LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 40 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
GRIZZLY BEAR KEEL HER YEASAYE R MARTIN CREED PURITY RING TOTALLY ENORMOU S EXTINCT DINOSAU RS DROP OUT VENUS
ARIEL PINKâ€™S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
HOW TO GROW OLD DISGRACEFULLY
CONTENTS AUG UST 2012
0 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I T R E A L LY I S A S I N DANNY CANTER BELIEVES IN GUILTY PLEASURES, DESPITE KNOWING BETTER
10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRACK / E PS / BOOKS THE MONTH’S SINGLES, EPS AND PAGE-TURNERS, FEATURING MAJOR LAZER, EAGULLS AND TASHAKI MIYAKI
12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY TIMOTHY COCHRANE
A LOOK AT NEW RODRIQUEZ DOCUMENTARY ‘SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN’, PLUS JOHN FORD ON HIS MURRAY SHAME CONTACT INFO@LOUDANDQUIET.COM
P U RITY RI NG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 GOOD WITCH/BAD WITCH
T O TA L LY E N O R M O U S E X T I N C T D I N O S A U R S . . . . . . 1 6 ARE YOU HAVING A LAUGH? ORLANDO HIGGINBOTTOM IS
DROP OUT V E N US . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 FED UP OF SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE?
KE E L H E R . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 EVEN WITH A FULL TIME JOB, ROSE KEELER-SCHÄFFELER MANAGES TO WRITE A NEW DIZZY TRACK EVERY DAY
Y E A S AY E R . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 IN A WORLD THAT STINKS OF PARANOIA AND GOVERNMENT FEAR-MONGERING WE NEED YEASAYER MORE THAN EVER
MARTI N CRE E D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 THE TURNER PRIZE WINNING CONTEMPORARY ARTIST ASKS ‘WHAT’S THE POINT OF IT?’
G R I Z Z LY B E A R . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 AFTER THREE YEARS IN THE WILD, BROOKLYN’S GRIZZLY BEAR REIN IN ALBUM NUMBER FOUR
ARI E L P I N K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 ARIEL PINK IS STILL HERE, HAPPILY REGRESSING IN MATURITY
LOUD AND QUIET PO BOX 67915 LONDON NW1W 8TH EDITOR - STUART STUBBS ART DIRECTOR - LEE BELCHER SUB EDITOR - ALEX WILSHIRE FILM EDITOR - IAN ROEBUCK ADVERTISING ADVERTISE@LOUDANDQUIET.COM CONTRIBUTORS BART PETTMAN, CARL PARTRIDGE, CHAL RAVENS, CHRIS WATKEYS, COCHI ESSE, DANIEL DYLAN WRAY, DANNY CANTER, DAVID SUTHERAN, DK GOLDSTIEN, ELINOR JONES, ELLIOT KENNEDY, EDGAR SMITH, FRANKIE NAZARDO, GARETH ARROWSMITH, JANINE BULLMAN, LEE BULLMAN, KATE PARKIN, KELDA HOLE, GABRIEL GREEN, GEMMA HARRIS, LEON DIAPER, LUKE WINKIE, MANDY DRAKE, MATTHIAS SCHERER, NATHAN WESTLEY, OWEN RICHARDS, OLLY PARKER, PAVLA KOPECNA, POLLY RAPPAPORT, PHIL DIXON, PHIL SHARP, REEF YOUNIS, SAMUEL BALLARD, SAM WALTON, SONIA MELOT, SONNY MCCARTNEY, TIM COCHRANE, TOM PINNOCK, TOM WARNER THIS MONTH L&Q LOVES ANNA MEARS, ANNETTE LEE, BETH BROOKFIELD, KEONG WOO, LACIE MOLOY AND EVERYONE AT WANDSWORTH MUSEUM, LUCY HURST, SARA WISEMAN, VANESSA COTTON THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN LOUD AND QUIET ARE THOSE OF THE RESPECTIVE CONTRIBUTORS AND DO NOT NECESSARI LY REFLECT THE OPINI ONS OF THE MAGAZINE OR ITS STAFF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2012 LOUD AND QUIET. ISSN 2049-9892 PRINTED BY SHARMAN & COMPANY LTD.
36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ALBUMS FILMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 BLOC PARTY, MICACHU & THE SHAPES, THE FLAMING LIPS AND ALL THE MONTH’S KEY RELEASES
IAN ROEBUCK ON MUSIC DOCUMENTARIES AND WHAT TO MAKE OF WES ANDERSON’S MOONRISE KINGDOM
42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LI V E PARTY W OLF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 BILBAO BBK LIVE, JACK WHITE, SUNLESS ‘97, TNGHT, BEST COAST & MORE
THE INAPPROPRIATE WORLD OF IAN BEALE WIN RADFEST TICKETS / MY TIME / IDIOT PARADE
WELCOME AUG UST 2012
We’ve always maintained that, first and foremost, and regardless of the times, Loud And Quiet is a printed, physical publication. We built a website because we had to; we maintained it because, as it of course turned out, websites are very useful and can do things that paper and ink simply can’t. We ended up almost enjoying the day to day duties of updating LoudAndQuiet.com, archiving our past content and posting downloads and news and competitions and podcasts. And then, at the tail end of last month, some little fuck hacked and deleted four years of interviews and reviews. Our friends and readers all asked the same question, and we soon realised that dwelling on ‘why would anybody do that?’ was most infuriating of all. So we took comfort in the fact that Loud And Quiet is, first and foremost, and regardless of the times, a printed, physical publication. It made us a little more consolable. Deleting one near-complete issue of Loud And Quiet, believe it or not, would have been far worse than the utter destruction of our accompanying website. In the office below ours works a good man named Geoff, who, fortunately for us, knows a great deal more about the inner workings of websites than we do. With Geoff’s help we managed to resurrect LoudAndQuiet.com, phoenix-like, after a week of meltdown. It made us think, though, that perhaps we need a bit of an online scrub-up, so, even though we no longer need to, we’ve been busy developing a fresh site that we hope to have live by the time next month’s issue is published on August 25th. Know, though, that Loud And Quiet remains what you’re holding, and, thankfully, for all their faults, magazines can’t get needlessly hacked or deleted. Once they’re printed, there they are. Enjoy this month’s issue – against the tide of cyber vandalism, it was a hoot to make.
CONTRI B UTOR
A L E X W IL S HIR E SUB EDITOR
Alex is Loud And Quiet’s unsung hero. Or at least she was until now. Since day one she’s done all the jobs the rest of us don’t want to – chieﬂy checking and correcting our bad spelling and worse grammar. She reads every issue before anyone else in order to spare our blushes, and before it looks pretty. On top of this – keep clapping – it’s Alex who is our getaway driver when we distribute Loud And Quiet in the London area each month. You might have seen her shouting at parents/small children/confused tourists/old people who either don’t cross the road quickly enough or step in front of our van and then slug to the other side like an overweight toad in concrete boots. Alex could beat most of these people in a swearing match. Without her Loud And Quiet would be twice as much hard work and half as much fun. Alex’s favourite band are The Kooks.
COVER SHOOT: ARIEL PINK, WANDSWORTH, LONDON, ENGLAND BY TIMOTHY COCHRANE 11 JULY 2012
BEGINNING AUG UST 2012
AMERICAN BOY / TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE BY LUKE WINKIE: OUR MAN IN BAR ACK ’S BACK YARD
Illustration by Gareth Arrowsmith - www.garetharrowsmith.blogspot.com
IT RE ALLY IS A SIN DANNY CANTER BELIEVES IN GUILTY PLEASURES, DESPITE KNOWING BETTER
HANGING WITH THE WEIRDOS AT THE ULTIMATE GEEK FEST, SAN DIEGO’S COMIC CON
It’s something that we’re not meant to believe anymore, but I can’t help but think that guilty pleasures have a place in our lives. As a ‘serious music fan’ now ﬂirting with the bracket of ‘aging’, I know that I should be towing the mature ‘if-you-like-it-that’s-all-that-matters’ party line, but I just don’t buy it. Perhaps my guilty pleasure is believing in guilty pleasures. What’s more likely is that I’m conﬂicted by something far less pseudo philosophical, like old fashioned snobbery and self-consciousness. Like most people, I come from a town where socialising past the hour of 11pm means doing so to the sound of Bon Jovi’s ‘Living On A Prayer’. As you’re probably aware, such songs are not aired with musak subtlety, they’re enhanced by gaggles of screams that were no more enthusiastic last week and will be no less so next. Unfortunately for me, a lot of those screams are coming from my otherwise sane friends, and to them – the “Oh, we love a bit of cheese, don’t we?” crowd – the notion of guilty pleasures is as foreign a concept as trainers in the Slug & Lettuce. They are proud and immune, but they’re not the people who claim none of us have anything to be ashamed of. That’s the people like me, who a.) can’t believe than anyone ever needs to hear ‘Living On A Prayer’ ever again, b.) consider themselves a ‘sophisticated music fan’, and c.) ok, probably take themselves a bit too seriously. They say it, but it doesn’t make it true. It’s easy to deny it, because the rules of guilty pleasures aren’t carved in anything. It all boils down to whom you’re talking to. My mum, for example, has no idea of the stigma/ kudos around Blink 182, so I can profess them to be far more credible to her than, say, your average cheese enthusiast who requested ‘All The Small Things’ last weekend. To a cheese head, you might have to dig down one more layer of obscurity, to The Wombats or The Vaccines. This process can then be repeated all the way to the point where you’re wracking your brain for the most avant garde post-industrial noise band you know in order to impress the guy behind the counter of your local independent record store. And it happens, because (and admittedly I’m generalising here) the more seriously we take music, the more we want to say the right thing to the right people. I’m certainly getting better at toeing the party line, which is no doubt one of a few pluses of being an aging man, but every now and then when I confess my true, positive feelings about Coldplay to professional peers, I get a look that says, ‘oomph, that is a guilty pleasure’. Right now I’m just thinking that Danny is going to kill me when he ﬁnds out I’ve written this under his name.
I’m sitting on the eve of the annual, formidable San Diego Comic Con, something that has surprisingly become a recurring nightmare in my life. It’s something that just happens when you grow up in a certain part of the world. Comic Con collects everything – giggling teenage girls, hardcore collectors of every niche, nerdy series in the universe, and guys like me: deﬁnitely geeky, but still able to dress ourselves correctly and carry a normal, mutually agreeable conversation. At Comic Con, people my lot (which probably includes you) are in the stark, stark minority. In some ways it can be incredibly reassuring, in the sense that surrounding yourself with people somehow more socially incapable than you’ll ever be can soothe a long-abused esteem. Comic Con is an epicentre of thousands of weird, unsightly obsessions. Rufﬂed, self-serious, balding men getting in all sorts of hullabaloo over speciﬁcally marked Star Wars ﬁgurines, racy anime, and the occasional suit of space armor. I’m there for the spectacle, just as much as I am for the few things that cater to my personal concerns. One of the more central staples is, of course, the BBC booth, in which thousands of American diehards line-up to meet all the English luminaries that have never quite made it across the Atlantic. People live for this stuff. It’s what gets them out of bed at 7 in the morning to put their name in a waiting list so maybe, just maybe, The Mighty Boosh might sign their book. You may not be aware, but all that programming you take so lightly, the ubiquitous stuff that clogs your primetime and malls, is absolute gold to a certain demographic over here. Dr. Who in particular has earned a legion-like army of American geeks, an absolute site to behold. Comic Con is their one chance to get up close and personal with such an adopted fandom – in that sense it’s actually kind of beautiful. I mean, there’s plenty of dumb stupid stuff to go with it. I once stumbled into a panel occupied by an obese, incredibly self-serious author whose primary trade was those sci-ﬁ paperbacks you see clogging the arteries of every shady thrift bookstore. He wasn’t horrifying, but his quarter-ﬁlled theatre of absolute, thoroughbred disciples were. But it’s also so wonderful and weird, decadent and divine. It shows off America’s unique ability to be absolutely preposterous and charming at the exact same time. And hey, I get some sweet, cheap, trade-show pop art to hang in my condo. Let it be known that no matter what you may have heard, Comic Con is not an evil thing.
MY MUM HAS NO IDEA ABOUT THE STIGMA/KUDOS AROUND BLINK 182
BEGINNING SINGLES & EPS / BOOKS 01 BY L EE B U L L M A N & M A N DY D R A K E
(SEXBEAT) OUT NOW
M A JOR L A Z E R GE T F R E E
TA S H A K I MI YA K I BE S T F R IE ND
(MAD DECENT) OUT JULY 23
(LUV LUV LUV) OUT AUGUST 6
There is no question that the real brilliance of Major Lazer’s new single lies in the guest vocals of Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman – the effortless, nasally RnB cries that still have ‘Stillness Is The Move’ as her band’s best single to date. But let’s not take away from Diplo’s newfound poise. If the title ‘Get Free’ doesn’t suggest more aggressive dancehall along the lines of ML’s debut album of 2009, the ﬂexing bicep on the sleeve sure does ﬁll in the blanks. Major Lazer seem to have left behind the dutty winding, though, here more down tempo that anyone would expect, propelled by a slowly building dub pulse and euphoria synths that are shot down just as they’re about to drop into banger territory. It’s remarkably controlled, much like Coffman’s multi-tracked shrieks. Previously a join project with Switch, the British producer left Diplo to it in 2011, and here the result is nothing short of staggering.
Perma-caned duo Tashaki Miyaki are proudly from the city of Los Angeles. In their short lifetime they’ve already turned The Everly Brothers and Bob Dylan into The Jesus & Mary Chain, and their own tracks are no less laconically sulky amidst the shiny happy people of West Coast America. Jocks and would-be bikini models are gooﬁng around on Venice Beach, but Tashaki and Miyaki (it’s their names too) are wearing a lot of black and making Warpaint seem like frumpy virgins. ‘Best Friend’ is a never ending exercise in simplistic pop that takes that girl group tambourine bash and lays it bare beside fuzzy guitar strums that are as cosy as the duo’s duel vocals. White noise has no place here, and if Tashaki Miyaki are to be considered shoegaze it’s all down to their lead-legged pace more than anything else. And while this could easily be the work of Cults, they’d have probably ruined the cool by not reigning in the happy so much.
W E IR D O B Y C AT HI UN S W OR T H (SERPENT’S TAIL)
Cathi Unsworth, undisputed heavyweight queen of peroxide noir, is back with her fourth novel for maverick indie publisher Serpent’s Tail. Following her last outing (2009’s superlative s ixties crime novel Bad Penny Blues), Weirdo follows the story of Sean Ward, an ex-policeman turned private investigator who ﬁnds himself embroiled in a murder case which, by the time he reaches it, is already twenty years old. The original case two decades previous had led to a guilty verdict being handed down to Corinne Woodrow, a 15-year-old girl convicted of the gruesome murder of a classmate. Ward, though, is not convinced, and advances in forensic investigation lead the private eye to the uneasy realisation that there may have been more than one of the local Goth kids involved. Unsworth, a veteran music journalist with a well-honed bullshit detector, allows her rock’n’roll background to seep through onto every page. As always in her novels, the devil is in the detail as she peers beneath the surface of youth subcultures and small-town politics to discover dark, unsettling truths. Weirdo is as good as British noir ﬁction currently gets.
TWIT B Y B A B A K G A N JE I (RECORDS RECORDS RECORDS RECORDS)
Two years on from Babak Ganjei’s ﬁrst graphic novel (the charmingly scrawled, rightfully-titled Hilarious Consequences that told of the Wet Paint guitarist’s shortcomings, failures and premature midlife crisis), comes the no less self-deprecating Twit. Where this book differs is in its format – not a constructed novella but 102 separate, obscure gags spanning 3 frames at a time. No less silly than Hilarious Consequences, it’s more stocking ﬁller than anything else, but a nice interlude until Ganjei’s next full story, no less.
Single reviews by Kate Parkin / Stuart Stubbs Blowback by Lee Bullman and Michael Forwell published by Pan Macmillan available now. www.leebullman.com
E A GUL L S S/T EP
Raging back onto life with this, their ﬁrst release since last year’s Mazes split, Eagulls have grown into a conﬁdent presence on the UK DIY scene. Recorded in their local Suburban Home Studios with Matthew Johnson of Leeds drone band Hookworms behind the desk, they sound sharp and ready for action. ‘Cofﬁn’ keeps Henry Ruddel’s Clash style drums to the fore while ‘Moultings’’s drawn out start stumbles onto singer George Mitchell in a state of languid Cure-like introspection. Eagulls haven’t strayed too far from their roots, though, and while the tunes are more discernable, the bitter taste of life’s injustices remains captured by George’s embittered howls. The magniﬁcently titled ‘Cripple (Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis)’ shifts away from their usual laid back state, challenging you to a ruck over a background of venomous guitar growls. If you’re hoping for a repeat of ‘Council Flat Blues’’s post-rock fuzziness, you won’t ﬁnd it here, but its soul lives on in the rallying cries of ‘Still Born’, with shaven-headed chavs and glass-eyed junkies lifted straight from This is England. Eagulls are a band for our shitty times and their acid-tongued insight into the lives of the downtrodden continues to grow in ambition.
