plus tegan and sara mac demarco spring king BIG DEAL
set setmusic musicfree free free free//issue issue52 52//june june2016 2016 diymag.com diymag.com
A slice of ‘Paradise’
“F**k you, we’re gonna do what we want to do”
B STILLE WORLD EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Mishaps, mayhem & Putin...
The Kills are still
KILLIN’ IT METRONOMY
Return with a new album and a pedicure
Back and bigger than ever 1
Becky Milk Teeth went full Sasquatch at The Great Escape.
GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
Emma Swann Founding Editor GOOD I got to spend five days in Gothenburg jabbering on about DIY to (mostly) confused Swedes. EVIL The Skum Bananer I brought back apparently made Jamie ill. Oops. (The Plopp fared better, mind) .............................. tom connick Online Editor GOOD Hayden Thorpe’s beard continues to do unprintable things to me. EVIL Surprise releases are a complete funsponge. Just stop. .............................. El hunt Features Editor GOOD It doesn’t get better than seeing the seaside, Diet Cig’s highkicks, and The Big Moon
covering Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’ all on the same day at The Great Escape. EVIL My own catwailingly bad rendition of ‘Beautiful Stranger’ at karaoke, later on that very same day. .............................. Jamie MILTon Neu Editor GOOD By the time you read this, I’ll have seen Radiohead and my life will be complete. EVIL Jamie Vardy had a party and I wasn’t invited. .............................. Louise Mason Art Director GOOD For the second month running, I got to go on loads of rides and pass it off as ‘my job’. EVIL The Crazy Mouse was really, really scary. Definitely not safe.
EDITOR’S LET TER Hello, it’s me. As you may have noticed, we’ve had a few exciting changes in camp DIY over the past month. Jamie has passed the editorial baton to me so he can dedicate himself entirely to the new music buzz, while our ace El is now full-time Features Ed. For this new issue, we’ve got something really quite special up our sleeves: DIY has the very first word on Bastille’s brand new album ‘Wild World’ - a world exclusive, don’tcha know! Elsewhere, we hang out with giants-in-waiting Spring King ahead of their debut album’s release, delve into Tegan and Sara’s new potent pop and try to recover from all those surprise album releases last month, phew! Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor GOOD Getting to spend a day of work building Lego was pretty bloody great, I have to admit. (Even if it did all feel a tiny bit Nathan Barley at the time!) EVIL You know that horrible gut-wrenching few seconds when someone falls over during your photoshoot and you’re not sure if they’re gonna be okay when they get back up? Mmmhmmm.
What’s on the DIY stereo this month?
Wild Beasts - Boy King
On their new album ‘Boy King’, Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe says he’s letting his “inner Byron fully out”. Listening to it, we can only assume he’s not on about the burgers.
Metronomy - summer 08
Joe Mount’s finally figured out time travel! An old skool look back on his party days, ‘Summer 08’ comes jam-packed full of bangers. 5
C O N T E N T S
8 MAC DEMARCO 14 GLASS ANIMALS 16 LOS CAMPESINOS! 1 7 P O P S TAR P O S T BAG 1 9 D I Y H A L L O F FA M E 2 2 F E S T I VA L S
28 LOYLE CARNER 3 0 B A BY I N VA I N 34 ISAAC GRACIE 3 5 WA L L
36 BASTILLE 44 BIG DEAL 48 SPRING KING 54 MITSKI 56 TEGAN AND SARA
REVIEWS 60 ALBUMS 62 SURPRISE, SURPRISE 76 LIVE
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor El Hunt Neu Editor Jamie Milton Online Editor Tom Connick Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Marketing & Events Jack Clothier, Rhi Lee Contributors Ali Shutler, Cady Siregar, Charlie Mock, Craig Jones, Danny Wright, Dave Beech, David Zammitt, Emma Smith, Henry Boon, Jessica Goodman, Liam McNeilly, Martyn Young, Maya Rose Radcliffe, Mustafa Mirreh, Nina Keen, Ross Jones, Tom Hancock, Tommy Horner, Will Richards Photographers Amin Musa, Carolina Faruolo, Cheryl Georgette Arent, Mike Massaro, Phil Smithies, Sarah Louise Bennett, Sinéad Grainger For DIY editorial email@example.com For DIY sales firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com tel: +44 (0)20 3632 3456 For DIY stockist enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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“Now I’ve found the salt beef bagels on Brick Lane I understand that is where I belong.” Return of The
Between eBay purchases and low-key birthday celebrations, Mac DeMarco has had a (for him, at least) quiet few months. No longer - he’s heading back this side of the pond to inject that “real famous” festival, Glastonbury, with his own brand of chaos. Words: Henry Boon
aving just concluded the low-key celebration of his 26th birthday, Mac DeMarco is reaching the end of a four month break, the longest of his career to date. An unassuming hobby that sky-rocketed into cult stardom, Mac’s been happily riding a wave of raucous, boozy tours for the best part of a decade. Like the victim of some crazy kidnapping, he’s since had to readjust to being a civilian in a slowed down world that he’s hardly seen in his adult life. “I kind of forgot what I used to do!” he laughs, admitting that although he’s been able to spend some time in his home in Far Rockaway, Queens, it’s not a place he’s ever really got to know. So, what can you do in a quiet neighbourhood where you know nobody, with no idea how to pass time offstage? For the most part, it’s the same as us. “Sit around the house watching too much YouTube and smoking too many cigarettes,” he says. But for Mac there’s one other thing having a stable address does bring: access to a certain online auction website. “I got a little bit addicted to buying stuff off eBay. There was a time where I’d be waking up like, where’s the FedEx guy? Where’s my UPS man? He was coming every day.” Some of his purchases were, of course, productive - music gear, for example. Then, some of it’s just stuff he loves - mostly
vintage Simpsons merch - others, classic Mac DeMarco-outof-this-world; most prominently a leather S&M dog mask as donned by Mac’s friend Yuki in the video for his Prince tribute, ‘It’s Gonna Be Lonely’. “I just love that internet - I love that FedEx, I love that internet!” This isn’t Mac metaphorically bathing in money from his whirlwind of tours and indie stardom; he’s still barely spending anything. He hasn’t bought the $5,000 life-size Simpsons living room set he really wants, for example. Mac’s headed off back to his natural habitat soon with another mammoth tour that includes his first ever Glastonbury appearance (“it’s a real famous one, which is cool”) and a smattering of London shows which he’s excited about for various reasons. “I love it over there,” he says. “I always had a lot of trouble knowing where to go, we were always playing different venues and I didn’t know, I could never get my bearings. But now I’ve found the salt beef bagels on Brick Lane, I understand that is where I belong. I get the little soup, I get the bagel, I love it. “The audiences [in the UK] are really, really excited, more so than a lot of the States and pretty much the rest of the world. Maybe comparable to Buenos Aires or some places in South America, but the kids there are crazy so it’s really fun - it’s like we’re in Nirvana or something.” 9
Between internet shopping, slobbing about and watching denim fetish videos (don’t ask), Mac’s been writing too. As is fitting, he’s pretty relaxed about it. “At some point I was just like ‘mmmm I don’t really feel like working on this right now’,” he says, not giving much away because, at the moment, it’s just the bare bones. “I have some demo arrangements but for the most part it’s just a keyboard and my voice or a guitar and my voice, so they’re all pretty open right now and could go any which way. Right now it kinda sounds like a folk record because it’s just a guitar and my vocals. Maybe I’ll have something like that, who knows? Probably not, but who knows?” What he does know, though, is that he’s hoping to have something polished off by August, and is planning to head in new directions… probably. Maybe. “I’ve done this similar style of record for the last three, the one before that was like a totally, totally different feel and before that it’s like the old stuff I used to do, so I feel like I might as well switch it up a little. Maybe try and put a little bit more effort in to go in a different direction, I’m not really sure what that direction is, but something a little bit different.” This vague news might come as a disappointment to the fans who worked themselves up into a small frenzy when Mac was pictured in the studio with MGMT man Andrew VanWyngarden recently. Unfortunately the story behind that - though endearing - isn’t quite what some may have hoped. “Andrew is a friend of mine, he’s like the only friend I have in this neighbourhood that I live in,” Mac chuckles, amused by the flurry of activity the picture started, “I was just over at his house and we were just playing around, I don’t even know if they’re working on anything right now!” While not quite the mega-gossip we hoped, when it comes to hot scoops, Mac does have one insight to offer into his new material. “I have a new song that I wrote for the album that has the word dog in the title… Actually I have a couple of songs with dog references, I don’t really know why,” he reveals. As for the rest? “It will Mac DeMarco will play Open’er. Head to just sprinkle down upon me diymag.com/festivals for details. while I sleep.” DIY
Mac’s milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.
GLASTOWATCH? MORE LIKE SASS-TOWATCH A lot of people go to Glastonbury. Like, a LOT, so obviously, a fair few punters have questions they need answering. Maybe it’s their first time at the festival, perhaps it’s their fortieth. Others just really want to know where they can charge their phone, or if Tesco will deliver cider to their tent door. So, when they need an answer, where better to turn that the fountain of knowledge that is Twitter’s @GlastoWatch? It’s not just helpful hints and tips that GlastoWatch’s Twitter account offers up though. Oh no - there’s a good dose of sassiness on offer too. Here’s just a handful of our favourite Sass-toWatch moments so far…
LADS ON TOR
It’s almost time for the biggest festival in the world and, as ever, it’s set to be a smasher. From the no-doubt brilliant return of LCD Soundsystem to whatever batshit stage set-up Muse arrive with, this year’s packed to the rafters. Mac DeMarco’s not the only one heading Somerset way this June though - here’s a few more unmissable acts at this year’s Glastonbury.
S B C E I A E R N DC E Gatekeepers of the Facial Hair Hall of Fame, oh-soAmerican classic rockers ZZ Top were one of the first acts to confirm themselves for this year’s event. So, obviously, we made a list of the other beards vying for attention at Worthy Farm later this month. JACK GARRATT
Fun fact: Adele calms any on-stage. nerves by cradling an invisible puppy.
Jimmy Smith, Foals “It’s the best, once you’re in you can do anything you want, no dealing with security all the time, you can just disappear off the map for five days which is a nice feeling.”`
Mikey Goldsworthy, Years & Years “It’s every band’s dream to go and play at Glastonbury. It’s wild! It’s literally the size of a small city, hundreds of bands play and we had one of the best crowds we’ve ever experienced. We had the best feeling coming off stage… then went and saw Kanye! What’s not to love?!”
Joel Amey, Wolf Alice “I’m ready to get spacey at Glasto again.” 12 diymag.com
Apparently ‘quite a few’ people have heard of Adele (who knew?! - Ed), so chances are it may be busy down at the Pyramid stage by the time she appears. It’s already clear that hers will be one helluva special set. Having previously declared she’d never step foot in a festival, her mind has evidently been changed (thanks, Emily!). Her set at Worthy Farm could well go down in history.
SKEPTA & STORMZY
No longer is grime just an underground authority: festivals are finally beginning to take note. After letting some of its pioneers creep onto bills last year, it’s only now the likes of Skepta and Stormzy are being afforded the platform they deserve. With Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’ only being held off the top spot by those pesky blokes in Radiohead, it’s high time the world sat up and paid them some real attention.
BRING ME THE HORIZON If, way back when, you’d told Oli Sykes and co they’d be playing at Glastonbury in the near distant future, they’d have probably exploded with laughter. Yet now, with the humongous ‘That’s The Spirit’, they’ve beaten down the boundaries of niche metalcore and mainstream rock and completely conquered it all. Glasto better watch out: Bring Me The Horizon are on their way.
There’s something slightly Amish about our Jack’s face-fuzz, which when paired with his mop of red curls has him resembling a small puppy. This might be due to his claimed recipe of “the tears of abandoned puppies and concentrated desperation”. YANNIS PHILIPPAKIS The length of the Foals frontman’s bristles varies month on month, but we’re hoping for a full-on forest come the band’s no doubt incendiary Somerset set. JOHN GRANT Greying like the titular tickles of his latest album, John Grant’s whiskers give him a distinguished air, like a history professor, or art expert (these are, of course, the two most distinguished roles in the world). MICHAEL EAVIS Well, duh. King of the festival, and probably the main admirer among the Glasto staff of ZZ Top’s facebased topiary, the big boss’s beard has remained, like the Pyramid stage, a constant at the festival since the 70s.
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ONE DAY ALL OF THIS WON’T MATTER ANY MORE “Make new music? Hat’s a good idea!”
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Are We Human, Or Are We Dancer? Oxford’s Glass Animals have ditched their tropical alternate universe for a trip back to Planet Earth. That doesn’t stop new album ‘How To Be A Human Being’ from being a twisted firestarter, insists Dave Bayley. Words: Jamie Milton. Photo: Emma Swann.
lass Animals would be forgiven for existing in hyperspace. The alternate reality of 2014 debut album ‘Zaba’ - a twist on the Jungle Book, with even more palm trees - was given an extra-surreal story when the Oxford four-piece suddenly blew up Stateside. UK crowds are still flocking bit-by-bit, but over in the U.S. they were playing to thousands every night. Dodgy sleep patterns and a big fanbase are enough to send anyone off the rails, but with their second record they’ve kept themselves as rooted as possible. As soon as the group’s world tour simmered out, frontman Dave Bayley took a flight home and went straight from the airport to a studio in Hornsey, London. Less than two weeks later, he’d written the bulk of the record. Clearly he’d been bottling up a lot of thoughts while crossing state borders.
Dave wanted to opt against the tropical flavour of Glass Animals’ debut. Instead, he tried to capture the reality of people’s everyday lives, which can often be more fascinating than licking a poisonous frog in the jungle. “Have you ever sat around a bit bored and tried to imagine what other people do with their lives?” he asks. “You think, ‘Fuck, I wonder what their story is.’ You start to embellish it in your head. ‘That guy makes these weird inventions that never see the light of day, but his mother thinks he’s a mad genius and he’s got this weird seventy-year-old girlfriend.’ You wonder how these people came to meet and what the story is. Some of it is me hypothesising, but there’s definitely a lot of truth.” It clearly takes a good imagination to make this ‘true story’ schtick actually work. Otherwise you’re left with Johnny Borrell parading streets with an acoustic guitar, trying to figure out how the world spins. Dave’s perspective has a wondrous quality, and he’s not afraid to dive into weird
Ten minutes later, Drew still hadn’t noticed his shoelaces were tied together.
“We’re gonna get through all the condiments by album seventeen.” - Dave Bayley
territory. New album ‘How To Be A Human Being’ contains some real zinger lyrics. There’s a story about “Northern Camden’s own Flash Gordon”, whoever that is. He sings about “codeine CocaCola”; how his “girl eats mayonnaise, from a jar when she’s getting blazed.” Strange territory, but Dave’s got it covered. “We’re gonna get through all the condiments by album seventeen,” he jokes, referring to the “peanut butter vibes” lyric Glass Animals are most associated with. But there’s “definitely an emotional heaviness” to these songs, he insists. “I still feel very odd listening to these strangely personal songs. We’ve never done that before. I didn’t want to sound like this band or that band, with a sprinkling of Beyoncé. The opposite, almost. I tried not to listen to any music. I didn’t want any sonic references. I just made these sounds that popped into my head.” Even though they’re no longer swinging from rainforest canopies, Glass Animals’ imagination is still running riot. Their playful spirit hasn’t calmed down one jot, and they’ve made a record that’ll do nothing to slow down their ascent. Chances are this trip back to Planet Earth is just a quick detour on their space mission. DIY Glass Animals will play Best Kept Secret. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
NEWS in Brief
DIFFERENT BRUSH, SAME STROKES STOP PRESS!
The Strokes are the latest cheeky so-and-sos stealth releasing. New EP ‘Future Present Past’ is out RIGHT BLOODY NOW, featuring three fresh numbers (‘Drag Queen’, ‘OBLIVIUS’ and ‘Threat of Joy’) along with a remix of ‘OBLIVIUS’ by drummer Fab, all via Julian’s own Cult Records.
NEW BRAND NEW
Brand New have returned with new music. ‘I Am A Nightmare’ is their first track to land since ‘Mene’, both tracks being their only fresh material in the last six-and-a-half years. Still no news on that album though (boo!).
GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT
IT’S ABOUT HAIM!
TITLE ‘How To Be A Human Being’ WHERE Hornsey, London. The studio doesn’t
have a name. Dave’s christened it “Awesome Studios.” SONGS ‘Youth’, ‘Season 2, Episode 3’, ‘Life Itself’ DUE Summer 2016 OTHER DEETS The studio wasn’t massively kitted out, so the band had to make do with inventing their own sounds. “I recorded what I had; some crisps, some cheese, a cigarette packet,” says Dave. The big question: what flavour of crisps? “I’m probably going to break a lot of people’s hearts here, but it’s salt and vinegar. I don’t like them very much, so I was happy to smash those into the back of a guitar. If it’s a nicer flavour, those would be in my belly.”
Haim time has finally arrived! Well. Sort of. At the band’s recent Santa Ana show, they played two brand new songs live for the first time ever. ‘Nothing’s Wrong’ and ‘Give Me Just A Little of Your Love’ are (we assume) both tastes of that long-awaited second album.
Hinds have shared a new video for ‘Easy’; a destructive blur of dizzying camera pans, dramatically smudged make-up, and regurgitated pasta (mmmm!?!) Watch it over at diymag.com now. 15
Hello there! Can you believe it’s already been three years since ‘No Blues’? Where does the time go? Gareth: Do you know what? Yes, I can believe it - it seems like forever. I feel like my life runs in two separate lanes, one inhabited by the band and the other with everything else. The band timeline has really dragged, with us having done very little, just itching to do another record, while the time involving everything else in my life has gone at a thousand miles an hour. Since ‘No Blues’ came out my football team has celebrated a heroic promotion, and then faced a lacklustre relegation. That can really age a man. We hear you’re hard at work on a follow-up, how’s that been going? Tom: Good thanks! I started writing songs when I was in Seattle last year, in-between two legs of a US tour playing in Perfume Genius’ live band. It’d been about three years since writing the songs for ‘No Blues’ by then, so I felt suitably refreshed and excited to write again. I’ve been living and messing with that set of songs for about a year now, so I feel like they’re at a point where I’m happy to start sharing them. G: What Tom’s written for this new record is fantastic, like, really exciting for me. So now I’ve gotta write the lyrics to do it justice. This meant I quit my job (not that much encouragement was needed) and am spending a lot of time day-drinking in beer gardens with a note pad, scratching down drunken ideas.
What’s going on with...
It’s been three years since the Welsh seven-piece released their brilliant ‘No Blues’ and with only a few festival appearances in their calendar, it’s easy to wonder what they’ve been up to of late. So, we decided to ask Gareth and Tom Campesinos! spill the beans. How are the new songs sounding? T: I’m probably a bit close to judge, but I think ‘No Blues’ was, psychologically at least, the last record we made as a ‘pro’ band. The past couple of years have been extremely frustrating for a bunch of reasons I can’t really mention, and I think we’ve been forced into questioning whether we want to do this anymore or why we’re still here. So I think these songs are a combination of an excited, affirmative answer to that questioning as well as a release of that frustration. Basically it’s a bunch of loud euphoric pop songs that’ll hopefully make you dance and cry. Do you have a timescale? G: I promised people there’d be a new LC! album in 2016 but we’ll be looking at January or February next year I reckon. We could get it out this calendar year, but I think records that get sneaked out in time for November and December often suffer for that. For certain we’d like to get at least two or three new tracks out this year though - as this will be our longest ever gap without releasing new music - and some headline shows towards the end of 2016 too.
