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set mu s ic fr e e f ree / is s ue 64 / JUN E 2 017 diymag .com

Marik a H ac k m a n

Lock up your girlfriends

Beth Dit to

Queen of the South

b l e ac h e r s

Coming off the bench


Form an orderly Kew

royal blood Out of the Black



16.06.17 DIY 2










The name’s Pixx. Just Pixx.



Emma Swann Founding Editor GOOD Festivals. Bring ‘em on! EVIL Discovering my raincoat isn’t all that raincoat-y on a wet Brighton Pier. ............................

bundle of joy. EVIL I didnt get to oil up Marika’s cucumber. ..............................

Lisa Wright Staff Writer GOOD Was reunited with The Cribs on the ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ El hunt anniversary tour (listen to Features Editor it on the DIY Podcast y’all) GOOD Apparently and realised how bloody The L Word is making a comeback!! Marika lucky I am to have such Hackman should definitely a fucking excellent band play a gig at The Planet. soundtrack my life for the EVIL A mystery cat last 15 (15!) years :’) has decided to live in EVIL If I had a pound for my garden. He won’t every time the cat shat in let me leave the house, my plant pot last week, I read books in peace, would have precisely three or even enjoy a quiet pounds :( tinny. MEOW. MEOW!! ............................. Give it a rest, pal! Will Richards ............................. Digital Editor LOuise Mason GOOD Saw Sløtface and Art Director Abattoir Blues be very, GOOD Went to Kew very good at The Great Gardens, on a ghost Escape. train, bowling, to the EVIL Only ate chips Planetarium, and down for four days at The a massive hole in the Great Escape and it ground in Rotherhithe nearly killed me. all to bring you this A5


Back in 2014, it only took about ten minutes for Royal Blood’s tremendous sound to catch on. In what felt like no time at all, the duo were climbing the charts, winning awards and hanging out with bloody Lars Ulrich. Now, after an extended stint on the road - and a recording trip to LA and Nashville, they’re following it up with a massive new record, and they’ve got their sights set on world domination. Elsewhere in this month’s issue, we explore Kew Gardens with Pixx to talk her ace debut, catch up with Bleachers ahead of his comeback show in New York and, er, oil up some cucumbers with Marika Hackman. Don’t ask about the last one… Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor GOOD The double whammy of Dream Wife and The Big Moon at the Brudenell was defo my highlight of Live at Leeds. So good! EVIL It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear the news of last month’s attack in Manchester. All our love goes out to anyone affected. Music is our safe haven and it will forever bring us together.

LISTENING POST What’s been tickling the DIY team’s eardrums this month? MR JUKES - ‘God First’

We’re guessing Bombay Bicycle Club main man Jack Steadman’s new moniker is short for ‘jukebox’, since ‘God First’ is a diverse sonic melting pot that dips into sounds from across the globe.

WESLEY GONZALEZ - ‘Excellent Musician’

If papier-mâché-headed cult icon Frank Sidebottom was a real young man, he’d probably be not unlike former Let’s Wrestle singer Wes. Chintzy and amusingly deadpan.


The Romanian Eurovision entry was frankly, a masterpiece. It turns out all we really needed was a shit European having a yodel.


Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor El Hunt Digital Editor Will Richards Neu Editor Jamie Milton Staff Writers Lisa Wright, Eugenie Johnson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason

C O N T E N T S 4

Contributors Alim Kheraj, Cady Siregar, Dave Beech, Emma Snook, Grant Rindner, Henry Boon, Jessica Goodman, Joe Goggins, Liam Konemann, Liam McNeilly, Lisa Henderson, Rhian Daly. Photographers Betty May, Fabian Fjeldvik, Kasia Osowiecka, Lindsay Melbourne, Mike Massaro, Phil Sharp, Phil Smithies, Pooneh Ghana, Robin Pope, Sarah Louise Bennett, Tim Easton.



FEATURES 36 44 48 52 56 60


2 8 M AT T M A LT E S E 32 HER’S 33 KING NUN



For DIY editorial For DIY sales For DIY stockist enquiries 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. Photo this page: Phil Smithies. Cover photo: Mike Massaro.








First Love, Last Love... Farewell to the Maccabees Words and interviews: Lisa Wright.



ver since the urgent charge of 2005 debut single ‘X-Ray’ introduced The Maccabees as a band brimming with passion and wide-eyed excitement, Orlando Weeks, Felix White, Hugo White, Rupert Jarvis and Sam Doyle slowly but surely buried themselves deep into the hearts of indie kids nationwide. From the youthful, twitchy energy of debut ‘Colour It In’ (see p20 for more on this one), to the heart-busting anthems of ‘Wall of Arms’; the slow-burning leap forward of ‘Given To The Wild’ to 2015’s superlative ‘Marks To Prove It’ – the expansive, soaring climax of all that had come before – The Maccabees were a band who blossomed and progressed in the classiest of ways. Never making a bad record and translating them all into the kind of cathartic, joyful live shows that, by summer 2016, had earned them a rightful spot as major festival headliners, it felt like, after a decade, the band had finally earned their deserved place as one of the UK’s finest. But then... well, you know what happened next. So now, with eyes temporarily dried, we find ourselves on the eve of the band’s farewell tour: eight dates up and down the country and then it’s all over. It’s going to get emotional. See, more than just a band capable of crafting a bucketload of infectious classics, The Maccabees have always been a group with that extra sentimental je ne sais quoi: the kind that grabs you by the heart and fills you with the warm affection of an old pal. We’re not the only ones who think so, either. So here’s to The Maccabees: truly one of the special ones, from DIY and some of the band’s musical nearest and dearest.

Jamie T


first saw The Maccabees play in a little club in Brighton around 2005. They were all out front in a line, crammed onto this little stage and the place was going wild. I thought that they were one of the best bands I had ever heard. Seeing those guys gave me belief that it was still possible to have an effect on people in that traditional band-type capacity. Lyrically their music is rich and the sound has become more three-dimensional as time’s gone on. In an industry built on ‘the next big thing’, it takes a certain class to amass a catalogue as thoughtful and precise as The Maccabees have. ‘No Kind Words’ [in particular] has a special place for me. I think it kind of caught me off guard when I first heard it and I found myself sobbing on public transport. They came on tour with us in the early days and they’d already blown up by then; they could have headlined that tour themselves. The fans had a great time because it was like a double headline slot and we enjoyed it because... well, we got to see The Maccabees play every night.”

Tom Meighan



loved that band, and you know what? As people, I’m telling you now they’re so sound. When we toured together that was the first time we’d met, but we got on amazingly.

Soph Nathan The Big Moon


olour It In’ came out when I was 15, and it made a huge impression on me. It soundtracked a time in my life, and I get a wave of nostalgia listening to it now. Supporting them in 2016 was a huge tour for us, and I kept thinking ‘if only I could go back and tell my teenage self that this would happen’. They’re a very genuine band. There’s a lot of kindness in their lyrics, a sense of care and compassion that I’ve always found really endearing. They’re a really interesting group of people too; the combination of the five of their personalities and talents is what makes the band so special.”

I thought Orlando was a charismatic frontman – very odd and very engaging. And I love the brothers [Hugo and Felix]; they’re amazing, they’ve got a certain look about them. The Maccabees write really unique pop music, and they have an edge to them. Lush melodies, but with this pop edge. I remember one night we proper got on it. I’d got this stereo backstage and I remember us fucking going crazy, screaming along to loads of Beatles, loads of ‘60s rock’n’roll, screaming at each other with shit flying around. You know: one of those nights. Most nights were like that anyway. Nothing new there. Then when they got a Number One album, I bought them a bottle of champagne when we were in Budapest. It was lovely. I’m gutted they’ve split up.”





Mumford and Sons

The Magic Gang


was really young when I first heard The Maccabees. My older brother had discovered them before they put out their first LP and managed to obtain early versions of ‘X-Ray’ and ‘Latchmere’, probably through Limewire or something (sorry lads). Then they were one of the support bands at the first gig I ever went to and I remember being blown away by their energy. After that, I saw them religiously at Reading Festival and other places for years and they never disappointed. I love the way they’re able to evoke really emotional vibes in a pure yet non-sickly way, which personally I think is a really impressive feat. Tunes like ‘Tissue Shoulders’ and ‘First Love’ have this chaotic but simultaneously beautiful tone. Working now with Felix [through Yala! Records] has been amazing to be honest. He’s a great person in general and incredibly supportive. We’re very fortunate to have someone as a boss who has the experience and knowledge of being in a band for quite some time; he’s full of good advice and stories.”




he first time I met Felix was at an early Jets show down in Brighton. He was simultaneously collected and confident whilst bouncing off the walls with excitement, which is exactly how we felt about our band too. So we went to see them at The Borderline - it must have been late 2005 - and they were red hot. The Maccabees were perfect from the get go. ‘X-Ray’, ‘First Love’, ‘Precious Time’: these weren’t the kind of songs you’d expect on a band’s first record. I think one of the things that the Jets and The Maccabees always had in common is that family band factor. There’s nothing like hearing music played by people bonded by blood, and Felix and Hugo played in a way that was unique to them. The counterpoint between those breakneck drums and the floating inflections in Orlando’s voice created this very ethereal but urgent sound. They looked like a proper gang too, although because they all wore hoods at that time you could never tell who was who. ‘Marks To Prove It’ was a love letter to South London and the changing face of the city they sprung from. What a record to go out on.”

eing a teenager in the ‘00s, loving music and going out to indie clubs basically meant that by default you were a Maccabees fan. I remember losing my shit when they asked us to play some shows with them [back in 2009]. It was by far the biggest and best thing to happen to us by that point. Probably still is. I remember driving in a van together to play a show, and hearing ‘No Kind Words’ get spun by Zane Lowe for the first time. Darker, rockier, bigger; it was super exciting. They’ve never tried to make the same record twice, and yet you always know a Maccabees song when you hear one. They taught us everything. 2009 was amazing; they were generous and inviting and so much fun. We’ve subsequently done a bunch more touring together and it’s honestly like touring with brothers, as cheesy as that sounds.”

I remember losing my shit when they asked us to play some shows with them.”


- Ben Lovett




Believe it or not, pop and rock stars sometimes do normal things, too. They get lost, go food shopping, and catch buses – all sorts. This month, we clocked a few of them roaming around The Great Escape... Joel Wolf Alice helping a wheelchair user into a Brighton pub before watching Gothic Tropic. Childhood using the pier as a ballet barre. The Japanese House hiding from the rain under people’s porches.

These days, even yer gran is posting selfies on Instagram. Instagran, more like. Everyone has it now, including all our fave bands. Here’s a brief catch-up on music’s finest photo-taking action as of late.

Position of the Month: Gurn, Baby, Gurn (Bassface Inferno) First Executed By: Este Haim, Haim It’s not uncommon for musicians to exhibit fairly unusual expressions when they’re shredding. Ted from Mumford and Sons has a pretty impressive face-scrunch. Tarek Spring King ranges from actual vomiting to a heroic pout when he’s singing and drumming. However, there is but one true champion of the mid-solo gurn: Este Haim. To pull off The Bassface™ it’s useful to do a bit of method acting. Try to imagine you’re a baby trying a lemon for the first time, a windswept bulldog peering out of a car window, and a finalist at Egremont Crab Fair’s World Gurning Championship, all at once. Throw all convention and decorum out the back door. As the music takes over, relax your facial muscles, and allow your pliable features to morph together like silly putty; as if your very existence is being warped by the intensity of your own concentration.

The Big Moon’s tour bus life had taken a turn for the surreal. (@commoonicate)

Give a pay rise to whoever’s in charge of this alt-J photo shoot. (@unrealaltj)

WHAT A LEDGE Let’s not beat around the bush: every month, at least one of our favourite pop stars does something brilliant. So, to celebrate, we’ve decided to dedicate a few column inches to The Best Person In Music This Particular Month™.

Christine and The Queens It was nice of Christine and The Queens to dress up as Cheryl Cole’s ‘Fight For This Love’ video and Gerard Way at the same time. Bienvenue au défilé noir, indeed.


Some bands spend their advance on drugs and booze. Not so Blaenavon… (@blaeners)



COLOUR From recording in their home studio and releasing a song at a time, to playing to thousands of people across the world, Oh Wonder have had quite an unusual ride. With their new album ‘Ultralife’, they’re exploring the dynamics of human connection in their new world. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photo: Emma Swann.


s the great Ronan Keating once said, life is a rollercoaster. If any band know that all too well, it’s Oh Wonder. Having released their debut track back in September 2014, the past two and a half years have sprung up all manner of surprises. Since beginning their project just under three years ago, the London-based pair of musicians - Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West – took the somewhat untraditional approach of offering up one new song a month, uploading them to SoundCloud one at a time. By the time September 2015 rolled around, they had a first collection of songs and eagerly devoted fan base, so decided to dip their toes into the live world. And – to use the words of every great clickbait article ever - you wouldn’t believe what happened next. Sitting down with the duo today, they’re fresh from a whirlwind trip to Berlin and are just recovering from a stint of US shows which included huge sets at Coachella. Despite being in the middle of life on the road, the pair are in good spirits and are, more importantly, excited about their next step. “It does feel totally different this time,” begins Anthony, on the space the band find themselves in ahead of new record ‘Ultralife’. “Creatively, it’s hugely different,” picks up Josephine, “because we’ve actually made an album in the space of three months and that’s all we did. I’ve never woken up every day and worked on the same thing relentlessly. It’s been incredible and really fulfilling.”

“You need to create affirming human connections.” - Josephine Vander Gucht 12

While their first release grew into life with each month that passed – the duo working on one song at a time – ‘Ultralife’ saw them relocate to New York for a much more concentrated period. After such a long time spent touring away from home, it felt like a big step, but one that was necessary to give them the space they needed. “I think New York definitely took off the pressure of ‘writing a second album’,” says Anthony. “We just went with the intention of writing some songs but it all came very naturally, after a week of settling into normal life.” “It really set the foundation for the record, it set the tone,” Josephine adds, “and I think it allowed us to be a bit more creative when we returned to London, because we knew we had the backbone of the record.” With ‘Ultralife’, the duo have managed to explore a wealth of warm organic sounds, pairing them with the uplifting synth-pop of their first release to create an album that moves fluidly through soaring highs and introspective moments alike. It’s also a full-length that deals directly with the nature of human relationships, and just how lonely a place the world can become, especially through the confines of life on the road. “That’s what we realised through touring,” Anthony says. “You’re surrounded by people all the time and when you’re on

stage, it looks like the most un-lonely place, but it can be very strange.” “It’s crippling, it’s so bizarre,” continues Josephine. “I used to read interviews with celebrities, and they’d say it was so lonely, and I was like, ‘Shut up!’ “But actually when you’re in it, it can be so paralysingly lonely because you’re away from everything you know. It’s in the really small things; when you’re on tour you can’t wake up and make your own breakfast. It’s really tiny things like that which actually make people feel secure. It’s a weird paradox of having these insane ‘pinch me’ moments – on stage, people singing all of your lyrics back to you – coupled with those times where you’re sat on your own on a tour bus in the middle of nowhere and you can’t even call your mum. “The album is bookended up by ‘Solo’ and ‘Waste’,” she explains. “‘Solo’ is about being at a house party, surrounded by people who are totally self-absorbed and you just need to be on your own, to have space and freedom. While ‘Waste’ is about how you do need people around you to feel good, and I think humans need a balance of both; you need time on your own but you also need to create affirming connections.” Oh Wonder’s new album ‘Ultralife’ is out 16th June via Island. DIY 13


If you’re in a band and

actually a good dancer, you’re trying too hard.” - Haley Shea

IN THE STUDIØ: SLØTFACE After a series of hotly-received singles and a seemingly never-ending tour, Slotface have finally carved out their debut album. We get the lowdown on ‘Try Not To Freak Out’. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Fabian Fjeldvik.


løtface are fiery and enthusiastic at the best of times, but right now, having just come off tour with one of their favourite bands, about to head out with another set of idols, and with a debut album in the can, they’re bouncing off the walls.

“We finished some shows with Los Campesinos! the other day, and in two days we go out with The Cribs,” singer Haley Shea yelps. Playing support slots and London residencies over the past year, as well as a bunch of shows at SXSW, the Norwegians’ reputation as a live band is consistently growing, and it’s a promise that the band tried to distil into their recentlyannounced debut album, ‘Try Not To Freak Out’. “We finished the album last summer,” Haley begins, with three solid weeks set aside back home in Norway, “and we started to get a little bit sick of it for a while, having to listen to the mixes so much. But now we’ve taken a bit of a step back the excitement is growing for us to have it out in the world.” Released this September, the album is being previewed with single ‘Magazine’, a brilliantly sugary cut that sees the band go further towards defining their sound: witty, cutting, sarcastic, and sat on a bed of bubblegum guitars. “Patti Smith would


never put up with this shit,” Haley repeats in its bridge. There’s a similarly no-nonsense, headstrong attitude to the band’s debut. “The record gets a lot darker and more complex after ‘Magazine’,” Haley says, “and it was important for us to get a range of sounds and styles into the album, and for it to be a comprehensive mark of where we are as a band. We’ve already started thinking about album two as well - we’re ready!” As well as getting darker from the first single onwards, the album also gets even funnier, with lyrics about dad dancing to ‘Hotline Bling’, something the band won’t apologise for. “None of us are very good dancers, but if you’re in a band and actually a good dancer, you’re trying too hard,” Haley quips. “The good thing about us is that we’re never afraid to dance. No-one’s looking at you, everyone’s thinking about themselves anyway!” Whether Haley believes it or not, and with ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ on the way, more heads will be turning towards Sløtface and their dad dancing very soon indeed. Sløtface’s debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ is out 15th September via Propeller Recordings. DIY







































e Have you ever had

an accident or calamity that would be worthy of inclusion on You’ve Been Framed? Simon Milner: I’ve already been on You’ve Been Framed. When I was 14 I fell off a skateboard and got £250 for the tape. Ellie Kamio: One time I got hit by a post van and took the wing mirror off.

e What are your

favourite pancake toppings? Ellie: Raspberries and Nutella (except I don’t eat that anymore because palm oil is très bad for the environment). Simon: Bacon, butter and maple syrup. Paul Taylor: Weed.

e What’s the best

bargain you’ve ever bought? Simon: A tall marble globe that lights up and spins around.

e What would your

specialist subject on Mastermind be? Simon: Tom Waits. Paul: German whips. Ellie: Instagram stalking. Generation Z for lyf.


