vant You Me At Six Sundara Karma MUNA set music free free / issue 59 / february 2017 diymag.com
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plUS 2017’s Most Exciting Albums ft. George Ezra, Royal Blood & Superfood
S P O T L I G H T
B R I G H T O N
D O M E
S H O W
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RAG’N’BONE MAN C O R E
P R O G R A M M E
A B AT T O I R B L U E S A L M A ANNA STRAKER BE CHARLOTTE B R IA N D E A DY CA B BAG E C A R Y S S E LV E Y C A S I C H E R R Y G L A Z E R R C R O OX D R O N E S C L U B E AT FA S T F I L B O R I VA G OAT G I R L GOLD CLASS GOTHIC TROPIC H A N N A H G E O R G A S G U R R HUSKY LOOPS IDER INDIGO HUSK JACQUES JAMES HERSEY JAMESZOO KL ANGSTOF L . A . SAL AMI L O W E L L M A R T H A G U N N M AT T M A E S O N MIDDLE KIDS MILES FROM KINSHASA M O S E S N I L Ü F E R YA N YA P L A I T U M P O T É R AY B L K S A I N T P H N X S A R AT H Y K O R WA R S H A M E S H E L L S S H ITKI D S IG R I D S KOT T S LØTFACE S O P H I E H U N G E R S T U R L A AT L A S THE AGE OF L .U. N . A THE MOON LANDINGZ TIGERTOWN YONAK A E AC H T I C K E T I S E XC H A N G E D F O R A F E ST I VA L W R I ST B A N D A L L O W I N G AC C E S S T O C O R E P R O G R A M M E V E N U E S S U B J E C T T O C A P A C I T Y.
T O A C C E S S T H E S P O T L I G H T S H O W S P U R C H A S E S E PA R AT E T I C K E T S O R H E A D T O O U R W E B S I T E F O R I N F O O N F R E E S P O T L I G H T S H O W T I C K E T S W I T H A F E ST I VA L W R I ST B A N D
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GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
Emma Swann Founding Editor GOOD The Hello 2017 gigs have so far been beyond immense. EVIL The number of bruises I’ve got on my legs through being rammed against the stage shooting them. .............................. El hunt Features Editor GOOD Dirty Projectors AND Laura Marling?! I am being spoilt for new albums! EVIL I’ll miss ya, George Michael. Such a pop legend. .............................. Louise Mason Art Director GOOD Girl Ray and Goat Girl and Girli and Girlpool and Girl Band and U.S. Girls. EVIL DIY HQ is moving away from the greatest fried egg
sandwich restaurant in London. ............................. sarah Jamieson Managing Editor GOOD Obviously our political climes aren’t all that great, but it’s incredibly inspiring to have so many artists speaking out about issues right now. EVIL The phrase ‘Brexit brows’. C’mon guys, we’re better than this. .............................. Eugenie Johnson Staff Writer GOOD Albums from Bonobo, Austra and Julie Byrne, plus seeing C Duncan again - who said January is a quiet time for music? EVIL Turning into an ice block watching Sunderland v Liverpool. Good result for the Black Cats though!
EDITOR’S LET TER By the time you read this, Donald Trump will be the President of the United States, Theresa May will still be banging on about Brexit and Boris Johnson will still, undoubtedly be talking bloody rubbish. But, never fear: it’s 2017, the past is behind us and the year is shaping up to be rather hopeful after all. That’s something our cover stars – the incredible Run The Jewels – want you to bear in mind. Hope, in whatever shape or form, is stronger than you might think. Elsewhere in this issue, DIY faves Sundara Karma and VANT dive into their debuts, Surrey rockers You Me At Six get ambitious and LA’s brightest new trio MUNA lead the charge (and think about starting a cult while they’re at it). There’s also a look at the most exciting records to expect this year, so expect to see plenty of your favourites’ faces! George Ezra, we’re looking at you... Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor
What’s been tickling the DIY team’s eardrums this month? Creeper - Eternity, In Your Arms (2017)
Ever since James Scythe “disappeared” back in August, there’s been quite the sense of mystery surrounding Creeper’s debut album. But its secrets are soon to be revealed and, well, let’s just say it’s bloody exciting. (SJ)
Sheer Mag - Compilation LP (2017) Brimming with garage rock of the most deliciously ferocious kind, the Philly gang’s ‘so far’ shows they’ve only just started. (ES) Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston (1985) This month I watched The Bodyguard at least three times, got tears all over my new ‘How Will I Know’ t-shirt as a result, and spun this album – the best debut ever, tbh – every single day. Whitney Houston is my greatest love of all. (EH)
C O N NEU T E FEATURES N T REVIEWS S
THIS IS HAPPENING!
6 GEORGE EZRA 1 2 R O YA L B L O O D 15 SUPERFOOD 1 6 S TA N D F O R SOMETHING TOUR 1 8 JÄG E R C U R TA I N CA L L 2 0 D I Y H A L L O F FA M E 2 4 F E S T I VA L S
28 SÄLEN 32 MAGGIE ROGERS 3 3 G I R L R AY 34 HELLO 2017
36 RUN THE JEWELS 4 4 VA N T 48 MUNA 5 2 YO U M E AT S I X 56 CLOUD NOTHINGS 60 SUNDARA KARMA
“We’re gonna need a bigger...chair.” 4 diymag.com
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor El Hunt Neu Editor Jamie Milton Staff Writer Eugenie Johnson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason DIY Live & Events Rhi Lee, Jack Clothier Contributors Alim Kheraj, Dan Jeakins, Danielle Wilson, Dave Beech, Geoff Nelson, Grant Rindner, Henry Boon, Jessica Goodman, Liam Konemann, Liam McNeilly, Lisa Wright, Matthew Davies, Rhian Daly, Ryan De Freitas, Samantha Daly, Tom Connick, Will Richards. Photographers Carolina Faruolo, Charlie Dobney, Drew Reynolds, Ed Miles, Ellen Offredy, Mike Massaro, Patrick Gunning, Phil Knott, Phoebe Fox, Pooneh Ghana, Rob Blackham, Robin Pope, Ryan Johnston, Sarah Louise Bennett, Sinéad Grainger.
For DIY editorial firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org tel: +44 (0)20 3632 3456 For DIY stockist enquiries email@example.com DIY is published by Sonic Media Group. All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of DIY. 25p where sold. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which Sonic Media Group holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of DIY or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally. Cover photo: Phil Knott
george ezra After some soul-searching, weeks of isolation and a trip to a nudist beach, George Ezra found the meaning behind his fun, uplifting new album. Words: Jamie Milton. Photos: Rob Blackham.
ollowing a Number One album and eighteen surreal months on the road, George Ezra did what anyone else would when handed their first chunk of free time in years. Jigsaws. Loads of jigsaws, actually. Cosied up in a Cornwall cottage as 2016 began, George ditched the songwriting chops for some puzzle muscle. “I did one and I was like… wow! I’ve got the bug,” he remembers twelve months on, thankfully steered off course from potential addiction. “The first one was a wildlife night and day desert scene. I’ve got a few friends locally who lived nearby and they dropped a few off from charity shops. That’s how I got my hands on them.” In fairness, if anyone deserved a bit of time to unwind and forget about the outside world, one mismatched piece of cardboard at a time, it was George. 2014 album ‘Wanted on Voyage’ had a shelf life barely any debuts are afforded. Just when it looked to be exiting the spotlight, it would get another boost, thanks to telly slots, an appearance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, and the unrelenting purchase power of mums nationwide. As the record stuck to the charts like a fly in a spider’s web, its accompanying tour never seemed to stop. There was always a reason to go back to the UK, to keep conquering the States and to visit a few unknown stops along the way. When things finally began to unwind, George decided to detach himself from reality, if only for a brief pause.
London pub in the middle of a bleak British winter. “I was sat down and it was one of those beaches where you get people selling you all sorts. I saw this end of the beach that looked emptier, and there were no vendors, so I thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll go over there’. Got there, laid my towel down, got down to my shorts, started reading my book. And I looked up, and realised I was on the nudist end of the beach! I was getting so many dirty looks, people going, ‘This is our turf.’” After some speedy acclimatising, George began to find a second home in the Catalonia capital. He took a notebook on his travels and walked around every day, “jotting down bits and bobs.” The more he wrote, the more he realised the material reflected his current state of mind. This was just as 2016 - a year few will remember fondly, let’s be honest - began to get very weird, bizarre in the sheer scale of crap it could chuck up. Like pretty much anyone at the time, George was at a crossroads between panicking at every fantastically apocalyptic headline, and needing to detach himself from things happening thousands of miles away. “Everyone’s entitled to have a weird year, whatever year. But it was so shared,” he says. “Terrible things happen, and I don’t think you should feel bad for wanting to separate yourself from those things. So a lot of what I ended up writing lyrically - it wasn’t me dealing with anything on a big scale. It wasn’t preachy. It was very much me talking to myself, saying, ‘Yeah, get away’.”
“I haven’t made a negative record. That’s the beautiful thing.”
It was in Barcelona, the subject of one of his debut’s best songs, that things began to piece together for a second record. Previous visits to the city had been short tourist trips, but this time he chose to hire an Airbnb, and spent a month getting to grips with the sunny spot. It didn’t start well. “The first two days, I thought, ‘I’m gonna go enjoy the beach,’” he says, huddled in a South
The resulting record, due this summer, is a “positive” outlook on time of torment. Not in a deluded ‘Everything’s great!’ way, more a personal tonic for dealing with strange times. “The thing to make clear is that I haven’t made a negative record. That’s
URS O TT C TY A E G FAIGH STR George, we can see your point.
Title: TBC Where: Voltaire Studio, Clapham, London Due: Summer 2017 Other deets: George officially won’t be ‘doing a Frank Ocean’ with this new album, despite trying his hand at woodwork. “I was just teaching myself a few bits. That was fun. Am I ever going to be a carpenter? No. I learnt that quickly.” 7
HAPPENING! the beautiful thing,” he insists. “It was me saying to myself, ‘It’s alright to feel this way. It’s alright to daydream.’ And because of the nature of the lyrics, it’s a fun record. That’s amazing for me. You have an idea of how you want things to sound, but often things can change. We’re halfway through the process at the moment, and it’s nice. Even when things go darker, it’s more of a hug in darkness.” As with the debut, George is recording with producer Cam Blackwood in his Clapham studio. He’s writing with former Athlete frontman Joel Pott (both teamed up on ‘Budapest’, ‘Barcelona’, ‘Blame It On Me’ and ‘Listen to the Man’ last time round). He’s partly opting for the “if it ain’t broke…” approach, but there’s also a sense of more magic being sourced from ‘Wanted on Voyage’’s sessions. “The studio’s a bit nicer than last time. So part of me wanted to make the most of that! I loved how the first record sounded. I was chuffed with it. I loved touring it. We only did 15 tunes together, I was sure there was unfinished business, stuff both me and Cam had learnt over two years that we wanted to try out. It would have been amazing to meet someone else and try something different. But it’s only the
second record.” Recording has reached its midway point, but the bulk of the songs were penned in a Norfolk cottage during another of George’s isolated trips away. “You could see a pig farm in the distance, but you couldn’t see another soul,” he says, of the ten day solo trip. “The whole point of going away by yourself is you do start to think differently. Purely through the lack of familiar faces and conversation. To do this cabin, in the middle of nowhere, was the extreme of that. And it worked.” Now, he’s itching to get back into the swing of things. It’s the first time since he was 14 that he’s gone over a year without playing a show, and the nerves are kicking in. But he feels lucky to be afforded time. “We were constantly catching up with ourselves on the last tour,” he says, due to his debut’s unexpected staying power. “Everything happened so fast… And I’ve wondered what I might have been doing if I wasn’t on the road. The fact is, I don’t know any different. And my life at home is no different - friend-wise and life-wise. So I don’t really worry about it. Probably missed out a few good parties? But you get over that.” DIY
“I looked up and realised, I was on the nudist end of the beach!” 8 diymag.com
The highlight of George’s debut run was a slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage in summer 2015. But he insists that wasn’t the peak of a surreal trip. “I’m not belittling it. I know it’s amazing,” he starts. “But I know it’s happening eight months before it happens, so it doesn’t feel weird. It would be fucking weird if I went from doing an open mic in Bristol and then someone said, ‘Next week you’re doing the Pyramid Stage!’”
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ith 2013’s ‘self-titled’, Paramore stole the rulebook, tore it up and danced while throwing around the pieces. It was an ambitious album that set the bar higher than ever and saw the band themselves taken on a completely new journey. Four years on they’re nearing the end of recording LP5 and – while there may have been challenges along the way – it’s set to be their finest yet.
“About a year ago, we began writing & demoing songs for #5,” Hayley Williams said in a recent update. “Following up our self-titled album didn’t seem like it was going to be an easy task and, unsurprisingly, it was not. The problem about comparing yourself to... yourself... is that even though it’s better than looking elsewhere, you’re still looking in the wrong direction. For me, it wasn’t until I trusted that the past is finished with me that I could go looking for what’s next. Our pasts can be a great comforter, or a horror movie; a noose, or a shield... but it is “past” for a reason.”
here’ve been many whispers about the next move from The Killers but, luckily for us, it was DIY that drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. decide to spill to. Sort of.
“We’ll see what happens,” he told us back in September, still staying a bit secretive. ”We’ve been working with different people and seeing how it feels, and we’re starting to work with another person now,” he hinted, adding, “I don’t know if we wanna reveal who that is.” Asked if he could give any early indication of the sound, he admitted, “it’s difficult, because when we get in there we come at it from one direction, and then it’ll go another direction! It’ll be surprising to us,” he explained, “and that’s sort of the fun part about it. That’s always been the way with our band.” Anything could happen, then. 10 diymag.com
ure, they’ve barely stopped since the release of ‘My Love Is Cool’ – but Wolf Alice are already back in the studio for LP2. At the end of last year, they began sharing bits and bobs on social media - a video here, a photo of Ellie recording some vocals there - along with the tantalising message, “we will be back next year with some new tunes.” We can’t bloody wait.
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queens of the stone age It’s official! Josh Homme and co will be releasing their follow up to 2013’s ‘… Like Clockwork’ this year.
ast year, the frontman revealed the band were “locked in” to record a new album, but didn’t reveal any further details. Now news of its release has been broken by Troy Sanders of Mastodon, who works with QOTSA’s Troy Van Leeuwen in rock supergroup Gone Is Gone. “Queens of the Stone, Mastodon and At the DriveIn have all been recording, and we all have new records coming out this year.” he said. “We’ve all been extremely busy writing and recording, and we’re about to get super busy touring the world. So I believe we’re all fulfilled to a certain degree with what we have going on.”
hing duo decided t constantly on the road, the Wort After a whirlwind few years spen then – and only then - dive and ng playi for on passi their to take stock , rediscover eh Ghana. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photo: Poon headfirst into album number two.
t’s no secret that the rise and rise of Royal Blood was, well, a bit ridiculous. After whipping up a storm on their tiny first headline tour all the way back in 2013, it wasn’t long before they were sharing stages with Foo Fighters, hanging out with members of Metallica and collecting BRIT Awards along the way; things really did hit fever pitch early on for the duo. Now it’s been three years since their earthshaker of a debut was released and the Worthing pair - bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher – have kept tight-lipped when it comes to details about its follow-up. Until now. But, despite the fact they may have set
up studio in the back of their tour bus along the way, one thing is for definite: it’s sure as hell not gonna be about touring. “Looking back we probably should’ve taken a bit more of a break!” Mike begins, thinking back to where the story of their next record began. “We literally got a flight in from America when we were last over there, and then went straight back into our little rehearsal space and started writing.” After spending so much time touring, it’s no surprise the duo found themselves returning to the place where it all began so quickly, but as they soon came to learn, there was more to be resolved before their second album could
“It’s what I imagine coming out of prison must be like!” - Mike Kerr
arcade fire The label asked for ‘more licks’.
begin to take shape. “It’s been a very long period for us to not be on the road, and quite a strange one too,” he laughs, explaining how things began to pan out. “After being on the road for three years, it’s what I imagine coming out of prison must be like! Just very bizarre. A lot of it was just about readjusting and finding normal life again because no one wants to hear songs about a tour bus! It was very much about getting back to real life again. I can assure you,” he confirms, “the record is not about touring.” As for taking stock of their achievements so far, returning home gave them a muchneeded chance to finally let them sink in. “It’s hard to be in the moment and take all of those things in when it’s going on, but as soon as it stopped, it was time to reflect. The moment we came off the road, it was like, ‘Shit, what was that all about?!’ You don’t really realise that until you stop. We allowed that time to reflect, but also to think about what we
wanted to do next, and why we wanted to do it. “Obviously, there’s no denying that we have some responsibility to our fans, and to the people who have invested in our music,” he continues, detailing the sense of pressure that can so easily creep in after success. “But, I think it always has to come down to why we’re doing it. We had to take ourselves back to why we started the band and why we made the first record; just for the enjoyment and the love of playing together. After playing the same ten songs for three years – and being three years older as a band – you change and your musical tastes develop and it’s an opportunity to dig deeper and to think about what we could do differently with what we’ve got. We’re a limited band by default, so it’s been about how do we make something better and something we can be proud of again. I would say we’ve grown up a lot and we’re one level up on our craft.”
