LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 04 / 100 PERCENT ROYALTY
Marmaduke Duke 1 of 2
PLUS Hatcham Social Crystal Stilts Wavves Fierce Panda Factory Floor Dan Deacon Crystal Fighters Eddy Current Suppression Ring The Thermals Ponytail
Atmosphere WHY WOULDNâ€™T YOU WANT TO ATTEND A PARTY HOSTED BY THIS MAN?
MARAMDUKE DUKE PHOTOGRAPHED by TIM COCHRANE
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Seeing Double For as long as we can remember we’ve wanted to run a split cover, but it’s not easy. NME did it with Pete Doherty and Carl Barat back when The Libertines were still lusting after a Dickensian England, full of scally wags and ‘Dilly Boys’, and Kerrang! have since printed ﬁve different covers for a special My Chemical Romance issue. Finding a band with members that look as striking individually as they do together though, is no mean feat. We can’t wait forever for The Strokes to return, and when we planned to fulﬁl our ambition with Crystal Castles we soon realised that we were kidding ourselves when saying, “The guy is cool too… right?” Chop a duo in half and, more often than not, one of a pair will let the side down, but not if you’re Marmaduke Duke: two towering, bearded Scots in drag and homemade eye masks who have also written a dirrrty disco/funk masterpiece. www.loudandquiet.com
Contents 04 09
07 – Cosmic / Grace / Jones 08 – Sick / Eargasm / Problems 10 – Trigger / Happy / Hendrix 14 – Pretty / Shitty / Photo 20 – I / Love / London 22 – Wicked / Shagging / Action 24 – Rotten / Reader’s / Wives 34 – Stupid / Stupid / Stupid 35 – Birds / Love / Dogs 37 – Sex / Gang / Bishops 38 – Hold / Your / Dick 41 – Solid / Gold / Muscle 42 – Alien / Peep / Show 46 – Beat / It / Yourself
firstname.lastname@example.org Loud And Quiet 2 Loveridge Mews Kilburn London NW6 2DP Stuart Stubbs Alex Wilshire ART DIRECTOR Lee Belcher FILM EDITOR Dean Driscoll EDITOR
Anna Dobbie, Ben Parkes, Benson Burt, Chris Watkeys, Danny Canter, Danielle Goldstien, Dean Driscoll, Elizabeth Dodd, Edgar Smith, Greg Cochrane, Janine Bullman, Kate Hutchinson, Mandy Drake, Owen Richards, Rebecca Innes, Reef Younis, Sam Little, Sam Walton, Simon Leak,Tim Cochrane THIS MONTH L&Q LOVES
Andy Fraser, Briana Dougherty, Caz Beashel, Dan Lloyd Jones, Richard Onslow, Simon Williams The views expressed in Loud And Quiet are those of the respective contributors and do not necessarily reﬂect the opinions of the magazine or its staff. All rights reserved 2009 © Loud And Quiet.
The Beginning 04| 09
FUTURE DISCO Even former skifﬂer Jack Penate’s gone Balearic, so disco must truly be back Writer: DEAN DRISCOLL
It’s been the sound of Dalston basements for a year or so now, but it’s about to break the mainstream once more: Disco and Balearic are ofﬁcially back in a big way, and we’re gonna be hearing a lot more from them this year, as its inﬂuence on London and the UK’s party culture, DJs, producers and even indie acts becomes more pronounced. In truth, disco never really went away, but for many the word still conjured up images of people doing the Carwash and wearing ﬂairs and oversized pimp hats. It was something your aunt danced to at weddings. The rich history of New York disco championed by pioneers such as Larry Levan, Francois K and Greg Wilson had been forgotten, until DFA brought it back to the indie
masses in the early part of the decade. Whilst that whetted people’s appetites, it wasn’t really until Disco Bloodbath and Horsemeat Disco blew up that people began to take the original music on its own merits. What has now proved a further catalyst is the rediscovery of Balearic beats, the soundtrack to Ibiza’s origin as the world’s dance capital, which have been championed by Bloodbath and likeminded troupes such as The Cosmic Truth. This month sees the release of Azuli’s ‘Future Disco’ compilation. With the inclusion of Greg Wilson, Aeroplane and Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve, it captures perfectly a sound that works on danceﬂoors and for beach listening. Aeroplane have become the hottest remixers
around at the moment, with their inherently musical approach to reworking tracks, making classics of songs that were merely good before: Grace Jones’ ‘William’s Blood’, Sebastian Tellier’s ‘Kilometer’ and Friendly Fires’ ‘Paris’, all appear on the comp. Erol Alkan’s Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve contribute their remix of Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Ulysses’, which generated as much excitement as the return of Franz themselves. Always canny in picking producers who capture the sound of the moment (for example Justice’s mix of ‘The Fallen’ from their second album), Franz also enlisted Disco Bloodbath. Greg Wilson is perhaps the godfather of all of this: the ﬁrst DJ ever to demonstrate ‘mixing’ on TV when he appeared
on The Tube in the lateseventies, he returned to DJing in 2003 after a 19-year hiatus, and has once again become a key ﬁgure with what he terms as ‘electro-funk’, capturing pop, disco, hip hop and funk from the late-70s onwards – an appreciation of great mid-tempo dance music that unites him and all the other nu-disco/nubalearic acolytes. Amongst these you can count Mylo, whose new material is said to have a distinctly Balearic disco ﬂavour, and Jack Penate, whose new single ‘Tonight’s Today’ is a Balearic ‘yacht rock’ classic in the making. Keep an eye on the basements near you: chances are there’s a disco revolution happening in them right now.
By Janine Bullman
Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits By Barney Hoskyns (Faber & Faber) Interviews and insights to postpunk’s most pioneering artists. ---------------------
BLUE ABOUT THE BLUES We need to bring genres back to basics, says Holly Emblem In 2006, the Klaxons and the NME surreptitiously invented a genre. Suddenly, nu rave was in and music magazines were collectively fawning over the Dayglo nightmare. Cue glow sticks appearing at gigs everywhere, teenagers in obnoxiously bright clothing and more rave-friendly-smiley-face logos around than at a Watchmen convention. A year later, the bubble burst, perhaps due to Klaxons declaring themselves as the avant-garde of the pop world at the Mercury Awards (much to the annoyance of anyone with half a mind, or half an ear for that matter), perhaps due to the masses hopping on the bandwagon. Everyone was sick of nu rave. Perhaps the moment it well and truly died was when an overly enthusiastic Myspace-friendly teenager appeared on a BBC Switch video declaring, “I am a nu raver.” Of course you are, but please don’t shout about it. In case you’re wondering what the human embodiment of the indie genre is then head over to the BBC site to watch a painful video featuring Amy, a selfconfessed “indie”, who lists the three commandments of being indie: Reading the NME, “the indie bible”, using hairspray
and being really into music. Thanks for clearing that up Amy. We all know that music magazines create genres, in fact, the NME has made a sport of it and this very paper has joined in on the fun before now (we’re still pushing ‘Blah-core’ as wall of sound gigs) but nowadays the genre gauntlet has been passed from hacks to music listeners themselves. A quick visit to popular musicscrabbling website Last.fm will give you more genres than you’d ever need. Wondering what genre to group Grouper under? How about “fart ambient”, or “not shoegaze” or even “eargasm”? Or then again, maybe not. But now the problems caused by genres aren’t just down to journos and over-active taggers though, it’s also to do with the connotations each genre brings to mind. Take for example postrock. Any half-decent band within this troubled genre will deny being a part of it, instead relying on the age old favourite quote, “don’t pigeon-hole us, maaaan”. Similarly, freak folk is another created-out-ofnowhere genre that musicians are grouped under, including Devendra Banhart, have now decided it is a “fucking lame” term. You can forgive critics
and fans for wanting to create some order out of the chaos, but it seems that whenever a genre is coined, whether it’s nu rave, post-rock, freak folk or even the new NME fad “shitgaze” (which neatly groups Psychedelic Horseshit, Times New Viking and No Age together), there is ultimately a backlash from both bands and fans rejecting the new genre. As we stumble blindly towards a conclusion, now would perhaps be the perfect time to offer a solution towards this selfcreated genre tagging horror. Unfortunately, I don’t have one, but I do have a way of deferring the problems genres cause. Allow me to introduce “Alternative & Punk”. iTunes users will already be aware of what a God send this genre is. Thanks to Gracenote, which is in control of iTunes’ music IDs and therefore tags, everything under the sun falls under alternative & punk. If you’re still pondering what genres Throbbing Gristle, The Arcade Fire, Metric and Mount Eerier fall under, then instead of setting up faddish genres you’ll come to reject in a few months, why not just shove everything under alternative & punk? I have and never looked back since.
From the highly renowned rock critic and author of cult post-punk history Rip It Up and Start Again comes this companion book of interviews and conversations with the post-punk era’s most ground-breaking musicians and inspiring characters, featuring the likes of Bill Drummond, Edwyn Collins and Suicide’s Alan Vega. The book contains 32 interviews along with the author’s own reﬂections on the movers and shakers of the late 1970s early 1980s such as Leigh Bowery and Ian Curtis. Totally Wired is a spectacular insight to a period of huge cultural and musical signiﬁcance written in Reynolds unique style.
Blowback By Michael Forewell With Lee Bullman (Pan Macmillan) One women’s journey to discover the roots of American music. --------------------Amanda Petrusich takes the ultimate road trip across dusty American highways as she sets out to discover the ancestry of Americana. From the Mississippi delta blues to the country stars of Nashville, Pertusich’s journey takes in the evolution of American roots music and tracks its inﬂuence on the country’s current music scene. It Still Moves vividly captures the American landscape and the music it inspires; as the highway unravels from New York to Memphis so too the soundtrack changes. Meticulously researched and beautifully poetic, It Still Moves is a captivating and enchanting guide to a Country’s culture that never fails to inspire or astound and Petrusich makes the perfect host.
TECHNO NOTICE If she had a Twitter account, Phil Burt would be posting ‘OMG, put that phone down!’
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, gigs were overwhelming spectacles. When the likes of Marc Bolan, Jimi Hendrix or a pre-face-fallen Michael Jackson graced the stage, every pair of eyes in the venue would be set ﬁrmly in stare mode as each ﬂinch and thrust of the artist was studied. Now, in the year 2009, you’re more likely to see people thumbing the latest advances in phone technology. One look at aspiring fem-bot Lady Gaga proves that musical showmanship isn’t completely redundant today, but we the punters have changed. No longer content with simply having a knock off t-shirt and torn ticket as souvenirs, punters now need more to prove they had a good
time. They are out seeking different ways to be able to take a piece of the night home with them, a way to capture it, treasure it and somehow make it more real. And they come armed and ready for this mission, with a camera phone, a Twitterfriendly devise or a crumby old wireless that only texts. Since digital photography ‘went accessible’, the sacredness with which the shutter button is pressed and a photograph is captured has all but disappeared. Without the need for a trip to Snappy Snaps, people have become trigger-happy fools with incredibly itchy ﬁngers. Epileptics beware – the view of the stage is now continually blocked by dozens of newly
acquired ﬂashing iPhones held aloft in the air and ﬂashing away. The people on the end of the aching arm are embarrassingly unaware that due to the shitty 2.5 mega pixel camera, their photos will never amount to anything more than a dodgy, smudged blur no matter how many attempts they have. And this level of distraction seems only to be on the increase as technology moves on. Just as we were Facebook’d out, a new social networking site had to got and destroy all real forms of communication once again. It’s called Twitter, now showing a constant stream of people’s thoughts on gigs as they happen. “Jackie - shame that Brandon had to wear that dead weasel round
his neck again”. As thoroughly interesting as that it – we thought he’d go for the peacock feather last night – poor Jackie has forgotten to watch the a majority of the gig. Lets face facts, no matter how many pictures you take, how many people you call while Noel does ‘Wonderwall’ – the oldest techno trick at gigs and one that’s almost as retro as Oasis themselves these days – and how many funny quips you make to your army of followers you will not be able to recreate the experience of the night, only ruin it for yourself while it’s happening. Of course, if the band are Gash, Twitter away my dear.
D OA NL
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Tubelord Adebisi Shank Blakﬁsh Johnny Foreigner Pulled Apart By Horses Dartz Holy State Sam Isaac Dananananaykroyd Brontide Good Shoes Cats and cats and cats Throats Pennines To The Bones Down I Go The Xcerts NEW�GIGS�EVERY�WEEK
Crystal Stilts Embarrassed by America but no Anglophiles either Writer: EDGAR SMITH Photographer: PAVLA KOPECNA
Like any hot, hype-generating new band that fails to come up with a cure for cancer, Crystal Stilts are getting a bit of ﬂack. The source of this tellingly aggrieved hufﬁng and pufﬁng isn’t the kids upping their Myspace plays, it’s brooding, old music journos blogging-away, essentially still jealous that yet another band have done what their undergraduate outﬁt Electric Clangers never did and got themselves a following. Ironically enough, for those who sneer at whatever fashionable new wagon has a band riding it, it’s pretty fashionable right now to talk down Crystal Stilts as ’86-ﬁxated Mary Chain ripoffs who don’t know their Liverpool sound from their Merseybeat. In a lazy effort to catalogue them and triangulate their inﬂuences, much of their content as a band has been overlooked. This substance reveals itself in twenty minutes in a deserted bar opposite Barden’s Boudoir, where they’re on in an hour. Singer Brad Hargett and drummer/one-time Vivian Girl Frankie Rose start by clearing up on the twin issues of soundpinching and being the cool new thing. “It’s not necessarily a shoegaze thing,” says Hargett, as if naming the genre again will give him a stroke “that sound exists on old records. We wanted to make the record sound like how we like records to sound, which is very mono with everything sort of washing in
and out of itself. A lot of 50s records are like that. We feel like we also get grouped-in with a lot of lo-ﬁ stuff but we recorded that record [debut long player ‘Alight of Night’] on two-inch reel to reel! We just use a lot of reverb; big plates and springs and stuff.” They are predictably and reassuringly deadpan about the ‘cool’ thing too: “It’s funny,” says Rose “cause we’ve been kind of tagged as this kind of fashionable band… and I’ve been wearing this outﬁt for four days straight. And when we have to do photo shoots, I don’t think any of us ﬁnd it glamorous, like tonight I ate a veggie burger at the Ali Baba café and we’re staying at Travelodge. “If people think we’re cool then that’s ﬁne, but I don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘Hey! People think I’m cool’. It doesn’t make me feel any better.” A subtler criticism of the band is born out of the relationship between British and American alternative music scenes, a relationship that’s been fairly one-way since a glut of Brooklyn and L.A. bands persuaded Pens to pick up guitars and Peaches Geldoff to move house. These particular Brooklynites are rare in that they are overtly inﬂuenced by England’s pop heyday of the 80s, making John Peel and Factory fanatics look for the nearest hobbyhorse. “The Smiths, The Jesus and Mary Chain and even Joy Division
are big inﬂuences but I think those comparisons come from having a limited vocal range more than anything,” confesses Hargett. “Like, you do the most with these three notes that you can hit. People have said that I sing with an English accent and I do not sing with an English accent at all. Mary Chain or Joy Division, they don’t sing with an English accent. When I think English accent I think of early Pink Floyd or The Kinks. To me it’s just the music that I’m into, a lot of that music’s British, but a lot of it’s American too.” For the band, the shiny ﬂipside of the disparaging column inches and blog splurges is a very nearly sold out European tour, culminating, for the UK leg at least, in this hipstergasm of a gig in Barden’s. It’s a buzzing show not only because it’s hugely oversold, nor due to a hovering Alex Kapranos, or the room creaking with a will-it-beshit?-tension, but because, once they come on stage, they quickly give preconceptions two ﬁngers, proving that 1. they do have a direction and 2. they were miscast as the valium-scofﬁng poster-boys of downbeat melancholia. The album the crowd has memorised at home was made three years ago and things have understandably moved on a lot, so the set, littered with organ ﬂourishes and reminiscent of early BJM’s 60s-revivalism, comprises of so much new material that they apologise twice.
