set music free free / issue 51 / may 2016 diymag.com
Cry me a Rivers
A slice of ‘Paradise’
Mishaps, mayhem & Putin...
The Kills are still
Return with a new album and a pedicure
Back and bigger than ever 1
Photo: Nick Sayers
It took ten hours to convince Oli he wasn’t a real cowboy.
GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
Emma Swann Founding Editor GOOD Weezer’s return to the UK was everything and then some. Best. Band. Ever. EVIL They probably won’t be back for another five years now, will they? .............................. tom connick Online Editor GOOD The amount of big, noisy bands doing amazing things. Yak are a breath of fresh air, and White Lung and King Gizzard continue to wow. EVIL Not getting the invite to Dreamland. Bastards. .............................. El hunt Associate Editor GOOD #indieamnesty was a truly magical experience. EVIL Piss off, drizzle.
I’m ready to bask in the sunshine sipping warm cans of Scrumpy Jack already. .............................. Sarah Jamieson Deputy Editor GOOD GAME OF THRONES IS BAAAACK. I’m just a bit excited, can you tell? EVIL Knowing that every Monday for the next godknows-how-long I’ll be spending most of my time dodging bloody spoilers. .............................. Louise Mason Art Director GOOD I got an invite to Dreamland and it was the greatest day, I love everyone. EVIL They don’t even let you take tiny explosives on aeroplanes, sorry Gatwick.
EDITOR’S LET TER May’s issue of DIY is loud. Not just blare-up-the-speakers-andpiss-off-the-neighbours loud: noise is everywhere, but it arrives in different strands. There’s Yak’s almighty debut (the best first work for bloody ages). There’s the explosive energy of White Lung. And there’s the heroic Then there’s The Kills, staying razor-sharp after over a decade in the game. All that, plus the next generation. Plus, in the next generation Cardiff’s Estrons, one of the most exciting new bands in yonks. And that’s all backed by great new records from fresh-faced loons like Twin Peaks and King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard. It’s an insane month. Come to think of it, now’s a good time to piss off the neighbours. Jamie Milton, Editor GOOD Seriously - Yak’s album is absurdly amazing. Weird, too. It’s our lead review in this month’s issue. EVIL Less evil, more bittersweet. This is my last issue as editor. I’ll be staying as Neu Editor as well as ‘going freelance’, aka finding time to watch all the Euro 2016 games.
What’s on the DIY stereo this month?
Biffy Clyro - ellipsis
They’re naked on the cover, and Biffy Clyro are putting themselves in the frontline for their bold new LP. They also front our snazzy new Festival Guide (they’re not naked, this time).
Whitney - Light Upon the Lake A dreamy dose of escapism from a group made up of former Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra members.
C O N T E N T S
6 METRONOMY 1 0 B I F F Y C LY R O 1 2 C U R TAI N CAL L 14 WOLF ALICE 16 TOOTHLESS 2 1 D I Y H A L L O F FA M E 2 2 P O P S TAR P O S T BAG 2 4 F E S T I VA L S
28 ESTRONS 30 JORJA SMITH 3 4 D AY WAV E 35 LUH
36 THE KILLS 4 4 YA K 48 FLUME 52 OSCAR 56 WHITE LUNG 60 WEEZER
REVIEWS 64 ALBUMS 76 LIVE
Founding Editor Emma Swann Editor Jamie Milton Deputy Editor Sarah Jamieson Associate Editor El Hunt Online Editor Tom Connick Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Marketing & Events Jack Clothier, Rhi Lee Contributors Alex CabrĂŠ, Alex Lynham, Ali Shutler, Amelia Maher, Anastasia Connor, Henry Boon, Jessica Goodman, Joe Goggins, Katie Hawthorne, Liam McNeilly, Mustafa Mirreh, Niall Cunningham, Nina Keen, Rachel Michaella Finn, Tim Cooper, Tom Hancock, Tom Walters, William Moss, Will Richards Photographers Carolina Faruolo, Caroline Quinn, Mike Massaro, Nick Sayers, Poppy Marriott, Robin Pope, Ryan Johnston, Sam Wood, Sarah Louise Bennett For DIY editorial email@example.com For DIY sales firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com tel: +44 (0)20 3632 3456 For DIY stockist enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org DIY is published by Sonic Media Group. All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of DIY. 25p where sold. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which Sonic Media Group holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of DIY or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.
PERSONAL INVITATION TO
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FRIDAY MAY 20TH 2016
KOMEDIA 12:00 – 16:00 HRS Live performances by five top acts hailing from the lowlands Free drinks for delegates – look for Ruud Berends at the bar Komedia: 44-47 Gardner Street (entrance on Regent Street)
BROUGHT TO YOU BY EUROSONIC NOORDERSLAG, POWERED BY DUTCH PERFORMING ARTS AND BUMA CULTUUR. WITH THE KIND SUPPORT BY THE EMBASSY OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS. 5
If youâ€™re Metronomy and you know it, clap your hands! 6
in the studio
Nights In D
on’t expect Metronomy to tour their new record. It’s not just the slick 80s dress code of their ‘Love Letters’ tour they’re ditching on its follow-up; as main man Joe Mount reveals, they’re shunning gigs altogether. Last month he sat the band down - that’s guitarist/keyboardist Oscar Cash, bassist Gbenga Adelekan and drummer Anna Prior and explained his decision.
With his new album, Metronomy’s Joe Mount is getting a “musical pedicure”, treating himself to “me time” and ignoring any rules. DIY goes in the studio. Words: Jamie Milton.
Putting this perspective to a record label Because Music - however, isn’t that simple. “Not as easy as I thought it would be,” Joe admits, post-sunning it up in California with his girlfriend. “I thought, ‘This isn’t the worst thing in the world, is it?’ Just not touring for a little while. What if the label had a band who suddenly lost their arms and couldn’t physically tour?” To clarify, he still has all his limbs intact. This isn’t him waving farewell to the stage forever. “Maybe I underestimated just how hard it is for record labels in this day and age,” he considers. “They need all the help they can get, because people don’t really buy albums anymore. It’s tricky. But they’ve actually been really supportive. Although I partly convinced them by extending the record deal a little bit. I didn’t have to give them another option on a record, but I wanted to make it more comfortable for them. It sweetens the deal, I suppose.” Without having to worry about the ‘will this translate on stage’ bollocks, Joe’s given himself a lot of freedom. His new album is fun, first and foremost. Like a kid in a candy shop, he’s trying everything, seeing what sticks. ‘Old Skool’ is a snarky quip at posh old West London, backed by DJ scratches from “teenage hero” Mix Master Mike. There’s a song called ‘16 Beat’ which is all about his favourite drum beat. Truly, the most does-
what-it-says-on-the-tin of upbeat pop songs.
GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT
Anything goes on this follow-up to ‘Love Letters’. Since the release of 2008’s ‘Nights Out’, in fact, life’s run away from Joe. He’s released two hugely successful records, toured to the point of no return, and started a family. “There’s this thing - you realise that by having children, you’ve completely screwed up any free time you have forever,” he claims. “Now, when I have the opportunity to do anything that’s on my own clock making music, meeting friends, whatever - I completely seize that time and use it as ‘me time’.
TITLE TBC WHERE Paris,
Stockport, Noyant-laGravoyère and Ramsgate SONGS ‘Old Skool’, ‘16 Beat’, ‘Back Together’ DUE Summer 2016 OTHER DEETS The
album contains a big-name collaboration, but we can’t say who (yet). “The song needed a female voice. And I really liked her voice,” says Mount. That’s all you’re getting (booooo!).
“It’s like getting a manicure,” he explains, stifling a laugh. “I realise how precious it is. The best way to use any of that time is to enjoy it, especially with making music. Every time I went in the studio, it was pure enjoyment.” He’s just been for a pedicure, as it happens. Over in LA, his girlfriend opened him up
“I guess this album is an audio pedicure.” Joe Mount 8 diymag.com
to the experience. “And it was great!” he enthuses. “It really was. I did enjoy it. I can understand the appeal. I guess this album is an audio pedicure, then.” Don’t go thinking this is the sound of Metronomy sitting back and soaking up the applause. “I don’t want it to sound like I’m doing that,” he states. “I’m not just gonna go on holiday! The main reason is just because you’re expected to put so much of your time into playing live. I’d like to put the same amount of time into writing and recording. It’s about being productive, really.” He has a point. Bedroom producers and young upstarts can churn out three records a year, simply because playing shows doesn’t come into the equation. It’s been two years since Metronomy’s last album. Don’t be surprised if Joe begins to churn out albums like tour dates. “I want to use all that energy on recording. And now we’ll see just how far this idea gets me.” DIY
THE NEW ALBUM
Rip it up and start again Biffy Clyro are 2/3rds of the way to being conjoined triplets.
Biffy Clyro have never been a band to rest on their laurels: with their
newly-announced seventh album ‘Ellipsis’, they’re throwing out the rulebook and starting over.
ver the past fifteen years, Biffy Clyro have seamlessly transformed themselves from a trio of rough-around-the-edges experimentalists into fully fledged titans of rock. Six records - two album trilogies – later, they dominate arenas and headline festivals like nobody’s business. So, with their new full-length ‘Ellipsis’, they had to try something new.
gorgeousness with real trash,” Simon confirms with a gleeful grin. “If the drums sounded amazing, we wanted a really dirty, smelly-sounding guitar. If the vocals were really angelic, we wanted to distort the drums.” It’s an approach clear from lead track ‘Wolves of Winter’, which packs distorted vocal effects, raw guitars and manic drum parts alongside a rousing chorus. “If we hadn’t made six records previously with the matter-of-fact sound of our instruments, then we would never have wanted to make this record, so it’s definitely a reaction.”
“It’s definitely a reaction.” Simon Neil
After the grandiose sonics of their last trio of albums, they wanted to shake things up. Rip it up and start again. “You’re in such a bubble,” says frontman Simon Neil, of their lives in the band, “and especially for a band going on to their seventh record, you’re normally just in the routine. I don’t think we’ve ever just wanted to be a routine band - you know, reliable old Biffy Clyro! We’d rather be completely unreliable and have people think we’ve lost the plot. Either love it or hate it, that’s what we want, that’s what we’ve always kind of wanted.”
Whether or not they’ve lost the plot is yet to be determined, but they’ve certainly gone all out. Recruiting “mad professor” Rich Costey for production, ‘Ellipsis’ is about about pairing beauty and grit, taking left turns and surrendering themselves to giving anything a go. “With Rich, the modus operandi was 10 diymag.com
“Rich would just plug in shit all the time,” he laughs. “You’d be sitting playing and hit a brilliant sound, but you’d not care how you got there, or if it’s too loud or going out through an exhaust in the car park! It was just like, ‘it sounds good, so let’s do it.’ That was quite liberating.” Biffy Clyro grace the cover of this year’s Festival Guide, out now. ‘Ellipsis’ will be released on 8th July via Warner Bros. Records / 14th Floor Recordings. DIY
LET’S EAT GRANDMA
the new album
the debut album
2 7 t h M AY 2 0 1 6
17th JUNE 2016
‘I Will Be The World’
‘Skip A Sinking Stone’
2 0 t h M AY 2 0 1 6
the new single
A LV VAY S ‘Alvvays’
the new album
‘Music In Exile’
‘VEGA INTL. Night School’
CD LP Digital
CD LP Digital
CD LP Digital
more info at WWW.TRANSGRESSIVE.CO.UK
Cut Ribbons & Tall Ships
s h i m m e r b r i g h t ly f o r C u r t a i n C a l l 2 0 1 6 Newcomers Sports Team kick things off down at Queen of Hoxton.
urtain Call – DIY’s endeavour with Jägermeister – has already played host to two artists and now it’s time for a third to take up residence on Shoreditch’s Curtain Road. Having previously showcased both Birdskulls and Kagoule, who recorded and performed on the iconic East London stretch last month, it’s now up to Welsh quintet Cut Ribbons to add a more serene splash to the musical mix as they take on the Queen of Hoxton. First up, London-based newcomers Sports Team fill out the tiny stage. There’s no holding the band back, as their frontman promptly veers off stage, towards the unsuspecting crowd. Their brand of drawled slackerpop is enticing, and has clearly been a factor in their building rep, but without any music out in the open, it’s a challenge for the crowd to get completely behind them just yet. Next up, Cut Ribbons’ performance shimmers from the get-go. Tracks from their debut ‘We Want To Watch Something We Loved Burn’ sound glorious, with stand-out moments coming in the form of ‘Clouds’ and the synth-laden title track. Soaring and harmonious, their set reaches some dizzying heights, while latest number ‘Helen of Troy’ - recorded just a few metres up the road - injects proceedings with an extra kick of electricity. Marking their arrival with a subdued introduction, the quartet
waste little time in drawing their big guns. It may have been almost four years since the release of their debut album, but ‘T=0’ hits as hard as ever, with its crashing waves and delicately-sung vocals. It’s a balance the band still manage to keep impeccably live to this day. As expected, their set’s an emotionally-fuelled journey, through racing instrumentals and gorgeously introverted moments. Newer tracks like ‘Will To Life’ show off their bolder side, proving they’ve many more strings to their bow, while their debut album’s cuts still shimmer with brilliant life. With a second LP finally complete – frontman Ric Phethean’s own words – the next step for the Brighton band is undoubtedly going to be exciting. DIY sports team
It’s Not A Storm, It’s An
Music’s most enigmatic producers - The Avalanches are finally back. Now there’s nobody left to reform.
umours of a return from the Avalanches have been spreading for years. Fake festival posters, phoney Soundcloud pages - nothing but lies, lies, lies. It became quite painful, to be honest, to the point where the Aussie producers probably felt obliged to come back for real. The band have announced three shows this summer, including a slot at London’s Field Day. They’ll also play Primavera Sound and their home country’s Splendour in the Grass. No info has been revealed regarding new material, but this is enough to get excited about for now, right? It also leaves us with very few acts who could possibly form a comeback. There’s nobody left. Honestly - even Jai Paul’s busy. Now all that remains is The Smiths (who are never ever getting back together) and Hard-Fi. Bloody Hard-Fi. DIY
Service Station of the Month Spector: Fleet Services, M3, England
Tame Impala’s frontman, Kevin Parker, is a very busy man indeed.
ne year on from the gigantic ‘Currents’, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is working on new material.
Bands love service stations more than music itself. Snacks, bogs, time to think - it’s all there. These are miraculous places where festival headliners mingle with lorry drivers. It’s due time we paid respect to the very best. was going to go for the idyllic Tebay near the Scottish border but after seeing The Telegraph describe it as “the best motorway service station in the UK” I realised that Tories are among us, even in those hallowed moments when you’re just trying to enjoy a sausage and bean melt with your nearest and dearest. So with Tebay disqualified the prize has to go to the M3 Fleet Services. It’s got a KFC, BK,
Keep At It
Maccy D’s, Subway, WHSmith, Dunkin’ Donuts, Papa John’s AND Starbucks drive-through. There’s also a Waitrose, for whichever band member’s going through a vegan phase after watching Cowspiracy. It’s choice that counts when you’ve been away from home for weeks on end, or at least the illusion of choice. However many snacks are put in front of me I always end up walking out with a bottle of Perrier and a Kinder Surprise. These are my confessions.”
‘Initial ideas’ are in the works, we’re told which could either result in new material for his day-job band or something else altogether. “I don’t really know what it is until it’s finished,” he said at the APRA Awards. “Like I don’t know if it’s for Tame Impala or if it’s something I’m going to write for someone else, because I’ve been wanting to do that a lot more. “I think after a long tour and after an album, your brain feels like it wants to relax but at the same time making music for me is something that comes kind of naturally,” he adds. “Just like a brain process. I’m trying not to work on stuff but there are always things to do.” Who knows, maybe he’ll return Rihanna’s seal of approval with a collaboration. Either that, or the world gets treated to a speedy ‘Currents’ follow-up. DIY Tame Impala will play Bilbao BBK Live, Melt! and Open’er. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
Wolf Alice storm London residency (with a little help from their friends)
I am truly gutted,” wrote Theo Ellis, in a message posted on Wolf Alice’s various online presences on 26th March. It was the band’s first of four nights at the Forum in Kentish Town - a venue as close as possible to their spiritual home of Camden. “I won’t be able to play the show tonight. I have developed a really bad infection surrounding my elbow leaving me with limited mobility and on a lot of very sickly medicines.” A decision made “with heavy heart,” his words were followed by a pretty gruesome photo of the offending arm. His replacement for the London dates was John Victor of good pals Gengahr. Who, as it turned out, still sways around stage like a wannabe Jonny Greenwood with just four strings (later, for the one US tour date he also missed, it was indie’s silver fox™, Keith Murray of We Are Scientists). Plus, as way of making up to those first-nighters who’d learned of Theo’s injury just hours before doors, more great mates, Slaves, stepped in as additional support. That’s on top of the collection of great British comrades Swim Deep, Spring King, Bloody Knees, Abattoir Blues and Fish across the four nights.
We popped along to the third night of four.
There’s not much left to be written about Wolf Alice’s first steps. Lord knows we’ve penned a fair bit of it. From their first headline shows to their triumphant Brixton Academy moment, we’ve pinned them as the band of a generation. Back on their North London home turf, tonight they prove worth every syllable. The singalongs to the first verse of opener ‘Your Loves Whore’ ring to the rafters, every bit a rallying cry as it is a snot-nosed ode to youth. From there on out, each second of Wolf Alice’s set tonight screams for bigger stages. ‘Bros’, the blog favourite turned radio hit, replicates that ceiling-shaking reception, the accompanying claps feeling like they might raise the building from its roots. It’s remarkable to witness - a band born for festival headliner status reigning themselves in rather than gunning straight for the big time. Anyone who tells you Wolf Alice couldn’t have sold out a venue five times this size this weekend is only kidding themselves. A towering ‘Giant Peach’ closes proceedings, Ellie inviting a lucky audience member onstage to fill Theo’s vacant role as her side-step partner. As the band leave the stage to that customary shower of gold confetti, Ellie’s dance pal falling to her knees as the cannons erupt, it’s all smiles. (Tom Connick) Wolf Alice will play Bilbao BBK Live. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
Hello Jagwar Ma! How are you? Jono Ma: Good thanks! I’m in Paris. I’ve got to run What’s on to a club downgoing the road to DJ later.with... One of the
promoters said ‘You realise Daft Punk are coming down tonight?’ They won’t have their helmets. I won’t even know who they are. I’ll just know that they’re there, lurking. You’ve been working on your second album. How’s it going? It’s almost done! I’ve set up a little workstation at an apartment in République, and I’ve just been doing the final touches to the record now. It should be done in the next week or two, hopefully. Fingers crossed. At this stage it’s looking like it’ll be out in August or September. I think we’re going to drop a track pretty soon.
What’s going on with…
How are the new songs sounding? I don’t know. I’ve lost all objectivity now. But the reaction from the few people I’ve played them to has been really good, so we’re really excited. It’s more of the same, but with more bombastic beats! Bigger! Brighter! I don’t know, it’s hard to put the record into words. You can expect to be surprised.
