a pair of tickets to VANT’s show. Simply head to diymag.com/bushmillstour to be in with a chance of winning. VANT are appearing at Live at Leeds this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
Having last visited our shores in late 2016, the Canadian duo spent little time laying waste to East London. Now, with their UK headline tour on the horizon, they’re set to create even more carnage. See them debut cuts from ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’ across the UK.
13rd May, Bussey Building, London Fresh from sharing a video for newest track ‘To Build A House’, the rather ace Cosima will be taking to Peckham to offer up an insight into her live show. Be sure to catch her at the Bussey Building next month.
San Fermin 9th May, Oslo, London For Ellis Ludwig-Leone, his band’s third album ‘Belong’ is an altogether more personal affair. With its release due this month, San Fermin are planning to celebrate the best way they know: by playing a show. They’ll be taking on London’s Village Underground in May. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource
GANG OF YOUTHS
APRIL 06 THE FORGE LONDON
APR 12 LOCK TAVERN CAMDEN
MAY 03 BUSSEY BUILDING PECKHAM LONDON
MAY 09 THE SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS LONDON
MAY 09 OSLO LONDON
MAY 09 THE CAMDEN ASSEMBLY LONDON
MAY 16 KOKO LONDON
MAY 16 OSLO LONDON
MAY 18 SEBRIGHT ARMS LONDON
MAY 22 VILLAGE UNDERGROUND LONDON
OD SH HA DIT INE W UNT Y RO RS OO T A DS HE D
CLEAN CUT KID
MAY 23 SCALA LONDON
MAY 29 THE CAMDEN ASSEMBLY LONDON
THE BEST IN NEW LIVE MUSIC
@LNSOURCE LIVENATION.CO.UK/SOURCE 17
You can only eat one food for the rest of your life, what is it? Jay: Sashimi or ceviche. Raw fish, but with a bit more stuff in it. You’d be real fit and healthy too. Nick: Bam. That’s what I would have chosen too. We’ve got a lot in common. If you could go back in time to a different era, which would you choose? N: Do I get younger as I go back? No, I guess that wouldn’t make sense ‘cos it could only be twenty, thirty years or I’d just be a foetus, or a thought. Well, now is pretty much the most abundant time – it pretty much gets exponentially worse the further you go back. So... last year? J: When people say ‘Oh, I wish I was around in the 60s’, I mean, fuck that! N: The further you go back, the more fucked it gets. But disregarding disease and abuse and war and injustice, I’d love to go back to the Victorian era in the UK when all the shit was popping. Actually no, that’s too bad. That was an awful time. J: Not that it was a good time, but for historical purposes I’d like to go back to 50s America for the beginning of pop culture. I think that’d be pretty interesting, just to be there for a week in 1952. What’s the most gruesome 18 diymag.com
L c u KY Di P POND Ever wondered what your favourite band’s preferred brand of toothpaste is? Or their favourite time of day to talk a walk? With Lucky Dip, we’re here to provide you with the answers to the silliest questions you’d never dare to ask. This month, POND’s Nick Allbrook and Jay Watson take it on. injury you’ve ever sustained? N: Once, I was skateboarding and I fell off, landed on my elbow for the umpteenth time and it swelled up literally to the size of a grapefruit. It was obscene. Now, if I hit it really hard then it swells up every time. You have to lose your sense of sight, hearing or speech. Which do you choose? J: Speech obviously. You wanna say stuff, but I’d rather hear. If it was just sight or hearing then I’d pick hearing.
Sight’s pretty fucking good. I reckon I’d just be a painter. N: I think you could rock some music anyway. You know the chords well enough, you know the theory. You could just make music without hearing it, like ‘I know this is good. I know these chords go together. It’s fine’. Have you got any unusual phobias? N: I have this thing that I just recently heard was considered an actual ailment; I can’t remember what the
name is. Everyone says they hate nails on a chalkboard, but for me it’s really strange and little things that are impossibly hard to hear. Also the texture of certain things. When you’ve got the problem, it’s the fact that it plagues you for ages after the noise has finished. Now I know what the things are, if I think about them it gives me shivers. What would your Mastermind specialist subject be? N: I don’t think I’ve even got anything. All the things I was really good at, I’ve forgotten by now. I used to know shit loads about Arthurian literature. J: All I can think of are really bro things. So like, IFL [Indoor Football League] from 2000 to now. Or Led Zeppelin. Actually it’d be Pokémon. As far as people in bands go, I think i’d be in the top two percentile of knowledge on Pokémon. I started doing it again out of nostalgia from when I was twelve, but then it’s spiralled. Football, Zeppelin and Pokémon. Pretty much just a high school loser. Pond’s new album ‘The Weather’ is out on 5th May via Marathon Artists. DIY
HAVE HEARD? you
ALT-J – 3WW
It’d be easy to assume alt-J’s continued success would make them tread a straighter line. In reality, their development’s seen them head down weirder, more abstract paths. ‘3WW’ feels like it’s set a hundred years back around a campfire in rural Britain. The three voices deployed in the track paint completely different worlds, each blending into the others like smoke. Gus UngerHamilton’s opening vocal is pure traditional British folk, hurtled forward into a silky, smooth future by Joe Newman’s more familiar tones and a slapping percussion. By the time Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell slides in, ‘3WW’ is a creeping snake, slithering up England’s east coastline. Through this three-legged monster, alt-J have managed to present an all-encompassing return, defying expectation at every turn. Bravo. (Will Richards) up for the five piece’s upcoming debut is nothing capable of standing in the KING NUN – HUNG AROUND album. Beginning with ominous, grand way of Black Honey. (Will Richards) When Londoners King Nun served up strings, it’s a cut that’s as dramatic and FOREST SWORDS – THE debut AA ‘Tulip’/ ‘Speakerface’ last year, full of bombast as we’ve come to expect. HIGHEST FLOOD it was pretty clear the quartet were onto ‘Dragonfly’ isn’t as revelationary as its something pretty damn special. Now On debut album ‘Engravings’, Matthew predecessors, but Pumarosa’s work is they’re back with round two. Hammering Barnes made the kind of music that already done in that respect. The new in on grizzled, uncompromising guitar evoked the clash between man and track solidifies the band as ones to keep and drum stabs, ‘Hung Around’ opens nature - much like his chosen moniker. both eyes on, while also seeing them somewhere between ‘Back In Black’ With ‘The Highest Flood’, he’s back doing settle into their stride. (Will Richards) and something out of Jack White’s what he does best: crafting electronic BLACK HONEY – SOMEBODY BETTER wet dreams. Then we get a big ol’ music that blurs the lines between the melodic chorus a la Dirty Hit labelmates A confidence seeps out of ‘Somebody synthetic and the organic. He’s been Superfood before the two combine in Better’ from its very first bar. That “thinking a lot about the ways we a glorious union for the kind of stupidly sky-reaching guitar; those pulverising need to forge new paths in language, confident guitar solo that’s frankly smacks of a floor tom - there’s no communication and our connection ridiculous for a band not yet out of their hanging about this time. “I guess I with the natural world”. ‘The Highest teens. (Lisa Wright) want to be somebody better,” Izzy B. Flood’ achieves this in dramatic fashion, Phillips sings in the track’s chorus, but its doom-laden bursts of brass and PUMAROSA – DRAGONFLY the insecurity and anxiety of the lyrics incredibly choppy slices of electronica After the free-flowing ‘Cecile’ and are shot through with a chemistry combining to create an almost crunchy ‘Honey’, Pumarosa arrive at between Izzy and her bandmates that’s dystopian vision. (Eugenie Johnson) ’Dragonfly’, an early demo now beefed becoming unstoppable. There really 19
DIY HALL FAME of
THE HORRORS - STRANGE HOUSE
Back in 2007, The Horrors were infamous for their skinny jeans and huge hair, but ten years on, it’s clear
their debut had substance as well as style. Words: Lisa Wright.
or any band coming back with a new, mature direction on their second effort, there’s a term – ‘doing a Horrors’ – that will get the point across pretty succinctly. It signals that you’re a serious band now. People will understand and compliment your vastly more progressive new sound, but secretly they’ll be a little sad because, if the record in question is anything like The Horrors’ goth-tacular 2007 debut ‘Strange House’, they’ll know there were all kinds of kicks to be had before you grew up. Much like Blur’s baggy debut ‘Leisure’ or Radiohead’s patchy ‘Pablo Honey’ before it, ‘Strange House’’s legacy is as something of a misstep. 10 years after its release, now its authors have become Mercury-nominated sonic warriors, providing infinite goodies for the muso wank bank with every motorik step, it’s hard to even think of them as the same band that once popped up on an episode of The Mighty Boosh where Noel Fielding was trying to shrink his legs to fit into a pair of pencil thin skinny jeans. From the serial killer-namechecking ‘Jack The Ripper’ to ‘Gloves’’ climactic line about “hacking
the Facts Release: 5th March 2007 Stand-out tracks: ‘Count In Fives’, ‘Gloves’, ‘Jack The Ripper’ Tell your mates: The album was subtitled ‘Psychotic Sounds for Freaks and Weirdos’: a name suggested by a fan on a Horrors web forum.
away at a sea of appendages”, ‘Strange House’ was as unsubtle an ode to the darker underbelly of life as the visuals that accompanied it. Early single ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ flipped the punk rocker of The Ramones’ previous offering and turned her into a cold, hard bitch. ‘Excellent Choice’ features a monotone, spoken word monologue about a man driven to suicide. ‘Death At The Chapel’ is about a string of murders. There’s little light to be found among the album’s lyrical concerns, but – much like Scream or any number of overblown slasher films – it’s done in such a cartoony way that there’s no real danger to be found. Musically, meanwhile, it’s a romp of spiralling organs, fuzzy guitars and howling, unhinged vocals, like The Cramps turned up to 11. Of course it wasn’t to last, and by 2009’s ‘Primary Colours’ the group had reinvented themselves as the critically acclaimed outfit they are now, never to play the album’s wares live again. You sense they’d become frustrated with all the ‘style over substance’ jibes they’d accrued, but ‘Strange House’ always had substance in its style. Even if that substance was neon red, fake Halloween blood. DIY
Sadly, none of the band were hired for the babysitting job.
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FESTIVALS T h e s u m m e r ’ s f i e l d s a r e a - ca l l i n g , j u s t a ( r a b b i t ) h o p, s k i p a n d j u m p away.
LIVE AT LEEDS 28th April
• The Moonlandingz • • The Big Moon • • Dream Wife • • Jagara • • Freak • • Eat Fast • • Fangclub • • Weirds • • Luxury Death • • Team Picture • • Wuzi •
NEU stage • Gurr • • Trudy and the Romance • • Sälen • • Otzeki • • Francobollo • • Geowulf • • Bad Nerves • • Lea Porcelain • • Easy Life • • Lisbon • • The Golden Age of TV •
rom the depths of what’s very probably the favourite live venue of any band who’s played there (Brudenell Social Club, fact fans) to the nightspots of Call Lane, one April Saturday will see Leeds awash with bands, as Live at Leeds takes over the city. There are plenty of DIY faves on show - Black Honey, The Magic Gang, VANT, The Big Moon, Superfood, Slaves, Temples, King Nun, and JAWS are just some of the names heading their way up, down or across the country to play. Once again we’re hosting not one but TWO stages at the Brudenell - The Big Moon, Dream Wife, Luxury Death and Eat Fast are among those on in the main room, while the Games Room hosts NEU favourites Trudy and the Romance, Sälen, and Gurr.
Q&A: Eat Fast What’s new in the world of Eat Fast? We signed to Cannibal Hymns at the start of the year, so we’re really proud to be joining the likes of Dream Wife and Our Girl with them. We’re releasing our second EP with them around the time of The Great Escape, and we’re currently compiling songs for EP3. No rest for the WKD. What can we expect from your Live at Leeds set? The aural equivalent of an extravagant and colourful firework being aimed at your face. Tell us a story of a past encounter with Leeds. A few of us went down on Bonfire Night to see Preoccupations at the Brudenell. A few young radgies in the adjacent park started aiming fireworks at the people outside the venue. One of them flew straight past my head. Wouldn’t that have been messy!
Q&A: Trudy and the Romance Hello, Trudy and the Romance. What’s new? Lew’s shaved his head, Brad got addicted to croissants, Olly’s pregnant... and we’ve been in the studio with our guy David Pye working on a hot new EP. What can Live at Leeds expect from your set? New songs, old songs, maybe an Elvis cover, bit of banter, sadness in our eyes, romance in your hearts, boogy vibes, broody vibes, Trudy vibes. Tell us a story of a past encounter with Leeds. We supported Paul Heaton and Jaqcui Abbott at the arena last year in front of about 9,000 people and I was pissed off my head. We got catering and the lot. Ended up losing about a grand in the casino across the road after. We love Leeds.
WHOLE LOTTA LATITUDE The 1975, Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes headline. Latitude (13th - 16th July) are continuing their ‘let’s ‘ave a great young UK band headline’ stint this year, with The 1975 confirmed as topping the bill on Friday night in Henham Park. They’ll be joined by Mumford & Sons, who bring along a host of pals under their Gentlemen of the Road curation umbrella - including Declan McKenna, Maggie Rogers and Lucy Rose - plus returning US beardy weirdos, Fleet Foxes. Also playing across the weekend are The Horrors, The Japanese House, Loyle Carner, Honeyblood, Sunflower Bean, King Nun, Goat Girl and Pixx.
HOT DAMN, SUMMER IN THE CITADEL Wild Beasts and Laura Marling to play the Victoria Park one-dayer. After they announced back in January that Foals would be headlining this year’s event in a ‘UK Festival Exclusive’, Citadel (16th July) have followed up with more names, as Wild Beasts, Laura Marling, Maggie Rogers and Bonobo join the Oxford band at the London one-dayer. Twin Peaks, Michael Kiwanuka, Margaret Glaspy, Nadine Shah and Dan Croll are also Victoria Park-bound, with more names - including the bill for the DIY at the Kopparberg Urban Forest stage - to be announced soon.
NEWS in Brief
At The Drive In, PVRIS, First Aid Kit and Skepta are among the latest additions to Lowlands (18th - 20th August), joining Mumford & Sons, alt-J, Bastille, Mac DeMarco, Flume and more. Royal Blood are heading to Lisbon this July, playing NOS Alive (6th - 8th July) alongside The xx, Ryan Adams, Foo Fighters, The Kills, Warpaint and others. Father John Misty, Bonobo, A Day To Remember and Clams Casino have all been added to the Roskilde (24th June - 1st July) bill, which already boasts Arcade Fire, Lorde, Foo Fighters, A Tribe Called Quest and blink-182. Haim, Sundara Karma, Charli XCX, Inheaven, King Nun, IDLES, and final headliner Eminem have all been confirmed for Reading & Leeds (25th - 27th August), joining Muse, Kasabian, Bastille, Two Door Cinema Club, Rat Boy and others. This year’s Secret Garden Party (20th - 23rd July) will be the last, the organisers have said. “What better way to honour the love that has been given to this project and wholly demonstrate this principle, than going out with a bang,” the self-styled ‘Head Gardener’ posted on the festival’s website.
