WICHITA’S ALBUMS OF 2007
BLOOD BROTHERS Young Machetes CD
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH Some Loud Thunder CD & LP
PETER, BJORN AND JOHN Falling Out CD
EUROS CHILDS The Miracle Inn CD
BLOC PARTY A Weekend In The City CD, CD/DVD, LP & PD
THE CRIBS Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever CD, LP & CD/DVD
VARIOUS ARTISTS There is Only One ‘T’ In Wichita CD
EUROS CHILDS Bore Da CD
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO Attack Decay Sustain Release CD, 2CD & LP
MEG BAIRD Dear Companion CD
LES SAVY FAV Let’s Stay Friends CD & LP
PETER, BJORN AND JOHN Peter, Bjorn and John
PETER, BJORN AND JOHN Writer’s Block 2CD & 2LP
Cheeky Cheeky & the Nosebleeds
Truckers of Husk
Folk, in their own write
Les Savy Fav
Scott H Biram
Contact, Comment, Contribute firstname.lastname@example.org myspace.com/krugermagazine
Contributors Kruger Magazine Issue 15 Editors: Mike Williams, Joe Howden, Mike Day Reviews Editor: Helia Phoenix Research: Helen Weatherhead Thanks to: Thanks to: Anna Mears @ Dogday, Jodie Banaszkiewicz @ Domino, Becky Nolan @ Darling, Ruth Clarke @ Toast, Paul Barnett @ Plugtwo, Ruth Drake @ Toast, James Sherry @ Division, Mike Watson, Laura @ Scruffybird, Martina Connors @ Warp, Marc @ Rise, Richard Onslow @ XL, Charles @ Kartel, Alex Power, Nathan Warren @ MWL, Huw Stephens, Bethan Elfyn, Ed Richmond and everyone at Radio 1, Lucy, Ellie & Sally, all our contributors, all our advertisers and especially Helia, Susie, Jen, Dan, Emily, Heather, Ioan, Helen and Betti. Wurd! Printed by: MWL Print Group Ltd. Units 10 -13 Pontyfelin Industrial Estate, New Inn, Pontypool NP4 ODQ contact nathanw@mwl .co.uk Produced by Kruger in The Daley Thompson Suite, Cardiff and Little Wee Studio, London. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the kind permission of Kruger. The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the opinions of Kruger. All work by Mike Day, Mike Williams & Joe Howden unless otherwise credited. All words, photography and illustrations are original and specific to Kruger. Kruger is a quarterly magazine and is distributed throughout the UK.
Advertising enquiries: email@example.com 4
Words James Anthony, Alex Bean, Laura Dickenson, Helia Phoenix, Greg Cochrane, Dan Tyte, Steph Price, James W Roberts, Kat Brown, Neil Condron, Ioan Morris, Matt Bowring, T. Daryar, Fran Caccammo, Susie Wild, Ellie Harwood, Janne Oinonen, Tom Howard, Tasha Loveclub, Luke Starr, Carl Morris, Kate Parkin, Adam Corner, Si Truss, Joey Hood, Barney Sprague, Brodie Lyon, Neil Jones, Sofie Jenkinson Images Tim Cochrane, Kamil Janowski, Louise Roberts, Skinny Gaviar, Anouck Bertin, Mei Lewis, Lucy Begent, Jon Owen, Eleanor Stevenson, Maciej Dakowicz, Lee Goldup.
Birthdays? Meh They’re so overrated. All those people that love you buying you drinks and giving you presents and making a fuss over you and making you feel special. None of it outweighs the fact that life is like trying to catch water in a sieve, and death come closer with every glass that gets clinked to your health. Petrified by our own mortality, we at Kruger have decided to celebrate our landmark fourth birthday by not championing ourselves and our remarkable achievements - and by Jove, there are plenty of them let us tell you - but by instead celebrating commemoration itself and the significant dates in all our lives that we’ll remember and cherish for the rest of our ominously short days. Think of this issue then as display cabinet of memories, full of Charles and Di wedding china and tankards engraved with recycled graphics from our past. Keep it, cherish it and use it to remember us by when we’ve all died of some hideous genetic defect.
Happy Birthday Kruger!
Cheeky Cheeky & the Nosebleeds Kruger is popping the interview cherry of Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds. We’ve had a pretty good track record, serving as the virgin surgeon for Los Campesinos! and Future Of The Left. ///////////////////////////////////////////// Cheeky mix elements of the Clash, early Beatles, punk and new wave, into guitar-based proof that brevity is the soul of wit; most songs clocking in at around 2 minutes. “The Moldy Peaches taught us how simple and effective songs can be,” says Charlie Cheeky. “’Cos none of us were any good at our instruments.” It’s an interesting reference, since their sound bears a passing resemblance to the experimental folk stylings of the Peaches, but they aren’t partial to singing sixth-form poetry about “crazy burgers” (although the precocious tykes are straight out of college, the oldest being just 19). It’s also refreshing self-deprecation - their sound is fresh and tight live - despite their first practice as a band being a glorious shambles: “Thom [the bassist] was super hungover, perhaps the worst anyone has ever been,” Charlie continues, “but still it felt right.” This was followed by a “kinda chaotic” house party, which was their maiden gig, in March 2006. “When we first started, it was more of an idea than a proper band. Now it’s a nine-to-five. Well, 11 ‘til three, maybe.” Something called “Bop It” has played a formative part in the development of their young minds. Kruger (a bit long in the tooth) hasn’t a clue. Research proves it to be a brightlycoloured gizmo that looks like half a swastika, with rubber appendices on each arm and in the centre, allowing a player to “bop it, flick it, pull it, spin it, and twist it”. Rory Cheeky is a pro. “I hold the highest score,” he says, “but I do it all with my face.” Charlie, the most outspoken, tries to relate this back to their music: “Bop It is very 6
When we first started, it was more of an idea than a proper band. Now it’s a nine-to-five. Well, 11 ‘til three, maybe. rhythmic, so I think a lot of our music comes from the rhythm of Bop It,” he says, sagely (although one suspects, not entirely seriously). Further cementing their Beatles influence, they produce a plectrum from Liverpool’s Cabin Club. “I think you have to be a fan of the Beatles, don’t you,” offers Charlie. “They’re quite difficult to not like. Early Beatles is basically ripping of fifties rock’n’roll, which is quite a good thing to rip off.”
“The guitar sound is ‘echoey’ and hollow,” says Rory. “Also, we don’t like unexpected chords. You shouldn’t throw off your audience, but use the lyrics to keep it interesting.” With stories about kids going to parties and bursting into flames (Fascinating), and an odd ditty called Slow Kids, puzzles are something they’ve got a handle on. “We wrote Slow Kids while we were supposed to be in games, running up hills in school,” says Rory. “It’s about us as a group, and our friends at the time.” “The word ‘slow’ can be used in many different senses”, says Charlie, quick to dispel any notion that the song is about disabled kids. “We didn’t realise that”, he continues. “Our photographer played it to her mum who worked with disabled children, and that was the first time we realised it could be misconstrued.” “My mum can’t listen to that song because she finds it offensive,” reveals Rory. “What?” Charlie erupts. “We haven’t got any swears in there! There’s no blue material in it! It’s about us, and it’s quite difficult to explain, I guess you had to be there.”
er 1st Ev ! w e i Interv
The song inspired two members to get their first drunken tattoo, although only Tom went through with it. “I went into a hairdressers and had this 20-stone woman straddling me. I was being suffocated by one of her huge breasts. She was trying to balance on me, on this tiny little stool, wobbling everywhere. The tattoo was done in about 10 minutes, it was ... Shit.” The resulting scrawl on Tom’s chest, while meant to be the song’s title, reads “Slow Kios”. Is it the first of many? “Yeah, I want loads of pirate tattoos. Like, ships and anchors.” “Isn’t that like a New York lesbian scene thing?” teases Charlie. “I also want a curvy fat naked woman across my leg. I like a bit of meat on my lady.” “Why are you looking at me as you say that?” cries Charlie. Everyone collapses into laughter. Are there any other significant dates in the lives of the Cheekies? “My cat died two years ago,” offers Rory. “It got run over by my neighbour and then he tried to hide it by taking the cat and burying it in his garden. When my dad asked them about it years later, his wife finally confessed. ‘Any time you want to go and see the grave, you can pop round mine’, he said afterwards.” Words by James Anthony
When German polymath Gottfried Leibniz wrote Essais de Théodicée sur la bonte de Dieu, la liberté de l’homme et l’origine du mal in 1710, Theodicy was born and acts of evil in a world created by an Omnibenevolent God were justified, just like that. ///////////////////////////////////////////// ///////////////////////////////////////////// Personally, I need a poo too much to digest such convenient ideologies, and the reality of bad things happening to good people re-enforces my feelings of futility in an unjust existence. Thank God for Slow Club then, a reminder that life can be fun, trees bear fruit, and the excitement of imagination and escape is enough to shut out whichever realm of horror happens to flitter before me today. It’s with disappointment then that a couple of sips into my cup of tea with the young Sheffield indie-folk two-piece, I learn that they’re not above this crude tutelary justice either, and despite a year of impressive support slots around the country building them a generous burgeoning fan base, the adoration of new music champion Huw Stephens and a love-struck suitor in the form of the ever-impressive Moshi Moshi Records, Slow Club get dealt the pain as indiscriminately as you, me, Fred Savage or Fred West. By way of reaffirming the issue theme, I’ve asked them about their anniversary as 8
a band. On which date did it fall, how old did it make them, and most importantly, how did they celebrate. Guitarist, singer and nominee for ‘nicest chap in pop’ Charles starts the story: “I guess the 23rd of August was our oneyear anniversary as Slow Club. We’d played together in a couple of bands before... it’s about four years since we first played together, but as Slow Club, doing what we’re doing now, then I’d say the first gig we did outside of Sheffield was probably the point when we both thought we should try and do this a bit more seriously.” The gig was a show up in Edinburgh, which Charles describes as “incredible, the first proper big gig either of us has done”, and the other half of the “we” is Becky, winsome chair-drumming singer and focus magnet, who takes over the tale: “”It was going to be amazing because we were going to play in Edinburgh again,
exactly a year to the day from when we’d started, and we were really excited, but we got to the venue where we were supposed to be playing and rang the guys to see what time sound check was and we weren’t on the gig, so we had to turn round and come back home again. That’s Slow Club’s style really. That’s how we celebrated our birthday; being pissed off and going home.”
We had to turn back round and come home again... that’s how celebrated our birthday; being pissed off and going home What a disaster. Happily, not all Slow Club gig tales end like this. Like the one where they played with Hot Club De Paris who liked them so much they recommended them to their label who subsequently released the infectious barn-pop headnodders Because We’re Dead and Me and You. Or the one where they toured with Fionn Regan, who shares a drummer with The Noisettes, who they then got to
tour with. Or was it the other way round? Who cares? What really matters is that in one year and 50,000 Peugeot 2006driven miles around the UK, Slow Club have taken their super-contagious sound to an impressively broad audience and been lapped up by the lot. It’s because they’re like musical tea: sweet, warm and quintessentially English; with a plum likeability derived from their bassthumping sui generis jangle. I ask them where their live sounds comes from, and why Becky plays a chair onstage. “When we first started out writing songs together it was a lot more mellow than it is now, more of a Kings of Convenience type thing, really folky songs” says Charles, “but when you start playing with other bands who are a bit louder and more progressive, it kind of temps you into doing more things with your sound.” “And the chair was just in the garage when we were writing a new song” adds Becky. “I just wanted to hit something different so I started hitting that.” “And it sounds really nice” says Charles. “Out of all the things that we use, that’s probably the nicest sound we make.” It’s another slice of idiosyncrasy that adds to the appeal of Slow Club. Bright, young, honest and original, if you discount Theodicy, they’ll be celebrating their second birthday swimming in Ethel Skinner’s tea cup.
Photography by Tim Cochrane - www.timothycochrane.com 9
J ustice /////////////////////////////////////////////
Attention comrades! Justice have issued a call to arms, and by golly, if you’re not on the front line, you’re missing the party. Next year is the 40th anniversary of the Parisian student riots, a time when the youthful exuberance of our dear neighbours bubbled into street brawling and violence against le Old Bill, and our favourite Franco electronic duo since those robots embody every inch that anarchist streak. Although not quite the idyllic setting of a sun dappled bistro in Paris, It seems fitting I meet Gaspard Auge and his partner in crime Xavier de Rosnay in Mornington Crescent on the verge of their biggest headline show in London to date. Waiting outside the venue I see two fighting tramps whisked away in an armed police van, before noticing that I’m also being tracked on CCTV. Nanny State? Bring the noise. Recounting the tale to Gaspard, he twiddles with a packet of Marlborough Lights, and says with a glint “If you ever get lost in Paris, whatever you do, don’t ask the police for directions - that wouldn’t help one bit”. Yeah! Down with the law!
