LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 34 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
kwes + PEAKING LIGHTS GUIDED BY VOICES SUNLESS â€˜97 HOOKWORMS PERFUME GENIUS FLAMINGODS PRINZHORN DANCE SCHOOL SHABAZZ PALACES
RAISED ON A DIET OF TOP OF THE POPS
CONTENTS FE B RUARY 2012
09 . . . . YEAR OF TH E FUCKW IT / SI NG LES & BOOKS THE YEAR THE PAPERS MESSED WITH MUSIC AND THE LATEST SINGLES AND PAGE-TURNERS
10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LE FTO V E R GHOSTPOET QUIZZES THE BIG PINK AND ASKS MILO CORDELL ‘WHAT IS SUCCESS?’
P E RFU M E G E N I US . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 THE HIGHLY PERSONAL WORLD OF SEATTLE’S MICHAEL HADREAS
S U N L E S S ’ 97 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 1997 WAS A YEAR TO REMEMBER FOR THIS TRIO. 2012 LOOKS TO FOLLOW SUIT
H O O K W O R M S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 INTENSE DRONE ROCK FROM LEEDS THAT’S GOING TO BE IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE THIS YEAR
P RI NZ HORN DANCE SCHOOL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 WHERE THE HELL HAVE SUZI HORN AND TOBIN PRINZ BEEN FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS?
SHABAZZ PALACES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 FROM SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, THE MOST PROGRESSIVE HIP-HOP ACT OF THE LAST TWO YEARS
P EAKI NG LIG HTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 HAVING A BABY NEEDN’T SLOW DOWN ANY TOURING BAND. JUST BRING ‘EM ALONG FOR THE RIDE
FLAM I NGODS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 THE BAND OF DRUMMERS THAT FORMED AT ATP BY PLAYING AN 8-HOUR SHOW IN THEIR CHALET
KW ES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 RAISED ON A DIET OF TOP OF THE POP, PRODUCER KWESI SEY IS FINALLY READY LAUNCH HIS SOLO CAREER
G U I DE D BY V OICES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY COCHI ESSE
CONTACT INFO@LOUDANDQUIET.COM LOUD AND QUIET PO BOX 67915 LONDON NW1W 8TH EDITOR - STUART STUBBS ART DIRECTOR - LEE BELCHER SUB EDITOR - ALEX WILSHIRE FILM EDITOR - IAN ROEBUCK ADVERTISING ADVERTISE@LOUDANDQUIET.COM CONTRIBUTORS BART PETTMAN, CARL PARTRIDGE, CHAL RAVENS, CHRIS WATKEYS, COCHI ESSE, DANIEL DYLAN WRAY, DANNY CANTER, DK GOLDSTIEN, ELINOR JONES, ELLIOT KENNEDY, EDGAR SMITH, FRANKIE NAZARDO, GARETH ARROWSMITH, JANINE BULLMAN, LEE BULLMAN, KATE PARKIN, KELDA HOLE, GABRIEL GREEN, GEMMA HARRIS, LEON DIAPER, LUKE WINKIE, MANDY DRAKE, MATTHIAS SCHERER, NATHAN WESTLEY, OWEN RICHARDS, OLLY PARKER, PAVLA KOPECNA, POLLY RAPPAPORT, PHIL DIXON, PHIL SHARP, REEF YOUNIS, SAM LITTLE, SAM WALTON, SONIA MELOT, TIM COCHRANE, TOM GOODWYN, TOM PINNOCK THIS MONTH L&Q LOVES BEN HARRIS, BEN WHYBROW, DUNCAN JORDAN, JODIE BANASZKIEWICZ, KEONG WOO, LEAH ELLIS, LUCY HURST, RICH WALKER, SINEAD MILLS, WILL LAWRENCE THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN LOUD AND QUIET ARE THOSE OF THE RESPECTIVE CONTRIBUTORS AND DO NOT NECESSARI LY REFLECT THE OPINI ONS OF THE MAGAZINE OR ITS STAFF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2011 LOUD AND QUIET. DISTRIBUTED BY LOUD AND QUIET AND FORTE DISTRIBUTION. PRINTED BY SHARMAN & COMPANY LTD.
THE ORIGINAL INDIE LO-FI CULT BAND, BACK AFTER 15 YEARS APART
36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ALBUMS FILMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 TRAILER TRASH TRACYS, CHAIRLIFT, TENNIS AND ALL THE MONTH’S KEY RELEASES
IAN ROEBUCK TAKE A LOOK AS WHAT COMING UP AT THE MOVIES IN 2012
42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LI V E PARTY W OLF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 RECENT LIVE SHOWS FROM TRANS MUSICALES, PLUS THE RAPTURE, HENRY ROLLINS & MORE
THE INAPPROPRIATE WORLD OF IAN BEALE / CROSS WORDS / GET THE LOOK / TOOL OF THE MONTH
WELCOME FE B RUARY 2012
As coincidence would have it, this is an issue of the fanatical. It’s not unfamiliar territory, of course – over the years, we’ve met and interviewed more than our fair share of those compelled by music. Few started as young as Kwesi Sey, though. He began composing when he was 4 and spent the next ten years or so glued to Top of The Pops and the radio, watching, listening, taking notes. Musical notes. Soon he’d be experimenting with overdubbing while the other kids of Lewisham would be out on their bikes, and by his teens he was well on the way to becoming a producer and remixer, around the time he finally ventured out of the house. ‘Fanatical’ almost doesn’t do his appetite for recorded sound – especially of the electronic variety – justice. For Prinzhorn Dance School, they’ve shown their dedication in an equally stealth manner, taking 5 years to carefully, silently plot the return of their stark punk, following a tour with LCD Soundsystem that was a test of nerves, commitment and how much abuse one band can take; Edward Leeson cared enough to survive Larrikin Love and the doom-riddled The Pan I Am to now bring us the sun-blushed Sunless ’97; lo-fi legends Guided By Voices spent a lifetime shlepping the underground in the name of indie rock, only to split up just as they were being noticed; Trans Musicales festival in Renne, France, is the obsession of one man who books whoever he likes – however small – for the shear fun of it; Peaking Lights have recruited their 7-month old son as an editor of their songs rather than grounding their psych-dub project in favour of parenthood. It’s all fitting stuff for an issue of Loud And Quiet released the same month we celebrate our seventh birthday. Fanatical works.
CONTRI B UTOR
C OC HI E S S E PHOTOGRAPHER
At the tail end of last year, Italian-born Cochi Esse shot her ﬁrst cover feature for us, beside Greenwich Observatory in blinding, early-morning sunlight. The person she was pointing her camera at was Kwes, and, as it turns out, it was his ﬁrst cover shoot too, although not just for us – anywhere. “It was a challenge,” says Cohi, whose been shooting for two year, heavily for Vice and always prefering ﬁlm over digital. “Kwes was lovely, but he was also really shy. He didn’t really like looking into the camera so I came to the idea of taking some shots of him when he wasn’t really posing, playing with the shadows and the light.” Cochi also has a photo blog that’s worth check out. It’s at www.talesofthejazzage.tumblr.com.
COVER SHOOT: KWEN IN GREENWICH PARK 2 DECEMBER 2011
BEGINNING FE B RUARY 2012
Illustration by Gareth Arrowsmith - www.garetharrowsmith.blogspot.com
YE AR OF THE FUCK WIT
AMERICAN BOY / TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE BY LUKE WINKIE : OUR MAN IN BAR AK ’S BACK YARD
REEF YOUNIS HAS ONE LAST LOOK AT 2011: THE YEAR THE PAPERS MESSED WITH MUSIC
THE END IS NIGH: WHAT WILL WE DO IF 2012 IS THE YEAR THAT PIRACY FINALLY DIES?
Google informs me that 2011 was the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, an animal symbolising “creativity, compassion and sensitivity”. It felt like a different beast rose to prominence last year, though, one sadly lacking all of the above qualities. 2011 was actually the year of the fuckwit; a special breed that’s blind, deaf and dumb to anything but their own mindless, antagonistic rhetoric and an impressively narcissistic obsession with generating as much controversy as possible. Old news, you might say, particularly as the worst kind of gay-baiting and ethnic-bashing has always largely been restricted to the gutter press columns and the Daily Mail amoebas. Only marginally less hate-fuelled and venomous than a Jan Moir article, though, 2011 was the year the broadsheet music press decided something went horribly wrong. A total bust of a year where Wild Beasts, Metronomy, M83, Beirut, Ghostpoet, Bon Iver, PJ Harvey, Mogwai and countless others released albums of interminable quality covering the length, breadth and depth of the music spectrum. But then the Guardian also felt compelled to introduce us to the Music Power 100 – a miserable list of lawyers, executives and Team Adele as the main inﬂuencers greasing the industry wheels and give us the wild inside scoop that pop music in 2011 was “beige” and “boring”, which, by its own logic, would be Adele. Obviously. Elsewhere, the New York Times lamented the stale state of major-label rock bands, generously doing enough furious distressing over the continued existence of Nickelback for all of us, but it was the Independent’s Jonathan Owen that stormed to the title courtesy of the below: “Britain’s music critics have outdone themselves in ﬁnding some bands so obscure they wouldn’t even be famous in their own homes. One tUnE-yArDs has sold just a few thousand copies of its ‘Whokill’ album. And the back catalogues of acts such as Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Wild Beasts, Kurt Vile, James Blake and the Horrors are not exactly troubling the bestseller charts. It’s a slap in the face for such music juggernauts as Coldplay, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, who are conspicuous by their absence… in the Top 10 that really counts – sales – Adele’s ﬁrst two albums have sold more than any other record in Britain this year.” Firmly on the Adele bandwagon, not entirely sure who PJ Harvey is and failing to grasp the basic concept of objective end of year music polls, the some-time music writer’s formulaic approach to critical, subjective selections is a devastatingly easy one: sales = the best albums. Thank God it’s the New Year.
This is more about the boy than the American. Things generally swing universal when you’re talking about the Internet and I’m sure the average Loud And Quiet reader, wherever in the world, has typed an album name followed by “rar” into Google once or twice. We all have. It’s become an integral part of our musical lifestyles – I’m part of the ﬁrst generation that’s removed investment from listening, spending time instead of dollars, an entire history of German experimental heritage only a torrent away. It’s certainly nurtured our curiosity, and the fact that we, as a youth, can talk effectively and knowledgably about No Wave without a mentor is a testament to our dedication as well as our thievery. I have a feeling it’s partially why some 19year old kid from southern California could end up with a column in a magazine several thousand miles away. Still, you get the feeling that we’re going to get what’s coming to us. There’s something oddly sinister about being the ﬁrst ever people to take advantage of the world’s collective art so rapidly. It’s completely reshaped the industry in our favour – album prices have dropped dramatically, full-album streams are cutely commonplace, free-mp3s are handed out like temperamental candy. But when the hammer inevitably falls on piracy, kids like us will be ﬁrst against the wall. Very rarely do we engage in that sort of thought, though. From my experiences, the kids savvy enough (which is to say not that savvy) to ﬁgure out how to grab records off the Internet feel weirdly entitled. The jokes come so easy when we hear about the dangers and ethical issues of piracy, but we never spend enough time to process the unﬂattering truth. Of course there’s plenty of justiﬁcations – limited funds, the genuine forthrightness of discovery, the alleged idea that most LPs aren’t worth the investment, we’ve all heard it before and they all hold merit, but it’s a strange criticism coming from someone in the music journalist game. I mean, I get my records and tickets for free anyway – I am the 1 percent, and yet it’s an especially difﬁcult issue for me. Piracy and the Internet has absolutely devastated every opportunity of writing about music full time, constricting the role and position of the critic, and yet without it I’m not sure I’d have ever found an avenue like Loud And Quiet to share my musings. I’m most curious to see how my generation reacts when it stops being so easy. By most accounts we are living in a transitional phase that will eventually right itself, through legislation or label-interference, or maybe even a new medium. How the hell will we cope when the free music is gone?
2011 WAS THE YEAR THE BROADSHEETS DECIDED SOMETHING WENT HORRIBLY WRONG
BEGINNING SINGLES & EPS / BOOKS 01 BY JA NIN E & L EE B U L L M A N
(ANGULAR) OUT FEB 13
V IR A L S M A GIC H A P P E NS / C OME S T HE NIGH T
Z OO Z E R O GR E E N A P P L E S E P
(SEXBEAT) OUT JAN 23
With London garage band Lovvers, singer Shaun Hencher plays a cruel trick, recording his vocals so low in the mix they might as well have not been there. Whether he was cripplingly self-concious or just taking the piss it made for frustrating listening. Virals is Hencher’s new project, with lyrics you can clearly decipher. He might still be taking the piss, though. ‘Magic Happens’ is smooth milkshake music, played with a loose head and an Arm and Hammer grin, like Weezer in the ‘Buddy Holly’ video – an untouchable advert for wholesome young living where it’s hip to be square. Hencher is positively dreamy as he sighs to his innocent doo-wop, harmonising with himself with hearts in his eyes. It’s so wildly from a golden age of guitar pop it could easily be a pastiche. But so what if it is? Along with ‘Comes The Night’ (a hit down the hop with all the guys’n’gals), Hencher should have spoken up sooner.
(CREST CONT.) OUT JAN 23
The Manic Street Preachers were always best when at their most pychotic – the murderous yelp of James Dean Bradﬁeld across ‘The Holy Bible’; the mutilated lyrics; the violent stab of guitars through ‘Faster’. The same applies to London trio Zoo Zero on their debut EP, who appear to have a penchant for Pavement and stuttery Britpop (‘Oh Dear’) as well as pysch and drone rock, the closing title-track suggesting that ‘Green Apples’ comes from late 60s beat freaks Silver Apples. It’s ‘Mirror You’ that’s stands proudest though, eratic and full of sex and danger. The Manics comparison especially holds up where the vocals are concerned, singer Tom easily mistaken for Bradﬁeld as a young and angry man. Lyrically, it’s nowhere near as warped as the stuff Richie Edwards would come up with, but, then, Zoo Zero aren’t forcefully emulating the Manics; they just happen to share some of their early venom when at their best.
HE D Y ’ S F OL LY B Y R IC H A R D R HODE S (DOUBLE DAY & CO INC.)
1940s Austrian-American Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr, once touted as the most beautiful woman in the world, seems an unlikely candidate to invent a new wireless technology aimed at aiding the war effort, but Lamarr and her business partner’s invention of spread-spectrum radio has changed the world as we know it, still used in mobile phones and much other digital wizardry. An awe inspiring and fascinating tale of a woman who was hugely underestimated, this book brings together 1920s Parisian piano composers, a Hollywood actress and Nazi arms dealers into one fascinating narrative. In juxtaposing Hollywood glamour with the reality of a brutal war, Hedy’s Folly is an often startling book about unlikely amateur inventors collaborating to change the world.
T HE D OOR S : A L IF E T IME OF L IS T E NING T O F I V E ME A N Y E A R S B Y GR E IL M A R C U S (FABER & FABER)
In A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years ex-Rolling Stone Editor Greil Marcus’ approach to The Doors is almost unique in that he elbows the myths and the mystique out the way early on and concentrates solely on the music – some of the ﬁnest psychedelic blues ever set to tape.Not surprisingly, almost forty years after the band’s split, there are a plethora of books on The Doors out there. Most focus on the trippy tales of excess and degradation set against the never-ending backdrop of the LA night, though, while this book reminds and urges us to stick one of their albums on and remember what was so great and interesting about them in the ﬁrst place.
Single reviews by Sam Little / Stuart Stubbs Blowback by Lee Bullman and Michael Forwell published by Pan Macmillan available now. www.leebullman.com
F R E S H T OUC H T HE E T HIOP I A N E P
Owner and head of XL Recordings, producer to Gil ScottHeron, veteran raver and remixer as one half of Kicks Like A Mule, Richard Russell is a man without whom we would not have The xx, Adele, Vampire Weekend, M.I.A. and even the last couple of Radiohead albums. From his danceﬂoor beginnings to his label head present, he is one eclectic music nerd and his sponge-like need to absorb all manner of sounds is shared by studio engineer Rodaidh McDonald. Together, they’ve become Fresh Touch – the result of a musical and cultural exchange that found them ﬂying to Ethiopia and recording a bunch of local musicians in hotel rooms, airport lounges and on buses. The project’s ﬁrst EP isn’t anywhere near as lo-ﬁ as that sounds, though, but rather a collection of modern, experimental, rather slick electronic tracks that have been through a Western mangle of hi-ﬁ synths and pro tools. Occasionally the hubbub of Adis Ababa is lost amongst the polish all together (‘68 Joint’), but on the Nick Zinnerproduced ‘Harar Rhythm’ and the skip-rope, double-dutch of ‘Modern Approach’, both of which are heavy on looping samples, Fresh Touch masterfully celebrate Ethiopian music in their own chopped’n’skrewed, organic fashion.