NOT MUSIC : JOHN FORD’S NON AUDIO FE ARS AND FANTASIES HO W T O BE MOR E S P OR T ING
SE ARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN THE HUNT FOR A ‘70S FOLK LEGEND THAT NEVER WAS Until 2006, Malik Bendjelloul was a young Swedish director known (or rather unknown) for a series of 6-minute short ﬁlms produced for local TV. On the hunt for a bigger story, he travelled for six months through Brazil and Mexico and eventually onto Cape Town, South Africa. “I was pretty happy,” he says, “because I’d found a pretty good story already, but then I met Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and he told me the most amazing story I’d ever heard in my life. It was like a movie script, it was so unbelievable.” The story Segerman told was as mythical as it was magical, about a long lost ’70s folk legend that never was. Sixto Rodriguez made Bob Dylan look politically ﬂaccid, and Love like a band in need of a Technicolor melody or two, but nobody knew that because Rodriguez’s debut album (1970’s ‘Cold Fact’) spectacularly bombed. Its follow up, ‘Coming From Reality’ of 1971, didn’t do any better. Rodriguez became a ghost, disappearing into Detroit’s underground from where he came. Meanwhile – and unbeknown to anyone outside of the country – ‘Cold Fact’, ﬁrst via bootlegged copies and then ofﬁcial re-releases, became South Africa’s biggest record, as popular as ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Bridge Over Trouble Water’, says Segerman; a soundtrack to the anti-Apartheid movement. To the oppressed people of South Africa, Rodriguez and his psychedelic rebel music was as big as Elvis, and they presumed that to be the case throughout the rest of the world too. He did, after all, have all it took to be a post-hippy superstar – the socially aware mind to serve the plight of the working class, the lush orchestrations of Arthur Lee, the mystique of a man who recorded under one name, performed with his back to the audience and told no more about himself. He even had his own shady, grizzly death(s) of a rock legend, with stories ranging from drug overdoses to snufﬁng it in prison to on-stage suicide at the hands of a pistol. The most
popular tale had Rodriquez setting ﬁre to himself in front of an audience. Searching For Sugar Man is essentially a story within a story that starts out with Segerman and fellow super fan Craig Bartholemew attempting to answer just how their idol died. In tackling that niggling mystery the pair unearth an endless stream of revelations that make Bendjelloul’s ﬁrst feature ﬁlm as compelling as it is deserving of its two Sundance Film Festival Awards. Apt for its underdog backbone and themes of hope,
“HE TOLD ME THE MOST AMAZING STORY I’D EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE”
inspiration and eventual recognition, Bendjelloul edited the ﬁlm on his kitchen table, planning on hiring in “professionals” and withdrawing the ﬁlm from Sundance until next year. “When I found out it was the opening ﬁlm at the festival, I knew I couldn’t do that,” he says, “but the reason it’s striking a chord with so many people is because the good guy wins. And it’s a better story than Cinderella, because Cinderella doesn’t have this soundtrack.” --‘Searching For Sugar Man’ is in cinemas July 27, accompanied by a soundtrack via Light In The Attic / Sony Legacy, released July 23
In 1996, young, impressionable and through no fault of my own, I bunked off school in the wake of England being knocked out of the European Championships. I blame the media, Your Honour. Distraught at the loss, what I really couldn’t face was it being the talk of the classroom, churning it over and over, attempting to convince ourselves we were robbed somehow. That’s what we do, isn’t it? So I stayed home and sulked, and since then, perhaps, I’ve shirked all pretence that England/Britain has a divine right to be considered a great sporting nation. I particularly wince with every passing year that knocks 1966 further away while our desperate commentators scramble for a good omen that can only mean we have it in the bag this time. It’s partly because they’ve got 90 minutes of ugly football airtime to ﬁll, but nuggets like, “The last time England had three 26-year-olds in the squad was 1966” might as well be, “Look, the ball is round again”. For the time being, football seems to have turned a corner – when England were knocked out of the Euros last month, even the players seemed to shrug. But I fear that my own skepticism has gone too far. It wasn’t just that I was nonplussed by our team’s defeat; I actively didn’t want them to win. Considering the unfounded high regard with which we still hold 1966, I can’t imagine how unbearable it would be if we did ever win another football tournament. Knighthoods all round. I didn’t feel bad about it at all, and when Wimbledon came around I promptly dismissed Murray Mania too. The way I saw it, constantly reminding the world that we’ve not had a Brit in the ﬁnal since 1936 highlighted a pitiful track record more than it did Murray’s own achievement, which is of course completely unfair. Overexcitement aside, we’ve never claimed to produce brilliant tennis players though, so I decided to neither root for or against our man. It would have been nice for him to win, but, then, Murray has always charmed like a damp Sunday. And then he cried, and I felt terrible, and I consider my lesson learned. The media ball-tickling doesn’t help, but hating on your national team because they are just that is as dumb as hating on another because they are not.
GOOD WITCH/BAD WITCH PHOTOGRAPHER -
In the basement of a Soho bistro, young Canadians Megan James and Corin Roddick look happy to have found a chair each. Their European tour ends tonight, after visa cock-ups that meant a missed train from Paris to London, a late sound check and now this, another interview in an endless line formed by those who’ve heard debut album ‘Shrines’. Megan – porcelain dolllike, less blemished than her 24-years, even, and button cute – looks particularly beat. As Purity Ring’s saintly singer, it’s Megan who writes the lyrics she’ll angelically recite on stage in an hour or two, and ‘Shrines’, for all its abstract vocal hooks, rather ﬁttingly seems to explore sleep above anything else. “I think it’s more a reference to dreams… and rest in general,” she says. “I’ve been learning how important it is to take time out. That’s been a big deal for me.” I mention that her current career choice isn’t too conducive to R&R. “No, there isn’t much rest right now,” she laughs, “but I’m not thinking about Purity Ring when I’m writing lyrics. I don’t think that what we’ve been doing together should inﬂuence what I write.These are just things that I think about everyday, regardless of what I’m doing. “I write about a lot of the same topics,” she continues, nursing a raspberry lemonade.“A big one is… the body, and the separating of them, and coming together of them… but not sexually,” she hastens to add. Megan’s sudden coyness isn’t unfounded. To us her absurdist lyrics are just that, but they began as diary entries that weren’t necessarily meant for prying eyes. She admits to never having had any ambitions to become a singer, but when Corin asked her to put vocals to his burgeoning electronic project, reaching for her journal felt strangely natural. And lines like “Drill little holes into my eyelids/That I might see you/That I might see you when I sleep” haven’t been doctored for our amusement: “She just takes the line exactly as she’s written it down and puts it in the track,” notes Corin. “In a sense, I’m always writing songs,” Megan ponders. “But before Purity Ring started I was never writing for a musical project. I just wrote lullabies – I’d just walk down the street and sing a song and write it down.” And if what you’d written down felt a little too personal, you simply leave it be, right? “No. I usually go through and ﬁnd the things that I like best, and they’re usually the most meaningful and the most personal. There aren’t limits in that respect. I think it’s easier for me because I feel like nobody understands it the way I do. Maybe they do, but it is quite cryptic.” Corin’s part of the deal is everything else. Megan is a trained pianist, but she didn’t contribute any musical
ideas to ‘Shrines’ or Purity Ring’s early demos of 2011. It’s Corin who will feature on this year’s NME Cool List – the group’s architect and electrical whiz kid with One Direction good looks. As for ‘Shrines’, it distinctly feels like the good witch to Witch House’s occult and doomy counterpart. Corin’s multi-storey, sparkling synths and clipped RnB beats aren’t all sweetness and light, but Megan’s fairy-like singsong hoists the duo’s debut album into bright sunlight. It helps that you can make out what Megan is singing, regardless of the double-dutch nature of her diary-written lullabies. “People are afraid of letting the vocals be an up front thing,” says Corin. “But had you not asked me you would have probably done that,” says Megan.
“ALL THOSE SONGS DRENCHED IN REVERB, IF YOU TOOK THAT OFF AND TURNED IT UP, YOU’D BE LIKE, ‘OOOOMPH’” Corin: “Well, no, I wouldn’t have… It’s because it’s usually the person singing themselves, and these bands usually have bad singers. Chillwave and Witch House, I mean, can you name one band that has a good singer?” “Neon Indian,” offers Megan. “Is he chillwave? I think he has a nice voice.” “Well, let’s not get bogged down in what is and what isn’t chillwave – genres are the most boring thing to talk about. But all those songs that are drenched in reverb, if you took that off and turned it up, you’d be like, ‘Oooomph’.” Corin grimaces. “I make Megan’s voice clear and present because I’m really conﬁdent in her voice.” Megan notes that her vocals aren’t completely unaffected, with Corin “making it into an instrument and playing with it.” “It’s like we’re heli skiing together,” she says.“Y’know
when you see people heli skiing and their tracks are going like this [Megan waves her hands in a lattice formation, like two people crisscrossing down a mountainside], it’s like that.” As for the Witch House comparisons, Corin appears less au fait with it all than the swampy snare of ‘Grandloves’ and the black magic bossa nova keys of ‘Obedear’ suggest. “What are Witch House bands?” he asks. “I know that Salem is one, but I’ve never really listened to Salem. I like the idea of Witch House, but I can’t actually think of a Witch House band that I like.” Despite the fatigue, Megan and Corin are not despondent interviewees; perhaps a sign of it, they occasionally bicker like brother and sister.When Megan mentions that Corin originally set her vocals low in the mix, Corin is quick to point out that they were “lower”, not “low”. When talk turns to why electronic music is doing so well right now (2012 has seen Grimes, Polica and now Purity Ring produce albums that are far more inventive than a vast majority of last year’s ambient, IDM surge), Megan reasons, “it’s because it’s so easy”, but Corin is quick to disagree. “No, it’s not easy to make,” he insists. “Just as much work still goes into making it.” “But in as much as you can do it yourself,” says Megan. “You don’t need to tour with a big group of people.” “That’s true,” Corin nods.“People don’t want to haul around gear. But also, I just don’t want to make music with guitar and drums right now. I think it’s harder and harder to make exciting new music with traditional instruments. It is still being made, but it’s harder – no matter what you do with it, an acoustic guitar is still going to sound like an acoustic guitar.” “I still get really excited when someone’s guitar sounds really good,” says Megan. “I think it’s a trend right now.” Corin: “I don’t think it’s a trend – I think it’s musical progression.” Megan:“Yeah, but there’s trends involved in that as well.” Megan listens to a lot of instrumental electronic music; Corin doesn’t at all, noting that although he’s recently been enjoying the new Rustie record, he’s not generally a fan of music without vocals. Oddly enough, his varied, anti-monotonous backing tracks could be what instrumental dance music needs right now – he’d no doubt do very well, albeit to a different crowd, if he stripped out Megan’s vocals altogether. “But I wouldn’t want to,” he says. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable releasing anything instrumentally. I know some people would enjoy it, but to take things to the next level you need a
great vocal.” There remains plenty that Purity Ring do agree on, of course – the optimum time and place for listening to their album (“in the dark, on headphones, on your own”), the encompassing feel of ‘Shrines’ (“satisfying” and “made for listeners”), the fact that their music is not sexy, despite it being a term splashed over many reviews and proﬁles, as tends to be the case when an early ’90s RnB inﬂuence can be heard in the drums, and at a time when every new musician clambers to swear down at the alter of Aaliyah. “I think it’s more sensual and emotional,” says Megan. “I don’t think it’s sexy at all, but I can see why people do, because it’s easy to turn a lot of intimate emotions into
sexual ones. I think a lot of people just don’t hear all of it, or our intentions in it, and it makes them feel intimate, and then sexy.” “And that’s ok too,” assures Corin.“If people want to feel sexy to it, that’s ﬁne. But we didn’t feel sexy when we made it.” A couple of hours after we meet, Purity Ring’s European tour meets its end, and the attention to detail that pings from the light-footed ‘Shrines’ is realised in an equally well crafted live show. Megan appears like a hardened belle of the toy box ball, in a babydoll puff dress and black eyeliner, frequently holding a manic glare that frosts over her cutesy voice. Occasionally she beats a giant drum that lights up from within with every strike.
Corin stands behind an even more ambitious contraption that’s part Willy Wonka, part Whack-a-Mole.A drummer before he was a producer, he made “the machine” in his garage as a way to trigger samples and sounds percussively rather than from a boring old keyboard. Eight lanterns of changing colours surround him, all of them sparking varied sounds when thwacked. It’s a light show and instrument in one, and when you consider that this is a club show that would have been happy with laptop karaoke, just how ambitious and fully formed Purity Ring already are is perhaps what’s most impressive of all. “We’re really critical about what we don’t want to do,” says Corin. “We’re not negative people, we’re just critical.”We’re not negative people, we’re just critical.”
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs ARE YOU HAVING A LAUGH?
rlando Higginbottom is on a mission. Practically a one man carnival of kaleidoscopic colour, effervescent energy and chameleon sound, his rise from the anonymous, cardboard box-wearing performer to animated, vibrant curator of one of the quirkiest performances around has been a deserved one. Dumb, daring, and resoundingly determined, Orlando’s a man in demand. A stunning debut album in ‘Trouble’, a major label deal with Polydor and a debilitating tour schedule have given him the platform to put TEED on a lofty pedestal. But that doesn’t mean it all hasn’t been harshly questioned and critiqued. Some people don’t get it, even if there’s always an open invitation to the party. “How I want my live show to come across is welcoming.” Orlando explains. “I just really wanted to do a dance thing that was like, ‘Come on, it’s ﬁne, we’re having a laugh’. That’s basically why I started to do Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. It could never be cool, could never be underground, and could never have that aloof air to it. I felt much safer and much more honest than giving myself some cool DJ name and wearing a fresh pair of trainers every week. I like the idea of dance music, clubbing and shows being a celebration. It was a reaction to that.” At a time where DJs and producers are ﬁghting increasingly vitriolic blog turf wars on the merits of genre and production, Orlando is equally unabashed and unequivocal when it comes to the “gimmick” of his own work. It’s a focus, seriousness and single-mindedness that characterises much of the interview – and presumably his personality – but it’s also what drives much of the playful imagination that has come to symbolise what TEED deﬁantly stands for. “I think more of a gimmick is having a huge wall or LED screen and hiding behind that,” he reasons. “I certainly think the way we deal with the shows is quite honest. People always talk about the confetti but I’ve got two little confetti canons a show that are tiny and hit the front row if I’m lucky. It’s minor really but who knows, if I get paid more I’ll turn into one of those acts that aren’t really onstage anymore,” he muses. Underpinning much of the success is a staunch commitment and refusal to bow to genre. Once alienated by the house scene and enraptured by the brutal power of jungle, specifying genres is the one thing not welcome. For Orlando, there’s clearly a great source of pride in his style-hopping diversity, but it’s also one that’s opened him up to the mainstream and, probably, the prospect of being considered the one thing he’s railed against for so long. “Yeah, it’s nice. It’s what I wanted and I feel more open to write the music that I want to write and not have to be part of a sound. It’s become a level of popular but let’s be straight about this: it’s not cool. Blogs and papers and magazines have always had question marks over it and that’s ﬁne with me.” ‘Trouble’ has answered those questions. A debut that captures the blazes of colour and energy of the live show, it’s a vibrant amalgamation of mainstream-friendly big beat, electro energy and understated vocals. A statement of intent, it’s a record determined to outlive ﬂeeting dance-ﬂoor trends, but it also presented a challenge of balancing the earlier tracks – that helped set the TEED wagon in motion – with the new. “That was a funny thing for me because I knew that some fans had known the music for a couple of years. There’s my version of the album and the industry version
of it and they’ve deﬁnitely clashed. Of course, I was thinking, ‘Is that going to work?’ and although about three tracks had been around for a while, if you think about the amount of people that heard it ﬁrst time around, the number hearing it on the album will be a vast increase. And they’re some of my best tracks. “To make up for that, I made the album longer than critics would have liked, but if you’re a fan, I think it’s the right length. I wanted to put something out that you could come back to in a year and there’s still some stuff to ﬁnd. I don’t know, an album’s a weird idea for me because I never listen to albums so I had to work out how to do it and what the point of an album is now, and the main thing in my head was just to put together a big collection of tracks,” he smiles. Pigeonholing is a desperately dirty word for any producer. Scene, style and genre get celebrated, aped and glamourised before being chewed and spat back out into the blogosphere. Catching the wave is as much about luck as it is talent and going at your own pace is a brave decision to make and stick to. Unwavering in his dedication to make his music the right way, ‘Trouble’ might be snapshot of various references but, so far, it remains incomparable, if not unique. “That’s how I’ve tried to look at it and avoid what’s new,” says Orlando.“In the last couple of months writing the record, I was just listening to music that I loved instead of what was now, cool, hip or whatever. I didn’t even want to react to it or bounce off it in any way because I wanted things to stand up. It might sound old in six months time or a month, but the goal was certainly to stay as reference free as possible. “It’s hard in dance music because it’s all about referencing.You certainly have little voices in your head when you write music. Some of them are mainstream listeners going, ‘Fuck! This is weird’, and then the intellectual listeners are responding with, ‘This has all been done before’. “I tried to go down the route I was feeling most insecure about, ﬁnd something that felt all wrong and
focus on that. I hoped that if I tried to make it even more wrong, it would sound right at the end but not like anything else.” For all the fun and carefree abandonment TEED evokes, there’s a noticeable hard edge to Orlando. Freshfaced he might be, but his motivation and ambition is tangible. Having released earlier EPs through GrecoRoman, the move to Polydor was a considered and calculated decision to simply hit a bigger audience. And be able to pay his rent. “That was it. If I wasn’t with a major label, I wouldn’t be able to live. I wouldn’t be making any money to tour and still pay rent. I just wouldn’t be able to afford it basically. I’ve been on the road for a year solid and that’s only because I’ve signed a contract and got an advance and some money to live off. I wouldn’t have been able to do that with Greco-Roman. It’s why so many indie bands sign with a major and then get dropped because they haven’t really got an option. It just costs too much money to take a band on tour to play to 40 people. It’s really shit.” The economics and logistics aside, the mission hasn’t really changed. Inspired by – and clearly devoted to – the live show, this is where the glitter ball heart of TEED is abundantly evident. Admittedly, ﬁnding the concept of deconstructing his debut album difﬁcult, the overall live experience, or the prospect of helplessly watching it crumble, is never far from Orlando’s mind. “When I’m writing anything, I’ve always got the live show at the back of my head. Most of them are ready to go anyway, but then I might change the arrangement, change the mix, change the vocals, take the keyboards out that I want to play. At the moment, it’s not as slick as I want it to be – musically it’s not where I want it to be, but I don’t think I’m ever going to get there and sit down and write and work out a new way of doing it. I think it works but it could feel more raw and more live.” “I still have this thing where the laptop’s doing 70% and the vocals and the keyboards are doing the rest. It still feels really tight and dance music is supposed to be tight, but if you go back to disco, it’s quite loose. I’d rather it felt like a disco band than a techno DJ.” All the reasons that mean Orlando and TEED shouldn’t be cool have evolved into the exact reasons that invite such happy adoration. Driven and dedicated but with the lack of serious self-consciousness of which dance music abides, Orlando’s all-encompassing, allaccess approach to the experience makes Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs both credible and incredible. And while Orlando would modestly never admit to anyone of it, it’s more or less mission accomplished. “My management’s favourite part of any show is when I fuck up,” he smiles. “But when I mess up and everything falls apart and I say sorry and feel really dumb about it, everyone’s like ‘Yeah!’. There’s something in that, there’s something in showing you’re a person up there and not a computer chip. It’s why I wanted to do this, to not be that, to make it fun. “The types of people that came to my last tour were so varied.There were indie kids, dance kids, 40 year olds, gays and just people you didn’t expect to see at gigs – I can’t think of a better thing. Some bands have that kind of clan but I’m really happy and comfortable to stand in front of a bunch of all sorts.That’s one of the things that I’m most happy with and I can almost be sort of smug. That’s part of the mission, deﬁnitely.”