Lu c K Y

e If you could join any

band in the world - current or past - which would you pick and why? Paul: N.E.R.D. Ellie: Pussycat Dolls. Simon: The Strokes.

e What are you most

Di P Ever wondered what your favourite band’s preferred brand of toothpaste is? Or their favourite time of day to take a walk? With Lucky Dip, we’re here to provide you with the answers to the silliest questions you’d never dare to ask. This month,

SÄLEN take it on...

e What’s the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?

Simon: That I got asked what my weirdest dream was. Inception. Paul: I was riding a St. Bernard with Kim K on the back. Ellie: I guess the most memorable one would be when I could fly but only by kicking one leg and gasping air. Me and my primary school mates got attacked by flying ninjas and then got locked in a dungeon. But a haggard wizard helped us escape by telling us to follow his luminous beard. Then we were in a cute Disney-esque village but all the people were animals. A mysterious fox jumped for me and then I woke up.

scared of? Ellie: Sharks and childbirth. Simon: Bureaucracy. Paul: Spiders. Fuck those guys.

e You can only eat one food for the rest of your life. What is it? Paul: My mum’s home cooking. Simon: Nando’s. Ellie: Brown rice sushi or spag bol.

e Do you believe in

ghosts? Ellie: No but I believe in aliens and spirits. Paul: Nah. Simon: Only the Ghostface Killah.

e Is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit or a cake? Paul: Cake because you don’t have to pay any tax on it because it’s not a luxury item, whereas biscuits are. Ellie: So are tampons apparently.










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The Cribs, Black Honey, and The Great Escape all feature in recent episodes. If you’ve not yet subscribed to the DIY Podcast, you’re missing out. We headed to Bristol to catch up with The Cribs as they celebrate ten years of ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ by touring the record, bringing great (relative) newcomers Sløtface and Demob Happy along for the ride. We joined Black Honey on tour, going from festivals to instores via falling off childrens’ scooters. Plus there’s more from The Great Escape (see p76), and previous episodes featuring faves like The Magic Gang, Partybaby, Marika Hackman and March’s SXSW.



In desperate need of a live music fix but can’t decide where or who? If you feel too spoilt for choice, here’s just a few of LNSource’s upcoming shows worth getting off the sofa for.

grouplove 23rd August, KOKO, London Having just unleashed their new ‘Little Mess’ EP on the world, LA’s infectious quintet Grouplove are due to visit our shores later this summer for appearances at Reading and Leeds. They’ll be headlining London’s KOKO while they’re over too, y’know, just for fun.

Service Station of the Month


Cobham Services, M25

Service Station of the Month

Bands love service stations more than life itself. Snacks, bogs, time to think - it’s all there. These are miraculous places where festival headliners mingle with lorry drivers. It’s due time we paid respect to the very best.

“Cobham Services on the M25. It’s fucking amazing. It’s like a spaceship! We stayed in the Days Inn two nights in a row on the last tour. There’s like fifteen eateries, catering to all. There’s a massive duck pond, I’ve sat outside and had many moments to myself there. I came back from one of the gigs and sat up in bed and watched Naked Gun on my laptop. It’s absolute bliss. Remember the name, Cobham Services.”



13th September, Scala, London Fresh from causing quite the fuss at The Great Escape last month, Norway’s superstar-in-the-making Sigrid is returning to the UK later this year to serve up more pop hits. She’ll be heading to the Scala this September and - we can guarantee - it’ll be bloody massive.

the veils 19th September, Islington

Assembly Hall, London The London-based indie stalwarts released fifth album ‘Total Depravity’ last year, which featured production skills from one El-P no less. If that wasn’t enough, frontman Finn Andrews has a role in the brand new Twin Peaks. Oo-er. For more information and to buy tickets, head to or


............................................... Haim • Want You Back ............................................... Haim’s initial return, with live track ‘Right Now’, was understated in the extreme. A video showing the sisters playing a reserved cut with flashes of brilliance, the track served to whet the appetite for the band’s new album a little more, rather than blow anyone away. ‘Want You Back’, the record’s first official single, drifts a little further into the pop-smash-we-all-expected territory. Beginning with that well-travelled three-chord melody, ‘Want You Back’ has the potential to be VERY big. When the chorus does kick in, it’s trademark Haim, Danielle managing, as ever, to cram far too many syllables into a single line , while making something brilliant and confusingly catchy. It’s an earworm, and another step towards what’s set to be a huge comeback. (Will Richards)

.......................................... • Superfood • I Can’t See .......................................... Built around a sample from Ronald Russell’s cult 1968 track ‘Rhythm Hips’, ‘I Can’t See’ takes the lilting summer good vibes of its predecessor and infuses them with syrupy sweet harmonies and hearton-sleeve dedications to the power of having a pal by your side. Bursting with the warmth and positivity of an old soul favourite, there’s a purity to Dom Ganderton and Ryan Malcolm’s vocal hook that suggests they’ve dredged this one up right from their very cores. (Lisa Wright)

.......................................... • Milk Teeth • Owning Your Okayness .......................................... If the title ‘Owning Your Okayness’ hints at some level of mediocrity in the Milk Teeth camp, it’s a name that’s wildly off course. The first teaser of their ‘Be Nice’ EP is a bona fide smasher of a number, hints of Green Day and 90s grunge bursting through between killer riffs and Becky’s bold, confessional lyrics. Infectious to its core, summer’s made for pop-punk, and you’ll find none more suitable than this. (Emma Swann)

.......................................... • Inheaven • Vultures .......................................... With every new track unleashed, INHEAVEN step up a level. Previous single ‘Treats’ was bubblegum grunge at its finest, and this follow-up has them spitting bile in the best way possible, vocalists Chloe Little and James Taylor swapping roles between chorus and verse to powerful effect. As tailor-made for the summer’s mosh pits as 2017’s doomsday climate, on ‘Vultures’’ basis there’s no stopping them. (Emma Swann)

.......................................... • LCD Soundsystem • call the police / american dream .......................................... This pair of new songs put all the LCD chatter to rest: ‘call the police’ is a track that carries infectious momentum, on top of which James Murphy puts the world to rights. And if that’s the fist-pumping, glorious return, ‘american dream’ is the solemn statement. Lyrically, it’s ‘North American Scum’ part two, but musically it trades the former’s urgency and bombast for slow, probing majesty. LCD are back, and not doing things by halves. (Will Richards) 19


A decade after its release and imbued with the added weight of an imminent teary goodbye, The Maccabees’


debut still rings with all the inimitable joy that made them so special. Words: Lisa Wright.

ith this month’s impending final farewell looming like a particularly tear-jerking ghost of gig-going future, it’s hard to entirely reassess ‘Colour It In’ – The Maccabees’ first long player, which turned 10 last month – without the rose-tinted glow of emotional bias. But as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed introduction to a band who would grow into one of our finest, its legacy speaks for itself. While later albums ‘Given To The Wild’ (2012) and ‘Marks To Prove It’ (2015) would go on to provide more mature, measured thrills, ‘Colour It In’ sparkled with the giddy joy of a band charging out of the starting blocks, while simultaneously proving them to be leagues ahead of their mid-00s peers in terms of nuance, depth and emotional clout. When The Maccabees first emerged, a rag tag bunch fresh out of Brighton, it was during UK indie’s purple patch. From The Horrors’ gothic cavorting to Kate Nash’s ubiquitous ‘Foundations’, Jamie T’s scene-leading storytelling to the continued dominance of a little group called the Arctic Monkeys, it was a

good time to be armed with a six-string. But even among stiff competition, The Maccabees, with their tales of swimming pool wave machines and Colgate smooches, felt different. They always dug that little bit further inwards. Theirs were off-kilter stories, plucked from the heart and delivered with a sensitivity that felt both passionate and fragile, raw yet raging.

the Facts Release: 14th May 2007 Stand-out tracks: ‘First Love’, ‘Lego’, ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ Tell Your Mates: The wave machine namechecked in ‘Latchmere’ can be found at the Latchmere Leisure Centre in Battersea, if you’re in the mood for a health-based pilgrimage.

Whether in the pleasingly wonky imagery of ‘Tissue Shoulders’, or the charming, childlike innocence of ‘Lego’ – all served up with Orlando’s delicate, wavering croon – ‘Colour It In’ drew on youth and young manhood, and all the mash of feelings that go with it. ‘First Love’ was an impassioned flurry of emotions that veered between the direct and the playful, driven along by Felix and Hugo’s stabs of guitar, while ‘Mary’ soared on the most jubilant fretwork imaginable. ‘Colour It In’ set the template for a band that would, arguably, go on to surpass it with every release. But when you distil the beauty of The Maccabees down to its barest bones, then all the endearing, heart-splitting component parts were there from day one, brimming out of every Scalextric reference and sucker-punch chorus. DIY

The Macca-babies, way back when.










TUE.25.JUL.17 WED.26.JUL.17





GLASTONBURY 21st - 25th June

Tent packed, wellies prepped, vaguely comical giant flag design drawn out. June means it’s time to head on down to Worthy Farm. As the line ups for the smaller stages trickle out - Muncie Girls and Sad13 will play the Left Field tent, while Rat Boy is headed to ShangriLa - and rumours about secret sets increase day on day *cough* Paramore, Harry Styles, Radiohead (even though they’re playing officially this time you know there’ll be some), excitement’s at peak levels. Whether it’s Katy Perry’s pop extravaganza, new Haim, the intensity of Run The Jewels’ live presence, getting mosh-y in the mud with Royal Blood, Biffy Clyro, Foo Fighters and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, embracing the emosh alongside The xx, or just singing along to just about everyone in sight (hello!), 2017’s gonna be a good’un.

W h a t


J u n e !

H o w

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n o w ?

G i r l

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w o m a n

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E r …



Declan’s praying the rain stays away this year.


Declan McKenna What does Glastonbury mean to you? A lot! It’s the first big festival I played and I always have an amazing time there, quite simply nowhere else like it. I love it there. You won Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent competition a couple of years ago – what was that experience like? Weird and cool and unexpected. It all happened very quickly but I had a great time and couldn’t believe my luck!

Do you have any particularly good memories from that first experience? My welly got stuck in mud and my foot came out and stepped on mud. I Michael Jordan-ed a muddy sock into a bin, defo a three-pointer. What can we expect from your set? Something akin to a set by St. Vincent but less good?

If you could curate a stage at a festival, who would you have playing and why? Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip followed by ten hours of Tragedy!, the all-metal tribute to the Bee Gees. Because you actually can’t ever have enough of that.

Q&A Stella Mozgawa, Warpaint

You’ve played Glastonbury a few times - what do you remember of your first experience? Walking around in my wellies with Jen [bandmate Jenny Lee Lindberg], we were pointing and laughing at people’s miserable tents and just the misery of the situation. It was really entertaining at the time. We had a really early press interview and I just did it in my pyjamas and I didn’t get out of my pyjamas for the rest of the day. We played the John Peel stage at like 5pm that evening and I was still in my pyjamas. How well do Warpaint cope with the mud? Pretty good. There seems a pattern of: confusion, acceptance... like the five stages of grieving, except there’s a long, extended period of humour in there as well. Levity, I think. But we’re always pretty wellequipped, thanks to our British managers and label. They know what’s up. We just kinda turn up like, “Ohhh sneakers no?! OK.”


OPEN’ER 28th June - 1st July

Radiohead, Foo Fighters, The Weeknd and The xx are the big guns headed to the massive field in Gdynia on the north coast of Poland at the end of the month, with the four-day event also playing host to this month’s cover stars Royal Blood, Solange, Charli XCX, Warpaint, The Kills, Dua Lipa, Prophets of Rage and James Blake.


Alison Mosshart, The Kills Hello, Alison! How are you preparing for your festival-filled summer? Well, I’m sort of in training. Right before going out on the road again, I make sure to exercise a bunch, build up my immune system and my energy reserves. Meanwhile, I like to gaze at the tour routing and get excited, while enjoying the last days of private bathrooms, beds that aren’t on wheels, clean clothes, and not having to shower in flip flops. Having travelled around the globe many a time, have you ever accidentally greeted the wrong festival? I have never accidentally done this. But I can see how it would be extremely easy to do. Often on a festival circuit, you wake up at your destination - in a field without landmarks. During the night you may driven through a country or two while asleep… so it’s a good thing to ask someone over morning coffee, “Where am I?”. What have your previous live experiences in Poland been like? They have always been incredible. The Polish audiences are brilliantly tuned in, passionate music lovers. It’s always an honour to play there. 23



Fatboy Slim and Eurovision winner Salvador Sobral are the latest additions to Super Bock Super Rock.

Lisbon festival Super Bock Super Rock (13th - 15th July) have announced two more names for this year’s festival superstar DJ Fatboy Slim, and Alexander Search, the project from this year’s Portuguese Eurovision winner Salvador Sobral, along with collaborator Júlio Resende. Let’s hope he leaves the giant coat at home. They join previouslyrevealed names including Deftones, London Grammar, Future, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Kevin Morby.


ROCK WERCHTER 29th June - 2nd July

True to form, Belgian super-festival Rock Werchter has pulled out many a stop for their 2017 bash, with Arcade Fire, Radiohead, alt-J, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Lorde, Royal Blood and local boys Soulwax all on the four-day bill. Further down the bill doesn’t disappoint either, with Noname, Declan McKenna, Maggie Rogers, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Toothless also travelling to the land of waffles.


Ed Nash, Toothless

Presumably you’re excited to take Toothless material across Europe on the road? Very much so! Travelling and playing shows are the things I missed the most while recording the album and putting the band together. I can’t wait to get out and play shows in Europe again. Rock Werchter’s got some massive headliners are there acts you’re intending to catch? The band I most want to see are Whitney, they are probably my favourite band from the past year. Unfortunately we wont be at the festival when they play. On the day that we’re there, Linkin Park, System of a Down and Blink-182 are playing! When I was younger and just starting to play music I absolutely loved all three of these bands, watching any of their shows would be a serious blast from the past. Do you have a favourite thing about Belgium - and if so, what is it? I love the venue Botanique which I’ve played at many times over the years with Bombay Bicycle Club. Last time we played there was the day that our album got to Number One!



NEWS in Brief

Two Door Cinema Club, Mystery Jets, Leon Bridges and Childhood are among new additions to Latitude (13th - 16th July), joining headliners The 1975, Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, plus The Magic Gang, The Japanese House, The Horrors, IDLES and more. The Magic Gang, Honeyblood, Chastity Belt and The Tuts are all added to the Bestival (7th - 10th September) bill, the newly-rehomed festival already boasting acts including The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Jamie T and Circa Waves. Solange, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Methyl Ethel have all been confirmed for Lowlands (18th - 20th August), the Dutch festival having already announced artists including Bastille, alt-J, Iggy Pop, Skepta, PVRIS and At the Drive In. Mystery Jets, Mew and Cold War Kids all join The Killers at BST Hyde Park (8th July), with British Sea Power and The Strypes also joining Tears For Fears in supporting the US giants at the massive outdoor gig. Superfood, JAWS, Jagwar Ma and Wild Beasts are among the first names for new Birmingham event Beyond The Tracks (15th - 17th September). They’re joined by artists including Slowdive, Nadine Shah and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Afropunk London (22nd - 23rd July) finds a new home at Printworks, with NAO, Danny Brown, Little Simz, Lianne La Havas and Willow Smith all confirmed to appear, alongside Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, Corinne Bailey Rae and Jazzie B. The Avalanches, Benjamin Booker, and The Cult are new additions to NOS Alive (6th - 8th July), joining The Kills, Depeche Mode, Foo Fighters, alt-J, Warpaint and more at the Lisbon shindig. Soulwax, Giggs, Princess Nokia and Fakear have all been added to MIA’s Meltdown (9th - 18th June), the Southbank Centre bash having already announced appearances from JD Samson, Mykki Blanco, Young Fathers and Crystal Castles.

David Rodigan pres. Ram Jam



DJ Taye DJ Paypal

David Rodigan

DJ Spinn

PLUS teklife dancers


toddla t & coco MIXPAK

dre skull & jubilee


47Soul The Turbans My Baby Flamingods New York Brass Band

DJ SHADOW Blossoms KURUPT FM Lucy Rose




pres. art’s house

Rag’n’Bone Man WILEY Laura Mvula

Danny Brown LOYLE CARNER Soul II Soul MNEK Circa Waves Ray Blk The Ska Vengers Stefflon Don Smoove and Turrell K.O.G. and The Zongo Brigade Kuenta I Tambu

The Cuban Brothers nadia rose

purple rave

Roots Manuva

MR Scruff

craig charles’ funk & soul club south london soul train FULL LINE-UP AND TICKETS

Mad Professor Trojan Sound System nice up!

Daddy G Kiko Bun StarOne shepdog Riddim Punks +more

Twin Atlantic Nick Mulvey AJ Tracey 67 Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon

Bomba Estéreo DJ Yoda U-ROY Romare Sinkane Tash Sultana Bjarki

Pres. 25 years of RAM Calyx & Teebee Culture Shock +more Heidi AGORIA DUSKY Patrick Topping Solardo MOnki Melé jasper james

Jackmaster Kölsch




Dead Pretties “Booze? Drugs? Not me, guvnor. Never even heard of the stuff.”

