LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 29 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
_ 2011 P R I M AV E R A SOUND _
T U N E - Y A R D S
PRIMAVERA SOUND SPECIAL FEATURING: BATTLES / MOON DUO / THE FRESH & ONLYS / BATHS / PRINCE RAMA
+ WASHED OUT / HUSBAND /
CONTENTS J U LY 2 0 1 1
09 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BEGINNING THE GUARDIAN’S RECENT ‘MUSIC POWER 100’ IS A LIST TOO FAR FOR REEF YOUNIS
10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SI NG LES / BOOKS THE LATEST 7” RELEASES AND PAGE-TURNERS, FEATURING KREAYSHAWN AND LUKE HAINES
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY PAVLA KOPECNA
13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P U S H TH E P L AYB UT TO N SINGLE TRACK DOWNLOADS HAVE MET THEIR STYLISH MATCH
14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LE FTO V E RS DELS ASKS ELAN TAMARA, WHAT IS BRIT SCHOOL ACTUALLY LIKE?
COLOU RM USIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 FORGET CONCEPT ALBUMS; THIS QUARTET FROM OKLAHOMA IS A CONCEPT BAND
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 FORMERLY FILMS AND NOW A NAME YOU CAN ONLY WRITE ON A MAC
H USBAN D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 TERROR TECHNO FROM THE NORTH OF ITALY THAT’S ALREADY IMPRESSED BATTLES
WASH E D OUT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 EARNEST GREENE INTERVIEWS HIS OWN RECORD, WITH THE HELP OF EDGAR SMITH
P A B L O , T H E C R E AT O R . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRIMAVERA SOUND IN THE WORDS OF ONE OF ITS FOUNDING DIRECTORS
P RI MAV E RA SOU N D 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 - 35
CONTACT INFO@LOUDANDQUIET.COM 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, CHRIS WATKEYS, DEAN DRISCOLL, DANIEL DYLAN WRAY, DANNY CANTER, DK GOLDSTIEN, DEAN DRISCOLL, ELEANOR DUNK, ELINOR JONES, EDGAR SMITH, FRANKIE NAZARDO, HOLLY LUCAS, JANINE BULLMAN, LEE BULLMAN, KATE PARKIN, KELDA HOLE, GABRIEL GREEN, LEON DIAPER, LUKE WINKIE, MANDY DRAKE, MARTIN CORDINER, MATTHIAS SCHERER, NATHAN WESTLEY, OWEN RICHARDS, PAVLA KOPECNA, POLLY RAPPAPORT, PHIL DIXON PHIL SHARP, REEF YOUNIS, SAM LITTLE, SAM WALTON, SIMON LEAK, SIMON GRAY,TIM COCHRANE, TOM GOODWYN, TOM PINNOCK THIS ANDY KATE NITA RICH
MONTH L&Q LOVES MOSS, COLLEEN MALONEY, PRICE, LISA DURRANT, KEELER, PABLO SOLER, WALKER, WILL LAWRENCE
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 2011 LOUD AND QUIET.
INTERVIEWS FROM THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL WITH BATTLES, BATHS TUNE-YARDS, MOON DUO, THE FRESH & ONLYS AND PRINCE RAMA
DISTRIBUTED BY LOUD AND QUIET AND FORTE DISTRIBUTION. PRINTED BY SHARMAN & COMPANY LTD.
36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ALBUMS FILMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 THE HORRORS, BLANCK MASS, JOHN MAUS AND ALL OF THE MONTH’S KEY RELEASES
IAN ROEBUCK DREADS THE ARRIVAL OF THE INBETWEENERS: THE MOVIE
42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LI V E PARTY W OLF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 THE RETURN OF PULP, PLUS ODD FUTURE, JOHN CALE, FAIR OHS, DUCKTAILS AND MORE
THE PERSISTENT WORLD OF IAN BEALE LOOK LIKE TOM CRUISE / POLI-TWIT
There’s a reason why we don’t really do ‘specials’. They’re a lot of hard work, for one, and finding something worth making a special about isn’t much easier. Primavera Sound – Barcelona’s answer to ATP, if ATP was twice the size and infinitely less Butlins – is a very special festival, though. The fact that it’s in Barcelona helps, by the sea where boats bob by to leftfield sonic delights, avant-garde walls of sounds and the fizz of many, many lo-fi indie bands. The lineup seems to constantly be a coup, only of course it isn’t, because Primavera has been doing this for the last eleven years straight. There’s no campsite arson, perhaps because there’s no campsite; the portaloos have coat hooks and paper; the tat stalls sell records and limited screen prints, not jester hats and legal highs. It’s as classy as it is punk. So this year we saw Primavera Sound as a chance to catch up with some past interviewees, like tUnE-yArDs and Battles, and meet some new ones, like Baths and Prince Rama and Moon Duo and The Fresh & Onlys. Because all of the bands stay in the same hotel across the street from the site? Sure.
CONTRI B UTORS 01
C A R L PA R T R ID GE
K AT E PA R K IN
D A NIE L D Y L A N W R AY
The week that this issue of Loud And Quiet was going to press, Carl was hanging his MA exhibition, marking the end of his time studying Communication Design Illustration at Central Saint Martins College, and he still got his commission to us in time. You can see it when you turn over the page, and more of his work at www.carlpartridge.co.uk. Take a look – Carl likes candy. He’s also a cream soda connoisseur and irreverent music lover. “Ideas within my work often stem from things I cannot do or places I’ve never been to,” he says, which explains his Time Machine illustration, while his Skatepark Kids look like dishevelled South Park regulars.
Kate knows every single band in Leeds, or at least that’s how it seems. She’s tipped us off about tons of the city’s bands, the latest being Δ, which is the symbol you get when you hold down alt and J on your keyboard. Before now they were called Films, which is a far more boring name. Kate’s been ﬁnding and interviewing new bands for nearly seven years, and when she’s not spewing them over the pages of Art Rocker and Loud And Quiet she’s doing so on her blog, Extremely Loud Incredibly Close. Away from the music, Kate is “a proper closet old lady”, who likes reading spy books and drinking tea. Kate recently joined the WI.
We met Dan when we co-hosted Crocodiles’s ﬁrst UK tour in 2009. He very kindly put us up for the night in a ﬂat covered in Bowie, Reed and Stooges records. He lives in Shefﬁeld, so his place was twice the size and less than half the price of ours. Since then, Dan has founded online magazine KickingAgainstThePricks.com, which is updated with a new issue once a month. For our issue, this month Dan interviewed Baths and The Fresh & Onlys as part of our Primavera Sound coverage. They went a lot better than when Nick Cave told him to “ask something worth fucking asking”, although Dan “perversely quite enjoyed that.”
BEGINNING J U LY 2 0 1 1
AMERICAN BOY / TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE BY LUKE WINKIE: OUR MAN IN BAR AK ’S BACK YARD
GO ! TE AM THE GUARDIAN’S RECENT ‘MUSIC POWER 100’ IS A LIST TOO FAR, SAYS REEF YOUNIS
ANGLOPHILE: AN INCREASINGLY DIRTY AND UNFAIR WORD WHERE AMERICAN MUSIC IS CONCERNED
Lists: they’re shit. We love the thought of them, are comforted by them, buy into the fact that making a list is somehow productive. It’s a sign of organisation, with stuff at the top typically more important than the stuff at the bottom – e.g. for shopping, crisps are far more essential than, you know, vegetables. You might have seen The Guardian’s Music Power 100 list – an odd mishmash of artists, print media, radio personalities, executives, label heads, lawyers and, perhaps most nauseating, ‘teams’. If you did happen to skim the list, you’d have seen that ‘Team Adele’ sits proudly, perplexingly at the top. It read: Adele’s huge success can be seen in two ways. One version has Adele as The Last Pop Star... The other version takes the 23-year-old Londoner and uses her as an example of how a brilliant talent – supported by a brilliant team – can still bring millions of people together at the same time, in the simple celebration of great songs. The remit was simple: which people have the greatest inﬂuence over what rock and pop music people in the UK listen to right now? On the face of it, Adele wasn’t as ridiculous a choice as it ﬁrst seemed. With her ‘21’ and ‘19’ albums sitting snugly at number 2 and 3 in the UK album charts it makes obvious commercial sense. But when we’re given the stats and the logic and the breakdowns behind the list, just how do Liam Howlett and Team Dizzee Rascal make the 100 based on current relevance; why is Mark Zuckerberg a major music player at number 13; how does the Lady Gaga commercial phenomenon limp in at a lowly 18? Howlett laughably earns his place for inspiring the current industrial dirge of Pendulum; Lady Gaga is “more inﬂuential than ever” but her record-breaking sales oddly aren’t enough to put her in Adele’s league, while Zuckerberg earns his lofty presence by virtue of the fact people share music on Facebook despite it never being designed for that purpose. Seven out of 100 are artists outright. 16 broadcasters. 15 label executives. 1. Fucking. Lawyer. It’s a breakdown of the executive matrix where the artists’ presence here are token gestures; a half-baked attempt to make the list look vaguely creatively credible. It’s a contrived roll call of the fat controllers, boardrooms and marketing that greases the industry wheels, and should anyone be celebrating the reduction of music to listening trends and target demographics? More importantly, it raises a very simple question: does an artist make a team or does the team make an artist? That we’re even asking that question makes a mockery of the “simple celebration of great songs” epitaph used as justiﬁcation for this worthless exercise.
Recently I read a feature on The Line of Best Fit about The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s latest record ‘Belong’. It’s an easy album to love, full of dizzy hooks, love-touched warmth and that miniature twee delectability of a bygone era. They also wear their cross-Atlantic inﬂuences on their sleeve, literally – frontman Kip Berman always dons a Suede pin on his jacket. Naturally that makes them a pretty easy target for the chronically shifting indie-sphere, especially where the international press is concerned. Within the ﬁrst two paragraphs of this review (which was admittedly advertised to be contrarian), John Calvert uses phrases like “Urban Outﬁtters”, “eyebrow-deﬁcient vegan”, “Rudy Giuliani”, and of course, “Anglophiles”. It’s the latter term that is most frivolously tossed about when discussing American bands, but just how often is a just criticism? I’m talking primarily about the NME-core, but to me it seems like the bands christened with alt-rock, stadium-smashing blessings overseas always subscribe to some core tenant of traditional American rock music, rather than ripping off the Brits. The surrogate adoption of The Strokes is the most blatant – a hip quintet of New York stereotypes, playing grimy, urban and immediately iconic music in their city of origin’s niche. They skyrocketed overseas, representing an idealised, Technicolor version of New York; something that was easier to sell to those who were willing to believe the movieland fantasy. In Nashville, Kings of Leon erupted in popularity throughout Europe much before they transcended their yuppie-indie stigma domestically. Sure, that partially has to do with the critical thrashing they received (and continue to receive) from American critics, but their gussied-up southland swagger speaks for itself – traditionally and identiﬁably from the heartland, but void of all the nastiness and prairie dust. Lynyrd Skynyrd never made it across the ocean, not because they weren’t as catchy, but song titles like ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ are a little too real. In a sense, this philosophy is a lot more Anglophelic than The Pains of Being Pure at Heart doing Britpop impressions. It ﬁlters out a surface-level hovel of American music while devoting all their hype to their own kin, most of which are drawing inﬂuence from a much larger pool than certain publications care to cover. It seems to me that American music is often delegated to ﬁt these archetypes, and when they embrace inﬂuence outside of their oceans they ﬁnd themselves struck down as imitators. Be purebred, and be tasteful, or risk being stuck as an anglophile.
Illustration by Carl Partridge / www.carlpartridge.co.uk
“WHY IS MARK ZUCKERBERG A MAJOR MUSIC PLAYER?”
BEGINNING SINGLES / BOOKS 01 BY JA NIN E & L EE B U L L M A N
(HOUSE ANXIETY) OUT JUNE 27
PL ANT PL ANTS PL ANT PL ANTS EP
T HE OP HIL U S L OND ON F LY ING O V E R S E A S
(LESS MUSIC) OUT JUNE 20
(THIS IS MUSIC) OUT JUNE 27
It’s not the Jas Shaw production credit that elevates Plant Plants’ debut EP above their bedroom-electro contemporaries. It’s not even that they cram math-rock guitars, Gold Panda crackles, slow jam beats, warped vocals, indie riffs and chillwave whimsy all into one four-track release. (If anything, the duo’s reluctance to stand still is annoying, especially on the forgettable ‘Dandelion’, which sees Plant Plants take a turn for lo-ﬁ American folk). No. What makes Plant Plants more interesting than a majority of the glitchtinkering crowd is that they can’t sing and don’t care, much like Klaxons could never sing but did little to mask the fact. ‘Hands That Sleep’ (the mathy track) illustrates this best and has Plant Plants at their most personable, as they moronically drone cosmic nonsense, y’know, much like Klaxons would. A more self-conscious band would pour on the reverb, but Plant Plants human touch makes them far more memorable.
The most disappointing thing about Theophilus London’s debut single, ‘Humdrum Town’, was how the Brooklyn rapper’s verses were constantly bugged by the kind of silly Casio tones that have made Example a mainstream, summer-gigging name. ‘Flying Overseas’ doesn’t do that. It was co-written and produced by Devonte Hynes and features Beyonce Knowles’ sister Solange, and where ‘Humdrum Town’ was hip hop meets Teenagers-esque, simple pop, ‘Flying Overseas’ sees London rap over ﬂourishes of chillwave guitar. It’s a huge improvement, and yet hardly a track that truly excites. It’s like Summer Camp in that respect – easy on the ear, if your ear can be bothered to listen to it again. The main issue is that London doesn’t rap enough on it. It’s more of a Hynes/Knowles duet in many ways, and their blissed out, cherub vocals would struggle to be less inspiring. Theophilus London is getting there, just extremely slowly.
T HE H A R D Y T R E E . A S T OR Y A BOU T G A NG ME N TA L I T Y B Y IP HGE NI A B A A L (TROLLEY BOOKS)
Iphgenia Baal’s debut novel begins against the backdrop of London’s St. Pancras Station in the year 1864. At the time, the area was an unmanaged sprawling cemetery, housing London’s dead, dying and decrepit in their thousands, but the imminent arrival of the Great Midland railway meant that the bodies must be disinterred and, by order of the church, reburied on consecrated soil. Not a job for everybody, naturally, so enter the Resurrection Men: a rag-tag collection of thugs led by ﬂedgling writer Thomas Hard. Tracing the area’s history from death pit to Eurostar terminus, The Hardy Tree gets under the skin of one of London’s darker corners, and in doing so offers the reader an experience that sets it apart from most other ﬁction currently out there.
P O S T E V E R Y T HING : OU T S IDE R R OC K ’N ’R OL L B Y L UK E H A INE S (WILLIAM HEINEMANN)
With Kurt Cobain dead, Auteurs frontman Haines declares that there is nothing new left, that we are post everything; that all the good ideas have been had, rinsed and sold back to the record buying public at a price to make the eyes bleed. The only way to carry on in this situation, he decides, is to declare himself an outsider and engage in pop culture from the peripheries, sending missives from there, ﬁltered through his own particular worldview. Haines’ memoir features a couple of dead rappers (Biggie and Tupac), the cult of Beatles denial, Glenn Hoddle and a talking cat, and should be required reading for anyone already involved in, or considering signing up to what passes as the modern music industry. Inspired.
Single reviews by Austin Laike / Mandy Drake Blowback by Lee Bullman and Michael Forwell published by Pan Macmillan available now. www.leebullman.com
K R E AY S H AW N BUMP IN BUMP IN
Kreayshawn is so cool she makes you want to kill yourself. She’s 21, from California, directs music videos of Lil B, hangs out with Odd Future, says “swag” without sounding like Peaches Geldof and wears peppered forearm tattoos like a skate-park hero, not Amy Winehouse. Even her oversized, completely needless specs don’t look shit, and her real name (Natassia Zolot) is pretty good too. As for the music, ‘Bumpin Bumpin’ is her ﬁrst UK release – a three-minute slather of down-tempo white-girl brat-rap that features all of pop’s most recent tricks, from a Gaga-esque “Can I spend the night at your house?” spoken intro down a telephone wire, to a love affair with autotune. When she’s chirping her raps, she sounds like a cross between CSS’ Lovefoxxx and Ufﬁe, and they were deﬁnitely cool in their day. It’s the kind of stuttering, chopped-up, electronic hip hop that you just know is going to sound terrible when put on a stage, but here, on a limited 12-inch record, there’s little denying how hip Kreayshawn and ‘Bumpin Bumpin’ is, and like so many things that are hip, it’s best to not deconstruct what’s going on too much. This is fun, fashionable pop music that won’t be around for long, so just enjoy its vibrant youthfulness while you can.
IT ’S A SHIT BUSINESS: SIMON GR AY WAS IN A BAND ONCE DR UMME R S Big things, according to popular idiom, come in small packages. Well, this certainly proved to be a bag of bollocks when we undertook the Herculean task of auditioning for a drummer. Our ﬁrst port of call in the quest to ﬁll the sticksman’s stool in our embryonic rock’n’roll dream was a guy called John, whom I had met a couple of years earlier in a music shop while spending (and here comes the ﬂedgling rock star as a teenage outsider cliché number 1) yet another lonely Saturday trying out guitars I was totally infatuated with, but could never afford. The same age as me, he arrived at the audition at school in a huge Volvo estate, just big enough to carry his huge drum-kit, and we set up our equipment, full of nervous expectation and not-so-quiet conﬁdence that this was going to be musical matrimony made in Music Room 1. Big car… Big kit… But unfortunately, very small brain. The microscopic dimension of the aforementioned cerebellum was outdone that day only by his almost unfathomable inability to grasp even the most elementary laws of syncopation. Bugger-lumps! Anyone who has ever walked the tightrope of forming a band will tell you that gathering guitarists and bassists is a relatively straightforward operation – they’re ten-apenny. I mean, spit, sneeze or ejaculate any other type of efﬂuvia in any manner you see ﬁt, and chances are you’ll hit someone who can handle a tune in a six or four-string context. But drummers, they’re like unicorn tears. We needed to ﬁnd one though, the ﬁnal edge of the diamond, and ﬁnally we did, right under our noses. Jimmy “The Weasel” Howlett could not, in our wildest dreams (and I was having some pretty wild dreams at that point), have been any closer to what we were looking for. Sitting in perfect dichotomy to our short haired, indie-boy personae, Weasel was nothing short of a full on, foot-on-monitor, balls (and nipples) out-to-the-world, dirty, axel-greased rock behemoth. He beat the shit out of that kit like John Bonham having been told there was no such thing as vodka anymore. And he drove a normal sized car. Rule 3: Find a drummer... somewhere. Rule 4: Make sure he’s better than his kit.