Drop Out Venus
They call it Junk Jazz. A bric-à-brac sound. A rock’n’roll collage. From the wild horse’s mouth, three junked and jazzed kids from Deptford doing only they know how. “Someone once said ‘good artists borrow but great artists steal’. Well, it’s true, I rip off Elliot Smith all the time.” First Picasso, now Iva Moskovich, as she explains the ethos behind Drop Out Venus. Chris Moskovich continues: “Junk Jazz is about recycling. It’s trying to show a certain side to it all so people can look at it and say, ‘yeah there’s some kind of sense in life, even if it is nonsense’.” Iva’s vocals, Chris’s guitar and Ursula’s drums make perfect sense. A matter of months has seen their raw, improvised musical beat poetry loosen at the hips and roar to life. A collection of myths building in scope and sound, their reputation already precedes them – to see them live is to see them alive, and the band have only just awakened. They’ve only been playing together since January, but you can trace the mythology back to childhood. “Chris and I have been doing this since we were kids really,” says Ira. “We grew up in the same town, then eventually the same house. Our relationship has always been musical, Chris played me Aphex Twin next to the vending machine at school and then on the benches he introduced me to Bjork. We’d stay behind in the music room and play this out of tune piano; Chris was really into Thelonious Monk at the time.” Iva’s memory produces a glad smile, and Ursula continues: “I saw them at an open mic night in London, you in your fucking dungarees and Chris just standing there. I remember edging closer to the stage. I needed to be giving you a rhythm; I needed to be doing this now. I felt everything and nothing at the same time.” Ursula’s wild enthusiasm elicits a cacophony of laughter from the band.
FED UP OF SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE?
“Ursula was the ﬁrst drummer I’ve ever played with to look me in the eye,” notes Ira. “All of a sudden there was this girl who was playing my songs that I’m really insecure about and she was singing them right back to me.” Iva’s balancing act between fragility and force binds the trio together. Drop Out Venus slow dance on stage, their instruments at once combative and seductive as Iva pushes and pulls left and right with seething emotion. Her beguiling stage presence dazzles alongside the bands’ equally impressive musicianship, but it’s Iva’s vulnerability that’s spellbinding. Junk Jazz has a mantra and – Be Brave. “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but since I was a child I’ve had obsessive compulsive disorder and I’ve been prone to depression,” Ira continues, “without meaning to play the smallest violin in the world. As a child it manifested itself as supernatural monsters that my mind created, all kinds of hideous creatures that my brain couldn’t understand. I found it really difﬁcult to talk about until Chris sat me down and said, ‘listen you don’t have to be embarrassed about it’. So I developed this mantra every time I felt oppressed, I would just say to myself, ‘be brave, be brave, be brave’, and I would repeat it on a loop walking down the street. It means a lot and Chris said if we ever do anything one day we should live by this statement.” Their uncompromising stance and desire to keep things improvised and unrestrained means that Drop Out Venus never plan a set list, and they’re electric live shows have already garnered a fair amount of rubberknecking. “Everyone says we are unpredictable,” says Chris, “but I’m not sure what that means really. I guess it’s nice as people pay more attention – if you know what to expect from a gig then you tune out.” Iva has a more rash viewpoint of their creative brutality. “We’re never going to be a band that’s on the
cover of a magazine. I don’t think anyone gives a shit but it’s the only thing we love doing, it’s the only thing we can do. I think the time for inaccessible bands is almost over and I consider us an inaccessible band, breaking out like the White Stripes did for example.” A much sought after tape of early material allowed the public a snippet of rare recorded music and now Drop Out Venus are ready to release more. “I think for the most part people who like music like to look for music as well,” offers Ira.“It’s strange though, I know lots of people who don’t really enjoy music but have it anyway. They listen to music on their little iPod’s with their crap headphones. Everyone’s listening but it’s just to block stuff out, not let stuff in.” Called what else but ‘Be Brave’, the band’s ﬁrst collection of songs are deﬁnitely coming – a time capsule for the band marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of another before they record an album and release their ﬁrst proper single. “I have to force these songs out, they need to be heard,” begins a proud Chris, but Iva interrupts. “I’ve started thinking why do I write songs about these things. Why aren’t they uplifting and upbeat? A friend of mine once entered a poetry competition with a really dark poem called ‘Autumn Leaves’; the poem that won was called ‘Angels and Bubbles’.” Chris’s look gives away everything.This is why Drop Out Venus must endure. “People need to hear pain. OK, everyone’s distracted by dance records, ‘yay let’s all be happy’, but no, it’s really alright to think I just want to fucking die and not to masturbate along to chart music,” says Ursula, putting her arm around Iva who replies with another radiant smile. “I did once receive a letter from someone saying they masturbated along to one of our songs. Twice he came to it. It’s only four minute’s long dude.”
Keel Her In many senses Keel Her’s music embodies the essence of a kind of counter-culture that many of us happily inhabit today. Ostensibly, her songs are like conversations you might have in the pub, her topics almost arbitrary, the subject matter quick and occasionally ﬂeeting, but not necessarily empty or meaningless as they stretch across your favourite TV shows (Arrested Development and Parks & Recreation in songs ‘Steve Holt’ and ‘Swanson Pyramid of Greatness’), drugs (‘Too many drugs’,‘It’s my birthday, I’ll Get High if I Want To’) and musicians (see the endless list of covers and the almost touching ode to Jay Reatard in ‘Anna’). The term ‘zeitgeist’ is often plagued by negative connotations, meaning vacuous, transitory, hipster-cool, but in the case of Keel Her – who is undeniably ‘of the moment’ – there seems to be both an honesty and refreshing amount of fun and gooﬁness in her music. Sure, there are huge throwbacks to the ’90s skate/slacker aesthetic and dialogue, but the variety of styles and quirks makes her almost impossible to pinpoint musically and stylistically. Within a handful of songs you can go from weird, early-era Ariel Pink to Beat Happening via Wavves and Bikini Kill then arrive safely back at a Guided ByVoices/Real Estate intersection. The tracks are plentiful; often short, often long; bursts of ideas and feelings quickly mutated into song form. “I barely spend anytime on them,” says Rose KeelerSchäffeler, “I just write and record them and upload them straight away.” It’s an attitude that can be found in the varied palette of the songs, but despite the manic, ramshackle method of writing, Keel Her’s tracks are not the sloppy, mufﬂed offerings void of any production value like you might expect – some (such as the dreamy synth swashed ‘California’) are fully formed, with deep interlocking melodies that feel like they’ve been produced, tinkered and played with endlessly to create a pristine gleam.
DANIEL DYLAN WRAY
EVEN WITH A FULL TIME JOB, ROSE KEELERSCHÄFFELER MANAGES TO WRITE, RECORD AND UPLOAD A DIZZY NEW TRACK EVERY DAY
Soon – and much like Ariel Pink – the ears of legendary king of home recording and general idiosyncratic wonder R. Stevie Moore pricked up and a collaboration was soon on the cards.“I’m a huge fan and I tried to talk to him about a year before, but he ignored my message,” Rose tells me. “ Then I wrote him a song called ‘Robert’ and sent it to him and he said he was blown away.Then he started listening to all my stuff and said, ‘You wanna come over and record?’.” The result was the remarkably more polished double A-side single ‘Boner Hit/With me Tonight’, complete with bass guitar.“When he ﬁrst started listening to me he thought I needed more bass in my songs,” says Rose, “so he played bass on those. “It was a little strange spending two weeks with someone who’ve you’ve never really met before, but we got on really well.” The single is the ﬁrst instance in which Rose’s vocals lie at the forefront of the song, instead of taking a back seat under a sonic blanket of haze and fog, and the results expose a remarkably pretty and pristine voice. “It’s the only one my mum listens to by me because she can hear my voice. My parents just don’t get what I am doing at all.” Indeed, Rose’s musical environment isn’t like most – she isn’t at the heart of a thriving, ﬂourishing musical haven, but instead resides at home in Winchester, where she has recently began working full-time in a bar. Aside from being frustrating for obvious reasons. (“It’s just awful,” she says.“They have open mic nights and people are just terrible.They keep trying to get me to do it…”), it also initially interfered with Rose’s stern musical work ethic. “I was pretty much writing a song a day and uploading it,” she says, “but then I started working full time and at ﬁrst couldn’t quite continue to do that. “Now, In my breaks between morning and afternoon shifts I just write and record stuff on my iPhone and then
upload it after that.” If your eyes are up to it, take a quick look at the ultra garish Keel Her tumblr and you’ll notice a few snaps and videos of Rose with a pipe in mouth, kicking up clouds of smoke. “I don’t want to sound like a dick about it, because it’s really easy to when talking about drugs,” she says quite shyly of the photos (which are more purposely childish, in good humour and daft than anything else), “but I do smoke quite a lot of weed. “But it really helps creatively. I was recently in L.A with access to lots of good quality stuff and I was writing eight songs a day!” In many instances this is a continuing refutation of the perceived view of the slacker/skate culture. “People just assume if you smoke a lot you just sit around watching TV or playing video games or something, but for me it’s a genuinely helpful creative tool.” The sheer volume of material Keel Her has produced is a staggering testament to this – a visit to her bandcamp page and this bedroom artist is already in double ﬁgures for releases (E.P’s, demos, singles, covers, even an album compilation entitled ‘Worst Hits’) and there will probably be more on it by the time you read this. This summer she’ll release her ﬁrst album proper on London label Critical Heights. Unsurprisingly, the rise and growing popularity of Keel Her has led Rose to step out of the bedroom and onto stages across the country, now complete with a backing band in the form of Shefﬁeld-based sludge fuckers Bhurgeist – the North’s answer to Sebadoh. An odd geographic decision, one might think. “Yeah, we don’t ever really practice,” Rose laughs. “We usually just get together before the show. It’s really sloppy.” If Keel Her is a shining example of anything (besides the fervent and relentless DIY ethic and work rate she exudes) it’s ﬁnding and creating beauty in these imperfections.
Yeasayer IN A WORLD THAT STINKS OF PARANOIA AND GOVERNMENT FEAR-MONGERING, WE NEED A BAND LIKE YEASAYER MORE THAN EVER PHOTOGRAPHER -
Yeasayer’s leader Chris Keating holds a copy of a wellknown daily newspaper in his hands and scrunches his face up. Inside there are stories about how mothers who choose not to breastfeed their babies will become obese, how white wine will give us all arthritis and how terrorists planned to destroy one UK city using a Renault Laguna and a packet of screws from B&Q. Some more: an evil machine at Google is monitoring every tap on your iPhone, texting at the dinner table may give your sister a brain tumour and apples, despite what the doctor says, will give you cancer. You and I know the majority of this – maybe put that apple down – is poppycock. But we’re all guilty of swallowing it to some extent. The title of Yeasayer’s forthcoming third album,‘Fragrant World’, may bring to mind thoughts of freshly-baked baguettes and sweet perfume, but ask the Brooklyn trio what bubbles beneath and they’ll tell you it’s a record that’s riddled with themes of “paranoia”,“fear-mongering” and “propaganda”.The stuff Chris Keating has between his ﬁngers. “I’m paranoid of the people who’re actually inﬂuenced by that stuff,” says Keating, putting the paper to one side and sinking into a shabby sofa in the bar at London’s Lexington venue. His two bandmates, bassist Ira WolfTuton and guitarist Anand Wilder, are watching as he begins to speak faster, getting more ﬁdgety and angry. “They’re just trying to sell papers and it seems that somehow they convince people of this shit – that’s the scary part. It doesn’t surprise me that journalists would go to any extremes to get a story, to get a headline which sells papers, to increase advertising revenue.” I look down at my shoes and cross off the next question on my notepad. It seems weird that this is the same band who emerged with their debut album ﬁve years ago.With their straggly hair, castaway waistcoats and wispy beards they seemed to walk out from a bewitched universe looking like tribal-elders styled by Rolf Harris.They were mysterious, other-worldly. Their lyrics, shimmering on top of their magical brand of pop-infused world music, spoke of futures, earth and sunrises. The band before us today – less hair, still loud shirts – are more concerned with the problems of the present. More speciﬁcally the lies they feel are fed to the US public by the current right wing government opposition. “The recent health care debacle in the United States is utter nonsense,” says Keating, reaching for an example to illustrate his point. “Somehow the right wing conservative party convinced the majority of people – middle class people – that they’re better off with an inferior healthcare system. That’s been particularly frustrating.” He says Republicans have battered President Obama’s plans for change with “hyperbolic language” and “psychotic nonsense”. “It’s not that all these guys get together in a room and plan to fuck over poor people,” he seethes. “They just went to the same private school, go to the same clubs, smoke the same cigars, go to the same places and pretty much think similarly. I don’t think there is a uniﬁed conspiracy.You’re just dealing with the same white rich elitists that have always been in power in America. It’s still crazy.” “It’s all to do with money,” he continues. “The more money you pump into something they can distort anything.” It sounds like Keating’s spent the last two years watching from his “sheltered, bohemian, leftist empire of Brooklyn”, getting increasingly irked by the world around him. “There’s always a lot more going on than meets the eye,” he says sounding like Michael Moore. “It’s just chaos behind the scenes”. The point is,Yeasayer have changed.This time around they’re more ﬁred up, more uptight, more…well… passionate.
ar from here, at Gary’s Electric Studio in Brooklyn, was where the threesome recorded ‘Fragrant World’. It was a very different experience to that of recording their second album, ‘Odd Blood’ – they could walk from home for a start. For ‘Odd Blood’ they’d embedded themselves in the spiritual home of hippiedom, Woodstock, where they’d mixed with the local acid casualties and wizards frozen in time. “There’s an appeal to staying at home, having your normal life and waking up in your own bed,” says Wilder. “You didn’t have to uproot your life.” They went about recording in workmanlike fashion. Ten till eight, six days a week. “There was a much more deﬁned schedule,” says Wolf-Tuton. “It was as conventional as our lifestyle can be”. The result, of course, isn’t a conventional record. Yeasayer don’t do conventional. In amongst the mellotrons, affections, omnispheres, and a bunch of other instruments which sound made-up but actually aren’t, there was a pin-board. It was a montage of magazine cuttings, scrawled phrases, symbols, photos and progress checks. On there were attached certain key words which had captured their imagination. Not many bands return with a ﬁrst single (‘Henrietta’) that’s about the exploitation of human DNA by international pharmaceutical companies. Keating says it was the “jump-off point” for lots of the album’s “concepts”. It’s a story of big business using exploitation, deception and messing with life’s fundamental rights. No wonder, then, that the mistrust of huge moneymaking corporations has made their way into their daily business as a band.‘Odd Blood’ was written-up by many as being the trio’s stab at the pop mainstream. Indeed it led them to play on daytime Radio 1 and festival bills with pop’s biggest manufactured acts. It left them feeling satisﬁed but also empty. “The success and failures were similar with the last album,” says Keating, once again assuming the role of spokesperson. “Playing to bigger audiences is a good thing but for us it can seem a little impersonal. Getting on the radio is cool, and that is a success, but you have to do some weird stuff to enter into that world that we’re not that comfortable with.” Like what? “Like editing your songs down to ﬁt some arbitrary radio format. Playing some radio festivals or things like that aren’t things you’d want to go to. We had a little glimpse of that world. It doesn’t sound very fun,” explains Keating.
