LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 39 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
PINS THE MEMORIES JESSIE WARE DIRTY PROJECTORS BEAK> NICK GARRIE SEX IS DISGUSTING RIP
M I C AC H U OFF TO NEVER NEVER LAND
CONTENTS J U LY 2 0 1 2
09 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TH IS WAS TH E ON E STUART STUBBS IS A STONE ROSES FAN, BUT HE WON’T BE ENCOURAGING THE REUNION THIS MONTH
10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRACK / E PS / BOOKS THE MONTH’S SINGLES, EP AND PAGE-TURNERS, FEATURING CRAFT SPELLS AND ALLUNAGEORGE
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY GABRIEL GREEN
12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LE FTO V E RS ALT-J ASK HUDSON MOHAWKE IF HE’S HEARD OF A MCGANGBANG
SEX IS DISG USTI NG RI P . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 NATHAN WESTLEY BIDS FAREWELL TO DIY PROMOTERS/LABEL THAT LEAD THE DIY RESURGENCE
J ESSI E WARE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 FOOTBALL JORNALISM’S LOSS IS ONE OF MODERN RNB’S GREATEST GAINS
EDITOR - STUART STUBBS ART DIRECTOR - LEE BELCHER SUB EDITOR - ALEX WILSHIRE FILM EDITOR - PHILIPPA STUBBS ADVERTISING ADVERTISE@LOUDANDQUIET.COM
B EAK> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 IT’S FUN TO BE AWKWARD
TH E M E MORI ES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 GIRLS ARE COOLER THAN DRUGS
P I NS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 MANCHESTER’S YOUNG CREATIVES ARE FINALLY SHAKING OFF THE CITY’S LEGENDARY MUSICAL HERITAGE
DI RTY P ROJ ECTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 DAVID LONGSTRETH TALKS DANIEL DYLAN WRAY THROUGH HIS BAND’S SIXTH ALBUM, SPEAKINGING MOSTLY IN RIDDLES
M ICACH U . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 INSIDE HER DOCKSIDE SHIPPING CONTAINER STUDIO, MICA LEVI REMAINS AVANT-POP’S MOST LAWLESS STAR
N ICK GARRI E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 THE EXTRAORDINARY TALE OF A LOST MASTERPIECE THAT GATHERED DUST FROM ITS INCEPTION IN 1969 UNTIL 2005
LOUD AND QUIET PO BOX 67915 LONDON NW1W 8TH
CONTRIBUTORS BART PETTMAN, CARL PARTRIDGE, CHAL RAVENS, CHRIS WATKEYS, COCHI ESSE, DANIEL DYLAN WRAY, DANNY CANTER, DAVID SUTHERAN, DK GOLDSTIEN, ELINOR JONES, ELLIOT KENNEDY, EDGAR SMITH, FRANKIE NAZARDO, GARETH ARROWSMITH, JANINE BULLMAN, LEE BULLMAN, KATE PARKIN, KELDA HOLE, GABRIEL GREEN, GEMMA HARRIS, LEON DIAPER, LUKE WINKIE, MANDY DRAKE, MATTHIAS SCHERER, NATHAN WESTLEY, OWEN RICHARDS, OLLY PARKER, PAVLA KOPECNA, POLLY RAPPAPORT, PHIL DIXON, PHIL SHARP, REEF YOUNIS, SAMUEL BALLARD, SAM WALTON, SONIA MELOT, SONNY MCCARTNEY, TIM COCHRANE, TOM PINNOCK, TOM WARNER THIS MONTH L&Q LOVES BE AYRES, JENNY MYLES, JODIE BANASZKIEWICZ, SIMON KEELER, 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 2012 LOUD AND QUIET. ISSN 2049-9892 PRINTED BY SHARMAN & COMPANY LTD.
36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ALBUMS FILMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 PURITY RING, TWIN SHADOW, PEAKING LIGHTS, MAC DEMARCO AND ALL THE MONTH’S KEY RELEASES
PHILIPPA STUBBS LOOKS AHEAD TO BFI’S HITCHCOCK SEASON WITH HER TOP THREE MOVIES
42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LI V E PARTY W OLF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 THE CURE, DOLDRUMS, CROCODILES, METRONOMY, POLICA, WAVVES & MORE
THE INAPPROPRIATE WORLD OF IAN BEALE / WIN 1234 SHOREDITCH TICKETS / MY TIME / IDIOT PARADE
WELCOME J U LY 2 0 1 2
In our new digi world of iTunes multi-genres, everything is labelled and neatly filed. It groups the similar but also magnifies the diverse – and opposites are everywhere, even when it seems like they’re not. Take Loud And Quiet, for example – a pretty bloodyminded magazine about alternative new music that you used to be able to call ‘indie’. It’s not like we’re NUTS, where every week it’s a Big Boob Special, but we don’t discuss jazz fusion one issue and One Direction the next either. Look closer though – amongst the hundreds of seemingly cookie-cutter garage bands, electronic bedroom producers, hip-hop artists and alt. pop acts – and the nuances are always there, even within our relatively narrow, desired field of modern music. There’s always a heads to a tails, and within issue 39 spotting them is perhaps easier than ever. We’ve got a bit of everything this month, from the unquenchable, creative appetite of David Longstreth to the no-fi ways of Portland’s love-stoned sons-of-simplicity The Memories; from the purposefully awkward (Longstreth again) to the positively approachable (London RnB songstress and nicest person in the world, Jessie Ware); from the mechanical and cold South (BEAK>) to human and warm North (Pins); from the dead (the last hurrah of Brighton label and promoters Sex Is Disgusting) to the living (everyone else). As for our cover star, Mica Levi, her avant-pop with fulltime band The Shapes seems opposite to everything – previously created with hoovers as much as the hip-hop beats she loves, today channelling The Only Way Is Essex and sampling transvestites in heels on new album ‘Never’. Like Ware, she’s welcoming company; like Longstreth she doesn’t think like typical musicians at all, but rather like a mad, sonic scientist, and people either love or hate her results for it. Most unique, though, is the story of Nick Garrie. His debut album, ‘The Nightmare of JB Stanislas’, featured at number three in our end of year pole 2010. It had been made in 1969, featuring a 57piece orchestra, only to be more or less shelved on account of his label boss killing himself days after its scheduled release. A few weeks ago he finally got to play those songs at Primavera Sound, and we’re happy to say we were there to discuss them and his extraordinary story with him.
CONTRI B UTOR
S A M WA LT ON WRITER
Sam has been one of our resident DJs at our club night HOME since it began, which, okay, was only three months ago. A slightly more impressive feat is that he’s quite possibly Loud And Quiet’s longest suffering writers, getting on the bus nearly 7 years ago. He spent at least twenty minutes of the last month being told off by David Longstreth in order to bring you a clearer picture of what’s inside the brain of the much-admired Dirty Projectors frontman. Turns out – who knew? – he’s not much of a phone person, or much of a people person either, so thank God he’s got a solid gold brain for music. A far happier experience was chatting to BEAK> – a band containing, among others, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow – who make doomy, monochrome krautrock and yet still profess to ﬁnd the whole experience “fun”. Wonders never cease.
COVER SHOOT: MICACHU, EAST INDIA DOCK, LONDON, ENGLAND BY GABRIEL GREEN 30 MAY 2012
jasmine scratchy found of scratchy records
R I P
1995? - 2012
BEGINNING J U LY 2 0 1 2
AMERICAN BOY / TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE BY LUKE WINKIE: OUR MAN IN BAR ACK ’S BACK YARD
Illustration by Gareth Arrowsmith - www.garetharrowsmith.blogspot.com
THIS WAS THE ONE STUART STUBBS IS A STONE ROSES FAN, BUT HE WILL NOT BE ENCOURAGING THE REUNION
FROM ACROSS THE ATLANTIC, THE JUBILEE LOOKED JUST AS RIDICULOUS YET HONOURABLE
Until now I’ve held my tongue over the reformation of all of yesterday’s bands, but particularly The Stone Roses. A lot like The Spice Girls, Blur never actually ‘split up’, not like Take That did, with a press conference and a special Samaritans hotline for grieving teens. Pulp did, but I probably like them even more now than I did in 1996. Oasis did, and I deﬁnitely like them less now than I did in 1996. As for the Roses, I’m one of those few fans who thinks that going to see them is a terrible idea, although not for the usual diatribe that Ian Brown might sing ﬂat and a record made 23 years ago might sound better at home. For me, the Roses’ legacy was damned long before they played a note in Warrington last month; the grand mythology of a long lost great British band shot as soon as they said yes. For all the usual jeering about money, it’d be naïve to say that we wouldn’t do the same. If anything, all four members have done pretty well to turn down the cash for this long, and thanks to the bum deal they signed the ﬁrst time around it’s about time they got paid what they’re owed. For Brown, especially, I believe it is more of a musical quest than a monetary one, even if that was him telling Zane Lowe a couple of years ago that if the band got back together “you’ll know I’ve sold my arse big time, sat in a mansion”. So I don’t care about the money and I don’t care about the fact that they might sound diabolical, not least because very few audience members (myself included, were I to go) aren’t old enough to have an old Roses show to compare it to. I care about that fact that the great missed opportunity of The Stone Roses is no longer that at all, in the face of being a fan (and I really am) who never got to see them. It’s a romantic ideal, but romantic ideals propel popular music as much as the songs themselves, and even though it all went to shit quite spectacularly, the history of The Stone Roses (six years, two albums, one good, one not good) is (or was) unusually neat for a band not pulled apart by an untimely, real death. At least once a month we hear of how The Smiths are next, and God, I hope not. It once looked like the Roses were the last bastion of common sense, in terms of valuing legacy and your own place in history over attention and glory, if not capital gain; it turns out they were the penultimate lot. Rather worryingly is that you can never second guess Morrissey – a man who’s stubbornness is only outweighed by his need to be adored. Speaking of which, 30,000 Kasabian fans bellowing the hits of The Stone Roses is my most deﬁnite reason to skip the reunion shows, and as YouTube footage of Warrington conﬁrmed, that’s exactly what’s in store.
I didn’t know what a Diamond Jubilee was until a few weeks ago; in fact, I probably would’ve guessed it was some obscure, up-its-own-ass pudding or something. Americans blow off ﬁreworks to please the closest thing we have to mythic royalty on the Fourth of July; Britons line up countless, slow-moving boats in slushy weather to the apparent, complete indifference of a powerless Queen. Chuckling at goofy traditions is more or less irrelevant, simply because we’re all pretty much guilty, but my god was that hopelessly breathless 5-hour television commentary ripe for Daily Show sniping. That whole awkward relationship with the Royal Family is pretty interesting from afar, perhaps primarily because such harmless, long-standing tradition usually doesn’t have massive amounts of money involved. The Europeans I’ve gotten to know always have a certain guarded appraisal – yes, the media circus around daytime television fodder like The Royal Wedding is both horrifying and hilarious from any perspective, but it’s a proud legacy no matter which way you slice it. The fact that you’ve kept a concrete lineage that traces through easily the most fabled periods of Western Civilization deserves a little magic; I think even the most cynical can admit that. Game of Thrones, Dragon Age: Origins, hell, World of Warcraft – it all comes from real-life legends. Queen Elizabeth is walking proof. Don’t be afraid to think that’s pretty cool. I guess it comes down to patriotism, something that can be a dirty word if you’re rolling with the wrong crowd. Love of country and history are such abstract concepts, but from my viewpoint the Queen is like a constant reminder. The debates about the persistence of royalty cut right to those identiﬁcation issues. Frankly, I can’t ever claim to understand those debates – it ain’t in my blood. Americans don’t grow up with anything even remotely close to a Royal tradition. The tabloids pick on much more obvious fruit. The cheesy Mount Rushmore pantheon was the closest we came to turning our presidents into kings. Observing the Jubilee is an alien experience, simply because I have no point of reference. What I do know is that I spent at least 20 minutes on the couch, with my English-immigrant Dad, watching the rain piss down on thousands of Union Jack-donned constituents, smiling, being British, and in a small way, ﬁnding fulﬁlment. Oh, the hoity-toity radical-politic column-narrating big shots like to call them sheep and slander the mental capacity of everyone caught up in the hoopla, but we never stop to think that these folk don’t take themselves too seriously, and simply ﬁnd some joy in knowing their history and upkeep can still be represented in a carbon life form.
BLUR NEVER ACTUALLY ‘SPLIT UP’, NOT LIKE TAKE THAT DID
BEGINNING SINGLES & EPS / BOOKS 01 BY L EE B U L L M A N
CR AF T SPELLS GALLERY (CAPTURED TRACKS) JUNE 25
There’s a good chance that we’ve featured this new EP from California’s Craft Spells on the wrong page. At six tracks long, featuring songs that regularly bother the 5-minute mark, ‘Gallery’ outlives many a snappy LP from our iTunes age. There is just one (perhaps two) sounds that are constantly traversed here though, so perhaps that makes it ok. Essentially the solo project of Cali kid Justin Vallesteros, Craft Spells quite clearly listens to a lot of New Order and a little of The Radio Dept.. Musically, ‘Gallery’ is a homage to the former, dealing heavily in glittering sequencers and proto indie disco, the Factory Records way. ‘Sun Trails’, for example, particularly sounds a hell of a lot like ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’. Vallesteros stops short of Bernard Sumner’s deadened, Northern halfdrone though, which is where The Radio Dept. come in, inspiring the fuzzed out vocals. Craft Spells probably won’t mind being pulled up on it – it’s too blatant to be underhand, and works too well to be a slap in the face. By the closing title track, Vallesteros has messed with the winning formula, but before then the dancing melancholia of ‘Still Left With Me’ and nostalgic, teenage runaway ‘Warmth’ remind us what it is to be 15 again… listening to New Order.
P IG IR ON B Y BE N J A MIN M Y E R S (BLUEMOOSE BOOKS LTD)
Benjamin Myers, the writer responsible for The Book of Fuck and Richard, the novel which offered a ﬁctionalized account of the life of Richy Manic, is back this month with Pig Iron, his most vivid and accomplished work yet. Myers’ third novel is set within the closed and dangerous world of the travelling community, speciﬁcally the highly illegal bare-knuckle boxing scene. As always with this authors’ writing, brutality and beauty coexist easily on the page and remind us that in a market swamped by teenage vampire bullshit and ghost-written celebrity bios, there are still original and urgent voices out there creating new and exciting ﬁction.
A L UN A GE OR GE Y OU K NO W Y OU L IK E I T E P
ALL AH-L AS T E L L ME
(TRI ANGLE) OUT NOW
(INNOVATIVE LEISURE) OUT JULY 2
Ten years ago, Mike Skinner did something equally simple and revolutionary – he stopped rapping in an American accent. Giving hip-hop (not grime) a British voice is The Streets’ true legacy, even if it did spawn a heap of Dick Van Dyke MCs chit-chatting about Tesco. Aluna Francis and producer George Reid are no doubt products of that butterﬂy effect, and now they’re doing a similar thing with regards to the current US RnB love-in we’re experiencing. Francis’ LDN vocals on the duo’s new three-track EP – like Skinner’s – are unquestionably English and just as likely to split mockney opinion. Sounding cuter than a cross between CBBC character Paloma Faith and Lykke Li, it is a little hard to stomach, but Reids’ bumble bee, dub-bass and Game Boy ﬂourishes, although syrup-thick themselves, bitter the otherwise saccharine pill. Too innocent to be typically ‘RnB sexy’, it’s what makes AlunaGeorge a little different.
Black Lips used to have this stage trick where one of their motley dickheads would piss in his own mouth. I think it was to pull focus from them pilfering The Stones’ circa 1965. The Allah-Las need to top up their ﬂuids, because ‘Tell Me’ – and particularly its title track – sure does emulate the early R&B sound of Keith Richards’ clanking, clean guitar, Mick Jagger’s calmly-predatory, mellow whine and Charlie Watts’ swinging backbeat. Of course, the Stones were ripping off their Old Country heroes too, and at least The Allah-Las are from the States (the West Coast). Adding a twist of vintage surf to the completely groovy ‘Catamaran’, they come across as Black Lips’ stoner twins in many ways; free and easy beach bums to the Lips’ pissed-up (pun intended), wild cowboys. Maybe that makes them saps in the dirty world of rock’n’roll, or perhaps the most authentic don’t need a mouthful of urine to be shamelessly retro.
L&Q: How does one get from Richey Edwards to Pig Iron? BM: “I tend to write about alienated people – whether loners, sensitive souls or sociopaths – so the leap from a novelisation of a deeply depressed pop star’s life to a book about a young victimised traveller wasn’t too huge to make.” Has leaving London affected what you write about or how you write? “In London I worked in the music industry as a journalist, where a lot of myth-making goes on, but where you’re restricted by editors and house styles and endless breaking tsunamis of bullshit. Moving back to the north after 15 years away possibly reconnected me with some of the stories I remember growing up, and the varied landscapes of mountains, moors, run-down farms. I’m still inspired by music though, and try and apply a sort of punk-inspired energy to my writing. Also, London robs every penny from your pocket.” How would you sum up Pig Iron? “It explores the legacy of violence left by a legendary bare knuckle boxing traveller and his son’s attempts to break free from it. It’s set against the backdrop of a post-industrial north-east town in the late 1990s and therefore indirectly considers the aftereffects of Thatcherism – poverty, sink estates, prejudice – but it is also about ﬁnding solace and redemption in nature. And it is about the height of summer. There is hope there.”