Anyone who’d come planning to hang themselves later will have been sorely disappointed but for those who’d seen earlier shows there was fore-warning. “When you look at the new songs that we’re playing a lot of actually on this tour,” says Rose, “it’s pretty danceable, happy even.” Despite new upbeat tunes, Hargett still gives a good account for his more miserable numbers and his key-evasive, lost-in-a-wind-tunnel delivery. “I can’t relate to like scream-y stuff, you know, even in an emotional way. I feel like being upset sounds like Leonard Cohen and not someone yelling at the top of their lungs. Generally if I’m sad I don’t have the energy to really complain about it in that way. In reviews there’s a lot of drug references, like ‘I sing like this guy on drugs’. I mean I don’t know, I’m not an overly excitable person I guess… I don’t really think any of us are. “In terms of it being druggie it has more to do with us thinking that music is like a drug and we’d like it to give you that feeling, to make you feel part of it, like you could swim in it or something. I think the best songs you can kind of latch onto in a melancholic way, but they’re also a release. There’s a very ﬁne line between sadness and that release, and if you can kind of walk the line and touch on both those feelings then that’s the best music” The mention of swimming
prompts a question about the sense of underwater-like displacement that pervades ‘Alight of Night’’s lyrical themes, its music and its reverb-heavy production. “I think that’s just us trying to communicate how we feel that life can be like, you know? A lot of these songs were written when we ﬁrst moved to New York. We were surrounded by this city and it was pretty overwhelming – in a good way though – it can be sort of ecstatic if you take a step back from yourself and
just soak everything in. Even taking a train through the city and seeing everything ﬂy past, getting out and walking through a sea of people, it can all be really intoxicating.” This feeling takes on socio-political extensions too (previously overlooked depth ahoy!) as a conversation about the nature programme the bar is curiously screening leads us to the difference between US and UK TV ads. “It was particularly strange that after 9/11 the
most patriotic thing you could do was buy a car. The TV was like, ‘if you’re patriotic; buy a car’. It was kind of nauseating. I think all of us in the band feel isolated from the cultural zeitgeist, that is like going to the mall and buying shit.” “Over-consumption, consumerism, all those wonderful things Americans are known for,” adds Rose “I mean, in New York you don’t have to deal with it, you have friends that aren’t like that, but you just feel very removed from
American Culture and embarrassed by it. I actually sequenced the record so that there’s a trajectory of trying to remove yourself from an environment and ﬁnding some sort of better reality in yourself.” That hunt for meaning has, so far, gotten them a fair bit of attention, and whatever it is they’re looking for exactly, you’d be one cruel blogger to begrudge them an escape from their crappy coffee shop jobs.
Eddy Current Supp Everyone that works in a vinyl pressing plant should have a hobby... that gets out of hand Writer: GREG COCHRANE “We played this mini-festival in an alleyway a couple of years ago,” begins Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s guitarist, Mikey Young. “There’s usually one song where Brendan (Huntley, lead singer) goes for a walk in the crowd anyway but then everyone put their hands up and he just started walking along everyone...” Now, we’re not (intentionally) comparing Eddy Current... to Jesus but right now their underground worship back home is pretty pious. You might have been hearing about snoozy bronzed-hopes The Temper Trap and Tame Impala but Melbourne’s backroom lo-ﬁ fuzzrockers are far more interesting. “It all started accidentally and we didn’t have any ambitions,” says Mickey, sat up in bed as we wake him with a breakfast call from Loud And Quiet HQ. “It has always kept that low-pressure vibe about it. There’s never been any expectations for us to do anything - it’s just a hobby
that got a bit out of control.” Indeed, at four years of age the band has already gone far beyond what any member imaged when they met at Australia’s only vinyl pressing plant in their hometown (“if you’re into music at all the rest of Australia sucks compared to Melbourne,” the band say). It was there Mikey worked with Brendan and Brad Barry (bass). Mikey’s brother Danny (drums) also clocked-in at the plant. “One year we had a garage sale Christmas party - just to get rid of some records and have a drink,” he recalls. “We were the last to leave and once everyone else had gone we just started jumping on the drums and guitars. Brendan was there and we asked him to sing. There was no mic so we got him to yell into a tape recorder. He was drunk and I think he was having some girl troubles at the time or he was messed up. He’d never been in a band before, he’d never even thought of singing.” The following day, shaking off hangovers they decided to
listen back to the demos in the warm light of day. They were, much to their collective surprise, actually “really good.” “From there we decided to put out a 7 inch and play one show and that would be it - we’d quit.” Fortunately the record ﬂew and the gig wailed. “So, we decided to do a second gig and four years later we’re still kicking around.” Named after one of the factory’s electrical components, they decided from the outset they’d go it alone - like their heroes The Feelies, The Troggs and The Zombies - without much help. “We’re pretty proud of how far we’ve got without involving many other people,” croaks Mikey. “We don’t have any managers or bookers, it’s all done by us. For the moment, before it becomes a real stress, I’d rather just do it myself.” True to their word they’ve released both their records so far - 2006’s eponymous debut and 2008’s ‘Primary Colours’ - on their own label Aarght!. Both
albums will be packaged together and released on Melodic records (Minotaur Shock, The Longcut) in the UK this summer. And it’s that LP, ‘Primary Colours’, which incredibly got nominated for an ARIA Australia’s version of the Brits - last year. Perspective? That’s like The Shitty Limits getting a nod for Best International Band alongside The Script. “We don’t really belong in that sort of category with real bands,” laughs Mikey. “It was just a strange thing. You get a limo to the red carpet and you’re walking past Pink... it was bizarre. We didn’t win.” Amongst Australia’s vapid music-arti isn’t the only time they’ve felt out of place either. The band refuse to do photo shoots after giving in to doing one for America’s Spin magazine last year. “We did this one photo shoot - I know the girl who did it, she was lovely - but for us it was excruciating - we couldn’t handle it,” he says. “Then the magazine came out and we all hated the photo.
pression Ring 02 It was a total waste of time we said we’re never going to do it again. 99% of bands press shots you see are horrible - the band look like idiots.” Hence why they’re pictured above driving miniature building vehicles. Where they do feel at home though is on stage. Well sort of. “Two weeks ago we played at the Melbourne Zoo just out in the grass amongst the animals,” laughs Mikey. “It turned into one of our most amazing gigs ever.” Amazing is the right word, three thousand people weren’t just there for the cookaborough feeding time. “We
got to see some elephants - I hadn’t been to the zoo for about twenty years - maybe we can make an animal themed album.” When they’re not playing punk warehouse shows, or being invited onto the South Hemisphere’s largest touring festival, Big Day Out, they’re playing in mates’ beach shacks. If you don’t believe us, see the stunning video - more of a home movie really - for single ‘Which Way To Go’. “We actually played a show at, like, midday on the beach and only told twenty of our friends. We wanted to capture more the looks of passers by - old men walking
“We just don’t want to learn the songs too well, just to not work it and for it to lose its edge”
their dogs.” While Mikey is clearly the highly-motivated engine behind the band’s rise it’s painfully shy, glove-wearing lead singer Brendan who proves the most curious element. “At the start, his sense of timing was really weird,” remembers Mikey. “He doesn’t have an understanding that there’s four beats to bar and things like that because he’s never been in a band or known much about music. There are still songs to this day that I have to nod at him to start singing each line.” And his now trademark handwear? “He was just nervous and he just wanted to take something on stage. He kept looking around and put the gloves on. It was the idea of the security blanket - the thing that turns you from every day Brendan into Brendan Suppression. Now it’s just a habit, a good luck charm.” Not that the rest of the gang are particularly well versed in this band-lark either. Their ramshackle sound is deliberate.
“We just don’t want to learn the songs too well,” he reasons. “Just to not work it and work it and play it ten times and lose an edge to it. The same goes for the band’s recorded output. Album one was recorded in one day, the second in two. Urgency, isn’t just key, it’s a foundation. “If we can’t play a song that we normally play live in three goes then we probably shouldn’t be recording it anyway. It just works better if we keep it really skeletal. I think people respond well to simple, repetitive music as well.” Now, with album three on the way and plans to come to the UK next year, their frenetic pace doesn’t look like slowing. “We’ve started writing songs which doesn’t take us long - we write really quickly.” When, or if, they do arrive it’ll inevitably be a commotion. And, like the kids in the alleyway, we’re ready for Eddy Current Suppression Ring to walk all over us.
WAVVES Getting creative and doing their bit for the legalisation of Cannabis
Writer: TOM PINNOCK Photography: SIMON LEAK
Weed has long been an inspiration for musicians. Take The Beatles’ marijuana-induced attempts to write a song using only one chord on ‘Rubber Soul’, or Pavement’s surreal lyrical ﬂights of fancy on ‘Wowee Zowee’, for example. We’re not comparing them to the fab four, but you can add Wavves to that hallowed list of musicians inspired by the mighty ‘erb... “This is some great weed, real Californian stuff,” says drummer Ryan Ulsh as he packs the grainy contents of his small bag into a hashpipe halfway through our interview backstage (well, basically in a cupboard) at London’s Barden’s Boudoir. “I don’t know if you can smell that...” “That smells good,” sighs guitarist, singer and songwriter Nathan Williams, with the fervour of a man rejuvenated. They might enjoy a toke now and then - and have a song called ‘Weed Demon’ - but you’d better not call them stoner rock. “I smoke weed and I play music that I guess could be considered rock music,” explains Williams “but my idea of stoner rock is Sleep or Sabbath. I just write songs about whatever I’m doing, and a lot of the time that’s smoking weed!”
It’s not hard to hear the ganja’s inﬂuence on Wavves’ music – a cross behind the lo-ﬁ scree of No Age, Husker Du’s more dreamy moments and The Beach Boys’ harmonious hooks, their self-titled debut album and numerous 7-inches are pricking up ears all over. Talking of the Wilson brothers, the seaside is another big inﬂuence on Williams’, apparent on ‘Beach Demon’. Both he and Ulsh grew up on the edge of the map, in surroundings that so often inspire kids with skateboards to emulate Good Charlotte rather than the experimental hardcore of HEALTH. Wavves, by their own kickﬂipping admission, appear to be free-wheelin somewhere between the two extremes. “We both lived at the beach,” says Ulsh, who’s only been playing with the guitarist since the start of 2009. “I lived at Virginia Beach and he lived on the west coast, so we both grew up around surf culture. “Neither of us surf, I would say we both skateboard more than we surf. So the aesthetic is there, the beach aesthetic.” “I’m pretty deathly afraid of the ocean”, admits Williams, though. It’s lucky the poor lad’s got his garage to stay in, then.
Locking himself away with his Tascam four-track and Garageband in San Diego, Williams – fuelled by weed, of course – writes and records everything himself. But will he be getting Ryan to help him out on their future sessions? “Probably not,” he says. “It’s just easier to record it myself. Who knows, though? It’s just kind of easier alone.” “Nathan does everything live [in the studio],” adds Ulsh, perhaps knowing his place. “It’s Nathan’s baby, he does the drums on the recording, he does the guitar and the vocals, and he does all the music and writes all the songs. “We’ve talked about [me helping] but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself.” A second proper Wavves album could be coming pretty soon though, as Williams tells us he already has most of the songs written. “I’ve been writing stuff on the road,” he explains. “I’ve got another record, the bones of the record, maybe another ten or twelve songs. I like fucking around with them ﬁrst, feeling them out, so I have a little bit more structure to the songs before I go in and record it.” Watching the duo perform in Dalston, with Ulsh keeping the
drums tight and stripped-down and Williams rifﬁng away under his cries and wordless harmonies, tracks like ‘So Bored’ become catchier than they do on record – unfortunately, they also become less interesting, losing their edge of mysterious hiss and oblique fuzz, sounding a bit too much like songs a 22-year-old would write in his parent’s garage... strange, that. There’s also a distinct lack of the experimental ambient tracks that pepper Williams’ releases, like the recent ‘Killer Punx, Scary Demons’. “It’s pretty stripped down [live], I think everybody can pick out a lot of the melodies, it’s easy for people to hear what’s going on with just two people,” Ulsh later tells me, so maybe it’s a deliberate choice to embrace their straighter side on stage. Promisingly, Williams is keen to play some of Wavves’ weirder stuff live also. “Most of the ambient stuff is done on a MiniKorg which would be pretty easy to bring with me and program and work with,” he says. “So I think it would be cool to incorporate that, I just haven’t gotten around to it.” Typical stoner.
