LoudAndQuiet Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 08 / 100 percent typical
An exclusive interview with PUNK’s most innovative band
plus Bo Ningen Mazes Crocodiles Let’s Wrestle Young Athletes League Finally Punk Not Cool Deerhoof AND official 1234Shoreditch programme
The Slits wearing little more than mud for their debut album cover shoot Pic: Pennie Smith
In the beginning there was Pete Doherty. He’d gone awry and started one of the worst named bands in history. That was the start of Loud And Quiet; a black and white, home-printed fanzine with the ex-Libertine on the cover and a feature inside that gushed over Doherty’s old band and rubbished his new one. At 150 copies, we hoped but didn’t expect to progress to a point where bands we love would give us their time as willing as they have done; the thought that one day a band as important as The Slits would agree to us interviewing them was unthinkable. Ari Up, Tessa Pollitt and Viv Albertine – along with Palmolive – formed one of the most influential bands of the punk movement. At this year’s Offset festival, without Albertine, the band will prove just how many new bands have tried to emulate them in recent years. Here, all three key members discuss being pioneers and igniting the Riot Grrrl scene. In the beginning there was The Slits
Contents 08| 09 Photographer: Ray Stevenson With special thanks to Omnibus press
LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 08 / 100 PERCENT TYPICAL
AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PUNK’S MOST INNOVATIVE BAND
PLUS BO NINGEN MAZES CROCODILES LET’S WRESTLE YOUNG ATHLETES LEAGUE FINALLY PUNK NOT COOL DEERHOOF AND OFFICIAL 1234SHOREDITCH PROGRAMME
07 – Snatched / By / Frogs 08 – Twisted / Hog / Madonna 10 – Underground / There’s / Love 15 – Jesus / The / Racist 16 – New / Moan / Idol 20 – My / Single / Monster 23 – Pump / The / Air 25 – Quick / First / Time 28 – Jam / It / In 34 – God / Fists / Legend 37 – Club / To / Death 38 – Smooth / Bra / Missile 41 – Soggy / Drab / Bums 46 – Manky / 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, Dean Driscoll, Elizabeth Dodd Greg Cochrane, Kate Hutchinson, Mandy Drake, Owen Richards, Rebecca Innes, Reef Younis, Sam Little, Sam Walton, Simon Leak,Tim Cochrane This Month L&Q Loves
Jacqui Black, Jeff Jacquin, Nita Keeler 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 08| 09
dead pop stars Stuart Stubbs presents our two pence worth on Jackon and his suddenly spotless legacy There are certain questions that will be put to us all at some point. Amongst them, “Do you believe in God?”, “Are you going to eat that?”, “What time do you call this?” and “Double up for an extra pound?”. None though, are more baffling – and ultimately insulting – than the recurring Beatles conundrum, “Do you think Paul McCartney wishes he’d have died instead of John Lennon?” Everything reaches Macca’s pot-singed consciousness, so he no doubt knows that this pondering crops up whenever Lennon’s image pop up in day-today life. Parkinson certainly never did, but maybe someone has even run the idea past him. That wouldn’t be needed to get a definite answer now though, would it? “Do I wish I was dead?” McCartney would roar with a laugh to shake whichever of his mansions he was sitting in. “I’m the first ever billionaire pop star, a British institution and the most influential living musician of all time. I’ll take that over a bullet in the back, thank you very much.” As romantic as it is, the ‘leave a pretty corpse’ thing, that’s been banded about since James Dean went for one last drive, is as tired and absurd as
McCartney’s life surely illustrates. And while this has of course been voiced by many a sane mind before now, the recent, sudden death of Michael Jackson has reminded us of another obvious truth regarding pop icons dropping dead without warning – people aren’t mad at Macca for not dying because they never wanted to imagine him an old, weathered picture of mortality, but rather because while ‘the nice Beatle’ lives we can’t forgive ‘The Frog Chorus’, Wings and everything post-1970 in his musical career. At forty, Lennon’s lifeless body wouldn’t have been a looker, like Morrison’s or Cobain’s, but by being snatched from us by a crazed ‘fan’ we can write off his largely shoddy solo career (which spanned a decade, much like his Beatles one) and the fact that he beat his wife and abandoned a son. Michael Jackson’s death came as a huge shock, but it really shouldn’t have. The man who went from black to white at the price of immense surgical pain and discomfort hadn’t been looking even slightly healthy for as long as anyone can remember. His final undoing was a weak heart, putting him in the 25% of the world’s
population that die of dicky tickers every year – hardly the “foul play” that Jackson abusive dad would talk of in the media following his son’s death. But what has followed Jackson’s most definite dodge of honouring a million dates at the O2 Arena is the grandest display of selective memory from seemingly the whole world. Out went the staple Wacko jibe (I was beginning to think that was his actual name); back again was the ‘King of Pop’ mantle. “Say what you want about MJ,” goes the general consensus these day “but he was a legend of pop music.” Yes, he was. There’s no arguing that Michael Jackson changed popular music and pop culture forever. That’s safe. Whatever happens Jackson’s musical career will always have that undeniable truth. But c’mon, spare a thought for the elephant in the room – the great fucking big elephant with ‘Child Molesting’ written all over it! Lennon’s shit solo songs are one thing to sweep under the carpet but multiple charges of child abuse… a sudden, sad ending surely can’t cause us to forget that? But wait! While the dismal ‘Walls And Bridges’ (if you exclude ‘Whatever Gets You
Through The Night’) has Mr Yoko Ono banged to rights, MJ was never found guilty of the crimes he was accused of, which is of course a massive argument for the continual Jackson love-in. To his final day, by Californian State law, he was innocent. Did most of us really believe that though? I, for one, certainly wanted to. Manipulative kids with manipulative parents, taking advantage of an odd, eccentric and frail – but ultimately kind – man to make enough cash to retire on. But I can’t truly say that I was one hundred percent in Jackson’s corner when he was alive, so it feels wrong to be now. The way he’d tragically tottered around in face masks and your mad aunt’s blouses; the hushed, unsettling speaking voice; the climbing up trees halfway through TV interviews; they didn’t fill me with confidence, so like everyone else I considered ‘Wacko’ to not be an unfair nickname and him not to be a person incapable of unthinkable crimes. Dying, it seems, remains the best career move anyone can make to preserve their legacy… just don’t tell Macca.
By Janine and Lee Bullman
Sunnyside By Glen David Gold (Sceptre) Chaplin, an infant Hollywood and war on the horizon ---------------------
Above: The good , the bad or the plain dog ugly?
dance sucker There’s something to be said for remixes, and Reef ‘1s’n’2s’ Younis is saying it Whichever way you look at remix albums, reworks, dubs, jigs, tweaks and tighteners, it always sounds like something painful. Like violent games played in sports changing rooms or terms more at home in botched plastic surgery documentaries. It also insinuates that the original wasn’t all that in the first place; that it needed an extra, removed pair of ears and hands, and the kind of electro glitchery that Kieran Hebdon carries in his travel bag for that all important, generally unnecessary, second opinion. It’s interesting though, that as the last few years have seen DJs bridge the gap and increasingly cross over into indie/rock production, bands themselves are actively courting long player makeovers. Bloc Party’s ‘A Silent Alarm: Remixed’ stands out as a triumph, roping in heavyweights like M83, Erol Alkan, Mogwai and Phones to turn out a hugely successful alternative that sighed with all the heavy emotion of the original but was re-packaged with fresh voltage. Not that it’s always been a success, because for every warped slant of genius lies a mire of four-to-the-floor-riddled monstrosities that are fair game for anyone with a laptop and open source mixing software. Depending on your school of thought, ‘remix’ can be the dirtiest of words; the chewing gum stuck on the sole of your Converse, evoking nightmares of sweating, gurning faces and whistle symphonies, wrapped in the belief that art is as much
the story of the artist as it is the work; that the remix taints the purity and sincerity of the original, undermining the superlative ideal of wanting to believe that you’re doing it the best, first time round. Take Franz Ferdinand’s last album, ‘Tonight: Franz Ferdinand’ and its recent dubbed little brother ‘Blood’, for instance. Remixed by ‘Tonight...’ producer Dan Carey, ‘Blood’ was a victory for empathy and consideration. Obviously producing the original would make the process a little easier but more than just dropping a jacked BPM backing, Carey went the whole hog, giving each track a new moniker and twinning his own twisted creations with samples, splices and crucially, the character of the original tracks. Critically, it made ‘Blood’ a very different beast; an energised, amplified cut copy of one man’s unorthodox take on a perfectly acceptable guitar album. Was it an improvement on the original? Probably not. But that’s not always the point. Equally though, isn’t the premise of a remix just a direct appropriation of influences or the remoulding of someone else’s creative impulse in your own image? A good remix should never strictly be about improvement, it should merely provide an intriguing alternative. Few of us managed to escape La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ as it straddled daytime playlists but had it not been for Skream’s colossal remix doing all the legwork, it’s
arguable whether her mainstream star would have risen quite so rapidly. There’ll always be the sentiment that demands ‘just leave it alone’ but when bands have DJs, producers and contemporaries who understand the intricate sensibilities of guitar tracks, it would be criminal to not take advantage. Bloc Party dug themselves into a cataclysmic M83 hole; Fake Blood got Josh Homme and UNKLE increasingly ‘Restless’ and Erol Alkan got Late of the Pier all excited before bedtime. Factor in Soulwax, in all their Radio and 2ManyDJs guises, Mystery Jets’ island tinkerings and Paul Epworth’s various production turns for The Futureheads and Interpol - he even turned The Others into dancefloor dynamite and the list gets credibly longer. Even if you sway from the deckside, TV on the Radio honcho David Sitek’s midas touch is tentatively moving from sonic production values to equally seismic remixes, and that’s always a win/win. And with the new wave of DJs like Herve, Fake Blood, The Count and Sinden, Frankmusik and Drop the Lime (to name a few) clashing breaks, electro and drum and bass with indie dance and nu disco, remixes are often the familiar spark that fan the clubnight flames, bridging the gap between dance exclusivity and fandom singalongs. So the next time you hear anyone complain that a remix wasn’t as good as the original, remember: it was never trying to be.
Glen David Gold’s second novel opens with 1918 America experiencing inexplicable mass sightings of the most famous man in the world, Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin’s rags to riches (in rags) story is then weaved amongst over the next five hundred plus pages as a fledgling Hollywood finds its feet and Americans prepare to go to war. Gold’s writing is lush, his period research is spot on and his cast of characters every bit as glamorous, unpredictable and engaging as those who peopled his first novel, Carter Beats the Devil. Good stuff.
Manchester: Looking for the Light Through the Pouring Rain By Kevin Cummins (Pan Macmillan) Legendary Manchester bands shot by a legendary photographer --------------------So timeless are some of the portraits of musicians in Cummins’ book that his 25-year-old image of Ian Curtis, collar up, cigarette in mouth, recently made the cover of the NME. Cummins’ excellent collection includes those you would expect to see, from The Stone Roses to The Smiths, and a few you might not, like Madonna and David Bowie, street scenes and Morrissey fans of a certain age. As if that weren’t enough, accompanying the pictures are a series of four excellent chapters on the city provided by writers who know a thing or two about the locale Paul Morley, Stuart Maconie, Gavin Martin and John Harris.
The B-Word /
Some things are just money. I mean, you want a high end speaker system; you stump up the pennies for Bang and Olufsen. You want to feel like a high roller; you blow your wad in Vegas. You want musical intrigue, hypnotism and intoxication; you head across the pond to New York Writer: Reef Younis
Ok, so let’s not get confused: this isn’t a dewy-eyed celebration of all things NYC or cheap hype-mongering that demands every band from Bushwick to Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy to Bensonhurst, be picked up by excitable A&R., but a look at how this city, and more recently Brooklyn, a borough housing 2.5m people - a third of the population of London, incidentally - can be so consistently, musically prolific. As far back as I can remember the mere mention of New York aroused curiosity; it carried with it particular expectations and, critically, a seal of approval unrivalled by anywhere else. To hail from the Big Apple or any of its five boroughs is to immediately be hip; cool; worthy of our precious attention on the basis of some stellar predecessors. Undoubtedly there will always be the allure of adoption by the big city, instigating the mass migration of wide-eyed hopefuls debasing city street corners in search of making it. And while
any level of romanticism and fallacy is duly applied to any city’s musical heyday, New York has a few particularly well known sons and daughters. A city with an ill defined musical allure and pedigree, from the hippy debauchery of Velvet Underground, the tenacious punk rock of The Ramones, and the eclecticism of Talking Heads, you’ve still got an iconic, unmentioned rolodex no other city can boast. We’re talking Blondie, Iggy, Television; the list goes on. In a more modern sense, The Strokes changed the musical landscape back in 2003 – admittedly buoyed by stratospheric press buzz – with their appropriation of what it was to be from NYC, and while they’re deservedly considered the catalyst that woke a pretty stagnant commercial industry, the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, The National and TV on the Radio have, perhaps, all along been a fairer, if considerably less celebrated, representation of the city’s
incongruent cultural heartbeat. They say every band is a product of their environment, and by that logic New York is no longer strictly New York. Take the penthouse partying of LCD Soundsystem and mordant indie of Interpol, the punk-funk of The Rapture against TV on the Radio’s sonic bombast or The National’s composed orchestral anthems and consider the disparity. Think back to what we saw, heard and learned with the Leeds and Sheffield explosion a few years ago, the porkpietopped slurry The Libertines left behind and even the repercussions of the day-glo explosion still resonating around most of East London: one or two bands do not make a scene, and nor does a slew of copyists hi-jacking a formula for quick success. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen and scenes aren’t prevalent in New York, but when you consider Williamsburg natives, TVOTR, Cincinatti-comeBrooklynites, The National, and fellow borough-dwellers, the
David Longstreth-led Dirty Projectors, live in an area smaller than inner London, it’s hard to find a common thread other than location and that the same level of intrigue for Little Man Tate would ever be reserved stateside. But it’s more than just simple geography and zip codes; it’s about affinity and inspiration as we continue to get our kicks from across the Atlantic. And let’s face it; we’ve already been buckling under the next wave of New York, Brooklynblessed acts. While MGMT took gutter press plaudits, we were busy plugging Telepathe; as Grizzly Bear emerged to Guardian-guide acclaim, Amazing Baby reared their heads, Dirty Projectors dazzled and confounded in equal measure and !!! are on the cusp of a return. That’s not including the blissed out rock of adopted Bostoners, The Antlers or the Kip Malone driven, Iran. So is the grass always greener? Na. It just grows differently in New York’s concrete jungle.
