LoudAndQuiet Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 06 / 100 percent massive
the big pink Merok, Sleep Deprivation and moving to NewYork
Left – Sonic Youth Below Left – The Big Pink Below Right – Trailer Trash Tracys
Do Look Down Typical. Just as the sun arrives and blossom flirts with our pupils we find ourselves studying our laces and listening to droning hums in dark venues. Shoegaze is back, insularity is the new charisma and “we love My Bloody Valentine” has replaced the already-tired “we just wanna be pop” mission statement for hundreds of new bands. For The Big Pink [page 22] the Kevin Shields name check seems to stand up, proved by the band’s heartbreaking new wall of sound single, ‘Velvet’. And Trailer Trash Tracys [page 14], with their swooning, minimal melodies, are giving us no reason to look up either. Everyone wanted to know what would follow the vibrant, celebratory Nu Rave party, and in retrospect that was never going to be solo pop starlets producing electronic Kylie cast-offs.When a movement dies, what follows has to be a grand departure – Obama for Bush, King Kong for The Lord of The Rings,The Smiths for Simple Minds. Fans of Jesus Mary Chain and Spiritualized can now feast once more on bands like The Horrors, Oh Minnows and Nadja, at least for a couple more months before all floors start to look the same and we decide that dancing and talking to girls is fun again. And if you’re already there, keep that chin up (yeah yeah, literally also), safe in the knowledge that Sonic Youth [page 28] still show no visible interest in following the crowd. Sometimes what you’re looking for is right at your feet. www.loudandquiet.com
Contents 06| 09 Photographer: OWEN RICHARDS
LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 06 / 100 PERCENT MASSIVE
THE BIG PINK Merok, Sleep Deprivation and moving to NEW YORK
07 – Eavis / Swigs / Shitmix 08 – Tricky / Selfish / Brut 10 – One / Poo / Helmet 12 – Black / White / Orange 15 – Coke / Hash / Skunk 16 – Derek / Acorah’s / Junk 18 – Skinny / Dip / Hippy 21 – 90% / Dickface 24 – The / Big / Hate 30 – Death / By / Kooks 34 – Seven / Dirty / Minutes 37 – Slowly / Mash / Danny 38 – Wait / There’s / More 46 – Naff / Old / Crab
email@example.com 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, Eleanor Dunk, Elinor Jones, Elizabeth Dodd, Kate Hutchinson, Kate Parkin, Kelda Hole, Mandy Drake, Nathan Westley Owen Richards, Rebecca Innes, Reef Younis, Sam Little, Sam Walton, Simon Leak,Tim Cochrane, Tom Goodwyn,Tom Pinnock This Month L&Q Loves
Ash Collins, Chris Stone, David Emery, Nathan Beazer, Keong Woo, Leo Walton, Rachel Silver, Pam Ribbeck, 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 06| 09
The F word A disgruntled Reef Younis urges you to seek your summer adventures elsewhere this year I don’t love Glastonbury. There, I’ve said it. Ok, so, it’s not the most outlandish statement to adorn this magazine’s pages, and I’m not solely targeting it as a beacon of my personal festival discontent, but I just don’t feel a slight pang of regret for shunning the Pyramid Stage and, latterly, the other British festival big boy, the Carling Weekend, these last few years. While Michael Eavis desperately tries to push Glastonbury’s ever-growing corporate envelope to reach the giddy fever and manic ticket clamour of a few years ago, and the Carling Weekend routinely ropes in the big hitters, the rabid fandom generated at the mere mention of the f-word shouldn’t be exclusively reserved for the swinging dicks of the festival scene anymore. As consumers, we’re more aware and demanding than ever before, so why is it that our heightened sensibility means we consistently elevate the two biggest to such loft pedestals and often portray them as the best? Sure, as a music obsessed, fresh-faced adolescent, there
are few prospects more enticing than three or four uninterrupted days sound-tracked by your favourite bands, the stink of adventure and outdoor toilets in the air, the forbidden promise of sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll palpable with every swig of your cider-concocted shitmix. You probably sat shell-backed over a keyboard, squinting hopefully at the computer screen; simultaneously hammering refresh with one hand and punching redial as part of a multi-friend network bearing all the intensive aggression of a London Met operation, desperately convincing yourself that the tickets will be worth the endurance. I know I have. But why spend your time somewhere stringently regulated and inflated like Reading, sponsored to saturation, forking out your hard earned pocket money for a lukewarm pint you’d be better off scooping up from your local gents floor? You might make a pre-festival band watch list the length of your arm, but when you wake up in a field, half cut and sun burnt, high tailing it across a mammoth camp site is often one
trek too far. Let’s face it; festivals aren’t, and shouldn’t be just about the music anymore. Not to pour too sentimental a gush on it; they’re a time for celebration and togetherness, an opportunity to break loose, enjoy and unleash, and spend a few breezy summer weeks gallivanting around open fields, debating the authenticity of questionable organic food stalls and arguing whether you should set the tent on fire before you leave. They also, typically, happen to be sound-tracked by some half decent tunes and that’s generally what you’re forking out your ever-growing £150 for, otherwise you’d just be one of a few thousand mentalists converging on a Home Counties field. But while UK festivals enjoy a relatively clear run at snaring headline acts, a quick Ryanair skip’ll let you party with Catalan cool at Primavera or laze around the beach by day and storm it until the early hours at the ever wonderful Benicassim. If you want to duck the sun, arrow over to Germany and dance it out in the
industrial surroundings of MELT - a three day effort in an old mining quarry - or invade Serbia & Montenegro and battle it out at EXIT, camping in front gardens and embracing the AM with electronic gusto in a fortified castle. A bit closer to home, and the picturesque, homely loveliness of Green Man is one to be savoured; waking up to crisp mornings where the mist rolls off the hilltops, or, if you’re after something really close to home without the suburban crush of the Camden Crawl, the inner city quirks of Summer Sundae might tickle your fancy with a pleasant few days spent camping in a city park, watching bands in the comfort of De Montfort hall, with the local newsagent just around the corner. So if you want to avoid the festival depression of shunning the outside world, sullenly boycotting the music press and ritually practicing tribal rain dances, I suggest you look a bit further a field this year. Who knows, you might not even have to camp at one. And, remember, it could always be worse. You might end up at V.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
By Janine Bullman
Down And Out On Murder Mile By Tony O’Neill (Harper Perennial) Brian Jones Town man no longer down and out... nor up and in ---------------------
Crawl or nothing Camden queue fest’s last chance to impress us Writer: Edgar Smith It’s four O’clock on Friday afternoon, the sun is out and Camden is rammed. For today and tomorrow it will be packed specifically with bands, music and alcohol fans to add to and amuse the tourists that endlessly paw through the Doc Martins, Kanye West shades and huge bags of innocuous herbal crap that NW1 has to offer. While the sheer volume of all this rubbish screaming for your attention is as confusing and annoying as the guy who makes bird noises by the lock, what really gets people down about this place is the subculture dinosaurs who come here to die, but never do. You can burn it to the ground but the whole tragic party – getting progressively more sad and indulgent; its ideas long forgotten – will go on and on forever. This year’s Camden Crawl is the first to make full use of the refurbished Roundhouse, now the site of the ticket exchange and four semi-independent shows requiring separate wristbands – the cause of a lot of grumbling – sponsored by MTV. The steppedup ambition of the organisers plainly reflects itself in the line up which, far better than in previous years, strikes a good balance between heavily tipped new acts and crowd pleasing indie legends. First it’s off to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, set on a new, backing track-tastic direction towards the populist space between The Gossip and fourthalbum Kings of Leon. Karen O, known for putting on a good show, does her teen girl idol thing but is eclipsed by the
audience mauling new blood of Rachel Callaghan and Kasms’ show at Bullet Bar the next day. Slightly disappointed and mournfully humming ‘Maps’ on the way to The Big Pink, we catch Madness, who’ve pulled up in a Routemaster to play a set of classics. Mood vastly improved, we go see the Loud And Quiet cover stars before hopping over to the Black Cap for fellow London synth obsessives S.C.U.M who, with a thrillingly nocturnal punch, send the evening into the long dark grass of the leftfield. Selfish Cunt wrap-up Friday’s bill, tearing apart Koko with their best show in ages. Picking which headliner to see at this thing is always tricky and certain to be preceded by interminable queuing. In contention are uncompromising art-punks Wire, influential pop alchemists Echo and the Bunnymen and the selfproclaimed saviours of rock, prophets of the economic meltdown and walking bottlingopportunity The Enemy. The issue is decided for us when man of the people Tom Clarke failed to shake his hangover and was replaced by Idlewild. Bunnymen it is then. Ian McCulloch, sounding just like he does on record and with a meticulous band in tow, kicks off with ‘Lips Like Sugar’ and plays wall to wall crowdpleasers from ‘Crocodiles’, ‘Ocean Rain’, and ‘Porcupine’. After airing just one ace song from the forthcoming album (according to McCulloch it’s their best since ‘Ocean Rain’), ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ segues
into a cover of ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ and by ‘Killing Moon’ the crowd are whipped into huge anthemic spasms. Day two provides more in the way of new hopes, flops, tired old faces and polished antiquity in the form of kraut-cum-garage post-punks The Fall. Nothing quite sums up their live show like John Peel’s famous ‘Always different, always the same’ quip and as they riff and mumble through an electrifying fortyfive minutes, they sound utterly timeless. It’s the sound of defiance to change that Art Brut (sinking this year to a lowly 7:00pm slot) and Carl Barat (feebly bashing-out Libs covers at the afterparty) must envy. You don’t need to be a few years past your sell-by date to put on a bad show though and joining the ‘no’ pile were the portentous, melancholic Lion Club, and Little Boots – think Emma Bunton doing handbag electro-house. Worst of all was Charlie XcX who if you read Dazed you’ll know already for being a teenager (cool!), making her own clothes (no way!) and aeroplane-arming her way around stage to an iPod backbeat. Despite the odd miss, the night ends on a high with V.E.G.A.S Whores turning Koko into an echo chamber for their waterfall of white heat soundscapes, reminding everyone that just when festivals like this start to seem like they’re pumping fetishised pulp to sell cider and MTV, they can throw up something radical and unexpected. Something worth the fifty quid.
Tall and slim, this book looks like modern fiction at its most exciting, but this one-time guitarist in the Brain Jonestown Massacre has a long way to go before he makes it into the list of great junkie novelists of all time. I expected throat-cutting literature to match the hype but ‘Down And Out…’ reads more like a sixth former’s diary. A compulsive read, and as bleak as Bognor Regis in December, certainly, but you can’t help but feel that it’s style over content. Unlike the Burroughsesque figure he resembles with cover pose, his writing lacks linguistic gymnastics and beautiful chaos.
The England’s Dreaming Tapes By Jon Savage (Faber and Faber) The best punk stories come from the bands themselves --------------------Here we are presented with transcripts of the interviews that formed part of the research for Savage’s original epic telling of the punk story. Many of the key players are featured in the book’s 700 pages – Johnny Rotten tells of the Silver Jubilee Boat Party, how it was so crowded with people he didn’t know that The Slits had got left at the riverside, while Jordan, shop assistant at Sex (the shop where the Pistols formed), tells of her daily commute to Chelsea on the train from Eastbourne, fully bedecked in fetish regalia. A comprehensive examination of a fascinating cultural moment and as entertaining as you can imagine.
Remember from the offset... The vital Dos and Don’ts from the best new, completely independent festival of the year Photography: mike burnell and russ garrett
On September 5, just as you put your feet up at the end of the festival season, Offset will become a terrible 2yr old. Launched in 2008, the Hainault happening quickly shaped up to be the new wave party hit of the summer, pulling in a post-punk lineup that made Reading/Leeds question where along the line they sold their balls. In ’09, the corporate gatherings are likely to only grow greener, as The Horrors, The Slits and A Certain Ratio form the backbone of this year’s festival. It’s a perfect reason to hose down those winkle pickers for one last hurrah, and, as founder Kieran Delaney tells us, plenty of dos and don’t have already been learnt in Offset’s first 18 months on earth.
DON’T... try and book bands just because you think it’ll pull a crowd. Offset has always tried to offer a lineup that’s an alternative to the rest of the summer - there’s no point in trying to resemble Radio One’s playlist, or a bad take on the second stage at Reading – last summer was littered with festivals like this. Every single band that’s booked for Offset is done so for a reason, and we feel it ends up offering something unique, and passionate.
be prepared to lose the best part of your year working. Things go crazy for us around about May, which happens to be about the same time as the sun comes out and all our friends spend hours sitting in beer gardens. We tend to look transparent come August, but with a retreating beer belly.
embrace the Offset Diet (we’re thinking of marketing this one). Ensure your body is ready for the daily nutritive onslaught of fast food, crisps, high-sugar chocolate bars, and energy drinks for approximately the duration July-September. Despite these culinary delights that would make Jamie Oliver blanch, you will lose approximately 3 stone to achieve that oh-sotrendy ‘gaunt’ look.
expect anyone enquiring about lost property to claim contents from the Lost Property box at the end of each festival. This will ALWAYS consist of: one bankcard; two passports (one washed in washing machine); three mobile phones (one broken); 6 and a half bunches of door keys; one pith helmet; one fishing rod.
DO... ask for help, from wherever you can find it. When we first started running (one-day) festivals, we were, to be honest, pretty clueless. Although the music industry can be a nightmare, you’ll always find lovely people willing to offer advice and contacts.
DON’T... run a festival expecting to make money. Seriously. Yes, you’ll meet some cool people, yes you’ll get to see lots of bands for free, but unless you’re putting on Kings of Leon you’re unlikely to make much dosh.
DO... be prepared to get your hands dirty. Putting on a gig at a venue with a roof is a million miles apart from putting on a festival. Lugging around MASSIVE amps? Check. Kicking generators? Check. Finding a poo in a cup? Check.
DO... get a good team who are excited about doing what you’re doing and are prepared to give over their lives for a chunk of the summer. If they can still make you laugh at 3 in the morning when it feels like everything’s gone tits up, you’ve got the right team.
DO... hone your litter-picking skills for Year One.
DO... book a reliable litter-picking company for Year Two.