Ja Ja Ja Ruby Empress + Slowes + Tófa The Lexington, London


icking off the final show of Ja Ja Ja’s spring season with a blitzkrieg of anvil-heavy riffs and high-pitched wails are Icelandic quintet Tófa. Wasting no more time with pleasantries, the band steamroll through a set of scuzzy, chaotic numbers that leave our eardrums throbbing. Next up are Denmark duo Slowes. Their heady mixture of psychedelic pop and chillwave coupled with the frontman’s forlorn onstage character makes for a mesmeric experience. Rounding off the night are Swedish outfit Ruby Empress who pack a high-energy, groove-laden set. But behind their outrageously fun stage antics lies an important message. “I’ve got unity and diversity sprayed on my chest. I’m sick of racists and nationalists,” says the frontman. It’s a welcome reminder that, despite the political mess threatening to tear us away from our Scandi friends, nights like Ja Ja Ja mean that nothing can keep their music at bay. (Lisa Henderson)


YOWL + Karmacoma Thousand Island, London. Photo: Lindsay Melbourne.


hen Dead Pretties and YOWL played our Hello 2017 series at The Old Blue Last back in January, they stated their intentions as two of London’s most exciting new bands. Tonight, we bring them back together at London’s newest venue, Highbury’s Thousand Island. From a short-but-extremely-sweet early showing, Karmacoma look to be shooting for the same stars as their contemporaries, with their fiddly shoegaze meeting more straight-up, Strokes-y guitars, a bewitching pair of styles that set the band in good stead. Things get a whole lot grubbier courtesy of YOWL, with every spat out lyric hitting like a hammerblow, set against spiky guitars that feel like The Clash revitalised. By the time Dead Pretties crawl their way onto the stage, there’s a swarm of bodies inches away from the three-piece and a sweaty, infectious excitement around. Things then, suitably, end up taking a turn for the chaotic, thrashing their way through an already-adored catalogue with abandon and vicious energy. Debut single ‘Social Experiment’ is an anthemin-waiting, and the air of excitement around everything the band are doing right now defines the whole night. There’s no stopping Dead Pretties. (Will Richards)













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“I don’t think I can reference Foucault and not sound like a twat yet.”

Matt Maltese A South London troubadour putting wit back into the solo white male. Words: Lisa Wright. Photo: Emma Swann.

Matt was pondering the eternal, existential question of scrambled eggs or fried.


new music new bands



MATT’S STUDIO FAMILY Matt’s currently got an enviable group of people lending their production skills to his new material - let’s see who they are.

HUGO WHITE Most of the stuff I’m doing at the moment is with Hugo. We met and just hit it off; he’s one of the most ego-less people I’ve ever met.

BILL RYDER-JONES I’ve done a little bit with Bill Ryder-Jones too who I’d love to work more with. He’s such a sweetie and well funny. He just heard my music through a friend and got in touch.

ALEX BUREY Alex Burey is a big part of it as well. I was such a massive fanboy of Alex and then he messaged me. He’s a nutcase. All three of them are people where I’ve never met someone like them before. I feel like I could meet all of them as friends, so the fact that I like all their music too – I don’t know what else I could ask for.


always pour my heart out in cafes,” says Matt Maltese, sitting down in the corner of a quiet Elephant and Castle coffee shop, a stone’s throw away from the studio he’s currently holed up in with Maccabees guitarist-turnedproducer Hugo White. He pauses and groans. “Oh god, I can’t believe I actually just said that...” If the South Londoner is still prone to the odd troubledyoung-man trope in conversation, then recent gamechanging singles ‘Vacant In The 21st Century’ and ‘As The World Caves In’ show Matt’s transformation from a songwriter knee-deep in feelings to one adept at satirising and playfully skewing them. After the promise of 2016 EP ‘In A New Bed’, the last six months have seen him leap forward into tangibly more exciting territory; now the penny’s dropped for the singer, he’s very audibly hit his stride. “I felt quite hesitant of having humour in my songs [before], like humour was outside of music, but I started to think that was all a bit bullshit,” he explains. “Sometimes, it feels like the only thing that keeps me going is laughing.” An only child of Canadian-Italian parents and a natural overthinker (“It’s such a cliché to say, but [having no siblings] gives you more time on your own to be in your own head”), Matt grew up on a diet of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, before finding kindred spirits in Pulp, Father John Misty and music’s more theatrically verbose raconteurs. Despite an inherent affinity with these artists, however, it took an introduction to some of South London’s more hedonistic new exports for the now 20-year-old singer to fully embrace his own fun side. Playing with the likes of Shame, HMLTD and Goat Girl, Matt regularly found himself on bills at infamous Brixton hub The Windmill where he’d have nothing sonically in common with his raucous peers except “a love of taking the mick out of ourselves”. “I had so much fun at those nights. I’d be the most ridiculous version of myself, in a white turtleneck, singing heartbreak songs,” he remembers. “It made me more comfortable with the kind of songwriter I am; even though at times I can be on the verge of being a parody of this heartbreak troubadour, I’ve come to just be happy and at peace with that.” With both ‘Vacant In The 21st Century’ and ‘As The World Caves In’ (the latter, an apocalyptic imagined love story between Donald Trump and Theresa May) entwining lush, sweeping melodies and the kind of darkly satirical lyrics that question what it means to be young and politically engaged in 2017, Matt is already proving a singular voice. “Right now [the world] is so ridiculous, how do you even talk about it?” he shrugs. “Do you be an angry punk kid or do you go, ‘Haha, this is so stupid’? I think most of my songwriting is trying to gauge what the right way is.” Like a young, British counterpart to Father John Misty and his current society-questioning opus ‘Pure Comedy’, Matt’s casting an eye over the world and twisting it into his own innovative shape, one superlative track at a time. “[FJM’s] transition from being very heart-on-sleeve as J. Tillman to now is something I really relate to,” he concurs, now fully ensconced in the fun and theatre of the latter period. “I don’t think I can reference Foucault and not sound like a twat yet though.” Maybe give it another six months, eh? DIY


Annabel Allum

A truth-telling star in the making. Pick a subject, and Guildford’s Annabel Allum will make a sarcasm-drenched song about it. ‘Eat Greens’ finds her detailing the complex between aiming for a greater life and betterness, only to be riddled with guilt – like giving yourself a vegetables quota. ‘Rich Backgrounds’ is even better, a raw rallying cry against wealthy kids who cheat the system and give nothing back. “Rich backgrounds, your rich fucking backgrounds,” she cheerily sings on a savage, brilliant chorus. Listen: ‘Rich Backgrounds’ doesn’t pull any punches. Similar to: Courtney Barnett on a Kill Bill-style vengeance mission.



JW Ridley

So the story goes, Kwaye scored a record deal by meeting a big-league A&R in an Uber one night. Journeying through Los Angeles, he played debut single ‘Cool Kids’ and the A&R was immediately sold. It’s easy to see why – the track mirrors Dev Hynes’ ice-cool, 80s style production, but it packs a far more deadly killer touch, combining a London background with his Zimbabwean roots. Chances are even if that cab ride never happened, the 22 year old would have been discovered eventually. Listen: Play ‘Cool Kids’ on your next taxi journey. Similar to: Pre-’A Seat at the Table’ Solange meets Kindness.

After graduating from art school and moving back home, Jack Ridley was struggling with personal problems and an identity crisis. Back in St. Albans, he started penning grandscoped, honesty-first songs with the primary purpose of escape. Shortly after, he started working with Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey, the perfect producer for turning his songs into vast, galloping giants. And out came debut single ‘Deathless’, an eight-minute long triumph that puts this newcomer firmly on the map. Listen: The eight-minute version of ‘Deathless’ is worth every second. Similar to: Deerhunter’s experimentalism and the emotional pull of early Future Islands.

Combining style with serious substance.

Riding his own wave.

Recommended Bad Nerves A band who refuse to slow down.

Breaking speed limits for fun, no band plays harder, faster or more recklessly than Bad Nerves. The East London pack sport the fun factor of FIDLAR and the pace of Usain Bolt on a treadmill. Last year’s ‘Wasted Days’ / ‘Can’t Be Mine’ single was as abrupt as interruptions come, both songs snapping alive the second they start, the equivalent of a caffeine-fuelled alligator going in for the kill. Listen: ‘Can’t Be Mine’ is an early calling card. Similar to: An additivefuelled hamster spinning on its wheel at 100mph. 30


Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading formed Her’s as an ‘in-joke’. Studying in Liverpool, they took trips around the city after midnight, video camera in hand, to film joke music videos that would make their way onto YouTube that same morning, around 5am. Crafty detectives can still find them somewhere, but the Her’s of today have sprouted from a prank to a fully-fledged force.


way it shares more with Drake’s playlist antics than any cohesive work. Each song feels like it’s lifted from a different dimension. “There’s a scene for every song,” agrees Stephen. “We always knew ‘Speed Racer’ would be the image of this gross, rough-around-the-edges character.” Audun, who designs all the artwork, adds: “Same with the nook and cranny beach vibes of ‘Marcel’, with a radio playing the track on the shore.”

says. But Her’s seem to put substance over style. Within seconds of each song starting, they’ve found the essence of it – more room for big hooks, less room for faffing around. Her’s also have a third, honorary member: Pierce Brosnan. Dressed in Bond attire, he can always be found at the front of the stage, in cardboard cutout, around 20 centimetres high but no less formidable than his real form. “He’s our spiritual guide,” beams Stephen. “He has been acting up recently though,” adds Audun. “He actually fell over on stage…” Pierce clearly had more than his fair share of the backstage rider. “He toppled over and queued another beat on top of the one we were playing. There was this jungle madness going on. We quickly sorted that out, threw him off stage. He got out of control.”

It’s already clear, on stage or off, that Her’s have nothing to hide. Live, they’re both magnifying and genuinely hilarious, sharing jokes and sarcastic jibes between frenzied renditions of Pop chameleons with bucketloads of songs. On record, everything’s upfront. personality, Stephen brings baritone Stephen’s vocals are stripped of effects, vocals and Buddy Holly-nodding guitars, guitar and bass parts are high in the mix, while Audun’s raw bass parts are one and a deadly, repetitive drum pattern spectacle, his hip-shifting dance moves tends to do the rest. “There are so many on stage another thing altogether. Debut super reverb-y bands who I like. But collection ‘Songs of Her’s’ sees them it adds a strong element of mystery flitting between A-Ha-nodding, romantic to a band,” says the Even in these early days, the duo have 80s pop (‘Dorothy’), Mac DeMarco-style vocalist. “A lot of bad created their own warped universe. wooziness (‘Marcel’) and ‘Speed Racer’’s musicians can hide Not long from now, Richard Branson “Pierce tough guy image. The pair are keen to under reverb will be pioneering space missions Brosnan state this isn’t an Actual Album, and in a on record,” he to Planet Her’s. DIY

is our spiritual guide.” -stephen Fitzpatrick

her’s Thugs, romantics and Pierce Brosnan –

anyone’s welcome in the weird world of Liverpool duo Her’s.

Words: Jamie Milton. Photo: Emma Swann.


“We don’t want to be specifically an angry band.” - Nathan Gane

King Nun hid away for three years before charging out on a cross-country offensive with their Dirty Hit labelmates. Now, the rock-but-not-


King Nun are rife with possibility. Sitting in their boxy north London rehearsal room, lyric sheets and grand plans hanging from the ceiling, it’s clear they’re still buzzing from their first tour. “You hear it’s like ‘you sleep in a shoebox, it’s awful!’” says frontman Theo Polyzoides of the band’s stint alongside Pale Waves and Superfood on the Dirty Hit tour. “But it was just this massive family.”


He grins slyly, glancing around at the others. “I’d say it was the best tour we’ve done yet.” Guitarist James Upton arches an eyebrow. “Also the worst tour we’ve done yet.” Listening to their songs, all grunge riffs and pummelling percussion, you’d be forgiven for expecting King Nun to be Angry Young Men. Their tracks have a

youthful restlessness about them, a sense of frustration layered between the lyrics and instrumentals. In person though, the band are cheerful. “On tour people would come up and talk to us about being this punk band, and it made me think. I’ve never seen it in a punk kind of way,” Theo considers. “Rock definitely, but not in a punk way.” “We don’t want to be specifically an angry band. We want to voice it in a way that feels appropriate,” adds bassist Nathan Gane. Still, the furious energy on ‘Tulip’ and ‘Hung Around’ is undeniable. King Nun reckon that’s partly down to environment. “I think that charge comes from having to put up with the sound in these rooms we used to practice in,” says Theo. “We were stuck in this one room that was always either boiling or cold, and it smelled like shit. Back when we were starting, the rooms we could afford…” He makes a face, drops the sentence, and James picks

punk foursome are ready to take over the world. Words: Liam Konemann. Photo: Emma Swann.

up the thread. “We’d have two hours a week,” he says. “It’s quite sad when you’ve got something you want to do all the time, and you can only do it two hours a week.” Nathan agrees. “Working a rubbish job to then go and give too much money to a man that lets you make loud noises in his shipping container makes you feel pretty shit about yourself. We’re very fortunate now, so we just try to make the most of it.” There doesn’t seem to be any risk of them getting complacent just yet. Especially not with their first appearances at Reading and Leeds on the horizon. “Me and Caius went to Reading after our GCSEs.” Nathan starts. “And to be those kids going ‘I’ve got my GCSEs and I’m going to spend five days away from my parents seeing loads of cool bands’, to hopefully think that now there’ll be people doing that, seeing us, is quite a weird thought.” DIY


MUST-SEE SHOWS this month

Like being the first to see the next big thing? Get ready to brag to your mates about watching this lot before they went big, sold out and spectacularly broke up.

Julien Baker Manchester, The Deaf Institute (6th June) Memphis songwriter Julien Baker makes two UK stops this month, following the release (and re-release) of low-key debut ‘Sprained Ankle’. She’s now inked a deal with Matador (Savages, Perfume Genius), with a new studio album tentatively pencilled in for 2017. Catch these new songs first in Manchester or London’s Bush Hall (5th June).

Yonaka London, Sebright Arms (7th June) Rambunctious bunch Yonaka are stupidly fun. They give their punchy, percussive songs titles like ‘Drongo’, and in Theresa Jarvis, sport a singer who could command any space. Seriously, she could turn a gloomy seance into a carnival. Newly signed to Atlantic, they play their biggest headline show so far at Sebright Arms this month.

Spinning Coin Brighton, The Joker (13th June) Glasgow four-piece Spinning Coin tour the UK with Canadian shape-shifter Sean Nicholas Savage on tour this month, before hitting the road across Europe with Real Estate, including a show at London Roundhouse. Chances are your calendar doesn’t sound quite as fun (sorry). Catch them while you can in Brighton haunt The Joker.

Eyedress Bristol, Louisiana (13th June) Manila, Philippines genre-hopper Eyedress is finally releasing debut album ‘Manila Ice’ this month. It comes after years of repeatedly being in the spotlight and promptly disappearing. Catch him on a rare European tour this month – as well as Bristol, he visits Manchester, Birmingham, London and Brighton.

Maggie Rogers London, Electric Brixton (21st June) For her last London visit – two headline shows at swanky new venue Omeara – Maggie Rogers tried to nab 2017’s unofficial ‘Longest Round of Applause’ prize. People were enraptured, to the point where her debut album looked like being delayed, because the clapping would never cease. She’s back this June for a sold out show in the just-shy-of-2000-capacity Electric Brixton. Next stop, Wembley Stadium? 34


All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.


ON THE PLAYLIST Every week on Spotify, we update DIY’s Neu Discoveries playlist with the buzziest, freshest faces. Here’s our pick of the best new tracks: Nilüfer Yanya ‘Golden Cage’ In just under a year, Londoner Nilüfer Yanya has already flitted between smooth pop, flexing jazz and understated folk. ‘Golden Cage’ expresses even more, spitting jagged horn parps and stylish guitar parts. She can do anything. Nick Hakim ‘Roller Skates’ On the surface, Nick Hakim’s ‘Roller Skates’ is the answer to every Unknown Mortal Orchestra fan’s prayers, as they wait for a new album. Sedated funk stylings are his thing. But there’s also a unique, wistful side to Hakim, hidden behind the haze.

GIRL YAY London trio Girl Ray have announced their debut album! ‘Earl Grey’ (not a pun, just a nice tea reference) will be released on 4th August via Moshi Moshi. It was recorded with friend and touring guitarist Mike O’Malley over what they say was two “intense and insane” weeks at Ramsgate’s Big Jelly Studios, and it’s set to include recent tracks ‘Stupid Things’ and new single ‘Preacher’. Lovely stuff.

REX GON’ GIVE IT TO YOU Rex Orange County is a generous chap. No sooner had the 18-yearold been profiled in our April issue, when he released an entire new album. ‘Apricot Princess’ is all meditations on the nature of young love wrapped up in light, sometimes lo-fi tunes that flex the full extent of Alex’s multi-faceted talents. It’ll probably soundtrack the rest of your summer. Listen on

SIG-ARETTES AND ALCOHOL Scandi star Sigrid is going places fast. It was only February when she released debut track ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ – a fireball-breathing pop monster. Now the 20-year-old has put out her debut EP, triumphed buzzy shows at SXSW, and performed on Later… With Jools Holland. For the latter, she played an a cappella, piano-led version of ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ – usually an absolute no-go and bound to be dull, right? Wrong. Sigrid can even make a cappella sound fun.

Starcrawler ‘Ants’ A sub-two minutes statement of intent from the retro-fused Los Angeles four-piece, newly-signed to Rough Trade.




With a twinkle in their eyes and the world in their hands, we find Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher ready to

Royal Blood have found climbing Led Zep’s actual Stairway to Heaven a bit tough.


Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Mike Massaro.

re-charter the good ship Royal Blood and sail second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ into the stratosphere.

