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Free • Issue 79 • October 2018 DIYMAG.COM • Set Music Free


john grant sundara karma mø fucked up basement

being human 1


2008 - 2018


OCTOBER 2018 QUESTION! When Wolf Alice won the Hyundai Mercury Prize, they splashed out for Jagerbombs all ‘round - but what would Team DIY spend a £25,000 windfall on? SARAH JAMIESON • Managing Editor

EDITOR’S LETTER To think it’s been over eight years since the release of Robyn’s iconic ‘Dancing On My Own’ seems kinda ridiculous. But while almost a decade may have passed since then, she’s now back - brilliant new album ‘Honey’ in tow - and her place as Queen of Electropop is stronger than ever.

Well, I should probably buy a new MacBook, but I’d actually really want to get a KitchenAid and approximately £3K’s worth of cake sprinkles before buying my way onto next year’s Great British Bake-Off… #thedream

Elsewhere in this month’s issue, we dive into the conceptual world of Fucked Up’s new opus, pick John Grant’s brains about his humanely magical new record and get very excited about MØ’s second LP finally being released. Plus, we’ve got the very first word on Sundara Karma’s new album which is set to be one hell of a follow-up - be prepared!

EMMA SWANN • Founding Editor

Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor

An old film Hasselblad, a Leica, and whatever’s left (if any) on lots and lots of film for them.

LISA WRIGHT • Features Editor I’d buy one of those toning table machines that basically move all your limbs for you while you lie there like a lump. Maybe also some pints and a Twix to have while it’s exercising me. #health LOUISE MASON • Art Director A top songwriting team, so I can win it next time.

WILL RICHARDS • Digital Editor Sponsoring every single one of my tweets, bringing quality content to the masses. RACHEL FINN • Staff Writer I’d take an extended hiatus from my journalism career to set myself the indulgent and very specific challenge of travelling to 25 countries and spending £1000 in each.


What’s been tickling the DIY team’s eardrums this month? WHENYOUNG - GIVEN UP With their tip-top take on ‘Dreams’, plus single ‘Heaven on Earth’ and live set highlight of a title track, the Limerick trio are just showing off now on this upcoming EP.

KING NUN - I HAVE LOVE From the sentimental ‘Family Portrait’ to rip-roaring smasher ‘Heavenly She Comes’, the quartet are finally coming good on all that live promise.

DAFT PUNK - ALIVE 2007 Because it’s never a bad idea to dust this utter whopper of a live album off on a Friday afternoon.








Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor Lisa Wright Digital Editor Will Richards Staff Writer Rachel Finn Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Ben Tipple, Cady Siregar, Dan Owens, Joe Goggins, Katie Hawthorne, Matthew Davies Lombardi, Nick Roseblade, Rhian Daly, Shefali Srivastava, Sophie Walker, Timmy Michalik, Tom Sloman.

Shout out to: Hyundai and all at the Mercury Prize 2018, RAK Studios, MØ’s US team for sorting out the photos, fritzkola, Robyn for the life advice, and Ronald McDonald for the invaluable post-Mercurys aid. God bless you, and all who sail within you. 4

Photographers Catalina Kulczar, Jenn Five, Neelam Khan Vela, Phil Smithies, Sharon López. For DIY editorial: For DIY sales: For DIY stockist enquiries

m DIY HQ, 23 Tileyard Studios, London N7 9AH 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. 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.

– 2018 solo album from Big Thief ’s Adrianne Lenker – October 5th, 2018


YOUNG JESUS The Whole Thing is Just There

Mother of My Children

October 12th, 2018 “Freed from the conventional post-punk, Young Jesus truly earn the title of ‘composers,’ refashioning the tools of rock music as transportive devices” – Pitchfork

TOMBERLIN At Weddings August 10th, 2018

September 15th, 2018 “Mother Of My Children is a pulse check, and Katherine Paul needs to be considered one of the great new voices in melodic post-rock, a powerful female presence that will connect with fans of Feist or early Cat Power.” – New Noise Magazine ALSO AVAILABLE HOVVDY  EASY / TURNS BLUE SAM EVIAN  YOU, FOREVER HOP ALONG  BARK YOUR HEAD OFF, DOG

“...At Weddings is one of the starkest, most striking debuts I’ve heard this year.” – Stereogum 5

All those bed-sizing issues had really started to take their toll on Goldilocks.


KARMA CHAMELEONS Less than two years after the debut that earned them a legion of

devotees, Sundara Karma are returning with a second effort that explodes their original ideas out in joyful, bright and brilliantly widescreen style. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Jenn Five.


ounging in the spacious rec room of north London’s iconic RAK Studios, where he and his band recently bunkered down to record their imminent second LP, Sundara Karma frontman Oscar Pollock is considering the vital ingredients that informed its expansive melting pot of ideas. “Be Here Now, definitely,” he decides. As in, the Oasis album? “No, the book, by Ram Dass,” he clarifies. “Great book”. It might just be a minor miscommunication, but it neatly encapsulates the direction the Reading quartet are coming from second time around. Far from your average guitar band, Sundara are embracing ideas and influences from a much wider palette and whittling them into an altogether more exciting new vision. “A first album is such a weird thing because it’s the first time you’re introduced to the music industry and you change yourself to fit a role of somebody you should be and it’s a total lie,” Oscar concedes. “You even change the way you write, and you write songs that you think will keep the initial fire of excitement burning. But once that whole thing was over we had time to realise we were losing sight of what it is we are and want to be and the music that really fulfils us. That’s what this time has allowed us to do and I think we got it so right on this new record.

But while that may be the case, it’s the ‘indie’ tag that the quartet are keen to be unshackled from on their as-yet-untitled newie. They might still be four guys with guitars, and they may have recruited Everything Everything’s Alex Robertshaw on production duties (even more indie), but as for the music itself? It’s dreaming far bigger. “I think because we were told we were an indie band, we’d tell ourselves that. And it’s just a thing that people call you, but it does come with connotations and you can get a bit caught up in them when you’re thinking about what you write,” he explains. “And then you’re left with a little bit of a sour taste in your mouth thinking, why does this not feel as great as I thought it would? So we had to reassess and make a few changes.”

“I’m just really into pop and wanky shit at the moment.” Oscar Pollock

“I think [the key is] being playful and approaching music like the child version of you because that’s where it’s really exciting and fun, and there wasn’t enough of that on what we were previously doing. That’s what we wanted to capture - playfulness and excitement and novelty and what made us love guitars in the first place.” If their current assessment of 2017 debut ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ is a fairly critical one, then an increasingly massive troupe of fans certainly didn’t agree at the time. Slowly building the band up to Brixton Academy headliners, it saw them end their first album cycle with an enormous hometown victory lap at Reading Festival the year after (“It felt as good as you thought it would, and that rarely happens,” the frontman notes), cementing their place as one of indie’s recent true success stories.


erhaps surprisingly for an album that ups the ambition so resolutely (we’ve heard half of it and it’s a thrillingly wild ride), these changes started to come almost instantly. Beginning writing soon after the release of their debut, Oscar began addressing the things he felt the band were currently lacking and learning from them. Across our conversation, there’s a word that keeps cropping up repeatedly: “playful”. Did they take themselves a bit too seriously before, we ask? “Yeah, I think that’s exactly what it is,” the singer laughs. “We took it really seriously and that’s not who we are. We’re absolute losers and goofs and now we’re embracing that more.” Indeed, the tracks that we’ve been played are undoubtedly joyous, cheeky things. Ones that aren’t afraid to tinker on the peripheries of the grandiose and bombastic - heck, there’s one track that could basically be swiped from a rock opera - but whose songwriting has enough of an otherworldly Bowie element to keep them firmly on the right side of pastiche. But they’re also rooted in something purer. Since the release of ‘YIOEFIR’, Oscar has found something of a new energy. He’s stopped drinking, but more than that he’s started meditating and investigating the possibilities of certain religions. “There’s so much in it that’s really appealing just in terms of values and perspective and outlook on life. Tibetan Buddhism and aspects of Hinduism, that’s all the reading I’ve been doing recently and that’s come out 7

in the lyrical content on this record,” he explains. “The idea of cherishing being alive, not in a heavy way, but in a celebratory way. There’s a quote on a T-shirt at this Buddhist place that I’ve been going to that says ‘A celebration of life, through reflections on death’ and that’s very apt.” Though he doesn’t regard himself as a practising Buddhist (“I don’t know if I wanna commit to a school of thought yet”), it’s something that’s evidently had a huge impact on the frontman’s wellbeing. “I’m definitely much happier, and I think that’s had a massive impact on my mental health and also creatively. And they go hand in hand. I can’t be depressed and creative,” he notes. Imbuing their next ventures with a positive and open attitude, these ideas are clearly audible, too. Learning to “embrace the stuff that might not be seen as cool, but that’s honest,” the quartet have filled their treasure chests with a wealth of new and unexpected sonic influences and emerged with a melting pot that makes the mind boggle. “I listen to real mainstream pop which I fucking love and then stuff that would be considered avant garde I suppose. Krishna Das who sings a spiritual song called Kirtan - Rick Rubin called him the ‘rockstar of yoga’, and Laraaji who’s this new age instrumental composer who was part of Brian Eno’s ambient output,” Oscar nods. “I haven’t listened to bands for a long time and I’m not sure why - I just think I’m really into pop and wanky shit at the moment...”

“We’re absolute losers and goofs and now we’re embracing that more.” - Oscar Pollock

And though “wanky shit” may be feeding into it, the band’s second is set to be anything but. Instead, Oscar and his cohorts have pieced together a patchwork of weird and wonderful thoughts and turned them into a giddy and, indeed, playfully technicolour end product. “There’s still a lot of stuff to hang onto melodically. It’s not Slipknot,” he assures. Having come up through the ranks at the smart, literary end of the indie spectrum, now Sundara Karma are throwing off any genre tags and making something rooted in altogether bigger ideas. Detractors: get ready to be pleasantly surprised. “I think as you mature, so do your tastes and you find out how other people are doing things and that there isn’t just one way,” he smiles. “That’s been the biggest shift - realising you don’t actually need to follow a blueprint of what an indie band is.” Consider the blueprint entirely ripped up. DIY

GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT TITLE: TBC WHERE: RAK Studios, London SONGS: ‘Illusions’, ‘One Last Night on This Earth’, ‘A Song For My Future Self’, ‘Higher States’ DUE: Spring 2019 OTHER DEETS: Co-produced by Kaines (Alex from Everything Everything) and Stuart Price. 8




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

If all else fails, our Charlie’s well primed for a second career flogging used cars. (@shame)




ere at DIY Towers, we don’t need our favourites to have fancy awards to gain our love. Even if the only thing you have in your trophy case is a 50m swimming badge, then you can still be our special little soldiers. But when one of our absolute faves sneaks in to nab the bloody 2018 Hyundai Mercury Prize, then tells all their old record label naysayers to sod off live on stage (well done Theo) and then goes on to toast the win not at a posh industry do, but at the same grotty Camden pub they’ve been going to their whole lives then, well, four for you Wolf Alice. You go, Wolf Alice. But not only did our lovely Wolfies (looking like absolute dapper babes on the night too, FYI) do all of the above, they also pulled off what may go down as the greatest celebration since Dele Alli’s strange eye-hand spectacle. Lining up a row of Jägerbombs stretching the full length of the bar, singer Ellie Rowsell deftly knocked an entire domino run of shots perfectly into their glasses. Her knocking weapon of choice? That same 2018 Hyundai Mercury Prize trophy. Rumour has it, it’s still kicking about behind the bar at the Hawley Arms because the quartet had to jump straight on a plane to Australia after. Legendary.


Gonna truck you up! (@dreamwifetheband)

Drenge here, fundamentally misunderstanding the concept of Robot Rock. (@drengedrenge)




What started as an inside joke between three of indie rock’s brightest new solo talents soon turned into a new band, a tour and a full EP. Meet boygenius.



ife can be tough on the road, so it helps Words: Rachel Finn. to have friends along for the ride, especially when those friends are coming from the same world as you are. For Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus - who met while performing on the live circuit, sharing the same bills - it felt only natural that their friendships would eventually turn into making music together. Their plans began small. At first, they simply set out to record a track together in support of the US co-headline tour they’re heading on this November. But their ideas snowballed, eventually becoming a six-track, self-titled EP by the trio, who have dubbed themselves boygenius from an inside joke that soon became the essence of the whole project. “[We were] just talking about different men or boys in our lives who’d been told that they’re geniuses and how that’s actually a toxic way to refer to somebody,” Lucy explains. “But if you think you’re a genius, you probably have the confidence to try something that’s risky or be innovative and so that’s something we were trying to harness when we were recording.” “In our society women are socialised to make themselves small and to minimise their ideas,” Julien adds. “If you’re female or if you’re younger, or if you’re both, the legitimacy of your opinions or the validity of your ideas is questioned, where it never would be if you were male. So that sort of phenomenon is something that we’ve all experienced and we use the term ‘boygenius’ jokingly to describe that kind of person…” Made in just five days at Sound City Studios in LA (one day to write and arrange the songs, another four to record), the EP brings together both the sharp, introspective lyricism the three have become known for in their respective work as solo artists, as well as a look into their relationship with their fans and their life on the road. When the chorus of opener ‘Bite The Hand’ delivers a devastating blow in the line “I can’t love you like you want me to,” it sounds as though Lucy - who sings lead - is dissecting the breakdown of a relationship. “For me, it’s [actually] in a fan relationship context,” she clarifies. “It’s confusing to know how much

you owe a person, especially someone who is, one, funding your life and, two, affected by and appreciating of your work. It’s really easy to think you owe them something, but the truth is, the music is all that you owe people and even then, it’s not owed, it’s a gift. I care about the people that listen to my music so much but I can’t love everybody the way that they would want me to, and I think that Julien and Phoebe would agree.” On another track, ‘Ketchum, ID’, the band explore the melancholy of life on the road, their voices joining in harmony for the chorus: “I am never anywhere / Anywhere I go / When I’m home, I’m never there / Long enough to know”. “Sure, one day you’re playing this beautiful catered festival and people are like, fanning you and peeling you grapes,” Phoebe jokes, “but then you spend two days in the van inhaling each other’s barf and sitting in a pile of trash. There’s a big gap in the lifestyle. I don’t have to explain to Julien and Lucy why it’s OK to complain about the food I ate in Germany or wherever. They’re gonna know I’m not spoiled; they’re gonna know exactly where I’m coming from; they’re going to know that I wouldn’t do anything else [with my life] ever.” All this meant the EP came surprisingly easy. When recording another track ‘Salt In The Wound’, Phoebe remembers, “Lucy and I were telling Julien, ‘Fucking shred dude!’ She was like ‘I could really shred but that’s what a dude would do, so I don’t wanna do that’. And we were like ‘Dude, if a dude can do it… fucking give it to them! Do it!’ And we were hyping her up and she let loose and riffed this insane guitar solo.” With their solo careers taking up the bulk of their time, all three say they’re unsure yet whether boygenius will go on to become something bigger. Whatever happens though, this EP serves as a timestamp in the life of three friends battling the strange experience of being young musicians together in the public eye. “That’s what struck me the most about meeting them,” Phoebe muses. “There was a bunch of shit I didn’t need to explain to either of them about where I was in my life and I think that’s also what was special about getting to know them and immediately starting on this project.” “We like making music together so it’s not like we’ve spent our full energy together,” Lucy suggests on the prospect of their future as a band, “But, who knows?” ‘boygenius’ is out 9th November via Matador. DIY 13

Can you tell us more about the album? The album for us was like an initiation into life in your twenties. I think you hit your twenties and you realise you actually don’t know a lot about life and you have to start figuring everything out from there, so the whole album is about life lessons in a way. We recorded it with Charlie Andrew who’s worked with some amazing artists like Marika Hackman and alt-J and Crystal Fighters. A lot of it was recorded live as well. It’s been an awesome experience to have the chance to be like, ‘this is our slower song’ or ‘this is going to


It’s been a while since we last chatted - what’s been going on in the world of Anteros since then? Well we’ve just finished the album! It’s crazy how much more work is involved, once you’ve finished recording it. We also went out to Morocco to shoot some music videos for singles. And we’ve been getting all the assets together, all the artwork, trying to think where we wanna go with it.


We caught up with Anteros’ Laura Hayden to find out more about the band’s recently announced debut album, ‘When We Land’, and their upcoming DIY Presents tour. Interview: Rachel Finn.



be the more vulnerable one’, because up until now, it’s all been quite uptempo.

And you’ve just released new single ‘Ordinary Girl’... Yeah, it’s a bit of a wildcard. I wrote the song when my grandmother passed away and the same week I found out that my Dad was having a child with his wife, so it was almost like I lost one of the most important female role models in my life and found out about the new one being born at the same time. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be mourning or if I should be happy, but at the same time, [it’s] quite a modern family scenario. It’s quite a special song for me. Will we be hearing any of the new songs on this tour? Definitely, there’s a couple of new songs out there that I’m really excited to play. You’ve actually caught me customising merch [for the tour]; I’m starting to find clothes that I can wear on stage and splatter them with paint and customise them. It’s quite nice to have that personal touch on tour as well. We’re focusing on trying to enjoy it now and make it as special as we can. ‘When We Land’ is out 1st March via Distiller. DIY


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


16th October, Omeara, London, and 18th October, Louisiana, Bristol Hot on the heels of latest EP, the curiously-named ‘Luckyucker’, comes these dates as part of the Londoners’ - helmed by former nanny Ed Cares - nationwide tour.

Tove Styrke Nationwide from late October Seen most recently with third full-length ‘Sway’ back in May, the Swedish pop queen returns for shows in Bristol, Manchester, Brighton, Birmingham and London’s Heaven.