Single reviews by John Ford / Sam Little Blowback by Lee Bullman and Michael Forwell published by Pan Macmillan available now. www.leebullman.com
A Q+A WITH BENJAMIN MYERS
BEGINNING LE FTO V E RS
LAST MONTH WE INTERVIEWED ALT-J THEY LEFT THESE QUERIES BEHIND FOR HUDSON MOHAWKE
You’re about to release ‘TNGHT’. How did that come about, then? “We’d been talking about doing something for a while, but we never tried too hard to make it happen. Then, we both happened to be in London last summer with a few days off, so we met up and messed around – it wasn’t something we intended to release, but we gave some tracks to some friends and then it ended up on YouTube and it just took off.” How did you ﬁnd working as part of a collaboration? “Well, I’ve tried to do some collaborations before, which have worked to some extent, but they never really fell into place – it’s always been a little bit strange because I like to be just sat in a room on my own, just working. I’m too hands on, too much of a perfectionist to let anyone else pull something in a different direction. With TNGHT we were just having fun, so we weren’t perfectionists about it. We had a load of drinks and just pissed about.” What do you have on your rider? “Hmmm, nothing that interesting, I’m afraid. I used to have single pear. Other than that I just have a lot of ginger beer, because I’m a ginger beer addict, two bottles of vodka, some cigarettes… and the pear.”
If you go to McDonald’s what do you order? Have you heard of a McGangBang? It’s a chicken burger inside a double cheeseburger. “I never go to McDonalds. Never! I’ve heard of the Double Down, which is a KFC thing where the bun is made from chicken and then in the centre is cheese and bacon. I think that’s only in America though. I’ve tried that one before, but I’m not into McDonald’s or Burger King.” At MIDI Festival last year Gus’ parents thought you were R. Stevie Moore. Any thoughts? “Ha ha! I take that as a compliment. That was actually the ﬁrst time I’d ever seen him, but I was a fan, yeah.”
“IF THE WORLD WAS ABOUT TO END I’D OVERDOSE ON MANGO RUBICON”
What equipment do you use for your live sets? “At the moment I’ve got this nice, handmade set-top, which I’ve been using for a while, and an iPad. That’s about it. But I’ve just started doing shows with a lighting engineer, so I’ve got a bit of a light show now too.” Do you tour alone? “No, I never travel alone. I know people that do that, but I just can’t do it - I hate it. I’m such a ﬂake that I’d just end up getting all depressed. Lunice travels alone actually, and he does really long tours, which is something else I don’t do. He’s always doing six-week-long tours and stuff like that, and
I fucking hate doing that. The most I’ve ever done was two weeks and that was bad enough. It’s kind of the opposite of being in the studio because then I love being on my own. We DJ’d in London recently and we played ‘Thunder Bay’. What are your ﬂoor ﬁllers? “Let me see… in terms of classic stuff, Outkast’s ‘International Players Anthem’, is always a good one – it’s a proper anthemic one that’s good for the end. Anita Baker too, and sometimes Luther Vandross and Mystikal.” Do you have any brothers or sisters? “I have 3 sisters.” Do you have a recipe you’d like to share? “I made lobster for the ﬁrst time last year. I bought two lobsters and thought that before I cook them I’ll let them have one last little swim around before then, so I ﬁlled the sink up with water, but didn’t realise that fresh water is completely toxic to lobsters, so it actually drowned them. In trying to give them one last bit of fun I accidently ended up giving them a slow, horriﬁc, painful death. That’s not a recipe perhaps, more a recipe for a fucking disaster.” Your house is on ﬁre. Your family is dead. But you’ve enough time to grab one of your own records – which would it be? “I’m not sure which it would be of my own that I’ve made, because usually by the time stuff gets released that I’ve made I’m completely sick of it, so I’d let them burn. If I could grab one of the records I own it’d probably be a jazz-fusion record, or something like that. George Duke, or something.” The world is about to end and everyone’s decided to give up and take drugs. What would you take? “Probably Mango Rubicon. I’d overdose on Mango Rubicon… washed down with a pear.” ---‘TNGHT’ is out July 23rd, preceded by a live show at Village Underground, London, on June 21st.
Photography by Phil Sharp / Owen Richards
We shouldn’t really be too surprised that Alt-J are fans of Hudson Mohawke (25-year-old Glaswegian Ross Birchard to his friends and family). Alt-J have been dodging pigeonholes for the best part of a year, combining poignant folk, electronica and bass music to create their oddly accessible debut album, ‘An Awesome Wave’; HudMo has been bafﬂing fans of turntablism since he became the youngest ever DMC ﬁnalist at the age of 15. In the decade that’s passed, he’s signed to Warp and released ‘Butter’ in 2009 – a solitary, bedroomproduced album that’s still to be surpassed by anyone you care to mention who’s making danceﬂoor-ready music on a computer. Before he follows up that record later this year (with any luck), TNGHT is his ongoing concern – a joint venture with Canadian Rapper Lunice that will release its eponymous debut EP next month.
NATHAN WESTLEY PAYS HIS RESPECTS TO A LOCAL LABEL AND PROMOTING DUO THAT REJUVENATED A DIY WAY OF THINKING FOR A WHOLE NEW GENERATION
In the annuals of time, the ﬁrst bank holiday of June 2012 will go down as a weekend that saw millions take part in Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee celebrations. But while masses littered the banks of the drizzly Thames to watch a procession of boats sail down river, a signiﬁcantly smaller contingent of equally devoted subjects could be found within the walls of Brighton’s Green Door Store, there to celebrate the passing of a very special independent label and promoting team. Rather than a harrowing farewell, Sex Is Disgusting’s last orgasm was a two-day mini festival headlined by madcap wonder R. Stevie Moore – the 60-year-old Grandfather of a DIY spirit resurrected for a generation by Andrew Auld and James Hines when they began throwing parties four years ago. Sat in a café an hour before SiD’s funeral (dubbed Wild World and featuring 21 bands Andy and James have worked with over the years, including Sauna Youth, Mazes, The Sticks and Cold Pumas), Andy explains: “It all started in 2008. We were hanging out and talking about how we wanted to do things; start bands, put records out and put on shows.We thought a lot of people who were already doing it in Brighton were a bit more careerist about it; driven by money. There is a strong punk scene of DIY shows, but outside of that genre there was no one.” As James puts it: “There was an explosion of bands who all had the same mentality; the DIY mentality, and Sex Is Disgusting coincided with that growing sentiment.” “It was utilising new technology to do things that had been done well in the past,” say Andy. “It was easier to do – with a whole generation spending a lot of time on the Internet it’s easier to press 300 records and sell them as you are not just going to be selling them to the
country that you are in.You’re selling them to people all around the world who are fans! There’s a nice global audience.” Sales – from SiD’s indie label arm – were never much of a growing concern for Andy and James, though. As Teen Sheikhs – their own “shitty punk band” of 2009 – they told us, “we’d never sign a record deal…we do just want to have a laugh”, and it’s an ethos that’s ruled over everything they’ve done and achieved.As clichéd as it sounds, releasing and promoting music that inspired them – music that they wanted to listen to themselves – was SiD’s enviably simplistic business model, carried out in such a way that the music and the people who both created and enjoyed its wonders always felt like they were at the forefront. “That was it,” says Andy. “There was so many good bands that we wanted to put records out for. Bigger record labels don’t care about bands until they have already gained credibility or hype, but it wasn’t so much that, it was seeing a band like Human Hair for example… they were the ﬁrst band we put out.We got to see them and we were blown away. We thought they were one of the best bands we had ever seen. I wanted to own a Human Hair record but there wasn’t one. I remember asking them, ‘Why isn’t there one? Why don’t you have a record label?’, and being told that no one had asked them to put one out.” “I think we started with the intention to release records and put on shows,” recalls James. “We booked a show for a very good band called Black Time, Grafﬁti Island and a band I eventually ended up joining called The Sticks. It was a small little thing but we roughly did that at the same time that we did the Human Hair record I’d say – the two sort of came hand in hand.” “You deﬁnitely learn a lot as you go along,” adds
Andy. “I put on a lot of shows before Sex Is Disgusting. I grew up just listening to punk and hardcore, so that’s where a lot of the ethics that apply to the label come from; the DIY and Independent punk scene.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, Andy (and no doubt James too) lives by a work etiquette as idealistic and simple as Sex Is Disgusting’s anti-money-chasing ways – the idea that one motto people should live by is to make sure that they’re “nice to people” and treat people both fairly and with respect that then encourages people to want to work with you and attend your shows. By carefully curating the line-ups and not plumping for “that local band who you don’t have to pay”, Andy and James soon forged a reputation for constructing bills whereby the acts complimented each other. “We hate shows where the support actually feel like support,” they say, “where bands feel like they have been tacked on as an afterthought.” “It’s quite nice when you realise that you have gained some sort of momentum,” says Andy, “that people trust you to put on something that would be interesting, without necessarily having heard of the bands in question.” James feels that this attitude and the commitment to pay the bands as much as they could afford meant that people (fans and bands) genuinely wanted to be a part of the underground community they created. “With Andy having that outlook with all the shows, we’ve had bands from the States that when they come back they want to do a Sex Is Disgusting show,” he says. “They request it and sometimes go out of their way to make it happen, which is really nice. It’s not the best business template ever but you have to pay the bands, simple as that.” With bands hop-scotching between playing live shows and appearing on one of the label’s limited edition
PHOTOGRAPHER - TIM COCHRANE WRITER - NATHAN WESTLEY
OBITUARIES FROM SOME OF THE SID ALUMNI
MERIDA RICHARDS LA LA VASQUEZ “We started making music around the same time that they started putting on shows. At the time I was going out with Andy, so it might have been a bit of nepotism, but we played a lot of the early shows. I can’t stress the importance of having two people that believe in you enough to continually put you on, whatever mistakes you’ve made or whatever routes you go down. They are continually supportive. It’s quite amazing really, and they’ve put on a load of good shows. They’re good guys, in a way I feel like they have had a slight hand in how we have progressed.”
7-inch or cassette releases, it did “sort of help create some sort of community” that James and Andy were always hoping to inspire, and it was this myopic relationship between the two parts that helped Sex Is Disgusting become the beating heart of the UK’s DIY scene. From releasing the ﬁrst Mazes single, ‘Bowie Knives’, to being an early home and champion of bands that would later go on to wide acclaim, such as Male Bonding and Spectrals, there’s no question that the DIY spirited indie world will be a slightly poorer place for the culmination of this two-man-run operation. “I just hope that someone carries on and starts doing
shows,” muses James as the ﬁnal page in the Sex is Disgusting story loomed ever closer.“Without sounding too pompous I’ll like to see someone take the torch and continue putting on good shows in Brighton.” And then nothing, after Wild World, of course, which proved to be a ﬁtting wake for an inspiring project of a young generation of anti-corporate music fans – as inclusive and simply fun as Andy and James had hoped for. Sex Is Disgusting will be deeply missed, not only by those it immediately touched but also those that sat outside and never knew the inspiring role it so often played.
JENNIFER CALLEGA SAUNA YOUTH “I wasn’t in Sauna Youth at the time when the band were ﬁrst starting out, but I went to a lot of Sauna Youth shows and Sex is Disgusting is basically one of the reasons why Sauna Youth got to play so many shows in Brighton. We’ve been friends with Andy for such a long time and when we moved to London they still supported us and they have done so with a lot of bands that started up in Brighton. They’ve basically kept the Brighton scene going singlehandedly. It’s a small label but if you say Sex is Disgusting people certainly know what you are talking about and it’s a very positive atmosphere. They deﬁnitely know what they’re doing and it’s quite sad that it’s coming to an end.” OLIVER COLD PUMAS “I went to the ﬁrst show that they ever put on, which was quite soon after we moved to Brighton and it was The Sticks and Grafﬁti Island. I think it was actually the ﬁrst show I ever went to in Brighton after I moved here. Basically, since I’ve been here they were the only people who were putting on stuff that I was interested in. We were doing the band already when we moved here. I can’t remember whether we met them ﬁrst or whether we were asked to play a show, but we played one of the early shows with Fair Ohs, Teeth and Peepholes. It was really good, a really fun show – we got on with all the bands, because we were all on the same wavelength. Everyone was.”
J E S S I E WA R E FOOTBALL JOURNALISM’S LOSS IS ONE OF MODERN RNB’S GREATEST GAINS
In the video for ‘Running’, the velveteen RnB single released by Jessie Ware earlier this year, the slinkilyattired singer throws diva shapes from under a monument of lustrous black hair, framed by a red stage curtain and gold leather upholstery. It’s preposterously opulent, and coupled with an invitation to interview her at a chichi Clapham restaurant, your correspondent was halfexpecting the full Diva Experience – two hours late, no eye contact, untouched salads, PR bod present to oversee proceedings, the whole drill. But at precisely the allotted time, Jessie Ware bursts into the premises with the biggest grin, ﬁrmest handshake and shiniest hair you could hope to encounter in a nascent pop star. She’s just come from a video interview around Brixton Market, which took a turn for the strange when a tramp wandered into the frame and “put his cap on my head,” she says wide-eyed. “So I said to him, I’m really sorry, but I’m not having you put some nit cap on my head. I hate to be a diva, but I need to wash my hair now.” In the next 40 minutes that’s the only sign of anything approaching Mariah behaviour from this Clapham-born girl, whose selfdeprecating humour, silly faces and quick-ﬁre chatter are instantly endearing and sadly impossible to replicate on the page. After making her name through vocal spots for UK producers like SBTRKT and Joker, as well as the gorgeous ‘Valentine’ duet with the husky-voiced Sampha,Ware is now on the cusp of breaking through in a big way, with two singles under her belt and a debut album primed for release this August. But despite an education at Alleyn’s in south London, alma mater of
PHOTOGRAPHER - ELINOR JONES WRITER - CHAL RAVENS pop peers including Florence Welch, Jack Peñate and a Maccabee or two, the young Jessie was no spotlight-seeker. “Of the people at my school, Jack Peñate was the ﬁrst person to do it,” she says of her friend. “He was at UCL doing Ancient History and he was like, ‘I’m gonna quit, I wanna be a musician.’ And I was like, ‘Jack. You can’t do that, you need to have a job.’ I think I bet him a hundred quid that he wouldn’t be signed by the end of the year. I’m so boring, I was like, ‘This is not sensible’ – and he got signed! And I still owe him. He’s called it in loads of times and I’m like, ‘No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’” She professes to have had no burning desire for the stage as a kid. “I didn’t think I was going to be a singer. I thought I was going to be a football journalist. I did work experience on the Mirror Sport and it was the best work experience, with this guy Darren Williams. He took me to Borehamwood Vs Arsenal.” The Clapham girl is understandably embarrassed about her own team. “I support Manchester United,” she says sheepishly.“My family’s from Manchester!” Her roundabout route to becoming a singer began when she helped Peñate out with backing vocals. “It was one thing, kind of a favour,” she says. “I took the day off work, my paid holiday day, to go and do a Maida Vale session.You can get away with loads if you say you’re a part-time singer – I worked at Selfridges and they used to let me have the most lax timetable...” Ware ended up on tour with Peñate, where a chance encounter then provided her ﬁrst break.“My friend who works for XL was playing guitar for Jack. He’s really into electronic music and he had loads of white labels and new SBTRKT stuff that he was giving to people in America when we were on tour. So I was just listening to this music and, you know, I used to go raving when I was younger, drum and bass raves, and then I was hearing tracks like SBTRKT and Sampha and I was like, ‘This is so cool.’ And my friend was like, ‘Look, if you like him so much why don’t you do a session with him?’ And I said,‘Okay,’ and that was my ﬁrst session. So it really was fortuitous – it was a lot of luck, I swear to God, nepotism and luck.” The experience galvanised her to make the leap towards solo stardom. “I know it sounds kind of unappreciative, but it was a bit of a shock. I got to go into the studio with SBTRKT, who hadn’t been signed yet, and he really taught me how to use my voice. I’d never done any recording,” she explains.
“OF THE PEOPLE AT MY SCHOOL, JACK PEÑATE WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO QUIT UNIVERSITY FOR MUSIC. I’M SO BORING, I WAS LIKE, ‘THIS IS NOT SENSIBLE’”
“And I never thought I was going to be a frontperson.” Last year Jessie was introduced to Dave Okumu, frontman of Mercury-nominated experimental pop band The Invisible.“Dave was the person who opened it all up for me,” she says. “I’d been doing these sessions with a few pop writers and it wasn’t right, it didn’t work. They are amazing at what they do, but at that time I didn’t know what sound I wanted and I didn’t want to do a totally dance sound.” Were they pushing you to be the next Katy B, perhaps? “Maybe, or they were just learning about Katy B and they were trying to tap into that. But the thing about Katy B is it’s so real; it’s from a real place and it’s with real producers. So I was just exhausted from these bad sessions where I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write. And Dave opened it all up and said, ‘Is this what you want?’ ‘Yes!’” The album they’ve put together, titled ‘Devotion’, also features writing and production from singersongwriter Kid Harpoon and Bristol house producer Julio Bashmore, affectionately known as Bashy. “With Dave he had really great solid ideas and then I’d write the lyrics to the melodies,” explains Jessie. “With Kid Harpoon it’s starting from scratch, like, ‘Right, what are we gonna write about?’ And with Bashmore it’s like, he’ll start playing a synth thing and I’ll start singing over it.” Recent single ‘110%’ is easily identiﬁable as a Bashmore production,with its innocent vocal underlined by a chunky bassline and a hint of rudeboy swagger. “That was the ﬁrst thing we did and it wasn’t even going to be on the album – it was kind of forgotten about, and then it was like, this could work for the summer and it’s cute. It’s just got a great beat and melody and it’s celebrating dancing on your own.” The video is bucolic and lovely, ending with Ware driving a vintage motor down a country track with Bashmore riding shotgun. “That’s my hunk! They used to do that in RnB videos where there’d be, like, Timbaland in the corner, so that was Bashy’s way to be Timbaland. And Bashy was under 25 so he couldn’t get insured on the car, that’s why I had to drive it! And then the guy [who owned the car] was there watching, like, ‘Please don’t ruin my car,’ and then we ran out of petrol, seriously! We went round the corner and it just ran out of petrol ‘cos I kept on stalling it,” she laughs. Previous single ‘Running’ is another Bashmore production, but it’s got a relaxed grooviness in the drums that recalls The Invisible’s new album, ‘Rispah’. “That’s ‘cos I got Leo from The Invisible to drum on it,” says Jessie. “Dave got Leo in to do all the live drums, so I’m the luckiest person in the world ‘cos he’s the best drummer ever.” With Okumu’s inﬂuence, Ware’s sound has matured into a modern-day reﬂection of the sensual RnB of the ’80s, with Sade the most obvious reference, while her adaptable voice can reach for both the diva acrobatics of Whitney and the cool innocence of ’90s voices like Aaliyah or TLC. “[Dave’s] all about subtlety, the way he records his voice – I mean, listening to his voice is like a cuddle. I’ve learned so much from him, he’s the best person I think I’ve ever met in my life,” she says with sincerity.
