DIY, May 2018

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set mu s ic fr e e f ree / is s ue 74 / may 2 018 diymag .com

olly alexander on using the dancefloor as a tool for change

Years Years && Years Years Disco DiscoInfiltrators Infiltrators


TGE 2018

Venue Address Komedia 44-47 Gardner Street Brighton

Personal invitation to annual Dutch Impact Party in Brighton during The Great Escape 2018 / Friday May 18th 2018 / Komedia / 12pm - 4pm Free drinks for delegates, look for Ruud Berends & Bas Reeders at the bar. Come and celebrate that the Netherlands is the lead international partner of this years The Great Escape festival. The Great Escape, alongside Dutch Music Export, will be highlighting an array of the country’s most prominent rising stars.

Rosemary & Garlic Day Fly Pitou Charlie & the lesbians Nana Adjoa Paceshifters Pip Blom The Homesick Canshaker Pi Iguana Death Cult

12pm 12:15pm / Studio Bar 12:45pm 1pm / Studio Bar 1:30pm 1:45pm / Studio Bar 2:30pm 2:30pm / Studio Bar 3:30pm 3:30pm / Studio Bar

Dutch Acts at The Great Escape 2018 Brass Rave Unit Saturday, May 19th Jubilee Square 4:30pm

Canshaker Pi Friday, May 18th Komedia 3:30pm Saturday, May 19th Horatio’s 10pm

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Charlie & the lesbians Friday, May 18th Komedia Studio Bar 1pm Saturday, May 19th Green Door Store 7:15pm

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Day Fly Friday, May 18th Komedia Studio Bar 12:15pm Saturday, May 19th The Walrus 8:15pm

Iguana Death Cult Thursday, May 17th Green Door Store 10:15pm Friday, May 18th Komedia Studio Bar 3:30pm

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NAAZ Friday, May 18th Sallis Benney Theatre 9pm

Nana Adjoa Friday, May 18th Komedia 1:30pm Friday, May 18th Marine Room (Harbour Hotel) 8:15pm

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Paceshifters Friday, May 18th Komedia Studio Bar 1:45pm Friday, May 18th Volks 10:30pm

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Pip Blom

› Thursday, May 17th

Paganini Ballroom 7:15pm Friday, May 18th Komedia 2:30pm Saturday, May 19th Prince Albert 9:15pm

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Pitou Thursday, May 17th Unitarian Church 9:30pm Friday, May 18th Komedia 12:45pm

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Rosemary & Garlic Friday, May 18th Komedia 12pm Saturday, May 19th Unitarian Church 8:30pm

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The Homesick Friday, May 18th Komedia Studio Bar 2:30pm Saturday, May 19th Green Door Store 10:15pm

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Brought to you by Dutch Music Export, powered by Eurosonic Noorderslag, Dutch Performing Arts and Buma Cultuur. With the kind support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.







Emma Swann

Founding Editor GOOD Parquet Courts’ newie ‘Wide Awake!’ is nothing short of a modern masterpiece. EVIL Getting very lost in the Royal Albert Hall. You’d think a circle would be bleedin’ simple. ..............................

Lisa Wright

Features Editor GOOD There are not enough superlatives in the world to describe quite how fucking PERFECT Shame’s London homecoming show was. An absolutely life-affirming, ferocious, vital punch in the face. In a nice way. EVIL I went to Tokyo and now I’m not in Tokyo anymore. The second bit is the bad bit. .............................

LOuise Mason

Art Director GOOD Getting pop star Hannah Diamond to shoot pop star Olly Alexander, it made a glorious morning. I also got to throw a snowball at Courtney Barnett. EVIL Quite sad I missed the Shame gig after recently hearing it was life affirming and perfect. .............................

Will Richards

Digital Editor GOOD Just LOOK at that cover photo of Olly. One of my favourite DIY covers ever. EVIL Bitterly cold snow is out, but it’s been replaced with sunburn anxiety. Woe.





EDITOR’S LET TER Ever since they first burst into our lives in full technicolour back in 2014, Years & Years have had us hooked. Now, as their sky-reaching new era begins to open up - androids! Dance routines! PVC outfits! - and frontman Olly Alexander takes centre stage, it feels both incredibly exciting and vitally important to have such a vibrant pop band within our ranks. Elsewhere, we get inside Courtney Barnett’s brain, explore Parquet Courts’ new excellent record ‘Wide Awake!’ and got all the goss on Bastille’s forthcoming third album. Plus, there’s the small matter of our verdict on the new Arctic Monkeys album… Head to p62 to read it now. Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor GOOD Went to see Arcade Fire play at Wembley Arena and it was maybe probably the best live show I’ve ever seen. EVIL Time seems to really be running away with us - festival season kicks off THIS WEEK for goodness’ sake!


W h at ’ s b e e n t i c k l i n g t h e DIY team’s eardrums this month? snail mail - ‘lush’

Lindsey Jordan’s debut full-length more than lives up to its title, helmed by brilliant lead single ‘Pristine’.

Boy Azooga - ‘1, 2, kung fu’

Following singles ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’ and ‘Loner Boogie’, the Cardiff troupe’s first effort is a wonderland of variation.

Friendly Fires - ‘Friendly Fires’

With the band making a glorious comeback on ‘Love Like Waves’, we’ve inevitably been rinsing their still-brilliant 2008 debut. Get those Hawaiian shirts out. 3

Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor Lisa Wright Digital Editor Will Richards Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Cady Siregar, El Hunt, Ellen PeirsonHagger, James Bentley, Joe Goggins, Kate Lismore, Louisa Dixon, Rhian Daly, Samantha Daly.

DIY is published by Sonic Media Group. All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of DIY. 25p where sold. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which Sonic Media Group holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of DIY or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.

Photographers Carolina Faruolo, Coen Rees, Eleanor Freeman, Hannah Diamond, Joyce Lee, Matt Richardson, Mike Massaro, Phil Smithies, Pooneh Ghana. Cover photo Hannah Diamond Photo this page Phil Smithies For DIY editorial For DIY sales For DIY stockist enquiries

mDIY HQ, 23 Tileyard Studios, London N7 9AH Shout out to: Arch One studio, Espero studio, Hannah Diamond, Nick Royal for making Olly look fab, Joe Parry and his large volume of biscuits, Meesh Bryant, AG Photographic, Pub on the Park, the weird little squishy Japanese stress relief bird toy that keeps us all (slightly) sane(r) and a special fuck you to the sun for coming out on print day when we’re trapped inside. You cruel shiny bastard.



FEATURES 34 42 48 52 56











NEWS NEWS NEWS On the eve of perhaps their most grandiose show ever, Bastille talk working on new music and

transforming their old songs, and tell us just what it’s like to be playing the Royal Albert Hall with a fifteen-strong string section and entire gospel choir. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photos: Emma Swann.



I’m just gonna be a

fucking weeping mess at the front!

- Dan Smith


or most of us, Sunday mornings are reserved for lie-ins and late brunches. Down in a corner of South London, however, at a rehearsal studio tucked away in an industrial estate, there’s no day of rest on the agenda for Bastille.

Arriving fresh from an overnight drive from Sheffield, after playing to a packed-out City Hall the evening before, Dan Smith and band are about to get to grips with their latest challenge: making the final show of their UK ReOrchestrated run even bigger. It’s on the eve of the date at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall that the quartet – who’ve already played four shows on the tour so far – plan to expand further, recruiting a host of additional string players and gospel singers and inducting them in just 24 hours. No big deal.

gorgeously harmonised a cappella ‘Pompeii’ that opens the current show, to the luscious, multi-layered renditions of ‘Flaws’ and ‘Good Grief’, their set treads a fine but breathtaking line. “The gig at Union Chapel was very intentionally restrained and intimate,” Dan admits. “These rooms are obviously quite a bit bigger, so we’ve been experimenting with the line between keeping it really stripped and really changing the songs, while

“I still don’t feel worthy of playing the Royal Albert Hall...” begins keyboardist Kyle Simmons, ahead of their final rehearsal, before Dan sums the feeling of the camp up quite succinctly. “I’m just gonna be a fucking weeping mess at the front!” Aside from the odd pre-show jitter, the band seem genuinely excited. “It’s been great working with a group of musicians who are actual musicians, and not just, y’know, wannabes like us,” Kyle continues, before Dan picks up: “We’ve been saying from the beginning that we want all the musicians on stage to have as many little moments as possible, and want it to be as much - if not more - about the other musicians on stage than about us. Some of the singers are unbelievable and having to sing alongside them is very intimidating...” Born after the band teamed up with London homeless charity Streets of London for a oneoff show at Union Chapel last summer, the ReOrchestrated tour sees the band transform tracks from across their discography. Originally arranged with the help of their part-time trumpet player – and full-time Public Service Broadcasting member – JF Abraham and “pulled together in a few days”, that first show gave the band an opportunity to see just how different their songs could sound. From the

also being quite faithful to some.” While some of their more recent numbers are completely altered, it’s in tracks from debut ‘Bad Blood’ - already packed “with loads of layered vocals and strings” - that the band can perform that bit closer to home. “In a way, getting to do this [tour] is [fully realising] that weirdly ambitious bedroom laptop record; a weird fulfilment of this thing that we started a few years ago.” “After playing the same old songs in the same old way,” explains Kyle, as the gospel choir begins warming up in the background, “it’s nice to give everyone a completely different experience, and to hear the songs in a totally different light.” “It’s just been wicked,” adds Dan, “it’s been a really nice excuse to go back to stuff we’ve not played before, or songs we haven’t played in years.” Revisiting old tracks isn’t the only thing that Bastille 7

have been working on over the past few months. There’s the small matter of a new album on the horizon, too. “It’s completely finished,” the frontman confirms. “I think [with second album ‘Wild World’] we were trying to acknowledge how complicated the world seems and do a record that was reacting to that. [That] was more trying to articulate how weird it’s been for everybody to just switch the news on and see awful things happening in the world. I feel like when we released that, we were on the precipice of what is now becoming unfortunately even more normal. “Getting into that headspace is something that everyone experiences – anyone who chooses remotely to read the news is gonna have an exposure to that feeling – but we perhaps went down that path a bit too much. The point of some of those songs was to try to capture that feeling” - that nagging feeling of hopelessness - “and look at the other moments in life that hopefully massively outweigh the bad stuff. On this new record, it’s very much still set in that world, but we wanted to make something a bit more intimate and personal.” Set to be more of a “night time record”, LP3 will “chart the course of quite a small period of time.” “With this record we want to make something that was way more cohesive,” he adds. “It’s shorter and there’s a slight throwback feel to some of the songs. It’s almost like the apocalypse is happening outside but, for a minute, shutting the curtains to that and enjoying what you’ve got for a second, which I think is a completely valid and sane thing to do.” DIY Bastille are appearing at Benicassim this year. Head to for details.


Calling all you Bastille fact fans! Their forthcoming new record - the follow-up to 2016’s ‘Wild World’ - will be the first not to be recorded in their infamous windowless basement studio! Oh no - the band have now officially upgraded, to Dan and longtime collaborator Mark Crew’s brand new studio, One Eyed Jack’s. “This is the first time we’ve taken time off to work on a record,” Kyle explains. “That’s why we’ve been really productive. Plus, the new studio is amazing and it really gave us a new experience - especially for Dan and Mark as it was in a studio that they had built.” The biggest plus, though? “Dan got a window this time...” he says. Well, it’s about time really isn’t it.

a completely different experience.”

“It’s nice to give everyone

- Kyle Simmons



Due to the name of our magazine, dear readers, we often get some slightly strange requests in our social media inboxes. Sorry, Jane from Surrey, but we’re really not sure on the best way to assemble your new desk. As our expertise lies far away from actual DIY, we’ve done the sensible thing and asked some of your favourite bands for their #1 DIY tips. We’re a magazine of the people after all. First up, it’s Izzy from Black Honey!

“It’s always best to take the tv and broken glass from the above window out of the pool before cleaning it and undertaking necessary repairs.” [Ed’s note: we think she’s referring to the old rock star trope of chucking a telly out of the window. Either that or Black Honey have recently had a big win on the scratchies and all installed swimming pools. We’ll let you decide which.]


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


Let’s be honest: she could conceivably be our Legend Of The Month every single time. Bey cooking a Pot Noodle would be more legendary than most things any of us will do in our whole lives. This month, however, she’s truly deserving of the title. Heading out to the California desert to headline Coachella (she cancelled last year because she was pregnant with twins - one of the more understandable reasons to pull a set, we’d agree), Bey made every one of our dreams come true. Of course, her performance included impeccable, scream-inducing dance routines and bangers for days from ‘Crazy In Love’ to ‘Love On Top’, ‘Drunk In Love’ and some songs without love in the title, probably. The set’s main mouth-open-wide moment, though, came when, casually, half way through the set, she GOT THE BAND BACK TOGETHER! Yes, ‘Yoncé was joined onstage by Kelly and Michelle to run through a medley of Destiny’s Child smashes, and the screams from a billion laptop screens could be heard across the globe. We’re still not over it here at DIY HQ to be honest. Bow down, bitches.

Jehnny Beth of Savages here, preparing for the day she gets the call to star in the new Harry Potter reboot. (@jehnnybeth)

Truly don’t need a caption for this. It’s Liam Gallagher in a cable car. That’s plenty enough. (@liamgallagher)

S P OT T E D Believe it or not, pop and rock stars sometimes do normal things, too. They get lost, go food shopping, and catch buses – all sorts. This month, we clocked a fair few of them roaming around… Jack White assessing his options outside the M&Ms store in Leicester Square. PJ Harvey watching said White Stripe at his not-so-secret gig outside a pub in London. ‘Princess’ Eugenie at the Bastille Royal Albert Hall gig. Preston from The Ordinary Boys looking perfectly ordinary in the cafe next to DIY HQ. Cav Swim Deep and Fred Spector ‘DJing’ at The Vaccines’ Ally Pally aftershow. 10

And finally, it’s Instagran herself! Namely Matt from Demob Happy’s Nan, lovingly crafting the band’s tour backdrop. (@demob_happy)


Studio 54 really isn’t what it used to be. 12

IN BLOOM Zac Farro may have spent the last few months touring with Paramore, but that’s not standing in the way of Halfnoise. The ridiculously productive drummer-turnedfrontman releases his new ‘Flowerss’ EP this month, and we got the lowdown. Words: Sarah Jamieson. Photo: Emma Swann.


o say it’s been a busy eighteen months for Halfnoise is a bit of an understatement. Since the release of ‘The Velvet Face’ EP in March last year, Zac Farro hasn’t just had one project on the go; he’s also been the full time percussion backbone for Paramore, who have had – let’s just say – quite the year too. And yet, between touring the world, playing festivals and performing at his own solo shows, he’s somehow found time to work on new EP ‘Flowerss’. “I started writing for it in the summer last year...” he begins, back on terra firma in Nashville following Paramore’s massive Parahoy! cruise. “It’s kinda hard to remember because there’s been so much going on!”

he told me, ‘I’d be worried if you felt like you had it all together.’ That’s when the best stuff comes out, when you’re at least a little bit terrified of it.” Heading into the studio in late summer, the whole process was about “having people participate, and not having these walls built up.” Instead of regular sessions, he’d invite friends down as and when they could make it, to contribute in whatever way worked best. “Because everything is so structured in my life, I wanted this EP to feel different to all the other things going on. I feel as though you can feel that freedom. It was a really special process for me.”

“I feel as though you can feel the freedom.”

While precision and planning was overtaken by what felt most organic when recording - “if there were excitable yells, or someone picked up the tambourine too early, we left ‘em in there because that adds to the feeling and the bigger picture” - there’s a tangible human element to Zac’s lyrics, too.