Indian Queens 12th October, Hoxton

Square Bar & Kitchen Sisters Jennifer and Katherine O’Neil have recently played Bestival, supported Warpaint’s Theresa ‘TT’ Wayman and appeared at Robert Smith’s Meltdown - now they’re headlining a one-off London gig. For more information and to buy tickets, head to or 14






Grimes - Visions

Bridging the gap between her past as an evasive producer and future as a creator of sugary pop songs, ‘Visions’ was Grimes’ fantastic turning point, a portrait of an artist in flux. Words: Will Richards.

Grimes has forgotten her PIN number… AGAIN.


Release: 31st January 2012 Stand-out tracks: ‘Genesis’, ‘Oblivion’, ‘Be A Body’ Tell your mates: Songs from the album were given orchestral reworks last year as part of ‘Many Visions’, a concert series from Montrealbased ensemble Plumes. 16


he Grimes we know today is almost unrecognisable from the Claire Boucher we first met on 2010’s ‘Geidi Primes’. 2015’s ‘Art Angels’ saw her dream of being a pop star burst into reality with a wonderful flourish, making sugary anthems destined for festivals, miles away from the witchy bedroom producer of yesteryear. 2012’s ‘Visions’, though, her 4AD debut, was where these two worlds collided perfectly - it was, and remains, her sweet spot. Recorded in a three-week period in Grimes’ Montreal bedroom on GarageBand, ‘Visions’ maintains the minimal characteristics of her previous work on the face of things, but there’s a world-conquering sense of ambition bubbling underneath. Pop songs punctuate the album almost by surprise - glitchy introduction ‘Infinite Love Without Fulfillment’ segues into the now-iconic opening glugs of ‘Genesis’ - and the singer’s voice is in the most part used as another instrument, shrouded in reverb and manipulated in

unusual directions, rather than a vehicle for lyrical themes, ‘Oblivion’’s hook of “see you on a dark night” meanwhile, is sung as clear as day, and gave Grimes her first anthem. ‘Visions’ manages to tread an almost incomprehensible line across its length. ‘Eight’ is a swarm of unintelligible lyrics and gloopy synths that shouldn’t be remotely danceable, but whose twists and turns lodge themselves in your brain to an almost irritatingly catchy degree. ‘Be A Body’ and ‘Colour Of Moonlight’ become singalongs almost by accident, a mass of bodies all yelling a variety of unintelligible syllables. Like the hook in ‘Genesis’ bringing a pop dagger to an album of cloudy, thudding production, and the flooring vocal stretch in ‘Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)’ that emerges out of nowhere before disappearing back underneath the reverb, it’s in the moments when the two intertwine where ‘Visions’’ genius lies, and why the album marked Grimes out as one of the best young producers in the world. DIY


1310.18 19.10.18


Thekla Riverside 14.10.18 20.10.18


Concorde 2 Stereo 15.10.18 21.10.18



O2Academy Academy 2 16.10.18 23.10.18

UK TOUR 2019


Arts Centre Rescue Rooms 18.10.18 24.10.18 LEEDS LONDON




Church Electric Ballroom DEBUT ALBUM ‘BLACK HONEY’ OUT NOW















T H E W O M B AT S . C O . U K






GENGAHR Atlas Please

......................................................................................................................... Hot on the heels of second album ‘Where Wildness Grows’, ‘Atlas Please’ points towards a band revitalised. Gengahr have always flirted between being a gritty, moshpit-inducing guitar band and woozy indie-pop dreamers, and they slot firmly into the latter category on this new cut. Helmed by one of the catchiest hooks they’ve written on a newly-introduced synth, the track slides forwards gorgeously, aided by huge production from Bombay Bicycle Club/Mr Jukes’ Jack Steadman. With him at the desk, Gengahr have found a new lease of life, looking very comfortable in their new skin. (Will Richards)


Man vs Magnet .......................................... There’s not a roar in rock that matches Brody Dalle’s, fact. And while we’ve heard snippets of it thanks to solo debut ‘Diploid Love’ in 2014 and as part of Spinnerette, it’s in The Distillers that it’s best. Within seconds of ‘Man vs Magnet’, one of a pair of brand new tracks from the recently-reformed band, it’s there: Brody’s growl complemented perfectly by urgent, gnarly guitars. Whether there’s a full followup to 2003’s stellar ‘Coral Fang’ is yet to be confirmed. But for now, ‘Man vs Magnet’ and flip side ‘Blood in Gutters’ scratch a very restless itch. (Emma Swann)



Given Up .......................................... Whenyoung are proving themselves to be masters of penning simultaneously nostalgic and vibrant nuggets. Underpinned by galloping drums and splashes of anticipation-building guitar, ‘Given Up’ could easily explode into a big bombastic chorus as would be the norm. Instead, however, they opt for a more subtle approach. All dreamy, warm guitars with singer Aoife Power’s Irish lilt providing small emotive punches, it’s a track that proves you don’t have to throw everything at the wall to succeed. (Lisa Wright)


Venice Bitch ........................................ All acoustic guitars and dreamy vocals, the Jack Antonoff-produced ‘Venice Bitch’ taps into a ‘60s roadtrip, dealing in the kind of sad prettiness that Lana’s made her trademark. Then the electronics come in, upping the density and disorientation as vocals become further away and more sporadic. It’s lulling and yet uncomfortable at the same time, with a tension that belies the track’s warm, melodic beginnings. If Lana’s universe is still rooted in a similar place, then ‘Venice Bitch’ shows it could be twisting into intriguing new forms too. (Lisa Wright)


Mass Grave .......................................... The first in a series of new collaborative efforts from the LA-based trio, the Soccer Mommy-featuring ‘Mass Grave’ takes a while to get your head around. Set over a typically dark, booming background, Sophie Allison’s vocals float their way around their surroundings brilliantly, providing proof that any genre can be drawn into her world. It’s a wonder that ‘Mass Grave’ doesn’t end up as a mess, but it just about holds itself together, and the sense that the track is teetering on the edge is a thrilling one. (Will Richards)


In Stores 12 October Featuring Disconnect and Stigmata CD • Digital • LIMItEd edition coloured vinyl

Available to pre-order now

Catch Basement on tour • November 2018 16 NOV – Manchester, Club Academy 17 NOV – Leeds, Stylus • 18 NOV – Glasgow, Garage 20 NOV – Birmingham, O2 Institute 2 • 21 NOV – Southampton, 1865 22 NOV – London, O2 Forum Kentish Town 23 NOV – Bristol, SWX




IS THE MAGIC NUMBER After a wavering fifth effort, You Me At Six are back with a new record that finds them re-energised and ready to re-enter the ring. Words: Joe Goggins.


nly 18 months after it was released, You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi is reeling off reasons as to why ‘Night People’, the band’s fifth LP, is far from his favourite. First, there was a series of failed experiments: they cut the album live, which didn’t end up suiting them, and rather than waiting for a months-long bout of writer’s block to pass, they decided to try to force their way through it, leaving them with a group of songs that, as Josh puts it, they “weren’t sure if we could stand behind for years to come.” Add to that a maelstrom of extracurricular turmoil around the group at the same time, which culminated in them sacking their management during the week of ‘Night People’’s release, and you begin to realise it was a wonder they even managed to make an album at all. Already, though, they’re looking for the positives. “I know a lot of bands wouldn’t necessarily like the idea of having made a ‘stepping stone’ record,” he explains, “but we’re never ones to sugarcoat anything, and that’s what we feel ‘Night People’ is, relative to [new album] ‘VI’. Arctic Monkeys had to make ‘Suck It and See’ to get to ‘AM’; it’s that kind of dynamic. I’m not saying ‘VI’ is our ‘AM’, but we had to make ‘Night People’ to understand how to move forwards.” The group’s sixth full-length certainly feels like a profound leap; it’s big, bright and buoyant, scored through with exactly the sort of urgency you’d expect from a band who knew they had something to prove again, and - crucially - it never shies away from the band’s penchant for huge pop hooks. To record it, they decamped to Vada, a residential studio in the West Midlands, at the start of this year with their ‘sixth member’, producer Dan Austin, and didn’t just rediscover their best form musically; the comeback trail that ‘VI’ represented brought the band closer together than ever on a personal level, too.

“We had to make the last record to understand how to move forwards.” - Josh Franceschi

“It didn’t feel like there was real pressure, even though we were there for four weeks with basically no days off,” says Josh. “We’d work for a while, then break to go down the pub, play snooker, watch the football; we were just enjoying each other’s company again. I’ve never made a You Me at Six record where everybody wanted to be there as much as they did on this one, and I think you can feel that energy on the album.” ‘VI’ is out 5th October via Underdog. DIY























































DIYLive JACKIE VENSON + LAKY Two Tribes Brewery, London. Photo: Emma Swann


ere at DIY, it’s no secret that we’re big fans of tacos, frozen margaritas and all things Austin, Texas, so we were more than excited to be teaming up with Visit Austin for a special gig at London’s Two Tribes Brewery - just around the corner from our own north London HQ. The night features the UK debut of Austin singer-songwriter Jackie Venson, bringing her one-woman show - making use of pedals, keys and pads for backing - to the intimate venue. Making quips about the British weather - and confirming the Texan use of the word “y’all” - it isn’t just her mind-blowing guitar work and arsenal of bluesy rock tunes on show, but a fair slab of between-song banter, too. Support comes from Londoner LAKY, playing a stripped-back set, pairing her impeccable soaring vocals with acoustic guitar - and throwing in a natty cover of ‘Billie Jean’ among her own heart-on-sleeve numbers. (Emma Swann)


Supersonic, Paris and Thousand Island, London. Photo: Louise Mason.

D energy.

espite battling delays on the Eurostar, Sons Of Raphael arrive just in time for their set at Supersonic and it’s clear that, despite rolling into the Parisian venue with just an hour to go, they haven’t let the journey squander their huge

With just the duo themselves onstage, they’re a visibly tight unit throughout, recreating their full-bodied sound live via a backing track that runs on a vintage reel-to-reel, adding in their own reverb-strewn guitar parts to the mix. The brothers bounce off one another, melding a range of impressive key changes and melodies into their raw, relentless sound. The following night it’s a second run in their home city. The duo are no less enthusiastic; the crowd look on in wonder and bemusement as the pair hammer through a taste of debut EP ‘A Nation Of Bloodsuckers’. The title track provides one of the set’s more stripped-back, slower moments but otherwise, when it comes to Sons of Raphael, things are very much at full force. (Rachel Finn) 22












FRI.30.NOV.18 THU.08.NOV.18

THU.13.DEC.18 FRI.09.NOV.18




EXCHANGE TRIP Discover some of the artists who are involved in this year’s round of Eurosonic Nooderslag’s European Talent Exchange Programme. Finland’s breakthrough new pop talent ALMA is no stranger to Eurosonic Noorderslag; the singer’s now played at the Groningen fest on a few occasions, and this year, her appearance - and place as part of the European Talent Exchange Programme – went on to catapult her into a summer of festival appearances.

ontaines DC [pictured left], Squid and Self Esteem are all among the first names for next year’s Great Escape.

“At Eurosonic, it was really good,” she told us, thinking back to January after one of her recent fest sets. “My manager met a lot of people, I met a lot of people and I think it really helped for me to get more shows. I think we played there a few years ago, the first time, and I love those kinds of festivals, where there’s new bands and new artists. I think it’s super important.”

For the past few years now, The Great Escape have announced their first names for the following May’s event with the First Fifty series of gigs in and around Shoreditch. This year it’s back, with The Old Blue Last and The Macbeth among the host venues.

Playing shows isn’t the only item on her agenda right now, though: “I’m making my album right now so it’s been very, very busy,” she confirms. “At weekends we’ve been playing festivals, and then during the week, I’ve been writing the album. I like that because I need a little bit of time to go to the festivals, clear my mind and then go back into the studio.”

While acts including Squid, Self Esteem and Connie Constance will be found across the events, we’ll be hosting at The Macbeth on 29th November, with Irish noiseniks Fontaines DC, plus The Howl and The Hum and Chappaqua Wrestling. Head to for all the info.

FEELIN’ EUROSONIC The first handful of names for January’s bash confirmed.

While working on her debut has understandably taken up a lot of her time recently, offering up a high-octane stage show has always been a big priority for the singer: “I’ve had a lot of different visions for the stage set-up,” she explained. “I like that I’ve got my sister singing with me, being my hype-girl, and then having my DJ and band. I have a lot of ideas all the time.” Watch the full video over at now. ALMA

The first names for next year’s Eurosonic Noorderslag (16th - 19th January) have been announced - with radio stations across Europe backing acts from their respective countries. Fontaines DC are headed to the Dutch event thanks to RTE/2FM, while the BBC have put their voice behind Boy Azooga, and German band Gurr will be there courtesy of ARD. Other acts included in the first announcement are blackwave. (VRT/Studio Brussel), Crimer (SRF) and Noah Carter (DR/P3). For more information on Eurosonic, head to BOY AZOOGA



thing Hands up who really wants to make pals with that doggy in the background.

26 26


“We want to send the message that the way you are is perfect!” - Yuuki

Promoting positivity and genre-fusing joyfulness, CHAI are the new Japanese dancepop group bringing ‘NEOKawaii’ to the masses. Words: Lisa Wright.

If, on this side of the world, the Japanese concept of kawaii has slowly become a light-hearted, catch-all term for slightly kitsch cuteness, then back in the country of its origin the word has a more loaded meaning. “In society, the definition of ‘cute’ is set. Characteristics such as ‘big eyes’, ‘skinny legs’, ‘large breasts’, and ‘taller noses’ are considered cute,” explains Yuuki - one quarter of genre-fusing dance-pop group CHAI. But now, promoting a self-concocted manifesto of ‘NEOKawaii’ (aka the new cute), the quartet - completed by sisters Mana and Kana, plus their pal Yuna - are preaching a new set of rules. “We, ourselves, aren’t perfect so that’s where the ‘NEOKawaii’ idea came from,” she continues. “We do feel like there is a large pressure in Japan for women to live up to these kawaii standards, and pop stars in Japan have even more of a pressure put on them because many people look up to them. But in reality, the characteristics everyone is born with should be what makes them cute! We want to send the message that the way you are is perfect!”

Formed back in 2015 when school friends Mana, Kana and Yuna decided to upscale their music club hobby into a fully-fledged band, they recruited drummer Yuuki along the way. Acknowledging that it’s “very difficult to break out of Japan as a band or artist in general,” they’ve now bucked the trend, signing to Heavenly for the release of debut ‘PINK’ and with a UK tour in support of Superorganism set for the autumn.

It’s not just their feminist approach to Japanese beauty standards that marks them out from the norm. Mixing dance, punk and pop influences, their genre fusion is at once heavily indebted to the alternative Western artists they revere but with an innate Japanese twist. It’s a melting pot they’ve cultivated on the job. While all four grew up listening predominantly to Japanese music, including the country’s idol groups (think One Direction meets the Mickey Mouse Club), it was only when they started playing together and meeting an array of new people that the doors were kicked open to a whole new set of sounds. “We met someone in the entertainment business who recommended we listen to artists such as Phoenix, tune-yards, DEVO, Gorillaz, JUSTICE, Tom Tom Club, and N.E.R.D,” they explain, “and since then we haven’t turned back.” The result is a glorious hybrid that rings with effervescent, tongue-in-cheek fun, from largely electronic, Shamir-recalling album opener ‘Hi Hi Baby’ to the riffier, CSS meets Elastica-isms of previous single ‘Boys Seco Men’ to the sugary pop rush of ‘She Is Kitty’. It’s un-pigeonholeable, but that’s the whole point. “CHAI has no genre; our genre is CHAI,” nods Yuuki. There’s more of a specific aim, however, in ‘PINK’ as both a title and an idea. “In Japan, pink is considered acceptable for little girls and once you start getting older, there tends to be an unspoken word of not wearing pink after a certain age,” explains Yuuki. “Because of this, we want to show you that pink is cool no matter how old you are.” It’s this kind of joyful kicking out against a set of rules based in negativity and suppression that characterises CHAI. Unsurprisingly their message has resonated strongly back at home already. “I received a DM on Instagram from a fan saying that she used to be really concerned with having smaller eyes and would apply a lot of makeup to make them appear larger. However since hearing our music, she’s stopped applying that makeup and told me that she’s no longer insecure about her eye size,” enthuses Mana. “In Japan, having a narrower, smaller face is considered ‘beautiful’ and I explained to fans that came up to me after our show [concerned about that] that I also used to hide my facial structure with my hair and now I don’t! Don’t hide your ‘flaws’, show them off!” adds Yuna. Spreading positivity (and bangers) wherever they go, now it’s about time that the rest of the world benefited from a strong dose of CHAI. ‘PINK’ is out 12th October via Heavenly. DIY 27

Perth’s latest psych hopefuls are taking the genre and compressing it into a series of direct oddball nuggets. Words: Lisa Wright.


“You get those old psych bands with these 40-minute solos and unless you’re completely off your tits then you’re just waiting for something to happen,” begins guitarist Luke Parish. “But psych music is the only genre that doesn’t hone in on one thing,” joins in co-axeman and vocalist Jack McEwan. “It’s so vast, and you can go from a Radiohead album to Mars Volta to Godspeed You! Black Emperor because it’s a free pass to do anything. It’s so progressive at the moment that people are trying to push the boundaries rather than join them.”