It feels like we’ve been waiting ages for a ‘Reflektor’ follow-up but, as the band’s Jeremy Gara recently revealed, the wait may be over sooner than we think.
he Arcade Fire drummer is currently gearing up to release solo record ‘Limn’ this March, but he’s said that he has to put his own tour plans on hold because of his commitments to the ‘Fire. Intriguing. In a recent interview, he said “unfortunately, this is difficult, because Arcade Fire, for obvious reasons is a very important part of my plans.” He continued: “I don’t know where we’re going to play, I don’t know when we start, or when we finish. From my perspective, it looks like Arcade Fire starts in April and finish around April 2019.” Watch this space.
016 saw a flurry of activity from Annie Clark - from being spotted in the studio with Top Dawg Entertainment producer Sounwave, to designing her own range of super fancy guitars - via, let’s not forget, performing while dressed as an actual toilet. Now, she’s gone and confirmed that a new album is definitely in progress, and better still, it’s due this year. “I think it’ll be the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done,” she told Guitar World. “I feel the playing field is really open for creative people to do whatever you want, and that risk will be rewarded – especially now that we have such high stakes from a political and geopolitical standpoint.”
ack in June last year, Haim said they were hoping to release a second album - the follow-up to 2013’s ‘Days Are Gone’ - before the year was out. Those plans have since (obviously) changed, and the trio have set a new target of this summer. Danielle, Este, and Alana have been working with their go-to producer Ariel Rechtshaid, and former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij. Este claims LP2 will have a more organic feel, telling Entertainment Weekly: “I played a fretless five-string [bass], and I haven’t played a fretless five-string since I was a 12-year-old listening to Korn.” Alana added that the band wanted to keep things close to home, and they avoided collaborating with outsiders. “There’s three perfectionists in our band, and to add any more people would be too much of a party.” As for the album delay? Danielle covered that one: “These things take time, and we refuse to put out anything we’re not 100 percent in love with.”
new album from LCD Soundsystem was part of the deal when they returned back in early 2016, but as it stands, we’re still waiting. “We’re not just playing Coachella,” James Murphy wrote in their lengthy statement back in January last year. “We’re playing all over. We’re not just having some reunion tour. We’re releasing a record (sometime this year — still working on it, actually), so this isn’t a victory lap or anything, which wouldn’t be of much interest to us. This is just the bus full of substitute teachers back from their coffee break with new music.” As things stand, they’ve kept all of their other promises, so rest assured, a follow-up to ‘This Is Happening’ will be on its way soon. After all, it was what brought the band back together in the first place.
orde’s last birthday wasn’t only notable because it marked the end of her teenage years – she also used the occasion to give fans an update on what’s set to come next.
superfood It may seem like a while since we last heard from the Birmingham rabble and, well, that’s because it is! But never fear, they’re back, back!, BACK!! and 2017 is going to be their year. Frontman Dom Ganderton explains. Photo: Charlie Dobney. So, we’ve heard whispers that you’ve been working on a new record - what can you tell us?! I can tell you that our new album is completed and ready to be released to the world! How was it heading into the studio this time around? What did you want to explore during the process? Were there any particular challenges? It’s been fucking hard to be honest. To start with there was no studio, the record was started off in flats, parks, cars and rehearsal rooms. Me and Ryan [Malcolm, guitars] decided to write and record the whole thing alone with the help of various different players and engineers. We had no money, no label and wanted to give up several times. We set out to record songs that we wanted to listen to when we got back from a night out or just something we would genuinely go to and play on iTunes. It was a different kind of pressure than we have faced before we had no deadlines but knew that we had to create something that was going to really make
people stop and listen this time. Looking back on ‘Don’t Say That’, how do you think you’ve progressed from it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the album but it was all fucking rushed. We’d been signed for a short few months before we got bundled up to Lancashire for a fortnight to record the whole thing. I think songs like ‘Lily For Your Pad To Rest On’ and the interludes are what we have built on this time around. We were all very keen on the boozing side of things and kind of living in our own little bubble at the time and I think the recording might have suffered. We were writing music that didn’t draw directly from what we were listening to so it made it pretty hard for us to really get behind. Whether it was intentional or not we had a lot of time to write and record this album and have both gone through things during the process that have played a huge part in how it sounds. Superfood are appearing at Live At Leeds this year. Head to diymag.com for details.
Set for release in 2017, the record comes after what sounds like quite the eventful year, with her withdrawing from public life almost entirely and moving out to New York City. Nevertheless, the future sounds exciting - “Writing ‘Pure Heroine’ was my way of enshrining our teenage glory,” she explained, “putting it up in lights forever so that part of me never dies, and this record – well, this one is about what comes next. “I want nothing more than to spill my guts RIGHT NOW about the whole thing,” she wrote excitedly, “I want you to see the album cover, pore over the lyrics (the best I’ve written in my life), touch the merch, experience the live show. I can hardly stop myself from typing out the name. I just need to keep working a while longer to make it as good as it can be. You’ll have to hold on. The big day is not tomorrow, or even next month realistically, but soon. I know you understand.” Exciting times.
Praise the Lorde!
ns Stand For ver the last four years, the Dr. Marte taking all Something Tour has prided itself upon in intimate manner of artists and hosting them fans a chance venues all over the country, giving and personal. Yet, it’s to see their favourite bands up close 2016 leg - that’s the tour’s tonight’s show - the final gig of the the mighty You Me At crowning jewel so far. This evening, ago were playing arenas Six - a band who eighteen months play to a teensy, packedand headlining festivals - are set to en. Unsurprisingly, the out Dingwalls in the middle of Camd excitement is palpable. an impressive start to the First up, newcomers Dead! provide punk tendencies and night. Their sound comes tinged with injected throughout. there’s a youthful dose of attitude
into their new material. ht’s set offers fans a More than anything though, tonig in a venue this small: now-rare opportunit y to see the band opening number From ic. chaot are s result the unsurprisingly, g bodies, with movin of mass a is crowd the ‘Bite My Tongue’, surfers soon emerging mosh pits breaking out and crowd get more intense as over the tops of heads. Things only a cathartic anthem, while time goes by; ‘Room To Breathe’ is A Lie’ provide more ‘Reckless’, ‘Fresh Start Fever ’ and ’Lived r material - the likes of euphoric twists in their set. Their newe t People’ all get a look in ‘Give’, ‘Swear’ and title track ‘Nigh swagger of the songs really and feel the with sounds brilliant, amplified in such tiny surroundings.
les as guitarist Chris Throw in the fact that the night doub e is perfect. A ’ Miller ’s birthday and the atmospher ‘Chew UK t recen their from Fresh y, You Me At Six Then it’s time for the main event. balance of fun, intensity and energ nt brillia a t almos spent g Havin dominating a tiny tour, You Me At Six are on fine form. themselves more than capable of prove back return live their ght, . It’s safe to say that year and a half away from the spotli with the same attitude as an arena ise appearance at Reading room Something Tour is a in August - where they made a surpr closing show of this year’s Stand For the their of ngs worki inner a very lucky few. DIY of ories mem the in on & Leeds - offered a glimpse at the that will live provides a deeper insight night darker direction, but tonight’s show
STAND FOR SOMETHING TOUR STA ND FO R YO U ME AT SIX BR ING TH E MO RA BLE CL OS E ME A TO UR TO SO ME TH ING their chaotic The band are joined by Dead! for . Words: walls Ding en’s Camd at show tiny e Bennett. Sarah Jamieson. Photo: Sarah Louis
Hawk Eyes & The Computers offer a high octane ending to JÄGER CURTAIN CALL
The two bands were joined by Frauds for the pre-Christmas extravaganza. Photos: Patrick Gunning.
or the past twelve months, DIY and Jägermeister have teamed up with a bunch of new bands and headed down to Curtain Road in Shoreditch, all in the name of giving them a bit of a leg up. As part of Jäger Curtain Call, we’ve seen the likes of Birdskulls, Kagoule, TRAAMS and many more all take to stages on the East London road, and now, just ahead of Christmas, it’s time for the final show of 2016 at legendary boozer, The Old Blue Last. First up, the enticing Frauds take to the stage. Sludgy yet assertive, the London duo waste little time in whipping up a frenzy with their powerful sounds. Driven by the pummelling percussion of drummer Chris Francombe, they’re a two-piece that really know how to play to their strengths, while luring people in with their at-times strangeness. Hawk Eyes are a different beast; lean and muscular but still packing an almighty punch. Despite spending much of the last two years off the road, you’d barely realise it. Having built their name on their fiery live show, they’ve lost none of their potency in the time they’ve spent away. Technical, thunderous but still engaging, their set this evening comes packed with tracks from across their decade-long lifespan. It’s their newly-recorded track ‘When I Find Out’, however, that really stands as a highlight; slapped bang in the middle of their set, it stands as the perfect gateway between their eras old and new. If this one track signals anything for the Leeds
quartet, it’s that their next step could be their most interesting yet. Closing proceedings tonight, The Computers are as flamboyant and over the top as you could hope. Kicking things off with a rambunctious airing of ‘Weighed Down’, which comes accompanied with quite the zingy introduction from frontman Alex Kershaw, theirs is a set packed with ridiculousness and high-octane energy. And by the end of the evening it’s clear; their million-miles-aminute blitz of a stage show was the perfect way to draw this year’s leg of Jäger Curtain Call to a close. Keep your eyes peeled for news of Jäger Curtain Call 2017 announcements. DIY
HAVE HEARD? you
Laura Marling – ‘Wild Fire’
With recent single ‘Soothing’, Laura Marling moved into sparser instrumental territory to create a bold, attention-grabbing first taste of what to expect from ‘Semper Femina’. On new single ‘Wild Fire’, she’s moved swiftly back into alt-folk territory, but the results are no less arresting. Perhaps that’s because Laura has never seemed so confident in her songwriting, tackling identity and femininity through the lens of her relationship with an unspecified muse. On the surface it’s a tale of love and friendship, but scratch that surface a little and a deft examination of the gaze and perception is revealed. By turns vulnerable and confident, ‘Wild Fire’ might be one of Laura’s most thought-provoking and beautifully written tracks to date. (Eugenie Johnson)
The Big Moon – ‘Hold This’ “Save this holy mess,” announces Jules Jackson in the opening moments to ‘Hold This’ - throwing away the keys to the control booth, and fleeing an unspecified scene of total chaos never to be seen again. Luckily, she’s had second thoughts a verse later, and The Big Moon’s latest becomes an odd, squalling, musical entanglement instead, which wrestles with messy situations, and finds the answers by holding them together. Echoing the themes of A-side ‘Formidable’, ‘Hold This’ is a song that deals in darker and more complex lyrical themes. It’s a total banger, too. (El Hunt)
versatile band exploring yet more new territory. Sharpened no end, with angular, cutting lines, and diamond-saw melodies (not to mention a few wooee-woo chants, for good measure) this might just be the Hampshire lads’ most immediate moment to date. Orthodox, man? This is anything but. (El Hunt)
Diet Cig – ‘Tummy Ache’
Over the course of their modestly sized output thus far, Diet Cig have proven themselves as adept airers of bullshit; calling out wrongdoers and trash talkers with venomous precision. ‘Tummy Ache’ is a little different. The chords propel forward, but they’re grungier, and more down in the dumps. Alex’s latest subject Blaenavon – ‘Orthodox Man’ of disdain is a little less clear-cut, too, Though ‘Orthodox Man’ might come and her anger is vaguer, more anxious. packaged with a title that nods to tradition, convention, and keeping things “My stomach hurts,” she admits, “it’s hard to be a punk rocker in a skirt”. ordinary, it also sees the increasingly
Ultimately, though, ‘Tummy Ache’ battles through the boundaries, finds a voice, and prevails while shouting from the rooftops. (El Hunt)
Creeper – ‘Hiding With Boys’ Stepping out of the shadows, Creeper’s second hint at incoming debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is the foot-tothe-floor anthem they always hinted at crafting. A blast of Californian highway air, it’s the band’s hit-the-groundrunning moment. A line like “loving you is killing me” could be a tearjerker in any other Creeper track - in ‘Hiding With Boys’, though, it becomes a defiant note left on the bedside table before a life-changing escape. A skin-crisping ray of sunshine at a time of year when such things feel impossibly far away, ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ looks already set to be one of 2017’s most vital releases. (Tom Connick) 19
HAPPENING! THIS IS
DIY HALL FAME of
KLAXONS - MYTHS OF THE NEAR FUTURE
Glowsticks and dodgy neon-coloured clothing aside, Klaxons’ era-defining debut sounded like nothing that came before. Words: Lisa Wright.
here’s a now notorious BBC News interview, recorded the morning after Klaxons’ surprise Mercury Prize win for debut LP ‘Myths Of The Near Future’, which perfectly sums up the mad, drug-fuelled period in which the London nu-rave pioneers were the most exciting band in the country. In it, visibly spangled NME journalist Alex Miller is forced to chat to a bemused reporter after singer Jamie Reynolds is deemed too pissed to be allowed on TV. During the interview, Alex notes how brilliantly ludicrous it is that Klaxons had won, beating off competition from frontrunner Bat for Lashes and megastar Amy Winehouse among others. “I don’t really understand how they’ve become such an amazing band, but they have,” he states. “They should be the ultimate scenester cliche, they look like they’re all clothes and haircuts”. The excess, the silliness, the baffled squares; looking on in horror at the glitter-clad young men before them, representing things they would never want to understand. It was a perfect display of how utterly ridiculous it was that a band like Klaxons – a band so entrenched in pupil-dilating displays of ecstatic fun that they required a whole new adjective (MDMA-zing) to describe their escapades – had crossed into the mainstream. Because, even though Perez
Back in 2007, Mannequin Challenge wasn’t a thing. Mannequin hand, however... 20
Hilton is probably aware of keyboard player James Righton as Keira Knightley’s other half now, back then Klaxons were a technicolour splash on music’s stranger horizons and ‘Myths...’ was their manifesto.
the Facts Release: 29th January 2007 Stand-out tracks: ‘Golden Skans’, ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’, ‘Atlantis to Interzone’ Tell your mates: Pre-Klaxons, Simon Taylor worked in a call centre, and one of his favourite calls to date remains a chat he had with a lady who met Duncan from Blue.
From the opening, escalating rumble of drums that opened ‘Two Receivers’ – an aural representation that a new breed was coming over the horizon, to the “DJ!” sample in ‘Atlantis to Interzone,’ ‘Golden Skans’ earworm hook, nothing more than an “oooooooooh, ah-ah”, to their needling, euphoric rework of Grace’s 1995 dance hit ‘Not Over Yet’ – the 3am / 5am / midday (delete as applicable) soundtrack affirmation that the party was alive for as long as you wanted it to be. There are so many iconic moments on Klaxons’ debut, it doesn’t matter that it feels totally out of step in 2017: it felt out of step in 2007 too. After Klaxons had bust open nu-rave’s door, a rabble of bands followed (CSS, New Young Pony Club, Late of the Pier, Shitdisco, Hadouken), almost all of whom either imploded after their debut or struggled to follow its success (Klaxons included). But for a brief period they encapsulated a wide-eyed, curious, uninhibited antidote to the lad rock resurgence of The Enemy, The View et al that was happening around them. And ten years on, ‘Myths Of The Near Future’ is still as brilliantly bonkers as it was on first listen.
TICKETS AVAILABLE AT MYTICKET.CO.UK 21
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.
A very confused Hannah Diamond – in her pink puffer jacket, natch – wandering around Haggerston. Later spotted the following day outside DIY HQ, presumably still lost. Wolf Alice’s Ellie and Isaac from Slaves scaling the stairs to Shoreditch’s Boxpark. No doubt they
were in search of burrito-related inspirations for their respective bands’ new albums. Yer Da of Enter Shikari fame, storming through the east end while wearing a very fetching hat. The Maccabees’ Felix and Florence (sans the Machine) heading in to watch a Friday night film at a South London cinema.
Service Station of the Month DIET CIG:
Petro Stopping Center, Arizona
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.
e visited a pretty unforgettable rest stop in Arizona on our tour last year. We were too chicken (read: poor) to stay in Las Vegas after a show so we decided to drive until we found a place to sleep. Lo and behold, we come across Petro Stopping Center in the middle of the desert. Immediately to our right when we walked in was a fountain with a unicorn (no joke) sitting in it, garden gnomes and little fairies everywhere. It was 3am and this entrance mirrored how delirious we were feeling after driving all night. It was in that rest stop we found the iconic Guy Fieri Visor, and had our first van sleepover with everyone snuggled real close. In the morning we ate at the attached diner, Iron Skillet, and overheard trucker tales while scarfing down probably the worst breakfast buffet in the world. It was everything a truck stop should be and more.”
Isabel from Pumarosa perusing the undies section of Covent Garden M&S.
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.
Alex Lahey 20th February, The Old Blue Last, London Having released her debut EP ’B-Grade University’ last year, the Aussie singer is already making a name for herself. Now, with plans to support Tegan and Sara seeing her travelling to the UK, she’s also got a headline show in the infamous East London boozer scheduled.
Kevin Devine 3rd February, Tufnell Park Dome KevDev is no stranger to UK soil and he’ll be returning to our shores for a show in the capital this month. After releasing no fewer than nine(!) albums, he’ll be visiting to celebrate his latest full-length ‘Instigator’.
6th - 8th March, nationwide Just as Spring begins to rear its head, Californian trio LANY will be arriving on our shores and hopefully bringing some of their sunshine with them. They play Birmingham, Manchester and London this March. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource 22
HAPPENING! THIS IS
FESTIVALS It may still be freezing outside, but things are defo hotting up for the year’s biggest stages.