- zac farro

Born from a set of “ideas [he] had been noodling around with earlier in the year”, ‘Flowerss’ builds upon the woozy psychedelic nature of its predecessor and saw him joined by seven or eight friends in the studio – including nowbandmates Joey Howard, Logan Mackenzie, Daniel Kadawatha and Joey Mullen - some of whom you’ll also recognise from playing in Paramore’s extended live band - who added to recording “community style”. “I always like to write when we have off time, as it’s a really therapeutic space for me. It’s a space to escape,” explains. “With the last EP, I had it all down to a tee and knew exactly what I wanted to do, had it all mapped out. But with this EP, I remember thinking that I really wanted to release more music, but being terrified of all the songs even sounding as though they were from the same planet. Then, one day I was talking to Taylor [York, Paramore’s guitarist], and

“It’s so funny how you have to be aware of what you’re feeling to know how to act, but you can also get stuck within your mind,” he says. Across the EP, he plays with the idea of overthinking so much that life eventually passes by. “I have to think about things and process them, but I can operate out of the bad thoughts in my head so much that I don’t even enjoy the present. That doesn’t just happen in a relationship or a friendship, it happens reading a book or listening to a record. I’ll be so in my head that I’m not even enjoying it. Being present is such a hard concept nowadays.” Navigating the present might be a task keeping Zac on his toes, but Halfnoise’s future’s looking like smooth sailing. ‘Flowerss’ is out 4th May via Congrats. DIY 13




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

As Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman gears up to release her solo debut as TT, she tells Cady Siregar just how liberating it was to work on her own terms.



arpaint have always pushed themselves far beyond their boundaries. Guitarist Theresa Wayman is no different. With ‘LoveLaws’, her debut solo record as TT, Theresa tests herself as not only a musician but also a producer, a bassist, and a beat-maker. It’s a brilliantly personal work that depicts love at its most vulnerable. “It’s my softer side. My romantic nature,” admits Theresa. “It’s about being confused about having to feel good about that side of my life. I used the pain as an art form instead of letting it distract me from my music. It was cathartic! I was like, ‘Enough already!’” After years of touring endlessly, the guitarist needed some time on her own. “It’s about having fun,” she continues. “It’s about having fun with music. With Warpaint, it kind of became a little bit of… I felt like I was backed into a corner and had to fill a certain role. I just didn’t want to do that.” With nobody else to answer to on ‘LoveLaws’ but herself, she was able to channel a newfound creative side. “I was definitely [making the record] for me and myself only. I don’t care about what people expect,” she continues. “People kept saying, ‘You should add more guitar!’ and I’m like, why do I have to? Because I’m a guitar player in Warpaint? I wanted to explore other things.” “The whole point is getting to know yourself through what you’re doing and having fun and exploring,” she adds. “It’s pretty much the point of life. To me, at least.” ‘LoveLaws’ is out 18th May via LoveLeaks / Caroline. DIY

The Ninth Wave From mid-May, nationwide The Glasgow quartet have just released a storming second EP in the shape of ‘Never Crave Attention’, now they’re taking it on the road between festival spots, beginning in Manchester on 13th May.


23rd May, The Pickle Factory, London As you’ll have no doubt just read on this very page, Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman is the next member of the LA foursome going solo, with album ‘LoveLaws’ released on 18th May, and given its first London outing a few days later.

Stereo Honey 16th May, Electrowerkz, London The Londoners unleashed latest single, ‘What Makes A Man’ as a Neu Pick back at the end of March, the track loosely based around “a figure that starts to unravel”. Oo-er. Catch them in London this month. For more information and to buy tickets, head to or



A monthly place to celebrate the very best albums released during DIY’s lifetime

Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History Earwormy choruses? Check. Glitchy guitars? Check? A debut album that reaches the highest of euphoric heights throughout its ten tracks? Well, that’s gotta be ‘Tourist History’. Words: Sarah Jamieson.

Two Door sat worriedly outside the headmasters’ office, awaiting their fate.



or the best part of the last decade, Two Door Cinema Club have cemented themselves as masters of the dizzying indie-pop hook. Beginning their journey as a trio of fresh-faced Northern Irish teenagers with just their ‘Four Words To Stand On’ EP, it was with their gorgeously giddy debut that the band really made their mark. Released through label du jour Kitsuné, ‘Tourist History’ saw the band inspired by both the past and present. Named for their home town Bangor’s popularity with visitors back in the 1970s, as well as their continued time on the road ahead of the release, the record gave the three-piece - Alex Trimble, Kevin Baird and Sam Halliday - a chance to chuck their collective musical inspirations into the melting pot and come out with something altogether brighter and bolder. And that they did. While opener ‘Cigarettes in the Theatre’ kicks


Release: 17th February 2010 Stand-out tracks: ‘Something Good Can Work’, ‘Come Back Home’, ‘Undercover Martyn’ Tell your mates: Back when the band released their video for ‘I Can Talk’, Kanye West - yes, none other than Yeezy himself decided to post about it on his blog. How cute!

proceedings off in a suitably sparkling fashion, all glitchy guitars and infectious rhythms, it’s the likes of ‘Uncover Martyn’ and ‘Something Good Can Work’ – just as euphoric eight years on – that are the beating heart here. Unafraid of earwormy choruses and excitable melodies, it’s with ‘Tourist History’ that Two Door Cinema Club managed to embody that rush of pulling a friend up onto your shoulders in the middle of a festival crowd, or the carefree joy of teenage road trips and late summer evenings. Awarded the Choice Music Prize in 2010 and certified platinum just three years later, it would also become the springboard for a mammoth touring run, huge festival slots the world over and a career which has seen Two Door Cinema Club become those very indie pop masters. Not too shabby for three boys from Bangor. DIY Two Door Cinema Club are appearing at Benicassim this year. Head to for details.

JULY 19 · 20 · 21 · 22 SPAIN



4D TICKETS INC. 8D CAMPING £ 1 3 5/1 5 5 €*








Amb la col.laboració de / Con la colaboración de



.......................................................................................................................... Across their two albums - 2008’s self-titled effort and 2011 follow-up ‘Pala’ - Friendly Fires effortlessly strode to the forefront of British indie, adding a tropical, shiny twist along the way. 2011 was a long time ago, though, and on their return with ‘Love Like Waves’, it would take quite something to reassert their dominance. Unsurprisingly, though, they make it look effortless. Pelting straight into a carnival-like opening, Ed MacFarlane’s distinctive vocals come in, and it’s like they’ve never even been away. A shiny hammerblow of a return, the track’s chorus is punctuated by forceful stabs of piano that are grin-inducing. We’re not faced with a new Friendly Fires here then, just one that we’re incredibly glad to have back. (Will Richards)


The Collector .......................................... ‘Pretty Pure’ remains one of the best indie-pop songs of the year so far, a forceful but incredibly sweet thrash through gorgeous harmonies and biting vocals. ‘The Collector’ arrives as its b-side, and shows them as a multi-faceted proposition. Aoife Power’s distinctive vocals circle around reverberating guitars before a chorus as instant as we’ve come to expect barges its way in. Once again, Whenyoung are a true delight. (Will Richards) 18


Never Fall In Love .......................................... Sometimes, ending a relationship that just isn’t working can feel bravely victorious. That pure, unapologetic glee centres MØ and Jack Antonoff’s ‘Never Fall In Love’. Combining shades of offhand delivery from MØ with Jack Antonoff’s usual glossy pop production - by way of a massive chord change, and more bop than the national Bop It Extreme conference - is a sure-fire recipe for a winner. What a song. (El Hunt)


Pristine .......................................... “I know myself and I’ll never love anyone else,” sings Snail Mail, this first teaser of debut ‘Lush’ veering closer to the aggressively sad end of the spectrum she warned us about in a recent interview. It’s a slick refresher of her potential, and while debut EP - 2016’s ‘Habit’ - saw the Baltimore native sometimes masked by the minimal, fuzzy production of the record, here on ‘Pristine’, her words are left to roam free and hit like a punch to the heart. (Will Richards)


Fire Escape/Water Drop .......................................... On last year’s ‘V’, The Horrors found themselves rejuvenated. These two tracks, from the same sessions, provide even greater insight. ‘Fire Escape’ is a slinky, industrial cut that sees the band at their darkest, fitting perfectly alongside ‘Machine’. ‘Water Drop’, meanwhile, skips along far more freely, synth melodies popping out of the speakers with abandon. Even The Horrors’ offcuts are worth marvelling at. (Will Richards)


FES TIVAL S Before you know it, you’ll be knee-deep in soggy mud. Just you watch.



The Great Escape 17th - 19th May

The UK’s home of buzz returns this month with another haul of excellent new artists set to show off their musical wares for three days across the many, many venues of Brighton. Class of 2018 alumni Pale Waves, Goat Girl, King Nun, Sorry, Her’s, Nilüfer Yanya, and Ten Tonnes all feature, as well as longer-term loves The Magic Gang, LIFE, Demob Happy and IDLES and Neu faves Whenyoung, Crewel Intentions, BODEGA (see p26), Canshaker Pi (p28) and Snail Mail. We’re returning to pier-based boozer Horatio’s for the duration, hosting acts including Pale Waves, King Nun, Bloxx, and Drahla.


Thurs 17 May • Pale Waves • • King Nun • • The Orielles • • Say Sue Me • • Freak • Fri 18 May • Bad Sounds • • Her’s • • Sports Team • • Katie Von Schleicher • • Bloxx • Sat 19 May • The Regrettes • • Canshaker Pi • • Haiku Hands • • alaskalaska • • Drahla •



Ahead of the event, the trio tell us about studio goingson, getting stuck on roller coasters, and holiday destinations. We last saw you at our Hello 2018 gig series - what’s new in the world of Drahla? [Rob] Riggs, [guitar]: We’ve been in the studio with MJ again, working on some new songs which we’re all really excited about. Mike [Ainsley, drums]: There are lots of gigs coming up too! We can’t wait to play Robert Smith’s Meltdown on 16th June, that’s gonna be pretty special. You’ll be playing on the pier at The Great Escape. Are you a fan of theme park rides? Mike: Yes and no - I once got stuck on ‘The Ultimate’ at Lightwater Valley. It’s the longest rollercoaster in Europe I think… or at least it was. The cart stopped on the tip of the first hill. Pretty scary. Luciel [Brown, vocals/ bass]: I’m not really a theme park goer but I’ve been to the ones in Florida. ‘Tower of Terror’ was completely amazing. Riggs: A ghost train scarred me for life as a 5 year old. Fish in a bag was more my thing. It’s The Great Escape what’s been your favourite holiday destination to date? Mike: Tough question, probably Berlin. Love it there, especially in the summer. Luciel: Rob and I went to California a few years ago which was great, Lake Tahoe and LA were highlights. Berlin and Copenhagen are places I really want to go back to as well. Riggs: Blackpool’s meant to be good.

Komedia Studio Bar • Day Fly • • Charlie & The Lesbians • • Paceshifters • • The Homesick • • Iguana Death Cult • Komedia • Rosemary & Garlic • • Pitou • • Nana Adjoa • • Pip Blom • • Canshaker Pi •


Dutch Impact 18th May

Once again, the Netherlands’ top newcomers are Brightonbound, as Dutch Impact hosts a whole heap of ‘em at the Komedia. Each year, the Great Escape chooses a country to partner with, going all out to showcase acts from within its borders across the three days on the south coast. Recent partnerships have been with Switzerland (2017), Canada (2016) and France (2007), giving the festival an early peek at acts including Christine and the Queens and Alvvays.

This year it’s the turn of the Netherlands, and we’re teaming up with Dutch Impact - an organisation promoting Dutch bands worldwide - to highlight just some of the country’s buzziest right now. They’ll be found at Komedia on Friday 18th May, hosting acts including Neu faves Canshaker Pi (see p28 for more on them), Iguana Death Cult, and Pip Blom, who’ve told us a little more about their road to TGE below.

Q&A: Pip Blom It’s “the calm before the storm” for Pip and band, as she looks ahead to Brighton. Hello, Pip! What have you been up to recently? We’re in between tours at the moment. So we’re all working a bit and playing our first headline tour in The Netherlands. This kind of feels like the calm before the storm. I’m also working on new stuff so we’ve got a lot to choose from when we’re playing live. You’ve just finished up a UK tour with Sports Team - how did those shows go? It was a short tour but all the shows were really nice. We all really fell in love with them. Why should people come and check you out at The Great Escape? We love playing, and I hope that’s something that people can see when they watch us. Oh, and also, my brother [Tender, guitarist] has great moves. How’re you looking forward to returning

to the festival? Really looking forward to returning. Last year we loved it. I hope the weather is a lot better this year though, I like Brighton a lot, but three days of non-stop rain isn’t ideal. Have you had a chance to do some writing? If so, how are things sounding? Will you be airing any new tracks at the shows? I did, but not as much as I would have liked to. It’s difficult ‘cause when you get back from touring you need to work, to earn some money. And you also need to see your friends and family and all that kind of stuff. So sometimes it can be quite hard to find the time to write. But oh well, I am writing. And we’re recording too! So there’ll be some new material released very soon. I’m really happy with the result and hope people will like it too. We will definitely play a few of the new songs, so maybe that’s a reason to come and check us out at The Great Escape as well! 21


“Last year’s headline show was insane. We didn’t have the best weather and I remember seeing the tour manager at about 4pm when it was raining hard and he said, “If it carries on like this we’re not playing because Jamie’s gear is too vintage and it’ll get ruined.” That was a bit squeaky bum time but luckily it cleared up and they delivered one of our best ever headline shows sonically and visually. People were in tears, falling in the mud, laughing and dancing naked. It was pretty wild.”


“We had this flame haired force of nature play before she blew up and then a few more times since. Whether she was prancing around the stage in a green lycra jumpsuit or leaping into the crowd she never let us down with her pure energy and faultless vocals.”


“Everyone kept accusing us festival promoters of not taking risks with up and coming bands or newer headliners so in 2014, I took the calculated risk of having Foals headline. I really don’t regret that as it was 90 minutes of pure energy and musical magic with Yannis coming on like some insane whirling dervish and holding the audience completely rapt.”


NEWS IN BRIEF Despacio, the soundsystem developed by James Murphy and 2manyDJs, will take up residency at All Points East (25th 27th May) where they’ll be alongside Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lorde, Beck, and er, James’ other Soundsystem. Sunflower Bean and Iceage are among the latest additions to End of the Road (30th August - 2nd September), joining acts including St Vincent, Vampire Weekend, IDLES and Shame.

HAPPY B-DAY, BESTIVAL! Hurrah! This month officially marks fifteen years since the first Bestival. As Rob da Bank and pals get ready for 2018’s edition of the festival - which takes place from 2nd to 5th August down in Dorset - he takes a look back at some of his festival highlights from across the past decade-and-a-half.


“I remember first seeing Sam sing ‘Latch’ live with Disclosure on my Radio 1 show at Maida Vale and a few weeks later he did his first ever festival show with us at Bestival. He’s told me since he was very nervous but he didn’t look it; his vocals were pitch perfect and he owned that stage! He actually came to Bestival as a punter two years ago and he came dressed in a bear suit so no one would recognise him. We had to bundle him over the stage pit a few times when it all got a bit rowdy but he’s so down to earth he just embraced it. Hopefully he’ll come back and headline one day!” 22


“I have a long history with Kate as she used to do poems at my Sunday Best nights and she then got this little bluesy, jazz experimental trio together called Sound Of Rum who I signed to Sunday Best Recordings… Her arc just kept going and she had to fold the band but kept curating spoken word at Bestival and Camp Bestival for a few more years and we’re still mates, she is honestly one of the biggest talents I know and can remember hour-long poems and deliver them like a legend!”

Dua Lipa, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Interpol, and Young Fathers help finalise the bill for Roskilde (30th June - 7th July), which also features Gorillaz, Nine Inch Nails, Descendents, David Byrne and St Vincent. Madrid’s Mad Cool (12th - 14th July) is after new bands to play, launching Mad Cool Talent 2018, where a panel of Spanish industry bods will help pick 9 lucky acts from those registering their interest at Kevin Morby, Anna of the North and Kamasi Washington are included in the latest lineup announcement from Flow (10th - 12th August), where they’ll find themselves alongside Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar, Patti Smith and more.


DIYLIVE DIY isn’t just your friendly neighbourhood music mag. Oh no, we bring your favourite bands out of the pages and put them on the stage, too. Here are the shows we’ve served up this month.

Someone’s feeling pleased with themselves...