DON’T... be surprised if your flat transforms into a production office. Stacks of paper will become an artistic installation; the TV takes shape as an innovative filing cabinet with added lighting; the cat demanding breakfast/dinner becomes your only insight into what time of day it is. It’s all enormous fun though.
DO... know your vintage wines. Musicians who started playing in the ‘80s are just hitting that wine-appreciation age. Their riders do not neglect to address this passion.
DO... book the bands you would love to see if you had a minute to see them. You bought their first 7” when you were 15; you spent 3 months liaising with their agent to get them into the country; you picked up them up from Gatwick; you missed their set because a tour bus is lost on the M25. If you use your local WI to serve up teas and sandwiches to your crew, DON’T... put them next to the hardcore tent.
DO... always remember to thank your loyal team with a pint, a barbeque, and a bear hug.
Speak and The Spells S is of surf, sixies and sense of humour
Writer: Stuart stubbs Photographer: tim cochrane
“Hang on, that’s the S Club 7 ‘S’,” realises Joe, having spent 20 minutes atop the giant concrete letter. True enough, when you take a step back, that’s exactly what it is. And Speak & The Spells cut quite the tribute to Rachel Steven’s Sunny-D-quaffers in their stark white threads. The deceitful ‘S’ in question is in fact living a lie as it plays its part in spelling out ARSENAL on the pavement of the Emirates Stadium. And the band’s choice of matching clothes is equally as devious. “We love John’s Children,” says bassist Ben “but also, everyone in London is always wearing black, so we just wanted to go the complete opposite.” It’s not being west Londoners that Ben, Joe [guitars] and Alex [drums] are proud of, more the fact that they’re not from the opposite side of town. Despite what you might think when you hear their 60s-inspired surf punk, Speak & The Spells’ love/ loathe relationship with Shoreditch leans heaviest on the loathing. “All the venues are there,” explains Joe “so it’s quite difficult to play anywhere else. But no one young there is un-jaded, going to gigs and having a good time; now, everyone’s a critic, just standing there, judging you.” The “just standing there” particularly irks S&TS, so when they go to gigs themselves they’re inclined to lead from the front, which in turn results in further judgement. At a recent S.C.U.M. show at the 100 Club, the band arrived suitably dressed in their Clockwork Orange garb. Surrounded by black lace frills and eyeliner, Alex and Joe then proceeded to tumble around on the floor whilst being scorched by looks of distain. “We turned up there, dress in white, and everyone was like, ‘who are you, giant tampons?’” remembers Alex. “We were throwing ourselves about, listening to music we
didn’t really like and fucking up our clothes,” continues Joe. “I don’t know why we did it really, just to have a good time.” Alex: “A girl pinched me. ‘Can you calm down, I’m enjoying the band.’ They all got really arsy, because no one has fun.” Favouring record shopping over double games on a Wednesday is what ultimately spawned this noisy, clattering trio. Ben – a keen 60s enthusiast (as if his Brian Jones bob didn’t tell you that already) – had been playing bass for a year, listening to obscure psyche/surf bands. Joe was a punk, which made the two of them a rare breed in a school full of heavy metallers. “I used to nag Ben all the time about being in a band,” says Joe, away from the S Club ‘S’, now in a local greasy spoon cafe. “I was obsessed with the idea, so he was like, ‘well, start a band then.’” “I got a text saying ‘you play drums don’t you?” recalls Alex. “I didn’t really like anything until then, just shiny things. I’d met Ben in year 7 when a teacher pulled his hair. He could have sued for that!” Joe: “…and I met Ben when I stole a pen and tried to sell it to him for 40p.” Forty coins for a Parker suggests that this was all going on in the mid 80s, inspired by a doomed Grange Hill subplot. In actual fact, the band are still in their teens – Alex did after all receive a text to confirm that his services were required. The working title of ‘The Waves’ was scrapped for one that didn’t have a ‘The’ prefix (“I thought of it when I found a Speak & Spell in the country,” explains Ben), and as the three friends split for various colleges and sixth forms they vowed to practise whenever Ben wasn’t having his hair pulled by right wing professors and Joe wasn’t doing his Del Boy shtick. “We used to do recordings in my brothers bathroom,” says
Alex, whose dry wit lends itself perfectly to the role of drummer. “With the four track in the sink, Ben was sitting on the toilet and Joe was in the shower doing the vocals with a towel pinned around it, trying to get a natural reverb.” For eight hours at a time they’d bash their influences into a sound they could call their own, until they were ready to play live. Or until they were nearly ready. “It’s only recently that we’ve had proper songs,” explains Joe. “At first we’d just do what we did in rehearsals but onstage in front of people.” More and more, Speak & The Spells remind us of another group of outsiders who vented their frustration through creating excitable garage punk. Ironically, they’re the very band responsible for all of those black shirts in Shoreditch. Like The Horrors, S&TS are driven by the US psyche rock of The Sonics and the snarling punk of The Cramps; they too were so eager to get playing in front of people that they began doing so without any ‘proper songs’ (Faris and Co. famously only had a 10 minute set in the band’s early days, made up of half ideas and covers); and Ben, Joe and Alex also run a low-key basement club night, not called Junk, but Rick Ticks, where the emphasis is on the songs being DJ’d. “It’s in a really small basement, just near Tottenham Court Road,” says Joe. “It’s literally like a cellar, and we used to play there every second Saturday. We didn’t know anyone so we didn’t promote it or anything…” “When we started there it was just full of businessmen,” continues Ben “all middle-aged in their suits, because we’d do it on a Friday and they’d go there after work. They’d all be like, ‘oh I remember this song, it’s the Rolling Stones’. It’s too small for bands really so we
just get our friends to DJ, and people can come and go. It’s not a serious club night or anything, just somewhere to listen to our records.” With titles as brilliantly direct as ‘She’s Dead’ and ‘Born A Loser’, it’s no surprise that the songs written by a band prone to writhing around on the floors of toilet venues, just to avoid being considered ‘trendy’, aren’t all that serious either. “These two don’t even know the lyrics,” says Joe. “He mumbles,” defends a grinning Alex. Joe: “No, the new ones are pretty clear. The new song called ‘I Think Not’ is a little bit of a dig about the people dressed in black. It’s not very serious, just a little hit at the trendy followers. There’s no massive message.” ‘She’s Dead’ – a track in which Joe describes digging up his deceased girlfriend – meanwhile features a surf riff and shredding lead vocal that both marries the band’s two main influences (psyche and punk) and defends Ben’s claims that Speak & The Spells “aren’t just a garage band”. Californian label In The Red Records may be spearheading the garage rock rival with samey bands – The Strange Boys, The Oh Seas, Black Lips – but S&TS stand out from the crowd not only because they’re “giant tampons” sat on a massive letter. Their DIY sound is a little more monstrous than most, but infinitely more fun, and that’s something that’s missing from guitar music at the moment. The Horrors’ return has been brilliant, but trading ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ for ‘Sea Within A Sea’ has left a void. Music to move to – that doesn’t feature a synthesiser – is thin on the ground. We’re in need of bands like this to prove that there is a party like an S Club… oh, don’t pretend you didn’t see that coming!
Trailer Trash Tracys The bedroom door is open, and so too is the entrance to any stage this ethereal four now care to play Writer: Stuart Stubbs Photographer: Kelda Hole
“We try not to label ourselves. Whatever people say we are...okay”
Manteaser boob-tubes, Jack Skellington backpacks, Buffalo Boots and porkpie hats. Roybans, slow motion tourists, Proud Galleries and Suggs. There are plenty of shitters synonymous with Camden Town, but tonight we are treated to the typical north London vagrant of the piss-onthe-towpath-wash-hands-in-thecanal variety. It’s 10pm and Trailer Trash Tracys’ have just
finished suspending the Lock Tavern in a bubble of reverberating shoegaze. By the water’s edge of Camden Lock they’re being photographed for the very first time, while – what with it being after dark in NW1 – a hygienically challenged ligger turns the air blue, unsatisfied with the positioning of Susanne [vox], Jimmy [guitar], Adam [bass] and Dayo
[drums]. Sloshed and slurring he slumps just out of shot, professing to “know what I’m talking” until the polite four appease the moany Rankin by partaking in their second ever photo call, shot, naturally, on a Sony Ericsson mobile phone. Hands down, our pictures are better. Further along the path the band have time to reflect on their fifth gig. “It was alright,” says an unsure Jimmy. “I had a problem with my guitar, but O Children let me use one of theirs, which was very nice of them. Every gig sounds a bit different, I mean, tonight was very distorted…” “It’s because we’ve got a very ambitious sound, I think,” reasons Adam. “We’re having to work a lot on the tones and stuff, but it’s coming together. It relies on the soundmen being nice as well. When we have nice soundmen we all enjoy ourselves.” Susanne: “It was hard for us to know how we were going to get it sounding good live, because it was always a bedroom band.” … Jimmy’s bedroom to be exact. That’s where the guitarist and Susanne would write songs intended for an old band. But demos like the shimmering ‘Strangling Good Guys’ – TTT at their most soaring – soon became products of a side project, and quickly their main interest. “I hadn’t really written music before and I didn’t think I could do it,” says Susanne “but we just had to learn together, I guess.” Adam – a man so good with sound he’s produced the band’s debut single himself – joined on bass, while Victoria Smith of Ipso Facto initially helped out on drums. Now with Dayo thwacking the band’s electronic pads, Trailer Trash Tracys find themselves making dreamy, Cocteau Twins-esque pop designed for larger stages than those they play, and it’s starting to effect how the band are being perceived. “We get called drone rock,” says Adam “but I think that comes from playing in small venues and we have to turn the amps up too loud because the PA’s not big enough. Then it does sound droney, but it’s not intentional. I think James and Susanne have written some really nice pop songs while keeping the aesthetic right.” “Principally, we’re trying to write songs with melodies,” agrees Jimmy. “We let the thing breathe.”
Adam: “Our philosophy is to make every instrument sound big, and that for me sums up the music.” “And we want to keep it minimal,” adds Susanne. “They’re all quite simple songs really, but we try not to put labels on ourselves. Whatever people say we are… okay.” One term is pushing it though. As wide of the mark as ‘drone rock’ appears once you’ve heard just how euphoric Trailer Trash Tracys’ washy soundscapes are, ‘Lo Fi’ is something that may apply to the band’s early recordings (laid to tape by self-professed novice Jimmy), but not their music. The songs are simple and minimal, but sophistically crafted. ‘Candy Girl’ – a downbeat track pinned down by Adam’s lethargic, surfing bassline and Susanne’s emotional, breathy vocals – will be the band’s first single, released via the No Pain In Pop label. We meet at the end of a two-week studio session that’s seen the band attempt to recreate the melancholic strength of the song’s original demo recording, while “making it a bit more suitable to be played on the radio.” Because, sure, Trailer Trash Trashed are company so fine that they’ll pose for sozzled David Baileys covered in piss at 10pm, but they’re an ambitious crowd also. When they started, Jimmy and Susanne simply wanted to play one live gig (“That was my only goal,” nods the singer “even if I only played once”), but since the shows came to them (unprompted and shortly followed by a manager, a PR and now the music press), the posts have been hugely shifted. Jimmy’s after a great album, Susanne fancies an American tour, much to the grins of her band-mates who remind her that not long ago one live gig, anywhere, was enough. And as sure as the fact that you’ll be offered “coke, hash, skunk” next time you’re in Camden, Trailer Trash Tracys will live out whatever fantasies they desire. They’ve certainly got the songs for it, and now, with 5 very different sounding live shows under their belt, they’ve got the confidence too. “I personally think that we’re a global band,” says Jimmy. “I really think you could play our songs to anyone, anywhere and they stand for themselves. It’s not about a scene, it’s not about a time or location. I could play it to my grandma. I’ll strip down the distortion and she’ll like it.”
03 jookabox So impressive live that he can play to an audience of 20 and still wind up on this page Writer: Danny Canter
David “Moose” Adamson and I glance identical expressions at each other. Him behind a drum kit, sticks in hand, me on the other side of The Lexington, Angel, our faces silently tell the same story – no one else is coming. It’s Apprentice night and Sir Alan’s judgemental finger still needs to point at 9 more squabbling suits. Most of London are no doubt jeering at their TVs, goading the one with dodgy eyebrows to lay into the posh sod for being shit with his time management skills. The final show of this first UK tour is looking like an anti-climax of worldnot-exploding-on-the-strike-ofmidnight-1999 proportions. So Adamson (or “Moose”) reaches down and presses play on an iPod. An odd whirring begins to loop through the PA and the stocky musician starts to chant, duel drum with new ‘official’ band mate Patrick Okerson, sample bass riffs that he lays down in front of us, and lets out soul cries rarely heard from a white American. He tosses his drumsticks down, leaps from the stage, activates white lights on his sweatbands and strobes around the crowd of 20 like a bearded toddler impersonating a Catherine Wheel. It’s Yeasayer, Dan Deacon and Outkast in one; a performance so captivating in
the face of adversity that I decide instantly that I must speak to this man. Up until the beginning of ’09, Jookabox were Grampall Jookabox – named after the mispronunciation of ‘grampa jukebox’ by an infant Adamson – and they were one: Moose. A myspace blog announced the change of name: We don’t want to sound like an old man anymore. That is final! You can use the old name if you want, but if I hear you I’ll do a Springsteen knee slide into your private junk. “It used to be a one man band,” explains Moose, a further week into the ongoing Apprentice debacle “but recently Pat came along so it seemed like the right time to change the name, and I was kinda fed up with that word.” In conversation he purrs a relaxed Indianapolis drool, but onstage (and record) Moose is capable of wailing like Andre 3000. He assures that it’s not intentional but recent second album ‘Ropechain’ stands apart from its loopier sibling (2006’s ‘Scientific Cricket’) largely due to how much Moose has allowed his voice to be heard. Gone are the Deacon-esque, cartoon vocals on tracks like ‘We’re The Small Windows’, in are the hip hop
inspired rompers like ‘The Girl Ain’t Preggers’, a track in which Moose rejoices at his good news only to lament what could have been later; the product of an experimental musician who proudly states, “I listen to a lot of different things, just as long as it’s rich and sincere.” Or it’s voices of the dead. Moose is into keeping an ear out for those also. “We’d always heard about it growing up, that there was this abandoned asylum on the west side of town,” he says of the run down mental hospital he recorded part of the appropriately named ‘I’m Absolutely Freaked Out’ in. “So finally I went to check it out. I took my handheld recorder because I’d been watching Ghost hunting shows where they catch voices on recording devices, so I was trying to do that. It was a pretty weird place where they’d left behind files and furniture and needles.” Derek Acorah’d out, and without the faintest audible recording of Yvette Fielding shitting her pants, Moose traded the old nut house for the studio once more to finish ‘Ropechain’, which was fast becoming an experimental hip hop/soul/punk album that harboured, in many people’s eyes, a recurring theme of madness and paranoia. ‘Let’s
Go Mad Together’ suggests this is an astute observation, but Moose remains uncommitted. “I think there’s probably a theme,” he says “but I don’t know what it is though.” Four more dates and Moose and Patrick fly home to their old soul records, early punk albums and their beloved Richard Hell and Jonathan Richmond collections. Ghost hunts are waiting for them, but so too is a studio they intend to inhabit to record Moose’s third album, their first as Jookabox without the old man prefix. Patrick’s input – largely his tribal rhythms – will no doubt see Moose embrace another direction for his musical venture. He’s excited to include his new band mate’s ideas on record, and relieved to no longer be shouldering all of the creative responsibility, to such an extent that Patrick is just the beginning. “We’re going to add even more people,” he explains softy. “In June we’ll be practicing with the new members and working out how it’s going to work live. I envisage, onstage. I’m excited about letting some other people come up with the ideas to take the pressure off of me.” Now now, Moose, as project manager I feel that’s your job.