COMES THE Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Mike Massaro.



at around the table of a swish Soho bar, sipping a fresh mint tea - that they’ll soon switch out for wine - and wearing variations of trademark black, Royal Blood are getting revved up. It’s not, as you might reasonably assume, because in less than two hours they’ll debut ‘Lights Out’ – the first track from their hugely-anticipated second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ – live on air to the world. No, no. Frontman Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher have just invented a new game, and they’re feeling pretty good about it. “It’s called Chop Suey, and you basically get a lady called Sue in and see how fast she can chop up an onion,” explains Ben. “There’s different rounds. Vegetable. Chicken. In one, she has to fillet a salmon.” “It’s 4pm! It’s Saturday! You know what time it is: Choooop Suuuuey!” chimes in Mike in his best game show host tenor. “How good’s that game? Go on, you can say it. It’s gold.” “Oh, I’ve got another game now,” Ben adds, “‘It’s Gold’, and you have to guess whether or not something is gold.” “Oooooh, sorry, that one’s actually nickel,” quips Mike. “Better luck next time.”

It’s only in the past year that the duo have even had the chance to sit back and assess their current, highly favourable situation. Having formed Royal Blood in early 2013, it took less than six months for the band to find their logo emblazoned across Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders’ chest during the band’s Glastonbury headline set. Things have only escalated since. “There was a point after that had happened, when Zane Lowe had started playing ‘Out of the Black’ on Radio 1 and we were playing shows at 200, 300 capacity venues. It was the first time we’d had a sold out tour and, although it was small looking back, it already felt like it was bigger than we’d anticipated it would be,” enthuses Mike, before adopting a wild-eyed horror narrator voice. “It was like the beast had slowly started to turn its head...”

“We’ve already got it. The victory is ours.”

While the Brighton duo’s ideas to revolutionise TV may not quite be ready to face the Dragon’s Den panel just yet, what they have had a fair stab at since being catapulted into the public eye back in 2013, at least - is giving their niche of riff-heavy direct hitters a new lease of life. It’s something they’ve proven undeniably adept at, picking up a Number One for their self-titled 2014 debut, a BRIT Award, Mercury Music Prize nomination and the patronage of rock’s top table along the way for proof.


But, with the pair preparing for their forthcoming follow-up, don’t expect Mike and Ben to go pulling a Bono in a bid for next-level success. As you might have already gathered, Royal Blood aren’t really ones for the whole superstar schtick. And while they may have nailed the brooding press shot and are able to cite Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich as “a solid hang out”, the band are taking this whole super-success thing in their stride, having a giggle and keeping it a little bit silly along the way. “We always find the funny side to everything,” shrugs Mike. “You either play the BRIT Awards and think ‘I’m the fucking don.’ Or you think, ‘Well, this is funny. I’m on the BRITs and I’ve only been playing bass for three years. Don’t tell anyone!’ It’s all a bit of a laugh from this point onwards.”

- Ben Thatcher

In the two years that followed, the beast then did a few backflips, set fire to a small town and cocked a leg up at the naysayers just for fun. Whether sitting down to an audience with Jimmy Page or getting invited to the MTV Awards, Royal

Blood had quickly become a Very Big Deal. So Mike and Ben did what any two best mates would do when given the keys to the kingdom – they embraced it for all the ridiculous anecdotes it was worth. “We both get very excited when we’re invited to the wrong party. We don’t belong at these awards shows, but we like being the odd ones out,” chuckles Mike. “Ben was pretty into watercolouring at the time of the BRITs, and he was doing some portraits of the artists and giving them to them. He did a really good watercolour of Kanye West.” Ben nods. “And then I almost knocked Taylor Swift out with a champagne cork,” Mike continues. “I went to her dressing room to say hello because I thought it was funny, and the cork flew off and nearly smashed her in the face. I was

wearing a gold leather jacket. In those moments, you have to ask yourself – who am I?!” And, er, how did Swifty react to that one? “She wrote a song about it – ‘Shake It Off’,” the singer deadpans, with a grin. As the pair reminisce about the ridiculousness of playing the UK pop world’s largest stage (“I suddenly started thinking,” says Mike, “‘I could do anything at this point’. I had this morbid curiosity where I realised that the whole world was watching and I could just pick someone out of the crowd and start yelling at them if I wanted. Or just stand there in silence”), there’s a playful, easy sense of humour that’s clearly integral to keeping this whole machine rolling. For all the cannonball riffs and lofty ambitions (don’t get us wrong, these two are nothing if not ambitious), Royal Blood have got a rep as being a damn sight more serious than they actually are. The reality, however, is a kind of

Mike’s words of wisdom on... Being Famous

“My family are never gonna take me seriously as Mike from Royal Blood. They’re just like, ‘Mike, take the bins out. Text me when you get home’.”

Facial Piercings

“I had my lip pierced and my nose pierced, but when I realised I’d have to dab my face when I dried it I thought, ah fuck that. I love a good vigorous rub.”

Their Next Look

“I’m thinking about white suits next, like a yacht club. I tell you what we’re gonna do: we’re gonna go full Catalina wine mixer.” 39

Mike and Ben hadn’t quite got to grips with the Mexican standoff.


healthily competitive bromance thrust onto a worldwide stage. “All you need to know about me is that I’m a massive show off,” Mike begins. “I’m from a massive family and I was brought up in the culture where all you need is to get everyone’s attention. I’ve done everything from juggling with fire, eating fire, unicycles, magic, piano. I will do anything to impress people and I just ended up being in a band because it’s the ultimate show off job.”

“I will do anything to impress people and I just ended up being in a band because it’s the ultimate show off job.” - Mike Kerr

“That was kind of the same with me, which is why I sit at the front of the stage as well,” laughs Ben. “I just realised,” Mike chips in, “we’re only in a two-piece because we don’t want to distribute the glory any more.” “It’s the least amount of members that we can have.” “Bloody hell,” Mike pauses. “This is like therapy.”

As well as learning a few home truths today (disclaimer: they’ll be fine), the duo also had to spend the last year adjusting into their own skin, taking stock of the mad 24 months that had come before while reassessing their next moves. Having ridden the wave for all it was worth during the touring of ‘Royal Blood’, Mike and Ben then found themselves back in the very abnormal world of normal life. “When you travel all the time, being in one place is pretty bizarre,” Mike says. “I remember 9pm or 10pm most nights having this huge adrenaline rush but not having a show to play. I’d just, I don’t know... aggressively chop vegetables. No, usually I’d call up Ben and say ‘Can we go to Nashville now please?’ And nine times out of ten, he’d say yes.” And so, after a brief sojourn back home to rebuild the whirlwind of memories accrued along the way - “one of the biggest days of your year is usually your birthday, right?” explains Ben, “What did you do on your 23rd birthday? I don’t even remember. But on that day it was brilliant. That’s kind of what the best gigs are like. You can’t pinpoint it, but then when you look back you’re like ‘oh shit!’” - the band took off again. Moving between LA, Nashville and their Brighton home, they then set about writing their second statement: the bigger, bolder, more definitive throb of ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it began with some


“We realised that

our sound is a very sensitive cocktail.� - Mike Kerr


experimentation and false starts. Bound by the selfimposed limitations of being a two-piece, Royal Blood attempted to push their own horizons but found satisfaction in stripping it all right back. “We tried writing with other instruments, fucking around and adding synths and guitars, basically everything. Bongos. We literally tried everything and it capsized the sound,” explains Mike. “We realised that our sound is a very sensitive cocktail. It made us appreciate the DNA of our band and that was then something we cherished and weren’t afraid to own more. It became more about songwriting and less about reinvention.”
 After acknowledging that the essence of their craft should stay the same “We’re minimalists really. We want to boil it down until it’s sticky goo,” says Mike. “We wanna see how little can we do, and how simple can it be” - then Royal Blood set about souping up all those base ingredients to the nth degree, creating the

stickiest, sexiest, most untameable end product they could manage. “I feel like we’ve sharpened the tools of the band,” the singer summarises. As well as spending more time on the lyrical content after admitting that there were a few “stinky” phrases on their debut, the band also allowed themselves the time to live with the record for a few months, “giving the songs time to breathe” and to justify their place on the album. Eventually, by the time they laid the finished entity down with producer Jolyon Thomas, they’d wound up with a second effort that erases any possibility of derailing the bullet train Royal Blood have been on since Day One. All Queens of the Stone Age prowling riffs distilled through a playfully British, sassy prism, iit’s utterly indebted to the sonic alchemy between Mike and Ben, yet even more ridiculously fleshed out and full than before. As ever, the two of them make an unholier noise than most bands twice their number. This summer, meanwhile, they’ll take the record out onto the biggest stages of their careers to date. There’s a huge spot at Glastonbury, nestled among pals Foo Fighters and Biffy Clyro, while across Europe they’ll be commanding some of the most prestigious slots of the summer. Are they ready? “Yes,” they intone immediately and simultaneously. “We’re well ready. We’re not good at a lot, but we’re really good at being in Royal Blood. I feel like we’ve got some more experience under our belts and the time is now,” enthuses Mike. “All I can hear in my head is Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’. That’s how pumped I am.” “We’ve already got it. The victory is ours,” concurs Ben. And with the world at their feet, and Dave Grohl in their phone book, where do Royal Blood go from here? Mike has an idea. “This band is a bit like the boat scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Willy Wonka is rowing the visitors through the tunnel and he’s singing ‘There’s no way of knowing which direction we’re going.’” He’s warming up to the analogy. “Yeah, I’m Mike TV. Who are you Ben? You’re fucking Charlie Bucket, you are. But who’s Willy Wonka though?” He pauses and winks. “Society.”


Think Royal Blood are super famous now? Think again... Mike: To be honest, I never ever get recognised. No one knows what I look like, but Ben is very recognisable. He’s got the Matt Groening theory of having a recognisable silhouette. You know how every Simpsons character has a silhouette that you immediately know? He’s in that club basically, whereas I don’t really have any standout features. I’m just a blob with a wig on, which is why I spend most of my Saturday nights taking pictures of Ben with fans. It’s funny. For a bit. And then that slowly turns to rage.

Steering their ship through a magical wonderland of their own making, Royal Blood are forging ahead into phase two with a twinkle in their eye and an absolutely gargantuan album up their sleeves. “I think we’re lucky because we’re both optimists and any job we’ve had before, we really enjoyed it,” grins Ben. “So to land a job which is actually the best job in the world with your best mate, then it’s never going to go too badly...” Royal Blood’s new album ‘How Did We Get So Dark’ is out 16th June via Warner Bros. DIY


Marika’s cocktail-making skills left a lot to be desired.

Man, I Feel Like A Woman Marik a Hackman has thrown the ultimate curveball . On sardonic, electrif ying

form for ‘I’m Not Your Man’ - with The Big Moon in tow as her trust y backing band - she’s charged with a new confidence, and has one of this year’s best records tucked up her sleeve. Words: El Hunt. Photos: Mike Massaro. Food styling: Olivia Bennett. 44


n a few years, a lot can change. Case in point, Marika Hackman, who is officially through with sun-dappled trees, wild country meadows, gently meandering rivers, floaty metaphorst, and all of the pastoral floweriness of debut ‘We Slept At Last’. Her second record is a drastic departure from all that, binning off lyrical layers for straight talking, and plucked melodies for muscular riffs. It’s honestly difficult to believe that this same musician was once a darling of the folk scene, lauded for her well-mannered, intricately-crafted first record, and the collection of admittedly gran-suitable Christmas covers that came late last year. To quickly summarise, album number two teases out the darker threads of its predecessor, and charges them with superfuel. Along the way, it covers “abstract, weird sex”, slightly less abstract sex, a reference to lesbian cult telly series The L Word, a ton of innuendo, and a wry take-down of creepy men and their unwanted advances. Extremely grungy, unabashedly gay, a tangle of fun, and blatantly written with a sweat-drenched stage in mind, ‘I’m Not Your Man’ also boasts her pals The Big Moon as a backing band. It’s a swerve in direction in every way possible.

I’M NOT YOUR MAN, MAN! Marika talks us through that album title of hers. I felt like it sums up a lot of the themes very blatantly from the record. It’s a bold statement. So much of this is about relationships, and relationships between women, and it’s very sexual, so it could be, I’m not your man, so I can be your woman. Or, I’m not your man so I’m out of this relationship. Or, I’m not your man in this world, I’m out of everything, because this is so depressing. There are songs on there that reflect that. You can take it as a commitment, in a romantic way, or a checking-out. Which I quite like, the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Taking a moment to reflect on it all in a deathly-quiet Deptford boozer - currently playing a dreamy mixture of Natalie Imbruglia and Maroon 5 (“tune,” she remarks in both instances) – Marika Hackman has succeeded in finally shaking off the last traces of that dreaded ‘kooky folk’ label she always

loathed anyway. “Good!” she declares today. “I’m glad about that. I don’t want to be put in any sort of box, really, but certainly not that one. It doesn’t resonate with me in any way at all.” These days, Marika Hackman is filled with an easydetectable confidence. Watching her perform in Austin, Texas, at the city’s SXSW festival earlier this year, she was unrecognisable from her hushed former self, goading the crowds and prowling the stage; visibly deep in her element. Talking through her decision to part ways with old label Dirty Hit (there was “no bad blood or anything, but I had to do what’s right for me,” she says) and navigating musical limbo land alone – before eventually signing to AMF in the UK, and super indie Sub Pop stateside - she’s adamant that she’s made the album she always needed to make. “I think it’s the kind of music I’ve always wanted to play,” she nods. “Once I got out of the doldrums, as it were, I had a really fresh perspective of myself,” she starts. “I felt very liberated and empowered, and I think that’s when the writing really started to pick up. I felt scared,” she not so much admits, as states gleefully. “Fear is a very good driver. If you’re not scared, it means you’re not pushing yourself. And if you’re not pushing yourself you may as well stop, and do something safe for the rest of your life. “There’s no room for modesty,” she says of ‘I’m Not Your Man’. “I know I like it.” It’s easy to see why. An album that sees Marika Hackman playing the part of a seductive lothario sleeping with an unnamed man’s girlfriend when his back’s turned, and hamming it up as a “greedy pig” who’s gonna get her fill, it’s also


a sharply witty dissection of sexuality. On opening gambit ‘Boyfriend’, she takes square aim at an annoyance instantly familiar to almost any LGBT person; the unwanted steaming hot takes of onlooking men. “Even the whooping and stuff like that” she agrees. “It’s really annoying. I think that’s the important thing,” Marika highlights, “it just makes me pissed off, that’s the optimum way to describe it. That’s the vibe of that song, being pissed off, but dealing with it in quite a tongue in cheek, sarcastic way, rather than being really angry and smashing them over the head with it.” On ‘Violet’, meanwhile – the first song she wrote for ‘I’m Not Your Man’ – Marika Hackman depicts sex in fairly unique terms; elephant trunks and bicycle spokes, to be exact. “It felt like an open door in my brain,” she comments. Lyrically, it’s a plainly lust-charged song, paving the way for the rest of the album. “Very, very sexy,” she grins. “Maybe it’s because [‘Violet’ is] kind of bridging that gap [between the debut album and the follow-up] but it’s still got loads of metaphors in it. But they’re sexy metaphors!” But does she ever stop herself to worry about what might happen if her parents should hear her new record and raise an eyebrow? “Nah,” she shrugs nonchalantly. “I’m not arsed about that. My parents are a bit like... ‘do what you gotta do, babe.’ Nah it’s fine, my mum says don’t ever think about us when you’re writing songs. Just let it flow!” Marika proclaims. “I love singing that song,” she beams. “It’s mainly a confidence thing,” she ponders. “Feeling quite brave and empowered, which I was last year. I think that’s why those lyrics came out the way they did.” Despite all of this album’s potential obstacles – being totally fucking bonkers and vastly removed from all she’s done before being the main possible challenges that spring to mind – the whole process felt very easy, Marika says. Her go-to producer Charlie Andrew, while initially surprised, quickly got on board with Marika v2. And in fact, the only dispute revealed itself in the background of ‘My Lover Cindy’ – a stand-out track which takes its name from a minor character named Cindi in The L Word.


Last year, Marika Hackman made DIY a firm promise. In honour of that one time we forced her to play a variety of songs on a single maraca (anything for a rubbish pun!) she vowed that ‘I’m Not Your Man’ would include at least one maraca. But does it..? “You know what, I did promise you that there would be, but there aren’t. There are shakers, and I guess a maraca is a kind of shaker? I could’ve just put one hit on there, but honestly I kind of forgot, and realised afterwards. I did actually feel really bad about that. I’m really sorry. The next one, it’ll only be maracas. Maracas and vocals.”


“There is only one My Lover Cindi,” Marika starts, paying her respects. “But it was also a little in-joke with me and my girlfriend [Amber Bain, aka The Japanese House]. She’s actually really angry with me about it,” she laughs. ‘We were going to start a side project called My Lover Cindy. We were watching The L Word, and we were like, ‘that’s such a good name for a band!’ I wrote that song for our band, and she had another one that she’d written, and we both got really busy and there was no time to do it. I sent it over to my management, and they were like, this is great, you should put it on the record. Amber

was like, ‘what the fuck, now I can’t use that!’” she recounts. “‘You’ve taken it, and it was a joint idea!’ I owe her one for that,” Marika concedes. “Or, she’ll just release a song called ‘My Lover Cindy’ too. Or Dawn Denbo,” she quips, referencing Cindi’s wife in The L Word. “That would be ideal.” Looking ahead, Marika Hackman’s raring to get back on stage, and though she won’t be linking up with The Big Moon for every show (they’re a busy bunch, too, after all) she’ll be springing the odd surprise reunion. “I want the fun thing to translate from the stage into the crowd,” she says. “My only fear now is that with some of the live shows people might expect something similar to how it used to be...” she says, though you sense she could’ve give a toss about any detractors. “Sorry guys,” she concludes, not sounding all that apologetic. “I’m always gonna be changing.” Marika Hackman’s new album ‘I’m Not Your Man’ is out 2nd June via AMF. DIY

‘How do you like your eggs in the morning?’