What’s the process been like on this record? Most of the sketches for the record happened while we were on tour. Between gigs, whether it was on a plane or in a hotel room, I was always sketching The Avalanches aren’t the only big-name Aussies coming back this year. down ideas on my computer. When Sydney trio Jagwar Ma are following up 2013 debut ‘Howlin’’ with another we stopped touring I had almost “bombastic” dose of dance-obsessed pop. two hundred beats and loops and instrumental songs and stuff, loads of ideas sketched down in various places. When we’d written all the songs on ‘Howlin’’ we’d never played a single live show as a band. I don’t know how that’s affected it musically, but it definitely changed our headspace. Where have you been recording? It’s a studio I built with a friend, maybe five years ago? When Gab [vocalist Gabriel Winterfield] and I started writing music together, that was the first idea I had – to go to this studio in France that I helped my friend build and make a record. So once the touring for ‘Howlin’’ stopped and it was time to make another record, we decided to come and do it in the same place.
“Make new music? Hat’s a good idea!”
With the new album almost finished, what are you up to next? We’re going to try and write a couple of spontaneous, last minute tracks, which I think is always an interesting thing to do. You write all these songs, work on them for six months, and at the end your palette has changed. On ‘Howlin’’ there are a few songs – like ‘Four’ and ‘Exercise’ – that came out in the last week of mixing, literally in the eleventh hour. So we’re going to try do another little session like that and see what happens, see if any new ideas stick, just before we shut the gate on Jagwar Ma will play Bilbao BBK Live. Head the record. to diymag.com/festivals for details.
So Long, See You In A Bit, Lads Bombay Bicycle Club are heading their separate ways (for the time being, anyway). Still, you can expect to see a lot more music from all the boys. First off the blocks, itâ€™s bassist Ed Nash. With Toothless, heâ€™s bringing songs conceived on a tourbus, with zero expectations. Words: Will Richards.
d Nash is back where it all started. He’s currently assembling a live band for his new project Toothless in the Tottenham rehearsal room Bombay Bicycle Club used to frequent in the run-up to the release of debut album ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’. “I literally haven’t been here for ten years, and there’s pictures of us as kids on the wall, it’s so strange,” he remarks. “The area has changed so much since we were here, there are so many fancy new flats around and it’s barely recognisable from the space we used back in 2006.” Building the four-piece band, which includes Bombay drummer Suren de Saram (“I could never start a band without Suren - it was one of my conditions”), and heading back to their old haunt presents a good opportunity for Ed to look back on the past decade, and the solo career he’s skirted around for years. Now, he’s finally making it work. “It’s something I’ve always done, I’d just never intended on showing it to anyone. It was only when we knew that the band were going to take quite a bit of time off that I started to take it more seriously,” he explains. “It was good to have motivation to finally get the music out there.”
very much involved. Jack’s [Steadman, vocals] doing some production on my songs, Suren’s playing drums in the live band, and I literally live in the same house as Jamie [MacColl, guitarist], so everyone listens to the work of each other, and all have opinions on it.” With regards to feelings Bombay fans might have about the projects, Ed thinks it “might be good for people, because there’s a far greater output from us at the moment.” The majority of his album has been written. It’s co-produced by Jack, with five of the tracks being mixed by Chris Coady, who’s worked with the likes of TV On The Radio and Beach House, in Los Angeles this month. Despite being in the works for years, the first step towards making Toothless a reality gave Ed a shock, having stepped away from the close support network he’d always been granted as part of a band. “It’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, doing it by myself without the really strong support structure I’ve always been part of. I’m not saying it was worse or better, just quite hard. I need to be challenged.”
“It’s just Bombay Bicycle Club in a different capacity”
Ed describes the band’s current hiatus as less of a conscious decision made at one point, but something the band all knew would come after finishing the tour for 2014’s ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’. “We knew it was going to happen, because we’d been doing it for ten years. We absolutely loved touring and recording and everything about it - but it was coming to the end of our fourth record, our most successful record, and we hadn’t really done anything else in that time. You could feel people itching to try and do other things.” Speaking of all four of the band’s new projects, Ed refers to them as “just Bombay Bicycle Club in a different capacity,” with all members involved in each others’ new ventures to different extents. “The band isn’t making music, or being a band, but in terms of our personal relationships and the work we do together, everyone’s
“With the band, it feels like a machine. I was a part of it, but everyone else pushed it along as well, and when you don’t have that, it’s all down to you. I’m thriving with that pressure and motivation.” After Toothless makes its live debut in May, he plans to finish recording the album with Jack, tentatively suggesting a late2016 release date. For now, though, he’s just overwhelmed with the support he’s garnered in the first few days of Toothless being public. He isn’t putting any pressure on its future.
Here’s what else the band are up to. Jack Steadman Jack’s always been productive, with many a remix of his popping up on Soundcloud. As well as co-producing the Toothless album, he’s working on a solo record. Remaining tight-lipped, Ed says: “I can’t speak too much for Jack obviously, but he’s making an album now that he’s wanted to make for a long time.” Suren de Saram Trying out as a drummerfor-hire, it looks like we’ll be seeing Suren popping up here, there and everywhere in the next few years, beginning with a stint behind the kit for Toothless. Oh, and we’re all still waiting for the solo jazz album he tweeted about making. Jamie MacColl The guitarist seems to be the one member of Bombay Bicycle Club not venturing into music-making in his holidays. Instead, he’s swatting up and going back to university. He also recently made a radio documentary for BBC Radio 1 about modern protest songs. Clever boy.
“Even if it’s a small little part of my whole career, I’m really proud of what I’ve done over the past year. Even though it’s quite scary going out on my own, it’s been unbelievably rewarding.” DIY
Popstar Postbag s ava g e s
We know what you’re like, dear readers. We know you’re just as nosey as we are when it comes to our favourite popstars: that’s why we’re putting the power back into your hands. Every month, we’re going to ask you to pull out your best questions and aim them at those unsuspecting artists. You don’t even need to pay for postage! This month Jehnny and Ayşe from Savages are poised with the Qs. What sort of music do you listen to during the writing process? Claire, via email Jehnny Beth: It’s fair to say that our taste in music is rather eclectic - we are all very much into electronic music, but also hardcore, metal, jazz, even classical! Ayşe Hassan: Whilst writing ‘Adore Life’, my favourite sound was the pattering of rain as I have some great memories associated with that sound.
probably be: my computer, my headphones and my notebook. The notebook is essential to keep on writing lyrics, cause you never know when inspiration strikes… AH: Notebook (for capturing inspiration while on tour), trainers (for those moments that I need to escape the confines of the tour bus) and headphones (for listening to the likes of Jessy Lanza, Holly Herndon or whatever else I need).
Where’s your favourite place in the world to play shows? Jack, via email JB: To be honest, we love playing anywhere. Even places in Central America where we had never been to before have been extraordinary experiences this month. We’ve been very lucky so far to find an audience everywhere we go around the world. The interaction with the crowd is very important to us, so the louder, the wilder, the better!
If you could relive one day from the past few years, what would it be and why? James, Exeter JB: At this point, after being on the road for a few months, it would probably be a quiet day off at home with nothing urgent to do but writing music, reading a book, or sleeping. It might sound boring to you, but to us it sounds like heaven right now!
What are your three essential items to take with you on the road? Sasha, Birmingham JB: My three favourite items would
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick? Kristina, Worthing AH: Grapes - reminds me of visiting family in Cyprus.
Which artist, alive or dead would you most like to collaborate with? Blake, via email JB: Oh god, there are so many! I love Mike Patton so anytime he wants to do something, I’m down! AH: My ultimate dream would be to spend time with Trent Reznor - he’s been an inspiration since I was 15. Do you have any silly fears? Elle, London JB: Yes for sure, we all do, don’t we? I’m afraid of zombies for instance, for real! I had a bad experience while watching a film and smoking weed when I was a teenager, so that imprinted into my brain forever. Never do the zombie walk in front of me, it freaks me out! What do you think is your greatest achievement to date? Harry, Aberdeen JB: To have made music the centre of my life and have people enjoying it. I will cherish that forever. AH: Volunteering with one of my favourite charities, Samaritans. It’s one of the things that has shaped me the most, the power of really listening when a person needs emotional support.
Savages will play Open’er. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
NEXT MONTH: Mystery Jets Want to send a question to DIY’s Popstar Postbag? Tweet us at @diymagazine with the hashtag #postbag, or drop us an email at email@example.com. Easy! 18 diymag.com
RETURN OF THE BEARDY WEIRDIES Everyone’s favourite cabin-dwellers are back.
LCD Soundsystem make live return in style.
CD Soundsystem’s live return was never going to be understated. For all his reservations about coming back, James Murphy isn’t the type to sulk in the shadows. This is a celebration - make no mistake. They were officially back for good at Coachella, and treated the occasion like festival-headlining pros they are. Before diving into ‘All My Friends’, they delivered an emotional rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. Murphy had previously worked with Bowie on a remix of his ‘Love Is Lost’ track, back in 2013, and this was his first ‘statement’ of sorts since the star’s death in January. Talk about a tribute.
he soft-hearted, gentle indie beasts of our times have been reclusive. Bon Iver’s probably still hiding in his cabin, for all we know. And only now have Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear both announced their returns. 2016 looks set to be a big year for the Foxes. Their five-year hiatus is over, according to bassist Christian Wargo. And frontman Robin Pecknold has wasted no time in previewing new music. They’ve all been busy - in fact, we decided to track down what every single member’s been up to for the past half decade. Head to diymag.com for the full guide. Grizzly Bear, meanwhile, have been giving glowing endorsements to Democratic leadership candidate Bernie Sanders. The band also recently confirmed that they’re due to start recording the follow-up to 2012’s ‘Shields’ very soon - next month, in fact!
news in Brief
GETTING TWIGGY WITH IT
It looks like an FKA twigs and Oneohtrix Point Never collaboration is on the cards. twigs and the experimental producer posted the same cryptic Instagram photo at the same time. They’re either working together, or they’re actually the same person and the secret’s out.
WHAT A STATE
Bono - self-proclaimed international head of humanitarian activity - suggests the West can fight the Islamic State with laughter. “It’s like, you speak violence, you speak their language. But you laugh at them, when they’re goose-stepping down the street, and it takes away their power.” tFair enough, but his idea of sending over some giggles to save the day needs work.
TUNING IN James Blake’s ‘Radio Silence’ is over.
ake anything James Blake says with a pinch of salt, but it looks like his new album is finished.
As is tradition, he confirmed to listeners of his BBC Radio 1 Residency that third LP ‘Radio Silence’ is complete. “I said it a couple of months ago that I think it’s time to start recording an album because–you know–there’ve been requests,” he joked. “People have been asking if I’m going to record a record, so I did one. It turned out great–quite long, but I’m really happy with it. It’s 18 tracks long. Yeah, one of the tracks is 20 minutes long, as well.” But don’t get too excited. He loves to troll, does our James. But given the unveiling of new track ‘Timeless’ - an instant-winner if ever there was one - Blakey season is about to start.
St. Vincent has made her first film. And it’s a horror flick. It’ll feature as part of the ‘XX’ anthology, ‘Four Deadly Tales by Four Killer Women’, which is split into four parts. Each is written and directed by a different woman.
Muse have been going on about those sodding drones for ages. But irony is a strange thing. At a recent O2 Arena gig, one of the band’s blown-up drone blimps suffered a technical fault and fell into a section of the crowd. Fortunately nobody was hurt. Be more careful next time, lads.
SHIN THE FUTURE
James Mercer’s The Shins are readying new material. They’ve been shameless teases, in fact, their Instagram page being a non-stop source of fleeting song previews. Mercer himself has been busy, working on Broken Bells album ‘After the Disco’, his second full-length collaboration with Danger Mouse.
HAVE HEARD? you
Tegan and Sara - Boyfriend Cranked-up to the nines synth-bursts, cascading plunks, and a curled-lipped hint of Madonna creeping around in their verse delivery, Tegan and Sara are shooting for the bullseye. Role-flipping is clearly at play in ‘Boyfriend’. This new single dishes up all of it its conspiratorial subversion with cheerful nonchalance, and a killer chorus to boot. Smirking, bubbly, great fun, this might just be one of Tegan and Sara’s best bangers to date. (El Hunt)
The Big Moon - Cupid 2016 is already looking like The Big Moon’s year. Everything that makes the quartet such an exciting prospect is furthered on ‘Cupid’ - it sees them louder, more confident and more infectious than ever. The song’s anchored by an irresistible, immovable chorus, bursting with melody and playfulness, crashing its way through stories of failed romance and awkwardness with none of the inhibitions or second-thinking they cite. (Will Richards)
GIRLI - Girls Get Angry Too Riding the crimson wave and torching her bra in the space of two seconds, top marks go to GIRLI for writing a song that calls out the godawful practice of labelling every female singer out there a “songstress” (please, just stop). And that’s just one of the topics to come under fire in GIRLI’s bizarrely blooping
‘Girls Get Angry Too’. Amid screaming little high-pitched synthworms, jarring with juddering, squelching plods of bass, everything from Katie Hopkins to creepy pervs lurking in bars get burnt by GIRLI’s rain of venom. (El Hunt)
Whitney - Golden Days Whitney’s breakthrough single ‘No Woman’ was as sweet-hearted and strangely uplifting as lonely, downtrodden songs can get. ‘Golden Days’ plays a similar card. On the outside, it’s an upbeat, dreamy ode to fleeting youth, but there’s more swimming around under the surface. “It’s a shame we can’t get it together now,” runs the nonchalant chorus, sung like Julian Ehrlich’s just spilled a teaspoon of milk. (Jamie Milton)
Pumarosa - Cecile Zimbabwe’s Cecil The Lion died on the 1st of July because that bastard
dentist shot him, but Pumarosa’s latest single probably isn’t referencing him, given the missing ‘e’. Instead, this song dives headlong into all-consuming infatuation, and it’s magnetic and massive all at the same time. Though ‘Cecile’ might be more concise than the unapologetically epic ‘Priestess’ (which clocked in at a mighty 7 minutes), this is no less ambitious. (El Hunt)
Mura Masa - What If I Go? Brighton-via-Guernsey producer Mura Masa takes his name from a razor-sharp blade, and in his newest song ‘What If I Go?’ he crafts his hardest cutting banger yet. In the past Alex Crossan’s diverse set of influences has been most apparent through his careful deployment of pentatonics and intricate, gentle melody lines; twinkling, and subtle. Here, he steps things up several notches. (El Hunt)
Released: 11th May 2005 Standout tracks: ‘Feel Good Inc.’ ‘Kids With Guns’ ‘November Has Come’ Something to tell your mates: ‘DARE’ was originally called ‘It’s There’ instead, but Shaun Ryder’s heavy Manchester accent dictated otherwise. According to Chris Evans, anyway.
DIY HALL FAME of
GORILLAZ - DEMON DAYS
A band of fictional cartoon characters created one of the most influential records of the mid-noughties. No, really. Words: Tom Walters
ou are now entering The Harmonic Realm,” murmurs an otherworldly voice in the first few seconds of ‘Demon Days’, the seminal 2005 album from Damon Albarn’s cartoon band. It’s a dark, burgeoning intro of brilliant nonsense - full of sirens and an aura of comic villainry, and it’s a bonkers collision; suitably apt for a band made up of “fictional virtual reality members.” Seriously - has anyone taken a step back to think about the fact that these characters have names like 2D and bloody Noodle? Let alone the fact they have backstories almost as diverse and dystopian as the album itself (Noodle’s story of disappearing on a yellow dinghy and being replaced by a cyborg for four years is just one ace example). What follows for the next fifty minutes is the sound of a band tearing up the rulebook of what it means to be, well, a band. Gorillaz could have ended up nothing but a one-off gimmick, forever tied to clubs playing ‘19-2000’ on repeat. ‘Demon Days’ took that expectation and flipped the bird at it, producing something far lusher and more fully-formed than its predecessor. Almost everything to do with this record was unheard of before, and while it definitely misses the bullseye slightly in places (here’s looking at you, ‘Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head’), it can’t be argued that ‘Demon Days’ is
undeniably one of the most fascinating records of the mid-00s. The lead up was unprecedented, and completely mad. Pseudoalbum titles pushed out through mailing lists (‘Reject False Icons’, anyone?), interactive websites, stunning animated films and even an online talent contest. When you consider all of this was taking place while dial-up internet was still ‘a thing’, it puts it into perspective just how ahead of the time project leader Damon Albarn, his collaborator Jamie Hewlett and their chosen producer Danger Mouse were. It’s reflective of the music
too - like the group’s self-titled debut before it, ‘Demon Days’ manages to be absolutely all over the shop while sounding resolutely coherent. Which brings us on to those collaborators. Who couldn’t get excited at the prospect of De La Soul, Roots Manuva, MF DOOM and The Pharcyde being on the same bill? Even flippin’ Shaun Ryder and Ike Turner make appearances along the way - just the kind of curveballs you’d expect from Albarn’s team of visually rendered lunatics. ‘Demon Days’ somehow breathes naturally without buckling under the weight of its next level collaborators. DIY
The Magic Gang + INHEAVEN + Gillbanks
Roundhouse Rising, The Roundhouse, London.
pstairs tonight at the Roundhouse, families are swooning to James Morrison’s harmless singer-songwriter schtick. Down here, the next generation of music fans are losing their minds. It’s a ritual that isn’t just reserved for The Magic Gang. A couple of hours prior, GILLBANKS are converting new fans by the second, and INHEAVEN are suitably treated like royalty by the time their sky-reaching shoegaze thrashes into view. As for tonight’s headliners, there isn’t a single unsigned band in the country stirring up this kind of fuss. New songs debuted for the first time are instantly embraced, while bratty party anthem ‘No Fun’ is swiftly becoming their calling card. No doubt about it, a takeover is inevitable at this point. (Jamie Milton)
Photo: Sam WooD
Photo: Poppy Marriott
Photos: emma swann
Mapped Out Tour, Norwich Arts Centre.
TRAAMS Hare & Hounds, Birmingham.
RAAMS’ unique breakneck-paced brand of punk is entirely ferocious in nature, and if anything proves even more formidable live. Building their set around last year’s ‘Modern Dancing’ album release, the trio’s performance is seamless. Straight-up angst has never sounded so sweet, as they prove themselves masters among mayhem, bringing fury into a frolicking new lease of life. (Jessica Goodman)
s the lights dim, not a split second passes before the echoic hall of Norwich Arts Centre is pounded by the gnarly riffs and beefy bass of Tigercub. The band’s newer material sounds more scatty and upbeat versus better-known numbers, but few deliver such a refined barrage of anarchy as these, who, with a debut record in the making, are no doubt set for bigger things. (Alex Cabré)
p “Bedroom po with blessed newcomer elodies” swooning m NME
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Includes the singles SOMETIMES, GOOD THINGS and BREAKING MY PHONE LIMITED EDITION NEON PINK VINYL, CD and DOWNLOAD
Coming 13th May
WHEN YOU WALK A LONG DISTANCE YOU ARE TIRED OUT NOW ON CD, LP AND DOWNLOAD “A remarkable first outing” 4/5 - Q “An unconventional and inventive debut” 4/5 - The Guardian 9/10 - Loud & Quiet
THE ORANGE GLOW 10TH JUNE ON CD, LP AND DOWNLOAD Globelamp draws inspiration from the supernatural, fairy tales, folk music and punk to create her own psychedelic world on The Orange Glow. Her sound and compelling vocals have already earned her comparisons to the likes of Stevie Nicks, Grace Slick, Joanna Newsom and Donovan.
afternoons, depending ni-ights (and days, and Uh- oh, those summer festival season). this sic ng your live mu on where you’re watchi
S L A IV T FES S
unnies and stripy deckchairs at the ready, it’s time to head down to Brighton once again for three days jam-packed with more new music than you can shake a stick of rock at. Between 19th and 21st May, the south coast city will be home to literally hundreds of artists across tens of venues - from the massive shows (this year featuring Stormzy, Oh Wonder and Songhoy Blues) to the brand-spanking-new Muna, Lewis Del Mar and Trudy & the Romance via faves like Dilly Dally, Spring King and Pumarosa there’s lots of ‘fun’ to be had. If that wasn’t all - and it isn’t - we’ve gone and got ourselves a pretty damn good stage there, if we say so ourselves. Eagulls, Black Honey, Milk Teeth, GIRLI and Day Wave are among the acts appearing at Horatio’s (the end of the pier) throughout DIY the festival’s the great three nights, escape plus we’ve THURSDAY got one of the first UK CULLEN OMORI BLEACHED appearances BEACH BABY from the DECLAN MCKENNA brainTRUDY meltingly brilliant FRIDAY Partybaby.