Festival No. 6 (7th - 10th September) has shared its first names, with Bloc Party, Wild Beasts, Superfood, The Cribs, Formation, Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, Jagwar Ma and Honeyblood all braving the Welsh weather at Portmeirion. 23
FLYING VINYL 8th April
Modern technology might have changed the way we consume our cultural nuggets, but book shelves look pretty forlorn with a lone Kindle propped against the corner and you can’t pass down a host of Soundcloud links to your kids.
London based project Flying Vinyl understand this and that’s why they’ve spent the last two years carefully curating an oh-so-pretty monthly vinyl series, featuring the likes of Black Honey, The Magic Gang and more, all on good ol’ plastic. Last year they brought a host of FV alumni together for the first annual Flying Vinyl Festival, and now they’re back for round two. Taking place at London’s Oval Space on Saturday 8th April, the all-dayer will feature sets from a host of ace acts including Dream Wife, Traams, Trudy and the Romance and Yassassin alongside co-headliners The Wytches and Spring King.
Tarek Musa, Spring King You’re headlining Flying Vinyl Festival 2017! Why should everyone get involved with what they’re doing? It looks incredible, all the packaging and all this music together in one box. Who wouldn’t want that?! They’re all pretty laid back guys and that’s always the best way to do it or your soul dies early. You’ve got to do these things in a natural community way. Are you a big vinyl nerd? Oh yes. I think I own over 35 different Beach Boys records; I’ve got a few rarities, some Mexican pressings and things. I’m really big into jazz and bossanova so I collect a lot of that too, and then I’ve got some classics like Neil Young and my dad’s first pressings of The Rolling Stones, which is pretty incredible. Whenever we go on tour I always try and trick my tired bandmates into going past the record shop. Who else are you looking forward to seeing on the day? I’d literally recommend all of the bands. I’ve produced Trudy and the Romance’s first single and they’re really cool. Oliver [Taylor, vocals] is a great guitarist and his technique’s a bit like Courtney Barnett, but very unique. Dream Wife I’ve caught once and it was pretty intense; I really like their show. It’s gonna be a fun day out for us. And what have you lot got planned? There are a couple of album tracks that we don’t normally have the time to put in there but we wanna play as much as we can. Play the whole album. I really wanna do a Clash cover, I’d love to do ‘I Fought The Law’ or ‘White Riot’, but I don’t know if Clash fans would appreciate it. I don’t wanna crap out The Clash because they’re amazing, I don’t wanna fuck it up!
The techy who left a drawing pin on Tarek’s drum stool was fired shortly after.
On Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays we wear pink.
NEWS in Brief
alt-J, George Ezra, PJ Harvey, and Steve Aoki have all been confirmed for Sziget (9th - 16th August), with the Budapest event having already announced Charli XCX, Mac DeMarco, Kasabian, Metronomy and Major Lazer. The first acts for Pukkelpop (16th - 19th August) are out, with Mumford & Sons, Bastille, The xx, Perfume Genius, Mac DeMarco, George Ezra and Interpol among them. The NYC miserablists will be playing debut ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ in full. The first names for Wilderness (3rd - 6th August) have been revealed with Grace Jones, Two Door Cinema Club, First Aid Kit, Michael Kiwanuka, and Aurora all set to appear at the Oxfordshire event.
Lovebox (14th - 15th July) — who’d already confirmed one headliner in the shape of ‘London Festival Exclusive’ Frank Ocean - have announced more names. Solange, Jamie xx, Rex Orange County and Annie Mac are all Victoria Park-bound.
THE SWEET ESCAPE GIRLI, Estrons, and Superfood are all Brighton-bound. There’s been another veritable HEAP of acts added to the bill for this year’s The Great Escape (18th - 20th May), including Class of 2017 stars GIRLI and Estrons, top babes Superfood, newbies Sorry, and Grimes’ bestie Aristophanes. They join even more faves - Dream Wife, The Japanese House, The Magic Gang, Will Joseph Cook, Marika Hackman, Sløtface and Eat Fast have already been announced.
Dot To Dot (26th - 28th May) will host headliners Sundara Karma, plus artists including Honeyblood, Cherry Glazerr, Vagabon, Willie J Healey and Cosmo Pyke across its three sites in Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol. Idris Elba, Kate Tempest, Slow Club and Editors have all been added to Standon Calling (27th - 30th July), appearing alongside Slaves, Laura Mvula, Dutch Uncles, !!! and Kero Kero Bonito. Skepta, Chance The Rapper and The Weeknd headline Wireless (7th 10th July), with Wiley, Sean Paul, Nas, Rae Sremmurd, Young Thug and Ty Dolla $ign also making their way to London’s Finsbury Park.
dead pretties The most fun of London’s great new bands, Dead Pretties are guitar heroes-in-waiting - or one step away
from the self-destruct button. Words: Jamie Milton. Photo: Emma Swann.
cruffy, charming Dead Pretties frontman Jacob Slater takes his cues from Jack Black’s deranged Dewey Finn character in School of Rock. So much so, he’s often found performing impersonations of his favourite power chord-chugging professor. “It keeps music fun!” he beams, sipping on a Guinness in his Tottenham local, just past midday. “People look down their nose at that kind of stuff. But if you can’t keep it fun, fuck off.”
new music new bands
The three of them share a north London house with two other revellers, a five-minute walk from their rough-around-theedges boozer of choice. “The kitchen looks more like Dresden now,” Jacob jokes. “I walked in there today and it’s got that sort of smell where you can take a swab from anywhere and you’d grow some horrible bacteria in a Petri dish.” He takes a moment to inspect his tar-black nails, which look like they’ve
To Dead Pretties, the fabled prosecco shortage of ‘16 is but a distant memory.
been dragged in hot coal. “I mean look at this! What is underneath these? I don’t even wanna know”. These three are still in their teens (“We’re tadpoles. And one day I’ll be a fucking frog!” beams Jacob), and part of you wants to give them a hug, offer them a shower and hide them from the Windmill for a few months. But they’re building something special, with fuzz-smothered debut single ‘Social Experiment’ and through this coveted London scene. Peers Goat Girl have been swift to dispel any unnecessary mythology, and Dead Pretties are pretty much in the same boat. “The minute a newspaper writes, ‘There is a scene’, people chat about it,” admits Jacob. “It’s very easy to complain about that kind of thing. But you do take influence from people around you, even if you don’t realise.” Alongside Shame, HMLTD, Fish and Matt Maltese, there’s a definite bunch of exciting, young acts who barely sound alike on paper, but they all share the same stages and the same core ideals. “There’s a lot of healthy competition. Sometimes unhealthy,” drummer Ben Firth claims. Two things characterise this movement – a desire to be creative at all costs, and a wariness about being swept up in hype. Jacob cites a B-Town scene that, beyond its leading pack, was dead and buried as soon as it built a reputation. “I don’t know socially the ins and outs with what happened there, but the creative output stopped. If you get comfortable and there’s loads of people blowing smoke up your arse, you get complacent and stupid. But you don’t realise, because there’s so many Yes People around you. Some of the things that go with music are maybe not for us,” he adds, admitting that they’re not too comfortable with interviews, despite being endlessly entertaining in conversation. “A very strong resolution of ours is that we don’t consider ourselves superior in any way. That’s fucked up. It’s music and music only. There’s too many distractions nowadays. Too many gimmicks.” In the rulebook of Dewey Finn, keep it fun, keep it genuine. DIY Dead Pretties are appearing at Live at Leeds and The Great Escape this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
Dead Pretties have made plenty of friends in their two years since forming. Including Lucky, the Windmill’s resident pet dog. “He likes to play with plastic bottles,” claims Ben. “Standing outside the Windmill, lots of elderly people come along with a plastic bottle, and it’s their evening entertainment when they can’t sleep. Jacob claims their canine pal responds to the Match of the Day theme tune, although only sometimes. “I’ve tried it, but maybe I’m singing in the wrong key.”
Dead Pretties are stupidly fun. Their live shows – mostly at Brixton Windmill, the hub of south London’s fledgling scene – are crazed, communal experiences. During one sticky, over-excited performance in summer 2016, Jacob spewed the previous night’s dinner all over himself. He’d had one too many bevvies (and other things, by the sounds of it). “That taught us a lesson,” bassist Oscar Browne says. “Don’t get me wrong, we still indulge ourselves prior to shows in as many ways as possible,” chimes in Jacob. “But we know our limits now.” He’s fibbing slightly, there. These three have the demeanour of a trio of recently un-caged wild hyenas. They want to write, record and play as many shows as possible, even if that means sleeping on each other’s floors and being broke. They haven’t exactly settled.
Suitably sluggish noise that stands out in a crowd.
A legendary songwriter in a 20-year-old’s shoes.
At both ends of the political spectrum, everyone has their own #hottake on the grim-as-fuck world events we’re surrounded by. Somehow, South London newcomer Matt Maltese has spun his own original twist on geo politics. It’s a bit grim, mind you. ‘As the World Caves In’, produced by The Maccabees’ Hugo White, is about Theresa May and Donald Trump sharing a steamy night together as they trigger a nuclear war. Lovely stuff. Thankfully, Matt ties his truly horrifying story with grandiose delivery and a smart eye for black comedy. Listen: 2016’s ‘In a New Bed’ EP is a must-listen. Similar to: Father John Misty if you could actually grasp what the hell he’s on about.
Something for your soul.
Until Superorganism came along, it felt like the days of ultra mysterious, buzzy bands might be over. Maybe people had stopped caring, maybe bands just got bored of wearing masks and claiming false identities. But just like that, the London via New England group’s debut track was emailed out to a bunch of eagle-eyed bloggers, and things spread from there. Nobody knows who they are, except they claim to be fronted by a 17-year-old Japanese student from Maine. All this interest stems from the fact that ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.’ is a bubblegumglossed triumph. It’s so good, many mistook it for a new Gorillaz song hiding in sheep’s clothes. Listen: Keep your ears to the ground to find out more about this mysterious bunch. Similar to: A James Murphy-produced triumph that could nudge even Sheeran out the charts.
Listen: ‘Habit’ is out now on Sister Polygon (Priests, Downtown Boys). Similar to: A perfect summer soundtrack for bummed-out, bored kids.
Nothing stands in the way of this pop prodigy’s stardom. The biggest debut single of 2017 so far belongs to Sigrid. A 20-year-old Londoner by way of Bergen, Norway, in ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ she’s crafted a track so hook-tastic it makes supersongwriter Max Martin look like an ambient aficionado. Not only is ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ a straight-up banger, it also damns every naysayer and keyboard warrior who sticks their nose in. “You think you’re so important to me, don’t you? Well I wanted you to know, you don’t belong here!” she chants. Sigrid has a 100-mile-a-minute head start on every other pop prodigy. Listen: ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, duh. Similar to: Charli XCX penning a classic.
When every band and their dog relies on a fuzz pedal, it’s hard to stand out. But in the last few months, talk’s turned to the project of 17-year-old Baltimore musician Lindsey Jordan and her Snail Mail band. They like to keep things simple – the band name exists because it’s a neat rhyme, apparently – but debut EP ‘Habit’ shows real heart beneath a raw, saw-toothed exterior. Best of all is ‘Thinning’, which ended up being a low-key soundtrack to the chaos of this year’s SXSW.
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Hey Eva, you missed a bit.
Art-rockers Dama Scout might be still be in their infant stages, but these first steps are all kinds of exciting. Words: Lisa Wright.
In the fast-paced world of Music 2K17, it’s easy to get your knickers in a twist all too soon, only for the band in question to turn out more Wombats than Wolf Alice (sorry lads). Sometimes, however, you just know. Such is the case with London-viaGlasgow trio Dama Scout.
When DIY invited them to join the roster for this year’s annual ‘Hello’ series – essentially a guided tour through all our favourite new acts – they’d played precisely six gigs. “Yeah, that was pretty scary...” gulps bassist Lucci Rossi, recalling the show. But Dama Scout have nothing to be scared of. Before we wax lyrical, however, let’s cement the basics. Dama Scout initially came together when drummer Daniel Grant upped sticks to London and joined childhood friend and fellow Scot Lucci who had started making music with a new mate – singer Eva Liu. “I’d moved to this flat in Kentish Town which is like a halfway house for Scottish people. It’s a portal,” he jokes. “It’s this weird, cheap flat that everyone moves into when they come here, so then Danny came and lived there too.” Far from laying the bones for the band up North, however, the pair had spent their formative years in the city’s “alternative scene” (their air quotes, not ours), rivalling it out in various groups. “Danny was a punk and I was a metaller so that was an issue,” says Lucci. “Our friendship broke down walls”.
Eva, meanwhile, had been raised on a diet of “The Beach Boys, Cantonese and Japanese pop and ‘90s bands like The Breeders”. An unlikely pairing of histories, perhaps, but one that the band shrug off like it ain’t no thing. “We never had any real reference points for sound,” she says. “And we’ve got quite different tastes and styles in terms of how we play.” “Yeah, it’s pop sensibilities but with no real rules,” agrees Rossi. “The main thing is just fun – not the band, the concept. We didn’t want to overthink it too much.” And there’s perhaps the key spark that makes Dama Scout, in all their infancy, such a truly exciting thing. ‘Forget It’s Good’ is a gauzy, gorgeous thing that begins on dappled guitars and dreamy nostalgia before piquing in a chorus that shoots straight for the heart. ‘All In Too’, meanwhile, is wonky and weird, full of scrappy riffs and monotone vocals shot with moments of hypnotic, kraut-y melody. Both are playful, unexpected and assured in their choices, in ways that belie a band so young. Next up is a summer single to boost their current output by a solid 50% and then an EP later in the year. They’ve already got a clutch of tracks in the bank ready to go, but they’re in no rush to hurry them out and fit into the industry machine just yet. And really, why would they want to? Confident and happy to take their time and forge their own path, Dama Scout are only just beginning. When you know, you just know. DIY
wherever he goes. Words: Eugenie Johnson Vintage hip hop, jangly indie-pop, a bit of spoken word and a good splash of brass. These are just some of the elements that make up the music of 18-year-old Surrey resident Alex O’Connor, better known as Rex Orange County. From the range of MIDI and Logic samples that peppered his debut mixtape ‘bcos u will never b free’ to more live instrumentation on his recent singles, Alex enjoys experimenting, but it’s something that just comes naturally. “I don’t do it on purpose,” he says. “I just like doing a lot of different stuff. It was good to have threads and themes but not sounding just like one band or it being really similar.”