BEGINNING LE FTO V E RS
G HOSTP OET
TH E B IG P I N K
LAST MONTH WE INTERVIEWED GHOSTPOET ABOUT HIS STELLAR YEAR HE LEFT THESE QUERIES BEHIND FOR THE BIG PINK
Why were all aspects of love the main theme on the ﬁrst album? “Well, we didn’t start out wanting to make a concept record, as it were, but once we’d compiled all of the songs together we realised what they were about and how they seemed to encompass all aspects of love. It wasn’t a very pleasant record, lyrically, and it had a lot of bitterness in it, and heartbreak, and shallowness, and it’s kind of a weird record to write ﬁrst time around. I think the reason why it came out like that was we’d both come out of our ﬁrst deep relationships with people at the same time, and we were burnt out by it, and, I guess, slightly obsessed.” How do you feel about the record now? “I think it’s good to bury some songs; for them to live in a certain moment in time. That was what was tough about the last record – going out for a year and a half playing those songs that were very much one part of your life, and you’ve moved on – be it socially, romantically or whatever – and then to go back every night and play these songs about a time you don’t care to revisit, it’s really weird. Now we’re concentrating on the new songs we’ve got. There’s a couple, like, ‘Velvet’, we can always come back to that one, because it’s bigger than the feeling we had at that time.” Does the acclaim you’ve received so far put pressure on what you do next? “Doing the ﬁrst album we were oblivious to the pressure of it. We were just riding a wave. It was exciting that people wanted to write about us and exciting that people wanted to play us on the radio. And then writing this record, we didn’t feel any pressure because we had a point to prove, we knew
what we wanted to do. We knew we wanted to make a record that was fun to play live – that was the backbone of ‘Future This’. The hardest thing about writing your second record is not knowing what you’re going to do, but the idea of this record has been born in the back of a tour bus, with us saying, ‘I wish it was more upbeat’, ‘I wish it was faster’, ‘I wish the BPM was up’. Once you know that you want to do something like up the pace, you know what you’re doing so you can just do it.” Did a multi-million sync deal from Domino’s pizza ever appear in the post? And what is your opinion on your music being synced? “We’re still waiting for Domino’s to call – I’ve deﬁnitely called them a lot more than they’ve called me in the last couple of years. I’d like to think that when I’ve put my feet up and
“WE’RE STILL WAITING FOR DOMINO’S PIZZA TO CALL”
retired, and I’m 50 years old or something, the phone will ring and it’ll be Robbie, who I wouldn’t have spoken to for 15 years, and he’ll say, ‘Domino’s have called and they want to give us 20 million pounds each’. But I’ve got no problem with syncing music – it’s all part of selling a record nowadays. A lot of bands say, ‘Oh, you’ll never put us on a sync’, but a lot of those bands have already sold a million records. But it’s just another way of getting your songs heard, because there’s only so many radio stations – it’s a different market. I mean, we did one for a computer game, and I’m like, ‘cool, I like computer games, that’s alright with me’, but there’s people
who look at it and say, ‘yeah, but there’s computer chips in those games that are made by underage street kids in India’, you know what I mean? There’s always a way of damning everything. If you’d buy the product, I think it’s ﬁne. I don’t think we’d do anything that’s got obvious evil connotation, like a right wing party or oil company, but pizza, computer games, Alka Seltzer – it’s all ﬁne with me.” What is your deﬁnition of success? “It’s a good question. I think success is whatever you want it to be. I think it comes from the heart rather than the wallet, probably. Personally, success to me isn’t selling a million records or having a fast car or anything; I think it’s more fundamental, like love. If you’ve got a wife and kids, that’s probably success.” If the name The Big Pink had been taken what would you have called yourselves? “We had a few ropey names ﬂying around. We wanted to be called ‘The colour something’, so our myspace page name is The Black Medallion. That name lasted about two days. We always though Big Black was the best name of all time. But that was taken so we went down to The Big Pink.” What was it like to record ‘A Brief History...’ at the legendary Electric Lady Studios and is there anything that you would have done differently? “It was amazing, and at a time when everything was going well and we had a bit of money, but looking back on it, we didn’t need a big studio in New York or anywhere – we just needed a room with a lot of instruments in it. So I wish we’d saved a bit of money, but I wouldn’t take away the experience we had in New York. That couple of months was really good fun and our friends came over and we had this apartment in Soho, and it was two months of magical thinking and living, and it was really good fun. Living the dream, I suppose. We’re in New York, we’re recording a record, we’re in a band that people what to hear about – we had a great time, and I wouldn’t take the memory for anything, and that is far stronger than the money we would have saved if we’d done it elsewhere.”
Photography by Dan Kendall Read an extended version of Ghostpoet and The Big Pink’s interview at www.loudandquiet.com/tag/leftovers
I’m a big, big fan of ‘A Brief History of Love’. What can people expect from your next record, ‘Future This’? Milo Cordell: “I think if ‘A Brief History of Love’ was a personal record set in the past, ‘Future This’ is us making a record that isn’t such a personal statement about one certain time, so we tried to broaden our horizons, lyrically. And the production style is a new way of working for us – we worked a lot with samples as opposed to drum machines and guitars.”
Perfume THE HIGHLY PERSONAL LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL HADREAS PHOTOGRAPHER – ELLIOT KENNEDY
In June 2010 an album came out that made the music press crumble at the knees. It was called ‘Learning’ and dealt with uncomfortable issues to do with sex, suicide and paedophilia, but what was most disturbing – besides the haunting soundtrack it was paired with – was that it was all true and played out in chronological order. The music is uncannily similar to Elliott Smith’s in that it’s raw and heartbreaking with whispery vocals on top of melancholic melodies. And like Smith, Michael Hadreas – the man behind it all who writes under the guise of Perfume Genius – suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction, but unlike the late performer, he came through it alive. Now he’s about to release the follow-up LP,‘Put Your Back N 2 It’, and we ﬁnd ourselves in the back of a taxi with him, darting across east London to a studio for his photo shoot.Wrapped in a big, black fur coat with hairy polka dot boots on, Hadreas leans forwards and in a hushed tone reveals a recurring sex dream he has about his brother before sitting back and laughing it off. It’s surprising just how bubbly and open this petite 28-yearold from Seattle is when you think about the lyrics he writes, such as “Mary, Mary-Belle…all your neighbours know what your mother sells” (‘Look Out, Look Out’) and “tell him mum treats you like a lover / that you have to hide all the mouthwash from her” (‘Write to Your Brother’). He’s really quite a playful guy and as our photographer Elliot ﬁddles with the lighting around him, Hadreas lets little smiles slip, as though the thought of someone wanting to photograph him is completely embarrassing. The minute the recorder goes on, though, he becomes serious and starts wringing his hands tensely, turning them over and entwining his ﬁngers in different positions. “I’ve classically avoided everything at all costs. If it was gonna make me even a little bit uncomfortable, I would leave,” he admits, which makes me wonder how he ever got into performing music. “When everything went to shit for me, I gave up on being cool and realised that it’s just not gonna happen for me. Before I ever did something I always used to think, ‘It has to be amazing’. So you get two minutes in, realise it’s not going to be the best thing ever made, and you stop. “When I almost gave up on that I thought, ‘I’m just gonna see it through even if it’s complete shit’. Actually, committing to something is a lot more freeing than you think. I always think that if I commit I’m going to get tied down or trapped, but usually the opposite happens and when I realised that with music, doors started opening up for me. Just doing it no matter how scared you are. Really simple things too. Like, I used to be nervous about making an appointment at the dentist – having that transaction on the phone – so I would have my friends call and pretend to be me. In fact, one of the jobs I got in New York, I had my boyfriend at the time pretend to be me on the phone with the employer four times and when I had to go in for my ﬁnal interview I chugged a bunch of beer.” He chuckles at the thought because he got the job, which was at a personal ads company. “People didn’t have scanners at home then and they would send their pictures in the mail and I would scan them and put them in their ad. This was years ago.This is probably awful, but I kept them all too.” Hadreas has a thing for forgotten photos. The cover of ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ is from an old yearbook he
found. “I have a habit of buying old photo albums. Maybe I shouldn’t…” he pauses, deciding whether he’s given away too much. “I get so paranoid. The guy’s probably 80 now,” he assures himself, “as if he’s going to be investigating, reading this magazine.” Released on February 20th, Hadreas’s second album comprises much of the same haunting imagery as the last, but it’s got a happier side too.‘Normal Song’ is about realising certain bad experiences aren’t your fault. “No violence, no matter how bad, can darken the heart,” he sings breathily over a simple, plucked guitar line, and ‘Take Me Home’ even has triumphant drums pushing along a proud piano riff, despite it being both about selling yourself for drugs and giving up everything for another person through fear of loneliness. “My circumstances have gotten a lot better in the last couple of years,” Hadreas begins, but he pauses as soon as the words have left his mouth and quickly turns his gaze towards the door. “But I didn’t really catch up all the way with that,” he says.“I was still kind of a mess. For the ﬁrst album I was just making it to make it, but I was thinking more about who was going to hear [the second one], who I was writing it for, and it wasn’t just me. I guess it’s still sad, but I feel like there’s a lot more hope
“When everything went to shit for me I gave up on being cool and realised that it’s just not gonna happen for me” to it, a lot more forward movement instead of thinking about things that’d already happened.” At this point Hadreas has got his life on track and intends to keep it that way. “I’m trying to stay healthy now,” he clariﬁes, “and other people are doing the same thing.You don’t normally feel like that. A lot of the time you feel like you’re the only one who has your speciﬁc brand of problems, but I’ve learned that’s not true. I wanted to write with that in mind and not write about a singular experience.” He mentions that after ‘Learning’ was released he got lots of fan letters telling him about similar incidents. “I get pretty intense ones sometimes, but that makes everything worthwhile,” he muses. “Whatever nervousness I have or fear about whatever I’m doing, it makes me get over it pretty quickly. Makes me feel like I’ve got purpose.” In terms of his fans’ devotion for him, people leave covers of songs on his Facebook page, draw pictures of him – “the thought of someone shading my upper lip is awesome” – and one guy even stalked him in the bushes. “We played a show in Hamburg,” he giggles.“After I got out I was having a cigarette,” he giggles some more, unable to tell the whole story without numerous pauses for laughter, “outside the club and I noticed there was
WRITER – D K GOLDSTEIN
this guy in the bushes taking pictures of me. Oh, he’s probably going to read this. He wasn’t creepy,” he backtracks.“I don’t think he was trying to be creepy, but I thought it was weird. I would have taken a picture hugging him or kissing him on the cheek or something really cool if he wanted me to, but I guess he just wanted to be in that bush.” Another person he counts among his big fans is his mum, whose basement Hadreas recorded ‘Learning’ in. “I went to art school and I’d always make these really bloody violent things and my mum would always ask me, ‘Why can’t you make something nice?’ so I did, I wrote her a nice song. I’m proud of it too.”The song he’s talking about is ‘Dark Parts’, which is about how strong his mother is and how important she is to him. “It was a really good moment when I played that song for her,” he chokes and looks at the ceiling for a moment.“Yeah,” he continues softly, “it was exactly what I wanted to have happen.What I had hoped she would feel from it.” As well as his mum, Hadreas has a song about his long-term boyfriend, Alan, who he met in AA and who also sings and performs live with him, which is the title track of the record. “We were playing music before we got together,” Hadreas explains. “So I played him that song and he didn’t know it was about him and I had him sing the harmony. Eventually I told him. It was cheesy and romantic,” he grins. When they ﬁnish the next mammoth tour, the pair of them plan to get a dog and name her Susan. “Or Melissa, or Jackie, some kind of really middle-aged woman-sounding name.” And what about when he’s back on tour? Because he’s already pointed out that he has a bigger fan base in Europe.“I’ve thought about this,” he anticipates. “I think I can leave her with my mum and maybe even have play dates set up beforehand so they can get to know each other.” Hadreas’s gentle and unassuming nature must have helped him garner so much interest from overseas. He even recorded the majority of the second album in Bristol and Worcestershire while working with producer Drew Morgan, but his label wanted some more upbeat numbers, so Hadreas had to record yet more tracks back home in Seattle. “The album was kinda slow,” he states. “I mean, I think [the label] knew it was going to be slow because it’s me, but I too wanted to break it up a bit because if you have slow, repetitive songs and put too many of those in a row, they lose impact. But it’s fun for me to try to write something poppy and louder but have it be about something weird. I don’t usually think, ‘Oh, this would be good with drums on it’, it’s always just me and the keyboard being really serious.” With regards to the future, however, Hadreas isn’t even thinking about what direction he’ll take, but he has been writing a little new material. “It’s still so close to the other album that it’s not that drastic of a change, but it’s a little more soft-rock. I’m on a really weird softrock/Bonnie Raitt kinda thing,” he blushes. “But other people seem to be doing that too. Isn’t it weird to have soft-rock and Bonnie Raitt trending in music? Maybe that’ll all go away, but it’s fun just to play in my house.” For now, Perfume Genius is headed out on tour across America and Canada until late April, but we’ve been assured that he will return to the UK some time in the spring, so keep your eyes and ears peeled, because this is one man you shouldn’t just believe the hype over, you need to witness the Genius for yourself.
s u n l e s s
’ 9 7
MAKING IT YET ANOTHER YEAR TO REMEMBER PHOTOGRAPHER – ELINOR JONES
ur ﬁrst year with Tony, the passing of Mother Teresa, Leo drowning on the Titanic as The Simpsons became the longest running animated series on primetime television. 1997, for better or worse, was a memorable year for all of us, but especially for Ed and Alice, it seems – the couple at the heart of Sunless ’97. “Loads of insigniﬁcant things happened,” admits Ed, “and highly signiﬁcant too. ’97 was a really strange year, but also we both went to the same music festivals and saw some of the same bands – we were probably standing right next to each other when we were ten years old. Thousands of personal things happened to us but we won’t go into that,” he smiles. Named after their favourite annum and their favourite Chris Marker ﬁlm (Sans Soleil), Sunless ’97 evolved through a relationship that started in Ed and Alice’s teens. “Are we an item? What, like the Justin Bieber lyric?” Alice teases. “No, we are. And there goes the mystery. We’ve been together for about ten years now and worked together on loads of stuff before, although this is my ﬁrst musically.” For Ed, he’s been here before, and this new project is seemingly a reaction to his former self, as front man in urchin pop band Larrikin Love and then as The Pan I Am. “I guess it’s a natural progression,” he ponders. “I didn’t have too much to do with Larrikin Love in terms of music and stuff – it was four big egos knocking against each other, so it was a different sound and then The Pan I Am was purely me but through a very dark phase, so
WRITER – IAN ROEBUCK
this one is Alice and I together and I feel like I’ve opened my mind a lot.” “Yeah, you had your ﬁrst band and then you’ve had your niche and now you’ve broadened your boundaries again,” says Alice. One haplessly nostalgic and exuberant, the other born from a propensity for wearing black and listening to Neubaten, Larrakin Love and The Pan I Am really were worlds apart, and now Ed’s dark alter ego of The Pan I Am has given way to an explosion of taste.“I think all that was a reaction to my teenage years and now I’ve been listening to so much music over the last three years from every corner of the planet,” he says. “The song we were working on the other day sounds like a fuzzed out conga rhythm with Ethiopian synth lines.” The band’s ‘Making Waves’ EP, released back in November, overﬂowed with potential. Combining killer hooks with dizzy melancholy and playful boy/girl vocals, Sunless ’97 borrowed the best bits from chillwave and merged them with a dash of pop. The result was a kaleidoscope of warm electronic tones and meant-to-be vocal harmonies. “We’re just getting used to communicating something across with decent sound,” says Alice. “It’s all about the atmosphere at the moment. It’s a vibe more than anything. We went to see Peaking Lights recently and although the sound was awful the show was great because of the atmosphere they create – it’s weird really. We have to channel that, we have to understand that it’s rawer than the sound and we are still honing what we do.” A complex and layered EP, Ed and Alice have gathered a bewildering amount of inﬂuences from Robert Wyatt to Broadcast to produce a hazy summer condensed onto 12 inches. Helping them do so was, funnily enough, this month’s Loud And Quiet cover star, Kwes, who’s studious in the studio and, in the eyes of Alice – a self-confessed musical novice – a God-send. “We’ve learned so much from working with him and it’s all taken on board,” she assures. “He doesn’t really say much, he just sits with his back to you. He just knows, doesn’t he,” she says to Ed,
“and he ﬁnishes all your sentences as well. His record could be the best in 2012.” “It was like having a master class as he’s such an instinctive, intuitive kind of guy,” continues Ed. “We were constantly taking notes and downloading cracked copies of all the plug ins he’s got. They only last for 30 days at a time as we can’t afford them!” Back in the studio, the couple sit alongside their bassist Matt – a crucial component when it comes to constructing their shimmering sound.“A lot of time we will drill a song into the ground at home until we can’t hear it any longer and then Matt comes in and says… ‘nah!’” explains Ed. “It’s really essential for us to bounce off another person as it’s just us at home until we take the song out into the world. We’ve already started recording our next release and we have so many ideas. We are looking to put it out around March, so you’ll just have to wait and see.” Matt’s input – and bass playing – certainly made a difference to ‘Illuminations’, the beautifully built lead track from ‘Making Waves’. It was probably its soaring chorus that caught Fearne Cotton’s ear-holes ﬁrst. “Yep, I take back everything I ever said about her,” says Alice wryly. “She really likes us so that’s cool,” elaborates Ed. “When she played it on the radio I just happened to be ﬂicking through stations,Alice’s sister called and suddenly there she was, Fearne waxing lyrical about us. It’s cool but I only really listen to Radio 4.” It’s doubtful they’ll get a spot on Celebrity Juice anytime soon, but Sunless ’97 are set to wind back the clock a decade and a half and make 2012 another year to remember.
