DIY, March 2024

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Emma Swann

There aren’t many bands out there that have managed to build a legacy as illustrious as Green Day, let alone while continuing to have such an integral political voice. And that’s why we at DIY are thrilled to have the genuine punk rock legends grace our cover this month, just a few weeks on from the release of their potent 14th(!) record ‘Saviors’. This issue we catch up with Billie, Mike and Tré to reflect on both their newest chapter and epic career so far, ahead of what’s arguably set to be their biggest year yet.

Elsewhere, we head to Leeds to learn more about English Teacher’s feverishlyanticipated debut, dive into Everything Everything’s latest dystopian landscape, and get some defiant life lessons from Caity Baser. Time to flip the page and get stuck in.

Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor

the code to listen to our March playlist now.

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. 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 DIY 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.
MANAGING EDITOR Sarah Jamieson FEATURES EDITOR Lisa Wright DIGITAL EDITOR Daisy Carter COVER DESIGN, P. 24-31; 3638; 46-49 Cere Ebanks CONTRIBUTORS Adam England, Alex Cabré, Alex Doyle, Alex Rigotti, Bella Martin, Ben Tipple, Burak Cingi, Charlotte Grimwade, Charlotte Gunn, Charlotte Marston, Chris Taylor, Christopher Connor, Daniel Landsburgh, Ed Lawson, Elvis Thirlwell, Emily Savage, Holly Whitaker, James Smurthwaite, Joe Goggins, Matt Brown, Matthew Powell, Meg Atkinson, Misha Warren, Nick Levine, Otis Robinson, Sarah Taylor. FOR DIY EDITORIAL FOR DIY SALES NEU 14 Kneecap 16 Cosmorat 18 Recommended 20 Hello 2024 22 Etta Marcus REVIEWS 50 Albums 61 EPs, etc 62 Live CONTENTS FEATURES 24 Green Day 46 English Teacher 32 Caity Baser 40 Blu DeTiger 42 Waxahatchee 36 Everything Everything NEWS 4 What Happens Next? 8 Declan McKenna 10 DIY Now & Next Tour 12 Festivals MARCH 2024

NEWS What Comes Next?

Last month, the UK government’s Women and Equalities Committee published a lengthy report investigating the problems of misogyny that have run rife within the music industry for decades, including discrimination, sexual harassment, and systemic issues that have long inhibited the careers of women and people with gender marginalised identities. Following on from the publishing of the report, we gathered a group of artists and industry professionals for a conversation about what they hope the next steps could be. Interview: Lisa Wright.


BELLA PODPADEC Dream Wife, bassist

ESTELLA ADEYERI Big Joanie, bassist

JENESSA WILLIAMS Journalist and academic

JESSICA WINTER Musician and producer


100 Club, venue manager

“This is an industry that has no rules and regulations and no bodies to report things to.”

What were your first impressions of the report?

Jenessa Williams: I got asked to contribute to it and they asked us to talk mostly about lyrics. They were really set on talking about how misogyny was filtering through via lyrics and we were a little wary of feeding into that. It was encouraging that [the end product] was much more about people’s actual actions on the ground. This is an industry that has no rules and regulations and no bodies to report things to. If you’re put on a job, there’s no obvious answer to who you’d speak to if something terrible happened.

Ruby Horton: The funding aspect they brought up is really important, but the thing I’ve always had a bit of a struggle with is Emily Eavis saying there’s a pipeline problem. I feel like there needs to be representation top-down to encourage people into the music industry; having people of different genders and races and abilities. It’s not just about having a typified pop star occasionally play, it’s about having genuine top-down representation for people to admire and look up to. While there are big problems with horrible music teachers in schools I’m sure, I think wider encouragement can come from other places that have more power.

How have those ideas of visibility manifested in other areas?

Jessica Winter: I’ve noticed lots more female people in studios [recently]. It’s been really refreshing, because for years I’ve been walking into studios thinking, ‘OK, I’m probably going to be the only woman here today’ and you just have that feeling

of ‘me vs guys’. In my experience, I’ve always had to go head-to-head with the engineer as the producer. And when I’ve watched engineers with male producers, they’re literally just doing what the producer says, doing their job. It’s just a matter of people opening the door and offering internships to learn the trade and come up through that way.

Bella Podpadec: It just makes it a really safe, easy environment. Before [Dream Wife started using an all-womxn studio team], the kind of recording spaces we’d been in made me feel really, really awful, like I had to have all these really thick, heavy walls around me to just be able to operate. As someone who isn’t a trained musician, when you don’t have people to look up to and when you can’t see yourself on a stage, it’s harder to feel like what you do deserves to be there. As a positive thing, at SXSW last year there were maybe five or six young bands who came up to us and said, ‘I’m able to do what I do because I see you doing what you do’. It’s really heart-warming to see that because six or seven years ago, when we were first going out there, it felt different.

“A lot could be solved by a few people in power deciding to relinquish a tiny percentage of their profit.”

Estella Adeyeri: Every initiative that attempts to rebalance the industry has come from people who are marginalised, who actually care about it, whereas the people who have the power to make significant change won’t take that investment into doing anything about it. Our band formed from an initiative that was encouraging people who’d never played instruments on stage before, and initiatives like Girls Rock London encourage young people who don’t often have access to music. All these initiatives are started by people with no money trying to make something happen and trying to make space for

other people, whereas the major labels, what are they doing? A lot could be solved by a few people in power deciding that it won’t be the end of the world if they relinquish a tiny percentage of their profit.

Jenessa: It reminds me of all the conversations going around about Pitchfork and all the tweets that were saying, ‘What would happen if Taylor Swift or Beyoncé decided that they were just going


to fund a really excellent publication that wanted to write about women and non-binary music?’ It begs the question of what people who have that kind of extortionate wealth could do very easily if they decided that it was important to them.

A big part of the conversation is around safety in working music environments - what would you want to see put into action?

Jessica: Over the past year, I’ve been dealing with a stalker situation. It was aggressive, sending death threats and stuff like that, and they would be physically there in person most of the time. It really made me realise how unprotected you are as an independent artist when you haven’t got an entourage or a bodyguard or even a dressing room sometimes. I was doing late night DJ sets and I’d turn up at the venue on my own, leave on my own, and no one would check I’d got home. There should be a protocol to say: How is this artist getting to the venue? How is this artist going to leave? Is there a safe space for them to get changed?

Ruby: Our venue is on Oxford Street and we’re never open without security. The difference I see in other venues is, when there’s a massive lack of funding and resources, often that can be the first thing to be cut. That’s where there’s a big miscommunication in these reports. There’s a top tier of the industry and it doesn’t trickle down at all.

Estella: I work with the Good Night Out campaign that works directly with music venues and promoters to provide training and we’ve definitely noticed that, since the pandemic began, this sort of thing is what gets cut. Arts in this country are so underfunded, so it’s not even that the will isn’t there, people just don’t have the funding to make this investment.

Jessica - you and your team have been putting safeguarding measures in place for studio sessions…

Jessica: When I signed to Warp Publishing, we were talking about the protocols we can put in place before an artist goes into the room with a producer. So we [decided to] make a form with bullet points for every session prior to going in saying: ‘You are in a work situation’, ‘You are not obligated to go for drinks after the session’ etc. To have that document sent out in advance to everyone in the session, it reminds people that this is work, no funny business, just get the job done. It says, ‘We are watching you’ because people think they can get away with it. It’s so powerful and it’s free.

Estella: It’s disappointing to have to hold that hyper-vigilance inside ourselves and feel like we can’t make a connection in a work space that isn’t going to be taken advantage of because that other person hasn’t thought about the power dynamic. We shouldn’t have to have these fears or feel like we need to take the blame because someone asked us to go to the pub but they didn’t actually want to go to the pub.

Jessica: There should be more warnings, and to go: these are the situations that commonly occur, if you find yourself in these situations here’s what to do. It would be nice for people to get debriefed before choosing this as their life choice!

“Transfeminine people experience all kinds of other, extra, much more vicious types of misogyny.”

How do you think issues around intersectionality have been dealt with?

Bella: I’d like to speak about it from a trans perspective. [In the report] a few times ‘women and non-binary people’ were mentioned - which is a [catch-all term] that is very rarely used in queer spaces - and it felt almost like lip service. They were talking about intersectionality, but transfeminine people experience misogyny like women do but they also experience all kinds of other, extra, much more vicious types of misogyny that are explicitly for that community. When we’re living in a time when the government is literally making horrendous jokes at the offence of transfeminine people, to not be including them in this conversation is a misstep. The report is twinned with one about education in schools, and what came to me thinking about this discussion is how devastating it feels to have schools not be able to support transgender children, it’s heartbreaking. Having grown up under Section 28 where teachers weren’t allowed to talk to you about homosexuality, it took me so, so long to figure out my stuff, and if we’re not letting children be who they are [then that’s going to be perpetuated].

What are the positives that you want to highlight can come from these ideas being properly addressed?

Estella: My enjoyable experiences in the music industry have been from finding people that I feel a kinship with, and being involved in organisations that are working to make things better; I’ve only enjoyed the studio because I’ve been around people who’ve not made me feel small for not knowing everything about it, and who’ve been encouraging. There are spaces you can find that are willing to try and make your entry into the music industry far more comfortable.

Jenessa: It’s also important that more cis male bands start to talk about this stuff and provide space - even if they have a predominantly cis male audience - for these conversations not to be happening just among people who are already on side. I’d like to see more bands taking up that mantle. DIY


in deep

Declan McKenna

Beach Boy

DIY In Deep is our monthly, online-centric chance to dig into a longer profile on some of the most exciting artists in the world right now. With his alt-popstar status firmly cemented, Declan McKenna is spending the next portion of his career bending the term to his own shape.

Third album ‘What Happened To The Beach?’ finds the 25-year-old enjoying “creative spontaneity” and a deserved chunk of self-belief. Words: Nick Levine.

Protest songs about dodgy men in power are rarely the material of giddy, feverishly-received Reading Festival sets, but try telling that to Declan McKenna’s many, many fans. If you didn’t catch that show last August, you can get a taste of it on TikTok, where there are videos of screaming teenagers pogoing to his anthemic 2015 breakthrough hit ‘Brazil’ - written after football gatekeepers FIFA controversially awarded the 2014 World Cup to a country mired in poverty. After going viral on the platform in 2022, ‘Brazil’ hurtled into the UK singles chart; now, it’s approaching half a billion Spotify streams globally.

At Reading, Declan drew a rapturous response from the moment he walked on waving an old metal detector. Yes, it looked a bit random, but it was actually a quirky nod to the visual world he was already building for his third studio album ‘What Happened to the Beach?’, which dropped earlier this month, sporting a metal detector on its cover. Dressed in a natty mismatched suit and bright yellow tie, the 25-year-old looked every inch the stylish alternative pop star, and performed like one too - taking to Reading’s main stage like a duck (or perhaps a seagull, another ‘...Beach?’ motif) to water.

Given how poised he appears on stage, it’s a slight surprise to hear Declan say that he finds “big gigs like Reading the least enjoyable” to play. “Because they’re so built up, I can never fully enjoy it in the moment,” he admits. “You want to interact with the crowd, but at the same time, you don’t want to be controlled too much by what’s going on out there.” It’s only later, when he sees videos of himself on stage, that he thinks: “Shit.” As in, “Shit, that was BIG…”

Throughout today’s hour-long interview, Declan is thoughtful and self-assured without taking himself too seriously. Journalists have been calling him “wise beyond his years” since he broke through with ‘Brazil’ and his excellent debut album, 2018’s ‘What Do You Think About the Car?’, which came out when he was just 18. But it’s fair to say Declan wears his success lightly.

At this point, with two hit albums to his name (2020’s second LP ‘Zeros’ narrowly missed out on the top spot, landing at Number Two)

and a third dropping, does he feel like a pop star? “Like, I try to embody that a bit with my performance,” he says. “I think if you’re a performer, you have to be a little bit larger than life. It’s an extension of yourself at the end of the day, but you’re there to put on a show. So there is something to [be said for] buying into your own mythology in that moment. But outside of that, I wouldn’t say I feel like a pop star.”

Declan isn’t the kind of artist who gives snappy, pat answers, so he allows himself to flesh out this thought. “I don’t know if it registers with me the way it does to some people,” he continues. “It’s very different depending on where I am. Sometimes you feel a bit overwhelmed. Like, ‘I feel like everyone’s looking at me’.” He lets out a self-deprecating laugh. “Then sometimes I feel like no one knows who the fuck I am – I mean, probably both are true,” he shrugs. “But do I feel like a pop star? I guess it must have sunk in a bit at this point, just because of where I’m at with it all.”

Happily, where Declan is at creatively also seems to suit him down to the ground. ‘What Happened to the Beach?’ is a dreamier, more offbeat offering than its predecessors: the indie rock of his 2017 debut, and ‘Zeros’’ gleaming, glam-inspired follow-up. Recorded in LA with producer Gianluca Buccellati (Arlo Parks, Lana Del Rey), ‘What Happened to the Beach?’ is filled with sun-dappled psychedelia and unselfconscious playfulness. The weird, woozy ‘Mulholland’s Dinner and Wine’ features the line “Let’s take the golf cart into town” because Declan saw “posh couples” doing precisely that in the city.

Lead single ‘Sympathy’, released in July, is a trumpet-driven summer jam with a soothing message: “I can see what you’re all about,” Declan sings. “You don’t need to be clever.”

The album title is ambiguous by design.

Declan says it “isn’t meant to have a specific concept” but is instead conceived as a “creatively spontaneous” body of work. He embraced a more freeform way of working after “diving into making music as a hobby again” during the 2020 lockdowns. “I was just making these fun little ideas that maybe I wouldn’t have considered a proper track to begin with,” he recalls. But when he flew to LA in early 2022, it all started to click and Declan knew he had the makings of an album – albeit a very different one from the bold, glossy ‘Zeros’, on which he channelled

flamboyant icons like Marc Bolan and David Bowie.

“This album came from a period of time that was like a reset for me,” he says. “I sort of gradually opened up to using these ideas that, before, I would have discarded because I’d have been like, ‘I don’t see how I can make this into a proper song’.” Solidified by LA sessions with Buccellati, this slow and steady revelation proved liberating for Declan, who felt he could step away from the “classic songwriting structures” of ‘Zeros’ and embrace a more abstract, reactive style.

Looking back, what does he think prompted this reset? “If anything,” he says, “it’s just me having the confidence and having learned enough over the years to know how to execute those slightly more abstract ideas. I didn’t feel like I had to prove something before it was done. With previous albums, I’ve felt like I had to have a song pretty much there – almost in its full form – before going into the studio to record it. But that just wasn’t the case on this album.”

‘What Happened To The Beach?’ is out now via Columbia.

Read the full interview at


“Do I feel like a pop star? I guess it must have sunk in a bit at this point...”


HotWax - will be heading out on the road for a tag team run at the helm of DIY’s Now + Next Tour 2024. Kicking off on 3rd April at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, Big Special will headline the first five shows supported by Grandmas House and a host of exciting opening acts, before HotWax take over for five more dates with

It’s sure to be a riotous couple of weeks. And so, before we set both bands out on the open road, we thought it only polite to introduce them and sit them down for a cheery chat about the weird things you only learn when you embrace life as a touring band. Warning: may contain Pot Noodle. Interview: Lisa Wright.

Hello everyone! Where are you both calling in from right now?

Lola Sam, HotWax: We’re on tour at the moment with Frank Carter. We’re in a Travelodge in Stoke.

Tallulah Sim-Savage, HotWax: There’s literally nothing here apart from a Subway.

Joe Hicklin, Big Special: I’m just sat on my own at home; we’ve been finishing up the album and sending everything off.

Let’s cast our minds back to the beginning - can you both remember your first gig as your current band?

Joe: I was mad nervous for the first few months of playing shows. I kept wishing I’d break an ankle or something during the day so I wouldn’t have to do it. When I first started performing spoken word stuff, I would absolutely dread it; it was like walking down the green mile. Over time, I’ve really fallen in love with performing, but any time there’s a little break of more than a couple of weeks I get scared I’m gonna have forgotten how to do it. Do you feel like that?

Tallulah: 100%. Me and Lola laugh about this quite a lot, but pretty much every night we have the same dream where we’re playing a gig and either we have an instrument we’ve never played before, or all the songs are covers, or we just can’t do it. It’s a horrible dream that I have every night so I know how you feel!

Joe: I used to have a dream where I’d just slowly lie down on the stage and then I couldn’t get up.

Lola: Our first gig with Alfie [Sayers, drummer] was in 2021 but HotWax has been a thing since 2019. That gig with the three of us was just when gigs had started to not be seated, and it was a big venue for us.

Tallulah: It was really scary because it was one of the biggest gigs we’d done but it was fun. We sounded really different then; we found a video on our

phone the other day and it’s all wah pedals just like ‘WAHWAHWAH!’

Are there people that either of you take inspiration from as performers when you’re on stage?

Tallulah: Definitely when we were growing up. I remember on my birthday we saw Starcrawler and Arrow the frontwoman was just like, WOW. On stage, you can just be yourself but there’s another part of you that comes out where you can do whatever you want and you get this weird confidence that you don’t really have.

Lola: The amount of gigs we’ve done now, the confidence has grown. We still get nervous but we’re used to it now. Even a year ago, if you watched us, we’d have been very shy.

Tallulah: But also, if I’m on a stage without Lola and Alfie, that’s terrifying. When we were on tour with Royal Blood, I had to play a song with them every night on guitar and I would be SO scared. Absolutely terrified. So it’s having those people you’ve always been on stage with there with you that gives you that confidence.

Joe: I defo agree with that. I see it as a chance to act in a way that you can’t act in public otherwise you’ll get arrested. It’s a chance to go a bit fucking mad; if you get over the line of the nerves, you might as well go full whack.

Have there been any rock’n’roll injuries along the way?

Tallulah: I always have injuries but they’re not even from being on stage. I’m just a very clumsy person. There are lots of broken toes and cuts…

Is there any established tour bus etiquette in the HotWax and Big Special buses?

Tallulah: Alfie wishes!

Lola: Me and Tallulah aren’t allowed in the front, we have to sit in the back. We spill everything.