On London stages, no one can touch the experimental psych of this quartet Writer: edgar smith Photographer: Gabriel green
“I guess at the time we were in bands that played kind of normal songs, normal music, and I think the way we started was to do something…” Taigen’s hands – usually wrapped around a bass or a microphone – dance communicatively on the table. “Radical” suggests Yuki. The guitarist’s face says ‘for want of a better word’ and it’s sad that it’s a long-time cliché reserved for semi-ironic, stoned mumble-talk because it sums Bo Ningen up nicely. People universally react to their live show like small children do to 3D films; a kind of incredulous wide-eyed awakening to something extreme and fundamental that the band manage to access, uproot, then throw around the room. Taigen, Yuki and Kohhei (also guitars), and Mon-chan (drums) are sitting on the roof of the Macbeth – where they play later tonight – remembering Bo Ningen in its embryonic stage. In last month’s issue we helpfully let you know that they sounded like the future, as imagined 50 years ago, that they were a kind of force for psychedelic good and that they were generally great. Seeing them again though served to highlight the fact that the printed word doesn’t really do them much justice. It’s impossible, or just pointlessly hard, to translate the kind of feeling their set conjures up, so here instead is all you need to know about Bo Ningen and what they have to say on everything from Japan to Micachu. Formed by Kohhei and frontman Taigen after they met at a Japanese music night three years ago, the project started as a means for all of its members to
experience something entirely untried. “When we started up,” says Taigen “we just wanted to do something experimental.” “It was more a pure noise deal,” says Yuki, “more, like, improvisational. We hadn’t got any musical structure or anything, we just started jamming for hours and hours and hours, all day long. We’d meet at like 11am and stay jamming till 10pm or something in umm, Hackney at…” “Premises Studio,” offers Taigen. “At the time I was in a different post-rock band that
headspace-transforming music is in part due to a healthy overconsumption of kraut-rock, Japanoise, hardcore punk and acid folk records but some of the idiosyncrasies that make them so special lie in a preexisting dialogue between rock’n’roll and Japan. Anyone interested in this particular area could do worse than reading Japrock Sampler by ex-Teardrop Explodes frontman and reluctant Great British eccentric Julian Cope. The four of them have not been in London more than five
“We define the word psychedelic, and we don’t need any drugs. That’s nothing to do with it” used that studio and there was free time so we could use it for free.” Over time, these epic twelve hour jam sessions were brought under some degree of control and they noticed the materialisation, according to Kohhei, of “certain musical forms, a kind of free part and a kind of structure part”, of which they “picked out very good parts” and began the task of what can, very loosely, be called songwriting. What emerged were intricately layered results, replete with riffs that Black Sabbath, The Stooges and The Minutemen could’ve all written, sunk into lengthy ambient beds, squalls of noise and twisted grooves. This talent for making
years and, before that, all grew up in Japan. “We all come from different parts of Japan,” says Yuki. “When I started playing guitar in High School, I was into Nirvana (quite late, I know, still), but in the area where I grew up there is a really weird music scene. The band Boredoms, from Osaka, were in the 80’s and early 90’s, and lots of young musicians follow them in their musical style.” That wave of unhinged, electronics-infused music that gave the world Masonna and Merzbow grew out of the cultural what-the-fuck that was 60’s Japan, which was populated by even more unhinged bands like Les Rallizes Denudés (a Bo Ningen favourite). By way of explanation, Taigen offers me a
summary of the dissertation he wrote for his Sound Art and Design degree: “We have traditional music but it’s not connected to the pop music scene. We don’t really have any roots so we misunderstand some music quite easily and then make something different, it becomes something really radical or different to music in other countries, I really like that kind of process.” “The thing is,” says Kohhei “rock and pop music, all this kind of music came from outside of Japan from bands in The West and this was before the internet in the 60’s and 70’s so Japan was kind of isolated and many people misunderstood.” The creative confluence of
East and West is the idea behind their Monthly club night, ‘Far East Psychedelic Electric’, with which, like all conscientious bands, they offer a platform to other musicians and give something back to the gig circuit. Though they’ve yet to get round to it they’re keen on the idea of collaboration and are talking to Brighton’s fantastic Drum! Eyes? with whom they and Damo Suzuki played with in March. A London promoter is looking at recreating that gig for August, which, if it happens, would be one to put in your diary with a permanent marker. The energy of their show later is enough to inspire gaping disbelief, ecstatic grins and an impossible stage dive
from one fan in a quarter-full and previously very sober Macbeth. Kohhei pummels the ceiling with his guitar and slides across the stage in a two-footed tackle aimed at Yuki, taking out pedals and bottles as he goes. The rocking-out is refreshingly sincere and the pairing of vicious technique with an unmatched aura of reckless abandonment is one of many things that make them such a thrill to watch. When asked about what this psychedelic heritage of onstage freak-outs and fried sonic voyaging means to them, they’re equally sincere. “Being psychedelic,” answers Mon-chan flatly. “We define the word psychedelic,” says Kohhei. “It’s
not just about, you know, 60’s and Kraut Rock, everything can be psychedelic.” “Recently though,” says Taigen “I saw so many lines for bands use the word psychedelic but then I didn’t really hear that psychedelic, especially in London.” “Yeah,” agrees Kohhei “they sound only like the history of psychedelic, you know?” “And we don’t need any drugs,” says Yuki. “I want to go to somewhere else, but I don’t want to rely on alcohol or drugs. It’s nothing to do with being psychedelic in my opinion”. What did they do with their psychedelic selves last night? Taigen: “We played Wilmington Arms, it was really cool, we
played with Micachu and she did an acoustic set. Actually, she was quite psychedelic”. “Yeah we haven’t seen her proper set with electronic things,” says Yuki “but still the acoustic set was really good.” “And she looks just like Lou Reed,” adds Kohhei. In the months ahead they have a release, sadly shaping up to be a digital download, with Stolen Recordings, but they admit that presently they don’t have the money or time to replicate what they can achieve live. Even with the correct resources it would be some feat as they are, almost definitely, the best live band in London. Go and see them as soon as possible, several times.
Not meth heads. Not facists. And definitely NOT The Jesus and Mary Chain Mk II Writer: STUART STUBBS
“Crystal meth, do you have that here?” inquires Crocodiles’ Brandon Welchez. On paper, those words – next to that image – suggest that this Cali duo are taking the Velvet Underground aesthetic and running all the way to Warhol’s loft with it. They’re not. Clever editing on our part has it that Brandon is sat at the Loud And Quiet drug bar, checking our junk list before settling for an old faithful tipple of smack, providing there’s no meth in the cellar, that is. This must be what cutting Big Brother feels like. In truth, the naturally mellow singer is explaining how his hometown of San Diego is so boring that it inspired him get out via 60 garage pysch (of the future), not the city’s thriving narcotics scene. “Where I grew up crystal meth was fucking huge,” he says “and I think that shows how boring a place is. I’m sure it’s the same in the UK, in the boring towns there’s nothing to do but take drugs, have sex and get into trouble. Growing up I was in rock bands because at 15 I knew coke-heads addicted to meth and shit, and I thought, ‘I don’t wanna go down this road’, so I’d just play music and skateboard, and shit like that. “San Diego is very spread out,” he continues “I didn’t grow up in the city, I grew up in the suburb, and the town I grew up in was quite… white trash, really. Erm, yeah, I hated growing up there. Maybe I hated adolescence in general but it just seemed like I was surrounded by racists and idiots, so as soon as I was 18 I left and moved to the city.” A military town between glitzy LA and hedonistic Tijuana, San Diego, it seems, isn’t as “classy” as Ron Burgundy had us believing. Brandon admits that on the surface it’s a beautiful place to live (“there’s the beach,” he nods) but there’s also a darker undercurrent there, like the sinister suburbia found in David
Lynch’s Blue Velvet. All localboys-Blink-182-running-nakedthrough-town it is not. Brandon first met his eventual fellow Crocodile, Charles Rowell, at various anti-fascist rallies in the area (yeah, they even need those on the west coast of the States). Charles too is the relaxed-without-theneed-of-chemicals type, his louche Cali tone an aural Xerox of his bandmate’s. Although ‘bandmate’ seems far too formal for the friendship these two have. “I said yes [to joining his band] because he was a great drummer as well as a great frontman,” reasons Charles of how two teens became musical partners “but anyway, we were playing in this band together and it became apparent that we were the leaders and the songwriters in the band. Slowly people would fall away or quit and, y’know, we’d keep forming bands together, and we’ve formed a really strong friendship – we’re like brothers who’ve toured the country and world together, been into a world of shit, and had some great times.” Becoming a two-piece was as natural as rallying against Nazis, so last year the pair decided to stop looking for bandmates with Spinal-Tapdrummer lifespans and began playing/recording as Crocodiles. June 1st saw the release of their debut album on Fat Possum Records, and ‘Summer of Hate’ has quickly become a blogconquering hit, because it’s quite brilliant. The sharpest cracks from any drum machine; the 60s-sounding reverb of their unmistakably American vocals; the droning, hazy walls of sound. It’s an album of a hundred moods, and a record that’s been made over the course of the band’s lifetime, reasoning why one minute you’re being jarred by Rapture-esque disco punk (‘Soft Skull (In My Room)’), the next being invited to stomp about like Oasis wish they could (‘Flash Of Light’) –
“We were just happy to get any of the songs out as a 7”,” says Brandon “so a lot of them were written as their own thing, as singles.” It’s not stopped many latching on to one track in particular though. Maybe it’s because it’s the first song proper on the album, or perhaps it’s simply due to its nihilistic pop sing-a-long chorus, but ‘I Wanna Kill’ is ‘Summer of Hate’’s attentionstealer, and has the band constantly being labelled ‘that band that sound just like The Jesus and Mary Chain’. Certainly one of the record’s highlights – for my money because of the continual girl group guitar chime – ‘I Wanna Kill’ doesn’t sound dissimilar to Mary Chain, no, but what we have here is a severe case of Oasis-being-compared-to-TheBeatles-itis. The world heard ‘Whatever’, slapped a ‘The New Fab Four’ sticker on Noel’s forehead and we’re still convinced today that the oom-pah farce that is ‘The Importance of Being Idle’ is just like something Lennon and McCartney would have penned. Fortunately, unlike the Gallaghers, Crocodiles can admit similarities without courting them. “We admit that that song has a Jesus and Mary Chain element to it,” says Brandon “but… we like that band but obviously we don’t want to be like them. A majority of people that think that have only heard that song, y’know? On the whole album there is nothing else that sounds like that song. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing influences on your sleeve once in a while, as long as you’re not basing your own career on being someone else.” And when this already tired comparison is delivered as a swipe, the band put it down to envy. “I think people don’t recognise that we’ve been playing music for 10 years,”
ponders Brandon “so I think the fact that we are able to do things and come here [to the UK], put out our music, there’s a bit of jealousy from other people who think we’ve not worked hard enough for that, so they want to slag us off.” But don’t listen to them (the haters, not the band). Shrugs and huffs miss dirty machinegun punk (‘Refuse Angels’), ‘Here Comes The Sky’, which sounds like Spiritualized and The Beach Boys swaying arm in arm, and the band’s proudest song – the closing 7-minute-er ‘Young Drugs’. “I’m really proud of ‘I Wanna Kill’,” explains Brandon “but it’s a little bit bitter sweet because of the criticism it’s caused. And I’m pretty proud of the last song because it’s so… patient, which is something neither of us… like a weakness of both of ours in the past was writing really A.D.D. type music, so to be able to make something that takes a long time to build was great.” Album closers often stretch to twice the length of all preceding tracks, and so do they suggest the direction the band are heading in. Musically, that hints that Crocodiles aim to slow down and take their time from now on, but the attention on them tells a different story, far more in line with their “A.D.D. type music”. After their current European tour they’re touring the States with The Horrors (at the request of the Southend band), then California with Graffiti Island and PENS before arriving back in the UK for… wait for it… the first ever Dirty Bingo Vs Loud And Quiethosted tour, in October. That we’ve been waiting for the right band to hit the road with for as long as we can remember is a testament to how highly we regard this duo. It’ll be a nice, clean tour mind, we’re completely out of crystal meth.
The 1-2-3-4 5 What not to miss at this year’s 1-2-3-4Shoreditch festival Writer: Stuart Stubbs and sam little Photographers: Kirsten Kay and Dean Chalkley
Glastonbury wasn’t all about The Boss embarrassing himself and holding the crowd to ransom for ‘Dancing In The Dark’, and similarly THE1-2-3-4SHORDITCH will be more than The Rakes’ continuing to brag about 22 grand jobs in the thick of a recession. Patrick Wolf will peacock through Shoreditch Park, painting it gold as he goes, while S.C.U.M simultaneously coat it black and Chrome Hoof dip east London in eccentric electro, with plenty more besides: most notably these five.
01. Factory Floor IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) has long been the most ludicrous of all music genres, forever stating its own brilliance, patronising all other electronic sounds as silly dunces that only put their hands up to say, “Miss, I’ve done a wee on my synthesiser”. Arrogant Dance Music is surely more apt. That was a favourite moan until Factory Floor rumbled out of Hackney with their ‘Planning Application’ EP – a 12” record of thumping bass lines, postpunk moans and yells, and various loops that nudged one foot of their experimental art rock into the IDM camp. On meeting Gabe (drums), Dominic (bass) and Nik (guitars and samples) in February we were relieved to find not three pretentious music snobs but a trio of friendly visual-lovers who talked of how their gloomy, industrial music is as inspired by old photographs as it is by the likes of The Fall (whom they resemble on tracks like ‘Post Is Here’). Next time we saw them they were halfway through a tour with The Horrors, which was “amazing”. “It’s shit being back in the real world,” they say. “The cities weren’t hostile and the audiences didn’t stand still. The Horrors are real good chaps and a real laugh. And Pru from Leeds, if you’re reading this, lose the chip on your shoulder and Gabe says we can make amends?” In their words, at THE1-2-34SHORDITCH, “expect the want to
dance to relentless arpeggiators and white noise.”
02. V.E.G.A.S Whores Please, no jokes about Brandon Flowers selling his arse outside Caesar’s. He’s a nice boy and V.E.G.A.S Whores are two Londoners whose instrumental dance music fuzzes like static crackling on an old TV screen, smashes at cymbals and occasionally coughs up 8-bit glitch. Live, the duo project surreal images behind them as the likes of ‘Prelude To Violence’ unfold into tracks by a mute Sonic Youth doing an uncanny impression of Suicide. In a daylit field, visuals, of course, cannot happen, so Sean Tewary and Simon Pomery are making their festival set special by completing some new material by July 26th. Looking at the bill around them, the band say: “The guys at 1-2-3-4 have done well, but our wish-list would read something like; Ciccone Youth (improbable seeing as Sonic Youth have never gigged this sublime side project), Alan Vega, Aphex Twin, Cabaret Voltaire, and HEALTH.” That’d be Whore-fest, but from 1-2-3-4 you can expect “some noise and some melody,” says Tewary. “A lot of aesthetic guitar feedback and crashing cymbals. Some surprises and some repetition, probably some blood and a lot of love.” Love from Whores! Just don’t kiss ‘em on the mouth. They don’t allow it anyway (err… apparently) but you never know what you might catch.
