LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 31 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
THE RAPTURE WOMANâ€™S HOUR ICEAGE SUMMER CAMP RITUALZ I BREAK HORSES VIVIAN GIRLS KRISTINA RECORDS MOGWAI
RYA N A DA M S ALONE AGAIN, NATURALLY
You’ve probably got a favourite show. And a least favourite. But have you got a weirdest? Did you see Ryan Adams play London’s Royal Festival Hall in November 2002? He was touring his second solo album, ‘Gold’, although you’d never have known that – just three of the twenty songs played were from that record, the rest a mix of Whiskytown rarities, highlights from his previous album, ‘Heartbreaker’, and a couple of covers: one terrible (‘Brown Sugar’), the other worth the admission fee on its own (‘Wonderwall’). There was a single spotlight on the stage, but it wasn’t on Adams. It was on a clown, sat at the back on a garden chair, reading a newspaper. And between every song half of the audience would leave, only to return ten minutes later, prompting those still inside to shimmy out to the bar, ensuring there was a constant tide of bodies to go with oddities onstage. It was all very strange. That was almost a decade ago though, and the Ryan Adams of then is notably different to the man on the cover of this month’s issue. He’s released ten more albums since, and his eleventh – ‘Ashes & Fire’ – is due next month. It’s a marked return to his more poignant work, closer to that of ‘Love Is Hell’ and ‘Heartbreaker’. He’s kicked drink and drugs, moved to LA and married a Hollywood actress. And he’s learned a fair bit too – when we tell him about Lou Reed’s set at this year’s Hop Farm Festival (our second weirdest show), he says: “I used to think that fucking with your audience’s expectation was a cool idea. It isn’t! It’s a disservice to them. You should play everything they want to hear because it’s an excellent job. I used to be a plumber and I remind myself of that every time I go on stage.”
CONTRI B UTORS 01
C OC HI E S S E
OL LY PA R K E R
P IE R R E - PA UL PA R IS E A U
If you want to be a photographer but have never studied photography, take a look at Cochi’s blog, talesofthejazzage.tumblr.com. Better still, take a look at her shoot with Maria Linden – aka I Break Horses – in this month’s issue. Cochi never studied photography either and yet two years after picking up a camera she’s become an indemand snapper, especially within the hardcore punk circles she cut her teeth on back in Italy. These days Cochi lives in London and regularly shoots for Vice amongst others, always on ﬁlm. Her shoot with Maria is the ﬁrst the young Swede has done where you can see her face.
Olly’s written about music since he was 16. He’s put on gigs and DJ’d since I was 19, ﬁrst launching a club night called Room At The Top at The Camden Palace (now Koko), before co-launching White Heat – London’s most inﬂuential and longest running weekly indie club. He’s worked in record stores since he was 21 and labels since 23, but before all of that he was born into politics so right now he’s doing that. He was the perfect person to write about new independent record store Kristina Records, though, something that Olly says he did because he “has a problem”. His problem, you’ll see, is how much money he’s spent there already.
Based in Montreal, Canada, artist and illustrator Pierre-Paul Pariseau is a master of collages, having spent years perfecting the technique the old-school way, without the use of technology. Around six years ago he developed the hyper-coloured style he’s now known for with the aid of a computer, rejuvenating his art and landing him in the Magma published book FRESH 3: Cutting Edge Illustrations and Luerzer’s Archive’s 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide. “For this issue, I wanted to show the mourning of Amy Winehouse in a way where she would still be a star,” says Pierre-Paul, “alive in some way.” See his illustration by turning the page.
A. BLOODFLOOD AA. TESSELLATE THE DEBUT SINGLE BY ALT-J
IN STORES 10/10/11 PRE ORDER FROM WWW.LOUDANDQUIET.COM LAQ004
BEGINNING OCTOB E R 2011
AMERICAN BOY / TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE BY LUKE WINKIE: OUR MAN IN BAR AK ’S BACK YARD
GOOD MOURNING AUSTIN LAIKE’S NEIGHBOURHOOD HAS BEEN OVERRUN WITH TOURISTS OF THE MACABRE
TRAVELLING AROUND EUROPE AND REALISING YOU’RE NOT AS HATED AS YOU ONCE THOUGHT
It’s been two months since the death of Amy Winehouse – an event made all the more salacious and tragic due to the singers young age, and plain tragic because, beneath the beehive and bedlam, she was clearly a good person. You can see Amy’s house from my ﬂat, if you crane your neck. And without moving a muscle you can see those mourning her death. Two months later and still they come, everyday, although most of them don’t act like your typical mourner. Amy Winehouse’s house-as-a-tourist-trap began the very day her body was found, on 23 July 2011. The road was cornered off by police tape and news vans arrived and extended their satellite dishes beside a large crowd of locals craning like me. It wasn’t widely known that Amy lived at 30 Camden Square, and suddenly her death in the property was international news – the reaction was hardly surprising. Amongst the media hubbub there remained a deﬁnite air of sadness though, and that continues, for some visitors, to this day. But it didn’t take long for morbid curiosity and ‘I was there!’ bravado to take over. On the evening of July 23rd I returned home at midnight to ﬁnd that the street was slightly less cornered off and that candles had been lit and vigils left in Amy’s honour. There were still plenty of people there, respectively silent, staring at the house. There were also people smiling and posing for pictures in front of the tributes and property, though, as if they were about to get on the London Eye for the ﬁrst time. The following day a rather opportunistic ice-cream van turned up, and as that ﬁrst week stretched on, Amy Winehouse’s house was never short of people outside with their thumbs up for the iPhone, even at 4am. Since, those travelling to London NW1 to pay their respects to the memory of Amy Winehouse have looked more and more bored once they get here. They sit on the facing curb with a look of can-we-go-now? on their faces, or peer over the tall black gates only to look disappointed that there’s not much going on at all. Plenty still bring ﬂowers (even though the council have now erected a note saying that tributes will be cleared daily), and plenty feel compelled to come and say goodbye to a great talent. But so many others come to say they saw it, like Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise. Not every young death receives this kind of prolonged hysteria, and it’s a testament to Winehouse’s legacy that so many still trundle up to Camden Square. Mostly, though, it’s a testament to how obsessed we continue to be with dead pop stars. Far more than ones that are alive.
I spent the bulk of my August bouncing between London, Paris, and a few tourist-driven castle-towns in Belgium. It was not my ﬁrst time, but being the American Boy I feel obligated to write about it. My father’s heritage draws directly back into southern England, he did the very American thing and met a midwestern escapee in a Californian supermarket, spent a year kicking around the world and got hitched at the brisk age of 20. Why so soon? It was the only way he could immigrate into the country, which honestly sounds like something Tom Petty would sing about. I did my usual American shtick abroad, attempting to be as respectful as possible, using the full extent of my French vocabulary (two words), being occasionally confounded by local customs (mayo on French fries?) and generally trying to immerse my identity past the point of recognition. Americans tend to think the world hates them much more than they actually do, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m absolutely surgical with my word choice around anyone who happens to pick up on my accent. It was sports talk, mainly, the universal compromise between all cultures. My passive interest in soccer and my cousin’s more active interest in American Football are always easy ways in. We also talked a lot about British hip-hop, dubstep, the deﬁnition of UK indie, etcetera. Like most, I’m continually enthralled by the ferocious meme of grime artist Tempa T, which was good for a lot of discourse. My two English cousins, like me, have a deﬁned taste in music, plenty of opinions, and (unlike me) a cynic’s edge. They showed me around Reading, which actually turned out to be uncannily similar to my origin in El Cajon – both mid-level, cultureless spots on the cusp of a much more interesting place. For them it’s London, for me it was San Diego. For kids like us, it’s almost preferable to pretend you live closer to the city. There was this venue on the campus of San Diego’s ﬂagship university called The Che’ Café. It was populated by the most rooted of hipsters, who, after the show, would get back in their cars and drive out back to the outskirts. It’s how I felt on the train heading beyond London’s limits. I know it’s only tertiary related to music, but I feel Americans tend to paint themselves into a corner. As it turns out, kindness and respect transcend any political schisms. The European people I spoke to were all immediately sweet. Sure, I’m a traveller who understands and avoids the tourist clichés, but a young American boy who is clearly on holiday could’ve been easy fodder. Luckily, we’re all still human – even if our leaders might not be.
Illustration by pierrepaulpariseau.com
AMY WINEHOUSE’S HOUSE-AS-ATOURIST-TRAP BEGAN THE DAY SHE DIED
BEGINNING SINGLES & EPS / BOOKS 01 BY JA NIN E & L EE B U L L M A N
(TOUGH LOVE) OUT SEPT 24
JE NN Y O HOME
K Y L A L A GR A NGE HE AV Y S T ONE / L A MB S
(MANIMAL) OUT NOW
(CHESS CLUB) OUT OCT 13
An EP with embroidered artwork and an opening line of “You are my lover and I do love you” should be too insipid for even the tweeist of cupcake decorators, and Jenny O’s (even her name makes you want to grab for her cheeks) debut release is certainly the sugar-toothed listen it promises to be. ‘Home’ isn’t unbearably sickly though; it’s far too melancholic and sobering for that. At ﬁve tracks long, the west coast singer starts with a laconic country track rooted in the ’60s called ‘Well Ok Honey’. It’s nice, if a little putrid in O’s vocal that sounds a bit like she’s putting on a baby’s voice. From there things go more than a bit beautiful with the extra sparse ‘All My Wishes’, then cute but boring (‘Won’t Let You Leave’), really sad (‘I Do I Do’) and a little happier (‘Home’), but only a little. It’s the introduction of piano – and the discarding of everything else – that makes the closing tracks so weepy, but at least they won’t rot your teeth.
Watford singer Kyla La Grange has, thankfully, not chosen Kate Bush as her sole inﬂuence. She’s refused to enter a world at capacity with solo female artists trying to out-bewitch each other; a world where Florence and Bat For Lashes exchange cobwebbed blows to varied affect. Kyla isn’t cloaked in black velvet; she’s draped in linen beside a wind machine. She is, as recent comparisons have justly put it, very much like Stevie Nicks, and both ‘Heavy Stone’ and ‘Lambs’ are worldly and epic and soulful and highly emotional, like all the best semi-power ballads of Nicks’ day. She even sings like her, teetering between deep and womanly and light and angelic to the thud of tom drums. The big question is, just how well is Kyla La Grange pulling all of this off, and the answer is, brilliantly. So brilliantly in fact that we’ll put it down to coincidence that Nicks and Fleetwood Mac are currently such hip names for artists to drop.
H AT E : M Y L IF E IN T HE BR I T IS H F A R R IGH T B Y M AT T HE W C OL L IN S (BITEBACK)
As a young man Matthew Collins became involved in radical, violent, extreme rightwing politics. As an active member of the National Front and then the BNP he saw the Far Right in action close up and did what anyone in their right mind would do. He switched sides. Rather than exit the scene completely, Collins remained at its heart and passed on all of the movement’s dirty little secrets to someone who could do something about it. Once it became clear that Collins was selling out his old allies he had to make a run for it for ten long years before he could come back and ﬁght them head on, full time. With an introduction by Billy Bragg, Hate: My Life In The British Far Right is a timely examination of how the ‘characters’ who make up the extreme right wing operate and what can and must be done to stop them.
HO W T O BE A W OM A N B Y C A I T L IN MOR A N (EBURY PRESS)
When Caitlin Moran began her professional career as a music journalist she was just a teenager, and whether you agreed with her about The Manic Street Preachers or not, she was always worth a read. In How To Be A Woman, Moran focuses her attention on pretty much anything and everything of interest to the modern feminist, from ruminations on Katie Price to ﬁnally meeting Lady GaGa. As always Moran is capable of being laugh-out-loud funny but not afraid to tackle the more uncomfortable aspects of her life. Smart, funny and ranted from the heart, How To Be A Woman shows Moran at her best, examining the absurdities of modern life and ﬁnding plenty there to ponder and laugh at.
Single reviews by Sean Denning / Sam Little / Stuart Stubbs Blowback by Lee Bullman and Michael Forwell published by Pan Macmillan available now. www.leebullman.com
F A IR OH S PA C IF IC R IM
Fair Ohs’ past isn’t a murky one, but it is very distant, and uncharacteristically loud for a band that released ‘Everything Is Dancing’ this year – an album of tropical melodies and African-inspired pop songs about the coast. The trio’s early history as a hardcore punk band is rarely left out of reviews and interviews, but due to its ﬂeeting nature (as Thee Fair Ohs the band only played a few thrash shows and released just one strictly limited cassette tape of highly un-tropical material) few really know whether the band made the right call when trading US hardcore for world music. Plainly, as this collection of early recordings ﬁnally proves, they did, although so wildly different are the tracks of ‘Paciﬁc Rim’ to those of ‘Everything Is Dancing’ it is a bit like comparing a sausage to a hammer. Fair Ohs certainly had the makings of a great punk band, steering clear of mindlessly playing as fast as they could. Most of the 8 tracks squeezed onto this 7” follow the same winning formula that goes into ‘Now I Love You’, piecing together chunks of thrash with a mid-paced garage groove and the odd dramatic pause. It makes sense that the band have taken the route they have, but ‘Paciﬁc Rim’ is a different beast before it’s a weaker one.
BEGINNING TH E P RE V I E W
IT ’S A SHIT BUSINESS: SIMON GR AY WAS IN A BAND ONCE
Photography by Owen Richards
T HE E ND Let’s recap. Plaster Scene, my old band of the Brit Pop fallout era that deﬁnitely doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, formed on prefect duty, grew at the hands of a man who lived in a windmill (our drummer, Jimmy ‘The Weasel’ Howlett), played a ﬁrst show that was described in the local press as “Oh dear” and managed to attract a manager called Howie B’Danus (yes, pronounced how you hope it is) who came with a Don Johnson suit, a record label called Noise Annoys and a right hand man/driver called Swinger, who’d clearly seen better days. All that was left to do now, other than release a single that I would ﬁnd some 9 years later in a charity shop bargain bin and hit the road with Supergrass, was, as it turned out, split up. B’Danus, as I had expected, was no good for us. Managers who feed their bands Class A’s at the rate he did rarely are. On top of what was becoming monstrous cocaine abuse, we’d taken a new fancy to eating speed in the way that most people would eat Quality Street at Christmas. Tensions had reached breaking point, and our moment of total collapse came when Quinn (our singer and my Jagger), for some reason or another (I do recall telling him I wished he was in a coma), punched me in the face after a show in Peterborough. I dropped like a sailor’s pants, and that was that. Band over! Of course, nothing ever lasts forever. Everyone knows that, just like everyone knows that band members always end up hating each other. But not your band. Your band is watertight; your band is always going to last for a lifetime… until it doesn’t. I went home to lick my wounds and consider just how close we’d come to making it. I mean, we kinda did. We half made it, maybe, like Thee Unstrung or Dodgy (okay, Dodgy got further than us). The same thing fucked it up for us as fucks it up for all bands in the end – silliness. And God knows why I was ever surprised by that. The day we signed our record deal should have been a sign of things to come – me getting so uncontrollably excited that I slid across the room on my knees... and broke my jaw on our drummer’s knee. And as I stand looking at a copy of ‘Don’t Look To Me’ in Scope, I have to think, it really is a shit business.
THE FLOOD GALLERY THE TRUE ART OF THE GIG POSTER COMES TO GREENWICH, LONDON Posters are an integral part of growing up. From the airbrushed red Ferrari to the ‘Take Me To Your Dealer’ alien, they’re the best way of marking your teenage territory without resorting to piss. They tell our friends what we like and our parents what they should be worried about us liking, and it’s never long before the Testarossas and the advocation of soft drugs are dropped for some band or another that look or sound good. Band posters fall clearly into two very different camps – the commercial-band-promo-photo-and-logo camp, and the bespoke-lovingly-inked-and-printed camp. The former resides on the wet night ﬂoor outside your local thousand-seat venue,
“FUNDAMENTALLY, GIG POSTERS ARE JUST GREAT PIECES OF DESIGN”
next to the girl’s tees that are now only a ﬁver. They’re ripe for your wall as they are – just sling ‘em up. The latter deserve to be bought sober and framed, and while they’re harder to ﬁnd, a new gallery called Flood – in Greenwich, London – has made it a little easier. Displaying and selling screen-printed poster art from around the world, The Flood Gallery is the new project of local enthusiast Chris Marksberry and designer Tom Warner, inspired by two trips to Flatstock – an annual exhibition of poster art held at Austin showcase SxSW. Marksberry ﬁrst came across the show in 2008, only to revisit it earlier this year. On his return he started to put The Flood Gallery
together, lining the walls of his Greenwich Market space with colourful prints that once promoted shows for everyone from Sonic Youth and Arcade Fire to No Age and REM. “Gig posters mean different things to different people,” explains Warner. “Some people want a cool memento from a great show they went to, others are just fans of the bands featured in the posters, and then (maybe a little more surprisingly) some people don’t even know who the bands are, they just appreciate them as great pieces of design. Fundamentally, that’s what they are, just great pieces of graphic design.” It’s the quality of the illustrations on sale at Flood that is instantly striking, rather than the names of the bands that ﬁrst commissioned them. Fortunately though, because this style of expressive design was forged in the ﬁres of early DIY, a vast majority of acts still opting for limited screen-print runs over mass-produced, lazer-jet-ed posters remain highly credible – the best of both worlds: a Mudhoney poster beautiful enough to frame before you hang it. “A lot of what makes our posters special is the process used to print them,” says Warner. “Ninety percent of artists screen print their work by hand, which not only opens things up creatively but also enables them to keep run sizes low. It means that posters can be printed in limited edition, numbered runs, making them collectible. You’re not buying a one-of-a-kind piece of art, but then you’re also not buying a mass produced poster; they sit somewhere in the middle – collectible, yet affordable.” Flood trades in movie posters too, but again, not the type you liberate from Odeon on your way home. As Warner explains, America’s independent cinemas have taken note of alt. music promoters, commissioning new interpretations of classic ﬁlm posters for special screenings. “Our aim is pretty simple,” he says, “to bring a selection of the best contemporary gig and movie posters from around the world to London, and offer people the chance to own some of it.”