There's no room for modesty.” 47





Words: Rhian Daly. Photos: Phil Smithies.


oss has always been a driving force behind Jack Antonoff’s music. On Bleachers’ debut ‘Strange Desire’, he wrote gigantic pop songs shot through with the human existence’s darkest emotions. Breakthrough track ‘I Wanna Get Better’, for instance, may sound fun enough, bouncing along on an erratic piano line. Its lyrics, though, detail his life as an 18-year-old struggling with the death of his sister. Three years later, Jack is still motivated by that same feeling. Except this time he’s coming at it from a different angle. Second album ‘Gone Now’ - an album full of the sort of depth and inventive spirit that should see him quickly outgrow his cult status - is far more universal, and less introspective than his past writing. It still centres around his personal experience, and holds plenty of stories from his life, but this time Jack’s striven to invite the rest of the world into the Bleachers bubble, too. Nowhere is that more obvious than on ‘Everybody Lost Somebody’. Described by its creator as “the heart and soul of the album”, it’s a breezy, expansive piece full of horns and a sense of happiness that’s at odds with what the song is really about. “I had a moment early on when I was writing this album,”


Jack says, fidgeting in his seat backstage at New York’s Webster Hall, where in a few hours he’ll debut the song live. “I was out on the street in New York and I was thinking that everybody has these massive stories. Everyone has a great loss. Whether you’ve seen the worst tragedy in your family, or your partner left you - whatever it is - that’s the sludge that we all push through in life. It’s not what we lost, it’s more who we lost.” Instead of dwelling on the bad times, though, his new approach is to turn them into celebrations. His music certainly lends itself to that - big, vibrant, full of life. It’s a shift in attitude that has made revisiting the stories that he sings about nightly easier, and will likely have a similar effect on those in his audiences; a catharsis designed to unite everyone in the room. “I was looking back on ‘I Wanna Get Better’ and it was such a sad song,” he admits. “It’s so heartbreaking for me, telling all the darkest stories of my life. Then I remembered, at some point, there was a shift when it turned into this big celebration. Maybe record writing and making is a solitary, painful process and touring is to get together with people you have something in common with?” Jack wonders. He adjusts his cap and squints through his glasses with a wry smile. “In some ways, the darker the song, the more thrilling it is when you get to come together and celebrate it.” ‘Gone Now’ isn’t all sorrow set to soaring melodies, mind. It opens on ‘Dream Of Mickey Mantle’, a rose-tinted slow build that fixates around the death of the Yankees baseball star. “That was the first horrible thing I can remember before I’d experienced horrible stuff in my life,” Jack says. “Everyone has this thunder moment in their life,” he expands today, “this line in the sand” where the innocence of childhood is tainted by tragedy. “It’s like a prequel to all this sadness I’m talking about,” he adds. ‘Good Morning’, which follows immediately afterwards, is the hazy, slow awakening from that dream. Vocals and instruments pan abruptly left to right and back again, intended to produce a disjointed feeling that reflects that moment when you wake, but are still suspended between sleep and consciousness. It’s all driven by regal piano chords, sounding like something that the Jack Antonoff on Bleachers album’s cover, dressed in majestic fineries, would be very familiar with. What of that artwork, anyway? “I’m dead,” Jack replies deadpan, looking ever so slightly scruffier today. “Not in a bad way, not in a morbid way,” he adds hurriedly. “You get to a certain age - or maybe it’s the time in the world - but you start thinking about everything you want to accomplish before you’re out of time. This album was a big part


of that.”

JACK OF ALL TRADES Bleachers isn’t the only thing keeping Jack busy right now... A book about record stores Described as a “giant zine”, Antonoff is currently piecing together a book about record store culture, featuring essays and photos from a “whole big cast of people”. He’s tightlipped on just who’s involved, but promises hours of reading material. ‘Melodrama’ Antonoff co-wrote and coproduced Lorde’s second album, out this month. In The Shadow Of The City Antonoff’s New Jersey festival will be returning for a third year this summer with details TBA soon. “That’s a very important thing to me,” he says. “That’s a culture I’m not giving up on.” Figuring out film ideas Around ‘Strange Desire’, the musician dabbled in film with a mini series called Thank You And Sorry. “There’s more of that story for me to tell,” he says, adding that he hates the way music is portrayed in film as “heroin and craziness” and wants to find a way to show the real beauty in his own film project. Top secret recording projects “There’s a lot of things I’d love to tell you about, but… soon,” he says shaking his head. “I like to stay busy, run away from my thoughts.”

Don’t fear, though - “dead” Jack isn’t a sign that this is the death of Bleachers, although he’s noncommittal on what the future for the project is. “Everything I do is one thing at a time,” he reasons. “I don’t have much of a big plan for stuff, I just have big plans for specific moments.” He’s well known for his work with other artists. In the past he’s written with Taylor Swift, Grimes, Carly Rae Jepsen (who guests on ‘Hate That You Know Me’) and Sia, to name just a few. While making ‘Gone Now’, he was working simultaneously on Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’, and ended up getting lead single ‘Don’t Take The Money’ out of those sessions. Working with other people, he says, can be better than the “torturous, stressful” sessions he spends working alone on his own music. “It’s more like one of those games where you’re with another person and you have to find a way out of the room,” he explains. “It’s the same struggles, but you’re not alone, which is inherently different and potentially a little safer in a way.” Despite how he describes his creative process, you can’t fault Jack’s dedication to his craft. Although he says he never questions why he’s making music, he often asks himself “is it healthy to do it this way?” Ultimately, though, that thought process is detrimental to what he’s trying to do. “If you start to consider your body, your mind and your sanity too much, somewhere you get compromised,” he shrugs. “So you really have to give yourself to it and I think that’s very fair if you’re asking people to buy the record and come to the shows. It’s the least you can do. People can tell if they’re getting a version of everything you have versus everything you have.” Later that evening, as the East Village’s streets get doused with a healthy dose of rain, 400 fans cram into The Studio at Webster Hall to see Bleachers give his all. Jack doesn’t disappoint, infusing his songs with the same emotional pull and conviction as they possess on record. As ‘Don’t Take The Money’ closes things out for the night, every word sung back at him, Jack’s smile grows into an unstoppable grin. It feels simultaneously simple and like the celebration of the century. Sweat drips down fans’ faces, hundreds of arms flail triumphantly in the air, and one man darts to the front of the room to whip free t-shirts out across the crowd. As it turns out, the real life manifestation of the plans in Jack Antonoff’s head is infectious and euphoric. It’s also something only bound to grow as the world rightly falls in love with Bleachers’ next chapter. Bleachers’ new album ‘Gone Now’ is out 2nd June via Columbia. DIY

“People can tell if they’re getting

a version of everything you have versus

everything you have.”


Christian Mazzalai and Deck d’Arcy talk going with the flow and breaking musical taboos. Words: Eugenie Johnson.


hen a phoenix rises, it’s created from the ashes, born of destruction. Though Phoenix themselves had already begun recording before that one fateful, devastating night in November 2015, it would - unsurprisingly - go on to colour the way they now see their newest album. Guitarist Christian Mazzalai was stranded in the studio when the attacks on the Stade De France and the Bataclan took place in Paris. The chaos of that night, combined with the ensuing rise in altright sentiment, struck a real contrast against the positive, danceable music the band were making. “We felt guilty about producing such optimistic and life-affirming music,” he admits. Those feelings of guilt soon subsided though, the band realising that the course they’d set themselves on for their new record could be a force for good. “We decided we wanted to totally embrace it, that it might be a healing process,” bassist Deck d’Arcy explains. “It’s a way to celebrate life against pretty dark times.” “That delight provides the ideal refuge from the surrounding deluge,” adds Christian. Indeed, just hearing them chat casually and cheerfully about the inception of the record - finishing off each other’s sentences, quietly muttering in French to each other to ask about English translations - you might never know ‘Ti Amo’ had such a dark backdrop. But don’t expect their sixth album to directly address these turbulent times. Phoenix have never really been known for getting political, Deck freely admitting that “we don’t directly react to what’s happening around us, at least not consciously,” preferring to keep things a bit more positive. Instead, it’s probably Phoenix’s most unapologetically romantic album to date, peppered with mid-tempo ballads, Thomas Mars’ typically tongue-twisting lyrics about love and an almost relentlessly positive tone. Although the small handful of conventions that flow through most of the band’s work are present, for this album nothing was set in stone. There was only one aim when starting work on ‘Ti Amo’: they wanted to get as far



are headed to the neon-lit disco.


On sixth album ‘Ti Amo’, Phoenix

away from the angular, knotty territory they were in on ‘Bankrupt!’ as possible. With the phenomenal success of both ‘Bankrupt!’ and ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’ before it though, did they feel like crumbling under the pressure to live up to expectations? “Yes, obviously!” Deck says, completely stony-faced, before bursting into laughter. “No, I’m joking!” “The only time we had pressure was for our second album [‘Alphabetical’],” says Christian. “If we think about the outside world we’re not in a good artistic position.” They’re much happier improvising, just seeing what comes to them, Deck explaining that most of the time “we just follow our instincts!” So they ripped it up and started again, entering the studio with a completely blank slate, beginning to improvise and whip up ideas for the new record on the fly. They performed tests “like scientists” and gradually built upon their daily experimentations. And while the band loved those initial stages, and the freedom that came with them, at some point they had to consider the structure of the tracks themselves. “It was a real challenge,” Deck assures, “because we like classic songs and we like a good tune.” “We like to keep the innocence of the first steps - the initial idea - and that’s the whole challenge of making an album, trying to keep that freshness,” he explains. Christian chimes in, almost mystically. “It’s like a butterfly!” Phoenix have always been shapeshifters, bending into different forms and emerging anew from various genre cocoons while at their heart still sounding unmistakably like, well, Phoenix. Each of their records is distinctive, and the opening track is usually a good indication of where they’re headed. For ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’ it was the jittery guitar refrain of ‘Lisztomania’, while for ‘Bankrupt!’ it

“There can still

be a mystery.” Deck d’Arcy

Breakfast was always an unusual affair in the Phoenix household.


was the euphoric, pounding and heavy hook of ‘Entertainment’. ‘Ti Amo’ is no different, with the shimmering, Italo disco-inspired synths of ‘J-Boy’ inviting the listener down to the neon-lit club. But listening to ‘Ti Amo,’ it’s impossible not to ask one question: how on earth did they come to make Italo disco its musical foundation in the first place? Well, technically they didn’t. “It came to us,” says Christian. They found themselves diving head-first into a world of danceable grooves, upbeat melodies and soaring pop hooks, all driven by those melodic, disco-inspired synths that evoke the luxurious glamour of Federico Fellini films through a futuristic, sci-fi lens. “We could relate to our Latin European roots,” Christian says of the new direction. “It was like our Italian summer.” It’s vintage, charming, and very danceable (just don’t pull shapes too well; Deck thinks that good dancing is “suspicious”). Italo disco isn’t exactly conventionally “cool” though. Reaching its peak in the 80s, the genre faded in the early ‘90s - with the odd artist harking back since - but Deck and Christian don’t give a damn about that. Bearing a love for strange complexities in the lyrics, a parallel to their own poetic, often veiled words - they like to “keep something mysterious and poetic enough so that you can have room for interpretation,” Deck explains. They’re also fans of the “hedonistic” and freeing nature of the sound. Phoenix have never been shy breaking down barriers and delving into some forgotten realms; after all, with debut album ‘United’ they threw punk, soul, and funk together into a singular, smooth melting pot. At the same time, they’ve also put their own polished, contemporary spin on it all. While ‘Ti



Phoenix are like brothers in arms, clicking into each other’s ideas with ease. That doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes have their disagreements, especially when trying to achieve perfection. “We spend a lot of time arguing about little details that probably no one will hear!” Deck laughs, Christian adamant that “it’s very important.” So what was the bone of contention on ‘Ti Amo’ then? “The length of the snare sound on ‘J-Boy’!” Deck says. “It was the last thing that we did for the mix of this album and we had an argument about that!”

Amo’ nods to the genre that influenced it and the band have created something that echoes the past, it still feels thoroughly contemporary and timeless. The title track of ‘Ti Amo’ sees Thomas referencing the Buzzcocks and “switching unsophisticated soft rock to Beethoven’s concerto”, something of a particularly apt analogy for the way the band themselves keep lending a sophisticated twist to a range of genres, even if they haven’t made a full-on classicial album. Yet. Christian and Deck revel in the idea that they might be breaking musical prohibition. They’re even more enthused than usual when they start talking about delving into unconventional sounds. Deck delights in the fact that back in 2000, “soft rock was forbidden,” Christian adoring “the danger when we used the saxophone. There are many, many taboos in rock music and we like to destroy taboos!” “It’s part of our DNA,” Deck explains. He puts their magpie attitude purely down to good timing. “We grew up in the ‘80s, and at the same time as these sounds there was Pixies, My Bloody Valentine or Michael Jackson. We can’t help it, we grew up in that era. We were born in the late ‘70s!” The band aren’t ones to dwell too much on the past, though. However much they love the sound they’ve crafted on ‘Ti Amo’, they’re likely to shoot off in another direction for album seven. After more than two decades they’re still anxious to try new things, and even continue to astound each other with new ideas. “There can still be a mystery,” Deck says, “sometimes there are surprises even after a long time.” Phoenix’s new album ‘Ti Amo’ is out 9th June via Glassnote. DIY

Travel to Dour Festival (Belgium) by bus with Big Green Coach ! Infos & Tickets :

Adam Beyer, AmenRa, Apollonia, BAZART, The Black Madonna, Blonde Redhead, Carl Craig presents Versus Synthesizer Ensemble, Chase & Status dj set & Rage, Crystal Castles, De La Soul + live band, Die Antwoord, Dixon, Dubfire, Earl Sweatshirt, French Montana, & Roots Radics, Grandaddy, Israël Vibration Jon Hopkins dj set, Justice, Kaaris & Kalash Criminel, Kaytranada, Kölsch dj set, Larry Heard aka Mr Fingers Live, M.I.A, Manudigital + Beenie Man, Metronomy, Naâman, NAS, Nina Kraviz, Noisia ‘Outer Edges’, Pendulum dj set & Verse, Phoenix, PNL, Popcaan, Pusha T, Rone live, Russ, SCH, Shobaleader One, Sleaford Mods, Solange, Solomun, Stand High Patrol, Tale Of Us, Talib Kweli & The Soul Rebels, Tchami, The Kills, The Strypes, The Underachievers, Todd Terje, Trentemøller, Two Door Cinema Club, Vald, Vitalic ODC live, Wax Tailor, Wilkinson live, Young Fathers, and many more ...


XOXO For almost two decades, Beth Ditto has been synonymous with her trailblazing punk band Gossip. Now, with ‘Fake Sugar’ she’s striking out alone, in pursuit of making the uncool cool. Words: El Hunt.




t’s no overstatement to claim that Gossip - for all the weirdo kids of the noughties that struggled to fit into society’s pre-prescribed moulds – weren’t just another punk band. All three members hailed from the same Southern city of Searcy, Arkansas, and spent the majority of their teenage years trying to draft an escape plan - a scenario surely familiar to anybody who grew up in a small town with little room for rebellion. Fleeing to the rainier climes of Olympia, Washington, they’d become a vital force; non-conforming trailblazers who were ludicrously camp, bold, brash, and completely unconcerned with sticking out like a sore thumb. During the best years of Gossip, ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ soundtracked late nights of watching Skins’ raunchiest moments on mute (with a finger poised by the remote, in case a family member walked in, obviously) and slung an extended middle finger in George W. Bush’s direction at the same time. Over the course of five albums, Gossip morphed gradually from freak outliers to a mainstream force; teaming up with Rick Rubin and pop magic workers Xenomania for their final album in just one of their curveballs. Beth

“Pack a lunch this is gonna be a long story...”

“Beth didn’t start the fire, it was always burning etc etc...”

Ditto, meanwhile became a cultural icon in her own right, pissing off and delighting people in more or less equal measure. And though all things must eventually come to a close, it came as a surprise when Gossip disbanded. A year on from

their split, with solo album ‘Fake Sugar’ ready to deploy, Beth Ditto is still getting used to referring to herself in the first person. “Pack a lunch,” she hoots. “This is gonna be a long story....” Everything, it must be said, is a long story when it comes to a conversation with Beth Ditto. Liable to veer off on bizarre tangents at a second’s notice, she asks nearly as many questions as she answers, too. At one point, she suggests a segue into U2-based roleplay; “I’ll be Bono. You be The Edge,” she orders, only half-joking. Reminiscing about her first ever trip to SXSW, meanwhile, prompts her to suggest several not entirely truthful edits for this very feature – halfway through completing a totally unrelated sentence. “I just had a nostalgic moment,” Beth proclaims. “What if I just started bawling, and made you hold me? ‘And then she cried herself to sleep,’” she helpfully suggests as a possible sentence. “‘And then my arm went to sleep. I was trapped under her for an hour.’ That would be so amazing,” she cackles. “Feel free to lie about that. Feel free to... embellish. Go right ahead.” It’s no surprise, then, that debut solo album ‘Fake Sugar’ is equally as bonkers. Veering between the Journey-level ridiculousness of belter ‘We Could Run,’ to the chipper call-andresponse vocals of the poser-baiting ‘Savoir Faire’, her debut’s reference points range from Paul Simon, ABBA and niche Southern slang, right through to Gary Jules and “leather-daddies”. There’s very little playing it safe, here. And in all honesty, ‘Fake Sugar’ is a little bit... how best to word this... “It’s very rare that you’ll offend me,” interrupts Beth Ditto, wafting a dismissive


arm to indicate that she’s given the go-ahead. Erm, uncool? “And that is exactly the point!” she yells, delighted. “I did not wanna make a cool record. That was the thing. I always call it a riot grrrl proverb, but it was a slogan, dork equals cool. That changed my fucking life,” Beth smiles. “That’s it. Ugly equals beautiful, wrong means right. I wanted to make [this album] so far behind it was ahead, full circle. Just not giving a shit anymore, and it was just so fun to do.” Having split from Gossip, Beth’s quick to admit that setting out alone has been difficult. The band’s break-up, she adds, is still “really fresh.” “The thing is,” Beth starts, “Nathan [Howdeshell, her former Gossip bandmate] moved back to Arkansas. That was a shock to my system,” she admits. “We spent so much time trying to get out of there! We couldn’t fucking wait, and we really undid all of this bullshit we’d been put through. When he moved back, he became born again,” Beth continues. “I’m not hateful, but [he became] just very Christian. It was really difficult for me. Not because I’m not openminded, but some of the conversations we had were just really sad. My family still lives there, and when I would go visit, we would try to write together and stuff, but it was like we were reworking the same four songs.” “It’s not that thing where you’re like, you know what? I’m going to do it myself,” she explains, adopting a theatrical boom. “It wasn’t like that, it was more like, if [the band] isn’t going somewhere, I need to do something else. Because I was bored.” she states. “So yeah, I just called Nathan, and I said, I think I’m done.


