set music free free / issue 57 / November 2016 diymag.com
THIS YEARâ€™S SUPERSTARS
BIFFY CLYRO e CHVRCHES CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS & LOADS MORE
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N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 6
GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
Emma Swann Founding Editor GOOD 2017’s album announcements coming thick and fast! January’s looking BUMPER. EVIL Missing out on Sleigh Bells’ London gig to get this issue off to print. That’s dedication. .............................. tom connick Online Editor GOOD Arab Strap, Weaves, Dilly Dally, Parquet Courts, Turnover - October was jam-packed with some of the year’s best nights. EVIL Four Tet’s Brixton all-nighter broke me in half. Win some, lose some. .............................. El hunt Features Editor GOOD I won a
parmesan-themed holiday. I never win anything. EVIL All future gigs are going to have such a tough time topping Noname’s first ever London show. .............................. Jamie MILTon Neu Editor GOOD Helping to put together DIY’s Class of 2017. It’s a good ‘un. EVIL Seeing Justin Bieber live. The poor lad needs a two-year holiday on a remote island with nobody bothering him. .............................. Louise Mason Art Director GOOD This could be the best Class Of theme we’ve ever come up with. EVIL We’re on our way to getting banned from every photo studio in East London.
EDITOR’S LET TER
See that face on our cover this month? That’s Our Kev. The same Kev who prepped the Pyramid Stage for Adele at Glastonbury, managed to nab a BRIT Award, and was recruited to work on Mark Ronson’s dream team for Lady Gaga’s newest album. Safe to say, he’s had an alright year, so what better way than to round up this (rather bizarre) twelve months than by catching up with the Tame Impala frontman as he settles back into Aussie life, to try to make sense of it all. He’s not the only star we’re celebrating this issue. This one’s packed to the brim with our Sweet ‘16, aka our favourite artists from 2016. Chvrches, Biffy Clyro, Christine and the Queens, Yak, they’re all up there. And that’s not all! We’re giving you, dear readers, the chance to have your say too – check out our Reader’s Poll on p.63 and let us know who’s made your year. Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor GOOD We may have something rather special up our sleeves for this year’s Class Of issue. Keep your eyes peeled… EVIL Guys, it’s still a bit too soon to start announcing tours for May 2017.
LISTENING POST What’s on the DIY stereo this month?
Japandroids • Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
Canada’s finest thrashers are back with a vengeance. Loud, gnarly triumphs possess their third album. There’s an extra dose of chart-ready ambition, too.
Vant • Dumb Blood
Ballsy politics and gigantic hooks define Mattie Vant and co.’s debut, ensuring 2017 is off to a flyer. 3
C O N T E N T S
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor El Hunt Neu Editor Jamie Milton Online Editor Tom Connick Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Marketing & Events Jack Clothier, Rhi Lee Contributors Alex Cabré, Alim Kheraj, Betty Townley, Cady Siregar, Dan Jeakins, Danny Wright, Eugenie Johnson, Heather McDaid, Henry Boon, Joe Goggins, Liam Konemann, Lisa Wright, Rachel Michaella Finn, Rhys Buchanan, Samantha Daly, Tom Hancock, Tom Walters, Will Richards. Photographers Ben McQuaide, Betty May, Cat Stevens, Carolina Faruolo, Daniel Boud, Duncan Elliott, Ed Miles, Jonathan Dadds, Lewis Evans, Luke Hannaford, Matt Richardson, Mike Massaro, Robin Pope, Pooneh Ghana, Sarah Louise Bennett, Sinéad Grainger. For DIY editorial firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org tel: +44 (0)20 3632 3456 For DIY stockist enquiries email@example.com 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. Cover photo: Pooneh Ghana
6 JAW S 1 2 T H E JA PA N ES E H O U S E 1 4 S TAN D FO R S O M E T H I N G TO U R 18 SAD13 2 1 P O P S TAR P O S T BAG 2 4 D I Y H A L L O F FA M E
NEU 28 30 31 34
M I YA F O L I C K HAZEL ENGLISH ALEX LAHEY SKOT T
3 8 TA M E I M PA L A 46 CHVRCHES 4 8 B I F F Y C LY R O 5 2 D I L LY D A L LY & W E AV E S 56 CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS 6 0 YA K
REVIEWS 64 ALBUMS 76 LIVE Photo: Mike Massaro
THE NEW BAND FROM NICK VALENSI
NEW SKIN THE DEBUT ALBUM OUT NOW PRODUCED BY JOSH HOMME
Connor was yet to notice the ‘Kick Me’ sign on his back.
IT felt like we had more to say than ‘let’s go the beach’.” Connor Schofield
Keen to trade in their beachy, sunny-side-up sound for something more concrete, JAWS don’t just tighten up on their second album. ‘Simplicity’ is a total reinvention. Words: Rhys Buchanan. Photos: Emma Swann.
ART OF SIMPLICITY
AWS are a rare case - a band who managed to survive the hype. After losing a member (bassist Jake Cooper left for ‘personal reasons’), it hasn’t taken long for the Birmingham band to start pushing their sound into new directions. “It felt like we had more to say than ‘Let’s go the beach’ when we were writing this album,” jokes frontman Connor Schofield today.
Connor is a mellow presence, yet there’s a tone to his voice that suggests he can’t wait to get back out on the road; back in the thick of it. He’s taken on a job in a shoe shop to kill the dullness. “When you come home you feel a bit lost,” he admits. “I’ve had to go and work to save me from losing my mind to pure boredom.” Their second record’s story began some time ago. Recorded at Veil studios in Worcester with Gethin Pearson, true to its name, ‘Simplicity’ was done quickly, turning over a track each day. This approach proved tough for the band. “It was so intense,” Connor says, “but we knew it was going to be like that. It was a case of getting up at eight in the morning and going to bed at four in the morning. The producer and engineer were so confident in us, and the songs, that it kept us going. That and pizza,” he smiles. “We had a lot of pizza.” It hasn’t all been plain sailing, mind. Recording as a trio wasn’t something they’d experienced before. Upon broaching the topic, Connor takes a lengthy pause and tries to dig around
for words which won’t offend. “Yeah, that was a bit of a nightmare,” he says. JAWS, after all, are mainly driven by Connor, who writes the music as well as assembling the bare bones and structure of each song. There were a massive amount of songs in the bag this time around, and it was quite a straightforward process cutting out the dead wood, Connor says. “The good ones were the ones that we were always playing,” he reasons. “The songs that stand the test of time and stick with us in the practice room end up being best.” JAWS found themselves with around twenty-five tracks ready to refine. “We write whether we’re alone or together,” he explains. “If I pick up my guitar in a soundcheck and do something cool, then I’ll remember it and whack it into a song. It’s all over the place, but that works for us.” Despite having the material ready to go, there was no rush behind the record. Connor takes a confident stance on their position, shrugging off any pressure. “We don’t worry about that stuff because we’ve got stronger at writing and playing the instruments,” he says. “Not to sound big-headed but that’s what happens when you play shows all the time and make it your life.” The only nerves that ever creep in, he concedes, arrive during the final weeks before the album hits the shelves. “It’s like ‘Are people going to enjoy it?’,” he asks no-one in particular. In some ways, it doesn’t really feel like JAWS have been away. Keeping a constant live presence, they’ve been drip-feeding us singles along the way too. Now, though, they’re much wiser than before. “Looking back at the first album I might have changed a few things and put different songs on there,” Connor states. “What can you do though? It’s all part of learning how everything works. When we started the band we rushed into a lot of things where we should have been patient. With this record we’ve been a bit more patient.” It seems to have been the right approach. It only takes a listen to early single ‘Right in Front of Me’ to notice there’s far more embedded in the music. “I just thought, if we want
Oh, there we go… 8 diymag.com
circles were going for a few years back. Connor agrees. “It wasn’t intentional, but those kind of lyrics would have made the music pointless and dead.”
WHAT’S IN A
Although it might seem pretty, well... simple at first glance, the album title itself packs a clear message. “There’s a song on the album called ‘A Brief Escape From Life’,“ Connor says. “‘Simplicity’ was the original name for that, but we wanted it for the album title. It’s about taking a step back, and noticing that everything is quite simple if you see it that way,” he explains. So, it’s a metaphor, huh? to be taken seriously, I’m going to try and actually say something this time,” Connor says, firmly. “I’m so bad with words it’s funny, but I just tried to express myself better than on the first record.” There’s an underlying attempt to break out of the sun-struck sound that many bands in JAWS’
Instead of pondering over the latest craze, the trio took an old-school approach, making sure that every song on their new effort was playable live. “You can do everything on a laptop these days,” Connor reasons, “but we felt it was important to actually be able to play the music. We did a bit of layering on the first album, and it was hard to play live.” JAWS are back and ready to seize the spotlight, and they’re damn excited about getting out there. “I can’t wait, because we recorded this so long ago now,” Connor grins. “We’ve been trying to not play the songs at practice so they stay new to us. Now we are actually playing them, it’s all really exciting again.” Connor can forget the shoe shop for now. JAWS are back in business. JAWS’ new album ‘Simplicity’ is out now. DIY
18 NOV 2016 INCLUDES ‘SAFE & SOUND’ ‘RANDY’ AND ‘ALAKAZAM!’ “A JOYOUS RECORD” DAZED
“ASSURED, ACCOMPLISHED AND CONFIDENT” MIXMAG
C HRISTINE AND THE QUEENS CHALEUR HUMAINE / ALBUM OUT NOW - INCLUDES ‘TILTED’ & ‘SAINT CLAUDE’ Q Magazine
“A PERFECT ANTIDOTE TO POP CONSERVATISM”
ALBUM OF THE WEEK The Sunday Times
ALBUM OF THE WEEK The Guardian
ALBUM OF THE WEEK The Observer
– DELUXE EDITION – I NCLUDES 6 BO NUS TRACKS + LI V E PERFO RM ANCE DVD FRO M Z ENI TH LI LL E, F RANCE AVAI LABLE 25TH NOVEMBER
e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e NEWS
“Are you lookin’ at me?” PRIDES brought a new live line-up to Boston Music Room showing off yet more euphoric synth anthemsin-waiting as they prepare LP2.
headed nth we s ton o m t s a l o n ’s b o a t o l o n d , a r m e d w it h m o ds, o n r a b ic t s a u e m l of gr h a n d f u f in d o u t. to ann p h o to s:
E m m a sw
e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e
Hello Prides! How are you? Smashing thanks! You? We’re good, thanks for asking! You played the DIY All Dayer last month - how was it to be back in the capital? It was really great. We’ve been away for a while so it was nice to be back out on the road. We always have an amazing time in London, it definitely feels like our home away from home. You also just did a bit of a UK tour: what was it like to get back out on the road and air some new songs? We’ve got a few extra guys joining us on stage now, and we had a lot of fun! And yeah, trying out new songs live is always a little daunting, but it’s a great way to get a reaction, and see how people feel about them.
EAT FAST turned the scuzz factor up to 11 from the offset, the Geordies fresh off tour with Oct cover stars, Honeyblood.
ANCE got their TRUDY AND THE ROM us 50s-tinged ctio infe with on p doo -wo er’s Oliv n tma fron and es melodi ble. trademark throat wob
WILL JOSEPH COOK and band amped up the singersongwriter’s catchy-as-fuck indie pop for a set chock-full of future dancefloor fillers.
What comes next then? Have you got a big plan in place for 2017 yet? Album number two is on its way! We’ll be all over the place, cannae wait!
Making From taking influence from Miley Cyrus to sharing a studio with Robbie Williams, the road to The Japanese House’s new EP was as weird as they come. Words: Tom Connick. Photo: Mike Massaro.
waves A mber Bain doesn’t do ordinary. From launching “’Leon’’s really old – I wrote that before ‘Still’, so probably her first music as The Japanese House with a when I was like sixteen,” she admits. Huge lead single ‘Face Zane Lowe nod, to leaping aboard a six-month Like Thunder’ was also birthed way before debut EP ‘Pools To arena tour with The 1975 before she’d even Bathe In’, Amber and co-producer George Daniel of The 1975 shifted her early-days stage fright, everything’s rejigging the track to fit their newfound production prowess. been next-level bonkers from day one. When she admits to having shared producer Guy Chambers’ studio space “I actually originally wrote that first verse as a joke,” Amber with Robbie Williams himself, it barely raises an eyebrow. laughs, “because I’d just listened to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Adore You’ “I went in two or three times, and in between times Robbie and I was like ‘I bet I could write a pop song!’ I just decided to Williams was in the studio. I actually finish it after three years of having it. I used his laptop charger – I wrote him a guess, if you strip that back, it’s a really note, dunno if he saw it,” she smiles. “I sad, slow song - I just wanted it to sound “i made my EP in can’t believe that I made my EP in the like a really weird, 80s Cyndi Lauper,” she the same studio as same studio as ‘Party Like A Russian’!” states, only slightly sarcastically. she laughs, nodding to Robbie’s frankly batshit new single. Following those huge ‘Leon’, meanwhile, takes influence from arena dates, she’s finally over the jitters, the 1994 film of the same name and its too – mostly through learning to deal depiction of love that exists outside sociwith her near-constant embarrassing ety’s rules and expectations – “I think it’s antics. Forgetting the words to her own songs and on-stage interesting that there is a slight blurred line between what is shoelace malfunctions are common occurrences – “Tying your acceptable when people are just hopelessly in love with each shoelaces, with a guitar on, on stage, is really awkward. You other,” she confesses. “When is that ‘wrong’? Is that just what just have to crouch down and get on with it,” she offers by way I’ve been told to think?” It’s evidence, were it needed, that the of (admittedly niche) advice. sad-pop foundations of The Japanese House have long-since been built upon. “But then it kinda also is about when I got Among all this calamity and celeb-spotting, the ‘Swim Against broken up with, “ she laughs, “because that always seeps in!” The Tide’ EP took shape. Like the two releases before it, Amber trawled her teenage songbook for much of the record, piecing The Japanese House’s new EP ‘Swim Against The Tide’ is it together on long tour bus stints and snatched studio time. out on 11th November via Dirty Hit. DIY
‘Party Like A Russian’!”
STAND FOR R U O T G N I H T E SOM 2016 IT TO FO R M ATIO N TA KE POOL C H U RC H IN LIV E R
14 14 diymag.com diymag.com
VANT and You Me At Six are set to wrap up the Dr. Martens Stand For Something Tour in style.
The cowbell-toting duo are supported by local boys Vynce at the city’s Scandinavian Church. Words: El Hunt. Photo: Emma Swann.
strange stack of red brick triangles, hidden beside Liverpool’s harbour, the Scandi Church’s looming white arches swallow up sound and spit it out again a hundred times as loud. Lit by golden candles and the purple glow of an altar, locals Vynce – who hail from the Wirral – kick-start the action at this first leg of the Dr. Martens Stand For Something Tour 2016. Despite frontman Peter Pegasiou’s claims that he’s got the lurgy - “if anyone from Formation is in here, I’d anti-bac this mic before you use it,” he jokes - he and the rest of Vynce are on razor-sharp form. ‘Taste’ fidgets and jerks with angular twinkles of guitar, while ‘Lust’’s echoing waves, and thrashing cymbals ring out between the church’s bright blue pews. Underneath a glowing blue cross – conveniently the same symbol that covers their ‘Under the Tracks’ EP – Formation live up to their earlier promises to “deconsecrate” the church, creating an almighty racket in the process. Their set is one that looks forward to their debut album – with brand new cuts like the anthemic synth-stabs of ‘A Friend’ and the epic six-minute ‘Ring’ showing ever more diverse sides to the band – also nodding back to their earliest formative (ahem) moments. Will Ritson, sipping casually on a mint tea, decides that tonight’s intimate surroundings befit a quiet moment of reflection, and the band air their “only ballad” ‘Waves’, too; their debut track which has since disappeared from the internet entirely. Grinning slyly across at his twin brother Matt – headbanging at the keyboards like he’s in the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ scene in Wayne’s World – Will’s a dynamic, cowbell-wielding machine. Mounting the drum kit, bashing various items of percussion like they’re his sworn enemies, Formation are a devilishly good band, in contrast to tonight’s holy surroundings.
ith frontman Mattie hailing from just around the corner - just down in harbour town Seaham VANT’s show ‘oop north’ is undoubtedly going to be a special one. Taking place at the city’s infamous Cluny, the quartet are already excited about returning to their (er, sort of) creative birthplace. “I’ve played there in various incarnations over the years,” Mattie remembers. “The Ouseburn Valley is a North East hub of creativity and it has an amazing atmosphere, especially around the time of Evolution Emerging. The Cluny is at the heart of the area and kick-started the whole scene.” It’s not just the venue itself that has a special place in the band’s heart - it’s the region as a whole. “There has and continues to be a brilliant music scene,” he continues, “and it’s nice to return and be a brief part of it on the odd occasion, now I live away from home. Half of us are from the North East so it’s been beautiful to see Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough all embrace the band at such an early stage in our career.” VANT play The Cluny in Newcastle on 12th November.
YOU ME AT SIX
ight now, You Me At Six are in the middle of a European tour, drumming up excitement for forthcoming album ‘Night People’. Having already completed a huge run across the UK, it’s safe to say that things are reaching fever pitch for the band - their teeny tiny show at Dingwalls later this month is set to be unmissable.
THE DATES 12.11.16 VANT
The Cluny, Newcastle
YOU ME AT SIX
After releasing four albums - and reaching the dizzying heights of arenas off the back of them - it’s with their upcoming full-length, however, that they finally seem ready to take a defiant leap into the unknown. “It’s a completely new era for the band,” frontman Josh Franceschi states, opening up about their intentions for this album. “We completely detached ourselves from music over the past eighteen months because we didn’t want any distractions, or anyone to influence our sound. We’ve gone and made a record in Nashville with the intention of making a record that has no attachment to a scene, or a period of time. We’ve just tried to do our own thing and the reason we put [album title track] ‘Night People’ out there first was to show that the rulebook had been thrown out.” You Me At Six play Dingwalls in London on 26th November.
