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ISSUE TWENTYEIGHT APRIL//MAY

features Introducing… Twisted Wheel & Yeasayer SIX Introducing… Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip & Black Kids SEVEN MGMT & Tapes n Tapes NINE t ex N The Whip TEN The Futureheads ELEVEN issue of South Central TWELVE High Voltage t is ou Stars THIRTEEN ne Ju t 1s Simian Mobile Disco FOURTEEN Big Scary Monsters label profile 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 HighVoltage activities log on to highvoltage.org.uk See highvoltagesounds.co.uk for label info and new HighVoltage 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, Sarah Boardman, Hannah Clark, Neil Condron, Phil Daker, Richard Fox, Jade French, Lauren Holden, Chris Horner, Billy Idle, James Morton, Sophie Parkes, Liam Pennington, Andy Porter, Simon Pursehouse, Michael Roberts, Gareth Roberts, Alexia Rogers-Wright, Jamila Scott, Benjamin Thomas, Simon Smallbone, Jack Titley, Megan Vaughan

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April/May _News... Apparently April is the rainy month. But don’t let

Policemen have MSTRKRFT making a rare

May is the month of Manchester festivals. The

that put you off going out, there's something on

appearance at Music Box on April 28th. Or if

first Sunday is Sounds From The Other City –

every night of the week. Firstly, Blowout's back

your dancing shoes are wearing thin, then look

all your favourite promoters hosting on one

for your Fridays at Chorlton Irish Club, and

no further than shoegaze bosses Sonic

Salford street. Already? It's just as well cos

they've got The Nightjars and Polytechnic over

Cathedral taking dreamscaper Ulrich Schnauss

we've forgotten what it's like seeing more than

April. If you're looking to chill-out, then it's Red

to the Sacred Trinity on 24/04.

three bands in a day. With a slightly more

Deer Club's third birthday at Fuel (Withington)

¡Forward Russia! make a long awaited

cosmopolitan flavour, on the Spring Bank

on April 12th. In three years, the label has done

comeback for their second album of

Holiday weekend it's time for Eurocultured

stacks for local folk, so they'll probably have a

mentalness at the Academy, 27/04, whilst the

down New Wakefield Street. So that's more

decent cake (and good tunes).

next day, The Maccabees make their return at

daylight gigging and party extravagance to

On that note – clubnight return alert! Chips With

Jabez Clegg. Then on April 30th you've an

keep you going till summer comes. Not long

Everything is back in its eighth year, and at

existential choice between superlative local

now…

Trof's Deaf Institute for lots of disco-ing

faves (We Are) Performance at Night & Day, or

goodtimes. If that doesn’t electrify you enough

the dark, historical post-rocking of iLiKETRAiNS

though, then rave-heads Prostitutes &

at the Roadhouse. Both are totally gripping.

Event of the Month

Yer what? MAPS Festival? Well it's a new un.

So over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend

performers and arty happenings. Something for

In our first year without D:Percussion we have

(23rd-25th May) we're told to expect more than

everybody is promised during the day, and

our first year with the Northern Quarter Festival,

150 gigs, so the venues will be working

much drinking and dancing will be done at

or MAPS as it's being called (that's Music, Art,

overtime. There's bound to be stacks of DJs

night. And it's all in the name of promoting

Poetry and Stuff).

(amongst which some of your favourites)

creativity. Something we're very much in

playing to a carnival atmosphere of stalls and

support of at HV.

Words: Fran Donnelly

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introducing... Twisted Wheel

Exciting times for Mancunian music, these. The past year or so has seen The Courteeners and The Ting Tings outgrow their respective scenes to become bona fide MTV2 fodder, while International One are the latest to be rumoured to have signed a record deal. None of this, however, compares with the rapid rise of Twisted Wheel. Meeting singer-songwriter Jonny Brown and drummer Adam Clarke in the Dry Bar, its clear to see that as the ink dries on their deal with Columbia, the realisation of what this means for the young band - formed from the ashes of The Children - is still sinking in. "There were four deals on the table at one point. It's happened so quick - we'd only been going eight months," marvels Adam. On the strength of some monumental gigs/riots (delete as appropriate) and the visceral punk poetry of demos such as 'Racket', Columbia were as sold on the Wheel as the band's growing horde of disciples. Immediate thoughts are on hitting the road, but even at this early stage, Jonny is looking to the future particularly to recording the album. "I said to the guy that we want it mastered so that it's the loudest album ever, so it will blow the speakers," he recounts. "It'd be great to have someone like Mick Jones producing, another musician, but it's too early to say." Forthcoming single 'She's a Weapon/Big Issue' features two tracks that fans will be very familiar with; two songs that show the trio at

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their raucous best with Jonny's northern wit railing against the clattering wall of sound, like some Fly-esque genetic mix-up between Bob Dylan and Half Man Half Biscuit. Well, like that, but better. Jonny describes his lyrics as "quite street" on many tracks, subtle on others. He's been compared to Jamie T, Johnny Bramwell and Alex Turner - not bad company. But doesn't everybody do this observational schtick these days? What makes Twisted Wheel any different from any other band singing about dodging vomit puddles outside the chippy on a Friday night? "Powerful, soulful, truthful, passionate rock'n'roll," states Jonny. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of the gauntlet being thrown down. Words: Neil Condron www.myspace.com/thetwistedwheel 'She's a Weapon/Big Issue' is out in April on Columbia and play Manchester Club Academy on May 9th

“I’d like even more variety to be honest. I don’t want to play with a rock band every night. I’d play with a solo performer, a hip-hop band, a dude who’s just a DJ, a guy who just sings, a stand-up comedian. I don’t really care as long as it’s interesting. I hate the idea that we’re a band so we have to play with another band.” It seems that nothing can be too different, too new for Chris Keating: one-quarter of Brooklyn’s Yeasayer. In the grimy basement dressing room at the Night & Day with grimier pizza, he talks with hand-waving eagerness about songcraft (“I want clashing, lots of different sounds”), ATP, Manchester, and Thomas Mapfumo. Even bills with Spank Rock, Dirty Projectors and Ipso Facto tonight aren’t varied enough. The same can’t be said for ‘All Hour Cymbals’, Yeasayer’s debut LP, taking inspiration from every hemisphere; melding and moulding their light, fantastic music with heavy ideas from the real world. “I like that balance. I think that pushand-pull is what makes interesting songs, interesting art,” he says. “If it’s a happy song with happy lyrics you kinda know how to take it, but if it’s back and forth – like The Cure or The Smiths – you never really know how to take it. Keeping people on their toes emotionally is good.”

It’s just one of the things about Yeasayer that gets overshadowed by their non-Western influences, which are obviously important, but… Chris: “…it’s not more important than anything else. It’s not more important in any way than The Beatles or The Cure or Roy Orbison was when we working on the record. A lot of Western pop music is very isolated. There’s a lot of music out there and we try and be influenced by more of it” His comments are a reminder that while there are borders to cross, there’s a classic pop heart, big choruses and gospel sing-alongs in Yeasayer, something which is sometimes easy to forget. And when our meeting is over, he runs two steps at a time to the ground floor, out in the world, to hear some more. Words: Stephen Eddie www.yeasayer.net The album ‘All Hour Cymbals’ is out now on Now We Are Free.

Exploding into the public’s consciousness with their guide to modern living, ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip have risen swiftly up the cool stakes in the past twelve months. With a debut album heading our way in May, High Voltage spoke to the owner of arguably the best beard in music, Scroobius Pip, to ask him if he thinks dance music has become more intelligent of late… “I guess so. Strangely, dance music is one of the few genres I was never really into but Dan’s beats just really seemed to transcend the scene and span genres. It was then just a bonus that dance fans accepted us as well as hip-hop heads, indie kids and all sorts of others.” Discovered by XFM’s Jon Kennedy (“We sent him a CD-R and he played it within a few hours. Then we had to start working on more tracks!”), and championed by, well, everyone else too, the duo are hitting the road throughout April. “We’re taking some great bands on tour with us; Gideon Conn, Peggy Sue and the Pirates, Producers with Computers. Like the last tour, we’re making sure that the acts are worth turning up early for so you really get your money’s worth.” Not that getting your money’s worth is ever an issue with these two. For a few weeks over Christmas and New Year, their biting lyrical relevance was free for all, as ‘Letter

From God To Man’, which samples Radiohead’s ‘Planet Telex’, was made available to download from MySpace. “We really wanted it available over Christmas due to the lyrical content. Radiohead have had a meeting and given their approval which means a lot to us.” When asked if he expects his poems to get a little tired by the end of the tour, Pip laughs off any cynicism. “Different reactions to different tracks always make each gig a bit special. Hell, after a recent gig I signed this dude’s hip and a week later he sent a pic showing he had it turned into a tattoo! There’s always a surprise or two…” Words: Megan Vaughan. www.myspace.com/lesacvspip Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip play Manchester’s Club Academy on April 21st

“We would never play an acoustic set,” Owen Holmes (bassist) reveals; this is one confident new band. They self-declare as “smut pop” and take influences from everything from being “raging” liberals to classic bands like The Beatles and The Clash. Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, some members of the band have known each other since birth. “Reggie (Youngblood, vocals/guitar), Kevin (Snow, drums) and I, we met in Sunday school. That was ten, twelve years ago and we played music together ever since. Ali (Youngblood, keyboards/vocals), of course, is Reggie’s sister so their mom made Reggie be in a band with Ali. Then at our first session Ali’s best friend Dawn (Watley, keyboards/vocals) joined too. We had no choice in the matter,” laughs Holmes. Black Kids released a collection of demos onto the internet in the form of EP “Wizard of Ahhhs”, something probed and rather rapidly gobbled up by bloggers worldwide, followed by the music press who were all too keen to dub Black Kids as ‘the next best thing… ever’. “I mean people say it’s a bit excessive, maybe it is. But I think we have great songs to back it up,” says Owen of the hype surrounding the band.

we only have one part of one song that sounds like them. Some people have been saying My Bloody Valentine. It’s really bizarre. They’re a great band, but I don’t see it, unless there’s some My Bloody Valentine record we haven’t heard”. Their sound is extremely catchy, funky, synth infused pop and songs like ‘Hurricane Jane’ have a retro vibe whilst tracks such as ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’ have ultimate dancefloor compatibility. Are they actually the greatest band in the world? Whatever the weather, the future for Black Kids only looks hopeful. Words: Jamila Scott www.myspace.com/blackkidsrock A new version of ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’ is released on April 7th on Almost Gold Recordings.