Popstar Postbag M y s t e ry J e t s
We know what you’re like, dear readers. We know you’re just as nosey as we are when it comes to our favourite popstars: that’s why we’re putting the power back into your hands. Every month, we’re going to ask you to pull out your best questions and aim them at those unsuspecting artists. You don’t even need to pay for postage! This month, Mystery Jets’ Blaine Harrison and Jack Flanagan are poised with the Qs. If you could relive one day from the past few years, which would it be and why? Lucy, Portsmouth Blaine: The day we were stranded at sea, out on the Redsands WW2 forts to shoot the ‘Bubblegum’ video is one I’ll never forget. I spent many weeks writing for ‘Curve of the Earth’ living in a beach hut on the north Kent coast and the more I found out about these little specks on the horizon, the more obsessed I became with them. We were blessed with glorious weather on the day we went out there to film, and sent cameras up on drones to capture the performance from 360 degrees. Rocking out, on abandoned WW2 forts, in the middle of the sea - it was definitely a pinch-yourself moment. What’s been the most surreal moment while you’ve been in the band? James, via email B: I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with several early heroes of mine along the way, but one occasion was when I was invited to perform solo at a one-off concert at the Barbican called ‘Songs In The Key Of London’. I invited along a string quartet to cover a few of my favourite songs about London with me - one of which was ‘Man Out of Time’ by Elvis Costello. As if performing solo
for the first time wasn’t enough, you can imagine my horror when the man himself patted me on the back to wish me good luck? Did he say nice things afterwards? Yes, but if he reads this I’m still waiting for that invitation to open for him next time he’s in London.
scene in Mike Leigh’s classic ‘Naked’ (read by David Thewlis). I think William [Rees, guitarist] watched and the line struck a huge note of relevance with what he was trying to write about.
Blaine, we’ve all seen your hair evolving through the years but now What is your favourite thing to see it looks the best. What do you do to when you look out to the crowd during keep it in such condition? Agnieszka, gigs? @aimzeee via email Jack: I love seeing people that you B: I actually had pretty nondescriptwould never expect to be there. Also, looking hair until I shaved it all off at the it’s amazing making eye contact with age of 16, in tribute to Chris Martin circa somebody who is really enjoying the ‘Parachutes’. To my horror, it grew back show, knowing that the energy you’re in tight curls (probably as a means of putting out is being fed back to you. As a punishment). At the moment I’m kind footnote it also makes me very nervous of enjoying letting it go back to doing when my mother is in the audience. its thing. I suspect my Irish ancestry is mostly to thank for its resilience. And lots If you could go back in time to give of argan oil. yourself one piece of advice before Mystery Jets will play Best Kept Secret. starting the band, what would it be? Head to diymag.com/festivals for details. Michael, Fife B: Sing in your own voice. Record NEXT MONTH: BLACK HONEY everything you write, and back it up Want to send a question to DIY’s three times. Sorry, that’s three. Popstar Postbag? Tweet us at @diymagazine with the hashtag What is the speech sample at the #postbag, or drop us an email at beginning of ‘Midnight’s Mirror’? email@example.com. Easy! Pearl, via email J: The speech sample was taken from a
HAVE HEARD? you
MØ - Final Song
It’s already been one hell of a year for MØ. She’s been steadily stepping up her game since 2014, shooting for the pop bullseye and skewering it cleanly with needle-sharp writing every single time. Outrageously great fun, she’s a well-publicised fan of brilliant pop. Likewise, there are no self-aware bells and whistles to ‘Final Song,’ no clever tricks or nose-taps in sight. Simple, bold, unswerving, and with all the instant impact of colliding headlong with a tidal wave of jelly and icecream flavoured Panda Pop, massive xylophones plunk atop a tower of scuzzing stabs, and crisper-than-a-rice-krispie-cake snares. Every element’s right up in your face like it’s taken a healthy glug of ‘Drink Me’ potion. In every way going, ‘Final Song’ is fucking huge. (El Hunt)
Metronomy - Old Skool All neon bubble fonts, dodgy 80s hairdos, and gaudy disco funk, Joe Mount isn’t just taking a step away from the heartbreak fuelling Metronomy’s last record ‘Love Letters’. Gentle shoopshoops and subtle building waves have been lobbed well and truly out the window. Brash, kitschy, and propelled by furiously hyperactive glass-chings, ‘Old Skool’ harks back to Joe’s ‘Nights Out’ days as he yowls of overindulgence, money making, and superficial parties in the West End. “I love sex, and I love dancing, and reclining in your backseat,” he announces. It makes barely any sense, and it’s brilliant. (El Hunt)
Glass Animals - Life Itself Bouncy and bongo-led, the second iteration of Glass Animals finds them
polishing their diamonds, rather than opting for reinvention. Buffed-up and shimmering like never before, they’re a thousand times more confident. All fidgety, colliding time signatures and a toy box of instrumentation, Glass Animals feel reborn, shedding the murky skin of ‘Zaba’ in favour of a kaleidoscopic new set of scales. ‘Life Itself’ is evidence they’re ready to break free - a flamboyant swan dive into the deep and shimmering lagoon of pop perfection. (Tom Connick)
Wild Beasts - Get My Bang Wild Beasts have always wrestled with a masculinity crisis and shifting identity, every move sprinkled with sleaze. But their previous two records never hinted at a song like ‘Get My Bang’ being in their locker. A stop-start lead melody sounds like it’s a hound jumping hurdles, and Thorpe’s in peak seedy form. Never have
Wild Beasts sounded this love-ravaged and swerved by their own instincts. Just when all bases looked covered across a diamond-encrusted career, they’ve hit a new high. (Jamie Milton)
Speedy Ortiz - Death Note “How many times do I have to say it?” asks an exasperated Sadie Dupuis repeatedly over ‘Death Note’’s dissonant, unwieldy melody lines; strained howls of guitar feedback peeping through the gaps. It’s the kind of reflection we’ve come to expect as standard from the sharp songwriting mind of Speedy’s frontwoman. An outtake from the Northampton, Massachusetts band’s categorically ace second album ‘Foil Deer,’ it’s a powerful sounding juggernaut of a track; cathartic, complex, and shadowy. There’s just no foiling this lot. (El Hunt)
DIY HALL FAME of
GOSSIP - STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROL A loud, proud record that refuses to conform, ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ is the latest inductee to DIY’s Hall Of Fame. Words: El Hunt
gainst 2006’s backdrop of identikit boys armed with super-tight jeans and frail-framed jangles about girls that are “sooooooo naïve,” Gossip stood out like a sore, very pissed-off thumb. By title alone, ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ deliberately made itself an annoyance and an obstacle. Plonking itself bolt upright and right in the way, and forcing everyone to physically manoeuvre around its fast-punching presence, Gossip’s third LP wielded the body as a weapon. It’s a gargantuan record crammed with juggernaut blues riffs that can’t be pinned down; tenacious dance beats that flicker and frenzy their way to near-oblivion. Written as an almighty fuck you directed at the US Government’s attempts to make same-sex marriage illegal, ‘Standing in the Way of Control’’s title track bursts with anger and unconstrained rage, but at the same time throws its head back to party on regardless. “Nobody in the States was that surprised or shocked by what Bush did, but it made everyone I know feel helpless and cheated,” frontwoman Beth Ditto said at the time. Sweating glitter and screaming with gaudiness, this record is unapologetically different, and camper than a Butlins-themed cabaret performance at G-A-Y late. When it came to small-town noughties teens whose only knowledge of queer culture came from token storylines on EastEnders, Gossip busted off the hinges and flung open the door to an
entire new world, containing Le Tigre, Hunx and His Punx, Peaches, Tribe 8, and an entire treasure trove of bold, brash badasses who couldn’t be bothered with conforming. “Heavy make-up doesn’t cover up the many sleepless nights I can’t hide,” lulls Beth Ditto at her gentlest on ‘Dark Lines’, a chiming, smoky and Southern-soul tinged track where covering up weakness and blending in becomes exhausting. Elsewhere, there’s the gritty image of fists painstakingly performing their own chemistry with carbon; slowly grinding burnt out coal into gleaming, crystalclear diamonds. For every rallying battle-cry – the roaring confrontation that
Released: 24th January, 2006 Standout tracks: ‘Dark Lines’, ‘Standing in the Way of Control’, ‘Listen Up!’ Something to tell your mates: The majority of this album was recorded at Bear Creek - Lionel Richie’s favourite forest-top studio. “Hello, is it tree you’re looking for,” anyone? is the title track, the searing empowerment of ‘Fire with Fire’ – this record also shows the flip-side. ‘Yr Mangled Heart,’ even declares “I can’t take it no more”. Though it’s frequently angry, triumphant, and pissed-off, ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ also strays towards the verge of buckling and giving up. Beth Ditto tells you that it’s ok to be totally tired of fighting against a flawed, difficult world, too. Taking on the spirit of Kurt Cobain’s unabashed dresswearing, Kathleen Hanna’s rrriot of unshaved pits and the anger of a thousand furious punks, political, non-conforming badasses like Beth Ditto - and bands like Gossip - are rare, and to be celebrated. DIY 19
The Magic Gang + Abattoir Blues
The Crowndale, London. Photos: Emma Swann rammed into new London venue The Crowndale, The Magic Gang are hopelessly batting balloons away from their instruments. Hundreds of frenzied fans are rushing the stage while mic stands and speakers fall over. The security guards don’t know where to look. This is much better than getting a cake, staying at home and watching The One Show. In a twist of irony, perfect chaos is incited when The Magic Gang play ‘No Fun’, their pre-encore closer about being sick and tired of parties. This party’s a lot of fun, mind you. Across the road, Mac Miller’s playing to a sold-out Koko. So it’s nice of The Magic Gang to give the Pennsylvania rapper a timely shout-out. That’s right before closing the night with go-to, brilliantly miserable party anthem ‘Shallow’. Frontman Jack Kaye ditches his guitar and barks out the “I’m so shallow!” mantra. Balloons are bursting, arms are flailing. Talk about a party. Mac Miller should have had an invite, come to think of it. (Jamie Milton)
Future of the Left
Electric Ballroom, London. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett ow, we all know the Queen’s a cunt, but imagine being so much of a cunt that you have your birthday on the day Prince dies…” cackles Falco mid-way through Future Of The Left’s largest London show to date. That bratty attitude in check, it’s a typically raucous showing from the Welsh mob. They showcase everything from early Mclusky cuts like ‘To Hell With Good Intentions’ right through to the newer likes of ‘The Limits Of Battleships’ with every bit of noise and chaos present and correct. Don’t let that new album title fool you – there’s no peace or truce with Future Of The Left, just a gripping, nonstop bludgeoning. (Tom Connick)
mer holiday, We’re all going on a sum
no phone signal for a
day or three...
S L A IV T S FE BEST KEPT. SECRET. 17th - 19th June Now it’s firmly established as one of the Netherlands’ biggest festivals, they should probably find a new name for Best Kept Secret. This year features headline sets from Beck, Jamie xx and Editors, plus notable appearances from the returning Two Door Cinema Club and Bloc Party, veterans Air, Wilco, and Low, plus lots and lots of new acts including Weaves, Beach Slang, The Japanese House, Ho99o9, Danny L Harle, and Class of 2016 alumni VANT.
A few seconds with…
Mattie Vant, VANT So, you’re taking your set to lots of new places and new faces this summer..? We’re damn excited, shades and sun cream at the ready! Also our next single ‘Karma Seeker’ will be out by then. It’s always exciting to see people’s reactions to new songs once they are out in the ether. What can ‘the people’ expect from your festival set? We try and retain an element of surprise with all our shows to keep ourselves guessing just as much as everyone else. It’s the first time we’ll be playing some main stages 22
this summer so I’m looking forward to trying some mass interaction tactics at some point! What’s the most audacious thing you’re gonna add to your rider? Apparently Best Kept Secret festival has a private safari for the bands so maybe some kind of Jumanjiesque fancy dress could add to the authenticity. On a scale of 1-10, how good are you at keeping secrets? 10. Can you tell us a secret? My lips are sealed.
latitude AL-THE-COVE’S A STAGE
That terrible pun means we’re hosting the Alcove Stage at Latitude once again, readers.
1st - 5th Primavera Sound Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Parquet Courts, The Last Shadow Puppets, Savages, Tame Impala
16th - 18th Mad Cool Bastille, Biffy Clyro, Two Door Cinema Club, Diiv, Lucy Rose, Temples, Twin Atlantic, The Kills
3rd - 5th Governors Ball The Strokes, The Killers, Kanye West, Beck, Haim, Chvrches, Jamie xx, Against Me!, FIDLAR
16th - 19th Secret Solstice Radiohead, Deftones, Of Monsters and Men, Róisín Murphy, Novelist, Kelela
3rd - 5th This Is Not A Love Song Foals, Parquet Courts, METZ, Dilly Dally, Yak, Girl Band, Battles, Protomartyr
17th - 19th 110 Above DID, Vaults, Sundara Karma, The Japanese House, Theme Park, Clean Cut Kid, Fatherson
9th - 29th Belsonic Bring Me The Horizon, Biffy Clyro, Foals, Skepta, Ellie Goulding, The Vaccines, The Chemical Brothers
17th - 19th Body & Soul Santigold, Mercury Rev, Ho99o9, Floating Points, St. Germain, Junior Boys, Wolf Parade
16th - 18th 9th - 12th Sónar Isle of Wight Skrillex, The Chemical Brothers, The Kills, Everything Everything, FKA twigs, Hot Chip, Jamie xx, The Cribs, Iggy Pop, Queen + Duran Duran, Flying Lotus Adam Lambert, The Who 17th - 19th 9th - 11th Northside NOS Primavera Sound Beck, Jamie xx, Deftones, Iggy Savages, Brian Wilson, Air, Sigur Pop, The Chemical Brothers, Bloc Rós, Battles, Chairlift, Animal Party, C Duncan Collective, Parquet Courts 18th 10th - 12th Bushstock Download Bear’s Den, Charlie Cunningham, Rammstein, Black Sabbath, Iron Chartreuse, Dean Lewis, Maiden, Deftones, Frank Carter & Gillbanks The Rattlesnakes, Milk Teeth 22nd - 26th 10th - 12th Glastonbury Long Division Adele, Coldplay, Muse, Wolf Field Music, Gang of Four, Los Alice, Skepta, Beck, Foals, Campesinos!, Johnny Foreigner, Bastille, Chvrches, Bring Me The Malcolm Middleton, Emma Horizon (See p8 for more) Pollock 25th - 2nd 11th - 12th Roskilde Bestival Toronto LCD Soundsystem, Foals, MØ, The Cure, Tame Impala, Grimes, Savages, Tame Impala, Bring Me Jamie xx, Swim Deep, Daughter, The Horizon, Chvrches, Skepta The Wombats, Madeon 30th - 2nd 11th - 12th Bråvalla Field Day Biffy Clyro, Mumford & Sons, James Blake, Four Tet, Skepta, Rammstein, Bastille, Bring Me Dilly Dally, Formation, Mystery The Horizon, Angel Haze, Hinds Jets, Parquet Courts 30th - 3rd 11th - 12th Rock Werchter Parklife Rammstein, Florence + The Wolf Alice, Jamie xx, Bastille, Machine, Bring Me The Horizon, Years & Years, Skepta, Katy B, Jamie xx, Courtney Barnett, MØ, Stormzy, Major Lazer Paul McCartney
Hurrah! Not only are we once again heading down (it’s up, actually - Geography Ed) to Suffolk as Official Media Partners of Latitude Festival, but we’re also hosting the Alcove Stage once more. Where last year had Rat Boy causing mayhem in the forest in addition to notable sets from Nao, Tuff Love and C Duncan, this year’s even better. Class of 2016 alumni and total babes The Magic Gang will be there, as well as hot properties like Danny L Harle, Kagoule, Petite Noir, Kero Kero Bonito, Rationale and Skinny Girl Diet. For the full line up - plus more on all things Latitude - head to diymag.com/latitude.
A few seconds with…
Lawrence English, Kagoule
We’ve already seen you at Live at Leeds this year - are you well and truly in ‘festival mode’ now? Almost. Live at Leeds was one of the first festivals we’ve played this year so we’re kind of just dipping our toes in so far, maybe coming up to knee deep soon. Are you looking forward to Latitude? I’ve always wanted to go there, never mind play it, so this is great. It’s always a nice feeling to play festivals you’ve known about about forever, because you know the 12-year-old you would be well impressed. Who are you hoping to watch over the weekend? The line up is so good. I’m still bummed I couldn’t go last year and see Portishead, but I definitely want to catch Kurt Vile, Suuns and Father John Misty. The Alcove stage is hidden away in the woods - how are you with nature? Great. We all live surrounded by grey things everywhere so any opportunity to hide away in some woods is good. We will all definitely get lost though - even if they aren’t dense woods, we’ll find a way. 23
11th - 12th June
Best buddies Disclosure and Rudimental are teaming up for a second year to bring their favourites both old and new to Brighton City Airport. Both acts headline (with festival-goers hoping for a few guest spots for good measure - hi Lorde!), and there’s also notable spots for Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, David Rodigan MBE and returning Aussie mystery machine The Avalanches on one side, and Rat Boy, Mura Masa, Jorja Smith and Frances on the other, with Four Tet, Jamie Woon, Annie Mac and cover stars Bastille somewhere in between.
A few seconds with…
Howard Lawrence, Disclosure You’re returning for a second year… It was amazing last year. Getting Wu-Tang Clan was a big deal for us, and obviously Wiley and Skepta showed up. It was a great couple of days. This year, the line-up’s equally strong, and hopefully the weather will match up. It’s a really interesting bill. You seem big on bringing in new acts. We wanted to have a mix - up-and-coming acts and more established artists. The bookers smashed it - they got pretty much everyone. We were very happy. What was the location like? To me, it felt really good. It felt like the right amount of space. That airport can hold a lot more than last year’s capacity. Last year was 32,000 a day, but it can be double that. We’re gonna slowly expand, but we still want it to feel cosy, so you don’t get that vibe of feeling like it’s empty even when it’s sold out.
17th - 19th June
This month’s cover stars Bastille, plus LCD Soundsystem, Chvrches, Grimes, Savages, Tame Impala, Pharrell Williams, Florence + The Machine, Sigur Rós, PJ Harvey, Kurt Vile and Mac DeMarco are among the acts heading to Poland at the end of the month. Also on their way are Twin Atlantic, otherwise hard at work on the follow-up to 2014’s Top Ten album, ‘Great Divide’
11th - 12th June Kero Kero Bonito, Arthur Beatrice, Astronomyy, Daphni and Let’s Eat Grandma have been added to the bill over the two days, plus they’ll be showing the England v Russia game on Saturday in Victoria Park. Score.