Our Girl

St Pancras Old Church, London. Photo: Eleanor Freeman. “We were in Texas this morning, so sorry if everything feels a little wonky,” remarks Soph Nathan. “I feel very calm though,” she adds peering around the purple-lit chancel. “Do you feel calm?” she asks. St Pancras Old Church murmurs softly in agreement. Considering that the core of this band is formed from a tangle of emotively thrashing, punch-packing grunge - Soph’s nimble guitar lines veering between ferocious longing to tender pockets of quiet, her deceptively soft vocal packing a fearsome punch - it’s an intriguing prospect to see them in another light with those dynamic opposites removed. To answer Soph’s question, it’s all very calming indeed. Our Girl’s jetlaggy visit to one of London’s oldest churches goes down as a meditative Monday treat. (El Hunt) 24


Rough Trade NYC. Photo: Coen Rees. “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!” might be a familiar sound in the UK, but here in New York? That’s the sound that the band walk off to after decimating Rough Trade NY, however. Tonight fully confirms that the US has taken to the Bristol punks too. There’s a circle pit almost the width of the room from the first note of ‘Heel / Heal’, a constant raft of crowdsurfers and stagedivers, and general carnage all round. “This is fucking ridiculous,” pants frontman Joe Talbot after ‘Mother’. “It’s a very strange feeling, this, but a beautiful one.” During the bleak ‘1049 Gotho’, he might as well not be singing, so loud are the cries of the chorus from the crowd. Later, when his mic cuts out during ‘Well Done’, the melee in front of him takes over his role. “It’s a good thing they know the words,” he quips to his bandmates afterwards. There’s some time to air new material, too. In a taste of what will presumably make up their second album, the five-piece preview a song about “toxic masculinity” that commands the room to “man up, sit down / Chin up, pipe down”. It’s as angry and uncompromising as you’d expect. Eventually the night and IDLES’ time Stateside has to come to an end, but not before one last breathless, sweaty rendition of the furious ‘Rottweiler’. Before half the band end up sailing across fans’ heads, united in sweat, Joe takes a moment to tell us what the gig means to them. “This has been the best experience of my life.” (Rhian Daly)

The Magic Gang

Bermondsey Social Club, London. Photo: Emma Swann. Tonight, headlining their own album release party at long-bloody-last, The Magic Gang find themselves in an unexpected position: vying with two dusty old Ed Sheeran albums for their place in the charts. And for all of their easy exchanges, there’s a sense that, as well as celebrating the present, The Magic Gang have seen a glimpse of just how much bigger they could go yet. During an especially raucous rendition of ‘All That I Want Is You’, they’re all cheesy beams as the crowd takes over lead vocals. And hearing “old but gold” favourite ‘Jasmine’ being roared on a par with the comparative baby anthems ‘Your Love’, ‘Slippin’’ and Kris-led crooner ‘I’ll Show You’ shows that The Magic Gang just don’t have a duff moment in them. (Will Richards)

























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“More bands should have pretence.� - ben Hozie





obvious desire to reach and strive for more: be that in the messages they’re packing or merely in the multifaceted, smart way they present them.

“Have you ever read the book Pretentiousness: Why It Matters?” questions Ben Hozie - one half of Brooklyn art-rock quintet BODEGA’s central songwriting duo. “It’s about how the etymology of the word ‘pretence’ is to try on something that’s greater than what you are. So if you come on stage with a pretence then it just means you’re trying to be smarter and more interesting, which I think is a virtue. More bands should have pretence because then they might say what they actually think rather than just ‘rocking out’ or whatever the standard garage model is for bands. It’s outdated. It doesn’t work anymore.” Beginning life in 2016 as the logical next step after former outfit Bodega Bay ran its natural course, leaving behind a mammoth 55-track album in the rock culture commentary of ‘Our Brand Could Be Your Life’, BODEGA (completed by co-vocalist and songwriter Nikki Belfiglio, guitarist Madison Velding-VanDam, bassist Heather Elle and drummer Montana Simone) enter the scene as a band that audibly stand apart from the “standard garage model”. Debut single ‘How Did Whip-smart, surprisingly funny and with an arsenal of society-shaking deadpan anthems to boot, Bodega are the Brooklyn band embracing pretension and moulding it into their own shape. Words: Lisa Wright.

This Happen!?’ - a wired, propulsive missive on “the guilt of the cultural consumer” that sonically references Parquet Courts’ eloquent punk and James Murphy’s self-aware speak-sing monologues in one stupidly exciting swoop – crash-landed back in February in a whirl of pop culture kiss offs (“This machine you know it don’t kill fascists”) and invigorated demands to selfquestion. It’s just the tip of BODEGA’s dense and intriguing iceberg, though. If their musings on pretence have a notable translation here, it’s in the band’s

Forthcoming album ‘Endless Scroll’ is a gloriously weird and nuanced distillation of this. Even its title is an amusing eyeball roll to the modern world. “It just seemed obvious that we couldn’t write a contemporary record without talking about life on the internet. It’s almost not even a critique, it’s just that’s literally what it means to be alive right now,” explains Ben. “The mantra of BODEGA is ‘the best critique is self-critique’ so if i’m criticising the internet, it’s not so much about it as this big abstract evil thing – it’s our personal use of it. What are we doing wrong?” There’s a line in ‘How Did This Happen!?’ - “Everyone is equally a master and a slave” - that seems to cut to the root of the problem. “What I mean by that line is that you can be a master of your digital domain in the sense that you can curate your personal brand and create your own little digital island that has all the exact colours and shapes and sounds that you wanna hear. But you’re not thinking, you’re being thought by this Web 2.0 apparatus so it’s not really your island at all,” he urges. “It encourages this homogenous way of thinking and that to me is sad.” You could never accuse BODEGA of bowing down to herd mentality though. See, on the flip side to this pretentious thought (a positive, as we’ve established...), ‘Endless Scroll’ is also by turns fucking funny (the piss-taking ‘Warhol’), wonderfully irreverent (‘Jack In Titanic’ is an ode to Leo’s doomed hero) and sexually empowered (‘Gyrate’ celebrates female masturbation). “When we started this band, we started with the mantra of ‘radical honesty’,” explains Nikki. “Most music has no accountability whatsoever. We have this thing called Pizzacore – bands that sing about eating pizza and smoking weed - that we make fun of, but it’s also a critique [of it]. People have so many choices that they’re afraid to make a decision now and we want to inspire a little more fearlessness.” Surging out of the blocks with eloquence and energy, BODEGA are one of those bands that make you want to do more. Question everything. Be curious. Read that book that’s been sitting on the side for months. They’re a vital jolt of energy against acceptance and apathy. Oh, and the songs aren’t bad either. “I think there’s a certain feeling that as the world becomes way more aware of power dynamics, privilege and all these things, there’s a moral imperative that if you’re gonna get up on a stage then you have to actually tell the truth,” says Ben. “If people’s truth is eating pizza and getting lit then that’s perfectly fine, but we wanna ask questions and get people thinking.” ‘Endless Scroll’ is out 1st June via What’s Your Rupture? DIY BODEGA are appearing at The Great Escape this year. Head to for details.


There are no half measures with OUTLYA. By the size and scope of their small-yetmighty output, an unassuming listener could easily assume the London-viaSuffolk trio were already gracing festival main stages and mingling in the Top Ten, so strong and confident have been their first steps. Debut single ‘Heaven’ is worlds away from the tentative first impressions of many bands; a huge, accomplished pop song with an immediate, punchy chorus built for hands-in-the-air in festival tents, it set the band on a path that they’re continuing to race down at a pace.


OUTLYA is - according to vocalist Will Bloomfield - an attempt to learn from the mistakes and wrong turns he and bandmates Willem Olenski and Henry Kilmister made in previous projects, and the sense of making things right seeps through every second of the band’s still tiny output; it’s defiant music made with a clear purpose that’s hammered home. “This is an amalgamation of all the things we feel we didn’t achieve in other projects,” he states, speaking during a dense

period of writing after the band’s debut headline tour of the UK. “We thought we’d try and fix all of the things that we hadn’t got right the first times. And that’s a really beautiful place to be, because you use hindsight to your advantage. Everything was really new, and it came with the chance to re-think everything and start strong.” New single ‘White Light’, following on from last year’s ‘Volcano’ EP, is the band’s most accomplished step yet. Recalling the pumping, off-kilter pop of Bastille, every element of the track is pushed to the red line, seeing OUTLYA as bigger, catchier and more fun than ever before. The ambition of the band - to go as big as it’s possible to go - is clear from their music, but it’s something Will vehemently backs up. “We’re definitely not scared. If it were ever to go to a bigger place, we’d be happy to go there. It was part of the thinking behind the writing of a lot of the songs, thinking ‘I want this song to feel like anyone could sing it back to me at a gig having never heard it before’. There are some parts of it that are dumb enough for people to just pick up as the song goes along.” A case in point for the latter statement came at the band’s jam-packed set at last year’s Latitude, with ‘Volcano’, unreleased at the time, provoking the biggest crowd reaction on the Alcove stage all weekend, the track’s earworm of a melody hummed and whistled all the way out of the tent by hordes of new devotees.


They may be in their infancy, but London-via-Suffolk trio OUTLYA

already possess an arsenal of pop belters. Words: Will Richards.

“We want to be a big band, and a lot of the bands and artists we love are the big ones. I don’t think there’s any shame in that,” he concludes. Possessing chart-topping ambitions and gargantuan pop songs, OUTLYAs they won’t be for long; this threepiece are pelting towards the mainstream. diy

“We’re definitely not scared. If it were ever to go to a bigger place, we’d be happy to go there.” - Will Bloomfield

Somewhere out there, Johnny Borrell’s got an empty wardrobe. 28



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TUE.29.MAY.18 THU.04.OCT.18


WED.06.JUN.18 WED.10.OCT.18


THU.07.JUN.18 THU.01.NOV.18


FRI.08.JUN.18 TUE.29.MAY.18



The Columbia-signed South Londoner melds weirdness and a disregard for genre. On last year’s ‘Liminality’ EP, Liam Ramsden - aka Mellah - proved yet again why South London’s genre-bending young scene is so lauded right now, twisting singer-songwriter tropes in every possible direction. ‘Paseo’, the first sharing from upcoming follow-up ‘Middle England’ is a creepy, twisting cut with complete disregard for traditional boundaries or templates, and sitting firmly in the realm of the unexpected is making Mellah a serious one to watch. Listen: Creepy new single ‘Paseo’. Similar to: The sound of the singersongwriter rulebook being comprehensively lobbed out the window.




Six-piece dragging midwest emo across the Atlantic with heavy social conscience. The re-emergence of Midwest emo as a real force in the State has been well-documented for getting on for a decade now, but six-piece itoldyouiwouldeatyou are the first true heirs to the twiddly British throne. New single ‘Get Terrified’ cuts through its potentially impenetrable shape-shifting nature with fierce, socially conscious lyrics and lashings of horns and gang vocals, and these vital tweaks on a well-travelled formula make them a refreshing prospect. Listen: The fierce, emotional ‘Get Terrified’. Similar to: If The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die grew up this side of the Atlantic.


Londoner crafting woozy songs of introspection. Since first emerging in 2016 with ‘Misantropé’, a track that saw him sit firmly to the left of the hordes of wishywashy singer-songwriters he could lazily be compared to, London’s Westerman has gone from strength to strength. New single ‘Confirmation’ skips along with breezy confidence, and has been described as a song about “not trying too hard when actually the best ideas come when you’re just going with it.” Fitting, then, that this seems like a walk in the park for Westy. Listen: The huge step-up of new single ‘Confirmation’. Similar to: Those lazy summer days where everything fits into place without you even trying. 30

Orchards Brightoners making

blindingly fun emo-pop. We’re not sure if it’s possible to make it through an Orchards song without the broadest of grins spreading across our faces, but we’re not going to waste time trying. Packing pop melodies into emo songs that defy convention, and penning lyrics that cover moving on from poisonous friendships, Orchards are a band to make you feel important, while also having a ruddy good time. Listen: Soaring newie ‘Luv You 2’. Similar to: The zig-zagging tendencies of emo and the directness of pop colliding in a beautiful mess.


buzz feed

All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.

Boy Pablo Viral Norwegian with swooning indie-pop tunes to burn.

Hot on the heels of Rex Orange County as Europe’s buzziest new star, Pablo Muñoz went viral last year with his dreamy, crooning slacker pop. He continues to impress into 2018, with new track ‘Losing You’ a frighteningly honest depiction of heartbreak. “How would you feel if I walked up to someone else and ripped their heart out? How would you feel if I said to you that’s how I feel,” he sings, and it’s this willingness to lay his heart on the line that’s making him connect so strongly. I feel like Pablo, indeed. Listen: The disarming ‘Losing You’. Similar to: The next dreamboat-in-waiting on the Mac DeMarco-led indie superstar conveyor belt.

HOTLINE BLING Ahead of a huge UK headline tour, everyone’s favourite Norway-via-Liverpool indie-pop duo Her’s have announced they’ll have a debut album out this summer, and have shared a new song called ‘Love On The Line (Call Now)’, maybe their poppiest moment yet. Listen and catch up with our Class Of feature with the pair on



Every week on Spotify, we update DIY’s Neu Discoveries playlist with the buzziest, freshest faces. Here’s our pick of the best new tracks: LOKKI ‘Breathe A Breath Of Me’

RICK’N’MIX With new album ‘Team Effort’ due out this year, Brockhampton have announced they’ve signed to RCA. Recent social media posts also suggest they’re working with Rick Rubin on new material. If that wasn’t enough, they sold out two nights at London’s KOKO in less time than it takes to make a cuppa. Not bad, lads. Not bad.

THE VIBE IS HIGH On the back of her massive UK tour back in March, Sigrid has been sharing a handful of new tracks, week by week. So far we’ve had the ‘Raw’, ‘I Don’t Want To Know’, and ‘High Five’ - and more are on the way! Listen to the new tracks on

The second solo track from Glass Animals’ Drew MacFarlane is a breathtaking, choral soother. ALASKALASKA ‘Meateater’ Dig your teeth into the slinky new one from these supremely exciting Londoners. UNDERWATER BOYS ‘Apricot’ Ahead of supporting Our Girl next month, the Hello 2018 alumni have shared the woozy ‘Apricot’. MIYA FOLICK ‘Deadbody’ On the follow-up to her ‘Give It To Me’ EP, Miya comes out fighting on a vicious, important new single. 31



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


Between supporting Peace, The Vaccines and more indie royalty, these Neu faves are playing a one-off headliner at Jimmy’s in Manchester on 4th May.

Factory Seconds,

Two Tribes Brewery, London. Photos: Louise Mason.


e’ve teamed up with record label Big Indie for a monthly night featuring a crop of new bands that we’re Very Excited About Indeed.

Taking place at Two Tribes Brewery, a new venue nestled in North London’s Tileyard Studios (v close to DIY HQ, FYI), we’ll be bringing you one top notch new band a month, in a lovely beery space, for the grand old price of free.

Brooke Bentham Fresh from her ace EP ‘The Room Swayed’, this North East newcomer plays Bermondsey Social Club on 10th May.

First up (11th April) were Factory Seconds, a London four-piece with a distinctly ’80s twist. The band’s three vocalists wormed around each others’ words with ease, and they’re a multi-faceted proposition: every hint of darkness offered was contrasted by a thudding, post-punk bassline and sunny, chorus-y guitar lick. New single ‘The Sleepwalkers’ showed off this duality best, sweet vocals clashing gorgeously with a booming counterpart. As an opening gambit for the new series goes, then, it’s a bloody smash. DIY

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

The Aussie surf punks release debut album ‘Hope Downs’ via Sub Pop next month, and bring it to the UK, playing Nottingham (18th May), Glasgow (20th), Manchester (21st) and London (22nd).

Calling all new bands! If you want to be a part of our Big Indie Big Nights series, then you can apply to play over at


CANSHAKER PI The Dutch quartet already have indie rock’s finest on side. It’s about time you

joined them, too… Words: Lisa Wright. Photo: Emma Swann. “There’s this South Park episode where they do a song about queefing, which is blowing air out of your vagina and making farting noises. I was singing it to check the mic and Stephen was in the control room listening. After, he goes ‘Nice vibrato on those queefs’. That was a highlight,” chuckles Canshaker Pi guitarist Boris de Klerk as the rest of his bandmates (lead vocalist Willem Smit, bassist Ruben van Weegberg and drummer Nick Bolland) simultaneously laugh in retrospective bafflement. They’ve got good reason to be baffled, as well. Namely because the Stephen they’re referring to is none other than Pavement lynchpin Stephen Malkmus – the man who basically pioneered ‘90s slacker rock and who also sat at the production helm of the band’s 2016 self-titled debut.