As is their wont, writers have been pointing out similarities between them and bands such as The Cure and Arcade Fire. “I think The Cure is fair; Reggie sounds a lot like Robert Smith. Arcade Fire though…

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MGMT Now that the debut album, Oracular Spectacular, has followed MGMT’s “mission statement” single, ‘Time To Pretend’ into iPod playlists across the land, High Voltage caught up with one half of the duo, Ben Goldwasser, to talk about living up to hype, and the most appropriate age to take up heroin… HV: Have you felt pressurised after being tipped by Rolling Stone at the end of last year? “Not really. We like our songs and when people say they like our songs too that’s a great compliment. If people start spreading rumours about us or creating this big media spectacle that doesn’t really exist, I

might be a little worried about that. Then I’d feel like we had something to live up to.”

influence because we grew up listening to them, but there are so many other influences on there too.”

planning to move to Paris and take up heroin? Do you have to win a Grammy first?

What with David Fridmann producing the record and the reputation you have for your stage shows, have you found that comparisons with The Flaming Lips have been hard to avoid?

What’s the strangest description of your sound that you’ve heard so far?

“I wanna move to Paris right away! I wanna wait to shoot heroin until I’m like 80 and I’m really arthritic and using it to ease the pain a little bit. I might as well have some fun at that point...”

“Yeah. I honestly don’t think our album sounds that much like The Flaming Lips. I listen to The Flaming Lips a lot but I think that it’s just easy for people to see his name on it and then instantly draw the comparison, overlooking the other sounds that are going on there. I’m sure there is a Flaming Lips

“Oh my God! Oh, there was a really good one in one of those daily newspapers, in Toronto I think. “Hippy something…” I heard our manager refer to it as “electroacoustic”, but I think he was just trying to book us into a respectable hotel…”

Words: Megan Vaughan www.myspace.com/mgmt Oracular Spectacular is out now on Columbia.

Speaking of respectability, ‘Time To Pretend’ is apparently your “mission statement”, so at what point are you

Tapes n’ Tapes Ok, something to admit: HV conducted this interview hanging off the side of the bed, wearing only boxers. Luckily, Tapes ‘n Tapes bassist Erik Appelwick felt comfortable enough to reveal the secrets behind eagerly anticipated new album Walk It Off...but not before he dropped this bombshell: They enjoyed Belgium. "...so we ended up in this small town, having sampled as many Belgian beers as possible, in the middle of this local festival that started at like 4 in the morning and all we see are these groups of people marching, with lots of drummers dressed up in bizarre ancient costumes! Basically a three day drinking binge. It was a great time!"

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Tapes ‘n Tapes are back and with glorious chugging guitars drilled sensually into your head, new single 'Hang Them All' is exactly why you've been missing them, although it’s a song called 'George Michael' that seems to be getting all the attention. Erik explains why: “We keep getting asked about this!" Come on, you can't name a song a song George Michael and not expect it. "I know, well when Josh (Grier) did the demo, he thought the initial guitar part sounded a bit like Faith, so the name kinda stuck!" Aside from the Wham! influence (hmm…Ed) it seems the band wanted a smooth transition from the old to the new: "well the artwork is done by our manager, who also did

the artwork for 'The Loon' and I guess with the colours and the theme, we wanted consistency." It reminds us of The Beatles’ Abbey Road? "Yeah I can see that!”

As ever, it takes a few listens to really pull you in...but when it does...Wham!

Walk It Off was produced by Dave Fridmann (Mogwai, Mercury Rev) and they’ve achieved an album as neurotic and angst ridden as expected. No longer the epitome of DIY indie, this time around they enjoyed a plush recording studio and living space hidden away from the world.

Single 'Hang Them All' is out 31st March, album 'Walk It Off' follows on April 7th on XL.

Words: Phil Daker www.tapesntapes.com

"It allowed us to focus, no distractions, even get a piece of zen or whatever, you could take a walk outside and see 3 acres of forest"

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THE WHIP

Future _heads

_X MARKS It may seem like they’ve been around for as long as you’ve been even faintly interested in massive dance-floor fillers and awesome live shows but Manchester’s The Whip are only just about to release their debut album. Dedicated as ever to the newest news, we thought we’d squeeze in just ahead of that to see how Bruce, Danny, Nathan and Fi are preparing for the grand unveiling of X Marks Destination...

“We’ve got a proper headline UK tour in May, but we’re doing a big stint around Europe beforehand. Same as ever really – a lot of live shows.”

HV: So, how are you guys feeling about the album?

Fresh meat? Already?

“Well, nothing mental or anything, but we’d love to get some massive fuck-off pyros in one day! We’re also trying to make sure we manage to play some of our remixes live too.”

“Yeah – in fact, we really want to get another album out for next year!”

You’ve been getting a fair few remixes out recently (Asobi Seksu, Black Ghosts, Editors).

Steady on – what’s the rush?

“It’s a really important part of what we do and we’ve been loving it recently – it’s been a break from writing before we settle into doing the second album.”

Bruce: “Oh, just so excited to be getting it out there at last. It’s taken a while and we’ve been grafting but it’s here now and we’re well pleased. It’s really interesting to hear how we’ve moved on just in the space of one album. Like, ‘Fire’ is a rehash of one of our oldest songs and now it’s one of the best things we’ve done. In fact, now it’s done we’re already looking forward to fresh meat.”

“There’s no rush, it’s just that we’ve had some of these songs around for a good few years now and we already think we know the kind of direction we want to take our sound. It’s going to be even dancier, more beat driven. We’ll be hanging on to the melodies though, for sure.” OK, well bringing you back to the present, what’ve you got coming up?

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We know that playing live is something that you do a lot of how come? “It’s just something we love; it’s what it’s all about for us. It’s the best bit about being in a band by miles. We’re playing a lot of clubs at the moment, a live set between DJs and it’s kind of refreshing to give clubbers a live experience like us.” So is that where you’re most at home, interrupting sets at Gatecrasher?

process, explains Barry, was much more laid back.

“Oh, we’re total chameleons. We don’t really have a particularly strong allegiance towards one thing or another; we don’t have to pick between dance and rock, we play the indie nights and we love it and the crowds seem to like us but we’re just as comfortable in the clubs. We’re comfortable pretty much anywhere really – except the drum ‘n’ bass room.” Any big plans for the upcoming shows?

And how do they come about? “Everywhere! We get requests on Myspace, sometimes our manager comes to us with tracks, and sometimes it’s just people we know. It’s good to get that range of music though; we can try stuff we wouldn’t ordinarily.”

So does it feel like this year is it for The Whip? “I hope so – it’s been a slog at times to get where we are and we’ve had to make a few decisions along the way which have held us up, but it’ll be nice to get our music out to people.” Is that a hard thing to do?

“There’s so much music that people don’t listen to. I mean, look at The Brits – there’s so much going on they don’t even know about, so much good stuff, but you get these rooms full of suits and...I don’t know. It’s a bit sad what they don’t get to hear.”

Well, there’s a good chance that 2008 is when the world get to really know what The Whip are about – ahead of their headline slot at Manchester’s Warehouse Project on Good Friday, the band have travelled out to Texas’ SXSW festival to give the assembled throng a lesson in what it means to be ‘Trash’. Be very surprised if there aren’t a few more clued-up ‘suits’ by the time they return. Words: Adrian Barrowdale www.thewhip.net Single ‘Trash’ and album ‘X Marks Destination’ are out now. The Whip play Manchester Academy 3 on May 22nd.

"The recording process on this one was much quicker than the other albums. We didn't spend too much time over-thinking songs and overcomplicating things. We just got them down. We recorded 20 songs in 16 days and we wrote 11 of them while we were there. We just kind of bashed it out, you know. The album just sounds very vital. It's very immediate and it works well live. That's the main concern, that it kicks ass live. "Youth brought something quite influential to us. It's a very direct album; it goes straight for the jugular. It's like being kicked in the head with a size 11."

It's hard to believe The Futureheads have been around eight years, but since their humble beginnings practicing in guitarist Barry Hyde's garage, the four-piece are now gearing up to release third album 'This is Not the World'. Due for release in May, the record marks a distinct change for the lads. Not only was it recorded in just 16 days in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia, but it's being released independently on the band's own label, Nul Records. It's a brave decision for Sunderland's finest, but if all goes to plan they'll be laughing.