PUSH THE PL AYBUT TON SINGLE TRACK DOWNLOADS HAVE MET THEIR STYLISH MATCH What are we going to do about all these kids dissing the album? They’re downloading the hits but not the ﬁllers. Fillers are essential. They make the good tracks seem great and build up your immune system to crap. Fillers are like Yakult – good bacteria. Tim Wheeler doesn’t seem to think there’s a problem, but what does Tim Wheeler know? He says that the rise of single track access means that artists will need to make sure every song is a hit from now on, and Ash haven’t written one of those since 2001. So here’s the answer: a 4.5cm wide pin badge that stores a full album worth of digital music, but can’t be tampered
“PLAYBUTTONS SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL”
with. You can’t upload tracks to it, nor take them off, nor change their running order. You can skip tracks, wear it and play it, and you can be happy. You can fast forward too, adjust the volume, of course, and choose from ﬁve different preset equalizers. You just can’t alter the content. It’s called Playbutton and it’s the brainchild of New Yorker Nick Dangerﬁeld, who used to own a small record label in Tokyo. “We had a great release coming up, but had nothing
to commensurately contain it,” he explains, “so I spent a few months obsessed with that. In Tokyo everyone wears buttons/ badges. One day a friend was wearing a giant badge, almost the size of a CD. From there it was all automatic.” Since its launch in February, what Playbutton has essentially done is inject a bit of kitsch fun back into listening to music while neatly embracing technology, fashion and DIY in equal gizmo measures. “Playbuttons split the difference between digital and physical,” says Dangerﬁeld. “The music is in digital ﬁles, but you can hold the imperfect object in your hands – an unlikely combination of high tech with very low tech. The intimate relation with frail objects, that is something that we cannot do without.” It forces you to listen to music in a forgotten way, also – an intensity that is made for an album like ‘The xx’, which is why the band were one of the ﬁrst to release their debut on this stringent new format. For Dangerﬁeld (now based back in New York with Playbutton staff in Japan, England and Spain), the singles market bears little threat. “The album has not become obsolete yet,” he says, “not even remotely. Of course there is a prevalence of one-song only purchases nowadays, but that said, when you analyse the ﬁgures of good labels, they still sell plenty of full albums. Take one of our ﬁrst Playbuttons, if I may, as an example: ‘Wind’s Poem’ by Mount Eerie. That album is a trip, it has the narrative coherence of a wonderful book. Who would want to piece that record apart?” Single track downloads are of course going nowhere – much to Tim Wheeler’s delight – but Playbutton, for its old fashioned, playful take on the modern age, is a very welcome new platform for the album as a single body of work. --Find Playbutton at www.playbutton.co
BEGINNING LE FTO V E RS
E L A N TA M A R A
LAST MONTH WE QUESTIONED NEW GRIME LORD DELS. HE LEFT THESE QUERIES BEHIND FOR FRIEND AND ALLY ELAN TAMARA
So why did you decide to call it ‘Organ’? The name of the EP came from the fact that on every song I played an organ. At face value I’m sure people think it means human organ, but it doesn’t.
So, super-producer Kwes produced ‘Organ’. How was it working with him? Working with Kwes was really easy and it always has been. He doesn’t try to overimpose any ideas onto you, but at the same time if something isn’t right he lets you know. He always suggests little things that you would never think of, which makes a track something it never could have been. Then he takes it home and does magical things and gives it back sounding amazing!
Can you explain what your intentions were with this EP? When writing and recording it I wouldn’t say I had a speciﬁc aim or intention, except for it to be a more developed piece of work than my past two. It’s an EP showing where I am now – the last two had songs I had written a long time before recording.
Tell us one thing that nobody knows about Elan Tamara. I’m a crap ‘rockstar’. I don’t really drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs. I don’t party either.
I love ‘We’re Different’ – the drum pattern reminds me of the way producers program drums in dancehall music. What’s your favourite song and why? Yeah those drums are almost the opposite of the song but that’s why I love them. Georgia [my drummer] always brings those kind of rhythms into the mix. I don’t really have a favourite, but if I had to choose I would say ‘Runaway’ because of the punchiness of it. It’s probably my most upbeat song.
“I’M A CRAP ROCKSTAR. I DON’T DRINK, DO DRUGS OR PARTY”
How involved are you in the beat making process? I let Georgia have totally free rein on how the drums should be, because I know she’ll come up with stuff I couldn’t dream of. Kwes and I may suggest ideas but we leave it all to her really. Kwes will then mess with the drums a bit at home, add some effects etc.
Maybe that’s because you studied at Brit School. A lot of people think it’s just for manifactured popstars. To be honest, it isn’t regimented enough (in its music strands) to be churning out ‘manufactured’ pop stars. It’s mostly just kids being given performance projects of different sorts. When I was there people mostly did whatever they wanted. However, some people who do go there are just interested in being famous, but they would feel that way whether or not they went there. There’s no ‘how to be a pop star’ class, contrary to popular belief. However, there were a lot of big egos there and it was very competitive, which I didn’t like.
Did you have a clear idea of how you wanted it to sound? Nope. I try not to have a clear idea of what I would like the drums to be. For this EP we just went into the studio with
next to no ideas of how the drums would sound.
There were loads of technically good musicians who couldn’t write songs, but loved to see ‘who was the best’, and a lot of Brit students who have had big success want to dissociate themselves with it, but they had fun when they were there. I know because I saw them having fun! You concentrated on playing instruments there. How long have you been singing for? I have been singing as long as I have been properly writing songs, which is since I was 14 orv15. No one ever heard me though until I was 17. Just playing instruments wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but I just wasn’t up for joining the competitive Brit School spirit. People who are a bit shy about their voice/instrument can easily get bulldozed there. How meticulous are you with the way you write your song lyrics? Writing lyrics is a mixture of spontaneous emotions and words. I then correct the lyrics after I have recorded the demo. Is it a long process or is it more about capturing the raw emotion and writing off the top of your head? Normally I record a demo not having written speciﬁc lyrics but knowing what I want to sing about. I then write them down and work on them on another day. Sometimes not much gets changed, sometimes the lyrics get a complete overhaul. Apart from making music, you also... Grow vegetables, cook/bake, draw paisley and do Balinese dance. Who/what are you listening to at the moment? I have been listening to a lot of Warpaint, Tom Vek, Toro Y Moi, Paris Suit Yourself, Mahmoud Ahmed (Legendary Ethiojazz singer), Gamelan, Steve Reich, The list goes on.... What can people expect when they go to see you play live? A lot of sound for three people.
Photography by Phil Sharp
Let’s say I’ve never heard your music before – what does it sound like and why should people go and by your new EP? My music, I would say, sounds like songs that are familiar, but at the same time are like nothing you’ve heard before. This is also why people should buy it!
irst he called me a fucking cunt,” blurts Ryan Hendrix, the bearded and bespectacled frontman and guitarist of Oklahoma troupe Colourmusic, who happens to be sitting with little white headphones in his ears like David Lynch’s Gordon from Twin Peaks, so that he can test the sound on our Dictaphone – something that is serious business to these guys. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s get back to the efﬁng cee. “He was trying to hit on me,” the percussion cum bass-toting Brit Nick Turner exclaims in defence. “He thought everyone was hitting on him at the time,” huffs Hendrix, “it was a delusion because he’s British.” The two are of course discussing the time they ﬁrst met, back when Turner was an exchange student in English literature and American studies at Oklahoma State University and Hendrix was studying to become a broadcast journalist. “We met at a party,” Turner continues, “and started talking about Aphex Twin, and I thought, ‘whoa, somebody from Oklahoma likes Aphex Twin’, so automatically we had a bond. Then Ryan came over to Keele University where I was studying, but to cut a long story short, we thought that it would be a good idea to try and do music to colours.” Hendrix butts in to tell us that initially he didn’t want to write music with Turner. “I thought he was snob,” he states matter-of-factly.“But we started talking about this colour idea, so I told Nick to come over for a couple of months to write. We thought it would sound like Can – we were really into Krautrock – but what we wrote in the end sounded nothing like that.” What it did result in was a couple of high-energy, psych-driven powerful folk-pop microcosms of the colours ‘Red’ and ‘Yellow’ – their ﬁrst two EPs that carried an Of Montreal-esque collegiate tone. Their ﬁrst ever jam together,Turner reveals was while watching Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 ﬁlm Koyaanisqatsi. “It has loads of shots of nature landscapes,” he enlightens us, “and the soundtrack is by Phillip Glass, but we’d put it on mute and try to invent our own really bad soundtrack to it,” he smiles, telling us that they thought it was going to be ambient.“But then we realised that ambient music doesn’t sell!” “No, that’s not true,” Hendrix is quick to correct. “There’s nothing ambient about anything that we did. We were trying to be cool, but the reality is that we didn’t know how to write songs. So we forced ourselves to write and the demo that we sent out got some good reviews from a little label called Twisted Nerve.” The pair decided then that it was probably time they got a proper band together and so they recruited Hendrix’s ﬂat mate Cory Suter on drums, who in turn introduced them to Nick Ley, who took up keys and brought in Colin Fleishacker on bass. But a series of disagreements ended in Suter leaving and Ley taking over drumming duty. “We couldn’t work together anymore,” explains Hendrix of Suter’s departure. “We fought all the time, constantly, and he was an amazing guy, but just crazy. He was the guy who would say, ‘I’m the greatest drummer in Stillwater’ and mean it.” All this, however, was way back in 2005, which begs the question, why has it taken so long for their debut album to get released? “Good question,” Ley ﬁnally pipes up. Until now he’s been brooding at the edge of the sofa in silence, broken only occasionally to tease Turner about his English accent. “We like to pretend we’re him when he was a little kid,” grins Fleishacker while Ley and Hendrix mimic a young Turner asking his mummy and daddy for noodles before falling about in ﬁts of giggles. “I get this all day long,” sighs Turner in faux-exasperation. But getting back to the album, Hendrix justiﬁes that “it’s not for us to say. It’s about working with a good label to promote the band and do the marketing stuff.
C O L O U FORGET CONCEPT ALBUMS; It’s all about connections and it’s real easy to be taken for a ride. A lot of people like to release records on their own, but I still don’t think it’s a good idea.” Eventually the group started working with Scott Booker – the man who also manages fellow Okies The Flaming Lips – and they set about recording ‘My ___ is Pink’ in a shop in the business district of Stillwater, OK. “Because it’s downtown, you can make as much noise all night as you like, there’s no-one living there.You could never do that in London, it would be a pain in the arse,” notes Turner, while Ley informs us that they’ve never recorded in a studio. “The best place we had was this carpenters union,”he enthuses.“It was a giant gymnasium with a stage built into it and it had a control room. I think it was built to be a recording studio at some point but had been used for various other things. But we got bought out by some dude who teaches Kung Fu.”
Taking inﬂuence from the colour pink for the record, the guys also drew inspiration from Iggy Pop and sex. “We all agree that ‘The Idiot’ was a great record,” Hendrix raves, “because it exposed ugliness, but in a powerful way.We were also really interested in how you think about the tempos and the shape of sex, so there is a lot of undulation in the way that chords are expressed – that was a big inﬂuence on us and it still is. We’re working on another record right now and that’s still part of the sound.” Here he attempts to express it to us by making heaving, regurgitating noises. “That’s what it sounds like when we have sex,” laughs Ley, before joining Hendrix in the odd noises. The idea of this writhing organism is deﬁnitely portrayed throughout the LP. The track ‘Dolphins and Unicorns’ is a series of layered, echoing primal yells paired with wah-wahing guitars – representing an
R M U S I C THIS IS A CONCEPT BAND animal-esque ecstasy, while ‘The Little Death (In Five Parts)’ is angrier, with seriously scuzzy, Death From Above 1979-styled riffs and almost terrifying cries. The traditional song structures of their EPs have been replaced with a continuously evolving sound that doesn’t stop just because the track changes. It feels like one big audible progression, rather than 14 little ones. And as for the innovative title, well, that’s something that Hendrix describes best. “We spent quite a lot of time trying to come up with the name,” he begins. “The negative space is all about your interpretation of it. I actually wanted to call it ‘The Man Who Had Nipples’ because the male nipple is our only indication we could have been women, you know what I mean?”Turner informs us that Hendrix originally suggested ‘My Blank is Pink’ as a joke. “See, I never heard it as a joke,” admits Ley. “Anyway,” continues
Hendrix, “so, I was all about the male nipple, and everyone said, ‘that’s stupid’. But it’s got male nipples in the photos” – their nipples – “For me, ‘My Nipple is Pink’ is the title.” “I like the idea of leaving it blank,” adds Turner.“Each person interprets every song they hear, every ﬁlm they see, everything in their own way. If somebody says to me,‘oh, I listened to your song and I think it means this’, I’m like, ‘fuck yeah! It didn’t mean that to me when I wrote it, but that’s amazing because you’ve taken it somewhere else.’ That’s probably the best compliment that could happen to your music.” One thing we’ve only touched the surface of is this idea of colour. Their collections may be themed, but how does it affect their writing process? “We have a vision of what we’re trying to create, sonically,” details Hendrix of their approach to music-making. “We start
with an idea of what the record is going to sound like.” Turner clariﬁes that they try and ﬁnd a “common ground”, a colour and a way of being creative with music by thinking outside of musical terms. “We don’t sit down and try and write what a colour is,” explains Fleishacker. “We pick a colour and think about what it means to us. Then we come up with key words and go from there by creating those key words musically.” “It’s really not that difﬁcult,” Hendrix assures us. “I mean, a lot of music producers do this. Asking what instruments we’re going to or not going to use, how we’re going to approach our view towards the songs. It’s just us producing ourselves, basically.” “It’s not like one of us comes up with lyrics to a song and a few chords that we ﬂesh out,” Fleishacker throws in. “It just doesn’t happen that way.” And as for the concept, Hendrix puts it down to an old buddy of his who wanted them to change their name to something with the word colour on the end of it and suddenly the idea of writing music based on colour lit a match in his head. “It just makes sense to me as a musician,” he gushes, “how a certain sound has a certain colour to it. But also, certain emotions have a certain colour to them. Take pink, the colour we’re playing around with right now – for us, pink is a very sexual colour. Obviously you can interpret it in different ways, but for us pink represents a very savage form of sexuality.” Originally, Turner tells us, they wanted to call themselves Colour, but a band in California had already nabbed it.“I like our name,” Hendrix defends,“but I can understand how it doesn’t make sense to people after they hear our kind of ragged music. The word colour has happy, quirky connotations – qualities that we had, I guess, when we ﬁrst started. But it’s not the kind of band we are now.” Having come from a fairly musical background collectively, the interesting thing about Hendrix as a frontman is that he’s never been in a band before. “The only public performance I did before I was in the band was when I was running for student council president in Piedmont, Oklahoma, and I played guitar instead of making a speech. I won by a landslide,” he beams, but at the mention of his hometown he faltered. “Piedmont, where I’m from, is in the headlines at the moment,” he starts, “because it just got completely destroyed by a tornado and my childhood home is smashed. It’s true. I’m really depressed right now,” he says to the ﬂoor.“I’ve actually been crying all morning thinking about it. I’ve never even seen a tornado – it’s always when I leave that really bad stuff happens.” Here, Hendrix reveals that in a way to avoid touring he’s thought about another group of people with beards posing as Colourmusic.“In a lot of ways I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” he ponders. “Especially in the States, because it’s so boring. Twenty-three hours of the day you’re not doing anything and then you’re on stage. Part of me would like to bypass that 23 hours and just get to the meat of it.” For now, however, they’ve got their minds set on the next album, which will be dealing with the colour purple. “We really want it to come out this time next year,” states Fleishacker, but this isn’t something that they intend to do annually. “I don’t know if we’ll be a band that people will want to follow forever,” interjects Hendrix soberingly. “Because when we ﬁnish, we’ll want to wipe the slate clean and start over as a band. I don’t know if fans will stick around for that. That’s the reason for the colour concept – we wanted to change colours with the records because it forces us to change what we’re doing.”With this in mind, you might want to hop on the Colourmusic wagon and see them while you still can, but be sure to check it’s not just any old group of men with beards.
NO ONE ELSE HAS A NAME LIKE PHOTOGRAPHER -
Sat on the grass, outside Leeds’ Leftbank venue, the sounds of gentle acoustic guitars wafting out the doors, it feels like the ﬁrst day of Summer, or the last day of school, which for guitarist Gwilym Sainsbury it kind of is.This week he’s completed his Art Degree. There’s a relaxed feeling surrounding the band with the unusual name, as they are about to embark on something new. Preparing to leave Leeds behind for leafy courtyards of Cambridge or to chance their arm in the big leagues of London, their ﬁnal destination is yet to be conﬁrmed. For now though we settle down to the serious business of the science behind their song writing and why they are deﬁnitely not ‘geek chic’. Affable frontman Joe Newman ﬁrst met ‘Gwil’ in their ﬁrst year at Leeds University, before joining up with fellow student Gus Unger-Hamilton on keyboards, with drummer Thom Green completing the line-up. Previously playing under the name FILMS, having ﬂirted brieﬂy with the name Daljit Dhaliwal (after the Al-Jazeera newscaster), they only recently changed their name to , which is what you get when you hold down alt and J on your computer keyboard. It follows a series of mishaps leading to them being mistaken for South Carolina garage band The Films, most recently at local festival Live at Leeds. Gwil shrugs at me, resigned.“We knew that might be a problem long-term,” he confesses, “but when the Live at Leeds publication came out, they’d taken the bio from The Films and put it on ours. I think we then realised that that could carry on happening. “We’ve always had a bit of a thing about triangles,” he continues, especially Joe. [A love he pays tribute to in ‘Tessellate’, with the line “triangles are my favourite
shape”]. It just happened that I was trying to make a triangle on my computer.You press alt-J on the keyboard and you get a little symbol called a Delta sign, so from now on our band name is that Delta sign, but we refer to ourselves as ‘alt-J’.” I mention the hours, or at least many minutes I spent, tongue between teeth, trying to get it to appear on my lowly PC. Gwil smiles the slightly patronising grin of the knowledgeable. “Ah, it only works on Macs.” Setting themselves apart from the prevailing local hardcore/metal scene with their minimal style, are divided by their differing tastes in music. Where they come together is with a shared passion for Radiohead, former Leeds band The Peppermint Lounge and tastes that mix ﬁne art with the more lowly appeal of TV and Film; naming songs after classic thriller Leon as well as ‘The Gospel of John Hurt’, about the unfortunate chap in Aliens who has a creature burst though his chest. Of these, the most compelling is the heart-breaking fragile strum and stuttering beats of ‘Matilda’, dedicated to Leon’s other main character. “I’ve been heavily inﬂuenced by cinema throughout my life,” explains Joe. “I originally wanted to write all my songs about ﬁlm and have that novelty, but as I’ve developed I’ve got more self-involved and started writing about break-ups and being beaten up. [Gwil mocks in the background, “Boo-hoo!”] So it’s gone down the more traditional path, but I haven’t retired the idea of doing more ﬁlmbased music.” Recently they’ve been busying themselves recording tracks available on their Soundcloud as free downloads, as well as spending time in Universal producer Charlie Andrew’s Shoreditch studios and nearer to home at
Subpark Studios. Despite all this, is still very much a “DIY band” that don’t own any amps and often resort to using Thom’s bongos instead of drum toms on stage, and this enforced minimal approach allows space for the intricate, brooding hip-hop beats of songs like ‘Tessellate’ to ﬂourish, with Joe’s voice veering from a dancing falsetto to a bassy rumble. “We don’t have a structural approach to song writing”, explains Gus. “We’re a bit cowboyish in that respect,” says Joe. “We’re not qualiﬁed songwriters, we’re just cowboys!” With the band’s odd name also comes an odd approach to photo shoots – they insist on not showing their faces. “When everything’s on Twitter and Facebook… I think it can be more of a powerful thing to hold something back,” says Gus. “We just don’t want to be looking down a lens, leaning against a building. I don’t want to see my face staring out of some blog.That would be horrible!” Trawling through reviews, the band’s sound has been compared to everything from Wild Beasts and Anthony Hegarty’s dreamy melancholy to Hot Chip style electro ‘geek-chic’. “That was pretty funny,” says Gwil. “Only two of us wear glasses!” “Yeah, geeks, I’m a jock!” laughs Joe. Instead, they’ve coined their own terms – ‘jump-folk’ and ‘trip-folk’ – although, even now they are unsure what it means. Gwil: “When you’re on a train and people ask, ‘So, you’re in a band.What do you play?’…” “It avoids saying, ‘well you’ve heard of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, well imagine Thom Yorke and this kind of beat…’” Gus trails off.“It was basically, like,‘don’t call us a genre.We’ll fuck you up and make up our own.”