03. Advert Advert guitarist and sample controller Edgar says of THE1-23-4SHOREDITCH, “I think rather than being particularly stylish or whatever it’s being billed as in certain parts of the press, it’s actually just very cheap and very good. Everything is in one place, unlike those crawl kind of ‘festivals’, and it’s set up by really dedicated people. No other festival has
been brave enough to go for such a forthrightly contemporary line up.” It’s quite the endorsement coming from a man partresponsible for the white noise of this sonic trio. Relentlessly, Advert – completed by vocalist/guitarist Luke and bassist William – serve their distorted wall of sound as if some sort of weapon designed by the army. When they plug their drum machine in it simply pads and clacks like Neu! but the guitars constantly thrum and screech like Kevin Shields refusing to leave the stage at a My Bloody Valentine gig. “When we get the sound right, our live show is probably a lot better than anything we’ve put down on tape,” Edgar feels. “Quite a lot of it’s improvised, it’s quite loud and hopefully atmospheric.” The band’s tribute to Billy Idol is a version of ‘White Wedding’ that’s played at half speed and droned with equal sexiness and menace. All in all it wouldn’t have been out of place on Nadja’s recent covers album. Advert really are that intense.
04. **k 2 Star K may be an analogue nut but he signs his name like he’s built for the new technological age. We’ve got apps to download, faces to poke and tweets to retweet; we can’t be wasting our valuable time typing fully formed words. R WE RGHT OR WOT? iPhone friendly rarely means Google search friendly though (just ask 90’s naff rockers ‘A’), and finding Mark Wagner’s moniker can prove impossible. He’s at myspace.com/2stark, where his electronic shoegaze sloshes about, gently hypnotising (‘Fukno’), eerily spooking (‘Boulder’s Dash’) and aggressively stomping around (‘Giorgio Doesn’t Live Here’). Like V.E.G.A.S Whores, Wagner intends to bring new material to 1-2-3-4’s electronic stage, flagging ‘Holiday’ as something to watch out for – most likely a dark and clever wall of downbeat electro rather than a cheap soundtrack to neck jelly shots to in Lineker’s, Corfu. As well
as the new, **k – who was creatively born in Brooklyn warehouse spaces – aims to leave his mark by unleashing “LOUD analogue and psychedelic weirdness”. “The last festival I played I had a bit too much fun,” he says “I was puking and shaking before going on stage, but as soon the music filled the air I was fine.”
05. ULTERIOR You’d do well to offend Ulterior: 5 electro rock geezers, as androgynous as a newborn Motley Crue that are also willing to wear even their unfashionable influences on their leather sleeves. It all looks like hairspray posturing and stadium rock dress-up, but they don’t care – throw an insult in the shape of an un-credible name at them and it’ll bounce of their bombastic 80’s shell. Just look at their fantasy festival line-up: “There’s a load that would be in the running - Bowie, Manics, Mary Chain, Suede, Sisters of Mercy... But if we had to choose [a headliner] for this year we’d have to say Kasabian, so we could be in the front row with the Molotov cocktails, ready and waiting.” Yep, there’s certainly something in that power dressing, and even more in the music the band make – a drummachine-heavy INXS with the pomp of Bon Jovi and melodies of their beloved Sergio Pizzorno. “We haven’t been to a festival before,” say the band. “Getting pilled up in a tent ain’t our sort of thing, but from our set you’ll get leather, smoke, strobes, drum machines and a rescue flare.”
hey say we make our minds up about people in the first 10 seconds of meeting them; rarely do they change after this time has expired. Those casting eyes over the three members of Let’s Wrestle for the first time could easily jump to the wrong conclusions, pretty quickly. Made up of Mohawk-sporting, 90’s nu-punk-looking drummer Darkus Bishop, the grunge-lite looking singer and guitarist Wesley Patrick Gonzalez and the immaculately groomed, and equally charming, bassist Mike Lightning, Let’s Wrestle do not look, sound or act like your everyday run-of-the-mill band. Sat in the back of their tour van on a tiny Brighton street, talk turns to how they arrived at this point. There is some deliberation as to when they exactly formed, Mike offering a splintering, “We’ve said in so many interviews that it was 2006, but now suddenly everyone’s saying 2005”, only for Wesley to follow with a half sure, “That’s what it says on Wikipedia so I think we formed in 2005... I don’t know anything about us really, I had a brain haemorrhage a couple of years ago and now all I have is Wikipedia to rely on,” he jokes, half tired of being asked about Let’s Wrestle’s formation. It’s upped further by Mike continuing, “We had to make a Wikipedia site just for [Wesley], so he can go on it and it says your friends are…, this is where you live, you’ve got two dogs, that kind of stuff.” So you can probably already tell, this is a band unafraid to laugh at either themselves or at others. They probably have an over fondness of speaking their minds, which occasionally lands them in hot water. It was during their first ever tour alongside Bromheads Jacket in the final third of last year that things became a little uncomfortable. “They were bastards,” says Wesley “the only reason was boredom really – we were so bored of them and what they did, so we decided to muck about. We mucked about a bit too much really, Mike got arrested, we got kicked off the tour,” outlines the singer, who now realises that these actions have long-term consequences. “I didn’t realise it came across as more rock’n’roll than it was. Now I see on forums, Bromheads Jacket fans going, ‘Those c**ts who tried to be rock ‘n’ roll’. “When Mike got arrested it
was quite funny. He stole 288 beers from Sainsburys. That’s quite funny. I’d want to keep that person on the tour if something like that happened. I remember we waited outside a venue, having got there early, and waited and refused to sound check; waited for 8 hours outside this venue and just made the soundman really pissed off and keep on coming out” As he sums up Let’s Wrestle were “major brats”, Mike admits that if the tables were reversed he’d have been equally as unimpressed – “If we had a bratty little support band for the whole thing we’d kick off,” he says. “We’d say we don’t want to play with you.” Shortly after, travels on the road with Fucked Up were a little different and went “surprisingly well”. With Wesley explaining, “we even had a hardcore song on that tour, just to fit in, called ‘Our Drummer’s A Fucking Punk’. We’ve stopped playing it now, it wasn’t really a hardcore song, just a little bit faster and louder.” Earlier this year the band headed into the studio to start work on their debut album ‘In The Court of Wrestling, Lets’. Though its title takes inspiration from an old King Crimson record, the music found on it is the anthesis of everything prog stands for, recorded in less then 27 hours. “[We did the album] under a Ukulele shop,” discloses Wesley “the only Ukulele shop in Europe, FACT! The only shop dedicated to Ukuleles,” he exclaims. “They’ve got a couple of Banjo’s and a couple of acoustic guitars. They’ve got a piano but you can’t buy it. Whenever we had to record the piano we had to close the shop for half an hour and bring all the microphones and stuff up. The sound is more lush than the EP [‘In Loving Memory of…’], which took 3 days to record. And there were quite a few tracks that we hadn’t played before we went in – pretty good for 27 hours work.” “We only paid four hundred quid for the whole record,” Mike quips. But despite this the band had big ideas that needed to be realigned. They adamantly say: “This first record, no matter how lo-fi it sounds, we wanted to have an orchestra on it.” “We were talking for about two, maybe three months about putting horns on it,” remembers
Next stop, â€œbecoming the next Lily Allen, a melody monster, fucking huge!â€? Who said slackers lacked ambition?
> The Let’s wrestle tour boudoir
Wesley “but we don’t know any horn players really… the second album is going to be better though, it’s written and we’re going to start recording it pretty soon. “The main instrumentation is from Mike, who does most of the other stuff, so Mike pushes us to put synthesisers on it, ukuleles and I remember we did a song and there was a honky tonk piano. I hate all that boogie woogie shit but Mike pushed it and it sounds really good actually.” The props have come flooding in since ‘In The Court…’ was released last month. We gushed about its good humour and understated emotion in our previous issue, and many others have paid attention. “We’re proud of the record, but weren’t expecting that many positive things,” says Wesley. “It’s really weird to have that. I don’t want to say we are the only band fighting a cause, but there is so little going on which is doing music positively, it’s more generic and drab, it’s become a very grey thing indie music, so when you do something a little bit different it gets picked up on. “They’ve all been good reviews, but a lot are saying we are pretending to be bad musicians, but I think the musicianship on the record is good, of a high standard, we’re not pretending. All those punk bands that got big could play their instruments. It’s baloney when they say that they couldn’t. I could always play guitar and I think the second album will be a bit more selfindulgent. “The other thing I don’t get is how people are saying it’s so lo-fi when there’s stuff like Daniel Johnson and Lou Barlow recordings which are really
fucking lo-fi.” Mike: “The first thing you wouldn’t say about a Daniel Johnson record is about how lo-fi it was. We really tried and got some good catchy little riffs and some really nice melodies.” Though these are two of the hallmarks of indie music, the band don’t feel aligned with any such bracketing. “I don’t feel like we fit in,” says Wesley. “It’s a really hard question, when people ask ‘What kind of a band are you?’ I’ve just been saying a punk band, as I won’t say Indie band now.” “It means something else,”
meaning of the sense we make Indie music,” he justifies. “Indie in the eighties, punk in the seventies and we’re grunge in the nineties, but if you say we’re an Indie Punk Grunge band, it just looks like Razorlight mixed with Greenday, so it’s really fucking hard to describe” To put the heated tirade to an end, Wesley quips, “when we were at school it was ‘Grunger, grunger, you’re a fucking grunger’, so we’re a grunge band.” Like with any bands inspired by the original grunge/slacker movement, Let’s Wrestle have a
“I hate indie music, I just fucking hate it! Technically, Coldplay are an indie band” offers the quiet Darkus, regarding the ever-shifting meaning of the ‘indie’ tag. And with that his bandmates speed off on a passionate rant. “Technically, Coldplay are an indie band,” begins Wesley “and they sound like Pink Floyd. Like Radiohead; I really don’t like Radiohead, they sound like fucking prog music! That’s not fucking indie! I don’t like them, bloody hell, I don’t like them. “So we tried to come up with a few different names for us – one was Flaccid Jazz, one was Scuzz rock. There’s nothing, I’m not saying that we aren’t describable, but I don’t want to be put in a category. We were at this festival yesterday – Hop Farm – and I was looking round and was just like, ‘I hate Indie music, I just fucking hate it!’” Mike’s turn. “In the true
DIY ethic, even though Mike maintains that a lot of the time this was born out of necessity, purely as they “can’t afford to do it any other way”. There are no big backers trying to shove Let’s Wrestle into the spotlight as tomorrow’s next bright young thing, but despite the restraints, Wesley maintains that they do have high ambitions. “There is a time when we’d like to have lions on stage with us or something, we have a lot of ideas like that. We did a gold 7” for the single before the album and I remember going to the label and saying we wanted it in frames, like how you get gold discs. We wanted a hundred gold vinyl in frames that you couldn’t listen to unless you broke the glass and it coming with a little hammer. That was the original idea, it
was just an idea, we never thought they would go for it and they turned round and said they’ll do gold vinyl. As they’ve already said (sorry, ranted) though, it’s never one thing or the other with Let’s Wrestle. It’s all bling releases one minute, and confessions of self-management the next. “We’ve only just got a manager,” they say “we’d always done it ourselves, never had an agent. We’d always work out sleeping on floors and stuff. I find it more interesting to do that anyway. If you’re in the same hotel room in a Travelodge every night, I think you’ll find it a lot easier to get really fucking sick of each other as well. In a lot of ways being a DIY band is a lot more fun.” “Even if we got huge all of a sudden, I’d rather do something like this, sleep in a shitty van with beds built in as opposed to going to a hotel every night,” says Mike. “I watched The Fratellis at Hop Farm festival. They had a revolving guitar rack with loads of guitars in it, if we ever got to the stage where we could afford a guitar rack, we’ll just fill it with the same guitar ten times.” Wesley: “We’re trying to break through, we’re going to be the next Lily Allen, a melody monster. We’re going to go back to America quite soon, hit the euro scene, try and do another tour over here, set up a label, start doing the second album, do an EP before the second album, a lot of stuff … For the two years before this album came out, we were just stumbling along, not having any plans whatsoever. We had a meeting before this tour where we worked everything out that we’re going to do over the next year. It’s going to be fucking huge.”