MENACE BEACH & BELLEVUE DAYS
BRING THE NOISE The two bands brought frenetic scuzziness to Curtain Road’s Queen of Hoxton for Jäger Curtain Call.
arlier this year, Jäger Curtain Call took over Shoreditch’s Curtain Road and transformed it into a hub of opportunity for new bands. Our new endeavour with Jägermeister saw three artists - all who had reached a crucial tipping point in their career invited to head into the studio, record a new track and play a show, all on the same stretch of road. Now that autumn is officially upon us, Jäger Curtain Call is back and on Curtain Road once again. The first band to take to the stage tonight are Bellevue Days, and from the off there’s a brilliance about the Croydon quartet. A set packed with anthemic songs, telling tales of hazy drunken nights and youthful pessimism, they’re a band who really come to life in the live environment. ‘Manic March’ - the track they recorded last month just up the road at Strongroom Studios - sits pretty in among their older offerings, all jittering and frenetic. Littered with raw voices and spine-tingly shouts, it tops off a great set that proves the best is yet to come from this lot.
This evening marks a welcome return for Menace Beach. Having spent the past few months burrowed away working on second album, ‘Lemon Memory’, the Leeds quintet’s set tonight is a scuzzy breath of fresh air. While they may not have played so many shows recently, you wouldn’t know: their gorgeous rhythms are roughed up around the edges perfectly, with favourites like ‘Tennis Court’ and ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ re-energised on stage. Tonight’s also the perfect opportunity to air a few slices of new material. With the news of LP2 now out in the open, they waste little time in providing a glimpse at its inner workings. Still possessing the grungy heart of what they did so well on ‘Ratworld’, the new tracks aired – including album opener ‘Give Blood’ - see the band experimenting more with the idea of simplicity and space. Nestling in brilliantly amongst the chaos-driven offerings from their debut, tonight marks a new chapter for the band, and it looks to be a promising one. DIY
up next: HAWK EYES
aving already played host to both Bellevue Days and Chichester trio TRAAMS both recording brand new tracks at Strongroom Studios before those Queen of Hoxton live sets - Leeds’ infamous experimental metallers Hawk Eyes are now joining in the fun. They’ll be live at The Old Blue Last on 17th December. Tickets are on sale now. Head to diymag.com/jagercurtaincall for more details.
P R E S E N T S
EARL 04 | 11 | 16 LONDON ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH W DAWES 04 | 11 | 16 LONDON ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY PJ HARVEY 04 | 11 | 16 WOLVERHAMPTON STARWORKS WAREHOUSE JACK SAVORETTI 05 | 11 | 16 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY T SOLD OU
08 | 11 | 16 NORWICH UEA, THE NICK RAYNS LCR • 09 | 11 | 16 LONDON EVENTIM APOLLO
ROCH 11 | 11 | 16 LONDON THE NINES FENNE LILY 16 | 11 | 16 LONDON ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH • 23 | 11 | 16 BRISTOL LORD MAYOR’S CHAPEL EMANUEL AND THE FEAR 18 | 11 | 16 LONDON THE ISLINGTON BOY KILL BOY 19 | 11 | 16 • 25 | 11 | 16 LONDON OSLO JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN & BENJAMIN LAZAR DAVIS 21 | 11 | 16 LONDON HEAVEN TEENAGE FANCLUB 22 | 11 | 16 LONDON ELECTRIC BALLROOM • 26 | 11 | 16 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE T SOLD OU
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29 | 11 | 16 BRISTOL UNIVERSITY • 30 | 11 | 16 CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION • 26 | 02 | 17 LONDON O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE
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29 | 11 | 16 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE • 04 | 03 | 17 LONDON TROXY
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29 | 11 | 16 BIRMINGHAM TOWN HALL • 30 | 11 | 16 MANCHESTER ALBERT HALL
PIXIES 28 | 11 | 16 • 29 | 11 | 16 • 06 | 12 | 16 LONDON BRIXTON O2 ACADEMY T SOLD OU
T SOLD OU
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07 | 12 | 16 CARDIFF MOTORPOINT ARENA • 08SO|LD12OU| 16T BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY
STEVIE PARKER 29 | 11 | 16 BRISTOL LOUISIANA 30 | 11 | 16 LONDON DALSTON VICTORIA • 14 | 12 | 16 LONDON PECKHAM RYE WAX BAD SOUNDS 30 | 11 | 16 BRISTOL EXCHANGE SUPER FURRY ANIMALS 02 | 12 | 16 ABERYSTWYTH ARTS CENTRE
03 | 12 | 16 LLANDUDNO VENUE CYMRU • 04 | 12 | 16 NORWICH UEA, THE NICK RAYNS LCR • 06 | 12 | 16 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY 07 | 12 | 16 BOURNEMOUTH O2 ACADEMY • 08 | 12 | 16 LONDON ROUNDHOUSE • 09 | 12 | 16 LONDON ROUNDHOUSE 10 | 12 | 16 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE • 13 | 12 | 16 BRIGHTON DOME • 15 | 12 | 16 LEEDS O2 ACADEMY • 17 | 12 | 16 CARDIFF MOTORPOINT ARENA
THE FRONT BOTTOMS 03 | 12 | 16 LONDON O2 FORUM RICHARD HAWLEY 05 | 12 | 16 SHEFFIELD CITY HALL THE DUNWELLS 09 | 12 | 16 BRISTOL LOUISIANA RATIONALE 23 | 01 | 17 BRISTOL FLEECE W GET INUIT 25 | 01 | 17 LONDON LEXINGTON CONOR OBERST 01 | 02 | 17 LONDON PALLADIUM LITTLE COMETS 10 | 02 | 17 BATH KOMEDIA W ALPINES 10 | 02 | 17 BRISTOL LOUISIANA KATE NASH 12 | 02 | 17 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE 2 • 13 | 02 | 17 OXFORD O2 ACADEMY 2 • 14 | 12 | 17 BRISTOL THEKLA MODERN BASEBALL 13 | 02 | 17 BRISTOL BIERKELLER SUM 41 02 | 03 | 17 LONDON BRIXTON O2 ACADEMY • 03 | 03 | 17 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY T SOLD OU
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Sadie Dupuisâ€™ new record is a home run
w ne er c t y h e ed i t h oj W p p r , Sp e ie po d13 Sad Sa izâ€™s is t s O r p u i n g a at D u e ldi all b k ing wi se b hac ba d w t he pen an e n to o and on. o p o r s u e c at i . d o a l o g u n i u nt d i m m : El H c o rds Wo
there’s sexiness to mystique, but when it comes down to it, it’s a
dangerous way to interpret what someone wants.
est known for fronting Speedy Ortiz, Sadie Dupuis has never been one to shy from political activism and drawing attention to vital issues. On their last tour, the Massachusetts band introduced a hotline to tackle sexual harassment at live shows – gig-goers could call it if they felt unsafe at Speedy shows. While they were at it, they penned the misogyny-busting anthem, ‘Raising the Skate’. The band also fundraised for the Girls Rock Camp Foundation - a charity which hosts music education trips for young girls – with a string of all-ages shows. With all this in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise to see Sadie Dupuis continuing to call out bullshit with her solo project Sad13; this time through the lens of roughed-up, glitter-soaked pop. A record that deals in positive, affirmative action, ‘Slugger’ is named after one of Sadie’s favourite anime characters, Lil’ Slugger from Satoshi Kon’s ‘Paranoia Agent’. A tiny, rollerskate-wearing boy in a baseball cap, who thumps people over the heads in order to relieve them from their nervous breakdowns, Sad13 is a project concerned harnessing that same kind of cathartic, healing energy. “I like the idea that people’s lives seem to improve after the trauma of being hit by this kid with a bat,” she says, chatting over Skype from New York City.
Sadie is a keen fan of popular computer game The Sims, and so naturally we ask for a critical update on her in-game progress at every opportunity. Last time we spoke to Sadie she was considering the possibility of creating her Speedy Ortiz bandmates in the game. This time... “I haven’t played The Sims in ages... I should probably read books instead.” Oh well.
When Sadie was in the process of writing ‘Foil Deer’ – Speedy Ortiz’s latest record – she was in a different place. “I had been in this really abusive relationship,” she says, ”and when it ended I didn’t want to process it, or think about it at all. I just wanted to write songs about getting stronger from it.” The result was a record focused on finding the strength to bounce back; most evident in songs like ‘Raising the Skate’. Meanwhile ‘Slugger’ seeks to harness all of Sadie’s negative experiences, and turn them into something thoroughly positive, and far more than that, a bundle of fun. Consent on ‘Slugger’ is sexy. Platonic friendships are celebrated and revelled in. It’s one big thwack of empowerment. Rebelling against pop songs that place mysterious gazes on a pedestal, and render women as silent objects, ‘Slugger’ takes square aim at songs like ‘Blurred Lines’ and firmly re-draws boundaries. “‘Blurred Lines’ is an obvious example,” agrees Sadie, “but it’s one I was thinking of for sure. There are so many songs that I really enjoy that maybe talk about being there dancing
with someone, and you know what they want from seeing them. I think that silence in sexuality is really glamourised,” she says, “not only in pop music, but in television, and real life. Sure, there’s sexiness to mystique, but when it comes down to it, it’s a really dangerous way to interpret what someone wants.” “I’m 28 now,” she says adding with a laugh, “Saturn’s returning. But I was such an idiot when I was younger. Sex education was terrible at my school,” she adds, scoffing, “well, non existent, actually. I think emphasising from an early age how important conversation and care are - in any kind of sexual relationship on any level - that’s just so important,” she says. “I think people just aren’t taught to be respectful of boundaries.” Songs like ‘Get A Yes’ – ‘Slugger’s lead single – head out with a precise mission in mind; correcting that imbalance. “I say yes to your touch when I need your touch,” Sadie sings over pogoing synths, “if you want to, you’ve gotta get a yes”. It doesn’t just highlight the importance of consent – it emphasises that open communication is healthy and fun. “I wanted it to be fun,” nods Sadie, “and catchy and light, and pop. I think there are plenty of ways to go about discussing consent, in music, and certainly many rock and punk bands do so,” she points out. “Speedy Ortiz is one of them. But they’re usually not coming from a fun, affirmative place. It’s usually a response to when consent isn’t respected. I feel here the goal was to make something that talks about how fun it can be to have discourse with your partner.” Sad13’s new album ‘Slugger’ is out on 11th November via Carpark Records. DIY
HELLO IS IT GIGS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR We’re kicking the year off with ‘Hello 2017’, a UK tour with the best new bands.
January is a time for post-Christmas food babies, over-ambitious resolutions and tons of new music. Every January since 2012, we’ve been putting on ‘Hello’ nights in London, devoted to the best new bands. But this year we’re going on the road, with the ‘Hello 2017’ tour! The incredible Dream Wife headline six UK shows next January. The Brighton trio’s no-prisoners, punk-inflected pop will be coming to Brighton, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester. And every UK date will see them backed by the best local bands each city has to offer. Keep your eyes peeled.
Dream Wife are also headlining one of four free nights at London’s Old Blue Last, 17th January. More details for those shows will be revealed soon… Tickets are available now via DICE, SeeTickets, Songkick and local record shops.
DIY’S PICK OF
In desperate need of a live music fix but can’t decide where or who? If you feel too spoilt for choice, here’s just a few of LNSource’s upcoming shows worth getting off the sofa for.
April Towers 23rd November, Birthdays, London April Towers have been causing quite a storm. Featured on DIY’s own stage at Community Festival last year, since then the Nottingham duo have gone from strength to synth-laden strength. See them this month at the Dalston boozer.
14th - 17th February, Birmingham / Manchester Late last month, London-based duo Alpines released their second album ‘Another River’ but they’re all about forward-planning right now. They’ll be heading out on the road in February, and plan to bring their brilliant production to Birmingham’s Hare & Hounds and Manchester’s Soup Kitchen.
Touché Amoré February 2017, nationwide
Dream Wife just heard about the ‘old man tries to stand on egg’ Vine.
JANUARY 2017 17 • London • The Old Blue Last (free, 18+) 18 • Brighton • Green Door Store (18+) 20 • Liverpool • Buyers Club (16+) 21 • Leeds • Headrow House (14+) 23 • Newcastle • The Cluny 2 (14+) 24 • Manchester • Night & Day Cafe (18+)
Having returned with brilliantly fraught fourth album ‘Stage Four’ earlier this year, the Californians will be coming back to the UK early next year for a full tour. Sure to be as cathartic and chaotic as ever, these shows will be something great to behold. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource
r a t s p Po Postbag warpaint
We know what you’re like, dear readers. We know you’re just as nosy as we are when it comes to our favourite pop stars: 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, Theresa from Warpaint is taking on your Qs. e Do you guys enjoy when the crowd sings along or does it get kinda annoying? Jamie, via email We love it when the crowd sings along! It really trips me out when I stop and think about how something I wrote in a very intimate moment is now being shouted by a crowd of people. It’s like the ultimate feeling of being understood. e How has your gear set-up changed from the beginning of Warpaint? Devon, via email Not much really, different brands of pedals but still the same types… Overdrive, reverb, delay, chorus and that’s pretty much the case for all of us. There was a moment where we tried to use synths on stage but it didn’t ever feel right. We’ve transposed synth parts to guitar for the live show or trigger sounds from the SPDs [sample pads, ‘fyi’ - Ed].
that want to avoid dark feelings. e What are your top three items to take out on the road with you? Ally, Chichester Apogee Duet, Beta 57, computer e The live versions of your songs are constantly evolving. Are there any songs from the past you look back on and wish you could have changed from the studio version? Adam, via email Yeah, there’s a bunch of them but I also seem to let go of some of those feelings as time goes on. I don’t think I do any justice to the recorded songs or our/my evolution by saying I wish they were different. Just gotta keep moving forward.
e Which five guests - dead or alive - would you like to invite around for dinner? Jane, Manchester Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Dr. e What’s your favourite album of Samir Osmanagic (the guy all time? Florence, Stoke who discovered the Bosnian Al Green - ‘I’m Still In Love With You’ pyramid), Nassim Herramein (metaphysical physicist) and... e Do you think that to be able whoever else is interested in to create music or art in general, pondering the universe. artists must find their inner peace e How do you guys capture first or can someone produce beautiful things even in selfideas on the go? Do you take conflict? Gökhan, via email down notes in a notebook? Conflict, particularly self-conflict, do you record it on devices? can instigate really incredible Devon, via email music; cathartic and powerful We have computers and music and art. There’s a real reason minimal recording gear. for expression and it becomes a It’s pretty easy to have way through the pain of whatever a portable studio these it is. It’s also important because days. It’s possible to have then others going through similar something as simple situations know they’re not alone. as an iRig plugged That’s especially important in into a phone and cultures that deny the shadow and GarageBand.
NEXT MONTH: THE BIG MOON Want to send a question to DIY’s Popstar Postbag? Tweet us at @diymagazine with the hashtag #postbag, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Easy!
HAVE HEARD? you
Cloud Nothings – Modern Act
Addressing new album ‘Life Without Sound’, Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi says he’s always played the band’s records on his car stereo, and this one sounds best. His method is a simple but worthwhile litmus test, especially when judging records designed to lift you up from drudgery, their momentum being the wind in your sails. Cloud Nothings have always excelled in that regard, but ‘Modern Act’ is the most life-affirming they’ve ever sounded. That’s partly down to the track’s positive reinforcements. But subtle tweaks also play a part, like how Dylan’s vocal injects tiny quirks and an extra dose of character, or how Jayson Gerycz’s drum parts sound like they could burst from the seams (or our the car speaker system). It’s getting tiring to simply say Cloud Nothings have stepped things up a gear, because they’ve been doing it time and time again. But rarely does that kind of progression feel so tangible. (Jamie Milton)
The Flaming Lips – The Castle Harking vaguely back towards ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’ with its gentle, ebbing feel, and tangible song-structure ‘The Castle’ isn’t completely unleashed into the winds of unbounded experimentalism; unlike other Flaming Lips cuts. Mind you - being a Flaming Lips song, after all - ‘The Castle’ is still pretty out there. In his usual high-drifting lullaby, Wayne Coyne somehow starts out singing about a woman, and ends up singing surreal stories of dragon-riding characters lost in a world of poison apples and talking mushrooms instead. Blimey. (El Hunt)
MØ – Drum By now, Moomin-loving, punk channelling MØ is something of a veteran when it comes to digging up gold. Aided by a formidable squad of
Charli XCX, Noonie Bao and BloodPop - pop’s own Power Rangers - ‘Drum’ is a hard-hitting, straight-for-the-jugular winner. As you’d perhaps expect, from this lot, mind. No doubt set to take the airwaves by storm, and blare out of every car radio around, ‘Drum’s another hard-hitting, pounding pop success story from the great Dane. (El Hunt)
Vant – Peace & Love VANT serve their politics like a garbage truck dumping bags. There’s no compromise, no chance of seeing past Mattie Vant’s bold statements. In the past, he’s been brutally upfront. For all the apocalyptic tone of their early singles, ’Peace & Love’ spins a positive message. Both peace and love are two things missing from current conversation, the band claim. Again, a simple statement that’s been delivered a thousand times before. But it bears
repeating, especially when it’s filtered into a headrush, hook-stuffed single such as this. (Jamie Milton)
Estrons – I’m Not Your Girl Estrons’ Tali Källström never lacks something to write about. The assertively-titled ‘I’m Not Your Girl’ is enraged for a reason. Its muse is a conversation Tali overheard when a couple of guys bragged about previous flings. The story sounds familiar, but Estrons’ sheer force is a bolt out the blue. When Tali’s songwriting hones in on a target, she acts as a ringleader, guiding the Cardiff four-piece towards a fuzzy apocalypse. Live, every bolt of noise is mirrored in Tali’s delivery - she usually ends up head in hands, tugging her hair out, rolling around the stage floor. ‘I’m Not Your Girl’ is the closest Estrons have come so far to mirroring this cathartic, brilliantly rage-fuelled experience. (Jamie Milton)
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DIY HALL FAME of
THE XX - XX
A simple white cross that stamped itself on 2009’s ears, this London band’s debut
album was a fully realised first outing unlike any other. Words: El Hunt
any people first encountered The xx when a single white logo (with a passing resemblance to the logo for OXO stock cubes, incidentally) flashed up without warning on their tellies. Sandwiched in the middle of painfully dated traditional album trailers, and... erm, anti-blackhead cream adverts, the London band’s crisp, minimal interruption – shooing open a pocket of silence in a world that just won’t shut up – laid out the band’s clear intentions from the get-go. A skeletal, and strangely soulful album, The xx’s first full length combines countless touchstones, from early-Cure type guitar lines, and submerged R’n’B, right through to the hum of tinny UK garage escaping out of a neighbour’s headphones on the nightbus. Placing minimalism on the same kind of pedestal as a high-end Scandinavian Airbnb could feel a little distant coming from most musicians. The xx, on the other hand, wield dead-air and negative energy like a razor-sharp calling card. The desire, uncontainable lust and whispering delivery that permeates every lyric keeps any accusation of sterility at bay, too. A far cry from buzz bands that are rushed urgently over the debut album mark before they’ve even bought their own guitars, The xx worked with their label Young Turks for over two years before they
Released: 14th August, 2009 Stand-out tracks: ‘Islands’ ‘VCR’ ‘Crystalised’ Something to tell your mates: Romy Madley-Croft has weirdly faint fingerprints, and so crossing US. borders is always an ‘interesting’ experience while the band are on tour there.