EAGULLS BLACK HONEY DRONES CLUB GIRLI LCMDF SATURDAY EAGULLS BLACK HONEY DRONES CLUB GIRLI LCMDF
SATURDAY, CORN EXCHANGE MYSTERY JETS THE BIG MOON VITAMIN
AND! As if all that wasn’t enough, we’re teaming up to host the Corn Exchange on Saturday night, with Mystery Jets, The Big Moon and Vitamin open to all 16+ ticket holders, too.
THE GREAT ESCAPE A Few Seconds With… MYSTERY JETS’ BLAINE HARRISON How excited are you to be returning to the Great Escape? It’s the start of what’s going to be a packed summer for us and it feels great to return to one of our favourite British festivals. It’s like the UK’s answer to South by Southwest but with fish and chips instead of pulled pork tacos.
What can TGE-goers expect from your set? We’re going to be bringing people deep into the world of ‘Curve’ but there will be moments from our previous records too. Festivals are all about uniting the audience and making everyone feel like they’re part of one ultimate tribe. That’s what we were put here to do.
What’s the best thing about playing there? We’ve always had insane shows in Brighton, there must be something about that sea air that tips MJ fans over the edge. Our gigs there have always been sweaty affairs so there’s always the sea if you need to cool off…
Do you hope to catch any other artists’ sets while you’re down in Brighton? This year the festival coincides with both mine and Jack’s birthday so we’ll be digging in for the whole weekend. We’ll be watching Declan McKenna who we recently took on tour, and I really like what I’ve heard of Spring King too, those boys can play.
Dot to Dot
27th - 29th May Augustines join Mystery Jets as co-headliners, while new acts lower down include Diet Cig, Dua Lipa, Formation, Day Wave, Babeheaven, EERA, Dreller and Nimmo.
30th June - 3rd July The Kills, Savages, The Hives, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra have joined the French event, which had already announced a heap of acts including Muse, Jamie xx, Disclosure, Yak, Slaves, M83 and Jagwar Ma.
4th June The Cribs have been revealed as headliners, joining Creeper, Young Guns, Johnny Foreigner and Carl Barât and the Jackals at the North London all-dayer.
Splendour in the Grass
22nd - 24th July The Strokes, James Blake, Flume, Years & Years, Jagwar Ma, The Cure, The Internet, Låpsley and this month’s cover stars The Kills are among the first wave of acts confirmed for the Australian event - which is actually smack-bang in the middle of winter down under. Brrr.
Isle of Wight
9th - 12th June The Who join Stereophonics, Faithless and Queen + Adam Lambert as headliners, with previously-confirmed artists including The Kills, The Cribs, Busted, Everything Everything, Twin Atlantic and Iggy Pop.
10th - 12th June Just as at Donington the same weekend, Iron Maiden and Rammstein are to headline Download’s first trip across the Channel, where they’ll be joined by Biffy Clyro, Twin Atlantic, Deftones and Arcane Roots among others.
7th - 9th July Creeper, The Magic Gang, Demob Happy, Milk Teeth and Yuck join the line up for the Gloucestershire event, which already boasts Refused and Twin Atlantic as headliners, plus acts including Moose Blood, Muncie Girls and The Bronx.
Bilbao BBK Live
7th - 9th July Blood Red Shoes as well as both Soulwax and 2manyDJs are now set to play the Basque festival, joining Grimes, Arcade Fire, INHEAVEN, Tame Impala, Wolf Alice and loads more.
15th - 17th July Peaches, Zomby, SOPHIE, SG Lewis, Shed and Laurel Halo join the previouslyannounced Jamie xx, Two Door Cinema Club, Chvrches, and Tame Impala at the German weekender.
10th - 17th June Marika Hackman, Richard Hawley, NZCA Lines, Tiggs Da Author and Jesca Hoop join the Guy Garvey-curated series of events, joining the already-announced Laura Marling, Robert Plant and The Staves.
25th June - 2nd July Biffy Clyro, James Blake, Grimes, Hinds, Blood Orange and Dream Wife are among a 105-strong list of artists added to the bill, joining LCD Soundsystem, New Order, Tame Impala, PJ Harvey and others.
15th - 17th July Swim Deep, Black Honey, Mystery Jets, Estrons, Spring King, Traams, SOAK, Pumarosa, Jurassic 5 and Hudson Scott are among the acts joining Manic Street Preachers, Circa Waves, Rat Boy and others at the Oxfordshire event.
28th - 31st July The line up for Chicago’s finest has (finally) been revealed, with the longrumoured Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem topping a pile that also features Lana Del Rey, Haim, Wolf Alice, Years & Years, FIDLAR, Wavves, Låpsley, Bastille and MØ.
29th - 31st July The Hertfordshire weekend has revealed its electronic line up, with Gold Panda, Theo Parrish, Luke Abbott and Goldie all set to play, while label Hospitality Records celebrates its 20th Anniversary. They join acts including Suede, Everything Everything, The Hives and Swim Deep.
DUTCH IMPAC T
This year’s collection of acts heading over from the Netherlands includes hotlytipped newcomer Amber Arcades, plus Causes, Klyne, PAUW, Pink Oculus, and Tim Vantnol. For more deets, head to dutch-impact.nl.
“I’m very excited to play the Great Escape Festival! I feel like there’s more and more awesome Dutch bands out there these days, I hope we can show that to the rest of the European music scene.” Amber Arcades
29th - 31st July Creeper, Milk Teeth, Nai Harvest, Eagulls and Traams join the Derbyshire event this July that’s already set to feature acts including Editors, The Hives, The Cribs, Kelis, Everything Everything, Rat Boy, and Sundara Karma. 25
FESTIVALS Way Out West
11th - 13th August Haim, The Kills, Yung Lean, Dua Lipa and The Tallest Man On Earth have been added to the bill for the Swedish event, which already boasts Skepta, Stormzy, Sia, Chvrches, Daughter and The Last Shadow Puppets.
18th - 21st August Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Slow Club, Suuns and Tindersticks are among new additions, joining Belle & Sebastian, James Blake, Warpaint, Wild Beasts and an asyet-unannounced final headliner at the Welsh weekend.
19th - 21st August A further twenty-five artists have been added to the line up, including The Kills, Warpaint, Pumarosa, Nao, The Neighbourhood, The Internet, BØRNS and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. They join headliners Muse, Sigur Rós, Disclosure, The Last Shadow Puppets
and Biffy Clyro, among others.
Rock en Seine
26th - 28th August It’s Paris in the summertime for Chvrches, Foals, Bring Me The Horizon, Iggy Pop, Two Door Cinema Club, The Last Shadow Puppets, Sigur Rós and Eagles of Death Metal, all in the event’s first announcement of the year.
8th - 11th September The Isle of Wight bash has unveiled its ‘Invaders of the Future’ stage (that’s ‘new bands’ to you and I), which will feature Spring King, VANT, GIRLI, Creeper, Black Honey, The Japanese House, Milk Teeth, Hinds, The Wytches, PUP, and Sunflower Bean (plus others).
10th - 11th September Connan Mockasin, Thundercat and Laura Groves are among those joining Primal Scream, SOAK, Belle & Sebastian and Hot Chip at the South London weekend.
THE GREAT BRITISH ( AND IRISH*) L AKE- OFF
hile the latest additions to this year’s Latitude on the main stages include Slaves, Pumarosa, Teleman and Minor Victories joining the already-confirmed headliners The Maccabees, The National, and New Order, plus Chvrches, Grimes, Courtney Barnett and MØ also among those appearing this July, the full Lake Stage bill has been revealed, with Class of 2016 alumni The Big Moon and Oscar just two of the new and nearly-new acts playing. Babeheaven, Declan McKenna and Estrons are also on a bill which features the likes of Liss, Jones, Pixx, Cameron AG and Isaac Gracie. The full list of new additions is: Slaves, Bear’s Den, Honne, Minor Victories, Teleman, Bill RyderJones, Let’s Eat Grandma, Emma Pollock, Pumarosa, Flamingods, Babeheaven, Billie Marten, Blaenavon, Bleeding Heart Pigeons, Cameron AG, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Declan McKenna, Estrons, Fickle Friends, Isaac Gracie, Jones, Kiran Leonard, Liss, Love Nor Money, Louis Berry, Loyle Carner, Martha Ffion, Meilyr Jones, Muckaniks, Oktoba, Oscar, Pixx, Samaris, The Big Moon, and The Rhythm Method. DIY is ‘media partner’ at the festival, so keep your browsers at diymag.com/latitude for all the latest. *OK, Liss are from Denmark, and Samaris Iceland, but that’s not gonna stop us punning.
GL AS TONBURY A- GO - GO YEAAAAH! After those oh-so-cryptic turns from Coldplay and Muse, plus Adele’s on-stage shenanigans revealing she’d also be topping the bill at Worthy Farm this June, we finally know who else is hot-footing it to Somerset, wellies in tow.
And it’s smash-bang full of our faves. Wolf Alice, Grimes, Bastille, Savages, Foals, Years & Years, and Chvrches are all there, plus there’s both heavy rock (Bring Me The Horizon) and grime (Stormzy, Skepta), returning kings (and queen) LCD Soundsystem, Beck, James Blake, Two Door Cinema Club, The 1975, Kurt Vile and Mac DeMarco. Even reading back that list we’re in need of a lie-down in a damp tent.
...BUT WHAT’S THAT?
After Emily Eavis revealed the poster was designed by the band’s frequent collaborator Stanley Donwood, one plucky Radiohead fan decided to decode it. It didn’t end there.
When crazy things happen to ESTRONS, they write a song about it. Few hits are about ending up in a police cell, mind you. Words: Jamie Milton. Photo: Emma Swann.
“I was like, ‘I wanna be Rick Ross! I wanna sit on a man’s face like he’s an object!’” - Tali Källström
STRONS don’t write music about pleasant strolls in the park. That much is obvious from their relentless, in-yourface, punk-infused charge. Still, it’s unlikely many new bands have as many stories as this Cardiff lot.
Tali Källström fronts the group alongside fellow founding member and guitarist Rhodri Daniel. Together, they’ve had their fair share of hairy experiences. Latest track ‘Drop’ - a jolt to the system if ever there was one - was penned when Tali ended up in a police cell. “I did!” she insists. “I got arrested. And I was bored. So I just started reciting these lyrics. No wonder I ended up getting charged, they must have thought I was mental. I was fine in the end,” she adds. When nightmare strikes, out steps a song. “There’ve been times when my life’s going alright and the songs are rubbish!” Tali claims. Rhodri doesn’t get inspiration from the traditional ideas pot, either. Breakthrough single ‘Make a Man’ came about when he was standing between two rooms in a Berlin nightclub, different music blasting from both sides. “Have you ever been in the shower when you can’t quite hear a song, but you make up the song in your head? That’s how I compose,” he says, citing phone voice memos as his lifesaver. “I was in the middle of having tea with my grandmother. I told her I had to go outside, in the garden to record. Embarrassing. I hope Apple doesn’t own the copyright to these memos,” he ponders. “It’s great when you’re flicking through music in a car and then a voice memo starts playing,” Tali quips, sarcastically. “Pretty embarrassing. But I’ve recorded on the bus before. And you have to! If you lose it, it’s gone.” Based on the songs out already, ESTRONS tend to flick a switch and go for the jugular, whenever new inspiration arrives. Turns out that’s not quite the case. Voice memos kick off the process, but Tali writes when she’s “half-drunk” and after “playing music for five, six hours”. ‘Make a Man’ has the objective of “turning the objectification of women on its head,” Tali states. A video from last year finds her sitting on top of two blokes - faces obscured by lampshades, of all things - and biting their biceps. “I was like, ‘I wanna be Rick Ross! I wanna sit on a man’s face like he’s an object’. It’s not fair. I wanna have fun. And that’s the whole point.” Some bands arrive with decent songs but not a great deal of substance beyond that. ESTRONS? Well, they could tell bizarre anecdotes for years, and every single lyric pierces through a fog of ambiguity. There’s meaning behind every move. “A guy at our American shows said ‘I feel like I’m being punched in the face by music!’” remembers Tali. That guy was spot on. ESTRONS are the most exciting band to emerge in yonks. So long as they don’t get stuck in police cells, their future is golden. DIY ESTRONS will play Live at Leeds and Latitude. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
This ridiculously talented 18-year-old Walsall newcomer is seeing her name in (blue) lights. Words: Jamie Milton.
hen Jorja Smith turned sixteen, she considered a life away from music and in the force. Sixth form beckoned, and she’d either stick to what she did best, or choose a career on the opposite end of the spectrum. “I thought I’d become a police officer,” she remembers, two years on. Left “thinking music was too difficult”, she kept writing until doors began to open. Police crop up in ‘Blue Lights’, a Dizzee Rascal-nodding single that’s sent Jorja’s name stratospheric. One draw is in how she reinterprets Dizzee’s anthemic ‘Sirens’, but her delivery is another thing altogether. Notes float over hard-hitting subjects, twisting and turning when there doesn’t look to be a route beyond the norm. She possesses a stop-you-in-yourtracks vocal, the kind legendary stars deliver on a whim. No pressure, then. “‘Blue Lights’ didn’t have to be based around the police,” she states. “[It’s about how] you shouldn’t have a guilty conscience if you’ve got nothing to be guilty for. That’s what I picked up, growing up. A lot of my friends are black boys. And every time they saw police, they’d be on edge. I was thinking, ‘Just act normal. You’ve done nothing wrong.’ I expanded that and made it into a big story.” The Walsall newcomer - now based in London - always knew
she wanted to pen stories. Studying music at A Level, she practiced singing in French, Italian and Latin, learning how “the notes move” in different languages. “The songs would be written in an English version. But it’s better to have a good understanding, because you won’t be able to sing well, if you don’t know what you’re singing. That’s why I write all my own stuff. I find it difficult to sing something someone else has written and I don’t have an idea what they’re on about!” Her debut single’s Dizzee shout out was one thing. For the follow-up, she travelled back to the 17th Century, re-jigging a Henry Purcell composition, ‘A Prince of Glorious Race Descended’. On both of her standout moments, she doesn’t strictly borrow from the past - instead, she gives previous hallmarks her own edge. Again, it boils down to that voice. Two tracks aren’t a lot to work with, but like the very best singers, she seems to capture several emotions at once. She’ll draw a natural sadness out of one line, before flicking a switch and turning a subject on its head. It’s something you can’t teach. Stormzy’s already a big fan, and Dizzee Rascal himself reached out to Jorja on Instagram, declaring his love for ‘Blue Lights’. In fact, it’s hard to think of a more recent outpouring of love from all sides for a new act. Rarely is it this well deserved. DIY
RY X DAWN
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“Did I lock the door?”
X e n ia Rub i no s
An ANTI-signed, unrivalled talent. Once Xenia Rubinos begins to sing, nothing else matters. Not to shun the importance of her music’s dagger-sharp percussion or jazz-nodding, open ended strut, but this is all about the Brooklyn newcomer’s stronghold, which captures a dozen emotions at once. Debut album ‘Black Terry Cat’ lands 3rd June via ANTI-. Listen: ‘Lonely Lover’ is the perfect preview of her debut. Similar to: Lianne La Havas with endless anecdotes.
O ur Mot h e r
Expert crafters of finely-tuned pop. As the old fable goes, Our Mother first met at a Halloween party. And there’s something spooky about how easily these four construct delicate, house of cards-like pop. Debut EP ‘A.O.B’ contains lulling falsetto by way of Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe, and stop-start electronic drums that’d send Thom Yorke into a tizz. Listen: ‘A.O.B’ is out now on Lucky Number. Similar to: Wild Beasts having an (admittedly tame) wrestle with Adult Jazz.
A London trio mixing wit and tragedy like the two go hand-in-hand. North London trio Girl Ray wear influences on their sleeve. They claim to be inspired by Pavement and Cate Le Bon in equal measure, so into the melting pot those go. Witty observations and an added playfulness are thrown in, too. And this leaves us with one of the most promising capitalbased groups in yonks. Listen: ‘I’ll Make This Fun’ doesn’t lie. Similar to: The ‘Submarine’ soundtrack played at a party.
Recommended Isa ac Gracie
The Sound of 2017? Place your bets now. From the off, 21-year-old Ealing lad Isaac Gracie has been billed as a one-of-a-kind talent, a label which ought to be earned over half a decade, or a handful of albums. His skill is undeniable, though. He ticks the earnest singer-songwriter box with ease, but dusky, crackling production gives songs a timeless edge you can’t teach. Alongside buzzy New Yorkers Lewis Del Mar, he’s the act to catch at this year’s The Great Escape (19th-21st May). Listen: Debut track ‘Lost Words’ is a gorgeous love song found down the back of a sofa. Similar to: George Ezra having never listened to anything other than Jeff Buckley.
Julia Jacklin - so buzzy she can walk on water
Neu’s round-up of the best and buzziest new music happenings. Aussies Rule
SOUTH BY SOUTH BEST
he dust has settled on another whirlwind SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. DIY hosted a Hype Hotel stage with Partybaby, Diet Cig and Hinds. Thousands witnessed grime’s ascent stampede through the States. And a million new discoveries blew minds across the city.
On hand to witness the madness - our faves at Transgressive Records. A&R Mike Harounoff, who also runs the paradYse imprint (Spring King, Blaenavon, Toothless), has handpicked his favourite finds from the fest. Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin was undeniably the most exciting act we saw in Austin. Backed by an immaculate band, and with one of the strongest voices in the game right now, her songs consider life in one of the most human yet otherworldly ways we’ve come across in recent memory. They also work in every setting - from house party to church, weird hotel restaurant to outdoor party. Each performance we saw was a total showstopper.”
Neu’s lead act from last month, Pumarosa, have announced a debut headline show for 7th May at London ICA. It follows the release of ‘Cecile’, a gigantic new single to follow the equally epic ‘Priestess’ from last year. You can hear both on diymag.com. LISS-TEN HERE, KIDS Too-stylish-for-their-owngood Danish newcomers Liss are releasing debut EP ‘First’ via XL on 13th May. The following week, they play Brighton’s The Great Escape (19th-21st May). And if you think their move-strutting, innovative pop is enough of a draw, wait until you see them live. GREAT SCOTT! The Foals-approved Hudson Scott is fast becoming a goto source of instant-fix pop. His ‘Clay’ EP follows a sold out debut headline show in London - listen on diymag.com.