From the ashes of Lost Penguin and The Violets, this trio surely have the wrong name Writer: Polly Pappaport Photographer: Phil Sharp
Noisy DIY alt. pop band Not Cool have only recently completed a tour of England, playing gigs in Bristol, Leeds and Manchester. Now they’re back in London, perched in a row along a bench. Matt (guitar) and Andrew (drums) are looking very serious, staring straight ahead, both fixing the middle distance with a firm stare, while Billy (bass) is mainly content to observe and smile. So… how was the tour, then? “It was nice just to get out and play,” says Andrew. “I definitely feels like we got a lot better as a band doing those gigs – just got tighter and the songs came together a lot more and our personal experiences on the tour helped us to sort of bond and get more of an idea of what the band is all about. And it was just fun as well.” Among other things, the band enjoyed being out of London for a bit, having frequented the venues of Shoreditch for the last few months. “It’s not a bad thing,” offers Matt. “There’s lots of venues but it just seems a bit… y’know, you’re playing in London but you’re not really, you’re playing in one corner of London. So, yeah, we really enjoyed getting to play outside that.” Andrew explains: “Outside London people seem much more open and receptive to new bands and new music, it’s not about all the trendy touch points that, if you do live in London, lots of people just seem to be into.” Speaking of touch points, Not Cool sometimes flirt with mathrock arpeggios but could quite easily be filed under the currently flourishing heading of Slacker Rock, which, the band admit, is hard to avoid getting involved with, however more assertive their fuzzy punk is compared to the louche DIY of contemporaries like Graffiti Island and Male Bonding – “We’re not ingrained yet and we don’t live in East London,” tells Matt. “We don’t hang out with the same people all the time… We’re our own entity, which we quite like.” From the far end of the bench, Billy pipes up: “I think it helps
“Our name felt like a really petulant thing to do. It’s teenage music for grown ups”
as well, going on tour with a band like An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump. They’re so different from us – playing with them provided a challenge and I think that helps.” AEOABITAP being an all-female punked-up, soul-infused minimalist rock trio, the two bands aren’t particularly close neighbours on the musical spectrum. “It was good and it was a challenge playing to their audience,” agrees Andrew, “Because they came to watch Experiment On A Bird and then we as the support band were just so completely different, it was a bit of a jaw-dropping experience for them but that’s really good – that little bit of tension at a gig when people don’t really know quite what to expect.” Surely though, when heading to see a band called ‘Not Cool’, you know exactly what to expect – a band with tongues so firmly in cheeks that they have trouble yelling their spiky lyrics, no? “I think we’re a good band and I’m really proud of the music we’re making but we’re not taking ourselves über seriously, that’s why we’re called Not Cool,” agrees Andrew, “It felt like a really petulant thing to do right from the start; to say, we’re not like every other band that we play with. I like to think Not Cool has a kind of childish underbelly.” “It’s teenage music for grown ups,” says Matt. Last month, Brighton’s Teen Sheikhs – also a trio, also peddlers of the DIY ethos – told us how they’d “never sign a record deal”, so what would Not Cool’s reaction be if approached by industry suits? “First thing would be to say, ‘can we have some drinks, please?’” says Matt as the other two chuckle in agreement. Andrew recalls the story of Oi! band Cock Sparrer who allegedly turned down a signing offer from Malcolm McLaren on the basis that he wouldn’t buy them a round of drinks – “If you want to sign Not Cool, buy us a nice meal and a round of drinks and we’re yours,”
he says with a sly grin. “Although it depends on which restaurant you take us to,” adds Matt, “I don’t eat McDonalds.” Not an outright ‘NO!’ then, but clearly bagging a record deal is not a major priority just yet. What is a priority is pushing on and getting as many people to hear their music as possible, and if that means putting something out off their own back, that’s what they’ll do. As Andrew puts it, “Too many bands just wait around for someone to dangle a fishhook in front of them and inevitably they just burn out and become really jaded and I think the way around that is to do everything yourself.” Although, DIY is its own scene, observes Matt, and a significant portion of that scene use the Do It Yourself moniker as a superficial selling point. Not Cool don’t view it as an aesthetic so much as an ambition. “It’s an inspiring way to do things,” says Andrew, referring to the book Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad, which covers the American underground indie scene of the 1980’s and early 90’s. “It’s still fresh and relevant now as it ever was.” The general consensus of the band is that they’d like to keep things as close to home and maintain as much of their own input as possible. They are, in fact, preparing to self-release a seven-inch though there is the issue of coming up with a label name. Something like A Bit Cool, perhaps? “Someone said we should change our name to Cool, I think that’d be quite good,” Andrew laughs, “just to say to people, we’ve played some gigs and they went alright so now we’ve decided we’re Cool.” Though all three agree that there’s something quite appealing about seeing gig posters with ‘Not Cool’ scrawled across them, the all-too-frequent introductions of ‘They’re called Not Cool but they actually are really cool’ are getting just a bit tiresome. It’s the price of the gag, and
besides, with Matt and Andrew being London buzz band veterans (the former having formed glitch nutters Lost Penguin, Andrew formerly of The Violets) the issue of hype and ‘cool’ is one they’re familiar with. No doubt lessons have been learnt by both members regarding how to deal with gushing blogs and Myspace comments, but their experiences have also brought on board a strong work ethic and an inherent understanding of what being in a band entails, knowing what to expect. With that comes both the confidence to go it alone for as long as necessary as well as the freedom to enjoy what they’re doing, feeding off each other’s energy and bringing that to their music. “It’s nice to start again and be able to listen to music with fresh ears,” says Andrew. “I feel like when we play, especially now, the more and more time goes on I really look forward to our gigs and feel really euphoric when we’re playing, and I think that rubs off on people who come to watch us play. You see the smiles on their faces and that’s really important – it’s important to have fun.” “Yeah, that’s cool,” agrees Matt. “…or, er, Not Cool.”
young athletes league Launderette electro to soundtrack your spin cycle with math-rock disco Writer: IAN ROEBUCK Photographer: KELDA HOLE
July 4th is a day of independence; a day to celebrate the autonomy of the individual; a day where a self-governing community can prosper. Not in Camberwell-based launderettes though. Dominik Salter-Dvorak and Pierre Vaux of Young Athletes League are playing to South London’s stylish lot, tight between tumble dryers. However, independence is about to be put on spin dry. Police vans a plenty arrive just as their first track comes to a glistening closure. Playing gigs with peoples panties in sight seems to have rubbed the man up the wrong way. Not all attempts at individualism and selfcontrol seem to work then – looks like you need a pub and PA system to play music in 2009. “Part of the reason we are playing these places and doing the house parties is we find it quite annoying when you have bands and DJs,” muses Pierre as we convene on concrete in their South London neighbourhood. “This is something you watch and this is something you dance to and don’t watch, but that doesn’t really work anymore.” Young Athletes League aren’t about to hurdle out of sight but they are indeed young. Having only really begun making music
last December, it’s a band in bloom. The two UCL-based language students have developed a blossoming, luxuriant sound that captures the spirit of acid house for a new generation. It’s wall-to-wall decadence and dance and unabashedly blatant in its use of influences. “We were both massively into drone music, minimalist repetitive techno,” Pierre says shuffling to get comfortable. “This project is getting us back into that.” “Although it’s a lot more direct,” chips in Dominik. Both members live together in Camberwell, bonding over Arthur Russell, literature and a love of grammar. “Working in a twopiece is so much easier,” they say “we don’t have to organise people to come from Wiltshire, we can just head into our room and practice.” The two met at Truck festival back in 2005. Oxford-born Pierre and London-bred Dominik have been in bands since they can remember. With a culture of drone, math rock and industrial styles informing the duo they developed an astonishing array of skills. Live they switch between samplers, synthesisers, guitars and a laptop as Dominik breaks out shimmering repetitious vocals. A love of
language also serves to inspire – Dominik studies Chinese, having spent time in Beijing, and Pierre combines Russian and Swedish. This fierce intelligence seeps into their music and they are happy to keep things challenging both on and off stage. “We are very wary of doing anything pre-recorded or with a backing track,” explains Pierre. “It’s always really disappointing to see that happens. It’s labour intensive because everything that has to come out has to be made on the spot. Lots of mouse clicking,” he laughs. The theme of language continues in their Arthur Russell-quoting blog, SurfingSwimming. It’s a kaleidoscope of colour, art, design and music, written with their friend and collaborator Matthew Joseph McGough. Full of local artists and droll social commentary it also showcases some of their musical tastes and is a shining example of the burgeoning scene in South London. With Camberwell art college close by and collectives such as Off Modern creating nights that combine art and music there was never a better time to live south of the river. Young Athletes League remain pretty pragmatic though.
“For one thing it’s much cheaper,” says Dominik “it’s also somewhere you can walk down the street and recognise each other.” “We are new to this area and what we do is a slightly separate thing,” adds Pierre. “South London is about art that sets us apart.” “Although we aren’t anti art,” insists Dominik. A myriad of multi storey NCP’s attached to shopping malls, South London lacks a lot of things, venues certainly being one of them, which is part of the reason the duo have also been holding their own SurfingSwimming parties. Finding the warehouse scene a tedious setup, the twosome are pioneering new ways to witness live music. Laundrettes have so far dominated the landscape with some already legendary shows (although the party-pooping police from the night before was organised by another promoter privy to the perks of laundry). Just four shows in the band have already headlined White Heat. Trips to Beijing and an abundance of live shows lie ahead and with the two of them constantly crafting their art it seems south London could have another gem up its sleeve.
mazes You can’t say you’re lo-fi until you’ve mixed your demos through a Sony television Writer: Tom Pinnock Photographer: Tom Cockram “It’s easy being in a band that do too much together, practice too much and think about it too much,” says Mazes’ main man Jack Cooper. You would have thought the secret to being a good band is hard work, unending toil and disciplined graft. And not having members living in different cities. But think again. “I think if we all lived near each other,” Jack says, “we’d probably practice more and we’d talk about the band more, and this just keeps it all really fresh. The fact that we’re not together that much, when we are together it’s fun, you know.” We all know how troublesome long distance relationships are, but Cooper reckons being in a long distance band – drummer Jay is up in Manchester with Jack, while guitarist Jarin is down in London – has its benefits. “We have to be sort of really picky about what gigs we do, which sort of works in a good way, I suppose, as the temptation is just to play everything you get offered. It gives us some spontaneity around it, not being too practiced.” Their sloppiness live on record fits perfectly, though the latest vanguards in the
still-growing DIY scene that’s also brought us blog-tastic bands like (to pick a few) Pens, Times New Viking and Wavves in the last few years, Mazes are gloriously in thrall to scratchy Kiwi punk-rock; if it’s on the Flying Nun label, they probably dig it. Think the lo-fi fuzz and clatter of The Clean and The Chills, mixed in with a dollop of Manchester’s own The Fall. “I think all the Flying Nun stuff, the way a lot of those records were recorded there’s a real excitement about it ‘cause they haven’t had the time or the money to spend like weeks in the studio getting everything right and learning their parts. “There’s a spontaneity and excitement about it that I always really loved. Those first Flying Nun records are so exciting to listen to and that’s definitely something we wanted to do ourselves.” As well as sounding ace, their DIY approach means they can get a lot done in a short amount of time. “Just occasionally we record,” explains Jack. “Jarin will come up and we’ll do something. We’re pretty quick as well – the first time we did 5 songs in one day then the next time he came up we did another 4
or something so it’s pretty easy, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.” Formed by Jack in Manchester last year, the trio haven’t bothered getting a bassist as, “Low end doesn’t interest [them]”. Making their first recordings around Christmas time, they’ve played live only around 15 times, and have – surprise, surprise – only practiced three times. All their recordings have been tracked on a Tascam Portastudio and then mixed – get this DIY fans – on a Sony TV. “I don’t have any speakers,” explains Jack “so I put it through this TV and it sounded pretty good. “It seems like people always ask that – although this is our first proper interview really – but people always say, ‘Jack, did you really mix it on that?’ like it’s a gimmick or something, but no, I’m playing a record through it right now actually. “It’s not some analogue tube thing but it sounds pretty good. Most people don’t have any good speakers, they always listen to stuff through their laptop or shitty iPod headphones. I suppose I could buy some proper speakers but I’ve got better
things to spend my money on.” The technique seems to be working so far – tracks like forthcoming single ‘Bowie Knives’ are thrillingly dirty ditties on the right side of both punk and lo-fi geek-rock, harking back to a more magical time of analogue hiss and cassette worship. The music industry is a corrupting place but it’s good to hear not everyone wants to sign to Columbia and re-record their songs with Rich Costey or Paul Epworth – in fact, Mazes are tying themselves up deliberating whether or not rerecording their songs on the four-track would be going against their ethos. Steady on guys. “It’s very easy to kind of get carried away, even with people MySpacing you and saying they really like it,” Jack says. “I know lots of people who’ve been in bands and they get signed and it just becomes a completely watered-down version of what they originally intended, and I don’t want that. You have to analyse why you got into music in the first place. “I’ve got a job, I don’t want another one,” he laughs. “I don’t even want that one.”
At a time when all guitarists carried with them a Y chromosome, The Slits proved that girls could be responsible for some of the most influential and innovative music of the punk movement. Having tracked down the bandâ€™s three main players, Janine Bullman discusses the uncompromising world of The Slits; the unintentional poster girls of not selling out.
Photographer: RAY STEVENSON
> Steel pulse and The Slits in west London (L-R: Viv, Ari, Tessa and Palmolive) Pic: Ray Stevenson
head of their forthcoming show at Offset festival in September, I spent two weeks on the trail of The Slits. I’m given a number for Tessa Pollit, the bass player of the band, and arrange to meet her at her home in West London. A few days later I meet Viv Albertine, one time guitartist and Slits songwriter, at the book launch of new biography Typical Girls? The Story of The Slits, and just in the nick of time, after much running around and plenty of patient finger drumming, I finally got hold of band mouthpiece Ari Up, on the phone from her home in New York. Ari splits her time between Brooklyn and Jamaica and is notoriously hard to pin down. Born in Germany she moved to London in the mid-’70s with her mother and speaks in an accent part German, part West London, part Patois. “All the people who were in that revolution back then in the punk time, it left something in those people,” she says. “The ones who didn’t die or sell out are incredibly untamed and free spirits, they have evolved into incredible people like when you meet Poly Styrene [of X-Ray Spex] now, she has become an amazing person.There are just one or two who felt so pressured they had to buy into society.”