H o o k w o r m s DRONE ROCK SO INTENSE IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE PHOTOGRAPHER – BART PETTMAN
Hookworms are the latest creatures to crawl out from the rock of the north, Leeds. Under the soil their roots spread deep and twist far and wide, making them a local super group of sorts, made up of members from Spectrals, Wonderswan and previous hard-core outﬁt Twisted via current pop punk band Idea Shower. However, for a band with such an impressive background between them, they surreptitiously opt to only use their initials (MB, EG, MJ, SS and JW), hiding behind their ferocious wall of droned-out, doomed kraut rock. The project initially had other ideas. “I was thinking along the lines of [Pennsylvania punk band] Pissed Jeans,” offers MJ, with MB adding, “I wanted to do something like the garage label In The Red, like reigning sound or something. Heavy garage.” With an early Beat Happening cover doing the rounds and them “playing one song in a cellar for a year”, it took a chance encounter with a wah-wah peddle at a house party to give Hookworms their new sound. “Yeah, I bought it off someone for a tenner at a house party,” laughs MJ. “We all thought it sounded really great and that completely changed the way we approached things.” The resulting intervention transformed the band instantly, and after a year of tinkering they had a foursong, twenty-six-minute, self-titled E.P to show for their efforts, a whirling, entrancing sonic assault that had all the power of ﬁreworks exploding underwater – a gloriously murky and hypnotic record. It’s quite possibly the ﬁnest self-release of 2011, in fact, and the comparisons have been plenty, from Spacemen 3 to Loop to Neu! to Silver Apples. “Most of them have been right,” nods MB, “except when people say early Verve!” They all nod in confused unison. “Yeah that’s not something we had in mind,” says SS. “We’ve had some sketchy ones, yeah, someone said after
WRITER – DANIEL DYLAN WRAY
a show we sounded like Happy Mondays.” “I mean, I fell asleep listening to Spacemen 3 every night for two or three months,” says MB, “so they were a big part of it.” MJ:“When I write a song I can clearly hear and say ‘I ripped this off here’,” admits MJ,“and to everyone else it sounds like a coherent manifestation. But I can hear everything we’re ripping off all the time!” he laughs. Inﬂuences aside, something in Hookworms’ music is lodging deep into the psyche of many a listener and their popularity is rising fast. “It’s bizarre,” says MB. “We got a really nice write up from Julian Cope and I showed my dad who is the biggest Teardrop Explodes fan and he lost it!” “Seeing people in the street wearing our t-shirts, knowing that they didn’t buy it directly from us is so weird too,” MJ enthuses.“They’ve actually gone out and bought it online! I’m not used to my bands being universally popular,” he quietly adds. The band then go on to trade stories in an attempt to determine the peak of their success so far, arriving at MJ’s note of, “when some people from The Bill and Emmerdale came to see us my Mum lost her shit, she was so happy.” The band have already received a fair amount of interest from record labels too, eager to release the ﬁrst Hookworms album. The truth is, they’re in a unique position regarding making records, and it’s a position they appreciate. “I own and run my own recording studio,” says MJ, “so the one thing that bands need money from a record label to do [record] we don’t need. We’re really lucky in that respect.” “We’ll probably hope to have something out by the autumn,” says MB, “but whatever form that takes, we have no idea yet.” Hookworms’ sense of humour and modesty is ﬁrmly intact, but their music is accelerating at breakneck speed.
I catch them wrapping up what will “probably be the last show we do of us doing these songs” just before Christmas, as they start demoing material for the upcoming album. The performance is astounding. As the tyre screeching guitars and grumbling bass lines of ‘Medicine Cabinet’ open the performance, the intensity and density of the sounds is bowel-loosening and for a very brief second I genuinely start to question what I’ll do if I shit myself. They manage to simultaneously play through and around the audience, producing a dizzying whirlwind of sound that dips and weaves its way through the venue, leaving one feeling utterly immersed in their creations. What makes them different from the typical bands generally tagged as ‘psych’ is the vocals – the intensity and delivery of a former hardcore frontman placed through a vocal distortion box creates a cloudy conveyance that sits gloriously in line with the hazy, murmuring music yet possesses the energy and concentration to still lead the songs. At the band’s most manic moments, such as during the sublime ‘Teen Dreams’, the vocals and amalgamating sonic assaults almost evoke James Murphy and LCD Soundsytem in full swing. And with the rather dour looking BBC Sound of 2012 poll and the grim realisation that someone like Spector could be the biggest band of 2012, there is an overwhelming sense of relief and reassurance knowing that Hookworms exist and will no doubt endeavour to be the loudest and quite possibly the best band of 2012.
“when some people from The Bill and Emmerdale came to see us my Mum lost her shit, she was so happy”
Pri n z h o r n D an c e School WE ASK THE EVER-UNCOMPROMISING SUZI HORN AND TOBIN PRINZ WHERE THE HELL HAVE THEY BEEN FOR THE LAST 4 YEARS PHOTOGRAPHER – GABRIEL GREEN
Mention Prinzhorn Dance School to most people and the general reaction is a moment’s thoughtful hesitation, followed by a squint of recognition and a slow nod:“Oh them! Are they still doing stuff?”The short answer is yes. Suzi Horn and Tobin Prinz released their eponymous debut LP in 2007 to as much praise as criticism, being both hailed as fascinatingly stark and avant garde, and mercilessly trashed, the pair being accused of not being musicians at all, among other abuse.“People telling us to go and die, stuff like that,” says Suzi. “Some of it was really personal – I didn’t go on the Internet for years because I didn’t want to see any of that horrible stuff.” Despite (or perhaps because of) divided opinions, Prinzhorn toured their album around the UK and Europe, and in 2008 they headlined a stage at Offset Festival. Not long after that, however, the pair essentially vanished, no gigs, no releases. For all anyone knew, they’d disbanded, but no. In reality, Prinzhorn Dance School never stopped “doing stuff ”, even if they did drop off the proverbial radar for the better part of four years. Now, as suddenly as they vanished, they’re back, and with a new record, ‘Clay Class’, which among other things, boasts hitherto unheard-of components, like choruses and melodies. So, obviously, the burning question here is what on earth have Prinz and Horn been up to in their lengthy absence. “I built a studio,” explains Tobin. “It’s an unusual space, perhaps not how everyone would expect a recording studio to look. And then we started making the new album, so, yeah… I guess there’s been a bit of a gap.” This is a pretty sizeable gap we’re talking about, surely? “Only if you’re on the outside,” he says, “to me there’s no gap.” Tobin says that currently, people expect an album every eighteen months to two years, but he doesn’t work that way,he takes things slowly,painstakingly so.“Perhaps it’ll be another ﬁve years before the next one.” “You’ve got to have a bit of time to think about
WRITER – POLLY RAPPAPORT
things you’ve done,” says Suzi, “to process and take it in, otherwise you’ll just end up making the record you made before.” She describes the process of record making, with each aspect taking months at a time to develop; six months to come up with a concept, another six months to reﬂect on that, then there’s themes, making lists of words, discussing those words, “a lot of toing and froing”, as Suzi puts it. “We’ve been writing this album since we ﬁnished the last one, it’s just since November, last year, that we started recording it,” All that, the pair describes now, was, in fact, the silver lining of the past four years, because though they were technically working, there was no money coming in. Putting the studio together and discussing, planning, developing, and reworking their new songs, as well as the album as a whole, was essentially a full time job for them both, and there was only so much cash in the bank left over from their ﬁrst record. Eventually, Prinzhorn Dance School’s money ran out, and at one point Suzi was reduced to stealing vegetables just so the two of them could eat. (This, perhaps, goes some way to explaining the speedy succession of releases from bands nowadays). And after all the work and scrounging for so long, surely the band has high hopes for the new album, or there must at least be a certain degree of anticipation between them about how it will be received. Tobin makes it quite clear that he’s not interested in what the public, fans, critics, or otherwise think of the band’s music – that is to say he makes the music he wants to, and all the negative feedback in the world, of which the previous LP received its fair share, won’t stop him or change the way he works, but Suzi has a different take on the impending release of ‘Clay Class’. “As much as I hope that people are looking forward to the new record, and are excited that we’ve made a new album, I hope that some of the people who hated the last one will like this one and be converted,” she says.
“At the same time, though, I think fuck ‘em.” Suzi’s theory is that a lot of the negativity and somewhat sparse press attention could be attributed to people’s fear of what Prinzhorn were doing, or, similarly, a lack of understanding. During some of their support slots, they would manage to literally drive people from the room with their set, usually after having a bit of abuse hurled at them ﬁrst.“The tour with LCD Soundsystem was…,” Tobin begins. “Tough,” Suzi ﬁnishes. The pair of them fall silent. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you, what were you saying?” she asks apologetically,” “Nothing. I was ﬁnished,”Tobin retorts blankly. “No, no,” Suzi insists, “you were saying something, then I interrupted by saying ‘tough’.” “Tough,” says Tobin. “That’s just one word, whereas you were saying a whole sentence,” says Suzi. “Tough,”Tobin repeats.“That’s probably the best way to describe it.” LCD had distributed little ﬂags amongst the audience, to be waved in support during their set; the crowd decided they would be better used to express their feelings for Prinzhorn Dance School, speciﬁcally as little pointy missiles to be aimed at the band members’ heads. “Tough” begins to sound like quite the understatement, but on the up side, at a later gig, a few fans approached the pair, not only apologising for the behaviour of their home town but complementing them on their set, saying they had gone along speciﬁcally to see Prinzhorn and hadn’t even stuck around for LCD Soundsystem. “There’s that balance,” says Suzi. “I like that we can excite people and really piss them off.” “We learned a lot doing those support shows,” says Tobin, “playing all those Academies. It was interesting because they’re big venues, aren’t they, and the way our sound works, it’s quite different to the small, more
intimate rooms we were used to – a different dynamic.” “If you think about how much space there is within our music, if you’re listening in a small venue, you can still feel the warmth of the note that’s just been played,” Suzi explains, “but if you’re in one of these massive venues you’re left with that emptiness and it can be quite intimidating to people.” The intimidation, Suzi says, occurs when the listener has space to think; if he likes, he can suspend in his imagination the note that’s dropped off, or add something else to ﬁll the silence. In a huge hall, surrounded by hundreds of other silent listeners, that could be quite an intense experience. Tobin’s take on it is more from the performance point of view. “It’s quite soul destroying, playing those big venues,” he says. “The sound is usually crap, and you look out and see all those little heads… and the big gap.” This they say in unison, clearly one of the few things they categorically agree on. They mean the security gap, which puts not only an unnecessary rift between the musicians and their audience, but a row of grumpy bouncers as well – not exactly ideal, considering how deeply personal they say that ﬁrst album was. “The new album, though,” says Suzi, “I’m not saying we’re a ‘stadium band’, because we’re not, but the new album has a bit more colour to it, and while there’s still that vast, glorious space, it’s... it’s not ﬁlled, but it’s... warmer. Does that make any sense? I’ve never said that before.” Both confess that they ﬁnd it difﬁcult to describe their music, but Suzi tries again. “All the shapes, when they ﬁt together, and they leave those nice spaces within themselves, everything kind of rubbing up nicely against each other,” she says, “it feels more comfortable than the ﬁrst record.” “It doesn’t to me,”Tobin interjects. “It does to me,” says Suzi. “That’s the last thing I would describe it as, but...” he trails off. “How would you describe it?” Suzi encourages.After a beat,Tobin replies with, “I wouldn’t.” “How does it make you feel?” Suzi tries again, but he simply shrugs, and after a moment they seem to come to a sort of silent, uncomfortable truce. It’s quite disconcerting to see Suzi lost for words – it also feels contagious... What were we talking about
“I hope that some of the people who hated the last album will like this one. At the same time, though, I think fuck ‘em” again? The new album! Suzi picks up the thread, by way of explanation. “What it is, is I look at music as colours and shapes where as you,” she turns to Tobin, “you tend to look at it in a very different way. Everyone’s got their own language.” She describes the speciﬁc experience of putting on headphones, “sitting inside the music”, and wanting to make this new record more inclusive of the listener. “On the ﬁrst album, you can leap in if you want to, but you don’t have to, but this record, I want it to pull you in, if that makes any more sense?” Unsurprisingly, Prinz and Horn came into music – and into the band – from completely different angles. Tobin says he’s always played music. “I can’t read music,” he says, “but I had a guitar when I was seventeen or eighteen and I always played that until recently when I started to play the drums, and I think it was at that point that everything changed, and instead of trying to hang songs on this incessant rhythmic guitar thing, it became a relationship with the bass and drums.” Suzi, on the other hand, had never been involved with music, apart from working behind the bar at gigs. It was when she met Tobin that she started to learn to play the bass. “I always really liked the bass,” she says. “It’s the part you dance to, and he just handed me a bass, sat down at the drums and told me to have a go.” Thus, the stark, postmodernist style of Prinzhorn Dance School was born. The duo named their band after Dr Hans Prinzhorn,
a psychiatrist who collected artwork made by his mental patients (fun fact: one of said artworks was called the Vivian Girls) and something about their peculiar choice of namesake seems to tie neatly in with the pair’s unusual relationship. “We’re very similar but also very, very different and we ﬁght a lot,” explains Suzi, “so it takes a long time to do anything, not just because of the ﬁghting, but it doesn’t help. I mean, we’ll bicker over the sound of a snare drum for three days just because we’re both so stubborn.” “Collaboration,” offers Tobin. Indeed, a kind of collaboration that makes the writing of an LP take roughly four years. One wonders if the pair’s bickering is just taking up a chunk of that time, or whether it’s an integral part of their creative process. “Why do you raise that?”Tobin asks. The bickering? Well, for a start, Suzi mentioned it ﬁrst, and also they’ve been doing it on and off ever since we sat down. “I just wouldn’t use that word for it,” he says. “I said ‘bickering’,” Suzi conﬁrms.“But it’s important to work with someone who can see the other side of you, who shows you it exists, but you can still be friends at the end of the day.” She looks at Tobin. “It’s a very honest relationship, and also very loving.” That’s not to say that Prinz and Horn are about to agree on everything, though, or approach anything from remotely the same angle, even their own music.“We work hard to have one voice that comes from two people,” says Suzi, “but I wouldn’t do this with anybody else.” “Conﬂict in a collaboration can be overplayed,” says Tobin. “It’s an easy angle, isn’t it,” (unlike, say, subtly implying that journalists are lazy), “but if you’re both passionate about something you’re going to lock horns, aren’t you?” Of course, and what’s different about him and Suzi “conﬂicting” and, say, watching a couple of band mates have a diva competition – sometimes known as ‘creative differences’ – is that it’s the creative aspect that these two have in common, and talking to them is like talking to mismatched halves of the same person, the yin and yang that is Prinzhorn Dance School. With that in mind, imagine splitting yourself in two and trying to write a record together – and doing it in under four years. Exactly.