“19-year-old wunderkind Jimi Tents is currently NYC’s hottest hip-hop property and his performance at our opening night house party made it perfectly clear why. In fact, our admiration for Tents begins about ten minutes before his set starts - not content with the three-quarters full room, he went outside and rounded up fans with promises we believe he most certainly kept. With the venue full, he launched into one of the most energetic, fearless shows of the week - a true ‘believe the hype’ moment, with single ‘Landslide’ essential listening.” “New Yorker Odetta Hartman is a truly original artist. The singer and multi-instrumentalist - banjo, violin, some kind of show tambourine and whatever else she can get her hands on - performed a captivating set from her label Northern Spy’s showcase. She’s able to consistently deliver the unexpected and make it compelling every time - and while the influences of country, folk and R&B are placed effortlessly on her sleeve, there’s something else at play that’s rightfully unexplainable, and genuinely magical. 33
“Round two!” enthuses Jackson Phillips ahead of his imminent return to the UK. The Oakland, CA-based brains behind Day Wave is itching to bring his bittersweet, sun-soaked indie pop across the pond once again. Just in time for summer as well – not that he sees it like that. “It’s interesting,” he says, “because so many people [say] ‘This song is getting us ready for summer’ or ‘It’s making us miss summer’, but I don’t think about that at all.” As he quite rightly recognises, though, “there’s a laid back vibe to it.”
But just where does that vibe stem from? As Jackson admits, nothing he was listening to growing up was “too similar” to what he’s creating now. “I was really into Brian Eno,” he reminisces, “and I loved more modern stuff too, like Interpol and The Strokes and The Shins. And I loved Pink Floyd – I was obsessed.” It seems fair to suppose that his surroundings have been most influential. His irresistibly mellow sound is, after all, inherently Californian, even if he’s not necessarily conscious of that. “For me,” he laughs, “more than a California thing, that just seems like something I tend to lean towards. In all the music that I’ve made, it always tends to be a little laid back.” Correction: very laid back. In some ways, Jackson just might be more Californian than most, having experienced life in both the north and south of the Golden State. He’s keen to point out one key disparity that exists between the two. “When I had the idea for Day Wave, I was living in LA, and I didn’t like [how] it was just very easy to become influenced by other bands out there,” he explains, “and I wanted to be in a place where I wasn’t influenced by other people so I was like, ‘I’m going to move back up to the Bay Area [near San Francisco]’ because there’s not really much of an entertainment industry, scene or anything there – I can keep to myself and I can make the stuff I want to.” Hanging around the beach, it’s a hard life
THIS IS A LOWE Day Wave’s breezy pop is winning over new fans every day, but Jackson Phillips isn’t champion of everything.
“I played Zane Lowe at table tennis at SXSW. He won. It was cool, it was close – he only beat me by two.” Unlucky mate. There’s always next time.
“It worked out really well,” he says, “‘cause I was able to just focus better and I think when there’s a bigger music scene, it can make you a little more anxious about it.” If there’s any anxiety to be found where Jackson is concerned now, it’s only going to be contained within his quite often melancholic lyrics which, crucially, are never fictional. “Before, I was writing more impersonal stuff,” he recounts. “[But] I didn’t really connect with it; it didn’t really hit the spot.” “It’s still crazy to me that people are listening to the music in all these different places,” he admits. Indeed, word has spread fast and wide since he started the project in late 2014 – his first ever headline show was all the way out in New York because that’s where “most of the engagement was happening”. It’s just indicative of the strength of the spell he’s casting, though, and heaven knows we could all do with a bit of Day Wave magic in our lives. DIY
California soaks through Jackson Phillips’ music like a big wave. But you wouldn’t guess it, judging by his background. Words: Tom Hancock.
Day Wave will play The Great Escape. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details. 34 diymag.com
This is the beginning of a new Lyf for Ellery James Roberts. But there’s a lot to do before his fancysounding “conceptual lifestyle brand” takes over. Words: Rachel Michaella Finn.
You might not have heard of LUH’s Ellery James Roberts by name, but chances are you’ll remember his voice.
His distinctive raw cut-throat vocals used to be part of WU LYF, the Manchester press-shy indie band who, despite media buzz and offers from major labels, repeatedly declined to be interviewed and self-released their only album, ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’, in 2011. They disbanded shortly after. Fast forward a few years and new project LUH (an acronym for ‘Lost Under Heaven’), with Dutch audio-visual artist Ebony Hoorn, takes all the ambition of his previous band, but after a few years of soul-searching returns with new-found artistic confidence. Their sound is more cinematic, more diverse; it takes more risks. And Ellery is optimistic about the new lease of life it’s given him. “For a long time after WU LYF, I didn’t really wanna make music,” he admits. “But after stomping my feet for a while I realised it was a real blessing to be able to do this… I started taking myself more seriously as an artist or as somebody creating something rather than just letting life happen to me”. LUH combines elements of film, creative writing and photography alongside their sound. Meeting the morning after a triumphant show at London’s Electrowerkz – the first time the duo have played in the capital and only their fourth
live gig overall – Roberts describes LUH as more like a “conceptual lifestyle brand” than a band. Oo-er. Of their multimedia approach, Ebony, who lends her skills as an instrumentalist and artist to the project but also contributes her smoky solo vocals on ‘Future Blues’, explains: “I think it’s so important that there are works where people can actually step into a world that is just different from reality... People can get lost in it”. Debut LP ‘Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing’ was recorded over two weeks in a cottage on Osea Island – a rural location in the middle of a river in Essex. But despite the isolation and calm, it’s an album with arena-baiting ambiton. WU LYF’s indie hallmarks hang around
on songs such as ‘Unites’, but elsewhere LUH jump from anthemic goth pop (‘Beneath The Concrete’) to pounding indie electronics (‘$ORO’). Up next, they’re touring across Europe and in the future hope to bring their eclectic sound to more cities, bigger stages and add more musicians to their live setup. “You’ll be sick of us,” Ellery warns. His previous work might have been about maintaining an elusive persona but this time, Ellery James Roberts is putting his cards on the table. LUH’s debut album ‘Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing’ is out 6th May via Mute. DIY
here’s almost no other band out there with the same razor-sharp instinct of The Kills. You can play pinball-speed dot to dot with their inescapable influence. Stints in The Dead Weather with Jack White are one thing - they’ve also whizzed through brief, bizarre appearances in Hello! thanks to a certain supermodel marriage. By word association alone, The Kills are everywhere. The next few months see them visiting more or less everywhere on tour, too, and in just a few more days, they dart off Stateside to test-drive their new album on stage for the first time. Sufficiently nicotined, and sipping on strong black coffee (these things are necessary pre-noon, according to The Kills) the band have just been asked about the starting point for their fifth record, the too-close-forcomfort track ‘Siberian Nights’. Apparently, they’re not in the mood to play ball. “It’s about Vladimir Putin,” deadpans Jamie Hince, exchanging a sideways smirk with a visibly amused Alison Mosshart. “With a homoerotic vibe. I wanted to imagine him as a tyrant that’s got a bit of time off. He’s with this man, and he just wants the warmth of a masculine body. They’re cuddling and he says ‘Look, we can get back to being tyrants tomorrow. I’ve got needs, but no-one understands. I love all these people – I even love Pussy Riot – but why don’t they love me?’” he grins. Alison tries, and quickly fails, to stifle a laugh. “It’s a sweet, sensitive, homoerotic fantasy,” Jamie adds, embellishing further still. “Not my fantasy! [Putin’s] fantasy. I don’t know who his mate is that he wants to cuddle,” he concedes. “Probably Tony Blair.” It’s a typical interaction between the two. Jamie will happily muse endlessly on any subject, meandering vaguely between topics. Alison, meanwhile, interjects with the odd wry comment, delivering concise summaries with killer comic timing. It’s an innate chemistry that has formed the basis for The Kills since they first paired up around the turn of the Millennium, and sixteen years on, that duality is slap-bang at the sizzling centre of their fifth record, ‘Ash & Ice’. Blazing fire meeting frosty water, black fizzing against steely white. They’re the very definition of chalk and cheese, these two, and yet together, they’re one magnet-bound whole. “It’s kind of gross actually!” laughs Jamie, recalling the inspiration for their new album’s title. “I chucked my cigarette in a glass of ice. It’s also quite life enhancing, isn’t it?” he asks rhetorically, miming holding the two objects with gusto. “A spliff and a drink!” ‘Ash & Ice’ is a bit like The Kills in spirit, then. Like so many magical artistic duos they’re vocally fascinated by – the stained-glass loving, suited-and-booted eccentrics Gilbert and George, the shock-tactic sibling art duo Jake and Dinos Chapman, the list goes on and on – it’s a project that depends entirely on the dynamic of two opposing people, pushing for the precise same thing. “Yes,” snorts Jamie. “We’re sort of like muddy water.” “It’s a relationship. It’s a type of relationship,” agrees Alison. “You usually gravitate towards people who have things that you don’t; that are the things that you’re not. You find the whole spectrum, that way, this feeling of completeness. With art, that’s a big thing,” she nods. “It’s really big to have that.”
Like all brilliant creative accidents, The Kills first met by fluke. Alison was over on the other side of the Atlantic on one of her usual spontaneous whims, crashing with a mate, when she heard Jamie mucking around on his guitar through the ceiling. She set out on a mission to find the owner of the strange sonic squalls, and soon afterwards, on another of her drop-of-thehat impulses, she packed up the contents of her “shithole” flat in the States to form a then-nameless band with Jamie in London. Following their first ever gig together at London’s 12 Bar, Alison got the show’s date (14th February 2002) etched in tattoo ink on her left hand – a fairly fearless statement of commitment if ever there was one. The Kills instantly knew that what they had together was one in a billion. “We both signed this imaginary pact of commitment, with faith that we would do the same thing,” remembers Jamie. “We would join forces for this creative thing, with double the punch.”
ON THE ROAD While most bands struggle to master the basics of sleeping on tour, the road is The Kills’ lifeblood. Alison and Jamie talk us through their love of roughing it across vast expanses of land in a sweaty bus. Alison: I love it. For me, it’s my biggest state of normal. That’s where I understand where I’m ‘sposed to be every day, and what I’ve got to do every day. It’s actually totally sane to me. Sleep a certain amount of time. Fantastic. Wake up, find coffee. Awesome. Sound-check at a certain time. Cool. Eat at a certain time. It’s actually way more sort of...real life. Jamie: I always take a steamer with me. Very important. Even if you feel creased, your clothes aren’t. Quite often I’ll go out, and people will be like, ‘wow, you look really smart, you’re wearing a suit.’ It’ll be because I haven’t been to bed!
“No-one sends you a memo,” scoffs Alison, reflecting on the exact moment she decided to uproot her entire life, and give everything to The Kills. “You can just feel it,” she expands. “I always trust myself in that respect, to the point where people might think I’m insane! I’m just like – ‘nope, this is what we’re doing, this is what is right. You’re going to believe me eventually! Just hang on’.” She beams at Jamie. “I read Led Zeppelin talking about it in an old interview,” he continues. “They said that when they played together, they just looked at each other and they just knew that it was one in a fucking billion chance. The chemistry was just like that. After reading that, I applied it to my thing, with her [Alison] and I thought, ooh,” he laughs, “it’s the same.” Accidents frequently strike The Kills, it turns out. Prior to their second album way back in 2005 it was a broken, unusable Moog synthesiser that took them to the resulting cyclical fuzz of ‘No Wow’. With their last record ‘Blood Pressures,’ a shattered elbow on Jamie’s part led the way to a more taut, synthetic aesthetic. This time around, an apparently calamitous Jamie came a cropper yet again, and broke his
PUTIN ’S WITH
THIS , AND H E J UST WA N TS TH E
WA R M TH OF A M ASC U LIN E BODY.” - JA MIE HINC E 40 diymag.com
finger in a fairly major way. He had to relearn an entirely new method of playing, as you do. “It’s true,” Jamie observes. “Please,” he groans theatrically, “this can’t be the theme!” “I think that generally helps when you’re creating something,” Jamie goes on. “Stopping in your tracks and thinking ‘how am I going to do this?’. I think you can hear that in art and music, when it’s a triumph over adversity. Triumph over ability – ideas over ability – makes for great sounding records,” he nods. Both Alison and Jamie subscribe to the idea that, while things can be helpfully nudged in the right direction, it’s impossible to force innovation. While Alison was occupied elsewhere working on the latest Dead Weather album with Jack White, Jamie booked himself a train ticket to the other side of the world. Boarding the Trans-Siberian Express, bound for the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, his goal was a simple one. He “wanted more out of lyrics.” 6,000 lonely miles in a titchy cabin, overlooking vast expanses of isolated rural Russia is pretty ripe stomping ground for anxious, buttoned-up songwriting – you’d think, anyway. Instead, he returned from his impromptu field trip with a scribble-filled notebook of early ideas that were anything but icy and paranoid. Alison, meanwhile, rocked up at recordings with hundreds of vague blueprints - “ [she] creates in explosions,” remarks Jamie. “You’ve got to drink an ocean to piss out a cupful,” he adds, paraphrasing the French realism champ Gustave Flaubert. “I think you have to be open to receive them,” Alison picks up, referring to the creative mishaps that continually shape The Kills. “You have to be aware of when ideas strike. Sometimes it’s hard to describe. Maybe it’s an accident...” she ponders. “Or maybe it’s being in the right frame of mind.” Born from isolation, ‘Ash & Ice’ quickly became an album about yearning for connection instead, whatever the cost. Trying to skewer the branches of a ‘Bitter Fruit’ but salivating after it all the same, trying to break a habit but caving into vice, there’s an inherent tension coursing through every shuddering piston-riff. Quiet, vulnerable pockets typically get the The Kills treatment, too; Alison growling of fucked up love and destroyed relationships through clouds of regret and cigarette smoke.
NEIGHBOURS, EVERYBODY NEEDS GOOD NEIGHBOURS . When Alison first uprooted everything to relocate across an entire ocean, she found herself a little culture-shocked by our island’s peculiar customs. Now, sixteen years later, the tables have turned. Giving life in the States a go, Jamie is permanently confused by Americans. Luckily, he’s got some friendly neighbours to help him through this difficult time. Jamie: I’m spending more time in America. It’s a trial. I still hang out with British people there though! Miles Kane, Alex Turner, Mike from Royal Blood – they’re my neighbours.
Spiky guitars find a new home on ‘Ash & Ice,’ too. Though there’s that ever-characteristic spininess still colouring the likes of lead single ‘Doing It To Death’ and closer ‘Black Tar,’ the duo’s usual drum machine tenacity has morphed into something more meaty, and textured. Often, Jamie’s Hofner guitar takes over the artery-pulse instead, chugging and rattling like an unstoppable freight train. “Maybe that’s cos I lost a finger!” hoots Jamie. He might laugh it off now, but thanks to that hand injury of his, he thought it might be curtains on The Kills as they knew it – for a time, at least. “My hand did have a lot to do with it,” he adds. “I felt like I wasn’t going to play guitar again, didn’t I?” he asks, looking across to Alison. Six surgeries, and a tendon transplant later, though, he’s still shredding. You only have to look as far as Jamie’s Putin-related tomfoolery earlier today to hazard a strong guess that he’s not really a subscriber to overthinking. But still, there’s a determination to ‘Ash & Ice’ that can only spring out of impossible obstacles. This is an album dominated by allconsuming hunger, and limitless infatuation – a blinkered pursuit of the one thing that makes you tick. Shaken off its tracks by a lust-locomotive in ‘Days of Why and How,’ and loyal to the bitter end on ‘Heart of a Dog,’ The Kills’ latest record hungers for connection to chaos. It’s a conscious mission that took the duo out of their comfortable recording bubble in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and saw them setting up studio the other side of America in alien LA. “I liked recording in Michigan because it was like locking ourselves away and building this secret machine,” Jamie says. “But you do tend to find, while no distractions help you work harder, it’s also not really getting any outside stimuli for creativity. Songs tend to be more introspective, maybe, relying on imagination. There were a lot of stories on our last album [‘Blood Pressures’].” he concludes. “We really wanted to mix it up, invite some opportunity. We wanted a bit more chaos. We wanted to absorb that into the record.” The Kills got their wish for mayhem, and then some. “I recall a hotbed of criminal activity,” deadpans Alison. “We were up in the mountains,” remembers Jamie, “and you’d get the coyotes coming up, and a minute later, these... what are those other things?” he asks Alison. “Racoons,” he exclaims. “Racoons, in the hot-tub!” His bandmate looks vaguely bewildered, and throughly unconvinced. “I never saw them in the hot tub...” Alison mutters. “Well, that little fountain thing,” Jamie justifies. “Whatever that was!” “There was that crane, too,” Alison smiles. “We had wildlife, but we also had gang members. All sorts of things, running through the yard. Constant entertainment.” After a two-and-a-half-month stint at their new studio in LA, The Kills found themselves with thirty-odd contending songs, and chewing at the bit to finish ‘Ash & Ice’. After dangling microphones out windows to sample whirring police helicopters, and recording ramshackle vocal takes while crouched on the bathroom tiles, Alison and Jamie headed towards yet another of the polar opposites that shape this album. It took them to the decidedly legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York’s Greenwich Village. Once the stomping ground of Jimi Hendrix, it wound up being the place where The Kills put a full stop on ‘Ash & Ice’.
“WE’RE SORT OF LIKE
MUDDY WATER .” -
JAMIE HINCE 42 diymag.com
Alison finds it hilarious that . Jamie’s just offered her a haircut. .
“It was the perfect antithesis to recording in a house,” Alison explains. “They did tell us: Jimi Hendrix lived there, in the house we rented in in LA,” realises Jamie, suddenly. “Then obviously we went to Electric Lady, which was his studio. That’s only just dawned on me,” he adds. “He was throwing lightbulbs at you,” Alison says, without stopping to clarify that she’s referring to the ghost of Jimi, here. Obviously. “Lights were literally falling from the ceiling. Really bizarre.” Hendrix’s spirit, The Kills agree, found its way onto ‘Ash & Ice’ too – in yet another of their strangely coincidental turns. “I would never in my life have considered using a wah-wah pedal,” says Jamie. “Apart from the fact we were at Electric Lady, and I just thought, ‘Come on, let’s do it!’ I haven’t heard a wah-wah pedal on a record for such a long time, and I still don’t think it’s ready.” The pair burst out laughing. “I think it’s too early for that shit to come back,” hoots Jamie. “But I thought, fuck it! I’m going to do it!” “Just an itch,” grins Alison. Though they might be a truly transatlantic band – frog-hopping between continents depending on their mood – The Kills have always been open about one of their main inspirations. Following Alison’s brazen first show tattoo, when the time came to settle on a band name, the pair chose The Kills because it seemed timeless. Both are huge fans of Velvet Underground, in particular,
ON IT LIKE A CAR BONNET
“We don’t have to give anything up to do a band,” states Alison. “We can keep doing all of that stuff, and it can keep being part of one big huge picture.” A debate between the pair – concerning Jamie’s photography – follows. He’s convinced it isn’t a serious pursuit; Alison thinks otherwise. “It’s your perception! Your seriousness about yourself...” she tells him. “It started just being about wanting to capture things because it might not be like this forever,” he says, brushing it off, “it might all be over. We couldn’t believe we were staying at The Chelsea Hotel!“ he exclaims, referring to the band’s drawnout residency at New York’s most infamous hotel in the run-up to ‘Blood Pressures’. Now a closed-down shell, the Chelsea’s days of Patti Smith casually greeting Salvador Dali in the lobby, fringed by glimpses of Allen Ginsberg and Leonard Cohen, are now decades down the chute of history. “Edie Sedgwick set fire to her room,” Jamie says, moving off on a tangent concerning one of Andy Warhol’s superstars who used to reside there. “We used to stay in her room, we requested it deliberately.”