See, though the Amsterdam quartet may have only lately started making noise on British shores with the release of recent single ‘Pressure From Above’ – a rattling spiral of wonkily unwinding guitars that

they describe as their first “catchy pop song” (we’d argue they’ve got a few more) - Canshaker Pi have been pricking up discerning ears elsewhere for a while now. As teens, Willem and Ruben’s former band Palio Superspeed Donkey became breakout Dutch favourites, while Canshaker themselves – all still barely in their twenties - already releasing second album ‘Naughty Naughty Violence’ this month - having recently supported The Cribs, and Parquet Courts among others. “It’s hard getting out of Holland,” says Ruben. “If you get a lot of airplay and you play the shitty shows then you get some chance of making money, but not really in this niche [of music]. The popular bands in Holland are pretty shit. There’s a pretty small scene of good bands.” Bucking the trend and helming a wave of young and raucous groups coming out of the Netherlands (see also: DIY fave Pip Blom), Canshaker Pi have already laid the groundwork on some of the most credible foundations around. Now they’re ready to reap the rewards. DIY Canshaker Pi are appearing at The Great Escape this year. Head to for details. 33


With Years & Years’ second album ‘Palo Santo’,

let it


Olly Alex ander is smouldering away all negative energy and shaping communities from the dancefloor. Words: El Hunt.

Photos: Hannah Diamond. 35


ears & Years’ ringleader Olly Alexander - clad in a magnificent pair of PVC overalls (his second costume change of the day) - is currently milling around an East London photo studio, thoughtfully munching on cookies, and discussing Mariah Carey in great detail. The megastar pop icon has hit the news this same week after speaking publicly about her bipolar disorder diagnosis for the first time, and Olly’s quick to commend her bravery in letting down her barriers. “I think it would be nice to believe that pop stars and famous people are just incredibly happy and fabulous; that they move glitteringly through the world, and that everything they touch turns to gold,” he reasons. “But it’s a fantasy. Actually, I think vulnerability - and being able to be vulnerable - is a sign of real strength.” You sense that Olly lives by these same words as he navigates the landscape of being a pop star in 2018. In the three years following Years & Years’ rapid rise to the highest echelons of the charts, he’s gradually morphed into something of a public figure, too. A prominent spokesperson on mental health and LGBT activism in particular, he dedicated the band’s landmark Glastonbury show in 2016 - which took place roughly a year on from the release of debut album ‘Communion’ - to pride, promising to “shove a rainbow in fear’s face” in an emotional speech to the assembled crowds. A year later, he took a camera crew back to his unassuming hometown for a moving BBC documentary titled ‘Growing Up Gay’, and was very honest in discussing his experiences with bullying, eating disorders, and anxiety. ‘Palo Santo’ - Years & Years’ second

location of the world’s only Ribena production plant. It wasn’t exactly the epicentre of queer culture, especially given that the nearest gay bar - Flamingos - was thirty miles away in Bristol, and located the other side of a toll bridge. “I was actually too scared to go to Flamingos,” Olly remembers, laughing. “I love that as a name for a gay bar. Flamingos!” he announces, with grand intonation. ”[Coleford] was never a place that felt connected to anything queer when I was growing up.” “I did like growing up around trees and fields, pretending I was a fairy,” he adds, chirpily. “I enjoyed getting that experience.” Rather than heading to the now-closed Flamingos (RIP), Olly surrounded himself with a sea of pop bangers growing up instead, worshipping at the altar of Christina, Britney and TLC. And speaking of worship, he also remembers taking notice of another prominent community in the town: the church next door to his house. Though organised religion wasn’t his bag, the strange rituals decorating an orange for Christingle,

“Being able to be album - is a continuation of this, combining ridiculously overblown, brilliantly lavish sci-fi landscapes and gigantic pop ambition with an amped-up sense of honesty, and a space-reclaiming edge that defies the presence of negative energy. Today, he observes that one of his chief goals as an artist is to write the songs that would’ve lifted him up as a teenager still searching for a community.

vulnerable is a

After spending several years moving around the country living next to a variety of theme parks - the singer was born in Blackpool, where he lived next door to the Pleasure Beach, before moving down the road from both Alton Towers and Drayton Manor in Staffordshire - Olly and his mum settled into rural Gloucestershire life when he was thirteen. Trading in the garish Blackpool illuminations for the distant glimmer of the Severn Bridge, it was a drastic change in pace. “It always gets described as sleepy, Coleford,” Olly grins, having swapped his neon-orange PVC vest and chain (another of today’s outfits) for something a little more practical. Up until it became the hometown of Years & Years’ frontman, the small market town boasted a ukulele expert as one of its most famous residents, and was perhaps best known for being the


reciting the Lord’s Prayer at his local Church of England primary school - proved intriguing. Later in life, he’d grow to view songwriting as similarly cathartic and mysteriously healing, as well as noticing odd parallels between a church’s sense of belonging, and the celebratory freedom that exists in a space filled with dancing, thrashing bodies, and filthy, sexy pop. As Years & Years were starting to etch out the first strokes of ‘Palo Santo’ at the beginning of last year, Olly explains he was “newly single”, and reading a lot of books in his spare time. Besides taking on the mammoth task of conquering David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, he also picked up Andrew Holleran’s cult novel Dancer From the Dance, set amid New York City’s LGBT disco scene in the 1970s. As well as being flamboyant and fun - presenting a campy, fabulous surface world that’s soundtracked by The Marvelettes and Sister Sledge - it’s also a

Olly: Channelling East 17 chic 2k18.

sign of real strength.� - O lly Alex ander



“What is the while Olly’s current favourite ‘Lucky Escape’ confronts the more unlikeable aspects of our own emotions. “It’s such a petty song!” he reasons. “I was quite sick when I recorded the vocal for it, and I can really hear when I listen to the song that I’m not feeling very well. I don’t like the person that’s saying those words in a way, but it’s an honest reflection of what I was feeling at the time. I’m proud to put that on there.”

point of a pop star in 2018? heartbreaking read, documenting the “psycho-sexual drama” of desire, and touching on both loneliness and immense inequality. It’s a double-edged sword that also exists in ‘Palo Santo’. “It talks a lot about how the club is like a church; a church for gay people to go and dance, and I was like, yes!” Olly says, excitedly. “This is putting into words how I’ve been feeling for so long, and what I’ve been trying to communicate in music. It really inspired me to write a lot,” he says. One song on ‘Palo Santo’ directly credits the book as an influence. “I breathe the rituals of the dancer’s dance,” he sings on ‘Sanctify’. “When I see dancers, their body is their medium,” he notes. “The art is their body. What an amazing embodiment of creativity, to literally be your limbs and your expression and movement! I’ve always been enchanted by dance,” he says. “Plus, I think a pop video should have dance in it, too. It’s a prerequisite! A bit of choreography! You want that fantasy moment where everybody’s going to burst into dance. Some choreo! I just think, if you can’t do that in a pop video, where can you?” Such considerations rule on ‘Palo Santo’, an album that pushes every last bold facet of pop to the maximum extreme. Set in a highconcept, futuristic world which plays on traces of real life to sneaky, allegorical effect, it also sees Years & Years more fearless than ever. One pulsing highlight, ‘Hallelujah’, dives straight onto the dancefloor to find healing in letting loose,

Over the past three years, he says, he’s started to realise that pushing his own boundaries reaps creative rewards. “Putting yourself in an uncomfortable position - in terms of the creative process - it usually means you’re going to get something worthwhile,” he adds. “I really had to get past the levels of pettiness... sometimes it made me laugh. I’d be writing a song when I was so angry at my ex-boyfriend. I would never want to present this to the world, where I’m just this bitter ex who’s still hung up on him!’ Olly admits. “[But] actually, sometimes we are hung up! It’s an ugly, but also truthful and beautiful, side to our humanity. I had to be OK with it.” Another standout, called ‘Rendezvous’, meanwhile, contains hints of Jennifer Lopez’s euro-banger ‘On the Floor’ (“it does!” Olly exclaims in agreement) and explores hook-up culture, along with unpacking his

...what should

they be saying?” - O lly Alex ander

immediate feelings as a relationship draws to a close. “After a relationship you think, maybe the things they did weren’t as well intentioned as I thought they were?” he says. “I was in my petty, angry phase. I have had a lot of experiences with guys where the sex has felt like this depressing inevitability. We’re gonna meet up, and we’re going to have sex. That’ll kind of be it, and then on to the next person. What’s happening in that interaction, and what happens in that interaction when it’s someone you want more from?” he asks, pausing.


HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM SEGMENT Last time Olly spoke to DIY, he was very excited about his purchase of a brand new memory foam mattress.

“I also just really wanted to write And so naturally, we followed up for a full review. a song called ‘Rendezvous’!” he It’s great! One of my best purchases I’ve ever made! It came adds. “I think I’d smoked a really in a box - an actual box! - and then it expanded. A bit like a big joint before I wrote that song, science experiment, in your bedroom, which I’m always for. so there’s that, too. Beyoncé would have a song called ‘Rendezvous’ and she’d kill it! She has ‘Déjà Vu’, of course. Britney loves a French moment, too. With stuff like that, you just need conviction.” Conviction is a word that springs to mind easily when you’re talking to Olly Alexander. As well as his commitment to sharing his own experiences with unwavering honesty, Years & Years’ new era feels like a step onwards from the anonymous throngs of bodies that once grabbed at the frontman way back in the video for ‘King’. Performing solo gyrating routines for a panel of extra-terrestrial judges as the trio returned with ‘Sanctify’ - a bit like a filthier Strictly Come Dancing if it were set in an alternate universe - it’s the very definition of conviction. And with bandmates Emre Turkmen and Mikey Goldsworthy also taking on a slightly different role this time around - acting as behind the scenes production wizards and, as Olly puts it, “his musical husbands” - there’s a sense he’s also careful when it comes to handling his newfound platform responsibly. “What is the point of a pop star in 2018?” he asks nobody in particular. “What should they be saying?” Heading into ‘Palo Santo’ with the aim of creating a record that tackles the intricacies of belonging in a world that feels increasingly dangerous and fragmented, the band crafted an entire fictional landscape to explore the darker grit. “It felt too monumental, hard or depressing to set everything in our real world,” he reasons. “I thought a lot about where I could make a place where we take out all the rules surrounding gender identity and sexuality. I thought, well, why don’t we just have everybody be androids?” he laughs. “I’ve always loved artists that take people to their mad world with them, like Bowie, Prince, Gaga. I thought, I want to do something like that, and go as big as possible,” he concludes with resolve.

The album title ‘Palo Santo’ translates from Spanish into ‘Holy Wood’. Please tell us that’s what we think it is? “It is, you’re correct,” Olly cackles. “The whole thing, basically I had this brief affair with this guy who had a boyfriend. He was burning palo santo sticks in his house, and I’d never come across them before. I was fascinated by them, I thought they smelt nice, and he gave me some, and it stuck in my mind. Then I wrote a song called ‘Palo Santo’ which was connected to the experience, and I loved how magical it sounded. I didn’t know what it translated to, and then when I found out, ‘Holy Wood’, I was literally like, oh my god, this could not be more perfect. I’ve met so many guys who think their wood is holy. It tied together for me. I thought, yes, brilliant.”

With ‘Palo Santo’, Years & Years have done just that, flinging open the doors on a vastly ambitious universe that ignites life’s bullshit in a blaze of euphoria. Infiltrating the mainstream with dagger-edged pop - and doing it in fantastical, glittering style - Olly Alexander might just be the most important pop star we have in 2018. ‘Palo Santo’ is out 6th July via Polydor. DIY


Dick Joke


Inside Inside 42

Delving inside her own brain for second album ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’, the Melbourne musician has finally grown accustomed to her out-of-the-blue success and the glare of the spotlight. Words: El Hunt. Photos: Phil Smithies.

Courtney’s Courtney’s Barnett Barnett 43


commuters slide and stagger about the ice-covered pavements of London - reenacting a very shoddy take on Torvill and Dean’s famous Bolero figure skating routine as they tumble to the floor - Courtney Barnett appears to be the only person in the city immune to the Beast from the East. “I love it!” she exclaims, striding down the street with a snowflake-covered beanie perched atop her head. “I never see it, so I think snow is really exciting and romantic,” she beams later on, tucked away from the storm with a cold beer in hand. Soon enough, she’s whipping out her phone to show off pictures of her beloved cat, Bubbles, waxing lyrical about long-term girlfriend Jen’s [Cloher, musician and fellow Milk! Records boss] talent for cooking veggie stir fry, and declaring that she actually really likes her new album’s cover art. To be honest, it’s slightly surprising to find her being so open and upbeat at first.

‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ is an album that turns the lens back around on its creator. While her first album felt - to quote her words back then - like “turning my brain inside out and showing it to everyone,” the follow-up tries to make sense of her inner-workings instead. “I was writing endlessly, and recognising lots of recurring themes and being like, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m thinking about!’” she explains, picking things apart today. ”That’s what’s on my mind, obviously! I think turning up and sitting face-toface with your… stuff,” she ponders, “each day, whether it’s whatever emotional stuff I was going through, or the thing that tells you that you can’t write… it was very up and down. But I think that’s just me in general,” she adds more brightly. “Jen says I’m happy in the morning, depressed in the afternoon, and then OK again. There are a couple of lines that when I hear them I think, ‘ouch, that’s personal’,” she admits. “but I didn’t wanna take it out because it was integral to the thing. When I think about the music I’m inspired by most, it’s one hundred times more personal than that.”

Last time Courtney visited London on press duties, ahead of releasing 2015 mega-smash debut ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think As markedly confident as this record may be - fronted by a and Sometimes I Just Sit’ - she cut an altogether different picture of her own face for a change, slightly too close, and picture. Affable and quietly witty - albeit in an awkward looking blankly perplexed - don’t go thinking she’s switched kind of way - she also found it near-impossible to talk about into a new era of all-guns-blazing rock stardom. Typically selfherself. Shifting about in her chair, most of what she said aware, and witty even when she’s tackling her own hang-ups, was either highly self-deprecating, or addressed to a nearby she doesn’t even sing the vocals on the particular line which table. Sometimes, it was both. Over the course titles the entire thing; instead of a single hour last time we spoke, Courtney she called in a favour from The claimed she was rubbish at: words, remembering Breeders’ Kim and Kelley Deal, who things, drawing, art, table tennis, and dealing guest for the hook. And the with jetlag. Unconsciously refusing to refer song which houses that pivotal, to herself in the first person, every discussion album-naming lyric? Why, it’s about her own music clung onto “the band”, or called ‘Crippling Self-Doubt and “we” as a safety buoy. There was a sense that, a General Lack of Confidence’, of flung outside of Melbourne’s close-knit DIY course! Is your cat, Bubbles, community, she was struggling to make sense supportive of your of her own surprise success story. Presented As well as charging her own anxieties with music career? with SNL season finales, momentous festival humour, Courtney’s also darkly amusing on “You wanna see a slots, an infinite line of eager collaborators, ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ when she directly picture? Isn’t she GRAMMYs, and sell-out shows across the tackles social issues for the first time. While pretty! She doesn’t world, her main takeaway was the immense debut cuts ‘Elevator Operator’ and ‘Depreston’ like music that pressure to follow it all up. The oft-repeated might’ve slyly nodded at capitalist fatigue much. Whenever we fable of a ‘difficult’ second album kept on and creeping gentrification in their own play guitar in the rearing its head, mainly because other people way, ‘Nameless, Faceless’ - this album’s first house she runs away wouldn’t stop banging on about it. “I don’t single - takes on rape culture and misogyny and gets mad. It’s think you can really ignore [that pressure],” with brand new bombast, paraphrasing because the guitar’s Courtney comments today. “Especially because The Handmaid’s Tale and offering hugs to on my lap, so she everyone kept asking me that question,” she lonely keyboard warriors. “Men are scared can’t sit there. She laughs. “[But] the more I wrote, the more it that women will laugh at them… women gets threatened. made sense; this just needed to be something are scared that men will kill them,” she rages She doesn’t like that I cared about.” on the chorus, the huge gulf between the the sound of loud two threat levels creating an uncomfortable things, but I find her While her debut album ‘Sometimes I Sit and tension. “‘Nameless, Faceless’ just kind of came very emotionally Think..’ was a feast of quirks and microcosms out,” she explains. “I’d been talking about tuned in. When I’m telling meaningful stories through splattered that a lot with friends, and it can’t be avoided truly sad or sick, roadkill, pressed metal ceilings, and soy linseed in a way. I was reading a lot about domestic whenever I get the Vegemite crumbs - her second album takes a violence and stuff that had happened in flu or whatever, she notable swerve in a different direction. Instead Melbourne, and I was focused on it for that knows what’s going of taking a microscopically-detailed interest period. It came out like that.” Shifting her on, and she’s there. in depicting the quotidian world around her, attention to the mocking verses, and that killer Intuition.” 44

I can communicate how I’m feeling all of a sudden!”