PEAKING LIGHTS PSYCH DUB ADVENTURERS AARON COYES AND INDRA DUNIS SPEAK
OF THEIR IMPROVISED SYNTH JAMS AND HOW THEIR 7-MONTH-OLD SON HAS SIMPLY BECOME PART OF THEIR TOURING PARTY PHOTOGRAPHER – LEON DIAPER
WRITER – D K GOLDSTEIN
’s unusual for us to walk into an interview and be met with a seven-month old baby, but Wisconsin duo Peaking Lights aren’t your average kind of band. Comprised of husband-wife duo Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis, they’ve progressed from goth and post-punk bands, respectively, to psych improv in their 10 or so years together – growing and experimenting with unconventional song structures and vast soundscapes as a band – and the small factor of a baby isn’t going to offroad their musical ambition. “You’ve just got to do things a little differently, it’s not impossible to take your child with you on the road,” Indra says of Mikko Lorenzo Dunis Coyes, who is currently grinning in awe at the situation, bobbing up and down on his dad’s knee and clutching onto a biscuit that’s bigger than his hand. “When we play a gig,” she continues, “I do a lot of running back and forth and I’m really only at the venue for the set. So Aaron has to do all the setting up and breaking down and selling merch and talking to people.” It sounds isolating, but Indra assures me she only misses the usual drinking with the guys and watching other bands sometimes. “But being with [Mikko] is so much more important to me that I don’t really mind it in the long run. It’d be nice to hang out, but the trade off is so worth it. And he’s just a baby. He’s going to grow up and then I can do that again later. I don’t feel like I’m missing much. I’m just happy that we’ve made this work. This is the ﬁrst tour we’ve done since he was born. But he’s doing really well.” When Indra and Aaron are on the road they have a nanny with them – here it’s Claire, who is smiling politely from the other side of the room – but most of the time baby Mikko is with them. And it’s not just touring that the little one has effected. They’ve noticed a shift in their songwriting too.“For sure,” Indra declares, “probably in more ways than we realise.Your whole life changes when you have a child. For one thing he’s new subject matter, but he also listens to what we’re creating. So if he likes it, it’s a go and if he starts crying in one of our practices then we might take that as a sign that we’re going in the wrong direction.” “I think it’s gotten tighter,” adds Aaron. “More smooth or something. More groovy,” he smiles over Mikko’s head. “[Mikko] likes beats and bass tones,” says Indra, “so we’ve got more of that. I mean, we already did, but I think on the next record there is going to be even more of it.” It seems surprising that they’re already well into their second album because we only got ‘936’, their ﬁrst, in November 2011, even if it’s been doing the rounds since February over in the States. It’s an upbeat collection of songs with a sense of leisurely fun, especially on tracks such as ‘Amazing and Wonderful’, which undulates in pitch and is one of the few songs to contain Indra’s hypnotic vocals, and ‘Synthy’, the ﬂuttering synthetics of which were wholly improvised – a technique that the two often favour. “We’ll record the rhythm section,” Aaron explains, “but it always changes a little bit. We have a lot of visual cues too.” “We have practiced our songs how we play them on the record,” Indra cuts in to assure us,“so that we can do them that way, but most of the time it’s kind of hard to remember and it’s more fun to feel it out.” She laughs and jokes about digging themselves into a hole, but it’s intriguing to meet a band whose live set is ever evolving; whose no two shows are the same. Because they play everything between the two of them, they have to pre-
record the rhythms and bass lines, all of which is done analogue, “on quarter-inch tape,” Aaron clariﬁes. A lot of their tracks sound like layers of computerised sounds that they could just create on stage, but you can see why pre-recording is necessary when you listen to songs like ‘Hey Sparrow’, one of the most conventional tracks on ‘936’, which may carry a simple guitar line and a plodalong melody as Indra sings about a bird, but it’s all on top of numerous layers of noises you can’t quite pinpoint. And they all work together to invent the image of a sparrow trotting around the ground – you can’t avoid the good mood it puts you in. Of course, they could use laptops, but DIY and backto-basics ethics is part of their charm. Aaron even builds his own synths, which he informs us he had no idea about when he ﬁrst started. “I still don’t,” he laughs. “The ﬁrst one that I ever built was when I was probably 22. Just trial and error circuit bending a little keyboard or something. But it’s all a visual thing for me now. I kinda know what it is, so I can direct it a little bit more.” Before Peaking Lights were making this brand of psyched out, dub-heavy synthtronica, before they’d even met, when they were teenagers, they were playing good old punk and over the years their inﬂuences have expanded to include the likes of reggae, dancehall, dub and traditional African rhythms like Sukos. “Latin,
“if our baby likes it, it’s a go and if he starts crying in one of our practices then we might take that as a Sign” afrobeat, a lot of boogaloo stuff, Ethiopian psych,”Aaron runs off, “Ethiopian jazz, American jazz, krautrock, house music…” Now they’re not afraid of anything, but when they started playing together, they still had a learning curve to broach. “I was afraid of improvising live,” Indra admits. “And Aaron was afraid of writing something structured.” Now they’ve worked out a happy medium. “The songs that we wrote for ‘936’ are written,” she says in an attempt to enlighten us about how Peaking Lights approach penning a song, “but there’s a lot of room for improvising. It’s pretty much jamming. We branch off and come back, but we try to keep an overall structure. I think we started to form a method of writing during that record and a style. It became more solidiﬁed and we started to lay down beats and bass lines ﬁrst, which was a new thing for us, and then we’d write on top of that. So that’s a method that’s stuck. But otherwise, a lot of it is improvising. “In fact, on this tour we didn’t prepare an encore – just our set – and the ﬁrst night we actually got an encore.That was in Amsterdam. Aaron remembered that we had some ideas of a song on one side of a cassette tape we’d brought with us, so we put that on and jammed
to it.” She smiles triumphantly. “We kind of came up with a new song that night. We started using it again every time we had an encore. We even recorded it for our BBC session. So we can [improvise] if we need to. It makes playing more exciting and keeps it fresh.” So this is how they’ve grown together as a band, but if they hadn’t of met, Aaron doesn’t think they’d have separately gone down this musical route. “I think we’d be doing something with similar feeling,” Indra counters,“but maybe not like this exactly. We were already leaning towards doing this kind of stuff. I had moved from playing drums in a previous band to keyboards and singing and writing songs, so I think that I would probably still be doing that.” “Or starting your Doors solo band?” Aaron grins. “Yeah, start my Doors cover band. That’s what I was working on in a sort of round-about way,” Indra blushes as Aaron starts crooning ‘LA Woman’. Shortly after the UK release of the duo’s debut album came the ‘936’ remixes EP on December 19th, featuring the likes of modern boogie funketeer Dam-Funk, Oakland rappers/producers Main Attrakionz and our very own Adrian Sherwood, a producer who has remixed everyone from Sinead O’Connor to Primal Scream and Depeche Mode. “We just put our heads together, came up with some names and the people that were available did it,” Indra puts plainly. “But our list was insanely long,” she smiles. “Adrian Sherwood was really high up, he was like top ﬁve,” enthuses Aaron and Indra laughs about the other stars on their list. “I mean, there were people like Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, people that the chances with were very slim. But we got Adrian Sherwood, so that’s cool, we’re happy with that.” They’ll deﬁnitely be doing another remix album as Aaron was “super into it”. “I didn’t think I would be as much as I am,” he says, “but it was cool to hear how different people approached the remix. I like that there are a lot of remix albums going around at the moment because it connects artists with their contemporaries, even if it’s not the same style of music. It’s something that happened a lot in the ’60s, when bands would cover each other’s songs. It really makes you approach things in a different way. Like, the Dam Funk one, he did ‘All the Sun That Shines’ and all the people who did an ‘All the Sun That Shines’ remix totally disintegrated it. Completely tore apart the song and changed it,” he gushes enthusiastically, even though he’s talking about the death of one of their tracks. “It’s cool to see different people’s interpretation because it’s nothing how I would have imagined.” But in terms of the follow-up LP, Aaron informs us it is like the night time version of ‘936’.“Everyone that we played the record to has said that, which is cool,” he reﬂects nonchalantly. Seeing the two together in such a laidback manner – Aaron with tattoos escaping from his shirt down his hands and up his neck to meet a bush of receding grey hair and Indra with long brown locks and the style of a mum doing the school run, not to mention Mikko in his skeleton jumper – you’d be hard pushed to conclude that what you’re looking at is a band. But where their aesthetic differences stand out a mile in the real world, they blend beautifully in music. So when you’re listening to a Peaking Lights record, you’re not just hearing a cacophony of sounds, you’re hearing an entire fantasy opening up before you, and it’s an expansive, far-out, free-formed place to explore.
FINALLY WE GET A CHANCE TO SIT DOWN WITH SEATTLE ALT. RAP DUO SHABAZZ Last year’s Shabazz Palaces record was remarkable for many reasons. It turned heads not only for its provocative title and unorthodox sonic template of African percussion, spooky jazz, murky industrial beats and distorted vocals, but also for its appearance on Sub Pop – that Seattle grunge label usually home to bands like Beach House and No Age. As the ﬁrst hip hop release from the imprint,‘Black Up’ stood apart from the rest of 2011’s so-called ‘avant rap’ bubble of blog-friendly notoriety-seekers like Lil B and the Odd Future kids. The album was the product of the mysterious Palaceer Lazaro, soon identiﬁed as Seattle’s own Ishmael ‘Butterﬂy’ Butler of early ‘90s hip hop trio Digable Planets, along with percussionist Tendai Maraire and guest vocals from newly-signed labelmates THEESatisfaction. The DIY weirdoism on show on Lil B’s ‘I’m Gay’ or Tyler the Creator’s ‘Goblin’ couldn’t be further from ‘Black Up’s’ complex rhythms, opaque lyrics, freeform structures and cryptically spiritual aesthetic. Meeting Butler and Maraire on a miserable day in Shepherds Bush near the blank face of Westﬁeld shopping mall, London seems embarrassingly unglamorous compared to these rareﬁed mystery guests. Then again, Butler is from a city with 944mm of rain a year, so the gloom seems to suit him. Outdoor photos over, they offer their thoughts on being placed in the underground hip hop bracket alongside someone like Tyler, who was only just out of nappies when Butler won his ﬁrst Grammy award. “I think at the core, the comparison is exact,” says Butler. “I think that we all have a similar approach to music, culture and life. But that being said, you could probably say that about most of the people making
music around the world. I think a direct comparison is somewhat lazy, y’know, just because the acts are a little different [to mainstream hip hop]. Because in that difference is a chasm that’s huge from one artist to the next. I like Lil B a lot – Lil B doesn’t write any lyrics, he just puts the beat on and starts rapping, leaves all the mistakes in – to me that’s a brave and courageous and kinda visionary way of doing it – it’s kinda old school to the core, and I respect that. But to compare that with the guys in Odd Future… but cats are coming from the same heart feeling, I think.” Take the lyrics, for example. Where Lil B is silly and provocative, and Odd Future just plain offensive, Shabazz Palaces are clearly reaching for something more oblique. Even where clearly decipherable, the vocals often remain just out of reach: “There’s about to be big movements from below, the golden age lies ahead/The lies are getting truer and the truth is getting brighter, things are looking blacker, but black is looking whiter.” “Well, the lyrics, they happen to me, I don’t necessarily make ‘em up,” explains Butler. “I feel ‘em, they come through and then I do as little modiﬁcation to it as possible.” So it’s a question of waiting for inspiration to hit? “It makes the process slower but it’s kinda what I do. Tendai’s better at just having a subject and getting a middle and an end to it. We exist in a separate musical thing, but are encompassed in the same thing. He’s doing something and I’m doing something – it’s a pretty different and rich relationship of collaboration.” The other notable appearance on the record is from THEESatisfaction – a Seattle duo equal measures Salt’n’Pepa and Erykah Badu (for once a lazy comparison
that’s near the money – these girls are sexy but weird, gutsy but soulful) who contribute singing and rapping and also appear as occasional live guests. The spirit of collaboration runs through ‘Black Up’, even though it’s not credited as an ensemble piece. “It’s like coming from the same father,” explains Tendai.“Everybody knows what the rules are, you grow up together, and when everybody leaves they go their way but when it’s time to do their thing they know the rules.” (Tendai himself comes from a family of musicians and is preparing to release his own hip hop record as well as an album of mbira music – or thumb piano – the percussion instrument he wields to mesmerising effect on tracks like ‘Free Press and Curl’). The Shabazz Palaces live performance also diverges from your standard hip hop show, with Butler and Maraire playing instruments and triggering samples while sharing tightly rehearsed vocals and even choreographed dance moves. “We were raised with the understanding that if you were lucky enough to have the gift of music then you saw that as being a gift, you didn’t necessarily claim it as your own,” says Butler. “So when you use it in performance you treat it like a gift – give a lot, be dedicated, spend your time on stage involved.Without really talking about it, it kinda evolved to where it is now, and even now we’re looking at it like, we don’t do enough! We try to add new shit almost every show, but also leave a lot of room for things to happen naturally that are different every night. So it’s like a reverence for being able to perform,” says Butler. That reverential element to the group’s aesthetic comes through in both the lyrics and the visual elements, with religious signals and symbols used ambiguously –
palaces PHOTOGRAPHER – OWEN RICHARDS
WRITER – CHAL RAVENS
PALACES – A BAND THAT CREATED 2011’S PROGRESSIVE HIP HOP ALBUM for example, in the Arabic lettering in the album artwork or in song titles like ‘An Echo From the Hosts that Profess Inﬁnitum’. “Yeah, we both feel a connection between music and spirituality,” says Butler. “‘cos I’m not really a religious or a church-going person, although I have beliefs and stuff like that, but one thing that I do go to every day is music.” Both were brought up in musical environments, and with a master mbira player for a father there was no doubt that Maraire would start performing just as soon as he could hold an instrument: “My whole family is into music,” he says.“My father and my mother, brothers, sisters. I wasn’t forced but it was like, there’s nothing I could do! At 18 months, my parents said I just hopped up and started playing, and the rest is history.” “For my mom it was Motown,” says Butler. “My dad was more like avant garde jazz.” That jazzy sense of untethered exploration, a looseness in form, certainly comes through in ‘Black Up’s’ disregard for convention and easy hooks, but the range of inﬂuences on Shabazz Palaces is inﬁnitely broad, according to Butler.“Looking back on it, I just liked any kind of music that was good, whether it was on a commercial or a sitcom, a theme song or anything like that. I was just keen on rhythm and melodies, from the start. But I really like Prince and Parliament/Funkadelic, that was stuff I used to listen to over and over and over and over.” After a couple of self-released EPs, Shabazz Palaces started to capitalise on the Internet chatter they had generated, but remained reluctant to give interviews or put a face to the music.While the hype mill works faster than ever, publicity-shy musicians can also use the web to stay out of view and keep their distance from the PR
machines. But was the aim to remain anonymous and go for slow-burn success, or are they still gunning for sales and acclaim? “There’s no aim. We don’t approach it and say, ‘We want the outcome to be this’,” says Maraire, matter-offactly. Some of their mid-‘90s peers continue to enjoy success yet remain relatively underground, I suggest – take Ghostface Killah and MF Doom’s recent show at the Roundhouse, for instance. “Slow is cool because there’s not many dudes from Ghost’s and Doom’s era that’s just gonna come out and have a massive show,” says Butler.“They just let their music represent them. If they went and got an interview or had a TV show for example, it would happen because somebody liked their music, not because a solicitor got it for them or their publicist. So I respect that and I see that as adding some longevity to what you’re doing, if you allow whatever it is you do to get you wherever it is you’re gonna go, instead of manipulating things.” Still, it must have been gratifying to see ‘Black Up’ regularly appearing in critics’ end of year polls last month [it was number 7 in ours]? “If you make something for commerce, any kind of success is pretty amazing,” says Butler.“It’s unexpected, but there’s a duality to it. I mean, we know that we have skills, but sometimes your idea may not resonate, so you just don’t know.” “The philosophy is like, because you gotta rely on your instinct, you might do something and not necessarily think that much of it, but you gotta keep things there.” So how does the rise of Shabazz Palaces relate to the success of Digable Planets way back when?
“If you ever start feeling like you’re entitled to success then you start being one of those asshole superstar people, unable to accept when things don’t go your way, y’know?” says Butler. Did that happen to him? “No.” But presumably it happened to people he knew? “Yeah,” he laughs. Given the huge chasm between the sonic palettes of Digable and Shabazz, I’ve got to ask, what kind of future hip hop can we expect the group to be working on next? “I don’t even know yet,” says Butler. “You can hear things going on in your mind, when you write a piece or something – there’s whisperings of the idea, but you can’t necessarily grab onto it or catch a line off of it yet. But I feel it, y’know. And little things, silently, ideas and stuff...but it hasn’t quite been pasted together in our mind yet.” When talking about what he’s listening to right now, Butler speaks of a website that specialises in new music. He sticks it on his iPod and listens to it on heavy rotation, but never cares much for who it’s by. Despite forging such a unique identity for Shabazz Palaces, the notion of authorship isn’t all that important to him. It’s a strange admission from someone who’s worked so hard to create such a cohesive and distinctive album, and yet appropriate to the way he seems to place the music ahead of the personalities behind it. They both give props to THEESatisfactio and Maraire recommends Zimbabwean singer Hope Masike, but short of that Shabazz Palaces are as fully immersed in their music as you’d expect the creators of the wildly brilliant ‘Black Up’ to be.
flamingods THE BAND OF DRUMMERS THAT FORMED AT ATP
BY PLAYING AN 8-HOUR SHOW IN THEIR CHALET PHOTOGRAPHER – PHIL SHARP
WRITER – STUART STUBBS
In the Brixton home of Kamal Rasool the other members of Flamingods ﬁle into a room festooned with fantastic hats and headdresses, patterned fabrics, an embroidered portrait of Tutankhamun and other fascinating objets d’art from around the globe. Records are everywhere too, but everything is outnumbered by musical instruments, particularly of the percussive kind. Flamingods like hitting things, and thanks to Kamal’s excessive travels with his family they carry with them an impressive collection of drums from Tanzania, the Middle East and the Amazon Basin. Today is Kamal’s 21st birthday; his favourite present is a pair of miniature cymbals on a string that he proudly drapes on his shoulders having shown them to the band. Karthik is a friend from London, but Kamal, Sam, Craig and Charles grew up together in Bahrain, a small island in the Persian Gulf apparently best described as “hot, cheap and lazy”; a place where “everyone just listens to Akon on repeat”. There, the four friends formed what they call “a standard indie band”, largely due to being exposed to little else. “I tried to push you guys, for a long time, to make the band a lot weirder,” insists Kamal. “No one really got it at the time,” he laughs. Sam admits that other than Kamal no one else on the entire island was listening to the likes of Animal Collective and Deerhunter, just rap and metal. Flamingods began as Kamal’s project when he and his friends moved to England to start University two years ago. It couldn’t be further from ‘standard indie band’ territory, adamantly discarding the verse-chorus-verse norm, entrenched in cyclical rhythms and fascinated with the idea of vocals-as-another-instrument, rather than a focal point, inspired by Animal Collective’s 2004 album ‘Sung Tongs’. “The whole idea of it, in the beginning, was that I was trying to transcend my cultural experiences into music,” explains Kamal, “obviously taking inﬂuences from other bands that I’m into as well, and African music, and music from all around the world. The instruments [acoustic and traditional] play a big part as well, but, yeah, just taking all the places I’ve been to around the world and trying to put those ideas into songs. I’m not sure if that works completely, or if people can tell that that’s what we’re trying to do, but that is the main focal point of it. Obviously, we do have psychedelic inﬂuences as well.” “Also, we don’t uniform songs,” notes Sam. “We like the idea of repetitive, ongoing music, for ages, without any verse, lyrics or chorus – it can just be music forever. Like, I’m studying a popular music course believe it or not, and it’s fun, but it’s also terrible, because I’ll say,‘Hey, come on, uni band, let’s play for a minute without any vocals,’ and they’ll frown on that and say it’s boring. And I’m like, ‘no it’s not, we’ve got some awesome music going on here!’.We like the randomness of it.” “I think the point in my life when I got into that stuff was when I was in the Amazon and we met a tribe there who were playing music,” says Kamal, “but I realised they weren’t looking at notes or reading any music, they
were just going with it, making music, making stuff up and getting into a euphoric state. They didn’t have any experience, musically, and neither do I. I just play what I play and hope it sounds good, but I’m lucky to have these guys, because I’ll just come up with the ideas of the songs and can take it to these guys who can put it into a structure and make sense of it.” Kamal recruited his old friends when his homerecorded tracks began getting him gig offers.The group had dispersed around the country, with Sam and Craig studying in Southampton and Brighton, but they were happy to help. “I’m basically like their Mum, calling them up all the time,” laughs Kamal. “They call me Queen Latifah…” “Cos he’s quite a diva,” say the whole band as one. Kamal: “I’m not a diva really.” “Yes you are,” says Sam. “But no, it’s pretty tricky, because we’ve got different things going on and it’s quite pricey travelling back and forth.” “We used to meet up a week before a gig to practice,” says Craig, “then we’d meet up an hour before. Now we don’t practice at all.” “We do want to practice,” insists Sam. Kamal: “But while we keep saying we’re going to take a break to work on new things we keep getting offered really great gigs.” It’s live where Flamingods are truly realised – “a happy, dancey band,” as Sam puts it. Together with Charles, Kamal has recorded two albums and one EP so far, and while new cassette release ‘Away’ is especially a worthy introduction to the band’s ritualistic world music, he understands that people are more easily connected to Flamingods when stood in front of them. It’s partly down to the lo-ﬁ nature of the hissing tapes, “and people just get it more when they see all the instruments”. But, ultimately, it’s the band’s own enthusiasm that’s so catching. The ﬁve of them play sat on the ﬂoor, passing drums left and right and welcoming anyone to enjoy it as much as they clearly are. It’s an all-inclusive party where the band are having a better time than anyone else, and it takes just one audience member to set the others off dancing. Kamal puts the communal feel down to the fact that, “we are all best friends anyway – we’d be hanging out whether we were in a band or not,” while Sam admits,“there are a couple of songs where I’d really like to be in the audience”. “We have a system and certain faces we’ll pull at each other,” says Kamal when asked how, without standard verse, chorus and vocal passages, they remember their songs live; when to drum and when to feed another yelp through a delay peddle. “But playing it the same every time is not the point,” he says. “We want it to sound spontaneous. Ritual music is probably my biggest inﬂuence, and I’m just trying to put that into songs so we can put our own spin on it.” “There are occasions where I wouldn’t have been able to make it to practice, so we’ll just start a song on stage and hope it goes well,” says Craig. “There’s always an element of risk.”