Maybe it’s no coincidence that one half of pop-noir duo Husband – the bedroom producer and musical director Gianlorenzo – is called Giallo for short. The Italian horror genre most famously afﬁliated with Dario Argento is a tidy hook on which to peg the band’s lusty voodoo rock, which has more than a touch of the George A. Romero about it too. Their debut single, ‘Love Song’, lurches into view like a Zombie Pride parade, beating ﬂeshy drum skins with half-gnawed thigh bones and tapping dead-eyed rhythms on your skull, sending a short, sharp dose of the heebie-jeebies down your spinal cord. Picked up by Robot Elephant Records after the No Pain In Pop blog spotted their Myspace page, Husband’s output so far is minimal but striking. After putting out a couple of tracks backed with a handful of remixes and playing their ﬁrst live shows, they’re now back in Italy to work on more material and play a stretch of shows on their home turf over the summer, including a support slot with the rejuvenated Battles. Based in Bologna, Husband came to life when Giallo asked friend-of-a-friend Chiara to lend her voice to a few songs he was creating at home.The Italian-Australian singer was more used to being on the other side of the stage as an organiser of the electronic music festival Dancity, held in a medieval town in Umbria. “It’s been quite chaotic because I’ve been learning how to play the drums and how to use my voice, pretty basic,” Chiara tells me, speaking from the Venice Biennale. So while Giallo is the bedroom-bound producer, spending long hours obsessing over organ dynamics or percussion ﬁlls, Chiara seems to be able to step in with
fresh ears and call time on the incessant tweaking.“Being an artist and being more into your own music, it’s not like you spend a lot of time listening to other people’s music,” she says, “you spending time trying to perfect your own. I think sometimes Giallo gets obsessed too much with certain things and I’m able to say, ‘no, that’s ﬁne’, or, ‘I think you should work more on that.’” The songs are dense, weighty and layered. “I’ll start with a line of drums or voices, then try to add something,” explains Giallo rather vaguely of what the writing process is like. “But at the end the usual thing I do is to erase things, a lot of things, and that’s the way I like it because I record at home in my room, so I have the time to understand what I really want from a song, to focus and redo a song, and sometimes change it completely.” It must be tricky translating that to a live performance though. “Basically we just play very little,” he says. “We have synthesisers and a sampler, and a ﬂoor tom and snare. That’s because we are only two people, and also the elements in the songs are sometimes very basic.” “I’ve never had a musical experience before,” Chiara adds. “I’ve never been part of a band.” Bologna itself sounds like something of a musical hotspot, with its own small indie scene and a variety of venues, but Italy, unlike France, especially, has not always been a country it’s easy for bands to break out of and reach an international audience. “I think that things are changing because we are becoming more conscious of ourselves, of our music,” says Giallo. “Italy used to follow other music and trends that came from outside, but now we are just trying to be
more personal, taking from the outside but also giving something to the outside. And I think a lot of bands are now coming out of Italy.” Chiara agrees that something exciting is happening in Italian music right now, as the scene looks both inwards and outwards, triggered by the turbulence of contemporary Europe. “We are in a strange moment, culturally. I think we are breaking some boundaries. There’s probably less people trying to emulate things outside, but at the same time that coincides with people being more open to an international experience. Strangely it’s a good moment for Italian music, even though there’s the economic crisis and Berlusconi and all that. Music is a kind of a reaction to it. A lot of people are doing things artistically because they need to do them, they need to make a statement.” So what exactly is Husband’s statement? “It’s certainly not straightforward pop, even if there are pop elements to it,” says Chiara, as though the shamanistic spookiness of their output so far was only a hop and skip away from ‘California Gurls’. Another EP and a debut album are said to be in the pipeline after a summer spent playing and writing, but Giallo adds that UK performances are likely in early Autumn. He says: “We are very happy and excited about it because when we went there it was amazing.” Chiara agrees. “I’m really hoping to meet great bands and have a great experience,” she says. “The best scenario would be to keep going the way it has been up to now, and get a good album out.” With the undead forces they’ve roused through those graverobber rhythms, Husband will no doubt ﬁnd it harder to put the black magic back in its box.
H U S B A N D TERROR TECHNO FROM THE NORTH OF ITALY PHOTOGRAPHER -
ess than two years ago, Washed Out (née Ernest Greene) was talking to Pitchfork about a forthcoming cassette release and how he wasn’t going to bother with touring. The buzz that followed was loud enough to have been the sound of the universe chuckling at this moment of dramatic irony. Tracks like ‘Feel It All Around’ and ‘Belong’ got the internet so steamed-up that people started trying to combine ‘blog’ and ‘synth’ in one term, like blogability was now a parameter of sound itself and that Greene was Hip Priest at the shotgun wedding of music and broadband. Though the knowingly obnoxious ‘chill-wave’ emerged as the winning term, the idea stuck that these blurred snapshots of electronic afterglow were The Sound of Now. That, prior to even a ﬁrst LP, could understandably derail any recording career. It’s turned ‘Within and Without’ into a ‘difﬁcult second album’ without it even being one – the pressures upon the record to justify itself to a large and expectant audience are somewhat beyond those of your average ﬁrst attempt. Happily for Ernest Greene, his debut is surprising and possessed of a sharpened and mature tone; a ‘grower’ that has a lot more replay value than his EPs. It’s pretty much everything it had to be to avoid an annihilating backlash.What with it being such a big deal, we thought we’d get Greene to take us through it himself, outside a pub in Islington.
EG: “Like most of my songs, it’s very simple. There’s a little synth part that basically loops for the entire song and that’s the core of it I guess. What I love about it is I think the melody is really sad sounding. I felt like my previous work was kind of ﬂat and that there wasn’t much range of emotion. I wanted to have some up and downs to mirror my own kind of journey – for lack of better words – over the last couple of years. It’s a dreamcome-true to be able to do this, but it comes with a lot of pressures and that song, for me, was kind of dealing with some of the anxieties I was dealing with. I think that’s gonna be a fun song to play live because it’s a bit faster and at the end we jam a little bit. I have a band now. It’s me and four other guys, and it’s really fun to reinterpret the songs. We can kind of extend things and make decisions on the ﬂy, which is cool.”
EG: “So,‘Before’ is the 6th Track. I’ve said this a number of times: I’m a huge hip-hop fan, it’s always been a kind of inﬂuence on what I do, but I think ‘Before’ is deﬁnitely the biggest, bassiest hip hop beat that I’ve done. It wasn’t something that I set out to do at ﬁrst, but when I ﬁrst started listening to electronic music I was really into down-tempo stuff. This record, on some unconscious level, started to use a lot of those sounds and, to me, ‘Before’ is very ‘90s in a way.That’s the beautiful thing to me about music or at least the way I approach music: it’s not the particulars that matter, it’s about vibes and that sort of thing.”
03. AMOR FATI EG: “The third track ‘Amor Fati’ was one we struggled with. I love pop music and I can’t think of many choruses to my songs that are as pop as that, but I was scared of going too far in that direction – where it kind of loses emotional value. On the mixing level we spent a lot of time tweaking things in order to get that right, otherwise that song happened really quickly. My writing ritual is very mindless – I just sit down on a computer and I have a loop playing and I’ll just start adding layers. That song came together in a matter of hours, which is a pretty good indication that it’s working. One of my favourites on the record.”
04. SOFT ES: “Now,‘Soft’ isn’t a rock song at all, but it reminds me
of My Bloody Valentine in a weird way.”
I’ve only slept ﬁve hours in the last three days so I’m a little bit spaced-out.” Edgar Smith: “Your new record seems more ‘together’ than your old stuff.” EG: “Well that was something I was concerned about. I’d never written a full-length forty-minute record before. The two EPs were just collections of tracks that sounded nice together. I wanted it to have a kind of narrative and it took me a long time to ﬁgure out how to do that. I had to limit myself with a certain pallet of sounds. I guess I’ll just go through the different tracks. So ﬁrst track…”
EG: “That’s exactly what I was going for. Before I was
ES: “Where’s the name from?” EG: “It’s from Herman Melville. I can’t think which of
his books it’s from but it’s this really cool passage. I’ve been meaning to like, tweet about it – ha! – to tip people off. I think it kind of captures what I was trying to do on a technical level, trying to write a much bigger sounding song.To me it’s very triumphant, especially the chorus at the end and that’s the type of song I’ve always wanted to write. I found this really cool synth sound, which is the main texture and then the little bridge section that builds is deﬁnitely a dance music reference. I’m a sucker for the big build-ups like that. I recorded demo versions in my studio and then booked ten days at a proper studio, in Atlanta where I live, with this producer Ben Allen. That song was the most fun because it was the ﬁrst track that we recorded together and it was his idea to have the rototoms.The big kind of Phil Collins-y thing.They just sound so massive, really loud and they cut through a mix really well.”
EG: “I wrote the song with Caroline Polachek from the band Chairlift. She came out to one of my shows in New York and I’d just got a commission to do this track for Adult Swim.Their idea was for me to ﬁnd someone to collaborate with so I asked her. I just happened to have a few days off while I was in New York. She has this little bedroom studio and her boyfriend’s a producer.We were all together and actually there’s a vocal loop throughout the song and it’s us three singing together which I think is kind of cool.The chorus is pretty big. It might be that, having played a year of live shows, you want choruses that people want to sing along to and these big build-ups really work. I don’t think I’d have written that song two years ago.”
08. WITHIN AND WITHOUT
Ernest Greene: “Please cut me off if I start to ramble!
01. EYES BE CLOSED
07. YOU AND I
doing Washed Out stuff I was doing more soundscape-y stuff. Washed Out is very much a pop project, but I like the idea of taking from the avant-garde and presenting it in that pop format. The beautiful thing about the soundscape stuff is getting lost in it as it’s so drawn out and it’s hard to do that in four minutes so it’s a challenge; that could’ve been a ﬁfteen-minute track easy. There’s this pedal that we used to do the little soundscape-y part at the beginning, umm what’s it called? Fuck, I can’t remember it, but, uh, it’s a delay pedal, which has this setting that’s like Crystal Something. It basically makes anything you send through it sound like an orgasm. I think Deerhunter use it a lot on their stuff, so after Ben was working with them he went out and bought one. It’s a really amazing little piece of equipment but they’re ﬁve/six-hundred dollars, so I haven’t got one yet.”
05. FAR AWAY ES: “‘Far Away’ sits in the middle of the record and feels
a lot like a centrepiece. I think it might be my favourite.” EG: “I’d never written a song like that and certainly had never written any string parts before. I had written that part with MIDI strings, which has a quality of its own, but it wasn’t right for the song. It’s got more acoustic instrumentation. Like, obviously the strings, but there’s some xylophone parts and I really enjoy the bass parts, one big thing I was trying to avoid was using too many sequenced basses.That’s something I can’t stress enough – I wanted the record to be really balanced and I didn’t want it to be like a dance record with the drums too heavy or too much synth bass.”
EG: “Initially this was gonna be the end of the record. There were a couple of other tracks that ended up getting cut and this was originally going to be the ending but it didn’t feel right.To me it’s the darkest song on the record and I didn’t like the idea of it ending like that. I really like the little drone-y bit at the end. Again, I like getting lost in music like that, and on some level it is an ending because the last track is…” ES: “…an epilogue?”
09. A DEDICATION EG: “…that’s what it’s meant to be. I knew that it didn’t
feel right until I recorded that really quickly in my bedroom studio after we ﬁnished working. Actually, I ﬁnished it the day before the record was gonna be sent to be mastered.As far as the lyrical content, it’s dedicated to my friends and family who’ve had to deal with me while working on the record. It was something I kind of obsessed over and I wasn’t a very pleasant person to be around most of the time. I was scared that it was going to feel out of place but I kind of like the idea of it sounding out of place. I love playing the piano and a lot of the time I then bring the synthesizers in, but it falls in line with what I was talking about, trying to include more acoustic instruments to give it more life.’ ES: “And when’s it out?” EG: “I believe July 12th.”
W A S H E D O U T ...REVIEWS HIS OWN RECORD, WITH THE HELP OF EDGAR SMITH PHOTOGRAPHER -
P A B L O T H E C R E A T O R
2011 P R I M AV E R A SOUND _
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRIMAVERA SOUND, AS TOLD BY ONE OF ITS FOUNDERS WRITER -
Pablo Soler is one of three founding directors of Primavera Sound. I ﬁnd him sat at the bar of The Hotel Princess, Barcelona, on the second day of this year’s festival. It’s an exciting place to be, and a convenient one for anyone wishing to chat with some of the world’s best alternative bands – almost all of the 200 acts billed currently occupy the twenty-ﬁve ﬂoors above us; most of them are sat outside in the sun.When I ask Pablo how he is he puffs out his cheeks. “Well, there were those problems with the cards,” he says. “That’s all totally sorted now, but it still hurts, y’know?” He’s referring to an idea brilliant in theory, but spectacularly ﬂawed in the real world, as it proved to be last night. It involved 30,000 people charging their plastic festival passes with drinks tokens, only for a vast majority of the card scanners to die, leaving us broke, thirsty and in a massive queue. Cash bars were opened, but it was no use – all of our Euros where trapped in these plastic rectangles. But that was yesterday, and it’s surprising how quickly a Flaming Lips live show can make you feel drunk and cry. A rare blemish on the festival’s eleven-year history, it makes it all the more frustrating for Pablo, who has worked on Primavera since he conceived the idea with Alberto Guijarro and Gabi Ruiz in 2001. “Gabi had been working on Benicassim,” he explains, “and in 2000, after working on that for a few years, he wasn’t happy with what was going on, so we sat down and said: ‘Let’s try and do something in Barcelona. We are not going to have camping, and that’s going to be a handicap for us.’ That was what was against us at the start, but you can get a cheap hotel room in Barcelona, and slowly it worked.” It’s turned out to be one of Primavera’s key selling points. Your average tent at Glastonbury reaches 200 degrees by 6am; in Barcelona, campers would be boiled by breakfast. “I can still remember the ﬁrst one,” Pablo continues. “It was one day and it was small – like 3,000 people – and that made sense.We were looking for somewhere to do a bigger thing, but while we were waiting we thought we’d do a smaller event. It was good for us and allowed
us to realise that we shouldn’t focus so much on DJs.” In 2001 Primavera’s big names were UNKLE and Armand Van Helden. Pablo now laughs at the latter. They were followed in ’02 by Pulp and Spiritualized. “2004 was the ﬁrst real success,” says Pablo, citing the ﬁrst appearance of Pixies as a turning point that saw the festival sell out and suddenly be in need of a bigger site. Across town by Barcelona’s port, Parc del Forum had been built for an event called “Cultural Forum of The World, or something like that”, in a hope to recapture the excitement created by the 1992 Olympic Games. After six months, the site – which resembles a series of futuristic, distopian, slanted car parks – lay baron. “We realised that no one was going to use this space, because it’s too big. Now, what they do here is a south of Spain regional festival, which is recreated here in Barcelona, and us – we’re the only two who use it all year.” Primavera’s closest rival is Benicassim, although that’s a bit like saying that Bestival goes tooth and nail with V every year. Benicassim is close enough to the city to be considered a Barcelona festival by us Brits, yet far enough inland for it to be uncomfortably hot, with or without a tent. Its lineup veers more towards radio-friendly unitshifters, and Anglo-centric ones at that. There’s the
electro-heavy Sonar too, also in Barcelona, although Pablo seems less concerned by them. “Sonar and us, we’re ok,” he says.“We share Barcelona and we’re pretty close in the schedule, and they really have a professional team that do something really different. I don’t believe we have a clash with them at all. Benicassim… I’m glad you’ve asked. There’s more of a clash there, but, for instance, PiL played Benicassim last year and there was 200 people watching the show. PiL played here yesterday and there was 20,000 people watching the show. In ’96/’97/’98 they focussed on indie bands, but they’ve stayed with that, and it’s become a very British festival now – at least some of the lineup is aimed at the British consumer. And for that reason, we’re not ﬁghting with them, because Primavera isn’t anti-British or for British. We all have really different approaches and we have good relations because we almost don’t have any relations.” Last year Pixies returned to Primavera, and Pulp were back this time to play their ﬁrst show in nine years. It’s become a musician’s festival as much as it has one for ‘serious music fans’ who fancy a grander ATP in the sun. Shortly after Primavera 2010, I interviewed Tim Burgess. We spoke more about the festival than we did The Charlatans. “It’s just the best one out there,” he said. “It was them that gave us the idea of performing the whole of ‘Some Friendly’. It doesn’t matter that they can’t pay you as much as other festivals – bands just want to play there, with that lineup, by the sea, and with that weather.” An hour after speaking with Pablo, Merrill Garbus – aka tUnE-yArDs – simply says: “It’s not every show you get put up like this,” while gazing around the hotel’s lobby. “That’s the most important thing that we’ve learned in ten years,” says Pablo, “the bands you’re working with have to be happy. If they have a good time they’ll want to come back, and they’ll tell their friends to come and play Primavera. We just need to learn that we’re no longer making a festival for, like, 7,000 people. We’ve always tried to do everything ourselves, and sometimes we need to realise we need some help. Take those cards for instance…” Pablo puffs out his cheeks.