It was very up and down, but I think that’s just me in general.”


chorus, she’s quick to note the bleak strain of humour. “It’s funny in a way, but really not,” she remarks. “I’ve never really understood how and why that kind of humour tool works so well, but I think maybe it catches your attention, and catches you off guard, in a way?” she goes on. “It catches me off guard when I hear something like that. You’re like, ‘hah hah, that’s funny,’ and you understand the meaning. One of my friends was saying that when the song came out they were talking about that line [in the chorus] and she was explaining it to her boyfriend, because he didn’t quite get it. I would have trouble explaining it, but it makes sense to me.” It’s a line that makes sense to the majority of women, trans and/or non binary people, and other marginalised communities listening to ‘Nameless, Faceless,’ too. The anger and fear that charges this record - keys clenched between fingers - is very real, and for many people, all too relatable. Beginning her second record with a promise to take a broken heart, and turn it into art, ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ ends with a gentle reminder that you’re not alone on

‘Sunday Roast’ - a song Courtney started writing when she was thirteen, and only finished last year after the words finally came to her. Turning her knack for examining other people with a curious and descriptive hand back towards herself, this album might not arrive at any concrete answers, but it points towards a musician who’s done squirrelling herself away behind barriers, and is ready to connect, directly. In yet another surprising turn of events, the infamously introverted Courtney - renowned for sparing stage patter and a fixation with gazing at her shoes - is chomping at the bit to start performing it. “I’m so excited!” she declares. “I’m really excited, I can’t remember being so excited last time… I think it’s because it happened quickly?” she wonders. “Nah, I dunno. Anyway, I’m excited to play these new songs. I just realised how much I love performing, recently. The physical, amazing thing it gives me. Everything suddenly… I can communicate how I’m feeling all of a sudden!” ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ is out 18th May via Marathon / Milk! DIY



After a more melancholic turn on 2016’s ‘Human Performance’, Parquet Courts have reignited the fires for ‘Wide Awake!’: their most direct, confrontational and downright important album to date. Words: Lisa Wright.


an the headline be, ‘Parquet Courts have recorded their ‘Tubthumping’?’” asks Andrew Savage wryly, as he and co-frontman Austin Brown both let out a dry chuckle. Yes, in case of any confusion, they are talking about Chumbawumba’s beery anthem. And yes, we honestly are talking to the right band. Of course, the twitchy Brooklynites haven’t actually recorded an album of laddy sing-alongs and there’s precious little mention of getting knocked down and then back up again across sixth album ‘Wide Awake!’, but there is something to be said for the analogy. Ditching the more introverted, downbeat tendencies of 2016 predecessor ‘Human Performance’, ‘Wide Awake!’ instead thrives on wired and punchy directness. There’s even an exclamation mark in the title, just to make damn sure you know they’re going


for the jugular this time around. The quartet’s newest, like the aforementioned ‘Tubthumping’, could even, perhaps, be labelled almost... accessible? “Accessible means something different to me but I understand that point,” muses Austin. “When I think of more accessible music I think of something more generic, which I don’t think anyone would say about our band. But the music isn’t challenging to listen to, it’s not a noise record, and that was kind of part of the concept - to be something that you could dance to and that was groovy, but that also had strong meaning in the songs too. Accessible can be advantageous...” Having broken through with 2012’s ‘Light Up Gold’ as an uncompromising, unflinching proposition with an encyclopedic knowledge of punk’s more esoteric side-roads and about as much personability (in matters of the press, at least) as that description might suggest, the fact that Parquet Courts are now even entertaining words like ‘accessible’ is a new development. Despite their success, they’ve always seemed like a band who’d rather be loved by few than liked by many. “Even bands like The Fall and Psychic TV have their accessible periods, and then periods that are really austere and challenging,” shrugs Andrew by way of explanation. And if this is their version of the former, then let’s not forget they’re secretly packing a fair whack of the latter in with it, too.

See, although you need only listen to the scattershot beats and shakers of the album’s title track to see that ‘Wide Awake!’ exists in a largely different sonic realm to, say, 2014’s ‘Sunbathing Animal’ (“That was just like, one note [throughout]. That’s challenging to a listener,” notes Andrew), what Parquet Courts have actually done this time round is far from simple. Thought they’d just written a load of upbeat bops? Come on, you should know them better than that by now. Existing firmly in the politically fraught and tumultuous modern world, ‘Wide Awake!’ instead rings with energised and combative missives designed to grab people by the shoulders and force them to sit up and think. “It’s shaking people up, you know? Don’t be seduced so easily into nihilism and apathy. Because that’s definitely an easier road than actually taking this stuff head on, right?” questions Andrew. “Young people are growing up in a culture where there’s the internet and Trump and then there’s more progressive, idealistic politics; there’s basically hope and wilful non-hope.” Here, Parquet Courts are actively and determinedly choosing hope. On opener ‘Total Football’ – based around the sporting theory of the same name that suggests that a team is best when all of its players can take the place of and cover each other – they assert that “collectivism and autonomy are not mutually exclusive.” On ‘Violence’, Andrew barks a barely-contained, speak-sing stream-of-consciousness that crescendoes with the

“When people examine this moment in time, I want it to be clear what Parquet Courts stood for.” - Andrew Savage


line “Savage is my name because savage is how I feel... My name is a threat”. ‘Normalisation’, meanwhile, finds them questioning personal agency in the modern world: “Lately I’ve been curious, wondering do I pass the Turing test [conducted to see if man is smarter than a robot]? Do I think?”. The whole thing is an impassioned tumult of words designed to question the status quo, wrapped in a deceptively perky exterior. Parquet Courts, essentially, are going full-on Trojan Horse. “We played a show in Atlanta, which is what ‘Almost Had To Start A Fight’ was inspired by, and there was a young guy in his early 20s wearing Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ hat,” recalls Andrew. “It was deeply upsetting that somebody who endorsed a far-right wing demagogue would be coming to one of our shows and be a fan of our music. I was really ethically conflicted on how to react to that – do you fight this person or does that just embolden them further?” He continues: “In a way perhaps [that gave me a sense of] responsibility for Parquet Courts to articulate where we stand on what’s going on right now. When people examine this moment in time as they surely will, just as we examine previous interesting moments in history and the culture that surrounds it, people are going to be looking at music and assessing it in that context and I want it to be clear what Parquet Courts stood for in this moment.” As well as making a social and political standpoint, what Parquet Courts also seem to stand for in this moment is the breaking down of their own former habits. After five albums recorded entirely in the insular band bubble, what might account for part of that new ‘accessibility’ is the introduction of a new pal to the fold in the form of producer Danger Mouse [he of Gnarls Barkley / ‘The Grey Album’/ general A-List

“People have this perception that we’re hyperserious people, but so much of what we do is just like, ah why not…” - Andrew Savage

star fame]. “He approached us and was enthusiastic about us considering him. Then when it came time to make the decision, we ended up doing it because I always like throwing something out there that might subvert the expectation of even a really hardcore fan and cause some confusion,” explains Andrew, in typically left-of-centre form. “The idea to me of someone who’s in the more mainstream area of pop working with a band like ours is funny. People have this perception that we’re hyper-serious people that take our work really seriously and make these really calculated decisions, whereas so much of what Parquet Courts does is just like, ah why not...” And did six-time Grammy Award-winning, millionselling Danger Mouse ever explain exactly why he wanted to work with Parquet Courts? “He’s pitching his train to our shooting star,” deadpans Austin. “Exactly, he’s riding our coattails,” joins in Andrew. “People know the name Danger Mouse now...” If there are already a few surprises up ‘Wide Awake!’s sleeves, then this sense of humour is perhaps also another. Whether they’re ludicrously titling a song ‘Freebird II’ or roping in a children’s choir to sing the title line on ‘Death Will Bring Change’, there’s a sense of playfulness here that one might not traditionally associate with the band. “I think we’ve always been evidently humorous people at certain points in our records and our lyrics, and I don’t think anyone that knows us would necessarily define us as being really serious people. But maybe when you do interviews, because it’s your art then you wanna take it seriously, so the mindset you’re in is a serious one,” shrugs Austin, shooting one of his frequent impenetrable stares. “When we first started doing interviews and people were trying to figure out what our personalities were like, we were really on guard,” he continues. “People have a habit of defining you before they allow you to define yourself,” Andrew picks up. “We came at it a bit combatively because we lost the trust a little bit.” Were there certain things you think that people got wrong about you? We ask, in a move that it’s fair to say does not go down brilliantly. “Even just to answer that question perpetuates it, which is why it’s kind of tricky. We’re having a conversation about it now and it’s fine to talk to you about it but then you’re going to go and write an article saying, ‘They USED to be called this but they REALLY want you to know they’re not like that...’” Austin sighs before catching himself. “I’m not trying to be combative or anything, though. I’m definitely not that. I’m definitely not argumentative and I’m definitely answering all of your questions, just so that’s clear. And I have a sense of humour too.” He’s back to joking now, but there’s an underlying sense of truth. And there’s the thing with Parquet Courts. Even at the dawn of their most direct album yet, they’re still never going to be the happy clappy, smiley pop stars that always play ball, and that’s what makes them so damn good. On ‘Almost Had To Start A Fight’, they question “What if I’ve grown tired of being polite?” It might not be the most socially easy one to ask or answer, but it’s one that someone needs to have the chutzpah to put out there. And right now, it seems like a very important question indeed. ‘Wide Awake!’ is out 18th May via Rough Trade. DIY


A NEW ICEAGE Evolving once again on ‘Beyondless’, Iceage continue to be one of once again on fourth theEvolving generation’s most fascinating guitar bands by relentlessly sticking to their guns. Words: Will Richards. album ‘Beyondless’, Iceage are

still carving their own path and relentlessly sticking to their guns. Words: Will Richards.



ceage’s third album, 2014’s ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’, marked a change for the band. Led by the bluesy thrash of ‘The Lord’s Favorite’, the album saw the Danish four-piece move away from the fierce, taut punk they were lauded for, onto something altogether looser and more varied. The album was greeted by a good deal of confusion upon its release, which eventually turned into huge critical acclaim, but its polarisation, in true Iceage style, isn’t something the band were concerned with, or even potentially aware of; conversation around the potential struggle of presenting such a new style to the world is met with a mix of raised eyebrows and nonplussed acknowledgement from vocalist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt and guitarist Johan Surrballe Wieth today. If there’s any band that could be forgiven for their reservations towards outside impressions though, it’s these guys. Ever since their inception as teens in Copenhagen, the band were consistently pulled up on their flirtation with far-right imagery - the intention of which they relentlessly refute. As such, they cut cagey, wary figures, unwaveringly passionate about their music, but equally as troubled by the misrepresentation they’ve been faced with in the past. As we arrive for our interview today, Elias swiftly skips out of the room, not to be found for a good 20 minutes. When he returns - after a search party led by Johan reaches a dead end, largely due to the frontman currently not owning a phone - and cigarettes are lit, talk begins around new album ‘Beyondless’.


t ’s a glorious, considered progression for the fourpiece, completed by drummer Dan Kjær Nielsen and bassist Jakob Tvilling Pless. Spearheaded by surging single ‘Pain Killer’ (featuring backing vocals from Sky Ferreira), it sees Iceage at their most swaggering and confident, Elias continuing to grab the role of bullish frontman by the horns. It’s a record that flows with an untameable energy and momentum. “No,” Johan half-chuckles, asked whether ‘Beyondless’ came together as easily as it could be expected, given its hugely assertive, fearless sound. “As easy as the other ones I guess, but it’s not an easy thing.” “It comes from a desire to take what you had and push it into something that feels rejuvenating and new,” Elias picks up, while also refuting the idea that making music is ever an easy task. “It wouldn’t feel right if it was.” Rejuvenating and new ‘Beyondless’ most definitely is. It’s also - and whisper it - fun. Sure, first preview ‘Catch It’ is a slice of dirgy, dark post-punk, but ‘Pain Killer’ is punctuated by joyous stabs of horns and a melodic wash of guitars, Elias and Sky’s vocals flirting with each other gorgeously, egging each other on, while album highlight ‘Thieves Like Us’ is the record’s most jubilant moment.

Following on from where ‘The Lord’s Favorite’ led, it’s a ramshackle, drunken singalong, Elias as enticing a frontman when he’s figuratively stumbling around a dive bar, mic and glass of whiskey in hand, as when he’s buried deep in introverted, warped punk. ‘Showtime’, meanwhile, follows the anticipation in the hours before a big show, presented with lashings of wit. “A bright young singer is the lead of the show,” he sings. “He is as handsome as he’s talented / He’s got that certain kind of je ne sais quoi, a potential superstar.” With self-awareness at the heart of Iceage, it’s clear Elias knows full well just how close he himself lies to his description of the showstopper. Elsewhere though, the frontman’s lyrics are deep and near impenetrable. ‘Thieves Like Us’, while a wild, uninhibited thrash, talks of filing restraining orders. “Here, there’s no regard for tact. “Don’t stop drilling, perforate the willing / Leave them thoroughly ransacked,” he sings, barrelling through lyrics as dark as night with breezy abandon. “Hush as I spill my wayward theory,” he continues, as self-aware as ever.

“We’ve always had a highoctane sloppiness.” - Elias Bender Rønnenfelt


he album arrives into a world far different to that in which ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’ was born, and it’s the changing of the political landscape that’s been impossible for Iceage to ignore. “Your surroundings are something that bleed into the music, consciously or subconsciously, and whether you want them to or not,” begins Elias. “There’s been…” he continues, before letting out an audible sigh and taking a lengthy pause. “There’s been a mad development in the world recently, and one that’s come at a far more rapid pace than usual. We’ve seen it,” he races on, pondering the different viewpoint a touring band can have on global landscape changes of this scope -


constantly on the move, taking in the changes they see in big, never-ending gulps. “You see barbed wire fences in places where they weren’t before. You see tents on the other side of those fences. You see them in European cities. The change isn’t omnipresent, but you see signs that it’s real everywhere you go, and you see it in the people you talk to. You can see the fear that’s instilled in people that wasn’t there before, especially if you’re in an American border town. It’s a depressing thing to see, and it’s going to be interesting to see how much worse things might get before they get better... to see how much of a nosedive we’re in for here.”

“It’s kept its core of uncertainty, and I always like that about us.” Elias Bender Rønnenfelt


Constantly growing and adapting in an ever-changing world, Iceage have always had the slightly wayward air of making it up as they go along, but it’s seen them excel at every turn. It continues in earnest on ‘Beyondless’. “We’ve never been a band to rehearse... excessively,” Elias says with a grin, remembering the writing and demoing sessions for ‘Beyondless’, which often spilled out from their practice room and onto the streets and into the bars of Copenhagen. “We’ve always had a high-octane sloppiness, and that’s just our groove,” he continues, agreeing that some of the strongest music is that which feels like it could fall apart at the seams at any moment. “It’s always been an integral part of our way of playing. We were so inexperienced when forming the band, and even though we play together much more now, it’s kept its core of uncertainty, and I always like that about us.” “We don’t deliberately choose to do things that way,” Johan concludes. “It’s just the way that these individuals play together. I’m sure music teachers would tell us we’re totally wrong, but we never really listened to music teachers.” ‘Beyondless’ is out 4th May via Matador. DIY




Peace hadn’t quite grasped the purpose of the room full of chairs.