FACTORY FLOOR Making us question the very term ‘art rock’... and all other genres that they bastardise
Writer: STUART STUBBS Photography by FACTORY FLOOR Describing Factory Floor’s music is not easy – it sounds like nothing else you’ve heard, which is a right pain for us writing about them. A snappy ‘The Fall covered in experimental synthgaze’ would be a perfect and pretentious start, or ‘Joy Division with an extra side of gloom-wave’. Neither are strictly true – nor make a great deal of sense – and yet, at the very least, both band names clanged down here are bound to arise again as the twitching compositions of this trio creep out of east London and rumble deep into the bowl-cuts of hipsters everywhere. That’s what happens when you make dark alternative music that’s quite brilliant. “I have a bit of a problem with it,” says Dominic Butler, bass-thumper and synth-pusher. “Last night in Paris we were interviewed for a fanzine and asked if we were part of the ‘dark wave’ scene, and you’re instantly building up walls around yourself. I’d like to be in a band that makes music that makes us tick at that particular time, so I’m happy being on the fringes of any scene.” Recently topped back up to a three-piece – care of their rock-star-named manager, Nik Void, ﬁlling an unwanted gap on
guitar, loops and more synths – the remaining Factory worker (see what we’ve hilariously done there?) is Gabe Gurnsey; a softly spoken Mancunian who is the group’s veteran member, in charge of drums, samples, more loops and even more synths. Nik joined properly a heartbeat ago (bringing “a more rhythmic feel to the band; an extra colour,” notes Dominic) but Gabe’s been there since day one… nearly. Explaining how he joined four, sacked one, watched one leave and recruited Dominic, Nik looks comically alarmed at the forever-changing lineup. “Next you’ll be saying that you’ve got a basement full of bodies,” she grins/grimaces from the other side of their Hackney practice studio. They spend a lot of time here. Three hours ago they were in Paris, having played there the night before, and their ﬁrst port of call on return has been this beloved sound laboratory, festooned with jack leads and instruments and decorated with an equal amount of artwork ideas. Because art is important to Factory Floor. Already the band notably as inﬂuenced by photographs as other bands, their talk and love for visuals, installations and galleries suggests that ‘art rock’ could be the pigeonhole
we’ve been looking for, providing it’s real art rock of course, and not the swath of spiky guitars that have been trying to recreate ‘Take Me Out’ since 2003. “I was cleaning a load of stuff out of my mum’s house and there was a folder of my granddad’s old artwork and cine-ﬁlm and stuff like that,” explains Gabe “for me that was quite inspiring. I dunno, we just take little stories off things, names for tracks…” “It’s inevitable that you react to something,” adds Dominic. “You might walk out your door and see something, or go to an art gallery, or you could see a ﬁlm, and you react to it and then hold it in your thoughts and it gets recycled in [the studio]. It just comes back out somehow, in whatever I’m doing creatively.” And, creatively, Nik’s talking about contributing a piece of art to a collaboration the band have in mind with a Japanese clothing label. “We’ve talked about a collaboration with this designer where we send over some visuals,” she enthuses “but we were actually thinking about building something and casting it, and sending over the sections with a diagram of how to put it together, so it’s like
an installation. We’d like to do some more things like that, and possibly write something for a ﬁlm, so if anyone’s making a short ﬁlm out there…” You’ll not ﬁnd any visuals at a Factory Floor live show though. Art inﬂuences the music but to project imagery over the bands experimental noise-scapes “would dilute both,” feels Dominic. The music, weird and otherworldly, will be more than enough to hold your attention anyway. It held Bonnie Carr’s of Electricity In Our Homes, so much so that she made Factory Floor the debut release for her new label, One of One, putting out ﬁve-track 12” EP, ‘Planning Application’. Hypnotically, it loops and, on tracks like the opening ‘Taxidermy’, grooves to tumbling drum sequences and prepolished Klaxons bass thuds. Dominic and Gabe’s vocals mumble on and glimmers of calculated math-rock guitars come and go. Next in line is a Japanese mini album, a new 7” single for us UK-ers, a split single loop collaboration with Colin Newman of Wire, and an appearance at our club night in April. There you’ll see just how much this trio resemble ‘Radiohead’s bastard son with a lust for rewelding Depeche Mode’s shrouded pop’… or something.
PANDA TO THE AUDIENCE Everyone runs a record label these days, but if you still want yours in 15 years time hear Simon Williams out
RELEASED BY FIERCE PANDA 01 – Coldplay’s debut single, ‘Brothers & Sisters’. 1999 02 – Dead Disco’s second single, ‘Automatic’. 2007 03 – Art Brut’s debut album, ‘Bang Bang Rock’n’Roll’. 2005 04 – The Maccabees’ second single, ‘Latchmere’. 2006 05 – The Walkmen’s latest album, ‘You & Me’. 2008 06 – These Animal Men featured on Fierce Panda’s debut EP, ‘Shagging In The Street’ in 1994.
FIERCE PANDA’S FIFTEEN TIPS FOR SURVIVAL >
- With Grunge just a trigger pull away from its violent, visceral ﬁnale, and the criminal justice bill rattling the cages of almost anyone who liked to hang around in a group of more than 2 (maybe), people needed something wicked, dirty and ﬁlled with speed. Enter These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H with Grange Hill Adidas apparel and feather cuts so sharp you could have cut out sociable sized lines of Amphetamine Sulphate on them. Soon, a stable of half a dozen or so more punky, indie bands were bullied/cajoled into being part of a new movement. Simon Williams – an ex-NME Live Editor - loved this scene so much he felt it deserved its own release, and so he set up Fierce Panda purely to put out an EP entitled ‘Shagging In The Streets’, featuring the aforementioned S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men, along with Blessed Ethel, Done Lying Down and Action Painting. This year Fierce Panda celebrates its 15th birthday, and while Williams considers himself “a right prat” for not signing Elbow when they came knocking, his label is still going strong, having released Coldplay, The Maccabees, Keane, Ash and the infamous ‘Wibbling Rivalry’ interview between Noel and Liam Gallagher. Which is exactly why we’ve asked him for his 15 tips to making a success of a truly independent label.
yourself something as stupid as Fierce Panda if you expect to be around for longer than three months. When we ﬁrst started in 1994 other independent labels had very grown up, austere names like Deceptive, Dedicated and Indolent. Believing as we did that we were going to release one record – the ‘Shagging In The Streets’ new wave of new wave compilation EP – and retire, we thought it would be very big and hilarious to call our company something extremely un-austere like Fierce Panda. Somewhat ironically, we have survived while the Indolent’s and their ilk have long since gone to the great overstock warehouse in the sky.
sensationally lucky. The Fierce Panda label was invented in a pub by three music journalists who had absolutely no idea how to put records out. Fortunately, we knew the chap who ran Damaged Goods Records. By plugging into his system we overcame all possible manufacturing, production, marketing and distribution hurdles with one great leap. Fifteen years down the line that pub (The Blue Posts) is now a Boots chemist on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Hanway Street, and it still stuns me just how sensationally lucky we were.
passionate about indie labels. I grew up in Walthamstow, which in the late 1970s was home of Small Wonder Records who put out the ﬁrst singles by Bauhaus, The Cure, and The Molesters. Small Wonder was also a record shop which closed in the mid‘80s to be replaced by Ugly Child and this was where I’d buy releases on Creation, Chapter 22, Zoo, Pink, Rough Trade, Waap!, WXYZ, 4AD, Subway, Beggars Banquet, Factory and dozens of other labels we have gleefully and liberally cribbed from in Fierce Panda’s lifetime. It’s IMPORTANT!
too passionate about indie labels. You’ll drive yourself mad and become a bore going on and on about Walthamstow and Small Wonder and blah bloody blah blah.
aim for perfection. You can make the greatest of plans for your releases but there are so many obstacles and stupid people ahead of you it’s best to realise very early on that everything will go horribly wrong. We spent several months building up towards getting ‘Emily Kane’ by Art Brut in the Top 40 a few years back. For the ﬁrst ﬁve days following the single’s released our midweek chart position was nudging between 36 and 38. Then at the last minute there were rats in the stats and on the Sunday ‘Emily Kane’ went in at 41, missing the top 40 by two sales. We haven’t listened to the Sunday afternoon chart rundown since.
frugal with money. If you are starting an indie company by yourself the chances are the meager ﬁnances are all yours so you decide how much the band spends in the studio, not the singer or the manager. Our ‘Brothers & Sisters’ single by Coldplay cost £450 to record in Southgate in 1999. Chris Martin absolutely loathes those recordings mind you, but every band has to start somewhere.
run an indie label expecting to make any money. Really.
be afraid to put stupid ideas into practice. Fierce Panda is commonly known as a seven inch singles label but over the years we have released split CDs, t-shirts, a mug and over 60 albums and mini-albums as well as a string of six-track double vinyl 7” compilation EPs with names as ludicrously excellent as ‘Mortal Wombat’, ‘On The Buzzes’, ‘Screecher Comforts’ and ‘Otter Than July’. Our best-selling single release ever was ‘Wibbling Rivalry’, which to all intents and purposes is Liam and Noel Gallagher royally swearing at each other for 15 minutes. Go ﬁgure.
trust people from major labels. Obviously. And DON’T trust people from indie labels, either. In fact DON’T trust people from record company’s full stop. They’re bastards. I should know, I am one.
send snotty emails or cuss at people on the telephone. You aren’t Notorious B.I.G. and you’ll get a very bad reputation and nobody will sign to you. So always bite your tongue. Or, in the case of emailing, bite your ﬁngers.
one-off singles. One-off singles are great because you don’t need contracts or loads of money and if all goes well you become part of the most innocent and exciting time of a band’s career, i.e. the beginning. Over the years we have released one-off singles by Kenickie, 3 Colours Red, Placebo, Idlewild, The Maccabees, Embrace and Hundred Reasons, plus dozens more by people like Toaster and Ultrasound and The Bellringers and Lolita Storm, and others who might not resonate in the nation’s memory but who still sounded pretty bloody good to us at the time.
ask for too much advice from experts, or think too much about what you are doing. If you ask too much and think too much you will eventually know too much and when you know too much you will realise how eyewateringly stupid this whole exercise is and you will stop putting records out and get a proper job.
release too many one-off singles for too long. You don’t make money from them and eventually you’ll get arsedoff with helping all those bands on their way to major deals or watching them crash and burn. Or both, as so often tends to be the depressing case.
mini-albums. Minialbums are great for new bands. They last longer than a single, in many senses, and they are less expensive and (frequently) less painful than a full album. That’s why wise people like Ash, Idlewild, Sugar, U2 and Arcade Fire have released them. And that’s why we have cracking mini-albums by iLiKETRAiNS, The Blackout, The Computers and Capital all out on Fierce Panda right this minute.
let them grind you down.
Be sure to catch ‘The Sidewalk’, the new monthly club night from Fierce Panda, on the ﬁrst Friday of each month at The Scala
Crystal Fighters Rave operas from Spain’s Basque Country, by the latest party band to really excite Kitsuné Writer: IAN ROEBUCK Photographer: OWEN RICHARDS So Guillermo del Toro sits down to pitch Pans Labyrinth 2: “Whilst staying with her decrepit Grandfather in the Basque countryside, a young girl discovers a mysterious notebook. A rich, beautiful opera spills from the pages and, full of inspiration, the inquisitive girl vows to continue the unﬁnished work of her treasured beloved. She travels to London, starts a wild, visceral dancepunk outﬁt and signs to Kitsuné!” Alright so there’s no movie in production, but there is a band and that’s just how they started. Inspired by an operatic notebook, Crystal Fighters have taken the musical touchstones and heritage of the Basque area and shaped them into a completely original sound. Band member Laure holds the key; returning from Spain she displayed the prophetic book to her four English friends and together they swore to ﬁnish her Grandfather’s story. “Once we looked beyond the rhythmic and melodic thing they do and examined the history of Basque music, which is mainly folk, it made us want to ﬁnd out more and develop it,” explains knobtwiddler Gilbert, relaxing in the spacious Hackney squat that doubles as a studio for the band. Opera and folk aren’t your regular inﬂuences for basscrushing, synth-smashing dance music, but on a conceptual level the two worlds collide with a natural ease. The high impact sound came to the attention of Kitsune pretty sharpish and the two seem to be made for each other. “If you’d ask us what label we’d like to be on when we ﬁrst started we would have said Kitsuné,” says front man Sebastian; a sentiment that
seems to be shared around the room. “In terms of new music and European artists that they cover, it’s just a great label, with great remixes and great art work,” enthuses Gilbert. The love-in must have begun at a live venue – Crystal Fighters reputation has rocketed in 2009, perhaps due to their uncanny ability to create carnage at practically every performance. “The records are very dancey, very DJ-friendly, but live the theme works into a grander performance,” Gilbert passionately explains. “There is a real spirit to the live show and a real energy. It takes it beyond what we do on record. “We had a gig at the London club Egg the other weekend and it was all really heavy,” continues Graham. “We tailor the set to how the crowd reacts and what they are into.” Together Gilbert and Graham form the backbone of Crystal Fighters’ live set, each proﬁcient on a laptop and of course a Txalaparta (huge wooden slabs of a Basque instrument that dominates the on stage setup to create a rolling syncopated sound). “We play the Txalaparta’s facing each other so it’s very dramatic,” says Gilbert proudly. “It works well in small rooms as you don’t have to play very hard…” “But we do!” laughs Graham. This adaptable live show and willingness to embrace different genres underpins Crystal Fighters’ spirit. Coming from a theatrical background, the band are keen to develop the ideals of opera and transfer them to the underground clubs of London. “Normal gigs are very 2D,” Sebastian suggests with some frustration “we want it to have depth. When we ﬁrst played we had signs up like an opera
explaining the story, it was much more like a play.” It may sound like a hard line of eclecticism to go with your Saturday night out but despite the group’s precise outlook they know how to let loose too. First release, ‘I love London’, is a ﬂoor-pounding thrill, their live calling card and what the term ‘killer single’ was designed for. Reaction to the track has been remarkable and not just in London – “We have been getting loads of radio play from Radio 1, but Roger Sanchez played our house remixes as well, and Sinden’s played the original,” beams Gilbert. Inspired by the band’s tenure, housed down Brick Lane, ‘I Love London’ is more about an outsider’s love of a foreign place than the bricks and mortar that ﬁll our capital. “It’s been described as the sound of Spanish tourists, which is hilarious although it’s got the Spanish rhythm and bass. It’s about people coming to stay and being really happy, whether it’s a bar off Brick Lane or a party in Willesden,” says Gilbert. Not content with making every Londoner shake their bones, Crystal Fighters also want to revolutionise both the live and recording process, promising to play something new at every show – “We want the people that come and see us more than once to experience something new,” Gilbert shares to nods from his band mates. And then Crystal Fighters race on to the matter of deconstructing the album, “we had lots of ideas for movements of music, representations of what we do live and breaking down the structure of the album…” they buzz. But slow down chaps, plenty of time for that in Act 2.
THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD
How two Scottish rockers are turning three secret manuscripts into the best side project since Gnarls Barkley. Be upstanding for Marmaduke Duke Writer: STUART STUBBS Photographer: TIM COCHRANE
> CARNABY STREET LONDON – MARCH 2009
he Atmosphere and The Dragon lay in the middle of Carnaby Street, central London.With their backs ﬂat to the cold stone pavement, they gazed at the sky. Day shoppers that dodged the beaming charity muggers in their Shelter bibs rubber-necked, snail-crawled passed and began to pull out digital cameras. A shot for the holiday album; two of the most ﬂamboyantly dressed ‘jumpers’ you’ve ever seen; backs broken, their bent bodies twisted and marooned between Ofﬁce and Whittard teashop. Nowhere to be seen was their master; an aging, sexually perverse party enthusiast known only as The Duke. “That was fun,” said The Atmosphere, clambering to his feet, brushing off his large feather collar and grinning a wide red lipstick smile. And The Dragon agreed from within his purple tights and knee-high boots, letting out another loud, smoky laugh. ‘Fun’ is the very fuel that propels Marmaduke Duke: a secondary project for Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro and fellow Scottish frontman JP Reid of Sucioperro. This we ﬁnd out twenty-four hours prior to a cold afternoon on Carnaby Street, laughing with The Atmosphere and The Dragon before they adorned their Watchmen-on-amystical-gimp-tip disguises for our photo shoot. “We’re both… not guilty of it, but we do take ourselves seriously in our other bands,” admits The Atmosphere. “You want to be so connected to people and you’re so connected to the music that you want people to understand everything you’re doing.With this, there is that complete detachment from it, and you can make a complete arse of yourself, because you’re not necessarily even up there as yourself, you’re up there being part of something. Hopefully our music is good too, because you need to get that balance right. Marilyn Manson, I always thought that everything was perfect about him apart from his music is absolutely rotten. He could have been that [Ziggy Stardust] ﬁgure but just ran out of puff, y’know?” “I think Muse are a funny band,” continues The Dragon “but I think they’re an impressive band, they’re really intense. Even something like the riff from ‘New Born’, that’s funny! I can imagine them having a laugh, like, ‘yeeahh’, and I think there is that in our other bands that people don’t always
get. It’s funny because you don’t want to be a comedy band; we don’t want - because we’re dressing up – people to think they’re coming to a fucking circus with ‘The Duke’.” The Atmosphere: “We want it to be fun rather than funny.” That’s a ﬁne line, right there. Simply ask Justin Hawkins, and then play him Marmaduke Duke’s forthcoming second album, ‘Duke Pandemonium’. It’s the balance done right; fun but not a joke, accomplished but not poe-faced or snobby, like ‘The Slim Shady LP’ or Gnarls Barkley’s ‘St. Elsewhere’. Featuring sleazy, lo-ﬁ electro (‘Heartburn’), corrupt funky disco (‘Pandemonium’), beautiful pop ballads (‘Kid Gloves’) and a track so Radio-1-in-the-summer-time that it may even threaten the continuation of this band being a mere secondary concern (‘Rubber Lover’), it’s part two of a trilogy that Simon and JP have wanted to make since reading three manuscripts written by a friend’s Portuguese parents. The tales of The Duke – the most sinister of protagonists – may be as magical and fantasy-peppered as a J.R.R Tolkien read, but as cutesy as The Lord Of The Rings they ain’t. It’s all far ﬁlthier than that, as illustrated by Marmaduke Duke’s 2005 debut album, ‘The Magniﬁcent Duke’. Mirroring the spiralling madness of The Atmosphere and The Dragon’s vicious master, their ﬁrst record was far closer to a Biffy/Sucioperro hybrid than ‘Duke Pandemonium’ is – “We wanted to make it ugly, which might mean that we’re quite ugly inside,” notes The Atmosphere. Featuring snarling guitars and live drums, it was largely an angst-ridden affair that received a hushed release via the now defunct Captains of Industry label. Now,The Duke has pulled himself together enough to let down the hair he keeps under his top hat. “It’s mainly a hedonistic vibe on this one,” says The Dragon of the new dance-inﬂuenced record. “The Duke becomes a horrible bastard,” furthers The Atmosphere. “It’s meant to be creepy and sleazy, and sexually perverted, even though we’re not singing about sexual acts… it’s Razzle,” he roars from his thick, black beard. The Dragon: “Yeah, it’s more Razzle than Mayfair… or Reader’s Wives: the musical equivalent.” And with that Marmaduke Duke fall about laughing again.
The deﬁnite lifespan of any trilogy though means that the laughter must stop at some point. It’s taken four years for Simon Neil and JP Reid to soundtrack two thirds of The Duke’s rotten life – namely due to their other bands’ downtime rarely aligning to work on more Marmaduke material – but whether they conclude this project next year or within another four, the end is in sight; The Duke must die. In their alter-ego guises, The Atmosphere and The Dragon promise a spectacular ending to this depraved ordeal. “Yeah, it has to be just these three records,” conﬁrms The Dragon. “It’s a much more romantic notion, because otherwise what reason would we have to keep it together? There are only three manuscripts.” “We always try to conceptualise it beforehand and build up ideas about where it would build and where it would drop,” adds The Atmosphere enthusiastically. “The ﬁnal album [‘The Death Of The Duke’] is deﬁnitely going to be one big long track and, live, we’re going to go out and do a couple of ‘Death Of The Duke’ shows where… the records going to have tonnes of guitars on it,” he explains “so we’re going to have it that the ﬁrst ten people that come to the show can bring their guitars and we’ll do a run through before the doors open so people can actually play with us on ‘The Death Of The Duke’. It’ll be almost Kraut Rock-y, and very hypnotic and repetitive, but it’s just my absolute dream to have the ﬁrst ten people come in to play. So it’s really going to become a communal band, and the shows, you won’t see them in big venues, but we’ll circle the crowd so that people can become part of the music.”
got to ask,” says one rather non-descript onlooker, forgetting to actually ask. “They’re a band called Marmaduke Duke,” we tell him as the duo pose for more photos outside their record label’s Soho base. “Ah yes, I’ve heard of them,” comes the reply. “I seem to remember liking them, but I didn’t expect them to look like that.” A wave that’s reciprocated by The Atmosphere and the blank man is on his way having seen something special… or intriguing in the only way that two bearded men, half in drag, can be.
“It’s more Razzle than Mayfair... Reader’s Wives:The Musical”
< HEAVEN NIGHT CLUB LONDON – MARCH 2009
The track he remembers liking is probably the lead single from ‘Duke Pandemonium’, ‘Kid Gloves’. Not unlike most tracks that close post-OC teen dramas – or indeed Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ that saw Tim ﬁnally kiss Dawn in The Ofﬁce – it’s a highly emotional and beautiful song. ‘Are we crazy or are we glad?/Keep your instincts to make a stand/Keep on searching for what we had/To remind us all’, goes its ambiguous but resolute refrain, capable of being interpreted a thousand different ways, which is of course its masterstroke. So too is its simplicity of processed drums (as are all of the beats on this new album) sitting next to little more than three notes played on a synth. “That’s probably my favourite track,” says The Dragon “because the night we did it, it didn’t feel like a song, more like a sketch. It took just three hours to do, from nothing to ﬁnish. Now when we play it, it feels like a proper song, and that always amazes me with the Duke, when I feel, ‘wow, this is like a real song now’. I’m not trying to make fun of what we do, or be cynical of the music, not at all, but I was really surprised with that one.” The passerby is completely right – the delicate and pretty ‘Kid Gloves’ is not the sound that you’d expect to be produced by a pair of tattooed beards who have seemingly raided your eccentric aunt’s wardrobe to pay homage to Slipknot but have wound up looking like… well, your eccentric aunt… if she were also something of a sexual deviant. And there’s no use looking to the rest of ‘Duke Pandemonium’ for an explanation either; the whole record is something of cheery pop masterpiece.There are undertones of the rank Duke’s dirty business
of course, and the demonic ‘Erotic Robotic’ (complete with the tongue-wedged-incheek lyric of “Erotic, robotic, despite the accents we’re Scottish”) is a more overtly underhand party in its delivery, but ultimately this second album makes you want to dance and smile… and request it on your local radio station’s drive-time show, where ‘Rubber Lover’ is concerned. “Oh, god forbid,” laughs The Dragon. “Run away! It’s nice of you to say but let’s hope it doesn’t [become a commercial hit], otherwise we’ll be doing ‘Rubber Lover’ for the rest of our lives. “It’s funny that it became so pop,” he continues “because that was never our intention.We wanted it to be a funky record, but the fact that it’s so melodic is an accident. We didn’t think, ‘right, let’s get a couple of singles’, and the fact that we’re even putting out singles is quite an alien concept.” “It’s great that people dig it so far,” notes his sidekick “but I think because we’re not doing it constantly we wouldn’t get carried away or know if everyone loved it.We’re doing six shows and then the album’s out in a month or so, so, even if everyone digs it, we wouldn’t know, because we wouldn’t be around to do anything about it.” Like The Lemonheads covering ‘Mrs Robinson’ before them, we fear that Marmaduke Duke might just regret agreeing to release their ‘big pop hit’ as their second single, because neither Simon nor JP want this band to become massive. For Biffy or Sucioperro to have Edith Bowman gush over them is one thing, but The Atmosphere and The Dragon simply wish to complete their ambition of this trilogy in peace, whilst keeping the whole experience as special for
“Anyone can record 40 minutes of fart noises but have the fucking balls to do it live” 26
those that are keen to be on board as possible. It’s exactly why they’ve only played twelve shows to date, with just a handful more in mind before The Duke lays in state. “We don’t really plan what we’re going to do,” explains The Atmosphere of touring. “We might do some shows later in the year but we’ve got our other bands so we’re going to go and do records for them. It’s basically when we’ve got time.We like it to be a mini event for the people that dig it, not just like we’re coming through town again.” There’s talk of the band possibly playing Cream Fields this year, a prospect made somehow less bizarre by the costumes they wear; men in colourful tights, eye masks and makeup far less disconcerting at the dance festival than the face of rock titans Biffy Clyro amongst the gurners. Plans are still up in the air, as are those to organise a second tour to support ‘Duke Pandemonium’.The Atmosphere and The Dragon both have other bands they’re committed to, even if they do involve their existing band mates on this vibrant adventure. Simon recently said that he wouldn’t feel right getting onstage without Biffy bassist James Johnston and drummer Ben Johnston, so the pair help to
make up Marmaduke Duke’s live band. Across from Ben sits drummer number two, Fergus Munro of Sucioperro.The three helping hands are as heavily disguised as the duo that have created the music, in ruffs and masks. Originally, these lavish veils acted as a blank canvass for Simon and JP to work from.They always knew that it wouldn’t take long for their existing fans to uncover their true identities but a certain freedom comes with ‘playing dress-up’ and presenting your music as The Atmosphere and The Dragon. “They’re the names of two characters in the story,” explains Simon. “We didn’t want to be The Duke, we’d ﬁght over that.The ﬁrst record we also just slipped out and it was important for us for people to not compare it to our other bands.We knew that people would ﬁnd out because we were going to do shows but didn’t know if people would care.” Just twelve live shows to date suggests otherwise but a hunger for playing to an audience is an important part of life that Simon and JP insist on bringing to Marmaduke Duke – “Anyone can record 40 minutes of fart noises and put it out, but have the fucking balls to go out and do it live,” demands The Atmosphere. “It kinda annoys me when someone does a side project, makes a record and then don’t do it live and back it up,” he continues. “We knew that to validate
it you have to go and present it to people, regardless of what type of music it is.Why else should people give a fuck? There’re enough bands out there, with all kinds of music available, so you need to give people a reason to connect with you.” The reason,The Atmosphere argues, is Marmaduke Duke’s sense of occasion in a live venue. Fans dress up like The Duke himself, in top hats and cloaks, waving canes and plastic weapons in the air, followers of the decadent fop. It’s a Mighty Boosh show that – let us reiterate – is fun without being funny. “It’s like coming to a Black Flag show,” we’re warned in tow of the band on their way to a date at night club Heaven. “When we start the show we go straight to the people,” says The Atmosphere “straight into the show. It loosens up the crowd. If you only knew ‘Kid Gloves’ you’re going to get a real fright.” It takes a full twenty seconds, from walking onstage, for The Atmosphere to dive into the crowd, rush past us with his mic, scream all the way to the sound desk and lunge over its protective barrier. Once again with his back to the ﬂoor he then repeatedly lets out metronomic yells of a Saw victim. If the man from the street was present he’d probably say, “That’s more like it, that’s what a band dressed like that should sound like.”
The Dragon’s home studio, Marmaduke Duke was conceived almost by accident.The want to complete this planned trilogy was always there but ‘The Magniﬁcent Duke’ “ended up being made without trying” as Simon and JP picked up instruments while having a casual drink one evening. ‘Duke Pandemonium’ was created out of a more conscious decision to write a second record, but with a similarly relaxed work ethic in place – at 10 0’clock the pair would enter the studio without an idea between them and vow to complete one more track for their new album. “It would get to that hazy time in the morning, when everything’s kinda wearing off,” explains The Atmosphere with a grin to his partner. “Y’know, it was kinda like, ‘let’s get this done’, which is why some of the vocals on the record we didn’t go back and re-sing better, just because the vibe was there. All over the record you can hear – while one of us is singing – the other one talking in the background.That was the spirit of the whole thing, y’know, it really was meant to be a lot of fun. Music, when it’s what you do with your life, you have to put every ounce of
your soul and energy into it, and thankfully we can do that in our other bands and mainly have the fun part on this. And the same with live shows – if something breaks we don’t think, ‘oh no, the show’s going wrong’; it kinda adds to a Duke show.” “We’ve spent a lot of time smiling making the record,” add The Dragon. “It’s been a really joyous occasion.There’s no, ‘I can’t believe you haven’t learnt that song’, or any of the things you have in a real band. It was quite funny and disconcerting, I was saying to the guys last night that there was a point in the set the other night when I thought, ‘shit, we’re really good,’ it was like we had become a real band, and it worried me. ‘Oh my god, we shouldn’t have rehearsed, I know the chords now, this is nonsense.’” Only ever listening back to tracks the following day – and thus at a time when it was too late to change them – is linked directly to just how diverse ‘Duke Pandemonium’ sounds. If yesterday’s session was a slow ballad, today’s will be the fastest thing we’ve ever written, the band would tell each other. “I think the cohesion comes from it all being done so quickly,” says the Dragon. “That’s the only thing that keeps it all together.There were no rules.” The same will go for the Dukes funeral march no doubt, due to be with us within two years, which suddenly feels like an inﬁnity. Perhaps someone can push him under a car so that we can hear the ﬁnal instalment of this trilogy a little earlier. He probably deserves it anyway. Marmaduke Duke must die with their master – much like Frodo Baggins chose to when following Gandalf onto the elf galleon – only to be resurrected as Simon Neil’s next conception; a band called Empire State Bastards, who’ll write songs called ‘J Hames Brown’, ‘Bob No Hope’, ‘Heath Legend’ and ‘Bjorn Sci-Borg’. So things aren’t about to get ordinary any time soon. And for now there’s a party to had at the hands of The Duke. He’ll be the one trying to cop a feel as you pass the dry ice machine. Maybe he’s not all bad.