_ 2011 P R I M AV E R A SOUND _
B A T T
ALL ABOARD THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: THE BITTER DEPARTURE OF TYONDAI BRAXTON PHOTOGRAPHER -
Observing how bands part with errant members always makes for a good spectator sport.When Oasis dispensed with dim-witted “rhythm” guitarist Bonehead’s services in February 1999, the ever-reliable Noel Gallagher famously told the assembled press corps to “relax, it’s hardly Paul leaving the Beatles!” Equally revealing, the ﬁnal words Bernard Butler reportedly uttered to Brett Anderson before the histrionic guitarist stormed out of even-more-histrionic Suede were simply, “you’re a fucking cunt”. With Oasis, it was classic northern selfdeprecating humour. With Suede it was high-drama, pouting passion – both reactions apt for the band concerned. With Battles, of course, it’s complicated. But forget all the muddled press statement diplomacy; what you need to know is that Tyondai Braxton, their helium-voiced robot singer who was also both visually and musically the band’s most distinctive member, is out. The ofﬁcial line is that he wanted to devote more time to his solo career, but the truth appears to lie closer to the fact that he’d grown apart from the rest of the band and, bluntly, didn’t want to play with them anymore. “Look, he didn’t want to tour! And that was a major thing for us,” explains guitarist Dave Knopka, sitting with his bandmates on the roof garden of a tall, luxurious but soulless hotel in Barcelona overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the afternoon before they’re due to perform at Primavera Sound. He’s trying to sound diplomatic, but managing more a combination of pissed off and saddened. “We were trying to make it happen with him and ﬁgure out how to deal with it, but what were we going to do? Cater to his exclusive needs when the three of us want to go fucking tour?” “He wanted to turn it into a kind of weird tiny side project,” adds drummer John Stanier.“He wanted Battles to become this thing that only records and maybe will play some shows, possibly, once a year or whatever. And we were just like, ‘what the fuck?’We’ve just spent eight years building up to the thing we’re at now, so it was a little hard to take.” “He had no sense of what was really going on,” remembers Knopka apologetically. “We’d be recording separately and then meet up in the control room, and there were times when we’d all be really surprised to hear each other’s parts. It was just bizarre vibes with Ty. And when ﬁnally we felt like we were close to ﬁnishing
L E S
the new album, he totally withdrew himself and was like, ‘I’m out’.” And so out went Braxton, and in came, well, nothing. The remaining three members of Battles – Knopka, Stanier and guitarist/keyboard player Ian Williams – returned to the studio in August to re-record as a threepiece the album they neared ﬁnishing in quartet form, but instead of ﬁlling in the holes left by their exbandmate, they wallowed in them, and embraced and moulded them.“Creating space in our music was a thing we always wanted to do,” explains Williams.“But because there was four of us…” he tails off, as if wary of badmouthing an ex.“It’s just a case of simple mathematics – there’s one less person now, so we can achieve more space.” The resulting record, ‘Gloss Drop’, is wonderfully spacious – a deep, undulating affair as expansive as it is intense. It begins with brooding swells and ripples and ﬁnishes with a booming piece of electronic dub, with cavernous echo all over. Where its predecessor, ‘Mirrored’, was one of the most distinctive debuts of the past ten years, pulverising you with its dense, deliciously deviant sound somewhere between madcap classic cartoon soundtracks and the blackened virtuosity of heavy metal, ‘Gloss Drop’ is full of crannies and codas that allow a breath and a thought. It still retains the touchstones of Hanna-Barbera zaniness and doubledistorted guitars but, crucially, without Braxton, Battles have made a very different – but just as compelling – record. And in that sense, the loss of Braxton was perhaps the best thing to happen to Battles. In short, it directly prevented them from recording more of the same, which is the natural recourse of so many bands trying to write album number two. It forced them, having lost their most immediately unique element, to change tack. It also allowed the remaining bandmates to channel into one concentrated pot all the anxiety and problems surrounding their progress so far. The traditional and well-documented Second Album Syndrome – the oftfelt frustration of a band not quite clicking as once they did, the magniﬁcation of little niggles into massive problems, the sudden time pressures and label intervention – was already rife in Battles’ camp following the success of ‘Mirrored’: “It was a difﬁcult working environment when Ty was on board, it was really weird for all of us,” explains Knopka. “We got to the stage where we were like,‘we’re trying to get this shit together and I guess this is gonna be good enough’, but really, if we were honest, it just wasn’t happening.Then, when he left, we were like, ‘fuck’.” A sense of relief peppers Knopka’s voice as he swears. “It was the most deﬁnite setback we could have had, and that’s when we realised we have to keep moving on because he’s not the most…” he tails off again, like Williams did earlier. “Because this band is ours,” he corrects himself.“And we don’t want to lose it.” There’s a moment’s silence while Knopka’s bandmates absorb his rousing analysis. Stanier concludes: “I think basically we became three people who wanted to be in a band without other people locking themselves in rooms.”And now, without Braxton, that’s exactly what they’ve got. Twelve hours after the interview ends, Battles take the stage at Primavera Sound. “There’s an art to performing at four in the morning,” says Stanier, his brow furrowed with authority.“You don’t start drinking
P R I M AV E R A S O U N D 2 0 1 1
until 3am – any earlier and you’re toast”. Watching him perform, it’s clear why he needs to maintain his sharpness. Battles’ live show is less like three individual musicians and more like a one many-tentacled sea creature pushing a million squelching buttons at once. Loops pop in and out of time like hyper-extensive limbs and guest vocalists from the new album appear and disappear on two giant screens behind them. The three are constantly communicating, nodding, staring, raising eyebrows and bobbing their heads as one. It is bright and it is loud and within minutes of starting there are pints of sweat on each of them. And it looks like hard work, too: behind the pounding and awesomely solid sound of Stanier’s drums there’s a patchwork of parts being bound together so frantically that it suggests Battles are only about four bars ahead of their audience in terms of knowing what’s about to happen. Williams agrees: “None of how this record turned out, or how we’re playing live now, none of it is planned. I think the circumstances of its creation led us here, and this is just the sound of our reﬂexes.” Occasionally there is a gross screw-up: a loop goes in where it shouldn’t and makes everything crackle (in a bad way), and roadies frequently rush onto the stage to restart machinery which isn’t behaving itself.“We’re still totally in the learning process,” admits John. “But honestly, we were so late with this record, and it was such a difﬁcult thing to do, and we were in such a negative place that we just had to react to stuff. It was like, ‘this is a horrible situation we’re in right now, the band and our personal lives blah blah blah,’ and we weren’t even considering how we were going to pull it off live. And then we had like two and half weeks to learn how to play all this stuff...” “It’s pretty obvious that we’ve got a lot of stuff to do on stage this time around,” explains Williams,“But at the same time we’re ﬂamboyantly ﬂaunting that there are three of us now.” But despite the slightly frenzied sense of ﬂying by the seat of their pants, it’s undeniable that Battles look good as a trio, and play feverishly well. If anything, their togetherness has sharpened without Braxton, who maybe always had his mind elsewhere, and now that LCD Soundsystem are no more, Battles are possibly the tightest live act on the planet, in terms of blurring the boundary between the programmed and the performed. “There’s a lot of freshness going on,” explains Knopka. “We’re constantly trying to keep up with the demands that our brains come out with, which is pretty difﬁcult when not everyone is fully invested in the group. I’m enjoying being in this band more than ever before.”
never easy to talk positively about a ﬁnished relationship when its dissolution is so obviously accompanied by such a newfound sense of freedom, relief and positivity. Throughout the interview all three of the band visibly clam up when the topic is raised about how they feel about Braxton now – hands are plunged into pockets to withdraw and check phones, eye contact is lost, thumbs are twiddled. Would they have him back in the band, after all that’s happened? At ﬁrst, Williams avoids the question, staring
into the middle distance: “We’re having fun with what we’re doing right now,” he says, equivocally. But if Braxton admitted he’d made a terrible mistake? There’s a long pause. “I don’t think we can incorporate him into the band anymore,” says Williams, ﬁnally and carefully. “We’ve already toured the world and played those songs a million times. It’s the end of that era.” “You snooze you lose,” adds Stanier, with no little apologetic smile. But Williams does his best to play down any idea that the trio might be angry with Braxton, or resentful of how he treated them: “Ah, y’know, it’s a new era, it is what it is.We don’t miss the past.We weren’t best friends with Ty before Battles, so y’know, there’s no hard feelings. He’s doing what he’s doing, it’s cool. We don’t see him much, but we’ve been kinda busy.” He pauses again, and looks up. “You can make a positive or a negative out of it, and we’re trying to utilise all of the differences to make the best of the situation.” Maybe it’s working, too – after all, ‘Gloss Drop’ doesn’t immediately sound like the work of a band who’ve had a horribly stressful year. Indeed, with its gleeful keyboard squelches and samba grooves, it’s deﬁnitely a record with a smile on its sleeve. Stanier agrees: “Some people have been saying it sounds like it was recorded in Jamaica and we were jet skiing everyday and it was this awesome situation.’” (It does, too – there’s a speedy, thrilling major key boggle-eyed enthusiasm to the whole thing.) “But that’s totally by accident,” he continues. “I mean, we took a negative situation and subconsciously turned it into a positive situation. We had to instantly reinvent ourselves and, working on instinct that’s just what came out.” Konopka elaborates:“I think we were very consciously trying not to air our dirty laundry on this album. I mean, we didn’t want to be in Barcelona in May playing some bummed out song about how it sucked to be in the studio last year. It was less about lulling in the negative, more about rising above this shit, and making it ours.” “And if there’s a worse kind of song than ‘my girlfriend made me sad’,” adds Williams, “it’s ‘my bandmate made me sad’.” Everyone laughs. There then follows a long anecdote about Williams getting a black eye playing Frisbee and being dressed up in drag for an after show party.At another point, Knopka jokes that the best thing about becoming a three-piece is that he’s got a “promotion to the front of the stage” when they play live. “These guys have given me a company car, too”, he adds, as his bandmates smile. Indeed, for all the serious discussion about music and their obvious reluctance to talk about losing Braxton, it’s also very clear that as a group, Battles are very much enjoying life – they crack in-jokes among themselves, give comedy responses to questions, and feel as relaxed as three old friends. There’s a sense of satisfaction between them about coming through this past year stronger and, perversely for a band that’s been around for eight years, Battles could well stake a claim to be one the best new bands of 2011, so refreshed is their sound and their outlook. Unwittingly, ironically, and actually pretty fortunately, Braxton’s desire to do his own thing has renewed and regenerated his old band more than any of his crazy vocals might ever have done. And who really needs a singer anyway?
MAN DOWN: BANDS WHO’VE LOST MEMBERS Band: The Beatles Man down: Paul McCartney, April 1970 Reason: Hatred of his bandmate What happened next: Paul puts out his debut solo album a week after publicly quitting, and the week before The Beatles release their final and worst record, ‘Let It Be’. The band have long since quit playing live and Macca eventually begins legal proceedings against the rest of the Beatles on New Year’s Eve 1970. Band: Blur Man down: Graham Coxon, June 2002 Reason: Kicked out for boozing and not turning up to recording sessions What happened next: A year later Blur release an average record, ‘Think Tank’, with virtually no Graham on it, and then go on hiatus. Coxon gets dry and learns to play folk guitar. Band: REM Man down: Bill Berry, March 1997 Reason: The desire to become a farmer What happened next: Michael Stipe declares that “a threelegged dog is still a dog – it just has to learn to walk differently.” Accordingly, REM plod on, making increasingly lifeless records (six since Berry left). Meanwhile, the man who wrote ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘Man on the Moon’ continues to tend his farm. Band: The Velvet Underground Man down: John Cale, February 1968 Reason: Musical differences What happened next: With Cale out, and taking his violadriven drone nonsense with him, Lou Reed pisses all over the Velvets’ legacy as irksome avant-garde noiseniks by writing two melodic pop albums, including the classic rock-infused ‘Loaded’. Band: Battles Man down: Tyondai Braxton, August 2010 Reason: Desire not to tour. What happened next: Battles extract Braxton’s parts from their nearly-finished album, toss them in the bin and start “flamboyantly flaunting” the fact that they’re a three-piece. The metamorphosis is a triumph.
_ 2011 P R I M AV E R A SOUND _
M O O N D U O
IN A SUICIDE/BIG BOI SANDWICH PHOTOGRAPHER -
“We were losing our minds earlier,” says Sanae Yamada. “On one side of our trailer is Suicide’s and on the other is Big Boi’s.When Big Boi showed up, we lost it.” You’d expect sharing a stage with Suicide to be a big deal for San Francisco’s Moon Duo – their darkly sexy ‘Escape’ EP of last year particularly drew heavily from the organ drone of tracks like ‘Dream Baby Dream’ – but Big Boi? We didn’t see that coming. He’s up next, and there’s a good chance that he’ll be met by a few thousand zonked out faces still high on Sanae and Ripley Johnson’s endless psych jams. They left the stage half an hour ago. It was “totally just a great experience”. Earlier this year, the band featured on our Debut Albums We Most Want To Hear list, and in April they gave us ‘Mazes’.A stride away from their trippy, mumbled grooves it’s not, but nevertheless, it took us by surprise, sounding less industrial and proto-punk, and more straight up rock’n’roll. It deﬁnitely didn’t sound like it had been recorded in Berlin. “It’s funny,” ponders Ripley outside the band’s dressing room portakabin. “We had a working title, which was a German title – ‘De Blumen’, which means ‘the ﬂowers’, and we had a song called ‘Flowers’, and then when we ﬁnished the record ‘Flowers’ didn’t ﬁt with the others, so we were like,‘we can’t really call it ‘De Blumen’ anymore.’ And then we thought, we’re mixing it in Berlin and have recorded some of it in Berlin – this is just too… German! I mean, we’re not German people! Y’know, there’s all these albums like the Eno record, or Iggy Pop going to Berlin to make his record, and it wasn’t really that, because it ended up sounding very Californian. We wrote it in
California, so it’s not really surprising. So it wasn’t really our German record. Maybe we have one in us, maybe the next one, but this isn’t it.” In the end they called it ‘Mazes’ – a word that carries with it adventure,‘the journey’ and a sense of endlessness, all of which Moon Duo are fascinated by. It’s a perfect title for the searching music they make with a primitive drum machine, ’60s sounding keys and heaps of distorted, ﬂange guitar. “That’s an interesting point,” says Ripley, “but no. I mean, ‘Mazes’ comes more from… as I was saying, it’s a very San Francisco record, and very thematically it’s a record about moving on, because we were about to move. And that song is really about making decisions in your life and where they lead you.Y’know, life is kinda like… I don’t want to say ‘a maze’, because that sounds really cliché, but you have to ask, ‘am I going to go this way or this way…?’” “And you take some big risks,” says Sanae. “And you don’t know where they’re going to lead you.” Ripley: “Plus it just sounds good.” As was the case when we spoke with Ripley’s other band (Wooden Shjips) last year, the badger-bearded front man is careful to not sound too hippy, reigning himself in if he feels he’s getting too ‘out there’. As tags go, it’s one that goes hand in hand with his long hair, Bay Area zip code and the far out, pulsing grooves he makes in both of his projects. There’s an unquestionable (and likeable) spirituality to him and Sanae, though – he follows various Buddhist theories, while Sanae often describes things as “a positive experience”.The fact is, Moon Duo have got
a lot to be happy about right now – they’re currently the ﬁlling in a Suicide/Big Boi sandwich, and they’re touring the world as a dating couple. ‘Mazes’ is propelled by louche positivity too; far lighter than ‘Escape’, almost ‘pop’ in places. “People always say, ‘Oh I loved your ﬁrst thing,’” says Ripley. “That’s the classic thing, to say: ‘Their old stuff is great, but I dunno…’. When you’re a band who likes to change a little bit… I actually admire bands that never change, because it must take incredible discipline to never change your sound, and there’s very few bands who do that. Most bands like to change, and it’s always good if your audience will come with you on the journey, because, y’know, they might not like the latest one, but maybe the next one they will like. If you keep making albums that are good and worthy of people’s attention, and you’re doing something you’re serious about, people will come along for the ride. But the reception has actually been great for ‘Mazes’, because you’re right, a few of the songs are more pop, and that’s great because there are people who like pop music, who are most attracted to songs that are shorter and more concise.” By “concise”, Ripley means ﬁve-minutes-long instead of ten, so Moon Duo haven’t ceased to explore the hypnosis of repetition completely. Their songs are still there for us to get lost in; for us to soak up at their deafening live shows (“It’s important to be loud,” says Sanae. “It’s full on rock’n’roll!”), mouths open and eyes even wider, until someone like Big Boi turns us and slaps us out of it, which is exactly what he’s about to do. Ripley’s so excited to see him he runs to the stage.