Hailing from the fertile musical hotbed of Perth (home to Tame Impala, Pond, Methyl Ethel and more), the two men, plus pals Danny Caddy (drums) and Luke Reynolds (bass) make up Psychedelic Porn Crumpets - the newest outfit aiming to follow their kinsmen into the technicolour hinterlands of music’s spectrum. But while the combination of a truly atrocious name plus a genre prone to noodling might suggest that the Crumpets are just another bunch of acid-soaked mind-benders, the quartet are actually coming from a slightly altered angle. Instead


of elongated fret-wanking, the likes of recent singles ‘Cornflake’ and ‘Social Candy’ are proof that you can be brimming with ideas while still clocking in around the concise, four-minute mark. Luke has a theory. “Both [those songs] are quite compressed, because in the process you squeeze the orange. All the other stuff and the rind goes in the bin and you just get the orange juice at the end,” he begins. “But if you like oranges then you’ll probably still like the orange juice.” Well, indeed. Meeting originally through their drug dealer (now the orange analogy makes slightly more sense...), the quartet have been plugging away back in Australia for a few years with two LPs (‘High Visceral’ Parts 1 and 2) to their name. Now, with a recent, sold out debut UK tour under their belts and an unfortunate broken nose incident due to an enthusiastic “whole room death circle” to take back home, the band are heading towards LP3 - their first to land on these shores. “We want it to be the funnest album possible,” nods Jack. “We’re trying to go as far into the deep end as possible without actually going mad, but we’re slowly failing at that.” At least they’ve already got the name to match if they do. DIY



MONEYPHONE Nostalgia-drenched, genre-blurring Toronto pop duo. Nostalgia runs freely through ‘Athletes’, the new EP from Toronto duo MONEYPHONE. The vocals range from soft rapping to honeyed harmonies and heavily auto-tuned verses of the kind that Justin Vernon utilises so well. The title track is full of feeling and set around a choppy guitar line. ‘Athletes’ is as indebted to emo as it is rap and hip-hop, and it’s when the two melt together that the duo really hit the spot.



Visceral, emotional and unpigeonholable sounds from Tunbridge Wells.

Aussie export.

With Slaves and now Lady Bird repping the small town of Tunbridge Wells, you’d be forgiven for thinking its inhabitants fall solely into the 100mph school of noisy musical thought. Not so JC Palmer. On recent EP ‘Endless Laughter’, the trio veer from Hookworms crunch to Radiohead fragility at the toss of a coin, spinning intricate sonic nuggets at every turn. Listen: ‘Shake The Hand’ is an itchy, tetchy banger. Similar to: Having a big cathartic cry and then having a big cathartic dance in succession.

Listen: The gorgeous, hushed ‘Domicile’. Similar to: Kevin Abstract raised on a diet of ‘90s emo and Bon Iver.


If you’ve read our July issue, you’ll know that there’s a whole host of exciting Australian bands emerging right now. Next in line is Body Type, a Sydney quartet making surf-rock to throw yourself around a sweaty basement with a huge grin on your face to. The wide-eyed fun of The Big Moon springs to mind immediately. Listen: Debut single ‘Palms’. Similar to: The Big Moon, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

RECOMMENDED UGLY Cambridgeshire lot fusing the cheery and chilled in promising style. What do you get if you take the burbling, 100-a-day rumble of King Krule and lace it across doe-eyed, ‘50s-infused jangles? Well you get Cambridgshire newbies Ugly’s latest offering ‘Emphysema’, that’s what. Far lusher than a track about lung disease has any right to be, it’s also, however, riddled with an underlying chaos. Sure the chords are sweet, but it all might collapse at any moment. Listen: The aforementioned single or claustrophobic previous offering ‘Switch’. Similar to: The sound of South London on a little countryside holiday.


Impassioned surf-rock from another buzzy



AGAR AGAR Smart French synth sounds already making waves across the Channel. With a debut album out this month and a none-too-small show at London’s Village Underground to launch it, French duo Agar Agar’s Italo-disco synths and smart, playful dance-pop is already making noises away from home turf. You can see why; kooky yet cool in equal measure, their warm, pillowy beats are ones to dive straight into. Listen: Excellently named single ‘Sorry About The Carpet’ is like a nighttime drive through a Tron universe. Similar to: Metronomy given a cool French makeover.

All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.

TWO BY TWO After a UK tour with Dirty Projectors, WESTERMAN has announced details of new EP ‘Ark’ - out 9th November via Blue Flowers. Hear gorgeous first single ‘Albatross’ on

GRUB’S UP Emo seven-piece ITOLDYOUIWOULDEATYOU have announced details of their debut album ‘Oh Dearism’, out in November via Alcopop!/ Failure By Design. Watch the video for new single ‘Gold Rush’ on


Every week on Spotify, we update DIY’s Neu Discoveries playlist with the buzziest, freshest faces. Here’s our pick of the best new tracks: ANOTHER SKY ‘Chillers’ New Fiction signings deliver another slice of dark, warped indie-pop.


OCTAVIAN ‘Revenge’

The Croydon singersongwriter makes music sure to tug on the heartstrings.

London hopeful lands somewhere between the moshpit and the club on his new one.

Rachel Chinouriri makes R&B-inflected alt-pop that feels personal while still retaining its universality. Single ‘So My Darling’ sees beautiful, deftly sung vocals acting as the base for all manner of woozy, Daughteresque instrumentals to float around. Listen: Romantic ode ‘So My Darling’. Similar to: Daughter, Florence & The Machine

TURN IT UP Fay and Ayse of Savages have started a new band! Hear 180DB’s first track - the blistering ‘Road Trip’, featuring Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy and Yeah Yeah Yeahs shredder Nick Zinner - on

POM POKO ‘Follow The Lights’ Newly signed to Bella Union, these Norwegian indie-poppers put fun to the front. BROOKE BENTHAM ‘Out Of My Mind’ There’s raw, reverbstrewn energy aplenty on this Bill RyderJones-produced cut. 31


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


The Oxford singersongwriter is following his ‘666 Kill’ EP with a series of dates this month in support of Supergrass frontmangone-solo, Gaz Coombes, hitting up Brighton, Hull, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham, as well as a headline date at London’s Moth Club on 20th October.


BIG INDIE BIG NIGHTS GLOSSII Two Tribes, London. Photos: Emma Swann.


ere at DIY, we’ve been teaming up with record label Big Indie for a new monthly live music night, the appropriately titled Big Indie Big Nights, where we put on a host of new artists that we’re very excited about indeed. Taking place each month at Two Tribes Brewhouse and Tap Room, in Tileyard Studios, close to King’s Cross and DIY HQ, we’ll be putting on one band each month for the very reasonable price of £0. South London four-piece Glossii may have only formed last year, but they’re well on their way to building up an impressive live show, offering up a set full of raw, gritty, punk-infused indie-rock that barely lets


up in energy over the course of their thirty minute set. Powered by the soaring vocals of Sofia Zanghirella, the band are big on crowd interaction, regularly encouraging the audience to dance, sing louder and, at one point, all crouch down before leaping into the air. New single ‘Rockaway Runaway’ is a ferocious attack on the senses whereas ‘Headache’ is a pounding stab at a friendship gone wrong. Loud, seemingly at ease on stage and with a small but growing fan base to match their enthusiastic stage presence, Glossii may be a young band, but judging by tonight’s performance they’re off to a promising start. (Rachel Finn)

Our fave Irish trio’s UK tour hits Brighton (10th October), London (11th), Coventry (12th), and Southampton (13th) this month, ahead of another support tour - this time for the Blossoms lads.


Have a peek further down the bill for the all-dayer (6th October), and there’s plenty of Neu faves: Bakar, Sports Team, Lady Bird, LUCIA and Whenyoung are all Manchester-bound.

Capturing moments of vulnerability within


a genre-blurring sound, London boy Puma Blue is pushing intimacy out into the open. Words: Rachel Finn. Photo: Olivia Hamilton.


A unique strain of atmosphere fills Puma Blue’s music. The South Londoner’s tracks are full of a dark sense of emotion, with quiet and, at times, almost whispered vocals, sung in velvety tones over soulful instrumentals. But whatever you do, just don’t call it jazz. “I completely disagree with [that idea], which is interesting because it’s a big compliment,” Puma Blue - aka Jacob Allen - explains. “I remember the first time someone made that reference, I was really excited because it felt like they were getting where I was coming from. But now I just feel like I’m getting lumped into a jazz kind of box. It would be wicked to be a jazz musician, but what I do, I think of as closer to R&B or punk rock, almost.” Genre-boundaries aside (“Someone said ‘gothic R&B’ once and I love that…” he muses),it’s clear from two of the singles he’s previously put out so far this year following 2017’s ‘Swum Baby’ EP that emotional intimacy is at the centre of his work. In ‘Only Trying 2 Tell You’ - a song about “all those unsaid things between you [in a relationship], all the space

between what you’re saying” - he conjures up a soft, slow-jam that makes use of an impressive falsetto. On the more upbeat ‘Moon Undah Water’, his first track to make use of his full live band, he offers up a soulful stab at a love interest who’s been leading both him and a friend on at the same time. On both, it’s somehow as though you’re being spoken to directly and overhearing a conversation not meant for you at the same time. “I think what I try and do is write voicemail ballads,” considers Jacob. “Songs that feel less like big epic songs and more like someone leaving you a voicemail, like a little note or something. I’ve always been a sort of sensitive and open person, so being able to put [my emotions] into music isn’t very hard.” Next up is a UK tour and his biggest headline show to date at London’s Scala (“I can’t even comprehend it at the moment...”) as well as a new EP ‘Blood Loss’, that’s due out in November. For now though, Puma Blue seems quite content to just take things as they come. “I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing I guess, as long as people are listening,” he says, “and even if they’re not, to be honest. Just ‘cause it’s fun.” DIY



After eight years away, ROBYN is returning as one of pop’s modern icons with new album ‘Honey’, no longer content with running headfirst through heartbreak but searching for a deeper connection. Words: Will Richards.


here’s a specific moment a few minutes into Robyn’s new album ‘Honey’ that perfectly encapsulates her new world. “I’m a human being,” she states, introducing its second track, also titled ‘Human Being’, with desperation seeping into her voice slowly but surely. It’s sung as a projection of self-realisation, just one that also happens to make her utterly terrified. “My heart can’t stop beating / Don’t know what to do,” she continues, before a warm, soft wave of synths rush in to back her up like a sonic hug. She repeats the track’s title again, but this time more softly, and with confidence: “I’m a human being.” Her last album - 2010’s ‘Body Talk’ - was a thudding rush of robotic lust, taking inspiration from all things digital to crush heartbreak and despair with pummelling synths and choruses to bellow ‘til the air runs out, fists clenched. It’s the feeling most closely associated with Robyn as an artist and as a person, someone whose music you put on in the throes of gutting heartache, to help you power through it at full pelt. When the tour for that album came to an end at the beginning of 2014, however, she found herself physically

and emotionally drained, disconnected with the idea of what she had left to say as an artist, and finding the well of her previous methods of communication and connection to be running dry. “I think in the past I’ve been more…” she begins today, before pausing. “My instinct has been to push through [feelings] and face things head on, but this time it wasn’t an option for me. It felt like a dead end. I just couldn’t push this any further. It’s not gonna go anywhere. I can’t be writing sad love songs for the rest of my life that’s just gonna be pathetic!” she chuckles. It’s an idea that she also lays out plainly on ‘Human Being’, too: “All these emotions are out of date.” She returned home from the road to a turbulent period in her life. She was in the process of exiting a long-term relationship, and attending therapy. Then her friend and long-term collaborator Christian Falk died after a short illness. If the sense of needing a re-evaluation of her life and career wasn’t already prominent enough in her mind, it soon became unavoidable. It all spills out on comeback single, ‘Missing U’. “I was very sad and upset when I wrote it,” she says of the song now. “It was the beginning of a really tough period for me. Then as I kept writing, my songwriting and what I was actually doing myself was trying to find a soft space of self-care and enjoying my life again, so I think that that’s


how the arc of the album is, but it’s also exactly what my life was like.” Using ‘Missing U’ to relaunch herself was a no-brainer, then. “It was the first song I wrote for the album, it’s the first song on the album, it’s the first part of what the story of the album is,” she explains. “It’s also a little bit of a moment that explains the space that I was in while I was away. Also just the beginning of the song,” she continues, before raising her arms like a rainbow and humming the shimmering first notes to the album: “that sound, the arpeggio - it feels like a sunrise to me.” It was a familiar enough reintroduction, those synths pummelling away with the power they’ve always harnessed, but it also served as an initial kick open of

the door into a whole new world that ‘Honey’ goes on to explore. Writing it enabled the singer to dive deeper into herself, and begin carving out an entirely new form of connection. To do so, she headed home.


fter the ‘Body Talk’ tour finished, and following a few preliminary sessions with Metronomy’s Joe Mount for what would eventually become ‘Honey’, Robyn realised that she needed to isolate herself in order to rediscover the core of her purpose as an artist, and how she was to move forward.


Setting up shop in a new studio in her hometown of Stockholm for the vast majority of 2015, the singer set about working on an album alone for the first time. “I felt a bit lost,” she lays out simply, speaking of her mindset when faced with a blank slate. “When I did the ‘Body Talk’ album I’d just finished the other album before it [2005’s self-titled effort], so I was up to speed and just continuing. With [‘Honey’], it really felt like a new start, and that was a little nervewracking. I knew that I had to take my time, and I wasn’t in a space where I could force it. I really didn’t have a choice, it was just the way it was.” It’s an approach that, again, manifests itself audibly in ‘Human Being’, which

serves - in its finished form at least - as an anthem for self-acceptance, even if it was initially borne out of completely opposing feelings. “I was really sad, and I was trying to come to terms with things,” she states, the isolation of the studio allowing her to dig into emotions that had been buried under touring schedules, non-stop travelling and to a certain extent - the unwavering defiance of her own older songs. “Being a human being is automatically being flawed and limited, both physically - because you have a body that you have to take care of and exist in - but also [because] you’re gonna

Robyn was a fucking nightmare when it came to untangling the Christmas lights.



die! It’s all just going to hell, basically, and yeah…” she says before pausing and looking slowly towards the floor. “Maybe it was some kind of mid-life crisis…” she near-whispers, before raising her head and chuckling. It was only when the singer afforded herself the space and time to confront these niggling feelings, though, that themes of self-acceptance and selfcare placed themselves at the heart of ‘Honey’. “I think I know myself a lot better [now],” she reflects. “It wasn’t about even coming back to what I was before - for me, I feel like I really changed. It was a restart, but not a restart to get back to what things were like before. It was a total re-evaluation of life - a new outlook that’s a bit more complicated, but also calmer.”


hile these ideas of personal growth were beginning to present themselves to Robyn inside her Stockholm studio, things were also massively changing for her outside its walls. “I could definitely feel how the music industry was changing while I was making it,” she nods, with the acknowledgement that whatever album she wrote would be released into an extremely different world, one she was currently hiding herself away from. “I had an urge to make a proper album,” she continues, reflecting on the fragmented recording and release process for ‘Body Talk’, shared slowly in three parts which now exists as a 15-track compilation-of-sorts. The idea for ‘Honey’, instead, was an album that was “not too long and not too short” - it clocks in at the 40-minute mark - “and something that felt solid and quite soft. Maybe because things are consumed way faster,” she reflects, “[the album was] a way of resisting that a little bit.” As well as keeping tabs on an everchanging industry, Robyn’s place in it was also beginning to shift. In the past half-decade, without any real input of her own, the singer’s music had started to quickly gain a significantly larger cultural importance. Communities began to be forged around her message and musical output - not least the Brooklyn-based, Robyn-themed club

night that features heavily in ‘Missing U - A Message To My Fans’: a short documentary where fans detail the singer’s importance in helping them form like-minded groups, and, in one fan’s case, serving as the soundtrack to their coming out.


A large portion of the production on ‘Honey’ was helmed by Joe Mount, the Metronomy mastermind that brought warmth and openness to the process.

“I think Joseph is amazing. He put out two albums while I was making this one! He’s such an inspiring person, so open and very supportive. He has a sound as a producer that is very soft and warm. He was always letting me be a part of the production and encouraging me to program stuff. He said to me ‘I really think that you should put in the credits what you’ve done on this record!’ so it was a real collaboration.”