plug If you don’t want a spoiler, look away now... and find this clatter duo in your own good time Writer: Polly Rappaport Photographer: Simon leak
So, what do we know about Plug? We know they’re a band comprised of two girls; one of them plays drums, the other plays keyboard and bass. We also know their names are Georgie and Sian. We do not know, however, which one of them plays what. Furthermore, the few press blurbs one unearths after extensive Internet trawling shed little light on what sort of music Plug make. Some describe it as “quirky and amusing”; others brand the sound as “menacing and gloomy”. The majority settle for the now somewhat ambiguous category of Post-Punk. As far as comparisons to other artists are concerned, journalists have drawn parallels to the likes of Delta 5, Robots in Disguise, Joy Division, the Slits… “We get compared to The Slits a lot,” admits Sian, which is not a big surprise, but the girls admit that some other references are more than a little baffling. Of course they have influences – not that they are about to name drop – but they aren’t aiming for a specific result, and as such they say, “It’s a natural process and we know what we’d like to sound like and we know we’re not there yet but we’re not… trying… to sound like something.” The way Sian says “trying”
expresses itself like an unpleasant taste in her mouth. While the band are more or less comfortable with the minimalist Post-Punk pigeonhole they frequently find their music placed in, if you ask them, they’ll look you straight in the eye and tell you they think what they are playing are pop songs. That said, whether it be punk or pop, there is certainly an element of minimalism in Plug’s music and that ties in neatly with the band’s ethos. It’s no accident that it is so tough to find any substantial information about this duo; in reaction to an over-hyped music scene they have made a conscious choice to be less accessible – “It’s quite hard to Google us” – and the girls try to avoid being shoved in people’s faces. But haven’t they been touring a bit to promote their new single? “We’ve been playing more frequently”, says Georgie, cautiously. “But we wouldn’t say we’re promoting,” adds Sian. Speaking of singles, let’s talk about the artwork: the current vinyl, the Parlour Records released ‘B-Boy’, is branded with a picture of the Dalai Lama and the previous release bore the image of Nelson Mandela. “People think it’s a
series and everyone asks us who’s going to be on the next one but we don’t know,” says Sian. “Our friend designed the artwork and the pictures were his idea.” Soon to be recording single number three, folks are already trying to predict what face will be on the next release by Plug. Barack Obama is a popular guess, possibly based on a theory that the band are making some sort of political statement, which they absolutely insist is not the case. So if there’s no particular meaning behind the artwork on their records, does the choice of the name Plug come from anywhere? Erm… no, they say it comes from nowhere; it’s just a word. I suggest that it has quite a few literal meanings, one of them, deliciously ironic, being to promote, and it also has a handful of connotations, some of which are a bit… dirty. The girls glance at one another blankly, briefly bemused. “Like what? Butt plug?” offers Georgie. Well, yes, but you said it first, not me… “We did think about using Butt Plug as our DJ name.” Fantastic, someone book these ladies for a DJ set, please. Back to business, with two singles out and another in the
pipeline, one wonders if recording works differently than playing live - how two girls manage to play three instruments between them. Do they bring in a session musician for the studio or record the bass and keys separately? “It’s the same as playing live, I play the bass with my hands and the keyboard with my feet.” They go on to explain that the band started life as a three piece and when the number of music-playing appendages decreased, the options were to drop an instrument, sprout another pair of arms or utilise what limbs were available. It’s impressive to say the least, and quite unusual, though perhaps no less unusual than a band who actively avoid developing a fan base. Although that’s not entirely accurate: it’s not that Plug don’t want fans, it’s more a case of wanting to be sought out, to be discovered through word of mouth or to be tracked down after multiple online searches as opposed to subscribing to a scene and gaining interest based on something superficial. Georgie and Sian want people to focus on their music so what does it matter which one is on the drums and which one plays a keyboard with her toes?
Opting for boutique festivals over the majors is a no-brainer, but the smart money is on lazy hammocks, boating and, this year, Babylon & Eden Writer: Phil burt
For the past few years, boutique festivals have stayed on the peripheries of the summer months, but now, it seems, their time has come. And with all of us tiring of the huge number of new, corporateled festivals, doing their best to make ‘gigs in a field’ barely that, there is no better rebellion than turning to these smaller, intimate affairs that offer much more than getting a cold while trying to catch a glimpse of N-Dubz. Bestival (the daddy), Green Man (the hippy) and End of the Road (the indie folkster) all embrace the idea that small is beautiful with the main goal of the weekend simply being to have a good time. But no one shames the vapid V Fests like Secret Garden Party, as The Head Gardner explains. “The scenes that me and friends had come from, the actual music festivals or raves, they weren’t really our sort of thing.We felt they were good in some ways but lacking in others. [Secret Garden Party] is all about designing and throwing the best party for ourselves that we’d enjoy the most”. And it’s clearly working with the amount of ‘gardeners’ – the affectionate term handed out to ticket holders – having swelled by 6,000 over the four years it’s been running. Standing out and providing something different has always been the main aim of the Head Gardener and his
team, even going so far as to ditch the label ‘festival’. “We felt that everything was a festival and that the word had lost all meaning. And so rather than try and re-appropriate it, we just thought we’d call it a garden party,” he recalls. And it’s definitely a party that you’ll find at the need-to-know Cambridgeshire location, complete with human pyramids, cream teas, Shakespearian performances, a turnup-and-play stage and the odd spot of renegade pyrotechnics.The emphasis is on shaking off the weekly grind, having fun and trying everything. “Someone should ideally walk away having had the best time, met wonderful, new people but also having been inspired and sort of bounced back into life, you know, with a new vigour rather than feeling grey and run through the tumble dryer”. Like all good parties, there is a theme that changes each year and is open for interpretation. 2008’s ‘Come the Revolutions’, encouraged one gardener to don a grass skirt and march around the site with a propaganda style sign summoning people to party. He was joined by a replica Anakin Skywalker, complete with skinny red jeans, various people wearing nothing but mud, and a Jeremy Clarkson wet dream in a man who’d turned into a car. “We don’t want to be, ‘This year people should be dressing up like this…,’” explains the
Head Gardener “we just think it’s fun to give someone an idea to play around with and if they want to play with it, great, and if they want to turn up as a banana, then by all means…” This year the Garden will be magically transformed into Babylon and Eden, with a snake’s head for a main stage. But, as always, there’s much more on offer than a chance to wonder at people covered in fig leaves, as more emphasis is placed on the large lake, which provides a centrepiece for the festival. Here you can go for a dip - or a skinny-dip if that’s more your thing and have a ride on a variety of boats designed and made by the gardeners themselves – “We’ve got these art boats, which are basically from people that have come along with their own design of a jazzed-up, sculpted boat.We’ve got double decker buses, dragons and stuff like that.” But with all these sights, activities and impromptu one minute raves (they happen every hour), is there still room for the music? After her 2008 turn, Micachu felt that there wasn’t enough emphasis on the bands, a point the Head Gardener is more than happy to set right. “I’d say, compared to other festivals, we stand up on much more than it being just a line up,” he says “but I think our music programme is taken very seriously
and our past record of booking bands who one, two or three years later are massive is quite impressive for a festival our size.” He’s referring to artists such as Lily Allen, Regina Spektor and Hard-Fi as well as Does It Offend You Yeah? and Florence & the Machines who’ve appeared more recently. Like everything else associated with SGP, if a band makes you feel good, they’re in. “There are great bands who are tipped to be huge by all the punksters, but at the end of the day a band has still got to be something that touches you. There are bands I love, but they’re not what you want to see when out getting drunk in a field with your mates.You want a bit more fun and games.” Ticket sales have always been rumoured to be capped at 7,000, in a bid for SGP to be classed as a private party and therefore cut down the amount of police presence.The Head Gardener well and truly laughs this hearsay off – “God, I wish life was that simple but unfortunately that’s not true” – but is Secret Garden Party set to go the way of Latitude and Bestival, and grow bigger and bigger each year? “Last year, we sold out at 7,000,” discloses the event’s founder “but we had a lot of people who were in for free, almost the same again. It’s going to be closer to 10,000 tickets this year but, in actual fact, if you went
secret? there last year you won’t even notice the difference in size because there isn’t really a difference at all.We’ve just reassessed the balance of liggers to actual ticket holders.” He adds, “One thing we were also looking at doing is to launch a rocket out of the middle of the lake, but unfortunately, what with health and safety and the civil aviation authority... erm, it’s possible but you’d have to be about four fields away from the launch site.” Plans to join the space race, conceptual themes and questions over musical emphasis aside, what stays with you when your painted tiger’s face finally gets the axe for the Monday commute is just how uplifting and invigorating this particular summer weekend is. Free from the norunning-with-scissors-rules of the Carling Weekend, it somehow manages to make Glastonbury look like a turn in the US marines as you’re free to spend afternoons lazing in gratis hammocks, dancing on top of hay bales or learning how to hula hoop. It’s all there for the taking.The party doesn’t stop from the minute you trip up your first unearthed piano (there’s a lot of those scattered about for creative types to bash away at) to the moment you wave goodbye to the mud-wrestling arena. Just make sure you’re down by the great lake on the Saturday night.We’re not going to tell you why, some secrets shouldn’t be spoilt.
MS TRKRFT “Anyone who complains about what we do is a real, special breed of dickface”
Writer: Reef Younis
I’m sat on a Soho rooftop basking in a glorious sunshinespilled day, the clink of glasses and the satisfied patter of cutlery and conversation in the air. Across from me, Jesse F. Keeler and Al-P, better known as MSTRKRFT, are busy deliberating over the menu. “We should order everything in Spanish,” Jesse suggests. “Let’s see if the waiter gets it,” he says grinning, smiles spreading around the table. “Actually, the interview’s also going to be in Spanish.” I stop smiling. A brief interchange later and, infuriatingly, impressively, the waiter translates, to the letter, the cheeseburger order: with fries, no mayo and ketchup on the side. Having flown in from Dublin a few hours earlier, with the acrimonious pleasure of being dropped tourist-deep for a Bank Holiday photo shoot in Westminster, Jesse and Al are in relaxed, jovial moods. “We actually saw the most drunk girl we’ve ever seen, last night. She was in an alley and she asked us where the bathroom was and we pointed at the door, and she walked right into the wall next to the door and fell straight onto the floor and looked at us like we were assholes,” Jesse explains, incredulously. “She said that we were lying to her even though we were pointing at the door,” adds Al “and then instead of going into the door we were pointing at that was clearly open, she walked into the opposite wall which was a fully bricked wall in an alley.” With a relentless touring schedule ahead (they get no more
than a few consecutive days off the road), you could forgive them for bemoaning some of the tribulations of living in transit. And while it’s an outlook he understands, it’s also one Jesse vehemently opposes. “We can’t really tell when we’re off tour. Four days consecutively in your own apartment doesn’t really constitute not being on tour. It’s a lot better than being bored and working 9-5 and it’s great we have friends around the world who we can spend time with and party with people everywhere we go. Anyone who complains about what we do is a real, special breed of dickface,” he explains. “There’s no reason why anyone should complain because we have such a nice life. Travelling can be a pain but I used to heat shrink bottles of baby eye medication in a factory burning my fingers for $7 an hour, and a lot more shit worse than that. Nobody should complain.” Set to play a set at O2’s Matter in the early hours with the premise of “great selection, great mixing, tasteful stage presence, standard general obliteration, ADD mixing, no moments of karaoke, rubber boats or funny hats”, the conversation turns to the more serious issue of the cynical stateside reaction to the release of their second album, ‘Fist of God’. “It wasn’t our goal to alienate people but we realised that we would be alienating a part of our audience with the record,” explains Jesse. “Even when we put out ‘Bounce’ some people were like ‘This is rap!?’ Well, fuck! You’re not going to
like our album and we’re not going to get along. I grew up on rap and our goal was to make a really American record that was reflective of our influences and what was going on for us over there. That’s what we did. I think you can’t make any record hoping everyone will like it, so as long as we’re happy… I like listening to it so that’s as far as it goes for me. “The other upside to it is that 90% of our audience has exploded since and I think there’s a certain section of people,” he continues “often journalists, no offence, that are people who use music to define who they are. You know, like, ‘I’m into rap so I look like I’m into rap’. It’s fine. I did that for punk rock when I was a kid, I did it for rap, I did it for dance but we’re the wrong people to be fans of if that’s how you use music.” As so many bands/artists have found to their cost, the notoriously difficult second album represents a popular opinion minefield – stick to your guns and you run the risk of being branded lazy, reinvent the wheel and expect to be accused of abandoning what made you relevant in the first place. So perhaps it’s even more brave and brazen to ignore outside opinion altogether? “I think all records should be made regardless of critics or fans. Everyone’s trying to do something different right now and we were just ahead chronologically. I know Justice are producing rock records right now, real earnestly, and I don’t find that surprising but I know, even the remixes they’re doing, it’s different when you’ve been
around for as long as all of us have because we do different things the reviews are never always going to be awesome. “I think you always kinda know that with the second record, you know you’re not going to win with the critics but who remembers the critic’s names afterwards? I’m sure Mozart had critics but no one knows who the fuck they were now. I don’t think it’s prudent to pay attention to that.” MSTRKRFT will always have associations with the electro explosion of 2007/2008 when Digitalism, Simian Mobile Disco and Justice were ruling indie and commercial club dance floors alike but, adversely, it’s also this crossover appeal that’s driving MSTRKRFT forward. With ‘Fist of God’ heavy on urban, vocal collaborations, it’s left the glow-stick-wielding few redundantly looking for the abrasive electro of their debut. “[The album] was an experiment,” says Jesse “because we didn’t really do that before. We started this record two years ago and urban music has become an exercise in minimalism – who can get away with doing the least. You can only strip down to a drum machine for so long and at some point people want more. We figured we were going to do what we thought would happen. And it’s funny that, two years later, all the people from that world seem to know who we are. Boys Noize did four songs for the new Black Eyed Peas record and that’ll tell you a lot about where that world’s mind’s at. Urban music is about to become electro again, like it was in the 80s, and I guess we wanted to beat it there.”