turned their attentions towards anything of the sort. After unsuccessful trials in the studio with producers Diplo and Kwes, The xx found themselves gifted more of their beloved basic space; with XL handing over their in-house studio keys to Jamie Smith. His night time experiments shaped ‘xx’. These days he’s best known as Jamie xx instead; a world-famous producer in his own right. The xx would go on to be sampled by Rihanna for ‘Drunk in Love,’ while Alt-J would name their own ‘Intro’ in honor of the London band. Perhaps it’s The xx’s sureness of vision which led to their Mercury Prize, and all. The xx comes down to two things – basic space and simplicity. The record seeps with sonic emptiness for a start; skeletal hand-claps playing tag with steady step-up-step-down melodies. Then, there’s the potent combination of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft. There’s something effortless about their vocals in combination, weaving huskily about each other in half whispers. Plainly honest lines sit right next to ‘Crystalised’’s surreal melting glaciers and the eerie horror movie beginnings of ‘Fantasy’. ‘xx’ appears so simple, and yet it’s saturated with influence, every dynamic shift in volume painstakingly considered. It’s rare to hear a band this realised on their first outing together, and rarer still to see a debut this unrivalled in its influence on music seven years on. DIy
A baby-faced The xx (look at Jamie’s fluffy hair!) 24
t’s taken the Hampshire trio some time to reach fullyfledged ‘next big thing’ status, but on the evidence of tonight’s show at a jam-packed Scala, Blaenavon are there and then some. Harris McMillan launches the rapturous drum intro to ‘Hell is My Head’, joined first by Frank Wright who wields his bass like a weapon in the faces of baying fans, and finally Ben Gregory, who embodies the perfect frontman: broody but with vocals that soar from the off. The irresistible cascades of ‘Orthodox Man’ stand to prove that the best is very much yet to come. ‘I Will Be the World’ is a mighty send off, before the juggernaut that is 2013’s ‘Prague’ embraces whatever final energy the Scala crowd has left. After five weeks hopping from support tour to support tour, it’s the night of celebration that Blaenavon deserve. (Alex Cabré)
Scala, London. Photo: Lewis Evans.
Estrons + The Bay Rays The Old Blue Last, London. Photo: Robin Pope.
hat The Bay Rays’ set list lacks in variation the band make up for with a litany of loud, adrenaline-inducing choruses. The Tunbridge Wells outfit have nailed the art of writing great riffs and this is most evident on set highlight ‘New Home’ - a threeminute anthem that is surely destined for radio airplay.
Headliners Estrons’ set is superb – they may have only formed last year but they leave a lasting impression on the audience with a frantic performance. Frontwoman Tali Kallström’s punchy vocal delivery is the main draw here – adding fire and heart to the band’s music. Sexually-charged latest single ‘Make A Man’ is the sweat-inducing climax – a track tailor-made for huge festival crowds, it brings an impressive performance to a close in triumphant fashion. (Dan Jeakins)
NOV 09 THE SOCIAL LONDON
SOURCE NOV 09 LOCK TAVERN CAMDEN
LU G R PE IS URE U S LIB S A AM S
NOV 17 HEAVEN LONDON
NOV 23 BIRTHDAYS LONDON
NOV 28 LEXINGTON LONDON DEC 09 SOUP KITCHEN MANCHESTER
DEC 06 O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON
JAN 17 2017 O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON
JAN 31 2017 O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN LONDON FEB 04 2017 O2 INSTITUTE BIRMINGHAM
FEB 14 2017 HARE & HOUNDS BIRMINGHAM FEB 17 2017 SOUP KITCHEN MANCHESTER
FEB 15 2017 HEAVEN LONDON
TOUCHÉ AMORÉ W/ ANGEL DU$T
FEB 24 2017 O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE LONDON
APR 04 2017 MANCHESTER ACADEMY APR 05 2017 O2 ACADEMY BIRMINGHAM
THE BEST IN NEW LIVE MUSIC
@LNSOURCE LIVENATION.CO.UK 27
neu new music new bands
I don’t really care if I make sense to people.”
Miya, sizing up her next potential frolicking location
From pouring crisps over her head to ‘accidentally’ becoming a musician, Miya Folick might give off the impression she’s not entirely on the ball. When it comes to her music though, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Words: El Hunt.
Fresh off the road from supporting forces of nature Sleigh Bells, and still in a bit of a spin, Miya Folick is temporarily perplexed. Asked what on earth possessed her to pour two entire packets of gluten-free crisps over her own head, while rapt in the emotional aftermath of witnessing a Rihanna concert for the first time on a night off (it’s on her Instagram, fyi) Miya struggles to recall. “No that’s not something I usually do,” she deadpans, before hooting with laughter. “Rihanna was so amazing. I’d never seen her perform before, and she is just such a force. I was crying, because it was so beautiful. It made me really proud to be a woman.”
“I have very little reverence for genre, so I don’t really care if I make sense to people,” Miya laughs, less combative, and more stating the obvious. “If I like something, I try to incorporate it.” Miya sees her lyrical frankness – at times, almost as upfront as an deliberate aside wink to a side-of-stage camera – as inevitable. “I don’t want to ignore the fact that I’m writing a song,” she says. “I want everyone to know I wrote this song and it is a song,” she cackles, trying to articulate.“ I am acknowledging that with this piece of music, I sat down, I wrote and I have feelings about it. You might feel something too, but we both know that this is just a song,” she concludes.
Technically, Miya Folick released her debut EP, ‘Blue Whale’ three years ago; though “I was surprised that was my reaction,” she today she’s typically open about wanting adds, in something of an understatement. to distance herself from those first tentative Then again, from wildly throwing around experiments. Instead, she sees ‘Strange snacks in a weeping blur, to swerving each Darling’ as the real beginning of her vision, and every way and the point at with zero regard which she learned for convention nor to put her foot genre, Miya Folick down. “I wasn’t is hardly one to really happy with do things by the [‘Blue Whale’], and book. Becoming afterwards I was a musician by totally resolved to accident, Miya beef up, and to say Around my neighbourhood. I live in Folick originally set no. It’s my project,” downtown LA so you usually see me off for the bright she figures. “There’s frolicking there. I’m not really frolicking lights of New York no point making though, just walking. If you want to see me to study acting at something if I’m frolic... there are some really nice hiking NYU. Somewhere not making it trails up in Malibu Canyon, and I think last along the way, she the way I want time I was there I frolicked. I think frolicking lost interest and it. I don’t wanna requires a certain amount of joyful stepping, wound up cutting make music in a with energy. I did that. That was about class in favour way that everyone two weeks ago. I try to get out into nature of long walks has figured out pretty often. It’s been two weeks since I last around the gridalready,” Miya frolicked, and I’m due for another. like city instead; finalises. “I’d rather people-watching figure it out myself.” everywhere she went, turning her everyday ramblings and Beef up she did. Her recent single ‘Pet brief glimpses of other people’s stories Body’ – by far Miya Folick’s brashest and into songs. Such freeze-frames pepper her best statement to date - started life while ‘Strange Darling’ EP. One moment she’s mucking about with some mates in the grappling with the stresses of bumping into park. “We had a habit of meeting up and a “semi-stranger” at the grocery store, and writing punk songs on acoustic guitars,” Miya the politics of whether or not they can ever remarks. Though it was far louder and more become friends. The next, Miya’s off on a aggressive than anything else she’d done to different tangent altogether, dropping any date, she ended up adopting the song for her illusions of mystery, and letting her often project. She seemed to break through into a humorous motives for songwriting peek whole new universe of possibilities, and now around the stage curtain. “Maybe I will show Miya Folick’s whole debut album is falling you how well I can write a song,” she sings on into place, too; scraps of paper and bursts ‘Strange Darling’, “That’s how the guys all get of melody beginning to click into concrete the ladies”. And throughout all of this, there’s shape. It’ll be out “hopefully early next year,” no underpinning sound. Miya Folick is the reckons Miya with a laugh, “but I’ve learned kind of musician that can frog-hop from the that everything happens more slowly than I raucous punkery of ‘Pet Body’ to the forlorn want it to.” DIY ‘Oceans’ without a second’s thought.
Miya Folick, where do you frolic?
Life Down Under didn’t suit Anglophile Hazel English, who mixes her love for The Smiths with California dreams. Words: Lisa Wright. Photo: Alex Camacho.
HAZEL ENGLISH neu
There’s a satisfying sense of things falling into place within Sydney-born, Oaklanddwelling dream pop talent Hazel English’s story.
Born in the rural outskirts of one of Australia’s largest cities, the singer led a culturally-isolated youth, learning covers of her favourite bands (The Smiths and The Cranberries among them) in her bedroom in lieu of having the bandmates to join her and waiting until she turned 18 to be able to trek into the city for shows. Deciding to move to San Francisco to embark on a writing degree, things took a turn for the better. “In Australia I always felt different and I felt like a misfit,” she says. “I didn’t feel like a part of the culture, but in San Francisco there’s a real strength in being yourself - being a strong individual and being noticed for that - and I didn’t feel weird anymore.” But it was while travelling that Hazel found the place that would become home.
really thrive here and a lot of that has to do with the people that I get to collaborate with and the fact that everyone supports each other,” she enthuses. “It makes a huge difference.” Even her surname feels like a sign. Having grown up on a diet of The Cure, The Doors and the aforementioned Smiths, Hazel’s Anglophilic tendencies seemed pre-destined from the start. “I didn’t feel like I could relate to the people in Sydney that much,” she says. “I’m not a surfer or a girl who’s going to go and sunbathe. For whatever reason, British music was very influential for me. I think maybe the Australian weather didn’t suit my personality...” Thankfully, she’s now found a place that suits her down to a tee. In the gauzy vocals of ‘It’s Not Real’ to the sad, sparkling synths of ‘I’m Fine’, her tracks take up the dream pop mantle of her peers and situate it in the kind of personal, intimate space that comes from a lifetime spent finding where you make sense. “I started writing a sci-fi novel, but I’ve never finished it,” she says of her previous literary forays. “All my lyrics now come from my journals. When I’m writing songs I want them to be genuine and to come from my own emotions, so it didn’t feel right to write about someone else that doesn’t exist.”
“When I’m writing songs I want them to be genuine.”
During a stint around Europe, Mexico and the US she happened to pass through the Bay Area and felt such a “hunch” that she moved there on a whim. “There was a vibe I couldn’t explain and I just moved on a gut feeling,” she admits. From there, English became friends with Jackson Philips, aka Day Wave, who cowrote early single ‘Never Going Home’ with her. She then slowly ensconced herself within the area’s musical scene. “I feel like I 30 diymag.com
Surrounded by her Oakland peers and pals, with an album set for 2017 and the kind of timeless sound that already feels like home, Hazel English’s own life is going more than well enough to justify documentation. DIY
When looking back on her time in higher education, Alex Lahey doesn’t beat around the bush. “I went and studied sax at uni for a few years and just fucking hated it,” she bluntly states. But as it transpires, dropping out might have been one of the best things to ever happen to the Melbourne musician.
Her recent academic experience may have been a drag, but Alex owes much of where she is today to the saxophone – which she started playing in high school. Her five years spent in jazz-pop-funk-soul “party band” Animaux was “the biggest learning experience of my life,” she reflects and, she concludes, “there is no way that I’d be doing what I’m doing now or doing it at this sort of level without that time in that band.”
The fullest exhibition of that so far is recent debut EP, ‘B-Grade University’. A five-track collection of distinct yet cohesive stories from her student days, she describes it as an “accidental concept record.” The fact she’s made something so vibrant and altogether fun out of a concept as straightforward as “being in your early 20s and just figuring shit out” speaks volumes about her ability to put her own thoroughly entertaining spin on the ups and downs of the everyman. The EP is arguably defined by ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me’. A near four-minute succession of immediate hooks that’s equal parts charmingly specific and relatable, it’s an instant hit. No idea what “cleanskin wine” is? No problem. Everything’s an effortless sing-along affair where Alex Lahey is concerned. FYI, though, it’s Aussie speak for wineries’ excess stock sold on the cheap. Alex only left
her day job in September, and she’s still caught somewhere between reality and the surreality of her rise. “I live with my mum,” she says, “because it’s not like I’m making enough money to pay rent or own a property or anything like that. In that sense, it feels surreal – the music is doing so well but when I actually look at my own life, it’s a bit of a reality check”. But having to make small sacrifices like that won’t dampen Alex’s upbeatness. “I’m having a really good time,” she plainly states, “and I can’t wait to see what else happens.” DIY
Alex might be fast making a name for herself, but her four-legged friends – the stars of her sleeve art for ‘B-Grade University’ – aren’t far behind. “So those cats are based on my own cats, Reggie and Lucy – Reggie’s the fat one and Lucy’s the skinny one. Reggie’s become this unknowing celebrity just through taking up a bunch of content on my social media networks. Lucy’s great too but she’s way smarter than Reggie, so Reggie just does all the stupid shit and that’s why he gets all the airtime.”
The aim of Animaux was “to just give people a really fucking good time.” She’s still achieving that now, only she’s traded “horns and shit” for “the pop/rock world” she’s “always been a listener and appreciator of more so than jazz.” A solo career – which began just over two years
ago – comes with a new purpose. “Now, my objective is to write really great songs that really speak to people and can be translated into different parts of people’s lives or experiences that they’ve had, while also giving a part of myself over to the listener.”
This Australian newcomer’s songwriting is anything but ‘B-Grade’. Words: Tom Hancock.
An unorthodox star in the making. Bonzai is already a familiar face, having played live with Guernsey producer Mura Masa this past summer. From the front, she’s been a magnet to sweaty, fullto-the-brim festival tents. But on her third EP, ‘Lunacy’, she trades instant fix pop for something more self-facing and inventive. ‘I Did’ is a wonky taster, all clattering industrial percussion and stop-start vocal parts. This is bright, berserk and brilliantly weird. Listen: ‘I Did’ is daring, dazzling pop. Similar to: A SBTRKT track performing backflips.
Goat Girl are part of a bright bunch of South London acts who could be forming the area’s best - whisper it - scene for years. Together with the likes of Fish and Shame, the four-piece boast an uncompromising no-bullshit filter, something that unites the area’s most exciting new acts. Signed to Rough Trade, few spit such venom with this kind of nonchalance. After dates with Parquet Courts and Yak, December sees them touring with Girl Band. Listen: ‘Scum’ is a suitably disgusting kick in the teeth. Similar to: Palma Violets with fangs.
On their debut single ‘Tulip’, King Nun capture 100mph immediacy with a puppet string-like sense of control. All 18 years old, the four-piece have inked a deal with Dirty Hit (Wolf Alice, The 1975), bringing a fuzz-soaked frenzy with their very first step. ‘Tulip’ is a deceptively sharp beast. Like Queens of the Stone Age’s most breakneck moments sped up twofold, it has the impression of something that could collapse in on itself within seconds. But these jammy sods have everything under control. Listen: Few debuts are more exciting than ‘Tulip’, out 18th November on 7”. Similar to: Rock royalty getting a fresh start.
A band willing to insult everyone who crosses their path.
k ing nun
Dirty Hit-signed teens with bags of potential.
neu All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
ESTRONS STEP IT UP
Cardiff four-piece Estrons’ rise has been impossible to contain, and the group have shared another no-bullshit, gigantic track in the form of ‘I’m Not Your Girl’. Listen on diymag.com.
Specialists in sad bangers. Like Goat Girl, Little Cub are based in South London. But the Domino signings work with different tools, standing out as a separate entity. On ‘Intent’, glitchy electronics combine with mournful, introspective vocals. Frontman Alexander Gore’s regret-laced delivery is the band’s killer weapon, a perfect tool for the sad bangers Little Cub thrive in making. Listen: ‘Loveless’ is an understand triumph. Similar to: Hot Chip going gung-ho in the pop stakes.
Penned by the refreshingly honest Tali Källström, the song’s about blokes who brag about girls they’ve slept with and the lack of emotional connection they had in relationships. “It’s a big song about insecurities and that cesspool of crap surrounding teenage emotions that still exist in your 20s and 30s,” she explains. New EP ‘She’s Here Out’ is out now. They’ve one more date pencilled in for 2016, at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach.
IT WAS JUST VANTER
It’s been a wild whirlwind for VANT so far. And now, wasting no time whatsoever, they’ve confirmed details of their debut album! VANT’s first full-length is called ‘Dumb Blood,’ and comes out on 17th February. Along with the exciting news, they’ve shared a sneaky first peek in the shape of ‘Peace & Love’. Listen on diymag.com. This month, they tour the UK with California hellraisers PARTYBABY joining the ride.