Splitting from former label 679 in late 2006, the pop-punk foursome have high hopes for the future and are loving being their own bosses. "If we can manage to do this," explains Barry, "we'll be the first band ever to fully release an album independently, without any help from record labels. "We've always been in complete creative control with labels but it's good to be in complete business control now. We're not getting exploited any more, unlike any other band you may care to mention. "If we can manage to do this it'll be something we'll be incredibly proud of. The response we've had so far for the first single ['The Beginning Of The Twist'] has been easily the most successful radio and crowd response.” Produced by Youth at his studio, Space Mountain, the recording

Promoting their new material with a number of university gigs, Barry says their recent Jack Daniel'sorganised Manchester date was a particular highlight. "It was really good," continues Barry, "Surprisingly good really because sometimes corporate gigs can have a bit of a bad atmosphere. But I guess that's because everyone in the audience was allowed free Jack Daniels!" The Futureheads, though, keep drinking to a minimum as well as being strict vegetarians. A previous interview with Ross Millard (the band's guitarist and vocalist), revealed that the band rely on "seeds and exercise" to maintain energy levels on tour. You learn something new every day eh? As for future plans, Futureheads want nothing more than to get back out there and do some serious gigging.

proper European tours" says Barry. "We're doing loads of fezzies this year like V Festival and Glastonbury. It's good to know that we're going to be really busy this year."

Their Glasto set will be their second in their eight-year career. Back in 2005, the band made their Glasto debut on Barry's birthday. “That was a fantastic gig, like," remembers Barry; "it was just when everything was kicking off for us and had a really good time out there. It was just totally amazing buzz. Festival gigs are funny ones. I really think that they sort out the wheat from the chaff, because you don't get a sound-check and it's fairly unfamiliar. "The kind of amateur bands will struggle at a festival because they're so out of their comfort zone it freaks them out. But if you can do a successful festival show it directly affects your record sales and your career." For the time being though, the guys are just thrilled to be back on the scene. "It's a very simple life being a musician. You make an album and then ultimately you just play the album and play gigs. We're really looking forward to getting it out there and hitting the road. We've been really psyched about the gigs and the album. We're just really glad that people still give a shit about us." Words: Lauren Holden www.thefutureheads.co.uk ’Beginning of the Twist’ is out now on Nul Recordings

"We'd love to get back out to Japan, Australia and do some

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STARS _WE GROW ON _YOU LIKE MOULD

Heading to the Roadhouse to meet Brighton's South Central, all HV can think of is that violent synth-loop that bullies its way through single 'Golden Dawn'. We get flashbacks to when we last saw them live, their heads butting menacingly from beneath black hoodies like some kind of uber-scally experiment gone violently wrong. And just now, their tour manager has informed us by text that he'll be sitting "with the sullen lot" in the corner. This is not going to be fun.

"We've got a lot of respect for him - he was the one who brought the dance and indie thing together,"

And yet, sitting with the most important two-fifths of South Central, HV can't help but be surprised. Surprised that Rob and Keith are actually from Malta. Surprised that they're not in the least bit moody. Delighted that they're so happy to be back in Manchester, where they most recently played D:Percussion ("We are proud to have played the last one," says Keith, solemnly) and In The City, at which they had a few kind words to say for the festival's founder, the late Tony Wilson.

"The thing is, we're both," says Rob, the group's singer and keyboardist. That helps. "We want to make indie music influenced by electronica," expands Keith. "It's taken us a long time, but we're getting there. We came finally across it in the process of making Golden Dawn".

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says Keith, SC's knob-twiddler-inchief, perhaps touching on the key to 'getting' his own group in the process. As a remix duo, South Central are sonic vandals, spraying nausea-inducing neon noise over indie tracks until either a) they're arrested; or b) the glorious mess is completed, whichever comes first. Meanwhile, they're equally at home DJing, converting house crowds to their non-minimal aesthetic as they are making the indie kids dance. But as a band - for South Central are very much that - they owe as much to The Fall as they do to Daft Punk. Their tastes range from Chapterhouse to the Happy Mondays, from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Bauhaus. So what gives? Is this dance or is it rock?

"We always wanted to do the live thing, for the music to be played live," continues Rob. "The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk - they're the masters of twiddling knobs. You can't do that again. This is the next stage." It seems the performance aspect is crucial to their enjoyment of playing live. Rob laughs that "nowadays you can just get away with pressing play", but that's not a trick you'd ever see South Central pulling. "I think 100 per cent that you need that big old analogue synth sound," he insists. Not that any of this needs explaining - just witnessing one of the band's gigs is enough to prove that this isn't just another case of two blokes nodding their heads behind a mixing desk. Eddie Temple Morris called them "the English Justice" (try Maltese, Eddie) but, as flattering a comparison as that may be, it's also rather limiting. The French boys, for example, don't have anybody as fancy as Gary Numan on their debut. "He'll be the only guest vocalist on the album," gushes Keith. "We were working on this track - one of the first that we wrote as South Central, and it reminded us of his old style." At this point Rob seems

to regress back to a happier, less complicated time... "We've listened to him since we were kids - I can remember hearing his music, while my mum mopped the floor," he reminisces, going gaga over Numan like Vince Noir without the glam-rock ski suit. "When we were making this track, we said to our manager, “aah, it would be great to work with Gary Numan” - and he sent it! We didn't expect him to do it - it took him about a year, but it was worth the wait." That track is likely to be a single, but will be held back from a retrospective compilation South Central are releasing in France and Japan. In the meantime, the pair will be continuing work on a complete, proper long player. "We're laying off the remixing as we want to concentrate on the album," Rob explains. "And when I say that, I don't mean that we're actually doing nothing!" So, if there's a message to take from any of this, it's not to judge a band by its hoodies. Or its MySpace page, its tour manager or even its music. Sometimes good guys don't wear white. Words: Neil Condron

Stars, Broken Social Scene...and a successful solo artist: High Voltage was lucky enough to get lost down a gloomy staircase with the beautiful Amy Millan, now in the middle of a world tour to promote her incredible new album In Our Bedroom After The War. "…erm I think I might have taken us the wrong way!" Amy laughs. As we randomly open doors to find Academy 3's backstage area, Amy delights in showing us Stars’ poor excuse for a rider. "What is this?!" as she waves some cheap Bolognese sauce in HV’s face. HV: So how is the tour going? AM: "I love waking up and not knowing what I’ll see outside my window, its such an adventure...but it can be exhausting when your going back to the same places. Like, playing Birmingham barfly 3 times; now that’s a drag. I mean fucking Birmingham god-damn Barfly!" And how do you cope being the only girl on a bus full of men (with Torquil, Evan, Pat and Chris)?

"Guys are not very complicated; what with the booze and the jokes it’s hilarious. If it was 5 girls, think of the menstruation, the PMT vibes!" Have you thought about forming a girl-group with Emily (Haines) and Leslie (Feist)? "We've talked about it! It’s got to be on the horizon but we just don't have any time; and Leslie is so famous now! She got nominated for a fucking Brit Award!" Your fantastic solo album 'Honey from the Tombs' was a long time in the making, having wrote the majority of the songs before you joined Stars: How’s the new one coming along? Do you have a title yet?

“(noticing our tactics to sneak a little exclusive) Ooh I was almost going to give it up! I just feel like its too soon. I have about 8 songs ready to go, I just don't get anytime to be by myself at the moment. When I write I have to be completely by myself – just my guitar and a joint!"

And how does song writing differ for Stars. Do you and Torquil share lyrics? "Well Torquil writes very quickly, and I much slower. He lives in Vancouver, away from the rest of the band, so writing the duets can be difficult. I just felt towards the end of the recording, something was missing, which is why I wrote the last single Midnight Coward. The duets are one of our strengths, it’s such a great chemistry." Torquil's childhood was spent in Sheffield: what impact has England had on his life? "He moved to Canada when he was 8 and I think he has this real melancholy for England, you know, he's terrible with change! And I think he kinda felt misplaced in Canada. I don't think any child wants to be uprooted. He's always had such a strong and real connection to England" We mention that Torquil often reminds us of Morrissey: the way he pronounces his words, in his witty lyrics, his onstage antics (throwing flowers into the crowd)...his ego?

and that’s why when people review our records they say “totally embarrassed to love these guys” and “Stars are the band you only put on when your roommates are not around”. That’s ok - I like it. Stars are often written off at the first listen. You have to spend some time with us; we grow on you like mould.” And next? Another remix album? "No we won't do the same thing, its gets boring! I think we're going to make a little EP, we have some old songs floating around...” Words: Philip Daker www.myspace.com/stars In Our Bedroom After The War is out now on Arts and Craft.

"Oh definitely: I remember hearing him play The Smiths for the first time, when we were driving on the way to Sheffield, and he was just weeping and getting totally sentimental about it. I think it’s good because with Morrissey, it’s either this big obsession or a deep hatred for him. And I think Torq is kind of that same character; he's difficult so he can relate" And Stars? Why are you either loved or hated? "We're living in a time that likes shoegazing and irony, and I think we're not cool! We're not angular, we're round-cornered and we totally have our heart on our sleeve. Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) said “opinions are bullets” and I said “opinions are like your parents, everyone’s got a couple”

www.myspace.com/southcentralmu sic South Central play Manchester Academy 3 on May 22nd, supporting The Whip.

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They are two of the most highly sought-after producers today, with Ford having masterminded awardwinning albums from Arctic Monkeys and Klaxons. Their own album Attack Decay Sustain Release featured at the top end of every 2007 chart, whilst the pair themselves were named Mixmag's 'Breakthrough DJs of the Year'. This year, James and Jas have found themselves next in line to Tom and Ed's album-dance throne. It's a promise curiously echoed by the fact that both duos are former students of The University of Manchester.

How does that inform your approach to DJing?

What was the aim with the tour's Clock EP?

"I think with the DJing it was easier to get into compared with being in a band; once you've got your tunes and got a bit past the technical side of it. If we're having a tour party then you can just turn up with a box of records and have an amazing time. Plus we've learnt to read crowds, which is an important thing and it's something we've tried to put into our live show."