Perhaps it was just a given that Alex’s work would be such a melting pot. His sister studied classical music, he started playing drums when he was young and from there branched into piano and guitar. The real lightbulb moment came when Alex started attending performing arts school where he got to “learn about so many bands, so I was able to be inspired by loads of stuff at once.” It was then that he also had an epiphany: “I realised I didn’t want to be a drummer the rest of my life!” So he branched out, and not long after that, “I figured I had something of a sound, and people quite liked it!”
Even with a sound that encompasses a huge range of genres, there’s still some elements of Alex’s work that are huge curveballs. Did anyone predict that the tinny, unmistakable sound of elevator muzak would chime in on ‘Best Friend’? It’s a move that certainly keeps you on your toes, but don’t expect the sounds of your lift journey to creep back into his tunes anytime soon: “it’s just a little dip into it, I’m not prioritising elevator music in my career.” Alex’s music is actually brimming with sincerity, whether it’s about being put into the friend zone or, with ‘UNO’, his own desire to drop out of school. Despite the track being very personal to Alex, the openness of the lyrics, which is “really about not being interested in where you’re at anymore and wanting to move on”, make it relatable. Crafting lyrics that are honest stems from who Alex is a person; he’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind. “I’m lucky to have it come out quite naturally and I don’t have to think about it too hard,” he says. “In my nature I’ll just say things exactly how they are. I’m not so great with metaphors, I just say it how it is.” Now Alex has his debut album proper in the pipeline, and it’s set to be a departure away from ‘bcos u will never b free.’ “With the first mini-album, mixtape thing, it was just some really negative stuff about how I felt about a girl basically. Now this is about other shit,” he says. This time round, he’s continuing to be “honest about the sad things, but it’s on a more generally positive note”. Get in line, because you’re gonna wanna be Rex Orange County’s best friend. DIY
REX ORANGE COUNTY
So, how did Alex adopt the name “Rex Orange County”? The “Rex” part is apparently just “a nice three letter word” but there’s a proper story behind the rest: “My last name’s O’Connor, and we had two Alexes in the class, so he was Alex J and I was Alex OC. The idea of having a weird connection with an American soap opera seemed funny at one point, plus it seemed like a cool twoword thing.” Don’t bother quizzing him on his knowledge though because “I haven’t fucking watched ‘The OC’!”
Meet Alex O’Connor, the 18-year-old turning heads
GIG GUIDE The must-see new music gigs taking place this month. Buzzy first steps ANTEROS 27th April After tours with White Lies and Blaenavon, London four-piece Anteros bring their honest, cutting pop and new EP ‘Drunk’ to the Sebright Arms. On tour XENIA RUBINOS 24th-28th April Brooklyn-based soul-jazz-punk singer and songwriter Xenia Rubinos is bringing her politically-charged ‘Black Terry Cat’ album to the UK this month. She visits Manchester, Bristol, London and Ramsgate.
Moth Club, London. Photos: Phil Smithies.
In the immediate aftermath of her flooringly great second EP ‘Verde,’ catching Tei Shi live seemed like a harder task than hunting down a wild Pikachu. Save for a couple of festival shows here and there, Valerie Teicher stayed – by and large – hidden away in the studio, tinkering with her sound, and shaping the vision for what would become ‘Crawl Space’. And on the evidence of tonight’s gold-soaked show under the glittery arches of Moth Club, taking her time has proven wise. A masterclass in vocal control, feeding tension drop by drop, and holding an entire room in the palm of her hand, Tei Shi makes the Hackney crowd’s collective jaws drop to the floor on a murky Wednesday night.
Established older tracks like ‘Bassicaly’ hit just as hard as you’d expect, but it’s the ease with which new debut material settles in that proves most impressive. ‘Justify’ – all prowling, punchy verses and unholy screams – collides gloss with chaos, and hits in one clean blow. ‘Keep Running’ retains the sparse minimalism of its recorded counterpart, but given a vital pulse by Tei’s brand new live band, it’s got a new, captivating rawness. It’s hard to believe this lot have only played a couple of dates together so far. ‘How Far’, too, takes on new shimmering light. “How far it can take us before it forsakes us?” asks Tei to no-one in particular, her voice soaring from reined in restraint, to somersaulting, spiralling, gymnastics – and back down to earth again. Having spent March criss-crossing the US with DIY fave MØ, it wouldn’t be an almighty surprise to see Tei Shi achieving similar stratospheric heights to Karen Marie Ørsted in the future, bringing a grittier, more shadowy edge to what are – in essence – straight-up brilliant pop songs. (El Hunt) DIY 34 diymag.com
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
ON THE PLAYLIST Every week on Spotify, we update DIY’s Neu Discoveries playlist with the buzziest, freshest faces. Here’s our pick of the best new tracks: Sälen ‘Pretty, Fake’ Nobody is safe from Sälen’s savvy, sassy pop. This time round, they take aim at bad-mouthers at parties – you know, the kind who whisper not-so-sweet nothings from the other side of a room. Her’s ‘Speed Racer’ Channelling the very best of shameless 80s pop while sounding like one of Mac DeMarco’s lost cassette tapes, Liverpool duo Her’s are onto something. Kane Strang ‘Oh So You’re Off I See’ A deadpan, Interpol-nodding triumph containing one of 2017’s most memorable hooks – it’s taken from the New Zealander’s second album, out this year.
Class of 2017 star Jorja Smith has shared a flooring new anthem in the shape of ‘Beautiful Little Fools’. It’s the first song since her ‘Project 11’ EP from last year, and it serves as a powerful call to arms. It also has a swanky ballroom video, which you can watch on diymag. com. This summer, she plays Latitude (13th-16th July), Longitude (14th-16th July) and the last ever Secret Garden Party (20th-23rd July).
I’M WITH STUPID Profiled in last month’s DIY (they’re the ones who write about mean school canteen ladies, remember?), Girl Ray have shared a brilliant new single. ‘Stupid Things’ is about a big, crippling crush, bordering on obsession. Which is fitting, given you ought to be fully obsessed with everything Girl Ray are up to these days. A reminder: they play Wales Goes Pop (14th April) and Glasgow’s Stag & Dagger (30th April) before headlining London Lexington on 23rd May.
The brilliant Vagabon released debut album ‘Infinite Worlds’ back in March.
Now the Brooklyn newcomer, real name Lætitia Tamko, has announced her first ever UK shows. She’ll be bringing her fuzzy, politicised world to British shores in May, kicking off her run of dates in Leeds as part of the Gold Sounds Festival. She’ll then head off to Paris quickly for a date with Day Wave (as you do) before popping back to Britain to play in London, Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. See the full schedule on diymag.com.
photo: mike massaro
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Dress down Fridays aren’t really a ‘thing’ at Big Moon HQ...
ff stage, at least, The Big Moon have the collective attention spans of four sherbetaddicted goldfish. Most of the time, they’re not especially interested in discussing, y’know, their band. A pre-show pint almost immediately turns into a far-reaching monologue from vocalist Jules Jackson about the original founders of McDonald’s, accidental sleeve pyrotechnics from chief guitar-shredder Soph Nathan, general rambling delirium from bassist Celia Archer, and the chaotic aftermath of resident drum-pounder Fern Ford dropping her phone down the loo. A quick sit-down over lunch, fresh out of astronaut costumes, soon becomes a dedicated tactical discussion analysing The Big Moon’s brand new football team - and their first ever match - instead. In other words, it’s quite an experience trying to keep up with this lot. And, above all else, The Big Moon feel like a proper gang.
“I don’t really feel like any of these moments are very Spice World...” Celia Archer A couple of years back, it was a different story. After writing songs in her bedroom, all on her tod, Jules Jackson was after a band to help her bring things to life; but a group of decent backing musicians just wouldn’t cut the proverbial mustard. “I definitely wanted it to be a gang,” she states today. Introduced to instrument-wielding friends of friends, after a series of pleading statuses and text messages, Jules eventually found the rest of The Big Moon, bit by bit. From the minute they rallied together, sacked off the awkward small talk, and played in the same room, the four of them knew there was no going back. “Serendipity,” announces Celia. “You could feel it. Jules had a little cry, we all had a little hug. We were the final pieces!” “I have a recording from the first time we... jammed,” Fern smirks. “The chat is so awkward, because we just don’t know each other,” she tells Jules. “You’re speaking in this weird way, which must be what Jules is like when she doesn’t know someone! It’s like ‘ooo, ah! Oh dear!” “I kind of wish I could go back and watch it again,” reminisces Soph, mid-way through a helping of dhal. “Two years ago! We’ve changed!” As if on cue, she immediately changes tact, too. “Jules!” Soph yells suddenly, alarmed. “Get that buttery salt patch on some bread before it goes!”
ith the countdown ticking down to the release of debut album ‘Love in the 4th Dimension,’ The Big Moon are sipping cooler water in the backstage labyrinth of the BBC’s Maida Vale studios a couple of months prior to donning spacesuits, and seem - unusually – a bit nervous. Understandable, really, given that they’re about to play live on the radio
to millions of unwitting people cooking their after-work dinners. “It’s just nothing, whatever,” dismisses Jules, before being whisked away on press duties. “We’re a support band, in Wigan, and there’s nobody here. No need to be worried!” “I feel fine!” Celia insists. “People keep asking us how we feel, and that makes you more nervous. I don’t need to think about that. Are we supposed to say things?” she wonders aloud, peering around backstage production. “Maybe we should ask someone...” “I think we should say ‘Hi, we’re The Big Moon,” Soph grins. As luck would have it, they remember not to swear on air, and completely nail the whole set, too. After a bizarre variation on their traditional pre-gig hug (Fern’s already sat ready behind her drum kit, making the whole thing a bit more logistically challenging) debut mega-bangers ‘Sucker’ and ‘Formidable’ beam out to the biggest audience they’ve had yet; Celia’s mum among the listeners. The band might veer between topics of discussion with the velocity of a lone punter let loose with the master keys to Disneyland, but onstage, they’re a ferociously polished prospect. “There are so many people who haven’t heard us!” Celia beams. “There are new people all the time!”
month later, The Big Moon’s first live voyage onto the airwaves is a fading memory. Today, they’re scoffing salted nuts in the pub instead while waiting on a pre-gig pizza delivery. “This is part of our pre-show ritual!” informs Fern. “We always say ‘da iawn, pob lwc, rwy’n dy garu di’, too” she adds, casually.
What’s in a name…?
efore settling on The Big Moon as a band name, this lot went through a couple of other options, namely Riff Randell (urrrrrm) and plain old The Moon. “That was before we signed a record deal,” Fern informs us. “And then we were like, ‘hey! We’re big now!’” “Yes, and sort of... legal issues,” adds Soph, diplomatically. “There’s lots of moons around.” Jules, who has been quietly Googling in the corner, suddenly holds her phone aloft. “P!nk’s bigger than the colour pink!” she announces. There you go.
“For somebody who doesn’t understand Welsh, it’s ‘well done, good luck, I love you,’” she helpfully footnotes. “That started in Birmingham at the Sunflower Lounge. We didn’t do a proper hug, it was all a bit of a rush, so we turned around, and we said that. That’s something we always say now.” “We do it before we go on,” says Celia, “or else everything will blow up.” Tonight, around the corner from their boozer of choice, another landmark moment awaits. The Big Moon are headlining the venue where they played their first ever gig way back when; the rougharound-the-edges Brixton stalwart, The Windmill. It feels fitting, and a little bit special, for things to come full circle. “We were called Riff Randell,” chuckles Jules. “It was fucking awful,” Fern adds. “It was probably really ramshackle, but we played a gig! I definitely looked at the floor the whole time,” Celia chips in. “It was nice of them to give us a chance,” she laughs, “back when we weren’t very good...”
ove in the 4th Dimension’ stands up as one of the boldest, brightest first steps from a new band in some time. Snoozy-titled ‘Zeds’, Soph’s favourite track, actually has very little to do with getting a good night’s sleep. “I try my hardest to get off... to sleep,” Jules sings, before giving way to a yearning muddle of squealing guitars. The titletrack, meanwhile, peters gently into life with a woo-ing chorus, before crashing headlong into yet another razor-sharp melody. The next minute, Jules is barking and yelping her way through ‘Bonfire’, hurling herself into every line as Soph nimbly scales the fretboards, and Celia’s bass circles craftily atop Fern’s pulse. The whole song busts with a fire-starting, pent-up urge for destruction. No wonder it’s apparently the band’s most requested song live; it’s yet more evidence of a band with powerhouse anthems for days.
“I definitely wanted it to be a gang.” - Jules Jackson
“That was the one,” beams Jules, “when were were recording the album. We did ‘Bonfire’ and I was really excited. Obviously I was excited before, but that song to me feels like how we should sound; really raucous and
energetic.” That’s The Big Moon all over. Beneath the surface impact of their shredding arsenal, ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ is actually a brilliantly soppy, triumphantly loved-up record, too. Falling in love, revelling in lust, pulling through challenging rifts, and holding friendships up high, it’s a record that lights up the gloom. It’s not just a take-away the band embrace whole-heartedly; it was something of a goal from the off. “There’s a time and a place for miserable songs,” concedes Jules, “but I don’t want to just spread misery. I sometimes feel like it’s bad enough that I am writing songs about me, and my life, and all my feelings,” she hoots, “but I’d rather write things that are a bit more galvanising...” “Also,” points out Celia, “you’ve been in love! You fell in love when you started the band!” “Yeah, I’ve been majorly in love since we started the band,” Jules grins gleefully. “My life’s just going really well!” And then, suddenly, for no particular reason, things take a darker turn. Out of nowhere, Jules discloses her theory behind The Big Moon’s good fortunes thus far. “I’ve got this taxidermy crow in my bedroom, which my friend stole from a party, as you do,” she says, spinning the yarn. “I’ve had it for two and a half years – since we started the band – and I was scared of throwing it away..” “It’s our albatross,” adds Celia as a sinister aside. “It’s full of moths, and dust,” continues Jules, “just,” she provides a haunting squawk for effect, “there with its wings out. I even put a bow tie on it, but it’s still so gross. I’m not proud of the crow. I like to think of myself as not superstitious, but the crow is a secret I keep in my bedroom. And now I’ve told you!” “Off the record!” yells Soph across the room. “Nah, on the record,” Jules shrugs. “You can have the crow. Keep the crow. I actually tried to write a song about the crow once, but it was too stupid. So shit!”