Broke, more homeless than ever, and with an ex-Klaxon in their midst, you’d expect to ﬁnd Hatcham Social grumbling into their pints... Writer: STUART STUBBS Photographer: ELINOR JONES
“It should have been me,” drummer Finn might moan, still tapping out ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ on the tabletop, his frontman brother, Toby, fretting about where he’ll be bedding down tonight. Bassist Dave and relative newcomer Jerome would then rustle up enough cash for said pint (singular), having decided that one between four is better than no pints at all to stare bleakly at. Adding to this, we’ve heard that Toby currently is grappling with the ﬂu. Inside The Grifﬁn, Shoreditch, we quickly notice that not even one pint has made it in front of the band, but maybe that’s because Hatcham Social are far from the hangdogs that their circumstances have many presuming them to be. Yes, Finn used to play in Klaxons, but he stopped mucking about with gravity rainbows as quickly as he started. He shows no sign of ever regretting his decision to leave and form Hatcham Social. And no, this quartet aren’t smoking rollies made with tenners just yet, but a newly signed record deal to release a debut album suggests that a similar time is coming. ‘You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide The Soil’ is the name of the record; an optimistic collection of swooning pop songs, as bittersweet as The Smiths at their most outstretched to puzzled teens in isolated bedrooms across the land. “The whole album is basically
about…” Toby pauses for thought. “As far as I can see, most of my life, and for all of the people here, you’re just working. It sounds really cliché, but that’s what you’re doing, and especially in the UK, it’s such a trudge. We do a tour of the UK, and what a load of shit! Y’know, we go to Italy, and maybe it’s because we’re not going to all the tiny houses full of thugs, but you get back to Southampton and you get shouted for being a wanker. Barnesbury, whatever these places are called, all of England, and it’s just like Billy Liar – there’s got to be something better than that. Maybe us making this band is like us making our own world.” The band’s name certainly suggests just that; Hatcham, an old English word for ‘a clearing in the woods’, Social – as in club – a place of comfort and safety. Few have inﬁltrated this world, but those of note include Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess and newest band member Jerome Watson. The former produced ‘You Dig The Tunnel…’, the latter now plays synths, guitar and a chaos pad within the group, and has done since November 2008. Introducing Jerome was simple enough, the band having purposely written their album in such a way that an extra pair of hands was needed to play the new material live. Before then, three was the magic number for this group of friends – Dave Fineberg and brothers Finn and
Toby Kidd. A trio, Hatcham Social began, like most bands, as a reaction to feeling unsatisﬁed with the music on offer to them – “It wasn’t like, ‘let’s change the world’, it wasn’t that U2-ish,” explains Toby. “It was much more we wanted to do stuff that we enjoyed and we didn’t see it out there. There seems to be this very corporate indie world, which is what indie has become, and then there seems to be lo-ﬁ electro stuff, but there wasn’t quite what we wanted to be doing.” So the band recorded a single, adamant that it “must be sung rather than shouty, because everything was really shouty”, and proceeded to send ‘Dance As If…’ to a handful of indie record shops. What followed seemed to be Hatcham Social’s new addiction to sharing their music. They released three more limited 7”, two cassette tape EPs, and, most recently, a free digital covers EP called ‘Party’, as well as a Japanese mini album and one for the US and Canada only. ‘You Dig The Tunnel…’, is presumably a big hit for these release junkies. “It’s part of what we didn’t want it to be about,” counters Toby. “Most people put out a single as an advertisement to get signed to a big label, to put an album out, become famous, whatever… Maybe that is what we were against. We wanted to put out singles because we liked making music, and putting out a
single wasn’t just about getting to the next stage. Y’know, we put two tape EPs out, six tracks, and most of the tracks on the them are as good as those on the album; they weren’t throw-aways, they were just what we were doing at the time, and now we’re doing something else. This isn’t it particularly ‘happening’ anymore than they were, y’know? Jerome hasn’t come now when we’ve ‘made it’ anymore than if he’d come in before. It’s just about us as a group, doing what we want to do, travelling to a few places and meeting some interesting people. I suppose a bit more money might get involved now, but to be honest, not at the moment. I’m more homeless than I was six months ago. Don’t get me wrong, we’d like to be in a position where we’re not homeless, and that’s something that we’re striving for in a different way to before, but I’d be quite happy if no one ever bought the records but we were able to do it all the time.”
with a fuzzy head, Toby is clearly Hatcham’s leader, or so his vocal nature would suggest. And enthusing about his band’s music – admittedly while supping on a Lemsip – seems to be the best medicine for his head cold. Along with Finn (the band’s most calm member, whom Alan McGee calls “the coolest drummer in the world”), Dave (or “the fact man” as he’s known to band mates, reeling off release dates on Hatcham’s itinerary like an Excel spreadsheet) and Jerome (the quiet but excitable new guy) he talks sincerely about what his band are trying to achieve. In April ‘You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide The Soil’ will be released in the UK via Fierce Panda, the indie label licensing the record from Hatcham Social’s equally indie American record
company, TBD; a fussy enterprise that only work with four other bands – White Rabbits, Underworld, Other Lives and some chancers called Radiohead. Notably, it’s a record of melodies, beautifully boasted from the dreamy, opening ‘Crocodile’ – complete with a xylophone hook, T-Rex guitar chugs and a Marc Bolan purr from Toby – through to the scratchy, erratic ﬁnale of ‘Give Me The Gift’. In between sit tracks like ‘Hypnotise Terrible Eyes’, perhaps the most Smiths-y song here; a more savage sibling to Morrissey and Marr’s ‘You’ve Got Everything Now’. Previous Loog single ‘So So Happy Making’ has made the cut too; easily the best 80s pop song never written within Margaret Thatcher’s reign, and one that single handedly pushes for a remake of The Breakfast Club. There’s gloomy indie that dances in the forest clearing Hatcham Social have made for themselves (‘I Cannot Cure My Pure Evil’) and the kind of sunkissed songs that The Coral are capable of (‘Penelope (Under My Hat)’). And then there’s a reading of Lewis Carol’s Jabberwocky, originally a quick ﬁx to a studio session that had hit a wall, now a ﬁttingly otherworldly benchmark in Hatcham Social’s debut album. “It was a song that we were struggling with,” explains Dave. “We couldn’t work out what to do, and, at Finn and Toby’s dad’s demo studio, there was this big book of poetry, so we thought, ‘we’ve got to do something with this’ because the backing sounded really nice…” Toby: “And it was also one of our favourites to play so we didn’t want to ruin it. It had to be special, and not just another song that wasn’t as good as our others.” Dan: “We did it and gave it away for free straight away, and it’s turned into something. Tim was adamant that we did it for the album, I remember that.”
Tim – as in Burgess – ﬁrst met the band whilst on a DJ tour with Finn’s number one fan, Alan McGee. He was duly pushed a copy of their then new single, ‘How Soon Was Then’, into his hands and took just three weeks to insist on producing the band, initially taking on the band’s next limited single, ‘Til The Dawn’. “We didn’t know what Tim’s inﬂuences were, really,” says Dave “and suddenly he had all these records that we were listening to, like Pastels and Orange Juice, which was when we started to really click.” “The Charlatans are a great, underrated band,” adds Toby. “Sonically and melodically they’ve done a lot more interesting things than Oasis or any of those other bands. Tim is really amazing with melodies, but interesting melodies and he helped us to experiment on the record with sounds, and things like cutting up pipes. What it came down to was, there was no one else that would have known the record as well as Tim.” Unlike the Gallaghers, Burgess has never been afraid of adapting to current music scenes, which explains all of those East London sightings and turns at The Horrors-hosted Cave Club. An ex-baggy embracing the new or an old man trying to be 20, either way, if he wants in with Hatcham Social the hippest parts of town is where Burgess will have to venture. Because this quartet have appealed to Shorditchians and the New Cross set to quite a staggering extent. And there’s no pretence within the band that they haven’t. “I think that you can’t help…” Toby pauses for thought once more “you don’t live in a vacuum, so anyone who says that they’re not part of something is a liar. Innately, we’re not essentially trying to be like a lot of those people. I think we started off with a different point of view to nearly everyone
else. And how do we feel about current bands? I just don’t think we care. That’s other people’s business, what they’re doing. We get asked this quite a lot, but it doesn’t matter what other people are doing or thinking, you’ve just got to get on with what you’re doing. There are people that inspire you, like every time I see Electricity In Our Homes I’m inspired, but that happens to be three people who are just really talented.” “Fuck gimmick bands,” Toby will later say, before reiterating that they remain “just a band, doing stuff we enjoy.” And on that list of things they enjoy is a spot of travelling, having already toured not just the staples of the UK and mainland Europe but Russia and the Faroe Islands also. The former was the biggest culture shock that they’ve come up against, the latter, they say, “is an amazing place with no poverty or crime, where people pay a massive amount of tax and are just completely content.” “Not that I’m the fact man or anything,” says Dave “but there’s 16 islands in the Faroe Islands, and when we’re rich enough we’re going to buy four each, and that will become the Hatcham Social haven.” already toured not just the staples of the UK and mainland Europe but Russia and the Faroe Islands also. The former was the biggest culture shock that they’ve come up against, the latter, they say, “is an amazing place with no poverty or crime, where people pay a massive amount of tax and are just completely content.” “Not that I’m the fact man or anything,” says Dave “but there’s 16 islands in the Faroe Island, and when we’re rich enough we’re going to buy four each, and that will become the Hatcham Social haven.”
KITSUNÉ Factory of New Talents
(Releases on Vinyl and Digital)
JOE AND WILL ASK? Claymore
CHEW LiPS Solo
BENI My Love Sees You
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB Something Good Can Work
APPALOOSA The Day We Fell in Love
ETIENNE DE CRÉCY ET MONSIEUR JO Hannukah
LA ROUX Quicksand
EXCLUSIVE to iTunes
RELEASED 16 MARCH
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RE APR VI 09 EWS AL BUMS
01 1990s 02 ... And You Will Know Us 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 19 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
From The Trail of Dead Black Lips Bonnie Prince Billy Danananakroyd Dan Deacon Fever Ray Filthy Dukes Loner Love Is All Obits Ofﬁcial Secrets Act Pure Reason Revolution Still Flyin’ The Bishops The Decemberists The Thermals Thunderheist Wild Birds & Peace Drums
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15
Apache Beat Data. Select. Party Electricity In Our Homes Fucked Up James Yuill KASMs Ponytail Post War Years Silicon Kid Solid Gold St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival The Joy Formidable The Muscle Club Wire Women
Dan Deacon Bromst (Carpark) By Sam Walton. In stores Mar 23
High intellectualism and eccentricity, it seems, often go hand in hand. Look at Einstein, or the Doc from Back to the Future. Or, indeed, Dan Deacon, a graduate in electro-acoustic composition from the New York Conservatory of Music, no less, who revels in wearing oversized specs and making records with titles like ‘Silly Hat Versus Eagle Hat’, which sound like an army of toddlers licking batteries. At least, he used to be. Once, he was happy being the nutjob making breakneck day-glo hardcore and justifying it with degree-level musical sophistication, but now Deacon has tired of being a mad scientist. He will be happy if he never hears the word ‘quirky’ again, he says, and
wants to move away from 1000bpm absurdist electronica played on 1980s computers held together with rainbow-bright gaffer tape. Hence ‘Bromst’, Deacon’s ‘take me seriously’ plea. It begins promisingly enough, but within two minutes Deacon appears bored of ‘sensible’ and reverts to the crazed, CAPS-LOCK techno of old - drums clatter and every synth in Deacon’s reach is played simultaneously. Thankfully, the fuzz lifts on ‘Snookered’, with slow-chiming glockenspiels and vibraphones offering a welcome counterpoint to the frenetic electronics. Beta Band-style vocals further humanise proceedings, and although it eventually descends into the same daft electro that blighted the ﬁrst three tracks, there are some gorgeously serene moments. However, by the album’s eight-minute centrepiece, ‘Surprise Stefani’, Deacon appears to have this ‘serious’ vibe nailed. Building from looped vocals that recall ambient pioneers Stars
of the Lid, the track grows into a deeply pulsating monster where Battles are covering My Bloody Valentine, with Sufjan Stevens adding extra tinkles. It’s bold, hypnotic, glorious stuff – serious, and seriously good. From here, the record grows stronger still, with Deacon getting into bed with Fuck Buttons and Steve Reich, making sound collages out of atonal chanting here, and mastering the balance of playful and muso everywhere. Admittedly, ‘Baltihorse’’s recourse to witless button-bashing interrupts things somewhat, but it’s a minor blip, now on a cracking soundscape. Spinal Tap’s David St Hubbins once said, “There’s a ﬁne line between clever and stupid stupid stupid,” and Dan Deacon crosses that line more than once on ‘Bromst’. Disappointingly large sections of guile-free, everything-and-thekitchen-sink electro remain, but on the many occasions where Deacon wises up, the results are almost beautiful.
Love Is All
I Blame You
(Rabid Records) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores Mar 23
(Sub Pop) By Sam Little. In stores Mar 23
A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night (What’s Your Rupture?)
Wild Birds & Peacedrums
...And You Will Know Us From TheTrail Of Dead
In her Fever Ray guise, Karin Dreijer Anderson – usually ﬁfty percent of The Knife – either provides slow motion, droning vocals like that of Donnie Darko’s giant rabbit friend or polar opposite angelic chants that, due to resembling infants that are way too cheery to be anything other than demonic, similarly make listeners soil themselves. Either way the effect is the same, as is the sluggish one-speed setting of this debut solo album. But sometimes it’s nice to not be hurried, which, trouser accidents aside, is what eventually wins out here.The deep warbles to down tempo electronica (‘If I Had A Heart’, ‘Dry & Dusty’) may be initially no good for diner parties nor alone time, but, as is the case with the Kate Bush-sounding ‘Seven’, fear subsides if you can hang on to your seat.