“The thing is, we do just do it for the music,” reasons Sam.“We’re not doing it for any other reason, because at the moment we’re not making money – we’re progressively getting poorer.We just love it.” Although more and more ﬂeetingly as studies and train fares get in the way, whenever the band do practice together they record the session. They’ve got a video of what could be considered their ﬁrst rehearsal too, which neatly captures the band’s communal spirit. It was shot at ATP festival, where Flamingods went from being Kamal’s solo project to a group concern. “I don’t know if you remember this, but the ﬁrst time we began playing together as a band was at ATP festival,” says Kamal to the others. “It was the ﬁrst ATP we all went to, and the ﬁrst festival Charles ever went to,” he continues, “and we just saw all of these amazing bands, and it was when we saw [experimental Japanese band] Boredoms, who had, like, 11 drummers, that must have been the moment we decided to do something.” “I almost cried when I saw them,” remembers Sam. “Like, I’m a drummer, and there were 11 of the greatest
“we don’t uniform songs. We like the idea of repetitive, ongoing music, for ages, without any verse, lyrics or chorus – it can just be music forever”
drummers ever beasting it in front of my face. I just couldn’t handle it, and yeah, that’s where I started to love the idea of drums coming together.” “We did actually start the band at ATP in 2010,” Kamal reiterates. “We brought some instruments down to just jam with in our room, and then people walking past would be like, ‘oh, we want to play too,’ and it was just incredible because people were climbing in through our window, and I gave them pots and pans to play. “We went to the following Animal Collective ATP and we brought down even more instruments and it was just insane. We had 60 people crammed into our chalet and people dancing outside.” “It was like a constantly changing band,” says Sam. “People would leave but others would then come in.” Kamal: “It got a bit out of control and turned a bit dark. All the lights went off.” Sam:“We couldn’t stop it and it turned into a monster of its own. Like, Kamal left, and then I left, and then all of us were hiding in the other room. It went on for eight hours.”
Having taken the band’s theory of “ongoing music forever” to its disruptive extreme, Flamingods were wrapped on the knuckles by festival security and daren’t take their instruments to ATP again. It’s their ultimate goal to play the event ofﬁcially though, and to continue to share their tribal jams with as many willing ears as possible. “We take our music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously at all,” laughs Kamal. “If someone emails asking for some songs we’ll try to share as much as we can and send them a load of B-sides or something. We could be a dark, tribal band, but what’s the point? “I think the next stage for us is going into the studio to see what we can do there,” he continues, “because I think a lot of people really like our live stuff but they don’t get our recorded stuff as much. We understand though. We don’t get offended if people say they’re not into our music. I mean, everyone’s into their own tastes. But we basically need one person to start dancing and then the whole room will. That’s our aim, to get one person dancing.”
AFTER A COUPLE OF
FALSE STARTS, LONDON PRODUCER, RE-MIXER AND ELECTRONICS
ENTHUSIAST KWES IS
READY TO LAUNCH HIS SOLO CAREER PROPER
free p op PHOTOGRAPHER – COCHI ESSE WRITER – STUART STUBBS
Through the chocolate box windows of Blackheath tea pavilion, I watch Kwesi Sey arrive on an immaculately kept Brompton bicycle, calmly collapse it, hover a second and nervously enter. It’s early morning and brilliant sunshine ﬂoods the circular hut in the middle of the park. I’ve a foldable bike myself, namely so I can spend more time sat on the train with it rather than peddling, but for Kwes it’s about the engineering that’s gone into the contraption, something that he will later marvel at between posing for photographs. And that, in many ways, sums up the 24-year old – a methodical man far more interested in inner workings and invention than speed and blatant razzamatazz. Kwes grew up on the other side of the heath, down the road in Lewisham, south London, where he still lives today. He is, by his own admission, a very shy person, who rarely speaks above a whisper and spent the ﬁrst three quarters of his life indoors listening to music, some of it his own. All other spare time was taken up by his love for drawing and painting. “I’m going to try to rekindle that for my artwork,” he enthusiastically nods over tea. “Recently I’ve been using photos and blurring them, but I think for my album and the forthcoming EP I’m going to get back into painting. Like, you’ve got your Jackson Pollocks, but I also love people like Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who I named a song after, and I’m kinda continuing that with the next EP – there’s a guy called Paul Klee who’s a German/Swiss painter; that’s going to be the opening track on the EP…that’s an exclusive, right there,” he smiles. As he told Vice in 2011, he’s been actively interested
in pop music from an implausibly young age, since he was four years old. He’d study Top of The Pops, tape the radio and play his noise-making toys like they were meant for composition. He’d receive a slapped wrist for sitting at the two-tier electronic organ in his family home. And then, on his seventh birthday, Kwes received a gift that rapidly accelerated his musical prowess – a keyboard from his grandmother. “I can remember that moment,” he says. “It was an amazing moment because before that I was learning to play tunes on a vtech toy telephone, and it had a oneoctave keyboard on the bottom of it and I was learning tunes on that and then my Nan got me this slightly bigger keyboard and I couldn’t get off it. On the vtech there was only a one-note polyphony, so I couldn’t play more than one note at a time, which was annoying. I think this other keyboard had two-note polyphony,” he laughs. “And then I learned ‘Green Sleeves’.” Tying all of Kwes’ musical experiences together, ﬁguratively and literally, were wires. Whether in the television that beamed The Spice Girls into his living room on a Thursday night, the radio he worshiped, the toys he’d carried a tune on or the keyboard his Nan had given him, Kwes – born in 1987 – was a deﬁnite child of the new digital age. Soon he’d be experimenting with overdubbing on basic tape recorders, and eventually the Internet would really spring into life, opening a world of digital experimentation, schooling and possibilities. Kwes had learned the medieval ‘Green Sleeves’, but he’d done so on the most modern of instruments. At ten, he was then ﬁrst exposed to the idea of
becoming a producer by his aunt; a piece of career advice that he has since realised rather triumphantly, producing Elan Tamara, Sunless ’97 and, most notably, Dels’ 2011 debut album,‘GOB’ – a record that was much more than your average UK grime album on account of its lawless use of electronics and the varied reference points of a music junky.“That record is a hip-hop record, a pop record and a rock record in some respects,” notes Kwes. “When I was making that music, because I’m a massive Soft Machine fan and Robert Wyatt fan, and a fan of a lot of 70s prog rock, I was trying to get that in the music and the only other person who picked up on that was the mastering engineer.” More recently Kwes has ﬁnished producing Speech Debelle’s second album, ‘Freedom of Speech’ (due February 2012), and in doing so has given the Mercury Prize winner a gutsier, meaner sound. “It was amazing,” he says, “and really tiring. I actually did my ﬁrst sessions with her around this time last year and then maybe from December through to May of this year I’ve been working on it, and there were periods when I’d just be working on it over and over. I’ve heard many stories of artists falling out about making albums, and now that I’ve done that I can see where they’re coming from – it gets really intense sometimes, with the disagreements and all that, but I’m really glad I got involved in it.” And Kwes’ reworks list is plentiful also, featuring the likes of Hot Chip, Zero 7 and Damon Albarn’s Monkey Opera, but really we’re in Blackheath tea pavilion to discuss his solo career, which, until now, has gotten off to a couple of false starts. Or one and a half, at least.
earts In Home’ – Kwes’s debut single – was released in January 2009. It featured an odd, staticridden, ping-ponging sample that prevented it from being a straight-up electro pop song, while the lyrics were effortlessly half spoken, like those of Metronomy. If it had been released within the last twelve months it would have probably been muddled in with the chillwave lot, regardless of its clear experimental bent and distinct lack of Casio tones.Along with crackling b-side ‘Tissues’, it was an intriguing introduction to the then 21-yearold musician; clearly electronic but in no way dance music; detached and otherworldly but with too much intent to be dismissed as ‘ambient’.Then nothing. Kwes took another 18 months to follow ‘Hearts In Home’, with the purely instrumental ‘No Need To Run’ EP. Incorporating trance synths and skitty dubstep drums on ‘In & Out The UK’, and euphoria organ chords on the EP’s title track, ‘No Need To Run’ partly quickened the pulse, but once again, despite the interest of many keen to see what Kwes would do next, it was followed by silence for another year and a half, until his signing to Warp Records was announced with free download ‘Get Up’ – a stark, self-help soul song from the lips of a sloshed motivational speaker. When speaking about Warp – still Mecca for experimental electronic musicians – Kwes refers to them as “a childhood label”. “It’s mad,” he says, “because I was making music around ten years ago, and a friend of mine back then was telling me to send stuff to Warp but I didn’t have the courage to, and here I am signed to them. Back then I was trying to get work experience at other labels but for some reason I didn’t get in touch with Warp. I don’t wanna do any naming and shaming but I didn’t get responses from any of those labels I applied for work experience at.” As for the substantial gaps between Kwes’ releases, his production and remix commissions are easily ﬁngered (“I continued writing but I got really busy with the production side of the things and doing re-works”), but they aren’t solely to blame. “Up until now I’ve been very funny about putting out my own music,” he explains, “but it so happened that the A&R who was working at XL [the label that released ‘Hearts In Home’ and ‘No Need To Run’] knew that I’d been making my own music and really wanted to put some of my stuff out, and I was happy with the idea but at the same time I was kinda…” he trails off, looking down at the neat Brompton. “I’m really enjoying working on my own material now,” he continues. “I’m in that frame of mind where I feel like I can really say something. But performing my own music is something I’m trying to get used to, because that’s not something that comes naturally to me. I mean, despite playing with many other bands, doing my own stuff is something I’m ﬁnding very difﬁcult.” Kwes is no stranger to the stage. For a man who spent his entire childhood indoors – and for one who remains just 24 years of age – he’s been in an alarming number of successful/nearly successful bands. In 2006 he “had a
weird time” playing guitar for ﬂash-in-the-eccentricgirl-pop-pan Ebony Bones – the overly wacky moniker of Family Affairs actress Ebony Thomas.Then there was a (very) brief stint with brat ravers Bono Must Die, playing keyboards. “I was meant to be a full time member but I only did a one-off gig with them because I wasn’t in London at the time – I was at Uni. That was so funny,” he laughs.“I remember that show was at ULU and there was a stage invasion of 13/14-year old kids trying to break the keyboards and stuff. I think I wanted to do it more, but it was weird because the day before I’d been in the studio playing on Jack Peñate’s album.” Kwes promptly joined his band too, and last year he toured with progressive house luminaries Leftﬁeld for a summer, playing to 20,000 people a night. So standing in front of people and playing music isn’t a problem for the reserved Kwes, but standing in front of people and playing his music is. “I totally enjoyed playing with all of those people,” he says.“They were great experiences.What worries me about playing my own songs is that they’re personal and close to me, but also that it’s me singing, in the centre, as the focal point.That’s really alien to me.” It’s singing that Kwes is most terriﬁed of, and yet his vocals are essential to humanising his computerised pop songs and giving them their sleepy charm amongst the loops of found sounds that are stacked high and beyond recognition. ‘No Need To Run’ was completely instrumental, although not on purpose, and while Kwes trembles at the thought of his songs featuring his lyrics and voice, he’s aware of just how fundamental his vocals are. “That EP [‘No Need To Run’] is a very long story,” he says. “It’s essentially an unﬁnished body of work. It came out in that way, but it’s a long story. I eventually accepted it, but most of the new songs I’ve written lyrics for, and I’ve written three quarters of the album, so perhaps the other quarter will be instrumental. But even though I’m terriﬁed of singing, I can’t get away from it. It’s an integral part and I have to do it. It’s almost a necessary evil.”
week after we meet in Blackheath, almost three years after releasing his debut single, Kwes’ worst fear is upon him. In The Shacklewell Arms, east London, he steps on stage to play his ﬁrst show as no one but himself. To mute the terror a little he’s not positioned himself centre-stage at all, but rather off to the left and guarded by a ﬂank of keyboards and laptops. Elan Tamara is to help shoulder the burden, on keyboards and other electronics. At the back is live drummer Georgia. (The three of them also play together as Tamara’s band – yet
another of Kwes’ musical concerns). Still, little can skew the fact that the venue, although small, is completely sold out, and with people anxious to ﬁnally see Kwes play his own songs. I’d asked him how he felt about this impending doom last week. “I’m nervous, man,” he’d said. “Really nervous.” He looks it tonight, but only brieﬂy. Soon, on account of the response he receives, he appears completely overwhelmed. “Bloody hell!” he repeatedly fathoms.“Erm, ok, I’m going to play another song now.” It’s as if he’s told himself to take it one track at a time; to only play more than the opening song if it seems like people are into it. The fact that people most deﬁnitely are comes as a constant surprise to him, up until the point where he thanks us all profusely, assures us that he “didn’t know what to expect from tonight” and says goodnight. It’s an incredibly triumphant ﬁrst show that consolidates Kwes’ sporadic output into one dense, joyful celebration of experimental pop music. Each song sounds rough and – as you’d expect – home-schooled, although not in a kitsch, knowing way, but rather more as if the composition of different sound elements is more important than how slick they’re pieced together in front of us. His love for prog rock is made all the more evident too, with most tracks hatching from a melee of delayed bass and blossoming into conventional pop songs of varying lengths before weird noise returns once again.‘Broke’ is a skeletal soul ballad that you’d expect to hear from James Blake, keys clunking beneath Kwes’ brittle voice; ‘No Need To Run’ serves as a perfect, elongated, easily digestible, ravey closer. He calls it‘free pop’(“pop music without boundaries”),
“I’m terrified of singing, BUT I can’t get away from it. It’s an integral part and I have to do it. It’s a necessary evil”
and like his live show, his forthcoming EP, ‘Meantime’, nods to how anything goes in Kwes’ world, no doubt due to a lifetime of ODing on the top 40. ‘Meantime’s’ opener is ‘Klee’ – a track that emerges to sound like a pre-tortured Fuck Buttons before it makes way for the disco shufﬂe of ‘Bashful’, which will most likely stoke the inevitable (and sometimes justiﬁed) Metronomy comparisons that are bound to come Kwes’ way this year. ‘Honey’ is even more likely to get him on the radio, featuring a playful, creaky sample inspired by old friend and collaborator Micachu, and a simple, springtime vocal hook of “I’m stuck on you, honey/ Come down here and join me”. And it turns out that Kwes is a much better singer than he thinks he is, especially on ‘LGOYH’, which lives hard-and-fast to the ‘free pop’ philosophy. It incorporates everything within its seven minutes, from falsetto RnB vocals to xylophone riffs, dirge guitars, indulgent bass, what sounds like loops of typewriter keys and deodorant cans spraying and swathes of ambient sound made up of godknows-what. It’s deﬁnitely Kwes’ best release yet, and a precursor to his 2012 debut album. “I don’t want to say expect the unexpected, because that’s just stupid,” Kwes had said when discussing his album. “I dunno, I could be completely wrong but I think I’ve created this really mysterious…” he trails off again. “I think it’s because I’m such a shy person and don’t like to big up myself or reveal too much about what I get up to. I see people on twitter telling everyone everything, and I forget sometimes that I’ve got twitter. “I guess what to expect is… songs, noise… and, erm, pillaging, in some respects, and jokes… and one more thing – lots of found sound.”
the risk of stating the obvious, rock’n’roll is as much about stories as it is about the music. There’s nothing as exciting as a brand new band, potential untapped and future unknown, but veteran bands have a story arc. For example, The Beatles’ rise from working-class Liverpool to sprawling global fame, to their regal period, which broke down the limits of what a band could be, and their subsequent bitter disintegration, is almost Shakespearean in its perfection as a story. It wouldn’t be surprising if it all turned out to be invented by a Bond Street ad man. On a smaller scale, there’s something mythical about the story of Guided By Voices, almost too perfect to be true. Discovered by the wider world just as they reach their mid-30s and decide to pack it in, they go on to deﬁne lo-ﬁ indie rock with a series of gloriously collagey records such as ‘Bee Thousand’ and ‘Alien Lanes’. By the time they sign with a major label to make a glossy bid for mainstream acceptance, though, their leader and principal songwriter, Robert Pollard, is the only remaining original member.A few years later, after a few more indie-label minor classics, the band breaks up. It’s a great story, one that wouldn’t be so fascinating if it didn’t sum up the wish fulﬁlment of every ageing rocker in every small town and feature a huge number of outstanding songs. Unless you’re a geeky aﬁcionado (GBV have no ‘casual’ fans, mind you, you either love them or you haven’t heard them), you might not know ‘Weedking’,‘King And Caroline’ or ‘Lord Of Overstock’, but trust us, almost every song from the mid-’90s period is worth your time. So when Guided By Voices’ classic line-up reformed in 2010, it seemed like the ﬁrst time they had ever looked back. But their live shows were so transcendent (and characteristically drunken) they’ve decided to make a new album, ‘Let’s Go Eat The Factory’, out now. Still collagey and lo-ﬁ, and packed with 21 miniature gems, it’s a surprising and stunning return. But is it all just a cosy nostalgia trip for the band? L&Q: When ‘Half Smiles Of The Decomposed’ was released in 2004, did you genuinely think there was no chance of another record being made under the GBV name? Robert Pollard: “Yes. That’s why it was called ‘Half Smiles Of The Decomposed’, but that corpse has been re-composed or re-animated. Actually, re-animated from older body parts. And it lives again under the same name.” L&Q: And how about when you guys got together to play again – did you think then that it would result in a new album? RP: “No, I had no intention of recording again as Guided By Voices, but everything went so swimmingly that we decided it might be a good idea to try an album, being that the chemistry and enthusiasm seemed to still be present.” Tobin Sprout: “I didn’t think we’d reform properly as Guided By Voices. The Matador 21st anniversary show opened the door to the reunion and things just seemed to work out. We got calls to do some shows and then more shows became a tour. The next step seemed to be an album or two.”