“In America, there’s no chance we’d get played on the real mainstream radio but in Europe there’s more of a radio market. You’re playing an old school game it seems like. I don’t see why it exists.With all the access to information, a new generation of listening populous who can get things from the Internet direct from the band, what do you need all this faff for?” One of Chris’s favourite comics is American Louis CK. According to the singer, he’s one of the ﬁrst comedians to cut out corporations like Live Nation and Ticketmaster by selling tickets to his gigs direct to people through his website. That way fans aren’t saddled with £7.50 transaction fees or £1.50 e-ticket printouts. “It’s a real revolution because there’s all these intermediaries who just get involved who’ve built up over the last 50 years just to take money from fans and take money from the band,” he says. “The service they provide is fucking bullshit.” It’s a big part of the reason why the day we speak to Yeasayer they’re playing the ﬁrst of two small shows at the 200-capacity club in north London. The second show they announced with 18 hours notice, and saw people queue up ﬁrst-come-ﬁrst-served to pay with cash (no booking fee). “I would be totally comfortable if, at some point, we could just book all of our own stuff,” says Keating. “You don’t make as much money but it’s fun to get little glimpses of reality.” “We purposely try to avoid, with our own work, the major label system and it’s worked out pretty well.When you get a glimpse of that big pop world, that big R&B world, that big dance world, there are assistants and middlemen and all these people.” Ira jumps in: “More things are going to consolidate, in terms of using outside people.That’s more of a realistic future within the climate. But if we took control of all this other shit, we wouldn’t be able to make music and play shows.”
atching the band reassemble ‘Fragrant World’ on stage the following night is a reminder of just how special Yeasayer are, their sound based on inventive production, bustling with new ideas and fresh grooves.
They said before working on new material this time they were listening to a lot of UK electronic artists, like Gold Panda. When you look around and see the pop mainstream plundering the leftﬁeld (if there still is a such a thing) for ideas it’s surprising Yeasayer haven’t been sucked in.When we see Bon Iver on Kanye West’s album, Diplo producing Usher’s latest track or Skream writing Kelis’ new single, it’s a lucrative world they could be members of. “Some stuff comes up,” says Keating, cagily.“Some of it’s cool, some of it’s not.A lot of it is like,‘Oh, that might be a lot of time that we put into that project when we can actually work on our own stuff ’.” Ira joins in:“It starts to make you think,‘Is this worth it? Down the road what is this going to be? Is this going to be a fun collaboration or is this a way for this person not to do anything?’.” It’s true: when you craft your songs as meticulously as Yeasayer the temptation may not be there to ﬂog them out and dilute a sound they’ve made all their own. “We messed around with a dude, a big R&B guy who had a big single,” admits Keating. “It’s kind of strange. We’re not really musicians for hire, particularly. It would be cool if someone went, ‘Guys, I want you to produce this whole album’. It’s more like, ‘Do you want come in and mess around with some ideas? Have some meetings? It just seems a bit vague’.” “If Kanye West wanted for us to work on one of his songs, well, then we would probably make time,” concedes Keating.“If Kanye wants to sample one of our songs, go ahead! We deﬁnitely would. We’re a big fan of all that stuff, but I don’t want to seek it out. If Kanye calls up or Jay-Z wants us to work on something that sounds cool.” “At any given time there’s four or ﬁve people who write all the songs that are on the radio. It’s a surreal idea,” booms Tuton-Wolf, probably in a nod to the generic cycle of hits produced for Rihanna, Nicki Minaj et al. “Yeah no shit, they’re all about drinking alcohol in the morning. Obviously one person wrote those songs.” But like the daily news and the information they see being fed to people, Yeasayer have their reservations about getting too close. Our meeting ends with businesslike handshakes and cold pleasantries. Yeasayer may not trust journalists, they may not trust governments, they may not trust the mainstream world of pop music, but it’s just them being protective. If you had ideas as original as theirs you’d be shielding them too.
THE TURNER PRIZE WINNING CONTEMPORARY ARTIST ASKS: ‘WHAT’S THE POINT OF IT?’ PHOTOGRAPHER -
Against the Barbican’s grim, concrete backdrop, Martin Creed’s strolling arrival in a colourful candy stripe ensemble, topped off with a straw hat perched on top of his unkempt curls, is an agreeably bright one. Relaxed and affable, he carries the thoughtful air of a man happy with his place in life and a drooping moustache that regularly fails to contain a genuine, beaming smile. A long-time musician but more famed for his literal, chronological contributions to the contemporary art scene, the former Turner Prize winner inspires an honesty and humour into his work that permeates his personality. An artist that doesn’t consider himself one, his Work No 227,The Lights Going On and Off was exactly that: an empty room in which lights switched on and off. This direct approach helped set the direct, literal tone for his ﬁrst full-length LP, ‘Love to You’ – an eighteentrack, scattergun collection of thoughts driven by repetition, blazed through at a Tourette’s speed of short barbs and blasts of stubborn trains of thought and sound. Emboldened by a tug of war between love and hate, the album’s spirited snapshots offer an ad hoc glimpse into Martin’s musical, and visual, take on the world. “I feel like you can’t separate what you see from what you hear. It’s a total blur and I wouldn’t distinguish between them,” he explains.“When it comes back to me living in my little world in my own head, it’s the same effect. I’m just trying to live my life in the world I ﬁnd myself in and I think I’ve got to work on noises as well as what I see. “I’ve tried to use words a bit in my visual work with neon signs and stuff but I think one of the reasons I try to do the music is because I want to work on words and then combine it with the music and that weirdness of the melody that you can’t understand. Maybe music is more life-like because it has these elements…like a painting is a ﬁxed thing and a song is something you can repeat, and live, it’s something you can grasp. It feels like if you have to look at something, there’s a power thing – you have to be there to look at it but you can listen to music while you’re living your life.” It’s a statement that rings resoundingly true of his work. An active musician for a number of years,‘Love To You’ marks a period in Martin’s life that he felt compelled to share. A combination of little thoughts, dogged mantras and personal experience, it’s an album that treads a caustic path between two extreme emotions and one where repetition provides both structure and the scathing spirit. “A lot of the songs are written over a long period of time,” he explains. “I work quite slowly so if something keeps coming back to you, it must mean something. If something can bear repetition, it must have something in it. ‘What’s the Point of It?’ started like that. It was something in my head and I wanted to say it,” he laughs. “I often say things to myself when I’m walking along,” he continues, “my lyrics, other people’s lyrics, it’s why I love words, you can carry them with you, but if it’s a melody, you can’t carry all the instrumentation. With
words, you can have them; they’re yours, like if you learn a poem. A lot of the words in the album are like that, just words that kept coming back to me. “I’m not consciously trying to make it like that but most of the repetition is there because anything else is just pissing around. It would be talking around the subject and bullshit or being dishonest to just not say that. For a song like ‘Words’, that could only be the only word in that song and if I added more words into that, it’d spoil it,” he laughs. The album is also a milestone that denotes a struggle to write, reﬁne and curate a collection of tracks to satisfy both a personal and literal release. “I ﬁnd it really difﬁcult to let go,” admits Martin. “Finishing this album has driven me crazy because some of these songs have been unhealthy, like children kept in a basement for too long, and bringing them outside, they’re quite fucked up children. It’s been really traumatic dragging out the shit in my life but I’m quite familiar with that in a way with the work that I do as well.Things get stuck in your private life and it’s tough bringing it into the public.” Determined to get the songs out, but also keen to allow them to evolve where necessary, settling on a process of working presented a test of both patience and resolve, for Martin. With an analytical approach to making music, he says that ﬁnding the balance between capturing feelings but avoiding the clichés proved to be an exercise of distrust. “A lot of the songs on the album are written on paper and I try and work out the song then work out how to play it,” he explains. “Whereas if I strum away, I’ll do stuff that sounds nice and I like that sort of music, but then I’m kind of at the mercy of my own good taste and I hate that. I ﬁnd working on songs, if I try and write on the instrument by strumming guitar, end up with clichés and something that sounds easy. “I go do things then come back to them, especially playing things live and changing them a bit after that. Doing it in the real world, instead of your own bedroom, seems like the real place to try things out because that’s when you know whether you’re deluded or not,” he laughs. “Being able to have distance from it as well, especially as I’m singing most of the songs, it’s really easy to get hung up on it. When you’re on stage, you care about how you look and it gets narcissistic; ‘Am I in tune? Can I sing?’. “It’s like when you’re drawing, I can remember in school trying to draw a hand and you’re like, ‘I can’t draw a hand, am I a shit artist?’. I think you can get really hung up on the craft if you’re doing it yourself. That’s a weird thing that I feel has got to be overcome a bit, to try to not care about your own shortcomings.” At various points, our conversation veers between both Martin’s art and music, and the ﬁne divide between the two forms. An artist that sees no distinction between visual art and music, and employs and enjoys the literal to elicit basic emotions and reactions, it makes perfect sense that his music would be as playful and tongue-incheek as his visual works. And while there’s a constant,
underlying sense of indecision to both – from the personal turmoil of deciding which notes or paint brushes to use – there’s also a ﬁerce reaction to kick against control, constraint, exclusion and battling the “am I supposed to get this?” outsider perception of contemporary art. “I’d hate that. I hate that idea,” he exclaims. “I think if specialised knowledge is needed for something then I think it’s not good enough.That’s what I think about my work – if someone feels like they have to know something about it, something specialised, other than just being a human being, I think I need to work harder. I would be happy if my work gives someone some fun, or they like the tune or the words or it gets under their skin. A big reaction is exciting. Hating something is exciting and feelings are the most important things in the world, through just being mysterious things that rule our lives.” It’s one of the few occasions in the interview that Martin borders on the stern and solemn, and is clearly a source of immense pride and driving motivation to ensure that all of his work is open to any level of knowledge or interpretation. But that’s not the only thing that’s put him on edge, recently. “I was really nervous this week with the ofﬁcial release date,” he tells me. “I don’t know what to expect and I hope people will like it and I hope that I’ll like it as well. I’m always anxious when I do things that I’ve got to live with for the rest of my life. There’s a source of anxiety with everything I put out, but I think it’s been especially true of this album, with these songs, because it’s been so difﬁcult to ﬁnish. “I was trying not to read any reviews but then someone said have you seen this review, and it was your review, and I read that and crumbled and read all of them.There’s been some nice reviews.” For a man who’s spent most of life putting his thoughts, feelings and ideas on public display, it’s endearing to know that even now there’s a healthy, human trepidation of wearing your heart on your sleeve, in any form. And armed with eighteen energised snapshots of what’s proved to be a difﬁcult musical journey, Martin Creed is ensuring that while there’s likely to be no let-up of such struggle with his second album, it won’t be anything other than an open invitation to feel. After all, if you try to deconstruct your feelings too much, what’s the point of it? “There’s other songs from the past that never went further but there’s actually nearly an album now. I’ve just been recording the next album and there are quite a lot of songs, but like I said, it’s unhealthy and I need to try and release this stuff and let go of it. I’ve been doing it over the years through gigs and little releases but I just wanted to put the mixed up stuff on this album. “I wouldn’t call it therapeutic; to me it would be more a comfort thing, like strumming those nice chords on a guitar.That’s safe and comfortable but I think when work’s good it’s exciting and like hurting yourself. So you can feel something.”
rizzly Bear have been plodding round Europe for days now, from hotel room to airport to private members' club, the latter being the type of venue they ﬁnd themselves in today, answering questions and posing for photos for an unending procession of scribblers and snappers. Despite the band's indie credentials, it looks like we've got an A-list press junket on our hands. A trip with no sightseeing. A bandwagon with no groupies. A tour with no gigs. They're here to talk about their fourth album 'Shields', due for release on Warp in September. Since they ﬁnished touring the hugely acclaimed 'Veckatimest', two of the band have spent time on solo projects – Daniel Rossen with his gorgeously understated, Grizzly Bearish 'Silent Hour/Golden Mile' EP, and Chris Taylor with the less Grizzly Bear-ish 'Dreams Come True', a set of starker electronic songs recorded under the name CANT. Meanwhile, de facto frontman Ed Droste got married and drummer Christopher Bear – well, who knows what drummers do with their time off? The band heralded their reunion as a four-piece and the completion of the new album by posting the ﬁrst single online at the start of June. Named after a mountain said to be shaped like a slumbering warrior, 'Sleeping Ute' wrestles with a natural mystery, with the ghosts of the American wilderness, the magic of a waking dream. Rossen wrote the song, but the sleeping slopes of Ute are just a dream to him, too. “Actually, I've never been there,” he admits. “It's in Colorado. I was reading a lot about old road systems in the Southwest area, I was looking on a map at the northern end of one of the roads from a canyon in Mexico and I was just interested in the creation myth around it. I used it as a jumping-off point for writing a more personal song, for something like a restless wandering dream, almost like a nightmare. Trying to wake yourself out of something crazy.” 'Colorado' is also a song from the band's second album, 'Yellow House', a mantra of few words ﬂoating in a whirpool of crashing pianos and cymbals. “It's actually totally unrelated,” laughs Droste. “I lived in Colorado at the age of 12 and that's why I named that song 'Colorado'. Totally unrelated to 'Sleeping Ute', but I'd like to check it out now.” Looking back at the band's output so far, the wilder side of America's history seems to be a recurring fascination, from songs like 'Campﬁre' and 'Colorado' to their own ursine name and the very shirts on their back – plaid lumberjack wear, built for outdoor work. Their music is richly acoustic, warm, enveloping and organic, and they've always chosen to record in remote towns or old churches. But in actual fact, Grizzly Bear are four city boys – Rossen from Los Angeles, Bear from Brooklyn, Droste from Cambridge, Massachusetts – and though Taylor protests that he “doesn't really come from a city,” he does hail from the suburbs of a pretty major one: Seattle. Even the moniker Grizzly Bear is misleading – it's actually a nickname for one of Droste's old boyfriends. So why the interest in the great outdoors? “We've spent a lot of time as a foursome either rehearsing or writing and going on various isolated retreats,” says Droste, “which I think has been very fun and useful in the past for getting the creative juices ﬂowing and clearing your mind from the city. Personally speaking, I ﬁnd New York a bit distracting. I know some people have a much easier time working in it, but for me I've got too many people distracting me that are unrelated to music – it's hard for me to get into the right zone.” Rossen adds: “I think to one degree or another – I
don't think it's collectively the band or anything – but I kind of feel like growing up in a city there's also a romance to getting away from it, which I feel has made its way into some of our music.” “It's a big part of our process though, for sure, especially getting into a quiet, idyllic setting,” adds Taylor. “It's part of the way we've always worked.” The band's ﬁrst album, 'Horn of Plenty', was homerecorded by Droste with unsurprisingly lo-ﬁ results. Rossen joined just in time for the band's ﬁrst big tour and then lent his songwriting skills to follow-up 'Yellow House', recorded at Droste's mother's house in Cape Cod. Returning there to write the third album, they ended up naming it 'Veckatimest' after an uninhabited Native American island nearby.This time, keen to repeat the trick, the band decamped to remote Marfa, Texas (population: 1,981). “We'd been through there on tour a couple of times on days off 'cos it's a really unique place in the U.S.,” says Rossen. “It's really strange, there's nothing like it anywhere in Texas, for sure. It's a really tiny little town but it's an arts community founded by Dan Flavin and various artists in the ’70s.” “I think it was just kinda like, let's go somewhere sunny,” adds Droste. “'Cos in the past it was always…” “It was always shrouded somewhere in the Northeast and it was like cold and autumnal, and that was always part of the previous records,” continues Rossen. “So we were like, let's just go somewhere really bright, sunny and hot, it'll be really different from what we normally do. But of course we went there in the middle of June during record droughts and wildﬁres.” “Yeah, like crazy wildﬁres, like, we don't know if the town's going to burn down!” says Droste. “It was 105 degrees every day and we could barely muster the energy to play a note during the sunny hours.” On top of the intense heat and ﬁre scares, the local fauna also dropped in on the sessions. “I stepped on a scorpion setting up a microphone, that was interesting,” deadpans Taylor.“Dan was the only one in the room with me. I felt this sting and it kept hurting and kept hurting, and I looked down and saw this little scorpion sauntering away and I ﬂipped, like, ‘oh my god, this is when I start to die’.And I immediately got on the Internet and was looking up scorpions.” That's the ﬁrst thing to do in an emergency, obviously. “And I was doing a headstand to try and get the poison out of my feet, which was probably a retarded idea.” “Yeah, you're actually bringing it closer to your head,” laughs Droste. “Or, like, other major organs, but it was ﬁne.” In the end, the sessions proved unfruitful. “That was a year ago and we had a bit of a premature start to it. We were getting reacquainted with one another,” says Ed. “So we did that and then we went to
“I STEPPED ON A SCORPION SETTING UP A MICROPHONE. I FLIPPED, LIKE, ‘OH MY GOD, THIS IS WHEN I START TO DIE’”
Cape Cod and recorded it there, and then ﬁnished it in New York. So we did actually do some stuff in the city.” They've described the album as their most verbose yet.“It wasn't really a conscious decision, but a lot of the writing happened in an emotionally charged period, personally speaking, and I guess there was a slight feeling that I didn't really want to get too comfortable in my past styles,” says Droste,“really long tones, repeating one line over and over like a mantra. I thought it might be really challenging and cool to work on the craft of lyrics, and then ask people to come in and cut it up and work on it.” They're also proud of the artwork they've chosen for ‘Shields’, a spade and a club painted in sober shades of grey and teal. “It's by this mid-century artist called Richard Diebenkorn, He has this series of images based on spades and clubs,” Droste divulges. “The image just jumped out to all four of us and the series was really compelling and showed a sort of strength – an iconic image.And we were looking into meanings behind the imagery.” He hesitates brieﬂy. “Tarot stuff.”There are a few awkward laughs. “We had a few days of extreme hippy talks about the suit of swords and tarot,” offers Rossen. So, should we expect some occult themes on the record? “No! That's why we're trying to play it down,” laughs Droste. “But the image is really great, and we just felt like it suited the album and the feeling and energy.” A few UK dates are lined up for this coming month, but the real slog starts in September with a relentless 38date world tour.“It's super intense this time,” says Taylor. “At the end of the European tour there's three days off in Amsterdam and then we ﬂy to Australia and do that, it's pretty nuts. But I like playing shows a lot, I like travelling around.” “You start to miss it after a while,” says Ed. “It's not the soundchecking and waiting around in venues, but the performing and connecting with the audience is always a really gratifying experience.” Rossen agrees: “I think it's been long enough now that we've blacked out most of the negative aspects of touring.” A few years ago, the band found themselves in at the deep end supporting Radiohead on tour, taking what was once an intimate bedroom project to 20,000capacity stadiums. Has it been a comfortable transition? Bear, the quietest of the four, offers his thoughts. “I think you just enjoy the moment you're in, and luckily everything has just felt like a gradual growth for us, so we're able to appreciate it in an honest way. It's not this sudden shift in things. So I think we take it as it comes, and I don't know that were ever going to get to the level where we're doing [stadiums], but I think we enjoy the moment.” There's a gruesome documentary of Radiohead's 1997 tour called Meeting People is Easy, a portrait of a band imploding from neurosis, anxiety and cabin fever, locked away in hotel suites for days on end answering inane questions from reporters. Maybe they should take it as a warning? “[Thom Yorke] was really upset in that,” says Taylor. “He was super pissed. No one is that pissed off.” He's right. Though it's late in the afternoon and the photographer is waiting, the band gamely push on, and only one of them has started drinking. “We just kinda bob and weave and try and do what we have to do as much as we can,” adds Taylor. “But we can keep a good attitude about it.”