“It was really amazing,” she reflects simply on the increasing presence of her music in both mainstream and underground culture, as well as being held up as a prominent figure of adoration in the LGBT+ community. “I was so under the weather and not at all feeling like I could shoulder an official role of being an artist, and I really questioned how I could justify me demanding people’s attention in this way, while working out what I really wanted to say. Throughout that

period, though, there were these things that kept popping up. People writing articles about my music or my fans telling me how they felt, and I didn’t expect that. It was very encouraging, and I wish everyone had that, and had people that cared about what they did in that way. It’s really amazing, and something that definitely got me excited about making music again, knowing that people were wanting more of it.” While ‘Missing U’ can be read as a message to her fans, and an admission of her absence, as well as a post-mortem on a relationship, or a reflection on the death of a friend, it came purely from the inside, and was part of a writing process that Robyn describes as “very introverted and kind of selfish”. “I was thinking about myself and trying to understand myself. It was very secluded, and I wasn’t engaging in anything to do with my professional life. I wanted to make an album that felt sincere, and I knew that if I’m going to take up space again, and demand people’s attention, I better have something to say.”


he predictable next question then began to pose itself to Robyn: what exactly do I have to say? So, as well as spending a year tucked away in her hometown studio, the singer also threw herself back into the scene as a wide-eyed music lover once again. Poring over old Michael Jackson and Prince demos, going out dancing on weekends, DJing across the planet and digging through old disco and


house records, a love for looser, less traditional song structures asserted itself as a major influence on ‘Honey’, and it’s felt in every sinew of the album. While ‘Missing U’ starts the record as a thundering pop song with a chorus that bursts through with dancefloorready intensity, the rest of the album feels more at home on the fringes of the party, or back home in the early hours. ‘Because It’s In The Music’ is a low-key sway, while highlight ‘Beach 2k20’ is a slow-burning house number punctuated with chopped-up spoken word vocals that feels perfect for lazy afternoons by a sun-soaked swimming pool. It’s a striking change for Robyn, but one that perfectly reflects her sense of calm, as well as the extensive time taken for it to come together: ‘Honey’ feels lived in, fuelled by an eclectic, crate-digging mentality that priorities structural freedom. As such, it’s an album so full of ideas and avenues that it could only have been created a) over such an extensive period and b) with such an open, unlimited state of mind. “What I usually do when I write a pop song is so focused on verse-chorus, and I wanted to break that up totally, and leave that way of thinking about songs,” she affirms. Getting back in touch with the music she loved while starting out, as well as finding a new form of selfacceptance, ‘Honey’ sounds like a revelation, though perhaps not in the way many would have expected. “I think I really changed over the last few years,” she reflects. “I don’t think I can go back to being [my old self]. I see it as an adventure, like going into space,” she quips with a smile, reaching outwards and inwards at once on an album that resets the parameters of who she is as an artist. “You figure things out, or you see things along the way, and you bring them back to earth and you show people what you’ve found. All the songs I’ve written are part of that story - they’re discoveries about what I’ve felt, and this album is as well.” “There’s so much emotional intelligence in us,” she continues, proudly. “Whatever is inside of you, it will come


out in some way or other. You can make the time to listen before, or you have to listen afterwards, when you don’t have a choice!” “I think that was why I decided to isolate myself,” she expands. “I needed to block things out, and to have space. It’s a very delicate process, when you have feelings. There are so many distractions, and noise, and people, and expectations, and I felt a responsibility towards myself. Sometimes, when you’re bored or whatever, and you don’t feel like there’s something there to stimulate you, or you don’t feel like you’re doing enough, it’s really an illusion. If you just calm down, you’ll realise how much there is out there. The less noise you have around you, the more you’re able to hear. It’s about choosing where you want to be on the spectrum.” She has a new theory, too. “Boredom is such a great thing,” she enthuses, clearly stimulated from her isolated time in the studio. “It’s what actually makes you realise what it is you want. If you’re totally stimulated all the time, there’s no way of knowing, but when you’re bored, that’s a moment to actually listen to something else.” It’s in taking this time to listen that Robyn has emerged from her eight-year absence with a new-found assurance, no longer needing to barge down the door to get her feelings across, and drawing from all corners of the musical canon on an album that champions patience, community and self-care. In an increasingly instant, non-stop world, it’s a much-needed tonic; a deep breath and a re-evaluation. “I don’t know if music can change the world,” she poses. “I don’t know if that’s what music’s supposed to do. I think what’s cool about it, for me, is if my music helps people to re-charge, or find some space where they can reflect, and then use that to do other things that are more important. Especially now when the world is so destructive, we need to look at stuff in a different way. It really requires a lot of us, and a real strength to deal with it.” ‘Honey’ is out 26th October via Konichiwa / Island. DIY

“All together now! You put yer left leg in…”



ertain things happen when you get older. Your ambitions are streamlined; your energy and aggression gets channelled in different ways; your youthful angst takes on different meanings. It’s something Fucked Up were all too aware of when writing 2014’s ‘Glass Boys’. The band’s primary songwriter Mike Haliechuk and vocalist Damian Abraham were approaching their mid-thirties and finding that their priorities lay in distinctly different places. Featuring 10 songs and clocking in at a modest (for Fucked Up, at least) 42 minutes, it was the most traditional record the band have ever put out. It seemed as if they were entering a fascinating new chapter. Now though, they’re about to return with fifth studio album ‘Dose Your Dreams’, an 85-minute concept album that dips its toe into hardcore, rock’n’roll, techno, krautrock and everything in between. The predictable question then: how did they get here? “‘Glass Boys’ didn’t go exactly how we had planned,” Mike reflects today. “To me it’s still an interesting record, and has good songs on it, but [previous record] ‘David Comes To Life’ was this big, bombastic thing and everyone was like ‘How are you possibly gonna top this album?!’ and we just wanted to make an album like everyone else does. Ten songs, 45 minutes. To make truly just an album, and see where the state of our band is over a more digestible amount. We realised that this isn’t really what people want from our band, and that’s maybe not the space we’re supposed to occupy, [but] listening back to it, it makes sense that we made that record.


After streamlining things on the compact, concise ‘Glass Boys’,

Fucked Up return to being their weirdest, most outlandish selves on ‘Dose Your Dreams’: an 85-minute, genrebending behemoth that reinstates them as one of rock’s most fascinating voices. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Phil Smithies.

“The band was, like, done.” Mike Haliechuk

“Me and Damian were 33, 34, and that’s kind of where your head’s at when you’re that age. Timing-wise, it was unfortunate that that was at the same moment that we decided we wanted to make an introspective record, so the confluence of those things happening, I felt, resulted in a little bit of a dour album. A friend told me: ‘People want Fucked Up to sound confident and weird and big’, and that’s what this [new] record is.”


hose are indeed three words to accurately describe ‘Dose Your Dreams’. It’s also got the ‘fuck it’ attitude of an album from a band who didn’t know if they would ever write another record. After the tour for ‘Glass Boys’ finished in 2015, Fucked Up - as Mike puts it - “came to a complete stop”. Starting out as a band that would play 150+ shows a year, for the first time they didn’t play a single gig for an entire 12 months.

W O R L D 43

“The band was, like, done,” Mike lays out simply. “Friends would message me [after ‘Dose Your Dreams’ was announced] and say ‘Oh, I’m surprised there even was a new record...’” “We went in completely blind,” he continues. “We didn’t have anything written, not even a riff. The first song we wrote literally came from Jonah [Falco, drummer and co-writer] checking his drums, and from the pattern he was playing on the kick drum. It just avalanched from there into the 40 songs or whatever that we wrote.” It points towards a band revitalised by accident - upcoming EP ‘Year Of The Horse’ (the latest in the band’s Zodiac series of off- the-wall releases) contains one track that currently sits at an hour in length. It might end up stretching to double that.

orientated influences to seep into the fabric of the record. However, it was only when the songwriter saw the word ‘Joyce’ written down somewhere that the idea of this character presented itself to him, and the story of Joyce and David started to mould itself. “I thought of this record as a movie, once I realised how long it was going to be,” Mike remembers, professing his own love for lengthy novels and three-hour films. “With ‘David Comes To Life’ for example,” he continues, as self-critical as ever, “people really like that record, but for me the one issue with it is that it’s just loud guitar music for 80 minutes. It’s good but I think it’s an exhausting listen. The character goes through more things in this record than on ‘David...’. He goes on a journey, and he experiences a lot of different things, and I tried to make it so the music really

“I thought of this record as a movie.” - Mike Haliechuk


s with ‘David Comes To Life’, ‘Dose Your Dreams’ is a heavily conceptual album, huge in both ambition and length. The album reintroduces the titular character from the 2011 LP, now tied to a desk job. David meets the elderly Joyce, who proceeds to take him on a revelatory journey, re ected in every left turn the 18-track album takes: both conceptually and sonically, it’s a record that never stands still. Built from the ground up in the studio, like no Fucked Up album before it, it has the eureka moment feeling of a band at once reconnecting with what they do best and starting completely from scratch. Concept albums, in the traditional sense, are painstakingly thought through before being put to music, every thread tied together intricately in a selfcontained story. ‘Dose Your Dreams’ bucks this trend in two senses: firstly, it re-introduces characters that the band have played with before; secondly, the story started to shape itself only about a year into the two-year process of making the album. For the first year of working, the musical side took the band’s attention, fiddling around with drum machines “on lunch breaks” as Mike says, allowing any and all of their somewhat unlikely dance-


conveys where he’s at almost as much as the words do.” On listening to ‘Dose Your Dreams’, it’s clear that Mike’s vision has been brilliantly realised. From the triumphant punk of single ‘Raise Your Voice Joyce’ to the thudding slow-build of ‘Talking Pictures’, which sees Damian yelling over minimal, skittish drum machines, to the rollocking krautrock of closer ‘Joy Stops Time’, it’s a journey in the truest sense. One that taps into every corner of the genre spectrum, all tied together by a narrative that reveals more and more of itself with every next listen, and shows a band that have rediscovered their passion for overblown, ridiculous, fantastic maximalism. “Maybe ‘Glass Boys’ is the hump that you get over,” Mike theorises, constantly looking back on the band’s long, distinguished career with refreshing starkness and honesty. “Once you get over that weird hump where you’re unsure of what your life is about, you realise that you’re in your late thirties and you’re still in a fuckin’ hardcore band. It kind of gives you the license to say fuck it and make whatever kind of record you want again.” ‘Dose Your Dreams’ is out now via Merge. DIY

RAISE YOUR VOICE, JOYCE ‘Dose Your Dreams’ is based around our old friend David meeting a new acquaintance, Joyce. But who exactly is she? “‘David Comes To Life’ exists in the ‘Dose Your Dreams’ universe. On track five [‘Torch To Light’], David goes to see a theatre production of ‘David Comes To Life’. The [two albums] aren’t really sequels in any sense, they just share David as a name, not even really as a character. This story is more about Joyce. She’s there to do something she helps other characters self-actualise. She’s sort of a pastiche of two things. She’s like the ghost from ‘A Christmas Carol’. On ‘Tell Me What You See’ they’re on this metaphysical magic carpet ride, where she’s showing David what reality is like from the outside, and on ‘Normal People’ he’s seeing his old life with her eyes. There’s a character in the comic ‘The Invisibles’ called Tom O’Bedlam. He’s at the end of his life and he passes on this knowledge that he’s gained over his life to the main character of the book, but then 20 or so issues later, you get his backstory and what he was like in his twenties, so that’s where Joyce came from. We need her as someone who’s at the end of her story, but we dig into her past as the record continues.”

Frankly, we’re quite relieved Damian was on THAT side of the glass…


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don’t do remixes, but if I did I’d just turn them into really banging club versions. Put a donk on everything,” muses alt-J keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton. “So I like the bravery of people who don’t do that and turn them into these whispery, hushed things. It makes for an album that ebbs and flows nicely rather than... “ “... you pounding your meat,” interjects vocalist Joe Newman as his bandmate fist pumps the air and the pair burst into spluttering laughter. If the band (completed by drummer Thom Green, who’s absent as we congregate in the garden of a sunny Dalston coffee shop) aren’t necessarily famous for being laugh-a-minute jokesters, then today they’re taking a good punt at belying their cerebral reputation. Maybe it’s because our topic - the band’s forthcoming release ‘Reduxer’, a guest-laden reworking of last year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize-nominated third LP ‘Relaxer’ - is one that enables them to turn the lens outwards rather than in. Maybe it’s because, after a short upcoming tour in October, they’re actually allowing themselves a decent bit of time off. Heck, maybe it’s just because it’s nice weather. But the pair, supping on teas and wisecracking throughout, are on prime form. They should be, too. Featuring guest vocals from a cast of hip hop’s more leftfield players (from Danny Brown to Little Simz, Paigey Cakey and more) nestled within remixes from the likes of Twin Shadow, Rejjie Snow and a host of alternative European rap stars, ‘Reduxer’ (a natty pun on the original, playing on the idea of a redux, or bringing something back) takes the intricate ideas of the trio’s original and pulls them apart, reimagining them in unexpected and pleasantly surprising new ways. “We were just like, do your thing. It was carte blanche [for everyone]. Do your own story,” explains Joe of the experience. “We’re precious during the recording process, but once it’s been recorded and catalogued with our name on it then we’re like, do whatever you like. We’ve released the stems of things to fans for a remix competition previously and I’m actually quite jealous of their vision for it sometimes. I still listen to some of them ‘til this day, regrettably sometimes. Tearfully...”

judgement calls, but I’m guessing Lil’ Pump or the late XXXTentacion probably wouldn’t have known who we were,” smirks Joe) and the album slowly began to take shape with the impetus of including a diverse array of artists from across the board. “We’re very proud of [this record] being global, international, men and women, black and white,” notes Joe. “The tagline for this is globalist hip hop.” “I don’t actually know what globalist means. I think it means, ‘with a desire for power’,’’ cuts in Gus. “When Vice reviewed our first album they gave us an unhappy face and called it ‘globalist pop’. We were like... sick. We’ll take that.” If it seems like a simple concept (the album, not the global domination, that is), then it’s also one that people might not expect from an ‘indie’ band such as alt-J, and one that shows a modern and unblinkered approach to genre boundaries. “The point I keep coming back to is that music fans are a lot more open now to different genres of music and I think a lot of fans of ours are also hip hop fans and that’s not weird,” notes Gus. “I’ve done a lot of interviews about this album with places around the world now and most people who can’t seem to get their heads around it are people over 40. Like, ‘So... are you a hip hop band now?’” he jokes, adopting a faux-perplexed tone, “whereas most of our fans are like: Yeah. LIT. Or some other young person’s word that I can’t use properly.”

“The tagline for this is globalist hip hop.” - Joe Newman

Though all three class themselves as hip hop fans anyway, the idea for the record properly came during the writing of ‘Relaxer’ track ‘Deadcrush’, whose beats seemed to naturally lend themselves to the genre. From there, the band put together a hit list of realistic potential collaborators (“Maybe I’m making

They’ll be able to test this theory out later this month, on their aforementioned UK jaunt - a short run of shows largely intended as a farewell to ‘Relaxer’, but which should also see the record’s new forms given something of an outing, too. “We’ve worked on some versions and I hope we’re gonna get one or two of the artists to come down on that tour,” Gus explains. “We’ve got green screen footage of [some of the] guys too, so I think we can create something visually and audibly cool live. It’s nice to give our fans a little present to say, here’s a little something to keep you going before dinner. Which’ll be about two years [away]. At best.” ‘Dinner’ in this setting means alt-J’s fourth record proper, which the band seem to be approaching at a fairly casual pace. But until then, ‘Reduxer’ is offering up a new side to this particular triangle that should leave the doors wide open for whatever the trio decide to turn their hands to next. Global conquering, or otherwise. ‘Reduxer’ is out now via Infectious. DIY


His Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Funny, dark, vulnerable, angry, bitter and basically everything in between, ‘Love Is Magic’ finds John Grant diving even further into singular territory and holding up a mirror to the human condition like no other. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Phil Smithies.


ohn Grant is in the middle of a tirade. Speaking down the phone from his Reykjavik home having just returned from a brief UK sojourn, the Michigan-born musician is still incensed and perplexed in equal measure by the stupidity of the Trainline app he’s recently been wrangling with. “They send you your ticket and it’s supposed to open in the app, but it doesn’t fucking work?! And when you call someone to talk about it, you’re having a fucking meltdown and they’re like, what’s your problem?” he regales in a comedically exasperated tone. “You know that sketch, ‘Computer says no...’” If the idea of John - a man who adorns the artwork of forthcoming fourth solo LP ‘Love Is Magic’ wearing feathers, face paint and his underpants, singing with a bird cage on his head - readily quoting Little Britain seems like an unexpected turn of events then there is, of course, a larger point to be made here. “I guess what we’re talking about here is that this is the reality of life,” he then continues. “You can’t grieve your mother’s death but you’re spending your whole day dealing with some freak on the phone and all of your rage that you haven’t been able to process your entire life is going into that anonymous interaction. So I just want this record and my stuff to be these hilarious snapshots [of it all].” Though the singer’s output has always forsaken traditional niceties in favour of a more brutal, un-sugarcoated approach to lyricism, it’s this combination of the tender and the gross, the vulnerable and the angry, and essentially the whole messy melting pot of what it means to be a living, breathing human being that courses through the 10 tracks that make up his latest. There are genuine, laugh out loud moments on the likes of ‘Diet Gum’, which sees him adopt a nasal faux-frat boy voice while delivering attempted, half-baked put downs (“Your bedside manner is reminiscent of a chuckle of hyenas... Hmm, let’s see, well I think your group would be called a misery, no a


patheticness of fuckwits”). Conversely, closing track ‘Touch And Go’ is a soft, empathetic response to transgender US whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s story. In the middle, meanwhile, he runs the full gamut of action and reaction that lies in between. “It’s funny because you don’t wanna be cruel to yourself. You’ve got to be gentle with yourself if you’re gonna make it to 90,” he laughs. “But I think all the nasty, ugly stuff is just as valid as all the beautiful stuff. I really feel like in my albums I want the ugly, nasty coveting and lust and anger and even some self-pity. All of that stuff, even though it’s unattractive, I just don’t feel like it should be hidden. “We’re taught from when we’re young not to show any of these things. And we all meet people every day and we adjust ourselves so that we don’t offend anybody and so that we’re palatable or minding our manners when we’re interacting with others. But it needs to come out somehow! It needs to be dealt with because otherwise you have all these people running around with neuroses and the inability to be intimate and interact with others and that’s because you’re conditioned from an early age to not be yourself.”


he most captivating thing about John Grant both in his albums of increasingly electronic, yet increasingly human vignettes, and in his conversation, which is peppered with sweary, sarcastic, endearing moments throughout - is that he is himself, without apology. Now aged 50, the singer still clearly battles demons daily (“Sometimes I feel like the world is just way too much, that I can’t process it because it’s too nasty and too beautiful and too everything,” he nods), but he’s also an advocate of not dressing things up to play nice and of embracing these flaws as much as the successes. Take ‘Metamorphosis’ - the record’s juddering, jarring

“I think all the nasty, ugly stuff is just as valid as all the beautiful stuff.�



opening track. On it, he takes the concept of 100% cards-on-the-table openness and turns it into an anxious, rattling, stream of consciousness. Laced over kranky synth bleats, it finds him pinballing between thoughts (“14-year-old boy rapes 80-year-old man / Tickets to the Met / Sweetcorn from the can”) with a conveyor belt-like, inescapable turnover. It’s an almost uncomfortable mirror for anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer cacophony that makes up a 24-hour day cycle. “The everyday is not a constant, because you’re doing things, and you’re thinking while you’re doing them, and you’re getting stuff coming in on your phone, and you’re walking down the street and observing things with your eyes,” he begins. “And you have this plan, everybody has this plan, about how it’s supposed to be that day. How you’re gonna present yourself. But all these other things get in the way because there are other people running around and all this news coming at you and all these colours and sounds and you don’t really have any control over it. And that’s what I wanted the song to sound like, and I feel like it sounds exactly like that. I feel like it’s a beautiful snapshot of being human.”