ROUNDHOUSE RISING 11th - 19th February
The full line-up is:
Swimming Girls, Calva Louise and Mick Jenkins are among the last acts to be announced for the nine-day extravaganza at the London venue. That’s with DIY faves VANT and Catholic Action already confirmed, alongside indie rapper Little Simz’ ‘Welcome to Wonderland: The Experience’, buzzy singer-songwriter Tom Grennan and a whole load of DJs.
FEBRUARY: 11 Catholic Action + Swimming Girls + Calva Louise 12 Urban Development presents Grime 2.0 12 Little Simz + Mick Jenkins 13 VANT + Tom Grennan + Zuzu + Isaiah Dreads 15 Edges + Maya Law & Allergy Kid + 4th Project + Abnormal Sleepz 16 Rising Sounds Album Launch 17 Rising Soundclash 19 Artist Toolkit Day 19 Sumochief + KOKOROKO + Awate + Roundhouse Music Collective
Q&A Catholic Action
The Glasgow noiseniks look ahead to their Roundhouse Rising gig, and spill about 2017 plans. Sort of. What’s new in the world of Catholic Action? Well, we finished recording our album and we’re pretty chuffed. We’ve grown up a lot. We have a new single coming out called ‘Doing Well’ and we’re touring the UK again in February. Also, we’re going to play our first shows in the USA in March at SXSW. My bags are already packed. And, Ryan is going to get a commemorative ‘L.U.V’ tattoo (apparently). The Roundhouse is a pretty legendary venue. Who would you have liked to have seen there in the past? It definitely is. When we played the
Roundhouse last year, we were told off by the engineer for sound checking with a Pink Floyd song. Hmmm. Bowie, Soft Machine, Hawkwind... the list goes on. Did you know The Beatles actually recorded in there too? What can people expect from your Roundhouse Rising set? Well, a nice new outfit and a smart haircut. My girlfriend took me shopping the other day. She didn’t like my socks. We’ve also been holed up in our rehearsal space, writing album two. So, expect some (lots of) new (and improved) music.
NEWS in Brief Sundara Karma, The Japanese House, Partybaby and The Big Moon are among just some of the latest acts to be added to a SXSW (10th - 19th March) bill that’s already boasting the likes of Pixx, Dream Wife, Sløtface and Menace Beach. Phoenix join the line up for this year’s NOS Alive (6th - 8th July), joining Alt-J, The xx, Foo Fighters, The Kills, Ryan Adams and Warpaint at the Lisbon bash. The 1975, Sundara Karma and Justice have been added to Bilbao BBK Live (6th - 8th July), alongside the previously-confirmed The Killers, Two Door Cinema Club, Phoenix and Depeche Mode.
WE’VE GOT THEIR NUMBER
Foals’ festival-headlining days are just beginning.
Catholic Action’s Men in Black reboot was off to a good start. 24
After last year’s ma-hoo-sive Reading & Leeds top spot, Foals’ festival domination is set to continue through to 2017, as they’re the first act confirmed for - and headliner - of Citadel. The event, last year featuring appearances from Sigur Rós and Caribou, returns to London’s Victoria Park on Sunday 16th July.
DIY CLASS OF 2017
LAUNCH PARTY with Declan McKenna, Pixx, Abattoir Blues and Loyle Carner, Omeara, London. Photos: Carolina Faruolo.
ack at the end of last year, DIY decided to reveal our Class of 2017 (as featured in the December 2016 / January 2017 issue) with a very special evening. Having whittled down the list of our fave new artists to just seventeen - seventeen for ‘17 and all that! - we figured the best way to celebrate just how brilliant they all are was to throw ourselves a big party and invite a few of ‘em along to perform. So that’s what we did.
Taking over spiffy new South London venue Omeara, we offered a sneak peek at the artists included with an exhibition of photography shot for the issue - and invited along cover star Loyle Carner to perform a brilliant spoken word set in the middle of the gallery.
girli vs girli
Then, the real fun began. Opening proceedings with BIMM alumni Sea Bed, the crowd were soon suitably warmed up for the visceral onslaught of Abattoir Blues. Showcasing some of their darker, more gut-wrenching offerings, the Brightonians proved why they’re fast becoming such an incendiary live force.
Next up, Pixx was as enigmatic and brilliant as ever, before headliner Declan McKenna stirred up a frenzy with a set packed full of his ambitious anthems. He even donned a gold Santa hat for the occasion (well, it was almost Christmas). Closing with the explosive ‘Paracetamol’ and the ace ‘Brazil’, it was a brilliant end to a night packed full of some of the 2017’s finest new hopes. DIY
Fancy going backstage at our Class of 2017 launch? Well, now you can! Head to diymag.com/podcast to get the full lowdown.
Abattoir Blues 27
On one of our new ones we’ve
whale sounds and for percussion, Ellie is stroking a carpet. got
new music new bands
This wonderfully in-your-face band emerged at the start of 2016 out of nowhere, wasting no time in letting the world know what they’re about; glistening hyper-pop, bizarrely vivid lyrics and an all-round aesthetic that’s impossible to ignore. For a band so sure of themselves, Sälen’s inception was slightly ramshackle, but fits them nicely. “Basically, me and Simon [Milner] were really drunk one day after a lock in and he was like,
‘Yeah I’m working on this new project, can you sing?’” laughs vocalist Ellie Kamio, crammed into the tiny dressing room of an East London studio along with bandmates Simon and Paul Wale, just around the corner from their Hackney base. As is often the case with conversations made during the small hours, Ellie wasn’t entirely telling the truth. “The next day he asked me and I was like, ‘I don’t know why I said that, I can’t sing, sorry!’”, she continues. Simon was persistent though, believing that if someone says they can sing when they’re pissed, then they must be able to. Just about every karaoke bar the world over would possibly disagree with this blind faith, but he was right. After sending Simon a voice note, the vocalist for Sälen was born, much to the surprise of anyone who knew her. “Not even her boyfriend at the time knew she could sing so we just started and he was like, ‘Er, can she sing?!’” teases Simon before Ellie elaborates that this was pretty much the reaction of anyone who knew her, including her mum. Despite having one foot planted firmly within left field, Sälen aren’t afraid of fully embracing pop. Paul is fascinated by the production of top-tier songs, while Simon loves Drake. It’s the blandness that Sälen want to avoid, and avoid it they do. “We like to add something to each of the songs,” explains Simon. “On one of our new ones we’ve got whale sounds and for percussion, Ellie is stroking a carpet. Another one has somebody crying all the way through, but at the same time the rest of it kind of fits with pop structures”. It’s clear then that Sälen aren’t afraid to leave their comfort zone. Their upcoming project is the ultimate test of this, a collaborative EP that’ll see them both relinquish and seize control in ways that are only possible with outside contributors. They’re keeping things close to their chest but are set to gather rappers, producers and singers from around the world. “I think [it’s] a good way to explore different stuff, see what vocals work with Ellie and different production,” says Simon. “It’s a good way to share ideas and then I guess people are gonna see what sort of artists [we] wanna be. There’s no master plan, we’re not trying to take over the world!”. DIY
Meet the London trio making honest, “bint”-dissing, warts ‘n all pop. Words: Henry Boon. Photo: Emma Swann.
heir debut video contained weird, white goo that was definitely meant to be vomit. Their next saw them writhing on a bed of snakes, the accompanying lyrics containing lovely tales about drinking blood right from your mouth. Say hello to Sälen.
Dead set on world domination. Part of a hope-ravaged, frustrated, bright pack of bands coming out the capital, Dead Pretties might be pick of the bunch. Led by the magnetic, mad Jacob Slater, they crush and contain the spirit of Seattle grunge, Britpop and 21st Century disillusionment. The only means of being exposed to this has been at one of their barmy local nights, but expect 2017 to be the year Dead Pretties take over. Listen: Look out for debut single ‘Social Experiment’. Similar to: Drenge and Superfood having a scrap.
Music for blue skies and dazed afternoons.
The young and hungry sound of New York.
Yellow Days has everything on his side. A superb IRL name (George van den Broek), brilliant pop songs and plenty of time on his side - the guy’s just 17 years old. Still, on the basis of last year’s debut EP, ‘Harmless Melodies’, he doesn’t have a second to waste. Behind his sleepyhead, ether-doused aesthetic is a seriously determined work ethic. His smoke-soaked voice will lead him towards King Krule-style experimentation or George Ezra-like chart ambitions. Either direction is full of exciting promise.
New York City doesn’t pause for one second, and that’s captured in the first steps of QTY. The duo first met aged 17, united not by music, but ice cream. Still, while growing up, both Dan and Alex were obsessed with the idea of forming a band. This incarnation finds them fusing a love of retro New York with sharp-thinking, modern rock ‘n’ roll. The legendary Bernard Butler is already on board, having produced their debut single.
Listen: ‘Your Hand Holding Mine’ is the best place to start. Similar to: King Krule with his eye on the charts.
Listen: ‘Rodeo’ is a no-frills triumph, out on Dirty Hit. Similar to: The Strokes meets early The Killers.
It’s thirsty work being this ace.
Hand-on-heart Aussies with big goals. It’s impossible not to fall for Camp Cope. In the last 12 months, the Melbourne trio have risen via word-of-mouth, launched skywards by a self-titled debut album defined by no-holds-barred emotion and equally forthright delivery. They swiftly followed up their first LP with ‘Keep Growing’, a standalone track epitomising their smart, never-stop ethos. Don’t be deceived by those easygoing, jangly guitars. Listen: ‘Keep Growing’ might be their finest moment yet. Similar to: Fans of Julien Baker and Beach Slang will find much to love. 30 diymag.com
ON THE PLAYLIST Every week on Spotify, we update DIY’s Neu Discoveries playlist with the buzziest, finest new finds. Here’s our pick of the bunch: Dessert ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ This suitably berserk single was released via a fucking massive bunny-shaped candle. As the band themselves put it: “This is the future of merchandise. Buy one. We’re geniuses. Buy our genius products. Buy me. Choose us. Love us.” Right then. Cosmo Pyke ‘Social Sites’ One of the standouts from Hello 2017, this newcomer somehow wound up on Frank Ocean’s ‘Nikes’ video last year. His own first step is a genre-dodging statement of intent. Loco Ono ‘Bloody Knees’ This ether-like introduction to London trio Loco Ono feels like it’s lifted from another world. Think Warpaint with more bite and you’re halfway there.
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
SAY HELLO TO COSIMA
How many new acts start with a self-directed, 28-minute short film? Ok, how many of them even make a short film combining surrealism, online dramas and deadly romance? Cosima isn’t messing around. The South Londoner has shared ‘South of Heaven’, a mixtape slash short film built from huge ambitions. “I consider myself very lucky as I am allowed to frame myself in a world where women/artists don’t always get to,” she said, when releasing it back in December. Watch it in full on diymag.com.
BACK IN ACTION
Scottish charmers Catholic Action are set to be a fixture of 2017. You guys said so, anyway. They were voted Number 6 in the ‘New band most likely to be amazing in 2017’ category of our 2016 readers’ poll, so that’s that. They’re officially going to be massive. They’re kicking the year off with a February UK tour, visiting venues including Southampton Joiners, Cambridge Portland Arms and Inverness Tooth and Claw. Plus they take part in Roundhouse Rising in London, an annual celebration of ace new music. Check out the full schedule on diymag.com. This month, they tour the UK with California hellraisers PARTYBABY joining the ride.
INHEAVEN KNOWS I’M NOT MISERABLE NOW 2017 is already taking shape. Catholic Action aren’t the only busybods touring next February - the amazing INHEAVEN have announced dates too. Backing up recent single ‘Treats’ and with a debut album due this year, they’re cruising round the country from 8th February. Stopovers include Lincoln, Leeds, Bedford and Derby. Also, if you haven’t seen the cheerleader-backed video for ‘Treats’, sort that out right now. It’s on diymag.com.
Maggie Rogers is trying to get over the Internet. The 22-year old singer-songwriter found herself sitting next to Pharrell Williams back in May, playing him ‘Alaska’, the lead single from her ‘Now That The Light Is Fading’ EP. The meeting was recorded on video as a part of New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music course, which Maggie graduated from last May.
The clip blew up, racing over two million views.
She’s no newcomer to music, having grown up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland playing the banjo and writing folk songs. And after releasing two LPs of folk compositions, she began experimenting with production while at New York University. “When I first started writing, I would sit down with a guitar and a banjo. It was a quiet, slow, emotional, kind of dramatic process. What’s changed so much for me in learning production at university was I would start with the rhythm.” If evolution as a producer partially constructed this version of the future, being a student of the industry prepared her for grit and grease of the music business. “I had a business plan. It’s really easy for me to focus on the music.” Of the many label meetings, she says: “What that looks like is a lot of weird dinners with 40-year-old men. I ate really well this summer. I’m happy to cook again!” She continues, “One of the coolest things about the music industry is it’s one of the only places where a 22-year-old woman can walk into a room full of older men and be in charge. It’s this incredible Wild West where anyone with a good idea can come in and change the entire industry.” It’s no coincidence she spends much of the videos for ‘Alaska’ and follow-up track ‘Dog Years’ walking towards the camera – Maggie Rogers is headed forwards. “I’m not really sure how I tripped and fell into this alternate universe, but I’ve been given the opportunity to create a world for myself where I get to make music for the rest of my life, and that’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted.” DIY 32
Watching it later you might note Pharrell’s jaw loosen, lips parting delicately, as he grapples with the brilliant track for the first time. He and Maggie throw each other furtive, sideways glances. It’s cute, and launched a bidding war for the singer-songwriter that one anonymous A&R called “the biggest derby of the year.” The video is watching a person self-actualise in real-time. When ‘Alaska’ ends, Pharrell simply says: “wow.” This is how the world finally met Maggie Rogers.
Pharrell was her first fan - now
millions are catching up.
Words: Geoff Nelson. Photo: Emma Swann.
In ‘School of Rock,’ Jack Black taught a bunch of school kids about the joys of AC/DC and took them to Battle of the Bands victory. North London trio Girl Ray’s story also starts at a rock club. Except, the one guitarist / vocalist Poppy Hankin and bassist Sophie Moss went to in Year 7 wasn’t quite as exciting. “It was an after school club and there was just four of us,” Poppy explains. “I kind of expected someone like Jack Black to be there,” Sophie laughs.
Undeterred, Poppy and her friend, drummer Iris McConnell, formed a band, but couldn’t quite decide on a sound, instead writing all sorts of weird and wonderful songs across the holidays. “We didn’t really know what we were doing and then it kind of developed over time,” Iris explains. Their initial confusion lead to a number of pretty funny concepts though. “We wrote about the school canteen lady and about how she was mean, but it was genuine,” Poppy says. “It took a while to find what we were doing,” adds Iris. It all seems quite far from the sophisticated indie pop that they’re making now, but after properly recruiting Sophie a couple of years later, Girl Ray were well on their way to finally finding their signature sound. They released their first single while still doing their A-Levels (called ‘Ghosty’ in reference to one of
girl ray From school rock clubs and canteen ladies to mature indie pop and a possible impending prog opus, get to know your new favourite gang. Words: Eugenie Johnson. Photo: Mike Massaro
their old band names, Ghosty Mo) but never felt the pressure of exams and essays. “It worked out,” says Iris. They’ve just released single ‘Trouble’ and the more contemplative B-side, ‘Where Am I Now’, which both combine charming vocal harmonies and simple yet sparkling wordplay with lilting guitars. They even have an album in the pipeline. They certainly weren’t short of ideas for the record, which is likely to be filled with the type of breezy indie pop we’ve come to know them for. Saying that, Poppy thinks that they might have “got carried away”; they’ve also penned a 10-minute prog extravaganza. “You know the bit in Father John Misty’s ‘Holy Shit’ where there’s the total rock WITH GIRL out and all the strings?” Poppy RAY asks. “We were like, ‘right, that’s going to happen, then there’s It’s a brand new year, going to be the ‘Pet Sounds’ and perhaps your bit, then there’s going to be the #newyearnewme Pink Floyd bit.’” It all sounds a resolution is to get bit like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ fit. After playing a but that’s probably the point. hybrid of rounders “There’s this bit that’s completely and cricket in their out of BoRhap,” Poppy says. “It’s video for ‘Trouble’, definitely a B-side for when we’ve Girl Ray have a caught people’s attention!” DIY couple of ideas that might get you looking a bit trimmer in the coming months. “Don’t eat so much hummus!” Poppy says. Iris has couple of more energetic solutions: “Star jumps! Dance routines to Girl Ray songs!” Get ready to get fit at a Girl Ray gig soon, then.
Girl Ray: not fans of changing the duvet cover.
LIVE goat giRl
TAKES OVER THE OLD BLUE LAST WITH THE HOTTEST NEW BANDS The yearly extravaganza has so far hosted Goat Girl, Girl Ray, Dead Pretties and more. What’s Dry January? Words: Jamie Milton. Photos: Emma Swann.
ead Pretties are the future of loud, obnoxious, brazen, brilliant bands. They sport loose dungarees over pastel colours, put on clown wigs for their final song and blow whistles between childish screams. It’s all fun and games on the outside, but don’t let that distract from their no-frills take on manic noise. Three days into 2017 and out steps a band to cherish.