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The Big Pink have no interest in making lo-fi guitar indie, theyâ€™re building a wall of sound tall enough to tower over their heroes Writer: Edgar Smith Photographer: Owen Richards www.loudandquiet.com
> Milo Cordell & Robbie furze bethnal green, london – 2009
Sorry to bang on about the new Horrors record for the second month in a row but 1. it’s really good and 2. it’s fast becoming a shorthand reference for the unfolding story of 2009: out once and for all with plug-inand-play guitars and inconsequential rambles about what happened in the pub last night; in with big, mythic themes, gliding riffs and soaring electronic sequences.The ambiguous gloomy, gaze-y tags aside, the current appetite is for challenging, danceable rock and roll. Milo Cordell [sat on the left] signed the Universal-dumped garage rockers to XL for that huge follow up, and if ‘Primary Colours’ is the zeitgeist’s flagship album, he and singer/guitarist Robbie Furze [the one on the right, obviously] are sure to be its pinups. Their past forays into the music industry – Milo founded Merok Records in 2006, Robbie played with Alec Empire, they both ran an industrial label called Hate Channel – make them a very well connected band and this has been linked, not altogether wrongly, with The Big Pink’s quick climb into the public’s conscious. Blogs have been ranting about them for ages and, after two singles (the latest for the consistently super 4AD), the mainstream media has started to follow suit.Talking about signing Faris and Co., Milo could be describing a trip, albeit an exciting one, to the supermarket – “I went to their second show at Brixton Windmill and I can remember not liking them,” he says. “Then I saw them again somewhere else and thought they were amazing. I knew them from out and about and realised from talking to them that they had so much more to offer and that it was going to be something really different.” Business seems to come second nature to them, but The Big Pink are a band in their own right, and this project has entirely taken over their schedule. “There’s no fucking rest for us,” says Milo. “We’re shooting the video for ‘Stop the World’ tomorrow, then we’re off to Europe for four shows. After the ICA we partied all night so we didn’t sleep on the Saturday, the Friday…” “We didn’t sleep ‘til last night,” Robbie chimes in, looking as though he’d sink through the floor if he closed his eyes for longer than a blink. As for Merok, Milo confesses, “I just can’t do it anymore, I mean, I do it from afar. I’ve got one guy who pretty much runs it all now, looks after everything.” Robbie: “We don’t have any time to do anything else, it’s just this.” In a Brick Lane bar, I’d been trying to get
them to talk about their blistering set at the Electric Ballroom on the first day of the Camden Crawl. Clearly the whole weekend has been something of a blur for them but for those of us in the audience who can remember, the gig was a great half hour that deserved more singing along and fewer media eyebrows. Intense Throbbing Gristlemeets-Psychocandy beatscapes held hands with a rush of noise, floating vocals and huge choruses, seamlessly sewn together and accompanied with smoke, acid-test strobes and lights.The consensus in the Loud And Quiet camp was that they needed a few more big tunes in the set (like the brilliant ‘Dominoes’), hopefully in time for the summer’s festival circuit, but they made up the deficit with a choreographic confidence – found elsewhere in their song structures and press shots – that comes in part from their music biz know-how. “Oh yeah, that was good.” A fragment of the night comes back to Milo. “It’s because we control it, if you don’t control it you lose the translation.This is what I learnt from having a record label, I learnt that music isn’t just music, it is about what you look like, it is about what shoes you wear, not as in you’ve got to be this brand, but it’s about how you’ve created yourself. It’s the same with the artwork, same with the photos. All the best bands keep an ear and an eye out for that kind of thing. Like the light show, we do it all ourselves on-stage with pedals. If we didn’t control it ourselves it would be some tosser making us look like a Christmas tree, know what I mean? Even if it’s like, ‘I want a spinning white thing, put it by the drum kit’, some guy gets a spinning white thing and puts it by the drum kit. It’s really easy.We do enjoy it when we see pictures of the show and we’ve got our lights and smoke and stuff, it looks good, it’s part of the whole thing. We’re creating every angle of what we’re trying to do and people notice it – like ‘hold on, they’ve got cool press shots.’ Everyone could have cool press shots if they just have a little bit of imagination or enough balls to be like, ‘I don’t want to do it like that, I want to do it like this.”’ It’s experience and artistic drive speaking, rather than cynicism, and as the conversation hops between their previous and current endeavours it’s obvious that the beliefs they now hold as a band have grown organically from their time spent playing a backstage role in the careers of other acts; acts such as Alec Empire, who Robbie remembers fondly: “I played with him for the ‘Intelligent Sacrifice’ tour, which went on for about 18
months.That was 2004 I think, then I did my own band on his label.We did a few one-off shows with him a couple of years ago. Panic DHH it was called. Industrial band, yeah.” The first signing of note for Milo – and indeed the beginning of Merok – was Klaxons. “I’d always wanted to do it and Robbie was away for quite a long time, we’d done our own label before that and I guess I just wanted to start a label. I saw Klaxons play and I was like okay they’re a brilliant band to kick it all off with.We all got on really well and ended up living together, doing all these really fun parties and throwing all these raves. Then we did a couple of releases, they got signed to Polydor and it just kind of carried on.”
Carrying on involved signing the likes of Rainbow Arabia,Teengirl Fantasy, and Salem.These ace, digital-hearted bands reflect Milo’s interest in electronic music and showing itself within other areas of The Big Pink’s sound is the collective influence of their previous industrial engagements. Also explicitly present are the channelled spirits of Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine.The two went together to see Kevin Shields’ reformed dream pop gods at the end of last summer. But seeing those Roundhouse shows wasn’t an experience as formative for them, and London bands in general, as you’d think. “That was only at the end of last year and we’ve been doing this for a lot longer than that,” argues Robbie “but I think what it probably did was get people, journalists, thinking about it and talking about it in some way. I don’t think The Horrors or us sound like MBV but what people are referencing might be Kevin Shields’ production, just that big guitar sound.” In this vein of thought, they discuss catching Sonic Youth at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and a rare London performance of Glenn Branca’s guitar orchestra on Southbank. “I went to see them, like a thousand guitars,” recalls Robbie. “Yeah a thousand, no a hundred I think. It was good but I thought they could’ve done better with the guitarists they’d picked.There were a lot of shit people playing guitar at that.” “They didn’t do a good casting session?” Milo suggests. “Yeah, there were a lot of geeky
“New York is like Ribena. Here is like it in a carton, in New York it’s in the bottle. Everything’s so concentrated” guitarists, like it didn’t feel… it didn’t look great. It sounded really cool and it was amazing to watch but it wasn’t like, ‘I was there and I saw…’ Lots of guys were looking at each other, going… [mimes spoddy guitarists]. It just wasn’t a lot of cool people playing guitar.What really inspired us when we first started making noise was, playing with Alec Empire, we used to do these improvised noise pieces at the end of the show and actually there was a thing that, because you were letting go of what you were playing (you were just making sounds with the effects you had), you kind of took on the ambience of the room and the reaction, so if it was a really aggressive show or an aggressive crowd the noise would be aggressive. It would organically affect the sound of the noise.” “Yeah,” says Milo, “it starts talking to you in the end, little voices. I definitely started hearing little voices at My Bloody Valentine. “It’s different from being constrained by any sort of chords, you let go of all that and just feel the moment, which is what we do. If you’re feeling sad that’ll sometimes come out in the noise but if you’re feeling mellow it’ll have this more spacey feel to it.You see it after a while, it’s amazing to watch.” The Big Pink have said before that feeling noise can only go so far and that they see what they are doing as a chance to push further with melody and structure, but noisy walls of sound remain a fundamental element of what they write and rumours are rife that a collaboration with Shields himself is on the cards. “I’d love to work with him,” says Milo “someone was trying to get him to do a remix for us but I don’t know, I think he’s a pretty difficult person to tie down.There are always talks because our agent used to manage Primal Scream – the one they fired when they got ripped off by their accountant – and then all the people that work there used to work at Creation Records. It’s really weird, we’ve dipped into this world: our tour manager used to go out with Lydia Lunch and was in a band that was signed to 4AD, and his wife sang backing vocals on ‘Just Like Honey’ and used to take heroin with The Birthday party.” “Yeah, we’ve kind of been thrown into this amazing world of English music,” laughs Robbie. That network continues to pass on influence to and participate in the band with legendary shoegaze producer Alan Moulder mixing their latest single, ‘Velvet’; without doubt the band’s best track to date. “That song really condenses a lot of our record collection in just over three minutes”
explains Milo. “It kind of dips into history and picks up on quite a lot of the music that we love, whether it’s soul music, industrial, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, Kevin Shields’ Wall of Sound and kind of Hip Hop in a way as well I think.” These ears were and continue to be eluded by that particular genre’s presence in the track but The Big Pink know their stuff, name-checking Eastside pioneers Chubb Rock, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth as well as Glaswegian 8 bit Hip-Hopper Hudson Mohawke, and have proved themselves more than capable of fusing disparate musical sources. “When we started we wanted to be a digital Velvet Underground,” explains Milo “That’s all we wanted to be.The same way they use violins or whatever and treat them really weirdly, we wanted to do with synths and create our own thing.Then we grew out of that.That was our first, whatever you call that word…” Robbie: “Stepping Stone.” Milo: “But we were talking about the best year ever for music the other day” Robbie: “Yeah late 91, early 92.” Milo: “Well late 91 to June 92.” Robbie: “Those three years. 89 to 92. You’ve got Pretty Hate Machine, what else were we saying?” Milo: “‘Nevermind’.” Robbie: “‘Nevermind’. Got ‘Bleach’ as well.” Milo: “And ‘92 was the best year for Hip Hop, when they started using soul samples.” Robbie: “When was ‘Straight Outta Compton’?’ The interview winds its way through their extensive record collections (Milo’s on two thousand and counting), photographers, Kasabian, their dogs, and settles on the band’s debut LP, which is completely written. After finishing their dates in Europe, they’re flying out to Brooklyn for a month to record it and are considering a permanent move. “We’re gonna do it ourselves,” says Milo “but in Electric Lady Studios, Jimi Hendrix’s old studio. Richard Costey’s gonna mix it, he’s a big fan.We’ve written all the songs for it but there’ll definitely be some that we haven’t played live before, at least a quarter of it.Then we’ve got a couple of really slow, not ballads but kind of slow jams, which will go on there.We’ve got a song on our Myspace called ‘A Brief History of Love’, that’ll probably go on it.” So, why New York? “It’s ‘cause it’s like… it’s kind of like Ribena or something.” Milo ventures forth, clutching the metaphor. “Compared to here, which is like Ribena in a carton, New York is
Ribena in the bottle, everything there’s so concentrated.” “You know, in ‘The Last Waltz’ by The Band,” says Robbie, “they ask ‘what is it about New York?’, and they say it’s an adult dose. It can kick your ass and you come back and heal your wounds and it kicks your arse again and you eventually fall in love with it. The speed of it is so intense. I think that’s what we like about it, that’s what I like about it. Manhattan is the craziest bit, I actually haven’t spent much time in Brooklyn, which is where we’re gonna stay this time.We’re gonna have a place to stay that’s actually ours so we’ll be able to come back and chill out a bit. Before it was just staying on people’s floors and sofas and stuff, so you’re always kind of up. It’s quite hardcore there.”