"In a way it was just rounding off the album. It was bits left over from the album's making but we wanted to get them out because there are some good tracks there. It finishes off that chapter and now we can move on. They're less upfront party tracks, and I think towards the end of the album we were writing slightly different, more melodic tracks. That's a side we want to explore more."

How important is it that SMD has a live show?

Are you keen to get working on new material?

So here it began, and from a major label career with electronic-indie-pop quartet Simian, James and Jas would defect to become indie/dance crossovers in a literal sense. Who knew then that a remix competition for Simian single 'Never Be Alone' would be the catalyst after a couple of chancers by the name of Justice had a go and didn’t win? It's funny how things work out sometimes. Now, Simian Mobile Disco have the dance world at their moving feet. Europe to Japan; basements to festivals; Benicassim, Fabric and unforgettably, High Voltage. We spoke to James Ford.

"I think it's important to do both, because DJing was how it all started really. But I think when we decided to do a live show we wanted to make it really live rather than playing to backing like a lot of electronic acts do. We wanted it so it was sound being played as a proper live experience, so we worked pretty hard getting it all together."

"Definitely. That's the most frustrating thing at the minute because we're very busy with touring and producing other bands. And DJing. We've literally not had enough time to think about it really. We've loads of ideas though. Laptops full. Nothing will get finished off though until we're holed away with the gear and can talk over it together."

Live, Simian Mobile Disco are intense. HV patrons will know as much from our hosting them at Music Box last spring. Accelerating out of their album's pop edits, the duo's dynamic creates a spiralling momentum of post-acid buzzes and bleeps before breaking down into dancefloor destroyers like 'Tits & Acid' and 'Hustler'. Past the vertical technicolor striplights burning all around them, Jas and James work daunting-looking electrical equipment. They look like rave switchboard operators; bouncing around a circular table with hardened faces of concentration.

Is the next record going to be a conscious change in direction?

HV: Describe Simian Mobile Disco's 2007. "Hectic. But a lot of fun. It's been non-stop." Back with Simian, some eight years ago, could you have imagined you'd have ended up where you are now?

Flashback to an hour before The Chemical Brothers unleash their phenomenal live show in Manchester six months ago and Simian Mobile Disco have already got the party pumping. Starting with the strobe-lit rumble of 'Sleep Deprivation', it came as no surprise at the end of a year that saw James Ford and Jas Shaw shake things up across the musical spectrum.

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"Not really. I've always known I'd be doing music in some form or another, but Simian Mobile Disco has been accidental in a way. We were in a band, then we were DJing and then it just snowballed into this really. It wasn’t following a plan." Did you feel like outsiders at all? "I think the fact that we weren’t trying to do anything in particular and were just being light-hearted was part of what's made it work. There was a definite naivety when we were first making tunes. We weren’t purposefully trying to mix styles or anything like that. We were literally trying to just make good dance music. There's an energy to dance music that's not particularly cerebral. Well it can be, but I think the best tracks achieve a real physical energy. Drumming obviously has a lot to do with rhythm, so I suppose for a drummer like myself dance music can hold instant appeal."

"That came about for practical reasons. What we do is fairly freestyle so we needed to be able to see each other in order to do stuff on the nod, and move around to use all the different bits of gear. There are lots of sections where we're just making it up as we go along. It's kind of important to us to have it that way because we need to keep it exciting for us as well." How much of a party does it get for SMD on the road?

"It does get pretty mad, but you can't keep it up. At the moment for us it's not particularly wild but we're having a great time just playing great gigs. You know, it's not always cocaine parties. I suppose it is quite cerebral really but you do what you enjoy, and for me, I don’t like getting hammered every day."

"I think we're going to do it in a different place but we haven’t got a plan to do it different on purpose – it'll just come out that way because of the tunes we're wanting to make at the moment. We've no idea what it'll be like though until we've tried a few routes out and see what we like." How well do the pair of you work together?

"We've known each other long enough to not be too precious about our ideas. There are a lot of electronic duos for a reason. Finding a person you trust and respect is really great because it's what you need – you get the benefit of your own input but also of having another personality about."

SMD is great. It's all about lots of different ideas that feed back into each other." Will 2008 have surprises in store for SMD? "You can never tell. The second record is going to be really important for us, so we've got to make a great follow-up album and then just take it from there. Most of the year is already planned out. I'm pretty much busy til December. Once again, it's going to be hectic but fun." Flashback to Academy 3 last February. The Whip have just finished their support slot and the crowd is wired. Jas fires up his monolithic synth modulator and the chimes of a technotronic riff bounce off the walls. On the outskirts of the sweaty epicentre at the front, a bloke older than HV’s dad is jackin' by the speakers.

"It didn’t used to be like this you know," he shouts into HV's ringing ears. "It didn’t used to be this good." Purists might disagree, but we're not particularly arsed. Drugs might not be the same and we might not be trawling the M25 in search of the next party, but then for the first time it is actually one hundred percent about the music. With this regular dance detox, we've never been better. Having a bit of SMD in your life is essential. "There's a lot of rushing around in people's lives and in the end it just gets you into a corner," observes James. "We're about not over-thinking stuff and doing what seems right at the time. Doing what's enjoyable." That's a philosophy we wouldn’t argue with. Words: Fran Donnelly www.simianmobiledisco.co.uk Simian Mobile Disco DJ at Bugged Out in Manchester on April 11th

Yeah but it must get annoying sometimes. What are Jas' bad habits? "That's a hard one. Perhaps he focuses too much on the minor details. He does geek out on them a bit." With touring, DJing, remixing and producing, don't you feel you've a bit much on your plate sometimes? "Yeah absolutely! But it's all fun stuff to do, you can't complain. The only other option is to slim it all down and concentrate on one thing, but I like having options and fingers in pies cos it keeps me fresh. To be able to work on productions with other people and then come back and do

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singles Robyn - Who's That Girl? (Konichiwa)

Single of the month Twisted Wheel - She's A Weapon (Columbia) After an onslaught of mental local live shows, Twisted Wheel are ready to get going big time. The Oldham trio have always fully felt like something to fully believe in, but how does they sound without the five hundred strong crowd chorus backing? 'She's A Weapon' is a tight and rapid firecracker of White Riot Clash and The Fall's early bile. Twisted Wheel are your scummy and streamlined detox to remedy bloated Courteener songsmith weariness. Back to basics, they stomp out two-

Midnight Juggernauts Shadows (Charisma) Like DFA hedonists Hercules And Love Affair, Midnight Juggernauts are the 21st century sound of disco decadance, with the emphasis on dance. These Australian musical magicians

Cats in Paris Foxes/Terrapins (aA recordings) The physical format of this debut release will come out on pink 7” vinyl, no less. It’s a deceptive veneer for this five-minute blast of prog-psychotic disco darkness. This is mini-epic synth pop with a pulse, complete with sinister streak. A-side

Hush The Many (Heed The Few) – Revolve Bands can often be judged in terms of their artwork, and never has this been more the case than with HTMHTF's single release for 'Revolve' and the individually hand sewn CD case of finest calico, emblazoned with hand written printed logo and flower effect. It even smells like folk music should smell; all natural fabrics and dampness. Wonderful!

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If you happened to pick up Robyn's new single 'Who's That Girl' you'd be forgiven for thinking (format irregularities aside) that it was in fact 1987 and you were looking at the latest Madonna release. Listening to it wouldn't entirely rid you of that belief either. Breathy vocals and latin-esque beats abound throughout

minute rattlers to pin to the back of your head and channel through your pogo-ing legs at the knees-up. 'Big Issue' is the sweaty essence of this and is about as cerebral as the style of a Lancastrian footy team, albeit a lot better to watch. Saving Twisted Wheel is the fact they keep things critically simple and peddle a mean core of raw casuals punk. Job done, no fucking nonsense.

Ungdomskulen - Modern Drummer (Ever) No cruel jokes, please, but the new single from Ungdomskulen is a tribute to those much maligned band members: humble drummers. With 'Modern Drummer' the men from Bergen are on erratic form, a wry and humorous take with sarcasm as sharp as sticks wrapped in barbed wire.

Fran Donnelly

and pure pleasure seekers are enchanted by the European style of Epicurean electronica, the style pioneered by Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder's productions of Donna Summer.

erotic vocals, glitterball synths and a four to the floor bass drum heartbeat, a soulful soundtrack to take drugs and make love from sunset to sunrise.

And as with all of the finest floorfillers, 'Shadows' is a musical illusion of the most marvellous simplicity: Elegant

Benjamin Thomas

‘Foxes’ comes with pots n’ pans percussion, but the bouncing charm comes in alternate bursts with bad-trip meltdown as the record surges through several surreal changes of tempo. Vocally psychotic, things get increasingly ugly as the drama heightens during the hunt. With crossdressing con-artistry feeding the central paranoia, this is total recoil, neck deep in conspiracy theory.

Buy it for the flip-side! An irresistible instrumental saving-grace, ‘Terrapins’ is a synth/sleigh-bell oddity that suddenly seems to fall melody-first down a sonic spiral staircase before landing in a gravity free sea of gorgeous Prozacinspired kitsch.

As for the music 'Revolve' sounds like a less experimental version of Lightspeed Champion, complete with background female vocalist and crashing, nerve tingling chorus. "We'll spit our sparks with purpose they'll force cracks they're breaking lines," wails our duo in sweet enough, self conscious tones to maintain the disturbed paranoiac element whilst hinting throughout towards the grandiose.

In fact, by the end of the song you're wondering if this wasn't actually Embrace masquerading as a whimsical folk act all along as after a seconds pause we're launched into perfectly orchestrated indie power ballad territory. As first singles go, this is strong stuff.