In fact, here’s a whole bunch. The opening night continues where previous years left off. In 2016, Fish’s sinister side was submerged in obtuse guitar patterns and reserved execution. This time, they let that side come out to play. Thread-bare guitar notes sound lost on their own, but on ‘Wished’ they turn bleak nothingness into a gloriously rich taste of darkness. If last year was a hint of their potential, 2017 is an affirmation. In Yowl Peckham spirits crushing 9-to-5 frustration into something poetic - we might finally have the UK’s answer to Parquet Courts, and Goat Girl need little introduction. The latter, signed to Rough Trade, seemed to tap into fear and anger on their equally witty ‘Country Sleaze’ / ‘Scum’ single, but tonight they show a different side, built from perfectly- arranged musicianship and craft. They look relaxed in the awareness of just how good they are. Make no mistake, these aren’t ordinary bands. Something special is stirring in the capital. 34 diymag.com
fish goat girl yowl
ll four acts playing the second night of DIY’s Hello 2017 residency combat disquiet with different tools, but they each provide their own antidote to strange times. Puma Blue are a South East London group who’ve taken influence from their area’s staple sounds. You can hear the Mount Kimbie-style application of deft empty space in ‘Want Me’, and the constant reference to King Krule’s jagged, jazz-inflected guitar playing. Archy Marshall crops up again when watching Cosmo Pyke, who seems to have been majorly inspired by the Peckham pioneer. There’s so much more to marvel at than razor-toothed guitars though. Cosmo sports a Thierry Henry Arsenal tee, and he channels his club’s Invincibles era, giving the impression of a supremely confident, untouchable star-in-the-making.
Girl Ray are a completely different prospect. They apply a classically-tuned, Belle & Sebastian-nodding approach. On ‘I’ll Make This Fun’, Poppy Hankin confesses to have “spoken for hours on pretentious junk” and single ‘Trouble’ is a collection of modern day fears contained in a sunny-side-up pop song. It’s a full house from start to finish, topped off by an optimismfuelled headline set from Swimming Tapes, the Londoners sporting a lazy day, Real Estate-style escapism that would sound more at home on the California coast than The Big Smoke. If the future is summed up in tonight’s bill of bright, hungry acts full of big ideas, then we’ll be just fine.
GIG GUIDE The must-see new music gigs taking place this month. Buzzy first steps STEVIE PARKER 10th February There’s plenty of chat around this Fromeborn songwriter, who gives heartfelt pop a razor-sharp edge. She plays London’s Lexington to kick off 2017. On tour ESTRONS 8th-18th February Cardiff’s finest fuzz fiends play their biggest UK tour so far in February. The Class of 2017 stars will visit Oxford, Bristol and Leeds, as well as headlining London’s Boston Music Room.
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witch on the telly, flick through any newspaper, or take a cursory glance out of the window, and things look very, very bad. From the blind jump into idiocy that is Brexit, to the presidential election of flaxen-haired tangerine Donald Trump in the United States, a poisonous fear of difference and otherness has fuelled political catastrophes across the world. 2016 was a washout, but the real shitshow is only just kicking off. Now it’s time to organise and fight back, and Run the Jewels are leading the charge. Four years ago – back in those heady days when pig-gate was still just a hellish episode of Black Mirror - El-P and Killer Mike were both acclaimed lone rangers, stalwarts of the underground rap scene. Each boasting decade-long solo careers and well into their thirties, both members of Run the Jewels were set in their own rights, but a hunger to keep taking risks brought the two minds together. In 2013, their debut album ‘Run the Jewels’ was very much an experiment. Now, with three records to their name, the group is their sole focus. A super-glue strong bond, a natural artistic chemistry, and a constant drive to challenge one another has brought Run The Jewels to this point. The duo have also grown far darker, meaner, and more complex. Their third album – launching into the bleakest surroundings possible – feels more necessary than ever. While previous records flamethrew into life, in a bombastic spin of poodle-shooting, and self-aware braggadocio, ‘Run the Jewels 3’ feels different. The opening of the entire record begins, very tellingly, with two simple words: I hope. “My grandmother used the word hope a lot when I was a kid,” remembers Killer Mike, chatting the morning after a sold-out show in Philadelphia; the pair’s first live date with ‘RTJ3’ deployed and out there. “She didn’t use it wistfully. She would say ‘oh, I try to hope you all I can’. I think she was trying to say help, but she really meant hope. ‘I will pray and hope for you,’ she’d say,” Mike goes on. “I realised hope is a verb. It takes action.” Hope propels ‘RTJ3’, but there’s no it’ll-be-ok-in-the-end mentality, blinkering out the world, to be found. Quite the opposite, in fact. Run the Jewels continually confront the
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least pleasant aspects of life in all their grisly, uncomfortable starkness. The hope sitting at the core of this album is an active, fast-propelling call to animation. Taking stock of the distinctly desolate context surrounding the album – hardly a breeding ground for hope - El-P emits a dark chuckle. “It’s not gonna be fine,” he says firmly. “But these motherfuckers are in for a surprise if they think that they’re gonna destroy our souls.”
“I would love a kid to walk away feeling two things,” he ponders. “That they know where the fuck they stand, and at the same time, that they are determined to be a badass. A middle finger in the face of a tornado of shit,” El adds. “I’m not capable of giving anyone false hope, but what I can say is this. I can give you a little game, I can give you a little swagger, ‘cos fuck all these motherfuckers. We already lost if it’s not ‘fuck you’. If it’s not ‘fuck you’ we’re already gone. That, to me, from a Brooklyn kid – fuck you is hope,” he laughs.
“Man, I just had this picture of a perfectly round nice old lady walking out of a jazzercise with us, ‘cos she thinks
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There are ‘fuck you’ moments of all descriptions on ‘RTJ3,’ a record that takes on cash-fat bankers, the (at time of going to print) president-elect, and government corruption with viciously unforgiving wit. Typically, it’s coloured by the duo’s potently stoned strain of humour, a healthy smattering of dick jokes, and quick-smart lines that throw themselves headlong into the realm of all-out ridiculousness, too. “The humour and the joking and the brashness of our rap style is just as important to us as the depth of the things we can do,” El-P concurs. His favourite line on the whole record, he adds, is a suitably golden piece of imagery from ‘Stay Gold,’ courtesy of his partner in crime. “We’re the crooks, we’ll run the jux and kidnap mom from jazzercise,” quips Killer Mike without pause for breath, “get Stockholm syndrome when she get home, mom’s like, “I like those fuckin’ guys.”
we’re interested in her pumpkin pies,” Mike laughs, “man, that’s kidnapping! And then we get back to the kidnapping headquarters and she makes us clean it all up, because we’re dirty little boys, and she’s like, you gotta learn manners.”
“After I figure out how to get marijuana, and accept there are no strip clubs, man, I get really focused on the work,” says Killer Mike of their woodland retreat.
Likewise, Run the Jewels were resolute that their third album should develop unhurried. Heading to the tranquility of Upstate New York to record, the duo went a step further this time and set up their own permanent studio in the middle of nowhere - “a place where we can forever escape and have a Run the Jewels world,” as El puts it. Holing up at their new HQ for a year gave them much-needed space.
From their formation in 2013, Run the Jewels’ evolution has been a gradual one, and deliberately so. Both El-P and Killer Mike put this down to their huge wealth of experience as artists; and their confidence when it comes to maintaining a natural pace. “That’s why we’re still here,” states El-P boldly. “Me and Mike have an anomalous career, but for us it’s not a mystery. We never lost that need to keep pushing forward with our craft, and we never felt like we were done, or like we hit any kind of peak. We still don’t feel that way. It’s like raising a kid,” El-P goes on, swerving tact. “Every year that kid is alive, it has more to say, that kid has more ideas, and more experience. For us as artists, the reason we have managed to stay sharp is because there was never a moment in our minds where we got comfortable with what we’ve done. We were always dead-set on doing the next thing.”
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“It’s compassionate crime, y’know?,” laughs El. “It’s Killer Mike’s school of compassionate crime.”
“It takes me back to my great-grandparents’ farm in Alabama when I was a kid – the first three days you’re there, you’re like, shit, I don’t have any video games. Rest of the summer, you’re playing outside. In the woods it allows you to focus what you’re thinking,” he pauses. “And the weed supply up there is great, now, thankfully.” “Beyond that,” remarks El-P, “you’re basically looking at a bunch of dudes growing beards.” As well as refusing to rush the process, they also took their time when it came nailing their overarching message. “I wanted to take a long breath to make the album of our lives, because that’s what we needed to do,” El-P says. “Every one of these records has to be the most important we’ve ever done.” At one point, overcome by anger towards the injustices of the world outside, the album’s voice became a major point of discussion, and ultimately, a pivotal moment. “At one point, we just had to sit down and figure it out, and it became a better record because of it,” Mike says. “I really had to take time to think about my own anger,” he admits. “I wanted [‘RTJ3’] to be more of a call to organise, and a way to remain hopeful if you are out on the streets protesting – and I think we did that.” The long journey to ‘RTJ3’ has been peppered by healthy debate, endless creative reinvention, and a couple of tears along the way. ‘Thursday in the Danger Room’ – a moment that sees the duo at their deepest, and most vulnerable – was such a tough track to make, El-P in particular was hesitant to release it. It sees the two members of Run the Jewels in tandem, rapping about shared experiences of grief, sorrow, death, and forgiveness, with a forthright honesty they’ve never channelled before. It stands out as a turning point, too, opening the door to yet another facet of Run the Jewels.
“I have a once removed cousin down in Florida, a little cousin who grew up looking up to me, and they lost another cousin between my age and theirs,” Mike continues. “He was murdered for a bracelet. I was thinking about my other friends that have been murdered, and him; he has a son, he left a woman behind. Nobody ever mourns these people. Nobody ever mourns my friend. That verse got it pouring out of me. I wanted people to know there was humanity behind that chain that was taken, behind the bracelet, behind the car-jacking. I want the killer to know that we have all been involved in that, we have all done what could be considered terrible things. Because seriously, I know you know my records,” he says addressing his subject directly, “I know you know who I am at this point, and I want you to know you’re forgiven, because I don’t want your mother, or father’s pain. I want you to do better with your life.” Inspired by his best friend’s frankness, El-P sat down to write about a subject he hadn’t revisited since the darkness and grief of his 2012 solo record ‘Cancer 4 Cure’. Reframing it within the context of Run the Jewels proved challenging, but vital. “It was coming off of a friend’s death, a real life-changing loss,” he says. “I’m talking about something I haven’t shared with anybody, and all of a sudden, I was putting it out there on record.” “What I latched onto was my friend’s big heart, and how he was writing about forgiveness,” El-P continues. “If Mike is outwardly forgiving, I guess I took the
Q U A D
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“A lot of times, the thugs, the drug dealers, the player, the hustler, has been the only face that represented black men in rap music,” Killer Mike picks up. “Its been the only face, the only mantra, of rap music. No-one gets past the trap, and gets to the human, and the humanity, of being a villain or outlaw.”
opportunity to be... Maybe it was a little selfish, but I wrote about being inwardly forgiving. I have walked around with a lot of guilt in the back of my head. I was ashamed of myself for having had a moment or two in the long process of my friend’s deterioration – and ultimately, death – where I felt too weak. In my heart, I wished the process was over, I wished it was quicker. I felt very ashamed and embarrassed by that, and it’s something I haven’t really shared with anybody – but I’m sure that’s a common thing in these processes for a lot of people.” “I don’t cry much,” El adds. “It doesn’t happen to me much. This one, it did. I think that’s why I was scared,” he admits. “I cried listening to it back, and I think that’s why I was scared originally. I stepped to Mike, like, I don’t know, and I’m just glad that my friend encouraged it.”
“I was hesitant, for the first time in a long time,” El-P starts. “I’ve gotten really comfortable in my solo music, saying things that were deeply personal. Doing it with Run the Jewels was a different story. I think to some degree, when Run the Jewels started, I was taking a bit of a vacation from myself, y’know what I mean?” El-P admits. “But, being friends with Mike, and seeing how brave Mike was being with putting his heart out there... he astonishes me sometimes with how open he can be. When he wrote what he wrote, he threw the gauntlet down, and I felt like I had to be brave.”
The strength of El-P and Killer Mike’s friendship is a point the pair reference time and time again today, and looking back to ‘Run the Jewels 3’s hope-filled opening lines, their bond is also the catalyst that places this pair among some of the most important faces in music today. “Me and Mike’s relationship has been nothing but hope,” El-P says. Killer Mike’s in agreement. “I would like to feel like the hope that we give people is not a challenge or a dare, but a call, to say there are other like-minded people just like you, there are people your vibration resonates with,” he says. “Seek them out. Our friendship, this relationship, has given me hope that it is never too late. Just keep trying at it. After seeing it come to fruition in my own life, with this, it’d be selfish not to give people hope. It’d be selfish to only make records that were angry, or depressing, or dark. It’d be a misrepresentation. These records have provided hope in my life, and I hope that’s something we maintain throughout the course of this group, to constantly do badass shit.” “Run the Jewels is out of light, and there is darkness drawn in,” concludes El-P. “It’s me, and my friend, and we’re standing next to each other, and we have each other’s backs. Run The Jewels’ new album ‘RTJ3’ is out now. DIY
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Handily, it’s now possible to write the Run the Jewels logo using emoji.
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“Punk is a way of expressing emotion, fears about life.” Mattie Vant
et’s just face it: 2016 did its best to compete for the title of Worst Year On Record. It probably won. As well as the death of far too many cultural luminaries, there was Trump and Brexit. But while Mattie Vant is clearly angry at the predicament we’ve found ourselves in, he’s also quite accepting. “We’re going to have to live with the decisions we’ve made this year,” he says. On the other hand, with impending Brexit negotiations and the increasing rise of the so-called “alt-right,” he also thinks that “2017 could be even worse than 2016!” On the positive side, there’s at least one reason why the next twelve months are already looking brighter: VANT’s debut album ‘Dumb Blood’. It’s been nearly two years since blistering debut single ‘Parasite’ was released and, if they’d wanted to, they could’ve put out an album right there and then. “We recorded about twelve tracks before we were signed,” Mattie says, “and at that time we were going to release it on our own and push forward with a punk mentality.” Unfortunately, there was just a little bit of a stumbling block. “When we put out ‘Parasite’, we had no real fanbase!” Mattie laughs. “There’s no point in putting a record out if no one wants to buy it!” That’s not the case now. Thanks to their blood-pumping live sets and festival appearances, as well as a string of killer singles and the ‘Karma Seeker’ EP, they’ve got people chanting along to their politically-charged lyrics left, right and centre. The time is right for the LP release, and lord knows we need
a socially conscious and cathartic punk record now, more than ever. ‘Dumb Blood’ definitely doesn’t pull any punches in that sense. Between exhilarating live favourites like ‘Parking Lot’ and explosive singles such as ‘The Answer’, the record gets its message out in quick-fire bursts of searing guitar riffs and clattering drums, with more than a handful of tracks barely making it past the three minute mark. But VANT still manage to muscle in more than a few hooks, all while still threatening to blow like the “tick tick time bomb” Mattie references twice on the record. That’s probably because, for him, playing punk wasn’t just born from necessity; it’s also the perfect way of communicating how he feels, without any airs of pretention. “Punk just comes from that place where it’s from the heart. It’s a way of expressing emotion, fears about life,” he says. The flurry of mile-a-minute riffs that form the backbone of ‘Dumb Blood’ originally had another meaning, though. “It was a tongue-in-cheek comment on modern society,” Mattie explains. “I first started writing songs that short, saying that people don’t have the time of day to listen to a song or a record. So I thought if I didn’t give them the chance, and the song was over before I’d given them that chance to press pause, then I’d kind of force my message in their heads without them knowing.” Curiously though, there is one moment on the record where VANT slow things down. ‘Are We Free?’ gradually unfurls itself 45
over a mammoth seven minutes, building to a thunderous climax of grungy guitar squalls. You might be surprised by the inspiration behind it, though. “I’m obsessed with Neil Young and I always wanted to have a track that had a really jammy intro,” Mattie explains. “Because it’s so relentless up until that point, you’ve had this barrage of fast punk, and it gives the listener an opportunity to zone out a bit with this Wurlitzer of weird psychedelic guitar.” While ‘Dumb Blood’ is not only musically arresting, it also does a stellar job of tackling some of the most divisive (and pretty terrifying) current affairs. As Mattie himself says on ‘Fly-By Alien,’ “that world’s got a few problems.” That’s a bit of an understatement, but Mattie was determined that “the content of the songs give an overall representation of my viewpoint on humanity at the minute.” “Although they have highs, they all have their own statements in them,” he says.
viewpoint; Mattie was simply content that they’d made a connection with others. “They’ll have that memory and resonation with someone else trying to make a statement.” It’s that political and social connection that he wants to take even further into VANT’s gigs, which until recently had been a form of “escape.” He now believes more than ever that gigs “can be a direct form of activism and protest.” “We started painting our amps and we do say a little bit here and there in between songs, but not too much,” he explains. “For me, the most exciting thing about live music is that a group of young people are coming together and exerting energy in a peaceful yet anger-relieving manner.” By bringing the political side of their own music even further into their performances, VANT are hoping that they’ll be able to further invigorate young people so they believe they have the power to really make a difference. “I’d like to think 80% of our fanbase are aware of what we’re talking about and resonate with that. If they could see that I genuinely think politicians would be fearful and make them maybe think twice about certain decisions that they’re making.” Knowing that, it’s not surprising that Mattie gets particularly enthused when talking about the reactions of fans to their messages. “It feels like youth as a whole want change and whenever we talk to them at shows people are really engaged.”