“My mind is very active and it also has been very cruel to itself.”

Inextricably linked within this is the idea of looking outwards, too. Though ‘Love Is Magic’ trawls through the chaos of the internal psyche, many of these thoughts are naturally triggered by the world around us. “I do think about the political landscape a lot,” he says. “I do think about that fucking psycho in the White House. I think about the horror of these two fake groups that exist - the right and the left - just thinking about these people, [and how] they must have elected him out of spite. Out of hatred for the other side.” And so we get tracks like the disdainful ‘Smug Cunt’ - one “about [Trump], about Putin, about all these people who go out into the world amassing money and power and hatred and rage and vomiting it all over everyone all day long, wherever they go.” But if all of this sounds fraught and troubled - and sometimes, certainly it is - then there’s also the sense throughout ‘Love Is Magic’ that maybe, by really analysing things and keeping a watchful eye, by finding the humour in the bullshit (John is a huge advocate of British comedy FYI - shout out Steve Coogan, Julia Davis et al), that maybe the singer has it more sussed out than any of the people acting calm on the surface. “I think my mind is very active and it’s a very curious mind and it also has been very cruel to itself. It attacks me a lot,” he notes. “So I feel like I do have a lot of insight into what’s going on, just from starting to pay attention decades ago and trying to figure out what happened and what’s happening to me and who I am. But I guess the [idea] is that no matter how confused or fucked you feel, you can learn to have a life and enjoy it. And be funny while you’re doing it.” And isn’t there a kind of humane magic to that? ‘Love Is Magic’ is out 12th October via Bella Union. DIY

The contemplative gaze of a man who wishes he’d bought the entire Pickle Rick outfit. 51

A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD Basement’s Andrew Fisher takes on his emotional and physical disconnect with fourth album, ‘Beside Myself’. Words: Ben Tipple.


“The feeling of standing out and feeling different is something I struggle with.” - Andrew Fisher


t’s no accident that ‘Disconnect’, the opening track on Basement’s fourth album ‘Beside Myself’, was the first to see the light of day. Written three years prior, almost immediately after the completion of the British rockers’ comeback record ‘Promise Everything’, its driving melody complements a powerful tale of emotional and physical detachment.

It’s this theme that underpins the record, vocalist and principal songwriter Andrew Fisher explains from his comparably new Virginia, United States home. The title is both remarkably literal and profoundly metaphorical, a clear mirror of how Andrew’s complex mind works. At its core, however, the melancholy album centres around the everyday struggle to simply live in the moment. “I want to know what it feels like to be settled in the sun,” he painfully repeats on the otherwise sun-kissed ‘New Coast’. This search for actuality can be found throughout its twelve tracks. On the forlorn ‘Be Here Now’, he introspectively asks: “I lost myself in the moment. Why can’t I just be here now?” Unlike ‘Promise Everything’, an album he’s since acknowledged as one he is not entirely happy with, the release of ‘Beside Myself’ follows a lengthy creative process. Time has played an important part in ensuring the record is truly representative of him and his bandmates, and has also allowed for a clearer, personal narrative.

“One of the things that kept coming up was the idea of self-reflection and not feeling comfortable living in the moment,” he says of the album’s lyrics. “The constant looking forward to things, thinking they were going to be better, and looking back at things and romanticising them as being better than how things are currently.” The process of creating ‘Beside Myself’ saw him regularly battle with this separation from reality. “There was one day I was particularly low because I wasn’t performing how I wanted,” he admits. “The reason was because I had this romantic view of what I wanted the songs to sound

like, but in the moment, they weren’t matching up. That was the perfect example of the disconnect between what I wanted in the future and what was happening right now. I couldn’t meet that, so I felt terrible. I went in this downward spiral of selfdeprecation, thinking I was shitting all over our work.” This inner anguish is embodied in his delivery, somewhere between frustrated and despondent. “Can you see through my best behaviour,” he asks on the gut-wrenching ‘Stigmata’. “Can you see I’m ill from fear of failure?” ‘Ultraviolet’ is a direct response to the 2017 Westminster terror attack. Living in the States at the time, his thoughts turned to his family. “There’s a whole balance of feeling happy and content, but also feeling incredibly homesick and scared that any minute somebody you care about is going to have something bad happen to them and you’re not going to be around to help them out. A lot of those concerns are going to come out in what I sing and write about.” This physical disconnect also appears in his day to day life. “I am currently an immigrant. I’m constantly the other, different, asked why I am here, whether I know the Queen. It’s very hard for me to just blend into the background. That feeling of standing out and feeling different is something I struggle with.” This attention stands at odds with his need for privacy. He explains his unwillingness to delve too far into his lyrics, describing his songs as deeply personal. “It’s very important that stays with me,” he states when talk veers towards specific lyrics. “I don’t like being exposed or in the spotlight.” He accepts the contradiction of privacy and performance, yet marries the two through his understanding of art. “I think that’s important to have my own personal interactions with our songs,” he continues. “That’s when the overall presentation of them is the most real and the most genuine.”


hile often musically downtrodden and sombre, ‘Beside Myself’ thrives on this honesty. Although Andrew deliberately retains the personal stories and the specifics, his emotion is palpable. When he sings of his detachment, his inner


CROSSING THE POND Since moving to the States, what does Andrew feel separated from back in Blighty?


“In the States I get asked several times a day how my day is going, and I know the person asking me doesn’t care... but they still ask me. I miss going into a shop and just having someone only telling me how much something costs and goodbye. That’s the level of interaction I want.”


“There’s something different in the water here and a cup of tea just doesn’t taste right. When I go home I’m drinking tea like it’s water. Even though I’m importing British tea it still doesn’t taste the same.”


“The readily available proper baked beans. I’ve actually now started making my own baked beans, because there’s too much sugar and corn syrup in the ones here.”


“I do really miss my family a lot. I’m very close with my parents, and not having my family around me is a bad thing... This was supposed to be lighthearted and I just ruined it.”

struggle to find enjoyment and his search for something more, it speaks to far more than just himself and his bandmates. ‘Beside Myself’ unfolds like a discovery of modern culture and society. “Are we busy working for things we do not need,” he questions on ‘Just A Life’. “Are we lying to ourselves, have we found our living hell?” Yet despite the adversity, he’s beaming about the album’s release. The space and time provided by their circumstance, in part moving from comparably small record label Run For Cover to the heavily-resourced Fueled By Ramen (both labels he’s got nothing but love for), has led to the creation of something he’s unquestionably happy about. “It’s just having this luxury of time,” he says, “and to really just focus on making the songs the best they can be, it’s the complete opposite to anything we’ve been able to do in the past.” His time in the studio alongside his bandmates and producer Colin Brittain, although at times a personal struggle, has proved a positive cathartic experience. “They are naturally very creative people,” he says of all involved. “The area we were in and the studio space itself, it was a lot of fun. It was honestly perfect.” Even during his most difficult days, the ones where he was at his lowest, the rest of Basement, Colin and Fueled By Ramen were nothing but supportive. During one of his many heart-to-hearts with Colin, Fisher was encouraged to view things differently. “You have to take a step back and not worry about it all as much,” he proclaimed. This drove ‘Beside Myself’ forward. “It just means so much to me,” he celebrates. “In my mind there was no way it was never going to get finished. I had a deep connection with the music, the band and the people, everything just came together. The time we spent on it, where we were, who we were working with, the label behind it. All of that made me feel safe and secure and focused, and able to complete what we were doing.” In the end, it was creating ‘Beside Myself’ - an album built on emotional and physical disconnection - that ultimately brought the singer back to the now. “The band is such a multi-faceted thing. It’s an emotional outlet, it’s a source of income, it’s an incredibly important emotional structure for everyone, it’s a way of constantly keeping in touch with my brother and best friends, and it’s a way to feel centred,” he explains. And while he acknowledges the irony of finding comfort on a record that discusses the lack thereof, he’s slowly accepting the strange duality of this situation. “It causes problems and it also solves them,” he concludes of his life in Basement. “It’s a double-edged sword, but one at the moment I‘m enjoying trying to cope with.” ‘Beside Myself’ is out 12th October via Fueled By Ramen. DIY






Since the release of her last album, MØ has racked up hundreds of millions of plays as the co-writer and

vocalist on some of the biggest

songs of

the decade. Now, however, she’s ready to step up and reclaim

her own spotlight.

Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Catalina Kulczar.


he last time DIY sat down with Karen Marie Ørsted, the Danish singer was in the process of concocting her second album. Following the modest success of 2014 debut ‘No Mythologies To Follow’, she’d since been catapulted into the public eye first as a guest on Iggy Azalea’s ‘Beg For It’ and then, all-consumingly, as the vocalist and co-writer of Major Lazer collaboration ‘Lean On’ (at the time, the most streamed song in history). Her adopted moniker of MØ was everywhere and the signs seemed good. Another Diplo-produced track ‘Kamikaze’, purported to be the album’s first single, had come out, while 2016 smash ‘Final Song’ took the hallmarks of what was becoming the pair’s tropical house trademark and stamped them on a track with the singer’s name front and centre. Then, to cap it all off, Justin Bieber joined the fun for single ‘Cold Water’. Cue another casual 900 million YouTube streams. MØ’s pop currency was at the top of its game and an LP to cement all the hard work was on its way. Except that it wasn’t. “It was really, really wild, and also flattering and exciting. But honestly, and this is how I am with everything in life, the only thing I was thinking about is what’s next. What do we do next? What’s the next song?” she recalls of that period, animatedly regaling us down the phone from a Washington, DC hotel room in a manner that suggests she’s winning the battle against jetlag for now. “It’s amazing to see how [‘Lean On’] inspired a whole sound and a whole wave of things, but at the same time, all I was thinking about was what was going to be my comeback and how do I finish this record? And for a year or something, I had the famous writer’s block. So [that song is] the best thing that ever happened in my life, but also it slowed down the process of finding my own sound again. “When you’re in a place and a position like that, you’re very eager to continue the success but at the same time [you want to] continue to be yourself and it can be very confusing. It became this big battle in my head with all these opinions.” The upshot is that, two-and-a-half years after that last meeting and four-and-a-half since work began, ‘Forever Neverland’ is only now seeing the light of day. It’s easy, however, to understand why the route to phase two has been such an arduous one. After all, there’s not many multi-million-selling, Bieber-collaborating pop stars who began their careers singing a song called ‘Pussy In Your Face’.


f MØ’s unconventional roots - the singer was in an anarchist punk band before adopting her current performance guise - are a point that’s been discussed before, then now more than ever it’s one that bears repeating. The conflicting aims of punk ideals and commercial pressures are ones that have famously sent musicians spiralling. And if MØ’s own delicate balancing act has thankfully been less problematic, then it’s still one that’s clearly taken a long time to weigh up exactly right.

“I remember in the beginning of my career as MØ back in 2012 when my first album came out. Obviously there was a huge transition from being in a punk band and only singing about political stuff and being super aggressive, but it didn’t feel like that big of a change because it didn’t feel like I was changing myself. I’ve always loved pop music so I just felt like I was doing pop but being myself, not wearing make-up and trying to get my point of view as a person and an artist out through a more commercial type of music,” she begins.


“But after ‘Lean On’, when all of a sudden all eyes were on me and all these people wanted to work with me, then I did feel like there was a change. That super commercial pressure.”

but then I also need to go into a session and have that whole collaborative thing because then you get the personal stuff but [not so much that] it’s dwelling and too narcissistic.”

She continues: “I needed to [stop and] think about that because the most important thing as an artist is to be yourself. It’s so important to have a voice and to be honest, and I really wanted to do that while also doing commercial music. [To capture] that fine balance of being yourself - which is the most radical thing you can do - while making music that a lot of people can feel that they’re invited to listen to. But it was difficult. Definitely. That’s why the album took four and a half years to finish.”

Charli XCX in particular is a collaborator that makes perfect sense. Alongside MØ herself, the two are at the forefront of a very modern breed of new popstars: ones from DIY backgrounds, who’ve transcended that world into something altogether bigger but kept the same sense of control and individuality throughout. “I think it’s changing so much now. I feel like we’re living in a time where there’s really starting to be room for being whatever kind of artist you wanna be; doing all sorts of collaborations and projects within your project and just experimenting a lot,” she enthuses. “It makes it less about just getting the hits and getting the money but also about creating and pushing borders, which is something that really turns me on. Charli has been so good at doing that and I think it’s so cool that she’s the master of her own train, or whatever the saying is,” she chuckles. “She’s controlling her own shit.”

In search of the elusive ingredients that would ground the record, MØ pushed herself out of her comfort zone, testing the waters of her newfound demand by trialling a series of infamous writers’ rooms in LA - the notorious hubs where covens of music’s behind-the-scenes songwriting elite congregate to pen the next big pop hits. “In the beginning I was really scared about [those sessions]. I would get total social anxiety and be super confused and scared to be vulnerable because I was so used to working on my own,” she recalls. “When you’re writing songs for Rihanna or someone then there’s probably 20 people, and most of the sessions I’ve been to have had maybe three or four people there. But even that very modest number was still so new for me and I found it really, really hard.” Eventually, however, one of these sessions led the singer to producer STINT (Carly Rae Jepsen, Demi Lovato, NAO) and in the Canadian, MØ found a musical foil who she could work with without any forced awkwardness. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given the series of huge hits the singer has guested on, ‘Forever Neverland’ is an album as fuelled by its collaborations as it is by its lynchpin. MØ credits STINT as the person who helped tie all her disparate ideas into something cohesive. “It wasn’t until he really jumped on board that I started seeing the end of the album and the light at the end of the tunnel,” she nods. Meanwhile, across the record, a series of the Dane’s peers and pals pop up: ‘Sun In Our Eyes’ features old mucker Diplo. ‘If It’s Over’ is the next in a line of collaborative tracks with Charli XCX. ‘Red Wine’ features icy US singer Empress Of. “At the beginning it was people suggesting that [collaboration is] where you get the hit and you meet people and develop as an artist, which I think is completely true,” she begins. “But I think right now the perfect [thing] for me is to have that balance. Being selfish I need to sit alone and write down all my shit,


MØ PEOPLE, LESS PROBLEMS MØ’s got a lot of famous musical pals this we already know. But who are the ones who’ve cropped up on her latest release, you may ask? Well these are they…


Ah, our old mucker Diplo. As part of Major Lazer, the super producer catapulted MØ into the limelight, first with ‘Lean On’ and then with ‘Cold Water’. Now, he’s here popping up on ‘Sun In Our Eyes’. A reliable pal.


MØ previously guested on Charli’s tracks ‘3am (Pull Up)’ and ‘Porsche’, as well as teaming up as part of an all-girl supergroup for a rendition of Dua Lipa’s ‘IDGAF’. Here, Chaz returns the favour with a spot on ‘If It’s Over’.


LA musician Empress Of released her debut ‘Me’ in 2015 and its follow-up ‘Us’ this year. On ‘Forever Neverland’, the ice cool singer lends her vocal prowess to ‘Red Wine’.


Main album producer STINT may be credited with making the album what it is, but he also had occasional help on the desk, too. On Charli track ‘If It’s Over’, he hands the reign to super duo Hudson Mohawke and StarGate.


ontrolling your own shit’ is clearly a motto that MØ lives by. Where she could have easily pumped out 10 sub’Lean On’’s and called it a record a good couple of years ago, instead she steadfastly worked and focused until she reached an album that felt exciting and right. And where she could have run the risk of turning into just another featured vocalist within the long history of ‘Hot Producer feat. Female Singer’, she’s instead just as unapologetically herself as she’s ever been. “I’ve never felt like I fitted into that proper pop star mould or beauty standard or whatever. And I still don’t feel like that. But even from the beginning when this started I thought well, with my whole background and everything I’m never going to fit that and I see it as a strength because I feel like we live in a time where people are interested in what’s different. Not to make myself sound like, oh I’m completely weird and different,” she notes, adopting the kind of mock-kooky voice that suggests she’s probably not a ‘500 Days Of Summer’ fan. “But I’ve always felt like fuck, is the world going to understand this weird thing?! But I think it’s a good thing, and you should embrace it and not feel insecure about not fitting the fucking mould.” If that sentiment deserves a rousing ‘amen’, then it’s just one in a series of things that makes MØ stick out like a gloriously necessary sore thumb within the pop landscape. Recent single ‘Way Down’ with its refrain of “I just wanna get fucked up with my baby” might sound like the clarion call of a classic party anthem, but

“I feel like we’re living in a time where there’s room to be whatever kind of artist you wanna be.”