“WE HAD WILDLIFE, BUT WE ALSO HAD GANG MEMBERS. ALL SORTS OF THINGS, RUNNING THROUGH THE YARD.” - ALISON MOSSHART
Alison, you look very cool in the ‘Doing It To Death’ video. Sensational balance. Be real with us, though – you definitely fell off that car bonnet a few times, didn’t you? Alison: [Laughs dismissively] No.
and in early interviews, The Kills often spoke of doing an Andy Warhol, and locking themselves away in a tinfoil coated, self-contained music factory. Unwilling to compromise, the band was born as a place where Alison’s painting, Jamie’s photography, and their collective musical output could all come under the same umbrella. Far from being a nostalgic goalpost, though, Velvet Underground just happen to be an example of that being possible.
“Sadly we missed that time,” quips Alison dryly. “We came just after.” The Kills wouldn’t have it any other way. Obsessed with reflecting the here and now, glancing in the rear-view mirror and watching the road peel away just isn’t their style. Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart continually rev towards new horizons. It’s the killer driving force behind the band.
As much as icons of the past shape The Kills’ artistic vision, they’ve got no time for nostalgia. The drive to surge forward is audible in every note they play. “It’s impossible to avoid,” shrugs Alison, “but you try not to focus on it.” Present moments over rosetinted reflection, forever rallying against the tide of retrospect; it’s the sole reason The Kills continue to be one of music’s most potent duos. To nick their own self-assured words from comeback statement ‘Doing It To Death’ they’re double sixing it, night after night. Chance might’ve shaped ‘Ash & Ice’ but when it comes to The Kills, the dice is loaded on a winning streak. The Kills’ new album ‘Ash & Ice’ is out 3rd June via Domino. DIY
S A L V A T I
“I think I’ve still got vomit all over my boots…” Oli Burslem
A R M Y
With countless road miles under their belts, Yak have been Focused on gathering a throng since day one. Debut album ‘Al as Salvation’ is their call to arms. Words: Tom Connick. Photos: Nick Sayers.
li Burslem’s excited. It’s not the momentum Yak are gathering that’s set the frontman’s serotonin a-popping though, nor is it the impossibly accomplished debut album they’re gearing up to let loose on the world. Nope – this time, that beaming smile’s a result of the café below DIY HQ being home to the chairs he used to sell in his old antique shop. In fairness, they’re awfully comfy. It’s probably a welcome chance to put his feet up too, today marking Yak’s first day off the road in longer than any of the three-piece can remember. Australian dates (with a quick pit-stop in New Zealand so drummer Elliot Rawson could catch up with his family for the first time in three years) backed straight onto a whistle-stop run of Austin, Texas for SXSW festival. From there, they darted “up to Seattle, and then did the West Coast, and then to Chicago, Toronto, 45
Philly, and then we got the flight from New York, and then the next day we were up the road at Hackney Empire with The Last Shadow Puppets,” Elliot reels off, barely pausing for breath. “It’s been pretty full-on, but it’s still all good. It’s like a big holiday.” Yak’s passion for road-time has been their calling card from day one. “For any bands who say it’s hard work, it’s fucking bullshit,” Oli told us this time last year, succinctly. It’s an ethos that sticks with them to this day. “We’re just getting things booked in as much as possible,” he says today. “It’s just cracking on, really – just trying to push it as much as we can. Like we said from the start. It’s getting a bit more intense, but it’s still all good.” “Nothing’s really sunk in because we’ve been busy every hour, basically. Or drunk, so…” he laughs; “It’s like a confusion of semiconsciousness and exciting stuff.”
“There’s stuff – the hurdy-gurdy for instance – that I just love that kinda…” He breaks off, whipping out a clearly well-honed hurdygurdy impression – ‘kchrrrr-eeeeeer’ – “but in a live thing, even if you had a hurdy-gurdy, no one’s gonna bloody hear it. It’s not like, ‘Wow, it’s taken on a different thing now!’” he admits, his voice smothered in mock-amazement. “You can still express what you need to express with three people. But just sometimes on a record, it’s just nice sonically to have some different stuff.” “Some of the stuff we just tracked on the spot, first take, there and then,” says Elliot. “So when I listen to it, it sounds like a different band. It doesn’t sound like I recorded it. I had to re-learn some of the parts! We were just trying to push ourselves to do four or five songs a day, and some of them were just pieces of songs. We were like, ‘Right, that’s it, we’re doing it.’ And then, in hindsight, it’s like ‘…I don’t remember what we did,’” he laughs.
“I’m fucking shit, I’ve got no entitlement, you’ve got no entitlement and we’re both FUCKED!” Oli Burslem Top of the list of ‘exciting stuff’: their debut album, ‘Alas Salvation’. The rubber stamp on Yak’s first eighteen months of evolution, it nevertheless remains as fluid as they come. Twisting into new shapes at every opportunity, it’s a whirlpool of crunch, psych and pop melody, all wrapped up in the three-piece’s telepathic instinct. “All those songs were tracked as a three-piece band – they’re all live takes,” Oli reveals.
“You try and prepare as much as you can for the haphazard stuff,” says Oli. “I think this about music so much – I don’t think you can just sit down and write it out and just play it. Especially rock’n’roll music – there’s supposed to be bits in there that are supposed to be magic. I think music’s a bit magic… I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but you’d be a mathematician or something if you wanted something like that.” “A lot of music now, people edit themselves so much, or have the means at home to do a lot, and it ends up with something quite unnatural about it, I think. Something that doesn’t really turn me on. Guitar music, a three-piece, rock’n’roll – it’s not that exciting. But if you put something human in there, then it becomes something you can connect with.”
That spontaneity might be core to their being but “there is a plan,” Oli admits. “I mean… there are gigs. I know we’ve got a gig on Thursday in Amsterdam, but honestly, if you put a gun to my head and said ‘Tell me when the next gig is’, I wouldn’t be able to” - Elliot snorts with laughter – “I know that sounds lame, but it’s the truth!” “We don’t deserve anything – don’t deserve, whatever, ‘the fruits of our labour’,” Oli continues. “We never felt that. Every time we play a gig, there’s no feeling of entitlement. Some of the gigs are a bit erratic, or
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA
t’s not all glitz, glamour and the American Dream touring Stateside, y’know. Right the start of Yak’s most recent U.S. trip, calamity hit. “The keyboard broke, the pedals broke, so we had some shit amps and a battered old drum kit, “ Oli reveals. “It was really back to basics – bass, one pedal, battered drum kit, all the cymbals were cracked, a tiny little amp and two pedals, and no synth. So we just had to try and think, but it’s kinda good… and we don’t deserve anything else,” he smirks. “But we got to Chicago, and that was a great gig,” Oli continues. “we went there on a Saturday night, and it was pretty busy and everyone didn’t know us at all, but by the end of it we had an encore and everyone was going mad. So that was good – we felt like we earnt it that night, and it was like, ‘Well, we can still make an impression stripped down as much as possible.’”
something, cause you’re playing and you’re going” – he mimes goading the crowd in front of him – “’Fuck, come on, fuck! I’m fucking no-one, I’m fucking shit, I’ve got no entitlement, you’ve got no entitlement and we’re both FUCKED!’ Every gig, this is not just another gig. We might not even have another album – this might be it! We haven’t got another deal, we haven’t sold anything as we stand, so we might not have another chance to do it again. But if we don’t, then I’m happy.” “Like Oli says, we don’t know that we’re gonna go and do another tour, we don’t know when we’re next gonna go over to America, so we look at this like, ‘Shit, we’re in America – this might be the only time we get to be in America, let’s fucking enjoy it,’” says Elliot of their non-stop nature, the trio admitting that they’re already writing and recording for what might make album two. “So we enjoy it. We probably enjoy it too much.” “Y’know – we can approach this differently,” Oli admits with a grin. “We don’t have to go out and get completely fucked every night. And get so fucked you have two hours sleep and you’re vomiting over yourself. I think I’ve still got vomit all over my boots…” “That’s not a joke,” Elliot interjects. “I mean, if we wanted to, we could probably be a bit more professional about it,” says Oli. “But we’re having a good time!” “And y’know - if it doesn’t work out, I can fix these chairs very well…” Yak’s new album ‘Alas Salvation’ is out 13th May via Octopus Electrical / Kobalt Label Services. DIY
COMMON PEOPLE G
igging hard and releasing what may just be the best debut album of the year are all well and good, suppose, but in camp Yak it’s making new mates that’s top of the list. “There are so many amazing people out there,” says Oli. “We’ve met so many decent people. Like a Texan who had a gun. I was like, ‘Shoot me!’ and spent the whole time trying to get him to shoot me with his gun. (Er, OK mate - Ed) There’s just so many good people out there, and that’s what it’s about, ain’t it? Other human beings. Sometimes I like the idea of just waking up, getting out of the house, playing a gig and then getting on with your life. It’s only one element of the day, you know?” “That’s the danger sometimes!” laughs Elliot, “Plenty of time to drink.”
“This album is d e f i n i t e ly a s p ec t r u m .”
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Returning after a huge debut album, laptop-hugging producer Flume is letting expectations drive him forward. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Emma Swann.
hen Harley Streten released his debut, self-titled album at the end of 2012, it thrust him into a world he didn’t quite anticipate. Almost three years of constant touring followed, promoting a record that gathered unprecedented pace and success, written without a single expectation.
“I was writing whatever I wanted with little consideration,” he explains. “I just went with whatever came out, and it wasn’t very thought out.” Before beginning work on its muchanticipated follow-up ‘Skin’, the Sydney native took some time to adjust back to a life off the road before coming back with a new, more calculated approach. “I took some time off to live like a normal fucking human,” he remembers.
“I would take a few months back home here and there between tours to recuperate, and I feel much healthier as a person now because of that.” Things were always going to be different for the second age of Flume, with a ton of expectation falling on his shoulders, a lot of which was placed there by the man himself. “I had to put a certain amount of pressure on myself to create music of a certain level and a certain standard. Since the first record came out, there’s now a benchmark for me to hit and to beat.” The benchmark is indeed now set high for the follow-up to ‘Flume’, but it’s one that’s helped him grow and change. “[This album] was much more calculated - I really thought about who I wanted to work with, how I wanted it to sound, where I wanted to take the sound, and how I wanted it to differ
from my first album. I placed quite a lot of pressure on myself, and just wanted to get it right, so decided to take as long as I needed.” ‘Flume’ placed him into a particular box as a writer, one that he was keen to stretch and escape from with ‘Skin’. It’s a feeling which hit him before the tour for his debut finished. “[The success] grew and grew, and it got to the point where I didn’t want to carry on playing shows unless I had new material. I had a bunch of new songs, but I couldn’t play them because I was saving it for the record, and it was quite frustrating giving people the same show every night, when I had so much new stuff I was sat on.” The material written since his debut album stretches to over two albums’ worth, he explains, and his frustrations
at not being able to release his most recent work as and when he wants has led him to re-evaluate how he wants to release his music in the future. “From now on, I’ve decided, I’m not going to do an album, wait a few years and tour, then do another album, then repeat. I’m going to do an album like this one, and then just keep putting stuff out there, without the traditional breaks. I want to be able to make something in the day, and then play it that night. I like the immediacy of that kind of thing.” Despite currently sitting on enough music for multiple full-lengths, he cites a “specific DNA” that ties the songs on ‘Skin’ together, and how the selection process for the LP helped him create a united, flowing album. “I am a bigger fan of some of the songs that didn’t make it over some that did, but those songs didn’t fit, and there’s a definite feeling in all the songs that made the album that tie them together and make it flow as one. Those other songs are still going to come out, for sure, but as a body of work it didn’t quite make sense to give them a home on the album. That’s exciting for me, because there’s so many songs to play with on different future releases.” While ‘Skin’ has taken nearly four years to arrive, it seems as though the next Flume release could spring
from anywhere, at any point, and shows him bursting to come out with all the music that’s not made it onto the album. Harley calls ‘Skin’ “an album of extremes”, and one which he hopes will translate into a much more varied live show - a live show that is scraping the top of a whole host of festival bills this summer. “This album is definitely a spectrum. [My debut] kept a relatively similar pace throughout, whereas ‘Skin’ has a lot more up and down - it’ll go from really intense and fast to ambient stuff, and I’m looking to bring that into the live show too. It’s much larger, which is exciting, because I feel like now I can create a theatrical experience and have a lot more dynamic range. For the headline shows, I’m really going to try and take people up as high as possible with the high-energy stuff, and then take them completely down with some kind of 10-minute ambient section. This album gives me a lot of building blocks to put on a really epic experience: I want it to feel like a Cirque De Soleil show.” Moving forward, it’s clear that Flume doesn’t see ‘Skin’ as an ending, but the start of a new era and a new approach. The massive success that was thrust onto him with his debut album has given him a different outlook with ‘Skin’ and the future - he’s not looking content to sit on the success he’s garnered, but to push it to its very extremes. Harley calls 2016 “a very big year” for him, and it doesn’t begin and end with ‘Skin’ - anything could happen from here, and at any time. Flume’s new album ‘Skin’ is out 27th May via Transgressive. DIY
THE SHOWS SET TO DEFINE FLUME’S YEAR. Wild Life, Brighton, June The second year of Disclosure and Rudimental’s festival is set to be Flume’s biggest UK show of the summer, on a weekend where he also heads to Manchester for Parklife. Sónar, Barcelona, July Sitting alongside the likes of Four Tet, James Blake and ANOHNI on Sónar’s Friday night, the show, and the whole evening, could be a defining moment in Flume’s summer.
Lollapalooza, Chicago, July He’s sitting up next to the very top acts on the line-up for this year’s Chicago fest, with his performance set to join headline sets from Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem as a highlight of the weekend.
Flume will play Wild Life. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details. 50 diymag.com
18.05.16 SCALA LONDON
ESTRONS + OUR GIRL
05.05.16 THE WAITING ROOM LONDON
TOURIST + XO
11.05.16 UT SOLD O LONDON XOYO 12.05.16 BRIGHTON HAUNT
19.05.16 ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL
FATHER JOHN MISTY 18.05.16 OUT SOLDROUNDHOUSE THE 19.05.16 OUT SOLDROUNDHOUSE THE 20.05.16 OUT SOLDROUNDHOUSE THE
+ INHEAVEN HALF LOON 24.05.16 DINGWALLS LONDON
+ PUMAROSA 26.05.16 O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE
28.05.16 BRIGHTON PATTERNS
WAKA FLOCKA FLAME + DARK E FREQUER 808INK JIKAY THE PURIST
29.05.16 JAZZ CAFE LONDON
+ BLOOD SPORT 30.05.16 100 CLUB
CLARE MAGUIRE 06.06.16 OUT SOLD ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH LONDON
08.06.16 ELECTROWERKZ LONDON
17.10.16 BRIGHTON HAUNT 20.10.16 O2 ACADEMY 2 OXFORD 21.10.16 NORWICH ARTS CENTRE 22.10.16 SOUTHAMPTON BROOK 26.10.16 O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN 27.10.16 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 29.10.16 O2 INSTITUTE BIRMINGHAM
24.10.16 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY 26.10.16 LEEDS BECKETT SU 27.10.16 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 1
28.10.16 LIVERPOOL MOUNTFORD HALL
14.06.16 THE PICKLE FACTORY LONDON
31.10.16 BRIGHTON DOME
+ LITTLE CUB
14.06.16 BRISTOL TRINITY CENTRE
15.06.16 BARFLY LONDON
27.06.16 GLASGOW QUEEN MARGARET UNION 28.06.16 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2 29.06.16 O2 INSTITUTE BIRMINGHAM 30.06.16 BRISTOL ANSON ROOMS
03.11.16 NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY 07.11.16 COVENTRY EMPIRE 08.11.16 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY 10.11.16 ROUNDHOUSE LONDON
02.11.16 O2 INSTITUTE BIRMINGHAM
THE SPECIALS 15.11.16 THE TROXY LONDON 16.11.16 THE TROXY LONDON
03.05.16 UT SOLD O THE LEXINGTON LONDON
APR – NOV
Scream if you wanna be Oscar!
Oscarâ€™s Technicolour pop is just the start. In the future, he wants to travel the world, move to New York and collaborate with the stars. First on the agenda - a day out with DIY in Dreamland, Margate. Look, youâ€™ve got to start somewhere, ok? Words: Jamie Milton. Photos: Mike Massaro.
He dubs the record a moment of “self-discovery”, while the songs he’s written since ‘Cut and Paste’ are a lot more “grown up”. But the kid in Oscar isn’t leaving anytime soon. Not least today. Every five minutes, he pulls out a Polaroid camera and stops to take a selfie (this isn’t pure vanity - he’s giving away individualised photos to the first two hundred fans who buy his album). The Mickey Mouse jumper he’s sporting would be more suited to Disneyland, but you can’t have everything. Margate will do for now.
scar Scheller hasn’t stopped smiling for six hours. Since his first can of Coke, to be precise. For an entire afternoon, the North London pop obsessive has been soaking up the bliss of Dreamland, Margate’s miracle of a theme park. Perched on the sandiest spot of the English coast within an hour of the capital, rollercoasters, candy floss and vinegarsoaked chips join forces in a fairytale town.
Several years back, Oscar started dreaming big. His bedroombased pop aesthetic hasn’t shifted since then, but the ambition remains. His heart’s attached to LP2 already; he’s plotting dream collaborations with King Krule, for instance. “He’s got such a deep voice and I’ve got a deep voice. Two deep voices, very different styles. I think he watched a very early show I played in Brixton, but I don’t know if he meant to be there. He was probably too high to leave.” And not long from now, he plans to leave London for a big move Stateside.