“WHAT WAS THE QUESTION, AGAIN?” Beth Ditto’s got a bit of a recurring problem; she always forgets she’s in the middle of interviews. Here are some of her most ridiculous out of context quotes from her natter with DIY... “I always forget about interviews! I have a real problem. I’m just like, I’m here making friends!” “Oh, honey, jetlag! Do you ever think, when people talk about jetlag, oh, who cares?” “Just sit here and be U2! You too? Me also. We’re in a band now. I’m sorry. What were you going say? What about an interview?” “London, Paris, LA, Austin, Germany. Germany, honey. You know what they call it there, honey? Deutschland!” “You should always say hello to people, because that’s the right thing to do. Don’t be a dickhead! Anyway, what were we talking about..?”

It’s very

rare that you’ll offend me.”

That’s why it was the right time. I had been working on this [‘Fake Sugar’] anyway. There was no decision. I was just like, why am I beating myself up for not writing a good Gossip song, if the Gossip’s not here?” she ponders, going quiet. Suddenly a muffled sneeze breaks the rare moment of hush. “Bless you!” Beth shouts at her sheepishlooking PR, sat across the room. “Just be quieter next time,” she advises, trying not to crack a smile. “Yeah, thanks for ruining it.” Despite Beth Ditto’s notentirely-positive relationship with her home, ‘Fake Sugar’ remains jam-packed full of Southern influences, from honky-tonk, to the barnstorming cowboy brawl at the centre of the video for ‘Fire’. Her family also feature heavily on the record; her late grandmother given special credit for turning Beth into a firecracker. “I never met her,” she says today. “She used to say she was a real redhead, honey, cos she had a snatch to match,” Beth laughs. Beth has increasingly started to embrace aspects of the South (“like, the good parts of the South,” she footnotes) and is also adamant that both Gossip and her solo project going forward wouldn’t be the same without it. “For one, it took so little to freak people out,” she reflects. “There’s not a lot of exposure to bigger scenes in the world, so you had to just make it up. You think ‘this is how to be a band,’ so you try to replicate it, and it becomes its own weird thing, and it’s so cool. I think that’s the thing, about the South. There’s more fear in a way,” she concludes. “You really had to get a thick skin really soon. You’re not afraid to take risks.” Beth Ditto’s debut album ‘Fake Sugar’ is out 16th June via Virgin EMI. DIY


p X U



l o o k s h a r p

On debut album ‘The Age Of Anxiety’, Hannah Rodgers tries to make sense of her turbulent childhood, and creates something universal in the process. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Phil Smithies.


ne time, I was really drunk on a train home late at night, and a man just came up to me, handed me £200 in cash, and walked off,” Hannah Rodgers remembers, musing about the frantic, disconnected interactions we experience daily on public transport. “He said ‘you’ll spend it in a better way than I would!’” she laughs, her expression suggesting far less responsible intentions. “I love being on a really packed train. Everyone’s so intent on looking down into their phones with steely expressions and I’m just like “Haaaah! You’re stuck with me now!”. This attitude might sound at odds with Pixx’s debut album ‘The Age Of Anxiety’, a record fuelled by memories of childhood insomnia and isolation, but the album, which follows 2015’s ‘Fall In’ EP, presents a genuine desire for connection in the often cold, dark world she finds herself in as a 21 year-old.

When people listen to my album they’re gonna be like ‘what the fuck!’”

Today, though, Pixx is in the idyllic, sunny surroundings of Kew Gardens, one of her favourite places in London, less than a month away from the album’s release. “You can so easily spend all day here, there’s so much to see!” she exclaims, striding towards a huge, inexplicable manmade beehive. 61


Just back from a huge jaunt across Europe in support of Austra, and free from the swarms of schoolchildren on Kew’s treetop walkway, Hannah’s found a new lease of life recently. “I was never really into drama and theatre,” she begins, “but over the past year or so, I’ve been trying to portray a dramatised version of myself on stage.” Being part of a new live band, with her keyboard player joining at the start of the year, along with a live drummer, has really opened things up for her. “Pixx can allow me to be a different person for an hour a night. Sometimes I’m writing songs and won’t really know what they’re saying for a while, then look back and finally realise what I was trying to get across. It’s like Pixx can tell me things that I couldn’t tell myself.”

struggling through the last few years, it’s interesting now to look back and see that, lyrically, I was trying to use the music as an outlet even if I didn’t even realise myself.”

‘The Age Of Anxiety’ is a deep, complex record that switches states constantly. It reflects both Hannah’s childhood and the pervasive spread of anxiety that’s all too present for many in 2017, especially among those of a similar age. Across the whole record, there’s a constant battle, fighting internal and external pressures. The former are particularly close to home for Pixx, who spent large amounts of her childhood battling insomnia. “It’s definitely an album about mental health, dream states and that confusion that can whirl around in your head sometimes,” she says, and from the brooding battle-cry of opener ‘I Bow Down’ to the floaty yet addictive ‘Grip’, the record takes many shapes, and though there’s little continuity, it’s reflective of an

Following on from 2015’s ‘Fall In’ EP, her debut marks a shift in her songwriting, and a desire to connect on a larger, different level. “My EP was very much love songs - you know, a ‘heartbreak, aaaah, been through a grim relationship’ vibe and a year later I realised that there is way more to talk about. I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t too internal.” Despite the album actually being extremely inward-focused - the 12-track record basically serves as a rummage around inside Hannah’s brain - there’s far more here to connect to than maybe even she herself realises.

ever-changing mental state.

According to Hannah, ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ serves as a stream of consciousness that, on a second look, has actually become far more universal than its origins would suggest. “Sometimes I’d write a song and then a producer would say ‘what on earth is this song about?’ and I’d think, well actually I don’t know. Then a few days later I’d read them back and realise what I was getting at. Like a message to myself, and hopefully to other people in a like-minded place.”

“It’s like Pixx can tell me things that I couldn’t tell myself.”

“I went through some real weird phases of not being able to sleep when I was a child, or ever feel like I was present in the moment. I could literally be somewhere and not feel like I was there, and like I was watching myself from above. It was hard to write about, and hard to ever put down in words, but I had to do it because there’s so many people who experience the same thing, and it’s something you have to try and not be afraid of, something you need to realise that you can get away from.”

“I always talk about how it’s a fucking hard time to be growing up in a society that’s run by social media, and this weird expectation to be flawless and really cool,” Hannah says. “I think a lot of the time, I was writing songs that were literally bleeding out of my subconscious. The last track on the album [‘Mood Ring Eyes’], I put it there to leave it on a good note. When I was

BACK OF THE NET Before she became Pixx, Hannah spent her Sundays out on the pitch, as she explains... “I always went to watch my brother play football every Sunday, and one day I was about 9, and I said ‘I wanna be in a football team! Fuck this!’, so I started up a girls’ football team with all my friends. We were called AFC Walcountians!” The Big Moon actually have their own football team! “Oh, I’ve heard about this! I should join! I’m pretty fast.”

That’s something glimpsed in highlight ‘Waterslides’, where she sings “Don’t follow me into my dreams, you don’t belong here / but if you try to sneak on in, you might be stuck too.” At times, the album feels like a battle between wanting to ward everyone off, and trying to explain and relate her anxiety. And lyrically, while ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ is one of a kind, musically it sees Pixx completely open to heading down whichever path she chooses from here on. “I think a lot of artists force themselves into a corner by trying to fit into a certain bracket, to try and make it easier for people to relate to them,” she begins, determined not to be pigeonholed, “but I just feel like, when people listen to my album they’re gonna be like ‘what the fuck!’. I just did it because there’s so much music I love. I’m not gonna pin myself to one thing.”

Unsurprisingly, the record’s far from simple - in fact, it’s about as messy and at times inexplicable as the feelings and experiences that bled into its songwriting - but it’s a brave, honest account. “Some of the album started to become really sarcastic,” Hannah states, “like I was mocking myself in order to be able to deal with these feelings. But then, I started to realise that, even though it’s such a personal album, it could relate to more than just me. From then on, I felt a duty to be as brutally honest as possible.” Pixx’s debut album ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ is out 2nd June via 4AD. DIY





Witty, sexy, confident, and


arika Hackman’s two albums to date couldn’t be more different if they joined opposite teams in a battle pitting chalk against cheese. While ‘We Slept At Last’ was an intricately crafted journey in shadowy folk and pastoral imagery, the follow-up sees thought playing second fiddle to bold impulse. It’s deliberately littered with muttered asides, accidental messups, and the occasional studio fuck-up, for one. Fern Ford - stick-wielder for The Big Moon, and drummer on ‘I’m Not Your Man’ - even scoffs “that was a terrible take” at the end of


one track. Throwing off the cloak of metaphor, and tackling sexuality, flaky behaviour, overpowering lust, desire, and confusion with a sharp, acerbic tongue, this is also the sort of album lesbian poet Sappho might’ve made if she’d been born a few millennia later, and fronted the Breeders. A fair majority of ‘I’m Not Your Man’ sees Marika Hackman amping up the raw feelings that clearly inspire her writing, and then embellishing for comedic effect. “Do you prefer her bed?” she challenges atop ‘So Long’’s pulsing bass-line. Far from being a jilted dumpee, Marika (or rather Marika’s Shanefrom-The-L-Word type alter-ego) is pissed off, but also content



There’s a fair bit of sexy talk on Marika’s new album. Jilly Cooper would be proud, and so would Morrissey, who famously won the Bad Sex Award for his novel ‘List of the Loss’. The question is, can you pick out the Maz from the Moz? It might be harder than you think (no sniggering at the back).

“Giggling snowball of full-figured copulation.” “I’d like to roll around your tongue, caught like a bicycle spoke.” “I’m a fucking pig, I’m gonna get my fill”

“The pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation.” “Some throbbing howl, eat me alive.”

charged with energy. with being right; “I’ll keep you in my bed tonight,” she adds for good measure. Initial jaw-drop moment ‘Boyfriend,’ meanwhile sees Marika having it off with somebody while their boyfriend’s back is turned. “It’s fine ‘cos I am just a girl, it doesn’t count!” she simpers mockingly, taking aim at heteronormative bullshit in the process. And on ‘My Lover Cindy,’ when she declares “I’m a lousy lover, even if I try” (backed by a chorus provided by a gleeful The Big Moon) bets are on everyone grinning away as she sings it. Musically, too, this is a looser, less precious prospect than her debut, and though hints of those starting roots remain - in the sinisterly humming strings of ‘Round We Go,’ or the hushed first moments and surrealist metaphors of ‘Violet’ - things quickly transform, and head down an untrodden path. Witty, sexy, confident, and charged with live energy, ‘I’m Not Your Man’ is the sound of Marika Hackman making the album she always needed to make. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Violet’, ‘So Long’, ‘Boyfriend’

TRACKLISTING: Boyfriend Good Intentions Gina’s World My Lover Cindy Round We Go Violet Cigaret te Time’s Been Reckless Apple Tree So Long Eastbound Train Blahblahblah I’d Rather Be With Them

Answers: 1 Morrissey, 2 Marika, 3 Marika, 4 Morrissey, 5 Marika 65


PARAMORE After Laughter (Fueled By Ramen)

It’s no secret that ‘After Laughter’ is an album informed by hurt. Even its title finds itself nodding towards the sadder moments in life. What’s important to realise though, is that this isn’t a record defined by it. Therein lies its greatest power. For the most part, the path that Paramore have tread over the past fifteen years has been an incredibly uncertain one. With every record, they’ve found themselves reaching a new dizzying high before having another hurdle thrown their way; with the release of their latest record, it’s clear they’ve reached their limit. But where most bands might’ve crumbled, Paramore have risen from the ashes – in many ways, a new band entirely - and, in turn, produced their most iconic album yet. Back in 2013, their self-titled fourth album saw the band delving deep down into the pop rabbit hole, but it’s on ‘After Laughter’ that they’ve fully mastered the genre. From the Cyndi Lauper-inspired bop of ‘RoseColored Boy’ through to the breezy gorgeousness of ‘Grudges’, these songs are brilliantly bold and brave, unafraid to grin defiantly in the face of the pain that inspired them. While Paramore’s journey to this point has been anything but smooth, ‘After Laughter’ can – and, as ‘Tell Me How’ reaches its reflective conclusion, does - at least provide some well-earned catharsis. An album that’s ultimately OK with not being OK, it’s for that reason alone that it may just be perfect. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Told You So’, ‘Pool’, ‘Idle Worship’


‘After Laughter’ isn’t just musically brilliant: the album as a whole feels like Paramore’s most cohesive output in years. Hayley Williams explains… “Our manager walked up to me at the ‘Hard Times’ video shoot and he looked at us like he’s so proud and happy for us, that we’ve gotten to do all of this and we’re at this place together. He said to me, ‘I haven’t seen anything like this with you guys since ‘Riot!’ and you guys are so much older, and this seems a thousand times more you and it feels right.’ [The album] has such an identity. That was not something we were going after. It’s just what happens when you decide, for once in your life, to be really sure of what you want and you have friends who love you, and they get involved in their own way too. You just make something with its own face.”



Relaxer (Infectious)

Almost exactly midway through ‘Relaxer’, at the culmination of primal, yelping highlight ‘Hit Me Like That Snare’, the instrumentation cuts out, leaving the three members of alt-J chanting its repeated final refrain: “Fuck you / I’ll do what I wanna do”. Not just a defiant call to arms, it feels like the motto the band have quietly been muttering their entire careers. And on album three, they’re on even more singular form than ever. If a modern band of their festival-headlining size have pulled as ballsy and weird a move as opener ‘3WW’ in recent years, we’re yet

to hear it. With the world’s ears awaiting their return, the trio opt to open their third record with a track seemingly lifted straight out of the 18th Century. The first voice we hear on the record isn’t singer Joe Newman, but keyboardist Gus UngerHamilton, intoning about “a wayward lad” like a feathercapped minstrel telling us tales of yore. All he’s missing is a lute. By the time we reach the Marika Hackman-featuring lullaby of ‘Last Year’ and the tumultuous, theatrical crescendo of ‘Pleader’, alt-J have covered more bases in eight songs that most could do in an entire ‘Best Of’. On ‘Relaxer’, alt-J sound utterly, wonderfully like no one but themselves. If there’s a slew of imitators (comedic or otherwise) reaching for a piece of the pie, it’s only because the trio have crafted possibly the most strangely original niche in modern music. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘In Cold Blood’, ‘Hit Me Like That Snare’

Lol-a-minute lads alt-J were having a hoot at the photoshoot.



How Did We Get So Dark?

(Warner Bros.)

Fresh from bagging BRITs and walking red carpets across the world, it’s safe to say that, thanks to their debut album, Royal Blood found themselves in places they’d never have imagined. And while it’d be easy to half-expect the Worthing duo to have developed a taste for the finer life, it seems that no amount of high profile parties was going to get in the way of the band creating a deliciously dark second album. Much like its self-titled predecessor, ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ is one hell of a beast; but while their first outing had as much subtlety as a whack around the face, this time they’ve borne a more considered - but sinister - creature. ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ is a snotty swagger of a track, while ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ thrashes into life. But it’s the record’s title number that’s truly humongous – all layered vocals and dominating guitars - providing the perfect introduction to an album that will undoubtedly see Royal Blood going stratospheric. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Lights Out’, ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’





The Age of Anxiety (4AD)

On Hannah Rodgers’ debut release as Pixx, 2015 EP ‘Fall In’, she cut a forlorn figure, weary at heart and introspective. Straight off the bat, calling her album ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ indicated that this new collection would turn the focus outwards. It does - straight from opener and standout track ‘I Bow Down’. Razor sharp and brooding, it’s the curtain raiser for an album that perfectly contrasts light and dark. ‘Waterslides’, meanwhile, epitomises ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ itself. Hannah’s vocals are quick and skittish, the singer trying to keep up with her own thoughts, set against the brightest, poppiest music of the whole record. “Everyone is in a rush to have some fun, but times are tough”, she continues on ‘Waterslides’, and it’s not hard to see how ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ was forged out of memories of childhood insomnia; it’s an album that belongs in dark, difficult places and endless sleep-deprived nights. Through these internal battles though, Pixx has created a debut record that shows her to be a fascinating prospect, and though significant turmoil informed the record, the pay-off is equally as great. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Waterslides’, ‘Everything Is Weird In America’


i romanticize (Heavenly)

When H Hawkline’s penchant for ‘aww shucks’ honesty and gleeful synth melodies coalesce the results are incandescent, such as on the sunny yet somber ‘Impossible People’. But the album drags when he trudges down a sonic rabbit hole. Closer ‘More Salt’ sounds like an 8-bit tribute to Neon Indian, while the six minute ‘Salt Cleans’ has plenty of rollicking guitars but still manages to be a tedious listen. There’s plenty of enjoyment to be wrung out of ‘I Romanticize’, so long as you’re the kind of listener who derives joy from unbridled creativity. (Grant Rindner) LISTEN: ‘Love Matters’ 68

eee OH WONDER Ultralife (Island)

By the time Oh Wonder released their self-titled collection of songs in September 2015, they’d already won over a legion of fans and marked themselves experts in bright and breezy synth-pop. Now, after a non-stop run of live shows, they’re returning with ‘Ultralife’, a record they’re calling their debut album proper and it’s easy to see why. Where ‘Oh Wonder’ felt like a handful of pieces that worked together, their new offering is more of a whole. Injecting organic touches, intriguing samples and live flourishes into their well-laid foundations, ‘Ultralife’ is as ambitious as it is good fun. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Heavy’


RIDE Weather Diaries (Wichita)

Ride know what they’re good at. The strongest tracks on ‘Weather Diaries’ are when the band fully embrace the skeleton of the songwriting formula they’d perfected over two decades ago. Ride are the masters of their shoegaze craft, and they shouldn’t be afraid to shy away from it. Across the record there are instances of the band attempting to look to other influences - the hints of electronic in ‘All I Want’ and maybe even some surfpop in ‘Cali’, but when you’re as good as Ride are, you shouldn’t feel the need to look too far. (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘Impermanence’


Q&A Back again after twenty years away, Ride’s Andy Bell talks us through new album ‘Weather Diaries’ and collaborating with Erol Alkan. Interview: Joe Goggins.