GREAT TEKKERS FROM DECCERS
That’s right. Deccers. Known to his parents as Declan McKenna. The hotshot singer-songwriter has announced lots of big UK shows for early 2017, cementing his quest for world domination. Eight dates take place next January. Alongside nights in Liverpool and Norwich, he’s also stopping by in Brighton, Leicester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield. These dates follow a brilliant, gamechanging performance on Later… With Jools Holland, which saw him sporting a “GIVE 17 YEAR OLDS THE VOTE” tee. What an absolute champion.
Just how many of these shirts does Deccers have, huh? 33
Scandi newcomer Skott makes hushed, hyped London debut.
The must-see new music gigs taking place this month.
Words: Henry Boon. Photo: Carolina Faruolo. For a sound as a rich and complex as the electronically ransacked, sweet R&B that Scandinavian newcomer Skott makes, a live setup is difficult to get right: it’d be easy to rely heavily on backing-tracks and sample pads. In reality, Skott and her band dodge any hints of ‘that’ll do’ complacency. Crystal clear cymbals mix with murky, trembling drum pads; live bass wrestles with overdriven synth lines. For the second of two nights in the UK capital, Skott’s three-piece create a rich, immersive sound that has the basement walls of London’s Birthdays trembling in its wake. Skott herself is unfazed. Even as the warbling, post-dubstep channelling bass of ‘Amelia’ threatens to burst eardrums, her delicate, commanding vocals ring effortlessly true. Tracing each note to its perfect landing spot, she still commands from the front, flitting from near whispers to spine-tingling bellows in a heartbeat. With only a handful of released material, she keeps things brief and yet still manages to showcase impressive range. The sugary-sweet pop of opener ‘Wolf’ is worlds apart from the shrieking menace of ‘Amelia’, which again shifts immediately into an as-yet unreleased track channelling her more upbeat side, distorted whistling and merry synth lines juxtaposing the unnerving gloom of moments before. The sheer unpredictability of her music is what gives such promise, and tonight is a testament to that.
Buzzy first steps FENNE LILY 16th-23rd November Delicate acoustics and sentiment-laced songwriting is everywhere, but few do it better than Bristol newcomer Fenne Lily. She plays London, Manchester, Leeds and Bristol this month. On tour ARDYN 10th-19th November Twin duo Ardyn, aka Rob and Katy Pearson, released their ace second EP ‘The Valley’ earlier this year. The Gloucestershire siblings take to their first ever headline tour this month, followed by a show at London’s St Pancras Old Church on 1st December. Racking up the air miles GLASS GANG 6th-9th November Brooding pop for post-midnight sobs, Brooklyn trio Glass Gang are making their first trip to the UK this month. Three shows take place, in Brighton, Leeds and London.
SWEET From Tame Impala taking over the world (and Gaga’s new sound) to Foals’ massive Reading & Leeds headline spots via the latest Canadian invasion, 2016 has been one hell of a year.
THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT
Link ups with major league popstars, a festival schedule that’d make even the most seasoned wristband-collector whimper, and totting up his first forays onto arena stages; no one else has had a year quite like Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. Contrary to reputation, though, he’s just taking it as it comes. Words: Tom Connick. Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
ack home in Western Australia for the first time in months, Kevin Parker’s doing his best to take stock of his 2016. “I have trouble enough working out what I did this year, and what was further back than a year,” he admits, the dizzying speed at which their third album, 2015’s ‘Currents’, propelled Tame Impala forward clearly having played havoc with the head honcho’s short-term memory. “I can’t for the life of me work out what the first thing I did this year was.”
time pal Mark Ronson had co-produced Lady Gaga’s incoming new single ‘Perfect Illusion’, and September saw its release. It’s been a radio mainstay ever since. “We have a habit of doing that…” Kev shrugs, looking back on that packed-out calendar. “It was pretty intense this year. Things just come up, y’know?”
is the first person I’ve ever
written lyrics with.”Kevin Parker
A refresher, then. After capping off last year with their first major festival headline slots, the pop-loving psych-heads roared into this one with a nod from Rihanna (as you do), who covered ‘Currents’’ ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ on her latest album. Not a bad present for Kev’s 30th birthday. As the festival bookings kept slotting in, they then skipped out on the GRAMMYs – at which they were nominated for Best Alternative Music Album – instead using their Valentine’s Day weekend to sell out two nights at London’s cavernous Alexandra Palace. A Best International Group award at the BRITs capped off that month, before Kev went for a dip in the sea for his ‘Waves’ collaboration with honeysweet crooner Miguel. Admitting back in April that he was working on new music -“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,” he teased - things then went full-on bonkers.” Photos of the supposedly reclusive producer in the studio with Lady Gaga cropped up online, setting the rumour mill ablaze, before a huge billing at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound proved his band had the chops to fill those top spots they were hurtling towards all summer. It was a good job too, really – just a couple of weeks later, they were Saturday night’s second-from-top on Glastonbury’s iconic Pyramid Stage. Who were they opening for? Oh, just Adele. August saw confirmation that Kevin and long40 diymag.com
n other hands, that nonchalance might come off as arrogance – Kevin Parker couldn’t be further from the cocksure rockstar archetype, though. He’s guarded; taking his time to digest everything he’s asked, talking slowly so as to avoid tripping up on himself. His personality isn’t a world away from his music, in that regard – introverted, but not introspective, the concept of an interview (of which he gives precious few) still seems to make Kevin uneasy. When asked about one of the few he did give earlier this year, to Q about his Glastonbury exploits, he audibly cringes at the memory. “There’s a good 36 hours after we played that is unaccounted for,” he divulged back in July. “I suddenly came to and it was Monday morning.” “I feel like that’s what it’s like for everyone, but not everyone gets interviewed about how fucked up they got at Glastonbury!” he half-laughs, half-groans today. “I feel like to say, ‘Oh yeah, it was crazy! I blacked out for 24-hours!’ - everyone does! It’s kind of just unspoken that you do, but you don’t go talking about it in interviews afterwards,” he adds with more laughter. “Which I did, and then lots of people made a thing out of it. But that’s the way it goes!”
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
“People say that I’ve got
control everything, but really it’s the opposite.” this desire to
Contrary to popular belief, Kevin Parker doesn’t like to dwell on such things. Or, indeed, anything. He’s burdened with a longstanding reputation for being something of a control freak, noodling away solo in his studio for weeks and months at a time – “People say that a lot about me – that I’ve got this desire to have control of everything – but really, it’s quite the opposite,” he insists. “I think people assume that because it’s a one-man studio thing – because I record all the music myself and I do a lot of the stuff myself and don’t involve anyone else, I think people put two-and-two together. But it’s not about that at all.” Indeed, to anyone who caught Tame Impala at any one of their hundreds of shows this year, it was clear to see Kevin shedding that reclusive image night after night. Finally owning up to being the band’s sole studio member around the time ‘Currents’ came to light, his on-stage persona soon followed suit. Grabbing the frontman role with both hands, he uprooted his gaze and bare feet from his guitar pedals, hopping, skipping and dad dancing about evermore-massive stages, revelling in cannonafter-cannon of confetti. Tame Impala’s one-man-band studio guise was borne of necessity, not narcissism, he explains. Obsessed with writing and recording since his pre-teen years, the lack of friends with a similarly musical mindset left him in the lurch. Rather than wait around for this mates to swap playtime for practice, he took everything on himself. “I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I’ve gotta do everything’,” he smirks. “As an artist I’ve just grown up with that way of doing it, to the point where if I had to work with someone else on Tame Impala stuff, it just wouldn’t even be Tame Impala. There’s no way I’d be able to conjure up the same emotions, and get inspired in the same way. I love making music with other people – since I’ve made music with friends, I’ve loved collaborating and stuff – but it’s just not what Tame Impala is. To be able to access that part of myself, I have to be totally in my own zone and in my own head.” Times have changed, of course. “I’m part of an extremely creatively driven group of friends, and we’re all kinda the same – making music is our lifeblood,” he states proudly today, those long and lonesome studio
days far behind him. “We’re never really content just to be doing one thing.”
ew friendships sum up the rocket-speed rise of Tame Impala quite like that of Kevin and Mark Ronson. At any given opportunity, Kev’ll espouse his mate’s various endeavours; “one of the best DJs in the world,” he declares when remembering their Glastonbury back-to-back and its upcoming counterpart in Mexico, an almost audible twinkle in his eye. He’s clearly enamoured with his quiff-sporting bestie – a relationship that spawned one of 2016’s most unexpected link-ups. “Mark was telling me he was gonna work on the Lady Gaga album, and just asked me if I wanted to be a part of it,” he says matter-of-factly, “So obviously I did! It was so left field for me, but because it was Mark I had no hesitation in just diving in headfirst. There was no fear, I knew the project was in good hands with Mark. So yeah, it just went from there.” Moving forward, Kev found himself in a very different environment to his beachside home studio. “Luckily it wasn’t a room full of people, it was just Gaga and Mark,” he says, looking back. Leaping out of his comfort zone and into Gaga’s megastar bubble brought about an epiphany of sorts, mind.
“Someone said they left together, I ran out the door to get her / She was holding hands with Trevor, Not the greatest feeling ever,” sings Kevin in the opening lines of ‘Currents’ single ‘The Less I Know The Better’. Little did he know, poor Trev would become something of a meme. “That was amazing! I speculate that the birth of it was at a festival in Australia – someone had this huge banner, and I think they were the first person. They made a huge, hand-painted banner that just said ‘FUCK TREVOR’. It just went from there. I saw another one, and it went on and on. It was just one of those things where the network of fans found out about it, and now there’s not a show that we play where someone doesn’t have a ‘FUCK TREVOR’ banner. “At no point in the song am I showing any kind of disdain towards this character Trevor, however, people obviously can relate to this guy that’s fuckin’ your night up!”
“She is now the first person I’ve ever written lyrics with,” he confesses. “It was getting towards the end of the day, we were deep in that zone, writing lyrics for ‘Perfect Illusion’, and I suddenly realised it was the first time. Gaga commented that I was easy to work with lyrically, we’d bounce ideas off each other really well, and I was like, ‘Y’know this is actually the first time I’ve written lyrics with another person!’ It’s the first time I’ve verbally, physically voiced ideas of how to put lyrics together, and the first time I’ve had a conversation about how this verse, or this line, or this rhyme is going to go together. It’s the first time I’ve ever had that out in the open – normally that whole conversation just happens inside my head. It was quite a weird sensation.” It was yet another world away from the Rihanna collab, too. “I’ve never got to meet her!” he admits of the ‘ANTI‘ star - the last minute musical trade-off for Rih’s ‘Same Ol’ Mistakes’ took place over phone calls and email.
Worthy’s Original THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
Kevin Parker and co. might have racked up their fair share of festivals this summer, but there’s still nothing quite like Glasto, he insists. “For everyone that’s a music follower in England, Glastonbury is like the Mecca of all that. It’s kinda written into their bones, written into their way of life. Whereas someone from outside the country, that’s not from England, goes there and it’s like, ‘Woah, what the fuck is going on?!’ It’s all a new experience – I’ve been like four times before, but it’s still mind-blowing. It’s still a new experience every time.”
“There’s definitely a few other things coming up,” he teases of those A-list collabs. “You don’t have to be switched on to realise that if I do this, and then this happens… it’s just the way the music world works, you know? So there’s going to be other things happening, but I think I’d be ruining it if I mentioned who.”
rue to form, and proof those rumours are completely unfounded, Kev’s not overthinking anything in the months to come. There’s talk of moving out of Perth, “just to change it up”, but until then he’s taking everything as it comes. He concedes to one common trait he’s pinned with though – that he’s a workaholic. “To me, the idea of taking a break is kinda pointless,” he says with a shrug. “Just because making music, for me, it’s not really draining. It’s self-perpetuating; once you get momentum on something you just want to find the next thing, or evolve this, or evolve that.” The momentum of Kevin’s 2016 is bound to feed into Tame Impala’s next moves, too. “Everything that I do, or that is going on around me, affects Tame Impala,” he admits. “Even non-musically.” “I’ve been listening to a lot more pop music than I used to, just out of curiosity,” he offers by way of newfound inspirations, but there’s nothing concrete about Kev’s next steps: “I dunno – there’s nothing in particular that I’ve taken a liking to.” New Tame Impala’s not top of the priority list right now, though, he admits. “I’m back home, but activity-wise I’m still very much involved with other stuff. I’ve got a lot of things on the go at the moment – POND, my friends, are making an album, and I’m producing that. Even though I’m at home, it’s not like I’m just sitting on the couch. So when all that dies down, I’ll get a chance to work out what I’m doing. Since ‘Currents’ came out, it’s opened up a lot of other possibilities for me. So at the moment, I’m just doing a bit of everything at once. It’s not very focused – I’m extremely unfocused at the moment!” he laughs. “I don’t have the self discipline to be able to filter anything out at the moment – I’ll have to see in the future.” Succumbing to the tide of ‘Currents’ and drifting wherever it’ll take them, in Tame Impala’s bonkers new world, ‘Let It Happen’ proves to be so much more than a festival headline-worthy single – it’s a mantra Kevin and co live by. DIY
Riders on the Storm At June’s Open’er festival, laddy duo The Last Shadow Puppets took their Tame Impala love to the next level, improvising a song about Our Kev. “There’s a storm brewin’, in the form of Tame Impala,” it went, before Alex Turner declared, “Kevin Parker controls the weather systems around here.” It was an odd one. “We were waiting in our dressing room – I was extremely sick, it was the show straight after Glastonbury, and I just got really violently ill,” Kevin remembers. “I almost couldn’t play, so we heard that they made up this impromptu Tame Impala tribute jam, and I was like, ‘Oh no!’ It was the one night where I just wanted to get through it, I didn’t want anyone to hype it up, I didn’t want anyone to ramp it up. It’s sweet of them, really… They probably helped to save it.”
â€œEverything that I do, or that is going on around
affects Tame Impala.â€? Kevin Parker me,
“It’s great to play
shows with people who you feel you
share an ethos with.”
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
CHVRCHES A year after releasing banger-packed second album ‘Every Open Eye’, Chvrches are operating in a whole new dimension. Words: El Hunt. Photo: Emma Swann.
s far as years go, Chvrches’ 2016 has been an absolute belter. Hopping across continents, scaling festival line-ups, and taking on ever bigger stages with more dedication than even endurance-kings Dan and Dan the sesh gremlins, it’s seen the Scots take their second album ‘Every Open Eye’ to stratospheric heights. Lauren Mayberry, especially, seemed to enter into a whole other league, transforming from a barely-contained fireball of volatile potential, into a frontof-stage superstar. During live shows Martin Doherty has taken to leaving his synths totally unattended during his lead vocal turn on ‘High Enough To Carry You Over,’ and in the process he invented a quite remarkable feat in modern choreography. A cross between the lindy-hop and someone with a bee stuck up their jeans, his innovative dance moves – along with his on-stage dedication to Harambe (RIP) at Reading Festival - place him as one of this year’s most underrated cult heroes; much like Barb from Stranger Things. Iain Cook meanwhile has morphed from dependable fort-holder, to a vicious fast-combusting bass-cranker. Thrashing and spinning across stages from the Californian desert, to the tranquil forests of Suffolk, Chvrches came into their own this year, and it’s clear they know it, too. “I think we worked hard on the stage show,” agrees Lauren. “It was nice for us to develop it over the course of time, rather than just doing a pastiche version of things that we like. Also,” she points out, “cos we’ve toured so much, and we’ve moved up these sizes of venues, it’s been nice for us to think about what we want our live show to be, and how we want to communicate things. We have
Every Open Ear With the nights growing shorter, and 2016 steadily winding to a close, we asked Chvrches to fill us in on the new bands they’ve got their eyes on, and the albums they’ve had on repeat. They only took one of these questions entirely seriously. So, Chvrches. There’s still a month left of 2016 but ignore that. What’s your album of the year? Lauren: ‘Lemonade’ [by Beyoncé]. Done. Iain: The new Frank Ocean album’s pretty darn good, ‘Blonde’. Martin: That’s too hard a question. Something can drop at any time these days. You’re only ever 24 hours away from someone putting out some album that’ll change the year. And how about bands? Which brand new buzzy acts did you become instant fans of this year? Lauren: I need to have a little ponder. Dok [Martin Doherty] always makes the joke about seeing Sia, he’s like, ‘I’m sure I didn’t Sia, but sure I did Sia saw see.’ So many Sia puns. (er, we’re not sure she’s a new band, Lauren - Ed) Iain: I saw that band New Order a few times. They might be onto something? Martin: Who’s that again? New Ogre? Iain: They have that song, ‘Red Tuesday’. Yeah, I think that’ll be a hit. Martin: I think that’s the disadvantage of getting bigger. You only ever play next to the bands that are more established. You don’t get to see the new acts.
two records’ worth of material now, so it’s a bit more fun when you’re putting together a live show, and you can think about how to build the dynamics, and the ebb and the flow.” “There are lots of upbeat and punchy songs on ‘Every Open Eye’,” agrees Iain. “It’s fun to switch that up live.” It’s tough for Chvrches to pick out a single highlight from the year, understandably. Being gifted Skips snacks on their Reading & Leeds rider prompted a great deal of excitement in Martin’s eyes. And taking a casual cruise with one of their favourite bands in the world, to play several gigs on a ship (as you do) also stands out as an understandable pinch-yourself moment for the Glaswegians. “Parahoy was really cool,” nods Lauren. “We’ve always been big fans of Paramore, and obviously Hayley’s [Williams] voice is incredible, the songwriting is great, and they’re genuinely nice people, so it’s great to play shows with people who you feel you share an ethos with. A very awesome experience. Very windy.” “Choppy!” interjects Martin. “ I got really seasick on the first night, and I had to kind of be thrown out on the stage having just being really sick,” he informs. Charming stuff. “It wasn’t without its challenges,” he concludes. Chvrches might’ve had to contend with a few literal obstacles this year – namely gale-force winds – but there’s little doubt that come next summer, they’re destined to plain-sail towards festival headliner spots. They’ve proved this year that they’re more than ready to rise to the challenge. DIY
“You’re never fully
standing in front of 50,000 people.”