‘The Answer’ references the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the refrain on ‘Time and Money’ repeats that “there’s a hole in my ozone” and ‘Headed For The Sun’ – one of Mattie’s oldest songs – rues that “it’s like we all don’t give a fuck.” And that’s barely scratching the surface. “With everything that’s happened over the last 12 months the content is probably more relevant than it would have been,” he says. “It was important to me to view this as an album where if an alien species came upon it after we’d Forget Donald Trump being TIME’s destroyed ourselves, then it would Person of the Year; DIY readers voted be a representation of where it Mattie as their person of 2016. “Slightly all went wrong, as well as being a contrasting viewpoints,” Mattie representation of where we are as laughs. Just a bit. But how does he a species at the moment.”
DIY’s Person of the Year
But to even be able to get to this point in the first place, VANT have had to really stick by their guns. “When we started this project a long time ago, people questioned feel about this prestigious title? Well, if others would criticise us for talkwhile he’s determined not to let his It’s not all about putting the world ing about politics, because it was ego grow too much, he does admit to rights, though; there’s also a pretty unfashionable at the time.” that it’s all “slightly strange!” “The one few moments calling for calm They’re now no longer alone in positive I took from it was that if young and humanity. ‘Put Down Your their mission, finding themselves people were voting for someone who Gun’ reminds us that “we’re all the in the middle of a politically enersame,” while ‘Peace and Love’ is a gised generation of British musiexpresses an opinion on something rallying cry for more understandcians. “Now you’ve got bands like then that could only be a good thing.” ing. For Mattie, we’ve simply lost INHEAVEN and Declan McKenna” sight of what “peace and love” he points out, “and there’s also really means, and his lamenting over how the term now has bands who don’t write about these things in their lyrics, like “no meaning” is a vital part of the track. “It just became a fashWolf Alice, Superfood and Drenge, but they’re doing benefit ion statement,” he says. “We keep getting tagged in things on concerts for refugees.” Instagram where there’s stuff like wrapping paper with ‘peace and love’ written on it, or some Christmas lights, and it’s the ‘Dumb Blood’ places VANT at the vanguard of it all, calling antithesis of everything I was writing against!” out Earth’s ills and asking just what the heck we’re going to do about it. With Mattie’s deeply genuine belief that young The perils of social media also formed the basis for ‘Lampoon’, people have “so much potential to change the world, and which was originally written as a criticism of a generation save the world,” it’s a record that’s intentionally designed Mattie used to see as being unable to move into action. But to “wake people up to that” and get people talking. “It’s our recent events have demonstrated that young people genuwhole mission statement: to start a conversation and try and inely care about politics and want to move for change, which get particularly young people excited about politics; they thrills him. “The more I’ve looked into it, I’ve realised that they can dictate their own opinions,” Mattie says. “I feel like this really, really do care. That’s really exciting.” generation could be the one to put these plans into action.” If anyone can help that cause, VANT can. Maybe 2017 won’t be The frontman was even more encouraged by the general all that bad after all. public’s reaction to VANT performing for the #DontDoABrexit campaign on US Election Day. “It was about wanting to talk VANT’s debut album ‘Dumb Blood’ is out 17th February to people in the real world,” he explains, “and the only intervia Parlophone. DIY actions we ever had were reasonable conversations. There was this really warm response to it.” It didn’t matter whether VANT are appearing at Roundhouse Rising this people agreed with their deeply anti-Trump and anti-Brexit year. Head to diymag.com for details.
ROCK THE VOTE: nt for PM Mattie Va
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MUNA are very protective of their locker - itâ€™s crammed full with pop bangers.
feel like our next level of transformation is us being able to speak perfectly on phone interviews,” Katie Gavin begins. Bandmate Josette Maskin, however, feels differently. “I don’t care,” she interjects, “I like the mayhem. I want it to be a shitshow.” As made abundantly clear just a few minutes in, interviewing LA trio MUNA is no easy task. Speaking to the band on the phone from the other side of the Atlantic - Katie and Josette are joined by Naomi McPherson – they all talk over each other so much that the line blurs into a cacophony of distorted, undecipherable and garbled words and voices. While interviews might err on the side of mayhem, MUNA are anything but a shitshow. Having formed while studying at the University of Southern California, Katie, Naomi and Josette were friends long before becoming a band. “I think we definitely all have different relationships as a threesome, but also each one of us with the other one. But we’re all super close. We can’t get enough of each other these days,” Naomi laughs. That’s handy given they’re just about to release debut album, ‘About U’.“In some ways, I think my favourite moments were when we started because we had the excitement of, like, wow, we can write songs together,” Katie explains. “But then the end of the process has been really beautiful because we had come to a totally new place of collaboration and being comfortable with one another. We were lucky that the whole process had different pieces of it that were special to us as a band.” “I was going to say,” Naomi interrupts, “it’s been nice just purely watching the relationship that the three of us have change and grow through the music. Also, we’ve had such creative freedom; it’s really exciting to be doing this all ourselves, and to have a record coming out that we know is an accurate expression of what we want to communicate musically and also in terms of a message.” That’s perhaps what makes MUNA’s music so thrilling. While “proclamation pop” is tired, their “message” of empowerment comes from expressing their own experiences of queerness with unflinching honesty. On songs like ‘So Special’, ‘Loudspeaker’, ‘I Know A Place’ and ‘Promise’, there’s no compromise when addressing sex, heartbreak and the queer experience. It all stems from an inherent need to tell a story. “I think that [Naomi] does this thing,” Katie says, delving specifically into the track ‘Around U’. “I’ll give her a demo and she’ll be like ‘I’m going to sit with it and I’m going to carve out some moments,’ which I always like, because if you look at a song you can see where there are moments where things drop out of it. I think that Naomi is such a visual person and also aural person, and part of her job that she’s been able to execute as producer is finding places in the song where you can carve out the track to highlight pieces of the story.” That’s not to say that there’s any exclusion when it comes to their music. Rather, universality reigns supreme. “Sometimes 49
when you’re talking about the importance of spreading love, it almost comes with an implication that everyone is the same,” Katie opines. “And that’s not actually the case. We are all the same, but we’re also vastly different at the same time. It’s quite contradictory. I just think that us making an effort to show that we are an inclusive community, that we won’t be judgemental and that our ears and hearts will stay open to people is not contradictory with us at the same time speaking about our opinions and our personal lives, and doing so in an explicit way. It comes with the belief that everyone else should be able to do the same thing.” Throughout, Katie (the self-professed ringleader of the group) takes the lead when the conversation turns to stickier topics. When the group inevitably crash into discussing the walking tangerine toupee who’s been elected president, it’s Katie who steers the ship. “I thought that, after the election, I was going to be, like, reading a bunch of books about history trying to understand the background of this point in the recurring cycle of hatred and fear and revolution that we’re experiencing right now,” she says. “What actually ended up happening instead was that I’ve been thinking a tonne about God and spirituality, and the fact that everyone that is around me, all of my neighbours, friends, the people that I disagree with, and the people that hate me, everybody has something inside of them that is holy.”
ourselves within our gender identity,” Naomi says. “I’ve never really felt any pressure from anyone that we work with to not be exactly who we are, and I’ve felt inspired by Josette and Katie to figure out who I am. We just work together and I think we’ve all reached a peaceful place with it.” MUNA’s mission statement, then, is to connect people. “That’s the whole purpose of making music in times like this,” Josette explains. “People forget that everyone else is a human. And music is the one thing that, at least I think, everyone feels and everyone can feel connected with another. Everyone’s fallen in love; everyone’s gotten their heart broken. We just have to find those common things that connect us because the world is becoming so much more divided. Hate is only going to further that divide.” As Katie says, their music “rises above identity”. Take, for example, the album’s most sober and sedative moment, ‘If You Leave Me Now’, a song that captures yearning, heartbreak and the complexities of being human so perfectly it’s arresting. Or the desperation in ‘Everything’ that pours out of the song in the production, lyrics and vocal delivery. And then there’s the universally devastating ‘Winterbreak’, that features the despondently real lyric: “Oh, baby I think we both know / This is the love that we won’t get right.” These are, without a doubt, angsty, confusing and real themes that it’s hard to disassociate yourself from.
“I felt like we needed to be more explicit.” - Katie Gavin
Pained, she admits that members of her own family voted for Trump. “That really hurts me,” she says. “On a personal level, and on a daily basis, I’m trying to make the choice to not turn away from those people and instead try to listen to them and love them and show them that I can do this, and I’m strong enough to do this. I hope, maybe blindly, that they’ll do the same thing for me.” Given that they finished the record in the summer of last year, Katie, who writes most of the band’s demos and lyrics before handing the material over to Naomi and Josette, felt they should scrap it all and write a punk album in protest. “I felt like we needed to be more explicit. Now I just feel grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to express ourselves and be fully ourselves. Whether we like it or not, we’re entering a time where that’s going to become contested. People expressing themselves fully.” While queer visibility in music has increased exponentially, with acts like Shura, Shamir, Mikki Blanco, PWR BTTM and Frank Ocean helping deconstruct and share the queer experience to a wider audience, do the band feel any pressure to live up to a certain ideal of what it means to be a queer artist? “In terms of sex and sexuality, I think each of us have had growing periods in different times of our lives, even throughout the time that we’ve known each other, with how we want to present ourselves sexually and how comfortable we are with
“That’s what pop music should do,” Josette argues. “It feels like we’re channelling something. I’m not necessarily a religious or spiritual person, but I feel like it’s bigger than us. It’s 100% bigger than us, and our bodies and whether or not people think we’re cute… I couldn’t give a shit about that.” Spirituality and religion seems to be a running discussion in our chat. Could an, er, “Christian record” be on the cards next? “It’s going to be a Wiccan album!” says Josette, before Katie deflects the joke: “We definitely lean that way in terms of iconography and style. Like, we love a ritual. Wouldn’t that be really fucking cool to incorporate into our shows? People come to concerts to have pseudo religious experiences. Venues are kind of churches.” “Who knows,” Naomi says, the conversation becoming muddled again, their voices merging to one, “maybe we’ll start a cult...” In the face of staunch political and social pressures for conformity and censorship, if that cult follows the doctrine of self-expression and connectedness that MUNA so vehemently preach, we’ll be the first to sign up. Even if it does end up being a shitshow. MUNA’s debut album ‘About U’ is out on 3rd February via RCA. DIY
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An S.J.M. Concerts & Friends presentation by arrangement with Primary Talent International 51
“It was about finding our hunger again.” - Dan Flint 52
Just Before T
Back in 2015, You Me At Six seemed to have climbed as high as they
could; with new album ‘Night People’ they’re proving they can go one
better still. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photos: Ed Miles.
wo years ago, it would’ve been easy to look at You Me At Six’s career and wonder if they’d hit the peak of their powers. Having scored themselves a Number One album with fourth record ‘Cavalier Youth’, an arena tour would follow just a year later and all of a sudden, the Surrey fivepiece found themselves co-headlining The O2 and topping the bill at Slam Dunk Festival. But, as any rock band who’ve risen through the ranks of the mainstream soon comes to learn, sometimes the next barrier is one calling out to be smashed right through. That’s why, after a smattering of shows across 2015, the quintet all but disappeared. Their social media lay dormant, their touring schedule vanished. But the time away from the glare of the spotlight became a key part in what they would do next; the break was a tool for survival. “I think it was about finding our hunger again,” begins drummer Dan Flint, on why this was such an important move for them. Just as 2016 is drawing to a close, three of the band sit backstage at Dingwalls to discuss new record ‘Night People’; an album that sees the band rejuvenated and 53
Hey mate. SOHN called. He wants his hoodie back.
“We really do believe in what we’re doing.” Josh Franceschi This time, we really wanted to make sure we made something that justified all of our fans’ support because to not make your best record at that moment in time is a real shame.”
confident. “We probably could’ve gone into a studio, recorded an album and gone back out on tour but maybe we would’ve resented going back out. We needed to go away to really find that fire in our bellies; to not only write good music, but to then also spend the next two years going out and playing it live. It sounds ungrateful to say we didn’t enjoy that – obviously we love it – but you’ve got to go out there and believe it, give it your all. It takes a hell of a lot to do that, to go away and miss all your friends and family. So it was more about finding that inspiration again, and that want to really go out and prove we’ve made something amazing.” In the eyes of some, it could’ve been career suicide, but having spent close to a decade riding on the momentum they gained from album to album, that approach no longer felt like an option. “I think we’ve always entertained the idea of doing things that people don’t expect us to do,” frontman Josh Franceschi throws in. He’s probably right. “I think even the fact that You Me At Six is still a band ten years later, is us not doing what we were meant to do. I don’t think it’s an arrogant standpoint but we really do believe in what we’re doing and we don’t necessarily need outside validation. “The easiest thing for us to do would’ve been to make ‘Cavalier Youth’ or ‘Sinners Never Sleep’ part two,” he continues, “written a record in two or three months, and put it out a few months after that. Maybe some fans would’ve wanted that but ultimately, we’re not making music for anyone but ourselves.
Over the course of eighteen months, the band found themselves going back to basics. Rather than speed through it all over again “sometimes, we’ve felt pressured to rush that process,” admits Josh, “and maybe we’ve overlooked certain things” - the group decided to take their time, schedule in rehearsals at Dan’s own studio, and bring ideas to the table as and when they had them. “For us to love the record, we needed to take that time away,” bassist Matt Barnes continues. “Some weeks, we would go in the studio once a week, but everyone was coming in with so many ideas that the session wasn’t boring because there was so much new shit going on. Instead of turning up and going through the motions, it was fresh and exciting the whole time. It felt like a different thing than we’d ever been used to and it put us on our toes and we ended up writing loads of songs, then picking ten out of fifty or sixty.”
And with the gift of time, the band were able to concentrate on the narrative of their new record too. This time around, it was about getting the right set of songs to match up to what they wanted to say. It became about more than just the tracks themselves but about the light and shade of the record, the feel of it all. “It was also an interesting twelve months for us to all grow up a little bit – not in terms of maturity – but to take a step up in terms of musicianship,” adds Josh. After demoing tracks at Dan’s studio, it was then that they travelled to Nashville, Tennessee to work with Kings of Leon producer Jacquire King. There, at his Blackbird Studios, they’d face a new challenge altogether. “You can’t underestimate how tight these guys had to be to record an album live,” Josh goes on. “There are a lot of bands who wouldn’t be able to make records live because there’s some weak links in the group. The only way we were able to execute that was through the amount of rehearsing we did, and that in itself speaks volumes.
it really does nail the energy and feel of their live shows. So, what exactly are You Me At Six saying with this new album, as a whole? The answer’s simple. “That we’re one of the best bands in the world,” Josh answers without flickering, his confidence taking the driving seat, “which I think we are. I actually think this is the best You Me At Six record we’ve ever made, and I don’t think there are many bands out there that do what we do, and do it better.” You Me At Six’s new album ‘Night People’ it out now. DIY
“I really feel like by recording live, songs like ‘Plus One’ or ‘Swear’,” he continues, “the whole point of those tracks is that you understand the groove or the energy or the mood of that song. You wouldn’t get that any other way.” “Music isn’t meant to be regimented or perfect,” Dan picks up. “So many people record and get every instrument to be so perfect but that’s not what music is. Music is a movement and a feeling.” ‘Night People’ is a record that embodies that spirit. With their fifth album, the band have managed to explore an array of different musical avenues, but developed the confidence to know which to pursue. It’s an album that will undoubtedly throw some fans off – the sugary highs of its predecessor have been swapped for roughed-up vocals and bigger riffs - but
“Music isn’t meant to be regimented or perfect.” - Dan Flint
EVERY S even ye ars and fo u r alb u m s in , Clo u d N othin g s are d o in g thin g s d ifferently. â€˜Life With o ut S o u ndâ€™ marks a s hif t in their tide . Words: Ryan De Freitas
ighteen months ago, Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi walked into an unassuming Massachusetts music shop. Shortly after, he walked out with an acoustic guitar on which he would write the band’s new record, ‘Life Without Sound’. For Dylan, that’s an unusual way of doing things. The writing process for previous records saw him, as he explains during a recent London visit, “playing guitar really loud through an amp in the basement of wherever [he] was living,” as he would furiously thrash out the skeletons of Cloud Nothings songs. Not so, this time around. The songs he produced on that newly-acquired acoustic guitar are the most considered of his songwriting career and, as a result, ‘Life Without Sound’ is a far more placid listen than what’s come before. “I think I just don’t want to make heavier music anymore,” he casually offers as his motivation. “I can’t imagine playing with that sort of anger now. I just don’t
Dylan Baldi: Life without trousers. 57
really feel that way very often anymore.” “There’s less inner turmoil,” Dylan explains, on what exactly changed. “I think I finally just accepted my existence. This is a weird metaphor, but every time we go to the UK to play shows, we have to go through customs and have to write our occupation on the landing card. I would always write ‘musician’, just because I didn’t know what else to write. It was always just, ‘Well, I guess that’s what I’m doing’. It’s weird and it doesn’t feel right, but that’s what I have to write. I felt that way about a lot of things in my life actually. But now, for the first time, I feel like I can confidently write ‘musician’ on my landing card. There’s less questioning of my own motives now.” “I don’t know if there was one big turning point,” he continues, “but I’ve slowly just become happier. I guess I was forced to change. You can’t just retreat into yourself forever if you want to function as a person.” Forced or not, that newfound self-assurance can be found beaming throughout the new album. The bombastic chorus of ‘Things Are Right With You’ is the sound of a band letting go and trusting their own abilities, while the ever-shifting dynamics of ‘Darkened Rings’ and the way Dylan lets his voice explore new cadences on ‘Modern Act’ are sure signs of a band more comfortable in their own skin.