When you’re a garage psych/rock band you live dangerously. Not because that show skank from last night might have been lying about the pill, but rather because every Jagger impersonator is constantly ﬂirting with appearing more like Cage The Elephant than the mammoth-lipped one. Few ‘do a Black Lips’ and get it right, hundreds ‘do a Jet’ and wind up playing only to Oasis. Obits - 4 from Brooklyn - if nothing else, prove that it’s harder than ever to judge who is which these days. ‘Talking To The Dog’, complete with silly, macho “hey”s and ﬁst pumps, is undeniably so out of date and void of imagination that this seems like a shut case. And yet if The Stones were still writing surﬁng blues like ‘Window Of My Dream’ they’d not still be opening with ‘Start Me Up’.
By Edgar Smith. In stores now
By Nathan Westley. In stores April 13
Pushing against the indie-pop boundaries lain down by their 2005 debut, Love Is All return from Gothenburg with this storming follow-up.Trouble is that, between releases, the press – mostly the NME – made sure that that particular genre left a hot, nasty aftertaste at the back of everyone’s throats. Despite this ‘A Hundred Things…’ is a great indie album; 11 tracks, half an hour long, enough tunes for professional stick-shaking. It’s got light-hearted lyrical ﬂair, Stuart Murdoch-meets-Bjork vocals and an infectious lead single in the form of ‘Wishing Well’, which, along with ‘Movie Romance’, recalls the wit and optimism of ‘His’n’Hers’-era Pulp. Added to these essentials are touches of New York Noise guitar scratches and atonal sax squalls to correct the light/dark balance.
News of another husband and wife duo could instantly lead to the conclusion that this is another rehashing of the White Stripes now tired formula, yet the distance between Jack & Meg and Wild Birds & Peace Drums is as expansive as a Scandinavian fjord. Though the foundations are simple, the archaic combination of drums and vocals don’t end in a passé result. Instead, this Swedish duo have hatched an album of highly rhythmical, soul-inﬂected, improvisational jazz music that has been stripped of pomp until only the bare skeleton of its structure remains on show.With additional ﬂourishes swerving to the wellchosen Bjork and Kate Bush school of thought, this remains an album perfect for those who ﬁnd Florence and The Machine a little too predictable.
The Century Of Self (Superball) By Greg Cochrane. In stores now Who needs friends when you’ve got enemies? Just ask ...Trail Of Dead’s Texan kingpin Conrad Keeley. On separating ways with their former major label, following the release of 2006’s ‘So Divided’, he ﬁred off saying, “Interscope has already killed TV On The Radio and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.There aren’t many bands on their roster left to ruin.”Youch. Fortunately it’s that same corstic anger he’s funnelled into this, their ﬁfth LP.Thoroughly rampant from gun to post, ‘The Giants Causeway’ opens with typical lambast, whilst ‘The Far Pavillions’ and ‘Isis Unveiled’ provide moments of prodigal prog - the latter sounding like Dogtanian - if and when - he joins Tool. Proper stallion riding music ﬂavoured with spite - a wonderfully bitter listen.
The Thermals Now We Cam See (Kill Rockstars) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores April 6
Following 2004’s rampant and brilliant ‘Fuckin A’, Portland’s The Thermals slowed things down to Bushbate and swipe at middle America’s religious fanaticism through ‘The Body,The Blood,The Machine’.They wanted their disillusioned lyrics to be heard, and they were. But Barack Obama runs The Thermal’s native land now, which is probably where this fourth album title comes from, along with the band’s most upbeat material to date. ‘When I Died’ and ‘We Were Sick’ might not suggest that this trio are smiles these days, and it would be terrible if they were. Because the real strength of ‘Now We Can See’ is summed up in a title track melodically designed for a euphoric terrace chant-a-long, yet still as savage and direct in its lyrics as The Thermals have ever been.The slow evolution of these three punks continues very nicely indeed. www.loudandquiet.com
AL BUMS 02/10
Bonnie Prince Billy
(Big Dada) By Greg Cochrane. In stores Apr 12
Never Gonna Touch The Ground (Moshi Moshi)
(Rough Trade) By Reef Younis. In stores Mar 23
By Edgar Smith. In stores now
(Vice) By Chris Watkeys. In stores now
(Domino) By Chris Watkeys. In stores now
Ok, we get it, 1990s can be kind of funny, witty, and sardonic, but we knew that much from their thoroughly agreeable debut, ‘Cookies’. Marking the successful foray into a world transcending the Glasgow cultism on which exYummy Fur, Jackie McKeown, built his name, the sarcasm that made 1990s debut so delicious hasn’t found it’s way onto second album, ‘Kicks’.We’re not saying there’s no place for throwaway pleasure - Mclusky were more culpable than most of dropping the lyrical bollock but they also had the ball-shredding bombast to bury their more lacklustre attempts – but when it’s executed without the loquacious snap of its predecessor, and relies on vacuous lite-pop melodies and lyrics that borderline on parody, ‘Kicks’ is deﬁnitely one in the teeth.
The storm of electro acts this year is already getting old. Enter Thunderheist – more Outkast than La Roux, and more interesting than a solo-gal ﬂash in the pan. Starting as they mean to go on, opening track ‘Anthem’ does exactly what is says on the tin. Pulsating and grimey, MC and singer Isis is the harder, better, faster, stronger Missy Elliot of today. Along with producer Grahmzilla,Thunderheist drop tracks as infectious as ‘Jerk It’ and as crunk/hip-hop/electro genrebending as ‘Little Booty Girl’, while standout track ‘Bubblegum’ has more in common with Kelis’ Milkshake than just childhood treats.This Toronto-duo are more than ready to unleash this Big Dada-released eponymous debut and shake up all that you thought you knew about 2009.
It’s not uncommon at student bar gigs to spot bearded 20-going-on30 year olds dancing around arrhythmically (half psycheVishnu, half dad-at-the-disco), asking you at the bar later “how the sowwwnd’s going dowwwn”. That irritating semi-ironic enthusiasm for being a wanker is the basis of this debut from San Franciscans Still Flyin’ who purport to front a new movement called ‘Hamjam’ and named their second single ‘Forever Dudes’.The song in question was pretty much unlistenable after the 50 second mark when it became obvious that the line “so we all jumped into the party bus” was going to start each chorus. Unluckily for the album it’s the best track.The bottom line is that stupid people shouldn’t be allowed to have fun where it can be seen or heard.
If you’re going to make an album that sounds like it’s been recorded with a single mic in a dirty underground cabin with terrible acoustics, you sure as hell better make sure the songs themselves are good enough to compensate. For the most part, Black Lips haven’t, and as a result listening to ‘200MillionThousand’ is a singularly unedifying experience, which is a shame considering their last, great offering.The entire record simply smacks of no effort made. Simple songs are all very well if they’re catchy, but these are largely monotonous, meandering efforts, punctuated here and there with the odd half-decent garage track. As a result, only the mufﬂed rawness of the dumb-as-fuck ‘Let It Grow’ and the Nick Cave-esque ‘Trapped In A Basement’ rescue this album from genuine disaster.
The question that remains in the minds of this alt-country colossus’ fans continues to be, will the bonnie prince ever produce an album to equal 1999’s ‘I See a Darkness’? On the strength of ‘Beware’, perhaps not. Once again, it’s a case of less steely miserablism than we’d hoped for on his latest effort. Billy’s edges have softened gradually over the years (musically, if not lyrically) and now he seems to be drifting yet further out of the ‘alt’ and into the ‘country’. But ‘Beware’ is still a thing of genuine beauty: sweeping, enveloping music disguising typically spiky lyrics, like switchblades sticking through a comfy eiderdown. So those holding out for a musical return to 1999 should probably stop hoping, and embrace the new warmth of this prince’s songwriting.
Danananakroyd Black Wax (Best Before) By Sam Walton. In stores April 6
When Dananananaykroyd - the Glaswegian sixpiece with the worst-conceived name since Arctic Monkeys - released their ﬁrst EP it was such a concentrated and concise blast of attention-deﬁcit pop that it became difﬁcult to imagine the group in any dose other than the short and sharp. Its success lay in its boundless energy and feral nature – qualities that daze and stun in ﬂurries, but when stretched across an entire long-player become slightly wearing. That said, ‘Hey Everyone’ starts magniﬁcently. A 90-second blast of countryfried post-punk collides with the frenetic ﬁrst song proper, ‘Watch This’, and it’s a hard listener who wouldn’t crack a smile when the entire band begin chanting their name in unison (it’s
also a useful pronunciation guide for those of us who’ve been calling them “Danawhatever” for the last year).This rattles straight into their brilliant minisymphony, ‘The Greater Than Symbol & The Hash’, and then into ‘Black Wax’ – a straight-up pop song recalling the best bits of Pavement and Idlewild with a coda to rival Arcade Fire’s sense of singalong. But, unfortunately, that’s more or less it. Save for the gloriously inventive ‘1993’, which begins like a heavier XTC and mutates into Mogwaiwith-singing for the outro, there’s little that grabs attention and a lot that feels like a band running out of ideas. At its best, ‘Hey Everybody’ delivers a rare level of life-afﬁrming energy and a force of personality that propels you through the songs with wide-eyed excitement. But unfortunately there really is not enough in the tank to sustain itself consistently – releasing just half of this album would’ve made it doubly good.
Pure Reason Revolution
Ofﬁcial Secrets Act
Western Sci Fi
By Tom Goodwyn. In stores now
(Just Music) By Kate Parkin. In stores Mar 30
(W2) By Phil Dixons. In stores now
(One Little Indian) By Phil Dixon. In stores Mar 30
With a debut single that clocked in at over 11 minutes, Reading’s Pure Reason Revolution always seemed an unlikely signing by major label Sony. As their debut record went pretty much unnoticed, they were released from their contract and are now on German indie, Superball. With such a proggy past, the sleazy electronics of opening track ‘Les Maheurs’ come as a real shock, but after this we’re soon back on familiar territory. Most songs nearly clock in at six minutes and, in each one, there’s just too much going on.Too many instruments, too much layered production and, ultimately, too many ideas.The tracks pull you in so many directions that you end up tuning out. A band with boundless energy and creativity, until PRR focus this into something more distilled, they’re doomed to still be ignored.
Search for ‘Loner’ on the web and you’ll ﬁnd a string of gloomy sentences on the anti-social condition.Tracking down Loner the artist (AKA Geoff Smith) proves more difﬁcult but rewarding – a man probably best known for lending his track ‘French Movie’ to Sex and The City.This second, focusing around an almost orchestral score, immediately transports you to Sigur Ros’ ‘( )’ days, while tracks like ‘Soho’ diffuse Pet Shop Boys’ ‘West End Girls’ through rose-tinted ﬁlters. Sadly these ﬂeeting moments of perfection are hard won by trawling through a multiple amount of ﬁllers. The most remarkable track, ‘Farewell My Friend’, meanwhile proves that being alone, set apart from a world of meaningless background chatter, is no bad thing.
It’s to The Bishops’ credit that a sound rooted so ﬁrmly in the sixties can span decades at the same time. Excluding opener ‘City Lights’’s Gang of Four post-punk sound and ‘Hold On’s Maximo Park-esque synth, the ﬁrst half of album number 2 consists of tracks like ‘Nothing I Can Do or Say’; reminiscent of a more innocent time, when neatly dressed boys would bob their heads in unison on family-friendly programming. Because of this, it all seems very safe, with nothing to hate necessarily but little to fall in love with either, until the latter half of ‘For Now’ progresses into a more experimental mindset in an alltoo-short ﬂurry of two-minute psych-pop gems straight from the original Summer of Love. A clear progression from their debut, the Bishops now need to leave the 60s.
On ﬁrst listen, ‘Understanding Electricity’ sounds like Of Montreal fronted by Johnny Borrell on helium, although there are some quality lightweight indiepop numbers, played at full pelt and displaying a knack for a good hook.Where it falls down is the slower offerings like ‘A Head for Herod’ (with a lead vocal entirely too grating to carry a sentimental ballad), or the unashamedly 80s ‘Bloodsport’, sounding like Ultravox or fellow revivalists The Killers at their synth-drowned worst. Despite the opening salvation of twinkly artrock bleeps and whistles, OSA can’t keep up the pace throughout, making for an inconsistent debut album that disappoints more than it delights. A more concerted effort is needed to innovate rather than rehash the past.
The Hazards Of Love (Rough Trade) By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Mar 23 When eagerly anticipating the release of an artist’s new material, there are two words that can strike fear into the hearts of even the most devoted fans.Those two words are ‘concept album’. In the case of Portland quartet The Decemberists, the concept album is about Margaret, a woman who is ravaged and subsequently impregnated by a shape-shifting animal. Disturbing sounding stuff indeed, but as heavy and highminded as this sounds, ‘Hazards Of Love’ is an invigorating listen that uses the narrative to bind together a heady mix of musical styles. There are complex string arrangements, thundering guitar riffs and gentle ditties; each track a leap from the last. Pretentious? Undoubtedly. But ‘Hazards Of Love’ is a great listen, whether you buy the concept or not.