It’s been two decades since the last Ride album ‘Tarantula’ was released. What encouraged you to write and release a new album as Ride now? It just felt like the natural next step. What encouraged us the most was, I suppose, the reaction to the shows we played in 2015. The tour seemed to open us up to a new and younger audience, and that encouraged us to make new music. Also when we split up in 1996, we left things hanging a bit musically. Quality had dipped in the last year or two before we split, just due to the tensions within the band. So it’s cool that we have the chance to pick things up again. The new album came together slowly and naturally after the reunion tour was finished. We got home in December 2015 with a few ideas, and developed them into full songs over the following few months. By Summer of 2016 we had an album’s worth of songs written and rehearsed. That’s when we brought in Erol Alkan, and with his help we recorded the album in 17 days. I’m absolutely buzzing about the record. For me it’s up there with our best. As you say, Erol Alkan’s on production duties for the record - what was it like working with him and what do you think he brings to Ride’s music? It was fantastic working with Erol. I don’t think it will be the last time we work together. He proved to be a perfect fit as a producer, and has a great mix of enthusiasm and patience which made him really good to work with on a daily basis. What he brought musically was an attention to the sonics and dynamics, and a kaleidoscopic imagination which helped us follow through all our ideas. Were there any surprises that came from writing a new album? Nothing surprises me about doing this anymore! Does that mean I’m old?

BLEACHERS Gone Now (Columbia)

When Jack Antonoff first stepped out alone he became quickly infamous for his brand of brilliantly wonky pop songs. With debut ‘Strange Desire’, he created a set of multi-faceted anthems which provided an opportunity to dance and cry at the same time. Unsurprisingly for follow-up ‘Gone Now’, he’s building upon those solid gold foundations – just take a quick glance at the rest of his resumé – with sights set even higher. ‘Don’t Take The Money’ is a spectacular segue in, while ‘Everybody Lost Somebody’ stands tall as a bittersweet slice of perfection. An album that’s vibrant and full of life while still being wonderfully introspective, yet again, Bleachers has outdone himself. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Good Morning’

eee DUA LIPA Dua Lipa

(Warner Bros.)

Majors still have no idea how to launch a pop star in the age of streaming, and unfortunately much of ‘Dua Lipa’ suffers because of it. Don’t get us wrong, across the album’s 12 tracks there are bangers aplenty, but it’s just disappointing that elsewhere things feel a little lacklustre: new single ‘Lost In Your Light’ featuring Miguel is missing some of the singer’s personality. A lot of it, like album closer ‘Homesick’ featuring none other than Coldplay’s Chris Martin, feels overthought and calculated. It’s a shame because those moments where Dua Lipa truly shines are those moments where she’s allowed to just be herself. (Alim Kheraj) LISTEN: ‘Genesis’ 69

Waiting on a Song (Nonesuch)

As much as he might have been urged to put his feet up for a while, everything about this record suggests two things; one, that Dan Auerbach had some stylistic itches to scratch and two, that this was not an especially taxing set of songs to write and record. ‘Waiting on a Song’ is a bright and breezy, folktinged affair that’s a long way from the belligerent guitars of latter-day Black Keys. It’s not to say that there aren’t neat, ambitious ideas here and there, but for the most part, this feels like a real palate cleanser for Dan. It’s a perfectly pleasant ride to go along with him on, too, and given that ‘Turn Blue’ sounded a tired effort pretty much from the get go, this return to his roots will hopefully bode well for the band when they eventually reconvene. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Cherrybomb’, ‘Malibu Man’

C......................... O M I N G HAIM




Something To Tell You

It’s been some time coming, but from the two teasers the tardy trio have spewed forth so far, it’s gonna be worth every minute of anticipation. Out 7th July.


What Do You Think ABOUT The Car?

If Katy Perry didn’t coin the term ‘purposeful pop’ for her own work, she’d defo have done it for Deccers, whose debut reaches shelves on 21st July.


Mura Masa

The producer’s roped in all manner of pals for his debut, from Damon Albarn, Charli XCX and Christine and the Queens, to A$AP Rocky, A.K. Paul and NAO. Guest-tastic, and released 14th July.


Fake Sugar (Virgin EMI)

If history will largely remember boundary-pushing Washington art punks Gossip’s career for four-minutes of pure dancefloor genius (that’s ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’, natch), then powerhouse singer Beth Ditto’s first solo effort should go some way to reminding people there was always more to the trio than that. Veering from the sultry strut of opener ‘Fire’, through hearton-sleeve romance (‘In And Out’), balls-to-the-wall pop (‘We Could Run’) and melancholy heartbreak (‘Lover’), ‘Fake Sugar’ paints Beth as a more diverse, often even restrained artist than the larynx-shredding punk aggressor of the mid-00s. That said, the more familiar nocturnal stomps of ‘Go Baby Go’ and ‘Do You Want Me To?’ are still the record’s angular highlights but even so – ‘Fake Sugar’ remains, at times, a surprisingly sweet listen. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Go Baby Go’, ‘Do You Want Me To?’


Murder of the Universe (Heavenly)

In ‘Murder of the Universe’, the Aussie psych-rockers’ second album out of a promised five due in 2017, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard create an apocalyptic-ridden world through a sonic environment that delves into original legend and lore. It’s an intense journey, an epic high fantasy tale told hurriedly through 21 tracks in less than three-quarters of an hour. A lone, steadied female voice narrates throughout, an ominous juxtaposition to the distorted guitars and Stu Mackenzie’s hurried vocals: “The stage is set for war.” An ambitious project, King Gizzard succeed in fully absorbing you into their wild, bizarre universe. (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘The Balrog’, ‘The Lord of Lightening’



Modern English Decoration (Tough Love)

With last year’s ‘The Album Paranoia’ as way of introduction, on follow-up ‘Modern English Decoration’, London’s Ulrika Spacek are very much continuing where they left off, sonically guiding us into their world - literally, given that much of the record is informed by the home studio they record in. Theirs is a universe dripping with melancholy, from the glum quiet of the title track, to uptempo grunge as showcased on standout ‘Everything, All The Time’. Its hypnotic repetition can get a bit samey though, leaving ‘Modern English Decoration’ to, pun fully intended, retreat to musical wallpaper at times. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Everything, All The Time’


wild imagination (Moshi Moshi)

The thinking behind Sweet Baboo’s sixth album is admirable. His fears for the future amplified by the paternal desire to protect his young son from the world around him, ‘Wild Imagination’ is a paean to positivity, the songs united by a single thread of finding joy in little things. The standouts here are among the prettiest work that he’s yet turned out, but overall, it’s hard to escape the sense that the concept behind the record has played to its favour in some parts and gone against it in others. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Clear Blue Skies’



I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone (Hardly Art)

Chastity Belt have long had a knack for tearing down gender’s flimsy constructions with a toppling demolition ball of mockery. Debut ‘No Regerts’ - complete with purposeful keyboard bashing typos in the title - notably featured a joyful chant of “Pussy! Weed! Beer!” on its lyric sheet. Follow-up, ‘Time To Go Home’, took down slut-shaming and mansplaining with gleeful abandon. Album three takes a different tact, focusing less on humour, and more on the band’s ability to channel malaise, nonchalance, boredom and procrastination onto the wax. It’s not as callow as previous Chastity Belt records, and intentionally so, fully digging up the sadness that always lay ever-dormant beneath their tinny-swigging chaos, and leaving behind biting mockery for something that feels vaguer, and also more universal. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Something Else’, ‘5am’



ti amo (Loyaute / Glassnote / Atlantic)

Like the mythological bird they’re named after, Phoenix seem to rise from the ashes every four to five years, energised. ‘Ti Amo’ isn’t simply colourful – it almost goes beyond technicolored, painted thickly in bold, neon-lit vintage synths, arpeggiated melodies and funkladen guitar riffs. As its title suggests, it also finds the French band in their most unabashedly romantic mood to date. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its slightly darker or more melancholic moments, even if they’re veiled under cosmic waves of upbeat melodies. It’s hard not to be completely won over by Phoenix’s effervescent charisma, even on the slower, more mid-tempo moments. They cast a loving spell over the listener with their optimistic, almost carefree attitude, providing a cosmic, upbeat antidote to chaotic times. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Ti Amo’

eeee SONGHOY BLUES Résistance


Fusing their traditional template with elements of R&B, hip hop, and soul, incorporating synth melodies and soaring strings, and even inviting Iggy Pop onto a track to sing about pizza and Kentucky Fried Chicken (because, why not?), with their second record, Songhoy Blues give very real meaning to the age old saying that variety is the spice of life - and the result is certainly all the sweeter. Inspired by the beauty and the night life of their home, ‘Résistance’ is at once an embodiment of and its own cause for celebration. (Jessica Goodman) LISTEN: ‘Bamako’

Q&A Leaving behind Seattle and the jokiness of their debut, the band’s Julia Shapiro talks ‘I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone’ with Joe Goggins.

Why leave Seattle to record ‘I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone’ in Portland? Our friend Matt Simms, from Wire, produced the album, and he knew Larry Crane, who owns Jackpot!, the studio we recorded at. He mixed ‘Time to Go Home’, and did such a good job, but we didn’t really have the funds back then to get him on board for the whole album. It was his choice to go to Portland, but for our part, we wanted to get out of Seattle, mainly just to avoid the kind of day-to-day distractions there and just focus on making the record. The title of the record is really striking - what’s the story behind it? It has multiple meanings. It was a thought I had, because I was spending so much time around other people, between being in a band on the road and having just moved in with my boyfriend. It’s all pretty new to me. There was still that feeling that all of it could break at any moment, and that I’d be alone again, but I knew that I could handle it, because I used to spend so much time alone. The lyrics seem to have taken on a more mature tone this time around - why’s that? I think we’re all just more comfortable expressing ourselves. Early on, we were definitely hiding behind our senses of humour. It helped us cope with negative reviews; “oh, we’re just joking, and you don’t get it”. Now we’re at a point where we know we’re good musicians, and we’re able to approach things in a way that’s a little deeper, so why not be more genuine? There’s still a little bit of humour in there, though. We’ll never be totally serious. 71

eee TOPS Sugar at the Gate


With the sweetness of the jangly, slightly funky guitar melodies and Jane Penny’s uber-relaxed singing style continuing to wash over the record, ‘Sugar At The Gates’ seems like the most TOPS album title they could have conceived - a title that suggests a sense of utopia just out of reach, a closed door to anyone who doesn’t have the key. Unfortunately, much like tucking into an ice cream cone with more than a few sprinkles, you might get brain freeze trying to recall some of the record’s tunes afterwards. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Petals’

eeee LONDON GRAMMAR Truth is a Beautiful Thing

(Metal & Dust / Ministry of Sound)

Where London Grammar’s 2013 debut harboured a brooding sense of bombast established from the outset, its follow up is much more subtle. It isn’t until single ‘Oh Woman, Oh Man’ makes an appearance that the quintessential London Grammar aesthetic is really brought to the fore. As ‘Truth Is A Beautiful Thing’ really begins to take hold, it’s clear the band are operating under the ethos of less is more, exercising restraint for a melodic subtlety that works hugely in their favour. Though a long time coming, it seems that not rushing a follow-up has allowed London Grammar to craft a record that’s hauntingly stark, yet staggeringly beautiful. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ‘Oh Woman, Oh Man’


Planetarium (4AD)

Sunny Hills (Double Six/Domino)

All We Are’s 2015 self-titled debut was a broad affair, rooted in rock but constantly flirting with R&B. On this follow-up, you have to wonder whether the sheer scale of their scope has begun to overwhelm them, because ‘Sunny Hills’ feels like an album that isn’t sure exactly what it wants to be. The theme of resistance never really seems to materialise, and the record shape-shifts jarringly from track to track. Perhaps next time, All We Are won’t throw quite so many ideas at the wall, because few of them stick here. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Dreamer’


crack-Up (Nonesuch Records)

‘Crack-Up’ might very well be the best Fleet Foxes record to date. It is just that though, a Fleet Foxes record. There’s evidence of the band looking further afield than their usual American indie-folk, country and blues leanings in fleeting moments, but they make a fraction of the record. What this album actually is, is the Fleet Foxes we already know but on a much, much bigger scale – and that’s all it needs to be. It’s been nearly seven years since ‘Helplessness Blues’ and nearly a decade since their debut - enough time has passed that the return from Fleet Foxes would be anything other than disappointing if it didn’t sound like what made them so special in the first place. The same but different, more polished yet more heartfelt, forceful yet calm – Fleet Foxes are in turmoil, but a turmoil that’s completely under their control. (Henry Boon) LISTEN: ‘If You Need To, Keep Time On Me‘, ‘On Another Ocean’


eee SUFJAN STEVENS, NICO MUHLY, BRYCE DESSNER, JAMES MCALISTER The term “cinematic” was pretty much made for this album. It’s sweeping, and even contains a passage of three ambient tracks that take the listener on a journey to discover dark energy, the Sun and the tides. Serving as tour guide on this voyage through an asteroid field of ideas is Sufjan Stevens, his voice more energetic than ever. ‘Planetarium’ is beautifully crafted, but its sheer size and scope is almost as enormous as the universe itself – perhaps too enormous. Its 75 minute length would probably fit a live experience in an impressive concert hall (or even watching the moons go by in an actual planetarium) but on record sometimes its tones can start blending into one superheavy mass of ideas. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Saturn’

eee CHARLIE FINK Cover My Tracks


Noah and the Whale’s Charlie Fink returns with debut solo album, ‘Cover My Tracks’, an LP on which he doesn’t do a great deal of breaking new ground but does run through pretty much everything he’s done before in taut, measured fashion. The often playful lyrics suggest he’s done taking himself too seriously, and when he shoots for richer soundscapes, like on ‘The Howl’, the results are among the album’s strongest. A decent demonstration of Charlie Fink’s songwriting chops, but one that feels like a warm-up. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Give Me The Road’

Missed the boat on the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

HARRY STYLES harry styles


As the most charismatic member of one of the biggest bands ever, the expectation was there for Harry to shirk his boyband past for a More Mature Sound. Instead, his influences are flapping from his sleeves. ‘Two Ghosts’ sees him lift the twang from Beck’s ‘The Golden Age’ without pastiche, and ‘Woman’ is an Elton John banger for the 21st Century. As the album unwinds, it becomes starkly clear this is the album its namesake wanted to make. Its earnestness arrives just on the right side of cute, specifically on ‘Ever Since New York’ with its unpretentious sentimentality, and melancholic masturbation ode ‘From the Dining Table’. It might not be perfect and it might be reductive in parts, but it’s not contrived or calculated. You’ve got to respect him for that. (Alim Kheraj) LISTEN: ‘Carolina’




Previously, Beach Fossils could be accused of being a little one note. Their compositions were lush and soothing, but lacked variety. Here, the trio have fixed that issue without compromising an inch of what endeared them to so many before. It’s also helped even more by the album’s two outside collaborators. Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell brings a new dimension to the group’s layers on the shuffling, sweet ‘Tangerine’, while Memphis rapper Cities Aviv takes the lead on ‘Rise’. It’s a move that previously wouldn’t have been expected of them, but proves to be a beautiful pairing that succeeds in making ‘Somersault’ even more eclectic. Proof that sometimes sharing your vision can pay off spectacularly. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Saint Ivy’



eeee KEVIN MORBY City Music

(Dead Oceans)

Kevin Morby’s last album ‘Singing Saw’ was a record that evoked the spirit of a restless wanderer, observing every corner of life as he traversed the varied plains of America. On its follow-up, he’s paying tribute to his “metropolitan experience”. The album’s centrepiece features friend and fellow musician Meg Baird reading a short passage from American writer Flannery O’Connor’s 1960 novel The Violent Bear It Away, anchoring to tie the record’s concept down - the snippet centres around the story’s characters driving towards the orange glow of city lights. City living might sometimes feel like a constant high-intensity assault course, but ‘City Music’ and its creator make it sound like an enlightening, emboldening adventure. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘1234’

eeee THE DRUMS Abysmal Thoughts (Anti-)

The Drums’ first album as a Jonny Pierce solo project is a tightly wound, intimate record that feels deliberately smaller, fitting given that it’s their first crafted in a single headspace. ‘Abysmal Thoughts’ is still a frenetic blend of surf rock and new wave, but it also feels daring - languid at some moments and breakneck at others. Given the title, you can probably already tell that ‘Abysmal Thoughts’ is far from sunny, but what Jonny manages to do is craft a record that is somber and reflective yet also thrilling. (Grant Rindner) LISTEN: ‘Mirror’

eeeee Perfume Genius

No Shape

A masterclass in kitschy indulgence and raw honesty alike.


Kasabian For Crying Out Loud

Utterly ludicrous. If you’re not on board, it’s frankly your loss.