22nd - 26th June Dua Lipa, Danny L Harle, Four Tet, Ekkah, Lion Babe and Idris Elba are among those announced for Silver Hayes, with the previously-announced Stormzy, Nao and Lady Leshurr also poised for the stage.
Bilbao BBK Live
7th - 9th July Hinds, HANA, Ocean Colour Scene, Bad Breeding and DMA’s join the Basque shindig, joining Arcade Fire, Pixies, Foals, Wolf Alice, Chvrches, INHEAVEN and lots and lots of others at the top of a mountain.
15th - 17th July Mark Ronson, BAIO and Minor Victories are among the acts added to the Latvian event, which already boasts Wolf Alice, Grimes, Years & Years and Iggy Pop.
17th July Battles, Beardyman and Honne, Flyte and Boxed In join the London all-dayer alongside Lianne La Havas, Caribou, Sigur Rós and Cat’s Eyes.
28th - 30th July VANT, Circa Waves and Everything Everything join ‘The Neverland’, with Demob Happy, GIRLI, Spring King, The Big Moon, Big Deal, Formation and Lianne La Havas already announced.
A few seconds with…
Sam McTrusty, Twin Atlantic
After a few months away, how are you looking forward to returning to the stage? Lots. We’ve gone through a big change since anyone has seen us last. So we don’t even know how this is all going to play out. There are no rules anymore. Do you have anything special planned for your festival sets this summer? Well we have been working on a new project that we might unveil at the festivals. It’s always a scary place to dive 24
into at the best of times but we are so on our toes and so amped up about music that it seems like the right time to do it. Have you played live in Poland before? How was it? Yeah we’ve played two shows in Poland. One small club show which was equal parts strange and fantastic. The second at another festival where we had a solid day hanging out with Wolf Alice and staring at Noel Gallagher from a creepily close distance.
29th - 31st July Yak, Blood Red Shoes, INHEAVEN and Toy join the bill for the Hertfordshire weekend, joining Swim Deep, Kelis, Suede, Everything Everything and others.
29th - 31st July Yak, INHEAVEN, VANT, and Kagoule are heading to Derbyshire this July, alongside the previously-announced Creeper, The Magic Gang, Milk Teeth, The Cribs and Rat Boy (and others).
6th August Dream Wife, JD Samson and Bleached join the East London all-dayer, with Babeheaven, Jessy Lanza and Let’s Eat Grandma also appearing.
“All together now! ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and Elbow...’”
18th - 21st August Laura Marling is the final headliner, with Charlotte Church bringing her Late Night Pop Dungeon along for the ride, which already stars Belle & Sebastian, Wild Beasts and James Blake, plus Gengahr, Warpaint and Formation.
MELTDOWN 10th - 17th June
A few seconds with…
19th - 21st August AlunaGeorge, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Chase & Status are among those joining LCD Soundsystem, Muse, Foals, Biffy Clyro and The Kills in the Netherlands this August.
AMA Music Festival
23rd - 28th August The Neighbourhood and Kula Shaker join Foals, Thee Oh Sees and Funeral Suits at the event, taking place at “Italy’s most beautiful village”, Asolo (their words, don’t blame us).
Following in the footsteps of such artistic luminaries as Jarvis Cocker, Yoko Ono and David Bowie, this year’s Southbank Centre extravaganza is ‘curated’ (they use that word at Serious Art Places dontchaknow) by Elbow frontman and professional northerner, Guy Garvey. He’s picked acts including Laura Marling, Femi Kuti, The Staves, Richard Hawley, C Duncan and pals I Am Kloot to appear across the event’s week-long duration, as well as one of our faves, singer-songwriter Marika Hackman.
Who is it in particular that you’re looking forward to seeing at Meltdown? Well, I’m really, really glad that Laura Marling said yes – she was the first person to say yes. I’m over the moon that Lift To Experience are reforming, too. That’s a real coup! I once toured with those guys – about fifteen years ago – and through the years, I’ve kept in touch with Josh [T. Pearson] and we’ve become good friends. To get the band to reform for Meltdown is really unbelievable, so really excited about that.
Reading & Leeds
26th - 28th August There’s another massive batch of acts for the August Bank Holiday weekend, including faves like Spring King, VANT, The Magic Gang, Milk Teeth and The Japanese House, plus SWMRS, Pulled Apart By Horses, Nas, Eagulls, Thrice and Mastodon.
Rock En Seine
26th - 28th August Peaches, Dua Lipa, Slaves, Soulwax, Jack Garratt and L7 have been added to the Parisian weekend, joining the likes of Foals, Bring Me The Horizon, Two Door Cinema Club and Sum 41.
End of the Road
1st - 4th September The Shins will play their first UK gig in four years at the event, with new additions also including Cat’s Eyes and FEWS.
21st - 24th September Dilly Dally, Moose Blood, Declan McKenna, Gold Panda and perpetually surprised chart-bothering singersongwriter Jamie Lawson are among the first acts as all things ‘new music’ prepare to descend on Hamburg.
A few seconds with…
How happy were you when Guy Garvey asked you to come and play Meltdown? It’s a real honour to be asked to play a festival like that, when someone you admire is curating the whole thing. And to be playing with Laura again is lovely, that’s going to be fun. Talking of Laura Marling, you two are good pals. You’re playing the same night as her. Is there going to be another ‘Animal Fear’ moment where you turn into a werewolf and eat her mid-set? Or does it depend on the quality of the backstage rider?
It depends if she says something to me! I may have a fiery temper and pounce! Who knows. I’m really chilled actually. She’s probably more likely to turn into a werewolf than me. Guy Garvey’s obviously well known for being in Elbow, so naturally we need to ask; would you rather have elbows for knees, or knees for elbows? I feel like I have quite pointy knees anyway. I think my legs might fail if I had elbows for knees. If I had knees for elbows, I’d have very strong arms. And I’d still be able to walk. Picture an elbowsized knee. That’s just dumb.
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Keep it in the Family
n stage fans can see Loyle always adorn himself with his stepdad’s adored Manchester United shirt, hailing the hero in ‘Cantona’. His familial role model was always meant to join Loyle on stage. Proudly he performs for him instead, “a successful, stable male presence, when I was a hyperactive kid. I wasn’t even his!” Not that the backstory is burdensome, as Loyle can’t stand “the melancholy spiel” of some artists. The words are referential but the man is forwardfacing.
R E N R A C
me s r s o as e s fo r re l e w nd no li e d k is ear lf. “I fi ’s an m a l , o m h to s e y m u n o nti d!” Fr note ut m e v b n -a da ,“ n co u m , g u e m i t s tu h a ir ls , m o n o l o il y a d on w e g r m ead e at om d, r e e h ad’s e i s s m , d a i n n ,” h e h t d e l s p o on t oy m u o a n s e l f s te pu a t L i r l s , i c k s t my sl y t his in g , ‘ N h s t g m e t s tl b o u e e l ro ay ll “ en f o s it ’s a es he inly f re l ck a lp et l h e l tr a ’t h e s a f r i ti c s sin g e m a t , s ’ a a h ion uldn It al c es t m t sad o r t c c ou nfess ! I co y.’” in g h e d vo he la isms t.” k m o c t t i s u t a o i u u h to c r i t i c o u t nt s m f her ion o f a l l y c t i t o g aw b w a oy u se e I’ d c t in ic my p y a nd on b o u r s nt a n e m o , s e n a t y p d n’ t p o a n a p o a a c y d t l h ith FG’, coul guy m Of defia t ting istian mi s Lo n nin g s / a w f B l t u r d ‘ l i a n is sa os this s, a s p s ti Ch e Of r h of th begi roof the W, in g l y r ic w a y of s th It ’s self. e “alm this, d .P ’s S ll f o os u ck th e o l, h e m o r I t w a Is im h, h ear f s t a e e t h , w h o a t u r e d s a n m SX t l e h “ ” e d . m r un ho h t n o y at t h m i a: s I’ ne c d e nt s to sta at ’s t talit al in s f crow nt fr de Li ink ad,” in s m in kem nyo ugh er a n i wa y t h i n g d Eve n p o e f l e u f o r a s t h o w e l l , a r n d . T h tim e ati o n f e e t o m p h o n gs d C l n e n iu te y. bo ck d a d o hing el a for, ad o y l co u n c a l s e i n t e r m t h e e d t r a r e r a r t e r y y f u u tin m e di e e fe “Ev iss m lf-scr er for who d any g? “I ood o l, spr nd is . b e h a l o ms e l f e f ro e tur n g - b e d h t e p e e r in r g o na c al a o n a r m f s nd e s e d did g o I m i r g o s n i wit nt hi s com he’s s a fl o n f r n a o g a it a ac t age ompa per f er ch form it pe it pol yle’s s t a e clip at h e e cou ch ha ntly, ime re t h y t p t e to ose c I had arac ir pla keep ake g.” Lo “on e f o l r e a d se e w g ht m n , mu t rec first b l e o h m ( s ’s a er os h e a c t t i m i d c e t h e a nt t t to d o i n o o d i n g ge t au t a lk o d n t s t a , h e ar n ys s . M for t firs t can an us s. I w ’t wa at I’m Nor w wan a l l i n ce y l e - L a l w a a n n a r n o r ap m u s s ha ple c n use uldn o wh West ver “ o o m sIw e t o C f j g UK u t m e i t o o k o m g ti en in at ds pe cer ta y. I w true from only .” DIY to o s e o f m e B . “ M y t h i n n o s e nt h e r s . , r t is nt o f o r i t i v i t t w as t si d e g i n” at i o n en ep re ot a l e x p an a l n a sin gs g e t t s p t m s e a e u d e in e r s u o wh k r l d w r t e - re l es e n o n k o e p s e a o v an m e e n n do z o n a s e h lo e his b I ev s de ma ’s f l o s g e r t k i r t s h e co thi t s h oy l Si m e titu hu e. He nan e’, hi ister. a t er, n tha tar, L nt of efor ils. s n s ’ t L f a o c s t m s l e d u i o y e o y l f a c a g h: h l o r e n n g e r e r e um and i ing s cou , so b st ”. e o p ar t pla ad tofor d s L l h l , t t i e s m F e r o h u e ‘ u s w be Las nces his ri a cal is du for fi g u l l , n h o t o i n a y o s ay t s , o n e er g. H val to r alo wa s t , t it t ll ar n allin esti rs te ps die c at u r t h c h e e r r e d i n g f o ! I w i d i e n yo u e a u e s p i - ke e c r e d o t h e le Con C om/f y g s y e f r o i o r h in ) k a re L and g.c e a ,d r a t s n o f e t o h , a s r o w i s t aw a l i n g o n ce y o u e r Yet ?! - Ed t whe than St y m a ife a ’ re to di rol here t clos ecipe ode t ve th speci illa… right prop di p th e y c r e a l o t t s r i t n i r e: e ke g ’t g ew a a r g g h n c v s a h n n i ” i s i i t ! e f a p re o s h g n s h s n f c e a c o r a n e o g i r v e n t th e th e o n ha to u “ I c a r e b e Ac pa lau m o v ib
BABY In vain
This Danish trio already have huge support slots under their belt. But with a killer instinct, they want to go way bigger. Words: Jamie Milton. Photo: Emma Swann.
our buddies rarely get to rekindle their flames three times in a row, but that’s the case for Baby In Vain, who were recruited to support The Kills on successive tours. “Nobody does that,” the Danish group readily admit. But last month’s DIY cover stars have clearly taken a liking to the sludgy aesthetic and intense mood of the trio’s early output.
wrong for thinking they deserve a step up. This year’s ‘For The Kids’ EP is a ferocious, twisted mission statement. If Josh Homme packed the deathly march of their track ‘Muscles’, he’d be declared a genius. ‘The Urge’, meanwhile, finds the trio ditching guitars in favour of gloomy, Trent Reznor-ready synths.
Back in 2014, they were put forward as a potential would-be support for Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince. They were “in a pile” to choose from, and they were pick of the bunch. “They chose us! Alison chose us!” vocalist / guitarist Lola Hammerich beams.
Closing track ‘Jesus Freaks’ is pick of the bunch, and apparently it’s about Jesus being killed by gangsters - always a bonus. “Well it’s not really literal!” replies Lola. “It’s just the Jesus within yourself. It’s killed by the Mafia within you,” she continues, somewhat abstractly. “Mainly, it sounds cool to sing!”
It all sounds rosy, a musical match made in heaven. Not quite. “To be honest I’m sick of being a support band,” claims Lola, and her bandmates are in agreement. “It’s weird,” starts fellow guitarist / vocalist Andrea Thuesen. “The first time we toured with The Kills, we had the feeling, ‘We never wanna be anything else beyond this. We love being a support band. We can do this for the rest of our lives.’” But the novelty’s worn off. Baby in Vain want to be centre stage, and they’re not
This itch to go further is “probably a good thing,” notes Andrea. “Because then we have to work hard to get beyond the supporting act thing. Right now it’s a lot of travelling and a lot of hard work for very little,” she says. This EP packs more purpose here than a cheetah on the prowl - it sounds like they’ve been ready for the next level for some time. Give or take a few more support slots, and they won’t have any problem snatching the spotlight. DIY
Lie, Cheat, Steal, Kill
Almost every Baby in Vain song has an in-depth, bizarre story to match. Take ‘The Urge’, for example. “I have some friends and they talked about what the worst thing in the world would be,” Andrea remembers. “They both said, ‘If my boyfriend cheated on me.’ And it just seemed so strange to me. I can think of a lot of worse things. I don’t believe that people are meant to live in monogamy, so. And I was watching a series on Netflix about serial killers, and in a weird moment I made that connection, between the urge to cheat and the urge to kill.”
Goldenvoice Presents CLARE MAGUIRE
27.11.16 LONDON WAITING ROOM
26.10.16 LEEDS BECKETT SU
27.10.16 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 1
09.06.16 LONDON RED GALLERY
+ LITTLE CUB
14.06.16 THE PICKLE FACTORY
PARQUET COURTS 14.06.16 BRISTOL TRINITY
12.10.16 HOVE THE OLD MARKET
KAMASI WASHINGTON 27.06.16 GLASGOW QUEEN MARGARET UNION
28.06.16 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2 29.06.16 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE 30.06.16 BRISTOL ANSON ROOMS
THE STRUMBELLAS 05.07.16 HOXTON SQUARE BAR & KITCHEN
AIDA VICTORIA 07.07.16 LONDON SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS
12.07.16 OUT SOLD LONDON THE GARAGE
13.07.16 LONDON OSLO
26.07.16 LONDON THE PICKLE FACTORY
08.10.16 LONDON THE DOME 09.10.16 LONDON THE DOME
17.10.16 BRIGHTON HAUNT 20.10.16 OXFORD O2 ACADEMY 2 21.10.16 NORWICH ARTS CENTRE 22.10.16 SOUTHAMPTON BROOK 26.10.16 LONDON O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN 27.10.16 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 29.10.16 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE2
19.10.16 LEEDS WARDROBE 21.10.16 MANCHESTER DEAF INSTITUTE
24.10.16 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY
28.10.16 LIVERPOOL GUILD OF STUDENTS 31.10.16 BRIGHTON DOME 03.11.16 NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY 07.11.16 COVENTRY EMPIRE 08.11.16 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY 10.11.16 LONDON ROUNDHOUSE
27.10.16 SCALA LONDON
31.10.16 LONDON 100 CLUB
22.10.16 NOTTINGHAM BODEGA
02.11.16 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE
25.10.16 LONDON ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL
26.10.16 BRISTOL TRINITY CENTRE
23.10.16 BRISTOL TRINITY CENTRE 28.10.16 LONDON ROUNDHOUSE 01.11.16 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE
23.10.16 BIRMINGHAM RAINBOW 25.10.16 BRISTOL LOUISIANA 26.10.16 BRIGHTON KOMEDIA
02.11.16 LONDON SCALA
04.11.16 BRIGHTON CENTRE 05.11.16 PLYMOUTH PAVILLIONS 06.11.16 SWINDON OASIS CENTRE 12.11.16 BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY
BILLY BRAGG & JOE HENRY
07.11.16 OUT SOLD LONDON UNION CHAPEL 08.11.16 OUT SOLD LONDON UNION CHAPEL
15.11.16 LONDON THE TROXY 16.11.16 LONDON THE TROXY
08.06.16 LONDON ELECTROWERKZ
23.11.16 BRIGHTON HOPE & RUIN
JUN – NOV
06.06.16 T LD OU SOPANCRAS ST OLD CHURCH
Even mice vape these days. Who knew!
E lohim A synth-sheened new sensation.
Once in a blue moon, the world gets a song like Halsey’s ‘New Americana’ - a stop-you-inyour-tracks triumph on every airwave going. Had Halsey’s world domination not already happened, the path would be open for Elohim, a more elusive but equally exciting pop sensation. The Los Angeles newcomer’s debut EP is full of striking, crunching synth pop, the kind you’d pour milk on for breakfast. Similar to: Chvrches on a death cruise. Listen: Elohim’s debut EP is out now via B3SCI.
The Bay Rays
An amplified instant fix. This October, thrashing fellas The Bay Rays join forces with Neu favourites ESTRONS for a massive DIY Presents UK tour. The former are fresh out the water, a fuzz-backed Kent trio who specialise in rollicking, old school rock ’n roll. Debut track ‘Four Walls’ has a Drenge-style momentum, while ‘New Home’ showcases the magic of three guys sharing a space and making brilliant noise. Similar to: A pissed-up Drenge on a road trip down the States. Listen: ‘Four Walls’ is an allthrills debut. 32
Jodie Abacus Smile-inducing smoothness.
Back in October last year, Jodie Abacus released the stupidly happy ‘Good Feeling’, a glistening dose of vitamin-stuffed pop. The smile still hasn’t been wiped off his face, and since then he’s worked with friendly songwriting giant Tobias Jesso Jr., as well as starring on DIY’s Great Escape stage last month. Similar to: Thundercat racing towards the charts. Listen: ‘She’s in Love With the Weekend’ is his slick latest single.
Muna throw everything at the wall, before seeing what sticks. Fortunately, 99.9% of their funk, soul & electronic pop hybrid is made of gold. The Los Angeles trio’s debut EP is as buzzy as they come - a Fleetwood Mac-nodding hype train that stops in Haim-ville and Lorde-town. Similar to: Every massive pop breakthrough from the last few years, rolled into one. Listen: ‘The Loudspeaker EP’ is out now on National Anthem.
All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
Nao we’re talking It’s been a busy, buzzy month for Nao. The Class of 2016 Londoner was on Jools last month, turning heads en masse. She’s also revealed her video for ‘Fool to Love’, plus huge UK dates, including London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire in November.
NO laughing Masa Brighton-via-Guernsey producer Mura Masa is getting crafty. He’s shared some new music via an album documentary, combining behind the scenes tomfoolery with choice cuts. It’s all leading towards a debut LP and a UK tour, starting September.
AND she’s (finally!) announced her debut album, ‘For All We Know’. It’s out this July and it’s going to be amazing. She hasn’t confirmed a tracklist, but chances are this year’s massive ‘Fool to Love’ single will feature - last year’s ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘It’s You’ ought to get a look in, too.