The Big Moon have quite the reputation for their flamboyant shirt collection, and it turns out a tropical influence informed their debut, too. In the end, they decked out their whole studio with a vaguely Hawaiian theme in mind. Jules: We had a lot of inflatable bananas, and flamingos, and hawaiian shirts, flowery leis. It’s just relaxing, isn’t it? Celia: Would a monkey and a flamingo hang out in the same place? Jules: Where do flamingos live, apart from in the zoo? Celia: In the mountains? Fern: Flamingos? Mountains? Really? 42 diymag.com
hankfully, The Big Moon’s resident raven doesn’t accompany them on the road (that’s a role left reserved for a cuddly toy fish named Pho) and given their van playlist of choice, it’s perhaps no surprise they’ve crafted a debut
as uplifting as ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’. “It’s called ‘Textured 80s and 90s Sentimental Nostalgia,’” Jules confirms. “We have another one too, which is ‘The Best of Magic FM’. Once I fell asleep, woke up, and I was still singing along.” Luckily, she’s referring to a time she wasn’t the designated driver. It turns out that Jules is a bit of a demon behind the wheel, mind, particularly when her bladder’s close to bursting. “Once, Jules really needed to wee,and she just stopped the van at the entrance to a concourse and just went,” recounts Soph gleefully. ”It was fine!” shouts Jules. “The amount she needed to wee, though, it was a needing to stop job. You’d need a couple of pint glasses otherwise,” says Celia, offering a few words of support. “I don’t really feel like any of these moments are very Spice World...” she adds, valiantly trying to steer conversation away. “Obviously, our tour bus looks like the Spice Girls’ one,” Soph picks up. “Hey, guys, remember when we drove across Tower Bridge, and it opened, and we did a jump?!” asks Celia. “That was really cool.” “We actually had a sleepover really early on, and watched Spice World, and drank beer, and then all slept in the same room,” grins Soph. “That was really cute.”
he Big Moon are – it’s quickly apparent – the sort of bunch that hold very little back, in all respects. Over the course of a single lunch sitting, Soph looks back nostalgically on “that time we all weed together on the way to Glastonbury, all in a field, in a line” and Jules, meanwhile, confesses to her largest character flaw. “I never wash my hands,” she admits, before the others all murmur in agreement. Fern, in fact, is the only one who seems to take a disapproving view. “They don’t wash as much as I’d like them to wash,” she confides quietly. “I think washing is so overrated,” Celia snorts in retort.
“They don’t wash as much as I’d like them to wash.” - Fern Ford
Later on, with cleanliness chat left behind, Jules spends a puzzled few minutes refuting, and then quietly re-agreeing with, quotes given to DIY regarding The 4th Dimension itself during a phone interview a few months back. According to the frontwoman, the area in question lies just on the cusp of where space begins. Everything there is square and travels backwards. “When was I saying that?” she protests initially. “When I was high? Oh..”. “It was a great time when Jules paralysed her shoulder and was heavily medicated for a long time while doing press!” remembers Celia. “My take on ‘The 4th Dimension’ is nothing as fun as what Jules said,” she laughs. “When Jules described the fourth dimension, I felt it was correct.” ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ is a lot of things as a first record. It’s a haywire planet; totally bonkers, and meticulously pieced together at the same time, operating using its very own topsy-turvy rules of physics. It’s also the sound of a beyondstratospheric band making their first bold steps, and striding leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. An untameable rabble and a “weird combination” (Celia’s words, not ours) of musicians that gel with a super-glue strong bond, The Big Moon haven’t just made this year’s brightest debut, they’ve set down their flag as the UK’s best new band. The Big Moon’s debut album ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ is out on 7th April via Fiction. DIY
The Big Moon are appearing at Live at Leeds this year. Head to diymag.com for details. 43
Ready steady 44 diymag.com
Emotionally ambiguous and sometimes twisted lyrics, soaring pop hooks and a crazy amount of creativity: Will lifts the lid on his long-awaited debut ‘Sweet Dreamer’. Words: Eugenie Johnson. Photos: Phil Smithies.
dream shitloads as a person,” Will Joseph Cook admits. “Even this morning, I kept having dreams that I’d gone on this tour but none of us were playing any instruments, we were just miming and trying to convince people it was a good idea, and we were just bombing everywhere. People were throwing stuff at us and everything.” That sounds way more like a nightmare, but luckily there’s little chance of it actually coming true. He’s recently been on tour with Sundara Karma and had “probably the most fun we’ve had on the road” after all. Will is about to fully realise another dream though, one that doesn’t involve “weird interpretive dance”. His debut album ‘Sweet Dreamer’ is finally being released. As that old saying goes though, good things come to those who wait, and Will wanted to find just the right time to unleash the record on to the world. “It’s good to have people care when you put it out, so I wanted to do some more touring and videos,” he says. “A good debut album has to have a sense of arrival or a statement, but I wanted this to also be like a boiled-down, 12-track portfolio. I didn’t want to be restricted by concept or anything, it’s just literally: ‘here’s the best things I’ve made in the past year’,” he says. “I’m literally just writing the songs I want to hear.” And clearly, what he wants to hear is an album filled with pop gems. It’s meant to give an idea of who Will Joseph Cook is as a person, and provide an insight into what he listens to himself, too. “I hope it’ll help people understand what I’m trying to do,” he reasons. The album does indeed draw on a huge range of sounds, from the melodic but mellow electric guitar on ‘Light Of The Day’ to the euphoric steel drums and percussion on ‘Plastic’, the minimalist lo-fi synth tones of ‘Hands’ to the staccato riffs of ‘For Thursday.’ It’s a record that’s never short on variation, with new ideas hiding around every corner, and absolutely massive choruses bursting from the seams.
“I’m literally just writing the songs I want to hear.”
You might be a little surprised about where a lot of his ideas came from, too. At some point most of Will’s songs begin life as a little melody or line mumbled or hummed as a memo, while he’s out and about. Apparently the bus is a particularly fruitful place to be creative. “I’d say a good 80% of all the tracks started out as a weird bus memo. I’ve got a bunch of them!” Will explains. Of course, if you’re going to mutter to yourself on the bus, you might get a few odd reactions. Even Will thinks it might be a bit strange. Recently, he was “wrapped up in a big fleece with my hood up at the back of the bus humming into this thing and I was like, ‘oh my God, people must think I’m crazy’,” he says. “I’d think I was weird if I saw me.” Long may this streak of bus memos continue, though, as it’s just another outward sign of Will’s boundless creativity. Knowing this, it’s really not surprising that much of the album, aside from his singles and a reworked version of ‘Beach (I Wanna Make You Mine),’ is made up entirely of never-before-heard tracks. Some of them were even written and recorded in the last two months before the album was finished. “I had a frantic writing spurt that really helped to reinvigorate it for me,” Will explains. “I think the kind of pop MGMT, Weezer, Vampire Weekend and
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS Will’s guide to a good night’s rest. Will has admitted that he’s a big one for dreaming, so who better to ask about what the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep? What’s his secret to a good night’s sleep then? A nice warm bath? Relaxing music? A cup of hot chocolate even? Er, no... “You know when you’re completely knackered and you’ve walked two miles in rain, and it’s 9pm? That’s the secret to blissful sleep I think,” he says. OK... Better get our coats on then!
Phoenix do in their lyrics, there’s a slight irony or humour there. They’re saying something to catch your ear and make you question what the song is actually about.” Similarly, Will also wants you to keep listening, to keep getting more out of his words with each repeated spin. “If you’re getting something different from a third listen, then that’s exactly what I was trying to do.” No song quite epitomises that much more open-ended writing style than the title track. ‘Sweet Dreamer’ sees Will acting out an internal conflict, battling with himself about how on the one hand he might be “irrational” but also feels as if he’s just “looking up.” “It’s about losing touch of optimism, and how when you’re in a negative space you’re like ‘what the hell happened’? Where you don’t understand why you’re feeling one way about something.” It’s unsurprising that these feelings of conflict would have arisen in Will though, as it came to fruition at a very specific moment in recent history. “When I was writing it, it was the week after Brexit,” Will explains. “So all of that stuff was starting to come through and I was feeling pretty negative about shit. It’s about trying to convince myself to think differently through the process of writing it.” As such, “it was from the perspective of being out of control, and we’re left to deal with what’s happened to the country.”
“I was wrapped up in a big fleece with my hood up at the back of the bus humming… I’d think I was weird if I saw me.”
Determined to carry on injecting his ecstatic pop with realism, Will has been back recording bus memos based on his own life again. “My girlfriend texted me about a flight to Jamaica. But I was like, ‘ah shit, if we did that now I definitely wouldn’t have the money to do it’,” he says. Pipe dreams make good writing material though, and soon enough Will’s mind was already thinking of ways to the message into a brand new tune. “I had the idea of the flight to Jamaica being an elusive dream, and I have a good bus memo of that. I was thinking maybe an 80’s white-funk type of thing, like David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’.” That’s the beauty of Will: he’s constantly thinking of ways to turn those dreams into something excitingly real. Will Joseph Cook’s debut album ‘Sweet Dreamer’ is out on 14th April via Atlantic.DIY Will Joseph Cook is appearing at The Great Escape this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
BACK TO THE
FUTURE A f t e r u n e x p e c t e d ly s h i m m y i n g t h e i r way i n t o t h e l i m e l i g h t w i t h
their fourth album, Future Islands aren’t about to change their
tune. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Phil Knot t.
amuel T. Herring is looking forward to going back on the road. It’s been 18 months since the band’s last tour came to an end, and the downtime makes the frontman feel restless.
“I miss that clean slate of just being in an empty hotel room in a new city. A bed, a desk, a chair. I know what to do in this room,” he begins, a few weeks after beginning the band’s comeback with an intimate New York show, and a few days before the second gig in support of upcoming fifth album ‘The Far Field’, at a club in Copenhagen. He even contemplates doing the dishes for his entire floor after checking out the spec of the current London hotel room he and bandmates Gerrit Welmers and William Cashion populate. “I read that Bill Gates does the dishes every day,” William interjects. “When you have to do these mundane daily activities or household chores, it allows the mind to wander and can help you to find creativity more efficiently. Which is probably why I always find I stumble upon my best ideas when I’m in the shower or something.” Not many bands get their big break almost a decade - and three full-length albums - into their career, and it’s safe to say the critical acclaim hurtled at ‘Singles’ and its huge, Letterman-conquering single ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ took the band by surprise as much as those following them since the mid-00s. It doesn’t seem to be a change that’s affecting the trio, though - entirely in character, their feet are still firmly on the ground. “The problem with success is that it can colour your perception of what you did, and we found
success by being ourselves, so we shouldn’t change that,” Samuel begins. “A lot of artists will follow the trends of the time, thinking ‘well, this is the spotlight so we have to go towards it, and keep in the light by redefining ourselves at every turn’, but we’ve always stuck to a similar palette, made music honestly and that we love, and not really overthought things.” It still didn’t stop him pre-empting his own writer’s block every time the band stepped back into the studio, though. “That’s another thing with success, you worry that you’ll never be able to write another song again,” he says, but the songs and ideas for ‘The Far Field’ ended up coming together remarkably smoothly, and it’s brought a coherence that can be felt throughout. The new album is a deep, complex record that reveals more of its inner self the more you let it in, and is maybe the best example yet of Future Islands teaming bright, clean indie-pop with a core devastated by heartbreak and a fear of mortality. It’s a balance the band master - after all, Sam Herring wouldn’t be roaring and beating his chest about nothing on the telly. “It’s always been a part of the tension that we create, which I believe is one of our most powerful elements, contrasting light and dark. Some feelings of beauty make me feel nostalgic, which may then come off as
“We want to be able to move people’s feet and their hearts.” Samuel T. Herring
dark, but it all comes from a place of missing something that once was beautiful. There’s also times where you think ‘this is a great dance track - how do I pull something deeper out of it?’ because it’s very easy to be vapid and to write empty lyrics for a dance song. We want to be able to move people’s feet and their hearts.” ‘The Far Field’ signals a redefinition of Future Islands’ goals as people and as musicians, from a band who have never before had soldout tours stretching into the distance in front of them before their new album is even out in the world, as Samuel explains. “In a purely practical sense, these last few years have been revelationary because we can take care of ourselves better now. We can take care of our loved ones, or do something special for the people we care about in our lives. Those things are the reasons that we pushed ourselves in certain ways. Being able to get
home at the end of it all.” “It’s wild. When we were 23 and moved to Baltimore, the goal was to be a musician who only had to make music. Then I found myself in 2016 with nothing to do, and as a musician who only had to make music. I had reached my goal, and so last year was a year of redefining my goals, and I’m not sure I’ve quite reset yet, and worked out what the next goal is.” Whatever Samuel T. Herring’s next personal goal is, he and his band have created an album that sees Future Islands more at ease with themselves and their place in the world than ever before. Future Islands’ new album ‘The Far Field’ is out on 7th April via 4AD. DIY Future Islands are appearing at Lowlands this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
Our Samuel is a mysterious man, so we asked him to provide four ‘facts’ about himself - one is false and three are true. Which is which is all yours to guess, dear readers. j He once ate fifty popsicles in the space of five minutes (“Let’s just say that at the time I was in a state where I wanted to ‘open my mind’”) j He used to do interpretative dance (William: “You still do!”) j He once started a fire in his sixth grade classroom j He won a state cup in soccer as a child
Lost Paris in
Oi, who are you calling pansies?!â€?
Five years since their first single and now all the ripe old age of 21, Blaenavon are finally ready to unleash debut LP ‘That’s Your Lot’. Spoiler alert: it was worth the wait.
Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Emma Swann.
t’s around 4pm in the middle of an empty Casino De Paris – the kind of floor-to-ceiling red-velvet-andchandeliers venue that feels like being in the belly of an upmarket Moulin Rouge (which, incidentally, is situated a stone’s throw up the road) – and Blaenavon are feeling a little peaky. Having just finished a run of dates with pals Sundara Karma, they’re now back out with label mates Two Door Cinema Club in Europe before returning to UK shores for their own headline jaunt throughout April. The dreaded tour lurgy is starting to rear its head. Daunting schedule though this may be, over the past couple of years the trio – comprised of Hampshire school friends Ben Gregory (vocals, guitar), Frank Wright (bass) and Harris MacMillan (drums) – have become used to this sort of thing (see a near-incessant string of dates alongside Mystery Jets, DIIV and tons more for proof). Now, they have the additional incentive of long-awaited debut ‘That’s Your Lot’ to build them back up to full health, too. And while Blaenavon may still be a young band in the technical sense, they’ve been in this game long enough to know when the going’s good.