BEGINNING LE FTO V E RS
KE ITH MORRIS
FUCKED UP’S DAMIAN ABRAHAM POSES THE QUESTIONS TO BACK FLAG, CIRCLE JERKS AND OFF! FOUNDER KEITH MORRIS
What are your thoughts on Circle Jerks’ ‘VI’ (The much maligned “metal” record, which I think is actually pretty good)? The thing that was happening with the Circle Jerks at that time was large quantities of beer and Hollywood happy powder, which messed with a couple of the guys’ creativity and one of the other members had become a full time guitarist in another more popular band so they became his priority. Some of us just went along with what the others were up to and didn’t really pay attention to the direction the band was heading. Our drummer, Keith “Adolph” Clark, was playing in a pre Spinal Tap metal parody band and we thought it would be cool to record a few of their songs. What the fuck were we thinking? Once again, as it was in Black Flag, we just did it! But Damian, I don’t sit around listening to any of the recordings I was or am a part of. I’d rather listen to your record, ‘David Comes Alive’, Deerhunter’s ‘Microcastle’, The Shins’ ‘Chutes Too Narrow’, or anything by No Age, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall or Black Lips. Some people feel that Circle Jerks attracted a fanbase that was more prone to violence. How do you feel about that? We didn’t associate ourselves with the troublemakers, even though the new batch of fans were way more athletic and aggressive compared to the clique of early Hollywood punker dunkers who were more concerned with fashion and had an ‘Art School’ or Bohemian mentality. When Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Agent Orange showed up so did a whole new
gaggle of crazy peeps bringing along whatever garbage they dragged with them from the suburbs. Our mentality was to help create the soundtrack for the party; we wanted everybody to have a great time and not get hurt. While I was a member of Black Flag we’d play and shit would ﬂy while we were oblivious to what was going on, whereas with the Jerks we paid a little bit more attention to our surroundings and wanted to be a part of a festive vibe. Is it true SST has an unreleased Circle Jerks record in the vault? NO! SST would not have anything to do with us as Greg Ginn was power trippin’ and we’d not bow down to any of his demands! You’ve gotta’ remember that Ginn and some of those other SST peeps did not dig on the Jerks as we were stealing some of their thunder. There was a competition
“WE WERE FOUR ANGRY, FRUSTRATED, BUMMED-OUT BEACH RAT NERDS”
between the two camps so we went off to do our own thing and they obviously created their own scene. Even if there was an unreleased Circle Jerks recording, which there’s not, it would never have come out through Ginn and SST. How did OFF! come about? My other band became so full of themselves that there was a prevailing mentality of, “We can record anything we want and our fans will ﬂock to it just like thirsty animals to water”. I knew things were going to a place I didn’t want to see or go to. We were trying to create a new record and it wasn’t happening
the way they wanted so they gave the second most important person in the scenario a pink slip and in doing so presented Dimitri and myself with this insanely incredible opportunity. I received a phone call informing me that a decision had been made that would force me to quit a band I’ve been a member of for over 30 years and helped start, and unless you’re Genesis or The Doobie Brothers you don’t ﬁre your lead singer! Of course I quit with my head ﬁlled with guns going off, explosions and dead bodies everywhere. What are the main differences between being in a hardcore band now and in the earlier days? Once again, it’s another sitch that I pay no mind to, as I’m ecstatic about being in this new band and letting all the descriptive adjectives and critical junk roll off the sides. I don’t consider myself a hardcore or punk rock kinda’ guy due to the fact that I would lose hands down in a GG Allin competition! I know I’m considered to be a leading ﬁgure in these genres or categories, but ultimately I’m just a gang member… the human beings. One of the coolest things about you is how much of a fan of music you are. Who are some of the bands recently that you don’t think have gotten their due? There are so many, but my list of bands that should be playing the Hollywood Palladium as opposed to the Echoplex would be The Bronx, The Melvins, New Pornographers, Crocodiles, Woven Bones, and I think your group should move up higher in the rankings – that will come with time. What are you thoughts on the other Black Flack singers? And do you prefer side one or side two of ‘My War’? Ron is better than Dez who is better than Henry who is better than me but I’m better than Ron who isn’t as good as Henry but is better than Dez who’s not as good as I was, but I certainly was better than Ron who wasn’t as good as Henry who was better than I was, etc., etc., etc. All of us did our vocal thing in an extremely awesome way and when it comes to ‘My War’, I don’t have a favourite side! I love all of it! I’m INCREDIBLY proud to have been part of that scene!
Photography by Dan Kendall Read an extended version of Damian and Keith’s interview at www.loudandquiet.com/tag/leftovers
When Black Flag was recording ‘Nervous Breakdown’, did you guys think of it as something radically different or did you look at it as extension of the other punk stuff that was happening around the time? We didn’t really let it weigh us down in the thought or comparison department, as our situation was ‘the blind leading the blind’. The four of us were just a bunch of angry, frustrated, depressed, bummed-out, beach rat nerds who just wanted to make a large noise! We had abso-fuckin’-lutely no idea as to where we were going or what we were doing... we just did it!
F E E D I N G T H E H A B I T THERE’S NO HOPE OF OLLY PARKING KICKING HIS ADDICTION NOW. NOT WITH NEW, REAL LIFE RECORD STORE KRISTINA RECORDS OPENING ON HIS DOORSTEP photographer – PAVLA KOPECNA
I am a proper vinyl junkie. I own four different versions of ‘The Perfect Prescription’ by Spaceman 3. I have an initial pressing of Albert Ayler’s debut album, ‘Spiritual Unity’. After a two-year search I have obtained a mint copy of ‘Love Backed by Force’ by The Tronics. One day I hope to own an original version of ‘Tigermilk’ by Belle and Sebastian – and if you don’t know what “an original copy” constitutes then I would question how much of a fan you really are. In short, I have a problem. I also remember where I was when a visiting friend told me how a new local record store, Kristina Records, was opening ﬁve minutes from my house and invited me to the launch party,and I remember how disappointed I was when they didn’t sell any records at said launch party. I now have a bag of records on hold behind the counter and this problem doesn’t look like it’s getting better any time soon. The new shop on Kingsland Road, Dalston, London, was big news. Firstly, I’d get my ﬁx much easier; secondly, who the fuck opens a record store these days? I may have a problem, but I fully expect that people younger than me think that paying for music is about as outdated as the telegram, dial-up internet and paper. I always thought it was simple economics.The young me used to go record shopping and split my meagre earnings between records, gig tickets and drink. Drink
always lost, but if I were young now, I’d download for free, go to the gig and get drunk. It’d be amazing. Turns out, as with most things in life, I was totally wrong. It’s the big shops that are going down the toilet. In two years time, HMV won’t sell music and Virgin Megastore, Zaavi (remember them?) and Tower Records have already gone from our high streets. Beneath that, however, a thriving store scene is starting to emerge once more.“Last year was the ﬁrst year in ages that there were more shops than there were the year before,” says Jason Spinks, part of the trio that founded Kristina Records. Spinks, James Thornington and Jack Rollo bonded over a shared vision of what a music fan would look for in a store today. It wouldn’t be shifting a thousand copies of the latest release in a ﬁrst week sales surge and it wouldn’t be hours spent hunting for a bargain in a dusty shop either. “We’re ﬁnding that vinyl buying is becoming a bit more niche and we want to provide somewhere for that,” says Jason. “We don’t have a lot of stock on sale at any one time, we keep the quality high.” “As an artefact, a piece of vinyl is something quite exciting,” adds Jack Rollo. “It’s a pleasurable thing to own and use. I think indie shops used to be driven by a strong network of distributors, but it’s much more
important now to think about our taste, be particular about the artists we stock and build relationships with the labels and artists. The Internet is a great thing, but if you don’t know what to put in the search box you still need guides to say, “hey this is good” and push things they really like.” “I want recommendations. I want people to say ‘if you like this, you’ll like this,’” says James Thornington.“I want to know what people think is good.” Jack: “There’s a lot of good independent product out there. Lots of small labels doing small things they really believe in.They’re doing things because they really want to, not because there’s a quick buck in it. The records feel good, they look good and it means more. They feel genuine love for the music they’re making and that their friends are making” Jason: “It’s more than just selling records.” What the Kristina’s guys are saying is nothing new. There was always this scene that wanted recommendations and saw record shopping as a place to meet people, hang out and discover new sounds.What’s surprising, however, is, instead of cutting back, as everyone else in the music industry has to, indie shops appear to be growing. Rough Trade are embarking on global projects and there are new indie shops in Brixton and New Cross. I wouldn’t call it a renaissance – we’re not about to enter the golden
THREE TO CHECK-OUT AND ONE YOU’LL NEVER FIND AT KRISTINA RECORDS: JACK ROLLO
era as envisaged by The Minutemen of “a label in every town, a shop on every street, a band on every block” – but with the death of the CD, mainstream shops are now ignoring record buyers. As there are still people who want the experience, it leaves a gap that places like Kristina Records are happy to ﬁll. When I ask what people are buying, Jack replies: “What we’re ﬁnding is we’re not selling lots of the record shop staples – the Beatles, the Stones etc. – we’re selling more interesting offbeat stuff instead”. “Lots of old world music, Mississippi stuff, it’s quite surprising,” adds James. “The internet means the kids are more informed and they know about records it took me years to ﬁnd out about,” says Jack. “We’ve got kids starting up bands that sound like Chrome because it’s been on a blog somewhere and that’s just completely different.” As I stand there chatting away, new faces wander in and start to browse. I recognise fellow people with a record problem, their faces lighting up as they realise that ﬁnally a decent record shop might exist near where they actually live. Dalston is well known as a nightspot and the rents are going up, but this is still one part of London where people who live and work as artists can still just about afford to exist. But is Kristina an exception or could this happen anywhere?
“Something is happening in certain areas,” says Jason. “I think if there were more it would be brilliant,” adds Jack, “but it is quite tough. Anywhere there’s a scene though, I think it could happen.” The store is also planning more in-store shows, club nights and thinks it would be “great” to release a record themselves, but right now they’re just focused on the day-to-day, as is always the case when you start a new business.They’re getting there, though. When the bi-annual “death of the music industry” articles come round, it’s always the shops I fear for most. They are the backbone that everything decent about music as a self-sustaining art is built upon. All the stuff that gets pushed aside by cynical A&R and overworked journalists can ﬁnd a home on the shop ﬂoor. An artist rejected by every label in town has a space where they can do it themselves and build a following just by convincing one shop employee to stock a record. What I’ve always found great about record shops is their potential to become hubs where conversations on the shop ﬂoor can spin off into a thousand projects. Labels, nights, bands, shows; they can all start on the record shop ﬂoor, become successful and then end up back at the record shop on the shelves, becoming the trigger for another new conversation and another new cycle all over again.
Three to check out The new Maria Minerva (Not Not Fun Records), ‘Emma’s House’ by The Field Mice, or anything on Sarah Records, and Felt’s ‘Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty’. One you’ll never ﬁnd ‘No Palez’ by Paul Young. JASON SPINKS
Three to check out Inga Copeland EP, anything on the LIES label, Moodyman’s ‘Silent Introductions’. One you’ll never ﬁnd David Guetta JAMES THORNINGTON
Three to check out ‘Give Me Love: Songs Of The Brokenhearted, Baghdad, 1925-1929’, Fred Mcdowell’s ‘The Alan Lomax Recordings’, ‘White Mice’ by White Mice. One you’ll never ﬁnd Everything’s being re-appraised all the time. I’d never put anyone’s taste down.
THE DARK RAVER
RITUA LZ photographer – CUAUHTEMOC SUAREZ Mexico City is the ﬁfth largest city in the world, and it’s as dangerous as it is vast. There, an estimated 20 people are kidnapped every week. Even with a complete population of 21 million it remains a chilling statistic. Somewhere amongst the sprawl is a small second ﬂoor apartment where a young man called JC lives, his windows covered by trees, not that he ever gets to see the green of their leaves – JC is a night-time kinda guy. “I make music at night, exclusively,” he says.“I wait until it gets dark so I can start working. I work until dawn and then I go to sleep.” Composed and performed under the ominous name Ritualz – or the unpronounceable symbol †‡† – JC’s music is a direct product of the wee hours of a city charged with shady goings on. It’s dark stuff. Dark enough for him to thank Satan in the liner notes of this new split EP with not-too-breezy New Yorker Fostercare, alongside just ‘mum and dad’. “Everyone was like,‘Oh, Ritualz is so dark and evil,’” he says, “so I thought I’d thank mum and dad, obviously, but also a lot of people started listening to my music because of the association to evil, so I thought I have Satan to thank for that.” Like all electronic music trading under the banner of Witch House, Ritualz is one devilish experiment that combines lethargic hip-hop beats with down-tempo trance, industrial inﬂuences and tonnes of white noise. So far released via a CDR EP and a collection of tracks called ‘Ghetto Ass Witch’, the project has caught the attention of LA noise band HEALTH (“Jupiter emailed me to say they were coming to Mexico and that we should hang out. I ended up opening their show for them”) and the man who started the movement, Pictureplane. JC is over the Witch House tag though, which explains why he’s phasing out his †‡† symbol.
writer – STUART STUBBS
(Odd occult-ish logos are synonymous with the genre). “The crosses symbol I only ever had because I’m really bad at naming things,” he explains, “so that was an online screen name and a friend suggested I use that to tag my tracks. I realised, though, that I needed a real name that people could pronounce, and the same friend once told me I was a ritualistic mother fucker, whatever that means, so I went with Ritualz, because it also looks like a hip hop name. “At ﬁrst I really liked being called Witch House,” he continues. “There were only a few bands doing it and I really liked Salem and oOoOO, so people appreciating me with those bands was cool, but after a while everything that was coming out that was a bit dark and lo-ﬁ was called Witch House and it got out of control. I felt that it went from being a really cool art movement online to this terrible blog joke for everyone, so I’m done with it – I don’t want to be part of this joke!” JC is hanging on to certain Witch House conventions, though – the slow-mo terror trance of tracks like ‘Misery Walks’, obviously, but also the stringent shroud of mystery.We’ve only been told Ritualz name is JC for the purpose of this interview; there’s no hope of ﬁnding out what those initials stand for.We’ve no idea what his face looks like, or if the second story apartment covered by trees really even exists. On Ritualz’ Tumblr page, every link (to his soundcloud, facebook page, bandcamp proﬁle etc.) is named the same. Not even his Tumblr is willing to divulge the simplest of details. JC puts it down to the fact that “bands should be a bit more theatrical.” “Mystery and imagery is important,” he says.
Out in the night air of Mexico City, he tells me that hordes of clubbers unite through house and progressive dance music (“but I don’t like those”), or they come together in clubs specially for the growing cyber goth scene. “I kind of feel like I’m on my own,” he says. “There’s a new scene starting of experimental music, but no one is playing the kind of dark dance music I do.” Despite the low BPM of your typical Ritualz’ track, JC still refers to it as “dance music”. He’s even coined Dance Music Forever, his own slogan to print on Tshirts, record sleeves and his blog. Before he began creating electronic music on his own, though, JC liked guitar bands. Dark ones, naturally. From thirteen onwards he listened to Marilyn Manson and black metal, and his dark intrigue has clearly never left him. Ritualz does have its light side, though; you just might not instantly consider it, just like you don’t consider Mexico City’s kidnap rate before anything else. JC explains it by saying that his isn’t “dark music” but rather “mood music”. He says: “If you’re in the right mood when you listen to it, it can make you very happy.” ‘The Dark Raver’ – as he’s also known – has a point, but varying shades of grey are not what makes Ritualz’s music truly intriguing. It’s his experimental bent that really fascinates, and next he’s planning on perusing the sound of the recently released ‘King’. “I see every track I do as an experiment,” he says, “and ‘King’ was me seeing if I could write a pop song, with me singing on it.That’s what I’m working on now… once the sun goes down.”
espite a discussion on domesticity and a spot of bickering, the time we spend with Woman’s Hour is about as far removed from the Radio 4 programme as possible. Sure, we talk dishwashers, romantic rendezvous by swimming pools and contemporary dance, but it’s more like testosterone-fuelled Man’s Hour. The only female member of Woman’s Hour is absent after all, leaving the remaining three quarters of the band to play around in their beautifully gothic rehearsal space. Bringer of oestrogen and lead singer Fiona Burgess is in Spain, searching for some last minute sun. So it’s down to her brother, William, and his two close pals, Josh and Nicolas, to do the talking. “Shall I be Fiona then?” says Will, offering up a highpitched hello.“We’re mostly from Kendal,” he continues, correcting false assumptions that the band, now based in London, are originally from the capital. “Obviously I know my sister through childhood and everything, and I know Nicolas through schooling, although we met by a swimming pool. Man, I’d love to see you swimming now!” he laughs. “Josh is from Warrington and we met him through Fiona. Didn’t you have a massive crush on her actually, Josh?” Josh smiles and tells a story about how he’d text her all the time but she’d never reply. A close-knit foursome, Woman’s Hour have been carving out their zestful, seductive sound for over a year since leaving the North.“We’ve been here a good while now,” explains Nicolas, “about three years, and we don’t miss it, although it’s lovely to go back once in a while.” “Kendal’s one of those places that everyone moves
from anyway,” adds Will.“Most of our friends in London are actually from home. It’s depressing, but it’s also kind of nice as it’s people we’ve known for donkeys.” “There’s a real ex-pat community,” says Will. “We’re an odd bunch.” That may be so, but Woman’s Hour’s peculiar pop is fast garnering the attention of fans with sophisticated tastes. There’s nothing giddy or amateurish about what this four-piece do. They revel in dead space, unafraid of the pauses, not unlike The xx. Slow burn synths and esoteric song structures paint vivid pictures while Fiona’s enigmatic voice adds to the intrigue. They tell stories through ﬂuctuating patterns and by building any given song with sections of sound that don’t appear to belong to one another. For Woman’s Hour, conventional song structure can fuck off. It’s their track ‘Human’ that’s the real whistle-blower. It comes on like two characters; a glimpse into the before and after of someone’s life.You can pretty much split it straight down the middle, separating the extremely sparse Portishead-at-half-speed beginning and the breezy mid-paced ending, which has Fiona crying out where she once provided a dusty sigh. “I’d say that the ﬁrst half of that song is about someone looking into themselves before getting around that and revealing themselves at the end,” says Josh.“A few people have questioned the track and said it should be two different songs…” “But it’s got to be long to work” interrupts Will. “If they were two tracks they’d have to be listened to back to back. Some people maybe don’t get it, but fuck ’em.” ‘Human’ was recorded during a two-day session in the heart of Leeds with the man responsible for Wild Beasts’ second album, ‘Two Dancers’. Richard Formby, clearly drawn to kids from Kendal, shaped much of
W O M E N ’ S
Woman’s Hour’s sound-scapes. “His studio is just such a relaxing environment,” says Will. “Fish and chips for lunch, terraced houses.” Will’s eyes gloss over as he curls a nostalgic smile.“It really was a nice environment to work in. If you look out of his window all you can see is chimneys.We’ve never worked with a producer before and it was so intrinsic to how the songs came out. He said the songs weren’t realised, musically, so we developed them for a better result.” “Watching him do things, running around and throwing stuff through a tape machine then back to his desk,” Josh gestures wildly, “it was a really humbling experience.” Already Woman’s Hour have a bewitching back catalogue in the bank, although their recorded output has remained minimal and sporadic, leaving more questions than answers. As Josh explains, the band believes this patience is deemed necessary if they are to realise their potential: “There are too many bands that are rough and ready and want to make it big, quick. I’d rather we took our time and put things out exactly how we want them to be. You are not going to get an artist put up a half ﬁnished painting, after all.” With good ears and eyes, Woman’s Hour have an admirable openness to new notions and ideas. Curators of the captivating SssH BOOM, SssH BOOM nights – evenings dedicated to the arts and performance – the band clearly embrace all forms of expression. An upcoming show will see them perform a 15-minute song with contemporary dancers joining them on stage, suggesting that experimentation is something they don’t shy away from.“I’m not saying we are a daring band but it’s quite a bold thing to do,” says Josh. “It’s similar to writing pop music with a twist, why the fuck not try something different?”