Get in Formation Cowbell-hugging dance pop gems Formation are edging closer towards a debut record. They’ve also shared ‘Pleasure’, the anti-apathy juggernaut they’ve always been destined to make. Will Ritson knows it, too. He told Zane Lowe the band are “really showing the world who we are now.” As for the album, expect all sorts. “There’s some real free jazz saxophone. Some ballads. Some hip-hop-esque stuff.” Stick to the bangers, lads.
Seven hours later, Isaac was still mesmerised by the pigeon.
ust one show into his first headline tour and Isaac Gracie’s already exhausted. The whirlwind of hype that’s surrounded the singersongwriter since his ‘Last Words’ demo courted Zane Lowe spins and major label offers by the bucketload seems to have torn his sails somewhat. “It’s weird, you know? All of it came off the back of one song, as well…” he ponders ahead of a debut London bill-topper.
Purpose-built for those year-ending lists of ‘The Next Big Thing Whether You Like It Or Not’, Isaac’s tender acoustic balladry’s destined to be everywhere as the year progresses. “I’ve found it quite hard to write,” he admits. “When everything starts getting a bit serious and your life changes, you have to start to re-evaluate what matters and what your goal is and what makes you happy and stuff… As soon as you’ve got a lot of people looking at you… you’re writing the song, and you’re thinking about everything to do with writing the song, and you’re hyper-analysing - you’re thinking, ‘Who’s it for? Is it me?’ All these questions, it gets in the way.” That said, his busy schedule’s finally reaping the rewards he craves. “What is the worth of 100,000 views on Soundcloud?!” he laughs, “compared to seeing someone actually truly relate to your song – actually feeling it.” “All this music industry jargon, it’s all just steps on the ladder. It doesn’t really mean anything to me that I’m headlining a bill, because it’s obviously to very small crowds. The main thing to me is that it’s a more intimate or more purposeful endeavour – the actual act of playing has more purpose, because you know that people are potentially switched on to it.”
Isaac Gracie A sure-fire bet for massive success, this singer-songwriting sensation’s hit peak buzz before he’s even out of the demo stage. Words: Tom Connick. Photo: Mike Massaro.
Those crowds are only going to swell in size, but Isaac’s ready for the challenge. Citing Jeff Buckley as a huge influence – “nothing compares to when he has a full band going and everything’s really powerful, you know?” – he’s ready to break free of the softer side, and fill the massive academies, arenas and (whisper it) stadiums that are no-doubt awaiting him. “I produced my demos and stuff – the ones which have been on the EP – and all of that was just on GarageBand, and me trying to make something out of a song that was inherently just me and my guitar. In the future – by the time the album comes out - it’d be nice to play with a band.” DIY Isaac Gracie will play Latitude and Reeperbahn. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
ANOTHER BRICK IN WALL’S WORLD DOMINATION Brooklyn’s most exciting post-punks get real in their home city. Words: El Hunt. Photos: Cheryl Georgette Arent.
ALL’s haunt of choice tonight (22nd April) in Bushwick is incredibly fitting – if perhaps slightly coincidental. Along with conveniently being another word for.. well, a wall, Palisades is slap-bang wallop in the middle of the post-punks’ adopted stomping ground; serving up cut price tinnies, with a side-serving of scrawl-covered toilets, covered in visiting bands’ autographs. Barely contained and dangerous sounding, like a volatile chemical lump on the teetering razor-edge of self-destruction, WALL feed off the messy, dusty chaos that saturates New York’s air.
The must-see new music gigs taking place this month. Buzzy first steps Sweat Moth Club • London • 17th June Everyone’s going on about these weirdpop pioneers; a Jungle-style collective who sport dodgy shades and pack clever songs.
Slightly surreal, endlessly unforgiving and forever monochrome, they follow in an abrasive tradition of New York post-punks that match up to their hectic home of choice. Like their equally absurdist contemporaries Parquet Courts, the band’s core touchstones are familiar ones, sure; the tinfoil-coated Velvet Underground, the fuzzing Television, and Sonic Youth’s impossibly meticulous puppet control of barely contained noise. One thing marks WALL out. They’ve got that unnameable, hard-topin-down quality as a band which whacks you round the chops without warning. The only reaction is to stand bolt upright and pay full attention.
Frontman Sam York - in possession of an often-menacing, occasionally-frenzied drawl - leads with calculated, rising urgency during the mean ‘Cuban Cigar’, and there’s an odd, magnetic weighting of syllables to her every delivery. “Crinkled, ageing, washed up, faded, conquered, jaded,” she chants over the gut-punching abrasion of ‘Last Date’, trying each word on for size and then tossing it out into the room. It brings a sort of poetry to WALL’s otherwise unforgiving onslaught, and it’s a tension that only grows more potent by the minute. They might still be laying down their first foundations as a band but they’ve evidently got grand designs in mind. DIY
Racking up the airmiles
Elvis Depressedly UK • 8th-17th June Amassing seven albums, it’s about time Mat Cothran booked his first ever UK tour. He’ll be stopping over in London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow. See the full schedule on diymag.com. Rationale Knitting Factory • Brooklyn • 9th June Hyped London producer (and pal of cover star Bastille) Rationale makes head-turning, slick pop - the kind you couldn’t replicate even if you had an exact recipe. He plays his first US shows this month. 35
' ITs a wild world
Bastille’s journey over the past four years has been ridiculous. Platinum-selling albums, BRIT Award victories and
worldwide tours are now part and parcel for the quartet, but they’re not content with looking back. Now, they march
forward, bringing new album ‘Wild World’ with them.
words: SArah jamieson. Photos: Mike Massaro
lot can change in four years. Back in June 2012, an unknown S o u t h London quartet were beginning to make their mark. Their second single ‘Bad Blood’ was fresh to ears. It would take another nine months for the band to release their debut full-length of the same name. And yet within that time, their entire lives would be turned upside down. If someone had sat Bastille down
to explain what was about to happen, they wouldn’t have – couldn’t have – believed it. The list of their achievements so far goes on and on: from four million albums sold to a British Breakthrough BRIT Award tucked neatly in their collective (metaphorical) belt, it’s all a little hard to comprehend. Not least for the band themselves. But worldwide success and Grammy nominations aren’t things to dwell on. It’s time to look forward. “Whenever people recount what we’ve got up to over the last few years in a few sentences, it always
sounds ridiculous,” frontman Dan Smith admits. “It feels like it happened to us but also kinda didn’t.” Dan is sat with bandmate Kyle Simmons in a South London pub not all too far away from where he lives, pretty much back where it all began. It’s the first time they’ve opened up about their next step - new album ‘Wild World’ and, as ever, they’re both much more keen on thinking about what comes next. “We’ve never wanted to succumb to sitting around, patting each other on the back because, well, what’s the fucking point?” he continues. “There’s always a million other interesting things
to think about! I think we’ve been so obsessive over the new record, and looking forward, that we haven’t really had time to think back.” As anyone vaguely familiar with Bastille – Dan and Kyle are joined by drummer Chris ‘Woody’ Wood and bassist Will Farquarson - already knows, the foursome stop just short of workaholics. Since the release of ‘Bad Blood’ in 2013, they’ve spent almost two years on the road, while last summer, as their campaign was winding down, they still managed to clock
“We made that first record in quite an unselfconscious way. It was a bit of a hodgepodge of ideas and things we loved at the time, and we just put it out. Then, inevitably, when you tour a set of music for a long time, you see people react
Despite so many varying ingredients, the record is still, at its core, a Bastille album. Each track comes packed with its own story, its own personality, the only constraints being its perfectly-formed pop mould. This time around, however, their moves are - consciously - bigger and bolder. “If we wanted the swagger of an old hip hop tune, we didn’t want to shy away from it, we wanted to go for it. If we wanted to use slightly obscure, ridiculous quotes from 70s sci-fi films, and a massive horn riff, then a big old beat, we would.” “I remember in the early days,” he thinks back,
It’s an approach that’s spilled over into the album’s lyrical themes too: while ‘Bad Blood’ saw Dan draw inspiration from mythology and cinema, ‘Wild World’ focuses in more on the human condition. While some songs tackle how we endlessly absorb the horrors of the world through media outlets and television sets, or our newfound fascination for true crime, he also explores our innate need for relationships and human connection. “Conceptually, the song that really started tying it together was ‘Warmth’,” he confirms. “That was the track that articulated, for the first time, how overwhelming it can seem to be watching or reading the news and it seeming so mad a n d confusing. It’s about figuring out
- Dan Smith
“Just in terms of influences alone,” continues Kyle, “we were in a very different situation writing this album than the first one.” “We’ve made a lot more music than what’s ended up on this second album,” adds Dan. “Along with the mixtapes, we’ve almost made two or three second albums. We were exploring much darker R&B, much heavier guitar stuff and soon we did this roundabout route back to what we initially loved about Bastille.”
“a journalist was trying to describe who we were, to pigeonhole us into a genre, and we almost had a bit of an argument about it. I didn’t know, or really care, what genre we were and we’ve never cared. Within what we do, there’s intimacy and ridiculous bombast; anything and everything in between. There are moments of darkness and moments of fun and the kind of music we want to make - the kind of band we want to be - is experimental and tireless and, we constantly, from song to song, want to have some reinvention.”
we want to do it ourselves.”
“We put that trailer out and then basically went and spent a lot of time back where we made the first album,” explains Dan, referencing the studio where they worked with collaborator Mark Crew on the debut. “It’s a weird one where we’ve been travelling and making music in all these mad and very different places, but then ultimately, we came back to this tiny little room, under an estate in South London, with Mark, and that’s where it’s come together.”
to it positively and negatively.” That’s what sometimes drives bands to push against expectations. While Bastille are no strangers to that - “I mean, we rejected the idea of guitars on the first album, then we thought, ‘No, fuck, guitars are amazing!’” they found themselves deciding to scratch every creative itch along the way, before throwing all sorts of ideas into the process.
“We want to evolve and change, but
in over twenty festival appearances across the globe. They’re also constantly working on new material, which has wound its way onto three different mixtapes, as well as a deluxe edition of their debut. The fact they’ve somehow found time to make an album in amongst it all seems almost superhuman. Yet – as Dan recently revealed in their recent ‘LP2’ teaser video – it was: written on tour buses, in back stage a r e a s and hotel rooms across the world, there’s a little bit of all of those places embedded into ‘Wild World’ itself.
intimacy and ridiculous bombast;
anything and everything in between.” - Dan Smith ways to react against that, and sometimes that is just running to the person that you love because they’re the perfect distraction in that situation.” “It’s just about trying to have an honest reaction to things. A song like ‘The Currents’,” a number the group aired live for the first time at Austria’s Snowbombing Festival back in April, “alludes to hearing people - be they high profile or just in the pub expressing opinions that you just can’t comprehend.” “Opinions that are so ridiculous, they can’t be real,” adds Kyle. “It’s about how you surround yourself with like-minded people, and when someone infiltrates that group, it’s like, ‘What is that?!’” “I mean, we’re not offering a solution,” the frontman continues, “it’s just about that human reaction. That song is about the need to get out and completely escape, to fill your lungs with some fresh air because it can be depressing to hear all that crap, that hateful talk and lies.” But while ‘Wild World’ may touch upon some of the more politically-charged moments of our everyday lives, it’s also about seeing the beauty in escapism and, quite simply, having fun. “It was really fun to make,” he
I KEEP ON
Just days ago, Bastille revealed the first taste of ‘Wild World’ in the form of a ‘mysterious’ trailer. Dan gives us a bit insight into what exactly it
of an means.
“We’ve sort of been toying with this imagery of falling backwards - and that idea that you’re in a mid-state of either jumping or being pushed - and landing, or whatever happens at the bottom. That feeling’s a bit of a rush, and it’s kind of scary, but when you’re resigned to it… It’s about reacting to the situation that you’re in. Last summer, during festival season, we had this sculpture hanging behind us of a falling man and this video is very much about that. There are people looking up and there’s this person falling, but they’re not scared, they’re not sad.” “It’s about that sense of a lack of control and maybe resigning yourself to it, but also being in the moment and maybe enjoying that. It’s about all of those complications that are provoked in you. We’ve all had a falling dream, we’ve all woken up with a start and you’re not dead at the end of it. For ages, I just had this idea and we wanted to start with something really evocative and provokes a lot of questions.”
confirms. “I don’t want it to seem too much like we’re sitting in a corner, shaking at the daunting nature of the world - we’re not at all. It’s also about how fucking awesome people are, and how it’s fine to have someone as a crutch, because people are wicked and funny. In a song like ‘Warmth’, it’s about losing yourself physically in somebody, while a song like ‘Snakes’ is about that ‘Fuck it, it’s Friday’ feeling. Some of
the best times you can have are with your best friends or complete strangers. It’s about reacting to the world and within that, finding and relying on those connections which make everyday life fun and the reason to get up in the morning.” Despite the list of accolades and gigantic numbers thrown in their direction since the release of ‘Bad Blood’, the band aren’t letting the pressure of expectation get to them. While most groups in their position could have been tempted to team up with big name producers, or head into fancy studios,
Bastille knew that after such a long time on the road, the best place to go was home. “It’s just a very different situation,” Dan admits. “I think going back to that studio represents all the hard work that went into the first record, and then went into this one again. It was almost bare-faced determination from us. It was important to us because, in being away so much, there’s something about coming home. To be like, ‘Fuck you, we’re gonna do what we want to do, it’s gonna be different and we’re gonna do it ourselves.’”
“The first time around, we didn’t really think about it.” Now, however, people are ready and waiting. “This time, there are some people out there who care, and are really gonna want to hear what we’ve done next. We know that there’ll be people out there who loved the first album and maybe don’t like this one, but maybe there’ll be people who hated the first one, but like stuff on this one.” “We’re kind of standing on the
Eye-ful Tower, geddit?.
“The kind of music we want to make is
tireless.” - dan Smith
edge right now,” he laughs. A few months away from the record’s release, they’re still figuring out its final touches, but if one thing’s certain, it’s that they’ve done things exactly the way they wanted. “In six months’ time, it could’ve all fallen to shit and we could be looking for jobs, we don’t know! Within this world of Bastille, we want to evolve and change, but we want to do it ourselves.” Bastille’s new album ‘Wild World’ is out later this year via Virgin EMI. DIY Bastille will play Wild Life and Open’er. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
Between stolen laptops, sweaty stages and a break-up, Kacey Underwood
NO BIG and Alice Costelloe were dealt a rot ten hand while making
‘Say Yes’. It ended up their most victorious album yet.
“We went through so much shit making it, we thought ‘fuck it!’” - Alice Costelloe 44 diymag.com
Words: El Hunt. Photos: Mike Massaro
s rotten luck and tricky obstacles go, it’s fair to say that while making third album ‘Say Yes’, Big Deal were privy to just a few. After breaking up with each other and somehow overcoming all that related fall-out without too much anguish, Big Deal’s Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe broke up with their record label, too. The duo took a giant leap of faith, cobbling together the money to self-fund the record, and after months of graft and rebuilding, finding a new label and road-testing new material on tour, they lost everything all over again. After accidentally letting some shady characters into their house party, Kacey and Alice woke up the next morning with more than woozy hangovers. They realised all their demos had been stolen.
“We looked at the table where Kacey’s laptop always was, and it wasn’t there,” remembers Alice. “I’ve never felt like that before. ‘Oh my god, all this work is gone.’” “It fell into line with a lot of things happening that year,” Kacey points out. “Things blowing up and falling to pieces, going missing, or starting again.” Still, for all the chaos and difficulty that paints the new album’s backdrop, ‘Say Yes’ as a lead slogan alone is an affirmative statement. It’s a life-grabbing album title in a nutshell; one that opens itself to every new experience. And despite the lyrical vulnerability of songs like ‘Still My Dream’ and ‘Don’t Forget’ – starkly honest songs that could easily be conversations between the band’s heartbroken lead singers – there’s nothing gloomy or defeated about this record. Saccharine vocals coat like sherbet, in tense contrast with a bitter-laced dib-dab of clouded melodies. Time and time again, the pair make zesty, sugary lemonade out of sour lemons. ‘Say Yes’ is braver, bolder, and riffier than anything Big Deal have done previously – not to mention it’s rollickingly great fun. “We went through so much shit making it, we thought ‘fuck it!’” agrees Alice with a cheerful shrug. “Not as in ‘I don’t care anymore’. As in, ‘I don’t want to hide or be private anymore.’ Hopefully all of that,” she goes on, referring to Big Deal’s various stumbling blocks en route, “adds something positive to the record, as well. It’s very much about overcoming what’s handed to you, and things going wrong. That definitely inspired us.” Big Deal’s biggest moment of realisation, however, came while they were supporting Depeche Mode on
a gigantic stadium tour. A roasting hot arena (“they heat the stage really hot, so it’s like Bikram yoga,” according to Alice) and a troupe of leather-clad electroheads for company isn’t the most conventional setting for an epiphany, granted. “You see a band like Depeche Mode – and you think, ‘Why not just go for it?’” reasons Kacey. “‘What are we saving it for?’ We do really believe in this, and we are happy with this, so it’s time to own up to it.”
DEAL OR NO DEAL “Do you need a triangle player?! Pick me! Please!”