L&Q: Can you imagine this reunion continuing for more albums after this one then? TS: “One more, ‘Class Clown Spots A UFO’.” RP: “I don’t know how long we’ll keep doing GBV. I will always keep doing my own projects.” [Since we spoke to the band, a third album has been conﬁrmed]. L&Q: What exactly happened when the ‘classic’ line-up dissolved during the making of ‘Mag Earwhig!’? RP: “Well, halfway into the recording of it,Toby decided that he should spend more time with his family and Kevin got into a little bit of trouble and it just started tumbling, so I decided to give it an overhaul and see if I could keep it going by hiring a completely new band, which of course was Cobra Verde/Death Of Samantha, a band I greatly respected.” L&Q: Was there any bad blood you had to get over before you could all play together, let alone record? And do you think anyone resented you for carrying on with GBV? RP: “A lot of time had elapsed, so I think the ill feelings created by the break-up had subsided. Everyone was excited to get back together, but yes, a couple of people weren’t happy about Guided By Voices moving on without them. I haven’t seen a lot of Mitch [Mitchell, guitar], Toby or Kevin [Fennell, drums] in the last 10 or 12 years. I see Greg [Demos, bass] a lot. He’s my
lawyer.” L&Q: Tobin, you and Robert collaborated a number of times after you left the band – so I guess you remained friends? TS: “I seemed to be on every GBV album after I left in one form or another. Sometimes as a guest, others as songs we had written together like ‘I Am Produced’. There was never a break up, so to speak. I had to leave for family reasons and Bob understood that. He had even said the band could wait and tour when I was ready. We did two Airport 5 albums together during that time, and I played on the last (at that time) Guided By Voices album [‘Half Smiles…’].” L&Q: A lot of people were surprised (and delighted) at you guys reforming. Does the resurrection of GBV and the classic line-up feel nostalgic to you, or is it just unﬁnished business? RP: “No, it doesn’t feel nostalgic, especially with the unexpected crowd and crowd reaction. The “GBV!” chant, the beer spillage.” L&Q: The songs on the album do seem to hark back to the classic line-up time – did you have to write differently for this? RP: “I just put myself in a sillier, less 54-year-old frame of mind. I never stop writing and I never worry about not being able to. It’s perpetual motion. It’s what I love
Guided By Voices TOM PINNOCK SITS DOWN WITH THE DRIVING FORCE OF
INDIE’S ULTIMATE CULT BAND AS GBV’S ORIGINAL LINEUP RELEASE THEIR FIRST ALBUM TOGETHER IN 15 YEAR
to do and it’s all I know how to do. It’s not a great task or feat to release an album every other month.There are a lot of things that I’m not that I probably should be but one thing that I am is a songster.” L&Q: Wacky question alert. If the album was a bird, or a town, what would it be? RP: “It would be a fat bird from the mythological town of Dayton, Ohio.” L&Q: In the original classic line-up period, a lot of imagery seems to have been taken from your time as a teacher – is there a coincidental theme to this record? RP: “There seems to be an “eating” theme. ‘Fats’, ‘Doughnut’, ‘Chocolate’. It’s weird. Maybe we eat more now. If I tried to play basketball again, I might attempt to cram myself into an old jersey that I wore during the original line-up period.” L&Q: Tobin, I guess you don’t write as proliﬁcally as Robert? TS: “I would say it’s about three songs to one, about the same on the ‘…Factory’ and ‘…UFO’ albums. Out of the 21 songs I wrote ﬁve of them and co-wrote one. I get into a songwriting mood and write for a couple of weeks, then go on to other things like painting for a while.” L&Q: Was it strange returning to home studios after so long in more professional surroundings? RP: “No, that’s the most comfortable place to be. We recorded on our own for many years.” TS: “There were a lot of things that felt the same as when we recorded, say, ‘Propeller’. They were both piecemealed together with studio recordings and lowerﬁ recordings. Some recorded with different members and some as a group.” L&Q: Tobin, what was it like recording/writing the record now you don’t live in Dayton? TS: “I live in upper Michigan now. With the tech we have now it is easy to send songs back and forth.We also met in Cleveland to record together on ‘Class Clown Spots A UFO’. I don’t think there is a big problem with the distance.” L&Q: Robert, it’s rare that someone so in control of a band restricts himself mainly to singing… Why is this? RP: “I only restrict myself live. I like the freedom of not playing an instrument and having to stay in tune or fuck with an amp and pedals. All I need to bring onstage is a set list about three feet long. In the studio, it’s a different story.”
L&Q: You’ve obviously made a hell of a lot of albums over your career – if you had a gun to your head, which three would you choose as your favourites? RP: “‘Bee Thousand’ [GBV], ‘Moses On A Snail’ [Robert Pollard], ‘Let It Beard’ [Boston Spaceships].” TS: “All of them, but I have a special feeling for ‘Vampire On Titus’. It is the most crude as far as recording, but that seems to be its charm. It sounds like a great band playing in the basement, and you are hearing it upstairs through the laundry shoot.” L&Q: Have you ever seen The IT Crowd? GBV are mentioned a number of times… TS: “It is funny, my son has a friend who was born in the UK and turned him on to the show. We all started watching it and loved it. We’ve seen every episode a couple times. Roy looks a lot like Bob [Pollard] and Moss for some reason reminds me of [former member] Jim Greer, I don’t know why, something about his face. But we started seeing the poster and T-shirts and freaked out. I heard the director of the show is a big fan. I love
the show where Jen ﬁnds Richmond behind the red door.” L&Q: Is Robert a difﬁcult person to work with? He comes across to an outsider as a sort of benign dictator. TS: “He started Guided By Voices and is the leader, and in a large part is the impetus of the band. It is inspiring to me to write for GBV. It is the superlative showcase for my songs and I think our songs play well off each other. I think everyone in the band contributes to the whole of GBV. We all write, and add our own bright spots. Mitch plays keys, and Kevin drums on ‘We Won’t Apologize For The Human Race’, and Greg plays smoking leads. And you can’t forget Jimmy [Pollard’s] contributions.” L&Q: So what does your brother Jim do as the band’s ‘secret weapon’? RP: “Coach. Editor. Amp dropper. Utility man. Comedian.” L&Q: And, ﬁnally Robert, would you say you’re difﬁcult to work with? RP: “No. I’m difﬁcult to fuck with.”
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Trailer Trash Tracys Ester (Double Six) By Reef Younis. In stores now
Before a note of Trailer Trash Tracys debut album has been struck, their very name seems to have been enough to get most seasoned critics, miserable hacks and rabid fans in a hypemachine twist, pointing accusing ﬁngers at the band for duping everyone into thinking that they would sound like the tight leopard skinclad, bubblegum-blowing glitterballs that their name suggests. Instead, we’re treated to a gloriously low-lit journey that drifts through Twin Peaks; David Lynch riding shotgun with Phil Spector in the back, letting the darkness ghost through the cold night air, because ‘Ester’ is a debut that ﬂoats and breezes over you, lilting and wilting into the background like a graveyard mist. Beautiful and equally ominous, it strikes a rich note between the haunting and enthralling, tempting and enticing us to indulge in Suzanna Aztoria’s sultry, groaning presence
and the prettiﬁed B-Movie isolation; those frozen black and white moments in outback motels where sinister shadows are cast just before the blood chillingly starts to spill. And it’s tracks like ‘Englhardt’s Arizona’ (charged with a manic guitar line and Aztoria’s chiffon vocal for an intriguingly breathless contradiction), the languorous, down-tempo ‘You Wish You Were Red’ (oozing like a droopy-eyed The Big Pink) and the slinking ‘Los Angered’ (sloping with the sexy charm the Howling Bells’ Juanita Stein once captivated us with) that gives the album a real breadth and depth. Filtered through some decidedly Kevin Shields-esque shoegaze haze, a constrained slash of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s static animosity and the fuggy, 80s percussion clapping like thunder in the distance, ‘Ester’ treats us to the full gamut of musical reference points, twirling around sweet female harmonies and skirting round the pleasantly experimental side of pop. But beneath the beguiling melodies, gloomy shades of witch-house loiter in the shadows. Where ‘Strangling Good Guys’ and ‘Dies in 55’
uplift and sparkle, ‘Starlatine’ and ‘Black Circle’ drop into a bleak, detached dead-space, the richness of the backdrops sucked out to a sparse minimalism that’s wracked with a creepy tension. Like any dark art, this is an album charged with a delectably noir seduction that holds its allure without being overly doom-laden or dramatic. In a constant slow-burn, the sense of the forbidden and foreboding ﬂickers right until the album’s climax; the mufﬂed placidity of closer ‘Turkish Heights’ bashing its way to a ﬁttingly brutal silence. Balanced by its blend of sifted inﬂuences, it probably isn’t the deﬁnitive Trailer Trash Tracys hallmark, simply because there’s the promise of so much more. Sometimes it’s almost too easy to overlook the level of detail that goes into condensing and distilling a band’s identity into the inhibited course of one album, but it takes a craft and conviction that few bands are willing to attempt straight away.Whether it’s a fear of failure or ﬁnding early comfort in the conventional,Trailer Trash Tracys’ take on the nostalgic is everything you want from a debut. .
Mark Lanegan Band
Screws Get Loose
Young And Old
Attack On Memory
Have Some Faith in Magic
(Oh Wow Dang) By Polly Rappaport. In stores Feb 13
(4ad) By Matthias Scherer. In stores Feb 6
(ATP) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores Feb 13
(Wichita) By Nathan Westley. In stores Feb 7
(Rock Action) By Reef Younis. In stores Jan 30
Fans of Those Darlins’ debut album, brace yourselves… and not in a good way.What was once a band of shit-kicking, cow-tipping, hillbilly riot grrls is now a creature that leans much more in the direction of 1960s throwback garage, a la the Vivian and Dum Dum Girls. Not to knock that style, but it may come as a nasty shock to those looking forward to another country rock record. One of the biggest losses on this LP is the band’s ﬁrecracker wit, though there are glimpses of it at the beginning, on the title track and ‘Be Your Bro’, a song about wanting to drop all the sexy business and chuck mud at boys. After the ﬁrst few songs, though, it becomes clear that this is a hazy retro pop album, and a decent one at that, but the ballsy Darlins that once we knew (and were truly excited by) would seem to be long gone, and that’s a shame.
While we might be left trying to imagine what kind of music Kurt Cobain would make were he still alive, one of his most revered contemporaries and collaborators, Mark Lanegan, is still here to write songs, and thank fuck for that. Over the twelve tracks of his seventh solo album, the former Screaming Trees singer lays to rest his demons (alcoholism, homelessness, etc.), asks for forgiveness (“Oh sister of mercy, I’ve been gone too long” – the beautiful ‘Harborview Hospital’) and rocks out. ‘Riot in My House’ features a Stooges-esque piano hammering away in the background, while guitars straight out of the Dinosaur Jr text book cascade around Lanegan’s growl, and there are plenty of glimmering synths shining through to add an electronic edge to Lanegan’s visceral, mourning delivery too. 53 breathtaking minutes.
In a world where Best Coast already exist,Tennis’ 2011 debut album, ‘Cape Dory’, was a pretty redundant affair – a collection of breezy, coastal love songs that were nice enough, if you could be bothered. A married duo from Denver, Patrick Riley and Aliana Moore these days have drummer James Barone in tow, and ‘Young And Old’ is certainly a better effort than their last, even if doo-wop tracks like ‘Robin’ and the unfortunately titled ‘It All Feels The Same’ are largely forgettable. Moore’s vocals remain vintage girl group throughout, but musically (and especially percussively) Tennis mix things up, with sharp breakbeats (‘My Better Self ’), fairground keys (‘Travelling’) and the odd heady waltz (‘Dreaming’). Best though is ‘Petition’, on which Moore lets out a modern RnB cry, hurling Tennis into the age in which they actually exist, and in fact belong.
While Cloud Nothing’s eponymous debut album was a near Dylan Baldi solo affair, for the Steve Albini-produced ‘Attack On Memory’ we’re given a combined effort that sees the whole band follow the producer’s tradition of recording as a live unit. And Albini’s inﬂuence certainly doesn’t end there, the Wavves-esque trashcan pop that dominated the band’s 2011 emo debut having been largely cast aside and replaced with a heavier disposition of bonecrunching riffs. Casting off with a thundering Shellac-style groove on ‘No Future, No Past’, it soon awakens with a thunderous explosion of abrasive noise. ‘No Sentiment’ roars to a heavy-assed groove; ‘Fall In’ recalls the fast paced, snot-nosed, hi-ﬁ punk of ‘Nimrod’-era Green Day.The evolution of Cloud Nothings, from their childish beginnings of just a year ago, is clear and impressive.
January has an odd knack of treating us right, consistently delivering at least one album to wonderfully endure the year ahead. This time, it’s ‘Have Some Faith In Magic’ setting the standard with Errors conﬁdently committing past vocal dabbles to record. Balanced and nuanced, they give the album another subtle layer of humanity that melts into the synthetic backdrops beautifully and, signiﬁcantly, are not the distraction they might have been.With ‘Tusk’ enrapturing from the outset and ‘Pleasure Palaces’ the album’s standout track, the vocals are never centre stage; just another measured component syncing to Errors’ electronic heartbeat. Noticeably slower in tempo and lacking the visceral edge of its predecessors, album number three is the culmination of a band hitting their peak. No faith needed. No magic involved. Simply Errors’ best work to date.
Chairlift Something (Young Turks) By Sam Walton. In stores Jan 23
Let’s face it, if you’re going to write an album wilfully indebted to the sheeny 80s pop that makes up the backbone of Magic FM, it’s going to go one of two ways, but Chairlift’s second album is no stinker. Quite how it manages to be such a triumph, though, is even more impressive than the record itself. In short, it’s the songs, each one a knock-out melodic punch that overcomes any potential naffness, brilliantly constructed, sung with equal parts longing and sass, and then produced to within an inch of Madonna’s ‘Papa Don’t Preach’-era lawyers. ‘I Belong In Your Arms’ is a wonderfully propulsive slip of a track with a chorus that leaves you bafﬂed as to how it was never written before, while ‘Amanaemonesia’ is a minisymphony of funk wrapped around another killer hook. Regrettably, the album loses its sharpness in its closing moments, but it’s far from fatal. ‘Something’ remains one of the catchiest, most ﬁst-clenchingly addictive records you’re likely to hear in 2012.
AL BUMS 07/10
The 2 Bears
All The Saints
Intro to Fractions
(Southern Fried) By D K Goldstein. In stores Jan 30
(City Slang) By Nathan Westley. In stores Jan 30
By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Feb 13
The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy (City Slang)
Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen (Moshi Moshi)
By Luke Winkie. In stores Jan 23
By Nathan Westley. In stores now
It’s clear that The 2 Bears – aka Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and Ministry of Sound radio DJ Raphael ‘Raf Daddy’ Rundell – were destined for each other, with their shared love of the ’90s house scene – the kind that boasts Saint Etienne, Groove Armada and Leftﬁeld. Pulling together this debut LP is a feast of hard-driving beats, old school Chicago house rhythms and an element of chillwave. Instrumental opener, ‘The Birds and the Bees’, rings out with carnival-style steel pans and blaring trumpets, before the title track takes over with Rundell’s deep voiceover namedropping everyone from the Beach Boys to Wookie. ‘Take a Look Around’ is then a mainstream club track, before the record takes a humorous turn, with songs like ‘Warm and Easy’, on which Rundell guffaws over “bear love”. So that’s what this feeling is.