May 16th 1976, Arianne Forster (Ari Up), aged 14, is at the now legendary Patti Smith gig at Camden’s Roundhouse, having a row with her mother Nora (now Mrs John Lydon). Ari soon attracts the attention of Joe Strummer’s then girlfriend Paloma Romero (Palmolive) and Kate Corris, who approach Ari with the idea of forming a group.They begin rehearsing the very next day as the first incarnation of The Slits. Rehearsing in Joe and Palmolive’s squat, they are soon joined by Tessa Pollit who recalls the moment she joined the band. “Originally The Slits had another bass player called Suzie Gutsy. I met The Slits through this News of the World article that was written about women in punk right at the beginning. Ari came round to my flat and she really liked all this poetry I had written on the wall. Suzie Gutsy got kicked out and I joined, that was it really. I was playing guitar before and so I had to learn bass in 2 weeks for our first gig and that was at The Roxy in Harlesden.” In the audience that night was Viv Albertine. “I was in the Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious and Sid left to join the Sex
Pistols,” explains Viv. “I saw The Slits play at the Harlesden Roxy and I thought they were amazing.We met up a few days later and played together, and I backcombed their hair like the New York Dolls and that was it, we just clicked.” Kate Corris was next to be given the elbow as Viv stepped in on guitar. Ari Up,Viv Albertine,Tessa Pollit and Palmolive were now The Slits, and in terms of classic lineups, always will be. Despite being integral to punk’s evolution from the very beginnings in 1976, the band have never received the same attention The Clash or The Sex Pistols have. Yet The Slits were doing something no other band had done before.You have to remember when The Clash’s Mick Jones picked up his Gibson Les Paul for the first time, there was a long line of boys wielding guitars from Elvis to Johnny Thunders to emulate, but as female musicians there was no her-story, all The Slits had for inspiration was Patti Smith. They were the first group of female musicians doing it on their own terms.Their sheer inability to compromise or sell themselves on their sex appeal was a major inspiration to the Riot Grrl movement in the 1990s, and today their musical influence can be heard in bands from Sonic Youth to The Horrors.There seems to be no other time in rock’n’roll history where women were fronting bands and playing their own instruments. But was Punk really a time of equal opportunity for women? Sat in her basement flat just off Ladbroke Grove,Tessa remembers the reality of it all. “It was incredibly male orientated then, within the record companies, and it was a real struggle,” she says. “I think people forget how much of a struggle it was. I mean there has always been female singers but not women playing their own instruments” For Viv, “It was a bit like the Second World War, where the women came to the fore because they were needed to work in the factories. It was such a bleak time, threeday weeks, a heat wave, no youth culture on TV or in the media, rubbish all over the streets. Any little rat that could rise up did. It was quite an equal time but it seemed to shrink away after.” Despite completely rewriting rock’s masculine rulebook and inspiring a feminist revolution in the ’90s,Tessa believes that The Slits never viewed themselves as feminists. “I just hate labels,” she says. “We never set out to be feminists because then there is a set of rules and I don’t want to be labeled on any level.” But as Viv pointed out, the female punk
revolution was short-lived and when I ask Ari if she thinks there has been a progression in women’s roles in music she says, “I didn’t know it would come to this, where everything is like a factory.You see Lady Gaga and she is dressed all crazy in these space age outfits, but she is totally straight, she isn’t a rebel. I can see straight through her, she is business. Her sexuality is so trashy and cheap and she is just singing about having too much and fucking about and being vulgar. People think that is rebellion. When you look at the philosophy, it is scary. Even Britney is on this really sexual out there thing. All these girls are so groomed and polished and are being put out there as an industry or as a gimmick. It is scary to think that this is how women are meant to look.” But back in the bleak mid-’70s when The Slits embarked on the legendary White Riot Tour alongside The Clash,The Jam, Buzzcocks, and Subway Sect,Viv recalls the rest of the country weren’t quite prepared for the four girls: “We were like the massive rebels of the tour.The way we looked was much more unusual or far out than the guys, because by now people were used to rock and roll looking guys, but girls in fetish wear, with their t-shirts slashed, hair standing a mile on end and in Doctor Martin boots? They couldn’t stand it and they would say we will only have them in the hotel if they walk from the door to the lift and we don’t want to see them again till the next day. Everyday the tour manager would threaten to throw us off the tour, Norman the bus driver had to be bribed daily to let us on the bus. It was bloody stressful.” Tessa: “I can’t really think of anyone like us before. I think because we were women it was even more threatening because of the way we looked. Especially when we were going out of London it seemed to cause even more shock. I think we got thrown out of one hotel because I had The Slits graffiti-ed on the side of my case. I suppose you have to look at what it followed, the whole ’60s apathy thing and the fact that it was a movement, it wasn’t just one group. Something had to break at that period. It was probably the worst style ever in the ’70s as far as I can remember, it was vomit-making, the style was so horrible, the haircuts, the clothes, the house design, the avocado green bathroom suites.” But it wasn’t just The Slits being female that made them different, it was the style of their music too.When all the other punk
bands were shouting “1234”,The Slits were playing to a different beat.They were amongst the first bands on that scene to draw their inspiration from reggae music and at the time of the White Riot tour they were being managed by Roxy DJ Don Letts. For Tessa, reggae was hugely inspiring to the way she played. “There were more reggae artists playing live, like Big Youth and Burning Spear, and the film The Harder They Come, which was really influential, and there were a lot of sound systems and shebeen blues clubs. It was just a real time for reggae in the ’70s. Before punks had ever made any records there was reggae.Thank God, because it was
< The most famous image of the band:the cover of debut album ‘cut’
hugely inspiring. Don Letts was djing at the Roxy club playing pure reggae so we got to know all these songs and even to this day I love Jamaican music, just love it.” I ask her how the Jamaican community took to four punk girls turning up to their clubs. “Maybe it was more acceptable to be a white woman than to be a white man and be there. In the Ballyhigh Club in Streatham, Ari would just start dancing and be surrounded by a crowd of people. But somewhere like the Four Aces in Dalston, which doesn’t exist anymore, it, would be much more of a tense atmosphere, like who do these people think they are, coming into
our club. Ari used to go on her own from a really young age, she had quite a nerve, she was 15, but you can’t help but like her.” The Slits were also the first musicians to point out that women played their instruments in a different way to men, quite a revelation but for Tessa it was the only way she knew. “I like the fact that women do play differently,” she says. “For me I was always playing with other women so I didn’t know any different.” Viv, though, was making it up as she went along. “We, in a way, tried to fit in with boys and how they played,” she says. “I hadn’t been taught an instrument so I was literally www.loudandquiet.com
< Ari Up, live at the 2nd Mont De Marson Punk Rock Festival, France, 1977. Pic: Ian dickson > A pre-punk Viv Albertine, Keith Levene and Mick Jones outside Viv’s squat in Davis Road, acton,West London 1976 Pic: courtesy of Viv ALbertine
Riot Grrrl movement. I didn’t get it until we started playing in America and we had an audience out there, a young audience. I was quite shocked.” But long before Riot Grrrl, a young Madonna had been in the audience and you can see the influence The Slits had on her style on her first appearances on Channel 4’s innovative music programme The Tube. But again,Tessa has a very grounded view to this. “I think she must have been quite influenced by the way Viv dressed as she came to see us before her career took off but I don’t like to go on about things like that. I just think, so what? Everyone is going to get influenced by what they see. I just don’t like to blow my own trumpet. I just want to keep moving forward and try and not get egotistical about anything.”
making it up as I went along and with things Keith Levene [later of PiL] was showing me, though he wasn’t showing me straight forward things. He was teaching me more the mentality than the actual chords. He gave me the confidence to do what I wanted and I would make things up and he would say, ‘What time is that in? It works but it shouldn’t.’” At the time Viv was going out with Mick Jones. “Mick didn’t teach me anything. Only the guys you don’t sleep with teach you something.” Unlike the other punk bands,The Slits didn’t sign to a label straight away in 1977. Viv didn’t think the band were ready. “Mainly we didn’t sign because we knew we didn’t sound like we did in our heads.That and the record companies wanted to market us and package us up as sexy punk girls. There really weren’t any other all girl bands at the time.We had to wait till someone took us for who we where “ Finally, the band signed to Island in 1978. What was particularly unusual is that Island Records agreed to give them full creative control on everything, from the artwork to the choice of single, something that is still rare in the business today.The band’s first single, ‘Typical Girls’, was backed with a cover version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’. It was a song that Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, thought would give the girls more success,
but they were adamant they would go with their own song ‘Typical Girls’ as the A-side. Although the band were able to make their own career decisions, they weren’t always the most financially-viable. I ask Viv if the term ‘bloody-minded’ would be a suitable term to describe The Slits’ attitude to the music business at the time. “I think every decision we made, made it difficult for us.We kept thinking ‘Why aren’t we commercial? Why aren’t we on TV?’ On the other hand, we were so uncompromising on how we spoke to people, how we did interviews, how we looked, everything was utterly uncompromised. So we led ourselves down this difficult cult route.Which actually, 20 years later, worked out pretty well as it kept The Slits pure and now because we were so uncompromising the band has such a strong identity. But it did mean we made no money and we had no commercial success.” Their success seems on a par to a band like The Velvet Underground’s in the ’60s. Neither bands sold huge amounts of records on release but their influence has been huge and ongoing. But when I ask Tessa about when she first became aware of their now legendary status, she seems blissfully unaware of quite how influential the band have been. “I wasn’t aware at all till I hooked up with Ari a few years ago. She kept going on about how we had influenced the whole
Slits released their debut album, ‘Cut’, produced by legendary reggae producer Dennis Bovell, on the 7th September 1979. By this point drummer Palmolive had left the band and had been replaced by Budgie, who later went on to join Siouxsie And The Banshees. On the album’s cover, Ari,Tessa and Viv stare defiantly into the camera lens. Like Amazonian warriors they are caked in mud and naked apart from a loincloth. Pennie Smith shot this now legendary image of The Slits in the summer of 1979, almost 30 years ago to the day. In an era where female role models like Katie Price are most often surgically modified into the cartoon image of a woman, and the teacup-wielding Lady GaGa is considered to be outrageous, that image of The Slits seems more relevant than
ever. I ask Tessa if they were aware quite how important that shot of them would become. “I think we knew it was going to cause a storm. But it was an incredibly liberating feeling splashing around in the mud. I can’t even remember where the idea came from but it was the perfect setting for it. It just had this ambiguity about it, us against a country house with roses growing up the walls. It got very mixed reactions. I think we just liked to push the boundaries. I spoke to Vivien Goldman and she was working for Sounds or Melody Maker at the time and she took it to her editor.They were saying, they are so fat and ugly we aren’t putting that in our paper. They just didn’t want to see women like that.” At the time the photos caused outrage with one man going so far as to try and sue the record company for crashing his car after seeing the three naked Slits looking down at him from a huge billboard. After the release of ‘Cut’ the band’s sound became increasingly experimental. In the early 1980s,The Slits formed an alliance with Bristol post-punk band The Pop Group, sharing a drummer (Bruce Smith) and releasing a joint single, ‘In The Beginning There was Rhythm’/ ‘Where There’s A Will’ (Y Records).The Slits released their second album, ‘Return Of The Giant Slits’ in 1981 and in the December of that year, the band
“Lady Gaga is dressed all crazy in these space age outfits, but she is totally straight, she isn’t a rebel. I can see straight through her, she is business” - Ari Up
Up and Tessa Pollitt reformed The Slits with new members in 2005, and in 2006 released the EP ‘Revenge Of The Killer Slits’.The EP featured former Sex Pistol Paul Cook and Marco Pirroni (ex-Adam & the Ants, and Siouxsie & The Banshees) as both musicians and co-producers. In fact, Cook’s daughter Hollie is a member of the current line-up, singing and playing keyboards. Other members of the reformed band are German drummer Anna Schulte, and Adele Wilson on guitar. I asked Tessa what led her and Ari to getting The Slits back together. “I hooked up with Ari about five years ago, we hadn’t seen each other in years. She had been all over the place in the jungle, in Jamaica and America. I went to see some of her solo gigs and I just got itchy to get on stage again and play some of our old songs. It was like there had been no time gap and we got on like we had just seen each other yesterday.We have led very parallel lives and have been through similar experiences. She had lost her son’s father, he was shot in Jamaica, and I had lost my daughter’s father, Sean Oliver, when she was five, we have both been widowed.” Viv Albertine joined the group for two gigs in 2008 but decided she didn’t want to reform. “That sealed it for me. I didn’t want to go back,” she says. “I felt awkward singing songs like ‘Shoplifiting’. I am a woman now and still have stuff I want to talk about but I can’t be playing songs from 25 years ago.”Viv will be releasing a single of her own later this year and an album though US label Manimal Records.When I ask her what she thinks of The Slits now,Viv tells me, “You watch Ari on stage even now and she still comes over as
decided to split. Ari was 14 when she joined the band,Tessa and Viv only a couple of years older.Tessa believes they did the right thing. “It felt like we needed a break,” she says. “We needed to go off and experience our own adventures. We had grown up together and we had worked so hard, everything was about The Slits.We needed to have our own individual experiences in life. I don’t think it was a bad thing and the whole music scene became so squeaky clean in the ’80s and I think that was what put me off. Something really switched in the ’80s.” Still, the split didn’t come easy. It left a huge hole in each of their lives.Tessa spiralled into heroin addiction and Viv likened the aftermath to being akin to posttraumatic stress disorder. “It meant so much to me,” she explains. “But by the time we split up I was burnt out. I couldn’t bear to listen to music for about two years, it was terrible. I went down the filmmaking path. I thought that was a better option at the time. In the ’80s music got very careerist, it was no longer about expressing yourself.” Ari had twins shortly after the split and left England to live in the jungles of Belize and then Jamaica.
The Slits (pre-Viv) - Tessa Pollitt, Palmolive, Ari Up and Kate Korus - at their first gig, Harlesden Coliseum, 1977 Pic: Ian Dickson
The reformed lineup that will release new album ‘Trapped animal’ on October 6th
something absolutely amazing and different. She has no fear and no body consciousness. She still does something for sexuality and women that I don’t think any other woman does.” 2009 is a big year for The Slits. Not only is it the 30th Anniversary of their cult album ‘Cut’, but this year also sees the release of the first Slits album in 28 years. ‘Trapped Animal’ will be released in October.The band recorded the record in Los Angeles earlier this year. A superb biography on the band written by journalist Zoe Street Howe (Typical Girls? The Story of The Slits) was also released in April. Ari takes her role as a Slit very seriously and is still hugely conscious about not being pushed into a position she doesn’t feel comfortable with. “I am constantly worried about The Slits and haunted about The Slits, that The Slits do not have to sell their integrity or their principles or about being pushed into something we don’t want to do. I mean that is a struggle we all have to deal with all our lives anyway.” I remind her how Joe Strummer had praised them for managing to keep hold of their integrity. “The Slits have become something beyond The Slits, bigger than life, bigger than our personalities,” she says. “They have become very mythical.The responsibility to stay true to ourselves is huge. People need something like The Slits, even if it isn’t us. Every time we play, there is always a girl who says, ‘I am going to start a group’.There is always someone who tells us that we have been an inspiration or life changing.”
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Apostle of Hustle Blakfish Eddy Current Suppression Ring Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros Electricity In Our Homes Fiery Furnaces Hecuba Kevin Devine Lime Headed Dog Little Dragon Lovvers MSTRKRFT Ochre Pissed Jeans Sore Eros Squarepusher Street Sweeper Social Club Wild Beasts Yacht
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Alice Gun Deerhoof Finally Punk M83 Regina Spektor Sleepy Sun St. Helens Stricken City Teen Sheikhs The Hipshakes The Low Anthem The Neat The Thermals Victorian English Gentlemenâ€™s Club Why? Youves
MSTRKRFT Fist of God (Geffen) By Dean Driscoll. In stores Aug 3
The ‘sound of the summer’ is rarely a delicate ballad. In the movie world it’s when Hollywood lets loose the blockbusters, not the awardsbaiters. And so it is with music – you don’t get millions of people flocking to Ibiza to listen to Norah Jones. In this summer of Blur and Duran Duran comebacks it’s a time for Parklife, not parsimony; for the Reflex, not reflection. This year’s coveted ‘sound of the summer’ accolade – awarded by no less an authority than Zane Lowe – has been given to Canadian duo MSTRKRFT, whose lead single for second album ‘Fist of God’ features John Legend on guest vocals. Entitled ‘Heartbreaker’, it’s a big, unabashed hands in the air piano-house anthem, and it’s going to be absolutely everywhere. It’s
funny then, that it is perhaps the most restrained track on this entire record. Having set their stall out with debut album ‘The Looks’, MSTRKRFT have never been about subtlety and ‘Fist of God’ sees everything amped up to another level. Emulating Nirvana in their leap from indie label to US major Geffen, MSTRKRFT are on their way to becoming that rarest of beasts – a mainstream North American dance act.Whereas artists from The Prodigy to Justice have crossed the Atlantic to get the US kids raving, home-grown talent has rarely broken through – Canada’s Tiga and Deadmau5 still enjoy greater success in Europe, and the most notable acts from the States are working mainly in the underground dance genres. Perhaps this is why MSTRKRFT have eschewed any lingering restraint that was apparent on their debut album and best remixes: Why not, when bludgeoning electro is what’s getting them on Letterman? ‘Fist of God’ is
every bit as forceful as the sole album from the act that spawned MSTRKRFT - Death From Above 1979’s ‘Your A Woman, I’m A Machine’. It’s unrelenting, unwavering and unapologetic. Tracks such as ‘1,000 Cigarettes’ and ‘Click Click’ don’t so much beat you into submission as nuke you into it: it’s undoubtedly effective on the dancefloors for which it’s primarily designed, but over the course of an album perhap too much of an assault to make for a wholly enjoyable experience. And unlike Justice, MSTRKRFT lack the occasional lightness of touch – something so many of their contemporaries are also guilty of. Ultimately, asking for subtlety from a MSTRKRFT record is like asking for decent character development from a Michael Bay movie, and neither would have it any other way. ‘Fist of God’ and Transformers - Revenge Of The Fallen are the major label blockbusters that will be inescapable this summer, whether I or you like it or not.