not to slight London though, which they say has been instrumental to their creative process. “Where our studio is where we write, there’s definitely a speed to it,” ponders Milo. “We very rarely have any songs that we don’t want to use, they come very quickly and it’s an amazing feeling. There are no egos involved so we don’t argue about anything. Pretty much a whole song will get done in about two days.” “It’s just us two,” adds Robbie “Milo and me. It’s the combination of him and me in a room together and then it all just happens. Also, the whole record has pretty much been written whilst hung-over.” Milo: “After a party or something. After some kind of…” Robbie: “’Experience’…” Milo: “Whether it be psychedelic or romantic or whatever. I think maybe the reason people like our music is it’s not just the lyrics or the actual song which can evoke a feeling – like when someone writes a song because they’ve just fallen in love or something – it’s like that, but I think we can do that by manipulating noise, like creating a synth noise that can evoke that emotion too.” Which parties have made for the most creative hangovers? “The last ones we’ve been to are those Horrors club nights,The Cave,” says Milo. “I’m not all into that… what’s that place that everyone goes to in the west end? Uh… Bungalow 8.We don’t go to any of those kinds of places. I’ve only been there once, it was like £8 for a beer, that was my main fucking problem.” “And it’s Shit,” offers Robbie. “I don’t really understand why people go there.” “It’s not really our thing,” continues Milo. “I mean, I’ll happily go to those things but
that’s not where we really make ourselves regulars.We don’t really make ourselves regular anywhere.We’re irregular.We regularly go out to wherever.” Robbie: “There’s some reason to go to Bungalow 8, we just don’t know it yet.” Milo: “Ha! There’s some secret room where beers are only three quid.” Robbie: “We go to my house or his house. I say that but I know I’ve been out, I just can’t remember where. Just shows I guess.” Milo: “Yeah people usually end up at our house, maybe they go to Bungalow 8, get bored, then come back to our house.” As for their own shows, it’s impressive how well their quickly penned studio creations survive the transfer into live renditions. One thing to come out of the Camden Crawl was a nauseating over-familiarity with bands reliant on backing-tracks. It’s a habit that the drum machine-favouring Big Pink could’ve easily slipped into. “It’s a way of doing it,” says Robbie, “but it’s so rigid.You’re stuck to this very startstop thing and you can’t break out of it.We didn’t want to do that, we wanted to make sure it’s different every time we play. It’s never the same ‘cause Milo’s affecting the samples live, all my guitar stuff ’s always different. All the noisy stuff that you hear, that’s just me and Milo, it’s either guitar sounds or samples or beats.We do most of the work, the drums and bass kind of fit in with it. But we work with such great people that it’s really easy. Leo, who plays bass, didn’t know he was coming to do this last tour till three days before and we just sent him all the songs and he just listened to it on his iPod on the way here and by the time he got here on this 12 hour plane journey he knew how to play it. Same with Kiko, our drummer.” I tell the band how the last time I saw her she was in her role as singer for Pre, rolling around on the floor of Hoxton bar, extracting a tampon. “Sounds about right,” laughs Robbies. “Luckily she’s toned it down a bit for us, but we did let her drum in her bra the other night, which she hasn’t done before.” “They just spent more time looking at her than at my keyboard,” says Milo. Casually ironic about the limelight, it’s obvious that right now, these two are enjoying their moment. “Robbie’s the frontman, he sings,” says Milo “I know that and I know my position and he knows, but he’s not…” “…I haven’t got the ego runway yet, maybe someday.” Milo: “As for being stars or getting reps for anything other than what we do, we couldn’t give a shit about that.” www.loudandquiet.com
“They are always different, always the same” - John Peel Writer: tom pinnock Photographer: elinor jones The late, great broadcaster was talking about his favourite band The Fall, but it’s a claim that could easily be applied to New York’s – alright, planet Earth’s – finest purveyors of noise-rock. Since 1981, Sonic Youth have been shuttling between experimental noise and infectious indie-punk to various degrees, but they’ve never, ever repeated themselves - all the more impressive seeing as they’ve not made any major stylistic changes over their near-30-year career. There’s no synth-pop Sonic Youth album, no record where they team up with the New York Philharmonic for an orchestral version of ‘Kill Yr Idols aka I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick’. And thank god for that. Few bands get to make 15 albums, and fewer bands make 15 albums that are as good as Sonic Youth’s. They may not make another album that sums them up as well as ‘Daydream Nation’, but it’s no way their best – we reckon ‘Sister’, ‘Dirty’ and recent efforts ‘Murray Street’ and ‘Sonic Nurse’ are up there with ‘The Beatles’ and ‘White Light/White Heat’. New album ‘The Eternal’ is their first since leaving major label Geffen, their corporate home since 1990’s ‘Goo’, but it’s ironically one of their catchiest, most melodic efforts, albeit a lot more driving and distorted than 2006’s tamer ‘Rather Ripped’. The band – Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, and new member Mark Ibold – came to London last month to perform a sold-out show at the extra-small Scala venue, so we caught up with Kim and Thurston in the upstairs of a King’s Cross pub to chat about regional condiments, black metal, name changes and The Kooks.
Makeup and Hair:Therese Dombek at Terri Manduca
‘The Eternal’ is your first record on an indie label since ‘Daydream Nation’ , about 20 years ago... Kim Gordon: I guess so. That’s a little bit of an anniversary, isn’t it? I’ve seen interviews where you guys have claimed that Geffen didn’t really let you have free rein on your last few albums – is that true? K: Well, that’s not really true. We wanted to change our name to Washing Machine actually [in 1995], ‘cause we thought that would be interesting, and they were like, ‘No, no’. It’s just the overall feeling of now that we’re not on Geffen we realise that we had more of an exuberant sense of purpose with this record, that actually people were gonna work on it who liked music. The biggest change on this record is the vocal interplay, I think – how has it taken you since 1981 to experiment with that this much? Thurston Moore: We always wanted
to do it - we’ve done it before. We did it on ‘Kotton Krown’, which was on ‘Sister’, but not much. Lee and I tried blending our voices a little bit [live], but on this one it’s much more apparent. I think it’s something we always thought about doing but sort of ran out of time to really try it - usually we’re sort of satisfied with the single vocals. Are you playing mostly guitar on the record Kim? K: Yeah, all guitar. Mark [Ibold, ex-Pavement] plays bass on all of the songs. He’s a proper member now then? K: Yeah, I guess so. T: He wrote his bass parts. We brought him in [on] day one to see what he would do, and he immediately came up with really cool stuff. He seems to have a real good Krautrock vibe that he likes to employ. He doesn’t sound too different from you guys either – it’s not like he’s playing slap bass... K: Well, we wouldn’t allow that! He’s been in Pavement and now he’s in Sonic Youth – is he the luckiest bassist alive? T: Ha! To some demographic maybe. K: He was also in Free Kitten. T: And Dustdevils. He’s got quite a pedigree. K: He’s also a food dresser sometimes. For ads. He used to mix cocktails in New York - do you get him to mix you some on tour? T: No, he doesn’t. [We should] get him like a portable bar? K: Steve [Shelley]’s always trying to get him to put condiments on his amp. T: Like regional condiments. Mark’s one of these guys who gets up in the morning no matter what city we’re in and scouts out the entire region for what kind of great eateries are open at any given time, so by the time any of us wake up we all have these text messages like, ‘We’ll get coffee here, then we’ll go over here and get some breakfast, then we’ll go here for some bread, then there’s sausages over here’, he just scopes the entire region by dawn. Some people are into that. I prefer just going in the basement and just locking the door. Pulling the window shades down. Playing some Mayhem albums. [Kim pokes Thurston] I can’t think of another band that’s done 15 albums and resisted the urge to change instruments – there’s always a Tropicalia album, or K: We learn from others’ mistakes! T: We wouldn’t know how to do other genre music. K: We did the Ciccone Youth record. T: Yeah, that really made waves... Most of us don’t really know how to play anyway. It’s interesting reading about all the reference points on the new record – although that’s something you’ve done throughout your career.
< Left: Thurston Moore & Kim Gordon Below: Lee ranaldo, Mark ibold & steve shelley below: Moore at the scala, shot by david emery
sonic youth London Scala 27.04.2009
K: It just really depends, sometimes a book you’re reading... T: We’ll reference literature like that, there’s a song on here called ‘Leaky Lifeboat’, which we took from a line by [beat poet] Gregory Corso, we even give him credit in the song title. I always think it’s a good idea. K: I like to quote art historians – haha! TJ Clark, that was the inspiration for ‘Calming The Snake’, this book on Poussin [‘The Sight Of Death: An Experiment In Art Writing’], about two different paintings, one was called ‘The Calm’ or something, and one was called ‘Death By Snake’. It’s just so I can have something to talk about in interviews. I interviewed Graham Coxon the other week, and he was wondering if you guys had ever thought about making an acoustic record? K: It’d be interesting to do an acoustic record sometime. T: We thought about doing a piano record once. Tonight’s show is almost a secret gig it was announced so late on... T: Well, it’s not in Time Out. I was looking at Time Out, and I was like, ‘Wow, this isn’t even listed’! Are you playing ‘Pattern Recognition’ tonight? K: Unfortunately not... Guys, come on! K: I love playing that song. Mark hasn’t really learned how to play that yet. T: He’s not the only one, I have no idea how to play that. K: I think we only played it
once with him. T: Played what? K: ‘Pattern Recognition’. T: With Mark?! I don’t think we ever did. K: I think we did, we played it once with him. T: Wow, I don’t remember playing it ever since Jim [O’Rourke] left. So what are you guys listening to at the moment? T: Good question – Hush Arbors... K: The new Entrance demo, they’re great. T: The Kooks, you ever heard of The Kooks? You’re not listening to The Kooks, surely! K: Our daughter listens to them. T: Coco plays it in the car all the time - there’s a couple of jams that are pretty dope. K: They sound a little like The Strokes sometimes. T: But better. K: There’s a certain vocal style or texture or microphone or compressor that’s very Strokesish. It’s catchy. PR: They’re kind of private school, well-bred... T: Cool, I like private school, well-bred punk rock. K: Thurston’s been listening to a lot of black metal. T: I guess - does that count as music? That’s not really listening, that’s more kind of embracing the most unholy one. Investigating the depths of humanity’s despair. K: And Flight Of The Conchords – our daughter’s into that, we went to see them. Do you ever listen to your own albums? Which are you most proud
of? T: I never listen to them. K: I’d have to say the new one. But it’s also the freshest. T: Yeah. I’m almost proudest of ‘Confusion Is Sex’, ‘cause when we made that record I felt that was the record I always wanted to make. We were somewhat of an unknown entity, and then all of sudden we put this record out that had all these signifiers on it that I really wanted to display – the black and white cover, the energy on the cover from the live shot and Kim’s illustration, what was going on lyrically, what was going on sonically, the fact that the record ended with this constructed instrumental piece that Lee brought in that he’d done with two reel-to-reels, I thought it covered a lot of bases. We were blurring that distinction between punk rock hardcore bands and art bands, I really liked that. Everything after that [record] was just continuing exploration, I feel like we nailed it pretty quickly. K: ‘Washing Machine’, that was a great fun time recording it. T: I don’t even remember what those records sound like. Once in a while we have to go back and listen to stuff to learn it, it’s really odd. When we were playing ‘Daydream Nation’, we had to learn all the songs, and there was that song ‘Rain King’ – I remember putting the CD on and thinking, ‘I don’t have any recall of ever hearing this, let alone playing this. If I heard this on the radio, I’d be like, ‘Who are these guys?’’
SY’s 2001 show at All Tomorrow’s Parties is still infamous – the band opened their headlining set at the ‘experimental’ festival with a 20-minute improvised noise piece, ‘J’Accuse Ted Hughes’ (immortalised on the SYR7 release). Needless to say, the crowd, expecting ‘Teenage Riot’, ‘Kool Thing’ or ‘100%’, weren’t impressed. Tonight is kind of the polar opposite – ‘the Sonic Youth hits session’, if you like. We get ‘Kool Thing’ and fan favourite ‘Schizophrenia’, as well as a healthy dose of ‘Daydream Nation’ treats, like a ferocious ‘Hey Joni’, and a simmering ‘The Sprawl’. The Youth sold out the Roundhouse three nights running last time they were here, and it feels like something very special seeing them so close in the Scala. The new tracks sound even better live – ‘Sacred Trickster’ and ‘The Eternal’’s best track, the Lee Ranaldo-fronted ‘What We Know’, roar along with a triple guitar attack like ‘Bends’-era Radiohead covering The Stooges. ‘No Way’, probably the least interesting track on the album, is still a powerful moment in the first part of the set, while ‘Calming The Snake’, one of the spikiest new tunes, sees Kim snarling about, um, differing representations of death in art, of course. On another level, the spectral, melodic ‘Antenna’ is held aloft by Ranaldo’s whirling echo pedal feedback. For a band famously so in thrall to experimental noise, the set is light on any meanderings and heavy on their taut ‘supersongs’ (as Thurston would say). Sonic Youth were on fire - and even a bit of ‘J’Accuse Ted Hughes’ wouldn’t have been unwelcome.
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Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca (Domino) By Sam Walton. In stores June 8
With every passing musical generation, one particular artist manages to straddle the middle ground between the avant-garde and the popular more successfully than any other. In the 80s it was David Byrne’s Talking Heads that managed to unite instantly catchy hit singles with polyrhythmic experiments on the same LP. Then, in the 90s, Bjork broke free of the Sugarcubes’ indie-pop shackles to record oldtime show tunes alongside glitch-infused electro, and since the new century it’s been the turn of Radiohead to popularise the intellectual with a series of records that began with ‘Kid A’ and appears to have found its natural balance with ‘In Rainbows’. Now, as the noughties draw to a close and
Radiohead sell out more stadiums than Girls Aloud, Dirty Projectors’ central figure David Longstreth looks to be making a bid for the hallowed role of approachable intellectual with his latest offering, and he’s certainly on the right track.While little on ‘Bitte Orca’ will trouble national radio playlists, the album nonetheless represents a forward step for the band into popular territory, even if their back foot is still firmly planted in the art school. The popular/high-art tussle is evident on nearly every track here. ‘No Intention’, for example, is a Paul Simon classic right until the last minute, upon which 60 seconds of continually layered hi-life guitar serve to intrigue and alienate in equal measure. Similarly, ‘Two Doves’ has all the campfire qualities of Nico’s ‘These Days’, but is produced and arranged like a delicate, recently unearthed demo rather than the sheeny ballad it could be. The result shows off Longstreth’s populist
songwriting streak, and is the most beautiful thing on the whole record, but one gets the impression that the production is half-designed to protect the band’s artsy reputation. A seven-minute centrepiece, ‘Useful Chamber’, sees Longstreth yelp the album’s nonsensical title repeatedly over several different sections. It is also the album’s most joyous track, perhaps hinting at where the band feels most comfortable. Only the closing ‘Fluorescent Half Dome’ plays with a remotely straight bat: an elegant, almost traditional waltz, complete with strings and descending basslines, it is the most obvious nod towards the classic songwriter that Longstreth chooses not to be. ‘Bitte Orca’’s individuality and duality make it a massively compelling listen. In the same way that ‘Remain in Light’, ‘Post’ and ‘Kid A’ all were before it, this record is one that’s at once catchy but discordant, fidgety but still, and both fascinating and highly enjoyable for it.