“I’d like to get a different experience. New York is the place where I’d do that,” he says, perhaps doubting his dreams for a moment, because Margate’s probably cheaper. “It’s the hustle. The energy and the excitement. I know that I really love New York and I think I’d get on well there too.” The “An adrenaline and sugar-induced dream” is how he describes response in the States is the experience, between more welcoming than over unlimited rides on the park’s here, he insists - even though various delights. It’s a crazy, he does get spotted by a colourful haze; a wake-up call Oscar’s pop obsession has to stem from somewhere. couple of Dreamland punters for anyone craving an exit out Turns out, he’s been amongst the stars all his life. in between rides. “There’s of the big smoke. If there’s a lot more opportunities. It ever a day out to match the BLUE feels like it’s meant to be, in fun-first mentality of Oscar’s “I had a best friend growing up called Louie. His mum used a way.” music, this is it. to run a studio in Acton called Stanley House, where a lot of the pop stars used to cut their records. One of them being Some dreams take time to Debut album ‘Cut and Paste’ Blue. I was always in there causing mischief. I ended up flesh out, but others come has been a long time coming. playing pool with Blue. All of Blue. They let me take a shot. It true in an instant. Last year, One of the songs, ‘Fifteen’, was magical. A great moment, one I’ll never forget.” Oscar needed a vocalist to was penned ten years back, join him on ‘Only Friend’. when Oscar first picked up the spice girls His first choice was Marika a beginner’s guitar. Others “My mum was running a magazine in the ‘90s called Junk Hackman, and within a few emerged closer to this big Mail, with her boyfriend. It was an eco-conscious ‘zine. days they were working day out in Margate, from his And she went and interviewed The Spice Girls, maybe even together. “I really didn’t first brush with fame as a a month before they were famous. She went into Virgin expect her to say yes. We’d blog favourite to his current Records and asked if they had any artists who’d want to talk met and we had mutual status, penning songs with about being eco-friendly. And they were like, ‘We do have friends, but I didn’t really the stars (he’s written for this one group. We don’t really know what’s happening know her very well. I was Lily Allen, for starters) while with them.’ My mum stole their details and met up with thinking ‘She’s so famous, journeying around the planet them in a cafe. I took the day off school. I wasn’t even that she’s not gonna do it,’” he under his solo guise. Linking ill. And I ended up in the back of a car. They woke me up in beams. “She’s working on a them together is a patchwork a car park by singing to me. It was crazy. We all went back new record, so I would like to approach to pop. Anything to my grandma’s house, where we did a photoshoot for the think she’d invite me!” goes, from hip-hop inspired magazine. They were just getting drunk with my mum. A old school beats to gleaming, month or two later, they were everywhere. The most famous Next up on the bucket list is sunny-side-up choruses. band in the world. I found one of the issues in my room a trip to Japan (“I’m trying His signature baritone recently. Geri recycles her tights to make shower caps. Mel B to find ways of getting voice could work in any uses old ice cream tubs to put her make-up in on tour. Posh there, slowly plotting what environment, except J-Pop. did something to do with loo roll - I can’t remember now.” to do”) and maybe even a Swing music would invite him musical transformation. His with open arms. Delivering Oscar, the secret member . baritone is certainly capable sad-dripping, The Nationalof The Spice Girls.. of working in a different style melodrama would work environment, it’s just the for him, too. This time, he’s case of taking that next plumped for indie pop, the step. With the Big Apple on kind which balances a fine the mind, you could easily emotional tightrope. envisage him taking on a
Dev Hynes-style role, disappearing before re-emerging a completely different musician. “I’d love to do things like R&B, more electronic stuff. I guess it’s about finessing what you have already. The guitar is great, but it’s almost a distraction. I’ve come to that conclusion, since finishing the album. I want to put the guitar down, so I can go Jarvis Cocker on everyone.” There are countless directions he could take in the future, but for now Oscar’s focused on establishing what makes him tick in the present day. “I’ve heightened the things I like and it’s become a caricature,” he jokes. “Like with Mickey Mouse. A picture gets taken of you wearing a Mickey Mouse top, it gets published and then suddenly that’s a thing. Which is fine! I do love the Disney designs, in the same way I love Andy Warhol’s silk-screen paintings. They stand for the same thing, to me. This gross fascination of mass production in popular culture,” he says, surrounded by a fairground stall giving away cuddly Minions toys. “I’ve developed an identity of some kind, almost by accident. It strangely came together in a natural way.”
again,” he says on the journey home, stacking together the Polaroids he’s taken, a view of Margate disappearing into the distance. A few hours later, he’s back in the studio working on demos, and dusting off the sand from his knackered shoes. In a quest to realise his dreams, Oscar never stops thinking about his next move. Only a fool would bet against him sharing a glitzy New York studio with the stars. Oscar’s new album ‘Cut and Paste’ is out 13th May via Wichita. DIY
His dream day is coming to a close. “It felt like being a kid “Hello flossy my old friend”
“I’ve developed an identity, almost by accident.” 54 diymag.com
Oscar will play Latitude. Head to diymag.com/festivals for details.
~ LIV E ~
Hip Hop Karaoke / 2nd Camp Lo / 5th Revere / 11th 16th 24th
Jehst / 9th Sound & Vision: Janis
Sounds Familiar Music Quiz / 13th The Travelling Band
Quilt / 17th Kaki King / 22nd The Aussie BBQ / Antwon / 25th The Computers /
Me & My Drummer
Marsicans / 31st Plants & Animals
~ LATE ~ 7th
K ings of the capitalâ€™s
A proper old school
Wedding themed, time
A fresh new slice of global
Weekly Friday alt-pop
& tropical sounds
& contemporary sounds
Dates, times & tickets: www.hoxtonsquarebar.com
sk any sod for their views on social media and they’ll declare we are, at once, both more connected and lonelier than ever before. And this is exactly the issue that Canadian punks White Lung tackle - with an exciting twist - in their latest shock to the system, with the piercing and furious lead single ‘Hungry’, taken from forthcoming album ‘Paradise’.
White Lung are back and as fierce as ever, with a fourth studio album that packs a punch and explores an all-thrills storyline of infamous characters and tales. From the way opening track ‘Dead Weight’ ploughs in with Kenneth William’s spiralling cut-throat guitar riffs that sit alongside Barber-Way’s sharp delivery, to the driving power of ‘Below’, ‘Paradise’ is an album that comes tightly-packed and tailor made to grab attention.
Sharp-tongued frontwoman Mish Barber-Way explains the song is “about hunger for fame, delusional self-obsession. Social media has turned us all into narcissistic morons living out our pathetic wants in tiny spurts of dopamine called ‘likes’. It’s gross.”
Producer Lars Stalfors (The Mars Volta, Alice Glass, Cold War Kids) has a lot to answer for - guitarist Kenneth claims fans will be able to hear a difference in how his guitar sounds. “We worked really hard to make sure there were new sounds in every song that set them apart from each other, so we worked with a lot of pedals and software to mangle some of the guitar tracks into something that sounds more like synths.” his guitar plays a crucial part in the way the record came together. It was one of the reasons the band picked Annie Clark to interview them when ‘Hungry’ was first released, as Barber-Way explains: “Annie introduced herself to us at Fuji Rock Festival in Japan and then, we all went out after playing a festival in Chicago. I asked her to do the bio because I knew she could talk guitars with Kenny. This is truly Kenny’s record and I wanted someone who played their guitar like
The accompanying video develops this obsession with narcissism, following a self-obsessed stranger who tries everything in her power to become famous and ‘liked’. She models for a can of condensed milk, obsessively buys her own products and even pours the milk all over herself, but eventually ends up being sucked into her own reflection – only to be replaced by someone else. “Social media has given everyone this platform to pretend they are a star to their tiny niche of followers. No one is lining up to be a teacher or a garbage man. We all want that power.”
my IRON White Lung have upped every aspect of their game for ‘Paradise’. Geeking out on pedals, finding fascination in serial killers they’ve done everything in their power to find that next gear. Words: Amelia Maher.
“No one is lining up to be a teacher or a garbage man. We all want that power.” Mish Barber-Way
it was not one to talk with Kenny about his process. They both treat their instruments in similarly inventive ways.” What is even more interesting is how Lars was able to push Barber-Way in a different direction, making her “embrace the pop”. Clearly this doesn’t mean ‘Paradise’ is a pop record, but instead one which widens White Lung’s horizons - still cutting deep, but doing so while exploring a wider musical terrain. It feels more approachable, even if the characters explored and the stories told are anything but. The songs themselves came mostly from an intense period of writing last year, during which Barber-Way delved into studies about sex, murder, and deadly characters such as the White family of West Virginia, Karla Homolka, Fred and Rosemary West. “I wrote from the voices of other people. I got schizophrenic. I made up these fairy tales in my head, hyper-inflated versions of my own experiences or stuff I took from books.” There’s a lot going on in Barber-Way’s head - she has an insatiable appetite to push what White Lung stand for. She’s constantly looking for the stories that
“I made up these fairy tales in my head, hyper inflated versions of my own experiences.” Mish Barber-Way
push boundaries. “I was also obsessed with these compilations from Trailer Park Records called ‘Twisted Tales From The Vinyl Wastelands’. It’s all these old country songs about everything from strippers, to prison, to drugs to love. Songs no one cared about at the time. The storytelling is what I like. They are so good. It’s just my taste. I love old country so much.” It is what makes Barber-Way such an interesting character. She is upfront and brutally honest, but also grounded and ambitious in what she wants to achieve with White Lung. When asked whether they reflect much on their careers or whether that is a counterproductive exercise, her response is simply: “Careers will fade. Family is forever.” Even as the band develops and - dare we say it - grow up, they are firmly dedicated to authenticity in everything they produce. This is what continues to make them so compelling, refusing to rest on their laurels. White Lung’s new album ‘Paradise’ is out 6th May via Domino. DIY
Manic depression stopped me from playing to the point of getting rid of my guitar to pay for somewhere to live. Help Musicians UK got me back on my feet. I dread to think where I would be without them. We helped Matt when a crisis stopped him from performing. Help us help musicians. Donate at helpmusicians.org.uk or call 020 7239 9100
Backing musicians throughout their careers. Registered Charity No. 228089.
Cry Me A Weezer are never ones to rest on their laurels. With the selftitled ‘White’ album unleashing its own storm, they’re already looking ahead to next steps. Words: Jessica Goodman.
aking a bow in front of a 5,000-strong audience at London’s Brixton Academy last month, there’s no denying Weezer have always been meant for the masses. Twentyfour years and ten albums in, opinions on them may have remained divided over the years (to say the least), but through their ever-expanding evolution, the outfit continue to incite devotion. But despite the mass adoration that surrounds them, the group view themselves with a distinctly modest regard. “We were pretty tight,” frontman Rivers Cuomo offers by way of description of their recent shows, speaking just a couple of days after their latest stint. He’s actually walking by the side of a river. You couldn’t make it up. “We’ve been playing the new songs long enough now that I’m not making any mistakes. I remember all the words.
focus is very much on the future. Armed with their new, self-titled ‘White’ album, anyone would think it’s time they got used to life at the top, but the band aren’t about to get complacent. “I can see on Metacritic that we have something like an average score of 74,” the frontman - never shy of a browse online - proudly declares, “which is pretty good compared to a lot of records out there, and it’s definitely fantastic for us.” Their tenth full-length release, the ‘White’ album is rooted in the sand and surf of the Californian coastline. “We started out with the
“You can see throughout our history that we often
react to one album by going 180 degrees on the next.”
“I’m trying to write an algorithm for generating setlists that are drawing from a large pool of songs,” he diverges, “so that every night the order is different, and every night there’s new songs for us, songs we don’t usually play.” Weighing up the pros and cons of switching things up, and figuring out how much work it’d be for the lighting tech and crew if they did, the
You Do The Math(s)
eezer might be best known for their colourful albums, but music definitely isn’t the sum of their capabilities. Rivers talks us through an additional (and slightly surprising) passion of his. “I’m taking algebra,” he proclaims. “I really enjoy it. It’s very relaxing. It’s such a different type of mental activity compared to what I do for Weezer. It’s not at all creative. It’s just working out these logic problems, and there’s one definite right answer, and if you do the work you get it. It’s really satisfying.”
goal of making a beach album,” he recalls, “with these beautiful chord progressions and melodies, but it’s an unusual take on the beach setting because I’m a weird person.” Their idiosyncrasies have always been a part of what make Weezer so admired. Venturing into the studio individually to “record all our parts and really perfect them without input from the other guys,” the album demonstrates the band at their most vibrant. “If I’m in the room with them I have a little too much influence,” Rivers admits. “As a songwriter I have an idea of how I want the song to go, and it’s hard not to influence them.” Taking a difficult step back from the work he was creating, the result is a record that’s as varied and multi-layered as the four men who created it. “I’ve learned over the years that if I micro-manage it, it ends up not as rich and complex as it could be,” he explains. Being able to see “a highly perfected version” of what his bandmates had in mind, the frontman had the distance he needed to bring the collaborative process to full fruition. “I’m always looking for ways to give other people an opportunity to take a crack at it and put their layer of creativity on it.” That extra layer of creativity was brought to life with the assistance of producer Jake Sinclair. Having played as Rivers Cuomo in Weezer tribute act Wannabeezer from a young age, it proved the perfect creative alliance. “He was intimately familiar with the kinds of ways I sing and the way I play and the way I write, so he was a fantastic partner for me,” Rivers praises. “He was always able to hear when I got off track and articulate that in a way that would inspire me to get back on
the right one.” This album may still be shy of a month old, but Weezer are already thinking about the next one. “You can see throughout our history that we often react to one album by going 180 degrees on the next album,” Rivers states. Charting their progression from the ebullience of the ‘Blue’ album through the darkness of ‘Pinkerton’ and on to the brightness of ‘Green’ as an example, the band are on an endless quest for contrast. So where are they headed from here? “What could stand out more against ‘White’ than ‘Black’?” Rivers questions. The polar opposite of their latest release, the follow-up promises to be hinged on a certain darkness. “I think it’s going to maybe be like Beach Boys gone bad,” he says, alluding to the material he’s already at work on. “I’m thinking of swearing, which is
“I’m trying to write an algorithm for generating setlists.” Rivers Cuomo
something I’ve never done in songs.” Tackling “more mature topics”, the band’s next record certainly seems set to take a darker tone. “Less summer day and more winter night,” Rivers expands. “If it were a movie in the United States it would be rated R instead of PG.” Hinting towards a single “that’s not on an album” seeing release “on July 4th”, and with plans to get back into the studio from as early as October, Weezer aren’t a band to sit still. Their affinity for change might have alienated as well as it’s endeared, but that’s part and parcel of who the band are. “I guess it’s an artist’s instinct for a work to stand on its own, and to have as strong of an identity as possible,” Rivers explains. “Everything will be alright in the end,” he declares with a knowing chuckle. Wherever the group go from here, there’s no doubt about that. Weezer’s self-titled new album is out now via Crush Music / Atlantic. DIY
Alas Salvation (Octopus Electrical / Kobalt)
They test noise to extremes, they lose
leaze, sludge and scuzz rule the roost on Yak’s debut album. But to put their magic down to three vital ingredients would be missing the point. With Oli Burslem at the helm, the trio have a whirlwind chemistry it takes others decades to master. And with ‘Alas Salvation’, they’ve set a marker for every batshit newcomer emerging in the next decade. As a frontman, Burslem acts like he’s been researching the 64 diymag.com
move-by-move heroics of yesteryear’s giants: those Mick Jagger looks aren’t a red herring. On stage, he careers from churning organ to speaker stack like a prison inmate given his first taste of freedom. The odds were against Yak being able to replicate this wild form on record. But they’ve stolen the lights, the audience and the fever of a venue, wedging it slap bang in the middle of their debut. It’s no surprise Jack White’s Third Man Records lent their attention to last year’s ‘No’ single. Opener ‘National Anthem’ rapidly barks “victorious!”, everything stamped by the thick, stomping fuzz White’s spent his years advancing. But Yak
IEWS track of time and they make very little sense. aren’t just about sheer, unrelenting noise designed to take you out of your comfort zone, and they’re anything but reverential. ‘Use Somebody’’s looping solos are a bloodthirsty sibling of early Tame Impala, while ‘Take It’’s Wild West road trip gives psych the razor-sharp edge it often lacks. ‘Alas Salvation’’s title track has existed since last year, and it remains a marker, Burslem chanting “I’ve come to save your bacon!” like a mad scientist on the loose. And closer ‘Please Don’t Wait For Me’ is a glammed-up answer to The Horrors’ ‘Primary Colours’ days.
deranged character. They test noise to extremes, they lose track of time and they make very little sense. It’s as captivating as records come. But despite their heroics - from on-stage antics to everything laid bare here - you’d doubt they’re aware of just how good they are. ‘Alas Salvation’ is the debut of the year so far, make no mistake. And it’s the kind of record that can inspire the next generation to shun insecurities and any notions of cool. Be a character, distort the norm and say something weird - that’s the Yak ethos, and it’ll spread like wildfire. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘National Anthem’, ‘Use Somebody’, ‘Alas Salvation’.
Across their first work, Yak showcase the inner depths of their 65
An exercise in provocation.
HOPELESSNESS (Secretly Canadian / Rough Trade)
‘Hopelessness’, as its name hints, is really fucking bleak. That’s the message of this first work, which links grim-as-fuck messages with an eerie, explosive beauty. If a country can be accused of wrongdoing on a gross scale, Anohni will document it. The world is ending. We’ve all bought into a machine that’s slowly, mutually destructive. Innocent people are dying for no good reason, every single day. Sooner or later, there’ll be nothing left. Compared to the year’s other most political record (so far), PJ Harvey’s ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’, ‘Hopelessness’ has a clearer purpose. Instead of skimming over suffering, it tries to provide an answer: Escape, or get ready for the apocalypse. It’s grim, but tackling politics in music is like approaching a trap door. If you make one wrong move, you end up on your arse. Anohni isn’t subtle in how she deals with evil, but she does bring a set of skills. It doesn’t always work, by any stretch. But ‘Hopelessness’ is an exercise in provocation. It’s anti-apathy and determined to stir thought, even if that’s total disgust and dejection. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’.
U (Monday Records)
Dedicated to an anonymous ‘U’ (the text-speak makes it sound more friendly, apparently) Tourist’s debut is, he says, the story of a failed relationship. Where he plunges headlong into intricate, anthemic moments like the strangely angled ‘Foolish’ or the claustrophobic ‘Wait’ – bursts of rich piano or possessed Game Boys cutting through the curtain of flickering rhythm – it tells a story, and conjures an image. We’ve all had our arses kicked by love at one time or another, and crunching into careering motion, certain moments of ‘U’ are transformative. But despite flashes of real invention, for the most part, ‘U’ sounds stuck in a rut. Like an ex chucking out a binbag stuffed full of her former love’s favourite electronic tropes, it’s just a bit too formulaic to tug at any heartstrings. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Wait’
PRODUCERS ON TOUR
A guide to the names Will Phillips has on his CV. SAM SMITH Tourist has a Grammy to his name, thanks to the ‘Stay With Me’ collaboration, which he co-wrote with Smith and Jimmy Napes. At one point, he had more Grammys than albums. EKKAH Birmingham tropical-pop newcomers EKKAH went full disco with this year’s ‘Small Talk’ single - their best moment to date. JESSIE WARE Tourist linked up with Napes once more for ‘Pieces’, a song from Jessie’s 2014 LP ‘Tough Love’.