But before we get to their unique brand of rebellion, there’s time to reflect on Justice’s own significant anniversaries. “Well, the first one is probably when we did this remix for Simian of We Are Your Friends, which was for a radio remix contest, erm, that we lost.” I think I’ve heard that track - it’s quite good. Gaspard continues, “Oh and then another one would be that time with Kayne West”. Ah yes, the moment the Louis Vuitton Don did his own bit of podium storming at the MTV Awards. Did he ever apologise for that spectacular embarrassment? “No. He was going to but we are too humble to want him to say sorry. Plus he talks about us a lot in interviews now”. The meeting of their manager Pedro Winter is mentioned third in the list of their important anniversaries. Pedro, or Busy P, is of course also manager of Daft Punk and svengali of Ed Banger records. The thriving output from such a small collective is a true Power to the People success story, Gaspard agrees: 11
“There’s only 3 people working at Ed Banger full time including Pedro. So Me, our designer, completely over sees our look, but we’re always involved with the ideas. Plus we all live together in the same apartment so we never stop brainstorming about what to do next; the planning never stops at our maison.” With the release of debut album T this summer, Justice had coupled the playful pop crossover that embodied We Are Your Friends and D.A.N.C.E, with harder, dirtier electro cuts, like the relentless and self proclaimed “claustrophobic” pounding of Stressed. It’s a marriage Gaspard suggests came naturally to them: ”In the beginning we were doing really cheesy tracks and many of the remixes we did for bands like Mystery Jets, Fatboy Slim and Britney Spears were full-on ‘pop’, which is great. We weren’t being techy, just producing straight up club tracks - piano house almost. We soon discovered that the more distorted and aggressive sound is just a part of what we like to do, so for us it was quite natural to explore the two extreme sides of the music we like. In that way it feels like album is complete with its romantic moments and it’s volatile ones”. The success of T meant a move for Justice from clubs in to the live arena, something that many dance acts never 12
get the chance to explore with vigour, and to jump straight into headlining festivals is described sincerely by Gaspard as “emotional”. “It was the first time that people were reacting to tracks off the album, stuff they had never heard outside of Waters of Nazareth and We Are Your Friends, and they were going crazy, it was beautiful. We felt a lot more confident after that.” And of course their live show has boldly marked them as agents provocateurs. On stage they mix behind a neon throbbing cross, which also adorns the album cover, t-shirts and bunting strung around the festival sites they visit. There’s even crucifix glowsticks, and although, disappointingly, the big JC isn’t imprinted on these promotional gems, you can understand why the Church of Justice has found a few enemies. “Initially the conception of the cross on our artwork was almost naïve. We found quite quickly that it became offensive, a few real haters. The Catholics found it hardcore.” Naive? There was no idea that such a flirtation with religious iconography was, well, a little naughty? Gaspard’s response is a loaded smile.
Yet their audience have heeded the battle cry, as present at their shows you’re guaranteed that a mêlée of believers have been badgering away Blue Peter-style at home to make their own crucifixes; some from roughly torn cardboard right through to lovingly embellished wooden efforts. From the moment Justice take to the stage, fists are raised to pound away in time to the beat with their handy work’s. Surreal? Yes. Uplifting? Completely. Gaspard smiles and says: “I find the crosses in the audience at our shows so exciting. I think to come to a gig and get involved with something more then just watching, to participate, it means we’ve reached people.” Later in our evening, flanked by outrageously immodest Marshall stacks, Justice will, ahem excuse my French, knock the shit out the assembled ranks at a sold out KoKo, but whilst the UK has well and truly fallen to Justice, an movement rapidly going global, the pair still haven’t quite gained such a stronghold in their fatherland:
for hyper-fanatics and old guys, which you know, makes us happy”. And in ten years time do you think that you too will be playing in a giant discopyramid in Hyde Park? “We don’t want to follow Daft Punk’s steps, even if we do like their music, they are good guys, but its not for us. I think in ten years we’d like to retire and work on a farm, maybe even together.” I conclude our rendezvous by asking Gaspard which historical event he most wishes he was witness to. Alas, it’s not the burning of Joan of Arc, the storming of the Bastille or even Marie Antoinette being dragged from the palace of Versailles by baying French peasants... “Really I would have liked to have been present at the invention of Coca Cola. You know it was made by mistake; that’s amazing”. Sweet sweet rebellion. Words by Alex Bean Photography by Kamil Janowski - www.kjanowski.com
“It is a very French thing to deny your own child. It happens a lot with local artists, they have recognition elsewhere before France will take note”. Gaspard continues: “But recently we’ve noticed a change at home, we are not only playing 13
Metronomy Christmas! There’s a word that’s sure to bring out the misanthropist in all of us, although not everyone dreads the glorified tedium that occurs on the day itself. In fact some people are actually looking forward to the grey sprouts and ill-fitting jumpers. Here’s one I met earlier… Joseph Mount is the pioneering force behind Metronomy, a band you can almost tell if you’re going to like by their name. Yes there are beats and there are bleeps but if you respond to these futuristic tones like a speaker to a mobile phone, then you’ll find you and he are on similar frequencies.
trading his sticks for clicks in a call centre. “People think that drummers have no ideas and I had lots of ideas but noone was listening to them. I wanted to explore and experiment with music and the computer really allowed me to be in charge. No band members to fall out with. Brilliant!“
Born in Devon a quarter of a century ago, Joseph’s musical undertaking didn’t begin until teenage angst forced him to take up the drums.
He continued to measure and regulate beats alone until there came a time when three men with eight tiny keyboards was an acceptable band name, never mind a convincing line-up. It’s now been two years, this month, since he took on two helpers Oscar Cash and Gabriel Stebbing, with twenty spare fingers, to help out with square pushing duties. How will they mark their anniversary suitably?
“I spent years mucking about in bands, being lazy, not wanting to get a proper job but everything changed when I got my first computer, one of those Mac G3 Tower things, with all the Perspex. It’s a bit past it now but back then it was the best thing that happened to me.” He was 17 then, he’s 25 now. I confess I’m confused as to how a computer can change a drummer’s life, other than 14
“Well, partying with your band is a bit of a busman’s holiday, isn’t it. Yeah maybe we’ll have a bit of an office party in the studio or something. The last year has felt a bit like limbo with us spending more time in
the studio than out playing live but there’s barely an end in sight now and then the album will be out early next year.” The three of them are about to embark on three massive support tours between now and Christmas, the first of which is with Kate Nash. Oh god why, the less poppy among you may shriek, but calm down they’re old friends. He even worked with her on some of her album tracks but her record company deemed them unsuitable for the final cut, so Metronomy support her on this tour by request from the lady herself, perhaps by way of an apology. “You have to do it.” He says, speaking about support tours. “ I’m in it for the love, totally. I just have a genuine interest in music and I can’t imagine doing anything else but you have to make a living somehow ‘cause you don’t expect to get a lot of exposure with an album like mine.” Having heard the arresting 2006 debut Pip Paine (Pay Back The £5000 You Owe), and the plethora of remixes including the likes of Good Shoes and Architecture in Helsinki, you can’t help but be impressed by the maturation of the new single Radio Ladio, which puts them up there with laidback dancefloor like Hot Chip. And its been noted, his next work is eagerly anticipated...
After Nash they’re broadening their horizons again, this time supporting Bloc Party and another populous for possible conversion. Last of all they’ll find themselves in more familiar territory with veritable dance floor giants, Justice and CSS. Here with their contemporaries is where Metronomy will be highly anticipated and appropriately adored. So three solid months of touring ahead of you, any special plans for the shows themselves? “We’ve got a little light show and some dance moves.” And what are you most looking forward to? “The end of the road. That probably sounds bad but I just can’t wait for Christmas to come.” What are you getting? “Oh I don’t know, it doesn’t matter does it. A bit of peace and quiet, probably” With the new album all geared for release on Because Records in the new year, he’d better take it while he can. Hopefully he’s been a good boy this year. Words by Laura Dickenson Photography by Louise Roberts
Jesus Christ! Luckily Kruger are always good boys, and have received an early Christmas present in the form of a sneak preview of Metronomy’s forthcoming second album. We can reveal that yes, it is amazing, and yes, we predict that they’ll be suitably massive in 2008. Here are the tracks that will definitely be on the album: Heart Rate Rapid Heartbreaker The End Of You Too Let’s Have A Party On Dancefloor
by Helia Phoenix
Illustration by Skinny Gaviar - www.skinnygavier.com
I came to Whitey’s debut album – The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A Train – as I often do to artists that I will eventually love: late. Having missed any pre-release/release hype (with no acceptable excuse), almost five months after coming out on 1234 I began seeing The Light… mentioned in “Best Top Album Of The Year Ever!” lists. Everywhere.
Intrigued by the pictogram cover and impressed by the reviews, I decided to invest a tenner in what was to become one of my favourite records of the last ten years. Maybe longer. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it, but I can tell you this: I’ve listened to it alone, with friends, while falling asleep, while waking up, getting ready, coming up, coming down, walking, driving, sitting on trains, on buses, cooking dinner, eating, reading, mending clothes, getting drunk, fucking, getting high, getting low. It has slaked my ears for two solid years and I’m still not bored of it. I might well have listened to The Light… consistently over the last two years, but after all this time I know little more about Nathan Joseph Wannacot than I did after I first googlestalked him. Misanthrope (his description, not mine), enigma, misfit: no good for this cursory culture of indulgent, conceited music “celebrity” the general public mutually-masturbate over with such glee. He’s a shadowy figure who flits around the edges of the music media, unstable and fleeting, like the late-night memories his music evokes: cigarette smoke that curls from brown lips and dissipates into the city sky. I might have the album, I might have all the singles on vinyl, and I might even own a slew of remixes. I might know that the things that inspire him to make music are
“failure, frustration, revenge, ambition, poverty, drunks, thugs, outsiders, obsession, falling in and out of love, women, drugs, drugs, drugs, a sentence in a book, a line in a film, idiots on trashy reality TV. Everything.” But all this gets me no closer to knowing anything about the man himself. Apart from the occasional ranting Myspace blog and (very) rare interview, he’s largely unknown to me. In some way or another, I’ve been chasing him for a long time. So imagine my surprise, then, to be called into Office Kruger and find out about my task for the magazine. My mission (impossible), should I choose to accept it, marks the second anniversary of first listening to The Light… is the legitimising of this pursuit: find the man and interview him. There’s a new album in the works. He’s about to head off to the states on tour again. Things are buzzing in the Whitey camp: what better time to get the skinny than now? Before I leave, I am warned. Tracking him down will be harder than pinning diarrhea to a wall. Pah. Seriously, how tough can this be? Kruger has befriended his label. We have his email address, his mobile number. We know he’s in the country. He is moving to Brighton at the weekend, but surely, for a pursuer as tenacious as Kruger, this whole thing should be a walk in the dark.
Back in time, after The Light… was released, those tastemakers and folk in the know prepared themselves for a Whitey takeover. Tracks from the album are stylistically diverse, basic new-wave fuzzy electro-pop but with guitar riffs and catchy hooks of rock. It defies pigeonholes and is an irresistible formula, immensely listenable, as dense and intricate as it is simple
At five minutes to eight the phone goes. It’s Whitey, and of course, I don’t hear it. He leaves a message, saying he’s about to get on a train to Brighton, and can I call later in the week. and light. I was convinced on first listen that within months I’d be clinging to the album in that “I liked it before you did” way that I currently grasp at Frank by Amy Winehouse. It seemed so likely that Whitey was to be elevated to musical royalty; packing out arenas across the UK; constantly on the society pages of the NME; snorting coke off Mark Ronson, the Mighty Boosh and that bellwipe from Ra-
zorlight; DJing at clubs on Oxford Street with Peaches Geldof, licensing every track to a mobile phone advert; losing all his original fan base (i.e., me) for selling out. In fact, the rise and rise of Whitey seemed so inevitable that one of my frontal lobes began a small Whitey backlash. It was, of course, premature, and totally unfounded, given how things turned out. The Light… was re-issued in American by fabulous underground label Dim Mak and went on to be a cult hit. Whitey went on tour across America in early 2007 with Peaches – no not Geldof, the other one – which was a fraught experience, based on his Myspace blog entries (eating Dennys for breakfast, hanging out with Hollywood A-listers, falling out with his band). One consequence of that tour is that Nathan is so aware of the differences between his British and American fan base most of the ‘pop’ songs for his new album will only be on the American version. Despite that, early single Non Stop has been used on a car advert in the States, and any geeky fans of The Sopranos (face it, you’re all geeky) will love the fact he had three tracks used on the last series. Back home, things were a little quieter. There’s been only one single released since the album, the excellent driving force of Wrap It Up in 2006 on Marquis Cha Cha. Mostly, I was reading Myspace blogs and accidentally-posted bulletins 17
ranting about his favourite books (Whitey is self-confessed literary nerd rather than music buff: he recommends Nabokov’s Despair and J. Robert Lennon’s Mailman, if you’re interested). Me and the rest of his 8451 virtual “friends” were just waiting, so patiently, for that elusive second album. But Nathan J Whitey hasn’t just been sat around wanking all this time. Countless remixes appear on mix CDs from the Cut Copy Fabric to the Kitsune Maison series, as well as b-sides to singles by Bloc Party, Kylie, Chromeo, and so on. A side project he has been working on is The Broken Hearts, a burlesque two-girl group whose wonderful plinky piano-driven first single was written and produced by Whitey (Nisha from the band is also his girlfriend). He has also actually completed over 30 tracks for the new album, which has to date gone through eight different track listings and has been re-cut five times. Last Kruger heard it’s called Stay On The Outside (subject, of course, to change by the time you read this). Currently he is gigging across America with Rory ‘Trash’ Phillips, a tour that has already seen Whitey live up to his name and end up in casualty. No peace for the wicked, it would seem. While I have heard tracks from an EP called Made of Night - due for release January 2008 - they give no clue as to 18
the overall flavour of the new album. The Light… was almost entirely played, programmed and produced by the selftaught musician. Most of the tunes were recorded on a four-track, informed by his distrust of “wanky, anal engineers”. This distrust is extended by the misanthrope to modern technology; all the electronic noises on the album come from vintage synths rather than Cubase. Where others like to digitalise, sterilise, extract the soul, he wanted to leave the noise, the dirt. And like any good, non-extremist misanthrope, he has a healthy mistrust of people’s motives. He’s an ex-journalist and graffiti artist, both occupations that by definition render you an outsider, standing at the edges of society, examining and deconstructing. Perhaps this healthy mistrust is what’s driving him to avoid me and my (potentially sinister) motives. On Tuesday evening I call him and leave a garbled message saying I’ll call him back at eight, then hang up, damning my incapacity for remain cool when speaking to answerphones. At five minutes to eight – when I am downstairs in the kitchen, making tea and dancing around to something shit, maybe some classic Madonna – the phone goes. It’s Whitey, and of course, I don’t hear it. He leaves a message, saying he’s about to get on a train to Brighton, and can I call later in the week. Which I do. Three
times a day for days in a row. I wonder how much longer this can go on before it’s considered harassment, and text him, suggesting that we perhaps set a date and time that he’s definitely free. He texts back politely declining the opportunity to speak with me, and instead mentions an email interview (all good with me – no transcribing necessary). I send questions to a hotmail account on Friday, and never hear from him again.