H O U R
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE WHEN YOU’RE MAKING THIS KIND OF MINIMAL POP MUSIC
photographer – GEMMA HARRIS writer – IAN ROEBUCK WWW.LOUDANDQUIET.COM
photographer – PHIL SHARP writer – DK GOLDSTEIN
etro jumpers, vintage keyboards and old photos all go towards making up the twee and fuzzy dream-pop duo Summer Camp, comprised of music journalist Elizabeth Sankey and singer-songwriter Jeremy Warmsley. So it’s ﬁtting that we should ﬁnd ourselves in Mary’s Lunch Box on White Hart Lane – a modest greasy spoon that we’ve settled in until their photo shoot. “Thank you, do you have any milk? Can I do it myself?” Jeremy asks the somewhat bafﬂed waitress as she hands him his tea. He’s worried they’ll put too much in. “Tea and milk – it’s an important thing,” Elizabeth concedes before sliding across the table a copy of the fanzine they’ve made to accompany their album. With the same title, ‘Welcome to Condale’ – a ﬁctitious place they’ve conceptualised for the theme of the record – the front cover image reaches around to reveal two gawky teenagers in prom dress on the back. This isn’t Summer Camp, it’s just another of their many random and dated photos, something that Elizabeth has been collecting for
years.You’ll notice that all their artwork follows in this vein. Jeremy explains that,“having these photos makes you hear the music differently. In a way it makes it appeal more. I don’t know if you’ve seen the blog that we’ve got [wearesummercamp.com] with more photos along these lines, but it’s great because we have people sending in their own photos that we project behind us when we play. So, to me it just gives an atmosphere. I can’t really explain it.” But Elizabeth doesn’t think it suits the sound. “Well, it does,” she falters, “but it is one of those things where because you hear the music with those images, they ﬁt together. I guess the things that we write about – growing up and being a teenager – do correlate with nostalgia and looking at old photos, but I don’t know if it necessarily…” She trails off and Jeremy tells us that in the early days they used to look at the photos and think “Ok, this is the kind of band we are, so what kind of songs are we writing to ﬁt that framework?”
In a sense, they still stick to a strict structure in the characters they use and the way they approach writing. “You know John Hughes, the ﬁlm director?” Jeremy asks. “All his ﬁlms are set in the same ﬁctional small town and we realised that we could do the same thing, in that we could make a place that would act as the framework where different characters from different songs could actually interact. I mean not really, because they don’t exist, but ﬁctionally.” This is where the fanzine truly shines. It’s like a scrapbook of diary entries, newspaper cuttings, retro ads, photos and notes that expand on the lives of characters in the songs. For example, the second track on the LP, ‘Brian Krakow,’ is a character taken from the nineties teen drama My So-Called Life. “We watch a lot of American sitcoms,” mentions Jeremy as Elizabeth explains the grizzly-riffed and fuzzed-up number that’s vocally led by Jeremy. “We were watching a lot of My So-Called Life right at the time of recording [the album],” she points out. “Brian is one of the main characters and
S U M M E R C A M P THE CREATORS OF CONDALE GIVE US A TOUR OF THEIR TOWN, WHERE YOUR WILDEST OF DREAMS CAN COME TRUE
I wouldn’t say he’s dorky, he is intelligent, but quite socially inept and he’s in love with the main character who is played by Clare Danes – who was 13 even though in it she’s 15 and she has her ﬁrst kiss ever with Jared Leto – mind-blowing.” Elizabeth rattles this off excitably. You can tell it’s a major passion for her. “Anyway, Brian never gets the girl because the series gets cancelled before they got together, so we thought we’d make him a super-hot, super-cool guitarist in a band, where he could live out his fantasies and have all of the girls in love with him.We fall in love with characters and people and I personally love writing about bad parties and love going wrong, falling in love – the intense stuff that you feel.” In ‘Condale’ Brian is in a hot new band called Alleycats and he’s got a serious attitude problem. In their ﬁrst interview – and remember this is still ﬁction – he storms out and returns “swigging from a bottle of Jack. He removed the tape from [the interviewer’s] Dictaphone and tried to eat it while the others restrained him.” Louis, who’s quite the lothario in track six (‘Nobody Knows You’ – a dark tale of nobody being there for you when you’re down and out) is also featured in a heated and apologetic lovers exchange through torn up letters. But the third song, ‘I Want You’, tops that with its epic drums and creepy lyrics: If I could, I’d kiss your lips so hard your entire face would bruise, write your name in blood on every wall, it would make the evening news, I’d chain our feet together so that you could never leave, I’d make you love me so much you’d have to ask permission to breathe. It’s crooned dramatically by Elizabeth and emphasised by Cathy’s obsessive diary entry about Brian in the zine. There’s such a wonderful continuity to it all that they’ve been honing since they covered ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ by The Flamingos back in 2009, a track that Elizabeth put on a mixtape for Jeremy. Now they’ve got the ‘Young’ EP under their belts and a debut album on the way that Jeremy informs us they’ve ﬁnanced through ‘pledges’. “Basically, people can pre-order our album by ‘pledging’,” he says,“by paying, and we’ve used that money to make the album. Or they can pledge for brownies [made by Elizabeth] or for a CD of demos, a t-shirt. We’ve even gone and played in people’s living rooms or in their gardens.We’ve done a couple of those now and they’re two of the best gigs we’ve ever done because you know that people care and are really excited to have you.” There’s a long list of things to pledge for, but among them are production consultations with Jeremy (£50), a signed CD with your name in the credits (£30, but unsurprisingly all have gone), a three-song acoustic set over Skype (£50) or an audio book recording of your choice by Elizabeth (£300-£650), which happens to be another of her jobs. “Sometimes I’ll do voice-overs,” she clariﬁes.“When we were doing the album, I did a Disney series called Lucky Fred. I also had a long run of doing hair products that prevent dandruff. I won’t say which one, but I am the voice of dandruff,” she smiles as Jeremy informs us he hasn’t had a day job since he got signed. “But there is
this underlying terror that it is all going to end tomorrow.” Of course it can’t all end tomorrow, the album isn’t released until October 31, on Moshi Moshi/Apricot Recording, and they’ve been working far too long and hard for it to bomb, plus the charming and unique pocket of time it resides in that doesn’t quite ﬁt the synthy ’80s, but perhaps a Bermuda Triangle close to it that holds Goldfrapp (especially ‘Done Forever’) and Allo Darlin’, is a must-hear. The two have been penning material for this record since they formed. “We write a lot,” emphasises Jeremy. “We’d written more than sixty songs for the album and we were still writing last week.You don’t really go, ‘I’m going to write the album now’.You just write constantly and then you pick the songs that are the best.”The prime cuts were then handed to Pulp bassist Steve Mackey
“WHEN I WAS 12 I WROTE AN AMAZING SONG CALLED ‘HIP REPLACEMENT’... IT WAS PRETTY DEEP” who was working on production, which Jeremy gushes about. “It really showed us what kind of band we could be,” he enthuses.“Some producers just chuck everything out and start from scratch. Other producers take what you’ve got and leave it or just make it sound a bit better. But Steve took what we had and really maximised the potential of all of it. Every sound has got the most detail and warmth and punch that you could possibly get out of it.” “He gave us loads of advice about life stuff, artwork and things like that,” adds Elizabeth. “He was a really interesting and clever man.” Comparing the EP recordings to the LP, their warm and hazy sound has deﬁnitely become a little more polished, although it’s difﬁcult to tell through the lo-ﬁ fog. What kind of gear do they use to get that sound in the ﬁrst place? “We use ’80s synths and ’80s drummachine sounds,” answers Jeremy, taken aback. “It’s funny you ask that because I care very deeply about it, but I generally assume the vast majority of people don’t really care. Sometimes I tweet that I’ve got a new keyboard, and I don’t get much response, but if I tweet that I’ve just had a nice cup of Earl Grey, I’ll get like 2030 tweets back arguing about milk. “But gear isn’t really important. What is important is that there is so much free software that anyone can make something that sounds good quite easily. I like using
hardware synths because it forces you to actually change the settings by hand, whereas on a computer you need to change one thing at a time with a mouse, and having the real thing is more tactile and more fun.” “I think Jeremy has a really good ear for harmonies and melodies,” says Elizabeth, particularly in the car, she reveals, where he’ll always harmonise with you if you’re singing to a song. “And he’s always got a million ideas,” she continues. “I think that’s what makes the difference. The gear he uses is pretty normal really.” (Nothing in their studio costs more than £600.) “It’s just stuff that anyone’s got,” states Jeremy.“It’s the songs that are important. Elizabeth is a really amazing songwriter, which I think came to her as quite a surprise as she had never written songs before the band.” “I had,” counters Elizabeth in a cheeky and matterof-fact way. “When I was 12 I wrote an amazing song called ‘Hip Replacement’, which was all about how celebrities live in a fake world and inside they’re all decrepit and old – it was pretty deep. Maybe I’ll dig it out.” When Elizabeth was younger she had wanted to be an actress, so she enrolled in drama lessons. “I’d always loved music and wanted to be a part of it, but I thought it was something untouchable and I didn’t think I had any musical ability whatsoever.” After leaving drama school she moved back to her parents’ house to try and make it as an actress.“I had this mentality of hitting the big time. I got an agent and it was great, but I didn’t get any jobs, so my agent dropped me and then I was just living at home. So I got this job in a burger restaurant two days a week and there would be moments when people would say,‘How old are you?’ and I’d say 24, and they’d say, ‘No way, I thought you were 17’ and I’d be like, ‘Ha you thought I was 17! I’m 24! Hang on…that means I’m 24 and this is what I’m doing with my life’. That was for six months. It was tough. “But when we began to play live, it was very nervewracking because I didn’t know what was going to happen or if I was even going to be able to do it,” she continues. “It took quite a long time for me to get used to that. So I think we weren’t that good live for a few months.” “Yeah, well, I think we’ve learnt a lot now,” Jeremy interjects.“We’ve been a band for four times longer than we had at that point. We’ve ﬁgured out how to, you know, get your shit together.” If you want to pledge towards Summer Camp’s debut album, there’s still a few weeks left. Visit www.pledgemusic.com/ projects/summercamp for more info.
I B R E A K HO R S E S photographer – COCHI ESSE
writer – DANIEL DYLAN WRAY
SHE MAY BE A HYPOCHONDRIAC, BUT MARIA LINDÉN’S ASSURED AND ATMOSPHERIC COMPOSITIONS ARE VERY REAL
Swedish native Maria Lindén, a self confessed hypochondriac, is convinced she has acquired a fatal illness, so, as standard practice, she starts to Google her symptoms.This takes her to an on-line forum to discuss her illness with other people, presumably consisting of the ill and the not so. Amongst the ‘not so’ is her soonto-be musical collaborator Fredrick Balck. Fredrick, too, was a hypochondriac and when aliases were dropped and he and Maria began to openly speak to one another, they soon realised not only did they share mutual friends, but also music tastes. I Break Horses wasn’t so much born (Maria had been working on things for a while) but was now complete. In a previous interview with The Sun, Maria has said, “I hardly panic nowadays. Except for the swine ﬂu alerts last year.” She also joked that her and Fredrick “Have competitions on our way to rehearsal; who can hold their breath the longest when somebody sneezes on the subway.Whoever gives up ﬁrst is forced to use a public bathroom.” While it may sound like a scene from a Wes Anderson movie, it’s most real and the results have given us ‘Hearts’, an album that plunges into the world of blurred, hazy and multi-layered electronics, guitars and atmospheres, but whatever you do, just don’t call it shoegaze. Maria speaks excellent, slightly broken, very sweet English, almost as what I imagine speaking to Nico would have been like. It’s difﬁcult not to become engulfed by her when conversing. As we begin to chat, she has put her dinner in the oven to coincide with the end of the interview. “Let me know when it starts to smell good and I’ll go,” I let her know. “I’m not a very good cook, so I just do easy stuff,” she confesses, “… so it pretty much smells like shit, actually.” “It’s some sort of ﬁsh shit I’m doing today,” she continues, “but it’s food.” Mmmm, ﬁsh shit. Maria is at home, which is Stockholm, Sweden. “It’s a pretty stressful city,” she says.“It’s very beautiful because there is a lot of old buildings and a lot of water in the city centre, but stressful, and people are pretty cold.” She then goes on to explain how the parks have begun to “put in several one-person benches so that you don’t have to sit next to anybody. I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere else in the world and the concept seems to be growing. It’s everywhere! “It is beautiful,” she insists.“You should all come here and visit this cold, cold town!” Still, I imagine the cold climate has the locals turning
to each other for warmth? I mean, the music community in Stockholm is quite supportive, isn’t it? “Ermm…not necessarily,” she laughs. “It’s more like everyone keeps to themselves, but I mean, with this project I haven’t played any shows yet. So it’s a bit difﬁcult for me to say yet. “Since I play all the instruments except the drums, I won’t be able to do that live,” Maria explains. “It takes a while to ﬁnd the right people to play with and it’s not straightforward to get the sound live. I wanted to get the best possible people to play live with. I could have gone out there with a backing track and played the whole thing myself but I want to create something different live” So, with no live shows under her belt and the album dealing almost exclusively in textures, layers and essentially elements that would be very difﬁcult to recreate live, how are live rehearsals going? “We’re getting there. I want people to experience the songs in a new way. It’s been very interesting to give the songs a new life because it will be a completely different energy bringing in new people and playing together as a band. Also, I’m the kind of person who wants to go back and change forever. I probably have ten different versions of each song, so I’m looking forward to changing things and making things differ from the album.” In regards to the album’s tightrope walk between the contrasting emotions, Maria says: “I’ve always liked to mix something dark with beauty, and the record really is a mix between the two, although I was probably in a light kind of mood when writing the songs and realised the fragmented darkness afterwards. “It was an enjoyable process though, recording the album, apart from some moments where I simply didn’t have the technical skills to do what I wanted. But enjoyable; the writing process is always enjoyable, but the ﬁnalising and mixing, when you have a speciﬁc sound in your head but you don’t have the technical skills to achieve it – that can be pretty difﬁcult”. For such a hard fought and personal project, Maria doesn’t actually write the lyrics for I Break Horses. That’s Fredrick’s job. “People ﬁnd it pretty strange that we do it in this way,” says Maria, “that I write the music and he writes most of the lyrics, but actually it works perfectly. He’s been able to say what I wanted to say in less words that I could ever write, because what I would need ten
sentences for, he can do in one.” When placed in context to the album, it makes sense. Maria’s vocals often feel otherworldly, almost detached from the project, as though they are their own entity, and by working in this unorthodox way, it has clearly created this idiosyncratic sense of atmosphere. The record has been a long process for Maria; it took three years to complete.“Not because I was working on it all that time,” she hastens to add, “just that I was also working full-time too, so it was just a long process.” Now comes a question that, if put to someone less affable than Maria, with less of a sense of humour, would be rather awkward. Have you been pleased with how ‘Hearts’ has been received? Have people ‘got it’? “Not Loud And Quiet!” she laughs. And we deserved that – in our August issue the album received a 4/10 review rating. “I mean it’s my debut album,” she continues, “of course I get pretty sad when I feel like people didn’t get the point, and obviously because I’ve been locked up for so long on this record and worked so hard on it. But I feel pretty overwhelmed by the great response that’s been out there as well. I’m a very humble kind of person, so I’m just thrilled that the response has been really great. So it’s been both, I mean it’s my ﬁrst record and I’m a human being, so I can’t be just like, ‘fuck it, I don’t care’. Maybe I will be more like that on the second album!” Likewise, the record has drawn a lot of comparisons to speciﬁc bands and movements, primarily the shoegaze genre, and these are comparisons that Maria is less happy to court.“For example, many people have compared me to M83 and I haven’t listened to them at all actually,” she says, “so it’s difﬁcult to say really. I mean, shoegaze is just one small fragment, but I didn’t create this record with the intention to make shoegaze music. It’s not shoegaze. I can’t understand this need for people to label music, but people seem to need to. I can understand the comparison, but it’s a mere fragment and I wouldn’t call this shoegaze music.” In response to this lazy branding she says: “Just listen to the fucking music! Why do you need to label it? I think that’s just bad journalism. But I just want people to listen to the record and know that this is not shoegaze music.” The ﬁsh shit is done, Maria needs to go, and she leaves our interview as charmingly as she entered it, simply deadpanning: “I will not enjoy my dinner.”
