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ISSUE TWENTYSIX DEC//JAN FREE

STEPHEN FRETWELL HAPPY MONDAYS PRINZHORN DANCE SCHOOL DEAD DISCO

LES SAVY FAV GALLOWS BATTLES HOT TIPS FOR 2008 ARE RECORD LABELS PASSÉ?


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ISSUE TWENTYSIX DEC/JAN

features

Next issue of High Voltage out 1st Feb

Introducing… The Travelling Band & Grammatics SIX Introducing… Gideon Conn & Vampire Weekend SEVEN Gallows & Battles EIGHT Prinzhorn Dance School NINE Dead Disco TEN Happy Mondays TWELVE Les Savy Fav THIRTEEN Stephen Fretwell FOURTEEN HV Tips for 2008 TWENTYTWO Are Record Labels Passé? TWENTYSIX

Regulars Manchester news FIVE Single reviews SIXTEEN Album reviews EIGHTEEN Live reviews TWENTY New Noise TWENTYTHREE Manchester Listings TWENTYFOUR For more reviews, interviews, comment and info on all High Voltage activities log on to www.highvoltage.org.uk See www.highvoltagesounds.co.uk for label info and new High Voltage releases

EDITOR - Richard Cheetham - rich@highvoltage.org.uk ASSISTANT EDITOR - Alistair Beech - alistair@highvoltage.org.uk FEATURES EDITOR - Adrian Barrowdale – adrian@highvoltage.org.uk REVIEWS EDITOR – Fran Donnelly – fran@highvoltage.org.uk NEW BAND EDITOR – Stephen Eddie – stephen@highvoltage.org.uk LISTINGS EDITOR – Mike Caulfield – listings@highvoltage.org.uk DESIGN - Andy Cake | Soap | www.soapforall.co.uk CONTRIBUTORS - Alex Barbanneau, Hannah Bayfield, Hannah Clark, Neil Condron, Jade French, Richard Fox, Ben Godfrey, Chris Horner, James Morton, Sophie Parkes, Liam Pennington, Andrew Porter, Simon Pursehouse, Gareth Roberts, Alexia Rogers-Wright, Jamila Scott, Benjamin Short, Simon Smallbone, Jack Titley, Megan Vaughan.

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Dec/Jan _News... Now the shopping hours are long and the weekends too few, it's important that we take a moment to remember the true meaning of Christmas – getting jovial at as many vaguely seasonal parties possible before another year comes around. Firstly, a couple of interesting picks, Jon Kennedy and Xfm present Lightspeed Champion / Semifinalists double-header to Night & Day on 14/12 (with brill newies Elle S'Appelle), and then rounding off a very successful year, Cherry Ghost get The Ritz sentimentally drunk for 16/12. If the office party promises not enough festive dance action for you, then fear not. Hot hot tip for next year, Friendly Fires roundup a series of great gigs this year at Retro Bar on the 07/12, whilst Get Shakes follow-up their electrifying punk-funk appearance at HV earlier this year with Contort Yourself on 15/12. The real gem however comes when M.I.A. makes an eagerly anticipated stop at the Academy on 18/12, touring amazing second album 'Kala'.

Event of the Month

NYE

2008 Everybody thinks New Year's is overrated, but

day with 2manyDjs and Simian Mobile Disco. A

you still end up hitting it hard all the way through

guaranteed party, Tramp! are havin it at Night &

to the remorseful morning anyway. Even out of

Day with some groove-laden celebration, so

the mainstream in Manchester though there's a

don't go writing off town just cos of rip-off taxis.

party to be had, so if you can't squeeze into 5th

Alternatively, you could get out the sausage rolls

Going into 2008, we get the eerie post-

Ave. or 42's, maybe consider Up The Racket's

an invite us round your gaff, but be warned – it's

chrimbo silence, but the end of the month

indie-encompassing do down in Retro Bar.

gonna get messy…

Ravers will buzz for Annie Mac and co. over at

Come on 2008!

sees a series of melodious sounds for cold, cold January. British Sea Power bring their

The Warehouse Project before it closes up next

brilliantly raucous show to the academy 27/01, before Explosions In The Sky take things a touch more majestically on 29/01. Re-invented with pop sounds, Nine Black Alps play the homecrowd on 30/01, and then for those of you who missed out at Night & Day, Canadian indie-romantics Stars return at the Academy on the 31st. Then don't forget – locally The Maple State ready their debut mini-album Say Scientist, whilst the long-awaited LP from The Whip is also imminent. Here we go again…

Words: Fran Donnelly

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introducing...

The Travelling Band has formed so organically that Sainsbury’s would add at least 25% to the price. The story of how the folk-rock collective became friends, collaborators and drinking partners could fill this fanzine and the next, as High Voltage learned when speaking to Jo from the band just two days after their EP, “If This Is A Gag, I’m In”, had its independent release.

owned by Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambel, respected industry bod and Steve Earle’s guitarist. “I didn’t know what to make of it,” remembers Jo. “Snaf had gone on about this guy he met in Brazil, but really it sounded like a bit of a pipe dream. When we actually got to the studio the vibe was incredible. Our album is so influenced by those first ten days over there.”

“I met Snaf in The Thirsty Scholar. He was playing one of Sam Deadbeat’s songs, and I said ‘I’m in a band with that guy.’ Snaf was the axis point for The Brothers With Different Mothers, The Vox and The Deadbeats all becoming friends. He said to me (puts on a Scouse accent) ‘I went on tour with him!’ and we got talking… I can’t remember the first time I met Adam… I guess when we organised a tour a few summers ago… James had just left The Vox to be replaced by Muggers…” Et cetera, et cetera.

This year, the band returned to New York for the album’s final recording sessions. Meanwhile, the Gag EP showcases their signature dreamy, summertime melodies, and is already proving to be a hugely popular introduction for new fans. Jo is proud of their accomplishments so far. “We all believe in each one of the songs; the sentiment is strong.” Words: Megan Vaughan www.myspace.com/thetravellingband

“If This is a Gag, I’m in” is out now. Immediately clear is that the success of The Travelling Band is not only down to their sweet harmonies and polished musicianship, but the obvious joy each member takes in making music with his very best friends. Jo agrees, “It really came out of friendship and partying, after getting into trouble on the beaches of Cornwall. We talked about making a super-group.” It was when their personable guitarist Snaf went to Brazil that things really starting moving. While playing guitar in his hostel, he was overheard by a man with contacts in the New York music scene, and the ‘supergroup’ were soon bundled onto a plane and into a studio

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We very foolishly fell into the trap of not 'getting’ Grammatics a few months ago, when a good friend of ours told us about the Leeds quartet and, after a fleeting visit to their myspace site, we left thinking "..." and never thought to return. Then, a few months later, the same friend asked - nay, pleaded - with us to go back there to listen to their new song (and current latest single) 'Shadow Committee' stating "it's simply beautiful". So we went, we listened, and we hated ourselves for not realising what we had discarded so nonchalantly the first time around. How can we, a premier voice for music in the North West (yes, why not compliment ourselves in our own magazine? Even the Guardian agrees...), not realise that we were listening to something so refreshingly leftfield? And then we witnessed them live and really realised what these lot are capable of. Easily one of – if not the – highlight of the In The City weekend, they glided through their set simply, but not meretriciously, demanding attention from the crowd. You could dissect their sound into many various sections and you'd struggle to find a fault in any of it; the flawless drumming acting as a catalyst to various in-song time signature changes; the bass lines that so carelessly alter from pop to disco to rock and back; the cello 'riffs' (if you will) that, if played on a guitar, would sound downright metal but are gorgeous melodic lines - and then there is ‘him’. Owen Brinley; the future poster boy for girls and sexually confused boys everywhere. He is the dictionary definition of

androgynous and the proud owner of a simply staggering voice which, when coupled with his exceptional guitar playing, brings the whole sound of the Grammatics together perfectly. We apologise if it appears we've used too many superlatives here but in all fairness you shouldn't even be reading this now, you should be on iTunes downloading 'Shadow Committee' and either agreeing, or ferociously disagreeing with our humble words. They said recently that they wanted to sound like a "controlled, and calculated mess" - well gents (and lady), you confused the hell out of us until we fell for you and we can tell you that HV's ex-girlfriend did exactly the same thing (until she ran off with a prettier, full colour, national magazine...) Words: Simon Pursehouse www.myspace.com/grammatics


Blending folk and hip-hop (“I could say there’s a bit of jazz in there but that could be confusing”) to lift your spirits as much as move your feet, Gideon Conn has spent 2007 attracting new fans at a rate quicker than a Hadouken! backing track. It’s about time really, since he’s been writing his cheery tunes for nearly ten years. “I started playing guitar when I was eight, but I had given up piano because my teacher didn’t want to teach me The Beatles. I went back to it when I was about twenty, and it was still waiting in the dining room, just where I’d left it. The actual songwriting process is largely a mystery to me though. Sometimes I sweat blood and tears and sometimes they just plop out. ‘Inside’ was an example of that – it just played itself - but there were other songs that took a good few hours of fierce mental activity.” His warm manner and candid personality match the gentle humour of the songs perfectly. ‘Londonderry’ is the touching tale of a romantic night out that ends with a twist, while ‘Electricity’, and its accompanying dance moves, was the talking point of Glastonbury this summer after Conn was invited to join the One Taste festival tour. “That was definitely one of my top acoustic shows”, he says. “People came up to me to say it was one of the highlights of Glastonbury, and when you get that response it’s just wonderful. I think people really

appreciate being close to the performer, when a lot of people might watch the Arctic Monkeys from four hundred yards away; watching a big screen and listening to a big speaker from their foldaway chairs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that”, he adds, with a smile. Having gigged alongside Sam ‘Get Cape’ Duckworth several times this year, Conn is over the moon to have his debut single available on Duckworth’s Mannequin Republic label. ‘I Want You Around (For This Melody)’ is the sound of Beck playing with the Beastie Boys in a Chicago speakeasy, but the balance within his working relationship with Duckworth is also important to Gideon. “I’m aware I have pop qualities, which is great, but weaving through the industry on an everyday basis is something I look to avoid. The way he works is quite marvellous to watch. Yes, he’s a nice man, Sam...” Words: Megan Vaughan www.myspace.com/gideonconn I Want You Around (For This Melody) is available now on Mannequin Republic Records.