AFTER THREE YEARS IN THE WILD, BROOKLYNâ€™S WILDERNESS BAND REIN IN ALBUM NUMBER FOUR
GROWING DOWN ARIEL PINK IS STILL HERE, HAPPILY REGRESSING IN MATURITY “Everybody gets involved with rock’n’roll when they’re so young that they’re bound to disgrace themselves at some point. I mean, if you don’t, then you really are a disgrace. It’s hard to do this with dignity for a long time. Even into your thirties it’s hard to do, but I’ve managed to disgrace myself from day one, so maybe I’ve got some lasting power.” At 34, Ariel Marcus Rosenberg has been making music a majority of his life.The tipping point came some time ago, considering he started writing songs around the age of 10. A young Los Angelinos who continues to wear La-La Land with staunch pride, Ariel “strongarmed” his mom into buying him a cassette boombox and readily dragged her to local store Music Plus, where he acquired Deaf Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’, UB40’s ‘Labour of Love’ and Guns’n’Roses’ ‘Appetite for Destruction’. “From then I was sold,” he says. “I can’t remember not knowing my mum and it’s the same with music.”
In the some twenty-four years that have past, Ariel has followed a similar proliﬁc path to that of his outsider hero and mentor R. Stevie Moore, writing and recording an countless number of songs that, like Moore’s, have wildly swerved from the sublime to the ridiculous. He’s released just 8 ofﬁcial albums (a pittance from a man with over 500 arrangements to his name), with a ninth, ‘Mature Themes’, coming August 20th. It certainly features a little of the ridiculous itself (‘Weiner Schnitzel Boogie’ is not the stuff of arch profundity), yet it’s quite possibly Ariel Pink’s best record yet; better, even, than 2010’s ‘Before Today’, an album that dipped its toe in the mainstream to great acclaim, and one that Ariel himself considers “a big failed experiment.” Experimenting is what Ariel does, sincerely, these days with the help of his backing band, Haunted Grafﬁti. To praise him as some prince of lo-ﬁ pop is to dismiss him as that, discarding his philosophies and doing the
mechanics behind his music a disservice. It’s something I realise while talking with him over lunch. Beneath a freshly dyed hot pink do with a fringe cut too high, Ariel Pink is erudite and verbose. He’s shorter than I imagined, less stringy, slightly hunched and initially shy. He seems to enjoy answering questions, though, and once a plate of steak lands in front of us Ariel is the most conversational dining companion I could hope for. He speaks quickly and with a catching enthusiasm, the type of chat that would be deadly for a salesman. He regularly contradicts himself and freely admits that he’s that way inclined. He also seems constantly aware of his own age and the age of others. His new album is, after all, called ‘Mature Themes’. “Oh, that was just a joke,” he says, looking up from the table. “You take life so seriously when you’re older, and this record has a focus on humour and sex and food and not trying to take things too seriously in any kind of artistic sense. But it’s got all the veneer of something that’s mature.We have the ﬁrst single as ‘Baby’ [a dreamy, super slow cover of long lost sibling duo Donnie & Joe Emerson’s original], the album’s called ‘Mature Themes’, there’s this very artful picture on the cover and everyone’s getting ready for the new mature phase of Ariel Pink and the ﬁrst thing you get is ‘Kinsky assassin blew a hole in my chest/Sea worthy vessel for the sperm-headed brain/ mother twin genesis went down with the plane’ – y’know, just the ridiculousness of it!” With such absurd lyrics engulﬁng the album’s opening three minutes, it’s little wonder that Ariel refutes the idea that his ninth album is his ‘growing up record’. “It’s my growing down record,” he says proudly. “It’s the product of a 34-year-old musician who’s still somehow relevant to 17-year-olds. It’s not adult, it’s a joke.” Yet ‘Kinsky Assassin’ is ‘Mature Themes’’s strange masterpiece, where the trippy organ of The Doors, the head cold purr of Julian Casablancas, radio jingle melodies and nonsense ramblings all meet to make something fantastic and easily listenable. At one point Ariel seems to be holding his breath as he croaks ‘Who sank my battleship?/I sank my battleship’. “I’ve always been interested in the dark side of things and I’ve seen culture absorb these things,” he continues. “There’s an over emotionality in music nowadays – a seriousness and intensity that I believe I had a part in offering up, in the real, brutal dark side. We all like that – when we hear a really deep record, like ‘What’s Going On’, or something like that.Those are things that got me
through high school. But people are bastardising that. They took my dark notion and took it too seriously – it’s too melodic out there; we have these references to ‘pop music’, but it’s not pop music. Rhianna is pop, or whatever, but now it mean ’80s synth pop with Beach Boys harmonies. Even the writers write about it as if it’s pop. “I’m experimental. I’m making some sort of commentary. The joke is on them. I guess it’s pomo, for lack of a better term – you don’t know where the joke starts and where it begins.” Album track ‘Only In My Dreams’ seems to quash Ariel’s ‘pop’ theory ﬂat, though.The Las,The Shins,The Beach Boys – they all wobble their heads through this golden guitar song. Ariel can surely see the pop in it, even if it doesn’t sound like Rhianna. “That’s where you can’t draw the line,” he says. “It’s experimental because it’s taking all of that stuff into consideration. As long and you don’t think it’s pop.” But I do, I tell him. How couldn’t you of a contemporary song so well crafted, melodic and universally sweet? Ariel pauses for a second. “I like the idea that there’s a certain question in the air about whether I’m going to sell out or not,” he says.“That to me is hilarious, because it completely undoes what I’ve been trying to do, in a sense. I mean, the fact that I could sell out, or even have the capacity to sell out, is constantly a funny thing to me. Of course, that’s my megalomania thinking that everyone is thinking about me. But I would love to sell out, that would be great. Of course, it’s not like I’m selling out in any real sense, because my bank account can vouch for that. I don’t take myself very seriously.” I ask if Ariel thinks that rock’n’roll does these days – take itself too seriously. “It’s for kids,” he says. “It’s made by 20-year-olds, and people in their 20s take themselves way too seriously, and they’re preaching to 17-year-olds who then learn to take themselves too seriously. “I obviously take myself way too seriously,” he adds. “It’s a contradiction. I mean, I’ve had an extended adolescence and I’ve had the privilege to take my adolescence into adulthood a lot longer than most people do. It’s a wonderful gift that’s been given to me. However, do I believe in the same things I did when I started? No. But at the same time there’s no other way to be in this world than living by your priorities and what you believe in.”
riel currently lives where he always has, in the city of Los Angeles. That in itself isn’t too unique, but his unwavering love for the city is. I’m sure plenty of residents must live and die quite happily underneath the Hollywood Hills, but people in bands seem to be forever damning the place. Musicians of LA are bona ﬁde in a world of hokey bullshit, wannabe waitresses and unattainable ideals, but that’s not how Ariel sees it. He says:“My music has been a collaboration between my environment and my personality. It was a perfect marriage in a certain sense – a feedback loop that created who I am.” After wearing out his Deaf Leppard tapes, Ariel became most fascinated with Metallica, “looking at the album covers and thinking,‘oh, this is serious stuff ’,” but he’s always been under the spell of showbiz. “Being down the block from Whiskey-a-Go-Go and Paramount Studios from an early age, it made it almost inevitable that I’d be how I am,” he says. “A key part of that is the dismantling of those illusions. People come to LA thinking they have no illusions about it and then they get disappointed when their fantasy construct has been dismantled. They don’t admit it or even see it that way, but I think LA has a repulsive quality to it, because I always wondered why it wasn’t the centre of the world. It was to me, but I was confused to see how it wasn’t to anybody else. It confuses me even more now because I go around and see that the same things are broadcast everywhere – everyone around the world seems to know LA, so why isn’t everyone there? It makes sense, because it’s a repulsive place to people who go there. When I ask Ariel what he – a hip, independent musician so ingrained within the realist of real world of DIY culture – makes of Hollywood’s other side (the movies and the glamour) he pointedly replies, “I love it, of course,” as if any other response would be completely unthinkable. “People shun it because they have ‘humble roots’,” he continues, air-quoting ‘humble’ and rolling his eyes on ‘roots’, “so they don’t want to see themselves as being a manufactured product or a fake product – they see themselves as being real.That’s part of being young, isn’t it, having a fantasy about being real? Those are all constructs. We’re no more real because we’re battered into thinking that we have to get realistic with our lives. We take ofﬁce jobs because we’re giant kids who’ve been disciplined into thinking it’s the right thing to do. I’ve been disciplined into thinking it’s the wrong thing to do.”
“THE LAST RECORD WAS A BIG EXPERIMENT. A BIG FAILED EXPERIMENT, IN MY EYES”
n 2010, after eight years of underground notoriety, Ariel Pink, for many, arrived. He’d already released seven albums of groggy, lo-ﬁ psychedelia, but a substandard live show saw his inquisitive audience lose interest and wane in front of him. “I didn’t know what to do, and I pretty much screwed up in that realm,” he admits. “I didn’t have the standard, I just went on the road with a bunch of friends ready to plug into a stereo. Nobody knew how to play the songs and we managed to alienate all of our audience. People liked the record but not the shows, because we lifted the veil. They where curious enough to get to the show, but we weren’t recreating the record faithfully. I could see my audience dwindling over the years because I also saw it as a necessary evil to play, so my attitude was very alienating to people – I was pissed off and like them, like, ‘this sounds like shit!’.” With a not-so-merry band in tow, Ariel and friends were attempting to learn and play one-take songs that he’d written before he’d even signed his ﬁrst record deal in 2002.What’s more, they were trying to stay so true to the on-the-ﬂy nature of the creative process, they were keeping in the mistakes that made those early bedroom recordings. No wonder it sounded like shit. “About three years in I started over,” says Ariel,“because I realised if I wanted to do this and be in the music world I needed
to learn to enjoy playing live and start taking it seriously.” By 2010, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafﬁti had reined in their live show enough to land a record deal with indie giant 4AD, who in June of that year released ‘Before Today’. It ﬁnally put Ariel Pink on the indie map, recorded in a proper studio, carrying accessible nods to AM radio pop and cruise ship lounge, and helped along the way by a Pitchfork love-in. It remained a record of old material, though, just recorded properly for the ﬁrst time, not quite hi-ﬁ, but of a standard that most people could digest and few could point the sell out ﬁnger at. Ariel rejects that it’s a good record and welcomes any sell out jibe equally. “The last record was a big experiment,” he says,“a big failed experiment, in my eyes.The fact that it did so well proves to me that it wasn’t a good record, but I’m proud of everything I do, because I have to be. I don’t put that much stock in that stuff, though, because I feel like every year we’re in the sweepstakes and then we managed to buy ourselves another year of validity, like, ‘oh wow, we’re still relevant’. I thought I was over the hill and out of fashion years ago, and I expect that to be the case any second. Maybe that expectation is what keeps me there a little bit longer, because other people believe their own bullshit and get easily wrapped up. Like, Twin
Shadow, 4/10,” he says, pointing at last month’s Loud And Quiet score, “that’s somebody who’s believed his hype from his ﬁrst record. But whenever you get good press, that’s what they’ll use to chop the next one down, so it’s bad news when you get a 9.0 on Pitchfork [as ‘Before Today’ did].The next one is going to be 7.5, and I’m expecting that.” Ariel says that, in view of popularity, he sees ‘Mature Themes’ as “a sophomore effort, if ‘Before Today’ is the ﬁrst.” “But I don’t see ‘Before Today’ as being a ﬁrst of anything in the kind of world that I want to be in,” he notes, “so this is a ﬁrst in this world I want to be in.” It’s a belief that he has carried with him his whole career, and perhaps it’s the key to his longevity – a rip-itup-and-start-again ethos that saves his sanity and can be applied within any one album as easily as it can between them. On ‘Mature Themes’, he seems reluctant to revisit any musical or lyrical idea twice, buddying up the voodoo rumble of ‘Early Birds of Babylon’ and postcard club croon of ‘Symphony of The Nymph’ with the washed out, catatonic ‘Nostradamus & Me’ (vintage Ariel) and robo freakout ‘Is This The Best Spot’. We’re given the effortlessly pleasing ‘Only In My Dreams’ one minute, and ‘Weiner Schnitzel Boogie’ the next – a track through which a sludgy Pink speaks little more than the line “I
“IF I CAN SELL OUT, I WANT TO. I WANT TO HAVE AS MUCH SUCCESS AS POSSIBLE. I WANT TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD”
need schnitzel”, or perhaps it’s “a meat schnitzel”. “Every single part of the process is a process of killing off what is Ariel Pink,” he explains. “Like, all my early records were the process of me not sounding like me as much as possible, and in the process of that I managed to expand the deﬁnition of what me was, and so ‘Schnitzel’ somehow can exist on the same record as ‘Only In My Dreams’, if only because I’ve tried to not make them ﬁt. But that’s just to do with unconscious processes, like the wind and nature and all that kind of stuff.” Occasionally Ariel trails off like that, ending what is clearly a passionate, well-considered notion with a ﬂippant sign off. I guess it’s the contradictory side of him, or perhaps the insecurity of a modern rock’n’roller. “I’m all about new beginnings,” he continues, slicing another chunk of steak, “and I tend to disregard everything I’ve done prior. I have what people see as a pessimistic outlook on life, which is really a misreading of it, where I conceive of the worst possible scenario and then when it isn’t that I’m very thankful and grateful. I think of everything as a piece of shit, and as soon as I don’t feel that I think it’s when I start pandering to the bullshit.” Amongst Ariel’s slew of discarded woozy works is ‘The Doldrums’, his second ofﬁcial album, and the collection of songs that got him on Paw Tracks as the ﬁrst artist that wasn’t the label’s bosses,Animal Collective. “But that’s just prehistoric,” he says now. “I don’t have any relationship to that anymore, although I can deﬁnitely respect the cornels of my own development in that. I really did see it as an experimental scourge on the planet in a very prophetic sense, and that anybody else would see it as such is deﬁnitely poetic justice, but it is a scourge because it’s a terrible record; terrible music. It’s anti-progress; it doesn’t have any historical place and that’s the irony – ‘The Doldrums’ coming out in an era where Christina Aguilera is ﬁghting for space with it in a record store. To me, that is hilarious. And I wanted to alienate Pavement fans as much as Christina Aguilera fans – I wanted to alienate everyone with that.The irony is that you have echoes of ‘The Doldrums’ in even Chris Brown and stuff like Rhianna.” For better or worse, Ariel loves all of his children. Or at least respects them. He refers to his pre-‘Before Today’ records as Where’s Waldo, “jumping up and down in the air shouting, ‘hey, I’m over here, I’m over here!” “It was really desperate songwriting and I was really making a lot of noise without caring about the results,” he says. “And then I got a little bit of recognition – like, the littlest bit – and that was enough for me to be like, ‘oh, what do I do now?’. Did I have the same drive to do it? No, not really.” And what about now? What drives Ariel Pink, the blogger’s delight? “Y’know, I broke up with my girlfriend,” he says in a sombre tone.“That was a big drive to selling out, because
I wanted to start a family and stuff, and boy was I wrong about that. My drive now is just to enjoy what you have while you have it, because it’s not going to last. Let’s see if people like this record, which I personally don’t think they will, because it’s closer to the older stuff, and it’s a good record, and good records aren’t appreciated.” More than once Ariel brings up the fact that all of this could end tomorrow. He respects all of his own failed experiments, but he respects the frivolous nature of the music business more.“I’m stoked that I’m here for another year,” he says, “and I’m happy that this record is a great place to end things, if it is the end.” He repeatedly returns to the idea of selling out, too, as if any progression from his uncompromising, stringently DIY early songs needs to be defended somehow. “I’m not necessarily true to my art,” he confesses. “I’m true to life, in that I’m a realist. I want to exist in the world, and obviously just making music and staying pure is not a recipe for success… obviously. Some people have been more pure than I will ever be and they’ve failed, and almost being an artist ensures that you fail, based on the deﬁnitions we give it. I don’t want to be that either. If I can sell out, I want to. I want to have as much success as possible. I want to take over the world.” Ariel’s done the maths and worked out that .07% of the population is currently aware of him and his music, “so we’ve got plenty of people to reach out to”. I propose that he surely has it in him to sell out if he wants to, and that ‘Weiner Schnitzel Boogie’ is not the way to do it.‘Only In My Dreams’ and ‘Mature Themes’’s almost as sweet title track probably is, though. If nothing else, Ariel Pink’s extended adolescence as a musician has given him an uncanny knack for creating a nagging melody – even the oddest bits of his new record are more quotable than most tracks you’ll currently hear on the radio. “But I have principals and priorities in my life that supersede everything that I do in my life,” he argues.“It’s easy to see that humanity has lost its way. Part of me wants to save it, part of me wants to dismantle whatever humanity has gotten us here. We have to redeﬁne priorities and all that kind of stuff, so if I want to be part of that I’ve got to be true to myself. “Right now we’re a race divided – our biggest threat is other humans and our only hope is other humans, so we don’t know what to do. We are in competition together but we’re no good on our own, and we never have been.”