Biffy have had a flippin’ great 2016. 48 diymag.com
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
In 2016, the Scottish trio started down a new path with seventh album ‘Ellipsis’. So far, it’s clear it’s paying off. Words: Heather McDaid. Photo: Mike Massaro.
iffy Clyro aren’t exactly new kids on the block. Seven albums in (plus a hefty stash of B-sides, EPs and then some), they’ve headlined festivals aplenty before, but 2016 saw years of work click together, taking them to a whole new level. ‘Ellipsis’ stormed to Number One in the UK, they returned to Reading & Leeds to top the bill for a second time with a fire unlike ever before. Though the year’s almost over, for Biffy, it’s barely begun. “It’s crazy how much we’ve done in a year,” reflects bassist James Johnston. “When I remember back to the start of the year after playing at Hogmanay in Edinburgh and then going to finish off the album and how much we’d done since, it’s quite crazy. We’re having as much fun as we ever have had as a band - we couldn’t be happier.” ‘Ellipsis’ is the first of a new trilogy. The studio trilogy. It pushed the boundaries of how they personally worked with songs, and where they could take them, and has now had a few months to seep into people’s lives. “At first people are always a little bit quiet,” says James. “They’re listening and scared. They’re probably so scared in case they don’t like it! The songs [from ‘Ellipsis’] are becoming part of people’s lives now. They’re starting to be part of memories, maybe memories where they’ve seen us at festivals or where they’ve heard the song at a certain moment of their life. It always takes a little while for that to happen, but it has started to happen now.”
“That was a big moment for us personally. I mean, people have been coming to see us there for a lot of years - we feel at home. Then to actually come home and play Glasgow to that many people – to feel like it was our people there, that we’d brought that many people together - we felt so proud of that.” The numbers alone would make it a memorable weekend, yet from the other side of the barrier, the growth of the last few years was evident. Biffy have always been a force in a live setting, but they well and truly crossed an unseen threshold where they not only held the title of headliner, they smashed it. “I think it’s just practice,” he says. “I don’t want to take away too much of the mystery!” “I think it’s just the more you do anything, the more comfortable you are in that environment. You’re never fully comfortable standing in front of 50,000 people,” he laughs. “Certainly, there’s still an edge to that situation and that’s a good thing - it keeps it exciting, it keeps you on your toes. It’s trying to push things in terms of the technical aspects of the show - the production is important. I think we can mix [the band’s performance] with some really pretty images and striking things, and this time we tried to play on the perspective a little bit with the stage setting. But I don’t think that should ever overshadow the band.
READING, ROUND TWO:
The album and its success are an obvious highlight of the year, but there’s one weekend that unequivocally steals the show. They returned to Reading & Leeds as triumphant headliners, and slotted a home show to tens of thousands at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow snugly in the middle. “It was such a buzz of a weekend that we’re only really just starting to come to terms with it,” he beams. “It was such a dream to come back and play at Reading & Leeds, a festival that we’ve grown up with, and played at every stage that the festival has, from the smallest and worked our way up, much like we have at T in the Park.
August saw Biffy top the bill at Reading & Leeds for the second time, and the three year gap since their last slot has seen them grow into an even more formidable live band. “Nights like tonight will become commonplace for Biffy Clyro from now on,” we said on the evening, and 2016 has seen them cement their place in the big leagues.
“We always want to maintain the feeling of a band in front of your face sweating, that it feels like it’s got elements of a sweaty rock club, just like a club show even in big arenas or outdoor festivals.” It’s a skill they’ve pretty much nailed at this point. 2016 has been their year, and they’ve learned some important lessons. The main one? Time off doesn’t suit them. So as for what the future holds, it’s obvious really. “More Biffy,” he laughs. “We’re going to be in your face. We’re not going anywhere. We took a break before the last album and we didn’t really like it. It didn’t really work. We’re going to keep going, keep playing shows and keep trying to push ourselves.” More Biffy? Sounds good. DIY
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
‘Where are our future festival headliners?’ we hear you cry. This summer, they’ve proved to be right under our noses. Here’s some of the acts that have used festival season to really step up their game. Words: Will Richards.
HERE COMES A
hen Savages took to the stage at this year’s Reading Festival, there can’t have been more than 200 faces in front of Jehnny Beth and co - a band who released a stunning second album earlier in the year - ‘Adore Life’ - and are still gathering pace and momentum. It would’ve been a deflating moment for most bands. But Jehn saw a challenge, and spent almost half the set inches away from the eyeballs of the front row, ignoring vast swathes of empty, muddy space that filled the tent. Instead, she honed in on the Barfly-sized throng facing her, and how to best enthrall them.
arpaint’s penultimate set in the soggy Brecon Beacons for Green Man 2016 was made, and taken to another level, by the emergence of Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman as performers that can conjure up a whole lot more than first thought. “The last year has seen Emily transform into a beast of a band leader, scaling the edge of the stage, scanning her prey,” we said at the time. It’s an especially vital step-up considering the band were notoriously on-and-off during past festival appearances in the UK.
ince 2010’s ‘Total Life Forever’, Yannis Philippakis has been a first-rate frontman. With last year’s ‘What Went Down’ though, he became a complete hellraiser. The album’s title track in particular - sandwiched in the middle of the band’s encore - saw the vocalist launch himself into crowds all around the world, garnering a reputation as leader of one of the world’s fieriest live bands as he went. Foals topping Reading & Leeds’ bill was always on the cards, but it felt all the more special coming at the end of a summer that saw Yannis take his band up to a whole different league. Formalities are out of the way now; if Foals return and take Glastonbury, they have their blistering vocalist to thank.
Goldenvoice Presents THE WYTCHES
02.11.16 02 ACADEMY 2 OXFORD
21.11.16OUT SOLD LONDON BRIXTON ELECTRIC 22.11.16OUT SOLD BRISTOL MARBLE FACTORY 23.11.16 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2
01.12.2016 BRISTOL TRINITY CENTRE
TOM ODELL 04.11.16OUT SOLD BRIGHTON
05.11.16 PLYMOUTH PAVILLIONS 06.11.16 SWINDON OASIS CENTRE 12.11.16OUT SOLD BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY
WAND 04.11.16 LONDON BOSTON ARMS
GENGAHR 21.11.16 BRIGHTON GREEN DOOR STORE 23.11.16 BRISTOL LOUISIANA 24.11.16 RAMSGATE MUSIC HALL 25.11.16OUT SOLD LONDON COURTYARD THEATRE
ANIMAL NOISE 23.11.16 LONDON SEBRIGHT ARMS
05.11.16 LEEDS BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING
06.11.16 BRIGHTON HOPE & RUIN
23.11.16OUT SOLD LONDON ISLINGTON ACADEMY
08.11.16 CAMDEN ASSEMBLY
THE WYTCHES 10.11.16 02 INSTITUTE 2 BIRMINGHAM 11.11.16 LONDON CAMDEN ELECTRIC BALLROOM
EKKAH 10.11.16 LONDON CORSICA STUDIOS
SOFI TUKKER 10.11.16 LONDON BIRTHDAYS DALSTON
TOO HIGH TO RIOT FT BAS
25.11.16 UT SOLD O THE DOME LONDON 29.11.16 UT SOLD O MANCHESTER
NIGHT & DAY CAFE
06.12.16 BRISTOL TRINITY 07.12.16 LONDON O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN
SHAME 08.12.2016 LONDON ST MORITZ CLUB 08.12.16 LONDON THE NINES PECKHAM 08.12.2016 LONDON STAGS HEAD HOXTON
SCHOOLBOY Q 11.12.2016 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 1 14.12.16 LONDON O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 15.12.2016 O2 INSTITUTE BIRMINGHAM
25.11.16 UT SOLD O BIRMINGHAM
HARE & HOUNDS
26.11.16 OUT SOLD THEKLA BRISTOL
15.02.2017 LONDON OMEARA
LEA PORCELAIN / ARTIFICIAL PLEASURE
29.11.16 LONDON ELECTROWERKZ
LAURA DOGGETT 29.11.16 LONDON THE WAITING ROOM
YELLOW DAYS 29.11.16 LONDON THE NINES PECKHAM
16.11.2016 BIRMINGHAM INSTITUTE 2
30.11.16 LONDON SEBRIGHT ARMS
15.11.16 LONDON HEAVEN
30.11.16 LONDON BERMONDSEY SOCIAL CLUB
21.11.2016 LEEDS WARDROBE 24.11.2016 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY 25.11.2016 UT SOLD O MANCHESTER GORILLA 26.11.2016 O2 INSTITUTE2 BIRMINGHAM 28.11.2016 KOKO LONDON
22.12.2016 UT SOLD O MOTORPOINT ARENA CARDIFF
15.11.2016 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3
01.12.16 LONDON BIRTHDAYS DALSTON
14.11.2016 O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON
16.11.16 LONDON HEAVEN
BARNS COURTNEY 30.11.16 LONDON XOYO
TOURIST 29.11.16 BRIGHTON PATTERNS 01.12.16 BRISTOL MARBLE FACTORY 02.12.16OUT SOLD LONDON OVAL SPACE
22.02.2017 KAMIO AT RED GALLERY
JAGWAR MA 14.03.2017 BRIGHTON THE OLD MARKET HOVE
ELBOW 01.03.2017 BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY 02.03.207 BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY 04.03.2017 HAMMERSMITH EVENTIM APOLLO 05.03.2017 HAMMERSMITH EVENTIM APOLLO 06.03.2017 HAMMERSMITH EVENTIM APOLLO 08.03.2017 BOURNEMOUTH BIC 09.03.2017 PLYMOUTH PAVILIONS 10.03.2017 NEWPORT CENTRE
NOV - MAR
11.11.16 LONDON CAMDEN ELECTRIC BALLROOM
10.11.16 02 INSTITUTE 2 BIRMINGHAM
SWEET THIS YEARâ€™S SUPERSTARS
VIEWS FROM THE No city this year has churned out bangers quite like Toronto. With two of the Canadian dazzler’s brightest hopes, Dilly Dally and Weaves, capping their years off with a joint European run, who better to act as tour guide? Words: Tom Connick. Photos: Ed Miles.
oronto’s always fostered musical brilliance. From Broken Social Scene to Barenaked Ladies (stick with us), via Fucked Up, Crystal Castles and Death From Above 1979, Canada’s busiest city’s got a pedigree like few others. 2016, though, saw the Queen City set the agenda on the buzziest, fuzziest new bands. Spearheading that influx of Torontonian talent? Dilly Dally and Weaves, both still riding high on their respective debuts. Not that you’d guess it today – at the end of a bunch of joint European dates, they’re battling off the dreaded tour flu. “We’re starting to get sick,” grumbles Weaves’ delightfully deadpan guitarist Morgan Waters, “I need a green tea.” “It’s like having a piece of home - four pieces of home - out on the road with ya,” enthuses Katie Monks, Dilly Dally’s figurehead and the owner of the year’s most torched vocal cords. “It was like a little summer camp,”
picks up Weaves singer Jasmyn ‘Jazz’ Burke, “we’d often stay at the same places.” “Like a musician orphanage,” Morgan smiles. A ragtag bunch brought together by their home city’s bubbling music scene, Dilly Dally and Weaves’ fortunes have been threaded together for years. “Ben, our drummer, and Zach [Bines, Weaves’ bassist], went to high school together!” Katie squeals. “Zach had luscious, long, curly rocker hair,” Morgan reveals, while “Ben was a goth.” “Yeah,” grins Katie, “Ben wore lipstick and make-up.” Things lasted long past graduation though, with both bands linking up for a Christmas party last December, and for “a little pop up show in a cool warehouse” back when Dilly Dally’s debut album ‘Sore’ was born this time last year - “Fall baby!” laughs Morgan. Going back yet further, Katie recalls a 2011 show in the basement of Toronto’s Parts & Labour, with Jazz supporting solo under her old RatTail
“TORONTO’S ALWAYS HAD A LOT OF GREAT MUSIC COMING OUT OF IT.”
JAZZ BURKE, WEAVES 53
moniker. The Adele obsessive is flabbergasted by the memory – “Oh god! That was a long time ago…” “And do you remember The Elwins?” smiles Dilly guitarist Liz Ball. “You had a hollowbody electric. And we played that show with you!” The whole gang are clearly proud of their hometown. “Toronto’s always had a lot of great music coming out of it,” says Jazz, “it’s just now that people are starting to pay attention. It’s always been a city where you could go and see music every night. I feel like it’s always been like that.” They collectively reel off a list of their local favourites - New Fries, Vallens, Poster Boy and She Devils all get the nod, while local label Buzz Records also garners praise. “There’s lots of different labels pumping out awesome bands,” says Liz, “But yeah, Buzz is always signing cool new people, so it’s sweet when fans come up to us and they’re like, ‘Oh, what do you listen to?!’ It’s like, ‘Just check out all Buzz’s roster – you’ll love it all.’” Suffering from the all-too-common big city ill of rocketing rent prices, there’s nevertheless a little bit of trepidation over the city’s future. “I don’t know if people can afford to live there…” Jazz ponders, while Liz notes that everyone’s moving further and further out of the centre, leaving a bunch of their favourite venues with dwindling audiences and bled-dry resources. “I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s like there’s money rolling around, in music,” Katie notes. “Oh, don’t expect to get paid,” laughs Liz, “but you can always find a venue to play. There’s always someone’s basement.” With tonight marking the final night of their run as a terrible twosome, both Weaves and Dilly Dally are looking forward to heading home. As it happens, their stories look set to intertwine further still – they’re both looking towards second records. “I started writing a tracklisting, and I wanna move from the tracklisting, to the outside,” says Jazz of Weaves’ round two, which is on the cards once they wrap up US dates with Mitski. “I feel like that’d be a fun way to write. Sometimes when you’re on the road, little words pop into your head and you’re like, ‘Hmm, I wonder what that could entail…’” Dilly Dally, meanwhile, have got a whole bunch of tour dates with Grouplove to get through before they look to their second full-length “I’m really excited to look at all their clothes, because they have really cool clothing,” says Katie matter-of-factly. “And then that’s two months, and damn we are toured out. Some peace of mind, some isolations, and then certainly the beginnings of the next record.” “The cycles are matching up,” quips Morgan, before Jazz suggests, with a guffaw, that a bit of time apart might be healthy – “We’re in sync!” DIY 54 diymag.com
“OH, DON’T EXPECT TO GET PAID, BUT YOU CAN ALWAYS FIND A VENUE TO PLAY.” LIZ BALL, DILLY DALLY
Dilly Dally and Weaves’
Guide to the 6
Tim Hortons Jazz: Tim Hortons is the Starbucks of Canada – they’re everywhere. Morgan: But less highbrow. Liz: Much more depressing. Dufferin Mall Morgan: We’re always in the Duffer Mall, just… laughing… Katie: Duff Park is good, too – the park beside Duff Mall. The Silver Dollar Katie: It’s so legendary, so awesome, and the guy who books it is so legendary. I’m pretty sure there’s a YouTube video of him punching someone. Jazz: The other guy punched him! Katie: Oh, well there you go – if you want a little reality TV, Toronto-style...
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
The gear space Katie: There’s the gear space where all the bands practice – talk about how rent is high in Toronto now; everyone just has to practise in this industrial zone. But it’s kinda nice, walking down the hallway and hearing your friends writing new songs all the time. Christie Pits Jazz: Toboganning in the winter! Kensington Market Jazz: Kensington Market’s a cool place! Toronto Island Liz: The island’s really nice, too. Toronto Island. Morgan: It’s this little island you have to take a ferry to. Liz: It’s like a 15-minute ferry, and then there’s lots of nice beaches, you can swim at, and there’s the centreville, the caves. You can do artist residencies on the island and live there for like a month.
The Morgan Waters Show
eaves’ mind-bending guitarist Morgan isn’t content with blowing minds with his obscure six-stringing – type his name into YouTube and you’ll unearth The Morgan Waters Show, an off-every-wall sketch show that Morgan wrote, directed and starred in. Morgan: It was an after school comedy show - it was supposed to be for kids, but it was pretty stoner-y… Jazz: Sometimes at shows people will come up and be like, ‘You were on The Morgan Waters Show! I love you!’ Morgan: It’s my other life… my secret life…
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS Christine and The Queens came into 2016 wielding magic markers and a treasure trove of pop bangers. Now, she’s this year’s unparalleled superstar. Not that she’s prepared to rest on any laurels, mind. Words: El Hunt.
s whirlwind years go, Christine and The Queens perhaps takes the proverbial biscuit, or - since she’s French – the madeleine. A game-changing, dance-filled appearance on Graham Norton’s telly show beamed Héloïse Letissier’s tilted, outsider pop music into millions of stunned living rooms, and then, a full two years after its original release, debut album ‘Chaleur Humaine’ found itself in the UK Top Ten, for a mighty eleven weeks. A standing ovation from Elton John at a sold-out Roundhouse followed, her weekend-stealing performance at Glastonbury rightly lauded as the show that cemented a superstar. These days, Christine and The Queens is papered across tube adverts, billboards, newspapers, and TV screens. Her fearlessness and subversive music has proved contagious, capturing people’s attentions in a political age where – let’s face it – there’s little else to be cheerful about.
year who challenge norms, and raise their voices about vital issues, Héloïse is surrounded by other such musical solutions in 2016. From Years & Years’ Olly Alexander letting rip with rainbow smoke cannons at Glastonbury in the miserable aftermath of the referendum result, to countless other leftfield pop characters, Christine and The Queens fights very much the same fight with her “songs, suits, and moves”. “It’s new faces, a new way of existing, and being sexualised, and sometimes refusing to be a subject of male gaze,” she enthuses, “I’m really happy this scene exists right now. One of the first steps of a fight is visibility. Show them, make it exist. It’s the first step, the really important one. This is why people like Lorde, and Grimes, and Perfume Genius, are really great. They’re just making people look at different faces.”