From horror movie farmhouses to sweetness and light in Peace’s world Is The New Rock And Roll’, they’re


colliding with trucks, not all has been of late. But, on third album ‘Kindness back stronger than ever. Wo rd s: Rh ia n Da ly. Ph oto s: Em m a Swa n n .




eace have never been a band to lay bare all their problems and flaws for the world to feast upon. Over two albums, they’ve built a colourful world around themselves in which, from an outsider’s perspective, the only thing taken seriously is having a laugh. But life is never that one note, even for a band synonymous with hijinks - like when they entered the stage for their Glastonbury debut with frontman Harry Koisser waving a sword over his head like a dungaree-clad knight of the Stone Circle. Enter third album ‘Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll’. It’s an inherently Peace album, stuffed with their trademark swagger, knack for euphoric, heart-swelling indie, and ever-quotable lyrics. But this is a subtly different Peace, too - one all the more powerful and invincible, even when

they’re showing the most fragile version of themselves yet. The Birmingham four-piece have rarely explored that side of themselves in song, save for some heartache, and the insecurities of ‘Perfect Skin’. While their new record still has plenty of classic Peace anthems (see the indestructible strut of ‘Power’ or ‘You Don’t Walk Away From Love’), it also strips away the varnish and shows everything isn’t always a rainbow-filled joyride in their world. “I used to write because it was almost like writing can be quite prophetic - you’d write something into a song and it would come true,” Harry says. “[We’ve had] so many happy, upbeat songs because it would have this effect [where] having to go play these songs and people singing along to them would make me feel really good.” By using that technique to try and lift himself out of sadness,

“Everyone’s been whinging that music isn’t political enough and then I was like, ‘Wait, hold on. Why don’t I just write songs that

encompass that side of my thoughts?’” Harry Koisser

the singer and guitarist felt like he became a “spokesperson for positivity, and great vibes, and ‘Fuck it, everything’s groovy all the fucking time.’” Unknown to his fans, he was actually struggling with depression. “The duality of it became almost sickening,” he says. “On the second record especially, I was really trying. But then drinking a fuck load and feeling absolutely dreadful all the time… I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’” Out of that moment of realisation, the last straw snapping came ‘From Under Liquid Glass’ - the bravest, most honest, and maybe best song Peace have released so far. Instead of writing from the perspective of someone happy and content, the now-sober Harry dug into his depression. “The camel’s back is so close to broke / Held together by a thread,” he sings early on, before describing his brain as his “big fucking mental head.” Since its release in December 2017, it’s resonated with fans in a way Harry didn’t foresee. “When I’m writing a song, I’m like, ‘This is about me’, but I realised it’s actually a voice for people who feel the same way. It’s been really good for me seeing people be like, ‘I feel this way as well.’ I don’t feel as alone now.” One piece of praise in particular has stuck out so far. In a post on her Instagram page, Frances Bean Cobain (daughter of Kurt) called it her “favourite song of the last 10 years”. “I don’t know if I agree or not,” laughs Harry. “I need to think about everything that was released in the last 10 years, go through it with a fine-tooth comb. It’s probably the best song we’ve done in the last 10 years.”


He’s similarly raw on the elegant, climbing ‘Magnificent’ (“I wish I was everything I’m cracked up to be”), and still trying to pull himself out from under his cloud on ‘Silverlined’ (“When life comes down on me with all its devilry / Love will murder hate, I know I must believe”), a soft ripple of a song that transforms into an epic thanks to some “Doug Castle magic”. The latter, he says, saved him, and helped him to keep going through all of the trials Peace have been through in the last few years because of one deceptively small interaction. “When we were doing the last tour of the second album at Manchester Academy, someone came up to me and said, ‘What’s the name of a song you’ve written for the new record?’” he explains. “We hadn’t done anything yet, and ‘Silverlined’ was the only thing I’d written in ages.” He wrote the title down on a piece of paper for the fan, who tweeted the band a couple of weeks later to show them a photo of the word tattooed on her arm. “There was this thing throughout the whole process of, ‘This girl has got this song tattooed on her arm and if I do not make this record or record this song then it’s gonna be such a disappointment to her’,” Harry says. “It was just always in the back of my head.” On second album, ‘Happy People’, the Brummies - completed by guitarist Doug Castle, bassist Sam Koisser, and drummer Dom Boyce - reached new heights, building on the impressive foundations of their 2013 debut, ‘In Love’. They secured their best chart position yet, played their biggest headline shows to date, and cemented themselves as one of Britain’s most beloved rising bands. Yet, when touring came to an end, they found themselves more distant from each other than they’d ever been. “There’s something I find really hard to put my finger on with bands,” explains Harry. “It’s like a sacred energy, [something] almost magical. At the end of ‘Happy People’, that was at its weakest. We were all happy and having a good time, but there was just something [off].” To remedy that, they decamped to a remote farmhouse in Herefordshire, accidentally immersing themselves in a series of spooky occurrences straight out of The Blair Witch Project. “There was an old hut in the woods with loads of statues of the Virgin Mary and loads of voodoo and Satanic things hanging from the trees,” the frontman says. “I’d go up to the top floor of the house alone and open the door, and there’d be like ten thousand dead flies that had come out of nowhere. I’d leave the room and then, next time I came back, they’d be gone.” Really, it’s a wonder Peace came out of the woods with their sanity intact, let alone the genesis of a new album.

“Now how does that make you feel, Sam…”


Some scrapped recording sessions and a parting of ways with their label and management later, Harry got a call from musician and producer Simone Felice, in which the New Yorker declared: “I’ve seen the future, this is what’s gonna happen.” His vision saw Peace abscond from home yet again, this time to Woodstock, the storied location of the ‘60s peacepromoting festival in upstate New York. If the farmhouse was the dark side of ‘Kindness…’, then this trip was “the light and the glory”. But there was more drama yet to unfold. Halfway through recording, Dom was hit by a truck, leaving him with a broken wrist. “For some reason, my gut reaction was just, ‘Bollocks! This is classic Dom,’” Harry says of the drummer’s roadside call to the studio requesting a lift to safety. A true trooper, he finished his parts one-handed, but was told on his return to the UK the bone hadn’t healed correctly and he might never drum again. “I’m not a doctor, but I think they were gonna saw off a bit of his wrist and then put a new bit in,” the frontman says, pondering the complexities of such an operation. “I imagine they’d have to cut off the whole hand to put in a new wrist. What do you do with the old wrist when you’ve had the new one installed? Do you get to keep it? And what about the tattoo on that wrist? Luckily, he doesn’t have to have a full wrist transplant, but it was a little scare.” Fittingly for an album recorded in Woodstock, ‘Kindness…’ promotes ideas of unity, compassion and, well, peace. Album closer ‘Choose Love’ shares its name with a Help Refugees campaign slogan (the band have worked with


the charity on several occasions now) and implores listeners to “Choose love, choose life” over fear, pain, hate, and shame. The gospel choir-backed title track, meanwhile, suggests making “war on war”.


“We had it [“Big beats are the best, get high all the time”] written on this whiteboard in the studio,” Harry explains of one of Peep Show’s iconic contributions to the world. “[After I played ‘From Under Liquid Glass’ to everyone for the first time], Simone just said: ‘Big beats are the best.’ I was expecting him be like, ‘That was a beautiful moment’, but he just said, ‘Big beats are the best.’”

Simone Felice

The producer has some unique techniques for getting the best out of bands, and Harry credits him with unlocking something within him to produce his best vocal performances yet. “He sometimes massaged day chest or pushed my arms and picked me up and squeezed,” he explains. “It was very, very intense.”

Harry’s accountant

“This is really profound for an accountant, but he said I had to find some sort of isolation for the next record,” Harry says. “When the farmhouse idea came up, I had his voice in the back of my head.”

“I’m aware it’s a big statement,” Harry says of the latter. “But I think it’s nice to be that ballsy about it. Everyone’s been whinging that music isn’t political enough - myself included - and then I was like, ‘Wait, hold on. I have these views. I’m not a douche. Why don’t I just write songs that encompass that side of my thoughts?’” After Swim Deep’s Cav McCarthy pointed out to him “people aren’t rock and roll anymore, they’re kind,” he decided to name the album after the song, to “write it on billboards, and scream about it.” Since releasing ‘Happy People’, Peace, like the world around them, have become more politicised as a band, raising awareness for Help Refugees, playing at Grenfell Tower benefits, and appearing at protests in the wake of last year’s General Election. Harry says they have more plans to work with Help Refugees over the course of this album, while his main aim now is to “save the world and have a good time doing it”. The former might be getting harder and harder to do, but, now they’re back and stronger than ever, the latter should be a snap for him and his bandmates. ‘Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll’ is out 4th May via Ignition. DIY Peace are appearing at Live at Leeds and Liverpool Sound City this year. Head to for details.





ack in 2006, shortly after the release of their gamechanging debut, a bunch of Sheffield whippersnappers asked ‘Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?’. The answer, it was already clear, was that they were the most vital bunch of smart, eloquent indie upstarts of their generation. By 2009 and the advent of third album ‘Humbug’, the response had shifted slightly; having hitched a ride to the desert, the quartet were a more mature proposition, straddling the gap between boyish energy and manly swagger and assuredly entering phase two. By 2013 and near-perfect fifth LP ‘AM’, the answer was simply that Arctic Monkeys were possibly the greatest band in the world. Now, however, the reply seems less cut and dried. Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys on ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’? Well you sense that, in 15 or 20 years, this era of the band will either be remembered as the segue into their next imperial phase or the beginning of the end. But honestly, right now, it’s hard to work out entirely which way the pendulum is destined to swing. To cut to the obvious chase, the quartet’s long-awaited sixth is like


tranquility base hotel & casino


nothing they’ve done before. An Alex Turner solo record by any other name, its 11 tracks run largely on the singer’s affected croon and a newly-discovered love of the piano. Rarely do guitars make a pronounced appearance, save for the ominous notes that open ‘Golden Trunks’ and a few slinking basslines on ‘She Looks Like Fun’ and ‘Four Out Of Five’. What powerhouse drummer Matt Helders is going to busy himself with during live shows, meanwhile, is anyone’s guess. That’s not, in itself, a criticism; after the universal, hyperbolic plaudits given to ‘AM’, you understand why Arctic Monkeys’ only possible next move could be one several leaps to the left. And while there will inevitably be scores of unhappy lads bemoaning the lack of ‘Mardy Bum’s or ‘Do I Wanna Know’s, comparing ‘TBHC’ to any of the band’s previous records is about as useful as comparing an apple to a microwave. This is a record that needs to be judged as a separate entity, because that’s how its 50-odd minutes of languorous, cosmic lounge are clearly intended. Sticking firmly mid-pace throughout, its like a concept record set in



the outerspace equivalent of a faded Vegas show bar; tracks float into each other, Turner’s stream of consciousness musings flitting between jaded reality and celestial surrealism, before culminating in the standout curtain call croon of ‘The Ultracheese’ – the final bow before the theatre bursts into flames.

There are genuinely brilliant moments and facets to be found littered throughout ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’. The classic tinkling show-tune piano chord progression that underpins ‘One Point Perspective’; the crooning harmonies and Actual Proper Chorus (a rarity here) on highlight ‘Four Out Of Five’; the ‘Being All of these elements make for a record that is undoubtedly new, For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite’-esque circus sideshow feel of ‘The unexpected and conceptually interesting. You could spend days World’s First Ever Monster Truck Flip’. But all too often you have to unpicking Alex’s lyrics, which begin with potentially the most jaw- really work to pull these songs apart from each other. There’s little droppingly brilliant and ballsy album opener in recent memory change in pace and few spikes within the general mood of dilated on ‘Star Treatment’ - “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes, now pupils and woozy, faded glamour; for a band who’ve written look at the mess you made me make” - before taking in the fictional some of the biggest earworm hooks of the last decade, there’s planet of Clavius on ‘Four Out of Five’ and eventually declaring confusingly little to immediately grab onto. “I’m so full of shite, I need to spend less time stood around in bars talking to strangers about Martial Arts” on the aforementioned An album that only even begins to click after about the tenth listen, ‘She Looks Like Fun’. Written and recorded in a large part by the Arctic Monkeys’ sixth is the kind of eyebrow-raising curveball that singer alone in his LA studio, it’s all either genius or the sound of could still yet lead to brilliance. Every maverick has to risk it all in a man unravelling. But that’s a debate that’s symptomatic of the pursuit of the new at some point. But there’s still something a little whole record: is it actually great or is it just interesting? Once you sad about having to try so hard to fall in love with a record from get over the newness and the intrigue, are these songs that you’ll a band who’ve always made devotion so easy. Who the fuck are hold close to your heart and return to over and over again? And Arctic Monkeys? It seems only time will tell. (Lisa Wright) Listen: that’s where things start to waver. ‘The Ultracheese’, ‘Four Out Of Five’, ‘One Point Perspective’ 63



CHVRCHES love is dead (Virgin EMI)

When Chvrches first emerged in 2012, it was clear they were onto something special. Building on the heady foundations of debut ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’, 2015 followup ‘Every Open Eye’ saw the trio burst into searing life, seeing them transform their brand of eloquent electropop into bombastic bangers. As it so happens, that’s exactly where ‘Love Is Dead’ picks up. Sparkling synths and glorious percussive beats clear the way for ‘Graffiti’’s soaring chorus: it’s obvious that Chvrches aren’t messing about. The band somehow sound even more confident. ‘Get Out’ is a propulsive anthem, ‘Graves’ contrasts its sombre imagery with heady hooks, while ‘Deliverance’ slinks in the darkness before bursting into kaleidoscopic life. Elsewhere, ‘Never Say Die’ is a sky-reaching opus, heightened by an echoey call-and-response between the band’s Lauren Mayberry and Martin Doherty. Celebratory, rich and more confident than ever before, they’re yet again the finest versions of themselves. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Deliverance’, ‘Never Say Die’

Photo: Phil Smithies.





kindness is the new rock and roll (Ignition)

Thank heavens for Harry Koisser. if that wasn’t your overriding sentiment before pressing play on Peace’s third record, it bloody well should be after opener ‘Power’ kicks in. “Wake up and smell the lavender,” he orders, making just the appropriate amount of sense. He’s the ideal frontperson: a heady mix of swaggering bombast, fashionable loucheness and your mate down the local spewing inspirational Tumblr quotes at closing time. If there’s a joke here, he’s in on it. And when coupled with tracks that’d sit favourably at home on Robbie Williams’ post-Britpop epics ‘Life Thru A Lens’ and ‘I’ve Been Expecting You’, if The Good Mixer hadn’t already been saved from ruin last-minute, there’s a nagging sense that ‘Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll’ could’ve stepped in. ‘You Don’t Walk Away From Love’ is an iconic stomp, ‘Silverlined’ is custom-made for arms-aroundshoulders festival singalongs, holding court with the best of the foursome’s anthems, while ‘Magnificent’ showcases Harry’s duality perfectly: at one moment, he’s both primed to take on the world, and doubting his every step. ‘From Under Liquid Glass’, released early this year in support of mental health charity MQ, is one of indie-rock’s most relatable songs on such matters, its heavyhanded lyrical approach smartly reflecting depression’s ability to make articulating even the most obvious thoughts an insurmountable task. “Any idiot could sing it in a song… so sing it,” goes sprawling closer ‘Choose Love’, just one of many smirks of a line on the record that shows Peace know just what they’re doing. And on ‘Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll’, they’re doing it very well indeed. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Don’t Walk Away From Love’, ‘Power’



wide awake! (Rough Trade)

Over five albums, Parquet Courts’ unique combination of propulsive post-punk and ennuidrenched vibes has propelled them to indie-rock darling status, something they’d no doubt balk at. It would’ve been so easy for the notoriously contrary foursome to have rebelled, released a barely-coherent series of tracks in a ploy to shed any positive reputation they’d earned thus far. Parquet Courts aren’t ones to take the easy route, though. Instead, they teamed up with pop maestro Danger Mouse to make their best record yet. From beautifully cacophonous opener ‘Total Football’ to the piano melancholy of ‘Tenderness’ twelve tracks later, ‘Wide Awake!’ doesn’t dip one bit. This is Parquet Courts - but better. ’Violence’ has Andrew going full meta on

nominative determinism (“Savage is my name because Savage is how I feel when the radio wakes me up with the words ‘suspected gunman’ / my name is a warning for for the acts you are about to witness”), ‘NYC Observation’ brims with urgency, and ‘Normalization’ swaps between vocal and guitar in calland-response lines deftly. Then there’s the impeccable disco banger of a title track, all gang vocals and funky bass, like if James Murphy were to produce a boyband. ‘Mardi Gras Beads’ introduces a new, lush, level of Beach Boys-style melody. Then there’s ‘Death Will Bring Change’, on which at one point a childrens’ choir and hospital beeps briefly compete for space. It’s brighter, bolder - at points even warmer (the ‘70s organ sounds on ‘Violence’ especially, contrasting with Andrew’s vocal diatribes to cinematic effect). For a band who’ve riffed on sounding inwardly jaded so impeccably for so long, ‘Wide Awake!’ is a gut-punch of an immediate classic. If it wasn’t their own record, it’d have even Parquet Courts themselves grinning ear-to-ear. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Wide Awake’, ‘Violence’ “There were four in the bed and the little one said…”




isolation (Virgin EMI)

Kali Uchis may have named her debut album ‘Isolation,’ but she is anything but alone. The American-Colombian singer lists Damon Albarn, Thundercat and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker in the production credits, alongside vocal contributions from Tyler, the Creator, Jorja Smith and funk legend Bootsy Collins. ‘Isolation’ is full to bursting with the fervour and sprawling intensity that comes with collaboration, but it never feels messy or overbearing, for Kali makes sure to stand bold at the centre of it all. “If you need a hero / Just look in the mirror,” she sings on ‘After the Storm’, a smooth, soul-inspired gem of a track set off by guest verses from Tyler and Bootsy. She’s sharp and willing to take hits, so long as she gets to hit back: “Why can’t you see? You’re dead to me,” she sings on ‘Dead To Me.’ It’s a phrase she repeats over and over, vibrant in her confidence, and enjoying the wealth of every syllable. (Ellen Peirson-Hagger) LISTEN: ‘Tomorrow’

good thing (Columbia)

On ‘Good Thing’, Leon Bridges offers up a slick soul album that attempts to separate him from the iconic voices of the past that he’s been likened to, adding some much-needed modernity. Along with the R&B, funk and pop notes, he shines on more complex tracks such as ‘Lion’ that have an unstructured jazz styling to them. ‘Shy’ and ‘Mrs’ are different in tone but are guaranteed late-night jams that make ample use of the beefed-up production as well as Leon’s sultry vocals. While he proves in spades that he’s not merely a throwback artist who has to rely on nostalgia, the mishmash of sounds coming from the album does feel a little muddled at times. Overall, ‘Good Thing’ should fill fans of Leon’s work with excitement. Just three years after his debut, it feels like he’s only just getting started. (Kate Lismore) LISTEN: ‘Shy’

eeee COURTNEY BARNETT tell me how you really feel (Marathon / MILK!)