“I think I’m just less in my own head lately,” he says, “and less freaked out at the idea of being alive, and that gives me more time to look outward. I think you get a little less self-obsessed as you get older and it gets easier to think about other things and other people and I definitely have an easier time doing that now than I ever have before.” Probably best that the lyric writing for this record was pretty much finished by the time 2016 rolled around then, or this would’ve been a serious bummer of a record. “It could’ve been,” he interjects. “But our lyrics are always pretty depressing.”
“I’m less freaked out at the idea of being alive.” Dylan Baldi
Often, though, when the creative force behind a band sees their life become more manageable, the music suffers. There are enough of once-great bands churning out complacent records as millionaires as proof of that. But for Dylan, being a happier person hasn’t hampered his writing in any way. “There’s always something to write about,” he says, brushing off any suggestions of contented stagnation. “If anything, having a better headspace makes it easier for me to write because it’s way better than sitting in my bed, too depressed to do anything. Now, I can pick up a guitar any time and start working on something. It feels easier.” That’s not the only thing that’s coming easier to him these days, either. Having dedicated his previous lyrical output to ‘just complaining about things’ – his words, not ours – ‘Life
Without Sound’ is a more altruistic affair. Not in a blatant Michael Jackson ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ way, but there’s certainly less insulation and wallowing this time around.
All in all, ‘Life Without Sound’ is the furthest from Cloud Nothings’ established sound than they’ve ever stepped before. And even within it, Dylan admits that there’s more distinction between songs too. “As much as I like our last record,” he says, in reference to 2014’s ‘Here And Nowhere Else’, “I feel like every song is sort of similar. There’s a tone to the record that carries on throughout and I wanted this one to be more varied. I wanted each song to feel like its own moment and its own world unto itself.” Being something of a ‘vibe’ band in the past – the sort that by throwing on one of their records, you’re transported into a particular mood and taken on a journey within that mood – this move towards trackto-track distinction changes something that’s been core to the band. Dylan isn’t worried, though.
“I like that the record is going to throw people off on first listen because it’s a little different,” he concludes. “It took me a minute to even realise what the fuck it was we were actually doing - but then I enjoyed it.” And when the result of whatever the fuck Cloud Nothings were actually doing is as strong as ‘Life Without Sound’ is, Dylan won’t be the only one. Cloud Nothings’ new album ‘Life Without Sound’ is out now via Wichita Recordings. DIY
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“WHEN I DON’T HAVE WI-FI FOR A FEW DAYS I GET THE HEROIN KICKS.” - OSCAR POLLOCK
Sundara Karma have already made their ambition clear. On their debut album they question life, love and religion while keeping the upper echelons of indie firmly in their crosshairs. Words: Rhian Daly. Photos: Emma Swann.
erhaps it's a ballsy move to call your debut album 'Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect' when you've not long turned 21, but Sundara Karma are far from shrinking violets tiptoeing their way carefully through life. Over the last two years the Reading four-piece have dazzled with poetic lyrics, killer hooks and lofty ideas far beyond what most of their peers are peddling. Their debut full-length, released last month, shows them doing the opposite of shying away from that approach - if anything, they're stepping things up to ambitious new heights. More coherent and focused than EPs 'I' and 'II', it's also jam-packed with dizzying anthemics that make you feel like you're cruising at 40,000 feet and some thought-provoking, weighty subjects. Religion, for instance, has always been something of a presence. Even back in 2014 on debut single 'Cold Heaven',
they were posing theological questions about that big place in the sky, while their band name makes use of Sanskrit, the language used in Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. "I wouldn't say I'm a religious person, but I can really empathise with people who are," says vocalist Oscar Pollock, sat in an east London cafe. "I think you're fucking lucky if you do believe in that because isn't that such a lovely world view to have - that there's this guy in the clouds who's going to save you from your sins." He's also fascinated by the idea of there being something more beyond our lives on Earth. "That's what eats up most of my thinking," he says, fiddling with the empty water bottle on the table in front of him. Even though he doesn't subscribe to one faith himself, he says he understands the appeal after seeing how Buddhism helped his mum go from being "quite unwell for a while" back to a good place. Aspects of that religion have aided him, too. Meditation and yoga have helped with his struggles with anxiety and depression, and, without them, he says he can "go to a pretty dark place very quickly". Being brought up around Buddhism has affected his songwriting as well. "When I was 15, 16, it really started to appeal to me," he explains. "That's when I started thinking I can use this in my songwriting. Before then my lyrical content lacked authenticity." The grand, driving 'Olympia' finds the singer questioning "Is heaven such a fine thing?" while the tremulous, brooding 'Be Nobody', one of 'Youth…''s highlights, was inspired by a book of the same name by former Buddhist teacher Lama Marut and his thoughts on the pressure to be "somebody" in the age of social media. "People are so invested in that ‘cause they think it's going to make them happy," he says. "Like 'I've got to put this picture of my cat up ‘cause it's gonna get me the likes and then I'll be someone'. But you can literally change every part [of your life] so you seem perfect, which is destructive and brings on anxiety and depression ‘cos you're searching for happiness in the wrong place." According to recent studies, getting a like on Instagram, a retweet on Twitter or even just a plain old text releases a hit of dopamine in your brain. "I can see how that happens cos when I don't have wi-fi for a few days I get the heroin kicks," Oscar laughs. "It's fucking scary, but it's still cool. And things like virtual
reality are also a good argument for life after death - if you've got these goggles on and you're looking around at your body and you can't see it, but you're still conscious, that means you can exist without having to be tied to this human incarnation." If you think Sundara Karma's deep thinking starts and ends with religion you'd be wrong. Like others, they're influenced by classic acts like The Beach Boys, The Clash, The Cure and The Smiths (so much so they've even included a cheeky nod to Morrissey's old gang in 'She Said'), but their songs of love, death and navigating young adulthood also draw from more unexpected sources. The band have previously explained Plato's influence on 'Flame', the song's narrative inspired by the philosopher's The Allegory Of The Cave. In that story, a group of people are imprisoned in a cave from childhood, until one works out how to escape and steps out into the sun. There, he experiences a new reality and accumulates fresh knowledge about the world that, when taken back to the other prisoners in the cave, would cause violent reactions to the unknown and unfamiliar.
“WE HAVE MORE TO OFFER THAN THIS RECORD.” - OSCAR POLLOCK 'Lose The Feeling', which immediately follows on the record, is a continuation of the same tale. "It's kind of the stage after ['Flame'] when the dude's escaped the cave," Oscar explains. "It's about not wanting to lose that feeling of bliss you can get, especially from pills. Imagine if you had that feeling all the time. It would be incredible, but then would you not appreciate it, would you become accustomed to it? So maybe the lows are important too."
'Loveblood', meanwhile, picks up themes of fate from Oscar Wilde's Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, and 'Olympia' takes inspiration from the painting of a nude sex worker of the same name by French artist Édouard Manet. "I have an art app on my phone where you can see a different painting every day and 'Olympia' came up," says Oscar. "I liked that the look on the face of the woman was so dissatisfied. It was so endearing." From there, he invented a backstory of a man visiting a French madam who falls in love with him. "He's married with children and he's like 'fuck, I just come here for thrills and now she's fallen in love with me and I've fucked things up'." While the indie world is currently falling hard for 'Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect', Oscar himself is keen to point out that this is far from Sundara Karma's peak. "We have more to offer than this record," he says firmly. "I don't love any track on [this album]. I really look forward to getting the second album out and hopefully changing people's ideas of what we're about or showing people what more we can do." Before that can happen, though, there's the small matter of taking these songs on the road, including two dates at Alexandra Palace with Two Door Cinema Club this month. "Without sounding cocky, it just feels so fucking good walking out and seeing a sea of people," he says. "It definitely changes the dynamic of the show and the feeling you get. We've done a godawful amount of toilet tours, which absolutely have been the funnest days of our lives, but it's nice to be able to step it up for a bit. It's a fucking rush." Since last summer's announcement that The Maccabees were calling it a day, the Reading gang have been tipped as the band to fill the cavernous void they're leaving behind. Oscar's not so sure they are that band, though. "That's a big, big void to fill. I don't think we ever will [fill it]." Is that an uncharacteristic lack of selfbelief and ambition? Don't be so sure. "If 15-year-old me was told that people would be saying that about my band, I'd be like 'fuck off, no way, that's the coolest thing ever'. It would be nice to just kind of be our own thing, but you have to earn that." Odds are Sundara Karma will get there sooner rather than later. Sundara Karma’s debut album ‘Youth Is Only Fun In Retrospect’ is out now. DIY
More spooning here than your average cutlery drawer.
To make ‘Yout h Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospec t’, the band fle w off to Europe’s cit y of the mome nt , Berlin, and fu elled their se ssions with star sight ings and heav y metal evenin gs.
Oscar: “We saw Thom Yorke once, that was really cool. I was quite starstruck. He peered into my soul. He was locking up his bike and looked over at us and we were all gawping at him. He looked into my eyes and then carried on with his life.”
BERGHAIN (OR LACK OF) , but
hain “We wanted to go to Berg because we didn’t get the chance . It’s we were too busy working ause we probably for the best bec e got in probably wouldn’t hav have got or, if we did, we might pissed on.”
HEAVY METAL BARS
“It was kind of Groundhog Dayesque. We would go from the apartment to this deli for break fast and then to the studio. On our way back to where we were staying we’d go to this heavy metal rock bar. That was it for 10 days.”
LARRY HIBBIT T
“He was in a band called Hundred Reasons. We tried the first EP with him and ‘Loveblood’ just to see how it would go. He gave us some balls [sonically], which we really needed. We love pop music and a decent melody, but I think we needed to execute it in a way which had dirt to it and a rumble.”
here are the political bands?’, asks yer da, clutching a well-worn Billy Bragg LP / sporting a Rage Against the Machine t-shirt bought from HMV (delete as applicable).
Obviously what this wilfully ignorant parental unit should realise is that it’s harder to find a new artist not weaving their
dumb blood (Parlophone)
worldview through their art, directly or otherwise. Just take this very issue as case in point; whether it’s cover stars Run The Jewels’ balls-out call-outs, MUNA’s deliberate pronoun omissions, or huge swathes of UK indie teaming up in aid of the current refugee crisis, any arguments that today’s musicians have nothing to say are straight-up bullshit. VANT’s politics are smeared across the whole of ‘Dumb Blood’ - unsurprising really, given that the band’s debut is essentially a ‘best of’, and as anyone who’s born witness to the quartet’s incendiary live show will attest, their musical ferocity is easily matched by a lyrical one. “The world’s got a few problems…”
ON EVERY SINGLE COUNT, VANT HAVE NAILED IT. frontman Mattie Vant sings on ‘Fly-By Alien’, his interplanetary protagonist making somewhat of an understatement. “That species is a waste of space.”
Gun’ and ‘I Don’t Believe In God’, melody is king. Pity the fool who isn’t humming the word “guns” repeatedly after a single listen.
But that’s only half the story: it takes about a minute for vocals to kick in on opener ‘The Answer’ - a song referencing both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the one-sided nature of that so-called US-UK ‘special relationship’ - by which point the band’s riff-tastic credentials have already been well earned. There’s the frantic punk smash of ‘Parasite’, the Nirvana-esque ‘Lampoon’, the explosive ‘Parking Lot’ - all tracks with various messages, all fantastic songs without contemplating a single lyric. Even on the more straight-to-the-point ‘Put Down Your
None of that celebrated raw energy of VANT’s live presence is lost, either. ‘Peace and Love’ may sound infinitely more ‘grown up’ than its IRL setting, but it’s also more expansive. The false ending of ‘Headed For The Sun’, the quiet/loud dynamic of ‘Are We Free’, the appearance of what sounds suspiciously like an acoustic guitar on closer ‘Time and Money’; ‘Dumb Blood’ is an ambitious record too - and best of all, on every single count, VANT have nailed it. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Lampoon’, ‘Karma Seeker’ 65
LOYLE CARNER Yesterday’s Gone (AMF)
Rather than aiming for looming unwieldy concepts or sprawling universal narratives, ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ is a deeply personal debut record. Much of the action revolves around Loyle Carner’s Croydon home life and close personal relationships instead, with his mum (by now a celebrity fixture at his live shows) making several cameos along the way. Loyle’s other guest spots are conspicuously UK-based and close to home, too. There’s very little that’s showy about ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ for good reason; storytelling of this quality doesn’t need propping up with bells and whistles. Alongside his self-professed “surrogate brother”, and go-to beatmaker Rebel Kleff, Loyle Carner feeds twinkles of jazz, and slinking hints of soul into an eclectic instrumental hodge-podge, nodding more towards the carefully honed genre-clashing of Mos Def, J Dilla and Ol’ Dirty Bastard (the latter of whom gets a namecheck on ‘No CD’) than ego-swelling, blockbuster braggadocio. The universe of ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ might be a small one, but Loyle’s scope is far from a tighttt-knit bunch of arbitrary themes. Letting endless threads unravel, in vivid detail, this album might creep up on you gradually at first, but make no mistake, its creativity and poetry will floor you in time. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Damselfly (ft. Tom Misch), ‘Mean it in the Morning’, ‘The Isle of Arran’
eeee DIRTY PROJECTORS Dirty Projectors
Pitting the twinkling of a lounge piano against squelching burps of bass, bumble bee violins, and erm, a mangled sitar solo, to call ‘Dirty Projectors’ merely saturated is an abyss-sized understatement. Streets apart from the lush orchestration and globe-trotting ambition of 2012’s ‘Swing Lo Magellan,’ the follow-up swaps in natural brushstrokes for jagged, jarring slashes of opposing colours, and harsh colliding textures. Despite its constant aural shapeshifting, ‘Dirty Projectors’’ centre of gravity is clear. Tumbling out of a break-up, it’s a mechanical glitching puzzle of a record, and listening to it often feels vaguely disorienting. Making tentative steps towards healing, and slinging pain straight onto every verse, it’s refreshing to hear Dave writing without a distant concept to hide behind. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Death Spiral’ ‘Cool Your Heart’
WHAT THEY SAY...
“FOR ME THAT’S THE IDEA, TO MOVE SOMEONE.” 66 diymag.com
The Pace of the Passing (Island)
Each song on Ed Nash’s debut as Toothless is meant to be a still from a movie, which eventually reveals itself to be made up of interconnected events. Other than recognising a few astrological references here and there though, you could be forgiven for missing this. Not that this really matters. ‘The Pace Of The Passing’ is filled with intricate bursts of indie pop, sometimes embellishing its tracks with glassy percussion (‘Sisyphus’) or plucked strings (‘Palm’s Backside’). A wealth of guest vocalists, including Marika Hackman and Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming, also help to give an added sense of scale. But, in trying to represent a bigger picture, things do sometimes get overly complex; ‘You Thought I Was Your Friend (I Want To Hurt You)’ is a bit like listening to someone attempting to fit a round peg into a square hole. But while he might have occasionally bitten off a little more than he can chew, there’s still undeniably some moments with serious bite. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Sisyphus,’ ‘The Sirens’
eeee KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD Flying Microtonal Banana (Heavenly)
Let it never be said that King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard don’t work hard: ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’ is the Aussie psychgarage warlocks’ eighth album in five years. With several tracks clocking in at over seven minutes long, it can be dense in places, but is instrumentally rich and suitably psychedelic. Dizzying single ‘Rattlesnake’ sets the tone with a racing pulse of bass guitar, the band’s already unique style knocked even further off-kilter by instruments customised specifically for this record. The album is fantastical in its darkness, with layers of murmured vocal harmonies feeding into fuzz-leaden guitar parts and wailing flute melodies. The title track is a shimmering affair built around a blasting chorus of Turkish horns and backed by a beat that would not be out of place in a Donkey Kong game. After the intensity of the rest of the album it almost seems like a flight of fancy. But as the closing track it’s a tidy picture of the album at large – rich, imaginative, and more than a little strange. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Rattlesnake’
eeee CLOUD NOTHINGS
Life Without Sound (Wichita)
Cloud Nothings have always been a band to relish in their DIY credentials. ‘Here and Nowhere Else’, the band’s third studio album, was a clattering, abrasive affair, drenched in inherent lo-fi fuzz, and recorded whenever their heavy touring schedule allowed. It’s for that reason that its follow-up comes as somewhat as a surprise. Written and pieced together over the course of a year, ‘Life Without Sound’ feels far more considered than anything preceding it. Ever a band with a penchant for melody, here it’s more realised than ever before; the likes of ‘Internal World’ and ‘Sight Unseen’ flourishing as a result. As such, the band’s trademark fuzz is reined in almost completely. Where Cloud Nothings’ early records seemed racked with neuroses and post-teen angst, ‘Life Without Sound’ feels more confident, the songs themselves coming from a more positive position. “Saw what I’d done and who I’d been/I wasn’t comfortable with me”, Dylan Baldi admits on ‘Things Are Right With You’. It’s a bold admission but it comes from a better place, something that’s evident across ‘Life Without Sound’ as a whole. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ’Darkened Rings’
Big Balloon (Memphis Industries)
If you’re used to Dutch Uncles producing tunes heavy with strings and synths, prepare to be surprised: fifth album ‘Big Balloon’ is something of a trip back into the left-field, tricky rock they were making at the start of the decade. Well, with a few techno flourishes and even more witty lyrics about austerity, therapy, David Bowie’s brain and fried chicken thrown in. The meaty, nagging guitars and pounding drums of the energetic title track alone should be enough to convince anyone that this move is indeed A Good Thing. If not, then the almost krautrock licks and singer Duncan Wallis’ invigorated performance on ‘Same Plane Dream’, or the combination of indie riffs and reverberating Europop electronics found on ‘Streetlight’ almost certainly will. Then there’s ‘Oh Yeah’, sounding like what would happen if Devo set about trying to make a bona fide chart hit. Sure, there’s fewer marimbas on offer here, but Dutch Uncles have still served up a finger-lickin’ feast. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Baskin’, ‘Same Plane Dream’
MENACE BEACH Lemon Memory (Memphis Industries)
eee DAMS OF THE WEST Youngish American
This solo debut from Vampire Weekend drummer Chris Tomson is another send up of the state of the USA in 2016. What elevates it above the scores of similar fare is his penchant for vivid lyrics, lush melodies, and the Americana influences that fuel the pounding instrumentation. His probing doesn’t always work quite so well though. The central question of ‘Flag on the Can’, “When I drink a Bud Light do I love America? / Or only when there’s a flag on the can?” comes off a bit like two high college kids shooting the breeze at 3am. With some more reps as a solo act he’ll be able to make a record that matches his clearly massive ambitions. (Grant Rindner) LISTEN: ‘Pretty Good WiFi’
eee SUMMER MOON With You Tonight
Nikolai Fraiture may insist “I’m tired of this neighbourhood”, but The Strokes bassist’s debut with new outfit Summer Moon is truly a New York affair. ‘With You Tonight’ is a record blessed with inspired guitar licks, sumptuous melodies and a surprisingly accomplished vocal performance to boot. The title track is a fantastic earworm of a track that sees Nikolai channel his inner David Byrne over a fruity guitar-lead that recalls his day job’s ‘Machu Picchu’. There are a few duds thrown into the pack – closing pair ‘Into The Sun’ and ‘Walk Out Music’ offer little of interest and ensure the record goes out with something of a whimper – but there’s enough on ‘With You Tonight’ to suggest Summer Moon might gather something of a cult following. (Dan Jeakins) LISTEN: ‘With You Tonight’ 68 diymag.com
When Menace Beach first popped their head above the parapet, focus tended to fall on their indie ‘supergroup’ status. But with focus now firmly switched to lynchpins and co-vocalists Ryan Needham and Liza Violet, Menace Beach have evolved into a far more complex beast. At its heaviest, ‘Lemon Memory’ is as punishing and bombastic as anything Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have put their name to. Opener ‘Give Blood’, with its singsong lyrics about death and life and fizzing riffs, might be a fairly straightforward exercise in fuzz, but it’s promptly followed up by the wonky, Liza-led stomp of ‘Maybe We’ll Drown’. Closer ‘Hexbreaker II’ begins sparse and reverb-heavy before imploding into a metered, quietly epic finale that Thurston Moore wouldn’t kick you out of bed for. ‘Lemon Memory’ shows a band unencumbered by the constraints of genre or even their own musical history. Menace Beach aren’t a supergroup, they’re just a really, really super group. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Can’t Get A Haircut’, ‘Maybe We’ll Drown’
Ibiza, ghosts and a whole heap of citrus fruits, Cady Siregar got the ‘juice’ behind ‘Lemon Memory’. The lemon theme of your new record stems from your house being struck with an evil citrus-based curse. Explain. Liza: The curse was, like, a lemon. On our house in the Midlands. It was actually an old house. So we got out of there before the curse was lifted. Hopefully we’ve done it some good, for whoever lives there now. We read something about the curse thing and then kind of remembered back to it, finding this bag of lemons in our old house. Ryan: And we were like, what if that was real? L: It was just a starting point for ideas, really.
