The Music Of Joanna
OMER is from Stevenage but his inspirations lie on both sides of the Atlantic. His debut album finds him hitting the ground running, drawing mostly on folk music but with hints of country. Priests & Professors has an early Leonard Cohen vibe while the rousing title track is complete with Hammond organ and gospel chorus. You can also judge him by the company he keeps. Producer Neill MacColl (Kirsty’s half-brother) provides wonderful flourishes – including lead guitar recalling the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia at his fluent best – and ravishing harmonica. SC
THE Fiery Furnaces’ distinctive vocalist returns with her second solo album. Its sound is less experimental than the stuff we’ve come to expect from the band she shares with brother Matthew. But Friedberger’s angular style is handsomely showcased by these 12 songs written with musician/novelist Wesley Stace. She delves deep into the human condition, exploring the highs and lows of relationships with the edgy, awkward When I Knew and rocking, brilliantly observed Stare At The Sun hitting the mark. This Personal Record needs your personal attention. SC
CSS SHEFFIELD’s five-piece metal outfit BRING ME THE HORIZON emerged on to the metalcore scene in 2004, with scream-in-yourface frontman Oli Sykes.
The 26-year-old considers himself a “regular kid”. But how many kids front a much-lauded rock band and own a multi-million-pound fashion line — Drop Dead Clothing? The band — Oli, lead guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt Kean, drummer Matt Nicholls and keyboardist Jordan Fish — have put out four albums since forming in 2004 and naming themselves after the final line in the film Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl where Captain Jack Sparrow says: “Now, bring me that horizon.” But it’s fourth album Sempiternal, a No3 hit in April, which saw them explode into the mainstream. Oli Sykes spoke to SFTW about metal’s popularity, past doubts over his band’s future and screaming as therapy. You just played Radio 1’s Big Weekend. How are you finding playing to a mainstream audience? It’s a different world. People started moshing and about 20 security guards intervened because they thought a fight was going on. But it’s cool, we need to start winning fans instead of just playing to existing ones. I think the mainstream is hungry for something more aggressive, more fun. We just gotta be that band. As a band, you have worked hard and have progressed. What do you think of other bands out there who
By ELIZABETH BAKER have achieved overnight recognition? Good on them. It took us years of learning and growing to become the band we are today. We have experienced every aspect of being in a band, from shitty vans to tour buses, pubs in Hartlepool to sold-out shows in Israel, and we still have more to experience. Sempiternal encompasses many different emotions. As a personal achievement, what have you gained from producing the record? As cheesy as it sounds, it’s been like therapy. In my music I can say all the things I won’t admit to anyone else. I can let it all out. I get to go on stage every night and scream it as loud as possible, with a thousand people then screaming it back at me. It’s an indescribable feeling. The album contains negativity but also expresses change. Has it helped you to gain perspective? Music is misery. Classic music — it’s all about being depressed. There’s nothing really to describe happiness because bliss is an empty mind. Misery is relatable. Everyone’s sad, deep down. But the album is all about overcoming that negativity and making a change for the better. Your clothing label made you a millionaire. How did it change you? I haven’t a clue how much it has made but money doesn’t solve anyone’s problems. It can’t buy you anything you want. It doesn’t make you happy. It actually makes people act like f****** miscreants. Tell us about your new single Go To Hell, For Heaven’s Sake.
It’s written to sound like it is about someone I don’t like and don’t want to have a connection with any more — but it’s a letter to myself, talking to the side of me that needed to be destroyed. Which song on the new album is most personal to you? And The Snakes Start To Sing. There are lyrics so personal that they will mean nothing to anyone but my parents and me. Your voice has so many different depths that are fresh to Sempiternal – for example, in the melodies. Did you intend to make a record for the mainstream? It was never our intention. We had done three albums of straight-up screaming and I just wanted to go harder. I wanted it to have more depth, to use my voice to display more emotion. I didn’t want clean choruses. I wanted to use melodies to make the listener feel exactly what I was saying. How do you think Sempiternal has influenced the metalcore scene? Its very hard to gauge, it’s only been a couple of months. Hopefully it’s the foundation of something bigger for the scene. Popular music is at an all-time low. I don’t know when it became acceptable for every song to have the same chords, melody and structure. It’s unbelievable what you can get away with. G e n u i n e , passionate, intelligently crafted
music is wanted and needed, now. Do you think the media coverage of you has become more accepting? Yes, rightfully so. The albums we put out before, as proud as we are of them, we can’t expect everyone to like them. But this one, all walks of life can get into it. The attention is deserved, but I don’t feel it was owed. How have you found the attention on you, personally, and is there ever jealousy from the rest of the band? It’s strange, because to me I’m just a regular kid doing something extraordinary. My band don’t envy me one bit. We are all quiet, personal people who don’t cope well with attention. You are the heaviest British band played in the mainstream. Is metal becoming more popular? This is an exciting time for metal bands. We need to take this chance and stop playing up to clichés that stop us being taken seriously. The public think bands like ours are Satan-worshipping, drugtaking, womanabusing maniacs. But the most rock ’n’ roll I get is not cleaning up my dog’s s*** in the park. Where do you see Bring Me The Horizon in five years? I can’t believe it’s come this far. But I think we can be one of the greatest bands of our time — and I hope I don’t sound like a knobhead saying that.