Apostle of Hustle
Lime Headed Dog
See Mystery Lights
Solo Electric Bass 1
(Arts & Crafts) By Tom Goodwyn. In stores now
(DFA/Co-Op) By Phil Burt. In stores Jul 27
(Volcano Attack) By Danny Canter. In stores Aug 3
(Warp) By Reef Younis. In stores Aug 17
(Shdwply) By Laura Hughes. In stores Jul 27
Now on their third record, Apostle of Hustle, a Canuck super group, part Broken Social Scene, part Feist and part Amy Millan band, show no signs of abating their appetite for the darker side of life, as if new album title ‘Eats Darkness’ didn’t tell you that already. It’s less a collection of songs, more a soundtrack to a dystopian film, all squelchy sample mashes, occasionally broken by dips into pop ditties, sounding more like each of the band member’s day jobs. It works though, as the sweet melodies of ‘Whistle In The Fog’ and ‘Perfect Fit’ are made all the more intriguing by the battlefield sound effects that preceded them. Imagine latter day Nine Inch Nails sandwiched by Shins-like pop songs. It ought to be horrible, but it actually makes for a listen that is both challenging and hummable.
The first album from this Portland duo begins with ‘Ring The Bell’; an uplifting tribal ditty of infectious beats that calls you to the dance floor as frontman Jona Bechtolt questions the existence of heaven and hell. It’s fine form, which continues with ‘The Afterlife’, fully equipped with a catchy chorus echoing Desmond Dekker’s ‘The Israelites’. Unfortunately, it’s downhill from here as each track becomes a blur of repetitive beats, sampled sounds and spoken lyrics that make Yacht sound rather like a less-inventive, Lo-Fi-Fnk who are certainly not providing anything new. Fine to hear playing while you drink summer cocktails, but excessive listening may induce a partial coma. It’s starts with a bell but a final track called ‘Throw In The Towel’ wouldn’t be out of place.
Compared to his out of tune, shrill live performances, Lime Headed Dog’s debut album is a vast improvement. Like a more abrasive Micachu, it’s listenable, wonky pop that (if you’ve got the patience) flirts with quite brilliant ideas. And Joel Cox is bravely challenging himself compared to his old day job as bassist in straightforward melody-searchers Good Shoes violins squeak and numerous twee toy instruments slosh around his musical cauldron, pinging about in their time signatures and rhythms. But ask what you’re meant to do to ‘Kfum Kfuk’ and you’ll get a blank look. Seeing it live is out of the question, dancing to it would tie your legs and head in knots and it’s far too eccentric to be a cathartic listen. It seems that this record is to be marvelled at for being bonkers but little else.
‘Solo Electric Bass 1’. No glitches. No gimmicks. No frills. No need to read between the lines, because rarely has an album title so comprehensively encompassed the actual recording. One man, one bass and amp, a live recording and 40 minutes of aficionado-baiting bass, slap funk slabs and smooth experimental jazz. Perhaps a little weary of sending wired minds down rabbit holes - you could somewhat cynically dismiss ‘Solo...’ as an album of self-congratulatory dirge - it’s merely Squarepusher playing it straight. And with a gushing Flea endorsement on the merits of these electro bass skills, ‘Solo...’ is indulgent appreciation in its purest form. Stripped and skeletal, it’s an extended showcase for skewed wizardry that’s as likely to have the purists purring as everyone else yawns in inquisition.
In an era where DIY albums are as common as a copy of the Metro on the back seat of the 38 bus, Robert Robinson’s palindrome-happy offering is content to set up camp somewhere in amongst the noise. Musically, ‘Second Chants’ drifts somewhere between spacey My Bloody Valentine-esque vocals and earthy Bon Iver instrumentation, though quickly descends into directionless noise that recalls the worst aspects of Thom Yorke’s selfindulgent solo album – droning, incoherent vocals and wildy unnecessary studio effects. A shame, since tracks like ‘Lips Like Wine’ feature a beautiful Spectormimicking wall of sound, while ‘Go Back My Love’ is a fragile, if pitchy, lullaby. Ultimately, Sore Eros are the musical equivalent of ‘The ONE Show’: harmless, inoffensive but definitely not life-changing.
Pissed Jeans King of Jeans (Sub Pop) By Chris Watkeys. In stores Aug 17
Anybody with a festering sense of injustice, a grudge to bear, or an all-consuming store of impotent inner rage may find in ‘King of Jeans’ a temporary outlet. This is music as primal scream therapy, forty minutes of band versus world. Pissed Jeans seem to wear their reliance on the distortion pedal and the minor chord like a badge of honour. Bands have been making this kind of music since the infancy of heavy metal almost forty years ago, and looking for a glimmer of inventiveness anywhere on this record is a forlorn and fruitless endeavour.Yet if you accept that this is ‘does what it says on the tin’ music, there’s fun to be found. The sparsely arranged ‘Spent’ is like Black Sabbath on Valium, while frayed melodies pervade the grungetinged assault of ‘Dream Smotherer’.This is twelve tracks of dumb as fuck, elemental, heavy rock noise. www.loudandquiet.com
Al bums 07/10
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Street Sweepers Social Club
Like Dust of The Balance
By Phil Burt. In stores now
(Manimal) By Sam Walton. In stores now
(Benbecula) By Sam Walton. In stores now
When the entire world is going down the shitter, it’s great to have figures like Tom Morello who’ll speak up for the little guys. Retracing steps to earlier days impressing upon young minds with RATM, Morello here teams up with Boots Riley to offer revolution-inspiring rhymes. But gone are the angst-ridden screams, replaced here with Riley’s velvet purr on tracks like ‘Fight! Smash! Win!’ and ‘100 Little Curses’. However, before long you realise each song is sounding like the one before and, more alarmingly, like Red Hot Chilli Peppers (‘Somewhere In The World It’s Midnight’). Sadly, we all grow up though. Fighstar fans once bellowed ‘The Year 3000’ at Busted; Rage’s once angry young fans have settled down and had kids.This more mellow Morello is for them.
If a lazy BBC Three-bound comedy duo – let’s, for argument’s sake, call them Matthew Horne and James Corden – were to write a sketch sending up hipster electro boy/girl duos, they’d probably pen some ludicrous lyrics and then sing them, out of tune and out of time, over some tinny, melody-free synths, with a cowbell somewhere for good measure.They could do that, although less effort would be spent, and the same effect achieved, by hiring in LA’s Hecuba, a real hipster electro boy/girl duo whose debut album is as loveable as swine flu. Faced with over-earnest bedroom-electro twaddle from the outset, the much-needed levity and good playing on the final two tracks offers glimmers of hope, but nothing can really disguise this utterly forgettable, lifeless piffle, musch like Horne and Corden.
Large swathes of ‘Like Dust...’ are cut from the same cloth as Boards of Canada’s ‘Music Has the Right to Children’ and Air’s ’10,000Hz Legend’, both of them masterclasses in sinister synth and wibbly pastoral bleeps. However, where the older records succeeded in generating a contradictory combination of eerie disquiet and bucolic calm, ‘Like Dust...’ falls short, sounding more like two talented electronica producers reading the instructions on how to make Warp-esque IDM – and subsequently neglecting the instinctive side of the genre.When the LP moves into film soundtrack territory, aping the likes of Yann Tiersen with lush strings and wordless choirs, a more captivating, almost passionate sound arrives, but it’s not enough to save what is ultimately rather dull album.
By Nathan Watkeys. In stores now
(Peacefrog) By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Aug 17
Too often have we found ourselves presented with a band be-rift of emotion, soul and character; a band that have had all individuality firmly beaten out of them with a broad heavy stick. It’s therefore refreshing and equally surprising when a multi-vocal ensemble that embraces the extravagancies others push aside seemingly emerge from nowhere. Self categorised as “Choral psychedelic folk rock” the sound Edward Sharpe orchestrates is far removed from the upbeat, joyous sprightly pop of say The Polyphonic Spree or I’m From Barcelona, an equal distance from the psyched-up folk ramblings of Devendra Banhart and far more inline with arch-type boho-folk, dressed in Mercury Rev styled fanciful orchestration. As winsome as it is grand, ‘Up from Below’ is far from drab.
‘Machine Dreams’ is an extremely apt title for the second release by Swedish quartet Little Dragon. This is because the whole record sounds, probably quite deliberately, as if it were recorded in a science laboratory by highly trained robots. Each song flows beautifully into the next, driven by an equally infectious keyboard groove and comes in a perfect pop song length. Little Dragon have clearly left nothing to chance. Unfortunately by doing this they’ve also left out the possibility that listeners may feel in some way connected to the music. From start to finish ‘Machine Dreams’ is slick, efficient pop music. It’s also cold, vacuum packed and devoid of heart and soul.The lyrics are throwaway and it’s difficult to see it finding a place anywhere but in the background of car advertisements.
Up From Below (Rough Trade)
S/T (Cooking Vinyl)
Firey Furnaces I’m Going Away (Thrill Jockey) By Tom Pinnock. In stores Aug 23
Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t accuse The Fiery Furnaces of lacking ambition. From concept albums about, and featuring, their grandmother, to songs that flit between sections that should by rights be completely different tracks, the Chicago duo have, depending on your taste, either spent a career creating some of the most original indie rock of recent years, or they’ve just spent seven albums being really really annoying. If you’re of the latter opinion you might be in for a bit of a surprise – ‘I’m Going Away’ is one of the most straightforward things Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger have ever done. Indeed, songs like ‘The End Is Near’ and the title track manage to keep to one style
throughout.There’s also a move away from the kind of nagging and hyperactive synth melodies that characterised ‘Blueberry Boat’ and ‘Bitter Tea’, with the duo embracing more of a slow, piano-led and almost soulful style on ‘Even In The Rain’ and ‘Ray Bouvier’. Some of their old frantic tendencies are still here, though – ‘I’m Going Away’ and ‘Charmaine Champagne’ are probably the best things on the album; hip-shaking, bluesy shuffles complete with Matthew’s fantastically obnoxious anti-guitar solos, while the menacing ‘Staring At The Steeple’ rocks one of the grittiest grooves the band has created since their debut, ‘Gallowsbird’s Bark’. To hardcore Fiery Furnaces fans the album may seem a little slight compared to some of their, uh, weightier magnum opuses, but as experiments in relative conventionality go, it’s packed full of some of their most intelligent, exciting and downright catchy songs since ‘EP’.
OCD Go Go Girls
(Hassle) By Matthias Scherer. In stores Aug 10
(Wichita) By Sam Little. In stores Aug 10
(Big Scary Monsters) By Matthias Scherer. In stores now
Electricity In Our Homes
Eddy Current Suppression Ring
We Agree Completely (Parlor) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores now
Primary Colours (Melodic) By Omarrr. In stores Aug 17
Last summer Birmingham’s Blakfish chucked at us one of the snappiest, angriest and most accomplished releases of the year. Their EP, ‘See You in Another City’, combined slickly produced pop hooks with throat-shredding punk rock escapades and a weirdly intoxicating stop/start brand of hardcore. On their debut album, Blakfish have stuck with the general approach but trimmed the fat by tightening up their songwriting and avoiding overdubs during recording.The result is an album that screams in your face, shoves you to the ground, picks you up again and gives you a tough-love bearhug. Blakfish care. There are references to the sorry state of British society, but this is not an incoherent rant. It’s one of the snappiest, angriest and most accomplished releases of the year.
New Lovvers single, ‘OCD Go Go Girls’ only sounds like a party mix of Status Quo’s ‘Down Down’ and The Libertines’ ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ for 30 seconds, but that it does; a real hip-twister before Shaun Hencher’s muffled vocals transport us to an Oregon basement punk club in the same DIY town his band recorded this debut album in.The sound of LA’s The Smell then whiffs off of the rest of ‘OCD…’ – a squirt of No Age distortion here, a smear of Mika Miko visceral energy there – but as ‘I Want To (Go)’ sounds like The Clash’s ‘Clampdown’ it’s clear that Lovvers are keen to remain a British band.They want to take on the yanks - flanked by Shitty Limits and The Hipshakes - in fact, and the youthful exuberance of this occasionally samey record spells a real pisser for Uncle Sam’s boys.
‘Brother’s Blood’ is the fifth album by the Brooklyn songwriter Kevin Devine, but the first to enjoy a proper release in this country. Formidable indie label BSM snapped up the singer after he was dropped by a major, and what a stroke of luck this is for us Brits. Loosely rooted in the folkier side of Okkervil River, ‘Brother’s Blood’ has attributes of two veritable milestones of indie rock: Bright Eyes’ ‘I’m wide awake…’ and Death Cab’s ‘The Photo Album’. Devine’s lyrical phrasing and vocal presence on this album rival those of Oberst and Gibbard, while 7-minute-folk-prog-beasts takes a leaf out of Brand New’s frontman (Devine’s friend and collaborator on album closer ‘Tomorrow’s Just Too Late’) Jesse Lacey’s book. Major labels? Devine’s doing great without one.