Tallulah: We’re gross. I feel bad… We’re just a bit slobbish…

Lola: We don’t EAT slobbish, we just drop things and chat shit. We travel in a van and all the rows in the back have all the luggage on it, and then we’ll find a pot of hummus that’s been there all tour.

Joe: Our van is just us fighting for the window seat so we can have a ciggy. Lots of sandwiches, lots of meal deals. We try to rotate albums so everyone gets a go. We’ve been listening to a lot of the post-trad Irish stuff coming out like Lankum and Lisa O’Neill.

Lola: We’ll listen to bands on the line-ups that we’re playing, so we know what they’re like.

Are there any go-to pre-gig songs that you hype yourself by listening to?

Lola: We keep forgetting our speakers…

Tallulah: Every time, we forget. I hate it when it’s silent in the dressing room, it’s so annoying. You’re about to go on stage and it’s just… the sound of someone eating a crisp. Every gig we do we say, we really need to make the vibe a lot better in this dressing room, and then every time it doesn’t happen. Do you have a song?

Joe: We’re not that prepared either. Especially if you’ve got the nerves too - I wish I could just sit in a cupboard until the gig happens. After the gig I’m happy and I can chill out.

Do either of you have any hot tips for the cities the other one is playing?

Alfie: Big Special are playing Green Door Store in Brighton where I’m from; that venue’s like home. There’s loads of pubs and venues nearby, and the Lanes are just down the road.

Joe: If I remember right, there’s a pizza vending machine by the station? That feels like the next stage of civilisation. Have you tried it?

Tallulah: I’ve had it probably three times. I had it for breakfast once.

And can we expect this tour to be a party tour?

Tallulah: It’s always a two hour drive back to the Travelodge so you can’t, but we’ll have a van party.

Joe: We end up going back and Cal [Moloney, drums] will make us a ginger tea and then go to bed.

Tallulah: Me and Lola will share a Pot Noodle with a teaspoon.

Rock’n’roll clearly isn’t dead, eh guys. See you on the tour!


As you’ve probably gathered by now, Big Special and HotWax will hit the road next month for five shows each, alongside Grandmas House and Aziya respectively. What’s more, they’ll be joined by a different buzzy local support at each gig. We’ll see you down the front.

Big Special and Grandmas House


3rd Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach (w/ Slate)

4th Oxford, Bullingdon (w/ The Pill)

5th Sheffield, Yellow Arch Studio (w/ Really Good Time)

6th Brighton, Green Door Store (w/ Saloon Dion)

7th Southampton, Joiners (w/ Alien Chicks)

HotWax and Aziya

8th Birkenhead, Future Yard (w/ Trout)

9th Manchester, Deaf Institute (w/ Duvet)

10th Glasgow, Stereo (w/ Brenda)

11th Newcastle, Cluny (w/ Cat Ryan)

13th Leeds, Wardrobe (w/ Nxdia)

Tickets are on sale now via and by pointing your phone camera at the nifty QR code below.


The days are getting longer, and Easter’s around the corner; festival season is on its way…

Very Cool

Returning to Madrid’s Villaverde this summer, Mad Cool have confirmed that legendary Las Vegas synth-rockers The Killers will be joining the line-up to headline the festival’s Saturday night. They join a whole host of already announced artists, including Dua Lipa, Janelle Monáe, Michael Kiwanuka, Jessie Ware, and Bring Me The Horizon

The Killers aren’t the only new additions, either: Italian quartet Måneskin are set to headline Friday’s proceedings, R&B sensation Tyla joins Saturday’s numbers, and Nia Archives will be sure to keep the party going till the early hours. Elsewhere, there are a number of emerging bands to be found too: audiences can catch the likes of Sea Girls, bar italia, Crawlers, and DIY Class of 2024 members Picture Parlour over the four day affair, which is set to take place from 10th to 13th July.


Beside The Seaside

We’re officially one month closer to Brighton’s new music extravaganza -

More ace acts have been added to the bill of 2024’s Live at Leeds in the Park (25th May), including HotWax, Orla Gartland and Circa Waves, while local gal Corinne Bailey Rae will be performing her new album ‘Black Rainbows’ in full.

The Chats head up the second wave of artists confirmed for this year’s 2000trees (10th - 13th July), alongside Nova Twins, Cassyette, and Crawlers, who’ve also joined the bill. They’ll all appear alongside The Gaslight Anthem, Manchester Orchestra, and Creeper at Upcote Farm come July.

The Jonas Brothers have been confirmed as the final headliner for this year’s Rock In Rio Lisboa (15th - 16th, 22nd - 23rd June). They’ll join huge acts Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat, Camila Cabello and Evanescence at the Lisbon event this summer.

RAYE , IDLES and Alvvays are just three of the latest acts to be added to the line-up of Helsinki’s Flow (9th - 11th August). They’ll join the likes of Pulp, Fred again.., PJ Harvey, The Smile and Jessie Ware, who’ve all been confirmed to appear at the Finnish event.

Reading & Leeds (21st25th August) have recently added over 50 new names to their 2024 line-ups. Among this second wave of artists are Dubliners Fontaines DC, bedroom-pop mainstay beabadoobee, and last month’s cover stars The Last Dinner Party, alongside Ashnikko, Bleachers, Two Door Cinema Club, and Confidence Man

A whole host of huge names have been announced as supports for Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service, who are set to co-headline one evening of this summer’s All Points East (25th August). The new additions include Gossip, Phoenix, and SleaterKinney

IDLES, Fever Ray, Slowdive and Bonnie Prince Billy have been confirmed as the headliners for this year’s edition of End of the Road (29th August - 1st September). Other acts on the bill for the Larmer Tree Gardens event include Sleater-Kinney, CMAT, Baxter Dury and loads more.


New bands, new music.

14 DIY

Meet the Gaels who just want to have fun (and change a few minds while they’re at it)



Kneecap aren’t the first hip hop group to rap about drugs, sex, or violence. God knows they certainly won’t be the last. But the Belfast trio are one of the few who do so in Irish. Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Próvaí are dragging the language away from its outdated image and locating it in the heart of modern-day Belfast, on a mission tied to a punk legacy of Irish language activism.

In 1969, five couples built houses with their bare hands on Shaw’s Road, birthing Belfast’s first urban Irish-speaking community (known as a Gaeltacht). “They started the first primary school in 1971, which was outlawed for 14 years,” Móglaí explains. “It was self-funded. There’s a very big culture of doing things yourselves here.” Móglaí’s dad was so inspired by the Gaeltacht that he started learning Irish. He helped establish the first Irish language secondary school – the same one Móglaí and Mo attended. Próvaí, a few years their senior, grew up in Derry, where his own secondary school was funded by students with sponsor sheets and buckets to raise money: “I took a lot of courage from that.”

The boys knew they were onto something when they started translating the names of drugs into Irish - partially for fun, and also to avoid suspicion from police. ‘Snaois’ (‘snuff’) became coke, whilst ‘dúid’, an old clay pipe, became their word for a joint. ‘3CAG’, the name of their debut EP, stands for ‘3 consonants and a vowel’, or MDMA. And whilst detractors are outraged by their violation of the “pure” language, Kneecap claim Irish hasn’t always been so puritan: author and collaborator Manchán Magan sent them his upcoming novel about Irish words for vaginas and periods. “The Irish language was very vivid through paganism before Catholicism,” Móglaí says. “It’s quite a dirty and filthy language.”

our gigs – that’s why it’s amazing that we’re on the main stage of Leeds.”

Earlier this year at Sundance Film Festival, Sony Pictures bought the rights to Kneecap’s self-titled fictionalised biopic. With an as-yetunannounced general release date, it’s the highest-budget Irish language film ever made and is every bit as bonkers as you’d expect. Though large parts are not, some scenes in the film are true: the band did perform their first gig full of their beloved 3CAG, and Próvaí did get fired as an Irish teacher for an on-stage photo of his bare arse, ‘BRITS OUT’ painted on each cheek.

Other narratives diverge from the band’s lives, but reflect contemporary issues in their world. A brooding Michael Fassbender plays Móglaí’s fictional father, a hardened IRA terrorist who fakes his own death. “Half the kids in my class, their parents were in the IRA,” says Móglaí. “I’m sure they suffered quite an amount when your parents are involved because it causes a lot of troubles and mental health issues. That PTSD is intergenerational.”

Unexpectedly, Kneecap have recently entered their most audacious act yet by suing the British government. Originally approved for a £15,000 grant under the Music Export Growth Scheme (which is jointly funded by the industry and government), it was overruled by the Tories at the last minute, claiming they didn’t want to give taxpayers’ money “to people that oppose the United Kingdom itself”. Kneecap have now legally challenged them for the “unlawful” decision.

“I was loving it,” Mo declares. “Bringing the Tory government to court? You can’t put a price on that for PR.”

“Bringing the Tory government to court? You can’t put a price on that for PR.” - Mo Chara

Now, they’re taking it to new heights in a trilogy of explosive career moves. Their debut album ‘Fine Art’ is to be released this summer. Assisted by Toddla T on production, Kneecap assault the listener with track after track of festival-ready bangers, spanning garage, trance, drum and bass, drill, and boom bap.

The record unleashes several killer collaborations, with Lankum, Fontaines DC’s Grian Chatten and Jelani Blackman among the many guests. “We wanted to show people that a group who rap predominantly in Irish can collab with a Black fellow from London and it works,” Mo explains. “We’re both from backgrounds that have been downtrodden for a long time. Also, Jelani is fucking incredible; he’s criminally underrated.”

The band will also embark on a North American tour and are due at big British festivals such as Reading & Leeds in the summer. “It’s an opportunity for us to inspire people and show them that the language isn’t a barrier,” says Móglaí. “You don’t even think about the Irish language when you’re going to

It’s a pivotal point in the story of both Kneecap and Northern Ireland. Just weeks ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly was finally restored after two years out of action, and the country gained its first ever nationalist First Minister, Michelle O’Neill. It’s one step closer to Kneecap’s vision of a better future for everyone. “People who went to private schools in London shouldn’t be making decisions based on young people’s lives on a completely different island with a completely different understanding of reality,” says Mo. “You’ve had enough of a chance at it, and you failed miserably. It’s time for an alternative.”

Kneecap are some of the most entertaining, provocative and savvy musicians around, and they’re determined to expose as many people as they can to their culture. It’s a cause close to their hearts, but at the end of the day, the rappers also just want to kick up their heels and enjoy the ride. “It’s time enough now that we can all take a step back and joke about it,” says Mo. “It’s been so serious here for so long that we wanted to do that with our music and have a fucking comedic look on it. We all know how to take a joke, we know how to toe the line. We’ll just keep doing what we do.” DIY

DIY 15


The genre-hopping transatlantic trio, gooping their way to the top of this year’s must-see new live acts.

Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photo: Emma Swann.

If you’ve been lucky enough to see Cosmorat live at any of their recent shows, one thing is immediately clear: the international trio are already fully-formed and ready to go. Take their recent set at DIY’s own Hello 2024 live series (flip over the page to read our full write up), where it felt like they could emerge onto just about any size stage and take it in their stride.

And while having a clear sense of identity might sound like an obvious sentiment, truthfully, it’s a skill that not many bands master so early on. “I dunno, I think it’s just honestly years of doing it wrong!” laughs frontwoman Taylor Pollock, when posed with the idea. “It’s like, ‘We’re gonna do it right this time’, you know!?

“It’s gonna sound gross but I like to call it gooping…” she continues, assuring us she’s thankfully not referencing anything related to Gwyneth Paltrow or jade eggs. “We’ve been gooping on this stuff for years. All of us have just gotten to

“We’re in our chrysalis form and, eventually, we will emerge into a butterfly!” - Taylor Pollock

this point of knowing exactly the art that we like, and I have such a strong vision for things musically and lyrically. We call it gooping because we’re in our chrysalis form and, eventually, we will emerge out of our chrysalis into a butterfly!”

Having met her bandmate Olly Liu back in college in Boston “many years before,” Cosmorat is the culmination of having grown up alongside one another, “being in loads of bands, together and apart” over the years. Having both pursued careers in sound engineering after leaving education, the pair soon relocated to London, before recruiting touring drummer Lorenzo Burgio to their ranks last spring. “He constantly says, ‘I feel like I’ve known you for twenty years and I’m sick of it’,” she laughs. “But we love him so much!”

That gooping seems to be paying off. Across the singles they’ve released so far, the outfit’s maximalist, genre-hopping approach has set them apart, with each of their tracks painting a distinctly different picture of their kaleidoscopic world. Whether in the scorched, Sleigh Bells chanting of ‘Backseat Baby’ or the lo-fi guitars of ‘S.A.D.L.U.V’ (which feel like a younger, more hip cousin of The Front Bottoms’ early material), their boundaryless approach is invigorating.

Next, they’ll be building upon these foundations with the release of debut EP ‘Evil Adjacent’: a “fully-formed, fully-fledged document” that expands their sonic and lyrical horizons ever further, while trying to grapple with the tragedy that feels to be around every corner of modern life. “Since I can remember, I’ve had a depression and anxiety disorder, and I think I’ve always taken things in a very ‘the world is ending at all times and I don’t know how to handle it’ way,” Taylor shares.

“I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to get to grips with the fact that I can’t fix everything all of the time, and that it is OK to be happy sometimes,” she nods, pointing towards the EP’s MO of striving to find light in the darkest of places. “Even if something really bad is going on, it’s still okay to go out and have a few drinks with your friends and forget it.” DIY







































DIY 17
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NEU Recommended


Immersively textured grungepop, straight from Ella Smoker’s overactive subconscious.

Her moniker may have been inspired by the overarching emotion of her angsty teen years, but gglum’s output is far from one-note. Having put out two EPs in as many years (2021’s ‘once the edge has worn off’ and 2022’s ‘Weak Teeth’), the artist’s forthcoming debut album envelops the lo-fi bones of her bedroom-pop origins in a haze of scuzzy guitars and electronic flourishes.

LISTEN: All jagged edges and deadpan vocal delivery, ‘SPLAT!’ is a satisfying slice of contemporary garage rock.

SIMILAR TO: Landing in the same effortlessly cool camp as Gretel, Aziya et al.

Vanity Fairy

A vision in sequins.

A cult favourite of London’s live circuit, there’s no denying that Vanity Fairy has put in the hours honing her craft - and what a sight it is to behold. A spectacle in the truest sense of the word, her show spans high camp theatrics, ‘80s-indebted synth-pop, and sultry disco bangers, taking in references from Eurythmics to Eurovision. Unavoidably infectious, and utterly joy-inducing.

LISTEN: Latest single ‘Top of the Pops’ has all the irresistible razzmatazz of the chart show in its prime (minus the lip-syncing, natch).

SIMILAR TO: A truly great Christmas party, distilled down into its purest form.

Good Neighbours

From debut single ‘Home’ to potential that could take them far, far away.

‘Home’, the debut track from Good Neighbours - two actual studio neighbours, Scott and Oli (not Charlene), who first started making music together just last year - sounds like the first time we heard Jungle’s secrecy-shrouded first moves; the sort of surefire massive song that should (and apparently already does) have major labels clamouring at its radio potential. Not that they sound anything like that aforementioned other duo, mind. Instead, ‘Home’’s gritty-yet-shiny production brings to mind Yeasayer, Passion Pit and the like - anthemic indie disco types with hooks to spare.

LISTEN: Join the 37 million people who’ve already streamed ‘Home’.

SIMILAR TO: The (just under) 20-year cycle of American indie influence, coming to roost.

Night Tapes

Shimmering electropop to soundtrack the night.

Having formed after housemates Iiris Vesik, Max Doohan and Sam Richards overheard one another making music in each of their respective rooms and decided to start jamming together, Night Tapes make like their name, and create the kind of shimmering electropop that’s perfect to soundtrack late nights. Their most recent EP - last year’s ‘Perfect Kindness’ - meanders hazily through funky rhythms and mesmeric synths, while their set at our Hello 2024 show last month was packed to the brim.

LISTEN: They’ve kicked off 2024 with new single

SIMILAR TO: Something you’d hear during the life-affirming scene of your favourite TV show.

Sailor Honeymoon

Korean punks making scuzzy hits on their own terms.

With a first single, last year’s ‘Cockroach’, that plays with deadpan talky bits and fuzzy riffs to a gleeful level, and a follow up (‘Bad Apple’) that nods to the dance-punk leanings of Le Tigre, Sailor Honeymoon have already crafted a solid one-two opening punch. That their entire MO is in thrall to allowing the rougher, rawer bits of art to shine without feeling the need to polish them up to a level traditionally associated with Korean music only adds to the defiant attitude rippling through their output. ‘90s manga classic Sailor Moon might have been imbued with magic, but so are its namesakes.

‘Bad Apple’ is an effortlessly cool winner.

SIMILAR TO: The next gen of punk’s most game-changing women.

18 DIY

Hello 2024

Here at DIY, we like to think of our annual Hello... showcase as a must-see in the January calendar for London-based new music seekers. Over four weeks of gigs in partnership with Shoreditch’s Old Blue Last and state51, it’s a chance to catch the festival-slayers and radio mainstays of tomorrow in their earliest stages (and you can rewind back to early shows from Wolf Alice, Dream Wife, Shame and more over the years for proof). Photos: Daniel Landsburgh, Meg Atkinson.

Night 3

The upstairs room of Shoreditch’s Old Blue Last is packed from the off, as East London boy Humane the Moon takes the stage to a rowdy hometown welcome. Last year’s debut ‘Mythomania’ EP - a propulsive four-track release that nods to Bloc Party and Jamie T, with a British rap undercurrent - is Max Hanley and his band’s only output to date, but you wouldn’t know it from the gaggle of whooping followers he’s brought with him; give HtM another six months and he should be growing their number with no problem.

If there’s one new band across the whole of our Hello 2024 series so far that could walk on to any stage, from club to major festival, and kill it without any further development needed, it’s Cosmorat. Hailing from the US but now based in London, there’s a total confidence to frontwoman Taylor Pollock’s on stage presence that’s a joy to watch; pissing about with the crowd and throwing devil fingers between tracks, she makes it all look easy - a sentiment compounded by the playful setlist that veers seamlessly from riffing rock anthems to the bratty playground chants of ‘Backseat Baby’. A little bit Sleigh Bells, a little bit Paramore, Cosmorat have that unteachable je ne sais quoi. We predict big things.