The ultra-glam video for ‘Running’ also sees Jessie really becoming the face of her music, complete with a soon-to-be-trademark hairdo inspired by ’80s icons. “I’m gonna sound like a wanker, but I’d been to the ‘Postmodernism’ exhibition at the V&A and it really made me think. There was this great music section with Talking Heads and Grace Jones, and my friend was like,‘You should have iconic hair.’ So he came up with this double bun and I was like, ‘Ooh, I really like it, it’s a bit weird...’ And it’s going to feature hopefully on my album cover. I wanted to just make a bit of a statement, a bit of an effort.” The video also captures Jessie striking a pose with some voguish slow-mo dance moves. “I didn’t even realise I was going to do that,” she says. “I was really surprised at myself, and I think the director, Kate [Moross], was like, ‘Really?!’ But I was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m in a really great dress, I’ve got a double bun...’ But then I fell down the stairs in the ﬁrst shot! Blood everywhere, and it was that awkward thing where the crew don’t know you well enough and I just wanted someone to laugh. It was really awkward.” Compared to the subdued sartorialism of the UK dubstep and bass scene from which she emerged, Ware seems happy to inject a bit of pizazz into proceedings. “I like Hollywood glamour, I like ’80s and ’90s power suits, I love shoulder pads. I just thought, I’m really normal and you can transform yourself into something else, and why not have fun with that? I don’t want to ram it in anyone’s face, but to be honest it’s quite selﬁsh – I’ve got the chance to do videos and I want to look as good as possible, because when I’m 80 and wrinkly I’ll look at that and think, yeah, I made an effort and I look alright! And I don’t feel like I’m trying to seduce the camera too much.” Well, maybe a little bit? “I’m sorry! It’s from watching too much MTV Base, I swear to god.” Coming from London’s dance music scene but citing Whitney, Sade and Grace Jones as inﬂuences, Jessie is now at a crossroads.“I’d love to be able to do more albums,” she says.“I deﬁnitely don’t want to be a ﬂash in the pan. I am ambitious, I’d love to be as successful as possible, but the album isn’t overtly pop. I want it to stand the test of time, I want it to be classic.” But this diva’s ﬁery ambition is thankfully coupled with a sense of the ridiculous – like her love for Barbra Streisand, a chanteuse who looms large in Jessie’s pantheon of heroes. “I’m Jewish, and I love her,” she gushes.“I watched Funny Girl the other day, have you seen it? She takes the piss out of herself so much. She’s so charismatic and she’s got an amazing voice. I guess she’s the ultimate Jew. Her and Bette Midler.”
BEAK> STEELY, REPETITIVE AND AWKWARD, BUT MOSTLY PURE AND SIMPLE FUN
ILLUSTRATOR - TOM WARNER WRITER - SAM WALTON
Rock music has a noble history with the humble typographical mark. From New York punk funkers !!! to doom rock’s Sunn O))), Stellastarr*’s (remember them?) superﬂuous asterisk and new grad-rockers , there’s a pleasing bullishness to any band that sticks by such an ungainly name. Continuing the tradition, awkward formatting’s latest ﬂag bearer is surely BEAK>, who upped the ante once by naming their ﬁrst album ‘>’, and who are now setting new standards in bloody-minded nomenclature by announcing its follow-up ‘>>’, out in July. Not that it matters to BEAK>’s members, Portishead multi-instrumentalist Geoff Barrow, Billy Fuller (fulltime member of Fuzz Against Junk and former bassist in Robert Plant’s backing band The Strange Sensation) and Matt Williams (who releases frankly terrifying freeform jazz chaos as Team Brick); in the hands of less experienced, more eager-to-impress types, stunts like this might stick in one’s craw, but BEAK> are, broadly, are unbothered about it. “I guess the album’s just pronounced ‘two’,” explains Fuller, matter-of-factly, when asked how one should actually refer to his band’s new album. “I mean, we’ve always used a greater-than symbol at the end of our name because it looks like a beak, and this is the second album, so there’s two of them. “Apparently,” he adds with a satisﬁed ﬂourish, “it’s un-Googleable too.” “It makes absolute sense to me,” continues Barrow, at a loss as to what the problem is. “We’re BEAK>, with one greater-than sign, and here’s two greater-thans.” There’s a grin on his face as he speaks, and of course, when it’s put like that, there’s not much room for argument. But combine the rogue typography with BEAK>’s taut, uncompromising but surprisingly spacious-sounding take on 1970s krautrock, all endlesslymutating motorik with infrequent vocals and even rarer lyrics, and there’s more than a little sense of being awkward just for the fun of it.
“Well fuck, sure, you’ve only got to look at us really,” concedes Barrow, once it’s put to him like that, glancing at his shaggy-haired, unshaven band mates wearing ripped jeans and faded t-shirts.“But no, I don’t think it’s awkward awkward. Perhaps it’s awkward if you compare it to modern produced music – it sounds different to that, but we’re deﬁnitely not out to produce awkward music.” That difference is audible within seconds of pushing play on ‘>>’, with quite startling effect. Barrow’s drumming on opening track ‘The Gaol’ sounds beautifully clear and roomy, Fuller’s bass crisp and punchy, and Williams’ electronics swoop overhead giving the feeling of a band performing in front of you unampliﬁed and unmodiﬁed, with an immediacy and dynamic range that so many albums appear to have had beaten out of them by a producer with one eye on Radio 1. It’s an affect achieved proudly (and perhaps aptly for a band that are so unbothered about doing anything particularly music industry-friendly) by being lazy, explains Barrow: “It’s just about leaving the desk as it is, and sometimes it sounds good, and sometimes it doesn’t. But the main thing is that we’re not going to get into it and bother to clean it up.”
“HOW MANY THINGS DO YOU DO IN LIFE THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY SAY ARE FUN? ...BEAK> IS LIKE A PILL”
Of course, how a record sounds is only one side of what makes it a difﬁcult or easy listen, and BEAK>’s approach to songwriting isn’t exactly conventional either, but again, Barrow doesn’t really care. “We just want to do cool stuff, good stuff, good music that basically the three of us agree on and go, ‘yeah, that’s cool’. And that’s really where it ends.The actual outside world is irrelevant really, because we don’t sell great deals of records.” The numbers they do sell, however, are important. BEAK> are signed to Barrow’s own label Invada (also home to Fuller’s Fuzz Against Junk and Williams’ Team Brick, amongst other wild and weird musical diversions), and Barrow defends his baby admirably: when I spot an advanced vinyl pressing of ‘>>’ on a nearby table, he immediately gets his salesman hat on: “We’ll do you a deal,” he offers eagerly, “but no freebies! It’s my label, fuckin’ right I’ve got to sell these! When it’s Universal’s money, you can have as many copies as you like! “Seriously, though, if Invada doesn’t make money it’ll die,” continues Barrow. “I’m not a cash cow for it.We’re not very good at having brunch with music supervisors or doing that corporate game of ‘Oh we’ve got a track on Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5’, because there’s no point in us having those discussions: their boss will go ‘that sounds a bit weird – why don’t you get Feist?’ and that totally makes sense for them. So we have to do what we do, which is the basic thing of being a record company, and creating things that people want.” Perhaps it’s a maturity thing – BEAK>’s average age is 35, making them virtual pensioners in new-band terms – or maybe it’s down to the knowledge that between them the members of BEAK> have sold millions of records and played to thousands of people in other incarnations, but such all-about-the-music, screwthe-mainstream rhetoric doesn’t sound as disingenuous as it often can; Barrow, in particular, talks about this band in a kind of child-like glee that doesn’t always come
across when he’s discussing the often far more complication machinations surrounding Portishead. “It’s just fun,” he says, laughing almost in disbelief as he tries to explain what the basic aim of BEAK> is. “I mean, when we’ve gone to the States, and when we’ve gone to Europe playing festivals, it’s been fun, hasn’t it?” His band mates nod, and Barrow continues:“How many things do you do in life that you can actually say are fun? You can go to your mate’s barbecue and you can come back from it going, ‘yeah, that was alright’, but being a band and being able to travel and play and have a laugh in the van, we’re privileged to be able to do it and say afterwards, ‘that was really good fun’. “And really, it goes back to making me feel like when I was 16, and I’m sat in front of a drum kit with my mates, playing whatever it was. None of the rest of the stuff matters, whereas it might with Portishead or whoever.” “There’s so much to think about in normal life,” chips in Fuller with a smile, his west-country burr sounding almost apologetic, “that BEAK> is a kind of retreat, a kind of sanatorium. It’s like a pill.” “Take these, Mr Fuller...,” offers Barrow. “...and off I drift,” counters Fuller. There then follows a long discussion about the history of slavery in Bristol (‘>>’’s centrepiece ‘Wulfstan II’ is apparently named after a 9th-century bishop who was particularly opposed to it), the city’s role in the civil war and the cultural state it ﬁnds itself in today, and the realisation by Barrow that “Bristolians [himself included] have always been pretty apathetic cunts”, not really bothered by London’s shilling, or doing anything particularly ambitious that might make millions.“It’s that slightly rum aspect of what Bristol’s always been about that I ﬁnd really fascinating,” he explains, and that inspiration is certainly in evidence with BEAK>: whether it’s the band’s approach to writing, recording, playing or even typesetting, it’s unapologetically, adamantly, and actually quite inspiringly, just for the fun of it.
ABOVE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: GEOFF BARROW, BILLY FULLER AND MATT WILLIAMS
BEAK> LIVE AT BRIXTON ACADEMY, SUPPORTING THE HORRORS, 25 MAY “We played with The Horrors once before in Shefﬁeld and there were these two girls hanging over the front going, ‘who are you!? You look like my dad!’ It was amazing,” laughs Geoff Barrow in anticipation of tonight’s show, and while tonight there are no heckles, there is a sense that the majority of the crowd – now assembled for the Horrors spectacle – are simply bemused by the three blokes on chairs playing in front of them. “They all just fancy Josh, and that’s all that matters! I really love the Horrors, but for the girls at the front, until the band goes on, nothing’s going to exist,” concedes Barrow, and unfortunately, for the most part, he’s right. While BEAK> play, the crowd is thin, distracted and impatient, and there’s little in the way of appreciation, even when they ﬁnish the epic set-closer ‘Wulfstan II’ with the kind of poise, menace and precision that makes it stand out so brutally on ‘>>’ . The following day, Barrow tweets to say that “the show was a ruff one”, and from a crowd point of view, he has a point. But from a playing one, it’s a joy to watch something so bloody-minded sound so good. Barrow, Fuller and Williams scuttle out onto stage, sit down in a semi-circle facing one another and set to work building a wall of rhythm and texture that feels like the work of one machine rather than three distinct musicians, like Battles without the ADHD or berserk tendencies. Sure, they’re not natural performers, and the Brixton Academy stage half an hour before a Horrors show is not their ideal habitat, but there’s an enormous amount of vicarious satisfaction to be derived from seeing a group play exactly what they want, how they want and never mind the consequences.
the ﬂoor-to-ceiling world of American DIY, there’s lo-ﬁ, then no-ﬁ, then The Memories – four Portlanders who make stoned lullabies about girls, recorded at novelty-musical-tie ﬁdelity, or that of a Christmas card that plays a tune when you open it.You should know this now, because there’s a good chance that you might want to move along – who needs another mufﬂy bunch of pot heads recording to cassette tape in their house-share, right? The Memories aren’t about to apologise for what they are, though – essentially the by-product of a failed relationship. “It was the summer of 2010,” explains Eric Gage. “I’d just got out of a long term relationship and I was really inspired by romance. It was also a celebratory thing. I know that sounds weird, but it was inspired by being free.” Also a member of the slightly more hi-ﬁ/a lot more ‘party’White Fang, I think we can diagnose his relationship’s problem here – he couldn’t wait to be shot of it. Two years on, The Memories have just released their eponymous debut album – a concise collection of crackling love songs that are purposely reduced to nothing but the hooks, inspired, Eric says, but Guided By Voices’ knack for making “streamlined little packages that you could just listen to again and again”. Like San Francisco duo The Art Museums – who relished the tape hiss on their debut album, ‘Rough Frames’, while dropping the tempo at a time when every other DIY band was playing speedy scuzz rock – ‘The Memories’ is far too static-ridden to garner radio play, but its melodies are the stuff of their AM heroes. Amongst them, Eric lists the unlikely Isaac Hayes, Sade, Dr Dre and Slayer, as well as Peter Gabriel and The Beatles when I point out that the opening ‘Baby (You’re Totally Crazy)’ sounds a lot like ‘Solsbury Hill’ and ‘Higher’ like ‘I Should Have Known Better’. “We’re huge Peter Gabriel and Beatles fans,” he nods. “That’s the kind of stuff we listen to on the radio when we’re
travelling. All we do is listen to music and talk to people about music. Big inﬂuences are Fleetwood Mac, ‘Walk of Life’ by Dire Straits, The Traveling Wilburys’ ﬁrst album – weird ’60s meets ’80s, electronic meets folky vibes, like ’80s bands with drum machine who are ’60s sounding. Lou Reeds’‘New Sensations’ is one of our big important records.” This array of greats is unlikely enough when you hear The Memories sub-two-minute, sloshily retro songs, but they’re also all notably hi-ﬁ in sound. Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits especially. Yet Eric explains that The Memories won’t be following suit there just yet. “Recording lo-ﬁ is the most direct way of getting them across, and we feel the emotions more when we’re in a little isolated spot,” he says, before insisting that they didn’t set out to be a ‘lo-ﬁ band’ in the Williamsburg/Pitchfork sense.“We just wrote the songs and recorded them, and were like, ‘well, we don’t need to record them any better than this, they’re already good’,” he says. “Some bands do set out to be lo-ﬁ, but they skip the whole song-writing part, so there’s nothing to hold on to. “It stems from being pretty bored in the suburbs. It’s a necessity. Like, why would we go and make it sound better in a studio where it costs loads of money when it already sounds awesome and it feels more human anyway?” And Eric’s knockout punch in a world now down on the oversaturated lo-ﬁ scene, even when it can produce songs as clearly crafted in melody as his:“If I listen to old Motown, it doesn’t really stand up to radio’s standard of hi-ﬁ today, yet they’re still pop masterpieces, because it’s all about the song writing.” Portland is “rad”, says Eric, but as a native himself – along with all of White Fang, who he’s known since middle school, and three quarters of The Memories – he’s keen to point out that most of the bands sold to us as groups from the North West city are in actual fact
from somewhere else entirely.They move to Portland to start bands, and few get very far in a town made for solo artists. By Eric’s reckoning, groups that move to Portland are attracted by its high density of musicians, all the time telling themselves that it’ll be far less competitive than New York’s culturally similar Williamsburg district.“But they’re wrong,” says Eric, “and they discover that when they get here. I’d say 50 percent of bands that move to Portland move out again within a month of getting here, because it doesn’t work out. “So many bands from here end up getting caught up in some bullshit,” he continues.“There’s a lot of drinking and a lot of cocaine in the winter, because there’s not a lot of light in the days and people go insane.” The Memories’ drug of choice is weed, which happens to be their album’s sub-plot – a theme second only to girls. “I’ve had multiple serious relationships,” says Eric, “but The Memories stuff is inspired by incidental love and small love and love that happens in its pure form. So love is a big theme, and the main theme, and drugs are a big part of it too, because drugs are a symbol of that naughty nature. It adds a more sexual element to the love too, because the record is sexual,” he says of an album that features tracks ‘Took Drugs (Went Insane)’ and ‘I Know What To Do’, about taking your pants off. “When we’re recording and writing we’re totally sober,” he says “…most of the time. There’s a misconception that we’re wasters, which we are to a certain extent, but our relationship with drugs is we’re really in control – we all have places to live and own valuable items that we’ve not sold for drugs. “Like, we’re all pretty down to party, but we’re more into getting music happening, and getting girls. It’s hard to be really high and relate to a girl – it’s more fun to be sober with a girl and then get high with her. Girls are cooler than drugs, for sure… but marijuana is a girl too, so that’s a tie.”