Riffs and disenchanted, stained vocals would ﬁgure high on many rock aﬁcionadas albums of choice, but instead of falling into line and serving up a straightforward response, All The Saints have instead created one that has grander ambitions.While their 2008 debut, ‘Fire On Corridor X’, may have attracted stoner-rock comparisons, ‘Intro to Fractions’ demonstrates that they have attained a new vision, albeit one that ﬁercely grapples with the idea of melding psychedelic strangeness with reverberations of grunge’s disaffection. From the opening ‘Half Red, Half Way’, the album sets off on a journey inspired by A Place To Bury Strangers’ controlled explosions of noise, but this postshoegaze rock ultimately lacks the personality and hooks it needs to prevent it from being an interesting recipe, but one for a pudding that most will ﬁnd pretty ﬂavourless.
Field Music’s fourth album is a sprawling mass of eccentric pop oddness, spanning ﬁfteen songs in thirty ﬁve minutes. And while manic and occasionally wild, it is also a sheer delight.The stylistic leanings are plentiful, with surreptitious nods to the funk of Prince while also sounding like this could be the latest album by Dirty Projectors. It’s a record full of wit, charm and idiosyncrasies that always entice and never irritate.There are even moments of true beauty, at times in plaintive rudimentary form, at others via intricately layered, frantic sonic experiments. And for a band as dedicated as Field Music it seems ﬁtting that ‘Plumb’ is their most fully realised and greatest record to date, complete with the closing, David Byrne-ish ‘(I keep Thinking About) a New Thing’ that may already be a contender for the song of the year.
‘The Stars...’ was made for the same people who bought 2010’s ‘If I Had A Hi-Fi’, or 1998’s ‘The Proximity Effect’, or 1996’s ‘High/ Low’. Recklessly adolescent guitar music but now coming from an old soul. Matthew Caws still mentions his “teenaged heart”, though, and while Nada Surf have always been left out of the ’90s revisions conversation, they’ve kept an ardent support group beckoning, always selling out shows.This record was made for those people, and if you haven’t bought in now, well, it’ll be hard to muster up the open ears, because Nada Surf don’t deal in grand cosmic signiﬁcance, they’re far too much of an indie rock band for that. For me, someone whose been along for the ride, the fact that they’re writing songs called ‘Teenage Dreams’ and ‘Waiting For Something’ warms a heart, but you already know if this record is meant for you.
Most fans of pop music like to be able to drunkenly sing along to songs, so there is little chance that Casiokids - while well equipped with ear-pleasing, electronicallypropelled tunes - will be for everyone. Although they can proudly boast the accolade of being the ﬁrst band to release a Norwegian language single in the UK, this album, like many of their previous releases, uses vocals as an instrument rather than a central draw, often sinking into a bed of left-of-centre synthpop that sits between Royksopp’s radio friendly moments and Hot Chip, with idiosyncrasies tightly reeled in. Beyond that, Casiokids have mastered the art of creating electronic pop music, though, that bustles with vibrant melodies and colourful harmonies. Now if only us Brits could get over our fascination with needing to understand lyrics...
Django Django Django Django (Because) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Jan 30
From the opening hum of crickets and distant, pulsing electronics to the tribal drums that manically pound in the background, Django Django’s debut album opens with an eclectic and varying sense of experimentation. The following album is then a continuing tropical fusion of electronics, leftﬁeld pop and warped, twisted melodies, often sounding like a super group made up of Super Furry Animals and Animal Collective.What’s most clever about it is how inclussive it remains, perpetually experimental without risking alienation and endlessly addictive without appearing saccharine – everything a pop record should be. Stylistically, it dips and weaves, continually moving, shaping and evolving as it plays, from the manic and agitated (‘Skies Over Cairo’) to the reserved, folky and delicate (‘Hand of Man’). And yet for all its varying styles, fusions and consistently moving cadences, this is a thorough and focused work that ﬂows with an aquatic sense of coherence and consistency. A glorious debut album.
Sharon Van Etten
First Aid Kit
Evolve or Be Extinct
Fake Fish Distribution
By Chris Watkeys. In stores Feb 6
By Laura Davies. In stores Feb 6
By Luke Winkie. In stores now
By Matthias Scherer. In stores Feb 6
By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Jan 23
Judging by ‘Tramps’, her second LP, Sharon Van Etten has an almost incurably mournful soul. Her voice has a slightly jazzy quality, the kind of vocals you can imagine drifting from the stage in a smoke-ﬁlled basement bar, her music veering between urgent rock refrains and sorrowful, slow-paced laments. Opening track ‘Warsaw’, though, is jarring and unsettling, that beautifully forlorn voice weaving between raw-sounding, squally guitar lines. ‘Give Out’ is a simple but excellent acoustic effort, while ‘Serpents’ is driving, edgy, and shot through with drama and chaos. As an album, it’s slightly too laden with slow tracks, but the ponderous pace of songs like ‘In Line’ often give way to surges and crescendos of anti-euphoria, and featuring guest performances from indie luminaries including Beirut, ‘Tramps’ is that rare thing – an album that is consistently arresting.
Hailing from Texas traditionally means you curve one of two ways, musically speaking: it’s either a country and western path, spurs ‘n all, or you rebel in an At the DriveIn fashion and create a punk racket that sounds like you can’t wait to escape its sun-baked clutches.That is until friends Christa Palazzolo (cool name) and Sarah Brown (errr, just a name) decided that the Lonestar State could also spark an atmospheric orchestra of thoughtfulness and beauty, even. Lyricists they may not be –opener ‘Rogue Waves I’ is a Godspeed You Black Emperor-esque horror soundtrack and you don’t get much more than Air-esque spaceage lullabies everywhere else – but this grown up stuff; it’s ornate; it’s Warpaint for 2012. It’s hardly a game (or life) changer, and yet somehow ‘Egyptian Wrinkle’ is an invite to an ethereal world that you can’t fail to accept.
Evolve or be extinct.Well, it’s not like Wiley has changed his tune much. At this point, his spiky polyrhythmic assaults have practically outlived the grime scene that birthed him – Wiley should be thankful he’s still on a ﬁrst-name basis with the rest of the world, even if he is currently making very professional music, far from the laptop-speaker convulsions of his earliest work. It’s certainly more digestible, if void of his most distinctive qualities. ‘Boom Blast’? ‘I’m Skanking’? Just from the names you know these are chartseekers, sure to sound good from rain-slicked festival stages.There’s also a highly speciﬁc rage against immigration ofﬁces called, you know, ‘Immigration’. It’s almost like he’s trying to prove he hasn’t gotten predictable.We should be glad the dude’s still making money, it’s just a shame his best art is behind him.
Turn off your pretension detector now, because Icarus’ ninth studio album could end up breaking it. The London duo have been making über-experimental electro for almost 20 years, and for this record they have devised a frankly impenetrable approach involving generative (e.g. the use of algorithmic composition software) as well as parametric (beats us) techniques in order to make a record that basically comes in hundreds of ever so slightly differently-sounding guises: there will apparently be 1,000 different versions of ‘Fake…’. Not that you’d be able to tell without investing hours of time and attention: the music (probably best described as CPU jazz) is so headscratchingly progressive, so barelythere in its ambient tendencies and so ﬂat-out unpredictable that getting to grips with one version alone will keep you busy for a while.
Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg have certainly brought in the big guns of folk to make sure that the follow-up to their well-received debut album, ‘The Big Black & Blue’, doesn’t go unnoticed. For ‘The Lion’s Roar’ Bright Eyes maestro Mike Mogis is at the controls and the folky, whimsical cuteness of their debut has been left behind in favour of a much grander sound. Boosted by a full backing band, most of the duo’s second offering is a dust-inthe-throat country record, in the manner of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, who the duo in fact pay tribute to on lead-off single ‘Emmylou’. It’s rollicking and freewheeling, with a couple of real standout moments in ‘Blue’ and ‘Dance To Another Tune’, and while not as distinctive as their debut, perhaps, the ambition that has gone into creating ‘The Lion’s Roar’ should be applauded.
Speech Debelle Freedom of Speech (Big Dada) By Danny Canter. In stores Feb 6
When Speech Debelle’s debut album won the Mercury Prize in 2009 it took even her label by surprise. Reports told how Big Dada hadn’t pressed enough copies of ‘Speech Therapy’ to meet the demand created by the win, and a dejected and angry Debelle promptly left the label. Since then, the two parties have made up and the south London rapper has taken a full year to create ‘Freedom of Speech’. Unsurprisingly, it’s a record of realisation, reﬂection and eventual euphoria. ‘Speech Therapy’ was classically old skool, with nods to the ever-playful Del La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest; ‘Freedom of Speech’ is more overtly impassioned, angrier and far less cute, like on ‘Elephant’, in which a brow-beaten Debelle faces her fears over cinematic strings, and ‘Blaze Up A Fire’, which was perfectly leaked after the London riots and speaks of social revolution. For ‘Shawshank’ and ‘Angel Wings’ she revisits her acoustic-lilting innocence, but Debelle is best when ranting, which is most of the time.
AL BUMS 04/10
Beth Jean Houghton And The Ooves of Destiny
Phenomenal Handclap Band
Hooray for Earth
Too Tough To Live
Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
Form And Control (Tummy Touch)
By Chal Ravens. In stores Feb 13
By Polly Rappaport. In stores now
The Phenomenal Handclap Band have dialled down the funk and turned up the proggy art-rock for a second album that splices those ‘70s genres with a wearying dose of adult contemporary, castrating its danceﬂoor potential in the process.The New York collective once toured with Bryan Ferry, which says it all, really. Ostentatious velvet-rope slickness suggests Roxy Music at their glossiest, yet at heart it’s all deeply repressed, even conservative. Oddly blank vocal efforts are duplicated in a creepy android choir (echoing of Ladytron) that’s totally sexless (and not in the good Ladytron way). There’s no doubt that TPHB is the project of two DJ minds tuned to the other side of the mixer and all about structure and sheen. It’s beautifully constructed but with little of the joie de vivre that ﬁres up its retro source material.
While the music industry seems to have no shortage of songstresses with pretty faces, wardrobe idiosyncrasies and distinctive tunes, for my money, that sort of thing is still an acquired taste. Beth Jeans Houghton is as well known for her impressive voice as she is for her wacky costumes, but coupled with her music – a kind of heavily embellished neo folk affair – her vocals, which sound classically trained, come across all billowy and over done. Houghton’s range seems to encompass twee, kitsch and self-consciously pretty (a personal pet peeve) depending on whether she’s being backed by a ukulele, a piano, or a violin etc. Fans of Florence (and her ﬂipping Machine) may absolutely love this record. After all, it is big and ballady and quirky and sweet. Nauseating is another word for it.
(One Little Indian)
By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Feb 6
By Chal Ravens. In stores Jan 30
By Chris Watkeys. In stores Feb 27
Despite being a ﬁfteen years into their career, Canadian psychedelic mentalists Of Montreal seem to be showing no signs of wanting to slow down, this their eleventh album.Their last output, ‘False Priest’, delved heavily into R’n’B, and while ‘Paralytic Stalks’ deﬁnitely features a strong imprint of Motown soul and funk, it’s more of a classic prog record, both in sound and running time, 9 songs lasting an hour. As usual, it’s the brainchild of the band’s main man Kevin Barnes, and is quite a dour one, with tracks like ‘Spiteful Intervention’ and ‘Wintered Debts’ steeped in lyrical bile amid a particularly madcap soundtrack of psychedelia. It was always unlikely that Of Montreal were going to court the mainstream so far into a career that has forever been so resolutely uncompromising, but this time they’re even more bonkers than usual.
Before hearing Dan Sartain’s third album the single track I owned by the Alabama garage rocker was from NME’s 2005 Cool List compilation (which stands up well, I gotta say). It’s a great little tune, with Talking Heads-y vocals over a warm slice of bass-driven new wave. Six years on, I realise I must have missed the party.Was there an alter ego twin-splitting mishap? His doppelganger, the Sartain everyone else seems to be aware of, was also born of early ‘00s NME fads, except swapping poised postpunk for the guttural ruckus of The White Stripes,The Black Keys and other deﬁnitive article monochrome nouns.That clatterclanging blues-punk is here, distilled into 13 sub-two-minute songs, of which ‘Nam Vet’ is pure British grot’n’roll circa ’05 and half of the rest sounds like the Ramones.Which, on balance, is ﬁne by me.
The opening track of Hooray For Earth’s debut LP sits somewhere in the synth-laden no man’s land between MGMT’s hooky pop and Yeasayer’s highly-produced, epictinged indie. It’s a song awash with big drums and a stadium-sized feel – synth-indie with grandiose ambitions. Straight away, though, it feels as if this Boston outﬁt have missed the boat somewhat. ‘Same’ has the distilled essence of 80s pop, with transplanted Tears For Fears vocals; it’s rather sterile and a little one-paced.The chrome-bright melodies, synth stabs and awkward rhythms of ‘No Love’, meanwhile, prove to be the record’s high point, but the problem is that Yeasayer did all of this a couple of years ago. Live, it’s pretty certain that these songs will be energising and enveloping, a brief and disposable slice of euphoria, but on record they amount to something a little too ﬂimsy.
Islet Illuminated People (Turnstile) By Reef Younis. In stores Jan 23
It’s gratifying to hear that Islet’s love for bombastic percussion, shape-shifting soundscapes and deep, woozy, No Wave psychedelics haven’t been diminished with fashioning a full-length album.Where miniefforts ‘Wimmy’ and ‘Celebrate this Place’ hit with the band’s full, often manic force, ‘Illuminated People’ is underpinned by an intense, insistent focus. Still powerfully energised by the band’s freewheeling abandon, it’s an album that ghosts through the genres but not at the 100 mile an hour fury of its predecessors. Post-punk tantrums and druggy, drawnout jams are shaped and slipped into a collective body that’s as rhythmic and volatile as their live show. And from the tremulous beginnings of the gargantuan ‘Libra Man’, gentler pop sensibilities of ‘We Bow’ and the booming, static-drenched drama of ‘Filia’, they’ve stepped back from the chaos and harnessed its energy expertly. Illuminated People? You bet, because on this evidence, their future continues to be a bright one.
LI V E
The New French Revolution
TRANS MUSICALES DE RENNES
Rennes, Brittany, France 07-10/12/11 By Polly Rappaport
Trans Musicales is far from your usual towntakeover music festival. For a start, it’s in the ﬁrst week of December, and it not only turns every bar and pub in town into a venue, there is Parc Expo: a collection of airport hangars outside town, converted into large music halls. It’s also curated by one man, Jean Louis Brossard, who spends the year collecting bands from all over, whether well known or only known to those who’ve seen them playing the back of a pub, and puts them on stage in front of thousands of people which, for some smaller bands, can be the jump-start of their career. It’s an intoxicating experience, weaving from bar to hall in a beautiful city, hearing all manner of music, much of which is unfamiliar, with nothing but choices and possibilities to look forward to for a whole weekend. Upon arrival in Rennes, a small group of us, maps and programmes in hand, head out to the ﬁrst bar of the evening to catch La Femme, a Parisian band with a penchant for black clothes, ‘80s pop and a healthy dose of rock’n’roll.The basement they are playing in is packed out, with
sweaty fans overﬂowing up the narrow stairwell while the ones lucky enough to be in on the action bounce around in the dark as the band throw tune after tune into the crush. Perhaps I’ve just been in London too long, but it seems the French really know how to appreciate their music. A good start. Next stop is another bar in town, with a bit more elbow room, where we catch a set from Crane Angels, who are from Bordeaux but sound like they’ve just swooped in from LA, providing a change of pace with full-bodied, euphoric indie pop, presented in a choral fashion. It’s hard for a shorty like me to see the stage properly, but there appears to be quite a few singers up there.We decide to troop back in the direction of the Trans home-base, where a huge venue, La Liberté, is hosting bands for one night only. Centre stage, grooving his heart out, is London’s very own busker extraordinaire, Louis Floyd Henry (him of the tiny drum kit and skuzzy guitar, usually found on Brick Lane of a Sunday), and it is moments like this that make Trans what it is; little names on massive
stages, big names in more intimate venues, an even playing ﬁeld that’s purely for the enjoyment of music you might otherwise never get to see. Speaking of which, another oneman-band soon takes to the stage, calling himself Capacocha, who seems a bit of an anomaly, perhaps procured more for his sweaty machismo than any discernable talent, unless it’s a talent for the absurd: topless and draped in a pink feather boa, he thrusts about the stage to a backing track, shredding his guitar and spouting gems such as, “This one’s for the ladies,” at one point announcing that he is going to perform “a cover of myself ”. (Variety, folks, embrace it). Spanish group, We Are Standard, eventually drift onto the stage, with the promise that they are there to “soothe you off to sleep”, which, at after 2am, is fair enough. Appropriately, as their electronica-based indie rock kicks in, the somewhat saccharine coating of it does rather suggest that it might be a good idea to try and ﬁnd the hotel. Soothed to sleep or chased to bed, we recharge for the festival’s ﬁrst full day.