Amor Vincit Omnia (Superball)
Filthy Dukes Nonsense In The Dark (Polydor) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores now
It’s an old trick, but pulling in favours from hyped vocal talents remains the sawing-aDebbie-McGee-in-half of the dance world. Uncle have built a career on ﬂogging records to Richard Ashcroft fans that would have scoffed at James Lavelle and his silly computer music had Dicky not been involved.The Chemical Brothers have roped in Tim Burgess and Noel Gallagher before now, Death In Vegas have nabbed Gallagher Jnr. And so on. Not wanting to mess with this effective way of broadening appeal, Filthy Dukes – the eventual musical outlet for the team behind electronic/indie club Kill ‘Em All – have gone to town on the cameos. ‘Nonsense In The Dark’ features Orlando Weeks, frYars, Brandon Curtis, Plastic Little, Samuel
Dust of Late Of The Pier,To My Boy, Foreign Islands and Tommy Sparks. Occasionally the results are disastrous, like the camp Erasure pop of the Sparks-featured ‘Messages’. Here, Filthy Dukes have misjudged themselves, clearly lopping off Debbie McGee’s legs. ‘Don’t Fall Softly’, featuring ex-Secret Machine Brandon Curtis, is closer to the desired effect of electronic music combining with the world of indie perfectly, even if it does sound oddly like ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ by The Waterboys.What we’re really after though is frYars sounding like David Bowie on a ‘Heroes’esque ‘Poison Ivy’, a throbbing opener in the Samuel Dust-accompanied ‘Rhythm’ and a fragile down tempo title track in which Orlando Weeks emotionally coos away.We, of course, get all three, as well as To My Boy giving a new romantic croon to ‘Elevator’. A few dud pyrotechnics maybe, but, ultimately, quite the magic show. www.loudandquiet.com
The urban Oz Fest
ST JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL
Sydney, Australia 09.02.2009 By Andrew Catchaturyan Photography by Mic Wernej
The Laneway Festival, since it’s inception, has carried a clout of credibility that the rest of Australia’s summer festivals distinctly lack. It’s relatively dickhead-free – no ﬂuoro here, nor Southern Cross tattoos or Australian ﬂags-ascloaks. 2009’s line-up might not be as strong as last year’s (Feist, Stars, Broken Social Scene), but to Laneway’s chagrin, it’s sold out, anchored by the likes of The Hold Steady, Girl Talk, Architecture in Helsinki, Jay Reatard, No Age and The Temper Trap. Having missed Firekites and Philadelphia Grand Jury, we stumble to the already full Basement stage to see Jack Ladder. He’s awailin’ songs off recent release ‘Love Is Gone’, and has transformed from sensitive, folksy guy (as we found him on ‘Not Worth Waiting For’) into Springsteen-esque rock-n-roller, thunderously supported by Pivot stickman Laurence Pike. Back at the main stage, a few imps scurry around on the platform, and proceed to plug in
guitars.They’re Papa vs. Pretty and they grab the stage with conﬁdence, wasting no time in getting to the rock. An early departure to the Reiby Place Stage for Yves Klein Blue soon proves to be a mistake.They’re unimpressive. More guys standing around in stovepipes (not even blue ones). A fellow reviewer, who’d stayed for Papa vs. Pretty, assures me they were, “Great. Fuckin’ great, man.” In search of something a little more than mediocre, and fuelled by a $6 hot dog and another jar of beer, I mosey over to see Modular Records’ new wunderkinds, Tame Impala, on the Park Stage. I rather like ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’ (everyone liked ‘Woman’ when it ﬁrst came out) but no, they don’t even play it. Just an average cover of ‘Remember Me’ by Blue Boy. Less wah-wah, more presence please, have you even taken acid? Off to Born Rufﬁans. Thank god for Canadian indie bands as ‘Need a Life’, despite the rubbish sound, has the whole place bopping along quite nicely.What a
relief to not be under whelmed before No Age. The loose, lubricated crowd (by BEER, you ﬁlth) have been eager to see them and duly erupted in appreciation.To quote a certain photographer colleague, “Mate, they fuckin’ smashed it”. Next up, The Temper Trap. Having been pleasantly surprised by them at their previous Laneway appearance, I was keen to see what two years, a sweet single (‘Sweet Disposition’) and some backing from the BBC had done to their live show.The answer is made them thrillingly full of variety, with lots of members switching instruments as they’re led with force and passion by singer Dougy Mandagi.When the opening licks of ‘Sweet…’ tread the air, the whole place suddenly wakes up so I take my energetic chance and scurry away for Cut Off Your Hands. Obviously veterans, they’re looking very relaxed (or drunk) as we get to see the ﬁrst good ol’ fashioned stage dive of the festival, singer Nick Johnston launching himself into the crowd
ELECTRICITY IN OUR HOMES The Scala, Kings Cross 20.02.2009 By Polly Pappaport ▼
in the midst of new single ‘Turn Cold’. After that, it’s over to the Park stage to catch The Drones. Having a solid live reputation, I was looking forward to it and am soon surprised by how upbeat it is. Nowhere near as dark and brooding as I’d expected.This is so much…fun! I started dancing along. Afterward, a buddy returned from the Reiby Place stage and says, “Man, The Drones were great”.What? But hadn’t I just… no.The program was printed wrong, and they’d switched stages with Architecture in Helsinki, and me being generally unfamiliar with the bulk of each bands recordings, was stuffed. Oh well. Architecture in Helsinki were fantastic! Bleary eyed, and tired now, I wait around for the Hold Steady. Good old Hold Steady.They really can hold their own (or steady, HA!) on a stage, any day of the week. Playing tracks off the recent ‘Stay Positive’ LP, they put on a tight, energetic show. Guitarist
Tad Kuebler even brakes out the doublenecked guitar. I walked to Girl Talk, to be repulsed – I forgot that the term “Girl Talk” is now also used as a collective noun for a bunch of hipster jerks. I enjoy the records, but the people who shove their way to the front are arseholes. Finally, I drag my weary feet and eyes into the Basement, for the end of Pivot’s set. With drummer Laurence backing up from his earlier Jack Ladder show, amidst that famous Basement heat, they still proved to be scintillating, even managing to play two new songs. And so concludes the 2009 St. Jeromes Laneway Festival. Ups:The Temper Trap, Hold Steady, Jack Ladder, Pivot, Architecture in Helsinki, short beer lines. Downs: LONG toilet lines,Yves Klein Blue,Tame Impala, the sound in general.
It’s the beginning of the end of Fierce Panda’s 15th Birthday do and most of us have been steadily replacing our bloodstreams with beer for over four hours.The scene: Electricity In Our Homes on the tiny stage making a far from tiny racket, Hatcham Social down the front throwing shapes like a pack of disoriented yet enthusiastic giraffes, An Experiment On A Bird practically propping each other up in weariness, wondering what their 1.00am set is going to sound like, and some arsehole at the back heckling with all the wit of a steaming dog turd. EIOH falter and start a song from the top, “Now you’ll have to listen to us for longer, ya prick,” spits bassist Bonnie K. Genius.The band resumes its sonic clutter of discordant guitar torture, invasive verbal explosions and clattering beats like the drum kit attacking the drummer. Perfectly timed, just off-time minimalist barker ‘Gymnastics’ is satisfactorily grating and weirdly danceable with its jerky, schizophrenic blurts of “Ooh, bend my back”, bipolar rhythms and a bass line that’s been in a bad mood ever since Pavement split. This isn’t just any racket; it’s a pissed-off post-punk threatening to go avant-garde racket, ya prick.
DATA. SELECT. PARTY O2 Academy, Oxford 07.03.2009 By Tom Goodwyn ▼
No one would doubt that for young bands going on tour it must be a blast - drunken days, making new friends and conquering a new town every night. London’s Data. Select.Party, however, seem to have had far too much fun on this tour. They spend a good ten minutes delivering shout outs and in-jokes, which would normally this would be expectable if they didn’t only have 30 minutes with which to
woo Oxford. It’s precious time they can ill afford to waste. But, with their mesh of the emotional outpourings of Taking Back Sunday, the quirkiness of Minus The Bear and the pop sensibilities of Jimmy Eat World, DSP’s bouncy, emo pop still proves irresistible. Tonight, tracks like ‘Ultra Swing’ and ‘No Girls Allowed’, with their sweeping choruses, ﬁddly guitar riffs and classic rock breakdowns, are all rapturously received.They claim not one but three circle pits, and for a band scarcely on their second mini album that’s quite an achievement.They are on such crushing form in fact that it makes the prolonged banter all the more frustrating, as you just wish they’d play more songs! It’s not that good to talk, lads!
FUCKED UP Concorde 2, Brighton 05.03.2009 By Nathan Westley ▼
Much has already been said of Fucked Up in the past twelve months, a year that has seen them rise from underground cult heroes to over ground torchbearers.Yet as the push for wider notoriety nears a temporary end, they remain headstrong, as always, nose-diving into a sweaty action packed set that will leave some people questioning what qualities make for a good live band.Tonight is littered in hardcore clichés, from the topless peanut butter-smeared Pink Eyes cutting the sea of moving perspiring bodies – a move which recalls Iggy in his prime – to the fully embraced punk attitude, uniting the audience through brutal testosterone fuelled rock. It’s this unadulterated passion for their craft that ﬁghts its way to the forefront and even though it sometimes feels like they are acting out an already well-read script, there is no denying that the live environments like these are where this band thrives. Devoid of grandeur they serve as a welcome relief from bands who are all too content to stand motionless, painstakingly replicating their songs note for note, and whether www.loudandquiet.com
covered in sweat or Americas favourite spread many would have left tonight in full agreement.
PONYTAIL The Lexington, Islington 10.03.2009 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
KASMs. Photography by OWEN RICHARDS
Apache Beat. Photography by ELINOR JONES
It’s a given that a new parent’s love for their spawn is so bias that they’ll ‘aww bless’ at everything their mini me does, while the rest of us refuse to tolerate the brattish screams of those we don’t share DNA with. Go and see Ponytail and you’ll get the idea. Oddly though, everyone at The Lexington seems to be claiming responsibly for producing cutesy lead yelper Molly Siegel, encouraging her cheeky, grinning face as she bounds around and lets out nonsensical screams. And, to begin with, we’re charmed into feeling the same, turning to those around us, practically boasting about how our princess even manage to say ‘Hobnob’ yesterday.The rest of the band are what keep us interested once the novelty of goading Siegel on has worn off (which it quickly does, 5 minutes in); completely bonkers as they speed along to Jeremy Hyman’s precise and brilliantly difﬁcult drumming. And then the impressiveness of duel guitars sounding like zapping spaceships and math-rock-oncheap-whiz fades, probably hindered by the fact that Siegel now has Dustin Wong yelling double Dutch at us, just a ‘I-ayowww-eeeee’ away from throwing his stink at the wall. Don’t look at us; we’re not the parents.
KASMS Post War Years. Photography by TIM COCHRANE
South of the Border, Shoreditch 24.02.2009 By Polly Rappaport ▼
It’s nice and toasty down South Of The Border, and, as if it wasn’t sweaty enough already, things are about to get a lot hotter. Flaming red ﬂapper dress springing to life, tassels sparking outwards, creating a
tiny ﬁreball of bouncing energy, Rachel Mary Callaghan is truly the picture of a punk rock princess: poised, polite, gingerly demurring from the backwashed dregs of a proffered pint… and screaming like a crimson-bobbed banshee clawing its way up from the bowels of hell. This beautiful beastie and her band hurl tracks at the sweltering mass of sticky bodies like scalding tidal waves, scattering, congealing and drawing them in.The songs are peppered with urgent yelps, punctuating robustly sombre intonations, riding the spiralling current of bass growl and weaving gracefully through sliding wires of spider-legged guitar and coronary drum beats. Inspired by a few preliminary shoves within the throng, Rachel springs from an artfully exhibitionistic ﬂoorwrithe, straight over a few shoulders and into the roiling crowd. Shoving, clawing and shrieking, she then tidily returns to centre stage, says a quick “Hello” to her dad, glowing with pride and standing just clear of the human debris that is KASMs’ calling card. Buy the man a Mojito – his kid’s band is on ﬁre.
JAMES YUILL The Cockpit 3, Leeds 28.02.2009 By Kate Parkin ▼
Huddled under the eaves of a corrugated iron tunnel that looks more suited to hoarding kegs or growing veg stands the solitary ﬁgure of James Yuill. Slowly he begins coaxing synths into life, laying down layer after layer of squelching beats on ‘No Pins Allowed’. Gently plucking his guitar through the Röyksopp stylings of ‘Over The Hill’ he seems slightly apologetic, bashful even. Buoyed up by the attentions of the crowd he slackens the reins and cranks up the bass.The crowd loosens up too and pockets of dancing spread out into full on grooving. ‘Sweet Love’ is given an interstellar facelift with shimmering keyboards attaching themselves to the looping chords. Feel good vibes and smiling at
strangers become contagious as James plays the alchemist, mixing together different rhythmic combinations as ‘No Surprise’ morphs into a full-on ‘hands in the air’ disco number in this short but joyful set. Looking like the coolest science teacher on the block,Yuill’s songs have a naive quality that makes them immensely likeable but it’s his ability to combine this boyish charm with melodic electronic wizardry that makes them extraordinary.
WIRE Cargo, Shoreditch 24.02.2009 By Edgar Smith ▼
That Wire released a brilliant, seminal post-punk record in each of the three years following 1976 gives you some idea of the band’s structural know-how. Deconstructed when their founder and pub-rockish frontman hospitalised himself on a staircase, the band went on to reshape anything in sight; chopping up surrounding punk and new wave sounds and shufﬂing them into something to think about as well as dance and ﬁght to. After an instrumental intro, it looks unfortunately like tonight’s show is going to focus on the music they made in more recent decades, mainly electronic-laden and impenetrably groovesome rock. Nonetheless, a Cargo ﬁlled with ageing punks loyally sings along. Halfway through though, they glide blissfully into ‘The 15th’ which gets the best reaction so far: the crowd boils and Blurt’s Ted Milton, standing deep in the middle of it, smiles and starts nodding-along. A drastically outof-tune solo from touring addition Margaret McGinnis ends the song and marks a welcome turn from jaw-dropping technical proﬁciency to unchecked immediacy. From there, they tear through old and new material and in three teasing encores (predictably the last is punk standard ‘12XU’) ‘Pink Flag’ numbers are played both with krautish extensions and at double (yes, double) speed. All hail.
POST WAR YEARS The Lexington, Islington 25.02.2009 By Chris Watkeys ▼
Let’s face it, for your common guitar-based indie outﬁt to really impress these days, they have to be something pretty bloody special. So what’s a band to do? One option is to take the slightly more interesting route by throwing a few more instruments into the mix and making music you can dance to… hello, Post War Years. First on the bill tonight are the always interesting Wave Machines, sporting masks of their own faces and delivering a few energised shots of falsetto vocal-led postpunk to an appreciative crowd. Post Wear Years follow with their highly evolved form of punk-funk, à la Friendly Fires, with its allied awkward rhythms and bundles of synths. Carrying this off convincingly on stage can be tricky. Hemmed in as they are by racks of keyboards and assorted technical gubbins, the quartet are nothing spectacular, visually.Their music, however, is another matter – layers of sound built on punk-funk beats, smooth vocal harmonies, and songs that veer between the piercingly spiky and chilled-out in the space of three minutes.The Lexington crowd, packed in armpit-to-armpit down the front, rather likes it – even more so when the sublime single ‘Whole World On Its Head’ reaches its sweaty ears. Music you can dance to? Hell yes.