After having caused more than just a stir in the A&R world, Vampire Weekend are finally set to release a fabulous debut album. Taking their name from an unfinished film project started by frontman Ezra Koenig, the band aim to end their musical project with by whilst taking the world by storm with what they describe as “classic pops.”

vibe. People who have only heard our EP have only heard a certain side of our music. This will present a more complete picture of our band,” Ezra reveals. “There are a lot of sounds and textures on the album that you don't hear when we play live. We treat the recordings and the live shows as separate but complimentary.”

The band formed in the boys’ senior year at university and they were friends long before they started the band, something obvious from their onstage (and even offstage) chemistry. Lyrics inspired from “all over the place” are blended together with afrobeat-influenced melodies and guitar riffs with careful precision to create the sound of Vampire Weekend. It’s fresh and upbeat, funky and one hundred percent addictive.

It’s not all hard work and no play for the band. Just like their music, the boys are upbeat and clearly up for a good time. They do ‘rockstar’ weekends as much as they do actual vampire weekends. A good time consists of “a big, sweaty show on Friday night followed by four Eggs Benedict (one each) at PJ Clarke's on Saturday morning. Maybe get some good ideas for songs while riding a coffee high. Sunday – read the paper and sleep.”

In the next six months, we can expect an album in January, lots of touring in Europe and the US, more singles, videos, new songs and plenty more of “all the good stuff,” as Ezra puts it. However, they’ve been thinking far beyond the coming months as we found out when the charismatic front-man divulged on the band’s biggest ambitions overall. “Our drummer's dream is to play at the 2010 World Cup. I don't know if they have many concerts at the World Cup though.”

Now getting recognition from mainstream daytime radio and major music magazines, the way Vampire Weekend are currently wooing everyone in sight with their calypso infused brand of guitar pop, playing the 2010 World Cup doesn’t sound like so much of a stretch. Words: Jamila Scott www.myspace.com/vampireweekend

To say that their forthcoming album is highly anticipated would be the biggest understatement of the year. “It's a pretty varied set of songs, but they still have a pretty cohesive

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Gallows Roger Daltrey once said that Keith Moon’s drumming was “violence put to rhythm”. The same could be said for every breath of Gallows – no band has ripped such a gash through the music scene, leaving audiences for dead, since who knows when. From the re-release of ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ to bloody carnage and Lethal Bizzle collaborations on tour, 2007 has been their year, but none of it compares to their show at Reading Festival this summer. “Reading and Leeds was literally a breath of fresh air,” recalls guitarist Laurent Barnard. “After playing outdoor shows all summer in blazing heat, the whole UK festival experience was much easier for

us. To this day I feel our Reading performance was probably the best we've ever played.” How did it compare to the Warped Tour in America? “In the last few years it was criticised for playing host to the same skatepunk bands that always appeared, so a lot of fresh acts from overseas made an appearance. One thing I noticed was a huge amount of pop-punk bands that could've easily been mistaken for boy bands.” The only things to have put a dampener on what was otherwise a triumphant year for British hardcore were rumours in the NME that front-man Frank Carter wasn’t

fully committed to the band (“NME are a lot like a tabloid newspaper don't believe everything you read in the press”), and backwardlooking cries of “sell out” for signing to Warner Bros in the US. “We've had a HUGE backlash. All over the internet people who have once praised our music are now cursing our existence. In hardcore it’s all about supporting the scene, but if a band outgrows the scene then you have to shoot them down,” says Laurent. “The best explanation for this is if you just accept that people are idiots.” Not that any Judas-style allegations will put a halt to Gallows’ thrilling advance. Frank has overcome the head wounds

gained in Stoke to continue touring till the end of the year and they’ve released a new single, ‘Staring At The Rude Bois’, with Lethal Bizzle. They just need to stop touring for long enough to lay down new material. “I'm desperate to get creative again with the band,” says Laurent. “We have such a hectic touring schedule it’s impossible to find the time to practice. But the new material will definitely be something worth the wait.” Words: Stephen Eddie www.gallows.co.uk Orchestra Of Wolves is out now on Black Envelope

Battles “Our live shows are crucial to our success” says Battles guitarist Dave Konopka, having just landed in the UK from New York for a week of fresh dates. We ask him how the band has handled the attention they’ve received in 2007, with unanimous praise for debut album Mirrored and their incendiary live shows. “We’re pleasantly surprised I suppose. When you record something, you never know what people will make of it. But on the day we handed Mirrored over to our label (super-dance imprint Warp) we were very happy with what we’d done.” While the album appears on many end of year best of lists, Battles’ live shows have also proved some of the most electrifying around. “We play so

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much, its good to present the album as a live package too. The UK has always been a home away from home for us, there seems to be a thirst for entertainment over here – people work really hard then go out and party hard. That suits us.” Battles mix rock, hardcore (drummer John Stanier played in Helmet, bassist Ian Williams in Don Caballero) and dance. They record with new technology yet structurally their songs hark back to 70s avantgarde (keyboard/guitarist/vocalist Tyondai Braxton is the son of avantgarde jazz musician Anthony Braxton). We ask Dave how a typical Battles song begins… “We don’t use computers when writing songs, there’s different ways a Battles song

begins. We’re not a band with a formula, we aren’t Green Day – we reserve the right to experiment, to grow organically.” 2008 will see more recording in Australia - Dave admits that the band need to “come up for air – catch up on a few bills”, while other band members have outside projects on the go - Stanier plans to get back out on the road with Tomahawk, while Tyondai has a solo deal with Warp. On the subject of recording, Dave admits “there’s no rush or timescale we have to stick to – we put quality before quantity.” Highlights from their incredible year include Fuji Rock in front of 12,000 people. “It was amazing. Our first

experience of playing to a crowd of that size, and we absolutely destroyed it.” Dave picks out Liars and Black Dice as current inspirations – “both challenging musical boundaries” before tipping Australian tour mates My Disco for success in 2008 – “I reckon they have what it takes to break out of Australia and make it big everywhere.” They’d do well to follow the Battles blueprint for success. More of the same beckons in 2008… Words: Alistair Beech www.myspace.com/battlestheband Mirrored is out now on Warp


PRINZHORN_ DANCE_ SCHOOL "We don’t go crawling round for column inches really…" Why not? "Why do you think why not?" High Voltage is lost for words. Prinzhorn Dance School don't do this sort of thing very often. Affable but visibly agitated by the task of promoting their music, they'd probably rather be soundchecking, sleeping or conceptualising more of their intense post-punk brilliance. But they're here now, and so they level with us. "It's a fucking dark place to be in, this band sometimes," tells Tobin Prinz in his softly discomforting southern tone. He grins frequently after every considered statement, but when he's being serious his stare carries startling gravity. Meanwhile bassist Suzi Horn is affectionate and familiar but doesn’t once reveal a trace of insecurity. "It's about our lives. I'm almost in tears writing these songs because it is my life, my diary." She motions at the Dictaphone. "This bit isn’t. It's just gassing." So here are the rare, bare bones of Prinzhorn Dance School. After all, who are we to gloss over their words so sparingly selected? “We've gotta look at British music right now and see there's a fucking problem” says Tobin before Suzi interjects. “People won't embrace stuff that's different. At gigs, we see friendships break up because one person likes us and another one doesn’t.” Tobin continues, “People here need assurance that it's OK to like something. What we've made is a stark, honest record that's like going for a pint – it's got none of the bullshit.” They tell no lies. Nothing is complicated about the Brighton band. Suzi begins pouring out tea and coffee, asking HV if we take milk and sugar. Enthusing about returning to Manchester, the two are pleased to be back on the road with their friends in LCD Soundsystem and we can't help but wonder what it's been like working with our favourite New York production powerhouse, DFA records. Was it an issue having somebody else work on your record? “To begin with it was a big concern” says Tobin, “It was another input. But with someone like James Murphy, we discussed the nature of his role before hand – to be just an engineer – and he respected that. We don’t

have any computers.” Do you think you could ever appeal to wider public consciousness? “We always thought we would be a popular band” reflects Suzi, “It's the next album that's going to be the difficult record. We're one hundred percent happy with this one, and we think there's reason to make another.” Their reasoning has been proven after a year of touring their eponymous thirty-six minute, sixteentrack debut album. Self managed, Suzi and Tobin book every hotel and make every arrangement and so when PDS do get round to a second album, you can guarantee it'll be exactly what the band want, the two having spent months doctoring every sentence on their record deal contract to their specifications. Compromise is not a part of this specification – complete freedom for the diligent exploration of a space's dynamic and the sounds that can enter that space.

We've gotta look at British music right now and see there's a fucking problem As Tobin explains, they want everybody to appreciate that;

like letting people see how it works. It's the middle ground when things aren’t so good, when people have tried to mend something and don’t quite have the answer." Despite their vague media personae, Prinzhorn Dance School do seem to have the answer. The down-to-earth pair approach our meeting tersely but pragmatically, not wasting your time if you don’t waste theirs. Over an hour though, they certainly don’t provide many details. Their singer almost laughs. "But you don't need any." Words: Fran Donnelly www.prinzhorn-dance-school.com Prinzhorn Dance School and new single “You are the Space Invader” is out now on DFA Records.