01 COLIN STETSON. Pic: Polly Rappaport 02 LEWIS FLOYD HENRY. Pic: Dominique Vrignaud 03 ALEXANDER TUCKER. Pic: Philippe Remond 04 WE ARE STANDARD. Pic: Gwendal Le Flem 05 SHABAZZ PALACES. Pic: Polly Rappaport 06 HOLLIE COOK. Pic: Philippe Remond
HENRY ROLLINS Shefﬁeld City Hall, Shefﬁeld 16.01.2012 By Daniel Dylan Wray ▼
Friday morning, most of which is missed in favour of a lie in and the discovery that, apparently, when the alarm on my phone goes off the phone ends up on the ﬂoor halfway across the room and I end up sleeping through hotel-provided croissants and coffee. Merde. There’s still enough time to see the ﬁrst gig of the day, however, at UBU, a venue that seems to have a permanent queue outside, which is hosting a number of young,French bands.To start are Juveniles, a new wave synth pop band from the country’s capital, very much of the New Order ilk, playing glittering keys over a parping bassline.Their playing is impressively tight, and it’s hard to believe these guys never saw the ’80s.Their single, ‘We Are Young’, is astonishingly authentic and hopelessly catching. After a wander around the town and a bit of excellent street food – a traditional galette saucisse, a sausage wrapped in a buckwheat pancake – it’s time to brave the Parc Expo, reached via shuttle bus. The ﬁrst hall explored contains Hollie Cook, erstwhile of the Slits, who is the walking
deﬁnition of super cute and subtlely sultry, with a sweet, smooth voice, working the stage and hopping about to earthy reggae beats.The audience is all but eating out of her hand. In a smaller hall, we ﬁnd Canadian Colin Stetson, who stands next to two saxophones, one of which is absolutely gigantic.When this unassuming gentleman picks up the larger instrument and begins to play, the room seems to freeze as he doubles in size with each deep breath, bending and bowing, rocking hypnotically to the ethereal ﬂutters and drones and deep, primal growls emanating from his shiny horn. He’s followed by Alexander Tucker of the UK, who is similarly possessed by his music, weaving about a long table of switches and knobs, blending a series of organic sounds and his own sweet falsetto into something bordering on celestial. Saturday starts back at UBU, with 50 Miles From Vancouver, a French group somewhat evocative of Vampire Weekend, both in vocal style and in their chiming guitar sound.Their melodies and lyrics, though, tend towards the
Rollins may now be in his ﬁfties, but he is a self-proclaimed “Work Slut” packing in close to 200 shows a year and traveling the world extensively, ﬁtting in a never ending quest for information and cultural nourishment on his days off.The most recent results of these journeys manifest themselves into ‘The Long March’ – his latest tour – a near three-hour, non-stop, no interval, verbal assault.While it may sound exhausting, it is actually alarmingly refreshing.Years and years spent in front of an audience has created a balanced, understanding and considerate performer of Rollins, who balances his lighter, anecdotal material of early Black Flag days and shenanigans with his more recent exploits to such places as the disaster struck Haiti, North Korea, Iran and Vietnam, with an undercurrent of angst and political disillusionment never far from the surface, the material often ﬂuctuating between the hilarious and the heart breaking. He is still as enigmatic as ever, funny, manic, intense and occasionally frightening, but also reﬂective and deeply impassioned. Rollins proves he doesn’t need the power of a band behind him to make a noise, at this inspirational encounter.
shoegazy, and the edges are fuzzed, like they’re caught between the east and west coasts of America. Back out at the air hangars, Zomby, a UK based DJ who seriously values his anonymity (no one is allowed photos of him, even with his ‘V’ mask on), is moving calmly about his decks, deftly mixing UK garage with dubstep and a bit of grime, surveying the crowd, whom he has in a trance, as he swigs from a bottle of champagne and rolls a continuous supply of spliffs, nodding with the tracks. A few halls over Shabazz Palaces are dropping track after track of high energy hip-hop and R&B, giving it all to the audience, who have yet to ﬂag after three very full-on days in a veritable whirlwind of music. Sunday is home day, and so we bundle on to the train back to Paris. By the time we hit London,Trans Musicales is already starting to feel like a long, adventurous dream but for the long list of new bands discovered, and the aching legs that carried us around the many venues of Rennes. It’s not your typical towntakeover festival; it’s far more adventurous than that.You should go.
THE LEMONHEADS The Lexington, Angel, Manchester 07.12.2011 By Daniel Dylan Wray ▼
Playing their 1992 seminal album ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’ for the second time in six years, tonight The Lemonheads feel very much like they are running through the motions more than they are breathing new life into the album or its concept.They play it in order with almost workmanlike, bored precision, completely void of any gusto, ﬂair or enthusiasm in their performance, the only thing keeping it alive being the rudimentary, delightful qualities of the songs themselves, which still sound like pop delights after all these years. Ocassiona-lly, Evan Dando performs solo, playing
The Rapture. Pic: Guy Eppel
almost always very brief renditions of sweeter songs, such as ‘All My Life’, ‘Being Around’ and ‘The Outdoor Type’, and while hearing his stoner mumble still resonate a warmth and endearing quality, it feels like every measure is being taken to wrap this show up as quickly as is possible. And so, for all the dead-eyed precise performances tonight, the most frustrating element lies in how enjoyable it is to hear the songs themselves, the quality often eclipsing the apathy on display. Sadly, one wishes, hopes and truthfully deserves a little more from a performance, because this does nothing to quash those ideas that nostalgia show are all about the cash.
FOALS / TOM VEK Store Street, Manchester 30.12.2011 By Omar Tanti ▼
Psychic Dancehall. Pic: Cochi Esse
Cymbals Eat Guitars. Pic: Jason Williamson
If you’re reading this in Manchester then, respect. Sydney’s usually the ﬁrst city to light the ﬁreworks and welcome in each new year with a sozzled smile, but this being the third to last gig ever at Store Street means that in these parts it starts a full 28 hours early. To give it the kiss-off it deserves, ﬁfteen hundred northerners hand in their minds with their jackets at the cloakroom as man-with-asampler Chad Valley gets things off to a solid start with his Balearic pop – wedding-cake layered like Delorean and Animal Collective. Tom Vek couldn’t have an easier job on his hands. Everyone is up for it (and/or out of it), and from the opening thwangs of ‘Aroused’ the place is shaking. ‘A Chore’ and ‘We Do Nothing’ meanwhile nestle comfortably next to old friends like ‘C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)’. It’s early morning by now and Foals are out to ﬁnish everyone off with a similar set to the one they spent much of 2010 playing. Disappointingly there’s no new material, and the venue has clearly been over-sold, but when tracks from the 18-month-year-old ‘Total Life Forever’ still ﬁzzle, crackle and sparkle even the crush is forgotten. It’s carnage by the closing ‘Two Steps,Twice’, although amongst the chaos you’d imagine it’s the way Store Street would have wanted to go.
CYMBALS EAT GUITARS The Garage, Highbury, London 05.01.2012 By Chal Ravens ▼
One strain of American rock that’s never quite made a successful transition into British music is the sub genre known, in typically contradictory fashion, as ‘slacker rock’: superﬁcially loose yet nerdily exacting, hyper-literate yet loves to play dumb, boisterously poppy yet with guitars always a smidge out of tune. Staten Island band Cymbals Eat Guitars, who put out their second album ‘Lenses Alien’ last August, have added their own generation’s angsty inﬂections to a marginal update on the suburban slacker sound, so instead of slouchy Gen-X ennui their live performance ripples with the muscular professionalism of a small town band with its eye on the prize. Singer Joe D’Agostino switches from a sing to a scream, with not so much the geek-goespostal attitude of Stephen Malkmus as with the gelled ﬁnesse of Dave Grohl, while keys, bass and drums provide a heavyweight backdrop like a houseful of Modest Mice. Clever, unpredictable songs with clever, cryptic lyrics don’t always register in a noisy lowceilinged room, but the dedicated air-punchers at the front suggest that CEG’s killer tour schedule and word-of-blog buzz is paying off, little by little. Recession era music, eh? Even the slackers are working too hard.
THE RAPTURE Rowan’s Bowling Lanes, London 12.12.2011 By Phil Dixon ▼
Tonight’s gig presents a challenge, and not just because of the corporate logos, camera rigs and competition winners shoehorned into a tiny space by Rowans’ bowling lanes.This is a prime opportunity to gauge fan reaction to The Rapture’s new, moredance-less-indie-disco direction in a set comprised of old and new material. Set opener and ‘In the Grace of Your Love’ dips its toe in cautiously, with a slower pace and synth solo. It’s the ﬁrst of an opening trio of tracks from the
band’s new album that steadily build up the tempo and showcase the album’s slower-paced numbers, but they attract little more than polite head bobbing from most. Unsurprisingly, the biggest reactions are saved for the indelible, unashamed party tunes like ‘Whoo! Alright,Yeah… Uh-huh’ and, of course, a rambunctious rendition of ‘House of Jealous Lovers’, before new songs like ‘Come Back to Me’, with its gospel-tinged refrain, and ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’ with its earworm-laying piano hook, show a natural and intelligent progression in inﬂuences from 70s disco/funk to 90s dance. Don’t be surprised if these pioneers of punk-funk blaze a whole new trail.
PSYCHIC DANCEHALL The Shacklewell Arms, London 11.01.2012 By Austin Laike ▼
With Charles Rowell assuring us, “don’t worry, we won’t play many more”, and forever pointing out that tonight is a free-entry show, after all, you’d think that Psychic Dancehall’s ﬁrst (and possibly last, on their own insistence) show is a complete bust. It isn’t.The room is full and people cheer after each bleached-out bit of sleaze, compiled of one keyboard, one drum machine, one woozy guitar and a bunch of samples from old records. Rowell’s misjudgement is possibly due to the fact that we’re all looking through him and partner Hollie Cook, and at the band’s looped projections of girls of the ’60s.They sum up the band’s music pretty perfectly, ﬁrst encompassing the photogenic glamour and nostalgic beauty of a golden age, then its carefree kitsch-ness as the girls roll around ﬁelds topless, then its mucky, inevitable conclusion as ﬂashes of neon strip club signs accompany the band’s brashest song, the reggae bumping ‘Long Lost Lover’. Rowell does most of the singing, in a mock cabaret/ pissed Leonard Cohen drool, while Cook’s oohs and ahhs are best on ‘Sylvia of The Flower’ – the band’s most sedated (and they’re all pretty stoned) and best song.They leave to a dub-heavy ‘Hit The Road Jack’, even if plenty of us were quite happy watching vintage erotica to their retro wall of sound.
FILM By IAN ROEBUCK
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer Director: David Fincher
Charlize Theron in Young Adult
Cinema Preview 2012: It’s not all going to be about the blockbusters, y’know ---Prequels, sequels, reboots and remakes. On the surface, 2012 will be an exhausting re-run of the last decade; a victory lap for noughties cinema and no doubt another hoorah for Peter Jackson as he ﬁnally gives us part one of The Hobbit with the help of Martin Freeman as the pensively staring Bilbo Baggins. Joining them in the battle of the box ofﬁce will be Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spiderman, the latter of which appears to have Jacksona-like, all-star cast,Tom Hardy’s Bane surely too gravely-voiced for most and Rhys Ifans’The Lizard too… well, let’s wait and see. Pick your way through the blockbuster rubble and a few gems do shine through, though. Jason Reitman has been nothing but unpredictable since starting out in the director’s chair and Young Adult looks to be as whip-smart as his previous efforts, Thank You For Smoking, Juno and Up In The Air. Once again, he teams up with Juno writer Diablo Cody to produce an upside down tale of a high school prized pupil returning to her old haunts, Charlize Theron in the lead. The Great Gatsby, meanwhile, must have been tempting for many a director through the years, but it’s Baz Luhrmann who’s ﬁnally picked up the mantle, his skewed vision a potentially perfect tone for Fitzgerald’s salacious story, and with Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan on board next Christmas can’t come
quick enough. Perhaps one of the most striking ﬁlms of recent years, Dogtooth dazzled with its audacious dark humour and startling plot, so it’s exciting to see Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos poised for his return, this time with a ghost story of sorts as Alps explores notions of mortality and loss in ways only he knows how. Quentin Tarantino is back too, with his ﬁrst feature since 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. Hardly a wallﬂower, this year will see the auteur run headlong at slavery with Amistad. Starring Jamie Foxx as an escaped slave and DiCaprio (he’s everywhere this year) as the hate ﬁgure (a plantation boss with no scruples), we expect this number to be no holds barred, which goes for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master too – a ﬁlm that’s rumoured to be his viewpoint on Scientology, starring old muse Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but deﬁnitely not old Magnolia pal Tom Cruise. And while all of this going on, 2012 could also shape up to be the year of the odd couple. Always a pleasure if not always a success, an unexpected partnership can work wonders, like, say, Devito and Schwarzenegger in Twins. Perhap Terrence Malick and Ben Afﬂeck will be equally as effective together – they’re currently working on a yet untitled project and Malick’s ﬁrst since the brilliant The Tree of Life. As for the in-post-production Cosmopolis, that combines the killer David Cronenberg with, erm, Robert Pattinson. And, hey, it could work – Pattinson playing Eric Packer, a multimillionaire on a 24-hour odyssey across Manhattan, will surely come easier than playing a vampire.
If you’re used to crime novelist Stieg Larsson’s ‘softly, softly’ approach to storytelling, where plot pile drivers unravel at their own pace, then David Fincher’s remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo will pinch in the opening few frames. A hugely unnecessary Bond-like title sequence lopes off the screen as your ears get bashed about by Trent Reznor, pointing that just because Daniel Craig’s in the ﬁlm it doesn’t mean we need liquid nitrogen females introducing who made it. Fincher sets his stall out from the off, with everything tweaked up a notch – this girl’s going to bite harder and faster than Niels Arden Oplev’s did just three years ago, and we’re coming along for the ride whether we like it or not. What this means we get is Bond as Mikael Blomkvist, one of Stockholm’s best investigative journalists (you can tell by Craig’s incessant glasses ‘tick’ that he so clumsily provides) and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth, the tattooed hacker with an attitude as sharp has her fringe. Both are embroiled in the now familiar missing person’s case that takes in serial killers, Nazi sympathisers and some serious Stockholm scenery. It somehow works. After settling into the frenetic pace, Craig’s (un)easy charm and Mara’s quietly cutting Lisbeth, Fincher manages to carry us through a relentless opening hour. All the sparse, steady detail and subtlety of the original is sucked out, leaving you gasping for air, but the ﬁlm we’re left with is vital and raw. Fincher knew Mara could play feisty ever since he hired her for Social Network to terrorise Mark Zuckerberg as an angry ex girlfriend, and here she ﬂirts expertly with the extreme. Her sexual menace motivated by years of abuse, the character is both brittle and ﬁerce and played to perfection. Fincher also knew that Lisbeth’s desire to bring down the bad guys was because of her horriﬁc past, so we get more back story, more sexual brutality and an emotional wallop unlike the original ﬁlm. It’s certainly not better, but this is a remake that ﬁnally serves a purpose.
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PARTY WOLF CROSS WORDS An angry puzzle 2.
THE PRIZE Pride doesn’t count, I suppose, so we’ll give you a year’s subscription to Loud And Quiet Digital and a copy of our I AM V 12-inch record.That’s a prize draw with a cash equivalent of £15!
THE IDEA Answer the clues to ﬁll in the crossword.Then, once you’ve got them all, arrange them to form a speciﬁc sentence, or, in this case, two. Email it to email@example.com by February 13th to be entered into our price draw.
Down: 1. Here’s our Blur guitarist with a quick reminder. (6) 2.Was Phil Collin serious when he released his 989 album ‘...But ______’? (9) 3. Jerry Springer had the cheek to have a ﬁnal one of these after each of his toothless halfwitbaiting shows. (7) 5.The chances are the guy at PC world tried to sell you this with your computer to keep it safe from Trogons, whatever they are. (6) 6. I used to own this album on tape. It’s by Echobelly. (2)
9. I wish Ricky Tomlinson would stop going on about his ______. (4) 11. Quite simply a female sheep. (3) 13. A word repeated to name David Weiss’ Detroit pop band of the 1980s and 90s. (3) 16. If only Elvis Costello sang songs about boys. (2) 17.The most interesting thing about The Cooper Temple Clause, minus the ﬁnal letter. (3) Across: 2. Remember Blood Red Shoes? They were always so bored by this. (3) 4. Forget stains, trust pink. (6) 7.The Queen of Pop might look 20 but don’t touch her face or it will fall off. (7) 8.What’s a good clue for To? (2) 10. Half of Pulp’s second album belonged to them. (3-) 11. Liam’s got a beady one. (3) 12. Blink 182 live album from 2000, ‘The Mark, Tom and Travis ______’. (4) 15.The ______ – Johnny Marr’s band from 1988 until 1994. 18. Antiques quiz show broadcast by the BBC from 1965-1977. ‘_______ for a song’. (5) 19. R.E.M.’s album from 1998. (2)
GET THE LOOK Dress like someone famous
TOOL OF THE MONTH
Don’t for a second think that I can sum up my look in one short paragraph. I mean,WHICH look do you want to know about? Vogue? Leotard gran? The desert one with the crow? Not the cowboy, surely? You get what I’m saying, right? Seeing as I’ve not got all day, I thought I’d pick a personal favourite – my understated girl-next-door-no-make-upneeded look. Like all my best ideas, this one came to me via fate (I’m spiritual). I’d been ﬁlming Se7en with Brad – where I played Sloth – and as I stepped off the set, of course, FLASH, FLASH, FLASH – paps are snapping away. Next day I’m all over the papers, and, as my PA told me, they’re loving how young I look for 39. A look was born, like the time I fell asleep eating a couple of Walnut Whips.
“Let the hotdog see the bun.” “Let the lady see the gaga.” “Let the sausage see the roll.”What the fuck is Paddy Mcguinness talking about? Let the ﬁst see the arse.
Games!!! Do you two like games? Girls? You still there?
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely ﬁctitious.
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Kwes / Prinzhorn Dance School / Guided By Voices / Hookworms / Perfume Genius / Peaking Lights / Flamingods / Sunless ’97 / Shabazz Palaces
Published on Aug 1, 2012
Kwes / Prinzhorn Dance School / Guided By Voices / Hookworms / Perfume Genius / Peaking Lights / Flamingods / Sunless ’97 / Shabazz Palaces