Michael Roberts

Andrew Porter

Tokyo Police Club – Tesselate (Memphis) 'Tesselate' is the precursor to forthcoming album Elephant Shell from Candadian art-rockers Tokyo Police Club. Following their successful EP's 'Life in Crime' and 'Smith', this single is a taster for the new record; however it does not create as much excitement as one would expect.

and if you squint you can just about imagine a perfect DJ segue into 'A Little Prayer'. But of course this is 2008 and we're talking about the latest release from Robyn aka The Princess of Scando-pop it's ok for indie kids to like (for some reason). 'Who's That Girl' is as good a pop record as you're likely to hear in 2008 and is bound to continue Robyn's relentless assault on the European

A serious riff is picked out on guitar and bass, drawn from the stadium with a quasi-retro simplicity, flicking and shimmering the way on the fringe of seriousness. There is so much of an indie-funk centre and sense of fey afterthought, Johnny Borrell can be supposed thinking twice before listening again.

charts. And we should be grateful that Simon Cowell and his smarmy grin are nowhere to be seen. Wonders may never cease.

Chris Horner

hint of credibility to stamp it to death. Now, it's too tempting to avoid... but have you heard the one about the drummer and the alarm clock?

Liam Pennington

The rolling, raucous opening is all very reckless and spirited, but the step to a heavier wig out sidesteps over to any

This single seems to have gone astray resulting in a tamer version of previous outfits. Tesselate lacks their trademark enthusiasm and experimentation, resulting in a toned down account with lyrics verging on the soppy side, and a piano line which while uplifting doesn't quite fit with the song.

Strokes who they are frequently compared to. While this track is lacking TPC's signature sound, fans will have to wait to see if the album lives up to previous efforts.

Sarah Boardman

This is by no means however a bad song; it is just more in the vein of The Weakerthans as opposed to The

Lightspeed Champion Galaxy of the Lost (Domino)

unusual yet simple use of violins proves the track to be unique, breaking away from its contemporaries.

Lightspeed Champion have still yet to portray a fully grown confidence in their presence both live and on record, however their natural ability to produce beautifully crafted songs is undeniable and it's this humble modesty which makes their music so endearing.

It appears that a solo route is something that suits ex-Test Icicle Dev perfectly and his style couldn't be further from his musical past. The vocals within the track are delivered with an envious ease, dripping with sophistication and sultry charm. A quirky lyrical content teamed with an

The ever changing pace throughout the track prevents it from becoming yet another 'new folk' song showing that Dev has quickly and efficaciously established his own style, a brave move and one which has avoided his career being tarnished with the Test Icicle label.

Lucy and the Caterpillar – Lucy’s Opinion

comfortably at the table of folk fancy and a nostalgic force with her affectionately named guitar.

themselves; thankfully not overpowered and with an air of openness.

It seems there are a myriad of whimsical female singer-songwriters around at the moment. Laura Marling claims the prize for heartfelt depth and Emmy The Great manages quirky irony. So where does that leave Lucy and the Caterpillar? On par indeed with any of the above; most definitely sitting

It takes until after the first verse for the vocals to settle in but from then on out they are stridently good and defiantly show a quintessential British-ness. Rolling guitars and violins complement the often sublime vocals and the reflective lyrics are allowed to voice

Unimposing music which has insight and an edge of settling down for story-time it is folksy without being irritating and steeped in nostalgic notions. Simply rather lovely.

Hannah Clark

Jade French

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albums Album of the month The Long Blondes – Couples (Rough Trade) Clinic - Do It! (Domino)

Last year, Clinic cleared house with rarities collection, Funf. As underwhelming as it is, it could prove to be the band's most significant statement, as their fifth studio album, Do It! sees Clinic make their first steps forward since their classic debut, Internal Wrangler. Do It! eschews the scratchy D.I.Y. aesthetic that has atrophied Clinic's career over the last three albums and goes for a pin-sharp production style, but most importantly, the Liverpudlians have knuckled down on the songwriting front, making Do It! their most immediately likeable album in eight years.

It is rarely a negative in life to be reminded of happier times; of early Lush and Magnetic Fields, flashbacks to riot girls and the earliest green shoots of grunge. Whether or not they realised the extent to which their albums encourage nostalgia, The Breeders, with 'Mountain Battles' the first release in over six years, storm back with a gloriously riotous return to form.

The Breeders Mountain Battles (4AD)

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From the reverse guitar psychedelia in powerful opener 'Overglazed', with its undertones of clubnight pills and Britpop thrills, the first taste of this album provides only the slightest clue of

Clinic haven't lost any of the idiosyncrasies that have formed their sound since inception, but their quirks no longer overpower the songs. This is clear from the outset with the fractured psychpunk-stomp, 'Memories', which alternates between Nuggets fuzz and eerie prog-pop melodic interludes, but the transition never jars, serving the overall feel of playful schizophrenia. Elsewhere, 'Emotions' is a woozy dreamboat sway that Johnny Ray would have been proud of, 'The Witch' is the closest they've come to the spirit of The Monks without aping them outright, while the overdriven sax and violence whirlwind of 'Shopping Bag' is thrillingly bracing.

the feminine feast dripping off the thirteen tracks. Their renowned power of melodic persuasion, through the darkly sweet 'German Studies' or 'Walk It Off', will floor you very easily. Arguing with the offbeat charm of Kim Deal is not encouraged, packing very tightly as she does so much punch in tracks barely hitting two-minutes-fifty. In a gutsy collection of tracks, the distorted bass and hand-clap combinations are on a fast-track route to your soul. Resistance is a struggle, and both history books and heaven know the difficulty in keeping from the

Ade Blackburn's tortured sneer is as simultaneously malevolent and vulnerable as it's ever been and on 'Free Not Free' channels an eloquent grace not tapped since 'Distortions'. All of which makes Do It! Clinic's best fulllength since their first and quite possibly their best full stop. What a pleasant surprise.

James Morton

Adem – Takes (Domino)

Forget everything you thought you knew about The Long Blondes; from the opening synth drone that ushers in the title track it's immediately clear that new album Couples exists on a whole other plane from the bands previous forays into Morrissey meets Cilla Black indie-pop. The band have even ousted Steve Mackay from the mixing desk in favour of exTrash demigod Erol Alkan, but don't get it confused; this is still very much the sound of Sheffield, albeit closer in spirit to the camp bedsit sleaze of Soft Cell and The Human League than the kitchen sink vignettes of their previously beloved Pulp.

It's a change of direction certainly, but whether it's one for the better is debatable. The devoted will undoubtedly cite Couples as marking The Long Blondes' evolution to a bonafide albums band; the more cynical might be inclined to ask "where's the tunes?" Indeed, coming as it does from a band of ardent singles fetishists, Couples falls notably short on material as immediate as 'Giddy Stratospheres', 'Separated By Motorways' et al. On the plus side lyrically the record marks a big step forward; Kate Jackson's tales of jaded relationship ennui and infidelity resonate with far more world weary authenticity than

her second hand Sheelagh Delaneyisms of old.

The best you can hope for with a covers album is to throw some of yourself in the mix. People are going to gripe about how certain songs aren't a patch on the original, while others may well want your head on a pike for what they've done to their precious thing. I don't know why people bother to be honest.

exception of PJ Harvey, Aphex Twin, Bjork and Smashing Pumpkins, there aren't any artists he's picked that the average man on the street would be aware of.

Surprisingly, the most successful interpretation here is that of Aphex Twin's 'To Cure A Weakling Child' (with music cribbed from 'Girl/Boy Song'), which attains a level of Byzantine grace worthy of Richard D. James' more intimate moments. I'm still unsure as to why artists bother with cover albums, but at its best, Takes offers forth as strong a case for the defence that I've heard in some time.

Adem starts out with good intentions on Takes by choosing to cover songs released between 1991 and 2001. At least with this timeframe he's body-swerved anything we're too familiar with. Also, he's chosen to avoid too many sacred cows; with the

Always could have gone either way this one, and things sounded promising from the off when 'New Boy In Town' opens fresh and neat. But whilst Cazals have knocked out halfdecent, faintly angular indie-pop before now, they were always capable of far worse.

brain such songs. Taken in isolation, 'Mountain Battles' restores personal faith in old hands turning up new tricks.

Liam Pennington

Cazals - What Of Our Future (Kitsune)

You see, there's a difference between playfulness and substanceless conceit. There's a smugness in covering Spandau Ballet and thinking you're above "faceless guitar bands" when you're really not. 'Comfortable Silence' stutters annoyingly before a pretentious minute of quiet, and then there's plain rubbish moments like 'Somebody Somewhere' reminding you that at the end of this album,

Most importantly, Adem transposes a lot of his charm and ear for intricate arrangements onto the assembled, making them his own for the most part. There are misfires here and there; dEUS' 'Hotellounge' lacks the modern rock poise of the original and his take on 'Unravel' by Bjork just doesn't match the Homogenic version for bewitching otherworldliness (but then again, what does?).

you're never going to be totally happy about coming back to it. What Of Our Future sounds like an opportunity missed by some way when you hear 'Both Sides', the side of Cazals that can interest with gathering momentum, scratchy guitars and New Wave aesthetics. The highlight, the uncomplicated and untidy 'Poor Innocent Boys' is still a fine example of skinniness that made Cazals worthy of attention two years ago, but then 'We're Just The Same' ends up being more reminiscent of the Kaiser Chiefs' current output.

Ultimately though for all its wordy promise Couples is an album which can't quite deliver musically. Despite their commendable forays into more experimental waters, the band ultimately lack the flair, and more worryingly the previously present pop suss, to successfully match the assured sophistication of the lyrics.

Billy Idle

James Morton

band is opening for Daft Punk on the world's most exciting label. For how long they remain Kitsune's pet project we'll see, but in the meantime, Cazals shape up to be a band sadly made for the downloading generation – inattentive, impatient and shallow.