God Help The Girl
The Gay Blades
God Help The Girl
(Rough Trade) By Chris Watkeys. In stores June 22
(Something In Construction) By Nathan Watkeys. In stores Jun 8
When I See The Sun it Always Shines on TV
(Virgin) By Reef Younis. In stores May 25 We’ve all seen Iggy bleat about how he’s selling time, gyrating and gesticulating like he’s being hit by a violent stroke, but, come on! French? Really?! Who the fuck let Serge Gainsbourg gatecrash? Still reeling from the acrid ‘Les Feuilles Mortes’, ‘Party Time’ slimes on like a Johnny Cash lounge act with a Flight of the Conchords backing, ‘A Machine For Loving’ let’s Iggy’s reverberating baritone, a la ‘Aisha’, seep into its lazy, acoustic beatpoetry - but can’t hide its inane rambling - and ‘King of the Dogs’ takes backstreet swing and contrives it to the point of tired parody. It’s an album on its last legs from the outset, limply struggling to its pitying end. And while it’s a little vindicating to see that a man of his age hasn’t got the genetic make up of the Duracell bunny, you can help but feel his time’s up.
Belle and Sebastian aficionados, queue here. God Help The Girl is the culmination of a longfermenting side project of B&S singer Stuart Murdoch, voiced mainly by Stuart’s vocal ‘discovery’ Catherine Ireton, and populated by an array of vaguely notable collaborators including Neil Hannon.The music is finely produced and retro-driven.Tinges of fifties doo-wop pop mingle pleasantly with Murdoch’s twee melodies, strings and piano abound, and the whole sound is as highly polished as balustrades in the Hilton. Yet amongst all this glossily produced loveliness, it’s notable that the standout track is actually a jazzily orchestrated version of the B&S gem ‘Funny Little Frog’. A pleasant indulgence, but not one likely to hold your attention for very long.
No frills duo The Gay Blades may be arriving on these shores with force after picking up high plaudits from our American counterparts, but this album does little to warrant such attention.Though their name reeks of danger and excitement, the New York two’s music is frustratingly safe; bouncing between sounding like a prepoliticised Green Day with a unhealthy country-leaning – and a less catchy, charisma free – whinier Jet. Matters are not helped by their fondness for whimpering emotionally stained vocals; the miserable etched faux crooning of ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ is enough to cheer those with even the happiest of dispositions into self-carvery. Listening to this has done little but convince us that The Gay Blades are America’s answer to The Fratelli’s.
(The End Records) By Polly Rappaport. In stores now There are cover albums and there are albums in which an artist disassembles their sound into its various influences and presents those influences individually, having been treated by the style that is the product of a combination of those pieces. If the latter makes any sense, this is of those. Being a key player in Nadja’s noise, it’s not surprising the My Bloody Valentine cover works arguably well – just sounds like MBV being attacked by an industrial strength Hoover at the bottom of the sea – but the other tracks sound the same: guitar fuzz cranked past the tolerance of the human ear and vocals distorted to a level of ambience appropriate to a room freshener. Nadja has basically regurgitated its guts. Loudly.With extra doom.
(679) By Danny Canter. In stores June 8 You probably think it’s Jay-Z. Or Timberland. Or Rhianna. But the truth is that nobody is more connected than Victoria Hesketh. She’s a player! The pressings of ‘Hands’ are still warm and yet she’s already shared Jools Holland with Al Green, been the belle of postBrits gossip columns and worked with Hot Chip, Diplo, Heartbreak and Simian MD. So why isn’t this debut record the pop masterpiece Little Boots intended it to be? Tunes are the simple reason.Tracks like the opening ‘New Town’ - the best pop record since Girls Aloud’s ‘Biology’ - and the previously white-labelled ‘Stuck On Repeat’ might be undeniably faultless but so was ‘That’s Not My Name’, and, like The Ting Tings, Hesketh sadly runs out of puff here, pairing her perfect pop moments next to just as many irrelevant ones.
Crocodiles Summer of Hate (Fat Possum) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores June 1
As petulant as naming your debut album ‘Summer of Hate’ appears, Californian duo Crocodiles aren’t as peevish as you’d think.Well, maybe they are, but if so their loathing is hidden in ways far cleverer than a man called Brian insisting on being called Marilyn ‘The God of Fuck’.There’s the upbeat industrial disco of ‘Refuse Angels’ that revisits Primal Scream’s ‘Evil Heat’ era, the sweet Jesus Mary Chain chimes of ‘I Wanna Kill’ (they’re just saying that for attention, y’know) and the Rapture-esque ‘Soft Skull (In My Room)’, all masking how much these friends of No Age detest their world. Or proving that ‘Summer of Hate’ is the high-school-ironic title it seems to be.Whatever.The drones, distorted vocals and best bits of the Velvets make the long wait for a US garage band to genuinely excite suddenly well worthwhile. www.loudandquiet.com
Al bums 07/10
Iron & Wine
Post War Years
Theives Like Us
Around The Well
The Greats and the Happening (Wealth)
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
By Laura Davies. In stores May 18
(1965) By Phil Dixon. In stores May 25
(V2) By Kate Parkin. In stores May 25
(Sea You Records) By Elizabeth Dodd. In stores Jun 12
This four piece from rock’n’roll Lemington Spa have been hovering just below the radar for the past 18 months, but that doesn’t mean their synth-led indie should be ruled out. The mathletic kids, who (probably) grew up on a combination of Talking Heads and Sonic Youth, sweep aside obvious Bloc Party comparisons and instead are more in tune with the equally under-rated Tom Vek. ‘Whole world on its head’ mixes Foals synths with Clor beats; ‘Death March’ updates Ocean Colour Scene’s trademark bluesy rock rhythms and ‘White Lies’ proves that experimental doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Ballad ‘Ghost Door’ has very few redeeming features, but ignore the blip as ‘The Greats and the Happenings’ shows Post War Years to be just that.
Selecta! De gal dem whine! And other phrases a white boy from the suburbs has no business using. But if anyone can bring dancehall to a wider audience, it’s Sheffield’s Toddla T. Never overstretching its roots, the dutty riddims permeate throughout, culminating in ‘Manabadman’ – the most overtly D’n’B/dancehall track, though also one of the most frenetic and exciting – while ‘Sound Tape Killin’ and ‘Road Trip’ bridge the gap to a more mainstream electro/ house club fare. In fact, aside from the ethereal ‘Rebel’, featuring Benjamin Zephaniah and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, it’s impossible not to move to the irresistible combination of tough basslines and cutting electro.Whether it’s headnodding or arse-wiggling, if you like your beats with a harder edge, Toddla’s your man.
Phoenix’s fourth album is a joyful affair, instantly leaping out of the speakers with a cheery grin plastered on its face. Best known for hit ‘Too Young’ that prompted Jack Black to bust a groove in Shallow Hal, the French trio’s songs are eminently danceable. ‘Lisztomania’ sees singer Thomas Mars stuttering himself into lyrical tangles over stomping drums – “I’ve been looking for something else, too late, too late”. ‘Fences’’s dreamy keyboards share an affinity with American pretenders to the electro-indie throne, Hockey and MGMT, and instrumental ‘Love is Like a Sunset Part 1’captures raw emotion in its sonic swell. In the three years since their last album Phoenix have travelled, searching for a new sound. Ultimately they ended up right back where they started and that’s no bad thing.
When did recording in Berlin become credential du jour again? Europe-straddling electro trio ‘Thieves Like Us’ – who formed at a picnic in the city – drizzle in their lot with the new-new-wave guard and, while the kidz pull shapes to BPM with a pulse, ‘Play Music’ poses on the fringe.There’s obvious tech ability behind the band, but it’s a shame it hasn’t manifest as something more visceral. At moments – on ‘Headlong Into The Night’ – dehumanised vocals meet hazy synth to gloriously dystopian effect, but as a whole the album sacrifices guts for gizmos. ‘Play Music’ is an accomplished piece of art but, like spending 45 minutes with a Rothko canvas, there are more satisfying ways to pass an hour than appreciating empty space.
(Sub Pop) By Danielle Goldstein. In stores Jun 1 The master of break up music, Sam Beam, is back with his languid and comforting tones to serve up an appetiser that’ll keep you satisfied until his fourth album is complete. ‘Around the Well’ is a collection of rarities that will soak up those tears better than your pillow, and prove once and for all that ‘b-side albums’ needn’t be so dreaded. ‘Dearest Forsaken’ opens the two-disc set with an echoing pluck of folk guitar and Beam’s hushed accents hovering lightly above it. Being one of the more up-tempo tracks it eases you into the poignant renditions of New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ and the Postal Service’s ‘Such Great Heights’. And by the time Beam’s soothing coos of “Please remember me happily” are drumming on your ears during ‘The Trapeze Swinger’, you’ll be well on your way to repair.
Black Moth Super Rainbow Eating Us (Memphis Industries) By Omarrr. In stores Jun 8
The accompanying press release reads: “’Eating Us’ promises to up the ante on the melodies Black Moth Super Rainbow have become known for.”Yeah, yeah, here we go. “As contagious as the common cold,” it continues. Pffft! Very clever. “It’s full deluxe version comes with 16 page art booklet,” does it? Whoopie, so does my kettle. “…and a hairy summer jewel case jacket.” *Spits juice* A hairy jewel case jacket? What kind of record comes with one of those? Unfortunately, one that needs a bit more spice in its life than it orginally lets on, that’s what! On the surface BMSR – sounding like a jab you’d have in your bottom when abbreviated – are an awesome prospect. Ridiculously named,
they’ve got band members called things like Tobacco (for he is basically the band), Seven Fields of Aphelion and Power Pill Fist; the adopted space-pop children of Flaming Lips, a proper weird Pennsylvanian family.Yet the reality is much more plain; a sort of decaffeinated fun-filtered mesh of Air, Secret Machines and Sigur Ros. A cool, remote sound but one that rarely deviates from the androgynous pattern established on 2007’s underground lauded LP ‘Dandelion Gum’. Production wise it’s the first time Tobacco has recorded outside of his kitchen, and it shows. Edges are sanded and curves are lacquered, leaving an other worldly, cold vibe.The human touch has gone on vacation during tracks like ‘Dark Bubbles’ and ‘Twin Of Myself ’. Consequently, it’s all very Planet Earth. Sweep-y, pneumatic, robo-soundscapes which more often than not fail to connect. Still, worth a purchase for the hairy jacket.
Kitsuné 7 (Kitsuné) By Danielle Goldstein. In stores Jun 1
The Mirror Explodes
Rubber & Meat
(Big Dada) By Phil Dixon. In stores Jun 1
(Tee Pee) By Laura Davies. In stores Jun 15
(Domino) By Tom Pinnock. In stores Jun 1
(Louisville) By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Jun 1
Speech’s debut album is undoubtedly a highly personal affair, sometimes uncomfortably so. The level of intimacy reached with ‘Speech Therapy’s’ stripped back production, through broken home tales like ‘Searching’ and ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’, or the adversitysurmounting ‘Finish This Album’, is heightened yet more by her fragile, juvenile-sounding voice, better to be enjoyed in private with headphones to feel it’s just the two of you in the room.Yet while it serves the radio-friendly summer pop of ‘Spinnin’ so well, that same voice fails to lend the gravitas or the certain acerbic edge to back up the harsher themes it evokes, and ultimately feels a little disingenuous because of it. A beautiful-sounding album it is, certainly, but lacking the bite and immediacy to round it off.
Exams are over and summer is fighting its way into existence, so it’s fitting that Kitsuné Maison should choose now to the release their feel-good compilation number seven. Two Door Cinema Club unleash proceedings with a pop-laden-samba track to get you shimmying in your flip flops before the record takes a rollercoaster spin through a hard Primal Scream-like chorus (We Have Band), dives into sluggish synth-snaps (Phoenix) and plops you somewhat fuzzy-eyed at LIFELIKE’s racked-out remix of La Roux’s haunting ‘In for the Kill’. James Yuill adds a rich contrast to the mix with his feline tones shortly before the ‘encore’ – a silence of 20 seconds - leaving you time to catch your breath before taking on the Balearic beats, steel drum rolls and all of Tanlines. Lucky 7 indeed.
After four previous efforts, the Warlocks appear to have left behind their emo hoodies for a more mature, fitted leather jacket. Trying to sound like Mary Chain, they land somewhere between a budget BRMC and/or Secret Machines, resulting in a surprisingly catchy record of dark, atmospheric anger that lets relentless guitar loops soar louder than lyrics. ‘Standing Between the Lovers of Hell’ is more likely to soundtrack Danny Boyle’s next 28 Months Later movie than change your life; ‘Frequency Meltdown’ often hints to, but doesn’t quite reach, the apocalyptic heights of Explosions in the Sky; and ‘Slowly Disappearing’ skates too close to Spiritalized’s latest offerings, which weren’t exciting even then. Layered, building riffs are great, but not forgiving enough here.
Cass McCombs, the oblique Californian who channelled The Velvets and Morrissey on the masterful ‘Dropping The Writ’ a year ago, is not a man to stand still. He’s gone country and done away with choruses on his follow-up, delivering his ever-more mesmeric lyrics over unchanging strummed acoustics. It’s a brave idea, but it doesn’t always work. Opener ‘Dreams-Come-True Girl’ goes nowhere in a clichéd doo-wop style, while ‘Harmonia’ features tasteless pedal steel and Tex-Mex soloing.Thank god, then, for ‘My Sister, My Spouse’, which boasts McCombs’ most beautiful melody, and ‘Lionkiller Got Married’, a slow, pounding beast complete with handclaps and eccentric backing vocals. Hopefully we can put the rest of this album down as an unfortunate one-off.
Electronica, created in Berlin, brings to mind all sorts of adjectives. Moody, intense, cold, regimented… we could go on. One that doesn’t usually come up however, is jaunty.Well, it does with Kissogram, a Berlin based trio who set out to combine floor fillers with poetic witticisms. Does it work? Well, not really. ‘Rubber & Meat’ sounds like the kind of record Fischerspooner would make if their management told them that their only chance of playing gigs this summer was to do a residency on the Morecambe seafront. It’s ragged, shonky and full of effort, but as far as packing out dancefloors, this album’s singles look set to join the likes of Agadoo – like ‘The Deserter, which sounds like Franz Ferdinand doing ‘The Monster Mash’ - as light relief, rather than floor fillers.