Epilogue There’s no real conclusion to this piece, a concept that I’m pleased with for two reasons. First, happy endings are so fucking Hollywood (while no endings are French – much better), and second, this isn’t about an ending. It’s about the constant wandering, seeking out meaning through a threaded rope of writings and the fabric of music. I’m Walter Benjamin, chasing the flâneur (Whitey fits the description better than I could hope) through historical texts, seeking to track him down, pin him to the wall. Instead, I’ll leave you with something that Whitey said. Not to me, but that’s not important. “Imbalance is fruitful. Happy people write bland music, period. To quote 19thcentury asylum graffiti, “Blessed Are The Cracked, For They Let In The Light.” That pretty much sums up every decent musician, artist, or author I can think of.” Amen to that. Let the search continue… The new EP is called Made of Night (for the moment) and is due out at the end of January (for the moment), album to follow sometime in 2008. No promises on any of this though....
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Vampire Weekend ere at K-Bunker we’re never ones to miss an opportunity. Any opportunity. Whether that’s a free sausage roll, cheap word-play or, indeed, glaring parallels between the name of a band and a cult-holiday. The annual scarefeast of Halloween has just lurched past us – where the tradition of dressing up like a dickhead and coaxing Haribo from old dears is honoured with plastic horns, pumpkins, Ketchup-blood and Crayola make-up.
With that creepy holiday just passing combined with the fact that the first ever issue of Kruger was issued on Halloween four long years ago, it seems apt they we plunder the dungeons and howl at the moon with a band everyone’s talking about; Brooklyn’s crisp-shirted preppy-beatmakers Vampire Weekend.
We were preparing to hear about how the four creeps in Vampire Weekend celebrated that dark hour by getting tidily on virgin’s blood with Mortiis. “On Halloween we were driving towards an appropriately-pale Scandinavian audience in Stockholm,” explains Chris Baio, foreman and bassist, slightly disappointed. No Ghostbustin’? no trick or treatin’? Do you like werewolves ‘n’ stuff? “Come to think of it, wizards are pretty creepy” he ponders. “So I guess they’re my favourite creature.” Speaking of frightening, right now, New York - or more specifically Brooklyn - is burning with a frankly scary abundance of sabre-toothed talent. “Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective, Yeasayer, Harlem Shakes, Ra Ra Riot and Sam Rosen - all these bands are doing new and interesting things with music, while sharing little else in common,” froths Chris. The city’s a productive community where everyone’s getting down to their own business and respecting each others. “I definitely wouldn’t consider us part of a newly emerged New York musical community. Some of the bands I just mentioned have been around for years. Some we barely know as people, if at all. New York will always have an active music scene, whether or not bands are breaking internationally
like The Strokes did. We’ve never felt like we were making music in their wake.” One thing those all those bands do have in common though - they’re all more open minded than Frankenstein’s head mid-op. They’re all imbibed with an unwillingness to close their ears to any form of music no matter how unfashionable. “I think it’s great that people are recognizing things like the ‘afro-pop’ influence in our music. We’ve all listened to a ton of African music, and it was definitely wilful on our part to include that music in our sound,” notes Chris. “At the same time, it would definitely be a stretch to label our stuff ‘world-music.’” “I listened to a lot of Oasis, Blur, Pulp and Elastica when I was younger. Still, I feel like British music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is more evident in our sound - we all grew up in Beatlesheavy households and love stuff like The Kinks, The Zombies, Elvis Costello and Squeeze. It’s about experimenting with different styles and sounds while maintaining the same vibe.” Vampire Weekend are a band you imagine who don’t just sit and listen to records then form a band - they’re
influenced by everything around them. Y’know, life, man. “Cultural cross-pollination and hidden connections are major influences on our sound.” Come again… “For example, a couple of summers ago Ezra took a trip to India and England, which got him thinking about the connection between colonialism
I think we all like stuff with an eye for detail. Lately I’ve been feeling books by Nabokov and Delillo, and Orson Welles movies. and preppy culture. More generally speaking, I think we all like stuff with an eye for detail. Lately, I’ve been feeling books by Nabokov and Delillo, and Orson Welles’ movies.” Friends pre-college the four pals started making music while studying at Columbia University.
“We had all been friends before the band started. Ezra (vocals/guitar), Chris T (drums) and Rostam (keyboard/ vocals) collaborated on a rap group called L’homme Run before Vampire Weekend started. Their senior year/my junior year, we decided to get a band together, and everything just sort of fell into place. Originally there was some talk of a horn section, but we quickly decided that the four of us felt right as a band.” And people went cockahoop for it straight away. “We played a bunch of rowdy parties at the two campus ‘literary societies’ ( St. A’s and ADP). At one of these shows, we ran out of songs to play, but the crowd was going crazy so we repeated Walcott and I Stand Corrected.” So far, pretty unspooky. Considering this is a celebration of blood, guts, ghosts and freaks. “Well, our name comes from a movie Ezra started making about four years ago” cuts in Chris. “The film is about a guy named Walcott who avenges his father’s death by travelling up the east coast to Cape Cod, killing vampires along the way.” That’ll do. Finally, some gore. Leave your stakes unsharpened - once these Vampires get their teeth into 2008, they won’t be letting go. Words by Greg Cochrane 23
G e n e r at i o n F The story of Truck 2007 and how FOALS scrawled their name into its history. Dan Tyte talks to Yannis Philippakis about the birth of a scene... Every now and again the stars align. The energy of a whole generation comes together and crashes through a wall. A dream begins. A scene ends. Another dream begins. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s not pretty. But it’s always real. It’s always vital. Sometimes you don’t realise just how important it is until it’s too late. Sometimes only time will tell. But in that moment, whether or not you knew it then, you helped push things forward. Just from being there.
of war but a brand new leopard skin pill box hat? People booed. A dream died. A scene began.
The kids at Newport Folk Festival in 1965 knew this. Dylan had played an afternoon acoustic show to the old folk mafia. The kids looked bored. The rush of the new had gone. Dylan had become part of the establishment. By the time dark fell, Bob came out into the night backed by five hep looking cats playing all the way to eleven. If you believe the myth, the old folk folks tried to take an axe to the sound system. But why do you need to play quiet so people can hear your lyrics when you’re not singing about the futility
Skip to 2007. Cultural crossover, respect and recognition needed something more tangible than mock-Ziggy face-glitter and shock-KLF beats. Then at the beginning of 2007, the buzz of Foals began. Persistant touring up, down, over and around meant the five-piece would often return to towns within the same month, playing to crowds that were mushrooming through word of mouth and MySpace hits. Foals’ music jerked with a jagged vehemence that made the kids dance, but it was underpinned with guitar work that
The kids at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall didn’t know it in 1976. But when they got home after seeing Johnny Rotten snarl his way through what were to become karaoke standards, they formed Joy Division, The Smiths, The Fall, The Buzzcocks, and Factory Records. Sometimes only time will tell.
bled an intensity that was technically tight enough to please even the hairiest of chin strokers. Indeed, Jack and Yannis were previously in a band named The Edmund Fitzgerald but left after they claimed that things had become “too serious” and they wanted to have more “fun making their music.” Fun was now on the agenda. And at Truck it was about to have its field day. In the summer of 2007, Truck Festival was ten. The original antidote festival was nearing 5th Grade age in a wild wet summer of boutique get-togethers. Truck was the sobering Yin to somewhere like say Reading’s excitable Yang. Truck offered a sense of community lost by the corporate sponsored, binocularsrequired big boys; bacon rolls by the Didcot Rotary Club, drinks by local cider providers, smiles all round. An idyllic place based on kibbutz-like ethics. All Truckers are in it together. In the summer of 2007, Truck needed this spirit more than ever. A storm of Biblical proportions saw the festival postponed at the very last minute
in July. The organisers quickly rescheduled for September but bands started to cancel. Impassioned emails went around asking people to believe. Hold on to your tickets. Show the spirit that Truck is founded on. People believed. Foals were added to the bill. Foals had history with Truck. Coming from Oxford, just a few miles through the country lanes, Foals became something of a pet project for the organisers. They recorded their first demo on the site. They played their first show off the toilet circuit there. Now returning to place where it all began to happen for them, against all odds, it was about to happen. If the storm hadn’t blown in, things would have been very different… Every now and again the stars align. Saturday 22nd September awoke to glorious sunshine, out of kilter with the pitter-pattern set by the grey clouds of the months that had passed. Back on home soil, Foals were in good spirits. Old band
mates hung around backstage, friends made on the road played to the pareddown crowd. But the sun wouldn’t stay out for long. July’s storm wasn’t the only problem to be faced by Truck… Yannis: “It had this different, strange atmosphere. It was a bit more wild, probably because the people that were there were a bit pissed off from camping in the cold. You needed to make more of an effort to have a good time. It started getting considerably busier when we were setting up. We’d set up all our stuff and we were just itching to play and to be honest we just really wanted to fucking rip into it. But one of the organisers came over and said they’d probably have to hold off and clear the entire tent out as it was just too rammed.” The side of the stage was a hectic scene during these moments. Various members of Foals tried to bustle onto the stage only to be met with a wall of stern but shaken security. The kids in the tent couldn’t reach in their pockets to light a cigarette. A barrier collapsed. The show, which back in July was never on, was off. For now. Yannis “Everyone just started going apeshit. Me and Jack had to go on the mic and say that everyone should just hang on or we wouldn’t be allowed to play at all. At the time we were all champing at the
bit and we just wanted to play. When they said we weren’t allowed to play and they were gonna reschedule it, we were like ‘What are we gonna do?’ So we just went and got drunk because we wanted to kill the time.” Foals’ slot was moved to the bigger Barn stage 90 minutes hence. The squashed kids spilled out of the tent with the same window and filled it in much the same
It built up how much we wanted to play, so by the time we did get onstage we were pretty much leaking red out of our eyes
fashion. As the clock ticked, liquour was knocked back, amphetamines kicked in, tension built. The sun went down and the farmer’s fields became blanketed in an ominous, foreboding darkness… Yannis “It built up how much we wanted to play, so by the time we did get onstage we were pretty much leaking red out of our
eyes. The whole thing was kinda ironic as I think it was even more dangerous at the barn. There were less security people at the barn and about an extra 300 people, it was ridiculous. The stage got completely invaded and all these weird-looking kids started pulling their tops off and moving around. There was a complete lack of self consciousness, everyone doing this really shit dancing. Nobody got onstage to get laid, they just got onstage so that it was wild. I remember there was one point where I got bundled to the ground and people were in between the amp and my mic. It’s cool that people can feel that comfortable or that deranged or that the music tapped into them, man. The thing I think is cool about that and the mentality there is towards our band is that people will come and listen respectfully but at the same time, either a faction of people or when the crowd is in a certain mood, not disrespectfully or anything, but they just get onstage.”
halfway through his set. At Spike Island, if you could hear Ian Brown (through the chemical clouds) then you were probably less fortunate than the rest of the baggypanted pilled-up masses. Yannis “It doesn’t matter if we play sloppily, this show took it to the core of what a live show is. Fundamentally in terms of playing that’s got to be one of our worst shows ever. We were all hammered, we couldn’t hear anything…if you watch the live footage on the internet and shut your eyes, it does sound pretty crap. But it was primal and raw and punk in some way. It was just about that primal connection.” The kids there that night knew they were part of something special. A dream died. A scene was born. Sometimes only time will tell. Colour Photography by Tim Cochrane Black & White Photography by Louise Roberts
The old ‘legendary shows’ always get dusted off and done to death by some bloke in tired denims in the corner of The Dog and Duck. He thinks he had a great time. He thinks it was the best thing he ever heard. But that isn’t always the case. The weight of history fools the ears. At the Isle of Wight in 1970, Jimi was so pissed off with the technical problems he told the 600,000 crowd to go and buy hot dogs 27
5 T hings
my parents have in common with
My parents recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. I also recently interviewed Holy Fuck. What do these two things have in common? More than you might think.
Mr & Mrs Price
holy fuck 1. T hey both just had an anniversary.
2. They’re both experimental.
This past month, Brian Borcherdt celebrated his fourth anniversary playing as Holy Fuck. Back then it was just a solo project and going off his first show, not a very good one. “It was a total disaster. It was probably the worst show of my life. At one point I peeked out behind the curtain and I could still see this wideopen room and everyone’s just staring at me, dead quiet. It was so embarrassing.” A year later, Brian joined up fellow Canadian Graham Walsh and along with an ever-rotating cast of bassists and drummers, has been cranking out lo-fi electronic goodness ever since.
Holy Fuck is known for making complex, electronic music without the help of laptops. Their sound is made with toy keyboards, cordless phones and even a 35mm film synchronizer. Everything is live and according to Graham, each show is unique. “Maybe not necessarily set list and song wise but each song will be played differently every night.” Brian admits they don’t rehearse either. “We don’t want to spoil what makes it fun, that random element.”
As I mentioned before, this same month the Prices celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Don too was also just a solo project until he joined up with Jean and the two have been cranking out marital bliss ever since.
Jean Price is known for making complex, peanut butter sandwiches without the help of common sense. Her sandwiches are made with peanut butter, cheese, lettuce, and even a large slab of mayonnaise.
3. T hey like to entertain large groups of strangers.
4. T hey both relate to Indiana Jones.
5. They’re both spontaneous.
Holy Fuck always puts on a show, so does it matter how big the crowd is? Sort of. Brian explains, “If you can throw a party in a big room, you’re laughin’. When you have those great shows in a really big room and the whole crowd’s going crazy, there’s nothing better.”
CMJ described Holy Fuck as “electrorock that will melt your face.” So is there any pressure to melt face? Graham jokes that “when we turn our amps on, its like Indiana Jones opening the ark of the covenant and anybody that’s in there immediately like, ghosts and spirits come out of our amps and stuff.”