“A first record is a bold statement.” Ben Gregory “When we disappeared for two years, we were so young and we just wanted to make loads of music, so that when we came back it’d be fucking great. We didn’t realise we’d have to start again from scratch. That was kind of surprising,” concedes Ben, gathered in a typically Parisian bistro with the band ahead of the evening’s show. He’s talking about the group’s ‘downtime’ in 2014 and early ‘15, following a string of early hype-creating singles and subsequent media attention. “We never paid any mind to the structure of a career or anything like that,” he adds. It normally goes: stick a few tracks online; get a bit of buzz; put out some proper singles; get some more buzz; hurriedly rush an album out to capitalise on the buzz; either become the next Muse or, more likely, find yourself struggling by album two.
Blaenavon, however, got to stage four at the tender age of 18 and then decided to bide their time. “We had to finish college, get our shit together and make sure the debut album we were gonna put out would be actually brilliant rather than an album that could have been good if we’d spent more time on it,” explains the singer. “We spent time on us as a band as well, making us the best band we can be, just getting all of it together and becoming a powerhouse,” adds bassist Frank with a wry smile. So that’s what they did. And then in late 2015 they re-emerged with the ‘Miss World’ EP, a significant enough leap forward to reignite the embers of success they’d previously garnered. And they toured. And they toured a bit more and dished up the ‘Let’s Pray’ EP – another step forward. All of a sudden their early, youthful forays into the music world seemed just that: a test run for the, well, for the “powerhouse” that they were slowly becoming. Because while Frank’s statement may have been in jest, and each of the band members are wont to crack out similar tongue-in-cheek one-liners at any given point (Ben: “I wanna be that guy on a massive ass stage with stupid fucking lights behind where I don’t even have to play guitar, I just walk around and people think I’m god”), truth is that Blaenavon are a band with ambitions of that size.
agree. But, tense as he may be while discussing it, the singer’s unusual turn of phrase is one of the band’s most enticing qualities. Not for them are “horsemeat burgers / committing murders” couplets. “I was reading a load of Evelyn Waugh, particularly ‘Decline and Fall’ which is the funniest, most absurd book ever, around the time I was writing ‘Orthodox Man’. I realised that just because it’s
‘That’s Your Lot’ marks Blaenavon out as truly special songwriters, capable of crafting intricate, intoxicating worlds as well as radio-friendly earworms. Cribbed from the last half decade
together and recorded in Cambridge, “in this industrial estate next to a fruit and veg distributor,” its collection of tracks may span from across their time so far, but don’t think they’re less than considered. “We had to be really deliberate with how we could make it a proper, complete record instead of a collection of songs we’d written over five years,” explains Ben. “Some of it had gotten a bit too self-deprecating and I wanted to have a bit of fun, so we made sure ‘Orthodox Man’ and ‘Let’s Pray’ were on there. It’s important to show we’re all sensitive guys, but you don’t want someone to wallow with you for 59 minutes...” Ben, you sense, perpetually exists in a limbo between these two things. Of embodying the troubled, Morrissey-esque doomed hero in all its verbose glory - and then beating himself up about the very same thing. Getting the lyricist to talk about his craft is like putting a puppy in a torture chamber and by the end of this conversation, he’s managed to stress-shred a pink carnation lying on the table into tiny shrivelled pieces. Inadvertently appropriate imagery, you’ll
a comedy, it still makes me feel things. I wanted to see if I could make music that was funny but people still cared about it,” he explains of the recent single’s twisted tale of romantic obedience. “And [German author] Herman Hesse has this effortless turn of phrase that I wanted to echo,” he continues. “His writing has these dark, twisted, shocking elements. There are some quite graphic things on the record.” From the nihilistic musings that run throughout ‘Let’s Pray’ – musically the album’s jauntiest moment – to the brooding paranoia of ‘My Bark Is Your Bite’, shot over needling guitar lines, ‘That’s Your Lot’ runs the gamut of self-lacerating emotions but never caves under the weight of them. ‘Lonely Side’ has the kind of mellifluous groove that wouldn’t be out of place on Foals’ ‘Holy Fire’, while old favourite ‘Prague’
is a throat-ripping, moshpitstarting anthem. ‘Let Me See What Happens Next’’s delicate atmospherics are as fragile as anything The Antlers have put their name to, whereas ‘I Will Be The World’ is wired and raging, distilling all their emotion into one punctuated, determined shot. Collectively it’s an album not to be taken lightly – in its reach, its ambition or its sheer determination to push every element to the nth degree. It is, as the trio attest, 100% an album that they could not have produced had they attempted it first time round. “We weren’t happy to make an album until we’d learnt how to say what we wanted to say,” says Frank. “It would have been a flash in the pan: ‘four 16 year olds put out a bright indie record’ and then everyone gets bored pretty quickly,” agrees Ben. “But a first record is a bold statement and we needed to work out how to say it properly.” Five years on and having played the game their own way, ‘That’s Your Lot’ is a special record from a band who know exactly what they want to say and how they want to say it. In a couple of hours they’ll be back on stage and then back in the van towards the next city, but you get the sense that some altogether more seismic things may be happening for them very soon. “We’ve done the hard bit which is making an album that all of us think is amazing, so now all we can do is go out and play it to as many people as possible and hope they think it’s as good as we do,” shrugs Ben. That bit? It should be easy as anything. Blaenavon’s debut album ‘That’s Your Lot’ is out on 7th April via Transgressive. DIY
All The Worldâ€™s
A Stage 56 diymag.com
Returning with boldly ambitious third record ‘Pure Comedy’, Father John Misty has ditched the romance and made a timely, observational classic. But you try getting him to believe that. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Phil Smithies.
n the last five years, this whole experience has, in a lot of ways, turned me into a person I don’t recognise anymore,” says Josh Tillman, fidgeting with a packet of cigarettes and sipping a coffee. “I used to talk so much more freely, and I just feel so self-conscious now. Fortunately in my music I can still say what I want to say because that’s a true place for me, but now I second guess everything and I’m very anxious about the whole thing.” It’s 10 days since the singer dropped ‘Pure Comedy’ – the first taster and title track from his forthcoming third album. And if the record finds the public face of Father John Misty in the most opinionated, eloquent and astute form of his career, then Josh, the man behind the moniker, is having a more troublesome time of it. “I was just looking online, making that mistake. I know it’s silly,” he concedes. “But the perception is that this whole thing and my whole life is some kind of disingenuous schtick. I mean, well, why even do this [if that was the case]?! I’m a human and I’m an artist and I was so proud of this record and then I just realised how tone deaf I am in terms of what people would like to hear from me. I realised I made a huge misstep by thinking I could talk about the world...”
In case you haven’t clocked the memo yet, ‘Pure Comedy’ is, on paper at least, a very different record from the luscious, loved-up theatre that characterised breakthrough 2015 LP ‘I Love You, Honeybear’. While the wry lyrical voice known to pepper the most windswept of love songs with references to depression and schizophrenia remains, this time he’s turning the lens outwards. “I’m acutely aware of the fact that the questions that inform my music are really cliche,” he laughs. “The last album was like, ‘What is love?’ And this album is like, ‘What is life? Who are we?’” In for the big game it may be, but what ‘Pure Comedy’ most certainly isn’t, however, is a misstep. Despite being written back in 2015, Father John Misty’s third is an almost unnervingly prescient reflection of the modern world in 2017. “When I wrote ‘Pure Comedy’, I figured Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton or someone was going to be President. That song became very literal overnight,” he notes. “A recurring theme on the album is that we don’t know anything. However sophisticated we think we are now, in 100 years people are going to look at us and laugh. We’re just idiots with toys.” It’s a comment that finds immediate reference in ‘Total Entertainment Forever’’s opening line: “Bedding Taylor Swift, every night inside the Oculus Rift.” Surely someone as smart as Josh must know the grimly predictable controversy a line like that is bound to create? “It’s terrifying thinking about that song coming out because I know it’s going to be a total shit show, a total fucking shit show,” he agrees. “And that line is clearly not about me having sex with her, it’s
saying where the technology is going: it’s going to be used for porn just like the internet. But it’ll probably be the only thing that people talk about with the record. With me, once I get to the precipice, I have to jump off. I can’t resist,” he continues. “I don’t have self-control when it comes to these things. Like well, nothing else rhymes with Oculus Rift... But I know how it’s gonna go, and it’s gonna fucking suck.” It’s just one example of how his semi-recent ascent into the public domain has forced him into a limbo of hyper self-awareness. Do you concede and censor yourself for an easier life? Well, sometimes, yes. Last September, when the singer deleted his social
much into the music and I guess I underestimated how seriously people take goofing around on the internet. There’s a level of animosity that’s depressing, that I’m shitty as a person. It’s disheartening on a human level.” But if the painful awareness of outside judgement has started to filter into his general psyche, then thankfully his creative brain remains untainted. ‘Pure Comedy’ is both fragile and confrontational, informed simultaneously by a childhood raised in the fire and brimstone extremity of religious devotion and his inherent belief that “life is a fucking joke”. “I grew up being told that none of this was real. That the world was
“A recurring theme on the album is that we don’t know anything.” media accounts, the story went as viral as the jokey, deadpan pictures that he formerly filled them with. “I always wanted to just portray myself honestly and my sense of humour is who I am. You can be someone who deeply, deeply cares about their music but also doesn’t take themselves too seriously and is able to joke around,” he begins. “But it feels like in the very binary world of internet outrage, those two are completely incompatible. I put so
gonna be engulfed with flames,” he laughs, speaking of his Evangelical Christian upbringing in Maryland. “I used to get days off school for the end of the world because someone would make a prophecy. I’d have demons exorcised out of me every Friday – that kind of crazy shit! The phrase ‘pure comedy’ – some people are gonna look at that and think ‘what a completely condescending, soulless, cruel assessment of humanity’. But another
perspective on it is realising that it’s comedy that liberates us. That we have to acknowledge our insignificance and the humour in how important we think we are; that’s the only way to be free.” And there’s the rub. Though ‘Pure Comedy’ is unquestionably an album with a clear narrative voice, from ‘Ballad Of The Dying Man’’s character study of a man still consumed with his online relevance until his last breath to the dead-eyed technology consumption of ‘The Memo’, it’s not a lofty or condescending record. From lyrics about choking on candy as a child and thinking he was going to die to the chirpy strains of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Little Lies’, to acknowledging his own album’s propensity for failure, ‘Pure Comedy’ is either a stroke of genius, commercial suicide or somewhere between the two. “If you’re going to make an album about humans then you need a real portrait of a human being at the centre of it, and I don’t know anyone better than I know myself,” he says. Heading into a year that will see him headline his first major UK festival (September’s End of the Road) and release ‘Pure Comedy’ to a world awaiting his every move, Josh is still doubtful. This, he feels, could be the pinnacle. “If I’m going to continue to make the music I want to make and to challenge myself, then it’s not gonna get bigger from here,” he says. “I have to be OK with that. This album is clearly not a bid for mainstream success.” Astute as he may be, you sense he might be pleasingly, deservedly wrong about that one. Father John Misty’s new album ‘Pure Comedy’ is out on 7th April via Bella Union. DIY
PUT YOUR LIGHTERS UP A chance meeting thanks to a missing lighter brought Diet Cig together. Two years on they’ve finished cooking up their debut; with a few bags of cake mix coming a cropper along the way. Words: El Hunt. Photos: Emma Swann.
I “Sometimes you just feel like shouting your feelings.” Alex Luciano
t turns out that Alex Luciano’s infamous high-kick isn’t just impressive; it’s also havocwreaking. After holing up for a month in their home town of New Paltz, in upstate New York, in a studio filled with cats and freshly baked brownies, Diet Cig emerged the other side in the early hours of Halloween, with debut album ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ finally finished. Knackered, triumphant, and slightly dazed from the whole experience, the pair headed to the supermarket to celebrate, and caused quite the ruckus with a poorly judged leap. “We decided we were gonna make a cake,” Noah Bowman starts. “Alex likes to bake a lot, and we went to the grocery store at 2am to get cake mix. Alex was jumping around with it in her hands...” he goes on, slightly wearily, “and it went flying all over the store.” “It was so bad!” Alex yells, cutting in. “In that moment I had realised, oh my god, we did this! We finished! I had this bag of cake mix in my hand and I was punching the air running down the aisles,” she recounts, “and when I got down to the end, it just exploded.” “I think it was a gluten-free Funfetti...” she adds, mourning the fateful cake that never was. “We’ve been on a real big gluten-free treat kick.” Who can blame Diet Cig for a bit of - albeit accidental - chaos-causing? After wrapping up their lone ‘Over Easy’ EP three years ago, on their favoured finish date of - you guessed
it! - Halloween, Alex and Noah are chomping at the bit to unleash their first album proper. “I’m so excited to give people a proper, longer experience,” Alex concurs, “and give back to the people who’ve been waiting so patiently and kindly for our music.” “Let’s just do the damn thing!” exclaims Noah. Hurtling towards debut land, Diet Cig approached the whole thing with one clear goal. Take one cursory glance down the track list for ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ and the unfamiliar song titles leap out immediately. A few firm live staples - ‘Tummy Ache’ among them - make the cut, but this is a big surprise bundle of brand new territory. Beefier, wittier, sharper, and bigger than anything they’ve done previously, it’s the sound of a band making massive strides, and searing with confidence. “We just wanted to make it really dynamic,’ says Alex, “where we could go small, and make it really big at the end; go up and down.” “We wrote those songs what feels like so long ago,” she points out, speaking about the likes of ‘Dinner Date’ and ‘Harvard’. “I didn’t wanna give them the same songs again,” Noah agrees. “I wanted to come out fresh and new.” Beyond wanting the album itself to be jam-packed with brand new glittery nuggets, the pair were also keen to build on the foundations of their empowering first steps. For starters, Alex kicks things off with this record’s most razor-sharp moment of wit. “When I was sixteen,
I dated a boy with my own name,” she starts atop melancholy strums, laying the tale’s foundations. “It was weird in the back of his truck, moaning my own name while trying to fuck.” Touché. ‘Barf Day’ – the tragicomic tale of a deserted 21st party – sees an outraged, and slightly stroppy Alex declaring “I just wanna have ice cream on my birthday” atop fuzzing guitar crashes. Time and time again, ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ turns bullshit into bad-assery, and makes pure fun out of misfortune. “I guess a lot of the stuff is super dramatic...” says Alex, “but I think those feelings are real. Sometimes you just feel like shouting your feelings. You don’t want to be told you’re being crazy. Just because you’re telling your feelings, it doesn’t mean you’re being whiny or bratty. And this record is about being like, ‘fuck that, I’m going to tell you my feelings, and they’re valid’. I hope this record can tell other people their feelings are valid too.” “I really like ‘Link in Bio,’” she ponders, “where I say ‘don’t tell me to calm down’. I feel like it’s really important. Women and femme folk are told all the time that if they have emotions, or if they’re freaking out or being really mad, or sad, or expressing themselves in any way, they’re told just calm down, you’re being dramatic,” she concludes. “I was sick of being told ‘calm down’.” Leaving behind the brilliantly barbed, if a little insular, EP standout ‘Scene Sick’ – which deals in gripes with appearance-besotted musicians around New Paltz – ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ widens the scope. The glitter-glue covered video for ‘Tummy Ache’ sees Noah and Alex throwing a placard-making party ‘round their place, drawing visual attention to vital American movements and organisations – from Black Lives Matter and the ACLU, to Planned Parenthood and Trans Lives Matter – in the process. Meanwhile, close pals and vocal activists PWR BTTM make a cameo, too, along with attendees of various Girls Rock camps in the US. The band also have plans to invite several bands from the camps – which host music-based summer schools for aspiring young female
musicians - to support them on their American tour. “Not everyone has the microphone we have,” Alex points out. “It’s great we can show solidarity with those causes. I think that’s a really important example to set,” she adds, “especially if you have people listening to your art. It’s radical as fuck to do stuff, and donate. It’s radical and cool to care about stuff.” “A lot of kids who felt marginalised growing up are now making incredible music,” she continues, reflecting on the growing wave of bands who – like Diet Cig – are shouting loud in backing the things they believe in. “A lot of it is us wanting to show our listeners we stand with them and we have their backs, and it’s more than just us just playing music and hoping they’ll buy it. It’s like a community. We’re trying to fill that community, and offer kindness.” Looking ahead, Diet Cig are bursting with excitement around their debut, and have a whole bunch of plans to build on the incredible standards set by their pink bomber jacket merch line - “you ain’t seen nothing yet,” challenges Noah. They’re also a little wary of particularly devoted fans trying to recreate one of their career’s iconic moments later this year, during their flat-out run of live shows. “No, oh my god!” a horrified Alex exclaims, faced with the possibility that it’s only a matter of time before somebody asks her for a symbolic lighter; mid-way through a show. It’s how her and Noah met by chance at a gig, after all, back when Alex was in need of a ciggie spark. “I feel like that’s the most rude thing ever!” she protests, with the gift of hindsight on her side. “I’m really grateful Noah was so gracious, because if someone did that, I would hit them! Noah was just in town for the one night,” she justifies. “I kind of think if we didn’t meet that one night, we might have not done at all.” “We’re waiting for that day,” states a well-prepared Noah, “and we’re just gonna slap it out of their hands!” Diet Cig’s debut album ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ is out on 7th April via Frenchkiss Records. DIY
BAKED We always knew Diet Cig could write a cracking song. It turns out they – particularly Alex – can bake a mean cake, and all. Their debut album wouldn’t be here today (maybe) without chocolate brownies. So, how did this cake obsession come about? Alex: We’d stay up all night recording, and baking was a good fun excuse to take a breather and make some brownies, and hang out in the kitchen for a little bit. Noah: Get that sugar-high before going back in the studio! Alex: It kind of turned into this ritual. I don’t think I’ve eaten that many brownies in my life before. Roughly how many brownies, dare I ask...? Alex: Oh god. We probably baked at least 15 trays of brownies throughout the whole [month long!] recording. Every other day. But every day there were brownies to eat. So maybe three brownies a day. It was too many brownies!! But they were so good! Our record is fuelled by them. Are you off brownies for life now, or do you reckon you’ll live off them on tour, too? Alex: We need an Easy-Bake oven in the van, that should be on our rider. Specially baked brownies for every show. Noah: Oh god. I don’t feel like I could do that many before a show.