Between states, and battling with how to carve out a fluid, indefinable space in a world that loves to categorise and box “All the great things that happened to me this year, I’m trying in, ‘Chaleur Humaine’ is something of a coming of age album not to think about,” says Héloïse. “I don’t want to sit on it. I for Christine and The Queens. “It’s still a bit shy, and insecure, want to doubt and feel like shit so I can and fragile,” she says. “What the fuck is write songs,” she adds, bookending happening, why do I want to laugh and it with a hoot of laughter. “I’m cry at the same time?’. And since then,” exaggerating, but you see what I mean.” she cackles uproariously, “I actually discovered physical sex.” Most people know Christine and The Born on a visit to London following a Queens as a next-level dancer, and painful break-up, Christine and The Two years on from first putting out penner of this year’s catchiest pop Queens first came about when Héloïse ‘Chaleur Humaine’, Christine and The songs. Prior to doing the whole ‘music Letissier was learning to exist alone Queens is eager to foot-twitch and dance thing’, though, Héloïse actually had again. With the help of some overzealous her way into new possibilities. Pushing another career in mind. When she was drag queens at now-closed institution the whole thing further still is never far eleven, her passion was for writing Madame JoJo’s, Héloïse channelled from her mind, and Héloïse has already incredibly creepy horror stories. everything that was holding her back written tonnes of potential songs for her into this new, brave figure – Christine. follow-up. “My mother was worried! She was. They were not that creepy for me, but “It allows me to be bolder,” she nods. “[‘Chaleur Humaine’] was so beautiful they were about murders and slicing “Christine is basically an excuse to be to work on,” she says, of her debut, “and people. It was well said, but my more daring. It’s a pen name that allows mother couldn’t believe I wrote those seeing it blossom. But it is something me to say things I wouldn’t normally say, I’m afraid to dwell on,” she admits, things, she thought I found them but I still feel. It’s me being more true, “because it is a debut album. It’s like, an on the internet and was printing. I and carefree. If I just kept my state, and introduction. ‘Hello, it’s me.’ But then was the really quiet girl in the horror my poor little ragged body, I wouldn’t do you need a second verse. I’m actually movies like ‘lah lah lah lala’ what is something, but since I’m dreaming, it’s plotting the next album,” she glints, she drawing?! My rolling head! I saw a solution.” “rubbing my hands together alone in my Freaks at nine, so of course I was room, laughing creepily.” DIY writing murder novels at eleven. At Pondering a tangible wave of artists this eleven I was killing everybody.”
basically an excuse
to be more daring.â€?
THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
rom popping up at every festival worth its salt, to winning the Mercury Prize for ‘Konnichiwa’, 2016 has been quite the year for Skepta. But if any moment really stood out for Tottenham grime star, it was his appearance at Glastonbury 2016. Setting the agenda for the genre, the scene and the mainstream itself – and all against the bleak backdrop of Brexit – Skepta spent his Pyramid Stage set proving himself a pioneer of a movement which has truly connected with the masses.
f there was one act who dominated the summer, it was Grimes and her Russian-rapping, neon technicolour ‘Art Angels’ show. Having blazed a trail across the world with her shows throughout the year, Claire Boucher has more than lived up to the hype of her fourth album and, unsurprisingly, she’s redefined herself as an incredibly confident performer, dead-set on transforming the face of pop stardom.
DEFINE YRSELF 2016 has seen many artists step out of the shadows and into the limelight. Choosing to define yourself has never been so in vogue: here are a few of the artists that have done it best in the last twelve months.
alling it a day at their “creative peak”, The Maccabees bucked a trend of bands limping towards the finish line with all the grace of a drunk attempting the 110m hurdles. When the band announced their split this year, no signs suggested they might be nearing a decline. In fact, fourth album ‘Marks to Prove It’ put them on another platform altogether. They’d always been surrounded by talk about “maturing” and honing their initially rowdy indie into something more fully-formed. This was the first time they’d genuinely achieved it, aging gracefully, if that’s really a term to throw at bands in their late twenties and early thirties. After being given their first shot as festival headliners at Latitude, going by convention, it’d be the time to follow up bigger shows, increasing demand, giant slots at Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds and around the world. To pull the plug this year seemed both insane and oddly admirable, but there’s one thing for sure: they sure went out on a high.
t’s no secret that we’re big fans of Wolf Alice here at DIY, and while the momentum behind their debut ‘My Love Is Cool’ has been building since its release back in July last year, it feels like they’ve really taken another step up this year. Having spent endless months out on the road, the quartet have been (not so) quietly perfecting their live show, climbing up festival bills and gearing up for their next record throughout 2016, moving towards the big leagues. They even managed to squeeze in making a film [Michael Winterbottom’s On The Road, dontchaknow - Ed] while they were at it, phew!
SWEET THIS YEAR’S SUPERSTARS
It’s been a massive 2016 for Yak, but as they head out on their biggest tour to date, Oli Burslem is only looking forward as the band push on after ‘Alas Salvation’. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Louise Mason.
SALVATION FOR ALL 60 diymag.com
or most bands, releasing an awesome debut album and touring the world would be enough for a year. Yak, though, aren’t most bands, and on the eve of their biggest European tour ever, vocalist Oli Burslem is only looking forward. Releasing debut LP ‘Alas Salvation’ in May, the band have already followed up with monstrous single ‘Heavens Above’, a suitable title for a track that feels biblical. It’s one of four songs recorded with ‘Alas Salvation’ producer and Pulp bassist Steve Mackey in a single day. It’s joined on a AA-side single by the hyper-political ‘Semi-Automatic’, a track with more than a slight reference to one Donald Trump - “build a new wall to form a division.” “‘Heavens Above’ took me about ten minutes to write,” Oli remembers. “I wrote it on a child’s guitar in the back of a van.” It’s the sign of a frontman who’s itching to write and record as quickly and furiously as possible, and would be in the studio for every moment of downtime from touring if it were feasible. “We’ve had to be very resourceful with the limited resources we’ve had at our disposal. We can’t be delicate about it, because we don’t have the time.” Delicate certainly isn’t the word to describe ‘Heavens Above’, and it’s the solid six months of touring since ‘Alas Salvation’ came out - and a great deal more before its release - that’s given Yak the itch to follow it up. “I’m just so excited about the new songs, and the prospect of even more,” he beams. “Yesterday, I was waiting to pick my friend up from a tube station in the car, and was writing a new song. I end up just going to bed so excited about these new songs.” Oli cites the varied nature of ‘Alas Salvation’ as a blessing, as to not be pigeonholed by its sound, allowing the band to blossom further under no preconceptions. “What I’m writing now is definitely a continuation,” he says. Despite this, he believes a “respect” needs to be given to what the band have achieved so far, when thinking about their next steps. “I like all kinds of music, personally, 61
but I respect what we’ve achieved with the band, and I don’t want to veer too far off that path, and don’t think we should. It was important for the first album to be quite varied though, as it gives us the scope to do whatever moving forward. We didn’t want to have any kind of limitations, as you never know what you’re going to write next, and that’s one of the exciting things about being in a band.” With the trio’s biggest UK and European tour currently in progress, they wanted to release ‘Heavens Above’ and accompanying B-side ‘SemiAutomatic’ “to get people excited about what we’re doing next, before we all get crew cuts and go travelling.”
child’s guitar in the back of a van.” Oli Burslem
Above’ on a
Though Oli uses the term “keep chugging away” when talking about where he finds inspiration for new songs, it’s inevitable that the massive year Yak have had will have fed into their makeup post-‘Alas Salvation’. “We’ve been everywhere this year,” he says, “which is obviously going to change us as people and give us more experiences.” As well as the constant
Oli Yak’s ‘imaginary telephone’ party trick still needs work.
It’s a year that’s bound to affect and change any band, let alone one touring their debut. 2016 has seen Yak lay waste to Glastonbury, tour relentlessly around the UK and beyond, and give ‘Alas Salvation’ the riotous live showing it deserves. The tour for the album isn’t even up yet, but all eyes are placed firmly forwards.
“I wrote ‘Heavens
Far from just tiding fans over, the new release sees Yak surging towards album two, not pausing for breath. A bit of downtime is set for around Christmas, with studio time scheduled for January, when work begins. “It’s important for us to just keep doing what we’re doing at the moment, and I’d be in the studio at every available moment if we possibly could,” he says.
touring, there have been particular experiences that felt more important - “we were in Paris on the night of the attacks, for a start, and saw the refugee camps in Calais first hand,” he reflects.
And even though they’re looking ahead, the band aren’t too bothered that there’s not a firm blueprint; the sense of jumping into the unknown keeps Yak as one of the country’s most exciting, invigorating bands. “It’s not that we’re disorganised,” he says, “but our view is that you should never play a gig with any expectations, and never enter a studio with any expectations. That way you can go into the experience and come out with something you never thought, and surprise yourself.” “I always look at it like a shitload of doors in a big room. You have to choose one door at each turn in order to carry on, and by the end you probably wouldn’t be able to find your way back. You got there though, and that’s what makes it exciting.” DIY
DIY POLL R
That’s right! We’ve shown off some of our favourite acts of the last year and now it’s time for you to have your say. Here’s your chance to tell us your favourite song, album, band, Indie Dreamboat and, frankly, whatever else you can think of from the past twelve months.
Best Song ___________________________________________________________________________
Best Album __________________________________________________________________________ Band of the Year ___________________________________________________________________ Breakthrough Band ______________________________________________________________ BEST PERSON IN (OR OUTSIDE OF) A BAND __________________________________________ Best Cover Version ________________________________________________________________ Most WTF Lyric ______________________________________________________________________ NEW BAND MOST LIKELY TO BE AMAZING IN 2017 __________________________________ BEST VIDEO ___________________________________________________________________________ BEST LIVE ACT _______________________________________________________________________ SAUCIEST WARBLER ________________________________________________________________________ INDIE DREAMBOAT OF THE YEAR ______________________________________________________ PRAT OF THE YEAR __________________________________________________________________ Fill this in and post it back to us at DIY HQ, The Laundry, London, E8 3FN , head to diymag.com/readerspoll2016 to fill it out online, or tweet or Instagram a photo of it to @diymagazine. We’ll reveal the results next month! 63
SLEIGH BELLS Jessica Rabbit
(Torn Clean / Lucky Number)
Sleigh Bells can’t be knocked off their perch.
ince their rill-rillin’ early days, Sleigh Bells have always specialised in a particular kind of sucker punch; the sort of diamond-toothed rock music that whacks like a hit of sweet-sour gobstopper. In the years following their ‘Treats’ debut, Alexis Krauss has grown from a self-confessed “session singer” to an all-out collaborator, and Derek Miller’s experiments with darkness have grown more shadowy and pronounced; with admittedly varied results. For every ‘Comeback Kid’ and ‘Bitter Rivals’, there was also the nagging feeling that Sleigh Bells hadn’t nailed the sweet spot they occupied so effortlessly on their debut. Their fourth album– named after a larger-than-life cartoon character, and stacked with boldly unabashed pop songs – might just be the remedy. Brave, bold, and screaming with attack – like a onomatopoeic BOOM! bubble
WHAT THEY SAY... “I THINK THIS RECORD WAS A REAL JOURNEY THAT WAS AT TIMES REALLY CHALLENGING FOR US, BUT ALSO REALLY EYE-OPENING.” ALEXIS KRAUSS
across the front of a comic – moments like ‘I Just Can’t Stand You Anymore’ and ‘I Can Only Stare’ shine brightest; the looming pop songs Sleigh Bells always had tucked up their sleeves. Alexis’ melodies are infectious and immediate, and in the hands of any other singer, might sound like a cover of Carly Rae Jeppo. On her watch, though, pop bangers get a brilliantly fearsome handling. ‘Jessica Rabbit’’s fearlessness is, at times, scrappy, ‘Rule Number One’’s squealing roars of guitar and terse hand claps colliding with around a thousand other half-sketched ideas. ‘It’s Just Us Now’, too, is slightly disorientating, like playing
Guitar Hero in the midst of a severe bout of sea-sickness. ‘As If’ is not so much a closing song, but a blank state for splats of chaotic stream-of consciousness. That said, Sleigh Bells still carry off the saturated messiness (just about) and for all its occasional overloading of ideas, when Alexis and Derek hunker down, and stick to their resolute guns, songs like ‘Baptism By Fire’ and the menacing squalls of ‘Hyper Dark’ jump monstrously out of the shadows, trading blows with hip-hop nodding trills. Energising Sleigh Bells with rocketfuel, ‘Jessica Rabbit’ stands up as the band’s most consistent record since ‘Treats’. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Crucible’, ‘I Just Can’t Stand You Anymore’ 65
Woman (Ed Banger Records / Because Music)
Justice have never been ones for subtlety - that much is clear from their berserk, maximalist disco. Remember listening to the unashamed crunching bombast of ‘†’, which soldered heavy metal and dance together like it was no big deal? It was desperately cheesy and outrageously cool at the same time. They didn’t give a fuck what people thought, carrying themselves more like an arena rock band, embracing the excess and going with it. It may have been nearly six years since last album, ‘Audio, Video, Disco’, but new record ‘Woman’ doesn’t see them take their foot off an excess-first pedal. Indeed, if anything, they’re going further: just take Xavier de Rosnay’s description: “like if you’re in the car with your best friend and your lover and your kids”. It features the London Contemporary Orchestra, it’s prog, it’s soul, there’s the sound of a choir. It’s not an album wanting for anything - all the toolbox of sonic tricks are here, but this version of Justice is a little more soulfully refined. ‘Randy’ is perhaps the most feel-good track they’ve ever released, if a little lacking in crunch. There are still tracks like ‘Chorus’ that pulverise, and closer ‘Close Call’ burbles along with its glassy synths ushering in the end of the album. So ‘Woman’ doesn’t see Justice scaling down their arena-sized anthems, just redefining them. (Danny Wright) LISTEN: ‘Chorus’
What happened to the
Justice were the poster-boys for mp3-hugging bloggers, wearing vests and playing low quality remixes at house parties. That world has since died down, but here’s what the other stars are up to.
Evolved her all-colour, madcap pop for the better on this year’s ‘Wild Things’.
Recently found themselves collaborating with alt-J at an ‘abstract’ music festival in Berlin’s Michelberger hotel.
The former MySpace queen has been back in the studio, working with Ammar Malik, whose pop credits include One Direction and Nick Jonas.
Apart from topping every chart in sight and collaborating with everyone who’s anyone, Diplo’s been pretty quiet, in fairness…
NICOLAS JAAR Sirens (Other People)
Nicolas Jaar has been releasing hordes of material for years under different monikers; sparingly as part of lengthy, disparate projects like his ‘Nymphs’ series; along with Dave Harrington in their joint Darkside venture and through his innovative radio network. To say the New York-based Chilean-American has been busy since the release of his first and only LP under his own name, 2011’s ‘Space Is Only Noise’, would be an understatement. Until now though, he, ever the perfectionist, wasn’t satisfied enough with any one project to proclaim it the follow-up, a genuine full-length. ‘Sirens’ is up there with Nicolas’ best work. The juddering, symphonic story telling of ‘Killing Time’ and ‘Three Sides of Nazareth’ sit perfectly with the more conventional side of his craft, such as the melancholic yet blearily merry ‘History Lesson’. It’s a record fans have been waiting over half a decade for, and it’s an undoubted triumph. (Henry Boon) LISTEN: ‘Killing Time’, ‘No’
eee JAY SOM
Turn Into (Polyvinyl)
With Jay Som’s debut album proper on the way, San Francisco-based DIY singer Melina Duterte is looking back, re-releasing her compilation-of-sorts, ‘Turn Into’. It’s a release that threatens to be bogged down by its lo-fi nature and fuzzy guitars at some points, but there’s enough melody bursting above the surface to stop the album sounding dirty. When the melodies do hit, most forcefully on opener ‘Peach Boy’, they’re sugar-sweet and full of life. Revisiting a collection of songs which has worked its way from being a demo tape, to a Bandcamp upload of “unfinished” tracks, to a proper re-release on one of the USA’s most-loved labels shows how far Jay Som has come in the past two years. When all of this promise is refined on her debut LP, it’ll be one to watch closely. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Peach Boy’
eeee FRANK IERO eeee
HONEYBLOOD babes never die (faTcat)
If it wasn’t for the distinctive twang of Stina Tweeddale’s vocals, the Honeyblood heard on ‘Babes Never Die’ could easily be confused for a totally different band to that of 2014’s self-titled debut. Well, it’s half true: ’new’ drummer Cat Myers stepped in just months after its release, and what had been committed to tape as soft, almost dream-like recordings quickly beefed up - it’s from there that ‘Babes Never Die’ carries on. There’s an opening hat-trick of smashers, the title track, ‘Ready For The Magic’ and ‘Sea Hearts’ making full use of pop-punk tropes: handclaps, devilishly infectious yell-along choruses, call-and-response guitar lines and a heart-warming gang mentality. ‘Babes Never Die’ may have begun life as Stina’s chest tattoo, here it’s a call-to-arms. ‘Walking at Midnight’ is dark and swirly, ‘Cruel Kids’ brings the pace down completely, and there’s even still time for a hint of the debut’s wistfulness with ‘Gangs’. But for the most part, Honeyblood’s second outing is a delicious face-punch of a record, running amok in the best way possible. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Sea Hearts’, ‘Ready for the Magic’
For anyone who anticipated that the name change of Frank Iero’s project might signal a certain swerve in direction, they’d be wrong. The NJ guitarist may have traded in his ‘Cellebration’ for a newfound ‘Patience’, but there’s little sense of tolerance on his second solo offering ‘Parachutes’. Ferociously brilliant from the opening chords of ‘World Destroyer’, his newest full-length sees Iero grabbing at the carnal heart of his beloved punk inspirations. Where his debut was rough around the edges, ‘Parachutes’ shows off the band’s more muscular side, whilst still managing to remain gloriously agitated. A record that’s frantic, frenetic and entirely cathartic, it takes the frontman’s self-doubt and fear, throws them into a spiky tangle of guitars and punishing drums and transforms them into some of Iero’s finest works yet. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘I’m A Mess’
WHAT THEY SAY...