T U R N E D O U T N I C E A G A I N A YEAR AGO WE FOUND TUNE-YARDS DAUNTED BY THE PROSPECT OF A DIY MUSICAL PROJECT ROCKETING OUT OF CONTROL. VIA THE VIOLENCE OF NEW ALBUM ‘W H O K I L L’, MERRILL GARBUS SEEMS OF HAVE CALMED HER NERVES PHOTOGRAPHER -
_ 2011 P R I M AV E R A SOUND _
errill Garbus is brand new to Spain. She’s never been before and since arriving four hours ago she’s spent two hours completing a thirty-minute drive and a further two hours asleep. Jetlag is to blame for one, while the other can be attested to the ongoing fuckedup state of the world, where the angry and disappointed are motivated to take to the streets. Today, following weeks of mass protests and acts of police brutality, the people of Barcelona are marching, and it’s playing havoc with the ﬂow of trafﬁc. In the lobby of The Hotel Princess – the kind of establishment that’s too pricey to pay for yourself, but not so posh that your trainers blush – it’s as if the thirtyone year old from New England is well rested, even though she isn’t. She runs to the bar to order a couple of bottles of water, but returns with just one. “I couldn’t
work out how to order two,” she says.“You can have this one.” Merrill is extremely easy to talk to, and photograph, it turns out – when she’s asked to stand in the hotel’s rooftop swimming pool she says,“Sure”, not,“Guys, I’ve had two hours sleep!”; when asked to climb a ladder, she does so in order to lower herself into a bin for a better shot. Sonically, at least, her second album, ‘W H O K I L L’, is equally as playful, full of endearingly skewed pop brick-a-brac loops similar to those that made up her 2009 debut, ‘BiRd-BrAiNs’. Beneath the innocent veneer there lurks a world of violence more ﬁtted to song titles like ‘Gangsta’, ‘Killa’ and Riotriot’, though. Blame it on the ongoing fucked-up state of the world,I guess,and Merrill’s relatively new neighbourhood, of which she says: “Oakland is a gritty city, and the energy of it has inﬂuenced the record. In fact, I don’t think the album or the recordings would have turned out the same way if I’d moved to anywhere other than there.” Merrill grew up in Massachusetts before living in Vermont as a puppeteer (“I had a sincere resentment towards puppets for a long time,” she told us of that experience last year), followed by a move to Montreal, where she lived for four years, joined and left a band, and began recording under the purposefully mistyped moniker ‘tUnE-yArDs’. She also spent time living in Africa with her uncle, which is where her love for tribal rhythms comes from. Merrill and her home country
have an odd relationship. She’s never totally sure how she feels about the United States of America. “I’ve just moved back after being out of the country for four years,” she says, “so it’s felt like this really important thing for me to go back and plunge into whatever ugly reality is there right now. I hate to say it, but I can imagine the country going in a direction where I just wouldn’t feel comfortable living there anymore. I wouldn’t want that to happen, but I can see that as a possibility.” California seems like the best place for her. “It’s its own version of America,” she says. “Much of America doesn’t think it ﬁts with the rest of the country and would like to see it fall off into the ocean. But if you’re in California you realise a sense of the American Dream in many ways. This dream of highways, LA and convertibles. It’s a very different America to the one I grew up in on the east coast, which is older and much more tied to England, actually.” ‘My Country’ – the opening track of ‘W H O K I L L’ – is loaded with swipes at the States, some plain and simple (My country, ‘tis of thee/Sweet land of liberty/How come I cannot see my future within your arms? chirps Merrill at the song’s opening), others more ambiguous, like, The worst things about living a lie is just wondering when they’ll ﬁnd out. It’s the record’s most memorable lyric, even if we’ve got no idea what or who it refers to. “That song is deﬁnitely a tug of war,” says Merrill. “I haven’t been asked about that line yet though, so thank
you for asking. With the lyrics that I write, often I want to keep them open so there can be multiple interpretations. Because I could damn my country and say, ‘The United States is… this… or living a lie, or whatever’, but when I wrote that line it made sense when it happened in my head on a number of levels. That line can apply to a country as much as it can to me or some people in my audience. But that song is funny because it’s a bit spastic with who it’s talking about.” ‘W H O K I L L’ bubbles on, taking in Beck’s white funk on ‘Es-So’, marching hip-hop drums through ‘Gangsta’, reggaeton by ‘Riotriot’ and ﬂurries of toy keyboards come ‘Bizness’. There’s a couple of ﬂeeting synths, but it’s largely a record made from acoustic instruments being frantically crammed together, like Merrill’s ukulele and the saxophones that make up her new brass section. It’s twee and weird and angelic and irregular, ﬁnally giving some use to that awful term ‘wonky pop’. It’s music that a toddler would lose it to, providing they don’t listen too carefully to Merrill’s yodelling vocals – Hear a scream, hear a sound in the dark of the night/But right or wrong I’m a new kind of killer (from ‘Killa’) are not for your average Tweenies fan. This is a record that, despite its obscure spacing, does have the word ‘kill’ in there. “The whole time through it was called ‘Women Who Kill’, in my mind,” says Merrill, gazing at the lobby ceiling.“That’s what fuelled me, and it was a very strong impulse that I had, and then when I told everyone what the album was called, a majority of people would go, ‘Really? Do you have to call it that?’ Because the songs really don’t…. I dunno. I see what people meant – that it felt kind of limiting to call it that, because I am a woman and I think a lot of the songs have to do with being a woman, but certainly you don’t have to be a woman to enjoy them. I hope you agree?” she asks. “A majority of people that I spoke to about it were people I love and trust, and they said that you’re basically limiting your audience by placing a gender on it. So then I was playing with how to write ﬁrst of all ‘Women Who Kill’, then ‘Cities Who Kill’ and ‘Who Kill’ was always squashed together, and my friend Alex who did the artwork said, ‘That’s your title, right there.’ What I like about it is that it becomes a nonsense word that still has a little bit of violence in it. It’s confrontation in an abstract way, which is a very tUnE-yArds thing. It’s not an Odd Future thing,” she laughs. A proud hip-hop fan, Merrill is “extremely curious to see Odd Future tomorrow night. I’ve not heard any of them yet,” she says,“but I’m very curious to see them. It’s just so scandalous!”
uch of my hour spend with Merrill involves recounting an interview she gave us last April. It was a transitional time, full of doubt and unease. On top of her new move to Oakland, the surprise success of ‘BiRd-BrAiNs’ had changed everything, simply because it had gotten record labels involved. Merrill had originally self-released her debut album, which “was recorded on something like what you’re holding,” she says, pointing at my crumby Dictaphone. Fans were asked to pay whatever they like, as if her homemade record, made largely from clanking household objects together, was some sort of church collection. It netted a thousand dollars and the attention of Portland indie label Marriage Records who then released a limited run of ‘BiRd-BrAiNs’ twelve-inches. It wasn’t until 4AD (the Beggars Group imprint home to the likes of Deerhunter, Bon Iver and The National) re-released the album (twice!) that Merrill started to question how much control she’d have of tUnE-yArDs from now on. Records labels, from my knowledge, don’t really like it when their artists allow fans to choose the price they pay for an album. Merrill agreed, but insisted on not ruling out the pay-what-you-like model when it came to releasing what would become ‘W H O K I L L’, regardless of if she put it our herself, continued working with 4AD or signed a new deal with another label. tUnE-yArDs did stick with 4AD, who had elevated the project to much greater notoriety through 2010. So? Did she discuss the commerce of her new record with them? “No,” she says,“and I’ll tell you why.There’s been this need for me to see how they do things. It took us a really long time to sign with the record label again, and throughout the recording of the album I hadn’t signed with anyone, so there was a sense of where is this album going to go. So I felt like I’d made them wait for a very long time for that decision and they’d put a lot into tUnE-yArDs over the past year, so in a way I just wanted to be like, ‘do what you do with this, and show me’, and maybe, once I’ve established myself over the next ﬁve
“WHEN I SOLD MY SONG TO BLACKBERRY, IT WAS LIKE ME KILLING THIS VERY PURIST PART OF MYSELF, AND IT SORT OF FELT GOOD”
years, I can be in a position to discuss that.” Merrill says she’s “currently choosing her battles”, and if there is one clear difference in how she now feels about tUnE-yArDs, it’s that she’s realised it’s now too big to be controlled by just her. “On a practical level, I don’t have the energy to do everything on my own now.” A self-confessed control freak who spent years as a puppeteer, manipulating marionettes, she doesn’t even say it through gritted teeth. Glastonbury Festival 2010 was a particularly rude awakening for Merrill. She describes it as “one of the most difﬁcult moments of last year for me,” a “growing pains moment.” With a new band (until then a tUnEyArDs live show consisted of Merrill sampling sounds live and looping them through pedals, like Feist) but no tour manager, sound man or help, she found Worthy Farm to be a daunting “medieval city of ﬂags,” which is a pretty accurate description of the place. By the time it came to recording ‘W H O K I L L’, it was clear that the days of recording an album on a twenty dollar Dictaphone were behind the project, so Merrill willingly (kinda) entered a proper studio for the ﬁrst time, not alone, but with her bassist Nate Brenner and sound engineer Eli Crews. tUnE-yArDs losing its sense of lo-ﬁ fun, musically, was Merrill’s next – and biggest – fear. But the album she came out with, while nowhere near as distorted and trashy as ‘BiRd-BrAiNs’, hardly sounds like a slick studio production. And that, in many ways, is down to the layers of found sounds and ﬁeld recordings (the sirens of ‘Gangsta’, the percussive use of children’s climbing frames) that Merrill considers sonic tools that connect tUnE-yArDs to the real world of the listener. “I hope the aesthetic is still the same cut-npaste, patchwork, do-it-yourself vibe [as on the last record],” she says,“but with more space to breathe. I was conscious not to make it sound like a band in a recording studio a long way away.” For two albums that couldn’t have been made more differently, ‘BiRd-BrAiNs’ and ‘W H O K I L L’ share a deﬁnite spirit. Merrill, with a little help, has made the transition from lower than lo-ﬁ to studio recording artist seem effortless.
“Well,” she ponders, “NO, I wouldn’t say it was difﬁcult. Someone said to me, ‘Y’know, you sort of whine a lot in your interviews,’ and it was true, because I found myself saying, ‘it was a really hard process,’ but the truth is, there’s hard and there’s hard – there’s struggling to get fresh water for your family and there’s making a fricking pop album. But it did feel like hard work, like a job, and my job was to stay true to my vision. I had to adjust to the studio, and Eli was very sensitive to me not wanting to hear a lot of reverb or anything. He could tell what my aesthetic was, so in that sense it was easy.”
t’s interesting, looking back at all of those things we spoke about last year,” says Merrill, shortly before we take the lift to the pool on the twenty-third ﬂoor (a trip that will have her approached by fellow Montreal band No Joy, a member of The Fresh & Onlys and a journalist with a video camera requesting an interview). One dread we failed to discuss last year, though, was that of evil, corporate sponsorship. It almost didn’t seem worth it – Merrill’s songs are too weird to sell things.The guys at BlackBerry didn’t seem to think so. They wanted ‘Fiya’ to ﬂog their latest handset, the Torch 9800, and they got it. It’s safe to say that Merrill didn’t bite their hand off for her song to appear on their TV commercial, though. It was a decision that she wrestled with then, and still does now, to some degree. “I was spending a lot of time with a musician friend of mine at the time, and I was like, ‘what do I do?’,” she explains, “because with those things you have to decide within a day or less. I mean, for me and my career it wasn’t going to ruin it if I got judged harshly for it, and it was not going to make my career, but for me it was a really hard choice. And my friend just suggested to me that I could give it all away.You can do good with that money. And I’d never thought of that. I thought, oh that’s selﬁsh, selling a song that means so much to a product that I don’t necessarily believe in.” Merrill did exactly what her friend suggested – she
took the money and dished it out. Some to female drum magazine Tom Tom; some to a rock’n’roll camp for girls in her local area; some to Haiti and Japan relief concerts. She also used a chunk to pay fairly the musicians that play with her and on her album, and BlackBerry’s cash also enabled her to pay Eli Crews to engineer ‘W H O K I L L’, because while pressed, marketed and released via 4AD, it was an album self-funded in its production. “I wouldn’t say I was pleasantly surprised,” continues Merrill, “but I was surprised at the effect that it had on me. It was like me killing this very purist part of myself, and it sort of felt good to be like, ‘okay, I can’t peg myself as that – I’m going to make questionable decisions, and it’s my job to do what I will.’ But I did always intend to give a large chunk of that money to things that I believe in. “I thought it would be horrible, and that I’d be damned by it, but a great amount of good has come out of it. And my view is that, there is a corporatisation of everything around us, in case we hadn’t all noticed. Even
a festival like this is sponsored by corporations, and it wouldn’t happen without them. But I don’t want people to think that I’m saying, ‘It’s all okay now, it’s always ok to sell your songs to ads.’ I don’t mean that or want to have that inﬂuence. I don’t think it’s totally ﬁne and I still question it, and I’m still like, ‘I’m selling BlackBerrys, so what do they support? Who inserts the tiny chip and manufactures them?’ I still want to dissect what I’m supporting, but no one can know that that’s your thought process, they just know that you’ve sold out to BlackBerry.” Perhaps most unfortunately, ‘Fiya’ now carries different meaning for Merrill. When she hears it now, she says “there’s part of me that thinks, I can’t believe I’ve seen this on TV with a narration behind it.” But she’s right when she says that a lot of good has come from it. The death of her fundamentally purist self is a particular triumph, because as the successfully nutty ‘W H O K I L L’ proves, tUnE-yArDs is too hard on herself.
P R I N C E
R A M A
IN SEARCH OF A SONIC UTOPIA Like all great cities of the world, Barcelona has a look. It’s very distinctive, made up of fantastic melty curves and intricate mosaics. It’s like a lost level on Mario World, and it’s all the doings of Antoni Gaudí. Prince Rama’s trip to the city is ﬂeeting to say the least, meaning that they won’t get to see Gaudí’s great structures this time around, and it’s a shame because the Brooklyn trio are tied to the architect in a roundabout way, and they’re inspired by architecture like others are by bands of the past. “His stuff is so next level,” says band leader Taraka Larson. “There is the famous quote: ‘architecture is frozen music’, but I feel like the inverse is true as well – music is the architecture of the invisible.” Together with her sister Nimai and ex-boyfriend Michael Collins,Taraka is currently on a European tour, taking the band’s shamanic, mantra-driven psych hymns from one town to the next with little-to-no time for site-seeing. Someone who shares her enthusiasm for Gaudí, though, is Paul Laffoley – an outsider artist and architect who designed the second tower of The World Trade Center and, since September 11 2001, has submitted designs for the replacing Freedom Tower,
T H E
which Wikipedia tells us was inspired by Gaudí’s Segrada Família. “I think it was actually modelled on Guadí’s plan for a “Grand Hotel” that never materialised, if I’m not mistaken,” says Taraka. She’s in a good position to argue, having worked closely with Laffoley for a number of years while at art school. “We both grew to be pretty close friends,” she says. “The way his work combines architecture with music, history with myth, pop culture with occult, and physics with mysticism is totally inspiring to me in terms of creating a true ‘gestaltkunstwerk’, or total artwork.” Considering these schooled thoughts, the band wrote ‘Architecture of Utopia’, “a record that was written speciﬁcally based on Paul’s diagrams of utopic space.” “The idea that utopia can occur whenever there is a realisation of inﬁnity contained in the ﬁnite inspired me to try to build a sonic model of utopia via a vinyl record with a locked groove (thus containing inﬁnity),” explains Taraka. ‘Architecture of Utopia’ is a cosmic, wildly haunting album, made up of just four songs that point towards the
F R E S H
O N L Y S
GARAGE BANDS ARE MEANT TO BE LAZY AND SHAMBOLIC The Fresh and Onlys are rampant in their output. They have produced three EPs and three LPs in just two years. “I think we all recognise that we have a ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ mentality,” says lead singer Tim Cohen. “It’s about sticking with the momentum and chemistry that we have built with the band.” “Resting on your laurels is for people without ﬁre,” adds Shayde Sartin [bass].“You need to keep feeding the ﬁre to continue to be creative.” Tim: “Some bands create something great and get lots of critical acclaim and success and then go away and take two years off and it breaks the momentum, and what they come back with is often not very good. I mean they’re still rich and happy, but for me and people like myself, I’ll probably never be rich and happy, or certainly not happy because I’m rich.” They rapidly knock out their San Fran ’50s-doowop-meets-Byrdsian-folk-pop, writings songs, as Shayde puts it, “in the length of time it takes to play them.” “I think it has to happen immediately,” he says. “If you spend too much time canoodling with songs and trying to tweak them too much, then it’s obviously not a good enough song.” Peculiarly, this quick-ﬁre attitude doesn’t lead to an output as rushed, half-baked and frazzled in its ideas as you’d think. The Fresh & Onlys, while at times rambunctious and raucous, deliver a sense of ﬂush meticulousness that feels like it has come over great time and due consideration. Their latest EP, ‘Secret Walls’, is perhaps the greatest embodiment of this, and arguably their ﬁnest work to date. “There was a point early on in the EP where we thought the songs we have are so good, we thought,
should this be a whole album?” says Wymond Miles [guitar], “but, we realised that it was just right and infocus enough as it was.The EP is a great format.” Heaps of American garage bands play Primavera every year, though. So why are we so bothered about this one over, say, Ariel Pink, or Ducktails? It’s because they are something of an anomaly in their DIY ﬁeld. They are representative of a movement and current spate of bands with sounds and inﬂuences that are common among many American guitar groups, but there is something slippery about them that makes it impossible to slap a tag on them. In many ways they are working entirely separate from the environment they inhabit. They’re not scuzzy or amateurish enough to truly be ‘lo-ﬁ’, and their naïve love songs are more suited to the hop than the beach. “I wouldn’t say we are inﬂuenced by bands from today at all,” says Tim, “they aren’t our peers.” “We’re more inﬂuenced by what we do within the band,” adds Shayde. “I feel we ﬁnally have a body of work that I can look at and be inspired by. In the early days I was fooling around in the dark a little, but now I can look back at all this stuff we’ve done since March 2008 that is very committed, very beautiful and very strong.” Wymond personally ﬁnds inspiration “from simply working with these guys.” “I’m so inspired by them,” he gushes, “and I try and inspire them in return; I try and bring out the things they may not think of.” And all of them are inspired by their hometown, San Francisco.“It’s the best place in the world to be for music,” nods Shayde.“I’d challenge every other city in the world to a cage match!”
STUART STUBBS, DANIEL DYLAN WRAY
band’s teenage surroundings in a Hare Krishna community in Florida. The more recent ‘Shadow Temple’ (the band’s ﬁrst album since Animal Collective’s Avey Tare signed them to AC’s imprint Paw Tracks) further delves into Sanskrit chants, cyclic structures, call and response lyrics and an overall spirituality rarely felt from bands booked to play Primavera. When we see them almost close the Vice/Jägermeister stage later, it’s Taraka’s banshee wail and the thunder-drums that pull us in, not the obligatory, trippy projection behind her. Drugs appear to have played a part in this music, but they haven’t (Taraka hasn’t even tried any, and they don’t interest Nimai or Michael either).There’s something far less cynical at work here, especially where ‘Shadow Temple’’s songs are concerned. “Our van got broken into and everything was taken out of it,” explain Taraka. “It was a total blessing in retrospect. So many friends, family, and total strangers donated money and equipment after that to help get us back on our feet.What kind of album do you make out of instruments that were given to you out of love? That was the kind of album that we had to make.”
B A T H S SLEEPING IS CHEATING
_ 2011 P R I M AV E R A SOUND _
“‘CERULEAN’ IS A VERY SPECIFIC IDEA THAT I HAD FOR AN ALBUM, AND I DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO THINK THAT’S JUST WHAT I AM”
As I meet twenty-two year old Will Wiesenfeld – a.k.a Baths – he is undeniably charming and affable, but also delirious from sleep deprivation. “I’ve had four hours sleep in the last three nights,” he apologises. “I’m just running on a state of delirium. I’m not even sure of my own mind!” he spurts. His bag, containing all of his musical equipment and entire live show, had been lost by airport staff, resulting in some rather frantic searching, fuelled by terror and apprehension at a time when he should have been catatonic. Luckily, his belongings have since been returned and all is well before his 3:15am show tomorrow morning. Baths ﬂowed onto the bedroom electronica scene last year. His debut album, ‘Cerulean’, was a sea of tranquil, fragile and textural sonic manipulations that, although conjured up aspects already associated with the chillwave phenomenon taking place, also hinted at something fuller and richer underneath the surface. With a new album of outtakes now out (‘Pop Music/False B-Sides’), Will, I soon learn, is already very keen to show us more of himself and what he is capable of. “The thing I’m thinking about more than anything is putting out the next one,” he grins, “as I feel like ‘Cerulean’ is a very speciﬁc idea that I had for an album, and I don’t want people to think that’s just what I am. It makes me nervous to think that. But I’m sure that’s the case with any musician – they can’t wait to do their next project.” You’d think that Will was referring to being labelled a chill-wave artist, but the names he’s often bundled in with don’t concern him. “I’m alright with it,” he says rather chirpily. “I mean that Washed Out EP took over
my entire summer, as did the ﬁrst Toro Y Moi album. I was obsessed with it; it was like something I had never heard before. So yeah, I’m down with it.” Like Toro Y Moi, Will is also a classically trained pianist, who has played from the age of four. A rebelliousness in his teenage years saw him abandon the instrument, but he is fast returning to it. A video on theavclub.com’s ‘uncovered’ section shows Will performing a rather beautiful take on LCD Soundsystem’s classic ‘All My Friends’ that is a revealing snapshot of what lurks beneath in Baths work artistically.Will himself reﬂects on the return to piano, saying: “It’s going to be a big part of [the next record] – there’s going to be a lot of piano on it. I think in ‘Cerulean’ it wasn’t really ingrained in the record, it was more of an afterthought, but there is going to be a large focus on that, and I also want to write string parts and a whole load of sounds and instruments that hopefully will sound like nothing I or anybody else has done before.” Evolve as Baths may well do, Will is adamant in his desire keep it a solo project. “With the last record there was some people who I asked for their opinions and sometimes I felt got more opinions than I wanted,” he says, “which scared me. So I’m going to completely abandon that side of things. It’s just going to be me. I may have players do things that I will dictate, but it’s all going to completely be my own thing. I’m not going to get help from anyone.” Will’s independent and determined manner is hardly surprising considering that, at only twenty two years of age, he has been actively making music on his own for nearly a decade.That his ambition is genuinely matched by his talent is a rare and wonderful thing.