“You shouldn’t feel insecure about not fitting the fucking mould.” its roots lay in something more politically subversive - a kind of final hell raise as the world as we know it descends into flames. The opening chord sequence of album track ‘Blur’, meanwhile, recalls a different set of alternative ‘90s icons in the form of the Pixies’ anthem ‘Where Is My Mind?’ “It has this weird mix of Pixies grunge but also an MIA-sounding drop, with emotional lyrics and it’s also melancholic but uplifting at the same time. It’s probably my favourite song on the record,” she notes. The cumulative effect is of a pop star who lives up to the name in every sense except the obvious. MØ is wildly successful, capable of penning songs that’ll sell eye-watering amounts and works with the biggest and best in the biz. But she’s also a punk at heart, with an unwavering commitment to following her own path and a refusal to conform to those who’ve come before. The only thing standing between her and true mega-stardom is for the rest of the old guard to catch up. “I do really want people to get to know me. I love pop music and I love operating in this exciting field where you’re going for these big commercial Top 40s but I wanna do it in new, exciting ways,” she enthuses. “It’s hard but what I hope is to continue to do what I do and to strive to someday make music that can crossover while at the same time being completely true to myself. That’s the ambition.” ‘Forever Neverland’ is out 19th October via Chess Club / RCA. DIY


21 November Royal Albert Hall


REVI eeeee



f 2017 was the year that Brockhampton plain sailed towards world domination - their ‘Saturation’ trilogy of albums painting the LA-based boyband as one of the most exciting groups on the planet - then 2018 served as somewhat of a reality check. Before the band even released the third ‘Saturation’ album last December, they’d shared details of their fourth studio LP, a record called ‘Team Effort’. A week before its scheduled release in March, though, it was cancelled. Just before a new album called ‘Puppy’ was set to be shared this June, allegations of sexual abuse were levelled at the band’s Ameer Vann, leading to the band kicking him out, cancelling tour dates, and shelving the record. After a regroup, their summer tour was eventually rescheduled,


iridescence (RCA)


and they re-emerged into the spotlight with their US TV debut on Jimmy Fallon, who announced their new album - ‘the best years of our lives’ - before a performance of the downbeat, heavily reflective ‘Tonya’. On their debut European tour, they looked revitalised: the six members that now make up the onstage portion of Brockhampton found a new flow, and seemed determined with the idea of moving on. Afterwards, they decamped to London, moved into Abbey Road Studios (all casual, like), and began work on what would become ‘iridescence’. It’s not clear how much, if any, of what appears on ‘iridescence’ was lifted from ‘Team Effort’ and/or ‘Puppy’, but it’s not an album that feels like it’s trying to claw back

IEWS the past - in fact, it’s defined by its pursuit of newness. After ‘Saturation’’s freewheeling spirit and an insatiable appetite for fun, ‘iridescence’ had to confront the past nine months, and make a statement as to how the band move forward. It does so emphatically. Across the record, each member muses on their past, present and future with stark honesty, feeding the anecdotes into a singular bigger picture. “Pulled my life out of dirt, that’s a miracle,” Merlyn Wood raps on ‘NEW ORLEANS’, while ‘SAN MARCOS’ sees Russell ‘Joba’ Boring stunningly confronting his depression: “Suicidal thoughts, but I won’t do it / Take that how you want, it’s important I admit it.” The London Community Gospel Choir then lift the band’s words to the skies, repeating: “I want more out of life than this.” The album’s emotional centrepiece, though, is ‘WEIGHT’, an urgent, necessary cleansing of deep-seated doubts

from Kevin Abstract. He confronts self-doubt (“I’ve been feeling defeated, like I’m the worst in the boyband”), the mental health of his bandmates (“I’m still worried ‘bout when Ashlan [Grey, Brockhampton member] finna put the razor down”), his sexuality (“Every time she took her bra off my dick would get soft / I thought I had a problem, kept my head inside a pillow screaming”), before he simply and softly decides to move on from all the controversy, singing: “I don’t wanna waste no more time, I’m ready to go / I live my life on standby, I can leave you alone.” By confronting the bumps they’ve found in the road over the last year, Brockhampton have found a new sense of unity, and when ‘iridescence’ confronts every single one, it turns the band into a truly special voice. It was a record Brockhampton had to make - now it’s done, they’re free to move on and become the biggest in the world. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘WEIGHT’, ‘SAN MARCOS’, ‘NEW ORLEANS’ 63


Dose Your Dreams (Merge)


Fucked Up’s fifth studio album arrives billed as their ‘Screamadelica’, an accolade presented by contributor Owen Pallet in reference to Primal Scream’s 1991 commercial breakthrough. Yet commercial viability is far from the forefront of ‘Dose Your Dreams’. Instead, it’s the vast musical influences and experimentation that incite the comparison; ‘Screamadelica’ borrowing heavily from the electronic music scene it was born into, ‘Dose Your Dreams’ a frantic, angry and vast reaction to the state of the world

eeee MØ

Forever Neverland (Chess Club / RCA)


Karen Marie Ørsted wasn’t always the gleaming pop star who contributed vocals to Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’. Coming from Copenhagen’s punk scene, debut album ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ was a twitchy, left-of-centre delight that swerved traditional pop conventions. Since then, she’s released a handful of singles and EPs, all pointing in different musical directions. It all comes together on ‘Forever Neverland, though; she’s never looked more comfortable in her own skin. Opener ‘Way Down’ is a hedonistic delight, existing on the fringes of the dancefloor, and across the album she dips her toe into slow, acoustic anthems (‘Blur’), soaring road-trip soundtracks (‘Sun In Our Eyes’) and slow-burning pop bangers (‘If It’s Over’). Yes, there’s nothing of the size or scale of ‘Lean On’, but in unapologetically treading her own path, MØ’s beginning to carve a new identity all of her own. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘If It’s Over’

Photo. Catalina Kulczar. 64

today. It serves to cement Fucked Up’s rightful place as genre pioneers, reaching further out into a multitude of sounds and styles than ever before. Opener ‘None Of Your Business Man’ begins with delicate piano tinkering and explodes into a ferocious barrage that dominates much of the record. Respite is provided at key moments: the brilliant ‘Came Down Wrong’ ends the perfectly challenging audible assault of ‘Mechanical Bull’ and ‘Accelerate’. The latter opens with wailing guitars before venturing into full industrial territory that would make Nine Inch Nails squirm. ‘Dose Your Dreams’ is powerfully confronting, unashamedly angry, unrelenting and it’s long. Fucked Up’s reluctance to settle on a sound is enticing rather than distracting. There are no records that sound like ‘Dose Your Dreams’, and no band that sounds this Fucked Up. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘Came Down Wrong’


eeee NONAME Room 25 (self-released)


Noname’s 2016 mixtape ‘Telefone’ was a thrilling introduction to a multifaceted artist. Possessing a flawless, smooth-as-silk flow, Fatimah Warner took us on a cosmic trip through jazz, soul and the experiences of adolescence. Its follow-up, debut album proper ‘Room 25’, takes all this promise and solidifies it. On opener ‘Self’, she talks to a listener she’ll go on to enthral across the next 35 minutes: “Maybe this the album you listen to in your car when you driving home late at night, really questioning every god, religion, Kanye, bitches.” Later in the song, she asks a question that both she and everyone listening is already certain of the answer to: “Y’all really thought a bitch couldn’t rap huh?” (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Blaxploitation’

eeee BASEMENT Beside Myself (Warner Bros.)


Delve into just a little of Basement’s back story, and the idea that their new album’s opening track is titled ‘Disconnect’ comes as little surprise. Since the quintet - originally from Ipswich but now based in both the UK and US – first re-emerged with their hiatus-ending ‘Further Sky’ EP back in 2014, they’ve felt, musically at least, much more sure of themselves. It’s on a more personal level, however, that ‘Beside Myself’ tackles the sense of identity crisis that’s clearly plagued frontman Andrew Fisher. Dealing with the reality of his band being split across two continents – he, himself, now lives in Virginia – as well as the every day struggles he’s faced along the way, their fourth full-length is a more intimate cross-examination of life in the here and now. Whether being forced to see your family and friends’ lives from afar (touched on in ‘Ultraviolet’), or having to deal with your own sense of self-worth (as in ‘Stigmata’), ‘Beside Myself’ is an intricate but powerful look at how we cope with that aforementioned sense of disconnect in current times. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Ultraviolet’

eee KURT VILE Bottle It In (Matador)


Kurt Vile’s most recent studio offering was the joint collaboration ‘Lotta Sea Lice’ that he wrote and recorded with Courtney Barnett, and it’s hard not to notice her influence peppered throughout ‘Bottle It In’. Here, Kurt takes a leaf out of Courtney’s book to wear his heart on his sleeve, searching for introspection and delving into his deepest and most personal lyrics to date - about love, loss and everything in between. ‘One Trick Ponies’ is an upbeat, folk-ridden track where he lays everything down the line. On lead single ‘Rollin With the Flow’, he makes clear of his anxieties and what’s to be expected of him in society. The album’s highlight, however, is on the title track when Kurt becomes both confessional and seemingly satirical about giving advice. As if he’s sceptical about whether or not he’s equipped to give such advice for fear of being in some hypocritical standpoint, his suggestions coated with a feeling of caution. Instead, it comes off like warning, to avoid making the same mistakes he made: “Don’t tell them you love them, for your own sake…” he sings, “‘Cause you never know when your heart’s gonna break, and that’s a chance you just can’t take”. But maybe, just maybe, some mistakes are worth it. (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘Bottle It In’

Photo. Phil Smithes 65


Love Is Magic (Bella Union)


With every solo effort, John Grant comes more into his own, expressing himself more openly from an increasingly self-assured plain. ‘Love Is Magic’ furthers this, capturing him at his most candid, tragic and humorous, a seamless coming together of intermingling moods that scores heavy points for self-esteem and brutal self-deprecation. Hitting the ground running, this confidence and openness of expression maps itself out on the album’s spaced-out opening track ‘Metamorphosis’. As an extreme exercise in buzzing, leftfield electronica, it builds on John’s love of experimentation in its lyrically-dense cyber-funk waltz. Much of the record finds John Grant concealing cold truths in luscious soundscapes, as he has done for some time; it’s an album filled with thought-provoking mini-dramas designed to enrapture and enthral. Each cut the deep, space-tinged admission of a man who’s been there, done that and amassed an entire wardrobe of idiomatic t-shirts. The flirtatious, sensual stylings of ‘Preppy Boy’ incites images of an intergalactic disco, the sexual sway of ‘He’s Got His Mother’s Hips’ adding to this erotic fervour in a festival of free-flowing funk and scorching promiscuity. The no-punches-pulled, profane likes of ‘Smug Cunt’ and ‘Diet Gum’ can do little to derail this all-singing, all-dancing celebration of freedom and individuality. “I manipulate, that is what I do,” he coyly sings on the latter, an artist demonstrating comfort within himself and his chosen genres, a man turning hardship into happiness in defence of his own glorious being. ‘Love Is Magic’ feels like a victory lap. Frequently boundarypushing, side-splittingly funny and anything but safe, John Grant’s fourth LP is a rip-roaring thrill ride that’s immensely danceable to boot. Magic really does work in mysterious ways. (Dan Owens) LISTEN: ‘Preppy Boy’

eeee ROBYN Honey

(Konichiwa / Island)


‘Missing U’, the first track from ‘Honey’ - Robyn’s first album in eight years - feels familiar. Thudding kick drum pounds away underneath defiant lyrics of heartache, and it’s as affecting as she’s ever been. It’s the rest of the record, though, that really excels, pointing the way forward for an artist changing her tune. Assisted by Metronomy’s Joe Mount, Kindness and more on the record, ‘Honey’ largely foregoes the desperate energy of 2010’s ‘Body Talk’ and finds its peace in a quieter, more open space. ‘Human Being’ confronts both the fear and the thrill of contemplating mortality, while the title track is a gorgeous anthem of acceptance. It’s a different Robyn we’re faced with on ‘Honey’, but one we can learn just as much from. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Honey’

eeee CAT POWER Wanderer (Domino)


Six years on from ‘Sun’, Cat Power sounds defiant. ‘Woman’ could serve as an internal soundtrack for women living in resistance in America and further afield, Lana Del Rey’s presence on it acting as a reminder that, while she sings of herself as a singular woman, she is not alone. ‘Wanderer’ was written in a “very special time” in Cat Power’s life when she came to understand what she wanted to be “as a woman, as an artist, and as a mother.” There’s a strength to the record that underpins that feeling, not just in ‘Woman’ but as a whole, even when she’s singing of less than savoury things. That she is singing about them at all feels like an act of might. At the heart of the record is a cover - a twinkling, soft piano take on Rihanna’s ‘Stay’. Even as she’s sighing lines like “Something in the way you move / Makes me feel like I can’t live without you,” she sounds like an impermeable tower, playing her way through loss and turning fragility into resilience. Her tenth studio album might be written about Cat Power’s own journey, but it also doubles as an essential compass for finding your way through the dark. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Woman’ 66


Fall Into The Sun (Merge)


As accomplished as solo outing ‘Tourist In This Town’ was, there’s something almost cathartic about hearing Allison Crutchfield back in her natural habitat. A year on the road with Waxahatchee may have helped preserve her rock chops, but it’s how comfortably she and bandmate Kyle Gilbride have settled back into the old dynamic that’s most impressive. Eighteen months ago, she confirmed that the collapse of their romantic relationship meant that the band were finished, but time has clearly healed old wounds; ‘Fall Into the Sun’ feels like a genuine collaboration between the pair. Musically, the band again take their cues from the nineties likes of Superchunk and Sebadoh, and they do it with real verve. ‘Fall Into the Sun’ is the best Swearin’ record yet; that Allison and Kyle have not just reformed the band, but actually brought the creative best out of each other in doing so, is a powerful advert for reconciliation. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Grow Into A Ghost’

Allison Crutchfield talks reuniting the band, adult albums and useful time away. What drove you to make music together again as Swearin’? I think we just genuinely missed writing songs for this band. We had to re-examine the dynamics and shift some things around to make it work for the 2018 versions of ourselves, but the drive just came from feeling like it wasn’t over. Did you find the time away on other projects helped when making for this record? Absolutely! Producing my solo record and working with other bands really gave me a lot more confidence as a songwriter and producer. You’ve called the record “the adult Swearin’ album”. How do you think that manifests itself in the record? The subject matter discussed in the lyrics, the pacing, and the general tone. It all feels a little elevated to me, but that’s also possibly because I’m just older now? Hard to say. It feels more developed than ‘Surfing Strange’.

eeee HOW TO DRESS WELL The Anteroom (Domino)


Around the time Tom Krell released 2016’s ‘Care’, he moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of his doctorate, and some observers felt as if they could hear it on the album; it was unabashedly poppy in its sound (Jack Antonoff was among the collaborators) and unashamedly earnest in its approach to lyrical ideas surrounding love, loss and mental health. It suited him down to the ground, but anybody pining for a return to a more experimental approach with ‘The Anteroom’ is in for some good news. This fifth LP is sharply ambitious and probably most closely mirrors ‘Total Loss’ in its musical outlook; throughout, there’s a kind of sparseness that unites the tracks, although they differ consistently. ‘Body Fat’ is a gentle, electronic love song that swamps Tom’s vocals in reverb; ‘Vacant Boat’, meanwhile, which conjures images of the earth after humanity is extinct, is discomfiting in its discordance. A depressive episode of his triggered in part by the result of the 2016 presidential election inspired him to write an album on which “the energy never goes above three out of ten”, and yet there’s the occasional acceleration, especially on the nervy ‘Nonkilling 6 | Hunger’. ‘The Anteroom’ is surely How To Dress Well’s most exciting work to date; it might, in time, unfurl into his most poignant and vital, too. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Vacant Boat’ 67



(Big Scary Monsters)






Across their 15 year lifespan, Philadelphia’s mewithoutYou have never been a band to stand still. These seemingly opposing states blend together wonderfully on their two new releases. Their ‘[untitled]’ EP is a softer, more melodic set of songs, while the ‘[Untitled]’ LP (upper case U is the difference here… obviously) teams vicious riffworship (opener ‘9:27 a.m., 7/29’) with calmer, twinkling numbers (‘Winter Solstice’) to end up as somewhat of a comprehensive collection of everything the band do so well. As ever, the record is glued together by Aaron Weiss’ distinctive vocals and twisted poetry; he screams like a man possessed in the album’s heaviest corners, but can also direct the softer cuts with intricate, delicate verses. Not consolidating or scaling back their ambition in the slightest, mewithoutYou continue to be one of indie-rock’s most consistently fascinating voices, and on ‘[Untitled]’ they’re as weird and wonderful as ever. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Winter Solstice’

‘VI’ arrives as more than just You Me At Six’s sixth full-length. It’s a reaffirmation of them as a band, and a deliberate effort to reclaim their sound. The likes of ‘IOU’ inject a certain confident swagger not before seen in the band’s repertoire. And it’s this confidence that defines ‘VI’, an audible assertion of their newfound clarity. Although You Me At Six are at their most powerful in their heavier moments, not least in the melodic brilliance of the opening trio of songs, their attitude remains on the more stripped back instrumentation later on. What before has been interpreted as arrogance now finds its rightful home. In a year that is still to see You Me At Six perform their much-loved debut ‘Take Off Your Colours’ in full, ‘VI’ not only recaptures but reinvents the magic that has propelled them to be one of the UK’s most successful rock outfits of recent times. It may not have the depth of some of their counterparts, but it easily makes up for it with refreshing, confident fun. (Ben Tipple) LISTEN: ‘3AM’



abysskiss (Saddle Creek)


As frontwoman of Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker weaves gorgeous, folky tales, fleshed out by subtle flecks of guitar, bass and drums by her bandmates. ‘abyskiss’ does away with the embellishments. The record almost entirely just features her fiddly, intricate acoustic guitar work and wonderfully distinctive vocal, allowing her stories to worm their way into your consciousness immediately. Subtle swells of synth and strings back up the album’s most emotionally intense moments, but her vocals can do the job on their own, especially on beautiful highlight ‘Cradle’. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘cradle’ 68


I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions (Downtown)


Santigold teamed up with producer and DJ Dre Skull, and after bonding over a shared love for reggae and Afro-Caribbean music, the pair began exploring their ideas for a mixtape. Unrestrained by traditional formats, it’s a collection of tracks that keeps moving, with each track crossfading into the next; an eclectic, summerinspired album blending together elements of dancehall, reggae and hip-hop. Spontaneous in sound and easy to listen to, it feels like a natural extension from what’s come before rather than a bold move forward, but you can tell they had fun making it all the same. (Rachel Finn) LISTEN: ‘Run The Road’

Revolve (Recur)