Hatcham Social say that Electricity In Our Homes are one of the most inspiring bands making music today.Yes, the same EIOH that produce 2-minute DIY art punk to plenty of scoffs of “I could do that.” Well, you didn’t “do that”, they did, and their refusal to go quietly into a forgotten Shoreditch swap-shop career has wound them up here, releasing a 6-track EP that proves Hatcham right.The Fall once proved that stark originality can come from limited technical know-how and bags of imagination, and despite how much their name is banded around today, EIOH are one of a few nearing such unapologetic greatness.There’s four tracks proper here, which still clang and strain, tumbling along to rickety drums, but structurally and harmonically the evolution of EIOH is scoff free.
“We did a photo shoot once and we didn’t like it,” said ECSR’s guitarist to L&Q, back in April. “We don’t do them now.” Defiantly DIY, the Melbourne nocollar, no-fi garage foursome have - despite shirking most promo opportunities, recording their albums over 24 hours and playing gigs in alleyways - become quite a name back home. And not because lead singer Brendan Huntley insists on wearing gloves as a ‘security blanket’.This, their second album (packaged with their debut as a bonus disc), somehow earned them an ARIA nomination (the Aussie equivalent to the Brit Awards). Not a huge surprise as ‘Primary Colours’ hones their simple take on The Feelies,The Troggs and The Zombies with scorching swagger and skeletal panache. A triumph for go-fuck-yourself.
Wild Beasts Two Dancers (Domino) By Polly Rappaort. In stores Aug 3
“This is a booty call – my boot up your asshole” - Violent coffee-spewing moment. It’s not that the lyrics on this record are particularly shocking – brazen, certainly, and quite graphic but not on a latte-spraying level - except that they are delivered in that voice. Hayden Thorpe’s perfectly rounded “ooo”, clipped consonants and tremulously elastic falsetto would make any statement sound absurd, like the Queen recounting the orgy One attended the other night at which One glassed One’s dealer in the face. With a level of bravado similar to the energy of the album,Thorpe boasts, “It is a galvanised Wild Beasts playing streamlined and sultry. It is Wild Beasts as the ugly duckling now
grown graceful and full. It is Wild Beasts as you have never heard us before.”This is a swaggering overstatement and amusingly apt, capturing the essence of the band’s current sound that indeed has been slicked back somewhat since their debut. Thorpe’s vocals are still bizarrely athletic, leaping from register to register, but the effect is less schizophrenic with fewer growls and more fluidity, the instrumentation confident, the beats less frenetic.Title track ‘Two Dancers’ is a prime example; sung in an Antony Hegarty-ish voice with drowsy guitar strains, a smouldering bass hum and an easily simmering drum beat that’s far more subdued than a majority of the skin activity on ‘Limbo, Panto’. Unfortunately you have to get through half this otherwise oddly sleazy album before you get to this track and, streamlined though it may be, if you can’t get past those vocals, you might want to skip the lot and go for a coffee. www.loudandquiet.com
The Wait is Over
Finally Punk & Proto Idiot The Stockroom, Sheffield 30.06.2009 By Kate Parkin Pics by Andy Cook >
Billed as the new flag bearers for the Riot Grrl scene, Finally Punk follow in the oestrogencharged wake of Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney, gaining admirers in the form of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Gossip with their Texan take on the Olympia Punk sound. Support tonight comes in the form of Andrew Anderson from The Hipshakes in his one-man band guise, Proto Idiot. Equal parts Jeffrey Lewis and Bob Log III, he kicks the shit out of a bass drum, spitting out barbs over ‘Live Alone’ and ‘I am Not a Man’. His anger is barely contained, his lyrics mostly unintelligible and the crowd love every minute of it. Appearances can be deceptive and Finally Punk look, to the casual observer like a gardenvariety bunch of All American girls. As singer/ drummer Stephanie Chan intones with a shy smile, “We’re Finally Punk, after all this time”. As introductions go, it’s all a bit too gosh darn cute.
‘JD Vs Gator’ soon shatters these illusions with a mess of slurred vocals and offbeat drums. Crammed onto the tiny stage the band clatter into each other, knocking over the drum kit as the pace escalates into chaos. Like a smooth Pens, they rotate effortlessly between instruments so everyone gets their turn at the front. Singer/guitarist Elizabeth Skadden uses her time to announce her relief that she’s gotten her period today; a fitting segue into ‘Pregnant’. Everyone shuffles uncomfortably as the band chatter on oblivious.This is a band who like to share, boundaries be damned. Keeping a conversational tone, the songs are littered with pop culture references about Johnny Depp and Wonder Woman alongside the difficulties of finding a decent boyfriend.There are some awkward moments when they try to describe how “Manatees are dying and shit in Florida” and when the drum kit collapses
through ‘Coffee,Tea and Misery’ they have to start all over again. Despite being an all girl band though they never descend into twee territory. Rushing with Ritalin-induced energy, singer/drummer Veronica Ortuño gets gradually more pumped up with each song. So much so that she dispenses with her top, clad only in black bra as she screeches “What the Fuck?!” over the opening bars of ‘Missile’.The inevitable cries of “Get yer bra off!” from lairy hecklers at the back slightly knock her off her stride as she powers onto the finish line. Their intro into ‘Penguin’ borrows from the 90’s Punk band of the same name – “You say this is Generation X.We are Generation Fuck You!”With their irreverent approach to shambolic punk rock they couldn’t have put it better.
Deerhoof The Scala, Kings Cross 01.07.2009 By Edgar Smith Pics by Kelda Hole ▼
When the crowd finally disperse, one particularly satisfied customer turns to tell his friend “there’s almost no point in seeing any other band”.While the gig didn’t really justify drawing a line under this whole live music thing, the man has a point. Deerhoof, lurching with wild precision and improvisational flair through their long back catalogue of mangled cosmiche, stop-start art rock and psych, seem to have condensed decades of guitar music into an hour-long set. On record the San Franciscans are better when their entropic creativity is at least slightly focused, so it’s a relief to see them with an instrument each - a set up which they have
more than enough imagination to make exciting - swapping by the end to let Greg Saunier play guitar and sing for their cover of hippy classic ‘Going up Country’. Saunier (imagine a classically trained drummer from a lost Wes Anderson film), a mountain of drumsticks under each hand to replace those that fly away from him, makes for something of a centre piece while the others wrap colourful shapes round his beats,all surprisingly humble for such great players.The denouement comes in the form of a playfully ceremonious feedback solo in which Ed Rodriguez climbs off the stage to feedback deafeningly off of the PA-speakers, and Satomi Matsuzaki leans like ‘The Thinker’ on her bass before anointing the audience with it. She then pulls out an exceptionally cute dance for favourite ‘Panda’ and a flashing basketball for ‘Basketball Get Your Groove Back’.That this avoids being gimmicky is a testament to the way Deerhoof do things.
Stricken City The Monarch, Camden 02.07.2009 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
When you’ve not seen someone for a year, you instantly notice their changes – they’ve lived with their growing hair and/or expanding waistband, but to you it’s a sudden notable surprise; the invisible girl from school turned fitty, the rugby captain turned lardy has-been at age 17. Last we saw Stricken City they were playing the launch party of our club night, and to be fair their Slit-isms of jangling guitars and Rebekah Raa’s warbling vocals made them quite the exciting postpunk carnival band even then. But tonight – and to them it’s no doubt another day in their rank pub office – is something else: they’re far superior than before. Raa (dressed in black short shorts, feathered heals and a washerwoman head scarf – kinda like an enigmatic Sue Pollard on her way to a club via a cardio class), impishly hops around shaking a pineapple maraca, her guitarist Iain dipping his bowl cut and forming bizarre chord shapes on his Fender Jaguar – the coolest of all stringed things.Tracks like ‘Tak o Tak’ and ‘Lost Art’ were once what the band hanged their live shows on, now they’re bettered by new dubbier art rock, courtesy of new bassist Mike. Stricken City were never ‘the invisible girl’, but now their playful indie pop is impossible to ignore.
Sleepy Sun Hoxton Sq Bar & Kitchen, Hoxton 07.07.2009 By Sam Walton ▼
There’s a fair chance that Bret Constantino, lead singer of Sleepy Sun, owns a couple of Led Zeppelin DVDs and probably a full-length mirror to practise his Plant-inspired snake-hipped swagger in front of. It’s also a good bet that Rachael Williams, the band’s other vocalist and flowerpower sex kitten, has studied a few Bjork clips, given her mesmerising, shamanic stage presence. But it
doesn’t matter that the front pair’s moves are derivative, any more than it matters that Sleepy Sun’s music is deeply in debt to early 70’s psych and heavy metal.What matters is that the difference between hearing Sleepy Sun on record and seeing the same band perform live is huge – especially after their slightly tepid debut LP – and that makes for a particularly satisfying show.The pleasing discrepancy is, in part, due to volume – the band’s swampy, Sabbathy, slow-grinding riffage is doled out in such carefully measured, spaced-out rations that they sound far heavier than their album suggests. But complementing so well the aural assaults and Williams’ remarkable vocals is all the fearsome headbanging, rainbow face paint and hedonistically sexy rocking out that a plastic disc can never offer. On this evidence, Sleepy Sun are to be seen and heard.
St. Helens Spectum, Sydney, Australia 26.06.2009 By Andrew Catch ▼
“Gee whiz I hope nothing happens.There’s still money in the work till,” says the keen punter in the line ahead of me, all dressed in motorcycle gear. She has sped all the way through despicable city traffic from the inner west suburb of Summer Hill to line up in the cold for tickets to see Melbourne’s latest musical wunderkinds St Helens. Needless to say I was impressed. Being under whelmed by the support band (I forget their name, but not their dreadful vocals), I return to see St Helens take the stage – all Melbourne swagger that us poncy Sydneysiders secretly envy – and launch their understated debut record ‘Heavy Profession’.The songs are laden with laconic Melbourne phrasing: “I’m not crazy ‘bout the weather,” drawl vocalists Hannah Brooks and Jarrod Quarrell.They don’t always sing, so much as banter over one another, almost like old mates telling stories over a bar, a few pots the wiser. Perhaps www.loudandquiet.com
it’s their interplay, maybe their beanpole stature or the distortion, but there’s a little bit of a Sonic Youth type chemistry onstage. Some razor-sharp guitar work has also produced some innovative work from the rhythm section, yet you seldom lose a sense of melody. These guys sing a mighty good yarn, and are far more tactile live than in their recordings, so hopefully the best is yet to come.
Regina Spektor. Pic by SIMON LEAK
teen sheikhs Buffalo Bar, Islington 24.06.2009 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club. Pic by ELINOR JONES
The Thermals. Pic by KELDA HOLE
For our parents it was JFK and Elvis; for us, Diana and now Michael Jackson.We’ll always remember how we heard of their passing, and where we were. “Michael Jackson is DEAD!” announces Teen Sheikhs singer Andy to the Buffalo Bar, in a less than tactile manner. No one’s particularly sure of just how true such a statement can be, partly because MJ is surely immortal, but largely because Andy and his band have been enjoying a boozy evening in London. So we push the improbable to the backs of our minds as this Brighton trio begin what they will later label, “the worst show we’ve ever played.” And it is something of a mess.Void of a planned set list they charge through their fuzzy garage rock, drummer James all high elbows and heavy on cymbal crashes. Andy slurs into the mic, plays out of tune mini solos on tracks like the still brilliant ‘Cracked’ and snaps guitar strings. “Do you like our backdrop?” the singer asks, pointing at pages of last month’s Loud And Quiet that he’s stuck to the wall. A replacement guitar is found and tuned after another 3minute punk rush. And yet, this being DIY slack rock, the lack lustre technical proficiencies, drunken mumbles and Andy’s decision to – at one point – grab a pint rather than sing are somehow forgivable.Their ‘worst gig’ is still far more fun than a lot you’re likely to see right now, and it’s clear that when Teen Sheikhs are on form,
they’re as memorable as that nigh Michael Jackson died.
M83 Concorde 2, Brighton 06.07.2009 By Natan Watkeys ▼
Anthony Gonzalez, ringleader of the dream pop-esque M83, graces himself behind a keyboard decked out in bright neon lights, it like a control board from a futuristic Steven Spielberg film that never saw the light of day. Shining brightly from a dimly lit stage, the futuristic space age sounds he contorts drives the hour-long performance of epic proportions forward.The largely digitised, thick wall like sounds of songs, such as ‘Graveyard girl’ with its Technicolor-ed eighties shoegaze swirling pop, are punctuated by the organic stance of live drums and the prominent dual male/female vocals intertwining. It is at times like a full on sonic assault, the music attacking the senses, intent on beating them back into submission.Yet at other times, such as in ‘Couleurs’, this is exchanged for a lighter, shimmering pop like edge, albeit one with a very dark undercurrent. It’s here where they sound like Depeche Mode would have done if they were cryogenically frozen after ‘Violator’ and had been defrosted somewhere in the not too distant past.Though others may be trying to walk a similar path, M83 does it with a stylised panache most are lacking.
Regina Spektor Serpentine Sessions, Hyde Park 29.06.2009 By Chris Watkeys ▼
“I need a drink after this,” gushes Regina Spektor to her audience. “You guys took my breath away.” She’s referring to the incredible, overwhelmingly ecstatic reaction to each and every song in her set; I, too, have rarely seen such an extraordinary reception for an artist of her relatively modest
stature. Spektor very nearly manages to justify this nearhyperactive adulation.Though perhaps better suited to more refined venues, she proves with this performance that her music transplants well enough to a large, sweaty tent in a corner of Hyde Park. A master of the dramatic, the funny and the incomprehensible, Spektor’s real strength lies equally in the depth of her songwriting and the dynamic quality of her voice. Sat at the grand piano, bathed in blue light, on ‘Eat’ her voice, strong and idiosyncratic, soars and tumbles, scales and plunges. She could be singing about council tax banding and it would still sound sublime. Oddly then, crowd favourite, ‘On The Radio’, is awkward and disjointed, marred by a bass-heavy sound. It’s when stripped of musical impurities that Spektor really shines; the unsullied piano and vocal clarity of ‘Samson’ is spinetinglingly majestic. It’s the artist, not the audience, who is really breathtaking tonight.
Alice Gun Old Blue Last, Shoreditch 06.07.2009 By Danny Canter ▼
Another night at the Old Blue Last, no doubt with just 8 others who will later vow that this time the disappointing band and grotty interior served as one humiliation too far. Like last week, we definitely won’t be back, thank you. No more will we stand under that weird dusty chandelier! But then the black syrup we’re supping (Coke, apparently) takes a tumble in our disbelief as we reach the pub’s top floor.There are people here! Lots. And the stage isn’t its usual gloomy void but a chasms covered in fairy lights and giant butterflies.What’s more, Alice Gun, a slight-of-frame porcelain pixie who’s classically trained to charm Bat For Lashes beauty out of most instruments invented, tonight launches new single ‘The Swimmer’ with a tough assertiveness that has us edging underneath the chandelier to get a
closer look.The single itself is all mad tuning up from Gun’s band, before touting smoky blues and delicate folk, like Polly Harvey at her most seductive.There’s an acoustic chug of rhythmic toys that sounds like ‘Come Together’, and the hushed gypsy folk glock(enspiel)-popping ‘Minty Fresh’, which is a soothing Lupen Crook-esque number. Forget swearing off the Old Blue, once ‘Mute’ ends in a Kate Bush tantrum, we’re begging the landlord if we can move in.