Having already pricked up the ears of Fontaines DC frontman Grian Chatten and Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey - who teamed up to produce his recent EP ‘GOD SAVE THE KING’British-Nigerian Peter Xan is on fiery form, stepping out over his monitors and instructing the crowd to crouch down for an explosive bounce back. Despite hailing from London, his anthemic indie-rock feels like it would find a natural home up north, where the hooks are direct and the messages streamlined. Having already enlisted Rudimental for a 2022 single,

however, Xan is evidently making waves across the cities and genres.

Ahead of the release of forthcoming debut LP ‘Exactly As It Seems’, tonight’s headliners Home Counties have successfully completed the transformation from another Windmill-esque band more befitting of that titular sentiment to a wonkily fun troupe with far more surprises up their sleeves. Since co-vocalist and synth player Lois Kelly joined the band, their pivot to XTC nodding English eccentricity has been amped up; like Sports Team before them, Home Counties revel in the oddities of this fair isle - take rollocking recent single ‘Bethnal Green’ or the high jinx of ‘You Break It, You Bought It’ for example. It’s a far more entertaining road, and one that tonight’s punters are more than happy to dance down with them.

- featuring iconic cinema clips including *those* scenes from Saltburn - makes for a wholly different experience to those we’re usually accustomed to at the Old Blue.

Night 4

Nowadays, it comes as little surprise to hear that an act are yet to release any music and have instead chosen to cut their teeth on the live circuit, so it’s obvious as to why the room is so packed out for tonight’s openers. With no tracks released, and little social media presence - save for an Instagram account without any posts - Ebbb are already nailing the mysterious brief when they step on stage, but they soon blow curious punters away with their darkly-shrouded brand of cacophonous noise.

Taking things into an altogether different sonic direction, London trio Night Tapes soon have the room swooning along to their hazy brand of pop. Already looking poised and polished, there’s a real confidence that flows through the band’s set. Landing somewhere between the warm, funky lilt of Fleetwood Mac and the dreamy, euphoric pop of Robyn and M83, the likes of ‘drifting’ and ‘Selene’ are delicious morsels, while the gathered crowd of dedicated fans throw themselves into the gleeful spirit of their slot.

If one thing is immediately clear about Circe, it’s that nothing is too ambitious when it comes to her performances. Opening proceedings with the iconic TV news segment from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet projected behind her, the order of the day - love, lust, obsession, and overcoming fuckboys - is clearly laid out via a set of tracks that channel the fuzz-drenched melodrama of Sky Ferreira’s early work. The fact that she’s also got an intense but arresting visual backdrop for the whole set up her sleeve

The fact that the name of Hello 2024’s final act quite literally translates to ‘without worry’ feels rather apt, now that January’s almost behind us, but it also doubles as a perfect summation of the carefree musical nature of Sans Soucis. Beginning her headline set tonight with the kind of show-stopping vocal performance that has the whole room hushed in anticipation, the talents of the Italo-Congolese Giulia Grispino are awe-inspiring. But as impressive as she is at hitting the high notes, she’s also more than up for a party, with her set soon slinking into infectiously dancier territory. That her songs also boast a series of powerful messages - whether about society’s views on immigrants, or the perception of periods (‘I’m Lost Around You’)makes it all the more cathartic; it’s a truly fitting way to see off Hello 2024. Lisa Wright, Sarah Jamieson


20 DIY NEU Live

Cruush cast a spell at The Social

We were also joined by Al Costelloe and SOMOH at the February edition of our monthly gig series with Parallel Lines. Photos: Emma Swann.

It’s been a minute since our last One Way Or Another gig - presented in partnership with the good folks at Parallel Lines - but, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Back at the end of last year, we welcomed the likes of The Itch and Cosmorat to two of the capital’s hidden gem venues, and this week saw that trend continue with a turn at Soho’s The Social.

Kicking things off is Al Costelloe - having been one half of indie duo Big Deal and played with Superfood as their live bassist, she’s no stranger to a stage, and graces this one alongside two band members she lovingly refers to as “some men”. Though her lead guitarist is unfortunately AWOL, she nevertheless delivers a set that’s equal parts delicate and determined, recalling the velveteen vocals and emotional heft of ‘Crushing’-era Julia Jacklin. It proves a good opportunity to road-test some unreleased material destined for her next project, before Al sees herself out with the choice one-two of debut EP title track ‘So Neurotic’ (a relatable rumination on inherited angst) and ‘Badmouth’, a satisfying yet subtle middle finger to a bitter ex.

Stripping things back even further to just a bass and an amped up acoustic guitar, SOMOH is next to enchant the swelling crowd with what she tells us is actually her first live show in a while. Not that you can tell; she swaps between lighthearted onstage patter (“does anyone in the room have mummy issues?”) and tender balladry with ease, with the recent cut ‘Man’ - inspired by the sight of a straight couple holding hands on the tube - proving a particular highlight. Without the backing of a full band, her brand of boygenius-adjacent confessional indie has nowhere to hide, but it doesn’t need to - instead, it simply makes the enclosed subterranean space feel even more intimate.

For the night’s final third, Manchester quartet cruush offer up a mesmeric concoction of shimmering guitar lines and pedal-adorned bass, merging the richly layered shoegaze soundscapes of Slowdive with Ellie Rowsell’s feather-light vocal touch. The captivated audience are treated to renditions of recent singles ‘Headspace’ and ‘As She Grows’ - both already fan favourites, it seems - as well as previews of what to expect from the band’s forthcoming second EP ‘Nice Things Now, All The Time’ (due to arrive in April). Closing with one such unreleased cut, ‘Cotton Wool’, cruush hold us in the palm of their hand until the very last hint of reverb has faded and we’re forced to return to our senses, as if waking from a collective dream.

Fancy discovering your new favourite artist? Dive into the cream of the new music crop below.

mary in the junkyard - Ghost

A Windmill staple who’ve been putting in the work collecting fans through buzzy live shows, experimental indie trio mary in the junkyard finally shared their debut single ‘Tuesday’ last October. Now, they’ve followed it up with ‘Ghost’the one, according to their Instagram, “that goes oooweeooweeoo”. Over a backdrop of warm, fuzzy guitars, vocalist Clari Freeman-Taylor does indeed go “oooweeooweeoo”, howling for the attention of a lover. It’s a charming, woozy second instalment from a band certain to be the next big thing from the South London scene.

Amie Blu - Everything About Her

Following her ‘crumbs in my bed’ EP released last year, Amie Blu has returned with ‘everything about her’. Having gained attention ahead of its release after having teased it on her Instagram, the full version does not disappoint; continuing the soulful, emotion-baring nature of Blu’s previous output, but with a more upbeat twist, the track is driven by groovy synths as she tells the tale of being hurt by someone who she thought understood her past (“you know just how it feels / but you do it anyway)”.

Hex Girlfriend - Café Culture

The London-based duo Hex Girlfriend, concocted by Noah Yorke and James Knott, have found an intriguing nook for themselves – somewhere between the dark thumps of heavy rock and the sweaty oontz of club rave beats. Their latest outing ‘Café Culture’ leans closer towards the latter, where scattered drums writhe beneath elevated vocals for a vibe that verges on indie-pop. It’s a shoulder-shimmying banger, and proof that great things can come from the unexpected merging of genres.

Gurriers - Des Goblin

Propelled by a relentless, electrifying riff that resonates almost like a swarm of bees inside your mind, Gurriers’ latest single ‘Des Goblin’ is perhaps the five-piece’s strongest release to date. Intense instrumentation allows the band to lean into their dance influences, and is complimented by the raw, expressive vocals of Dan Hoff - doused in honesty and integrity, they discuss the effects of climate change, war, and self-obsession. Already a fan favourite in the band’s live sets, this is a track that will leave listeners breathless and hungry for more.

DIY 21 UPDATE YOUR EARS! Find the Neu Playlist on Spotify:
“There’s something really lazy about calling something ‘sad girl’ music.”

Etta Marcus

22 DIY
Having forcefully broken down her own musical boundaries on recent mini-album ‘The Death of Summer & Other Promises’, the South Londoner’s future is wide open. Words: Lisa Wright.

Etta Marcus is wheeling off a list of touchstones that have impacted the richly evocative storytelling of recent mini album ‘The Death of Summer & Other Promises’: eight tracks that run the gamut from hefty, riffy catharsis (‘Theatre’) to delicate musings on ageing and bodily deterioration (‘Fruit Flies’). There are the all-time great pillars of songwriting - Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell - and their current day counterparts: Fiona Apple, Arctic Monkeys, Pulp. Lorde gets a shout out as queen of the “dark pop” contingent. And then, there’s Fountains of Wayne.

“I don’t think they get the respect they deserve!” the 23-year-old Brixton native laughs. “People know them for ‘Stacy’s Mom’ and that is their worst song. They do a thing perfectly where they build stories that are just fully made-up, but I feel so invested in the characters that the emotion is still there. That had a big influence on me starting to write music. When I started, I felt very uncomfortable and embarrassed in writing lyrics because I didn’t have any personal experiences to write about. I was 16. I just went to school and that was it. So [seeing them I thought], I could do that - I could write stories and maybe that could be my introduction into songwriting.”

Harnessing the power of Wayne’s world, Etta would, however, face another challenge along the road to creative freedom. Having enrolled at prestigious London conservatoire Trinity Laban to study jazz, she soon began to come up against the school’s purist values with regards to what was and most certainly was not artistically allowed. She recalls being told not to bring up modern, experimental saxophonist (and former Trinity pupil) Nubya Garcia in class “like she was Voldemort or something. She who cannot be named!”

The school’s rumour mill later creaked into action when a whisper went around that Etta had started writing - whisper it - Not Jazz. “Heinous! How could she!” she laughs. “That was bizarre, obviously. It was all a bit judgemental and I didn’t like the idea that you couldn’t talk to someone about the new Lorde album or something without feeling like they think that you’re an idiot. I didn’t like the conformity, I didn’t like the restriction of it.” And so, Etta packed up her bags and left after a year.

Looking back now, the decision was both an objectively wise one, and a marker of Etta’s determination to truly discover what makes her tick - without any external help. ‘The Death of Summer…’ comes after two groundwork-laying EPs - 2022’s ‘View From The Bridge’ and last year’s ‘Heart-Shaped Bruise’. Yet while longterm collaborators Matt Maltese and producer Josh Scarbrow are still involved, this time around Etta knew she had to push herself to the fore. A release that wears its yearnings and big emotions readily on its sleeve, it emerged in the wake of a year of frustration; “a dilemma with autonomy and coming to terms with how I write,” she explains. “I felt like I needed other people’s opinions as a crutch. I couldn’t trust my own instincts and I was getting so frustrated with myself, feeling like there was a lack of identity in the stuff I was writing.” Those first two EPs found Etta being pigeonholed in ways that didn’t help the situation; Google any article on her from that period and you’ll see some combination of the words “sad girl pop” in the headline.

“I got really fed up with that. It felt really one-dimensional and a really easy label to put on some music, and the word ‘sad’ is so one-dimensional as well,”

she says. “I think it’s doing music in general a disservice when people describe it like that, especially women - there’s something really lazy about it. I remember listening to a Björk interview where she basically goes, ‘I can be smart, I can be dumb, I can be sexy, I can be pop, I can be punk etc etc’. And it’s such a simple statement to say, but I listened to that and was like, ‘This is what I need’.”

And so, with a little nudge in the right direction from her Icelandic fairy godmother, Etta headed to Whitstable during its “isolated and slightly spooky” off season to write by herself. One of the first days there yielded not only the defiant statement piece of ‘Theatre’ (“I wanna be loved, I wanna be loved / Like right out of a movie where I am the star”), but the title and world that the mini album would live in as a whole. From there, says Etta, everything began to fit into place. “For me, it’s the ‘...& Other Promises’ which is really visceral,” she says. “It’s not really clear as to what that means on purpose. The last summer I had, I was having a lot of new experiences. And then when it came to an end there was growing up, and coming to terms with womanhood, and all of that nice, juicy stuff…”

Writing about the nice, juicy stuff is when Etta is at her finest; a collection that thrives in the visceral imagery of lust and longing, her latest work has moments that could be filed next to Lana and others next to Wolf Alice - both artists with a direct connection to the grittier parts of the heart. And it’s a voice that’s winning her supporters across the music listener spectrum. Take a snapshot of an Etta Marcus crowd and you’ll see a true mix, from giddy young devotees down the front to impressed middle-aged musos at the back.

“There’s this gradual ageing effect from the really young people, who are usually girls or from the queer community, and then you go further back and there’s older, appreciative 6Music dads,” she laughs. “I don’t know how that’s happened, but I think it’s really cool cos I also kind of see myself as that. I see myself as a 6Music dad sometimes, and I also see myself as a gay boy, so I can relate to both!” DIY



The original daft punks are back with their 14th studio album ‘Saviors’ and a renewed fire in their bellies. Lighting the torch paper once more to set the modern political landscape ablaze, there’s no band who do it quite like Green Day.



“If you have this idea that rock stars are not supposed to be political or provocative, you really really have no idea what music is to begin with.”

hereas ‘Dookie’ changed the course of their lives for the first time, bringing a new brand of palatable punk to the masses, ‘American Idiot’ marked a serious sea change in Green Day’s history. At a time when President George Bush was waging war on the Middle East, Billie’s rebel core took the band political. They started dressing differently – black shirts, red tie, thick black eyeliner – and made a rock opera about the state of “subliminal mind-fuck America”. None of their previous albums had matched the commercial success of ‘Dookie’, but ‘American Idiot’ was a global hit, introducing Green Day to a new generation of disaffected youth.

“I remember just having copious amounts of fun all the time,” recalls Tré of the mid-’00s. “We were together a lot. We did a lot of, you know, extracurricular activities between the actual recording. A lot of goofiness.”

For Billie, it was a time when his drinking and prescription drug use first started to get out of hand. He got sober in 2012 after an on-stage rant prompted a stint in rehab, but in 2017 had started drinking again, at first manageably, but soon things inevitably took a turn. Today he has “no relationship with alcohol” having been sober again for a few years. ‘Saviors’ track ‘Dilemma’ is about the decision to kick the bottle. “I don’t want to be a dead man walking,” goes the chorus.

“There was no big drama around getting sober this time, I was just over it,” he says. “The older you get, the more time means to you. When you wake up sober and you hear birds singing or chirping in the yard, it’s the greatest sound in the world. But when you’re hungover, it’s the worst thing that you could ever hear. I like being sober. I feel stronger now about it. A lot of people that I know are not drinking anymore because they’re just over it. There’s other aspects of the addiction where it’s like, once I start I keep going, I don’t have that off switch. I wrote ‘Dilemma’ while I was drinking. It turned into one of the most honest songs I ever wrote.”

Since dropping ‘American Idiot’ back in 2004, Green Day have maintained the outspoken, political edge that made that record’s name. On New Year’s Eve 2023, while making a US TV show appearance, the band changed the lyric to that album’s title track from “I’m not a part of a redneck agenda” to “I’m not part of a MAGA agenda”. It wasn’t the first time the band had made a swipe at Trump but it ruffled a few feathers. “Green Day goes from raging against the machine to milquetoastedly raging for it,” tweeted (or X-ed) Elon Musk, while right-wing TV channel Fox News also lambasted the band, with one commentator professing, “People are so sick of being preached at about politics from rock bands.”

“I was surprised, frankly,” Billie says of the response. “Not to give away the secrets of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, but we pre-recorded it earlier in December and on New Year’s Eve I was actually doing an event in LA with my covers band for a chimpanzee sanctuary called Project Chimps. The next day I woke up to a thousand texts, my brother was like, ‘I’m so proud of what you said – you’re not just hiding behind a keyboard’, and I was thinking, ‘Did I say something about the chimpanzees…?’ And then I remembered I changed that one word; that’s how sensitive people are. I meant what I said, but I’ve been saying it for the last six years. I’m glad it was effective. But if you have this idea that rock stars are not supposed to be political or provocative, you really really have no idea what music is to begin with.”

“It’s Green Day’s job to grow and try new things, but you can’t come back to something in an honest way if you never left.”
DIY 29
“When everything else in the world is going to shit, the three of us can get in a room and have a language of our own. Everybody else should be so lucky.”

There’s a depressing irony to the fact that so much of ‘American Idiot’ could so easily be about the politics of today, but Green Day have always had a timelessness to their music. Even with ‘Dookie’, Tré insists the goal was to “make a record in 1994 that would sound good in 10 years time.”

For a while, when Trump was elected, Billie veered away from political commentary, seeing it as “low hanging fruit”. But on ‘Saviors’ he’s more direct, referencing very real concerns of modern-day America such as the homelessness epidemic [‘The American Dream Is Killing Me’], mass shootings [‘Living In The ‘20s’] and the opioid crisis [‘Strange Days Are Here To Stay’].

“It came more natural this time,” he says of the songs’ political leanings. “In the States and particularly in California, we have so many houseless people that are literally living in tent city; we’ve become this sort of shantytown. I haven’t seen anything quite like this since driving through Bangkok. There’s a massive fentanyl crisis that’s going on here and there’s Defund The Police, which is a terrible slogan. I understand what they’re going for but it just doesn’t make any sense. I think about information that we get and how I don’t trust the majority of things that I’ll see on social media – people’s takes on the political climate right now – because it’s a lot less reporting and more opinion that just gets [flung] around by the algorithm.

“I stopped putting political stuff on my Instagram because I wanted to create more community and not just be a parrot of propaganda,” he continues. “When it comes to certain social media and algorithms that people are on, it just causes this bigger separation. Cable news is awful. A lot of things that I write about are just things that you hear on the street. In ‘Strange Days Are Here To Stay’ when it says, ‘Everyone is racist / And the Uber’s running late’, it’s combining these two things that have nothing to do with each other. It’s like that scroll in our brain, the swipe-right world that we live in right now.”

Green Day’s platform in part comes thanks to the DIY punk community from which they were raised. Their first ever show as teenagers was at notable Berkeley punk venue Gilman St in 1986 – a place who famously banned them when they “sold out” and signed to a major (but welcomed the band back to play a one-off show in 2015). With grassroots venues being such a huge part of Green Day’s story, it’s hard to see so many of them under threat.