Au Revoir Simone Still Night, Still Light (Moshi Moshi) By Edgar Smith. In stores May 18
If the synths you’re hearing these days tend to either spin your eyeballs backwards in ecstasy or pound you senseless like they were Scotland Yard’s answer to Mercury Rev, this LP – the third and finest outing of New Yorkers Au Revoir Simone – will come as something of a relief. The all-girl trio, after two distinctly so-so albums, have taken a step up and nailed down an intricate and cathartic record of electronic baroque pop. In a welcome change from their earlier, more folksy material, it sees them crossing over into a patch of digital indie dug by the likes of Hot Chip and The Postal Service. Throughout, Roland keyboard sounds duck in and out of each other, like a sugary Clockwork
Orange soundtrack or that creepy Lloyds bank advert a few Oxycontins worse for wear, and are allowed to run on within deceptively hazy song structures.These fragile numbers are laced together with the band’s recognisably crystalline, harmonising vocals and are glossed over with a cool sense of anaesthetised tragedy. Far from being aloof though (a palpable danger, they are from Williamsburg after all), the album radiates a quiet emotional depth that’s felt particularly on lead single ‘Shadows’ (steer clear of Mark Brydon’s atrocious nine minute remix) and the bedroom disco of ‘Knight of Wands’. Lyrically, traditional relationship emoting runs alongside a dreamlike disregard for time and space that thankfully avoids reference to their environmentalist politics; a move that should save them a London’s Finest pounding when they come over to play Bush Hall, around the time you’re reading this. www.loudandquiet.com
Mo Kind Words
Electric Ballroom, Camden 05.05.2009 By Chris Watkeys Pics by Simon Leak
The Maccabees’ second album, ‘Wall of Arms’,’ has only been out for a day, yet two thirds of the crowd are singing along to every word.Whether the indie kids have been swatting up on Orlando Weeks’ new lyrics from a shonky, leaked copy of ‘Colour It In’s’ follow up for weeks, or been cramming, legally, over the past 24 hours, they’re out in force in the Electric Ballroom. Earlier on, main support act Mumford and Sons dazzled once more with a set that sits in a series of live dates which confirm their status as rising stars in the burgeoning folk scene. Never less than sublimely emotional, despite their supporting role tonight, the crowd seem to concur in their response. Frontman Marcus’ blistered vocals serrate the thick air while his band’s epic, adrenalised folk rock is a cathartic experience for both band and audience. If you’re of an emotional disposition, this band’s music, performed live, has the ability to touch the very depths of the soul.
Every cardigan’d kid’s favoured five-piece, The Maccabees, have a hard act to follow. But from the first jarring chords of opener ‘No Kind Words’, it’s clear who the crowd are really here to see. If Mumford and Sons are overtly emotional, then The Maccabees power lies in their taut constraint.They’re no less of a spike to the senses though – this is a visceral rather than an emotional experience. Laden with menace, the opener is an instant, pulsing shot of adrenalin to the cortex. Meanwhile, ‘X-Ray’ is a yelping, million-milesan-hour chase; its dumbly repeated vocal refrain crashing heavily on waves of squally guitar. General opinion on the new album has been that producer Markus Dravs has sprinkled the band with some of his magic Arcade Fire dust, but while on the recordings that’s very possibly true, in front of this kind of crowd it’s far too joyful an experience to compare.The thousand sweaty yoofs pogoing down the front feed the hallowed band/crowd/band cycle of
energy, and even a slightly ropey b-side sung badly by guitarist Felix White is greeted ecstatically.This is quite clearly an unswayable gathering. Yet amongst all this giddy mayhem, there’s a discernible mid-set lull. ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ still comes across like a second-rate version of Blur’s ‘Universal’, sung by Feargal Sharkey. And on closer analysis, Orlando and Co. leave themselves open to accusations of slightly formulaic songwriting – a sparse verse followed by a brakes-off, yelpy chorus.These fans couldn’t give a damn about that though.The chaotic optimism of ‘Precious Time’ induces more singalong euphoria, and set-closer ‘Love You Better’ goes down like a lottery win in an orphanage. Their live return proper has been a long ol’ wait, but more than ever The Maccabees prove to be a band to love unquestionably; to embrace, to possess and to obsess over. And if that means learning the words to all the new songs in one day, then so be it.
Beirut The Forum, Kentish Town 08.05.2009 By Charlotte Rumsey Pics by Ben Parks Zach Condon was born on the wrong continent.To have the soul of a European wanderer circa 1908, and yet have been born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, must be quite an ostracising experience. Good to see then that the precociously talented 22-year-old has so beautifully channelled his cultural misplacement in Beirut, the band that has been the sound of summer itself for two years running. Live for a one-off show at the Forum, Beirut somehow bring the sound and spirit of an old Long Island fairground to NW5. Playing tracks from ‘The Flying Cub Cup’, ‘Lon Gisland’ and ‘Gulag Orkestar’, with a few from latest EP ‘March of the Zapotech’,
they waltz effortlessly from each of Condon’s world music compositions to the next. While Zach may describe his moniker’s music as “acoustic pop”, tonight proves that it is much, much more.With a band consisting of tuba, trumpets, double bass and drums, Zach on ukulele and vocals – the only thing missing from this performance being Owen Pallett’s string arrangements – Beirut sit alongside Arcade Fire and Patrick Wolf in terms of pop music ingenuity. Add what can only be described as a perfect cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘La Javanaise’ to their already flawless live renditions of ‘Postcards from Italy’, ‘Elephant Gun’ and ‘Scenic World’, and you get one exciting, vivid and almost surprisingly fun live performance. It’s easy to presume them better suited to a Parisian dive, but tonight Beirut transform the corporate Forum into a world of their own. Beirut, je t’aime!
Ponihoax Cargo, Shoreditch 08.05.2009 By Tom Sillito ▼
Ponihoax are all at once tragic, ridiculous and musically, entirely derivative.They seem to be the spawn of cheesy French lighterotic pop and those hideous new rave bands that hopefully have disappeared forever. Each song could tonight be a single to delight any underage disco in the country; in fact a man in front of me had obviously heard their latest 7” and took it upon himself to announce his knowledge to his companion. However, due to the similarity of one Poni Hoax song to another, each is met with a squeal of recognition, followed by the inevitable “Oh, sorry, not this one”. The singer is a lecherous old balding man shouting his way through such lyrical experimentation as “you and me baby!”, while the rest of the band looking so similar to each other that one would be forgiven for thinking the frontman has kidnapped them due to his obsession for al things averagely indie. Poni Hoax are terrible and I loved it. Every one of these criticisms is clearly, if not intended, at least known by the band – the sheer fact that they are made up of this collection of boring clichés almost makes them charming. It’s nice to see people not trying at all and getting away with it. It’s all the fools dancing (like me) that are the idiots.
Mi Ami The Macbeth, Hoxton 05.05.2009 By Ian Roebuck ▼
Three men from San Francisco stand confidently upon the well worn stage of The Macbeth; they need a place to stay. “Before we start we’d like beds tonight,” pronounces ex Black Eyes guitarist - now Mi Ami front man Daniel Martin-McCormick, his poise striking a chord before even the band do.Within seconds they are
best buddies with Alfonso down the front and are crashing into ‘New Guitar’, the standout track from recent album ‘Watersports’. It’s a propulsive wallop to the chops and one that doesn’t let up throughout. Equal parts rhythmic grooves and out’n’out punk, the songs intertwine in a mesmerising fashion.They’re experts at build and release, and it’s a joy to watch, beats colliding in a mantric pattern as heads bounce and limbs twitch. It’s Daniel’s extraordinary voice that makes Mi Ami tick though, another instrument to their reverby, tension-filled soundscapes. He screeches and yelps in an exceptional manner, at first it’s alarming and many look uncomfortable but it’s a weapon of seduction that serves to inspire rather than denigrate. Any doubters have their socks charmed off between songs – “Come forward there’s room down the front, that’s right, Hero,” sooths Daniel nanoseconds before the pitch of his voice ascends and he screams full pelt in the Hero’s ear. A triumphant trip across the pond.
Joy-rides Ricky Ticks at Bloomsbury Lanes 08.05.2009 By Sam Little ▼
“Thanks for bowling and not watching us,” spits Joy-Rides’ frontman Joe at the silly-shoed people in Bloomsbury Lanes. “And thanks for watching us and not bowling,” he says as he turns back to the small congregation at his feet.With the mad eyes of a haunted painting, he then manages to simultaneously stare down everyone in front of him and, flanked by members called Bassy Gray and Scary J Bilge, fill the gaps between his band’s clattering punk songs – all of which seem to not have intentional endings but rather die naturally as different members decide to stop playing – with Mad Hatter wit and repeating his band’s name over and over. “Start playing in four seconds,” he commands his rabbit-masked drummer. “You can do the counting.” And they’re off again, smashing through songs www.loudandquiet.com
inspired by plug-in-and-play merchants The Others. So exciting is it for one onlooker that he throws his shirt on stage.The creepy and rather brilliant ‘Bishop of Southwark’ (which sounds like a good, lost Pete Doherty demo) aside, it’s all as silly as suggested by a bassist who looks like she’s in the Manson Family.Twenty of us, four of them, it could be our ‘Sex Pistols moment’. It’s probably not but either way it’s a lot of fun.
BLK JKS. Photography by ELINOR JONES
Lime headed dog The Monarch, Camden 06.05.2009 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Super Tennis. Photography by OWEN RICHARDS
HEALTH. Photography by Rebecca Smeyne
Lime Headed Dog is a pottier Michacu.With a cock.Which main man (and ex Good Shoe) Joel Cox wants to “staple to the roof of my mouth”. Or at least that’s what he shrieks over ‘Liverpudlian Cathedral’’s wonky steel drums. Pots and pans aside – struck by Cox’s female aid who also toys with the violin, flute and mandolin throughout tonight’s performance – this experimental three are tonight a two, missing their drummer. Cox has laid down his bass, stepped away from the melodious guitar pop of his old group and now finds himself stood behind a small sampler, manipulating the strangests of woozy sounds and trying his hand at singing. Not a smart move. At times – when a wandering glockenspiel seems to soundtrack a cartoon mouse tip-toeing around a larder – Lime Headed Dog are quite lovely, but it doesn’t last and we soon return to what opened tonight’s set – droning loops, instruments played out of tune, and Cox’s shrill, piercing voice, which is simply not up to the job. Programmed, tropical drum sequences momentarily turn The Monarch into a vibrant Notting Hill Carnival (that’ll be the tabletop steel drums), but largely the uncompromising, structure-less music of Lime Headed Dog makes us question why we bothered stepping in north London’s shittest boozer.
Super Tennis Puregroove, Farringdon 01.05.2009 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Playing a Friday evening instore when work has barely kicked out is tantamount to flogging a herd of Mexican pigs to Great Ormond Street – bloody hard work. London trio Super Tennis aren’t about to give anything less than their all though as Pure Groove fills with twee pop lovers. An ‘A’ (or Ace, ha!) is promptly awarded for effort, then, as the band begin yelping the single they’re here to launch, ‘Theme Song’. It’s a three-way harmony-yapping boast that welcomes the beginning of a long weekend – much like the first iced beers currently being supped – in a rather lovely way. Nice. But that seems to be where Super Tennis remain: slightly above boring, far beneath exciting, comfortably average. Sharing more than a few traits with kooky funsters Hot Club de Paris – y’know, there’s three of the them, they all sing, play a bit, ‘woo’, ‘waaa’, play a bit more – this is a band admittedly not quite as nauseating as the Liverpool three, but certainly one that could challenge for the annoyance crown if they dropped tracks like the barking ‘Billy Ocean’, which shakes us from our middle distance stare.The witty inter-song banter aside, Super Tennis are more the steady hand of a band seeded 20 than a Grand Slam champ.
65daysofstatic Lock 17, Camden 26.04.2009 By Holly Emblem ▼
In the year 6565 (ad infinitum)... Sorry, in the year 2009, on a choked Sunday night in Camden, 65daysofstatic, along with Tubelord and Amusement Parks on Fire, manage to disrupt the north London Lock’s power and bring darkness to this already rather seedy end of town. However, before skipping to the end… 65daysofstatic close their small tour (six UK dates in total) with an energetic, raucous and heavy
Dingwalls set, but from the very beginning, their fractured, ravefriendly noises are plagued by disruptions. Undeterred by a tenminute break due to a broken Mac lead, the band slay their way through a varied set list, including ‘Retreat! Retreat!’ and ‘Await Rescue’, and venture on and promised new songs to a ferocious crowd.They manage to offer a few minutes of the brand-new-frenzy that is ‘WK4’ before Camden is soon plunged in to darkness, presumably from 65days’ power to, well, ‘bring the mosh’. Credit to the drummer Rob Jones though, who manages to keep restless fans at bay for a few minutes by treating the crowd to a snare-splitting drum solo. Here’s hoping that when they return to London the National Grid is ready for them.
The xx ICA, London 23.04.2009 By Mandy Drake ▼
You no doubt heard the verdict the second is was made, zapped in via a Twitter-er – tonight,The xx are a drab disappointment. Forty minutes before The Big Pink end their very first UK tour, the ICA is the piping hot ticket of the week and iPhone owners are keen to brag of their whereabouts. “OMG,” they tap, “bored now, lurrrve The Big Pink though”. A crackling PA and the band’s crippling shyness only feed the murmurs, sure, but those with one eye on their wireless device, while the other scans the room for Fred from Ox. Eagle. Lion. Man., aren’t making the best of this dulcet set, and they’re missing out.Too stubborn and/or too bashful to play their crowd-pleasing ‘Teardrops’ cover, the four endearing figures on the front of the stage slowly cruise through a set of emotive, hushed pop. Does it drag like so many feel? Yes, in truth it does, but there’s plenty to get excited about too, like Romy’s gruff, velvet voice, James’ quick fingers that dance over his drum pads and ‘VCR’’s outstanding beauty. By the time ‘Crystalised’ airs, mumbles of “yeah,
Blackberry’s are shit” unfortunately all but drown out the band’s best song.When tonight’s headliners arrive the excitement will probably crash the Internet altogether, and some of the ICA might even watch a song or two.