Having to compete with flickering lasers, sweaty stage conditions and twenty thousand-odd people gathered in one giant venue sounds like a perfect recipe for having the shit scared out of you. Yet, for Big Deal, it’s where they realised exactly what they wanted the band to become. “We’re both quite private, and shy,” admits Alice. “On the first, and even through the second [albums], onstage we’d always be very closed and hiding. Touring with Depeche Mode in arenas, we thought, ‘oh my god, you can’t hide.’” “And now,” grins Kacey, “we wear leather!” Big Deal might not have morphed into Hells Angels or Moog-loving electropunks overnight, but they’ve certainly cranked things up several notches. “When we made the first record [‘Lights Out’], our mums and grannies liked it!” exclaims a slightly horrified Alice. “We were like, ‘What have we done?!’ I guess that’s the aim,” she ponders. “Make sure your parents don’t like it. My grandma liked the quiet songs on [second album] ‘June Gloom’ and she very sweetly put it on her old lady’s table at her house,” Alice smiles, “with the white tablecloth and trinkets.” It’s safe to say that monstrous, fired-up moments like ‘Hold Your Fire’ and ‘Lux’ would knock the socks off any tea dance. Newly signed to FatCat – who they approached with a long-finished ‘Say Yes’ - Big Deal freely state that this record feels like the turning of a chapter, and the beginning steps toward a whole new realm of possibilities. “We’re still in the womb, but we’re ready to burst out any moment in a flood of ectoplasmic goo,” says Kacey, deploying a charming piece of imagery in the process. “Nah!” interjects Alice. “We’ll emerge like one of those babies in the movies where they come out without any gunk on them, with a full head of hair. They look beautiful already.” “Yeah,” nods Kacey, “I feel like we’re finally the band I’ve always wanted us to be.” Big Deal’s new album ‘Say Yes’ is out 10th June via FatCat. DIY
Throw us the mere hint of a decent pun, and we’ll run with it. With this in mind, we challenged Big Deal to a game of Deal of No Deal. In doing so, we were responsible for American Kacey’s first ever introduction to Mr Blobby. We’re so sorry. You’re offered a million pounds on a plate, and you can have it if you eat an entire bowl of prune flavoured baby food. Deal or no deal? Alice: Oh my god, deal! I’d do that for ten pounds! I don’t even mind prunes. Kacey: That’s an easy one for us. We kinda like baby mushy foods. Deal. Blouse-wearing annoyance Noel Edmonds offers to disappear off the face of the earth forever, but in return, Mr Blobby will always follow you, everywhere. He will be hiding in every room you ever go in. Do you take the deal? Alice: Kacey’s lived in England for ten years, and he still has no concept of Mr Blobby, let alone Noel Edmonds. He doesn’t even know who the Chuckle Brothers are! When we load in, I try to start up ‘to me, to you’ but nothing. He’s a British kids’ character, Kacey. He’s a bit weird. Kacey: [Is stunned and silent as he views a photograph of Mr Blobby and Noel Edmonds for the first time in his life] Oh my god. I think that’s a no deal for me, then. I’m sure that guy is annoying. He seems mean to me, from that picture. But I can’t. That thing is terrifying. Kim Deal offers to be your official MC. Every time you enter a room,
she’ll appear to introduce you in a very badass way. There’s a catch. Every time you sneeze, you’ll spontaneously start singing ‘Cannonball’ by The Breeders. Deal or No Deal? Alice: Deal! That sounds like the perfect sneeze! Kacey: I might try that, because I do these horrible, epic sneezes which freak people out. Alice: Although I feel like if Kim Deal introduces you, people are a bit let down by the time you walk up… You can have a superpower where you win every quiz you ever enter. In return, you can only eat Tesco Meal Deals. For the rest of your life. Alice: Oh shit! When I went to 6th form, I only had access to a really shitty Tesco. It was either a meal deal, or you starved. I have eaten so many sandwiches that taste like fridge already, and I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life. Kacey: I mean, I could go on the game shows and win loads of money… Alice: You’d be in the Bahamas with a meal deal, Kacey! Kacey: That’d be okay. I wouldn’t get joy from food anymore, but I’d give a lot of money to people who don’t have food at all. There you go.
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NOW THE CR IBS THE JESUS A ND M A RY CH A IN SPECTOR
C A R L BA R AT & THE JACK A LS
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SH A ME
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THE LUCID DR E A M GA RY THE TA LL ( NTS) D/ R / U/G/S DJ SEX CELLS
Tarek Musa . Plays: Drums, vocals. Did you know? Tarek and Pete used to be in a band called The Bodyboarders. They made sunny-sideup surf pop, tongues firmly in cheek. And they were also very, very young. Just look how baby-faced they are. Favourite food: “A Thai green curry. I like Thai food a lot.” Favourite album of all time: The Beach Boys, ‘Pet Sounds’. “Has to be. It’s what inspired me to start Spring King.”
FO R M E D Spring King
started out as a cobbled-together, ‘that’ll-do’ project. Three years
on and on the brink of a massive breakthrough, with one of the year’s best debuts by their side, DIY heads to Manchester to discover exactly what makes their dynamic so special. Words Jamie Milton. Photos: Amin Musa
Andy Morton Plays: Guitar. Did you know? Andy wants to train to be a masseuse. He likes to “relax as much as physically possible” when he’s not touring, so this is the logical next step. “I’m really keen to learn about that. That’s about a year course, but you can do it in parts. “ Favourite food: “It’s gotta be pasta. Especially the filled pasta. Tortellini and Kinder Buenos. Maybe in the same dish.”
Pete Darlington Plays: Guitar. Did you know? Pete used to scout for 4AD, as well as running his own label. “My dream as a kid was to start a record label,” he says. “I was really inspired by labels where the artists control everything. Our earliest releases were always like that. And we self-released ‘Who Are You?’. But, maybe a year ago, I thought, ‘Fuck doing the record stuff.’ I needed to be in the band. Favourite football team: Macclesfield Town. Worst musical habit: “I have a bad posture when I play guitar. It’s something I have to be conscious of now, because my shoulder’s actually been damaged. I’m always leaning in to play. It’s a bad technique, but then I got really bad pains and had to see a physio about it.”
A BA N D James Green Plays: Bass. Did you know? James has his own electronic project, Claremont. “When I went to uni, I was hoping to find all these proper indie kids who listened to The Drums. But there was just nobody into the same kind of stuff,” he says. “I was practicing production on my own. It’s way easier to practice than working in a band. It’s a nice way to spend time as something separate outside of the band. Whenever we’re off tour, I work on Claremont. Otherwise I’d completely lose my mind.” Favourite football team: James is a Burnley season-ticket holder, but the touring life means he only catches the odd game. Favourite album: “Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’. The start of ‘Disorder’ is just the most powerful thing. Amazing.”
his time last year, Spring King probably didn’t expect to be sharing a room with Jools Holland, Elton John and Bloc Party. They’ve always been a confident bunch, but chances are they didn’t see themselves playing one of the best TV debuts in recent memory, either. Then again, these last twelve months haven’t exactly been standard fare. Slightly more likely than Leicester winning the Premier League, Spring King’s rise still wasn’t written in stone. Whisked from relative obscurity into the hands of a major label, they’re selling out tours all over the shop, making inroads with every step. Forthcoming debut album, ‘Tell Me If You Like To’, is a rough-edged blueprint for anyone thinking about starting a band. It dishes out one thrashing triumph after another, but it also teaches a few lessons, the smartest being: a journey from bedroom-based chancers to soon-to-be giants won’t be easy, but plug away relentlessly and your luck will change. Their story is fairly simple, from the outside. Tarek Musa started the project in an empty house, while his parents were away for the year. Guitarist Pete Darlington stayed there, too. Fellow guitarist Andy Morton and bassist James Green soon got involved. They spent years self-releasing, touring with big names like Slaves and Courtney Barnett, gaining a dedicated mob of fans along the way. Their fortunes took a ridiculously surprising turn in June last year, when Zane Lowe chose hellraising single ‘City’ to be the first song ever played on his Beats 1 station. Labels flocked in droves. A&Rs who wouldn’t give Tarek and co. the time of day suddenly had them on speed dial. They signed a deal with Island, who told the band to do what they always do - no outside producers, nobody peering over their shoulder. Three weeks later, they had a debut record. It’s all very, very exciting. Few things compare to watching a relentlessly hard-working, refreshingly enthusiastic band get their big break. And if everything goes to plan, ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ will send them skywards. But their story started years ago. And it’d be foolish to put their success down to one game-changing radio play. A week before their momentous Jools Holland appearance,
nerves don’t appear to be in the air. The four of them are packing up their gear at Manchester’s Blueprint Studios. It’s a swanky space with its own bar, and the band rent it out whenever they’re approaching a tour (or a big deal telly appearance, as you do). Elbow use the vast expanse upstairs, and countless musicians choose Blueprint as a base. Retreating to a nearby café, it’s clear things used to be a little more makeshift. Their first rehearsal took place a couple of miles away, at Brunswick Mill - “literally a huge, dilapidated mill,” as Andy describes it. James turned up without having played the bass before. They rented the space for a couple of hours, paying no more than twenty quid. “You go through these huge metal gates, you’re taken through this weird path that goes through unused fridges. This little room, no carpet brick walls falling down,” Andy says, picturing the scene. “There was no light. One lightbulb in the room, and the speakers had holes in them. I tried to pay the guy and he told us to leave money on the table,” Tarek remembers. James first got involved when he responded to Tarek’s Facebook status, where he asked if anyone he knew could play bass. A few people got in touch, but Tarek replied to James because “he just looked like he’d never been in bands before.” He was the “only guy smiling” in his profile picture, for starters. “He looked really enthusiastic. Whereas us three are miserable old gits. We needed some energy in the band! James brought that.” Pete remembers the first rehearsal being more than encouraging. “It was shit, but it was a good shit,” he astutely declares. “I thought there was a good energy to it.” James was keen too. He “definitely did not buy a bass” straight after, though. “I had a great time, but it wasn’t £300 great.” As it turned out, Andy and James lived round the corner from each other. “Oranjeboom brought us together,” says Andy. The pair would buy beer cans, set up a den and play video games every day. It all sounds very productive. In fact, Andy first got involved in music when playing Halo. “One day I was on the Xbox Live,” remembers Pete. “And I was playing with Andy, who I’d just met in the skate park. I was like, ‘Mate, can you play guitar?’ He couldn’t. But I told him all he needed to do was play the A chord over and over again. He was like, ‘Sure thing.’ And we booked a gig without telling him.”
“O U R F I R S T REHEARSAL WA S S H I T, B U T
I T WA S A GOOD S H I T. ” - P E T E
DA R L I N G T O N
Pete Spring King is flying without wings. 51
“That was my first ever gig, and I played a clarinet solo,” Andy says, recalling those patchwork days. “I can’t play clarinet either.” Needless to say, looking back on those first steps, Spring King didn’t look destined to go as far as they already have. But there was a spirit in their early recordings - and those cobbled-together rehearsals - that gave them something to chase. Tarek was encouraged by Pete to take up the ‘singing drummer’ role, much to the former’s distress. “I gave [playing drums and singing] a go in my bathroom,” he says. “I remember being breathless, playing the drums and trying to sing. I was like ‘We can’t do this, it’s impossible.’ But we did it anyway. Why did we do it, again?” “I forced you to do it,” Pete pipes in. “Because I think the sound of the drums in Spring King is integral to the sound of the band. Tarek’s got quite an individual style, and we’d never find someone who could replicate it. Therefore he had to do it. Otherwise the band wouldn’t be a real band. That’s how I felt, anyway. It was a bit shaky in the beginning but now it’s second nature.”
in school.” Music that mimicked hip hop records, “where you rap and lower your voice.” A few years passed, and by this point Pete was doing a music industry internship in New York. Somehow, Tarek convinced him to come back to Manchester and get involved in his new band, Kankouran. Things were taking off for the group when a song was commissioned to soundtrack teen drama Skins. “The band started getting crazy attention, having done fuck all,” Pete states, “and then that fell apart. One of the other members didn’t really have his heart in it. And then we were back at square one again. I was back from New York but had no work. That was definitely a down period.” As the years passed, everyone involved persisted with music, to the point where Spring King made them quit work, ditch home and travel the world. Only recently has it become an actual job, but this strange early history is full of fascinating nearly-moments. What if Pete stayed in New York? What if Andy wasn’t playing Halo with Pete at the time? What if some grumpy cynic replied to the bass advert, instead of James? What if Tarek hadn’t ended up horrendously pissed one night, to the point where he recorded debut Spring King track ‘Let’s Ride’ in a drunken haze? That’s the magic of a great band. So many variables come into play. So many pivotal moments which probably seemed like nothing at the time, but actually end up being key when considered today. To this day, all four have never recorded in the same room together. It sounds like some kind of One Direction, separate private jet scenario, only a bit more low-budget. But it’s more a move that’s come out of circumstance. Tarek’s bathroom studio was too small to fit everyone in. And in the three weeks where they recorded ‘Tell Me If You Like To’, members were juggling jobs, travelling to the studio whenever possible.
“AT M Y F I R S T E V E R G I G , I P L AY E D A
CL ARINET S O L O. ”
- A N DY M O R T O N
Tarek and Pete have been friends since their teens. They’ve always made music together, too. Tarek handed Pete a cassette containing At The Drive-In and AFI, which sounds too good to be true, but it led Pete towards the music he’d always wanted to hear, and they decided to start a band. Together they made “a couple of joke albums, which made us celebrities
“If it was up to us, we’d have had two years to finish the album,” says Andy. And even though these bright, bursting songs have such a flame-lit energy, the production is “meticulous”, insists Pete. “To get it right, there’s a lot of subtle tweaking. It didn’t used to take time, but it does now.” They’ve emerged with a record that somehow captures those crazed early days, without being overwhelmed by chaos. ‘The Summer’ is a festival anthem in-waiting. ‘Demons’ is a hyper-paranoid call to arms. ‘Rectifier’, a single from last year, feels like a vital moment within this record, piecing together the band’s two extremes all-out noise and the sharpest eye for melody. Given the circumstances of how Spring King formed, even getting as far as making a full-length should be considered a triumph. But they go the extra mile, here. Newly-assured of their power and their place in the world, they’ve struck gold. Spring King’s debut album ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ is out 10th June via Island. DIY
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As she heads out on tour with latest album, ‘Puberty 2’, Mitski’s entering her longest stretch on the road to date, and leaving a lot behind. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Phil Smithies.
he New York apartment that Mitski Miyawaki desperately clung onto while her star quietly rose has finally gone. Now, the singer-songwriter’s choosing a quiet, cheap suburb of Philadelphia to base herself in for her precious few moments off tour. “I tried for so long to keep an apartment in Brooklyn while touring,” she begins, “but I would never be there and it was so much more trouble than it was worth. I really want a place to call my own and really settle into, but right now it can’t happen.” Having moved to the city to study six years ago at the age of nineteen, following stints in (deep breath) Turkey, Malaysia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and her birthplace of Japan, Mitski had reached “the end of the honeymoon period” in the run-up to recording fourth album, ‘Puberty 2’. It’s a feeling that spawned the album’s gigantic lynchpin and first single, ‘Your Best American Girl’.
“I wanted to be able to express these feelings without simply just laying out how I feel.” Mitski “I felt like I was now American, and therefore needed to put down roots, forge relationships and to be a real adult here,” she offers up. “That’s when you start to realise the conflicts of doing that. I’m also from Japan, and over there much more stress is put on being homogenous and part of the group. When there’s a natural disaster in Japan, everyone acts so quickly and orderly, because there’s such a sense of togetherness. I’m not putting down any cultural value, but in terms of being different, there’s more room to achieve that in the US. However, the US is extremely consumerist, so I think the ways you are allowed to be different are driven by that - you can be different, but only if you are still consuming.” The song’s striking video was one she never
envisaged - “It’s such a melodramatic song, and when you make a video to go with that kind of song, it often just becomes cheesy, and I was very afraid of that” - but an idea she couldn’t turn down when director Zia Anger came to her. ‘Your Best American Girl’ depicts Mitski struggling to grow into the home she’d made for herself in the US, and its accompanying clip reflects as much. Engaging in a bit of harmless flirtation with her dashing ‘All American’ co-star, things soon take a turn for the worse as a rival love interest walks on scene, causing Mitski to take things - quite literally - into her own hands when it comes to finding her place in the world. Even from just the record’s title, there’s a transitionary feeling from the off. Lyrically it’s an exercise in more abstract expression, with the singer beginning to add characters and outside elements to her tales. “None of the songs are fictional, but I wanted to be able to express these feelings without simply just laying out how I feel,” she explains. So she’s hurling herself into the record and everything that it’ll bring at breakneck speed. “It’s hard to think you have a real job as a musician when there’s no definite schedule. There’s no person telling you exactly what you should do no rules, no track you should go on. It’s hard to see it as a job when you don’t quite understand what your responsibilities are.” Is the fragmented lifestyle worth it? “Of course! This is my skill. Everyone gets that thing that they’re supposed to do - this is my thing.” “A lot of this job is about momentum,” she says, relishing the increased attention she’s had since the release of third album ‘Bury Me At Makeout Creek’ back in 2014. “Not just public momentum outside of yourself. It’s very easy to become complacent if you’re not proactive. It’s very easy to fall out of the habit of being a musician, as it’s a very specific kind of lifestyle and skill, and when you’re off tour for a long time, you remember how great it is just to live somewhere and have a routine.” That momentum looks set to continue, and right now stopping just isn’t an option. “When I finish recording an album, I always have an excess of songs ready to record next and carry on with. Without them I’d feel very lost.” Mitski’s new album ‘Puberty 2’ is out 17th June via Dead Oceans. DIY Mitski will play Reeperbahn. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
POP S T Y L From indie stalwarts to chart connoisseurs, Tegan and Sara are finally where they want to be: making perfect pop. Words: Charlie Mock
Tegan and Saraâ€™s stint as undercover cops is getting dangerous.
o reach the dizzy heights of album eight, an artist usually has a certain degree of success under their belt. With that, they’ve likely learnt what does and doesn’t make a good record, along with how the definition of ‘good’ fits comfortably within their sound. For Tegan and Sara, there’s little doubt surrounding their achievements or, for that matter, their ability to make a ‘good’ record. Fitting this comfortably within their ‘sound’, though? That’s where things get interesting.
“It’s not like we’ve arrived at this place out of nowhere,” Sara Quin begins, thinking carefully about exactly where she and identical twin Tegan find themselves. It’s a tough question for anyone to answer more specifically, particularly when they’ve been performing for nearly two decades. “[Even in 2007] my ears were already starting to gravitate towards things that now I perhaps just do all the time without thinking,” she considers. “I like when things are sort of, tailored and fixed and made to sound perfect.” Tailored is perhaps the best way of describing “the place” that Sara is talking about, that also plays host to the duo’s most ‘pop’ venture to date. ‘Love You To Death’ is a masterclass in 80s-inspired melodies and clean production. Here, synths need no signposting and hooks are as frequent as cat’s eyes in the road, guitars an all-but-distant memory for the Canadian pair so rapidly speeding along the highway from indie idols to Top 40 mainstays. “I think it’s too easy to write off pop music as being the same,” Sara says. “When I got out of high school, I didn’t think pop music was cool because I was like, a contrarian, you know?” she remembers, relaying the details of her minimum wage job and room in her parents’ basement. “I was grumpy and I was drawn to what was marginal, what was outside of the norm. I didn’t want to be normal, I didn’t want to listen to what was on the radio.”
But, she explains, as times changed she wanted different things from the music she was both listening to and creating. “I just don’t operate from that place anymore,” she says, looking back. “I’m 35 years old [now], and when I’m listening to music I’m not necessarily listening to it for the reasons I did when I was 18 or 19.” Naturally, then, as they’ve continued to push further into the world their younger selves had written off, Sara has become increasingly incensed with the haters. “I get really annoyed when people are like, “‘[pop music] all sounds the same!’ I’m like, ‘but what do you mean?’,” she says. “When people don’t like pop music, I think what they’re also saying is that they don’t like the pop music lifestyle - the idea that you’re this
branding machine that doesn’t have a soul.” “When people are like, ‘Fucking pop music sucks, I hate this award show because it’s going to be all those horrible pop musicians’, I just always think, ‘Oh well, they’re grumpy about all the kind of peripheral accoutrements that come with being on radio or on television or whatever’,” she continues. “Some of the most interesting ideas in songs are coming out of pop music,” she enthuses, looking back to Justin Timberlake’s 2006 masterpiece ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ to further evidence that it’s not just a recent development. Contrary to popular belief, pop isn’t just about fresh-faced boybands and the cyclical overuse of saxophones. Having long provided an arena for artists to express fluid sexual and gender identities on a mainstream platform, the pop world remains instrumental in bringing queerness to the attention of the masses - just look at the likes of Olly Alexander or Christine and The Queens. “It is a huge part of what helped change the majority opinion of the population around sexuality,” Sara emphasises, “I really think almost more than anything it did.”
continues, “people were doing things outside of the norm and it was exciting.” But then came the dark days. “The mainstream got super straight for a while,” Sara recalls of the hetero rock and indie artists that spearheaded the charts through the mid-90s and turn of the century. Though times have changed somewhat, it’s been a long haul. Touching upon lead single ‘Boyfriend’, Sara believes it wouldn’t have been possible to release a track so openly narrating a lesbian relationship as recently as five years ago. Not surprisingly, this isn’t because the banging chorus would’ve proven too much for us all to handle. Instead, she suggests, it’s because the mainstream’s discussion around queerness was coming not from members of the community. The likes of Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ and more recently, Demi Lovato’s ‘Cool For The Summer’ may have been called for interrogation, but Sara has just one thing to say. “To have a giant pop star basically singing ‘who gives a shit, I kissed a girl, it was great, I liked it’, that immediately changes things, it just does.”