“It’s really difficult for mid-level bands right now,” says Billie. “They’re not able to pay their rent. Streaming works well for us because we’re a massive band, but to try to be able to sustain a living off of being a band that has 100,000 followers is nearly impossible. And then there’s gas prices, hotel rooms, venues that are taking a percentage of the merch – it’s just not sustainable. There are great venues like The Smell [in Los Angeles] and Gilman that are volunteer-run which is a great thing. I hope more of that pops up in the future.”

It’s hard to imagine doing anything for thirty-five years and still enjoying it. But Green Day seem to still have as much fire in their bellies as when they started out. On their upcoming tour the band are bringing out old Gilman Street pals Rancid, along with The Linda Lindas; a group who represent a whole new wave of punk.

“I want to see a new generation of bands making their own scene,” says the frontman. “That’s what my experience was. I loved all of the classic punk rock from CBGBs and ‘70s UK punk. But towards the late ‘80s, I also wanted to be a part of something new, which was playing with bands like Operation Ivy and Rancid – that was my scene. So for new bands, I want to see them appreciating the past, but also creating new fanzines, new bands and backyard parties. I see it now a lot, and it’s really exciting.”

“This is the beginning of another era. Not to burn Taylor Swift, but she can’t have that word!” jokes Tré. “But it is. It’s a whole new time for Green Day. It’s great to look back and be grateful for the 30 years of ‘Dookie’ and 20 years of ‘American Idiot’. But I see this as sort of a whole new thing. I’m just really proud of it. The record’s sensational.”

THE TIME IS NOW GreenDayonthekeytostaying


Billie: “It’s all about inspiration. When I write something I’m indifferent about, I don’t really listen to it. It’s about being a fan of your own music and being proud of what you’ve done. A song like ‘Corvette Summer’ is just an earworm that you can’t get out of your head.”

Mike: “There’s still something to be said about the oversimplification of four chords and the truth. It’s why we live, it’s what keeps us vital and keeps life relevant.”

Tré: “One thing not to do is jump on fads or bandwagons. Don’t try and chase an audience – make music for yourself first. And then if the audience likes it, then great. And pay attention to the mix. You want to be able to turn it up as loud as you can, whether you’re in a club or in the car, and it not sound shrill. You want it to rock out, not choke out.”

“For some reason, we’re always able to create the next era and it has become so generational. I think it’s the energy of the music, the way we play together,” ponders Billie. “It’s me, Mike and Tré – our own characters that all shine.” “We believe in the power of rock‘n’roll,” adds Mike. “When everything else in the world is going to shit, the three of us can get in a room and have a language of our own. Everybody else should be so lucky.”

With a sold-out stadium tour this summer that promises to play ‘Dookie’ in full as well as give ‘Saviors’ its first proper airing, there’s plenty to look forward to. “We just made the best rock record of the year. We’re also the best live act you can see. Not to mention our incredible good looks and how nice we are,” quips Tré.

All now in their early fifties, Green Day are hardly elder statesmen of rock when you pit them against a band like The Rolling Stones, but they’re no young bucks either. Does the idea of still rocking out at 80 like Jagger appeal? “Oh yeah! He’s a handsome devil. A fine wine,” chuckles Tré. Billie pauses for thought. “I would like to be doing it that long, yeah,” he nods. “I think I’m a lifer when it comes to making music. You never know what’s going to happen but every morning I wake up and I’m like, ‘Yep, still alive. Let’s have band practice.’”

‘Saviors’ is out now via Reprise. DIY

Putting sassiness and self-worth firmly back on the pop menu, Caity Baser might still be a student in the school of life, but on new mixtape ‘Still Learning’, she’s thriving. Words: Sarah Jamieson.

aity Baser doesn’t like to do things by halves. Take the fact that she recently returned from an extended trip to Los Angeles and, despite her lack of sleep, then proceeded to move into her brand new flat in London and release storming new single ‘I’m A Problem’ within the space of a few hours.

Even today, as she sits down in the bar of a Central London hotel, Caity’s in the middle of another hectic 24 hours. Fresh from attending a London Fashion Week show in the morning, she’s got plans to sit down with her label - an imprint of major label EMI - later today, before heading for another LFW peek this evening. “I’ve always been like this,” she grins. “I live at a million miles an hour. Even if I have time to stop and think, I don’t. I’m just like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!’”

It’s this infectious lust for life that’s helped the 21-year-old to stand out so brightly from the crowd so far. After first breaking through on TikTok, racking up over a million views back in August 2020 with the reflective ‘Average Student’, the star has barely looked back. Since sharing debut mixtape ‘Lil CB’ back in 2021, she’s gone on to sign her record deal, feature on tracks by Sigala and Joel Corry, and release last year’s cheeky, whipsmart EP ‘Thanks For Nothing, See You Never’, alongside a packed year of festival slots and headline shows.

Has she even really had a chance to take it all in yet? “I think at New Year’s,” she nods. “You know when you have a sit down reflection, when you’re getting ready to go out? I was just thinking about everything and I was like, ‘Fuck!’,” she half-yells. “I’ve really done a lot! Festival season was mental, I did my first ever tour, I got nominated for a BRIT! Just mental.”

Drawing comparison to the likes of Lily Allen and Kate Nash, Caity’s frank, observational lyricism and knack for sassy putdowns (recent track ‘I Love Making Bad Boys Cry’ packs the zinger: “You’re so fucking dumb for thinking I’m the one / Last night was just some fun”) has won her legions of fans - and got her into trouble all at the same time. But despite some of her songs ruffling a few feathers with exes early on, she’s now firmly in her IDGAF era. “I make silly songs, and then people are like, ‘What the fuck?!’” she giggles, before fluttering her eyelashes innocently. “I’m just speaking about what happened! Sorr-eeee!

“I’m at this point in my life right now…” she continues, pondering. “I don’t know if it’s my age or anything, but I just really don’t care. If things go wrong - relationships, for example - I genuinely am like, ‘If it’s meant to happen, it’s gonna happen in that way and I don’t care’.” It’s a sentiment that’s embodied best in that aforementioned new number ‘I’m A Problem’, a larger-than-life song that pulls no punches in its unapologetic message of embracing fun and loudness.

“I’ve grown up with all of that shit: ‘You’re too loud’, ‘Caity, you’re so annoying’, ‘You’re so in people’s faces’,” she explains, “and now I’m like, ‘Yeah! I’m too loud but you’re too quiet, babe! You are for-get-ta-ble!’

That’s what I was trying to channel in the song; two of these to the world,” she raises her middle fingers, nodding to the song’s infectiously catchy bridge (“Put your middle fingers up / Say that we don’t give a fuck”).

“When I sing it, I honestly see the whole crowd go literally feral. That’s what I went for when I was making it: I just wanted to empower people.”

It’s with this same defiant spirit that Caity is marching forward into her next chapter. Aptly-titled ‘Still Learning’, her new mixtape sees the singer simultaneously harnessing her brazenness and offering up a vulnerable look inside her world. She explains that the release came as a response to a year where she felt like she was on autopilot; “I’d

“ I live at a million miles an hour. Even if I have time to stop and think, I don’t.”

go into sessions and make songs and think, ‘Cool, it’s a song’,” she says, with an unspoken ‘that’ll do’ hanging in the air.

“I was almost on autopilot that whole time,” she remembers of a turbo-charged summer that saw her play a festival basically every weekend, “and I felt drained creatively in a way. Normally I’m so sure of what the message is and what I’m trying to get across, but then I realised I had no idea. I was making myself upset; I was confused and I was sad.

Then I realised, no, I don’t [have to] have it all figured out. I’m literally 21 years old. Just because I’m going out and doing all of this mad shit does not mean that I know all the answers because I definitely do not.

“I was going through a lot of stuff with relationships and friends,” she continues. “I was a bit of a dick, they were a bit of a dick. I was just all over the place. Then I sat down and was like, ‘Well, maybe that’s the whole point of what I’m trying to say’. I still don’t know what I’m doingI’m still learning. Ha ha ha!” she winks. And so, ‘Still Learning’ became a project about exactly these ideas - development and growth, and figuring things out as you go along - all presented in Caity’s customarily bright and inviting style, with artwork that sees the singer donning a dress made of stitched-together L-plates.

In keeping with the mixtape’s transitional period MO, the tracks traverse ideas including breaking habits (‘Pretty Boys’), relationship fails (‘Grow Up’), and embracing the big old ride of life (‘The Plot’). Then, there’s the project’s more unguarded highlight, ‘Oh Well’. “I’m literally getting goosebumps even thinking about it, what is wrong with me?” she enthuses at its mention. “I literally love that song so much. I made ‘Oh Well’’s chorus in the last five minutes of a session, and I went back in the next day and wrote the whole thing. It all just sort of went ‘BLARAAGH’,” she splurges, sticking out her tongue.

A track that sees her turn her trademark honesty inward, it’s a song that gets to the heart of so many young people’s fears. “This was when I was going through my falling out with everybody, everybody hating me, me hating the world thing,” she says. “And you know what? I needed it. I felt angry and sad, and all the stuff I don’t feel very often - and when I feel it, it’s fucking shit - but then I went in and wrote ‘Oh Well’ and it felt like I was back again; it really pulled me back.”

Along with ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ - a track not at all connected to the 2022 movie, but one about “when you fall in love with the wrong person and it feels like the most awful, terrifying thing ever” - it’s this more open side of ‘Still Learning’ that puts the release’s manifesto front and centre.

“Since I announced it I’ve had loads of messages from people of all ages going, ‘That never changes, you will always learn as you grow up’,” she muses. “I think that’s a really important message to tell everybody: no matter how old you get or what you have, it doesn’t mean that you have all the answers. And if you don’t have the answers, don’t be mean to yourself because why would you want to?! It’d be so boring if you knew what was going to happen next!”

One thing that’s locked in her diary’s near future, though, is Caity’s next run of headline shows. “Talking about it is giving me heart palpitations, I’m so excited!” she squees. “When I get on stage I’m just like a little kid again. I can’t contain it. I can’t try and be cool or swaggy, I’m just like, ‘Wow, this is fucking class and I’m buzzing!’”

Taking in the biggest rooms of her career so far - with a night at Hammersmith’s iconic Apollo capping the tour off - it’s set to be an all-singing, all-dancing affair which she already can’t wait to share with her fans. “My best friends!” she lights up at the mention of them.

“L-O-V-E. I went my whole life pretty much, until I was about 18, feeling like everybody hated me. I had a horrible time in school and in college. I wasn’t badly bullied or anything but I just hated school, I didn’t fit in, it wasn’t for me. All I wanted to do was go to the music rooms and sing, and college was the same; I didn’t get along with people. Then lockdown happened, I posted one video, and I was opened up to this beautiful community of people who are just like me too.”

Turns out, if you open yourself up to life and let yourself learn along the way, some pretty great things can clearly happen.

‘Still Learning’ is out 12th March via EMI / Chosen Music. DIY

“ I’ve grown up with all of that shit: ‘You’re too loud’. And now I’m like, ‘You’ re too quiet, babe!’ ”











































DIY 35
main stage the barn klub c slope
main stage the barn klub c slope
main stage the barn klub c slope
main stage the barn klub c slope


Over the course of six albums, Everything Everything have confirmed their position as art-rock’s premier futurists. However for their seventh trick, ‘Mountainhead’ sees the band retreating from the technological precipice and seeking (relative) simplicity.

Everything Everything find themselves in a familiar position ahead of the release of their seventh studio album: ahead of the curve. From the outset of a career that now spans seventeen years, they’re a band who’ve always felt like futurists. Sonically, they mark that out with their use of electronics and willingness to play with form; thematically, with eccentric lyricism that refracts the world around them through their own oblique prism.

Futurism is one thing, however clairvoyance is quite another. And, from 2015’s ‘Get to Heaven’, the Manchester outfit have developed an uncanny knack for anticipating the Western world’s direction of political travel. That record tackled demagogy and autocratic thirst for power a year before the Brexit vote or the election of Donald Trump. On 2017 follow-up ‘A Fever Dream’, they reckoned with the interpersonal toll of the current climate, pondering the cost of it to human relationships.

‘Re-Animator’ followed in the autumn of 2020. Its songs, rich with appreciation for the simple beauty of the natural world in the face of existential threats, were written in 2019, months before the mass infection point of the pandemic. And then, on their last album, they moved onto the next frontier in modern anxiety: artificial intelligence. It’s indicative of how quickly that particular issue has permeated the news cycle over the last twelve months that when ‘Raw Data Feel’ was released in 2022, frontman Jonathan Higgs’ use of a bespoke algorithm to process his lyrical ideas was treated as a techie curio; now, in 2024, it looks like yet another example of Everything Everything having one foot planted in tomorrow.

Accordingly, they’ve already moved on, breaking new ground with new album ‘Mountainhead’. But as has become usual, Jonathan finds himself fielding questions on how well, already, the band’s last record has aged. “The interest in AI has gone absolutely haywire, but that’s the nature of these things, isn’t it?” he says, looking suitably ultramodern - decked out in white, hair bleached blonde, and speaking from a shiny, red-walled pod of a room

“i don’t think it’d necessarily be a bad thing if every number one single for the rest of time was written by ai…” - jonathan higgs

in their label’s London offices. “Things like this increase exponentially, and to do what we did last time, it already feels a bit passé.”

Having already worked in tandem with AI, he’s able to reflect on its implications even-handedly. “I see a lot of fear around it,” he says. “A lot of high emotion. Particularly when it comes to art versus the machine; people become very distressed at the thought of computers creating emotional responses. From my experience, I don’t personally think it’s scary. I don’t think it’d necessarily be a bad thing if every number one single for the rest of time was written by AI, because they’re only going to get to that position if they give humans the best feelings out there, you know? The currency is emotion, and the proof will be in the eating of the pudding.

“If Ed Sheeran were to sit down and write 27 different wedding songs,” he goes on by way of explanation, “and that’s just because he needs a wedding song, not because he himself is getting married, then he’d just be trying to manipulate emotion in the same way that I do, and that’s not actually any different to what AI does. It’s just that it has the inhuman ability to draw from every song ever written and put it into a new one. It’s the collating and collecting of human experience to create a new piece of art, which is not so different to what most songwriters do. It’s just that it’s on a scale that’s incomprehensible, with no artist at the centre of it.”

AI, Higgs says, is a tool to be harnessed; like so much modern technology, it promises to be a good servant and a bad master. “It opened up some philosophical questions for me, but it doesn’t feel like a revolution.” Still, he and his bandmates - guitarist Alex Robertshaw, bassist Jeremy Pritchard and drummer Michael Spearman - chose not to tackle those questions head on this time around, instead channeling the spirit of the Everything Everything of old for ‘Mountainhead’. “Every record we make, we talk about going back to basics,” explains Jonathan. “You know, ‘Let’s just use guitars, man’. And it never happens. But a lot of these songs came together all at once, which IS how we used to do things.”

This, he says, was for operational reasons - they had a hard deadline to hit after the pandemic threw off their release rhythm. He talks about having simplified his thematic approach, but ‘Mountainhead’ remains an avowedly conceptual work, one that imagines an alternative society in which those on the lowest rung of the ladder are forced to work constantly to keep those at the mountain’s peak in the manner to which they are accustomed. It is not, we suggest, a particularly difficult world to envision in 2024.

“Well, I think this time, I designed the concept stuff to be as simple as I could stomach,” he answers. “I wanted one big idea, one big image that everyone would understand straight away - so whatever’s happening on the record, whatever I’m elaborating on, it’s all under the shadow of this huge metaphor. If you get too bogged down in the details of building a world, it sucks the fun out of writing, and drags everything into feeling like homework.”

Counterintuitive as it might seem for an album that’s loomed over by the monolithic spectre of end-stage capitalism, the streamlining of the band’s

“More and more, I find myself drawn to simpler and more honest music.”
- Jonathan Higgs

musical and thematic approaches has made for what might be their breeziest and most light-footed album to date. “People are on the same page now, in terms of what I was trying to say politically in the past,” says Jonathan. “So I can talk about things that are bigger than just the Tories or Trump. Politics has got to such an insane place in this country now that [those ideas are] inescapable, and you only have to throw a couple of bones in the right direction for people to know what you mean. You don’t have to dig too deep into it, because you’d just be adding another twig to an already hugely raging bonfire. So, the metaphor of the mountain doesn’t inform every song on the album; it’s more of a mist that’s hanging over it.”

Instead, he repeatedly touches upon the idea of modern isolation to tie together his personal ruminations and his outward-facing worldview, whilst loosening things up musically to better reflect his and his bandmates’ growing appreciation of pop simplicity. “I don’t think we have a burning desire to make music that alienates people. Not because we’re worried about how it would go over, but more because we wouldn’t want to hear it ourselves.

I don’t listen to as much stuff that’s really out there as I did when I was younger. More and more, I find myself drawn to simpler and more honest music. One person and a guitar and the right words can be the most powerful thing in the world, and you’re never going to top it no matter how many twiddly bits and weird time signatures you throw at it.”

As such, ‘Mountainhead’ is replete with more immediate melodies and sharper hooks than ever before. “There’s loads of places where we’re just

having quite a lot of fun. In and of itself, that’s kind of new territory for us, just allowing ourselves to enjoy it and be up front about what we like the sound of,” says Jonathan. “I mean, a track like ‘Your Money, My Summer’, that kind of sounds like the Chili Peppers in a way that we never would have permitted ourselves to in the past, for various stupid reasons. But now, I think what we’re looking for as artists is really pure, really honest communication, and transfer of emotion. Basically, we all love a good pop song, and we’re not going to struggle against that - we’ve embraced it.”

‘Mountainhead’ is out now via BMG. DIY

“Part of growing up for me is just learning how to have fun.”

�� all about that bass

Having cut her teeth as the alt-pop A-list’s favourite bassist-for-hire, BLU DETIGER is stepping into her main character era with debut album ‘All I Ever Want Is Everything’. Words: Lisa Wright. Photo: Emma Swann.

lu DeTiger has a piece of CBGBs’ wall tucked away in her house. A stolen relic of the iconic New York punk venue, the now-26 year old took it when she was playing a show there, aged 9, possessed with a sense of business savvy not usually found in the average pre-teen. “I knew it was gonna shut down, so I thought I’d sell it on eBay later…” she recalls with a chuckle.