Victorian english Gentlemen’s club The Lexington, Angel 06.07.2009 By Polly Rappaport ▼
The stage has been laboriously decked out with an array of paraphernalia including fairy lights, a telephone receiver mic, a blacklight and bunches of synthetic flowers lashed to almost every available surface.The overall effect is somewhere between a kid’s birthday party, a rave and Nirvana’s quite brilliant 1993 MTV Unplugged session. Unfortunately, the visually jarring stage is set to house an aurally jarring performance and Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club rise to the occasion.They open their set with Louise (bass) and Steph (guitar) repeatedly blurting a squawked phrase about swimming pools while Adam sings over the top - in every sense - with his peculiar, Jennifer Gentle-like treble. From there they branch off into a variety of stompy beats, sometimes with heavy bass or squealing/jangling guitar while new single ‘Parrot’ introduces a twangy sound. It’s a schizophrenic hodgepodge of lo-fi indie quirkiness and after a while it’s just plain tedious: the squeaky girly-punk voices start to grate, the hiccupping falsetto of the frontman becomes annoyingly twee, the energetic drum beats tiresome. VEGC’s musical set could have been a few songs shorter and their stage set a lot less extravagant. And there was no need for that strobe light at the end.
The thermals Cargo, Shoreditch 23.06.2009 By Matthias Scherer ▼
What are The Thermals doing wrong? Very little, you might think – their last album ‘Now We Can See’ was eagerly awaited and lovingly received, and with their reputation for being an entertaining, sweat-inducing band preceding them, the stage is set for a no prisoner conquest of one of London’s finest venues.Yet their set at Cargo tonight is punctuated by, albeit hardly grave, bum notes. Not literally, mind – you would be hard pressed to see a more accurate definition of “tightness” looking at a picture of Faris Badwan’s favourite jeans. No, it’s little moments like the uncharacteristically drab and bumbling opener ‘Returning to the Fold’, or the way drummer Westin Glass, during the intro to the ultimate party-punk-anthem ‘Pillar of salt’, wildly gestures to the crowd as if to say “Get off your bums, you lazy sods!” that point to the fact that the immediate connection between band and fans isn’t always there. But when it is, it’s like pushing your sweat-drenched hand into a power socket, only more fun. ‘Here’s your Future’ sees heads banging, and bassist Kathy Foster provides some pleasingly punchy backing vocals to ‘I let It Go’. A perfect set? No. But there’s not much wrong with it either.
The Hipshakes The Harley, Sheffield 24.06.2009 By Kate Parkin ▼
This is The Hipshakes last gig in Sheffield for a while.The crowd are a motley assortment of friends, local types and hangers on. Sounding like Jonathan Richman on fast forward, the pace is relentless – ‘Ok Alright’ and ‘You Make Me Malfunction’ pass in a flurry of volleyed vocals. Drummer Bruce Sargent repeatedly flings his drumsticks skywards in the heat of the moment, yet miraculously
doesn’t miss a beat. As the frantic thrashings of ‘I Want You Around’ reach their peak, singer Andrew Anderson jerks as if midway through electro-shocks therapy, moving so fast his face becomes a blur, tearing into the vocals while trying to ingest the microphone. Dragging the final song out beyond their usual regulation 3minute mark, Andrew polishes it off by crashing headlong into the drumkit and taking out Bruce with it. For a while they writhe about in a tangle of limbs as Dan Russell drags out the fuzz on the bass. For all the solo synth girls and postKlaxon disco boy, tonight is proof once again that punk rock never dies, just quietly rumbles underground, constantly. In the new form of bands like The Hipshakes, perhaps it’s ready to spew forth and take over again.
YOUVES The Stockroom, Sheffield 27.06.2009 By Kate Parkin ▼
Youves reputation precedes them. Having seen their wild-eyed, sweat-drenched performance at Live in Leeds, I huddle next to the bar for safety’s sake. Lead singer Stephen Broadley firmly positions himself in the middle of the crowd and whacks his cowbell until all eyes are on him.These selfproclaimed ‘baby-faced as-sass-ins’ are the new darlings of the Skinsloving indie disco scene. Shirts soon dispensed with, ‘Bigorexics’’s “Control and testosterone” lyrics sum things up, the latter being present in abundance. Juddering riffs fire out at teeth-rattling volume as the band bounce around the stage. And though Stephen’s posturing borders on the ridiculous, he does harbour a real ability to bait the crowd. Everything comes together during ‘My Brain Is Jassive’ as the vocals indelibly fuse into the seething backing track. Comparisons to The Rapture are not unjustified and more than once ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’ springs unprompted into my head.The beat is catching though, and as guitarist Alex
Wiezak makes a dash for the drums, Stephen stands aboard the speakers, lording it over the jerking crowd below. As ‘Aladdin’s Rave’ hurtles towards its explosive conclusion it’s difficult to not be won over.They may be young and rammed to the gills with E numbers, but they’ll sure show you a good time, at least until the next season of Skins starts.
The NEAT The Macbeth, Hoxton 11.07.2009 By Mandy Drake ▼
Dark wavers,The Neat have trudged from Hull to be here this evening and yet a bit of damp has meant us spoilt southerners are mostly tucked up at home while their bile-gobbing punk is delivered at an alarming rate.The drums trip up themselves as ‘Fruits’ hums like a doodlebug and singing bassist Mez yaps/barks like an unimpressed John Lydon. It’s Untitled Musical Project one minute and The Fall (or XX Teens, at least) the next, thanks to ‘Ode To Joy’’s spoken ramblings.Well worth getting a little soggy for!
The low Anthem Union Chapel, Angel 23.06.2009 By Chris Watkeys ▼
The Union Chapel is a beautiful old church, which demands from its pew-seated audience an atmosphere of perfect reverence; this venue is one that can mercilessly expose the flaws, as well as amplify the greatness of the bands that play within it.The Low Anthem accept the responsibility with a set of quiet, harmonic beauty.These three obscenely talented multi-instrumentalists from Rhode Island deal in a folksy, bluesy blend of Americana, and in this environment it shines. ‘Ticket Taker’, from their new record, has the ragged subtlety of a Bon Iver song sung by Conor Oberst after too many Marlboros, while ‘This
God Damn House’ combines a dirge-like organ, clarinet, and vocals which soar, swell, and touch the soul. Singer Ben Knox Miller’s voice is remarkable. Here a luminous falsetto, there a gravelrough burr, now an air-shredding blues howl. For the band do straight-ahead blues rock pretty well too – ‘The Horizon Is A Beltway’ is fiery, raw and raucous, snapping the audience out of their mesmerised stillness. For the most part though, the trio give us gentle waves of sound, delicately layered, beautifully crafted and wonderfully inventive. It’s a great show in a perfect venue - all rise and get high for The Low Anthem.
Why? Audio, Brighton 07.07.2009 By Nathan Westley ▼
Why? frontman Yoni enters onto the stage, looking like a geeky, bespectacled science graduate with hands grasped like devil horns. It would normally be enough to get people cowering in embarrassment except Why? are preaching to the already long converted.What follows could be loosely described as the type of leftfield hip hop that ‘proper indie kids’ take to, even if it is sometimes only to help prove their diverse tastes and score them some much sought after hipster points.Yet to fully lump Why? into this credibility-seeking bracket would be wrong – the appeal and the eclectic nature of their work stretches far beyond such narrow confines.Tonight, word after glorious word of free thinking prose that eschews the now traditional hip hop subjects of bitches, guns and money, are spewed out over a fully fleshed out, eclectic musical backing. Comparisons could be drawn to Beck in the magpie like way genre’s are delicately picked apart, the best bits of folk, electronica, hip hop and indie rock are taken and then spliced together to form something wholly original. Musically and lyrically diverse, Why? knocks down doors others are afraid to even go near. www.loudandquiet.com
by Dean driscoll
Left trailing: The powers of the cinematic promo
Sam Rockwell in Moon
Cinema Preview With the exception of the awful-looking GI Joe (released 7th August), which seeks to pull off the Transformers trick of turning a toy-line into a movie franchise, only cheaper, with the Matalan Michael Bay (Stephen Sommers, of Van Helsing ‘fame’), CG effects by Lidl and a cast of C-list jobbing actors who are probably just grateful for the payday, this month sees a slew of alternatives to the big-budget blockbuster fair already dominating cinemas. The offerings available range from a dependable, by-the-numbers thriller fare from Tony Scott (The Taking of Pelham 123, July 31st), to G-Force’s CG guinea pigs as voiced by Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz and Sam Rockwell (also July 31st), to graphic sex and genital mutilation in Lars Von Trier’s fun-for-all-thefamily caper Antichrist, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg (July 23rd). The Proposal fills the romcom hole with the standard mediocre fare raised slightly by the presence of two charismatic leads in Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock (July 22nd) and The Blue Brothers gets a re-release to show those modern action directors how car chases really should be done – all set, of course, to one of the all time great soundtracks (July 24th). With the Antichrist dividing Cannes’ audiences right down the middle - just as you’d expect from Von Trier, who revels in extracting extreme reactions (his latest has been declared as either brilliant or reprehensible) - it’s been a UK production that’s since been gathering its own momentum with great word of mouth buzz. Directed and co-written by Duncan Jones, Moon (July 17th) is the best British sci-fi since
Danny Boyle’s ambitious, if only slightly flawed, Sunshine. Born Zowie Bowie (yes, that Bowie) Jones has made no bones about the fact that his debut is indebted to the classic sci-fi of the 60’s and 70’s – 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris and Silent Running are all notable influences, in everything from its existential angst to set design. As BBC critic Mark Kermode so forcefully argues in his appraisal of the movie, Moon harks back to a time when sci-fi was about ideas, rather than explosions. Star Wars brought an end to that era at the close of the 70’s, and with the odd exception – Ridley Scott’s Alien for example – it has remained ever thus. As fantastic as the Star Trek reboot was, even that drew the fanboy’s ire for being more about action than ideas. Moon stars one of Hollywood’s most engaging and reliable leading men in Sam Rockwell, who has consistently shown in films such as Welcome To Collinwood and Choke that he can raise even average production into more enjoyable territory.That wouldn’t appear to be the case here though, served as he is by an excellent script that – whilst it may be indebted to them – doesn’t merely end up as a pastiche of older sci-fi, bringing to the table a few ideas of its own.The Bowies have brought some magic to the cinema once more and the Thin White Duke’s son didn’t even need to use his dad’s name or borrow those tights from Labyrinth to do it.
This month’s cinema highlights: 17th July: Moon 23rd July: Antichrist,The Blues Brothers 31st July: G-Force,The Taking of Pelham 123
Awful movie trailers are nothing new, but for those who enjoy the art of a well put-together promo, the “Forthcoming Attractions” can be one of the most enjoyable parts of going to the cinema – just as much for the bad trailers as the good ones.You can get excited about the ones that look most promising, and you can laugh at the bad ones, safe in the knowledge that you’re now better informed as to not waste time or money on seeing GI Joe. An uncannily large amount of trailers are terrible, and they usually fall into two groups. Most are lumbered with terrible source material that no amount of turdpolishing, comedy record-scratches or ominously-intoned voiceovers can redeem. Sometimes seeing the trailer is all you ever need – could the full movie of Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus ever hope to compete with its infamous trailer? It’d be the equivalent of stretching a Knock-knock joke out for 45 minutes. Even worse are the other kind, the ones that let a good movie down.This often happens with those that lay out the entire narrative, complete with plot spoilers. For example, the trailer for In Bruges was woeful – making that cleverly-scripted, original black comedy look like a bad Guy Ritchie knock-off, complete with Ralph Fiennes ripping off Ben Kingsley’s turn in Sexy Beast. It’s arguable that the trailer worked, given the movie’s success, but it still felt like the film was being shortchanged. So, having established these two kinds of awful promos, into which of these groups does the trailer for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds belong? Is it just a badly put together trailer that misrepresents the movie and makes Tarantino look like he has now completely run out of ideas? Or is the film just a pile of shit, unable to benefit from any amount of movieland Mr Muscle? The early reviews are decidedly mixed – and given how eager most critics are to laud anything QT does as genius, that does NOT bode well. In fact we’re probably better off watching the Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus clip on Youtube again.
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party wolf Photo Casebook“I’m bad (taste)”
Oi Rod, all this business about Jackson dying, does it make you wish you’d died at your peak; before people started calling you a nonce?
Well, yeah, it does a bit. If I’d died when The Faces were going I’d be a legend. Luckily, MJ snuffed it before he did anything dodgy. The man died a saint.
Things have gone a bit quiet for you recently, haven’t they, Cancer? You’re feeling like a crusty old git, all washed up and as hostile as your zodiac animal. Indeed, a manky old crab is probably getting more action than you these days.You’ve got to motivate yourself to get out there and get back into the swing of life. Now that the moon has left your cycle, like a big white house disappearing out of sight, you find yourself at an all time low. And as Jupiter enters your sign you’ll be feeling as gassy as the fat planet too. A bad month is ahead. I’ll tell you right now though, Cancer, you’re my least favourite horoscope - you’re a bloody crab with the same name as a horrific disease.
Celebrity twitter See! Famous people are normal, just like us
Steady on mate, I don’t think you’d have ever been considered a legend. My girl’s been so upset about the whole thing she’s had me dressed up like MJ in the bedroom!
About to go on air! *MASSIVE gurn* The pants are a write off but I’m too rich to care! *MADDEST FACE EVER PULLED!!!!* about 1 hours ago from device
OMG! Eviction show tonight. Have you voted yet? I HAVE! How mad am I??! *lolzzz* Note to sell: try not to piss knickers on air like last week, however exciting it gets! Crazy! about 6 hours ago from device
Just had a right ‘ol flirt WITH GEORGE LAMB!!! He smells of cod but I don’t care, right gals? Phwoarr!!! *Excited*
Think we’ll definitely have to wash that white glove now babe
Phwoarrr! You jammy git PW!
about 6 hours ago from device
I miss Bubble. They don’t make them like they used to! *GURN* about 8 hours ago from device
On my way to work... just double dropped
The Slits / MAZES / Bo Ningen / Let’s Wrestle / Crocodiles / Not Cool / Young Athletes Leagues