When you’re called Holy Fuck, you have to get sick of explaining yourself. I ask Graham if they ever lie about the name. “Oh yeah, that’s another fun game, just to come up with a quick wit answer.” Brian explains, “it has to be kind of like word association, you come up with the first word that pops in your head.” During our chat, some spontaneous band names they shouted out included “The Red Walls” (as we were sitting next to a red wall), “Muffin Tops” (in reference to Graham’s tummy bearing photo that’d just been taken) and several other randoms such as Dink Dink, Bingo Wings, and Corn Legs.
Jean and Don also put on a show. That’s part of why they started giving flamboyant historical tours of Colonial Williamsburg dressed in three-cornered hats and knickers. No lie.
Having seen Raiders of the Lost Ark countless times, Jean and Don are quite familiar with the concept of face-melting. Dad has also dressed up as Indy for many a Halloween.
Other similarities abound, but I’ll leave it at that. So with all this in common, will my parents learn to appreciate Holy Fuck’s music? Hard to say. According to Brian Borcherdt, “music should hit you on an emotional level and you can’t like over criticize it. Either you feel it or you don’t and beyond that you can’t make up long-winded descriptions as to why it sucks or why it sounds like somebody else.” Good point. I suppose the happy couple will have to decide for themselves. Words by Stephanie Price Photography by Anouck Bertin - www.anouckbertin.com
Jean Price, an avid singer is also known for spontaneous outbursts. Hers, however, usually come in the form of yodeling, show tunes and excerpts from the Sound of Music.
Itâ€™s strange. Fiddly, intricate, frankly mind bending riffage and spazzy time changes were once the domain of lonely, lonely boys in their lonely, lonely rooms soundtracked by bands such as Don Caballero, Sweep the Leg Johnny and Battles. Now, after a couple of years of tweaking and restructuring, the mighty Truckers of Husk, featuring former Jarcrew bassist Hywel Evans and drummer Rod Thomas are picking up plaudits and primed to nestle nicely into the recent popularity slipstream created by bands with far too many time changes and a dangerous amount of tasty ideas.
“Well, I guess it started with me and Scott, and Todd, but Todd was on drums then and we did it for our University project, so we all did that for our assignment and never really did anything with it, but we carried on and then they left and Ben and Jimmy joined.” Ben and Jimmy have their own past. Ben Woods has trod the boards in a few Cardiff bands of similar eyebrow melting intent - not least the brief but brilliant
instrumental attack of FTSE 100. Jimmy Ottley is practically a prodigy of a cellist adding to the fact Truckers; via the sum of their shifting parts are as much danceable, stratospheric pop merchants as an exercise in invention and experimentalism. In case you were wondering, drummer Rod had more important things to do than talk into a box of wires in a very wooden Cardiff boozer. Instead, he is pigeon racing. Anyway. Beginnings.
“Well, it was always like I kind of wanted to play and the songs were there already, but it was never meant to be from the point of view of playing gigs and stuff,” confirms Hywel. “I never started with the intention of getting signed and making it – I just wanted to ‘play the music’,” mocks the guitarist. “People seem to be taking an interest now which is cool, but the only reason I wanted to do this was to be able play with bands that I like and we seem to have done that.” True. Despite being rarely seen outside the Welsh capital so far, Truckers’ gigs have become a fixture on people’s calendars and the hotly-tipped quartet supported a range of tastemakers, not least the epic Battles, a band who share their desire for repetition and unhinged melodies: a sonic blueprint that is scratching the door of the mainstreams’ palate. “Lots of girls seem to be coming to the gigs – which I never expected, I thought it was just like blokes music,” states a perplexed Hywel. “I don’t think our music is that, sort of difficult to listen to,” adds Jimmy, “but it’s not, I mean I can imagine people being more mainstream – our music is quite easy to get into.” It seems that more and more people are wanting a slice of Truckers’ cake. Regarding the Battles support slot: “It was good – we played alright didn’t we,” confirms Hywel with delicious
understatement. “You could actually hear my cello for once,” chirps Jimmy, a phrase not oft heard in the pantheon of rock quotes. More importantly, how the hell did a classically trained cellist, inspired by free improv become involved in the burgeoning Truckers mix. “It was that last ever show with the previous line up,” says Jimmy, “and I went up to them and ask, just for the hell of it, ‘if you ever want a cellist, ask me’. And, then, Hywel said he’d been looking for one.” “It was a weird
coincidence,” adds Hywel, “we had been looking for one, and he just turned up out of the blue saying ‘can I play cello for you?” And how did Ben get from the spastic artillery of FTSE 100 to playing bass and occasional percussion in the good ship Truckers of Husk? “What do you want to know?” is the coy response. “FTSE split quite acrimoniously and I was just looking for something to occupy my time, and I contacted Hywel and that was that.” Glad we sorted that out. Aside from the Battles support slot, Truckers’ biggest show so far was Cardiff’s new multi-venue, multi-genre sonic menagerie, Swn Festival, where they shared poster space with the likes of Edwyn Collins, Beirut, The Cribs, and, of course, Steve Lamacq a man who is 90% Strongbow and salt and vinegar crisps. Medical fact. Their Friday night set, alongside Duke Spirit, was recorded for Bethan Elfyn’s new Radio One show, further proof of their buzz status in the Welsh capital. So far, Truckers have appeared scarcely in recorded format, something is about to change. “We’ve got an EP coming out on My Kung Fu… when we finish recording it – hopefully the start of next year maybe,” says Hywel. “I don’t know really, if they are still interested maybe release some more stuff with them.” “We’ve got some new stuff, we’ve recorded a couple of new tracks,” adds
Ben – big departure? “Same, same old shit,” adds Hywel taking nonchalant deprecation to a new level. “Needs more cowbell,” according to Ben. Cowbell additions aside, the emergence of tracks to quench the growing demand for Truckers’ material. One thing that has benefited Truckers thus far is the widening of places, in Cardiff, for bands to play that don’t specialise in Beatles cover songs / Stereophonics orientated gash that seems to entice the paying public, and, with a receptive audience that has seemingly ascended from the cellars, Hywel and Ben are very much aware of the opportunities this presents. “I think that’s down to the promoters,” states Ben, “because a lot of them are more sympathetic to sort of the new wave of bands so you have a platform to play on.” “I think there are a lot more DIY bands than us,” adds Hywel, “bands like Attack + Defend, Businessman Records, a lot of people seem to be doing their own thing now.”
latest project?” prompts Jimmy. “Oh yeah,” enthuses Hywel, “we might do an eighties horror B movie, so yeah I’ll probably end up doing that. Oh dear! It will be fun to film. You can be the psycho killer Jimmy. I think we could do like a Jekyll and Hyde thing – Jimmy can drink some potion, go crazy kill some cheerleaders.” “I could use my cello spike,” offers Jimmy with the relaxed precision of a veteran serial killer.” “We need a series of inventive ways to kill people, so a cello is great, psycho
cello killer,” smiles Hywel. “There is this dvd I noticed in HMV, in the world cinema section, a horror film called Cello, and the front picture is a cello case, that obviously has a body of some kind in it, so it would be interesting to see that, maybe get some ideas – it looks really crap. Does anyone know where I can get some good ear plugs?” Words by James W Roberts Photography by Mei Lewis - www.missionphotographic.com
The spirit of Halloween, and the general descent into the bleakness of winter, it seems, has not bypassed the Truckers quartet. And, like all artists worth their spunk, the world of visual arts is never far away. Not content with dabbling in the revolutionary world of music video, Hywel and co fancy themselves at wannabe Dario Argentos. “What’s your 33
Dear: Kruger invites you to a party, and unwraps the present with Lightspeed Champion, Eugene McGuinness, Noah and the Whale and Emmy the Great.
At this moment in London, as I type and you read, a collection of folskters and friends are building a community of collaborative artists who are pushing and redefining scenes with every stage shared and every record released. The next few pages are an abridged version of one part of a snapshot of a little bit of the story, in its own words... Lightspeed Champion: “About a year ago when everyone was doing acoustic shows and whatever, I was doing a show with her and she came up to me at the end and said my songs sounded like Weezer, and I was like ‘oh my god!’ and then we just decided to record and play together.” Emmy The Great: “I was djing at Frog, and I played a Weezer song as he came in, and he came up and was like ‘I love Weezer!’, and I was like ‘I love Weezer’, and that’s how we met.”
FOLK, IN THEIR OWN WRITE... 34
However it happened, when EmmaLee Moss and Dev Haynes began to record and gig together in 2006, they probably had no idea they were forming an alliance that would help draw together an assortment of like-minded musicians in London who would be dubbed ‘the new folk renaissance’. Four of the main artists and influences on this movement - ex-Test Icicle turned country-pop balladeer Lightspeed Champion, fresh-
faced troubadour Eugene McGuinnes, menstrual pop songstress Emmy The Great and death-obsessed rag-taggers Noah and the Whale – will be the narrators. Lightspeed Champion: “Everyone is interlinked in some way...” Tom (Noah and the Whale): “There are so many artist crossovers. Me and Charlie used to play for Emmy last year, and Emmy sings with Lightspeed Champion and Eugene, and I guess it’s hard to get the staff as well, so if they’re nice people, well then you end up sticking together.” Emmy The Great: “You can’t help but be friends with a whole bunch of people who make music, and because musicians are in such short supply, you’re always going to be helping each other out if you’re into the same kind of music, but it’s not a scene, because it’s not like if someone came round tomorrow, we’d be like ’well you’ve got to join, you’ve got to go through a process’, it’s just like you end up making music together because there aren’t enough musicians around.” Charlie (Noah and the Whale): “I do feel like the idea of a community is nice, because I feel that what everyone does, then each person’s thing is bigger than what it is in itself, I mean the fact
that everyone plays on each other’s stuff is lovely, but what comes out of it is the best part.” Matt (Noah and the Whale): “The way lots of scenes work is that you get a couple of people who are good, for whatever reason, and then a load of people jump on that bandwagon, and the quality drains out, and it all get’s filtered down, until you get people who want to be in bands to try and make it and get famous and get a record label. Essentially, I don’t think Charlie has ever written a song with any other aim than writing a decent song.” Eugene McGuinness: “The word scene to me implies when people come to a gig and they’re dressed like you, or that we’ve got something to say, and usually that’s always what I would think of as a scene, so it’s quite a big term for what essentially is just a group of people who know each other and play together, which just seems to work out.” Lightspeed Champion: “I used that word ‘scene’ recently. It’s like a dirty word to say. But what else can you call it? A group? Because there’s obvious links and you can’t deny that we’re not all linked, we’re all on each others’ records, we all play shows together.”
Matt (Noah and the Whale): “As soon as you’ve got a collection of mates, you take the egos out of it, and people are recognised for not only being nice people but for also being competent musicians. There’s no reason, like in any form of musical community, for people not to play together, because it’s what musicians like to do. The need to create, to play with new people, you’re going to get something different and you’re going to create a scene.” Eugene McGuinness: “I don’t think anyone wants to be looped into the same sort of thing, because I think everyone does very different things. I think Emmy’s completely different from Noah and the Whale, and I’m completely different from Dev, but that’s why I think it’s really cool, because you get a lot of scenes where a lot of acts just sounds the same, and I think lazy journalists, or people who we might not be their cup of tea, they might think we all sound the same, but I really don’t think so. People use words like twee, and I don’t think any of us are twee.” Emmy The Great: “I can’t imagine how they could find vaginal discharge, atheism and car crashes twee, unless it’s really dark twee, but anti-folk is just something I abhor, I just think it’s something that doesn’t exist. I went to the anti-folk club in New York, and there’s nothing going on there, and there’s nothing going on
“The need to create, to play with new people, you’re going to get something different and you’re going to create a scene” 35
here [London] that’s anti-folk. I mean, I guess there is an anti-folk scene going on in Brighton, and you know Everett True [Plan B editor] recently described it as ‘middle class, slightly humorous, slightly ironic musings, maybe with a punk ethic thrown in’. I personally don’t feel like that’s me at all, and there’s these real people doing real things who call themselves antifolk, who want to be called anti-folk, and it’s not fair that people are going ‘Emmy the Great’, queen of anti-folk! I like don’t even know them, and they must be really pissed off, they must be like ‘no, this is our scene, this is what we do’. They actually want to have a scene, and it’s not fair that they get that taken off them. It’s really annoying” Charlie (Noah and the Whale): I like telling people that we’re a folk-punk band. I guess it’s a combination of lyrical storytelling and instrumentation and attitude...
Matt (Noah and the Whale): It’s not contrived either, because the sound of Noah and the Whale is, in essence, the sound of the five of us in a room together. We’re not trying to sound like y’know, we’re not trying to rip off another band. So we’ve all got our different influences, and they come together as Noah and the Whale, which is a very honest sound.
Lightspeed Champion: I think slowly people are starting to see that I kind of do whatever, and that you can’t really categorise it as one thing or the other. I play a couple of songs which are a bit weird, I mean, it’s just kind of like I just enjoy it. Lightspeed Champion was the name I used to use when I was fourteen and I did stuff on my own. So it’s more just like me on my own rather than using my actual name. It’s Lightspeed Champion, and in that sense, I could release an r ‘n’ b record and call it Lightspeed Champion. Eugene McGuiness: I went to university in Liverpool, and was in a load of really shitty bands. It was a really good education for me as a city, because their attitude to music is fantastic. It’s a small city but it’s so full of music, so you have be really good to be anywhere, so that was a good testing of the water. All the good acts in Liverpool made me realise how shit my stuff was at the time, because if you’re just writing for yourself you lose all touch with reality, which can be a really good thing, but you can also come up with the most vile disgusting rubbish. It taught me that I wanted to do the solo thing, and right now that this is how I want my music to sound, but who know’s what I’ll be doing in two years time. Also, God knows what Dev is going to be doing in two years time, what anyone is going to be doing.
Lightspeed Champion: “I’d like to concentrate more on recording because it allows me to experiment with more sounds. I really appreciate people watching like y’know... and I get really flattered but my job is the rough making of the song rather than the recreating it live aspect. But like say someone asked me to do an acoustic show at the weekend, I’d probably be like, “ah no”. But then what usually happens is that they’ll be like, “ah Eugene and Emmy are playing” and then I’m like, “ah yeah sure!” It’s kind of like a safety blanket... like y’know... together we’re stronger.”