Plans for that particular sale clearly got scrapped along the way once it became evident that those wildly early shows - played as part of the School of Rock program - were only the beginning of her musical bucket list. But the thought process nonetheless feels indicative of a wider personality trait; since she was in single digits, Blu has been looking forward and

Until recently, it’s as the pop elite’s go-to session bass player that Blu’s been best known. You might have seen her backing Bleachers on their Saturday Night Live performance, or plucking the strings behind Olivia Rodrigo on her ‘SOUR’ documentary. She’s become the young, cool, accessible cheerleader for the instrument, happy to put tutorials online and answer questions in the hope of providing the relatable female figure that she lacked herself. “Like, I don’t know if I would have messaged [ex-Pixies and Breeder bassist] Kim Deal…” she notes of her attempts to remove the cooler-than-thou artist-fan boundaries. “Having an instrument when you’re really young and having a passion is just the best way to grow up, so if I can help that in any way that’d be sick.”

But, as this month’s debut album ‘All I Ever Want Is Everything’ attests, the musician’s ambitions have never settled on being a background character. “I rode the bass wave but I always knew I wanted to be an artist and put out my own music,” she nods. “I’ve played for other people, but it’s such a different feeling having people be there for you. It’s like a whole different era of my life, like post-glow up where now I’m the artist and this is happening and this is the

he album finds Blu confidently striding into the spotlight, lassoing her musical past - the club-adjacent beats of ‘Cut Me Down’ that nod to her stint as an underage club DJ; the chanty backing vocals of Olivia-esque highlight ‘Dangerous Game’ - into a wide-spanning whole. A true musician, her touch is all over the project right through to the production, but now she’s also just as comfortable being the front-and-centre star (today’s look is a vintage leather catsuit) as she is the self-confessed “nerd” in the studio.

“I like main character music. I like walking down the street and feeling empowered and confident. I love

being bratty and sassy, and making music that makes you feel like a badass,” she grins. “There’s a line in ‘Expensive Money’ where I mention I’m in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and I love that it’s in audio forever. I did that track with Chappell Roan and the day we wrote it I’d just been told I’d made the list. I was telling her I’d told my ex-boyfriend and he didn’t give a fuck, and I was so MAD that this guy I was dating didn’t tell me it was cool so I thought, ‘Fuck it. Put it in the track and it’ll be there forever’.”

A coming-of-age record that tackles the head-fuck time since a series of pandemic TikTok videos thrust her into the public eye, ‘All I Ever Want…’ takes a different approach to most similarly-themed releases, largely prioritising the excitement that comes from a world of opportunity opening up in front of you. “It’s totally not the existential growing up [type of record], which is what I wanted,” she says. “A big part for me was the freedom aspect of learning that you can do what you want; realising that there’s so many ups and downs in life, but learning from the downs. Part of growing up for me is just learning how to have fun.”

There are still moments of vulnerability, but they’re dealt with in a knowing way, such the wavy bass-led ‘Sad Girl Machine’, which embraces life’s wobbles with “Lana playing on the stereo”. “If you’re feeling really shitty, that’s cool because now you know how to sit in that and learn from that. If you’re feeling amazing, that’s awesome too,” she says. “It’s about the range of everything and being your own best friend through it all; the record’s about all of it.”

Yet while the full range of human emotion and experience is up for grabs on the singer’s debut, perhaps the biggest lesson we can take from Blu DeTiger is the confidence that she emanates from knowing her craft and putting in the hours. Having waited to step forward until she “really had something to say”, ‘All I Ever Want…’ is the next move in an already-impressive line of them that started in childhood and never looked back.

“It’s been a long journey but it was necessary. And I got better as a songwriter and as a producer; I just got way better,” she says. “I wanna be huge but I’m not gonna make Ariana Grande music, I’m just gonna make what I want to listen to. I wanna bring the pop fans to my stuff and bring them in - not cater the music to what’s popular, but cater what’s popular to what I’m doing. Bring the people into my side, because I’m gonna make what I wanna make.”

‘All I Ever Want Is Everything’ is out 29th March via Capitol. DIY

DIY 41
“A lot of things I talk about on this record are sad or dark, but there’s an air of forgiveness.
42 DIY

Let The Light In

On her sixth album ‘Tigers Blood’, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield is distancing herself from her demons and embracing home in all its forms. Words: Matthew Pywell. Photos: Holly Whitaker.

The last time DIY spoke to Katie Crutchfield back in 2020, the Alabama-born artist was trying to be a little kinder to herself. Having made the leap into sobriety in 2018, 2020’s ‘Saint Cloud’ was a career-high record that saw her embrace her newfound perspective and begin to rekindle a bond with her southern roots. Her imminent follow-up, ‘Tigers Blood’, meanwhile, is her most confident to date; an album inspired by the revelations that the musician has encountered more than five years after she began to rein back control in her life.

Taking a stroll along London’s Brick Lane for today’s conversation, Katie is in high spirits, gleefully petting as many dogs as possible, ecstatic at the fact that a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel looks “just like mine!”. Any jet lag from a quick trip to Europe seems to have evaporated. There’s good reason to be cheerful too, as ‘Tigers Blood’ is an album that surges forward with a stormy assuredness, unwavering and teeming with realisations.

‘Saint Cloud’ was produced alongside Brad Cook, who Katie describes as her “great collaborator in life”, and the pair intended to replicate the same processes for ‘Tigers Blood’. This time around, however, the relationship delivered vastly different results, thanks in part to the introduction of MJ Lenderman: the Americana-infused songwriter known both for his solo work and as part of indie-rock group Wednesday. “I saw him at SXSW before his album ‘Boat Songs’ came out and it blew my mind,” she remembers. “I was like, ‘I can’t believe this music exists’. It’s this intersection of so many different things I like in one.”

When MJ was introduced for the first demo session, it quickly became apparent that he would have much more involvement than originally planned. Katie’s relationship with her Southern identity has fluctuated, having shaken off her country roots earlier in her career to instead pay homage to bands like Bikini Kill. However, ‘Saint Cloud’ saw her switch back towards Americana and those sounds frequently associated with the Deep South, wielding them with an elegant balance of poise and fury.

Listening to MJ, she was reminded of the positive ways she could entwine it all back into her music, while branching out from Americana too. “When I was younger, I wasn’t embarrassed being from the South but it was something I was looking to shed from my identity,” she admits. “I really appreciate how Jake wears it on his sleeve but doesn’t make

it his entire musical [personality]. With this record I was coming at it from a more Southern alternative rock place and a lot of that was Jake and his influence.”

Amuch denser record than ‘Saint Cloud’, ‘Tigers Blood’ is the product of an artist fully aligned with their sense of self, able to see things for what they really are. There’s an improvisational feeling to the album compared to the neater edges of her previous work, and while, like 2017’s ‘Out In The Storm’, there is turbulence to be found within these tracks, this time it’s delivered with clarity and assuredness too. Take the song ‘Crowbar’, which teeters on the edge of rage, with Katie’s pained, layered vocals feeling as if they’re about to reach a boiling point.

It’s about an unbalanced dynamic within a relationship, as Katie notes: “It’s about letting someone in too quickly and realising that you’re being taken advantage of.” There’s a lot for her to be mad about, and throughout ‘Tigers Blood’ we hear of relationships - both of the romantic and platonic kind - that become stalemates or dissipate completely. Having entered her thirties, she’s starting to see the past for how it really was, having had the best part of her twenties blurred by addiction.

It’s a topic discussed on ‘365’. “My own addiction issues are one piece of the puzzle, but the really big other piece is my relationship with other addicts in my life and my codependency,” Katie explains. “That disease is a lot bigger for me than my own addiction stuff and I’ve been on a journey with it for a long time. ‘365’ is about being in a relationship with another addict and thinking, ‘I was in this crazy ride forever and now I’ve got to get off’.”

Now settled in Kansas with partner and fellow musician Kevin Morby, Katie has learned that slowing down and feeling more settled in her life has accentuated the positives. ‘Right Back To It’ has been described as the first real love song she has written, and the chorus line, “You just settle in like a song with no end,” delicately translates the easiness within their relationship. It’s a moment on ‘Tigers Blood’ of real comfort and security.

Since her journey into sobriety began, one of the ways Katie has coped has been through watching sports - mainly basketball, tennis, and American football (Travis Kelce - aka the current Mr Swift - lives ten minutes down the road, she casually informs us). Her relationship with

sport, she explains, became an unforeseen “godsend” as it gave her something new to really care about and hold onto.

You can see examples of Katie’s newfound sharper focus in her lyrics; her eye for rhythm sticking out as words seem to bounce effortlessly between each other. Usually her lyrics are instinctual, but if she finds herself looking for just the right amount of syllables, she enjoys the challenge of “figuring it out like a math problem” until the words fit perfectly. The most important lesson that she has learnt from her sobriety is to take time.

“It’s really important that you let the dust settle. I think sometimes you can be too raw in the moment, I find that when I look back on some songs,” she says. “A lot of things I talk about on this record are sad or dark but there’s almost an air of forgiveness or acknowledging things that have happened. I’m moving on. It’s just me being present with where I’m at in my life and I hope that I’m doing that even when I’m 80 years old.”

When you take time to reflect, you see things for what they really are, and since becoming sober Katie has learnt a lot about herself. It’s emboldened her to write with devastating precision, able to say so much in very few words; just like that, one line can shift your perspective. The musical journey of Waxahatchee is intrinsically linked to that of its author, who is also finding herself just that little bit more each time. “I would say this is probably my most authentic record,” she nods. “Each record, I’m getting a little closer to whatever it is I’m working towards.”

‘Tigers Blood’ is out 22nd March via ANTI-. DIY

“When I was younger, I wasn’t embarrassed being from the south but it was something I was looking to shed from my identity.”

In Plain Sight

In the interim between ‘Saint Cloud’ and ‘Tiger’s Blood’, Katie linked up with Jess Williamson on a project called Plains: a unique opportunity to flip the script.

“With Plains, it was cool to detach from our precious little life story. It’s not about getting the little details right, it was about taking our experiences and applying them to a shared narrative. It was fun to detach and not be obsessed with it being perfect, just writing to make the other person excited. There were a lot of choices I wouldn’t normally have made.”

44 DIY
DIY 45 lafayettelondon


Since their inception, English Teacher have never been afraid to read between the lines, finding emotion and subtle beauty in everything from the pastoral to the pub. On their feverishly-anticipated debut album ‘This Could Be Texas’, they emerge as authors of their own winning tale.



46 DIY

espite being consistently dubbed as such (in these here pages and beyond), in many ways

English Teacher aren’t a Leeds band at all. Each member hails from elsewhere - Colne, Preston, Bedford and Guildford - and their music is often distinguished by its poetic ruminations on the Lancashire landscape and local characters. And yet this is the city where their shared identity was forged as music students, and where their live show gained legs via the city’s vibrant grassroots scene. They’ve found an adopted, collective home here, and so it seems almost fated that when DIY sit down for lunch with the quartet, it’s in the world’s most aggressively Leeds-themed cafe.

Well, Leeds United-themed, to be specific; the team’s slogan ‘Marching On Together’ is emblazoned on the shopfront, and we’re greeted by a couple of older fans who joke that it’ll cost us a 50p toll to sit down. It’s tricky not to stare at the LUFC memorabilia covering every inch of the walls, but we tear ourselves away long enough to choose from a heaving menu that has

almost definitely never included avocado on toast. It’s just what the doctor ordered. “I just can’t face another meal deal,” lead guitarist Lewis Whiting grins.

It’s no wonder that English Teacher want to take a home-cooked meal where they can get it. When we speak, they’re just about to head off on a co-headline jaunt around Europe with Dublin punks Sprints, mere days after wrapping up their Independent Venue Week tour of the UK. Given that none of them are exactly city-slicker urban natives, IVW (for which they were 2024’s ambassadors) is a cause particularly close to their hearts, and the band have been outspoken about the vitality of supporting regional scenes in the face of enduring London-centrism and recent cuts to essential pipeline programmes like BBC Introducing. “It’s never really spoken about that much, but music is such a huge part of the UK economy,” notes Lewis. “It’s one of our biggest exports, but we never really value it in the same way we do other industries. As a band, we’ve very much felt the impact of the scene - we owe a lot to independent venues.”

Having played their first show in 2021 (for DIY’s socially-distanced Bank Holiday Weekender no less, back when the long shadow of Covid still loomed over live music), the quartet’s growth since has been exponential. The insightful, whip-smart lyricism and intricately layered instrumentals of 2022’s debut EP ‘Polyawkward’ marked them out from a tired post-punk landscape; soon after, they found themselves playing Glastonbury, runners up in that year’s Emerging Talent competition (“I can’t believe we only came third,” bassist Nicholas Eden laughs later, his tongue firmly in cheek as the band joke about headlining the Pyramid this summer).

It’s over the last 12 months, though, that English Teacher have begun to tick off milestones with the ease and speed of their namesake marking an A-grade essay. They released a single on cult label Speedy Wunderground; delivered a supremely confident Later... with Jools performance that’s worth watching for the parting wink alone; had stints across the pond playing SXSW, LA, and New York, and infiltrated the ears of footie fans everywhere via the EA 24 soundtrack.“I haven’t really processed it all yet, to be honest,” says drummer Douglas Frost. “I feel like that was literally just the first little hill too - we’re about to do a mountain.” He’s referring to the fact that the band’s first full-length, ‘This Could Be Texas’, arrives in April - a project that by all accounts is long-awaited, highly-anticipated, and set to garner them a whole new level of acclaim.

In particular, their ever-rising profile is an ongoing adjustment for vocalist Lily Fontaine, whose magnetism and striking stage presence make her unequivocally unforgettable. “I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to be someone who is recognisable - that my face and name are things that people will be able to Google search and stuff,” she muses, before bursting into laughter at the memory of what must be her strangest fan interaction to date. “At Green Man last year, I went into the women’s urinals,” she explains, standing up to better set the scene. “And you got recognised while you were having a piss?” Douglas interjects, grinning incredulously as the others laugh. Lily nods. “I was squatting down and there was this lady looking at me, and as we make eye contact over the barrier she just goes, ‘Are you from English Teacher?’”



s the external noise has intensified, it’s in fact been a handful of internal adjustments which have proved most significant to the band’s evolution. Speaking about the period after signing to Island, Lewis explains that “with any step up, there are new pressures and expectations - from ourselves, and from external people. We had to do a lot of soul-searching and there was a lot to figure out; it was an intense time.” Namely, they were charting relatively unfamiliar territory in terms of artistic purpose: their creative impetus had shifted from writing for self-expression, to writing specifically for an album.

As a result, many newer lyrics are a product of Lily “thinking a lot about notions of success and trying to make things”. Take the heart-wrenching ‘Best Tears Of Your Life’ - one of many album standouts, which finds her jadedly observing, “You can take the girl out of her comfort zone / But you can’t put her back”. “I’ve definitely wanted to give it up so many times…'' she pauses, considering the full English in front of her. “There was a period where I didn’t live anywhere - I didn’t have any money to rent anything, so I was living out of a suitcase for like seven months, sofa surfing. And I just thought, ‘Fuck this, I’m 25 - I should have a flat, and maybe one day a dog’.”

She notes that a lack of permanence has been a bit of a motif throughout her life. “I think subconsciously, a lot of what I write about is because of the weird

things I’ve been through, like being quite displaced as a kid,” she notes. But she also acknowledges that this part of her identity is well suited to the nomadic life of a touring band. “It can be tiring, but I feel like I do need a job where I’m constantly in a different place. I love that about it. It very much fits in with how I am as a person - living liminally.”

As a concept which also bears personal significance to Lewis, Douglas and Nicholas, it seemed apt when liminality emerged as the thematic cornerstone of ‘This Could Be Texas’. On the album, what Lily calls “a sense of being in between” is multifaceted and ever-present, be it in terms of the social (‘R&B’; ‘Broken Biscuits’); the interpersonal (‘Nearly Daffodils’); the locational (‘Albert Road’; ‘Paving Slab’); or the occupational (‘Mastermind Specialism’; ‘Not Everybody Gets To Go To Space’). It’s even there in the tracklist itself, where reworked versions of some of English Teacher’s oldest songs nestle among their new material. ‘Sideboob’ [which may be better known to long-standing fans as ‘You Won’t Believe How Beautiful She Is When It Has Snowed’] is one of my favourite songs of all time,” smiles Douglas, explaining why it felt important to include these archive tracks. “And I can say that, because it’s not mine, it’s Lily’s song.” “Yeah, it’s special for me,” she picks up. “I wanted there to be some throughline, and having them on there bolsters that aspect of the album. ‘Paving Slab’, ‘Sideboob’, ‘Albert Road’, ‘This Could Be Texas’ even - they all link back to Colne.”



DIY put on your first ever show back in 2021! What's one moment you've had since then which is a personal fave for each of you (and why)?

Lewis: Going out for a drink with Parquet Courts after supporting them at Paradiso in Amsterdam - well, that whole Europe tour really.

Lily: Coming off stage after playing La Route du Rock Hiver full of adrenaline and doing a shot with Shame, who were headlining the festival.

Nicholas: Having the opportunity to open the Woodsies (formerly John Peel) Stage at Glastonbury in 2022.

Douglas: It’s got to be playing on Jools Holland, obviously. What a man. What a day. Was I terrified?

Yes. Did I go to the toilet an abnormal amount because of nerves? Yes. Was it one of the best days of my life? Absolutely.

Colne, Leeds, Texas - these places populate the album, all linked by the desire paths of English Teacher’s journey. Desire paths, Douglas explains, are “made when people or animals are trying to find the perfect route to a particular destination. I love that idea”. The phrase encapsulates a sense of moving forward with purpose, but also speaks to the notion of straying off the beaten track - to, as the LP’s title track suggests, ‘going through the heather’. “Its lyrics are kind of about writing an album - ‘The wisdom of the crowds, right?’” Lily affirms, quoting herself. “It’s about forging your own path and trying not to worry too much about what other people are doing. [The line] ‘Ignore the farmer and his pitchfork’ is basically saying that if the Pitchfork review is shit, it’s fine,” she laughs.

And in following these desire paths - in bridging the gap between old and new, origin and destination - English Teacher have been able to reconcile their individual roots with their shared ambition. The result? A band who curiously seem to defy categorisation. Math-rock, alt-rock, art-rock - whatever the prefix, the truth is that they’ve engineered their sound with scientific precision and imbued it with the emotion and poetic flair of, well, a literature professor. Their enhanced live set - which now sees Douglas seamlessly flit between drums and keys, and features Blossom Calderone on cello - is now stunningly assured, from the impressively elaborate basslines and meticulous guitar work, to Lily’s room-commanding vocal prowess. The powerful moments are dumbfounding, and the delicate ones devastating. Put simply, they just get better with each show.