“PEOPLE COMPARE ME TO M83 AND I HAVE NEVER LISTENED TO THEM AT ALL”
photographer – OWEN RICHARDS writer – MATTHIAS SCHERER
I C E AG E THE DANISH POST- HARDCORE BAND THAT’S GOT EVERYONE TALKING… EXCEPT FOR THE BAND THEMSELVES
The kids are alright, if a bit knackered. In the dressing room of a Shoreditch pub, the quartet that has been hailed as heirs to the legendary hardcore rapid deployment force that was Refused sit around, popping open bottles of import lager and lighting cigarettes. From reading other, mainly monosyllabic interviews, I’ve gathered that the band aren’t really the sort to sit back and open up about their hopes and fears, but the opportunity to face the group who, according to The Quietus, had produced “one of the best punk rock albums in recent years” was too good to pass up. So down I sit, staring into the heartbreakingly sleepy faces of Johan, Dan and Jakob, the guitarist, drummer and bassist of Danish buzz magnet Iceage, a few days before their debut, ‘New Brigade’, is due to launch in the UK. The record is a ﬁery 24 minutes long and features the kind of hypnotic, fat-free post-punk Joy Division played when they were still called Warsaw and the contemptuous, no-hope-no-care wave noise that was made almost simultaneously in NYC squats by people like James Chance & The Contortions. It’s great, is what I’m trying to say, and while parts of the internet and industry excitement revolves around the fact that none of the band members are over 20, a lot of it is also about how incredibly well (in)formed their sound is. This, combined with their bruise-inducing live shows and martial aesthetics should make for engaging interviews, but you have to remember that these boys a) don’t speak English as their ﬁrst language, and b) are still kids, and thus resent few things more than having to explain anything to anyone more than two years older than themselves. With this in mind, I try breaking the ice by asking them what they thought of America (they have come back from a two-month jaunt over there just this afternoon). Johan: “Some places are nice, some places are not so nice. Austin is nice.” Jakob:“The mountains and the deserts and the forests are beautiful.” Cool. Your US tour montage video for ‘You’re
Blessed’ looks pretty, erm, boisterous. Do you have any “crazy” tour stories to share? Dan: “One of our amps caught ﬁre.” Johan:“But we weren’t actually using it at the time so it wasn’t too bad.” You must have seen and talked to tons of people over there. Are you tired of giving interviews now? Johan: “Yeah, I hate everything about it. People just ask the same questions over and over.” Like what? Johan: “Like, ‘So what did you make of America?’” Burn. It quickly becomes clear that the three of them (Elias, the singer, is off somewhere else) are not big fans of the British way of making conversation. The rings under their eyes visible in pretty much all press shots are even more prominent up close, and their mumbled, often elliptical answers, delivered in Scandinavian HighSchool English (which admittedly is far better than most Brits’ Danish) adds to the impression of a band that couldn’t give a shit about interviews. Considering they seem to have grown up partly in lefty-run Copenhagen youth clubs, partly on message boards dedicated to black and death metal, but without monthly printed music magazines, this makes perfect sense. We chat a bit about the August riots in the UK (Johan: “I think sometimes it can be fun destroying things. And obviously if you have a good reason, that’s OK, too.”) and how the devastating throb of ‘White Runes’ would have made a great soundtrack to the Sky News video footage. But when asked about their inﬂuences Iceage are not as forthcoming. “We didn’t have any particular bands in mind when we wrote our songs”, says Jakob, while the others shrug or light another cigarette. By now, Elias has joined us, looking unfeasibly cool considering how dishevelled he appears and sounds. I decide this is as good a time as any to ask them about their perceived fascination with fascism. In another interview, you mentioned the German right-wing pagan metal band Absurd’s ‘Facta Loquuntur’ as one of your favourite albums...
Elias:“Yeah, we got a lot of shit for that. I don’t know. We just really like that album.” Johan: “Ok, I would now like to say now: I hate that band. No, seriously, it’s just that we have enough intelligence to laugh at ridiculous things, like National Socialism, which I think is a ridiculous theory. It’s not about the politics at all.” At the time, I take their answer at face value (Fucked Up’s Damien Abraham got into similar trouble when expressing a liking for some of [British white power band] Skrewdriver’s music), but it’s only later that I come across a blog post drawing attention to Johan’s Death in June tattoo, another band with murky links to Neonazi ideas. I’m no longer sure that Johan’s initial answer – “I know that these people are idiots, but I can’t help the fact that they make music I like” – will be enough to dispel rumours that Iceage are riding the hype wave on a board made of race hate. It won’t do their intrigue any harm, however – after our brief conversation, I’m still left scratching my head as to who these guys are and what they want.They know enough about obscure punk rock to use aural characteristics of the genre to indie-cred-baiting effect, and they are well-read enough (Elias has just ﬁnished the ﬁlth classic The Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille and is currently getting into Joseph Conrad’s jungle nightmare Heart of Darkness) to create a Ballardian dystopia very much of our time. They are also, despite the jetlag and the dullness of my questions, very polite boys. I ﬁnish by asking them what it feels like to be professional musicians. Johan shoots back: “We’re not professionals. In the sense of where we make a living out of our music? No.We make a bit of money, but nowhere near enough to live off.” Would you like to get to that stage at some point? (Everyone) “Nah.” What do you want to do? Jakob: “Don’t know.” Johan: “Go back to school.” Dan: “Sleep.” Told you they were knackered.
R E TURN
ONCE “THE KURT COBAIN OF ALT. COUNTRY”, AND NOW SOBER, MARRIED AND LIVING PEACEFULLY IN LOS ANGELES, FEW MUSICIANS HAVE HELD OUR GAZE AS
CONSISTENTLY AS RYAN ADAMS. HIS LATEST ALBUM, ASHES & FIRE, SEES HIM RETURN TO THE POIGNANCY OF HIS FIRST, AS HE GOES SOLO AND
T H E
ACOUSTIC ONCE AGAIN
H E A R T B R E AKER The ﬁrst time I saw Ryan Adams was in January 2004. He was touring his albums ‘Rock’n’Roll’ and ‘Love Is Hell’. He had dyed his hair a bright orange, looked suitably dishevelled yet exuded a ramshackle cool. Within minutes of being on stage he had knocked a full beer over. A roadie ran out and mopped it up as Adams staggered and seethed his way through ‘So Alive’. He was inebriated. I remember shouts to people stood side of stage for vodka, even proclaiming at one point, “No fucking Red Bull this time!” As he sang ‘Sylvia Plath’ he climbed speaker stacks and hung within tangible distance, crooning and smoking hellishly. Then he begins the majestic ‘The Shadowlands’. About half way through he vanishes from the stage and a thud echoes through the microphone like a gunshot. He has fallen off the stage and into the six-foot-plus opera pit below, severely breaking his wrist in the process. He’s helped up and back on stage and rushed off the back. The band – bemused – ﬁnish the song and say goodnight. I, like everyone else, was bewildered as I left the building, but I was also transﬁxed. Fast forward seven years and I saw Ryan two months ago, solo, at Machester’s Bridgewater Hall, slightly less eventful – sober, drinking tea and quietly strumming an acoustic guitar as he sweetly sang. I was still transﬁxed. Ryan Adams has been an artist that has managed to succeed at either end of the spectrum. If all is to be believed, Adams has been a magnet for trouble for most of his life. Supposedly excluded from
high school for wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a melting ice cube that read Christianity is Stupid…Give Up, his ﬁrst proper band,Whiskeytown, collapsed under a sea of booze-fuelled fall-outs. He has had a tumultuous relationship with the press, even leading to a disgruntled Adams leaving an angry voicemail on Chicago Sun-Times journalist Jim DeRogatis’s machine after a scathing review, which still to this day is available to the public. And he’s had many public feuds with Paul Westerberg, Jack White, and Jeff Tweedy, as well as years of drink and drug problems that had him once tell The New York Times “I snorted heroin a lot – with coke. I did speedballs every day for years. And took pills. And then drank. And I don’t mean a little bit. I always outdid everybody... It’s a miracle I did not die.” However, Adams, once a poster boy who was labelled ‘The Kurt Cobain of Alt-Country’, an artist that everybody loved to love, soon became an artist everybody loved to hate. A good looking man in his twenties, drenched in critical acclaim, dating movie stars (see Winona Ryder, Parker Posey), gaining celebrity fans and friends, it doesn’t take a lot to work out why some people may be resentful, bitter or plain jealous towards him. But this was coupled with some behaviour and actions people railed against, including a much discussed GAP advert he took part in. Adams has often been seemingly and simultaneously wild, angry and reactionary, yet sweet, gracious and endearing. Which means accounts and re-tellings of his past can often be as
misleading and erratic as his supposed behaviour in the ﬁrst place. He has always been – shall we say – emotionally earnest in his songs: he doesn’t so much wear his heart on his sleeve as slice a part off and stick it in the album inlay for you.This has lead to equally revealing and open interviews in the past, all told with varying states of mood and detail, meaning that researching an interview for him is a little like trying to extract the real Ryan Adams from a series of impostors, especially as Adams, now clean and sober from drink, drugs and even cigarettes, is not the man he once was. Not by a long shot. He told Mojo in 2009 that,“I was an asshole. A total fucking prick. I fucking hated myself.” He has since married pop singer/actress Mandy Moore, moved to L.A and, as many people do at the age of 36, settled down.This has resulted in a calmer, humbler and generally quieter Ryan Adams, who has no interest in being the man of old, which means that, as I soon ﬁnd, trying to get him to afﬁrm anything resembling a remotely deﬁnitive statement can be tricky. He is clearly a man who has played the press game long enough and is cautious in his approach, something that is made all the more apparent when we compare how he charmingly jokes on our photo shoot (his greeting: “Excuse the right side of my face. I’ve slept on it for years so now I look like an old ﬁsh, washed up on a sea of despair… or an old Rick Moranis”), only to clam up somewhat once the Dictaphone is rolling.
photographer – GABRIEL GREEN writer – DANIEL DYLAN WRAY
“THERE HAS BEEN THIS EXAGGERATED IDEA OF WHO I WAS... SITTING IN SOME DARK ROOM, WASTED ON DRUGS”
dams declared a sort of retirement in 2009, leaving his then band The Cardinals and stating, “maybe we will play again sometime and maybe I will work my way back into some kind of music situation…but this is the time for me to step back now, to reel it in and I wish everyone peace and happiness.”This announcement was coupled with the fact that he had contracted Meniere’s disease, an inner-ear disease [a very disturbing illness, presenting patients with hearing loss, pressure in the ear, tinnitus, severe imbalance and vertigo]. He wrote two books in the process, Inﬁnity Blues and Hello Sunshine, and had an art exhibition of his paintings, but as many suspected he couldn’t remain away from his guitar. While he has messed around with the metal genre and released hundreds of tracks on-line through his website, in 2010 he released his “ﬁrst fully-realised sci-ﬁ metal concept album”, ‘Orion’, followed by a Cardinals double LP entitled ‘III/IV’ recorded during 2006. ‘Ashes & Fire’ is Adams latest album, a record that shares the intimacies and delicacies of ‘Heartbreaker’ or ‘29’ with a polished and classic production more akin to ‘Jacksonville City Nights’, marking his thirteenth studio album in eleven years [probably ﬁftieth if you include the bundles of unreleased albums].Yet, for the ﬁrst time in his solo career, he is free from a record label. His previous label Lost Highway has been a source of constant pain and frustration for Adams. They famously rejected his career zenith and masterpiece ‘Love Is Hell’ and forced him to turn in something new, so, in some coke-fuelled sessions he and some friends bashed out ‘Rock N Roll’, a fun, throwaway guitar romp recorded in mere days that played homage to Adams’ musical heritage - he called the album “A joke. A record I had to make in order to release ‘Love Is Hell’.” This latest record sees him self-releasing through his own label PAX-AM, so how is that working out for him? “It’s really good,” he says, “because my departure from Lost Highway was not an easy one, but I left and there was nothing that they could say about it anymore; I just went back and I was able to get back a bunch of my unreleased records. I didn’t have any fun working with that company, they rejected more albums than they put out. “It’s great to be running my own label and working with major label distribution [Columbia] who are in the business of making records and actually get the music I am making and want to put it out. If my former label didn’t want to release my records they should have been a gentleman and released me from my contract so I
could have worked with people that did.” So, with Adams owning his own unreleased material and free from Lost Highway, will this infamous box-set of unreleased albums now see the light of day? “I think when people talked about this box-set in the past, I don’t think anybody understands that the box-set wasn’t my idea. It was basically a way for them [Lost Highway] to try and ﬁnd a way to not pay me and put out those records and make them Universal Records property. Once they were released in that box-set it would have devalued each record for what it was originally intended to be. Plus, they would have owned the copyright for the box-set, so I would have never gotten paid for each individual album. They need to be properly released, as they should have been – with the artwork, the mastering and giving them the attention to detail they deserve – so, I wouldn’t put them in a box, I would release them as archive records with dates, so people know this album would have come out between this and this.” With regards to his ear disease, Adams tells me, “I’ve basically been learning to deal with it, and I’ve got it down to a science now.” Crippling as it once was, though, it’s not why ‘Ashes & Fire’ sees him return to his solo acoustic setup. “I can still play loud when I want, in my own time,” he says, “I just wasn’t having any fun in The Cardinals anymore. I needed some time off because I had been working non-stop since the symptoms started in probably about 2006.” [In actual fact it was 2005 – Adams cancelled a string of UK and European dates, including a John Peel Stage headline slot at Glastonbury Festival. His replacement was the infamous cocaine-riddled John Peel-bashing Bright Eyes show]. “Well, people never believed that I was really suffering from [Meniere’s disease],” he says, “which was really sad. I think they thought it was an excuse because I was taking drugs or something, which wasn’t true – I really, really struggled. My hearing has actually started to improve since I’ve actually started to deal with this disease, because I don’t have this roaring sound in my left ear anymore. But it was very real and I really went through it. It’s very hard to explain to people what it is – I guess you don’t know what it is unless you look it up – but it’s a very real thing. It makes people very very sick.” Not a reaction to his Meniere’s disease then, but Adam’s ﬁrst solo record since 2005’s ‘29’ has seen him found solace in working alone once again. “It’s really wonderful, actually,” he says.“What I’m doing right now is just writing on my own and going and playing on my own, that’s kind of how I wanna be. I think that’s enough for me. “All in all, when I go back to pick songs that I want to do for a show, I ﬁnd more than I can play in one night, so that’s a really positive thing. I’m ﬁnding more good than I am bad. It’s been interesting going back to songs that may have been too difﬁcult to play with the band or maybe the dynamic wasn’t right – I really enjoy it.”
his original blog post declaring his step back from music in 2009, Adams expressed a disdain and disillusionment with the music industry as a whole. I query if this was one of his reasons for having a rest. Again, it’s a ‘no’. “Not really,” he says.“I mean, it would be very wrong for anybody to misunderstand or mischaracterise who I am based on blanket statements. I’m a human being; this is my job; there is a lot of variables, it’s not cut and dry, you know?” How about your forays into the literature and art world – have they given you any further thoughts on the music industry, as a comparison? “I don’t really think about the music industry – it doesn’t concern me. I don’t think about it as a whole.
What would I want to be thinking about that for? I don’t have an opinion on it, I just know what my experiences on it are.” Of which it seems Ryan is a little hesitant to share. So, I ask him speciﬁcally about his relationship with the press, which has been up and down, to put it mildly. A long stony silence greets the question. “Erm…” A little more silence. “Yeah, again I don’t really think about it. I kind of let all this go. I don’t really have an opinion on what it’s like to talk about my records.You’re making kind of generalisations, so I don’t know what speciﬁcally you are talking about.” At this point, Ryan is being somewhat evasive – a country mile from the man who boyishly asked us (as Brits) to explain what a ‘wanker’ was earlier. It seems he really is attempting to shed his past. “I just live my life moment to moment, day by day and maybe [in the past] I could have been talking about not wanting to talk about my personal life or whatever,” he says. “I think there has been this exaggerated idea of who I was,” he continues. “I mean, everybody has a night or two or three in their twenties during rock’n’roll that are a little extreme, and I certainly had my times. But all the shows that went off great and the songs that sounded great, all the years of touring that were cool are never really mentioned. It’s just people talk about the one or two times they think that somebody is fucked up or wasted or whatever. But I don’t really hear any evidence of this stuff in my work. If somebody else does they can tell me what they hear, but I don’t think a drunken person writes the records I write.” Adams’ proliﬁcacy over the years is certainly testament to this argument; it would indeed be difﬁcult for a severe drunk to write at such pace, quality and frequency. But I want to know if revisiting songs with drug-induced lyrics is an odd thing to do now he is so far away from this? Again, a silence rings out.“Erm… It would depend on what song you mean, and what do you mean by drug-induced lyrics?”