“I wanted to come out fresh and new.” Noah Bowman
illustration: EVA BOWAN
BLAENAVON That’s Your Lot (Transgressive)
wans’, the second to last song on ‘That’s Your Lot’ was written when Ben Gregory was 16. Just having celebrated his 21st, Blaenavon’s eventual debut embodies everything about the five years since, the most formative of the Hampshire trio’s lives.
‘That’s Your Lot’ is long. It’s seconds away from breaking the hour mark, in fact. This indulgence can be afforded in this instance - it’s a record that’s taken a heck of a long time, and is impeccably considered and thought through as a result. The album shows a band of two sides - the huge, hook-laden singles ‘Let’s Pray’ and ‘Orthodox Man’ float their way into the creepy, complex ‘Ode To Joe’ and the heartbreaking ‘Let Me See What Happens Next’ with frightening confidence, the band so assured about every twist and turn the album takes that it works.
A HUGE, RICH, BRILLIANT DOCUMENTATION OF YOUTH. In their singles, Blaenavon have taken leads from every band they grew up listening to. The intricate playfulness of The Maccabees and Bombay Bicycle Club is in the fabric of ‘Prague ‘99’ and ‘Orthodox Man’, all while creating a world of their own. There’s little doubt Blaenavon will be held in similar regard to their predecessors in the near future. ”I can’t throw away the reminders of those brilliant days / a stamp, a receipt, if it feels like it keeps you here,” Ben sings at the album’s crushing finale, and though Blaenavon can’t cling onto the five years that are poured into ‘That’s Your Lot’ anymore, they’ve created a huge, rich, brilliant documentation of youth, one which will last for years. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Orthodox Man’, ‘Alice Come Home’
TRACKLISTING. Take Care Let’s Pray Orthodox Man My Bark Is Your Bite Lonely Side. Let Me See What Happens Next. Alice Come Home. .Ode to Joe. I Will Be the World Prague ‘99. Swans. That’s Your Lot. 65
A FIRE DEBUT.
THE BIG MOON
Love In The 4th Dimension (Fiction)
In the past The Big Moon have compared their debut album to a roast dinner; a fairly spot-on culinary comparison, as things go. There’s a reason why roasts only come along every odd Sunday. The spuds alone are tricky little blighters to nail, let alone a whole blimmin’ plate-full. ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ is the kind of musical roast that would have Nigella beaming with pride. There’s plenty of skill going on at the heart of every immediately bite-worthy song. And as it turns out, tracks like ‘Zeds’ – charged with the kind of winky-face innuendo that forms the foundations of old Nige’s cookery empire – would probably get a keenly stamped seal of approval, and all. By now, the likes of ‘Sucker’ and ‘The Road’ feel like the sort of songs which’ll stick around for life. They remain blazing beasts, but there’s plenty more of that ilk to be found here. The smouldering heart of ‘Love In the 4th Dimension’ arrives in the orange-licked shape of ‘Bonfire’; an almighty flame-singed anthem obsessed pursuing the secrets of fire-starting to escape boredom. “Show me how your fingers got in all those pies, I’ll never go away,” urges Jules Jackson, presumably hammering down the doors to The 4th Dimension and letting loose wolf-like howls. On all the evidence here, The Big Moon have succeeded in unearthing the secret to a fire debut. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Zeds’, ‘Bonfire’
THE MAGIC GANG EP Three (YALA!)
The Magic Gang have cruised their way into becoming one of Britain’s most effortlessly exciting new bands. ‘EP Three’ arrives as a reminder of their limitless potential. Anchored around single ‘How Can I Compete’, opener ‘Hotel Apathy’ and the quiet, contemplative ‘Life Without You’ present a different kind of Magic Gang, but one that’s every bit as compelling. While every step the band took up to this point was based around sugary choruses to be yelled from the depths of basement venues, ‘EP Three’ hints at a debut full-length that’s set to be significantly wider in scope. Keep on pulling those rabbits from hats, boys. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘How Can I Compete’
Q&A The Magic Gang spill on ‘EP Three’, new sounds and Olly Murs’ balance issues. Words: Emma Swann. Tell us about the EP. Kris Smith: It’s a bit different, it has a more mature vibe, it’s a more pensive version of ourselves, but is still very direct. It feels like we’ve touched a sound which has more ambition to it. It’s a lot more anthemic sounding. Jack: There’s a lot more going on in the arrangements, it sounds more like ‘a band’ in a way, you can hear what everyone’s playing. It’s more like the album will be than our previous EPs. Was that shift in sound a conscious decision, or a natural progression? Paeris Giles: With this EP we’ve been more ambitious, a bit more fearless, as opposed to being strictly under the command of a producer. Jack: We were more free to explore, now we’ve got more confidence, we know what we could try out. Kris: It’s the first time we’ve started to hit the same energy that we have live. And obviously your label boss is Felix White. Jack: For us to have that endorsement, it’s a huge, huge compliment. It’s quite exciting. Kris: It’s so surreal, especially as I was such a huge fan when I was younger. Jack: And obviously Felix was always my favourite member of The Maccabees. Paeris: When we were recording with Hugo [White, Felix’s brother and bandmate] there was a really, really weird moment when we were watching videos of Olly Murs falling over, all in hysterics, with Hugo from The Maccabees, we were just like ‘What the fuck is going on?’!
FUTURE ISLANDS The Far Field (4AD)
Over the past decade, Future Islands have been releasing synthladen reveries that explore the power in being emotionally open, raw, and changeable. ‘The Far Field’ picks up where 2014’s ‘Singles’ left off, moving between trauma and joy in the same breath. Opener ‘Aladdin’ fades in with a tinny drum beat and poppy synths, its lyrics preaching selfacceptance. This emotional current sweeps through the record, carried along by shimmering keys and dark, brooding bass lines. This is clearest on the heartfelt ‘Through the Roses’, which hones in human connection. While the lyrics might bare all, ‘The Far Field’ also layers up with moments of musical grandeur. The record’s next-to-last track ‘Shadows’ features a typically captivating vocal from Blondie’s Debbie Harry, as a Joy Division tinged bass riff roils along underneath. ‘Candles’, too, is studded with 80s-style glitz, its slow synth intro opening up into something cinematic and expansive. On ‘The Far Field’ Future Islands have captured their humanity in all its sparkling, chaotic glory. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Through The Roses’, ‘Shadows’ 67
eeee ALEXANDRA SAVIOR
Belladonna of Sadness
Working with one of the world’s most prominent musicians must be something of a poisoned chalice. Alexandra Savior credits Alex Turner with helping her make her lyrics more character-based, and the Arctic Monkey played guitars and bass on ‘Belladonna Of Sadness’, but he’s also become the focus of much of the attention around the record. What the album makes clear, though, is she’s far from his puppet or mouthpiece - there’s a magic to her voice and presence that feels too natural to be manipulated, sounding as if she’s from another time - one of dusky Old Hollywood glamour. Dry wit and effortless elegance run throughout, which makes cinematic, poetic wonderment out of eye rolls and humongous sighs. Songs like ‘Girlie’ swoon by on aching guitar lines and xylophone dings as the singer rues a character “always looking for a wilder ride” with equal levels of sorrow and disdain, while on ‘Audeline’, she’s insouciant and coy, only adding to the air of intrigue that makes her - and her alone - so enthralling. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Girlie’
If there’s one thing that’s consistent with Goldfrapp, it’s their inconsistency in style. Each of their records has walked a different path, and ‘Silver Eye’ is no different. If pulsing glitch-disco opener and lead single ‘Anymore’ didn’t tell you otherwise, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory are firmly back in electronic territory. As early as languid third track ‘Tigerman’ and its dreamy yet soaring synths, ‘Silver Eye’ reveals itself to be one of the pair’s most cosmic voyages to date. Instead of entirely drifting off into the ether though, these more fragile moments are offset by danceable pop tracks. It’s in this void between electro-stompers and blissful ambience where Goldfrapp sound as if they’re at most at home, gliding amongst celestial bodies and creating beauty from otherworldliness. Will and Alison will probably shift gears again on their next album, but ‘Silver Eye’ is likely to become a standout record in their ever-morphing canon. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Tigerman,’ ‘Faux Suede Drifter’
PA CK ED
Swear I’m Good At This
WI TH WI T.
A lightning combustor that takes all of life’s slights, crumples them up, and spews out the whole bundle out the other side in an entirely more positive form, ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ is a debut which makes empowerment out of a heap of trash. While early moments like the notably absent ‘Scene Sick’ possessed some almighty venom, they were a little insular in scope; hung up on the Ivy League admissions and the superficiality of New Paltz’s rock circles. ‘Swear I’m Good At This,’ meanwhile, takes a wider view, to ace effect. The results are reaped most clearly in stand-outs like ‘Tummy Ache’ – a track which tries to find a voice “surrounded by all boys,” and winds up celebrating the importance of radical softness and femme folk representation in punk music. Thrashy and rolling gleefully around in its own melodrama, Diet Cig’s debut goes out to everyone who’s ever been told to “calm down” and wanted to scream in response; anyone who’s ever countered a bad situation with a middle finger and a super-serving of icecream on their birthday. Packed with wit, super-sharp songwriting, and charged with personality, ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ should probably be called ‘Swear I’m Fucking Ace At This’ instead for higher accuracy levels. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Link in Bio’, ‘Tummy Ache’
SPLASHH Waiting A Lifetime
(Cinematic Music Group)
It would have been easy for Splashh to have made the same album again. It also would have been totally OK for them do so; debut ‘Comfort’ oozes the kind of sun-kissed, easy-on-the-ears sound that’s as instantly satisfying now as it was three-and-a-half years ago. But why take the easy route? The positively mind-bending drum loops and fuzz-soaked guitars that propel opener ‘Rings’ are an immediate sign that they’ve stepped it up on LP2. ‘See Through’ proceeds sentimentally and almost lullaby-like, ‘Look Down to Turn Away’ induces an intense, six-minute synthy trance, and standout moment ‘Closer’ is surprisingly akin to Electronic’s ‘Getting Away With It’ going psychedelic – while the title track feels the most familiarly Splashh, only souped-up to the max. Bolder, brighter and better than ever, ‘Waiting A Lifetime’ is the sound of a band having fun being free. (Tom Hancock) LISTEN: ‘Closer’, ‘Rings’
Splashh talk, ahem, diving into their new record. Interview: Tom Hancock. So what’s been going on with Splashh these last few years? Toto Vivian: We finished touring the first album and Sasha was keen for a change. So he went to New York. Sasha Carlson: The last few years have hard because we haven’t had a label - and then we had a label and they didn’t want to do an album deal and stuff like that. We didn’t want to put out anything that seemed rushed. How did the approach to the ‘Waiting A Lifetime’ differ compared to ‘Comfort’? Toto: When we did the first album, the songs that we’d written at home just became the album, and we never in a million years thought that would ever happen. Sasha moving and then us taking a bit of time away from everything, it kind of plays in hand to us trying to find our songwriting and try and create something that develops and makes it a little more interesting to us. The sound of your debut would have been great for another record - did you ever consider that when making the new one? Toto: We definitely didn’t want that. I guess that’s why it’s taken so long, because sometimes it’s hard to really create something that you’re super proud of and that you believe is different. Nothing’s different these days - everyone’s going to draw influence from anything - [but] we’re really proud of it. We feel like we’ve created something that’s really honest to us, and hopefully everyone else likes it.