EXPLODING in the advent of nu rave, back when wearing neon spandex was considered acceptable – many dismissed this Brazilian indiepop band as a cheery soundtrack to a passing fad. Some six years and four albums later, CSS have proved the cynics wrong. Lead singer Lovefoxxx cutely drawls tongue-in-cheek lyrics over a tight synth-pop soundscape. While they still haven’t matched the star quality of Noughties anthem Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above, these 11 tracks prove this is a band with more to give. PC
MEGADEATH Super Collider
NEARLY three decades in, it appears Dave Mustaine just won’t quit. Recent Megadeth efforts have been hit-and-miss at best. Super Collider is no exception. On their most mainstream album yet, thrash metal has been all but ditched for hard rock. But fear not – at least Mustaine hasn’t killed off ’Deth’s hallmark guitar solos, yet. Aside from the fillers and regrettable Dance In The Rain, Kingmaker and the brilliant, banjoinfused The Blackest Crow make for some amends. RL
By SIMON COSYNS
IN 1980, the year he was shot dead, John Lennon embarked on a life-affirming adventure.
At 8pm on June 4, the former Beatle boarded a 43ft sloop called Megan Jaye at Newport, Rhode Island, and set sail for idyllic Bermuda. The voyage took a week and involved a raging three-day storm but it left Lennon invigorated by the power, fury and beauty of nature. He likened dealing with the towering waves to being lowered into New York’s Shea Stadium by helicopter with The Beatles in 1965 to be greeted by 55,000 screaming fans. Perhaps he also felt a strong connection with his merchant seaman father Alf, who had passed away four years earlier. In any event, the storm blew itself out and Lennon arrived safely in Bermuda on June 11. One crew member recalls a “beautiful, crisp afternoon”. The star’s message in the ship’s log was addressed to the Megan Jaye herself: “Dear Megan, there’s no place like nowhere, and thanks, Hank (a pseudonym).” Joined later by his “Beautiful Boy”
Sean, who arrived by plane, Lennon spent the best part of two months on the British colony 640 miles off the American coast. While there, his creative juices began flowing and he wrote songs that would appear on his final album, Double Fantasy, including Woman and Cleanup Time. He even named the album after the exquisite Double Fantasy freesia which he saw in the Bermuda Botanical Gardens because he felt it perfectly described his marriage to Yoko Ono. Another product of his creative burst was the poignant Grow Old With Me, which appeared on 1984’s posthumous release Milk And Honey. Of course, he never grew old with Yoko but this little-known episode in Lennon’s 40-year-old life is being commemorated by a book, Lennon Bermuda, filled with intriguing firsthand accounts. Journalist Scott Neil, who works on Bermuda’s daily paper, The Royal Gazette, expertly pieced together the story which is beautifully illustrated by
local painter and sculptor Graham Foster. The book tells of the stir Lennon caused as he strolled around the capital, Hamilton, and the old town of St George’s despite taking the name of John Greene, how he enjoyed clubbing at Disco 40, taking boat trips with Sean and discovering the precious flower that meant so much to him. It contains revealing photographs of the singer, quite a few with four-yearold Sean and one of him intently composing a song on the acoustic guitar he’d bought on the way to catching the boat in Newport. He looks happy, healthy (despite his fondness for French Gitanes cigarettes), relaxed and at home, thoroughly enjoying his time away from the bright glare of publicity afforded by cities such as New York and London. The book comes handsomely packaged with two CDs of John Lennon songs, Beatles and solo, reimagined by a host of artists including Bryan Ferry, Judie Tzuke, Paul Carrack and Maxi Priest. There’s a remix of Yoko’s hit song
dedicated to John, Walking On Thin Ice, as well as affectionate efforts by Bermudan recording artists. Last year, Foster’s stunning Double Fantasy sculpture, cast in a type of steel that weathers well, was unveiled at the gardens. In her foreword to Lennon Bermuda, Yoko, 80, says: “I am pleased that John is being honoured. “Know that he loved and was immensely inspired by Bermuda. His spirit is now a part of the beautiful botanical gardens, where I hope peace and love will grow.” Her words are set opposite John’s handwritten lyrics for Woman, which he wrote at his rented house in the Fairylands residential enclave. With Yoko in New York, his words serve as a touching letter to the love of his life, signing off with the lines: “So let me tell you again and again and again, I love you now and forever.” It seems strange to think that four months after returning to his New York home, and with the Double Fantasy album riding high in the charts, Lennon’s life less ordinary was snuffed out. Years later, it was reported that he made this telling comment as he prepared to board his flight from Bermuda: “I guess it’s time to say goodbye to paradise.”