Well, you have publicly spoken about the dark time surrounding such records as ‘Love Is Hell’. “Well, I think from your question you would have to assume I was in a dark place when I wrote the song.” I point out that I am questioning based on previous (and numerous) quotes about this, such as one in Q magazine from 2003 that went, “I wanted to make a druggy suicide record; a record that really sounded like cracking up”, and in 2004 from UNCUT, “I was in a deep depression, and I wasn’t dealing with it.That was a really interesting place to be, and that’s where the record came from.” Adams replies: “Yeah, absolutely. I’m answering you for the beneﬁt of the people who read the article, not necessarily addressing you. I’m trying to make it more so people can understand what it really means. I think it’s important to state that there was no time in my life that I was ever sitting in some dark room, drooling from the side of my mouth in a chair, wasted on drugs for long amounts of time, only broken up by smoking a cigarette or writing a song or something. “I think when talking about [things I’ve said] in the past, maybe my social skills were less adept. I think I didn’t realise that by describing me being in a dark place I was… I think what I meant to say was, ‘When I was writing, I wanted to express more things about sadness, grief or loss than I did about joy’. Maybe I was honing in on those reﬂections in my life. Many people do go through their lives completely miserable – I am not living that life. I have chosen to write about the darker sides of life sometimes and unrequited feelings that some people can have, as I seem to have been drawn to it in some weird way. I opened up about it, and it seemed special and important for me to do that. “For the sake of not over-romanticising any more than I ever accidentally or maybe even purposely did, that just wasn’t my life.While I have certainly seen those sides of life and I have stepped through them, no person
exists solely in that.” I’m beginning to understand why Adams once said that although he felt his music was very self-explanatory, he felt he spent ninety per cent of his time explaining it to people. Considering it a simple question with an expected answer, I ask if he still feels the same. Another long silence hangs, adding an ever-increasing edge to proceedings. “No. I don’t feel any way about it. This is what I do and there are certain parts of it that have to be done.” It seems that Ryan is interested in simply and solely immersing himself in his current climate and current songs, moving on from his past, which is hardly surprising considering the several years of sobriety. When I asked him how true that may or may not be though, the longest silence yet slowly suspends. “No. I don’t wanna agree or disagree with any statements like that. I understand what you’re asking and I’m not trying to be difﬁcult, I just don’t want to paint myself in any kind of ‘place’. I’m just being me, I don’t really consider these things; I just sort of do what I do” In an attempt to change the subject, I ﬁnally broach the prospect of the rumoured Whiskeytown reunion. “Whiskeytown will never get back together, ever. Never, ever. If it was going to happen it would have been last year, I discussed it with Caitlin and Skillet and neither was really interested in doing it. It makes sense for me to let it go, besides it would just be for money – they don’t care about those songs anymore than I do.We barely played them when we were together. So no, it will never happen and I’m quite happy about it.” And then, just as time is called and we begin to part ways, Ryan professes to the beneﬁts of ginger tea to me as he sweetly offers some advice for my cold and how to “feel better”. It’s as if the affable, unguarded Adams of an hour ago is back; the same Adams that roared with laughter as he told us how Kim Gordon thought the Metallica/Lou Reed album was “a miserable idea” and asked the waiting staff at Soho House “does my hair look rubbish?”. Ryan’s defensive mood once in interview mode today seems to be not so much out of offence he takes to anything, or any anger or hostility he is holding on to; he frankly just seems tired of the spotlight and sick of people’s misconceptions, views and opinions on him, so by giving as little in terms of deﬁnitive and ﬁnalising statements, he can avoid this reoccurring.While he gives the impression of somebody behaving in an aloof and nonchalant manner, when it comes to certain subjects, I can’t help but feel he does really care what people think about him – not necessarily in a vain or narcissistic way, but as an extension of his natural gravitation towards sensitivity and emotion. Perhaps years spent in the public eye with multiple and notably outlandish interviews has left the undeniably matured Adams having to clean up his own mess somewhat and spend more time clarifying than giving further or newfound insight. Understandably – due to his wife’s famous stature – having paparazzi camera’s thrust in your face when you try and get groceries or go for a walk has perhaps resulted in a need to keep as much of himself to himself. And even if he won’t afﬁrm such a thing today, his new record seems to ﬁnd him in a content, stable and loving place, which is enriching to hear on both a sonic and personal level. Ryan Adams has moved at leopard-like speed throughout his career and been almost chameleon-like in his ability to change musically,lyrically and – ultimately – personally. So him winding down is both expected and well advised. Second-guessing him would be, and has proven to be, impossible, which is what makes him such a relentlessly fascinating and intoxicating artist. He’s undeniably a musician that has frustrated as many people as he has mesmerised over the years, but like a drug himself, we keep coming back for more. WWW.LOUDANDQUIET.COM
writer – REEF YOUNIS
LUKE JENNER IS DONE WITH BEING COOL
TH E RA P T U R E You make an anthem of the noughties; a track spanning English indie discos and Lower East Side loft spaces as skinny white boys and girls hack a very deliberate route to the danceﬂoor to lose their mind. And that cowbell. Man, that cowbell. Forget disco sirens and klaxon calls: ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ was a catalyst; the beginning of the rise and rise of the all-conquering DFA Records, dance punk and, latterly, the crystallisation of LCD Soundsystem. As DFA’s ﬁrst ever release, The Rapture were at the forefront and Luke Jenner’s characteristic yelp came to represent the early battle cry of the legions that weren’t there to just passively appreciate, they came to fucking dance. Almost a decade – and a ﬁve-year hiatus – later, The Rapture are still here. Following the euphoria surrounding debut album, ‘Echoes’, their history has been a tumultuous one scarred by band disruption and
personal tragedy, but lounging on the sofas at XOYO ahead of a rare London show, the conversation with Luke is a long and astoundingly candid one about suicide, mental illness and reﬂection. Reformed and resigned to DFA, recently released new album ‘In the Grace of Your Love’ marks a new, “peaceful” chapter for Luke and the band, and with the recent end to the LCD Soundsystem story, there’s a mantle to be re-taken up. But at 36, and with a wife and young son, Luke’s challenge simply seems to be maintaining the balance that eluded him ﬁrst time around and threatened to destroy him and the band. L&Q: So, ﬁve years.A lot’s happened. Do you feel energised for making a return? Luke: “Peaceful is a better word. I used to feel quite energised, but we’ve been doing this as a band for years so we’ve done everything and been everywhere and met
everybody, so it’s been like having a sort of a normal life for a while, which is amazing because I’ve never really had like a normal life. Even when I was growing up my family was really broken and detached from the community, so for the ﬁrst time in my life it’s like being part of a community. “I spent a solid 10 years of my life trying to prove to people that I was cool, and that I was important, and I did that, but it was good to just take a step back and be around people who didn’t know who I was and be part of this sort of social experiment. When I met my wife I didn’t tell her I was in a band because I wanted her to love me for me, because being on tour last time, I got further and further away from that and was surrounded by people who didn’t know me and have no chance of knowing me. Being a father now, my kid doesn’t care if I’m a rock’n’roll dude and I’ve found that it’s been really
“WE’RE MANAGED BY U2 AND HANGING OUT WITH JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE AND TIMBERLAND. YOU CAN’T GET MORE TOOLED OUT THAN THAT”
important to me to ﬁnd a bit of balance. L&Q: It’s been a disruptive few years both musically and personally.You’ve had a lot to deal with... Luke: Yeah, my mom taking her own life as a result of her illness sort of forced me to get real and this whole Ziggy Stardust child-like fantasy got nuked. There’s more to life than just being on a tour bus and chasing some kind of dream and trying to manipulate the world into thinking you’re a cool guy, or trying to prove that. It’s not something you can easily shake off. It’s heavy. “I never expected that to happen and even though she’d tried to do it before, I’d never taken it seriously. My grandma took her own life too. She actually took off all her clothes and walked into the ocean in Swansea, escaping from a mental institution, so my family’s been ripped apart by mental illness. In a protective way, I felt like my making music was trying to make sense of growing up with my mum being so ill and having to take care of her and my dad not being there. It’s a lot to process.” L&Q: It’s obviously a tragic thing to happen at any stage of life, but do you feel that with your mother’s suicide happening at this time in yours you were able to deal with it better than you might have been when you were younger? Luke: “Absolutely. I think I would have killed myself, not on purpose, but if it had happened the day ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ came out, being on tour for the ﬁrst time and being surrounded by loads of drink and drugs and hedonism, with the amount of hedonism that was available at that point and my level of maturity at that time, I think it would have killed me. I was already hanging by a thread at that point and it probably would have done me in.”
L&Q: Looking back, that must have been a wild period for you with the surge of dance punk and being a prominent ﬁgure in it all. Has your attitude to the way things were back then changed over time? Luke: “Oh you mean Dunk? (laughs) I’m really grateful for all that time. I mean, to have a record that impacted on the history of music is a dream come true and even though it was kind of ushered aside by the press, that record changed everything for us and made some things ok. I never wanted to be famous, I just wanted to be important and I was really confused after that because I was sort of handed the keys to the kingdom, like I had all these people I really looked up to coming and telling me, ‘Wow, you’ve done it, you’re really important’, and that this record was going to write its name forever. “I felt a bit lost because I’d achieved what I wanted to do and I think that it became a little half-hearted after that.The second record, we wanted to make a pop album and it was kind of exciting. Justin Timberlake was interesting at the time and it felt like indie could cross into pop and it was all so pregnant, but in hindsight, it just seemed a bit ﬂaccid. I became addicted to the high of changing history and there was just too much pride involved. But when we did make a record that changed history, it wasn’t a conscious thing, it just kind of happened, it was like a Nirvana moment when ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ came out and changed everything. We weren’t trying to do that, we didn’t expect to do that and I became obsessed with doing it again.They were heady times.” L&Q: So it was a case of being undone by your own aspirations? Luke: “Yeah. Also we’d just signed with this huge band management company who had U2 and I think you then get anointed by a certain label; you go on tour with a certain band and it’s like stepping stones. But you get to a point and you want to get off that and we went all the way to the top of the pop world in terms of being anointed. I mean Justin Timberlake used to walk out on stage to ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ for three years in giant arenas and we’d hang out with him after the show and we did a one off with Timbaland and they were going to sign us to their label… so we’re managed by U2, we’re hanging out with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland… you can’t really get more tooled out than that. “But I didn’t start making music to do that, and that’s when I realised, between ‘Pieces of People’ and this record, with the mental breakdown and my mom dying, I got to see myself in that blinkered trajectory; harder and farther and faster. I was able to see that I achieved what I wanted when ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ came out and then it was after that I could see I was lost and had been lost for years of my life, and my mom died and that cracked me open. Then with my son being born, and coming off tour and not knowing how to be a partner to my wife with my son involved it forced me to take a look at my own mortality and evaluate what I want to do. Hanging out with Justin Timberlake is not important to me.” (Luke bursts out laughing). L&Q: Away from everything that’s happened to you personally, you seem to have returned at quite an interesting time with LCD Soundsystem ending and you re-signing. It almost feels like a cycle’s just ﬁnished… Luke: “Oh, completely. At least once or twice. I couldn’t have planned it out that way but it feels like full
circle, especially with LCD, but I didn’t think James was going to suicide his band.The process of this record was very different, it’s like there’s been two really divergent paths. I guess the lesson we’ve learned musically, and in life, is that you can’t control anything! (laughs). And it wasn’t an immediate thing. I think when my mum died, it accelerated me wanting to control things until I quit the band, and it came down to me wanting to express my ideas because I started the band as a vehicle for my own song writing and then Matty joined the band and he was just a really young kid who grew up in the band and wanted to be the song writer. It just came down to space and I didn’t feel like I had it and I couldn’t control that either and it reached the point where I had to let go. It wasn’t comfortable but it was very necessary.” L&Q: Despite everything, you’re still here and seem to have earned veteran status. Do you feel a sense of pride in seeing it through to this point? Luke: The thing I’ve always respected the most in music is resilience and I think we’re a really resilient band and we always have been.We’ve been through a lot and I’ve known Vito since I was nine years old and that’s been a core relationship for the band.When I was going out to write my own music, I was like, ‘I can’t do this without Vito!’ I think there’s knowledge in that you’re not an island and you need other people. That’s true resilience in a way.” L&Q: Not to dwell on the band issues too much, but was there a motivation to prove a point when you quit the band? [Luke brieﬂy walked out a couple of years ago]. Luke: “I think it was a necessary thing and it was motivating. I think if you stare a relationship dead in the face with the prospect of living without the person then you can’t truly be involved. For me, coming to terms of what it would have been to make a solo record, I think ultimately I didn’t want to do that and I’m glad I didn’t do that. Going the whole way and quitting the band and having the moment of being on my own and thinking, what am I going to do? who am I going to work with? where am I going to go and tour by myself?, I think it was very healthy in the sense that I got to see what the relationship really was as opposed to dealing with it in a fearful way. I didn’t want to lose Matty and I was just like, in an unhealthy way, I was very co-dependent and it was very much,‘I’ll give you whatever you want if you don’t leave,’ as opposed to, ‘I want to be with you and if you don’t want to be with me I’ll have to accept that.’When I came back to the band, it was very much the latter and I think my relationship with Vito changed a lot because that had never happened. I literally followed him to San Francisco to San Diego, in tears, because I couldn’t imagine losing him.” L&Q: So in terms of the band now, do you see this as a return or a continuation? Luke: “The word that comes to me is depth. It’s not really a retirement or a new start, it’s like there was a ﬂoor and it cracked and we sort of made a new ﬂoor that was lower. We were standing on something that wasn’t very stable so instead of continuing to build on it, we let it crumble and started again. And I think you do something because you want to do it.To me, albums are like diary entries and the great thing about putting out a record is you can move on from it and totally let go. You capture yourself at that point and it almost allows you take the next step. Now, I just felt like it was time to share what we had.”
V I V I A N G I RL S “WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW”. IT’S THE FIRST RULE OF POPULAR MUSIC, AND DOESN’T CASSIE RAMONE KNOW IT
Cassie Ramone and I are looking for a place to have a chat. The dressing room is a no-go because it’s next to the stage andVeronica Falls and Mazes are still unpacking and plugging in for sound check, the bar upstairs seems to be occupied by a photoshoot (well, this is Shoreditch), all of the surrounding cafés are closed and the pubs are overﬂowing with loosened shirts and ties enjoying a post-boardroom pint. We ﬁnally ﬁnd a bar with outside seating, which would be great if a) it weren’t raining, and b) they served coffee. Cassie wants coffee, and instead she’s getting gently drizzled on and watching a pair of stiletto-heeled girls stagger past, one of whom is heading for a bin to be sick into. Vivian Girls, Cassie’s band, have been to London a few times before, but the city seems to be making an extra effort today to make them feel especially welcome. They’re currently touring album number three, ‘Share the Joy’, which isn’t a far cry from its fuzzy, tear-tinged punk predecessors, and in fact follows in their moody trajectory, while all the time the band’s sound is ﬁlling out, becoming clearer, growing another shade darker still. “It’s hard for me to write songs about things that make me happy,” Cassie admits. “I guess a lot of songwriters can say the same thing, but around the time of the ﬁrst two albums I was dealing with a lot of… crazy boy problems, stuff like that, and I think… oh, I don’t know what to say,” she sighs. Both records were quite recognisably break up albums, and many of the lyrics are certainly of a boybased heartache nature, but it’s also hard not to notice that Vivian Girls have been through a couple of drummers (Frankie Rose and Ali Koehler) and I can’t help asking if any of what we hear on the records reﬂects what was going on in the band at the time, “Yeah,” Cassie says ﬂatly. “I can’t say too much, but there are songs I’ve written about bandmates… I can’t tell you which ones.” She thinks I’m ﬁshing for dirt, but what I’m hovering around is what sets Vivian Girls apart from contemporaries like Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast, both of whom play songs almost exclusively about boys, the former about the many stages of being smitten, the latter dwelling on the pain of splitting up. All of Vivan Girls’s music is based on real experiences; it all sounds totally genuine.
photographer – ELLIOT KENNEDY writer – POLLY RAPPAPORT
“I do think that our music is very honest,” says Cassie. “I’m kind of a brutally sincere person in a lot of ways and I ﬁnd it really hard to do anything that’s calculated. I can only make the music that I make, if that makes any sense? If someone told me to go start a band that sounded nothing like Vivian Girls, I really couldn’t do it. I have to be honest.” Cassie says she recorded a solo album last year, that’s had “a few issues with the whole process, post recording” and might or might not come out. “Yeah, I work on my own music sometimes too, and the way I write is pretty minimal, so pretty much any song I write could become a Vivian Girls song, so that’s where most of them go.” Her music is such a blend of genres – 60’s girl groups, early punk, soul, garage, to name but a few – that, clichéd though it may be, it would be remiss not to ask what music she’s into. “My favourite artists are Neil Young, the Wipers, Burt Bacharach… And this band called The Bananas; they’re a Sacramento pop punk band, they’ve been around since 1991 and they’re still together and they’re really great. They’re the ﬁrst band that taught me that it was okay to mix punk music and doo-wop and sixties song writing. I thought they were very special for that reason.” With all that said, Cassie claims she’s currently on a big Elliott Smith kick - “He’s literally the only person I can listen to right now, he’s just so amazing.” She admits to liking pretty much any pop music from the nineteen sixties – girl groups in particular – and garage rock, the moody kind, both from the sixties and from the likes of the Wipers and Dead Moon. She also mentions old school country music and a touch of something religious. “... and I really like eighties dance music,” she says. “Madonna’s one of my favourites.” I mention that when last I saw Vivian Girls, playing support to Black Lips in 2009, the girls closed their set
with quite an impressive stunt: they swapped instruments, mid song, without missing a chord or a beat.“We haven’t done that in a really long time,” she says. “We only did that with Ali.” Shame, as shticks go, it was pretty excellent. Cassie quickly changes the subject, saying that the ﬁrst time Vivian girls played with Black Lips was here, in London; they did a three-week tour with them (“It was pretty crazy”) and have only just ﬁnished touring Japan together. She says they’ll probably tour together again – at the moment, the girls are touring by themselves, with different support bands in every port, which Cassie doesn’t seem as keen on, though, she says, they do end up re-connecting with bands they’ve played with previously, like Veronica Falls, tonight. “Every time we’ve been on a longer tour with somebody, it’s always been mutual that we want to tour together,” she explains,“but for certain shows, say, a club in Bristol, England, the venue will set the bands up. For tours though, it’s always our choice.” Cassie seems ﬁercely protective of the right to use her own judgement. Bar the help the band get from publicists, booking agents and their record label, she says the band makes all the decisions. There’s one decision I’m almost certain can be credited to her, a tie between the new record and its predecessor, ‘Everything Goes Wrong’, other than the continuity in darkening of mood: the cover art. The 2009 album shows a dark mountain range, surrounded by falling snow that looks like stars, with three small shrubs in the foreground that could easily be taken as the backs of three people, sitting and staring at the mountain. ‘Share the Joy’ also features a mountain range, this time hand-drawn, sparsely scattered with tiny ﬁr trees and pierced by a dirt path that runs into the middle and disappears between two ridges. What’s the connection? What do the two sets of
mountains mean? “The mountains…” she gazes off into the middle distance. “I dunno, obstacles; trying to overcome the obstacle that is life, I guess.“ Cassie says she does all the artwork for the band and that the majority of it is landscapes – the one with the three shrubs is a photo she took out of a car window. “We were on the highway, driving through Texas - a place called Van Horn - and I actually really like that album cover because if you look really closely on the mountain, there’s a ‘V’, and the three shrubs, I think there’s some cool symbolism going on there.” Not that we delve any further into that symbolism, which possibly has such a signiﬁcant meaning to Cassie that she’d rather not divulge. For all her passion and honesty, she is also a very private person, particularly when it comes to her writing. “I try to write whenever I have a moment alone,” she says, “which isn’t that often. We were just in Thailand and I had some time to myself so I wrote a lot there. Sometimes I write backstage, but I can’t do it when people are around, my brain freezes up. “When it doesn’t work, it’s really frustrating…” she trails off. Her stars and stripe sunglasses stare at me from atop her head while her face turns to the raindrops on the table. I feel like I’m torturing her. “No, I’m cool,” she insists, “this is my interview face.” She plays with a pendant around her neck in the shape of a tooth, which looks slightly odd when she gnaws on it absentmindedly. What the interview face is telling me is that passion,
“I’M KIND OF A BRUTALLY SINCERE PERSON IN A LOT OF WAYS. I FIND IT HARD TO BE CALCULATED”
privacy and honesty can make difﬁcult bedfellows, especially when your life and work are so inextricably bound. In a few weeks Cassie will be back in the US though, and perhaps she’ll get some time to herself. “My horoscope says that by then all the doom and gloom will be behind me and it’ll be time to party,” she smiles. “I love astrology, it’s one of my major obsessions. I’m thinking about taking classes and getting a degree in it.” She asks for my star sign, which is Aquarius. Apparently Aquarians are amazing musicians, without an ego about it, who have radical ideas and tend to get on with everyone, which makes us great bandmates. Cassie is a Pisces. I went to school with a lot of those, and it seemed that almost all the Pisces girls were hopeless romantics, while all the boys of the same sign were hopelessly in love with themselves.“Well, I’m very hopeless, and very romantic,” she laughs, somewhat wryly. It starts drizzling again and we head back to the venue, where a large queue has formed outside. “Look at all the people,” Cassie murmurs, looking both nervous and relieved. She invites me in to chill out before the gig, and we stand by the stage for a moment, watching Veronica Falls check their sound. Almost immediately though, Cassie makes her excuses; she wants some quiet time alone before the night begins, and swiftly disappears behind a curtain to the dressing room beyond. The line between life and art is certainly thinner for some more than others, and, for artists like Cassie Ramone, it seems it really is impossible to be anything but herself.