mattress. There is actually a patented Ariel Pink groove. There’s a musical expression that goes un-talked about. It’s sort of beyond words because it’s an essence that can’t be grasped.You can’t follow the recipe,” he warns. Kids do look to Ariel for inspiration, though, just as he did/does to R. Stevie Moore. And so they should. Ariel as a DIY poster boy is no more unfounded than Cobain as a grunge god or Morrison as a spiritual guide. His name is dropped into lo-ﬁ conversation partly because he’s still here after more than a decade, but that in itself is an accomplishment that shouldn’t go unnoticed. And then there’s what’s fuelled Ariel through hundreds of recordings and just as many shitty live shows – an unquenchable need to experiment and a charmed naivety that comes with prolonged adolescence. “I intended to fail,” he tells me. “I wanted to succeed in isolation but I wanted to fail as the rest of the world was concerned, because that would be conﬁrmation of all the pure things that I ever appreciated in my life – all the best rock’n’rollers were unknown; all the best music was made by people who died completely unknown; all things that affected me were not things that succeeded. If they did succeed they lost that cornel of magic that I’m always looking for.” Ariel Pink has succeeded, though, and for now, at least, his cornel of surreal, silly, melodic, contradictory, quite brilliant magic remains. And so I ask him what advice he – “a 34-year-old musician who’s still somehow relevant to 17-year-olds” – can offer the kids? “That’s a good question,” he nods, “but I don’t know yet. I’m dumber now than I was back then. I’ve got more doubts. I was the most conﬁdent in my vision before I picked up a guitar. I felt like I had already made all of these records. The way I went around when I was 18 was semi delusional, and yet I somehow managed to achieve those things, like magic. And the more that I learned how to navigate these landscapes the more I’ve learned how incapable I am of executing anything. And you start to think,‘oh, but it was my total ignorance that got me here’.”
horter, less stringy, slightly hunched and initially shy, Ariel also cuts a ﬁne likeness to Kurt Cobain, snipped from the same outsider cloth. Unlike Cobain, he’s a realist, who, having grown up in fame-hungry Tinsel Town, is well aware of the nature of the beast, and willing to court it when it comes. But like Cobain,Ariel has become a shortcut to a world, whether he likes it or not. Mention home recordings and ‘lo-ﬁ’ and it’ll take approximately ﬁve seconds for someone to bring up Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafﬁti. “I deﬁnitely want to dispel that,” he says, “because contrary to what people believe, there’s more to Ariel Pink than the sound of something recorded under a
LOUD AND QUIET ALBUMS LIVE FILM REVIEWS
AL BUMS 05/10
Anthony & The Johnsons Cut The World (Rough Trade) By Sam Walton. In stores Aug 6
Bloc Party Four (French Kiss) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores Aug 20
Us indie fans have had a tempestuous relationship with Bloc Party. Once a thinking man’s Franz Ferdinand, there remains a generation that will die by ‘Silent Alarm’ – a debut album as continually fresh as ‘Is This It’, and inﬁnitely smarter.The bloated, socially grumpy ‘A Weekend In The City’ couldn’t change that, but when the band rush released ‘Intimacy’ in 2008, having dropped the guitars and picked up synthesisers, there was a sense that most of those who fell for the Gang of Four pop of ‘Banquet’ hadn’t signed up for this.With reports being that – Kele Okereke aside – the band didn’t even like the record, Bloc Party’s announced hiatus was, for many, a welcomed, kind bullet for the old horse. And yet, the openly bookish four-piece have only ever done what we ask of all our pop stars – they’ve tried to not make the same album twice.They’ve certainly not made ‘Four’ before, even if they have reverted back to stringed things and left well alone the buttons that made their last. Most glaringly obvious is how heavy it is. The opening ‘So He Begins To Lie’ errs more on the side of Future Of The Left’s sociopathic,
clumpy menace, but it soon makes way for ‘3x3’, on which Kele operatically wails between camp metal whispers more suited to Lordi or Marilyn Manson. ‘Coliseum’ descends into thrash too, after a red herring alt. country intro that’s complete with slide guitar, and the closing ‘We Are Not Good People’ is no less the stuff of early grunge enthusiasts who’ve recently discovered The Mars Volta. Perhaps it’s because we know what a sensitive bunch they really are, but it all feels like teenage dress-up rather than genuine anxiety, which is precisely why ‘Kettling’ (the kind of commercial hard rock pop Lostprophets make) will hold the American Youth fort until My Chemical Romance return. All of ‘Four’ is ripe for the US market, in fact, from the jittering ‘Team A’ for fans of The Rapture (understandably the most ‘Bloc Party’ sounding track here) to the ’80s pop swoon of the Fleetwood Mac-ish ‘The Healing’. Throw in a couple more slow songs that do very little, and ‘V.A.L.I.S’, which features a couplet from These New Puritans’ ‘En Papier’, and it all sounds rather disconcerting and disjointed, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. But while ‘Four’’s individual parts jar beyond the point of a well executed album, its many ideas keep Bloc Party true to their creative ideal, and that, at least, is very admirable indeed.
After four albums, it goes without saying that Antony & the Johnsons’ latest record is intense, confessional, lush and frequently bizarre, but even by Antony Hegarty’s idiosyncratic standards, ‘Cut The World’ is a curious affair. A live album, performed in Copenhagen with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, the second “track” is in fact a rambling eight-minute speech entitled ‘Future Feminism’, which rather sets the tone for the performance to come. In it, Hegarty reveals he’s “been thinking all day about the moon”, from which he then freeassociates to treatises on menstruation in nature (good), sky gods (better), patriarchal monarchy (not so good) and the Pope (pretty evil), and concludes, “unless we move into feminist systems of governance, we don’t stand a chance”. Like the rest of the album it’s stodgy stuff, delivered with a combination of unapologetic seriousness and the kind of conviction that only arises from not caring if people think you’re off your rocker, and the success of ‘Cut The World’ boils down to how much one is willing to indulge Hegarty’s unique outlook. At its most bewitching, Hegarty’s treacly voice melts into the orchestral backing to make a truly compelling cauldron of melodrama and torch song, and while ‘Fell In Love With A Dead Boy’ is hardly a song for all occasions, such gory blood-letting rarely sounded so exquisite. Elsewhere, though, the spell is broken by overly ﬂoral arrangements (the unintentionally comic ‘Kiss My Name’) and his earlier bashing of Christian patriarchy makes a passionately sung Lord’s Prayer in ‘The Rapture’ sound rather callow. But this isn’t just showing off – Hegarty’s eagerness to convert an audience to his world view is palpable. The trouble is that only about half of it holds any appeal.
R. Stevie Moore
I Was A Cat From A Book
Life Is People
The Invitation To The Voyage (Domino)
Lo Fi High Fives: A Kind of Best Of
By Melanie McGovern. In stores July 30
By Chris Watkeys. In stores Aug 20
The Fife songsmith’s ﬁrst recording in three years ﬁnds him amid stunning arrangements performed alongside members of Lamb and The Cinematic Orchestra. Recorded just shy of a week in wintry Wales, the instrumentation is vast, melding tentative strings and swelling crescendos with horns and woodwind. From piano and ﬁddle on opener ‘Catch’ to the incandescent ‘A Short Blues’, Yorkston ﬁnds himself vocally at ease in each track, with ‘The Fire and the Flame’ being the album’s most withdrawn moment that soon makes way for the quick-ﬁre narratives expounded against the ramshackle arrangements of ‘Border Song’ and ‘I Can Take All This’. In terms of style it feels a little bit thrown together in places, jumping back and forth as it does in tempo and density of sound, but it’s a stand alone criticism, and a minor one that is easily overlooked in songs of such quality.
It’s not often you’ll hear a new album from an artist whose last release was over forty years ago, but so it is with Bill Fay, a singersongwriter last commercially active in the early seventies.The back story to ‘Life Is People’ is too long to recount here, but sufﬁce to say this record makes you wonder how such a talent remained untapped and (for the most part) unrecognised for so long. Rich in quality, awash with piano and strings, this record is warm and heartfelt. It’s music for a Sunday evening, glass of red wine in hand; mostly slow-paced and occasionally soporiﬁc, it’s also poignant, uplifting and beautiful in its simplicity, drawing to mind a luxurious combination of Richard Hawley with Nick Cave and Bruce Springsteen’s more reﬂective moments. He might still not get it, but Bill Fay is deserving of a much wider audience.
By Sam Walton. In stores Aug 6
With his second album, Eugene McGuinness is starting to bloom as one of British pop’s most likeable oddball showmen.Where his early recordings’ bullishness felt slightly thin, the songs on ‘The Invitation...’ are meaty, resolute and compelling, largely thanks to a conﬁdence in their own peculiarness.‘Harlequinade’ sizzles with svelte ’80s style, all neat brass and polished disco homage, the Peter Gunn-sampling ‘Shotgun’ and lead single ‘Lion’ both swagger with an infectious rockabilly strut, and the title track is a charming ballad made deliciously curious with several unexpected musical left turns. Producer Dan Carey sprinkles his now trademark 80s-pop glitter over the record’s all-too-brief ten tracks, and although the album suffers from a lack of shape (play it on shufﬂe and you won’t notice), McGuinness has enough personality to carry that off as consistency.
(Hyperdub) By Matthias Scherer. In stores now
UK garage punters have been playing Cooly G’s crisp Hyperdub singles for a couple of years now, and the DJ, producer and label owner is currently expanding her reach. Her debut album is smoother and slightly more vocalled than the aforementioned earlier material, but the singing is coated in lo-ﬁ echo, allowing only for single words and lines to be made out. “He won’t be thinking about you,” Cooly G whispers at the end of the trip-hop lament of ‘He Said I Said’, and ‘Come Into My Room’ is an exercise in seduction, soundtracked by blissful keys and piano lines.There’s a slew of garage and house-inspired instrumentals to switch things up; ‘It’s Serious’, with its juttering snare rolls and internal shifts being the prime example.The decision to focus on rhythm rather than bass was the right one, although we could’ve done without the Coldplay cover.
(O Genesis) By Chal Ravens. In stores Aug 6
This frizz-bearded, pot-bellied 60year-old is having his long overdue moment in the spotlight. The unlikely creator of over 400 albums of DIY songcraft, R. Stevie Moore is Gandalf the White to Ariel Pink’s faithful Bilbo, the original purveyor of retrolicious AM radio power-pop, blending the harmonic lushness of the Beach Boys with the acerbic weirdness of Talking Heads and the barminess of The Flaming Lips. If it wasn’t for his outwardly oddball demeanour, with the ﬂip-up shades and splendid lyrics (“Aren’t we after all better actors than Marlon Brando? Showbiz is obsolete”), he would’ve been up there with those songwriting greats, or at least hollering from the sidelines with Van Dyke Parks. Massively recommended, along with his website, another lo-ﬁ trove of obscurities.
Gatekeeper Exo (Hippos In Tanks) By Chal Ravens. In stores now
Gatekeeper’s terrifying ‘Giza’ EP from two years back instigated a revival of John Carpenter-esque horror soundtracks, but now the Chicago production duo have binned the lightning strikes and campy synths for a bewildering onslaught of ’90s sounds, from acidfried techno to Spiral Tribe rave fantasies, to the queasy digital dystopia of James Ferraro’s ‘Far Side Virtual’. And weirder: a ‘ﬁrst-person gaming environment’ has been designed as an add-on, which you can explore like those old CD-ROM adventure games. If that sounds too sickly to be palatable, bear in mind that Ferraro is perhaps one of Gatekeeper’s closest contemporaries – both produce a kind of conceptual meta-music, at once dated and futuristic, with something very real and very terrible to say about the digitally-enhanced, high-deﬁnition, hyperreal world we live in. Perhaps not an album to come back to regularly, but an essential listen for anyone interested in the not-so-danceable corners of dance music.
AL BUMS 07/10
Raw Sawage Roq
And The Unicorn
The Palace Garden
(In The Red)
By Reef Younis. In stores Aug 20
By Nathan Westley. In stores July 23
By Luke Winkie. In stores Aug 13
By Matthias Scherer. In stores Aug 13
By ReefYounis. In stores Aug 6
Take a remote village in deepest, darkest Sweden, add a few centuries of Voodoo, witch doctors, ciphers and ancient scriptures, and you’ve got the makings of a story so elaborately grandiose it would test Noel Fielding’s reality meter. Instead, it’s the grandiose, fairy-tale backdrop to Goat’s debut album. A psychedelic, celestial maze of genre, rhythm, instrumentation and style, ‘World Music’ determinedly lives up to its billing. At a relatively short run of nine tracks, it shoehorns enough Afro groove, warped psych, post-punk, astral folk and skewed Kraut-rock to last a lifetime – presumably in multiple realms of your choosing. From the theatrical, medieval battle scene setter of ‘Det Som Aldrig Forandras/Diarabi’, to the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ meets Bollywood of ‘Run to Your Mama’ and the prog drench of ‘Goathead’, although Goat can’t prove their embellished origins, they’ve had a damn good go.
Given that Timmy’s Organism is the solo project of Clone Defects and Human Eye frontman Timmy Vulgar, you might think that here we’d ﬁnd this underground hardcore punk’s slightly more adventurous and self indulgent side.We don’t. Beginning with a howling burst of feedback, this is an album that rapidly descends into a cringeworthy plod through history’s much digested back pages. While ‘Cats On The Moon’ boasts fuzzed-up riffs of The Stooges, it – and what follows – is for the main nothing more than a nonrevolutionary lazy strut through clichéd ideas ripped straight from garage rocks now tired heart. While some creep past like RFTC without a spark of ingenuity, others, such as the laddishly named ‘Bouncing Boobies’, offer nothing more then a second rate Alice Cooper without the entertaining theatrics.
A solid eight years after the ‘Dennehy’ novelty jam, kicking it with the Anticon cats feels like it’s paying off for Serengeti. At the very least you don’t see him kicked around like a backpacker nerd. Last year’s ‘Family & Friends’ did dark, personal storytelling from a cast of beautifully damaged characters; this year’s ‘Kenny Dennis’ EP pushed Chicago sports-references and working-class rhymes to their logical extremes.There’s really not much to say about ‘C.A.R.’ if you’re keyed into Serengeti’s operandi. Beats are narrower but Yoni still guests, and the songs are all angled, pervasive narratives that always keep an eyebrow cocked – “Dandruff everywhere, kids got colds, dishes in the sink, places smells like mold,” he ﬂips like a method actor. At 29 minutes, it’s not a cornerstone, but you get the sense that ‘geti doesn’t work in terms of cornerstones anyway.