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O R D E R B A C K I S S U ES A ND S U B S CRIB E A T W W W .LO UDANDQ UIET.C O M U K A N D D I GI T A L S U B S CRIB ERS RECEIVE A F REE 1 2 ” FEAT. RARITIES FRO M H E A L T H / GO L D P ANDA / T EET H / M ET RONOM Y / TELEP ATHE... AND MO RE
RE JULY VI 11 EWS AL BUMS 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Atari Teenage Riot Blanck Mass Cashier No. 9 Crystal Antlers Dave I.D. Digitalism Driver Drive Faster Garden & Villa Handsome Furs John Maus Julian Lynch Junior Boys Liam Finn Little Barrie Memory Tapes Milk Maid Rival Consoles The Blood Arm The Coathangers The Horrors The Jesus Loves Heroin Band The Middle East The Peopleâ€™s Temple White Hills Wiley
LIVE 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08
09 10 11 12
Beaty Heart Blondes Chris Cunningham Civil Civic Ducktails Fair Ohs Niki & The Dove Primavera Sound 2011 Feat. Animal Collective Belle & Sebastian Big Boi Grinderman Interpol John Cale Odd Future Pere Ubu Pulp PJ Harvey Sufjan Stevens The Flaming Lips Sons & Daughters Tera Melos Thee Oh Seas The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Horrors Skying (XL) By Danny Canter. In stores Jul 11
In hindsight, the distance between The Horrors’ garage scuzz debut, ‘Strange House’, and its succeeding shock-of-the-century, ‘Primary Colours’, wasn’t all that great. How sophisticated the band had become by their second album stunned us all, but they always had a ‘Loveless’ in them – ‘A Trains Roars’, from the ﬁrst album, suggested it sonically, and those haircuts forever belonged to a bold wall-ofsound band. ‘Skying’ is set to surprise once again, and this time the sense of wonderment, although more nuanced, is likely to stick. To reduce it to a sound-bite, if ‘Primary Colours’ was the band’s take on My Bloody Valentine,The Jesus and Mary Chain and Neu!, ‘Skying’ is them giving Echo & The Bunnymen, James (on the second half of ‘You Said’, especially) and Simple Minds a lick of neogothic paint.We’ve had their punk and shoegaze
records; now we have their proto-Brit Pop one, and it couldn’t have been better named. Everything on ‘Skying’ soars like Spiritualized without the smack, and to the centrepiece of Faris Badwan’s new voice, which is almost unrecognisably smooth; delicate and tuneful where it once growled, to such an extent that you’d be forgiven in thinking that one of the other band members must have given lead vocals a go on the opening ‘Changing The Rain’.The utterly forlorn ‘You Said’ conﬁrms that it is actually Faris, while boasting trumpeted orchestration and backing vocals for the ﬁrst time. It retains the pace rather than quickens it, though, and if you don’t like down-to-mid-tempo, dream-like, baggy pop songs, there’s little more than ‘I Can See Through You’ and the glam-Bowie-esque ‘Endless Blue’ here that leaps out of line. And so we’re back to an album that certainly has less bite than the vivacious ‘Primary Colours’ did. ‘Albums with bite’ are often instantly gratifying affairs with little staying power, though. ‘Skying’ is a slow grower. It feels like the
band’s most commercial album yet, but there’s no standout singles or would-be hits.There’s a couple of needless songs, sure (the closing ‘Oceans Burning’ tries and fails to recreate the epic power of ‘Sea Within A Sea’; ‘Wild Eyed’ completely and instantly outstays its welcome on the basis of being so bland), but if there’s one thing The Horrors have excelled in it’s quiet conﬁdence.They just don’t do desperation, and a track like ‘Moving Further Away’ (if you thought the band had already emulated Neu!’s organic kraut rock to a tee, think again) is the kind of assured move that makes ‘Skying’ an eventual triumph. Between ‘Strange House’ and ‘Primary Colours’,The Horrors grew up, from teenagers to young adults. It was very exciting, and yes, that thrill has naturally waned somewhat with this third record. But one track – ‘Monica Gems’, featuring Bret Anderson-like wails and twisted distortion from Joshua Third, which is sadly missed elsewhere – suggests that the next Horrors album could surpass all others. It’ll certainly surprise us again, we’re sure.
Cashier No 9
Driver Drive Faster
To The Death of Fun
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (Upset The Rhythm)
I Love You Dude
(Suffering Jukebox) By Luke Winkie. In stores June 20
(V2) By Reef Younis. In stores June 20
(Akoustik Anarcky) By Nathan Westley. In stores now
By Mandy Drake In stores July 4
Helmed by Martin Cohen, Manchester collective Milk Maid play ultra-diffuse, highly concentrated songs that tend to rely more on aesthetic than melody (think Times New Viking’s earliest tracks).They trot out a range of tempos, glassy-eyed swing-rock ballads, straightforward garage burners, but when it’s all coated in this anti-production it’s rather hard to distinguish. Occasionally it amounts to something interesting – on a few of these tracks you can estimate how far everyone is standing from the sole microphone based on the faint echoes emanating from the instruments – but for the most part these songs just aren’t good enough to be diamonds in the rough. At the end of the day, kinda-okay rock music is kindaokay rock music – the recording quality (no matter how hipster friendly) can’t change that.
There’s an eternal optimism to Digitalism.The sound of two friends having the time of their lives, it’s almost impossible to not buy into the bouncing positivity of Jence and Isi because they blissfully radiate it. From the drunken sentiment of the album title to the sun-drenched warmth it conveys, lead single ‘Blitz’ is trademark, ‘ReeperBahn’ and ‘Antibiotics’ go in heavy – the latter a mindbending modem meltdown – and closer ‘Encore’ has the liberating release and soaring breakdown of the classic summer anthem it will become.Where ‘Idealism’ allowed the duo to ride the electro tide, ‘I Love You, Dude’ stands alone, but is no less diminished for it. Undeniably, unashamedly upbeat, it’s an album that feels like welcoming old friends back with a goofy grin, a high ﬁve and the promise of summer adventure. Totally worth the wait.
With so many new bands ﬁghting for attention, opinions can be quickly formed, often to a band’s detriment.Two misconceptions can easily be made when it comes to Manchester’s Driver Drive Faster – one is that they could be next in the procession of dull, lager-swilling, Mac-wearing, indie pub-rockers; the other is that this Emo-tinged band name could be the nom de choice for a band ﬁrmly ﬂouting their ware towards prepubescents with a penchant for designer fringes. However, neither ring true and this grouping instead swerve towards creating Americana that is tinged with a spirited UK nose-to-the-grind indie ethos that should in theory peg them near Mercury Rev’s latter-day grandiose output.Yet ultimately it falls ﬂat faster than a balloon being given a piggy back by a cumbersome hedgehog. Unexciting and uninspiring stuff.
(Bella Union) By Chris Watkeys. In stores June 20 A brief look at the title of Cashier No. 9’s debut album causes a wry smile, but never a portent that it would so accurately describe the music found within. Opener and single ‘Goldstar’ exudes an (im)pure, Stone Roses-circa-’89 vibe, only with a nice bit of harmonica and a few bells thrown in – a promising start, bolstered a little later on by the sweeping chord changes and crashing percussion of ‘Flick Of The Wrist’. It’s pleasant, listenable stuff, with nicely layered melodies and smooth vocal lines, but for the most part – like a nice but dull friend in whose company you don’t want to stay too long – it’s a little too pleasant. By the baggy bside effort of ‘Oh Pity’, what was left of your interest, until now kept barely alive on life-support, ﬂatlines and passes away. For Cashier No. 9, the checkout has closed.
Political Science PhD student John Maus makes electronic music that sounds like the future, through the ears of a sci-ﬁ fan in 1983.That’s to say that third album ‘Pitiless Censors’ sounds, in 2011, completely retro, like some lost Cabaret Voltaire record. Maus mumbles like a baritone monk gargling reverb most of the time (and certainly on ‘Quantum Leap’), making him sound a lot like Blank Dogs did two years ago, which is no doubt due to his time working with Gary War in 2005. Live, he’s an intense mess, close to Ian Curtis’ unhinged, disco-fanatic of a brother. Here, he’s far more restrained and all the better for it. On ‘Hey Moon’ he steps outside his dystopian norm and gives us a rather beautiful piano lullaby, while a cover of ‘Cop Killer’ is both hilariously bleak and dramatically cool, just like the best of the ’80s.
Blanck Mass Blanck Mass (Rock Action) By Reef Younis. In stores June 20
Phography by Gabriel Green
After being pummelled, engulfed and utterly enamoured by Fuck Buttons’ apocalypse-inducing maelstrom, ‘Blanck Mass’ marks Benjamin Power’s ﬁrst proper solo foray into the dreamy abyss. A debut album of gorgeous distortion and space-age beauty, it evokes the sumptuous scoring of Ennio Morricone and the interstellar wonder Cliff Martinez effortlessly sewed into his Solaris soundtrack. It’s rich with allure and ambition that’s intoxicating in its indulgence. From the rising static of opener ‘Sifted Gold’ through to the ebbing closer ‘Weakling Flier’, ‘Blanck Mass’ luxuriates in its decadence, allowing you to ﬂoat and wallow in the 13 minutes of spatial swirl and introspective expanse of ‘What You Know’, the magnetism of the epic ‘Land Disasters’ pinning you to the wall.There’s a search for resolution that always seems tantalisingly out of reach, as Power hasn’t just created standalone tracks but a narrative of the inﬁnite.The prospect of the great unknown never sounded more beautiful.
AL BUMS 04/10
Atari Teenage Riot Is This Hyperreal?
The Middle East
By Matthias Scherer. In stores June 20
(Big Dada) By DK Goldstein. In stores July 4
(Transgressive) By Luke Winkie. In stores July 4
I Want That You Are Always Happy (PIAS)
By Kate Parkin. In stores now
(Thrill Jockey) By Edgar Smith. In stores June 20
Superstar DJ Steve Aoki might have released ATR’s last single on his label Dim Mak Records, but when the latter supported him in Vienna last year people ﬂed the arena during their performance, only to rush back and hop around for Aoki’s set. On their ﬁrst album in 12 years, Alec Empire and his digital hardcore comrades take on the usual suspects – capitalism and politicians – as well as the dangers of modern technology.The topics are relevant, but the music sounds like it did a decade ago – relentless, punishing, and, ultimately, a bit dull.There is a distinct antiestablishment mood in a lot of countries, but no movement in their right mind would adopt songs such as the bloated ‘Code Breaker’ or the wannabe-RATM ‘Black Flags’ as their hymns. Whether Aoki’s bangers would rally the people is questionable, but they’d sure have a lot more fun.
The Godfather of grime has reunited with Big Dada to release his seventh album, ‘100% Publishing’. But the eskiboy didn’t succeed by hanging around, which is why it’s no surprise his latest singles, ‘Seduction’ and ‘If I Could’, will be on his next record, ‘Chillout Zone’, released in July. For now, ‘100%...’ casts off difﬁcult coming-of-age themes and deals with an accomplished-but-I-wantmore air.There are synths sprinkled throughout and touches of humour with the circus ride that is ‘Boom Boom Da Na’ and the zombie drawl of ‘I Just Woke Up’, while things shift downtempo with the piano-ﬂooded ‘Wise Man and His Words’. Essentially,Wiley’s tracks are made up of the most minimal beats, but the way he cuts his vocals transforms them into something resounding that’ll have you inexplicably hooked.
If Liam Finn is trying to be inoffensively sincere, he needs to try harder – the very essence of his second record is covered in tired, nice-guy indie pastiche. He runs the gambit of kindly melody, vapid not-quite-post-rock (‘Don’t Even Know Your Name’), forest-green indie (‘Neurotic World’), barelythere acoustic balladry (‘Little Words’) and, of course, C-level ‘experimentalism’ (‘Jump Your Bones’). Are they all melodically whole and aesthetically pleasing? Yes. Is anything here worth even a minute amount of hard drive space? Hardly.This is the kind of indie you’d expect to come out of a cereal box – cheap, blatant, sounding like a loose caricature of its own self.There’s nothing wrong with opening yourself up and constructing universal tunes for everyone’s enjoyment, but when it’s this common-denominator, you’ve got some explaining to do.
With songs like ‘Black Death 1349’ carrying whispered melodies from the deepest reaches of the wilderness, what we have here could easily be extracts from Fleet Foxes’ new album. Strange that a band hailing from the Australian tropics have such an afﬁnity with the dark, but ‘My Grandmother Was Pearl Hall’ was indeed made for the shallow ﬂicker of European Art House cinema, rather than golden shorelines.The Middle East often play Christian festivals back home too, so religious themes ﬂutter round – don’t worry, the sweetly naïve ‘Jesus Came To My Birthday Party’ has more in common with the garagey shufﬂe of Vivian Girls than the selfsatisﬁed guff of Delirious?. At 14 tracks, it’s deﬁnitely an album that’s too long, but there’s little denying some of the delicate beauty here, on acoustic torchlight songs ‘Very Many’ and ‘Months’.
Seeing as Brooklyn space rockers White Hills have the approval of the First Lord Shaman of Kosmiche, Julian Cope, their second LP was unlikely to disappoint…but FUCK! For one, ‘H-p1’ is well, well over an hour long, which is something that might grate were it not for some careful structuring. ‘Condition of Nothing’ (the record’s worst track) kicks us into pasted eyeliner rawk territory before a climb-down into shady synth and riff-heavy abstracts and the Hawkwind-nodding ‘Paradise’, a side of music sinful enough to get you pregnant through the right speakers.Then, the pattern repeats – only much, much heavier. After the ’70s camp, ﬂying saucer synths and thrashpsychedelia of ‘Upon Arrival’, there’s then some material that out-perturbs <Beak for atmosphere.This stuff isn’t 100% tasteful, but it’s very, very good.
The Coathangers Larceny and Old Lace (Suicide Squeeze) By Matthias Scherer. In stores June 20
It’s images like the incredibly grim coat hanger method that anti-abortionists love to invoke when spreading their dangerous and misleading gospel, but The Coathangers are not the kind of band you’d catch playing a pro-life party. Dirty, noisy, husky, messy, sexy, catchy – the sound these four girls have created out of musical amateurism and old-fashioned hedonism is still as infectious as it was when they ﬁrst burst onto the scene ﬁve years ago. On their third album, there is a sense that the band now have more of a clue what they’re doing. First single ‘Hurricane’ is as tight a slab of punk rock as you’ll hear all year, and on ‘Call to Nothing’ the abrasive guitars offer a contrast to the pleading lyrics.The Coathangers mean everything they say – whether they’re singing (or shouting, screeching, or cooing) about garage punk legend Jay Reatard (“There’s a hole/where our heart used to be”) or about going to Mexico to, presumably, get loaded on Tequila (‘Well Alright’). Exhilarating.
It’s All True
(!K7) By Sean Denning. In stores July 4
(Domino) By Sam Walton. In stores July 4
(Sub Pop) By Nathan Wesltey. In stores June 27
(Underwater Peoples) By Chal Raven. In stores now
(Erased Tapes) By Reef Younis. In stores June 27
Dave I.D. is one secretive and illusive dude. All we really know about him is that his real name is David Andrew Hedges, he’s from south London and he makes music in his bedroom. And from that we should be able to guess that ‘Response’ is probably your typical electro-urban record that basswobbles from Croydon’s general direction.You’d think so, but Hedges’ debut album is more These New Puritans than Skream and Benga; more TV On The Radio than Becoming Real.The problem is, he’s not very Dave I.D.. Tracks like the opening ‘When Everything is in it’s Place’ could well have been on TNP’s ‘Hidden’, comically so if it weren’t for the quasi-soul vocal that then slivers onto the gothic ‘SumR’. It’s on ‘The Takeover’ that Dave I.D. really threatens to sound wholly original... until he starts to sound like Secret Machines.
On the face of it, Junior Boys’ fourth album could have been written at any point between 1984 and the present day. However, while ‘It’s All True’’s foundations may be indebted to both the sophisticated pop of The Human League’s 80s heyday and more banging American electro that inspired Warp’s early releases, its adornments and details are far more modern: ‘Playtime’, an oddly compelling seven-minute ballad, adds a sense of internationalism with atonal Chinese bells, and ‘You’ll Improve Me’’s abrupt ending is harshly contemporary. If much of this sounds somewhat disparate, what unites the tracks is an unfortunate tendency for each to outstay its welcome. Indeed, it’s telling that the album’s deﬁnite stand-out, ‘A Truly Happy Ending’ – a stylishly melancholic piece of snappy songwriting – is also its shortest.
There is little doubting that Montreal, Canada, has been a hotbed of talent in recent years, churning out artist after artist who will later go on to gain high plaudits (just take a look at our cover star this month and you’ll get the idea), and this sophomore effort by the now married duo of Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry looks certain to follow this 21st century tradition. Given that Boekner is the leading man in the cult worshipped Wolf Parade it is of little surprise that ‘Sound Kapital’ shares some traits with the aforementioned, but this is far from a straight reinterpretation – instead an experiment with keyboards has heralded a new era of discovery and adventure, one where these songs, which might otherwise have been slightly pedestrian, now have an uplifting synth pop edge to help underpin the indie rock credentials.
Mournful saxophone, soft funk bass, folksy guitars and a touch of synth ambience – and all within the ﬁrst 30 seconds? But as soon as Julian Lynch’s voice ﬂoats in, triple-tracked and drowsy, you can start to piece together what’s happening here. ‘Terra’, his third proper album on top of a bunch of CD-R and cassette releases, is a dreamy collection of strange folkpop that tries its best to avoid being shoehorned into a genre. Knowing that his previous two albums came out on Olde English Spelling Bee (who also brought you James Ferraro and Forest Swords) should give you another clue to the realms we’re traversing. Lynch is also writing a doctoral dissertation on ethnomusicology, but don’t mistake this for a showboating school project to earn extra credits: simply drag your rug and headphones to the bottom of the garden and drink it up.
Word counts are constrictive at the best of times but you particularly feel the pinch when an album reduces you to superlative plaudits. This is one such occasion because the jagged binary brainchild of Ryan L.West, ‘Kid Velo’, is more than just an album; it’s an 8-bit distillation of reverence, ambition and panache. Sizzling with circuitblowing intent, it’s executed with the conﬁdence of any electro heavyweight that nods to the gargantuan sound of Boys Noize and Justice et al. But from the broken rhythms and syncopated glitch beats of opener ‘Vos’, the Daft Punk funk of ‘Eve’, Star Guitar clap of ‘I Left The Party’, and mega-drive of ‘Amiga’, it’s an album that leaves the name dropping to others, simply because it can. If Digitalism’s return has upped the summer anthem ante, they’ve found a Rival Console to be reckoned with.