eee JOE GODDARD
(Greco-Roman / Domino)
On ‘Electric Lines’, Joe Goddard is determined to explore the historical connections that run through electronic music - a huge task to undertake in a record spanning just ten tracks. We get a blend of everything that’s touched him, from light ambient beats to glistening electro-pop, a blast of cosmic techno and even a trip through UK garage. The disco-stomper of ‘Home’, which comes across like Giorgio Moroder taking the helm of a brass-filled soul classic, is unashamedly retro but all the more charming for it. Things do get quite stodgy around the middle, where some slightly monotonous beats and melodies don’t reach the soaring highs of the start. Luckily, Hot Chip bandmate Alexis Taylor is on hand for the touching title track. He’s created an admittedly imperfect but nonetheless loving ode to some of the greatest milestones in electronic music. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Home’, ‘Electric Lines’
eeee LITTLE CUB Still Life
A portrait of modern life, ‘Still Life’ is a record of peaks and troughs. There are moments doused with cynicism, like on opener ‘Too Much Love’. “If I had to ask a personal question I’d probably ask what you wanted to drink,” Dominic deadpans over softly rippling synths. Elsewhere, ‘Death Of A Football Manager’ begins like a deflated take on Metronomy’s ‘The Look’ before defiantly growing in stature to a climactic end. ‘Television’ further proofs the trio’s knack for crafting slow-builders, rising from skeletal beginnings to a euphoric close, while single ‘Loveless’ shows they can do bangers from the off too. It’s also one of the album’s highest points - a glorious blend of if-you-don’t-move-you’redead rhythms and nagging hooks that’ll stay with you long after ‘Still Life’ has stopped spinning. Modern life might be rubbish, but Little Cub make things seem better. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Loveless’ 69
WILL JOSEPH COOK Sweet Dreamer (Atlantic)
From the bright blue sky and Technicolor slice of orange that adorns the sleeve of ‘Sweet Dreamer’ to its shimmering, kitchen-sink production values (there’s even time for some steel drums on ‘Plastic’), via literally calling a song ‘Beach’, the sheer amount of summer vibes oozing from Will Joseph Cook’s debut could furnish an entire Thomson Holidays catalogue. Probably. So far, so happy-go-lucky; ‘Girls Like Me’ nods a little towards the buoyant youthfulness of early Vampire Weekend, while ‘Alive’ brings to mind Passion Pit, or Darwin Deez. But, as the graveyard tales of ‘Treat Me Like A Lover’ or the soaring string-led ‘Hands’ suggest, there’s more than a smidgen of darkness lurking underneath. And, in fact it’s there closer ‘Waters Gone Cold’ lives, to spellbinding effect: channelling his inner Jeff Buckley, and leaving much of the studio sparkle behind, it’s a clear standout. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Waters Gone Cold’, ‘Take Me Dancing’
Crawl Space (Polydor)
‘Crawl Space’ is a confident and direct debut, threaded together by a craftily executed take on pop minimalism, and tempered by restraint and openness alike. Let’s not mess about, here; the control and poise in Tei Shi’s voice is unreal, gear-switching from ‘Say You Don’t’s reined in verse, to the screaming hook of the stalking, skittering ‘Justify’. A innovative, inventive joy, ‘Crawl Space’ is a bold first album from an artist likely to stick around for the long haul. Weathering the strange old territory of rediscovering her own identity after being so closely bonded to another person (“Are you god? You created me,” she asks on the smouldering ‘Your World’) and meticulously shaping her own artistry alike, Tei Shi was right to take her time; this is pure, shining gold. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Say You Don’t’, ‘How Far’
Q&A Tei Shi opens up about the meaning behind ‘Crawl Space’. Interview: Alim Kheraj.
You’ve mentioned that the album was about addressing your fears - what are they? Pursuing being an artist was the biggest fear for me.When I first started putting music out, I was just testing the waters and I didn’t expect it to lead to anything. Going into the album there was a turning point where I was realised that this is what I do now, and it’s real, and I want to do it in the best way I can. Some of the lyrics on the album are pretty bleak, like on ‘How Far’. Yeah… it comes from a pretty desperate place, I think. In relationships there comes a point where it becomes destructive and there’s a lot of resentment, and you try to change another person into what you want and need and vice versa. That’s what I was going through at the time and I was trying and trying to make it work, and that song came at a point where I think I was starting to accept the fact that it had come to the end of the road and there was no point trying any more. There’s also one on ‘Keep Running’ where you go “Time is so sad.” Why do you think that time is so sad? There are a lot of layers. I always feel like I always carry a heavy sense of nostalgia in my life, like there’s something missing and it’s in the past. When I wrote the song, I was drawn to the fact that time is this thing that is constantly escaping us, and there’s no way to hold or to get any kind of stability in. There’s something really sad about how tied we are to this thing that is fleeting and is so conceptual and abstract.
Visuals (Play It
Write In (Moshi Moshi)
Though 2014 debut ‘Weird Little Birthday’ had obvious roots in the offbeat charm of Pavement and the like, it was an album that beat to its own drum, lyrically meandering through tales of resenting Jesus for having the same birthday as you and the strange humour of naked, ill bodies in all their misfunctioning glory. While by no means abandoning this world view, (it’s fair to say there are still quirks on show), it makes the relative directness of much of follow up ‘Write In’ a whole new treat. While the likes of ‘Bigger Glass Less Full’ offer up more familiar kicks, it’s in the more classic songwriting of ‘Through Windows’ or ‘The Reel Starts Again’ that Happyness find a new lease of life. Both are proof that the most unexpected thing the band could do is to be traditional, but they pull it off with aplomb. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Through Windows’
Happyness’ new album is a bit like an unusual aeroplane meal, apparently. Interview: Jessica Goodman
What inspired you when you were writing? Benji: The world has been through a pretty turbulent eighteen months. That was all happening while we were making the album. I’m not trying to say it’s this big, sweeping, political album - it’s completely not. But I think we were there going ‘oh god, what’s happening?’ It was the nature of making a second album, combined with feeling a bit lost. Jon: The world was going through a lot of shit, but I can’t really think of a person I know who didn’t have a really tricky year personally as well. I think everyone started feeling a little kind of battered by it all. B: As a result of that, the album comes across as quite a hopeful album. On this record I think because of all the stuff that’s going on around us, we’ve slightly tried to do something a little more positive, perhaps. What was the recording studio for ‘Write In’ like? J: It was in a big old abandoned carpentry workshop. Ash: The downstairs was filled with second hand books, endlessly. Any time someone else was doing a take you’d just go downstairs and pick something out at random. There were some fantastic finds in there. How would you describe this record? B: Aeroplane meal on the way to the Great Barrier Reef.
Written while on the road, on seventh album ‘Visuals’, there’s a definite sense of Mew succeeding in capturing what frontman Jonas Bjerre refers to as a ‘creative peak’. It sees Mew injected with a vigour most often seen on debuts; a feeling of youthful exuberance manifest in the sugary stomp of ‘Candy Pieces All Smeared Out’, or the heady fizz of lead single ’85 Video’. The pervading feeling of the record is one of icy optimism, and as such, the occasional moments of warmth that punctuate the album are all the more effective. The frenetic funk of ‘Twist Quest’ for example, and its warm washes of brass provide some much needed respite from the otherwise glacial textures. Though ‘Visuals’ might well be Mew’s first record since the departure of founding member Bo Madsen, it’s a confident release from a seasoned band still harbouring the energies of youth. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ’85 Video’
KAREN ELSON Double Roses
Usually, a seven-year gap between a debut record and its follow-up would raise eyebrows aplenty, but in the case of Karen Elson, it’s not especially surprising - music isn’t her primary pursuit in life. Her musical ambitions have remained undimmed, though. The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney produced two tracks here, and other contributors include Laura Marling, Father John Misty and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes. And perhaps it’s turned out to be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, because ‘Double Roses’ feels weirdly half-baked - one minute she’s aiming for floaty folk on the likes of ‘Call Your Name’ and the meandering title track, and the next, things take a turn towards piano jazz. Karen is evidently a morethan-capable songwriter - ‘Wolf’ is an exercise in simmering drama with a pitch-perfect saxophone solo - but she hasn’t managed to effectively distill her many ideas into something that sounds cohesive. After seven years away, that feels like a bit of a let-down. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Wolf’ 71
eeee WILSEN I Go Missing In My Sleep
(Dalliance / Kobalt)
In its final form, ‘I Go Missing In My Sleep’ is big and bright, with melodic guitar lines sprinkled across. ‘Kitsilano’ trundles along with a quiet confidence, while ‘Light Between The Leaves’ is a folk song for early mornings. Despite the sheen, though, it’s clear that the album is born from a core of heavy emotions. Wilsen’s debut battles against the hardest of nights that turn into mornings, and comes out the other side feeling truly defiant. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Garden’
C O M I N G
The Age of Anxiety
If smasher of a newbie ‘I Bow Down’ is anything to go by, Hannah Rodgers’ debut is set to be a blistering whirlwind of post-punk rhythms. Get excited now.
This Old Dog
Old dog, new tricks, as Mac opted to write on acoustic guitar for the first time following his relocation to Los Angeles. We’re sure his old self hides within, mind.
On the basis of the tracks we’ve heard so far, Liv and Ben are shouting louder and prouder as ever, flipping a pop-punk finger to the bad’uns as they go.
Sincerely, Future Pollution
Just looking at some of the track titles on ‘Future Pollution’, it’s easy to conclude this is grubbier, dirtier, more overtly sociallyconscious album than the band’s usual fare: the unease of 2016 has spilled over into Timber Timbre’s music. Ironically, it’s also probably the band’s most chaotic output. The twinkling synths of opening track ‘Velvet Gloves & Spit’ are far removed from the sharp staccato melodies of ‘Grifting’. On the one hand this means that ‘Sincerely, Future Pollution’ is in some ways a perfect representation of our uncertain times, but it also makes the record an uncompromising listen. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Grifting’
Rock and Roll Bye Bye (Yonks)
Three years after their overly stylised debut ‘Manhattan’, ‘Rock’n’Roll Bye Bye’ shows Skaters have clearly relaxed their own parameters - with largely positive results. ‘Northern Soul’ is a free lovin’ jam that sounds like a lost Primal Scream offering, while the amusingly named ‘Clip Art Link 1 Bubbles’ is an interlude seemingly taken straight from the ‘Drive’ soundtrack. Even the more trad. Skaters offerings are still more nuanced second time round. There are a couple of clangers in there: ‘I’m Not A Punk’ is clunky and awkward, while ‘Respect The Hustle’’s love letter lyrics are far too obvious for its actually-rathergood, Massive Attack-y backing. Don’t say bye bye just yet though; by rights Skaters should be back to up the ante another step soon enough. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Northern Soul‘
eee TIMBER TIMBRE
Skaters’ Josh Hubbard tells us why New York still ain’t bringing them down... It’s been three years since you released influencing you, even when you’re not here.” your debut, what have you been up to in the interim? How has ‘Rock n Roll Bye Bye’ progressed Josh Hubbard: “Been livin’… NY has a way from your debut ‘Manhattan’? of making you forget who are you are “’Manhattan’ was a dart back in time for us as a sometimes, you have to make something (not concept, this record is sonically more fitting to money) in order to remember. I also went deaf who we are now or even [who we were] when after an accident at sea, had surgery and now we started the band. Life has a funny (not can hear again… That was a low and a high funny) way of repeating itself... We wanted to point.” make an NYC-centric Skaters Britpop record this time. I think we did.” Are Skaters still as in love with NYC as ever? “We’re deep/still in the relationship with NYC; Are you really turning your back on no immediate plans to break up with her. rock’n’roll? Just like a relationship with a human, it has its “Not RNR man… Never… We’re turning our moments. Just like any home, it has a way of back on Art.”
From DeeweE (Play It Again Sam)
Any synth anoraks out there will no doubt recognise the wealth of vintage equipment on ‘From Deewee’. And from these retro tones, they’ve managed to create something genuinely thrilling, whether it’s because of the sheer range of arpeggiated sounds used or the insertion of a meaty guitar riff. Sometimes, like on the opening of ‘Missing Wires’, completely frenetic live drums kick in and hit like a truck, while ‘The Singer Has Become A Deejay’ at times seems improvisational. Unfortunately, though, things get a little too mechanical in the middle. Still, when it hits, it’s easy to hear why Soulwax are hailed as such innovators. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘The Singer Has Become A Deejay’
eeee THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
Whiteout Conditions (Caroline / Collected Works)
There was a risk that The New Pornographers might come unmoored on ‘Whiteout Conditions’ - their first record since Dan Bejar left to focus full-time on Destroyer. A.C. Newman picks up the slack, penning every song; the result is an LP that superficially feels like a significant departure from 2014’s ‘Brill Bruisers’, but in practice isn’t a million miles away. It’s a consistently engaging and occasionally irresistible collection, carried off with the unmistakable assurance of old hands. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘We’ve Been Here Before’
eee NELLY FURTADO
The Ride (Nelstar Entertainment)
These days, Nelly Furtado feels less like a bird; though her new record ‘The Ride’ does amusingly feature a lyrical reference to flying away. That’s about where the similarities to her superglossy older material ends, mind. Ditching stardom for ceramics and working in a record store while on hiatus, and then teaming up with St Vincent’s go-to John Congleton for her return five years later, Nelly’s pure pop sounds gritty, punkier, and all together more interesting. An unexpected - if slightly patchy - goldmine. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Cold Hard Truth’
Missed the boat on the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Formation Look At The Powerful People
Cowbells at the ready! It’s bangers o’clock at the Ritson household, as Will, Matt and pals find a sound all of their own on their debut.
FATHER JOHN MISTY Pure Comedy
Where 2015’s superlative breakthrough LP ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ was a grand, theatrical ode to love itself, ‘Pure Comedy’ finds Josh turning his gaze outwards, to modern life in all its apocalyptic panic. Title track ‘Pure Comedy’’s biting, witty social commentary takes the orchestral decadence of ‘… Honeybear’ and kicks it up the ass with some home truths, while ‘Total Entertainment Forever’ continues in tongue-in-cheek fashion, opening with a line about having sex with Taylor Swift in a virtual reality simulator. Cautious, it is not. Even when he’s detailing the confused state of the modern man on ‘A Bigger Paper Bag’ or the cultural spoon-feeding of ‘The Memo’, his observations are so astute, so darkly funny that they make an album that could easily wind up preachy into a strange black comedy. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Pure Comedy‘, ‘Ballad of the Dying Man’
The Merseyside rabble take one giant leap up with their second full-length, adding heavy riffs to their already-prettyanthemic choruses.