L: I think we just tried to even it out a little bit more. My vocals were always underneath Ryan’s. I kind of wrote more on this one from the start. I was just having more of a creative time. Ryan’s the pop, structure guy. I’m more the texture person. R: We sing in totally different keys. Our voices sound better in certain places. I’ve got quite a nasally, squeaky voice. L: And I’ve got a really high-pitched singing voice!
What’s your songwriting partnership approach like on the new record? R: Liza’s a little bit more left-field. I think the more garage-y stuff comes from me. Cause I kind of just write basic songs, and then when it does kind of While ‘Ratworld’ was more of a Ryan- start going out there a bit, that’s usually focused album, ‘Lemon Memory’ is Liza’s influence. And well, she’s… she more Liza-centric. What caused the loves the weirdness. shift? L: I love the weirdness.
Migration (Ninja Tune)
There may be fresh jewels to add to the Bonobo repertoire on this sixth album, but on the whole ‘Migration’ feels like a sideward step. There’s a stylistic consistency with both ‘Black Sands’ and ‘The North Borders’ that feels all too static for an artist of Bonobo’s calibre. ‘Grains’ and ‘Second Sun’ – the album’s more delicate points – veer into feeling more directionless than they do subtle, while ‘Surface’ and ‘Ontario’ don’t carry the same depth of ideas as their cousins on his previous records. For an album centred on migration – inspired by the many people, places and things he’s has experienced over the past three years – you’d hope there’d be more new ideas injected here. As it is however, ‘Migration’ feels disappointingly close to home. (Liam McNeilly) LISTEN: ‘Migration’
eeee PISSED JEANS
Why Love Now (Sub Pop)
On their fifth LP, Philadelphia’s Pissed Jeans cast their holy rage upon the irritating banalities that we face day-to-day, but ‘Why Love Now’ truly comes to life when the band uses their punishing sound to explore the absurdity of modern masculinity. ‘I’m a Man’, the album’s centrepiece, features a roaring extended breakdown from the band and a spoken word showcase from author Lindsay Hunter, who drops more than a few cringe-worthy lines on her way to lambasting the beerswilling, sex-obsessed male chafing against the drudgery of office life. It’s a squirm-inducing listen, somehow managing to be the least subtle moment on a record that doesn’t have any time for subtlety. There’s a united sense of purpose on ‘Why Love Now’, an LP committed to the common cause of rallying against the kind of masculinity that it seems absurd we still need to oppose in 2017. (Grant Rindner) LISTEN: ‘I’m A Man’
RUN THE JEWELS
Run The Jewels 3 (Run the Jewels Ltd)
‘Run The Jewels 3’ is a ludicrously consistent assault of an album. El-P lays out intricate lectures and monologues, while Killer Mike brings the bombast of the car park fight club champion, each pairing lyrical dexterity with headline statement. It’s their most assured album yet, El-P’s production shining throughout, as the standout flows and hooks unite each track with an unmatched quality and intensity. It’s a straight up cliff face of sheer imposing quality - as if looking up from the little stream in the Grand Canyon with two towering, unscalable natural wonders either side of you.
‘Talk To Me’ is the best advert for the sample driven urgency of the duo while ‘Thieves! (Screamed The Ghost)’ packs the emotional, tender sobriety in abundance. Ever since Mike and El barged into a club occupied by the most culturally relevant acts in music they’ve upped the ante, the intensity, smashed a bottle in half and taken it to the necks of the industry. They’ve even snatched the diamond-encrusted chain; just to send a message. More so than any time in decades 2017 looks set to be a year to see countless fists in the air, the best hope is there’s a two-fingered pistol pointing straight back from the other hand. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘Talk To Me’, ‘Thieves! (Screamed The Ghost)’
A STRAIGHT UP CLIFF FACE OF SHEER QUALITY 69
Gareth Campesinos! reveals the band’s stereo staples during the making of ‘Sick Scenes’.
Why? - ‘Almost Live from Eli’s Live Room’ Why? are one of the few bands that the seven of us all love. ‘Elephant Eyelash’ and ‘Alopecia’ are considered the man’s best work by most, so this being live recordings of both those albums means it’s stone cold greatness. Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds - ‘Three Lions’ and ‘3 Lions ’98’ We recorded the album during the course of the Euros. Ultimately this was fantastic as it meant being in Portugal to see them lift the trophy. Within seconds of the full-time whistle the streets were packed with music, dancing and flares. The likelihood being that I’ll never experience that with England, I’ll cherish those memories. PRGz - ‘Fear & Loathing in HuntsVegas’ Paper Route Gangstaz are a rap crew from Alabama that I know little about despite having loved this mixtape for years. This slowed down, screwed up rap-pop perfectly suited the sweltering Fridão heat, offering cheap kicks from sampling the likes of ‘Born Slippy’, ‘Say It Ain’t So’ and ‘Careless Whisper’. 70 diymag.com
LOS CAMPESINOS! Sick Scenes
There’s a certain type of person that Los Campesinos! have carved out a voice for since first breaking through over a decade ago. They’re the ones who approach life with a wry smile and consolatory pint down the local, knowing in the back of their minds that they and everyone they love will eventually die. If that all sounds unbearably bleak, then fear not – the band’s other trick has always been to cloak said miserabilia in the kind of fidgety hooks made if not for radio, then at least for pumping very loudly from your bedroom speakers in cathartic fashion. And their familiar framework of finding humour in despair is one that translates well to the various trials of growing up. A quick glance even through ‘Sick Scenes’’ titles is like a deadpan symptom list of approaching middle age: ‘For Whom The Belly Tolls’, ‘5 Flucloxacillin’, ‘Here’s To The Fourth Time!’. While ‘Sick Scenes’ is a record that questions its authors’ places in the world in tandem, it’s also one that shows that, for as long as they’re here, Los Campesinos! will always be able to express a certain character type better than most. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘I Broke Up In Amarante’
eee SACRED PAWS
Strike A Match (Rock Action)
If you thought you didn’t need a record in your life that channels Hot Club De Paris let loose at a carnival, think again. Sacred Paws – comprised of Rachel Agg from Shopping and Trash Kit, and Eilidh Rodgers of the now defunct Golden Grrrls – write bright-eyed tunes served sunny-side up. Their debut ‘Strike A Match’ hits a chipper stride, and never really strays, but a deft handling of darker moments suggests further unlocked potential. (El Hunt) Listen to: ‘Empty Body’ ‘Getting Old’
ee THE FLAMING LIPS Oczy Mlody (Bella Union)
There are some genuinely awe-inspiring instrumental moments on ‘Oczy Mlody’, but this fourteenth album from Wayne Coyne and co is rarely as satisfying as it is strange. And lyrically it’s a baffling mystery. There’s little resembling a hook – and while the days of chart-bound Flaming Lips singles are long gone, ‘Oczy Mlody’ is a record crying out for a few big pop moments. 2013’s ‘The Terror’ felt like a focused collection of largely ambient, experimental rock – sadly, this follow-up lacks this sense of direction, and without any of the band’s signature flamboyance to fall back on, it makes for a dull listen. (Dan Jeakins) LISTEN: ‘Galaxy I Sink’
ee CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH The Tourist (Undertow)
Immaculately produced – it is the cleanest Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album yet – and full of the main man Alec Ounswourth’s trademark yowl, ‘The Tourist’ represents only a limited sort of journey. Alec seems newly interested in the shape of his lyrics, often putting words together in rapid-fire, delivery, like the crackling aside “tough luck motherfucker” on ‘A Chance To Cure,’ just for the sound of it. Elsewhere, he grows conservative and derivative, such as on the wide-open, Tom Pettyindebted ‘Better Off’. On ‘Ambulance Chaser,’ he sings, “I’ll take my medicine, you just hope for the worst.” ‘The Tourist’ isn’t ‘the worst’, but it it’s far from the journey its designer hopes it to be. (Grant Rindner) LISTEN: ‘Ambulance Chaser’
eee LOWER THAN ATLANTIS
Safe In Sound (Easy Life)
Looking back on the evolution of Lower Than Atlantis over the past decade, there’s no doubting that they’ve become a wholly different beast. With ‘Safe in Sound’, the quartet have continued their growth – using their previous self-titled record as a blueprint – to create some of their most universal songs so far. The likes of ‘Had Enough’ come packed with supercharged guitars while ‘Long Time Coming’ is anthemic in its own right. But, despite how far they’ve come, there’s still a bit of a way to go before they dominate the mainstream entirely. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN ‘Could Be Worse’
eee ALLISON CRUTCHFIELD Tourist In This Town
Written over years on the road and recorded in just a week in Philadelphia, on her debut Allison Crutchfield paints an ever shifting landscape of the towns, emotions and anxieties that made up her youth. Huge chunks of the record feel warmly familiar, with hints of past projects dancing into view on meatier numbers like ‘Dean’s Room’ and ‘The Marriage’ while the likes of ‘I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California’ and opener ‘Broad Daylight’ are more stripped-back. And lyrically, ‘Tourist In This Town’ is a triumph. As with any Crutchfield record, Allison or otherwise, ‘Tourist In This Town’’s ability to capture feelings of alienation while remaining devastatingly relatable allows the record to get under your skin in ways that only a Crutchfield can. (Henry Boon) LISTEN: ‘I Don’t Wanna Leave California’
eeee TALL SHIPS
For Tall Ships fans it feels like an eternity since the release of 2012’s ‘Everything Touching’, while debut EP ‘There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here’ is but a footnote in history at this point. It’s not just time though that distances Tall Ships from these past releases; like the gutsy underdog in a 80s action flick, Tall Ships have spent the last five years in a perpetual training montage, emerging as a stronger, more evolved group. The Brighton four-piece’s math-rock past does still linger,, complex and ever-shifting time signatures giving otherwise simple numbers like ‘Will To Life’ and ‘Meditation’s On Loss’ intrigue and life while big choruses and distinctive riffs keep them leaning back toward the centre field. In 2017, Tall Ships are shouting loud for the world to hear. (Henry Boon) LISTEN: ‘Meditations On Loss’
Austra have been critical darlings since the release of debut ‘Feel It Break’ in 2011, and this third effort may very well be their strongest fulllength to date. The instrumentation, which mostly consists of dense, melancholy electronic beats, could perhaps be deemed a little limited in scope, but on the most part, that only serves to highlight Katie Stelmanis’ exceptional vocals, which consistently tug at the heartstrings. Lyrically the album is thought-provoking throughout, the emotion of each song beautifully expressed. In short, the Canadian four-piece’s third LP is a terrific fusion of indie, new-wave and house that demands attention. (Dan Jeakins) LISTEN: ’43’
About U (RCA)
Melding slick production with arresting honesty, ‘About U’ is a very human record. Often Katie Gavin airs her certified twat-moves in real time. But this is also an album that forgives past mistakes. The euphoric ‘Loudspeaker’ - think ‘The Greatest Love of All’ on pingers - proves a highlight. As our beloved philosopher Ronan Keating once observed, life is a rollercoaster, and this is an album that captures soaring highs and plunging lows alike. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Loudspeaker’ ‘After’ 71
There’s a parallel to be drawn between the globetrotting tour schedule that followed SOHN’s breakout ‘Tremors’ in 2014, and the frantic sense of adventure that defined his debut. With effects pulling sounds in each and every direction, tightly looped samples and vocal gymnastics, it was an attention-grabbing introduction. For the most part, he pulled it off. On ‘Rennen’, he takes a step back from the intensity of life that ensued following his debut, favouring isolation when sitting down to pen its follow up. The results create a spectrum that spans from stunning to forgettable. The expressive ‘Harbour’ demonstrates that his invention hasn’t dimmed nor have his horizons shrunk, with ‘Primary’ working its magic to the same effect. Yet for its dazzling moments, ‘Rennen’ suffers from passages that lack such vitality or poignancy; the arc of ‘Conrad’ feeling predictable, the development of ‘Falling’ altogether laboured. (Liam McNeilly) LISTEN: ‘Harbour’
eeee TY SEGALL Ty Segall
On this ninth album, Ty Segall is happy to poke his head up from under the surface of the fuzzy, hazy sludge he’s been swimming so artfully in until now. This stripped-back approach exposes the vulnerabilities of the man, while also bringing to the exterior the charm of a laissez-faire, psych icon. Sure, some verses sound like they were written in the back of a taxi to the airport for a flight he forgot about, but Ty still manages to thrash out the guitar jams he’s best known for. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)’
eee SHOCK MACHINE Shock Machine
The shadow of Klaxons looms so heavy over the space age synths and shimmery pop hooks here that ‘Shock Machine’ doesn’t ever really feel like something new. When you’ve been involved in scenestarting band, it’s no easy thing to emerge from its bubble as a new entity. And fuck it, maybe it doesn’t even really matter if you can’t. But at the moment, Shock Machine aren’t quite there. Less MDMA-zing, more just... coke-ay? (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Unlimited Love’ 72 diymag.com
Q&A SOHN goes ohn the record about his new album. Interview: Will Richards. You’ve moved from Vienna to Los Angeles - that’s a bit of a change! Indeed! About two years ago, at the end of the big tour for the first album, I found myself back in Vienna, renting a small apartment from a friend, and then realised that in the four months I rented it, I’d only been there for four nights, and wanted a change. Everything is different here, and that absolutely fed into the album. Then you had your little ‘cabin in the woods’ moment, right? I went up to a friend’s house in Northern California for a month with the definite idea of wanting to spend a month alone to see if there were any songs with me. The atmosphere was great and I started using the room itself as an instrument, and it all went a bit far and I ended up hitting the walls and stuff. Was the idea of changing and adapting from your first record important? Absolutely. You don’t want to stagnate and be the same guy for your whole career. It’s like being an actor - you can just play the villain again, and become known for that, or try something new and adapt.
FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES Modern Ruin (International Death Cult)
Anyone familiar with the musical projects of Frank Carter will know he’s not someone to do things by half. Whether that’s the wide-eyed frenzy of his live shows, or his impeccably tailored floral suit, he is – and will probably always be – iconic in his own right. With his latest record, his second with his fellow Rattlesnakes, he’s built upon the fraught viciousness captured in ‘Blossom’ and is intent on casting a wider spell. Have no fear, there’s still the snarling claustrophobia of his solo debut – best displayed in the blistering ‘Jackals’ – but he’s showing off more than just his post-hardcore talents here. ‘Thunder’ sees him darkly crooning, while ‘Wild Flowers’ is a – comparatively - lighter affair. With ‘Modern Ruin’, Frank Carter has managed to navigate both sides of his world and blend them together to create a gorgeous catharsis. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN ‘Modern Ruin’, ‘Neon Rust’
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD WITH FRANK CARTER
Can you draw where you recorded ‘Modern Ruin’?
What do the Modern Ruins look like?
eeee The xx
I See You
Granted, you won’t have been able to avoid this one if you’ve opened your eyes at all through Jan, but the three musketeers defo went all for it on their third LP.
With The Strokes’ floppy-haired axeman in front of the mic, and QOTSA main brain Joshua Homme behind the knobs, CRX’s debut was always gonna be great - but ‘New Skin’ proved them no mere sideproject.
If this album was a mythical beast or monster, how would it look?
What did the inside of your brain look like while you were making this record?
Missed the boat on the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
What’s your favourite flower, out of all the ‘Wild Flowers’.
Honeyblood Babes Never Die
It’s amps to eleven the whole way as the duo thrash their way through their joyously pop-punk second album. 73
SAMPHA Process (Young Turks)
‘Process’ is a debut born from a sustained period of growth, discovery and reflection. While his artistic development has been aided through his willingness to work with others, it’s a schedule that’s seen his own projects given less priority. At home, the illness and subsequent passing of his mother in September 2015 saw him move back to the family home to care for her. From these experiences comes ‘Process’, a debut bursting with ideas. It’s an album that conveys immense depth of feeling, while remaining resoundingly clear in thought – the sound of an artist finally seizing a unique space of his own. (Liam McNeilly) LISTEN: ‘Like The Piano’
eee SURFER BLOOD
(Joyful Noise / Secretly Canadian)
As their first record since the passing of guitarist Thomas Fekete, ‘Snowdonia’ marks a difficult crossroads in Surfer Blood’s story. Frontman John Paul Pitts grapples with this on ‘Six Flags in F or G’, the bass-driven single that sees him attempt to make sense of the loss of his friend. Closer ‘Carrier Pigeon’ is just as emotionally fraught. After a difficult few years, ‘Snowdonia’ proves that a steady hand and a playful surf-rock riff has seen Surfer Blood through the darkness and out the other side. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Six Flags in F or G’
Change of State (Sinderlyn)
While the lyrics deal with liberty, ‘Change of State’ was recorded on an 8-track in a home studio, Novella being careful to keep things uncomplicated. In some cases, like on the hazy ‘Side By Side’, this has led the band to find beauty in simplicity. In others, it has backed them into a corner. ‘Elements’, ‘A Thousand Feet’ and ‘Come In’ feel like they are on the verge of something but haven’t quite arrived. Novella’s vocal harmonies and sun-drenched aesthetic work in their favour in many ways, and ‘Change of State’ is an introspective listen, but in this case the band’s psych-pop could have used the space to run. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Change of State’
.......UP C O M I N G 74 diymag.com
LAURA MARLING Semper Femina
Returning with yet more plugged-in sounds than even her last - and a lot of latex by the looks of it - Laura’s sixth (!) LP is out 10th March.
CIRCA WAVES Different Creatures
Darker, heavier, or even “big and bold” as frontman Kieran puts it, Circa Waves follow-up that all-explosive debut on 10th March.
CREEPER Eternity, In Your Arms
After a lot of guessing-games, Southampton’s cheeriest goths are finally releasing a proper full-length on 24th March. Expect lots of black.
eee MEAT WAVE
The Incessant (Big Scary
Meat Wave’s previous releases have doled out judgements on society and the state of the world, but on ‘The Incessant’, frontman Chris Sutter has turned his focus inwards. It’s a brutally honest record, the product of a catastrophic breakup and near breakdown. Album opener ‘To Be Swayed’ deals with indecisiveness and the impulse to run, its sharp riffs rapid as a panicked heartbeat. ‘Bad Man’ and ‘Run You Out’ are similarly selfeviscerating, while final track ‘Killing The Incessant’ ends the album on a defiant note, as Chris kills off his anxiety and comes to terms with his own perceived flaws. ‘The Incessant’ marks a turning point, as Meat Wave tackle their demons head on. LISTEN: ‘To Be Swayed’ (Liam Konemann)
eeee NINE INCH NAILS
Not The Actual Events EP
(The Null Corporation)
Atticus Ross is named as a formal member of Nine Inch Nails for ‘Not the Actual Events’, and his influence is felt in the viscous enveloping of sound of ‘She’s Gone Away’, a grinding behemoth of a song where Trent Reznor’s vocals are frequently met with a gargantuan metallic squall, as if he’s in call-and-response with a robot god. It harks back to the rusted textures of ‘The Fragile’ on an EP that echoes the inferno excess of 90s Nine Inch Nails more than expected. The descent continues to a point, ‘Burning Bright (Field on Fire)’, where even Trent may not have ventured to before – a submerged, drowning sensation of a near-shoegaze swamp. He may even finally have written the perfect opposite to set-closing classic ‘Hurt’ - it may be the best, most empowering chorus he ever wrote. This isn’t a postcard of a legendary past, its a battlecry for something truly epic to come. (Matthew Davies) LISTEN: ‘She’s Gone Away’
Mattyâ€™s Jess Glynne impression was going down a treat.
WE LIKE IT WHEN THE 1975 PLAY THE O2 ARENA BECAUSE THEY ARE SO EXTRAVAGANT, YET SO AWARE OF IT. 76 diymag.com
n 2016, The 1975 demonstrated themselves as one of the most exciting acts around. And if any doubt remains as to the power they possess, at the first of two nights at London’s O2 Arena the band showcase just how much of a force they really are.
O2 Arena, London. Photos: Phoebe Fox
With a repertoire of pop bangers and breakaway hits at their disposal, the band take to the stage primed to party. While opening act and fellow Dirty Hit signee The Japanese House finds her element in the subtle nuances between light and shadow, The 1975 revel in their own extravagance. Stage lights glow with all the strength of a thriving metropolis, blocks lit up like skyscrapers, transforming into rotating prisms of light and back again. Dressed in a suit and slippers with glass of wine in hand, greeting the room with a shout of “fuck me,” frontman Matty Healy is a rock star for the pop generation - and the crowd lap up his every movement. The set itself is bonafide bangers from start to finish: from the excitement of openers ‘Love Me’ and ‘URG’ through early EP favourites like ‘Undo’ and beyond, every song is treated like a favourite. Whether it’s the intricate enchantment of ‘Paris’, the soaring romanticism of ‘Loving Someone’, the all out dance-a-long of ‘She’s American’, or something else entirely, it’s a set purpose-built to gratify everyone in the room. Throughout the remainder of the evening, phone lights dotted across the venue sway as one, twinkling and glimmering with the same majesty that the band themselves bask in. “Playing songs that you played in your bedroom in here is a trip,” Matty proclaims in a rare moment of silence. Tonight, The 1975 manage to not only exhibit their prowess, but manifest their ambition too. Announcing their intent to “go away and make another record,” - while the world outside may be causing us to constantly question things - for just a few hours the band make the future shine as bright as the gleaming lights that hover around them. (Jessica Goodman)
Tatt’s the way to do it: The O2 was jampacked with inked 1975 fans.
SPIFFY BIFFY (+ QUITE OLD BRAND NEW) Biffy Clyro + Brand New
O2 Arena, London. Photo: Emma Swann
he idea that - over fifteen years into their career, seven years since their last record – Brand New can still return to the UK for an arena support slot could be read as a bit of a bizarre move from the band. Then again, when it comes to the Long Island quartet, nothing is really that unusual. Instead, their early evening set (their 7.15pm stage time causing a frenzy among their London fans) at the O2 Arena is strangely perfect. Despite the cavernous surroundings, their followers have turned up in droves and there’s an intensity in the air as they blitz through tracks predominantly taken from their decade-old ‘The Devil and God...’ that cuts through the huge space. The likes of ‘Luca’ and ‘You Won’t Know’ sear into explosive, gorgeous life. Then, almost as suddenly as they appeared they’re gone, leaving behind a squalling wall of feedback and the insatiable need for more. Tonight’s headliners, however, are here to entertain fully. Since their last stint in this room, Biffy Clyro have gone from strength to strength and their set this evening is a celebration of that very fact. After all, a staggering two hour stage time would, frankly, scare the shit out of most artists worth their salt, but here, the trio take it in their stride. With a stage show that’d force a tear from even the toughest of festival bookers, there’s no doubting their ability to enthral the masses. What’s even more remarkable is that, despite airing a huge twenty seven tracks, their show never once feels tired or drifts off into obscurity. ‘Machines’ is still heartbreaking, ‘Mountains’ remains a soaring classic and their newer numbers are vital additions to the set. Not too shabby, Biffy. Not too shabby at all. (Sarah Jamieson)
The noisy Brummies are back with a bite.
Tufnell Park Dome, London. Photos: Carolina Faruolo
n the two short years between debut ‘Be Slowly’ and its follow up ‘Simplicity’, JAWS have matured tenfold. The gaps left; the missing depth of lyrics, the occasionally naff synth lines, the marks of a band looking to find their feet have all been filled. ‘Simplicity’ is anything but simple - and in the live arena it shines even more brightly. Where ‘Simplicity’ on record is neat and richly produced, live, it’s free to let its hair down a little. Frontman Connor Schofield lets steady guitar lines tug at the leash, roaring and manoeuvring outside their boundaries to create a bigger sound. The packed-out crowd respond accordingly by pogoing London’s The Dome into oblivion; more than a few gleeful teens elude tonight’s security staff and tumble one after another from the stage. JAWS aren’t yet complete. Forgivably, they still have work to do on finding their groove in its entirety, finding an identity to call their own and tying together what is now a slight hodgepodge of material that sounds great but isn’t always entirely unique to JAWS. The times when they’re at their most confident though aren’t only captivating and powerful for now but also offer a glimpse into the future of a band with the capability to transform into something massive live. (Henry Boon)
The road to ‘ruin’. Or just Camden High Street. The Julie Ruin
KOKO, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
t most other gigs, between-song speeches of this length would be met with a chorus of murmurs, at the very least. But this time it’s Kathleen Hanna doing the talking, so instead Koko is transfixed on the speaker’s every word, the stage acting as pulpit, the crowd fulfilling a congregational role. It’s unintentional, of course; her stories of industry doublestandards, parental abuse, and even a brief, unsuccessful attempt at vaping intend to serve as song introductions, but the pin-drop atmosphere between The Julie Ruin’s tunepacked B-52s-indebted rock ’n’ roll bangers is undeniably odd - even more when the biggest reaction of the - bar that for euphoric inevitable throwback closer ‘Rebel Girl’ - is saved for a cover of Courtney Barnett’s ‘Pedestrian At Best’. A shame, undoubtedly. A surprise, not so much; few could claim the majority of this notably older crowd is here for anything other than nostalgia’s sake. (Emma Swann) 79
The Courtyard, London. Photo: Carolina Faruolo
n last year’s five-star-rated‘A Dream Outside’ debut, Gengahr walked a tightrope between two opposite worlds. One was the razor-toothed, pedal-stacked melee of John Victor’s guitar parts, the other a honey-glazed dose of sweetness from frontman Felix Bushe’s falsetto. Live, these elements always tended to join as one; light and dark finding a neat compromise. But for all its heroics, there were moments on the debut which deserved to be louder and more sinister, as hinted in ‘Heroine’’s gnarly coda and the hyperactive, metallic ‘Dark Star’. London’s Courtyard Theatre tonight finds Gengahr roadtesting material from an upcoming second album. ‘Carrion’ is a dark, driven glimpse of what to expect, with Felix’s vocals switching into a more ominous, lower register. Set opener ‘Mallory’ is a fan favourite in waiting, sky-bound melodies being front and centre. What’s most impressive is how older numbers are given added depth. ‘Heroine’ especially sounds monstrous, even in this cavernous, plain space. The group’s steady ascent - from endless support slots to big venues of their own - has always been a pleasure to witness, but more than ever they look like a band on the up. (Jamie Milton)
UK indie teams up in aid of charity Help Refugees. Bands4Refugees Kamio, London. Photos: Emma Swann.
he brainchild of Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell, members of Black Honey, The Vaccines, Swim Deep, Peace and more teamed up as The Various Legends Cover Band in aid of the massive refugee crisis that the world is currently facing, all proceeds going to Help Refugees. There’s a pure fun-filled ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ from Ellie and Black Honey’s Izzy and Bloody Knees’ take on Five’s ‘Keep On Movin’ plus a particularly noteworthy cover of Estelle and Kanye West’s ‘American Boy’ by Swim Deep’s Austin and Superfood’s Ryan. Other selections go down a particularly romantic route, fitting given the organisation’s ‘Choose Love’ message; Spector’s Fred Macpherson opens up with a heartfelt cover of Robbie Williams’ ‘Feel’, while “king of indie rock” Justin Vaccines gets fully into character, donning shades to cover Roy Orbison’s ‘You Got It’. Then there’s Izzy’s dramatic take on The Cardigans’ ‘My Favourite Game’, a powerful ‘Jolene’ by Dream Wife’s Rakel, not to mention Ellie storming on stage, beanie-clad for a blistering ‘Sabotage’ - not stopping to check lyrics even once. The final two tracks were perhaps the most fitting, however, a Harry Koisser-fronted rabble performing The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’ and then everyone taking to the stage for a killer finale of George Michael’s ‘Freedom’. An incredible set that sees pretty much the whole of UK indie come together, have tons of fun and raise both awareness and money for a great cause. (Samantha Daly)
LI VE NoOdling . Londoners get deep, deep down at London ‘comeback’.
The Garage, Glasgow. Photo: Sinéad Grainger.
horde of Against Me! fans raise their hands and scream. It’s the opening riffs of ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’, and Laura Jane Grace is already smothered in sweat. She can’t wipe the smile off her face.
Amazing Grace, how sweaty the room...
There’s a feeling that tonight is, in part, a political rally as well as she beams, “You know, my favourite thing about touring the UK right now is that I can say with 100% certainty that no one in this room voted for Donald Trump.” The audience explodes in approval as they launch into ‘Baby, I’m An Anarchist’. Tonight isn’t all about Against Me! making stances though. They’re here to throw a party, and that they know how to do very well. Whether it’s by tearing out songs from their back catalogue such as ‘Pints of Guinness Make You Strong’ and ‘Trash Unreal’, or whipping up a frenzy with some newer material, they prove they know how to make Glasgow move. (Danielle Wilson)
VANT + Partybaby Scala, London. Photos: Robin Pope.
ello, we’re VANT, and we’re from Planet Earth,” introduces Mattie Vant about midway through his band’s Scala headline slot. “And I think it’s fair to say that this is our favourite gig yet.” It’s a massive 18-song set, each song an exhilarating, blood-pumping punk thriller. The quartet’s performance is filled with past and current favourites, and they make sure to tease new material pulled directly ahead of their full-length album. The almighty PARTYBABY set the scene of the exhilarating evening. The California band’s sweet, fuzzy garage-pop is the perfect segue into VANT’s hard-hitting sound. Having released stellar debut ‘The Golden Age of Bullshit’ a few months ago, the group power recklessly through riotous crowd-pleasers. It’s not long before frontman Jamie Reed finds himself cruising atop the adoring hands of the Scala crowd, and signature anthem ‘California’ – a tune about running away from home and starting a band – is only one moment of a never-ending reel of highlights across the night. VANT open their headline set with ‘The Answer’, Mattie and co powering through about six or seven tracks without as much of a pause or a break. This is a band on a rapid upswing, ascending at lightning speed, and the world will have to do their bit to be able to keep up. (Cady Siregar) REFUSED
Just a bit of VANT-er… er…
LI VE 81
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It’s Your Round
Magic Gang Paeris, The isingly cheap”) Cost: €2.50 (“surpr Drink: Heineken 2017 ic on ros Eu e, Pub: Artist Villag
Chosen subject: Southampton FC
What was Southampton FC’s original name? Is it St. Mary’s YMA? Correct.
Who is Southampton’s all-time top goalscorer? Mick Shannon. Correct.
Who did Southampton beat in the FA Cup Final 1976? [Before we’ve even finished asking the question] Manchester United! Correct.
Which player scored the last ever competitive goal at Southampton’s old ground, The Dell at the end of the 2000/2001 season? It was none other than Matt Le Tissier. Correct.
What was the score when Southampton lost to Nottingham Forest in the 1979 Football League Cup Final? It was 3-2 to Nottingham Forest. Correct.
General Knowledge What is the name of Moe’s pet cat in The Simpsons? Oh shit. You know what… no idea. Fuck. Wrong. Mr Snookums Never in a million years… Who was Radio 1’s first female DJ? Oh god. Do you guys know that? I wanna say, what, Edith Bowman? Wrong. Annie Nightingale. Oh shit. What is the national animal of Canada? Dunno, a bear? Wrong. It’s the beaver. Ah fuck.
Which famous musician died on 11th May 1981? Ian Curtis? Wrong. Bob Marley. Fuck. On a Sunday in Florida, what is it illegal for a single woman to do? Are there no options, do I just have to make something up? Be alone? Wrong. Parachute. Really? OK, why, what’s wrong with that?!
SCORE 5/10 While he’s a veritable genius when it comes to that football team of his, our Paeris’ general knowledge performance was woeful. Verdict: ‘Alright’.
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