RE OCT 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
Apparat Death in Vegas Dum Dum Girls Future Islands Givers Jeffrey Lewis Kai Fish Lanterns on The Lake Laura Marling Neon Indian New Look Prince Rama Remember Remember Roots Manuva SIINAI Spank Rock Still Corners Teeth Total Slacker Various Artists Walls Waters Wild Flag Zola Jesus Zun Zun Egui
LIVE Big Deal Bos Angeles Catâ€™s Eyes Cerebral Ballzy Flow Festival - Empire of The Sun - Hercules & Love Affair - Janelle Monae - Kany West - Midlake - Mogwai - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart 06 Rainbow Arabia 07 Timber Timbre 08 Wooden Shjips
01 02 03 04 05
Prince Rama Trust Now (Paw Tracks) By Danny Canter. In stores Oct 17
Brooklyn duo Prince Rama are not like other bands. No, really. Not in sound, and certainly not in personality.They’re a sibling two-piece (as of a couple of months ago when third member Michael Collins left the band) who have written ﬁve albums in four years, one of which – ‘Architecture of Utopia’ – was based on a series of Utopic diagrams drawn by World Trade Centre architect Paul Laffoley.They don’t do drugs, even if the caterwauls and mysticisms of their recordings lead us to believe otherwise, and they’re so nonplussed by being in a band for all the usual material treasures that they didn’t even know who Animal Collective’s Avey Tare was when he signed them to his band’s Paw Tracks label.Their healthy outlook on creativity (they seem to do it because they have too, rather than any other reason) is no doubt thanks to their healthy childhood, growing up on a Hare
Krishna farm in Florida before they moved to Boston to attend art school.The farm has deﬁnitely inﬂuenced their shamanic avant-pop sound, which is more often than not made up of Sanskrit chants, cyclic structures and call and response lyrics.Theirs is a type of psychedelic music far more spiritual than that made with a fuzz pedal, reverb drenched vocals and a trunk of weed. ‘Trust Now’ begins with ‘Rest In Peace’ – a track driven by Indian, ﬂat-palmed drums and prayer bells (Prince Rama love prayer bells) that is reluctant to ever end. More than once it rolls to stop only to spring into life again, hanging on a ﬂuid groove that makes the whole thing feel like more like a celebration of life than the mourning of it. Optimism-amongst-doom – it’s a recurring theme across the rest of ‘Trust Now’, which, due to the band’s obsession with repetition, stands at just six tracks long. Even when the songs are sung in plain English (which isn’t all the time) the lyrics are difﬁcult to make out, mewed by sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson. But lyrics aren’t what this
record is about.The tracks of ‘Trust Now’ are fascinatingly intricate, made up of layers of synths, thunder drums, cosmic space noises and countless acoustic instruments.The feel of the record as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts – the chanted vocals that menace on ‘Trust’ and are divine at the front end of the closing ‘Golden Silence’ simply serve as another instrument; another layer to Prince Rama’s overtly spiritual world. Standing in their way of total greatness is almost everything they do. Cynics will – and have – dismissed them as MGMT-a-like art school kids, mistaking spirituality with an appetite for hallucinogenic drugs; a band that are better at drawing shapes for their record sleeves than they are at making music. And as for what the Larson sisters really are, their music is simply too weird for them to cross over like their label bosses Animal Collective have. ‘Trust Now’ is a thirty-ﬁve-minute trip, though – you just have to be willing to go on it. And you should be, because nothing about this unique sounding record feels false.
Death In Vegas
Creatures of an Hour
The Devil’s Walk
(Sub Pop) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Oct 17
(Island) By Chal Ravens. In stores Oct 10
(Wichita) By Tom Pinnock. In stores Oct 10
(Mute) By Edgar Smith. In stores Sept 26
(Portobello Records) By Reef Younis. In stores Sept 26
Still Corners’ debut LP traverses through a series of emotions and musical landscapes that results in one of the most textural but delicately executed records of ’11. Awash with sweet melodies akin to those that made Beach House’s ‘Teen Dream’ such a delight – coupled with intricate, often ambient and sometimes malevolent senses of sonic accompaniment – it results in a record that can be concurrently gorgeous, ghostly and grandiose. It embraces space with open arms, which gives it a nocturnal, almost cinematic sense of stillness. It’s a record that seems to have been made almost exclusively for 3am breakdowns, as you reach for solace in a pair of headphones.The guitar tonalities, drum pounds and tantalising symbol crashes share similarities to one of last year’s most overlooked bands, Lower Dens, and like them this exude a seamless sense of beauty.
Givers achieved the highly soughtafter buzzband status at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin,Texas, and it’s easy to see why on the Louisiana band’s strikingly competent and unabashedly joyous debut album. Opener and lead single ‘Up Up Up’ (which they performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in June, another rite of passage in the journey to buzzdom these days) is as sugary sweet and over-egged as instant mix pancakes, spilling over with enough colour and melody to keep most bands going for a whole album.The songs range from intricate to kaleidoscopic to bewildering, stitching Longstreth guitars, fragmented percussion, properly good vocals and ﬂavours of zydeco (the folk style of their home state) into a skewed pop record that should appeal to fans of Dirty Projectors, tUnE-YarDs and Vampire Weekend.
The quality of this supergroup’s rock-roaring debut isn’t a surprise – after all, Carrie Brownstein elevated Sleater-Kinney’s garagey alt-rock to legendary status with her quicksilver lead guitar and hiccupping Patti Smith-inspired vocals, and Janet Weiss has consistently been one of the greatest drummers of the last two decades in Quasi, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks and SleaterKinney. No, what’s a shock is how damn fun ‘Wild Flag’ is.The quartet sound like they’re teenagers playing in a suburban garage, stumbling upon dumb indie gems (‘Boom’, ‘Romance’), expansive prog jams (‘Glass Tambourine’), bubblegummy girlpop (‘Endless Talk’) and Breedersesque stompers (‘Black Tiles’) by accident. It’s a wide-ranging and electrifying debut from a whose really shouldn’t be having this much fun after so many years.
When press emails went out heralding Apparat as another of Mute’s post-corporate blood money signings, it was intriguing to think of Sascha Ring’s artful, if car-advert-friendly, electronic project meeting a label of hard-arse circuitry enthusiasts. Sadly, the result is probably Apparat’s most commercial release yet. Fans can expect more instrumentrich/2step-tinged electronica, and the album opens promisingly. In fact, the paradoxically titled ‘Sweet Unrest’ describes the rest perfectly; while ‘Devil’s Walk’ continually hints at perhaps being the anguished creative product of a break-up, it nevertheless sounds daisies-out saccharine all the time. The ﬂoating vocal appendages are a case in point and The X Factorlevel emotional intensity is so constant that the LP ends up like watching a couple get grossly intimate in Carphone Warehouse.
Once upon a time, Death In Vegas were vital, as they fused electro, dub, rock and live instrumentation that was dark, danceable and eclectically experimental.That was 1999 when ‘The Contino Sessions’ was busy purposefully crashing fret and circuit boards together as part of the ’90s dance renaissance, but fast forward seven years since the last Death in Vegas album and we’re faced with Richard Fearless’ decision to revitalise the DiV name. Obviously, to try and rehash the past would be questionable, but it’s almost forgivable in light of ‘Trans-Love Energies’’s uneasy mix of mordant Witch House atmospherics, inadmissible vocals and bland ’80s drone.The sci-ﬁ squall of ‘Savage Love’ is an isolated highlight but it’s the Hard-Fi-meets-Babylon Zoo car crash of ‘Lightning Bolt’ that conﬁrms this is one stealthy return best kept under the radar.
Laura Marling A Creature I Don’t Know (Rough Trade) By Sam Little. In stores now
People think of The xx and Mumford & Sons when they think of sleeper success stories, and while they’re right to, neither have surprised quite to the extent of Laura Marling – the platinum blonde 21-year-old with the heartbroken voice; the Mercury Prize two-time nominee; the Brit Award winner; the soul-baring folk singer who completes new albums of extremely personal, often sombre material at an alarming rate. ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ is Marling’s third record, perhaps her best, and her fourth is almost complete too. It’s bound to fuel Marling-mania. Hardly chocolate boxes and roses, it remains the singer’s most consistently up-beat record yet, helped on its jaunty, country-tinged way by the opening, skifﬂing ‘The Muse’.The pace remains more ‘Devil’s Spoke’ than ‘New Romantic’ throughout, with each song yawning into life before – on ‘The Beast’ especially – plugging in like when Dylan did. And with a voice as earnest as ever, even the Andrea Corr moments are forgiven.
AL BUMS 03/10
Dum Dum Girls
Only In Dreams
By Chal Ravens. In stores Sept 26
(Marshall Teller) By Mandy Drake. In stores Sept 26
By Nathan Westley. In stores Sept 26
By Olly Parker. In stores Sept 26
(Kompakt) By Reef Younis. In stores Oct 3
How to make a Zola Jesus record in next to no time:Take one facsimile of Marina Diamandis’ voice. Extract the froggish tics and cod-operatic throatiness; discard the rest, including consonants. Apply a layer of chest-thumping histrionics and allow to dry until almost transparent. Add a few coarse chunks of piquant instrumentation – prepared piano and re-animated toy box, for instance (or whatever presets you have to hand). Dust with upsidedown crosses and a few bumps of unidentiﬁable low-grade dust; serve on a bed of ripped tights to wide-eyed fashion interns and MP3 bloggers. Any leftovers can be passed on to little sisters feeling down about their GCSE results. Look, I hate to be ﬂippant. But if Zola Jesus can’t be bothered to put any effort into her third studio album, then neither can I. A torturously tedious listen.
Don’t be fooled by the name, or Total Slacker’s Brooklyn zip code. They are NOT a lo-ﬁ guitar band. They’re pretty close, but ‘Thrashin’ is a mid-ﬁ record if anything, and it turns out that mid and lo-ﬁ are miles, if not worlds, apart. For starters, the vocals sit pleasingly high in the mix – so high, in fact, that you can easily make out lines like “Stealing from Salvation Army is the greatest steal of all/’Cause it’s stealing from Republican parties”. ‘Thrashin’, as an album title, is even more misleading, with the band mostly grooving slo-mo, mixing grunge guitars with anthemic pop melodies, not unlike Smith Westerns. And then there’s the backing vocals, sung by guys that sound like girls. And while tracks like ‘Stuck in ’93’ are of course achingly retro,Total Slacker have snatched garage rock from the jaws of death, despite lo-ﬁ’s unintentional attempts to kill it.
It wasn’t long ago that UK urban music was looked down upon, near constantly viewed as an inferior cousin to its American variation, and it’s safe to say that Rodney Smith aka Roots Manuva’s work and inﬂuence has played a vital part in any narrowing. Now viewed as an elder statesman of the UK urban scene, he’s still largely looked upon as being an artist that comfortably resides on pop’s outer fringes. ‘4everevolution’ sees the benchmark maintained but can also proudly stand as a musically varied pop album that should see a more mainstream looking audience ﬁnally embrace him. Both musically and lyrically potent, his topical words skip over wonky reggae, straight up hip hop and on the death disco touched ‘Here We Go Again’ vibrating dubstep basslines. Not many albums this year will be so jaw droppingly good.
I spent six months living on my own in a semi-legal rented ﬂat. It was grim and lonely so I made a playlist to cheer up my surroundings and ﬁll the space. At the heart of it was ‘Jail La-La’ by Dum Dum Girls – a Popgun meets US Garage tune with a simple narrative lyric that took me away from my grim little room and put me in heartland America; classic escapism.Times are different now but I guess I was hoping for the same sense of escapism and what I found was, well, different. First thing you notice is the production. Gone are the fuzzy bedroom recordings and in its place your classic “new-wave” sound. It’s Blondie, It’s Altered Images; it’s an album that unashamedly lives and dies on its songs alone. So, sometimes it lives and sometimes it dies. A decent album punctuated by a few good tunes, but bogged down by too much ﬁller.
Walls’ self-titled debut was a thing of introspective beauty. All dreamy soundscapes and hazy psychedelic noise, they hit their ambient ebb and ﬂow almost immediately with Sam Willis’ synths luxuriating and Alessio Natalizia’s warm, heavy guitar murmurs tantalisingly leaving you wanting more. And on their second LP, the same ethos applies. Still ﬁrmly in their breezy, if laconic, stride, ‘Coracle’ isn’t prepared to outstay its welcome. It’s a ﬁne balance but in the album’s modest 35 minutes, the skewed Boards of Canada-esque idiosyncrasies of ‘Into Our Midst’ intrigues, the delicate piano line and pregnant pause of ‘Drunken Galleon’ is classic Explosions In The Sky (minus bombast), and the anthemic twinkle of ‘Raw Umber/ Twilight’ is worth every second of its triumphant, transcendent 6 minutes.This is Walls’ second invitation for you to bask.
Future Islands On The Water (Thrill Jockey) By Luke Winkie. In stores Oct 11
Let’s get it out of the way at the top; that Samuel T. Herrings’ voice is still quite the barrier of entry. He’s got a high-strung warble that sounds inches away from topping out at a weepy breakdown or breaking character into a giggle.The rest is all beautiful without asterisk – dewy, dollar-store synth-noise played with controlled earnest, dance-pop drums slowed and sculpted into something that actually resembles the heartening warmth they were chemically engineered to deliver.When Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner demolishes her blacked-out, gut-wrenching, voice-cracking guest spot on ‘The Great Fire’ you’ll ﬁnd yourself closer to enlightenment than you’d ever think a band like Future Islands were capable of delivering.The press-kit is full of the metaphysical wankery you’d expect from a band with words like “New Wave” proudly emblazoned across their Wikipedia page, but it all feels true. And frankly, I couldn’t care less how deep your snobby rabbit hole goes when you write songs this good.
Life In Monochrome
A Turn in The Dreams Song
Out In The Light
(Music For Wolves)
By Olly Parker. In stores Oct 3
By Chris Watkeys. In stores Sept 26
By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Oct 10
By Danny Canter. In stores Sept 26
Neon Indian falls perfectly in a space between two stools. On the one hand, he can make weird and interesting noises; on the other he can write pop songs. It’s simplistic to say you have to pick a direction and go with it. Sometimes you pick the weird noises, build it up and then you end up back at pop (see Caribou’s ‘Swim’), but there tends to be a cast iron rule that when you walk the line between both you either write something utterly stupendous, or you write something a bit ‘meh’. As it is, this falls squarely in ‘meh’ territory. It sounds interesting, the songs seem well crafted, but I just can’t get below the surface. It’s certainly a step up from his debut album, ‘Psychic Chasms’, but again, I can’t put my ﬁnger on why that is. I’d be tempted to give this album 3/10, just for being average, but really it deserves 7 because, it’s, y’know, average.
“I’m close to tears most of the time, recently,” are the opening words of this document of emotional upheaval; the debut solo effort from Mystery Jets bassist Kai Fish.Yet far from the forty-ﬁve minute acoustic navel-gazing session we were expecting after opener ‘Erasing The Young’, ‘Life In Monochrome’ is in fact a rich, Technicolor guitar pop album, tempered by downbeat and sometimes desperate lyrical themes. ‘Homerton Baby’ rocks like a well-crafted take on Babyshambles, while ‘Windows In Mirrors’ is awkwardly hesitant, doom-laden and vaguely psychedelic. Damon Albarn’s solo projects are clearly an inﬂuence on standout track ‘Real Life’.This is an album that speaks to unhappy, lonely people in its lyrics, and fans of bright, melancholic melody in its music. It speaks superbly, and it speaks volumes.
Jeffrey Lewis has always been an acquired taste, seemingly loved or loathed. It seems after 10 years of releasing records in this manner, his frustrations, disillusions and passionate tumults have come to the surface.While as playful and as charming as ever, there are moments on ‘A Turn…’ in which he seems to be in genuine emotional turmoil, questioning the very notion of who he is and what he’s doing.While he seems to have found an answer in some songs (‘Cult Boyfriend’) he still seems completely lost in others (‘So What If I Couldn’t Take It’). It’s the recordings of a mind that seems to be running a mile a minute and emotions that are up, down, left and right all at once, and like most people travelling through emotional turbulence, all of this questioning has resulted in Lewis’ greatest and most interesting work to date.
It’s rather ﬁtting that WATER’s debut album arrives just as we’re reminded of Ryan Adam’s existence. ‘Out In The Light’, does, after all, play like Adam’s ‘Gold’ – still the singer’s ﬁnest example of establishing a middle ground between the achingly personal and straight up rock’n’roll. Maybe there aren’t quiet enough weepy, acoustic tracks here for the comparison to completely stand up (with the exceptions of the quietly croaked ‘Ones You Had Before’ and the closing road song ‘Mickey Mantle’), but ‘Out In The Light’ certainly has its fair share of country-driven anthems of optimism, like the title track and the blues-heavy ‘O Holy Break of Day’, which tries to sound like a religious experience and doesn’t fall too short, in a Hollywood cowboy way. A new project from Port O’Brien’s Van Pierszalowski, more people should listen to this.