And while some may be quick to dismiss the catchy tunes and even catchier costumes of our more fantastical stars, Sara maintains that the impact of free expression in the public eye can’t and shouldn’t be underestimated. For Sara, this freedom is most clearly embodied in one bonafide pop queen. “I think about Madonna a lot,” she says. “The first time I saw people who were gay on TV was in Madonna’s ‘Truth or Dare’ when I was in seventh grade,” she reminisces. “It opened a door in my mind and it allowed me to see something that I knew about myself but had not been able to see represented in society at all.”
That ‘Boyfriend’ was a response is a fair assumption; the song focuses on the complicated space between relationship and friendship that’s recognisable across any spectrum. By contrast, Lovato and Perry’s tracks are acutely aware of their ‘this isn’t what I usually do’ attitude, but it’s that the language is there at all which is so important, reckons Sara. “People underestimate how powerful that message is to society. These ideas around gender identity and sexuality and fluid identities, this language is just blasting into the mainstream right now and it’s awesome,” Sara continues, excited by the prospect of things to come, “It’s like, ‘Okay, this is getting a little gay again. This is great.’”
“In the 80s and early 90s with Bowie, with Madonna, with Prince - those characters who were gender fluid,” she
Tegan and Sara’s new album ‘Love You To Death’ is out 3rd June via Warner Bros. DIY
“It’s not like we’ve a r r i v e d at t h i s pl ac e out of nowhere.” Sara Quin
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RADIOHEAD A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)
On their ninth album, they’ve locked
or the last decade, every member of Radiohead has been given complete licence to do their own thing. Solo projects are allowed to come first, when the timing’s right. When the opportunity knocks to form a band with Flea, of all people, who says you can’t? Previously all-consuming, life in this band has taken on a new form. And every member of the group - if you include Colin Greenwood’s fashion show catwalk phase - has done their own thing.
The same applied to 2011’s ‘The King of Limbs’, Radiohead’s first attempt at rekindling magic after following opposite strands. There was nothing disastrous about that record; it showcased some of their smartest songwriting - the sound of five brilliantly talented musicians bouncing ideas off each other - and in a song like ‘Separator’, some of their most complete work. But looking back - and when comparing to follow-up ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ - it has a distinctly patchwork feel. No surprise, really, given the circumstances. But on their ninth album, it’s as if they’ve locked limbs once more for a bigger cause.
limbs once more for a bigger cause. Not only is ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ a rich transformation, lifting from previous Radiohead eras without ever playing the same hand - it’s also the first time the members’ own musical strands have merged so drastically. Like the best of their work, if you take one piece out of this jigsaw, the whole thing’s defunct: the house of cards supports itself. There are countless eureka moments: the tension of Thom Yorke’s voice when declaring “broken hearts make it rain” on ‘Identikit’, his closing line on ‘The Numbers’, the string-led bleakness of ‘Glass Eyes’. Each song - multi-dimensional in the extreme - has something special, lifted from a different
world. Best of all is ‘Ful Stop’, three blanket minutes of constant, deranged build, giving way to a breathless, euphoric interchange, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since ‘Bodysnatchers’. “This is some foul tasting medicine,” Thom spits, at his feverish best. With every Radiohead record, fans creep themselves out and speculate over it being their final bow. But beyond anything, ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ feels like the beginning of a new chapter - the first time these five have merged their own idiosyncrasies without compromising or crossing wires. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Ful Stop’, ‘Daydreaming’, ‘True Love Waits’ 61
Every massive act under the sun wants to release their album without warning. The days of announcing a record and waiting a few months are long gone. Everyone’s on their toes, waiting for so-and-so to make their next move. But is all of this worthwhile? Are artists getting back some of the power they might have lost when music started being sold for pennies? And most importantly, is this actually any fun?
What’s Going On, Then? Very few musicians could announce a record, put it out immediately and get the attention they deserve. But that doesn’t mean other chancers aren’t trying it. In the last six months, giants like Radiohead, Beyoncé, Kanye West and Drake have all gone for this option. James Blake, Chance the Rapper, M83 and Skepta have also taken the route of saying their album’s coming out, waiting between four hours and two weeks, before dropping the thing. These aren’t all strictly ‘surprise releases’. We know they’re coming, in some shape or another. But they all play a similar game. Most of the fun happens when fans are unlocking cryptic clues, gossiping on forums about the last Drake billboard they saw in Toronto, or figuring out what year Frank Ocean meant exactly, when he said ‘Boys Don’t Cry July’. This is happening months before a record comes out. It’s like having a front-row seat to the world’s most all-star pop show,
without knowing who’s going to peer out from behind the curtain first.
Why’s This Suddenly Happening? It’s less an all-new phenomenon, more something that’s been happening bit-by-bit for years. Radiohead were the first to shock the system. 2007’s ‘pay-what-you-like’ ‘In Rainbows’ was announced on 1st October with a very matter-of-fact message from Jonny Greenwood: “Well, the new album is finished, and it’s coming out in 10 days.” Up to that point, no album had dropped out-of-the-blue. Every record played the same game. Announce a few months in advance, get the critics on board, make sure record shops are fully stocked - watch the people flock. But in the years preceding ‘In Rainbows’, this routine was losing its purpose. Albums were leaking for free, months ahead of schedule.
Surprise! Everyone was making their own mind up on records long before big-wig journos had their say. And musicians were beginning to come last in the pecking order. Labels still dictated when records came out, promos sent to critics were appearing online - bands just sat back and watched it all happen. “We were trying to avoid that whole game of who gets in first with the reviews,” Thom Yorke explained to David Byrne in a Wired interview, around the time of that seventh album. “Whoever gets their opinion in first has all that power. Especially for a band like ours, it’s totally the luck of the draw whether that person is into us or not.” Shunning album reviewers was Thom’s main motivation, apparently. But the wayahead-of-schedule leak of previous LP ‘Hail to the Thief’ must have stung, too.
The Colour In Anything (POLYDOR) Polydor)
The go-to punchline for anyone searching for a “sadboy”, James Blake’s renowned for his melancholy. It’s an unfair pinning, really. He premiered Jamie xx tracks under the pretence they were new cuts from one “Simon Tallywhacker”, and created the character DJ Badger as an excuse to wheel Stephen Merchant onto his radio show. The class clown who still manages to get straight As, alongside those Radio 1 Residency japes his 1800-Dinosaur collective have been quietly penning some of UK dance’s most pulverising cuts, letting them loose under low ceilings and in dingy corners of every major city as part of their intimate club nights. Heartbroken though that solo work may be, there’s more to Blake than blubbing. Admittedly, he might not be cracking lyrical in-jokes with all the Saharan dryness of a Stewart Lee sketch, but every other facet of James’ personality is encased within ‘The Colour In Anything’. Stripped-back piano balladry (‘f.o.r.e.v.e.r.’ and the album’s title track) sits alongside club-influenced numbers like ‘Points’ and ‘I Hope My Life’. Blake’s trademark clicks and bleached-out percussion staple everything together without a seam in sight. His’ voice remains the deserving centrepiece. Still fragile, but now sounding more confident than ever, those pipes are warmer and thicker than ever before - every one of countless layers of that vocal which make up ‘Choose Me’’s choir-like opening sound fit to fill a cathedral. Where before even the slickest statements were crackly and nervous in their delivery, here he sounds ready to take on anything. “Music can’t be everything,” he ponders on ‘Meet Me In The Maze’. It’s a surprising statement from a man whose every move is analysed like the liner-notes of a high-art exhibition. Instead, he’s opted to shift the power balance, pouring his everything into the music itself and finding his multi-faceted personality on the front-foot like never before. (Tom Connick) LISTEN: ‘Radio Silence’, ‘I Need A Forest Fire (ft. Bon Iver)’ 63
Once Radiohead did their thing, the rest of the music world played catch up. It wasn’t until 2013 when another act tried something on a bigger scale. Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled album was dropped twelve days before Christmas (aka the time when music tends to have a well-earned rest). Each song had its own video. Nobody knew it was coming for a second, let alone a couple of days. She took the no-warning game to another level.
DEATH GRIPS Bottomless Pit
(Third Worlds / harvest records)
For a band who supposedly retired just last year, claiming to be over because “we are now at our best”, Death Grips are surprisingly busy. They’ve always been a provocative band, both musically and in their approach. Whether it’s faux retirements, not turning up to shows and leaving a death note on a screen onstage, or releasing albums out of the blue, you can always expect the unexpected. And yet, musically you always know where you stand. The sound of a Death Grips record is unmistakable - powerful, aggressive and confrontational. Which leads us on to ‘Bottomless Pit’ – more of the same, while pushing forward. One criticism of Death Grips has been that for all their energy and intensity, they have a penchant for self-indulgence. Not so here, which only serves to emphasise the rage at the heart of the group. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s to predict the unpredictable with Death Grips. There’s no point believing a word they say or trusting them to deliver a perfect album next time around. All that matters is that for now, they’ve nailed it. (Craig Jones) LISTEN: ‘Eh’, ‘Bottomless Pit’
We’ve finally hit the stage where everyone thinks this is the sensible thing to do. Why now? It has a lot to do with streaming going centre-stage. Artists and labels can give one of the big three streaming giants - Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal - the gubbins in advance and nobody has to know. There’s no requirement to order test pressings or keep anyone old-school in the loop. And with these online juggernauts fighting it out for exclusives, there are more opportunities for acts to dish out their record to one party only and get tons of money for it.
Is It Working?
For some people, yes. Beyoncé’s certainly enjoying it. But then again, not everybody is Beyoncé. Few have the budget to launch a seamless audio-visual film on HBO at the same time as putting out their new record. And in the case of her most recent surprise drop, not a single album on Earth has a narrative quite like ‘Lemonade’. For a surprise release to work, it needs to capture attention. Nothing gets people talking quite like an exposé on Jay Z’s wrongdoing. And the record was released exclusively on Tidal. Everyone’s a winner! It’s a bit more complicated when you turn to someone like Kanye West, who generates headlines from a single tweet. So when the time finally came for him to stop sodding around, he went on a timely rant about ex-girlfriends and his holy place in the world. Once heads were turned,‘The Life of Pablo’ emerged. A couple of singles came out in advance he failed to upload the thing once or twice. But when Yeezy knows that trending topics are today’s currency, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out he’d released and deleted a song on SoundCloud on purpose, just to get people talking.
(Young Money / Cash Money)
Such is the culture around Drake these days that as quickly as the Canadian rapper can become a web omnipresence, he can be turned upon. A glance at a longer than average tracklist, a half-listen to a few opening tracks, or one too many selfindulgent lines, is enough to break him, just as one hook can shoot him skywards. Drake, like the Alfred Hitchcock of rap, is a master of suspense. Forget for a second the tired stereotypes: the wonderfully terrible puns (“and my wifey a spice like David Beckham”), the moping self-pity juxtaposed with the over-glamorous bragging and of course, the inevitable ‘internet reactions’. None of these things are accidental, and the way Drake uses his own mockery to his advantage is nothing short of genius. Far from perfect, if it’s hits you’re after, you can probably cut ‘Views’ down to a handful of bangers. But as a showcase of Drake as so much more than just a dancefloor-filling meme machine then it’s here, in an all-encompassing album format that he really shines. You just have to work for it. (Henry Boon) LISTEN: ‘Still Here’ 64 diymag.com
Poor James Blake had his luck cut out when he released ‘The Colour in Anything’. Four hours passed between him announcing the album on BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac show and the whole thing turning up on Spotify. Everything was coming up Blakey. But a few hours later, Radiohead dropped ‘Daydreaming’ and a Paul Thomas Anderson-directed video. Two days on from that, they put out ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’. The spotlight was snapped away from poor James, and his third record charted at #13 in the UK, eleven places behind Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’, itself announced just a couple of weeks before coming out. There’s a definite knack to this, and there’s a risk involved for everyone trying it. You need a ridiculously active fanbase for it to work. Few things compare to the nerd-out value of Radiohead’s diehards, and even in just a few years, Chance the Rapper’s stolen the hip hop agenda - he can do anything at any time. The key thing that’s being forgotten about is the fans. They’re being played, in a way. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s unbearable. Everyone was joking after
31st July last year when Frank Ocean’s album still hadn’t turned up, but you can bet that loyal fans had their hearts broken. When Radiohead drop a clue on Instagram or send out cryptic cards in the post, it’s exciting. When Beyoncé unleashes a gigantic body of work all in one go, it’s fantastic seeing everyone play catch-up, listening to each song in unison. In these cases, new releases are a shared experience once more. The magic was lost when fans stopped queueing outside record shops because they already had a 128kbps rip, but it’s coming back. It’s convenient to say ‘we’ve never had it so good’ when looking at the streaming wars. £30 a month gets you a Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal subscription. If a massive new release is going to land, the money you’d ordinarily pay for three CDs has you covered. But there’s something a bit off about one of the world’s richest men (Jay Z) and two of the world’s biggest, most invincible companies having all that power. They control how musicians release their albums and how fans get access to the artists they love, and there’s no going back from here. Fans aren’t getting the best deal, here, and the same goes for smaller, independent acts and the labels trying to take them to the next level. “Now bigger artists really need these shock tactics to grab a consumer’s attention, because all musicians are now fighting for the same space the attention of the 30 million paid subscribers on Spotify, the 13 million on Apple Music,” says Nathan Roberts from UK label Lucky Number Music (Hinds, Dream Wife). “[And] it massively affects smaller labels and artists. If you’re planning an album launch, especially a debut album for a new band or artist whose star is on the rise, you really have to hope that you can hinge your campaign around a “quiet” week. It throws a lot of plans into the wind, and newer artists are continually being thrown under the bus a fair bit by the established names, the likes of Radiohead included.”
An all-slaying work. eeee
BEYONCÉ Lemonade (Parkwood / Columbia)
From opening to closing lyric, Beyoncé’s sixth album is designed with the clearest purpose. Every last drop of ‘Lemonade’ exists for a reason. And while the current ballbusting talk around the record’s narrative won’t subside, there’s so much more than an enthralling story to draw out of this all-slaying work. Queen Bey takes no prisoners - that much was clear on previous records. But this isn’t so much a middle finger as an endless, apocalyptic storm. Far from being just an oh-no-hedidn’t tour de force, ’Lemonade’ matches context with real substance. Moments of realisation on ‘Hold Up’ and fragmented opener ‘Pray You Catch Me’ are touching. And when anger gives rise to acceptance, a “make lemons with lemonade” conclusion, the record loses none of its purpose. In a year when the world’s biggest artists have put their necks on the line - Rihanna’s leave-me-alone, independent streak of ‘ANTI’, Kanye West’s scatterbrained, ever-changing doodle ‘The Life of Pablo’ - Beyoncé can count herself as a risk-taker breaking new ground, up there with the bravest. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘6 Inch’, ‘Hold Up’, ‘Sandcastles’
What’s Next? For the time being, there aren’t many massive, we-cando-what-we-want artists left who haven’t just released a record. Frank Ocean’s going to be perfecting his masterpiece until July 2021. Kanye West’s probably going to put out something new sooner rather than later. LCD Soundsystem’s triumphant return will, most likely, arrive in full form after festival season runs. But don’t expect to be given much warning. The tables have turned dramatically, but unless you’re a world-beater, artists are still trying to work things out. Perhaps James Blake will give us more of a heads-up next time. Chances are Beach House won’t put out two albums in the space of a month again, either - because there’s only so much woozy dream-pop one person can handle at a time. But the real giants won’t stay quiet. In fact, they’ll be hogging headlines even more with their next move. Publicity stunts are a given. Eventually, cryptic clues will be dropped before some bands have even gone into the studio. Drake will throw a physical form of his new record from the top of a Toronto landmark, and whoever catches it gets the only copy. Something like that, at least. One thing’s for sure: music’s biggest names are only just getting started. Everyone else just has to deal with it. DIY 65
SPRING KING Tell Me If You Like To (Island)
A gutsy blueprint for a bright future. eeee THE INVISIBLE Patience
‘Patience’, as its name suggests, is built around the idea that time is the absolute necessity when it comes to healing problems. Following the near-fatal electrocution of singer Dave Okumo while on stage in Lagos, it communicates the band’s rejuvenated appreciation of the value of life. “I know how I feel / Never been so clear / So sure about myself”, he sings on lead single ‘Save You’ – a snapshot that captures a gracious sense of self-assuredness defining every step of this return. It’s been four years since ‘The Invisible’’s last album ‘Rispah’. That period of selfreflection and resulting new energy is presented beautifully here, and despite the mantra of patience, is delivered with a sense of immediacy. Not in a massivehook-smashing-you-in-the-face kinda way, but it’s the sort of record that’s affecting from the moment you hit play – euphoric even in its more reserved moments. (Liam McNeilly) LISTEN: ‘Different’ 66 diymag.com
Spring King have come a long way from bathroom studios, shower gel wrestling for space with hi-hats. Debut album ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ possesses the same breakneck-speed spirit of their first steps, but it’s also a full-bodied beast - the sound of a band racing to the finish line to accept their prize. From ‘City’’s 100mph charge onwards, the four-piece force sludgy guitar lines and chunky drums into every possible space. ‘Rectifier’ is their call-to-arms, a spirited trip out of the doldrums (drummer/vocalist Tarek Musa sings “I’ll give you my struggles, then I’ll get out of sight”) into a forbidden no man’s land. “I’m not the same person you met while you were around,” he barks, a coming-of-age tale compressed into a mammoth indie triumph. ‘Demons’ has a similarly bittersweet edge every thrash is peppered with paranoia. That’s the best part of Spring King - their songs can be chanted in mad unison, or embraced on a one-to-one level. Complex tales that mirror as all-embracing anthems aren’t easy to teach, but these guys are masters of the game. ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ ticks every box required. It’s a rabid, gutsy blueprint for Spring King’s bright future. And even though the last year’s been a whirlwind, you get the sense these four are only just approaching the actual storm. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Rectifier’, ‘City’, ‘Demons’, ‘Tell Me If You Like To’
eee DEERHOOF The Magic
San Francisco’s Deerhoof have never been a band interested in convention and conformity: unpredictable, erratic and anarchic are all words which could be used to accurately describe them. In spite (or often because) of this, they’re a band that have received almost universal critical acclaim over a twenty-two year career. When everything a band touches seems to turn to gold, how do they keep things fresh and exciting for themselves? They swap their studio for an abandoned office space in the New Mexico desert, plug in and attempt to capture ‘The Magic’. But while unpredictability is certainly still part of Deerhoof’s charm, and the aim of ‘The Magic’ was to take listeners out of their comfort zone, the erratics can feel contrived and its off-kilter aesthetics too disparate for it to ever really take hold. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ‘Plastic Thrills’
Light Upon the Lake (Secretly
It’s barely been a year since Max Kakacek (ex-Smith Westerns) and Julien Ehrlich (exUnknown Mortal Orchestra) joined forces, but it’s as if they’ve been bottling up the spirit of ‘Light Upon the Lake’ for over a decade. Out it pours - these songs about missteps, misled youth and forgotten nights. At their best - Max’s guitar lines going full-throttle, Julien’s soulful falsetto never missing a beat - Whitney are exceptionally smart at capturing a feeling that’s hard to contain. They could document every second of someone’s teenage years into a fortyminute record, if they put their minds to it. No doubt about it, ‘Light Upon the Lake’ is a record thousands will hold dear. The record’s finest moments relate to everyone’s lives, in one way or another. Whether it’s golden youth or present day regrets, there’s something to cling onto. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘No Woman’, ‘Golden Days’, ‘No Matter Where We Go’
CAT’S EYES Treasure House
(Kobalt Label Services)
Creepy in the best possible way.