"If you take the back off a watch you can see it all working inside and you celebrate the mechanics of that. I

"Three people are playing it live," starts Tobin. "If you take one part away, it wouldn’t work. Silence was the starting point, and then we just added. Using a limited amount of sounds and arranging them – that really excites me. Having those building blocks, but not being allowed any more and testing their limitations.” With these vibrant experiments appealing to the industrious brutality of The Fall and Gang of Four, every sound and painstakingly chosen lyric serves a precise sonic purpose. If there is one word to sum up Prinzhorn Dance School, it is function. There is no excess and, thanks to the band's rational recycling policy, no wastage. Every component of their minimal efficiency stands out.

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DEAD_ DISCO

were all just on the same level.”

don’t do any Christina Aguilera ballads and think nothing of putting Dolly Parton in a gimp mask... Formed in 2005, they emerged last year with ‘The Treatment’, a limited-edition single produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, and a direct electro-pop agenda. Latest single, ‘You’re Out’, is a candid declaration of ascendancy, with a riotous chorus of “There’s a good girl, now it’s our turn.” Touted in the press as “Girls Aloud with guitars”, High Voltage has to admit it was preparing for an imminent feminist revolution when it met the Dead Disco girls in Piccadilly Gardens, but are they genuinely influenced by the iconic women of rock, or have the “new Gwen Stefani/Blondie/Bangles” write-ups started to really piss them off? “It’s all stuff that we listen to”, concedes Lucy, although Marie is quick to expose the lazy evaluations that have followed Dead Disco since their first gigs: “We get compared to them just because they’re girls, but we definitely share their attitude.” Of course, it’s not just a balls-tothe-wall manifesto that has

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propelled the trio this far. With Lucy and Marie meeting at school and vocalist Victoria completing the line-up following an advert on “a seedy musician’s exchange” in Leeds, Dead Disco are no opportunist talent contest types. Bitter memories of “dragging our amps round in a people carrier” and being “camped out in a grotty basement” prove that recognition has been hard-won, so did they find it difficult to be heard amongst a Leeds scene that spawned Kaiser Chiefs and The Pigeon Detectives? Lucy says, “It was all little leather jackets and indie and it still is. The Libertines were a big deal, and it’s become a bit like that again, with The Pigeon Detectives. It’s like a recurring nightmare! Victoria had had loads of problems finding a band.” Victoria: “Oh God... Every band I answered an advert for just said ‘Oh, you’re a girl? How are we supposed to sound like The Libertines with a girl singer?’ When I met these guys we

One of the very early gigs was at Manchester’s own In The City festival, which quickly led to first single, ‘The Treatment’. Have the girls felt like things have moved quickly for them, or do they seem to be travelling the route to success in slow motion? Marie has a theory: “Well, we want the album to be just perfect, which takes time. Before, the little goals came quicker and we could tick things off - get the single done, get the single released etc. Now with the album, we’re not going to see results for longer.” “We want to give every song a little bit of flavour”, adds Lucy, “but not like Christina Aguilera and her ballads!” High Voltage wonders if this comment emerges from bitter experience. Have Dead Disco attempted anything that hasn’t worked? Lucy reminisces: “We tried to go for a hip-hop beat on one of our songs and it was...” Victoria interrupts, “...a nightmare!” Lucy explains, “We thought it could be a bit Missy Elliot but then we realised we’re three, quite square white girls, so it was about as ghetto as my Gran.” Victoria: “In LA, we were in a club with these rappers, and one of them told me he produced Nelly, so I said ‘Nelly Furtado! I love her!’” Lucy grimaces, “and then she said, ‘Oh, the one with the plaster on his face!’” Although recording the

forthcoming album may have taken the girls to glitzy California, more recent touring commitments have seen them get back in a van and onto stages across the UK. Does being on the road get boring for Dead Disco, and perhaps more importantly, do they enjoy any hedonistic groupie sex? “We only get attention from horny teenagers,” laments Victoria. “Whereas guys want to be in a band to get girls, when girls are in a band there’s a different motivation, and we’re all really focused.” Lucy agrees, “We don’t have the luxury of being lazy at one gig. We give it everything just in case there’s some toady reviewer somewhere who wants to compare us to something terrible.” So, the trio’s work ethic is impressive, and having secured a distribution deal with Warner, their future is looking as bright as a new-raver in a power cut. As Dead Disco’s punky electro-pop travels the world, what can the girls do to chill out? Victoria: “At the minute we’ve got ‘Guess the Celebrity Gimp’ on our MySpace, with Dolly Parton in a gimp mask, but the label don’t really get our sense of humour…they tried to run our MySpace.” Lucy: “We just changed the password!” Victoria: “And now Barbara Streisand’s in a hockey mask again!” Words: Megan Vaughan www.myspace.com/deaddiscohq


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HAPPY_ MONDAYS We at High Voltage deal with the freshest, most exciting sounds knocking around, so you might wonder why we're talking to the gobs of Manchester's most notorious hellraisers. No, not The Courteeners, although they and any number of the indie mouths about today wouldn’t have come far were it not for these boys. The city's musical history has been thrown into an unfortunate spotlight at times this year, so now's as good a time as any to appreciate our influential past. And besides, I saw you Bez-ing it to 'Step On' at 42's last weekend, so don’t tell me you're not interested in the Happy Mondays... Lurking in Stockport, we found Gaz Whelan, the man who's driven the Happy Mondays' defining grooves from the beginning. He begins by setting some records straight; "It's always been bad luck with us," he starts. "There's this impression that in the 80s an 90s we'd go on tour causing chaos but that really wasn’t the case – we'd never do anything as cheesy as throwing a TV out of a window. We were in Denver once, booked into the hotel when me an’ Shaun go to the bar across the road. Next thing, there's smoke comin’ out of the hotel an’ Bez is walking out with the fireman. He'd fuckin’ fallen asleep but next day the papers are sayin' we'd trashed the place. We're happy being quiet and doing the show but trouble finds us. Something always happens." "I've looked at the books that have been written and some are outrageously wrong. Completely wrong. I just don’t say anything. Maybe I should." Back in July they played at The Ritz for the first time since "1989 or something", but now everything surrounding band life sounds decidedly less, well, mad. "Bez is a one man fuckin’ band an’ just turns

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I've looked at the books that have been written and some are outrageously wrong up ten minutes before the gig," he laughs. "But for the rest of us it's been really easy. Me an’ Shaun don’t do the parties that much anymore, we're happy to have a drink an’ get to bed… you know them two old fuckers in the Muppets that always moan? That's us. Moaning about young-uns goin' getting drunk." With their young-un support acts, The Sunshine Underground and The Twang taking lead from the Mondays' original funk swagger, Gaz must surely feel accountable for these beats? "Fuckin’ hell I don’t know. Not much really. They're the genuine article though."

Well, what about advice for the new generation of decadents? After all, you're responsible role-models now… "I wouldn’t go that far," he chokes, "I'm the last person to give advice to anyone! Just get on with the fuckin’ music, that's all we did. Do your own thing as well. We've always listened to loads of different stuff. I mean, we listened to New Order an’ other bands but never copied anything off ‘em. There's another lie actually, that we got our name from Blue Monday." Not true? "Is it fuck - we had the name years before." Despite a number of one-off shows in past years, 2007 has been the Happy Mondays comeback proper. Their fifth album Uncle Dysfunktional is the disorientating, uncompromising hangover from years of the band's absence. The warped humour, Whelan's dancefloor rhythm section and Ryder's twisted poetics are still there, but the return of the Salford lads was hardly typical. "Well if you don’t move on then what's the

point? You might as well be fuckin’ Gerry and the Pacemakers. John Robb said to me the other night it's the best album we've done, but it takes time to sink in. People are saying it's really seedy an’ dark, and we take that as a compliment. We always thought we were like that. We're starting to work on the new album which is gonna be more straight-up punk-funk, back to what we used to do." More commercial? "Yeah, not consciously, but it'll end up that way. Couldn’t give a fuck though, not bothered really." Bothered or not, the Happy Mondays will always have their undisputed place in their hometown – something that'll be religiously attested to at Manchester Central (formerly the G-MEX) on December 14th. Gaz promises an all-night party encompassing the band's career. But with new albums, new attitudes and no pressure, Madchester seems a long way away. Is this a new era for Happy Mondays? "It might all fuck up by Christmas, but who knows? I still love it, enjoying it better than ever." The drummer pauses to think, "I've got fuck all else to do at the moment anyway…" Words: Fran Donnelly www.happymondaysonline.com Happy Mondays play Manchester Central on 14th December


Les_ Savy_ Fav It seems fitting that terminal nearlymen and ‘band’s band’, Les Savy Fav should hit Manchester the very same night as their moresuccessful friends, LCD Soundsystem. LSF singer and likeable eccentric, Tim Harrington jokes, “I feel bad they’re on at the same time as us. We’re gonna send some people over as it’s gonna be hard for them, with us playing across the way.” Tim is busily working away on a customised poster for tonight’s show throughout the interview. Although being knee-deep in cutout letters (spelling out the words “Man Chest Hair”), he manages to be erudite and charming, while drummer Harrison Haynes is able to pick up the slack when Harrington’s concentration starts to wander. Much minutiae is covered (TV comedy, the vertiginous effects of the dressing room wall covering)

before the talk moves into more serious territory. “There was a period (a couple of years ago) when I thought we weren’t allowed to be a band”, Tim muses, before Harrison interjects, “I think we’re more broken up now than we were then”. “That’s true”, laughs Tim, “We’re like a ghost band”. Pushed on how he thinks the landscape has changed over the years, Tim reflects, “Since we started as a band… it’s gelled up to be a kind of functioning industry. It’s now like, ‘My job is I’m in a band’ and that never occurred to us. We always had other jobs outside the band”. Harrison then notes that “Bands we had a camaraderie with now seem to have become… legitimised”. Tim goes on to talk about the overriding influence of the internet on today’s music; “There’s more

connoisseurship. More people have access to more music, which is cool, but there’s not as much of that kind of misunderstanding when you live in a town where there’s no good record shops and there’s no good music”.

attention. That’s awesome for them.