Taking broad strides away from their shimmering, club-orientated sound, Bondax’s second LP displays a newfound flair and maturity. Rather than crafting beats with commercial appeal, the pair are now trying to experiment with more nuanced sounds - ones that prioritise skill as well as sensitivity. However, what could be truly interesting instead often blends into one all-tooobvious idea. ‘Horizon’ is safe, while ‘Air’ is a unimaginative attempt at drawing rap into the record, which comes off as insincere. For something that has the promise of hitting bullseye, too many of the darts miss the board entirely. (Sophie Walker)  LISTEN: ‘Real Thing’

eee CONNAN MOCKASIN Jassbusters (Mexican Summer)


In the last five years, Connan Mockasin has worked with Charlotte Gainsbourg, formed Soft Hair and toured the world. Now he’s changed his blueprint for his solo work. ‘Jassbusters’ is his most classic-sounding to date. Recorded live, its creation took just a week, and this comes across as ‘Con Conn was Impatient’, ‘Sexy Man’ and closer ‘Les Be Honest’ have a playful immediacy. Gone are the wonky workouts of ‘Please Turn Me in the Snat / Forever Dolphin Love’ and the carnal callisthenics of ‘Caramel’, but they’ve been replaced with deep grooves, gloomy solos and delicate melodies. (Nick Roseblade) LISTEN: ‘Charlotte’s Thong’

ALBUMS eeee CLOUD NOTHINGS Last Building Burning (Wichita)


Cloud Nothings have always been a band who have teetered between the pushand-pull of the loud and quiet. And while ‘Life Without Sound’ was a record that was nestled into the softer, lo-fi ends of the spectrum, ‘Last Building Burning’ sees them return to their visceral and louder roots. The record opens with the highoctane thriller of ‘On An Edge’, the softer power-pop of previous tracks foregone in favour of a three-minute punk exodus. Cloud Nothings are famed for their sweaty and beer-spilling live shows, and the energy is reflected throughout. The highlight of the album is lead single ‘Echo of the World’, an ambitious offering of the chaos and havoc that so encapsulates the album as well as the and chiming guitars that hark back to Cloud Nothings’ past work. ‘Last Building Burning’ has opened the door for Cloud Nothings to be anything, and everything, that they want to be. (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘Echo of the World’

eee UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA IC-01 Hanoi (Jagjaguwar)


Though recorded during the making of recent LP ‘Sex & Food’, ‘IC-01 Hanoi’ - a collection of seven instrumental pieces, penned in Vietnam alongside local musician Minh Nguyen - goes beyond the usual remit of a standard ‘offcuts and extras’ record. Using a selection of traditional Vietnamese instruments, the results exist on the peripheries of what we know to be UMO. They’re stranger, more direct beasts without the foil of Nielson’s soft vocal and often all the more ominous for it. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Hanoi 4’




Frontman Dylan Baldi spills on quick recording, inventive Tex-Mex and his fave heavy music. How did you approach ‘Last Building Burning’ differently to previous records? I wanted this one to be really fast, visceral and almost violent. I knew I wanted the cover to be something blurry in black and white. I just thought it’d be interesting to swim around in the darkness for a while and see what would come out of it. Eight days is a quick time to get a record done…! It felt too long to me! How was it working with producer Randall Dunn? Randall was great, working with him was easy. He comes from a background of experimental film and music, so I think working on a simple rock record is just fun for him. We were in south Texas right on the border of Juarez, so we all went down there and had some margaritas and some gnarly cut up hotdog pieces on a tortilla with neon orange sauce. Good times. Have you found the heaviness in music you were after?! I mean there’s a million heavy bands. I was just referring to not seeing it in the mainstream discourse, I guess. Any guitar music that gets fairly popular seems to be of a lighter variety. I guess most people probably don’t want to listen to angry yelling on top of dissonant music. But I’ve really been enjoying the new Skeletonwitch.

There’s an exuberant giddiness that runs through ‘PINK’ - the debut from Japanese quartet CHAI - that could be bottled as a tonic to all the bores and dullards of the world. Careering between the electropop pulse of Shamir-recalling opener ‘Hi Hi Baby’ to the Dream Wife-esque sweet / sour riffy mash-up of ‘Walking Star’, via tropical poolside pop (‘Horechatta’), chanty Rapture dance-punk (‘N.E.O’) and the bonkers cacophony of ‘Gyranboo’ – which begins with all four bleating like sheep, it’s an 11-track trip that’s a joyful delight from start to finish. Throw in a note of Moldy Peaches’ charming naivety to the sing-song nursery rhyme of ‘Kawaii Hito’ and you’ve got a record that’s an unapologetic, brilliant melting pot like little else. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘N.E.O’ 69

eee JOHNNY HOSTILE (dys)function (Pop Noire)


Intended as a commentary of the mundanities of daily life, Savages producer Johnny Hostile has composed a score to an average work day: ‘Wake Up’; ‘Work’; ‘Lunch’; ‘Walk Back Home’, and so on. The concept is to capture the beauty found in the ordinary. Its resemblance to reality is weighted by its sounds taken directly from real life: ‘Lunch’ opens to the sounds of children playing in a park and birds tweeting. It has a lightness that completely contrasts with ‘Procrastination’: a booming monotonous bass embodies the drone of boredom until your mind wanders with it. There’s something very ominous about the tone of ‘dys(function)’, a little unsettling. The day ends with ‘Walk Back Home’, swooping high with synth that trembles as if balancing on its tiptoes. The effect is other-worldly. But, just as soon as you’re lulled into comfort, that same growl throughout the album resurfaces. The ambitions of ‘dys(function)’ are high: highbrow, high-concept. But there’s an implicit problem within this. By the end, the record begins to echo the everyday plod of its theme to too high a degree. Nothing comes as a surprise; nothing truly engages. It’s hard to separate Johnny Hostile’s faults from his intentions. (Sophie Walker) LISTEN: ‘Stay Awake’

eee PETITE NOIR La Maison Noir / The Black House (Roya)


‘Blame Fire’ kicks ‘La Maison Noir’ off with a bang, the Danny Brownfeaturing ‘Beach’ continues the momentum, with Petite Noir’s vocals and Danny’s looping raps meshing beautifully. But the relentless focus on drums being set to-the-absolutemax, vocals being bellowed and throwing the entire kitchen sink at it all leaves little room for nuance. It becomes a tiring listen, begging for the moments of shade that appeared on his debut record, rather than the sheer balls-to-the-wall maximalism provided. The opening three numbers shine, showing a refreshing sound bursting at the seams with positivity, but the lack of variety means that, by the end, you may feel slightly bludgeoned by it all. (Tom Sloman) LISTEN: ‘Beach’ 70




(Big Scary Monsters)

It’s a disparate gang that Tom Morello has banded together here and you suspect that his signature towering riffs are not going to be enough, on their own, to adequately cohere the album. Accordingly, he’s lent the whole affair an electronic flavour that doesn’t really work. In some cases, that’s because it’s crashingly outdated: why Marcus Mumford was the first name to spring to mind to lend a forgettable turn to the electro-prog-bynumbers ‘Find Another Way’ is a mystery. Tom Morello has never made his name on the back of an excess of subtlety or nuance, but even by those standards, ‘The Atlas Underground’ is a lurid affair - it’ll probably earn him a few quid from video game soundtrackers, mind. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Rabbit’s Revenge’

Tim Kasher seldom manages to avoid comparison with fellow Nebraskan Conor Oberst; the two are long-time friends, and own bars down the street from each other in their native Omaha. On ‘Vitriola’, though, the parallel feels warranted for the first time in a while, as Tim angrily processes the reality of living in Trump’s America in a style not too far removed from Conor’s work with Desaparecidos. Opener ‘Free to Be or Not to Be You and Me’ sets the tone, simmering with a menace generated jointly by discordant, rumbling guitars and an increasingly furious vocal turn. ‘Vitriola’ is a fiercely political record, but one that seldom feels trite; married to the aggressive tone of a band back to make a point, it’s a razor-sharp lament of America in 2018. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Pick Up The Pieces’

The Atlas Underground ....................................................



eee STEADY HOLIDAY Nobody’s Watching (Barsuk)


Steady Holiday tackled an exploration of the personal in debut ‘Under The Influence’ two years ago, but for follow-up ‘Nobody’s Watching’, she takes a step outside of her own mind. Each track is based around different characters who try and escape, or otherwise get sucked into, greed, fear and self-interest. The result is a dream-like, hazy dive into nostalgia that sounds almost like a score for a film set at some undefined point several decades ago, with Dre’s featherlight voice floating over arrangements of piano, strings and synths. It creates a sense of both familiarity and distance, and with it, becomes a record that seems both otherworldly and unsettling. (Rachel Finn) LISTEN: ‘Love and Pressure’


Strange Entertainment



On the Nottingham trio’s second album ‘Strange Entertainment’, Kagoule have never sounded so sure of themselves, diving into the muddy depths of grunge and post-punk to find an uncanny brightness. Each track feels like an oddity in an eccentric curator’s cabinet of curiosities. On ‘Magnified’ they get molecular: “I don’t think you realise / your cells are made to divide,” croons Cai Burns, with the detached tone of a scientist examining pond slime under a microscope. The album often holds back from going flat out, making space instead for woozy storytelling, and the restraint pays off: when it rips, it rips. (Katie Hawthorne) LISTEN: ‘Repent! Said The Insect Man’

New album, new home and teaming up with a couple of indie legends guitarist Cai Burns explains how Kagoule found their feet on LP2. Hello Kagoule! You’ve found a new home with Alcopop! How did that come about? We met Alcopop! a few years ago, just after ‘Urth’ was released. There was definitely a crush there, but we were all married up with Earache. Anyway, a few years went by, ‘Urth’ was toured and album two was written. Lots of crazy things happened and we had a real rocky time. We believed we had written a great record and wanted a label that genuinely thought the same. A label that would let us do what we do and support us in that. After speaking to Alcopop! again we knew it was the right match. After being stuck in limbo for what seemed like forever it felt like a musical laxative. How did you approach ‘Strange Entertainment’ differently to ‘Urth’? It’s the first ‘record’ we’ve written, you know, like fully knowing that it’s going to be a real vinyl, pressed and sold somewhere. I felt at this point much more confident in what Kagoule was and where I wanted to take it, which made it much simpler in some ways, as I knew what I wanted to make, but harder in others, as I then had to actually make it. And you recorded with MJ, then got Tarek Masa to mix - two indie legends… Yeah! It was great working with those two. It’s pretty clear from those Hookworms records that they have a ton of cool gear and I’d heard MJ had a studio up in Leeds, so I popped him a message. Turned out he had a Selmer Amplifier and a gnarly old Telecaster, so I was sold. He was a dream to work with and the record wouldn’t be the same without him. We knew Tarek through touring with Spring King, and funnily enough I was also in their music video for ‘The Summer’. He had told me from touring that he loved the tunes and one day, when I was listening to the unmixed record, it kind of clicked. Surely the only person who could capture the sound of Kagoule was someone who had been forced to watch our show for days and days on end! He was well up for it and did a brilliant job of it. We’re super happy with this album and feel honoured that such great musicians wanted to be a part of it.






More deliciously subversive pop from the September cover star.



My Mind Makes Noises ........................

The quartet’s debut is jampacked with emotional pop gems.



Black Honey ........................

The Brighton bunch’s fulllength was more than worth the wait. 71

eee RICHARD REED PARRY Quiet River Of Dust Vol 1 (Anti-)



‘Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1’, the first in a two-part series, is cut from much more traditional singersongwriter cloth than 2014’s ‘Music for Heart and Breath’. That isn’t to say that it isn’t born of similarly lofty ideas; the album’s gestation began a decade ago, when Richard spent a number of weeks at a Japanese monastery. That explains the hushed tones that dominate. On ‘I Was in the World (Was the World in Me?)’, you can hear the whole fabric of the record delicately collapsing towards the end, falling into a serene discordance. ‘Quiet River of Dust’ won’t be for everyone, but you can’t help but marvel at its ambition. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘I Was in the World (Was the World in Me)?’



Million Dollars To Kill Me (Epitaph)


Joyce Manor’s music used to be defined at large by its length (or lack of). Their insatiable debut clocked in at 18 minutes. Its follow-up lasted only 13. It was last album ‘Cody’ that saw them reaching for more expansive territories, with mixed results. New record ‘Million Dollars To Kill Me’ clocks in at 23 minutes, but sees the band continue the path away from relentless, scrappy 90-second punk songs and into something crunchier, more anthemic and ‘90s-indebted. Barry Johnson’s vocals remain huge, and riffs are still catchy, but in trying to expand their palate, their identity might just be starting to slip. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Big Lie’







This fourth record, named after the Welsh word for bear on account of it representing “strength, wisdom and healing”, feels like a smart amalgam of the first two Joy Formidable albums. ‘The Big Roar’’s epic scope returns to stirring effect - see the skyward ‘All in All’ and the furious riffery of ‘Go Loving’ - as does the stylistic wanderlust of ‘Wolf’s Law’, with ‘AAARTH’ running the gamut from the psych-infused menace of opener ‘Y Pluen Eira’ to the funk-driven closer ‘Caught on a Breeze’. The Joy Formidable have made the statement they needed to - it’s an album of compositional daring and fierce experimentation. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Go Loving’

THE 1975

eee HIPPO CAMPUS On their 2017 debut, Hippo Campus were exuberant - full of bouncy indie melodies and gigantic pop hooks. In the 19 months since, the world feels like it’s changed exponentially. As a result, second album ‘Bambi’ is different too. There are still colourful moments in places, but for the most part this is a record of reflection and trying to figure things out. ‘Anxious’ deals with mental health issues, the minimalist title track details wanting to run from your problems, and the overblown ‘Passenger’, takes you through the struggle to grow in tandem with a partner. If ‘Bambi’ is largely an exercise in Hippo Campus trying to figure out their feelings on the their world and the world at large, then sometimes those attempts boil over into pure frustration. (Rhian Daly) LISTEN: ‘Bubbles’

A Brief Inquiry Into Online


After a mighty wait, June’s cover stars are finally coming good. Released 30th November.



It’s 25 compositions written for Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of the 1977 horror film. Fancy stuff, and out 26th October.


Simulation Theory Time to find out just how far down the metaphorical rabbit hole Matt ‘n pals have made it. Released 9th November.


You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough (Gofod) ..................................................................................

Estrons are not a band looking to avoid conflict. Finding a high intensity very early on, they rarely take their foot off the pedal. By the time they roar into ‘Make a Man’, singer Tali Kallström finds herself wrestling with her desire for a man and her utter distaste of everything he stands for. Nothing if not direct, Estrons wear their album title as a badge of honour and don’t hold back for a second. Lust, loneliness, dominance and desire tinged with more than a little bit of hate prove a consistent and compelling atmosphere for the record. ‘You Say I’m Too Much…’ boasts ten impeccable tracks that could all stride confidently out as a lead single. It shouldn’t be made to look quite this easy. (Matthew Davies Lombardi) LISTEN: ‘Make A Man’


DRAWING BOARD with ESTRONS Q1: What do the aliens of ‘Aliens’ look like?

Q2: What are your ideal traits to ‘Make A Man’?

Q3: What did the room you recorded the album in look like?

Q4: Draw the / a ‘Body’.

eee PAUL SMITH Diagrams (Billingham)


You get the impression that Paul Smith’s solo ventures are mostly an outlet for him try his hand at whatever’s interesting him during downtime between Maximo Park records. He turned in a soaring, eyes-to-the-sky debut in the form of 2010’s ‘Margins’, then came the back-to-basics pop collection ‘Contradictions’, and now, with ‘Diagrams’, he’s beginning to broaden his horizons again. Opener ‘The Public Eye’, which casts a withering thematic gaze over social media in the same way as St Vincent’s ‘Digital Witness’ did, sounds as if it’s carrying on in the same vein as ‘Contradictions’ - up until the last minute ushers in a discordant saxophone, at least. ‘Diagrams’ is littered with these kinds of experiments and some work better than others; the guitars on ‘Around and Around’ and ‘John’ pleasingly recall the breezy stylings of early Real Estate or Best Coast, while the quiet ambience of ‘Lake Burley Griffin’ and ‘The Beauty Corner’ matches the nostalgia of the lyrics. Elsewhere, ‘Syrian Plains’ pairs a clanging instrumental with a staccato vocal delivery to awkward effect, and ‘Silver Rabbit’’s low-key punk blast feels rushed. Paul’s commitment to trying new things is to be lauded, but it does mean ‘Diagrams’ lacks cohesion; it feels less an album and more a collection of ideas, some thrilling, others less so. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘The Public Eye’


Eoin and Rory hadn’t got out much during their time off…


Autonomy EP (Infectious)


Where their self-titled debut was a concise, quick-witted collection of destructive blues-guitar and dense drum beats, follow-up ‘Undertow’ was an expansive transition. ‘Outside’, the lead track from ‘Autonomy’ shows that Drenge’s growing pains have ceased: it’s one of their finest songs to date. ‘Fades to Black’ is Drenge in their purest form, a melodic lead guitar paving the way for Eoin Loveless’ caustic delivery. Though ‘Autonomy’ is a quick, four-track EP, it still gives the Loveless brothers room to play around with sporadic jams and guitar solos, something they have typically explored only briefly. Drenge are an incredibly dependable group, and, as their discography grows, each individual release complements itself, displaying a band that basks in their own self-certainty. (Timmy Michalik) LISTEN: ‘Fades to Black’

eee SONS OF RAPHAEL A Nation of Bloodsuckers EP




An EP full of spectacle and ambition, Sons of Raphael’s debut EP is a short, sharp introduction into the weird and wonderful world of Loral and Ronnel Raphael, two brothers from North London. But while the band’s origins are mysterious (their parents were Scientologists and they recorded the EP at Ronnel’s dorm room at boarding school), over the EPs four disparate tracks, we hear the beginnings of a band wanting to inject a fresh, guttural rock‘n’roll sound. From the sweeping, cinematic opener of title-track ‘A Nation Of Bloodsuckers’, the short and furious ‘Rio’, the lo-fi ‘Eating People’ and the reverb-heavy ‘Jesus’, it seems the duo don’t quite know exactly what they want yet, but they’re on their way to figuring it out. (Rachel Finn) LISTEN: ‘A Nation Of Bloodsuckers’

eeee PUBLIC PRACTICE Distance Is A Mirror EP ((Wharf Cat)


With some glorious bass lines, ‘Fate / Glory’ gets things underway, bouncy post-punk surrounding the call “fear turns to grief and the grief turns cold”. ‘Bad Girl(s)’ is a riot of frenetic drumming and delirious discordant guitars. ‘Foundations’ is an energetic funky workout with existential lyrics: Talking Heads covering ESG - or ESG covering Talking Heads. ‘Into the Ring’ closes things with the same jagged energy as the opener. ‘Distance is a Mirror’ is four tracks of angular drumming, spiky riffs, catchy choruses creating tightly-wound post-punk. Where Public Practice go from here who knows? But it’s bound to be exciting. (Nick Roseblade) LISTEN: ‘Foundations’



Anybody who caught Public Service Broadcasting’s set in Belfast at the BBC’s Biggest Weekend back in May would’ve heard them unveil a four-song suite of tracks about the construction, voyage and sinking of the Titanic. The songs follow the boat’s journey in chronological order, beginning with the ominously-monikered ‘The Unsinkable Ship’. The lightly anthemic title track follows, and hints at the triumphalism of the boat’s departure from Southampton; it’s a light, airy piece, driven by guitars that border on jangly. ‘White Star Liner’ is an interesting concept deftly executed, yet the subject matter seems so specific that, for anybody outside of the PSB hardcore, you can’t imagine it’ll take on a status above that of curio. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘The Deep’ 74 /subscribe 75




REEPERBAHN ....................................................