Charlie (Noah and the Whale): My favourite thing anyone has ever written about us was a reviewer from Playlouder who saw us at Latitude and said that she felt excited everytime she came to see us just in case we invited her to join the band, which is great. That’s exactly what we’d like people to feel. Eugene McGuinness: “I think that what it is right now, is this is a moment when everyone is together and doing things together, and in a couple of years time we could all be doing something completely different. Something like this might never happen to any of us again.”
Emmy The Great: I love playing with Dev and with Eugene, and I loved it when I sang with Noah and the Whale. I was happy to be their backing singer.
5 vital tracks: 1. Johnny Flynn – The Epic Tale of Tom & Sue (Young & Lost Club) 2. Noah and the Whale – Five Years Time (Young & Lost Club ) 3. Lightspeed Champion – Galaxy of the Lost (Domino) 4. Emmy The Great – City Song (Close Harbour)
5. Eugene McGuinness – Monsters Under the Bed (Double Six) 37
Emmy The Great
releases her records through her own label, Close Harbour. Her latest offering, My Bad EP, was released on August 20th 2007. Emmy has contributed backing vocals to many releases, including two early Jeremy Warmsley singles and the Lightspeed Champion album. Her backing band features Stars of Sunday League and Young Husband, who are both artists in their own right and are both called Euan. Emmy The Great attended a Steiner School as a child, and at the age of 11 wrote a play which earned her school £800 and a trip to Canada. She describes herself as “a very hormonal cat lady destined to become the next Miss Havisham”, and hopes to begin recording her debut album early in 2008. You can find out more about her here:
is signed to Domino Records, a continuation of the deal that he held with his previous band Test Icicles. He has released three singles to date, and will be releasing his album in the early spring. As well as Lightspeed Champion, Dev is also ‘the machine’ in Florence and the Machine, with Florence contributing vocals to Galaxy of the Lost amongst other songs. Among Lightspeed Champion’s biggest fans is, Conor Oberst, who personally invited Dev to his Omaha, Nebraska studio to record his debut album with Saddle Creek resident producer Mike Mogis. Dev is originally from Houston, but has lost his accent. You can find out more about him here: www.myspace.com/lightspeedchampion
5 to find out more about 1. Laura Marling - www.myspace.com/lauramarling 2. Stars of Sunday League - www.myspace.com/thestarsofsundayleague 3. Florence and the Machine - www.myspace.com/florenceandthemachinemusic Emmy The Great 4. Semifinalists - www.myspace.com/semifinalists 5. The Train Chronicles - www.myspace.com/thetrainchronicles 38
have released one single through Young & Lost Club, with their second single, 2 Bodies and 1 Heart, to follow in January. Emmy The Great was originally their backing vocalist, though that role is now filled by the hotly-tipped Laura Marling. Drummer Doug is the elder brother of lead singer Charlie, who is the chief songwriter. Celebrated blog Good Weather for Airstrikes rated Jocasta by Noah and the Whale as the standout track on their recent M3 Volume 15 mix tape, which is a snapshot of the London indie-folk scene. Many of Noah and the Whaleâ€™s songs centre around the theme of death. You can find out more about them here: www.myspace.com/noahandthewhale
released his debut mini album, The Early Learnings of Eugene McGuinnes, on Double Six, a subsidiary of his publishers Domino Records, in the autumn of 2007. He has toured extensively with The Mules as part of their Pick Your Own tour, and often joins them onstage. Aside from a few complex drum lines, Eugene played every instrument on his debut, but would like a more collaborative effort on his full album. He began to play the guitar when he realised that he was no good at football, and has an acute dislike of Led Zeppelin. Eugene McGuinness was the inspiration for this article, find out more about him here: www.myspace.com/eugenemcguinness85
Noah and the Whale
Photography by Kamil Janowski - www.kjanowski.com 39
Greetings lucky mortal - you’re clearly one of the cooler kids in the playground because you’re invited to Klanguage’s third birthday party...
... It’s going to be in France, but we haven’t decided where yet because the band members live miles away from each other. It’s going to be fancy dress, but the singer got weirded out by blood on her costume so she might have to borrow yours. Prepared yet? You should be. “I’d dress up for sure!!” exclaims Klanguage singer Marianne-Elise, in a cloud of exclamation marks. “Me and my boyfriend played Neo and Trinity from Matrix at a party. We arrived with guns and everything, it was really cool.” Fancy dress and fantasy play a big part in Klanguage’s life. Their singles and superb selftitled debut album, out last year on Rise Recordings, are filled with intricately drawn creations straight out of Edward Lear via the Early Learning Centre. Marianne rates Noir Kenedy in Paris’s Le Marais quarter for outfits. “I wanted to buy a white dress for a mix (DJ set) with my friend Sylvie of Sexee, the artist who made these strange Klanguage beasts. We are called Dementia and we always wear costumes and masks for our mix. The first one was called Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (which is the title of a Pedro Almodovar movie) and there was this beautiful white wedding dress, completely soiled by blood just like in Tarantino’s Kill Bill... but I was a bit afraid to buy it.” Formed three years ago, Klanguage burst into music blog consciousness during 2006’s slavish adoration of all things French electro. Their snippy, energetic singles Priceless Things and The Message fit right in with the musical Frenaissance captained by the Ed Banger and Kitsuné labels. Klanguage has a strong pedigree. It’s the project of one of electro’s most respected producers, Yuksek, aka Pierre-Alexandre Busson. A classically trained pianist, he was part of the underground Databass collective for seven years, and at the tender age of 26 is already running out of fingers to keep in his various musical pies. He’s joined by Marianne, whose heavily accented English vocals sound like how Ladytron might on an emotional day, and the music and samples of Clément Daquin, both of whom are artists in their own right.
“I used to live in London 10 years ago when Air made their first English appearances on TV, the time of the very first French electro scene. But when we started three years ago, it wasn’t as prolific as today,” says Marianne, who admits to being surprised whenever she meets Klanguage fans.
Not a typical gang of three-year-olds then, but like most kids regardless of age, they’ve got their own language…sort of. “If you listen to our song Horse Friend and if you try to translate it in French, word by word, then you will understand something much more funny. If we really had our own language, it’d be dirty.”
“The strangest time was at a French festival called L’Eurochéennes. Klanguage wasn’t (due to play) but I was there to see good shows and have a good time. On the first day a group of young fans went totally hysterical when they saw me, it was really funny.”
Looking at them blowing the candles out on their Barbie/Bob/Banksy birthday cake, life stretches ahead of them full of possibility and promise. Klanguage could find a new identity (“We’d be pagan”), and God, maybe have kids (“I think it would be a very ugly thing... maybe with two heads. It would be a strange creature of course.”)
Whether Klanguage themselves will actually turn up to their own party is debatable. Marianne lives in Paris, and the boys live in Reims, a couple of hours away. “I was born on the 25th of December, so I’m quite amnesic when it comes to anniversaries,” says Marianne. “Anyway, we are not very romantic. We do things day by day and we don’t see each other so much. For the first time in three years we planified (sic) to have a real lunch together few months ago. We ate Japanese food in a small restaurant in Reims, where the boys live. I guess these moments should happened more often.”
But with three independent-minded band members all living apart, where will this particular kid be in 20 years? A doctor. College? Oh dear lord, a PR? “Nah. In jail, maybe.” Words by Kat Brown Illustration by Lucy Begent - www.lucybegent.com
This is your life...
Suddenly, Ian’s calm is obliterated as a hand taps upon his languid shoulder. He turns to see the smiling figure of Michael Aspel, microphone clutched in one hand, a copy of Kruger magazine bound in red leather in the other. “What the f-” starts Ian, but Aspel, the consummate professional, cuts in to prevent the expletive being aired.
“Ian Williams, multi-instrumentalist with Battles,” he begins, before uttering those immortal words: “This is your life”.
Ian Williams sits in the bar of the Manchester Academy 2, enjoying a pint with his band’s tour manager. He looks relaxed; any nerves ahead of this sell-out gig are well-hidden. That said, sell-out shows are becoming less of a novelty to Battles these days. Each of the UK dates of their European tour has sold out, as have most of the US shows. If you’re Ian Williams, guitarist and keyboard wizard in one of the world’s most inventive acts, you’d probably feel pretty relaxed too.
BA-BA-BA-BAAAAA! Within seconds of those famous blasts of brass, we are transported from the student-filled bar to the gloss of a TV studio, Ian’s family and friends sat proudly on stage behind the floppyfringed Pittsburgher. Aspel turns to Ian – who’s a little perplexed at this silver-haired granny’s favourite and his slightly tacky show – and begins to hint at who the first guest might be. Michael Aspel: Everyone knows who this first guest is Ian, though you were only very young when he came into your life. Your mother liked him almost as much as she liked your father, but that’s another story! Let’s hear from the man himself…
(A voice emits from the monitors)
Ian, at a certain club, music and fashion were always the passion. I know music was certainly yours! Michael Aspel: Ladies and gentlemen, Barry Manilow!
If you see an elephant while on safari, you think “OK, that makes sense”. But if you see an elephant doing a ballet on stage, wearing a tutu, you’d be like, “what the (bleep)? Ian shakes the perma-tanned wrinkly hand that emerges, and explains... Ian: The basic inspiration for me was when my mother played Barry Manilow records – that’s when I knew I loved music. But would I say that Manilow made we want to make music? No! Kiss came along, when I was six or seven, and that was my own music – music my parents didn’t like. 45
Then I discovered punk rock when I was at high school, and that brought along a whole new way of thinking. Michael Aspel: Thanks Ian! Our next guests are people that people that, without whom, you might not have joined Battles, and the world might not have your wonderful album Mirrored. Let’s hear from them. (Again, a voice booms from the speakers)
Ian, it looks like that math rock tag is following you everywhere. That’s what you get for being from Pittsburgh, I guess! Michael Aspel: Don Caballero, everyone! Ian: I lived in Pittsburgh when I was younger – that’s where I started my first band, Don Caballero. Those, and Storm and Stress (William’s second band, formed with former Don Cab bassist Erich Emm), took me out of my little home town. That’s how I met with John (Stanier – Battles’ juggernaut drummer), when we played with his band Helmet. Also, Ty (Braxton – he of the demonically treated vocals that make Battles’ tracks so freakish) came up to me at a solo show I did because he knew Don Caballero. They were real landmarks for me – and without them, I wouldn’t have got to know the guys in this band. 46
Michael Aspel: By 2002, Battles had formed and had already begun to record their first EPs. Yet it was the backing of another, more established act that really begun to move things along for the group. See if you recognise this voice, Ian. (The voice speaks)
Well Ian, it seems things have come full circle. I took you guys on your first tours and now here I am, second on the bill to you in Manchester. How the (bleep) did this happen?! Michael Aspel: Let’s have a big round of applause for Prefuse 73! Ian: A big landmark in our career – ironically, as tonight we are playing with them – was Prefuse 73. Scott Herren heard our EPs and liked them a lot, and so he took us on tour. At that point, we were still pretty unknown. He brought us to Europe, all around America and Japan – and he pretty much got us hooked up with Warp Records. Playing with Prefuse 73 was a big step – it changed a lot of things for us. Michael Aspel: Which leads us nicely to our next guests, Ian. (Voiceover)
We’d already signed Broadcast, !!! and Maxïmo Park. None of the techno
geeks really complained, so we thought we could get away with you lot as well! Michael Aspel: Ian, say hello to your record label, Warp! Ian: Signing to Warp, making our album – they were real landmarks in the band’s history. For us to be on a traditionally electronic label frees us from a lot of expectation. It’s like, if you see an elephant while on safari, you think “OK, that makes sense”. But if you see an elephant doing a ballet on stage, wearing a tutu, you’d be like, “what the (bleep)?” And that’s kind of what we are – that elephant. Michael Aspel: Er, thanks Ian – I think... We’ve just got time for our last group of guests, and I’m sure they need no introduction. Nevertheless, let’s hear from them. (Three voices, weirdly pitched an octave up, begin shouting) Jeez, Ian man, we’re on
stage in an hour! Get a move on! Michael Aspel: It’s your fellow bandmates in Battles: Ty Braxton, John Stanier and Dave Konopka! Ian: We’re four different people, it’s a 25 per cent each thing. We come from different walks of life; we’d all make fun of each other’s record collections.
And that’s part of what you hear in the music – it takes a while for the four of us to work things out, ‘cos we all see things differently. When it started, it didn’t click – it took a while. When we began playing every night, that’s when I started noticing that we’re actually really good. We started touring Mirrored in May, but already the songs are evolving. I think we are moving forward. Michael Aspel: Ian, you’ve been a star, and we’d like to thank you and your many friends and family for contributing to make this a classic This is Your Life. The credits roll, as the guests pour on to the studio floor to congratulate Ian. However, the bedazzled guitarist finds himself being dragged away from the studio and back into the tour van to get back to the business of playing their alien music to their growing legion of devotees. Michael Aspel, meanwhile, turns viciously to his producer. “Battles? I thought you said The fucking Beatles!” Words by Neil Condron Illustration by Jon Owen - www.jonowen.co.uk
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Three decades on Les Savy Fav and Kruger commiserate punk going Barbie…
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Punk wasn’t born forcing a diaper-pin through its nose, sporting subversion on its lips and waxing a lime green mohawk, despite what BBC News 24 might suggest. Almost certainly, news channels and papers will stock inches and airtime like Woolworth’s Christmas aisle with news that punk is 30 years young. The reason being, the Sex Pistols’ seminal clatter ‘God Save The Queen’ was released three decades ago in autumn ‘77. It isn’t quite that simple though. “It seems a little awkward,” snuffles Syd Butler contemplating the landmark. “If you and I were stood at the bar having a pint I would basically give you both sides of the coin. It makes total sense that they’re celebrating 30 years of the Sex Pistols but it was also market punk.” Butler, bass player with Brooklyn’s Les Savy Fav (12 years, and five albums old this year) and pilot of the impeccable Frenchkiss Records is, in case you were wondering, a man fairly qualified to scrutinize punk, a chap fortunate enough to grow up in DC during Ian MacKaye’s Dischord Records’ prime. “The idea, the concept of the Sex Pistols is amazing,” he froths. “They were a 48
phenomenon that changed the world. But, the package of punk was sold with the Pistols. They were the poster children of what punk was, and what it’s twisted into…”
rebellion. “When punk was starting and being organic people didn’t know what the fuck it was. Once you give a name to something your parents understand , it
Until their incredible new opus Let’s Stay Friends Butler had released all of LSF’s records on his own imprint, reared a family and retained an unwavering DIY mentality. His college pal and lead-singer in Les Savy Fav Tim Harrington wears a puppy suit onstage, spends his work hours designing tea towels, cushions and beds for ‘small dogs’ with his wife and, as recent as last May’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, shaved his head live onstage. LSF are a brotherhood of purists. It’s deflating news then that “Sex Pistols were told to challenge things constantly. They’d say , ‘Hey Johnny do something fucked up’ and he would do it. They were a marketed band from day one.”