Tim seems perturbed at the changes in how people are turned on to music today, having seen it evolve from “checking out the thank-you list in the liner notes and just buying them all, hoping that some of them would be good”, to “downloading a song off MySpace and deciding whether you like them or not”. He qualifies by saying “It’s great… for some kinds of musicians that years ago would have been in a punk, underground type of world, whereas now they can actually think of making a living out of it”.

“In the past, every city had, like, 50 shitty bands who’d play for each other and no-one got to hear of them outside of that. But it was like Darwinism, slowly but surely they’d be allowed to evolve into something that was really solid. Now it’s like, if you don’t get a hole-in-one, then you’re screwed”.

There’s a refreshingly old-school sentiment at the heart of Les Savy Fav that could be misconceived as reverse-snobbery were it not for Harrington’s super-enthused, thoughtful manner. When ruminating on the instant fame some bands have thrust upon them these days, he comes to the conclusion that bands “need time to suck”, before breaking the whole of the music industry’s band nursery down into three types of band: “There’s band that comes out of nowhere that people go crazy for, but it turns out that all they have is three songs and they suck. Then there’s band that comes out of nowhere and it turns out that they actually are a really great band, they just didn’t have to fuck around for five years before they got any

“Then there’s the band that suck at first and would’ve gotten awesome, but never get the chance because everyone saw their ugly first babysteps and will have then forgotten about them and then you’re fucked.

Les Savy Fav never had that holein-one but they’re making up for it now with arguably the strongest album of their career. The epithet on the band’s website reads “Missing out on cashing in for over a decade”, but if it doesn’t happen for them now, something tells me the band won’t be bothered too much, as Tim notes, “All the bands I loved failed. There’s something about being as good a band as you can be but not having to be professional. That’s why (we called the album) Let’s Stay Friends. The friendly thing is really critical to us. We can’t really picture the band any other way”. Words: James Morton www.myspace.com/lessavyfav Lets Stay Friends is out now on Witchita

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Somewhere amidst the celebrations during In The City weekend, with festival and fringe alike packing out venues all over town in an extravaganza of bands galore, the Stephen Fretwell tour has come rolling into town... With further weight added to the bill by a band assembled largely from ‘borrowed’ members of Elbow, Fretwell is approaching the end of a series of dates across the UK, arranged in order to promote new album Man On The Roof. Written and recorded during his recent escape to New York, it reveals a shift in approach along with a desire to get back to the basics that formed the basis of the hype that surrounds him. HV caught up with Manchester’s mercurial adopted son prior to his Saturday homecoming gig. Clearly shattered, he found time to contemplate the pressures of touring and also offered his prediction as to the levels of commercial success the long-awaited follow-up to debut album Magpie will achieve. Postsoundcheck found him undoubtedly jaded, but strangely relaxed... “I got home last night, about 2 in the morning, went home, had a bit of kip. But I feel worse” he confesses. “It’s easier I think to keep going…in some ways, going home, and dealing with reality messes you up.” How did New York end up being the place where Man On The Roof was recorded and produced? We had theories about Magpie’s penultimate track (it’s called “New York”, you see) being a clear pointer, but Stephen offers up a different account. “I did a tour a couple of years ago and that ended up in Toronto. I went down to New York originally - just for a couple of weeks, as a break really but then I liked it and stayed. I dunno, I really liked it there…and then I met Eli Janner from Girls Against Boys who I made the album with.” Stephen has described the experience of being in New York as a fresh start socially. Did it also mean a reworking of the creative process? “In a way, yeah. I mean I’d just kind of stopped writing” he reflects. “I was too busy playing live gigs, to be writing or anything - it was all about promoting the album. It (being in New York) helped me out with forgetting about too much promotion and the business of it and everything, and just getting back to my roots, where I was a good songwriter I think, and I’d forgotten that, I thought I was just some kind of performing machine”.

“I think the songs are better, better constructed,” he muses. “It’s more stylised maybe….I think it’s a better record, but if I’m honest I don’t think it’s got a big hit single like ‘Emily’, so I don’t think it’ll sell as much – if I’m honest”. Explaining the origins of its title, he grins and has a scratch of the head; “It’s a mate of mine, he suggested the idea of a ‘Man On The Roof’, the idea being that in cowboy films, he’s the last to get shot, or the one that does the shooting. I thought that was pretty cool and I couldn’t think of a title to save my life. I had ‘Made Up Stories’ for a while. I never title songs until just at the last minute; until I’m forced to. I’d be happy calling it album 2 or album 3 or something like that” he laughs. How is the tour progressing? We didn’t know that you’d joined Elbow... “It’s been an amazing tour, really good,” he laughs. “Pete (Turner), and (Richard) Jupp out of Elbow have been playing, and that’s - I mean, I could only get them for this tour because Elbow are having a bit of down time for this one month, and them two said ‘Oh, we’ll come out and play’. I talked them into it when they were pissed one night. It’s been ace, just the musicianship. Just that level of musicians who are up to the game, y’know”. So you’re not going to become a ‘performing machine’ again? “No, I don’t think so,” he states, “after this tour, just get back working again”. The Academy 2 isn’t full, but there’s definitely a crowd. By showtime, there’s a considerable air of expectancy coming from an audience eager to hear the new material on show.

offerings. The downbeat vaudeville barrel-organ sound of ‘Coney’ is met with appreciative applause, as is ‘San Francisco Blues’, with Fretwell breaking off from wielding his red semi-acoustic guitar to make downward stabbing gestures with an imaginary dagger at the appropriate moments. Acoustic out, ‘William Shatner’s Dog’ and ‘Scar’ are rattled out atmospherically to reveal the shifting, but still solid songwriting showcased on the new record. The arpeggio-rich sound of ‘Darlin’ Don’t’ holds the venue in a hush, as jaws drop in wonder at the familiar sound of what he does best. Though Fretwell has gone on record as saying he’s sick of the ‘Magpie’ track-list, largely due to the year spent promoting the album with a never-ending stream of live shows, ‘Emily’, ‘Run’ and ‘Bad Bad You, Bad, Bad Me’ are greeted with whoops of delight. All three prompt a sing-along from the front few rows as his guitar shimmers with reverb. Though Fretwell admittedly finds ‘homecoming’ gigs in Manchester difficult, this one is proof positive that there’s much more to come from this reflective and consistently strong songwriter. Filled with absorbing and reflective songs which grow with every listen, ‘Man On The Roof’ is both intriguing and impressive. If audience reaction is anything to go by, the new album seems destined to emulate the slow-burning success of its predecessor. Words: Michael Roberts www.stephenfretwell.com Man on the Roof is out now on Polydor

With the Elbow lads on guitar and bass respectively, it is indeed an allstar cast on stage and this smoothes things along nicely. The easy, understated melodies of the Man On The Roof songs are indeed quality

It’s easier I think to keep going…in some ways, going home, and dealing with reality messes you up.

It took time to settle back into the songwriting process? “Yeah, it took a while” he offers candidly, “but it was great, once I got back to regular life”. How does Man On The Roof compare to Magpie?

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singles Single of the month Foals – Balloons (Transgressive) 'Balloons' is the first full commercial single from five piece Foals. And what a single it is. Packed with aggressive vocals, catchy math-rock esque guitars and thundering drums. This track doesn't just stick in your head; it infiltrates, sets up home and has kids.

next going-to-be-big band for months on end can stop right now; they have officially landed.

Leading you in, 'Balloons' builds up to the bizarrely apt tooting of saxophones and then unleashes the magic. There's no shortage of drama here, nor

In true anthem style, I have no doubts as to whether people will be shouting this on sticky indie dance floors up and down the country, whether you can actually fly balloons on a fuel called love is another matter entirely. The people who have been predicting Foals as the

House Of Brothers – Deadman (Big Scary Monsters)

like Elliot Smith or Fionn Regan (Jackson should follow him onto the Mercury Prize shortlist at this rate), House Of Brothers just do it better.

Sometimes you just can't explain why a record is so good, it just is. On the face of it, House Of Brothers (aka Andrew Jackson, formerly of cult screamy noise rockers The Murder Of Rosa Luxemburg) doesn't appear to be doing anything different from any other male singer-songwriter. But

Not since Smith or 'Hour Of The Bewilderbeast'-era Damon Gough has their been an artist so likely to capture the weary hearts and comfort the blurry heads of students in bedsits everywhere, not to mention the hopeless romantic or sucker for

Cazals - To Cut A Long Story Short (Kitsune)

Here's a very snappy, hi-hat New Wave number. Well, what did you expect from a Spandau Ballet cover? With plenty like this, Cazals are a bit like The Rakes really with all that lurky bass grumbling and linear, toe tapping guitar work. Singer Phil has yet to show any booksmart Alan Donahue factor, but for the time being his distinctive hoarseness pushes this one into the thumbs up.

Frenchy regulars like Vicarious Bliss have distorted the pieces into a choppy, guitar-sample crunching, Franz Ferdinand remix aping dancefloor version for the DJs. Does the job, but now I wonder how far Cazals are from giving the producers a real firecracker to light.

Young Galaxy - Outside The City (Arts & Crafts)

of Canadian bands landing on our shores and in our hearts.