Various venues, Hamburg. Photos: Sharon López.


n the vein of Austin’s SXSW or Brighton’s The Great Escape, the St Pauli region of Hamburg is completely taken over for the Reeperbahn Festival. Up and down the street of the same name and beyond, bands play on the street, in pop-up outdoor venues, and in rooms of all shapes and sizes (including, for example, the official club shop of the famous St Pauli FC). Round every next corner, something unexpected is undoubtedly waiting. At Molotow on Thursday afternoon, Pip Blom pack out the downstairs club and proceed to light it up with honeyed harmonies and earworm guitar licks.



Across town at the picturesque Prinzenbar Westerman is weaving gorgeous tales. ‘Confirmation’ and ‘Easy Money’ are wonderfully calm cuts. South East London rapper Octavian is also destined for greatness, mixing intense rapping with autotuned cuts reminiscent of his recent champion Drake. Across Friday and Saturday we take over the Fritz-Bühne in the Festival Village. Playing on top of a bar, it makes for unique sets. Liza Anne brings gorgeous, twisting songwriting from Nashville, her band bringing crunch to her folky tales. Whenyoung later close the stage for the evening, their bright indie-pop as appealing as ever. King Princess begins the evening’s program, taking her live show to Europe for the first time. Songs from debut EP ‘Make My Bed’ are beefed up and taken away from the shiny pop realm and towards something more reminiscent

of a rock band. Muse then bring the night’s big surprise at Docks, the trio beginning their live comeback for new album ‘Simulation Theory’ with a gig essentially - by their standards, at least - in a shoebox. All of the glitz and pomp of their usual, production-rammed shows is scaled back, but seeing live debuts of new songs and the world-beating likes of ‘Plug In Baby’ and ‘Knights Of Cydonia’ in a venue this titchy is more than enough of a treat on its own. Grey skies welcome the final day at the Fritz-Bühne, where LIFE rile up an already attentive crowd with intense, socially-conscious tracks, the band’s relentless attack of squealing riffs and Mez Green’s impassioned bark raising the temperature in chilly Hamburg significantly. Also bringing huge soundscapes to the rooftop are Glasgow’s Fatherson, who draw the biggest crowd of the weekend with their impassioned, heartfelt Scottish rock. While the majority of the weekend at Reeperbahn is dedicated to those making steps towards stardom, it finishes with a band who have been there for a while, and proceed to remind us exactly why. A year on from returning to the stage after a live hiatus, Metronomy are impeccably tight tonight, rolling through tracks from 2016’s ‘Summer ‘08’ with no pause for breath. The four members bounce off each other wonderfully, with Joe and Anna swapping roles for ‘Everything Goes My Way’ and leaving Reeperbahn 2018 to head home with the widest of smiles. (Will Richards)



ELECTRIC FIELDS ....................................................

Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill. Photos: Neelam Khan Vela.


ocated in the scenic grounds of Drumlanrig Castle - a sprawling bit of history on the outskirts of Dumfries, Electric Fields is a smallbut-perfectly-formed pocket of activity nestled among the rolling hills. Our Friday afternoon kicks off with Dream Wife. Bounding onto an impressively packed-out Valley Stage, the band are a ball of endless energy, guitarist Alice Go and bassist Bella Podpadec spitting out chunky riffs while singer Rakel Mjöll flits between coy sweetness and screaming badassery in the blink of an eye. Sunflower Bean’s combination of lilting Fleetwood Mac-isms and ballsy riffola is even more powerful IRL. The trio constantly switch up dynamics, with singer Julia Cumming now a proper rock frontwoman par excellence.

Though headliner Noel Gallagher is undoubtedly tonight’s draw, you wonder if people are there for the name or the songs. The reaction to his High Flying Birds material falls fairly flat while it’s only ‘Half The World Away’ that feels like a moment. The real headline set instead goes to Young Fathers, who top the second stage with an hour that’s genuinely jaw-dropping in its relentless intensity. Saturday afternoon, and it’s time for our takeover of the Valley Stage, kicking off with a Scottish double whammy in the form of CRYSTAL and Lucia. The former channel a Wolf Alice-esque broadness, flitting between styles and sonic approach. Lucia, meanwhile, take tinges of Hole-channelling grunge and give them a melodic, poppier spruce. With second album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ released the day before, the excitement around IDLES right now couldn’t be more tangible. A lot of pressure? Almost certainly. But this lot show how it’s done with masterful aplomb. If the energy coming from the crowd during ‘Danny Nedelko’ – a song about celebrating immigrants – could be bottled, it’d be a highly worthwhile political tool. Funny, visceral and absolutely vital, IDLES’ rise continues to grow by the day. It’s left to Ghostpoet to close out the stage. And though he’s got a mighty act to follow, the Londoner’s darkly atmospheric, cerebral noise provides a hypnotic end to proceedings. Though still a relatively small fish on the UK festival circuit, Electric Fields’ on-point curation should see the Dumfries weekender cement its reputation soon enough. (Lisa Wright) 78



“And then I said, Meghan babe, I’ll totally take you shopping, don’t you worry…”

JANELLE MONÁE ....................................................

Roundhouse, London, Photos: Emma Swann.


he roaring begins the moment the lights dim and the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey booms through the speakers. Entering on a gurney draped like a morgue patient, while sterile visuals play in the background, Janelle Monáe appears at the top of a quasi-pyramidal white platform parked centre-stage at the climax of opener ‘Dirty Computer’. Holding court like a dashing androgynous queen, for most of the night she’s surrounded by a troupe of dancers, who epitomise #blackgirlmagic and look like they’re having the time of their lives. In everything she does there’s shades of Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Madonna, Michael Jackson and, of course, late mentor Prince. But in the magical alchemy of originality that only comes via multiple influences, it’s all Janelle - and it’s glorious. A stunning live version of ‘Electric Lady’, all heavy bass, brassy soul-funk swagger and laid-back grooves, is pure celebration.

It’s on ‘Django Jane’ though, greeted with a huge clamour of recognition, that she really scales the peak of her talents. Lounging confidently on a red and gold throne and donning a kufi cap as in the video, looking like the benevolent and utterly stylish dictator we’d all love to be ruled by, Janelle goes in hard, spitting viciously clever bars on family, culture, black women and women in general: ‘We gave you life, we gave you birth / We gave you God, we gave you earth / We fem the future, don’t make it worse / You want the world? Well, what’s it worth?’. It’s a merciless flow that takes no prisoners.

Understandably, the setlist focuses on ‘Dirty Computer’, but records past aren’t forgotten. A sprightly, bouncing rendition of ‘Tightrope’ sees her strut and glide across the stage with a gleeful grin. 2010’s ‘Cold War’ is the biggest tonal shift. With no dancers to flank her and dressed in a military greatcoat accented by gold epaulettes that lends an air of authority, she furiously emotes, her voice soaring over the frantic pop-rock melody as she sings straight from the heart about living in a world that pushes you to be at war with yourself - especially if that self is Othered. “Tonight we are celebrating self-love… embracing the things that make us unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable”, she states with conviction. Being black, female, working-class and, until recently, vague about her sexuality, Janelle Monáe sits at the intersection of several identities and there’s numerous shoutouts to those on the margins; LGBTQIA people, Black Lives Matter and women’s rights. The night is definitely a joyous Afrocentric celebration of melanin and the divine feminine, but it’s also an all-inclusive one: everyone’s invited. There’s no question: Janelle Monáe is a superstar. Already more than ‘just’ a triple threat of singer, actress and model, she’s is also a skilled dancer, producer and expert rapper. And just as importantly she’s a proud black woman, defiant feminist, queer icon and ultimately, an iconoclast. She puts on a huge dirty pop spectacle that is so much bigger than the stage she finds herself on; we’re witnessing the ascent of a stadium-ready rockstar who should be filling up arenas right now - and undoubtedly one day will. (Shefali Srivastava) 79


Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset. Photos: Sharon López.


oming at the end of a festival-packed summer, End of the Road has become an early September staple for many. And its ability to curate a diverse yet interwoven bill is shown within its first few hours.

Singer-songwriters of all different ilks dominate Friday. Lucy Dacus’ main stage set comes with bite and excellent backing from a tight-as-heck band; Jeff Tweedy brings intimate versions of Wilco classics to the Piano Stage; Big Thief are plagued by technical issues. Understated has largely been the order of the day, so when St Vincent explodes into life with a barrage of colour and filthy riffs, it’s a welcome punch. The show is seamless, tracks from last year’s ‘MASSEDUCTION’ ruling the roost. ‘Fast Slow Disco’ has been turned from album outlier to a throbbing festival anthem. It’s the set’s glorious highpoint. ‘New York’ then closes proceedings - “Dorset isn’t Dorset without you love…” she sings - and as the summer draws to a close, the ‘MASSEDUCTION’ era feels like St Vincent’s

greatest yet. Saturday proves just as eclectic: Boy Azooga play the Garden Stage, bringing a huge crowd but falling a little flat, their sense of musical identity still lost in the wind. Julien Baker, meanwhile, knows exactly what she is, and brings an emotional hammerblow to the early afternoon. No more superlatives need to be thrown at Shame’s festival season, but today’s set on the main stage does feel like a real moment. Bodies are thrown around at the front, matching the untameable energy of the five-piece. They even get an encore, the crowd beckoning them back for one last mosh to a frenzied ‘Donk’. Today is really all about Vampire Weekend, though. Playing their first UK show since Reading & Leeds 2014, the band have time to make up for tonight. They smash through a greatest hits set that’s a blistering reminder of just what a great band they are. No new songs are played - though Ezra Koenig confirms the new album is finished - but he promises they’ll be back with new material next year, and as they crash through a finale of ‘Walcott’, the prospect is tantalising. The final day sets itself up to be one that favours the softer side of the End Of The Road musical canon, but Iceage obviously didn’t get the memo. Today’s set is furious, with Elias Bender Rønnenfelt as aloof and brooding as ever, charging headfirst through cuts from ‘Beyondless’, and sharing a new song, a sprightly skip of a similar ilk to ‘The Lord’s Favorite’.


Always a festival to point the way forward, the weekend then closes with a secret set from Black Midi. Between reading out the football scores mid-set, the band’s fervent mixture of twiddly math-rock and pulverising noise is staggering, and when they skip off stage without a word after closer ‘bmbmbm’, End Of The Road - and a summer of festivals - closes with a distinct nod towards a bright future. (Will Richards) SHAME





SUUNS . THE LOVELY EGGS . gnod BOY AZOOGA . warmduscher . tvam KIRAN LEONARD . FONTAINES D.C. low island . gently tender alaskalaska . lice . CASSELS Husky loops . MADONnATRON . grand pax THE HOMESICK . SELF HELP . piney gir . haze mother . be good . drug store romeos catgod . john . life inc . lacuna common BROOKE BENTHAM . le feye . cherokii . PEANESS EASTER ISLAND STATUES . vienna ditto VIVE LA VOID (Sanae Yamada - Moon Duo) GHOSTS IN THE PHOTOGRAPHs . JUNIPER NIGHTS DJ SETS FROM STEVE DAVIS + KAVUS TORABI



quiz of sor ts, we’ll A big inter-band pub es one by one. fav r you be grilling

IT’S YOUR ROUND D SAM COX, LADY BIR Tunbridge Wells ag, llyw Sca n: atio Loc £4.20 Drink: Grolsch Cost:

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE Q1: How many stations are there in the London Underground network? Well there’s quite a lot and the Underground goes all the way to Essex, I believe. So I’m gonna go for 60. It’s 270. Woah, that’s mental. I’m making the band look stupid here. Q2: What is the name for a baby porcupine? Spike. Cute, but no. It’s called a porcupette. That is beautiful. Q3: What percentage of the average

human body is made of blood? Well I know there’s eight pints of blood, and I reckon I could drink eight pints in my heyday. So given that, I’m gonna go with 6%. It’s 7%. So close. You can have half. Oh bugger me nuts! Q4: What kind of food is krill? Is it a vegetable? It’s a shellfish! Q5: Which actor has the most ever Oscar nominations? (21 noms, FYI) I don’t think I know any actors’ names. It’s Meryl Streep. What? I’ve never even heard of her! Who the fuck is Merl Stroop?! Oh dear...

0.5/5 SPECIALIST SUBJECT: ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES Q1: In which city are most of the outside shots of Del Boy’s estate Nelson Mandela House filmed? I’m guessing it’s outside London, so I’m gonna say Manchester. It’s actually Bristol. That was Number Two on my list. Q2: What was the first ever episode of Only Fools & Horses called? Erm... Here’s a clue: it was also the name of another TV show. That’s not particularly helpful. I’m gonna go with My Family? It was actually Big Brother. Q3: What is Trigger’s real name? Well it’s not Dave. But he deserves to

be called Dave, so I’m gonna call him Dave. It’s Colin we’re afraid. However... Q4: What name does Trigger think Rodney is called? Oh, well he thinks he’s actually called Dave! That one is correct. Q5: In the episode ‘Time On Our Hands’ when Del Boy finally becomes a millionaire, how many millions does the watch sell for? I think it’s two? It was 6.2 million. Well that’s made my day, but I think the scriptwriter may have overdone it slightly.

1/5 82

SCORE 1.5/10 Verdict: Not the greatest score from Sam there, however we look forwards to the next film from leading actor Merl Stroop: landing straight to DVD.


Newhampton Arts Centre Wolverhampton | 10.10.18

SAM EVIAN The Cookie Leicester | 21.10.18

BC CAMPLIGHT The Bullingdon Oxford | 30.10.18

BLOXX The Jericho Tavern Oxford | 20.11.18

WESTERMAN The Jericho Tavern Oxford | 10.10.18

PUMA BLUE The Jericho Tavern Oxford | 22.10.18

SAINT RAYMOND Dryden Street Social Leicester | 01.11.18

HINDS The Bullingdon Oxford | 19.11.18

GE CAPE. WEAR GET CAPE. FLY. The Cookie Leicester | 11.10.18

KIRAN LEONARD The Cookie Leicester | 22.10.18

SHEAFS The Cookie Leicester | 02.11.18

EA EASY LIFE Dryden Street Social Leicester | 22.11.18

HOLLIE COOK O2 Academy Oxford | 12.10.18

YELLOW DAYS The Bullingdon OUT SOLD Oxford | 23.10.18

SEAMUS FOGARTY The Cookie Leicester | 06.11.18

SUNFLOWER BEAN Dryden Street Social Leicester | 23.11.18

CASSIA The Cookie Leicester | 13.10.18

LUCY DACUS The Cookie Leicester | 25.10.18

L.A. SALAMI The Cookie Leicester | 11.11.18

HINDS Dryden Street Social Leicester | 24.11.18

DERMOT KENNEDY O2 Academy OUT SOLD Oxford | 14.10.18

ROLLING BLACKOUTS C.F O2 Academy Oxford | 25.10.18

SAINT RAYMOND The Bullingdon Oxford | 11.11.18

EASY LIFE The Jericho Tavern Oxford | 24.11.18

OUR GIRL The Cookie Leicester | 15.10.18

HER’S The Cookie Leicester | 26.10.18


SUNFLOWER BEAN The Bullingdon Oxford | 25.11.18 Oxfo

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH The Bullingdon Oxford | 16.10.18

BAD SOUNDS The Cookie UT SOLD |O27.10.18 Leicester

COURTNEY BARNETT O2 Academy OUT SOLD Oxford | 15.11.18

MIDDLE KIDS The Cookie Leicester | 25.11.18

TOM GRENNAN O2 Academy OUT SOLD Oxford | 18.10.18

WE ARE SCIENTISTS The Bullingdon Oxford | 28.10.18 Oxfo

SHAME O2 Academy Leicester | 17.11.18

PIP BLOM The Cookie Leicester | 26.11.18

TOM GRENNAN O2 Academy UT SOLD |O19.10.18 Leicester

IDLES O2 Academy OUT SOLD Oxford | 29.10.18

PAUL DRAPER The Cookie Leicester | 17.11.18

SHAME O2 Academy Oxford | 27.11.18


Newhampton Arts Centre Wolverhampton | 12.11.18



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