Disclaimer: Sue Denim used to be in Robots in Disguise (Wait! Stay with us!).The electroclash duo popped up in (shudder) The Mighty Boosh and produced a couple of infuriating semi-hits, but Denim’s solo material is not merely less irritating, but, in fact, very listenable indeed.The pulsating beats and shouty vocals have been canned in favour of more considered (read: acoustic) arrangements, which showcase Denim’s skills as a singer and writer of actual hooks, harmonies and wistful lyrics (“I heard you haven’t been out for a while, well that’s a bummer/if you need to smile, I could give you my number”). She must have spent some serious time with songwriting stalwarts like John Cale et al, because songs like ‘For JT & Carson & Emli’ are so baggage-free they are almost skeletal, and yet carry an emotional heft that RiD never managed.
We thought we had Beat Connection made ﬁrst time round; a young duo, fresh-faced, making the kind of beach-bound, summer soundtrack to keep us warm over slightly bleaker months. Now, doubling in number (and ambition), their armoury of maracas, steel drums, pan pipes, xylophone and handclaps have ﬂourished on their ﬁrst LP. A dreamy distillation of debut album Vampire Weekend,Yeasayer weirdness and Toro Y Moi molliﬁcation, for all the imminently danceable pop jaunt, it’s the washing, wistful interludes of ‘Foreign Embassy’ and ‘New Criteria’, and the hot water bottle comfort of ‘En Route’ that makes this an album to bathe in. Unashamedly pop, ‘The Palace Garden’ weighs in a little on the indulgent but, nonetheless, it’s an endearing album that shows a band getting to grips with their own bigger picture.
Seams Tourist/Sleeper (Full Time Hobby) By Olly Parker. In stores July 30
This ‘double EP’, recorded by solo artist James Welch, has two distinct halves – the ﬁrst a ‘summer record’ made in Berlin; the other a ‘come down’ after returning home to Hampshire.The sounds and samples that make up ‘Tourist’ deﬁnitely recall brighter times. Its patchwork of ﬁeld recordings, looped instrumentation and some clever use of sampling are reminiscent of early records by Books and Lemonjelly, with a harder but still minimal pulse. Second ‘come down’ EP ‘Sleeper’ actually does more to recall the night before. Harder dance sounds drawing on a wellworn pallet of house and techno styles make the second half inﬁnitely less interesting than the ﬁrst. It’s harsh but apparently true that the clubs of Berlin have proved more inspirational than the ﬁelds of Hampshire and hopefully the success of this record will get Seams back wandering through his adopted home making and interpreting fresh sets of ﬁeld recordings once more. It’s where he’s at his best.
The Flaming Lips The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends (Bella Union) By Olly Parker. In stores Aug 30 Despite being a fan, I approached this record with caution. Did the need to make a collaborative ‘duets’ style album indicate that maybe Wayne Coyne had ﬁnally run out of ideas? After all, it did for Tony Bennett. As ever though, the rules that apply to mere mortals like Bennett, Barbara Streisand and Tom Jones fail to apply to the Lips.Yes, there’s plenty of weirdfor-the-sake-of-weirdness here, but then this a Flaming Lips record (featuring Yoko Ono) - what did you expect? It deﬁnitely works better as a collection rather than an album, too. I ﬁnd myself returning to certain tracks but skipping others and the best moments are where the collaborator brings something new to the table, but the song still sounds like the Flaming Lips. ‘Helping the Retarded Find God’ (featuring Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes) somehow packs six different pop songs into one glorious mass, but others, like ‘You, Man? Human???’ with Nick Cave, sound like they fancied playing in Grinderman for a while and are ultimately less effective.The standout moment is not difﬁcult to ascertain.The cover of Roberta Flack’s ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ with Erykah Badu is a mix of the band at their most epic and Erykah at her most dreamy; covering one of the best songs of all time, it was never going to disappoint.
Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen
(Mute) By Danny Canter. In stores Aug 20
(Captured Tracks) By Melanie McGovern. In stores Aug 13
Yeasayer’s last album – 2010’s ‘Odd Blood’ – was ruined for me when someone pointed out that it reminded them of Mica. It’s probably ruined for you too now, because there’s some truth in that. Album number three is momentarily as peppy as the band’s last (see ‘Blue Paper’), but happily darker and more paranoid on the whole, which is no mean feat when you consider how indebted to funk it is. Percussively, Yeasayer are still doing things that, with the exception of TV On The Radio, no other band are, meshing electronics and acoustic world instruments to make club music that can make you cry before you’ve taken any drugs. Lead single ‘Henrietta’ – a religiously joyous take on a sinister, real-life Fountain of Youth tale of cell research – may promise a level of human connection that sickly earnest closer ‘Glass of The Microscope’ spectacularly misses, but Yeasayer are back on track to ﬁnding the perfect balance between future pop fantasy and our troubled/beautiful real world.
Glistening with hazy summer nostalgia, South London’s Dignan Porch follow up the solo effort of debut ‘Tendrils’ by expanding from Joe Walsh’s solo moniker to a ﬁve-piece. It’s a ﬁrst of many: they’re the only UK band signed to Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks, and the ﬁrst with enough potential to release a second record. A surging energy powers through the fuzzy, guitar-led ‘Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen’, which was recorded, for the most part, live off the ﬂoor of a North London studio. Ambling vocals stitch the splashes of kaleidoscopic instrumentation together, remaining restrained and neatly orchestrated throughout.Walsh claims there’s a “short attention span” element at ‘Nothing Bad…’’s core, with songs that ﬂit from elevated moods to low ebbs near seamlessly. ‘Sixteen Hits’ has the fullest sound here, while ‘Pink Oil’ is a drowsy, ﬂoating melody peaked with the notes of a Casio PT-10. It’s their lo-ﬁ production that only serves to make this feel all the more effortless.
A L BUMS 07/10
Micachu & The Shapes Never (Rough Trade) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores July 23 Unless you happened to be in the market for some loﬁ, discordant avant pop in 2009, it was far easier to dismiss or even mock Mica Levi’s debut album, ‘Jewellery’, than it was to explore the sharp-on-theears clatter of household objects being forced into the role of percussive instruments.To plenty, Micachu was ‘that girl who plays a hoover’, rather than someone as inventive, smart and multifaceted as the marginally less bonkers tUnE-yArDs. ‘Never’ is certainly as experimental as Micachu and The Shape’s last, perhaps a little more so. ‘Holiday’ aside (on which Micachu duets with what is just as likely to be a creaky gate as a squeaky synthesiser), the 14 short, mufﬂy tracks here are the stuff of Levi’s ﬁdgety roots – a mixtape of looping (and loopy) ideas so void of tired form and blatant hooks that you have to ask what the hell the demo must have sounded like. Presumably there weren’t any, or at least that’s what Micachu’s ongoing on-the-ﬂy aesthetic seems to suggest, even if ‘Glamour’ does let slip just how much planning has gone on here, featuring passages from The Only Way Is Essex, recited by friends of the band. ‘Never’ (which its creator considers a kind of ﬁlm score) tests the limits of what home recordings can be – how lawless and devoid of commercial ambition. It doesn’t make it an easy listen, but it’s completely fascinating.
Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band
Mature Times (4AD)
One Of My Kind (Team Love)
By Austin Laike. In stores Aug 20
Conor Oberst’s latest release with his buddies the Mystic Valley Band continues to prove to be an exercise in good-time camaraderie more than any great musical expansion or progression.Themes of looking back and thinking of home ruminate throughout the record, and perhaps for the ﬁrst time age is starting to manifest itself as a topic, the seemingly inﬁnite youth of Oberst now being tested as he delves further into his thirties. Like anything he delivers, there are moments of brilliance and wonder, certainly more than on the preceding MVB record, ‘Outer South’, and these moments are certainly on the songs that Oberst delivers himself, rather than the third of the record that sees other band members take to the mic. One suspects he may view his Mystic Valley Band as some kind of Crazy Horse-like side vehicle thay he can step in to every now and again, but the rather unsurprising truth is that the journey is always at its fastest when Oberst is driving the vehicle alone.
Photography by Gabriel Green / Dan Kenall
After ten years of lo-ﬁ outsider pop, we’ve come to expect a certain amount of sleaze from LA’s Ariel Pink. A velveteen club croon called ‘Symphony of The Nymph’ (about a lesbian nympho at the discotheque) should come as no great surprise, then, not that that prevents it from being the most quotable line of the year. ‘Kinski Assasin’ is even better, with a drunk keyboard dancing around the nonsense refrain of “Who sank my battleship?/I sank my battleship”, not crooned this time but croaked as if through bated breath, or a backwards burp. Such unexpected oddities are what make Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafﬁti so much more enduring than those happily lost in one continual, washed out organ chord.There’s a bit of that here (‘Nostradamus and Me’), and the annoyingly potheaded ‘Weiner Schnitzel Boogie’ (“I need a schnitzel” over and over again), but there’s also the ’60s-inspired AM hit ‘Only In My Dreams’ on Ariel Pink’s most varied record yet as he heads back to his weird of old.
By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Aug 13
The Cast Of Cheers
Kyla La Grange
In Your Room
(School Boy Error)
By Chris Watkeys. In stores July 23
By Laura Davies. In stores July 30
By Nathan Westley. In stores Aug 6
By Chal Ravens. In stores Aug 30
By Laura Davies. In stores July 30
In certain corners of the guitarbased indie world, time really hasn’t moved on all that much since Friendly Fires popularised their brand of danceable indiefunk about four years ago. Dublin quartet The Cast of Cheers certainly borrow heavily from that template for this, their label debut. That said, the album opener and title track is more like a throwback to early Futureheads, an era when the word ‘angular’ was oft-used to describe this blend of spiky rhtyhms, rapid tempos and shouty vocals. Standout track ‘Trucks At Night’ offers a slightly alternative slant late in the record, as it morphs from the album’s standard form into something approaching an edgy, relentless, high-speed form of drone rock. ‘Family’ is on the whole intelligent-feeling; carefully constructed but not overly self-conscious, and visceral enough to be genuinely danceable.
Now Lana Del Rey has moved from being Girl Of The Moment with shiny hair to respected artist with an expanding award cabinet, fashion needs a new musical muse. Enter Kyla La Grange.The modellooking singer has already performed at fashion parties and Florence comparisons have of course surfaced, but this Watford gal is far more steeped in 1980s inﬂuence, with a lot of Riverdance drama and high kicks for good measure (that’s what the skip button was made for). ‘Ashes’’s ﬁrst quarter is all Andrea Corr on too much pop, but from brooding single ‘To Be Torn’ onwards, there are sparks of intrigue to Kyla’s debut. ‘Woke Up Dead’ is probably catchy enough to inﬁltrate a radio playlist or two, but there is too much Celtic-folk wailing (‘Been Better’ and ‘Heavy Stone’) to worry Del Rey. Don’t put yourself on the waiting list for a ‘Kyla’ Mulberry bag just yet.
One thing that instantly prevents Aussie alternative rock band Cameras from being another staid act is that they proudly boast two very distinctive vocalists within their ranks.Throughout ‘In Your Room’ the opposing personalities of Eleanor Dunlop and Fraser Harvey battle to the fore. Opener ‘Polarise’, with its dark piano tinges, is a song deeply cast with nourished Radiohead vibes, yet it is not a static mould the band are intent on sticking too; rather what follows is a raft of songs that alternate between several different referential points. ‘Kreuzberg’ rattles with the knell of latter day QOTSA wrestling with a straightlaced early Interpol and the likes of ‘I Know’ and ‘Break Hands’ can be compared to St.Vincent.With two distinct incarnations ﬁghting for attention, it’s hard to pin Cameras into one speciﬁc corner. Both warrant equal consideration.
A year ago a band of angry Danish teens called Iceage put out an obnoxious gem of a record called ‘New Brigade’, which took just 24 minutes to violently regurgitate the ﬁnest moments of nihilistic punk rapture. Nordic angst is a dish best served ice cold, obviously, and Sweden’s Holograms are the latest Scandipunks to show us how it’s done. Opener ‘Monolith’ and the abrasive ‘Memories of Sweat’ actually sound very much like Iceage, especially in their curiously English voices, halfway between Wire and an Oi! band. On the whole though, this is a much perkier proposition – the melodious clattering of ‘Chasing My Mind’ and the squelchy, fuzzy keys on ‘ABC City’ make a cheerful backdrop for chants of “Desolation! Isolation!”, while ‘You Are Ancient (Sweden’s Pride)’ suggests they don’t take themselves entirely seriously.Which is a relief, really.
Addictive, annoyingly so, in fact, Fang Island are on a mission to hijack your mind with their infectious indie pop/emo. But don’t think this is the Brooklyn version of Spector or anything – they teeter more on Weezer college rock than ‘it’ band.This, their second LP, is all twin guitars, toe-tapping and Hold Steady anthems. ‘Make Me’ has to be a contender for the most fun track of the year, which is, of course, exactly what the three-piece want. Sultry this is not – they may sound like early Band of Horses at their slowest on opener ‘Kindergarten’, but the funk-ﬁlled beating heart soon kicks in, courtesy of sticksman Marc St. Sauveur, and so will your smile and ﬁnest air drumming. At its heart, it’s emo, but not in an American Pie kinda way; more an unashamedly funky let’s geek out way.We dare you to not dance your college socks off.
Maria Minerva album title (Not Not Fun) By Austin Laike. In stores Aug 6
The thing about dreams is that they’re always a lot weirder than we like to remember. So when chillwave arrived (and any other band with reverb-drenched vocals, for that matter) it was called ‘dreamy’ when it was far too perfectly formed and repetitive for that. Dreams often descend into fast-changing montages, not one smooth sky ride through God’s ﬂuffy heavens. It’s this semi-conscious unpredictability that Estonian hypnagogic pop star Maria Minerva explores on ‘Will Happiness Find Me’, albeit in her own sexually upfront way. ‘Sweet Synergy’ is the album’s wet dream, to hook this metaphor into the crass rough, combining a raggeton bump with Grace Jones-inspired come-ons and stabs of processed horns, and the dub-infused ‘Fire’ is almost equally as seductive. Mostly though, Minerva doesn’t let us get too comfortable, with songs like ‘Coming Of Age’ erratic in structure if soothing in their reassuring, trippy vocals.The sense of impending sexual doom is what makes it strangely alluring.
BILBAO BBK LIVE Kobetamendi Park, Bilbao, Spain 12-14.07.2012 By DK Goldstein Photography by Music Snapper
Camping is all well and good, but no price can be put on that feeling of waking up in a bed and slipping into a hot shower in the morning. So imagine a festival where you can party beneath clear skies until 6am and still go back to a hotel no more than 30 minutes away. Barcelona’s Primavera Sound is such a place, but so too is Bilbao’s BBK. From Thursday to Saturday, the bank-funded (Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa) musical extravaganza takes over the peak of Kobetamendi (Kobeta Mountain), offering striking views.There’s a free shuttle bus that runs all night and takes you from Bilbao stadium to the top, traversing winding roads as you watch the city fall away. It’s quite breathtaking before you even consider the brilliant line-up. Of course, camping is still an option if you don’t want to fork out for a hotel, but it does mean setting up on a precarious slope and risking losing all your belongings should rain decide to rear its ugly head. Luckily for us, it was sunshine throughout,
bar a few drops during Radiohead on day two, which seemed rather an apt pairing to the Oxford ﬁve-piece’s bitty electronica-rock. Over two hours, they run through a good chunk of sixth album ‘Hail to the Thief ’, as well as tracks from their fourth, ‘Kid A’, ﬁnally encoring with ‘Paranoid Android’, to which everyone sings “from a great height” like zombies hypnotised by Thom Yorke’s prominent quaver. In true Radiohead style, the band performs a niche set for super fans that leaves everyone else wanting after a teaser of ‘Karma Police’.There’s plenty of drone too, which is always weird in such a lively setting because it’s difﬁcult to ﬁgure out what to do with your body. Sway? Stand still? Jerk around like you’re grooving to a club hit in your head? I pick the third option, as do the rest of the mid-ﬁelders – quite a contrast from the previous night’s headliner. The Cure play nothing but hits for three hours – preceded by a three-song acoustic set from Robert Smith and followed by two encores
– and Garbage’s closing slot the following night is beyond explosive. In fact, they even cause a power cut at one point. Shirley Manson, clearly hasn’t lost her touch over the eighteen years that the foursome have been together. Opening with ‘Automatic Systematic Habit’, she charges the stage like a dominatrix; her hair in a tight bun on top of her head and her make-up dark and sharp around the eyes. “For those of you who don’t know us, we’re Garbage,” she drawled, “and for those of you who hate us, we’re still here, motherfuckers!” Running through ‘Queer’, ‘Paranoid’, ‘Cherry Lips’ and of course ‘Stupid Girl’, everyone from hardcore fans to newbies couldn’t have been happier. Now, a common thing with European festivals is that they tend to start around 6pm, so if you do stay in the city for BBK, you can wander around in the day.You can even catch some free performances by bands that are playing the festival in the evening at the Live
Music Experience at Alhondiga on Plaza Arriquibar.The View were on when we visited, which meant we could see Pure Love later, who may have drawn a much smaller crowd compared to the Dundee rockers, but are were undeniably more fun. Frank Carter, in his birthday shirt of tats, performs from the centre of the audience before climbing back on stage shouting “Bigger! Bigger!” in a bid to instigate a circle pit. “That’s pathetic, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” he spits to unwavering cheers while the rest of his band, decked headto-toe in black, keep on thrashing. Over on stage three, also in all-black, Glaswegian four-piece Glasvegas follow with a much more sober set. Frontman James Allan whines like an injured animal over dirgy, U2hinting backing that never strays far from their monotonous blueprint. Add this to the poppy lad-rock of The Big Pink straight after and we ﬁnd ourselves longing for Keane’s set. Although notoriously MOR-ish, the piano-
led quartet (seriously) brighten moods with their easily accessible radio pop.They’ve reached fourth album ‘Strangeland’ so stealthily that I didn’t realise the words to singles ‘Everybody’s Changing’,‘This is the Last Time’ and ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ (taken from their debut 2004 LP), have lodged themselves in my memories, to return now with a huge nostalgic wallop. The alternatives are getting your face painted, having a massage on the hill or kicking around a plastic cup like four nearby Spanish guys seem to be taking great pleasure in, but ultimately BBK is all about the music. That being the case, the timings are staggered so you can see nearly all the bands playing and it’s a fairly intimate site, ensuring time and energy saving. Best thing of all, however, has to be the great weather – there’s only so many mud baths at Glastonbury (or even Hyde Park) a Brit can take. Splash out on travel and accommodation and instead of battling treacherous terrains, have a holiday with your music.