Courtney Barnett has always written from a place of anxiety. On new record ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’, she continues to explore feelings of general restlessness - intertwined with a mixture of angst, sadness and everything in between. Opener ‘Hopefulessness’ thrives on a deep rhythm section with Courtney’s voice layered in a delicate loop, acting instructive and soothing. The general theme of this restless anxiety is aptly described in highlight ‘Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence’. Never mind that Courtney released a critically-acclaimed debut that sent her touring the entire world, earning her a reputation as one of the most skilled songwriters and lyricists in modern independent music. “I don’t know anything!” she insists in the chorus. The gem of the record, however, is closer ‘Sunday Roast’. A slower, ‘90s-recalling number with chiming guitars with Courtney’s vocals as the main focus, it’s a therapeutic closer. (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘Sunday Roast’



Photo: Phil Smithies.

eeeee JANELLE MONÁE dirty computer (Atlantic)

With a dizzying array of touchstones on show, ‘Dirty Computer’ is the sound of an auteur hellbent on short circuiting all convention. Taking stock of the jangling Prince riffery of ‘Make Me Feel’ - a gold cast gem of a pop song which celebrates queerness with aplomb - you’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘Dirty Computer’ is simply about fun. In many ways, it is; the sexy one-liners just keep (if you’ll pardon the pun) coming. “I just wanna party hard, sex in a swimming pool,” muses ‘Crazy, Classic, Life’, while ‘I’ve Got The Juice’ is as audacious. “I’ve got juice for all my lovers, got juice for all my wives,” she reels off, “my juice is my religion, got juice between my thighs.” Sexy, free, expressive Janelle Monáe holds enough appeal as it is, but typically, added complexity lies beneath these gigantic pop songs. Taking on sex with an incisive pen - not to mention the biggest songs she’s ever written - Janelle holds more power than ever, and ‘Dirty Computer’ might just be the record that finally elevates her to pop’s highest echelons. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Screwed’



beyondless (Matador)

Iceage have, if ‘Beyondless’ is any marker, spent the last four years expanding their palette. The stormy punks of 2010 are still present somewhere in this fourth album, but now they’re more ambitious, more open to something new. ‘Pain Killer’, which also features a hypnotic turn from guest vocalist Sky Ferreira, motors on triumphant horns, fizzing guitars racing to match. Lyrically, too, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is at his prime. On the squalid country lilt of ‘Thieves Like Us’, he drawls: “Makes one want to file a restraining order / On humanity or myself.” On ‘Plead The Fifth’, he sings with Gallagher-esque swagger of exorcising himself, while on the blustery chaos of the title track he sings “I was going to stray / To the banquets and boondocks” while his bandmates command a storm around him. If straying always leads to things as great as this, Iceage should continue veering from the path. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Thieves Like Us’





eeee TT When Warpaint first emerged back in 2010 with ‘The Fool’, it was the quartet’s hypnotic interweaving melodies that immediately lifted them above the pack. Theirs was a sound that was all about action and reaction, their members deftly batting rhythms between each other. Without her other three foils, you’d be forgiven for fearing that guitarist Theresa Wayman’s solo debut would lack some of her band’s seductive charm. Instead, ‘LoveLaws’ sounds, well, very much like a Warpaint album tbh. Existing in a perpetual nocturnal half-light, the likes of the doomy ‘Take One’ and its cries of “the fear has kept me close”, or undulating opener ‘Mykki’ feel familiar yet riddled with something slightly sadder. Themes of loneliness and doomed romance pepper the likes of ‘Love Leaks’, but it’s not just there in the strained laments, it’s all over the record’s downbeat tempos and often claustrophobic, breathless production. Stepping away from her bandmates, ‘LoveLaws’ is an even more personal exploration of TT’s affective talents. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘The Dream’, ‘Take One’


lovelaws (LoveLeaks / Caroline)


Whether in the game-changing, intelligently skewed slackerism of Pavement or in his slightly more melodically fleshed out work with the Jicks, Stephen Malkmus has spent the last 25 years making the weird and esoteric strangely accessible. On ‘Sparkle Hard’ he doesn’t reinvent his own wheel but keeps it turning over with a seemingly never-ending well of ideas. ‘Bike Lane’ lands on the more abrasive end of the spectrum, a brilliantly dirgy riff underpinning lyrics about the death of police-murdered Freddie Gray; ‘Kite’ is a squelching, nearly-seven minute jam; ‘Solid Silk’ is a hazy, Real Estate-y caress interspersed with wistful strings. It’s all executed with the same kind of effortless charm that’s characterised Malkmus’ entire career. Long may it continue. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Bike Lane’


ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER rebound (Rough Trade)

As on her previous albums, what makes Eleanor Friedberger’s songwriting feel magical are the stories she tells and the tiny details she drops in. On highlight ‘Are We Good?’, she recalls proposing “to a woman for a man last night” and, later, killing seven snakes while mowing the lawn. “Outside a gas station, a dog winked at me / He’s not even barking in the right language,” she sings dryly seconds later. It’s a surreal trip that feels like you’re voyaging through someone else’s dreams or scattered, fragmented memories. Like ‘Rebound’ as a whole, that’s its charm. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘The Letter’ 68




The Aussie trio reflect on the “great learning experience” that was the recording of ‘Lost Friends’. By the time some people read this, ‘Lost Friends’ will be out! How do you think that’ll feel? We are so ready for these songs to be released! About half the songs have been in the live show for about six months, so we’re really excited for people to finally hear the tunes in their recorded form. To let the album exist in the world and to see it start its own story will feel amazing. Where did you record it? We made it in a pretty isolated, focused way. Tim [Fitz, bass] produced it and we ended up recording the instrumental parts in our Sydney home, apart from drums, which were recorded in a house out in the country. The vocals were recorded over two days at our friend’s studio, also in Sydney. It was crazy the amount of independence we had while tracking, meaning we basically tracked the whole album before showing it to anyone. Why choose Peter Katis (The National, Interpol) to mix it? What did he bring? Peter is someone who balances beauty and rawness, and his mixes contain such energy. It was amazing to stay at his studio in Connecticut to finish the album. His mixing definitely has a ‘sound’ and his interpretation of the songs can be heard the whole way through. He definitely helped bring the more disparate tracks together as one body of work.


lost friends (Lucky Number)

Middle Kids might have only formed two years ago, but they’ve clearly not struggled in figuring out the key to writing killer pop hooks. Debut ‘Lost Friends’ is full of them, even suffixing them in last minute shifts. As catchy as the record is though, there’s something naggingly MOR about it. Songs like the super-polished ‘Mistake’ could be sung by any number of bands - it’s safe and indistinctive, Middle Kids’ personality lost underneath layers of sheen. ‘Never Start’ sounds like the kind of song you’ve heard a hundred times before, even on your first listen. Its familiarity isn’t necessarily a complete turn-off, but it does make it hard to give your whole heart to when it lacks that knockout edge. As far as debuts go, the Sydney trio have made a solid first step here. They’ve got half the job worked out in spades. Now, they just need to work on making it memorable. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Edge Of Town’

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


goat girl goat girl

The Londoners’ debut takes no prisoners in the best way possible across its 19 tracks.

eeee the vaccines combat sports

Feb cover stars are a band rejuvenated.


kate nash yesterday was forever

As courageous and fun as any debut. 69


Life’s a beach ee ASH



With 2002’s ‘Intergalactic Sonic 7”s’, Ash have probably one of the best singles compilations ever - there are few acts who wouldn’t be jealous of the trio’s hit rate. So there’s something endearing about how Tim Wheeler’s er, still wheeling out his obvious rhymes, managing “gone” / “on” and “wait” / “hesitate” before even reaching the chorus of ‘Annabel’. Where ‘Islands’ shines is in moments where Tim’s allowing himself to slide into rock statesman role; the sentimental ‘Don’t Need Your Love’ and ‘Did Your Love Burn Out?’ both suiting his wiry vocal. Nobody’s trying to relive - or recreate - past success here, but it does feel a shame that most of ‘Islands’ - the paper-thin thrash of ‘Buzzkill’ or the Franz Ferdinand-aping ‘Confessions In The Pool’ - just doesn’t have anything to grab hold of. (Louisa Dixon) LISTEN: ‘Don’t Need Your Love’

Now on album seven, Beach House’s discography is a jam-packed one. We’ve picked out three gems from their back catalogue to get those of you unfamiliar started.

Teen Dream (2010) The band’s breakout third album is their most diverse to date, helmed by standout lead single ‘Zebra’.

Bloom (2012) A glorious progression two years later, ‘Bloom’ saw Victoria and Alex push their sound to its extremes. Depression Cherry (2015)


BEACH HOUSE 7 (Bella Union)

Across their six studio albums, Beach House have become one of indie’s most dependable acts, and on ‘7’, that continues. The album’s first single ‘Lemon Glow’ is a swirling cocktail of warped, wobbly synths and Victoria Legrand’s breathy vocals, while ‘Dive’ is another highlight, an intoxicating barrage of rollocking drums and guitar barging down the door half way through. With a formula that’s kept its core elements largely the same across a decade, ‘7’ does fill an unassuming hole in the band’s discography. It’s largely Beach House-by-numbers, but has a gravitational pull that looks like it will never run dry. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Pay No Mind’

Maybe the band’s best record to date, LP5 feels contained in a small but deeply atmospheric space.



It all worked out great: vol 1 & 2


‘It All Worked Out Vol. 1 & 2’, a double EP chronicling the Bristol band’s sweaty, fervent journey thus far, presents a band driven by noholds-barred chaos. ‘Stammering Bill’ pits psych swirl against relentless punk in a gorgeously unhinged cocktail. ‘Voyeur Picture Salesman’, meanwhile, puts misogynists under the spotlight, and ‘Ted’s Dead’ tells the story of a recently-divorced man who murders his ex-wife. Cheery stuff, you’ll agree, but it all adds to the crazed, uncompromising atmosphere around the album. In itself, ‘It All Worked Out’ serves as a great catch-up on LICE’S story so far. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Voyeur Picture Salesman’ 70







floating features (Hardly Art)

Since 2015 the Seattle-formed La Luz have been based in LA, and on ‘Floating Features’ a hi-fi sound has taken hold, stripping the tracks of the trio’s charming authenticity. Nonetheless, they still bathe themselves in the woozy psychedelia they’ve always held close. Stand-out track ‘Lonely Dozer’ shows off an instrumental break full of twangy guitar riffs alongside an organ line which ripples in and out of rumbling drums. On ‘California Finally’ it’s the keys and guitar which work against each other to interrogate the track’s brash harmony. La Luz play with an enchanting sensitivity. If only their raw knack for rhythm and harmony were left untouched by unnecessarily glossy production. (Ellen Peirson-Hagger) LISTEN: ‘Lonely Dozer’


JON HOPKINS singularity (Domino)

On 2014’s ‘Immunity’, Jon Hopkins documented the the ins and outs of the party. It was everything the techno veteran had hinted at and more. On ‘Singularity’, he moves away from the ins and outs of a big night, and further into the human psyche as a whole, largely influenced by his experiences with meditation. As such, ‘Singularity’ does feel like a meditative trip. It’s frontloaded with hard-hitting techno powerhouses, the second half of the record, showing off his classical upbringing, the gorgeous ‘Echo Dissolve’ proving a much-needed sombre antidote to the preceding chaos. It’s varied and consistently compelling. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Everything Connected’

world’s strongest man (Hot Fruit / Caroline)

If the transition of Britpop’s former poster-boys from hedonistic young things to some of music’s elder statesman has ranged wildly in terms of both glory and grace, then Supergrass singer Gaz Coombes can lay claim to a fair whack of the latter, even if he’s not quite risen with the chart-beating bombast of LG. Continuing his route into more elegiac, introverted territory, ‘World’s Strongest Man’ takes its cues from another bunch of cerebral Oxfordians (that’s Radiohead FYI) on ‘Wounded Egos’ and ‘Oxygen Masks’, while even the more pacey ‘Deep Pockets’ is more like an accessible take on krautrock rather than a laddy banger. Gaz’s third solo offering continues to find him moving into his next phase with real class. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Wounded Egos’


TWIN SHADOW caer (Warner Bros.)

‘Caer’ means “to fall”, a reflection of the constant cycles of rebirth Twin Shadow has been through both musically and emotionally. Opener ‘Bombs Away’ features a resonant refrain that acts as a proclamation for the whole record, as he channels a sombre Prince over ethereal strings. Powerful vocal hooks on ‘Brace’ take the album straight into pop territory, with xylophonic trills, staccato strings and trap hi-hats giving the ‘80s melodrama a modern twist. There are some meandering points, but his sobering narrative on piano finale ‘Runaway’ ends things on a poignant high-note. “Boy, you are a runaway, and nothing’s gonna change unless you change,” he pines - a prophecy to the continued cycle of collapse and reincarnation that he will duly commit to. As long as the results continue to inspire as ‘Caer’ has done, it’s a journey worth sticking to. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Little Woman’ no shame

Judging by her recent London gig (see p78) Lily’s back with a (Trigger) bang. Released 8th June.


bad contestant

Saucy warbling his way through a whole album, our Matt headed to LA to record this debut with Jonathan Rado. Out 1st June.