“WE WANTED TO WRITE TEN BELTERS.” STINA TWEEDDALE
SOLANGE A Seat at the Table
(Saint Records / RCA)
Like Lauryn Hill and her sister Beyoncé before her, ‘A Seat at the Table’ is Solange pinpointing that art - and specifically black art - can and should be universal, regardless of its themes. For years, black audiences have been excluded from much more than just a sing-a-long at a festival or a gig. It’s OK if it’s not written for you, and that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy, respect and be in awe of its majesty and empowerment. And that’s what ‘A Seat at the Table’ is; it’s lusciously written, produced, and arranged. It also examines the intricacies and complexities of a creative mind, navigating through the emotionally and physically lifethreatening situations of just existing. By giving the album a universality, Solange speaks of what it means for her to be a black woman, but also what it means to be a human being. Take a seat at the table, open your mind and let Solange tell her truth. It’s worth it. (Alim Kheraj) LISTEN: ‘Cranes in the Sky’, ‘Mad’
Behind the lens Solange’s behind-the-scenes documentary for ‘A Seat at the Table’ is well worth a watch. Shot between August 2013 and February 2014, it stars collaborators Sampha, Kindness, Kwes and more, travelling from Long Island to New Iberia. There’s one big take from the making-of film: Solange looks insanely relaxed throughout the whole process, penning songs at candlelight, a glass of wine by her side.
LUSCIOUSLY WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND ARRANGED.
eeee JAWS Simplicity
.So Long Forever (Fiction)
London quartet Palace’s debut occupies a space that’s probably never been given much thought to, falling somewhere between ‘Parachutes’-era Coldplay and Foals’ ‘Antidotes’ days. But on the evidence of much of ‘So Long Forever’, it’s not a space that particularly needed occupying. The record attempts to fully grasp grand designs, but so much of it hardly progresses far beyond the blueprint. There are legitimate highlights – when the band really get into their stride on the likes of ‘Bitter’, ‘Live Well’ and ‘Have Faith’, there’s an invigorating energy about them – but ultimately, ‘So Long Forever’ passes unassumingly at best, forgettable at worst. It’s not helped by a lack of solid lyrical connection but, equally, it’s above being confined to mere background music. (Tom Hancock) LISTEN: ‘Break the Silence’
Q&A Palace’s debut has taken them from musty rehearsal-space beginnings to an actual recording studio with central heating! Very palatial. Frontman Leo Wyndham is enjoying the ease of playing his guitar without a pair of mittens to contend with. Words: El Hunt It’s a big moment for Palace - you’ve Zeppelin’s reverb box and stuff like that. got a debut album! Are you excited It was mad. to be putting out a ‘full body of work’ finally? ‘So Long Forever’ deals with some Beyond excited. I don’t think there’s a difficult - and personal - subject word in the English language that sums matter. Does it feel vulnerable to be up how we feel about it. It feels like a putting that much of yourself out massive achievement to have got here, there? from a band playing for fun in mini It’s a funny thing putting out personal sweaty rehearsal spaces to putting out stuff like that. I’ve never really done it a full length album and touring the in any other way in my life, or exposed world - that’s pretty far out! myself like that (not in that way!). But it’s an incredibly cathartic thing to do How was it working in a studio that now, it feels like you’re shedding your had working radiators for a change? skin of certain things when you put a It was so strange. We’re so used to song out that has personal meaning. wearing twenty layers in our studio and playing guitar in gloves (which is quite If Palace’s debut album was a plate of tricky). Suddenly we were in a clean food, what would it be, and why? studio with Adam Jaffrey, our awesome It’d be a packet of Snyders Jalapeño producer. It was pretty darn nice. The Pretzels. If you haven’t tried them, go equipment was next level too, and we now. got to use John Paul Jones from Led
Unless you’re The Chainsmokers, all bands mature by default. They learn more, gain different experiences, grow the odd bit of stubble. As expected, Birmingham trio JAWS have matured like one of Alex James’ fine cheeses. But the progression between 2014 debut ‘Be Slowly’ and follow-up ‘Simplicity’ is significant. Their first work was rough-around-the-edges. But JAWS always had the potential to turn into a grunge-infested, kicking and screaming juggernaut. ‘Simplicity’ finds the group reaching that next phase in record time. Frontman Connor Schofield has a lyrical depth that he lacked first time round. Especially on ’17’, where its portrait of anxiety (“there’s a beast on my back… got his claws down my neck”) deals with pain in a smart, controlled way. ‘Work It Out’’s sunkissed chorus sounds like the answer to Friendly Fires’ disappearing act. Production is rich and free to roam, nodding to The 1975’s latest. There’s still room to grow. ‘Simplicity’ doesn’t settle on one, distinguished identity. JAWS remain a band testing the water. The difference here, is that each time they dip their toes, they take several steps forwards. (Jamie Milton) LISTEN: ‘Right in Front of Me’, ‘17’
eee JUNK SON Beginning, Ending, Pretending
John Dunk has a pretty neat day job. The classically-trained musician, originally from Kendal, writes music for film and TV, so it’s perhaps no surprise that his project Junk Son sounds like it could’ve been lifted straight from a soundtrack. His music sits somewhere between ambient soundscapes and graceful trip-hopinspired beats; ‘Beginning Ending Pretending’ is filled with the type of intricacies and glitches you might find punctuating a cult indie sci-fi flick. Sometimes it verges towards background music territory, but as a third of the album’s title suggests at least, it’s only the beginning for Junk Son. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Pace By Pace’ 69
JIMMY EAT WORLD
Integrity Blues (Dine Alone
Bands don’t get a lot of ‘me time’, let alone a chance to properly reflect. Two decades plus in the game by this point, it’s exactly what Jimmy Eat World needed between album eight and nine. It gave them time to do what they wanted, via solo projects or developing a passion for brewing, as you do. They also each assessed just why they were making a new album (aside from the obvious “Yay! New Jimmy Eat World! motive”). It has great bursts of euphoria in its midst, but for the most part ‘Integrity Blues’ brims with a simpler tale of life being a work in progress, and a journey of self-discovery. After time to think, it’s good that the conclusion of their own self-discovery was a new Jimmy Eat World album, because it’s always, always, a good decision. Reliability might seem like a backhanded compliment in some cases, but with Jimmy Eat World it’s a thoroughly enjoyable quality. (Heather McDaid) LISTEN: ‘Sure and Certain’, ‘You Are Free’
eeee KADHJA BONET
( Fat Possum / Fresh Selects)
Kadhja Bonet’s music could easily belong in another time, a hybrid between the past and the future. Debut mini-LP ‘The Visitor’ could feel completely at home in ballrooms and ‘60s film montages, but instead places itself into the present day with unexpected twists. The San Francisco newcomer claims to have been “born in 1784 in the backseat of a sea-foam green space pinto”, and this abstract, undefinable nature seeps through every moment here, the album creating a whole new world for itself to live in. If Kadhja Bonet is ‘The Visitor’ herself, it’s a trip that should be savoured. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Gramma Honey’ 70 diymag.com
.New Skin (Columbia)
There’s still something warm and fuzzy about ‘New Skin’, despite CRX chief protagonist Nick Valensi’s attempts to make it anything but. It’s not the sounds themselves - they’re a curious mishmash between his famed Strokes noodling and a darker tinge not a million miles away from producer Josh Homme’s best-loved work - but the reassuring familiarity of it all. While we’ve not heard Nick’s vocals out front before, those frantic fretwork and well-trodden chord changes work like an aural comfort blanket. Yet this is no carbon-copy. Lead single ‘Ways to Fake It’ might sound like his day-job minus Julian’s raspy vocals, but elsewhere it’s only ‘Anything’ that comes audibly close. In fact, knob-twiddler Josh leaves just as much a stamp, ‘Broken Bones’ and ‘Monkey Machine’ giving more than a clue to their collaborator’s identity from the off. There is, as Nick himself has said, much for Strokes fans to love on ‘New Skin’, but it’d be a disservice to assume that’s where CRX start and finish. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Walls’, ‘Broken Bones’
Q&A The Strokes’ Nick Valensi explains why now was the right time for a side-project. Interview: Liam Konemann. What made you start CRX? The catalyst was missing being onstage and being on tour. Not getting my fill of live performances. Over the years, performing live has become one of my favourite parts of being a musician. Would you say you’re a reluctant frontman? When you’re the guitar player in a band it’s easy to command attention when you want it, and disappear into the shadows when you don’t want it. I was always very comfortable in that role. Even growing up, I always loved
watching Axl Rose but I never wanted to be him. I identified more with Izzy and Slash. Always. I still do. Working with Josh Homme must have been pretty special, too. Never in my life have I had the opportunity to work with someone who could seem so certain that one idea was right and the other was wrong! Josh’s style is: when we’re faced with a decision let’s make it, and then let’s move on and never think about that decision again.
eeee NXWORRIES Yes Lawd!
(Stones Throw Records)
SAD13 Slugger (Carpark)
Doffing its rainbow-bagel headpiece in the vague sonic direction of No Doubt, The Cardigans, and Garbage, ‘Slugger’s pop-leanings still have a biting, off-kilter sensibility, and Sadie Dupuis’ debut solo album is the sort of fired-up, fully-charged record Buffy might blast through headphones before heading out for a packed night of vampire slaying. Though Dupuis is wielding bullshit-busting songs like ‘Devil in U’ instead of garlands of garlic, bubbling cauldrons, repeated horoscope references, and a healthy amount of ass-kicking (each hoof aimed firmly towards manipulative people and terrible influences) still set the mood. Taking its name from a tiny boy armed with a magically cathartic baseball bat, ‘Slugger’ is a giant thwack of empowerment, celebrating (among numerous other things) self-care, mutual respect, communication in relationships, and consent. In less capable hands, this record might come across as a weighty topic checklist. Sad13, however, doesn’t just raise these discussions, she presents them as a bundle of sexy, glitter-soaked fun. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Get A Yes’, ‘Line Up’ ‘Devil in U’
Clocking in at a daunting 19 tracks (as is the custom in 2016, apparently), NxWorries set themselves up to fail, and as a result it’s the more impressive when they don’t. Knxwledge without a doubt has his own sound, but it’s also varied enough to not grow stale. Anderson .Paak is equally multi-faceted. Anyone who’s ever seen him perform will know that he’s not a one-trick-pony; one minute he’ll be focused and stationary; the next he’ll be dancing slickly; the next he’ll be simultaneously drumming and rapping. With short tracks, skits and interludes, admittedly ‘Yes Lawd!’ does feel a bit more like a mixtape than an album at times but that’s simply the NxWorries way. In a pairing with this much chemistry, they can be forgiven for getting a little carried away. (Henry Boon) LISTEN: ‘Livvin’, ‘Starlight’
Do Easy (Bella Union / Hand Drawn
By definition, ‘Do Easy’ is about the quasiBuddhist notion which teaches you to retrain your brain to do everything in the fewest number of steps. And in keeping with the philosophy that inspired the record, everything feels effortless on Tasseomancy’s third LP. This is a record of shades and shifting colours and a warm, graceful luxuriousness. If albums could be translated into actual philosophies, this would be a great one to subscribe to. (Danny Wright) LISTEN: ‘Jimi Infiniti’
A GIANT THWACK OF EMPOWERMENT. 71
THE JAPANESE HOUSE Swim Against the Tide EP
(Dirty Hit )
From day one, it seemed absurd to think The Japanese House could ever build on those diamond-strong foundations. She took the standard tools of a thousand amateur producers and wove something fresh and altogether otherworldly out of them. Third time around, though, The Japanese House has taken on a new shape. ‘Face Like Thunder’ is undoubtedly the pinnacle, a toy box of electronic oddities framing the bare bones of Amber’s most chart-ready pop hook to date. The opening titletrack, meanwhile, finds her facing down her struggles with a swarm of frazzled, percussive clicks and buzzes. “I’m still thinking of a new way to say ‘I miss you’,” she softly confesses, but when it’s framed by such a delicately constructed house of cards, that simple sentiment is all it takes. Where previous explorations of such expansive sounds found Amber boxed-in by her means, ‘Leon’ sounds fit to fill the seven seas, her confessions spilling without limitation. By the time that debut album arrives, god only knows what world she could inhabit. (Tom Connick) LISTEN: ‘Face Like Thunder’, ‘Leon’
eee BALANCE AND COMPOSURE Light We Made (Big Scary Monsters)
With their previous two records, Balance and Composure proved themselves experts at melding together fraught emotion and raw aggression. But, as the band have grown up, they’ve also grown away from those explosive roots. With their newest offering – third full-length ‘Light We Made’ – they’ve found themselves exploring the more melodic, scuzzed-up territories that their sound originally bordered, and their foray works. It may not be the band’s definitive moment, but their readiness to try something new shows them in a brilliant new light. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Afterparty’
Dreamless (Zoo Music)
Crocodiles have always seen themselves as a guitar band, first and foremost. But here, the guitars have taken a back seat and best friends Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell have tried to apply different tools. It’s a creative risk that might not have paid off as much as the pair had hoped. Although they’ve tried to challenge their aesthetic on ‘Dreamless’, it’s the moments they return to past form that work best. Branching out musically is a bold step that pays off in flashes, but the riff work in ‘Welcome to Hell’ and ‘Jailbird’’s brief guitar solo confirm that, at heart, Crocodiles are strongest with guitars in hand. (Liam Konemann) LISTEN: ‘Welcome to Hell’
WHAT THEY SAY...
“FUCK IT, I JUST WANT A FUN SONG!” 72 diymag.com
PHOTO: MIKE MASSARO
Familiar Touch (Culvert Music)
No longer hiding behind fuzz and lo-fi production, DIANA’s second album channels the essence of the past. Throughout, the band use a variety of vintage synth tones, and guitar and basslines that even Nile Rodgers would kill for. Joseph Sabason’s euphoric bursts of R&B saxophone inject some serious groove into the likes of ‘Cry’, while the superbly slick ‘These Words’ is like if Prince met Tears For Fears. Despite its obvious touchstones, though, ‘Familiar Touch’ never sounds like a cheesy pastiche or throwback. Instead it draws together its various influences into a tightly knit collection of modern pop. The sandy handclaps and beats on ‘Slipping Away’, for instance, turn it into a contemporary dance banger. As a result, you’ll want to feel DIANA’s comfortingly familiar touch again and again. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Slipping Away’, ‘Confession’
Missed the boat on the best albums from the last couple of months? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Bon Iver 22, A MILLION
Bizarre symbols, lyrics about sleeping in stables, and mad numerology don’t stop Justin Vernon’s latest from being a pure and simple dream.
Side-stepping the so-called curse of the second album, DIANA are raring to go with ‘Familiar Touch,’ says Kieran Adams. Words: El Hunt Your debut album ‘Perpetual Surrender’ was nominated for Canada’s Polaris Prize, which is obviously a huge show of recognition. Did any pressure to equal that, or nah? To be honest, I think that there was definitely some of that pressure there, at least initially. Once the album started coming together into a cohesive form I think that pressure lifted. But we also knew from the onset we wanted to do something different, a little more ambitious, and also something that felt more earnest. So even at times when we felt that pressure the strongest, we’d already kind of pre-programmed ourselves to ignore it. You can spend a bunch of time guessing what people might respond to - and maybe if you’re writing tracks that are just designed to
smash people into a zombie-like singalong state there’s a formula you can follow - but otherwise it’s best to just keep tuning into whatever moves you, and try to get that into a recorded form. You changed things up for ‘Familiar Touch’, and worked on songs for almost a year before committing them to record. How did that aid the whole process? We set up our own studio and had endless time to work - save for some self-imposed deadlines, which always got stretched. We still had mostly positive energy by the end of it, and though I think we all had to take a break from listening once mixes were done, listening back now there’s a lot of pride and excitement about what we’ve done.
Danny Brown Atrocity Exhibition
Fidgety and anxious, the rapper’s new album takes a downward spiral before finding light at the end of the tunnel.
Partybaby The Golden Age of Bullshit
Dividing everyday anxieties into easily digestible sugar-bombs, the Californians’ debut is one of the year’s finest. 73
Nothing Gives (Leisure & Direct)
Don’t read too much into Slowcoaches’ name; it’s a tall order to keep up with this London trio. Their debut LP comes speeding out the starting blocks and runs one hell of a race. ‘Nothing Gives’ is unrelentingly intense but, at the same time, inexplicably soothing. Despite navigating break-ups, breakdowns, mental illness and job loss – and more besides – it’s far from a full-on descent into doom and gloom. Cuts like ‘Ex Head’ and ‘Living Out’ are just as turbo-charged and intense as the rest, but there’s a certain shine to them that juxtaposes brilliantly with their lyrical content. ‘Nothing Gives’, as it happens, gives a lot. (Tom Hancock) LISTEN: ‘Norms & Values’, ‘Get Ripped’
Epoch (Ghostly International)
Unperturbed by a string of high-profile releases on the same day (Bon Iver, Solange, Pixies), Scott Hansen triggered his own ‘Epoch’ early, completing his current trilogy of Tycho albums with a surprise self-release. Hansen has always been interested in capturing the zeitgeist, and the stark yet muted colours of his self-designed album cover certainly suggest uncertain, dark times. When ‘Epoch’ occasionally wanders into muted, more minimalist territory, as on ‘Receiver’, it does appear as if he’s being more reflective. But this is a Tycho album, and it doesn’t take long on opener ‘Glider’ for familiar, crystalline synth melodies to kick in. Indeed, for a record that promises a hefty dose of darkness, there’s an awful lot of light streaming in. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Glider’
COMING Up MENACE BEACH Lemon Memory
The fruity second outing from DIY faves and Leeds-based grungers Menace Beach was written in Ibiza, recorded in Sheffield and is out everywhere on 20th January.
GONE IS GONE Echolation
The first record from a group featuring members of Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age and At the Drive-In, it’s obviously not a subdued, understated affair.