THE MEMORIES GIRLS ARE COOLER THAN DRUGS
PHOTOGRAPHER - BRIAN ECHON WRITER - STUART STUBBS 20
PHOTOGRAPHER - COCHI ESSE WRITER - OLLY PARKER
PINS MANCHESTER’S MUSICAL HERITAGE HAS FOR TOO LONG HAD LOCAL BANDS APING THEIR HEROES. NOT PINS THOUGH, WHO ARE LEADING A NEW WAVE OF CREATIVITY WITHIN THE GREAT NORTHERN CITY, WHERE BANDS, LABELS, CLUBS AND VENUES ARE BLOSSOMING ONCE AGAIN For an outsider, the Manchester music scene follows a pretty simple timeline; the short punk blasts of The Buzzcocks; the beauty of Joy Division; the intelligence of The Fall; the euphoria of the Hacienda; the gonzo genius of the Happy Mondays and the swagger of The Stone Roses. This, of course, ﬁnished with Oasis who borrowed bits of everything and added a large dollop of Liverpool before consigning it all to history by bringing everything to a loud, overblown full stop. Since then, and as any London based A&R who claims they know what’s going on will tell you, there’s nothing new worth hearing. Tales are told of second hand copies of past glories, lads carrying two pints and excess ﬂab saying they’re going to be the biggest band in the world as they play ever more excessively ﬂabby two bob music. Before John Robb comes round to hack me to pieces I guess I’d better stop myself. It’s an iron cast rule that as
soon as somebody ‘in the know’ declares a place ‘dead’, it’s never dead.The fashion may move on, but the people who make a place what it is remain. After a period of ignorance, Londonistas are starting to point north once more, but Manchester, as ever, is ripping up the rulebook. Failing to follow their own simple timeline, this new generation of artists deﬁes easy categorisation. It’s diverse, driven, self-aware, poised and refuses to be pigeonholed by the city’s history. On a typically rainy day in a greasy spoon café, I meet Pins. We’re not in Manchester but Clapton, just inside the long Lea Bridge Road border and escape route that takes you away from the city. I lived here ten years ago and have rarely been back since. The Lord Cecil has gone, the algae has been cleared from Clapton pond, the Martin Creed artwork that sat upon the ruins of the orphanage is now a technical college. It feels safer, both in-terms of crime and a lack of excitement, the property
prices are shooting up to a point where it’s threatening my own iron cast rule. Pins consist of Faith (vocals, photographer), Lois (curator, guitarist), Anna (illustration, bass) and Lara (writer, drums). They are hungover and sit quietly sipping on coffee while recovering from playing “a DJ set of the best music you’ve ever heard in your life…. Not really” and a packed live show at the Old Blue Last. They’ve only been together nine months, have released one tape on their own label, Haus of Pins, and an early blogger buzz has led to a string of packed live shows across the UK. I gabble the usual music interview questions like a newcomer to a party I wasn’t really ever invited to:‘When did you meet, when did you decide to stay together, what made this relationship work?’ “I started playing with Anna,” says Faith, “then we played with Lois, then we found Lara and a few days after that we played our ﬁrst gig.” “We’re all creative people, but in different ways,” adds Lois. “We communicate in a really similar way though, being able to just hang out together was really important”. I’ve read thousands of band interviews and it generally starts with stories of people bonding over shared musical loves, trips to record stores, nights out at gigs, ﬁnding each other after an argument about a favourite Sonic Youth B-side and ganging up together to try and recreate that sound. “There was no, ‘this is what we want it to sound like’,” says Lois. “That’s the good thing about (playing with) this band,” adds Faith, “anyone can bring a song in and we’ll just do it and it’ll all sound consistent even if it’s borrowing from different elements.” “Our sound comes from different inﬂuences,” says Lois. “We all like slightly different types of music, which is why you have lots of different layers.” “I mentioned I wanted my guitar to sound like My Bloody Valentine once and it stuck with me for ages,” says a slightly hesitant Faith as I struggle to get Pins to attach names to inﬂuences in a journalistically lazy attempt to peg their sound somewhere. “You start with that idea but then you move and evolve away from it.” Seeing them the night before, you can see why there’s an early day buzz about the band. There’s ‘Barbed Wire Kisses’-era Mary Chain sitting beneath vocals that sound like the Vivian Girls have taken a darker turn. And while on their recent tape release a lot of the pop elements stand out, live it’s darker and heavier; the guitar noise more layered and textured. Pins are currently weighing up next steps, but the freedom afforded by their own label and individual artistic pursuits outside music mean that their options are endless. “We do every aspect of Pins ourselves,” explains Anna, “the website, the sleeves, the merch. I sat up late last night making the tapes to bring down today.
“We want to keep complete control of it.” During the conversation they allude to EPs, singles (by themselves and other bands), club nights and tours all under the Haus of Pins label. The video for lead track ‘Eleventh Hour’ was ﬁlmed in a friend’s Manchester studio at a place called Islington Mill. The old cotton factory – a lasting reminder of the old industrial Manchester – was bought by a local artist in 2001 and quickly became a hub for the local arts scene with creative people renting space and holding events. “It has so much happening in it,” says Anna. “For me it sums up Manchester because everything happens in there.” But what is it about Manchester right now that’s got everyone talking? “Everyone has all of a sudden got focussed,” says Lois. “It’s small and everyone comes together.” Pins reel off a list of bands, labels and places to go: MONEY, G R E A T W A V E S, Bass Ventura, Shinies, Common, Sex Hands, the Sway Bunker, Lost Lost Lost, The YBA’s…I could go on. The point is, if you asked me to name ten things that were exciting about the London music scene right now I’d probably struggle. I asked Shell Zenner, a Manchester based radio presenter on Amazing Radio and Beatwolf Radio, why there’s such resurgence in the Manchester music scene. She says: “It could be a number of reasons. People taking their eye off the Manchester ‘ball’, the old view that poor economic conditions lead to an upsurge in creative talent. “I think the difference is that over the past couple of years there has been a new breed of Greater Manchester based artists that haven’t been afraid to step away from Manchester’s musical past. There’s a range of people in the music industry that don’t want to be linked with Manchester’s musical past, but with its future. “The new sounds originating from Manchester would not be out of place in Los Angeles, Austin, Brooklyn, Berlin and a range of other musically inﬂuential places.Whilst there is a diverse range of bands
NORTHERN REVOLUTIONS MORE FROM THE NEW NORTHWEST WAVE
SWAYS RECORDS In their own words: ‘Independent record label and cultural regenerator. Salford, England’. In ours: “Famed for throwing Bunker parties at their HQ, the latest was the notable Savages and Pins gig in a cage that got much of the musical crowd hot under the collar.” – Shell Zenner MONEY In their own words: “Dystopian Choral” from “Purgatory/Paradise, Manchester”. In ours: Beautiful, blissed out epic genius – easily one of Britain’s best new bands.
and artists operating across the northwest at the moment, there is an underlying respect where the artists, labels, promoters and journalists seem to want to help each other more than I’ve ever known.” She goes on to list so many bands, club nights, labels, writers, websites, DJs, PR companies and even booking agents that are starting in and around Manchester that I start to mentally beg my editor for a longer article.What seems so impressive about the Manchester resurgence is it’s not just a loose collection of bands playing a similar type of music, like the Detroit garage and London revival scenes did, but a whole infrastructure has rebuilt itself on the ashes of its forefathers Factory, and it’s realised the only way to survive is to nurture and help each other. “I’ve lived in Manchester for a decade this September and never has it seemed so alive and buzzing,” says Shell. “That’s not just down to the bands, but down to people working in the music industry in the city making things happen.” I don’t think Manchester could ever die, in the same way that Hackney won’t and London can’t. The true artist will always ﬁnd a disused space deemed surplus to requirements by the market and rebuild it, set it up, regroup and start producing work that can challenge and excite again. During troubled times England has often looked north for a cultural resistance to the prevailing wind and maybe the time has come once more.
COMMON In their own words: “Muddling through good times, bad times, indifferent times like a dysfunctional family. Hopefully those of you that came with us had a good time and have no permanent scars.” In ours: The place to hang out in Manchester. “Everyone either works there or drinks there.” - Lois, Pins.
n room 511 of the Wythe Hotel, a converted former factory on the waterfront in New York City’s Williamsburg district, one of the most feted young musicians in the world is waiting on a phone call. “Yeah, this is where we do all the press stuff,” sighs David Longstreth, leader of the Dirty Projectors and recent Bjork and David Byrne collaborator, when he answers my Skype call, before checking with his people that yes, I am allowed to be calling and indeed (the implication is “thankfully”) this is only going to last twenty minutes at the max. Longstreth isn’t a fan of interviews. In 2010, he admitted they bother him because of the “endless repetition”, and for a man of his considerable musical restlessness, it’s understandable that repetition would be something of a buzzkill. After all, Dirty Projectors, whom Longstreth has skippered in various incarnations for the last decade, has in recent years become one of the most intriguing groups in the world, creating music that is so stylistically diffuse as to be almost uncategorisable, and certainly not lacking variation. Equally, Longstreth has revealed himself – albeit in his own oblique manner – to be ﬁercely intelligent, a thoughtful musician with almost borderless tastes, allergic to anything derivative, constantly questing for original sounds, or at least a combination that hasn’t been tried before. If the tedious rigmarole of promotional interviews irritates even the blandest of pop stars, Longstreth doesn’t stand much of a chance. Unfortunately, however, when you are responsible for such knotty, dense and absorbing records as 2009’s breakthrough ‘Bitte Orca’ – an album greeted by critics (including the present one) with a hail of adjectival contradictions but almost universal praise – and narrative avant-garde works such as ‘The Getty Address’ (an orchestral concept album about Eagles singer Don Henley, obviously) and ‘Mount Wittenberg Orca’ (a Bjork collaboration sung, duh, from the point of view of a whale family), then next month’s release of the relatively straightforward ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ is likely to prick ears. Because Dirty Projectors’ seventh album is a break not just from the conceits of the past, but also from much of the musical abrasion too: it contains, variously, Beatlesy piano ballads, funk-tinged earworms and Dylanesque folk-rock ditties that tend to go versechorus-verse-chorus; its lyrics, prosaically but prettily, proclaim to “want you by my side” and implore the listener to look for the meaning of life by dancing, something that hasn’t been so strenuously suggested since S Club 7’s ‘Don’t Stop Moving’.While it would be a stretch to call ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ populist – it once again pushes the boundaries of songwriting in challenging and frequently beautiful ways, albeit with subtler manipulations than hitherto – it also ain’t ‘Trout Mask Replica’, which, perhaps ﬁttingly, makes it another record in its author’s cannon that’s hard to pin down. Indeed, Longstreth too seems unable to explain where exactly ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ sits, both among his own body of work and that of his peers – or if it should sit anywhere – and accordingly his response when called to talk about it is, broadly, to shut down. In our hurried 20 minutes down a crackly trans-Atlantic phoneline, he accuses me of “missing some pretty basic complexities”
DIRTY PROJECTORS DAVID LONGSTRETH TALKS SAM WALTON THROUGH HIS BAND’S SIXTH ALBUM, SPEAKING MAINLY IN RIDDLES
PHOTOGRAPHER - JASON FRANK ROTHENBERG WRITER - SAM WALTON
of the album, and that I must “look harder” for lyrical themes, and most of the enthusiasm for his latest baby is masked in sarcasm, riddles and intentional contradictions. The impression is of a man frustrated by having to constantly explain himself, when to him his musical communication is crystal clear. Sam Walton: “You named the album after Ferdinand
Magellan.Who’s he? What’s his story?” David Longstreth: “What’s his story? [laughs] Well, you
tell me man.” SW: “Well, on Wikipedia it says he’s a 15th-century Portuguese explorer who circumnavigated the world. What drew you to him?” DL: “Well, the music really draws heavily on some baroque European traditions, with those lutes and the troubadour sound of the whole thing, a lot of court musicians and interludes with the jesters...” SW: “Lutes? The jesters?” DL: “No, sorry, I’m joking, that whole thing’s a joke. [pause] Magellan, well, you know. He’s just a ﬁgure that you might invoke – he might cast a vapour over these songs, or a shadow or whatever – in the same way John Wesley Harding cast a shadow over that Dylan record. He was an explorer, but today, what are you exploring in a world that’s totally gridded, totally mapped, and
inscribed from front to back?”
produced.There’s no overarching central theme.”
SW: “The mood on ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ seems to be
SW: “Do you think there’s anything that makes ‘Swing
toward shorter, prettier and more direct songs than ‘Bitte Orca’ and previous Dirty Projectors records. Do you agree?” DL: “Not really, no. Maybe it’s just the contrarian streak in me, but I like to look at what I was just doing and then do the opposite. I spent the last few Dirty Projectors records really obsessed with different kinds of surfaces and textures, shimmering fabrics and tapestries of guitars, interlocking female hockets, using band members as avatars for myself – all sorts of cloaks and veils and vapours of that kind – so the riskiest thing I could do was just write using simple tools to say simple things. “I don’t know if that’s more direct because I don’t know if that’s the way we take in information now; maybe music is better consumed as perfume at this point – a band will dispense a reliable scent that you can chose to wear out with you one day, and people can do with it what they will. It’s got nothing to do with me. All I’m saying is that you’re asking whether these songs are more direct, and shorter and prettier, and that, to me, is ignoring some pretty basic complexities surrounding the whole album.” SW: “What are those complexities that I’m missing?” DL: “Well that’s what I was just talking about – you know, the idea of what the function of a song is.What is the function of a song? I think it might be to be worn as a perfume.” SW: “So are these songs simply the latest scents from Dirty Projectors, to be listened to until they wear off?” DL: “I don’t know. Whatever. Maybe we ought to move on.” SW: “Right, okay. What were you hoping to achieve, musically or artistically, with ‘Swing Lo Magellan’?” DL: “I just follow what interests me. Here, I got obsessed with what a song is, what a song can do, what a song can mean.” SW: “What would you like a song to do or mean?” DL: “I’d like a song to be a stone that you can hold in your hand, that has a weight and a deﬁnite gravity, and a colour and a shape.” SW: “How does that desire for substance mix with your suspicion that songs are worn as perfume these days?” DL: “[pause] There’s no way of knowing.” SW: “Did the success of ‘Bitte Orca’ affect how you wrote ‘Swing Lo Magellan’? Did you feel a need to make it a notch better than its predecessor, or did that side of things not cross your mind?” DL: “Well, ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ is a better record than ‘Bitte Orca’. ‘Bitte Orca’ was like a mission statement, but it bit off more than it could chew. ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ is a deeper record in every way – it’s more musically inventive, albeit in a less bombastic and less show-offy way, it’s more elegant musically, and the lyrics are way better than anything on ‘Bitte Orca’.” SW: “Lyrically, what were you writing about on ‘Swing Lo Magellan’? The lyrics feel quite romantic and intrepid to my ears.” DL: “Romantic? Right, well you should look closer.You know, it’s a pretty wide-ranging album in terms of the themes that come up. It’s like ‘Revolver’, where every song is a world unto itself, different than the one before it in its thematic style, what’s it’s about and the way it’s
Lo Magellan’ feel like a coherent body of work then?” DL: “[laughs] The themes, probably.Yeah, deﬁnitely the
themes. Also, the spirit of the recordings, the spirit of the songs themselves. It’s an album that’s about a moment. The recordings are about a moment, and the songs themselves are about our moment, right now. It’s a very different kind of moment in our culture right now.” SW: “What moment is that?” DL: “I don’t know really. [pause] Maybe we should move on again.” SW: “Okay.What about the spirit of the recordings, that you said unites the album? It sounds like quite an ambitious, excitable, almost happy record.” DL: “A happy record – very good.Yeah, the recording is pretty wabby, you know. It’s pretty wabby-sabby.” SW: “What does that mean?” DL: “I just mean that it pushes forwards in this delicate thing, in this purposeful fragility, this wispy little dried leaf of a moment.We were trying to capture that.” Perhaps the “dried leaf moment” is the moment Longstreth was trying to articulate earlier on, but we’ll never know, as halfway through my next question, he interrupts me.“Man, I’m sorry I’ve got to go do another interview now,” he says, sounding genuinely apologetic. He tells me to take it easy, and hangs up. It’s an apt way for our conversation to end: amid the dismissive snorts, wild, semi-poetic ramblings and jumbled philosophy all reminiscent of Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz, Longstreth also knows what he has to do – stop, thanks, bye – and achieves it without selfconsciousness. A similar service, one imagines, is maintained within Dirty Projectors too: for all the difﬁcultly and discomfort Longstreth clearly experiences articulating how his music sounds, or saying what he wants it to sound like, his records are testament to an astonishing level of musical articulacy that almost negates the need for him to be another rent-a-quote gob for hire. Indeed, for every Noel or Jarvis, whose interviews became more entertaining than their recorded output years ago, Longstreth represents an intriguing opposite, utterly unbothered about social approval, obsessed with musical minutiae and strangely compelling for all the accompanying intensity and unexpectedness. And ironically, for all the obfuscation, the message is simple: even if ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ contains the straightest answers of any Dirty Projectors album so far, don’t go expecting a similar response from its creator.