Hammershmith Apollo, London 22.06.2012 By Chal Ravens Photography by Elinor Jones
It’s all in the little details with Jack White III. From the sharp-suited roadies to the allfemale backing band, whose white dresses turn an identical hue of minty-green under the stage lights; the former White Stripe, Raconteur and Dead Weatherman knows how to put on a show. His adopted city of Nashville has rubbed off on him, too – after rattling through ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’ and new ones ‘Sixteen Saltines’ and ‘Love Interruption’, we’re greeted with some of that ol’ Southern hospitality and asked, “Is it okay if I play a country song?”.Well, go right ahead mister, seeing as you’ve brought along a pedal steel guitar, ﬁddle, upright bass and bar room piano. Songs from ‘Blunderbuss’ ﬁt neatly into a set that includes a hoedown ‘Hotel Yorba’ and a bruising ‘Cannon’, plus a raucous ‘Seven Nation Army’ that reminds us it wasn’t actually written for the Euro 2012 terraces. And without exaggeration, there’s a moment in ‘Ball and Biscuit’ that’s so bone-shakingly visceral, heart-stoppingly medicinal and utterly transcendental, there’s simply no question that White’s face will occupy the ﬁnal tattered frame in the faded hall of rock and roll history.The last of a dying breed.
LIVE 01 Sunless ’97 Photographer: Anni Timms
MILK MAID / SHINIES
Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, London 12.07.2012 By Samuel Ballard
Village Underground, London 21.06.2012 By Chal Ravens
Coalition, Brighton 21.06.2012 By Nathan Westley
Oporto, Leeds 03.07.2012 By Kate Parkin
Koko, Camden, London 21.06.2012 By Danny Canter
IAfter releasing one of the most exciting EPs of 2011, it’s fair to say that big things are expected of London-based three-piece Sunless ’97. However, these expectations can, admittedly, take time to develop – especially for a sound with as many intricacies and complexities as Ed Larrakin’s new project.Tonight, playing a free show to a packed Old Blue Last, they take to the stage at around 11pm – on a school night! – and despite their best efforts and some individual moments of brilliance, they fail to really get going. It was faltering; slightly less ﬁnished-off than expected. Maybe it was too late for them too.The highlight of the set comes with single ‘Body Weather’ – a saxophone sampled track that reeks of summer whimsy, perfectly offsetting primary vocalist Alice’s soaring contribution. It’s a track that shines a light on the potential that this band has, and is a much-needed reminder of where they are in their development. It’s early days for Sunless ’97 and they needn’t be written off for a rough performance, which wasn’t bad as such – it just wasn’t what expectations had predicted.This is certainly a band worth looking out for and as time goes on they’re undoubtedly going to work out the best way to assimilate their recorded material onto the stages of London’s East End pubs.They’re just not ready quite yet.
Hudson Mohawke has been expertly bringing the house down since his days as a teenage turntable champion, so he hardly needs assistance in revving up a crowd – especially the pissed-up gaggle of post-exam students and sixth formers who have ﬁlled up Village Underground tonight. But through his new project with Montreal DJ and producer Lunice, he’s bagged himself an exuberant hype man as well as a skilful collaborator.With Lindsay Lohan’s swollen face morphing gruesomely from starlet to felon in the visuals behind him, the Glaswegian blasts heavy slabs of Technicolor hip hop and whomping bass, teasing us with cheesy false drops as Lunice bounces around the stage like a crunked up Tigger.TNGHT have described their collaboration as the product of a few whisky-soaked nights in a shoebox studio off Oxford Street, but that really doesn’t do justice to the quality of their infectiously danceable endproduct.They’re obviously enjoying the freedom to bastardise the mainstream hip hop sounds they love, with the shameless swagger of Juicy J and Lex Luger channelled through HudMo’s broken-down beats and squiffy pitched drums, while Lunice brings a touch of Mad Decentstyle cartoonish silliness.The EP’s not out until late July, so it’s hard to tell where TNGHT material ends and a DJ set begins – but come HudMo’s heavyweight ‘Cbat’ near the end, it really doesn’t matter.
The journey from darling of the alternative world to one where it becomes fashionable to give a keyboard-based kicking can sometimes be an extremely short one. Best Coast’s sophomore album, ‘The Only Place’, arrived to murmurings of detraction for its clean-cut, highly polished ways by those who once championed them.Yet those still yearning for the raw edged lo-ﬁ ways of its predecessor can ﬁnd comfort in the fact that the smooth corners have not been translated into the band’s live being.Tonight in this cove ceilinged venue, the independently minded Bethany Cosentino and the less vocal Bobb Bruno let rip a deep wave of retrotouched, jangly pop songs, whose Californian sun-kissed melodies twist and swirl over tightly knit rhythms.While the original playfulness of ‘Crazy For You’ remains, newer material such as the slow paced and lyrically introspective ‘How They Want Me To Be’ shows a more mature side of the band. It is just that – a side, rather than a total separation, and one that leads to a few members of the feet-shufﬂing-and-bodyswaying audience to come around and air their lighters. Best Coast have evolved, but dig deep and what ﬁrst enticed ears to prick up and tune in ﬁrst time around can still be found.
Haloed against an electric blue screen, the youthful scufﬂings of SHINIES sounds out to muted applause.This stubborn mid-week crowd hold no truck with hype and the band fail to ﬁght their corner, quickly abandoning their shy attempts at chatter.The ragged shoegaze of ‘Shola’ and static mumble of ‘Spent Youth’ brieﬂy snare some attention, but its stage presence not tunes that are lacking. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe where Kurt Cobain chose the light at the end of the tunnel instead of the barrel of a gun, Milk Maid reign supreme. Piercing the gloomy heart of Manchester are glistening shards of dreamy California, the skuzzy surf pop of ‘Not Me’ dressed ﬁt for the prairie.With his Amish hat and epic beard it’s easy to imagine singer Martin Cohen dreaming of life on the open plains, the ﬂickering Super 8 of ‘New Plans’ conjuring sepia-toned images of ‘the county killer’ and yard-birds on the run. Mingling Deerhunter whisperings with some serious riffs,‘Summertime’ is pretty downbeat as summer anthems go, but then Cohen’s voice doesn’t lend itself well to excitement, barely raising itself above a gentle mumble. At times it almost disappears altogether, crumbling under the layers of feedback.They too are trapped in uncomfortable standoff with the crowd, retreating behind their instruments to create a seriously vibed out ending on ‘Stir So Slow’. Milk Maid could be magic if they’d only let you in.
Shows like this are always bipolar affairs – a band that quietly became a big deal return to a venue they’ve long since outgrown to play hits we’ve missed and crash-test new songs we’ve never heard. It’s an over 14s show, but the average age of attendees seems to be 36, so perhaps the new songs will be maturely absorbed and contemplated after four Bloc Party-less years, not disregarded while we wait for the next ‘Banquet’ or ‘Helicopter’.We’re all grown ups, after all. But no, they’re not, and of the seven tracks played from the forthcoming ‘Four’, none command the silence the band are after (‘Truth’) nor the giddy abandon of old (the opening chunk that rip Nirvana-like guitar riffs and have clearly ditched the electronics of last album ‘Intimacy’).When the band play anything else, though, we’re reminded of just how much excitement is currently lacking in guitar music – certainly in the popularist kind. Gnarled, if a little sloppy, and played with a relived grin from Kele Okereke, Bloc Party’s hits (not just ‘Banquet’ but ‘The Prayer’, ‘Eating Glass’ and even the closing ‘Flux’) sound as smart and charged as ever, as 36 becomes the new, moshy adolescence – grad rock that’s still impossible to snootily dismiss as too bookish.Today’s Bloc Party are The Vaccines. It hardly seems fair.
By IAN ROEBUCK
MOONRISE KINGDOM Starring: Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton Director:Wes Anderson
Luke Haines in Art Will Save The World
Music Documentaries Will Save The World A look at forthcoming, respectable, ﬁlmic looks at the music world Absurdist humour and a sense of the outsider are far removed from the modern day music documentary. Most are po faced or self-congratulatory and being ﬂagellated at the temple of top docs by Paul Morley or, god forbid, Paul Ross is commonplace in the discourse of talking heads. BBC3 have usurped 2 and 4, hours are ﬁlled rather than thought about and counter culture has become the Polyﬁla. If there’s a crack then there’s a noteworthy subject to be condensed into emptiness. Pedestrian documentaries are routine in TV terms but Cinema has been pushing the frontiers again this year.The music doco is still handled with respect for the big screen – perhaps Scorsese’s delicate brush that covered the quiet Beatle was some kind of awakening. This summer we are to be treated to many more, each of varying guises but each virtuous in ambition. Shut Up and Play the Hits, LCD Soundsystem’s triumphant but melancholic take on the band’s controlled demise is currently doing the rounds at the cinema. Already notorious for James Murphy weeping the day after the night before, it’s a breath of fresh ﬁlmic air.We also look forward to Ice T’s directorial debut Something From Nothing:The Art Of Rap. His history lesson on hip hop looks to Chuck D, Salt of Salt-N-Pepa, Dr. Dre and Eminem, amongst others (52 artists all in all), and promises to dissect what it means to rap stateside and worldwide. Closer to home in so many ways comes Art Will Save The World: A Film About Luke Haines – a very British documentary about the existence, or none existence of Britpop and one of its most cavalier ﬁgures. Lead singer in the Auteurs and the brains behind Baader Meinhof and Black Box Recorder, Luke Haines is a complex character, a riddle in a
panama hat.The self confessed misanthrope spent his entire career ﬂitting in and out of public consciousness, always ﬂirting with controversy and always going against the grain. Niall McCann’s wonderfully eccentric ﬁlm coaxes the best from Haines, his beautiful use of language that The Auteurs captured so well, translated to perfection in Haine’s pithy and expressive narration. Both McCann and Haines seem to delight in warping our expectations.Why not get actors in to play Haines (“now we’re talking,” jokes our anti-hero when a woman dons a moustache), and why not get writers and artists to comment rather than musicians (David Peace and Stewart Home are fervent contributors). If you’re taking your protagonist back to his childhood home, most documentary makers would wait until reaching the desired destination to turn the camera on, but not McCann who conﬁdently displays shots of the journey alongside Haines’ wry and disdainful commentary. It’s face to face with Haines where the ﬁlm really ﬂickers to life, though. A man prone to selfdeprecation, he cuts both a humorous and tragic ﬁgure. A curious being, we learn he lives in Buenos Aires in the opening scene; nearly an hour later he admits his house resides in Kentish Town. His sociopathic tendencies creep closer to the fore as the movie reaches its climax but still we side with him. Jarvis Cocker sums it up in typically wry style by saying The Auteurs song ‘The Upper Classes’ could have been a hit, it could have pipped Pulp’s ‘Common People’ to the post but Haines sabotaged his own fame by adding the word cunt. “The artist is always right,” our man intones, leaning forward in his chair to catch our gaze as we lean forward to meet him.
Let it be known that Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic stories and skewed vision are as familiar and heart warming to this reviewer as rain against the windowpane. It’s Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and the Royal Tenenbaums that sit atop the DVD collection when feeling blue. So after a lengthy sojourn to Paris and arriving home to mixed reviews and like-minded friends in a pickle it was a heavy but hopeful heart that beat as the lights dimmed down. Seconds later we’re sunk in a bubbly bath of familiarity as Anderson’s most linear of frameﬁlling and deliciously indulgent detail scatter the opening credits. His compulsive direction dazzles in the opening minutes as we’re taken upstairs and down through the most provincial of family homes in New Penzance. As with Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom is about the exuberance of youth and it’s all the more brilliant for it. This beautiful tale of two notso-popular children who, much to the dismay of both parents and scoutmaster, fall in love and escape into the wilderness, recaptures Anderson at his best. Not since Rushmore has a script and subject matter suited him so well, the somewhat twee director ticks (a take/double take here, a slow motion walk there) feel more natural when dealing with innocence and discovery.We’re also treated to a wonderfully eccentric script, co-written with Roman Coppola and brimming with oneline gems – “our daughter has been abducted by these beige lunatics,” screams Walt Bishop, played in typical zen-like fashion by Bill Murray. A charming ﬁlm but certainly not without ﬂaws, whilst we’re rooting for the tear away kids (played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) there remains a strange lack of depth and compassion towards the grown ups. Bruce Willis and Ed Norton are competent as men in uniforms (Bruce a policeman, Ed a Scoutmaster) but we never really delve into their brittle personas. A fantastic soundtrack too but no ‘These Days’ moment, a small detail that keeps it off the top of the DVD pile. But as we know with Wes Anderson, its all about the detail.
Loud Loud And And Quiet Quiet Presents Presents
CRIMES OF PASSION TOUR AUG AUG 22 22 / / SHACKLEWELL SHACKLEWELL ARMS, ARMS, LONDON LONDON WITH WITH SPECIAL SPECIAL LIVE LIVE GUESTS GUESTS BIG DEAL
LOUD AND QUIET and YOUNG AND LOST CLUB PRESENT
H O M E DJs: LIVE: MAFIA LIGHTS YOUNG & LOST LOUD AND QUIET SHUGA GUESTS THE WHARVES ELECTRIC
FRIDAY 10 AUG 8PM TIL 2AM
POWER LUNCHES / KINGSLAND RD / DALSTON Â£5 WEGOTTICKETS.COM
PARTY WOLF COMPETITION Just that
WIN TICKETS TO DIY ALL-DAYER, RADFEST 2012 Having started from humble beginnings a few years back, London DIY all-dayer Radfest has balloon to its fattest (and no doubt Raddest) yet. A punk party that can’t sit still, this year’s festival has moved to a warehouse complex in east London, that, on August 19, will allow 2000 believers in the DIY ethic to trade zines, buy records and posters (from pop up stores courtesy of local shop Kristina Records and Poster Roast, respectively) and eat.There’s be live music too, of course - a lot of it, from Veronica Falls [left],Trash Talk, Ceremony, Jacuzzi Boys, DIIV, Fidlar, Maria Minerva, Eagulls, Virals, SSS, Gabriel Bruce, Holograms, Fear Of Men and 15 more over multiple stages.
It’s all the doing of London label/promoters Sexbeat and Nudie Jeans Co., and to be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets for you and someone you want to impress, email the correct answer to the below question to email@example.com by August 10th. Veronica Falls featured on the cover of our December 2011 issue. What is the name of their debut album? a.) Found Love In A Grave Yard b.) Beachy Head c.) It’s simply called Veronica Falls
And last month’s 1234Shoreditch festival competition answer: Iceage are from Denmark, of course! Federica Argenta, Mark Taylor and Raquel Garcia were our winners. Safe!
MY TIME Diary of a somebody
The day had not gotten off to a good a start. After the usual back and forth with David about his moustache, he ﬁnally agreed that I was right and he shouldn’t shave it off, and I coaxed him down from Romeo’s cabin bed with a Curly Wurly.We head to the tennis and, despite being late, get a killer parking space for the Micra. But David’s forgotten the steering lock! I tell him, “I don’t want to talk about it now,” and we go in. I think he realised that meant I was mad because he started ﬂirting with all the girls, smiling and saying thank you. I’m fuming, but it’s nothing compared to later when David giggles “it’s tickling” through most of the match as the man behind us repeatedly puts his hand on David’s shoulders.We leave, and guess what? The Micra’s gone! I could fucking kill Fuller. He’s never let it go!
Talking potato Gordon Ramsay was two away from Youth Hostling with Chris Eubank and three from Monkey Tennis when his new programme got the green light.Yes?!
Hey babe, I had a missed call from you. I’ve litterally just got out the shower
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely ﬁctitious.
PHOTO CASEBOOK “The inappropriate world of Ian Beale”
For new music news, archived interviews, loud and quiet podcast, stockist info, back issues and loud and quiet digital
Ariel Pink / Grizzly Bear / Yeasayer / Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs / Keel Her / Purity Ring / Martin Creed / Drop Out Venus