Memory Tapes Player Piano (Something in Construction) By Chris Watkeys. In stores July 4
Phography by Owen Richards
Memory Tapes’ 2010 debut, ‘Seek Music’, was a pleasant slice of electronica, with a couple of genuinely brilliant tracks. His follow-up feels like a more organically constructed effort, with the occasional prominence of guitars interspersing the synths. It’s a poor start though, as opener ‘Wait In The Dark’ sounds distinctly like somebody just pressed the demo key on an old Casio and wandered off to make a cup of tea, before returning to rescue the song with a great vocal line.Things only really step up a notch with the slowest paced track on the record – the melancholy waves and underwater vocals of ‘Yes I Know’. ‘Fell Thru Ice’ meanwhile sounds like the ‘quiet’ passage of a good post-rock track, only with vocals and beats bolted on. As the record progresses, there are atmospheric beats here, bright saccharine melodies there, but little of real substance to hook onto and really love; yet ‘Player Piano’ as a whole is rich with invention and a demonstrably impressive musicality.
AL BUMS 06/10
The People’s Temple
The Jesus Loves Heroin Band
Gardens and Villa
The Blood Arm
Gardens and Villa
King of the Waves
Turn And Face Me
By Kate Parkin. In stores now
(Secretly Canadian) By Polly Rappaport. In stores July 4
(Bumpman) By Sam Little. In stores June 27
(Snowwhite) By Polly Rappaport. In stores July 4
It’s almost a year since I ﬁrst had my ears turned onto the psychedelic sounds of The Jesus Loves Heroin Band.Their early recordings carried the ragged edges of home taping, but from the ﬁrst conﬁdent burst of ‘Its Over’ it’s clear this is a whole new experience. Revelling under lush production inspired by Dylan’s ‘Basement Tapes’, JLHB have become bigger and bolder.The Animals style organ of ‘Be Mine’ could be lost recordings from the Ed Sullivan show, yet despite being steeped in the spirit of ’64, the band’s sound still resonates, with singer Nick Wheeldon’s gravely squall leading out a modern day gang of outsiders.Tales of love and loss run thick, with the doo-wop beats of ‘I Don’t Want To Start Again’, but their ﬁnest hour comes with the B-Movie instrumentals of ‘Dead Skin’. It’s the coolest slice of R’n’R since I don’t know when.
It’s not surprising to hear that Santa Barbara-based Gardens & Villa spent a year camped out behind their producer’s studio before laying down this album. It has an otherworldly quality to it; all blissed-out vocals and vintage synth parps, riding on waves of earthy funk and razor sharp electro pop.Their presumably selfimposed genre, ‘galactic fever’, might be a touch OTT (though the driving, cosmic vibes of ‘Spacetime’ just about get there), but it does somehow evoke the peculiar mix of old, current and futuristic. ‘Orange Blossom’’s sensual bass line and impish, bright falsetto – not to mention the playfully ﬁlthy lyrics – is a highlight, while the Casio-tangled acoustic guitar and winding, gentle percussion of ‘Neon Dove’ is the perfect closer. It seems that the uniqueness of its conception has made this a truly unique record.
Nottingham trio Little Barrie surely can’t be that little anymore. They did ﬁrst appear in 2005, after all. Back then their Kinks-ish, blues-tinged RnB drowned in a sea of other rock’n’rollers seemingly inspired by The White Stripes.This time around, with Jack’n’Meg gone and the garage revival in full swing, they should do a lot better. ‘King of The Waves’ is certainly a greater record than their ﬁrst, and what tracks like the hair-tossing ‘Now We’re Nowhere’ (‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’era Primal Scream meets The Stone Roses’ ‘Begging’), the mod pomp of ‘Surf Hell’, and the late Beatles-ish ‘Money is Paper’ do is make us realise that Britain is still to come up with an answer to America’s lo-ﬁ elite. Crisp and chunky, this isn’t necessarily it on a hipster aesthetic level, but in terms of guitar music swinging balls it quite possibly is.
Do you like to party? Huh!? Well if you don’t, that’s tough: these guys have only one item on their indie pop agenda, and that is to drive you through the ceiling in their musical partymobile.This record starts in turbo drive and never, ever slows down. It’s jam-packed with pounding piano, shredding shrieks, raging tambourine (who knew tambourines could rage?), and inexcusably zany – yes, zany – synth. If you ever ﬁnd yourself yearning for all those stompy indie earworms circa 2004, you will ﬁnd what you pine for in shed loads on this record, and they’ve been cranked up past eleven. It’s worth mentioning that if you never got into all those ﬂoppy-fringed, drainpipe-sporting, NME-dwelling pups, you will ﬁnd this album utterly exhausting and will be looking for a rolled up copy of the Guardian to whack your CD player with.You’ve been warned.
Sons of Stone (Hozac) By Chal Ravens. In stores now Another month, another Jim Jones-inspired band of psych-pop mop-toppers. Unlike Cults though,The People’s Temple have a deﬁantly macho take on ’60s garage rock, more in the vein of The Seeds and the Count Five than The Shangri-Las. ‘Sons of Stone’, the Michigan band’s debut, is like opening a dust-covered box of warped 45rpm wax salvaged from Lenny Kaye’s garage – a loving recreation of that cherished lo-ﬁ ‘Nuggets’ sound complete with simplistic pentatonic riffage, trebly bathroom-echo vocals a nd drums recorded in a concrete stairwell. Seems like Iggy dropped by to give a production masterclass too, with everything whacked right up into the red for some appallingly distorted guitars.The ﬁrst third plods along, but tunes like ‘Starstreamer’ indulge in some rough-edged proto-punk for fans of Roky Erickson to easily love.
(Les Disques Chupacabra)
Crystal Antlers Two-Way Mirror (Recreation Ltd) By Austin Laike. In stores July 11
Due to their seemingly unquenchable desire to cram inﬂuence after inﬂuence into their music, California’s Crystal Antlers could play on every chin-stroking bill you’ve ever seen and yet never feel completely at home on any of them.They’re a psych band that are too aggressive to be hippies, exploring erratic time signatures, avant-garde, progressive jazz (here, on the sax-squealing ‘Always Afraid’), bar-band barks, noise guitars and the type of sloshed punk-folk peddled by Titus Andronicus.They make a lot of noise; it’s just never really jelled into something you can make head nor tail of. ‘Two-Way Mirror’ is their second album, and it’s deﬁnitely the band at their most concise – a world away from their proggy, self-indulgent shows, and more listenable than 2009’s ‘Tentacles’, coming and going in a ﬂurry of cymbal crashes and desperate cries that also carry with them almost pop hooks (‘Summer Solstice’), and a lurching waltz (‘Seance’). They do, however, still have a better album in them.
_ 2011 P R I M AV E R A SOUND _
PRIMAVERA SOUND Parc del Forum, Barcelona, Spain 26-28.05.2009 By Daniel Dylan Wray, Olly Parker, Philippa Burt, Sam Walton, Stuart Stubbs Photography by Eric Pamies, Inma Varandela, Dani Canto ▼
Primavera Sound isn’t the kind of festival where you spend all your time in the Healing Fields, maybe catching a band or two, but always later on.You don’t “head back to the tent” all the time, and not only because there is no tent.The deal is, from 6pm to 6am, for three consecutive nights, you don’t wander the concrete ﬁelds of Barcelona’s Parc del Forum dressed as a bumblebee and sampling the odd morsel of live music; you tear around it trying to ingest as many leftﬁeld greats (and tipped-to-be-greats) as possible. It would make for an intensely stressful 36 hours were the bands not so worth it. Guitars are very much the order of Primavera, with bedroom electronica a convincing enough second. Hip hop is represented less so, and yet Big Boi performing in the Ray-Ban amphitheatre at sunset on day one gives us an early and lasting highlight to the weekend. It’s not that we need a break from all the serious indie so soon (as is more the case by the time we see Odd Future virtually close (down) the Pitchfork stage on day three); more that he’s so loud and unquestionably up for a party where his closest peers are the much more silly Das Racists. It’s the festival’s ‘Jay-Z moment’, if you will, and while it appears that the crowd are voluntarily pigeon-bobbing with enthusiasm, it might well be that the bass has broken their necks. Interpol bring us down at the site’s furthest point, on a stage that is actually bigger than where the headliners play. Fortunately, it’s their icy gloom-wave that does the job, not their statuesque live show that is so often held to account.Yes, the band pretty much stand and play, and yes, now that Carlos D has left the group there is even less to look at, but the band’s greatest hits serve as a crystalline reminder of how good White Lies will never be, and – with just a handful of new songs heard – gives us a little hope that last year’s terribly dull self-titled album is something that the band would like to forget as quickly as we do. Grinderman appear to be watched by everyone, including Jarvis Cocker who tells us he’s come down a day early to check out the sound of the San Miguel stage he’ll point his elbows on tomorrow night. He says he’s nervous, in which case, Nick Cave’s assured performance is probably unlikely to settle his stomach. The comparisons that Grinderman have often had lashed upon them to Cave’s anarchical previous outﬁt The Birthday Party have always been somewhat
unfounded and lazy, but for the ﬁrst time tonight it seems there may be some foundation to the claims. Cave is feral this evening – he lurches and hovers, back arched like an animal ready to pounce, and pounce he does. It’s the malevolent, improvised screeches of “tippy-toes, tippy-toes” that he unleashes that make the most unsettling, Birthday Party-esque moments come alive.They emit a ferocious degree of noise between them – Jim Sclavunos pounds the drums like a disgruntled giant;Warren Ellis twitches and exudes raw, weird angst from every pore. Amalgamated, they are a wonderful onslaught. Still cramming, we get ﬁfteen minutes of Gold Panda time before Flaming Lips close the main stage from 2:15am to what feels like eternity. Gold Panda pulls a mighty crowd who infest the steep staircase beside the Pitchfolk stage and throb to his ambient electronics.We could have gotten away with watching all of his set before climbing those stairs for Flaming Lips – they play forever, and Wayne Coyne’s continual pleas of “Fucking c’mon!!!” between one forgotten song and the next sums up how bored we must all look.The fact that every song features a super slow outro doesn’t help matters.The whole thing just reminds us that we’re not really fans at all.We are of the closing ‘Do You Realise’, though – big, grown-mencrying fans. It remains extremely powerful stuff. Coyne could have held us hostage for two hours with only
white noise for company and we would have forgiven him by the time we’re weeping to ‘Do Your Realise’.
day two Pulp occupy the same top spot, and Jarvis Cocker’s nerve seem to have either been nothing but lip service, or he’s cunningly hiding his fright by acting exactly like he did when Pulp were at their height. Every twitch, every curly ﬁnger waggle, every acute vogue, every breathy sex-pest exhale on the forever naughty ‘Pencil Skirt’ and every seedy whisper through ‘I Spy’ – they’re all perfect, from the opening ‘Do You Remember The First Time’, which sees the band begin behind a semi-opaque curtain, to the closing ‘Razzmatazz’. In between, we get everything from ‘A Different Class’, bar ‘Mishapes’, surprisingly, plus the good stuff from ‘His’n’Hers’ and the title track from ‘This Is Hardcore’. Jarvis helps a boy in the front row propose to his girlfriend after ‘I Spy’ and dedicates ‘Common People’ to protesters who were victims of police brutality earlier in the day in the middle of town. For the song itself, the biggest audience of the three nights by far go crazier than you can imagine. It’s this show that was a huge reason for us going to Primavera this year, and it couldn’t have been more worth the trip.
Less hysterical, yet equally as appreciated, is what opens day two – one of two Sufjan Stevens performances in the onsite, indoor auditorium, Rockdelux.With a ﬁnite capacity, tickets were given away for this one on a lottery basis.Two thousand tickets were available, forty thousand applied for them, and if you’ve spent the last six years tantalising your army of ardent fans with promises of 50-album folk cycles and then releasing ambient operas about motorways and tepid pseudo-disco records that are both long and boring, you better have something special in your locker when you tour.Thankfully, Stevens does. Performing with all the comfort and technical mastery that Rockdelux affords, he and his band – including dancers, funk brass section and two drummers – serve up two hours of 3D projections, 10foot angel wings, UV raver costumers, balloon drops, confetti showers, synchronised dancing and, most crucially, utterly bewitching music that reveals ‘The Age of Adz’ to be simply poor recordings of brilliant songs. Mid-way through, he issues a 15-minute lecture, complete with slides, on the delusional schizophrenic who inspired his latest records, as if to add further context to his change in sound. It works. Coupled with the mesmerising show, everything falls rather magically into place. There’s something of the lecture about Pere Ubu plays the ‘Annotated Modern Dance’ too: David Lynn Thomas regaling us with wry wit tales from atop a stool and behind a stand of notes and lyrics, in his Truman Capote squeak. It’s really worth getting some context when you consider ‘Annotated Modern Dance’ as a retrospective performance, though. At ﬁrst it may seem like the action of just another old postpunk band, but once you realise that this lot formed in 1975 and are playing songs off an album released in 1978 you realise how far ahead of just about everybody these guys were. And while age has slowed the frenetic onstage pace of Thomas, he can still pipe ‘em out when he’s not being the funniest frontman at the whole of the festival. Stuart Murdoch of Belle And Sebastian has a far more British, twee charm to him. Of him and his band, sometimes you want to hold them close, as if you would defend them to the death (like when they play ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’). Other times you want to start indiscriminately punching people just so you can feel some testosterone pulsing through your bones (see ‘I’m a Cuckoo’ – surely one of the worst songs ever written).Tonight they are at their frustrating best, in that they play some of their better songs, but we could barely hear the bloody thing. Not wanting to be those
moany tits who stand there shouting “louder”, we think it’s probably best to just leave them all to it.
day three (or night three) we’ve also soaked up Moon Duo (a band that clearly inspire far more movement than Ripley Johnson’s other drone act, Wooden Shjips), Male Bonding (shame there were no vocals), Tennis on ATP’s brilliant nook stage (nowhere near brilliant themselves) and The National, who also suffered from some poor sound issues. In need of a seat (to be fair, virtually all eight Primavera stages have seating of sorts), we head for John Cale performing ‘Paris 1919’ in the Rockdelux, 24-hours after Sufjan Steven’s unique show. There is a smooth, seamless professionalism that greets us from the opening delights of ‘Child’s Christmas In Wales’. Cale’s voice is soft, mellow and warm in its subtle delivery, barley different from his voice of 1973. His orchestra is powerful without being overstating, and they blend harmoniously together to recreate an album of exquisite beauty, that by the time we have reached ‘Andalucia’, it becomes tear inducing. Cale’s new material then has us crying for another reason – it really is poor. ‘Don’t Get Sentimental On
Me’ is devilish in its title but dire in its delivery, and it’s a highlight of the new stuff. It’s a rather foetid transition from old to new, but one that can be tolerated based on the sheer majesty of the ‘1919’ material. Better with her most recent work is PJ Harvey, who stands spot lit in a long, ﬂowing white dress with ﬂowers in her hair, clutching her auto-harp.The tracks from ‘Let England Shake’ are beautifully orchestrated and ﬂoat through the muggy Spanish air.The set itself is about as anti-festival as it’s possible to be, and yet Harvey and band achieve the almost impossible – they make playing outside to thousands of people feel like a very sacred, intimate moment, embracing the music instead of the environment. For modern music’s most controversial, violently misogynistic and homophobic act, Odd Future are quite the likeable bunch. It could be because having skipped onstage in vests, shorts, knee-high sports socks and baseball caps,Tyler,The Creator and his bratty droogs are most audible when they’re gushing their thanks to the crowd for coming to watch them.Two things are for sure though – the collective’s raps are as tight as they are potty mouthed, and whether fuelled by hype or raw talent, Odd Future’s live show is one of the most exciting things we’ve seen this year.The stage dives are impressively fearless, or stupid, or both, and reports of this NWA rehash feeling more like a hardcore punk show than a hip-hop half hour totally ring true.The trashing energy notably sags in the middle – basically when Tyler buggers off to reek havoc somewhere else – but when he returns to perform ‘Yonkers’ from debut solo album ‘Goblin’, it rapidly peaks, and by the end, as more of the crowd ﬁnd themselves onstage than off it, it feels like an important moment for new hip-hop, sure, but also for DIY music in general. It makes Animal Collective all the more disappointing.They are clearly a band with stunning songs and moments that can take your breath away, it’s just a shame that they never want to do any of them live. In fact, they seem to consider this a badge of honour as they radically reinvent recorded material and twist it into something completely different.We’ve often sat and enjoyed this kind of thing in the past, but it’s 2am on the ﬁnal day of one of the world’s best festivals and we want to dance so it’s time to head elsewhere, like to DJ Shadow performing inside a globe of complex projections. The cramming goes on to the last minute, because at Primavera Sound you’d feel like you’re missing something if you spent a second standing still. WWW.LOUDANDQUIET.COM
CHRIS CUNNINGHAM Roundhouse, Camden, London 01.06.2011 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Chris Cunningham. Pic: Lee Goldup
Ducktails. Pic: Polly Rappaport
“That’s fucking weird,” says the girl to my left, while the guy on my right goes for the classic “Urrgh” and his friend thinly veils his discomfort behind a cackle. All are perfectly suitable responses to a twenty-foot projection of a child being sliced sternum to bowel. Chris Cunningham’s live show, it seems, is exactly what you’d expect from the warped video director mind that gave us Aphex Twin’s ‘Window Licker’ promo.There’s plenty of rapid, skin-on-skin montage, tons of twisted mutilation and heaps of godknows-what to look at, all while Cunningham stands beneath three giant screens that show his latest apocalyptic visions. Only it turns out that they’re not his latest visions at all, but rather a rehash of terrors gone by, despite what the show’s ﬂyer said. Regardless, none of us can be exactly sure of what it is that he’s doing behind that MacBook of his, and few of us care – this is less a live music event, more a brutally loud screening of industrial techno cinema.The gutted girl’s eyelids twitch to the glitch, Samantha Morton exposes her rotten squid for an intense instrumental version of The Horrors’ ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ and a naked couple punch the shit out of each other in time to machinegun drum’n’bass. As well as being “wholly shocking” (although not shocking at all), there’s little denying that it’s exhilarating, deafening, violent video art that should tire far sooner than it does. At least it is for the people who didn’t see this “show of new material” last year at the Royal Festival Hall.