The Quickening (Rockaction) By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Sept 26
It doesn’t help that Remember Remember are Glaswegian in making the quick association between them and Mogwai. Of course, Mogwai occasionally sing, whereas Remember Remember abstain completely, but that same dense, brooding and allencompassing wall of guitar led instrumentation is very much cut from the same cloth.This, the six piece’s second album, is a lengthy listen (8 songs in 50 minutes). It’s also incredibly ambitious in sound and scale, seeming to try and get as close to a full blown orchestra as you can within the conﬁnes of prog rock. ‘Ocean Potion’ is the album’s highlight, with swirling guitars and endless crescendos keeping you captivated throughout, which is impressive for a nine and a half minute epic. There are other ﬁne moments too, but too few to warrant more than a couple of repeated listens.
Teeth Whatever (Moshi Moshi) By Polly Rappaport. In stores Sept 19
Rambunctious noise-pop trio Teeth have effortlessly dodged the stigma of pretentiousness that frequently taints the East London music scene, declaring on opening track ‘Confusion’, “Y’all think we care, but we don’t!”This is possibly tongue in cheek, but deﬁnitely true.This stuff is brazenly lo-ﬁ, using only a laptop, semi-electric drum kit and distorted, ’tudedrenched vocals; its natural habitat, a warehouse party where everyone is dancing and things have already started to get messy. It’s in your face electro-punk with lashings of Gameboy rave, fuzzed lasers zinging past acidic Casio bleeps, while drums and cymbals get the pummelling of their existence. ‘See Spaces’ explores the trippier side of the spectrum with synthetic bells and a soaring chorus, while shitkicker ‘Time Changes’ rolls into riot punk territory, with a steady beat and bass line underpinning a barrage of disenchanted, disaffected slogans.What Teeth do is noisy, stroppy, neon, and a little bit cool as fuck.We like it.Whatever.
AL BUMS 08/10
Lanterns On the Lake
Zun Zun Eyui
Gracious Tide, Take Me Home (Bella Union)
Kompakt Total 12
By Reef Younis. In stores Sept 26
By Edgar Smith. In stores now
New Look read like a hipster’s dream. A painfully cool couple that spend their time ﬂitting between Berlin, Brooklyn and their native Canada, their self-titled debut juxtaposes the experimental composition of Dirty Projectors, the glitterball funk of Chromeo and vocals that you want to whisper naughty things in your ear. Off the back of a proliﬁc few months of intelligent, alternative pop, ‘New Look’ is expertly fashioned, set to cutely coax awkward shapes to unassuming, hip-snaking rhythms and irritatingly infectious melodies. Jazz-lounge smooth but never predictable, where Sarah Ruba’s star vocal sidles into the chunky bass and 80s electro pad percussion of ‘Drive You Home’, the XX 8-bit of ‘Relax Your Mind’ jilts into the murkier, breathless drop tempo minimalism of ‘Numbers’.The pop renaissance is not letting up.
A year early and way out from the games’ ofﬁcially sanctioned market image, a record to get you feeling full of Olympic spirit.We’re pretty sure there’s no connection with the real-life tax-paid advertising opportunity/steroid-fest/disguise for a modern era slum-clearance (for one, S I I N A I are Finnish), but there is an Olympian theme, drawn in big brush strokes.That their album’s name conﬂate both Jehovah’s and the Ancient Greeks’ Gods’ favourite mountains is no accident; these lot aren’t about subtlety. Motorik programme music, it’s an epic love-in with the major key, with things getting a bit too ‘Chariots of Fire’ for our liking by the time we hit ‘Victory’. Space Rock factors here too and grandiosity of this type seems to be trending upwards.We can’t say when for sure but – trust us – a full-scale prog revival is long overdue.You’ve been warned.
By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Sept 19
By Edgar Smith. In stores now
By Nathan Westley. In stores Oct 3
As well as being the front runner for tweeist album title of the year, the debut LP from Newcastle sextet Lanterns On The Lake is also the closest thing to a comforting musical cardigan ever released.The band, who have put out two EPs prior to this release, play the cutest, cuddliest folk imaginable. It has nods to all those folkies ranked highest (Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake), all of which are spun together in a musical equivalent of a child’s comforter. Tracks like ‘I Love You, Sleepyhead’ and ‘The Places We Call Home’ feel like they’ve been imported from a land where pain, war, famine and Phil Collins don’t exist and everyone goes for picnics everyday, still communicates entirely by letter and where Emmy The Great is as famous as Lady Gaga. If that’s not your thing, you’ll probably need a sick bag; if it is then you’ll adore it.
With the exception of metal, techno has about the most hugely devout and not-just-a-little crazy core following, so even discussing it can sometimes feel like invading someone’s private ceremony. Kompakt’s ‘Total’ compilation series has served to highlight minimal techno that’s ear-candy for those both in and outside the electronic sanctum. Part of the reason is their producers’ willingness to bring-in riskily eclectic sources (New Order-ish guitars, Steel Drums, developed vocal ideas) even while subsuming them into a clearly deﬁned palate. After the digital melancholia of Kolombo’s opener, there’s a whole patch of killers half-way in; Gui Boratto’s ‘The Drill’ followed by ‘I Don’t Smoke’ (Matias Aguayo in hilarious banality-mode), especially. Its time to put away the cheery barbeque playlist and get ready for some miserable and serious partying.
Although the tongue twistingly titled but easily Googleable Zun Zun Egui failed to reach for a name that was instantly memorable, they have employed one that sums up their music perfectly: they are not straightforward. It’s on opening song ‘Katang’ that this album is set off on a path that has much in common psychologically with the Oxford brigade of Foals and Jonquil, but while those condense their sound into relatively digestible bites, the multi-lingual Zun Zun Egui let theirs roll and progress into incorporating vocalised chirruping, soulful grooves and elements of classic seventies American rock, like on the wah-wah heavy ‘Twist My Head’.They do, however, still maintain a preference for precision over long slung brutish rock’n’roll swagger. Some label themselves as ‘experimental’; this lot just are.
Spank Rock Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar (Bad Blood) By Luke Winkie. In stores Sept 26
It makes perfect sense that Big Freedia shows up on the second track of Spank Rock’s much-delayed resurgence. Both hypersexual memes that, while pretty fun at parties and weirdo festivals, are pretty hard to take seriously. Spank’s cranky, subterranean electro-rap is in full-form on ‘Everything is Boring, Everyone is a Fucking Liar’; it certainly dishes up the hooks, as long as you remove your brain from the equation.The stripped-down, almost Soulja Boy-ian sense of songwriting on tracks like sloppy club-banger ‘Birfday’ and self-parodying shotgun-blast ‘#1 Hit’ do work, but it’s totally up to your personal threshold for dirty hedonism. I’m probably more equipped for this sort of thing than the average Loud And Quiet reader, but even I was strung out by the end. It does a good job of replicating that strange, diffuse feeling of being deliriously overwhelmed on a crowded danceﬂoor. It’s a unique feeling, but not something I want to revisit for a whole record.
FLOW FESTIVAL SPECIAL
FLOW FESTIVAL Helsinki, Finland 12-14.08.2011 By Chris Watkeys ▼
European festival sites are often a little bit more interesting than those in the UK. Take Germany’s Melt, which takes place in a huge, disused quarry, bordered by monolithic abandoned mining machines, or Barcelona’s Primavera Sound, right on the coast, so you can watch the ships roll by as you imbibe your indie. Finland’s Flow Festival, which sits in the heart of Helsinki, is no less unique. It’s set on the site of a hundred year-old power plant – an ultraurban setting in the middle of the city. Amongst the cooling towers and the battered brickwork, the site’s most striking features are its twin red brick chimneys, tall and imposing against the night sky, which guide in the festival goers like some kind of inverse lighthouses. Now in its eighth year, Flow bills itself as a ‘music and arts’ festival (though as always, the punters come for the music, and the art is a nice bonus). Some big-name headliners (Kanye West and Royksopp top the bill this year) mix it up with a pretty choice selection of US and – to a lesser extent – UK indie, while some of the cooler Finnish acts make up about a third of the total line-up. This nation’s favourite sub-genre, death metal, is conspicuous by its absence though; the Finns get their ﬁll of that elsewhere. Flow’s capacity has swelled gradually over the years to its current sixteen thousand, but the site itself is still small enough to hop from stage to stage in a couple of minutes at most, and as well as a ‘proper’ art gallery, there’s also a superchilled ‘Film Garage’, with grafﬁti on the walls, big comfy cushions on the ﬂoor, subtle lighting and pot plants. As with most European city-based festivals, there’s no camping. So if, to you, a festival means wide open spaces, grass between your toes and canvas overhead, this ain’t gonna be your thing. If you like no mud, and a soft clean bed in a quiet hotel room, Flow will be just your cup of tea (or rather, just your can of insanely expensive lager – Heineken is seven euros a pop here). The headline acts tend to leave the stage at around midnight each night, leaving the punters to ﬁlter off into the various bars and clubs scattered around the site. It’s a beautiful, mostly native crowd – the Finnish, a good-looking bunch to start with, cool it up to the max here
– and there’s no lack of beautiful weather, either. It doesn’t get properly dark until around ten here, which means Midlake, playing on the expansive main stage, are bathed in the warm bright sunshine of mid-evening as they pour out their mellow, folky, harmonised majesty. At the back of the crowd, the copious, sad-tinged emotion with which this band play seems somewhat stunted by a too-quiet sound, their musical colours forced into whiteout by sheer lack of volume. Up in front of the stage, however, it’s a different experience altogether – as the band descend into a ﬁery, heavy musical whirlpool, their bass shakes your bones and their minor chord changes wrench at the soul. In front of a backdrop cycling images of all that’s good and green in nature, Midlake are elementally good tonight. Hercules & Love Affair, by contrast, is a massive, all-out dance party in a shed the size of an aircraft hangar. Rows of glitter balls hang from the roof as far as the eye can see, casually nodding heads give way to joyously waving arms, waves of elation wash over the masses, and all the while main man Andrew Butler conducts proceedings from the stage wearing only a pair of tight-ﬁtting swimming trunks. The music is literally ﬂoor-shaking stuff. In the eyes of the crowd you can see a collective euphoria, tribalism on a brief but massive scale. This corner of the festival is a very good place to be as the night draws to a close. On day two, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart espouse the high-energy essence of US
college-radio indie; a standard-issue hybrid of ﬁery, squally guitars and baggy t-shirts, they somehow manage to get this normally toocool-for-even-cool-school crowd willingly partaking in a hands-aloft clap along (though most quickly return to a shoegazey shufﬂe). The entire festival has heard good things about Janelle Monae it seems, and what feels like three quarters of the sixteen thousand strong crowd do their level best to cram into the ‘Blue tent’. And you can’t fault her stage production for show-business chutzpah; before she hits the stage, a compere in a top hat and tails spends a good couple of minutes introducing her, cranking up the atmosphere to a feverish level. Janelle herself strides on with that awesome haircut, and struts it proudly alongside seemingly dozens of suited and booted musicians.This is a ﬂamboyant show, alright, but the soul-pop she peddles can’t live with the performance, and she’s not helped by a muddy sound. Before long, there’s a lot more room in the Blue tent. Luke Steele of Empire Of The Sun knows a thing or two about showbiz ﬂamboyance, too. Theirs is the main stage headline slot on day two and the enigmatic Aussie emerges in a shimmering, metallic blue gladiator outﬁt plus skirt, wearing what looks like a ‘fascinator’ on his head, like some kind of fucked-up Pippa Middleton on an acid trip. He’s accompanied by two female dancers who look like silver-clad Batmans wielding prop guitars – it’s a stage show Kylie might be proud of, only with music that doesn’t turn your stomach, and a mellow
vibe.The gentle strummed chords and electronic beats of ‘We Are The People’ drift out into the cool night air, while for the downbeat ‘Without You’, Steele changes into an all-white outﬁt with tassels hanging from his shoulder pads, and a blonde Billy Idol-esque haircut. The shimmering pop of ‘Walking On A Dream’ closes the set, with Steele shadowboxing invisible ghosts on the stage.The man is semi-permanently behind a mask, either literally or ﬁguratively. A fake empire this may be, but it’s one you’d dearly love to be part of. Thankfully, the soundmen have got it right for Mogwai who are brutally, ear-blisteringly loud on the evening of the ﬁnal day, and – also thankfully – there’s no sunshine seeping into the relative dark of the Blue tent. Bathed in a blood red light, Mogwai blast forth a mixture of doom and optimism, their music a vicious storm with brief glimpses of blue sky through the doom-laden clouds.Their loud passages are ferociously heavy, their quiet passages laden with poignancy and meaning. The bass travels up through the concrete ﬂoor and rattles your spine. It’s ﬁre and ice, discordant, slashing, but within a strangely chilled-out musical frame, though the pounding beat of ‘Auto Rock’ is like a death march to heaven. Mogwai’s brilliance lies in their musical ability; their greatness lies in their diversity.The band switch from electronica-tinged beats, to synth-swathed cocoons of celestial noise, to a wall of sound almost nuclear in its effect. At the end of it all, Braithwaite announces to the crowd: “If you’re planning to see Kanye West instead of Battles, you need to be fucking sectioned.” Dazed, battered, and elementally affected, we ignore him, and wander out into the still-bright sunshine and over to the main stage. It’s dark though when Kanye West ﬁnally hits the stage almost an hour late, in front of easily the biggest crowd of the weekend, and treads ponderously through a two-hour set. There are pyrotechnics, there are more dancers than you can shake your gold chain at, the sound is perfect. It’s a slick show on an international scale, and ‘Jesus Walks’ drops early on, menacing and well delivered, but the rest of this show really is all style and no substance. About two-thirds of the way through, Kanye announces to the crowd: “You will never see one man come to the stage with so many hits.” And you will never see one man play those hits so routinely. It’s weak and thin, but large sections of the crowd go nowhere, and remain gawping vacantly at the megastar until he closes out the festival with ‘Hey Mama’. But Kanye West really isn’t what this festival is all about. Flow Festival is really about its select international line-up, the uber-cool nooks and crannies of its bars and clubs, the peaceful retreats of its galleries and cinema, and the many thousands of beautiful, genuine music fans drinking (outrageously expensive) booze. All that clearly outweighs one duff performance from an international hip-hop star, by a heavy ton.
FLOW FESTIVAL INTERVIEW
Mogwai Stuart Braithwaite tells Chris Watkeys, “Oh God, I really hate Jeremy Clarkson” We never thought we’d hear this man liken his band to Abba, but in response to an admittedly fairly pretentious question (‘The length and complexity of your music sometimes mirrors that found in classical music.Would it be fair to say that you’re closer to composers rather than rock musicians?’), bam! There it is – Stuart Braithwaite – Mogwai’s abrasively good guitarist – draws parallels between his music and that of Benny and Björn. “That is a nice observation,” he says of the ‘composer’ reference, with a half-smile on his face, “but I deﬁnitely think that what we do is, very essentially, rock music.To be honest, I think that some of the structure – maybe not the lengths, but the structures of the songs – are not far away from what Abba do… yeah, recurring melodies, and middle eights and all that kinda stuff. I think our music’s quite pop. Not all of it, but a lot of it. Probably the songs people like, ha ha!” I’m sitting with Stuart in the relative comfort of the press area at Flow Festival, an hour or so before the band are due on stage. He’s affable and relaxed, which – given Mogwai’s gruelling recent touring schedule – he has every right not to be. It’s been a slog travel-wise, but the band, by all accounts, have been on top form while gigging to promote 2011 release ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’. So how does it feel when you’re really ‘on it’ on stage, I ask, when you can feel that ﬁre and intensity run through you? “Pretty good,” he laughs. “Yeah, it’s deﬁnitely… that’s kinda what you hope to happen, and it doesn’t automatically happen. Sometimes you can’t really chase it, and you can’t escape the mechanics of what’s going on, but when you get lost in the music and stuff, it’s pretty amazing.Yeah, it’s good.You don’t want to get too lost, or you start forgetting what the next chord is!” Mogwai have been here at Flow before, but the event has become slightly bigger since the last time they played, and this time they’re on a larger second stage.The timings this weekend have panned out fortuitously too, so they’re not up against the
crowd-gobbling megastar headliner that is Kanye West. But even if they were, the volume of their performance might have a few heads turning back in their direction. It’s always loud out in the crowd, but how does Stuart like his monitor mix on stage? “It’s dis-gusting,” he smiles. “So loud. Dominic, who stands next to me, gets really mad about it. He’s got his in-ear monitors, and he says he can’t hear them properly because I’ve got so many wedges. But it’s ‘cos my amp’s really loud, so I need it all to be as loud! It’s good to feel your trousers ﬂapping about. These are too tight to ﬂap”, he says, nodding at his skinny britches, “but maybe the ankles, ha ha!” ‘Hardcore Will Never Die…’ has been widely critically praised, and is essentially Mogwai doing what they do best – moulding complex song structures and instrumentation into sonic landscapes of sometimes, breathtaking beauty.You might expect Stuart to prefer that creative process to the long hard slog of the road, but on the contrary – it’s the stage that really excites him. “I’m not a big studio fan, to be honest. I ﬁnd playing live quite liberating, and I ﬁnd playing in a studio quite suffocating. I get a bit stressed out about it, for no apparent reason. It’s great when it all comes together, but it’s pretty boring as well, the studio.” Just when you’re going over the same take a million times? “No, we don’t do that. But I can be quite particular about certain things, so it can take a couple of days to do one bit. And you’ll just be sitting there… and studios are always in industrial estates, so there’s not really much to do, except maybe have a sniff of glue, or something like that!” Find an old bunch of butane in the corner and have a go at that. “Yeah, or get an airgun and shoot someone’s cat.” Stuart has a malevolent glint in his eye and – don’t worry – his tongue ﬁrmly in his cheek. Such anti-
Interview continues on next page
LIVE Continued from previous page social behaviour would clearly not be becoming for a man of Braithwaite’s credibility, which brings us on to the topic of the recent public disorder in London; the widespread riots, which took place only a few days before our interview. Mogwai’s label, Rock Action, were directly affected by those riots – alongside many other independent labels, they lost a hell of a lot of CD stock when rioters burnt down a distribution warehouse in Enﬁeld. Can we indirectly blame the Tory government for that? “I’ve already speciﬁcally blamed the Tories for it,” Stuart responds, half-seriously. “ The Tories are responsible for the destruction of the new Remember Remember album, and our new EP [‘Earth Division’]! Yeah, the entire Rock Action back catalogue was in there.” Clearly no great fans of the Conservatives, Mogwai named a track on their latest album ‘George Square Thatcher Death Party’. Cameron’s bad, Braithwaite reckons, but no match in terms of sheer malevolence to Thatcher. “Y’know, I don’t like David Cameron – I’m sure most people that I would know don’t like him, but I don’t think he’s even in the same league as Margaret Thatcher. She just really relished destroying people’s lives.Yeah. And had some really awful opinions, all that kinda stuff about if you go on a bus when you’re over twenty-six you’re a failure?! That’s like something a James Bond villain would say! It’s horrendous!” Or Jeremy Clarkson. “Oh, god. I really hate Jeremy Clarkson.Yeah, he’s just a total prick.They use our songs quite a lot in that show, and they don’t have to ask. It drives me nuts. But when people tell me that, I’m like, ‘You watch bloody Top Gear?’ And they’re, ‘yeah’. ‘Really?’ Some quite respectable people, some people I was quite shocked at.” Back on a subject he’s clearly very passionate about, Braithwaite’s opinion is that the attitude of the various Conservative governments of recent decades has been fundamentally wrong. “If you go right back to Margaret Thatcher saying there’s no such thing as society – if you say there’s no such thing as society, then the people who are society have got no… well, what are they gonna take from that? They’re gonna start behaving like there is no society! And also, just right from the top – the phone hacking, the MP’s expenses, all this stuff is just a level of moral bankruptcy that surely ﬁlters down to every level of society. And if people… I’m not excusing people, it’s fucking retarded what those people were doing, but there’s parallels with ancient Rome, isn’t there, the mob.” The ﬂare-up of violence had been coming, Stuart reckons. “It also didn’t surprise me that it happened after the Tories came in, because I’m old enough to remember the eighties when people were smashing the place up. But the looting… that’s only the same as what the banks were doing on an epic, epic scale. And nobody went to jail for that.” His political passion sated, the ﬁre in his eyes dies away and we chat about new Glaswegian bands for a while (Divorce, and The Ballad Of Mabel Wong are well worth checking out, apparently). A short while later, Mogwai hit the stage and deliver what is, by our reckoning, head and shoulders the best set of the weekend. And it sounds nothing like Abba.