Though they’re unsurprisingly modest when we put this to them, Lewis acknowledges that “we have pushed ourselves, especially over the past year, to just try and be better.” While Lily still feels to some degree tokenised by industry figures, being a Black woman fronting a guitar band, she too now recognises the importance of their music. “I’m actually quite proud of our live show now, and I enjoy it way more,” she smiles tentatively. “Even if I am tokenised, I know we ARE still good.”

On ‘This Could Be Texas’, English Teacher have bared it all, joining a lineage of great regional poets who, in mining the vast grey areas of quotidian Britain, truly put their home towns on the map. It’s a happy accident, then, that the title of album cut ‘Broken Biscuits’ unintentionally alludes to a prime example of such writing - Pulp’s ‘Mis-Shapes’. “I’m happy with any Jarvis Cocker comparisons… inside me, there’s a skinny white man,” Lily grins. “I’m gonna shed my skin like a Slytheen,” she pauses, putting her hands to her forehead to mimic the Doctor Who monster. “And inside is an incredibly problematic Jarvis Cocker?” Lewis finishes, as the table dissolves into laughter.

Silly as it is, the moment neatly illustrates the multiplicity of English Teacher: they’re simultaneously surrealist, populist, expansive, and nuanced. And it’s testament to their multi-modal storytelling that this is captured nowhere better than in the visual for album closer ‘Albert Road’, which brings together the record’s considerations of home, success and belonging (or lack thereof) in one final, poignant vignette. Co-directed by Douglas, the video is peppered with Easter egg references to their previous releases, small nods to their past which Nicholas describes as “a fitting way to tie together everything we’ve done so far.” It culminates with a moving sequence in which Lily watches footage of her younger self performing onstage in a primary school show, which she says was “so strange to film, but so nice. I had two glasses of wine before I shed the tear - it felt a bit like therapy.” A full circle moment if there ever was one, the video - released on the day English Teacher announced their debut album - is the band’s artistic line in the sand: an uncanny mirroring of a band now standing on the brink of fully realising those childhood dreams.

‘This Could Be Texas’ is out 12th April via Island. DIY

DIY 49


This month: Yard Act, Bleachers, Waxahatchee, Sheer Mag and more.

 YARD ACT

Where’s My Utopia Island

As much a joy intellectually as it is musically.

Asense of impending doom was fused in Leeds lot Yard Act’s DNA from their emergence in the early days of the pandemic. Born of a time when it seemed the UK might ignite and slide into the North Sea without warning, their caustic, comedic post-punk offered the notion that if this is the end, we ought to go out laughing. Act two ‘Where’s My Utopia?’ picks up where debut ‘The Overload’ left off, confronting what happens after the world doesn’t, in fact, end. It expands on the intoxicating optimism of that debut, with principal songwriter James Smith - recently married and with a young son - at his most soul-bearing, having found something to keep fighting for. The album’s glistening pinnacle is the sung-spoken opus ‘Blackpool Illuminations’. Bookended as a faux interview with a fictionalised version of himself, James’ retelling of a trip aged six to the seaside segues into a candid monologue about family: “At that age… you’re most in love with your parents / And when they’re happy together with you, you never want life to change”. It echoes the poignant ‘100% Endurance’, a deft tug at the heartstrings as he examines the lineage between his own upbringing and his responsibilities as a parent now. It’s endearing to hear a man in a conventional rock band sing so tenderly about his son - “We took you to Blackpool too, and I watched you like a hawk as you explored beneath the boardwalk in those big clumsy shoes”. Not unlike contemporaries IDLES, Yard Act understand that an injection of love and compassion creates contrast against the darker tones of an album, bringing cohesion and elevating it from being more than just a collection of songs.

There’s still heaps here to jump around to in sweaty club venues, too. It takes smarts to sound as silly as the band do on ‘We Make Hits’, an exuberant mission statement that distils the Yard Act ethos better than ever: “We just wanna have some fun before we’re sunk / And if that’s the attitude you exude then you know you’re really punk,” James snarls over a combo of warped strings and vocals. On the caterwauling ‘Fizzy Fish’ he gets up close and personal with a flow reminiscent of peak Mike Skinner, while the Katy J Pearson-featuring ‘When The Laughter Stops’ marks the band’s most addictive hook to date, a candidate for 2024’s biggest bop so far. The instrumentation is joyfully eclectic, peppered with chunky breakbeats and samples, Britpop in places (‘The Undertow’ in particular having a distinct Pulp-ian flair), and reggae and hip hop in others (Gorillaz’ Remi Kabaka Jr. is listed as producer, alongside the band themselves). An expansion on all fronts of Yard Act’s ability to meld the entertaining and the thought-provoking, ‘Where’s My Utopia?’ is as much a joy intellectually as it is musically, a leap in the right direction from one of our most promising groups of the day. Alex Cabré

LISTEN: ‘Blackpool Illuminations’

 GOSSIP Real Power Sony

In comparatively progressive 2024, it’s hard to overstate the sledgehammer effect that Gossip and their firebrand frontwoman Beth Ditto caused when their insatiable, unignorable hit ‘Standing In The Way of Control’ elevated the Arkansas trio from cult concern to mainstream infiltrators back in 2006. A figurehead for both queer representation and body positivity, Gossip launched a stick of punk dynamite into the Skins-like indie sleaze landscape (the song, ironically, also soundtracking the series) and cemented its creators as disruptors of the most hook-laden and fabulously fun kind.

Any Gossip reunion, then, would be one to welcome with open arms. But there’s the sense with ‘Real Power’ that the trio have returned 12 years since their last record (2012’s ‘A Joyful Noise’) with something necessary and new to say. Where their breakthrough hits fizzed with dancefloor-directed defiance and righteous fury, ‘Real Power’ has a tenderness to its rallying that comes with maturity and realising that sometimes it’s more effective to use a kiss than a fist. Even its title track, which puts Ditto’s inimitably gutsy, raw vocal to its

full use, is a clarion call to collective activism that puts hope and positivity at the fore.

On ‘Real Power’’s more upbeat moments, Gossip tend towards the disco rather than the sweaty party pit. Opener ‘Act of God’ splashes Motown-like vocals with ‘70s basslines; ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ is slinky and sultry in ways that mirror its lovestruck lyrics, while ‘Give It Up For Love’ could be a Nile Rodgers co-write for all its funky strutting. Generally, however, ‘Real Power’ sits around the mid-tempo rather than going hell for leather as they may have done in younger years. Far from a slip into the middle of the road however, they find new ways to make it interesting - ‘Edge of the Sun’ utilises breathy backing vocals in ways that feel fresh for the band, while ‘Turn The Card Slowly’’s guitars sound like they’ve been listening to The xx’s atmospheric debut for cues.

If ‘Real Power’ necessarily has a steadiness and maturity to its sound, it’s not for want of emotion or innovation. Getting older with heart and empathy? That sounds like real power to us. Lisa Wright

Listen: ‘Give It Up’

Getting older with heart and empathy? That sounds like real power to us.


Bright Future


Whether solo or with Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker’s reputation as a playful, heartfelt, sincere, and ethereally comforting writer precedes her. On ‘Bright Future’ however, a change is felt. Introspective from the start, ‘Real House’ opens with a raw look back on earlier life at a steady and measured pace. From here it’s clear there’s a specific purpose behind this record - a seriousness that hasn’t necessarily been harnessed before. While ‘Sadness As A Gift’ is a typical song from her, centred around positivity and perspective, from here onwards, the album goes down a path of contemplation starting with ‘Fool’; a pensive look at the different ways to live a life, while ‘Free Treasure’ is a slight reprieve, delicately touching on the simple joys of relationships, such as quietly sharing a cup of coffee or glass of wine. At the heart of the record, though, ‘Vampire Empire’, and ‘EVOL’ evocatively capture the push and pull of relationships, the internal conflicts that arise, and the highs and lows that lovers ultimately go through. Turning the page, ‘Candleflame’ and ‘Donut Seam’ then return to the simplicity of love - the yearning for someone when separated, and the easiness of relationships when they are working well - before ‘Ruined’ wraps the record up in a heartfelt expression of love and the struggle that comes from being vulnerable in the face of strong emotions. While still retaining Adrianne’s natural charm and endearment, ‘Bright Future’ is a grounded look at the challenges that come from relationships, personal introspection, and ageing, but also ultimately the joy that comes in the simple moments with loved ones. It’s beautiful in its honesty, embellished by the appearances of friends such as Nick Hackim, Mat Davidson and Josefin Runsteen. For Adrianne - now ten years on from her debut solo album - this feels like a milestone record founded in maturity and grace; a testament to the relationships we all put work into, and the highs and lows of the intimacies we choose to commit to. Brave in its deeply honest expression, it’s a beautiful record that tactfully captures the often confusing and contradicting feelings when truly in love. Matt Brown

LISTEN: ‘Vampire Empire’


Playing Favorites

Third Man

Three albums in, and Sheer Mag’s unrivalled ability to incite anemoia - the specific term for nostalgia for a time one’s never lived in, fact fans - shows no signs of stopping. The Philadelphians’ use of bread-and-butter classic rock riffs and deceptively immediate hooks, fed through production that’s simultaneously 21st Century precise and still exudes a vinyl-like warmth often makes like an episode of Quantum Leap; a portal to the kind of down’n’dirty dive bar somewhere in a indeterminate part of America that may in reality only exist on screen. But there’s a fine line between using a formula and sticking to it, and it’s the smart way in which Sheer Mag do the former that makes ‘Playing Favorites’ so enthralling. The chugging guitars of ‘I Gotta Go’ may have the unequivocal air of unironic double denim, but they’re paired with ‘60s pop melodies and an almost Motown strut to enjoyable effect. ‘Paper Time’ marries a punk chorus with ‘50s doo-wop backing vocals and chord changes, while the gang vocals of ‘All Lined Up’, a track which sits halfway between driving AM radio soft rock and ‘The Hustle’ in its disco sound, both provide an immediate hook and echo New York post-punkers Parquet Courts at their most funky. And, whether as reflection or instigation, ‘Mechanical Garden’ sounds like literal time-travel, its classic riff breaking down into dreamy, filmic strings before ‘80s glittery synths appear and the song transforms further, into another funky shuffle. And still, with their solid sonic palette, it all sounds cohesive - not least because of Tina Halladay’s vocals which, while still possessing the roar that made the group’s name, have moments that are affectingly soft. Take closer ‘When You Get Back’: a sentimental number with a ‘50s-via-’70s premise that could fit right in on the ‘Grease’ soundtrack. The best of the bunch, of course, is the pop moment of ‘Moonstruck’, with its enviable earworm of a chorus and sense of pure joy. Sheer Mag are still skilled at creating a vibe, and this time around it’s a positively fun one. Emma Swann LISTEN: ‘Moonstruck’

Nothing short of remarkable.



Dirty Hit

Ask any music lover and they’ll tell you a story of being in a car at night with the stereo on, either nestled up in the backseat in the safety blanket of a loved one behind the wheel or upfront with friends watching the streetlights glide by to an often-accidental soundtrack. Power ballads complement a seemingly endless darkness to each side of the road, and energetic pop encourages spontaneous group singalongs at top volume as the sun sets on the horizon. Steeped in blissful American nostalgia, Bleachers’ sublime self-titled fourth studio album embodies it all, from the rolling vistas to the warmth of distant city lights, at once watching the world pass by and deeply cemented in a moment. It’s rare for an album to capture a feeling so intensely, promoting a universal recognition through something so intrinsically linked to an individual’s time and place. Don’t make a mistake; these are Jack Antonoff’s realities, with countless references to New Jersey sitting against often playful takes on deeply personal circumstances. But it’s the atmosphere that reaches beyond the confines of one singular life, with Jack’s tongue-in-cheek lyricism effortlessly inviting all into the fold.

It’s built on a nostalgia to a time that never was, a perfectly balanced ‘80s-esque drum machine driving the beat across fourteen tracks that unapologetically cross generational boundaries. The epic ‘Ordinary Heaven’ pulls a Bon Iver-like ethereal, experimental sound forcefully back in time and right back to the present at a blink of the eye, complete with a near acid jazz breakdown so far removed from Bleachers’ sound to date that builds to a rallying spoken word crescendo. It’s a remarkable feat against the pure audible joy of ‘Tiny Moves’ and the understated frivolity of ‘Self Respect’ – a track that captures the unabridged abandon of a palpable youth whilst making it feel so attainable to anyone at any age. “I’m so tired of having self-respect,” he sings on a call to arms against the norm, “Let’s do something I’ll regret”. Both Jack and his sound are freeing, open and profoundly relatable, a leap away from 2021’s densely self-reflective ‘Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night’. When they rear their head, moments of darkness exist as part of a wider storytelling that presents life as an ever-changing journey, never tied to one single emotion or place. Much like those nostalgic night-drives, the streetlights keep rolling to present something new at every turn. That Jack has spent much of his time collaborating with the best in the business and still has so much left for himself is nothing short of remarkable. Ben Tipple

LISTEN: ‘Ordinary Heaven’

 WAXAHATCHEE Tiger’s Blood


From the first half-whispered, half-sung line of opening track ‘3 Sisters’, it’s clear Katie Crutchfield is picking up where she left off on 2020’s ‘Saint Cloud’. Piano, organ and clean electric guitar soon join her lilting falsettos and the combination eases the listener into ‘Tigers Blood’ like the buttery sun on a crisp morning. This time around, Katie has enlisted the help of Wednesday guitarist MJ Lenderman to brilliant effect.

‘Crowbar’’s jangling guitar feels like ‘Out of Time’ era REM, while ‘Bored’ harks back to the scuzzier sound of earlier Waxahatchee albums as Katie channels her anger about a friendship falling apart. ‘Ice Cold’ might be the album’s highlight, though, kicking off with a punchy intro similar to Wednesday’s ‘Chosen to Believe’ yet ending with Nile Rodgers-esque stabbing chucks behind, as Katie delivers a sarcastic and sneering performance. More than anything, ‘Tigers Blood’ is a refinement of the blueprint laid down by ‘Saint Cloud’, and a showcase of Katie at the peak of her powers. James Smurthwaite

LISTEN: ‘Ice Cold’



All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade

When The Libertines released their third LP back in 2015, the charming if somewhat overly polished ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’, it felt like the rightful closing act to the shambolic tale of a band persevering against all odds. The tumultuous relationship between Carl Barât and Pete Doherty had calmed, the latter soundly off the sauce and back in the saddle to deliver a record many assumed would never come. Nearly a decade on, a fourth Libertines album feels almost surplus to requirement in the canon of one of England’s last great rock bands.

‘All Quiet On the Eastern Esplanade’ has the hallmarks of the Likely Lads’ heyday - to an extent. It’s difficult not to crack a smile at the Barât-led ‘Run Run Run’, a breathless opening sprint that trips over itself with all the cheek of ‘Time For Heroes’ and the like. It lacks the nuance of those classic singles which set the band apart from their landfill contemporaries, but its tone is clearly dictated: Still youthful! Still energetic! Still very much alive and kicking, thanks!

There are a few glimmering moments here which deserve to join the ranks of ‘Don’t Look Back Into the Sun’ and all the rest, one being Doherty’s ‘Merry Old England’. Building from a cagey piano melody to a rousing, Bond-like chorus, it features one of the most impressive vocal performances of the frontman’s career. Its damning lyrics, a realisation that Blighty ain’t the same island she was twenty years ago, suit their author in this more mature age. On Carl’s side, ‘Oh Shit’ is cut from the same cloth as ‘Run Run Run’, a blokey up-tempo banger which doesn’t offer much food for thought, but that’s fine; it’s enough that the gang got back together, and seem to be happy, healthy, and having a great time.

What The Libertines fail to recapture on ‘…Esplanade’ is the endearing shabbiness of those early recordings, where ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ largely went wrong too. Following the blueprint of Blur and The Rolling Stones’ recent returns, Dimitri Tikovoï’s glossy production, presumably intended to give the album more of a radio-friendly appeal, doesn’t gel with an act so synonymous with druggy, scummy, indie sleaze. Doing away with their younger selves’ reputation for the kitsch and dirty is a natural evolution for these men who, sure, can be fairly described as all middle-aged now. But like a film grain filter on a digital photo, the sheen on otherwise riotous cuts like ‘Mustang’ and ‘Shiver’ feels misplaced. Pigs will fly before The Libertines write a better hook than ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, or conjure such potent romance as they did sharing a microphone and cigarette smoke at Glastonbury nine years ago. With a mythos to match their iconic, unusual discography (two acclaimed albums almost back-to-back, a resurrection a decade on, and now this) the Libs know ‘as good as’ is the most logical thing to aim for with ‘…Esplanade’. After all, even the weakest Libs composition is a standard many British songwriters can only aspire to, to this day. If nothing else, it’s heartwarming that the story is still unfolding for the Likely Lads. Alex Cabré

LISTEN: ‘Merry Old England’

The gap between music and art seems smaller than ever.


The Collective Matador

Listening to this second solo album from Kim Gordon feels a lot like flicking through a journal. Rather than an intimate account of her innermost thoughts, though, ‘The Collective’ is a more cut-and-paste type affair. Comprised of stream-of-consciousness musings, scattershot pastiches of pop culture and roughly sketched societal observations, the record finds Kim continuing to funnel uncomfortable truths through skulking trip-hop sounds and dank industrial rhythms.

An artist whose work has always seemed more like conceptual performance piece as opposed to music for mass-consumption, opener ‘BYE BYE’ finds her notching up the anxiety as she lays a mundane yet maximalist packing list - “foundation / contact solution [...] sleeping pills / sneakers / boots / eyelash curler / vibrator” - over steady beats juxtaposed by a fuzzy electronic screech. Fronting a challenge against consumer culture and dissecting the very basis of what it means to be a modern artist making an album, ‘The Candy House’ feels a bit like a soundtrack to a vintage arcade game, with a splintered lo-fi vibe reminiscent of finding oneself in the bathroom at a party - eyesight fuzzy and at a disconnect from the music’s source. Moments like ‘Tree House’ are a bit more guitar-heavy, as static-y stretches of reverb scratch against Kim’s ever-elusive utterings, while ‘I’m A Man’ veers into trap-tinted territory with avant-rap interludes ringing out like the dull pang of a migraine that can’t quite be shaken off.