INSIDE HER DOCKSIDE SHIPPING CONTAINER STUDIO, MICA LEVI REMAINS AVANTPOP’S MOST LAWLESS STAR, WITH A SECOND MICACHU AND THE SHAPES ALBUM ON THE HORIZON THAT’S EVEN MORE EXPERIMENTAL THAN THE LAST
PHOTOGRAPHER - GABRIEL GREEN WRITER - DK GOLDSTEIN
ver the past three or fours years, Mica Levi has been hard at work, and if you have even the slightest interest in London’s young music scene, then you’ll at least have heard of her. Whether it’s with her band Micachu and the Shapes, her involvement in the Kwesachu mixtapes (with kindred Free Pop artist Kwes), or even her efforts on works by the likes of Dels, The Invisible, Speech Debelle and so many more, you can’t exactly say she hasn’t been putting herself out there. Yet Mica Levi, born and bred on the outskirts of London, is still relatively unknown. In 2009, her debut album, ‘Jewellery’, dropped to accolades from the press, but she’s still topping tiny venues like The Queen’s Head in Islington, London, and Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. The Southbank Centre has recruited her as artist in residence, but despite various turns in the grander Queen Elizabeth Hall, she’s not selling the place out. That’s not to say that she isn’t talented – that’s the reason why everyone wants to work with her. It’s perhaps because of the niche market that Mica targets with her erratic brand of grimey alt.pop. Unconventional ‘instruments’ – such as hoovers, broken bottles, discarded CD racks and playing cards – jar against one another in a way that should be discordant (and certainly is to some), but not to the cult following she’s built up. A Pitchfork reviewer said of her debut LP, “on ﬁrst listen, it’s a maddening noise; by the fourth, it’s as catchy as a jingle.” It was ‘Jewellery’’s most accurate critique. Micachu and the Shapes are deﬁnite growers, but once they’ve planted the seed, those avant-pop clusters become increasingly more appealing, until you realise that what you’ve been presented with is essentially the sound of household objects backed by a paired-down, guitar-drums-keys band on repeat for the last hour. Of course, no matter the genre, pitch, speed, style and whatever else Mica can alter and bend, music is something that has always come naturally to her. Being born into a family of musicians all of 25 years ago allowed the precocious singer-songwriter to begin honing her talents long before she can even remember her interest in music blossoming. “It’s hard to talk about it because I’ve never really done anything else,” she muses. “That’s like somebody asking you, ‘so when was it that you started wearing jeans?’ Well, I feel like I’ve always worn them and lots of other people I know wear
them. It’s always been there. I just liked listening to music and I’ve gone through phases of being interested in different kinds, trying different things out. Sometimes quite publicly, I guess.” After a thorough stint at the Purcell School of Music, followed by a Guildhall scholarship – where she was commissioned to compose a piece for the London Philharmonic Orchestra – Mica cut her teeth in the UK grime/garage scene. Although it may not be obvious in her Micachu and the Shapes releases, hip hop is a major inﬂuence for her.The fact that the ﬁrst Micachu release, ‘Filthy Friends’, was a mixtape is a big hint, but enlisting the help of a now thoroughly established crew of producers and MC’s such as Ghostpoet, Man Like Me, Kwes and Toddla T didn’t exactly dampen her urban credentials.This has led her to more collaborations with Kwes on further mixtapes with huge acts in the electro sphere, including Hot Chip, Metronomy and The xx. The summer of 2009 saw her slow-rhyming on Mercury Prize-winner Speech Debelle’s track ‘Better Days’ and last year she produced a couple of songs on Dels’ debut album, ‘GOB’. Not to mention writing ‘Chopped and Screwed’ while on tour – a digital meets analogue performance with the London Sinfonietta. Mica’s not exactly a girl you can hold down. Before we meet up, she was in Brazil checking out the NEOJIBA orchestra, a government funded orchestral training programme. She’s forever thinking about music and how to incorporate a seemingly endless selection of elements.“I don’t think I’m ever happy with the sound,” she sighs before wrinkling her nose and countering her comment. “I don’t mean it like that. I’m always excited by different things and I don’t think that’s necessarily because I haven’t heard it before, it just has to come into fruition at the right time. It’s peaks and troughs – things come round and back round all the time, whether it be a speed thing or a style or an attitude thing.With music in England things get recycled a lot and I always try to keep my ears open. If I’m excited about something, then it feeds through, but it’s best not to think about it too hard.” As she says this, she’s slouched on the sofa in what the estate agents would call an ‘intimate’ old shipping container that doubles up as her recording studio in Trinity Buoy Wharf. Out here in the docks of east London is a hotbed of emerging talent in both music and art. It’s also home to a stellar view of the huge, industrial Millennium Dome and London’s only lighthouse. Spinning on the decks is a Prefuse 73 record, while on the wall behind Mica is the psychedelic backdrop to an image of her and Kwes that has become synonymous with their second Kwesachu mixtape. Next to her is Kwes’s ‘No Need to Run’ EP, along with a promo of her new album, ‘Never’.That is, of course, what we’re really here to discuss, but it’s so much easier to understand Mica’s use of grating synth lines and warped fairground vibes that blanket her new album if you follow her process from the start, and apparently it was a completely
“IT’S LIKE ASKING, ‘SO WHEN WAS IT THAT YOU STARTED WEARING JEANS?’ MUSIC HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE”
different ballpark for her back then when it came to approaching music. “I can’t even remember, ‘Jewellery’ was so long ago,” she says.“I’d done half on my laptop in my bedroom and then I went to Matthew’s [Herbert] studio and we thickened it up. Mate, it was so lo-ﬁ. Then the band started halfway through. It’s quite a weird record in that way. It’s half a live band that had been together for a month and half a laptop bedroom thing. This one [‘Never’] is different, though, it was collaborative. We wrote and recorded as a band, as opposed to last time when I recorded with the band, but then went away to work on it with Matthew.” This time around Mica didn’t work with the experimental electronic pioneer Herbert, or any producer for that matter. The band did everything themselves, which Mica professes was hard work. “I’d like to just not have to think too hard,” she admits. “I sound lazy, but I don’t mean I don’t want to do anything. What I mean is that I want to concentrate on my bit, which is singing and playing guitar.You’ve got to know what your strengths are and when to use someone else’s strengths for the right thing.” By creating ‘Never’ on their own, it only took the trio – completed by Raisa Khan and Marc Pell – a month, whereas ‘Jewellery’ was done in two halves over the course of a year. But there’s still been a considerable three years between the two. “I’ve been really busy, though, that’s why,” assures Mica, “with different kinds of projects and making beats and other bands.We toured ‘Jewellery’ for ages and I didn’t feel like there was a mad rush to do it. There’s so much music happening all the time, you’ve just gotta do it at your own pace.” In the break that the group had, Raisa was performing in Dels’ band, as well as doing her solo project, Raisa K; Marc was playing with We Have Band; Mica was undertaking every project under the sun, including boxing, and in that time there hasn’t been a huge leap between the sound of both records, but you can tell that, despite apparently listening to more “straight up rock ’n’ roll”, there is an ounce more experimentation. For instance, could you have guessed that a telephone and a transsexual walking in heels played parts in the making of ‘Never’? Or that Mica has been channelling The Only Way is Essex? “In my mind it’s quite traditional,” mutters Mica, nonplussed. “I needed the sound of somebody walking up the stairs and that was the best I could do,” she explains about the sampling of her transsexual friend. “‘Top Floor’ starts with footsteps – hopefully it sounds like somebody walking up to the top ﬂoor – but it’s actually somebody walking back and forth in heels. I wasn’t here in the studio, I was in my room and I didn’t have half a coconut or concrete stairs, so that’s what I used.” At the thought of ‘TOWIE’, Mica blushes slightly. On ‘Glamour’, there’s a snippet of an obnoxious conversation that was originally a sample from the reality TV show. “We weren’t allowed to use it, so I got my friend, who went to school in Essex, to say it. I don’t know why it’s in there, it made sense at the time. It’s me having a conversation with a glamour model. Well, not
“‘TOP FLOOR’ IS ABOUT JUMPING OFF A BUILDING. THAT MIGHT NOT BE OBVIOUS BUT THE NEXT TRACK IS ‘FALL’”
necessarily me, but somebody, and being quite creepy about it because they’ve seen them in a magazine. I thought it’d be quite fun to have a conversation in there because it’s all meant to be quite ﬁlmic.” When Mica says ﬁlmic, she doesn’t necessarily mean in a conceptual way. She’s referring to the aesthetic and feel of the LP, so she grabs the promo to explain the cover, which looks like a purposefully poor quality image of old school embossed wallpaper with simple graphics overlaid. “It’s supposed to be like a ’70s ﬁlm poster,” she points at it, “that nostalgic thing.That’s why there’re a few sound effects in there, because it’s supposed to be like a soundtrack.” So, although the album does follow a loose narrative, in the way a ﬁlm score would, it doesn’t tell a story on its own. However, some tracks do ﬁt together. “It’s just that camp idea of adding extra drama and effects in there. It’s meant to be fun,” Mica adds. “I guess it is a bit conceptual in terms of the ordering. So, ‘Top Floor’ is about jumping off a building.That might not be obvious, but it’s about going up to the top ﬂoor and thinking about jumping off – then the next track is ‘Fall’.” It’s with ‘Fall’ that the album takes a dip into eerie ballad territory.Thrumming, jazzy bass lines back Mica’s quite even, straight-ahead drawl, both of which are broken up by wayward drum rolls and offkilter beats. After a short silence, the track starts up again with what sounds like a movie reel snapping back into action after a rest, with a crackling, string assisted soundtrack to take the listener into the haunting ‘Nothing’. On this, both Mica and Marc sing about some psychotic character who “cracked a grin” as the “painfully thin” protagonist retched to a demented organ that stumbles all over the place. If this was soundtracking a ﬁlm, we’re quite sure it’d be a psychotic thriller. Inexplicably following after ‘Nothing’ and to close the album is ‘Nowhere’, which is an explosion of brash, energetic drums, chants and frantic riffery. Mica thinks on this for a while, furrowing her brow. “I don’t know,” she ﬁnally pipes up. “We spent a while ordering the album… no we didn’t actually spend a while on it, we just did it. But yeah, it does slow down towards the end and then is mad again for one song. I hadn’t really thought about it. The reason is, there’s no rhyme or reason to it.” And with that she reveals a gappy grin. “I guess I’d like to have an answer but I don’t.”
ith a lot of things Mica does, there’s no real method or planning to it. Even when she takes on more work than she can manage, she still starts on something else or at least is aching to. “I’m always thinking about music, so I’m always doing things I shouldn’t be doing. If I’ve got a deadline for something, I won’t really want to do it, I’ll start a new project.” She sighs at her inability to devote her focus to one thing at a time. “Sometimes it works out well,” she defends, “sometimes I get in trouble. But it’s freeing – it’s difﬁcult when you’re being told to do something. I’m trying to come up with a bit of a system, but you don’t want to
lock yourself down.” When it comes to actually writing the backbone of a song, there is one routine she favours. “I like singing ﬁrst,” she says.“Singing some words I’ve written, making up a melody and then harmonising that. It depends, because I’ve been writing a lot more on guitar recently, but if I’m doing electronic music it’s best to start with singing. “If you think about the words in your mind, then you might use intonation – the way that you say it might be more natural. If you’re trying to ﬁt words into something you’ve sung, it can work, but I think it’s better if you say a sentence the way you’d say it in real life. Then if you put an accent on or lengthen a certain word, it might become funny or more interesting because you wouldn’t normally do it that way.To be honest, I’m still getting to grips with it. I wish I had a way.That’s what I’m aiming to get in the near future – a pattern and a way.” Not having to stick to too many personal deadlines and an overﬂowing mount of ideas, means that Micachu and the Shapes end up writing stacks of new material constantly. In recent live shows they’ve already started playing new songs and the second album isn’t even out yet. “I just want to put out another album quite soon,” she says with a knowing smile.“Because we took a break, when we got back together and started playing again it was fun to keep writing stuff. Also, with going on tour, it keeps things moving, keeps the freshness.You have to keep trying things out, otherwise you get stuck if you’re just playing the same stuff over and over again. I hate doing that. “I guess when we go on tour we’ll probably put some older songs in the set, but at the moment, I don’t think a lot of people know who we are, so we can play whatever we want.” It’s at this point that her friend Taza rocks up to record and Mica tells me that it’s been “like Piccadilly Circus” all day. Her mum and sister have already stopped by for doughnuts and tea, her neighbour Pete has been round with her repaired hard drive and shortly before we sat down with her, she was doing a photo shoot. Obviously her mum and sister have to love her unconditionally, but it says a lot about Mica as a person that so many people – both big and small name artists – want to help her out and collaborate with her. But when I ask how she manages to build up such a great rapport with so many people, we’re met with a silent stare of genuine puzzlement. “Er…I don’t know,” she blinks. “The London music scene is quite small and when I did the ﬁrst mixtape in 2008 or 2009 everyone was starting out and it was just a way to mix everything together. I think it’s because I do producing as well. If I was just in a band I probably wouldn’t meet so many people, but producers work with so many different acts. It doesn’t always work out, but I guess doing mixtapes is a good way of showing little sketches or ideas without committing to an album or an EP project. And it shows relationships that maybe loads of other people have but aren’t in the open, because the project never pans out to be a proper thing. I don’t know, I think lots of people know each other but sometimes they don’t write together. But I guess communicating with people and having remixes – that builds relationships between people. Like Taz.This is Taz
“MY AMBITION WAS ALWAYS TO BE A COMPOSER OF CLASSICAL MUSIC. THAT’S MY LONG TERM PLAN”
– Taza, she’s a singer.” She gestures towards the girl who’s just walked in and positioned herself towards the ‘back’ of the room. So out of all these joint ventures, there must be one person who Mica really favours working with – that one collaboration that when they’re together, everything just falls into place. “Oh man,” she pauses, eyes wide, before spluttering “Taza” and erupting with laughter. “It’s not really that simple,” she answers once she regains her composure and Taza buries her grin in an art book. “I couldn’t say.There are different things about each one of the main collaborations I’ve had – the one with Kwes and my band and Matthew – I don’t know, there’s always something to gain from those. That sounds fucking cheesy, doesn’t it? I don’t know, it depends really. It’s a relationship, so sometimes it’s really working, sometimes it’s not as exciting as it was and sometimes it gets more exciting than it ever has been.” Obviously working with alt-disco juggernauts Hot Chip and Metronomy – not forgetting the likes of Jack Penate and Golden Silvers on top of that – is a pretty big deal in the industry and has probably opened all kinds of doors for future work. “I don’t know, we’ll have to see.” Mica brushes off the enquiry in what we want to believe is a secretive tone but feel is actually just bear honesty.“I could continue working with a lot of people who I already do, no doubt, and hopefully I’ll go and work
with some musicians in Brazil. But I guess I should keep it as a surprise. It’s gotta be on the ﬂy, otherwise if I make a plan to work with Nicki Minaj and it doesn’t happen, I’ll feel really disappointed.” For now, the experimental pop maverick and her ‘Shapes’ are incredibly busy, so they wouldn’t exactly have time for Ms Minaj, even if the iconic, RnB star requested them personally. Firstly, they’ve got to conquer the States: “We’re going to put out this album and go to New York to tell people about it. Then make loads of videos because that’s a good way to change things up a bit. So yeah, just busy, it’s good to be busy, although I’d like to not be busy, actually.” After New York, the trio are aiming to head out on a tour of the UK and Europe and who knows – maybe 2012 will be the year that the group ﬁnally go stratospheric, should mainstream pop start yearning for an avant garde twist on the genre. But when it comes to Mica’s own future, there’s a clear classical path. “My ambition was always to be a composer of classical music,” she states adamantly.“I was still in college when I started doing this side thing, but then that took over. I’m hoping to write a piece this year actually. That’s my long term plan – what I wanna do when I’m older.When I grow up.”
NICK GARRIE THE EXTRAORDINARY TALE OF A LOST MASTERPIECE THAT GATHERED DUST FROM ITS INCEPTION IN 1969 UNTIL 2005
When listening to ‘The Nightmare of J.B Stanislas’, it’s difﬁcult not to view it as an epoch deﬁning record; one drenched in the zeitgeist qualities of the 1960’s alternative baroque pop movement, but dowsed equally with foresight and a contemporary timelessness to it. However, the truth of the matter is that while recorded in 1969, Nick Garrie’s debut album didn’t see the real light of day until a reissue in 2005 (and again in 2010), leaving it as a lost record drifting in the ether of time, with only a handful of French vinyl releases in existence and exchanging hands for up to a £1,000 a copy. The story of Nick Garrie and ‘The Nightmare Of J.B Stanislas’ is one plagued by misfortune and immense intrigue. After an exquisite performance of said album accompanied by full band and strings at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound, I caught up with Garrie to learn all about the record and his fascinating tale. Nick was born in Yorkshire to a Scottish mother and a Russian father, although as he tells me,“[I was] only in Yorkshire for one day. My Scottish mother wanted a UK baby while my Russian Paris-based father did not”. So Nick spent a large part of his adolescence in French boarding schools, where his ﬁrst experiences with music began via the school choir before he picked up a guitar at the age of thirteen. While at Warwick University he began to write songs, although he didn’t begin to perform until 1968 when he was backpacking through the south of France, ﬁnding himself playing in bars and restaurants. This led to him making a record in Brussels (this too remains unreleased). A year later he got a deal with the Paris-based label DiscAZ. Eddie Vartan was on board to produce the record and completely against Nick’s desires he hired a 56-piece symphony orchestra for the sessions. Nick later bemoaned of the “detrimental effects of such lush orchestration” on the “delicate, uncommonly literate songs”. For an album with such a ‘lost classic’ association to it, it’s actually one that doesn’t (or didn’t) hold as much appeal to its creator. “The ﬁnished outcome was disappointing to me,” he admits, further elaborating in the biography of the album. “When I went into the studio I could hardly recognise any of the songs,” he wrote. “Eddie was absolutely charming to work with, but the album pretty much broke my heart.” His string-assisted performance at Primavera was quite the opposite, though. “It was a great experience,” he beams, although keen to point out that “the band and strings followed me as opposed to the original album, which was the opposite.”