If people don’t approve, well fuck them. It’s part of an angst and a willingness to be an individual and change your surroundings.
Rotten, Vicious ‘n’co. were neither the birth nor the death of punk, the originators nor undertakers, but a tarnished moment which saw major labels wedge their greedy fingers in punk rock’s jam jar for the first time. Subsequently they wrapped up the concept like a Furby at Christmas and flogged it as flat-packed
dies,” sighs Syd. “Someone came along and said , ‘Right we’re going to exploit this.” That non-conformist spirit didn’t get carried out in a coffin when the Pistols inked a big bucks contract though. “The punk heartbeat will be there forever. It’s a state of mind. The heartbeat of punk is a way of approaching music, art or culture in a way that’s more unique,” Butler dead-
pans. “If people don’t approve, well fuck them. It’s part of an angst and a willingness to be an individual and change your surroundings.” Is that something you encourage? “Yeah, you’ve got to have a little of that punk ‘go-fuck-yourself’ attitude to be on Frenchkiss Records.” “In fact, we were having this discussion at a dinner party that was ‘who is the most punk person on the planet?’ and at the end of the dinner there was a consensus that right now Björk was the most punk person on the planet.” Punk’s a flickering torch being held by a select few including an Inuit inventress. “Her approach, her fashion, everything about her is anti-establishment and yet she is establishment.” Autumn 2007 isn’t so much the birthday of punk as the anniversary of subversion being farmed, pre ened, pimped and packaged. While there are still a few people kicking against the forces of conformity, punk (the concept) is forever 17, naïve and idealistic. A 30-year commemoration? Punk wouldn’t know what to do with a pearl necklace. Words by Greg Cochrane Illustration by Eleanor Stevenson - www.eakdesign.com
Scott H. Biram
“A BONE SHOT OUT OF MY LEG AND MY FOOT BROKE IN HALF” We first told you about bluesman Scott H Biram on the Kruger website a while back now, then showed you exactly why we liked him so much by hosting his show as autumn drew in. But there are things about Biram that are best coming from the man himself, things that charlatan scribes could never do justice; so sit back and relax as the man everyone’s calling next year’s Seasick Steve tells you about a day he’ll never forget...
“I used to live out in the country outside of a little town called San Marcus in Texas, and I’d gone into town one day to have some lunch and buy some CDs. I was driving back in my truck, listening to one of the CDs I’d bought as I came over a hill on an undivided four-lane highway.
three places, my right arm, the bone was sticking out and the steering wheel was pressed against me really hard. Luckily some guy showed up and pushed my seat back real hard and held it back so I could breath.
There was a truck coming up the hill in the other direction, and some car had stopped in front of them to turn. They were waiting for me to pass to turn, and as I passed them, the truck came over the hill saw them, swerving into the oncoming traffic and running right over the top of my truck.
Then the fire department got there and got out the Jaws of Life and broke open the truck and pulled me out, and then they put me on a helicopter and flew me to San Antonio Military Hospital. I woke up the next morning with tubes in my throat with people in military fatigues walking around and I didn’t know where I was.
We spun around and it hit me again, smashing my truck down to about 3 ft high. The angle that the truck hit me, it crushed my truck over to the side and my driver side window broke over my head. The dash came and smashed my legs and a bone shot out of my leg and my foot broke in half. My knee was shattered in
My dad said ‘You know why you’re here? You were hit by an 18 Wheeler’, and pulled his arm down like an 18 Wheeler honking its horn. So I flipped him the bird and tried to spell the word ‘tour’ with my hand, ‘cos I couldn’t speak and I was supposed to be going on tour in six days. My dad couldn’t understand what I was
trying to say but I wanted to find out if my tour was still going to be ok... ha ha ha ha, that’s what I was worried about the most. I spent a month in the hospital, and over the summer I was in and out having surgery ‘cos of all the infections and all the pins in my arms and legs, so when I started booking my first tour back I was still layed up in the wheelchair. They gave me a projected date to be able to walk again, and I set up a tour to start two weeks after that. I was hit on march 25th of 2003, and in the first week of May I played the show that everybody writes about at the Continental Club in Austin when I was in a wheelchair with the IV dangling out of my arm, but actually I played a show before that in the wheelchair, IV and all that with Daniel Johnston. Someone had seen him at a restaurant earlier in the day and said, ‘Hey we’re glad you’re playing with Scott Biram tonight Daniel’, and he’d said ‘Scott Biram?! I heard he was decapitated!’ I brought out a record right after my wreck that was mostly traditional songs called Lo-Fi Mojo, and two of the songs on it were called Truck Driver and Wreck My Car, which was a coincidence, hahaha. I have actually written a song about it called Hit The Road since, and I wrote a song
I don’t really think about my wreck so much as, well, the times when I write the best are when I end up on the road by myself, without a roadie or a driver, which happens occasionally. I get stuck in these hotel rooms on my days off with nothing to do and I try to write a song. What it is, is when I’m driving down that road and I see that highway in front of me all the time, the isolation of being in a vehicle and travelling round my country, you know, it’s pretty inspiring. I write simple songs because people understand that easier. I just try to tap into my emotions you know? I talk about loneliness, pain or struggles in life, I guess I try to base my writing on the human condition. Ha ha ha that’s too deep man, but whatever, it’s probably the hash I’ve been smoking... ha ha ha.”
Photography Maciej Dakowicz - www. maciejdakowicz.com
called 18 wheeler, but that wasn’t about my wreck. I was on tour and driving down the road between Springfield Illinois to Oklahoma City, and there’s really nothing to see on the road there so I was making up a song and recording it on this little recorder thing I’d bought. I wrote that song that day just driving down the highway by myself. I was on a road trip, 6 weeks by myself.
It’s Monday. 29th January 1979. 16-year-old San Diegan Brenda Ann Spencer used this as an excuse for pulling out her .22 caliber rifle and going on a schoolyard killing spree. She doesn’t like Mondays. If only she’d known her actions would be responsible for keeping Geldof in clean pants until he came up with the idea to save the world, things could have been a lot worse. It’s Monday. 1st October 2007. And I’m about to use it as an excuse for kicking the faces of six Icelandic teenagers in if they don’t cheer the fuck up. I’m sat with Jakobinarina in the room of a budget hotel in Cardiff Bay. It seems smiling is beyond them. But I’ll forgive them. I understand. We all hate Mondays. Monday I’m in Vain is the name of the first song on Jakobinarina’s debut album The First Crusade, a juiced up joyride of an LP, full of agit-teen-dreams and small-town-leaving schemes. On the set opener frontman Gunnar opines “It’s Monday, it’s Monday, and I’m in pain, stuck in the mundane”, while the rest of the band belt through the perfect pop punk accompaniment. “I was still in
school when I wrote that song” Gunnar breaks his frown to tell me, “I think I wrote the lyrics in some class when I was 16 in January when it’s really dark most
We just started a band because we were bored. In Iceland, it’s a common thing to start a band. We have many big name bands but only 300,000 people
your pissed up party running smackbang into the brick wall of your sorry little existence. Mondays bring oppression and subservience. Mondays cause little girls to shoot little holes in other little girls. “Some people are destined for desk jobs and desk jobs only” Gunnar sneers on Jesus, one of the highlights of the album. Drummer Sigurour fills me in on how his lot avoided the white collar, “We just started a band because we were bored. In Iceland, it’s a common thing to start a band. We have many big name bands but only 300,000 people.” Fast forward a few months and with just two songs up their skinny sleeves (I’ve Got a Date with my Television and I’m a Villain), the boys entered a Battle of the Bands. Ready to pack it all in and go back to watching Premiership football and American movies after the competition, the little scamps went and won it, Jakobinarina was born and the photocopier and water cooler sidestepped with one swift sweep of a Cuban heel.
of the time. I was really down because everything sucked and the only thing I could look forward to was partying the next weekend. It’s quite a simple idea.”
Gunnar et al took the winning songs, and used them as the foundations of their debut set. The album started to come together before British kids would have done their GCSEs:
You know what Gunnar, you’re right; it is a simple idea. Mondays are the dull thud of
“It’s quite special because you don’t really hear albums written by 15 and 16 year
olds often. It’s quite interesting when I look back when I’m a little bit older. We weren’t really conscious about what we were writing or why we were writing it. Some of the lyrics on the album are a bit naïve but you just want to do something else than being at home on your computer.” While the tales of sexual frustration, shoplifting and getting the heck out of Dodge that make up The First Crusade might be about as original subject matter for young rock ‘n’ rollers as upper middle class murder was for Agatha Christie, Jakobinarina present it with such a fucking punch and a dollop of dry wit, that you can’t help hoping they never have to work a shit job in their lives. Roll on the weekend… Words by Dan Tyte Photography by Lee Goldup - www.leegoldup.com
The Mules present Pick Your Own Kartel
The album opens with The Mules. Well, of course it does. It was their night. This Is Your Life is as straightforward an indie-pop tune as they’ve yet written. It’s a good ‘un as it goes, though not representative of the rambunctious electrobilly that had, up until now, characterised their sound. Unexpected perhaps, but a good tune and a fine start. Eugene McGuinness’ whoops and yelps are as mesmerising as they are unmistakable. Is there another singer about at the moment with a voice as distinctive? Rolling toms, shuffling percussion grooves, and an array of synths back the striking, layered pop of A Child Lost In Tesco. It’s over all too soon. The low key Hello Hello by Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit sounds like (lazy journalism alert) The Beta Band singing Sufjan Stevens and is as ‘folk’ as the compilation gets. The Baroque’n’Roll of Left With Pictures is new to me, although on the evidence of this effort I can’t see how they’re going to stay much of a secret for long. Say is in turns, enchanting, bittersweet, and sinister. It’s fantastic. It’s faultless. Son Of Dave’s excellent and smile-raising cover of the War classic Low Rider is next. With a falsetto vocal so high, so taut, and yet somehow so soulful, it’s a wonder his throat didn’t rupture from the sheer cheek of it. And, hark, is that a bit of muted triangle in the background?! Yes! And a sung version of that classic, much sampled bass-line?! Beating by Noah And The Whale follows, and, much like a radiator or an old telly, takes a while to warm up. For a minute you’re wondering if the boiler’s packed in or if you’ll ever see that new Neighbours opening title sequence, but then suddenly it’s trumpets and violins and double-time and you bask in that wonderfully reassuring glow.
This Is My Call To Arms by Napoleon IIIrd impresses with its Motown stomp and fuzzy DIY wall of sound. Lightspeed Champion’s chamber orchestra accompaniment on Devil Tricks For A Bitch is so full of character and playful detail that it’s almost a shame when the backing band turns up, and Tom Mansi & The Icebreakers dispatch a molasses-thick porchblues number (When You’re Dead You’re Done) with ease. It takes three or four listens before the initially rough-sounding melody of The Catch takes hold, but soon enough you find yourself casually singing along with the sublime Emmy The Great, and lastly, Fireworks Night close with the slow-burning and suitably epic Echo’s Swing (appreciate please the effort taken to avoid fireworks related puns, or the words bang/whimper).
The story thus far: Not so long ago (this summer just gone), in a place not so far away (London), The Mules had a residency at the Big Chill House in King’s Cross. Every Monday for ten weeks, with the help of their many melodically-gifted friends, there would be an evening of free entertainment for the masses. Much merriment ensued. Together they would banish - or ignore - the evil force that blighted the country and sabotaged ice scream sales (the rain). It was truly a Golden Age. And so, as a testament to this glorious, albeit short-lived, musical utopia, this compilation has been produced. An aural rendering of the good times and beautiful memories that came from those nights.
In conclusion? Yes. It’s very good. It’s a compilation that more than lives up to any hype you could attach to it. It’s full of great songs. Really great songs. Go get it. Words by Ioan Morris
Sing The Greys
15th Anniversary Box Set
Tape That Vol.1
3rd Side Records
I was sat in the car the other day listening to the pitifully average Myths Of The Near Future by those Day Glo Posh Fuckers when the question pops into my head: “what actually is new rave?”. This was closely followed by “What was wrong with “old” rave?” OK, so there were many things wrong with rave, but you get the point. Yeah the records were shit at times, some were bandwagonesque, some just ripped off cartoon theme tunes, but all – and I mean ALL – were designed to get you stomping your new Troop Trainers off. and get a bit sweaty while off it in some dingy leisure centre until the early hours, grinning moronically until you got lock jaw chewing through your sixteenth stick of Wrigleys, or that you decided that the safest place for you was in the dark under the stairs hoping that that guy on steroids – bare-chested and gurning – wasn’t staring at you with that look that says “I fucking hate you and I will crush you, but, after this tune, and another gram, so get out of my space NOW! skinny boy”.