The question of which Harry Potter house Faris Badwan and partner-incrime Rachel Zeffira would belong to has been circling around this reviewer’s head for about twenty minutes, dear reader, as both intro number and title track ‘Treasure House’ and the twinkly ‘Everything Moves Towards The Sun’ have us thinking of Hogwarts (it’s probably hints of the pair’s recent foray in to film soundtracks combined with our terrible IMDB view count, tbh). ‘Treasure House’ is - as the name suggests - a luscious, rich selection of otherworldly tracks, disparate in nature but still oddly cohesive. And it’s as timeless as that dreamy world JK Rowling created. It doesn’t stray far from their ‘60s weirdo pop roots there are plenty of Phil Spector drum rhythms, for example, just as Rachel’s versatile voice is often layered in the sort of ways Joe Meek would picture in his head. Soaring, melancholic, and creepy in the best possible way. Still no sorting hat, though. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Be Careful Where You Park Your Car’
Wild Things (polyvinyl)
Back after four years away, Pip Brown packs more of a punch than ever. From the kitschy slogan tee on the front cover, to the loomingly gigantic synth-pulses of title-track ‘Wild Things,’ Ladyhawke’s third album sets out with the words ‘brilliantly good fun’ practically scrawled across its mood board in bright gold glitter pen. Everything on this record is turned up to Technicolour ten. Ladyhawke has always had an ear for gigantic writing like this – just take one look at ‘Paris Is Burning’ for ripe evidence. ‘Wild Things,’ though, sees her step up to another new level of ace. Her most consistent album to date, and let loose like never before, it’s good to have her back. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Dangerous’
Pip tells us lots of things about ‘Wild Things’. What’ve you been up to since your last record, ‘Anxiety’? I’ve really been delving into the full spectrum of human activities and emotions since that album came out! So to list what I’ve been up to could be a bit of an essay! To give you a short form idea of what’s been happening: travelling, gaming, writing, playing, partying, recovering, singing, sleeping, marrying, flying, swimming, eating, recording! Apparently you scrapped an entire album before you wrote ‘Wild Things’. Why? Yeah! Well to be fair it was more like around eight demos, but had I pursued it, it could have become an album. It wasn’t that I hated the material, because I definitely didn’t make something I hated. It just really reflected a bad state of mind I was in at the time and I felt a bit sick being constantly reminded of that every time I listened to the songs. I wanted to feel happy inside and for the music to reflect that.
eeee MINOR VICTORIES
(Sony RED / Easy Life Records)
(Fat Possum / Play It Again Sam)
Since the release of their debut album ‘I Am An Island’ back in 2014, Fatherson have steadily been gaining themselves quite the dedicated following. It’s no wonder why either: the trio have always had a knack for offering up slices of uplifting, meaningful indie-flecked rock. It’s with new record ‘Open Book’, however, that they’re shifting things into another gear entirely. Opener ‘Just Past The Point of Breaking’ begins things on a brilliantly poignant note, before lead single ‘Lost Little Boys’ soars into life, all rhythmic marching drums and choir-like choruses. It’s a record that reaches head-dizzying heights (‘Open Book’) before diving back into intimate, delicate moments (‘Joanna’), all tied together with their unmatchable heart-on-sleeve honesty. (Sarah Jamieson) Listen: ‘Forest’
The formation of Minor Victories makes sense, both on paper and on record. Editors guitarist Justin Lockey had the intention to create an extreme noise EP, recruiting Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell. While that EP never materialised, his vision has led to the formation of something altogether more enticing. It would be easy for each band member to stick to their day jobs – Editors are still a huge live draw, Mogwai are constantly busy honing their sound, whilst Slowdive finally have a new album in the works. That they’ve chosen to branch out is one thing, but to create something altogether new - a record so atmospheric and beguiling - is beyond expectation. At no point of this record are you left hoping for another Editors anthem or waiting for that new Slowdive – yes, that would be wonderful, but we now have Minor Victories to savour. Hopefully they’re here to stay. (Craig Jones) LISTEN: ‘Out to Sea’
‘LOVE YOU TO DEATH’’S BANGER PIE CHART 80% Monster bangers
10% Bangers named after motor-vehicle manoeuvres
0% Bangers. you’d buy. from the. butchers.
10% Bangers about being friendzoned
TEGAN AND SARA Love You to Death (Warner Bros.)
Check out that suit!
The evolution of Tegan and Sara has been nothing short of fascinating. Having made their mark as heroic indie-rock twins in the early Noughties, each of their moves since have seen them branching out in new directions. Now, with eighth album ‘Love You To Death’, the transformation is complete and they’re virtually unrecognisable. The pair are a completely new entity, in the best possible way. Their latest comes littered with glorious synths and infectious Eighties-styled melodies, with ‘Boyfriend’, ‘Stop Desire’ and ‘Dying To Know’ all leading the charge. An album full of bubbly bangers that still carry integral messages of gender and sexuality, Tegan and Sara are proving themselves to be a vital presence in pop right now. (Sarah Jamieson) Listen: ‘Stop Desire’, ‘100X’
eee ALEXIS TAYLOR Piano
BIG DEAL Say Yes (FatCat)
Since their introduction, Big Deal have subtly yet consistently played with the way they write and progress as a group. The added grit displayed on 2013’s ‘June Gloom’ was a departure, a mix of layered clamour that perhaps overwhelmed their reserved introspection. The group have finally returned refreshed and with purpose. Where ‘June Gloom’ grew from within its slow-burning warmth, the record - in particular its stand-out opening half - is sharp, determined and all the more compelling for it. It’s another marked change, but with way more impact. With ‘Say Yes’, Big Deal have mustered a real knack of knowing how to deliver their music. The album is a cohesive combination of touching sentiment and purposeful release - it’s a big progression for a group keen to open new doors. (Ross Jones) LISTEN: ‘Avalanche’
Alexis Taylor has never been a man to shy away from sentimentality, in whatever creative guise he adopts - most notably in Hot Chip. But his return as a solo artist with ‘Piano’ might just be the logical conclusion to a career of unabashed candour. Crafted with a different spirit to ‘Await Barbarians’, on ‘Piano’ everything is stripped away, seeing Alexis at his most exposed, only the bare elements of a piano and his delicately emotive voice as the tools at his disposal. These are tracks that could easily be ballads slipped into a Hot Chip record, but where there they’d be bolstered with synths and programmed beats, here they are stark and knowingly bold in their simplicity. These songs are tactile, human and weaved with themes that transcend belief. (Emma Smith) LISTEN: ‘So Much Further to Go’
ee DJ SHADOW
The Mountain Will Fall
Josh Davis’ ‘Endtroducing…..’ debut took hip hop and deconstructed it. It spun it around and threw it in the air, its pieces landing in a mess before being fashioned into something else entirely. He showed the workings of the genre like a magician revealing his hand before the cards disappear up his sleeve. What followed was more of a nightmare scenario. And so we have the first album of Davis’ forties, hoping for a late change in fortunes. Unfortunately it hasn’t arrived. Indeed, the only real highlight is ‘Nobody Speak’. DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels has a pretty good ring to it and the collaboration is a menacing, incendiary cracker. There just aren’t any melodies. Where did they all go? (David Zammitt) LISTEN: ‘Nobody Speak (ft. Run the Jewels)’
A marked change with way more impact. PHOTO: MIKE MASsARO
eee FEWS Means
eeee (Play It Again Sam)
There are no gimmicks when it comes to FEWS’ debut album ‘MEANS’. The Swedish-via-USA fourpiece, known for their contorting guitar lines and burgeoning live vigour have delivered a record that’s heavy, bold and entirely their own. Championed by producer Dan Carey, the multi-national four-piece hold nothing back as they break down walls with psychedelic-tinged fuzz and noise-packed indie rhythms. Stand out tracks ‘The Zoo’ and ‘100 Goosebumps’ are prime examples of their beautiful yet sinisterly dark sound. It’ll be exciting to see where they go from here. (Mustafa Mirreh) LISTEN: ‘The Zoo’
ee LET’S EAT GRANDMA I, Gemini (Transgressive)
Let’s Eat Grandma have an eye for the odd. Two teenagers - Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth - based out of Norwich, they’ve been friends since day one. And their debut album packs a childlike sense of wonder that hints at higher climes, strangely-built pop with intentionallyweird production. Problem is, this imaginary world they inhabit isn’t the most inclusive. At times, ‘I, Gemini’ is a bit like someone stomaching all the Narnia Chronicles at once and randomising the plot. The pair clearly have potential to merge fantasy and instant-fix pop, but this debut is more a showcase of their peculiarities than anything else. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Deep Six Textbook’
SKEPTA Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know)
“By now you should know I hate waiting, I’ve got no patience,” begins Skepta on ‘Konnichiwa’’s opening title track. It’s a bit of a fib, really – ‘Konnichiwa’’s been waiting in the wings for years now, gestating while grime surged to the top. Now it’s here, though, he’s hitting the ground running. Punctuated by samples and skits that paint the most vibrant picture of inner-city life put to tape in years, it’s impossible not to see ‘Konnichiwa’ as grime’s golden moment, but it’s its human side that really shines. ‘Man’, ‘Lyrics’ and – of course - ‘Shutdown’ might revel in bravado, but it’s the spoken word exchange at the end of ‘Corn On The Curb’ and the reinvention at the heart of ‘That’s Not Me’ that show Skepta to be self-aware like few in his position could manage, holding fame at arm’s length while he comes to terms with his own psyche. (Tom Connick) LISTEN: ‘Man’, ‘Konnichiwa’, ‘That’s Not Me
eeee YUMI ZOUMA Yoncalla
Yumi Zouma make a glorious and gentle form of dream-pop. Debut EP ‘The Brae’ was a timeless, effortless sunkissed classic, echoing all the best bits of pop. It sounded like a disco Fleetwood Mac. But at the time, the group’s music was the sound of people collaborating between Auckland, New York and Paris - the group’s first practices took place on arena stages supporting the likes of Lorde. For ‘Yoncalla’ the band finally recorded together; you can hear it. It takes a lot of work to create a sound that feels this effortless. But like that oft-used cliche, ‘Yoncalla’ is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a coalescing of sparkling sounds which helps to bottle that rarest of things: pop that shimmers and grabs you when you’re least expecting it to. (Danny Wright) LISTEN: ‘Short Truth’
eeee KATE JACKSON
British Road Movies (Hoo Ha Records)
A lot has happened for Kate Jackson since her widely adored band The Long Blondes called it a day back in 2008. Relocating to Rome to become a painter, her life as a musician took a significant break. Her first solo album is a reinvention of astounding beauty. Travelling from soaring guitar pop to downbeat, piano-led creeping, ‘British Road Movies’ feels like a trip in the truest sense, and representative of that which Kate herself has gone on: from leader of one of Britain’s most sorely missed bands, via eight years out of the game, to returning as one of its most intriguing new solo artists. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Last of the Dreamers’ 70 diymag.com
Self-aware like few in his position could manage.
YUNG A Youthful Dream
Yung’s debut album is constantly wrestling with itself. It’s murky, muddled and littered with distraction - but there’s a singleminded focus and blind optimism driving it forward. The struggle is real but ‘A Youthful Dream’ couldn’t be easier to get along with. Underneath the fuzzy buzz of the record lies a shining serenity. If you want it, there’s a beauty in the darkness. Everything is in a state of flux here, mirroring the shifting plate tectonics that the band straddle. Dedicated to “bad things and good people”, ‘Uncombed Hair’ is full of conviction and uncertainty. ‘The Sound of Being Okay’ tries to find just that. The twelve tracks form a turbulent ride but they give you plenty to cling onto, and while the end offers no resolutions, there are kindred spirits throughout. (Ali Shutler) LISTEN: ‘Pills’
Q&A We delve deeper into the dreamy Danish debut. Duh.
What does ‘A Youthful Dream’ mean, then? I think it’s a common fact that young people tend to be a bit naive but ‘A Youthful Dream’ doesn’t necessarily relate to that - more to the appalling naivety some dreams can have. Has writing this record opened a lot of new doors, like Thom Yorke in that Radiohead video? It has definitely opened up a lot of new doors. This was the first time we wrote songs where we knew that the finishing line meant a full-length album. Writing and recording this record has taught all four of us a lot of valuable lessons. We definitely don’t want to settle down musically.
Weaves (Memphis Industries)
‘Wonky pop’ was a short-lived label coined in the mid-00s to describe pretty much anyone making pop music who didn’t appear on any of Simon Cowell’s TV shows (a nod to that perennially yucky word, ‘authenticity’, apparently). Oddly, it’s also the best term to give to Weaves’ self-titled debut, the Canadians’ sparse, angular noises being at once both joyously earworm-like, and perched precariously on the brink. It’s frontwoman Jasmyn Burke’s vocal that’s key to everything here, as line after line it falls away before bouncing back with ferocity, like a vocal Weeble. Add to that various squelches, postpunk bass lines and the feeling of your Walkman quickly running out of battery power, and ‘Weaves’ is a whole lot of fun, from the deliciously raucous standout ‘One More’ to the delicate ‘Eagle’ via the whimsical ‘Coo Coo’ and the Pixies-ish ‘Two Oceans’. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘One More’
Abattoir blues? Fear of Men talk the weird space where ‘Fall Forever’ was made. Did you really record your new album in an old abattoir? Dan Falvey (guitars): We recorded our last record in this underground studio at night time, for the most part because we could get free studio time then - so that’s where that was done. Jessica Weiss (guitars / vocals): That was in Brighton, but we did do a lot of demoing on the farm as well as field recording! Everyone seems to love you guys in the States, when so many bands fail over there. Why is that? JW: There’s definitely something about the novelty of British bands over there. There’s a strong following of acts like The Cure and The Smiths, who we probably don’t like as much now, but we definitely look up to them and had elements of them in our earlier sound. DF: I think it might be partly the way we’ve gone about things, which is a slightly more slower, American approach - starting out on DIY labels and cassette tapes and doing stuff ourselves.
eeee CHANCE THE RAPPER Coloring Book (Self-released)
‘Coloring Book’ intertwines gospel, jazz, hip hop, R&B and touches of Chicago house alongside some of the biggest names in the game - including Yeezy himself. Each style is perfected and full of purpose. Where Chance The Rapper’s previous works have seen him make passing reference to his faith, ‘Somewhere in Paradise’, ‘Angels’ and ‘Blessings’ see him wearing his beliefs round his neck like prayer beads - his spirituality omnipresent. While nearly everything we’ve seen from Chance up until this point has been as innovative as it has distinctly organic, this third mixtape finds him evolving further. From every familiar “Igh!” that bursts in throughout verses to the way the words are administered, ‘Coloring Book’ is exactly the kind of record to elevate an artist from viable to visionary. (Maya Rose Radcliffe) LISTEN: ‘Blessings’, ‘Angels’
eeee FEAR OF MEN
Fall Forever (Kanine Records)
Few bands know their own strengths like Brighton’s Fear of Men. Every speck of their sound and vision has been considered to the nth degree. But with ‘Fall Forever’, the trio have perfectly refined what they’re about. With Jessica Weiss’ vocals more pronounced than ever, there’s no hiding place for the band’s stark, mythical songwriting. Guitars sound like they’re peering up to the surface from underwater, drum parts are scattered and pronounced, while Weiss has no time for the abstractions that snuck into ‘Loom’. With opener ‘Vesta’, they match Roman goddess imagery with ominous effects. ‘Ruins’ sounds like Chromatics if they ditched the Drive-style high life for a grizzly mountain trek. And in ‘Island’ and ‘Sane’, they’ve written their sharpest melodies to date. There’s still plenty of room for Fear of Men to grow, but without outside influence, they’re already masters of a unique craft. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Island’, ‘Sane’
Washington’s Melvins have been an almost ever-present fixture within American alternative music ever since they emerged back in 1983 with their brand of sludgy, monstrously heavy grunge. They’ve never quite ascended to mainstream status, but their place within the pantheon of US rock is firmly secured - which allows them to do whatever the hell they want, just like they’ve always done. The group’s twenty-fifth studio record does everything you’d hope. It flits from doomy death marches to frenetic, fuzzy psych-rock freakouts. Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic even makes an appearance. On the accordion. Anything goes, here. (Martyn Young) LISTEN: ‘Maybe I Am Amused’
eee ADULT JAZZ
Ha, Ha, He (Captured Tracks)
If music is a form of escapism, then it’s surely at its most apt in that capacity when the escapists inhabit a region which is plotting an escape of its own. MOURN hail from Catalonia, where the pro-independence movement has gained traction in recent times. The shadowy second full-length effort from the punk-leaning foursome – with a crucially melodic edge – may not be a separatist soundtrack, but it possesses a fiercely independent spirit. ‘Ha, Ha, He.’ frequently hints at the makings of something truly spectacular – ‘Howard’ and ‘Second Sage’ give plenty of reason to rave with excitement – but it often lacks the absolute finishing touches. It mustn’t, however, go unmentioned that MOURN are yet to all reach their twenties, and to already have two studio albums under their belts is laudable in itself. The latest, though, feels nigglingly incomplete, and while they haven’t stumbled at the unshakeable hurdle of the ‘difficult second album’, the ‘wow’ factor of their debut has since diminished. Thankfully, there’s enough youthful grit and promise on show here to suggest that a spectacular something is on the horizon. (Tom Hancock) LISTEN: ‘Howard’
eee THE GOTOBEDS
Blood // Sugar // Secs // Traffic (Sub Pop)
Pittsburgh four-piece The Gotobeds’ Sub Pop debut is a delightful, riotous post-punk concoction. Ripe with guttural guitars, catchy riffage, and spitting vocals, it feels like the band’s cathartic output for their own skittish energy. The record’s experimental in nature – tracks such as ‘Bodies’ are laced with sun-soaked garage-pop sensibilities, while the beautiful, delicate build-up of ‘Red Alphabet’ explodes like a slow-burning volcano and sprawls across the palette from indie rock to artful, noisy dissonance. The Gotobeds execute a formula of beer-drenched reckless abandon, tense odes to the unloved and loveless. The result is a smart, sharp record to soundtrack the end of the world (or maybe even just a hungover Sunday afternoon.) (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘Bodies’
eee MAGIC POTION
Debut album ‘Gist Is’ wasn’t exactly straight-down-the-line, but with ‘Earrings Off!’, Adult Jazz have descended fully into the primordial ooze. Twisted and gloopy, the title-track and ‘Eggshell’ are both wonderfully playful. Other experiments work less well, though, ‘Ooh Ah Eh’’s attempts at free-form structure collapsing in on themselves in seconds. (Tom Connick) Listen: ‘Earrings Off!’