Fair Ohs. Pic: Laura Hernando
TERA MELOS The Hope, Brighton 07.05.2011 By Nathan Westley ▼
Having formed midway through the noughties, it seems only right that this Californian trio should launch their ﬁrst appearance on UK soil with a cacophonous barrage of harsh noise, if not only for it to serve purely as a gesture
that proudly signiﬁes “Yes, we are ﬁnally here and we are ready to make a din.”Yet as time proceeds, this trio turn chameleon-like into a more precise ensemble; one that puts two warm, comforting hands onto Foals’ lite-math-rock-leaning shoulders and gently whispers, “drop the majority of the vocals”, before embarking on shaking it up with short, sharp snaps of vivaciously quirky alternating rhythmical patterns and the odd ﬂirt with the type of two handed guitar tapping that would even pull an admiring glance from those who foolishly worship at the feet of overly virtuosic ‘guitar gods’ Steve Vai and the poodle permed Yngwie Malmsteen.Though the latter and their occasional foray into jazz-tinged instrumental breakdowns would usually have many speedily running for the doors, tonight is gracefully saved by their blend of twitchingly unconventional song structures and at times …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead rivalling onstage passion.Tera Melos will seem at least a little bit strange.
DUCKTAILS Hoxton Sq Bar & Kitchen, London 31.05.2011 By Polly Rappaport ▼
t’s never a proud moment when you ﬁnd yourself looking helplessly round a dark, crowded room, trying to establish who would be least likely to think you’re a total freak if you sheepishly ask them, “Sorry, but… This is Ducktails, isn’t it?”We’re deﬁnitely in the right place, it’s the right time, Matthew Mondanile is a relatively distinctive looking guy, and that’s unquestionably him up there with the guitar, but… essentially, the expectation of a lone kid, hunched over a sampler, making woozy drone vibes is pretty much shattered.The Real Estate guitarist’s solo project has sprouted a few extra members, and looks for all the world like a standard indie pop band. Comparatively speaking, they sound quite like one as well; the new work seems primarily based around songwriting and melodies, rather than the treacly psychedelia Ducktails has hitherto been known for. But it’s a subdued kind of pop
song that Mondanile now writes, as though he’s still feeling his way round, and while the very use of the word ‘song’ could throw some loyal fans, it’s not a complete departure and hints of surf and reverb remain. It’s just enough of a difference to double check the name of the band with the guy behind me, though.
BLONDES C.A.M.P., Old Street, London 26.05.2011 By Chal Ravens ▼
At quarter past eleven, CAMP Basement contains just 40 people, give or take some smoking stragglers outside.Those in attendance seem bemused at the low turnout – seems we all expected a roadblock for this midweek nugget of sensual synth grooves and retro-future-trance, ‘cos everyone loves retro-futuretrance, right? Anyway, Blondes take their position behind an impossible patchwork of hardware, keys and cables, embarking on a slowly building set that gently coaxes us into its ambiguous emotions, involving and evolving through discordant horns, fuzzy analogue warmth and big, big beats. On record it seems cerebral, almost cold, but by the set’s halfway mark we’ve got a rag-tag anti-rave going on down here, 40 of us locked into the beat, arms raised and heads nodding like clockwork. Zach Steinman, one half of the Ohiovia-Brooklyn-via-Berlin duo, says of the semi-improvised show, “I’m not really sure if it would work in a huge club. If someone tried that I’d be scared.” Don’t buy it. Despite the low turnout, Blondes could easily wave their hypnotic rave wands over a huge club – or better, an arboreal summer festival – and have a thousand-strong crowd tiedyed in knots for their elegantly engineered free-ﬂowing trance.
NIKI & THE DOVE The Haunt, Brighton 26.05.2011 By Nathan Westley ▼
It can be partially (or indeed largely) put down to the dramatic rise of Florence & The Machine
that a sudden tide of slightly kooky females gleefully ﬁnd themselves rushed towards becoming mainstream songstresses. Factor in that some are keen to peg Niki as the next Bjork and it is of little surprise that this Icelandic singer has recently been tipped as the next in-line to join the procession, and those who have wandered in to witness tonight’s performance would, by its culmination, fully understand why such lofty predictions have already been made. Some mouth-blown chirruping whistles set the tone before Niki lets her powerful vocals, her small-time Europop inﬂuences and her two accomplices break loose. (One of these stage-hands will, as proceedings progress, concentrate heavily on knocking out tribal touched beats while the other helps further swerve the performance into Fever Ray territory by occupying himself with teasing out otherworldly noises from an array of electronic gizmo’s that wouldn’t look too out of place in a science ﬁction bmovie).Yet as smoke bellows out from underneath the stage and entwines itself around the band members, it seems as though Niki & The Dove has locked herself in a halfway house, where it’s almost too abstract for the mainstream and too pop for the fringes.
SONS & DAUGHTERS The Lexington, Angel, London 09.06.2011 By Sam Ballard ▼
After a three-year hiatus Sons and Daughter have made a welcome return back to live consciousness, hitting the promotion trail for album number three, ‘Mirror Mirror’.Tonight, they play to a sold out Lexington – on a night specially dedicated to showcasing their new material – and there’s an atmosphere dripping with expectant curiosity as the throng of fans eagerly await to hear what the Glaswegian quartet have been busying themselves with. And they don’t disappoint. Coming on stage, with Scott Paterson in full front man regalia (an ostentatious leather/fur boa jacket) and Adele Bethel clutching some throat medicine (not so rock’n’roll, admittedly), they launch into
album number three.The new material is starkly different to 2008’s ‘The Gift’.Taken back to basics, it was recorded on a sixteen-track and produced by JD Switch of Optimo Music, and the sound has a sneery, sleazy quality that has helped make it a standout albums of 2011. It’s a sound that reeks of Glasgow. It also translates amazingly well into a live setting. The night is a triumphant return for Sons and Daughters. Mixing new tracks like ‘Silver Spell’ with older material from a now eightyear (!) history. Bethel’s voice held out and tonight the people of north London witnessed the band doing what it does best and looking like they’d never been away.
THEE OH SEES Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 30.05.2011 By Kate Parkin ▼
Their last rabble-rousing performance gained them almost cult status in Leeds, so it was with baited breath and digits crossed that we waited for their return. Fast forward to present day and the crowd are on ﬁne form, whooping and pogoing with enthusiasm rarely witnessed up here since the indie heydays of the ’90s.The band match the energy too, singer John Dwyer only pausing to casually ﬂip his guitar over his shoulders to tweak his amp, conﬁdent that the band have got his back while a room of ﬂailing limbs wave as the crowd yelp along to ‘Meat Step Lively’.Thee Oh Sees have a raw, restless energy that gives the most mild mannered of chaps the urge to ride on each others shoulders and stick up two ﬁngers.This most proliﬁc of bands have removed themselves from the introspective drone of surf rock, past the realms of punk into pure unadulterated rock’n’roll. Exchanging verses back and forth with Brigid Dawson as she hammers her tambourine, they allow themselves to be consumed. John laughing and pointing his guitar at the crowd in a Johnny Cash salute, they disappear amid the distorted smash of ‘I Was Denied’, while merrily twirling our arms along to the giddy psychstomp of ‘Warm Slime’, we’re just glad bands like Thee Oh Sees are still around.
CIVIL CIVIC The Victory, Dalston, London 09.06.2011 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Instrumental post-rock is great to wander around to, pretending you’re in a ﬁlm, but it rarely brings the party, and more often than not the movie soundtrack of bands like 65daysofstatic become overly dramatic and then boring. It’s probably because Australian duo Civil Civic’s third ‘member’,The Box, is a massive drum machine, and that they often play zapping synths that their lyric-less music remains ﬁst-pumpingly fun and also ATP credible.Their movie music is for a ﬁlm that consists only of scenes where a spaceship is ﬂeeing a star mid-supernova. It’s a triumphant, loud sound.This evening, guitarist Aaron Cupples and bassist Ben Green are less Flight of The Conchords than their online video appeal to raise money for the pressing their debut album has us expecting. A couple of wisecracks aside, they largely keep their heads down and lips buttoned, and they begin sounding like Metronomy playing airy krautrock, but they soon dip into a black hole of apocalyptic noise.With ﬂashes of rainbow strobe one second and total blackout the next, it sums up exactly what the band are about – a perfectly synchronised mesh of electro pop and cheek-vibrating space noise.They’re at their best, though, when they cruise an austere middle ground owed to The Cure and the ’80s, like on ‘Lights On A Leash’, and the crowd seem to agree – a chunk of people leave after it’s played. For a band with no words, though, Civil Civic command your attention, loudly, and by embracing as many upbeat melodies as they do swamping static.
BEATY HEART White Heat, Soho, London 31.05.2011 By Chal Ravens ▼
For most bands, allowing your drummer to sit out a coveted White Heat headline slot so he can catch up on coursework would be pretty disastrous. But for Beaty Heart – four exuberant, ﬂaxenhaired waifs who say “we’re from
Peckham” but mean “we’re from a very famous art college near Peckham” – this blow ‘tis merely a scratch, because they’re still left with two drummers, plus a formidable sample bank. Needless to say, it’s a heart that beats with all the ﬂuttering gusto of a juvenile summer romance, incorporating Animal Collective’s squelchy ‘Merriweather…’ sound palette and – well, not a whole lot else, if we’re honest.Vocals come in joyous bursts and yelps of broken falsetto, loaded with reverb and halfhidden in the waterfall of toms and toybox synths. Points must be awarded for a successful transition from the super-dense, sampleheavy recorded tracks to a proper live show, with a singer who can actually sing and plenty of sweat and kinetic energy. But Beaty Heart might still need to prove they can escape the long shadow cast by AnCo. Meanwhile, check out the riotous carnival vibes of ‘2Good’, just released on Loose Lips Records.
THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART Queens Social Club, Shefﬁeld 13.06.2011 By Daniel Dylan Wray ▼
Sound problems dog The Pains of Being Pure at Heart from the off, making opener ‘Belong’ feel even more like a My Bloody Valentine rip off than it does on the record, due to the weaving smudge of sounds that fail to give it a distinctness or edge.When the band are ﬁnally able to ﬁnd their feet, they exude a degree of sincere ferocity and tight musicianship that creates a unity of appreciative nods in the crowds, but no one is having the gig of their life, on or off stage. The plaudits are largely overlooked by the drained vocals and almost non-existent keyboard and backing vocals that remains ever-present throughout the night. It’s genuinely difﬁcult to judge a band on their performance when they are clearly hearing a different amalgamation of sounds as to what you are in the crowd, but regardless of clarity, it’s an up and down performance at best. At times the New Yorkers are ﬁlled with spunk and gusto, and at others it feels ﬂat and derivative – the ultimate
experience of a show that sadly, somehow feels beyond them.The band are clearly capable of nailing a hook or two, it’s just tonight we couldn’t quite hear them hammering loud enough. Had we, it may have been a different picture altogether.
FAIR OHS The Victory, Dalston, London 03.06.2011 By Matthias Scherer ▼
It’s the ﬁrst Saturday in June, it’s past 11pm in the basement of a pub in Dalston, it’s Fair Ohs’ album launch for a long overdue debut album of tropical punk that’s as summer as Ambre Solaire and burnt sausages – it’s party time alright. After having paid their live dues in seemingly every drinking hole London has to offer, the three local lads can now ﬁnally celebrate the release of their self-released debut album, and celebrate they do, egged on by the bouncing mob of friends that has wedged itself in the space between the microphone stand, a concrete pillar and the bar. “How amazing is this,” shouts singer Eddie Frankel in reference to the supporting cast of opening bands - Sauna Youth, Cold Pumas and The One. “It’s like my own ATP!”Then, early on, there’s micgrabbing by overeager punters ﬂying high on Kopparberg, sweat puddles on the ﬂoor, and a relentless stream of afro-poppunk-rock anthems (there really is no other word for them) coming from the three grinning dudes on stage who pass back and forth their spoils - a bottle of Jack Daniels. Eddie’s guitar has that shimmering, glaring bite to it that makes it cut through the oxygen-free zone that is the crowd, Matt Flag’s bass lines rumble like a volcano about to pop and Joe Ryan’s dunk-a-dunka beat sends everyone into a frenzy whenever it kicks in, which, thankfully, is very often. Ultimately, the band are a mess; as shambolic as they can be; exactly what you’d expect from drunk punk show in a cellar, and all the more fun for it. Highlights of an already euphoric, endorphin-inducing set are the joyous, drunken sea shanty of ‘Baldessari’ and the scuzzy Paul Simon homage ‘Everything is Dancing’. But take our word for it, it’s all pretty fucking awesome.
FILM By IAN ROEBUCK
13 ASSASSINS Starring: Kôji Yakusho,Takayuki Yamada,Yûsuke Iseya Director:Takashi Miike
The Inbetweeners. CUMMING to a cinemas near you
Cinema Preview Sitcoms on the silver screen ---The death knell for sitcom success: adapting a middling to good TV programme to the silver screen. It’s the equivalent to wheeling round the British Broadcasting Centre screaming, “BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!” What started in the ’70s as harmless fun, (Porridge, Rising Damp, The Likely Lads) has gotten way out of control. On the Buses beat Diamonds are Forever to the box ofﬁce top spot and Morcambe and Wise lost their spark – dark times.The self-congratulatory ’90s seemed a blast at the time – all boner jokes and Eyeball Pauls as Harry Enﬁeld’s particular brand of catchphrase comedy clobbered the cinema with an unsubtle thud. Even an extreme soft spot for Edward Elizabeth Hitler and Richard Richard couldn’t hide the fact that Bottom’s Guest House Paradiso was as messy as its vomit ﬁlled denouement. So with apprehension and a grimace we approach The Inbetweeners: a feature length episode destined to dominate our ﬁlmic horizon in August and determined to introduce more than just ‘clunge’ to our everyday language. The familiar Inbetweeners lexicon was thrust upon us in the ﬁrst teaser trailer, James Buckley grabbing the only line in a minute’s worth of predictability saying, “you better bring your wellies because it’ll be kneedeep in clunge.”Thanks James.To paraphrase the show, you get the feeling we will be ‘nuts deep’ in cliché. Even the boys’ holiday to Crete feels like a stereotype dragged out of the sea – let’s hope they ﬁnd Reggie Perrin amongst the seaweed and nob jokes.
From a different perspective, this cynical viewpoint is somewhat unfair.Who can deny a production team their victory lap after unexpected success on telly? But whilst The Inbetweeners shined in series one and two, I doubt comedy fans will be frothing at the gash for their exploits in ﬁlm. Instead of bastardising an existing format, how about reshaping a successful show for a new audience. Michael Winterbottom’s gentle jaunt around the British countryside is being re-edited to movie length and marketed to the States as one. The Trip and its gentle six episodes have been condensed for American tastes (that’s a lot of Michael Caine impressions in one sitting) and it just might work. Winterbottom’s cinematic eye stood out on the small screen and the States love the uptight English, so is it time they embraced Steve Coogan? Maybe not with a nuanced show like The Trip but how about Alan Partridge? Armando Iannucci’s already stated Partridge will remain in England for the ﬁlm, saying Simon Cowell’s spot on an American TV show would be too good for Alan, so maybe we ﬁnally have a sitcom that won’t stick to the usual formula. The ﬁlm project has been bouncing around forever though, with a supposed Al-Qaeda plot put on hold after the July 7th bombings in London.The chances are, if the thing is ever made, that they’ll still push boundaries, though.With all the writers from the TV series on board and various rumours involving Die Hard in Norwich to fuel the ﬂames, this could be sitcom gold for the big screen.Then again it could be a clanger, ANY OLD IRON, ANY OLD IRON. My Family the Movie anyone?
Takashi Miike’s sociopathic tendencies and acid wit are toned down somewhat for 13 Assassins: a beautifully sad homage to Kurosawa and a giant leap in theme for one of Japan’s most in demand ﬁlm-makers.The Director of Audition instils his killer instinct to a classic samurai story, but expertly creates a melancholy tone to counter the high body count. With Lord Naritsugu on the rampage it’s up to 13 brothers in arms to stabilise their society with swordpower. Much of the ﬁlm’s power lies in the numbers – 13 take on nearly 7 times that as a virtual army is destroyed in a jaw dropping battle scene that carries an hour of ﬁlm with ﬁnesse, verve and even humour, leaving most action ﬁlms trailing in its wake. 13 Assassins’ real power though lies in its ﬁrst hour – a peaceful and well-paced masterclass in storytelling that sets a sense of pace with a subtlety rare in modern day ﬁlmmaking.The opening scene slow burns the audience with Lord Naritsugu’s sadistic, oppressive ruling and slowly but surely enough we are introduced to the 13 chosen to end his vicious campaign. Miike’s penchant for violence is on show here, but whilst the majority of blood splattered scenes lie in the epic closing battle, it’s the harrowing images from the ﬁrst third that remain – a peasant undone of limbs and a child killed with a cold blooded arrow cause more of a ﬂutter than the many dismembered heads. Koji Yakusho plays it straight as our hero. A samurai built to serve the people, his solid, level headed Shinzaemon provides the ﬁlm with a moral compass; every actor using Yakusho as base camp, every performance weaving around his central character with delicate skill. For his simple pitch and personality only Takeshi Kitano’s Zatoichi has come close in recent years to skillfully combining the old with the new. A highly accomplished movie that brings together our frantic modern world with the still beauty of Samurai.
TO LOUD AND
QUIET DIGITAL AND GET A LTD 12”
騒々しく、静かな日本 COMING SOON
PARTY WOLF PHOTO CASEBOOK “The Persistent World of Ian Beale”
Ummm... This is NOT what you think it is!
GET THE LOOK
Shit! This might be what you think it is
Rule one of being an IBS (International Brand Sensation): always take a good picture! No larking about as if your Robin Williams or Goose; when those cameras get snapping, you need to pop a handsome pose.The tumbs up says: “Hey buddy! Everything is okay! Let’s have a good time!” It’s positive, and trust me, people like that. Opra soaped that shit up like a sponge with a gut. But look what else I’m doing here – I’m ﬂexing the shit out of that Baby Gap tee! I always like to say: “The thumb says ‘Yes!’, the gun says ‘Fitness’!”Wait, scratch that, I’ll go again.The gun SCREAMS ‘Fitness’. And if you can get your forearm bulging with veins, deﬁnitely do that! It’s a healthy look, like the side of a horse. I can’t even begin to tell you how important a natural smile is too. It’s a tricky thing, so practise in the mirror! And if you’ve got a complex about your teeth (maybe they’re yellow or crooked) simply don’t show ‘em. I never do – I keep my mouth closed and let the thumb say “YES!”. And behind my shade, you know what my eyes are saying? “I’m an IBS, man! This is fucking wild! C’Mon!!!!”
POLI-TWIT Even PMs have computers, y’know? Oh for fuck sake!
Don’t forget to add me on myspace people. :p about 20 minutes ago from device
Can’t wait for the Inbetweeners ﬁlm. What is they always say? Clange. That’s it. Love it! about 6 hours ago from device
Yeeeaaahh. This is what it is. Red-handed
Compare The Meerkat ads are tooo funny. Simples! about 6 hours ago from device
@GeorgieO Ha! Wassaaauuupppp! about 7 hours ago from device
Odd Future are sick, aren’t they? about 8 hours ago from device
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely ﬁctitious.
tUnE-yArDs / Battles / Baths / Prince Rama / Moon Duo / Husband / The Fresh & Onlys / ∆ / Colourmusic / Washed Out