Another day, another band from Montreal. But, hey, if they're as good as Young Galaxy, keep 'em coming. When they make the best dream rock since Asobi Seksu (OK, that was only in August, but the New Yorkers set the bar pretty high), not even the Daily Express would mind about the continuing wave

Needless to say, 'Outside The City' is pure – if slightly hazy – gold; as you'd expect from ex-Stars man Stephen Ramsay. The shimmer of rumbling bass and hallucinatory guitars weave with singer Catherine McCandless' vocals into something far more playful and upbeat than we've come to expect from the Montreal scene. Instead of Arcade

Fire style foreboding we get something of a pastoral fantasy just in time for the end of year best of lists.

The-ones-on-Kitsune-who-don’t-usesynthesisers have more in the way of cool cred than they do club acclaim, but as the guitar-wielding black sheep of the Gallic label's herd, you've got to wonder what it is exactly that attracted Kitsune to Cazals.

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is there a lack of whatever it is that makes Foals sound as if they've had the recipe for 'complete pop' for years on end.

Jamila Scott

quality songwriting. 'Deadman' really is that promising. Cult status beckons this one.

Stephen Eddie

Fran Donnelly

Stephen Eddie


Lead Balloons Somethin' You Say (Friends of Mine) Where Nine Black Alps and The Courteeners have succeeded in achieving notoriety and relative success beyond the barrier of the M60, Lead Balloons have plugged away in their Manchester homeland since 2005 in pursuit of greater things.

Orphan Boy – Alderley Edge (Concrete Recordings) Alderley Edge. Some might say this was an odd choice of place to homage. But not Cleethorpes-born, Manchesteradpoted trio Orphan Boy. For them the home of footballer’s wives, fancy boutiques and the worst traffic jams in North Cheshire was the perfect topic for a punk-indie blaster.

Bearsuit - Foxy Boxer (Fantastic Plastic) It takes quite some skill to sound effortless yet maintain a perfectly formed sound, but on the 2nd single from 3rd album OH:IO, Bearsuit manage it with ease. The male vocals have a lazy nonchalance about them, seductive in their own way, contrasted with the female vocal of "Don't underestimate the

Lalula – Supa Bajo (Elixir Records) Just when you think you’ve heard everything the new-dance movement has to throw at us, Lalula slips in with a fist-pumping rave anthem. Banging breaks and percussion, slick bass and ice-clear production combine for an uplifting shot of electro. It’s the kind of tune

Unfortunately, this double A-side is unlikely to offer the platform for them to spring from, as jaunty and enjoyable as it may be. 'Somethin' You Say' lacks the energy or urgency that could make it a great song floating along pleasantly enough with a lead solo George Harrison could surely admire, until the final climatic octave proves perhaps an octave too high for singer Pierre Hall.

'Don't Let That Go To Waste' is a more elegant, 50s Rock n Roll affair, yet perhaps more passion is needed before Lead Balloons have the labels racing up the M6.

The record itself sounds like a Manc Frank Carter fronting a scruffier Arctic Monkeys. The beauty of this record is that you’re never quite sure whether the band secretly love Alderley Edge or entirely despise it. You’d imagine they probably just find the whole place quite amusing. Understandably.

Wayne and Coleen can’t fail to be impressed by that.

Chris Horner

They also manage to find room for not one but two cowbell solos in a record less than three minutes long. And even

power of a punch from a foxy boxer" which picks up the pace with a punch. Electronic blips, hand claps, beats that could conceivably be lifted from Belle and Sebastian's 'Electronic Renaissance', there's plenty here to get excited about. It's easy to liken this to Belle and Seb with more fire to them, and at points there's an edge of Leeds trio Sky Larkin here. At only two and a half minutes 'Foxy

Bonde do Role are hinting at but haven’t yet accomplished. Of the many bonus mixes, South Central enhance their growing reputation as one of the best new remixers with their bass-heavy mix, while Ashley Beedle’s vocal mix transforms the track into Balaeric chill-out bliss.

For such an elemental country blues song; harmonicas, acoustic strumming and cymbal bashing, this song shouldn't take more than one listen to get, yet it does.

through, with The Wallbirds taking this element, speeding it all up, and creating a dance around your room and injure yourself on the wardrobe moment. On the third spin we get The White Stripes' Hotel Yorba, and suddenly The Wallbirds manage to sound simultaneously mature and youthfully exuberant.

With the second listen, hints of Two Gallants' aggression start to show

The Wallbirds are undeniably infectious, and tours with The

The Wallbirds - The Avenue (Dance To The Radio)

Andy Porter

Boxer' is almost over before it begins, but no matter, just hit play again. Once again Fantastic Plastic have proved why they are one of Britain's best labels.

Hannah Bayfield

It’s a shame re-releases like this only come after TV advert endorsement, but the original would be a worthy late addition to your NYE rave-up playlist.

Alistair Beech

Wombats and Howling Bells have evidently proved positive for Dance To The Radio's latest protégés.

Andy Porter

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albums Album of the month

British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music? (Rough Trade)

This band ask a fundamental question – not, do you like music with guitars but Do You Like Rock Music? Are you Rock or not? Are you good or evil? Do you believe in British Sea Power? This third album is their most imposing, staggeringly impressive effort yet. No song half-hearted and every line glowing lyricism to make the lake poets sound short-sighted. Not always explicit with their references to fluorescent indiediscos or hard drugs, but British Sea Power are not ignorant of the everyday as they revel in their loved lifeforce, with 'Waving Flags' the glorious celebration of the everything that Arcade Fire will never manage. The sound which has always basked in rich atmospherics has been set free

Sons and Daughters – This Gift (Domino)

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Kicking off 2008 in style, Sons and Daughters second LP is an enticing, addictive beast of a record. Before this, they’d set their stall out with a mini-album and debut full length The Repulsion Box without particularly blowing us away. They’ve certainly upped their game with This Gift, their music has become bigger and more accessible, helped by the crafting hands of new producer Bernard Butler. First single ‘Gilt Complex’ is a stunning opener, all gritty rhythms and heroic guitar work, while the two-minute sprint through ‘Split Lips’ (featuring Robbie from Cajun Dance Party on violin – indie fact spotters) is

into reverberated expanse, Noble's ever stratospherebothering wall of guitar driving you upwards. Where Open Season was about delicate and incremental melodies, Do You Like Rock Music? is about showstopping, heroic choruses and adventurous assault on the sound barrier, whilst losing none of the humble charms here and there. Fans of 'Lately', 'Carrion' and 'Oh Larsen B' are going to die for the spirit of these songs – 'A Trip Out's upbeat bounding, 'Atom's monumental cascading power and 'We Close Our Eyes' refraining to close in dreamlike finale.

noise and ambitious magnanimity, but at their centre and essence is absolute Britishness – poise, nobility, wit and above all else, rock 'n' roll.

Fran Donnelly

This is music that makes hard men cry. Sea Power might seem distant in their colossal sweep of

pure pop bliss. The garage rock moves of ‘Rebel With The Ghost’ will sound huge live, they sure do here. The joyous ‘Chains’ finds the group in 60s girl group mode, but the albums title-track is disappointing, straight laced indie-rock. The Bowie stomp of ‘Darling’ is much better, its monster, half-inched T-Rex guitar riff while have you dancing round your bedroom for weeks. Guitar hero references don’t stop there. The edgy, atmospheric ‘Iodine’ is full of Marr-esque six string flourishes, and the punky clash of ‘House In My Head’ is heavy metal for indie kids.

Modern classic? This Gift could very well become one. Seek and enjoy.

Alistair Beech


Autumn Fallin', the debut album from New York songbird Jaymay, is a subtle blend of folk and blues, telling her simple story of love and life and everything in between. It is, in truth, a love affair with her home, and like Woody Allen's 'Annie Hall', the city is her beginning and her end.

Jaymay - Autumn Fallin' (Heavenly)

Le Loup – The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly (Memphis Industries)

The Whitest Boy Alive – Dreams (Modular)

Opener 'Gray or Blue', with its gentle guitar strumming and melancholy vocals, and the album finale 'You Are The Only One I Love', sit like bookends; collecting her moments and memories, her hopes and regrets. The innocent 'Sycamore Down' is near perfect; I imagine her kicking

Signed in the US to Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art and picked up by those ever-reliable chaps at Memphis Industries in the UK, Le Loup dabble in breezy, lo-fi indie that eschews typical song templates for experimentation and creative moodiness. Reference points include Sufjan Stevens (in the airy vocals and arrangements) and a less-noisy Animal Collective (electronically and sonically). After a fluctuating (both in quality and sound) first couple of songs, the middle of the record makes more sense to

The Whitest Boy Alive is the new project from Erlend Øye from King of Convenience. According to the press release, what started as an “electronic dance music project slowly developed into a band without any programmed elements.” Their debut album Dreams is meticulously constructed out of breathy vocal melodies, spindly guitar lines and romantic reflections, like in ‘Fireworks’ with its funk punch complimented by the similarly hard hitting “You keep your cards so close to your chest, you’re making me confused.” Dreams is an album of unequivocal subtlety in ten tracks which show evolution through a mixture of diverse drum beats, glistening guitar riffs and

leaves as she sings and whistles, with such childlike wonder. It's fair to say I've played this over and over again. 'Hard to Say' bounces along like a Nellie McKay song, bursting in energy, inspired by 1930s jazz – it's cute but sounding a little out of place. Fans of Regina Spektor and Emma Tricca will find a similar magic here, songs that slowly slip into your unconscious, songs like 'Big Ben' with its whispering voices hiding beneath her sultry tones, making me think of Norah Jones at her best.

minute epic waltz, such adventure and promise, reminiscent in style to Laura Veirs. And so as the cold winter air sets in, and my bed becomes the nicest place to be, it is to 'Autumn Fallin' I shall turn, to warm up my bitter heart. Like so many others, I'm smitten.