If I’m The Devil.. (Epitaph)
Few bands carry a live reputation quite like letlive. – fewer still can say that it’s fully deserved. Snarling, wide-eyed madness abounds at a letlive. show; part of the reason it’s so crushing to find ‘If I’m The Devil…’ to be so flat. Forcibly removing their roughed-up edges, it’s the sound of letlive. gunning for the charts, and casting aside all that once made them such a captivating prospect. (Tom Connick) LISTEN: ‘Good Mourning America’
Pink Gum (Beech Coma)
Releasing their debut EP last May, Swedish garage-punk group Magic Potion carved out a niche amongst the blue skies and scorching sunlight of holiday season. A blissed-out venture through elated highs and worn-out sighs of summer, debut album ‘Pink Gum’ is a continuation of that sun-scorched sound - an ode to the longest of days and lightest of nights. EP numbers ‘Deep Web’ and ‘Booored’ appear once again, the latter’s near impossibly contagious enthusiasm as fresh and freewheeling as it felt the first time around. Out of time and out of place, ‘Pink Gum’ is as fitting a soundtrack to the summer of anyone’s wildest wishes as it is to a season spent wasted in the sunlight. (Jessica Goodman) LISTEN: ‘Booored’
PAWS No Grace (FatCat)
Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans)
More often than not, sequels are a fad and a waste of time (sorry, ‘Zoolander’). Puberty? That’s also a shitter. With that in mind, Mitski’s ‘Puberty 2’ could be a recipe for disaster. But forget stereotypes - this is a boldly and deeply brave record, one that confronts ugly truths and bleak reality without a second to spare. Mitski Miyawaki has been making emotionally-bare music for years, but ‘Puberty 2’ goes beyond the twisted heroics of last album ‘Bury Me At Makeout Creek’ by some distance. This is stark, emotional songwriting with the floodgates permanently open. And grim tales are made to seem even worse than you could possibly imagine. It’s a brutally ugly shock to the system, one that will leave a permanent trace. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Happy’, ‘Your Best American Girl’
DROWNERS On Desire (Frenchkiss)
Back in 2013, Drowners established themselves as indie heartthrobs with the most earnest of intentions. Frontman Matt Hitt, a boy from rural Wales making it as a rockstar in New York City, embodied the kind of escapist dream that everybody finds themselves having from time to time. With classic good looks and a roguish style, the band charmed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Three years on, and two albums in, and very little – if anything - has changed. ‘On Desire’ is exactly as expected. A little more comfortable in their own skin, the band have made their home in breezy, easily pleasing refrains and crooning choruses. Which would be all well and good if each song didn’t sound somehow the same. Sweet but stereotyped, it’s easy to find the flaws in Drowners. They’ve done nothing to break their mould, and ‘On Desire’ does little to appease the want for something more. (Jessica Goodman) LISTEN: ‘Cruel Ways’
Since 2012’s ‘Cokefloat’, Paws have been an archetype hooky, fuzzy guitar band. ‘No Grace’, however, takes a subtly different turn that at certain moments verges on poppunk (a version of the chicken/ egg question raised by the fact it was produced by blink-182’s Mark Hoppus). This album often sees them polishing that initial fuzz on a lot of their songs, with riffs that shimmer in turquoise and lilac. At its best, when it doesn’t take itself too seriously, ‘No Grace’ is a perfectly fun album. ‘Clarity’ is an all-thrills ride, and the opening riff of ‘Asthmatic’ is gorgeous when listened to in isolation. As an experiment, ‘No Grace’ could go further. But PAWS continue to have fuzz defining their every step. (Nina Keen) LISTEN: ‘Clarity’
Q&A ‘No Grace’ was a ‘do or die’ moment for PAWS. Sounds serious. Rhys Buchanan gets the gossip. When did ‘No Grace’ come together? It came about from touring the first two records so heavily. We had some hardships along the way and were just so burned out. Towards the end of that we decided we needed the time to get our shit together. So unlike before, we actually took time to sit and write an album. It’s us reflecting on the last couple of years in that sense. You’ve said it’s a ‘do or die’ moment, what do you mean? We feel like we want to connect with people physically rather than depend on the internet to get our music out there. We’ve always had a hands-on approach to tour as much as possible. So I think the new album is born out of us sharing what it’s been like to do that from our point of view. Everybody relies, focuses and pours their expectations into the internet these days; they forget about just connecting with people. What was it like having Mark Hoppus behind the desk? As teenagers, blink-182 were around us constantly - they were the first concert I ever went to, back in Glasgow when I was fourteen. So it’s cool going full circle; the fact that one of the people that inspired me to do this has helped us record the music that I’m proudest of. I’m very humbled by it. After the first five minutes it was just like having another guy in the band, it was really relaxed. He brought an element of confidence which made a big difference to the record.
THE KILLS Ash & Ice (Domino)
Jamie Hince’s story of how ‘Ash & Ice’ came to be, well, ‘Ash & Ice’, is a fitting one, as The Kills’ fifth album swiftly moves from the stoic bravado of ‘Doing It To Death’’s “doublesixing it night after night” to a darker place, increasingly introspective as the record goes on. “That love you’re in, it’s fucked up” sighs Alison Mosshart repeatedly during the piano-led ‘That Love’. It could also be attributed to the miles (and then some) Jamie spent travelling across the depths of Russia, or perhaps the injury that almost meant he’d have to give up the guitar completely. We know nothing of Alison’s troubles in the months making this LP, but chances are there are some. The path to ‘Ash & Ice’, you see, was not a simple one. And yet it’s a record that’s so comfortably The Kills: ‘Hard Habit To Break’ has echoes of ‘Hitched’ from 2003 debut ‘Keep On Your Mean Side’, there’s a little of the vocal rhythms of ‘Midnight Boom’’s ‘Sour Cherry’ to closer ‘Whirling Eye’, and the pulse of ‘Blood Pressures’ cut ‘Heart Is A Beating Drum’ echoes throughout ‘Siberian Nights’. That’s not to suggest it’s a carbon-copy, more a culmination of all that’s come before; a band confident in their own skin, their identity clearer than ever, their mission unchanged since those transatlantic tapes at the turn of the millennium. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Hard Habit To Break’, ‘Siberian Nights’
Sleep Cycle (My Animal Home)
After seven years of faffing about with Kickstarter fundraisers and “fatal perfectionism,” part-time Animal Collective member Deakin’s ‘Sleep Cycle’ is finally here. “I’ve lost my voice, I need direction,” goes ‘Just Am’. Really, this is the first time we’ve ever heard Deakin unobscured by swirling mists. Painting vivid landscapes flecked with rainbow mushrooms and glitter clouds, ‘Sleep Cycle’ is a short, but richly atmospheric record; nodding towards to his work on Animal Collective’s ‘Feels’. Constructed from snatched field recordings from a trip to Mali, and heady with dense, intricate arrangements, ‘Sleep Cycle’ serves as a fascinating glimpse into the mind of AnCo’s most mysterious member. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Just Am’
•••••COMING Up••••• BLINK-182 California
The stadium-filling pop-punks return with their first Tom DeLonge-less album. Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba fills the vacant guitar/vocals slot - it’s out 1st July.
These know-it-all producers might hit the big time with their fourth record, starring Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring and the buzzy Kaytranada. It’s due 8th July.
THE JULIE RUIN Hit Reset Kathleen Hanna and pals are back with another no-prisoners triumph, out 8th July.
THE GRE AT E SCA PE Vari o
ri g h
Ph o t
he yearly migration south for all things buzzy is something of a pilgrimage by now; the myriad of venues throughout Brighton hosting everything from tiny courtyard side-shows to massive indemand showcases (hi, Stormzy) throughout its jam-packed three days.
Our adventures begin on Thursday afternoon at Komedia with Aussie singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin, who comes as the ‘talk of SXSW’, and it’s not hard to hear why. Hers is a vocal that pierces through tedium, setting alight lines like “my heart is heavy when you’re high.” Opening the DIY stage down on the pier at Horatio’s in the evening are Liverpudlian trio Trudy and the Romance, and it’s a surprise frontman Oliver Taylor’s fingers aren’t bloodied by the end of their set, given his stubborn lack of a pick. He bare-handedly plays bonedry guitar parts, thrashed within an inch of their life.
Even before VANT hit the stage, the air at Patterns is fizzing with anticipation. Focused and unsettling, Mattie Vant’s already a fully-formed frontman. The band’s songs, while heavily political, are lean BLACK HONEY enough to still pack an almighty punch; it’s all head banging and gang vocals, the crowd throwing themselves towards the stage in tandem. They’re still buzzing when Spring King take over, running relentlessly through air-tight renditions of ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ and ‘The Summer’, the crowd hanging off every word that multi-tasking master Tarek Musa sings. Back at Komedia, the standout, pick-your-jaws-backoff-the-floor quality that Pumarosa possess is a hard one to pin down. Isabel Munoz-Newsome leads the charge, wielding a drum beater like a summoning staff, meticulously whacking her guitar across the chops with it at semi-regular intervals. Meanwhile, at Horatio’s, there’s no stopping Bleached, whose songs are roughed around the edges to glorious effect. As frontwoman Jennifer Calvin abandons her guitar in favour of stomping across Horatio’s’ tables, it’s impossible to not be pulled into their brilliant, scuzzedup world. “We’re from ‘da north’,” North East fuzzfiends Eat Fast sarcastically offer up by way of introduction on Friday afternoon. “This song is about all my mates who moved to ‘da south’.” ‘Da south’ rightly laps it up. VANT
Thanks to a pesky power adaptor, the first words Katie Monks later shares with The Haunt are to explain that her microphone keeps electrocuting her. Luckily, that’s not enough to get in the way of Dilly Dally’s ferocious performance, the quartet brilliantly tight from the off; a lean, growling machine. Twelve months ago, Black Honey were taking their first steps outside their top-secret bubble, a treasure-chest full of potential. At Horatio’s a year on, they’re unstoppable, owning the pier so effortlessly that it wouldn’t be a surprise if the famous lights changed to read Black Honey for the evening. “Brighton!” snarls frontwoman Izzy B. Phillips, “are you with me!” Half of the town is, by the looks of things - the rest queuing outside the venue trying to sneak a peek. Diet Cig’s rough-and-ready floor show in the corner of The Hope and Ruin on Saturday afternoon sounds like a Greatest Hits set, and a well-honed one at that. Later, packing out a rammed Corn Exchange for DIY, The Big Moon’s crowd are singing ‘Cupid’ so loudly that Jules Jackson has found herself with an impromptu backing choir. This lot do not have an Achilles heel; they’re totally unstoppable. The Corn Exchange is also the perfect setting for headliners Mystery Jets and the huge bombast of their latest album ‘Curve of the Earth’. New tracks ‘Midnight’s Mirror’ and ‘Blood Red Balloon’ hang gloriously in the air, floating and spiralling out of proggy control.
LIVE AT LEEDS Various venues, Leeds. Photos: Emma Swann
Back at Horatio’s, it’s time for Partybaby to make their UK debut. Bringing the big American, er, party to the oh-so-British surrounds of Brighton Pier, they’re worth every second of the wait, and every scrap of the hype. New single ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ opens proceedings, proving it’s three-forthree on their stadium sized pop-punk bangers to date. There’s no band out there like Partybaby. It’s with a shot full of adrenaline that Saturday night’s proceedings draw to a close, as Bristol’s Milk Teeth serve up a slice of gritty punk rock at the end of the pier. “I’ve never played on a pier before,” grims Becky Blomfield, “I hope we don’t sink!” With the ruckus that they cause, it’s a wonder Horatio’s is still standing by the end of it all. DIY
y the time Kagoule hit the stage, the Brudenell Social Club is already packed out, and the Nottingham band are in their scuzzy element. Familiar favourite ‘Glue’ rings out with its brilliant taunting chorus before newer track ‘Pharmacy’ trembles with dark trepidation. Teen prodigy and last year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition winner Declan McKenna admits he’s having a “fucking nightmare” - the Korg’s broken, and Declan’s having to improvise. He does so impressively, switching ‘Paracetamol’’s synth line into guitar chords and leading the group through his emotional, affecting pop.
With a queue snaking the whole way around the venue, back to the main road, and across a nearby car park, Mystery Jets’ mid-afternoon set at the O2 Academy is easily one of the most contended places to be. Those who stick out the wait certainly aren’t disappointed. Playing a set that spans across their thirteen years, the group are in rude form. Estrons claim they’re about to play “slow and romantic” music, but they’re lying. The Welsh four-piece’s music would prefer to bite your head off than launch into a loved-up serenade. Vocalist Tali Källström is possessed, throwing herself across the Brudenell’s stage, every vicious scream a call to arms. Romance can wait - these guys are stampeding past the hype with energy lining every seam. Tucked away around the corner of Leeds Beckett’s SU bar, it’d be easy to assume that INHEAVEN could find themselves hidden from view. When they play their first few chords, though, their gravitational pull draws in punters in INHEAVEN droves. Already, the band sound gigantic, their shoegazey guitars both mesmerising and commanding. New single ‘Baby’s Alright’ is a real highlight with the throng at the front echoing back
every word. Feeling sleepy? Spare a thought for Sløtface, a Norwegian force who’ve been in three countries over the last twenty-four hours. Final destination Leeds could be the unlucky recipient of a tired performance, but Haley Shea and her crew of ridiculously tall Nordic chaps are on fire. Naps aren’t an option, so instead they launch themselves into an all-killer set, ‘Kill it With Kindness’ and new single ‘Sponge State’ both snarling standouts. The excitement greeting Spring King as they take to the stage at Stylus is nearing fever pitch. Each song from debut album ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ is met with the fondness and enthusiasm of a dear friend, and the group revel in every moment. Mayhem breaks out in a matter of minutes, energy driving the audience into circle pits and crowdsurfers sailing towards the stage (before being chased back where they came from by security at rapid speed). Anticipation hangs thick in the air, back at Leeds Beckett’s SU. By the time Blood Red Shoes stride out on stage for one of their first live sets in almost a year, the room’s packed with bodies. The pair might have spent the past nine months off the road, but they’re as visceral as ever, and tonight is proof that they really have been missed. Later at the Brudenell, all eyes are on Loyle Carner, a London wordsmith who mixes tragedy with quick-witted lyricism and sleepy, strung out beats. There’s a presence to this newcomer, a confidence defining his every move. He gives a “real” freestyle (not like those other chancers, he claims), debuting impressive new material alongside the touching ‘Florence’. For the past year, Rat Boy’s soaked up the plaudits, a season ticket seat reserved on the buzz train. But now it’s business time for the Essex youngster, whose debut album is prepped for release later this year. Tonight’s headline set at DIY’s Brudenell Social Club stage screams of a step up. New material like ‘Splendid Young Man’ and ‘Morse Code’ sits pretty with certified giants ‘Fake ID’ and ‘Move’ - Rat Boy’s showcasing a new ambition. DIY
Village Underground, London. Photos: Emma Swann
he Kills burst back into clattering, ear-wrenching life earlier this year - after five years away - with a bold promise. Opening gambit ‘Doing It To Death’ talked of “double sixing it night after night” without a single loaded dice or sneaky sleight-of-hand in sight. Defying the usual laws of chance, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince don’t believe in half measures or safe bets. Befitting The Kills’ new album title ‘Ash & Ice,’ the titchy-by-their-standards Village Underground is crammed to the brim, and fizzing with fiery anticipation. Shaking the entire arch with almighty rip-roaring guitars, and snarling, pummelling chants, The Kills double-six it, alright. Any notion of gently easing into proceedings is defiantly thrown out the window in a split second. The surging crowd finish every line of ‘No Wow’ with raised fists, and that’s just during the first song. Darting in hyperactive dot-to-dot between records - from the snaggy-sharp corners of ‘Midnight Boom’ cut ‘U.R.A Fever,’ to the veering runaway chants of ‘Heart is a Beating Drum’ - The Kills don’t piss about. Ducking slyly about like a bomber-jacket clad Artful Dodger armed with a possessed fretboard, Jamie constantly trades smirks and riff-blows with the front row. Alison, meanwhile, is volatile and fast-combusting. One minute she’s standing stock still; hair-twirling, feigning faux-nonchalance while her bandmate shakes every ear drum in the room. The next, she’s letting loose vicious, smoke-stained chants, miming puppeteer
hands, and yelling ‘Sour Cherry’ straight at a particularly enterprising fan up on their mate’s shoulders. The stage is second nature for The Kills; in the same way as many people might consider their trusty sofa, microwave popcorn and Netflix account to be home. It seems like the only logical place that Jamie and Alison would ever unleash ‘Ash & Ice’ for the first time, and with Village Underground at fever-pitch, that’s just what they do. Brand new and unreleased, ‘Hard Habit to Break’ leads the sudden onslaught of new material; tenacious, vice-addicted, and spiky. ‘Heart of a Dog’ - just a few weeks old - sounds fully embedded, too. Boldly reactive, soaring with gigantic, unshakable hooks, the packed-out audience step up as unofficial backing singers, howling and roaring along like life depends on it. Even a fast-approaching curfew and a few technical hitches don’t throw The Kills off their tracks. After a quick exchange with the sound desk - “we’re having a meeting,” quips Alison the pair dive headlong into a triumphant encore. As the band take graceful curtseys, bowing low to the room and cheerfully holding hands like they’re closing out a pantomime, their parting statement is ‘Tape Song’. “Honey, time don’t give a shit,” they snarl, “You’ve got to go straight ahead.” Effortlessly evading the old, constantly shunning nostalgia, and rolling a fresh pair of sixes every single time, it’s The Kills all over. (El Hunt) Photo: Chris Bethell
Photo: Chris Bethell/Lovebox
INDIE DREAMBOAT Of the Month
Simon Neil Biffy Buffy clyro Full name: Simon Alexander Neil Nickname: The Atmosphere Star Sign: Virgo Pets? I had two dogs, Rosie and Lulu, but they actually passed away in the last eighteen months. Favourite Film? There Will Be Blood. I love that movie so much, it’s brutal. I love Daniel Day Lewis. Favourite Food? Miso black cod, a beautiful fish dish. I can’t make it, but I can eat it! Drink of choice? Tequila, straight! Signature scent? Acqua di Parma What song would you play to woo someone? To woo someone?! I don’t know if I’m that guy! I’ve been loved up for a while! I’d probably choose a Stevie Wonder song; ‘Superstition’ has a swagger to it. If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing? Trying to be in a band probably. I basically can’t do anything other than write songs. I might be playing violin actually… I played it from when I was four years old, and then gave it up when I discovered guitar. Chat up line of choice? “Do you like Biffy Clyro?”
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