Project: Komakino The Victoria, Mile End 22.04.2009 By Edgar Smith ▼
It’s hard to have a bad gig at The Victoria.The rock and roll gothic of the Mile End boozer, its décor and cult following, is so conducive to a good vibe that it’s a small wonder this band fair so badly. Sandwiched between sets from the intriguingly terrible carnival-core of Silvery and the intriguingly strange, Ex Models-ish Le Tetsuo, Project: Komakino squeezed out a wheezing excuse for a show that goes pretty much ignored. Most bands hate being told they sound so much like Joy Division that they might as well put down their instruments and do the Ian Curtis epilepsy dance all the fucking way home.This lot however, as you might have guessed from the name, seem to actually want the comparison. Sadly for them, any shared ground with Joy Division is entirely superficial and can be boiled down to their badly-fitting, omnipresent monochrome, little imitation Vox phantom special VI and the quasi-motorik basslines of their danceable, sometimes passable hi hat-happy post punk. In fact, on balance they sound not unlike Editors but, with a stage presence that mumbles “what am I doing here” and a total absence of tunes that means they’ll not be making the XFM playlists anytime soon.
Orphans & vandals White Heat at Madam Jo Jo’s 28.04.2009 By Polly Rappaport ▼
On the red velvet bowels of a halflit Soho night, a troupe of elegantly mismatched, multi-instrumental
misfits gather in front of a twinkling curtain of stars to celebrate an occasion which has waited in the wings far too long. This is the launch of Orphans & Vandals’ full-length debut album, ‘I Am Alive and You Are Dead’, and they are making the most of it by playing the album live in its entirety.The record is a startling anthology of wide-eyed journeys through sprawling cities, halflidded, semen-soaked musings, bittersweet lullabies, explicit, illicit rants and moments of smouldering, intense stillness that are never… quite… still. It truly is alive: it breathes. Comparisons to the Velvet Underground are inevitable, from the woozy drone of violin and viola to the stumbling stream of conscious narratives to the brazen lyrical honesty about sex, drugs and pointed dissent.Vocalist Al Joshua brings his words to life, whispering wearily, almost to himself, then barking into the blackness, glaring at the sea of faces staring back at a stage, singing with synergic energy.The members of the band never seem to take their eyes off each other and, like the music they play, become a breathing, living creature.
BLK JKS Bardens Boudoir, Dalston 06.05.2009 By Tom Stillito ▼
There is a tangible air of expectancy and excitement in Barden’s Boudiour when BLK JKS take the stage. Although the venue’s way off capacity, it seemed that the few of us present are fully aware of how good this could actually be. Listening to the band on Myspace gave me cause to squeal with delight at how bizarre and indefinable their music actually is; flitting between genre and tone and managing to inspire a real emotional reaction without resorting to lowest common denominator epic-ness.The word innovative immediately sprang to mind and I felt, as well as enjoying myself at the gig, the review would write itself, praise after praise after praise. However, there is a major
problem to the live version of these songs.The very qualities of the recorded songs – the genre-flitting, the quick changes in tone and style – translate only to the stage as untidiness.When recorded, the structure of the songs appears to be engagingly difficult and subtle, but live it turns into an unstructured mess.You can tell the more rehearsed songs and they translate well, but the newer songs, such as finisher ‘Summertime’, float around without really finishing. In the best moments BLK JKS sound as if they have truly found a new sound. But alas how quick and easy it is for innovation to turn into masturbation.The last twenty minutes of what should have been a fantastic show turn into a pretentious band practice.
health The Dome, Tufnell Park 15.04.2009 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
It was so much simpler when HEALTH were solid noise-core maniacs, producing experimental thrashes with zombie vocals that you can’t actually listen to but somehow can’t turn off either. Then the Californians released a remix album of their debut record, proceeded to draw inspiration from dance music in order to create new single ‘Die Slow’ – a metallic Liarsbashing disco track with an actual melody and everything – leaving us confused about what to expect and desire tonight.What we get is the band’s new and old sound, which in turn sound pretty identical. After the familiar voodoo drums of ‘Crimewave’ start – soon building into psycho killer, stabbing hardcore – ‘Die Slow’ sees bassist and noise manipulator John turn his back on us to snake his hips with all the elasticity of an extra horny Shakira.The track itself is a huge, thrusting party moment. Jupiter’s sweat drips onto his guitar, singer Jake gasps for air between breathy lyrics. And then HEALTH revert to the odd, abrasive punks tracks that made up their self-titled album, along with a couple of unidentified numbers
that have more in common with the precisely executed ‘Triceratops’ than the band’s latest foray into club-thumpers. No need for confusion here, HEALTH are still a mesmerising live concept, whatever genre they mutate..
...and you will know us from the trail of dead Heaven, London 23.04.2009 By Laura Davies ▼
...and you will know them as the messiahs of everything spinetinglingly perfect about rock ‘n’ roll. Sycophantic statement? No. Exaggeration? Not in the slightest. True? You bet your filthy sweat soaked dollar it is.The little Texan whippets confirm everything that is life changing about great rock bands. And a tour-ending finale at Camden’s Electric Ballroom proves it. Dipping into classics from 1999’s ‘Madonna’ and 2002’s ‘Source,Tags and Codes’, mixed with pretty much the entirety of the recent and outstanding ‘The Century of Self ’ equals one hell of an hour and a half.The forefathers of ‘Trail’ Conrad Keely, Jason Reece and Kevin Allen - are now joined by the bass-punching Jay Phillips, second drummer Aaron Ford and keyboardist Clay Morris. All equally excited to perform to the sold out Camden venue, the energy Allen doesn’t appear to show is made up for by Reece whose antics include sneaking into the pit before hugging revellers, unwittingly strangling groupies with mike cables and serenading the band between tracks. All in a night’s work for the causers of carnage. But even the dangerous glint in Reece’s eye is overshadowed by Conrad’s mischievous grin as he proves capable of holding the limelight on his own.This band has put past record label woes behind them and are here for the love of it bringing the house down with ‘Isis Unveiled’.The encore of near perfection (‘Totally Natural,’ ‘How near, how far,’ ‘Mistakes and Regrets’ and ‘Perfect Teenhood’) is
topped, if possible, by the final moment of the night, the first track on their first album, ‘Richter Scale Madness.’The now infamous stage-destroying finale never stops being important. Drums-flying, guitar-smashing, amp-breaking, just the way we like it. Apocalyptic, anthemic, gruelling masters of their rock trade... and we will know them by any god damn superlative they want.
casiotone for the painfull alone The Shakespeare, Sheffield 23.04.2009 By Kate Parkin ▼
It’s early in the evening and already people are hovering, anxiously craning their necks towards the stage. Jovial and full bearded Owen Ashworth aka Casiotone For The Painfully Alone shuffles into view and cranks the bass on ‘White Coralla’ to floorboard-vibrating volume. More bodies shuffle in and the sweat starts beading on the brows of the assembled throng. Treating the hecklers with casual indifference CFTPA responds to audience requests with a heartbreaking cover of ‘Graceland’. Bending keyboard sounds into gently shifting layers, ‘White On White’ shows a more fragile side. The line “In my dream last night I guess you seemed alright” are delivered in a slow Bruce Springsteen drawl, backed up by a masterful cover of ‘Streets of Philadelphia’. Joined by a full band, ‘Optimist vs Silent Alarm’ morphs like a reincarnation of Carter and Cash singing ‘Jackson’, with ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ tacked on as a joyful flourish.With the extra members onboard, ‘Harsh The Herald Angels Sing’ takes on a new depth as the drummer whacks the skins with evangelical brutality. Bringing out two albums in as many months is no mean feat, but with the DIY bedroom ethic still evident there is no room for corporate cynicism. Charming techno geeks and lowfi indie fans alike, CFTPA has a further reach into peoples’ hearts than Owen Ashworth realises. www.loudandquiet.com
by Dean driscoll
Star Trek vs wolverine: how to relaunch a franchise
Cinema Preview Hollywood rehashes a lot, but this month’s releases prove that there’ are welcomed new ideas out there also Originality is a rare commodity in cinema these days – yet for all its scarcity, it doesn’t appear to be overly cherished by some major studios.Take for example Obsessed (released May 22nd), which is basically a remake of a movie so well known that it has contributed its own phrase to the English language. It’s yet another film about a ‘bunny boiler’ that somehow manages to be even more misogynist than Fatal Attraction, despite being made over twenty years later. While Obsessed marks some social progress in having black actors - Idris Elba and Beyonce Knowles – in the traditionally-white lead roles as a happy couple tormented by Ali Larter’s ‘crazy bitch’, it still shows Hollywood has some way to go in its sexual politics. Here’s hoping this was just a necessary evil for The Wire’s Elba (aka Stringer Bell) to move onto bigger and more interesting projects. For all that you can level at Hollywood for its unoriginality, you do have to applaud it for nurturing a talent as individual as Charlie Kaufmann though.The writer of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind has made it his calling card to craft mainstream movies that teem with original ideas and imagination. After helping directors Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry make the transition from music video to movie making, Kaufmann now makes his own transition to direction with Synecdoche, New York (May 15th).The plot itself demands more explanation than space here allows, but in brief terms revolves around Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour
Hoffman) building a lifesize replica of his neighbourhood within a vast hangar in order to stage a Truman Show-esque play of his own life. Littered with multiple meanings and interpretations (try looking up the meanings of ‘synecdoche’ and ‘Cotard delusion’ yourself), it has premiered to fantastic reviews, highlighting Kaufmann’s ability to take a concept that held every danger of disappearing into self-indulgence, yet making it accessible and transcendent.With a fantastic cast that includes Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams and Samantha Morton, it seals Kaufmann’s place alongside David Lynch as a true visionary of modern US cinema. Visionary isn’t an adjective anybody would willingly use to describe the director of the Charlie’s Angels movies, but that hasn’t stopped McG from trying to realise the nightmarish vision of the future as hinted at in James Cameron’s original Terminator films (everybody seems to have - wisely - forgotten the third movie).The internet fanboys – them again – are a fickle crowd. Having screeched and wailed in protest at McG taking the reigns for the fourth - ahem, sorry third Terminator film, Terminator Salvation (June 3rd), he’s managed to win them over by convincing Christian Bale to take the role of John Connor, his persistent enthusiasm for the ‘canon’ and a successful drip feed of impressive footage. It might still take a name change for people to take him seriously, but it seems the excitement alone is enough to ensure McG will be back with a McSequel in 2011. This month’s cinema highlights: May 15th: Synecdoche, New York June 3rd: Terminator Salvation June 12th: The Hangover
As previewed last month, two huge fan-boy franchises were taken back to square one in recent weeks, with one being wildly more successful in its mission than the other. Following the tragic fumbling of X-Men:The Last Stand by director Brett Ratner, it wasn’t entirely clear if a reboot of the X-Men series was really what anyone needed. Following the success of Iron Man last year, Marvel have decided to approach moviemaking in much the same way as their comics, with superheroes cropping up in each other’s movies, setting up individual story strands for each to make up the Marvel universe.This has resulted in Samuel L Jackson cropping up as S.H.I.E.L.D leader Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man to set up a forthcoming Avengers movie; Robert Downey Jr popping in to say hi in The Incredible Hulk; and an array of new heroes including Gambit and Deadpool (played by Ryan Reynolds) turning up in Wolverine’s re-boot.Whilst this is all well and good, it matters little if the film isn’t much cop – happily for Marvel, the awful reviews haven’t hindered Logan’s march to box office success, with more to come when Thor, Deadpool and Magneto all get their own origin tales told in standalone movies. Poor reviews weren’t a problem for JJ Abrams however, as he showed how it really should be done with the all-new Star Trek movie, which showed how the crew came together – and, in a very neat move, also helped wipe the slate clean for Abrams to re-write Star Trek history without suffering a backlash from devoted ‘Trekkers’. Just as the fans have re-branded themselves to escape the nerdy ‘Trekkie’ tag, Abrams has managed to make Star Trek sexy, exciting and most importantly fun, with a story that manages a brilliant balancing act between witty nods to the old series’ favourite Trekisms and a newcomer-friendly accessibility.With sharp writing and a bill of young actors perfectly cast as the original Trek crews younger selves, it has taken Wolverine to school in the relaunch arts, showing that it takes more than a bunch of cameos from fan favourites to make a movie. JJ Abrams 1, Marvel 0
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Just bought me the lady a couple of tickets to V Festival, Rod.The lineup is killer. Athlete AND The Ting Tings are on
Did I ever tell you how I spent a year sleeping in a field after The Faces split?
Sometimes we forget that our zodiac symbols say a lot about us, but not you,Taurus. Being a strong bull is something to shout about, not like Cancer the crab, which is definitely the shittest sign, being called Cancer for a start, and being a naff old crab.This being your month, though, expect to be at odds with yourself.You’re feeling older than you look, wishing you could turn back time; wishing you could find a way. Sadly, you can’t, but take stock in the fact that behind all of our pristine pusses we’re decaying messes. It’s about time you start practising what you preach and believing in love after love. So dust off the fishnets and smile, it’s not like it’ll break your face... probably.
Celebrity twitter See! Famous people are normal, just like us
Oh yeah, Ronny Wood used to to feed you sugar lumps through a fence, didn’t he? ...Oomph, looks like my girls found the tickets I hid in her bra
FYI, Thorpe Park was brilliant! Didn’t need anyone to come with me in the end, so there! about 1 hours ago from device
Whatever, I didn’t like that one anyway. And I’ve got loads more. And I’ve got cars. And I did sex... loads... with girls! about 6 hours ago from device
Just queuing for Loggers Leap. Deciding whether to take off my trilby or not
What say we pitch a different kind of tent right now?
Phoarrr! You jammy git PW!
about 6 hours ago from device --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The height restrictions here are a joke! about 8 hours ago from device
Bonza! Just got in Thorpe Park as a child
The Big Pink / Sonic Youth / Trailer Trash Tracys / Speak & The Spells / Plug / Jookabox / Secret Garden Party / MSTRKRFT