WOODEN SHJIPS The Scala, Kings Cross, London 04.09.2011 By Chris Watkeys ▼
Cat’s Eyes. Photography by Pavla Kopecna
Wooden Shjips’ new record, ‘West’, is a slightly more hooky take on drone-rock. A hybrid, most probably inspired by Eric ‘Ripley’ Johnson’s even hookier side project Moon Duo. ‘West’’s riffs are as relentless as they’ve ever been, but are sometimes lighter.Tonight at the (heartening-ly rammed) Scala, you’d struggle to discern that stylistic progression, though. In front of an almost exclusively male and bearded audience, Johnson and his band embark on the kind of aural battery that feels something like being assaulted with a melodic road drill for eighty minutes.The vocals, rare as they are, are almost incidental.There’s the standard white-noise lightshow backdrop, and the wizardly-looking Johnson himself stands stage right conducting proceedings like a dronerock Gandalf, but to be honest you don’t come to watch Wooden Shjips for the spectacle. It’s fantastically relentless stuff, a chord change, when it comes, almost takes you by surprise, and yet monotonous this is not. A few people even dance! The ‘new direction’ does rear its head in a couple of songs – ‘Lazy Bones’ could be a psychedelic take on a straight-ahead rock song, without a chorus – but for the most part it’s that ultra-loud, repetitive, enveloping groove, so beloved of Johnson, which bludgeons this crowd into a trance-like state. It’s a wonderful battering.
TIMBER TIMBRE Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton 01.09.2011 By Nathan Westley ▼
Cerebral by Dan Kendall Ut doloreBallzy. vullan Photography eum nulput volestrud moluptat
Since before the dawn of Rock’n’Roll people have long argued about what constitutes a good gig. Some will press for high energy and ﬁst pumping songs, while others will argue just as hard for subdued egos and solid reliable renditions. It’s the quiet folk who have their way this evening, as Canada’s folkhugging, alternative blues swigging trio Timber Timbre have always been a reﬂect bunch. Tonight, in this dark, low ceiling venue, they deliver a set that leaves little wonder to why they were Polaris
nominees this year (their home country’s equivalent of the Mercury Prize); the album doing the business ‘Creep On Creepin On’, their best yet. With frontman (and sole songwriter) Taylor Clark unafraid to crack the odd joke or embark on between-song banter about Robbie Robertson to help lighten the mood, the band are concentrated, and their performance often mixes together simple violin lines, understated piano, distinctive autoharp and solid solemn kick drum rhythms to form a melee of songs that either embody the grandiose hallmarks of a condensed Arcade Fire or swagger to the same dark grooves as Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds, or Tom Waits at his most disturbed.Timber Timbre remain neither wooden nor sonically onedimensional.
CEREBRAL BALLZY XOYO, Old Street, London 25.08.2011 By John Beck ▼
Cerebral Ballzy have long been the discerning hipster’s hardcore band of choice, but the buzz surrounding their recently released debut album has XOYO rammed despite an 8 o’clock stage time, opening for tour-mates Fucked Up and Off!. All sorts of punks are here for doors, from the skate kids you’d expect, insisting it was deﬁnitely advertised as an over 16s show, to the 50-somethings with green Mohawks, denim and leather, and an ongoing crush for Sid Vicious. Musically, Ballzy won’t surprise anyone who has an even passing afﬁnity with the noisier end of the musical spectrum circa-1982, although politicised rage has been forsaken for a terminally-teenage agenda of beer, pizza, skateboards and mindless rebellion. Dumb fun perhaps, but fun nonetheless. It’s a raw, chaotic proposition in the ﬂesh, all clashing guitars, breakneck speed and sneering, adenoidal vocals courtesy of the brattish Honor Titus. The quintet attack their booze-sodden set with abandon; nary a song clocks in at over two minutes, and despite the rhythm section’s best efforts, complete collapse never feels too far away. It’s exhilarating stuff though, and by the time they get to ‘Insufﬁcient Fare’ and recent single ‘Cutting Class’, the audience is on their side. It seems almost incongruous to see Ballzy in a venue of even these relatively
modest proportions, and the absence of tonight’s headliners will herald a return to their spiritual home on the toilet circuit, I’m sure. But if the hype machine does its job, they may not be there for much longer. Grab some cheap lager and see them while you can.
RAINBOW ARABIA The Shacklewell Arms, Dalston, London 06.09.2011 By Chal Ravens ▼
The faded tropical glamour of the Shacklewell Arms makes it a ﬁtting venue for the similarly faded tropical clamour of Rainbow Arabia, the LA husband-wife duo behind two EPs of M.I.A-meets-Sublime Frequencies electro. Now touring to promote their full-length debut album ‘Boys and Diamonds’ (a slightly out-of-character release for Berlin techno label Kompakt), Danny and Tiffany Preston adopt a 1-1-1 stage formation, with the hired drummer hands providing some dynamics against the banks of programmed synths and snares. Dressed down in a navy cardigan and Nike runners,Tiffany eschews the tribal raver aesthetic (very 2008), but if they’re so inspired by ‘world beats’ and the Middle Eastern dance music of Omar Souleyman and Co., why are they so afraid to cut loose? Despite the cacophonous carnival stylings, some songs fall ﬂat when man and machine don’t quite synchronise, while the preset rave whistle quickly becomes a chore on the ear. And really, is there a sadder question in popular music than “Can I have some more computer in the monitor?”? None of this would really matter if Rainbow Arabia were bringing a few stone-cold party bangers to the table, but a few hours later and the songs have slipped from my mind like Saharan sand.
CAT’S EYES Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 05.09.2011 By Olly Parker ▼
I cannot remember the last time I went to South Bank to watch, for want of a better term, an “indie” band play with a full orchestra and choir, but then there is a scale and ambition to Cat’s Eyes that is completely out of keeping with these
austere times. This is in no way a criticism; in fact I ﬁnd it admirable to utterly go against the ﬂow.The trick with big orchestral stuff is to actually not use it. If you’ve written two songs as good as ‘I Knew It was Over’ and ‘I’m Not Stupid’ then going full-out on one and stripping the other right back makes for something incredibly effective.The dynamic between the two songs tonight morphs into the dynamic between the creative duo at the heart of the band, and whether deliberate or not it almost feels like Horrors frontman Faris Badwan and opera soprano Rachel Zefﬁra are singing about their own break-up to the audience. The band end with a cover of ‘Lucifer Sam’ by Syd Barrett. And sure, it’s fun to see them play a great song, but with its rough vocal and surf-esque guitar line it’s almost an unwelcome reminder of Faris’ other project.The reason it’s a shame is because Cat’s Eyes genuinely have a distinct sound in their own right.This may be a one off sideproject but if you can ﬁll an auditorium, half with hipsters and half with Guardian readers, and still afford to pay the cello players then surely there’s mileage in this. Another album please, just leave the psyche-garage with the other lot. vercilisi. Na faccat nullavent alissi
The Lock Tavern, Camden, London 04.09.2011 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Even without knowing that Bos Angeles’ bassist wears a backwards baseball cap this evening, you can probably guess what kind of music this London trio peddle. I mean, they’re called Bos Angeles! As such, they neither shy away from their American slacker inﬂuences, nor take themselves outrageously seriously. A newborn bunch with a far from newborn sound, it shows this evening, in more ways than one. Naivety, we’re shown, is a double-edged sword, as the band refuse to throw the hissy ﬁt of a tired, desperate band when failing equipment stops the set dead for ten minutes (good), yet also appear too awkward to do much at all (not so good).They look at us, we look at them, in silence. No one gets mad for several reasons – it’s Sunday,The Lock Tavern is the kind of pub you’d spent your weekend in whether there was a band
with technical difﬁculties there or not and Bos Angeles look endearingly perturbed. Once they do start playing again, we’re back to the band’s surf garage tunes, which, if you check out their bandcamp page you’ll realise, are undeniably good, like The Drums. Good, but not great, with the exception of ‘Beach Slalom’ and its Cure-inspired guitar hook.Tonight, nothing is played to its full potential though, with the drums heavy-handed and at odds with the band’s sun-soaked dreams and the vocals mumbled ﬂatly. This is a band completely at their genesis, and I’m sure they’ve got much better shows to come, but seeing as the beach-band schtick got tired a long time ago, they need to hurry up and perfect their live sound before they miss the boat altogether.
BIG DEAL Tamesis Dock, Vauxhall, London 07.09.2011 By Matthias Scherer ▼
Looking for Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood’s band online isn’t very fruitful. Among the search results is an actually awful pub rock combo, but tonight, on a charming Dutch barge on the Southern bank of the Thames, Big Deal are the focus of everyone’s attention. The US/UK boy/girl duo could not have chosen a better location to celebrate the release of their album, ‘Lights Out’. No matter where you’re standing, you’re never further than seven feet away from the band and the vessel sways gently back and forth in time to the music. Big Deal’s set is only really revelatory if you haven’t heard their devastatingly simple, gorgeous combination of acoustic and fuzz guitars, topped with textbook harmonies before, but it’s great to see how the two of them manage to ﬁll the room with single-note riffs and Jesus & Mary Chain barre chords (her) and earnest strumming and puppy dog eyes (him). Their post-coital shoegaze might, to the casual listener, appear slightly samey, but the choruses in the beautiful lament of ‘Talk’ (“All I wanna do is talk/but seeing you fucks me up”) and the jangly ‘Distant Neighborhood’ are huge, and will no doubt reverberate around countless bedrooms – and possibly boats – before the year is out.
FILM By IAN ROEBUCK
THE SKIN I LIVE IN Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Bianca Suarez, Jan Cornet Director: Pedro Almodóvar
A young Ridley Scott on the set of Alien
Cinema Preview There’s no killing Ridley Scott ---No doubt there were plenty of tears in the rain throughout these unforgiving summer months, especially after Ridley Scott announced he’s to helm a modern replicant, a Blade Runner for our ages. Now a new generation can glimpse attack ships on ﬁre off the shoulder of Orion, or c-beams glittering in the dark by the Tannhauser gate. As long as we aren’t forced to watch Sam Worthington aimlessly chasing rubbery CGI… then it really would be time to die. All we can do is wildly speculate but the producers at Alcon Entertainment, Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove, have said that the ﬁlm would be a prequel or a sequel and not a remake of the dystopian 1982 movie.The ‘company’, which is what we will call them, purchased the rights and instantly cajoled Scott into being involved – it seems, aged 73, the British director still can’t put to bed his extraordinary legacy. One elder statesman who won’t be involved though is Harrison Ford. Not because Rick Deckard wouldn’t be seen dead with a diamond stud, we think it’s more that certain questions should never be answered. Still, replicant or no replicant, we’d put good money on the old Deckard dufﬁng up the new kid in town. Hopefully Pris returns, and the set and music are just as mind-blowing in Scott’s new world. Who can really predict Ridley Scott, though? Robin Hood begged for a bow and arrow through the
heart but Prometheus, his next project as director, has ﬁlm fans worldwide a ﬂuster, and when you learn that it’s a prequel to1979’s Alien it’s easy to see why. Scott, clearly going through some kind of existential ﬂap in the twilight of his career, now has a chance to emulate his golden age, or indeed screw up his legacy Lucas style. But it has to be said that things are looking good on the surface for Prometheus. It’s been scheduled for release next summer, has an on-point cast, a controversial but intriguing plot and more mystery than Miss Marple. Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba seem inspired choices already, but when you add Michael Fassbender into the mix as an android (like Ian Holm and Lance Henriksen before him) then the knicker twisting seems justiﬁed. One stumbling block could well be Charlize Theron in a Sigourney type role – anyone who witnessed Aeon Flux at the ﬂicks knows she can’t do sci-ﬁ, but it’s about time Theron equalled Monster after years of ducking up and down in potential. Scott was beamed into comic-con from a bleak, blustery Iceland over the summer, where he explained the ﬁlm shares DNA with the original Alien but won’t in fact be a prequel. However, the short clip he revealed showed ﬂashes of Giger-esque set design and shared similar imagery to Scott’s masterpiece. In fact, apart from Scott’s fascination with 3D, everything seems in place for a revival of sorts. After 30 years he’s back to the genre that instilled his ﬁerce reputation, let’s hope he can create replicants that live just as long a second time around.
A clinical, cut-throat edge infuses Pedro Almodovar’s masterfully macabre The Skin I Live In.The Spanish director displays skill with the tools of his trade in a similar fashion to his plastic surgeon protagonist: brutal but highly effective. In an exquisitely devilish turn, Antonio Banderas plays Dr Robert Ledgard, a gifted man haunted by a tragic past who invents a synthetic skin capable of withstanding damage. Living like Hannibal Lecter and looking like a dishevelled Cary Grant, Robert Ledgard sets about playing god with a mysterious brunette locked in the bedroom of his stylish pad. We soon learn that his wife suffered horriﬁc burns in a car crash, that he enjoys a puff on an opium pipe and that he has a proclivity for tight clothing, all of which add up to very little as scene after scene the mystery is compounded. It’s a fascinating ﬁlm dripping with symbolism and social commentary (expect nothing less from Almodovar), but there’s no need to go digging under the ﬂesh – at its surface, The Skin I Live In is a polished psychodrama capable of steady thrills just as much as bolts to the brain. All the while there is a constant undercurrent of violence as pistols hide in secretive drawers and knives and needles cruise from act to act as the sexual and physical tension bubbles.We are reminded of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange in both location and tone in one shocking scene where a raving and randy tiger (fancy dress, mind) ravishes Ledgard’s subject and it’s not the only occasion Almodovar plays with notions of sexuality.The entire ﬁlm is feast of carnal activity, in fact, where gender and sexual stereotypes need not apply. Much is made of the now infamous twist, particularly on the ﬁlm’s sensational poster, and when it kicks in it’s a real surprise.This is a slow burn, however, and anyone expecting a sugar-rush kick like The Usual Suspects will be disappointed. Still, the feeling you’re left with is both satisfying and disturbing in equal measures.
ADVERTISE IN LOUD AND QUIET /
EMAIL ADVERTISE AT LOUD AND QUIET DOT COM
next issue 15/10/11
NEVER MISS AN ISSUE
� ���� � � � � �� � � � � � ����� �
� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �� � � � �� � � � � � � �� � � � � � ������������������������������������������������������������ ����������������������������������������������
� � � � � � � � � �
������������������������ � �� ������������
� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �
������������ ���� ������������� �������������� �������������� ��������� ��������������
SMITH WESTERNS ������������������ �
��������� �������� ���������� ������ ������������ �������
Subscribe to Loud And Quiet and get our IAMV compilation 12” free www.loudandquiet.com
THE VICTORIA 451 QUEENSBRIDGE RD DALSTON, LONDON E8 3AS TO CELEBRATE THE RELEASE OF
WARM BRAINS OLD FOREST
ON 6TH OCTOBER 2011 8:00PM TIL 1AM
FREE ENTRY 18+
’S DEBUT SINGLE, ‘BLOODFLOOD/TESSELLATE’, OUT OCT 10 ON LOUD AND QUIET RECORDINGS
LOUD AND QUIET issue launch party live sound from DISCLOSURE WOMANâ€™S HOUR recorded sound from GOLDBARS GOOD SCHWIMMERS FREE ENTRY! THE SHACKLEWELL ARMS SHACKLEWELL LANE, DALSTON, LONDON, E8 2EB THURSDAY 22 SEPTEMBER
Ryan Adams / The Rapture / Ritualz / Vivian Girls / Mogwai / Woman’s Hour / I Break Horses / Kristina Records / Iceage / Summer Camp
Published on Aug 1, 2012
Ryan Adams / The Rapture / Ritualz / Vivian Girls / Mogwai / Woman’s Hour / I Break Horses / Kristina Records / Iceage / Summer Camp