THE MUSCLE CLUB The Social 12.03.2009 By Greg Cochrane ▼
The Muscle Club aren’t, as you might imagine, a bunch of bodybuilder blokes, tapemeasuring each other’s external obliques, drinking ‘protein’ (probably crows feet) Power Shakes and saying things like ‘Oooph, Dez, hold me sweat towel a sec.’ No, they’re four wispy students from South Wales who play with the
vitality of regulars at Fitness First and the urgency of Courtney Love on a smack hunt. No surprise, they’ve only been together for just over twelve months. And the giant nodding soundman isn’t the only person lapping up their ﬂeshy take on The Thermals,The Cribs and Brand New.Their tunes are great bulging biceps of lovely stratyindie. ‘All For The Kids’, ‘Hail! Joe Hale’ and ‘Damn These Circumstances’ are drenched in scuzz, neighbourly shouting and furious, wrist-wilting guitar battering. So furious in fact, drummer Jordan Hayward ﬁres a drumstick past Loud And Quiet’s head into the crowd and into one girl’s drink. Main man Michael Bateson-Hill - wearing a Black Lips Tee, another nod to their own scrappy direction - ends the set with a spectacular scissor kick before bending (quite literally) backwards. Personally trained to perfection,The Muscle Club are a proper pop workout.
WOMEN The Lexington, Islington 03.03.2009 By Ian Roebuck ▼
Women’s eponymous debut was recorded in Chad Vangaalen’s basement on the other side of the world. For over half an hour, as a storm ravaged outside,The Lexington is that basement.Thanks Chad, sorry about the wine-oncarpet incident.With similar parallels to the album, the Canadian quartet play a bewitching set that walks a tightrope between brittle beauty and total implosion. Each track’s given the same treatment by the charmingly languid bunch.Their ability to sound close to breaking point, despite musical clarity and precision playing, provides some heart-warming moments with ‘Black Rice’ predictably proving a high point, its slack paced rhythm leaving Kings Cross swaying with delight. At one moment during the blissful ‘Sag Harbor Bridge’ the bands delicacy transformed into an eerie, ominous presence and back again within a few layers of guitar
washes.This enigmatic quality, coupled with their charismatic style, makes for a compelling night whether the band smash the place up or gather everyone around for a nice sit down. As they played ‘Shaking Hand’ the whole place nods in approval of what can only be described as the shambolic elegance of this quartet.
APACHE BEAT Cargo, Shoreditch 26.02.2009 By Tom Sillito ▼
Considering the certain malign, tedious and frankly revolting trend of ‘averageness’ littering the stages of Britain, ‘Apache Beat’ should be welcomed with extremely open arms – it’s nothing less than exhilarating to witness a band that seems to truly be reaching for innovation.The opening ‘Walking on Fire’ certainly possesses a raw and epic quality, surging with a frantic energy, held together by a very precise and interesting drummer (that’s why that name is so damn funny). However, four choruses in to what follows something hits me; this is not an important band but rather a band that believes they are important. The closed eyes and silly extended ‘Whoa’s!’ of choruses sound a little like Arcade Fire covering Kaiser Chiefs. I switch off, I realise I have been tricked again – laziness is rife. Then, almost as quickly I realise that the guitars in single ‘Tropics’, perhaps showing the ﬁrst sign of diversity, hold back a little and give the singers voice a chance to shine. This subtlety continues into ‘Let It Go’, building slowly from a solitary guitar riff, accompanied by two voices and the bass intertwining melodies. It’s beautiful and haunting, before the closing ‘Knives’ is saved mostly by the brimming conﬁdence brought about by the reaction of the audience.They do seem to possess a drive to create something a little different – and to my mind this seems a reason to allow a band in infancy to become what they already think they are.That is to say, brilliant.
SILICON KID Barﬂy, Camden 11.03.2009 By Ruby Chase ▼
Will Knox is a brave man. As the Silicon Kid front man takes to the stage, he seems oblivious to the fact that tonight his band are competing with four of Europe’s largest football teams for an audience. And it’s this jubilant conﬁdence, which is quickly passed on to the small, assembled crowd. Kicking off - excuse the pun with ‘Alcohol’, track one from their newly released EP, Silicon Kid produce a sound clearly inﬂuenced by The Stone Roses, with a bit of Kings of Leon and Hot Hot Heat thrown in for good measure. Previously accused of lacking the heart and dedication that it takes to succeed, these boys have come back from a short hiatus bolder and more dynamic, probably due to the addition of keys man Chris Goddard, his subtle tones accompanying Knox’s Guy Garvey coos. By the time they get to crowd favourite ‘Gold Bars’ thoughts of balls being kicked about on distant pitches have all but gone. Bells and whistles it ain’t, but it took Elbow ten years to get any kind of notable recognition so don’t be too quick to write off Silicon Kid.
SOLID GOLD Water Rats, Kings Cross 25.02.2009 By Margo Fortuny ▼
On the intimate stage of London’s Water Rats Theatre, lead singer Zach Coulter begins with a conﬁdent croon, infusing his generic lyrics with a quiet passion. His bassist/keyboardist grazes his Casio synthesizer with intense concentration; I love Metallica scribbled on his instrument despite the inﬂuence not being apparent. To the left, the guitarist stands in place, gently strumming the polished tunes while, the drummer looks defeated his tight and steady beats thread together the varying elements of the songs. A ﬁfth
member is missing due to passport issues, which perhaps contributes to the lackluster mood, soft melodies veering into Richard Marx territory with lyrics like, “It’s not your fault, not your fault… calm down” having a sedative effect on the audience.Though musically the band is technically capable, ultimately their performance inspires ambivalence. Coulter describes Solid Gold as urban psychedelic pop, but it sounds more like suburban stoner electro pop/rock;e asy Listening electronica for languid mopers. Maybe some day they could turn their bland compositions into dreamy dirges.
THE JOY FOMIDABLE The Plug, Shefﬁeld 14.03.2009 By Kate Parkin ▼
Living up to their name,The Joy Formidable bounce onto the stage accompanied by whoops and cheers. Speeding along through ‘Cradle’, guitars circle round like a dog endlessly chasing its own tail, simply, daftly happy. Sporting a shorn off bob and a vacant expression, singer Ritzy Bryan looks increasingly doll-like as she faces up to the crowd, small pockets of The Plug bouncing along to the decidedly Paramoreesque ‘Whirring’. Drummer Matt gamely ﬂings his arms around as Ritzy sinks dramatically to her knees, thanking the crowd a little too profusely to come across anything less than desperate – even when they add a hint of a snarl it stills feels a bit too cutesy for comfort. Dancing gingerly round the stage, Ritzy tries to inject some life into the performance as ‘Austere’ descends into a feedbackinduced haze. She whirls around, propelled by her guitar through the sonic swell, but as it goes on she looks increasingly like she’s starring in a Tommy Cooper dog-walking sketch, clumsily knocking over mic stands and stumbling into speakers. Having been fully prepared to be blown away, we’re instead left not so much formidably joyful, as decidedly under-whelmed. www.loudandquiet.com
REVIEW OF REVIEWS
by DEAN DRISCOLL
WATCHMEN Starring: Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jeffrey Dean Morgan Director: Zach Snyder
Above: Peter Capaldi in In The Loop
BETWEEN THE OSCA R S AND SUMMER HIT S I S A COLD, DULL PLAC E The Awards season is over. The most hyped movie of the year so far has been and gone. March/April is therefore a fairly lacking month for quality movies, as Hollywood generally looks to grab a couple of comedy/action movie sleeper hits in the lull before the summer blockbuster season. On the comedy front we’re treated to not one but two weak mall security guard movies: Paul Blart: Mall Cop (out now) from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company; and Observe & Report (released April 24th) starring a bored-looking Seth Rogen. If the woeful trailers are to be trusted, expect lots of fatguy-rolling-around-on-the-ﬂoor hilarity from the former, and… well, probably best just avoid the latter altogether. To make matters worse we’ve got Lesbian Vampire Killers (Out now) in which talentless wasters Matthew Horne and James Corden in no way rip off Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s transition from TV to the big screen with Shaun Of The Dead, in that their movie is a comedy-horror that’s witless, crass and terrible in all the ways Pegg & Wright’s wasn’t. Action junkies can get their ﬁx from the relentlessly intellectual sequels out this month – Crank: High Voltage (April 17th) (alternatively known as Crank 2 or Another Jason Statham ﬁlm that’s not actually The Transporter but might as well be), or the even more stupidly monikered Fast & Furious (April 10th), which is the sequel to The Fast & The Furious:Tokyo Drift… which followed 2 Fast 2 Furious… which came after the original THE Fast and THE Furious. It stars all the people from the ﬁrst movie – but only because they weren’t wanted anywhere else - and is sure to be a big hit with morons everywhere. So that’s what to avoid this month – what’s actually any good? Well, the high point is undoubtedly going
to be In The Loop (April 17th), director Armando Iannucci’s feature debut that indirectly follows on from the brilliant BBC comedy In The Thick Of It, which sees Peter Capaldi’s splenetic Government spin doctor titan Malcolm Tucker face-off against Tony Soprano! The swearing alone will make it the best movie of the year as it sets about capturing the insane bureaucracy that leads up to war, with James Gandolﬁni’s US Chief of Staff General Miller opposing the sexed-up reasoning behind the Middle Eastern interventionism put forward by the US and UK governments, setting up a clash with Tucker whilst Tom Hollander’s hapless minister gets caught up in the middle. Familiar faces from the show return, with Armando Iannucci and Peep Show‘s Jesse Armstrong behind the script. Other potential charmers include Monsters vs. Aliens (April 3rd), the latest 3D CG toon, with a great voice cast including Reece Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Kiefer Sutherland, Paul Rudd and Arrested Development’s Will Arnett AKA Gob Bluth. If it was a Pixar effort, with their impeccable writing standards, it would be a sure bet, but as it’s Dreamworks it may just fall short of greatness – huge fun it will almost certainly be though. Brit-yuks are promised with the return of Richard Curtis, who presents the story of Radio Caroline’s birth in The Boat That Rocked (April 3rd), and pulls together a typical Curtis-formula cast of well-known Brit luvvies – Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Rhys Ifans and Kenneth Branagh among them and a big-name star from across the pond to keep the yanks interested: on this occasion it’s Philip Seymour Hoffman. This month’s cinema highlights: March 27th: Tyson, The Damned United, Two Lovers April 3rd: Religulous, The Boat That Rocked, Monsters vs. Aliens April 17th: In The Loop
It was difﬁcult not to get wrapped up in the hype for Watchmen. It started early - Watchmen was ‘the Citizen Kane of graphic novels’. What that ensured was that Watchmen didn’t belong to the fanboys any more – it was in the public domain: it would have to work as a movie for the public, not just the fanboys. Looking at the reviews, it seems the fans were keen to let it work for them. The remarkably faithful translation to screen won approving scores from Total Film, Empire and Little White Lies, and even from more high-minded critics such as Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian, whilst it was pleasingly lost on the Daily Mail and Sunday Times. It all boded well. However, watching the Watchmen, you get the feeling that these positive reviews are born out of a desire to see the ﬁlm live up to the hype, rather than the results themselves. It’s what you might call the Phantom Menace effect: the fans are so afraid of being disappointed, so fearful of realizing they’d been taken in by the hype, that they will look past all its faults. Sadly, Zack Snyder’s faithfulness to the text is his undoing, as portions that make perfect sense on the page simply do not work on screen.The soundtrack for example is highly intrusive – the novel used lyrics from well-known songs in a witty manner, but on screen, having ‘Hallelujah’ soundtrack the ridiculous sex scene was just excruciating.Whilst there are examples whereby faithfulness to the novel is rewarded (Fight Club for example), there are many more of the material being adapted to ﬁt the cinematic form to achieve greater results: Red being black and a single warden in The Shawshank Redemption; or Kubrick eschewing the foliage monsters and honing in on the psychological terror in The Shining. The 4/5 star reviews awarded to Watchmen do not really reﬂect its quality as a ﬁlm – they reward the effort. 5 stars there, Zack, but 3 stars for the results… at best.
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PAVEMENT GENTLE FRIENDLY THE MACCABEES PLUGS BEIRUT KASMS TELEPATHE WE HAVE BAND EZRA BANG MICACHU EMMY THE GREAT WOMEN CRYSTAL STILTS RETURNING LPs OF ‘09
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PARTY WOLF PHOTO CASEBOOK“No MJ, no BJ”
You heard Rod? Michael Jackson is coming to London for some shows! My missus loves MJ. I’d lick a tramp for tickets.
It reminds me of being in The Faces, we sold out the Barﬂy once!
Wow Aries, what a start to 2009 you’ve had, and expect your newly found popularity to continue now that you’ve stopped monkeying around and are willing to give your public what they want.Venus is rising in your sign and a recent reconciliation spells out passionate love. In a relationship? Expect a bombshell as your partner conﬁrms they’re leaving you.You don’t care though, Aries, you’re back in the game and soon you’ll have boys and girl queuing up to have a go on your Beetlebum. A large number 2 is lucky for you while an old friend smelling of cheese will resurface to try to steel your thunder, so remember to watch you back but continue to let your hair down whilst you still have it.
CELEBRITY TWITTER Famous people are as normal as us!
Yeah, yeah Rod, whatever. This is MJ! THE KING OF POP! Other than the age of your birds (allegedly), you’ve got little in common really.
Sat waiting for the bus home, TOTALLY getting noticed by the girls hanging around. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
@therealmrblobby Don’t take the piss mate, you owe me £20!
WTF is this that Tony Blackburn has sent me? http://hotmale.com/gameforalaugh. Might as well have a quick look... ;-) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Get me tickets, my love, and you’ll not have to Beat It yourself
Phoarrr! You jammy git PW!
Can’t believe that stupid cow dealt at £700 after a perfect blue round. Totally ball-less! She didn’t play the board at all... just guessed --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OMG! The banker just guffed down the phone!
GEG FROM LONDON, 23 â€œLoudandquiet.com is where I read all new music news, reviews and features. I even enter competitions on there and have subscribed to the printed paper through the site.â€?
Marmaduke Duke / Wavves / Hatcham Social / Factory Floor / Crystal Stilts / Fierce Panda / Eddy Current Suppression Ring / Crystal Fighters
Published on Jul 29, 2012
Marmaduke Duke / Wavves / Hatcham Social / Factory Floor / Crystal Stilts / Fierce Panda / Eddy Current Suppression Ring / Crystal Fighters