However, if the forced string section and end outcome of the record was a bump in the road, what lay ahead was a giant concrete wall. The label boss and president of DiscAZ, Lucien Morisse, committed suicide within days of the album’s release, ultimately burying it and its contents in the company’s warehouse with no distribution or promotion available. Nick recalls hearing (or seeing), the news. “Shock!” he understandably tells me. “I remember seeing it on a billboard in Italy and I knew then the album would never be released.” Such is the scarcity of the record that rumours surrounded around whether Nick himself even owns an original copy in 2012. “I didn’t until quite recently,” he conﬁrms.“I never kept any copies and only really found out about it when I started teaching a couple of years ago and looked it up on the net for a laugh. I got a big shock because ‘…Stanislas’ is all over the place, but the other albums I made hardly get a mention.” Nick’s relationship with the record, even though it has gained something of a cult status, is still a slightly ambivalent one.“I never liked the album but I don’t like to say so because so many people from all over the world have written and told me what it meant to them,” he says rather coyly. Disheartened with the experience, Nick quit music, further reinforcing his feelings on the matter as he pointedly tells me, “I have never had any faith in the music industry.” Although disappointed and left without an album (for the second time), it has not embittered and made him resentful, though, as he enthusiastically spurts, “That’s one of my only redeeming features! I don’t hold grudges, and if people are there who want to hear my songs then that’s what they’ll get, no holds barred!” He quit music and began to manage a ski resort in the Swiss Alps, however his desire to perform was inescapable and eventually he found himself recording again with former Cat Stevens sidemen Alun Davies and Gerry Conway to produce 1984’s ‘Suitcase Man’, this time under Nick Hamilton, presumably to escape the unwanted legacy of his own name. It went to number one in Spain and made way for a tour with Leonard Cohen – a time Nick remembers fondly, saying,“he was a huge inﬂuence on me as a performer and he improved me with just little hints. He was gentle, courteous and blessed with a ﬁne sense of humour.” Nick once elaborated further to Edinburgh’s Leither Magazine on the inﬂuence of Cohen on him as a performer, stating, “I came down from the mountains with my rucksack and guitar and I think he was intrigued. He quickly realised that I had never sung to more than
50 people and took me under his wing and explained to me that the audience sent out their own vibes which when they met the singer’s made for a beautiful concert. All news to me, for I had previously knocked back a stiff one and set off with my eyes closed. Now I sense the crowd from the ﬁrst song like a matador watching the bull as he comes out.” These days a full time I.T. teacher who’s gone by the name Hamilton since the release of his debut album, Nick typed ‘Nick Garrie’ into a search engine during a lesson one day for a joke.To his surprise, what he found was a tonne of websites and articles gushing over the mysterious and wonderful ‘The Nightmare Of J.B Stanislas’, which led him to enter a singer-songwriter contest. He took ﬁrst prize and things began to snowball. He set up a webpage and all of a sudden a teacher in his mid ﬁfties was now facing offers from record labels across the world to reissue the album. In 2005, he decided on Joe Foster, head of Rev-Ola and once of Creation records.When trying to sum up his feelings on the time he rather simply states, “just amazement at the whole thing.” Nick has since gone on to become something of a hero among the Scottish indie crowd, recording with the likes of Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) Douglas T. Stewart (BMX Bandits) and Ally Kerr. He’s toured the world, and when playing the Indietracks festival in 2009 even brought out several of the pupils he teaches to form a choir onstage. 2010 saw the 40th anniversary edition of his debut released to even more praise than ever before, cementing its reputation as one of the most peculiar stories in pop history, wrapped up in a record as beautiful as The Beatles and Love at their more ornate. Such is the intrigue involved with Nick’s life, he will tell it in full during one of his rare live performances. “I am playing a one hour set at Primavera Portugal where I will tell my life in songs,” he says. “‘Stanislas, the island, the mountains, Francis Lai in Paris, ‘Suitcase Man’ with Cat Stevens’ musicians, Portugal and back home again, wherever home will turn out to be.” The story, myth and legend of Nick Garrie, I’m happy to say, continues.
PHOTOGRAPHER - DAN WILTON WRITER - DANIEL DYLAN WRAY
“I REMEMBER SEEING THE NEWS ON A BILLBOARD IN ITALY AND I KNEW THEN THE ALBUM WOULD NEVER BE RELEASED”
LOUD AND QUIET ALBUMS LIVE FILM REVIEWS
AL BUMS 08/10
BEAK> >> (Invada) By Edgar Smiht. In stores July 2
Purity Ring Shrines (4AD) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores July 23
By combining and evolving the two, Grimes all but paralysed the one-dimensional, purist movements of witch house and chillwave earlier this year. Poliça – electronic music’s even more reﬁned and inventive newcomers – dug a hole, and now Montreal duo Purity Ring are about to push in everyone else still happy to ape Salem and/or Toro Y Moi. ‘Shrines’ is the band’s debut album, and its timing is exceptional. Not only has it arrived in a year where bedroom-produced electro is reigning supreme, it’s a record that adds something missing from the summer months – the cherub vocals of Megan James. In their own, weird ways, Claire Boucher and Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh remain sexy in their affected vocal deliveries; James is meet-the-parents cute, even (or especially) when she’s soaring above the demonically twisted, cut’n’shut vocals of producer partner Corin Roddick, best demonstrated on the opening ‘Crawlerscout’. Over screwed beats that – okay – are still inspired by the usual ’90s RnB touchstones that witch house snatched and dully corrupted, James lays girlish pop singsong over layer upon layer of synth tricks polished to
within an inch of Owl City. Where James is happily direct on tracks like ‘Ungirthed’, not singing easily recognisable vocal hooks (she frequently sounds too pixielike for the human ear to really cotton on to what she’s chirping), but ultimately turning in a straight take, Roddick provides the complete opposite, stacking up Casio bossa nova sequences, wub-wub bass, tripping snare drums and what we must presume are his own vocals, played backwards and slowed to an indecipherable slur.This recipe of an upfront, female vocal surﬁng a wave of playful electronics that are nothing if not impressively dense and varied, is then repeated a further 10 times, only served at differing speeds. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but by making ‘Belispeak’ twice the tempo of super slow, post-dub-step-indebted ‘Grandloves’, ‘Shrines’ big trick never seems to get tired. James’ vocals, on the other hand, do eventually ﬂirt with being a little too indulgent; a bit too Nigella; blood-clottingly yummy. Without a sweet tooth, you might be hankering for Roddick’s beats on their own, and they’d certainly stand up that way. But there’s no denying that James’ sunny, Saint Etienne ways give Purity Ring something that the other chopped’n’screwed RnB manipulators don’t – a unique mix of wilfully hi-ﬁ ‘pop’ and nerdy electro oddities.
Portishead founder, dub visionary and Fender Rhodes enthusiast Geoff Barrow has an enviable portfolio; that signature melancholic and otherworldly production style having left its mark on Portishead’s ‘Third’,The Horrors’ ‘Primary Colours’, and the Anika debut. Since its inception in 2009, BEAK> lay just outside that line of work.The soundworld is, as before, an eerie, head-nodding reﬂection of urban decay and psychic malaise. But the band was also a venue in which to play with ideas that wouldn’t ﬁt elsewhere (we don’t picture Beth Gibbons playing Rough Trade East in a bird mask anytime soon).The mood was discernibly more relaxed, even when, musically, their record was a monolithic, heavy affair, all post-industrial electronics and lowend stoner fuzz. ‘>>’ is recorded in less of an ‘E2 E4’-spirited discipline than their ﬁrst. Some overdubs have been let back in and the result is a less ferociously detuned, less stomachhollowing but more focused piece of music.There are more vocals this time around too, but, seeing as these are more of the acid-casualty-downa-well sounds we’re used to, it’s not like they intrude. While touring in between records, BEAK> apparently let the relaxed, fun element overstep the mark, becoming, in their own words, “a God-awful proggy pub-rock outﬁt”.They might have recalibrated their approach and rediscovered their original menace but they’re still having fun, slipping in more knowing genre references (a forthright, doom-y lead track called ‘Wulfstan’, a campy doo-wop a cappella ending on ‘Deserters’ etc.). If ‘Dummy’ was the superlative dinner party music of the go-go ’90s, ‘>>’ is the weirder equivalent for our post-9/11, post-Come Dine With Me epoch.
Mission of Burma
The Tarnished Gold
(Sub Pop) By Luke Winkie. In stores June 25
By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores July 2
By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores July 9
(Fat Cat) By Chris Watkeys. In stores July 9
Mysterious Phonk: Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp’ (4AD)
Californian quartet and deﬁnite LOOP fans Manna have named their debut album after themselves and track 1 ‘Acid Head’.As you may expect from the title, it a frazzled psychedelic groove, awash with swirling, hazy textures, protruding crunches and stabs of guitars.The ﬁve-song, forty-minute album is pretty much a continuation of that, heavily reminiscent of Spacemen 3 via The Stooges guitars that hack and eviscerate amidst dense layers of syrupy smog and deep, foggy fuzz. It’s a record that succeeds in being loud without being abrasive or obtrusive and in being circular and repetitious without bordering on tedium.At its most rewarding, it acts like a portal, sucking you into its world, a parallel realm in which all you can hear is a fast-forwarded and very angry version of CAN. It’s a kaleidoscopic sonic journey to take: it’s heavy, loud, freaked-out and pretty damn irresistible as a result.
I don’t know why Beachwood Sparks decided to put out another record 11 years removed from their warm, soft, plywood debut. It’s not like much has changed – these laidback Angelenos still bounce in unbound, languid, country-rock charms.The American southwest painted in acoustic guitars and poured through a kaleidoscope? Maybe it’s not hyperbole, not when ‘Sparks Fly Again’ feels like inﬁnity. Maybe the uber-hardcore crowd will be shaken to their core, but for me, this is good lyingdown music. Dulcet, plains-drifting tones done to absolute perfection. I’m not even sure how many more times I’ll end up spinning it, and for some people that might be a brutal criticism. Not to me though, sometimes something comes along with a creatural instinct to ﬁll all the grooves of everyday existence. ‘The Tarnished Gold’ is pristine execution; limitations be damned.
Mission Of Burma continue to show no sign of slowing or quieting down. Since reforming in ’02, ‘Unsound’ is their fourth LP – that’s three more than they ever made when active in the eighties. Nothing will ever compare to the magniﬁcence of ‘Vs.’ but they are past the point of having to contend with comparisons; since their rebirth, they spawned some gutpunching releases, reinstating their visceral snarl and relevance to an unquestionable degree. ‘Unsound’ is what MOB do best and manage so relentlessly. Its loud, hook-laden guitar crunch hits with intense brute force while being underpinned by peculiar and surreptitious glimpses of melody. On this record they show a magniﬁcent command over the true grit and essence of all walks of guitar music, covering post-punk, math-rock, metal and grunge, and rarely dropping the ball for a second.
The second offering from the new project of erstwhile Nine Black Alps bassist Martin Cohen, ‘Mostly No’ is an occasionally intriguing cocktail of baggy and grunge, fuzzed-up guitars set to a melodyheavy backdrop.There’s a tangible energy to much of this record, and enough catchiness around the choruses to keep you engaged, while the raw-sounding, deliberately rough-edged production lends a dollop of dirty character. ‘Stir So Slow’ is a campsite four-chorder, ﬂeshed out and scuffed up – a stoned-feeling slacker guitar trip with ﬁttingly hazy vocals. Teen-misery lyrics are set against sunny tunes, and the whole thing is simple and easy to digest.Yet without a supremely inventive or original outlook there’s only so much you can do with the bog-standard guitar’n’drums setup, and ‘Mostly No’ feels heavily hemmed in by those limitations.
By Stuart Stubbs. In stores now Like all young rappers in 2012, Florida’s SpaceGhostPurrp loves a mixtape. ‘Mysterious Phonk’ is in fact a best of, collated by a label more used to releasing the Grammy folk of Bon Iver,The National and Deerhunter than down tempo hip–hop with this much dirt under its ﬁngernails. Sure, SpaceGhostPurrp has a track called ‘Suck A Dick 2012’, but it’s not the rhymes that make this backroom rap – it’s the muggy beats, caner pace and oppressive electronics. Where Odd Future are hyperactive brats inspired by punk, SpaceGhostPurrp is an alarmingly calm stalker, closer to Tupac than Black Flag. It makes ‘Mysterious Phonk’ less instantly exciting, but you’re going to be listening to his ambient, weed-fug productions long after ‘Goblin’ goes the way of ‘Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em’, which was the week after it came out.
Twin Shadow Confess (4AD) By Chris Watkeys. In stores July 9
‘Golden Light’ opens up this second album from Brooklynite George Lewis Jr, and comes across like a synth-heavy remix of a Bloc Party album track circa 2004. It’s pleasant, but pretty generic, and a sign of things to come. It seems as if since his well-received 2010 debut, ‘Forget’, Lewis Jr has rummaged deeper into the eighties record box, accidentally pulled out all the duff ones, and enthusiastically cued them up in a playlist labelled ‘inspiration for next album’. ‘The One’, for instance, raises the uncomfortable sonic spectre of Paul Young in a shiny suit, while parts of ‘Patient’, with its ill-ﬁtting guitar solos, smack of none other than Mr. Luther Vandross. Much of the record, in fact, feels like it could soundtrack the closing credits to Beverley Hills Cop. Meanwhile, some of the lyrics are so cutand-paste platitudinous that they’d be better suited to One Direction.‘Be Mine Tonight’ brieﬂy offers musical respite before degenerating into a sickly, mushy chorus. ‘Confess’ is retro heavy in the worst way.
AL BUMS 07/10
A Place To Bury Strangers
(Lefse) By Melanie McGovern. In stores June 18
(Mint) By Matthias Scherer. In stores July 16
(Metric Music International) By Luke Winkie. In stores June 18
Worship (Dead Oceans) By Olly Parker. In stores now
(Decca) By Olly Parker. In stores June 18
Like the cut and paste dream pop of Animal Collective and Seabear’s Sin Fang before him, Akron/ Family percussionist Dana Buoy’s debut showcases a colourful and rhythmic melee of sounds inspired by their tropical composition location of Thailand. Recorded using synthesizers, laptops and iPad apps back home in Brooklyn, the dozen tracks reﬂect the luscious surroundings in which they were created; never more apparent than on thumping guitar number ‘Hand Over Hand’’s celebration of the trees. Amongst this thicket of abundant nature, Buoy has created a forest of audio wonderment as woody timbered harmonisation melds with electro-pop beats, swirling synth strings and looped instrumentation. From the glistening guitar to the live drums and thumb piano, all performed by Buoy himself, this is one dreamy collection.
The bumf for this record talks about how, in the new songs, Hot Panda boss Chris Connelly tackles ‘visceral socio-political topics’. When you look at the cover showing a stark-naked dude jumping into a pool, you might wonder how visceral this album is really going to be.Turns out that, while a lot of the punch lines are cloaked in sometimes forgettable – but mostly very tasteful – indie rock (think The New Pornographers and Ra Ra Riot), Hot Panda do have an edge to them.There are some interesting arrangements (the bouncy yet sneering ‘Maybe Now?’) and Connelly’s delivery is sardonic and self-assured.The title track is carried along by jangly, clean guitar squirts and boy/girl vocals, but it’s the motorik drive of ‘Negative Thinking Patterns’ that shows Hot Panda at their most bothered. More of that and less fafﬁng about, and we’d have a winner.
Hey, it’s Metric, they’ve never asked for much. Emily Haines and her melodramatic coil, those fuzzy-buzzy love-burned synths are just as obvious here as ever before – bright ﬁnger-painted colours. If it’s not working, you’re probably a little too cynical. She says ‘Synthetica’, Metric’s ﬁfth album, is about “forcing yourself to confront what you see in the mirror.” Not that I’m the excavating type, but I think that’s wonderfully full of shit. Not in a condescending way, I love that someone is investing those sorts of overbearing chops into records like these, because to me, ‘Synthetica’ is about business as usual. It’s passed through my bedroom a number of times now; I don’t think a single crucial moment has stuck on my consciousness. I’m pretty okay with that, but maybe that’s just low-expectations. Metric fans will be pleased nonetheless.
No matter how loud I play them, APTBS have never quite managed to translate the visceral thrill of their shows to record. Live, they pound you into submission, but on ‘Worship’, their third album, you need to dig deeper to ﬁnd your gold.There are hooks of course, but they tend to be instrument driven rather than vocally, and herein lies my only criticism of what is yet another ﬁne record. The vocals themselves are ﬁne, but they ﬂoat above the music and are way too high in the mix, and the normal ‘pop’ trick of pushing the vocals and burying the instruments has actually made this record less accessible, by blunting the soundscapes that make the band such a spectacular one.The normal touchstones are in place for anyone familiar with the band; early Mary Chain, MBV and shoegaze mixed with harder stuff. Few do it better, but live is still the place to see them.
This debut album from girl-girl duo BOY (I think the caps are important) ploughs a well-trodden, inoffensive and commercially friendly folksy pop trail. Much is made of the band’s viral spread and countless copy-cat covers of lead single ‘Little Numbers’ and, while I can ﬁnd little to conﬁrm the claim that the song has over 4 million YouTube hits, relatively speaking you can see why the single took off. It’s easily the brightest offering on here, loaded with hooks and ticking all the right radio play boxes. Outside the bland context of the rest of the album, however, it’s hard to see what makes this song different from countless other folk-pop offerings that smother MOR radio playlists. I’ll say one thing in its favour, their sound does make Mumford and Marling look edgy by comparison. Not what they were aiming for but a genuine achievement nonetheless.
Visions Of Trees Visions Of Trees (Something In Construction) By Nathan Westley. In stores June 25
The times of easy pigeonholing largely seems to be a thing of the past, with the lines between genres and sub-genres blurred to one big smudge. It’s no surprise then that the self-titled debut from east London duo Vision Of Trees should ﬁnd itself delicately perched across several electronic scene from past and present. Blending together Sara Atalar’s sultry vocals with gothic vibes, futuristic synth noises and heavy dance beats, this is a nocturnal album that radiates how adventurous it clearly is.Tracks such as ‘Turn To You’ and ‘Everything Awaits’ have all the hallmarks of modern day ﬂoor ﬁllers begging out for dubstep makeovers, while the trance-like wares of ‘Glass Rain’ pulsates with the inﬂuence of underground nineties dance culture while managing to never feels disjointed. It means that ‘Visions of Trees’ is an album that often ﬁnds itself cuddled up in a halfway home between lager soaked Ibiza danceﬂoors and Grimes’ outwardly esoteric pop.
Mac DeMarco Rock And Roll Nightclub (Captured Tracks) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores July 2 Until now, Canadian-born Mac DeMarco has ploughed a furrow of DIY that if not ‘serious’ was at least more so than this collection of sleazy lounge songs.Then he was calling himself Makeout Videotape while holding down ‘play’ and ‘record’ on his portastudio; now he’s not hiding behind a moniker but rather half speed vocals, warped to a dirty, deep croon, making him sound like Chris Isaak singing ‘Wicked Game’ over and over. As accidents go (this, he says, is the result of him “fucking around”), they don’t come much happier, because while ‘Rock And Roll Nightclub’’s tongue and cheek constantly cuddle, it’s never annoyingly daft either. Roughly split into two halves, the latter is the sketchy singer as he’s always been, living out his Pavement fantasies (‘She’s Really All I Need’), sounding like Ariel Pink (‘Move Like Mike’) and releasing his lo-ﬁ, Lou Reed-ish, inner funk (‘I’m A Man’).The ﬁrst half is where DeMarco does his Elvis-gone-bad bit, the title track, ‘Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans’ and ‘European Vegas’ (about his hometown of Montreal having ideas above its grotty station) all sounding identical to one another.We’re happy to hear him purr on over one never-ending, laconic surf riff, though, because when ‘Rock And Roll Nightclub’ is at its least cavalier, it’s also at its most oddly exotic. Enjoy the sleaze.