Fran Donnelly

Which is why Cazals' path to fame is baffling. This album is ultimately daytime Radio One fodder and yet the

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gigs It's easy to see the drawbacks to downloading with no sense of pride in your collection any more and the entire MDF shelving industry going under. Let's hear it for Laura Marling then, who has counteracted this devaluation effect by offering a limited version of debut album Alas I Cannot Swim, which contains all sorts of promotional goodies, not least a ticket for one of Marling's shows on this tour.

Gig of the month

The Presets

The Whip / The Presets Warehouse Project, 21/3/08

The Sydney-based electro duo of The Presets may have gotten off to a slower start than usual but that's more a reflection on the soon-to-be-thickerbut-still-quite-thin crowd who have managed to drag themselves to the WHP on time. It's certainly nothing to bother Julian and Kim who get their heads down and set about giving Manchester's dancers the perfect warm-up for local heroes The Whip. When Danny, Bruce, Fii and Nathan take to the stage, the sense of relief is almost overwhelming. Their debut album may only be a few days from release and suffering a little at the hands of reviewers, but back here in

front of the devoted and numerous faithful, they're reinstalled as the Kings (and Queen) of Clubland and justice is restored. It's a timely reminder of just how wrong it would be to dismiss the awesome power of the live Whip 'Sister Siam' and 'Fire' are dependably massive and the smile on Bruce's face when every song is greeted with a cheer is as huge as the mark-up on the beer. The crowd has swelled to its rightful capacity and there isn't a single pair of shoes under Piccadilly arches that doesn't leave the ground during a thunderous 'Trash'.

The critics haven't got it all wrong beats are occasionally basic and tunes stray towards the cheesy, but to denigrate the masterful mix of adrenalin and disco and, more importantly, the fun that they bring to any party is to utterly miss the point. There are more inventive, more wildly diverse acts out there, but if there's a better band for tapping a dance vein and bleeding it dry, they're hiding very, very well.

Laura Marling / Johnny Flynn Academy 2, 8/3/08

Starting with a flurry of sparky melodies, Oxford upstarts Foals entice the crowd into a bouncing mess of excitement tempered by Yannis Philippakis' deadpan response; "Okay, that was our soundcheck…"

Adrian Barrowdale

Foals - Photo: Rachael Burns

Foals / Youthmovies Academy 2, 11/3/08

Seattle raised trio The Cave Singers, all flannel shirts and beard toting - rather like tonight's headliners and much of their home town - might easily blend in with the majority of the attendees all too easily this evening but their progressive folk-tinged Alt.country songs are anything but pedestrian.

Band Of Horses / The Cave Singers Academy 2, 24/2/08

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Showcasing tracks from their recently unleashed fine debut, Invitation Songs, frontman Pete Quirk's shrill, nasal vocal approach can't fail to grab your ear, contrasting the ethereal acoustic charm of subtle charmers 'Seeds of Night', 'Helen' and 'Cold Eye'.

Boasting former Pretty Girls Make Graves and Murder City Devils bassist Derek Fudesco in their line-up, here curbing his usual brooding sonic tantrums for some refined nylon-string picking, whilst sounding just as vital in his new surroundings as with previous short-lived outfits. But whilst the atmosphere for the openers is one of respectful quiet, by the time all six members of Band Of Horses arrive on stage the impending drudgery of Monday morning appears to have already set in with the crowds, with little of the groups upbeat energy reciprocated (minus the moronelements punctuating ye-haw's).

Predictably it's numbers such as early favourite 'The Funeral', a delicate reading of 'No One's Gonna Love You' and previous single 'Is There a Ghost' that receive the loudest murmurs, as they alternate between southern-rock stomps and tender grandeur. But despite the distinctly subdued atmosphere this evening, Ben Bridwell and co.'s basic rural set up are capable of producing many moments of greatness.

Mike Caulfield

Opening tonight's show are Planet Earth, who are twee in all the right places, and make witty allusions to Carphone Warehouse in their lyrics, but who are sold distinctly short by a lead singer who sounds like Sharon Osbourne when she talks to her dogs.

Foals are the nu-ravers it is acceptable to form mosh-circles for, which happens with increasing ferocity during a rapid, busy set. The pulsating favourite 'Cassius' sees Yannis and guitarists Jimmy and Walter circling the stage, tempting as many of the striped-hoodie wearing fraternity as they could with flirtatious manoeuvres towards the raised hands and flinging bodies. Tremors pulsate the dancefloor as the masses match every ferocious beat ounce-for-ounce;

First up were Sky Larkin who came via Leeds with a bucketful of melodic and catchy indie pop to spread round. Onstage their presence is endearing and they certainly have quality songs such as ‘One Of Two’, but I’m not sure they were entirely memorable. It was brilliant songs performed with a lack of effort, and on such a strong bill it was a shame to see Sky Larkin look a little wilted.

Hot Club de Paris / Elle S’Appelle / Sky Larkin Night & Day, 16/3/08

Elle S’Appelle could walk down a street and happily blend in with everyone else, but they are absolutely unforgettable live. Their performance was relentlessly enjoyable; pure pop songs don’t come anymore

Thankfully, Johnny Flynn is up next, continuing the work done by Steeleye Span to bring trad-folk into the future; rock'n'roll drumming and dancefloor fiddle giving the harmonies between him and his equally able sister some brilliant backbone.

things up like the Mario Bros. Marling's songs are much like she is; gentle and heartfelt, but with an underlying idealism that makes them into perfect little escapism anthems.

Naturally though, it is Laura Marling who is the star of the evening. With a new pixie haircut, she is barely recognised until the first strum, but her vulnerability and sweet humour wakes everybody up. 'Ghosts' comes second in the set, but this you can get away with when everyone in the crowd already owns your album. The title track arrives in two halves, early verses almost whispered with that magnetic Joni Mitchell breathiness, before the band jump in to power

Megan Vaughan

the likelihood of a Manchester earthquake seems to increase with every minute.

If Foals have injected synths into anything, it's the melodic seriousness of fellow dreaming spires residents Youthmovies. By their own admittance somewhat jaded, vocals were weaker than usual, but the newer material is far more complex.

Unlike the masses of day-glo keyboardists cluttering up venues not a sweatband's throw from here, Foals have successfully added extra balls and brass to the scattergun shoegaze thing. As though someone has told We Are Scientists what to do with consistency, the favourite 'Hummer' is as tight as the guitars worn high beneath the chin. If there is more than hint of yourcodenameis:milo about them, it does more good than harm, within this crowded field of young bands in Primark pastel shades, distinction is everything.

perfect than ‘Little Flame’. The way Elle S’Appelle blend keyboards, bass and drums makes everyone forget about guitars. Who needs those when songs can sound this good? A set splattered with new songs was served up by Liverpudlian trio Hot Club De Paris. Whilst the new material does sound exciting, it doesn’t really deviate away from the band’s expected sound. There were of course injections of familiarity; ‘Sometimesitsbetter…’ will always sound good with its “woo”s and complicated time signatures that grab hold of the audience, shake them hard and drop them back down to earth.

Liam Pennington

Hot Club De Paris are always a treat to see live even if it is just to witness their witty stage banter and glittering charisma. These boys perform like they’ve been doing it for years and it certainly helps that their discography is full of insanely catchy and immediate tracks, even if they might all seem a little similar to one another.

Jamila Scott

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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…

Say, Scientist by The Maple State OUT NOW "faultless" - NME "energetic, refreshing" 8/10 - Drowned in Sound “Album of the week” - 9/10 Manchestermusic.co.uk

Sexy Kids

Ian Britt

John Fairhurst The Sandells Telepathe

It seems Glasgow is quite the place to be right now for inspired indie pop music. However, Sexy Kids are the antithesis of neighbours Glasvegas.

Readers of High Voltage will probably be aware of Ian Britt already as he was a North West native for a good few years before recently returning back to his homeland of Sheffield.

John Fairhurst recently sliced the end of his finger off when he was cooking. Rather than cancel any gigs, he just re-learnt the whole of his debut album using three fingers. That’s how good a guitarist he is.

Firstly, they make the sort of infectiously perky life-isfab sort of noise that makes Los Campesinos! sound positively depressing. With song titles such as ‘Sisters Are Forever’ and ‘Measured Pleasures’, unbridled joy is clearly what they aim for; staying at all times on the right side of sickeningly sweet, whilst making sure to include healthy portions of “ooh ooh oohs” and girl/boy harmonies. The songs are by no means groundbreaking, but you’ll do well to find anything else this year that makes you dance uncontrollably or feel quite as happy inside. ‘In A Box In A Bag’ even includes the line “light of my life, apple of my eye”. Oh, and secondly, they’re pretty darn sexy too.

'For The Temperate Lives' released on 28th April via digital download 'Say Scientist' mini-LP out now from all good record stores.

Key track: ‘In A Box In A Bag’ Web: www.myspace.com/sexierkids

Words: Andrew Porter

After a debut album that was kept off the top of the iTunes alternative folk chart (niche, I’ll give you that) by laugh a minute combo David Gray and Damien Rice, Ian self released his next EP, ‘Big Light’, a couple of months ago which has gone down incredibly well in Holland of all places. The Dutch obviously know a good acoustic singer-songwriter when they hear it as songs such as ‘Let Me In It’ and the timeless ‘The Shape Of Us’ are bloody lovely ditty’s to say the least. In a genre that is saturated with a helluva lot of tripe, isn’t it nice to find a bloke with a guitar you don’t mind listening to several times over? Get on him now before he buggers off to the Netherlands and we never see him again.