All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (Epitaph)
Architects are angry – that much has been clear for years. A decade on from their debut, the Brighton metallers’ transition from bratty, love-scorned teenagers into their newfound, Bansky-eat-yourheart-out post-capitalist guise is fully complete. Anti-establishment all the way, on recent records the nuance of politics and society has been drowned out by a full-throated scream of “the government is bad, okay” at every opportunity - on ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’, though, they’re taking a different tact. Don’t be fooled – the government are still bad, okay – but it’s a more considered approach that defines the group’s seventh strike. Sam Carter’s lyricism finally regains some of the poetry those earlier works flourished under, less reliant on blanket statements and calls to arms, instead finding hope within his hatred. If this is the sound of political discontent in 2016, it’s at least finally found a confident voice. (Tom Connick) LISTEN: ‘A Match Made In Heaven’, ‘From The Wilderness’
First impressions suggest Eagulls view life as endlessly grim. The sleeve of their 2014 self-titled debut - a burnt out car in the middle of a grey-skied estate - was a self-explanatory pointer for their frustrated and distinctly British take on post-punk. ‘Ullages’ - an anagram of their name, and another stab at adding industrial edge - is a revelation, in that sense. The fiery, barking default of their debut is gone. In steps a renewed George Mitchell, fronting the group with a strange poetry. He’d still prefer to detail a bloodied city centre bust-up than an idyllic holiday in the Bahamas, but he’s delivering dystopia in new terms. With similar force to Savages’ ‘Adore Life’, Eagulls manage to marry the ugliness of reality with dreams of something better. The vicious edge of their debut has been swept aside by a grander scale. Comparisons to The Smiths are valid, especially on the arms-aloft gestures of ‘Psalms’. They might lack the magical chemistry of a Morrissey and Marr, but that doesn’t stop Eagulls from using similar to tools to devastating effect. ‘Skipping’ threatens to jump out of its current form and into the skies, while ‘Velvet’ could easily become their calling card, an epic blend of barmy chants and eerie beauty. Eagulls are a band in transition. Their debut documented pure, unrelenting struggle. ‘Ullages’ finds a way out. Mitchell remains a captivating frontman, but he’s an entirely different blend to the one we knew before. If they can take the motifs of ‘Ullages’ and dive further into the unknown, they’ll have the makings of a special band. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Skipping’, ‘My Life in Rewind’, ‘Velvet’
DON’T SAY EAGULLS SOUND LIKE...
Look, Eagulls’ new record shares traits with certain bands. But you’ll get in trouble if you mention the following (we said nothing, okay?). The Cure: “There’s a lot of influences on this record that people – because we don’t tell anyone about them – they’re still just like, ‘It’s The Cure!’ Every single one, it’s The Cure! Fucking hell – there’s more bands than The Cure!” - George Mitchell Joy Division: “First album – Joy Division! This album: The Cure! Oh, whatever.” - George Mitchell
Marrying the ugliness of reality with dreams of something better. 67
eee GOLD PANDA
Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing (Mute)
The scope of LUH’s debut is staggering. Inspired by grand ideas from the collapse of capitalism to the notion of post-humanist singularity, the duo of former WU LYF frontman Ellery James Roberts and visual artist Ebony Hoorn, bring the nature of humanity into question. The record’s heart, though, is touchingly simple - two people standing up against the world. Moments where LUH lose their way are compensated for by the flashes of brilliance littered throughout. Whether it’s the jarring chaos of ‘$ORO’ or the mournful strings of ‘Someday Come’, this a debut that gives everything LUH have to offer and the result is honest, touching and raw. (Henry Boon) LISTEN: ‘I&I’
Good Luck and Do Your Best (City Slang)
The third studio album from Gold Panda sees both imagery and sound bond together. Documenting time away in Japan, ‘Good Luck and Do Your Best’ skims through the seasonal colours and buildings to the Japanese people, retaining the integrity of a trip through the country. Despite the jet-setting, what fascinates the most is the level of work collectively produced at home in Chelmsford. ‘Good Luck and Do Your Best’ is so far out there but at the same time feels right at home. (Mustafa Mirreh) LISTEN: ‘Pink and Green’.
eeee BIG THIEF
Masterpiece (Saddle Creek)
Brooklyn’s Big Thief aren’t a humble bunch, if ‘Masterpiece’’s title is anything to go by. But don’t be fooled. Led by Adrianne Lenker, they claim that love, life and everything in between - that’s the masterpiece, not their snazzy musicianship. Although they’re also adept at the latter, so if they dubbed the next record ‘Greates White Lung t Hits’, they might get away with it. This debut is an emotional juggernaut - an avalanche, in fact. Just when they look to have delivered their parting blow, in steps another moment that captures life’s ups and downs with perfection. Expect this to be the start of a huge career, even if this really is their ‘Masterpiece’. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Real Love’, ‘Paul’
congrats (Innovative Leisure)
Back in 2010, Holy Fuck were becoming sharper, smarter and more adventurous with every record they made. The raucous guitar-driven electronica they were making was subtly, intelligently geared at the kind of crowd who wouldn’t normally give that sort of thing the time of day. And then, they did their Houdini bit and vanished. Six years down the line, with nothing in the way of an explanation as to what the devil they’ve been up to, the Canadians frankly have no right whatsoever to return with such swagger, with such self-assurance, as they have done with ‘Congrats’. On the one hand, fair play to them for taking so long if such arrogant brilliance is the result, and on the other, please don’t make it another six years - Holy Fuck, we need this band. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Tom Tom’, ‘Shivering’
The Canadians frankly have no right whatsoever to return with such swagger. Cate Le Bon Bon.
WHITE LUNG Paradise (Domino)
Needle-sharp and packed full of vigour, White Lung’s return shoots straight for the veins. It’s a rush of adrenaline in a world swarmed by fuzzed-out pretenders - a welcome antidote to the haze modern punk increasingly finds itself drowning in. Thundering out of the gates with a glistening synthetic twinkle, not unlike the start-up sound of a next-gen games console, opener ‘Dead Weight’ hitting like every Street Fighter special move at once. From there on out, it’s uppercut after uppercut. The laser-guided precision of Kenneth William’s guitar lines burn brightest, every slick-as-fuck string sounding carved straight from diamond. Paired with Mish Way’s snarling vocal, it’s all realms of science fiction wrapped up in one punk-laced package, like bumping into a werewolf on the International Space Station and him pummelling you round the head with a Telecaster. That’s not to say there’s no nuance amongst the madness. ‘Below’ borders on balladry, whereas ’Vegas’ sounds torn straight from the filth of the gutter. White Lung push themselves to every corner of the universe on ‘Paradise’, presenting a beautiful vision of 22nd Century punk in the process. (Tom Connick) LISTEN: ‘Hungry’, ‘Kiss Me When I Bleed’, ‘Vegas’
eee ARTHUR BEATRICE
eee MUTUAL BENEFIT
Keeping The Peace
(Open Assembly Recordings/Polydor Records)
When Arthur Beatrice first struck out, talk centred around a “new xx”, though that always seemed like a lazy comparison, since they never had much in common apart from chilled beats and a boy-girl vocal axis. Hardly rocket science. Their second album, ‘Keeping The Peace’, should banish those comparisons once and for all. Standout track ‘Worry’, which starts out as a jazzy shuffle, is a spellbinding break-up song with a twist, Ella Girardot’s vocal transporting us from initial self-pity (“suddenly there’s nothing, no one to hold, nothing to hold me up”) to a spine-tinglingly defiant refrain, as she repeats over and over again, beneath a swelling orchestra: “Did you think you were in charge?” (Tim Cooper) LISTEN: ‘Worry’
Skip a Sinking Stone
An album of two halves, ‘Skip A Sinking Stone’ is purpose-built for flipping the sides over on a record. Its first half, taking place in the year that proceeds Mutual Benefit’s debut LP, finds Jordan Lee in what could be considered a settled life – something manifested in its breezy instrumentation and major key meanderings. The second half however sees Lee in New York, gifted with having the time to work on the new record full-time, but dogged by a growing depression. The shift is subtle, but still noticeable. This record is a darker and more considered effort than its predecessor. And though let down somewhat by a fleeting first half, the introspection of the latter manage to make amends. (Dave Beech) LISTEN: ‘City Sirens’
eee OLGA BELL
Tempo (One Little
What is it about Olga Bell’s fascination with memories and time? Her solo debut, ‘Krai’, was a journey back to her Russian past, blending sounds of regional folklore and avant garde electronica. The follow-up, ‘Tempo’, is another time-travelling adventure that plays like a sequel, continuing her rediscovery of a real and imagined past. This time the memories invoked are closer to her new American home. Flickering and darting across a vast sonic plane, the album is a worthwhile expedition and an interesting re-imagining of the past propelled into the future. To dub Olga Bell a complex artist in the vein of Björk wouldn’t be an exaggeration. (Anastasia Connor) LISTEN: ‘Power User’
There’s no raining on Oscar’s parade of bittersweet joy.
OSCAR Cut and Paste (Wichita)
Since Oscar cropped up as part of DIY’s Class of 2016, he’s made a name for himself. Expertly coupling that velveteen baritone croon of his with an endless trunk full of neon-hued Disney t-shirts, Oscar is the country’s leading specialist when it comes to beaming pop tunes served sunny side-up. And whether he’s ‘breaking his phone’ or whispering sweet nothings and ‘Beautiful Words’ in a special someone’s ear, there’s no raining on Oscar Scheller’s parade of bittersweet jangly joy. Many of the recognisable lo-fi moments which stamped his name across music’s sandy terrain in the first place have been glued down onto the tracklist of ‘Cut and Paste,’ too. The muffled, ah-ah filled ‘Daffodil Days’ still shines just as bright, as he sorrowfully begs “don’t waste away,” amid deceptively chipper fields of cheery yellow. ‘Only Friend,’ meanwhile sees Marika Hackman hopping headlong into proceedings – planting seeds of melancholy nostalgia under the roots of their saccharine duet. New single ‘Be Good’ shows Oscar at his strongest yet. It swaggers along, thumbs in braces, quick-stabbing off-beats trading blows with fidgeting, short-circuiting bursts of Game Boy Color. “Whatever it is, you want to say to me, say it to my face,” he challenges, on his most boldly radio-bound song so far. Where Oscar pinpoints his now-trademark push-pull - relentless melodic optimism struggling against self-deprecating and frustration – he’s unstoppable. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Be Good,’ ‘Daffodil Days,’ ‘Breaking My Phone’ 70 diymag.com
eee LAURA MVULA
The Dreaming Room (RCA Victor (Sony))
Laura Mvula’s been open about the fact that the years following ‘Sing to the Moon’ have been trying ones; blighted by anxiety attacks, painful divorces (both her own, and her parents’), and stage fright. To borrow her own words, it hit her hard – like “a very big bus”. The bookies’ favourite to win the Mercury Prize, Mvula’s crease-free debut album success came as a jolting shock. She suddenly found herself a pop star. A little like a dream, in fact, ‘The Dreaming Room’ weaves and wanders into new territory. The rich complexity and insatiable musical palette which made ‘Sing to the Moon’ so compelling remains. Her voice’s often self-conscious veil of anonymity, however, is gone. There’s less held back, here. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Bread’
eeee LITTLE SCREAM
Cult Following (Merge)
Turning emotion into a reason to dance is what Little Scream excels at, and ‘Cult Following’ proves no exception. It might’ve been four years since Laurel Sprengelmeyer released her first album under this alias, but time hasn’t passed idly by. Bigger, bolder, and wholly encompassing in its creation, ‘Cult Following’ is a world of its own making. Cinematic from its very foundation, Little Scream’s second record is 45 minutes of sheer escapism. Fractured, these songs may seem to lose their depth, but together, ‘Cult Following’ is a brand new horizon. (Jessica Goodman) LISTEN: ‘The Kissing’
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Nonagon Infinity (Heavenly)
“My body’s overworked,” shrieks Stu Mackenzie just seconds into ‘Nonagon Infinity’ opener ‘Robot Stop’. It’d be easy to assume it’s a cry for help, this marking King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s ninth album in a career barely five years old. No bunch are churning them out quite like these Aussie nutjobs. Quite possibly the heaviest they’ve ever trod, last year’s dream-pop stopgap ‘Paper Mâché Dream Balloon’ feels like exactly that - a hazy, subconscious memory. ‘Nonagon Infinity’, by contrast, relishes the darkness. Whenever the rhythmic repetition threatens deja vu, they take a left turn, ‘Gamma Knife’ in particular a probing, exploratory box of bells, whistles and harmonicas solos. At some point in the future, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard might run out of ideas, the wind in their ripped and tattered sails fading to a wheeze. For the time being though, they’re one of the most thrilling prospects we’ve got. (Tom Connick) LISTEN: ‘Gamma Knife’, ‘Mr. Beat’
eeee HOODED FANG
Venus on Edge (Daps Records)
From the first few militant stabs of ‘Venus on Edge’ opener ‘Tunnel Vision’, it’s clear the Hooded Fang of 2016 isn’t the zeitgeist-chasing surf-rock wave riding Hooded Fang of 2012 breakthrough ‘Tosta Mista’ (or its largely forgettable 2013 follow-up ‘Gravez’, for that matter). Abrasive, relentless and at points industrial, the Canadians’ fourth full-length bristles with post-punk immediacy, whether the Parquet Courts-gone-Hallowe’en ‘Glass Shadows’, the Yak-a-like standout ‘Miscast’ or the Gary Numan-esque ‘A Final Hello’. There is still a pinch of their past remaining, just now those 50s-aping guitars sound more Cramps than Surfaris. Still, ditching the fuzz seems like the best move possible, because with ‘Venus on Edge’, Hooded Fang have finally found the bite their name promised. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Miscast’, ‘Glass Shadows’
eeee RY X
Dawn (infectious Music)
From alter-ego Howling to The Acid, Ry X has been a man with fingers in many musical pies to say the least, but the distinctive fragility of his performance has remained central to all he’s put his hand to. Rather than attempting to carve out a new niche or stripping everything back to its roots, ‘Dawn’ draws on everything that Ry has absorbed in recent years, and projects with fresh perspective. Six years on from his album as Ry Cuming, ‘Dawn’ is the debut he can truly treasure. (Liam McNeilly) LISTEN: ‘Shortline’
FAMOUS GIZZARDS, LIZARDS AND WIZARDS
Important reference points, if you’re listening to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.
GIZZARD “There’s only one Gizzard!” goes the famous football chant. And indeed there is. One specialised stomach muscle to rule them all. Best not to delve too much into famous gizzards - it’s a bit gross. LIZARD Charlie Brooker once declared that David Cameron is a lizard, which sadly makes him the most famous lizard of them all. And also the most lizard-like. WIZARD Neville
Longbottom. Because he’s the real hero, let’s face it.
Nobody’s churning them out like these Aussie nutjobs. 71
Twin Peaks are masters of their craft. eee KAYTRANADA 99.9% (Xl Recordings)
Bundle his previous Kaytranada releases with those put out under the Kaytradamus moniker, and buzzy producer Louis Kevin Celestin is as prolific as they come. But at the age of twenty-three, ’99.9%’ is his first major work released in the spotlight, a debut album proper where he stamps his trademark on skittering, inventive electronics. Kay treats the big-deal occasion like one giant party, inviting guests AlunaGeorge, Anderson .Paak and Little Dragon like he’s hosting a blog-pop red carpet. It’s his way of showing that whatever the entertainment, he’s always in charge. But it is a work that threatens to find him in the shadows, leaving the spotlight to bigger names. On the basis of this full-length’s finest moments, he’s better than that. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Glowed Up ft. Anderson .Paak’, ‘Together (ft. AlunaGeorge & GoldLink)’.
eee LONELY THE BRAVE
Things Will Matter (Hassle Records)
With their debut, Lonely The Brave found themselves as the fist-pumping, chest-thumping saviours of alt-rock. And while ‘The Day’s War’ wasn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows, the band’s second album is, in truth, an altogether darker affair. Moodier instrumentation and more emotionally-wrought lyrics dominate ‘Things Will Matter’, but the storytelling that made their debut so adored is still present. A foreboding introduction of ‘Wait In The Car’ sets a sombre scene, before Dave Jakes’ hushed vocals explode into life across ‘What If You Fall In’. An album that deals in both heart-on-your-sleeve delicacy and bold assertiveness, it’s an intimate look at the inner workings of the Cambridge group and their demons. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Dust & Bones’
eee CHRIS COHEN
As if Apart (Captured Tracks)
Chris Cohen is the soundtrack for an idyllic summer holiday: the ideal accompaniment to lazy, hazy days under a cloudless sky with nothing on your mind beyond whether to have another mojito. His soft-focus psychedelic pastorales evoke a simpler time than the frenzied world we live in, and therein lies his escapist appeal. Cohen grew up in Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s, the son of a music biz exec and a Broadway actress, and you can tell his childhood was soundtracked by soft rock and psychedelia before he became a self-confessed “Deadhead”. The obvious comparisons are Kurt Vile and Mac DeMarco, though there’s also something of JJ Cale about his determination to plough his lone laid-back furrow untroubled by the influence of anything other than the sun in the sky. (Tim Cooper) LISTEN: ‘In A Fable’ 72 diymag.com
Down in Heaven (Communion Records /
For Chicago rabble-rousers Twin Peaks, life has always been about non-stop celebration. Born of the breaks between tour dates and party nights, ‘Down In Heaven’ is a little slice of paradise. Leaning away from the scuzzed-up aggression that flooded their earlier records, the group sound fresher and more refined. The album ventures through the worries and wonders of the day-to-day with a freewheeling honesty. Twisting and turning conventions to fit a mould of their own making, Twin Peaks are masters of their craft. Coupling a dexterity honed over countless live shows with a wry sense of humour, with ‘Down In Heaven’ the band find their own slice of paradise, primed and ready for anyone else who wants it too. (Jessica Goodman) LISTEN: ‘Cold Lips’
eeee CAR SEAT HEADREST Teens of Denial (Matador)
Car Seat Headrest: it’s one of those nondescript things that could only become even mildly interesting as a musician’s pseudonym. The musician in question is Will Toledo, whose staggering thirteenth LP – he’s still in his twenties, FFS – his latest record being a statement of intent. There’s so much going on here that it can be borderline overwhelming. ‘Just What I Needed/Not Just What I Needed’ epitomises this, a curious Cars-channelling cut that initially nods towards the new wave superstars’ 1978 classic and ultimately departs with a brief rehash of it. It’s ‘Teens of Denial’ all over really: enigmatic, a little deceptive in places, and thoroughly gripping throughout. (Tom Hancock) LISTEN: ‘1937 Skate Park’
eee JESSY LANZA Oh No (Hyperdub)
Jessy Lanza’s debut album ‘Pull My Hair Back’ would be best described as electro R&B, her strong, soulful vocals taking up a lot of the foreground, riding over sharp, Grimes-esque synths. Instrumentation takes the lead role in its follow-up, ‘Oh No’, with the Canadian’s vocal style switching dramatically. The album is much heavier than ‘Pull My Hair Back’ - where synth lines rode calm over prominent vocal lines on her debut, here they swerve and crash through significantly poppier numbers. ‘Oh No’ doesn’t quite signal a reinvention for Lanza, but a move towards one end of her capabilities, one which consistently brings excitement, energy and openings for new paths for her to head down. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘vv violence’
eeee MODERN BASEBALL Holy Ghost (Run for Cover)
It’s been a whirlwind few years for Modern Baseball. Born from Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald’s acoustic first steps, over the past half a decade the quartet have gone from strength-tostrength. With their third record, they’re taking a bolder step. While there are the quieter, more introspective moments – the raw opening title track and mid-point highlight ‘Hiding’ stand out – their third album sees the band sounding more refined and a great deal bigger. They still manage to delve into the perfectly-formed vignettes and clear-cut imagery that lace their early efforts, but striking instrumentation allows their lyrics to hit that much harder, making ‘Holy Ghost’ a truly brilliant full-length. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Mass’
Twin Peaks geek out on their new record. What does the title ‘Down In Heaven’ mean to you? It’s like how people say “another day in paradise”. It felt like a way of greeting. Someone can say “hey, how you doing?” And you can say “I’m down in heaven.” How did your approach to this album differ from your last? We wanted to get a looser, wilder vibe to it. We knew a good way to achieve that was to make and produce a record ourselves. We’re not professionals, so we had almost no choice but to sound sort of warm and a little sloppy. 73
The Dream Is Over (SideOneDummy)
“I’m growing up and giving in,” sings PUP’s Stefan Babcock in ‘Can’t Win’, a statement that, based on the rest of the Canadians’ follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut, he probably doesn’t mean. Theirs is a tightly-wound coil of self-deprecation, wasted opportunity and bubbling-under garage punk. You’d harbour a guess their collective record collections (and recreational activities, for that matter) would match those of kindred spirits FIDLAR and Wavves. Like their Californian peers, PUP have taken the Peter Pan mentality of ‘90s pop-punk (the childishness of Blink-182, the fuck-up lyrics of Green Day, plus a few guitar licks from ‘Blue’ album Weezer for good measure). While ‘The Dream Is Over’ doesn’t quite match the ebullient nature of last year’s ‘Too’ or ‘V’, there’s still much to fall for: the gang vocals in ‘My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier’ are a joy, as is the “ooh” chorus of ‘DVP’. Closer ‘Pine Point’ is also surprisingly sentimental, showing the dark side of PUP isn’t solely inwardlooking. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘DVP’
Pup have a terrifying backstory to their new record. Frontman Stefan Babcock explains the situation.