Phillip Daker

Album highlight though is 'You'd Rather Run', a nine

our ears. ‘We Are Gods! We Are Wolves’ is a richly textured electronic pop song, while ‘Breathing Rapture’ bridges the electronic-folk gap with some aplomb. ‘Look to the West’ is spacey and atmospheric, and the heavy loops of ‘I Had a Dream I Died’ provide a poignant closer.

to send the band over to the mainstream, but it’s a record of subtlety and texture which anyone could fall in love with.

Alistair Beech

The seven piece from Washington cut aloof figures, with lead singer and main songwriter Sam Simkoff leading his troops in a high-pitched, almost child-like tone throughout. In such a crowded genre, The Throne… is unlikely

profound bass lines. The majority of tracks are smooth and sultry, yet fundamentally bass driven, creating melodies from this blend of bass line riffs and occasional, ringing guitar strokes. It showcases Øye’s warm voice while the faint undercurrent of electronics suits the minimal, clean production very well.

The Whitest Boy Alive have gone the other way of nu-rave and created an album of tenderly evocative lyrics that are as subtle and concise as the music that supports them.

Jack Titley

By the time ‘Above You’ arrives, a song which juxtaposes experimental synths with off-key jazz pauses, it is clear why they aren’t an “electronic dance music project.” For a band of just four people, the music is richly diverse, bordering on sparse, continental pop music and the album’s closer, ‘All Ears,’ is almost naked of instrumentation.

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gigs Gig of the month

The National – Manchester Academy 2 4/11/07

An honourable mention should go to St Vincent for kicking of proceedings with her mentally skewed but achingly beautiful guitar ‘n’ singing magic. In particular, the closing ‘Jesus Saves, I Spend’ is a commendable blend of Radiohead-esque sampling and beats with the all the Regina Spektor quirkiness the Academy 2 can handle. Although Alligator was the album that broke the National through into the mainstream consciousness, recent album Boxer never really grabbed the attention of the critics in quite the same way. On the evidence here tonight, they really missed a trick with that one... Flitting between Boxer and Alligator throughout, Matt Berninger’s voice is in fine fettle, matching the gravelscraped sobriety of the albums but giving the songs a new power that lifts them head and shoulders above the likes of Interpol and Editors, their supposed competition.

The Ghost Frequency

The Ghost Frequency /Hadouken! –

Manchester Academy 4/11/07 twenty

When the queue for the Academy is backed up for half a kilometre at 7pm, you know you're in line for youth culture in its ascendancy. Proving this, The Ghost Frequency thrust belligerent synths into their hardcore pop, sounding like Enter Shikari for wimps. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, as tendencies to flip from crunching riffs and rolling drums to funkier, danceable punk show great scope for a full-on set of madness. 'Money On The Fire' is a yo-yoing churn of teenage Rapture fans whilst single 'Nightmare' only confuses things more by taking this and cramming in a whole lot more

‘Secret Meeting’, ‘Mistaken for Strangers’ and ‘Fake Empire’ swoop as gloriously as expected, but ‘Wasp Nest’ is given a new higher-tempo middle eight which, to be frank, breaks up the fragile beauty of the original. The bigger, more explosive moments such as ‘Abel’ and ‘Squalor Victoria’ do more to reveal just what a complete band The National have become, particularly when set against the misery-soaked backdrop of ‘All the Wine’.

Competition!!! Thanks to those generous guys at Beggars, we have x2 wall posters for The National’s current album, Boxer. To win a poster, please email your answer to the following question to alistair@highvoltage.org.uk by 7th January. What was the title of the seven song EP The National released in 2004 on Brassland Records?

Although they’ll never seriously trouble the charts, this unassuming bunch of neo-losers could well be future treasures.

Adrian Barrowdale

Panic! At The Disco melody noise. Jumping, cavorting, climbing and diving as they do, it's hard to judge how much angst is in The Ghost Frequency mixer. Maybe it's just a pure adrenalised, alternative splurge being swallowed, force-fed and thrown up again. Because that's the way things seem to be going now. Hadouken! have a delirious crowd waiting for them. Many will be picked up by parents straight after tonight, but all will have sweated it up at a blistering car crash of a show. H!'s upcoming mixtape EP isn’t

even out yet, but opening with 'Bounce' they have every devotee roaring its commanding lines. Like their support, the Leeds via London grime-punks hijack all manner of styles and so lead a bizarrely diverse audience of revellers who mosh wildly to 'Leap Of Faith', rap along to 'Tuning In' and rave to 'Dance Lesson'. To echo the chants that gapped every verse in this chaos – we went fucking mental.

Fran Donnelly


Boy/girl duos. Does the world really need anymore? What was once a novelty concept in indie is fast sending more and more temperamental bassists to the dole queue. But when they are able to create such a joyous racket as Slow Club then maybe one more wouldn't hurt.

Fionn Regan

Slow Club / Fionn Regan – Night & Day 27/10/07

Recalling the twee beats and uplift overload of a streamlined Tilly and the Wall or Los Campesinos, the pair's double-dutch chants over Charles' melodious guitar picking and Rebecca's chair tapped beats are likely to put off as many people as they attract, but are certainly an interesting prospect with many here already won over by the end of their set.

It seems the Young Knives are the latest Boomerang band – that is, the type of outfit who ride the wave of Mercury nominations and general acclaim all the way to the larger venues in our towns and cities, before realising that running before developing the ability to walk does not for positive income maketh.

The Young Knives – Night & Day 6/11/07

The Shins

Vampire Weekend / The Shins Academy 1 8/11/07

New material is very much in the offing tonight, and very good it is too. The newbie’s range in form from urgent, slow burners to the typically spiky riffed Andy Gill inspired numbers. Without wanting to skim past what is probably the most important subject matter in this review, the new songs sounded

New Yorkers Vampire Weekend have picked up praise in all the right places since their summer introduction, and after a good few months on the road, justify the hype. There's nothing extraordinary about the band's stage manner, but their songs are technically spot on and refreshing. We can hear echoes of The Spinto Band in the melodies, but the shift is more Talking Heads than The Strokes. New single 'Mansard Roof' and the shouty 'APunk' are the pick of a good forty minute set, and by the end we're making a mental note; never judge a band by its name. Over a decade old, The Shins are at a delicate point in their

A quick head count and scan of the sweat dripping confines of Night & Day shows that it wasn't just the Mercury Music Board that recognised what a special debut Fionn Regan produced with 'The End Of History'. No longer the talk of message boards and the blogsphere, Regan's rambled folk and lyrical oddities have made him a much in-demand performer, something he appears uneasy with, happily sinking into a band line (tonight's line up including Babyshambles bassist Drew McConnell, and two drummers) than hogging the spotlight.

unplugged, communal sing-along of 'Be Good Or Be Gone' that puts a smile on most faces, but there's plenty more sides to this performer than has been heard yet.

Mike Caulfield

Whilst newer material sounds more harmonically complex and quirky in structure, it's stripped down readings of 'Put a Penny In The Slot' and an

fantastic. We are of course also treated to a run through of their ‘best of’ standard back catalogue, you know the drill; ‘She’s Attracted To’, ‘The Decision’ etc etc. Of the new songs performed, one of course is familiar to all, and as the brothers Dartnall prepare to unleash ‘Terra Firma’, Henry can’t help but quip about the fact that the release failed to break into the top 40, “why are people buying so much shit these days?” is the question posed. And perhaps that is a rather apt way to end, bringing us full circle from the sentiment imparted at the start of this review.

careers. Teetering on the mainstream in the US, they've become indie-forefathers it's ok to still like. Tonight they're on auto-pilot as they skim through latest album Wincing The Night Away and classics from their young days. Singer James Mercer doesn't break sweat under that hat of his, and it's clear that he'd rather be a home writing tunes than touring the world. But with age has come progression, as the new material shows tonight.

The Young Knives are undoubtedly a great band, whether they will ever achieve what they deserve is another matter.

Gareth Roberts

band play like seasoned pros, while Mercer proves just what an astute writer of melody he has become. A soaring 'Phantom Limb' ends the night on a celebratory note, the entire hall singing back its timeless refrain. Perfection.

Alistair Beech

We get songs linked seamlessly from the more instrument heavy, expansive direction of now and the cut and thrust guitar moves of Chutes Too Narrow's 'Young Pilgrims' and 'So Says I'. The

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Why 2008 is going to be great… At HV, we pride ourselves on looking forward, constantly searching for the bands we think deserve to make the mythical Big Time. With this in mind, we asked our writers to pick the one band they think will (or at least should) make an impact on your life next year and to tell us why. The results were staggering – if you can’t find a band or artist here to get excited about then, well, quite frankly, there must be something wrong with you. Whether it’s Manchester’s own Karima Francis doing her shimmering, soulful magic, or the down-anddirty dance of SebastiAn, here’s the proof that if you want to know which MySpace to visit next in your search for quality music, you need look no further than High Voltage. Enjoy...

Operator Please

Adele

SebastiAn

Richard Fox says...

Andrew Porter says...

Neil Condron says...

“After one single release and a UK tour under their belts, this Australian five-piece are ready for the big time. Having impressed with debut ‘Just a Song About Ping Pong’, and supported Arctic Monkeys down under, Operator Please's infectious pop-indie sound will get you bopping all night long.”

“If your desire for female artists of the Cockney-realist type hasn’t reached saturation point, if there’s a hole left to fill, a dessert sized portion you could just about stomach, it should be for Adele. Her honey coated voice and jazz-flecked songs touch a more tender emotion than her more aggressive peers. More Daydreamer, less Rehab for 2008.”

“In 2007, JUSTICE kicked the nightclub door down. Now, it's time for SebastiAn to jack-boot their way in. More gut-twistingly narcotic than the rest of the Ed Banger stable, SebastiAn has landed a tour with Daft Punk on the back of tracks such as ‘Ross Ross Ross’ and a vomit-trail of remixes. Strap your brain in for another 12 months of wreckage.”

www.myspace.com/adele

www.myspace.com/0sebastian0

Foals

Elle S’Appelle

Simon Smallbone says...