I wonder whether Frightened Rabbit had intended to write the perfect autumn album when they exuded Sing The Greys. Their dirty yet delicate sound – the Bonnie Prince and Arab Strap playing laser quest – is folk-flavoured pop in a smoking rollies, thermal-undies, ‘wrap up against the cold’ way, that reminds me of one afternoon a few years back when I was living in South London. Me and some friends went to the Tyssen Street Studios the night before, came home late, smoked bongs until we passed out in a heap on someone’s floor until the autumn day disappeared and it was dark again, when we dragged our sorry bones to the Hobgoblin pub. Scarfed, hoodied and hatted against the chill we sat on benches in the beer garden drinking ale and smoking, hot eyes and dull headaches crawling round the table, the gentle lash of London in the background while bearded art students retched puke down their chins over by the wall. Whether razed social commentary or waxing lyrical about relationships, Frightened Rabbit make a lot of noise for a band with no bass (something I would never have noticed without the press release). Having recorded the majority of the tracks with producer Marcus Mackay, Scott, Billy and Grant have created a simple, lo-fi delight, a treat: kicking up mountains of red leaves on the pavement. Exquisite. TD
In 1992, fifteen long years ago, when I had just become a teen myself, American Indie –Thrill Jockey Records – the label behind David Byrne, The Fiery Furnaces, The Zincs and Tunng, was launched into the world from the Lower East Side of New York City. Now based in Chicago, Thrill Jockey will be celebrating their 15th birthday with cake. The Sea and Cake to be precise (ha), and a host of the label’s other acts covering their favourite Thrill Jockey bands on nine 7” vinyl singles (count them: that’s 18 whole tracks!). Highlights include the chilled, lamenting Americana sounds of Arbortoreum covering Bus Stop by Boston’s Thalia Zedek. Warbling, bluesy male vocals groan over gentle brush-drumming, with special guest harmonies from Victoria from Beach House who’ll be joining them on their European tour this autumn. The Sea and Cake offer us a charmingly hushed and dreamy rendition of Spider’s House by Califone while Directions in Music (Chicago Underground Quartet) play out a modernist, experimental instrumental of Jeff Parker’s Toy Boat. Others lighting up the candles of the collection include David Byrne, Archer Prewitt, Bobby Conn, Califone, Thalia Zedek, Freakwater, The Zincs, Howe Gelb, John Parish, Sue Garner & Rick Brown, Adult, Angela Desveaux and Eleventh Dream Day. Mmmm. Go on, have a slice. SW
Starting with the sublimely dreamy Belaire’s loved up pop song You Really Got Me Going, Tape That uncovers 16 ace tracks from shiny new acts. Rob da Bank’s teenage rock and roll Sunday Best mascots Kitty, Daisy & Lewis offer their excellent number – Mean Son of a Gun, and Kruger Singles Club stars Holy Hail feature with electro ditty Born of a Star. The gorgeous stateside female folkster The Rodeo also checks in with her beautiful track Your Love Is Huge and the now defunct Hackney group Bridge Gang’s grunge-pop single Blue Sky Grey features; it may be cold outside, but if anything this compilation will turn those grey skies blue. Believe. SW
This brings me round to Bogdan Raczinski’s new album Alright, which is what you always hoped rave would be. It’s the naughty child of 1991, who was locked in a cupboard with a shit load of cool toys by his parents, and then forgotten about until he was found and released in 1999 and sent to Japan to live off the streets and play the trumpet. Following hot on the heels of Renegade Platinum Mega Dance Attack Party: Don the Plate, this album has been four years in the making, and at eight tracks and an ADHD friendly 46 minutes it has everything that we have come to expect from Bogdan and the Rephlex imprint: skittering beats, burbling synths, insane voices coming at you from every angle. It is utterly relentless, and comprehensive in its madness: there’s even a synthetic love song. If there is one thing that Bogdan does, it’s make you dance, and surely that’s the purest essence of rave culture. MB
Call To Mind
The Dirty Canon
With Call To Mind Cambridge duo Commix have taken the fragments that make up the modern drum ‘n’ bass sound and glued them together with some Techno-Soul (tm) superglue to create one of the most accomplished and complete D&B albums of recent times. Credit is due the duo for successfully avoiding clichÈs to give the Metalheadz sound a much-needed new direction and for making an album that will please rude boy ravers and laid back listeners alike. And to top it off there’s an Underground Resistance remix of Satellite Song hidden at the end of the CD. Believe! FC
To describe the first album by the Marseille Figs as idiosyncratic is something of an understatement. Completely fucking demented might be a better way of putting it. But that is no bad thing, for The Dirty Canon’s joyous collage of ukulele swing, free jazz sax, folk-punk and thumping double bass is an iron-rich antidote to much of the anaemic indie around right now. And while most of the songs are proper bouncy shindig-soundtrackers there are some surprisingly delicate moments, most notably the lovely, accordion swept Good Year. A must for anyone who isn’t scared of rambunctious attitudes and a healthy disregard for musical boundaries. EH
Various Artists Music From The Motion Picture “I’m Not There” Wichita Essentially the greatest Bob Dylan tribute album ever assembled, Music From The Motion Picture ‘I’m Not There’ packs a drool-inducing cast of alt. rock notables - Cat Power, Karen O, Yo La Tengo, Jeff Tweedy, Mark Lanegan, Sufjan Stevens and many more, backed by the mighty tex-mex tones of Calexico and specially assembled “supergroup” Million Dollar Bashers - offering their takes on 30odd Dylan tracks. The invariably impressive results are musical manna for anyone who figures Dylan’s songs are best served by more conventionally palatable singers, whilst offering plentiful treats for those of use who consider the Big D’s gravely croak to be among the finest vocal styles ever captured on tape. Occasionally the proceedings veer on the overly respectful (Stephen Malkmus’s replica reconstruction of Ballad Of A Thin Man), but the highlights – an achingly beautiful Goin’ To Acapulco from My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, a stirring soulgospel sermon Pressing On from X chief John Doe, Sonic Youth’s eerie, restless rendition of I’m Not There, Iron & Wine’s tropical dub reading of Dark Eyes – offer generous compensation of the odd misstep. JO
We Brave Bee Stings And All
Good Bad Not Evil
Kill Rock Stars
It’s been a while since I heard an album that could be described as an absolute delight. Too fucking long, actually, which makes this one doubly joyful. This is Thao Nguyen’s second album, recorded with her band The Get Down Stay Down (named in honour of Nguyen’s bossiness). It is eleven tracks of alternative-folky stuff that evokes the same warm fuzzy feeling I last got from Blitzen Trapper’s Field Rexx (highly recommended): both play on that lazy, late summer style of bluesy acoustic that is so listenable and delicious. As a rule, I stay away from female folk singers. All that ethereal breathiness generally makes me want to puke. Nguyen is comparable to Cat Power, but while her vocals might err on frailty in places, there’s never the feeling that she’s supernatural. Instead you have a grounded, earthy sound, cushioned by a backing band who know when to give her some space. Best of all are Nguyen’s sweet lyrics observing dynamics in relationships. Opening track Beat (Health, Life and Fire) has “I’m never gonna leave / and you’re never gonna leave / but you’re never gonna love me like I need”. Bag of Hammers is a paen to the difficulty of trying to reconcile a fiery relationship, and contains the self-knowing “as sharp as I sting / it still soothes you doesn’t it / like a lick of ice-cream”. In Geography she laments “are you unhappy for me? I am unhappy for you”. In Yes, So On And So On there is a revelation for her: “I am going away but not away from you, I have found the difference between the two”. The album’s glorious high point is the up-tempo Swimming Pools, which has the fantastic refrain “we brave bee stings and all, we don’t dive we cannonball, and we splash our eyes full of chemicals, just so there’s none left for little girls”. Also worthy of note is Feet Asleep, which alternates between kicked back ditty to bar-room singalong and ends with Nguyen singing over hand claps. (Note to self, not enough hand claps in music today). Thao and The Get Down Stay Down would be the perfect band to while away a sunny Sunday at the Bestival at the bandstand on the hill while the rest of the festival hurries around below like tiny multicoloured beatles. Buy the album now and get in training for festival season. HP
Occasionally someone will make an album that possesses such vision you can almost feel genres unfurling as it plays. Ames Room, the debut album from Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Silje Nes, is one such record. Over the course of 14 exquisitely crafted tracks Silje entirely deconstructs the singer-songwriter rulebook and rearranges it into something utterly beguiling and innovative. Entirely home-recorded, this is a testament to what one person with an enormous talent and a plethora of instruments can achieve. Leila’s Like Weather is brought to mind in the clever and unusual recording techniques, especially the looping and layering of found sounds and tinkling electronics to create odd syncopations. Silje’s sugar-sweet voice is scattered unobtrusively over the songs, often functioning like an instrument itself, while cellos, thumb pianos and vintage synths build into delicate washes of electric guitar. While echoing the powerful singularity of PJ Harvey’s 4 Track Demos and the immense atmospheric soundscapes of Mum or Sigur Ros, this record’s greatest achievement is that it actually sounds like nothing other than Silje Nes herself. Something this arrestingly lovely begs you to enter her magical musicbox world. Once captivated, you won’t want to leave. EH
Do you remember huddling around the radio on a Sunday night for the latest instalment of your favourite radio show, marvelling at the technology that they talked about, gasping as alien encounters took place before your very ears, and trembling at the stories of “Grave Robbers From Outer Space”? Me neither. Chris Corsano (Drummer for Bjork), Massimo Pupillo (Terror bassist extraordinaire) and David Chalmin, set out to take us back to the heady days of Radio plays and family togetherness……. if your family happens to be a group of cannibals and mass murderers! This is Radio Terror, droning guitars, evil jazz drums and a healthy dose of sampling. I thought it would be piss. I turns out to be a really engaging avant-garde album, but play it on the ipod as anyone who hears this coming out of your stereo will think you’re weird. Mrs B hates it so it must be good. MB
Black Lips are living a dodgy kind of American dream. Unknowingly hypnotising the musical underground into falling in love with their sound at hedonistic live shows, and coining their own phrase to pigeonhole their music (Flower Punk), Cole and the gang arrive on our shores armed with an album infected with sixties garage- but wait, this record sure is accessible. It pays homage to an era harking back to The Stones, The Sonics and even the darker moments of The Beatles. Thank goodness the Atlanta quartet keep these genre indulgences light and approachable; the unhinged shrieks on I Saw A Ghost (Lean) could have seen this UK debut get slung in the ‘leftfield’ section of many a record store- not to mention the heavy-lidded blues of Lock and Key with the throaty chants of: “mud in my boots, blood in my hand…” Unlike their whingeing peers, Black Lips have earned the right to pen songs of loss, depression and alcoholism- their drummer from the original line up died in a car accident and the band were compelled the band to write the How Do You Tell A Child That Someone Has Died. In the same vein as White Stripes’ Elephant album, this song is a bittersweet, down-home melody that welcomes a folk element to the mix. But don’t worry: before they appear too downbeat, these jagged-edged punks make the switch away from tragic storytelling with brazen abandon; the springy Navajo, even with its utterly silly squaw yelping, begs a toe-tap or two and Cold Hands sparkles with the kind of bright shotgunwielding rockabilly that makes one yearn for a spin in a beat-up corvette. The aptly titled Slime and Oxygen presents their dirtiest bit of garage punk yet, dragging us into a frantic party as they murmur psychedelic references to ‘black lights’ and ‘girls’ in their thick American drawl. Yes, Black Lips are just licking the surface of rock history, (Transcendental Light unfolds into a Doors-esque organ solo, minus the selfindulgence) but it’s down to their love of genre toedipping which makes this one for the masses. The current underground music scene is overcrowded with one garage/ goth-punk act after another, but these guys clad in the most unlikely fashions, look set to outlast them all. TL
Various Now That’s What We Call Music Volume 1 Fantastic Plastic I’ve a love hate relationship with compilations. On one hand, what’s the point? On the other, they throw up surprises. I didn’t know I liked The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, for example. Or that Bearsuit’s Foxy Boxer cooed such silly perfection: “Don’t underestimate the power of a punch from a foxy boxer.” No such illusions with The Futureheads, the biggest success story here and proof, if needed, that Fantastic Plastic are adept talent spotters. The point, however, is this: indie label, 16 tracks, only a fiver. Go buy it. TH
Grizzly Bear Friend EP Warp Records A collection of re-workings, alternate versions, and covers. Mmm, sounds tasty, right? But to describe this, Grizzly Bear’s follow-up of sorts to 2006’s Yellow House, as an odds and ends compilation wouldn’t be right, it’s a lot more coherent than that. Not thrown together, but not fully-formed, it’s an in-between; both here and there, but not quite at either. It drifts, often too far, and yet somehow it feels like the band have got you on a leash and just when your mind wanders a step too far they yank you back to raptness. It’s bordering on an annoyance when music has that kind of control over you. I’ve yet to decide whether I liked it or not. I was all ready to dismiss it as being an ‘alright, 3/5, shrugof-the-shoulders’ job, but at the end of track 10, feeling perturbed, disbelieving that this so-called EP had the affront to not just fade away quietly from my brain and leave me be, I went straight back to the beginning and started listening again. Now obviously if I’m reviewing something I’m meant to do that, but this was different. Not a starting point for those unfamiliar with Grizzly Bear, though not entirely a scrapbook for fans only; this curio has significant value of its own. IM
Fabric 8th Birthday
Iron and Wine
Club Academy, Manchester
The Point, Cardiff
Thank fuck for Tim Harrington. I arrived at Club Academy low on funds and drained of energy; I left lower on funds, more drained of energy, yet happier than a dog trying to climb up a curtain. LCD Soundsystem are playing tonight just up the road. I had two tickets, and sold them for a fiver the pair. Shit business? Too right. But later, when I meet my mates after our respective gigs, I’ll nod along to their awestruck accounts painlessly, because Dr Harrington has cured me of my gloom.