What’s the story behind the album title? Stefan: We started this seven-week tour with Modern Baseball in America, and on the first day I found out that I had a cyst on my vocal cords and they were haemorrhaging – which kind of means they’re just bleeding into themselves. I went to see a doctor and she diagnosed them, and said to me, straight on, ‘The dream is over.’ I just thought it was such a fuckin’ ridiculous thing to say to a patient. At first I was really confused, I was kinda laughing like, ‘What do you mean? I don’t understand. She was like, ‘this dream of being a ‘rock star’, or whatever it is you’re doing, it’s over.’ I was like, ‘So you’re just telling me to go get a job at the bank or whatever?’ She was like, ‘Yeah, that’s probably what’s best for you right now.’ Which is just so insane, it’s crazy to tell somebody that! Especially when it’s not really accurate. Well, thank fuck you’re not working in a bank! She was just wrong! What she should’ve said was, ‘You’re in a lot of trouble. This is not a good situation – you’re gonna have to go through a lot to get back to what you used to be able to do.’ That’s what the doctor who I saw for a second opinion said, and three months later we were playing shows together. I feel great now, but it was a scary seven weeks on the road, there.
Tired of Tomorrow (Relapse Records)
pening with a swirling haze of sound, Nothing’s second record wastes no time in placing melody right at its heart. Knowing ‘Tired of Tomorrow’s backstory, it’d be easy to assume the record was going to be an aggressivelydriven beast, but its fuzzed-up gorgeousness provides a much more satisfying listen. The Philadelphians’ second full-length gives commanding volume a more beautiful edge. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Curse of the Sun’
“Kumbaya, My Lord!”..
eee PANTHA DU PRINCE
The Triad (Rough Trade)
‘The Triad’ is German techno auteur’s first solo studio album in six years, following ‘Black Noise’, a record that Pantha - otherwise known as Hendrik Weber - composed entirely in a small Berlin apartment. Those expecting bangers will find this a slower-paced, subtler, more meticulously detailed work - by Pantha du Prince standards, anyhow. Yet for every dark, dreary, wintery moment, there’s more than enough of luxurious, melodic techno bliss to make up for it. (Tom Walters) LISTEN: ‘You What? Euphoria!’
ee RICHARD ASHCROFT
These People (Righteous Phonographic
eee THE HOTELIER
Goodness (Tiny Engines)
The Hotelier’s second album ‘Home, Like Noplace Is There’ has become one of the most treasured emo records of the past decade since its release two years back, and the band handed the tag of the American scene’s most promising sons. ‘Goodness’ largely takes the promise of ‘Home...’ and runs with it, with the grit and passion that defined that album still firmly evident. But holding ‘Goodness’ up as a direct counterpart is unfair; it’s a sprawling record which reveals itself more slowly and with greater subtlety, opposed to ‘Home...’’s immediate punch. It presents itself as an almost impossible follow-up, but ‘Goodness’ more than holds its weight, and shows its beauty in time. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘End Of Reel’
eeee JULIANNA BARWICK Will (Dead Oceans)
However avant-garde her music, Julianna Barwick is one of those rare artists that managed, in most underground days, to never lose sight of a pop sensibility. Records formed of sparse instrumentation and achingly emotive vocal loops still had clear hooks, dynamic shifts and a narrative arc that made them uniquely accessible, even if they were perhaps still not mainstreamcompatible. Fast forward several years, ‘Will’ dives into more straightforward terrain while remaining doggedly, indelibly weird. It’s her best all-round effort to date, explorations becoming confident fact. (Alex Lynham) LISTEN: ‘Someway’
eee THE SO SO GLOS Kamikaze (Votiv Music)
The So So Glos’ 2012 album ‘Blowout’ was a soundtrack to last nights. Anxious, angry but determined to make every minute matter, the Brooklyn-based band of brothers overcame with a fearsome determination to have a good time. ‘Kamikaze’ is the aftermath. While there’s no clear-cut directive or a singleminded call to arms on this record, the band’s self-belief never wavers. The So So Glos aren’t back with the answers, only the realisation that the older you get, everything becomes more confusing. Not that that’s ever going to slow them down. (Ali Shutler) LISTEN: ‘Dancing Industry’
Richard Ashcroft has a voice inextricably linked to the 90s. There’s an image of a pouty Rich shoulder-barging his way through Hoxton in even the heads of those born after his band split. Yet oddly on ‘These People’, it’s where he’s trying to change it up that things sound dated. When he’s singing to synthetic beats, or worse, attempting a half-rap (‘Ain’t The Future So Bright’) it’s impossible to ignore the dad-dancing vibes. And it’s a shame - who’d force an artist to keep the same sound forever? But when given glimpses of how richly he can deliver a song uncluttered, it’s impossible to un-hear. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘This Is How It Feels’, ‘Picture of You’
eee MARISSA NADLER Strangers (Bella Union)
Marissa Nadler’s gradual shift from playful folk to the ethereal is like an evolution from quaint sketches to watercolour. This latest album, ‘Strangers’, feels like the natural next step in her process, with more complex instrumentation coupled with echoey, “bigger” production. The album as a whole has such a limited palette, and doesn’t hugely feel like it’s going anywhere. What starts off as gliding in opener ‘Divers of the Dust’ has morphed into plodding by ‘Janie In Love’. It doesn’t help that the lyrics aren’t very captivating, either. Substance is lacking in places it’s needed the most. (Nina Keen) LISTEN: ‘Divers of the Dust’
•••••COMING Up••••• TEGAN AND SARA
Love You to Death
Ash & Ice
SHURA Nothing’s Real
Already a deadly duo, these two are going stratospheric with their new record, out 3rd June. This month’s cover stars are in ridiculously good form for their latest, out 3rd June. Alt-pop hero Shura is finally bringing out her first work on 8th July.
Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
ummelled by sharp-cutting stabs of rainbow, light-spore flecked cameo netting, and liberal spearings of piercing green lasers, Brixton tonight resembles a children’s birthday party fuelled by dangerously hyperactive levels of sherbet dib-dab. London has waited four years for Grimes to return. In that time, Claire Boucher hasn’t shed her onstage shyness, but she’s also smashed down every boundary and creative limitation in sight. Once a bloopy cog operating in the shadows, Grimes returns an auteur, at the wheel of full-blown gaudy pop pandemonium. In a single moment, ‘Art Angels’ bursts into life on stage, and even Brixton’s enormous sound system creaks under the strain of Grimes’ earth-shattering bass-pounds. Flanked by support act HANA, and a couple of dancers tasked with whipping the room up into a frenzy, Grimes is bounding across the stage, rapping in Russian (of course), and unleashing hell-raising screams of glee as she plays ‘Scream’ minus Aristophanes. Running amock through her own vision, and delighting in every saturated second, ‘Go’ turns the cavernous venue into a sweaty, closely-packed basement dive, and ‘Oblivion’ ducks and dives with new unbridled mischief. It all prompts a dazzled Grimes to yell “be careful not to crush your peers!” Hiding behind her hands as the foot-stomping celebrations refuse to die down, she may be nervy and awkward when it comes to public speaking, but no matter. Who needs mundane stage patter at a show that leaves its audience wide-eyed and speechless? And for that matter, who wants silly small talk, when there’s very serious real talk - Grimes’ insanely ambitious craft - instead? She chooses to pass on the traditional encore, too, but then again, sticking to convention has never been her style. “I am terribly shy so once I’m gone it’s just too much,” she tells the roaring crowd, before diving headlong into ‘Kill V. Maim’. Garish, confrontational, powerful, brash, and let loose like a lopped kite in the wind, Brixton seems to shake down to its foundations tonight. It’s not used to hosting many artists quite like Grimes. (El Hunt)
Garish, confrontational, powerful, and brash. 77
e are a band called Chvrches, and we haven’t played Glasgow for a very long time…” Lauren Mayberry stands triumphant atop a tiny podium on a gigantic stage, in front of a rapturous, packed-out arena. Yep, Chvrches are filling arenas - and this victory is so much more than a matter of numbers. The synth champs last gigged in their home city in 2014, but a lot’s changed since then. It’s a Saturday night, and it feels like a birthday party. Earlier in the evening, a confident, capable Shura tackled the gargantuan space head on, and Glasgow’s favourite sad boys The Twilight Sad came out fighting with typically melancholic vigour, throwing down heavyweights like ‘I Became A Prostitute’ and ‘Nil’ to a swollen, roaring crowd.
SSE Hydro, Glasgow. Photo: Ryan Johnston.
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Then the lights flicker, and Martin Doherty and Iain Cook emerge, taking their places on tech-heavy, Star-Trekesque risers. Mayberry runs out to the brim of the stage, soaking up every inch of the view. Opening with ‘Never Ending Circles’ and flying straight into ‘We Sink’, Chvrches’ thunderous choruses-upon-choruses have always packed some seriously cathartic weight, but tonight the trio truly hit home… several thousand times over. “Raise your hand if you’re related to Martin!” Mayberry laughs, pausing for a breathless shout-out and a quick wave to the band’s extended family. Deservedly confident and obviously at ease, Chvrches transform this space-ship sized spectacle into an intimate “home-front” gig; a word-perfect, emotional crowd responds to every track as if it’s a Greatest Hits compilation, and an ecstatic run of ‘Recover’, ‘Clearest Blue’ and ‘Leave A Trace’ sees the band fall in, hard. By now even the highest balconies are upstanding, swaying arm in arm. ‘The Mother We Share’ closes out this long awaited home-town victory lap; a gargantuan production that still feels like a family affair. (Katie Hawthorne)
A gargantuan production that still feels like a family affair.
Jehnny Beth spots a phone, plans her next move.
Roundhouse, London. Photos: Emma Swann
he final night of their European tour, and ‘Adore Life’ has transformed Savages into a band operating on a new plain. As the band first started to tease out strands of their second album during last summer’s festival season, a new warmth started to sear and charr the edges of their notoriously brutal live show. Now, that warmth has become a glowing, strobing furnace; reaching every last inch of the Roundhouse. Ayşe Hassan’s monstrously diving bass lines still plunk and shatter the air like a concreteblock-solid assault, push-pulling with Gemma Thompson’s squalling noise-guitars, and drummer Fay Milton’s underworld-borne pulse. Jehnny Beth remains a fearsome frontwoman, but she’s also opened out to her audience like an unfurling piece of black-jacketed origami, smirking and joshing with the entire, cavernous room. ‘I Am Here’ kicks off the show in swooping, clattering fashion, and true to title, Savages have never been more present. Savages were already blisteringly good with their iron guards up and the fourth wall unlooked through. Tonight, making full unbroken eye contact,
they’re sensational. Savages have already called London their home once tonight; later, they demonstrate just how true that statement is. Squatting in front of a smoky, razor-edged beam of light to address the front row during ‘Hit Me’, Jehnny Beth slowly tosses shoes and socks to one side, and proceeds to carefully trample and stumble into the middle of the 1,700-strong crowd like she’s traversing a downy living room carpet rather than an ocean of heads. “Steady, steady… are you ready?” she quivers theatrically, keeping things on a knife-edge before, eventually, throwing herself back towards the stage, in order to survey the mayhem. “More of this action!” she bellows, throwing her head back and laughing as a hapless crowd surfer tumbles over the front barrier. Savages don’t just put on a stage show, they envelope the whole place in their blinding, retina-hitting spectacle, as the swooning, soaring anthem for zest, ‘Adore’ takes over in a sea of cover-art mimicking raised fists. It seems impossible to imagine a show more flawless than this, and yet there’s a sense Savages have still got springs and springs of coiled kinetic potential left in them yet to rip-roar loose. (El Hunt)
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Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Emma Swann
eezer don’t visit the UK very often. Before tonight, their last was July 2011, and the last time they came close to a tour was a trio of dates in 2005. To call tonight ‘eagerly-anticipated’ is one massive understatement: there are screams long before a note rings out. While the idea of greeting songs like long-lost friends may be little more than a trope, by virtue of the band’s relative absence from stages over here, tonight, it’s pretty much spot-on. It isn’t lost on the band themselves, either. Bassist Scott Shriner gazes out atop drummer Patrick Wilson’s riser, visibly taken aback at the audibly devoted throng in front. Even their set feels like a thank you; there’s a nod to almost all previous eras, from ‘My Name Is Jonas’, ‘Say It Ain’t So’, ‘Undone – The Sweater Song’, ‘Buddy Holly’ from ‘Blue’, ‘El Scorcho’ and ‘The Good Life’, ‘Hash Pipe’ and ‘Island In The Sun’’, ‘Beverly Hills’... even 1996 B-side ‘You Gave Your Love To Me Softly’ gets a look in, guitarist Brian Bell taking on lead vocals. And by scattering about the five numbers on show from the freshly-released ‘White’ album, they’re able to show how easily they slip in as Weezer canon. ‘King of the World’ is an insta-hit, opener ‘California Kids’ welcomes the band on stage as well as anything, and ‘L.A. Girlz’, ‘Do You Wanna Get High?’ and ‘Thank God For Girls’ slip in seamlessly. “See you at Reading and Leeds... and Glastonbury!” Rivers yells from the stage, a promise to return there’s 5,000 people in South London begging him to keep. (Emma Swann)
years&Years Wembley Arena, London. Photos: Carolina Faruolo.
ith Emre Turkmen and Mikey Goldsworthy appearing beneath laser beams before frontman Olly Alexander emerges on a rising platform from beneath the stage, Years & Years’ show tonight has all the pomp of an arena spectacle from the get-go. “This is already the best night of my life… I’m wearing a crop top for god’s sake!”, Olly announces after tearing through the early-set onetwo of ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘Worship’. There are aspects of the singer’s presence that now thrive in all of their extravagant majesty, but his underlying humility continues to be a massive draw, too - his vocal occasionally interrupted by sheepish giggles as he clocks on to people or banners in the crowd. Reams have been written about the use of his platform to champion social justice causes and there’s little more to say in that respect, but after an LGBT flag emblazoned with the Years & Years logo and an illustration of Mikey’s cat lands on the stage, it’s soon draped around Olly’s shoulders as the climax of ‘Gold’ takes hold. It’s a poignant moment to say the least, amid the night’s celebrations. Tonight’s encore sees the band turn ‘The Boy Is Mine’ in to a thumping electro-pop hit with support MØ, before drawing the curtain on a defining night with ‘King’. For most, closing their debut Wembley appearance in such a fashion would be a career high, but for Years & Years, it’s just the next stepping stone in an ascent that feels limitless. The outlook’s not bad for a group that tonight confirm themselves as the pop band the UK needs. (Liam McNeilly)
Frightened Rabbit Boston Arms, London. Photo: Robin Pope
Glasgow show two nights ago aside, tonight is Frightened Rabbit’s first gig for two years, and first in London since they triumphed at Brixton Academy. Easing themselves back in with a not-so-secret gig under the name Footshooters, it’s like the band never knew how much they were missed. For every insight into the upcoming ‘Painting Of A Panic Attack’, there’s an older song to join it, with ‘The Modern Leper’ and ‘Living In Colour’ greeted like old companions. There are still drinking songs (‘I Wish I Was Sober’), still crushing, bare-bones acoustic numbers, and still those famed euphoric choruses. Their grit hasn’t gone anywhere on the new songs, either. The band’s anthems for the miserable feel as potent and affecting here as they have in big concert halls. Tonight shows Frightened Rabbit are starting to look content to live in the world they’ve built. (Will Richards)
Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham. Photo: Sam Wood
The Forum, London. Photo: Carolina Faruolo. VRIS do things seamlessly. A swamped tour schedule since their first London visit - they debuted at the Barfly just over a year ago - has made them more than capable of dominating larger stages. Dates with Bring Me The Horizon and Fall Out Boy; festivals from Warped Tour to Reading & Leeds and Slam Dunk - it’s no wonder this Forum show, still part of the run for debut ‘White Noise’, is accomplished. They’re now experienced enough to shift scenes from electronic flourished selections to pure rock. Tonight each number from ‘White Noise’ gets a run through - for any outsiders it’d be tough to pick out the singles, such is the fevered reaction to each track from opener ‘Smoke’ onwards. It’s frontwoman Lynn Gunn who spearheads the group on stage - guitarist Alex Babinski and bassist Brian Macdonald remain largely hidden - but when she commands such an immense presence, who’d blame them? Occasionally ditching her guitar completely to take on full kinetic mode, she exudes a confidence that doesn’t lose a row of this sold-out room.
resh from the release of debut album ‘From Caplan To Belsize’, Muncie Girls are only just starting to showcase what they’re capable of. Performing power punk at its most empowering, the Exeter trio waste no time in making their voices heard. Now performing in front of a packed room, there’s no ignoring the force behind them. Centring their set on older material, Muncie Girls bring their music to life. Tackling issues of feminism, politics, and self-worth with an arsenal of poppy hooks and ceaseless energy, the outfit wear their values on their sleeves, and the result is captivating. Frontwoman Lande Hekt effortlessly charms the room, her slightly understated performance allowing her words to be the driving focus. And for as long as they’re on stage - from the misogynydamning calls of ‘Respect’ to the rallying get-upand-do cries of ‘Learn In School’ - those words are the only things that matter. (Jessica Goodman)
It’s PVRIS’ all-encompassing attitude that’s allowed them to rise this far - tonight shows there’s no limit. (Niall Cunningham) 81
INDIE DREAMBOAT Of the Month
Jack Antonoff Bleachers Full name: Jack Michael Antonoff Nickname: Ducky Star Sign: Aries Pets? A small terroir, truly a rude dog Favourite Film? Noises Off Favourite Food? Razor clams Drink of choice? Cranberry juice and seltzer Signature scent? I wish I had one! Favourite hair product? Don’t put things in my hair – it grosses me out. What song would you play to woo someone? ‘Heart of Saturday Night’ by Tom Waits If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing? Still skateboarding without fear of breaking my writer and ruining everything Chat up line of choice? Like a pick-up line? Help?
Featuring a cover feature with The Kills, interviews with Yak, Weezer, White Lung, Oscar and Flume, a look ahead to new records from Biffy C...