BODEGA endless scroll

Rhythmic post-punk with a splash of wry wit and produced by Parquet Courts’ Austin, what’s not to get excited about?! Released 1st June.





their prime (Sub Pop)

Entering with ghostly vocals and sweeping, melancholic strings, before descending into swathes of heavy noise, opener ‘Left’ is symptomatic of the thrillingly eclectic approach that Vancouver’s Jo Passed adopt on ‘Their Prime’. ‘MDM’ is a jubilantly wonky affair; ‘Glass’ dishes out spiky, one note stabs like now-defunct fellow Canadians Women, while ‘Repair’ is a woozy exhalation that crescendoes in crashing fashion and seems like the strange byproduct of having listened to Grizzly Bear and Fugazi in equal measure. A brilliant and unexpected ride from start to finish, ‘Their Prime’ deserves to be thrust into the spotlight. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Repair’ 71




cosmic wink (Mexican Summer)

‘Cosmic Wink’ was written during the singer’s move from her native Texas to Los Angeles, and is packed full of the uncertainty and excitement of movement and change. ‘Mama Proud’ is a gorgeous, mid-album highlight that channels folk singers of old, while lamenting a decision that she must make, but one that won’t make her Mum too pleased. ‘Cosmic Wink’ is largely free from inhibition though, documenting the big changes in life over beautiful, sweeping folk. While the album doesn’t hold all the answers, it’s still sure enough in its message to connect and remind you of the important things. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Mama Proud’



Listening to this elegant, organic record you’d never believe that it was made by the once-frontman of teen rockers Cajun Dance Party. Having also graduated from shoegazers Yuck among others, ‘Minus’ is easily his most mature work. It might also be his best. The self-titled opener immediately establishes the textures and tones that categorise the album as a whole. At the centrepoint is the cacophonous ‘Madder’, a track that draws on the dissonant majesty of Talk Talk’s seminal ‘Spirit of Eden’. It adds tortured guitar squeals to the formula, and uses subtle dynamics to violently progress towards a climax somewhere in the middle of its gratuitous 13-minute runtime. All in all, this is an object of rare beauty and sophistication that posits Daniel Blumberg on a higher plain. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Madden’



Daniel spills on what hespills had on stereo Isaac onthe what he wrote and hadas onhe the stereo as recorded ‘Minus’. he put his self-titled debut together. billy steiger

- Recordings, drawings and photographs from in and around Frîdd Newydd, December 2014 December 2015 I met Billy in 2013 when I’d just started playing with Kohhei Matsuda (Bo Ningen) and have worked with him ever since. Billy is a total multi-talent.

tom wheatley double bass I met Tom in 2014 and immediately asked him to join me on a trip to Iceland ATP. He’s got a deep understanding of his instrument.

Seymour Wright Is This Right?

Seymour has a completely unique and radical approach to the saxophone and life. He has introduced me to so much music.


CHARLES WATSON now that i’m a river

(Moshi Moshi)

‘Now That I’m a River’ is a quietly experimental affair that allows the Slow Club singer to branch out into instrumental territory, flirting with the woozy stylings of Wild Nothing on the title track and ‘Love Is Blue’, while there’s a touch of psych to the synth stylings of standouts ‘Wildflower’ and ‘Abandoned Buick’. It’s when he’s on this kind of enterprising form that the album soars, which has you wondering whether the relatively by-numbers last couple of tracks, ‘Everything Goes Right’ and ‘Tapestry’ were strictly necessary. Fans of Slow Club’s ‘Complete Surrender’’s sonic diversity, too, might find ‘Now That I’m a River’ similarly one-note to ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Any More’. It’s a better record, though, primarily because Charles sounds genuinely refreshed. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Wildflower’




Two Parts Together (Exploding In Sound)

EPOCALYPSE NOW! Because sometimes good things come in small(er) packages.



it’s been like (Art Is Hard)

Determined to make more than a ripple with this EP, Baywaves’ ‘Still In Bed’ is a summer-ready package of hazy indie pop. Showcasing their versatility in styles, the EP hosts the catchy, distorted sounds of ‘Höxter’ in contrast to the synth-lead, retro guitars of ‘I’m Tryna’. ‘It’s Been Like’ is polished, experimental and summertime ready. (Samantha Daly) LISTEN: ‘Höxter’

Brooklyn noisemakers Big Ups embrace the idea of duality with third record, ‘Two Parts Together’, as they expand the elements of their post-hardcore sound while sticking with the merits of their loud-quiet-loud template. The self-titled opening track embodies this theme entirely, a propulsive beat fuels the distorted schisms of ‘In The Shade’, and ‘Trying To Love’ transforms a Peter Hook-style bass line with the use of rattling percussion and ominous feedback. The repeated use of jarring time signatures and staccato rhythms give the album a sense of unease on the whole. ‘Two Parts Together’ has just enough crunch to keep things exciting right up to its thundering climax. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Two Parts Together’


DRAWING BOARD with big ups

Q1: Where did you record

Q2: How do the titular two parts fit together?

Q3: What does your ultimate ‘Fear’ look like?

Q4: You’ve got a song called ‘Imaginary Dog Walker’, and a dog in your press photo. What does your ideal dog look like?

‘Two Parts Together’?


sugar & spice (Heavenly)

24-year-old Harriette Pilbeam has been described as something of a modest “runaway success” since the release of debut track ‘Try’. ‘Sugar & Spice’ cements her as the modern day successor to dream pop titans Cocteau Twins from the get-go. With a finessed production tying everything together, the end result is pretty ecstatic. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Sure‘



flowerss (Congrats)

Drenched in sunshiney warmth, Zac Farro and co’s latest again draws on the Paramore drummer’s more classic influences. ‘She Said’ stands as a gorgeous look at Zac’s own overthinking habits, while ‘All That Love Is’’ funky strut feels addictive from the off. A hazy slice of loveliness. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘My Girl’ 74 74













SATURDAY 5TH & SUNDAY 6TH MAY 2018 · · @handmadetotally




albert hammond jr


lbert Hammond Jr, as the music playing before he walks on stage tells us, is back in the New York groove. Tonight marks the first time he’s played in his home town since 2016, but he more than makes up for his absence by being in the form of his life - playful, compelling, and a joy to watch.

driven by riffs indebted to Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’.

For the most part, the iconic guitarist leaves playing six strings up to his bandmates. It’s a sight that takes a little getting used to, but he wears the freedom it gives him well. Throughout the set he dances around the Brooklyn Steel, New York City. stage with his palms splayed at his sides, as Photos: Joyce Lee. if he’s about to burst into a tap routine, or clambers up amps and drum risers. Before ‘In Transit’, he invites friends Hinds on stage. Ana The zipping guitars of ‘Caught By My Shadow’ Perrote repays him by unleashing a torrent and the breezy swoon of ‘Holiday’ open of beer into his face mid-song, while Carlotta things with a familiar bang before he reminds Cosials launches herself off stage in euphoria. the crowd why we’re all here - to celebrate new album ‘Francis Trouble’. “If you haven’t If the Madrid band and the audience are heard it yet that’s your loss,” he says dryly having a lot of fun, Albert is clearly having ahead of a wistful ‘Set To Attack’, the first new even more of it. When he returns for the song of the night. encore, he takes his yellow jacket and hangs it on top of his mic stand, places it over his face, He’s not wrong, either. If tonight proves and holds his mic up in front, as if his clothes anything it’s a) how much he’s grown into are possessed and singing ‘Rocky’s Late the role of frontman and b) just how good his Night’. “Ladies and genitals, how fantastic new record is. The likes of ‘DvsL’ and ‘Tea For you are,” he declares before finale ‘Muted Two’ not only fit seamlessly among older Beatings’. “I’d like to never leave a stage like tracks, but stand out as glistening this.” Unrealistic it may be, but it feels like no highlights. The former indulges one present would have cause for complaint Albert’s showmanship while if he carried on forever. (Rhian Daly)




Tufnell Park Dome, London. Photos: Carolina Faruolo.


ily Allen has always been clever. Her wit was there in the provocative lyrics of her biggest pop hits of the late noughties - ‘Smile’, ‘LDN’, and ‘The Fear’ - and tonight, treating a small London venue to songs off upcoming fourth album, ‘No Shame’, she proves she’s as sharp as ever. She’s a smart lyricist, writing herself into situations which are as amusing in their selfdeprecation as much as quick to point the finger at others (a sea of middle fingers bouncing along to the rhythm of 2009 hit ‘Fuck You’ is a wonderful sight). But alongside her humour, there’s real sadness: these songs detail the breakdown of her marriage, her mental health difficulties, and her troubles with substance abuse. For all the laughs and tight rhymes, Lily really has lived through it all. It’s joyous, then, that ‘No Shame’ is the sound of her embracing 2018 pop in all its glory: there are brash synths, sincere beat drops, and bright red lights. To a roaring crowd, she brings out Giggs for ‘Trigger Bang’. ‘Waste’ is a brilliant rhythmic number which sees Lily twisting around the stage. It has a bright ska beat which sounds fresh among the mostly electropop tracks she shares tonight, until she gets into older material and the crowd remembers where that backbeat comes from: it was there in the naïve thrill of ‘Smile’ all along, and, with a spring in her step, Lily looks thrilled to have it back. (Ellen Peirson-Hagger)



Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Emma Swann.


hile MØ may be more well-known for her spots on some of pop’s most successful hits of recent times – take ‘Cold Water’ and ‘Lean On’, for example – the Danish star takes to the stage at Brixton with the venue in her total command. Single ‘Nostalgia’ is a prime example of how MØ crafts perfect pop soundscapes while still remaining adventurous with her genre-sampling. There are no backing dancers or over-the-top theatrics of any sort tonight - it’s her, just singing and moving capriciously across the stage, set against video backdrops. “Don’t you want to be wild with me, like we used to back then?” she sings. The crowd’s rapturous response suggests yes.

declan mckenna Kentish Town Forum, London. Photo: Emma Swann.


till riding high off a long Easter weekend, The Forum is buzzing. By the time Whenyoung stride on stage at the sober hour of 7.30, there’s already a swell of bodies on ground level, and half the crowd are on friends’ shoulders by the time Superfood follow. Such crowd admiration is simply a warming of the vocal chords though; when Declan McKenna makes his sparkly entrance, the response is simply deafening. When Dec played for DIY at Hackney all-dayer Mirrors back in 2015, he wore a t-shirt proclaiming ‘You can call me Mrs. Harry Styles’. On tonight’s showing, he’s maybe closer to becoming the indie-pop equivalent of the man himself.


Her energy is infectious. Her songs are energetic and effervescent, earworm after earworm. Crowd pleasers ‘Lean On’ and ‘Cold Water’ get the biggest reception, her setlist a seamless blend of what it means to be pop, mixing it with everything in between. ‘Kamikaze’ is a highlight with its bubbly instrumentation and shimmering synths. Tonight at Brixton, MØ shows she’s got the qualities to continue to rise as a pop star in her own right – while also breaking the ideas and trope of what it actually means to be one. (Cady Siregar)

‘Brazil’ is thrown out as the second song in the set like it’s nothing, glitter canons casually set off during opener ‘Make Me Your Queen’. Neither are premature: every single note played from debut LP ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ is belted back at Declan in true pop icon style. Massive-sounding new song ‘Astronaut’, dropped in the encore, just serves to amplify all this further: it’s already greeted like a classic. ‘Isombard’ closes the main set, and by the time Declan and his (brilliant) band depart, euphoria has spread throughout the Forum. Declan McKenna’s time is well and truly right now. (Will Richards)



In the minutes preceding Arcade Fire’s arrival, the ‘Everything Now’ era corporate schtick is out in full force, adverts for fidget spinners and ‘Electric Blue’ eyedrops adorning the panoramic screens above the stage. And when the band finally do appear, it’s through the crowd, introduced as if they’re taking to the ring for a boxing bout. It’s grand, outrageous, and pretty hilarious. Opener ‘Everything Now’ - greeted as a classic - is followed seamlessly by ‘Rebellion (Lies)’, Will Butler galloping around, battering a drum like his life depends on it. Then comes the disco-drenched ‘Here Comes The Night Time’, where the stage becomes a revolving circus; drummer Jeremy Gara sitting in the middle, spun around at intervals, his bandmates circling around him. The 360º stage is utilised perfectly, no corner or section of

the arena feeling shut off from the action. ‘Sprawl II’ is greeted by an equally glittery outfit change from Régine Chassagne, while ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’ sees Win Butler clambering through the crowd to a raised platform, gathering adoration with every step. The boundaries between crowd and audience - especially at an arena show - have never been more blurred. Jarvis Cocker joins the band onstage for a run through his ‘Cunts Are Still Running The World’, dedicated by the Pulp legend ”to everyone outside this room”, before ‘Wake Up’ sounds as enormous tonight as it did over a decade ago. Arcade Fire have never needed flash visual accompaniments or added pomp in order to connect with an audience, but when the two are brought together tonight, it elevates their show to being one of the best in the world. (Will Richards)

arcade fire

Wembley Arena, London. Photo: Emma Swann.

george ezra

Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Matt Richardson.


perfectly live, while ‘Listen To The Man’ and ‘Barcelona’ are huge, timely reminders of the prowess of 2014 debut ‘Wanted On Voyage.

The record has only been out for eleven days, but even its album tracks are greeted like old friends and given massive singalongs, clearly having seeped into the hearts of everyone in attendance on first listen. ‘Saviour’ is a menacing folk number that translates

‘Staying At Tamara’s’ highlight ‘Shotgun’ is also a standout here, inducing wideeyed grins and hip-shaking in equal measure. There’s no particular surprises to the evening, bar a rendition of Rudimental track ‘These Days’, but any hint of surprise or unpredictability is cast aside in favour of a wonderful, warm sense of familiarity, something George Ezra absolutely masters. Wembley is up next at the end of the year, and the ease in which he commands Brixton Academy tonight indicates that step up should be a doddle too. (Will Richards)

hooting to the top of the charts with the biggest first-week sales of the year so far with ‘Staying At Tamara’s’, and heading out on his largest UK tour to date, there’s an unstoppable amount of momentum behind George Ezra. The confidence is abundantly clear the second he bounds onto the iconic Brixton Academy stage and throws himself headfirst into the breezy first strums of ‘Cassy O’.



Julia popped off for a shotgun wedding shortly after the set.

sunflower bean KOKO, London. Photo: Emma Swann.


his is our biggest headline show to date”, smirks Julia Cumming as Sunflower Bean bring their triumphant second record to KOKO. Unsurprisingly, it’s a performance that’s worthy of the occasion. She takes the stage in a dazzling white dress and silver boots while drummer Jacob Faber beams with a grin that lights up the venue, as the band open with the stonking riffery of ‘Burn It’. Guitarist Nick Kivlen, meanwhile - dressed in a white industrial jumpsuit - comes across as a kind of kangaroo/astronaut hybrid in his corner. He spends the duration of the gig springing around the stage like he’s had too much orange sherbert with his dinner, sprinkling arpeggios and earmelting licks into the mix without ever missing a beat.


Once a shy and reserved character, Julia commands the stage with the confidence of a leader tonight, sparking a call-and-response during the thumping ‘Crisis Fest’. Sunflower Bean have made a powerful statement this evening. They’ve not only established themselves as a live tour-de-force, but also committed the promise that there are even greater peaks still to come. (James Bentley) 81

A big inter-band pub quiz of sorts, we’ll be grilling your faves one by one.

It’s Your Round

drew macfarlane, glass animals Drink: Something tropical? Cost: Free! Location: His mum’s house, Oxford

General Knowledge Q1: In which country would you find the Ian Fleming International Airport? Shiiiiiiiit. I’m gonna say the USA? It’s actually Jamaica. Q2: Which 1984 pop song starts with the lyrics “I made it through the wilderness”? Oh I know this! ‘Like A Virgin’! A karaoke classic! Correct. Q3: Which architect designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge? I have no idea, but I did meet the guy who did the first ever bungee jump, which was off that bridge. He just started talking to me on a bus once.

The architect was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but cool story, bro. Q4: What is sushi traditionally wrapped in? It’s not seaweed? It IS seaweed! Q5: Who was prime minister when England won the world cup in 1966? Oh god, this is where being born in America comes to my disadvantage. Genuinely no idea. It’s Harold Wilson.



Chosen subject: the solar system Q6: On which planet does The Great Red Spot appear? Jupiter. Straight off the bat - correct! Q7: In which year was Pluto no longer recognised as a planet? 1990….no, 2005! Oooooh so close - 2006. Q8: How long on average does it take light to travel from the sun to Earth? It’s around the 8-minute mark. It is. Q9: How old roughly

is the solar system? Ah I know this one, 4.6 billion years old. Bang on the money! Q10: Is a year on Mercury longer or shorter than a year on Earth? I always get these confused and the wrong way round, but I’m going to go ahead and say shorter. It is - a year on Mercury lasts around 80 days.



SCORE 6/10

Verdict: A so-so performance on general knowledge, but it’s a near TOTAL BOFF ALERT!!! when it comes to the planets: Brian Cox watch out.

Photo: Pooneh Ghana 82



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