CLOUD NOTHINGS Life Without Sound
January is loud. That much is already clear. Few express noise with as much melodic brilliance as Cloud Nothings, who keep getting better with every record. Their latest is out 27th January.
eee SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO
Welcome to Sideways (Delicacies)
Simian Mobile Disco have prefaced this latest LP with a claim that it’s “aimed squarely at the dancefloor”. It’s presumably supposed to signpost a move away from the complex approach of predecessor ‘Whorl’. You get the impression that ‘Welcome to Sideways’ is intended as another left turn. Although in reality, it ends up more of a reversion than a reaction. It’s surprisingly subdued. Not strictly low in tempo, it’s more that cuts like the minimalist ‘Bubble Has No Answers’ lack the sort of vigour you’d come to expect from James Ford and Jas Shaw when they resolve to make out-and-out dance music. It isn’t that ‘Welcome to Sideways’ lacks nice ideas - more that they feel a muted next to the sprawling ‘Whorl’. They made their name as innovators in straight-for-the-gut techno a decade ago - this time around feels like a step backwards. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Remember in Reverse’
eee MALE BONDING
The thing with “surprise releases” in 2016 is that most of the time, they don’t actually amount to being an actual surprise. For ‘Headache’ - the third album from cult London three-piece Male Bonding - the same doesn’t apply. After 2011’s ‘Endless Now’, the band completely vanished from the public eye, never really indicating that they were returning with anything solid. Now here we are with ‘Headache’, a record that feels as much as a nail in the coffin as it does a final victory lap for the fans. Released without any sort of context or any sort of foreseeable future, the album revisits the frantic art rock that ran rampant when they released their debut ‘Nothing Hurts’ in 2010, especially in the stop-start, post-punk guitars of ‘What’s Wrong?’ that even features lyrics of being “sad on the beach” (early Wavves, anyone?). ‘Headache’ sounds unabashedly like the Male Bonding that first caught everyone’s attention, but at points it’s confusingly washed with warped vocal effects and songs that ultimately feel half baked; a product of three years ago. (Tom Walters) LISTEN: ‘What’s Wrong?’
LADY GAGA Joanne (Interscope)
Totally binning off the retina-battering visual barrage of her fairly all-over-the-shop last album ‘Artpop’, Lady Gaga’s ‘Joanne’ has just one agenda: simplify. Recruiting a sizeable dream team of unlikely collaborators for the ride (Beck, Mark Ronson, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Father John Misty, Florence and The Machine, and Josh Homme to name but a few) is also a deliberate move to switch gears. It’s a brave, if not entirely seamless, shift in tone from one of the world’s biggest pop stars. On the welly-filled ballad ‘Million Reasons’, and ‘Sinner’s Prayer’, Lady Gaga’s reinvention is clearest. It’s hard to find fault in her vocal, more powerful than ever, and flecked with human-sounding flaws. Intentionally overwrought, brash, and totally different to anything she’s ever done before, ‘Joanne’ doesn’t quite nail the artistic frankness she’s aiming for, and as with all her other albums before this, ‘Gaga goes country rock’ serves as yet another costume. Still, as costumes go, it’s an unpredictable one, that – on the whole – Lady Gaga wears quite well. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Sinner’s Prayer’, ‘A-Yo’, ‘Hey Girl’
eeee AMERICAN WRESTLERS
Goodbye Terrible Youth
With American Wrestlers’ self-titled debut, Gary McClure seemed to be creating his dream imaginary band. Drum machine in tow, he turned what can often be the crux of a solo musician – that whole bit about being solo - into not only his asset, but a sheer delight to listen to. The obvious next step was to bring the band to life, and explore the oomph that new creative forces can bring. Turns out, it’s quite a lot. It’s AW 2.0: bigger and bolder, the bare bones of exciting promise from last year’s release built upon. There’s a great and clear leap forward this time around, but this still has all the cornerstones of what drove so much attention: the ability to lull listeners through power pop or be taken in dreamlike trances, lyrics that take you on new journeys with every listen. (Heather McDaid) LISTEN: ‘Give Up’, ‘Real People’
MORE POWERFUL THAN EVER. 75
super furry animals
BY THE SEA
Dreamland, Margate. Photos: Luke Hannaford
bat for lashes
A FITTING WAY TO END ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING ALBUM TOURS FOR YEARS. WOLF ALICE
ast year, By The Sea debuted on the circuit with a headline performance from Foals. This year they’re letting Wolf Alice give debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’ a headline send-off, playing the last show of its tour, a definitive cherry on top of what’s been an incredible journey for them so far. In the Hall By The Sea, Wild Beasts deliver a synth-tastic, electrifying set. It may be getting chilly outside as the darkness descends and the sea breeze gets that little bit stronger, but inside things are definitely heating up. ‘Alpha Female’ and ‘Big Cat’ see frontman Hayden Thorpe’s vocal talents peak, his charming falsetto bouncing around the hall washing over everyone in an alluring wave of sound. Expectations for Super Furry Animals’ set are pretty high, which might be why their lacklustre set opening, which fittingly includes a performance of ‘Slow Life’, is a bit disheartening. They eventually warm up to blast through an impressive back catalogue of hits, but if not for the massive amounts of chemistry they have, it would all be a bit dull. Over in the Roller Disco – unfortunately not offering skates out to hire – Mystery Jets are fully proving once and for all that they have come a long way from their light and fluffy indie pop days, now fully immersed in an indiepsych sound that’s now (in the case of ‘Bubblegum’, anyway) starting to get a livelier reaction from the crowd than former favourites ‘Two Doors Down’ and ‘Young Love’.
Blasting ‘Killing In The Name Of’ while people drive mini cars into each other, he takes pleasure in friendlily reminding people to drive in the right direction. Despite spraining her ankle, Kagoule’s bassist and co-vocalist Lucy takes to the stage on crutches, only to abandon them reasoning that you “can’t rock on crutches.” An admirable act, that’s followed by one of the best, most controlled sets of the festival. Bat for Lashes takes to the stage all in red, fitted with a veil and flowers ready to make her way through recent album ‘The Bride’ in order, with a break here and there to perform vocally haunting tracks such as ‘Daniel’ and ‘Laura’ to a packed out hall. Echoes of “you’re more than a superstar” resound around the hall for quite some time, not so much echoing Natasha’s words, but to actually direct them straight to her. The weekend is jammed full of interesting, mesmerising and massively talented acts, but none really have a patch on Wolf Alice. Claiming the set as their “last gig for a thousand years”, it’s clearly an emotional one for the band. This is something the crowd have no problem in reacting to however, everyone determined to make it one to remember. The air is absolutely electric from the instant they step out onto the stage. Considering they do only have one album and a handful of EPs under their belt, it’s commendable that they have a set so tightly packed with hits that it leaves no time for the crowd to rest.
Leaving the stage briefly to be forced back onto the stage by relentless chants of “one more song” - even ‘Blush’, an intimate and poignantly slower track in comparison, still manages to evoke a lively reaction from the crowd. Mosh pits are turned in for aggressive swaying and it’s evident that everyone is clinging onto each moment with the band - and vice versa. When the set ends with Ellie being carried through the It’s not just on-stage performances however, crowd during ‘Giant Peach’, it’s no as Jarvis Cocker makes surprise; in fact, it’s a fitting way to end what has been one of the most an iconic appearance exciting album tours for years. at the Dodgems to VANT (Samantha Daly) spin some tunes. 77
Neighbourhood Festival M Various venues, Manchester. Photo: Sinéad Grainger.
anchester’s inaugural Neighbourhood Festival sees hundreds of different acts take over eleven venues in the south end of the city over the course of one day. Londoners Babeheaven begin the afternoon with an hypnotic set under the lights of a sparkly disco ball. The set is filled with wistful indie-pop, a mythical element to their floaty instrumentation. New single ‘Moving On’ was released a day prior, and ‘Friday Sky’ is a lovely, melodic number.
Elsewhere, INHEAVEN produce a whirlwind of dreamy soundscapes nestled in distorted guitars. It’s impossible not to immediately fall in love with the Londoners and their soaring brand of punk-slash-shoegaze. The enchanting, newly-released ‘Drift’ features bassist Chloe Little stepping up on vocal duty, and crowd favourite ‘Bitter Town’ – a crisis anthem for the escapist in each and every one of us – exudes a dizzying energy. They are only one of a string of stellar acts to grace Sound Control, with Hooton Tennis Club and VANT soon taking to the stage. Hooton charm the crowd with fuzzy, garage pop tunes. New tracks ‘Meet Me at the Molly Bench’, ‘Katy-Anne Bellis’, and ‘O Man, Won’t You Melt Me?’ are the strongest picks off the upcoming record. Later, VANT set the room ablaze with storming, thrilling punk. The crowd’s thirst is quenched by new single ‘Peace & Love’, though the 45-minute set isn’t nearly long enough to fully appease. There’s a sort of frantic insatiableness to the audience that only the bestial nature of VANT’s set can satisfy. The band play with volatile, nervous energy on tracks such as ‘Parking Lot’, and it is both catharsis for the band and the sweaty youths of the circle pits. Headliners Circa Waves close the night at the historic Albert Hall in typical high-energy guitar-pop fashion, and it is to them that the evening ultimately belongs. ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ could have been sung by the whole of the Albert Hall alone; each song is more energetic, more frenzied than the last, and it comes to no surprise that the 2,000-strong crowd knows each and every word by heart. An explosion of confetti accompanies classic set closer and festival favourite ‘T-Shirt Weather’. It celebrates not only the end of a joyous and momentous set, but also the end to a successful first instalment of Neighbourhood Festival. (Cady Siregar)
INHEAVEN 78 diymag.com
Kentish Town Forum, London. Photo: Ben McQuaide.
onight, after rousing support slots from members of London collective Greasy Deep and the disco-tinged Bad Sounds, Rat Boy crashes onstage to the sound of police sirens and launches into a set filled with tinny samples and observant lyrics. The enthusiasm of his audience has been widely noted tonight is no exception. There are several sweat-soaked casualties as the pit swirls itself into a frenzy. He consistently pleads with them to “spread out, c’mon, I know you can do it” – partly to prevent injuries and partly because they’re trying to film a video. There’s little success corralling the bodies down the front, who crash back into each other almost as soon as they have stepped apart. The Essex native’s fondness for R&B comes through during soul-inspired jam ‘Get Over It’, before ‘Left 4 Dead’ and ‘Wasteman’ ramp up the energy. The band’s exit is hidden by a bright flash before the lights go down. But the self-aware encore isn’t for Rat Boy – they’re gone less than a minute before sirens and smoke signal a return. ‘Sign On’ brings the biggest cheer of the night, and its hyperactive buzz spills over into closer ‘Fake ID’. With tonight’s minimum age limit set to eight, and the average closer to fifteen, a large portion of the crowd still have their fake ID years ahead of them. They’ll gladly use Rat Boy for the soundtrack. (Liam Konemann)
Nambucca, London. Photo: Matt Richardson.
fter triumphing in Glastonbury’s emerging talent contest and sparking a label bidding war, Declan McKenna has taken the indie world by storm with a string of fun, energetic and poignant singles. Tonight, the seventeen year-old from Hertfordshire takes to the tiny stage at Nambucca, a small bar nestled in the heart of Holloway, greeted by a roar of encouragement. Declan is frequently described as a ‘rough diamond’, but his live show here feels fully formed and his set list is diverse enough to ensure there’s never a dull moment. ‘Brazil’, a punchy, melodic critique of corruption in the 2014 World Cup, is performed with remarkable elegance. In contrast, latest single and set closer ‘Isombard’ is surely destined for indie-disco immortality and provides an explosion of energy. The highlight, however, is ‘Paracetamol’ – a brooding, emotive anthem in which Declan recalls “a girl, fifteen, with her head in a noose”. The song offers a refreshing change of pace and provides a solitary moment of melancholy amidst a set rife with upbeat indie melodies. It may be months until his eighteenth birthday, but tonight Declan shows little sign of inexperience. His crowd interaction is warm and genuinely funny, and performances of newer material showcase an artist still experimenting with his sound. It’s hard to remember a solo artist this promising since Jamie T arrived on the scene almost ten years ago. (Dan Jeakins) 79
LI Catholic VE Action
The Old Blue Last, London. Photo: Jonathan Dadds.
n the intimate upstairs room of London’s Old Blue Last tonight, a roaring guitar kicks off Catholic Action’s UK tour. Hot off the Glaswegian streets, the four-piece bring their rocky guitar pop to life with serious attitude and self-confidence. ‘Breakfast’ is as punchy as ever; the anthemic refrain of ‘L.U.V’ hits home even harder live. The on-stage charisma of frontman Chris McCrory is undeniable, and with guitarist Andrew Macpherson, who without a microphone yells the odd lyric at the room – their effortlessness and powerful bass lines giving them the air of a band three times their experience, pacing through their catchy tracks with unrelenting energy. Moments of calm are smashed apart by the raucous instrumental climax of ‘Rita Ora’, loud enough to wake the entire city from its autumnal slumber. Chris leads with a toocool-to-care attitude that’s shared by the rest of the band, joking with the crowd from behind his enviable glam-rock locks, “This is a slow song, so like, if you could all shut up,” and they make a memorable exit. Dropping their instruments in a rockstar-esque strop they file out one by one, ‘The Wash’ hangs in the dingy air and oh yes, Catholic Action are only getting started. (Betty Townley)
Roundhouse, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
ack in the city where the band played their first show almost fifteen years ago, when Alison Mosshart admits “London...it’s good to be home!”, she’s right tonight feels like a homecoming celebration.
The Kills, as ever, thrive on an intense energy. Alison barely stays still, brutal in her vocal delivery, and Jamie Hince, more contained than his bandmate, shines, playing the band’s brooding riffs. ‘U.R.A Fever’ is far richer and more brutal live, all screaming guitars and conviction from the get-go, and ‘Black Balloon’, greeted by an especially enthusiastic spattering of applause, is a slow tune that builds to a triumphant finish.
Photo: Chris Bethell
Though new material from this year’s ‘Ash & Ice’ may be in some ways heavier than earlier material, both translate seamlessly on stage. Set opener ‘Heart of a Dog’ and ‘Doing It To Death’ are two newbies that already feel like Kills classics, their unique brand of no-holds-barred rock is not one to mellow with age. But for a set so full of ferocity, a four song encore provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the band’s versatility. Two songs – an acoustic Alison solo rendition of ‘That Love’ and, then joined by the rest of the live band, a poignant ‘The Last Goodbye’ - depart from their usual raw and rough delivery to show a band that, despite being loud, blistering and brilliant, can shine in calmer moments equally as well. It’s cliched but entirely true to say The Kills are still, thankfully, completely killing it. (Rachel Michaella Finn) 80 diymag.com
Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Betty May.
his is my favourite venue in the world!” - Jamie T bounds onto Brixton Academy’s historic stage with a sense of purpose. The first of his three night residency, the Wimbledon boy turned indie hero looks a man at the peak of his powers. In truth, a lot of the nuance of latest album ‘Trick’ is lost in a rowdy live gig like this, but heavier tracks like ‘Tescoland’, ‘Solomon Eagle’ and ‘Tinfoil Boy’ inspire a bullish reaction from the crowd. ‘Sheila’ sparks an inevitable mass sing-a-long, but more impressive is the roar that greets album tracks from years gone by. ‘Salvador’, ‘368’ and ‘The Man’s Machine’ are belted out like age-old classics – much was made of the success of Jamie T’s 2014 comeback, but it’s his first two records that resonate most here. The arrival of ‘Sticks ‘n’ Stones’ prompts absolute chaos – mosh pits appear from every angle with crowdsurfers pulled over the barrier by security. Then comes an encore of ‘Back In The Game’ – a fan favourite from debut ‘Panic Prevention’ which serves as a reminder of just how far Jamie T has come as a musician and performer. Proceedings come to a close with ‘Zombie’ – the single that launched his comeback so successfully two years ago. It marks the end of a set which finds the right balance between nostalgia and new sonic pastures – in 2016 Jamie T feels very much like an artist who hasn’t forgotten his past, but is still set to have an exciting future. (Dan Jeakins)
Black Honey The Lexington, London. Photo: Ben McQuaide.
t’s the fifth night of Black Honey’s biggest ever UK tour, and the fifth sell-out – the second at The Lexington. Anyone who snapped up tickets to be here tonight is as lucky as they are dedicated; the greatness-bound Brighton force aren’t going to be playing venues this intimate for much longer. Their live show is a true spectacle, and the most powerful experience of their captivating cinematic world. From watching the audience like a hawk, to acting out the songs with such raw passion her face trembles, Izzy B. Phillips is in complete control – and her bandmates instinctively follow suit. When they unleash a huge rendition of ‘All My Pride’ halfway into the set, they’re in thrilling full flow. Before that, on early cut ‘Bloodlust’, Izzy demands, “Louder!” Unsurprisingly, the mass in front of her is quick to oblige. With their leader’s bewitching presence and the dazzling illumination of their name behind them contributing to their indelible all-round image, there’s already something iconic about Black Honey. They’ve already got the anthems as well: ‘Madonna’ and ‘Corrine’ bookend the set and are almost as much crowd efforts as they are the band’s, while brand new single ‘Hello Today’ is received as if it’s been around for years. The love for Black Honey is undeniably strong. It’s no wonder REFUSED why. (Tom Hancock) 81
INDIE DREAMBOAT Of the Month
ph oto: Em m a swa n n
Full name: Declan Benedict McKenna Nickname: Tech Deck Star Sign: Capricorn Pets? Two cats Favourite Film? Calvary Favourite Food? Ribena lollies Drink of choice? Ribena Signature scent? Freshly opened bottle of Ribena Favourite hair product? Shampoo What song would you play to woo someone? Blur - ‘Song 2’ If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing? A levels Chat up line of choice? Are you from Idaho? Cause Ida-hold you in my arms and never let go
Published on Oct 30, 2016
November's issue is all about 2016's superstars, from Tame Impala's Kevin Parker who's gone from introspective guitar noodler to bonafide fr...