More highlights come in the shape of ‘It’s Dark Inside’, a dense, noise-heavy track driven by howling distortion, and clattering, claustrophobic cut ‘The Believers’, with barbed techno beats that froth under the cracked veneer of Gordon’s vocals. Elsewhere producer Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Yves Tumor, Lil Yachty) gets his due, as ‘Psychedelic Orgasm’ finds blown-out dub paving the way for faraway instrumentals and ultra-modern, auto-tuned mantras to rise from the smouldering wreckage. By the album’s end - thanks, in part, to the droning noise and scuffed beats on closer ‘Dream Dollar’ - there’s a definite sense of the walls closing in. Here the distance Kim Gordon has forged, both across the album and throughout her career, is falling away - and the gap between music and art seems smaller than ever. Charlotte Marston

LISTEN: ‘It’s Dark Inside’



Everything Everything are no strangers to dabbling in the dystopian - the lyrics to 2022’s ‘Raw Data Feel’ were, after all, entirely crafted using AI - but the concept of their latest full-length seems to reach an even more intense Orwellian depth than usual. Based around the idea of an alternate reality in which society’s lowest are forced into unending labour, all for the benefit of the elite (not that that sounds familiar…), ‘Mountainhead’ sees the band tackling themes of greed, capitalism and corruption through a surreal guise. Moving past the more convoluted approach of its predecessor, here, they feel to return in musical spirit to the likes of ‘Get To Heaven’ and its follow-up ‘A Fever Dream’, with string flourishes and synthy breakdowns nestled alongside Jonathan Higgs’ trademark harmonies. Throughout the record, tracks are both devastating - take ‘End of the Contender’’s “All your stories are about your death / The lemmings on the way to the cliff”, or the ‘Dagger’s Edge’ refrain, “I’m making so much money / I could kill you just to bill you for my time” - and earwormy all at once, while the plucked strings of ‘TV Dog’ and pared back beats of ‘The Witness’ give things an entirely uneasy edge. An album that continues the quartet’s knack for pairing potent socio-political commentary with delicious pop nous. Sarah Jamieson

LISTEN: ‘End Of The Contender’



Expensive Thrills


It may simply be the choice of track order, but there’s a point around three-quarters of the way through this debut from C Turtle, where it seems as if the outfit decided they were too straightforward thus far, and needed to flip a switch. The synthetic-sounding, sample-using one-two of ‘Shooby’ and ‘Harry Who Knew How To Fly’, the latter with a nursery rhyme type repetition that’s less knowingly discordant and more genuinely annoying, followed by the descriptive if nothing else ‘Noise Thing’, a six-minute sonic wail with seemingly zero context, sit at odds with the rest of ‘Expensive Thrills’, a record which at its best is an enjoyable, fuzzy nod to the band’s ‘90s college rock influences with a little more recent thrown in. Opener ‘Have You Ever Heard A Turtle Sing?’ and its followers, ‘Melvin Said This’ and ‘Ex Athlete’ all brim with a clear love of all things slacker, grunge and indie-rock; think Pavement at their heaviest, or ‘00s noiseniks Cloud Nothings’ early work. ‘Shake It Down’ is, meanwhile, where their formula hits its most potent stride, between Mimi McVeigh’s sarcastic spoken delivery and the guitar squalls, it’s as if Wet Leg were performing a Pixies song. Closer ‘More Insects’ too employs this same formula, the interplay between Mimi and Cole Flynn Quirke’s vocals the group’s apparent touchstone, the stop-start of explosive guitars delivering a frequent sense of unease. If its experimental side appeared less calculated, ‘Expensive Thrills’ could have been a stellar album. As it is, it’s a perfectly fine one. Alex Doyle

LISTEN: ‘Shake It Down’



All I Ever Want Is Everything

Capitol / EMI

Half a decade on from her first single, the debut from highly sought-after bassist Blu DeTiger is a genre-hopping work, anchored unsurprisingly by infectious basslines. While the listener is ushered into the album by a twinkling lullaby-like intro, with mesmeric harmonies, it’s second track ‘Latency’ that’s perhaps the biggest rock moment on the album - her vocal delivery reminiscent of erstwhile bandmate Olivia Rodrigo - before ‘I’ll Never Tell’ pulls from the bedroom pop of PinkPantheress. Across the record, the New York-via-Ibiza artist’s influences are many and varied, with the album veering into disco, funk, pop rock, dance, electroclash and beyond. Recent single ‘Cut Me Down’, a collaboration with Australian musician Mallrat, is an all-out dance track with a crisp production, while ‘Expensive Money’ is another highlight, a bubblegum pop bop that thrives on its simplicity. It’s when Blu leans into the disco and funk genre, though, that she really shines: ‘Sad Girl Machine’ and ‘Disappearing’ are both stand-outs, imbued with groovy bass lines, which Blu mixes with modern lyrical themes of doom-scrolling and social media. But where the record is musically interesting, it is short on hooks: synth-pop songs drift by, Blu’s voice drowning in the mix, while ‘You Say’ is marred by its misguided use of autotune, as it fizzles into distortion. By the time ‘All I Ever Want is Everything’ comes to an end, it feels as though it’s not quite finished, an ambitious album sometimes attempting to do too much at once.

LISTEN: ‘Sad Girl Machine’


Live Laugh Love

Suicide Squeeze

All surface indications are that Chastity Belt have retained their penchant for quietly sardonic humour on this fifth album, their first since 2019; both the title and the artwork, on which an inflatable dancing tube man looms large, suggest that a group who called their first album ‘No Regrets’ and maintain that they began playing together as a bit of a joke are still very much into having a laugh. However, spend a little longer with this four-piece, now based in Seattle, and you realise that they are experts in skipping lightly over deep waters, with vocalist Julia Shapiro’s insightful lyricism and droll delivery sharply capturing a feeling of millennial malaise. The subtle unfurling of their musical parameters on their last album, ‘Chastity Belt’, is expanded significantly on ‘Live Laugh Love’, perhaps owing to it being recorded across three sessions in three consecutive calendar years, as well as the sharing of vocal duties across all four members. There’s some continuation of the woozy, sun-drenched territory first visited on ‘Chastity Belt’, especially on opener ‘Hollow’, but elsewhere, there is quiet rolling drama (‘I-90 Bridge’), subtle deployment of scuzzy, college rock guitars (‘Clumsy’ and ‘It’s Cool’) and exercises in experimentation, such as the shapeshifting, freeform ‘Blue’, a track with a quintessentially Chastity Belt message - “I’ve got to get off the internet / out of the blue.” By opening up their songwriting process, the band have managed to carve out an even more singular sound. The possibilities from here seem endless. Joe Goggins

LISTEN: ‘Blue’




On this debut album, Francis of Delirium confidently asserts her creative vision and voice. Across ‘Lighthouse’, each track exudes a knowing youthfulness blended with established pop and rock influences, with verses blossoming into powerfully expansive choruses on the likes of ‘First Touch’ and ‘Something’s Changed’. In opening track ‘Ballet Dancers (Never Love Again)’, swelling harmonies and guitars contrast the sweeter, quieter moments seen later across the album. This boldness only continues, sprinkled throughout intrinsically likeable pop moments such as the chorus of ‘Want You’ or ‘Blue Tuesday’’s energetic guitar line. Lyrically, ‘Lighthouse’ contends with coming-of-age and love without drifting into cliche, and though there are moments of both euphoria and angst, Jana Bahrich illustrates the beautiful simplicity behind embracing the hope inherent in change. The almost cinematic instrumentation of closing track ‘Give It Back to Me’ reflects this desire to elevate the mundane to its true emotional complexity, echoing the level of musicality that’s clearly demonstrated throughout ‘Lighthouse’. Having been at the forefront of the music scene back home in Luxembourg, Jana has evidently been keen to push forward a new era of indie rock via the success of her three previous EPs; this more expansive body of work demonstrates Francis of Delirium’s exciting growth and potential. Charlotte Grimwade

LISTEN: ‘Give It Back To Me’



Liam Gallagher John Squire


It’s no secret that Liam Gallagher and John Squire are both Mancunian icons, and so, when the pair announced this collaborative album, it sparked questions about how the pair’s styles might mesh. As it turns out, this self-titled album is a winning combination of the work of both; delivering exactly what fans might’ve expected from Liam’s distinctive vocals and John’s much-imitated guitar tone. Opener ‘Raise Your Hands’ sets the scene with John’s riffs remaining a defining feature, over 30 years on from The Stone Roses’ heyday. ‘Mars To Liverpool’ marries the pair’s style with wry, humorous lyrics that showcase Liam’s vocals in fine form, the track encapsulating what makes this record such a strong bridge between their sounds, each allowed a moment in the spotlight while never overstepping. Elsewhere, lead single ‘Just Another Rainbow’ feels very much in The Stone Roses’ wheelhouse, and if the lyrics - which include Liam reciting the colours of the rainbow in turn - verge on preposterous, it at least fulfils the nostalgic vibe it reaches for. The record is perhaps more of a showcase for John than Liam, allowing him to cut loose throughout with plenty of riffs and solos, before the blues-tinged ‘I’m A Wheel’ shows a different side to both which they pull off admirably. Not out to reinvent said wheel, this is instead a record that fans of Oasis and The Stone Roses will lap up, both protagonists clearly having a blast bringing out the best in one another. An intriguing side project that adds to the pair’s already storied careers. Christopher Connor

LISTEN: ‘Mars To Liverpool’




Underdressed At The Symphony

Secretly Canadian

Faye Webster has never been about grandiose displays of emotion, and the singer-songwriter’s fifth full-length, ‘Underdressed At The Symphony’, leans more on mood than story. At times, it echoes the textural delights of The War On Drugs, while simple hooks are transformed by shimmery pedal steel and twinkling piano. Opener ‘Thinking About You’, with its subtle flourishes and gradual builds, is a six-and-a-half minute stunner; the slow burn of ‘Lifetime’ equally so, shuffling along to emphasise the space between each moment. But both feature Faye repeating the track’s title for much of its run time. Where repetition works on the short but sweet ‘Right Side Of My Neck’ - the emotion behind that line twisting with each reading - here, with both tracks over five minutes, it feels mostly uninspired, instead leaving the crying pedal steel to pick up the emotional slack. Thankfully, parts of ‘Underdressed At The Symphony’ do still show her as a lyricist with an astonishing emotional clarity. ‘But Not Kiss’ digs into the complex nature of intimacy: the contradictions, the uncertainties, the idea that simple acts can have just a much weight as the bigger ones, for good and for bad. “I want to see you in my dreams / But then forget,” she croons - an arrow to the heart, shot with deadly precision. Faye has often used humour as a shield, with her saddest moments always having felt like they’re accompanied by a cry-laughing emoji. But ‘Underdressed At The Symphony’ feels like a contradiction that doesn’t work as smoothly. While it does see Faye and her band at their most musically warm and open - nearly every track is a devastating beauty - lyrically she feels more closed off than ever before.

LISTEN: ‘Thinking About You’



I Got Heaven


Across three albums before, Philadelphia four-piece Mannequin Pussy gracefully jump between visceral fury and melodic breaks, but never more so than on the opening title-track for their fourth outing, ‘I Got Heaven’. Stepping forward from 2019’s seminal ‘Patience’ – an album that pushed the scuzzy punks towards a whole heap of new fans – their latest opens with a hypnotic blend of shoegaze against lead vocalist Marice Dabise’s snarls, a balance that plays out with remarkable consistency as the album bounds through the indie bliss of hushed ‘Nothing Like’ and the dual-vocal hardcore punk of ‘OK! OK! OK! OK!’. Predictability has eluded Mannequin Pussy for the best part of a decade, and even with ‘I Got Heaven’’s consistency, it remains as reluctant as ever to settle. Having welcomed guitarist Maxine Steen into the fold full time and pulled together in a studio rather than across various bedrooms, the individual parts are fully elevated. Their brashness feels harsher and their melodies lighter, while the space in-between conjures up images of sunset dive bars and heavy smoke. Much like what has come before, Mannequin Pussy are cemented in time and place through a masterful storytelling that exists somewhere between lyric and sound. Their playfulness is underpinned by contradiction, the title-track pairing its lifting melody with religious discontent; ‘I Don’t Know You’ almost literally slides its guitars from ‘70s pop to ‘90s grunge with palpable delight, and closer ‘Split Me Open’ presents Marice’s complete resignation against a sucker punch of upbeat Britpop as she gleefully declares that “nothing’s gonna change.” It rounds out an album that delivers the band’s most concise sound yet whilst never taking itself too seriously, as Mannequin Pussy continue to dominate a world of their own creation. Ben Tipple

LISTEN: ‘Split Me Open’



Girlfriend Material

Virgin Music

A lot has changed for Lauran Hibberd since 2022 debut ‘Garageband Superstar’ – she lost her father and split from a long-distance relationship. The musical result is ‘Girlfriend Material’, a record that’s unsurprisingly a little more mature than the first one, but nevertheless manages to retain her trademark sense of fun. Early single ‘Mary’ and ‘90s Kid’ are both standouts, the latter combining Lauran’s resolutely British “no no no” with a resolutely American grunge sound.

‘I Suck At Grieving’ is a poignant, heartrending look at losing a parent, Lauran’s voice full of emotion. It’s followed by ‘Jealous’, a stripped-back pop-rock number on which she channels her inner Avril Lavigne. Elsewhere she combines pop hooks, fuzzy punk guitars, and honest, relatable words: from slower tracks like ‘Anti Fragile’ to energetic numbers like ‘Better Than I Was Before.’ A wellrounded collection of songs, ‘Girlfriend Material’ shows Lauren as an artist coming into her own, and her enjoyment shines through in her music. Adam England

LISTEN: ‘I Suck At Grieving’


ANOTHER SKY Beach Day Fiction

No one needs to be reminded of the years that have elapsed since the release of Another Sky’s debut ‘I Slept On The Floor’; least of all the band themselves. After a run of painful hurdles were thrown their way (including their previous studio flooding, and a “personal betrayal”), they have, however, emerged with a powerful new record that harnesses their collective rage and shapes it into something altogether more vivid. Where previously, singer Catrin Vincent’s vocals seemed to steal the show, here it’s her lyrics; the devastating admission of ‘I Never Had Control’ (“My body is so much more than what happened to it”) feels like a punch to the gut, before the track’s instrumentation swells to soothe her wounding words. Elsewhere, her lines are searingly direct (take ‘Death Of The Author’’s “Made so many mistakes / How many times can I fuck up my life?” or ‘Uh Oh’s “I’ll push you in the Thames on your way home”), while the record’s sonics - especially in the likes of ‘Burn The Way’ and ‘Psychopath’ - feel beefier and more powerful than before. By the time that the simmering synth-imbued ‘Swirling Smoke’ unfurls into its heady fog, it’s evident just how much the group have grown: ‘Beach Day’ is a fearless beauty. Sarah Jamieson

LISTEN: ‘I Never Had Control’

Landing four years on from the release of their debut, ‘Beach Day’ is a darkly evocative new record from the quartet; here, the band’s Catrin Vincent gives us a glimpse into its inner workings. Interview: Sarah Jamieson.

Your debut ‘I Slept On The Floor’ came out in 2020, and you’ve mentioned that you thought you’d already finished your second album around that same time; when and how did you realise that wasn’t the case?

The first version of our second album was really, really dark. At some point, we just realised we didn’t think the world needed that energy. The world needed something a little more uplifting, although the eventual second record is actually super dark. I personally was in a really low place. You’ve said this record sees you go more personal than ever; was that liberating, or challenging? Both! I just want to be honest in music and lyrically, now. I think that makes the best music and that’s all artists should really do. It feels really exposing, but now that I’m

older, I feel OK with that instead of trying to present this perfect avatar of myself as a frontwoman.

What drew you towards ‘Beach Day’ as a title for the album?

The album was originally going to be called ‘Death Of The Author’. My mum said, “that’s a bad idea”, so I thought it would be nice to have a more pleasant name. It’s the nicest memory I have, just sitting on a beach. When everything got overwhelming during the band’s fruitless one-week excursion to LA - where I didn’t feel I had enough money to fit in there at all - I went to Venice Beach and just sat there and realised I was going to have to live through chaos, but at least I could choose to sit on a beach and breathe through it. It’s the one nice memory during a really awful time.


 EMPRESS OF For Your Consideration

Giant Music

Following 2022’s future-house tour-deforce ‘Save Me’ EP, Empress Of doubles down on frenetic electronica for fourth entry ‘For Your Consideration’. Jilted by a Hollywood director pushing an Oscar campaign, Honduran-American musician Lorely Rodriguez acts as an ailing starlet - newly reckless and vengefully hornywho, back in the limelight, writhes in transgressive latin house and filthy future dance-pop, all while pitching herself to new lovers. Transformed from the heartbreak dream-pop of her bygone era, Lorely taps into the currency of sex as healing: experimental ASMR beats and thrashing percussive vocals amalgamate into a sensual and intoxicating off-piste production, only interrupted by the surprisingly out-of-place - but still alluring - features with Rina Sawayama and MUNA. Most indicative of the record’s genius (and that of collaborators Umru and Nick León) is the steamy run from ‘Cura’ to ‘Fácil’ to ‘Sucia’, a one-night-stand that reaches erotic crescendo as she rolls around in some, well, sticky substances. A far cry from the skewed R&B-meetsdream-pop of 2018’s ‘Us’ - but no less ambitious or emotive than 2020’s avant-pop follow-up ‘I’m Your Empress Of’ - ‘For Your Consideration’ is bilingual dance-pop alchemy. A post-break-up sexual revolution decorated with metaphor and sonic experimentation, that’s both dizzyingly unique and creatively assertive, this is a comeback that demands accolade. Otis Robinson

LISTEN: ‘Sucia’

Dizzyingly unique and creatively assertive.