Ideas of Happiness
Swing Lo Magellan
(Modular) By Reef Younis. In stores July 16
(Domino) By Sam Walton. In stores July 9
Van She have quietly and conﬁdently evolved. Rooted in a heavy synth, ’80s sound, ‘Idea of Happiness’ owes more to the celestial experimentation of more modern contemporaries. And where Modular label-mates Cut Copy went all out to adapt and craft a bold new sound with ‘Zonoscope’,Van She’s direction has been more subtle than sudden. Once entrenched in the dancerock of the mid-2000s, ‘Idea of Happiness’ owes much to breezy rhythms and some effervescent pop production.The Friendly Fires-esque accessibility of ‘Tears’ and ‘Jamaica’ are breezy, retro throwbacks, ‘Sarah’ sparkles and shimmers with an anthemic, M83esque sheen and the playful steel drum rhythms of ‘Coconuts’ underpins the band’s current calypso fascination. It’s the title track that’s the standout moment here – a chameleonic,Yeasayer-inspired, three and a half minute of hooks, builds and bright choral breaks, it’s one of the many reference points on the album. It makes for a ﬁne, focused distillation.
Despite existing for nearly a decade, Dirty Projectors still feel like a band ﬁnding their shape.That’s perhaps understandable: their last LP, the frantic, berserk and virtually uncategorisible ‘Bitte Orca’, was only their ﬁrst to receive big label backing, and also the ﬁrst to enjoy almost universal mainstream acclaim. Accordingly, ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ is a prime candidate for Difﬁcult Second Album Syndrome, but thankfully it sidesteps any of the common symptoms by being, of all things, a simple pop record. Of course, this being the Dirty Projectors, there are still blasts of noise and a frequently free-form approach to tempo, but the real shining light here is the songwriting, which is more succinct, more direct and prettier than anything lead Projector David Longstreth has ever done.The effect is pleasingly addictive: save for the perhaps aptly titled ﬁnal song, ‘Irresponsible Tune’, ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ is effortlessly replayable, intelligent and beautifully written, but also – whisper it – strangely accessible.
A L BUMS 08/10
Peaking Lights Lucifer (Weird World) By Chal Ravens. In stores June 18 Following ‘936’, the sun-kissed slow-burner that quietly stole hearts in last summer’s heatwave, Peaking Lights have chosen to tread a diurnal rhythm with this set of cool nocturnal jams.The Wisconsin spouses haven’t strayed far from their previous template of dreamy, dubby psychedelia, but now it seems the mercury is lower and the sun’s gone down. Starting with ‘Moonrise’, a Reichian instrumental of gamelan clatter, these eight tracks pass through ‘Midnight (In The Valley Of Shadows)’ to end with the hopeful glow of ‘Morning Star’.Where the beats used to shimmer and sweat, engorged with bassiness, they now bubble and ﬁzz with brittle tension.The album’s title hints towards darker forces at work – a change partly borne out by the minor key vibes present throughout – but the languorous Spiritualized-style grooves of ‘Beautiful Son’ and the endless trippy vistas of ‘Lo Hi’ are actually swollen with joy and elation. Lucifer was a bringer of light, after all, and the birth of Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis’ son Mikko seems the underlying inspiration for every song (the chubby-cheeked infant even appears in their press shots now). Beyond the superﬁcial similarities, you’ll ﬁnd that where ‘936’ radiated heat and humidity, ‘Lucifer’ is a record for the quiet hours before dawn: eight whirlpools of mystical bliss and hypnotic rhythm. A classy follow-up.
Ty Segall Band
Love To You
(Mosh Moshi) By Reef Younis. In stores July 2
(In The Red) By Matthias Scherer. In stores June 25
Fuck…off. Fuck off. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck… you get the picture.Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed takes the direct route with everything he does. An artist that doesn’t consider himself one, his ‘Work No 227,The Lights Going On and Off ’, that garnered the art-world’s acclaim was exactly that: an empty room in which lights switched on and off. Incidentally, that’s how ‘Love to You’ comes to snotty life. On the majority of its 18 quick-ﬁre tracks, repetition reigns. From the straight-forward, literal refrain of ‘Words’ or the matter-of-fact recital of the ‘b’ musical notes on ‘Be Natural’, it’s a scattergun collection of thoughts without the process; an album blazed through at a Tourette’s speed of short barbs and blasts of garbled, driving trains of thought and sound. Inspired by the instantaneous and the emotional, ‘Love to You’ might be light on lyrical depth and continuity, but it’s a refreshingly brutal reminder that it’s good to kick against the pricks and, sometimes, thinking is overrated.
In terms of productivity,Ty Segall has reached Thee Oh Sees territory. ‘Slaughterhouse’ is his third (not counting a stonking singles collection) album in two years, and there is another one on the way. His music is also very reminiscent of the fellow San Francisco band’s relentlessly fuzzy, sprawling psych-garage, but Segall’s songwriting, in this case ably supported by a band of collaborators, is tighter and snappier than John Dwyer’s.Take the sweet, ascending riff in the verses and the vocal harmonies of ‘I Bought My Eyes’, or the sweaty mess of a pop song that is ‘Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart’. Sometimes Segall screeches like The Sonics’ Gerry Roslie (there’s a messy cover of the latter’s ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’), and sometimes he mockcroons like a hormonal teenager, but all of it is done with more enthusiasm than you’d expect from someone who puts out more records a year than a swan mates in a lifetime.The odd psychedelic jam aside, this is a storming album.
Beat The Radar
A Million Different People
(Akoustik Anarkhy) By Nathan Westley. In stores June 18
(Captured Tracks) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores June 25
(Tin Angel) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores July 2
(Bella Union) By Chal Ravens. In stores July 16
By Melanie McGovern. In stores June 18
There was a time not so long ago when the exclamation mark became a common sight at the end of band names; it was a mark that signiﬁed that the band were more often than not a little over excitable and energetic in nature. Plank! are a trio that channel their energy into forming tight-knit, instrumental based musical jams, and ‘Animalism’ is an eight-track drive through futuristic Krautrock that rattles and rolls with unashamed abandon.While the extended prog vibes of ‘Dying For Pigs’ and ‘King Rat’ are akin to Chrome Hoof creating a cosmic space rock soundtrack for a modern day reboot of Blade Runner, the rifforientated ‘La Luna’ sees them ﬁnd a circular motorik groove and ﬁrmly lock themselves into it, while closer ‘Moonlicks’ has many nod- inducing segments to keep the most avid of kraut fans preoccupied.
Diiv once spelled their name Dive but they changed it out of respect for Dirk Ivens’s industrial project of the early ’90s. It’s not the most interesting of facts, yet it’s probably as unremarkable as this Brooklyn four-piece gets. ‘Oshin’ is yet another record of far away dream pop that washes over you but leaves you feeling as dry as you were before the opening and pointless intro track ‘(Druun)’; redundant in its style (it’s a lessaccomplished Coldplay instrumental) rather than its length. The band then dive (ha!) into a pool of Creation Records-inspired shoegaze that will neither offend nor replace any Ride records you happen to own.When they make a turn for the psych, it’s how Noel Gallagher might play it, and when I say that the liquid, indie basslines outshine everything else, perhaps it sums up best how crushingly okay ‘Oshin’ is.
A collaboration between Jamie Stewart’s Xiu Xiu and Italian band Larsen, the former particularly hates the name XXL, even if it is conveniently clever. It’s clearly a minor grumble of Stewart’s though – ‘Düde’ is the project’s third album, created in real time, light on vocals (there aren’t any, save for during ‘Krampus’ and eventually on ‘Vaire’) and heavy on twisted kraut indulgence. It’s no easy listen, coming across like the soundtrack to Germanic art house cinema from the ’70s, where space travel is most likely to be the order of the day. And so these experimental post-rock tracks segue from one to the other without you ever noticing that we’ve slipped from the ‘mad inventor’ scene to ‘lift off ’ to ‘meteor ﬁeld’. It could probably do with some visuals, or more of Stewart’s own pained warbles that work so well on the wibbly landing platform ‘Vaire’.
Something graceful this way comes! Poised and nimble, clasping a ﬁzzing gin and almost certainly wearing well-stitched brogues, New Zealand’s James Milne delivers his third album as Lawrence Arabia. Swimming against the tide of fashion with its trebly guitar, luscious strings and sparkling production, this concise set of nine songs isn’t quite weighty enough to demand your immediate attention. ‘The Listening Times’ offers Beatles-y melancholia from the ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ era, while ‘Early Kneecappings’ reveals a darker side, speaking of violently fucking your mates over. Such ‘classic’ songwriting, constructed from analogue nostalgia and an arch humour that’s just a bit wearisome, is easy to admire but always so hard to love. Despite a handful of winning moments, ‘The Sparrow’ is too featherweight to make its mark.
Following two band members leaving and two joining, Manchester’s Beat the Radar release their sophomore record - a self-assured slice of guitar pop with little hint at the band breakdown preceding it. Certainly their quieter numbers are the more compelling; in the tapestries of guitar ﬁngerwork on opener ‘Leaps & Bounds’ or the reﬂective quietude of ‘Moscow’, which is further enhanced by found sounds sifting through the lo-ﬁ production, while ‘Eyes’ showcases their experimentation with synths and electronics at fellow label buddy Dave Rowe’s home studio. Exploring adjustments to city life alongside adjustments made as musicians, this album is as much about travel as it is about home. And while certain tracks take you to ‘America’ or ‘Moscow’, their sound is undeniably entrenched in Brit Pop elements in its livelier moments.
The Very Best MTMTMK (Moshi Moshi) By Sam Walton. In stores July 2
Twenty years ago The Very Best would’ve been called “fusion” and excitedly lapped up by chin-scratching lefties across north London.To today’s genre-busting, collaboration-acclimatised ears, though, their Europeanengineered Afro-pop doesn’t hold as much shock appeal. As such, they live and die far more on the quality of their songwriting which, on their second album, is frustratingly erratic.The astonishing ‘Bantu’, also starring Amadou & Mariam and Babaa Maal, is wonderfully spiritual, layered with burbling electronics and produced with a subtle aggression, while ‘Rudeboy’ genuinely does deserve the “fusion” tag, combining dubstep, Detroit house, African hi-life and much else besides into an infectious slab of truly modernsounding pop. But elsewhere, ‘MTMTMK’ strays into the sort of Euro-dance smash territory normally occupied by LMFAO and Black Eyed Peas, and the tinny bounce of ‘Kondaine’ and ‘We OK’ sound little better than tepid Soviet-Bloc Eurovision entries.
THE CURE Primavera Sound, Parc Del Forum, Barcelona, Spain 02.06.2012 By Daniel Dylan Wray Photography by Eric Pamie
As openings to sets go, the startling replication of ‘Disintegration’’s ‘Plainsong’ coupled with ‘Pictures Of You’ is a near perfect inaugural, and one that creates an atmosphere as thick and intense as the muggy Spanish heat that hangs in the evening air. Instantly,The Cure generate a brooding ambiance, and for such a subtle and refrained opening song they backhandedly instate themselves rather ferociously, transforming a festival with its own feeling and atmosphere and making it theirs. By song eight we’ve already had ‘The End Of The World’, ‘Lovesong’, ‘In Between Days’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’, by which point the crowd have descended into spiralling chaos as thousands of people dance, twist and groove in discordant unison. It brieﬂy begs the question if they’ve peaked too early, but what a career this band have had soon becomes a sobering realisation. They continue to unravel themselves like a never-ending, magic carpet, stuffed with moments of subtle, bleak delicacy and some of
the most innovative pop music ever created; the most glorious example being the juxtaposition of the painfully plaintive ‘Lullaby’ that segues into the New Order-like pulse of ‘The Walk’. It’s almost like to separate bands duelling for our attention. With no new album to plug, tonight was always going to be this imposing smorgasbord spanning thirty years of goth pop, but the real assertion lies in the quality of performance as much as the hits that we know are hits. Pixies live in a similar existence.Their career almost makes it impossible for them to conjure up a suspect set list, but when the group played here in 2010 many complained of a bored, workmanlike approach to the songs, ﬁred off with precision and brutal force, but also an almost passionless sense of boredom. For The Cure, they exude an inexorable sense of indisputability tonight. Robert Smith’s voice still resonates greatly – he doesn’t simply sing the songs, he wrenches and twists and pulls them out
of himself, giving the same sense of barbed anguish and longing that’s coated so many of the band’s greatest recorded moments. Their set continues through the night, evolving and growing (and growing) almost deﬁantly never giving up.They come on for an encore, play three songs, come on for a second encore and play a further nine. By the time they reach their third encore and ﬁnish with ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, it’s thirty-six songs and almost three hours since they took to the stage, a feat still managed while ignoring ‘Faith’ altogether and only playing one song each from ‘Pornography’ and ‘Three Imaginary Boys’.They could have gone a further two hours with no dip in quality. The Cure’s performance tonight serves equally as an exhibition of the history of pop music as it does simply a rock show.There are few bands that can create music that’s as equally innovative as it is successful (27 Million albums sold) and tonight The Cure revel in all their glory as one of music’s most beautiful anomalies.
DOLDRUMS Birthdays, Dalston, London 01.06.2012 By Stuart Stubbs Photography by Phil Sharp
“Londi, Londi, Londi,” yaps Airick Woodhead, the ADHD brain behind the ADHD Doldrums. In sleeveless tees and pubescent mops, the Canadian trio look (and even sound) like what Late of The Pier are doing now, ﬁrst thrashing out a twisted mix of ambient techno, heavy bass house and brutal noise, then following it with some sloppy camp disco. Birthdays’s subterranean concrete casing should be ripe for a party band formed in the ﬁres of Montreal’s underground warehouse scene, and maybe on another night, with another crowd, with better sound, it would be. Unfortunately, the only thing that falls ﬂatter than Airick’s gawky “I could be watching Prometheus right now” gags are his band’s aggressive dance jams; sloppy, loud and lawless – the stuff of MacBooks colliding and jarring Nathan Barley animated gifs that make it all too easy for cynics to be down on hip music that, in actual fact, is not only trying to do something different but succeeding in the face of the retreating audience. Doldrums are at their best when at their hardest, emulating the schrill screech of new era Prodigy. Even at their worst you’ve got to admire their raw spunk.
METRONOMY Field Day, London Fields, Hackney 02.06.2012 By Samuel Ballard Photography by Phil Sharp
With a line-up bursting at its scenester seams – and everyone from Grimes to R. Stevie Moore in attendance – it is the evergreen Metronomy who we still turn to in times of reliable need. Guaranteed to never disappoint, the four-piece have justiﬁed their inclusion on virtually every festival of note this summer. Universal appeal is something to applaud, especially at the hands of an electro pop band that have remained true to themselves.Taking the basking – albeit brieﬂy – London crowd through hits from 2011’s ‘English Riviera’,Victoria Park is transported to a better place by some of the best keyboard riffs in the business. Considering the amount of peripheral acts that are currently developing a quasi-pop aesthetic, all could learn a thing or two from Metronomy and at Field Day they are the perfect accompaniment to the midafternoon wane – a conduit between the day’s events and the night’s promiscuity.Their world lap of honour seems to be ceaseless, and with tracks like ‘The Look’, ‘The Bay’ and ‘She Wants’ all becoming huge crowd favourites they cradled one of the biggest crowds of the festival in the palm of their perfect pop hands.
LIVE 01 Wavves Photographer: Sonny McCartney 02 O Children Photographer: Sonny MaCartney 03 Crocodiles Photographer: Marc Fuyà
THE SOFT MOON
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen 06.06.2012 By Olly Parker
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen 07.06.2012 By Samuel Ballard
Brudenell Socical Club, Leeds 07.06.2012 By Daniel Dylan Wray
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen 28.05.2012 By Samuel Ballard
XOYO, Old Street, London 25.05.2012 By Stuart Stubbs
I can never decide whether Wavves are decent or whether they’re a bunch of stoners ironically messing about. No wait, scratch that, they are deﬁnitely a bunch of stoners ironically messing about, but I haven’t decided whether or not that’s a good thing. I fell in love with second album ‘Wavvves’ back in 2010 and, after a bit of a stumble with follow-up record ‘King of the Beach’, they seem back on form with this year’s EP, ‘Life Sux’. They’re at their best when they play fuzzed out guitar pop. No gimmicks, no solos, just noise, speed and hooks. It’s the formula they stick to tonight, as the band has fun on stage and the crowd lap it up. Having perfected the trick of the two-minute scuzzy pop song to such an extent they can hold your attention for an hour by doing the same thing 20 times in a row, the band have created a troubling straight jacket for themselves. Any attempt to move away from the format leaves the audience looking confused.The odd deviation, such as a cover of Sonic Youth’s ‘100%’, is played with such straight-laced respect in comparison with the rest of the set it becomes an unwelcome intrusion away from the blasé fun of ‘No Hope Kids’ and ‘So Bored’. It’s a quandary – keep the kids jumping and never move forward, or drop the jokes and risk sending them looking elsewhere. If they can ﬁnd a way to combine the two then the next album will be one worth waiting for.