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High Voltage can confirm that ‘Joys Of Spring’ is an absolute masterpiece of folk, blues and Eastern intricacies from John and his trusty resonator guitar. Key track: ‘How Far, How Fast’ Web: www.johnfairhurst.co.uk

‘Heart Of Stones’ and ‘Swarm’ lead baggy astray and leave it shivering and alone on a Kosmiche landscape, and the fuzz and rhythms akin noisy types like Fuck Buttons and Parts & Labor make sure it’s the last we hear of lairy lad rock. The Sandells are at their best when they become introspective with sounds others wouldn’t touch, like the melancholy jazz of ‘Regent Road’ and ‘C Lite’, whose drones and frazzles, muffled squalls and brass dirges are probably what the inside of Stephen Hawking’s head sounds like when he’s got a headache from a particularly tricky equation. Smart.

Words: Megan Vaughan Key Track: ‘The Shape Of Us’

Key track: ‘C Lite’

Web: www.myspace.com/ianbritt

www.myspace.com/thesandells

Words: Simon Pursehouse

myspace.com/themaplestate

Taking inspiration from guitar masters such as Nick Drake and Hendrix, as well as the Indian classicism taught to him as a child by Sarod master K Sridhar, Fairhurst has already played his way around the world, in Bangkok bars and Maori villages, but it is only now that his incredibly virtuosity has made it to a formal release.

Any band that has Can, Charles Bukowski, and experimental composer Karlheinz Stockhausen down as influences must be either brilliant or just pretentious. In the case of The Sandells, it’s a bit of both – but why sit in the gutter when you can get lost in space?

Web: Words: Stephen Eddie

The core of Brooklyn experimentalists, Telepathe (pronounced telepathy, numbnuts), is made up of yoga-nut Busy Gangnes and guitarist Melissa Livaudais (also of First Nation). Since about 2004, the band – in various incarnations – have released dribs and drabs of shoegaze-tinged electronica. Now settled with the addition of Ryan Lucero, their debut LP, ‘Dance Mother’, produced by TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, is currently sitting in the ‘sometime this year’ pile of future releases. Until that lands, we can chew on the superb stuttering electro-pop of 'Chrome's On It', forthcoming on a double Aside single through London's new No Pain In Pop label. The single is shared with Southend dubstep producer, Sunni Geini, whose true puritan identity is shrouded in mystery, or maybe it’s not. Telepathe are touring Stateside and a few shows in May are confirmed in the UK (though not yet Manchester) to support the single. Key track: ‘Chrome’s On It’ Web: www.myspace.com/telepathy

www.highvoltage.org.uk www.myspace.com/highvoltageuk

Words: Simon Smallbone

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listings AprilGIGLISTINGS April Tuesday 1st The Deities @ Night & Day Café Efterklang @ The Ruby Lounge The Teenagers @ The Roadhouse Sugababes @ The Apollo Misery Signals @ Music Box

Wednesday 2nd Holy Fuck! @ Night & Day Café Natty @ The Roadhouse Sugababes @ The Apollo Aiden @ Academy 2 Blue Murders @ Academy 3 Make Model @ The Ruby Lounge

Thursday 3rd Tom White acoustic set @ Night & Day Café Boyz II Men @ The Apollo Every Time I Die @ Academy 3 Last Harbour @ The Ruby Lounge New Found Sounds @ The Mint Lounge

Friday 4th The Substance @ Night & Day Café Nightwish @ The Apollo Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly @ Academy 2 Devotchka @ Academy 3 The Nouvelles @ Club Academy

Saturday 5th Frightened Rabbit @ Night & Day Café The Subways @ Academy 3 SIA @ Club Academy

Sunday 6th Malcolm Middleton @ Night & Day Café The Australian Pink Floyd Show @ The Apollo Reuben @ Academy 2 Billy Joe Shaver @ Academy 3 Dividing The Line @ Satans Hollow

Monday 7th YOAV @ Night & Day Café Chimaira @ Jillys Rockworld

Tuesday 8th

Friday 11th

Sunday 20th

Wednesday 30th

Sunday 11th

The Time @ Night & Day Café Bjork @ The Apollo Ben’s Brother @ Academy 3 Adam Green @ Club Academy The Shout Out Louds @ The Ruby Lounge

Brandi Carlile @ Night & Day Café Year Long Disaster @ The Roadhouse Presidents Of The USA @ Academy 2 Edgar ‘Jones’ Jones & The Joneses @ Academy 3 IMT Smile @ Club Academy

(We Are) Performance @ Night & Day Café I LiKE TRAiNS @ The Roadhouse Ladytron @ Academy 3 Adele @ The Lowry

Kimya Dawson @ Night & Day Café Willie Nelson @ The Apollo Magnum @ Academy 2 The Orb @ Academy 3 Envelopes @ Joshua Brooks

Saturday 12th

Monday 21st

Metronomy @ Night & Day Café Racine @ The Roadhouse The Beach Boys @ The Apollo Down @ Academy 1 Trentemoller @ Academy 2 Clinic @ Academy 3 Firelines @ Club Academy

Trash + Coalhouse @ Night & Day Café Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip @ Club Academy Simone White @ The Roadhouse Boris @ The Ruby Lounge

Sunday 13th Mystery Jets @ Night & Day Café Elbow @ Academy 1

Monday 14th These New Puritans @ Night & Day Café Future Of The Left @ The Roadhouse The Breeders @ Academy 2 Blood Red Shoes @ Academy 3 An Evening with Aiden John Moffatt @ Moho Live Pete and the Pirates @ The Ruby Lounge

Tuesday 15th Designer Magazine presents Seaside Riot + Team Noir @ Night & Day Café We Are Scientists @ Academy 1 65 Days Of Static @ Academy 2 Frank Turner @ Joshua Brooks Lesbian @ Star & Garter The Lovers @ The Ruby Lounge

Wednesday 16th Mumford & Sons @ Night & Day Café Nizlopi @ The Roadhouse Simple Plan @ Academy 1 The Fratellis @ Academy 2 Haunts @ The Ruby Lounge

Speechless with Sound presents Manyanas @ Night & Day Café Peter Moren (Peter Bjorn & John) @ The Roadhouse The Indelicates @ The Ruby Lounge

Wednesday 9th

Chorizo & The Frantic Drivers @ Night & Day Café The Courteeners @ Academy 1 The Kills @ Academy 3 I-Def-I @ Club Academy Whole Lotta Led @ The Ruby Lounge Mark Morriss @ Dry Bar

Archie Bronson Outfit @ Night & Day Café Angels & Airwaves @ Academy 1 Chromeo @ Academy 3 Reverend & The Makers @ The Ritz Raging Speedhorn @ Star & Garter

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Designer Magazine presents The Virgin Marys @ Night & Day Café The Kooks @ The Apollo Tom McRae & The Hotel Café @ Club Academy Jamie Scott and The Town @ The Ruby Lounge

Wednesday 23rd

The Satellite Towns @ Night & Day Café Supergrass @ Academy 1 Diamond Head @ Academy 3

The Wonkey Pop Tour feat. Alphabeat + Frankmusik & Leon Jean Marie @ Night & Day Café

Monday 5th

Friday 16th

March Thursday 1st The JD Set presents Another @ Night & Day Café Hawksley Workman @ The Roadhouse RZA as Bobby Digital @ Academy 1 Jamie Lidell @ Academy 3

Friday 2nd Yelps @ Night & Day Café Radio Soulwax Presents @ The Warehouse Project Gemma Hayes @ Academy 3 Chrome Hoof @ Club Academy

Saturday 3rd High Voltage presents Wild Beasts + Wave Pictures @ Night & Day Café I Am Kloot @ Academy 1 Parkway Drive @ Academy 3 Macbeth + KatBGini @ Club Academy Cocoon @ The Warehouse Project Health & Yacht @ Charlies

Thursday 24th

Sunday 4th

February Remaining @ Night & Day Café Mindless Self Indulgence @ Academy 1 Envelops @ Joshua Brooks Lykke Li @ The Roadhouse

The Logicals @ Night & Day Café Jim Noir @ The Roadhouse Defenders of The Faith @ Academy 1 Edwyn Collins @ Academy 2 Angus and Julia Stone @ Academy 3 Epiphany @ Club Academy The Aftershow @ Moho Live

Saturday 26th 50 Leaves @ Night & Day Café Alabama 3 @ Academy 1 The Clone Roses Vs The Smiths Indeed @ Academy 2 Sebadoh @ Academy 3 This Dynamic @ Club Academy

Sunday 27th Forward Russia @ Academy 3 Dogs @ The Ruby Lounge

Saturday 19th Monday 28th White Rabbits @ Night & Day Café Prostitutes & Policemen feat. MSTRKRFT @ Music Box The Maccabees @ Jabez Clegg Magik Markers @ Satans Hollow