Jade French says...

“This dance-punk five piece’s high-fret, Rapture meets Battles sound is responsible for two of the outstanding singles of 2007 (‘Hummer’ and ‘Mathletics’). Yet, such is their confidence and the wealth of ideas exhibited at their thrilling live shows, neither track will (or needs) to feature on their forthcoming debut album.”

“A band whose name has been thrown around plenty allow their perfect blend of harmonious vocals and angular beats to make them unique. They could completely take over your brain with incessantly upbeat songs like ‘Mariappa’, yet it’s songs like “Little Flame” which sets them apart from other indie bands. In a word, sublime.”

www.myspace.com/operatorplease

Karima Francis Megan Vaughan says... “The songs of Karima Francis have the power of several freight trains behind them. Warming your cockles only to break your heart moments later, her arresting vocals have more soul than a James Brown tribute night, and with heart pinned to sleeve, she will soundtrack the tender moments of 2008.” www.myspace.com/karimafrancis

Pin Me Down

www.myspace.com/foals

www.myspace.com/ellesappelleband

Benjamin Short says... “A boy from London and a girl from New York City. Together they are Pin Me Down. He is Russell, guitarist in a popular British band by the name of Bloc Party, and he makes his trademark obtuse noises as she, Milena, raises the temperature of her oozing voice to melting point. Hear the sound of 2008's biggest transatlantic success story.” www.myspace.com/pinmedown

The Novellos Phillip Daker says... “On a recent trip home to Stoke, I discovered the kind of band that makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck. Think early Libertines; poetic and beautifully chaotic. Lead Singer Mike Thomas is a raw talent, and with a single released early in the New Year, this is the next band you should fall in love with. Key Track: 'The Lady Is Not'” www.myspace.com/thenovellos

Quartershade Simon Pursehouse says... “It's all about Quartershade I say. Nice lads with radio friendly tunes. With the right people behind them they could cause a fuss. Although I did hear one of them got married recently. Not very rock and roll is it? Unless he dumps her for his coke dealer, then even Heat might run a story on them. Then its uber fame time...” www.myspace.com/quartershade

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NEW NOISE Send your new band tips to stephen@highvoltage.org.uk to appear in the next New Noise round-up…

Hayley Faye

Jake Mattison

Glasvegas e

Clipe Sexo Amador

City Royals

An attractive lady with a guitar often signifies sentimental warblings and deft finger picking. Forget all that when Hayley Faye’s around: guitars are thumped and boots stomped, lyrics are bold and head shaking brash. She gives high school lyrics a mature edge with some tongue in cheek preaching.

Jake Mattison initially came to HV’s attention in 2006, when he gave a stunning performance of ‘Idle Protest’ on Channel M’s now defunct ‘4Manchester’ music show, but a recent hiatus by no means seen him sitting in yesterday’s underpants, playing Pro Evolution Soccer. When the gifted singer-songwriter withdrew his collection of soulful blues tunes from the local limelight, it was with bigger things in mind.

Alan McGee was the man who brought us the all conquering Oasis and the darkly magnificent Jesus and Mary Chain. He can more recently be found championing the incredible four piece Glasvegas, a beautiful mix of ‘50s harmonies and lyrics sung like a raving drunkard Proclaimer about “feeling so guilty about the things I told me mam when I were 10 year old”, all over a Spector-esque euphoric sound that builds to breaking point on every track.

Clipe Sexo Amador is something a bit left of centre, a bit quirky, curious and intriguing. Under the pseudonym of Clipe, Jamie Dodd he uses keyboards and modified children's toys, but he is not like Bristol's Kid Carpet. We'll let the man himself tell you what you need to know.

City Royals live sets are fizzing with enthusiasm and an itch for fame which clearly showcases their determination to make it big. The Chester band, although very much in the embryonic stages have justified themselves to be talented musicians, gracing stages with ease and performing with professional tightness.

Recently signed to Manchester label Surbia Records, Hayley is currently recruiting musicians to contribute to her new material and give her the added oomph she deserves. Hayley Faye’s a bit Britpop, a gravely slice of riot grrl but best of all, there’s nobody else like her on the Manchester scene. Key track: Big Fat Liar Web: www.myspace.com/hayleyfaye

(AW)

After reinstating his onetime band and arranging previously acoustic songs into electric rock ‘n' roll oozing with brass and bombast, Mattison has returned with an irresistible EP, ‘Fake Revel Joker’, in aid of Nacro (working with ex-offenders and disadvantaged communities to reduce crime). It combines the husky emotion of Ray Lamontagne with the dishevelled soul of a Tom Waits album, and is possibly the very reason that crime statistics benefit; why nick a car when you can be listening to this city’s most talented songwriter? Key track: Idle Protest Web: www.jakemattison.co.uk (MV)

Having just released ‘Daddy’s Gone’ on Sane Man, the band are coming towards the end of their first UK tour, which unspeakably missed Manchester this time around but if McGee is right and they are “the most vital band Glasgow has produced in the last twenty years”, they will surely be back to tell their ironic, battle scarred tales of Glaswegian life soon. Key track: It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry

"Clipe Sexo Amador is the creative outcome of a £1 keyboard and too much time that could have been spent on doing something productive. Lyrically deep and grammatically incorrect, CSA is for anyone who has ever been to Poundland and seen the potential of what just one pound can get you." The “Rick Wakeman of the Casio generation” started Clipe as a hobby, but after constant pestering from a whole gallimaufry of different sources and a conversation with his flatmate after too much beer he decided to show the world that there is such a genre as Poundland funk.

Web: www.glasvegas.net

Key track: Pen To Paper

(AP)

Web: www.myspace.com/clipe

City Royals’ power and confidence should see them come to fruition in their own right, regardless of genres. Their most impressive track, ‘Neon Pretty’ is a raw, energetic portrayal of modern love and its consequences, combined with additive guitar riffs and efficacious vocals. They have a good attitude; work hard and their future success will be just the reward. Key track: Neon Pretty Web: www.myspace.com/cityroy als (HC)

(SP) Compiled by Stephen Eddie Words: Hannah Clark, Simon Pursehouse, Megan Vaughan, Andrew Porter, Astrid Weekes

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listings DecGIGLISTINGS December Saturday 1st Thunder @ Academy 1 The Alarm @ Academy 2 Ezio @ Academy 3 UK Subs @ Club Academy The Ghost Frequency @ The Roadhouse Bearsuit @ Night & Day Café Eat Your Own Ears @ Warehouse Project

Sunday 2nd Roisin Murphy @ Academy 2 Octavia Sperati @ Club Academy The Tides + Juno Ashes @ Academy 3 Queens of the Stone Age @ The Apollo Wild Beasts @ The Roadhouse Curtis Eller @ Night & Day Café

Monday 3rd Necro @ Club Academy Paradise Lost @ Academy 3 The Wombats @ Academy 2 The Satin Peaches @ The Roadhouse

Tuesday 4th CSS @ Academy 1 Future of the Left @ Club Academy Lo Fidelity Allstars @ Academy 3 Blaze Bayley @ Music Box International One @ Night & Day Café

Wednesday 5th From The Jam (feat. Bruce Foxton & Rick Buckler) @ Academy 1 Manic Street Preachers @ Manchester Central Thin Lizzy @ The Apollo Young Galaxy @ Night & Day Café

Thursday 6th The Start @ Academy 3 Bad Manners @ Club Academy Marilyn Manson @ Manchester Central Chemical Brothers @ The Apollo Young Gods @ The Roadhouse A Hawk And a Hacksaw @ Music Box The Ads @ Night & Day Café

Friday 7th Shed Seven @ Academy 1 Goldblade @ Academy 3 Bis @ Club Academy Ian Brown @ Manchester Central Squeeze @ The Apollo Pilooski @ The Roadhouse The Fear of Music Christmas @ Night & Day Café Ian Brown After Party @ Night & Day Café Friendly Fires @ Retro Bar Aphex Twin @ Warehouse Project

Saturday 8th

Saturday 15th

Tuesday 8th

Porcupine Tree @ Academy 1 The Icicle Works @ Academy 3 The Damned @ Academy 2 Ian Brown @ Manchester Central The Bootleg Beatles @ The Apollo Lethal Bizzle @ The Roadhouse Tangled @ Music Box Cardinal Saviour @ Club Academy Beat The Radar @ Night & Day Café The Valve Soundsystem @ Warehouse Project Left/ The Blimp/ The Sleeves @ Night & Day Café

Chrome Hoof @ Academy 3 Job For A Cowboy @ Academy 2 The Pogues @ Manchester Central One Night Only @ The Roadhouse John Power @ Club Academy B-Live feat. Pete Tong @ Warehouse Project The Merge @ Night & Day Café

Grand Volume @ The Roadhouse

Sunday 16th

Friday 11th

Sunday 9th

Monday 17th

Kings Of Leon @ Manchester Central Orson @ Academy 2 HIM @ The Apollo Pineapple Folk Yuletide Gathering feat. Mountain Goats @ Moho Live

Divine Heresy @ Academy 3 Hard Fi @ Manchester Central Night & Day presents… Hot New Talents @ Night & Day Café

Monday 10th Malcolm Middleton @ Academy 3 The Unsung @ Music Box Powderfinger @ Club Academy The Mitchell Brothers @ Night & Day Café

Tuesday 11th Hellogoodbye @ Academy 1 Arctic Monkeys @ Manchester Central Hey Gravity @ The Roadhouse Mayhem In Manchester @ Music Box Jenny Owen Youngs @ Night & Day Café