Diet Cig Swear I’m Good At This

Bouncier than Tigger on a trampoline, and every bit as incisive as we’ve come to expect from the New York duo. 73


LIFE DRAWING (AKA Back to the Drawing Board) with Mick Sanders, LIFE

Q1: What did the inside of your brain look like while making this album?



Somewhere in Between (Kobalt)

VÉRITÉ first blew everyone’s socks off with a cover of The 1975’s ‘Somebody Else,’ charging Matty Healy’s morose synthy original with a propulsive, unexpected twist. In the bangers that followed - ‘Phase Me Out’ and ‘When You’re Gone’ - the New York power-pop purveyor continued to put her own spin on emotive, inward-looking slices of infectious, creative pop. It’s a bit of a shame, then, that ‘Somewhere In Between’ all falls a bit flat; borrowing its euphoric vocal hooks from Banks and MØ, and reliant on the same fist-clenching flicks of production we’ve heard a million times over. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Death Of Me’

Popular Music

(Afghan Moon)

Hull’s LIFE are one such example of a band using their anger at the slow rot of the UK and further afield and putting it into song. ‘Popular Music’ isn’t just a blast of blind rage, though. It’s a thought-provoking record that balances the band’s vexations with observations of society and its characters, be they fractious, worn down or vilified. ‘Membership Man’ depicts a “right wing cruiser” over Clash guitars, while closer ‘Euromillions’ is where the shit really hits the fan. “Redneck racist eagle,” they sneer at one point, before making the word “rollover” sound like an order bellowed out on Twitter from The White House’s own wi-fi network. It’s a brutal slow build of a song that captures perfectly the unease and menace taking over. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Beautifully Skint’ 74

Q2: What makes you most angry in life, LIFE?

Q3: If ‘Popular Music’ was a monster, what would it look like?

eeee INVSN

The Beautiful Stories

(Dine Alone)

Q4: Could you show us what The Fish Factory looks like?

Q5: What was the most recent thing you held ‘In Your Hands’?

Like Dennis Lyxzén’s day job Refused, INVSN are highly political in their lyrical outlook - the blood-andthunder approach may be replaced here by messages that are superficially calmer, but ultimately it’s just as excoriating. They also tick more indie rock boxes; think the thick synth gloom of latter-day Interpol methodically punctured by polished guitars. Dennis and Sara Almgren stand front and centre throughout and prove the musical anchor across what is musically an experimental album, from the belligerent minimalism of ‘Bom Bom’ to the hazy post-punk of ‘Deconstruct Hits’. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘This Constant War’





The Great Escape Various venues, Brighton. Photos: Emma Swann



or one night only, everyone’s favourite (only?) Tunbridge Wellian hard rockers Slaves have taken residency in the Horror Hotel ride – literally, inside it. It’s DIY’s first ever Pier Party and not even twelve hours of solid, torrential rain can bring us down. Superfood kick things off at end-of-pier boozer Horatio’s. Tonight’s half hour is, bar their namesake debut single, entirely comprised of new material. From the dubby bounce of ‘Unstoppable’ (think Gorillaz’s more dystopian moments, with a dash of The Specials thrown in), there’s a melting pot of influences on display. Equal parts Mark E Smithesque ragged railing at the establishment and mid-00s twitchy art punk, Hull boys LIFE deliver the kind of 100mph bullets that prove you can still bust a move while sticking it to the pricks. They do a line in dry, Northern danceability that owes a debt to Pulp’s lyrical eyeball rolls and angular posing as much as it does their more obvious punk predecessors. By the time singer Mez SandersGreen jerks and dances a path through the crowd, LIFE have given the rain-drenched crowd a whole new lease of it.



In the surroundings of Brighton’s grand Paganini Ballroom, Marika Hackman is shaking the chandeliers. She’s a million light years away from the lone introspective figure of her debut, wielding her guitar like a sword. Her lyrics cut sharply, too, and ‘Boyfriend,’ particularly, is already cemented as an anthem. And so to tonight’s headliners. It’s, let’s be honest, chucking it down, but Slaves have the kind of fanbase that couldn’t give two shits. If the glorious anarchy of ‘Where’s Your Car, Debbie?’ and ‘Take Control’ are a force to be reckoned with on your bog standard stage, then on the rickety pier in the throes of some

Serious Weather, Slaves feel apocalyptic. After hours, masterminding a genius event named ‘Sløtface-aoke’ over at Patterns, everyone’s favourite Norwegian pop-punkers have meticulously learned songs by everyone from Natasha Bedingfield to Smash Mouth. The crowd swap places, and join the band for different numbers; there’s a rendition of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ courtesy of Will Joseph Cook, and ‘Jolene’ from Gothic Tropic. Day two, and the bloody sun’s out! There’s no need for shelter this afternoon, and there’s a buzz around tonight from the moment the doors to Horatio’s are flung open. Such excitement can be largely attributed to openers Abattoir Blues. The Brighton five-piece have always been a menacing live band, but there’s something about tonight’s show that points the way to even bigger things. Their towering, unpredictable leader Harry Waugh thrashes his way into the front rows of the crowd, inches from the eyeballs of strangers. It’s intense in the extreme. When EAT FAST follow there’s the same infectious energy in the air. Everything sits on a blanket of distortion, but when melodies peek their heads above the surface, they stick so forcefully that we catch more than a few punters heading out of Horatio’s whistling the guitar line from ‘Byker Lime Slicer’ to themselves. Sløtface then proceed to blow away any remaining cobwebs from the night before, previewing their debut album and thrashing through oldies that feel remarkably familiar already. The band’s brutal touring schedule has made them a slick, brilliant live band. There’s no stopping them.


Today marks Sadie Dupuis’ first lone gig in Brighton. ‘Slugger’ - Sad13’s debut - is a tricky beast to bring to life, but somehow, though, despite having just two arms, Sadie manages to play tambourine, guitar, a sampler pad, and a keyboard; all at the same time, while dancing. What a total hero. Over at the One Church, Matt Maltese might sound like a weepy troubadour on the surface, but there’s a deliciously dry bite to his soaring piano ballads. ‘Guilty’ is a jaunty, tongue-in-cheek number about getting off with your mate’s girlfriend, while the sweeping, cathartic climax of 2016 single ‘Vacant In The 21st Century’ is an absolute emotional sucker punch. Things get significantly weirder courtesy of Alcopop! signings Husky Loops, back at Horatio’s before The Magic Gang provide their customary lagers-in-the-air singalong. Songs from ‘EP Three’ are already classics, while ‘Feeling Better’ and ‘All This Way’ cause some scuffles with security, the front rows a swaying mass of bodies. ‘All That I Want Is You’ closes the set, complete with a manically grinning punter being removed from the venue while still on his friend’s shoulders.

Luxury Death

Easing us into the final night are Manchester’s Luxury Death, whose irresistible, sugary melodies turn more than a few heads. Ben Thompson and Meg Williams possess enviable chemistry, and closer ‘Radiator Face’ is


a jangly hit that sticks in the brain like glue. While there may be a slew of similarly-minded and similarlybuzzy emotive types on the bill this year, 18-year-old South London boy Yellow Days feels like the one who could take the crown. With the cracked, raw vocal of a man who’s been smoking 60-a-day for the past few decades, he’s like King Krule raised on a Motown diet. Bad Sounds, meanwhile, bring an altogether more Technicolor party to the stage. Bounding around the stage, singer Callum Merrett is an infectious frontman, leading the quintet through a set that channels Beck’s musical magpie tendencies and shines them up with a Radio Onefriendly pop filter. Everyone keeps repeating the name of the next band on. Mainly because they’re really ace, and partly because people keep stepping on each other’s toes in the bar scrum, too. With a new moniker (this lot used to be called Fish) and absolutely heaps of confidence, Sorry vocalist Asha Lorenz has fully embraced intensity. Single ‘Drag King’ is a genderbending slice of robotic grunge, but the jittering, incessant ‘More’ is probably the moment that steals the show. Closing a weekend of festivities is a job best left to experts; and The Big Moon are the ones to do it. After easing everybody in with a singalong, Celia Archer orders the room to dance, and incendiary anthem ‘Bonfire’ provides the hot coals to spark a whirling pit. Playing tonight’s gig above The Actual Sea, and bringing down Horatio’s in the process, old favourites ‘The Road’ and ‘Sucker’ collide headlong with cuts from their debut album. Few bands throw themselves into a show quite like The Big Moon, who spend the majority of the time grinning. It all feels like one very rowdy celebration. (El Hunt, Lisa Wright, Will Richards)

Q&A Sløtface

You’ve literally just come off stage - how was it? Lasse: The crowd was pretty crazy, I was afraid it was going to be just old men with grey hair, so that’s a good thing. Haley: It was a really fun day. Our only disappointment is that we were really hoping to ride one of the roller coasters before they closed, and we didn’t get a chance to. It’ll have to be next time. Where are you off to now? Haley: Heathrow. We’re going to Sweden tomorrow. We’re playing a festival with Kverletak. They’re from the same town as us, and we’ve coincidentally been booked for the same rock festival in Sweden, so we’re going to hang out with them tomorrow, which we’re really excited about. It’s kind of like going home, just because it’s a band from our home town. Did you have a favourite performance from Sløtface-oke last night? Tor-Arne: ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ was quite good. Lasse: I think ‘Can’t Stop’ was pretty good. Haley: I don’t know who the guy was who did ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’, but he had an amazing voice, it was one of those surprising karaoke moments. Hear more from Sløtface, as well as others including The Magic Gang, Childhood and LIFE by listening (and subscribing, obvs) to the DIY Podcast. Head to to do just that.

the big moon


Pumarosa Oval Space, London. Photo: Tim Easton.


purple mist unfurls into the room, gradually dyeing the white canvas of Oval Space a darker hue. Just moments ago, gazes are transfixed on Pumarosa vocalist Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s sister, Fernanda, who takes to the centre of the room to perform an intense, specially-choreographed dance sequence with her partner. Now, five outlines materialise in the eerie glow, indicating the arrival of the main attraction. From ominous opener ‘Dragonfly’ to the head-spinning encore ‘My Gruesome Loving Friend’, the set is steeped in volatile moments; their five-minute-plus shape shifting tracks make for a thrilling ride - even if they do leave you behind with every twist and turn. The set takes a turn from older material to new cuts from debut album ‘The Witch’. The title track showcases the more ritualistic side of their sound, providing Isabel with the opportunity to ditch her guitar and deliver dramatic performances. Unsurprisingly though, the most inspired performance comes courtesy of calling card, ‘Priestess’. As Isabel throws her arms towards us, commanding “You dance, you dance, you dance”, there’s not a single person in the room who can resist the charm of her spell. (Lisa Henderson)

Summer ‘17 (well, almost). Metronomy Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Robin Pope.


point, with ‘Back Together’, ‘Miami Logic’ and ‘Old Skool’, serving as a back-to-back introductory course, before ‘The Bay’ really ignites Brixton Academy. With each track blending in to the next Metronomy are in full flow from the get-go, crystalising their party-starting credentials in a blistering opening.

t was with youthful abandon that Metronomy’s Joe Mount looked to recapture an essence of yesteryear on last year’s ‘Summer 08’ – a sense of freedom and wide-eyed fun running through the group’s fifth album. With its release he announced his intention not to tour it, but Then, the aptness of closing on ‘Everything Goes My Way’ is not lost on anyone – either on stage or watching on – as twelve months on and they’re ready to hit the road for a drummer Anna Prior takes centre-stage and sings summer of festivals, Brixton marking the final date in a “It feels so good to have you back my love three-night live comeback run. / I’m in love again”. Metronomy feel rejuvenated, and festival stages will A temporary break from touring was never likely to be all the more exciting this summer last too long with the new arsenal that ‘Summer for their return. (Liam McNeilly) 08’ provides. They’re tonight’s starting


“Give us a smooch, mate?”

dream wife


Live at Leeds


Various venues, Leeds. Photos: Emma Swann h, festival season, how we’ve missed you. Today’s proceedings in Leeds might be significantly less muddy than what’s to come over the next few months, but it’s no less raucous. Fresh from honing their chops on the Dirty Hit tour, London scamps King Nun have become a ferocious force of gnarly riffs and wonky song structures. The likes of newie ‘Wet Wipe’ and early single ‘Tulip’ ring with the kind of fizzing potential of early, ‘Leisure’-era Blur, and the very decent-sized afternoon crowd are in the palm of their hands. After a two hour drive down the A1, Eat Fast emerge onto the Brudenell’s stage in a haze of distortion and blue light. It’s a fitting way to introduce themselves; deliciously scuzzy but still packed with melody. Granted, it’s not all plain-sailing - bassist Mark Brown manages to do the near-impossible by breaking a string mid-set - but it’s a great glimpse of the four-piece in all their fuzzy glory.

slinker, while sample-heavy banger ‘Where’s The Bass Amp?’ stakes a claim for the most giddily infectious song of the whole night. You sense that these returning heroes could be the dark horses of festival season. It’s been only three weeks since the release of ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ but judging by their heroes’ welcome to the Brudenell tonight, fans of The Big Moon have been awaiting this moment for much, much longer. What ensues is nothing short of a celebration. Newie ‘Bonfire’ is a highlight, while their brilliantly warped but familiar take on Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’ still has pride of place. The best part, though, is the look on the band’s faces: two years on since their first festival performance at Live at Leeds, they couldn’t look more elated at how far they’ve come.

king nun

Johnny Rocket – aka Lias Saoudi of the Fat White Family – might be on more sartorially tasteful form than usual, having abandoned his recent penchant for taping breakfast foods to his chest, but The Moonlandingz

York-sheer joy

Over at the Nation of Shopkeepers, Superfood are having a shitter of a time. Plagued by technical hiccups, it takes the band a solid 20 minutes in front of a twitchy crowd to begin, but when they do all is forgiven. Kicking off with a couple of fanplacating oldies (‘Lily For Your Pad To Rest On’, ‘You Can Believe’), they then dish up three superlative new cuts from their forthcoming second record. In ‘Natural Supersoul’, they’ve got a groove-laden, Prince-tinged

are still nothing short of a mindboggling live proposition. He leads his band through the ridiculous romp of ‘Black Hanz’ and ‘Chateau Neuf de Pape’ like a hellish bingo caller from a working men’s club gone wrong. By the time they bring out The Big Moon’s Jules Jackson for a theatrical run through of recent single ‘The Strangle Of Anna’, the bizarre world of this ‘fictional band’ brought to life is complete.

Berlin-based garage duo GURR then finish off proceedings in the way every booze-drenched all-dayer deserves: with bucketloads of fun. They rattle through a bonkers cover of Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’ alongside cuts from debut album ‘In My Head’ and finish a non-stop Brudenell program that sees 2017 hurtled into festival season with suitable lashings of chaos, and some of the finest new bands we have. (Lisa Wright, Sarah Jamieson, and Will Richards)



Despite going up against all manner of clashes, you’d never have guessed it: Dream Wife are on top fighting form. Throughout their set of perfectly angular pop songs, singer Rakel Mjöll bounds around stage but it’s within the chaos-inciting ‘F.U.U.’ that she and the band really come to full, visceral life. This may still be an early juncture in their career, but there’s no denying that this band are destined for much bigger things.

Dom Ganderton, Superfood How was it for you? It was the first time we have played these new songs in such an intimate setting. People seemed to dig it so if they’re happy, we’re happy. We assume it was nice to show off your new songs to a festival crowd? Yeah everyone seemed a lot...merrier. There was a full blown dance off in the middle of the crowd as well - a head spinning, trainer-kicking dance off. 81

, we’ll pub quiz of sorts A big inter-band by one. e on es fav ur be grilling yo

It’s Your Round eam Wife Alice Go, Dr Cost: Free ken ine He Drink: l Club, Leeds cia So ll ne de Pub: Bru

Chosen subject: GUITARS

General Knowledge

Let’s start off easy… Who did Rolling how many strings are on Stone pick as the best a traditional guitar? guitarist in history? That IS easy! Six! Oooh let me think… Six six six! You have a thing in common. Oh! Left-handed! Which famous guitarist Jimi Hendrix! is known as ‘Slowhand’? Bingo! I don’t even know!

How many parliamentary What is the capital constituencies are of Australia? there in the UK? Is it Sydney? Melbourne? Is it between 1 and 1,000? It’s Canberra. It is! Oh that’s such a trick I’ll play it safe and say 500. question. Did they make It’s 650! that the capital so it’d be in a pub quiz and people What are people from would say ‘Hmmm, is Leeds known as? it Sydney?’ and then Are they just known as you can go ‘Hah! No it’s really nice people? I don’t Canberra, you’re wrong!’ know the dark truth!

Slowhand sounds creepy, What’s the name of the like the sort of music that lead guitarist in Metallica? will make you shiver. He says that he lives life Slowhand... oooh. I feel without an ego. He tries like I only know nice to suppress his ego as guitarists, not a creep much as possible in order with a slow hand. to deal with the other Brilliantly, after your guys in Metallica. But I description, it’s Eric Clapton! can’t remember his name! The egoless man is In which decade was the called Kirk Hammett! Gibson Les Paul first sold? Ummmmm. The ‘50s or ‘60s? ‘50s?. That’s correct, the 1950s!



They’re known as Leodiensians. Woah! That is very different from Scousers. What was the name of the first woman in space? Mmmm. I wish Bella was here! She knows loads about space! It’s something-a, like Una? Close. It’s Valentina (Tereshkova)!

What is converted into alcohol during brewing? It’s like fermented fruit? Acid or something? Vitamins? SUGAR! SUGAAAAR! IT’S SUGAR! Oh is that what ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ is about??? Score:


SCORE 4/10

Despite conducting the quiz outside an extremely busy Brudenell, quite a few drinks into this year’s Live At Leeds, and being interrupted by a fan’s friend asking if she’s in “Dream Life”, Alice did pretty damn well here.

Verdict: Well done. “You say ‘Dream Life’ one more time. I dare you.”



"A cosmic, upbeat antidote to chaotic times� DIY Magazine


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DIY, June 2017  

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