Tuesday 29th CUD @ The Ruby Lounge Paige @ The Music Box

Wednesday 21st

Blitzen Trapper @ Night & Day Café The Black Angels @ The Roadhouse The Black Keys @ Academy 1 Sonic Boom Six + Dig D & The Kids Table @ Club Academy Cancer Bats @ Satans Hollow Lichens @ Retro Bar Monday 12th The Mae Shi @ Moho Live The Waifs @ Club Academy Pineapple Folk present Black Mountain @ Mt Eerie + No Kids @ Kro Bar Vessels @ The Ruby Lounge Moho Live Topman NME New Noise Tour @ Thursday 22nd Academy 2 The Pigeon Detectives @ The Apollo Amy Macdonald @ Academy 1 Tuesday 13th Story Of The Year @ Academy 2 Royworld @ Night & Day Café The Whip @ Academy 3 Clocks @ The Roadhouse De La Soul @ The Ritz One Night Only @ Academy 2 Asa @ Club Academy Friday 23rd Iron & Wine @ The Ritz The Little Ones @ The Roadhouse The Pigeon Detectives @ The Apollo Wednesday 14th Trentemoller @ Sankeys Caribou @ The Roadhouse Willard Grant Conspiracy @ Club Saturday 24th Academy The Charlatans @ Academy 1 Jewels @ The Lowry Pineapple Folk present Man Man @ The Bob Mould Band @ Academy 2 Livewire AC/DC @ Academy 3 Phoenix Club Robin Trower & Band @ Club Academy The Bluetones @ Jabez Clegg Thursday 15th Pineapple Folk present The New Sunday 25th Amsterdams @ Night & Day Café Joe Satriani @ The Apollo Dead Kennedys @ Academy 2 Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong @ Skindred @ Club Academy Academy 3 Martha Wainwright @ The Bridgewater The Satin Peaches @ The Ruby Lounge

Curious Generation presents Doug Walker @ Night & Day Café Digitalism Live @ Academy 2 Pineapple Folk present Phosphorescent + Jana Hunter @ Salford Sacred Trinity Chapel

Thursday 17th

Friday 18th

Thursday 10th

Tuesday 22nd

Friday 25th

Lovechild @ Night & Day Café The Long Blondes @ Academy 2 The Gutter Twins @ Academy 3 Fei Comodo @ Jabez Clegg Jose Gonzalez @ The Opera House Eileen Rose @ The Ruby Lounge

The DN5 @ Night & Day Café Portishead @ The Apollo Eliot Minor @ Academy 2 Kobe @ Academy 3 Yasmin @ Music Box Jethro Tull @ The Lowry

May

Matchbox Twenty @ The Apollo Hadouken! @ Academy 1 Alkinoos Ioannidis @ Academy 2 Lightspeed Champion @ Club Academy Anemic @ Music Box

Wednesday 7th Rogue Wave @ Night & Day Café Black Acid @ The Roadhouse Delays @ Academy 3 Robert Plant & Alison Krauss @ The Apollo Fighting With Wire @ The Ruby Lounge

Thursday 8th Speechless with Sound presents Hey Bull Dog @ Night & Day Café Vampire Weekend @ Academy 2 Blaze Bayley @ Music Box

Friday 9th Pendulum @ Academy 1 Jimi Jamison @ Academy 3 Twisted Wheel @ Club Academy Jonah Matranga @ The Roadhouse Afrika Bambaata @ The Club

Saturday 10th Channel M presents… @ Night & Day Café Sonic Boom! @ Jabez Clegg

Feb-Mar 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 June/July 08 to listings@highvoltage.org.uk Next deadline is May 16th Compiled by Mike Caulfield

Tuesday Sex With Robots @ The Roadhouse 11pm- late 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 Klub Knowhere (3rd p/m) @ Joshua Brooks 10pm-2.30am Tramp @ Club North 10pm- 2am

Thursday From Manchester With Love @ 42nd Street 10pm- 2am Don’t Think Twice… @ Font Bar 9pm1am Romp @ One Central Street @ 9.30pm3am In The City @ The Venue 11pm- late Risky Business @ Joshua Brooks

Friday

Robben Ford @ Club Academy The Red Jumpsuit Aparatus @ The Roadhouse

Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll @ The Roadhouse Friday Feeling @ 5th Avenue 10pm- 3am Public Enemy @ Academy 1 Keys, Money, Lipstick @ Star & Garter Glamorous Indie Rock n’ Roll @ 42nd Tuesday 27th The Felice Brothers @ Night & Day Café Street Popscene @ The Brickhouse 10.30pmPineapple Folk present Silver Jews @ 2.30am Dancehouse Theatre Relief @ Club Alter Ego 11pm- 4am Another Planet @ South 10pm- 3am Wednesday 28th Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band @ Homoelectric @ Legends 10pm- 4am Twist and Shout @ The Venue 10pmOld Trafford 3am Beth Rowley @ The Ruby Lounge Don’t Miss This @ Retro Bar Fightstar @ Academy 3 Guilty Pleasures @ One Central Street 10pm- 3am Thursday 29th Club Clique @ Mint Lounge The Wombats @ The Apollo Dirty Tourism presents Bigger Than Jesus Ministry @ Academy 1 (last Fri p/m) @ Joshua Brooks Pete Murray @ Academy 2 Locked (2nd fri p/m) @ Joshua Brooks Duffy @ The Ritz Audio Salad (3rd fri p/m) @ Joshua Avril Lavigne @ The Manchester Evening Brooks News Arena

Monday 19th

Friday 30th

Terry Reid @ Night & Day Café Little Man Tate @ Academy 2 Jens Lekman @ Academy 3 Saul Williams @ The Ruby Lounge Pineapple Folk present Sunset Rubdown @ Moho Live

Son of Dave @ The Roadhouse

Monday 26th The Music @ Academy 2 The Quireboys, Dan Baird and Homemade Sin @ Club Academy Pineapple Folk present Liars + No Age + Ex-Models @ Salford Islington Mill True Playaz @ The Club

Tuesday 6th Matchbox Twenty @ The Apollo

CLUBLISTINGS

Saturday 17th Are You Experienced @ The Ruby Lounge Ghetto + Flowzart @ Club Academy Mark Knopfer @ The Manchester Evening News Arena

Sunday 18th

Tuesday 20th Most Serene Republic @ Night & Day Café Pineapple Folk present Xiu Xiu @ The Roadhouse Dirty Pretty Things @ The Ritz MGMT @ Academy 2 Scout Niblett @ Academy 3

Saturday 31st Girls Aloud @ The Manchester Evening News Arena The Woodentops + Geekgirl + Shmoo @ Mo-Ho Live

Saturday Audio Boutique @ Music Box 10pm- 4am Call It What You Want @ 5th Avenue 10pm- 3am Clint Boon’s Disco Revue @ South 9.30pm- 2.45am 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 Monster Monster @ Joshua Brooks Insight (3rd sat p/m) @ Joshua Brooks

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Big Scary Monsters (BSM for short, not to be confused with the driving instructors) began as a two-man operation in Oxford seven years ago, became a one-man operation before record number one came out, and is now at home in Kevin Douch’s spare room. We spoke to him as BSM approaches its milestone 50th release. HV: How did BSM start? Did you have a clear aim from the beginning? Kevin: “BSM had a bit of an accidental beginning really. A friend started it, I got involved and then before even the first release, he’d disappeared, leaving me to struggle on whilst I should’ve been concentrating on my A-levels. There were no big start-up plans; just fancied working in the music industry really! Not the best way to get started: having no experience, money or clue, but I soon became addicted and here I am seven years and 49 releases later!” You’ve got artists from all over the UK and USA, how do you go about finding them – or do they come to you?

“These days I get about 20 bands a day contacting me. Disappointingly, most of them seem to think that sending an arrogant message via MySpace is the way to get signed! But the vast majority of acts I’ve worked with over the years have come from word of mouth: friends recommending them; one of the other bands putting them in touch; all sorts of things like that.” BSM got some positive press last year (MMISL, House Of Brothers, ‘Record Label, Schmecord Label’), are you looking to build on that? “2007 was awesome for us. The MMISL record was my favourite of the year. We started to work with House of Brothers who I’d been enjoying for a long time, and people began to realise that This Town Needs Guns are incredible. “I also got bored of people sending letters addressed to ‘Accounts Department’ or ‘Head of A&R’ as if this is a 200-man multinational organisation, and not just one guy working an outof-control hobby from his spare room, so I decided to try and push the personal side a little more. I started up Blog Scary Monsters, which is basically a day-to-day diary of what goes on. I think that helped to a degree, and it’s nice that people know this company has a face, unlike lots of others out there.” Obviously there’s been lots of talk about labels and the ‘threat’ internet. How have you embraced/fought the digital age?

“We’ve embraced the digital age quite well I think. We’re on MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, and a lot of the back catalogue is available via iTunes. Obviously torrents and whatnot can be potentially fatal for small labels like ourselves, but I’m confident that our fanbase are passionate enough about the music they love and will continue to support the artists and see that indies live on a lot longer than many people expect.“ “Right now we’re just getting set to release a compilation CD of MP3s, which is our 50th release. It’s called ‘50 Not Out’ and will be available in April. Sorry about the plug, couldn’t help myself there!”

distribution, marketing and accounts: that’s where the labels come in. We take on all the shit so the bands don’t have to! I personally believe you’ll see more majors buying up indies to try and protect their brand identities, and more management companies stepping into the label market.” What BSM projects are you most excited about for the rest of 2008? “2008 is looking even better than last year. Secondsmile and TTNG both have new albums, things have got off to a great start with Tubelord, and there are lots of brilliant things coming up. I’m confident this year will be our busiest and most successful to date… although I fear I may have just jinxed it!” Words: Stephen Eddie

Best of BSM Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – ‘Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly EP’ Yndi Halda – ‘Enjoy Eternal Bliss’ This Town Needs Guns/Cats & Cats & Cats – ‘Split’ House Of Brothers – ‘Deadman EP’ Meet Me In St. Louis – ‘Variations On Swing’

What do see as the role for indie labels in the future? “It’s difficult to say right now as nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen, but I think indies will be OK. Bands are now able to do much more for themselves than ever before – Enter Shikari are a fine example – although no artist wants to concern themselves with

www.bsmrocks.com, www.blogscarymonsters.blogspot.com twentysix

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HighVoltage 28  

Manchester's High Voltage magazine issue 28. Featuring... MGMT, Simian Mobile Disco, Twisted Wheel, Black Kids, Yeasayer, Stars, Futureheads...

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