Standing tall and intimidating – although touchingly introverted – Tobi O’Kandi, front man of O Children, gazes apprehensively at a packed Hoxton Bar and Grill. Tonight the band, which is being supported by current headline grabbers, Savages, has a hard task on its hands, and looking nervous, despite his 6”8 (or so) frame, O’Kandi knows it. Playing second album ‘Apnea’ in its entirety, things start slow and although their opening tracks – ‘Holy Wood’, ‘The Realest’ and ‘Red Like Fire’ – are loud and relatively high octane, there is something missing.The bite is lacking venom. It looks like the job is too big. It isn’t until halfway through their set that O Children decide to assert their status.The album, which was written during the time O’Kandi was being threatened with deportation, is ﬁlled with the neurosis of his sleeping disorder, and as the set begins to warm up the tempo rises yet the personal, sometimes uncomfortable narrative remains. It’s a strange paradox, especially when the context of O Children’s record is put in place, but it adds an as yet undiscovered depth to the story. About to change the world? Probably not, but Tobi O’Kandi and his band make a good noise and when it comes down to it, what else matters?
For all the classic rock tone that seeped through the grooves of Lee Ranaldo’s ‘Between The Times and The Tides’ record this year, one might expect a slightly mellow, rootsy, even acoustic performance, but that would be forgetting that this is the (joint) primary gunslinger of Sonic Youth.Tonight, Ranaldo concocts a wonderful amalgamation of noise and melody, allowing the simplistic, often delicate nature of the songs from his most recent album to be fused with ﬁreballs of screeching guitars and blissful chaos (greatly aided by SY’s Steve Shelley on drums too). He strikes this balance perfectly and as a result the show is one packed with unremitting dynamism. As he exhausts the new albums material, we are treated to rather rambunctious and frenzied versions of Neil Young’s ‘Walk On’ and the Talking Heads’ ‘Thank You For Sending Me An Angel’ before ﬁnishing on a roaring version of his own ‘Lost’ – a seamless example of the guitar simply feeling like an extension of Ranaldo’s being, which when ignited along with Alan Licht’s explosive fretwork makes for a resolutely brilliant ﬁnale.
After releasing their second album, ‘Coracle’, in September 2011,Walls appear in no great rush to ﬁre anything new into the ether just yet.Tonight sees the duo – Sam Willis and Alessio Natalizia – grace the boards of Hoxton Bar and Grill and play a selection of tracks from their small back catalogue on what is unfortunately a relatively deﬂated outing. Running through ‘Vacant’, ‘Into Our Midst’ and ‘Gaberdine’, the pair’s attempts to take the east London crowd on a journey of electronic layering, interspersed with humanising vocal and guitar backing, is a stoic one. Even when accompanied by their stunning visual set there is a lack of any connection on this Monday night.The scene, and the product from it – with ﬂashes of light and surges of power – is like an electrical storm, reminiscent of the mangled soundtrack to an ’80s horror ﬁlm-cum-video-game. It could have been mind blowing – it should have been mind blowing, but it just smacked of a band going through the motions. An unfair criticism, perhaps, seeing as a show is often as reliant on a receptive crowd as it is a band putting in a performance, but tonight, while all of the components were seemingly in place, something crucial was missing. It was a multi-sensory performance, which lacked any sense of depth or emotion.
It’s amazing how quickly your ears adapt to sound.Watch your TV with the volume barely up and before long it’ll sound crystal; go see San Francisco kraut enthusiasts The Soft Moon and that shityour-shoes, bludgeoning din becomes the norm quicker than you think.With XOYO only half full, the once-solo project of Luis Vasquez seems extra boomy tonight; so loud that the ankles of your trousers ﬂap. It’s key to the band’s spell, cast upon a frighteningly gothic wave of motorik, industrial electro and Bauhaus imagery. Not wanting to buck what’s expected of them, Vasquez wears a Neu! t-shirt while the rest of his band look like Kraftwerk, in that wipe-clean sex doll way.They play to a continual, sickening strobe, yet their tracks lack a very speciﬁc trait of retro German house music – they all end within 3 minutes of starting. The band do the repetition bit, but it’s as if they get bored before we do, so they abruptly stop, only to start another pounding track cemented in one idea. For the large part they remain hypnotic enough, and you can see how at a later show (this one is at the sober hour of 9.15pm) The Soft Moon could aggressively immerse all non-believers.Tonight we momentarily zone out, which is nearly-but-not-actually the point.
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 05.06.2012 By Kate Parkin
CAMP, Old Street, London 22.05.2012 By Reef Younis
Walking in to the sight of orangesuited Hare Krishna’s brandishing chimes is a pretty odd experience, even in the student haven of the Brudenell. Hookworms readily embrace the challenge and invite them to join in on the opening song.The end result is a swirling, heady mix of tribal drums and epic distortion, blending effortlessly into the garage psychadelia of ‘Form and Function’.The raw visceral throb of ‘Teenage Dreams’ obliterates any idle doubts that this is a band to be reckoned with as the super loud drone of the local band is then met with the starkly contrasting Peaking Lights, whose organic techno gently tumbles forth from a tangle of wires and synths.With a telepathy akin to fellow synth pairing Moon Duo, Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes mirror changes with the tiniest of glances. Songs like ‘Dream Beat’ are ﬂuid and alive enough to turn even the most hardened hipster into a beard-stroking Womad aﬁcionado, and their soft blend of reggae, kraut rock and breathy electro is the perfect soundtrack to hazy summer nights. Set to a quirky visual backing track that includes a ﬂoating goat, the tantric hippy beats of ‘Tiger Eyes’ are softly mesmerising. Of course the Hare Krishna folk are here – the softly humming Peaking Lights are spiritually, gently euphoric.
Japandroids’ last tour on UK shores was a whirlwind of haste and hope – the desperate resurrection of a band in its death throes, determined to realise a dream. Come the tour’s culmination, off the back of an unexpected excitement around their longreleased debut, Brian King and David Prowse were visibly broken men, buoyed by the adrenalin and uncertainty surrounding their future if they ever were to stop. It marked a few years of hard touring from a band terriﬁed of catching up with itself – so far the ‘what could have been’ history hasn’t. Tonight, they make their return on much ﬁrmer ground.With second album ‘Celebration Rock’ leaked and set for imminent release, the expectation is palpable in CAMP’s low-ceilinged, basement sweatbox conﬁnes. Barracking through the punk-rock shellacking of ‘The Nights of Wine and Roses’, chugging riffs off ‘Crazy Forever’ and the howl-to-nothing of ‘Evil’s Sway’, it’s a blazing mix of the old and new – the frenzied liberation of ‘Sovereignty’ and carefree anthemia of ‘Wet Hair’ energising and reverberating the wild sense of freedom these two 30-somethings have clung onto most of their lives. Treated to the raucous street spirit of ‘The House That Heaven Built’ and an equally urgent ‘Fire’s Highway’, tonight, Japandroids are as relentless, breathless and unshackled as they were in the tumultuous 2009. Still surviving. Still at 100 miles an hour. Still very, very special.
CROCODILES THAMES BOAT PARTY Royal Princess, The River Thames 07.06.2012 By Chal Ravens ▼
What better way to celebrate 60 years of the fascist regime than a boat cruise down the Thames with London ﬁlth-rock promoters Sexbeat at the helm? Inspired by the Sex Pistols’ chaotic river boat gig during 1977’s Silver Jubilee, this jaunt is a double celebration for Sexbeat’s 5th birthday and the release of Crocodiles’ third album ‘Endless Flowers’. Parliament passes by on starboard side, but the only reaction from us wannabe rebels is a few Instagram snaps before we come in from the unseasonal cold. Virals warm us up with a blast of powerpop heat ahead of Weird Dreams’ deeply ’80s shade of indie, set off neatly by singer Doran Edwards’ ace Elvira t-shirt.The captain shouts over the Tannoy – he can’t steer the boat straight ‘cos we’re all standing on one side – and we’ve drunk the cider dry so a pitstop is scheduled for a top-up. The fresh crates arrive just in time, as San Diego’s Crocodiles launch into a concise but electrifying set of girl-group-gone-bad shock and roll; richly harmonious and tastefully trashy.There’s not a lot of room to crowd surf on deck but Brandon Welchez gives it a damn good try, clinging to the ceiling as his fans wheel him this way and that. Bellowing like drunken sailors, there’s just time for a rowdy rendition of ‘I Wanna Kill’ before we reach dry land. Bravo!
Electric Ballroom, Camden, London 05.06.2012 By Nathan Westley
CAMP, Old Street, London 06.06.2012 By Stuart Stubbs
Twelve years on from their birth, Liars are a band that have classically connected more with a critical backing than the public at large, yet across their six albums they have forged a path that’s weaved its way from frenzied dance-punk to sinister minimalistic sonic experiments. Possessors of a shapeshifting spirit, it should come as no surprise that tonight they should choose to eschew as much material from earlier releases as possible and instead turn their attention fully to showcasing the new on this preField Day warm up. In front of a closely huddled audience unfamiliar with what is about to funnel through their ears, the trio delicately lace together a series of songs where nightmarish electronic melodies and the familiar tone of Angus Andrew’s vocals cascade over restrained drums on songs such as album title track ‘WIXIW’ and the mindbending, disorientating oddness that is ‘Octagon’. Occasionally peppered by the familiar tones of an old back-catalogue classic, such as the foot-stomping rhythms of ‘Plaster Casts Of Everything’, where the band temporarily break free of their previously relaxed state, tonight has all the hallmarks of a band that is always looking forward. Liars still have no intention of ever standing still.
Poliça’s debut album, ‘Give You The Ghost’, is a stunningly original outpouring of android heartbreak.Written in the wake of a relationship train wreck, it’s Channy Leaneagh’s letter to herself, so drenched in auto-tune that she probably doesn’t even recognise it’s her voice speaking back to her.Tonight, at their debut UK show, the quartet’s dub RnB has made it through customs (from Minneapolis) in tact, but Channy sings cleaner and, especially at the top of the set, angrier than she does through your record player. It’s the one glaring difference, which is just that – different, not necessarily worse or better.What is better is every single pot-headed bass hook, played by bassist Chris Bierden, always with his eyes closed. It’s a shame he’s not looking, because the speed of his digits is more mesmerising than any light show you’ll see this year, and he can’t see duel drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson galloping and ﬂourishing together either, the latter doing so with an unnerving sense of nonchalance. Channy herself plays everything else, by which I mean she presses ‘go’ on a sampler, which is the only gripe to be had with this otherwise faultless display of musicianship and modern RnB song writing. Towards the end of ‘Leading To Death’, especially, you get the sense that Poliça could be one hell of a hip-hop jam band. For now, at least, these impressive musicians are slaves to the little black box.
By PHILIPPA STUBBS & STUART STUBBS
SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS Starring: LCD Soundsystem Director:Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern
Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren on set ﬁlming Marnie
The Genius of Hitchcock Making head and tail of the BFI’s forthcoming 3-month season As we hurtle through a year of national back-slapping and reminding ourselves of how bloody brilliant it is to British, it seems that there could be no better time for a dedicated love-in of Britain’s most infamous and inﬂuential director. Alfred Hitchcock has long resided at the pinnacle of the British ﬁlm industry, and to show its appreciation the BFI have programmed a massive three-month season to celebrate his work. Running between August and October, The Genius of Hitchcock, will see all of the director’s surviving ﬁlms – that’s a staggering ﬁfty-eight in total – screened, marking the culmination of the three-year project to restore his early silent ﬁlms. But with such a comprehensive programme of the good (Psycho, Rear Window and Strangers on a Train), the occasional bad (Topaz and Rope, with the far too perky Julie Andrews) and, perhaps most importantly, the largely unknown (Murder!, Sabotage and Young and Innocent), where the hell do you begin? A good place to start is Number Seventeen – Hitchcock’s spooky send up of the crime genre, which sees a group of strangers brought together in an abandoned house with a dead body for company. As the saying goes, mighty oaks from little acorns grow, and Number Seventeen, originally released in 1932, shows Hitchcock master his knack of marrying the ridiculous with the sublime. Beautifully framed shots and Hitchcock’s trademark stillness work to build up a genuinely chilling and mysterious atmosphere that is then subverted by moments of pure farce largely at the hands of Ben, a homeless ol’ cockney with a penchant for falling down stairs and keeping sausages in his pocket. Even when Hitchcock is taking the piss he still manages to produce work like no other director.
Another fantastic ﬁlm from Hitchcock’s preHollywood period is Blackmail. Forever at the forefront of innovations in cinema, Hitchcock began production on the piece as a silent ﬁlm, but decided to convert to sound during shooting.The result is a ﬁlm that became a landmark in cinema history and is commonly known as the ﬁrst truly British ‘all-talkie’ feature.The camp, slimy-voiced blackmailer alone makes you thankful for Hitchcock’s foresight.The ﬁlm’s climax at the British Museum shows the origins of another leitmotif of the Director, who went on to use famous landmarks as the concluding backdrop in ﬁlms such as North by Northwest (Mount Rushmore) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (the Royal Albert Hall in both the 1934 and 1956 versions). As a way of a celebration, the BFI will screen the ﬁlm at the very site where the ﬁnal scenes are played out, the ﬁrst time a ﬁlm will be projected at the British Museum. But if you can see only one ﬁlm, I strongly recommend Marnie. Filmed at the height of his fame in 1964, it sees the dashing Sean Connery as Mark pursuing ‘Tippi’ Hedren’s titular character, a kleptomaniac whose prudish behaviour leads to an infamous encounter on a cruise.The ﬁlm’s beauty lies in this central relationship, which rests upon an uncomfortable mix of domination, obsession and voyeurism, itself a mirror of Hitchcock’s own facination with Hedren, the ultimate icy Hitchcock blonde. In short, Marnie brings together both the light and dark of Hitchcock, interweaving his love of Freud, his strong use of colour and that slow-building tension with his own egocentrism and narcissism, encapsulating perfectly the work of a director who continues to puzzle, excite and inspire generations of ﬁlm watchers.
LCD Soundsystem’s career was impossibly neat. In 10 years, James Murphy released three holy albums, all offal-free incarnations of what happens when punks grow up and start making dance music. At the band’s height they then had the foresight to call it a day; their suicide pact a 4-hour show at Madison Square Gardens. Murphy was pulling the plug before he became too famous to ride the subway and Shut Up And Play The Hits is the documenting of that show (or wake) and a couple of days either side of it. In many respects, it’s a lot like Jay-Z’s own funeral march at the Garden, captured in 2004’s Fade To Black.The backstage chatter; the hefty chunks of live footage; the sense of bitter sweet occasion – it’s all there. But where we never really bought it that Jigga Man was really dead, LCD deﬁnitely feels like it’s over. And where Jay-Z gave us his pre-match thoughts, Murphy also allows us to see the aftermath – a freshly retired man with time on his hands. In a cinematic sense, the live footage is neither here nor there, playing like any other live show you’ve seen on ﬁlm, albeit with a soundtrack that reinvented disco. The songs themselves are as outstanding as ever, but when either side of them is footage of Murphy contemplating his career and life (during a press interview a week before the show and to himself a day after) you’ve got to ask if you need to hear or see the whole of ‘North American Scum’, even if Arcade Fire are on backing vocals. (Although, to be fair, there is a case for the entirety of closing number ‘New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down’ making the edit – the ﬁlm’s poignant high, unsurprisingly). Now 42, Murphy is the understated, modest pop star, distancing himself from his extraordinary heroes like David Bowie and Lou Reed, and yet here there is something special about him, possibly in his everyman’s coffee obsession, probably in his vulnerability and a sadness that eventually ends in tears.We should probably cry too – there won’t be another LCD Soundsystem.
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WIN TICKETS TO THE1234SHOREDITCH My employers, Loud And Quiet, have an invested interest in The1234Shoreditch festival.They’re hosting – or rather co-hosting – a stage there this year, alongside Rough Trade Shops and Jen Long from the wireless. It’s looking like it’ll be the last party of the summer, taking place on September 1st at Shoreditch Park, London, with a lineup that already includes Iceage, S.C.U.M., Gabriel Bruce, Savages, Dirty Beaches, Let’s Wrestle, Gross Magic and The Proper Ornaments. Later in the year than usual, 2012’s 1234 will also be bigger than before, spread over 4 stages full of future rock’n’roll. Ours is the second stage, and second is ﬁne by us.
Being in cahoots with a festival has its beneﬁts, like allowing us to get our hands on 3 pairs of tickets to give away to you. To be in with a chance of winning a pair for you and someone you want to impress, email the correct answer to the below question to email@example.com by July 20th. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing Iceage at The1234, but where are they from? a.) Norway b.) Iceland c.) Finland d.) Denmark
And last month’s Beacons festival competition answer: The National Park Beacons is closest to is the Yorshire Dales. Liam McFall was our winner. Safe!
MY TIME Diary of a somebody
What a fucking day!!! Although sadly for the wrong reasons. It’s a shame because it all started so well. I arrive at Buck Pal to be told that I’m sharing a dressing room with Jessie J, who I absolutely adore. Naturally, she’s more nervous than me, but I don’t mine – my Dior perfume helps to cover the pungent whiffs. Soon, we’ve got our own party going on, which often happens with people wanting to spend time in my dressing room above anyone else’s.Tom swings by, Cheryl and her little gay friend, Suggs who looks genuinely confused to have gotten the call. Dear Robbie keeps rubbing his teeth and mumbling “Shall I do ‘Rudebox’, shall I do ‘Rudebox?’”. Wonderful! Then in he come. Him, of all people.The snake! The room goes cold. It always does with Cliff.
What a deeply unhappy man.‘Let Me Entertain You’ used to be a welcome request; now it seems like a desparate beg from Toad of Cunt Hall.
Hi there. My wife, Jane, is in this little pot. She’s dead now. I’m pretty cut up about it, but her dying wish was for me to have sex in a chip shop like this one, see?
Ohhhhhhh... What are you talkin’ about, Ian? It’s me, Jane...
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely ﬁctitious.
PHOTO CASEBOOK “The inappropriate world of Ian Beale”
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