Some of the heaviest tunes in 2007 can be found in the “cosmic disco” category - trust me! - and Maurice Fulton is among the scene’s boldest. Along with remix and general knob twiddling credits for Hot Chip, !!! and The Rapture on his CV, check his own work as Syclops and the breakthrough track Paris Hilton by Mu for proof. Except tonight he’s opted to polish off non-stop party anthems from the roots of classic 70s disco, airing Candido, Dan Hartman, even The Clash, and various hands-aloft Philly soul numbers along the way (that’s Philadelphia not Caerphilly, emo boy). If you weren’t there, you missed it. Obviously. CM
I don’t really remember what I did for my eighth birthday. Some kind of highly-strung, additive fuelled romp around in a ball-pit with my wired looking friends I’d imagine. Now, exchange ‘ball-pit’ for ‘dance floor’ and you have a pretty accurate description of the hallowed nightclub’s Saturday night birthday bash. And, funnily enough, I’ve got similar memory issues with Fabric’s 8th birthday too. So 8th birthdays may always be a blur in retrospect, but its heartening to know that Fabric have been doing what they do for eight years now, and Jesus H Christ they’ve been doing it well. Established by the unstoppable bleep machine Craig Richards, the London club is still as relevant today as it was when it first emerged, a shrine to left-field dance music that never, ever, puts a foot wrong. The line-up for the birthday all-nighter speaks for itself. Relentlessly firing out brain mangling minimal techno of the highest calibre in Room 1 were the unholy alliance of Ellen Allien, Ivan Smagghe, and Richards himself, all vying to outdo each other with ever increasing amounts of aural filth. We even got a rare appearance from Cobblestone Jazz – perhaps the world’s first minimal techno jazz hybrid. Upstairs in Room 3, Rub & Tug served up disco New York style, playing for three solid hours as people melted into the industrial architecture that gives the club its unique ‘Oh, I’m in off my face in a fucking massive factory and my spine’s vibrating to the bass line’ vibe. The unfathomably enjoyable music of Room 2, however, was where the party was most definitely at. Black Devil Disco Club played live versions of their incredible 28 After (a solid gold italo masterpiece), looking for all the world like gay, middle-aged, German caricatures of Ant & Dec, and all the better for it. They were probably the highlight of the night, seemingly unconcerned that they looked like something out of Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place. Optimo, on straight after the dark ones, was a one man wrecking-machine, shifting gear from unhinged spaced-out prancing to teeth-rattling, bowel-bothering electro whomping. Yes, that’s right, whomping. The Fabric machine clocks up eight years in style. Here’s to the same again, eh? KP
Margaret Thatcher suffered from pogonophobia, the irrational fear or distrust of bearded men. She would not allow men with beards to be part of the cabinet. Needless to say I am not Margaret Thatcher; political differences aside, as a fan of altfolk music I am quick to blindly put my trust in a man with a big, bushy beard. Tonight that man is Sam Beam, songwriter and focal point of countryfolk outfit Iron and Wine and owner of some of the most expansive and inviting facial hair outside of Santa’s grotto. Despite looking like the kind of man who should live in a secluded log cabin, Beam has a deceptively gentle, melodic voice and this deception of appearance is one that applies to his band as a whole. To look at the eight strong group of musicians you would expect them to make the kind of gigantic, anthemic noise that Arcade Fire are known for, yet from the collection of instruments that span the stage comes music that is often subdued, delicate and restrained.Tonight does nothing to make me feel that my trust in Beam’s folk prowess is misplaced and while a great beard my not necessarily equate to a great folk band, the two are rarely mutually exclusive. ST
There’s no doubting Les Savy Fav’s immaculate pedigree – their fearsome independence is an influence to many and a guiding light to all. Musically, new album Let’s Stay Friends could be their best yet. Live, though, it’s Harrington who makes it all matter. It’s Harrington who enters the stage to The Equestrian hidden by cloak, top hat and mask; it’s Harrington who throws himself half-naked into the crowd, stealing t-shirts and drinks as he goes. It’s Father Harrington who marries two fans on stage between songs. It’s even him who kisses the bride.
Les Savy Fav
Yeah, apparently LCD are good tonight. But so are LSF. Their singers may both be fat; both have beards. They are both amazing, definitely. But tonight, I know I made the right choice. Again, thank fuck. NC
Dizzee Rascal Southampton Uni, SU 08/11/2007
Looking like he’d been styled by Flava Flav, Dizzie is more relaxed today than in his angry adolescence. New material leans towards hands-in-the-air feel good hip-hop, and driven on by bass that vibrates through their souls, the crowd are fixated. Maths + English tunes mesmerise, and the mantra-like recitation of lyrics show the album has been well received. Diverse and dynamic, the new material moves his sound forward, delving into areas previously untouched. At the end he waltzes off stage to rapturous applause only to return for a predictable encore of Fix Up, Look Sharp. And the crowd, buoyant and ecstatic, are with him to the not so bitter end. LS
Cold War Kids and Patrick Watson Sheffield Leadmill 27/10/07 Canadian Patrick Watson shuffles quietly onto the scene with a muffled mix of drowsy vocals and shimmering piano. The Great Escape‘s luscious piano circles slowly over the audience until Matt from Cold War Kids joins in on drums and things quickly become a gabbling tangled mess. Awesome. Selfstyled musical outlaws Cold War Kids’ tales of the down-and-outs, thieves and plain old evil have drawn quite a crowd. So much so in fact that I spent the first half crushed against the soundstage barrier at the back of the room. After regaining the ability to breathe, Saint Johns off-beat-squawl sounds all the sweeter. The unmistakeable piano breakdown of We Used To Vacation snaps at its heels, singer Nathan Willett stalks the stage, painting pictures of a dysfunctional alcoholic father. Passing The Hat is like Tarantino meets Fagan with a Robin Hood twist (are you following?), but its Hospital that whips the crowd up and gets them bellowing merrily along. Nathan takes to the keyboard, lingering over every note, as bass player Matt Maust restlessly stomps around the stage. Ending on the slow country twang of Tell Me In The Morning they hawk out the vocals, rushing in a mass of stomping feet and clapping hands to the chorus. They leave the crowd battered and bruised but ecstatic. We’ve definitely not seen the best of them yet. TC
Project Jenny, Project Jan Hiro Ballroom, NYC 18/10/07 Brooklyn laptop rock duo Project Jenny Project Jan brayed in their cadenced ki-ki-i accent on their standout single Chinatown Bus at the 27th CMJ Music Marathon at New York’s Hiro Ballroom. Jeremy Haines and Sammy Rubin are mockumentary performance artists with fake stage names and interspersed clips of random B-reel cable access footage splayed upon an overhanging backdrop. Think of them as disciples of Gregg Gillis, but with electronoded Tsang Wing Han as cultural referencing point. With Hiro Ballroom’s stony dragon ledged overhead, which spat thick plumes of smoke to Rubin’s choppy beat, Project Jenny Project Jan’s sweat-funk karaoke session was definitely a sight for sore eyes. And in a bloated festival - boasting 1000 bands in five days - that’s saying a lot. JH
Super Furry Animals Warehouse Party
David shrigley’s worried noodles
03/11/07 A colourful crowd of techno-heads and Super Furries gig-goers was always going to make for a great party. Gruff Rhys’ collage of nu-disco and kitch rarities is an event in itself, and Cian Ciaran’s dark purist bleeps lead the way for Andy Weatherall, who is a revelation. Tearing down the boundaries of house and techno with two hours rib-shaking bass and alien sounds, it’s great to see him back to his roots. Even an overly minimal Evil Eddie Richards set and a second stage watched by three people can’t stop us drooling for the next Super Furries afterparty, or the next Weatherall show. Barney Sprague. BS
Voice Of The Seven Woods, Cate Le Bon, Ghandi Votel Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 18/10/2007 You may have spotted one Ghandi Votel, as posted on tonight’s bill, as the eastern influenced, nom de plume of one nomadic, vinyl stalking Andy Votel; purveyor of all things B-music and wonderful. For an alter ego it’s inspired, and does exactly what it says on the tin: there’s a definite bhangra lilt kicking off tonight’s proceedings. It’s now time for the first lady of Welsh folk at the moment, Cate Le Bon and it’s getting to the point where I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen her this year. She’s put in a stunning run, and it’s good to see her with the full band this time, including Richard James on bass. Her lilting tones in both Welsh and English feel more in tune with tonight’s eastern mysticism than expected. That Votel man’s cast some crazy juju, but Cate’s working it well and roars through her now familiar set with pace. A short interlude and some more aural indoctrination later it’s time for Rick Tomlinson, Voice of the Seven Woods. A mind-bending trip through space and time ensues, as everything goes a bit wonky, feedback-heavy and experimental with an unrelenting jam session that’s utterly fantastic, tripped out and the perfect round off to one juju-heavy evening. BL
14/10/2007 This worthy shindig began at 1500hrs, but I was busy playing Devil My Cry 3 on the PlayStation. Massacring demons with a gigantic sword and a sawnoff shotgun won out over “an astonishingly accomplished singer-sonwriter who lists his influences as Steve Knightley and Robert Johnson”. I arrived in time to catch Hot Chip, who Shrigley announced Hot Chip, after thanking a litany of anonymous folk for various things. He made a joke about not enough people buying the album, which was met with nervous giggles. Yes, we know it’s for charity. But a dozen hipsters buying a CD and wearing colourful stickers on their expensive V-necks won’t stop humanity going to Hell in a handbasket. In fact, it may well contribute to it. Joe Goddard was very sweet, wearing the diminutive Alexis Taylor’s guitar without adjusting its strap. He looked like a cat stuck halfway through a catflap. Alexis pointed out his obvious discomfort, to which he replied, “I don’t want to mess things up for you later!” Bless. Perhaps it was a clever joke I missed, or intended to highlight human rights. Either way, Goddard put it best at the end of the set: “We’ve been Hot Chip with two members missing and none of your favourite songs.” JA
Spencer McGarry Season Clwb Ifor Bach , Cardiff 18/10/2007 Since the mainstream claimed indie music for its own it’s embarrassing for some to step outside the house. For the brave though things never change, and tonight Spencer McGarry Season are a timeless delectation. It’s all songs and sparks, Stephen Black lost in his onstage world etching wondrous guitar flavours that spin hypnotic shapes, singing over them with a voice of impassioned punk velvet. The songs have a rare indie wonder to sink the whole commercial fleet, all slinky, sparkling, coiling, soaring and melodic, living and dying the noble dream with romance and rhythm. Tonight it’s like assimilation never happened. NJ
The Point, Cardiff
Two things strike you about Gravenhurst live. Firstly, they are a big loud rock band. On record there’s the lingering suspicion that you’re listening to an addled form of folk, competing electric guitars and thundering drums kick this notion into touch. Secondly, lead singer Nick Talbot is a miserable bastard. The disdain with which Talbot brusquely dismisses the first five songs as being ‘radio friendly’ is slightly off putting for a crowd who are otherwise enjoying said songs, all taken from The Western Lands, and all of which are beautiful, baroque, sombre little pieces of fuzzy melancholy. Some of the older material is incredible too –Black Holes In The Sand – but Talbot’s indifference substantially limits enjoyment levels. Gravenhurst on record are a wonderful thing. But I could have done without witnessing their moody rehearsal. AC
Mark E Smith does what he wants. “No drinking on stage,” he mumbles from the wings, mid-song, mid-set, presumably with booze in hand. But it’s not a huge problem. He’s a focal point for Von Sudenfed, for sure, but they’re a dance act. I think. Aut Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner (Mouse On Mars) keep the party going when Smith is off doing whatever he’s doing. They don’t care, we don’t care. They’re an energetic pair. Both look like Seth from the OC from where I’m stood. And they like to dance. A difference between them and Smith, I would hazard. The music is heavy, dense, dirty bassy. Heaven is full and hot. The cans of Red Stripe are warm and expensive. This is London. But Smith could be anywhere. The first time he ambles on, he has lyric sheets in his hands. He’s in a black suit. He just stands, and stares, and listens. The best thing about Mark E Smith is that he looks like he hates the music he sings too - whether for The Fall, or Von Sudenfed. He appears to yawn, though I might have imagined that. For the next hour (ish), they demolish Tromatic Reflexxions, this year’s best album. Melodies altered, lyrics undecipherable, it sound fresh. Smith is incomprehensible. “I’m the DJ tonight,” he insists. And again, and again, and again. This collaboration is oft described as ‘unlikely’, or ‘surprising’, but that’s bullshit. Smith is an old, grumpy, Mancunian. But he knows a tune when he hears one, and he has always pushed boundaries. The Fall are perhaps, in terms of quality, the most consistent British band of all time. “Always the same, always different,” John Peel once said about them. Smith is used to ‘unlikely’ collaborations. Members of The Fall come and go like students. There’s no permanence, and it keeps him on his toes.
Los Campesinos! Thekla Bristol 23/10 Striding onto stage, indie-pop guns blazing, Los Campesinos! are immediately front and centre, more effectively than ever before. All buffed up from snare to vocals and beyond…oh with the exception of the B key on Gareth’s wonky glockenspiel. LC! are the well documented vehicle of glock’n’roll and it’s very much still alive and well. We Thrown Parties, You Throw Knives lights the touch paper under an audience already bubbling at the seams – igniting spirits and setting free a gaggle of amateur vocalists. The hues of rainbow colour the aura of this septet bring to the room are incredible. Lead vocals are peppered over the rolling post-rock tinged backdrop as saccharine sweet, tantalisingly dark and addictive as ever. Taking the piss out of yourself isn’t always easy to convey on stage, but LC! do it effectively with hilarious effect in current single International Tweexcore Underground – as sparkling wit transcend the usual boundaries between fan and band. An evanescent crowd full of familiar faces turn a great gig on a boat into an incredible one. With dance moves down pat for final song Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks everyone goes home thrilled to have been on board. SJ
The only surprising thing about Von Sudenfed is that it didn’t happen sooner. The Fall invented Mouse On Mars. Sort of. I bet they contributed anyway. But Toma and Werner seem to have given Smith a solid base to work from. They carry him. They’re a constant. Without them, he’d be a miserable old drunk tonight. Without him, they’d just be another dance act tonight. Who knows how long it’ll last. But arm in arm, they are a force.TH
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Hey kids! To celebrate our 4th birthday, we’ve decided that this issue’s competition should not be tickets to an amazing festival or limited edition merchandise from one of your all time favourite bands, but an exclusive Kruger goodie bag containing a Kruger T-shirt! Woo hoo! We’ve got five of these sexy little numbers to give away, and all you have to do be able to slip your lithe torso inside one is answer this simple question:
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