Glasgow Eyes

Fuzz Club

Jim Reid once described the relationship between himself and his brother, William, during The Jesus and Mary Chain’s first run, which ended in ignominy in 1998, thus: “After every tour, we wanted to kill each other, and after the last one, we actually tried.” He is a master of dry understatement, then, but when he said of this first new record in seven years that listeners shouldn’t expect “the Mary Chain goes jazz,” he might have been underselling it slightly. If that last record, ‘Damage and Joy’, felt like the East Kilbride outfit were spinning their wheels a bit, there was a reason for it; many of its tracks were recycled from solo projects the Reids had undertaken in the two decades since. ‘Glasgow Eyes’, on the other hand, feels like a foray into the new, even as it marks the 40th anniversary of their seminal debut ‘Psychocandy’. This album has a bit of that one’s anarchic spirit, allowing the Reids to wander off down weird stylistic avenues. Driving rhythms derived from krautrock seem to be one recurring theme (‘Mediterranean X Film’, ‘Discotheque’), as well as the band’s most concerted venture yet into electronic-inflected territory; there are flickers of Kraftwerk, Suicide and the like on lead single ‘jamcod’ and spaced-out closer ‘Hey Lou Reid’, too. There’s the odd misstep - opener ‘Venal Joy Fast’ is Primal Scream at their most pub rock - but between the excitement of the new on ‘Glasgow Eyes’ and the presence of the more classic, indie rock side of the band on tracks like ‘The Eagles and The Beatles’, the band appear to have tapped into a rich new vein of songwriting form. On this evidence, here’s to the next forty. Joe Goggins

LISTEN: ‘Discotheque’


Half Divorced

Much like the milieu of bad news that continues to plague phone screens and news channels, Pissed Jeans’ sixth studio album offers very little room to come up for air. Filled with a seeping paranoia and the ability to take the mundanities of modern life and bludgeon any remaining joy right out of them, ‘Half Divorced’ is a bolshy barrage played out over the course of 12 short, sharp tracks. Opener ‘Killing All the Wrong People’ kicks up the dust with a hail of revving guitars, scratchy melodies and scraping clatter, while tracks like ‘Anti-Sapio’ and ‘Monsters’ utilise squawking sirens and whirring, extraterrestrial sounds to add an abstract edge to the shame and societal exasperation that seethes at their core. Elsewhere, Pissed Jeans draw straight from the hardcore punk playbook as screeching reverb plays the foil to Matt Korvette’s barrelling provocations on ‘(Stolen) Catalytic Convertor’, howling riffs ricochet against contorted, spat-through vitriol on ‘Alive With Hate’ and ‘Junktime’ serves up a kamikaze of guttural noise and scuzzy, incessant instrumentals. Veering from the personal (‘Sixty-Two Thousand Dollars in Debt’) to the politically-charged (‘Everywhere Is Bad’), ‘Half Divorced’ is the sound of a band at boiling point, with their whiplash wit and unbridled ferocity slicing through the tensions that permeate marriage, parenthood, failed relationships and the treachery of contemporary society. But, for all its butane-fuelled brutality, the band manage to find slightly less tumultuous ground by the time closing anthem ‘Moving On’ has whipped around. The record’s most - or, really, its only - upbeat offering, the track sees melodic guitar lines and shiny pop-punk stylings chug toward a heady singalong chorus that feels a lot like being jostled by sweaty strangers on a rowdy night at a karaoke bar. The feeling of finding collective and community amongst the chaos is inescapable and, despite the eternal hellscape we find ourselves living in, it seems Pissed Jeans are hell-bent on providing just that.

Charlotte Marston

LISTEN: ‘Killing All The Wrong People’


A handy lil’ list of albums worth getting excited for.


Only God Was Above Us

Showcased by (to date) two tracks, ‘Capricorn’ and ‘Gen-X Cops’, the follow-up to 2019’s ‘Father Of The Bride’ is out 5th April.




Below The Waste

The South Londoners’ third

fulllength and follow-up
set for release on 7th June.
Name Your Sorrow The Dublin noiseniks will follow 2022’s ‘Leave The Light On’ with this third effort, out 5th April.
to 2021’s ‘On All
Could Be Texas By now you’ve read the feature in this very issue, but here’s another reminder: Leeds’ next chart-bothering indie gang’s debut is out 12th April.
Sub Pop


 CHALK Conditions II

Nice Swan

Thundering out of the notional ‘gate’ in a stampede of violent electro-explosions, the opening of Belfast outfit Chalk’s second EP could hardly be more exhilarating. Like Gilla Band if they were having their guts reconstituted while time-warping through a worm-hole at a million mph, ‘The Gate’ is an adrenaline-spiking headrush of volcanic sensationalism. And while the rest of ‘Conditions II’ never reaches quite the same level of excitement, Chalk undoubtedly flex the full breath of their electro-punk muscle on the remaining three tracks. The sensuous, seedy clublands of ‘Claw’ - which they aptly describe as like “falling in love inside a nightmare” - takes a leaf from the PVA playbook in the way it crawls under the skin and burrows into bones through slimy techno rhythms. The intensely uncomfortable ‘Kevlar’ offers four minutes of catatonic fug, rendering all the endless horrors of a traumatic dream via a barrage of overwhelming synthscapes and harrowing vocal cries. Closer ‘Bliss’ takes another unexpected turn still, with an emotional overload of VLURE-esque gothic disco now added to the menu. On ‘Conditions II’, rather than providing us with a cohesive listen, the trio choose to deafen our ears, rattle our bodies and brusquely declare exactly what they’re capable of doing. Elvis Thirlwell

*anything they refuse to call an album

LISTEN: ‘The Gate’




The second flavourfully-named offering from Amsterdam five-piece The Klittens (following debut project ‘Citrus’), ‘Butter’ is a collection that stands largely at odds with the silky-smoothness of its moniker. Flitting from the bright, jangle-pop hooks of opener ‘Universal Experience’ to the underlying scuzziness of follow up ‘Atlas’, the EP has a ‘kid in a candy shop’ air of gleeful experimentation. Generally, this is rewarded in spades: the multi-layered vocal lines and brass flourishes of the former imbue it with dynamism, even in the track’s final third; but occasionally, the scattergun approach fosters additions that are perhaps too wide a sidestep (as with the warped, radio tuning-like effects on the latter). Elsewhere, the sonic variation continues apace - centrepiece ‘Reading Material’ trots along with a buoyant peppiness, while ‘Eye Contact’ and ‘Traffic Light’ variously employ plucked strings and textured riffs in a manner that respectively recalls fellow European exports Hinds, and indie sleaze blueprints The Strokes. Because nothing on ‘Butter’ is overly polished, the whole package can at times appear slightly haphazardly wrapped, but there’s an overarching sense of fun to its off-kilter fuzz that suggests that actually, this is precisely the point. Daisy Carter

LISTEN: ‘Universal Experience’


Still Learning

EMI / Chosen

Having translated social media virality into sold-out tours and festival headline slots with her outspoken Gen Z anthems, Caity Baser isn’t your conventional pop star – and on mixtape ‘Still Learning’, she continues to show zero intention of becoming one. Fuelled by female rage, opener ‘I’m A Problem’ kicks off the record in signature style, armed with stinging lyricism and dance-ready beats. Meanwhile, the sleek and sensual ‘Showgirl’ opts for a more experimental approach, laying jazz-inspired vocals at its centre. Whether she’s delivering unapologetic bite-backs at former lovers or embracing life’s imperfections, the 21-year-old’s vibrant personality shines through, with her fiercely honest storytelling weaving together eclectic influences. Placing defiant breakthrough tracks ‘Pretty Boys’ and ‘X&Y’ alongside introspective, vulnerable offerings, the mixtape is 13 tracks of pure creative chaos. From finding catharsis through breakbeat-infused production on ‘Oh Well’ to revelling in the unbridled confidence of the soaring ‘Choose Me’ chorus, Caity’s ability to encompass all aspects of coming-of-age continues to cement her as a leading voice for a new wave of artists. As her third body of work in less than four years, ‘Still Learning’ sets an early promise of things yet to come, but if there’s one thing that has already been proven, it’s that Caity’s rule-defying pop vision couldn’t be clearer. Emily Savage

LISTEN: ‘Choose Me’


Evil Adjacent

Don Chelada

There’s something about Cosmorat’s cut-and-paste alt-pop that’s simultaneously instantly familiar, and yet not exactly like anything else at all. Perhaps the closest comparison could be Hemlocke Springs for their magpie-like approach, taking snippets of musical gold from anywhere and everywhere to pepper their hooks with, or maybe even Finneas, as ‘Evil Adjacent’ showcases a similar knack of knowing precisely when to pare everything back and when to throw everything in for equal emotional effect. ‘Something In The Rain’ is the most obvious funnel for the latter, the ’70s soft rock licks that pepper what begins as an introspective, classic pop ballad crashing in repeatedly, Taylor Pollack’s vocal almost drowning in the choral style samples to reflect the song’s message. In turn, the song sits at contrast with singles ’S.A.D.L.U.V’ and ‘Backseat Baby’, both borrowing from playground rhyme in a way not dissimilar to Superfood’s ‘Bambino’ alongside ‘90s bubblegum pop to immediate, and pleasing effect: ‘Backseat Baby’ in particular gives off the air of being one lucky video away from viral infamy. As story so far, or hint of where they’re headed next, ‘Evil Adjacent’ shows an act worth getting very excited for. Bella Martin

LISTEN: ‘Backseat Baby’

 LITTLE SIMZ Drop 7

Forever Living Originals / AWAL

In the time since the previous chapter in Little Simz’s ‘Drop…’ series of EPs, a lot has changed if not for, then at least around her. 2021’s ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ won the Mercury Prize, cementing her in the British mainstream, while 2022 follow-up ‘No Thank You’ - alongside her starring role in hit Netflix series Top Boy - offered single ‘Gorilla’, which sealed an international breakthrough. Where ‘Drop 6’ opener ‘might bang, might not’ claimed “You ain’t seen no one like me since / Lauryn Hill back in the ‘90s, bitch” over a Missy Elliott-like beat, ‘Drop 7’ comes as Simz’s name is referenced alongside, not merely in comparison to, her predecessors. Her creative flex this time around is an anxious one, the claustrophobic production creating a dark, introspective mood that hints it could turn at any moment, a mood reflected in the deliberately delivered lyrics of ‘I Ain’t Feelin It’: “Know some people waitin’ on the day for me to fail / Never going back to bein’ broke, man, can’t you tell? / Talk behind my back and then they go into a shell (Shell) / Shell (Shell), shell (Shell), shell when they see me / Shelley’s nail bar only exist on the TV (TV)”. Potentially parasocial moments aside, the use of clubby beats adds an urgency (opener ‘Mood Swings’; the minimal ‘SOS’; the insistent interlude-like ‘Power’) and with bilingual bop ‘Fever’ already offering another viral moment for the now-superstar (there was no avoiding “She is a 10 / I is a 10” on a certain shortform video app for a hot minute), ‘Drop 7’ maintains Simz’s high-set standards while keeping excitement for her next move at its current high. Ed Lawson LISTEN: ‘Mood Swings’

DIY 61
SET LIST Feed The Beast Personal Hell
King Of Hearts Unholy Slut Pop Treat Me Like A Slut XXX Throat Goat Slut Pop (Reprise) Head Head Honcho Gag On It All She Wants Je T’Adore Problématique Deeper I Don’t Want It All Hillside Boys Can’t Do Better Sweet Spot Coconuts Alone 2.0 Heart To Break

KIM PETRAS Hammersmith

Apollo, London

It’s not all too often that Hammersmith Apollo feels less venue and more late night queer club, but such is the clamouring excitement that Kim Petras’ ‘Feed The Beast’ tour has rolled into the capital, it’s genuinely hard to believe it’s just another Monday.

Less than a week on from the surprise Valentine’s Day drop of her new ‘Slut Pop Miami’ EP, the glee surrounding the German-via-LA starlet’s arrival is tangible; as she arrives on-stage - clad in a gothic mask and silvery armour pieces, which are soon removed to reveal a flowing maiden-like outfit - the crowd goes wild for the opening throbs of the Europop-leaning ‘Feed The Beast’.

Mirroring that of many pop icons before her, the show comes split into four distinct acts; the first being ‘Iron Maiden’, in which she’s tied up, contorted and eventually, to the instantly-recognisable pulses of Sam Smith collaboration ‘Unholy’, executed with the high-definition backdrop doing most of the metaphorical work via dripping blood. After a short but PTSD-inducing “server crash” clip plays out, she soon returns, clad in a skimpy Britney-meets-Clueless school uniform to embody her ‘Slut Pop’ era, with very little left to the imagination; prudes beware, you are not welcome here.

Giddily bouncing through the infectious beats of ‘Treat Me Like A Slut’ and ‘Throat Goat’, she manages to simultaneously channel the slick in-your-face stimulation of Y2K and the cheeky camp spirit of ‘90s cult TV hit Eurotrash, helped along by pixelated porn clips dominating the video backdrop. It’s arguably this act in which Kim excels most, with the adoring throng of fans entirely besotted with her raunchiness.

In contrast, then, the comparatively more straightforward backdrops for her final acts - the glamour-puss aesthetics of ‘Problématique’ and bright colours of ‘The Hits’, respectively - don’t hit quite as hard; after such a deliciously outrageous first half, the cheeky, ridiculousness of ‘Coconuts’ could do with being even more OTT. But even so, tonight is an intoxicating assault on the senses, in the campest, and most joyous way possible. Sarah Jamieson

An intoxicating assault on the senses.


Roundhouse, London

This isn’t the version of Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes that we’re used to. Against the backdrop of a curtain, dressed in white suits, Frank Carter, Dean Richardson and their motley crew look less like they’re about to play a raucous rock ‘n’ roll show than they are some smooth lounge jazz. Then again, as they themselves proclaim, this is a new era, and these snakes have shed their skin. Their opening one-two – a debonair rendition of ‘Can I Take You Home’ and the lovelorn ‘Brambles’ - both come from the recently released ‘Dark Rainbow’ and usher in a quietly theatrical iteration of the Rattlesnakes. This is a show that warms up slowly

rather than exploding from the off, the music left to do the talking – Frank speaking far less between songs than usual, bar when rebuking a man who fails to step aside for the traditional ‘Wild Flowers’ women-and-nonbinary-only pit, to which the crowd gamely boos.

It’s when rumbling through their older hits that the energy spikes, with a scabrous ‘Devil Inside Me’ and rowdy ‘Kitty Sucker’ opening a pit and sending the crowd jumping. Indeed, the contingent in the cavernous Roundhouse seem to have come with a hunger for chaos, and their stockstillness for new ballad ‘Queen Of Hearts’ and half-hearted lighters-in-air moment in ‘Happier Days’ suggests a possible disjunct between what the fans are after and what the band want. However, the pleasingly loud chorus of voices for suave closer ‘Man Of The Hour’ suggest that there’s hope yet for their new material, and perhaps it’s just a matter of more time to bond with the newer songs that’s needed. Then again, Frank’s rubbing shoulders with the crowd and subsequent crowdsurf back to the stage for jagged old favourite ‘Juggernaut’ is a reminder that no matter their era, their punk spirit will be a steadfast constant.

NELL MESCAL Omeara, London

It might still be the dreariest month of the year, but on arriving at a packed out Omeara this evening, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Tonight marks the biggest headline show so far from rising Irish star Nell Mescal - while doubling as a key show in this year’s Independent Venue Week programme - and just judging by the buzzy chatter ahead of her set, the excitement for her arrival is palpable.

Just over twelve months on from her early showing at DIY’s First Fifty showcase at the Moth Club across town (which also featured current band du jour The Last Dinner Party on its line-up) it’s almost hard to recognise that Nell is the same artist when she emerges on stage. Bolstered by a crowd of adoring fans - most of whom sing along to every word of her released tracks tonight - her confidence and presence is on another level, with the crowd rapturously responding to her heart-on-sleeve anthems with raised voices and giddy swooning. She, herself, seems to be having the time of her life too, with a grin almost perma-fixed on her face throughout.

It’s little wonder as to why: with songs like pensive opener ‘Graduating’ and the bittersweet swell of ‘In My Head’, Nell is a perfect narrator for the challenging tangle of emotions that come entwined with your late teens and early twenties. Even her songs that are yet to be out in the open - the scuzzy ‘Keep You’ or the comparatively more intimate ‘Electric Picnic’, which sees Nell switch onto acoustic guitar - are met with the crowd’s unwavering attention. A show that proves how far she’s come already - and how connected she already is with her fanbase - have no doubt: it’ll only be bigger rooms for Nell from here on in. Sarah Jamieson


















































WED 1 MAY 2024



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Some of my best and happiest memories were spent at The Cockpit in Leeds. Friday night was called Brighton Beach and at midnight a surprise band would play for 30 minutes in the big room. The big room was where I spent most of the night. The little room was a bit too cool for me. I would trade my eyebrows for one more night out at Brighton Beach. Could I have the energy and waistline of a 19-year-old too?


I honestly don’t care who the headliner is. I just wanna get that feeling back. If you had to push me I’d say Supergrass; their 30 minutes in ‘96 would have been incredible. I’d be front and centre, no barrier, steal the setlist halfway through, and chain smoke. I still have a folder of all the setlists I stole at Brighton Beach. 50% of them are written on paper plates.


I would like there to be no support act. If there had to be one, I would like it to be one of the Britpop ‘also rans’ like Smash, Rialto, David Devant and his Spirit Wife or Gorky’s [Zygotic Mynci], although it seems weird to call them ‘also rans’ because they were my world and I knew the words to everything. For the support I would stand at the small raised bit on the corner to the left of the stage by the big doors and chain smoke.


I’m going on my own. There were always people there. The bouncer was nice, I can’t remember his name - my gut thinks Mitch - but we used to call him Sharon cos it was tattooed on his bottom lip. He’d sometimes give me a lift home if I got too tired and emotional.


I’m drinking £1 Heinekens or £1 Lucozade. Don’t mix your drinks, but I think this combo is fine.


My pre-gig plans are sitting on the top deck or back row of the X84, drinking quarter bottles of Clan Morrison whisky and singing made up songs with the boys from Otley descending upon Leeds.


The after party would be trying to meet the band and failing, and then ending up at someone’s house who had a sofa and a record player: the only two things we needed back then. It all gets a lot more complicated once your needs exceed a sofa and a record player.


Two Dixie Chicken burgers. You’ve got to keep your strength up.

‘Kaiser Chiefs’ Easy Eighth Album’ is out now.

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