The glittery Kettering lads are still as enamoured with the decade that taste forgot, but second outing ‘Volcano’ has them merging all that with a sound that’s all 2017. 73
Silver / Lead
‘Silver / Lead’ is a sharp, focused collection of songs. ‘This Time’ and ‘Brio’ have little to do with Wire’s post-punk roots. In fact, it’s difficult to describe it as a punk record at all - comparisons to everything from Blur, Ride and Pavement can comfortably be drawn throughout. An accomplished record from a band who continue to challenge their audience. (Dan Jeakins) LISTEN: ‘Short Elevated Period’
eee SAN FERMIN Belong
(Downtown / Interscope)
The opportunities that sit in front of Ellis Ludwig-Leone on ‘Belong’ serve to overwhelm him at points: there’s a melting pot of styles employed, but also a lack of streamlining, or singular focus. If album four sees them filtering through the bucketloads of promise on show here, there’s something really special on the horizon. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Cairo’
Risk To Exist (Daylighting / Cooking Vinyl)
Maximo Park have always been at their best when injecting a fun, zany kind of anarchy into their distinctive brand of indie-at-the-disco, bringing together pop, rock and dance sensibilities. No big surprise then that the strongest moment on ‘Risk To Exist’ ticks all those boxes. Right from the staccato drum intro, to the nostalgic Hammond Organ-style synth to Paul Smith’s ardent, winsome lyricism ‘The Reason I Am Here’ connects the dots between dark colonial shame of the past and the callous apathy of today. Harking back to their early roots, there’s even a megaphone moment during the middle eight before it’s all capped off by a crashing, percussive breakdown. It’s absolutely stunning. As a lyrical and moral experiment, ‘Risk To Exist’ is touching and does what it sets out to. But by going further than before with reflective songwriting but pairing it with largely toothless arrangements, Maximo Park have basically produced an album of admirable protest poetry with an incidentally musical backdrop. (Shefali Srivastava) LISTEN: ‘The Reason I Am Here’
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD WITH MAXIMO PARK’S DUNCAN LLOYD
Can you draw where you went to record ‘Risk To Exist’?
Five vocalists, ten tracks, two written and sung by each. Remarkably, ‘Volume 1’ sounds far more cohesive than that suggests; it’s very much an album in leader Eric Pulido’s image. The real intrigue comes from hearing the likes of Alex Kapranos and Jason Lytle in decidedly unfamiliar territory; Ben Bridwell’s contributions just sound like Band of Horses offcuts. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Fighting The World’
ee COLD WAR KIDS L.A. Divine
Four records removed from ‘Loyalty to Loyalty’, Cold War Kids’ latest sonic iteration is not yet a clean fit. There’s logic to what’s going on, but it still feels unnatural. Their best tracks were languid and loose, allowing singer Nathan Willett to reach into his unconventional falsetto. ‘L.A. Divine’ is simply too rigid for him to shine. (Grant Rindner) LISTEN: ‘Free To Breathe’ 74 diymag.com
What does ‘The Hero’ look like?
How do you feel when you finish an album?
On a scale of bold straight line to chaotic squiggle, what was the process like making this album?
Brixton Academy, London. Photos: Tim Easton.
With their record-breaking seven-night run at the south London venue, they’ve pulled out all of the stops to make this a week to remember. Film screenings, radio, club nights and guest appearances from the likes of Robyn, Savages’ Jehnny Beth, Sampha and Floating Points (to name but four) all feature on the self-curated Night & Day bill, merely scratching the surface of the spheres from which The xx draw. Two nights at the O2 Arena would have been a doddle, but here stand a band giving something more back to the city that shaped them. Right from the posters that flank the escalators up Brixton underground station, the sense that something special is happening in SW9 this week is palpable. When an early one-two of ‘Crystalised’ and ‘Islands’ sparks a mass sing-along, it’s clear that even the more tender offerings will incite euphoria. Romy’s solo rendition of ‘Performance’ proves a standout moment of reflection, but the overarching story of the night is altogether more upbeat. Old tracks are injected with all the vigour of the band’s new approach and the status of Jamie xx: the group’s unlikely star behind the decks. Later, souped-up versions of ‘Fiction’ and ‘Shelter’ sit perfectly in among ‘Dangerous’ and a ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ indebted take on ‘Chained’, before Jamie’s own ‘Loud Places’ is given the full band live production it so deserves. Thinking back again to the group’s early days, the idea of an encore led by techno beats and a sliced up Hall & Oates sample borders on absurd, but it’s a transformation that seems to suit them so naturally. It of course gives way to all the pop pomp of ‘On Hold’, before subsiding further for the ever-iconic two minutes that is ‘Intro’. Rapturous isn’t close to covering the applause that follows, a continuing and loudening wave of admiration that forces an overwhelmed Oliver Sim to gather himself before a final address. He speaks of the significance of Brixton Academy, perhaps only half-knowing the huge impression that he and his two mates from school are leaving on this historic venue. It’s a week that will live long in the memory of London from a band that provide its most universal soundtrack. (Liam McNeilly)
AN E-XX-TRAORDINARY WEEK
he Brixton Academy stage has seldom looked this dazzling. Decked out with a shimmering, chrome installation, it’s a backdrop that signifies the newfound splendour that emerged alongside this year’s ‘I See You’. The xx now cut a very different figure from the shy, downcast group that announced themselves with their eponymous debut in 2009, having quietly redefined what pop music can be across the eight years since.
RETURN OF THE MAC Another quiet and uneventful night in for Mac.
Nambucca, London. Photo: Carolina Faruolo.
laying sans band for a last-minute, ridiculously intimate show at revamped Holloway boozer Nambucca, Mac DeMarco has an important question for the adoring crowd: “After three, I want you all to guess which Beatle you think had the largest genitalia!” Swigging from a bottle of Patron, DeMarco is armed with nothing more than an electric guitar but manages to turn a stripped down set into a rowdy, 90-minute love-in. His appeal has always been as much about Mac The Person as Mac The Musician, and in a room where he can chat to and eyeball the front row, it’s
clear the Cult of DeMarco is going strong.
PIXX OF THE POPS
An early one-two-three of ‘The Stars Keep On Calling My Name’, ‘Salad Days’ and recent single ‘This Ol’ Dog’ kick off a set that never really lulls in quality or charm until the very end. In between gorgeous, slowed down renditions of ‘Annie’ and more recent track ‘Without Me’, someone yells out asking how Agnes is, before leading a repeated chant of her name. Agnes is Mac’s mum. If it’s a strange kind of intimacy on display here – people feel they really know Mac – then it’s one that the Canadian seems to relish, chatting to fans and getting them to guess what he had for lunch before crowdsurfing to the bar, downing a shot and then crowdsurfing back for an elongated sing-a-long of ‘Together’. Finally, the adoring throng reluctantly let Mac leave. It’s more like saying goodbye to a mate than to a wildly successful recording artist, but such is the beauty of DeMarco. That ol’ dog. (Lisa Wright)
Birthdays, London. Photo: Poppy Marriott.
ith her glitter-adorned eyelids, bleached-blonde pixie cut and metallic green genie pants, at times Pixx evokes the glamour of a 60s icon. But her presence is even more striking than her aesthetic; when she’s not fixing a brain-melting stare on you, she’s jerking her head at a rate that threatens to see her come unhinged. It’s all part of a persona that comes to life when performing her audacious new material. ‘A Big Cloud To Float On’ and ‘Everything Is Weird In America’ tower with seismic beats and webs of electronics, but it’s her low, broad register that reigns supreme. The set takes a turn for older material with folk-infused ‘Baboo’, but its wiry soundscapes float off into the stratosphere in comparison to the focused futuristic-pop of the opening bangers. But it’s the head-spinning synths, rallying guitar and commanding vocal of ‘I Bow Down’ that pushes the set to its peak. With Pixx’s booming echo of “I bow down to your good will,” still ringing in our ears, it feels like it should be the other way round. Welcome to the year of Pixx. (Lisa Henderson) 79
The Crofters Rights, Bristol. Photo: Nathan McLaren-Stewart.
here’s little warning as Estrons’ set starts with a crashing sound of noise, rattling the foundations of the back room of the pub they’re playing in. It sets the tone for the remainder of the set – loud, fierce and dominant. Frontwoman Tali Källström takes a moment to apologise to the crowd for not being her usual self due to a broken toe, still her performance is nothing short of intense, getting up in the face of fans at the front. The band play through some new tracks which hold potential, but it’s the old ones that shine. A crowd request of ‘Belfast’ is a favourite. It’s performed with the aid of a shot of mystery spirit; Tali disgustedly mouths “what the fuck was that?” after necking it. ‘Make A Man’ is a track that sounds great on record, but turns into sonic gold live. Estrons have a sound that easily fills a 200 capacity venue - and prove to Bristol tonight they’re bigger than that. (Nathan McLaren-Stewart)
WAKE UP, MAGGIE’S GOT SOMETHING TO SING TO YOU
SOUTH WEST-RONS “You paid how much on eBay for a ticket?!”
Omeara, London. Photo: Robin Pope.
here are shimmering pink stickers for sale on the way into Omeara tonight that read “I was at Maggie Rogers’ FIRST tour”. The truth is that no amount of cash or backing can manufacture what’s going on inside tonight - that’s all Maggie. Her live show belongs to an artist beyond her level too. In fact, bar the few times Maggie has to stop - the volume and enthusiasm with which the crowd are singing back the words to songs mere months old overwhelming her she doesn’t put a foot wrong.. Visibly having the time of her life, Maggie swaggers and bounces around the stage, her relentless energy never affecting her smooth, dexterous vocals. Highlights from her recent ‘Now That The Light Is Fading’ EP come alive; viral sensation ‘Alaska’’s understated, subtle chorus has more body and richness while ‘Dog Years’’ satisfyingly smooth flow is never once broken. As Maggie shouts out hiking buddies and transcontinental pals (and her parents) from her fluctuating position on stage and in among the crowd, there’s a sense of intimacy in this sold out, but still small, show that is unlikely to be achieved for much longer. The stickers are right, attendance at this first tour is likely to become a bragging right. If things continue, the next one will be a biggie. (Henry Boon)
TWINS PEAK IN LONDON.
Tegan and Sara
Roundhouse, London. Photo: Lindsay Melbourne
ver the course of an hour and a half at London’s Roundhouse, Tegan and Sara dole out infectious synth pop designed for catharsis. “Is anyone going through a breakup?” Tegan asks, midway through. “You two are? Did you break up with each other? Oh.” She dedicates ‘Shock to Your System’ to people struggling with the end of a relationship. Their backing band briefly step away, leaving Tegan and Sara to play a short acoustic set. It’s ‘Call It Off’ that resonates strongest. The murmured voices swell and fill the large room in a perfect tribute to the sense of community the two women onstage have worked to build. (Liam Konemann)
SPRING (KING) HAS SPRUNG.
The Bullingdon, Oxford. Photos: Tim Easton.
escheduled from its original October date due to Tarek Musa’s ill health, Spring King are back and better than ever, ready to take on a sold out Oxford Bullingdon. They power through a set full of tracks from debut ‘Tell Me If You Like To’, the energy bouncing back and forth between the band and the crowd, each time rising just a little bit more. Performances of ‘Who Are You’, ‘Mumma’, ‘City’ and ‘Detroit’ send the disco ball above the crowd swinging manically as crowd surfers throw themselves toward the stage. But, it’s the set closer that everyone’s been waiting (and shouting at any given opportunity) for. ‘Rectifier’ closes the set and with it induces a sense of relief, as all those who waited the four extra months to see the Manchester band finally relax. (Samantha Daly) 81
, we’ll pub quiz of sorts A big inter-band e by one. on es fav ur yo be grilling
It’s Your Round ! Campes inos Gareth Los .00 £5 st: Co . IPA Twin Drink: Falco Evil s, London Pub: Strongroom
Chosen subject: THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH The Beautiful South thave only had one UK Number One – what is it? A Little Time Correct. How many UK singles were released from the 1998 album ‘Quench’? OK... four. I can remember three and I figured there’s probably one more Correct: ‘Perfect 10’, ‘Dumb’, ‘How Long’s A Tear Take To Dry’, ‘The Table’. From the song ‘My Book’, fill in the missing lyric: “Diary entry ‘62 end of May, it looks as if the nose and [BLANK] are here to stay”
Ears, no? Wait, chin! Damn. Can I have half? You can have a half for chin, we suppose. The vast majority of Beautiful South songs are written by singer Paul Heaton and which other member? Dave Rotheray Correct. What year was the album ‘Blue Is The Colour’ released? 1990... 1998? 97? Fuck. Wrong, it was 1996. Score:
General Knowledge Which music awards Adele’s mega-hit LP were established in ‘21’ sold worldwide? 1996 by Kanya King Oh god, that’s the main and Andy Ruffell? one isn’t it. I’m going to say It’s not the Brits obviously, 23 million. The Beautiful i’ll go the MOBOs. South have sold 15 million Correct! records worldwide. That’s just a thing I know. In which American state Sadly you don’t get points was Madonna born? for that. ‘21’ has in fact sold I don’t know. I’m gonna a ridiculous 35 million. guess New York.
Nope, it was Michigan. In late 2012, a monkey was Which American comedy found wandering around a shop wearing a duffel series features the characters Donna Meagle, coat. What shop was he in? Ikea. The famed Wendy Haverford and IKEA monkey. Jean-Ralphio Saperstein? Of course, that is correct. Oh, it’s Parks and Recreation. Correct again. Score: To the nearest million, how many albums has
SCORE 6.5/10 Gareth and his gang may have managed ten years in the biz, but he can only do 6.5 in this quiz. Verdict: Beautiful-ish. Gareth had a lol-aminute time taking our quiz.
Prestatyn Pontins, North Wales, April 21-23, 2017 butthole surfers / SHIRLEY COLLINS / THE RESIDENTS jeff mills & tony allen / Craig Leon & Martin Rev OMAR SOULEYMAN / THIS IS NOT THIS HEAT / ULVER forest swords / OOIOO / ACTRESS / MICHAEL ROTHER / blanck mass richard dawson / GAIKA / ANNA MEREDITH / CHROME MARK ERNESTUS’ NDAGGA RHYTHM FORCE / demdike stare NURSE WITH WOUND / GROUPER / HIEROGLYPHIC BEING DOPPLEREFFEKT / ISLAM CHIPSY & EEK / karen gwyer Princess nokia / BRAINBOMBS / rezzett / warm digits the cosmic dead / basic rhythm / ATA KAK / CIRCLE horse lords / basic house / CARLA DAL FORNO / MOOR MOTHER asiq nargile / guttersnipe / cloud becomes your hand / zs
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