Wednesday 12th Apocalyptic @ Academy 2 Mum @ Academy 3 Arctic Monkeys @ Manchester Central Amy Winehouse @ The Apollo Miss Conduct @ Music Box Carina Round @ Night & Day Café

Thursday 13th Minus The Bear @ Academy 3 Bloc Party @ Manchester Central The Courteeners @ The Ritz Amy Winehouse @ The Apollo Spitalfield @ Music Box Barbed Wire Kisses presents Battant (live) @ Retro The Chase @ Night & Day Café

Friday 14th Hawkwind Christmas Show @ Academy 2 The Other Smiths V Transmission @ Academy 3 Happy Mondays @ Manchester Central Spear of Destiny @ Club Academy Saw Doctors @ The Apollo This Is Seb Clarke @ The Roadhouse Lightspeed Champion/ Semifinalists @ Night & Day Café Sasha @ Warehouse Project

The Acrylics @ Academy 3 Cherry Ghost @ The Ritz The Airstrip One @ Club Academy

Tuesday 18th M.I.A @ Academy 2 The Cassettes @ Academy 3

Wednesday 19th

The Unstoppable Team @ The Roadhouse

Thursday 10th Driftrun @ The Roadhouse

James Blunt @ The Apollo Maylene and the Sons of Disaster @ The Roadhouse Green Underline @ Night & Day Café

Saturday 12th James Blunt @ The Apollo The Substance @ Night & Day Café

Tuesday 15th Rosie Drew @ The Roadhouse

Wednesday 16th Sex Radio @ The Roadhouse

Dartz! @ The Roadhouse Mendoza @ Night & Day Café

Thursday 17th

Thursday 20th

Friday 18th

Speechless with Sound Christmas knees up… The Tides @ Night & Day Café

Saturday 22nd

A Boy Called Doris @ The Roadhouse

Hundred Reasons @ Academy 2 Stone Gods @ Academy 3

Saturday 19th

The Almighty @ Academy 3 Cotton Town Music Club @ Night & Day Korn @ The Apollo Café

Wednesday 26th Tangled Presents Decade vs Freedom @ Music Box

Friday 28th My Captive Audience @ Night & Day Café

Saturday 29th The Underclass @ Night & Day Café

Monday 31st Revolver NYE @ The Roadhouse New Years Eve @ Warehouse Project New Years Eve @ Font Bar Sankeys New Years Eve @ Sankeys Locked vs Sequence NYE @ Joshua Brooks Loaded NYE @ Dunkenhalgh Hotel Twisted Elegance NYE @ Ampersand

January

Tuesday 22nd We Are Physics @ Night & Day Café Jake Flowers @ The Roadhouse

Wednesday 23rd The 100 Club @ The Roadhouse

Friday 25th Teddy Thompson @ Night & Day Café

Sunday 27th British Sea Power @ Academy 2

Monday 28th My Ruin @ Academy 3

Tuesday 29th Explosions In The Sky @ Academy 2/3 King Creosote @ Academy 3 Paramore @ The Apollo Dark Day Off @ The Roadhouse

Wednesday 30th

New Years Day Closing Party @ Warehouse Project

Nine Black Alps @ Academy 3 Paramore @ The Apollo Snowblind @ The Roadhouse

Friday 4th

Thursday 31st

Tuesday 1st

Trash/ Consoles & Players @ Night & Day Café

Saturday 5th Deadly Brotherhood of the Gun @ Night & Day Café

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Wednesday 9th

Stars @ Academy 3


Jan CLUBLISTINGS Dec-Jan Monday Revolver @ The Roadhouse 11pm- 2am Monday @ The Ritz 10pm- 2am Up The Racket @ Joshua Brooks 10pm2am

Please email your gig and club listings for February/March 08 to listings@highvoltage.org.uk Next deadline is January 18th Compiled by Mike Caulfield

Tuesday Sex With Robots @ The Roadhouse 11pmlate Way Back When @ Po Na Na 9pm- 2am Click Click @ Font Bar 9pm- 1am The Alternative @ The Venue 11pm- late

Wednesday Retro @ 42nd Street 10pm- late Tramp @ Club North 10pm- 2am

Thursday From Manchester With Love @ 42nd Street 10pm- 2am Don’t Think Twice… @ Font Bar 9pm- 1am Romp @ One Central Street @ 9.30pm3am In The City @ The Venue 11pm- late

Friday

For all things Graphic www.soapforall.co.uk

Friday Feeling @ 5th Avenue 10pm- 3am Glamorous Indie Rock n’ Roll @ 42nd Street Popscene @ The Brickhouse 10.30pm2.30am Relief @ Club Alter Ego 11pm- 4am Another Planet @ South 10pm- 3am Club Biscuit @ The Ruby Lounge 10.30pm2am Homoelectric @ Legends 10pm- 4am Twist and Shout @ The Venue 10pm- 3am Guilty Pleasures @ One Central Street 10pm- 3am

Saturday Audio Boutique @ Music Box 10pm- 4am Call It What You Want @ 5th Avenue 10pm3am Clint Boon’s Disco Revue @ South 9.30pm2.45am Rock Kitchen @ K2 Lounge 9pm- 3am Urban Legends @ 42nd Street 10pm2.30am Smile @ Star and Garter 9pm- late Indiependance @ The Venue Plastic Surgery @ The Ruby Lounge

HIGHVOLTAGE PRESS Specialising in music/band online PR and web promotion. National & regional PR services available alistair@highvoltage.org.uk for more information

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Are Record Labels Passé? “I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one?” So spoke Thom Yorke to Time Magazine in 2006. In October 2007, following the end of their contract with EMI, Radiohead sold their new album, ‘In Rainbows’, exclusively through their own website and without a set price. In the context of dwindling record sales and other major acts abandoning their labels (Madonna, Nine Inch Nails, The Charlatans), many have predicted that record companies are soon to be cast into the dustbin of musical history. The reality is, however, that whilst labels are certainly reevaluating the way they work, the end of the record label is not yet in sight. Radiohead’s trial with a new distribution model should be seen as a statement of their status rather than a comment on the impending obsoleteness of record labels. Outside of the small group of artists who can fill stadiums, the record label remains one of the band’s most important partners. Essentially, a record label’s job is firstly to identify talent, then finance, manufacture, distribute, market, promote, publicise and

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develop the band. Whilst the digital age has provided new channels for promotion, the record label’s traditional skills have not yet been replaced. Rich Cheetham, head honcho of our very own record label, High Voltage Sounds, agrees. “I'm a firm believer in the strength of radio play and touring. Bands still need a good team to help out, consisting of PR people, booking agents, managers, and producers, not to mention industry A&R figures. This is the key to helping a band with good songs become an amazing band.” Much has been made of Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen’s rise to fame via the internet in recent years, yet both artists are signed to labels and sold records via the traditional format, heavy radio airplay, long tours and massive media coverage. Nevertheless, Radiohead’s novel approach highlighted a fact that many in the music industry have steadfastly closed their eyes, put their hands over their ears and screamed “I’m not listening” to try to avoid. Today’s music fans, many of which obtain songs for free through illegal downloading or sharing, consider the monetary value of songs as practically nothing approximately 60% of people chose not to pay for ‘In Rainbows’ (comScore data). While digital sales are growing, their 10-20% share of the overall market is not nearly enough to make up for the 6.5m fewer

album sales sold in the UK in the first half of 2007 compared with 2006 (BPI figures). Nervous record companies are clearly feeling the pinch and as a result, artists are now being signed to so-called ‘360 degree’ contracts, which entitle the label to a percentage of merchandise and touring revenue as well as record sales. Effectively, the labels have decided to milk more than one of their cash cows’ teats. EMI signed their fattest cow, Robbie Williams, to a 360degree deal worth £80m in 2002. Whilst their profits have been waning in general, the whopping advance on this deal is reported to have been recouped within only two years. The deal’s success is indicative of the growing popularity and profitability of live music and the merchandise sold at the shows. Buoyed by new music festivals and large arena tours, the value of the worldwide live music industry grew by 16% in 2006 and will only encourage more labels to take a slice of this revenue. Free downloading and the democratisation of production have meant that anyone with a laptop, the right software and a microphone can record a near studio-quality track and distribute it. Yet, greater quantity does not mean greater quality. As such, more than ever we can consider labels, and particularly independent labels like HV and the more globally recognised

DFA and Modular, as filters or curators of the best new music. These record labels have effectively become a brand that you can trust. This raises a question – if record labels did disappear and were replaced with internet downloading, who would you trust to point you in the direction of the best new artists? There’s little doubt that the recording industry is going through a period of unprecedented flux at present. Whilst the major labels may be evolving their business model, the key role of a record label, regardless of its size, remains the same: investing time and money in unknown artists on the basis that they will generate income in the future. Rich Cheetham explains, “the key for smaller labels is to stay ahead of the times and keep looking at new ways to 'break' bands. Labels like ourselves are helping new bands to find a foothold and forge a career.” At present, there is no serious alternative to this role and until it’s created, the record label’s future is safe. Words: Simon Smallbone Do you agree with Simon’s view on record labels? We want to hear your thoughts – get over to the HV message board now and join in our debate – www.highvoltage.org.uk/forum


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We Swear By The Light Life, the new single by THE MAPLE STATE out now. Available from www.highvoltage.org.uk, or in person from Piccadilly, Jumbo, Action or Puregroove Records. All singles are placed in individually printed and numbered envelopes with an exclusive insert and lyric sheet. “Adrenaline fuelled choruses and moments of delicacy” - The Fly “Epic in the truest of proportions” - Gigwise “Tone perfect vocals and great melodies, this lot have indie-pop stardom a beckoning” - Artrocker The Maple State are on tour throughout December, check myspace.com/themaplestate for further details.


HighVoltage 26